AND TO YOU WE LEAVE . . .

Of course we did not heed
the warnings, what did they know,
and anyway we were sure we had won.

History is a poor teacher, that
much we have demonstrated again
and yet again, lessons never learned.

It is how we got here, how we
have no clear path to leave here,
things assumed lying in ruin around us.

We are tired now, old and no longer
able to fight as we once did, so we
must become the teachers, sharing

what we know, what battle plans
we used, reaching for those who
assumed it would all be provided,

that they needed to do nothing,
to sit by, to not participate, and now
to complain about the disaster.

We did not want this for them,
they, although we didn’t know it then,
were the reason we fought, and now

they must carry the battle or lose the war.

ROSO FACES THE WALL

When you approach
the teacher what is it
that you expect from her?
If you ask her
to show you the way
she will sit
and face the wall
in silence.
What will you learn
from this?
If you are
facing the wall
in silence
you shout
your answer.

A reflection on Case 23 of the Book of Equanimity ( 従容錄, Shōyōroku)

WITH KNOWING

With knowledge comes something
but I cannot remember what
my mother told me it was, or
perhaps it was a teacher
who said it, but I can’t hope
to tell which one it was, I
cannot remember some
of their names or in what grade
it might have been said.
I don’t think it was in college
or graduate school since by then
it was assumed we knew
what came with knowledge.

So I am left to look around me,
and see what the knowledgeable
have wrought and consider that
perhaps with knowledge comes
chaos for we have quite enough
of that, or a lack of compassion,
we’re big on that one, so maybe
with knowledge come a hidden
key to making this all right, but
I cannot for the life of me find it.

THEATER OF THE ABSURD

If Aristophanes were suddenly
to arrive here, he would no doubt
pause, but with the eye he had,
would soon discover such a treasure
trove of material, he could produce
comedies to last several lifetimes.

The problem would be in finding
the right audience, for here we have
little taste and patience for the sort
of comedy at which he was so adept,
and wit in language has long been
forgotten in our blunt, in your face
world of entertainment, and his
natural audience in ancient Greece
would never imagine a world
so badly screwed up that even
Kubrick would be hard pressed
to bring Dr. Strangelove into the present.

SETI

Perhaps we spend too much
time wondering if there are
aliens of the ET sort among us.

Let’s face it, if they are
advanced enough to get here,
they ought to be able to fit in
without standing out, so
sorry Hollywood, it may make
for an exciting movie but
it just isn’t all that likely.

And before you remind me
of UFO sightings, just because
you see a bus stop in the dark
of night, you can’t be certain
anyone got off or on, can you?

PAUSING

As the rivers dry up
and lakes become ponds
we are finding things we
never thought we would see.
An old warship in Europe,
dinosaur footprints, cars
and, sadly, the bones of some.
We stop momentarily to marvel
at these discoveries, then
withdraw to our homes where we
hope we can escape the heat,
our air conditioners working overtime,
the power plants strained.
Yet we never stop to think
that the day may be too soon
coming when it will be
our bones littering the landscape,
victims of our own abuse
of the planet we thought that
we held dominion over.

First published in OUR CHANGING EARTH: Vol.1. The Poet. 2023.

OF A WOMAN

I wasn’t born a woman,
I cannot bear a child,
I cannot carry a fetus nine months
I cannot feel the morning sickness,
I cannot nurse a child once born,
I cannot cease to be who I am
because I had a child,
I cannot be raped and made pregnant,
I cannot be subject incest
making me pregnant,
I cannot go through the pains of labor,
I cannot have an emergency c-section,
But as a man
I can sit in judgment on women
I can try and control their bodies,
I can try and eliminate their choices,
I can do all of those things
but I refuse for I was born
of a woman, and I honor
her right to choose what is best
for her as I reserve the right
to choose what is best for me.

WHEN

When the expected finally happens
you may feign surprise, or even
mild anger or some disquiet,
but all will know it is only an act.

When the expected doesn’t happen
you may be truly surprised,
of even angry and frustrated,
and all will understand at some level.

When the unexpected happens
the full range of emotions is then
laid open before you and you
may choose as the mood hits you.

But when the unexpected does
not happen, any response you
make will be seen as absurd, so it
is best to just ignore it totally.

GANTO’S BOW AND SHOUT

Walking in an open field
when you come to a gate
which is inside, which outside?
If you straddle the gate
there is no inside,
there is no outside,
there is only a gate
with you balanced upon it.
Ask yourself
on which side
will you fall?

A reflection on Case 22 of the Book of Equanimity ( 従容錄, Shōyōroku)

BRAD AND I

Its painful to now say it
but perhaps Uncle Sam
got it partially right when
he shaved our heads and
had us march around
Lackland Air Force Base
as the war raged on in Vietnam,
but when you talk about Uncle Sam,
the bar is set rather low.

We did all look ridiculous,
from the large guy who once
was the town bully for certain
to the once chubby guy
sadly grateful he wasn’t
in the Army, (and I’ll let you
guess which I might have been)
and if we doubted for a moment
our sameness the Sarge was
more than willing to remind us.

And since I will one day
be cremated, I take solace
in the fact that my ashes
will be indistinguishable
from those of Brad Pitt.