EightThese poems are based on five groupings of eight, beginning with Robert J. Lifton’s principles of thought reform, as identified with despots and cult movements: milieu control, mystical manipulation, demand for purity, cult of confession, “sacred science”, loading of language, doctrine over person, and the dispensing with of existence. Next will be eight tactics of subversive propaganda: interrupt target’s work, create false urgency, denigrate all achievements, shift goalposts, abnormalize the normal, sow paranoia (attribute setbacks to “someone doing it”), withhold information, generate enemy relationships. Third, heading back uphill, the Bushido warrior’s eight virtues: righteousness, heroic courage, benevolence, respect, honesty, honor, duty, self-control. Fourth, Aquinas’s preferred form of logical determination, the disputatio legitima: question, answer, thesis, agreement, refutation, argument, suggested proof, final resolution. And last, the noble eightfold path of Buddhism: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

 

 


 

 

Thought Reform

 

Milieu
Mystical
Purity
Confession
Sacred Science
Loaded Language
Doctrine
The Dispensing

 

(Jump to Propaganda)

 


 

Stylized photo of woman with closed-smile

Milieu

 

You like and you don’t like

Thin chances but first to subtract aplomb

A fellow’s duty done

Subtract an unobstructed view and brace

Like Dr. Bellows dressed

In oilskins, your slumbering other self

Can’t help but help

Be national interviewee miked and lensed

Smooth criminal’s aileron roll on hurricane winds

A sly, ingenious, patron-gifted, faux autistic

Foe lays a cunning trap, strikes a deceitful pose

Craft, as the fang of a cat, fatuously arrayed

To tempt

Or not

Or so you think

Or so time says you nay

Five points to the order blank, pole star

No, you’re not meant to like it

Though Orion’s dog might have scented it

All that money changing hands

Top cats get cash, you, football, get

Your kicks, riches of embarrassment, but

Coy you, the way you wear your hat

The way you eat your crow

The bird’s eye’s heartless assessing

Ceiling-mirrored show

Why, you, it was you, your face said that

 

 


 

Stylized photo of Black-eyed Susan flowers

Mystical

 

A tribute to your thoughts

Brother Nostrazerof**k

The gift of seeing first is yours

That tweet you called it

Months ago when others snored

Coincidence is the crossing

Of a tool’s path with the genius

Groove laid down by his new master

 

You wake in the mornings

Tapped on the chest by your guardian angel’s rummaging

Drawers in a multi-bayed Garage Mahal

Where shiny Craftsman tiers on wheels

So red and bright as to raise the spirit

Of William Carlos Williams

Depend on that

All alike, old human lives and their paraphernalia

New inventory to purgatory’s clearinghouse

Comes continual

Here’s yours

Of silvery screws, a few, dropped in a jar

Dropped a-purpose, little seer, they clink out one by one

A Tropicana

Flying Down to Old Havana

marimba tune

Dink dink…dinka dinka dinka dink…dink dink

You wake in the mornings

You carry awareness of great things

You find an ankh and wear it

A Cherokee bear tattoo it

A Nepalese mandala

A Celtic maze

Peramble it

Amulet of moonstone

Yinning you to fearful excess

Balance this with dreams of rockets

 

 


 

Digital art of mournful eye among abstract black shapes

Purity

 

Can you be more use to the world?

Wend into your twilight and return your minerals

The tab-man counts the unatoned dollar

Spent to see firsthand

A grateful Europe wrought upon by science

You accept that power seeks its balance

That men of vision won all this for you

You accept your low-tier back-queue status

Accept the cracking altarpiece’s wrapping

The satin bow with its pronging pin

The blue planet in an Easter basket

Handed across for you to look at and then

removed

Fingered-over public items interfere with the IV tube

 

You accept the origin myth is altered

You accept it is not god

It is the father

You accept that sacrifice is virtue

You accept you are an earthly angel

For sacrificing more than had belonged to you

 

To be not at fault for anything

All fault be named and numbered by the visionary men

To be not at fault for anything

Occultist warnings jesting late

Flitter down reshuffling files, stories’ dates

To be not at fault for anything

Halt the growth inside the brain

To be…why did you come here…why at all?

Not at fault.

 

 


 

Pastel drawing purple figures surrouding as interrogators seated figure

Confession

 

You want to resist

Oh yes. You resist the teaching, you do.

Hadn’t they insisted at the little meeting

Hadn’t they insisted

(Oh, but I think you know what I mean.)

Hadn’t they shared with you, trusted you

Been kind to you, for joining us may be your redemption

And yet, it won’t.

Because you won’t be redeemed.

Your head seems lowered and your eyes shifting

You were asked a question and your leader, sadly

Smiles. He would be happy if recruits

Could be trusted. But they can’t.

Can’t yet. Can’t advance yet.

His fatherly love is not bandied

It is a thing hard won

When you came in, your gait…

Your walk reluctant, your sitting in your chair

Attitudinous, disappointing, heavy.

You make noise.

You do not sit erect and answer with alacrity

You hide your stubborn worldliness

Thou hast not put this sin away from thee

You, then. It may be you don’t really belong

Worse, you are rather dishonest

All along, he murmurs, I suppose

…been that one’s purpose.

It grieves the leader, speaking louder, turning to them all again

Grieves him, but he admits, sometimes, yes, the envious…

Sometimes, yes, we find mere hirelings…

Mere hirelings

Of the enemy, infiltrators

He glances right and left

His two lieutenants nod

Sometimes, yes, betrayers…

But the loyal members, after all

I don’t blame them. They feel strongly.

Now, do you love me? No, you don’t

And here I’ve come to speak to you myself.

 

 


 

Oil painting of man in strange landscape stalked by bird

Sacred Science

 

The Light is the Light

It is thus, New Ones, cherished Flowers of the Sun

The This

The Instrument of Inner Tunefulness

Our Helmsman, He our Earth-Names denote

Father-Sage

He Whom the Light Awakened

Is the Helmsman Whom the Light Awakened

As the Ultra of the Nebula Pulsahria

Ordained

And the Teachings that to him were given

Are the Teachings that to him were given

And the Empty who were called to follow

Are the Empty who were called to follow

Now be filled

 

Kernel-Stars of the Ultra, question nothing

The Lesser, who are falsely filled

Are falsely filled with Love of Earthly Lucre

Keeping ties with lying counsellors

Earth-Bound counsellors who shall not be taken up

On that Day of Great Return

Why (answer this, if you’ve a heart to)

Should lovers, friends, and parents care so much?

Dear Children

Perhaps it is not you, it is your money

But the Helmsman has thought of this

In his nightly Emanations he has not summoned these

 

Father-Sage,  Replenisher, the Helmsman, knows

That Which the Helmsman Knows

And knew, when first he sensed your Being

The Atomenes in their billion millennia of Ages

Gain passage through the Flesh of their Former Selves

And when the Light journeys here at last

To Herald the rebuilding of the City

By their faith shall The Tuneful be new-made

 

 


 

Digital drawing of fisherman and sea-creature

Loaded Language

 

The housing of Dillard’s vital organs

A compress wrapped to resist untightening

Larded arteries under dress clothes

Slick heels on his buckled shoes

Cocked back in a goatskin executive chair

His limbs clench at the camera’s disclosure

Despite he kicks in feeling rancor

He shoots from the situation room table

Remounts his seat in a sluice of warning wind

His black socks pillow

Despite he puts his ankles up

A button just above his belt is off

But Dillard’s Self in its flesh-bound husk

lives entrepreneurial

A loveable fraud like the peddler of Oz

If worse, he never seemed so

His actual wife, thinks of telling this

to the press

Thinks of appearing on a game show

Kernel Junior, dough-faced, pimples bright as tumors

thinks of killing

Dillard, their Helmsman, gears to speak

 

Strangers aggress themselves climbing the compound gate

The monitor Dillard watches on, cathode ray

He believes it, no one can hack these things

Feels smugly retrogressive as to technology

 

From other cameras, chaotic scenes

Sewing machines unused, uniforms half-crafted

Dishes in the sink draw flies

Khaki-sack-clad men and women

Oily-haired, shamed about the eyes

Weep boarding vans and give their names

 

“Let the unworthy leave us…the jealous…”

And he adds, a new address, “My Beloved”

“Let the losers,” he says, “flee to the arms of their

Lying exploiters”

He falls silent and Junior takes the microphone

 

 


 

Oil painting gold and cerise background five faces

Doctrine

 

They said there was a sage and revered man

Who for his vows spoke never, but did chant

The psalms, his mien aloft of earthly cares

And soul among the blessed…this was known

A bird of fields, he, counted it a break with God

A deeper thing than ordinary sin

To have taken thought for his next meal

 

When in the villages illness came or famine

Ah, then did they beseech his prayers and oft

Were there any crust of bread to share

Bade him be sated, his sainted lips, their cup

A living mystic’s relic borne in awe

To the sick-bed, whence his miracles gained fame

 

They said his arm-bone measured a golden mean

That, for the sake of sanctity, it came to be

That of the abbey dedicated to his name

Each block was hewn, fit flush to this same length

They said that war, when veiled anciennes

Alone still told the ordered words of orison

And fasted Wednesdays, lest the deity forsake them

War machines, made by men whose gods were other men

Had crushed and set aflame the charted layerings

 

It was no more the faithful had been asked

Than trust of Will, in webs of the Divine

This math, of a greater power’s design

In symmetry and intricate

Bloom on bloom

Feather on feather

Wave on wave

All puzzle-cut in plainest sight before our eyes

The hermit’s holy measure moved to garden walls

And street pavers

 

 


 

Collage of magazine clippings featuring phrase "People are ready for"

 The Dispensing

 

Is the person, as such, pleasing

 

In ways, does the person please, and in ways offend

If the good were scissored free from, we will say, four inferior samplings

Sleeve, bodice, skirt, stitched, with a neat, tooth-to-tooth intermeshing

Of their pinked edging

We should be left to ask, part two, whom does this garment fit

 

Need it fit?

If so, we do not wish the person wholly to be other than he is

We might pick out the seams, remake him, retaining the idea of the person, but altering

the perception of the idea

He is not to be made out of whole cloth, styled sufficient in autonomy to maintain

unpredictability, as threat or bringer of fortune

Oftentimes, a Tom, a Dick, a Harry

Dressed in anecdote, a player fabricated to beguile

But the mannequin is like a man, he serves, in that he moves and speaks

He speaks, sketched in with crabbing fingers pinched

He moves, made to do right at key points, the audience

 

Marionette Tom or Dick is elsewise of no use

 

That he lived contents us

A certificate of birth and a likeness

One or two remembered acts predictive

And if the story is of victory

And if the story is of failure

Let the story be the one at first, and then the other

And when the strawman falls from favor

We may dig from his file a daughter

 

 


 

 

Propaganda

 

Interrupting
Urgency
Oh, You Did That?
Lines Attached
Abnormalizing

 

 


 

Digital painting of futuristic living room chairs facing eyeball

Interrupting

 

Bright comes the sun o’er prospects verdant

Bright comes the upglow of new-booted screen

Bright the blue ink on fresh-peeled Post-it

Bright the gay tinkle of first text received

 

Here is a pincer move to keep the target tautened

The dandiest thing in banquet platters, name-tagged, yours

Heaped with meats and glistening sauces

Heaped with southern layered biscuits

Pies that steam out pumpkin spices

Only you had better get that

No, rather not, sign a petition

Well, yes, one cares about the subject…

Just, though…in point of fact…

In the room behind, the feast puffs out its little heat

(Luke, they say, is famous for liking this sort of thing)

But of course…can’t commit under pressure

And in the interim, someone has taken it away

 

It takes some brooding on…but to feel bumpered

Plenished with that sense of not going it alone

Say hey gang to a few non-friends, vent via bad day emoji and meme

Check again

 

Next you find yourself in Dutch

(And mental note: Can one still say so?)

Failed at reading the urgent email

Is a filter’s sensitivity anyone’s fault?

Algorithms seem to go by their own seditious thought

 

By afternoon, fancies of spring weather

Living in a camper-trailer

Funding findings on the road, of kitsch and retro

Learning to penguin-walk backwards interviewing Self

Who knew there was a museum dedicated to the witching ball

Or this place, the birthplace of the inventor

Of miniature golf

 

 


 

Stylized photo pixelated mountain scene

Urgency

 

Being on a holiday maker’s tramline

That rendezvous with Moment

Or the narrow, might be boulder-strewn

Road that hugs the mountainside

Just past the curve, or here. Where you are marooned.

Warning signs say      warning signs say

ROCK FALLS

Rock falls…it won’t help knowing

You hardly know how to do the brake thing

But then, for the going up, where traffic’s crawl has slugged itself

Wholly into stasis, it seems your fate again, stuck in a gear

You doubt you’ll have the crucial hang of changing

Momentum meant a lot, and you’ve lost it

Still you have the vista

Diagonal below, through the side glass like a TV show

Depending those worse off ones

Bad luck’s baubles on a string

They weren’t expecting this no escape scenario

If the serial killer is a pot-shotter as well

Bored with easy pickings car by car

Or, if rock falls, why not cyclones roar

Is that shine on distant clouds the end of day

Or deathly cataclysm’s roll?

 

But relief at the hotel

A brief scurrying in with bags

Majesty and awesomeness, why does nature importune thus?

Sitting in a restaurant with a window view

Lasering sun finds every mole in bas relief

Maybe this the terror your mind should focus on

Next year perhaps no further of this travel

Think of how they’ll fire you before the tests come back

Was your see you Monday taken with a smirk?

 

 


 

Pastel and ink drawing of white and yellow birds

Oh, You Did That?
(Denigrate All Achievements)

 

Feathering yourself as a useful magpie

Quick and quicker your knack to apply that eye

Does a trained birdbrain need a pat on the head

Flies know a trick too

Everything carrion to them banquet once to you

And it is the spoilment we speak of

Never mind the worthy principle

That we don’t thank people for doing their jobs

We don’t. It belittles the dignity of labor

Suggests the worker’s state disgraces her

She only petitions the bossman with favors

And so we break a little bit

Your psyche aches to leave its seat

She strives for you, you claim an upper hand

that isn’t yours

Not your cog (ig) nition

spins the globe

Sputtering a bluish smoke

You dive…you right yourself with a master crafter’s

mind, set assuming your printout diploma

crony-minted by your school of Fair Chances

Lets you arbitrate the lesser birds’ adaptations

A hummingbird…why pretty why beloved?

(Why dainty and protected…why fed and not expected

to bear loads?)

A crow that counts and uses tools

A blue jay hustling up some action, a stork

That corners the baby-making racket

A flock of pigeons’ modern take on public statues

A cardinal who for his wife’s dull coat

Cites religious exception

A sparrow identical in markings to his mate

 

 


 

Oil Painting with digital enhancement glowing orange red and black

Lines Attached
(Shift Goalposts)

  

Bulletin: All leaves are cancelled

Spring clamped tighter in a chamber locked

For the next release ASAP

The initiative going forward hews to

Lines attached can safely pull it down

A limited set of data, determined by newer measurements

taken in recent months

 

Bulletin: Everyone is to develop a skill

An empty mall with a chance of housing

When called upon be ready to deploy

Undam the superheroesque chest swelling

Ignore the menu printed on the 31st

Stand by to learn where A-F, G-L, M-R, S-Z

Are scheduled to rehearse

 

Bulletin: All individuals must pass a fitness test

Those most apt for throwing tantrums tapped

To siphon trusted capital, “up here”

And demonstrate their competence at math

Suited best to punch the card in protest

Conversances in languages desired but not

Designated disqualifying for combat

 

Bulletin: At checkpoints find the highway closed

Carry in your lap safe conducts references

On request, old shackle-mates who vouch

if not found out

People you count among your happier successes

Yours now to prove their testimony germane

There is at the beginning, starting

 

 


 

Oil painting in purple and green tones with abstract figures

Abnormalizing

 

Should Dr. Comus mount to the podium

Begged before he dies, of a valediction, lightning-bolted by the gaze

When freed as angels his victims anneal him

And words break out, in patterns of revealing

His ilk, his false-named friends, a younger colleague

A theoretician, but a go-getter, they turn them out

that way, it’s admirable, the zestiness, of the United States

different kinds of cutters

shape the dough into different cookies

sleighs and stockings

bump-edged rounds

featureless limb-splayed men

Dragée smiles onto them, the wiser sort of guys

Who won’t be taken in, now prove that you are not a skull

wearing the healthy skin

of a human being prove you aren’t a radio receiver

Tuning voices from Pacific atolls atomized

Cries for answering cries, in still, early hours

Stating facts the stating of makes injured of

Secreted persons laying vials on slabs of white Formica

Let us choose for you your prize, absolution of the sin of pride

By a Calvinistic bent, it is your destiny to help

hidden even to yourself

Symptoms you display, thinking thoughts unbridled

And if the subject thought the thoughts we think

There would be no God

Everything is somewhat true, around the backside

of the globe, under knittings of squat palms

clumps of grass that bouclé steppe lands

Data of sequestered realms, sequestered truths all lock

their knucklebones together, fencing off

Grim Gordian knotters

Everything

Somewhat

True

Is it necessary to break the house

Life, you say and say, is mission

The old men linger, radiating their weak charisma

 

 


(more to come)


 

Oil painting three alley cats

See more poetry on Uncollected Poems page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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