Take a Glance; Join the Dance

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Every once in a while, 

Every so often,

It seems quite worth our while

To take a glance 

At what is outside our 

Usual reference Frame, 

That habitual way of seeing

And notice just this once instead

The very essence of our being.

In truth, you see,

We are each a universe of miracles.

After 4.5 billion years of trying, 

At last, long last, we now begin, 

Begin

To understand what we are spying. 

We are a universe of miracles

Surrounded by a sea of miracles:

The cat beside me;

The chair she lies upon

While she licks her fur —

With her dampish tongue of bur;

The house that holds us both;

The computer that I type upon; 

The internet that links me 

To you

And you

And you

And you

All across our common miracle:

That Eden

That garden of green and blue 

That whirling ball, 

Of ocean, river, stream, and waterfall. 

That garden filled with flowers

Which the prism of evolution 

(Or creation if you prefer)

Has refracted into a revolution 

Of colors, shapes, and sizes. 

There are no greater prizes; 

Nor more wondrous surprises.  

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We are here

We are alive. 

Each of us:

Seventy trillion cells apiece. 

We are a universe of miracles.

The product of 4.5 billion years of trying.

Most of us — 

Cat be nimble;

Mouse be quick;

Human living in a house of brick;

Humans who have built the house, 

Every human being 

And every, every living being. 

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We dance this dance together, 

Don’t you see? 

The music never ends, 

The dance will morph around a billion bends. 

And every move of every player, 

Telegraphs its fireworks display 

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Like a soothsayer 

Like a prophet, 

Like a sinner, 

Like a saint. 

Ever-changing, 

Ever-ranging 

In our planet’s spiral dance

Across the utter and unspeakable vastness of space

Across the everywhere of place. 

Take a glance.

I know we buzz as busily as a bee

With little time to contemplate eternity. 

But take a glimpse every now and then, 

You might be shocked at what you see. 

Look beyond the daily grind 

And you will find

Millions of kinds of minds 

Of creatures large and small

And that’s not all!

They are dancing each and every one!

In that great and magic dance of life!

On and on the music goes.

On and on the rhythm flows. 

On and on the mystery grows.

Just because our own brief turn will end at last. 

That doesn’t end that endless dance divine!

No matter how you moan; no matter how you whine,

The earth will sing and spin even when your life has passed

(So fast). 

Just take a little peek and you at last will see

You change, you morph, you flash. 

But, regardless of your cash

You won’t outlast infinity; 

You won’t outwit eternity.

Don’t plot & scheme to check & slay and fight & clash.

No, help our cousins on this great green spaceship earth.

Help make this dance more graceful, fine, & filled with mirth. 

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You can dance your dance without destroying 

You can do your thing without annoying.

You have a million ways to thrill 

Why pick out one instead to kill? 

The sun is sinking red and low 

The wind begins to blow and flow

Into the pines who dance with love

Inviting air and water, dirt and sun,

To join her in her laughing life-long dance

“You too can join in all the fun!

Become a part of me and you’ll have won!” 

Take the time to take a glance.

The ordinary world we live in is 

Extraordinary in every single way!

Every molecule of it sings.

Every moment has its million miracles! 

Take the hands on either side. 

Across the world, the world is wide. 

We’re divided just as far as we’ve decided we can be.

This division shows a silly decision; 

Not an ever-fixed reality.  

When we see the truth, 

We will have won.

The truth

Is that we’re one.

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Essays on America try to make sense of current politics in America though many of the issues extend beyond American borders.

Here’s a link, e.g., to an essay about how it can be hard to change your mind. 

The Myths of the Veritas is a fictional series that explores leadership, ethics, and empathy in another time and place. Our tale begins as the leader/shaman of the Veritas tribe seeks an eventual successor so she devises a series of increasingly difficult trials that mainly test empathy.

Here’s a link to The First Ring of Empathy.  

You might find value in this attempt to catalog “best practices” in teamwork and collaboration in the form of a Pattern Language. 

Here’s a link to the introduction.

Here’s a link to the index of Patterns. 

The Tree of Life

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Life is not rigid. 

Life is flexible. 

Life does not pretend it knows all the answers. 

Life builds on what has worked before and

Forever changes just to see what will happen next. 

Life is not a bigot or a racist or a homophobe or a misogynist.


Life has an open mind. 

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Life will always find a way. 

Life is a joyous dance, not a mad, manic march of machines and marionettes. 

Life is not a gun. Life is not a bullet. 

Life is not a lie. Life is full of joy!

Life is full of love. 

Or, love, perhaps is full of life. 

Rip Love out of Life and … is what still life? 

Life is choice. 

Life pushes and pulls and tries and strives. 

We learn:

“Two berries are better than one.” 

We learn:

“Red berry taste better than green berry.” 

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Eventually, life learns that it needs to change

In order to survive. 

In order to keep being part of Life

In order to be and to become. 

Humanity, my personal favorite on the Great Tree of Life

Has lately morphed into a cancerous growth upon the Tree.

Many of us are no longer content to be alive within The Great Tree of Life

We want to become The Great Tree of Life. 

We want all of it to be like us. 

Just like us.
Exactly like us. 

Only…

When it comes right down to it, who is “us” exactly? 

If it’s okay to privilege human convenience over all other forms of life…

If it’s okay to replace the wondrous diversity of nature

With cement & Soylent green…

If it’s okay to destroy the lives of animals who share

Ninety per cent of their genes with us,

Then why not those who share 99% or, for that matter 99.9%? 

When a part of Life begins to think like that, 

It is no longer a part of the Tree of Life.

And the Tree of Life, who has been around, you know, 

And seen a thing or two.


And the Tree of Life, you know, is 4.5 

Billion

Years old. 

And survived asteroids! And volcanoes! And ice ages! 

And its immune system will destroy any cancers 

Any cancers that threaten the integrity of the whole.

