POEM: Owed to XL

Owed to XL

Something irresistible
Drug from Canada
That must be some wick-ed shit!
What the “eh”
For the land of the free to be
Sold to the highest
Bitter
Everything must go!
“It’s going to happen anyway”
A juggernaut of lemmings
Full of subtle plunder statements
And generations of litter-gation
Brought a bout
By agitators wanting
Neither change nor dollars
Though perhaps
Some green back
And a few bucks
To run free
For if
Not
Just
Chain me
To the pipeline
To the prison
Of another’s drug habit
That makes cents for them
A million caliber fire arm
Into our vain
And heart land
Across to be borne
Again and again
Until we fine
The dose
That kills
It’s called “XL”
As we have a fit
For our over-sized ambitions
Though might
As well
Be one size fits none
Baggy pantsed gangstas
Stuffing their pants
With the stuff legends are made of
Getting under Mother Earth’s kin
And running out
Of patients
And ways to heel
Left in the mutter
There goes the neighborhood
Wondering if
There’s a belt big enough
To hold up
These fuels

I wrote this poem today, at the prompting of yet another fuel fool brandishing the inevitability of the XL pipeline and exploitation of the Canadian boreal forest tar sands strip mining.  Even more shameful, it was a “scientist” claiming metaphysical inevitability.  We don’t HAVE TO strip mine the earth of every fossil fuel to live a good life — in fact, destroying the earth is absolutely incompatible with the good life.

I’m sick and tired of people saying that the Canadian tar sands will be developed with or without the XL pipeline running through US.  It’s just another lame version of the “If I didn’t do it, somebody else would” excuse for not taking responsibility for your actions.  It’s not that complicated.  If your actions are destroying the planet, then you have a responsibility to stop.  Then, you can start working on changing the rest of the world.  It may very well be the exact opposite of leadership to say that you won’t do something until everybody else does it.  I might say that we’ve become a nation of sheep and lemmings, but that would be an insult to sheep and lemmings within whom the moral agency to save the planet does not reside!  We can continue to kick the can down the road, but eventually, it will be Mother Nature kicking our can…

3D POEM: My Twisted Uni-verse (on a Mobius Strip)

This 3D POEM, My Twisted Uni-verse, may very well be the first poem ever written to be read on a Mobius Strip, made from a plain strip of paper with a half twist and joined at the ends, forming a bounded surface with only one side and one edge.  While the Mobius strip appears to have two sides, it actually has only one.  If you draw a line through the center of the Mobius strip without lifting the pencil off the paper, you mysteriously come back to the starting point but on the seemingly opposite side of the paper. Though some may think that they have met-a-physically impossible poem, this poem proves once and for awe that one side fits all.  This poem could be in the endless running for the coolest poem ever metaphor.  Here you can download the poem and instructions for printing and assembling this 3D POEM, My Twisted Uni-verse, on a Mobius strip.

Here is the poem in the much flatter, and much more boring, two-dimensional, virtual format:

START
My twisted uni-verse
Another Dan poem
Of a certain Rutt
A parent
Chaos
From the mine
Of a loving creator
And boundless art
Fathered
Strangely hollowed
By sum
Figure eight
Somehow fallen
Belying a symbol of infinity
Like some dodo’s flight of flimsy
Oar a Cardinal’s mind numb-er
Which holds no water
Wringing out
The tinkle and knell we’re in
Tintinnabulating K-9 jingles
The perpetually twisted calibrated
By nothing but
A bottomless equation
Divided by zeroes
In bogus denominations
Their value lying in fallowing the one
Scaling up to eternity
Or we’re all askewed
Yet inexplicably abstaining
From inner course
Where two become one
Long after one becomes two
Giving arise
Too
One’s third pupil
On the blink
Of such an incredible faculty
Agape
Unimaginable
To be
This school
Taut cursive
In a printsly world
A grade steeped
By advanced degrees
Such ascendancy
Offering eminent danger
Infinitesimally close
To sheer tear
Like shingles to a hommé
Con fronting flailing grades
How report a card
Where    so oblique
In all afield
Un-reckon-izable dimensions
3-D and then some
F’s thrown in
For good measure
Long the weigh
In consonant terms
Amidst an implausible dream
Of hitting AWOL
Having bolted
The ghetto of calculus
In the face of
A never ending Mo’ be us trip
That blings true
Where knot knowing
What to do with it
Effacing the feeble mined
Less pressing than a stack of bills
I’m patient to pay the flee
Only too fined
The wholly frail
Of hospitality
Having gotten aweigh
Unfounded
Hoodwinked
By sum comical
Met a physician
With a glean in his I
Leaving me
Duped up
And swallowing deludes down
In reality getting bent
Awe askant
Know longer
Mused
By the funny paper
Only peering as washed out
Two dimensional characters
In a whirled series
Remanding one
Of a duplicitous cell
Hopping to escape
In sum count ’em leap
With singular energy
Pack it
Heat
Of the pauper caliber
Miss taken
As if
Over a barrel
Stock piling weepin’s
Fauster than light
Long the way
A formula won raze
The devil in the detailing
Dashing drivers
And hopes
Un-car-ing
Off course
As oft
To the races
All that’s mind foiled
In a moving finish
Untouched
By scurry-less-ness
And a void
Some alien oversight
Or an other wizard-in-ski
Sow commanding fruit
Fully multiplying
Product placement
And elite divisions
Leaving us wanton
The winners circle
As vultures in compassing
Like sum gallop poll
Leading us to thirst place
Where life is a breeze
And as you might
Have gust
O so puffed up
Strung out
Like flying a kite
In the mettle
Of lighten-ing all a bout
That too for one sail
Err no’ing
One side fits all
A might he
Fortress is
De-moated too
In-F-able
Fore letters, words
Life unabridged
Elude to a kiss
Bye lingual
Surpassing prose
That speak easy
In two languages
Simply sed
A hearty dos upon ya (only slightly rushin’)
One tongue
The thirst
Of paper penned
Makes ciao
Of the other
Sum arrhythmia tic
With no cure insight
For one is too
Beholden to digitalis
Waving like a palm
Just out of grasp
Trying to out fox gLove
Without feeling
Ticking off reality
Taking one’s leave
Fig mental
The commencement of quotas
Espousing a Lot of ground
To earn their salt
And pilloried remains
Left behind
Uncovering too much for modesty
Too little cloak and dagger to brag
Yet cocky enough
To embody such a nit writ
Call me ish male
An inconceivable heir about him
A leg of the journey absent
Sailing the piqued
Untoward the Moby-est RIP
Ever-multiplying wails
On this one-sided outing
Wagering on just accounting
Wading for the fork in the rowed
And columns towering
As Babble on
At least two sheets to the win
Helled together as 180 degrees twisted
In a 360 daze
Like guinea pigs
On a treadmill
In the House of Escher
M.C. for a private first class
Of puzzling Coptic allusions
Walking and talking
More like dead Egyptians
On nether side of the tip of the iceberg
Feeling under the whether
Frees us
Or wholly deserted
Left wear thou dust go
A simple noshing of teeth
Where so little smacks of dearth
For all that scant do
Everlastingly lean
On arms and alarms
Free from
Double and triple crossers
Of the finish lyin’
A bout too
Rat grace
Just working to get too
The other side
Like you halve two
When mirrorly
Won for all
Soully routed
In sum final resolution
An attainment for all ours
In know jumping too
Conclusions
Of such curtains seamingly applausible
Yet knot de-terminus
To know end
Bringing you to
Cave
Of wonders
Just saying
O pun says me
FINISH (or knot)

Please download, print and assemble your own 3D version of this POEM, My Twisted Uni-verse, on a Mobius strip.

POEM: On a Roll!

In my write mind
I am on a roll
Plain and simple
And there is nothing butter
On that!

