The Ballad of John McCain

Amok! Rage runs long
Through bared teeth
And desperate chuckles
You demand, you seeth

My friends,
my countrymen
My fellow Americans.
Grin through crying rage

Senator John McCain
Statesman John McCain
You Statesman, gallant soldier
and maverick

The boy held his breath
Face turning blue
What did they do to you?
What did they achieve?

Handsome at parties
Defender of the weak
Wrestler, captain, pilot,
Leader, Naval officer

Exploded, busted, knocked
Time and again
You were almost my age
when the torture began

Dragged through water
Stabbed, crushed, in misery
Beaten, starved, left to rot
Years of silence and cruelty

Drink now, they said
Quench your thirst and go
Fuck you, you said, no -
My men must go first

What did they do to you?
What did that achieve?
It made you a man
with nothing to lose

Anger, and rust, iron and shackle
Darkness, water, dysentery,
Arms ruined, hair gone white
Hanging in the dark alone

No one who lived there
No one who paid like you
Came out wanting any of
what came before the hell

Your dreams before agony
Now broken and lost
Those dreams that you held
severed, unsound, gone

Free at last, you see
Your wife, crushed like you
Two crippled lovers
Strangers with dead eyes

They pilloried you
For leaving her there
How could you stay
After what you'd seen

Reminded of a man -
Dark hair, grinning, jostling
Arms up over his head
Telling dirty jokes

Well, no more, this man
Now stiff, expectant, angry,
Broken, re-assembled
Then unrecognized

Gone is the wrestler,
The history buff,
Enter the maverick  -
Angry, bitter and tough

What wiles you employ
What insults, what jibes
a re-invented man
A hero ne'er lies

The stars and stripes
Combatants' dead silences
Carry them over the threshold
Of your country

My friends, you say
"My friends, my friends,"
My enemies, my compatriots
My betrayers, my regrets

Your regrets most of all,
Raw sadness, slow death
Soft souls back home
Crying about not having left

You earn your fiery outburst
The cockeyed sneer
You've trademarked the look
That says - death is near

Iran, Vietnam, Syria, Egypt
Cry for heroes, saviors, mavericks
To save them, protect them
From imprisonment, coercion

No torture, no corruption
Not on my watch,
War is the switch
That keeps you going

Without war we sink,
We give up on brothers,
Fathers, and mothers -
And prisoners, and lovers

Try and failed to win
Fail, and try, and fail
Then this upstart
Destroy him at any cost

Turncoat Steve Schdmidt
Didn't vet her
Brother in arms Chuck Hagel
is no better

After all the sacrifice.
All the tears, the rage
Senator John McCain
Will not stand for it

To the prisoner, the prison
Is the worst place of all
It's where arms are broken
And big men become small

So, to the last, says McCain
We go in and fight
We get them alive
We teach them what's right

Mottled, pale, stricken
Grimacing through hearings
Letting the anger spill over
Like water from a bamboo sieve

Statesman McCain stood up for it
But he could not stand on him own
Those else who stood in his stead
They own him now

This good, honorable man
Is in a pocket
Inside that pocket
Is painted the world


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