John McDonald

Blogging about politics, life, and the web

What Happened to Us? A Gas Station on Saturday Morning

March 14th, 2009

The birds have traveled many miles inland
to squawk and hover about a nearby drive-thru,
A heavy fog sits low in the sky.

A half dozen shoppers patiently wait in line,
flanked by waxy chocolates and
convincing fruit juice substitutes.

An unseen man yells out:

The birds yell louder as they fight over another scrap of cheeseburger

The anger starts to sound hysterical,
the note of sadness becomes more clear.


The shoppers in line crane necks to peer around the snacks
but our vision has been blocked for the sake of an impulse sale.

An older gentleman approaches: as if dressed for safari,
yet wearing a mask of exhaustion and shame.

He said Sigh…

And a gull screeches for another crumb
while we stand in line,
practicing our detachment.

A new angry, unseen voice:
“You put nine in!
We don’t have nine!”

The new man rushes to the front of the line,
Feels no pride
As he begs the cashier forgiveness.

“I can’t pay for what I’ve taken,
but what I really need,”
he continues in a quiet voice,
“Is five more.”

I sigh,
I close my eyes.

I wanted to say,
you’re not the only one, friend.

I hear some birds fly, circling overhead.

The tired man turns to the newest one in line:

Can you believe it?
What happened to us?
What happened to our society?
What have we become?

Someone cut me off again today,
They threatened me for a place in the line

What happened to us?

And I want to say so many things
I wanted to find something to blame

I wanted to say that it will get better

But I did not want to lie.
So I sighed and I closed my eyes.



  • UG says on: September 8, 2011 at 6:28 am


    Dear John,
    I am currently doing a research on North Korea. Can you please let me know the source about the 19th century cartoon that depicts Korea as a fish being hunted simultaneously by China, Japan, and Russia? Thank you very much.

  • John McDonald says on: September 13, 2011 at 10:21 pm


    Oh the cartoon from Japanese Wikipedia these days – it has vanished from the English-language version of the articles.

    “Empire of Comic Visions: Japanese Cartoon Journalism and ITS Pictorial Statements on Korea, 1876-1910” , No. Jung-Sun Han, Japanese Studies, Volume 26, Issue 3 December two thousand and six, two hundred and eighty-three Pages – three hundred and two.

    EN: Georges Ferdinand Bigot (1860-1927)

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