The Revolution Will Not Be On Election Day

Candidates in throes

of news cycle storylines,

designed for ratings.

Electorate fooled,

thinking their vote really counts

when they’ve all been bought.

Sold down the river

of money in politics,

benefiting few.

This or that party,

there’s really no difference.

They lust for power–

power for profit;

but it’s not for the people,

who have real power.

Rise up and revolt?

When apathy is the norm,

no revolution.

One person, one vote,

but it has to mean something.

Does it, any more?

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Be Proud You’re a Rebel

For my activist friends fighting the good fight who are beginning to see the fruits of their labors, and inspired in part by a powerful night of poetry at the local Mind Gravy open mike here in Columbia, SC hosted by Sheem One and Al Black, comes this bit of southern rock appropriation:

Be Proud You’re a Rebel

(with no apologies to Charlie Daniels)

Be proud you’re a rebel

A rebel who defies stereotypes about the South

A rebel who treats others the way you want to be treated

A rebel who practices love, not hate

The world needs more rebels like that.

Get up, stand up, and be counted for truth, not lies

Counter misinformation and delusion with facts and reality

Be color blind, hatred deaf, and unafraid to speak out.

Walk down the street and reach out a hand,

speak to the man whose only conversation is with himself.

Go to a house of prayer and pray with whoever is there

without bringing up religion, or denomination, or the wrath of God.

“Rebel” is a verb or a noun depending on how you say it

so go do it AND be it, to the fullest extent of the word.

Don’t let anyone turn OUR history into a page full of words

without context that tell only THEIR part of the story.

Be proud, mama, be proud;

get loud, children, get loud.

Be proud you’re a rebel

’cause the south’s NOT gonna do it again.

By The Time I Get To ‘Avett’

Inspired by a YouTube search for Avett Brothers videos, as well as an interaction with my teenage daughter and Avetts fan herself, I posted this on a fan page today but thought it worth sharing here as well. It works as poetry, but it can also be sung to the tune of Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”

By The Time I Get To ‘Avett

By the time I get to Avett she’ll be singing
“I and Love and You” coming through the door
She’ll laugh when “Kick Drum Heart” plays and say even
she knows I’ve played that so many times before.

By the time I get to “Laundry Room” she’ll be dancing
she’ll probably stop and tell me ‘play them all’
But I’ll just keep on searching for them singing
“Murder In the City”, or “The Fall.”

By the time I get to “Tin Man” she’ll be weeping
she’ll turn softly and request “Souls Like the Wheels”
And she’ll cry and gently sing along with
“Backwards With Time”, and “I’m Nothing Short of Thankful”
but she doesn’t know “I Love You Still.”

– Kevin Oliver

Having a Great Day in South Carolina

(as of this writing, Gov. Haley of South Carolina has declined to have the state’s poet laureate read a new poem at her upcoming inauguration; thinking perhaps it wasn’t appropriate in tone I endeavored to come up with a suitable replacement ode, which I’ve included below.)

Hello, we’re having a great day in South Carolina;
Unemployment claims are down, gas is cheap,
job growth is up and business is booming.

Schools are crumbling
Roads are crumbling

Charleston is a top tourist town;
Myrtle Beach another top draw.
Do you think we could claim Augusta National?

Homelessness continues to be a problem
For our politicians and also our homeless.

Boeing and BMW, Google and Amazon.
Home Depot, Blue Cross & Blue Shield.
This many corporations can’t be wrong.

Good ol’ boys getting caught in legal dilemmas
James Metts, Danny Frazier, and Bobby Harrell.

We love our Gamecocks, and the Tigers too.
Welcome back Marcus, so long Mike,
Thank God for women’s basketball.

Goodbye, because not enough of us
are having a great day in South Carolina.

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I Believe (In Rock ‘n’ Roll)

I believe I’ll have another, and another, and one more

Until I lay here staring at you from a sticky floor

of a bar I shouldn’t frequent at my age without my wife

it’s the story of my evening, the story of my life.

What’s the worst thing that could happen off carousing on my own

I’m halfway sort of famous, what if my cover’s blown?

Will I have to sit and listen to another tell their tale

of how they’d surely make it when all they’ve ever done is fail?

