My newest poem, Are You Free?, Is now available at the Free Verse Revolution blog:
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
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
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
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.
My 12th poem for National Poetry Writing Month.
Living in supposed happiness
Behind the gilded gates
Of your father.
Small suspicions sprout
That the purpose of life
May not have as much to do
With fine dining and shiny rocks
As you were led to believe.
A triad of trips beyond teach
The reality and inevitability
Of old age, sickness, and death,
The pervasive suffering of humankind
Out in the world
Beyond your walls.
In the quiet of the night,
In search of truth
And a cure,
Sitting, studying with yogis
And begging before kings.
No less suffering,
No more satisfied.
Yet the cure for the world’s pain
Was waiting to be found
Asceticism and excess,
Riches and renunciation,
Under the old fig tree
Near the calm pond
Where the lotus blooms.
My sixth poem for National Poetry Writing Month.
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,
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.
The allure is strong:
Power, wealth; reputation
Everything you need
For a life of suffering
Ruled by desire and fear.
My response to Colleen’s Weekly #Poetry Challenge # 34 – POWER & ALLURE
Breath flows in and out
Heart beat rhythm slowing down
All there is is now.
Poem #9 for National Poetry Writing Month (aka #NaPoWriMo)
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.
Poem #3 for National Poetry Writing Month (aka #NaPoWriMo)
Oh, America, you schizophrenic maladjusted
Nightmare train of well intentioned paving stones,
What have we done now?
Feeling angry, frustrated and scared.
Things changing rapidly around you,
Up is down, black is white,
Majority today, minority tomorrow.
Afraid of being done unto as you have done.
Feeling dejected, ignored and disenfranchised,
By millionaire politicians that pretend to care about you
Every four to six years.
So you shack up with the first sociopath that comes along,
Pays attention, tells you you’re pretty,
And offers to take you away from it all.
Waking next day hungover regret,
Tiny hands cupping breasts under the sheets,
Spooning your ass, his limp little tool spent.
Just another trophy on a narcissist’s wall.
America, Julia Roberts whore with a heart of gold
Waiting for the right billionaire to come along
And save you from the cold hard streets (and herpes).
Must’ve never read the Buddha’s Dhammapada:
Nobody can Richard Gere you out of the whorehouse but you.
America, you under educated Ritalin starved paranoid
ADD suffering superstitious conspiracy theorist,
I love you, warts and all.
Despite oligarchy, plutocrats, and
Fucking the working class in the ass with the tax code.
Despite rampant racism, sexism, homophobia
And general xenophobic bigotry.
Despite egotism, corporate greed and the military industrial complex.
Despite manifest destiny and imperialist colonialism
Despite Corruption, Anti-intellectualism, elitism and hypocrisy.
I love you.
Not for what you are, or what you’ve been,
But what you dream of being:
Land of the free, Home of the brave,
Inalienable human rights to pursue
Life, liberty and happiness.
Equality and equity.
Sanctuary for huddled masses across the globe.
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.
Can anyone out in the hallway hear me?
Skrit-Scratching on the walls,
Floor to ceiling pencil poems
In prescription-cursive fonts,
Hand cramps trying to keep up
With the torrent through my cortex.
Thoughts crying out, screaming the night,
Jolting awake, dream-fog questioning
The reality of sounds in the dark.
Strain to hear soft sobs through
Shared bathroom walls,
Fetal-curled on the tile floor.
Randomly reciting passages from Plato
Epictetus and the Buddha.
Waiting for the appropriate countersign
From Aristotle, Epicurus and the Gita.
Murmur-chanting Howl and America
Softly, steadily swaying like a Rabbi praying Torah.
Desperately shoving notes and folded photographs
Under the cell door, hoping an Orderly doesn’t see.
Walls full, pencil broken
Poetry flows on, scratched into the floor,
A spiraling binding protection circle of words
Writ with a broken bloodied fingernail.
20-21 September 2016