Mother

(First published April, 2018)

As still to hear, the speaking of a poem
Like ravens in the desert, sadly singing
The pages of a twice-forgotten novel
Within a theatre, the same pics running
And only for confusion is there worry
In wobbling and jerking and in shaking.

Feelings I’ve been having I’m not shaking:
Just what is life, reduced within a poem?
And what is gained from sorrow but more worry?
A memory: a still-young girl is singing
Throughout a grocery store, her errands running,
And her small son, to whom it all is novel.

But now, an aging shelf, a fav’rite novel,
And from the cover, some light dust I’m shaking;
I see her, happy. No more races running,
And mouthing words from William Blake. A poem
About such innocence as once was singing
When she just a child, but clothed in worry.

A tax form on the table she will worry,
Instructions long as any tome or novel;
The nurses stop, their voices fairly singing
To check upon her mood, her gait, her shaking;
Their interchange is sweet – a gentle poem.
In just a minute, two more errands running.

The tracks are there: the trains no longer running.
No passengers to hurry or to worry —
Upon the walls, a short graffiti poem
Whose message might be turned into a novel:
That why should we at fate our fists keep shaking
When we were made for laughing, dancing, singing?

I play for her, I hear her old voice singing:
The tunes of long ago are still there, running,
As she, in time to music’s gently shaking.
A moment clear as glass, and free from worry,
As melody comes new: forever novel,
And lyrical as any child’s poem.

My memories: her shaking,
      but then singing —

A poem, said —
      a dark young woman running —

A bird released from worry —
      one great
            novel

Wednesday Truth

Here’s a sort of Wednesday truth
That love is not a carry-on
To shove under the seat when we
Are slightly inconvenienced

Here’s a sort of denouement
To what is sensed when we’re alone
That much we do’s just fiddling
With labeling and sequence

For sadness comes like rain on glass
We see it and we feel its bite
Just one more thing past our control
Beyond our comprehension

The calendar’s a type of vise
That squeezes on and presses us
When what we want is living space
And not an intervention

So here’s a pot of Wednesday truth
To stir until its serving time
That life’s indifferent to our woes
And memory’s a liar

Who picks his spots to tell the truth
But has us give the day away
When we could use it for ourselves
And be a presence-buyer…

I stand upon the lonely stair
And hear you breathing breathing still
Although you’re gone you’re gone away
You never left my heart or will

You never left my world at all
Just this external prison here
And though time has her rituals
I see past those and feel you near

For you’re inside my very cells
A generation generates
Heredity environment
Is us our lives our loves our fates

And like a hint of Wednesday truth
We taste it slow and savor strong
The knowledge of our weakness in
A current broad and fast and long

A river flowing there outside
The window through which falling rain
Comes pouring in the open mind
To mix with fear and hope and pain

But this is you and this is me
A vibrancy a harmony
At once an aged newborn youth
Who Wednesday dines on whim

And truth

Conceptual Monologue

We search to find concepts
To explain things,
Then confuse the concept
With the thing,
Forgetting that concepts are just
Explanatory devices.

For instance,
There is no such thing
As what “all women think”,
Or “how all men act”
In a given situation.

Concepts, even scientific models,
Make things simpler than
They really are;
Substituting Athenian elegance
For the statistical uncertainties
Of real life.

Even the mathematics of uncertainty
Has been invaded by the
Proselytizers of certainty;
Saying, “If you have enough of this,
And enough of that,
And enough of the other thing,
You have certainty.”

Only,
We never have enough
Of this, that, or the other thing.
No matter,
We go on to make
Confident predictions,
Dressing up our medicine-man show
In the trappings of mathematics,
In much the same way
Of other con-men through the ages.

Concepts *are* things,
But they are neither identical to nor greater than
The things they purport to explain.

We seem to be psychologically conditioned
For the use of heuristics;
“Rules-of-thumb” that only need to be true
Most days to be useful.
Things like:
“If it rains on weekends after the equinox,
It will rain on weekends up until the solstice.”

