POEM: Owed To Stormi, The Poetess

It was a dark and stormy night
The starry heavens
Replaced by blinding light
Striking as lightning
Startling awe
But the bravest
From places unseen
With undeniable power
Sow ready to rumble
Reigning like a queen
Poet, poet her, poetess
Oh my God
Correction!
On my goddess
Her super natural wind
Clears deadwood from mighty oaks
And what remains
Still
Stands
Of gentle reads
On the edge
Of the river of life
And in her wake
Sleepy souls
And well wrested
A like
Find themselves
In what might
Be called
Daylight

I wrote this poem a while back in homage to Toledo poetess, Stormi, aka Paula Blocker, who graciously hosts a poetry reading every Friday night at The Trunk, 3353 Franklin.

POEM: This Is Knot Poetry — When Red Allowed

Waiving his red pen
He made his mute point
That spoken word is knot poetry
Like meting
Meter and anti-meter
And the invariable deconstruction of awe
As if
Employing free
Versus
The hire mind
For awe
That its worth
Save in alliteral weigh
Abut
Alas
Bringing too bare
Undisciplined obscenities uddering
As opposed to the ladder
As any won
May eye
Make this suggestive
Perhaps you’s
An unpronounceable cymbal farmerly no’in as prints
Pulling weeds
Of biblical pro portion
Fore whatever
It maybe worth
There is know space
Sandwiched
Between poetry and knot poetry
Between amateurs and prose
Knot that which isn’t
Nor which is
The wurst
I ever metaphor
Whatever
Call me
I am
An outspoken unspoken word artist
Unspellbound in my crappy weighs
And should upon
In the coming daze
Sow called poets anon meet
As shepherds to sheep affix
Due the write thing
Feel free
To shut the flock up

This poem was inspired by a blog article that a friend shared, entitled, “Spoken Word Is Not Poetry.”  My immediate response was simple: “I find it helpful to see everything as poetry.”  Of course, this is the gloriously useless mode of perception I aspire to use awe the time.  However, this poem represents a more detailed critique of the assertion that spoken word is not poetry. The author of this article pined that many readers at open mics are not trained poets and typically use free verse or prose poetry.  I must confess: I am an untrained poet, except by my tutelage under various muses.  Further, the often quick use of vulgarities offended the author’s parently higher sensibilities.  I strongly suspect that the work of any poet or poets is never complete as truth in word, as opposed to doing the deed in life, because life is F’ing ineffable.  Claiming that spoken word is performance art, which it is, seemed to be a means to taint spoken word artists as something other than poets. I certainly don’t mind being seen as more than a poet!  I wonder if the author would consider a novelist not a novelist if they read their work aloud — that would be a novel idea!  I related to the author’s point that an important part of poetry is the relationship of the reader to the written word without being nailed down by a verbal representation (or layering upon it performance art).  Most of my poems are best read silently, to allow for the multiple interpretations and meanings to brew within the reader; this process is at the heart of my poetry.  I find it difficult to read many of my poems out loud because I must pick one way to read the poem which inevitably shortchanges the beauty of dancing multiple meanings.  I must admit that when it comes to my poetry I am conveniently an anarchist, formally rejecting socially constructed boundaries of form. I do not doubt that the many fine forms of poetry developed over centuries are worthy of attention.  Nonetheless, I consider deflating pretensions as fodder for my poetic vocations.  If this itself seems pretentious, please feel free to take a meta view of my sow-called poems as self-parody.  At the end of my daze, I want parity for awe.

POEM: Promedica My Ass — Owed To Branding

Logos used
Too mean
Know ledge
Like that age owed ad vice
Would you jump off a bridge
If every won ails did
As in sayin’
Bye your good will
As money oozes from the non-prophet, health care (sic) system
The sores of philandering philanthropy
Well, come to PR medica
An unholy owned subsidiary
Of Tourette’s Industries
You will swear
Buy them
Weather you want to or not
Their marketing deportment is
As good as goaled
As black as poets inc
Greasing their wills
Stuck with irresistible pitch
As verbally contracted
Not worth the pay per
Printed upon
Yet this awe
Will in deed
Make it passable to live
As resistance is feudal
And being
Penned
Is what poets due
Indubitably
Sow branded
As live stock
For tolled
Too get a rise
The Tao jones
Working in our flavor
Over and over and over
Un-till bank rolled
In a dark ally
Buy and buy
Hour justifiable salivation
Attending too in trap meant anon
Agin and agin and agin
Fore the yoke is on-us
Awe the more
Fore the fire brand
Not with standing
In a flesh of genius
Is incensed
As won red scent
Becomes too
Until udderly crying out
In an unherd-of steer
I love the smell
Of nay palm
In the mourning
High noon
And too fly by night
Sullen this, sullen that
Soully worried
How irate
In some won ails size
Butt, its my skin in the game
Lonely hoping
Knot to be found
Within and without
My pants around my knees
As its only
My panties in a bunch
Over
Awe that madders
Poetic license
And corporate patronage
Some body
Has to
Pay the piper
To keep your roost ere plumbed
As upright as it comes
Why cant you
Say “uncle”
You know
Like that rich uncle
Who wants you
To sit on his lap
And tell you
Bed time
Stories
That will mark you for life
Butt kept mysteriously in a family weigh
As long
As in your genes
As in c’est la vie
Or sow, I’ve herd
As if
We are posed to be prod
Of being cattle
Scarred I’ll go
All Gandhi on you as
BE the beef
Awe the wile beating a different conundrum
Refraining that whole eat me thing
The mark of the best (sic)
Or rather sic sic sic’s
Sow fresh and hoary unholy revelations
Indulging vain wishes for dead presidents
And CEOs
Men of letters posterior to autograft
Ass-ever-rate
In playing defense
At my offense
With such propriety, proprietary and property
For my own good, posedly
Their mirror deflection
But, but, but, but, but
Except two a t
And so
I’m bare assed
And without
They’re money
You’re nothing butt
A bum
And the rush
Too be just
THAT

