Poetry from Walter Shulits

George W. Bush, 43rd American president, making the Texas Hook'Em Horns sign in front of a microphone.
Homo Erectus Lives in Texas
also published in Alternate Route

(With apologies for any Texas-sized alternative truths…)                          

Texas is the nexus of the issues
that vex us…content to perplex us,
sucker punch our solar plexus, 
threaten the values that connect us.

Texans snicker that everything in 
Texas is better, bigger; maybe they 
need to rejigger the vigor with which 
they squeeze that AK-47 trigger,

and stop quacking about the benefits 
of fracking while all sentient beings 
are gasping and hacking. For migrants 
it’s nerve-wracking not knowing 

if they’ll be repatriated home or put on 
a plane to  Alaska—maybe Nome?—their                  
children sentenced to tents surrounded 
by barbed wire fence—just what exactly

was their offense? It’s scary if you’re 
trans-gender, treated like a sex offender: 
Reality be you’re no  longer free to choose 
where you’re gonna pee,

not against the “Wall,” definitely, that 
would be an obscenity because Texans
expect order at the Mexican border, 
these descendants of the Alamo

can’t take it anymo’, this migrant overflow,
now in a panic outnumbered by Hispanics,
drowning like DeCaprio on the Titanic…
and would you believe

a bi-weekly Baptist book-burning barbecue 
in Brownsville—burkas obviously banned— 
part of the catechism claiming there ain’t 
no racism or hate in the Lone Star State, 

where the Governor, a presidential candidate, 
expectorates as he defiantly states Texas 
won’t tolerate sexual reprobates—so if you’re 
bi or gay, just stay away,                                     

go play in LA—or move to some Massachusetts 
town where students tear all the statues down, 
tributes to American heroes vandalized  by          
spoiled woke zeros.                                                              
Thanks to the contortions of a Christian 
consortium, there’s a moratorium on almost 
all abortions—even in the case of rape, victims 
must escape to a more compassionate state

while gynecologists must cease and desist; 
if they resist it’s not a slap on the wrist, it’s 
jail not bail, and if that fails, a sniper bullet 
to their entrails….which leads to the 

elephant in the room—all those guns that go 
boom—it’s okay to bring this cliche into the 
melee because Texas is a blood-red state, 
and as more and more Democrats emigrate,

THE NRA whoops in elation, no more gun 
registration, Texas gonna lead the nation         
but then don’t be shocked when inside a first-
grader’s lunch box…an apple and a loaded Glock

so now teachers must pass a marksmanship test, 
buy a revolver and bulletproof vest, costly deal 
seems surreal but remember there are shootings
 in McDonalds over Happy Meals…

or while visiting a church in Texarkana, you get 
shot at by a Proud Boy in a MAGA bandanna 
because you won’t chant that hosanna—“God is 
the way, through his messenger the NRA.”

Billy Bob was really pissed, thought you were an 
atheist, damn heathen with no right to exist, but           
before he could squeeze off another round, your 
two hollow points knocked him to the ground, 

and all of a sudden you had joined the fight to smite 
those who would blight your civil rights, knew that
preserving Texas for your descendants was dependent 
on defending the 2nd amendment, found it thrilling

to see blood spilling during a mass killing, real not lame 
like in that “Mortal Kombat” game, Guadalcanal at the OK 
Corral in the high chaparral. So go to the mall y’all, stand 
tall, make ‘em fall ‘cause Texas calls: “Hook ‘Em Horns!”    

Four Diet Coke cans and water and a gun and a painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware on a night stand.
Elon Musk’s Bed Stand

Is it a covert confession, his guilt gushing, 
grabbing him by the ankles and shaking until 
truth tumbles onto the nightstand

or is the photo his personal meme, the renunciation 
of a carefully cultivated carapace, an assertion of 
who he really is…or is it nothing more than the result

of an inadvertent click of a camera capturing some guy’s 
distracted dumping of daily detritus, those pistols a ho-
hum in a country with more guns than people?

So, are we looking at some kind of hieroglyph hinting 
at a heretofore hidden hatred, or a psychopath’s
preparation to perpetrate a crime, or simply

an accidental still life of a makeshift Tupperware 
container…and that question can only be answered
by examining the nature of the objects in the picture

and probing for connections…not an easy task—like 
deciphering the previous moves that led to a position 
on a chessboard, an effort infinitely less intimidating

if you know who the players are—which in this case 
we don’t…all we have is a picture of things that at first 
glance—second and third glances as well—

simply don’t belong together, increasing the probability
the Polaroid was purposely posed and passed on to 
or purloined by some predatory paparazzi

pandering to the 48 percent of the public who parrot
the pablum of partisan politicians, cheer when a six-
year old exercises his right to bear arms

and shoots his first-grade teacher, want welfare programs 
wiped out but donate to crowd-funding so a 19-year old 
football player can drive a Bentley on campus…

regardless of who produced and procured the pic,
the question of motive remains, with a plethora of 
plausible possibilities, from that inadvertent Polaroid

to the cleansing of a conflicted conscience to a cloaked 
call to action by a captain of industry, a Congressman, 
a chief justice—or any collaborator in a cabal conspiring

to crank up a coup, to mesmerize the minuscule 
minds of those minions of mediocrity, mold them 
into a militia to make America great again—

but I digress; let’s let logic clean up this mess: What are 
the chances of an accidental photo being so perfectly  
centered on the nightstand, what are the odds

of some drowsy dude dropping four coke cans and a glass 
bottle on the table and they all remain upright—yeah, right.
So it should come as no surprise that I theorize 

the photo—regardless of whether the guy’d been hiding 
something he needed to purge or denying something he 
craved to exalt—was contrived to end all the lies,

to shed a daytime disguise, lamenting possibly repenting 
pretending to be a nonsectarian humanitarian when he has
been—and probably still is

a barbarian libertarian, lusting to grind socialists into carrion, 
espousing the genetic superiority of Aryans…all this despite 
publicly pledging to give away all his wealth—

convenient camouflage for his undercover stealth— and 
donating to the Rainbow Coalition while damning them 
faggots, lesbos and he-shes to eugenic perdition.

Please don’t run; I’m nearly done—Them guns ain’t  for fun, 
he doesn’t want his country overrun by drug-dealing migrant 
scum; from his QAnon history book he’s well aware 

that Washington crossed the Delaware to kick Beaners in the 
derriere to keep them from claiming welfare and medical care 
and putting up tents on Times Square—

it’s almost more than he can bear—repressive progressives, 
woke jokers and blowhard libtards chipping away at his bill 
of rights—and he’s been ready to fight except

he can’t sleep at night; even though those cokes are caffeine-
free, every two hours he needs to pee; rather than wake up, 
hobble and wobble, he pisses in that glass bottle—let’s hope he 

doesn’t get thirsty and take a swallow—and something else requires
extreme unction: all that sugar gives him erectile dysfunction; if word 
leaked out about this bigot’s spigot, his spineless spout,

if his undercover brothers discover that he is other than 
a big-dicked mother…he’ll be corseted in a kaftan, lynched 
by the Ku Klux Clan then punji-sticked like in Vietnam, 

or an Oath Keeper will inject acid in his ureter, then chop off his 
peter, these operations ordered by his fellow hedge fund honchos, 
banker bigwigs and tech titans frightened of a public enlightened,

of disclosure that they’re all posers—lip service to going green, 
have to protect the fossil fuel machine, pious palaver opposing 
abortion yet their pregnant paramours endure surgical contortion— 

oh how they rile up the rabble, those bedraggled cattle ever 
ready for battle, get them foaming and furious with jingoistic 
vitriol compelling but spurious…and indeed they never 

personally intercede, you’ll never see them bleed, cabalists 
with a nativist creed, a breed fueled by gluttonous greed, 
happy to let sycophants do their dirty deeds:

they’ll never be held liable, out of sight with hands on the Bible while
the riffraff en masse  kick democracy’s ass, a reactionary master class 
leads to legislative impasse, autocracy under guise of democracy, 

a Christian theocracy, a border patrol of criminals on parole, 
18 new corporate tax loopholes, retraction of affirmative action, 
inaction on police overreaction against minority factions.

Please accept my regrets—we haven’t explained yet that
Buddhist amulet: I don’t think it’s for spiritual protection 
because worshipping the dollar is his predilection,

the face in the mirror his only genuflection; it’s about misdirection, 
circumspection over who controls the insurrection. He’s taken an 
approach derivative from events in times primitive, 

a deception tour de force like the Trojan horse, a symbol of compassion 
used for good old head bashing: now don’t chuckle—in your fist 
it’s a Dharmic brass knuckle that’ll make those bastards buckle.

