What is our function?

More and more I’m convinced that we are creating people for whom there is no economic function. This doesn’t mean they’re bad people, or that there’s something wrong with them. What it means is that they have no job possibilities. There is a myth that technology creates more jobs than it takes away, but that is a myth. I make my living teaching but I wonder if that profession is going to survive the upcoming technological upheaval that we are facing. It’s clear that many service jobs,  jobs like driving, will be replaced in the near future.

Already there is talk of creating some kind of economic system where people will have a guaranteed income regardless of if they work at all. What happens to us when we’re basically consumers and not producers?

That brings us to this poem. There’s another major economic change that’s happening to us.  It amazes me that everything is turning into a utility, everything is metered, and things we used to buy or now subscriptions. For example, Microsoft Office is moving to a subscription service.  Soon it will be that we can never really own Microsoft Office or even the Microsoft operating system. Even now when you buy the Microsoft operating system it pushes advertisements to you. Imagine that. You pay for software, and it spams your desktop environment  One of many reasons I use Linux whenever I can  -which is most of the time. Like now.

Think about what’s happening to us. You buy a house and you pay on it for the next 30 years. And then you’re forced to pay taxes on it forever or the government just comes and takes it away. You go to college and take out student loans and then you spend the rest of your life paying that off. It seems that the American Consumer is nothing but that, not a citizen, but a perpetual customer. I wonder if we’ll be turned into utilities as well?  


we are tethered to
and radio waves
all of different lengths
that pulse, dance, and live
a separate life
vestiges of raw resources
and information
which is metered out to us
pimped, pumped and transmitted
and through us
and these things
have a secret life
like demigods
with their own attendants
who serve them
as house slaves
while we heed
the demand for tribute
or face

Two Poems Stored in an Empty Room

This was my old office.  After I moved out a mysterious filing cabinet appeared overnight.  Then disappeared, and everybody pretended nothing was the matter.


Night Whispers

in the evening hours on the front porch
before the deep still rolls in like a fog
preceded by a pause of deathly quiet
when the second awakening arrives
resurrection at the ending of day
the young darkness is alive yet again
alive yet again with cooing whispers
filtered sounds of people conversation
sing song buzz of nocturnal  insect life
secret rustlings at the very edge of light

America Has Talent

while the atomic clocks tick
off the seconds of our life
we chose to dwell
where everyone is typecast
as borderline personalities
drones of corrupted devolution
in the kingdom of banal

living on subsistence entertainment
of  big screen curiosities
with no plot
only artificial drama
convoluted contraptions
conceived with hysterical
over reaction
populated with famous people
you never heard of before

consuming preening personalities
screeching senseless banter
facilitating some contrived contest
requiring feats of strength
or some other meaningless
trivial monkey shine of minor note


I hate when politicians, who never served under arms, drag out the families of those in uniform who died in faraway places.  It is a despicable and shameless pimping to use people like that.  This I wrote tonight.

War Games

At night I hear

The sounds

From the perimeter

Echos of the past

Ricashay inside my head

Shrapnel rattles around my brain

Wounding the mind

Another round

Concussions of memory

I stand my post but

Wonder when

I will be over ran

The mission never ends

Conflicts are forever

Modern wars are never won

Fools lead us from the rear

And  patriots cheer us

From their easy chairs

Give maudlin eulogies

Beware the suits

And cuff linked wrists

Of weak chinned men

I will they not

Be the death of me

Nor make of me a flag draped spectacle

I will we not leave our casualties behind

But carry them on our shoulders to safety

Beyond the wire

And fly home

Memory Lane

windowMemories are windows to the past but sometimes the view is out of focus, and you are not sure what you are looking at.

Here are two poems from adolescence.  A sometimes painful, but ALWAYS interesting time.

 A History Lesson

my grandfather
always had a storage building someplace
which he filled
with all kind of miscellanea
always on the main street
in deserted, dying, downtowns
where the rent was cheap
in little towns that refused to die
but would not grow either
just shrivel down

the last was in Sturgeon, Missouri
in a building that had housed
a funeral home
that had left
some of the equipment behind
including a tilting narrow stainless steel table with gutters and drains
as well as other macabre
before that
the storage building was in Clark, Missouri

General Omar Bradley
was born just outside of Clark
a small town
of about 300 people
we drove there one day to visit
that storage building and
retrieve something or other
he had squirreled away there

as we drove into town
we passed a bum
who probably looked older than he was
because of that weathered look
drunks and homeless get
dressed in white dungarees and ragged white t-shirt
walking alongside the road
my grandfather waved at him
from the front seat
of his dark Olds Delta 88

