Reward of Combat by Michael Peck

he watched her every morning
start her run
dressed in black
matching the fading night
which creeps slowly west
he watches her return
wiping the sweat from her face
standing at her door
he pictures her showering
her naked body enveloped
by hot water and steam
slowly turns around
as her door shuts
his desire still hot
moving towards the kitchen
in his wheelchair
toward the coffee pot
the only warmth
he can look forward to today


Pandemic by Michael Peck

the sickness spread silently
starting in individuals
then into groups, government, and religion
the altar was cleaned of statues
a mirror set on the Gold leaf table
beautiful people stood before it
women fluffed their hair
men adjusted their ties
that was the genuflection now
wallets were placed upon the scale
donations made by weight
still, they all came on Sundays
to be seen
to smile, shake hands, brag about their businesses
no one seemed to notice
the church and God being transformed
once more by those who made them
and the rules

The Game by Michael Peck

We chose to play the game
struggled to become a piece
on the board
knowing inside it wasn’t a game.
we knew only hunger
we wanted to eat something,
anything to fill our bellies,
feel some respect and dignity
to ease the pain of being empty
we wanted a chance.
we would play the game
that wasn’t a game
we would carry the bag
go where they told us to go.
we would run with the bag
if anyone tried to stop us,
if we dropped the bag
the rules of the game
said we were dead.
maybe the police couldn’t run as fast
as us
maybe if we ran through the streets
they wouldn’t shoot if
there were people in the street.
so we played the game
knowing we were expendable pieces
on the mean streets
of life’s board game
half starved with frightened eyes
trying to look mean or brave
knowing it was for ourselves
because no one else cared about us
we wanted to eat
and knew in our hearts
one day we would be eaten.

American individualism by Michael Peck

American individualism makes itself great again
sandwiched between myth and distortion
scandal flavored tea with spoiled milk
the minds somnolent attitude refuses to wake up.
Sandwiched between myth and distortion
the dreams of men wither
the minds somnolent attitude refuses to wake up
traditions knee-jerk reactions turn into habits.
The dreams of men wither
their potency dissipates without new images
traditions knee-jerk reactions turn into habits
the empire wants just one more piece of the pie.
Their potency dissipates without new images
iPhones and TV simply imitate the known
the empire wants just one more piece of the pie
chaining those in service to toil and die.
iPhones and TV simply imitate the known
repeating sound bites, texts, and recorded laugh lines
chaining those in service to toil and die
while hunger for something real grows unseen.
Repeating soundbites, texts, and recorded laugh lines
the conversation dies in the infertile ground
while hunger for something real grows unseen
history is repeated in impoverished grammar.
The conversation dies in infertile ground
minds ache from the vacuum inside
while hunger for something real grows unseen
American individualism makes itself great again.

Within the Body Politic by Michael Peck

Within the body politic
the infection breeds
first is the discomfort
then comes the enduring pain
until what is brewing inside
erupts on the outside
the source of the pain
forecasting the coming demise
the decimation of the host
and that disease within
Greece, Rome, Spain, France, England,
have all succumbed in the past
to the infectious disease
The head refuses to acknowledge
the foot
the state ignores
the need for world interdependence
the people think
independence is possessions
wealth and power
forgetting where they came from
the ground they stand on
where they will return
the grand compost heap
the steaming raw material
that life will use
to form
its next experiment

The Change by Michael Peck

the fall came suddenly
the screaming of the battle
was gone
open mouths move soundlessly
in disbelief
the battle cries
sunk into the bitter ground
surrounded by destruction
it was hard to believe
any longer
new growth could push
up through the carnage
those who spoke
so eloquently of the new spring
the new spirit covering the land
the crop of hope and freedom
gathered their troops
around them proclaiming
society’s future
would be safe and better
but the rules weren’t any different
just more enforcement
while tolerance
fled the country

most of us just die by Michael Peck

most of us just die
never knowing when
the end will come
not well
not aware
filled with those same
uncertainties we carried throughout our life
doubts and shameful moments
that were never discussed
never saw the light of day
age just crept up on us
as we lived our lives
a repetition of learned habits
that felt comfortable
most of the time
except late at night
when we wondered
out loud to ourselves
if there was more.

Standing Rock Thanksgiving by Michael Peck

Smells of roasting turkey
pervades the air
people lifting glasses of wine

No one here hears
the barking attack dogs
the observation helicopters
the cold spray of the water cannons
people screaming at standing rock
holding their hands over their eyes

We smiled at one another
making small talk
laughing at the family dog
shaking her toy growling

Our ancestors never were invited
to dinner
to build homes on Indian lands
to take property by the streams
to kill all the fur-bearing animals
and send them back to the crown
for profit

Someone hiccups and laughs
followed by another popping can of beer
while waiting for the pie to cool
enough for the ice cream

We are not those who are standing
in freezing weather
soaking wet
being pushed back
by guns and police dogs

We’re celebrating Thanksgiving
maybe unaware
that in part we are celebrating
not being them

The Candidates by Michael Peck

they were magnets
attracting people
who wanted to follow

you can unite people
by their mutual needs and desires
the understanding
we are all the same

or you can unite people
on their baser instincts
and the desire for power

both work
yet one destroys itself
being unsustaining
taking more than it gives

National Nightmare by Michael Peck

the white ones spoke
demanding protection
from new ideas
non white races
different religions

holding rifles white knuckled
above their heads
screaming they wanted the future
to be great like the past
millions who didn’t want to
wake up in the twenty first century

yes they won
white is right
the color of extremism
white the absence of all colors
black all colors together
so separate and unequal
we stand

