Old Man Lost

“Shh, old man,” Reggie mumbled to himself as he eyed the TV. “It’s not the end of the world yet.” He leaned closer to the television. “The end of the world hasn’t come yet, for we old soldiers still sit in purgatory uncalled. Surely that devil would call us if he knew we sat at ease.” The TV blared, for Reggie used the sound against the loneliness of his soul.
News reports troubled him: the president declaring war actions, kids dying, no one understanding why killing was so easy for the man, volunteers sent packing as democratic pigeon minders, told they got no business, old people dying and no one caring.

”Hush, Reggie, pray he doesn’t call you. You can barely keep time at a social dance with the old women down in the basement of the church. Not much of a social, all of us left by families that know our minds are going. Not much to be happy for, to care for, to do. Puzzles and number thingy squares. Old women knitting. Women ruminating like cows, no brains left. Young folks and nurses bugging folks to be active. Folks showing us computers, damned machines. Shh, damn it, man, don’t get so upset. Don’t call attention to your dark soul. You don’t want the attention of that type. They bury us with trumpets blowing and our service honored, but there is little honor in what we did. We killed, oh that we served as God willed. Oh, that peace was close, but it ain’t coming.”

The news flooded the room. Missiles launching from planes, children laying dead, yellow gas coating everything. Reggie looked down at his hands. His hands, beautiful hands, that had held a child when it was born, helped it learn to walk, paid with labor to send his child to school, and watched with pride at the start of the Great War III. Strong hands that had served him, that had held his wife as she sobbed at the telegram from the War Department, now sat idle in his lap. Sad hands that watched the news take his wife’s will to live, that buried her.

“Reggie, man, you have to keep quiet, man. Don’t say your thoughts too loudly, or they’ll have you out the door as a traitor. I’m you, you know, still you. I’m me. I was…I am, I get so confused these days.”

He moved the food on his plate around in circles. TV food, the folks next door brought TV food to him each night. They said it was okay he didn’t know them. He hated that. They told him names. They had no faces. The food was placed on his TV tray. One plate, one fork, one spoon, one glass of water. His teeth were worn and so his food was precut, mushed by him into the catsup. He took a bite, swallowed, and took another. Food had no real meaning, it just kept him alive. It all tasted the same.

“When’s it morning, old man, when’s morning coming? Not soon enough. Devils on the TV, devils in church, next it will be devils in my home.”

The door to the room he sat in opened and closed. Reggie didn’t bother looking around.

“What do you want now?” he asked. “You don’t normally come for the dishes. Got something for me?”

Whoever had entered the room hissed at him, “Good evening, Reggie.”

“Don’t know why you bother me every night. I’m an old man. Got a devil for president, a war to begin more wars, ain’t nothing going to ever be okay again.”

“Your pain, it seems worse tonight, Reggie. Shall I take it from you?” The stranger moved to the front of the couch. He pushed the plastic container of pills in front of Reggie.

“Pain means I’m alive. I’m an old man. Ain’t nothing going to matter ever again. Leave me alone. I don’t want nothing from you.” He watched the TV change to a game show. “See they roll that wheel and people guess words. Fools always take too long. You want to watch this show with me? I ain’t about to go out with all that fireworks on the news going on.”

“I can take your pain away, Reggie. I can ease the burden of your heart.” The stranger sat down and rested his hand on Reggie’s knee. “I’m worried about you, Reggie, you don’t do anything but watch that idiot tube. The news will make your heart stop, if you keep watching it.”

“Heart stopped years ago when the wife died.”

“Reggie, all you have to do is tell me that I can take your soul to a different plane. But you have to say it.”

“Hell, you think you’re the devil or something? Take my soul to a plane. A plane to a place where no-one gives a damn. Nah, you get out. I’m not going with no devil. I have my own devils inside me. I live my own hell, don’t need to go to one.”

“Heaven won’t come to you, Reggie, not ever. You’ll never find relief sitting here. Come with me, Reggie, you’ll be warm and with family.”

Reggie watched the wheel spin. “Hey, weirdo, you know that phrase right there? Daniel Webster said it.”

“Fine, Reggie, fine. What’s the phrase?”

Turning to the illusion beside him, Reggie laughed and said, “Get the hell out.” He leaned back in his couch and closed his eyes. “Devil wouldn’t want me, I’m too much of a grumpy old Gus. Close the door as you leave. Damn curmudgeon needs his rest.”

The devil stood and smiled. Reggie was one of his favorites. He could bide his time. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Reggie.”

Did someone really say this?

