After All

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“There is always light…” Amanda Gorman

Silver buttons, golden boughs, ornately jeweled fingers.  

Adorning ditches alongside random tires and used syringes. 

So much depends upon a little red gully 

Filled with muddy, bloody, rain-water. 

“There is always light if … ” – Amanda Gorman

The demagogue was not a demigod after all.

Dictatorship turned out not to be so much fun after all. 

And after all, after all the joy of wanton cruelty faded

Survivors just got jaded and all the joy faded.

After all the promises unkept and all the lies exposed, 

After all the hypocrisy grew like hairy poison vines

And after all the trees were felled, life itself rebelled.  

After all the hate replaced each and every seed and every need.

It wasn’t so much fun after all. Not to die nor even to bleed.

“There is always light if we are brave enough…” Amanda Gorman

They shoot horses don’t they? 

Yes —
Buttheyshootdogsandcats and anythingtheycan.
Food is scarce, for sure.
But it isn’t just for food.
It used to be for fun.

But now it’s just another humdrum way to fight boredom

Laced with randomness and ruin and rum. 

“There is always light if we are brave enough to see it.” Amanda Gorman

Even the scab-faced Bannonites.
And the golden calves of sanctimonium,
Radioactive to the core, 

As is the mango pit they still adore,
Even they who wanted check and slay,

All are nothing more than shadows on the dead and empty warscape.

Killing off the ecosphere had all the “inconvenience” of a rape. 

“There is always light if we are brave enough to see it. There is always light…” Amanda Gorman

This was the summer of our discontent. 

Too hot to live, the grid had nothing more to give. 

Lack of AC proved a prize for everyone!

Not just those too poor. Surprise!

The greed, after all, charged its own lightning fast steed 

Of the apocalypse. 

After all the trials and after all the errors, 
After all the pilgrims and their progress.
After all the pillage and the patriots
No-one was saved, after all.  

There was only the infinite regress —

Not to the mythical fifties,

Not to flags Confederate, 

Not to ages medieval

Nor even to Empires Latinate

After all, after all the shattered dreams of millions, 

Just aching to be free, 

We let it all slip away; 

Pretending not to know our history,

Pretending that there is no devil to pay

When we cheat each other day after day after day after day. 

“There is always light if we are brave enough to see it. There is always light if we are brave enough…” Amanda Gorman

It doesn’t make anything great, after all.

It doesn’t make anything better, after all.

Being a baby that fusses and musses

Isn’t so wise after all

When there are no adults left to clean up the messes.

“There is always light if we are brave enough to see it. There is always light if we are brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman

After all the pain.

After all the suffering.

After all the self-imposed blindness. 

All we really thirst for 

Is a little human kindness. 

So we search inside the bombed out marts.

We search beside the broken body parts. 

We search beneath the fallen walls.

We search abandoned shopping malls. 

What we find, after all, 

Is what we should have seen before it all. 

We have nothing but each other.

So why would we kill a brother after all? 

After all, 

A Civil War 

Is not so civil…

After all.


Author Page on Amazon

Guernica

Dance of Billions

How the Nightingale Learned to Sing

Absolute is not just a vodka

The Crows and Me

The US Extreme Court

Clarence, but not Darrow

The only them that counts is all of us

We’re all in this together

Supreme Sedition



 

Sonnet: Supreme Sedition

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The Handmaiden by POWSTER Creative Studio, Florian Pollet, Sylvain Kellaway is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

The Monsters of the Magic Modern Monolith:

With Zero Thought and Zero Care; our Freedom they Entomb.

Their Claws are Bloody, Dripping Gore, from Sure to Shore.

Sans Logic, Love, sans Sanity, Forthwith.

Our Rights are Ripped Untimely from the Unripe Womb.

And Every Woman Now is Redefined as Whore. 

Photo by Thuanny Gantuss on Pexels.com

No Family Now can Claim it’s Built on Love’s Respect.

Each Family Now is Based on Power’s Sharpened Sword.

Society is Based at Last on Baseless Lies.

Each Act of Love is Now an Object to Inspect.

If Judged by Strangers Strange, they’ll Slice the Living Cord.

Foundation’s Crumbled. Every Certainty is Now Surprise.

Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 on Pexels.com

The Tears are Bitter. Tide will Flow. Hypocrisy

They’ll Find, will Sink not Float on Angry Boundless Sea. 

Photo by Marc Coenen on Pexels.com

Photo by Min Thein on Pexels.com

—————-

Dick-Taters

The Broken Times

Poker Chips

The Mammoth and the Mouse

Absolute is not just a Vodka

The Extreme Court

Clarence, but not Darrow

Stoned Soup

Three Blind Mice

The Orange Man

Plans for US; Some GRUesome

What Could be Better A Horror Story

Dance of Billions

The Broken Times

Corn on the Cob

The Crows and Me

American Dream

American Dream 2

Fish Have No Word for Water

We’re All in this Together

Author’s Page on Amazon

“There is always light, if we are brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman

OLIE & the Z-Lotz

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With Shadow Walker looking on with his sword at the ready, Many Paths searched the Z-Lotz stranger for concealed weapons. They tied a length of rope around both his ankles so that he could shuffle along, but not run or kick. They also tied OLIE’s hands behind him. While performing these tasks, Shadow Walker & Many Paths carried on a rapid conversation in Veritas and watched for signs of comprehension but saw none. 

Shadow Walker spoke to the fettered man using a combination of signs and the broken Z-Lotz that he knew. “We do not plan to harm you. As we said, some might try. Their anger might burn out of control before they think. We will prepare people first to help ensure your safety. We have bound you, but you would be foolish to try to escape. The last time Z-Lotz came under a flag of truce, they left deadly poisonous “gifts” and many among the Veritas consider this … unworthy … a most unworthy action for a human being.” 

