Thursday, September 25, 2008

A View From the Santa Barbara Pier

Santa Barbara, Calif., is one of my favorite places. It is a literal paradise. Every few months I try to escape there to get away and focus on my writing and life.

I wrote this poem a long time ago while sitting on the Santa Barbara pier, but as with all joyful and beautiful places in this world even life intrudes.




Shadows and sunlight
flicker on the ocean surface,
creating strange dark figures.

An impressionist painting of oceanic bodies and faces.

The scene hints of something mysterious and
inexplicable underneath the calm ocean surface.
A nature ancient and unchanging.

Nothing it seems could break into this
prehistoric silence,
this portal into a past world.

Not the fleet of fishing and merchant boats
floating and clinging to the ocean
like forlorn lovers
the seagulls and pigeons
armies of feathers,
searching for food.

A jet skier,
in all his water splashing glory,
finally breaks the spell,
creating waves
with each aggressive throttle burst.

His machine's engine
at the past,
at the calm,
at the majestic beauty
of the ocean and mountains
and drowns out the
steady quiet
of waves embracing the beach
and lapping and brushing against my soul.

Life is a lot like that jet skier,
disturbing my illusionary calm,
splashing my dreams,
churning me into turmoil
and engulfing me in waves of regret.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008


A few years ago, while I was visiting Santa Barbara, I saw a homeless man holding up a sign with the phrase "This Economy is Set on Stupid."

This week we truly found out just how prescient his message was as we watched in disbelief as our country's economic situation rapidly deteriorated into the worst near collapse since the depression.
How could this happen?
Very simple -- greed, rampant greed.
These past 8 years the Bush Administration was worse than drunken sailors on leave -- spending out of control...all the while unraveling the government oversight functions and safeguards and encouraging the banks to hand out loans to anyone regardless if they could handle the financial terms.
Didn't we learn anything from the depression? How could we remove bank regulations...and let Wall Street run rampant?

And now the government is handing out corporate bailouts while the rest of us do without.

Everywhere you look....unemployment, gas prices, layoffs...homelessness are on the rise....
everything but our incomes....




The homeless and wayward
are everywhere in Santa Barbara

They walk across streets wearing blankets
creating tents on the sidewalks
to escape from the cold.

One homeless man held a sign that
read "Please help. This economy is set
on stupid."

The dark side of life never far from view
on the picturesque beaches.
Human forms huddled under blankets
in front of fashionable stores.

The city father's gentrification effort is not
They can't sweep these broken people under
the proverbial rug.

With gentrification comes alienation
and economic decimation.

Yes...the man was right.
This economy is set on stupid.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008


A few years ago, a famous poet got into trouble for writing a poem in response to 9/11 asking who bombed America? He seemed to implicate the Israelis and maybe some others.

However, I was more interested in Why they bombed America? What triggered such an attack? Was it really our freedom or way of life as the government claimed?
Or was it more to the point....our foreign policy? Our nasty habit of messing in the affairs of other countries?

Of course, that doesn't excuse or condone the vicious and cruel acts of Martyrs, Inc. Ultimately, al qaeda accomplished nothing but causing more war, bloodshed, hatred and fear.
It is really up the rest of us to expose them for what they really are -- opportunistic thugs not holy warriors.

Seven years later, unfortunately I don't think our leaders have learned anything. And yet they stand on the ashes of those who died on 9/11 and since and make solemn speeches signifying anything but understanding. The GOP reached a recent low point recently when they showed graphic images of the attacks as a political ploy at their convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Still, I wonder why in hopes that we will someday learn from all of this pain, rage and heartbreak.




It matters less…
Who bombed America?
Who knew?
Who knew to stay away on the that fateful day?
Who laughed while filming it?

Those are all troubling questions to be sure.

But the real important questions

It is the only question that truly matters in the end.


This question is a shot into the heart of our blind notions of security, safety and strength.

Why do we still kill in the name of religion?
Why do we still justify revenge?
Why do we take such pride and joy in killing?
Why are we so quick to turn to violence as a means to solve our
complicated problems?
Why are we so divided and entrenched in ancient Holy Wars?

Thousands of years of so called civilization
with numerous atrocities.

Where is God in our actions?

The faces
are always the same.

Torn and
without pity,
without hope.
Feeding on rage.
Choking on hatred

They are us
and we are them.


Brothers under the skin
but always apart.
Divided by the pettiness
and the cruelty
that has infected our souls.


The answer mocks us.

What has changed since the Crucifixion?
We still without hesitation kill the holy part in us
in the name of God.


The silence is deafening.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008


Seven years ago, I sat on the beach at Belmont Shore in Long Beach, Calif and wrote the following poem. I was in shock struggling to take in the events of 9/11. I felt numb, furious, hurt and vulnerable as the rest of the country. For weeks, all I could write about was 9/11 and its aftermath.

Now, I am no longer shocked by what happened, but I haven't forgotten that pain and hurt and even more importantly, the souls who were lost that day....

This is what I struggled to write on 9/11/2001 ... a day where a lot in this country lost their sense of security and invulnerability of living in America.
That's when we joined the rest of the world...and realized no place is safe..




No peace anywhere.
Wracked with rage.
Torn apart from fear
escalating into constant wars.

Surely, this unending sorrow
can't be all we are living for?

Under mountains rubble
so many lost dreams.

Under mountains of rubble
struggling to define what civilization means.

Under mountains of rubble
when does the healing begin?

They are rattling their sabres.
It's revenge we savor.
Dust and blood
clouds our eyes
and chokes our hearts
but eye for an eye
leaves us blind every time.