Warriors’ Lament by Michael Peck

The sun rises
upon their broken dreams
scattered pipes
laying on top of the unearthed graves
young and old being shot for standing on their ground
crushed beneath the boots of progress

Angry faces
pointing guns at
unarmed men, women, children
dreams of paychecks
that have been halted
by someone else’s world
these tribes have lost so many times before
these men think they will lose again

Bodies, dreams old and young
heaped up
like a mound of buffalo skulls
while their ancestor’s white bones
lie beneath the bulldozers treads

Still, they come
standing together beating their drums
like the ghost dancers of long ago
have walked through the portal
of time

Their message renewed
warriors dressed in old blue jeans
armed with the love of their land
shall defeat those who want them dead
their spirits drowning in their own greed
their arms tired
of their rifles needless weigh

The Endless Repetition by Michael Peck

Even the preacher is bored
he reads the pages of the Bible
flipping them one by one
looking up to see
if anyone is listening
he hasn’t for years
neither have they
simply following the script
saying the words
singing the hymns
They have no light
in their eyes
they all come
for different reasons
fear, loss, nowhere else to go
Life goes on
they walk silently
from the churches
stone arched door
eyes not making contact
thinking about dinner
and the empty chairs
around the table
The TV’s distractions
about remaining young
late-night love
which has long been forgotten
while eyes tear
over one lonely plate

True Believers by Michael Peck

flat world believers
of endless growth
ignoring those being pushed
off the edge
their screams and tears
lost beneath the noise of
stock exchange excitement
the sweet sound of profit
our leaders say
we have to
continuously grow
our economy
our power
our influence
if we are to survive and
afford an army
to protect us
Those who do not share
our dreams
destroy them
we can not support
those who
don’t stand with us
everyone must do their share
being willing to sacrifice
but the ones speaking
did not sacrifice
those on the edges
kept being pushed closer
to that final fall
trying to push back
toward the center
where it was safe
the riot police
formed a line
them back
they knew the finale solution
the only room
was over the edge
no one seemed
to question
what would happen
once the police
finally reached the edge

Postcards by Michael Peck

from hell
photos of dead-men
mothers clutching their children
hiding in the dark doorways
fear crawls through their downcast eyes
heavy trucks filled with armed uniformed men
black flags, face masks with hate filled eyes
jeeps rumble through the deserted streets firing their weapons
bloody bodies fill the streets while women and children cry

White Piraña by Michael Peck

take the B away
you have Lack
enough to eat
clean water
police protection
instead of police brutality
black the absorption of
all colors
the sum of immense
slaves to the projected
fears and
unkindness of the
white piraña
the conquering heros
whose bleached skin
and morality
contain only
one color
the blood red stains
around their lips
have never known
never stopped
wanting more

Politics by Michael Peck

don’t let the intensity
consume you
turn your hair salt-and-pepper
carry your light
into the dark dusty spider filled basement
of politics
drive the dark sameness out
don’t let the traditions
solidify into concrete
around your feet
slavery was a
valued tradition
of the past
a standard of civilization
turn on the light
open your heart
the opposition wins
by making you one of them
comfortable in the darkness
weaving your own web
hungry for an opportunity
for your idealism
you traded
for a profession
that has none

The Time has Come by Michael Peck

The time has come
to close the door
behind me
go outside
the campfire
stand by myself
look at the stars
without comment
and make none
it is time for silence
time to let that
which the senses have captured
ferment in their own juices
there is not enough strength to live
to fight anymore
the goal seems to have merged
with the fighting to win it
to win a city
that has been bombed
into complete ruin
is not a victory
it is a responsibility
those displaced
those who lost someone
or everything of value
don’t care
what flag flies
above the shattered buildings
littered with the dead
everything for them
is gone
their homes
their lives
their families
and history lay in tatters
they hide
as armed soldiers
even the silence
of their dead

Greek Oblivion by Michael Peck

There were too many of us
people became bit coin’s
assigned a value
by those who had more
a currency of suffering
relegated to oblivion
inside chainlink feeder lots
sleeping in tents and cardboard boxes
there was no more room for them
unneeded – unwanted
like leaves clogging a rain gutter
something to be cleaned out
gotten rid of
there was not enough
to go around
were in limited supply
those who had enough
kept it for themselves.

Cold Spring by Michael Peck


Spring had arrived
green leaves and the smell of fruit trees blossoms
but the people’s hearts were still frozen.
bitter cold inside, no ice melt there–
the only sign of warmth
was the heat in their angry faces
voices raw from spent emotion
there was no spring in their hearts
only confusion, fear and hate.
They knew innately any loss would be their own,
not those standing behind the microphones
who were surrounded
by armed guards with dark glasses.
Their strident voices
working the crowd with promises
that never would be fulfilled
quickly forgotten beneath
the comforting weight of their crown
Everyone wanted
a new society,
where they shared in the affluence
a new world-
all that was necessary
to have that
was for those other people
who didn’t share our beliefs
to change
then the problem would be solved.

Guarding Herself by Michael Peck

She guards herself
against perceived aggression-
mental wraiths with shimmering swords.
her life filled with battles-
rest finds her only beneath the covers
late at night.
her breath rising and falling slowing
her face softened
her beautiful eyes closed.
peacefully resting
looking inward
at what only she perceives
within her heart.