Many Paths led the trio back toward the Center Place of the Veritas, while Shadow Walker walked behind their prisoner. He forced himself to stay ever-alert to the possibility that the man might bolt into the underbrush or use some hidden weapon or signal some nearby warriors to attack. Though he didn’t consider this likely, the consequences of being too complacent could be catastrophic. It occurred to Shadow Path that having a “prisoner” was actually a burden. It slowed down their progress considerably. It made conversation between himself and Many Paths stiffer and more circuitous. Though he was reasonably sure that OLIE really knew very little or no Veritas, he couldn’t be completely sure. Maybe everything was play-acting. Maybe they were walking into — or even already in — a trap of some kind that he could not foresee. How could a people become like the Z-Lotz — full of deception and deceit? Couldn’t they perceive how much more difficult it made life for the Z-Lotz themselves? 

Many Paths engaged in silent reflection of her own. She had been astounded at how little the Z-Lotz seemed to have known about the Veritas. And yet — the thought that haunted her was that the Veritas themselves has known so little about their neighbors. All their neighbors. Knowing more about the other tribes would make war less likely, but if war came, she reasoned, it would also make for a less costly victory. She frowned. She realized that it wasn’t just knowing about the other tribes. It was also understanding them. It wasn’t enough simply to know that the Z-Lotz and the Cupiditas had chosen their leaders by mortal combat. Now she knew that. In fact, bynow, all the Veritas knew that. But none had any idea why they did that. Yet, if OLIE were to be believed, even the priests of the Z-Lotz could see that it was now leading to too much bloodshed. Again, if OLIE could be believed, having Shadow Walker step down as king — or, to put it more accurately — flee the Z-Lotz City — Read-It OLIE had called it — Shadow Walker had fled the Read-It and that caused more chaos. 

Though the mind of Many Paths never strayed far from the puzzle of how to have the various tribes work together to ensure peace, her senses stayed tune to the world around her. The path back to the village was extremely well known to her and she stayed on the lookout for the slightest evidence of the presence of additional Z-Lotz. Her next thought made her suddenly chuckle to herself. She said to Shadow Walker, “Ask OLIE why their custom is to choose their leader as the one most lethal or … perhaps that is not the way they think of … just ask how they pick their leaders and why they do it that way. 

Shadow Walker tried to think how best to phrase the question. “OLIE, you said my leaving suddenly made things worse for you. For that, I am sorry. One thing we Veritas cannot understand is the whole — I don’t really understand exactly how you choose leaders and I have no idea why you choose them that way. If I understand it, someone always dies and … never mind. Please explain it as you do to your own children. We truly wish to understand.”

OLIE continued to shuffle along for a time then said, “How do you choose a new leader?” 

Shadow Walker frowned. He translated the question for his Partner. She chuckled but made no attempt to answer the question. Shadow Walker said, “Our leader stays in power only so long as she — or he — is seen by the people as doing a good job of leading. Initially, the old leader devises a series of trials for those who would be leader. Most recently, our old leader devised a series of seven tests. Many Paths was the only one to succeed at all the trials. So, she became the leader.”

OLIE nodded. “Why do you choose leaders in the way you do?”

Shadow Walker pursed his lips. He translated the question for Many Paths. Then he sighed and answered this way. “It is custom, I suppose. It seems to work. I have heard many reasons and thought of a few myself. First, the current leader knows what it takes to be the leader. She, or more rarely, he, has spent much time trying to honestly understand her mistakes and how she could have avoided them or how her successor might avoid similar mistakes in the future. She learns from everyone in the entire Tribe and from the place we live — the birds, the lizards, the bees, the flowers, the trees, the river, the mountains. They all inform her of what the people need to learn and especially what the leader must be able to do. 

“Second, the tests or trials are themselves a learning experience, especially for those who wish to be the leader, but also for the Tribe as a whole and also for the current leader. 

“Third, the trials are not secret as to outcome, and everyone who wanted to be a leader can see who did the various tasks well and who did not. All of those who tried to be leader could see for themselves how well Many Paths did on these tasks. If they are honest with themselves, they all realize that she performed the best.  

“Fourth, the tribe itself sings of these trials. Not only the recent ones, but all of them. The stories in our songs also speak of how the various leaders actually were — how they behaved — what their successes and failures were. So, we not only learn from the trials and from the past leaders but also look for mistakes in how the leaders were chosen. One of our tales is about a would-be leader we call ‘The Orange Man’ — our tale tells of how his lying and his greed resulted in the death of an entire village as well as his own death. He was never actually a leader but he wanted to be in charge of everything and everyone. Such a one would never be chosen by a real leader, but if he had been chosen, the people would soon have called for a new leader. As it was, he was rightfully just an outcast. But if he had been a leader of the Veritas, and if he had actually passed some tests, we would incorporate the failure of those tests to discover this dishonesty and greed.

“There may be more reasons, but tell me why you choose your leaders the way you do.” 

OLIE began what seemed to be a well-rehearsed recitation. “The Book that tells us All says leaders choose themselves. Only the strongest and the smartest will survive. Only the strongest and the smartest will be leaders. Thus, it has been from the beginning of time. Thus it is now. Thus, it shall always be.” 

OLIE shuffled forward adding nothing to this quotation. 

After a time, Shadow Walker said, “That says nothing about mortal combat determining the outcome. Is there more?” 

OLIE stopped in his tracks. He turned awkwardly to look at Shadow Walker. “What do you mean? It says that only the strongest and smartest will survive. What else could it mean?” 

