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
You call yourselves Creatives,
seekers of some brave new world
where the light of tomorrow shines
and everyone is free,
constructing some great paradigm
connecting one and all
across the universe and time
through some technology.
You call yourselves Inventors,
sculpting from the gossamer
of heretofore undreamt of dreams
and other precious stuff –
the way the world should be:
unleashed from simple here and now
You build as if your raw supplies
were part of nothing else:
a world of waste and sloth and darkness
waiting for your touch.
Pretending it some virgin spot
you dig with pre made tools,
imagining your destiny
replaces nothing much.
And those with whom you disagree?
It’s obvious they’re old,
and harbor shadows of the past,
their light hurtful and cold.
If their ideas made sense,
why did the world end up this way?
That they failed, is no fault of yours;
they did what they were told.
And those who straddle old and new,
those hopeless dinosaurs
whose shoulders you now stand upon
without a word of thanks?
You graciously allow them space
to try and tag along,
while you refuse suggestion
as you scurry to the bank.
Creative? Without toil and sweat,
your art is fantasy;
a game of smoke and mirrors
where you hide your snob’s distain
for those who came before you,
whose creations you transform
into the shiny, plastic things
you promise will again
invoke some metamorphosis,
turn all frogs into kings,
relieve your halitosis
and give back your bounce and spring,
improve your sense of wonder
for a reasonable cost,
and make you feel you’re where it’s at
pretending you’re not lost.
30 SEP 2014
What future use will be our tools
for building greater monuments,
technologies to reach beyond
our yesterday capacity,
if all that drives tomorrow’s will
is to create for their own sake
more grand machines to take the place
of what was once achieved with hands?
What purpose, past mere science gained,
will drive the new mechanics’ soul
to strive outside the here and now
of knowledge limited to cogs,
efficiencies and labor’s yield?
Posterity will need more art
than engineering can provide;
lest it learn just technology
that serves as means to many ends,
and can be turned cruel and unjust
by pure philosophy’s intent.
What good these tools, these saws and nails,
these plows and drills, these guns and bombs,
without instructions for their use
that clearly spell the dangers out?
What will our far descendants know
of how we brought these things to bear
in carving out a worthwhile world,
one nurtured carefully and shared,
if all we choose to leave behind
is how to build, not reasons why?
22 MAY 2007
When ground to standstill, mired, besmirched,
their cog-end mesh begun to rust,
the wheels of progress can but lurch.
Their motion barely moves the dust;
and each gear’s inch assaults the ear
with tortured squeaks and sudden stalls.
Behind all effort lies the fear
of a collapse. Beyond the walls
that seem now solid, storm clouds build,
and in their grey depths store the seeds
of new despair, and drain the will
that seeks out hope, and guarantees.
The great machine we all assume
needs only maintenance to sustain
prosperity — is it now doomed,
its circuits blown under the strain
of finding crisis hidden where
in some illusion, we once thought
ourselves immune, and without care
protected by the things we bought?
The factory that once supplied
in part and parcel, our defense,
lies now in ruin, paralyzed,
struck dumb by an experience.
03 OCT 2005
July is gone, and the pecans
have now begun to set
on the old tree along the bayou;
sometimes, we forget
the simple things that mark the seasons.
We’ve no need of clocks
or calendars. Whatever reasons
we invent to block
the infinite expanse of time
into convenient lengths
quite often rob us of our prime
and downplay our great strengths:
such as the art of observation,
which serves to remind
us that the root of our frustration
is failure to find
the purpose for our human lives
in seeking power and might,
whereby our cause alone survives,
and therefore is proved right.
That humans are endowed with minds,
foremost, and only minor brawn,
should give us pause, and some new kind
of goal to focus on:
like seeking prominence through thought,
and sharing of that wealth
by proving wrong what we are taught
that profits just ourselves.
for R. Buckminster Fuller
31 JUL 2005
The streets are filled with idle, itching hands,
their owners on the prowl in vain pursuit
of some pastime to fill the vacant hours
in darkened rooms enswamped with summer heat.
Without their cellphones, TV sets and games,
and fast-food fare likewise beyond their grasp,
how will the city’s folk be entertained?
On what diversions will they spend their cash?
Driveways are strewn with fallen trees and wires;
on front lawns, baking in the noon-day sun,
we sit in wrought iron chairs, and just perspire.
And wait. There’s not much else that can be done.
Who wants to light a flame to cook a meal,
and add the stove’s hell-fire to this malaise?
It’s better to go hungry than to broil;
besides, the food’s gone bad. It’s been two days.
Tonight, the house is hotter in than out;
by candlelight, perhaps I’ll read a while.
I miss the air conditioner’s white noise;
Too bad such silence has gone out of style.
11 JUL 2005
The art of living well, some pundits quip,
is equal parts audacity and luck;
while others posit a stiff upper lip
and careful breeding lift us from the muck.
The hedonist claims pleasure is the thing;
his polar opposite, the aesthete: prayer.
Each year a new philosophy that brings
the focus to some erstwhile, dormant layer.
I think there is no “art” to life at all.
A chimp can paint a Pollock, nonetheless;
and like a tortured artist, see his walls
as solid bars that shut out happiness.
There is some irony that humans spend
so much of their free time imagining
that their exalted rank must have some end
beyond the simple fact that is living.
The question I would pose to scientists
is whether when they put chimps in a room
to type out “War and Peace”, they get them blitzed
before they start, and tell them, from the womb
that real chimps study law, or man machines,
and must resign themselves to apish rules;
how many, then, would live their lives in dreams
and fail the tests so valued by their schools?
20 JUN 2005
Prompted by the article Pollock’s? No, but the artist aped his work.