Thursday, March 29, 2018

Pocketful of Wry

Yesterday on the sidewalk two small birds were having it out-- a bonafide squall... a few others flew in for the entertainment; two extras got involved in the fray.  It was like a game of 3-card monty... squawkers and gapers and rooters and much flapping around.  Finally I got a glimpse of the prize-- it was a chicken wing-tip-- like a discarded piece of Kentucky fried bucket-stuff on the sidewalk.  Hey, hey, I shouted to the sparrows-- not even pigeons who have no shame in this town-- that's your cousin there you're tearing apart-- what are you, cannibals?  Or maybe the processed stuff which passes as meat at KFC has no authentic bird DNA.  They dispersed, only to return when I got a few feet ahead... to peck it out until death....

I thought about Aesopian philosophy-- mocking bird humor-- an Ogden Nash or Edward Lear would surely come up with a limerick.  A Wall Street parallel?  A dog-eat-dog kind of thing?  What occurred to me is the fact that people have lost sight of the 'prize'... they will duke it out, compete, race and grab out of some instinct... kind of a Donald Trump thing-- going all out for a political campaign when you have no idea of what you might do if you actually win.  And, as we suffering Americans have learned well, not only does the best man not win, but the worst man wins, the best men stay home, the race ends in a brick wall collision-- no trophy, no pride, no victory-- just a kind of sick realization that you ruffled your feathers for some kind of cannibalistic irony...  a bad joke... fuel for all the cartoonists and comedians and late-night talk-show hosts.  I'm not laughing this week.

Last Saturday school kids led the country in a meaningful protest against gun-violence; they spoke with emotion and pride-- the mourners, the victims-- the girl vomiter who displayed her facial wounds to millions on international broadcasts, while the president-- the Commander-In-Chief whose worst pain is from a hair transplant procedure-- played golf or watched shark-week TV.   The demonstration totally eclipsed this year's NCAA tournament and imparted another ironic meaning to  Sweet Sixteen.   Brackets lost their edge anyway; the hype this year seems larger than the competition. Wth the exception of the first round, the winners seem less appealing-- no dreams, no legends, no compelling stories.

On the train this week I sat beside a homeless girl-- Maria from Panama who came to New York for her boyfriend-- shining and bright-- having won hands down her high school talent contest, she hoped to become a star, but had to sell her violin and saxophone for food.  Where is her joy of winning? What harsh lesson has she learned here?  I wanted to take her home with me, but I can no longer do these things.  I can no longer saddle myself with more causes and sorrows and sicknesses; I am worn from not even three months of the new year; my shadow is dense and dark-- daylight savings time seems ill-omened and premature.

One of the workers in my building complained to me about the way some new tenants have treated him-- with disdain and disrespect; these people who have bankrupted old Wall Street firms with their greed and shenanigans, their margin-trading and derivatives manipulation.  Here they are, the criminals and crime-masters of finance, buying weighty shares in my coop, throwing their power around like the entitled brats they are, tearing down walls and wrecking old fixtures as they move onward, losers become winners...  You are a good woman, this man told me, with his thick accent; you will be rewarded by Jesus; I believe this, he said, pointing to his heart.

My friends question the existence of a God who countenances childhood cancer, these senseless innocent killings... I do not hold Him personally responsible;  I know this is not the way the world works.  There are no Superheroes who catch falling infants from burning buildings, but firemen and people who reach out and sacrifice themselves for others.  We honor them, we decorate their graves and donate money to their families... but who are the winners here?  I don't know anymore.  All day the nursery rhyme has been going over and over in my head-- the Trump-as-King is in his counting house, counting out his money, the Queen is in the parlor (Trump Tower) eating bread and honey; the maid is in the garden hanging out the clothes...along came a wing-eating blackbird and snipped off her nose.  It seems the poor and the good are being punished here; they are shot and homeless and suffering from asthma and cancer and poor medicine while the losers have become the winners.  Crooked men are we, the new Americans, with our phones and selfies and downloaded lives-- broken brackets, crumbling White House, obscene coffers and man-made poverty; we are no longer dreamers but streamers.   Maria in the church basement cradling her empty violin case like a baby, waiting for her sad supper on a paper plate, singing a song of sixpence...

1 comment:

George Fawcett said...

Harrowing conceptualizations.

Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy