Skeptic in a Strange Land

When hope crawls out of the dark woods, stepping across
the wet ground to the rural highway on the edge of the woods,
a super-duty pick-up truck careens down the quiet country
lane and crushes that wish for tomorrow under its massive tires.

Howls of laughter from the truck’s cab, fueled by Keystone Beer
and stale cigarette smoke, spew malignant noise like rancid honey
into the hazy air, coating the morning dew with nicotine and tar
and poisons only a tobacco company chemist could readily name.

The death of hope, unremarkable to those witless celebrants,
leaves a hole in the sky quickly filled by bigotry and hate.
Meth-powered parenthood supersedes empathy here,
urging children to curb intellect in favor of mindless bravado.

Here and there, pockets of compassion emerge, only to be drowned
like ill-fated puppies in pools of toxic rage and maniacal fanaticism.
Hope can’t survive here in this land of twisted religion and
pistol-worship; not here, in this Petri dish of cerebral squalor.

Yet, in spite of the desperation born of congenital stupidity,
a few brave souls climb out of those noxious pools, determined
to scrub the thick layers of scum from the landscape and wash
the disease from brains chemically-cooked in ugly pathology.

I don’t know where those quixotic crusaders find moral stamina
in the face of wave after fetid wave of brutish rejection.
And I suspect their efforts will forever be pointless and wasted.
But they continue to try and I watch with skeptical admiration.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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