I am not a big fan of branding, whether it is of livestock or in corporate public relations. I was inspired to write this poem because at a regular monthly poetry reading they secured a small amount of funding to pay invited featured poets. Will Work For Universal Health Care POLITICAL BUTTONThe source of funding included local community foundations plus the nearly ubiquitous ProMedica, the largest health system within the Toledo region.  I have come to call Promedica, “PR Medica,” because of its often over-sized logo and branding in Toledo, aka ProMedica-ville, is nearly omnipresent in venues big and small.  I found its intrusion into the local poetry scene offensive, particularly because I am an iconoclastic, anti-commercial poet who specializes in addressing social justice issues.  This was a little too close to home for me.  I announced before my open mic reading that I did not want to be considered as an invited poet.  I suggested that to de-commercialize this reading, sending back the portion payed for by ProMedica, along with a strongly worded letter (might I suggest F and U), would be in order.

This is not the first time that I have unleashed my poetic visions against ProMedica.  The first time I devoted a poem to ProMedica was when they sponsored a state-wide poetry contest on the topic of anti-hunger with an honorarium to the winning poet that would befit and maintain the status of starving artist.  My unsubmitting, unremitting poem: Speaking With Spoken Sword: Owed To Hungering Fore Anew ProMedica.

Health Care is a Right Not a Privilege - PUBLIC HEALTH BUTTONSingle-Payer Health Care - Everybody In, Nobody Out POLITICAL BUTTONProMedica, if you want to combat hunger, pay all of your employees a living wage.  ProMedica, if you want to fulfill your mission and redeem your non-prophet status, devote 0.01% of your revenue toward advocating for universal health care, everybody in, nobody out.  Until then, you can bye this poet all you want.

Local, Low-Cost, Publishing Now Offered For Toledo Poets and Authors

Top Pun Publishing - A Lot Local, A Little Loco - Offering Local, Low-cost, Low-run PrintingI am delighted to announce a new service for Toledo area poets and authors to publish their work.  I now offer inexpensive, short-run printing of bound books.  If you are a Toledo area poet or author looking for an inexpensive way to get your poetry or writing published, this new service might work for you.  With a minimum run of only 10 books, you can get started without a big investment, and order only how many you need when you need them.

For years, I have self-published very small runs of my annual poetry collections for family Christmas gifts.  Now, I would like to take advantage of my businesses printing and binding capabilities to help out local poets and authors.  As my publishing mission states, this service is “A lot local, a little loco.”  To serve local authors and save on shipping costs, I only offer pick-up.  While I run an international e-commerce business, shipping everywhere and anywhere, I am increasingly working on living and working local.  The loco part is longstanding and holding steady.  Since I’ve been car-less for the last couple years, my experiment in living local has been kicked into high gear — that would be a bike gear by the way.  I look forward to partnering with Toledo area poets and authors to get their work out there.  Live local!  Live loco!

POEM: Gordian Knot — Owed To Mother Hope

Reality can be a mother
Halving given
Cynicism wide berth
Big brother
Too hope
A mist
Crying incessantly
And the crapping of won’s pants
Entrapped
Flanked by sterility and fertility
Fenced buy utility and futility
Until something
Something all inspiring
Ever knew
But barely seed
Shh
It happens
As springing from dis illusion
And groan together
From that exasperating brood
In awe
That kin be done
And what might be
A parent
Or knot

This poem arose this day from the comment of a friend who did not see hope where I saw some, and yet he still hopes.  As a poet, I often see humanity in an epic struggle between cynicism and hope.  Idealists Raze Hell -- POLITICAL BUTTONHell is where hope is abandoned, to allude to Dante.  Heaven is where hope flourishes.  Hope Trumps Despair PEACE BUTTONAs John Paul Sartre, the existentialist philosopher and author, wrote famously in his play, No Exit, “Hell is other people.”  Know argument here.  Of course, I wholed to the other half of truth, as well: Heaven is other people.  Solidarity trumps alienation.  Hope is the better portion of reality, that mother that teaches us sow much.  Those caught in the mine of this earth may argue quite rationally that hope is the leanest in the efface of the meanest.  Still, hope strikes me as both the lightest and most profound portion in the efface of darkness.  Life and death.  Heaven and Hell.  Hope and cynicism.  The thin line between genius and insanity is less of a border than a union. Stuart Hayes quote SPIRITUAL BUTTONWho dares dance in their mist?  Many people at most times choose to fight over merely what they halve — that is given.  Fortunately, we don’t have to live in most times.  We only have to live in the present.  Let hope be the present.

As I am prone to obscure references, I must note the meaning of Gordian knot, though you may myth the point with or without it.  A Gordian knot is often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem (disentangling an “impossible” knot) solved easily by loophole or “thinking outside the box” (“cutting the Gordian knot”):

In Greek and Roman mythology, the Gordian knot was an extremely complicated knot tied by Gordius, the king of Phrygia in Asia Minor. Located in the city of Gordium, the knot came to symbolize a difficult problem that was almost impossible to solve.

According to legend, Gordius was a peasant who married the fertility goddess Cybele. When Gordius became king of Phrygia, he dedicated his chariot to Zeus and fastened it to a pole with the Gordian knot. Although the knot was supposedly impossible to unravel, an oracle predicted that it would be untied by the future king of Asia.

Many individuals came to Gordium to try to undo the knot, but they all failed. Then, according to tradition, the Greek conqueror Alexander the Great visited the city in 333 B . C . After searching unsuccessfully for the hidden ends of the Gordian knot, Alexander became impatient. In an unexpected move, he took out his sword and cut through the knot. Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them. Albert Einstein quote SPIRITUAL BUTTONAlexander then went on to conquer Asia, thus fulfilling the oracle’s prophecy. Alexander’s solution to the problem led to the saying, “cutting the Gordian knot,” which means solving a complicated problem through bold action.

May you live in the won reality where everything is knot as it seams.

POEM: Of Coarseness

Don’t put won over me
F every won
Flunk sexism
Flunk racism
Flunk classism
Flunk nationalism
And sow on
And sow on
In effability
Of coarse
They say
Vulgarity vulgarity
Every ware
I look
In just US
The capital of the whirled
Spinning lies
Wile iniquity runs rampant
Fore public office
As up right
The riotous
Will be herd
If scuff law in order
To re-buff amoral cents
And counting dullards
Drilled simply for being crude
And unrepentantly unrefined
Tolled to keep off the crass
In a tour de farce
As if
In decency
Merely unappetizing crudités
Interrupting
Our place
At the table
Only too be taken away
Be for serving
The entree
To the winners of our discontent

This poem plays on the nominal vulgarity of swear words versus the substantial vulgarities of endemic sexism, racism, classism, amoral capitalism, nationalism and the unlike.  Civilized Nations Have Best Implements for War--ANTI-WAR QUOTE BUTTONI am struck by the hugely disproportionate reactions by so-called civilized society to the nominal vulgarities of swear words and the substantial vulgarities of rampant iniquity and inequities.  This reminds me of one of my favorite passages from the Tao Te Ching (chapter 38):

When Tao is lost
There is virtue
When virtue is lost
There is morality
When morality is lost
There is propriety

CIVIL WAR - When Oxymorons Run Amok ANTI-WAR BUTTONThis passage captures the devolution of society and politics when propriety is the central reference point and standard for judgments, having devolved from simple morality and core virtues. Of course, even virtue and morality are devolutions of Tao, the ineffable and mysterious source from which life flows and finds its being.  Propriety is a pitiful veneer covering a morally bankrupt society, where unmoored virtue makes alienation the norm, and nothing is sacred.  What could be more coarse than a society where power, privilege and status are self-aggrandizing and injustice is but a chronic inconvenience?

I am proud to have written a poem about vulgarity without directly using verbal vulgarities — though the implied vulgarities may make the poem PG-13.  Vulgarities may not be necessary, but when our concern is over words rather than from the underlying realities which deserve much more attention, we get sucked into dangerous distraction.  My increasingly surreal experience of the gap between popular awareness and underlying injustices seems like a good basis for the full employment by this poet of awe words, vulgar or not.  May we see beyond the superficial proprieties of language to see clearly the grinding injustices which bespeak vulgarities.

POEM: Human Beans In A Chili World

What’s too like
To be
Human beans
In a chili world
Offering ourselves
As nourishing fare
In the face of
Ingrate full consumers
Somehow besting
Our pre-sumptuous purpose
Of going to seed
And razing our own
Only to be
Food agin and agin
As brood over
What incite us
And what has meaning
At the end of your daze
Is the same
What’s eating you
Those unpleasant spitting images

This poem is an ode to one of the deepest paradoxes in life: that you must lose your life in order to gain it.  No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they'd die for. MLK QUOTE BUTTONSuch a paradox is replete with metaphors of seeds, death and resurrection, of sacrificing that of great value for that of greater value.  Plus, in life there is no dress rehearsal: we won’t be food again!  Of course, that perplexing aspect of human life which is infinitely complicated is humans: ungrateful, self-centered, and irreducibly exasperating.  In my view, the best way to see more clearly in the fun-house mirror that is human life is to cultivate self-awareness of psychological projection, the powerful and cunning tendency to attribute to others what is subconscious in ourselves, particularly the bad stuff.  In laymen’s terms: spot it you got it!  Of course, such cultivation is mirror reflection if there isn’t any skin in the game — little is harvested with simply good intentions.  Pacifism - A Way of Life - Man Does Not Die By Bled Alone -- PEACE BUTTONSelf-sacrifice is inescapable if we are to unearth enduring meaning rather than perpetual mean-ings on earth.  The ubiquity of iniquity, the proclivity to project our own evil onto others (“Those unpleasant spitting images”) is the tragic root of writing people off as chaff rather than cultivating seed.  Would You Die For Common Ground PEACE BUTTONThe paradoxical solution is that by becoming food for others, and — as in vice versa — by becoming food for ourselves, we are awe saved.  Such wonderment eternally returns me to loving my enemy, a journey that can only be made within one’s self and never without others.  I find this mysterious process at the heart of social action — the nexus of the inner and outer journeys, joined at the hip — perhaps most succinctly described in the social activist creed and Mexican  Zapatista proverb: “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”  Or, in an earlier version, from the Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos:  “What didn’t you do to bury me / but you forgot that I was a seed.”  The counterculture reality embodied by Mr. Christianopoulos was as a homoerotic poet in the 1950’s, accompanied by its commensurately dangerous seed.  Whatever you may offer as a human bean in this chili world, may it be nourishing fare.

