I used to think that folks are no damn good,
I thought that they at best are pretty bad.
But in my dotage I have come to think they would
Be better if they could be. Now I’m glad
To say i think most aren’t as bad as I had thought. To
Tell the truth, most act the way they ought to.
Most, to say the least, have hearts of gold.
When they do bad they feel real bad about it.
Does it do them any good to scold
Them for the sins that Satan makes them do? I doubt it.
Most folks say they’ve got the say so what to do;
But some say they’re more free to choose what not to do.
The guide they come with isn’t very clear.
It says one thing’s okay but not another,
In another place another seer
Says don’t do the one thing but the other.
Some stuff that the manual says, despite
The fact it says they can, just don’t seem right
So they don’t do it, and do some it says is wrong.
Why it’s not clear is it was written in
A foreign tongue at first, and was so long
Ago. Just think how different they thought way back then.
Today folks still are trying to translate it
To sound more like ‘now,’ to as it were update it.
They have left good things amongst the dross.
They’ve scattered lots of pyramids around.
It seems that anyone can come across
One anywhere, and not all have been found
As yet. A lot are bigger than there was a call for
But they’re still not big enough for all. For
There are always folks who get their hands
On more than their fair share of cargo; they
Get to control most lands and make the plans.
Free enterprise is said to say: You pay
More than the going rate, it goes for gin.
Their chaps will still go hungry and the men
Will still abuse their wives. The haves can build,
By keeping more, more buildings filled with books.
The mass of men, it seems, have always kneeled
Before the right of kings. Perhaps one looks
Ahead to when he will be one of them--
To when more of the cargo comes to him.
I sometimes ponder why folks fight so much.
Could it just be ‘the dailiness of life’
They fight against? Just to endure things such
As they no longer get a chance to. Strife
Is in their genes. It’s been there since the start,
Along with superstition and their art.
Life is a game, with rules to make it harder.
Hark back to when it was not a game
But live or die, when by one being smarter
Than your average bear a man became
A player, made it home and made more kin.
A cave was home, a tapestry of tiger skin
Hung on the wall, a bearskin bed, a fire
To cook on, brew some tea, to warm his toes,
Scare dinosaurs away. What more could he desire?
Meat stuck on a spit, the fire glows
Against the dark. He tells how he had played
With death and won the match, was unafraid.
A pretty rock to dangle from an ear,
A lump of colored clay to say what they
Saw in the darkness and beyond--some deer,
A bison, bear, an aurochs, done the way
It would be done today if someone could.
But no one knows how to today as good,
To think and put a mirror to the thought,
Transfigure and convey within the work,
To conjure beasties from the image wrought
Upon the inner eye that peer out from the murk,
Lit by a flare that floats upon a bowl
Of fat, that they had been, were in control.
They could have been out in the open stalking
Dinosaurs or fishing from the lake
Or dancing, singing, making babies, talking
Of the many other ways to make
A living, happily agreeing their
Way was the best. [Who said, ‘Life isn’t fair?’]
Today their way of life is not as easy
As before. It’s something of a bore
Compared to then. A Wal-Mart’s not as breezy
As the steppe they knew in days of yore,
But it’s the best place they can find to stalk
A beer, to roam the aisles and shelves, to walk
For miles before they find their prey, surprise
A six pack, capture it without a scratch,
Stuff it in plastic to suppress its cries,
Then swipe a card at ‘Ten or Less.’ The catch
Is theirs and they can take it to their truck
And make a run for it, pray don’t get stuck
Amongst the herds of immigrating cattle,
Trekking all at once to better grazing.
Let the rush hour catch you, it’s a battle
To get through it. Finally free, he’s raising
Someone on his cell to put some beans on, more
Than they can eat, and barbecue a boar
On that new propane cooker signed by George.
They savor smoke and stinging eyes, the chill,
The ants, the gnats, the flies, the chance to gorge
On ’burgers seasoned with a little grit. The thrill
Of really roughing it and sloshing it
All down with longneck beer. Before they quit
They eat and drink too much against the chance
They may run out before the next big kill
Of loaves and fishes from Winn-Dixie, dance
To Elton John, the Beatles, Barry Manilow, and Will-
ie. They would be the last to say they’re bright,
Are rare or special, and they would be right.
They’re average, more or less the same as six
Or seven billion more. They’re merely players
On a stage of blue green marble. Clicks
Can find them all they want to know. Conveyors
They call culture, custom, making copies,
Gets them where they want to go. Like floppies,
Some go obsolete or get worn out,
Used up, or left behind; the bits and bytes just scatter.
I said at the start that folks are bad, no doubt
About it, and they couldn’t get much badder.
But I’ve come to feel that most folks feel
They ought to do what’s right, so if they kill
They feel they ought to feel it is. What they’ve
Decided is that if it’s to enforce the laws
Or if it’s for your country or to save
somebody, [you especially], or because
A judge and jury said so, go ahead. [Some say
That being dead is better anyway.]
But most folks, though they know they can’t be sure
They’re in the right, keep right on showing up
Most days. They don’t prevail but they endure.
What’s more, I cannot see them throwing up
Their hands and letting global warming wipe
Them out; in my opinion they’re just not the type.
I think they’ll do whatever it requires,
Reclaim Iraq and make it as it was before
They burned the forests for their cooking fires
And growing corn, plant trees enough and more
To save the ice. They’ll turn to Ra again,
Collect enough to run the earth and plan
A trip to Mars and back with part of what’s
Left over. They’ve got problems, that’s a fact.
If they asked me I’d say have fewer tots
Till things are back in balance, not so packed.
And wait till all the haves and nots are dead,
Then people Earth with perfect robots in their stead.