Monthly Archives: November 2010

Midwinter’s Tale: a carol (or carole)

Joyous tidings! Dance and sing!
Born, the sun, and with it, Spring!

Birth and rebirth, life’s delight:
in dark winter’s longest night
comes the spark of new year’s light.
Joyous tidings! Dance and sing!

Life’s bright flame shines through the cold,
now as in the days of old;
watch with joy as life unfolds.
Born, the sun, and with it, Spring!

Cast off hiberating ways
in these short and chill-filled days;
let us sing the warm sun’s praise!
Joyous tidings! Dance and sing!

From the hearth-fire grows the spark
to illuminate the dark;
a new calendar to mark.
Born, the sun, and with it, Spring!

As the old year finds its end,
time’s wheel comes around again;
enters stranger, leaves as friend.
Joyous tidings! Dance and sing!

Joyous tidings! Dance and sing!
Born, the sun, and with it, Spring!

28 NOV 2010

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By Request Only: a capitolo

Oh, how I love to take requests, while playing,
for songs outside the realm of what I do.
How subtle the reminder I’m not slaying,

in essence, “what we want to hear, ain’t you.”
It’s really quite an overwhelming feeling,
that overwhelms my fragile ego, too;

the knowledge that my style is not appealing,
and folks would rather hear the juke box play.
Each time, I roll my eyes toward the ceiling,

and send the hopeful querents on their way,
while promising their song, which I can’t stand,
is next in the rotation, anyway.

Have mercy, please upon all dance hall bands;
don’t make the sole condition of your staying
the way your favorites turn out in their hands.

27 NOV 2010

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Teach Your Children: canzone

Canto I.

To educate for revolution’s sake
requires a willingness for martyrdom,
the sense to learn from every small mistake,
and fortitude enough to take what comes
when nay-saying begins; and start it will,
the moment you step from the comfort zone
where history and status quo lie still.
The one who makes the change, makes it alone.

To teach in such a way, one draws from life;
here, leading by example is a must.
Without at least some evidence of strife
you’ll never gain a single student’s trust.
Each lesson is a battle for the will,
to gain an inch of ground against a world
that teaches, at its core, how best to kill
the oyster, for the sake of some small pearl.

If you would learn from teachers such as these,
first empty out the vessel that you bear;
relinquish all desire or need to please,
and first and foremost, decide that you care.
Once that commitment’s made, the lesson starts:
no homework, no “pop” essays are required,
no slogans or mnemonics learned by heart,
except “to be inspiring, be inspired.”

Canto II.

The truth is never taught to us in schools;
what good is knowing why a thing is so?
Much better to accept the way it is,
than to upset the known, the status quo,
in vain attempts to try and understand
some purpose beyond doing what you’re told.
Shut up, keep to yourself, and mind your tongue:
the best way to survive and to grow old.

Beyond the simple texts we learn by rote,
the facts we’re told are sacred and pristine,
we fall and yet imagine that we float
above a ground far down below, unseen.
There is no golden parachute, my friends;
believe in what you will, to no avail:
no paradise lies up beyond the bend,
the gears will stop, the power will soon fail.

When learning stops, who still admits to teach?
Who, once they know it all, says “I don’t know”?
What good to grasp in space beyond your reach
if what is underfoot you can’t let go?
The time spent cultivating self-esteem,
instead of just performing worthy acts
can never be returned; you can’t reclaim
a pointless life by coloring the facts.

Canto III.

Break down the doors, release these fettered minds!
Let love of beauty rule each student’s heart.
Who knows what new advances they may find,
when nurtured with some kindness from the start?
For truth, though sometimes bitter, does not kill;
reality is harsh, but bears no ill.

Break down the walls of that familiar box
we reinforce with history and fear.
Let go of petty cowardice; unlock
the upper reaches of the atmosphere,
where muffled by a misspent sense of pride
the dreams of humankind are waiting still;
the future can be ours, if we decide
to say, not can’t or won’t, but shout, “I will!”

Break off these chains that bind us to the past,
to staid traditions of no further use;
in truth, they were not ever meant to last.
Let stale ideas suffer disabuse!


Disruption and upheaval cannot be
the means by which the world is made anew.
By violence, nothing ever is made free;
it simply tilts the scales, always askew,
toward a slightly different fulcrum point.
No measure of success is ever found
in wanton, mad destruction. We annoint
new martyrs when each century comes round,

and sacrifice to progress our ideals.
We spend long hours in pointless, wild debate,
believing that reform, a fresh appeal,
will somehow, save us from ourselves, our fate.

What would you teach, if you no longer learn?
What would you learn, if you know everything?
The tune that Nero played on, as Rome burned?
Together, or apart, we all will swing.

26 NOV 2010

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For Starlight: cancione

I cannot claim to know her;
at best, I’ve mapped the surface:
those little nooks and crannies
that she feels like revealing.
More knowledge would not help me;
to understand more deeply,
would take a lifetime’s effort
and skills beyond my grasping.

But what she deigns to show me,
that small part I can handle,
in just over a decade
has become sun- and moon-rise:
my alpha and omega.
There is no life without her,
no breath, no flowing current;
she is my one and only.

They say that men are simple;
we eat and sleep and venture
so few steps from our comfort,
content in our small fiefdoms,
but crave the complication
of woman’s advanced nature
to give our lives their meaning,
some sense of awe and beauty.

I can’t refute that logic;
and for myself, I wonder
where I would go for solace
if she were not here with me.
I know I cannot claim her;
more truthfully, she owns me:
and I live in her service,
my payment is her love.

24 NOV 2010

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Time Enough: a byr a thoddaid

What there is left to say, I have said;
let’s leave off talking, and try instead
another way to listen and be heard
that words don’t understand.

Wait a moment: let some silent thing
bring with it, for a while,
another point of view to our chat;
Surely, we have time enough for that.

23 NOV 2010

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The Good Old Days: a bucolic

I mourn the past, the “good old days”; the world was simpler then;
how much I wish we could return to life like “way back when”.
When everyone was real down home, and said thank you and please;
more decent jobs and pretty girls than Carters’ remedies.

When you just knew your neighbors prayed to your God, in your way;
and good sense thinking never strayed from black or white to gray.
When truth was simple, plain and strong and always on your side;
and young folk never messed with drugs, or acted strange, or snide.

When men were men, and women kept their doubts between themselves;
and cleaned, and cooked, and birthed, and swept, and filled up knick-knack shelves.
When nothing new was ever good, when old ways still survived,
when people acted like they should: feared God and multiplied.

Exactly when were these “good days”? Who conjures up this shit?
How can someone with half a brain believe a word of it?
The times are no less simple now than they have ever been:
the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting thin.

The politicians, country singers and rich preachers say
that “coming home” back to our roots is surely the best way
to save our selves, our world, our souls from falling into sin;
they talk and smile, and all the while they keep raking it in.

22 NOV 2010

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Make Your Last Dance Count: a bref double

If asked, I do sing father-daughter songs
at weddings; it’s the worst part of my job:
to put on false sincerity and smile
through lyrics so trite they make my skin crawl.

It’s not that sentiment is always bad;
but who in their right mind would sing along
and waste these precious moments on such dreck?
My daughter deserves better, all in all,

not some reduction to the cute and fuzzy.
How ’bout some simple truths, conveyed with style,
that recognize her grown-up, human status
beyond a princess at some wishful-thinking ball?

Wake up, your little girl is not a child;
if you’ve missed that, you’re doing something wrong.

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