Saturday, September 25, 2021

Auto-Archaeology

To uncover the layers of yourself,
You must start calmly.
Survey the area,
Don’t prejudge anything.
Pick a spot,
Then bring in the bulldozer.
Tear off the top.
Carry out the rubble.
Now go to work with the spades.
Dig, dig, dig.
Whatever you find here is of no consequence.
Haul it away.
Only when you are certain that there is nothing left,
That you have reached the original ground,
Come in with the trowel;
Delicately.
Scrape, scrape, scrape.
What do you find?
Indiscriminable,
Grimy,
Unpromising,
Blackened,
Stuff.
This is your treasure.
Wash it off carefully,
Polish it up,
Observe it from all angles,
And in all lights,
Not forgetting the infrared.
Behold, something new for once.
So old that it’s new!
Hidden in the midden,
But what does it mean?
Can some hermeneutic of stratigraphy be applied?
Can it be understood?
Or, are we alien to the core,
So deep that we have no affinity with our own wellspring?
Is there any depth to our depth?
Or, are there just infinite layers
Of disposable
Emptiness?

Friday, September 24, 2021

Hunters

The fox is a hunter.
He doesn’t know why.
Hill and valley, grass and stream,
Up and down, and on and through,
Heartbeat, panting,
Aching legs,
Looking for water;
Meat chasing meat
To fuel the rush
Of meat chasing meat.

Man is a hunter of the invisible.
Ideals are his meat,
Ideals that can never be fulfilled.
We catch glimpses,
Pursue in haste,
Into a sunset we never reach,
That sunset unto which we are raised,
Transcendent,
In our dreams.

We hunt the Tudor-red fox,
Of whom we have no need,
Who is not even meat
But only a meaty stand in
For objectives that we have not fleshed out.
But he will do,
Meet for the task.

Man is a hunter.
He doesn’t know why.
On and on,
Hoping to catch a break.
The fox,
The hunt,
The dreams,
All pointless,
And cruel,
But how pleasant
The galloping thuds of the horses' hooves,
The cries of our fellow hunters,
The bracing breeze,
The shimmering waters
Of the sun-splashed streams.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

When I Was Young

When I was young,
I wanted to be Leonardo Da Vinci,
But, when I was old,
I became Homer Simpson.
What made the difference?
I took a road less traveled,
The wrong one.

Leonardo:
Built parachutes,
Painted madonnas,
Set the caged birds free.

Homer:
Watched buttons,
Ate donuts,
Juggled job and family.

Leonardo grew old
Seeking patrons in dark castles,
Spinning the fragile plates of art and science,
Thinking himself a failure.

Homer never aged,
Never failed,
Hadn’t the awareness.

So, I shall pass at last
From the futility of Homer to the self-reproach of Leonardo,
Having skipped the wonder years,
Only to catch the disappointing finale.
But, unlike Leonardo,
I’ll at least have donuts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Words

Human beings,
Like hogs,
Quickly go feral.
It only takes a small threat,
Even an imaginary one.
We must be well-housed,
Fed,
Entertained.
Still, there are no guarantees,
Because, unlike hogs,
We can turn feral spontaneously.
Education is the hitch:
How do you keep the mind open,
Yet also discerning,
When the old are so eager to mislead the young?
Remember the dove and the serpent.

Did someone say serpent?
We become afraid.
We panic.
Decency? Self respect? Joy?
Out the window they go,
For nothing.
Chaos is as close as the next Olympics:
People strung up like hogs,
To resounding applause,
Because of words.

The Emperor

I like to go incognito among the people,
Traipse their streets, marketplaces, vineyards.
Their dogs bark at me,
Slaves eye me with suspicion,
But I am among my people,
The people who would otherwise quake in my presence.
They don't notice me passing in front of the temple,
Walking the perimeter of my stadium.
Mine is an empire
Of rock and flesh,
Concrete and wine,
Oil and water;
Bricks of beige and ochre,
Blonde and brown,
My people!

I find myself in the Costco parking lot,
Grabbing a cart in the rain.
I enter wet.
I scrutinize the goods in every aisle.
At the exit, they ask for ID and I hope for a nonchalant cashier who won’t
Uncover my true identity.
I wander out.
On the quayside, men are loading amphorae onto the boats.
I watch a departing galley,
Her oars breaking the water.
Serenity.
Fuck the Federal Reserve! I’m going to devalue the denarius.

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Human Mind is Made of Glass

The human mind is made of glass.
More fragile than we think,
It feels as hard as arctic ice,
But shatters in a blink.
Unseen, its hidden fault lines creep
Towards the bone-dense skull,
And not a thought, a dream, a love,
They won’t at last annul.

The human mind is made of glass.
It slips between the hands,
And spawns a hundred sharpened shards,
The second that it lands;
And there’s no telling who’ll get cut,
Or on what random day
Some piece will pierce a tiny foot
At unsuspecting play.

The human mind is made of glass;
Preserve it from the smoke
That rises black from every hearth
And seeps from every joke,
Till one day all is tar and cough,
Each window choked with gray;
Then all that once was on is off,
And every joy dismay.

The human mind is made of glass,
A crystal Shangri-la
That resonates with each glad laugh
And echoes each hurrah.
From balconies with creamy rails,
We relish and we gloat,
While all it takes to bring it down
Is one shrill, blaring note.

The human mind is made of glass;
No matter how it glints,
The most prosaic wear and tear
Erodes its gilt and tints.
The human mind is made of glass:
I saw your smiling face,
Reflected in the sparkling light,
Now gone without a trace.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

In the Little Park

I go to run
In the little park,
Round and round the stony walk.
Sometimes rain,
Sometimes snow,
More often the hot, hot sun.
Long sleeves and pants
To keep off chiggers;
Counting my breaths,
Forgetting the number of laps,
Wondering how long I can keep this up;
But without it I grow fat,
My ballooning belly
Inversely proportional
To my self esteem.
So, I shall run until I drop,
Or until,
Either within or without,
Something breaks.

Perhaps someday the sky will split,
The bottom will fall out of the world,
And the last trump will sound -- great heavenly fart,
Portent of Eternity,
With Its infinite unbreakable laps,
And no hope for release,
Because the bottom
Can only fall out once.

No, keep running,
But confine hope
To trivial things:
Cups of coffee,
Glasses of wine,
Well-timed rays of sunlight,
The right song playing at the right moment,
Hot baths,
And, above all,
An occasional sincere interaction
With a fellow human being:
I and Thou,
Me and you,
When time is obliterated,
Zapped,
In a moment of identification—
No earth, no sky,
No death,
No apocalypse,
And no Eternity,
Not now.

Friday, September 10, 2021

The Trumpers Have All Gone to Ga-Ga Land

The Trumpers have all gone to Ga-Ga Land,
Where very few ever come back;
They galloped away in a hell of a huff
When they heard they were under attack
From the people who don’t “get” America,
And those feds who are not on the level,
From China and antifa, dark folks and gays
And, of course, most of all from the Devil.

The Trumpers have all gone to Ga-Ga Land,
Where the cars are American built;
Where the churches are bubbling over with grace,
And everyone’s armed to the hilt;
Where the morals are biblical, tested and true,
So old that they’re in black and white;
Where the Math hasn’t changed since the waltz was brand new,
And where teachers can still read and write.

The Trumpers have all gone to Ga-Ga Land,
Where nobody ever grows up;
Where Lassie’s still saving the folks at the mine,
And coffee is ten cents a cup;
Where no one doubts six-day creation—
You won’t find a fool with such nerve—
And there isn’t a single convention
Apostrophes have to observe.

The Trumpers have all gone to Ga-Ga Land,
Where everything’s just as it was;
With the cinemas still playing Gone With The Wind,
And next week the Wizard of Oz;
Where the fathers expound with authority,
And the daughters all listen in awe;
Where the mothers are home, baking sweet apple pies,
And chopsticks are banned under law.

The Trumpers have all gone to Ga-Ga Land;
Of immigrants there, there are none,
Except for the girls at the whorehouse,
Who’ve got Einstein visas, each one,
To safeguard American ladies,
Who never must know such a trade,
Is, thanks to their God-fearing husbands,
Enabled to thrive unallayed.

The Trumpers have all gone to Ga-Ga Land,
Where the reptiles and pedos can’t come;
Where the atheists can’t stand the glare of the light,
Or the beat of the patriot’s drum;
Where the cherubim circle the home on the range,
And the spines of the students all straighten
As they solemnly pledge, wiping tears from their eyes,
With a gusto that scares away Satan.

The Trumpers have all gone to Ga-Ga Land,
Way over the proud purple hills;
Where Old Glory is never mistreated,
And Mexico pays all the bills.
They’re waiting at Ga-Ga Land station;
The engineer’s sounding the bell;
The Ga-Ga Land train is departing:
The next stop and last will be Hell.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Civilization

The peaceful family,
Community,
Nation,
Are soon washed away,
Depending, as they do,
Not on human nature
But on culture,
History.

Eons of experiment, discovery and reflection—
Gone in a thousand days!
It can happen here,
It is happening here.
The sands collapse beneath our feet,
The very sands that Abraham walked,
Because we have not communicated our values,
Have not embodied them.

Civilization is risible,
The father of all jokes,
Until you lose it.
It is injustice piled upon injustice,
Until a greater injustice comes along.
Jeremiah,
Confucius,
Aristotle,
Francis.
We mock them all.
We are hopeless without them,
Children unparented.

Oh Zeus,
Don’t take it all away just yet!
Give us one more chance
To teach kindness and humility,
Respect for facts,
Wisdom.
Compelled to start again,
We might not get this far.
Perhaps this was the only chance.

Oh, to return to the old days
When we felt safe enough
To put a torch to it all!
But we were only cartoon characters then,
Sawing the branch that we sat on.
We must grow up now.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Children Who Fell Through the Cracks

Here come the children who fell through the cracks;
Here come the whiz kids who went off the tracks,
In between sitters and saccharine snacks.
How will they pay us for being so lax,
Now they’ve come out to play?

Here come the babes that we lost in the wood,
Missing and miserable, misunderstood;
We did what we had to but not what we could;
It’s no use to say that we meant it for good.
Look at them, my how they’ve grown!

We are the pilgrims who went the wrong way,
Faithless and spent at the end of the day,
All of our visions befuddled and gray,
Plenty of learning and nothing to say,
Shining our light from the mud.

Here come the children who fell through the cracks,
Brooding in solitude, hunting in packs,
Showing up just when we’ve all turned our backs:
So many angles for launching attacks!
Now they’ve come out to play.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Our Heaven

Here in America,
We’re all going to Heaven
Not because we deserve it,
But because we are entitled to it;
Such is our creed.
Heaven must be within reach of the majority,
Appeal to the median voter,
The average citizen,
Carrying an average burden,
Making the average number of complaints,
Being cruel only rarely,
And kind only superficially.
Heaven sanctifies moderation.
If saints do exist,
In Our Heaven they will live a marginalized existence,
As despised eccentrics;
The exception and not the rule.

You might think our Heaven a humdrum sort of place,
But it isn’t,
Because the amenities
And the service
Are extraordinary:
The pillows are that soft,
The music is adorable,
And you can fly,
Without even a jetpack,
Simply by willing it--
Whoosh!
It’s like living in the best possible hotel,
In the best possible amusement park,
Surrounded by people who, inexplicably, think you're awesome.
Heaven is Vegas on steroids,
And who wouldn’t want that?
Heaven is like being stupendously rich,
But without being miserable,
Like so many of the wealthy on earth are.
Otherwise, why have a God at all?
You can see Vegas from Calvary.
And we are all going.
Gee whiz, what fun!

Friday, September 3, 2021

New Roses

In bars,
Factories,
Forgotten villages;
Through rain,
Wind,
Snow;
Standing at stoplights;
Or going from car to car,
Trying not to get hit,
I have hustled many roses
Down the avenues of the dead.

I sold my roses to young men,
Who gave them to their sweethearts;
I sold my roses to married men,
Who handed them to prostitutes;
I sold my roses to little girls,
Who presented them to their mothers.

Sometimes the dead were gracious and thanked me for my roses;
More often they were hostile,
Or the roses themselves perished,
And joined them.
The blood of the dead
Reddened my roses;
Their thorns
Pierced the living.
I kept up the hustle.

I used to sell my roses for God.
I have new roses now,
But no God to sell them for;
I park them in a cheap corner of the market,
And wait.


“I was born to hustle roses down the avenues of the dead.”
Charles Bukowski, Consummation of Grief

Auto-Archaeology

To uncover the layers of yourself, You must start calmly. Survey the area, Don’t prejudge anything. Pick a spot, Then bring in the bull...