Time

pocketwatch

Funny thing about time isn’t it?  We enter time  from eternity and then return to the infinite when we are done here.  In time are all born, and we all die.  Also, here in Missouri the Indian people lived before the time when white men came and drove them out.  I knew I was Native American on one side of my family, but was surprised to find out, from a surprisingly detail genealogy, that I was native American on both sides. I am 1/16th to the tribes reckoning, and they think I  had a great grandmother who was “full blood” but they couldn’t prove that at the time. 

These poems are from the time in my life where I was searching the nooks and crannies of my Native American relations. Time for some poetry with a little Indian flair!

My Death Song

as I face death
I ask You 
the Great Mystery
grant me the kindness
of no fear
that the final moments
are not seized by terror
but grace and good will
with someone to hold my hand
that is not paid 
to be there
and that my relations 
come quickly 
to greet me as I
step out into
the next journey 

Going to Water

(based on the practices of Cherokee Medicine Man Rolling Thunder)

my favorite way
to go to water
is when it is raining lightly
just above a drizzle
then the water is more powerful
the medicine quicker
as the current foams white
upon the higher rocks
in the small creeks and streams
that are common here in Missouri
you wade shoeless into the water
and face downstream
then will pray to the Great Mystery
that the water will carry away
the debris 
I like to raise my hands as I begin
but that is optional
just watch the ripples and currents
carry your burdens away 
leeching the salt 
from you wounds
you will feel
the water pulling away
what you don't need

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A Picture & Two Poems

UntitledPoetry, at least in large part, is about the sound.  Years ago I started a poem that consisted of words that just felt good when you said them.  They are also words which are a bit dusty from lack of use.  That is the first poem.

The second poem is about the semi innocence of youth.  Awkward moments learning the dance of love, feeling your way through, and around, relationships.  I am still kinda working on that.

As, is so often the case with this blog, the photo has little to do with the content. Or does it?

 

 


Words That Feel Good to Say That You Do Not Get to Say Often Enough

Thingamajig
Fandango
Scintillating
Imbroglio
Magnanimous
Thingamabob
Gizmo
Gargantuan
Geranium
Whirligig
Lollygagging
(this is a work in progress)

Sixteen

In the yellow incandescent light
of your back porch
we were semi innocent

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?  

Utility

we are tethered to
wires
pipes
lines
and radio waves
all of different lengths
that pulse, dance, and live
a separate life
vestiges of raw resources
energy
and information
transmuted
which is metered out to us
pimped, pumped and transmitted
woven
above
around
below
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
disconnection

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.

file-cabinet

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
shallow
facilitating some contrived contest
requiring feats of strength
or some other meaningless
trivial monkey shine of minor note

Spectical

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

Two Poems: Sleep & After the Flood

riding-the-mule

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:



Sleep

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
around

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

everything
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
behind
abandoned as
an unread artifact
that will never be
recited
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
typewritten
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