Many Paths had turned around as well. “Is everything all right?” 

Shadow Walker recapped his little discussion with OLIE.

Many Paths beamed! “Wonderful! Keep going! This is excellent. Fill me in when you can.” The tiniest hint of a smile curled her lip and she looked at Shadow Walker and raised one eyebrow. 

Shadow Walker felt himself blush slightly, but plunged back into his halting conversation in Z-Lotz {Translator’s Note: here reproduced without the haltingness}. “There are many contests of strength! Felling trees, swimming rivers, lifting stones, wrestling. A contest of strength doesn’t have to be a fight to the death.” 

OLIE frowned. “But fight to the death is the natural way. All animals do this.”

Shadow Walker stifled a laugh. “No they don’t! A few fight for top position, but such fights are rarely lethal. I have never witnessed one, but our tales say it is possible. Even in such a position, the top wolf or elk will consider input from all. They are not all-powerful. That makes them blind to what is really happening. It has to. They are under constant fear that someone will kill them at any time, with or without but probably with the help of traitors. But that means, no-one really trusts anyone. If everyone must hide the truth…? Did the Z-Lotz build Read-It?”

OLIE shook his head. “No, they were built by the ancients. Then, they left because god told them to and left the City for the homeless and nomadic Z-Lotz.”

Could you build such a City as Read-It again?”

OLIE shook his head. “You ask strange questions. I have never heard anyone speak of such a thing. But it is obvious the answer is ‘no.’ Much of what the Ancients left us, we do not understand. If we do not understand, it is safest not to touch it. Some died touching things that they did not understand. But we have no knowing of how-to such buildings nor the magic stems that bring us water. Nor the vines that bring us light. What does this have to do with how our leaders are chosen?” 

Shadow Walker nodded gravely. “You came to something you did not understand. When you tried to learn from it, people died. You as a people decided that you didn’t want to challenge knowledge and explore because that would be dangerous. You liked having an absolute King so that all disputes could be settled at once though arbitrarily and almost always in favor of the King’s own interests. Such a King would rarely be motivated to do great good for a great number of people. That would simply enable more challenges to his rule. He would instill fear in the people by brutality. And that brutality would be aimed precisely at the strongest and the smartest! He would want to eliminate this most likely challengers. What he would prefer are the most pliable and, frankly…But let me hear what you think about this. You lived there. I only — let us say — visited.” 

yths

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Only the skulls remain

Upon the pikes.

Oddly, you cannot tell without the clothes

Without the skin

Who was who and who was not.

Is it so surprising after all?

“There is always light if we are brave enough to be it.” – Amanda Gorman



Once upon a time, 

The legend goes, 

People knew how to repair the cars but

That was long ago. 

After awhile, it did them little good. 

No parts were to be found.

When all the lines went dead. 

Electric grids were hit and miss. 

“There is always light, if we are brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman

Is it so surprising, after all?

No-one now recalls just when

The Broken Times began

Or what was the straw that broke 

The camel’s back.

We’ll never really know which straw it is.

The one we’ll choose to blame.

Of course, it’s really all the straws.

The straw men.

The straw arguments. 

The spines of straw.

“There is always light if we are brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman


At some point, 

The weight of lies outweighed the weight of law

When the rule of law was replaced

By the rule of power.

Is it so surprising, after all?

At first, the ones with guns tried to steal everything. 

Well-rehearsed by then in lies, 

They loved to scream and rationalize 

That they needed the grub.

Along the way, they killed the very ones 

Who could have helped their grandkids survive. 

They did not revive. 

They had no time to reinvent.

Nor wits to circumvent. 

“There is always light if we are brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman

Is it surprising after all?

Everything went to hell,

Even the hand-baskets never arrived

Supply chains lay all shattered

No-one trusted anyone; not anyone.

Lies became the  way of the people; the lay of the land.

It’s monotonous music that rocking and rollicking band.

If you don’t mind hearing nothing else at all, at all, at all.

If you don’t mind truth being stripped from every strip mall. 

“There is always light if you are brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman

Is it so surprising after all?

Everyone became a thug of sorts, a liar and a thief. 

That’s life on the street, they say. 

That’s all the life that’s left: 

The life of sneak and slay

The life that’s steal and cheat. 

Is it so surprising, after all?

That after choosing lies and guns

Eschewing truth;

That after losing by a lot,

The child who would be czar,

Touted lies both obvious and bizarre 

Which losers slurped as they embraced 

To show their fealty to the lie; 

Is it so surprising after all?

That a nation fell

And every life went straight to hell? 

Is it so surprising, after all?

“There is always light if we are brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman

Is it so surprising, after all?

That so-called undesirables were rounded up

Forced to drink a poison cup

Or shot upon the spot? 

That books were burned 

True love spurned. 

Justice adjourned?

“There is always light if we are brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman

Is it so surprising, after all?

With science denied 

And so many lies

The crops all died?

The billionaires learned all too late

They didn’t know how to operate

Factories or companies after all. 

Is it so surprising, after all?

That no-one can recall

The Times before the Broken Times? 

The times before the broken rhythms 

And the times before the rhyme broke?

“There is always light if we are brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman



In the corner, I spy a broken box. 

A guitar! That’s what it was called. 

In the Times Before the Broken Times.

All the music now 

All the music now, 

If you can call it that, 

Is all the same. 

Guitars are illegal and inedible. 

Like phono graffs. 

And once I think we had 

Shiny photo graffs.

Illegal now as well

Hard to tell 

What, if anything, remains okay. 

Since the Broken Times began. 

Is that so surprising, after all?

