What Darkness Now Descends

What darkness now descends on a world Consumed with fear and noxious loathing? What darkness now consumes the imagination, Selfishly hoards, kills with noiseless derision?

Invisible foes march in lockstep with fools Who miss the message and suffuse with noise, While faceless masses lead the way out of the abyss, Accompanied by leaders who express but a simpering hiss.

What darkness now descends upon beleaguered souls Sequestered in their shuttered quarters, afraid, alone, Coping with bodies shattered, minds in fogged delirium? And this met with monarchic ravings of imperium!

Disinformation, the nausea of lies and propaganda, Josef Goebbels' demented smile painted in clouded skies Above the offices housing seats of power whose occupants With contempt discredit reason, brandish armaments.

To what end, this bluster of gormless charlatans Polluting airwaves with hollow cries of "reboot?" Tears pour from skies replete with ominous clouds, Panic leaches barricaded soil, wasted lives, exposed bowels.

This is not the new normal. This is a prolonged abnormal, Suspension of reality amidst fallen bodies Stuffed in unrefrigerated containers by the dotty.

We cannot mask the stench, no, not of bodies, We cannot mask the fetid aroma of forsaken reason, Nor can we stop the retching of the weary Who listen and know well this bombast of the season.

This stasis of spirit, this lingering mold of minds Of those who think they know better, They better know—the time will come, They will have to answer, not stay dumb.

Robert Hieger     May 12, 2020

March of the Greenbacks

Dollar bills march along oblivion's precipice.
Lemmings follow skulking greenbacks to
The abyss, where letters and number—
G5, G8, IMF—Bingo!…and a spate of hate
Fall hellbent to mordent lakes that envelop us.

The bleak and darkened sky cries out,
Expels the filth of inhuman folly
Set against "alternative facts" jolly.
Oil spills, like blood from arid crevices,
Grease overstuffed pockets of ignoramuses

Viruses consume their brains,
Turn inside out the remains of hearts,
Deride the sage words of youth,
And punctuate conclusions with farts,
All while ice sheets overflow the drains.


Beware the Ides of Marching

Gaping gargoyles of Gullivers traveled,
Hell bound homophobes from horrid hamlets,
Formidable fops flit feverishly forward,
Ivory imbeciles’ inimitable impishness,
Elegiac embers of eliminated elders,
Dogged dullards divide and diminish.

Robert Hieger
    May 9, 2019

Artifacta con Bravado

The world of tomorrow is here!
Artificial intelligence,
Artifice, Artemis, Arcturus, Bravura,

All bedfellows of bluster and hubris
Command us to usher in the fledgling,
Artifact come of age.

The shining pearl of wisdom
Come from the logic gate of the divine,
Trifecta of the soul, mind and anti-soul,
Will the real intelligentsia please lie down?
Unearth the sacred clown?
Elicit more than cynical frown?

Intelligence lies,
intelligent lies,
Intelligence vies for something else,
Something new,
Something borrowed,
Something blue, but something true.

Ignorance, an artificial state of suspended hibernation,
Voluntary stupidity kowtows to a shiny sex goddess,
A machine learner embedded within the orgone box,
Cassandra, profit of boon, of techno-riches,
But not so fast, not so fast.
Technologist, heal thyself!

Whence emerges the artificial pearl?
Malign not the sex goddess who mirrors our ideas,
Erect not pedestals for silicon chips that might fall.
Is not intelligence the honest act of admitting,
“I don’t know, help me”?
Is there in this liaison anything artificial?

Robert Hieger
January 14, 2019

Lady in the Harbor

The Statue of Liberty is mooning the world,
Her flowing robes billowing in the wind,
Her torch extinguished by the salty sea air,
Her crown plunging into the harbor
With an ear-splitting splash.

For more than a century
She bore witness to the dregs of humanity
Who crossed her shores
In hopes of a dream deferred
A dream of opportunity demurred.

Her lamp lit the harbor and illuminated it,
But more often hung a smokescreen,
A curtain wall to sweatshops,
Choking with tears, with spilt blood
Of young immigrant girls.

To the west, the Lady in the Harbor
Bowed her tacit consent to
The smallpox of Manifest Destiny,
Sapping the souls of aboriginals,
Exploiting bodies of Mexican laborers.

For their troubles, what did they get?
An eviction notice that reverberates,
Spreading its evil leitmotif across centuries
Only to be transcribed anew as MAGA,
Oh, MAGA-lomaniac, where did you come from?

Let's admit that we are the usurpers.
America for Americans?
Perhaps we should all leave.

—Robert Hieger
January 14, 2019

The Wounded Beast of Autonomy

The Wounded Beast of Autonomy*

Hurled against the rocks of identity
The wounded beast of autonomy
Cries out
As it loses its grip

The reassuring shoreline
Battered and eroding
Never looked more forlorn,
A beacon of receding vistas

Blinding and lucid flashes
Assailed by surface gashes
Infused with the
Heat of uncertainty

A frightened little girl
Peaks from behind the mask
Of the wizened crone
And it is my task to convince her
She is not alone

—Robert Hieger
 October 23, 2013

* This poem is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend, colleague and extended family member, Sallie Marx, who endured a long struggle with dementia. At the time of writing, I had just visited her in the hospital after she suffered a series of mini-strokes. Several days later, after a massive stroke, she entered hospice care, passing away in early November.

Dongles, Dangles and Beeps

Dongles, Dangles and Beeps*

Tantalus stretches his arm from antiquity Dangles a dongle of USB secrets Mangles a moment of tête-à-tête Instead we have SMS, latter-day S & M. Young couples avert eyes from each other, gaze lovingly At iOS vistas whose screens they now diddle Coo and giggle over vapid missives transmitted cross-table Is this romance conceived by a cyborg Clark Gable? “I am not a Luddite!” cries the man behind the curtain Accompanied by a whir of clicks, flashes and beeps “I'm an artist, a lover and scientist dazu!” Yet hidden from all in a sea of bleeps. Vapid sighs issue as each message is read. If medium is message, this message is dead. With a beep and a whoosh, response message is sent, in fourth wall of persona there is scarcely a dent. Our devices our vices that ice and divide us Yet the scientist, artist and lover dazu Need not hide behind curtains as he's wont to do His vices, devices and crisis not worth the fuss. Liberate the device from the inspired creator, Wayward dongle from the port that it dangles! And will we find that device is a tool that extends us, Not rule of law from a fool whose bluster suspends us? —Robert Hieger  January 14, 2015

* Originally published in Maintenant: A Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing & Art, Issue 9, Editors Peter Carlaftes & Kat Georges, 2015

Bowery Night

Sirens blare,
Horns honk,
Drunkards shout,
Lights glare.

From a club entranceway issues a strong female voice
Shouting to guests: “Moth balls only, moth balls only!”

Heat sears,
Haze obscures,
Darkness descends,
Sleep eludes.

Dollar bills in skirts and suits march down
The proverbial avenue of poverty,
The age-old din of Bowery reduced to moth balls,
Mildewed flesh, stupefied hunger.

Oblivious to the stench,
Human currency competes for entrance,
Entranced by the sameness, the staid suspense of reality,
The sweet oblivion of moth ball-induced hypoxia.

“What a beautiful night!” coos an oblivous bling-ridden $100 bill,
Languishing in the 75-degree dead of night.
“It's December!” wheezes the mildewed flesh over whom she steps.
“It's December! Doesn't that mean anything to you?”

—Robert Hieger
 December 31, 2015