I’m just in it for the music and that’s how it’s always been

When the band is tight and the tunes are right there’s a momentary zen

a spiritual thing that’s not religious or dogmatic

but an emotional knife that cuts right through the static

Of a daily life that’s not that special just like anyone’s

only with feedback, and distortion pedals, and drums

Rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay sang the Juniors at the hop

Don’t know about forever but here’s hoping it won’t stop

For me, or for you, or anyone who has a stake

in music, in life, in whatever difference it can make.

Friday Night, Lights Out

Friday night, lights out at home

because everyone’s at the football game

where the lights are brighter than a thousand living rooms

Like a pagan ritual the crowds chant in unison

for gladiators in the arena

placing their hopes and desires on shoulders of untrustworthy, fickle giants

subject to the whims of fate,

the angles of trajectory,

the variations in the weather.

The real action’s not on the field anyway,

it’s in the stands, the bleachers, the lines at the restrooms.

dress up, dress down, either way you’re getting judged by your peers

and found lacking, or deemed desirable.

The same groups that sit together at lunch are bunched up

under the stands, hanging out by the concession stand

or broken up and forced to stay with their parents,

who cheer louder than the students for a school they left twenty years ago.

It’s a community, not just for a few hours surrounding a football game

but the days and weeks surrounding the season

when you run into the coach at the gas station and smile

but only if it has been a winning season.


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Story Song

Watching a televised version of the film “Memorial Day” tonight, I was struck by the stories that one can tell and how those retellings affect those who hear them. Not ‘about’ the movie but ‘inspired by’ is the following new poem:


Story Song


This is my story, my song

It cannot be yours but you can listen

I will tell it in my own way, slowly, reverently.

My grandchildren will drag it out of me

Curious but not realizing what they’ll get are

Not tall tales if they’re true, told honestly,

Recounting a lifetime.


This is my song, my story

A beautiful melody to me and my own

Might sound to you a cacophany, a jumble of sound.

Discord comes before sweet and satisfying resolution

Conflicted lines meeting in harmony once more.

Words make sense if you know them

As the refrain to a lifetime.

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It’s a Pinball Life

It’s a Pinball Life


Pinball is proof that gravity works.

The inexorable inevitability of inertia

in the form of a child’s game.

That small metal ball rolling down the slightly sloped table

past holes, targets, lights, ramps, and bumpers;

an obstacle course that only delays the outcome

but never stops it completely.


Bells and whistles abound to distract the player

and let them know they have scored a bonus, or extra ball.

Concentration on the ball is paramount over all other concerns

if one is to get the most credits out of their quarters.

With flippers the only thing standing between a high score and oblivion

the pressure is on to perform at the highest level

especially if you’re in an arcade and there is an audience.


Anyone can play, few can master the game

like Tommy the pinball wizard it takes dedication and something more–

that special talent for seeing the whole picture while knowing

where the ball is at all times.

Multi-ball bonus time is a juggler’s paradise, silver orbs caroming

off one another as the score increases exponentially.

Keeping as many in play as possible drives the total but exhausts the player


Until the last ball drops; game over.


– Kevin Oliver

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Haiku Tuesday, Spring Edition

Inspired today by the lazy feeling of this cool, clear morning and the now fully emerged blossoms on the batch of yucca plants in our front yard (six of them sprouted flowering shoots this year!) comes this week’s Haiku Tuesday entry:


Blooms emerge to greet,

on a cool, crisp spring morning

while we lay sleeping.

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Last Stop

Last Stop

Garage sale finds on a cool Saturday in May.


Candlesticks with half-melted candles still in them, a toaster that “Works”.

Scratched up copy of a Men at Work album, Christmas coasters.

A slightly used circular saw, a pile of size 29 men’s pants.

Coffee mugs with a logo from a company nobody works for any more.


Detritus of a life, cast off and discarded but making One last attempt to be useful and wanted.

A seldom used exercise machine “As Seen on TV”,

Placemats, a frying pan, VHS copies of “The Natural” and “Rudy.”

Floppy discs in a copy paper box with handwritten labels.

A wedding dress, $100 firm. Paperback books, 25 cents.


This is their last stop before the thrift shop.


– Kevin Oliver