Thanksgiving Poem

They take me and put me in a cell but cannot contain me, I am free.

I meet the guests of Dub Duston. I see a picture of his father crafted by John Logan. His thoughts of my captors are, "they are men of great peace to me, I assure you." He loves them as do I.

I call the judge, you can ask him I swear it. He loves me. His words mean more than mine - if he says it isn't so - believe him. Judges love me because I always speak the truth. He put a bounty on my head - they are lonely without my sweet presence - they love me so much. Their bounty totaled $6,500 - the equivalent of a $65,000 bond.

In the presence of judges prisoners stand in awe because of what they see. They love me - because I love correction. They too love correction. They are wise. The prisoners do not love correction so they fear him. They are but puny infants crapping in their diapers. He treats them like his own sons wishing only they loved justice.

I once was not even as wise as them. And when the judge threatened to take away my civil liberties, I almost crapped my own pants.

All of Taney County must pay bounty to him. His children come to me - they want to know - "How can I be as great as my father?" They know there is no way - he is too kind - too humble - too honorable, but I do not tell them this.

I treat them like brothers and sisters. It's Brandon's way of telling me - we are friends. His father has left a great bounty for him. He will never have to work. His father's work is so great he has the right to live happily without conviction - still - without prompting - he's convicted to do something great. His father is very proud.

In the restaurants of Branson he pays me tribute - he offers me the finest wines and tells me not to reduce my power. He knows I was born with a great mission. I will die before I share his secrets - he counts on this. He trusts me with his children's children's lives, I would swear it. In public I correct him. Judges higher than he punish him for his kindness to prisoners of the court - I taunt him only when greater judges demand. In Taney County he is the Shepherd. The higher benches bind him to a lower law and I tell everyone. It reaches the front pages of the newspaper.

He is too kind. I beg him to be harder on me - I taunt him. He is afraid to convict me - but the bench binds him. At any point in time for any reason - I can change the time or place where we debate. I have many rights - I take liberties you only dream of. See, he is wise, he knows I am arrogant enough to charge the state $50,000 to convict me of a traffic ticket. But I am innocent of the crime the 38th District prosecuting attorney has accused me of. The dockets are incorrect everywhere - the historians are lazy - they seek profit.

The Taney County Sheriff comes to pick me up from the county jail. It is a K9 unit. The officer is kind - he treats me well.

My belly is full of Salisbury steak from my friend Carroll McCullough. McCullough is in charge of an army. The dictate of his army is to protect me. He commands many men to lay their lives before mine. I am not worthy. They are twice the men that protect you - I promise - they deserve twice the wages he pays them. I will testify to it - ask me. He is not generous enough with his soldiers. They work too hard for too little. I know it is not his fault. Seven rulers dictate his budgets - I know and love all of them - I will prove it to you.

A fresh florescent orange jumpsuit is given to me. There is no room for me in the jail; they take me to a darker place. Even the judges cannot hide me - I grant them three days -I am arrogant, I grant them no more time than this - I am busy. My beautiful sisters Dayna and Dawnell come to see me. They worry to much. The prisoners think I'm popular with the ladies. They have no idea.

Even in jail I cannot hide and in the darkest corner I am called out. I meet a man I write about. He recounts a drug bust. The prisoners love me. They beat each other often but will not touch me. They are proud. They eat much. Some are feared - I am loved by them. They treat me kindly. The jailer gave me no blanket - no toothbrush - the prisoners gave me shelter on the concrete floor. They give me nicknames - they fear me, they think I am powerful though I am not.

I speak of one thing that I am ashamed of: In my entire existence I never thought I would consider beating an innocent man for food. This precept haunts me, I demand justice. I call the father of Jimmy Russell and tell him what I saw. He knows I accuse a powerful man. He can kill with his bare hands - In one blow he broke the arm and ribs of a woman. His scorn knows no boundaries - many are afraid to testify against him but I am not one. I will testify against him without fear. I am on the record now.

Let it be known. If I am killed by fault of the Branson Police Department or the Taney County Sherriffs I ask them to be found innocent. These armies have no fault - ask me I will tell you.

Christian County is coming. These judges are more powerful. They know me. The judges recite poems to me about justice in their private chambers - they love me because I love wisdom. Now I try to call an attorney. I am far away from home, I am scared. They lock me in a tank with many men. Some are illegal immigrants, my patience is endless - neither days nor nights matter - the sunrise and sunset have evaded me for so long the concept is meaningless. I am only alone in my thoughts.

The man I'm being taken to is the second most powerful in the circuit. His words flow like sweet waters - criminals everywhere love him for the immense respect he gives them. His wrath is harsh but delivered with nectar. His kindness is a snake - he's not to be reckoned with. He sets the heads of high men low.

