Tag Archives: division

Dividing Up the Blame

There is no religion for the whole of “god”,
just some small and all-too-human scraps.
We are not equipped to know the universe,
nor much more than we hold in our laps.

There is nothing that is end-all, be-all
that we can imagine. Only fools
seek a formula that folds it all in;
we know not the game, or half the rules.

There is no united, single pathway,
nor a sole, most sacred mountaintop.
All we see are ripples and faint echoes,
not where things begin or where they stop.

We are at the shore of a great ocean,
thinking that our buckets hold the sea.
Salt dolls sent to measure depth and distance,
we dissolve. That’s how it’s meant to be.

There is nothing sacred that is separate;
just some shattered fragments, nothing more.
That we cannot put them all together
doesn’t mean we’ve failed. There is no score.

It is not religion that imagines
some connection that escapes our sight.
The small gods we carve out in our image
leave us blind and deaf out in the night.

There is nothing missing from the picture;
only our misjudging of the frame.
Drawing rigid lines between each other,
we each die dividing up the blame.

25 JUL 2017

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On Optimism: blank verse

One can suppose those clouds are silver-lined,
that just around the corner lies great joy,
and what appears today both bleak and sad
tomorrow may turn out to be rainbows.

Let anyone suggest such dandy things
and all the world proclaims them truly mad.
“Come to your senses! Live in the real world!”
those persons full of reason will advise.

Contrariwise, let any sourpuss disagree,
and on their heads is rained derisive scorn.
“How dare you destroy hope, and shun good faith”
that things will work out, somehow, in the end?

Depend on it: you try to spend the buck
that “stops here”, and you’ll be made out a thief;
but ask for change to buy a cup of tea –
you’ll end up parched, and fined for vagrancy.

One can suppose this world an oyster, still;
a shellfish allergy afflicts us, then.
What difference does it matter, joy or pain?
You live a while, perhaps, and then you die.

18 JAN 2017

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The Borderlines

Watch along the borderlines,
out where the edges meet
and mix their colors in the sand
that stretches down the beach,
not knowing of a start or end
or which belongs to which,
whose property is over there
or just who owns what ditch.

Watch along the borderlines
that meet in shades of gray
and turn to solid black or white
at least ten miles away.
Up close, there is no clarity
or sense of this and that,
no exit signs above the door
nor worn out welcome mat.

Watch along the borderlines,
where fences do not last
but turn to rust and fade away,
their ink not colorfast.
Out here, there is no us or them,
no sane or lunacy;
only horizon stretching on,
connecting sea to sea.

18 APR 2013

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Bipartisan Blues

The fascist right … the commie left … the accusations fly,
with neither side, in truth, much worried ’bout the little guy;
they do not represent him, even though that’s what they claim,
’cause behind all their rhetoric, they’re pretty much the same:

Both sides make heartfelt speeches to a captive audience,
who, face it, have eschewed most logic and good common sense,
in thinking that these politicos, who speak of some gesalt,
have anything in mind but finding someone else at fault.

Just once, I’d like to hear a politician state the truth:
that they’d said anything to get you in their voting booth,
and that the numbers they rely on are in fact just lies,
manipulated to reduce their opponents to size.

And further, I’d like congressmen, and senators, to boot,
instead of claiming justice is their sole end of pursuit,
to simply say they’re sorry, but the way that things are now,
free speech, fair play, and honesty they simply can’t allow.

At least then I know where I stand, as if I couldn’t guess:
a once-great country trying to deny it is a mess;
a people proud of learning less and less each day in schools,
whose main interest is money-making, educated fools;

a flag that isn’t fireproof, because it does not wave
for truth, justice and liberty for all, free man and slave;
instead, by some selective wind, it chooses its flagpoles
by special interests, narrow vision, and pretense at soul.

I wonder, as I hear them speak on C-SPAN or the news,
if anyone who is in office really knows my shoes.
They do not know my first name, that I’m sure of. After all,
it’s never them in person making their fund-raising calls.

Bipartisan, bischmartisan; blue, red, and purple hues;
Republican or Democrat; evangelist or Jew —
why don’t they get it? Why not look beyond such simple lines,
and think what’s best for the whole country, while there is still time?

12 MAY 2005

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Dirty Water

When I try to convince someone that my way is better than theirs, I don’t stand there and tell them their glass is dirty, and as a result they’re drinking dirty water. I just stand quietly, drinking my clear water from a sparkling clean glass, and let them draw their own conclusions. — Malcolm X, paraphrased

for Malcolm Little

We still drink dirty water
although forty years have passed,
and despite decades of struggle
have yet to be free at last

from the misguided notions
that served us to some degree,
but lay the blame at our own feet
at our hypocrisy

Equality? That’s just a word
that draws the softer vote;
and even then, you hear it catch
in politician’s throats

when they survey the ghetto
from inside their limousines
on their way to a better home
than most have ever seen.

It’s more than just a color bar
that splits this land apart.
There’s a flaw in our base logic
that divides the mind and heart:

if we don’t believe we’re equal,
at the core built just the same,
then what good are politicians,
save for dividing the blame?

If we simply clean our glasses,
but still draw from dirty wells,
the sole use for spit and polish
is reflecting the same hell.

23 JAN 2005

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For Stephen Stills

We have become so polarized. The lines
are drawn so black and thick between each side,
the pickets filled with stark and ugly words
that only emphasize a hate that grows

when one’s own thoughts have turned to stone
fit just for use as weapons behind walls,
where in a soldier’s stance we fear what change
would come if doubt encroached upon our minds.

Our single drops of rain gather for storms
that we would have directed at our foes;
yet as the skies turn somber and morose,
we each lament, and blame the restless clouds.

Is this the force that would improve the world,
with great lambasting vitriol and spite?
Have we forgotten that the ends become
perverted by such cold and heartless means?

With scorn emblazoned on our barbed wire hearts,
we seek to prove our way the truth and light;
but bury any hope for growth or peace
and for compassion dig a shallow grave.

04 FEB 2005

What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the streets
Singing songs, and a-carrying signs
Mostly say, “Hooray for our side”
— from For What It’s Worth,
by Stephen Stills and recorded by Buffalo Springfield
during the Vietnam War

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The Wall

There is something in a family that doesn’t like a wall
inside the boundary it constructs, its face against the world,
that thin veneer of solidarity presented to conceal
or pander to the social mores ranking its esteem.

Behind the bastions of normalcy, its main concern
is making sure the single units pretend to conform;
and in that monitoring, it wants no separate, secret lives,
accepting only hesitantly strangers from outside.

Each strained reunion of the brood is subject of concern;
and any bricks laid on in private are quick set upon
with sledgehammers of guilt, and picks of hinting, sly reproach,
each proud attempt to isolate examined and destroyed.

Against this force of silent judgment, one who would be free,
seeking an authenticity outside accepted norms,
must toil in dark and secret, lest their labors be discovered
and hung, a warning pike along the outer fortress wall.

The separate self the enemy the hoarding family fears.
And so with subtle sabotage it works into new bricks themselves
the shale of doubt, and shunning stones to weaken each new plan
until in desperate surrender only the whole survives.

And distance, what is that to it, that reaches beyond time
across the generations, fingers clutching, like ivied vine
that resists even violent axes to grow back anew
and cover each new wound, and scar, with uniformity.

Its cry to arms is “Unity against the gathered hordes
that seek to infiltrate and then betray us from within,”
and with that xenophobic fervor fights to quell, subordinate,
the individual desire to reach outside its grasp.

There is something about family that doesn’t like a wall
within its defined boundaries; it challenges the whole.
And each new member must accept their assigned sentry role
or despite years of effort, its well-maintained castle falls.

27 MAY 2004

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