The Devil and the Koch Brothers
The Brothers drank the wine and dreamed
A dream of empires rich and vast.
And with their dinner guest they schemed
And gave a toast to oil and gas.
“The meal’s on me.” the Devil said.
“I’ll see you boys in the ‘by and by’.”
And there was scarcely a moment’s dread
Or thought of the camel and the needle’s eye
On the writing of this poem:
I composed this piece in 2011. At that time the Koch Brothers were still pretty much flying under the radar.
I was puzzled as to what motivated them. How much more does one need? I would think that with age a person
would grow more tolerant and philosophical. After all you can’t take it with you. David and Charles Koch, however, seem to have carried their craving
for power and riches well into their final years. The Faustian scenario popped into my head.
I decided to write it as a rhyming ballad, using the quick rhythm of say… Coleridge’s ‘Kublai Khan’. The conversation is all on the Devil’s
part (the silver tongued gent). I enjoyed closing it out with a biblical reference.
On the artwork:
Michael and I have collaborated on a number of pieces. His visual illustration is always original and provocative.
I am particularly knocked out by the art here. With just a few suggestions – among them that I wanted the Devil to be attractive and
human- he took the ball and ran with it. The idea of the Kochs having hand puppet bodies is marvelous . Michael’s wife, Patsy Faragher (my sister)
provided the inspiration for the scorpion-tailed cornucopia and also shot the photo. I am proud to say this project has been a family affair.
May there be many more in the future.
Love and Harmony,
out of breath and behind the beat,
pushing hard to make my way,
like a dancer looking at his feet
I often stumble through the day.
so unlike that ‘parallel me’ who
completes each task with style and verve,
and coolly knocks it out of the park
when life throws him a wicked curve.
but sometimes when I’m flat on my face,
feeling as though I can’t get through it,
the other guy turns to wave me on, saying
‘hey, man! c’mon, you can do it!’
think I’ll stay put awhile
let my thoughts swirl
and meander where they will
I can hear the drumming
of tiny feet as squirrels
chase across the roof
today begins my
(funny how the number
still evokes an
am I really that old?
a number is a
number is a
number. just an
an artificial notch
on the wall
through my second floor window
the sky hangs clear and blue
above the gabled rooftops
but peace is abruptly broken –
a crow flying from tree to
wire displaces and troubles
a pair of mourning doves.
his victory caw ricochtets
through the neighborhood
I laugh out loud
easy to forget
how good it feels
just to be alive
an urge compels me
to mark this moment.
to transform the
nonverbal into words
to turn water into wine
I close my eyes
let the bucket
inspiration is a
touchy process. it
resists a needy mind
one must be coy,
feign indifference but be
ever at the ready…
ah, the payoff
suddenly, words begin
to flutter by like
butterflies on the wing
most of them will vanish down
the hole where my forgotten
but I will manage to
snatch a few
out of chaos
an image takes shape.
like a torch lit pictograph
on a cavern wall
a poem begins to emerge
I must run down stairs
write it down
May 15, 2016
Photos by Charlotte Olivea McClain
My little brother has no fear
Watch him swim way beyond the pier
Come back now. What would Mamma say?
Oh, what a view!
Don’t it take your breath away?
With nothin’ to do
Messin’ ’round on a summer day
On a blanket soakin’ up the sun
Drippin’ wet, havin’ fun
Watching the people passing by
Hear the music from the candy shack
The Coasters callin’ ‘Yakety Yak
Hey, pour some ketchup on those fries
Oh, what a view!
Don’t it take your breath away?
With nothin’ to do
Havin’ fun on a summer day
Sneakin’ glances at the older girls
An wishing I was in their world
And my every word was really cool
Hear them laughin’ with the boys they meet
They look so fine they smell so sweet
But for now I’ll stay a dreamin’ fool
About the writing of Pacific Blue
The song captures the memory of a summer day in 1958 when my brother, Jimmy, and I walked from our home in Long Beach to the Belmont Shore Pier to spend the day at the beach. Although we went to the beach many times, this particular visit became imprinted in my mind. All my senses were heightened by the smell of the sea, the coolness of the water, the sound of rock and roll (Yes, Yakety Yak was playing), the aroma of french fries, and by the gorgeous Pacific extending its blue surface to the horizon. It also conjures up the dawn of sexual awakening in my preadolescence. I yearned to be around the shapely ‘older girls;, but was cool with staying put in boyhood for the time being.
Musically, it channels the West Coast harmony sound that we were a part of in the sixties (the Peppermint Trolley Company, Bones, the Faragher Brothers), but also melodically a bit of Sam Cooke and Sarah Vaughn. It features a jazzy chromatic harmonica solo in the bridge.
Love and Harmony
Photo by Jeanne Harriott
they call them the ‘wee’ hours,
but when enveloped in their dark cover
one breathes the severed solitude of the ‘I’
the bed creaks under my rustle and turn
a dog barks in the neighborhood,
sharp spears of sound pierce the night.
do keen ears detect an intruder?
perhaps he fears invisibility,
dreads disappearing into the inky gloom
and is announcing to the universe
a confirmation of his existence –
‘I bark therefore I am’
I fight the urge to open the window
stick out my head and
join my canine friend in primal cry
– See more at: http://www.dannyfaragher.com/category/poetry/coping-poetry/#sthash.5Da20uY0.dpuf
though my gaze is fixed on the road
and our eyes have never met
her figure looms in my periphery
between us there is an awkward silence
how does one break the ice?
can’t chat about the weather with death
(man, talk about an elephant in the room)
the white lines are racing by
but with my companion
there is no closure
no shedding of light
out of nowhere
she purses her lips
and whistles a
haunting tune – the
turning red and gold,
keeps solemn watch
in the chill October air
the last vestiges of daylight
begin their retreat from the
rolling field below
the agitated sky
swirls and tumbles in a
boiling mix of blue and gray
a row of cannons,
perched on the high ground,
is melting into the dark.
the bronze barrels that once
belched point-blank horror
into a sea of humanity
are now mute
cold to the touch
beneath a green turf
the ground slumbers
but it is the sleep
of the traumatized
the fitful sleep
of the wounded
I tread softly
on a hot summer day
a century and a half ago
this was the most violent
spot on the planet
under clouds of acrid smoke
young men in itchy wool
clutched their weapons
and marched into this
valley of death
in the opening act of a
the wound still festers
the divide still stands
the promise of a
‘new birth of freedom’
still a work in progress
I see figures in the distance
beyond the edge of grass
standing in the knee-high straw
an African-American bride and
groom are exchanging vows
she in white dress
he in black tux
the pastor pauses,
closes his book
and looks up
to nod and smile
the man and woman turn
to face one another
and falling into
each other’s arms