POEM: The Iconoclassism of Godliness

She was in
A class by her self
Staring at her teacher
In a too room school hows
By two mirror subjects taut
Assure as three
Bound by know
Student lones
Only that body
Of know ledge
From the school of hard knocks
And missing class

This is a poem about the necessarily eccentric and lonely aspect of life in relation to the unique set of experiences we each have and the personal, subjective experiences we each have with the mystery of mysteries sometimes called God.  Each person’s unique place in life bids a certain iconoclastic attitude.  Every class room we are placed in is constricting in some fashion or another.  Any body of knowledge we amass is ever facing a ledged uncertainty.  Staring into the abyss or the eyes of a loving God is subject to doubt.  Learning is a humbling enterprise, requiring perpetual re-righting of our ideology of any given day.  The spaciousness of our souls bids us forward and outward into necessary uncertainty.  This may very well be the built in adventure of life, both exhilarating and exasperating, inspirational and overwhelming, profoundly satisfying and deeply unnerving.  Whatever hope we may have for a common humanity is bound up in each of our unique, irreducibly ineffable, and inescapably iconoclastic take on life.  There is no formula that works for awe.  The joy full life cannot dance mirrorly to an algorithm.

The line in this poem, “Assure as three,” is a somewhat obscure reference to the Christian concept of the Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity, the counselor and comforter.  The reference is from Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT), amidst sacred text extolling the advantages of companionship and the futility of political power: “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”  The Holy Spirit is more resistant to rigid theologies and ideologies than The Father and The Son.  The Holy Spirit is more of a wild card, unpredictably navigating us through the apparent vagaries of life, ever shifting yet creating life anew.  More secular folks may refer to such as conscience, some gestalt of awe that we are, accessing something profound yet palpable to those open to its guidance.  The iconoclastic nature of conscience is informed by the direct experience of our deepest realities, which often doesn’t neatly match where others before us, or society as a whole, happens to be at in any given moment.  I see this as the deepest life force itself, making evolution, and when needed, revolution, possible.  We are in this holy mess together.  I strongly suspect that a deep appreciation for each others’ iconoclasm and eccentricities is a necessary foundation for a good life which grows awe the better.

May you find a lucid relationship with that small, still voice, your conscience open to the deepest rhythms of life.  May you find blessed companionship in your sojourn through this holy mess.

POEM: Wee Civil Lies: They Brutalize

We are prone
Too civil lies
The most savage saving
Buy brutal lies
As assuredly
As they had
Been stood up
Just the same
For their own
Good
Won morality for us
None for them
Hidden as mirror
Human eyes
Unsettling
The score
One love

Violence - The Cause and Solution to All of Our Problems PEACE BUTTONThis poem is about the violence we unleash in the name of the state and nationalism against stateless violence that is often referred to as terrorism.  War is terrorism with a bigger budget.  War on terrorism is a shock and awe full escalation of violence seeking to end violence with more violence.  This poem is about the profound egocentrism that is scaled up to nationalism and exclusivist patriotism.  When we add our ignorance of “foreign” humans to the crucible of our own fears, we conjure demons.  A nation of partisans is blind to humanity.

The man who speaks of the enemy is the enemy himself. Bertolt Brecht quote PEACE BUTTONWe prefer to believe that humans living in other nations and cultures somehow operate disconnected, even psychotically, from a cause-and-effect world.  “They” are aliens, or more literally, not human.  Their grievous experiences are viewed as illegitimate, or simply self-inflicted (unlike ours).  Justice becomes just US.  We are good; they are evil.  We go long with the whores of war in a costly and feudal tempt to psychologically project our own evil onto distant others and militarily project our own lust for power and, of coarse, its ostensible security.  Our “way of life” is inescapably intertwined with our “way of death.”  This ever-popular though pathetic avoidance of assenting to the oneness of humanity is an epic failure to own up to the costs of love.  Hate and fear are cheaper, like that cheap plastic crap from China.  Why Is It Always US versus Them PEACE BUTTONWithout disposable people, the gears of imperialism and capitalism would grind to a halt in a heart-wrenching imperative to honor every human right.  A so-called civilization built around planned obsolescence and cancerous growth rejects, not surprisingly, the priceless sanctity of every human life which would mandate a firewall to the carnage of war.  Human rights would go one better than human wrongs.  But at what accost?  Probably much less than war, but the distribution of pain would be much different.  By attending to our own shadow side, we preempt extracting the cost of our own evil from others.  Anything War Can Do Peace Can Do Better PEACE BUTTONOf course, this costs us — please note that morality is incurring a cost of one’s own, thereby demarcating what we value.  Further, a healthy human being replete with love goes even further to absorb some of humanity’s cost from less healthy humans, thereby incarnating the example of love.  This is the opposite of war, and, ultimately, the only scoring that matters.  Love perpetually extends humanity to each and every human, not amputating human rights to those who don’t happen to be at hand.  For badder or worse, love will piss off virtually every in-group of which you are a part.  In-group members reliably err on their own privilege over out-group members.  Human equality is necessarily revolutionary.  	 If we were willing to pay the same price for peace that we pay for war, we'd have peace today PEACE BUTTONLove and justice kiss when we sacrifice in-group privilege toward securing human rights for all.

May we know the score that is love, demolishing war-making.

POEM: Nazi Murder Trials, 1963

Courting the truth
Their stories were tolled
Not simply for just us
But for awe of them
Beyond monumental
To re-member
A broken body politic

http://toppun.com/Political/A-Nation-of-Sheep-Soon-Beget-a-Government-of-Wolves-Edward-R-Murrow-Quote.gifThis poem was inspired by the 2015 German movie, Labyrinth of Lies, about a young and idealistic public prosecutor in post World War II Germany learning about Nazi war crimes and their endemic impunity.  As one reviewer summarizes:

“Powerful and haunting, Labyrinth of Lies turns over a rock and watches the vermin crawl out in a disturbing and rarely talked about footnote to German (and world) history. The rock is Germany’s massive effort to forget the past under National Socialism and move on. Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies - POLITICAL BUTTONThe rats are the former Nazis who, after the war, found acceptance and protection in comfortable positions of importance in the German government at a time when the country was on its way to reconstruction and cultural renaissance. The movie centers on the handful of brave men and women who dedicated themselves to an uncompromising search for the truth in the investigation that led to the Auschwitz trials from 1963 to 1965 in which Germans prosecuted Germans at last. It’s one of the most important and revelatory films of the year.”

got fascism? POLITICAL BUTTONThe first line in this poem, Courting the truth, has multiple references and meanings.  The movie is a prosecutorial investigation leading to the 1963 trial of Nazi war criminals for murder (which doesn’t have a statute of limitations) which was the largest trial in German history and considered the pivotal event in Germany coming to terms with its haunting past of Hitler’s reign and the tsunami of obedience by the overwhelming proportion of German citizens.  “Courting” refers to the culminating courtroom drama which the story preludes.  “Courting” also refers to the courtship of the truth and of the love affair portrayed in the movie between the lead character, the lead prosecutor, and his wife-to-be.  The courtship of the truth, which reveals reams of human ugliness, stands in sharp contrast to the love affair.  Or does it?  The love affair is romantic, even magical, until in drunken despair the prosecutor confronts his wife with the reality of her own drunken father who fought with the Nazis in Poland: “Ask him why he drinks?”  She tells her husband to get out, for good.  The allusion is that she continues in denial about her father.  The full-circle carnage is complete as the drunken despair was triggered by the idealistic prosecutor’s daring to look at his own father’s war records, only to find out that he was a member of the Nazi Party.  Resistance Trumps Fascism [Royal Flush] POLITICAL BUTTONThe literal image of his father, a picture inscribed to him with the implied command, “Always do the right thing,” was now only an idol hypocrisy.  The merciless truth of endemic Nazi collaboration couldn’t be clearer.  Or could it?  Among other revelations, he learns that the activist journalistic pushing for the Auschwitz investigation was, in fact, a guard at Auschwitz, making a somewhat-late and partially-muddled attempt at amends for his own presumed war crimes.  Courting the truth offers unsatisfying justice as the original horrific injustices and decimation of humanity could never be fully restored.

The second line in the poem, Their stories were tolled, is the best answer offered to such overwhelming tragedy and criminality.  Simply to have some of the countless untold stories of uncounted victims was the only path to honor the murdered and begin the healing of a war-ravaged nation.  The damning awe of the truth cannot be successfully covered up by however neat or sterilizing monuments over which the dead are encrypted from the light of day.  The terrible truth must be tolled — exacting unpayable pries.  Good People Disobey Bad Laws POLITICAL BUTTONThe river of denial must give weigh to the river of blood teeming underneath “A broken body politic.”  That a broken body politic can re-member at all is the only redemption realizable.

May we never forget the lessens of war and its many patriotic and cowardly crimes against humanity.  May we have the necessary courage and bounding love for humanity to empower us to defeat the scourges of nationalism and that bastard of patriotism: fascism.

POEM: The Largesse Whole

Was he lacking
Horse sense
Eschewing
Just
A little bit
Off
The grid
Frayed of being
Triangulate
To sum part he
Prone to awe
That is
More than
Life familiar
Tripping unplugged
Real he
Into
The largesse whole
That you
Could
Ever want

This poem is about living into your true self, breaking from the shell of the merely predictable.  As the killer adage goes: “Be all that you can be.”  Be willing to give up what you are for what you can become SPIRITUAL BUTTONThe quest for security often appears as simply horse sense but typically serves as “a little bit” that steers, and even blinds, us, leading us away from deeper human potential.  Horse sense and human cents are sometimes the same thing, over and over again.  The master full specialization of the modern world of work isolates us into manageable silos — or cubicles as the case may be.  The looming cloud of big data triangulates our virtually hole life, and the tsunami of its algorithm-deduced realities makes its flood of inanities appear as the height of rationality.  Yet our souls pine, boxed in buy underwhelming probabilities mistaken for inevitabilities.  Ever Wonder? SPIRITUAL BUTTONThat small, still voice is awe too often drown in a bathtub rather than followed to sail the see of previously unimagined places and experiences.  The common cents whirled bids us, with its overwhelming volume, to hoarse trade our whole lives for a ration awe might never yield.  We are tolled buy the hoarse traders of desire that desire, nay hope, is a hole that can never be filled.  Be not frayed of desire!  If you are to be swallowed, be swallowed whole!  May the algorithm and its numerable minions choke on me!  May you savor your better part of creation, beyond the machine, that is all the rage, rather indulging in the udder whole, the largesse life more than worth wile.

 	 If you are in control, then you are going too slow. SPIRITUAL BUTTON  	 It's Never Too Late to Have a Happy Childhood SPIRITUAL BUTTON 	 FEAR is a Four Letter Word SPIRITUAL BUTTON

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: Loving Your Enemas

The legal lists
Were longing
With who hurt
And who not heard
Attesting too
How much they love
They’re enemas
Only wading
For sue a side
As eminent just us
And inevitably knot
Passing the smell test

Look Ma No Arms (Peace Dove picture)--FUNNY PEACE BUTTONThis is a poem about the intractable mess of trying to love your enemies and kill them as well.  American Christianity generally considers pacifism a quaint way of life, tolerable in direct proportion to its relegation from the halls of power in church and state.  American Christianity has bought rather wholesale into war as a practical necessity — the necessity of evil, that is.  Wince again, the necessity defense is the greatest offense.  Is the oneness of humanity to be cleaved by the body of Christ?  For badder or worse, the inconvenient truth of dying for one’s enemy reliably leaves American Christians more than cross.  Object of War Not to Die for Your Country But Make Other Bastard Die for His--ANTI-WAR QUOTE BUTTONAt best, nationalism, and at its worst, imperialism, become the legal ism for such a knotty morality.  And if any prophets may bedevil such an undertaking, their fate is bound in the hands of a certain high priest, possessed buy inescapable logic: “You know nothing at all!  You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (John 11:51)  Yep, to gain the world and halve the whole world parish.  American Christians all to often worship a bastard son, pax Americana, a modern day roamin’ umpire, overruling with just US, and as per fuming so extravagantly that we don’t even realize we fail the smell test.

May awe of US unearth humility enough to execute amorality, in a creation fit for all — for Christ’s sake!

 	 I'm not a pacifist. I'm not that brave. Phil Donahue quote PEACE T-SHIRTPeace - Won for All - Peace Dove-PEACE BUTTON

Check out more pacifism designs.

POEM: Unannunciated Power

Power came to my home for dinner
Well, not actually my home, rather my house
Not in person, but through a representative
Witch some defer to as a medium
That would be TV
In accuracy, as sum political add
All the same
It’s doubt full
Much communion did cur
With such racket
At a terminal din
Only made conceivable
Because we were not at the table
Or like wise
Wee was only relevant
During commercial ventures
In urgent need of relief
Of such vapid paced annunciations
Passing buy consummate actors
And receptive johns
Cue public
As is
The super official weighs of power
Stay qualm
And carrion

It's Easier To Fool People Than To Convince Them That They Have Been Fooled -- Mark Twain quote POLITICAL BUTTONThis is a poem about the visitation — annunciation if you will — of power through the virtual medium of television, specifically political campaign ads.  Except for campaign season, powerful political players typically only pay cursory attention to your average citizen, and even a lot less to your less-than-average citizen.  However, when campaign season arrives, and the specter of democracy raises its ugly head, scores of political consultants and Madison Avenue ad men team up with choice demagogues to convince potential voters of their love of the common man, and occasional woman.  The uninvited guests of political ads are an invitation to empty one’s bladder or bowels.  There is little to miss by going to the john during such political intercourse.  Do You Suffer From Electile Dysfunction? The inability to be aroused by any political candidate POLITICAL BUTTONPreemptive candidates spin tales of unprecedented risks faced, conveniently exactly matching their protectorate available for the unremarkably small prize of your vote.  Superpredator super PACs feed off the fears of a moribund electorate.  The consolation prize of an unrewarding status quo somehow seems imminently reasonable.  The practicality of disappointing probabilities shocks and awes mere unadulterated possibilities and hope filled futures.  Weather handed 30 seconds or 60 seconds, wee are handed a second-hand government, where real power need not visit real homes occupied by real people.

We The People - Coming To An Election Near You! POLITICAL BUTTONPerhaps, instead of vainly expecting politicians to properly mete our needs, wee might want to take it to the seats of power, with much more to offer than getting out house.  May we unleash the solidarity and gumption needed to make democracy work for awe of us.

POEM: When Butterflies Aren’t Free

The butterfly has landed
A monarch of unspoiled nature
As we’d taken over
Urban land escapes
Of green carpet bombing
Convinced that lawn enforcement
Must be
On our side
Sow naturally lying
In trails
Of never ending growth
A cancer
Given the bird
To seed
And unkept dirt
In wild life
A refuge from sow called civilization
When butterflies aren’t free
As sum
How we are frayed
Too
Look out
The blinds
At nothing more
Then a sterile guardin’
Of mother nature
Missing awe
The flap about roil visitors
Immaculate preconceptions
And unworthy neighbors
Taking flight

This poem is inspired by my unkempt and unpoisoned backyard.  The memory is blazoned in my mind of reveling in the wildlife frolicking there being gleefully trumped by the serendipitous and regal appearance of a Monarch butterfly just feet from my face.  The earth is man's only friend. Bulgarian Proverb POLITICAL BUTTONThankfully, my neighborhood is much more free from widespread lawn poisoning than many Toledo neighborhoods.  I reel a bit whenever I see a lawn poisoning sign — yet another mourning representative of the sow called dawn of civilization.

I have a high tolerance for clutter and the apparent chaos of the wild we call nature.  I feel somewhat deprived and spiritually constipated amidst meticulously ordered lawns and landscaping, particularly when I know their maintenance requires poisons.  Such attention to pain staking order oft strikes me as an attempt to safely fence and order our external environment to address whatever felt chaos there may be in our life.  Also, I suspect that we too easily resort to the violence of poisons to enact our sense of order in the world, particularly when we are willing to surround our very homes with poison.  Awe of this was told me bye a little birdy and angelic butterfly.  May we find a way to live in peace with awe of our neighbors.

P.S. This poem employs the allusion to the play and movie, Butterflies Are Free, about blindness and seeing, and misguided attempts at mothering:

When butterflies aren’t free
As sum
How we are frayed
Too
Look out
The blinds
At nothing more
Then a sterile guardin’
Of mother nature

POEM: A Truth Foul

If you should believe
The hole truth
And nothing
A butt the truth
You may well be
Full if it
Perfectly primed
For letting go
Unable to be taken
Any more
By a singular won
Given
By an other

This poem, like many of my poems, can be understood (or misunderstood) many ways.  Mostly, this is a poem about both hubris and hope.  If we are so full of ourselves in our ability to ascertain the truth and we are skeptical enough to find believing nothing as a dominant mode, then we may very well dangerous to others seeking truth.  Hubris is the blinding arrogance of our own experience of truth as the dominant mode.  This is typically matched by a substantial discounting of others’ experience of truth.  Hubris is cynicism producing and the enemy of hope.  Hope is able to blossom when our perspective is genuinely open to others’ experiences and whatever current ideology we hold is alive enough to grow in the light of the living truth in other living beings.  This is typically paired with a humble attitude toward our own limited body of experiences.  I see true humility as a right-sizing of our place and role in the world (and universe).  True humility, as most commonly viewed, is not being too big or oversized.  Of course, true humility is also served by us rising up to whatever responsibility matches our particular endowment of moral agency and power.  Being too small is a vote for humiliation, not humility.  The line in the poem, “Unable to be taken,” similarly cuts both ways.  “Being taken,” as duped or cheated, is perhaps one of the most unwelcome and trust betraying realities in life.  I suspect that it is difficult to overestimate the effort we will employ to avoid such situations.  Similarly true, “being taken,” as in being taken by a lover or experience of overwhelming awe, can be profoundly life transforming in previously unimagined ways.  I think that the openness and vulnerability inherently in “being taken” inextricably links both forms/meanings.  Hardening oneself to being duped or cheated likewise hardens one’s ability and likelihood of enthrallment.  By cutting ourselves off from vulnerability and intimacy, we rob ourselves of its upsides, in essence throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  I posit that living a life that is not adept at being taken is a life that to that same degree is not fully lived.   May you find hope and enthrallment that is worth infinitely more than whatever you have been cheated out of life.

POEM: 24/7 on I-75 — Owed To Trafficking Noise

24/7 on I-75
Only herd
In the mourning
Quiet scarce
With the engines of freedom
Racing vicious cycles
In know way asking, “who cars?”
As you whirr
The buzz of the high way
The humdrum of civilization
The muffled rumble of capitalism
Consumerism trucking along
For what too commute
A bird’s eye spew
Of see oh too
Few
Know reason
Fore petroleum free way

This poem blends the high octane themes of noise pollution and petroleum pollution.  I typically notice the rumble of traffic in the morning as I am waking up and lying in bed.  This reminds me that silence really doesn’t exist in urban settings; we just tune out background noises during the busyness of our daze.  Passing my one-year anniversary without a car, I find automobiles and traffic increasingly alien to my preferred modes of being.  Someday, I hope to live some place where deep silence is easily accessible.  I suspect that the leisurely whispers of God may be best designed and intended for lovers of silence.  As it stands, the earth seems more populated by riotous dudes.   May you find the silent spaces in your life full, filling.