Wednesday, December 30, 2009


As out of all the passing scenery appears
One rectangle to frame and photograph,
Sometimes my mind’s miasma brightly clears
To show a grain of truth amidst the chaff.

These sudden moments of illumination,
Of contact with a keener way of seeing,
Befall uncalled for and do not occasion
An obvious transformation of my being.

The best that I can do to bid them come
Is to sit quiet in the pre-dawn dark,
Pad on my lap, letting my fingers drum
On the chair arm to help a vision spark.

The readiness is all, and patient waiting,
For me to meet the mystery of creating.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009


What is it I have yet to learn about
Myself that I should know before I die?
Of all those things that still remain in doubt—
The what, the where, the when, the how, the why,
And most of all the who—what do I need
To comprehend or understand or find
To satisfy the contract I agreed
To carry out, the one that I designed?

For so it is, I’ve heard: we cycle through
Life after life, each time to find out more
About ourselves and do all we must do
To learn what our bright consciousness is for
Until at last we fully realize
Our true identity without disguise.


Sunday, December 27, 2009


“We” is we human beings, or many of us.

“Doing wrong” means not doing what it would be better to do, means making harmful decisions and means behaving unwisely.

My reason for asking what we are doing wrong is to focus our attention on reasonable, sane alternatives to our present perilous practices. It is to offer sensible options, compelling enough to persuade us to change our minds, our attitudes and our actions.

Here is my initial list:

(1) It is wrong for any human being to lack the means to thrive in health of body, mind and spirit.

(2) It is wrong to use violence against sentient, conscious creatures, and the more so the higher up they are on the evolutionary ladder.

(3) It is wrong to deplete the viability and multiplicity of life forms on Earth, especially by human over-population and by unnecessary resource demands.

(4) It is wrong not to make urgent personal and collective progress in developing our sciences for comprehending all aspects of knowledge (of who, what, where, when, how and why), and of becoming more fully and capably conscious.

(5) It is wrong not to act to rectify the foregoing wrongs to the fullness of one’s growing abilities (a sin of omission).

More to follow . . .


Saturday, December 26, 2009


(a proposal)

1. To institute the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) worldwide.

2. To institute the Global Ethic (1993) worldwide.

3. To prioritize the pursuits of science and humane technology under the guidance of wise values.

4. To develop a Science of Wisdom that guides the wisdom of science by its ever-refining values.

5. To articulate and institute an Ecological Ethic (developed from the Earth Charter of 2000) respecting the rights of all life forms on Earth to be protected from despoiling by reckless and predatory human behavior.

6. To articulate and institute a Universal Declaration of Diversity to protect against arbitrary motives of conformity and regimentation beyond the dictates of wise values, and honoring nature’s tendency to innovate and proliferate experimentally.


Friday, December 25, 2009


An unexamined meme is not worth thinking,
No more than some unlabeled dram’s worth drinking:
Who knows the potion’s ultimate effects
Or that a sly idea won’t prove a hex?

Ideas are insidious, and memes
Infect unwary victims with dire dreams
That bloom into their lives’ scenarios,
Based only on the fancies they suppose.

Though memes are unavoidable events
In our mindscapes, and how we conjure sense,
We still can choose the dreams by which we live
And know the wisest by the lives they give.

A well-considered story can redeem
The damage of a maladaptive meme.


Thursday, December 24, 2009


If “Death’s the only deadline worth respect,”
And death is coming sooner now than when
I wrote that line, it’s time to recollect
What I’ve now done, especially with my pen.

Of all the prose and verse I’ve ever made,
Stacked thick in binders, organized in sheaves,
Does any of it earn a passing grade
And that respect the best of art achieves?

Or should I just not care? Posterity
Will do its fickle thing, and some will win
The winnowing and earn eternity,
While most return to dust where all begin.

Why not instead just seize the present time:
Be happy as this rhythm meets this rhyme?


Tuesday, December 22, 2009


For a verse the reverse of Miltonic
Writ with wit not the least bit Byronic,
Gnash your teeth on Og Nash
Who penned verses for cash
But ended proclaimed as iconic.

Though some named his strained verses moronic
At the opposite end from canonic,
Those who bothered to bash
The perdurable Nash
Found their laughter reduced to sardonic.



It’s mainly in the night my inner light
Shines forth, when quietly I meditate
Or ruminate or muse and find the sight
Of things unseen by day to contemplate.

It’s then I best commune with my own soul,
My higher self, asleep throughout the day
When mundane drives and motives take control
And hold my subtle holy sprite at bay.

But now, all still, surrounded by the dark,
I open up my soul, a treasure chest,
And peer inside in hopes a gleam or spark
Will blaze to consciousness and make me blessed,

For now it is the far end of December,
A time for souls and bodies to re-member.


20 December 2009


What is our human aim but to aspire,
To rise above our former selves still higher
Until we realize the ultimate
We might attain, above the common rut.

And what is that? What might our souls become
When we’ve at last accrued the wished-for sum
Of wisdom necessary to release
Us from our fretful toils and bring us peace?

It is the bliss of blessed serenity,
The tranquil mind amidst the roiling sea,
The stasis in the center of the storm,
And words that find their true poetic form.

Although we know that center cannot hold,
We’re warm and bright awhile, and then turn cold.


12 October 2009


As in the wandering woods diverge two roads,
So life presents two elemental modes,
And we may choose unique or uniform,
To be oneself or blindly to conform.

Or is it that we need to compromise
Because our true identities arise
When we adopt the idols of our tribe
And then adapt to what our souls deride.

Thus do we prove our dual sapience,
Being led by insight and experience,
What’s proved by centuries of trials and errors
And what’s imbued to save us from our terrors.

Though common in our core humanity,
Without our souls we’re merely vanity.


9 October 2009


What keeps humanity from being humane
Or humankind from acting truly kind?
Ingraft insanity makes us insane;
We grow the way our nature is inclined.

So say determinists who think us base
By birth, hard-wired to be egotists
And only to be saved by heavenly grace
That overwhelms what devilish power resists.

What if, however, not original sin,
But innate grace and primal dignity
May be assumed the way that we begin—
In innocence, but not immunity?

Unless our dignity is well maintained,
That innocence we’re born with will be stained.


3 October 2009


Two ways there are to treat another being:

The one is binding and the other freeing;
The first puts down, the other raises up;
One desiccates, one serves a loving cup;

One undermines, the other lends support;
One is dismaying, the other blithe with sport.
While one would starve, the other cultivates;
One wears a frown, the other one elates;

One darkens with despite, the second lights,
For hate subverts and love lifts to the heights.
The one undignifies, disdains, denies,
Demeans, defeats, belittles and belies—

Choose which: to be a rude contrarian

Or something new: a Dignitarian.


19 September 2009


When I do count the characters I tweet,
I find that I can stack them straight and neat
Into a pair of couplets, line by line,
One hundred forty long in this design. (128)

Yet if I should prefer another kind
Of verse in which to tweet that’s just as neat
As couplets, rhyming quatrains come to mind,
Counting not only characters but feet. (137)

Add one more tweet onto these foregone twit[ters,]
More polished than before, a tweet that glit[ters]
And shows the art of ancient craftly fit[ters]
Who, sticking to their last, were never quit[ters.] (140)

They plied their trade and measured well to sing
As sweet as songbirds twittering in the spring. (79)


Friday, December 18, 2009

15 September 2009


Once the ideas of rankism and dignitarianism take root in your mind, new shoots of thought begin to ramify, new instances and applications sprout.

For instance, animals, or the Earth itself: “Don’t treat the Earth like dirt,” exhorts a bumper sticker I’ve seen. Does not the lovely, living ecosystem of this planet deserve respect from its most predatory species—us?

Our rape of “resources” and our wanton decimation of other species abuses the dignity of other precious life-forms. Our inhumane maltreatment of animals, mammals especially, demeans our own humanity, undignifying us.

“But,” you say, “in a dog-eat-dog world, such tender sensibilities would only lead to our extinction. We must fight to survive. It’s eat or be eaten. Ask Darwin.”

It’s not always that stark, I reply, and our intelligence allows us to think more widely and wisely, if we so choose. We can observe how cooperation among populations and species often works more to the advantage of all than does domination and exploitation.

For the sake of cultivating kindness in ourselves (an essential virtue), we need to consider how our attitudes and actions can become more Earth friendly and more ecologically savvy, which includes developing empathy and reverence for all the valuable life-forms that Earth’s evolution has engendered.

How high on the food-chain can we eat with good health and in good conscience? With what reverence and respect do we honor what nourishes us? These, I think, are vital dignitarian questions to ponder as we reform the rankist practices now prevailing.


