POEM: How Ever Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb

In his rock
Solid doubt
Thomas
Had herd rumors
Of unflailing love
Abuzz of hope so high
If only
To find himself
Quite
In the dark
Wear time stops
To the ever sow gentle
Beating
To a singular conundrum
As sound as it gets
In the artlessness of won’s
Perpetual searching
Where awe is aloud
And know license kneaded
Yet so long
Due
Over
Come
Warming to the extremity
In a hospitality of patients
Still
Not sure
What he thaw
He’s frozen code
Hesitatingly lust
Pulling out
Aplomb
The surest proof
Of assurance
Yet knot enough too
Drink the Kool-Aid™
Turning to whine
Taken in
Bred of skepticism
Only willing
To live on
Crumbs
That will
Surly re-seed
In annoys
Of the daze
The quest in
For gotten
How ever dumb dumb dumb dumb

This is another poem on a familiar theme of skepticism of skepticism.  In this poem, skepticism is juxtaposed with a simple and profound reality at the center of each human life: your heartbeat.  In fast-paced, postmodern society, we live in a precarious and constricted mental and spiritual territory.  We are, well, maladapted to ask “What have you done for me lately” a-long-side routine strings of epic fails to live in the moment.  In a triumph of evolution, we walk a mathematically constructed line that every mathematician knows doesn’t exist except as a mental construct.  And then we complain about God’s ethereal nature — with a periodicity much less regular than a heartbeat, in between ignoring God’s good creation.  I can’t help but note that the bulk head of such complaining seems more fitting on bar stools than in poem or song.  Of course, I don’t recommend sobriety when it comes to being drunk on poetry.  In the book, The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, the main character tells two stories: one hauntingly mesmerizing and another as a police report.  When asking another character which story they prefer, not surprisingly, they choose the captivating story; to which the main character replies, “and so it is with God.”  I, for one, would much rather be captivated by a good story than limit my reading — and living — to police reports (though many good stories include police reports).  I strongly suspect that God wants us to make epic stories of our lives, for our hearts to beat captivating rhythms, to grow bigger and fuller today than we were yesterday.  For this to happen, at some point, we have to make stuff up as we go along.  This process can be analogous to scientific discovery, proposing stuff that we are not quite sure are true and then testing them out with out lives.  Not surprisingly, scientific-minded folks are greatly disturbed when religion hypothesizes great truths and then fails to adequately test them in the here and now.  Not all shit is worth making up.  Fortunately, most any shit can be used as fertilizer.  Even cautionary tales are indispensable.  Nonetheless, as Native Americans traditionally began their storytelling, “This may not have happened, but it is true.”  Or, as I might put it: God is the coolest being I ever metaphor.

But back to the even more palpable.  Your heartbeat serves as a metaphor, gentle reminder, and literal lifeline to, well, life.  The heartbeat is both a shared human reality and intensely intimate and personal tether to life.  In astounding irony, the common ground of a heartbeat at the center of each human life seems to be easily taken for granite, that is, common ground.  There may be a fine lying between common ground and complicated dirt, but I suspect that the road less travailed makes awe the difference.  Akin to breathing, our heartbeat is a great center for meditation, that is, simply centering our life (see my poems, Breathing and The World’s Shortest Meditation).  I find the persistence, reliability, unobtrusiveness, and effectiveness of both breathing and our heartbeat as a wellspring of metaphors and insights into the deepest nature of life.  Still, may your life take definition by those moments which take your breath away and that which makes your heart to skip a beat.

POEM: The Short End of The Shtick

The earth quaked
Beneath the CEO
As he re-torted
It’s no bodies fault
In a sense
Coming upon
The prophets of owed
Raking over
That thin lyin’
Between purveyor and consumer
I’m just
Doing my job
And it’s knot
My job
You are
Welcome
To the short end
Of that shtick

This poem was inspired by a specific instance of the ever-present marginal customer service amidst corporate America.  There is an entire universe of bad customer service that lies between “It’s not my job” and “I’m just doing my job.”  There is an entire universe of bad customer service that lies between callous executives’ inhumane policies of profit over people and wage slaves who have made learned helplessness an uninspiring art form.  Our humanity can only slip away if we abdicate responsibility and response-ability.  As much as the status quo sucks at any given moment, this is an invitation for humanity to step into such a vacuum.  Even as the invitation is addressed as “Dear Occupant,” merely serving as a notice that your short end of the stick is being pared back or that the light at the end of the tunnel is being turned off, this would better serve as a pretext for revolution than learned helplessness.  Part of humans’ Jōb description is a test of faith regarding devilish abets inhumanity.  There in lies an affirmative response-ability to fix ballsy dehumanization that metes life on our knees.  Countability de-mans it.  In choiring mines want to no, excuses for whining a bout their purported eunuch situations, as if hitting the Hi C in loo of Kool-Aid™ was somehow passable.  If this peers as sum bizarro universe, wrest assured that the job you may have may have nothing too due with this.  Other wise, just, do your job.

POEM: Opportunity Accost

Having arrived
Delivered by a private message
The bad knews
Out of the weigh
Surrounded
Only
Good news ahead
Able to attack
On any affront

This poem is based on an old joke, that goes something like this: The courier arrives with news from the battlefield, telling the general that he has good news and bad news, and asks which he would like first.  The general asks for the bad news first.  The courier indicates that they are surrounded by the enemy.  The general then asks for the good news.  The courier replies, “The good news is that we can attack on any front.”

Every person that works on bettering the human condition knows that there is an abundance of needs, bordering on the overwhelming.  This very reality is perhaps the leading cause of burnout among do-gooders.  I like this old joke because it highlights the overwhelming opportunity present in life.  While we may spend huge amounts of resources in needs assessments, and countless hours in planning meetings, to get just the right mix of strategies and interventions, you don’t have to look very far or even very closely to find human need.  If a human need touches your heart, lend a hand, even your whole life if need be.  As a former professional planner, now trying to recover from such a chronic predicament, I am reminded again of the quote from United Methodist theologian and activist Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  I suspect that whatever purported efficiency gained by most needs assessments and most time spent in planning meetings would be better invested in doing whatever makes us come alive amidst the dizzying array of human needs ripe for the plucking.  For some rare individuals that may even be conducting needs assessments or planning meetings.  For most, the time would be more enlivening spent in the fields of humanity where “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Luke 10:2, Matthew 9:37)

POEM: Inspiring Life Itself

Hear
I am
My life
Unmeasured
By awe but
Smiles
And ours alone
A forum of love
Only known by agape
Sometimes taken as dope
And every sow often
Be held as a parent
Breathlessness
Be gotten heir
Inspiring life itself

Where does life come from?  Some claim, in a type of miraculous skepticism, that life emerges out of nothingness.  Others figure there is something more seamless in the creation of life, like coming from like.  Regardless of where one’s perspective begins concerning the ultimate origins of life, most can agree that, in the here and now, life produces more life.  Life in its fullness is contagious.  Also, the highest human experiences seam to be inescapably linked to awe.  Awe strikes me as being sublimely taken in by the sheer breathtaking and breath-giving nature of life.  Awe seems close kin to gratitude, particularly of receiving something that transcends our own doing or merit.  For me, such experiences inspire me to live in a way that will breath life into stale social contracts, however well contrived, and knock the wind out of social relationships where another’s humanity is bargained away for supposed profit.  A life well-lived should be more full of celebration than calculation, carousing than conniving.  We will gain much more from dancing than delineating which dances are viewed most positively by each market segment, so we can maximally profit off others’ dancing.  Life, in its fullness, will dance around such cramped connivings.  Of coarse, such lessens will be self-taut, whereas life involves a boundless teeming beyond grasping.

POEM: Constipated Destiny

He knew knot
Exactly where
He was going
As fate would have it
Seized by easy convictions
Big house
Auto, pilot
And every won else’s
Re-guard
Of one self full
Filled
Buy in
And sell out
In humanity
A sure thing
The gold
In rule
A void
Apprehensions
Of vassal late
Making one’s self
The whore of certain knowledge
The john of dreams undared
Unfailing in his coarse
Fining himself
Scared to dearth
Of his constipated destiny meting

This poem deals with the vanity and danger of pursuing material success and cashing in on conventional wisdom.  The good life is all too often pawned off as having fine possessions or relishing in status or celebrity.  Possessions have a way of possessing us.  In a world where so many have so little, fine possessions can be devilish.  Status or celebrity has a way of simply highlighting our own emptiness or hypocrisy in a pressurized or scrutinized existence.  Fine possessions and status are typically acquired through the successful use (and misuse) of conventional wisdom, or simply through unmerited privilege.  Albeit, celebrity sometimes comes through more notorious means.  Still, we all know where this leads: the well-worn hierarchies of winners and losers.  In a constipated destiny, everyone knows their place.  Predictability (sometimes better known as ‘security’) and fatalism serve as poor substitutes for true daring and bold hope.  Well-worn rules (and rulers) of the game leave little but cheap thrills and expensive highs to assuage our stultified lives.  The bulk of our lives are leased for weekends.  Passionate vocations are bartered for passing vacations.  Awe sold for certainty.  Dreams pimped for fear of being a sucker, or worse.  May you live a life where you are not scared to dearth, settling for mere material finery or tranquilizing status, a constipated destiny, or hellish blandness.  May you follow your dreams in a way that literally scares the hell out of others!

 

POEM: Fully Human When Wholly Divine

From wear
You ask
Came quiet
A storm
At the end
Of won’s rope
The blest piece
Ever no’ing still
Falling in too
A death too small to handle
A life too big to grasp
Laughing at what was wince
A mirror
A side
Having passed
The looking class
And seeing
One’s love
The phase of God
Fully human
When wholly divine

This poem is about glimpsing beyond the veil and rooting one’s life in the mysteries experienced from the other side, from passing through the looking glass.  Of course, if unaware or too deeply skeptical to lend any credence to such experiences, then you can also reliably fall back on love manifest directly into this realm, as Victor Hugo, in his classic, Les Miserables, says, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”  To love another person is to see the face of God. Victor Hugo, Les Miserables quote SPIRITUAL BUTTONGod is love and we only need to see love to see God.  May you see love wherever you are looking, even if you don’t happen to be looking for love.

POEM: Awe The Deference In The Whirled

He said
She said
You seem full of yourself
Or full of something
As I would
Decidedly be
Rather mistaken
As too much for sum
Than sow scarcely perceived
In convenient lacking
A peace meal
Leaving hungry
Or crocodile tears
Without hankering
Putting oneself out
With friendly fire
And faux alike
Sew much
Wee must take in
The unconsuming whole
Hemmed in
The bind leading the bind
For if we were to a peer
As God sees us
As children sew sew proud
We’d break out
In stitches
Rather than
Go bust
At the seems
Making awe
The deference
In the whirled

This poem is about living largely into the grandiosity and wonder in which our souls are made.  I have been accused on occasion of being full of myself.  I just see this as being me — albeit really me!  I see one of the major forms of social control in modern, so-call civilization as keeping people small.  This oftentimes passes for humility.  I suspect that as many times as not, the offense people commit against God and their nature is living much smaller than for which they were designed.   I suspect that as many times as not, when someone expects someone else to stay “in their place,” it is less out of a desire for high morality than maintaining a predictable and unintimidating (also read uninspiring) environment that conveniently benefits their own status quo.  Fully alive human beings are going to have an overflowing and even overwhelming quality that can be intimidating to those trying to hang onto a tightly ordered, small piece of real estate.  Well, the real state of being fully human involves a perpetual freshness and a range of freedom that should be challenging and hopefully inspiring to others.  Such newness incarnated in the world reveals the irrepressibly of hope, curiosity, playfulness, and creativity.  Such free range humans inescapably reflect a certain lightheartedness in the face of seemingly serious social boundaries, recognizing the often arbitrary and inhumane nature of substituting abstract rules for face-to-face human relationship.  Any dimension of newness present in humans can serve as a reminder and invitation for a fresh look into the soul of another.  Such fresh looking can help us step out of the constricting algorithms of triangulating rules and compounding conventional wisdom into a jazzy rhythm that can only be experienced by playing with a band of eccentric souls.  Such playing can cure the oh so lame and the hardening of the attitudes.  When the overwhelming awesomeness of life bumps into the brick walls and lines in the sand of any given culture, that culture better get ready to change as purveyors of life dance over purported lines and occasionally take time out to break down a brick wall.  Giving deference to awe invites a certain boldness in this whirled of ours.  And if you should find hurt in this world, may you also find a way to break out of your stitches.

POEM: More of the Sane

Going through life
Various docks said
You are just
Going through a phrase
And heeling
Wood be
Yores soon
Enough
Finally cured
Of awe
That is
Green
With envy
Of what might
Passably be
More of the sane

This poem is about the insanity of sanity.  This has less to do with the faults of the status quo — though they are myriad — than it does coming alive, infectiously alive, in a living world.  Security, in conventional wisdom, is sought through well-worn, predictable means.  Such security is based on a knowledge of order present in the world.  This is simply the triangulation of scientific facts, providing a coherent framework from which to navigate our lives. Yeah, go science!  Well, order is knot the whole of life.  Disorder is necessary for possibility, any veering from a determined course.  Order as the hole of life negates freedom, creation, and certainly most of the fun.  Of course, the point is not to create disorder, an abundance of that already exists, the point is to bring to life — that is, create — new order, more conducive and congruent with the higher and deeper orders present in creation.  This perpetual creation and recycling is sharing in the experience of what it’s like to be God, perhaps God’s greatest gift.  We are meant to play with creation, as God’s children, not be some play set for God or other humans to manipulate to their own — and our — constipated end.  Our creation is not a disorder that needs to be cured, it need only respect life by infectiously creating more life.  Such disorder is not a threat to the well-ordered physical world.  However, such disorder is a metaphysical dis-ease with existence being reduced and lived (sic) out in simply a mechanical weigh.  In truth, such disorder is a higher order that cannot be reduced to mere mechanics, lifting up the hood and fixing it.  Such disorder is the infectious need to sail life’s oceans.  Of course, this is vastly aided by abundant knowledge of shipbuilding, navigation, etc.  Even greater though, it requires a love of discovery, a love of the feel of the ocean’s wind and spray in your face, and the courage to risk the vagaries of the wild, the powerful, and the unknown.  While boldly and infectiously sailing life’s oceans may strike many as much less secure than, say, building ships for others, I strongly suspect that one of God’s deepest desires for us is to freely be the captains of our own lives.  However exquisitely we may craft tools for others, God does not desire that we simply be tools for others — that would deny God’s exquisite craftsmanship.  God is a crafty one, peering behind the veil of indeterminacy, which many consider a disorder itself.  This thorniness behind creation results in much anguish and pain, the inescapable fareness of a free life.  The thorny crown atop God’s craftiness is unparalleled, except perhaps among humans, made in God’s image, where an irrepressible willingness to pain the prize is billed in.  May your inborn desire to create be guided by an abiding respect for life and it’s infectious nature seeking know cure.

POEM: Attorney General Edwin Meese III

I know of a man I never met
A foe of mine, I can only bet
A very close impersonal friend
To my unknown needs he’s supposed to tend
To rehabilitate me from what to what
Maybe he’s a pure-bred and I’m only a mutt
We make quite a pair
‘cept it’s me in the pound
Yet he’s always around
A thousand miles away
Yet I can hear his voice
“If charged you are guilty”
“If hungry its your choice”

I wrote this poem in 1987 while imprisoned for my epic failure to register for the military draft.  Below is a copy of the actual handwritten poem.  I had the original taped on my office wall near my desk for years.