Old Hippies Never Die We Just Flower Year After Year POLITICAL BUTTON

POEM: Unridden

I can
Right more
Poems
Than you reed
Beat
Too the weighs
Of the whirled
Having words
And chasing paper
To live only
As every won wants
To be
Still
Unridden
An other
Blooming in carnation

This poem is a poet’s poem, that is, a poem written — or unridden — about the process of writing poetry.  The theme of this poem touches up on both the ethereal ineffability for which poets reach and the palpability of any poem incarnated into this world through paper and/or voice.  This poem contrasts the more coarse ways of the world — Having words/Chasing paper — with the more nuanced and generally underappreciated ways of poets.  The poet is more like a good reed than some big oak — swaying to gentle breezes and still standing right after hurricane force winds and reign.  May you find poetry flowering in your life.

TOLEDO POEM: The Glass City Is Refillable

Have empty
Have full
Pundit prognosticating
Weather tea town, big gulp, whine, or throwback
After work
All a buzz
A bout how well suited politicians
Re-billed a city of denim
Putting out hope
In efface of houses emptied
And streets full
Of potholes
Teeming with orange barrels
And every fuel for Toledo
Ever wandering, “Will we be Jeeped or not?”
For what’s frog town without croaking?
That looming will
We be relegated community?
Wholly Toledo, some kind of perfect zoo
And a world class heart museum
Where boosters must incurably cry out
I think not!
Know!
This is the biggest little town in America
And those a little too full of it
Head for the Hills
As if
They due butter
When you can’t beat the accost of living
Of those in the no
If have full, drink up
If have empty, just wait a round
The Glass City is refillable

I was hoping to win thirst prize with this Toledo poem, as my singular entry into the 2016 annual Poetry and Fiction contest of the Toledo City Paper: Half Full or Half Empty.  But, alas, I am truly settle for placement in a category called Dishonorable Mention.  This poem, about my beloved Toledo, reflects the self-deprecating, love-hate relationship that many Toledoans have with our esteemed town and occasionally reviled city.  The editor only had one question about my seriously playful, pun-filled wordplay: Was “A bout” my intended spelling.  As most often is the case when someone is confused about how to read my poems, the answer is: “Yes.”  There are many takes on the half-full/half-empty question.  I find that the glass being refillable is the most appropriate and truly hopeful answer.  I consider Toledo as the hidden gem of the Midwest, perhaps of the whole country.  But, please, keep this on the down-low.  We don’t want a bunch of Toledo wannabes cluttering up the city.

POEM: Adumbrating My Too Sense

Teeming with errs
Their egos agin
They took their best shot
Sow prod of themselves
In citing
Your poetry makes no cents
As if
The golf between us
As driven in sanity
From goad above
Rather demanding
A stroke of genius
Wringing hollow
In a tin cup
That fateful hole in won
In things looking up
And people looking down
At storied little balls
And exclusive clubs
Beating with in
No bogey men hear
The par will always be with us
Not sow stuck on the short game
Put on buy the green
Razing polls and flags
To victory
Only to wind up
Being
In side job
As aww some coinage
Of mine a loan
Tempting too undue
Being so much as a cad he
And he he he
Left behind with scratch
Knot even ahead

This is a poet’s poem.  This poem has one of those bonus titular words, adumbrate, which means foreshadow.  I must confess, as highly alliterate as I am, I only discovered this word in the thoroughs of my joyous addiction to Thesaurus.com.  In due course, the title begs “a dumb rating my too sense,” as standing speechless is an awe-too-common response to reading (or trying to read) my poetry.  This poem dismisses the gulf between making cents, buy tailoring and valuing a poem by its popular, a peel, rather than glorying in singular glimpses of awe that can be mined in a fantastical mountain of meaning.  My poetry is not for the feign of heart or to revel as IQ smarts.  As most beauty in this universe is never experienced by humans, as we pass up the illustriously novel for the merely comical, I stand in solidarity with the better share of the universe.  Sow it shall be ridden, commanded by fire that does not burn, in stone that knows how to roll.