“Fuck you.”
was all the guy said
my grandfather laughed
one of those soft big bellied Buddha laughs of his
He said: “That guy used to be the best house painter in the state.”
I asked:
“What happened?”
he answered:
“He became a drunk.”
as if that said it all

which it did

I think about that day
a surreal scene
which I replay in my mind
the thing I remember most is the laugh
a Zen koan chuckled rather than a spoken Jesus parable

Grandfather’s laugh was
an acknowledgment, a resignation,
with a dash of rancor directed toward something inside himself as well
with which he wrestled
but would not name out loud

The Little White House

there was anger there
in that little white house
and the scent of the household
was unfamiliar to me then
such that it took
many years to realize
who was responsible
what went wrong
when it started
how the clammy hand
of helplessness
held everyone down
such that some resigned
others raged
or went AWOL
and then you fought free
like a wild animal
that chews their own leg off
mad to escape the trap
there was anger there
in that little white house
but the odor was of fear

Things I Carry Into the World & One More Poem

I wanted to share a link with you and decided to tack on another poem.  The poem is about global warming and was written on 12 Auguest 2012 during a pretty hot summer.

First the video. I used this video today in class.  It shows how the angst, wonder, and energy of youth can turn into something pure and good.  It is, well, hopeful. I really like it, and I hope you enjoy it too: Link to video Things I Carry Into the World on Vimeo.dsc_0164

You might have noticed that one of the young men in the video is reading Langston Hughes.  I love Langston Hughes and finished his anthology about a year or so ago for the first time. Langston Hughes was originally from Joplin, Missouri.  I live in Missouri. I don’t know if his home is still standing. I am still trying to confirm or deny that.   At any rate, his anthology was something I sipped on and cherished like a fine apéritif one saves for special occasions.  A little bit here, and a little bit there.  You sip and savor good poetry. I think I will start reading it again.

Maybe I should do a series on Missouri poets?

The photo is of Kara, our beloved dog that died about three years ago, and Ricardo, our  irascible, yet affectionate, rabbit who survives.  We just cleaned out his cage.

Here is the poem.


so now we have become
powerful enough
to cook the earth
like a stew we who
are dangerous
adolescents finally
having our fingers burned from
playing with fire after
having indulged in every
decadent whim no matter
the consequence as we
turned up the heat
on the very pot in which
we most now boil up
our inconvenient
truth having damned the natural order
of things the ice at the polar party has
been melted away with
the hot air of rhetoric and
the burning steam is
a smoke signal to start
the new migration of
the rich to the
newly temperate zones where
they will homestead and
history will repeat
with one more land
grab trade with the natives offered
up cheap trinkets for
foul deeds as
the cavalry
overwatches with their
drones overhead to
push the dispossessed back to
their reservation of
the man made hell
consuming for themselves the
dried fruits of our labor


Two Poems: Sleep & After the Flood


What is reality?  In some ways sleep is just another form of reality, and consciousness and unconsciousness commingle.  It gets slippery and we loose our way. Trumpism is an example of what can indeed happen here. How surreal is it to see a Donald Trump sitting in the Oval Office?

When reality shifts, after the flood, there is a rebuilding.   I am from the Show Me State, and we are as stubborn as mules. There will be another day, and in the meantime it is at least, well… interesting.

Here are the poems, and later next week some poems of protest as well as defiance:


sometimes when I am awake
I sleep
sometimes when I sleep
I am awake

seems as if
I cannot
make up my mind

or perhaps

I have made this bed
and the decision
to lay in it

I am awake
sometimes when I sleep
I sleep
sometimes when I am awake

or perhaps
it is the other way

After the Flood

during the deluge
all you could do was
close the hatches
weather it out
wait for the sun
which would finally come

then one day
after the flood
the dove
did not come back
the waters withdrew
and the finger of G-d
wrote against the sky
using a prism of light
a sign for us
to start over
to begin anew

that happens now
comes from then
so we are all
after the flood
children of survivors

The Last Poem

Among other things I will be previewing poems from my new chapbook  After the Flood. As the good book says “So the last shall be first, and the first last….”  So it is here.

The Last Poem

who will write
the last poem?

will anyone read it?

perhaps it will just remain
abandoned as
an unread artifact
that will never be
or, for that matter, rejected
by editors – a defacto still birth

for this last poem we should hope
it has the élan
to be composed
in pica or elite
with mechanical keys
rhythmically striking
a staccato tatoo
a bell sounding
at the end of the line

or better yet
written with a freshly sharpened
yellow wooden pencil
with that schoolroom smell
scribbled on real paper peppered with shavings