Thursday, December 25, 2008


WHY HONOR JESUS?

Why honor Jesus on this his presumed birthday?

Not, I think, for any magical or mythical reasons like virgin birth, a bright star, walking on water, raising the dead, or rising from death—or for godhood. These are fairy tale embellishments to create awe and reverence in credulous minds.

No, the reason is self-sacrificing love, a principle Jesus taught and lived by.

The reason is mercy and forgiveness, attitudes to quell our natural impulses of anger and hatred and violence.

The reason is tolerance and forbearance, acceptance and congeniality—the profound recognition of our kinship as human beings, our brotherhood and sisterhood—which implies kindness.

The reason is peace rather than conflict, joy rather than despair, and love rather than fear.

Praise that in him and in ourselves. Honor Jesus and you honor that: Peace, Joy and Love.



*

Thursday, December 18, 2008


HOMILY

The opposite of fear some say is Love,
But more precisely I’d say Confidence,
A trust not in some saving power above,
But in one’s inner source of self-defense,
And that’s discovered through experience:
The more you practice at the arts of life—
Truth, care, cooperation and good sense—
The less you’ll find of dissonance and strife.
Tranquility abides where fear was rife.



*

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


THE MYSTERY

Though some are moved by gratitude to pray
For what they see as “blessings” they’ve been given,
Their benefactor God will also slay
The disobedient whose souls aren’t shriven.

And what of all those innocents who die
From famine and disease in misery?
Is that beneficent? Would God deny
Their pleas? How good is such a deity?

No, I won’t pray to thank or to appease
A mystery that some personify,
And yet there’s something that my heart agrees
Transcends the known and answers to our “Why?”

It’s wonder, awe, amazement that I feel
Which makes me think this mystery is real.



*

Monday, December 15, 2008


WHIM’S WAY

Above his door Ralph Waldo posted “Whim”
(Unlikely from a man who looked so dour),
But Transcendentalists are not so grim
As Calvinists, with Heaven’s bliss more sure.




*


LAO-TSU TO YOU


To do or stew?
One way you’ll rue.

With much ado
You must pursue
What’s good and true
And thus eschew
What makes you blue.

I’m telling you
To say adieu
To sorrow’s brew,
So take my cue
And get a clue—

Or else: boohoo.







*

Sunday, December 14, 2008


THE SONNET GAME

No matter how intensely moved you feel
By passions or by curiosity
To pour your heart out in the hope to heal
Your anguish of emotional misery
Or satiate your intellectual quest
By singing in a sonnet's classic song,
Another need will also be expressed,
Much more dispassionate, though just as strong.

For all its history of pathos sung,
The sonnet is a subtle source of fun
As line by line its syllables are strung
With rhymes and measured beats until it’s done.

The poet’s woes yield to a higher aim:
The player’s joy in winning at this game.



*

Friday, December 12, 2008


IN THE WINGS

I am a character in Shakespeare’s mind
Who’s not yet on a page, much less been conned
By any actor who feels how I’m inclined,
Who knows my moves and how I will respond
To others’ words and ways in my own tone,
For like my other kin, I am conceived
To sound like no one else but stand alone,
Replete in the persona I’ve received.

And yet without the context of a play,
I’m like a disembodied soul awaiting
Reincarnation and another way
To strut and fret. The Bard is contemplating
Just such a perfect circumstance for me;
Meanwhile, I fust unused, though eagerly.



*

Saturday, December 6, 2008


DAWNINGS

In early morning’s dark I mull and muse
On Memory’s olds and Intuition’s news,
For only in such quiet and repose
Can my no longer harried brain disclose
Its deeper mind, aligned with higher thought,
And seek out what I never knew I sought.



*

Thursday, December 4, 2008




WAYWARD

Though other creatures ask What, Where and How,
the solely human question posed is Why,
to which the universe will not reply
until we learn the wisdom of the Tao.

It’s only when we enter in the flow
and meet all that assails us gracefully
by bending, turning, yielding can we free
ourselves from bafflement and truly know.

Yet what we learn so arduously is what
those other creatures come by naturally:
no headway comes from heads; it’s from the gut
we get our best instructions how to be.

The Why we ask is answered by the Way,
that universal Law all must obey.