POEM: A Constipated Citizenry

Not so deep
Within the body politic
A constipated citizenry
Yearns to be free
Crying out
In a full groan democracy
Mourning the dearth of moral fiber
Humanity squat
An abject lessen
Lo expectations
As number too
Clinging to far-fetched promise
Toil it issues
The cant of superdelicates
The sulky left over
And faltering last rights
Uptight a bout
Weather we have it
In US

Stop Repeat Offenders - Do NOT Re-elect Them POLITICAL BUTTONThis is at least the turd poem of mine that has featured the metaphor of constipation.  As a trained nutritionist and poet, I can’t help but notice the metaphorical parallels of Americans having the smallest poops in the world and having a constipated democracy.  The highly processed American political diet, dangerously low in moral fiber, has created an unhealthy buildup of whatever it is that makes the American electorate want to let loose the half-digested pablum of which it is fed up too hear.  The bowels of American democracy are grumbling.  Perennially high cynicism with mainstream, centrist politics has reached new highs.  APATHY - The Deadliest Weapon of Mass Destruction POLITICAL BUTTONAnd lo, the constipated political party elites have built up blockages creating no sane path to a functioning democracy, that is, a democracy that actually reflects the will of the people.  The bankruptcy magnate Donald Trump and corporate-owned aristocrat Hillary Clinton have the highest negative ratings of any two presidential candidates in modern history.  The disconnect that they represent between privileged power and the will of the people captures most of what is poopy about American electoral politics.  Don't Laugh, He's Paid For [politician] POLITICAL BUTTONHillary Clinton is beholden by corporate persons of the unhuman kind.  Donald Trump trumpets his freedom from a moneyed world precisely because he was born, raised and romps in a moneyed world.  Irony futures must be having a field day!  Still, the citizen-consumers of America are scared shitless of being number two in even the littlest weighs; and bounteous demagoguery is the cheap consolation price afforded voter and non-voter alike. While it’s easy to moan and groan about the lack of inspirational candidates in electoral politics, this is a function — or dysfunction — of non-electoral politics. The sum total effect of non-electoral and electoral politics is as Thomas Jefferson stated: A ballot is like a bullet. You don't throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not in reach, keep your ballot in your pocket. Malcolm X quote POLITICAL BUTTON“The government you elect is the government you deserve.” Of coarse, this hole constipated citizenry thing won’t change until citizens give a shit.

BOTH Parties Are Revolting, Why Aren't You? POLITICAL BUTTONMay you find an outlet in irregular politics to make the world a better place.

POEM: Another Martyr Bides The Dust

Another martyr bides the dust
And I was a stray
Beside myself
In the fog
Of yet another mourning
The missed over my heart
Feeling only that ephemeral beaten
The wait on my brain
Fueled into thinking of the dread only
And the little I no
Of what remains
As the truth is bared
In ash holes with names
Temping to soil
Won an other’s life work
Un-till arising from hour grounding
Ready ourselves for a human race
Wear blood is thicker then water
Tearing at our soles
And water thicker than heir
The salt of the earth bides
It’s time
Too clear the weigh
Of what thou dust
Ahead razed for awe
As be holding the sons rays
Bringing a bout of sunshine
An enduring lightness
Out shining
Any faux
How ever clan destine
In efface of such shrouding allowed
In countering any illicit clout
Ever looming
Whatever we’ve
Got together
With standing any in thralling strayin’
Rapping up awe that is frayed
For whatever may seam
Know longer

I wrote this poem a while back, but I’m publishing it now to honor the passing of Father Daniel Berrigan who died over the weekend at age 94.  Father Daniel Berrigan was the first priest arrested for peace and anti-war civil disobedience — or holy obedience.  As recounted in the National Catholic Review:

Berrigan undoubtedly stands among the most influential American Jesuits of the past century…

A literary giant in his own right, Berrigan was best known for his dramatic acts of civil disobedience against the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons. He burned draft files with homemade napalm and later hammered on nuclear weapons to enact the Isaiah prophecy to “beat swords into plowshares.” His actions challenged Americans and Catholics to reexamine their relationship with the state and reject militarism. He constantly asked himself and others: What does the Gospel demand of us?

“For me, Father Daniel Berrigan is Jesus as a poet,” Kurt Vonnegut wrote. “If this be heresy, make the most of it.”

“Dorothy Day taught me more than all the theologians,” Berrigan told The Nation in 2008. “She awakened me to connections I had not thought of or been instructed in—the equation of human misery and poverty with warmaking. She had a basic hope that God created the world with enough for everyone, but there was not enough for everyone and warmaking.”

In 1963, Berrigan embarked on a year of travel, spending time in France, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rome, South Africa and the Soviet Union. He encountered despair among French Jesuits related to the situation of Indochina, as the United States ramped up military involvement in Vietnam.

Berrigan returned home in 1964 convinced that the war in Vietnam “could only grow worse.” So he began, he later wrote, “as loudly as I could, to say ‘no’ to the war…. There would be simply no turning back.”

He co-founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship and the interfaith group Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam…

In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (1966), Merton described Berrigan as “an altogether winning and warm intelligence and a man who, I think, has more than anyone I have ever met the true wide-ranging and simple heart of the Jesuit: zeal, compassion, understanding, and uninhibited religious freedom. Just seeing him restores one’s hope in the Church.”

A dramatic year of assassinations and protests that shook the conscience of America, 1968 also proved to be a watershed year for Berrigan. In February, he flew to Hanoi, North Vietnam, with the historian Howard Zinn and assisted in the release of three captured U.S. pilots. On their first night in Hanoi, they awoke to an air-raid siren and U.S. bombs and had to find shelter.

As the United States continued to escalate the war, Berrigan worried that conventional protests had little chance of influencing government policy. His brother, Philip, then a Josephite priest, had already taken a much greater risk: In October 1967, he broke into a draft board office in Baltimore and poured blood on the draft files.

Undeterred at the looming legal consequences, Philip planned another draft board action and invited his younger brother to join him. Daniel agreed.

On May 17, 1968, the Berrigan brothers joined seven other Catholic peace activists in Catonsville, Md., where they took several hundreds of draft files from the local draft board and set them on fire in a nearby parking lot, using homemade napalm. Napalm is a flammable liquid that was used extensively by the United States in Vietnam.

Daniel said in a statement, “Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise.”

Berrigan was tried and convicted for the action. When it came time for sentencing, however, he went underground and evaded the Federal Bureau of Investigation for four months.

“I knew I would be apprehended eventually,” he told America in an interview in 2009, “but I wanted to draw attention for as long as possible to the Vietnam War and to Nixon’s ordering military action in Cambodia.”

The F.B.I. finally apprehended him on Block Island, R.I., at the home of theologian William Stringfellow, in August 1970. He spent 18 months in Danbury federal prison, during which he and Philip appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

The brothers, lifelong recidivists, were far from finished.

Swords Into Plowshares, Isaiah 2:4 PEACE BUTTONOn Sept. 9, 1980, Daniel and Philip joined seven others in busting into the General Electric missile plant in King of Prussia, Pa., where they hammered on an unarmed nuclear weapon—the first Plowshares action. They faced 10 years in prison for the action but were sentenced to time served.

In his courtroom testimony at the Plowshares trial, Berrigan described his daily confrontation with death as he accompanied the dying at St. Rose Cancer Home in New York City. He said the Plowshares action was connected with this ministry of facing death and struggling against it. In 1984, he began working at St. Vincent’s Hospital, New York City, where he ministered to men and women with H.I.V.-AIDS.

“It’s terrible for me to live in a time where I have nothing to say to human beings except, ‘Stop killing,’” he explained at the Plowshares trial. “There are other beautiful things that I would love to be saying to people.”

In 1997 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Berrigan’s later years were devoted to Scripture study, writing, giving retreats, correspondence with friends and admirers, mentorship of young Jesuits and peace activists, and being an uncle to two generations of Berrigans. He published several biblical commentaries that blended scholarship with pastoral reflection and poetic wit.

“Berrigan is evidently incapable of writing a prosaic sentence,” biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann wrote in a review of Berrigan’s Genesis (2006). “He imitates his creator with his generative word that calls forth linkages and incongruities and opens spaces that bewilder and dazzle and summon the reader.”

Even as an octogenarian, Berrigan continued to protest, turning his attention to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the prison in Guantánamo Bay and the Occupy Wall Street movement. Friends remember Berrigan as courageous and creative in love, a person of integrity who was willing to pay the price, a beacon of hope and a sensitive and caring friend.

While technically, Fr. Berrigan is not a martyr, he sacrificed much and lived courageously in the belly of the beast called the United States of America of which he called its militarism and imperialism.

While I wrote this poem with a male character, this may not be truly representative of the martyrs in this world.  Soon after penning this poem, Berta Caceres, whose activism reverberated around the world, was assassinated by a Honduran death squad, shot in her own home.  This poem is dedicated to her as well, a well of hope deeper than any dam corporations.  As recounted from Alternet:

On March 3, assassins entered the home of Berta Caceres, leader of Honduras’ environmental and indigenous movement. They shot her friend Gustavo Castro Soto, the director of Friends of the Earth Mexico. He pretended to be dead, and so is the only witness of what came next. The assassins found Berta Caceres in another room and shot her in the chest, the stomach and the arms. When the assassins left the house, Castro went to Berta Caceres, who died in his arms.

Investigation into the death of Berta Caceres is unlikely to be conducted with seriousness. The Honduran government suggested swiftly that it was likely that Castro had killed Berta Caceres and made false statements about assassins. That he had no motive to kill his friend and political ally seemed irrelevant. Castro has taken refuge in the Mexican embassy in Honduras’ capital, Tegucigalpa. He continues to fear for his life.

Berta Caceres led the Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH), one of the most important critics of government and corporate power in her country. Most recently, she and COPINH had taken a strong stand against the construction of the Agua Zarca dam on a river sacred to the indigenous Lenca community. This dam had occupied her work. It was not merely a fight against an energy company, it was a fight against the entire Honduran elite.

Desarrollos Energeticos, SA (DESA) is owned by the Atala family, whose most famous member is Camilo Atala, who heads Honduras’ largest bank, Banco Ficohsa. By all indications, the Atala family is very close to the government. When the military moved against the democratically elected government of Manuel Zelaya Rosales in 2009, the Atala family, among others, supported the coup with their means. They can cut all the flowers, but they can never stop the spring -- Pablo Neruda quote POLITICAL BUTTONThe Honduran sociologist Leticia Salomon listed this family among others as the enablers of the coup. They backed the conservative National Party, which now holds the reins of power alongside the military. Berta Caceres’ fight against the Agua Zarca dam, then, was not merely a fight against one dam. It was a battle against the entire Honduran oligarchy. Her assassination had, as her family contends, been long overdue.

May we be inspired and encouraged by the fearless lives of those who have gone before us.

POEM: Howie Tried And True

Too fine
The word
That was lust to him
As a gossamer knight he
Oh Howie tried
And true
Enough
Wading in silence
Only to peer
Parently from know wear
To meat
His every knead
Too fine
Word
Maid flesh

This is a poem about the role of the muse in writing poetry.  On occasion, I exclaim, “Where does it come from?!”  This is an indirect compliment to awe that the muse does, plus a certain humility on my part for feeling unable to take credit for awe of my work. For me, the creative process often includes the experience of both peak concentration and seeing something come from seemingly out of nowhere, no place for which I can give adequate account or testimony, except perhaps in a completed work.  The creative process often entails both intense flow and an irresistible beguiling that on occasion may be mistaken for work.  There have been more than a few times that I have been gloriously exasperated by the joyful wear of a relentless muse, for which I can only gleefully apologize.  This poem employs a sexual metaphor to better reveal the palpability of the artist-muse relationship.  Also, this poem climaxes with perhaps the most profound aspect of religious theology: incarnation, spirit imbuing flesh.  In Christian sacred text, this is referred to as “The Word became flesh,” from John 1:14.  That which is most ethereal — God, life, light — becomes that which is most palpable to humans on earth.  These juxtaposed metaphors are similar to my description of writing poetry as the head and heart making love — which makes me simile.  May your life be overflowing as your ineffable spirit is enfleshed in this world.

POEM: Love Making

I was mistaken
All those years
Those sweetest ours
Thinking I was making love
When in truth
Love was making me

This love poem, as most of my poems, can be read several ways.  Of course, the simplest reading is a testament to the transformative power of romantic relationship love.  Love is more than something that we, as individuals, “make.”  Love is something larger than ourselves that we participate in.  Love makes us better humans, much more so than could be designed by our minds however clever, or imagined by our hearts however large and open.  Certainly, love makes us better than we could ever be outside of human relationships, on our own.

When thinking of poetry, I suspect that thinking of love poems is the most common and iconic.  Love, the mystery of mysteries, is at the heart of poetry, trying to put into words that which can’t quite be put into words.  I have described writing poetry as the heart and mind making love.  The melding of the workings of the heart and mind is a struggle for balance and wholeness that pervades every human endeavor.

Psalm 85:10 describes this as peace and justice kissing.  My intent in writing this poem was also to allude to such a wide theme, that of loving the world in a way that makes the world a better place for all.  Peace and justice kissing is the way this becomes a reality in the world.  Practicing that discipline of love makes us better humans, even if the reciprocity of that love is not immediately evident.  Describing such ventures as love of God — love of Love — is a common spiritual discipline to carry us through the dry patches of of unrequited love on earth.  Such love lives in the hope that the way of love (God’s will) will be “on earth as it is in heaven” (from the Lord’s prayer).  Of course, the demands of justice are trans-generational, perhaps perpetual, requiring a patience and perspective beyond our own life.  We don’t work simply for ourselves, that is if we are working in love and for justice.  It strikes me, sometimes in the face, that love of enemy is the gold standard spiritual practice for melding peace and justice, holding fast to perfecting love, in creating a world where one side fits all.  Every loving act brings us closer to peace and justice, no matter how far off they seem.  Every loving act engenders hope and courage for both the gentle patience and bold courage needed for peace and justice to kiss.  May you find love in every personal relationship, within your community, and in every conception of God you may have.

 

 

POEM: Boulder Climate Change Strategy

Know madder
What
The body politic wants
Wee are
A given
Political climate change
Fueled agin
Buy dollareds
Hot air
And cheep solutions
Trapped in a net worth
A slew of zeroes
Proffering barren fruit
Taking
Their cut
Wile the snare drum beats
US like lemmings
Lurid over
A bluff leading know where
With the last feather in their icy cap
Plunging a head
At breakneck pace
Their ultimate un-doing
In won weigh or the other
Hung by a tight rope
For good
Snappy necks ‘n dashing suits
In their bald Sisyphean crowing
As gods joke
Boulder for brains

This is another in my unrelenting series of global climate change poems.  Western Civilization Is A Loaded Gun Pointed At The Head Of This Planet -- Terrence McKenna quote POLITICAL BUTTONI mock cowardly politicians beholden to earth-destroying corporate interests, offering only half-ass solutions to what is likely the greatest threat to humanity and the planet this century.  I mix several metaphors simultaneously, but the prime metaphor is of Sisyphus as the symbol of grandiose futility.  Of coarse, the climax of the poem offers Phoenix-like hope as these Sisyphean politicians bash their brains out on the rocks of the reality they so persistently deny and discount.  And for good measure, and a backup plan, they also hung themselves with their own rope, in a tip of the hat to the old Marxist joke that capitalists will sell the rope to the executioner for their own hanging. And for a triumvirate of metaphors to seal their destiny, a bird metaphor (“cheep solutions, “last feather in icy cap,” and “bald Sisyphean crowing”) assures that the brains dashed against the rocks are bird brains as well as boulder for brains.  Be on notice chicken-hearted and bird-brained politicians, there is no escaping the carnage of my poetry!  Of course, I hope to embolden planetary citizens to take bolder action to relieve such politicians of any authority or power over the fate of our Mother Earth.  Man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself --Rachel Carson quote POLITICAL BUTTONMay the people of planet earth rise up and create a sustainable destiny for humanity that fully respects the deep harmonies of nature.

POEM: My Proffered Busyness

My proffered busyness
Is riding poetry
Wherever
It takes me
And even as sow many
Times come a bout
The heist spot in the whirled
Strong-armed by incoming
Dealing with lives steel
As sell sum
Pilfer everything
As if
Following racing rats to a loot
Or tender my resignation
And well come
My big amble
Out performing
Peddling vagabonds
At any prize
Wear happiness too spare
Rambling on

This is a poem about a poet’s joy in writing poetry — that would be me.  This is yet another ode to the muse which strikes without warning, though with overwhelming warming.  There is little question that writing poetry is a way for me to work through living in such a surreal world, where grave injustices and serendipitous joys reign over my life.  This tension between the often heart rendering work of social justice and profound gratitude for the many blessings in my life is a familiar theme in my life and poetry.  May you work for justice with a grateful heart; and may your joy be deep enough to sustain you in the most difficult times.

POEM: Ode Record Smashed

He smashed
His ode record
Broke in
The same oh
Same oh!
Skipping
A beat
Down
Sow deep
In his sole
Feted
To follow him
Wear ever
Won is

I wrote this poem as the last poem of the day when I had just set a record for the most poems that I had written in a day.  That was a couple of months ago, and the record has been smashed twice since.  The He smashed opening line can be taken as a reference to being totally drunk.  I find myself powerless to the muse, and such powerlessness is a great gift, only to be ignored at won’s peril.  Perhaps the greatest synchronicity I experience in life is writing poetry.  The rhythm and blues of life give me a groove allowing me to dance to the cornucopia of revolutions taking place at any given moment.  Waking up to the singular fact that the earth moves at the bottom of my sole is enough to launch thousands of revolutions that I call the daze of my life.  May you be moved by that which may be invisible to others at any given moment yet endows your very being.

POEM: A Mega Something — Owed To Megabus

We waited
Quiet
A long time
For what would be ours
For what would pass
As high noon
Breaking the news
As poor
As the bussed itself
Loitering in the company we keep
A mega something
But not a bus
Left to fill in the blank

I wrote this poem, and a few others, while waiting for a Megabus.  The Megabus broke down and by the time they got a replacement bus, we had waited about four hours.  This would have been my first ride on a Megabus, but the substitute was a standard tour bus.  This poem is an ode to the tax of time and inconvenience that poor people pay.  Sometimes this tax is also paying more because of poor access, such a higher cost, inner-city grocery stores.  I lost spending an afternoon visiting with my Dad.  Many other bus riders missed their Megabus connection, either having to wait for the next Megabus the next day or find alternative transportation.  I will take the Megabus — or its replacement cousins — again, because I am cheap and poor.  Overall, I prefer having more time than money.  Sometimes, you just have to spend extra time instead of money.  Plus, I find it hard to complain when plan B entails writing more poetry.  It was a nice day and I visited with some interesting people.  I am grateful to cast my lot with the bus people in the world, as not everybody has that privilege.

POEM: Speaking With Spoken Sword: Owed To Hungering Fore Anew ProMedica

The profit tiers
Some how a peer
To set the captives free
Going won after the other
Like mammon and famine
As to somehow heel the ravenous
As fiend and faux
As sow appetite for the pauper reproach
With such lack luster assurance
As hungering for
Corporate solutions
Like KoolAid™
For the poor
As food desserts
Like a cock tale
Wagging the dog
For mirrorly fucking bitches
The same owe same owe
As prophets of ode
Rapiers by daze
Templars buy eve
The paltry of knights
With chicken shit
Offering
A hundred and fifty bucks
Posing as dear
As if
Doing its doody
In sum fecund foundation
For just us
As financiers of poetic justice
And diets high in irony
For its undeserving marks
And omnipresent logos
As going in kitsch in sync
With awe that cannot be stomached
Paving roads with good attentions
In know name
Butt there own
Sitting a top the whirled
Of hell care
Reigning
Pennies from heaven
As coppers too familiar
To the indignant
And indigent
Of that speaking with spoken sword
Offering crumbs
Leading know where
Their droppings
As little balms
As met a sin
Requiring heart surgery
And prescribing
Take two aspirin
And call me in the mourning
And if that is not enough
Tact on
Take care
Your own
Busyness
Such self-determination
Only too be food agin
As so much on won’s plate
For what is whored
As up rightness
Only to be drug
By profits of owed
Living on exorbitant feeds
As the CEO my God
And the staff buy his side
Dis cuss policy
As their weighter
Serves there well fare
Wile others
Dine in the streets

Here is my decidedly unofficial entry in the ProMedica sponsored poetry competition so unintentionally named, “Revealing Hunger: Spoken (S)word.”  While it is the Big S poetry competition they are currently sponsoring, I’ll pass — though I’m quite sure it will be a gas.  ProMedica was sure to eventually reap the madness of my poetry, sow here it is.  ProMedica is always in the running for trying to coroner the market in buying good will to which it might be able to attach its moribund name.  Though the pathetic $150 price for a singular winning poem betrays how little they truly value good will and poetry.  If my words don’t speak well enough for me, then I invite ProMedica to eat me, should their hunger for justice suffer in digestion.

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…