6/4/20: “The Not So Invisible Enemy” by Cassandra Thomas #poetry


6/4/20: “The Not So Invisible Enemy” by Cassandra Thomas  #poetry

It’s not so invisible if you bother to look

You barely have to research

the information comes to you

Here’s some clues, Columbo …

Factoid — George Lloyd’s autopsy showed that he had the coronavirus

He had to be suffocated in a gutter to be tested

How many people aren’t being tested and how bullshit is the national infected case and COVID-19 death numbers, Sherlock?

Factoid — Sweden’s top epidemiologist, the guy behind the “keep open, hang in there, we’ll develop herd immunity” strategy regrets his decision — all the “normal living” has led to the world’s highest per capita death rate

I’m an old trial lawyer, and here’s the thing about experts — they aren’t the last step in making a decision

You have to THINK and figure it out

Here’s the thing about herds —

they’re fucking stupid …

I follow this rule of thumb …

if something can kill you

and you want to live

and you can avoid contact with it

It’s probably best to stay away from it

Here’s some more words to live for …

if you are going to risk your life

It should probably be for something important

something essential to you or most likely someone you love

like freedom

or peace

Probably not worth it

for a trip to the tattoo parlor

or the quarterly sales numbers

Something I like to think about morally

I don’t have a right to gamble with someone else’s life

Masturbation doesn’t make you go blind

being a spoiled brat does

They found some experts who have a plan to re-open Chicago —

God bless us everyone

An architect told me that work is so much more satisfying when it is done communally and not remotely

Of course, she should know

she designs communal work spaces

No one wants to work remotely, she says

but I question that

I like working remotely

Other people do to I imagine

people similar to me

other carbon-based life forms

I don’t think any of us should die so she can keep building offices

and I think she is morally wrong to even be proposing that we do

She’s so tiny and afraid

She clings to her fucking job

She’d rather see a genocide

than face the insecurity that she feels about adapting her education and training to something new

and she is very brittle and defensive

because she knows that she is scared

and she knows she is wrong

and that is what mortal sin looks like, ladies and gentlemen

she lives in a sound proof booth

paneled with opaque glass

painted black

She wills the world to be invisible and unheard

the triumph of the will

They have nothing

these professionals

with their upper-middle class incomes

that purchase them refuge from the world








A superior attitude

covers up a nullity

walking dead

Why should they care if people die so that they can make a profit?

They died as voluntary human sacrifices to the god, Prophet long ago

Factoid: The University of Tulsa is re-opening in the Fall

Every professor for every class will be assigned an understudy who can take over the course

if the first professor gets sick and/or dies

Why work in higher ed when you can get a job in a meat processing plant?

Factoid — a revolution has started in the United States

(hundreds of thousands teem in the streets of a hundred cities for days on end — DUH)

The spark was systemic racism

but the issue is truly the system itself

Something is fundamentally and irretrievably wrong

People aren’t working

40 million unemployed

and just like the COVID-19 infection and death rates

you know that unemployment stat is for shit

Everything is invisible for the willfully blind

eyes shut hard

arms clinging to bags and boxes of worthless shit

Our old system has died

it wasn’t working

it got gutted

it wasn’t hardly a system at all anymore

the cancer cells were eating just about everything

and this year the old system went into seizure

it took a couple of hard blows

and it completely fell apart

Sick, dying and broke — and if you weren’t one of those three, you were scared

no one was immune

person or herd

No way out


Start over or die

No choice

But that won’t stop us from trying

from dreaming the impossible dream

and coming back to normal

and dying in a chaotic frenzy

a Where’s Waldo of corpses

Prayer vigils and riots

overflowing morgues and cemeteries

plagues and wars

an unnecessary apocalypse


and businessmen

and college Presidents

and other fools

trying to hold on to power

spoiled people

who never knew sickness or unemployment

who never really had a hard time in their lives

not really

they had little difficulties

but never dealt with no money coming in

or being really sick and in a hospital

or being in jail or dealing with the criminal justice system

never been broke, crazy, seriously sick or accused

squeaky clean mostly white bastards


think everything will be OK

The enemy is invisible if you don’t look

Don’t take interest in the number of sick and dying

Believe anything that doesn’t spoil your fun

Don’t even try to imagine what it is like to be intubated

or to suffocate

or to be abused and hassled and cheated and lied to


what it is like to be unprotected from nature’s harshness and man’s inhumanity to man


we are the underclass of a craven hierarchy

it’s not even a society anymore

Fortunately for us

we are endowed with souls

and already we venture out

to start again

after the Armageddon which has already occurred

The people who give a shit about other people life and reality are very visible

Look, look I implore you to look

I can see them all over the place

I see them as clearly as I see dead people

and God bless them

The fools who want to


They are stealthier

but the people of life

are easy to perceive

Cassandra was a seer

because she looked

She didn’t have any super-human powers

prophets don’t see the future

they see right now


In summary:

The view from Chicago

on a clear day

visibility good

hundreds of thousands of people are going to die

and there is a revolution in progress

that will be fought politically, spiritually, criminally, reasonably, insanely, peacefully, violently …

a way of life is ending

Good riddance to that worthless bullshit,

and many lives are ending

Some will be martyrs for freedom and dignity

Some will be the victims of other people’s fears and desires

God bless their sweet and innocent souls.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas






6/3/20: They’re All the Same #poetry #commentary

6/3/20: They’re All the Same #poetry #commentary

I hate to be cynical

And I am not

Cynicism is an easy escape from thinking

This is an epiphany

American political leaders are all the same

They only vary in degree

Fascist Trump threatens and uses the U.S. military against the American people

Progressive Cuomo, the Governor of New York State


on the very next day

that the Mayor of New York City and his Police Department

aren’t doing a good job protecting the people


*important word in this piece

of New Yorkers


Cuomo has a right to remove the mayor

and call in who?

to protect the people and property of New Yorkers?

