All Is Well

A teenage boy has never worked a day in his life. He drives a brand new Mercedes to school each day. The parking lot at school is full of shiny new cars, driven by children who have never known a day of hunger and can choose not to work. Ever.

BMW told us if you buy one of their cars, you can end hunger. Really. It was in their commercials. “Drive to end hunger.”

More than half the population of the greatest country on earth is made up of the impoverished, the poor and low-income citizens. The percentage is about the same as Indonesia.

For a hundred dollars and up – way up – you can go to an NFL game, where they dress the coaches and staff in military garb and denigrate anyone who dares to protest injustice.

There are about 645,000 homeless people in America The Beautiful.

Jeff Bezos rakes in one hundred ninety-one thousand dollars per minute. His philanthropy is an affront to altruism and a pittance of his assets worth one hundred sixty-three billion dollars. He’s not alone.

Grocers in the Land of the Free throw away tons of perfectly good meats and vegetables every day. The waste is ten percent of all the food we produce. When I asked them why they didn’t give it to food banks, they said they could be sued. Many of those grocers sit on the boards of directors of food banks.

For $440 per month, you can buy individual health insurance through the ACA. Of the developed nations, the Greatest Country On Earth is one of the few without universal healthcare.

Our military budget for 2019 is 716 billion dollars. That’s more than the entire GDP of 177 of the 195 countries on earth. Bombs and bullets, murder and mayhem drive our economic engine.

We spend those billions of dollars in part by bombing schools, hospitals and mosques, murdering tens of thousands of men, women and children, in hopes there is a terrorist in their midst. Then we bomb the funerals. Don’t be ridiculous. We’re not terrorists.

With our approval and assistance, the Saudis have murdered hundreds of thousands of Yemenis, including the starvation of eighty-five thousand children. We’re focused on the murder of one Saudi journalist.

In 1990, the US ranked sixth in the world in healthcare and education. We’re 27th overall now, and 38th in math. We’re way behind Cuba, if anyone’s counting.

With 2.3 million prisoners, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Wave the flag. We’re number one.

Our prisoner tally boasts of 14,000 unaccompanied immigrant children. Our Department of Health and Human Services says we’re keeping them safe from harm.

We’re obsessed with Russian meddling in our 2016 elections. Like this was their first experiment. We don’t just interfere with elections around the world. We overthrow governments.

We elected a racist, xenophobic, homophobic, narcissistic, incompetent megalomaniac to the office of President of the United States.

That, my fellow Americans, is a small sample of what makes us great.

All is well…all is well. We’re the best there ever was.

 

William Lanford

Outdoor Writer and Photographer, Novelist and Story-teller. Fisherman, Outdoor addict. Official Oldfart. Student of sunsets, campfires and dawns. Companion of dogs. Highly appreciative of fine food and drink. Fond of napping. Comforted by silence.

Cedric van Eenoo

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Cedric van Eenoo

Cedric van Eenoo is an award-winning artist, musician, filmmaker, and scholar. He is a member of Brooklyn Arts Council and affiliated with Manhattan Graphics Center. His art is represented by Tokyo Art Agency, Gallery 104 and World Fine Art Gallery in New York City.

Hans in Haifa

Who would have expected so many Germans?

Still they arrive,

Half a dozen a week,

With their excellent leather shoes

and superb command of English.

All beautiful,

their gold hair shining like a beacon

in the gloom of the dining room.

The old Kibbutzniks have long memories.

The young German volunteers sweep the stables,

scrub the toilets,

collect the garbage,

call the chickens,

and then wring their necks.

They never complain about the filthy work.

Perhaps they are here for such a purpose of penance.

The Israeli men love to fuck the girls.

Greta and Leni don’t mind the knowing winks

and guffaws that follow them,

like buzzing mosquitoes,

in and out of the social hall.

Some can understand Yiddish,

even try to speak it,

horrifying the old women here,

as if they heard something obscene.

I don’t know why these German boys and girls are so happy.

The kibbutz hot and dusty and dry.

The swimming pool empty and baking like a molten crater.

At night the dogs go mad,

kicking up hollering clouds

as they try to rip each other’s throats.

Yet Hans and Dieter sing folks songs by the campfire,

drinking flat Israeli beer,

smoking  cheap unfiltered cigarettes

as they cough up phlegm with relish.

They understand this land,

connect with the scorched fields of burnt grass.

While I,

The Jew,

The New Yorker,

am so lost here,

craving pavement and broken glass.

Sometimes a German never leaves,

and marries an Israeli,

bringing bright blonde children into the nursery hall.

But their jobs never change:

slaughtering the cows,

cleaning the toilets,

boiling fat for the soap factory.

These old Kibbutzniks have long long memories.

 

Penny Jackson

Penny Jackson is an award-winning writer who lives in New York City. Her books include BECOMING THE BUTLERS (Bantam Books) and a short story collection L.A. CHILD and other stories (Untried Reads.) She has won a Pushcart Prize for her short fiction and was a McDowell Colony Fellow. Penny is also a playwright with plays produced in New York, Los Angeles, Edinburgh and Dublin. www.pennybrandtjackson.com