I’m no private eye so I can’t identify the guy and he’s so sly 
he can always buy an alibi… and frankly I’m scared shitless
I’ll end up on the militia’s hit list unless I cease and desist, but

it’s clear the guy ain’t no working class lout ‘cause money and 
clout are what it’s all about, so he can strike with impunity 
to dominate the social media community, fire millions of tweets—

dopamine for his addicted sheep— rail against kikes and dikes 
but he’s still swamped by Facebook “likes” even though he’s not 
the one who writes, his anonymity so critical politically,

and the guy is definitely American—just look at the guns he’s carryin;
no other country has drive-in windows for guns—get a burger with a
bazooka while you’re on the run, shoot up dance halls just for fun.

Help, I think I’m being tailed—I could be jailed or impaled—better 
beat a retreat before things overheat and the Wagner Group 
turns me into sausage meat…but even though I’m a coward 

I don’t want democracy devoured by Fascists empowered and my 
heart is still red white and blue so before I bid adieu I’ll leave some 
clues for you to construe and then decide what to do: 

Follow the money at an electric car company, its financials in the 
shitter but the CEO still bought Twitter, clearly overreached while 
he flaunted freedom of speech, but there’s a huge ethical  breech; 

political persuasion though a brazen online invasion leading to guns 
blazin’ in the Capitol of the nation… and then there’s the hedge fund 
wizard, a Machiavellian lizard, 

trying to grab regulators by the gizzard, set up PAC after PAC so 
Congress would have his back…next turning to the Supreme Court,
the list of possible conspirators anything but short, 

their opinions of great import, the consequences impossible to thwart, 
and I know I’m being cynical but the right wing majority has been 
clinical, dare I say criminal: The Court contorted the Constitution 

as it water boarded  Roe v Wade, state gun laws were waylaid, the EPA 
effectively spayed, federal funds for church schools okayed…and finally 
there’s the red state governor, a Harvard-educated southerner—

the chump dumped Trump and hit the stump—appalling polemic 
during the pandemic, health experts aghast when he trashed 
students wearing masks,

no migrants in his backyard—all deported to Martha’s Vineyard…
okay, I guess I deserve a reproof for playing loose with the alternative 
truth; it’s uncouth to cast aspersion linking people to subversion 

but it’s in the intimacy of his privacy that man sheds his piety and 
anxiety, and if you can infiltrate that space, get behind the poker 
face, you might find more than a trace

of a disgust for the human race; the guy just might be a traitor, a civil 
rights violator or a coup instigator….and if the night stand is an indicator,
just imagine what you might learn from his refrigerator.

Francisco Goya's famous oil painting The Third of May 1808, where soldiers with guns line up to shoot unarmed men at night with a large building in the distance. One man has already fallen in a pile of blood.
Goya’s The Third of May 1808
How Not to Enjoy a Goya

(With apologies to Goya’s “The Third of May 1808”)

Ho hum…just another line ‘em up shoot ‘em dead
picture, kind of like bowling except the pins are
made of flesh and bone, they bleed—wouldn’t it
be cool if bowling pins set off sparklers when you
crush ‘em—-and don’t reset: I mean what kind
of human cartridge cushion of sane mind

would get up just to be shot again—Muhammad Ali’s
rope-a-dope tactics don’t work too well with bullets—
so better to just be swept to the back of the alley—
ooh,a double entendre—which I’m guessing is what
happened here later but you never can tell because
shooters, like bowlers,

get blisters on their trigger fingers unless they’re
seasoned professionals in which case their calluses
are as callous as their compassion is constipated,
and remember it takes time to reload before the next
troupe of targets traipses in, while the unseen widows
lack the strength to dig a hole deep enough

to house 30 or so homicided husbands, so much heavier
than bowling pins, so it’s highly possible that the bodies
were just left where they fell, the pattern making a pretty
sick Rorschach test for any helicopter hovering overhead
or maybe a 3D topographic map of a chain of Pacific
islands being swallowed by rising seas.