*

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A ROLLINS PLAN PROGRAM PROPOSAL: THE HUMAN FRONTIER

Prologue

What a wondrous time it is to be traveling aboard Spaceship Earth, otherwise known as the Spaceship Human Enterprise! How amazing and exciting to be a member of our enterprising human species just as we are breaking free of so many previous constraints of ignorance and inability keeping us both Earthbound and mindbound, except in our venturesome imaginations.

In only my lifetime have we propelled ourselves off our planet and traveled to our moon, and then shot robot probes to Mars and detective instruments to the far reaches of our galaxy, delving as deep as to the origins of this universe itself.

Then, even on Earth, many of us have become globetrotters, or rather globedashers, while millions more have learned to negotiate the World Wide Web of nano-communications, zipping around networks of information superhighways nearly instantaneously.

Wow! Astounding! And think what’s next: what new potentials of personal and scientific and technological development lie just ahead to be revealed and employed for extending the reach of our achievements all along the human frontier.

Now is the time of adventure, exploration and advancement that our earliest visionary scientists like Francis Bacon could barely dream of. Although our hugely enhanced powers make this the most exciting time to be alive, they also make it the most perilous (aside from periods of natural cataclysms caused by asteroids, volcanoes or pandemics).

The central inquiry of Rollins’ Human Frontier program, which aims generally to explore trends and tendencies of possible human developments, probes specifically into those values most likely to serve us and our biosphere best: Wise Values, let us call them.

Most urgently, we might call them “Survival Values,” since those various and conflicting values now directing the vagrant course of our toxically potent species seem to be leading us toward catastrophe.

Although both a Declaration of Universal Human Rights and a Global Ethic document have been prominently proposed, they have gained little traction in guiding the sentiments and actions of most people.

Therefore, the prime project of students pursuing the Human Frontier general education program is to articulate what best constitutes Wise Survival Values and to determine how best to promulgate them worldwide, overcoming the entrenched opposition of unwise creeds and ideologies.

Our present challenge as a species, whom we’ve named hopefully Homo sapiens, is to grow more sapient and sane—and quickly—so we might wisely use our potent knowledge and our ever-extending capabilities to the benefit of the amazing endeavor we now realize we’re bound upon, as our tenuous human enterprise traverses space and time toward infinity and eternity.


*

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


MOVING ON

Fellow named Ansel called the other day
from Forest Lawn in Buffalo to say
some cemetery plots had just become
available, and since that’s where I‘m from,
I just might like to come back home to rest
near where my parents lie in urn and chest,
and since cremation’s now the common style,
the trip is cheap. I couldn’t help but smile.

He was, as you’d expect, solicitous,
his manner sober and lugubrious,
yet somehow comforting, until I thought
just how do cemetery plots once bought
“become available”? Have they moved on
who once lay there, and where now have they gone?


*

Saturday, November 1, 2008


MIND YOUR MIND

An Academic Homily


What kind of house have you made for your mind to live in? How is it arranged, appointed, and furnished?

You do as much for your bodily needs—why not for your mind’s needs?

If, as they say, your mind is a terrible thing to waste, then is it not lamentable to let it languish in poverty of circumstance, unprovided for in whatever helps it to grow, develop and function optimally?

What, then, does your mind need to be well accommodated in a place where it will thrive?

First, your mind needs to be recognized and valued. Yes, you have a mind. Yes, it can grow stronger, keener, and more capable. And that’s all to the good, because to be mindful rather than mindless helps you survive at the least, and live wisely at the best.

To be strong minded rather than weak minded is an obvious advantage in a world of competition for resources, just as it is to be mentally disciplined instead of absent minded.

What is education intended for most fundamentally but to shape and shape up your mind, to add new rooms to what should become your mental mansion: a room for contemplating, a room for imagining, a room for writing, another for calculating, for designing, for building, for enjoying (such pleasures as music, dance, art, literature), and rooms for congregating with like-minded and other-minded folks.

The point is that you don’t study subjects for their own sakes, but for how those subjects affect you subjectively, how they alter your mentality, reshape your mind. Your educational job is to cultivate your mind. Keep your eye not on your report card or your transcript but on your thought processes and on the well-functioning of your brain.

No brain, no gain.


*

Sunday, October 26, 2008

http://www.natlauzon.com/images/lion-and-the-lamb.jpg

JUSTICE VS. MERCY

The dilemma of justice vs. mercy is a classic instance of the two-truth paradox found so prominently in Shakespeare’s plays and poems. While it is true that the enforcement of just laws maintains orderly rule and decorum in a civil society, it is also true that rigorous strictures and harsh constraints unfeelingly applied ignore our natural human fallibility, which pleads guilty yet begs pardon and forgiveness.

Mercy, then, seeks not to supplant justice but to qualify, leaven, or season stringent enforcement of the law. Such equilibrium, however, is difficult to maintain, for while justice overdone is rigor, so mercy overdone is permissiveness: severity and lenity represent the dark sides of each virtue to be avoided. The human capacity to avoid either extreme would define “wisdom.”

Just such wisdom appears be the quest of both Duke Vincentio in Measure for Measure and Portia in The Merchant of Venice, both of whom prevail in their respective plays by demonstrating the principle of generous clemency; yet neither character avoids criticism, the one for pardoning Vienna’s malefactors too prodigally, and the other for executing an overly ‘severe mercy’ on Shylock.


*

Friday, October 24, 2008


ON ESCHEWING TEENSPEAK IN COLLEGE

In college you are urged to learn a larger language than Teenspeak. There you are introduced to the idiom of the intellect and the discourse of scholarship. While your language in college remains English, the collegiate dialect is a richer, subtler, and more complex contrivance of diction, syntax and rhetoric. Collegiate discourse speaks more from the head than the heart, and hardly at all from the gut; whereas Teenspeak is the reverse: gut, heart, and then, like, I mean, you know, head.

To a teen, the collegiate idiom may at first seem baffling, stodgy, and off-putting; yet it needs to be acquired to succeed, as much as learning French would be needed to earn a degree from the Sorbonne. Since to write Collegiate is easier than to speak it, writing should come first as the more deliberate, cautious and correctible way to proceed. Then, after you’ve grown more accustomed to the grander vocabulary and more complex linguistic configurations, you’ll find those locutions slipping into your speech, at least in the classroom, if not in the cafeteria or down by the pool.


*

Wednesday, October 15, 2008



UNFREE VERSE


Why is it that the music’s gone from verse,
As if that gives it some new liberty?
I think it, rather, a dismaying curse
Dispelling magic from our poetry.

In former days a verse was to be sung,
Not vocalized in boring monotone,
But tripped off lightly from a trilling tongue
And then reverberated to the bone.

Yet more than mere sonority is lost
When poems leave their meters and their rhymes:
Intention and invention pay the cost
If sound with sudden sense no longer chimes.

Such freedom is instead imprisonment,
While liberating form is heaven sent.



*

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


NONTEMPLATION

Sipping my tea, I sit and contemplate,
Alone with time, then slipping out of time
Beyond contemporality to a state
Where reason’s schemes capitulate to rhyme.



*

Sunday, September 14, 2008


AT EASE WITH BILLY COLLINS

Billy Collins, in person or in poem, makes you feel welcome and comfortable.

His persona is amiable and easy going, with a quick smile and often a twinkle in his eye. You sense that soon you’ll be chuckling at something witty he’s said or made you say. His demeanor is unassuming, that of a regular fellow content to be quiet while others talk and he politely listens. His charisma is low voltage, but charisma nonetheless, not scintillating but charming.

If Billy Collins were a salesman, you’d buy, feeling that he’s simply helped you make the right choice and become a grateful customer.

In fact, he is a salesman, selling you on his poetry, and each poem is a clever bid for your attention first, and ultimately for your affection. You wonder just why you find his little poems so beguiling. What has he done, you wonder, that’s like the Whitman’s chocolate sampler which keeps you nibbling one and then another?

It was matters like this that Billy Collins chatted about on September 11th to a doting audience of 200 in Rollins’ Bush Auditorium.

The two-term U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2003), now an inaugural fellow in Rollins’ new Winter Park Institute, spoke about how a good poet aims to capture “the love of strangers,” how the poet’s well-crafted persona wins over readers, enticing them genially into the little room of each poem.

Good poets are not self-absorbed. They court our caring.

Collins likens his poems to the optometrist’s eye chart, with the big E at the top that most everyone can read. By the end of the poem, though, he hopes to have made us squint, by subtly leading us to sharpen our attention and see something more challenging or see from a different perspective.

First he wins you, then he spins you to a place where “language is better than reality.”


* * *

MY INTRODUCTION TO BILLY COLLINS' READING AT ROLLINS COLLEGE,
11 SEPTEMBER 2008


Tonight, we are about to hear a talk by the immensely popular poet, Billy Collins, in which he’ll address the topic of

“The Love of Strangers and the Other Aims of Poetry.”

Most living poets aren’t “popular,” and many would disdain the thought of being popular—much less of aspiring to be so.

Probably the last American poet who could claim wide popularity—and who unabashedly sought it—was New England’s Robert Frost (with Chicago’s Carl Sandburg right behind him).

Beat Poets of the ’50’s and ’60’s, like Allan Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti (both of whom have read at Rollins) enjoyed their ardent, though sub-culturally confined groupies.

But not until Billy Collins rose to become the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2001, and was then offered a second term the following year, has there been an American poet so much loved by both the Poetry Establishment and by the general populace.

One testament to that ardor is Billy Collins’ entertaining visits to the populist precincts of Garrison Keillor’s weekly NPR variety show, The Prairie Home Companion.

Another is that Collins has subsequently risen to the position of the Poet Laureate of New York State, with the high hopes, I’ve heard him say, of becoming, in the fullness of time, the Poet Laureate of his ZIP code.

How grounded can you get?

Just how does a poet grow so popular and become so beloved of readers and auditors?

And is the love of strangers something of what he’s aiming at when he makes his poems?

That, I believe, is only some of what we’ll find out tonight.

So, too that end, I am delighted , on behalf of Rollins College and of our new Winter Park Institute, to give you—Billy Collins.


*

IN RESPONSE TO THE GLOBAL PEACE INITIATIVE’S QUERY:
“WHAT IS PEACE?”


What is peace? “The opposite of war,” I think reflexively, recalling Tolstoy’s title.

While sitting here to muse upon this suggested topic, I occupy myself with exterminating squadron after squadron of tiny black gnats who’ve been drawn to the 25-watt bulb over my lap pad. (I write in the wee hours.)

In ten minutes I’ve smooshed scores of them as they’ve landed to scurry around on my pad, my arm and the chair arm beside me. I seem to have repelled the main invasion, though stragglers still descend as I write, only to be rubbed out and brushed away. At last (my private holocaust concluded) peace returns, and I can continue thinking. Where was I?

Oh, yes—oh, wait—there’s another bugger to squash. OK, done. Now about peace. First of all, I think of myself as a naturally pacific fellow, not prone to take offense, mild mannered and cheerful, open to all sorts of people, accepting, trusting, and amiable.

I think of Gandhi’s much-quoted admonition: “There is no way to peace; peace is the way,” which I take to mean that peacefulness, a peaceable heart and unperturbed temperament within each of us is the prerequisite for our living in a peaceable society, a peaceable world.

What, then, is that inner peace Gandhi advocates? How do we achieve it and sustain it? And what challenges such calmness, serenity and tranquility?

What doesn’t? Gnats, for instance, or anything else annoying, distressing, irritating, antagonizing, or simply disturbing to our peace. Irritants are everywhere, and they urge us to react to rid them from our consciousness.

What is peace? Something rare. Something fragile. Something tenuous and easily extinguished, like the life of a bug.

How then (if it ever is possible) can I or anyone attain and sustain peace by becoming impervious to irritation and to defensive reactivity? How can one become like the yogi who lies on a bed of nails or walks across glowing coals—intrepid and tranquil? How do we absorb “the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to” (in Hamlet’s lofty phrase) without irritation and retaliation?

I doubt we can. Jesus and Gandhi, maybe, but not me and probably not you. Though you may prove me wrong. Then I’ll be eager to learn how you’ve gained the temperance to respond to potential stressors with only loving patience and kindly wisdom that means harm to none and finds ways to resolve all conflicts and antagonisms innocently.

Only then might we experience what amounts to the Miracle of Peace.

* * *

PEACE IS THE WAY

“There is no way to peace; peace is the way,”
Wise Gandhi said, by which I think he meant
We have to be that which we seek, and play
The role we would become with clear intent.

For as I think and act so shall I be,
And so the world around me shall become:
If violently, then war shall vanquish me;
If lovingly, then peace shall still the drum.

It’s in our hands and hearts and minds to choose
The manner we live by, day after day:
Shall it be marching boots or dancing shoes,
Aggression or compassion? Pick the way,

Not where to go, but who and how to be:
To live in anger—or serenity.

***

AS GANDHI SAID

Humanity’s resort to violence
To settle ego’s conflicts makes no sense,
For everything we claim to be humane
Bids us to be compassionate and sane:

To love our neighbors as we love ourselves
And stash our grievances on basement shelves
Once we’ve resolved our conflicts peacefully
With justice, honor, truth and equity.

That’s our ideal, proclaimed by saints and sages
In wisdom texts and scriptures through the ages,
And yet in all this time we’ve still not learned
The arts of peace for which we’ve deeply yearned.

Only a peaceful Spirit saves the day:
“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”


*

Sunday, September 7, 2008


NOCTURNE

I, too, am one acquainted with the night,
For now it is, in peace, I rise to write.
My body’s calm and rested from its sleep,
My mind is capable of diving deep
Near where it was submerged in downy dreams,
And in this circumstance my Genius gleams:
This Daimon that is Me essentially
Now shows itself in its reality.

Cloaked over during day by characters
I play, with whom society concurs,
This real Me emerges on the page
Released at last from my diurnal cage
And leaves this record of my presence here
Where by night’s magic I may now appear.


*

Monday, September 1, 2008



EPITAPH FOR A VERSECRAFTER

Discursive verses were his stock in trade
Where his poetic talents were displayed,
Such as they were. He put them on parade
In ranks of five iambics neatly laid,
Sometimes in couplets, like a colonnade,
Sometimes in alternating rhymes, a braid
Of twining verses pleasantly arrayed
Into the sonnet’s form, as deftly made
As he could do without a Muse’s aid.
Sometimes, as here, he loosed a fusillade
Of single rhymes, a columnar cascade
Designed to leave his readers’ eardrums flayed
It seemed, instead of working to persuade
Them to remember his departed shade.


*

Sunday, August 31, 2008

(See the cat?)

AN INFINITE GAME

for my students in Adventures in Great Verse


Since “All the fun’s in how you say a thing,”
As Robert Frost declared about his writing,
Then setting words to verse to make them sing
May prove more apt than prose and more delighting.

The point of verse is not to make a point
Or win an argument by reasoning
But rather play a game (and sometimes punt)
Watching your wit grow sharp with seasoning.

This game of making verse is infinite,
Not played with the intent of simply winning
Nor aimed to end so you might stop and sit,
Since verse once done is only then beginning,

For now it lives in minds and travels far,
Though for the poet it sets higher the bar.



*

SQUARED AWAY

I’m off my course, I’ve gone astray,
It’s time to get me squared away,
So four by four I’ll build my day,
Just as this verse will here display.


*

SEEKING MEANING / MAKING SENSE

The highest urge of our intelligence
Is seeking meaning or else making sense.

The first supposes something’s to be found,
A purpose planted in our being’s ground
That grows into the knowing of each soul
Who searches for what makes it true and whole,
And thus one’s meaning is self-realized.

The other way assumes sense is devised:
That any meaning, purpose, destiny
We come to comprehend in what we see
Are self-determined functions of our wills,
Since we ourselves prescribe our goods and ills.

Here, now, at last, we look for resolution;
This couplet, though, won’t clear up our confusion.


*

RHYMOTHERAPY

When out of sorts, depressed or just annoyed,
Or facing something he’d as soon avoid,
He found relief whenever he employed
His wit with rhyme, a practice he enjoyed.

He found that when he played with sound and toyed
With random possibilities, it bouyed
His sagging spirits and relieved his cloyed
Distastes: a happier antidote than Freud.



Saturday, August 30, 2008


EMBARRAS DE LA RICHESSE

“And why are riches an embarrassment?”
The unabashed aristocrat protests;
“I take it as a sign that Heaven’s sent
My gorgeous wealth to feather all my nests
And serve as an incentive to the poor,
So once a month I let them take a tour.”



*

STILL MORE

I cannot leave yet, for there’s more to do;
My mark of meaning in this world most grow
To something more remarkable and true
To my own essence, which has still to show.

For is that not the special human lot,
Endowed by our evolving consciousness,
To make increasing sense, our little jot
Of meaning toward the universe’s Yes?

To comprehend the wonder of our being
In the immensity of cosmic space;
To evermore extend our power of seeing
And ultimately know our destined place:

This is the common mission of our breed,
The offspring of a distant stellar seed.


*

SABBATICAL

The spaciousness of his sabbatical,
Which seemed an infinite opportunity
For wandering, exploring, growing full
Of wonders and new learning, set him free,
And he ranged widely through all kinds of reading,
As books stacked up around his study chair,
But couldn’t see where his pursuit was leading
Until he sat to write, for only there
Would he gain clarity and make some sense
According to the hunger in his soul
That yearned for comprehensive evidence
The Cosmos has a purpose and a goal
And human beings play a destined part—
Which he found not in books, but in his heart.



*

Wednesday, June 25, 2008



HEY, KIDS!

They’re just five words that you can rhyme with love,
But one would be unmannerly—that’s _____.
Another is old-fashioned—that one’s _____.
Still, lovers often gaze at “stars _____.”
The second last is that dull cliché, ____.
Just one rhyme’s left: know which I’m thinking __?





HEY, KIDS!

They’re just five words that you can rhyme with love,
But one would be unmannerly—that’s shove.
Another is old-fashioned—that one’s glove.
Still, lovers often gaze at “stars above.”
The second last is that dull cliché, dove.
Just one rhyme’s left: know which I’m thinking of?


*

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


AS GANDHI SAID

Humanity’s resort to violence
To settle ego’s conflicts makes no sense,
For everything we claim to be humane
Bids us to be compassionate and sane:

To love our neighbors as we love ourselves
And stash our grievances on basement shelves
Once we’ve resolved our conflicts peacefully
With justice, honor, truth and equity.

That’s our ideal, proclaimed by saints and sages
In wisdom texts and scriptures through the ages,
And yet in all this time we’ve still not learned
The arts of peace for which we’ve deeply yearned.

Only a peaceful Spirit saves the day:
“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”


* * *

PEACE IS THE WAY

“There is no way to peace; peace is the way,”
Wise Gandhi said, by which I think he meant
We have to be that which we seek, and play
The role we would become with clear intent.

For as I think and act so shall I be,
And so the world around me shall become:
If violently, then war shall vanquish me;
If lovingly, then peace shall still the drum.

It’s in our hands and hearts and minds to choose
The manner we live by, day after day:
Shall it be marching boots or dancing shoes,
Aggression or compassion? Pick the way,

Not where to go, but who and how to be:
To live in anger—or serenity.



*

Monday, June 23, 2008


WISDOM AND COURAGE


Two virtues nowadays are paramount,
For which history will hold us to account:
First wisdom, which discerns mere wants from needs,
Then moral courage from which choice proceeds.

We now must demonstrate our firm resolve
To help Earth’s injured biosphere evolve,
For we’ve become co-evolutionists
Through the intelligence of scientists.

We then must temper knowledge with what’s wise
Since we are wakening to realize
We play a role in the vast cosmic scheme
Foreshadowed in the ancient mythic dream

Of Uroboros who ate his own tail:
If we consume our habitat, we fail.


*

Sunday, June 22, 2008

DISCOVERING YOURSELF

Welcome, dear Austin, to your new condition,
Which puts you in a most perplexed position
As elder adolescent/young adult
Still searching for the You who will result.

Now college offers a new world of choice,
A chance to find and practice your own voice,
A cornucopia of novel thought,
New habits for your mind, both taught and caught.

Though some think money is their sole concern
And college elevates their power to earn,
We wish you growing wisdom as you learn
To help improve the world in your own turn.

As you choose carefully what you should do,
Remember that your goal’s becoming You.


*

Saturday, June 21, 2008


SHADOW WORLDS

The Shadow World of dreaming baffles me.
It seems an alternate reality
I pass into through sleep, leaving behind
Materiality for merely mind.

The things of day are all transfigured there
In ways that sometimes tickle, sometimes scare
And yet for me they quickly dissipate
Fading no matter how I concentrate.

A better mode of seeing otherwise
Another world of mystery and surprise
Is through poetical imagination,
Which draws upon the same source of creation

And yet preserves itself in its own act
Giving its dreams the permanence of fact.


*

Friday, June 20, 2008


CAMERA EYE

My walks now with the dogs are better when
I take my pocket camera with me.
Instead of dreaming in my mental den,
I peer about observing all I see:

This mottled leaf, this dew-jewelled spider web,
This egret stalking lizards in the fronds
Till—ZIP!—it nips its prey within its neb.
Such things I notice by our lakes and ponds,

While in the woods: the varied barks of trees,
The oak, the palm, the cypress, and the pine,
Crepe myrtle blossoms visited by bees.
The camera lets such spectacles be mine.

And if I had no photos to review,
I’d still have seen more than I used to do.


(photos below)






See the bee?



*

Thursday, June 19, 2008


RESURGENCE

The doldrums of self-pity, lassitude,
Had deepened day by day, dampening his mood,
While leaving him confused and out of tune
In what should be the Merry Month of June.

He sought for causes in his maundering heart
For why his sputtering soul refused to start,
Which left him more dispirited and sunk,
Befuddled in the misery of his funk.

But then, in desperation, taking pen
In hand, he stared at his blank pad again
And, as so often in the past, a spurt
Of spirit entered him, he grew alert,

The energy in his slack soul resurged,
And out of chaos shapely forms emerged.


*

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


UNREASONABLE RHYMES

Two types who’ll never mix: the one drinks latte;
The other has a black belt in karate.
Nor will you find mild-mannered Mr. Peeps
This weekend on the sand dunes racing Jeeps.
Who serves tea from a silver samovar
Won’t show up at a Karaoke bar.
The stealthy specialist in break-and-enter
Does not play cribbage at the Senior Center.
Nor will you find that grizzled old galoot
Cavorting with a girl that you’d call “cute.”
Mad Max, as jittery as a jumping bean,
Avoids the Buddhist monk, calm and serene.
All these are ever destined to be twains,
As much as Barbarellas and plain Janes.


*

Sunday, June 15, 2008


ARCHETYPE

My habit-hobby of the sonnet form,
A daily prompt to ingenuity
(More challenging with the unyielding norm
Of perfect rhymes, not phonic deviancy),

Keeps me attuned to hidden harmonies
And resonances from somewhere Beyond,
Played on this mystic mechanism’s keys
While different cosmic levels correspond.

Supernal music from the sacred spheres,
Transduced by this device, descends to Earth
Remodulated for our human ears
To serve all moods from tragedy to mirth.

Some think the sonnet but an idle trifle;
I know its occult power is archetypal.


*

Saturday, June 14, 2008



the morning after


ILLUMINATION

I live not for the fickle fate of fame,
In hopes that history will preserve my name,
But, rather, day by day, aim to enjoy
Each fleeting moment like a shiny toy.

An emblem of my blithe philosophy
Lies here at hand, this fading verse you see,
Which blossomed in the joyful light of dawn
Yet will from this night’s memory be gone.

What’s left’s an echo of that former bliss,
No subject for a close analysis,
A shadow merely from a brighter light
That brought me briefly to a keener sight.

To find illumination every day
Transcends my hope that any verse will stay.


*

Friday, June 13, 2008


INTO THE WINDS

Adventuring into the winds of chance
And buffeted by wonder and surprise,
He struggled to make headway and advance
Toward that distant port where wisdom lies.

He’d found no Royal Road across the land
Where pilgrims over centuries had trod;
The state he sought was one that would expand
His consciousness until he looked on God.

The winds of Grace, he knew, were ever blowing,
And he had but to raise his sails and go,
For what he sought was never fixed but flowing,
A way and not a place—a way to know.

That port he sought in fact was just a portal,
A passageway beyond what made him mortal.


*

Thursday, June 12, 2008



OFF LEAD IN MEAD GARDEN

“I’m Gyppie, and this work I do is play.
The Winter Park Athletic League of Squirrels
Has hired me to train them every day,
To keep them on their toes, quicken their whirls

Around tree trunks, perfect the double-back
And other fleet maneuvers of escape
And never let their reflexes go slack.
My job’s to keep these fuzzy rats in shape.

You’ve got to see how I’m cut out for this:
There’s something in me simply can’t resist
The chance to chase a squirrel, although I miss
Them every time, and yet I still persist.

So, Officer, I need to run off lead
To do my job.” The copper said, “Proceed.”


*

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


CURING EVIL

If we could pick the lock of every brain
And know the hidden motives of our sins,
We’d see that all offensiveness begins
As recompense for some infernal pain.

All evils are the deeds of the insane
For malady and wickedness are twins;
Salvation is the salve that heals our sins,
Relieves our wound, and then removes its stain.

That heal and health and holiness are one
At root reveals there’s curing to be done.


*

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


OUR PLACE

We are the Universe’s interface
Between its outer and its inner space.



*