Naked and Alone – A Poem by Ron Olsen

Naked and Alone

by Ron Olsen

When one’s only sin

Is driving while black

It demands of us all

A slight glancing back

Beyond Donald’s hair

The rhetoric

And flair

Is the past

Aghast

Smashed

Trashed

As though it never happened

Lessons forgotten

Lying there rotten

 

Rodney King

The L.A. Riots

The burning

The death

The fear

The push to move beyond where we were

To what we could be

A commission’s plea

A consent decree

A plan to get us there

Beyond the hair

The rhetoric and fear

The cloud of deceit

And self-interest

 

All of it washed away by time

As though it never happened

Leaving us here

Naked and alone

In our childlike simplicity

Doomed to repeat futility’s call

Refusing to see the future

In our past

 

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Ron olsen is a Peabody and Emmy winning journalist and occasional poet who lives in Bel Air, Maryland.   More of his work can be found at http://workingreporter.com/poetry.html and at workingreporter.com

Remarkable, Really – A Poem by Ron Olsen

 

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Remarkable, Really

by Ron Olsen

 

Remarkable, really

The agreement through the years

Between Coolidge

And Hoover

And those today

Who would destroy

What we have

And move backward in time

To a place where pain

Suffering

And indifference

Made us less than we are

Or what we could be

Or should be

 

Progress defiled

Denied

Denounced

Defamed

Again

By those who fear

Spiritual grace

Knowing only concrete and steel

Things

Not people

Denial of love

Accepting of fear and hate

Using it all up

Leaving none for the rest

And then blaming it on God

 

Can you remember what worked

And that which did not?

 

Coolidge

And Hoover

Reagan

And Bush

Actor and baseball syndicate millionaire

Supported by family

And friends

To qualify the few

While forgetting the rest

All for the best

At the master’s behest

An order to the masses

Who think it’s a request

 

They’ll believe anything, you know

 

With all memory gone

The body politik

Repeats the cycle

Problems forgotten

So many gone rotten

Ignorance, misinformation and lies

Bullying their way forward once again

Leaving only a dam

A great depression

A movie reel

A baseball team

And draconian denial

In their wake

While no one

Remembers why

Or who

Or when

They get away with it again

Remarkable, really

 

Ron olsen is a Peabody and Emmy winning journalist and occasional poet who lives in Bel Air, Maryland.   More of his work can be found at http://workingreporter.com/poetry.html and at workingreporter.com

Oh, California! by Ron Olsen

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 Oh, California!

by Ron Olsen

The Surfliner pulled out in the early morning haze

Rattling down the tracks

No looking back now

Hillary dressed like the palace guard

Wearing a white tent

Smiling far too broadly

A cheshire cat that swallowed a server

That ate the dove

That gobbled up a relationship with greed

Secrets impossible to keep

Smiling ear to ear

Supported by superdelegates

And a system rigged from the top

An unimpartial media

Telling us all along

Bernie had no chance

Sooner or later

You too will believe

As they peat and repeat

Endlessly bellowing

Bernie can’t win

Bernie’s a joke

Bernie’s a Socialist

The only straight-shooter out there

Who

In the end

Was betrayed by even the free-thinkers

And radical freaks in California

Who turned their backs for a woman

No matter the price

Or didn’t know they had to ask for a special ballot

Confusion breeding success for the lady candidate

And her husband’s Foundation

Depriving the country

Of one last chance

At throwing the money changers

Away from the temple doors

You did it sunny Cal

No calling it back now

As media mavens gush

With satisfaction and self-congratulation

Oh, California!

Liberal, righteous, progressive California!

