Appeal for Leniency
by Richard D Croft
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"A couple days ago...
that man...." "Mr. Whitman?"
"Yes, him." "Let the record show,
the witness fingered Mr. Walter Whitman,
forevermore resident of Camden, New Jersey,
formerly a fleshy, sensual, breeding kosmos of Huntington, Long
"Yeah, well that kosmos tried to touch me...
in the secret place." "With his hands?"
"No, worse -- with words --
said he aimed to assume my atoms."
"Assume your atoms... with words? -- that's absurd."
"Says you. Think he almost got 'em."
"So what then?...Was there struggle?"
"I had to consent -- he's mandatory reading."
"Hmm, I see. But did he try to fondle...."
"I'd say that's where things were leading."
Mr. Whitman, are you to tell me you were unaware --
having lived a lifetime in a capitalist state --
that assuming another's atoms doesn't pass the bar here?
-- it puts you behind 'em six to eight!
Yet, given your service in an uncivil war,
and as the prosecution still has their atoms in place,
and keeping in mind that you've been dead six score,
I'm prepared to show lenience in your case.
That said, has the defense anything more?
Bear in mind, high drama pleases reporters
but not Your Honor, who writes your final sentence.
This isn't free verse, so shorter is better,
as a new trial is soon to commence."<
"Your Honor, the defense calls Walter Whitman, son of Manhattan,
to take a stand, in this, his eleventh hour of last resorts.
As he is no stander above men or women, or apart from them,
he will sing his heart from the jury box, if it please the court."
Omitting all objections by the plaintiff,
following is the testimony of one Whitman, Walter,
as delivered to Bob the bailiff,
by the People's Court stenographer:
"We deckhands, America, we deckhands,
are we mice or are we men,
when we lift not a finger when asked for a hand,
though we've ten and two idle to lend?
Selfish as shellfish poked with a stick,
many hearts wink shut when the conscience is pricked.
The play of oblivion's an unforgivable trick.
Pry open your shells, dispense pearls to the sick.
Read poetry to amputees, wipe the spittle from their lips.
I am drunk with love and ageless,
and adore my Freudian slips.
My blessings transcend -- almost reckless.
I touch the steely arms of gangsters,
discharge the guns that hang from their hips.
I lie to my virgin fingers,
the satellite dream channel flips.
Dandelions bloom in the doorway.
The Brooklyn Ferry's in dry dock --
boarded only by poet's play,
where it's washed against the rocks.
The needy cling to their dying days,
hands slipping like a ticking clock's,
while the greedy spend the bulk of their pay
nullifying the body electric's shocks.
To me, the latters' hearts seem distant and strange;
I've watched them manage their accounts.
For the poor, they have no spare change,
yet they've enough for a box of Bounce.
I wonder how it could be so important to them
to part their underwear from their socks,
that they'd let life part from a dying man
and spend salvation on a new set of locks.
And as for our captains, they are no Lincolns.
They are woeful wonks and wags.
Yet to lead us, we elect them.
We set fat pigeons on the eagle's crag.
One liked to toot, but not a bugle,
and got caught being corrupt,
athwart his mistress in the Vista Hotel --
that bitch, she set him up.
One exhaled a lot of Hope
and little of Hot Springs.
He sucked a roach of hippy dope,
but sucking and inhaling are different things.
I've nothing against leaves of grass
-- they make for good poems and parachutes --
but when your cigar's up your intern's ass,
it's clear you're marching to a different flute.
Yes, your captains, your captains, they rose up but incorrectly.
They heard the bells and flung their flags,
but their masts stood too erectly.
They love to golf and love to shag.
And the least of two evils are the democrats.
Yes, I've been beating around the Bush.
If you're trying to find the real rats,
Star's still dusting Lewinsky's tush.
SATs and grades didn't get Bush into Yale;
it was his score on the annual fund
which squashed any chance that he'd fail.
This, of course, is affirmative action
afforded to white collar males,
I'd abide his stance against Michigan
if he hadn't been aided by what he assailed.
Glaciers groan in Glacier Park,
Gondolas make rooftop landings
The snows of Kilimanjaro look unseemly dark
Global Warming's iffy, not withstanding
As for Iraq, it's considered treason
to say we did right for wrong reason.
But it's clear that mega-corporations
have relations in our present administration.
Did we arm the Butcher of Baghdad
to provide pretext for intereferece?
Was there any question that he was mad --
that he'd use our weapons of mass deterence.
It's hard to say. I don't know.
Have we been guarding our chickens with foxes?
It's stuck in my craw and won't let go
when I see boys coming home in boxes.
If Bush is playing world monopoly,
he should be sent straight to jail,
but we gave him the keys to the land of the free --
I hope his daddy can still make bail.
Dear America, our crow's nest is empty,
and a cabin boy mans the wheel.
It's sad to say, but we should know it anyway
our captain never learned how to sail.
Animals in the Clouds