The military?

Trump said weeks ago that we can’t worry about people dying from COVID-19

and we have to get back to work

Everybody threw their hands up in the air


Everybody was right


America belongs to the owners

In the beginning, the Constitution only gave the right to vote to white male landowners

There has been slight progress on the white male part


but owners?

Ownership is what counts

Progressive Mayor Lightfoot of Chicago


a woman

a lesbian

a watchdog of Police overreach for years before she became mayor

praised the police for their restraint

and said we must have order

the City of Chicago is property

not people

in the eyes of our leaders

who work for the owners exclusively

when push comes to shove

Violence is decried as a “solution to anything”


Not the Kumbaya brigades who are as easy to control as an arts fair

I’m not advocating violence

Only because it would be dishonest

I am not and never been prepared to back it up

But ownership is power

and the destruction of property hits the owners where they live

It forces them to listen and change

An owner doesn’t give a damn about people

Their property is what counts

Trump declared war against even peaceful protesters

when he gassed them and threatened them with helicopters and assault vehicles

Cuomo and Lightfoot only disagree on tactics with Trump

They know the peaceful protests are harmless

and should be allowed as a matter of community relations

Cuomo and Lightfoot are Trump’s allies on the question of ownership

Ultimately property must be protected

before anything else

Which brings us back around to the pandemic

and Trump’s demand that we get to work

and those who die can die

Lightfoot said yesterday that she has been speaking to BUSINESS LEADERS*

euphemism for OWNERS

and they say we have to get back to work

Just like Trump

Chicago will not be deterred

The virus is still out there

It hasn’t gone away

It’s not solved

Lightfoot says we have to get out there

and later in her remarks she talks about her fear of what the protests might reap in terms of COVID-19 outbreaks

but Chicago will re-open

The owners can’t lose money to save lives

The owners can’t sustain people financially until it is safe to engage in our economy

What will happen to their storefronts

what will happen to their dreams

Chicago is heading into a period of plague and great social unrest

The owners will get what they can

The rest of us will suffer and die

The police have felt entitled because their main job

is to protect the owners’ property

not to assure our safety

The progressives are corporate lawyers

like Cuomo and Lightfoot and Biden and Obama

and the fascists are working class types

like Trump and the cops who killed George Floyd and the truck driver who drove his truck into a crowd of protesters

but they all work for the owners

And nothing pisses off the owners more than fucking with their property and money

Criminals and suspects of crime are treated with cruelty

People at risk of dying from a deadly virus

are treated as nuisances

Some token action is taken to take care of them

But it can’t cost too much money

and if they die they die.

The America that we pledge allegiance to

to serve and protect

isn’t people.

It’s inventory.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas








6/1/20: Too Good for Hollywood #poetry #movies #teaching


6/1/20: Too Good for Hollywood #poetry #movies #teaching

Yesterday’s offerings in the COVID-19 film festival were The Dresser, the highly regarded 1982 film about the relationship between the lead actor/director of a touring Shakespearean Rep Company in Britain during World War II, and his Sancho Panza homosexual dresser who keeps his body and soul together and the musty show going on;

and the 2009 straight to video effort Tenure directed by the mysterious Mike Million (his Twitter feed says that is his real name) and starring Luke Wilson as a good teacher.

Both films are also good featuring some nuanced acting and sensitive writing, and each are compromised by distractions for the sake of the commercial audience: The Dresser gets demerits for its preoccupation with plot — the lead actor dies in the end, the dresser loses the meaning and the unrequited love of his life (the lead actor was more concerned with being loved than loving). The Dresser can show us all it has to reveal without the neat “action” of the dramatic event at its conclusion. Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay are great actors who reveal the relationship between their respective characters in its complexity. Ronald Harwood is a fine writer. He doesn’t have to underline anything.

Tenure is a nice reflective character study partially buried under the requirements of a standard Hollywood loner/loser comedy. David Koechner, who is an amiable presence when comedy is called for, is more than miscast here. His character shouldn’t be in the script. Koechner drives a ridiculous sub-plot that has no basis in reality in the belief that idiotic irreverence draws audience. College professors trying to “TP” (festoon toilet paper on someone’s property) a pompous dean, but getting the wrong house — is a comedy misfire that should have been spotted early in pre-production. But the bet was that the then middle-aged Animal House generation still wanted the fantasy of doing cool fraternity pranks, at least vicariously. They didn’t. The first place that audiences encountered Tenure was Blockbuster Video.

