Tag Archives: causes

What Now?: Sicilian sonnet

What now? Is there sufficient cause for reaching
beyond the edge of darkness? Will we find
ourselves subjected to more endless preaching?
Are we fit students for any new teaching?

And what good any lesson merely bleaching
the past of any stains we’ve left behind,
or drowning out the crows and vultures screeching
on ancient battlefields we’ve tilled, or mined?

Out there, far past the edge of our remembrance,
is there a quiet place to stop and think,
not quite Valhalla or fabled Olympus

but just a stretch of nothing, where the dance
is still, and with just cool water there to drink,
we fade into a single, silent us?

31 MAY 2017

Share This:

One Cause Alone: envelope sonnet

One cause alone cannot sustain our reason.
Quite surely in one lifetime are enough
good reasons to press on; that is the stuff
of all our myths and legends, in their season.

Besides, one grows and passes out of childhood;
the dreams of youth must cede their place, as age
begins fresh chapters and with each new page
discovers strange and new forms of the good.

What good is life’s extension but for learning?
If nothing changes, why bother at all?
A candle’s wasted if only left burning
to chase away the shadows as they fall.
To change, evolve, is living’s constant yearning;
it cannot breathe if tethered in a stall.

31 MAY 2017

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:

The Art of War on …

Poverty, Illiteracy, Hunger, Drugs, and ultimately what I’d like to address, Terrorism.

Does it appear to anyone but myself that our great “national” causes (that we cast as decisive “battles” since Johnson’s Great Society and its War on Poverty) deal primarily with the symptoms, and not their underlying causes? Let’s take Terrorism, for one. Terrorism is violent action taken to bring attention to one’s issues. To me, that makes it a last resort. A final desparate parley when all other avenues have been exhausted. I can think of one absolutely sure way to eliminate Osama bin Laden as a threat: sit down at the table with him, with an open mind, willing to admit where he is right, and willing to prove where “we” are right. As Marshall McLuhan put it in his book “The Medium is the Massage”, propaganda ends where dialogue begins. But the problem is that in the world political arena, there is an “adult’s” table and a “kid’s” table. And those that sit at the “adult” table take it for granted that because they are sitting at that table, that they are doing everything right.

There is an old saying: “There are four kinds of people in this world. Those that like you for the right reasons, those that like you for the wrong reasons, those that don’t like you for the wrong reasons, and those that don’t like you for the right reasons. The first three groups need not command your attention — but you must address the last.”

Part of the problem with eliiminating terrorist threats is that we have not provided terrorists with any other viable means for communication as equals. As a result, they are left desparate enough to use “whatever means necessary” to wage their own “War on Hypocrisy.” Part of that hypocrisy might be, from a Muslim perspective, that so-called Christian countries, who are not interested in having anyone step into their lands and tell them how to behave or treat their subjects or interact with their neighbors, or control their national industries and elections, seem very interested in doing those very things in other places – which is a direct violation of the Christian truism “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you aren’t willing to take advice from parties that are diametrically opposite from yourself ideologically, then stay out of their business, too.

The point is that dissidents, to become dangerous, must feel that no one is listening to what they have to say, or that any dialogue in which they participate is a farce. Having a “dialogue” on how to best address global tension, for example, without any interest in or commitment to changing your own national actions as required to resolve conflicts, is hypocrisy; just like waging a war on drugs and focusing on the ghettos is obvious hypocrisy, as the only people capable of large-scale importation of drugs typically are not ghetto residents.

With respect to the “current” war on terrorism, which seems to be focused on Islamic Terror: that is a war we, as a “Christian” nation will never WIN, so long as we deny that there are things about Islam (and every other religion other than our own) that are worth learning, and learning from. And there are things to be learned from non-democratic nations that are applicable to our dear Democracy, particularly as we see it slipping away, eroded by the very “rule of kings” that we were supposedly founded as a bulwark against.

Back briefly to the adult vs. kid table. The problem is of course that who sits at which table, globally speaking, is largely defined by military might. We as a global community seem to believe that all other ideologies aside, as long as you are well armed, you deserve attention and respect. Of course, that’s part of the problem — we are basically telling anyone disenfranchised, alienated, ignored or otherwise marginalized that if you get your armaments together (remembering that about 75% of the world’s high tech weaponry is produced by the USA), and prove that you will use them, then and only then will you be worthy of notice. And then we wonder when the guns are pointed at us. Hmm…

Share This: