Poetry from Patricia Doyne

FLAG  in the CROSS-FIRE                

(based on art by Andrew Kong Knight) 

Andrew Kong Knight’s work can be viewed here:

Social Commentary – Fine Art Painting – Andrew Kong Knight | Flickr

White stripes.  Red stripes.                  

Red blood drizzles down                       

on bystanders and gang-bangers,         

night clubbers and school kids.             

The right to bear arms.                    

“When they shot through our windows,”

says the seven-year-old,

“my Mom put me in the bath tub.

She said, ‘Keep your head down!’

I was okay,

but my cat’s ear got shot off.”

The right to bear arms.

In my own quiet neighborhood,

there was a rash of thefts—

from cars, from closets, from garages… 

Only one thing stolen:  guns.

Think of that–  most of my neighbors

own handguns, shotguns, or rifles…

Only one guy is a hunter.

Do they think the British are coming?

No. These days, it’s Columbine and drive-bys,

snipers in rush-hour traffic,

gang pay-backs, drug wars, shoot-first cops,

or psychos with assault rifles, and a grudge.

Red stripes.  White stripes.

Bullet holes punch through the flag,

and the flag bleeds.

Bleeds until the pursuit of happiness

becomes the pursuit of more prisons,

the pursuit of gated communities,

the pursuit of walls to keep out

those who are loud, needy, angry, or different.

Too often, happiness bleeds away…

leaving life and liberty

as empty as spent shells.  

Copyright 9/16  Patricia Doyne 


PROGRESS:  A  PLANET’S  PERSPECTIVE

 Our planet is home to disaster

 as well as grand leaps and smooth take-offs.

 Chains of plot-twists build to cataclysm:                    

  an errant comet wipes out dinosaurs;

  continents stretch out, split up, regroup;

  earth’s axis tilts, and ice age turns to furnace;

   volcanoes spit up islands, bury cities.

   Thunder and destruction, then rebirth.

   Our planet stages riotous mutations.

    Sea water creeps ashore on its own legs,

     breathing that noxious poison: oxygen.

     Soon life has many branches: some with roots;

     some with shells and backbones, even wings.

     The new world sings of progress:  bipeds rule.

     Brains congratulate themselves on ways

      to use the planet’s bounty, make it work.

      Fossil products fuel a billion engines.

      Charged particles empower telephones,

       then telemarketers and robocalls.

       The internet explodes with “likes” and hackers.

        Water becomes more valuable than bit-coin.

         As rainforests burn, we prize the air we breathe,

        and try to market trips to outer space.

         On our rich planet, labels are updated.

          Polyester?  Now “performance fabric.”

         Plastic shoes and handbags?   “Vegan leather.”

          Pesticides are sold as “high-yield sprays.”

           Designer food-crops?  Call them “GMO’s.”

            Even designer kids are now for sale.

           But we can’t spin some side-effects of progress.

            Countless species wiped out, habitats lost

             for profit.  Ice cap melts. The oceans rise.

            Climate warms.  The ozone layer thins.

            Wildfires rage. Groundwater drains.

             Pollution poisons water, soil, and air.

             Plastic fills up oceans and our cells.

             A murmur of compassion for the planet

             is drowned by shouts to keep stockholders happy.

             The worried few recycle, use less, save,

             buy wisely, limit waste.  But all these folks

             use gas to get to work.  Electric cars?

             Electricity’s developed in gas turbines.

             The fuel we burn for transport, heat and light,

             the steaks and burgers raised on cattle farms

             rebound and undercut our planet’s health.

             Greenhouse gases trap heat, hold it in,

              setting the timer for catastrophe.

              Our stewardship of earth has not gone well.

              Doomsayers rage and wrangle, casting blame.

              Yes, always there’s rebirth: a new age dawning.

              But what comes next may fill us with dismay.

              If Mars has water, was there ever life there?

              We’re sitting, right now, on the cusp of change.

              Glacially slow, the wheel begins to turn.

              Copyright 6/2021           Patricia Doyne

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