September 12, 2016 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION


Howard Debs



Unfit, A Hypothetical Conversation between Cicero The Statesman and Plutarch the Historian

A sage is the instructor of a hundred ages.

—The Chinese philosopher Mencius, quoted by Emerson in “Uses of Great Men”



So Cicero we meet by chance in this place beyond, salutations and greetings.

To you my friend unknown Plutarch, greetings, indeed your reputation here is well received.

Yours sir too respected. The American Adams repeated lately his remark about you that all the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and that your authority should have great weight.

Yes the Americans. What of their election forthcoming then? What of this candidate Trump? I have said before, any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.

I much agree and have said as much to wit, to make no mistakes is not in the power of man;

but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future. What think you of his manner and his speech of which you, the great orator, must have some opinion?

First I simply say, have said, hatred is inveterate anger. I have also said, and this applies as well, the pursuit, even of the best things, ought to be calm and tranquil.

Cicero, for sure you voice from experience the sum and substance of the matter, which I in brief asserted long ago myself stating, in words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker, and this as well I say again, character is long-standing habit.

I concur without a doubt, to put it as once I did, nothing stands out so conspicuously, or remains so firmly fixed in the memory, as something which you have blundered, this should tell the tale.

Yes, I have put it thusly, fate leads him who follows it, and drags him who resists. But there is more.

I maintain, when the strong box contains no more both friends and flatterers shun the door.

So why would he continue in this way? As I have observed, no man ever wetted clay and then left it, as if there would be bricks by chance and fortune.

Perhaps the answer Plutarch my interlocutor, is that which I noted long ago, the countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions.

Just look and see, his visage reveals all, and as I recall pronouncing, orators are most vehement when their cause is weak.

There is more.

I have always believed and let it be known that, when you are aspiring to the highest place, it is honorable to reach the second or even the third rank.

I also have in my time made it clear that, the nobler a man, the harder it is for him to suspect inferiority in others.

Yet there is more.

He only employs his passion who can make no use of his reason, that too I have referenced with conviction.

Cicero, there are surely those who will heed your words, but then again as I recall, you said, the wise are instructed by reason, average minds by experience, the stupid by necessity and the brute by instinct.










The End Of The World Approaches



No it’s not the possibility of a Trump presidency, or Clinton or anyone else

taking over either. The Republic, as of Independence Day 2016 will have

withstood 240 years of travail including a Civil War and a Depression

to boot, we’re not easily dispatched. No, it’s not the serious possibility of a

soon to come recession; no, it’s not global warming, its portent of

things to come is not to blame even considering many places will be in

the drink if things keep going the way they are in spite of those who naysay;

ISIS, ISIL, pick the name, pretty serious though the battle may be

to ward off the evil of those twisted minds that have converted fanaticism

into a creed, this neither will turn the tide; while there is grave concern

for what those embittered souls whose enmity for folks of other colors, other

religions, other sexualities may breed we can withstand this onslaught against

decency to be sure, as we have fended off McCarthyism, the Ku Klux Klan,

rearing its head yet once again in a new try.

The sun would shine another day even if all these things were to stay

except that Cracker Jack prizes have gone away,

thus creating a cataclysmic disorder in the

universe from which recovery is uncertain. Frito-Lay took

control of the prized confection just nineteen years ago, leaving

it alone thank you very much for the prior 101 years since first

mixed up in Chicago, for until now embedded within the confines

of each box emblazoned with Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo

came figurines, stickers, and indeed rings, of more

than dubious distinction, that actually came

inside a Cracker Jack box. No more, now it is

announced the prize is being replaced by a

QR code to download an app for a baseball game

that won’t take you out to the ballgame at all.

What will be next?  Are we now doomed?











Howard Debs

Howard Richard Debs received a University of Colorado Poetry Prize at age 19. Finalist and recipient 28th Annual 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards, his work appears internationally in numerous publications. His photography will be found in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor.


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