Better off Red? Radical Poems, Doug Stuber, 2000-2011

Better off Red?

Getting caught with your pants down in some neighbor’s bed
is better than when the papers accuse you of being red.
Capitalists cast a spell, and communism was dead,
the world’s factory workers are now so ill-fed
that the twelve rich guys left have got a big head.
No need to protest, watch TV instead,
or play the last version of Tennessee Jed
while dancing, or tripping, in your brand new Keds.
See how easily credit card consumers are led?
But no money left to bury Uncle Ned!
Best burn the pictures you took of young girls, you “ped.”
It’s still the good life compared to being “red.”
Better not listen to what I just said
or anything broadcast by the thinkers at
So divorce your thinking before you get wed
to the notion that the world would be better of red.


Zen Dye, Sendai, Send Die

Throat swells, gums bleed, lymphs bulge on and off in this

post-nuclear tsunami Asian spring with its radio-rain and

sadness because years of stress already determined most people’s

cause of death, but now it’s a relative surety that cancer rates

will fly five years hence.  Sixteen students sweat a mid-term,

young enough to never have imagined life-shortening storm,

still sure the orgasmic joy of youth will last forever, or at least

looking forward to blissful mating, large alcohol, unflinching

prosperity and a good job awaiting stellar grade point average

in a system where a B+ is a slap in the face.  Stress exudes

and clogs up the aisles with a goo so sticky it’s hard to collect

the exams.  So Bright smiles, scores well, heads to a mid-term

a scant 10-minutes removed but ever so cheerful, even if she

is truly so embarrassed about leaving her pencil case behind.

Living proof that life goes merrily along amid the worst type

of disasters: corporate (Tepco shouldn’t have allowed tons

of radioactivity to spread into the Pacific), financial (banks

got trillions, sold homes at 70% off, foreclosed 9000 per day,

then asked for more bailouts), governmental (fascism at every

turn), environmental (look at it all, and still we drive our cars).

                                                                      April 2011


Christmas 2006 (7?, 8?, 9?…)

(All Together now, in Chipmunk-esque squeals, just like Alvin and the Chipmunks have sung it since the 60s)


Christmas comes but once a year,

soldiers bloodied, Mother’s tears,

bombs exploding in the air,

it’s Christmas everywhere! 

Barons sipping booze or tea,

greed leads to frivolity,

one man’s toil is another-kids toy,

it’s Christmas in Hanoi.

Farm girls walk to city lights,

paddies shimmer by moonlight,

no one left to grow rice high,

it’s Christmas in Shanghai.

Now she sits at sewing machines,

making clothes for Wal-Mart Queens

she takes home a buck a day,

it’s Christmas in Bombay.

One hundred forty hour weeks,

raped and left no food to eat,

import maids, Sri Lanka’s poor,

it’s Christmas Singapore.

Catholic Mass in Spanish here,

Argentina has great fear

The IMF has had their say

Now who is going to pay?

Now the Dems have won their seats

still no nerve to scream “impeach,”

It seems they’re also on the take,

Which SUCKS for goodness sake!

Bush is set on World War three

claims tax cuts will set us free

Look, a tear in Laura’s eye

The Whitehouse is a sty.

Habeas Corpus is now gone

Now King George can have his fun

The law was passed here just in time

To root-out left-wing slime.

Osama thumbs his princely nose

Knowing Dad is Bush’s Bro,

The oil secured keeps China at bay

It’s Christmas all the way.

So go out and shop some more

Buy something from every store

The fascist status quo gains power

with every shopping hour.

Christmas comes but once a year,

Bloodied soldiers, Mother’s tears,

bombs exploding in the air

it’s Christmas everywhere!

Bombs exploding in the air

It’s Christmas everywhere!


Genocide, Slavery, Greed


We cry for the slavery that led to such wealth,

This is not just the land of the free.

We witness genocide all over this earth,

What can we do to end greed?

We cry for the land full of modified crops

We must work to save human life.

What will our grandchildren have to live through

Since our appetite causes such strife?

The oil wars that started a decade ago

Have moved toward theCaspian Sea.

We are the dissidents, loud, without fear,

Even if we are cut at the knees.

We cry for the news they keep off TV,

The grapevine could snap any day.

Disinformation is the age we live in

So who’s going to show us the way?

The answer is simple, we grow as a team,

A new brotherhood in the light.

We must build the village, invite all your friends

This is no time to give up the fight!

They have all the bombs, the juntas abound,

Monsanto is spraying the poor.

We must dig our hands into arable land

Or genetics will foul every spore.