When he punishes the wicked they say thank you and hold him harmless.

He will speak to me for days - he loves everyone - he does not have to.

His best friend sits a floor above him.

I dare not speak this judges name. He has the right to take away my vote. He can sentence me to death. Ask the sophist nearest you about him - they know more.

Judge Waters tells me a one-eyed man is coming to see me. He is too kind to me. I love him and he knows it. He treats the prisoners with respect higher than they could ever reserve. His voice is like medicine to the sick, strong medicine - short and sweet. They feel loved. Nothing is greater than a father's love. Those who don't know it are dangerous men - they lurk everywhere. Their fathers beat them without cause - hurt them. They are so hurt - they cannot fathom love until they meet Judge Waters. Women hear his wisdom and find a baldhead sexy. I owe him much - he does not know I'm innocent. I beg him not to wait for the one-eyed man who can hurt me without knowing it. Still, he will not convict me - not yet. He is merciful to all but me and sends me back to jail before I can hear his wisdom.

I've been here before with a friend I hold dear - he was sentenced to years away from his most precious. I can't wait to tell Ross - I love you - I am an activist but I will not tell him. I am innocent I swear it - but they cannot hear my plea.

Ron Cleek has brought me before the judge - he charges me with a crime punishable by death by tribal law. While people view the accusations - they hate me - I am hated by strangers - I have no friends - the judge is my only friend and I do not pray that he loves justice. I know I am guilty of 100 deaths by this land's law - I cannot help it - I am an outlaw. Judge Waters will find me innocent - I promise - because he is like me - he loves the truth.

I confess my sins, he will not punish me. He calls strange words, "Corpus delecti."

I am comforted knowing I am innocent of the crimes. He is far more powerful than me. When I see him I pay tribute. He is not a man subject to bribery - he is happy. I bring beautiful women to him. He tests them for me - speaking sweetly. The women I speak of have rare beauty. He would not dare look at them in public, men turn their eyes quickly when she catches their gaze- they are so beautiful great men are humble. For the first time, I'm in a dangerous place. I dare not let fine women battle with me in his court.

He tells me a secret that I already know. They cannot say it outloud. I do not know if we are on the record. You will have to take his word for it because I have no recording. He does not lie and shepherds many. He loves me so much that he sent emissaries to take me for a beautiful tour of Southern Missouri. Taxes pay for my journey - I know I am important now.

I lie to him. It's my first time. I don't know why - he asks me a question that I cannot answer. I cannot stop the one-eyed man - he tells the judge I am kind. I am punished for my inequity. The law does not permit me to be kind. I have no right. I am already a bond-servant.

I am angry at the one-eyed man and tell him I will scold him in public. He takes the private places of my heart and places them on the judge's bench. It is not his right. I will call him when it is time. He does not know what he does, so I forgive him. The one-eyed man is a leader who wants my favor - we are breaking rules I have sworn not to violate.

An important election is here. I have studied the texts - I have written the histories. I am scared for my people. I tell the people the tax is unholy. Many many men hate me for it - some are powerful and kind - they throw money down on chance - they have too much - they test the hearts of men to see who will get it. I need none of it but I love them and want to hear their wisdom. In the presence of great rulers they challenge me - I tell them to look at my shoes - they have holes - though I stand in mans high places they bow to look at my feet and marvel. There money is nothing to me - only honor and respect are important in this room which is the bounty me in high places give me. I am the only one who stand with conviction against the tax - everybody knows it. If I lose I am nothing to the politicos - If I win a prophet. My power is tested. My words compel the masses - the most powerful men cannot tax the people without me. I am blameless in my writing and dare them to challenge me. I love correction and learning.

I carry their voice and send it in packages to the radio station. The printed newspaper will not hear me. They have larger turkeys to fry - a governor to roast. They make me angry.

My vote is nothing, my words are mighty - they control thousands of votes. They know I love them and I speak the truth. They trust me more than I am worthy and I know this but do not doubt it.

They do not even know me but my words are sweet.

The vultures cannot pick my bones - wise men love me - they seek me everywhere I promise - Check the public record.

Only one man can hurt me without cause. He is greater than a prophet - he is my dad. His power is crushing but he does stands in front of judges everwhere and asks them to be fair. Thousands wait but his presence is overwhelming. The move to the side while he walks me to the judges. Strangers stand in awe. In two words the judge erases my record - I am repeatedly blameless though I am guilty. I do not even deserve his punishment - it is too kind. I am young.

He only asks that I speak truth. If I do not - he will beat me. I am so greatful for his correction in my youth. He is wise and shares his knowledge so I may bring such honor to my children - this is impossible I can never be greater than them - he is a prophet - only I have read his book - I am the keeper of my family's history. My history you study but do not know. I'll prove it - invite me to your house - it will be blessed - I seek the knowledge of your teachers. I want them to beat me so I may be wise. I will no longer listen to the ramblings of fools. They will have to wait in line until they become wise.

