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

 

Chaos and Cure

Chaos around you:
Be in the world, not of it.
Chaos within you:
Be still, breath,
Be present in this moment,
The only true reality.
Be mindful of your thoughts,
Be aware of your reactions.
The only things you truly control.
Find refuge in the palace of your mind,
That quiet place inside your soul.

10/17-10/23/17

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.

Perspective

“Thou art a little soul bearing about a corpse, as Epictetus used to say”
– Marcus Aurelius, translated by George Long

Life is short;
The Universe is forever:
An ocean swallowing
The teardrops of human existence,
Born a thousand eons
Before our earliest ancestors
Had drug themselves from
The primordial ooze.
So long ago that
Only God was there
To witness the blessed event.
Though, perhaps, even He
Is too young to recall the day.

A dozen millennia after
Our great-great-grandchildren
Have become dust
Blown on the solar winds,
It will still be here,
Waiting patiently
For its appointment with Death
At the other end of Eternity.

19 July 1999

The Tao of λόγος

Tao, Logos and Yin & Yang

Please note, word “Logos” in the poem below is not the plural of the English word “logo,” rather it is a transliteration of the ancient Greek word λόγος, pronounced “low-gose,” which has been used as a term in Philosophy and Theology since the time of Heraclitus. In some ways, and in some usages, it is similar to the Chinese  (Tao) of Taosim.

The logos that can be defined
is not the one eternal Logos,
The word that can be spoken
is not the one true Word,
The tao that can be explained
is not the one everlasting Tao,
The force that can be described
is not the one indivisible Force,
The path that can be walked
is not the one true Path.

Known without learning,
Understood without knowing,
Arrived at without traveling.

One unified whole,
No sides to join,
No inside to be on the outside of,
All is one, one is all,
Forever momentary,
All pervasive,
Binding itself to itself.

Source of everything,
Bookend of eternity,
Rational structure of existence,
Unobtainable goal
That has already been reached.

4/29-4/30/17

You can read more about the Tao, the λόγος, and Yin & Yang by following the links.

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)

All the World’s a Stage

The curtain begins to fall,
Darkness is all you see,
“But I haven’t completed five acts,”
You protest, “I’ve only completed three!”

The stage manager stands in the wings,
Shaking his head, looking so serene,
“You stop when I say you stop,
Even if its in the middle of a scene!”

Don’t fret about the time you get,
Every actor gets their due,
It isn’t the amount of time on stage,
But what with it you do.

Three acts is no different than five,
Five thousand would no difference make.
Be content with what you are given,
For no more or less will you take.

12 October 2008

Inspired by Marcus AureliusMeditations, Book 12, Section 36.

 

Evolution

Time before human memory, trading gills for lungs
Crawling onto dry land, into holes and up trees,
Growing legs, fur, tails and tiny little brains
That would soon be far to big for a birth canal.

Out of the trees, walking on two feet,
Hands free for carrying, nose picking and tool making.
Lower back pain discovered and bequeathed
To future generations for free.

Out of Africa around Mediterranean: north.
Cousins walk east until it becomes west,
Reunited when shortcuts are sailed.

Families become tribes, become communities, become villiages,
Become cities, become states, become countries and empires.
Gatherers become hunters, become farmers, become craftsman and artists,
Become citizens, become soldiers, become pawns of powerful men.

Brain growing visionaries become shaman, become oracles,
Become poets, prophets, philosophers and priests.

Curiosity, thirst for knowledge, need to understand
The world around: how it works and why.
Turn inside: who am I? What am I?
Realize that you to must one day die.

Needs become wants, become desires, become suffering,
Fear to lose, fight to keep, to steal, to fight, to kill and wage war.
Accumulate things, power; wealth.
Chase fleeting moments of sensory pleasure.
You will still one day die.
Try to avoid the inevitable; suffering is unavoidable.
Slave to desire, pleasure and greed can never really be free.
Sage, divorced from desire, seeking power over only his self,
Can never be anything else.

November 2016

Bullseye

k6-5artemis

Nock the arrow to the bowstring.
Raise the bow; take aim.
Sharp eye, steady hands,
Calculate your trajectory.
Let the arrow loose.

Nothing more you can do now
To get the arrow to target:
Wait, watch; learn.
More arrows in the quiver.

11/13/16

Image is from www.Theoi.com: Detail of Artemis from a painting of the Gigantomachia (War of the Giants). The goddess aims her bow at a giant. She is dressed in a knee-length skirt of a maiden and wears an animal skin cap. Below her stands Demeter wielding a spear.”