Draft registration was reinstated by President Jimmy Carter as a response to the Russians invading Afghanistan.  Seems to me that invading Afghanistan would have been punishment enough.  We had the opportunity to learn such as lesson later — or not.  President Ronald Reagan, after breaking a campaign promise to abolish draft registration, continued it.  I was in the first batch of young men subject to this new law in 1980.  I spent the entire decade sparring with the world’s greatest military superpower, with a couple of years of probation and community service ending in 1989 — like I need the federal government to sentence me to community service!  Out of the millions of young men in violation of this Military Selective Service Act, less than a dozen were convicted of such flagrancy; all were public in their opposition.  Seems pretty pathetic for a so-called superpower.  I didn’t learn my lessen.

I feel no need for vindication, but I do feel like I have now lived through a full cycle of history, and history is on my side, if you believe in sides, that is.  While assuring my incarceration to make sure that I wasn’t around to not defend our homeland, the U.S. was training and equipping their version of freedom fighters, the likes of Osama bin Laden and the lesser known Frank N. Stein.

This poem is about President Ronald Reagan’s Attorney General, Edwin Meese III.  Though there was a lot of competition, Ed Meese was only clearly beat out as the most pathetic administration crony by James Watt, Secretary of the Department of Interior, which Mr. Watt, in his signature suicidal hatred of government, wanted to abolish; though it’s still not entirely clear whether it was the department or the environment he wanted to destroy.  Ed Meese was infamous for the two sayings recounted in the last two lines of my poem.  In an astounding disavowal of the U.S. Constitution, Mr. Meese, claimed that most suspects can be rightly assumed to be guilty.  Well, it’s not like he was the overseer of federal and constitutional law — sheesh!  The other statement, out of the jurisdiction of even his ignorance, was that if people are  hungry in America, it’s their choice.  When I heard this, I could have swore that his little round belly shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.  Well, OK, it wasn’t his belly full of jelly.

I’ve made my choice, and 28 years later I’m still hungry for justice…

Attorney General Ed Meese III POEM

POEM: Megabus Late

The loco bus
Was barely running
Trafficking in creep after creep
At Lake & Michigan
It was sink or swim
Facing too soon departed
To be won or lost
By foot
Right, left, right, left, right, left, right
Miraculously walking on Water St.
Run
Run forced
Run
Will it be
Decided by a minute minute
No bus in site
Faded to stay
In Chicago another day
Only then realizing
The line I had crossed
As pre-sumptuously late
Other poor soles
As per usual waiting
Fore the Toledo Megabus
Mega-late

This poem emanates from my trip earlier this summer out to Iowa.  This poem is from the last of four legs of a Megabus trip.  As it turns out, two of the four buses broke down and had to replaced with regular tour buses.  This poem is about the serendipity of things not always working out as planned.  Oddly, it never occurred to me that the bus I was racing to on foot would be late.  While the bus ended up being two hours late, this was much better than missing the bus by mere minutes!  What a beautiful thing that a bus being two hours late is a cause for celebration!  I am a big fan of serendipity.  As a recovering professional planner, I have spent much of my life planning to “make things happen.”  Fortunately,  I have witnessed so many times in my life that my plans not turning out as I liked turned out even better.  As I have been known to say: God never gives me what I want; God gives me something much better!  My daughter now parrots back to me the saying: If you want to make God laugh, tell God your plans.  More recently, you might find me repeating the Niels Bohr quip: “Prediction is difficult, especially about the future.”  Life is what happens while your making other plans. John Lennon quote SPIRITUAL BUTTONThough perhaps John Lennon said it best: “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.”  May your life be overflowing with wonderful surprises.