If it then rains 9 of 13 weekends,
We feel justified in saying what we said:
Even if the results are no different
Than what might be generated by
An entirely random process.

Why do two people’s bodies,
Subject to similar lifestyles and stresses,
Break down at different speeds?
We look for general answers
Where only specific answers will do.

Because we think
Once we “know” a thing,
We can control it.
And the hard work of understanding
Things, places, and people,
In all their individual complexity,
Is one we often eschew for
The quick route of simplicities.

But it is only in
Individuality that anything
Of importance exists:
When you are talking about
Your children, you call them
By name.
You don’t just classify them as
“Kids”, “Millennials”, or “Gen-C”,
They are who they are,
As people.

There is no empathy in concepts,
Only dismissive generality,
And the idea that others (not us)
Obey scientific laws.

Schisms of A Higher Order

Send the palace aids for packing,
Palisades to fend the night;
Where we’ve been there’s nothing lacking,
Nothing lacking but the fight —
Fighting on the hills and beaches,
Down along forgotten glades,
Schisms of a higher order,
Battles on the palisades.

Here’s a girl who’s lost a soldier,
Here’s a boy who’s lost a dad;
Nothing left in gun or holster,
Skies are dark and times are bad —
Comes the sparrow of the season,
Comes the singing of the song:
Time has rhyme, but little reason,
And it never lasts that long.

We believed, and so we sanctioned
Our haphazard ways and means,
But then dieted on plankton,
Whales of turquoise and baleen —
Floundering out in the desert
Not a place for whales to be:
Whales or narwhals all aplenty,
Mired in passivity.

Turned into a sort of painter,
Seeing through the living eye;
Falsehoods that could not be plainer,
Plans that always go awry —
Sketches made and colors tangled,
Love, a tragedy in clay:
Capering among the ruins,
Searching for a hideaway.

Hominids of some distinction,
Tools made out of earth and stone,
Shuffle slowly towards extinction,
Live apart and die alone —
We approach their secret border
Softly as an April dawn:
Schisms of a higher order
Only shown when we are gone.

Voices of eternal caring
Sing in ease their gentle tunes;
We have long been sorrows bearing,
Carved by hand in ancient runes —
Melodies and sacrifices,
Hearts and heads and hands that fail:
Then the ship lets up its anchor,
Early winds fill up its sail.

So much honor, and confusion,
So much pleasure and despair;
What we ask for is illusion,
Neither here nor truly, there —
Situations flat and fallow,
Earth untilled and soil worn;
Even aging heads seem callow,
And the oldest barely born.

Send the palace chieftains packing.
Few the uses for their kind:
All our riches leave us lacking,
All our seeing leaves us blind —
We were young once, and commanding.
Steering life by spur and bit –
Schism: us and understanding,
One last higher order

Split

guava

just juice, please, and thank you, no.
back in nineteen-forty two…
would you like the omelet ma’am?
what a handful robin was.
need to get these lenses fixed!
we were always very tired…
get me a remote control.
how your father loved to fly —
home depot should do the trick.
have you seen our library?
go the back way turn right here.
wow, they’re very thorough here…
stamp collecting was my thing.
would you like more coffee sir?
what’s the score? it’s three to one!
i’ve been up since almost three —
cherry rhubarb, that sounds good.
a “dutch braid” is what it’s called.
travel agent here’s my friend…
there were three who cleaned me up!
carrol o’connor: he was good.
could you cook this bacon up?
all your forms are in this file.
do you watch baseball that much?
i’m worn out, i’m turning in.
hello there! is this your son?
i guess guava would be fine.
have you ever seen this show?
give my love to all back home.
here’s what you were looking for.
any errands more to run?
yes, tomorrow the same time…

… so many mountains

so many mountains to be climbed,
so many steps along the way;
in laboring and struggling
is much that fills the average day

behold: the mind of innocence
that turns and warps when laden down;
among the cactuses and thorns,
another hill, another mound —

there is no simple reckoning;
there is what is. but the ideal
is like a blanket overhead
that blocks whatever light is real.

to live and seek for victory,
or to accept defeat:
these are the two alternatives,
perhaps. there’s no escheat

whereby some other life may come
to one who’s never lived it:
the only talents can be had
are those at birth-time gifted.

in climbing, and in balancing,
in moving hill to hill,
is evermore activity,
for mind and heart and will —

but let no truth go unremarked:
there’s poison near at hand,
and far away from every thought
is that most lethal land

where labor turns to prurience,
and lethargy to pain,
and though we may go forward, one
cannot go back again.

the journey always kills us:
always has, and always must —
for we are but a shadowplay
that flickers in the dust —

that flickers over mountainsides,
in rivulets of sweat,
in moments brief and harrowing
that are not over, yet.

but still, whatever good there is
we must seek out, at last;
so many mountains rise, indeed,
and progress isn’t fast —

but look upon the lonely sights,
and know this truth, condensed:
that our own limitations are
what we must work

against

Journal 2018-04-03

5:17am EDST

I kissed you goodbye;
You smiled although
You didn’t wake —
That will have to be enough.

7:51am EDST

Nothing is more shared
Than the annoyances of airports,
And few places do people feel
More personally aggrieved.

9:14am EDST

Patience is a virtue — so they say.
Here’s a chance for merit, at this gate,
To prove my worthiness, and calmly wait.
For after all, it still is early day,
And within a few hours, miles away,
I’ll see my mom, from whom many a trait
I gained. And so: anxiety abate!
I needs keep ire and peevishness at bay.

For our misdeeds, our parents may feel blame,
And for our petty rancors, feel remorse;
For we are of one tree, both root and stem.
Heredity – environment – the same:
For each, our parents were the likely source,
And so see what is bad in us as them.

9:44am EDST

And so the takeoff soon awaits,
And I will either think of death,
Or else forget, and read a book,
And barely notice anything.

Our deepest thoughts lie side-by-side
With those mundane and commonplace;
The way we read Aeschylus,
Then play Nintendo Switch.

9:56am EDST

There was a young lady from Schmeager
Who only liked music by Reger,
She said, “People joke,
If I was more like folk,
Then I might hum along with Pete Seeger.”

10:30am EDST

Within a world of colored-water
She was wont to swim,
And artistry was effortless,
Like tumbling in a gym.

In tumbling and in swimming, she
Spent forty days and nights,
Then turned that into gold when she
Just up and sold the rights.

She up and sold the rights to all
Her visions and her prayers,
Then used the money heedlessly
On vodka and repairs.

To fix what all the vodka broke,
She had to get a lawyer;
She wrecked more than a howitzer,
Six tanks, and a destroyer.

Destroyers are not pretty things:
They tend to lead to slaughter,
But that’s what comes from swimming long,
In all that colored
Water

1:28pm EDST

if you see
no worth in your heart,
then who will?

that may seem to be
a knot that
can not be untied,

but know this:
you are worthy of
the best things —

truth, love, joy, peace, and
acceptance,
for who you’ve been,
and are

1:44pm EDST

tiny eyes
need shielding from glare
on bright days

2:00pm EDST

I’m worried what I’ll find;
I’m worried how she’ll be.
Her body’s shutting down,
And so’s her memory.

We live so far away;
Our lives are wholly other —
But still, I hope, and pray
For mercy for
My mother

11:45am MST (2:45pm EDST)

my son just called
he is going back into
either rehab or the hospital

life is always too much
and hardly ever enough

4:03pm MST (7:03 EDST)

Her Parkinson’s is worse, but somehow
She seems better. Ready to get out and go
Is more like I’d always known my mom to be;
Last time, she never wanted to leave
The facility. Soon, I’ll drive back over there
From this hotel, and take her and her guy out to eat…

… which seems pretty sweet.

7:16pm MST (10:16pm EDST)

Much I do not understand
The world is fuller than I know
So much I cannot understand
It’s all too much, and even so,
I do not even understand
The shadows unfamiliar —

And I don’t really understand

This room is creepy dark and

 
Unfamiliar