Stuffed Shirts ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
For all the Victims of 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan
Written February 13th, 2009

Listen here for my reading of “Stuffed Shirts.”


How dangerous these cross-country caravans
Have become, the road cutting through high stone
Canyons where men-myrmidons waylay
Weary travelers, their sharp pincers driving
Us into one corner or another of mortal impoverishment.
Yes, yes, there are occasional breaks in the multitudes
Of storms, when the moon, half shadow-eaten,
Appears above the feral sawtooth mountains,
But we still fear the abandoned desert city
Of Petra, where the counting houses were hewn
From living stones, as if a nightmare premonition
Were stalking us from the crevasse of a deep memory.
So great are the troubles that beset us,
That night frost and desert sun, flood and thirst,
Vie, from the same slot of time, to attack us
With our own indoctrinations.  When we look
At our cities, we see, that they, too,
Are hewn from something obdurate, yet fragile,
And that their grids of small windows,
Each one precisely placed, each one perfectly squared,
Form a narrow slot between rock and rock,
And there, caught between an ancient ruggedness
And the modern grid, in a gap scarcely wide enough
To hold their distressed bodies, we see them pinioned,
Those like us, who came before us to these wilds,
The last and most petty purveyors of a culture,
Entombed by an impregnable idea.