I hadn't realized, until I started blogging this summer how much the the Columbine tradgedies had influenced my writing. This piece from 1999 examines something seldom talked about -- the fascination we seem to have for the ugly evil whether it be real "news" or "just" another illusion in the "glowing screen".
I've got a confession to make, an observation in fact.
It's something I've noticed about the way that I react
to terrible tales of ugliness we hear in the news.
(I guess it's only me and it doesn't apply you?)
But when I hear they killed (let's say) twenty-five...
"In a little town, across the world, somewhere last night,
In a school, while you were sound asleep, a couple of creeps,
Armed with bombs and tiny, little machine guns,
Made them all into instant dog food just for fun..."
I'm shocked, of course, I sigh and maybe even cry...
& then the President replies, "Why o why
are things like this allowed to happen in our holy land?"
I shake my head and wish that I could hold his hand
& say "Well, brother Bill, you see, it's like this:
Where there are people & tensions, there'll be violence!
Look at the family: the abused children, the battered wives;
& the Balkans and other places where people aren't so nice...
The common burger bar is bad, but school life
is the worst that I have known, there where leaders are grown
& losers are made (how dare I put this into a poem?).
The terrors and the horrors that I myself have known
in almost-empty hallways of the Poosah City High School...
If you're not a member and don't play by the rules -- you're a fool...
Please don't get me wrong -- I'm not defending ding-bats!
Turning people into dog-food is not where it's at!
(I've got to get to my confession of beastliness
Before I run completely out of breath!)
When I heard the radio speaker say the following day:
"It was not a new record! It was less than twenty five
they whacked in their sick, little kamikaze attack!
Ten, and maybe more were finally found, alive
In the charnel house of learning..."
I felt a strange, burning,
feeling in my chest of somehow being...cheated!
I was shocked!
Do I take pleasure in seeing people mistreated?(!)
So I looked:
and found in a cellar, where I seldom go,
an ugly little beast with horns upon its head,
sitting giggling in its kingdom of the dread,
eating boogers for breakfast and sniggering to itself,
while on glowing screens, naked dancers are slowly stripped...
"Take a good look at the other end of that newspaper spoon!"
said William Burroughs, and he spoke simple truth
when he threw up his half-digested "Naked Lunch"
& showed us the errors of making deals with cold death:
If you want to know, I'll tell you what we're really like:
We stand around the trees of Calvary munching
hot dogs and potato chips and get our thrills
Of course I know that all you people gathered here
would never dream of bathing in Diana's tears!
But just to make sure, I suggest you check and see
There's nothing down there,
in that very private cellar, where you very seldom go...