Original Poems

Love, Again

 My heart stops
 Still, ev'ry time I see you;
 Autumn comes, but this stays ever green --

 Whispering,
 The breeze that passes by
 Understands all that I am feeling,

 The cycle --
 The places the wind goes,
 And just why it is ever-changing.

 This is love --
 Moments moving and still;
 Everything that is, or could be.
Original Poems

A Sestina on Destiny

 Along the path that leads me to my fate:
An open view upon a barren land,
A sun that neither rises, sets, or cares,
And, through a landscape full of ill regard,
At points and scattered, something not quite seen --
Like anger once, now fossilized and set.

I dare not look, and so my thoughts I set
Upon such things as might avert my fate;
But there is little joy among what's seen
No matter where my eyes may light or land.
Still, maybe, I can shape by my regard
A family to lighten all my cares.

But there's no shoulder, there's no brow that cares,
Or sees laid out the problems I've been set:
So this is mine alone to tend, regard,
An cultivate into accomplished fate --
Within the emptiness of this strange land
Where there's but little variation seen.

I stop my walking; for I think I've seen
A sign, an indication. Full of cares,
I need a quiet place to sit, to land,
And for a spot these heavy fears to set.
Perhaps there is another path or fate:
Some spot I missed, or failed to long regard.

I play through memories, and I regard
Each one. What eyes take in, and what they've seen
May differ. Are there clues laid down by fate
That may be found by anyone who cares
To look more closely? My attention set,
Upon one memory I finally land:

Quite early in the walk, a piece of land
That had some blades of grass. So I regard
The memory: a signpost there was set
Way back, and quite ill-painted, barely seen
But legible: "THE ONE WHO WROTE THIS CARES.
AND DESTINIES ARE MANY. CHANGE YOUR FATE."

And now, within the land, a new way seen:
A brief regard, an easing of all cares,
A new direction set, a different fate.
Personal Essays

Divisions

Years ago, I learned a useful model for negotiating relationship issues, which was to separate problems into three components: (a) the facts of a situation; (b) how you feel as a result of the situation; and (c) the story you make up in your head as to why the situation exists.

It is probably best to give an example. My wife comes to me and says, “You have been going to bed earlier and earlier (fact). It has left me feeling kind of abandoned (how she feels). In my head, I keep thinking ‘Well, I guess whatever he does when he gets up so early is more important than time with me’ (the story she has constructed as to my rationale).”

So, I sit with that for a minute before responding. If we agree on the facts (which we do), I turn next to her feelings, which are inarguable. I certainly don’t like her feeling abandoned, as that is not my intention, so we work from there as to what my reasons are for going to bed at 8:30 at night, and try to figure out a way to get more time together at night.

I say all of that to say this: the most common mistake we make in relationships is confusing facts with emotions, facts with stories-in-our-heads, or emotions with stories-in-our-heads.

In the example I just gave, my wife might have said that “You’ve decided whatever you do when you get up so early is more important than me” is not a story-made-up-in-her-head but a fact. If that was the case, there would be no ground to have any kind of constructive dialogue, because she would have already declared my motives as known to her, which they weren’t.

Our tendency to do this is usually directly related to the strength of the emotions involved, and feeling abandoned in a relationship is a terrible feeling if ever there was one.

We do well always to remember that we do not know why people do things, and that no matter how confidently we assert that we do, our explanations are really just made-up stories.

We often find, when we look at issues in the public sphere, that the same sort of distinctions are useful. We should know the difference in the facts of a situation, what our emotions are, and the degree to which we make up stories as to why people think or act as they do.

We’ve almost all had the jarring experience, in public discussions, of having other people tell us why we think the way we think — and it is never for flattering reasons. Argument in these situations is fruitless, because our interlocutor has adopted some made-up-story about us as fact.

Virtually all political sloganeering takes advantage of the confusion between facts and made-up-stories: these types of constructs are easy to spot when used against us, and harder to spot when we go along with them.

Let’s start, by way of example, with an argument about tax policy, since those arguments have been going on for as long as their has been minted or printed money.

One side usually says something to the effect of “this is all a power grab, and it’s about controlling as much of the economy, and hence your lives, as possible. The people doing it think you are too stupid to make decisions for yourselves, and that they can spend your money more wisely than you can.”

The other side typically says something alongs the lines of “we are trying to insure a more fair and just society, which will not happen through our current system of unfair tax breaks for the rich, which only people who benefit from the current system are in favor of, because it advantages them; their desire is to perpetuate all of their current privileges.”

As a brief digression, the history of sports is where we go next. Organized sports were originally encouraged as a way to channel people’s natural aggressiveness into what were deemed healthier ways.

Human beings have been attacking, enslaving, and even killing each other for almost as long as there have been human beings; this is generally accepted as a fact. The reasons why people do so, however, is and has been a subject of considerable disagreement. At the time organized sports were first taking something like their recognizable modern forms, psychological and biological explanations centered around aggressiveness (particularly among boys and young men) as genetic facts that we could either channel or face the undesirable social consequences of.

Since these explanations were not in any major way at variance with the reigning religious views of the time, sports grew in popularity, among both children and young adults, as a healthy way of channeling aggression among the players. More surprisingly, however, it also provided a way to channel the aggression of the followers who gathered to watch the teams.

Fans of sports teams are interesting to look at, as the psychology of players is extensively catalogued and studied, but the psychology and behavior of fans, less so.

Players typically come to sports from every type of situation and background, and display every bit of the wide diversity of human experience that any endeavor has to offer. Almost as a corollary, the reasons why players play varies immensely, although the elements of enjoying competition, camaraderie, excellence, fame, and power (money) typically make up some part of it.

With fans, the variety is just as great, but the reasons are more obscure. A lot of players of sports think that their fans are simply trying to vicariously feel what players feel, i.e., that fans are essentially cosplayers, dressing up in the team’s colors, referring to the team as “we”, and other signs of enjoyment-by-role-playing.

However, many fans become so out of family or area loyalty; from genuine love of the sport; because of interest in or respect for certain individual players or coaches; or even as a way of relating to their own friends who are fans.

Aggression among sports fans is a subject that was studied, intensively, during and after the peak period of football (soccer) hooliganism. The relationship between sports and violence is not a surprising one, when it exists, if you think about why sports was developed in the first place. Because those reasons have largely been forgotten, even the playing of sports is now often looked at as being a cause of violence rather than a healthy channel for it. There are, of course, legitimate arguments that can be made as to that assertion.

One particular part of sports worth looking at are what in America are called “rivalries”, which are usually between teams that play each other often and, for whatever reasons, have particularly intense reasons to hate losing to the other side.

Very often these teams are located close together, geographically; in the U.K., they are often referred to as “local derbies”. An example of this would be between Celtic and Rangers, both association football teams from Glasgow, Scotland, or between the Alabama and Auburn college football teams, located about 125 miles apart in the same state of the United States. Other times, they are between the best teams or teams with the largest numbers of fans, such as between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL, or between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

One of the main features of rivalries is the degree to which fans of team A learn to hate and despise team B. It is not discouraged (as hatred of most kinds typically is, with children) it is encouraged. Taught. Modeled.

So long as fans keep their dislike of other teams to things like booing them (at live events) or maybe publishing memes making fun of them (the modern pandemic equivalent) it’s all just fun and no one gets hurt; hence it constitutes what has been called “a healthy channel for aggression” earlier in the article.

However, once it involves things outside these proscribed limits, it can become “unhealthy aggression” — throwing things at the other team, calling them offensive names that have nothing-to-do-with-the-sport, posting death threats, defacing other people’s property, etc., etc..

The Internet actually facilitates displays of unhealthy aggression, as, unlike a live event, it is possible to call people names all day and never get caught at it. In fact, I could argue that much behavior on the Internet seems to agree with the 19th century conclusion that people are aggressive by nature and need healthy outlets for it, or they will be more violent and abusive than a society should want to allow.

Much of politics takes on the worst aspects, these days, of sports rivalries. On top of the logical mistake of confusing made-up-stories about people’s motivations for facts, we add to it that people are often taught, from birth, to hate the other side in a reflexive way, or they come upon the view later in life as the only view allowable in order to be initiated into the tribe.

What this does, of course, it make mediation between opposing views next-to-impossible; and, if the other side is evil by definition, why would you even consider it?

People will question anything before they question what they do without thinking, but those are the very things about ourselves we should question.

In our personal lives, the model referenced at the top of this article is, I believe, a useful one for avoiding the worst types of relationship misunderstandings. It does, however, involve a willingness to give up many of our own mental shortcuts, as you may find, if you try to practice it, that the number of stories-you-make-up-in-your-head is far larger than you may have suspected.

As for my wife and me, we worked out a system where she lets me know when she is going to need extra time with me at night, and I try, on days where I am not working the next morning, to plan for more time that we can spend together.

Because I never want her feeling like I’ve abandoned her, not even for a second.

(This essay is a good example of why I write poetry; I have a hard time gathering thoughts on any subject without branching out into every subject. However, if you made it this far, I appreciate your patience with me. – Owen)

Original Poems

languor

 the morning was, and she believed;
 the autumn, shy and reticent
 came timidly to call her name.
 
 the angels fell like leaves in droves
 and she a purple memory lived
 within a house, a home, a dream.

 the languor that comes easily
 can bring us rest, if we but see --
 the morning came, and she believed.
 the sun was 
 a better boyfriend:
 touching her
 the way she liked, and
 at happier times
Original Poems

nano seconds

 we write to show, or to express,
 and we're all different (I guess)
 in how it feels to feel desire
 or when we might see blue in fire. 

 and while I struggle here with rhyme,
 there's others deep in story time;
 or gazing on a lone wind chime
 as it provides its music --

 with precious anniversaries,
 or working through PTSD;
 or even drawing from a well
 of weekend stories we might tell --

 it's been a month for glories, no?
 with perfect evenings, all aglow,
 and for us types who need a fix
 there's even been some good chex mix

 for we, the discombobulated,
 sunsets that we've celebrated;
 breathing in a dawning day,
 or wordlessly pass time away.
 it's hard when you're a pepper
and sometimes you just feel
that we're all on a diet
but you must serve a meal.

for every "new beginning"
comes to us at a cost,
and without mice and wooden spoons,
i know that i'd

be lost
 covid's hit us pretty hard,
 we have to cope in different ways:
 like fixing things as best we can,
 or organizing moving days,

 or bathing in the frosty calm,
 or pausing to do some qi gong,
 or working puzzles about books,
 or paddling through lakes, or brooks

 or watching rom-coms on the way,
 or living through election day:
 we each survive as best we can
 (especially with cats to hand!)
 it's interesting what people do,
 i find it stimulative;
 for using what we have at hand
 enables the creative

 and when the spark is found
 it is a wonder to behold:
 but when the mishaps reappear
 it can get kind of old.
 some write from a lifelong effort to
 address a wrong they see;
 while others find a special space
 in nights with no tv --

 we hope our kids remember
 all the things that we did for them:
 for we make memories, and it
 is better to

 adore them
 so hey, i'm not letting the butter thing go.
 i read and loved this, so you know;
 and Ra, it's not just this month you host:
 it is that i now know the hidden work most.
 so one last look at where we've been:
 at crowded pages, full of vim,
 for golden kisses, warm and right,
 and frozen moonlight walks, last night.

 of prime directives, thoughtfully;
 of melted minds, within the sea
 of things that change our lives, when we
 count backwards from eternity.

 the ashes of dead stars we are.
 and humor can take us as far
 as we can go, when finding faults
 can keep us locked within our vaults
 
 but in the end, it's just for fun:
 i'm sure that i've left out someone
 who wasn't on the master page
 so don't resent me, please, or rage

 if you have read all of this way
 and do not see your blog today.
 i did the best i could, you see
 with all this time insomnia

 gives me

Original Poems

Sonnet Boom

 across the pages, towering and slow,
 the words and phrases, measured and precise;
 the aching, felt first centuries ago,
 contained within a uniform device

 that tells what beats and syllables to use.
 although some variations are allowed,
 some things to add, a few that you can lose,
 pentameter, both lyrical and proud,

 contains within its limits, all the joys
 that human kind can feel, as well as fears
 that join into our hearts' increasing noise,
 this golden mix of love and hope and tears.

   these voices, who could not imagine us,
   that we don't understand, but still, discuss.
 while little we predict may yet come true,
 we confidently state that this or that
 is bound to happen, plain as blue is blue,
 and rarely see we're wearing the tin hat

 that indicates we may be way off base.
 but reinforcement comes: the internet
 is good for that. whatever be your case
 there's someone who agrees, and who'll abet.

 so being wrong's a cottage industry:
 a chance to bark, to posture, and to fight;
 we join into this ill community
 and rather would "be right" than "get it right".

   but all of it's unreal, except the mess
   that comes from words carved out of emptiness

Original Poems

The Model Life (5)

 Come sit beside me, let me see you smile,
 If you have one inside that you could share;
 We've been so busy, it has been awhile
 Since we could be together, and be there
 The ways we need to do, to show we care.
  For there's been much to do for you and me
  In these strange times of such uncertainty.

 So let's put down these tablets for a bit.
 The day is young, the night is still at bay.
 And we can take in every ounce of it
 And, maybe, have some fun along the way:
 It's good to work, but just as good to play.
  Together, as we used to do before:
  And, just like then, to sleep still wanting more. 

Original Poems

The Model Life (4)

 I don't deny I love the way you look
 And though it's said to be but shallow praise
 Just one encounter was all that it took.

 The time has passed, now: all the years, the days,
 And still I love to see you being you,
 With all your many attitudes, and ways.

 For what's most beautiful is what is true:
 Not posing, but existing, as you are,
 And how engrossed you are in what you do.

 We have been through a lot, and we've come far:
 You're still my day's bright sun, and night's best star.