Shelter in Place




The corpocracy that controls us all,
tells us that when the great cosmic
foot comes crashing down

upon your own private anthill
or city or hotel or public space
your instructions are always to:
Shelter in place. Good advice

on a daily basis, they say. The Press Secretary
and Homeland Security and FBI and all the
news outlets say the same thing: Stay home

all you roamers and rebels
and thrill seekers and disrupters
of all ages. Stay home all you spreaders
of rumor and fear and terror.

We can spread enough fear and terror for
us all. Build a fire, they say. Cook some pancakes
with GMO Nabisco prepackaged wheat

harvested from the aisles of Walmart
or Shop ‘n’ Go and please drink whatever
demobilizes you: whiskey or bourbon or rum
or even  snort some government heroin.
But please, shelter in place.

Hunker down in your personal cave
to keep out Muslim desert lion or Russian bear
or scary negro criminal hostage-takers with guns
or lying republican councilmen slavering
over your children and your backyard swing sets.

Stay alive for a while in situ
(Latin for “in place,” where you are)
and do not admonish the gods

for they no longer interfere in the affairs
of the human race, having long ago given
them up for a hopeless case. Too far
gone to resurrect from their collective coma.

OR: you can wake up! crawl out from your holes,
from under your rocks, and throw caution to
the four winds, the four horsemen
that assault us from all sides.

Take up your pen, the weapon mightier
than the missile or saber, gird yourself with
the great literature of the past and present, and
write poems against the men and women who
want to keep you down. Who want to suck the life
blood from your heads and hearts and souls.

Forget in situ, stick your head
outside your shell like the rebel turtle
you once thought you were

and snap at anything that moves dressed in
a  Brooks Brothers suit and a long red tie.
March! March as in days of yore, days of your
youth or your parents’ and grandparents’ youth
who marched and wrote and sang songs

against an illegal war. For this is a war, a war for the planet,
for water, for trees, for breath itself, the right to breathe
clean air and live in harmony as one with nature

not as one with fallout shelters, Home Shopping Networks
and gambling casinos with coupons for free cigarettes
and stock exchanges who have only the safety of their
shareholders’ patioed-and-pooled lives in mind,

not the humble home you work hard to own or rent
or the trailer park with no trees owned by absentee
landlords who only want the blood off your backs that
you slave for each week to feed your children who often
get sick by drinking the water or breathing the air

while our leaders bomb refugees, and deport mothers
and fathers who have been working here for years
now living in fear of being cast aside like unwanted
chaff from the millstone that grinds us all
into grist for the vast TV reality machine.

Forget sheltering in place!
Wake up! Cast off your shell!
Crawl out of your hole. Pick up your pen,
that mightiest of weapons, and write
your own American protest poem
drawn from the deepest part
of your 21st century’s broken heart,
for there is only now, and
the now is running out
each day fading backwards
into a new gilded age of masters and slaves.


Featured Art: Temporary Basement Fallout Shelter
… unknown artist (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)
…..[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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