Standing alone in the wasteland
Of dying dreams and abandoned ideals,
I watched the greatest country in the world
Decay into an over-sexed, under-educated
Cesspool of self-gratification,
Intolerance and ignorance.
I saw culture, art, and creativity die,
Suffocated by the new plastic culture,
Whose sterile halls and prefabbed cathedrals
Were crowded with worshipers
Biting, kicking, scratching;
Trampling each other,
Screaming in a frenzy
Just to catch a glimpse
Of the great greenback god
And his hollow gifts,
Promising to fill the voids
And empty spaces
So you no longer wish to die.
I saw a once fit intelligent citizenry
Grow fat, lethargic, and dumb
Minds vegetating, souls atrophying
Entranced by hypnotic figures of light
Dancing in illuminated black boxes.
I saw an electric grid
Spread across the globe
Connecting different countries
As next door neighbors
While thickening the walls of our cells,
Isolated from the real touch of flesh,
Divided along the lines
They need us to fight,
Feeding us the truth
They need us to know,
Sucking the life from our veins.
I saw ignorance extolled as a virtue,
Confused with innocence,
Opinion and belief used to trump
Facts and Truth.
Facts manufactured and bred with
Fear and paranoia to suit the needs
Of oligarchical kings,
While anyone thinking outside the box
–outside their book–
Showing intelligence or critical thinking skills
Is ostracized; demonized
For not behaving like good little sheep.
Cries of oppression from those
No longer allowed to oppress,
Feeling persecuted because
Not everyone thinks as they do,
Feeling attacked because they can
No longer force lesser souls
To live by their rules.
I saw a people more offended
By peaceful nonviolent protests
Against injustice than by
Actual Nazis marching in the streets.
More concerned with who strangers
Love, fuck and marry than
Whether everyone has enough food to eat,
With making sure everyone shits
In their assigned areas than
Whether their neighbors
Get a death sentence
For being poor.
Master manipulator slight of hand
Giving them something new and shiny
To be outraged about
While they do as they please
Behind the curtain.
I saw superficial patriotism,
The last refuge of the scoundrel,
Worshiping symbols and songs,
Worried about winning and losing
Not about doing what’s right.
Shallow worthless symbols
Bereft of the virtues that
Once stood behind them.
I saw a great nation,
One whole built from many,
Shattered, splintered, and schizophrenic,
Decadent, divided, and depraved,
Under the banner of big business,
The dry bones of the poor
Crushed to dust under the heels
Of profit driven privateers,
With liberty and justice for none.
John W. Leys is a 44 year old disabled US Army veteran, husband and father. He’s been making up stories (and sometimes writing them down) for as long as he can remember and has been writing poetry since he was 14 years old. His favorite poets include Lord Byron, Ted Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, Catullus and Bob Dylan. In his spare time he enjoys fishing, reading philosophy, and playing his ukulele.