Profit mongers have sucked the earth dry,

We must reclaim all that we can.

IndustrialChina, the last frontier,

Soon money will own every man.

The kids on the streets are locked-down together,

Push a bike and you could get ten years!

All this is forced because we stopped caring,

Yet some offer blood, sweat and tears.

We couldn’t stop bosses from shipping our jobs,

The replacement is for-profit jails.

Our schools are rotting, so teach if you can,

Where it counts, not Harvard or Yale.

The time is upon us, united as friends

We can make anything grow.

Come join the party, sing and dance all the day,

But tomorrow we get out the vote.

We cry for the genocide, slavery, greed

That persists after thousands of years.

It’s late, but there’s time if we really work hard

We can stop the torrent of tears.              

                                            2002  Doug Stuber


Corporate Suckered Us


Back when there was time, when one parent

Was always there to guide a child, schools were

Not blamed for bad behavior, partly because there

Was so much less of it.  One job per house meant

Security, health insurance, a nest egg, and plenty for

Suzie to go to college on.  Forget the bridge club now

Dearie, everybody works.  Corporate has found a way

To thrive in the post-liberation era:  reduce middle class

Pay to the point of nudging, nay forcing the Moms to work.

It’s not about reduced free time, it’s about no time left to

Even get to know our own children. Since profit is king,

The new world order is thus: No assistance if the Dad lives

With his child, No benefits to any temporary workers, No

Labor jobs that pay a living wage north of the Maquiladoras,

No wins for unions since 1980, No affordable day care

For working Moms, No federal money for states with less

Than seventy five percent of the welfare recipients working,

No job training money left after building bombs, No incentives

For employers to pay better, No company loyalty, No profit

Sharing plans, No safe pensions, No guaranteed retirement,

No Social Security, No public transportation in many

Towns, No decent schools for low-income neighborhoods,

No safeguards for the food we eat, No plan in place to

Save the environment, No cash to save the mental hospitals,

No handouts to the homeless veterans, and No jobs at all

For those who work with their hands. None, zero, zilch, zip!


Bombs Away!


A plane that veered off over Cleveland

Still had a one-hour flight,

Before smashing into the building

That has caused the world so much fright.

The air force stood still at Andrews

It is clear they had plenty of time.

The plane hit a segment near-vacant.

Can you solve this riddle in rhyme?

Unocal wanted a pipeline

To run from the Caspian Sea.

Their man is our new Afghan envoy,

We call this diplomacy.

We’ve scrambled jets to bomb the line

Who cares about collateral death?

Our heinous command favors profits

No matter on whom we tread.

Our bombs have cleared the bedrock,

Soon oil will flow through the land.

Our soldiers will stay to protect it,

New sticker:  “Free Afghanistan.”

But this place is not like Tibet,

It’s not China that we have to sway.

This time the task is much harder

We must teach ourselves to obey.

Already we’ve gone from a surplus

To $200 Billion in debt.

But somehow this stooge asks for tax cuts,

Increased defense is a sure bet.

What’s wrong with mass transportation?

Or small cars:  NO MORE SUVs!?

Oh yeah, that might hurt the profits

Of Exxon, Mobil, BP!

Before the planes hit the buildings

The pilots caroused the Las Vegas Strip.

Does this seem like holy Muslims,

Or agents out to get their last kicks?

You may say I’m some type of cynic,

But our track record is clear.

If you stand in the way of our oil-men

There will be plenty to fear.

Uganda, Iraq, and Afghanistan

Know how deadly this game can be.

Economies crumble below us,

Soon, we will fight to be free.

History holds many lessons,

Those in power fall from their greed.

We are not very good Christians:

We always take more than we need.

The rich get their education,

The rest of us learn for ourselves,

That for-profit domination

Soon leads to a permanent hell.


We’ve Said Our Peace


We’re mollified and marginalized,

Held without Habeas Corpus,

Travelling the highways that remain

After being told we cannot fly.


You are not surprised, since Orwell

Warned us, that the opiating effect

Of Television has left us numb,

That economic struggles take precedence.


A very good friend asked me to censor

Myself for the good of a project.

That project is over, but I wonder

If I should ramble on.  Are any of us free?

Bright blossoms stretch under

Loblolly pines as we

Dash from ice to 80 degrees

In war-torn North Carolina. 

Larry lost his son.  A career

Mailroom worker over at the I.O.G.*

What can Larry tell his friends and family?

How can we make him feel better?

Should we tell him how important

This war is?   When we hug him will

He feel our rage and confusion, or can

We mask it long enough to comfort him?

Are there enough folks out there who

No longer take it for granted that

Life as we Americans know it will

Go on like this forever?

Youngsters strut in warm sunshine,

Smiling between classes; hungry

For a life that their mothers’ created,

That their fathers’ fought for:


An American life, full of pace,

Full of struggle, catching just enough

From friendships to keep reality at bay.

We’ve said our peace, but can not

Shut up now.  The grand illusion

Is once again upon us: 2004 version.

Nothing changes willingly.  Here’s a tear

For those who died in one more American war.


*Institute of Government, UNC- Chapel Hill


Hargraves Blues

No obstacles in the physical realm can stop the

Flow of fix or ruin.  One bicyclist, content to move

In limited space, dodges traffic, kicks her stand

And heads in to read.  She gets paid to read, not many do.

No life is long enough to support all the relationships

We build:  kids to cats, Moms to cleaning, teacher-student,

Boss to worker.  One walker strides down Rosemary Street,

Pulls his hat over his ears, holds palms open, seeking change.

No gesture, however insignificant, goes unseen

In a town full of women.  Drivers bounce from one plan

To another, running reds.  Phone calls, calendar notes and

Breakfast fill seconds between lane changes, defying death.

No effort, regardless of intention, can sew a revolution

Without mass appeal.  Two men shrug, walking into shade.

Nothing for them to do but drink and smoke and go to sleep.

The truth is here to see but no one’s looking anymore.

No wind, even from Saskatchewan, can clean us now.

Some loudmouth stumbles in offering to teach, but

None will have it.  A rider, bussing there and back for free,

Takes comfort when a man stands to offer her a seat.

No sandwich, ever so scrumptious, lingers past initial taste.

Sun shines on a bouncing orb.  Four for four, he’s another

Wizard with his hands.  He does not get paid to shoot a ball.

His hand-to-eye skills have no value in this part of the world.


Jesus is a Liberal

Jesus Christ would not be proud

To see religion in this state.  (Virginia that is.)

TV evangelists preach a canon of intolerance.

Jesus never expected people to hate in his name.

Building amusement parks in homage to God

Makes as much sense as waging war for Christ.

A god who attracts such diverse attentions

Is not a nice god or even a holy god.

He must be the god of money, or,

The god of land acquisition, or, perhaps

Even the god of death.  Now that should

Set bells ringing in your bible-belt ears.

The god of death destroys life and love,

The god of death is worshipped in Lynchburg.


Armistice is only Words Away

Red and yellow leaves smash above remaining green

On brittle trees stressed by drought.

The fall crop grows together from fear.

War ruins the party here, starving refugees move out.

Warm sun parches grass to dust in Chapel Hill.

Light kills.  News disrupts gentle walks.

Two thousand one claims close lives, no way to hide

The reign death’s image starts with superficial talk.

Peaceful winds entice lovers bent on keeping war at bay.

Rice is blown to bits, extreme starvation, war means war.

The dissidents’ Gulag hut awaits activist Americans,

And “your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore.”  1

Three deer caught in lights that look like monster’s eyes.

Nature, fraught with tarmac, endures another “bombs away.”

Scream , young angst poets.  Wipe the cynical smirk off and scream!

One life to infect your neighborhood.  One chance only:  today.

1- John Prine, 1969.


Fayetteville Mall, September 5, 2002

In the shade across from the Wake County Courthouse

An entire row of folks wait.  They wait anticipating

The crown-stripped Miss North Carolina, and others.

“Mary,” who carries a baseball bat, handcuffs, and

Thirty bracelets, watches as the Capital’s finest walk

The worn out bricks of Fayetteville Street Mall.

The thick stench of racism pollutes beautiful fall air. 

Sympathetic eyes search for compassion as workers

Dismantle metal scaffolding, a job well done. Lily pads

Float, bald-headed briefcase toter huffs and puffs up nine

Stairs.  Sturdy capitalists go by:  easy targets.  Unaware.

A local high princess displays her hair seriously. Orange

Outfits mix with cell phones, coffee and power lunches. 

No rich people come out of the court losers, but many

Weeping wives head back to Person Street frustrated

By a system gone awry.  They too are easy targets.


Canary Row Hoe Ho

There’s a hippy girl in my class who wears Mao’s cap, dates

a long-haired boy and wrote a kick-ass environmental piece.