Proving they were right all along

Bernie never had a chance

Even when he did

The old Vermont steamer

Slammed by a wall

Of conspiracy and collusion

Intended and unintended alike

Leaving those on the inside

Insulated from any real accountability

As the nation returns to business as usual

And the political hacks blather on

About all the baggage she carries

Needing safari bearers

Hauling it on their broken backs

The train now just a dot

In the distant

California sun

 

Ron Olsen is a Peabody and Emmy Award winning journalist.  After more than 30 years in Los Angeles, he and his wife recently moved to rural Maryland.  More of his poetry can be found at http://workingreporter.com/poetry.html

Silent Rape – A Poem By Ron Olsen

Silent Rape
by Ron Olsen

Cameras on the corner
Drones with eyes above
The NSA listens in
To sounds of hate and love
Copying your email
Your every movement followed
Credit cards leave a trail
Of dinners out you’ve swallowed

A module plugged into your car
Locates you in a flash
Telling the company where you are
And whether you’re likely to crash
Where you are
And are likely to be
Now
Tomorrow
And forever
Stripped of all privacy
At the pull of a government lever

Your life in public files somewhere
You’re nailed to the wall
Who you are and want to be
Medium, big or small
They have your profile
From the Net
Your tendencies
Propensities, too
Eccentricities
Health records
Potential for disease
Everything’s targeting you

Your willingness to do as your doctor says
Your voting and trips to the loo
Who you like
And don’t
And why
Who you’re listening to
Your philosophy
And spiritual needs
Each and every detail
They’ve got it all
They’ve got it pat
They’re riding you on a rail

All you’ve done
Or failed to do
That book you bought on line
An association with Karl Marx
Means you’re no longer prime
All you wanted was a read
But it’s turned you into a threat
For the billionaires who buy the polls
And track you on the Net

An average selection
Of a new generation
Accepting it as their norm
Naïve to the truth
That the freedom they have
Might be lost in the oncoming storm

 
©2015 Ron Olsen/All rights reserved

Ron Olsen is a Peabody and Emmy award winning journalist, essayist and poet.  He lives in Los Angeles.

All Of That And More – Poem by Ron Olsen

All Of That And More Poem

All Of That And More
by Ron Olsen

Popped the top
Poured it slow
Against the side of the glass
Forming a perfect head of foam
Hitting my tongue
Tasting the past
Taking me back
To a slower time
In so many small towns
We knew them all
They were our youth

My big Pontiac
Nearly off the snow covered road
So many times
Driving blind
On instinct alone
And the grace of God
Seeing us through
To maybe get lucky
On a Saturday night
In the frozen north

Through the haze
We’re there again
An ancient bar
Salted peanuts and purple pickled eggs
In Lake Henry
St. Martin
New Munich
A few others
Names forgotten in the fog
All the same
A big Catholic church
A John Deere dealer
A beer hall
And a house or two

Pull another tap
The boys at the bar
Draining it dry
Telling lies
Laughing hard
Before the band stopped playing
And the sun came up
And the girls went home
And Izzy locked the door

I drain my glass dry
And the past dies again
A time we could understand
A time we could feel
Enough time, for you and me
To drink our fill
And maybe die behind the wheel
Or, if we were lucky
To cheat death one more time

Thinking we were so much more
Than we really were
Only we really were
All of that and more

 

©2015 Ron Olsen – all rights reserved

Los Angeles – A Poem By Ron Olsen

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Los Angeles
by Ron Olsen

 
She sucks you in
With glamour
Gold
And glitz

With whispers of wealth and fame

They answer by the thousands
Overachievers
Approval seekers
Ladder climbers
Feeling a need
To be somebody
Or at least try

I arrived
Turning right
Off the ribbon of light
Feeling less than connected
Flying off the Hollywood Freeway
Down onto the land of moving earth

Disconnected from the soil
No longer weighed down by the gravity of the East
The heaviness of well-considered thought
Floating somewhere above the sandy soil of the Valley
Without any need to think about why

Never mind
That’s just the way things are
Here on the edge of the ring of fire
With too little rain
Only the hot Santa Ana’s refrain
To remind you of weather’s call
That with the sameness
Sometimes it’s there at all

L.A. doesn’t welcome you
She dares you to stay
If you can handle
The lack of connectivity
As the ground shifts beneath your feet
And your thoughts float away

A social register replete
With no one to meet
For any real reason
Other than seeing and being seen
For the full and meritorious value
Of maybe getting someone famous
To give you the time of day

Or perhaps gain fame yourself
If you’re tough enough
Smart enough
Strong enough
To hang on

To keep from flying off into space
As the ring of fire shifts once more

 

 
©2015 Ron Olsen – all rights reserved

 

Poem – “One True Belief” by Ron Olsen

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One True Belief
by Ron Olsen

You
Me
Us
Our  struggle is meaningless
For those who truly believe
In their one version of the truth

The New Testament’s revenge
A pipeline’s purpose
Fuels a climate change denier’s anger
Crying out for more and not less
Of that which hastens our demise
As they wait for evil to blanket the world

They know it’s sure to happen
It’s a certain thing
For those who truly believe
In their one version of the truth

For centuries running
They have seen the end coming
It’s just over there
Almost in sight now
With absolute certainty
That they are right
Once again

Even though they’ve been wrong before
Every time
Time and again
And then time again

They’ve even set dates
Only to be wrong
And still they believe
In myth over metaphor
Interpretation over fact
Having more impact
On government and culture
Than any of us knows

Creating the certainty
That only self-fulfilling prophecy
Can deliver to the collective mindset
As the approach of Armageddon
Makes caring meaningless
To those who truly believe

Making us
Irrelevant
Our struggle childish futility
In their eyes
Even while we hold the keys to salvation
For those who dare admit
That we might succeed
At pulling ourselves from the fire

For those with the courage to believe
That we might not be irrelevant after all
That we might be our only best hope

Even as God whispers in the ear
Of some enlightened fool
Who, after a pint of his favorite brew
Sets yet another date
For the rest of us to burn in hell
And demands that his local congressman
Must do the same

 
© 2015 Ron Olsen/all rights reserved

 

Ron Olsen is a Los Angeles based writer.   More of his poetry can be found here.

Poem: The Great Obliviators by Ron Olsen

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The Great Obliviators
by Ron Olsen

Stuck in Afghanistan
Without an exit plan
While drones fly
Where no soldiers need go

All this after
Vietnam
Iraq
Pakistan
And now Syria, too

We were warned this would happen

The glorification of war
Never-ending militarism
Not to be questioned
Or risk being accused of being less than American

Ike told us it was coming
Back in 61
The “rise of misplaced power” he said
The Military Industrial Complex
Now it’s here

Eisenhower, knew war
Those who now make war do not

But they are locked in
Not about to let go
As imperial America
Bites down
On the world

A pit bull in every yard
An urban assault vehicle in every garage
A gun in every drawer
Pepper spray in every purse
To fend off neighbors
Against the oncoming imagined apocalypse

ISIS beheadings
Plastic sheeting to cover your windows and doors
Smallpox in the mail
Sarin in the subways
Hijackers on our planes

The necessary threat

Without it, there is no fear
And without fear, no motivation
Without motivation
No public funding

Keeping the prophets of fear
In power
Cash fat sociopaths
Caring only for themselves

Gutting the middle class
Keeping the nation at war
To satisfy the greed
Of those whose greed knows no satisfaction
Only the need for more

© 2015 Ron Olsen – all rights reserved

Healthcare – A Poem

Healthcare
By Ron Olsen

When people profit from
Other people’s illness

Disease becomes more profitable
Than wellness

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon
To understand

Sickness perpetuates wealth
Free healthcare results in health

Try and move forward
Rather than back

And they’ll nail you with fear
And rail you with lies

While they pay off the doctors
And give the medical schools millions

To perpetuate
The myth of caring

 

© 2015 Ron Olsen / all rights reserved

 

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Ron Olsen is a retired journalist who lives in Los Angeles.   He writes essays and an occasional poem.   More of his work can be found here.

Hotdish – A Poem Of The Great North Woods

Hotdish
by Ron Olsen

God bless hotdish
It kept us alive
But first we’d pray
Our Sunday morning ritual
Praying
To get through it all
For just one more day

We meant it too
We were so unworthy
The Vicar told us
And vile
And ungrateful
Not worthy to “gather up the crumbs” under His table
Which we really didn’t need
Truth be told

We had hotdish

Plenty of it
Stronger than theology
And tasty too

Tuna
Noodles
And sour cream
Pimentos
Olives
A splash of milk with a can of soup
Mix it together
Crush some potato chips on top
A sprinkle of paprika for an exotic edge
Throw it in the oven
And there you go

Salt and pepper
To give it taste
Bracing your blood to stand up
To the demon weather
Wailing outside
Begging you to come out
So it could try and kill you one more time

But we had hotdish
Made by the Ladies of the Ladies Aid
Who knew what they were doing

Big, strong German and Scandinavian farm ladies
With secrets they brought over from the old country
Arriving with only their bibles, babies and the family jewels
Bending over stoves
In the Episcopal Guild Hall basement
The heat flooding out to envelop the entire room

Making heavy, hearty, homemade hotdish in
Big Pyrex glass baking dishes
Doing their part
To keep the kids and the cardiologists going

And just as you were about to burst with joy
Unworthy as you were
There was even more to come
Through the passthrough and out into the main hall

Giant bowls of green and yellow Jell-O, wiggling and jiggling with life
Bits of cottage cheese suspended inside
And green olives
Molded in the shape of pinwheels
Or Christmas trees
Or peculiar giant half-moon shaped fish with big scales

And the old men would watch
Mumbling under their breath
“Damn kids don’t know how good they’ve got it…”

So we prayed to be forgiven
And were mindful of the need to be always alert
If the weather didn’t kill you some crazy old man might
Or you could fall through the ice and drown a horrible death in the lake

And all the while the wind screamed
Threatening to take your soul

And it might have
Except for the hotdish

Neither the north wind
Nor the crazy old men dared cross
The ladies of the Ladies Aid
Who knew exactly what they were doing

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© Ron Olsen – all rights reserved

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Ron Olsen is a retired journalist who lives in Los Angeles, where he writes essays and an occasional poem.  You can find more of his poetry on his website, workingreporter.com.

 

Will Greece Lead The Way In A Return To Democracy?

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by Ron Olsen

Do you understand derivatives?   Still not sure I do , except that they were a term Wall Streeters used so that they could play with other people’s money while the world’s economy crashed.   Because I’m not an economist, I looked up the definition.  Seems to me, it can mean anything the bankers want it to mean.   They come up with these terms like credit default swaps and derivatives, and nobody knows exactly what they’re doing, setting them free to commit economic murder.    Which is what they did.   And they still are.    These people are both clever and ruthless and that’s one hell of a combination.

Because I’m not as smart as the bankers,  I tend to lump derivatives in with the sub-prime loan crisis and all their other creative high finance that nearly brought us all down while the banks gorged themselves, extracting money from the poor suckers in the middle class who had no idea what was happening and no adequate government regulation to protect them thanks to the great Republican standard bearer for deregulation, Ronald Reagan.

So they took these things called derivatives (basically a contract to buy something or place a bet on something), bundled them all together and sold them as having great value, when in fact, they were all but worthless.   Particularly when they consisted of  a bunch of sub-prime loans homeowners would ultimately be unable to pay back, although they were duped into thinking that somehow everything would work out for the best.   As I said, clever.

The bankers are also using derivatives to make billions by driving up food prices while people starve.    Ruthless.

I believe in a mixed economy, but the sociopathic behavior these guys exhibit is enough to turn any thinking person into a socialist.

It’s runaway greed and it partially crashed the world’s economy, with some of the first warning shots I can recall  coming from Iceland, followed by Greece, the birthplace of democracy, which continues struggling to  this day, along with the United States, where the middle class has been devastated.    But back to Greece, and more importantly, what’s happening there now.

National interests,  like the governments of the United States and Germany,  who had to float big loans to keep entire countries from going under following all the creative banking hi-jinx on Wall Street and elsewhere, demanded extreme austerity programs be put in place to help them recover their money.

Austerity.   Here in the U.S., for the Republicans, that means cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, healthcare for women and pretty much everything else put in place as a financial safety net for all but the very wealthy at the top, who, not coincidentally, are represented by Republicans.

And the Democrats?   Their current frontrunner for president, Hillary Clinton, is considered to be a darling of Wall Street, picking up huge speaking fees to address their insider meetings.   How would you feel if Goldman Sachs gave you $200,000 for just one speech?  Connect the dots.

This is all very complicated, and again, I’m no economist, but basically the fat cats who were taking all the money went bust and had to be bailed out by the middle class.   Now those same fat cats are demanding that the middle class should have their lives ruined by austerity, while the big guys on Wall Street enjoy record profits.

The Guardian reports  for example, that “In 2013  the bonus pay of employees in the financial industry was 65 percent more than the total compensation of all wages for every full-time minimum wage earner in the entire United States. That number does not include wages paid, but simply bonuses paid to the average financial sector employees.”

Get that?    A relative few on Wall Street made more in bonuses alone than every minimum wage-earner in the country.     And we had to bail these guys out?  It’s one big con.  This is why Elizabeth Warren keeps saying the system is rigged.  Because it is.

But back to Greece.   The birthplace of Democracy.

The Greeks, have just elected a new  Prime Minister, described as a “leftist maverick,”  Alexis Tsipris, who has formed a coalition government to lead the Greeks “out of austerity.”

This could be a very big deal for all of us, because it could signal the beginning of government organized serious international pushback against the austerity movement that followed the crash of 2008.  Angela Merkel and Germany, are big proponents of “austerity.”    So are Republicans, here in the U.S.    Again, I’m no economist, but basically it means cutting back or eliminating government spending to shore up budgets, screwing the elderly, the poor, the middle class and those who are most impacted by hard times, while the wealthy at the top enjoy heretofore unheard of profits.     For the wealthy, austerity brought good times back to the Wall Street table.   If you were middle class or below, you were forgotten.   Cast off like so much rubbish.

No money for food?   Eat grass.   Can’t afford birth control?   Don’t have sex.  Can’t afford college?   Take out a huge loan and spend the next 20 years paying back the bankers and the federal government.   Even though, according to S&P, educating more of our young people will give us a stronger economy.   So why make it more difficult to get a college education?  Same thing goes for spending on the nation’s infrastructure.    Our bridges,  roads and sewer systems.  Who needs any of that?    Oh, and not to worry about not having birth control.  Republicans, you can be sure,  will be standing in line to pay for thousands of unwanted children.

That’s austerity.  It’s working really well for the rich while everybody else gets clobbered and the Greeks, are obviously fed up.   There is speculation that their new progressive coalition might drop out of the “Eurozone” altogether, dropping the “Euro” as their official currency and going off to do their own thing.   And why shouldn’t they?   The austerity program Germany and the Eurozone are imposing on Greece,  is making average Greeks miserable.

While Americans are still waking up to how badly they’ve been swindled by the bankers, what is now happening in Greece might very well spread to other countries, as people get sick and tired of being sick and tired, while the wealth continues flowing to the top.

According to Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont,  “In America today, the top 1 percent owns more than 35 percent of all of the nation’s household wealth while the bottom 60 percent owns only 2.3 percent of the wealth. The distribution of income is even worse.  In 2010, 93 percent of all new income went to the top 1 percent, while the bottom 99 percent of people accounted for the remaining 7 percent. “We have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth, worse today in the United States than at any time since 1928 before the Great Depression.” 

People will put up with eating grass for only just so long.   Eventually, they are going to demand some real food.

I have no idea to what degree financial irresponsibility on the part of past Greek governments may be responsible for their current economic crisis.   However, things in Greece really went sour after they joined the European Union, and grew exponentially worse due to credit default swaps following the crash of 2008.  I’m pretty sure that if you drill down far enough you’ll find bankers and other lending institutions coupled with inadequate regulation are at the heart of their crisis, just as Wall Street devastated the American economy with their creative financial instruments no one was able to fully comprehend until the ceiling fell in.

What’s happening in little Greece, could be the beginning of a major pushback against austerity.   Their new Prime Minister says it’s all about returning democracy to Greece.

A representative democracy?  Government that represents the majority rather than a wealthy minority?   Sounds pretty good.  Maybe we should give it a try here in the U.S.?

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Ron Olsen is a Peabody and Emmy award winning journalist who lives in Los Angeles.   He left the news business in 09 and now writes essays and poetry in Los Angeles.   His website and blog are located at http://workingreporter.com