I haven’t published a poem in a while.  This is because this week the muse has had other plans for me.  I found myself working on an epic poem.  I soon realized that the nearly infinite reservoir of material and possibilities destine this poem to be of epic proportions.  In the midst of the rising poetic genius, the above short poem emerged.  This is a poet’s poem about being in the zone.  Of course, the metaphors can be extended to any of life’s moments of peek experience into its awesomeness.  May you find yourself on a roll soon…

POEM: High Cost of Employment

Despite the high cost of employment
It is still quite popular

This short poem is a takeoff or elaboration of Will Rogers’ infamous statement: Despite the high cost of living, it’s still quite popular.  As wage slavery continues largely unabated, many are confronting the seemingly wild proposition of whether it’s worth being employed!  Surely, millions of Americans in two-income households have concluded that it just isn’t worth it for the second person to work.  By cutting childcare, transportation and other cash costs, as well as cutting the emotional costs of unsatisfying work, many people have experienced enhanced quality of life.  The trends to increasing self-employment, contract work, or voluntary part-time will likely receive a boost with Obamacare offering more access to health care that is not dependent on large employers.  Similarly, small business entrepreneurship will likely accelerate.

Personally, I have found that being dangerously underemployed is quite wonderful!  I have grown to appreciate the value of time over money, and the profound freedom to pursue my passions, most of which are not particularly monetizable.  My need to monetize is governed by the organizing principle of: for every dollar I don’t spend is a dollar I don’t have to earn.  I regularly ponder the possibilities of “hiring myself” to do tasks that I would otherwise pay cash for, and often get satisfaction in a variety of such tasks.  Cooking is a good example of this, where I can eat more cheaply and more nutritiously by preparing my own foods.

As workplace dissatisfaction is endemic, and employees commonly feel dehumanized, the push to finding fulfilling alternatives will likely continue.  Hopefully, this can help transform work into a more meaningful enterprise for millions of people.  May we all find joyful work and abundant re-creation.

POEM: Rutherford

Rutherford was a man
Whose cruelty was only
Acceded by his ignorance
And all kinds of people
Parted with his presence
A gift to know one
Leased of awe himself
And if you ran into him
In all likely hood
It was he
Who ran into you
A cunning certainty
His very name meaning
Synonymous with first and last

This poem fits into my growing genre of mini-biographies or beginnings of novels.  First, nothing personal to anyone named Rutherford: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

I picked the name Rutherford because of its association in the mind of this punster with ‘ruthless’, or in the case, ‘ruther.’  Also, since the name Rutherford can be used as either a first or last name, the last line of the poem was born.  We have all probably known someone whose negative affect on people was consistent, exceeded only by their lack of awareness of this affect.  Unfortunately, their cruelty may have a certain cunning to it, where they make a point of running into you, or most any other nameless rabble that suits them at the moment.  This poem is unusual for me in that it really doesn’t even contain a seed of hope that is typically present in my poems.  This speaks to the reality that some people’s dominant role in life seems to be serving as a cautionary tale for others.  This too is a gift, albeit not a most pleasant one.  Fortunately, hope springs eternal, even amidst regiments of cautionary tales.

POEM: Heaven Unearth

Heaven Unearth

Place
Your hand in mine
And I will
Skip
The rest
Of the whirled
My feat barely
Touching
The ground
Where heaven and earth meet
Together
Giving thanks
For earthly existence
And your heavenly
Place
Saying a prayer
For the forever lust
And grace for awe
That is right

Alright people, it’s only a week away from Valentine’s Day!  I promise to help fulfill my dream that loved ones everywhere get a love poem.  So, will you be doing your part on Valentine’s Day?  You are free to pawn any of my love poems for a little inspiration.  Here are some suggested (only somewhat suggestive) love poems: Stolen Glances, Our Weekend Away, Relationship Advice, Unconvincing, and Love Tag.  As I have been prone to say: I want to inspire you; that is, I want to breathe you in!  I will craft a poem suitable, or perhaps unsuitable, for my sweetheart, an audience of won!  WARNING: a Valentine’s Day without poetry may put you at risk for settling for prose…

POEM: Eying Them Apples

Eying Them Apples

From his firm bed rock
Of unassailable logic
However earnest
He couldn’t quite grasp love
At home in more gossamer venues
Wafting
Teasingly just
Out of reach
Not able to pick up
Love’s plucky de-meaner
From afar
Only willing
To confer
Its first fruits freely
In an uncertain intimacy
Beyond accost
Of logic’s gripping tail
As if
Tolled
To shake down some dog
Only to get
It all backwards
As his skepticism had made him
Hard for so long
Until he could know longer
Get it
Up sow
Hi
Bye and bye
As the apple of his eye
Disembarks his safety zone
Leaving him in his
Free
Fall
Out of his tree
Her bounty
Mere droppings
Too his unyielding countenance
For baring
Whatever
Specter
To be
Sow full of crop
Aura leased
Scent-a-mentality
Beckoning his wallow
His Adam’s apple
Like an overzealous bobby
Robbing him
As swill be the case
Of reel nourishment
While fishing on dry land
Where pomes unsurprising
Are all rotting
And naught
For giving
Worming one’s heart
Arboring thoughts
So shady
When looking up
As some things are
Between you and the stars
Sheerly facing
Unremitting awning
And sow what
Gives

This is yet another poem addressing my common themes of the head versus the heart, logic sequestering itself from love.  Unassailable logic, at the expense of love, seems to fit aptly with this poem’s prime metaphor, from the Bible: picking the apple from the tree of knowledge, setting off perpetual tension and confusion regarding different “fields” of knowledge.  The many fruits from the garden of Eden may still be available, but we have become to smart or clever for our own good.  A fixation on logic and its inevitable legalisms locks us out from accessing these higher fruits.  We end up refusing to trade up the seeming certainty and safety of our water-tight legalistic systems for the supra-rational fruits of the spirit: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)  Gracefully, legalisms bind themselves up an self-destruct, not being rooted in the life-giving forces of the spirit.  Unfortunately, the crumbling of legalistic systems can still be very dangerous as they fall.  This is often made worse by last-ditch efforts to keep patching such systems with ever-more sophisticated legalisms.  Nonetheless, as they fall, and we can’t take it anymore, we may just hear the perennial call from the spirit world: Sow what gives…

POEM: As The Tao Plunges

As The Tao Plunges

I seek boundless horizons
Beyond what can be billed
What you can have
Fore walls
No bull work
A retainer for passable living
A cistern to dammed dreams
Reining upon you
Only knot to be brothered with
As some look out
Your winnows
Punctuating all that you can
A fort
Out to sea
A veritable glass menagerie
To one’s peers
Pipe dreams
Leading too
A fire place
Your hanker chief
Scant comfort you
As most daze
Facing a cold hearth
An exhausting flue
And ashen remains
Yet why carp it
When you can have
Your Parkay® floors
For butter or worse
As you slip
Pitter pottering a bout
Your life cast
Dangerously close to kiln
For my ran some
I seek the earth’s bounty
To rise up
To meet my feat
And when I fall
I shall look up
Sharing a ceiling with the stars
No guise worrying
A bout some prostrate iffy canopy
For without
You might lose your marble’s
Stony ledges looking good
As the Tao plunges
And to the great abyss plumb it
To one’s own depth

This poem explores the relationship between the commonplace cubicles of the workplace, both literally and figuratively, and the great abyss singing its siren song, daring skilled sailors to plumb it, risking one’s own depth.  A life, well, lived, requires effort.  Beyond that, I’m not a big fan of work.  This is particularly true in modern America, pawning itself off as the pinnacle of Western civilization.  You’d think that the timeless questions of humanity had been answered once and for all, and all that you had to do is buy (and sell) one of the many great brands available.  Well, in my book, brands are for cattle.  Plus, my preference for vegetarianism leaves me with little use for cattle — or sheep — or chickens.  These days, people expend huge amounts of energy, and cash, to dress themselves up with others’ brands, defining themselves by what they own — or what owns them — by what they consume — or by what consumes them!  The fact that many people will pay extra for essentially advertising another’s brand shows the vacuousness of our own unique lives.  Gee, at least get paid to be a walking billboard.  And as I like to say, if you are going to sell yourself, at least get a good price!  It seems that living vicariously through someone else’s image, identity, celebrity, or sheer familiarity in pop culture, commands more value than undamming our own dreams.

The Tao is a masterful critique of the superficial.  The Tao in Chinese history and culture plays, perfectly synchronously with itself, a balancing role in contrast to Confucianism with its focus on set rules, set roles, and the centrality of propriety.  Unfortunately, Western civilization suffers from the worst of both worlds.  Modern America lacks both the harmony and balance of the Tao, and suffers a sociopathy, even nihilism, that Confucianism holds in check.  Perhaps America can harness its restlessness to throw off the dehumanizing forces of greed and undue focus on economic necessity.  The Tao offers a vision of the rest that gives rise to all.  The Tao is more than serendipitously short.  The Tao is concise, poetic, and sparse on words precisely because reality and relentlessly emerging life cannot be reduced to any imperial plan assuring a particular outcome.  It surely cannot be reduced to a brand!  The awesome abundance of nature’s bounty and the beautiful openness of human experience invites us, even begs us, into continual re-birth and re-creation.  All of creation groans for our freedom and participation in its bounty.  So, if it should seem that your life is ever in the toil it, be mindful as the Tao plunges, bypassing technological fixes and vexations, your dammed dreams may very well be unplugged.

POEM: Jumping From The Ledger

Rejoin the rat race
And all that chasten
Daring to make
A rodent in the machine
Which is all the rage
The bounty on your ahead
A golden hamster wheel
Retard after 50 years
Left dumb
Lips pursed
For so many years
Metering out your daily pillage
From shallow pools
Having waded for your due appointments
Not with standing
That grim reaper having
Sacrificed so much
For what
Spoils
As prophet in titles
Epitaphs
Ridden in stone
Forcing loved ones loanly
To visit what you once were
Suckling on memories
Dreams stoned
Starving
To full
Fill awe that is hollowed
Having
Lived once
Now never more knew
Daze passed
And by what means recaptured
How sew frayed
Of day’s passion
And once with
In is capable rejoinder
To finish this sentience
And not mirror animation
A resounding echo
No longer revere berating
In empty chambers
Wanton listless solutions
Having dropped the bawl
Bored stiff of what lame meant
Drawling on passed experience
Yakking on a bout
Scaling steep mountains
Out of mole hills
Trying
To get your goat and make you want to yacht
And in the end unmoved
Buy the blubbering of beached wails
Strewn by brown shirts and matching knows
Muted lives
Sullen everything
You can possibly think
Trading marks
And in proprietary secrets
May clinch some laconic inc.
Be rift of checks and balances
And should you withdraw
The hush of money
Prepare for it getting even
Silencer
Yet before your time
Sing
Like just
Another grammy
Inexplicably quite
Never herd again
A spoke in word
Unburden some
To pronounce
In that speakeasy of freedom
Drunk with poise in abating
From a salutary utter
After which you could hear a heart murmur
That could with stand a beating:
You can have your bigger cages
And longer chains
Be damned the shareholder value
of Cages and Chains, Inc.
I will jump from the ledger
Even if you won’t
Searching for the perfect pitch
Surpassing everlusting sirens
Till a gentler rock
Finding my voice
In a free Fall
Fallowing a summer
Fueled by that eternal spring
Hoping for more than allege
And giving know pause
To winters and losers
Sharing the good news
Freely
Never put out
To pastor

This poem is a reflection on the rat race of state-of-the-art employment, where even winning the rat race probably signifies that you are just a rat more than anything else.  Even though the productivity evangelists tout great success, the more than tripling of material wealth during my lifespan, has done little net good (mostly trapped people in nets) for workers.  With the wealth of experience and history, it doesn’t take a prophet to understand that ever-growing profits spells a cancerous existence in America.

Fortunately, since I quit my “regular” or “real” job, almost a decade ago, I’ve been able to live on less than what the average American would make with unemployment benefits (though I didn’t receive unemployment benefits because I quit).  I haven’t received food stamps or other government “welfare” assistance.  I have not been a very successful taker, with my frugal leanings and pride in autonomy.  Though Republicans have tried hard in Ohio, under Obamacare, I may not be able to keep my uninsurance, ending a decade without health insurance.

At best, it seems that this increased material wealth has little to do with increased happiness.  In fact, Americans work more hours and are no more happy.  Even having to point out that working more hours doesn’t make you happier is perhaps the best illustration that the productivity police can quite effectively rely on self-enforcement!  Our minds have been so effectively colonized that other options seem barely even thinkable.  The notion that your life can actually be profoundly better living with less is heretical in capitalistic America — if such a crazy notion were even given the time of day!

It seems that Western civilization has reached a point in its existence, where workers are functionally illiterate in life, meaning that they cannot adequately articulate and effectively navigate life outside of money/wealth as their measure of value.  Newsflash potential illiterates: money isn’t everything!  As the saying goes: you can’t buy love.  And, if you can’t tell the difference between love and a comfortable home with a trophy wife, then you might be an illiterate!  Worse yet, most workplaces are better characterized as places where we sell ourselves than places where we come together for our mutual betterment.  And if you can’t tell the difference between love and selling ourselves, then you are definitely an illiterate!

In the great exchange debate of values, circulates the notion that time is money.  Capitalists have effectively dominated this debate, demanding perpetual focus on the centrality of money.  Now, you may be able to exchange your time for money.  However, money can’t really buy time, otherwise the rich would live forever!  More to the point, money can’t buy life.  Money may be able to carve out more “leisure” time — that time when you are not selling yourself — or even buy some edge of health compared to others, and perhaps increasing your lifespan.  However, no matter how effectively we manipulate our material environment, through the proxy of money, this, at best, only offers the opportunity to live, not life itself.  Our time represents this opportunity for living.  While money has an interplay with how we experience our time, the very quality of our life, it is subordinate to time.  In youthful, or just plain oblivious, denial of our limited time, i.e., eventual death, we may convince ourselves that we have more time than money.  This perception influences our judgments about the time-money exchange rate.  I suspect that the best way to reflect on this is to ask yourself which is better: to have more money than time? or, to have more time than money?  In the end, ultimately, time will win this debate.  Nonetheless, many, if not most people waste a lot of time before realizing this, that time is more important than money.

Of course, living with a lot of money or very little money may confound this realization that time is more important than money; the rich thinking that their time is founded on money because they have it, and the poor thinking that their time is dependent on money because they have very little.  This is one aspect of the destructive reality of huge income inequalities, of greed and poverty.  This confounding of reality serves well neither the rich or the poor.  Wealth and poverty are conjoined twins, seemingly destined to believe that their life is best served by the machinations of material existence, to the deficit of a more full and complete life.  Both excess and lack, especially when conjoined, can lead to fearful and alienating lives.  The rich can become disconnected, unempathetic with lack, even paranoid of losing their excess (sic).  The poor can become discouraged and desperate, lacking in the face of plenty.

The apostle John offered the simplest, though apparently quite difficult, solution to the conjoined twin fates of excess and lack, by proclaiming: “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same” (Luke 3:11).  This would put a lot of liberal think tanks out of business.  This would put a lot of conservative think tanks out of business.  In the end, thinking about such things, particularly if you are the well-clothed one with a full belly, does little to address our lack, our common fate: poverty.  Of course, this is America, so there is more than one brand of poverty: material or spiritual.  For the particularly unfortunate, you can have both brands.  Fortunately, God has the preferential option for the poor, the central tenet of liberation theology, founded by Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutierrez:

 “The preferential option for the poor is much more than a way of showing our concern about poverty and the establishment of justice. At its very heart, it contains a spiritual, mystical element, an experience of gratuitousness that gives it depth and fruitfulness. This is not to deny the social concern expressed in this solidarity, the rejection of injustice and oppression that it implies, but to see that in the last resort it is anchored in our faith in the God of Jesus Christ. It is therefore not surprising that this option has been adorned by the martyr’s witness of so many, as it has by the daily generous self-sacrifice of so many more who by coming close to the poor set foot on the path to holiness.”

The preferential option for the poor is a perspective God’s grace giving special favor to the poor.  The way that God has created reality actually favors the poor more than the rich.  This doesn’t glorify material poverty, but it recognizes that the experiences of poverty more directly connect us and open us up to the deep importance of mutual aid and genuine, caring relationships.  The poor’s very survival depends on it.  The rich are insulated from this palpable, ever-present reality of the poor.  The rich can “afford” to make the mistake of buying their way out of this deeper and more difficult (yet rewarding) way of being.  The rich are more easily fooled into thinking that they don’t need others.  The injustice maintained by the rich is that as conjoined twins, the rich twin foolishly acts as if they can do whatever they want without the other, even when faced with the heart-wrenching realities of material poverty wracking his world.  Such heartlessness is a failure at intimacy with other human beings and reality writ large.  Perhaps a better formulation of a universal constant of metaphysics for the betterment of humankind would be the directly inversely proportional relationship of material and spiritual poverty.  Of course, this would turn capitalism, and its reliance on endless greed and profit, upside down, or more aptly, right side up!  Skeptics might ask if it is possible for the rich to spiritually prosper.  This is an ancient question:

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’” (Matthew 19: 23-24)

I love the common interpretation of this passage as a reference to a gate into Jerusalem called “the eye of the needle” that was opened a night after the main gate was closed, and this gate was so small that the camel (the rich) would have to unload all of their baggage and crawl through on their knees.  Yep, Jesus was one of the greatest poets I ever metaphor!

May you live into the reality that spiritual wealth is more directly accessed with less rather than more material wealth.

 

 

POEM: Wolves in Elephants’ Clothing

Wolves in Elephants’ Clothing

Somewhat sheepishly
She whispered
Beware of wolves in elephants’ clothing
Lurking about
Only looking
Like they want
To kick some ass
Though you can skulk in style
If you have
A grand
Old party
Securing your plush seat
At the table
Loaded
With elephant guise
Rather incestual sycophants
At their I’m potentate parties
And if you are well, off
They will take you
To a tee
Spouting about
King George I and King George II
And unjust taxes
More dear than all the tea in England
And buy George, they’re not satisfied with a billion
Let alone a third
Perhaps some fresh prince all over
A newly-minted crime scene
Unseemly blind to any lackey of evolution
Yet there is no ruler
To measure their monkey business
Their trinity
Cheering with pomposity
Throwing monologues on the fire
And stalling
Having perfected the nationwide holdup
A three wring circus
And we are left
With what’s in the stall
The elephant dropping
All that is fertile
For phony fossils
Making evolution impossible
A lessen they never forget
With a mellifluousness Abel
To capture the common man
A cleanliness next to godlessness
Their hoods white
For shadowing their golden daze
In an urbane jungle
Leaving behind poor gramma
Spelling her downfall
GOP opposed to GOD
Having fallen
Down
And can’t get up
Leaving students
With nothing but a prayer
Leaving workers
With a free market they can’t afford
Leaving US
With life after death
And perhaps before birth
Still
All the wile between
Sent to our gloom
To be
Or not to be
Borne again
That is the quest in
Whether it is know buller
For in the mine to suffer
The blings
And ere rows
Of outrageous fortunes
Oar to take alms
Against a see of troubles
And by opposing thumb end
Overcoming any
Hitch
Hiking what’s left
As necessary
Sew much more than
Evolution
One of the scarce things
They can’t seem to buy
Their con science
Of what
They know longer nose
Inescapably figuring
Somehow elect by birth
Perpetual SNOBS
Where the N is usually silent
In their civil war
Inevitably impaled by their mortal compass
Spinning north and south
Feigning uprightness
Disavowing any revolution present
Captivated by fanciful futures
And realities passed
And still
What goes around
Comes around
A choice truth
Either buy
Ballads or bullets
We all have the write to choose
To ward off electioneer death

This poem is a thinly veiled anti-Republican party exposition.  Profoundly ironic, Republicans are as sure proof as you are going to find that evolution doesn’t exist, and, as Gandhi never said, “Be the lack of change you want to see in the world.”  The Republican party appears quite comfortable with greed as the primary human motivation.  Perhaps worse yet, and even more disingenuous, is the ease at which Republicans embrace anti-science views, of which anti-evolution and climate change skepticism are its hallmarks.  For the so-called religious expertise that Republicans claim, they certainly manage to brand religion as anti-science, which it need not be.  Even within the hallowed halls of religious territory, Republicans manage to bring hypocrisy to ever-new heights.  With their specialty Christianity, Republicans paint a picture of Jesus as if he were a white, suburban-living, English-speaking American, preaching some prosperity gospel.  For God’s sake, Jesus wasn’t even a Christian, he was a Jew, and a Palestinian Jew at that!  If such a poor, dark-skinned, Middle-eastern, non-English-speaking, peace-loving, giver of free health care showed up in America, the Republicans would have reserved seating at his crucifixion.  Of course, they would contract out the actual killing, though a carpenter driving in those nails would not likely be a member of the carpenters’ union.  Plus, the Republicans definitely wouldn’t bother paying a “living” wage for such low skilled tasks, however unpleasant.

The larger theme in this poem is about the tension between electoral and non-electoral politics.  The two-party duopoly of Republocrats offers only a narrow range of possibilities deemed politically feasible.  This leaves the electorate, barely even a majority of eligible voters in many elections, to ratify the predetermined candidates from a relatively narrow ideological pool.  In my view, this electoral desert leaves little room for the kind of robust responses that the current world begs.  Our slow and limited responses to climate change and energy use demonstrate this best.  Even a well-managed end of civilization as we know it is a poor substitute for saving humanity.  Of course, the “ballads or bullets” dichotomy is somewhat hyperbolic for effect.  Nonetheless, without nonviolent revolution, or much-speeded evolution, our current body politic will experience a much more violent demise.  I am rooting and working for a nonviolent revolution.  The driving force of this revolution will almost certainly originate outside formal electoral politics. As history teaches us, such robust change does not come without personal sacrifice, and it demands courage.  The Republicans would be well-advised to learn from Jesus, who showed us a different way.  And who better than Jesus would know that just because you are a carpenter doesn’t mean that you have to see everything as a nail!

POEM: I Will Join The One, There is No Other

Alone
Where is God in that?
Does salvation lie in community?
Wherever two or more gather
In character
At present will be God
Therefore, I will join the one
One who was left behind
The one who’s going places no one else wants to
The one
There is no other

This poem attempts to address the tensions between the mystical loftiness of spirituality, characterized by the elusive “oneness” present in many great faith traditions, and the palpable, practical, everyday realities of a broken and divided world.  I find this tension ever-present in the inward-outward journey.  We cannot be saved alone, as one, and be true to the demands of much larger realities, including the world we live in!  Personal purity and piety become empty in larger contexts.  One answer to this tension was demonstrated by Buddha, when he attained enlightenment and instead of “blowing out” — a literal translation of nirvana — he chose to return to earthly existence to help others on the path.  Compassion for all living beings, at the center of Buddhist living, requires developing relationships or community with one another.   Buddhists call their intentional community sangha, which includes monks or nuns, and laypeople.  Compassion is the prime characteristic developed in a relationship with The One.  This “inward” compassion is then matched with “outward” compassion, becoming whole, compassion manifest fully.  Compassionate living is most fully manifest when it enters into relationship with the most broken and divided aspects of all living beings’ realities.  Joining those “left behind” or “going places no one else wants to” represents the highest level of compassionate living.  Perhaps paradoxically, even sticking only to one’s community is a falling short.  Active spirituality, rooted in compassionate living, is ever seeking to connect with out-groups.  Spirituality inevitable creates a tension with one’s own in-groups, ever-seeking to expand, transcend, make more whole.  This is why solidarity with outcasts is so essential to building authentic community.  This is the very process where wholeness is nurtured, for both the individual, community, and beyond.  This is why I see spirituality as fundamentally counter-cultural.  Culture is what defines a particular group at any given time, with its particular norms and practices.  Spirituality pushes both cultures and individuals to be more than they are.  This is why spiritual “growth” is almost a redundancy.  The vitality and dynamism that spirituality uncovers is the very nature of life.  There is no such thing as static living — though perhaps reactionary.    The status quo and the powers that be must perpetually be engaged and redeemed, made more whole.  Jesus captured this perhaps most powerfully in his command to love your enemies.  This command, which I consider the pinnacle of spiritual genius, literally instructs us to reconcile (apparent) opposites.  Such an epic task can only be dared by developing a deep and abiding relationship with The One.  Truly, we reap what we sew!