". . . there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things, because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along with them." -- Machiavelli, The Prince

The Muddled Ages
(with gratitude to Anthony Burgess for his verse-novel Byrne)

Polemic couched in poetry requires
No Introduction laying out The Plan.
The title’s pointed paradox aspires
To motivate the woman, child, or man
Equipped to grasp the tortured soul’s desires:
Put out the fire, or conflagration fan.
Chaos and confusion make things muddy.
Anarchy can quickly turn them bloody.

But such complicity marks Empire’s Age
That hurls commands to ‘Pay up!’ then to ‘Die!’
Mask-wearing politicians kneel on stage,
Though joint resort vacations give the lie
To their professed hostility. The rage
Of unemployed infected proles, they sigh,
Owes to those “leftists,” not those further “right”:
Play-acting pugilists who’ve faked a “fight.”

The witch (accused) screams “No I’m not!” then burns,
A euphemism for “those Russian bitches,”
Imprisoned for “legitimate concerns,”
The use of scapegoats scratches fascist itches.
The Congress pays their donors, then adjourns,
And blames the graft on “hacked” computer glitches.
In helplessness, the put-upon ask "Huh?
Senile Joe Biden? Deus ex Machina?"

The Muddled Ages now. Collapse beginning
With, first of all, two-thousand-sixteen’s “choice”
Of Pillory or Pompous, two frauds grinning,
Their siren song sung with a single voice.
Neither at all convinced that war means sinning.
Genetic gentry, both kill and rejoice
At Power’s perks, both risible and crass,
Like two cheeks of a mule’s or horse’s ass.

The protonymic “Chronic Argonaut,”
So-called by H. G. Wells before perfecting
The Time Machine’s Victorian theme and plot,
Might serve, as well, to label those selecting,
From times gone past, a living corpse who’s not
Named Trump: Joe Biden, ballot mark rejecting
The person they don’t want and blame on Putin.
Their man? Let’s just say, “Hardly Isaac Newton.”

But Wells got things ass-backwards in his story
Supposing that, in time, the ruling class,
Would morph into the Eloi, Morlock quarry,
Or food for working stiffs who once ate grass.
Instead proles vote Republican (or Tory);
For Democrats, with tits and balls of brass,
Who promise to “resist” along with “darkie”
While serving up rapacious oligarchy.

No new thing has a chicken’s chance. No change
Will come from movements led by those imbued
With jaded jargon slogans that estrange
More than convert. How easily unglued
Their “sticking power,” once the rich arrange
To fund their “fighting” flag, a yellow-hued
Co-opted symbol, like some words spray-painted
On everything, which leaves Maoism tainted..

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2020