You’d like to poke through every long-leafed elephant-ear on

campus, stroking nature, this beautiful sub-plot, with hoe, adze,

al or clipper: chopping down in order to raise back up, involved

with earth as is intended.  Some say a new time has come, White

Buffaloand all. Consequences outnumber rewards at a twenty to

one clip, as Mongolians suffer from bad air andChina’s expanding

desert, even though they’ve done their part to live in a preservationist

way.  But global means brutal these days:  global trade = wage slave,

global warming = no food, global war = death for the multitudes,

profit for the stinking rich few.  Love abounds in campus towns,

while “repo-men” reap millions, and songbirds still find seeds around

as legs spread out the leaves.  Our new man is African, and that’s

so fine with me, and babies laugh, and mothers smile, here in the

land of the free.  So what that free means money, instead of love

and food.  When no one has a dime to spare, friendship will lift

our mood.  Or will there be the occasional hijacked truck or plane?

Who cares as long as we can load up the kids, drive south to live

in a genuine, warm, Steinbeck-decorated pipe that used to be a drain.


KFC, Falls of Neuse Rd.,  22 January 2007

When a sub-culture dies, the world gets dragged,

Toes pointed up, and appropriately tagged.

You battle to work your way up the scale

But now it’s three bucks for a pint of ale.

Blue collar means work at the new KFC,

Good jobs, and vacation days moved overseas.

You can play gangster but you know it’s no game,

Or you can throw down to attain fleeting fame.

You can educate your way out of this mess,

But cubicle jobs only go to the blessed.

Blessed to be white in a world full of color,

Blessed not to know what it’s like to live under

The rules meted out and enforced by the law:

So do you tell them what you just saw?

Or are you inclined to let it slide,

While children cower, their Dad’s full of pride,

But most likely part of those already jailed,

The cross is salvation, but who’s next to be nailed?


No Bees, No Honey, No Apples

A wagon wheel of discontent

hangs from the rafters above

a stark white room where people swoon,

but rarely fall in love.

A drenching rain flows past dead grass

on land scorched from global heat.

A Heron chick wades in a pond

no deeper than her feet.

A farmer trims the pond-edge growth,

but gets his tractor stuck in mud.

Neighbors store great gobs of art

that once hit Berlin with a thud.

A liar squawks from a studio box

at W-A-M-U.

Diane responds, in quivering voice,

“How can you say that Stu?!?”

A multitude swarms the streets

many without regret:

economics, home to roost,

in the land of war and debt.

A singer sings, arms hiding breasts,

but otherwise she’s bare.

Selling sex far easier than

selling songs that dare.

A worker trapped by bills and mate

has nothing but beer and TV.

Wagon wheel turns as Iraqis cry out,

heartbroken refugees.


Atlas Shrugged

(BB #6)

Lotus leaves in fountain pools behind the

Metropolitan Art Museum reflect sun rays,

but not in ways Monet would understand.

Cellos ascend to bless the ears of diners

from the donor class, while those lily pads

and lotus landings resonate on levels only

guessed at by geniuses and amateurs alike.

Room after room after room after room after

room stun mere humans with the peak

moments of nearly all the masters: ancient

relics full of universal hum.  Feeling visitors

tear up, once cynical multi-cultural couples

soften in amazement.  The hoity-toity mingle

with Asian tourists in a surreal scene Yves

Tanguey would get a kick out of.  But it’s the

quiet ripples in the pool out back, the tumbling

leaf in the now-safe park, the sad chatter

of the magnet peddler whose addiction isn’t

clear, but whose profit must be small, that fill

sensory memory to capacity.


First Grub, Then Play


Gather, flee

your box, demand an

equal share, decide how to

work to make local

dreams survive.


Convert to

solar, electro-magnetic

energy, skip both

utility bills

and taxes until war ends.



Tsunami, Earthquakes,

Melting Ice, Foul Air, Monster

Hurricanes:  need more?

Stop driving.



cars are fast enough when you

plug them in to self-

generating power thanks to

Bodini via Tesla.



stress immediately quelled

with more time

to play with children,

talk with old/new friends.


Dropping ties

to globalized slavery

means doing

the work together,

for security.


Carolina Wren

This time a solitary wren perches on
power lines that divide purple-blue sky,
slicing rhombi, diamonds, thin rectangles,
pushing geometry into a regular autumn
morning. This makes you wonder how birds
keep their feet warm in countries with no
power, or how people survive on a hundred
bucks a year, or where refugees go when war
hits. Our wren flies, a speck, ever smaller
as she finds her way. Given our superior
brain capacity, how is it we cause misery
across the planet while creatures so small
live, content to take their share peacefully?


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