21 December 2019

Tome Poem #3

Written to accompany a Christmas gift of Revolutionary Love by Rabbi Michael Lerner...

Our waitress may be rapid-tongued,
though cheerful (for the tip).
Perspiring cooks flip pancakes
where we begin our trip.
Photos line the fake wood grain,
a century of pride.
Generations building war planes,
gaining victories for our side.
Next we crowd the airport gate,
discerning social clues
for how it is we must behave
to keep what we could lose.
And then I board the aircraft
with my stepson and my wife
and ponder how it was these things
became our way of life—
how we became entitled
through happenstance of birth
to eat three squares, to travel thus
on not-yet-ravaged earth.

We may think we choose our actions
on principles well-founded,
but more likely rationalize them
off of those we’ve been surrounded.
Once we judged the white folk
who viewed slavery as the norm.
But aren’t we just as oblivious,
as willing to conform?
No barrel for the plastic,
fuel burned without compunction—
maintaining time-worn patterns
of disposal and consumption.
As though this weren’t all finite,
that it is somehow ok
for each species to be downsized
till we join them in the clay.
For the globe that’s market-driven
has no human at the wheel—
sees nothing past the bottom line,
a reality surreal.

Though ‘tis the season to be jolly
and seek comfort from the weather,
there is so much to grieve alone,
seems time we grieve together.
From that grief may we find courage
to stand up for each other,
extend the line who we define
as sister or as brother.
The community thanksgiving,
instead of once per year,
may soon be happening daily—
if we can still the fear.

Aren't we now beyond protections
that may be bought or hoarded?
Will it be by what we give away
that we end up rewarded?
What worth my private comforts,
on which I have been leaning,
if a life based on self-interest
is one devoid of meaning?
Will climate and extinction
be the classless equalizer,
intervention on a system
strung out on some tranquilizer?
For, regardless if we see it,
we are still slave and master.
Just ask who stitched your clothing
or survived the last disaster.

What we’ve been sold, if truth be told,
Ne’er sat right with me.
And on reflection I believe
the same would hold for thee.
For we each have common interest
that we’ve long been kept from knowing,
to keep us all divided,
which keeps this system going.
Supremacy and racism
are means to someone’s end.
That someone is your master
charading as your friend.
This master has more money
than all of us combined.
We may have far more people,
but our people are resigned,
weary and discouraged
in need of clear direction.

Of necessities these souls may lack
the greatest is connection.
And so I humbly petition
recipients of this gift
to consider how this author’s thoughts
might bring about a shift
in those with whom you interact,
ideally when in-person,
illuminate the darkness,
by drawing back the curtain.
These times can leave one feeling
it only can get worse.
Why bother organizing?
Why bother writing verse?
Whatever confidence I’ve found
to prod my comfort zone
was nurtured in the family
I’m blessed to have here known.

21 July 2019

Lucia's 21st

We hope this birthday finds you 
soaring like an eagle,
without over-indulging 
on activities now legal.

We hope you’re standing for up 
for truths that be self-evident,
that where you find yourself 
is matched well to your temperament.

And that you’ll bear in mind,
as the temperature increases 
(wondering who can set things right 
judging from their speeches),
that out here in the San Juans 
the climate remains stable,
and there will be a place for you
seated at our table.

12 April 2019

For my brother

Again the month turns April;
one year becomes another.
I try to decide if ever I’d
made rhymes up for my brother.
Perhaps I did for Christmas,
or a song I once performed,
But not commemoration
of the day that he was born.
The reason I may offer
(well known to the masses):
A mere three days it comes before
the deadline for our taxes.
Yes, the table where I write this
is well be-strewn with papers
Concerning items purchased
and income for our labors.
Likewise we hope on the twelfth
you give yourself a break,
Not be mired or too wired
explaining what you make.

As has been my pattern,
in choosing what’s for giving,
I search up our old icons
to see which are still living.
Indeed there is one Elvis
who long outlived the other—
More than likely not still being
followed by my brother.
Well remember I the day
I waited at your place,
Curiously removed Costello's
record from its case;
How high did sound his voice;
his band buzzed like a hive!
Unaware was I the platter
spun at forty-five.
Forty years have come and gone
since then; can you believe?

More memories where that came from,
now pleasant to retrieve,
Of each our lives unfolding
finding just the mate
Who draws us into purchase
of excess real estate.
And though we may be dwelling
at distant longitudes—
Your clients seeking better sounds
while mine seek better moods—
There’s one connecting vector
that may not be ignored.
For like the mug you fashioned,
my key includes your chord.

04 March 2019

To Monica on her 67th

What makes birthdays more special
when divisible by five ?
What do we even learn from 
counting years we’ve been alive?
Are we still meeting milestones 
such as when we started walking?
Are there skills we still must learn 
through more listening and less talking?

There comes a realization,
the older we have grown:
how pointless is attachment 
to the objects we may own.
Is it wisdom we develop, 
as our numeral increases,
or does that come more from our luck 
assembling jigsaw pieces?

As I pondered what to get 
my dearly loving spouse,
I decided ‘twould be best to 
not add flotsam to the house.
Then I recalled her envy
of my mp3 collection—
organized by artist, styles 
of every predilection—
which up till now she accessed 
commandeering my computer—
her timely exploitation 
of my status as commuter.

But now I’ll be around more,
for better or for worse.
My five-minute commute leaves time 
to generate more verse!

I next copied all my music files,
leaving out head-bangers,
finding more room on her hard drive 
than on her closet hangers.
No Streisand or Sinatra,
for they’re a bit too slick,
or metal which my student 
once described as wicked sick.
Yet still she ends up having
a playlist so replete
‘twill play from now till mayday 
before any tracks repeat.

But all of this is merely
window-dressing on a life 
where I’m blessed as the husband 
to a most intriguing wife,
who daily fills my coffers 
with hope and inspiration,
and lifts me when I stumble 
on this path to liberation.