Ron Olsen's poetry
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I Had A Friend
by Ron Olsen

I had a friend
A sniper
Not a movie
A sniper
Who came back unable to live with us

When we went shooting
He never missed

He was in the jungle
Tied to a tree
Until he nearly died from
Some vile amoebic rot
Put him in a hospital in Japan

He came back
Married a woman
Kept a big spider
And a snake
Kept them in aquariums on shelves
With a giant hookah in the middle of the room

He'd let the spider out
Let it crawl around
And the snake
Inside your shirt
If you weren't careful
He still needed some hazard
Some threat
Some kind of edge

We smoked
And then his young wife
Would coax him into bed
Where he slept with a 45
And the dreams
Of what had passed

Still uncomfortable without his back to the wall
No trust
He'd seen too much
I guess
Felt too much
The marriage did not last
So he left to build sailboats

He was my friend
But I let him go
Threw him away like so much trash
I was unsure
Afraid of what he might do
You can't be too careful
Around people who play with spiders

I had a friend
He was a sniper
He came back from the war
And died young
I could have done more
But maybe not

I'm sorry

I no longer knew who you were

Or a story
To make money
For some Hollywood producer
To glorify war
And reassure ourselves of who we are
How strong we are
How deadly we are
How right we are
How decent we are
That killing can be justified

I had a friend
He was a sniper
Now he's dead
Died young from jungle rot
There's no movie about his life
Just reality

I'm so damn sorry


One True Belief
by Ron Olsen

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 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 congressman 
Must do the same 


I'll Bet You Didn't Know
by Ron Olsen

I'll bet you didn't know
Heard the buzz?
It's real life

Not just Hollywood

James Garner
One of the many
Hand in hand with Diahann Carroll
Newman, Brando,Charlton Heston
And so many more

Hand in hand
Neither cold nor dead
In the march on Washington
Three hundred thousand listening to Martin explain his dream
To move beyond the suffering, pain and indifference
And the hate
The damnable hate
Born out of the coarse repugnance of small minds

Dear God, will it never stop?

And so they marched
In 63
Not so long ago, really
For those who were there
For those who still care
For those who can still feel their way through the fog

Heard the buzz?
It's real life
Not just Hollywood


by Ron Olsen

I'll simplify

Bitching and moaning
Is preferable  to killing one another

And so

We are the land of bitching and moaning
Whining and wailing
Weeping and worrying
Watching and wondering

Is it hopeless?
Better watch out

Violence loving
Highly intellectualized primates
Are as dangerous as it gets
On this planet, anyway

And so

For those who don’t understand
I’ll simplify

Bitching and moaning
Is preferable to slaughtering one another

Better hope
It doesn’t end anytime soon
We may have already overstayed our welcome


Here They Come Again

by Ron Olsen

Here they come again
As before
Always in the rear
Armed with pushcart, shovel and positive disposition
Picking up what’s left
From the horses
The elephants
A circus of joy
And the children all cheer as they pass by
The inevitable result of the parade of life
All well paid for their contribution
Considering what they do

Here they come again
As before
Not far from the rear
Armed with bullets, grenades and knives
Bringing carnage
And death
And fear
And sadness
And the children all cheer as they pass by
The inevitable result of the parade of life
All well paid for their contribution
Considering what they do

Here they come again
As before
Somewhere near the rear
Armed with verbal deflection, a clever turn of the word
The fixers
The promisers
The tellers of half-truths
The leaders
And the children all cheer as they pass by
The inevitable result of the parade of life
All well paid for their contribution
Considering what they do

Here they come again
As before
Always in the rear
Sidestepping what the pushcarts missed
Undeterred by their position
Armed with truth, curiosity and hope
The thinkers
The knowers
The bringers of light
The solution
And the children all slumber as they pass by
The inevitable result of the parade of life


Don’t Lie To Me

by Ron Olsen

Don’t lie to me

About Afghanistan
Or Iraq
Or Venezuelan oil
Or mushroom clouds
Or anthrax
Or sarin gas

Don’t lie to me

About Al Qaeda
Or the Saudis
Or Valerie Plame
Or 9-11
Or Democracy
Or Obamacare
Or immigration

Don’t lie to me

Tell me we’re fine
Tell me it’s over
Tell me everything is going to be all right
Tell me if I just pray hard enough
If I just believe
If I just have faith
We’ll all be fine

Don’t lie to me


So We Dance
By Ron Olsen

I danced on his grave
The dance of the living death

So little time left
For any of us
Left behind
No cause
No purpose
So I danced

It seemed like the thing to do
It felt right

Go away
Just leave
From under the ground
Deep below
In a wooden box
The protest came
I called out to myself
As I danced

It seemed like the thing to do

I felt no pain
No guilt
Just the ongoing
Fullness of revenge running out
Pointless revenge
Spiritual self-immolation

Not a part of the whole
An observer
Separate from the rest
Outside of myself
Watching me as I danced
A witness to futility

Interaction, contraction, reaction
Shooting craps again and again
Until it ends
And the Reaper grins
At our naïve failure to live for something
Other than ourselves
Other than to be
And to be satisfied with being

So we dance
Pretending we have meaning
Giving us the courage to believe we have something
Beyond one another

Suddenly it’s 69 again
At some grungy bar in Minneapolis
CS&N are screaming
We have no choice
But to carry on

Now it is sampling
Then it was stealing
Either way, the truth still works

So we dance

Better to dance
Than to lie down and die


Yourself Looking Back

by Ron Olsen

It's so much easier to run with the herd
Safer too
To never look back

r too far ahead
You might not like what you see

Your own image looking back in disgust

So much easier to smile
A forced façade of joy
Even though your gut aches for the truth
You set it aside
Way too much to try and understand
And run with the herd

Football and brain damage
Sugar as poison
Democracy’s death
Poverty overwhelms America
Climate change is us
Useless wars 
Duped by marketing
Wall Street’s short view
As capitalism fails the many

Never mind
Join the herd
Phones, tablets, tv and laptops take it all away
The pacifier of unending diversion
Sucking on the great technological teat
Stopping to think is far too painful
You might see yourself looking back
Crushed by the admission of personal irresponsibility
By the inadequacy of the masses

E Pluribus Unum
A contradiction in terms
The illegitimate child of lofty thinkers

You are the many
The many are one
All moving in the same direction
Thinking the same simple thoughts

It’s so much easier to run with the herd
Mediocrity loving
Unwilling to listen
Attacking with hatred
Pouring humiliation upon
Any suggestion of enlightenment

A superior attitude is repugnant
To those who refuse to think

Better and easier to smile
To conform
To just keep moving mindlessly ahead
Lest you stop and see yourself looking back
A nexis of unbearable reality
A vision of enlightenment
The real enemy
Or so they want you to believe

Denial and deceit
Acceptance of the many
So much easier
Much more comfortable
Safer too

Rise above commonality and they’ll tear you to pieces

The game is on
Pass me another beer

When all are heroes
Heroes disappear
When all are champions
Champions are none
When all are awarded
Awards are meaningless

With nothing left but us
Running with the herd

Awaiting the inevitable slaughter


by Ron Olsen

God bless hotdish
It kept us alive
But first we’d pray
Our Sunday morning ritual
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

And sour cream
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 


The Mural's Secrets – A Poem Of Hollywood
by Ron Olsen

If you look deeply enough
Far Inside
With courage, daring and flare
Beyond the troubles of everyday life
The issues of mundane care

There you will see
Looking back at you
Dietrich, Monroe and Gable
Issuing the simple demand

“Carry on if you can
Join us if you are able”

Would you act?
Would you act?
Would you dare to join us and act?”

Have you the courage for it?
To bare your soul and act?
Have you the magic to set yourself aside?
Will you join us and seal the pact?”

As soon as they appeared
They drifted away
Fading to black upstage right
Leaving me there
Forlorn and bereft
Confused and alone in the night

And then from the darkness a voice in my ear
So close that it gave me a fright

I’m neither your daughter
Your sister
Or dad
I’m neither your mother, too”

I’m the essence of all
That drives the stage
Brave Ulysses
And William’s brew”

From downstage center
The little tramp appeared
Looking humble in all his might
Warning me time was ticking away

 That my power would soon take flight

Join us if you dare” he taunted me
If you have the courage and peak
Cast the one that you are aside
And become the other you seek”

If you can’t do that
Then go away

 You’ll not join us here on the wall
Just go away and remember the day
When you dreamed of having it all”

© 2015 Ron Olsen - all rights reserved

you are the star

(The "You Are The Star" mural at Hollywood and Wilcox, Hollywood, CA. USA -
painted by Thomas Suriya   photo: flickr)


By Ron Olsen

When people profit
From other'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


by Ron Olsen

Does any of it really matter?
Beyond the moment of now?

It seemed so important at the time
Even immortal

A circle that never stops turning

Protagonist at one end
Antagonist on the other
A story told ten thousand times
Somehow new with each new telling
Never to be forgotten
Leaving onlookers stunned
And silent
Pondering the profound new implications for their lives

Never to be forgotten
Except that it was

Eventually it vanished
And no one remembered
Immortality washed away
By several generations
Of the newest thing
The oh so meaningful
Newest thing

It seemed so important at the time

But as the circle continued to turn
None of the performance held fast
Only the truth of the golden moment
Which was gone as quickly as it had appeared
Until its next appearance

A story told ten thousand times
Somehow new with each new telling

As greatness and nobility continue to exist
Only so long as we remember
Only so long as we have one another
Only so long as we continue to care

Otherwise it dies with us
A phoenix that cannot rise
Without purpose

With no golden moment left
To give us another chance
At now
To care more for one another
Than for the story

And yet

It seemed so important
At the time


Poem For Loretta
by Ron Olsen

A faded photo
From long ago
We never met
And yet I feel

There in your eyes

A photo that knows no time or space

A connection?

I see a woman
A girl
Wise beyond her years
Who has yet
To experience
To suffer

A husband who leaves
A grandson she would never know
Who would never know her
Who would grow into manhood wondering

Is it real or wishful thinking?
The love in your eyes
Or just youthful innocence

Perhaps you were thinking about your pet cat, Rollo
Or maybe the boy next door
Surely not grandchildren
Surely, not that

Perhaps for those who believe
Something transcends time and space
Not just a photo

A connection

Restoring life
And love  
Where none existed


by Ron Olsen

There were three in the room
Two men and a girl
Standing there
Without expression
Looking back at me
Dressed mostly in black

They were dead
That I knew
 They would not talk
Even while I implored

“Talk to me”
I pleaded
One finally did
The older one
Apparently in charge

“Exorcism 101” he said
As he shut the door in my face 


The Glory Of Us

by Ron Olsen


Naked apes

Eating grapes

And pitted dates

From fancy plates

That come in crates

Over the water

With foreign rates

Having complex thinking thoughts
From the seeds that Darwin wrought
Of birds that fly from place to place
With no regard for creation’s face
Or supreme mind
Just lengths of time
And nature’s grind
To help us find
The truth sublime

Scattering seeds
Through birdie scat
Helps preserve us
Dog and cat
It was true then
It holds true now
For humans, turtles, emu and cow

While getting our kicks
Lost in the mix
Is mankind’s fix
Between and betwixt
Our memory withdrawn
Of how to spawn
Out on the lawn
And we’d be gone


                        (photo - Ron Olsen)

For The Many

by Ron Olsen

On the other side of the tracks
Old Glory flew
Filled full by the warm California wind
As I had never seen her before
Not for many years, anyway
Not like that
Defiant and strong
As I stood
Waiting for the Surfliner to arrive

My heart swelled
With both pride and fear

Pride for those who shed their blood
To defend freedom
A way of life
That now stands threatened
By those who put petty self-interest
Greed driven lust for money
Ahead of country

Those who would tear down
What so many worked for
Died for
Argued for
And cried for
For the many
And not the few

It rushed through my head
As I saw our flag
Strong in the wind
As I waited for the train

A reminder of who we are
And what we stand to lose
If some of us are forced to live on one side of the tracks
While the rest are on the other
With no law or common good
To balance our wants and needs
Providing a bridge
To cross over

Only the lust for money
A rigged system
And the power of greed

Simple thoughts
Far too simple, perhaps
For the many
And not the few


Los Angeles 
by Ron Olsen

She sucks you in
With glamour

With whispers of wealth and fame

They answer by the thousands
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


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


Down This Road Before
by Ron Olsen

Hit a poem
Out on the road
Ran it down
Like a prickly toad

Made me think
How screwed we are
Even in this
Fancy car

Climate Change
Cliven Bundy on the range
U.S. Marshals grab your cell
Smash it down like hounds from hell

Drones watch your every move
From movie shows
To late night groove
They follow you
Your cell phone too
Invisible watchdogs
Sniffing you

Collecting your profile
Digital dirt
Dumped on you
To make you hurt 

Overseas they attack the bad
Sometimes missing
Makes it sad
Collateral damage
Must be had
The wedding party
Mom and Dad

The NSA has you on tape
Endless data collection rape
Don’t complain
Be happy man
Or they’ll render you
To the Gitmo can 

All is hopeless anyway
Just live your life from day to day
Those of us who know we’re done
From Maggie’s Farm to 51
We’ve been down this road before
With Bobby D’s insightful lore

He told us what we could expect
We left it sitting
In neglect
People forget
They close the door
Others think it’s new once more
Never happened ever before
Like cheerful toddlers
On the floor

We were gonna change it all
Fix the trouble
Calm the squall
What a laugh
What did we know
The bad survives
The good goes slow

Strong eat weak
Greed eats meek
It stays the same
Defying trouble, time or name

Hit a poem
Out on the road
Ran it down
Like a prickly toad

Made me think
How screwed we are
Even in this
Fancy car


by Ron Olsen

I had no idea
Youth would ever appear so glorious
So grand
So endearing
So unattainable

When you can actually see the end
That spot where the journey eventually runs out
And you know it’s coming
And you cannot slow its approach

When you are no longer immortal
Not of this Earth
And you have no choice
But to turn and face yourself honestly

You never were bulletproof after all
Even though you truly believed you were
Which may have worked even for just a little while

How else could you have survived this long?

I had no idea
Youth would ever appear so glorious
Even in all its confusion, ignorance and naivete
And yet

I would not trade what I am to reclaim a second of it
A minute of going back
Or even one day’s extension of being
Beyond my present

Some things cannot be changed
Some things come for us all
Like a poem in the night
That writes itself
While the poet merely bears witness
Amazed at the words
Wondering where they are from

“We are”
The siren sings
And that must be enough

It is, after all
A miracle


by Ron Olsen

The Ship was rolling
Except that the sailors stood in two rows
To catch you if you fell
As you jumped off the chopper
After hitting the deck
Before you got your sea legs
It didn’t hit us until we were in the mess
And they set the plates of donuts out
That we were in no mood to eat anything
Much less donuts
I pushed the plate toward Steve
He pushed it back
Looking less than settled
We made it back to shore
Without betraying our manhood
Stomachs intact
Stopped for a beer on the way home
"A mood adjuster" he called it
Handing me a Corona
I felt better
With no warning
Bitch slapped in the face by time
We were putting him in the ground
Before his time
Up at Forest Lawn
And Mark said
“I  can’t believe our friend is in that box over there”
I had no reply
What could I say
About death?
It was the same place they buried another friend
With the same name
Two Steves
Within days of one another
It seemed
Although it was actually several years
Time plays games
Hours are days
Days are years
Your friends are gone
They told us it would happen
But you really don't know
Until it does
As the ship keeps rolling
Leaving you there


Sunday Drives
by Ron Olsen

Sunday drives
After church
Out into the country
West of town
Out past the cemetery
My Grandfather drove
To a spot where a special shrub grew in the ditch
A shrub he loved for its properties
Knotty, gnarly colorful wood
He preferred for his canes
Which he made to precision
Highly polished
Pieces of art

I have no idea why
He made the canes
“Walking sticks” he called them
A hobby
Or something more
I’ll never know
I was there to give my parents a Sunday off
I later thought
A few hours away
Some down time
And so I learned about the canes
And the secret spot where the wood grew in the ditch
That only my grandfather knew

Now that it’s over
Years gone by
And nearly all are dead
I wonder if the wood still grows
If someone knows
That it’s there
Waiting to be collected
For the art to go on
Or if it’s finally over
Never to be reclaimed

Gone with the rest of us
Like Sunday drives


The Great Obliviators 
by Ron Olsen 

Stuck in Afghanistan
Without an exit plan
While drones fly
Where no solider should go

All this after
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 he called it
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

With 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 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 

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



The Ride
by Ron Olsen

Leg up and over
Settling in
On a cool June day
The engine’s growl
The voice that I love
An unfailing friend
Taking me away
On a ribbon of road
To the 5 mile bridge
Where we nearly lost it
One night
Years ago

Death passed us by
Continuing on
Collecting souls without us
Looking back with a wink
Smiling as it went
As if to remind us
Of our luck

Turning right on the lake road
Past summer homes
Of weekend occupants
Out from the city
To fish
Or just sit
And stare at the lake
Or maybe build a fire

Oh, to know that feeling
Once again
That security
That connection
With blue sky
Rich black earth
The distant stillness
Of a gathering storm

The wind in my face
Free to go as I would
To the outlet bridge
To pause
And watch the swirling water
Turning like a wheel
Leaving the lake
Pondering the cycle
That keeps us alive

Not far away
Like our mother
Nordland Church sits
The circle of community
Life in the Spring
Death in the Fall

Compelled to move on
Wheels turn
Driven forward
Over hills covered in green
Carved by glaciers
No longer seen
Where I could now go

And free

Without limits
Or lines
Bound only by time
And self
Wishing the ride
Would never end

Wishing the ride
Would never end


The Dinner
(A salute to the White House Correspondents Dinner)
by Ron Olsen

The watchers
And the watched
Nose to nose
Too close for those
Of opposing prose
An unholy alliance
Comfortable unease
In a room filled with
Corporate cheese
For those who should question
Not accept
Under the table a lobbyist crept
Doing something down there
I leave it to you
To decide what it was
To the many and the few
But doing it well
As smiles abound
Notebooks down
For the business of politics
Playing the clown
As the rubber chicken goes round and round

The poor forgotten
They’re having a ball
Yukking it up in the big banquet hall

The truth goes begging
Out in the street
While the corporate media
Meet to eat 

I envy their status
Their paychecks, too
If I were there
I wouldn’t bother
With you


by Ron Olsen

Oh Israel!
The horrors endured
The blood shed
The unspeakable carnage
The unbelievable pain

From Egypt
To Babylon
And Rome
And the camps
Oh God, the camps

You have suffered enough
You have earned your security
Your peace
Your right to be left alone

Don’t speak against Israel
She has already paid far too high a price
For any nation to bear
Over not just decades
But centuries gone
For reasons some all but forgotten

She has already paid far too high a price
And her trials continue
Forbidden from attacking the innocent
Lest she risk becoming that which she most detests
Threatening all that she has gained


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 going to be
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
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

What 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


by Ron Olsen

Of all the people in all the world

How many dare call themselves poets?

Skating a river of ice

Faith alone preventing them from breaking through

Taken to a place most don't go
Saying more with less
Daring critics to deny their voice
In a world that begs for imagination

Answering a mythic call
Dancing to a tune only they can hear
A process repeats
An irresistible draw

For the poet
There is no alternative
But to create
To hope that someone listens

As the poem appears
From nothing
A wellspring
Of its own desire


The Last Steamer
by Ron Olsen

He was little more than a babe
Just out of diapers
When the last steamer arrived
Rolling up the tracks from the east
The big Soo engine came
A fire breather of fearsome proportion
A mythical beast in his child’s eyes
An unholy wail signaling its approach
Rolling slowly to a stop
A bell pealing a plaintive call
As if to say you could safely approach
Without being consumed
By the sheer power of the beast
Absolute truth that monsters are real
But suddenly feeling harmless to the child
At full stop
The drivers towering over his head
His eyes wide with wonder
At the magnificence of the creation
Barely escaping the steam
As the iron dragon belched its disgust
At the frail humans waiting there on the platform
To revel in its glory
Its magnificence
One last time
In the burning mid-day sun
The same blinding light
That inspired generations before
Cultures with and without nature
That finally brought us to this
The last monster spitting out its anger
Before relieving itself with a giant hiss
And leaving along a river of steel
Past the water tower
The granary
The milk products plant
The old Skelly gas station
Past the druggist’s house
At the end of town
Into the endless ocean of prairie grass
Bound for points west
Where the old trains go to rest
The world no longer a worthy place
For a creature of such fearsome character and power
Once a friend to man and child alike
A friendly demon that sometimes came in the night
It’s call signaling a millennium shift
From the fields
To the concrete and steel of factories
And assembly lines
And a new age
Now over
Appearing this one last time
In the mid-day sun
Before vanishing forever
Behind a veil of progress
Relegated finally to the dreams of men and boys
Who were there
And remember the creature for what it was
And despair in its loss
With nothing left
But a flattened penny on the track
And the earliest memories of a child  

© 2015  Ron Olsen – all rights reserved