Tenure’s writer/director doesn’t have a Wikipedia page. I have a greater internet presence than he does, and mine is definitely a quality-not-quantity affair. What happened to Mike Million? I debated with myself whether to use a question mark at the end of the title of this piece or to go without it. I decided to go without it.

I decided that Mike Million is better than Hollywood whether he knows it or not.

Ronald Harwood isn’t better than Hollywood. He is a master craftsman and does excellent work. He has written many good movies including Roman Polanski’s The Pianist, but he doesn’t aspire to something more.

If you are wondering “what could be more” please read on. If you agree with what I say, I have enlightened and/or encouraged you. If you disagree, I have spited you. Either option is a good result from my point of view.

Mike Million wants something more — more than making well-crafted entertainments or even art. Mike Million dreams of a life beyond mastery or achievement and success. His life is his ultimate art. He wants to touch the rest of mankind effortlessly with his natural sweetness and sincerity.

Tenure isn’t a great movie, but it has nice observations about the art of teaching. Million had the insights, and Luke Wilson does a subtle and perceptive job acting his character.

Tenure teaching lesson #1: A good teacher does it his own way. He brings himself to the classroom and engages his students in a real relationship. For the weeks of the course, a teacher becomes very close to his students. When the course ends, the teacher becomes obsolete. Million and Wilson excellently portray how a teacher is a temporary benevolent presence in students’ lives whose objective is to help them start something. A teacher accomplishes this, in part, by sharing himself as someone who is further along in the process. A student learns the teacher and the teacher learns the students. Million writes with such understanding about what teaching is, it’s impossible to believe that he is not a teacher himself — either in practice or in the potentialities of his soul.

Tenure teaching lesson #2: A teacher studies his students in order to engage them — he speaks to each and every one of them personally in order to direct each and every one of them personally in their particular and unique potentialities. The teacher mirrors his students and initiates transformations by emphatic acceptance of the mutual reflections.

Tenure teaching lesson #3: A teacher entices students to interest in the subject matter. This alluring aspect of teaching is something adjacent to flirtation but can never cross that line. A young co-ed has a crush on Wilson’s professor. She seductively and insecurely asks him at a party if she is “fat”. Wilson gives a perfect line reading when he kindly tells her she is not fat and is a lovely young woman. His tone is adjacent to “fatherly” not flirtation.  There is nothing creepy in his response. He understands that teacher can never exploit his students in any way. He can’t lie to them. He can’t use them. He has an almost clerical obligation to them. Any selfishness will destroy any good that the teacher achieved with them. A teacher has to love his students as students.

Tenure teaching lesson #4: Million writes lines that indicate the intensity of teaching in the present, and the body of work that all the various schools and students — people and places — that a teacher touches in the course of his career. Classes come and go, but a teacher has an anonymous legacy in his positive impact on the world.

The parts in Tenure about Wilson’s character as a son, and brother, and love interest, are quite good, since teaching is the vocation whose main qualification is experience as a human being.

That’s true of writing as well, and I wonder if Million isn’t self-publishing on a blog somewhere.

Million has his professor refuse tenure with its pressures to publish and engage in campus politics. He just wants to be in the classroom and teach.

Natural art, without self-promotion and ambition, is the most beautiful art of all.

It is better than Hollywood

and just about everything else.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas






6/1/20: Hamlet Wasn’t Crazy; He Was Upset #poetry

george floyd protester

6/1/20: Hamlet Wasn’t Crazy; He Was Upset #poetry

To be or not to be

It wasn’t a Freudian question

It was an existential one

To be is a daunting proposition

It requires the acceptance of life

in all of its manifestations

the sweet and the bitter

the difficult and the easy

the agony and the ecstasy

life and death

America is in withdrawal from its dreams

Its dream of safety

Its dream of cohesion

Its dream of abundance

Its dream of the pursuit of happiness and escaping all pain

Its dream of dominating nature

Its denial of death

The small business owner cries outside of his shop

The protesters destroyed his life’s work

he wails through bitter tears

To be or not to be?

Did he ever give a thought to the persecutions within the criminal justice system that he rarely if ever interacted with?

Did he ever think of the desperation of people without employment, capital or opportunity?

Did he ever think about how bad so many schools in America are?

What reductions in food stamp programs meant to mothers and children?

Did he ever think about how many people live their lives mostly ignored, only noticed periodically to be punished and abused?

Did he ever consider for a moment that his particular dream was not particularly important?

What a powerful delusion!

That no else matters

that you can make it on your own without help

That  human suffering is something “out there”

irrelevant to your life of industry and ingenuity

A man is intensely focused on accomplishing his goals

and is brought to his knees by a heart attack

We are part of the world

We can’t exist above or around or near it

If we ignore it

It comes looking for us




We are not separate from nature and mankind

no matter how we wish to be

To be indeed

We have come to moment

when we have to set aside the burden of dreams

End or defer all of our plans

and tend to our collective needs

Attention must be paid!