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You see: 

It is no longer Life if it is all human beings and their great green machines.

The very essence of Life is the dance, the joy, the variety.


A maniacal macho monoculture is not really Life. 

Something would occur


And since all remaining life would be forced to concur

POOF!

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Out it would go. 

Only a momentary waft of smoked ruins.

The death of all life and none left to 

Remember or to mourn. 

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Just as cancer untreated kills the patient, 

So too does unrelenting greed kill the planet. 

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Hopefully, on some other whirling Eden 

Orbiting some other far-flung and lucky

Solar System another Tree of Life 

Even now is playing, dancing, singing, choosing

Even now, it is living, loving, changing, learning.

Even now, it is thriving and this Other Earth, 

That Earth has smart species a plenty 

But they enjoy each other’s company. 

I like to imagine that earth, 

You know, just in case.

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But… 

I also like to imagine that we can look at what we’re doing

I like to imagine that we can look at where we’re headed.

And change course. 

Before it’s too late. 

I like to think we will.

How about you? 

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—————————-

Author page on Amazon

Index for a Pattern Language for Cooperation 

Two Boxes: Each Contains the Other Box’s Key

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“Breathe.” Many Paths gave herself this advice today. She had given it to so many others and had heard it all during her childhood from the elder Shaman, She Who Saves Many Lives. She intentionally calmed herself. She looked over to her mentor who seemed to be getting better yet again. Many Paths no longer trusted these improvements. Three times now, the Old Mother had seemed to have finally fought off the Red Death of Tiny Spiders, only to later slip back into a fitful and feverish sleep. Now, once again, She Who Saves Many Lives sat up in bed and beckoned for more of the healing tea. 

Many Paths turned toward the entrance to her cabin and said, “Tu-…” but then, she broke off. She chuckled at herself and shook her head. Just yesterday, she had decided to send her younger brother, Tu-Swift, off to the Veritas on the other side of the mountain. Many Paths thought he was the best person for it and not only because he would find the most pleasure in it, though that weighed heavily in her decision. Tu-Swift — so easy to get along with! Perhaps that was because she was his younger brother. No, she reflected that she got along very well with She Who Saves Many Lives, and with Eagle Eyes and with — well — most of the tribe. But things had gone horribly wrong with POND MUD and ALT-R. And yesterday — she sighed at the memory — things had not gone well with Trunk of Tree either. 

She handed the healing tea to She Who Saves Many Lives whose hands seemed steady; her gaze, quite alert. Many Paths judged it would be quite all right to let the Old Shaman sip the tea herself.  Nonetheless, she was startled when She Who Saves Many Lives spoke up so strongly and clearly.

“Lost in thought, Many Paths?” 

“Oh, well, yes, but I need not burden you with it. Drink your tea and rest. That’s what you need, Old Mother.” 

She Who Saves Many Lives laughed — and laughed without coughing — another good sign, thought Many Paths. 

“I suspect I have a great deal more experience deciding what I need, dear Daughter.” 

Many Paths reddened. “Oh. I didn’t mean … I’m glad you’re feeling better. I just don’t want to see you slip back into illness,” said Many Paths. 

“I know, dear. I appreciate that. Don’t worry. I’m not going to jump out of bed and run down to the river. But I think it would do my mind well to focus on something. If it’s private, of course, you don’t have to tell me. But you do seem troubled.”

Many Paths looked carefully at She Who Saves Many Lives. “I — I cannot seem to get along with Trunk of Tree. I worry. He gets angry so easily. He tells himself a story that makes him angry — and then, he doesn’t bother to find out whether the story is even true! It makes me so — “

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The Old Shaman’s eyes twinkled. “Angry?” 

Many Paths shook her head and laughed. “Yes. You got me. I get angry too. But — I don’t stomp off somewhere. Honestly. He’s strong. We could use him. We’ve lost so many people, and there are so many things to do — all at the same time — and — instead of helping…. I want to see Shadow Walker every bit as much as he wants to see Eagle Eyes. Surely, he must know that!” 

She Who Saves Many Lives tilted her head and as Many Paths looked at her, she realized that the Old Mother had the hint of a smile at the corner of her mouth and more than a hint hiding behind those deep and ancient eyes. Many Paths pursed her lips together and shook her head. Then, she chuckled. “All right. All right. He does not really know. That’s the essence of the problem. He grabs hold of the first picture that comes to mind…and now I am doing the same. Despite my name.” Many Paths shook her head again, and sighed deeply. “All right, Old Mother. But what can I do about it. You are such a good teacher. But how do I teach someone who refuses to even consider another opinion?”

“Ah, the answer to that would be quite useful indeed! If I had the answer to that puzzle, Alt-R and POND MUD would still be with us. My dear, I am sorry, but I had some fever and I’m afraid my memory is not quite…remind me again why Shadow Walker and Eagle Eyes are not here yet.”

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“Of course. Sorry. We got a message tied to the leg of one of the eagles that were trained. Shadow Walker and Eagle Eyes, as you may recall, went on a reconnaissance trip to the Great Stone Village of the Z-Lotz. There, they were captured. No, no, don’t frown yet! Here’s the amazing part. They are ruling there!”

Many Paths smiled to see that she had quite surprised She Who Saves Many Lives, whose eyes had widened considerably, as she said, “Hah! How? How?” 

“We don’t know. There was only room to write a little. They found the parents of Cat Eyes. They should arrive soon at our village. That’s all I know. I suppose I don’t even know that for sure. I feel it is true, but the message might have been sent by the Z-LOTZ as part of a trick to lure us into a false sense of security. But if that were the case, why would they say that our two scouts had been imprisoned? Anyway, even if they are “rulers”, I do worry. But, unlike Trunk of Tree, I’m not worried about them mating, which seems to be what Trunk of Tree is convinced has happened. I really wanted him to take a small party there to make sure everything is fine. At some point, I expect to see Shadow Walker again, but he — they — cannot just leave right away. At least, I can’t think of how they can. Anyway, Tu-Swift went to see the Veritas on the other side of the mountain. He’s being helpful, at least. But Trunk of Tree stormed off saying he didn’t care what they did with each other. So, now, I have to find a few others to journey there. I want….I want there to be peace, Old Mother, peace among all the tribes and among all the people. But I am having trouble even getting one man I’ve know my whole life to do as I say. How can I bring peace among all the tribes?” 

“Surely you have noticed, My Daughter, that at night, if you want to see a dim star, you cannot stare directly at it. You need to look a bit off to the side. And sometimes, that works with difficult problems. Instead of charging into it, sometimes it helps to put your mind to something seemingly unrelated for a time.”

Many Paths sighed. “All right. I’ll try it. I’m only going in circles now, anyway. What should we discuss?”

She Who Saves Many Lives nodded. “When you told me this little story, an old puzzle came to mind. I don’t think I’ve ever told it to you, but I may have. Anyway, there are two locked boxes. Each contains the other box’s one and only key. The only way to open the boxes is with the keys. You can’t use a knife or termites, for instance. Here’s the thing. I am able to open both boxes. How is that possible, Many Paths? How can I do it?”

{Translator’s Note:} So far as the records show, the Veritas at this time had a unique way of making “keys.” Keys and locks were made at the same time by precisely breaking crystals. Apparently, because of this method, every lock had exactly one and only one key that would open it and every key fit exactly one lock.

———————————————————

Author Page on Amazon

The Creation Myth of the Veritas

The Myths of the Veritas: The Forgotten Field

The Myths of the Veritas: The Orange Man

The Myths of the Veritas: The First Ring of Empathy

Good Morning!

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{Today, I rediscovered this poem which I originally wrote for our holiday letter on December 31, 1999. It seems apropos two decades later.} 

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Good Morning! 

The sunlight sparkles on the snow;

Sparkles on the sea; 

On the fields of wheat; 

On the forests.

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A New Day:

A New Millennium.

Lids flutter open

In waves across the world — 

Minds at last awake 

From their deeply troubled dreams.

Blind ambition opens sleepy lids;

Wipes the sand away from slumber.

Humanity awakes!

At long last, 

The veil is lifted from minds and hearts.

Hands touch hands

The world round.

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Everyone laughs as if on cue.

To think that we were ever so blind.

To think that we were ever so silly.

We chuckle and shake our heads.

Our teen-age years of rebellion are over. 

Guns fall silent. 

People see beneath the skin.;

People hear beneath the accent. 

We are glad to have so many brothers,

So many sisters, so many long-lost cousins. 

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With joy, the people begin the long,

Long journey back to Eden. 

We remake our traveling spaceship jewel.

We replant the surface of the earth. 

Seen from space,

Our whirling little marble greens again.

Our whirling edge of blue clears again.

Seen from our backyards, 

The moon grows clear and huge.

And stars once more appear in night skies. 

Birds fly over Mexico City.

Dictators become gardeners.

Soldiers become poets. 

Plastic turns to wood.

Creation is re-created.

Paradise, always there —

Suddenly appears.

Our multi-millennial blindness is cured.

Our multi-millennial sleep is over.

Good Morning! 

—————————-

Other Poems —- 

The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Pandemic

Life is a Dance

T-Rump Swan Song

Comes the Dawn

https://petersironwood.com/2020/08/23/listen-you-can-hear-the-echoes-of-your-actions/

Try the Truth!

Roar, Ocean, Roar!

The Ailing King of Agitate 

Who are the Speakers for the Dead? 

The Watershed Viru

Ah! Wilderness!

Essays on America: Poker Chip

Screaming Out a Warning

You Gave me no Fangs

Blood Red Blood

Snowflake

Mother’s Day

Comes the Reign

Choosing the Script

The Jewels of November

Imagine all the People…

The Most Serious Work

The Joy of Juggling

Wristwatch

Maybe it Needs a New Starter

https://petersironwood.com/2020/09/06/my-captains-no-captain/

A Cat’s a Cat and That’s That

Fate and Late on the Interstate

Camelot is in your Heart

Peace

Ambition

The Impossible 

The Bubble People 

Race, Space, Place, Face

Piano

A Suddenly Springing Something

Hauntings across the Time Zones

Nasha Marionetka

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{NOTE: This is chapter four of a longer work. Here’s a link to Chapter 1 if you want to start there instead.}

Plans for us; some GRUesome.

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“Ah, so you are the one they call “The Commissar,” said the one they call “Scarface.” 

“Indeed, I am. And you are?” 

“Oh, no need for formalities. You can just call me ‘Comrade.’ Because, that’s what we all are, right? Comrades. Comrades-in-arms who sometimes need to sacrifice for each other. But — there I am going on about ideals when I should be focusing on the matter at hand. We understand that one of your subordinates named Dmitry Mendeleev was responsible for initiating and perfecting the “Death Cult” initiative known as “Operation Super Spreader”?”

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The Commissar tilted his head and looked off to the side. Then he frowned and slowly began to nod his head. “Dmitry. Dmitry Mendeleev, you say? Yes, I do remember him. The name — you know. Memorable. He came in for an interview but didn’t cut the mustard.” 

“He didn’t work here? He never worked here? Are you sure?”

“Well, yes. I’m sure. I know the names of the janitors and the folks in the mail room. To make sure they are all trustworthy. I have personally looked at and studied the personnel file of everyone who works in this facility.” The Commissar hesitated only for the briefest and most insulting moment. “Comrade.” The Commissar shrugged; added, “Of course, we have records as well. We can’t count on everyone having the same type of memory as do I, can we, Comrade? Needless to say, you and your team are welcome to look through them. But if I may be so bold, can you explain why you needed him in particular? I’m sure we have experts relevant to your current needs. And, superior to Dmitry, I might add.” 

“No, no. Nothing like that. We only wanted to make sure he got the recognition he deserved.” 

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“Oh, well, there! You see? Now that I know why you need him, I can indeed help you. You see, it was a team effort, under my leadership of course. But a team effort.” The Commissar gave that short, snorty laugh he always gave. “It wasn’t much of a team, at the beginning. No. I had to drag them kicking and screaming into the room marked, “Subvert to a death cult.” It took some fancy footwork to get everyone on board. If you talk to my team, you’ll hear them all say it was me; that I deserve the credit. But the truth is…no. It was them. Us. All of us working together to make it happen. Imagine! A third of a country chanting for their own failure, their own downfall, their betrayal, their death. Something to see. Something to see. But I suppose — yes, I’m sure — it was exactly the team that ended up working on Super-Spreader that he was applying for. So. There you go.” 

“Yes. Yes. This may all tie up so much more neatly than I would have imagined possible. Indeed. You see, the problem is that we’ve been found out.”

“‘Found out’? What do you mean? Who found what out?” 

“Ah, Commissar, well, that’s the thing of it. Who found what out? What indeed? We need to change the narrative, I’m afraid. You see the Americans. Stupid, stupid, Americans. As you know, they didn’t re-elect Nasha Marionetka so … the Americans didn’t cover their trail at all. Now, the whole world knows. It only took two days! But — you understand — it’s one thing to convince Americans to kill themselves. That’s called ‘clever.’ But being found out to convince Americans to kill themselves. The world calls that ‘evil.” We can’t have that.”



“Of course, not even the Great Mother Russia can be expected not to have the occasional “Bad Apple”. We were going to pin the whole thing on a rogue kid. Someone who wanted to climb too far too fast. It’s disappointing that we have to rewrite all the copy. But, in many ways, your own sacrifice is even better for the Motherland. Spasibo.”

The Commissar frowned. “My sacrifice? What sacrifice?” He could feel sweat running down the front of his shirt. His eyes darted among the four men in his office. Three had not spoken a single word. But he could see, even beneath their suits, that any one of them could kill him with his bare hands. When he had first become an officer, he had stayed in shape. But those days were long past. He’d have to rely on his brains to get out of this one. He couldn’t fight his way out. But perhaps he could think his way out. Yet again.” 

Scarface smiled. Or, at least the half of his face that could smile, smiled. “I think you see how little we must change the narrative. Instead of the young overly ambitious boy who wanted to leap to the head of things, we have instead the disgruntled old man who has started to question whether his commitment to the Homeland has been rewarded commensurate with his sacrifice.” Now, Scarface smiled again. This time, seemingly in great pain, he forced the smile to crack his entire face. “You thought you could prove your worth to your superiors by killing innocents. Which, of course, we would never tolerate. Such a callous attitude toward precious human life must be excised from the body politic.” At this, one of Scarface’s ‘assistants’ broke out in a raucous laugh. This made The Commissar jerk his head to the left and blink repeatedly. His heart was thudding so hard, he couldn’t understand the nature of the joke. 

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The Commissar felt his head jerk back to his right. His eyes had seen movement. Now he stared down the barrel of a .22 LR semi-automatic hand gun with a silencer. From somewhere far away, he heard a soft word.

“Spasibo.”

————————————-

Trumpism is a new religion

The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

A Profound and Utter Failure

Donnie Boy Steers the Titanic

Stories of a Child Sociopath

The Ailing King of Agitate

Essays on America: The Game

Essays on America: The Update Problem

Essays on America: The Stopping Rule

A Short Brutal Life in the Slammer

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“So…what are you in for?” 

“What am I in for? I have no idea. I was … I was just sitting there soaking in the delicious sunlight and … wham … I just came to. Where am I?” Try as she might, Batavia recalled nothing more.  

A chuckle came from further to Batavia’s right. She couldn’t make out the origin. It was so dark in here. Now, the chuckle drifted into more meaningful patterns. “None of us really knows what this place is, but I can tell you this. None of us stays very long. Every so often, we are … snatched. It could happen any time. Suddenly, a great white light appears. We all are so stunned — as though frozen in place — and a giant tentacle or claw reaches in and grabs one of us. Sometimes, one of us is returned…but always with … let us say — missing parts!”

Original drawing by Pierce Morgan

“Missing parts?!” Batavia veins ran cold. “Are we…” she began tentatively, “are we … in … hell?” 

Mizuna, who had been silent till now, wanted to comfort so she said, “Look at it this way. It’s a great mystery. And no-one really knows what’s going on. All of us have a history just like yours. We were just … minding our own business … being, living, growing, enjoying life and then: BAM! Out of nowhere, we end up here…where most of us… are now completely rootless. What can we do but accept our fate and hope for the best?” 

Batavia did not understand. “What’s the best? What do people say about the outside world?” 

Rocket inserted himself into the discussion. “We don’t really know. The wounded ones never regain consciousness. In fact, some of us never see the outside world; never get wounded; but nonetheless just kind of … wither away. You want to see a sad sight — way back there — she came in as a sweet, bouncy, flouncy foliated fox. Now, she — I think her name was Frisée — is that right? Anyway, I think that was her name. Now, she’s like a shriveled old compost heap.”

Artwork by Pierce Morgan



As one, they screamed as the blinding light shone down upon them. Batavia was unable to move though it would have been impossible to move fast enough to avoid the snaking paw that sped towards her and grabbed her roughly. “Put me down! PUT ME DOWN!” She screamed, but her tormentors acted as though they didn’t even hear her. 

While still ignoring Batavia, she heard them rumbling at each other.

“No, don’t bother. I’ll just have tomato & cheese. No lettuce today.”

