POEM: Sound of One Hand Clapping

What is the sound of one hand clapping?
For many, it is a slap of the forehead in exasperation
For some, it is a slap in the face of the asker
Could someone lend a hand on this one
Without doubling the trouble?

This poem is based on the infamous koan.  A koan, such as “what is the sound of one hand clapping,” is a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhists to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment.  I am inspired by Buddhist koans because they help free us from convergent thinking, the belief that there is a single best answer to any question.  Perceiving reality requires holding paradoxes within our consciousness.  A well-lived life requires balance and that balance is dynamic and always in flux.  This flux and movement is well captured by the question: which is more important, breathing in or breathing out?  The answer: It depends on what you have done last.  May you find balance in your life.  Surf the paradox!

POEM: Poetry From Afar

I once saw poetry from afar
Hopelessly afar
Its distance was too great to travel
That distance from the head to the heart
So I looked down
My continuous, comfortable cowardice was overcome
By an irresistible force
My head swimming
My knees wobbling
I fell
Into what could never be described
As love
Which no tour guide can reproduce

POEM: Autobiography Excerpt

The authorities’ lack of investigatory skills
Were more than made up
By his incriminating honesty

POEM: She Came

She came down the street
With such a scowl
Such a deep…
One-couldn’t-imagine demeanor
Her whole body
Like a wrecking ball
Laying waste
To awe before her
Everyone’s back to this wall
Only hoping
To escape
The coming wrath
A tsunami
Only as dry as ice
Wear winter takes all
And there I found myself
As I had taken that place before her
Like a frozen desert
Hopeless in every bearing
Destined that the last shall be thirst
And all else is a mirage
Drawing lines in the sand
Wading patiently
In a sea of tacts
As some badass mama deity
Protecting cubs who weren’t
To be
Over run
Only too cross
A beach no less
As we meet
Whirls, a part
For what
Could she give
A tidal wave
Bending this read
She screams out, “God!!…Man!!”
As she passes
Gone as soon as she came
Onlookers mumbling
Dude, what were you thinkin’?
I don’t know
I wasn’t paying attention to the outside
I thought I caught a glimpse of her inner beauty
As down the street she came
And I said to myself
Wouldn’t it be nice
If she were to scream out my name

POEM: Rule 161

Rule 161:
If trying to avoid death
Results in avoiding life
You are not avoiding death
You are avoiding life

Yep, if something results in the opposite of what you intend, then wisdom it ain’t.

POEM: Chrysalis of Security

I shed my chrysalis of security
Arising as a butterfly
Only then realizing
I was not the worm
That I appeared

I am struck by how the quest for security can easily become a prison.  Whether the quest for security is played out through money, material comforts, emotional familiarity, moral compromise, or big, juicy mental rationalizations, letting go of the known, familiar, and predictable seems necessary to take flight amidst the “unbearable lightness of being“.  Apparently, a common regret of the dying is about not having taken enough risks.  Well, we are all dying.  The question is really: Am I living?

POEM: Divine Lover

One day
I asked God
What is it all about?
There was only silence
But with the look he gave me
We’ve been lovers
Ever since

POEM: Worship Here and There

I heard that many people will travel miles
To go to church
I find so much worship between here and there
I rarely make it anymore

POEM: Where Lost Socks Go

The other day I stumbled upon
That place where lost socks go
And I thought to myself
Of course, that makes sense
I would love to tell you where it is
But then I would have to kill you

I’m not a big fan of violence, but I couldn’t resist the twist of the mobster cliche at the end; it seems very campy, over the top.  I’m just grateful that I found the place where clean socks go — the other place is hell!


POEM: Illiteracy

I am illiterate in hundreds of languages
And more so of the ones I know not of
At least that’s what a little birdie told me
Or so I think
I’m not really sure of
These languages for the birds

Justice For Danny Brown $149.02

Today, I have to go down to the Toledo Municipal Court and pay my fine and court costs of $149 for “illegal posting” of Justice for Danny Brown stickers and Julia Bates WANTED posters all over downtown, surrounding the Lucas County Courthouse, where Julia Bates, Lucas County Persecutor, holds the fate of Danny Brown within her poor judgment, blocking his exoneration and access to civil compensation for over 19 years of wrongful imprisonment.  Ms. Bates has stated that at this point it’s really about the money. Maybe she should run for treasurer rather than prosecutor.  As an act of poetic justice in the face of her intransigence, I will pay my fine and court costs with bills marked with “Justice For Danny Brown .com”, as pictured below:

Justice for Danny Brown marked bills

I couldn’t resist adding my two cents, as a tip, in case my main plea for justice is declined.  Typically, I write “Money is NOT Free Speech!” on my paper bills, but in this case, since it is “all about the money”, I will pay for my not-so-free speech this way.

For better or worse, my stickering may not be a gateway crime (simply an escalating misdemeanor) — I see a lot of stick-ups in my future…

POSTSCRIPT: With three armed guards protecting my lone self entering the Toledo Municipal Court, a fortress of law, I knew that evildoers would scatter from their inevitable cross-fire should freedom get out of hand.  When I handed to the clerk my stack of marked bills topped off with my shiny two cents, she proferred a blank look, as if a 5 gram copper monkey wrench had been thrown into the works.  Apparently, in the give and take of life, the court is adept at take, but unfamiliar with give.  With all the tender that is legal, she rendered another blank look when I added, “I prefer to offer my two cents, literally and figuratively, in these types of transactions.”  I saved her from further trauma by re-claiming the two cents.  A wiser guy might open an IRA or something, but I’m going to continue searching for venues where my two cents is welcome.

I have now paid my debt to society, though my rent of activism for living on this plant is still overdue.

POEM: Squandered Life

I have squandered my life
On poetry
And making love
If only I had kept a cleaner house
Said no one ever!

POEM: Empty Plates With Dancing Tales

Empty Plates With Dancing Tales

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

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

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

POEM: Past, Future, Now

Past, Future, Now

Looking back
Looking forward
It makes my head spin
Except for now
And now
And now…

POEM: Unfed Just Desserts

Poets are born, die, crushed by writer’s block or a cruel world, and are reborn again and again.  The world can be a desert at times, sometimes worse.  Yet, as a child, an infant in the arms of a mysterious universe that somehow cares for us, we are fed.  We launch ships and create beauty that remains largely unseen.  But, like the macaroni art that only a mother could love, we return to our source, a home, even if a home to no other; and we take a place of honor, as a sentinel on a doorway to that place where Mom’s food is stored.

Unfed Just Desserts

When I find myself
I play
The child
Solid food
Not with standing
In a world of
Make believe
Partial to
Anew born
Who finds their nourishment
Spewed about
Much to the dismay
Of those with
More mature tongues
And ingenious mines
No amount of trains or planes
Could carry the sustenance
I re-choir
Though utterly captivated
My self
I let out a powerful wail
Enough blubber
To endow
A thousand poor SOBs
Any mother knows what I’m talking about!
And I am herd
As I
Go on
An umbilical chord
Sending me to my womb
Wear a dinner awaits
Unserved in any dining room
Just desserts

POEM: Can God Make A Billboard SO BIG That…

God is bigger than any box or labels we can imagine.  I think of those epic movie beginnings where the letters scroll across the whole screen, at most one at a time, so you really have to pay attention to read the words.  Can you imagine having to read an essay, poem or textbook about God that way?  Here is the poem un-capturing that:

I suspect that God is well practiced
At making bill boards so big
That we can’t read them from our ad vantage



POEM: Nature’s Guardin’

This poem goes out to all those who showed up on May Day for the groundbreaking of Toledo Occupy the Garden.

Nature’s Guardin’

Nature spills
From pots unpurchased
It knows no law but its own
Openly heiring its dirty secrets
Breaching our wreck tangles
Finding its way
Under our nails
Weeds reclaiming that which can never be lost
Even in death
Oddly giving
It’s all a plot
And weave awe
Be planted
To be
A rested
Where there is no crime
Drop buy
The guardin’
Or leave no witnesses
So goes the weigh of nature

POEM: I Suspect

Here is a May Day poem, where metaphysical optimism crashes into empirical skepticism.  Will we simply crash and burn?  Or, will we rise like a Phoenix from the ashes?  Stay tuned…

I suspect

I suspect
God is
The greatest
Another Case
As the whirled unrivals
As wee
Per severe
As we in cyst
In decisiveness
Receive only
A silent answer
Deifying the laws of gravity
What trail of clues
Could we possibly fallow
In too the forced?
A Candide house
In witch to live
Or worse yet, in ovens
Mere bread crumbs
Long the way
Consumed by others
In an inquisition
What could passibly be incite?
Like pop corn
Under cover
With more heat than light
Blowing our tops
Not taking know for an answer
Nothing but
A mess haul
Leading know where
What more all fiber
We knead
Sow un-pallet-able die it
Doody-bound to ask, “Where’s the better?”
The haystack needles us
As a single blade of grass
Mysteriously cuts through our encyclopedic egos
Wet the hay!
Rudely ruminating
For an unherd of fourth tine
How can we stomach it?
We have a cow
To match our bull
Sterile and next to godliness
Making love
With a test tube and a bleaker
Open minds and vacant hearts
A terminal generation
Overcome by they’re first
Fore knowledge
Over looking
Clothesing one’s I’s
So unsightly
As life’s wizzed ’em
Over taken
Buy history
Doomed to replete it
Prospect us
With pre-science
And art
Like a conundrum
None the less
Dissecting all of life
With a pile of tripe
As we complain of the stench
Of our own making
(Or un-making as the case may be)
If God were to show his face in this town
The lessen would certainly be learned
Love hurts
The hair of the dog
On the run
Never quiet feeling like homme
He would, in all probability, be epically misunderstood
From the powers that be down to a best friend
Likely murdered by both
A merciless alien power
And the icons of the culture he was born into
Un-Abel to walk unscathed through a crowd of birthers
For they couldn’t pick him out of a lineup
In the company of drunks, tax collectors, and fools
In a holding cell
Wading for some final trial
With a thousand co-Pilates and no one at the helm
Staging a mock revolution
Where the only truth is that
What goes around comes around
Accept some con-science
And the inevitable quest in
Beyond the reach of a court of laws
Some lurking undiscovered
Lost in a holey see of overlooked graces
Born free
So far from home
In one’s living room
A naiveté of a starless night
On the out in an inn-less locale
Only there for another’s senses
Borne stuffed
To the rafters
Full of hay
Only longing
To be assistant manger
Nothing more
Than what thou dust
Surrounded by animals
Where the “nays” have it
Guilty by dissociation
Given birth
By an absentee father
The biggest mother of all
I suspect
Not countering upon
The distracted
The brutalized
And hard working skeptics
Unresigned to forest labor
Sisyphean mountaintops
Out to sea
Beyond the vale
Beyond damn nations
To pay the fined
The greatest miracles unearth