POEM: A Bout Zen

This poem borrows from a Zen story where a monk is in a boat quietly meditating with their eyes closed in the middle of a faraway lake. When the monk hears a loud sound and the boat rocks, the monk opens his eyes and turns to see what is presumably another person who let their boat hit the monk’s boat. The monk sees an empty boat and realizes that the monk’s anger is inside themselves, simply provoked by a outside trigger. The notion of an empty boat triggering one’s anger instead triggered the monk’s enlightenment.

A Bout Zen

His bout
Skimmed long
In the mourning fog
Until P.O.W.!!
He spun
In anger
Than seeing
An other
Empty bout
He was a loan
With his madness
Of would that could
Only know one too blame
That tragic given
And unwilling
To take it
Fore won self

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POEM: On Sand They Billed

“Building on a foundation of sand” is an ancient cautionary metaphor that our modern, so-called civilization often seems to run over roughshod. Literally jumping from one unsustainable practice to the next unsustainable practice often seems like a fair characterization of modernity and the ultimately brutal logic of capitalism. This poem resembles the apocryphal saying that the capitalist will sell the rope for their own hanging…

On Sand They Billed

On sand
They billed
Their civilization
Only then realizing
The price of sand
So moving
Their civilization
To less substantial grounds
Sand in merchant eyes
Anchoring their future
As purveyors
Souled out

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POEM: The Universe Winks

Have you ever had the universe wink at you?

The Universe Winks

A thousand millennia ago
Before you were
A twinkle in your parents’ eyes
A son of another galaxy
Shone brightly
In that precise direction
Of whom you would be
Array of light
Fore what peers
Across time and space
In the smallest of presence
Awe for me
A gift of note
I am
Just saying
Look up
Look up

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POEM: Snugly Lodged

In case you were wondering why anxiety and fear sometimes seem to creep up on us humans…

Snugly Lodged

I was wresting
Quiet comfortably
In my nice warm bed
Pondering the seeming conundrum
Of why wee humans are
So offed
Anxious and afraid
When it struck me
We are travailing 15,000 miles per hour
Threw space
Wile spinning 1,000 miles per hour
Living on the thinnest of crusts
Between a sea of red hot molten iron
And the frozen vacuum of space
And we are reduced
To spend hour daze
Making sense
It occurred too me
I may want to re-considerate
Wearing that fine
A peril
Of the whys
Snugly lodged
Between denial and terror

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POEM: The World’s Youth on Fire

This poem goes out the young climate activists demanding a livable world who made a federal case out of their constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happy nest dismissed by a federal appellate court.

The World’s Youth on Fire

A generation burned
By fossil fools
Over seeing their children’s
As well
As grand, grand, grand
A ground zero of end less grands
A generation sow owed
We got hours
In this age a Biden
As for you
Your climate daze
And green years yearned
You are now
The sentries of ages to come
Once again bidden
The highest prize
More than
Your own
A brood
Out classing
Your grave cradlers

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POEM: Our Fear Less Leader

If aiding and abetting genocide does not make you unfit for the highest public office, then I don’t know what would. I am sick and tired of being told we have to vote for the least totally unfit candidate for office. Whatever fear we have of experiencing domestic abuse or perpetrating international abuse, we need to unite for something that resembles our collective liberation. We can do better. This poem goes out to all of our Palestinian siblings and global citizens everywhere yearning for all to be free from injustice. Let us demand leaders worthy of our humanity.

Our Fear Less Leader

Our clan was frayed
He was the staunchest of alloys
The highest cocktail of militarist and civilian
He trafficked in arms
As well as dismembered legs
He killed my brother
He killed my sister
He killed their children
The worst of led poisoning
No ordinance could stop such ordnance
His motto was “Know won above the law”
A proprietary formula
And when me and my kin
Cry, “OUT!”
Hoping to set a boundary
Regarding relations
A tale as owed as time
What due wee here
From our commandeering chief
And awe his partisans
To what
I say
Not due
What ails
Can be tolled
Perpetually un-stated
Razing any question
Of being
Considered holy
Unfit for highest office
As totally un-presidented

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POEM: Proper Preying

This poem is based on a traditional Zen story of two very different perspectives on what was seemingly a straightforward thing, revealing the importance of our inner lives. The story pits two Zen monks, one who is a monk smoking, and another Zen monk who is anti-smoking…

Proper Preying

Fore seasons unend
At the break of daze
Two monks sat in the courtyard
One with his cigar
Resting in hand
And rhythm inhaling
For seaming eternity
The other more well versed
In mourning prayer
Wrested his mine
With thoughts of smoke
Desiring to clear the heir
By weigh of their mutual master
With separate metings
The master showed compassion
Toward the complainant and his perspective
Giving him satisfaction
Then taken aback
As the one monk peered
As well
With parent satisfaction
The one monk said to the other
Seeing his dis affection
Pray tell, what was your quest in
Which was razed?
The other pro claimed
“Is it proper to smoke while praying?”
To which the master replied, “no.”
Did you not take such a rebuke to heart?!
Well for me, that was not my quest in
I inquired, “Is it proper to pray while smoking?”

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POEM: The Beat of Exclusive Clubs

Other than for hardcore atheism, my spiritual beliefs ran the gamut, something for everyone. I am a spiritual mutt. Probably the most apt description would be “unorthodox.” I detest fundamentalism. I was raised Christian and spent most of my life practicing Christianity. I am deeply infused with Christian perspectives, imagery, and sacred texts. I find truth and God as far too big and mysterious to be adequately captured by one, or even all, religious/spiritual perspectives. If some may consider this a cop out, I say, “Out with cops!”

The Beat of Exclusive Clubs

The other day I got kicked out
Of an atheist’s exclusive club
Tolled in know uncertain terms
There is science
And no other!
Wow, where did that come from?!
I was razed
A Christian
A long story (some may say tall)
Which makes some short
Red chapters
Heavenly verse
To love
One, an other
To bless
Not curse
A Palestinian Jew
Called Jesus
We could do much worse
I once heard as Muslim
Of five pillars spoke
Coming down to one
And as a Muslim
I woke
Then along came Buddha
Who said: Don’t follow me
Experience it first
Which made me want to follow
This unslakable thirst
Too fined compassion and justice
A home
On this suffering earth
A little man
Called Gandhi
To kingdoms united
He spoke
I am
A Hindu
A Christian
A Muslim
A Jew
And undoubtedly a Sikh he
So many will accuse
Me too!

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POEM: A Head of Belief

I’ve heard that the longest distance is from the head to the heart. This poem is one take on this. I’ve been known to get stuck in my head, even well-intentioned, disconnected from my heart.

A Head of Belief

He stood
Up on his belief
Only to find his head
The furthest from its foundation

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POEM: A Mirror Student

Looking at myself seems to be a common denominator in successfully working through interpersonal issues. Reflections from others and the world around me can be very instructive on the nature of my inner life and its knotty workings. Taking care of by own busyness with honesty and grace frees me up to be a better me, which quiet reliably improve my relationship with others.

A Mirror Student

When the student is ready
The faculties peer
Only too make an inordinate seeing
In the mist
Of those knot ready
With sheer class
And silver linings
Sow thin
They are only culpable
Of reflecting
Won self
At a time
That is right

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POEM: Job One

For a job I be looking…

Job One

My job
Is to see you
As God sees you
Nothing more
Nothing less

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POEM: Dawning of So-called Civilization

Uncertain daze I am not such a fan of civilization. I am learning to value disillusionment. Who needs illusions? Seeing the good, the bad, and the ugly seems like a better way to realize our dreams.

Dawning of So-called Civilization

Then it dawned on me
What is it
A bout?
More sow
Called realization
And less so-called civilization

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POEM: The Dance of Life

Enjoy the dance!

The Dance of Life

Two steps forward, one step back
Two steps backward, one step forward
One step forward, three steps back
Three steps forward, one step back
Right, right, way too right
Left, left, left again…and again and again
Left, right, left
Left, right, left
Two steps forward, one step back
Volunteers take one step forward
Non-volunteers take one step back
The dance of life

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POEM: Barren His Soul

I wrote this poem in 2018 when the Donald Trump hush money case with porn star Stormy Daniels was being investigated as a violation of election laws. Unfortunately, years and years later this case is just coming to trial. When it comes to the U.S. criminal justice system we have a choice, in true American fashion: broke or fixed.

Barren His Soul

Barren his soul
Too the world
Know need for nondisclosure agreements
Get his
Won weigh or the other
Weather the system

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POEM: Hope Ungraduated

This is a poem that plays with the fact that I graduated from Hope College. I have literally graduated from hope! Of course, hope is not simply something that can be metered out in a “graduated” fashion, and neither hoard not whored. Hope abides, springing eternally.

Hope Ungraduated

I am
A graduate of Hope College
And I have the B.S. to prove it
In the first degree
After hi school
That is
Hope would be
A religious school
If schools could be
And men were of letters
More sow
Than what can be
Given berth
After a few semesters
Of liberal arts
Only to find won self
Hope ungraduated
In countering
Life as a vocation
You must
As well
Pain the tuition
Endure mean wile
Hope simply abides
Thirst and last
The alpha and omega
Besting every succeeding generation
Unleashed with that which is

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POEM: The Lessen of Mirror Nihilism

On occasion, when someone thanks me for doing something, I have been known to say, with a bit of satire, “If I didn’t do it someone else would.” Of course, in a great many instances, this is not true. My response is meant as a reminder that what we do matters. The response of “If I didn’t do it someone else would,” when one is doing something sketchy or questionable is perhaps one of the laziest rationalizations we have. Such a well-learned helplessness is a vote for nihilism and a small ducking of an opportunity to exercise our moral force to make the world a little better of a place to cohabitate. Please feel free to exercise these small helpings. Even the smallest acts of courage and kindness matter.

The Lessen of Mirror Nihilism

Thank you
That’s really great
∅ that
If I didn’t
Due that
Someone else would have
∅ those Lilliputian victories
Every won no’s
Nothing madders

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POEM: An Artist And

This poem is a reflection on the tension between an artistic vocation and the pull to become a commercial success. Creating art and monetizing art are often extremely different things.

An Artist And

She was a consummate artist
Sow she could wrest
That she was in know danger
Of commercial success

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POEM: What is De-served?

In a grievance-filled whirled, there is often attention brought to rights violations, particularly when it is one’s own rights that are violated. Of course, rights are meaningless without responsibilities to secure those rights. This is where the chasm in securing such rights emerges: devoting prodigious energy on securing one’s own rights without a commensurate effort on securing the rights of others and all. I am a huge fan of human rights and consider developing a culture of responsibilities to secure those rights for all is a foundation for all of my social action. I view the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the best cross-cultural and secular expression of rights and their commensurate responsibilities.  If we do not strike a fair balance of securing rights for ourselves AND others, then we will undercut our own ability, and moral authority, to secure rights for ourselves. This poem reflects on this reality of humanity failing to serve up the responsibilities required to secure rights for all resulting in an insecure world that we de-serve.

What is De-served?

In the heart
Of life
There are rights
And responsibilities
As well
Fore awe
That can ever be yearned

In the mine
Over yours
There is a whirled
Of consequences
And that what should happen to

With respect too
Human rights
There are
Responsibilities too
Due the same
As well
Such potable virtues

When it comes down
To human wrongs
As far as you will
Weather getting even
Or grieving be foul
Karma runs over
Our three-legged dogmas

And what due
We get
What we serve
Or de-serve

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POEM: Baby-ize

We awe start as twinkles in someone’s eye’s. Reflecting on this may help us recognize our common origins and shared destinies.


She looked at me
Without pretension
In two me
That soul window
As easily won
As lost
From that eternal place
From where babies emerge
And we awe
Ultimately merge

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POEM: A Walker, Please

My Dad got out of the hospital yesterday, after falling on his butt and crushing a vertebrae and a disc last week. After a successful surgery to stabilize his back and reduce the pain, he was transferred to the assisted living unit (“The Harbors”) of the independent living community that he resides in. By the time the hospital discharged him and arranged transport, it was after 5 pm when he arrived. He was prescribed a walker, but the appropriate staff was not available “after hours” to professionally fit him for a walker. So, the staff told him in bureaucratic detail why they could not provide him a walker as ordered. This was unsatisfactory and unsatisfying, to say the least. To make a long story short, I skulked about and found the rehab room unlocked, where there was a pile of dozens of walkers just wading for a purpose in life. I borrowed one and snuck it back into his room. Fortunately, after the deed was done, the staff were fine with such a miraculous delivery. I was glad to leap the seemingly impassable chasm between talking the talk and walking the walk. This poetic act simply assures that my Dad is both suitably equipped and quipped.

A Walker, Please

Exiting a hospitality
Of a different kind
And still
Needing to ambulate
He sought safe harbor
With a prescription
For an assistive device
Abetting man
To take crucial steps
In rehabilitation
Of this nursing homme
Of which he got their too late
Except for their can’t do attitude
Unable to bring to heal
Such a bureaucratic chasm
Only making cross
Bye talking the talk
Such a spiritual infirmity
Incompatible with his physic
Begging to walk the walk
Fortunately, that kin due
Was awe ready there
The walker you want
To sea in the whirled
And safe harbor secure
Feat away
In a soulless rehab space
Was a stock pile
In riched by dear departed patience
Of dry bones crying out
For the most skeletal of purposes
Wading there
For even the sparsest of flesh
As say an 89-year-owed
Holding up
Yet won more time
As in this instant
The son shines
Through such murky daze
In an end run
Bye not just
Talking the talk
But walking the walk
In a we weigh
No bones about it
As order doctored
Heal and tow
The possible now
Fully quipped

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