Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Irresistible Wave

I want you to know that
I’m sorry for making a mess of things.
I had convictions.
I tried my best,
But
Circumstances unforeseeable
Carried me off against my will,
As they generally do to good-hearted people.
That’s my excuse,
Not an interesting one,
But there it is.
I found the world wrong
And wanted it right.
I pushed against it,
But, instead of an equal and opposite reaction,
The force that pressed back at me
Was an irresistible wave,
So powerful that it drove me back to the shore,
And even farther back up the beach
Than where I had started,
Leaving less than nothing.
The trap snapped back on me.


I lay there pebble-bruised,
Sprawled over yesterday’s black seaweed.
What dark karma operates in human affairs!
Pathetic.
I’m sorry.
Who am I to implore you to keep up the fight?
But I feel I must.
Perhaps the waves will weaken,
Who can say?
Good luck.
Just don’t think too badly of me.
After I’m gone,
Lower me gently,
Back into the waters,
And if I wash back up on the beach again,
This time I won’t mind.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Feeling the Umami

Our commonplace emotions,
Never new,
Never old,
Color the world;
Recycled like the rainbow,
Bestowing significance on everything.
The colors of our lives:
Red, yellow, green, violet
Happy, sad, angry, scared,
Suspicious, disgusted, ashamed,
Surprised, hopeful,
And a few more you get from mixing.
Could any amount of DNA editing
Add another emotion to our repertoire,
Or is this it?
Cannot even science add another color to the paint box?


On the furthest planet,
Skimming along the rim of the universe,
Do they feel nothing different?
It is too early to say.
We could travel a long, long way,
To verify that we can only ever be ourselves;
Or, perhaps the wormholes are too distant
In space time
For us worms to reach,
So we might never know.
More sensible to just accept it right now:
There are only so many emotions flavoring our lives—
Sweet, sour, tart, sweet,
Umami!
But there are enough,
Just as there are enough notes on the scale,
Enough lines, shapes, textures,
Waves, breezes,
Seasons.
If the aliens have learned this,
It might explain why they never visit.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Halloween Poem (Come Take a Trip with Me to Hell)

Come take a trip with me to Hell,
There’s Oh such sights to see;
I’ll bring your spirit while you sleep—
You’ll be quite safe with me.

I’ll show you where the tyrants burn;
We’ll listen to them scream;
We’ll have such fun and, when you wake,
You’ll think it was a dream.

Come take a trip with me to Hell,
You’ll be a second Dante,
And, if you think his visions dull,
For you I’ll up the ante:

We’ll watch the sinners boil in oil,
While all the devils poke ‘em,
And if the fires of Hell die down,
I’ll even let you stoke ‘em.

There’s parricides and patricides—
I’ll teach you to distinguish—
And fratricides and matricides,
In flames they can’t extinguish.

There’s murderers and torturers,
And Hitler’s nephew’s uncle,
And folks who don’t like apple pie,
Or Simon and Garfunkel.

Yes, take a trip with me to hell—
One night will do the trick—
Because your soul belongs to me,
Your loving friend, Old Nick.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A Few More Limericks

I was racing my steed round the Crescent,
When I knocked down a ragged old peasant;
He writhed in the mud,
Then he spat out some blood —
His manners, in short, were unpleasant.


We’ve enacted a strict moratorium
On crackpot proposals for thorium:
If authors submit ‘em,
We’ll simply commit ‘em
To the care of the new sanatorium.


That instrument known as the Dow
Is shortly to reach forty thou.
The masses and I
In unison cry:
“How is it I don’t have a cow?”


Blossoms bloom, we’re in love, and it’s Spring!
How delightful, you’re going to sing!
You’re as sweet as a flower,
Yet I’m suddenly sour
When you say, “And now something by Sting. . .”


I signed in a drunkenly way
With an outfit that tests DNA:
They sent me a kit,
So I sent them some spit—
And now I’m the Lord of Biscay.


King Herod was no great theologist
And even a worse angelologist:
He heard some strange things
About beings with wings,
Then he sent for his court ornithologist.

Monday, November 15, 2021

The One Who Pays the Piper

Oh, golden child, grip tight your silver spoon
And understand this wisdom true and terse:
The one who pays the piper calls the tune

The sage is bought and sold by the buffoon
The mighty pen is servant to the purse
Oh, golden child, grip tight your silver spoon

When Lucifer goes by, the people swoon
The masses are corrupt, the leaders worse
The one who pays the piper calls the tune

Your fortune is an over-stretched balloon
So keep your eyes fixed firmly on that nurse
And, golden child, grip tight your silver spoon

The meek can wait outside and sing Blue Moon
Be glad for what their betters might disburse
The one who pays the piper calls the tune

The traitor is received with a festoon
The honest serve the vile and the perverse
Oh, golden child, grip tight your silver spoon
The one who pays the piper calls the tune

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.

The Irresistible Wave

I want you to know that I’m sorry for making a mess of things. I had convictions. I tried my best, But Circumstances unforeseeable Car...