Monthly Archives: September 2016

Sonnet #90

You want to colonize the stars? Me, too, but
First let’s figure out how not to ruin the stars
How to find a thing that’s beautiful, and shut
the door, fly on, leave beauty to beauty, we are
Really bad at beauty. We push our domiciles
against the edge of waterfalls, shore front
mountain top, Shenandoah Valley style
houses, all excavating beauty, shunt
the view a little around a gated wall
We will see the rings of Jupiter become
A private palisade, Europa’s hidden waterfalls
Will be fenced off, rerouted, for a wealthy someone
The beauty of this universe is tumbling free
We ought to build our homes somewhere clean, ugly

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Sonnet #89

Remember this: They will all die, the men

who tell you what to think and how to live
They’re rarely young, these men, they will spend
Only a few more summers in the fields, overthrived
They will collapse in the weight of so much certainty
And where they fall, the flowers will grow tall
A quiet man will mow the grass, there will be hurting
But, what will remain of these proud men is all
about them that was good, not the preening
Not the proud and angry stubborn way that ought
they say to be what you need to do is bleeding
out into the wind, an empty set of words bought
At such great price, consideration of their peers
Rudder tongues against waves, vainly steered

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Self-Selection 2016

The snout-nosed butterflies are swarming across the county. Their caterpillars eat the leaves of the hackberry tree. Once they’ve exhausted an area’s food supply, they take flight en masse like avatars of autumn, brown and orange wings and twig like bodies fluttering. These falling leaves have a form, a shape, a life energy. They flow.

It’s hard to think of the importance of politics against the backdrop of the natural world, how small it all is. When we are all dust, there will still be butterflies as indifferent to our histories as leaves on the wind. So, I am loathe to waste my energy describing political moments and individuals currently engorging themselves upon the main stage of human society until such a time as the cocoon breaks and the final form reveals itself.

So, let’s talk about the form of this particular insect. He is orange and vile and has a long history of disgusting, destructive behavior. If the godless can have a soul, it would be found in the spirit of movement and direction, the weight of all those little actions and decisions and influences, that accumulate into the shadow of a man – the energy and influence that continues to move when the body is displaced upon the landscape. Our actions and gestures make shadows that we cannot see, footprints or echoes or something in between them. So, even an atheist, avowed, can speak of having soul. I have no reason to believe Trump is intellectually capable of grappling even with his nihilistic brand of atheism. It’s all flowing over his head. And, he is fundamentally wired to misunderstand and abuse his place in time and space.

The pundit class has yet to home in on the most damning thing Trump has said, during the recent debate. It was an off-the-cuff, unprepared remark that carried the secret truth as only those sorts of remarks can. It was also a backpedaling defense, so the snake was recoiling into the lair of fundamental morals that he assumes we all share. To him, it is the obvious thing and anyone would understand it. This is who he is, and where he comes from.

Clinton challenged the notion that business skills translate directly to government service. Trump responded while backing away and defending himself and these off-the-cuff, unprepared words tumbled out of his facehole wrapped in nonsense and confusion:

My obligation right now is to do well for myself, my family, my employees, for my companies.”

Make a list right now of all of the people to whom you are obligated. My list includes my family, my employees, my companies, absolutely. It also includes myself. Consider again the order of the tongue. The first obligation he bears is to himself. His family is next, after himself. If he threw a child under a proverbial bus to gain an advantage for himself, do you think he would do it? Would he negotiate it? How big of a bus? How long would they have to live it down? He certainly throws employees over heartlessly, and the companies that rely on him have all paid the price in shorted contracts and lawsuits and breech of trust.

And, there is no sense of the cosmic in that order. There is only the human, the reflections of the self, the things that work for the self or carry the name of the self. There is nothing in that list that is not part of the aggrandizing of the man at the center of his everything.

My obligation, in all I do, is first to my sense of piety and universal order Рcall it Christianity or Agnosto-Taoistic-Druidism or some strange hybrid of all faiths wrapped in a wreath of rosemary flowers. First, I am obligated to the shadow I cast upon history, how my life touches all lives. Second, I am obligated to my family.  I am obligated to my community, which includes animals and insects and people and trees. I am obligated to everything by myself. The self is an illusion of vanity. At least, the terms that the orange shadow uses is only an illusion. There is more to life, more mystery and depth and grace, than has ever been even remotely attempted by this particular orange scam machine.

To whom are you obligated first?

The shadow of the butterflies falls at night, when their wings aren’t warm enough to fly and they cannot see. The lightning bugs of late summer come, calling out for love in the dark. There is a world beyond our petty philosophies as indifferent to us as if we do not exist at the center of any story at all in this universe. This is not to say that we must create ourselves a universal center inside our vanity, but to suggest that anyone who does so is fundamentally broken at a deep, spiritual level, and they will never heal, and when they die, the orange stain upon the ground will be consumed by what is real until it was never there. The base of voters that support this beast? They will die, too. They will all die. So will we. In a thousand years, no one will remember our names. The spirit of justice, though, will move through time, and through those brave souls that pushed it along. Justice swarms like butterflies, devouring one forest, then fluttering on to the next profusion. I prefer to think of myself as one of those living leaves upon the wind, pushing into the sky towards the tiniest places where my little pen, little voice, little work will be part of the thing that builds the whole forest ecosystem, in all its green mass and beauty.

 

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Sonnet #88

Never get involved in what other people do
This is the lesson of today: See them chasing
See them running or racing, let them go
Walk past the beggar, walk past the debasing
Walk past everything that’s wrong and curse
the self quietly; better guilt than physical
pain, better to feel awful inside, to feel worse
Than anyone ever felt about how you called
away from what you saw. You could get killed
You could get bit, beaten, broken, destroyed
Lockjaw, rabies, lawsuits, Get arrested, distilled
into a coma self, all the dangers in every shadow
Helping is dangerous. Doing is dangerous. Didn’t you know?

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Sonnet #87

Dog’s don’t need to be told to fear the stranger
It’s bred into their bones from centuries of work
Leaning at the edge of light, sniffing out for danger
Once upon a time, communities were small and dark
Everyone would know everybody, the dogs would know
When the new came in from roads, the growl
at throats, the bark and warning snaps, the show
How if worse came, the bite the snarl the howl
Geese were like this, too. They guarded Rome
They honked and bit the raiders off the walls
Our cities are so big, now. It’s easier to be alone
the bigger the city is. There is no anonymity
in little towns, where all the dogs know who’s who
To be alone is to fear the stranger, to think the city
after dark is full of spiders, young lions running through
It’s easy to be afraid in big cities, to howl and bite
Once here, animal fear is hard to stop, make right.

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Sonnet #86

I turn around for a minute, and it’s all so messy
What happened here? Discarded clothes and dishes
Paper in heaps and disorganized heaps. Three wishes
First, that all the insects in the wall would by fussy
About their living spaces, try to help out with the cleaning
Second, that the house, itself was a living thing that
could regenerate like flesh, a breathing insulate
And blood inside the walls, a heartbeat pulsing
to comfort me when i sleep like a womb; Third,
when the rain comes, it pours through the house
It passes through layers of soap, washes like words
passing through the air, a steamy mist that delouses
drowns the mouses, cleans the dishes, eases hard-
ness of maintaining, lounge in the steam, with your spouse

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Sonnet #84

Carpentry, and construction, in general,
I find, to be a quest for tools put down
I’m sure I had them in my hand, they’re around
Perhaps I will buy a second, unintentional
Or a third, and find the other two tools
In the bottom of the box. And buying new:
I’m sure there’s a certain thing I need to build it true
But when I stop and look around, I feel a fool
For once again I have misplaced the thing
I just had it in my hand, and now there’s dust
all over the place, maybe get more lighting
Maybe it’s fallen down among the trash and rust
I probably need a different tool, if I’m understanding
If I could find that video again? It’s all lost

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Sonnet #85

The thing no one says about growing up
Your back will hurt for sixty years, your feet
will be sore, you’ll feel it when you wake up
The things demanded from the body, the concrete
Under the boots for eight long hours on the job
The way even typing long enough to live on it
Means the back and wrists will falter and dislodge
And, the less you’re paid, the more it hurts to do it
The more you wonder is the feeling in the morning
worth it? We’re not allowed to be lazy, to call in
We’re not allowed to heal our agonies, stand and wring
the muscles loose and get back to it, Work through pain
Anyone who says there’s something wrong about this
Deserves to hurt, get called names: Hippie. Communist.

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Sonnet #83

The furniture our fathers made to last
Has mostly been relegated to back rooms
If we even keep them, maybe passed
Along from one back closet to a dorm
The furniture we show is made overseas
It is designed by a man or woman who will not
have any joining work, they’ll oversee
From video screens and computers, shot
in just the way it takes to know no names
I bought a bookshelf kit from a store
So large no one bothered to offer any help
It cost less than meals I’ve eaten while dull, bored
The furniture our fathers made does not fit
Plus, we’re tired of looking at it, repairing it.

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Sonnet #82

This is how a story kills a man:

Inside a story, size and strength can kill
The nervous fighter with giant hands
Arrogant, proud, where the armies lie still
Remember the story? The stone and sling?
Goliath, the giant, of a wild race of men
The shepherd boy who would be king?
It plays in the mind, like a song, often
When we look up to percieve Goliath again
A big man, trembling,  uncapable of violence
We do not know him. We only fear him
Because the stories have drawn out the fences
Of who he must be: A giant from another world.
We don’t know him, his dreams, his beloved girl.

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