Cost of the War in Iraq
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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ode to a Man I Never Met

For Daniel Thompson

". . . when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. . ." - John Donne, Meditation 17

by Kevin E. Cleary

I feel like a fraud
as I sit with pen in hand
or mouse and keyboard,

Wielding these things
has made me feel this way
before, but not like this.

For a man I never met
stands over my shoulder,
or behind me and in-front,

You're mixing metaphors,
he chides, and you stole
that from Simon and Garfunkel.

No, I insist, I'm making reference
to John Donne's Meditation 17,
like Paul Simon did
in "I am a Rock."

Yes, he says, but I know
you only ever read Donne
because of Simon.

He gives me this confident smile,
like my Grandma when she's trying
to annoy me, but is acting oblivious.

He has that same child-like and Confucian
wisdom about him, that perfect
mixture of simultaneous calm and passion.

You can go with the Santa comparison,
he tells me, I don't mind. That same
irritating and amusing and calming smile.

Get thee behind me inner Daniel!
You're worse than my inner mother,
and besides I wasn't even trying
to write a poem.

I'm joking with his voice in my head
so I feel less crazy when I reason with others
True, he calmly nods before taking his leave.

As imaginary, ethereal inner Daniel departs,
he whispers two pieces of advice:

Rarely let your left brain know
what your right brain is thinking,

and great things can happen if
you keep your heart and imagination
on the same page.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


by Kevin E. Cleary
May 20, 2005 C.E.
7:50 PM EST
To my future wife:

Your eyes are candlelight
dinners on a breezy summer evening
fanning flames within my soul
that flicker, dance, and peak
even faster than my heartbeat
as you approach.

You’d think it would slow
like a fading metronome
with the passage of time
or that my love would hit
an apex sooner or later

But I find more and more
that Olympus Mons is no match
for the heights to which
I would climb
for one more glimpse of you.

No metaphor is too grand,
no superlative can ever suffice
to describe my joy

In fact, I’d even eat Soy-
Everything for the rest of my life
if I had to, just to be able
to stand with you
as man and wife
on a breezy summer evening
lost in your eyes.

Drowning in the Rising Tide

by Kevin E. Cleary

Oil prices keep finding new excuses to surge,
And this rising tide is only lifting yachts.
We’ve run out of welfare rolls to purge
The poor have become like flies the wealthy like to swat.

We buzz around now, from one low-end job to the next.
Can’t save a penny while they nickel-and-dime us
We get wacked on food, screwed on taxes, no respect
We get shooed away from the table nearly every time.

They treat us like bastard children,
but tell us to act like adults.
Their crimes never bring a siren,
except the media’s playful insults.

Who speak softly of a middle-class squeeze,
But we’re all getting trapped like sardines
As CEOs tap-dance on the lid with glee
Their social climbing comes from liens

On our property, and foreclosures to boot
us from the social ladder. Standing on
the top rung, they trickle-down black soot.
CEOs, the pros of every con.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Where Have All The Rabbis Gone?

by Kevin E. Cleary

I yearn to
walk through the world unsullied
by greed and corruption.

I want to stroll through the Temple
and throw the Moneychangers
out on their ears.

I strive to call the Pharisees on their bullshit
as they would so cavalierly take their Lord's life
in vain,
and focus solely on his death.

They'd rather be exalted martyrs
than live a second of his life.
Whitewashed blood stains
their moral castles built on sand.

A Jesus fish is their backstage pass
to the Kingdom of Heaven,
so why not scorch the Earth?

They'll gladly fry an innocent
on an electric crucifix.
Blessed are the rich,
for they shall make the poor repent.

Do unto others
before they do unto you.

There's no one to admire anymore
when one's religion is bought and sold
in a Bible store where everyone's illiterate.

The words of today's prophets
misspelled in spray paint
on abandoned factory walls
make me want to take down the "sistim."

But God has given me no flaming swords
with which to lead;
aside from my vitriolic words
which I just wish were ploughshares.
And the only miracle I've seen
is that I've survived so long without loaves and fishes.