Monthly Archives: March 2016

Good morning.

I want to say something about poetic truth and reality. As I get older I tend to experience the world as increasingly soulful. But I am coming around to believing that that has less to do with my age than with how the world is, day by day, hour by hour, baring more of its soul.

When my brother, founder of the leftist news collective, ThisCantBeHappening.net, asked me to write a poem about the sparrow showing up at Bernie’s Portland rally, I replied that I would have a hard time doing that, because it was already a powerfully poetic event. Why mess with it? Since assuming the position of this site’s resident poet several years ago, I have discovered that there is poetry in almost everything that is happening in the world. My gift (and my cross) is that my heart and soul are connected to world events through language. I have written about crisis after crisis, finding that poetry can transform facts into digestible myth. If journalists cover the “story”, poets treat the mythic elements in the story.

As I reflected on the sparrow at the rally I realized that it can be taken on two levels: On the macro level, everyone is experiencing the same thing, what the video showed. On the personal level it carries the power of a dream and each person can interpret what the bird signifies for themselves. On the poetic level the possibilities were wide open. As I wrote, I started to address the poem to a fictional someone who was there, someone who experienced it directly, but around that dialog with this fictional person I embellished  the larger, collective event that gripped everyone’s imagination who saw the video.

As a poet, for my soul’s sake,  I had to ask myself, what’s really going on? Indeed, something mythic was playing out. Plus, one would have to be blind not to notice that Bernie revealed a little of his own soul in the way he responded to the bird’s appearance, or shall we say, its endorsement?  And, hey!, isn’t it about time a candidate with soul stepped forward? I’m not dissing Obama. He too has soul or he wouldn’t have survived what the conservative hard-liners, not to mention his own party, put him through for 8 long years. But Bernie is like a breath of mountain- or ocean- or Spring-time air. If he’s good enough for a sparrow (finch) he’s good enough for me.

One day, in the asylum

We were having a bad day in the asylum,
A bad 8 years, a bad sixteen years,
Oh, heck, a bad era,
Well, let’s face it, a bad history.
But we had a good leader for a change,
A guy from Vermont
With wild white hair,
An honest man
Who most people liked and trusted
Who openly talked about revolution.
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My father

My father comes up in my thoughts often and randomly. Honestly, I don’t know why I think of him sometimes. It seems to be something I am seeing or doing that triggers a feeling that is attached to him. I’m glad he is still part of my life. He died in 2012. (My mother survived him by a year.)  I think of them very differently and, strangely, rarely together. Why is that? They were together until the last year of my mother’s life, and I think they loved each other all their lives together, albeit toward the last few years when my father was struggling with ataxia and my mother with Alzheimers, their love sank deep, out of sight, into the bottom like a stone. But it was always there.  I remember when my father, in his hospital bed, asked my mother point-blank if she loved him, and it was a risky question, because she had slipped so far into her illness that she didn’t recognize him most of the time, but occasionally referred to him as “that old man” . But then, he held her hand and I imagine that she recognized his touch, and she said “Yes”.   I loved both my parents, but my love for them was different, and I think my love, like theirs for each other, also went deep, seeking the bottom, like a stone, but it was there in a very real and lasting way, right through the end. It’s Spring now. New life, the return of light. Yay. It’s been a long wait. It always is, don’t ya’ know.  Here is a poem about my father:

(Footnote: Yggdrasil in line 16, is the name of the world tree in Norse mythology, whose roots hold the universe together.)

The Granby Oak

About a year before my father died
I took him to visit
The 500 year old oak in Granby.
I thought he would find some inspiration,
Beneath this tree,
Some kind of affirmation
For his own longevity,
Still holding his own
In spite of the ravages of ataxia,
And years of losing his wife,
My mother, to Alzheimers.
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Opening statement:

I am very much aware of how any form of writing falls short of expressing what I am feeling relative to living in these times of world-wide crisis. These feelings cannot be covered by any language — poetic, journalistic, fictional, political (didactic, bombastic, metaphoric). . .You see what I’m saying. So I am anxious to explore blogging as another color in the spectrum of communicating what I am feeling or how I am processing just living as fully as I dare, heading into 2016. Continue reading

Our monster

A word about this poem: How much control do we have over the atmosphere we live in? This poem argues, “plenty”. But the monster takes his form by increment, stitched together shadow by shadow, stealing life from every little bit of hope and courage that we relinquish. And eventually, as we move out, he moves in. The leaning porch and the empty farmstand, if we think about it, are as disturbing as the suggestion that the monster, in the end, looks a little like our angry neighbor and a little like certain of our high-profile politicians. How dangerous is this monster? One way to find out is to try to take back the homestead.

Our Monster

The electrodes were pulled,

The thing woke, shaking off its death-trance,
Got up, looked around.
We had a monster.

It is ours.

We created it
Out of provincialism,
Greed
And our fear of everything.

It swam up out of the depths of our
Not taking ourselves seriously,
Evolved out of our choosing war every time.
It grew fat in the nursery of our cultivated indifference,
Descended when we lost our appetite for principles.
It started by devouring our dreams.
It licked its shark teeth
When we let the angry neighbor convert us.
When we let the self-righteous
Do all the praying,
Its shadow crossed the land.
When we gave up on each other,
When we gave up on the land,
That was when we felt its breath on our necks.
When we stopped voting our conscience
And invested all of our naiveté in a virtual future,
That was when we summoned it
To lurch forward.
And when we abandoned the hope of the moment,
That was when it knew it had a home!
You know, that old place
That we used to call home?
Where the door now stands
Wide open to the wind and rain,
Where the windows rattle
When the fracking earthquakes shake the land?
Where the paint peels
On the empty farm stand?
Our monster sits on the leaning porch
Just like a human
Waiting for the world to end,
Except smiling
Like a damn politician.

 

Excerpt from my new (unpublished) book,”13 Seeds”, chapter 4: A storm will come

Sometimes it seems to me that either life is what we make of it or we are what life makes of us; that is the deal, roughed out. Or maybe it goes back and forth. Sometimes things, people, situations, fate seem to cooperate; other times we get caught up in a movement that sweeps us along and whatever we are trying to do is secondary to the impersonal movement and what we are trying to do in our own little niche is of very little consequence to what is actually playing out.

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