I ascend the platform to make a speech Confident, puffed and pumped-full of pride But upon facing the audience found I could not remember by words, nowhere to hide... So I stumble-through, somehow to the end, And much quieter, chastened, and humbled From the speaker's stage, descend... Soon after, a little old lady grabbed my sleve and said: "If you went up, lookin like when you came down; You would have come down, lookin like when you went up" I looked at her with surprise, and mumbled "Thanks", but remembered her words completely, in the end.
The morning wind whooshes, fresh and cold, In the late-November back yard, just after sunrise, And my head is warmed by my Grandpa's cap, Red-plaid wool, found in the closet, 100 years old At least --- And as the sun shines in my eyes, The gold-brown oak leaves scatter across the grass, I consider roots and prairie turf and days gone by, And shiver at the image of forlorn frigid days Spent in homes built of true grit and sod, The Scandinavian pioneers praying to God That the land they bought to be free of kings Would, someday, lead to warmer better ways To live --- And things, they did get better, For sweat and luck brought abundance for all, And Grandpa bought his cap to hunt for deer, In the happier orange-colored Fall... This same cap sits on my balding brow, Reminding me of my ancestors' journey, Through the cold grass, with hope, until now...
"Which war did you like the best?" Asked the young one, And I thought to myself "Afghanistan, or the one further west?" Both a desert-deadly bloody bore, But the rush and the thrill Made me go back for more, Otherwise I'm pushing boxes In a suburb mega-store...
So I look the kid right in the eye, "Neither one, both sucked", I lie...
The voices of Russians singing, Twenty men and twenty women, Join and blend and soar In a sonic-rainbow harmony so Beautiful and ethereal, So haunting, that it Aches behind my eyes And wrings something inside, hinting That there's a momentary place Beyond, where all is well, And peaceful-delightful, Like the precious minutes Of an orange-purple sunset, Or lovers' embrace... The music ends, And I die a little...
Compelled to fill an empty space within, That part of us we're told is like a god, Which left unfed will gnaw us from inside, And leave the soul anemic and in sin... So, thus enjoined, we scramble off to church, And temple, convent, shrine, or gilded mosque, Where we retreat from monsters we have made, Because we're told there's nowhere else to hide.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star, Do you notice from afar, Your kin, we humans call the sun, Which burns, like you, until it's done, Then grows and shrivels, in a dark Return to the state where things begun... Twinkle, twinkle, little light, Burning-out in an empty night.
He rolls back and forth on the bed, In anger and pain, groaning To me, to God, and the cruel fate Which deemed he must lie, While eaten from the inside, Full of morphine, moaning, And I, his young son, sit beside, Bewildered, watching my love die.
It feels funny-strange, When -- and where -- it hits me... A sense of being home, in a place So familiar, yet distant, misty Memories of a life which used to be... Sensed vice pictured, a vapor trace Of happiness, while walking on the side Of a street without a sidewalk, Clean, gray concrete, straight and wide, Built to last on a former field Of corn, a suburban pathway to the mall, On which the Midwest mini-vans glide, Toward all the happiness they can buy... I am one of them, impossible to deny, Scuffing the kerb under an empty sky.
"Modern poetry seems all too often to be associated with coy, small-minded ironists; teasing, finicky word players who often write in disappointingly short lines and seem to lack the ambition, the emotional force, the rhetorical reach, and even the range of subject matter of great poets of the past. Where to go these days to find the real thing?"
Important senior officials
From Washington D.C.,
Fly thousands of miles,
To drink green tea,
Review important files,
And make proposals using
Their negotiating wiles,
With Japanese senior officials
Who say "No" with smiles...
I like to work with words... But sometimes it's a real challenge to find the right ones to describe something as simple, soothing, and beautiful as the late-summer evening songs of the "Suzu-Mushi" (Bell Crickets). Here in Japan, Suzu-Mushi become active towards the end of summer and continue into the early autumn -- They make a cricket-like sound, but it's milder, and smoother, like: "cheep-cheep-cheep ... or ... ling-ling-ling" -- Thousands of little insects making soft-ringing, tiny-bell-like sounds --- Suzu-mushi sing and vibrate in the September nights, which slowly get cooler as the Equinox approaches.
Out on a walk in the morning, A cat appears, as cats tend to do, Quietly, without much warning... A hunter, with a hind-leg missing, Inscrutable, no yowl, no hissing, Then, glares at me like: "Who are you!" I try to make a face to say: "Don't mind me, just passing through" The cat replies: "O.K., I let you by" Then curls-around to head away, With a 3-legged feline sway... And I am left to wonder why, The cat let me go, that day.
I stop, in surprise... Forget what I was thinking, Blood pressure starts to rise, Scanned by those unblinking Green-Medusa eyes.
She's of the verdant hills, Where the magic mists arise To paint ghosts in the skies, And ancient art distills The mystery which fills Those Green-Medusa eyes.
What doesn't quickly kill you, Makes you stronger, it is said, But the woman simply looks right through To find a room inside your head, And try as you might, you can't undo Her leafy spell, her spider thread...
So, final surrender is no surprise, To hungry Green-Medusa eyes.
It's a truth, but a bit of a mystery, That amidst all the man-made pain and strife, Since the dawn of time and prehistory, Women have maintained the power of life... And as I deal with my daughters and lovely wife, It's a fact which is never missed to me.
Luxury and pleasure Are available, for a price, Paid from our treasure Sating desire, honoring vice, To the last measure, Without thinking twice, No looking back... We spend the coins of our mortal purse, Running circles, in the cul-de-sac Of our thirst-full lives -- our curse.
Yet another sweat-hot August day, I'm soaked-through, and heat-stressed, Out on the streets, earning my pay, But something is different, And it causes me to rest, Close my eyes, and listen through my skin, To feel the small shift From the season I'm in... The breeze has changed to sultry, from steamy, The Sun's angle lower, reflections less gleamy, All caused by the tilt of the planet's spin... Summer is slowing -- Burning itself out, Until all that's left is the glowing embers Called September.
It's there, but I can't see It straight-on, rather feel It, peripherally, avoiding me As if to remain unreal And unconfirmed, resembling The hint of a shadow gone 'round The corner, the air still trembling, From where it ran, without a sound, Before I could get there, Hoping to catch, and hold it close To my heart -- And I swear I won't get nauseous or morose, No, I'll be relieved, relaxed, jocose...
It's the Leprechaun of living-on, It's the Imp of knowing my existence, Which I cannot help but chase, In response to an insistence, That there has to be a trace Of meaning and adventure In the neutral comfy-cozy place That is my life, sans-vesture...
Predictable, repetitive, the hours and days extend, And the slippery Imp is disinclined To show the Rainbow's End, So, I keep on trucking, growing old, no pot-of-gold, Yet strive to buy what can't be sold, A grim-faced hiker on the karmic wold.
I am hurt, and I need to heal, Where can I go, where can I rest? The pain is spiritual, but real, And it keeps me from sleeping, lest My dopamine dreams conceal, The answer, the cure, the blue-green vale Of pine trees, and grass, and peaceful air, A portion of nature, pure but frail... And I lay me down on the pine needles, where The shade of the branches cover me, To protect from the rains of mystery... And I relax amidst magic blue-green trees, Arboreal peace, an enchanted breeze, Cooling, calming, curing the disease... The trees are like gods, so I pray, on my knees, To the quiet of the hollow, its being to cherish, Every day, every month, every year, 'till I perish.
MOSHO is Japanese for heat-wave hot, As in humid-sticky August air, Which cooks things in a summer rot, And beckons sweat-springs in my hair, Which then drip-down around my ears, To soak my shirt with sodden smears... Each day, until the Autumn nears.
To run out and hunt for something to eat, Was considered a blood-skill and mannish thing, Men killed and gorged on mammoths' meat, Which thereafter caused their vanishing. Then women stepped-up with nuts, roots, & wheat, To save humankind from famishing…
Which is how men came to turn in their spears, In return for shovels and garden shears.
Out for a walk, sometimes slow-jog, on a pre-hot July morning, The park is populated with roses, mostly wishing it was back in May, And dazed-looking, pajama-clad denizens, who jerk-stop with scant warning, Because the dogs, who drag them along, like to do it for play...
And the cars whoosh-by, too-urgent, metallic and swarming,
Past the army of cicadas who've waited beneath, 7 years, for this day.
(1) I take a simple view of life: keep your eyes open and get on with it.
(2) Living is strife and torment, disappointment and love and sacrifice, golden sunsets and black storms. I said that some time ago, and today I do not think I would add one word.
(3) Surely we have always acted; it is an instinct inherent in all of us. Some of us are better at it than others, but we all do it.
(4) The office of drama is to exercise, possibly to exhaust, human emotions. The purpose of comedy is to tickle those emotions into an expression of light relief; of tragedy, to wound them and bring the relief of tears. Disgust and terror are the other points of the compass.
(5) We ape, we mimic, we mock. We act.
(6) When you're a young man, Macbeth is a character part. When you're older, it's a straight part.
A man has many appetites, Which line-up to be filled, Feed the need, 'till sated, Or petered out... Or thrilled... But, by middle-age there's something, Which leaves one drooling-dreamy, An Italian meatball sandwich, Beats a girl in a bikini.
How can it be that the spot Where a disgrunteled kid Used a semi-automatic rifle, While in the women's clothes section Of Von Maur's, To shoot and kill some people, And then, himself, Adding a punctuation mark to a crime, Done with a gun, Which we have the right to bear... Well, how can it be, That there's no memorial; Nothing to remind us of the victims... Are they better off forgotten? Removed impediments To Von Maur's sales.
I drive down the same road On which I cruised as a youth And the radio plays a 70's song Unheard for ages, Fogotten so long... But now it hits me, With the sting of truth... The melody takes me back to the day And a younger, simpler way.
We are the Bug Boys, come knocking on your door Don't be surprised we're standing here Instead of crawling on the floor Or buzzing near your ear Like in our normal biosphere...
If you give us all your fruit and sweets We won't come-round no more Until sometime later, when we've won the war Occupy the playgrounds and streets Establish our insect elites And run things from the Walmart Store
We are the Bug Boys, we bring good news No need to fear or fret With insect wisdom we know how to use The planet you humans abuse It's not too late, we'll save things yet...
But meanwhile you need to stay inside Stay off the radios, swallow your pride, Sit back and enjoy, the entomological ride...
She lays on the bed Motionless, childless, Asleep, akin to dead, Because the nest Now empty, instead Of the active stress Of parental worries, Emotional flurries... They're all gone today, Or at least, A phone-call away.
In Nineteen Hundred and Seventy One, The Rolling Stones released An album called "Sticky Fingers", With a jacket image that lingers, Its impact un-decreased… Based on a Wharhol shot: Too-tight jeans, with zipper undone, Naughty, visceral, and hot -- A waist-level snap of nasty-fun… Primo stuff for a young man’s wood, And, yes, the songs were also good.
Viewed from afar, at distance, With separation... The blurry mix Of actions, calls, and meetings, Management's whims & insistence, To follow the consultant's latest fix, Thereby saving our corporate existence, Ensuring we're up and competing, Down-sized, restructured, and lean... Well... It sucks, if you know what I mean.
I trudge around an ancient baseball ground, For the fifth time, stepping over weeds, Near the end of a day, when fireflies abound... I pause in my circling to swat at a fly, Then look-up, and am stunned to see what's around... And above -- a priceless painting on high, A cloudless cobalt sky, which the sunset leads To a twilight glow-conclusion, devoid of sound, Crisscrossed by golden shining vapor trails The gifts of jets' propulsion needs... Oblivious to the miracle I have found, My daughters kick a ball and cry To join them, but their urging fails To dispel the magical moment in time, When a heavenly light-show was briefly mine.
Farewells made by the bus, It's finally time to leave, Depart from being one of us, With tearful hugs we grieve... The moment's heavy, sadly-sweet, Yet, dare we hope that fate will weave, Another chance for us to meet.
Hard work, with technical vision... Human rationality presides, Business rules, followed with precision, In accordance with corporate decisions... To make things we don't know we need, To feed what can't be filled inside... Led by appetite, we proceed, Like ants developing insecticide.