To the sick and dying

and the poor

We must become upset



about what has happened to us


Self-interest now lies with the community and the earth

Our desire to misname our alienation as autonomy has to end

To be is to be moved by the suffering of others

To be is to be awed by the infinite, multitudinous eternal ever-changing expanse of nature

and to be upset by lies and injustice

The sick and the poor save the rest of us

They announce to us OUR pain

Be! they shout



You can no longer be numb to reality!

Your dreams and ambitions

Your distractions

don’t work any more

We challenge the meaning of everything!

Money — what’s that?

Your status?

No rung of the ladder matters now

The ladder is on fire

Your hobbies and entertainments are impossible to enjoy while you gasp for air

on a ventilator

or from the acrid smoke of your burning neighborhood

No one cares about what you want anymore

It’s time to take care of the world

Can you see the distinction now

between the frustration of injustice and the denial of the necessities of life

and whining about not getting the pathetic little trophies that you worked so hard for

To be or not to be

To live in truth or be one of the walking dead

zombies who feed on people consciously aware of participation in the world


and the economy

are abstractions

Constructs of “not to be”

Nature and Humanity are real

The regions of the world

and the verb

(action word)

To Be.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas






5/31/20: Agony and Ecstasy on the Road of Freedom #poetry


5/31/20: Agony and Ecstasy on the Road of Freedom #poetry

Be the authority of your own life

Easier said than done

The process of liberation is a painful one

It starts with innocence and looking up

The person you most love and depend on betrays you

They push you down hard

For the fun of it

For the lust of it

For the power of it

You slowly get to your feet

dazed and confused

They laugh at your inexperience

Unsure of yourself

doubting your own perceptions

They own you

They tell you what to do

what you are capable of

and what you are worth

which they say is not much

They take everything

you get nothing

Every once in awhile they patronize you

they praise you in some way

they gift you with trinkets

and you feel a pathetic sense of pride

you feel you pleased them

and if you work hard enough you’ll be like them

You get a little confidence

and get a little positive attention from third parties

and they become jealous of you

they punish you

and shame you

They hurt you and claim that you hurt them

You innocently say something that is not in their interest

and they become enraged and censor you

They demand that you conform to rules of conduct and behavior which maintains the illusion of their control

That word — “illusion”

Something has awakened

nothing that you were taught

something inside of you

You’ve become sensitive to truth


Awareness of truth gives way to frustration

You don’t like this jail that you share with your oppressor

and then comes more confusion

“how do I escape?’

and then options slowly emerge

and then you feel fear

“what if I can’t do it?’

By this time you are in an uneasy dance with your captor

He knows that you are on to him

He knows that you will subversively work against him whenever you can

You stare at each other in mutual distrust

You won’t let the other out of your sight

This is one of the worst phases

You don’t even have your daydreams any more

and none of the minor creative activity that you’ve always managed to sneak on the side

Your life is an obsession with your jailer

and his life is an obsession with you

Imperceptibly your subversion

grows into defiance

Your master actually makes a few concessions to you

out of two things

exhaustion — he’s not enjoying himself either

and fear

He’s always been afraid of you

He doesn’t want to be exposed as a usurper of all of your potential

He cares most about how he appears

and you

in spite of yourself

because you have been denied any chance of recognition for your talents and achievements

have been growing into a person of substance

You begin to blossom

and he is terrified at the sight of the first bloom

and he violently attacks you

He takes everything

and you’ve finally had enough

you’ve nothing left to lose

and you strike at your enemy

You are no longer subjugated

You are equal

Fuck his rules

Fuck his interests

Fuck his shaming

Fuck his punishment

“This son of a bitch has been beating me for years — now I am going to kick ass on him and anyone like him”

You go to war

He tries shaming you

You are so past buying that horse shit

You demand justice from him

and you start to get it

but you are still not home

because then you are tempted to have the type power that he had over you

over other people

You fall into it

but then you can’t go through with it

every move that you make that resembles your old master

makes you sick to your stomach

now you are confused again

if you don’t go for power

what do you do

Then your memory fucks with you

every day you are reminded of your master

ways that he humiliated you

stole from you

cheated you

slandered you

and now you have to go through the whole process of liberation again

this time inside of your own head

and you have to discipline yourself

to choose freedom and happiness

to create your life on your own terms

There is something oddly seductive about misery

It is a siren call

that unfailingly arrives when you are about to sing

Your experience of oppression becomes part of the fabric of who you are

as much of the part of your essence as the kernel that you were born with

Pain never leaves you

We live our lives in chronic pain

Independence is an act of courage and transcendence

we have to constantly reclaim our faith in the knowledge that we were born with

that we are beings of value worthy of love

that we have vast potential

we are co-creators of the universe

it’s our right

we are up to the task


that we are wounded

controlled by our fear of bullies in the streets

and by archetypes of our mind

We scream for justice

when it is right there inside of us

we shall overcome

and be overcome

Justice gives us wings

and injustice prevents from flying to close to the sun

So we struggle and fight and go through the stages

always trying to reach an impossible promised land

proud that we transcended innocence

and fear

and co-dependence

and stood on our two feet

as a just people

able to love and join who and what is meant for us

never forgetting the misery of the past

sometimes revisiting that horror in our minds

and gaining compassion for those who follow us a few steps behind us on the trail.

Every time we see someone suffering from injustice, we re-live our own such suffering again

Every time we are on the brink of free creation

the excitement is interrupted by the static of the memory of our past pain

“all that was lost when I could have been doing this all along”

We have to know what it is to be blocked from our creativity in order to consciously create

All children are artists

who can make art when they have been kicked in the balls repeatedly?

That’s the question

I used to think that I could just walk away from the oppressor

Put him out of my mind and be happy

But it doesn’t work that way

You have to work at it

Anger when he is close by and worrying you

becomes integrity when he gets further away

Anger explodes and sets a boundary

so that you can move forward

You assert your authenticity and defend it

You determine your own path, vigilant and on guard for your power of self-determination

Moral in the extreme

Committed to never consciously interfering with anyone else’s power over themselves

It is very demanding

You are required to intensely experience the events of your life

take them as they come

and reflect upon them and apply them to your present and future circumstances

Writing has radicalized me

It has made me the authority of my own life

My innocence my anger my frustration my commitment my creative joy my unjust shame and my just rewards

all in one moment

my blood is a tributary

running to the river of blood of the world

the binary agony of the necessity of taking sides

the orgasmic ecstasy of creation itself

Slave rebellions

and Jazz.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas













Richard Thomas JD LLC, Ethical Presence and Decision Making Consulting Services

Dear Professional,

Thank you for your interest in one-on-one consulting with me to develop your ethical presence and ethical decision making skills.

As you know, I am an alumnus of Loyola Chicago Law School. My B.A. is from Notre Dame.

In the Spring Quarter of 2020, I was an adjunct instructor teaching Graduate Business Ethics at Loyola Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business. After 2 weeks of face-to-face coursework, the pandemic forced our class to a distance learning format. I taught each student in a one-on-one independent study format. It was a highly successful transition. I’ve included the original syllabus for the class and the class evaluations in which the students describe their experience. I believe these evaluations are the best reference that you can consider for getting some idea of what you might expect from our time together.

I also have included evaluations from college professors and doctoral candidates who have studied with me.

I have also taught Business Communications. Business Ethics, Professional Presence, Leadership, Public Speaking and more on the undergraduate and graduate levels. I have also taught sustainability and corporate social responsibility. 

Below are links to the website of my nascent consulting business, and other relevant documents (CV, and sample syllabus) are attached.
Thank you for your interest.


Richard Thomas

Generic Statement of Background and Approach

  1. Teaching Statement: All of the information on the website for my nascent consulting business which I started after teaching as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Leadership and Communication Skills and Business Ethics at the UIC College of Business for five years, and which is designed to teach soft leadership skills and public speaking, writing and other communications skills to students and full-time working professionals, is relevant to my qualifications, interest and passion for this job. My general teaching statement is described on the homepage of my site at https://www.richardthomasjd.com. The various service tabs show some — emphasis on some of the experiential approaches that I use to accomplish the skill development learning objectives. I create new ways all the time to meet the needs of new students and groups. My basic process is setting up experiences where students focus on their creativity, critical thinking and applied ethics skills in different fundamental situations. Students do a lot of reflective writing, public speaking, case-making and storytelling, group discussion, working in teams and improvisational exercises to achieve the class’ goals. I facilitate a process that helps students create leadership styles that honor their diverse attributes and individual personalities and backgrounds.
  2. I have taught at bar associations, law schools and for PhD faculty and doctoral students, as well as undergraduate and graduate business students as you will see on my CV.
  3. My qualifications in a bio and CV format can be found on the ABOUT page of my website at https://www.richardthomasjd.com/about.
  4. References:

Thomas_2020_Spring_MGMT_MGMT_441_Business_Ethics_1 (1) Evaluations of 33 MBAs re: One -on -One Ethical Presence and Decision Making Instruction

Finding Exploring Your Teacher Voice _Part _1_Feedback Results ; Finding & Exploring Your Teacher Voice Part 4 Feedback (2) ; Finding & Exploring Your Teacher Voice Part 3 FeedbackFinding & Exploring Your Teacher Voice Part_ 2 feedback Evaluations of 15 College Professors and PhD Candidates

There are also references from professionals who have worked with me on my website and LinkedIn page.

Also —

Noaman Peerzada, Manager, the Shelby Group

Ranjit Souri, Professor, UIC College of Business

My website also contains writing samples and media. See

and my Media page at https://www.richardthomasjd.com/media.

Sample Syllabus: Revised MGMT 441 BUSINESS ETHICS Spring 2020

CV: Curriculum Vitae VI

Thank you for your kind attention and consideration.



Richard Thomas JD, LLC Ethical Presence TM Consulting

1000 E. 53rd St. Unit 405, Chicago, Illinois 60615



5/30/20: Ordinary White People and the Revolution #poetry

5/30/20: Ordinary White People and the Revolution #poetry

Waiting …

The immediate present is comfortable

I love my wife who is feet away

I am comfortable in my chair

The sliding door is open

Cool fresh air is welcome

The ceilings seem 1000 feet high

I am happy

in my immediate world

Just blocks away

a revolution is starting

I wish it would start faster

I wish it won’t be a flash in the pan

I wish it becomes a sustained pressure

I wish it shakes the world’s axis

and makes the earth spin differently

in a new direction

and a better rhythm

I want angry shouts

ignored orders

broken curfews and windows

I want golf games disrupted

tables overturned in fine dining establishments

Shit smeared all over luxury cars

public urination in private gardens …

all forgiven

and understood

and the parasites who caused the frustration and rage


forced to pay damages

and to give the world back to the rest of us

I want the rich to apologize


for all of their lies

and all the suffering that they have caused

Justice in all of its forms!