“There is always light if we are brave enough to be it.” — Amanda Gorman

Dance of Billions

Listen you can hear the echoes of your actions

Ripples

Take a glance; join the dance

The only them that counts is all of us

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A Profound and Utter Failure

Where does your loyalty lie

The Orange Man

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What about the butter dish?

The ailing kind of agitate

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My Cousin Bobby

Wednesdays

Happy Talk Lies

American Dream

The Declaration of Interdependence

The Bill of Obligations

Pattern Language for Collaboration & Cooperation

Author Page on Amazon

The Stopping Rule

.

Myths of the Veritas: OLIE

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Many Paths & Shadow Walker glanced at each other. Instantly, each saw that the other had also heard the shuffling. Shadow walker continued in the same tone of voice he had been using, being careful not to inflect his voice with any hint of worry or concern. “Perhaps the next persons with whom we should dialog are Tu-Swift, Cat Eyes and her parents, Tree Vines and Gathers Acorns. These are the people who best understand the Z-Lotz.” 

Many Paths nodded. “I believe that Tu-Swift and Cat Eyes are going to share their recent findings with us tonight or tomorrow and then, they will be headed back to the library that lies over the mountain. We can talk with them and perhaps accompany them to gather still more information from her parents.”

Shadow Walker replied, “Great. I’ve had enough blackberries anyway.” 

They began to stroll off. Once they judged to be far enough away, they split up and stalked back to the blackberry thicket from two sides, like the pincers of a crab or the jaws of a cougar. Weapons drawn, they moved only when the wind stirred.  

For his part, Shadow Walker was sure their “mystery guest” was human. At first, he considered that it might be a small child from the Veritas hiding among the old stems of the blackberry bush hoping to overhear some adult talk that could be shared with friends. It would be a secret kind of knowledge and the child would gain status but providing this little seed of truth. His friends would plant that seed in their play activity and eventually try to grow a story, or even a whole moon’s worth of inter-related stories. A smile flitted across his face as he recalled doing this himself. As he re-neared the blackberry bush however, the sounds seemed too loud to be caused by the movements of a child. Whether child or adult or someone in between, the sounds were far too unskilled to be anyone from among the Veritas. 

For her part, Many Paths considered a large, clumsy animal to be the most likely cause of the sound. She kept imagining various animals and dismissing them, one by one. At last, she was left with an odd sensation. What is this thing, she wondered. It’s clumsy, large, but … apparently wants to stay hidden. It can’t be a boar who would simply crash out. She noticed the teeny hairs on the back of her neck stood up as though a sudden chill wind stirred. 

In a single moment: a scrambling figure in a dark cloak; a trap sprung, the jaws snapped together; scrambling, strong but ineffective struggler; same figure pinned by Shadow Walker while Many Paths stood near with long knife close enough to the stranger’s face that he could not avoid seeing it. “Who are you?” Shadow Walker insisted but the stranger screamed something back that was completely unintelligible. Shadow Walker looked at his adversary more closely and realized that he seemed vaguely familiar. He glanced at Many Paths. “This man is Z-Lotz or at least is dressed as one. This is exactly how the priests dressed. I saw a few on execution day. Some “priests” making a sport out of killing innocent people.” He turned back to the priest. “So, why are you here?” Then, he realized speaking in Veritas would not reveal much. He tried to think back to his time in captivity — and as king — where he had learned a bit of Z-Lotz. At last, he said haltingly, “You Z-Lotz. This is Veritas. You Z-Lotz. Why? Why you are here? What do you desire? Blackberries? I don’t think so!” 

Many Paths glanced at Shadow Walker. His face: a storm front; his forearm ready for a deadly strike. “Shadow Walker, my dear heart. I do believe this man has some very useful information for us. I’m quite curious to hear his story, just like you. But let’s hear the story to see whether it satisfies us. If it does, we may chat still more. If and when his story gets woven into some web of lies, we will recreate this wonderful scene and you will be free to break his throat if you wish.” During this time, the arrow eyes of Many Paths connected completely with Shadow Walker. She did not even glance at the Z-Lotz. 

Shadow Walker nodded, “Well said Many Paths. That is the wiser course. Now, who are you?” Shadow Walker grimaced as he remembered the language barrier and he repeated his last question in that tongue. “You name is?” 

“OLIE” the subdued man replied. 

Many Paths drew near. Removed her dagger from the sightline of OLIE but kept it close at hand. “I am curious how you came to be here. You must have a good tale to tell. It isn’t at all common to see an individual Z-Lotz. So, go on. Earn your dinner with your tale. We have more to offer than blackberries.” 

Shadow Walker narrowed his eyes and stared at Many Paths. What is she doing, he asked himself. She’s being nice to him. Why? Another part of his brain was processing the reactions of the stranger. Many Paths is being nice on purpose. She thinks he may volunteer the truth. I should have thought of that as well. Then, once again, the thought struck him that he could be more effective in life, if he would sometimes ask himself, “What would Many Paths do?”

Shadow Walker’s attention now zoomed in on what the man OLIE was saying. Shadow Walker listened intently, but still couldn’t comprehend very well so he asked the man to supplement his telling with the more universal sign language. The stranger complied and Shadow Walker found he could apparently understand the basics of what was being said. Shadow Walker made it clear that he could get up and they would sit together but not to run. Here then, is OLIE’s tale. Shadow Walker translated to Many Paths.  


