The Times that Buy Men's Souls
(From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley)

The chicken hawks who clucked and glared for war
Have bastardized their ornithology
And now these clipped capons claim they want more

Of all those things that they have had for free:
Our billions and our blood to make a mess,
A feckless fuck-up for the world to see,

Which they intend to trumpet as success
Or else drag out until the sun grows old
So they can leave the stage and not confess

To all the theft that tales have ever told
Or all the murders sticking to their hands
Which they’ll deny until the stars are cold.

Their scrawny sinews strong as rubber bands,
Stretch tight to snap as justice now demands.

The times that buy men’s souls do not produce
Those wooden ships and iron men who sail
But tend with limpid leisure to induce

A pallid pompous pride in princes pale:
Aristocratic Ahabs who set course
To wind up in the belly of a whale.

Like Reagan riding backwards on his horse
They spend our money first then borrow more,
And let the future scream, “Stop, thief!” till hoarse,

Too late to stop the looting of the store.
The country on the auction block now goes
To pay for shattered, splintered bones galore:

A tide of reddish ink and blood that flows;
“Insurgents” growing strong in their last throes.

Careerism let loose to bow and bend
Like Vietnam corrupts the very soul
Of armies built to run around the end

But sent to dig and then defend a hole
While somewhere up the chain Great Leader spawns
Grim groupies groping up the greasy pole.

Responsibility devolves to pawns
Who shoulder heavy loads with stoic grace
While sprints, once started, morph to marathons

Unending runs designed to save some face.
They’ve little but their own careers at stake
So best for them a journey not a race.

With butter gone and only guns to bake
They stoop to say that we should eat more cake.

The summer sunshine salesmen proudly pose
Soliciting subservience on cue,
And pledge allegiance to whomever chose

To pay what they consider as their due:
A tiny tithe to tide them over times
Till they can fleece the flock that has no clue

About the nature of the shearing crimes
That prey on innocence naïve and blind.
A leper’s bell that fear and loathing chimes

To warn of something stumbling up behind:
Leviathan whose mighty manic rage
Now fuels a sloppy schizophrenic mind

Ignoring all advice from wisdom sage:
A needless, noxious plague upon an age.

Michael Murry, "The Misfortune Teller," Copyright 2006-2010