The Non Partisan’s Song

I went up to the cafe, the cafe on the corner

The waitress she came over, came to take my order

She offered me bacon, she offered me some eggs

But she offered me no solution for the fire in my head

We had just come off the mountain in the springtime of our souls

We’d just come off the mountain, we were rocked and rolled

Down into town with a hundred suspicious eyes

We’re not taking orders, they all seemed to cry

So the waitress she picked up her pen

What is that that you want, where do you belong?

I told her

I don’t want to be your general

Don’t want to rob your bank

Don’t want to burn your precinct

Don’t want to run your river dry

I just want to live

So I looked her in the eye:

I know you are only taking orders

But your radio frequency’s in doubt

You are tuned into hatred…..

And she screamed

Get out!

So I looked around me to see what there was left to loot –

A store that sold kites

In a hundred glowing shades

A shop full of plastic flowers;

One selling razor blades.

I dont want what you are selling

I don’t need to toe your line

I just want to be left to live –

So I got on my knees and cried…

As I tried to rise I realized that I wasnt free

I was pinned to the floor by a blue suited knee

He had me by the neck

He had me by the wrist

He had me and I knew my life was at risk.

I know you are only taking orders

But your radio frequency’s wrong

You are tuned into hatred –

You are playing the wrong song

He grabbed me and he looked at me

And didn’t much like what he saw

So he pepper sprayed me

And smashed my head against the door.

I woke up in a jail cell in this town of Contempt

I was dry and thirsty

My neck was all bent

By the yoke of suffering

By the chains of shame

I went to throw them off

And cried to the skies in pain.

I just want to live

I just want to breathe

I just want to be allowed to get up off my knees

When I looked up, much to my surprise

Standing there was the waitress with tears in her eyes

She passed me a plate and a canteen of tea

She said “Im so sorry friend, now that I can see”

She said “the town’s on fire

The cops have fled the scene

The streets are aflame

And the church bells they don’t ring

And if this is the end

I know who I am

I’m the one that helps a stranger in this land.

I was only taking orders

And I know now I was wrong

My radio was tuned into Hatred 101

He sits in his bunker

Computer on his knee

Twittering malcontent

And fueling anarchy.”

As we burst into the streets

The daylight took us by surprise

Blinded by the sun

Hungered, terrorized

We made out into the desert

The road stretched many miles

We toured all the gold mines

Whilst dodging all the fires.

And as those wheels rolled

Down the shingle and the road

There started up an old song

About weights and loads

They were singing

Keep your lamps lit

Keep your powder dry

Call no man master

If you can’t look him in the eye.

Keep your radio’s tuned and

Keep your horses tied

Keep a good watch

On the half truths and the lies,

And never should you judge

On how another prays

There are many paths that lead

And go roughly the same way

And when you look in the mirror

See if you can stand yourself

And if you want to turn away

And are drawn to the razorblade on the shelf

Spin that radio dial

Flip that final switch

You skin won’t feel right

If you don’t scratch that itch.

We had come down off the mountain

In the Springtime of our souls

We had come down off the mountain

We were rocked and rolled.


  1. Ariana

    You put so much emotion into your poems. I love that๐Ÿ’œ There is a lot of depth in this one, kind of triggering for me in probably different ways than the poem was meant to represent (my brother was killed by a police officer serving a narcotics warrant many years ago at this point). I think that poetry can be powerful that way. I can see layers of things to ponder in here as I consider all the ways I would want my inner radio to be tuned… Hope you are doing well ๐Ÿ’œ

    1. The Paltry Sum

      Oh my gosh, Ariana darling. I am so very very sorry for your loss. You can probably guess how I feel about such brutality. You have my love and solidarity. I am afraid I don’t know what to say, other than I care very much indeed. xx HUG, xx

      1. Ariana

        No worries. Most people don’t know what to say. It was something surreal and horrific all at the same time. They said they thought he had a gun, he didn’t. There wasn’t even a gun in the room, and since they shot him at point blank range… Sometimes I’m even not sure what to say about that. I mean I have my thoughts of course, but.. yeah.