“I was born, of course, in Read-It, the chief and most populous home of the Z-Lotz. My family was in the priest class and I did well in my studies so that I became a priest as well. I’m here basically because there is nowhere else to go. Read-It is gone. Z-Lotz are gone. I mean, most are. Many died in a plague. Then, we — ?! You are he! You are the king who left! Never in history has someone volunteered to step down. There was much chaos about the line of succession. Finally, the priests stepped in and said, “Look. This is absurd. We’re killing each other off. We should all work together as one team. When he said, ‘all’ he meant men. Men. Not women. So, the priests took over, including me. But soon, women started rebelling. The priests had gone too far, and fighting and chaos broke out. Many wanted to kill the priests. I barely escaped with my life! I didn’t have time to even grab my robes. I only had a simple shirt. But I found this on a dead priest. I looked at him and thought how that could be me. I took his cloak. I was hungry. I ate some blackberries. Then I heard someone coming. You two. So, I hid among the blackberry stems.” 

To Shadow Walker the story seemed plausible, but he knew that did not make it true. It could just as well be that he’s really here to find out where our defenses are, how many of us are there, what are good places to attack from. Or, he could be bearing another sort of poison for us — different but equally effective as the last nasty stuff they left behind. He glanced at Many Paths. If she were having similar thoughts, nothing in her face gave such thoughts away. Shadow Walker realized that his own face was not so well trained as that of Many Paths. He replaced his angry face with an inscrutable one. Over the next few minutes, Shadow Walker noticed both that OLIE continued to become apparently more relaxed and that after he put a neutral face on, OLIE began to glance at him as well. 

At the same time, Shadow Walker decided he would test whether OLIE truly understood Veritas. He added this phrase to his translation to Many Paths: “I wonder whether we’d be better off torturing him for information. That’s what they do.” He carefully observed the face of the priest and saw no clue there that OLIE had understood. Many Paths frowned and then her eyes widened. Shadow Walker added quickly, “Sorry. I was just testing whether he knows Veritas.” Again, he looked carefully at OLIE and saw no sign that he did.

After a long silence, Many Paths spoke, using Shadow Walker as her interpreter. She said that she appreciated his story. She said that she would like to learn more about the Z-Lotz. She said that she would like to invite him to a dinner where he could feast on more than blackberries. But she explained that not everyone in her tribe would be immediately trusting of the Z-Lotz. She described the strange stuff that had been given as a “gift” but that destroyed the arms of Stone Chipper. She described the plague which had nearly killed one of the tribe elders, their former chief, She Who Saves Many Lives. She did not describe how her own brother T-Swift had been stolen by the ROI as part of their agreement with the Z-Lotz.

“I see. Yes.” OLIE’s reply seemed insightful, yet blind. Shadow Walker & Many Paths waited for him to elaborate; perhaps, even to apologize. OLIE made no move to flee, nor did he seem to show any interest in conversing. He glanced back at the blackberry bush. Despite the predations of at least the three of them, there were still plenty of berries left. 

Many Paths smiled. “Let us return to the Center Place of the Veritas. I will introduce you to a few people first and explain your circumstances so that you will be safe. In order to do that, and ensure your safety, it will necessary to know a little more. Do you believe you are being pursued by any of the Z-Lotz?”

OLIE made a quick, almost ritual, shake of his head. “No. No-one would bother. People are hungry and tired of fighting as well. For a short time, it seemed as though we might conquer the disease. Just as you said.” Here, the man looked directly at Shadow Walker. “But, you see, there was the matter of who was to be leader. After you left, fighting broke out. Many wanted to claim the throne. The fighting meant … everyone got close to everyone and there was little time for medicine or rest. Some few, including me, never got sick. We may have claimed…some may have claimed that it was because they followed God’s directives more fervently. At first, this sounded like a good plan. Many tried to be more pious, but they got sick anyway. And, then, they became quite angry with us. They were angry at the priests who had given such useless advice, but the anger spread to all priests.”

OLIE paused and looked down. Shadow Walker & Many Paths glanced at each other. “The priests are perhaps responsible partly. But…” He glanced at Shadow Walker. “When you left so suddenly and unexpectedly….it made everything worse. We didn’t know what to do. We made up new rules and tried to give the men privileges. They were pleased, but eventually, it backfired. Too much violence. My faith…? I don’t know. I don’t know. But without the Book, without God, what is there? Once the people stopped doing what we said, how could they be in tune with God. Imagine what would happen to your people with no-one to tell them how to interpret the Book.” 

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Many Paths looked intently at OLIE’s face. She was astounded. Many Path saw no hint that OLIE was trying to deceive her. Yet, it seemed to her impossible that the Z-Lotz, or at least this one, would know so little about the people they made their enemy. She frowned. Could they possibly know that the Veritas had no real “Priest Class”? Could it be that the Z-Lotz hadn’t known that the Veritas were ignorant of books until a few months ago? Or, that everyone among the Veritas created or discovered their own relationship to the Great Tree of Life? She took a deep breath. She tried not to scoff at OLIE’s apparent ignorance but instead to use it as a guide to reflecting on her own ignorance. What had she, or indeed, any of the Veritas, known even a few years ago about the Z-Lotz or the ROI or the Cupiditas? About the Fierce and Formidable warriors from the frigid north or the Nomads of the desert? The Veritas had not even known for certain that there were more Veritas on the other side of the mountain. Many Paths thought back to the empathy test that required them to try to see the world through the eyes of various animals. Even before those tests for the Rings, every hunter learned the ways of those who would be prey or predator. How was it then that the Veritas as well as the Z-Lotz had learned so little of the ways of their neighbors? 

—————

The Myths of the Veritas: The First Ring of Empathy

The Myths of the Veritas: The Second Ring of Empathy

The Myths of the Veritas: The Third Ring of Empathy

The Myths of the Veritas: The Fourth Ring of Empathy

Math Class: Who are you?

