Tag Archives: service

The Art of Happiness

The question was, “How can I be
more compassionate; how can my
efforts to be compassionate
be more effective?”

His answer, politically careful,
was that it was an individual
question; that each person’s
contribution was different,
that one’s answer was not
necessarily another’s.

Before he spoke, under my breath,
I said, “the answer
is: just start.”
If you spend all your days
in thought,
about whether you’re wasting time
or if your “talents”
could best serve
some other way,
you’ve missed the point.

The object will not ever be
to change the world,
but change yourself.
It does not matter the reward
if what you do you know is right.
One need not over-complicate
the matter; just begin,
and do not worry on
the end effect, the bottom line,
the dividend, spiritual gain.

Just do it. Start
by smiling. Now,
right here, where
you are at.

And just keep at it.
Never stop.

20 MAY 2013

for the His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama

Share This:

Society’s Man

Society, your dream would have me beg
for pittance from a cruel employer’s hand,
and from my knees downward, not use my legs,
preferring that I genuflect, not stand,

to act as servant, bound to divine whim
that your appointed middlemen report.
What’s more, I must be weak, and bow to Him
who you insist directs my fate for sport.

No wonder I am just a half-grown lout
who spends my life in seeking childish joys,
when you have counseled me to forgo doubt
and are ashamed when men emerge from boys.

You take my destiny and claim my fate
should stay within the limits you proscribe,
denouncing me when I will not conform
or meekly take your bright and shiny bribe.

Who would choose the adulthood you profer,
all duty with no right, nor chance to rise?
No wonder most avoid it, or defer
a servitude unending ’til you die.

Yet when I pout and act a child of ten,
which seems how you and God define a man,
you feign surprise, and claim it’s always been
my choice to make; and either way, be damned.

13 APR 2005

Share This:

Martyr Without a Cause

Waken, would-be martyrs seeking causes
to in an instant devote life and limb, and cling
half-drowned along the upturned raft of culture
that leaking, seeks the bottom of the quay.

The words that might be spoken now are silenced;
upon the stump the bloody axe rests, still
slick from the cloying jugular wine that pools
beneath the severed head there in the bowl.

A brotherhood of fools will find its equal
among the rushes, bent with each new wind
and whispering inanities and slogans
that pampleteers shed like oak leaves each fall.

What would you say aloud to fire this army
of malcontents who look to their own skins?
Beyond the content of their bellies, do they seem to care
for rhetoric that asks after their minds?

And those self-sacrificers dream redemption songs
that for a moment, find a tuneful ear
and are transformed beyond a pale chimera
that floats upon the stale, dry air, then fades.

Is there a cause worth half this senseless slaughter?
Behind the scenes, the tribal elders watch
and pick out young recruits that seem more likely
to run in panic; these make the best bullies.

What do the gods require from each new generation?
Are not the first-fruits destined for their hands?
To pose elsewise is suicide, beyond the help of prayer;
besides, a death unscheduled can’t be used.

The rebel tools that stock the workshops of the status quo
serve best if left to rust, their edges dulled.
What good is there in martyrdom to others’ causes
unless you’ve nothing worthwhile back at home?

Curse you to your own self-made hells, you preachers
who safe behind your pulpits can commit
your congregation, knowing they are malleable,
their self-will sapped to serve some future realm.

And those who in their natures, find the substance
of service, but are lacking steady work —
be sure the cause you choose is your own making
and not the sad agenda of the damned.

24 MAY 2004

Share This: