Lens is a poem I wrote on March 23rd 2012 and published in a limited edition chapbook (30 copies) for free distribution at the NIA Coffeehouse event “Poems of Power, Words of Life against Violence and Brutality” on March 27th at St. Alban Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights. I am grateful to Kathy Smith, Cavana Faithwalker and Steven Smith for putting this special event together and including me.  That day’s good words were accompanied by the lively musical stylings of Vince Robinson and the Jazz Poets, and I am happy Dianne Borsenik captured this video of me sharing the stage with them while debuting “Lens.”



Link to video: http://youtu.be/q5NtkZxBKB4



Lens


by John B. Burroughs, 3/23/2012

[cues in brackets allowed but not meant to be aloud]


Chorus:

[violent] VIOLENCE                         [soft] silence

[stern] Violence                                   [stern] Silence


 


[soft] violence                                     [violent] SILENCE


 



Verse:


Less is more and more is less and silence


is most golden to the rich and oppressive
and would be impressive if not for the give
gone missing from nature’s desired balance

Give and take and
give and take and
give and


            take and


            take and


            take and


            take [make a scratching sound as though roughly removing the needle]


 


The record keeps skipping
time to pull out the needle


 


 


Chorus:

[violent] VIOLENCE                         [soft] silence


 


[soft] violence                                     [violent] SILENCE


 


Stuck in the same groove


 


 


Verse:


 


Sometimes I feel like an acquisition


infected by a controlbot


running as my masters intend
whenever anyone sticks coins into my slot
like I’m programmed


to consume and consume
subsume
take a nap
and resume


consume subsume

Size matters
bigger is better


stronger faster


forget impending disaster
I want to be the sixty million dollar man
when I grow down


 


Can’t wake up
need to drink more coffee

Can’t go to sleep
need to drink more wine

Always hungry
need more mine
all the time in between

Never satisfied
I dine and dine
on more and more swine
prove the proverb true

I am what I eat
maybe you are too



Chorus:

[violent] VIOLENCE                         [soft] silence

[stern] Violence                                   [stern] Silence


 


[soft] violence                                     [violent] SILENCE



Distinction blurs


 


Verse:


 


Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out


 


We human would-be gods


can’t wait to start sorting


the money and land and command


you dead leave behind


but first we need your ass [cough] assistance

Be all that you can be
join
consume


follow
consume
collect
consume


kill
consume


die
consumed


 


Submission accomplished


 


 


Chorus:

[violent] VIOLENCE                         [soft] silence


[soft] violence                                     [violent] SILENCE




Coda:


Contract the compound
distill its essence
sigh, violence
vie, silence
contract it further
vi… ’ce
vi…’se


you can spell it either way


with an S or a C
violence silence
vi… ’ce
vi…’se
vice vise baby
the record keeps skipping
the handle keeps turning

The head I’ve been helping


to squeeze is my own


and my children’s

Time to pull out the needle
stop churning the handle
look in a mirror
for a moment
put my vy-


ing and my sigh-


ing aside
and focus


my lens.



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