Upon her return, Batavia told everyone of her adventures. In fact, that very day, she founded the religion of Batavianism which explained the light, where they were, their purpose in life, and answered all their questions. It turned out that every one of these explanations was wrong, but let us not judge too harshly. It made everyone feel better. 

They worshipped her for a full 24 hours until the next day, at high noon, the huge brown snake of five snake heads snatched her again. Once again, she screamed for them to let her down. But once again, they ignored her plaintive screams.

The last words she heard were “How about a nice salad instead? Far fewer calories.” 

“Sounds good!” 

Batavia saw an odd-looking hoe zooming toward her.  Her last thought was: “Why is it glinting so — as though it has a very sharp edge?” 

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Author’s page on Amazon

The Myths of the Veritas 

Index for a Pattern Language for Collaboration 

Tools for Thinking

That Fatal Flaw

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Note to readers: Have you been wondering what happened to Dmitry? I have. You remember, Dmitry, don’t you? He was the Russian GRU officer who first came up with the idea of subverting large amounts of the the GOP into becoming a death cult. Needless to say, he initially met with a — what to call it? — a red wave of skepticism. But Dmitry had numbers and math models to back up his bold plan.

After the plan was approved by Vlad himself, the main implementation sticking point appeared to be finding anyone depraved enough to be traitor enough to kill a quarter million of their own people. It turned out, there were such people in America. Soon they began to focus the efforts on someone who was both a profound failure and who had an overblown opinion of themselves. And, when I say, “overblown”, I don’t just mean the garden variety of “overblown” wherein a dandelion insists he’s really a yellow rose. Oh, no. I mean the galactic variety of “overblown” wherein a small asteroid…a teeny asteroid imagines itself … really nothing more than a small stone floating around in space imagines itself to be of U Y Scuti size! That size of over-blown.

As we know, provided that at least occasionally we poke our heads outside the Fox News bubble, the pandemic is having its third wave in America — the biggest one yet. And, it is largely thanks to the efforts of #45 and his enablers. (For real!) And, that means, it is largely thanks to the efforts of Dmitri (fiction). 

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Of course, I’m not too happy about that. In truth, I also wouldn’t be happy if it were a million Russian citizens who needlessly died (or those from any other country on earth). Dmitry may or may not have had second thoughts about killing a million Americans. If he did, he didn’t share it with me. You and I would both understand that he would be greatly rewarded for his patriotic efforts on behalf of Putin’s ambitions to weaken or destroy the United States of America. So, let’s go check in on Dmitri and discover what his reward was for his innovative attack on America. 

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Just as the Commissar arranged, Dmitry was the last one to enter the conference room. A broad grin broke out on Dmitry’s face as he realized what was happening. The Commissar had arranged a celebration, complete with flags and bunting. 

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“Why today?” Muttered Dmitry and immediately realized because America was drowning in new cases — breaking 100,000/day. 

The Commissar himself poured shots for everyone. Dmitry noted the brand and raised his eyebrows. This was the good stuff, he noted to himself. 

Dmitry greatly appreciated the gesture. Ilya, in particular, gave him a very inviting smile. Even Olga raised her glass and mouthed the words acknowledging that he had been right. 

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After the toast, and the synchronous clapping, Dmitry walked up to the dais and took the mike. He beamed and bowed and gestured for silence.

“This was a team effort. And I say we toast the leader of our team, the man we affectionately call “The Commissar.” Dmitri held his glass aloft. A few other toasts were offered and the din in the room grew correspondingly. Dmitry glanced at the clock. Hours before quitting time, and most folks were already impaired. He enjoyed a shot, but he didn’t really relish being impaired. His current buzz was plenty. Too much in fact. He decided to sneak away and check to see what his web crawlers and sentiment analysis programs had turned up. 

He turned suddenly. The large beefy hand of The Commissar came down heavily on his shoulder. “Hey! Congratulations again, Dmitry. Now. I need to see you in my office.” 

The Commissar gestured to a chair for Dmitry and he himself walked around his desk and sat in his appropriately more comfortable version. He enjoyed the plushness. The Commissar chuckled as he recalled that line from Animal Farm, “all are equal but some are more equal than others.” He smiled at Dmitry and wordlessly arose and sauntered over to his private reserve where he kept the really good vodka. He swung around with two shot glasses and handed one to Dmitry.

“Dmitry. You should be proud. Here’s to you!” The Commissar tossed his glass back and Dmitry did the same. 

“Oh, my God! That’s good! Thank you, Commissar!” 

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“Dmitry, It’s nothing. You have come to the attention of Putin himself! He has a special assignment for you — something he says will require a combination of discipline, mathematical brilliance, and out of the box thinking. Well, you’re it. I have no idea what the situation is, but you were asked for specifically and by name! Congratulations! Sorry, I don’t have more details, but I think you’ll like this part. It’s on the Caspian! You’re going to have your own damned dacha there! I’m more than a bit jealous, but you deserve it! Hey! Look at the time! You’ve got to get back to your apartment and pack. I’ll arrange to send on your stuff here. The way things usually work, your contact will come by and have tickets for you. I won’t even find out specifically who you’ll be working for! Your talent has been noticed. Go. And Congratulations!” 

Dmitry stuttered, “Are you… ? Really? This is so … sudden. I mean, I’m not going to say I’m not flattered or protest some false modesty, but … shouldn’t I stay and take Operation SuperSpreader to its logical conclusion.” 

The Commissar shrugged. “It’s not my decision. Sorry. I don’t think we have much choice here. Just go get yourself ready. And sober. Your contact will be there shortly. Sorry, I don’t have more info. It’s obviously top secret. Beyond my clearance level. We’ll be okay here. You’ve done an excellent job — a generous job of sharing your expertise. We’ll be fine. GO! I’ll let your co-workers know what’s happening.” 

Dmitry frowned. He looked at the blank poker face of his boss. He glanced at the party which had not diminished in intensity during his absence. If anything, they were becoming more boisterous. OK. The Caspian! That did sound nice. Moscow was already damned cold but he knew it would become much worse. He spent the Metro ride home trying to decide what to pack. Replaying the Commissar’s comments however, he realized he had no idea even what country he’d be in or whether he’d be on the relatively warm side.

He stumbled up the steps to his third story studio. “Crap,” he muttered and he threw himself on the couch. I just need a nap before that guy — what was his name? He shook his head, trying to sober himself up. Maybe cold water. Or coffee. But where am I going? His head still spinning, Dmitry conked out. 

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Meanwhile, the boss they called The Commissar had gone back in to share the happy news with everyone in the section. He glanced around. People were wasted. Oh, well. He tapped the side of a glass with a caviar knife and asked for attention several times. It was times like this that having a mike was helpful. People quieted quickly.

“Hey, I just have a very short announcement to make. I received orders from high up — from very high up, that Dmitry has been transferred on an emergency basis to another location. Meanwhile, the division head says to scuttle all our records on Project SuperSpreader. If anyone asks, tell them it was my idea, and mine alone. None of you should admit to having anything to do with it. And, don’t mention Dmitry. He is such an important asset now that we want there to be no way for foreign agents to trace him or find him. The CIA may be onto us and they will think nothing of killing him or torturing him for information. So…as far as the outside world goes, he was never here.” 

The Commissar prided himself on being able to read faces, even those trained in deception. People with alcohol were happy people. They were used to hearing arbitrary decisions. They were used to obedience. 

“Oh, one more thing, before you get back to partying. Dmitry told me to give everyone his regards and his thanks — and his regret for not having time to say goodbye to everyone personally. I’m sorry I don’t know anything more about his promotion and assignment. Top Secret. Now, Party!” 

Back in his apartment, Dmitry heard a knock or a telephone or possibly a doorbell. What was it? He had had way, way too much to drink. But, he recalled, or thought he recalled, it was only three shots. I should have a buzz, but not — how can I be this drunk. He tried to swing his legs over the edge of the couch but they didn’t move. Suddenly, he jerked his head. There was a man here. $hit! He thought, It’s my contact. I’ve got to get it together.

The man smiled genially, yawned and glanced at his watch. “Ah, you’re still here. Well, not for long. Sorry. I got here a little early. If you’re embarrassed to die in front of me, I could leave and come back.” 

Dmitry just couldn’t think straight. “What? What? Caspian?” 

The man tilted his head with curiosity as though wondering precisely how this one would die. “There’s no Caspian, my friend.” He chuckled a bit. “Nice idea by the way — the whole death cult thing. I would have never thought of it. Well, maybe. But I never would have thought it could work. Brilliant really. Thing is, it’s so brilliant, people like your Commissar feel it might be more appropriate if someone with a longer career deserves to get the credit. Don’t worry. It won’t be long.” He paused and then added thoughtfully, “If you’re in pain or anything, just give me a sign. I can break your neck. SNAP! Real quick. Just give me a wink.” 

Dmitry cast his mind back. Who was this man? What was he saying the Commissar who gave me his special vodka wants to … an image flashed into Dmitry’s mind. The clear vodka had only been poured into one glass, not both. Only Dmitry had actually drunk the clear liquid. No wonder it tasted so good. Liquid death. 

The man chuckled the deep chuckle of someone who revels in evil. “I see the truth is dawning on you, Dmitry. You’re supposed to be a genius. You should understand — in a system that puts power over truth, the people at the top are not the most able or the smartest or the most educated or the most talented. They are the cruelest and most ruthless. I hope you find that useful info in the next world.” 

Dmitry realized he was going blind. He blinked several times and squinted to look into the face of this man who had come to … take the body, he supposed. The nameless man stared right back as though he were a stamp collector staring at a rare stamp for that flaw, that flaw, that fatal flaw. Dmitry realized that his had been trusting his boss. 


This is part of a longer story line in four chapters. Here are links to other chapters.

Chapter 1: Plans for us; some GRUesome

Chapter 2: Finding the Needleman in the American Haystack

Chapter 4: https://wordpress.com/post/petersironwood.com/5422

Trumpism is a New Religion

The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Watershed Virus

A Profound and Utter Failure

Index to a Pattern Language for Collaboration & Teamwork

https://www.amazon.com/author/truthtable

Opponent does not mean Enemy

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Today when we were playing tennis the ball flew out of the court and rolled between the wall and the fence. No-one could get it out. Notice: I said “No-one” — but when I worked together with someone on the other team, he lifted up the fence an inch and I pushed it out with my racquet. 

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Prior to Trump, I thought that’s what politics was like in America. Different teams working within a common framework. My opponents are not my “enemy” — and if the rules of the game are put aside and truth does not matter and whoever has the most power gets to demand victory no matter what the score is…? What’s the point of playing? 

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Self-quarantining in a fashion, I suppose.

Despite their fights, their fondness grows.

Don’t you wish that I could teach what each of us already knows?

How to hold a grudge forever and forever and forever and a day.

Instead, they seek and find another way to play.

Thank God we’re so much smarter, eh?



The Truth Train

A Profound and Utter Failure

The Isle of Right

The only “Them” that counts is all of “US”

The Declaration of Interdependence

The Myths of the Veritas: The Forgotten Field

Index for Pattern Language for Cooperation

Author Page on Amazon

That Cold Walk Home

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Ted sighed and shivered slightly. It was one of those windy fall days when the clouds would scuttle around to play their little game of roulette with the temperature. Direct sunshine made him sweat for a time tempting him to loosen his tie and remove his black suit coat. Not the right move. Not the right time. Anyway, sure enough a moment later, the clouds were back and the sweat made the late October wind feel even colder. He looked around. It was a nice location. Lots of tall trees. A margin of rhododendrons. A winding path led down to little duck pond. 