Understand that this genre of painting goes beyond just
guns, to guillotines, garottes, swords and hangman’s
nooses depending on cultural protocols for mass killings
and the mood the artist wants to manufacture; obviously
guns are logistically the simplest—no need for a tree or
wooden cross, or gasoline, which is expensive—

and also extremely efficient if you want to ramp up
volume rapidly, but guns also release those hideous
poisonous gases that pollute Mother Earth…and there’s
something seductive and artsy about a masked guy
with earbuds carrying a curved sword on his massive
shoulders hip hopping,

locking and popping as he raps “Yo, you be dreading
that I be heading to your beheading; my sword go sledding,
your neck it’s shredding,” and don’t overlook the fact that
both the sword and the guillotine give us the bowling balls
needed to complete our sporty metaphor: Come On Baby,
Let The Dead Heads Role…

but why is it that it’s always a black guy who gets shot—
okay, sometimes he’s brown, let’s not get picky, just as
long as it’s a dark color, white would mean there goes
the promotion for the shooter; he’d be in deep shit…
but in any case here the marksmen sang the refrain
“the bloodstain from the brain on the plain

is in the main from enemies of Spain.” The old masters
focused on the murderous machinations of military master-
minds, barbarism through the prism of impressionism,
depicting how against Attila the Hun the Romans were
stunned then overrun and how under Pol Pot resistance
went for nought, at least a million Cambodians shot

while another blockbuster depicted how Custer failed to pass
muster, his campaign so lackluster, reputation shorn, a target
of scorn after his troops were butchered at Little Big Horn…
Meanwhile other artists were sensing a gold mine in dispensing
canvasses wrenching in their rendering of ethnic cleansing,
paintings avant-garde of bodies marred or charred,

a huge creative stride, the subjects fried, gasified in the come
hither cauldron of genocide: Hutus on patrol, decapitating
Tutsis their only goal—a Tutsi roll, get it?—Turkey showing no
mercy in making beef jerky of Armenians while Hitler used
every ruse to hide gassing the Jews who—quick learners—
butchered the Palestinians like America did its Indians—

it’s all so cruelly Darwinian—and it’s the United States that
continues to take the mass execution genre to new heights
with paintings of pop up performances in population centers
and public places big and small—Miami, Philly, Uniontown
Alabama, Tulsa Oklahoma, elementary schools, Walmarts,
Waffle Houses, abortion centers,

salivating artists rooting for more colorful mass shootings
while the NRA is tooting that guns don’t cause these shootings
or the ensuing lootings, this posse of quasi Nazis high steppin’
for their rights to carry weapons, denying that all across
the nation there is a direct correlation between the absence
of gun regulation and civic conflagration. Do you think

the bastards in the painting would have had the balls to do
battle with their victims in a boxing match, no bullets, or would
the cowards have cringed, become unhinged, no counterfeit
courage from schleppin’ that weapon…and might there be less
fatalities from police brutality if a cop wasn’t afraid of being
popped, sent to heaven by a teenager with an AK-47

but America loves winners and fun with guns has made the USA
#1 in mass killings—oh, it’s so fulfilling— and we celebrate our
success with mega- events, Super Bowls of Slaughter, post-game
festivities including billy club bashing, water cannon colonoscopies,
pursue and pepper spray the perp spectacles, and behold he’s out
cold from the perfect chokehold demonstrations.

So Mr. Goya, I don’t wanna annoy ya, but your painting just
doesn’t rate, it’s so out of date, its techniques obsolete—
like phone books, Blockbuster, Buick Le Sabres, Silvio
Berlusconi, Blackberrys, Joe Biden—I know it’s bittersweet but
you just can’t compete with the sausage meat made of men
on the street in modern mass murders, and while it’s not

something I condone, today’s artists are prone, for example,
to death delivered by drone—such a boost to testosterone—
part of a propensity toward butchery with high corpse density
or bodies stacked as high as a mountain, blood spurting like
a fountain because collectors have become jaded, the allure
of the standard school shooting has faded and unfortunately

the value of this canvass has been degraded, so if I may proffer
some advice—and I’m so sorry about the painting’s drop in price—
but if you were to give your consent, it might be possible to reinvent
your masterpiece—I know it’s a real bummer—in the format paint
by number for children six or younger: just think how you could
influence their formative years.

 Walt Shulits is a retired bond market professional and lifelong paddling fanatic-canoe, sea kayak, outrigger canoe and surf ski-who stumbled upon writing poetry while searching for a non-sport activity that would give him the same sense of living in the moment as paddling. Residing in Provence, France he spends as much time as possible in his beloved Hawaii. He tries to write poems for the multitudes who find poetry as incomprehensible as Sanskrit or as unappealing as mountain oysters.  Walt's poems have appeared in Dumpster Fire, Fleas on the Dog. Gargoyle, Griffel, Pike Press, and Wingless Dreamer.