Tag Archives: self-respect

Doing Nothing

Got up before seven, fed the dog and combed my hair,
put a pot of coffee on to brew;
spent no time deliberating what clothes I would wear:
some jeans and an old t-shirt ought to do.
Stood out on the back porch smoking my first cigarette,
watching as the sun began to shine
on grass that needs a mowing, still all glistening and wet.
A simple life? Maybe. I like it fine.

I was never quite expected to
be the one deemed “most likely to”
discover the great secret of our age;
so disappointment’s never come
(well, truth be told, perhaps just some)
and I’ve never been trapped inside that cage.

There’s always somebody smarter,
who’ll work a bit harder;
someone who’ll want it more than you, somewhere;
there’ll be someone who’s louder,
who seems a bit prouder
of where they are on some great corporate stair.
You can spend all your moments
in great angst and torment,
and call what you end with sublime;
but if you can’t just leave it,
you’d better believe it:
you’ve done nothing but waste your time.

Freshened up my coffee, scratched my head and wrote these lines;
it took me about six minutes to do.
went back out to the deck, took a moment to reflect,
the sun’s heat like intoxicating brew.
Watched the birds and smelled the flowers; it seemed like endless hours,
but it wasn’t even a ten-minute span.
And the world? It kept on spinning, turning losing into winning;
like it turned what I once was to what I am.

I was never the one chosen to
be “first among the great ones who
would change the world for better or for worse”;
so it comes as no surprise at all
like summer leading on to fall
that a blessing’s just the flipside of a curse.

There’s always somebody smarter,
who’ll work a bit harder;
someone who’ll want it more than you, somewhere;
there’ll be someone who’s louder,
who seems a bit prouder
of where they are on some great corporate stair.
You can spend all your moments
in great angst and torment,
and call what you end with sublime;
but if you can’t just leave it,
you’d better believe it:
you’ve done nothing but waste your time.

21 JUN 2006

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Almost Famous

To be respected by your family,
those you like and know,
is often not enough acclaim
to satisfy; and so
we seek to become famous
in this lifetime or the next,
a bigger fish than all the rest
and so command respect.

As the sphere of your influence
expands, you gain some perks:
you get your way more often
and can boss around more jerks,
perhaps a bigger house or car,
more money in the bank,
a longer list of so-called friends
who think you owe them thanks.

From strangers, you gain envy;
from criminals, their lust;
and at some point, the tiny circle
that you know and trust
continues to diminish, until
they grow tired and leave,
exhausted from competing
with the users you believe
would be there if your fortunes
were one morning found reversed,
who only stroke your ego
as a way to line their purse.

I wanted to be famous once.
I thought it would be great
to live as if my word was law,
to die and lay in state
while mourners passed through teary-eyed,
my name upon their lips:
the mind, the face that changed the world,
that launched a thousand ships.

But now, I wonder at the point
of seeking such applause;
and seek instead a smaller crowd
of friends and kin, because
the bottom line is this, you know:
you get what we call fame
when people you don’t know or like
pretend to know your name.

30 APR 2006

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If You Want Love

My father was an upright man who never went to church;
but he gave his word and that was that, he’d help you from a lurch.
He hated all self-righteousness and practiced what he’d preach;
when I asked him what made the good life he’d give me this speech:

Live as if there’s no hereafter if you want a Heaven here on earth;
Spend as if it’s your last dollar if you want to get your money’s worth;
Act like everyone knows something that it might be worthwhile to learn;
Love as if the world is ending if you want love in return.

My father died ten years ago; we laid him in the ground.
I don’t think anyone expected he’d be Heaven-bound.
When I think back on how he lived, I have to crack a smile
imagining their faces when they look in his file
and it says:

Live as if there’s no hereafter if you want a Heaven here on earth;
Spend as if it’s your last dollar if you want to get your money’s worth;
Act like everyone knows something that it might be worthwhile to learn;
Love as if the world is ending if you want love in return.

Someday may be good enough for some folks, he would say;
but if you want to change the world you’d better start today …

Live as if there’s no hereafter if you want a Heaven here on earth;
Spend as if it’s your last dollar if you want to get your money’s worth;
Act like everyone knows something that it might be worthwhile to learn;
Love as if the world is ending if you want love in return.

17 MAR 2006

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To Those Who Would Have Use of My Time

Each moment of my time has its own price;
and some cannot be purchased with mere coin.
Let my donation of it be my vice,
and cursed be those who would by ruse purloin
five minutes, nay, one instant without leave.
That being mine, it lacks the holy grace
of your own lifespan, I will not believe.

Yours trades for no more value by its face,
nor is it alloyed from ores of more worth.
There are some things for which my time is stored;
though just a few, they each claim sacred berths.
You would rob these slyly, and what’s more,
believe it chattel due some wage you pay.

But what I give my hours is mine to rank;
and there are more important things each day
than what results in funds placed in the bank.
Each moment of my time is not for hire,
nor is it leisure waiting your concern.

My candle’s length is not your source for fire;
and I alone choose how and what to burn.

20 JAN 2005

Aleister Crowley once said, and I liberally paraphrase, that if you love life you do not waste your time, for that is the primary measure applied against it. I dedicate this poem to telemarketers, spammers, door-to-door salesmen (of either tangible products or intangible salvation of some kind), clients who call after hours, and all those who would infringe upon my time without my express consent or request.

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Like the World Does Not Know

If all the world would find you lacking grace
and see in every thought and act some fault,
behind the smile that lights up your sweet face
discovering some dark and bitter vault,

if some belittle and would treat you poor
because your heart is open, reaching out,
believing it a weakness, nothing more,
or cast on your intentions scorn and doubt,

have faith that I have never been deceived
by those nay-saying cynic tongues that bite,
and will not place my trust in any voice

that speaks ill of you and would be believed.
When I look in your eyes, I know what’s right,
and choosing you, know love to be my choice.

09 SEP 2003

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