The Rolling River

Bob Dylan and the ghost of Leonard Cohen
Sitting shivah on short stools
Yarmulke pinned to gray curly hair
Mourning Yossef’s son,
Who got in trouble with the law
Questioning authority
Challenging the establishment
Threatening the status quo.

Low murmured Hebrew and Yiddish,
Swaying like reeds on the sea,
Thoughts linger of sandle-less Socrates,
Served a hemlock cocktail
By the powerful men of Athens,
Condemned to die
For the high crime
Of corrupting the youth
By teaching them
To think for themselves.

The times are changing,
Time is nothing but change:
A rolling river that’s never
The same.

Leonard sits shivah
In the lotus position
Meditating mind breaths
And beneficent Buddha nature,
Serene smile thinking of
The high born privileged prince
Slowly discovering the three fold
Reality of the common world,
Informing the high born
Priests, warriors, and kings
That their stratified social system
Is a mind made illusion
Just like everything else they see.

Socratic Stoic Jews breaking bread
With Benedict Spinoza
Recalling the ship of Citium
Wrecked on the Grecian shore
Near Athens.
Loitering in Hellenic bookstores
Discovering the wise words of Socrates
That hemlock couldn’t kill,
Following the dogs to the porch,
Writing philosophical prescriptions
To alleviate the suffering
Of ill flowing lives.

After seven days
Bob and Lenny
Return the cushions to the chairs,
And uncover the bathroom mirror
As sunlight bursts through
A beat-up Venetian blind.

4/10-4/12/18

My 12th poem for National Poetry Writing Month.

napo2018button2

Advertisements

Looking for Truth

You can look in your books,
Old and new,
Of beginnings and births,
Journeys and exiles,
Looking for truth
In a burning bush,
Or hanging on a Roman tree.

Search the history of time
For big bangs and clouds of gas,
Using probability and fuzzy logic,
Rationality and intellect,
Dialectic and dialogue,
Searching for truth outside the cave
In the depth of a black hole;
In the cry of a baby universe.

You can look inside,
Examine the depths of your soul,
For compassion and humility,
Poetry and purpose,
Knowing the only thing
You can truly know,
Controlling the only thing
You can truly control,
Be present
In the only moment you have,
Looking for truth
Under an Indian fig tree,
With an Athenian gadfly;
Between the pages of an emperor’s journal.

You can look outside,
At starving children on the streets,
At parents slaving to survive,
Living in quiet desperation
At the pleasure of the oligarchs
In the castle on the hill,
500 yards from urine stained crack houses,
6 miles from Robert E. Lee’s hoouse
And the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Looking for truth
In the eyes of a stranger
Or the hand of a friend.

11/13/98-12/28/17

 

Zeno of Citium

Zeno of Citium

A Cyprian merchant ship
Wrecked on Grecian shores.
Everything lost.
Discovered the wisdom of a dead man
In an Athenian bookstore.
Clutched the robes of a dog
Until he promised to teach
How to desire nothing but virtue.

Graduating from the kennel
To teach on the porch:
A good flow of life
Lived in accordance with nature,
A philosophy that freed
Slaves and emperors alike.

10/21/17

Zeno of Citium (c. 334-c. 262 BCE) was a Hellenistic Philosopher who founded the Stoic School in Athens around 300 BCE.

Sophia

Oh, Sophia Shekinah,
Socrates-lover, Plato-Friend,
Maternal dwelling of the Logos.
Sefirah, emanating
From the crown of creation without end,
Wisdom, Understanding: Knowledge.
Understanding wisdom is knowing
That you know nothing.

6/7/17

Notes:
Shekinah (Hebrew:שכינה ) – Pronounced Sha-kee-nah. Literally “dwelling.” A Rabbinic term for the presence of God, held by some to be the feminine attribute of God. See more here.
Sefirah (Hebrew: סְפִירָה ) – Pronounced Se-fir-ah. Literally “emanation.” A term from Kabbalah. See more here.
Logos (ancient Greek λόγος) – Pronounced “low-gose,” which has been used as a term in Philosophy and Theology since the time of Heraclitus. See more here. I’ve written about the Logos previously.

Dreams of Poems Already Written

Allen was in Asgard reciting America and
Singing the Buddhist Bible Blues for All-Father Odin
While Bobby and Baldr compared notes concerning
Daily dreams of darkness, depression, and death.
Byron rode up and down Bifröst bridge
Writing a poem about Don Juan
(No, not that one, the new one!)
Marcus Aurelius read the mythologies of Midgard,
Studied philosophy with Plato,
Admiring the stoicism of Socrates,
As Rimbaud wrote rhyming prose about Ragnarök,
Containing nothing but the truth,
Delivering it to Valhalla for the consideration of
Siddhartha, Thor and Wōđanaz.

4/2/17

Poem #3 for National Poetry Writing Month (aka #NaPoWriMo)

Haiku Written While Reading Book V of Plato’s Republic

plato

The man holds knowledge.
He knows something, not nothing.
Nothing can’t be known.

11/16/16

Notes:
Image is a detail from Raphael’s School of Athens featuring Plato.

When to be an Idealist

Hard to be an idealist when the world turns to shit,
Dreams and hopes, ideals and integrity suffocate
With cold stark reality’s boot-heel pressing on your throat.
Sweet cynicism is so inviting–
Not the Cynicism of Diogenes, simple virtuous living gutter monk gadfly dress in Socratic rags,
masturbating in the streets of Athens and telling emperors to stop blocking his sun–
Un-capitalized cynicism, giving up on humanity, everyone out for themselves
Motivated only by self serving ambition, materialistic greed and untempered desire.
Universe, a dark infinite cold uncaring meaningless place we live only to die.
No expectations, no disappointments, no pain;
No meaning, no happiness, no true flourishing of souls.

Socrates and Zeno taught me, nobody intentionally does wrong,
Ignorance and confusion over what is truly valuable,
Everyone is the hero of their own story,
Educate them or just put up with them, friend Marcus advised,
They can be a great people, they want to be.
They only lack the light to show the way. Be a light unto the nations.

Life is filled with suffering chaos and always ends in death,
Siddhartha showed suffering can be suffocated; Death need not be feared,
Many paths lead to the top of the mountain,
Some short, some long, some steep, some not.
Find a guide, be a guide; but you can’t walk the walk for them.
People only change if they want to,
For better or for worse.

Storm clouds gather, thunder in the distance,
The world returned to wilderness,
Wailing suffering of millions like a weight on my chest.

I remember watching Battlestar Galactica back in ’06
Refugees of a holocaust had found a new home,
Not perfect, but all their own,
Cylons arrive in the sky with fascism, slavery and death.
Their government surrenders, all seems lost.
“What do you want to do now, Captain.”
“The same thing we always do, fight them until we can’t.”

The most important time to be an idealist,
Is when the world turns to shit.

11/12/16

I Dreamed I Saw Old Socrates

socrates_louvre

I dreamed I saw old Socrates
Walking Athens after dark.
No people to harass, no questions to ask,
No great debates on which to embark.

His face it looked so serene,
As he contemplated truth.
Is this the man they put to death
For corruption of the youth?

The men in charge, to keep their jobs,
Don’t want us thinking for ourselves.
Its sheep they need, easier to lead,
Not the depth to which wisdom delves.

Question every single authority,
Be certain only of what you do not know.
These men of Athens knew right then
This gadfly had to go.

I dreamed I saw old Socrates
Teaching with his last breath.
I stood among his crowd of friends
As he bravely met his death.

I awoke in tears of anger
At the injustice that had been done.
But I could not define what “justice” was,
And I knew that old Socrates had won.

11/3/16

Image from Wikipedia

Memento Mori (A Sonnet)

Went down the desert where the vultures feed
On human flesh rotting in the sunshine.
Pluck eyes, testicles, suck out the seed.
Bloated remains, corpses, on which they dine.

Bereft of life, we all end up a meal
For buzzards, for jackals, microbes and worms.
Most don’t want to admit that death is real,
Its a truth with which all must come to terms.

If you live like you’ll last a thousand years
The time to be a good man will ne’er come.
You’ll end your life with your soul in arrears,
Fighting the fate you can ne’er escape from.

Slaves to fear and death are ne’er truly free,
Socrates didn’t fear death, why should we?

10/12/16

Thoughts, Dreams and Reflections (For Allen Ginsberg)

allenginsberg

I. Thoughts

I thought of you today, Allen Ginsberg,
As I often do when the howls from
Desolation Row enrapture my mind.
Rapid fired images stolen from
Dreams and nightmares of America.
Starving in the streets like
Hysterical angel headed hipsters
And raggedy vagabond doctors
Crouched in darkened doorways
Snarling, scratching at the
Constable’s carriage for
A scrap of bread.

Continue reading