Sunday, February 28, 2010


In what way can bright consciousness evolve
In us who seem possessed of it most highly,
So that, before too late, we’ll learn to solve
Those problems caused by living less than wisely?

That lesser consciousness possessing us,
Though loftier than other species own,
Acts often like a dreadful incubus
Subverting us. How may it be outgrown?

How may we tune to higher frequencies
Receiving signals from a saner source
Healing in us our moral maladies
Aligning us along a wholesome course?

The way we need to go so Spirit grows,
Still, mindful meditation may disclose.


Thursday, February 25, 2010


There is a Higher Consciousness to gain,
In which state human beings grow wholly sane.
Unfortunately, this condition’s rare,
Since there’s so much in us that needs repair.

Our bodies suffer countless maladies;
Our minds are ever subject to disease;
Our hearts grow hard and cold and often ache;
Our sleeping souls but dream of being awake.

So how then can we raise our consciousness
Beyond our normal level of distress,
Mending in us and straightening all that’s bent,
Rising from darkness to enlightenment?

Let go, let go, let go, let go, let go,
Let go, let go, let go, let go—then O!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010


What is the best a human being may be,
Invested with our grandest dignity,
Arrayed in our ideal heroic mode,
Striding the way that saints and sages strode?

This is a question everyone should ask
Since it defines our urgent human task:
To learn why we are here and how to live,
Discovering that we fail unless we give.

Thus must we find our own inherent gift
To share with others or else live adrift,
Wayward and wandering, benighted and bemused,
Lost in dark woods, erratic and confused.

Or worse that that: atrocious and malign,
Oblivious to our divine design.


Monday, February 22, 2010


Complicit in the cruelty of war,
Believing man a natural predator,
We yet perpetuate through that belief
The underlying reason for our grief.

Of course we’ve learned from raptors how to kill,
Discovering in combat a mad thrill
And thereby grown addicted to such ways,
But now can see such customs as a phase
In the long arc of our development
And not the course on which we’re truly bent.

As our mindshine grows brighter over time
And we evolve toward something more sublime
Than conquerors, supreme in wielding force,
We’ll learn at last compassion and remorse.



for Eric Zivot

I always coveted my brother’s wife,
Nearly as much as his majestic throne—
That he should be so blessed was like a knife
Stuck in my heart. I yearned for them alone.

And yet I ever played the courtier’s part,
Dancing attendance on their highnesses,
Currying favor, keeping dark my heart
So none might know my treachery or guess.

Then after many years I saw her fade
In her affection for the busy king,
Distracted with affairs of state, arrayed
Always for battles—while I bade her sing.

Behind her back I made my desperate move,
Which now the mad-brained prince is out to prove.


Sunday, February 21, 2010


In writing verse like this, the interplay
Between what’s programmed and spontaneous,
Between that something you may mean to say
And what indeed you do’s mysterious,

For something else proceeds from depths unknown,
Not rational but more intuitive,
Not conscious but subliminally grown,
Or, if you will, it’s what the Muses give.

So too it is, I see, throughout the world
Of living things, genetically programmed
To replicate the patterns tightly curled
In genomes wherein information’s crammed,

And yet each birth is an anomaly,
Uniquely new in its identity.




Yes, Bertram does have a point—he should have free choice of whom he’s to marry, even if he’s callow, headstrong, proud and blind to the beautiful treasure that Helena with her adoration of him represents. Add to that: he’s ungrateful and ungracious. And why Helena persists in loving him, despite his ill-mannered scorn and treachery, seems nearly insane of her—except that, we may reckon, possessing the soul of a physician, she sees through Bertram’s moral diseases to the spiritually healthy soul he is in essence; and she knows herself as a healer who can recover him to sanity and raise him to maturity. And at last she does just this, however deviously and dubiously.

