4/4/20: Death Terrors #poetry

4/4/20: Death Terrors #poetry

I’m not afraid of dying

I’m afraid of suffocating

I’m not afraid of dying alone

I know I’ll die alone

My mother died alone

I saw her the afternoon before

But she was alone

Alone in her dementia

Alone in her sleep

She didn’t want to die at first

She cried like a baby

She yelped like a puppy

She was such a little thing

Four feet long

ninety pounds

but then she changed

she accepted her death

she didn’t fight it

she mustered a smile for me

one last look of tenderness

and drifted to sleep

The next morning


I got the call that she was gone

My father was more stoic

He knew that he was dying

He settled his affairs

He forgave his enemies

He told everyone what he felt about them

On the night he died

as reported to me

I wasn’t there

My mother came to him and asked him to eat

He said that’s over now

He kissed her and stroked her arm

and asked her to go into the other room

They knew he was going to die that night

She did as he asked

and he died alone on his bed

We all die alone

I’m not afraid of dying

I’m not afraid of dying alone

We all die alone

I’m afraid of suffocating

My aunt just died

She lived alone

all by herself

in an independent living facility

depending on the kindness of strangers

and unlike Blanche DuBois

she found that kindness

a nurse

a neighbor

an estates attorney

a banker

and in the end an undertaker

tended to her needs

She knew she would die soon

“I’m 95 years old” she’d say with a laugh

She wasn’t afraid to die

but she was disappointed at the end

she said “I didn’t want it to be this way”

I don’t know what dissatisfied her

She was buried during the pandemic


like everyone else

our faces are illusions

they disappear as our breath

diminishes to nothing

My brother and I couldn’t take the trip to where she died

Death prohibits all travel

Death is a stay in place situation

Motion ends

Still blindness prevails forever

Life is an opportunity to imagine meaning

and for a time to think that our imaginings are real

then penultimately to recognize our own illusions

and then to die

The only thing that matters

the only thing

was in my mother’s weak tender look at me

on her death bed

the only thing is care and kindness

We are all alone


in life and in heaven

we live alone and die alone

We are all as solitary as a COVID-19 casualty

struggling for her last breaths in a crowded hospital hallway

we suffer and we are alone

and even those who we perceive closest to us

will ask us to leave the room when they die

we are solitudes

planets revolving about each other

and the only thing that counts

is our tenderness towards each other in our mutual solitudes

our understanding that the other lives and dies alone

and is afraid of suffocating

I’m afraid of suffocating

My aunt’s funeral was a professional affair

Her body tended by a priest, her nurse and the undertaker

That’s it

It seems a life should be noticed more when it passes

I don’t know why I feel that way

I don’t know what difference it makes

My aunt died alone like everybody else

I’m preoccupied by nature’s terrors

and man’s perverse ignorance and cruelties

and gravitate toward those who love

and try to love myself and others


I’m not afraid of dying alone

I’m afraid of suffocating

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas






4/1/20: Killing Us #Poetry #Pandemic

4/1/20: Killing Us #Poetry #Pandemic

Killing us

Narcissism is killing us

A new father wants to witness the birth of his child

He knows he has symptoms

He knows he’s been exposed

He doesn’t disclose

He infects his wife

He panics the maternity ward

He contaminates a sacred place

He compromises many lives

because he is an immature child himself

He just had to be there

and he is killing us

Trash capitalism is killing us

The office manager pushes his peons to stay in their cubicles to the bitter end

one of them that I know gets sick

what happens to the others

It’s killing us

Every person who thinks that money is more important than other people’s lives

be they Presidents, Governors, Rich, Middle-Class or Poor

Everyone who drank the kool-aid of an immoral economic system

is killing us

Everyone who ever insulted or mocked “losers”

who humiliated other people

the rapists, the thugs, the bullies

everyone who lived for greed and power and not love

is killing us

That attitude is the reason that doctors, nurses and other health care workers

go into battle without body armor or guns

Lambs to the slaughter

is killing us

Anyone who said government was a bad thing

actually argued against civilization itself

those people are killing us

Health insurance companies that made a right into a commodity

and created a culture where we accepted that people could be allowed to die if they didn’t have the means to survive

are killing us

Prisons run for profit

crowded to the rafters

breeding grounds of death

devaluing human lives

figuring out a way to make a buck off of lost people

instead of helping them

are killing us

The idea that soldiers should die not for our freedom

but rather for the profits of oil companies and contractors

is killing us

Religious fanatics said that the AIDS epidemic was God’s punishment of homosexuals

A vile violent sentiment

We are experiencing an American Holocaust

not as God’s punishment

But as the logical outcome

of all that is killing us

including religious fanaticism

A “Christian” University keeps its dorms open and creates a death cluster in its surrounding area

