No bright, bleeding edge technology
can by itself inspire us to see
beyond the limitations that bind
us to solutions posed by old minds,
gurus and mentors with rigid ways,
and coaches still running ancient plays.
The revolution cannot be fought
using hackneyed strategy still taught
in broken and ineffective schools,
who at best offer us simple tools.
We need to seek beyond the hammer;
relearn to speak using new grammar.
But in the end, no shortcut or device
grants understanding of work, or price,
nor strips away a rigid mindset;
artificial means are not there yet.
What must be done requires human acts
that integrate ideas and facts,
creating blueprints for the future, now,
out of something unknown, new, somehow.
To that creation, our tools and toys
may add flash, bells, whistles, and some noise
as mere ways for focusing the brain.
Our duty to thinking must remain
so that the choices we weigh and rank
leave in their outcomes, ourselves to thank.
And revolution, if it then comes,
some fresh distribution of stale crumbs
amongst the cannon fodder still here?
How it will change the world is unclear.
The only certainty is still death;
the randomness of life is what’s left.
16 FEB 2017
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
Before he spoke, under my breath,
I said, “the answer
is: just start.”
If you spend all your days
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.
20 MAY 2013
for the His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama
Thoreau spoke of a quiet desperation:
a sad affliction borne by other men,
whose lives are filled up, not so much with silence
but with a never-ending dulling din,
the calling card of progress and its engines,
whose pulse and throb churn on into the night
and rob the world of any moment’s stillness.
With engineering, we would prove it right
that idle hands seek evil, free from working;
that contemplation breeds unrest and doubt;
that in a second’s peace, there is a lurking
malaise so foul that noise must drive it out.
What genius, to encourage entertainments
that thrive on a cacophony of sound
and into pensive hours, inject such vigor
that even philosophic minds are bound
to see in growing deafness, evolution;
amidst the constant murmur of machines
to hear a mantra granting absolution;
and find in silence only the obscene.
As if truth is transmitted by loudspeaker
not needing other volumes first turned down,
instead of lapping, quiet at the shoreline
where we must either learn to swim, or drown.
Lake Catherine, Arkansas
29 OCT 2006
No passive meal, no rare stuff bird,
true peace is not a noun, but verb;
inaction, apathy and doubt
that whisper are not her. She shouts
from rooftops, making foul war shake
in fear at her approach. Mistake
not mewling whiners for her knights,
but rather find those awake nights
who seek to change first, in themselves,
the hurt and violence that dwells
inside us all, and is expressed
in hatred’s cruel unhappiness.
Peace is no victim, she just waits
while we excuse or blame on fate
why we act not who know the course
that will alone deter blind force:
to cease rewarding strength and might
for its own sake, calling it right
that those who kill and those who die
are somehow not just you and I.
11 AUG 2006
If you asked a Buddhist monk
who fled the monastery
as it burned down to the ground
if he would miss it very
much, I think he might reply
“Some mornings, in the winter,
purple clouds would split the sky
into bright colored splinters.”
10 OCT 2005
I’d find some peace if I just had more time;
quite often now, this notion comes to me.
Not as a nagging fault, but more sublime,
suggesting an impossibility.
But peace is built on just a second’s span
and in that tiny jot of life finds form,
requiring no deliberative plan
except to seek some shelter from the storm.
We think it so elusive that we chase
its shadows, stirring endless clouds of dust,
perpetuating our madness and stress,
instead of calmly waiting in one place,
not worried that our steeled resolve will rust,
or that we’ll give our lives a moment less.
And those great projects we cannot delay,
that we, in endless barter, trade and sell:
these too must pause; their bluster must give way
to quiet lulls and contemplative spells.
For peace cannot be found until the soul
finds in the chaos a low quiet song,
the words of which may seem mundane and droll
to those still lost in the wild, howling throng,
who judge those not in motion as great fools.
With progress, they would manufacture peace
and for a profit, offer it for sale.
But nothing will become of those whose schools
instruct in only war. Until they cease
to use the name of progress, they will fail.
16 FEB 2005