        I can guess how you feel, but we each have our own lived experience and there are some things that haven’t been a regular part of my path that are regular part of the path for others. I have to acknowledge that I have had privilege in many ways despite the fact that I know what it’s like to grieve someone killed that way. My path has had its challenges, but it has certainly been easier in some respects just because I look like a cousin to Casper the ghost.

      2. The Paltry Sum

        I’m white too. My son is not. I have, however, recovered from a drug problem and know how the entire world seems to conspire to destroy you as a result. It sounds to me as if your outrage is justified.
        You are a lovely person, I truly am ever so sorry to hear about your brother’s untimely death, it sounds as if you loved him very much, despite his issues. Darling…sending you love, strength and understanding…and my outrage for what it is worth. xxx hug xx

      3. The Paltry Sum

        Thinking of you, Ariana. As much as SF has got scary recently, things cannot be allowed to carry on with police being a danger to citizens on a regular basis. They should not be allowed to be judge, jury and executioner. Your love and warmth and the positive things you do in this world – I am sure he would be so so proud of you. Solidarity – what happened to your brother was beyond wrong, and I am so very very sad for your family.

      4. Ariana

        I did love my brother. He was a quarter Native American (we had different fathers), but I don’t think the police knew that because for the most part he just looked like a white boy with a really good tan. I think maybe they just thought he was law breaking trash. And certainly I got the impression as I was dealing with things afterwards that people didn’t see him as a person they saw him as a crime.

        He was addicted to meth, but the only thing they found when they ripped up the house he was shot in was a bag of marijuana. I felt a lot of pain in my heart because I know why he was using. He was medicating because of his childhood. I never romanticize him and think he was a saintly man, but he was a broken and hurting man in many ways who couldn’t get over some very hard things. In some ways he was trying to be better. And I wanted him to have time in life to keep getting better. I would have rather been visiting him in jail, though I honestly think jail sentences for drug use are excessive and in need of reform.

        I could go on, but you undoubtedly have better things to do than listen to my outrage. I have done the best I can to make peace with it.

        Don’t let the world tell you you aren’t worth it because of the problems you had. You are worth it, and there will be people out there who can see that. Stay strong and thanks for caring ๐Ÿ’œ

      5. The Paltry Sum

        I definitely have time to listen, Ariana. As far as I am concerned what happened to your brother was criminal, and if I had my way the people responsible would be prosecuted for at least manslaughter. I am no lawyer, but to be shot, unarmed at point blank range is not self defense, it is a criminal act of a deeply fucking broken system. I am so glad you have reached some kind of peace, and am very very sorry that he didn’t get to the point where he could have put his past behind him.
        I too believe sentences for drug use are excessive – I was never locked up. There needs to be more done to help people than just ignore the problem, like is happening in SF. Don’t prosecute as long as no other crime has been committed, but it is inhumane to let people rot on the street until they die of a fent overdose.
        I am at my own peace with being trash, darling. I’m a few years clean of drugs, with long periods of being clean before that, and a couple of years free of booze. It is not always comfortable, and sometimes it is very hard for me, but I am grateful I got the chance to live…and I am so very sorry your brother was not afforded the same dignity and basic right, so very very sorry. xx You can always talk to me about him. I would love to hear about who he was apart from the drugs – because there are people beneath what the drugs do, people that matter. All my love. Im so sorry the fucking bastards deprived you of your brother. I worry sometimes about having opinions because I haven’t yet got my VAWA visa, so am nervous about voicing my true feelings – I am still illegal, if that makes sense …. I am rapidly getting to the point of “fuck it”…xx

      6. Ariana

        You a right to be cautious as you are awaiting a Visa status. When it comes to my brother, I got an attorney. I didn’t have legal standing because he had a young son with a woman he was not married to. Because there was a kiddo involved, only the kiddo or the kiddo’s legal guardian had legal standing to file for wrongful death. My brother had full custody prior to his death, but custody was awarded to the little one’s Mom after he was killed, and she was at the time struggling with problems of her own and in other circumstances, and did not want to pursue that kind of action.

