The things by which we measure our success:
accumulations from long years of toil,
the pride of equity in an address,
and our precious illusions. How soon spoiled,
in just a moment’s passing, are these goods,
respectability’s crush torn away.
All the great faiths instruct us that we should
in times like these find hope and not dismay,
unloosed from the material that binds
our spirits to mere temporality;
and praise the soul that in such trial finds
a hidden good to salve its sanity.
It’s only stuff, I know; and furthermore,
in recent months I’ve despaired that its weight
has been a millstone lain beneath the floor
that’s kept our fate in chains. But as of late,
I wonder: is it better the veneer
on these rough boards of ours has been removed,
and now, left plain and simple, our path clear,
are we left with a simpler truth to prove?
I am no refugee, except to those
who measure by possessions a man’s worth,
and would put beggar’s hearts in rich men’s clothes
expecting gold from toxic, poisoned earth.
I have all that I need: the rest is dross
that over time accumulates again;
What good is sorrow spent on such a loss,
or worry over endless might-have-beens?
21 SEP 2005
It breaks my heart to think of you
out there in pain; I hope you, too,
likewise consider how I feel
in your attempts to keep it real.
I wonder, though, if broken hearts
are not in fact where real growth starts:
when pieces back to one are stitched
and back to front, are often switched
and bound with glue and tape and nails
that hold when weaker thread might fail
to make the paper thin, weak heart
more thick than it was at the start
and filled with spaces in between,
along the torn lines, not too clean
that each edge matches with the next
in perfect fit. And I reflect
that with my broken heart and yours,
each one survivor of strange cures,
we grow more strong with every break,
with every foolish, sad mistake
and end up better off, it seems,
let loose from small and tidy dreams
thanks to the scars and tissue formed
around our hearts to keep us warm.
22 AUG 2005
It’s been a busy week. I’ve lost a cat, a tooth and a pound or two in the heat.
The smell of the sick-house lingers
where the medicines are mixed;
even fresh washed clothes and fingers
tend to keep the reek of it.
The taste of food is changed,
its scent turned sour and stale,
reducing appetites to nil
and turning faces pale.
Continued deathwatch, so it seems;
each act, each meal observed,
a constant examination, hoping
for improvement’s curve.
A day’s reprieve, perhaps a week
of seeming health and vigor;
and then, relapse. The problems
only seem to grow or linger.
What quality of life is this,
just watching for some sign
that she is half of what she was,
not weary and resigned
to constant medication
and injections, week by week?
Would she consent to letting go,
if she could only speak?
10 AUG 2005
When history’s sad lessons fail
to find their place in memory’s halls
and social constructs name their grail
progress alone, foundations fall.
Progress to where, and at what cost?
The road to ruin remains paved,
while freedom’s edifice is lost
and those who sheltered there, now slaves
caught in the rubble, cannot run
nor find the strength to turn away
the scavengers who’ve now begun
to feed on those still in their way.
The silent crowd, hushed by its fear
of losing face, of showing doubt
as these dark vultures draw more near,
seems to have lost the will to shout.
What use the rhetoric of peace
against such monstrous beasts of war?
What hope their wanton lust will cease
until dissent is heard no more?
When history’s sad lessons fail
to teach those with the sense to learn
what good are tears? They cannot quench
the fire that at our bound feet burns.
The means will taint the noblest ends,
make even Heaven reek of Hell,
if you would call such demons friends
and name their course your own as well.
Spit back their speeches, do not drink
the wine of victory they swill;
each of their boasts, weigh out and think
before you share in their foul kill.
Before you join their path, be sure
it leads beyond the bonfire’s glow;
and if they ask you for your vote,
remember that you can say no.
07 JUN 2005
Each grain of sand that populates
the endless span of shore
seems to be some small answer,
yet implies that there is more
to knowing than to learn by rote
some formulas or rules;
and when compared to the wide ocean
leaves wise men as fools
who would describe their world without
first knowing who describes,
gathering in wild opinions
like a thief collecting bribes.
To grasp the edge of the unknown,
and feel its sharp lip’s rasp
leaves only scars on seeking hands
that would some great truth grasp.
And truth? What sage would dare to dream
their vision broad enough
to take in what has breadth and depth
beyond man’s feeble bluff?
What theories we may formulate,
imagining the range
of life to be within our limits
seems exceeding strange.
If time is our sole instrument
for judging deeds and such,
how sad that it be squandered
limping along on the crutch
of preconceived ideas, formed
in sterile beds of thought
assuming constancy the norm
that drives how we are taught.
What good a single grain of sand
if man is on the beach
and for the want of one small speck
thinks the sea out of reach?
2 JUN 2005
No one stole the moon from us
by force. Instead, they bade us sleep;
in that little death our memory
faded, and our Mother’s song
(not the sing-song lullabies
or product placing jingle-jangle
from an artificial moonlight
like an android babysitter,
but the rhythm of our organs,
constant hum of blood in veins,
synchronized with breath and being)
was lost. And seeking to remember,
in a simple act of faith,
won’t erase the hurt and sadness
of our Mother, so long gone.
Why should she accept with open
arms children that spurned her love?
Why would she be wrong to need
a sacrifice from us to prove
that we were really looking, this time,
with our ears ready to hear
the song she taught us, now forgotten?
Where have we been all these years?
09 MAY 2005
Beauty is youth’s currency;
and those who have it spend
without a care for what may come,
as if it will not end.
The doors of hearts and shops alike
are open to its wants,
and offer endless credit
to the wealthy debutante.
Down every street, the merchants wait
with sweets and tempting fare
and act as if they’ll do the same
once no more money’s there.
But Beauty is a fickle coin,
like manna on the lawn
it ages quickly or will rot;
one morning, it is gone.
How fast the world reveals its claws,
and deadbolts fast its doors;
then woe to those whose meager stash
is gone, leaving them poor.
And how we mock the misers who
would hoard up Beauty’s gold,
and watch the world reborn each day
while they grow weak and old.
Spend fast, you children, while you can,
but don’t just buy, invest;
for once your purse is empty,
you’ll be just like all the rest:
Who scramble to regain what you
have callous, spent so free,
and find all they have left to show
is faded memory.
05 MAY 2005