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The troops are marching, marching forward
Into the valley of the blinkering light
Camouflaged in uniform with just a hint of 'I'
A pinkish shirt, a bow tie, a slightly rumpled suit
or a perfect dress, a flash perhaps of jewelry
or fashion
And they sit under studio lights, wired to the ear
and lapel
And the puppy dogs bark as loud as they can
While the old wolves wait to issue their statements
Swatting away at the swarms of the press
(And hiding their pleasure at the annoyance)

They have their conventions, these soldiers
Nothing personal (they say), and dinner some day,
and best to your family at home
My friend ... my good friend ... much as I respect ...
Ritual abuse in the ritual words
Words that mean nothing or worse
Words that mean what the words aren't meant to mean
But they follow a code and they rarely go for the kill
And when they do, it's a flank attack
(Sex and drink and sex and cash and sex)
And nothing to do with policy differences, oh no
Totally different issue, of course
Have to distinguish and judge on the merits
And it's just a coincidence we've never agreed
And never expected to

But the weapons they use would be banned in Geneva
Poisonous gases that linger for life
A corrosive sense of certainty
A claim of truth so fierce that everyone knows it's a lie

And now the troops are marching, marching again
Their side and their side and their side and theirs
(And mine? Oh, no, not mine; allies perhaps if I'm
And the puppy dogs barking and the old ones posing
While from behind the lines the tweed jackets and
the white coats
Lob their written rockets to the papers of record
And the media squirrels away for their spicy nuggets
Now chasing, now courted like a teenage flirt let loose

And somewhere off in the distance is the memory
of the Groucho Monarchs
Wiping the tear-gas tears from their eyes in Seattle
Real gas, real tears
But photographed now and pinned in the collection
Exhibit A of what can go wrong
If people ignore the rules

And now they talk of cloning
And now they talk of embryos
And now they talk of sacred things
And still they use the conventional poisons
The parliamentary postures
The assurance that passes for reason
This is medicine, this is murder, this is progress,
this is obscene
This is, this is, this is
And is there a compromise
Is there a line
Can we agree
Can we define, can we define, can we define


I know what I believe, and I know I may be wrong
I know what you say you believe, and I know
you may be wrong

I have friends in this fight and I'm never quite sure
if I agree with them
For my friends they know to laugh
But sometimes it seems they feel that they shouldn't

I have enemies –– important enemies –– who are
allies in this fight
There are those that I simply despise working for ends
that run with mine
There are those that I rather admire leaning against
or worse
I like this

As the troops are marching, marching
And the music swells over Special Reports and
Our Correspondent
And all the foofaraw they plug right in
To bracket the scene and frame the scene and make
the scene the same as all the scenes they played
last year and the year before and before and before
As the ritual charges and counter-charges mount
As the shouting rises to its small crescendo
There is something possibly hopeful in the discord
The sense that friends might disagree
The idea that enemies can work together
The thought that thought may even occur

(A pincer move from left and right?
No, that's the old, flat, two-dimensional cartoon
This is the time of four dimensions, or five
or more or more
Warp speed and phasers on stun, prepare
to engage, Mr Sulu
This is more like a liquid sun
Bubbling and boiling and solid from a
million miles away)

But the troops are marching, marching forward
And the troops are marching like troops
No one wins
No one can win
Not in the stench of poison
Not in the pride of conviction

Most of these soldiers have wonderful teeth
And the illusion that this is important
Most of these soldiers have fine intellects
And the illusion that this is important
Most of these soldiers have money and power
And the illusion that this is important
Most of these soldiers have shelter and food
And the illusion that this is important
Most of these soldiers have family and friends
And the illusion that this is important
Most of these soldiers have fallen in love and risen
in wonder and joy
And I wish I were certain they truly believed
Just how important that is

Why should they listen if I say I'm not sure?
Because I'm right
I'm right to be uncertain
Right to be unsure
Right to stumble
Right to follow my confused heart
Right to seek the Tao in this
Right to be humble
Proud to be humble
Convinced of my doubt

Shall I try to make a scientific case?
Nature abhors the straightest of lines
Heisenberg Heisenberg Heisenberg
Random expression of genes
The inexplicable complexity of a protein's environment
Listen, listen
When the TV wobbles, and you slap it and it works
Somewhere there's a reason, sure, but you don't know
what it is
Somewhere some wire has groaned and changed
Just so, if you shoot your modified gene into the
Something may happen
Can you say what?
Of course not
Can you ever say what?
I doubt it
Doubt doubt doubt

Shall I try to make a religious case?
Original Sin, perhaps?
I don't believe in the Gods
I don't believe in God
(I don't believe in Beatles)
Theology is not my game
I simply refer you to those
Who know (they say) and if they don't

Shall I try to make a Gaian case?
An environmental case?
An egalitarian case?
A philosophical case?
A transcendalist case?
Would names like that count for more?

When the troops are marching, marching
The troops need banners to carry
I have no flag but this:
I feel
I want no flag
I want to lose the flags
All the flags
Even the flag of the Groucho Monarchs
The Groucho Monarchs have no flag
Yes, even that

Wake up, wake up
It was not Ginsberg stopped the Vietnam War
Chanting around the Pentagon
Levitate the building indeed
How irrational
Say yes?
Perhaps it was
No, the poet with his finger-cymbals was not at
the table in Paris
Did not negotiate the murderous details
List the events and number the missing and dead
That was not the poet's job
His job was to be
And he was

And the soldiers keep marching, marching and marching
This time it's ritual slaughter
And next?
Next time's for real
Just ask the Monarchs, the Groucho Monarchs but
better the Monarchs themselves
Floating in the air and eating poisoned corn

Am I to be called as a prophet?
You gotta be kidding
I'll flee to the mountains
Walk till I drop
Die in my footsteps
Or peaceful in bed
Watching the football
Reading my mysteries
Soothing my fevered brain to nothing
Nothing calls me
Nothing needs me
Nothing wants me

But Allen placed his queer shoulder to the wheel
And he tells me I must too
(Tells me from past his own end, tells without me,
tells, just tells)
And Allen tells me nothing at all
And that's why I believe him

Join us, join us
With smiles and tears
join us
With open heart and mind
join us
With the fullness of your self
join us
With love and generosity
join us
With the best of the thoughts you can have
join us
With the sweat of your brow and the calluses on your fingers
join us
With anger for the abstract and hope for the misguided
join us
With roses tinged with the sweetness of rot
join us
With sorry rhymes and clumsy words
join us
With what you have and what you need
join us
With the sudden sadness of bereavement
join us
With the joy of a moment of beauty and truth,
join us
With the solitude of crowds and the vastness of the desert
join us
With the snow and the rain and the waves and the forest
join us
With the devils and the gods
join us
With the cruelty of nature and the healing power of sleep
join us
With the blessedness of life
join us
I do not need to know you, my friend, to love who you can be
Join us, join us
Join us now

We need you as much as you need us