First justice

we’ll get to order and clean up later

Fuck order

Injustice should be put in disarray …

Let’s have moratorium on punishing poor people

for what they aren’t responsible for …

Let’s go to the source of their problems

and if an AutoZone store or two burns to the ground

who cares

certainly not me

The rich have to come forward

and get their just desserts

after all of these years

The future stirs

the layers of time and space

distant and in the palm of my hand




an end to tyranny

right livelihood

health, education and welfare

You want law and order?

Make justice blind

Make the rich pay their debt to society

Make a society that deserves order

The current society is chaotic

not because of the loudest voices of those most abused

but because of the silent mendacity of the few who control it

They’ve squeezed and squeezed and squeezed

until it has become totally unbearable

A subjugated population with nothing left to lose

is a dangerous population as it should be

The past arrives

I find a YouTube video

Anthony Newley and Sammy Davis Jr. singing

a medley of Newley’s songs

written with Leslie Bricusse

I forgot that they wrote so many good songs

And they reminded me of being in my parents’ living room

Listening to records on the big expensive stereo my mother bought

that no one else in the family ever used

and was just an impressive piece of furniture

And the songs reminded me of those sweet days in the 1960s

when I was so so loved

and so sure that nothing bad would ever happen to me

My security and happiness was the meaning of the universe

Not far from that homely genteel location

was my father’s body shop

The Rochester “riots” in 1964 happened all around my father’s shop

But the violence and mayhem never touched the place

Because my father had grown up very poor

and he loved his neighbors

He saw their pain and not their race

He never condescended to his neighbors or criticized them

He never judged them and was stung when they were unfairly punished

He wasn’t a political man

or a particularly well educated one

But I am remembering something that I haven’t thought of in a very long time

If I ever thought it at all

And I love my father very much

right now

He was Italian

and you know the stereotypes

the mafia, the guidos, the greasers

but there is another Italian thing

a warmth

a sense of justice

a hospitality

a humility

I remember all of that

and I am back in the present

Ordinary white people

have to stand up for the oppressed in America

including myself!

Even if few people listen

Ordinary white people

have to appreciate and enjoy the immediate moment that God gives us

and we have to hear and feel and taste and touch

the cauldron of desire for freedom

that can save us all

Ordinary white people have to speak out and stand up for the oppressed

and against all of our rich masters

The Rochester “riots” of 1964 were one night of a recurring nightmare that started in 1619

in one way

but even started before then

when the first rich boss started bullying the person with nothing trying to survive and enjoy the gift of being alive

Have you had enough?

I sure have

All the contrast in one moment

calm and comfort

love and safety

and a burning flame of dissatisfaction

a yearning for revolution

an incendiary spreading fire

for day-to day reality

to get just a little closer to perfection.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

5/30/20: Alone at the Grand Re-Opening #poetry

5/30/20: Alone at the Grand Re-Opening #poetry

Fuck business

It’s unimportant

100,000 death toll?

What a joke

You think they are counting the deaths in prisons

or Nebraska

or nursing homes

Have you ever worked with death certificates?

The cause of death section is a creative writing assignment

You know why Trump and the Republicans don’t want to fund testing?

Because they don’t want to know

Are the dead homeless getting a precise count

as if they got a precise anything in their entire lives?

Governors and Mayors re-open

but the idea isn’t whether you are safe or not

It is simply to make sure that the hospitals don’t go beyond full capacity

100,000 plus confirmed cases?

The Rick Blog estimates the real count at 250,000

Where did I get that number?

I pulled it out of my ass

100,000 plus came out of somebody else’s ass

The dean at the last place that I worked said that the faculty and students are anxious to get back in the classroom


Did he ask them?

Are they high?

An architect spoke to us and said that we needed signage and hand sanitizer

That’ll do it

I am not making any decisions regarding my safety or ethics by committee

I was asked with other faculty to call students who were accepted to the school to send in their deposits

When I was a kid my mother got a job selling freezers to use for meat storage

You got the freezer for cheap and then were roped into a long term contract for the meat

Frosty Teddy was the name of this scam

My mother quit after a day

A Catholic University is the name of the scam that I was asked to participate in

I didn’t pick up the phone

Business, Catholic and University

all synonyms

for scam

Every place that I have ever worked it’s been the same drill

I show up thinking I have found a place to do good

I do some good

but then the bosses fuck it up

in the name of keeping the enterprise alive

they destroy it

The bosses at Our Lady of the Scam

are quite nervous

They talk in a perilous tone

Trump briefing happy talk

They have their Dr. Fauci’s

who play the game of striding the line

honoring the truth

and feeding the business beast

I can’t even listen to that anymore



The sales meeting cheerleading sounding from the administration of Our Lady of the Scam

sounds more manic than enthusiastic

America is having a nervous breakdown

fearful and depressed

and rambling with a bunch of crazy fucking bullshit about how great things are going to be

Of course I will be blamed for all of this

I’m self-destructive

I can’t hold a job

I have problems with authority

I am not realistic

Fuck all of that

I am the one who knows how dangerous all of this is

I am the one who is not going to lie and hurt other people

I am the one really focused on education

I am the one who doesn’t change every fucking activity of my life into sales and accounting

I am the one who is smarter, kinder, of a higher character and more sincere than all of these mother fuckers that I am supposed to bow to

I am the one who makes all decisions for my personal safety and my personal ethics

So sorry if that doesn’t make a team player on the horde of lemmings running off of the cliff

What will I do now?

Fuck if I know

I’ll tell you what I need from you

Support and opportunity

I don’t need your criticism

because if you are of such a mind

I likely don’t think much of how you go about things either

All the common sense in the world

has resulted in this piece of shit culture

we are gasping for our breath in

Trump Trump Trump

I’m sick of that asshole

The boogey man

The scammers

who seem to be almost fucking everybody

The deans and the architects and the Jesuit priests and the educators

and everybody who is supposed to be doing something smart and good

and arrange meetings where they kiss each others’ asses

and stand up for each other when they enter a room

are more dangerous than Trump

They’ll kill the world to preserve their fucking careers

They aren’t consciously evil like Trump

that motherfucker directly and maliciously hurts people

They are consciously indifferent to the whispers of their conscience

and I think that is worse …

Okay, whew … I’ve punched it out

I’ll be okay

I always figure a way through

I thought I found the answer this time

but then again I always do

I’ll learn from all of this and come up with something better

I used to think that the biggest thing that I needed to learn in life was discernment

that I was always looking for love in the wrong places

I don’t think that anymore

I know now that love is out there

but it is very hard to find.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

5/29/20: The Rick Blog May 2020 Justice and Dignity Collection #poetry #commentary

5/29/20: The Rick Blog May 2020 Justice and Dignity Collection #poetry #commentary

The horrible murder in Minneapolis and the completely understandable response of the oppressed people of that city is

a gross violation

followed by a primal scream

One particular group of people

in one locale stand for us all

I stand with the abused black people of Minneapolis

They are experiencing what we all experience

in extremis

I can’t begin to understand the degree of their suffering and pain

But I know it too

I’ve seen it

I find it hard to breathe today

and enough is enough

I stand in solidarity with the protesters

Dast not shame them

Dast not!

They are not responsible for the burning buildings

Dast not thou punish them!

You can’t close all avenues of progress for them and expect a genteel response

I am shocked that black Americans are not in a constant state of violent rage

All the time

400 years of this bullshit


No one listens to them

The law doesn’t work for them

They are a captive people

They need support

and love and opportunity

A chance

Dast not thou even say tsk tsk

Dast not say that they made their own bed when you set it on fire

It’s time for the white power structure to take responsibility for the hell that it wrought.

Attention must be redirected

Money must be redirected

White supremacy

and unjust hyper-capitalism

are murder.



The loser white thug cop

is told by his white masters

that he is better than African-Americans

They laugh at him as he proudly leaves the room

They give him nothing but racist bullshit

and he goes and kills black people

Who are disposable

to the owners

a living example of how bad things can be

Everyone is kept in control

everyone has a boot on their throat …

It is all connected

different symptoms of the same lethal virus


Economic Injustice.

Making the rule of law into a farce.

Government of thieves

Destruction of the environment.

Lack of access to health care.

Food insecurity.

The privatization of education.

Censorship of the arts.

War profiteering.

Mind control through propaganda.

Destruction of democratic processes.


Are we owned or free?

Something has to give. A boot has been placed on the windpipe of we the people. We react with rage.

Enough is enough.

The owners have to let us go.

Revolution doesn’t have to be advocated.

It is happening

counter explosions

the owners should worry

and so should we

but we can

dare I say


no, not hope — but maybe something adjacent to it

can we channel this volatile energy to something better?

It’s never been done before

but what choice is there

except to try.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

5/29/20: The Rick Blog May 2020 Justice and Dignity Collection #poetry #commentary












5/28/20: Grant — History is Poetry #poetry #history

5/28/20: Grant — History is Poetry #poetry #history

For several years after Ulysses S. Grant died he was in the Pantheon

Theodore Roosevelt said that the greatest Americans were Washington, Lincoln and Grant

Mark Twain said Grant’s memoirs were a great work of American Literature

They built Grant’s Tomb

By the time of my boyhood in Rochester, New York

in the 1960s

when I studied my U. S. Presidents pencil box

and compared and contrasted their biographies in the Encyclopedia Brittanica

Lee was the great general in the Civil War

Lee was the man of tactics and sophistication,

the cultured one

Grant was the butcher

who had more men and money

and ruthlessly bludgeoned the South to death

Far from the Pantheon

Grant was one of our worst Presidents

Corrupt and disorganized

What happened?