Killing us

A state leaves its beaches open far beyond the time they should be closed

Killing us

A mayor wants to encourage local business and goes out for a drink and visits a health club on the eve of shutting down all activity

sending a mixed message and killing us

Lemmings form large crowds at a harbor to view a hospital ship coming into port

and creating more sick people to overburden the hospitals of the city that the ship was sent to relieve

Our greed

our resentment

our stupidity

our narcissism

our selfishness

our bowing to authority

our choice of some crude definition of success as opposed to what’s right

our lack of community


are killing us

Our choice is clear now

either we individually and collectively commit to human decency

or we won’t survive

When we get through all of this

things must be different

Germany admitted its sins after World War II

and flourished in the aftermath

Our darkness is much trickier than Nazism

Madison Avenue and Hollywood are the greatest propaganda agencies ever made

We have been brainwashed to be



“I consume therefore I am ”

“It is worse to be poor than to be a criminal”

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”

We turned our ambition into a national religion

and we disregarded what matters

What matters being unattended for forty years

is killing us

If you don’t think that a nurse is infinitely more important than a salesman

you are

killing us.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas






3/30/20: Jokes and Comments from Today’s White House COVID-19 Briefing #poetry #humor #commentary

3/30/20: Jokes and Comments from Today’s Briefing #poetry #humor #commentary

Trump is expected to announce a revival of “Hands Across America” at today’s White House Briefing.

Trump is joining Abraham Lincoln as one of the only two Presidents overseeing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans on American soil during their tenures. When informed of this fact, President Trump reacted proudly, “And I did it without freeing a slave!”

In fairness, every American has been tested mightily since Trump became President.

Trump just took credit for the lives of every American who hasn’t died in the pandemic yet.

Every American who does not thank Trump for his leadership doesn’t get the $1200.

Trump doesn’t need science at the briefing. He has the My Pillow guy. Read your Bible and thank God for Trump. That’s useful information!

Trump just announced his slogan for the 2020 campaign:
1000 Points of White.
Trump continued his unprecedented Presidency today by being the first President to declare war on the American people.
The My Pillow guy has just donated 1 million pillows to smother American seniors to death for the economy. Praise God.
Trump just said the COVID-19 response/mass murder is “going great” and that “it will happen quickly.”
The Pandemic Response is a great victory for Trump and American business. Really, really, really … Trump said it 500 times … it’s a victory get it … see how tremendous Trump and business is … he repeated himself and was very strong in his assertion … it’s true … Trump … Business great, great, great … beyond criticism …
Trump says we will be stronger because of this — except of course for the dead people. They’ll be dead.
Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas



3/30/20: You Call This an Economy? #poetry #economy #COVID19

3/30/20: You Call This an Economy? #poetry #economy #COVID19
Conservatives and capitalists, who are normally so demanding of “results” and “taking responsibility” never admit that their system doesn’t work. $1200 or so per person is OK for a second, but answers nothing. Nor do any of their other “stimuli.” If a house couldn’t withstand a storm, you’d analyze what was wrong with a house — where and how it was built, how it was maintained etc. Our economic system breaks down a lot. It can’t withstand major and minor shocks. We can’t afford our economic system. We can’t afford paying the interest on our usurous loans. We can’t afford death profiteers in the pharmaceutical and health insurance industry. We can’t afford employers like Wal-Mart paying shit wages and forcing the rest of us to pay for a social safety net to keep some of their employees alive. We can’t afford economic policies based on people wanting great wealth and yachts. Our economic system doesn’t take care of people’s needs — and that is what an economic system has to do.
Forgive student loans.
Hell, forgive all debt —- credit cards, mortgages, consumer loans
tell the banks they aren’t going to make the money that they expected — money they didn’t earn anyway
Stop revering their capital and revere our lives
Let’s first work to make sure that everybody has what they need — food, shelter, health care, personal safety and security, education — the basics and then after that everybody can do what they want.
First a service to the collective
and then the pursuit of your individual happiness, however you define it.
It seems simple to me.
I’m not an economist,
just a human being.
Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

3/30/20: Don’t Get Angry, Don’t Speak Up #poetry #oppression #rant #righteousindignation

3/30/20: Don’t Get Angry, Don’t Speak Up #poetry #oppression #rant #righteousindignation
Don’t get angry
Don’t speak up
Be insulted
Smile and take it
Be denied recognition that you’ve earned
That’s OK
Be sent home under house arrest
Fear for your life and the life of others
Lose your savings
Have anxiety over money
Take orders and don’t talk back
Be battered by Nazis in power
And their capos in the office, the neighborhood, the social media feed
Really suffer because of their meanness and stupidity
But don’t say a word
Don’t offend them
Use friendly persuasion
If you protest
it’s your problem
You’re angry
You’re bitter
You’re crazy
It’s you
not them …
They know they are wrong
and it bothers them when you say it
It punctures their fragile false image of themselves
Their nonsense about phony religion
Their bromides about markets and competition and innovation
When really they are just looting everything
and robbing gold teeth and jewelry off of our corpses
Don’t get angry though
Don’t speak up
It’s not effective
Just look at how effective the people are who curry their favor
use gentle persuasion
and try to moderate their criminality
You ruin my life and then tell me to get in line and mind my manners with you?
Go fuck yourself.
Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

3/30/20: Murdered #poetry #COVID19

3/30/20: Murdered #poetry #COVID19
100 -200,000 deaths predicted
If we’re lucky
Murdered by incompetence
Murdered by arrogance
Murdered by ignorance
Murdered by greed
Murdered by the half of America who are happy to watch others die
If it puts a dollar in the pockets or kisses the ass of their resentments
Murdered because weak people don’t stand up to the immorality of their neighbors
Murdered because people are afraid of being labeled angry or crazy when they are simply saying truths that murderers don’t like to hear
Murdered by Democrats who only present a better alternative, Biden when we need a complete revolution
Murdered by advertising and entertainment
Murdered by honoring the ability to amass dollars instead of real achievement in science, personal character, the professions and art
Murdered by half of the American people
Murdered by all of the American character
The American character is not good
We reward what is meaningless
We ignore what is important
Even the best of us are too tolerant of the worst
The best of us are frustrated
The worst are nihilists
We are indecent country
Looking for comfort and escape
Devoid of love
Unappreciative of the best among us
Not listening to what each of us is born to hear
Our conscience
Our heart
Divine biology
Chemicals produced by our bodies’ that speak for our souls
We ignore all of that
For a cheap contrivance
We chose our own tawdry soul
We fashion images of the perversion
Long stretches of highways littered with ugly strip malls and billboards
Grotesque caricatures of advertising overwhelming all artistry
and becoming our preference to art
to truth
to beauty
Beauty replaced by strip clubs
Sexual sensation elevated as a good in itself
Instead of as the organic aspect of transcendent love
Everything objectified
A culture of breasts and vaginas served on a pole
Everything to be consumed
Nothing to be cared for
The new American Howl
America go fuck yourself
with your sales meeting
and your competition
and your smart ass disrespectful comments
and your cold dead response to suffering
your inability to shed a tear
your need to mock
and win win win
your misplaced shame
you humiliate people who live lives of value
and praise con men, burlesque clowns and thieves
You don’t protect your nurses and doctors
You don’t educate your children
You don’t care for the sick
You don’t revere human life
You don’t honor the elderly
Everything comes in second to what you can buy
and how you can show off in front of other people as a “winner”
And now that we can’t leave our homes
and die die die
and our cityscape and countryside manifest mass death and madness
we still make excuses
still worry about offending criminals
still refuse to change
You can say that my pain is personal
You can say that it is because of my own experience
and not yours
not ours
Just my own disappointment and bitterness projected onto others
But you are wrong
I don’t suffer for myself anymore
I am free
but I turn back and return to you
and you should listen to me
for your own good and change
I left you and came back
Thousands maybe millions like me did so too
and now you should listen to us
You are dying
and using whatever life is left in you
to sit in filth
a squalid life
you run around like rabid animals
pursuing shit and garbage
Disconnected from your organic nature and your eternal soul
Miserable and suicidal
laughing maniacally
concocting excuses
and spinning illusions
in denial of the hell you’ve created on earth.
Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

3/29/20: A Modest Proposal #poetry #commentary #satire

3/29/20: A Modest Proposal #poetry #commentary #satire
In adversity lies opportunity. What a great new innovation from the Republican Party!
The End of Retirement Senior Euthanasia Winning Economy Bill.
The proposed legislation requires that each person must retire on their 65th birthday at 9 am, and be euthanized no later than 3 pm that same day. No one will be eligible for any medical care or medication after age 63.
The bill’s sponsors — every Republican in Congress — say that this initiative will do wonders for the overall economy, and curb unemployment and of course, health care expenses.
The bodies of the deceased elderly will be processed into Soylent Green and be used by the School Lunch Program.
Mitch McConnell is trying to extend the bill’s provisions to anyone who is fired for cause or any other reason.
Extensions to other demographic classifications including racial, ethnic, sexual preference and religious groups are under consideration.
A great America requires sacrifice — human sacrifice.
Republicans have a right to life — yours!
America! It’s a great place to die!
Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

3/29/20: News for the Foreseeable Future #poetry #socialdistancing #flattenthecurve #boredom

3/29/20: News for the Foreseeable Future #poetry #socialdistancing #flattenthecurve #boredom
And now the news …
People dying all over the world
Good people helping with compassion and bravery
Stupid, corrupt people making things worse
Here’s Sports!
No sports.
Here’s the weather — what do you care? You’re not going outside.
Here’s a video of a penguin, a puppy and a duck …
A look at traffic — every road is clear —- you can make it to the toilet, bed, kitchen and wherever you watch TV.
We’re running this on a loop for the foreseeable future … watch it again at noon!
And now here’s 27 minutes of commercials …
Coming up …
Two and a Half Men is next, but you have cable or streaming or you receive media telekinetically or by some other newfangled techno-voodoo — watch something better than this rerun of that shitty show …
Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

3/29/20: Futile Persuasion #poetry #Trumpsupporters

3/29/20: Futile Persuasion #poetry #Trumpsupporters

Sincerity towards disintegrating influences is dangerous.

Saying of Ancient Chinese Wisdom

When someone is wrong, you either educate them or punish them. You don’t debate them.

A line that I wrote for The Rick Blog that I am particularly proud of …

One friend is a lawyer in once red county now trending blue

One friend golfs with Notre Dame Republicans

They socialize with Trump supporters

dancing with the Devil

They are both good men

generous hearts

open minds

They suffer from an illusion

They think we live in a democracy

They think that opposition or support of Trump is a political thing

They think that Trump supporters are reasonable

Trump, and the economic and political history of the last forty years in America that made his ascent possible,

A history made in shame by Republicans, Democrats and Independents …

A history of injustice, greed, violence, disrespect and lies —

Is NOT a political matter.

Trump and the history that made his ascent possible

is a public health crisis as non-partisan as the pandemic

Something very wrong

wrong morally

wrong intellectually

wrong as a practical matter too

is destroying our souls

and destroying our lives —

quite literally

and it must be stopped.

My lawyer says things like, “to my friends who think the pandemic is a hoax”

and then follows up with reason

friendly persuasion


The approach is wrong

the tone is wrong

A better way would be to say


and then scream the facts at them

and if they refuse to snap out of their insane delusion

or willful spite of the rest of us

take steps to force a quarantine upon them

because they are endangering our lives.

My other friend, the golfer

should realize that his ND golfing buddies don’t respect him

that they are just concerned with money

that they would gladly watch tens of thousands of people die if it made them richer

that they don’t fear the pandemic because they are insulated from its consequences by their wealth

they’ll get their ventilator when the time comes

the rich have no existential anxiety

they are crazy

they think that money is the key to infinite life

For the rich

death comes as a surprise

My golfing friend should remove himself from his golf party

He is better than the others.

People sometimes tell me that I am angry

when I am not angry at all.

I felt no discernible emotion while I wrote this poem

Certainly not anger

My “anger” is not about what I feel

It’s about what they feel

They say that I am “angry”

when in actuality

I’m simply telling the truth

and they don’t want to hear it.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas








3/28/20: You Make Them Stand Down is by Standing Up #poetry #change

3/28/20: You Make Them Stand Down is by Standing Up #poetry #change
I think the way you make them stand down is by standing up. Rosa Parks wouldn’t go to the back of the bus. Winston Churchill wouldn’t take Hitler’s bullshit from the beginning. You start with yourself. I try not to perform, pretend or persuade. I live and speak by what I think is right, I don’t compromise with them or accommodate them. I make choices in everything — wife, work, friends, words, activities — based on my values. I don’t give a shot what they think.
It’s a long road — you lose elections, lose jobs, get tossed out of places, piss people off. But you stay true to your values.
To debate them is to acknowledge their legitimacy. They have bullshit religion, bullshit interpretations of history, bullshit science — a shadow world that serves their immediate lust for power. No. They are wrong. People who are wrong should be educated or punished. They shouldn’t be persuaded.
Personally, I write because writing is the long game. I don’t want power. I had the experience of being a prosecutor and it wasn’t for me, but I respect it. I’m not making any claims of being a great writer — far from it — but writing is a pursuit for truth, and living in truth is what redeems the world. It’s not about being effective for me — it’s about being authentic and real. Henry David Thoreau wrote “On Civil Disobedience” during the Mexican-American War. No one paid that much attention. But Gandhi and MLK used the ideas and changed the world — not through debate but by standing up for the truth and justice.
I go the way of the sage — I’m a piss poor sage but I do what i can in spite of my obvious limitations. Gandhi and MLK were heroes — they made a concrete difference. But we have to dream and think the world before we change it, and that’s where my vocation plays a role. One thing about the world of action as well — today’s action becomes history and history eventually becomes a poem.
Writing influences people and the writer has no earthly authority. Writing resonates in people’s hearts and changes the world. The sweet people feel the resonance. The bastards have to be pushed back. Even when you lose in a concrete way someone is watching and you make a difference. My answer is to humbly try to understand what is right and try to live it in word and deed using whatever material means are available to me at the time.
Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas