POEM: In A Family Weigh

The future looms
Sew large
As we seam
Sow singularly stranded
In the present
Weave heir
A parent
With know designs
Beyond
Sum won ails
And grater still
The mine wandering
Too what end
As life goes
On and on
In and out
Adding up
One’s soul contribution
The pit or pattern
Of little feat
Never apart
Of the family busyness

This poem is about solidarity and hope.  At times, each of us may feel alone, facing an uncertain future.  This poem sets such worries and fears in the context of being part of the human family, children of God.  You are not alone.  While our individual actions may seem futile, they are an undeniable thread in the fabric of the future.  Even when we feel screwed, the future is pregnant with possibilities.  Not Your Obligation to Complete Your Work But Not at Liberty to Quit--PEACE QUOTE BUTTONThe Talmud wisely states, “It is not your obligation to complete your work, but you are not at liberty to quit.”  Change is ongoing — such is the nature of life.  Works worthy of the human race (versus the rat race) cross generations — even races!   Worthy hopes and dreams often need to live on across generations; thus, our hopes and dreams must pass the test of being in a family weigh.  As native Americans might put it: the arc of our lives should be aligned with the lives seven generations from now.  The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice--Martin Luther King, Jr. BUTTONFurther, as Martin Luther King, Jr. assured us, “The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.”  Wherever your journey takes you, may you find courage and hope in the company of others, and do your part taking care of the family busyness.

 

 

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The Opposite of Courage In Our Society Is Not Cowardice; It Is Conformity -- Rollo May quote POLITICAL BUTTONCourage - The Other National Deficit POLITICAL BUTTONHatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated. George Bernard Shaw quote PEACE BUTTON

POEM: Curt-sy

He was packing
Enough courtesy
In a singular hi
More sow
Than a jillion marketers
Shooting their wad of scripts

Most people seem to be in a hurry most of the time.  This poem is about courtesy and curtness.  This short poem was inspired by a telephone call from the American Red Cross asking me to donate platelets since I was eligible three days after my recent whole blood donation.  The telemarketer, blood donor recruitment associate, or whatever he might have been called, called nicely enough.  After thanking me for my 48 blood donations, I indicated to him that I intended to stick with my long-successful strategy of donating a few times a year.  His script was replete with ingratiations alternating with asks.  I’ve asked a number of times before for the Red Cross to stop calling me 58 days after each donation.  They managed to call me after 38 days.  This being the third poem I wrote today, I had a couple of minutes to spare, so I listened to the short end of his shtick.  What caught my attention was the well-designed courtesy sounding a byte like a 33-record played at 45 (a reference for you old folks).  I suspect his worth is valued more by the number of calls rather than their quality.  As a patient in his hospitality, I wish him productive heeling.  Needle-less to say, I felt a bit like I was in a lineup for someone trying to break a whirled record for the most thank yous in a day.  Such experiences capture my issue with our fixation on quantity over quality — probably because it’s easier to be measured.  Personally, I practice hearty greetings, even to replete strangers.

 

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: Sinking Ship

When a ship is sinking
It may be wiser to follow the rats
Rather than the humans
That is, if you can tell the difference

This Titanic poem juxtaposes the zeniths and abysses of humans, created only a little less than angels, and rats, a generally unappreciated part of the human experience.  This poem sets up a contrast of the ingenuousness of Western civilization and the oft underappreciated wisdom in nature.  Amidst the myriad of human-created crises, looking to nature for wisdom can cut through a lot of foolishness.  Rats are less complicated creatures than humans, not as prone to confused and conflicted decision-making.  This simplicity can be lifesaving in life threatening situations.  Of course, when humans are at their lows they are less reliable guides for behavior than rats and exceedingly more dangerous.  Calling a human a rat is considered derogatory, but in some situations rats exceed human performance.  Maybe we should cut rats some slack.  Similarly, in our foolish scurryings about, perhaps we should refrain from the term “rat race,” as this also may be unfair to rats.

POEM: Being Human Takes Time

Being human takes time
Sometimes going in slow motion
Gets you there faster
Neither switching channels
Nor reading the last chapter first
Helps the race
Turn off the technology of the moment
And turn on to your own life story
Or the race is done

POEM: Life is a 45 Record

Life is a 45 record
Most of us are playing it as a 78
Or perhaps we are being played
Few are old enough to get this
Even fewer are wise enough

Most of us lived life rushed.  For those of us old enough to remember 45 records AND 78 records (or record players), 78s were played at a much faster speed.  Playing any 45 record at 78 is likely to sound more chipmunkish than human.  If chipmunk sounds normal to you then you probably don’t get this.  If chipmunk sounds envelop your life and you find this annoying, then there is hope.  The wise slow down and experience life as it is meant to be…

P.S. If you don’t know what a record is, don’t worry, it isn’t any kind of record.

POEM: The Human Race Is Not Well Done

The human race
Is
Not
Well
Done

I like the short poem because in seven words in five lines it can be read several different ways.  The human race can be seen both as a species and as an actual race, such as a foot race or a rat race.  Whether or not this race, either way you take it, is done well or, well, done is an open question.  You can meditate on that one for yourself, and for others if you like…