        Most often the families never win anyway. The system is sympathetic to itself, and I think many people feel like it’s justified. A roommate of one of my friends at the time my brother was killed, her brother was a police officer and she said that any type of force like that was justified because they were dealing with someone who was committing a crime and could pose a risk of violence. My brother’s crime in terms of the law was being a drug addict (though they were serving the warrant because they thought he might have been selling, they just didn’t find any evidence of that). They also said they thought he was stealing stuff, so they pulled as many things as they could out of my grandmother’s house and they didn’t find a single stolen item. We had to go through receipts and all sorts of things, and they compared it against reports of stolen goods and guess what, none of it was stolen.

        My grandmother was in the house and she saw what happened, because he had been staying with her trying to get his life together. She confirmed there was no gun in his hand or room, and it’s even in the investigation into the shooting that they handcuffed him while he finished bleeding to death so that they could look for the gun they thought he had. But if you look up official reports summarizing what happened from that department online from, they still say he had a gun. That part is pretty upsetting. There’s a big difference between thinking somebody had a gun and acting to protect yourself, which depending on the circumstances can be justifiable, but acknowledging that you were wrong than insisting on sticking to a version that wasn’t accurate but makes it seem more justifiable.

        So trying to make peace within myself is really the only thing I can make of it. My grandmother didn’t want to talk to the media (and I respected her wishes on that) and she didn’t want to be involved in legal battles, though she respected my right to get an attorney and see if I could have standing. She was approaching 90 (but still walking 2 miles a day and in great shape up until this happened) at the time and she felt like they would face Divine Justice but would be unlikely to face earthly Justice and wanted to live what little time left she had not embroiled in that kind of battle. I love my granny, she was a good woman, and a great example to me of how to really love a person.

        And what she would say to you is what I would say to you. You are not trash and you do not have to make peace with anyone that tells you that you are ๐Ÿ’œ

        My brother was an artist, though he paid his bills mostly by doing construction jobs. A lot of his stuff was pretty dark because he was emotionally in a lot of pain. But he was talented, and he was planning on going back to school to become a mechanic at the time he was killed. When he died, I remember the conversations with my grandmother’s neighbors how they would come over and say things to me like my water pipes burst at 2:30 in the morning and your brother came over and helped fix it and clean up the flooding. That’s the side of him I wish more people could have seen.

        I have not ever thought that the prison system was an answer to drug use or drug addiction. I don’t have a lot of control over the laws in that respect, but if I were given a choice between visiting him in prison and planning a funeral… Prison would have allowed him to walk out alive again. But I think you are right, we need to be doing things that will help a person when it comes to addiction and prison certainly does not do that.

        I am sorry things are getting dangerous over there. I shall have to read up a little more so that I can understand that better. Take good care of yourself and thank you for your kindness in listening ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ

      7. The Paltry Sum

        Ariana, It is absolutely heartbreaking. None of those things (that they had no proof of anyway) carry an automatic death penalty without judge, trial or jury. The lies in the police report are insulting. Your brother’s life mattered. He deserves justice. He deserves to be remembered. I don’t think prison is the answer either, Ariana. The answer is in no more death squad cops killing citizens in a case of itchy trigger fingers. The answer is in compassionate addiction care. Can I ask which state this was in?
        He sounded like a sweet and compassionate man, who used drugs to blunt the brutality of life. A sensitive soul.
        I would like to offer to talk more, and write a piece on my blog about him and the impact this has had on your life, if you think it would be appropriate and something that you might find a comfort.
        I have my Tuesday up ahead – it is meetings all day, darling, so I have to rush, but I am around later. Sorry I have to rush off.
        And I am so very sorry for the lack of justice for your brother, I am so very sorry you lost him, and you have my love understanding and solidarity. Ill catch up later, I didn’t want this to go unanswered. All my love to you x

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