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An Ode to the NSA

Nicer, Safer America

An ode to the surveillance State.


Ronald Lee Oliver

Nodes, nodes, cookies and nodes!
Filtered and foldered in pigeonholed rows.

Your data is clustered and therefore it shows,
your mindset is furtive and not one of those
We can safely pass over
without thrusting our nose
in the nooks and the crannies up under your hose!

Bend over and spread ’em–we’ll take a quick look
to ensure you’re compliant and go by our book.

Relax! Don’t tense up!
It’s for your own good.

 We just want to make sure we’re all safe…


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Rapt in Solitude …a Plein air Reverie

Rapt in Solitude ~ 16x20 plein air oil on panel
Rapt in Solitude ~ 16×20 plein air oil on panel by San Diego Plein air artist, Ronald Lee Oliver

In the quiet, early morning at the river bed beside the still waters that remain after a long California drought, I park my easel in the sand bar at water’s edge. An egret with feathers as blindingly white as a snow drift in alpine sunlight, wades and forages with patience and resolve, searching for morning victuals.  Suddenly it stops and peers down a long and lethal beak at some creature that stirs, just below the surface. For perhaps a minute, the bird is motionless, stoic and rapt in solitude as the ripples slowly recede and the surface of the water returns to glassy calm. The egret, unperturbed, with flapping wings, jumps and flies. I hear the air rushing through the feathers as it beats past and glides down the riverbed, beyond the dam, disappearing into the lush shade of the forest canopy.

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“The Squall”

The Squall
Ronald Lee Oliver

Our bark pitched and lolled
midst breakers that rolled,
dark as squids ink o’er the gunnels.

Both larboard and lee,
The sky nor the sea could nary agree
which was the charge of t’other.

The toothless Bosenmate, Phigg,
chortled while quaffing a swig
of foul and treacherous grog,
just dipped from the quartermain hog.
He exclaimed with delight,
his eyes sheeny with light
from the St. Elmo’s fire
that danced in the wires above.

“I’ve seen the likes of fjords
‘n dikes and sailed the blue
waters down South…but I’ve never
skimmed through a squall such as
thee’n, nor dodged such devilish spouts!

Tighten yer buckler, ye pewlin’
landlubber, we’re in for a Helluva blow!

Yes, we’re in for a God-awful blow!”

The wind shrod through the lines
that hummed as if tines of some
giant’s mad tuning fork.

When Cap’n yelled out,
“Coming About!” and spun the wheel,
heelin’ the rudder.

It was then that I seen that wall
black and green that made my spine
tingle and shudder.
That wall of sateen, spindrift and sheen,
keen deadly for malice and murder.

Down bore that black curtain that
meant one thing certain.

We were in for a Terrible blow!

Yes, we braced for a punishing blow!

That’s the last that I seen of Phigg
and the Cap’n and two-score other
poor souls. The Bark torn asunder
as the Wave pulled them under
and down to the black deep below.
Why I was spared is a wonder
that I ‘spect I’ll never know.

Rare’s the day I don’t weep
for Forever they’ll keep
in the rivers of deep that flow
in the icy cold brine below…

in the inky dark brine below.