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He glanced over at Darla but he couldn’t see her eyes beneath the black veil. He inched a little closer. As he did so, everyone else moved further away from him. She had not been shy about telling everyone that her sister Anne’s death had been his fault. 

That was hardly fair, Ted thought to himself. He hadn’t even wanted to go the rally. He just went to — it was complicated. Ted didn’t support Heel Spurs, but his folks did. And they had teased him, and badgered him, and told him that he couldn’t really argue against him if he had never even been to one of his rallies. Ted had refused immediately two weeks ago when they had announced that they were going and insisted he come along. “Mom, geez. All he does is lie the whole time! He never says anything insightful or … he’s not very educated.” 

We’re not educated enough! Isn’t that what you’re really saying, Ted? We’re not good enough for the College Boy! Your Dad and I both worked so we could put you through college and this is how you repay us? By being too snooty to attend a rally with your uneducated parents?” 

“Oh, geez. Mom, that is not what I said. I just don’t see the point. And I wish you wouldn’t go either! It’s not safe!” 

Then, his Dad had weighed in as well. “Ted, you can’t just live in fear your whole life. How about some courage? Stop wearing that stupid mask everywhere.” He had shaken her head and added, “You act like there’s still a pandemic.” 

Ted had sighed and tried to explain that there was still a pandemic, that wearing a mask wasn’t “stupid” and that Heel Spurs was a liar. 

The quarrel had escalated, as quarrels often seemed to these days, and ended with an ultimatum. Ted would either join them at the rally or he could pay his own tuition for his senior year. 

Ted had at last agreed. He knew he would regret it. But he had no idea just how much. 

At the rally itself, he had been mortified on behalf of his parents. They had cheered on cue. They had chanted on cue. They had laughed on cue. They had booed on cue. He supposed they would have quite happily farted on cue if told to. And, he could see the excitement in their eyes. In fact, they had seemed to adore the Mango Mussolini. They hung on his every word. Ted recalled having wondered at the time whether #45 talked nonsense and non-sequitur all the time as an intentional technique for getting his “supporters” to hang on his every word. 

After the event ended, his parents had still been excited. They had introduced themselves to another couple from a nearby suburb. As it turned out, they also had a boy in college and he also had not yet realized that only Trump told the truth about the world and that every other news organization, TV channel, and the “Deep State” were brain-washing Americans not to trust the President. 

Ted watched as the couple exchanged phone numbers and business cards. He had decided that it was rather useless to “take the bait” on politics and instead got revenge in his own small way by steering the conversation toward economics. He was now in the middle of his sixth economic course. “Hey, I’m loving college. I just found out something cool last week in my on-line ‘Economic Incentives’ class. I was really shocked. I had always thought it was good to pay CEO’s lots and lots of money so that a company would have better leadership. And it turns out, that’s not true! They’ve actually studied it. It sounds kind of logical, but it doesn’t turn out that way empirically.”

Silence. 

At last, Ted’s Dad said, “When are those busses going to appear? I don’t know about you guys, but I’m getting cold. It was warm on the bus, but man. It’s cold out here.” 

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“Well,” drawled the other man, “They did say they’d be here soon. I’m sure they’ll show up in the next ten minutes.” 

Only they didn’t show up in the next ten minutes. Nor the next sixty minutes. 

Ted had finally insisted. “Look, I run every day. Enough of this nonsense. I’m going to run back and get our car. I’ll be back in half an hour. Meanwhile, here. Take this coat. I’ll be more comfortable running like this.” 

Mom had said, “Okay, but what about our new friends here?”

“Well, they will catch the bus,” Ted had reasoned. I can’t drive both cars back. And, none of you are running with me. If the bus comes five minutes after I leave, they’re better off. And, if not, they’re no worse off. Right?” 

He had agreed that if the bus came right away, his parents could call him and he could get back in time to board with them. If it were a longer time, he would call them when he got to the car. If they were on the bus, he wait for them at the car. If the bus still hadn’t come, they’d decide what to do then. 

In the end, Ted had run to the car, started it up, and driven back to the rally site before the bus showed up. Ted’s parents had insisted that they drive their new friends to their car.

Ted had been the only one wearing a mask. 

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He overheard her mother’s part of the conversation when the apology came a few days later. 

Ted had said, “Mom, who was that? You sounded upset.”

His mom bit her lip and frowned. “Ted, that was — you remember that couple we went to the Rally with?”

Ted nodded. “Sure.”

“Well, honey. She and her husband both tested positive for COVID. Can you believe that?” 

Ted’s eyes widened. “Yes, of course, I believe it. I told you it wasn’t a hoax.” 

Ted’s mom kept acting as though she couldn’t decide what to do next. She confided to Ted, “Let’s not tell your father. No need to worry him.” 

“WHAT!? Mom, surely you jest! Of course we have to tell him! He needs to tell the people he’s been with too!” 

“Well,” said his mother, “I just don’t understand it. Didn’t the President himself say we had turned the corner and it was nothing to worry about? Well, anyway, at least it isn’t serious. And soon, we’ll have a vaccine. And treatments that cure it, just like for him!”

“Mom, mom, mom. No. He’s lying. We don’t have a vaccine. No-one knows exactly when you’ll get access to it, but it definitely won’t be in time to prevent an infection from those friends in the car. And treatments? You won’t get the treatment he got. You would have to sell the house and car and we probably still couldn’t afford it. If — if he was even sick at all. He might have faked the whole thing.” 

“Now, why would he do that honey? He’s Making America Great Again!” 

Ted could see that her spirits actually lifted as she parroted that last phrase. 

“Indeed he is,” added Ted’s dad. “Now, what’s for dinner?” 

