Step Children

by P.J. Pappas


the police cruiser siren

is America's clarion call

"Big Brother, comin' thru!"

people stand at attention on street corners

slow, and turn reverently on sidewalks

as one of Big Brother's llackeys

(posing as best as possible as the Man,

behind mirrored shades)

blasts past, gears grinding at reckless high speed

all puffed up & flushed with bestowed power

of powerful weapons in the trunk,

full communications link-up via radio &

on-board computer

Authority, a royal head trip

is this guard racing to save a citizen

from a rabid gang of mugging delinquent youths,

or is there a squabble in the supermarket parking lot

between two husbands (who have both had long days)

that might just escalate into a shoving match

or does a bicycle-cop need back-up in ticketing

some adolescent for riding a bike on the sidewalk

. . . whatever the case may be,

a blue-clad chest, thrust out, and a hand

on holster is needed

to instruct l in extremis condescension

whichever wayward individual

has obviously gotten all mixed up in their

ethics & understanding of right & wrong,

of what is proper and acceptable in this here

god-blessed nation


the flashing siren clarion


the arrival of automaton societal values,

handed down from who-knows-where

to keep us all in line

to know what best for us all

. . . to gratify another American


And while that whole scene goes on

out on the streets, outside,

where we hear it above our dinners,

our homework, our love-making, &

intimate conversations. . .

We actually experience & consider

the whole-wide-world-out-there

through our TVs

: invisible intravenous injections

to our brains

the administration of the manna

of post-modern culture

Sustenance of Life-itself

a safe distance to live by

a comforting


Who are these people, these voices

that stare and beckon to us

from the tube of. . .

with soothing voices, reassuring,

knowing us better than we know ourselves

Looking right at us with enormous bright eyes

to never see our humble selves

Reaching out to our heartstrings,

beyond our reach, in turn,

Only the abject terror of Life's realities

could inspire and arrange for such a chasm of illusion

between Us and Our World

Distance and Separation

—from visceral feeling, sharp-pointed

emotion, chest-rocking pain,

enfeebling joy, and mostly. . .

with any warm body, any living entity

—is made comfortingly possible

by our heaven-condoned hypermedia

We live a filter existence

and the immortal infant within our souls

feels no real contact, is purposefully left

in the pale-blue glow of an isolation

tempered by surrogate dreams

and a night-nurse of sit-com preprogramming

We don't even notice as our inner-child

descends into catatonic disfigurement

of the living spirit

the Euphemism

is. . . Entertainment

in fact mass(burial) media

is comprehensive insidious


catalyzed by herd mentality

Everything compressed into an easily

chewed micro-thin wafer,

and an easy, small swig

of hyper-concentrated sacrament

. . . all These words, too complex

don't fit in the TV-fed syntax

Ambiguity, contradiction, paradox

are abolished, bleached out

in the insipid, easy-too-swallow

Cathode Norm

the rest,

. . . is deviance

to question, to de-bunk to raze & rail against

is just a giant, intolerable

source of headache

to be preventatively medicated away. . . long ago

This faux-paradisiacal age of benightenment

has already had things

going so smoothly

for so long

in its byte-size skipping pulse

—(constantly rattling consciousness off-balance)

. . . that Balance

seems too precarious a position

to stand

too untouched too solitary too scary

Life beyond the retina engages too much

of a whirl of humankind's explosion

of senses

Too long ago too many people

must have assuredly

seen too much

. . . and gone crazy


It won't happen to us

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