The Backhand Gift: a blessing

What blessing do you seek to earn
from some force named by other men,
who think to teach so all will learn
to reap the future’s might have beens?

What largess do you hope to gain
beseeching shadows for some gift
to ease your path, relieve your pain,
despite your neighbor’s shorter shrift?

What undeserved great benefit
sent from on high should you receive,
in truth, just for the hell of it:
because you say that you believe?

Take thou this blessing, in that case;
that you extort it, give no care.
Move quickly, lest it go to waste
and mix with someone else’s air.

Yea, bless thee, and more, all of thine;
behave as the sole chosen heir
to yours, and here, have some of mine:
look, your wealth is beyond compare!

A blessing on your humble soul,
now buried underneath such stuff;
a life, a house, a chair, a bowl:
how much exactly is enough?

Yea, blessings from that sacred source
your lips name proudly week by week,
like the rich owner of a horse
who loves to hear his own voice speak.

17 NOV 2010

With what will you refill the well

With what will you refill the well
once there is nothing left to seep
through the rough stones and hardened clay
and they are dry and filmed with dust?

And the great thirst that must be slaked
else inspiration, too, is parched
and turned to brittle bones whose marrow
marks their grave with pale, red powder,

how with your pail, now of no purpose,
will you draw that quenching liquid
when the rope down in the dark hole
has succumbed as well to dry rot?

With what will you refill the well
once the dry clods you’ve cast into it
have absorbed what little moisture
might remain from dew’s departure?

Without strength from this well’s water
you cannot dare dig another;
why then waste its precious cargo
in such stiff and cracked canteens?

27 May 2005

Friday the Thirteenth

Are you afraid the universe
might some be conspiring,
that the unseen, neglected soul
of the whole world is tiring

of folks whose hands say gimme
while their mouths say much obliged,
all the while with backs too stiff
to bend an inch in thanks? Such pride.

Are you afraid that karma comes
in ways you don’t expect,
that punity is due for all those years
spent in neglect

of forces beyond your control
that pulse through this world’s veins
despite your bold denial
that such things are, well, insane?

Are you afraid your staunch beliefs
are nothing more than dreams,
put on like a pressed Sunday suit
that’s worn out at the seams

and won’t hide nature’s anger back,
nor give you a free lunch;
be careful now, avoid that crack.
Perhaps it’s just a hunch,

but all your superstition shows
how weak and without pluck
so many seem to be these days.
I say, make your own luck,

or rather, listen in again:
the universe still sings,
and bids you join her in a chorus
with all living things.

Are you afraid the world is closing
in on you, in chase?
Stand still, enjoy the moment,
or it will have been a waste.

13 May 2005

Howling

I have seen the great minds of my own mad
generation, lost there on the long road
to find-out, trolling in a dry wasteland
of television idols and false dawns;
of lingering doubts on the new world
order, lolling aimlessly at the trough
of some prefabricated nightmare dream,
where the subtle shimmer of some bright lie
draws even the most ardent activist
for truth into a warm apathetic
mire; of an amnesiac culture
that cannot even raise its voice above
the dull murmur of its own Machine; but
I am not my father’s Allen Ginsberg.

I have wandered out into the somber
night, high on the watered-down and cut smack
of misinformation, finding only
spare hints and veiled clues to the universe;
weak honeyed colored shots of Nirvana;
bits and broken pieces of some grand scheme
to resurrect the spirit of this place;
and in the tepid water of a fetid spring
have washed away only part of the sad
sickness that saps the strength of will, and hope,
leaving only a malaise of selfish
preoccupation with the status quo.
In this stark and violent land I have learned
I am not my father’s Allen Ginsberg.

Against the bleak sunrise of a new war,
the best minds of my generation blink
their startled eyes, like stunned deer in the road
that can only wait, paralyzed, surprised
as the blanket of our greed, frayed and torn,
looses itself from our stooped, weak shoulders
and we are discovered, naked and cold
on the fallow field of our investments;
as the slow, steady churning wheels of death
advance towards us, we pretend deafness,
turning a blind eye, or shifting our stance
so we can imagine there is no cost.
I cannot find a way to change this scene;
I am not my father’s Allen Ginsberg.

31 JAN 2003

Instant Gratification

Yes, these are the times that try a man’s soul,
when platitudes from saints and holy books
seem flat and stale, the semblance of control
blurs hopelessly each way a person looks,

and a sense of overwhelming, dire need
(mixed with a loss of temporal guidance)
comes over the waiting mind; it feeds
like a piranha, in a frenzied dance

rending the flesh and bone into mincemeat,
then is amazed that there is nothing left
upon which to satiate its cravings.

So self-absorbed, living only to eat –
creating a sad universe bereft
of a saving grace, or things worth saving.

30 JAN 2003