POEM: Megabus Late

The loco bus
Was barely running
Trafficking in creep after creep
At Lake & Michigan
It was sink or swim
Facing too soon departed
To be won or lost
By foot
Right, left, right, left, right, left, right
Miraculously walking on Water St.
Run
Run forced
Run
Will it be
Decided by a minute minute
No bus in site
Faded to stay
In Chicago another day
Only then realizing
The line I had crossed
As pre-sumptuously late
Other poor soles
As per usual waiting
Fore the Toledo Megabus
Mega-late

This poem emanates from my trip earlier this summer out to Iowa.  This poem is from the last of four legs of a Megabus trip.  As it turns out, two of the four buses broke down and had to replaced with regular tour buses.  This poem is about the serendipity of things not always working out as planned.  Oddly, it never occurred to me that the bus I was racing to on foot would be late.  While the bus ended up being two hours late, this was much better than missing the bus by mere minutes!  What a beautiful thing that a bus being two hours late is a cause for celebration!  I am a big fan of serendipity.  As a recovering professional planner, I have spent much of my life planning to “make things happen.”  Fortunately,  I have witnessed so many times in my life that my plans not turning out as I liked turned out even better.  As I have been known to say: God never gives me what I want; God gives me something much better!  My daughter now parrots back to me the saying: If you want to make God laugh, tell God your plans.  More recently, you might find me repeating the Niels Bohr quip: “Prediction is difficult, especially about the future.”  Life is what happens while your making other plans. John Lennon quote SPIRITUAL BUTTONThough perhaps John Lennon said it best: “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.”  May your life be overflowing with wonderful surprises.

POEM: Her Beatify Regime

She offered her life for others
Occupying the known and unknown
In a humanity so rare
As a piece of raw flesh
Nourishing friend and faux akin
Wear life and dead meet
Sow mysteriously
Anew humanity
Becoming
In awe weighs
With winsome
And grace
Waiving her rights
In the face of unseemly fortunes
And a parent fate
Like in experienced chide
Passing into a door
A mist reluctant fallowers
Wont to cling too
A certain fate
For what remains
Secrets of eternal youth
Borne again
A head of her times
And a big art for all
Letting go of earthly flatter
As some age ode flyer
Hanging round
Until taken down
By pluckers of all forms
In that primeval
Of wrongs and rites
Rising once more
As ballads fly
As so many
Untried convictions
So long side
In dis belief
As refuse
The un-altar-Abel
Steaking won’s claim
From whence I live
As never never land
Un-till
We meat again

This poem is yet another ode to feminine virtues, as a mother’s patient strength and wisdom that fights fiercely and elegantly for all of earth’s children, sacrificing many earthly pursuits to give rise to not a little heaven on earth.  This poem plays with issues of both inner beauty and outer beauty, as inner beauty incarnates itself into the outer world, making the world both more beautiful and us grateful for the beauty ever-present before us.  Inner beauty is real — not merely sentiment — bursting into creation, fulfilling our inborn desire to be beautiful and share that beauty with others.  This grace and elegance in the face of ignorance and cruelty is the heart of nonviolent living, recognizing and paying tribute with one’s life to the transcendent superiority of love over hate and service over domination.

This poem has allusions to a heavenly afterlife.  The time is always right to do what is right -- Martin Luther King, Jr. quote.I am not a big fan of heaven as some delayed reward, some divine carrot, to get us to behave well on earth.  Rather, the heavenly allusions are to poetically lift up the triumph of life over death, the ultimate affirmation of good as stronger than evil. Plus, I have a more seamless view of the good as good in itself and inevitably offering good up to all residing here and now in the earthly plane.  Justice is just because it is just.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us, “The time is always right to do what is right.”  Still, while I am agnostic regarding any specifics of any afterlife, I have experienced enough profound serendipities in my life that any pleasant surprises would be entirely congruent with my experience of life.  May you do the right thing now, accept the great gifts ever-present before you, and expect to be pleasantly surprised as the future unfolds.

ELECTION POEM: We De-serve More Than One Date a Year

Even with
The sorry lack
He in the capitol arena
He refuse
To beg for change
As riddled with ballots
From a stone throne
Presumed in a sense
As the free mark it
To mock a difference
In hour damn nation
Weather staying qualm
Or carrying on
As beheading
The wrong direction
Right
That’s going to work
Like pulling jobs
Out of a hat
Railroaded
And Rand over
Take
You’re choice
Taking liberties
Wear ever
Whatever
Left
Dying
With boots on
Won’s neck
And arms flailing
In the heir
Violins playing
US again
And masses cry
Weight
For some guardian angle
Following-lite
30 seconds and never the goaled
Promising silver ballots
For the monster knock off of your choice
The leaser of two evils
Billed on platforms not worth one read assent
Rhetorical quests in
Skirting half the populace
Out flanking the body politic
And the only deliverance
Is backwards male junk
Ridden on drossy stationary
Acceding Stepford lives
Androids answering robo calls
Buy passing any hire power
Rebutting humanity
Like sum tally whacker
Awl to govern us
Violating our hides
Out ranking privates
Another poll taken
As nations pawned
And questions razed
From the dread
The answer
Lies
Before us
And incite us
The time is now
To re-wind
These vane choices
Truly bearing
As wee
Vote with our feat
And in-F-able arts
De-serving
More than one date a year
Arrest of our daze
Courting flaccid elections
Feudal proposals
And tickets beyond won’s means
Soully to forge more candid dates
And over power
Our faux
Never miss lead

It’s election day!  This election poem captures the perennially popular cynicism concerning politics, particularly electoral politics, and issues a call for a more encompassing path to redress our collective grievances and embody our shared hopes.  In short, this entails year-round civic engagement where citizens vote regularly by putting some skin in the game and pouring their hearts into public life.  This sort of direct democracy leads by representing ourselves boldly and honestly to one another, backed up by whatever integrity we have in our lives.  We get the democracy we deserve.  Or, in this case, we get the democracy we de-serve.  We stop serving power structures and start serving one another.   This saps the top-down power so fraught with abuse and alluring to those more interested in governing others than governing themselves.  There is no patchwork of half-truths that can stand without the consent of the governed.  Elections are largely contrived of narrow choices pandering to the powers that be and offering mere styles of the status quo.  If we settle for a democracy that only works a day or two a year, and barely that, then we should adjust our expectations commensurately.  Though this is not the only choice: hemmed and hawed candidates or non-participation, not voting.  Whether you vote or not — and I think you should make such a modest investment of time — the body politic is not formed in a day or two.  What we do the rest of our days is decisive.  Work, shop, consume, die may be one way to go, but what price do we pay for our “free” time.  Free people live and give freely.  Free people are the freedom the want to see in the world; they are not waiting for license from others.  I like the saying: activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet.  I occupy this planet first, am a member of the human race second, and a citizen of a particular political jurisdiction/shopping zone thirdly.  If we unabashedly order our lives according to our deepest values and priorities, the sheer existential force of our lives will champion our planet, give rise to a cherished humanity, and even create a firewall against bullshit politics mistaken for a fertile common-wealth.  Of course, like they say, freedom isn’t free.  Being change in the world will exact a price.  And while you may only get what you pay for, there are untolled pleasant surprises along the way.  The only real question is how much are you willing to pay, and how much are you willing to play?

POEM: Changing Kings

When I was a child
I crapped in my pants
Today I am a king in the world
Now I make others crap in their pants
This is the indigestible truth
Of too much power
That cannot be changed
Even by changing kings

Few people disagree that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Still, most people will gladly accept a little corruption, if it is backed by a little power swinging their way.  Of course, corruption seems much worse if we are on the short end of it!  Power is not distributed equally among humans, and those privileged to possess it, routinely wield it for their own advantage.  Whether through unconscious bias and egocentricity or just plain selfishness, imbalances of power in human relationships leads to corruption.  Even with good intentions, those with greater power end up molding the world into their image, at the expense of the reality of other people’s lives which are disproportionately discounted.  Who of us would not want the magic wand of power to mold the world to fit our ways?

Relinquishing power is not common, and might even be considered foolish by conventional wisdom.  The point is not to relinquish any and all power.  The point is not to have substantially more power than others.  This is rooted in recognizing that power differentials lead to human corruption; or, perhaps better put, lead to a corruption of human community.  In fact, relinquishing power in order to help establish a more healthy balance of power in human relationships is a form of exercising power.  This form of exercising power witnesses to an understanding of a higher power present in reality, that more egalitarian balances or power produces better humans and human community.  The sad truth is that most people have more faith in fascism or other forms of concentrated power than they do in egalitarian human relationships.  This is almost universally true when those with lots of power are aligned with our own particular interests. Even better yet if I am the benevolent dictator!

Large power imbalances typically result from and are maintained by violence.  A relative surplus of power quite predictably leads to a lazy humanity perpetuated by force, routinely re-“making” humanity in the mold of those wielding the power.  The purview of power is expediency, playing into our bias for our own ease rather than than often difficult work of building healthy human community.  The natural ascendency of the masses rooted in their common and democratic (in the sense of majoritarian) everyday reality can only be put down by large power differentials driven by elites.  Historically, there have been numerous rationalizations by elites to justify their minority rule over the masses.  None of these rationalizations can stand as they are founded on the bankruptcy of violence.  Violence is not persuasion; it is overwhelming force.  Violence is what people rely on when reasonable persuasion fails.  Of course, violence is persuasive in the sense that any human act carries with it the power of modeling how humans should act.  However, violence does not lend itself to reasonable human relationships.  Violence is the lowest form of community.  It should be no surprise that violence leads to more violence.  I actually like surprises!  If we meet violence with non-violence, there can be some really cool surprises made possible.  If we want something more than violence, the inevitable outcome of large power differentials, then we need to do something else.  We can do better.

 

POEM: Fearmongers

Fearmongers

Fear-mongers rein upon US
And weave so much dread
Of what dismay due
We simply back into
A dark future
Like bit players
In a bad horror film
Where more than budgets are slashed
And we feign surprise

This short poem addresses the pervasive human experience of fear.  Though the fear addressed in this poem relates to the daily weave of fear, almost like background noise, which leads to learned helplessness in our body politic.  Everyone is familiar with the classic horror movie behavior of backing into a dark, dangerous situation, with the audience calling out to pay attention to the completely predictable eventuality of being slashed in some way.  This irrational cinematic behavior provides the image for this poem.  Further, the inevitable slashing is juxtaposed with feigned surprise.  This feigned surprise is the logical outcome of being cowed into fear so pervasively that obvious scary outcomes coming our way need to be denied to rationalize our feelings of helplessness.  Perhaps the least surprise should be expected around the persistent reality that fearful behaviors lead to fearful outcomes.  Fearful means are inextricably linked to fearful ends, just like any other means and ends are tied together.  Ultimately, fear brings out the worst in us.  Endemic fear immobilizes us as a well-functioning society.  A politics of fearmongering, and a society awash in fear, has little grounds to expect to flourish.  May we have the courage to resist and challenge fearmongering.  May we openly and honestly address the inherent scary outcomes within our body politic, so that reasonable and sustainable outcomes can be nurtured.

POEM: If You Don’t Know What You Want

If you don’t know what you want from life

You are quite likely to get it

This two-line poem deals with a basic theme of life: discovering what you want from life.  Of course, the starting place for this is not knowing what you want from life.  This is a universal experience.  Nonetheless, if you continue in life not knowing what you want from life, you will probably end up where you are headed.  Worse yet, if you don’t even know where you are headed, then you certainly cannot know where you are likely to end up.  The second line is the real twist that can be taken several ways.  First, what you are quite likely to get is not knowing.  Second, you’ll end up where you’re headed, which can be problematic if you don’t want to continue in that same direction or if you don’t even know which way you’re headed.  Third, and my favorite, is that life will bestow upon you a measure of grace and you may actually get what you want from life not even necessarily knowing what that is.  This is an axiom of one of my favorite personal sayings that God never gives me what I want, God always gives me something better.  This is the type of metaphysical optimism that I am prone to meditate upon.  While this is not an argument for not spending time and effort discovering what you want from life, it is a recognition that our ability to fully see what is good for us is limited, and God’s grace can play key role in self-discovery and interacting with the universe.  Surprises can be scary.  Surprises can also be full of grace.  One of the things I want from life is to be open to the graceful possibilities and surprises that transcends my finite mind and my veiled heart.  May you experience abundant surprises full of grace.