Judge Jim Justus looks at me - his hair is long. He pretends to not know me. He loves me I assure you because I record his family history and bring him honor. His job is the most dangerous. He cannot think of love - if he is wrong in his judgment men will hunt him down. Stirring his anger is not wise. He determines what happens with children's lives when they are born and men's riches when the pass. Test my knowledge - I assure you of this.

Do you think I know nothing of law? Test me, try me - I will love you for it. My clan has a secret place where they feed me - you are never allowed to enter. There are secrets you will never know - things blind men see and deaf men hear.

Do you accuse me of stealing, lying bribery? I accuse you - but I am kind - I give everyone an equal voice. Do you think I care about Democrats and Republicans? Are you so foolish that you believe I pay the Missouri Bar to stand in court? I can crush my enemies but I do not because I'm surrounded by friends.

I would rather mock the lot of them than join them. 28,000 in the Missouri Bar and not one will stand to the integrity of half their clients. I do not write them grievances. I know their rules - I study their precepts - I am one of them - ask the best you know. They will beg me to study at their institutions. All their works are fruits of a poisonous tree - I cannot be convicted but they're not angry. They tell their clients not to speak to me but I've already uncovered their secrets and watch to see what the judges do.

I let the courts judge then tell the story. My investigative reporting is beyond the police detectives; I choose my words more carefully than the finest men of law. They marvel at my knowledge and shudder when they enter the room. I know their secrets and cover them so their enemies cannot hurt them.

As I said - they are sophists - the entire bar - I do not need them to answer the judge when he says, "Your money or your life." They have asked me. Ask Jack Purvis he will tell you. I debate the lot of the them on the courthouse steps and listen to thier private negotiations. Men live and die by their actions. They are important - I do not interfere. Because of this they talk to me.

For the reporters out there........How easy it is to get the Prosecuting Attorney's opinion? You cite them often as do I - this is nothing - he is elected. My works cite the defense attorneys - the newspapers know not what a privilege this is- I am careful and they know this. They trust me with their secrets. I am honorable and they know this. I give them respect though they know they deserve none. We have an equal love of justice - they are my peers.

Purvis is my friend, he picks me up and I scold him. He's driven hours to see me with his loving wife. She cooks for me when I am hungry. He humbly asks me for advice when I enter his living room. He understands and I am grateful. He is the only man I know who enters darker places than I - things you cannot nightmare properly about - I hold him blameless and promise to criticize him harshly in the open corridors of public affairs. He wants to do God's work. He smiles at me with love. It's my personal job to judge them. I have made it such. He loves when I mock him for his iniquities. See his joy yourself on Monday nights. Watch me play, taunt and criticize him. He will love me for it - I know this. He seeks wisdom.

Drink this cup of prophecy. My weapons are words - they are chosen carefully. I will come at you hard. I will interrogate you in the streets and you will happy I have taken the time to speak to one as lowly as I know you are. If I can, I will cover up your blackened history and make it white as snow.

I am a refugee and as petty as a vulture. The lowly love me. I am friend to the tired, naked poor. I have friends who've spent so much time in their prisons they would kill for the opportunity to return to prison. You have belittled them. You put yourself in high places and think you are wise. You are not. You will not take liberties with me or my children. My heritage is richer than you can imagine - as I said even the wicked respect me.

I am a soldier - a man who loves correction and I love you - so I will correct you. Call me, write me but don't waste my time. This is my only limited resource.

When I was tired you gave me no place of rest - when I was hungry you did not feed me - when I suffered you laughed. You tried to shame my name. There is nothing you can do to me that I haven't endured. I know men far more evil than you and I fear them none.

After the judge asks the sheriff to unshackle my chains I punish the jailers with words sharp as knives for their treatment of my friends. A man dares look at me and says, "You'll leave and forget this place - happens every time." I'm yelling at him with the loud voice I reserve for elected officials. "You have no idea who I am." As I leave the jail they shout my name - they love me - try to tell them I'm not worthy. You do not want to be tested by these characters I assure you unless you are ready to witness the shadow of death.

I mean no harm. I'm really angry at you people for not realizing who you are and what you're capable of. Your power is beyond your wildest fantasies and you tell me you have none. If I don't speak the truth, question me. If I don't have the answer, I will seek it for you. On this day I give you thanks for the greatness you will achieve and what you do to negate Rousseau's statement, "Man is born free but everywhere he goes he is in chains'.

I have many battles but have only one job. I speak truth - correct me and I will love you - find it and you will be free - no walls can stop you - judges will love you - I promise this with all my heart - you will fall to your knees and give thanks.