Mid-Life Cries

by Alan Tien, February 2020

(see video here)

AGT Silhouettes

Compress life to shadows,

Collapse a dimension,

Drain colors away,

Glow the stark reality of the divide:

The Have-Homes and the Have-Nots,

While the Sheltered saunter by,

Ignorant and ignoring the polite pleas,

The silent screams for our shattered attention.


But who do we help?

So much need,

Wracking pain packed high,

How to decide?

Even with charity in our hearts and

Wallets in our hands,

Even Gates opening only feeds a few,

Educates a handful,

Cures a touch.

If a genius gillionaire cannot turn the tide,

What can the rest of us do but cry?


The promised pandemic is here.

Locusts prepare.

Trumped our Founders’ fears.

Teetering deficit chasm near.

Mother Earth shudders and melts

Beneath our uncaring feet, malicious feats.


Who is our savior?

Jesus reborn,

Or Buddha returned,

Allah almighty,

Vishnu the Preserver,

Or do we deserve

Shiva the Destroyer?


Sam K screamed,

Do not feed the poor.

Why do they live in the desert shore?

A thousand years from now,

Sand will be sand.






Callous or calculating?

Questions we tackle,

Ethics we ponder,

Between swipes,

Interstitials that interrupt

Our waking coma

With shockingly sad sights

Of Easter Seals

Bandaging a bleeding Red Cross.


A coworker once wondered,

While flying like a god with metal wings,

(Too near the sun are we?)

Why help the helpless?

Thanos’ vision expressed aloud

By a fellow fellow

Without malice, without thought.


Shocked, SHOCKED, and yet…

Yet the solution is simplicity.


Lao Tzu paradoxes, enigmas, ironies,

Truths only revealed at Fifty.

The highest virtue does nothing.

Yet, nothing needs to be done.

The lowest virtue does everything.

Yet, much remains to be done.

How is this virtue?

Hiding, accepting,



Smiling Buddha or smirking?

Seeking Nirvana,

Humans as statues,

No emotions, no pain.

Alas, no more love!

But no more pain.

Vulcans are Bodhisattvas.


This cannot be!

I must help!

I choose

Action over inaction,

Passion above dispassion,

Human versus Vulcan.

But where to start?

Christmas in April tainted me.

Me painting 30 feet high,

Tottering on a ladder top,

Risking my life for a stranger,

Whose house is a disaster.


Why am I doing this,

When Stranger’s friends drive by,

Throw through a topless Trans-Am,

“Hey, what’s up man?”

And Stranger tosses away “Nothing!”

Why am I the sucker helping,

When strangers don’t help themselves?


Blessed to live in civilization,

Where my mind is a hundred,

A thousand,

Ten thousand

Times more powerful than my hands.

Where the rule of law

Rules the Lord of Flies.


Would you exchange

A Benjamin for a buck?

Why boil down brain to brawn,

Paint a stranger’s house,

Serve soup in a line,

When you can scale,

A lever Arch made easy

Turn on Turing mode Musk

To change the world.


Balming the symptoms

Relieves ephemerally

But relives eternally.

Dig out the root rot

And expose the open sore.

Bite down hard,

Grind in agony,

For the cut is temporary,


To recover, rebalance, restore.


But how to begin?

Which core is more?

Hunger, disease, education?

Climate control or H2O?

Overchoice is no choice.

If we cannot choose from 24 jams,

How do we decide

How to save the world?


Paralysis of the rich,

We hide from the reality

In our Truman bubbles,

Walking by the poor,

With great purpose,

To our late

Foodie dinner date.


Is it too late already?

Will Father above punish us

For abusing Mother below?

How can we redeem

Our worthless lives,

Silly souls?


Must we press on,

Keep calm,

Stiffen our upper lip,

When our world is collapsing,





Oh mighty human spirit,

Now is the time,

To Rise above the fray,

To do more than pray,

For we need you now,

As never before.

Rise now,

And do your part,

Before it’s too late,

Before we disappear,

Releasing Mother Earth to pant,

Pant, pant, pant,

To rest finally with finality,

The cold empty sleep

Devoid of all human dreams.