A week or so ago, I read a WordPress site that made me incredibly sad. Indeed, it left me speechless. Syria is not going well for the so-called rebels, and it is even harder on the civilians who are caught between the government, their personal hopes, and those who are brave enough to speak out against the government of Syria. The writer had moved with her family to the United States after World War II. She was despairing of the lack of moral fortitude that allowed the Syrian people to leave their homeland and to seek a safer place to live. She wanted to know how people who supposedly wanted change to come to Syria could leave that battle and run to Europe, Canada, and the United States. Her grandparents had stayed in France to fight in the resistance against the Nazis. Were these people really expecting the world to accept refuges who wouldn’t fight for what they believed?

She went on for a long time, speaking of her moral superiority over these victims. My take was that after World War II the conditions weren’t good in France. Supplies were in short supply, and to provide a better living situation for their descendants, her grandparents moved to the U.S.

Aleppo this week has showed more reasons for leaving Syria. Innocents shot dead by the Army as they summarily moved into the west side of the city. Male, female, old, young, it didn’t seem to matter to the government forces. They were summarily executed. In a conflict of this nature, the world failed these people. The UN did not muster a protecting force. The Russians targeted schools, mosques, and medical facility. The Syrian government was more concerned with their propaganda showing Aleppo as a place for tourists to visit, than in working with and achieving a resolution to the problems that brought the revolt in the first place.

Donald Trump has said he could look into the eyes of a child from Syria and tell her or him that they had no right to come to us as immigrants. He’s notorious for making statements of intolerance towards others. I’ve also read accounts of people who claim religion, Christianity, and yet don’t understand that most basic cornerstone of the call for charity, generosity, and humanity. The old “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” apparently strikes no sympathy in their hearts. We have a tall lady in the New York harbor that stands bearing witness to the fact that all of us came from somewhere. Even the first nations know that their ancestors came from somewhere other than our continent.

We have so much as a nation and so many opportunities, is it possible that we can’t share a little of our prosperity and safety with others? Immigrants become some of our best citizens if we let them live and participate in our government.  They take the worst jobs and make the best of them, providing their children with educations which enable them to become better citizens.

Make no mistake, I hold that same opinion about those refugees who come from the Americas too. I feel that we have a heart that needs tending, and if we shut the doors based on race, we have worked against our own standard as the greatest nation currently in the world. We who have much, have a responsibility to act as though others matter. It’s Christmas, and we should keep that in mind as we change our government.

Word Challenge:Base

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/base/

Your base accusations thrown
Up into the light, then fired
Off one by one where others
Out of the loop mock and destroy.

You should have called, asked
While listening, looked again
For the rainbow's wraps between us
Where we had left them, uninterpreted.

Instead, you rose, phoenix-like voice
Raised, accusing me of stealing
Your opinions, inflating your ego,
Stealing away your personality.

Baseless, I thought, until I couldn't
Find a way between us with a flashlight.
I couldn't find the boxes of photos I
Had left in hiding, the photos of pain.

I looked for the boxes of joy, missing
The ominous spaces, the boxes of sorrow
Which had been sealed by us both. What dark
Adjustments were made by you without me?

Now we step like opposing forces armed 
To the teeth, with no base to function from
As the war begins. Why? Some blame time
Which was never my friend. Is it over?

Angry at the Lies of the Right

Insolvent and angry, you promised.
You lied, and you stole our lives.
Confronting lies isn’t easy
In the face of the opposition,
the political correctness..
But the world froze and turned,
Turning and frozen, it thawed
And the heat blazed freely,
A cancer in the souls
Of the poor, simple, lifelike
Golden people. The masses lead easily.
The cancer, a mass of anger,
For those without medicine,
Without a doctor.
Your lies grew great.

You scoffed at the students.
Who were learning to learn.
Scoffed again at those
Without your reckless faith.
Scoffed at me, the poet,
Who knows you, Lucifer, man.
Not a fallen angel but a construct of
Bullies and armies.
Lucifer, you celebrate my bruises,
while I lick my wounds.
Your dreams are follicles of ignorance.
Come for you?
I shall. Burning the way to your truth,
To your service without serving,
Oh Lucifer, you should have died,
At your own lips posturing
.
I dream truths. Dreamt dreams of truths.
Your violent words are no God’s words.
Your simple outlook, fraud.
A detective would mock you,
Wait for you to try again,
To deceive again.
Then the police shall find your lair,
And if one honest officer
Appears with the truth,
Hold that officer as a hero.
I shall chase your hypocrisy
Around the Circle of Willis
Cleansing as I go.
Your globe a bathtub handle
While my globe holds mystery
and vindication.
Oh, Lucifer of man, your republic of
Small minds will melt from the heat.
Lesser humans will smirk, but the compassionate will
Watch you fill the world with lies.
They will ignore your fallacies, shake their heads and begin
The work of cleaning vegetables
for the poor who hunger.