Dance of Billions

The Declaration of Interdependence

The Bill of Obligations

A Pattern Language for Collaboration and Cooperation

Author Page on Amazon

American Dream 2

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(For a time, Sunday’s are for sonnets. We begin with free, chaotic verse that coalesces into a sonnet, but with ABBA stanzas, rather than the more traditional ABAB of Shakespearian sonnets).

PREAMBLE:

A loser.

More than anything.
A loser.

Love: A loser.

Business: A loser.
Bravery: A loser.

Elections: A loser. 

No creator, just a hater.
A waiter for the Putinate. 

The dawn upon the lawn

Shows the blood of many innocents.

Not a teacher, not a preacher.
If he can, he’ll try to reach her,
Stick his sickly sticky stubby hands 

Beneath her bands.
It’s his closest approach to broach 

The subject of true love.
Lady Liberty he’d gladly grope

If he could con a trope of rope-a-dope. 

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Like a friar with a briar in his britches;

Like a pussy cat who hisses and then pisses 

Wherever he goes, he goes.

A splitter, not a hitter. 

A bit like Hitler with a soul that’s even littler. 

His littleness a wonder as he tries to tear us all asunder. 

He snatches Bibles as well as pussies. 

He’s a fellow who is yellow to his heart of wobbling jello. 

He’s a puppy and a puppet; a sorry little muppet. 

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A rap sheet for a rat sheep. 

A giga-gaga fool who’s jowls are spraying drool

The mango Mussolini who’s a mangy melon fool.

His ship has sailed. His coup has failed. 

His acts will soon be nailed to the wall he never built. 


He is crooked as a broken cow; 

A man absurd, without a word

That anyone can count on. 

Putrid knows it well. He’s just poison in the well.

Mango Mussolini would never ever dwell

In office if Putrid’s coup prevails.

Crude, lewd clowns who spray themselves with gold

Are less than dime a dozen. Putrid would install a cousin.  

He trades in sumps and sewers.

Names are used as skewers. 

Like a crow that loudly cawed, 

He’s a frankly cranky fraud. 

A pawn who likes to fawn

Upon his own necrotic dance. 

An odd and frowsy drowsy prance.

He’s a rag tag brown down

Largely baggy clown.

With a suit of downtown diapers, 

He tries to reason treason with his pipers.

From the Foe-Fox Terriers & Suckers

Carl’s son & Smucker’s cluckers & his clones.

Droning on and on and on until the lie seems natural.

Screams a meme, a theme, until a dream seems actual. 

SONNET:

The crews who snooze; they’ll wake upon the land.

They’ll see what seemed such grand orchestral songs

Was just a band of candy coward schlongs. 

Mirages mirrored & wavering o’er the sand. 



Both time and tide will ebb and flow; and know

That truth will win the day at last and hate

And fear — that sea of filth — will dissipate.

The cuts all sutured; nature nurtured. Though

We must take care. Lay bare the plot to kill

Democracy through wealth & pelf & greed.

Corruption spreads a weedy, cancerous seed.

We’ll hoe, and weed, and weed and hoe until:

We’ll share the truth & goods for all alive. 

Until all folx of earth survive & thrive.

Author Page on Amazon

Sonnet: American Dream

Dance of Billions

Vlademort Putrid

Dick-Taters

Plans for US; some GRUesome

Donny Boy Attends a Veterans Day Parade

What could be better? A horror story.

If Only…

To Addison Mitchell the III

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Do not 

Do not pretend to care

Don’t you dare

Pretend to care

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Bloated blaggart 

Yacht-boated braggart

Coward to the nth degree

Weasel words and wobble words

All about the free 

A well-rehearséd fantasy

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Your suit and tie and fancy shoe 

They show in fact, what’s really you

Campaign cash ill-promised gold 

Yours a story centuries old 

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Do not pretend to care 

Don’t you dare

Don’t you dare pretend to care

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You’re owned lock, stock, and barrel 

By a foreign funded PAC

By a putrid agent gone quite feral. 

And all you do is yack yack yack

Your tongue is forked 

Your belly porked

Your heart is corked

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Do not pretend you really care

Do not presume

Do not resume 

Your play of tears

Across the years

Your promises of thought

Your promises of prayer

When all you do is nought

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Do not pretend you really care

The powder burns upon your sleeves

Your blood-stained lips and pasty face

Your utter lack of human grace

You care much more for bills in sheaves

Than children dying day by day

You sit & munch on curds and whey

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Do not pretend to care

Don’t you dare 

Don’t you dare pretend to care

A coward’s coward’s coward

There’s nothing more untoward

Than a mealy-mouldy turtle 

You contemplate an inch high hurdle 

You remain too yellow to leap

You remain too sick and cheap 

You nibble your crumpet

You cheat and lie to grease your palm 

Dead shark eyes your jowls are calm

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Do not pretend you care 

Do not pretend you care

Everyone’s bones grow eventually bare 

Long after life so long as there are eyes to see

Your name will live in infamy

So long as there is one last shred

Of humanity 

Or memory

Uncountable deaths of kids are clearly on your head

You soullessly stand in halls of power

Do nothing but whine at the ultimate hour

Watching children ripped apart

While you play-act your well-learned part 

A thousand horses and then the cart

Your well-practiced lines of lies 

Mumbo jumbo mumbled and tumbled

While another innocent dies

Another opportunity bumbled

Another step stumbled 

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Do not pretend to care

Don’t you dare

Pretend to care

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Just as a cancerous cell

Pretends to be well

So too do you

Pretending all the while

Wearing your dead-eyed smile

Pointing fingers everywhere

Fingers pointed everywhere

Unarmed teachers

Dearth of preachers

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“Let’s re-make schools be just like prisons

Let’s give every teacher a heavy gun!

