For Comrade Malcolm

the false prophet will screw with your head daily
an image of desperate unknowns:
the anonymous taxpayer
who would like to take offense
on behalf of those offended,
the popular victims of the day.
his face is caked with muted flesh
and grinning ivory teeth

he nods with sympathy to the jobless
            but can offer no work
he turns cold on the youth,
            “innovate and get a job
            and get a life too”
and all the while, he repeats the mantra,
            “Look How Far We’ve Come!”

but the Grind goes on, despite him.
the secretary will type
the factory worker will strike
            but neither can taste any Free
            in free trade.
the bus driver will bus
the newsmen will make news for every seated person
            as the students bargain with the bankers
            to negotiate their debt
            and cancel their dreams.
the doctors will doctor
the teachers will teach
the businessmen will do business
            while the dark-skinned are executed publicly on video
            and the poor have to rage to remove the lead
                        from water that eats through metal
                                    as it flows through aging pipes
                                                in apartheid cities.

but the Grind goes on, despite him.
and Change comes, the Fruit from all those broken bodies
and as people say, “Now, surely, is the time. We’ve had it!”
the false prophet says, “No,
we should move slowly and wait for a more convenient time.”


The Gag Order

Did the sculptor who made Justice
a blindfolded woman
have a joke at our expense?

the elevated scales of unbiased balance,
the sword at her side:
            more the two dimensional things 
            from the worn pages of fairytales 
            than the metaphors of a sculptor

are the gown and the trinkets meant  
             to be the future,
             the hopes of a civilized people?:
that she will swing the
sharpened edge of justice
in the right direction?
the steel as true to its target 
            as the archer Apollo
            his golden chariot traversing the heavens
and the Light
            warming every face
            as it falls towards

but can you doubt today
that Power takes its pleasure   
from the womb of Justice?
for, dropping all pretension and
feigned virtue,
the scales and the sword disappear

             though the blindfold works well for the kink:
             her clothes torn away, he places
             a sweaty palm over mouth and nose
             and then takes what he wants

with a notion
that the tears
are simply her misunderstanding


by Steve Karamitros

Steve is an urban planner living in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. His poems and short stories focus on the bizarre and irrational forces that animate society and what we call ‘nature.’ His published work has appeared in Poetry Quarterly (Fall 2016).

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