POEM: Pâté Time Is Soon Over

She re-lied
Over
And over
Up on safety in numbers
A calculating codeness
Betraying her art
Sow low and be holed
In common denominations
A loan in security
As helled together
Buy fences
And dam banks
A laundering cache
Never coming clean
Wile every thing stat
Like awe get out
Eating it up
And getting
As goaled in goose eggs
Nothing
Fast
As pâté time
Is soon over

This poem addresses a familiar theme in my poetry: the hollowness of chasing money in the vain quest for security.  Love Greater Than Money (Heart) - POLITICAL BUTTONThe signature puns in this poem — “goaled in goose eggs” and “pâté time” —  serve as a bit of a screening mechanism to cull out those familiar with high society.  Many might recognize the golden goose reference from the fairy tale, as well as goose eggs signifying zero or zeroes.  Fewer will know what pâté is, a highfalutin French food that is mixture of cooked ground meat and fat minced into a spreadable paste.  Even fewer will know that goose liver is used in an even more highfalutin version of such swanky sustenance.  I suspect that awe will eventually know that none of this matters.  As Shakespeare so aptly noted, “All is vanity.”  Certainly, life doesn’t add up.  Though, life does seem better lived looking up.  May we find the value of life in such presents.

Feel free to browse my designs about the role and value of money in life and politics:

What Money Can't Buy - Medicine But Not Health, A House But Not A Home, Finery But Not Beauty, Luxuries But Not Culture, Amusements But Not Happiness POLITICAL BUTTONMoney is the Root of All Politics - POLITICAL BUTTONMake Love, Not Money POLITICAL BUTTON

If you want to know what god thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to. Dorothy Parker quote SPIRITUAL BUTTONYou cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24) Bible quote SPIRITUAL BUTTONThere Is No Gift Like The Present SPIRITUAL BUTTON

Someone Else Is Happy With Less Than You Have POLITICAL BUTTON

POEM: Brew Aha

In the mettle of this
Brew aha
Beside myself
I took a stand
In countering
Such ponderous courting
How civil this obedience
Wear black
And white lies
Segregated
Only spotted
As if
Sent out to posture
Presumptuous in a sense
Hankering and pining
For a lessen in manors
A peace of cake
Where there cannot be
Moor to see
From the grate beyond
Beyond boarders
Is it sow untoward
A peace of meet
Only Abel
Too illicit
Just a position
In a neighborly weigh
Only taken in
Buy such con text
The privilege of preaching to a pact crowd
Per chased by background checks
Belting out promissory notes
Not worth a single digit
Nor circling the wagons
In a parent blackface
Falling off
Won’s bluff
Of unending figuring
For a fraction of pi
Her ratio
Of protracted circumference
Over the shortest distance between points
Ever present friend
Over cunning counsel
More than subject
To this hamlet
Their I stood
Quiet a seeing
As others
Might due
The riot thing
For wanton reason
And only if
My silence aloud
My batter judgment
Too get the best of me
Admitted to a transcendent hospitality
As dumb found patients
For which we stand
The qualm before the storm
Overcoming that which is
Fast fooled
Bringing order to the unrule he
Untold smiles to go
For better than even
As they crack me up
Or split my side
I live
For that aha moment
Heart and neck stretching
All the wile
Rapping accord
That can’t be broken
So I’m tolled

This is a poem about white privilege and racism, social justice and civil disobedience, and quite literally, putting some skin into the game.  The brew aha theme offers a lighter, more ethereal tone to the poem.  This poem addresses the immanent dangers of being deeply rooted in both transcendent realities and harsh physical and social realities.  Race is the species argument driving this narrative.  White privilege is the real dope here.  Only such unmerited advantage can inspire such twisted rationalizations for ongoing supremacy and gross injustices.  The challenges are great for both those to renounce unmerited advantage and for those to swim upstream against deep-seated oppression.  Though there is no doubt that the ultimate accountability for justice rests with those who hold unmerited advantage over others.

From a literary point of view, I am quite enamored with the blending of mathematical pi with Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Horatio in:

Falling off
Won’s bluff
Of unending figuring
For a fraction of pi
Her ratio
Of protracted circumference
Over the shortest distance between points
Ever present friend
Over cunning counsel
More than subject
To this hamlet

Amidst the endless, fruitless scheming in Hamlet (Falling off/Won’s bluff/Of unending figuring/For a fraction of pi), Horatio (Her ratio) defines the whole of pie fully in his loyal and unpretentious friendship with Hamlet (Of protracted circumference/Over the shortest distance between points).  And with that last phrase, perhaps I’ve even invented a new poetical form: die a meter.  Of course, Horatio (mathematically) proves his loyalty, offering a true home for Hamlet, more than mere pandering to royalty (Ever present friend/Over cunning counsel/More than subject/To this hamlet).

As recounted elsewhere:

At the end of the play, Horatio proposes to finish off the poisoned drink which was intended for Hamlet, saying that he is ‘more an antique Roman than a Dane’, but the dying prince implores Horatio not to drink from the cup and bids his friend to live and help put things right in Denmark; “If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, / Absent thee from felicity a while, / And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain / To tell my story.” Hamlet, speaking of death as “felicity”, commands Horatio to wait “a while” to tell the story; perhaps Hamlet dies expecting his friend to follow as soon as the complete story has been told.

Perhaps one of the greatest honors we have in life is to witness and re-tell the stories of others.  May we each live lives worth re-telling…

POEM: To Not Mirrorly Be

The powers that be
Screw you
Then you screw me
I don’t blame you
Do you blame me?
Either weigh
We don’t have
To be that way
An open secret
For awe to see
And not mirrorly be
Everywhere I look
Far and near
Strange and dear
There’s power in me
There’s power in you
It’s up to you
It’s up to me
Much the same
The powers that be
A tempting
To possess awe
But a clue
Of sow sow much
That is
Really
Too due

Eric Hoffer said, “When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.” While in many situations this may be perfectly acceptable, the evolution of humanity and each human depends upon exercising a judgment that transcends the reactionary forces of an equal and opposite reaction for every action.  This judgment, or will, is by its very nature counter-cultural, that is transformative of any given set of cultural conditions, oft referred to as the powers that be.  Any set of rules present in any society are not inclusive of our fullest being.  It is this fullest being, or perhaps a glimpse or shadow of it, which haunts our highest hopes as part of humanity.  The notion of human rights is rooted in this vision.  This perpetual journey toward fulfilling our fullest being unites us as actors on the set (a shared reality) of a play defined partly by the powers that be.  The more space we carve out in our collective and individual lives for this fuller being the more we act freely, not simply having our lives written for us, and following a script handed to us.  Shakespeare’s take on this metaphor outlines the typical stages in which we act, albeit more morose than my own:

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then, the whining school-boy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then, a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then, the justice,
In fair round belly, with a good capon lined,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, spoken by the melancholy Jaques in Act II, Scene VII

May you find yourself acting freely amidst whatever stage you find yourself, and not mirrorly be made in the image of simply an amassment of whatever reactionary forces operate upon your life.

POEM: As the Show Must…Go On!

As the Show Must…Go On!

theatrical-masksDesperately seeking an audience
With kings, queens, and commoners
Call in the troupes!
Who will perform her
Aspiring thespians
Willing to do Shakespeare
Or any low brow play right
As parts are parts
Whether broad way
Or way, way off
A bawdy comedy
As familiar as drama
And as Greek as tragedy
Of chorus
Getting a leg up
On those with less rhythm
Two bit players
Ticketed by seasons
Perhaps a woman of an uncertain age
Seeking the roll of a lifetime
The lines are long
And few are chosen
Luckily
Protagonists
And amateurs all
Make for stiff competition
Breaking a leg
To be cast
Blinded by fancies
Of bright lights
And paid with applause
In dark rooms
Only wishing they were someone else
Until curtains for all
Calling them out
Unmasked
And wearing customs
Both foreign and familiar
Giving spy to private moments
And public scenes
Usual suspects
And unusual characters
Tugging hearts
And funny bones tickled
Inhabiting the dreams of others
Constructing story after story
With strapping sets
And suggestive facades
Getting down to it
With a portending fear
Of under study
Practicing your lyin’s
Until with sincerity
Putting on
A peril
As gossamer as taut
Utterly made up
Like guise and dolls
Hoping to hold up
To bright lights on disquieting duds
As once alive audience
Recumbent in such getups
Prone to rein checks
Less than charitably
If over season
Choice words
Employed too generously
Making out like a bandit
As if
Amateurs turn pro feign
Still putting on errs
In a sense
Beyond approach
Unless crying
Author! Author!
Then too
Their credit
Setting the stage
For public scrutiny
And curtains
For private dramas
To play right
And becoming actors
As some life long
Vocation
With every few weeks run
From the on set
Fashioning a dress
Rehearsal
Imagining you’ve arrived
Opening night
Wear all cheap talk
Is exchanged for some notorious scrip
Taking another’s word
As one’s own is silenced
Propping up delicate worlds
That can be destroyed
Like cellophane crumbling
A hard candy to swallow
Or cell profane
Making a bard dandy too hollow
To see stars circling and falling
Uniformly emptying the stage
For the row to follow
B4 you sunk my battle
Ship ahoy
Can you hear me now?
Ushering out
The end of
A cacophonous patron
Of coarse, it could be
A night mare to be ridden
Into the next production
A play within a play
Full of mock puns
Yielding false starts
And startling double-takes
As hearts race
And our worst fears ketchup with us
Dying on stage
Putting our best end forward
Too sad a claim
Enough to bring the house down
Or perhaps so fetching
From the edge of one’s seat
To recover
As unruly
As the show must
Go on
In her dialogue
Not with standing
Ovations
Out laud
A cross the country side
Only just surviving by assuming another’s name
A compelling ingénue-ity
Making up for every pre-tense
As you take the stage
With your commanding presents
Though petrified
Masking it well
With a wink and a smile
You totally rock
And given props
Taking flight
Not walking on water, but skipping
A stones throw from the coast
Safely in the pocket
Like music in your years
One for the ages
And all for won
Giving berth
To the generations
Of awe uplifting
And knaves razing
Ever suspending disbelief
As a play
Like a child
Takes a village

This poem is a gift and a tribute to my sweetheart and muse, Maryjo.  She is an actress about to be in a Neil Simon play, Proposals, put on by the Village Players, here in Toledo.  Her son, Connor, is also acting in this play.  Maryjo has fulfilled many of my dreams, not the least of which is dating a beautiful actress!

You can download a printable PDF version of this poem here.

This poem was accompanied by a prop: a pocket-sized, polished orthoceras fossil which looks like a theatrical mask winking!  This serendipitous token helps explain the verses near the end of the poem:

Though petrified
Masking it well
With a wink and a smile
You totally rock
And given props
Taking flight
Not walking on water, but skipping
A stones throw from the coast
Safely in the pocket
Like music in your years
One for the ages

May all of life’s theatrics bring you real joy!

POEM: Monkeys with Typewriters

If you put a hundred monkeys with typewriters in a room
Would there be any way to tell
That it wasn’t the Fox News copy room?

This short poem is a parody of both the infinite monkey theorem and Fox News.

“The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.  In this context, “almost surely” is a mathematical term with a precise meaning, and the “monkey” is not an actual monkey, but a metaphor for an abstract device that produces an endless random sequence of letters and symbols. The relevance of the theorem is questionable—the probability of a monkey exactly typing a complete work such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet is so tiny that the chance of it occurring during a period of time even a hundred thousand orders of magnitude longer than the age of the universe is extremely low (but not zero).”

So, if you watch Fox News long enough you should see the complete works of William Shakespeare!  And they said Fox News viewers have a short attention span — and no taste!  Unfortunately, Fox News is not random.  In this case, randomness would be a blessing.  If only Fox News were merely a troop of chattering monkeys!  But alas, Faux News has a distaste for fair and balanced news, bringing a distinct point of view or perspective that twists the truth to its own ends.  Their outrageous claims pawned off as news leaves many a reasonable person red-faced as Fox News quixotically swings about their moulin rouge derrieres like careless baboons.

While the infinite monkey theorem is a uselessly clever construction, much like Fox News, I find its allusion to evolution a hilarious fortuity.  Partly because Fox News clings to a nominal conservative Christian doctrinaire which disdains evolution.  Partly because Fox News may, in fact, be the best contemporary evidence that evolution does not exist!  May the Fox News copy room never be copied, and may this unbecoming mutation disappear without progeny.

Check out more Top Pun Fox News parodies here.

 

POEM: Stage Coach

Stage Coach

One day
I lost my script
And was taken back
Only to have scene
The other actors
Guise
Now
In the audience
Having won
More stage
Contracted

This is a good example of one of my elegantly ambiguous poems, playing off multiple meanings, creating tensions for the reader to resolve on their own.  The general theme plays off “real” acting and the role each of us plays on life’s stage.  The stage is set in motion by losing one’s script.  For actors this could be a crisis.  In real life, this could be a real blessing and launchpad to freedom. Being “taken back” can mean “surprised” or “to lose one’s footing;” or to return to an earlier time, perhaps a more innocent or true time; or to be accepted back by the other actors for yet another scene. Is moving from “guise” to authenticity a stage?  Within the tension of guise and authenticity is the alternating roles of actor and audience member.  So how does one participate on life’s stage without either acting or simply being relegated to a passive observer?  Is “winning” getting a greater role on stage or somehow transcending the stage itself?  The last line, last word, “contracted” is at least a triple pun.  Contracted can mean having signed (won?) a contract.  Contracted can mean made smaller.  Contracted can mean coming down with a disease.

The title, Stage Coach, lies outside the formal purview of the poem, much like the realm of metaphysics or God, offering a hint, but ample uncertainty.

Of course, the poem and title conjure up the monologue and poem,”All the World’s a Stage,” in the play, As You Like It, by William Shakespeare:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Of course, if you are a playwright, everything looks like a stage…

POEM: Infectious Hope

Hope is a blood-borne pathogen
The seed of martyrs
Inflaming that allergy to injustice
Present in us all
Infected by a singular epiphany
Of friend and foe
Alike

I see hope as an irreducible reality in human nature.  Just like “Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again” (William Cullen Bryant), hope is rooted in a realm that mere brute force or violence cannot destroy.  Even in the face of deep despair and generations of disappointment, hope finds its way into our hearts. Hope rises like an infectious weed, out of control of the powers that be that rely on violence to grasp onto control. Trying to describe hope reminds of the description of love in the movie Shakespeare in Love: “Like a sickness and its cure together.”  In this poem I use an analogy and metaphor of hope as an immune response by reality to injustice. Of course, viewing hope as an antidote or a poison or pathogen can be a matter of perspective.  In the face of objectively crappy situations, hope can be viewed more cynically as Pollyannish. The blood of martyrs can be seen as a tragic waste or as fuel for hope and resistance to injustice. Hopes indefatigable nature can elicit respect and well…more hope.  While I posit that hope has a mystical quality to it that cannot be banished, perhaps the closest I can get to capturing its essence is the last three lines of this poem where people are “infected” by a singular awareness that friend and foe are one, “alike.”   I see hope emerging and growing where this epiphany takes root.  For instance, I consider “Love your enemy as yourself” as Christianity’s greatest commandment.  Jesus upgraded the Old Testament’s “love your neighbor” with this greatest of spiritual challenges:

 “You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48, NIV)

This is the greatest spiritual genius that I have ever seen!  This strikes me as the most straightforward and simple way to encapsulate one of the most basic tensions in life: balancing self-interest with others’ interests.  By explicitly linking these two, Jesus harnesses, leverages, and even redeems, the powerfully dangerous psychological dynamics of egocentricity and selfishness.  No doubt, the trinity of hope, faith, and love is called upon to dare confront such a powerful challenge.  Of course, the genius and simplicity of this formulation doesn’t make it easy.  Though in it I find much hope, even infectious hope!