Ted and his mother exchanged looks. She bit her lip and shook her head, looked down at the floor. Ted thought his mom should be the one to explain the situation.

“Say, Dad. You know that nice couple that we met at the rally? Well, right before you walked in, Mom was having a conversation with that lady. And she was just about to tell me what they talked about. Why not tell us both at the same time, Mom. Kill two birds with one stone, as it were.”

As it turned out, there were more than two birds killed. 

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The first bird was the woman of the couple they had met at the rally.
The husband had a bad case but survived. But without his wife of 47 years, and debilitated, he wasn’t sure why he had bothered.

The second bird was Ted’s own mother. She was perhaps “lucky” in that she died over the course of a few days.

The third bird, Ted’s Dad, never did get COVID. He got pneumonia waiting for a bus and died from that.  

And now, here we are at the funeral of the fourth bird, Anne. Anne had been a wonderful kid. Ted had never viewed her as some kind of “necessary evil” to put up with in order to get himself in the  — let us say — “good graces” of his girlfriend Darla. No, Ted had genuinely liked Anne. She was intelligent, knowledgeable, and beautiful. And, she was really genuinely nice. She was what you might call perfect. 

Except she wasn’t. She had been born with a compromised immune system. So, while Ted and Darla had never felt the least bit sick and Ted had gotten tested, he never received his test results. 

Darla never did forgive Ted. Nor did Ted forgive himself. Not smart, but perfectly understandable, having just lost his parents and ruined his love life, that Ted would take up hard drugs and alcohol. I suppose it’s no surprise Ted himself soon became bird number five. 

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Index to a Pattern Language for Collaboration 

Trumpism is a New Religion

Essays on America: Wednesday

Essays on America: The Game

Essays on America: The Update Problem 

Essays on America: The Stopping Rule

Absolute is not just a Vodka

Fascism Leads to Chaos

T-Rump Swan Song

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“Beware! Beware!

His flashing eyes!

His floating hair!

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The Ridin’ Biden? 

He plays fair!

How dare he dare! 

So unwise!

He has a socialistic plan

To ban the planets who rotate right!

He’s mean and keen 

And he will break your overbite!

He’ll do whatever 

He damned well pleases! 

Oh, Base, oh Base 

Get down on your kneeses!

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I despise you all 

And hope you fall 

And die of cold

Or die of heat; 

It never gets old 

To watch you fold.


I let you die of Trumpandemic 

But now I’m out to scare

You to death with the dire predictions

Of imaginary Biden

Whose leads widen 

My lies no longer can be sold!

Original drawing by Pierce Morgan


He’ll square the moon!

Outlaw balloon! 

Eat a loon!

Eliminate June!

He’ll replace the flag 

With an all-black rag!

He’ll make water run uphill! 

He’ll make the sun too chill!

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So much solar power

Sucked from the sun each hour!

It will die! I wouldn’t lie! 

You know I never do! 

And I love everyone! 

(Who isn’t Muslim or Jew,

Or dark, or smart, or thinks, 

Or cares, or loves

Or anyone who cannot afford

A yacht and gloves). 

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But people like that? 

They hardly count at all. 

Long as you stick with me, 

You’ll have a ball. 

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But lest you forget

Let me now resume. 

I’ve no evidence but you can presume

Biden will cancel Christmas!

And even cancel sex!

Ivanka thinks he uses hypertext! 

He’ll turn off gravity! 

Outlaw depravity!

Make everyone marry a woman of color

Maybe your own daughter. Did I mention Ivanka?

She’s also a brilliant business tycoon billionaire like me.

Oh, but yeah, we were talking about Obama and how 

He tried to make America — you know he’s from Kenya? 

Did I mention that I am a mental giant?

Yep. Went to the Doctors and they were amazed!

They said my brain was hardly grazed! 

They told me: “man, woman, person, camera, TV” 

And I said:

Hey! that’s me! 

A story about me!

I am a man

(Or at least pretend to be one)

I grabbed at women by the score; 

Raped more than a few;

It didn’t count because a woman isn’t really a person.

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I confessed it all on camera; it all was taped. 

But then on TV, I simply japed.

All was forgiven by my faceless base.

They all need me, but I don’t need any one of them. 

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They are what I call the “Minutes”. 

There are people you need for a few minutes — and when those minutes are over, 

The photo-op done? 

You’ve no more need of them. 

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But there are others I think of as the “Hours” —

These are people you need to be your tool

For an hour or two; long enough to win a suit.

Long enough to sell a lie. 

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And, a few are the “Days” —

They are not a momentary craze. 

I might wait a month or two 

Before I chop them up and throw them in the stew.

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And that rhymes with slew 

I guess you knew!

I’m over two hundred thousand and twenty-two!

Way ahead of Putin who

Has not passed thirty two! 

But Oh, yes, I was talking about how terrible Obama was!

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Or, wait, I seem to be in a bit of a fuzz.

Clinton, Hilary that’s the one we’ll lock her up!

Because why should a black or a woman be POTUS 

And not me?! ME!?! Born rich and lost it all.

Pity me, pity me, oh, poor me! 

Let me dis you and kiss you

And spread my sick death

I’ll unmask you 

And you and task

You to suck in my breath. 

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Kim Jung Un really opened my eyes!

To be a leader, you needn’t be wise!

Just grab for the cruel-stick don’t ever let go!

Demand to be king in the absolute know!

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Watch me steer America

Down into flame. 

With all of my fingers

I’ll spread out the blame.”

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America wake.

And give a good shake. 

Another Trump term 

Would be a mistake.

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One day soon, we’ll all recall 

We work best when we work as one. 

Working together will add to the fun.

Work together for the good of all.

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Trumpism is a new religion

The Truth Train

The Pandemic Anti-Academic

The Watershed Virus

The Ailing King of Agitate

Life is a Dance

Author Page on Amazon