The Emperor

You rescued Europe with the Marshall Plan
To end the great war you nuked Japan
You killed Osama Bin Laden - an evil man
Heck, you even took on the Taliban

You gave us Google and Amazon
Also Facebook, that greatest con
And the NBA, an exemplar of brawn
It seemed there was nothing you could not spawn

You helped defeat Al Qaeda and Isis
You led the world out of the financial crisis
You found vaccines for polio and typhus
Because of your work, how safe our life is

You landed on the moon and came back
You invented Xanax and gave us Prozac
You fed the world with fries and the Big Mac
Anything that’s fancy is still a Cadillac

You created the PC and the iPhone
You cooked up the hot dog and the waffle cone
You taught us to fight our wars with a drone
Of human progress you became the touchstone

Now a tiny virus has you in its throes
Like a deer in headlights you appear to have froze
Every day your stock market plumbs new lows
It looks like The Emperor Has No Clothes!

The Gathering

Years from now, in a very special place
Many souls were gathered around a fire
I was there too, a fly on the wall…

The first to speak was a brave little man
His valor seemed to belie his stature
I should never have sent them to Russia, he said
My ambition put my fellow soldiers in harm’s way
I was wrong

Next up was a bespectacled gent
He looked like a Midwestern haberdasher
There were many ways to end the Great War, he said
I chose the very worst and thousands died in Japan
I was wrong

A mustachioed Russian was awaiting his turn
He looked remorseful, as if he had killed someone
I should never have incarcerated them in the Gulags, he said
These great minds would have made my country even greater
I was wrong

Everyone fell silent as the fearsome Austrian spoke
He looked like sanity had never befriended him
I should not have believed that Aryans were special, he said
I should not have wreaked havoc on those decent Jews
I was wrong

An old, toothless Indian in a loincloth spoke next
He looked like he had fasted for days
I should never have appeased that ambitious man, he said
I should never have allowed religion to divide my land
I was wrong

A man who looked like a Chinese farmer was next to speak
He bowed his head, as if ashamed
The cultural revolution should never have happened, he said
Millions of my countrymen would still be alive today
I was wrong
 
Then a tall, gruff Texan stood up and spoke
His craggy face suggested he really cared for his people
I should never have lied about that unwinnable war, he said
Our men should have come home alive, welcomed like heroes
I was wrong

A timorous, secretive Californian spoke in a whisper
He looked, well, pretty much like a crook
I was a crook, he said, I am a crook, I will forever be a crook
I should never have pretended to be anything else
I was wrong

A short, slight Cambodian now began to mutter
He looked like he was consumed by an existential fear
Genocide, by any name, is an unforgivable crime, he said
I buried my brothers and sisters in the Killing Fields
I was wrong

An old, bearded mullah got up to speak next
He adjusted his turban and spoke in his soft, sinister voice
The Religious Revolution went horribly wrong, he said
I should never have ignored the will of my people in Islam’s name 
I was wrong

Now it was the turn of yet another Texan
This one wasn’t very smart and he looked like he knew it
Even if he had the WMD, that was no excuse for the war, he said
Four hundred thousand Iraqis did not deserve to die
I was wrong

The last one up was a big orange man, very fat but strangely also fit
He wore, it seemed, a wig (badly made) of golden strands
It was a bad idea to build that wall, he said
It was a bad idea too to enlist the support of despots
I was wrong

Ah… a cold sigh escaped me
As the special place froze over

A Friend In Need

You need a friend when you’ve got nothing to do
I want a friend who understands what I am going through

You need a friend when you want company for a drink
I want a friend who encourages me to think

You need a friend when all you want is empty talk
I want a friend who will support me, like a rock

You need a friend when your own life bores you
I want a friend who never, ever ignores you

You need a friend when you want to go to a restaurant
I want a friend who is a guide, a mentor, a confidant

You need a friend when you want someone to sing along
I want a friend who will help me write my own song

You need a friend when your other friends are all away
I want a friend who will think about me every day

A friend of mine is fond of  saying 
‘A friend in need is no friend of mine’

With friends like you I’ve come to learn
There’s a lot of truth in that old line

You Go Ahead

You go ahead and seek Holy Divinity
I am happy enough to celebrate my humanity

You go ahead and be one with your God
I will struggle with my demons, abjectly flawed

You go ahead and seek The Exalted State
I will be right here, pleading with my fate

You go ahead and lose that Ego Boundary
Just leave me here with my intractable quandary

You go ahead and seek that Holy Grail
I will shuffle and stumble as I grow old and frail

You go ahead and strive for perfection
I am content with my endeavor to seek direction

You go ahead and find the answer to The Question
I will just stay here, staring at my own reflection

Enlightenment

You don’t belong here!
Because my religion is more inclusive than yours

Don’t tell me lies!
Because my religion is the only one that knows the Truth

Shut your mouth!
Because my religion is the most tolerant in the world

Off with your head!
Because my religion is the paragon of non-violence

March forward, soldiers!
Because my religion is all about World Peace

Give me that last morsel!
Because my religion wants to end World Hunger

I wish you would drop dead!
Because unlike your paganism, my religion is not Voodoo

I’ll lock you up!
Because my religion is all about freedom and liberty

Go to Hell!
Because my religion is the only way to Enlightenment!

The Exception

My child – she is the picture of innocence
Your boy – he exudes moral decadence!

My religion? It is completely inclusive
But women in temples? That’s just intrusive!

Mine is not a provincial mind
Those Southies? They are all that way inclined!

Corruption? That’s the realm of politicians
Me? I just survive on my meager commissions!

I am the very paragon of cleanliness
My feet are dirty because your floor is a mess!

By nature I am hardly suspicious
But I just know you are up to something pernicious!

Everyone today is such a hypocrite
There are very few exceptions – in fact I am it!