We can't lose our
hearts and compassion
under the rubble of
our shattered hopes.

Under mountains of rubble
so many lost lives,
lost futures

Under mountains of rubble
lies our love and understanding.

Under mountains of rubble
when does the healing begin?

Will we create new mountains of rubble
in a never ending cycle of retribution?

Who will rescue of our tattered notions
of peace on Earth
mountains of rubble?

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Collateral Damage?

Lost in all the recent weeks of election coverage was another tragedy in Afghanistan involving the bombing of civilians.

An Afghan government commission has said 90 civilians, including 60 children and 15 women, died in Aug. 22 U.S. bombings, a finding that the U.N. backed in its own initial report.

But a U.S. investigation released soon afterward said only up to seven civilians and 35 militants were killed in the operation in the western province of Herat.

Later they conceded it was much high of a death toll. Give me a break.

They call it collateral damage...military and political speak for dead civilians caught in the crossfire..I despise that term since it doesn't accurately describe the real devastating loss of war...

I was reminded that I wrote a poem about the ridiculous notion of collateral damage in reference to the Kosovo bombings in the late 1990s.....

Seems very timely now..



When missiles go astray
and innocent lives
happen to get in the way,
they call it an accident,
an unfortunate circumstance of war,
collateral damage,
a necessary risk.

What is accidental about:
torn limbs?
bodies mangled and twisted
beyond recognition?
shell shocked eyes staring silent?
hollow faces?
lifeless fingers clinging
to fading life?
bombed out homes?
shattered hopes?
fractured lives?
dreams blown apart?

It's then you realize
are not enough
to mend
the hearts and minds
of those caught in the crossfire,
their futures exploded
and strewn across the cold ground
like bomb fragments,
giving new meaning to the word

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Tonight at the GOP Convention I heard more of the same fear, ignorance and lies that have divided this country for the past eight years.

Everyone was impressed with VP candidate Sarah Palin's speech at the Republican Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. However, if you listened closely all you heard was the same fear and hate mongering that has come to represent the Bush Years. Her speech was rife with bile and lies.

Palin couldn't get own record right let alone Barack Obama's. She supported Senator Ted Stevens' "Bridge to Nowhere" before being so called against it. Isn't that what got John Kerry in trouble in 2004 (not to mention Hilary Clinton during the primary campaign) -- his being for the Iraq War before being against it.

Palin characterized Obama's economic plan as intending to raise taxes and expand government. This from the same party that has run our debt to record deficits and decimated our economy, particularly the prospects of the middle class these Republicans profess to care about. What a joke. All their tax cuts favored the rich. It doesn't take an inexperienced governor from Alaska to figure that out. According to some recent reports, Palin also raised taxes as governor in Alaska and left a debt as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.

Worst thing about her speech? She offered no new solutions and wrapped her and her party in the flag with such sanctimonous fervor...that it was a Dick Cheney speech.

In fact, Palin never mentioned Bush at all as if we had forgotten the damage he and his cronies had done these past years.

Can we afford another four years of ignorance, stubborness, and malice exhibited by these fools that currently occupy the White House as our guests. They treat us as unworthy, blind idiots who don't know any better.
They even treat the the other branches of our government with such contempt.

And now the ticket of McCain and Palin want to give us four more years of the same....Will we ever learn as the GOP keeps rolling out their greatest hits of fear and loathing?

I hope so is a poem about the lowlights...of the Bush Years....that won't go away




Is there something you're hiding
behind your perfect smile?
As your facade crumbles
so does our self respect.

You're not a comedian
but you are laughable all the same.
No one is laughing
as you roll out your greatest hits

"9/11 changed us forever."
"Freedom from terror."
"We fight them there so we won't
have to fight them here."
"He was a dictator that threatened
our security."
"We're helping the Iraqis escape tyranny."

In the end, all your excuses and declarations
amount to nothing at all except more misery, pain
and shame.

You turned freedom into a punch line of
a cruel and twisted joke.
And the joke is on all of us.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008


Apparently, President Bush is speaking at the Republican Convention on Tuesday night in St. Paul via satellite. Just what does he have say about his faded legacy?

The GOP is probably not happy as they want to distance themselves from Bush as much as possible. Good luck with that. McCain is nearly a carbon copy of Bush when it comes to his policies

As we slowly but surely come to the close to one of the worst presidential administrations in recent memory (it even rivals Nixon which I thought was by far the worst), Bush and his cronies will still try to spin their legacy -- all to no avail. His idiotic war in Iraq, failed economic policies and misguided response to 9/11 will ultimately be his legacy.

Like McCain, Bush doesn't get it. He works for us not corporate interests and rich contributors.

And just think of all of the lives that could have been saved if we had only talked to and not bombed Saddam. Now, McCain wants to demonize Iran in a similar fashion. Here's hoping he won't be in the White House except as a visiting member of congress.

Thankfully Bush will be gone in January...but his failed legacy won't.




No one wants to be forgotten
even after things turn rotten.

Holding on to that familiar misery
becomes second nature.
Clapping for yourself
and your fading dreams
but no one is listening anymore.
Don't know what you do it for.

Thought you could turn your little battles
into a private war
All meaning eludes you
All understanding defies you
Never realized all the damage you've done

Looking to history that won't record
your deeds
with the affection you believe.
Under siege
by your legacy of lies
no matter how you try
you can hide from your failed schemes.

No one can tell you anything.
Stubborn to history's bitter end.
You can only break.
Never will bend,
but some hearts will never mend
no matter how much political capital you spend.

George Pappas
Copyright 2008