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January 14, 2016

I wrote this ballad for my friend,   Frank  Hayes,     Marine and  patriot.

Tiny Tina came a-running to her Mommy at the stove,
She said, “Mommy, come and look, there’s a Monster in the grove.”
“Stop it,   Little Tina, and don’t exaggerate,
Go, wash your hands,   then come and get your plate.”
“But Mommy, it’s a Monster,   green and huge and oozy,”
“Tina,   go wash up.   Your stories make me woozy.”

Mommy heard some noises and alarms  began to ring,
Out the kitchen window she saw people scurrying.
People poured from out the streets into the village square,
Fear was on their faces and there was panic in the air.

It was clear to Tina’s Mommy that the din would not abate,
She said to Little Tina that her food would have to wait.
The two joined fearful faces flowing toward the outer   wall,
The   flow became   an eddy when   it   splashed   at   City Hall.

For politicos,   the Monster   was like manna   from on high,
Rushing to the podium,   they would milk the crowd’s   outcry.
On the public  platform,   the mayor was first to speak,
He’d sent for information to help with his critique.

His scout told him the Monster would try to kill them all,
It was  drooling on the grassland as it neared the city wall.
It has raided, robbed, and ravaged,   and drenched the earth in dread,
It destroys   all   law and order,    with terror in its stead.

Shouting over murmurs,   the mayor said, “I’ll do all I can.
I’ll appoint a committee that will recommend a plan.”
A Congressman was next and said, “We must compromise.
To confront the Monster at this time simply is not wise.”

A diplomat came forward,   a spokesman from the past,
“If we say that we’ll surrender,   it might kill us last.”

Professor Kant stepped forward,   from the local U.
“Hold on, everybody!   How do we know what’s true?
The Monster may be in our minds–there’s nothing to resist;
If we refuse to think of it,   it will not exist.”

(Tiny Tina,  hugging Mommy,   said,   “Mommy,  please don’t cry,”
Mommy heard the experts   and knew that she would die.)

A Churchman  raised his arms for calm and said, “We must pray.
Our loving God will care for us and make it go away.
But if not,   remember:   we were born to suffer,
To fight like haughty sinners will only make things tougher.
If we’re humble and submissive and turn the other cheek,
The Creature will be touched to see that we are mild and  meek.”

Kruggly, an economist, advisor to the great,
Admired by philosophers, and by heads of state,
Told them in his speeches what they wished were true:
You can have your costly cake,   and can eat it too.
He spoke as an oracle,  with humor, zest, and zeal,
He said that two plus two makes ten,   that reality isn’t real.

“As for the   Green Invader,”  he told them with a scoff,
“We’ll mortgage everything we own,  and simply pay it off!”
They’d   pay the debt   “Somehow,”  he said,   “Someone”  will atone,
“To Owe”    is just a concept that   they could  postpone.”

The people weren’t persuaded,    they wept and gnashed their teeth,
They felt the evil growing,   out there on the heath.

A  pacifist  eating salad looked up from her plate,
She said,   “If  it’s green as I am,  we can negotiate.
We may lose some freedom–who knows what’s ahead?
Once its power- lust is quenched,  well,  better  green than dead.”

At last a weathered Mariner came upon the scene,
A sudden hush and pundits stopped their babbling routine;
His  face was lined and punished for deeds outside the frame,
And   though he had been battered,   he played nobody’s game.

They knew that he was trouble–what was he about?
The mayor said,   “Let’s keep calm,  we have to think things out.”

The pacifist munched a carrot and said,   “Let’s try to be kind.
Take a white flag to the gate and see what’s on its mind.
Maybe that Hulk has issues,   maybe we’ve been unjust,
We know that we’re not perfect,   let’s try to earn its trust.”

The Mariner interrupted,   in tones both loud   and clear,
The mob cringed at the tirade they didn’t want to hear.
“Power is the Creature’s  lust,   we’ll   have no recourse,
Brainless as all evil is,   it fathoms only force.
You  assholes know what must be done,  no  matter what you choose,
I’m going to kill the Monster now,   there is no time to lose.”

“Wait!”   exclaimed the Congressman,   “Let me call the roll.
To make the right decision,   we have to take a poll.”
“Yes,”   chimed in the Mayor,   “Consensus is the way.
This solitary malcontent will lead us all astray.”

Kruggly added his two cents,   “He’s  vulgar and   uncouth,
Claiming to know right from wrong,    he’ll corrupt our youth!”
“He’s  an enemy of the people,    against the Common Good,”
And the pacifist tossed a tomato over where he stood.

The Mariner ignored the taunts and started toward the gate,
Frowning faces glared at him–was it fear or hate?
The blob of bodies held together like a mucous mass,
They wavered like weeds in wind,  but wouldn’t let him pass.

The Mariner raised his sword and it was gleaming in the sun,
The pacifist dropped her salad  plate and wondered where to run;
“I’m going to kill the Beast,” he shouted.  “Clear the goddam path!”
The mob parted like the Red Sea waters when Moses raised his staff.

He stepped up to the city wall and didn’t vacillate,
He paused and took a breath of air,   and opened up the gate.
Sure enough, a giant heap,   there the Monster loomed,
An ordinary mortal would know that he was doomed.

The Creature’s  eyes were empty,   and could not comprehend,
The courage of a man alone,    who would not bow or bend.
It moved to crush the upstart with its tree-like limb,
But the Mariner swung his lightning sword  like a Cherubim.
The huge Hulk hissed its hatred and gave a fearsome roar,
But the Mariner kept slashing,   and the air was filled with gore.

The wounded  Blob retreated,   its mind now full awake,
To attack a seasoned sea-dog   had been a grave mistake.
It called for arbitration–the Creature had a voice!
“No need for conflagration when we have a choice.”

The Mariner soldiered on,  all through the bloody spray,
Worn and weary as a slave,   still he hacked away.
“Peace!”   the Monster shouted,   “Peace–I am no fool;
Turn your sword to plowshare,   Peace will be the rule.”

“A lesson for you,   Monster,   from the scroll of history,
Peace is not  born of words,   it’s the child of victory.”
This the Mariner’s  bold harangue,   not to yawn or yield,
He  readied  for the final charge on the battlefield.

“Wait, wait,”   the Monster pleaded,    “You have won the day;
You   can reap the honors,   and I will go away.
I’ll   give you   all I’ve looted,  all that I am worth,
Riches give you power,   enough  to rule  the earth.”

The  Mariner answered with his sword and cleaved the Monster’s  head,
He hacked away for hours to make sure that  it  was  dead;
He saw his   fate was in the   fray   wherever it may be:
He long had   grasped  the painful truth that freedom isn’t free.

The townsmen heard the happy news behind their safe stockade,
The town was like a theater,  with actors in charade;
None understood the Mariner,   how the unshackled man behaves,
Without the lust for  liberty,   they lived half-lives of slaves.
Most walked and worked  like puppets,   living in a daze,
Relishing  dependence–freedom   just a craze.

(Mommy returned to her kitchen and set the stove on   “Bake,”
Tiny Tina at the table poured syrup on her pancake.)

The Mariner heard  moaning,   winds   whispered,   “Nevermore,”
Farewell   to   Armageddon,    the war to end all war;
‘Twas   time to ponder over   just what he had done,
To muse on good and evil,   and the victory lately won.

But   the eternal foe lay  waiting,   like a  twisted  spawn,
–Evil stamped on nature   at   Creation’s dawn;
It may rise once more,   he knew,  here on this terrain,
Or another place,   eons hence, on some  far planet’s plain,

Where a lone figure will appear,   as if called on cue,
A   sentinel of the brotherhood,   of the proud and few,
A   warrior with a righteous soul,   though murder if he must,
Who’ll meet the ancient enemy and crush  it into dust.

Will   he be celebrated,   by parade or song  or pen,
Who   gathered up all broken hearts,   and saved   a world again?

Bless the untamed brawler,    who keeps  his honor clean,
Blare the eerie  bagpipe,   clang  the   tower bells,
For the timeless   Mariner,    ever at the scene,
When monsters come,   and there is no one else.

–To Frank Hayes,   Patriot

New Year’s,   2016

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