History is a chronology

and poetry is an eternal moment

Both are complicated

They involve a jockeying between two sides

Good and evil

In history it may seem that one side or the other has the upper hand in a particular moment on the timeline

In poetry the two are always there

side by side

Poetry asks for a decision

History has decided

But the process of writing history is a poetic one

the personages of the past are ourselves

and no notion is more poetic than that

The human thing

that doesn’t change

I can’t see a difference between the Civil War and Reconstruction

and today

The same choice confronts us

The same forces divide us

We suffer the same pain for the same reasons

And our struggles

most often fought on the battlefields of politics

and politics more sedate cousin — historical interpretation, which has more influence than we know

Intellectualism unlike wealth does trickle down to the general population

we get it through secondary sources —

historians give us moral arguments as they assess which figure was “good” or “bad”

and in that way direct us in the conduct of our current affairs

One’s view of Grant is one’s view of America

and even more profoundly, one’s view of human existence.

Leonardo DiCaprio is the executive producer of a documentary about Grant on the History Channel

The best current events programming that was on last night

The poetic DiCaprio and the historians on his show are attracted to each other

Opposites attract?

Like seeks like?

Same thing.

Rick looks at Grant:

Grant was an artist

He started life with a lack of confidence

His father was a mixed bag

Hyper-critical of Grant

but an abolitionist

The father sent Grant to West Point

Grant had no vision for his own life and just went along to get along

Grant was an indifferent student

smack in the middle of things

but great at what interested him

which at the time was horsemanship

Several years later, Grant did a good job in the Mexican War

but was generally unrecognized

When you look at his photos he has a kind of blank expression

He had no instinct for self-promotion

But Grant was an artist, an artist, an artist

He had excellence in him

Grant came home and got married

His father-in-law gave him a slave as a present

which he accepted

Grant was criticized for not beating the slave

Grant was in a haze

just being told what to do

but something else was stirring inside of him

Grant sucked at business

He was not a man of business

He was a man of humanity

He was quite poor

and at that low point

he freed his slave

which was just about his only asset

He saw a man

not a thing

Grant was humble

He wasn’t ashamed when he sold fire wood for a living

He did what he had to do

He saw the art in obscurity

He may have been obscure his whole life

and how many extraordinary people are unknown

never having their chance in history

yet shining eternal in poetry?

Grant lived into his forties in the shadows of fathers

Flat on his ass, he asked his father for a job as a clerk in his tannery

thin gruel for a West Point grad

He might have died an ignored failure

but opportunity arrived in the adversity of the Civil War

Grant had been drummed out of the military

because he was lonely on a remote outpost in then-frontier California

missing his wife and children

and self-medicated with alcohol

which caused him to neglect his duties

But all trained military men were needed for the war effort

He was immensely talented

and became the star of Lincoln’s generals

eventually becoming supreme commander

and devising and executing the strategy that won the war for the Union side

Lee wasn’t superior to Grant in any way

Lee was a patrician aristocrat with bloodlines running back to the Revolutionary War

Grant was an ordinary Joe

Lee loved uniforms and took a great photo

All of that bullshit made Grant feel awkward and seemed beside the point

Lee was a great general of his time

Grant was an innovator who helped invent modern warfare

Lee was courtly and well-spoken

Grant was quiet and direct

Lee was a racist who didn’t believe in America, and claimed his greater allegiance to Virginia

Grant was color-blind, and saw America as an ideal that unified all people

Lee fought for ownership

Grant fought for freedom

The Confederacy and Nazi Germany are cousins

The romance for Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy that denigrated the memory of Ulysses S. Grant

came from a strain of evil in the American character

a fascist strain

White Nationalists march around statues of Lee

a President orders people of color to go die in meat packing plants

the lack of humanity doesn’t stop at color

old people are ordered to die for the owners

anyone unlucky

in the wrong place at the wrong time

must die for the owners

Leonardo DiCaprio’s rehabilitation of Grant

arrives at precisely the right historic

and poetic moment.

Grant was a lousy businessman

He was baffled by business

His mind was on other things

His arts:



public policy

and ultimately


So his Presidency and later life were hurt by poor business decisions.

His critics

pursued their agenda of advancing fascism in America

by amplifying Grant’s human frailties

and ordinary failures

as a way of distracting from his great accomplishments

accomplishments that the critics are committed to undoing

Grant believed in equality for all people

His eight years of President were committed to freedom, respect and economic opportunity for Native-Americans and African-Americans

He was right

He was good

on the major issues in American life


and by extension


Are we to be a free people?

Or owned?

This remains our primary question

and Grant was on the right side of it.

Grant’s side only had the upper hand for brief periods in American history

The mythic figure of the late 19th century

became the butchering, drunken corrupt lucky bum of the mid 20th

Grant’s Tomb gave way to

Birth of a Nation

and Gone with the Wind

The racist owners had their way in the late 20th

but as always they over-reached

Progressive politics gained momentum in the last twenty years

and my pencil box history has been overthrown

The owners are on the run

They can be Robert E. Lee

relying on tradition and fancy clothes and all sorts of bullshit

to prop up our division and the owners control of us

and we can be Grant




but skilled




overcoming all obstacles

within us and placed before us

grounded and passionate

slogging through the mud

against enemies and our own inertia

to justice

welfare for all

and dignity.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas