New Directive: glosa, glose, gloss

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather – Robert Frost

Back out? How far? To what remove?
What will that further distance prove –
that some great reset of the clock
will change the past, and thereby block

the entropy and slow decay
that brought us to the present day,
where we bewail our world’s demise?
How could that fate be a surprise?

The detail wasn’t burnt or lost
without our knowledge; we helped toss
those leaves onto the burning pile,
convincing ourselves all the while

that an ideal of greater good
was possible, if we just could
change everyone else without first
changing ourselves. That bubble burst,

and now we cry alack and woe.
We knew then how this thing would go:
that words like fate and destiny
sound empty, but our vanity

insists we cannot be to blame,
and seeks an Other we can name
as the great cause of the dismay
we see as the threat of the day.

Those better days of halcyon,
in truth, ’tis better that they’re gone;
Just ask the disenfranchised then
how golden was that age of men,

how green their grass, how free their reign,
in that time we think free from pain?
If you would enshrine some day gone
as when the world was good, dream on!

Back out? ’Tis but a wistful dream!
Instead: become, instead of seem,
a human soul that wants to grow
beyond the boundaries you know.

24 MAR 2017

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Whatever Works: ghazal

To say positive thinking breeds success
is to a point the truth – well, more or less.

Reality, however, would suggest
what matters more is really openness:

acceptance of what comes as being blessed
with more experience and evidence

that life provides in both pleasure and stress
instructions for achieving happiness;

that seeing plus and minus makes complex
equations of existence that compress

the ebb and flow of being to a test,
a pass or fail we struggle through, at best.

Far better, say the sages, east and west,
to use whatever works, and leave the rest.

23 MAR 2017

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Sing the Song: georgics

First off, it always starts with breath.
That sounds so simple, but in fact
so many who would stretch their speech
against set pitches set in time
forget to breathe – at least, to breathe
as if the air were precious fuel.

Second, you must know the text.
To even blunder through, one must
engage the phrase, not word by word,
but in whole thoughts. Communication
is goal here, after all.
You’re not just throwing random sounds
out in the void; it’s what you say
as much, if not more, that saying it.

Third, it comes up from the ground:
the song comes from the toes, and then
it rises through the body.
Let it rumble all along your spine;
it gathers power as it goes.
Don’t start too high – it will get caught
and tangled up there in your throat.

Again, just breathe and let it out;
and watch it as it leaves your mouth.
You can’t look down or you will lose
the thread that ties the sound to you
and to the listener.

22 MAR 2017

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Quite Different Chains: free verse

I’m not sure
I can even write
“free verse”

Ever since I started
using specific
poetic forms,
I find
writing poems
to be read aloud;
their purpose,
if they are to be effective
when spoken,
dictates employing some kind of
at least the semblance of some

You see, even there, a sense of
emerges from what might
at first glance or gloss
appear to be just a bit
of prose.

It’s poetry, they say,
if it provides
a distillation of a thought,
an image meant to show not tell,
a conscious fight against just
words for words sake.

To agree,
or disagree,
with such a notion
is to put yourself
in one of two
opposing camps.


I’d rather set up tent
out in
the land between.

21 MAR 2017

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See Here Now: forensic poetry

“See here,” one poet said, “for beauty’s sake,
I would enslave a thousand listless men,
and though it cause the earth’s deep core to shake,
would carve away the mountains with my pen
that one and all might see as noble truth
a majesty against which swords will fail:
the pure and simple honesty of youth
that conquers all despite seeming so frail.”

“Indeed,” a second poet made reply,
“You might, with that great monumental deed
achieve what heretofore has stayed undone
despite a seeming overwhelming need;
and with a mighty geyser spewing ink
lay waste to man’s vast petty enterprise
that with its many graveyards gives a stink
that leaches into both loved and despised.”

“No matter,” the first poet’s quick retort,
“What form that beauty takes, this much is known:
the fool who finds the chasing merely sport
will find at length, no beauty of their own.
And furthermore, despite the world’s distain,
true love may still play conqueror at last:
what else, pray tell, could lure a world in pain
to soldier on after the die is cast?”

“A vanity,” the other bard rejoins,
“the hope that without fact is false belief,
a wish that mankind’s reason would purloin,
and leave them no real succor or relief.
See here: what good is thinking something so,
if absent evidence, none prove it true?
Youth grows to age, and those who think they know
turn into drooling fools like me and you.”

“But poetry,” the first said in return,
“Is no mere fancy pushed out on the breath;
and though its fire may scald, rather than burn,
its soothing balm may also ward off death.
What harm in that? The world is hard enough
without depriving mankind of some salve
to bind its wounds and smooth away the rough,
the bitter dregs it is our lot to have.”

“Besides, everyone knows the world is pain;
we need no more reminding, everyday,
that loss is the finale of each gain
despite the heavy price there is to pay.
What good is sad complaining about fate,
or moaning on the future’s downward path?
Enjoy the moment, ’til it is too late.
While you still can, find some reason to laugh.”

20 MAR 2017

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