15 September 2009


“Gates irate; Crowley growly” —Fax News

The night that Henry Louis Gates
Let slip his secret, bridled hates
Upon a hapless Cambridge cop
Who took him for a thief to stop
From breaking into someone’s house
And called him something worse than “louse,”
It turned out it was Gates’ own home,
That he’d been somewhere—China, Rome—
And, now returned, had lost his keys,
Broke in—to be nabbed by police.
All hell broke loose as tempers flared,
Insults were bandied, neighbors stared,
Handcuffs were clasped, the Harvard prof,
Shoved in a car, was carried off.

How did this end? You’d never guess:
This brouhaha made such a mess
Of headlines that the President
(A friend of Gates) broke precedent,
Took sides, assuming the police
Had acted “stupidly” at least,
That racial profiling was used
And Gates’ dignity abused.

It ends this way, as on the lawn
Of the White House, where are gone
Hot words, cool heads now appear
On all the parties and their beer.


11 September 2009

IT’S 9/11

It’s 9/11 and that makes me think
of terrorism’s grasp upon our brains.
For eight years now we’ve lived under its curse,
Grown scared of planes and strangers, foreign ways,
And ideologies that preach hatred
Against the unrighteousness of Western deeds.
What is it they despise in how we live?
What have we done to them that they should strike
Such terror in our hearts, retaliate
For what? They cannot think us innocent;
They think us infidels, unfaithful ones.
Are they misled by dogma from the past?
Or are we somehow rightly to be blamed?
After eight years, what do we answer now?

Robert W. Fuller

3 September 2009


What Robert W. Fuller's terms “rankism” and “a dignitarian society” seem to me to come down to is respect vs. disrespect, for others and for ourselves.

Etymologically, to respect is to look again, which implies taking a second look or noticing with attention and regard, which may be seen as the beginning of an ascending sequence: respect > regard > concern > care > affection > love. Respect, then, is positive regard for someone or something, an attitude that, with cultivation, may culminate in love, that “brotherly love” which Philadelphia is named for, or which fraternities and sororities ideally exemplify.

Nobody wants to be a nobody. Everybody wants to be a somebody. We all need the dignity of such self-esteem, as much as we need vitamins. We thrive on the respect of unconditional positive regard, respect for simply being human. To disrespect us causes anguish, defensiveness, and possible hostility: having been thus insulted, our reflex urge is to lash back, which easily leads to an escalating cycle of retaliation in which respect vanishes and disrespect, disregard, and dissonance defeat civility. Antagonism then rules.

Yet, for all its prominence in the daily news, antagonism and hostility are not the norm, I think, in most societies, which are generally “civil societies.” Civility and neighborliness are behaviors most people cherish and desire in their communities and practice habitually. Flare-ups of antagonism distress everyone involved, and peacemakers work earnestly to calm and reconcile the parties in dispute. That is our natural instinct, to bring about among adversaries conflict resolution and renewed cooperation.

A Dignitarian Society, a better society than has yet evolved in most human communities, is still our aspiration as a race hoping to mature into the sapience we’re named for (Homo sapiens sapiens). The incalculable preciousness of all human beings, no matter how warped and wayward adversities may have made them, will then be prized and appreciated, honored and esteemed—and redeemed.

That time of promise ahead seems now barely imaginable. Yet what’s imagination for if not to make such leaps and flights to follow after?


31 August 2009


A sonnet’s my alethiometer,
A Golden Compass into which I stare,
Watching the needle swing where Fates prefer,
Then plunge into its visions rich and rare.

Without this cunning mystical device,
My consciousness remains in the mundane,
Yet with this instrument I can entice
Imaginary vistas from my brain.

The needle arcs from one rhyme to the next,
The meter beats its wings to stay aloft,
And wit, of numerous possibilities, selects
The fittest sounds, from thunderous to soft.

The Lethe in alethiometer

Must be the land of dreams where poems occur.


31 August 2009


The Water Oaks that soared above our yard
And swayed at ease or shook in hurricanes
And shaded us below, seeming to guard
Our house, are faltering now from age’s strains.

As rain collects in crevices that rot
And heavy downpours load the weakened limbs,
They crack then crash, if luckily, on our lot,
If not, onto our roof, by Fortune’s whims.

Then, oak by oak, they’re plucked from all around,
Their broad arms chain-sawed into thudding logs,
Their branches chipped and mulched, their stout stumps ground,
Their mates displaced: the squirrels, birds and frogs.

How will it be when not one oak is left?
We too will need to leave—forlorn, bereft.