POEM: The Next Best President

Victory lies
In the wanton
To be a sitting president
Existentially unable to take a stand
As a wizard behind the bully pulpit
Meaning only
Curtains for US
A commandeered
In chief smitten
Buy the status qouteth
Juggling interest
In a-moral bankruptcy
Issuing debt sentences
Wile balderdashing dreams
In compromising positions
Poll dancing
For hard one
Elections
In feckless cockiness
If only
Too covet to term
Any chide or promise
The next won’s problem
And if such a state of the union
Bares an infantile posterity
Too whatever
Extant illegitimate
In the victory lies
The spoils

With this poem, I grudgingly join the charade sometimes referred to as Presidential election season.  Unfortunately, it is rarely too early to say that the next commander-in-chief of the world’s largest military superpower will not bring us peace.  If you want to join the truly delusional, give them a Nobel Peace Prize before they do anything to not earn it!  The good news is that the system is not broken.  The System Was Never Broken It Was BUILT That Way - POLITICAL BUTTONThe bad news is that the system is fixed!  Electoral politics, particularly the farther you go up the ladder, has a limited range of possible options.  This simply means that the leadership we get is tightly constrained to the powers that be, the status quo.   Electoral politics is akin to changing the system from within, using presumptuously representative democracy garnered through elections and direct means (think money and status) of influencing such alleged representatives.  Non-electoral politics is akin to changing the system from outside the standardly sanctioned tools of democracy.  Protest beyond the law is not departure from democracy; it is essential to it Of course, these two ways of being politically active are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, non-electoral politics is simply a more holistic way of changing the body politic.  For example, I would encourage people to vote.  It doesn’t take much time and it makes some difference.  Let your representatives know directly from you what you want from them.  Ask for what you want.  However, if we rely only on electoral politics to meet the needs and demands of the people, the 99%, then we should expect to be sorely disappointed.  My view is that politicians are largely akin to the rigging on a sailboat, and they will ultimately go largely wherever the wind blows.  Speaking into the captain’s ear may be considered proper protocol, but this is largely reserved for a privileged few who can cancel out voices heard from the masses from dinghies or from people who are overboard.  My goal is to change the political winds.  Part of power is the ability to define or frame the questions we ask. The greatest mistake of the movement has been trying to organize a sleeping people around specific goals. You have to wake people up first -- Malcolm X quote POLITICAL BUTTON The answers we get depend profoundly on the questions we ask!  Oftentimes, wee have to take such power, not simply ask for it.  Movements like Black Lives Matter or Occupy Wall Street have been successful at manifesting such power.  “The 1%” and “the 99%” are now part of our lexicon, framing the way we view the world and molding the questions we ask.  The simple and persistent assertion that black lives matter has thrown a wrench into the largely invisible (to white people) machine of white supremacy.  One of the greatest tools of the powers that be is the power of distraction.  The insistence that large movements have a detailed set of demands is central to this playbook.  As if the powers that be simply overlooked these huge injustices (yes) that could be legitimately be attacked on multiple fronts and they are waiting (stalling) to jump into action.  Truth is on the side of the oppressed. Malcolm X quote POLITICAL BUTTONWhat part of “Stop Wall Street from robbing us,” or blacks crying out “Stop killing us,” don’t they understand?!  The powers that be are not stupid, simply shrewd.  They will do everything in their power to distract us, divide us, and if need be, conquer us with violence, exposing their morally bankrupt and anti-democratic foundations.  Of course, the people pushing back on the lies of the powers that be exposes the veneer of civility and democracy that so-called respectable governments need to function.  All Truth Passes Through Three Stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. --Schoepenhauer quote POLITICAL BUTTONThis was central to Gandhi’s political strategy.  As paraphrased in the Movie, Gandhi: “What you cannot do is accept injustice — you must make the injustice visible. The function of a civil resister is to provoke a response, and we will continue to provoke until they respond or they change the laws. It will not be over if they arrest me, or if they arrest a thousand people…it is not only generals who know how to run campaigns! They are not in control — we are. That is the strength of civil resistance.”  May we hold firm to the truth, “satyagraha,” and be patient as the details will follow.

They can cut all the flowers, but they can never stop the spring -- Pablo Neruda quote POLITICAL BUTTON

POEM: Free Verse

You are trying
Too figure out
Perhaps even singularly a verse
Paying sum game
Never getting
A head
Dis integrating
As a metaphysical meting
Of meter and anti-meter
Unmoved
Object
And unstoppable farce
With unending meanings
Crying
Help
Lessly under stand
In during a sublime accost
The prize of free verse
Only getting what
You pay for

This poem is about the difficulty inherent in understanding most poetry.  There is little doubt that most of my poetry is — sit down for this one — difficult too under-stand.  My poetry niche of puns, word plays, metaphors mixing, and parallel, interweaving narratives dancing in tension, calls for the exertion of effort to unlock its treasures.  That good things require effort is a paramount law of life exceeded only greatly by the law of grace, that life and its goodness are even available to us at awe.  Poets learn both of these laws well under the tutelage of muses of most any sort.  You get what you pay for.  But don’t look too deep or you may very well get way more than you bargained for!

May you plumb the depths and scale the heights of artists looming a bout, and may you find more than mere scraps…

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: A Wrench In The Machine

He was having one of those lives
Where he woke up
Only to find himself
A wrench in the machine
Threw and threw
Putting his whole life into question
What kind of tool are you?

This poem was triggered by a recent conversation with my lawyer about a pending criminal mischief charge (for stickering poles downtown Toledo in the criminal justice district with stickers reading “JUSTICE FOR DANNY BROWN .COM”). In this conversation, I used the metaphor of a wrench in the machine. There is a growing realization in my life that jail time is in my destiny. Eugene Debs, perhaps said it best in his statement to the judge prior to his sentencing for resistance, stating:

Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free. [see full speech here]

Quite a few years ago, I had a dream. In this dream, there was an image that has stuck with me: I was dancing effortlessly amidst the huge, moving cogs and gears of a giant machine. I was unhurt and at peace, even joyful. This image reminds me of the possibility of being at peace in the dance with the machine. Of course, this image does not include the pain and death of being ground up in the machine, a reality every moment. I believe that the best meshing of these two realities is to practice disciplines cultivating joyful dancing as we throw our whole beings into resistance of the machines of death and into the reawakening of the deadened souls who find necessity in siding with death.

Power requires consent. Our consciousness of this helps free us to choose to better align with the forces of life than the forces of death. My unofficial motto is “Screw ’em,” as modeled by the character Col. William Ludlow, played by Anthony Hopkins, in the movie, Legends of the Fall. This may seem unduly negative, or even juvenile, to some; but, the impulse to withdraw consent from unjust authority is divine. While such rebellion may only be a first step, it is a necessary first step to confront the powers that be and to speak truth to power. Either way, without consent, aka complicity, humans cannot multiply their worldly power beyond their own, short, God-given reach. People do bad things, though having their reach limited to a relatively small human scale mitigates the worst of it. When living a human-scale existence we find our kin within grasp — a grasp of hands, minds and hearts. This is enough. To want more, is to trade our humanity for mere stuff. Consent and complicity is required for technologies of death to persist, whether they be armaments or corporations. Let us examine our lives for where they are forged as tools, not as artisans and creators made in the image of God, but as artifacts to be bought and sold. Let us withdraw our consent to such dehumanization and create a joyful dance in which all can freely participate. May you be joyful in your resistance.

POEM: The Piper Plays On

The piper plays on
Paid or unpaid
Don’t wait until
The last song
To dance

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POEM: Empty Plates With Dancing Tales

Empty Plates With Dancing Tales

A crowd gathers
A performer spins
A dozen plates on poles
Like angels dancing on pinheads
How many are possible?!
Worthy of a few coins
Fore a collection of small bills
[Unmarked except by bankers]
Gathered wear
One’s head might normally be
South versus North
An animal magnetism
Whose gravity is unequaled
And might be considered
Un-slavery to sum
A spectacle to most
Providing little food for belly
Or thought
Still
Within arms reach
Yet outside rapt attention
Against the wall
Even rarer
A woman’s plate
Holding earthly delights
From seasons passed
A cache returned
From soil and toil
Yielding
A patience
Unseen by any human hospitality
As sun and seed conspire
As clearly as mud
Untrampled from above
Clan destined
To over-look
From whither
Rations aplenty
And from the gaunt let
Turn their eyes
And just
Beyond the pale
I specked
Return dimly
To one’s own moat
For a fort night
Never leaving port or ail
A thousands channels to sea
What can’t be seen everyday
Every day
Never the less
The woman sews
Yet another see’d
Acquainted with empty plates
And those by which continents are divided
She undertakes the tectonic shift
In udder silence
As the upper crust
Takes
Up
The mantle
Picturing itself free
Ingeniously framed
Buy empty plates
With dancing tales

I have long been fascinated by the often sharp and surreal contrasts between the inane and the meaningful.  In post-modern times, it seems that inane distractions are reaching all-time highs on a daily basis.  Still, the generous forces of nature and creativity counter such head-bobbing and rubber-necking with constant access to simple and awesome pleasures to participate in as co-creators.  In this poem, growing and eating one’s own food is that tectonic shift that will change the world, though perhaps at an imperceptibly slow pace to all but those with the largest perspectives.  I am grateful that it is more than possible to surf such tectonic shifts and still be well grounded!

Also, in case you missed it, I choose a woman to represent those connected with the forces of creation.  Women do most of the work in the world, including most of the underpaid and unpaid work in the world.  We all owe a debt to them.  THANK YOU!

Poem: Wordless Dancing

Wordless Dancing

by Top Pun

If I told you that I’ve figured it out
You probably shouldn’t believe me
But, if by chance, you find me dancing
You need not ask me why
Simply discover what makes you dance
And dance!
Then, if our paths shall cross again
We may dance together
In that place where there are no words


I wrote this mystical poem, Wordless Dancing, first as an attempt to describe a parting of ways; but, in writing this poem, I discovered that in a deeper mystical way, that living authentically could very well lead to joining up again, if it is meant to be; and if it is meant to be, that joining up again with the good, that is, what is meant to be.  This poem represents part of the common everyday struggle to “figure out” the world, other people, and what they may need.  However, it dawned on me that by discovering and living that which makes one dance, the rest doesn’t really matter that much, or at least is out of one’s control.  In the end, or perhaps along the journey, if two or more people come together dancing, then getting caught up in what the other person is doing or needs is not so important, and dancing together need not be described (or may not even be describable) but merely experienced.  And as much as we influence one another, our own ability to dance freely and authentically is perhaps the best hope to bring about dancing freely and authentically and others.  I find this theme of differentiating oneself, finding oneself, and relating to others, creating authentic community, a rich theme.  It strikes me that a great part of wisdom is being able to dance both while alone and with others.  I am attracted to the mystical and wordless nature of poetic strivings, meditating upon that which is paradoxical, at least apparently paradoxical, and finding some synchronicity or synthesis.  It seems that such meditations are infinite and unending, in the sense that life is a journey and not resolved once and for all, except perhaps in death, which of course is not normally seen as life.  I like the image of dancing because it connotes freedom in a process that is flowing and beautiful, and least that is when some people dance; or least it can be beautiful to the one dancing even if it doesn’t appear beautiful to someone observing the dancer.  Dancing also seems to connote joy and engagement in the world as opposed to an outwardly motionless type of meditation.  This seems to embody a more naturally contagious way of being.  Hopefully, in this short poem, you will find rich meditations that will help you articulate better in words that which you feel and experience, and bring you mystical experiences, in that place where words are not only inadequate but unnecessary.  Well, that ends the rather lengthy, wordy dissertation on a short poem that perhaps should be allowed to stand on its own two feet; or better yet, dance.