Let’s make school shootings loads more fun”

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Do not

Do not

Do not pretend

Do not dare

Do not dare to pretend you care

Do not dare to pretend you care

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The NRA has bought a beach- 

Head, impossible to reach

The beaches sing each to each

Putin thinks that we will all sit calmly by

And eat our peach

Sand and all 

While children die and checks get cashed

Our future trashed

Bigger yachts are shipped and shined

Bigger mansions bought and sold 

Bigger wads of cash are rolled

Bigger steaks are grilled and dined

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Do not pretend

Do not pretend you care

Do not dare

Do not dare

Do not send thought

You’re already bought

Do not send prayer

And do not dare

To pretend to care

Dick-Taters

Plans for US; some GRUesome

Beware of Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing

Blood Red Blood

Thrumperdome

The Crows and Me

Ripples

Family Matters: Part One

The US Extreme Court

Clarence, but not Darrow

American Dream

The Walkabout Diaries: The Life of the Party

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The Life of the Party!

Have you ever been called the “Life of the Party”? Have you wanted to be the “Life of the Party”?

When you read the expression, “Life of the Party,” who or what do you think of? Who is the “life of the party” when it comes to our Garden?

Is it the brightly colored hooded oriole who flitted about just outside my office window during hours of ZOOM calls? 

Or, was it his more drably colored mate? 

Both are needed for the species to survive. 

You might tend to think of flowers as the “Life of the Party” and it’s true that our Garden has many colorful flowers!

Bougainvillea

A few of the many colors of the “Jacob’s Coat” rose in our Garden.

And even the not-so colorful flowers can be infused with light. Are they then, the life of the party?





White poppies.





In addition to flowers, the garden has more active members such as bees, lizards, and rabbits. I often see coyote scat, though I’ve never seen a coyote in the garden. 

Can a snail be the Life of the Garden?

We may think of flowers as being the life of the party, but without leaves, flowers and fruits would not grow because they wouldn’t have a source of energy. Leaves also can exhibit many beautiful patterns and colors.


There are a few human figures in the Garden — statues engaged in two of my favorite activities: dancing and reading. 

Are they the life of the party? 

The crows are certainly among the most vocal of the participants in the party. Does that make them the life of the party? 

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And, what about me? I help show the beauty of the Garden far beyond its physical boundaries. Of course, that happens anyway! The bunny eats fruit in the Garden and poops somewhere else to fertilize the soil and perhaps spread seeds, sometimes taking them far beyond the range of the wind. All the green leaf plants in the Garden take CO2 out of the air and return O2, each molecule of which diffuses far and wide, eventually across the planet. The bees cross-pollenate across Gardens. 

So, who, exactly is the life of the Garden? I think the only accurate answer is that everything alive is the “Life of the Garden.” Not just everything within the “boundaries” of our Garden but on the entire planet. Every molecule that is here, will eventually be somewhere else. Every molecule that will be here in a few million years is now far away.

We are all of us, “The Life of the Garden.”





We are, all of us, “The Life of the Party.”

———-

The Walkabout Diaries – A Walk in the Park

The Walkabout Diaries: Life Will Find a Way

The Walkabout Diaries – Mind Walk

The Walkabout Diaries – Sunsets

The Walkabout Diaries: Friends

The Walkabout Diaries – Bee Wise

The Dance of Billions

Life is a Dance

Living on the Edge

The Declaration of Interdependence

Pivot Projects –

Author Page on Amazon

The Trust Dilemma

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Many Paths eagerly took the hand of Shadow Walker. The latter said, “Let’s walk to the top of Wolf’s Back Ridge. We can pick some blackberries on the way. I wanted to tell you about an interesting conversation I had with Horse Whisperer the other day.” Many Paths smiled and nodded in assent. Despite the opening, they walked in silence for a time. This suited Many Paths for her mind was still on the conversation she had just had with She Who Saved Many Lives. At last, they came to the bend in the path where the blackberries grew. They were warm and luscious from the sun. 

As they picked — and ate — Shadow Walker said, “So. Horse Whisperer. Of all the people we know, he surely is the most fluent in ROI.” Shadow Walker could see that a dark cloud passed over the face of his lover. “I know. I’m no fan of the ROI either. Yet, eventually, we need a way to invite them to the Meeting of the Six Tribes. Tu-Swift vouches for him, in a way. Horse Whisperer was okay with being part of the business of stealing children and selling them for slaves to the Z-Lotz. That’s true. But now, I think he is … his mind is more aligned with our ways than theirs. He is happier than he ever was in the ROI. And, he knows that. He mentioned it to me when we were fishing the other day.” Shadow Walker laughed and added, “Well, when I was fishing. He knew nothing about it. Can you imagine? All his life was ordered around taking care of the horses. He knew very little about fishing, or even hunting, or being a warrior. The ROI — they are very — their lives are put into different urns. And, they live most of their lives in those urns. Or, I suppose, I should say ‘lived’ because I’m not even sure there are enough ROI left to have a way of life separate from the Z-Lotz. I told him what I saw and heard when I was a captive of the Z-Lotz; namely, that after the ROI lost their village, the ROI who fled to the Z-Lotz village were little better than servants — almost slaves, really.” 

Shadow Walker paused to create a space for Many Paths to comment. None was forthcoming so he ventured on. “When I told him that, he simply nodded and said that he would suspect as much.” There was no trace of anger or resentment in his voice. It was as though I was describing a tree or a way to climb a bluff. He didn’t seem to blame the Z-Lotz. He was not surprised. Anyway, this led to a deeper conversation about his own beliefs about the world. He has very little to say about how the various tribes have decided to arrange themselves other than to acknowledge that there are vast differences. He enjoys living among us.” 

Many Paths nodded. “Yes. I think so too. Tu-Swift said that he was a kind as he was allowed to be, both with him and with the horses. He doesn’t seem to enjoy cruelty, but he was not averse to being cruel if and when custom required it. But what are you suggesting, exactly?” 

“The Z-Lotz, we now know well, can be quite treacherous. They came to us with supposed gifts and they were poisons that ruined Stone Chipper and requested … well, really, demanded that you go see them. I have no doubt that they would have killed you … or perhaps demanded we surrender to them in order to save your life.”


Many Paths grimaced at this. “I hope you would have sense enough not to ever go along with such a trick! They are not to be trusted!”

Shadow Walker nodded. “I agree. But you are well-loved, and not just by me. It may have been difficult … anyway, the point is, how do we bring the ROI and Z-Lotz to the Meeting of the Six Tribes when we cannot trust them? And, we know very little of their language and customs. We tried having us sneak into the Z-Lotz village to learn more and that certainly did not go as planned. Eagle Eyes & I were very lucky to have escaped. And now we find ourselves in a position of ignorance about their current situation. The parents of Cat Eyes, Tree Vines and Gathers Acorns, were prisoners long enough to have learned something of their ways. Other than that, we have learned the most from Cat Eyes herself.”

“True,” said Many Paths, “But who are we talking about here? Horse Whisperer? Or, Cat Eyes?” 

Shadow Walker sighed. He smiled and realized he wouldn’t mind a few more blackberries. “I am not sure I have the full answer. I just have a feeling that Horse Whisperer can be trusted and he knows much about the ROI. If the ROI were still in their separate village, I would say we should send him to meet with the ROI and convince them to come to the Meeting of the Six Tribes. Unfortunately, we don’t have that option. The ROI are embedded now with the Z-Lotz. And, the person most well-suited to dealing with them is Cat Eyes. Although…”

Many Paths plucked a few more of the delicious blackberries and placed one on the lips of Shadow Walker who closed his eyes with pleasure. He chuckled and said, “That is the most delicious berry yet!”

Many Paths tilted her head and asked, “Although what?”

Shadow Walker sighed. “They might. They might still view me as their leader. I don’t know. It would be risky.” 

“What!?” Many Paths frowned. “You are not going to go there again! As you said, you were lucky to escape with your life! I need you and the Veritas need you. It’s true that I cannot well predict the Z-Lotz, but it seems quite likely that they would simply kill you on sight. Or worse.” 

Shadow Walker spoke quietly. “Yet, just a few minutes ago, you said that if we could save your life by surrendering to the Z-Lotz we should not do it.”

Many Paths scoffed. “Because there wouldn’t have been any point! They cannot be trusted to keep their word!” 

Shadow Walker bit his lip. “I know. That’s why I think we have a dilemma. You don’t trust them. I don’t trust them. The person who knows them the best — Cat Eyes — she certainly doesn’t trust them. I think it may be in their nature. In the same way that Horse Whisperer would help his tribe steal children without seeing anything wrong with it, I don’t think the Z-Lotz think lying and cheating and going back on their word means anything — or at least, it doesn’t mean what it does to us. We need to be careful. But if we really can’t trust them at all, then, what can come of a Meeting of the Six Tribes? Perhaps it should only be a meeting of the Five Tribes. Perhaps, when the Z-Lotz see the advantages to all five tribes, it could get them to change their ways. I don’t know. What do you think?”

Many Paths let out a long sigh. “I think we have eaten enough berries for one day. We’ve tamed eagles. And we’ve trained wolves. And we’re learning to tame horses. From Horse Whisperer. Maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s too large a leap to trust them at a council. That still leaves the problem of how to separate the ROI from the Z-Lotz and even if we succeed, that will certainly do nothing to help the Z-Lotz trust us! The last thing we did was to destroy — or at least temporarily disable — their precious killing sticks.”

Shadow Walker frowned. “We had to do that. If not … “

Many Paths nodded vigorously. “I know! I know! You did the right thing. I agree. But just as it’s hard for us to trust them, it will be hard for them to trust us as well.” Suddenly, Many Paths put up her hand for quiet and made the short but quick gesture to get down. Shadow Walker fell silently to his belly and put his hands behind his ears for better listening. The two of them slowed their breathing and listened. Something — or someone — seemed to be slithering in the blackberry bushes. 

——————————-

The First Ring of Empathy

Stoned Soup

Three Blind Mice

American Dream

Dance for Billions

The Ailing King of Agitate

The Watershed Virus

The Truth Train

Author Page on Amazon

American Dream

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Betray just once: Destroys both love and life.

Can you still hear the shot the world around?

Do sounds and echoes yet rebound around?

As Pattern, Betrayal fosters endless strife. 

When life and love don’t matter to some few;

When greed and lies become their normal ways,

Civility’s turned inside out and days

And nights whirl out of step into Gray and Blue.

Return, return, to common ground or sound

Of songs won’t long remain. Retained instead:

The din of war will echo in your head.

But bitter herbs & shiny shards are found. 

American dream too gladly grasped by greed

Escapes like wisps of smoke of self-served creed. 

———————-

Author Page on Amazon

Guernica

The Crows and Me

All for one; and none for most

All of us 

All together now

Stoned Soup

Three Blind Mice

Dick-Taters

Plans for US; some GRUesome

Imagine all the People

The Forgotten Field

Index to a Pattern Language for Collaboration & Cooperation