Only by classifying this play as a fairy tale (and a Grimm one too), may allowances be made for so preposterous a plot and such improbable psychology. But having once duly suspended a reasonable disbelief, one may relax and enjoy the artful machinations of the plot that ultimately work to remedy Bertram’s moral malady, just as in Measure for Measure the warped Lord Angelo is finally reclaimed from pride and perversion to a penitent sanity and to the prospect of undeserved love—all such forgiveness being beyond deserving, unmerited and gracious in principle, by Christian precept.

Observe AWW and MM through a spiritual lens, and you see two parables of salvation; you see spiritual remediation at work when nothing short of divine intervention can tame heart-hardened sinners from their truculent perversions.


Friday, February 19, 2010


So, what new story is there still to tell
Of how we’ll thrive in this millennium,
Now we’ve the power to unleash all hell
On Earth and blow ourselves to Kingdom Come?

Or, if not that, to kill our biosphere
With poisons, mass extinctions, over-breeding,
Ignoring all that’s wondrous, precious, dear,
Yet lost without true visionary leading.

Suppose we’re not a caterpillar still
But newly hatched from our damp chrysalis,
No more devouring the world to fill
Our ravenous maw, but now arrived at bliss.

Imagine too the beauty of our flight—
A monarch of this world who rules aright.


Thursday, February 18, 2010


Fixated by the bright blonde violist
Performing just to Leon Fleisher’s right
In calf-length leather boots and wholly blissed
By Mozart’s Jupiter in all its might,
He basked in beauties of both sound and sight.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010


For all of our Enlightenments, it’s night
Still in our consciousness, collectively,
Since we remain disposed to fight or flight,
Not having shed our animality.

We’re still the caterpillar uncocooned
And untranscended to that butterfly
We dream of being, still ripe to be lampooned
For vice and folly, no matter how we try.

Some turn to God to save us from our sins,
Denying we can do it on our own,
Claiming that as we try, the Devil grins,
But what if there’s no God and we’re alone?

We’ll either find it in ourselves to rise
Or, all too soon, we’ll wreak our own demise.


Monday, February 15, 2010


If we’re to live beyond these awful times,
Transcending our insane, appalling crimes
Against each other and our bio-kin,
How must we change and where do we begin?

Or is it up to Nature to select
That strain of us by which Earth can correct
The errors of our ego-centric ways,
The reason that our wayward species strays?

Self-centered and malignant as a cell
Devouring all its neighbors just to swell
Into a tumor bound for suicide,
Such ones Earth’s providence cannot abide.

From all our kind, which sort will Nature cull?
The Universal Individual.


Sunday, February 14, 2010


The caterpillar and the butterfly,
Two versions of the same genetic code,
Suggest that in ourselves as well may lie
The makings of another human mode,
That what is lumbering and grublike now,
Earthbound and plodding and the easy prey
Of raptors’ beaks may be transformed somehow
To priceless porcelain, though made of clay.
Or if that image shift seems too abrupt,
Compare us first to fettered butterflies
Cocooned in pendant sacs which then erupt
In glory on a sunny day, arise
In primal flight and waft for continents—
So may it be in humankind’s ascents.


Saturday, February 13, 2010


When studying poetic or dramatic literature, of first import is to inhabit the text before talking about the text. First you must live your way into the lines, as a actor would, even to the point of memorizing them, or at least learning to say them as if they were your own natural speech, saying them (by Hamlet’s instruction) “trippingly on the tongue.” Great literature deserves no less from you than oral possession.

Only after you have internalized the passages, savored them, owned them, have you then earned the right to stand back from them, see them in their larger context, and reflect on issues of artistry and significance. Only then should you talk about thematic relevance, symbolic implication, and psychological or dramaturgical perspectives. Then you can play the scholar and the critic. But assimilating the lines into yourself comes first.

Which is why we devote much class time to demonstrating how well you have taken possession of, say, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath or his Pardoner, or have found your way into the hearts of Hamlet, Claudius and Ophelia.

Another way to say this is to liken literary texts and scripts to musical scores, which beg to leap out of their inert ink on the page into notes in the air, vibrant with resonant vitality. Notation is not music, nor is printed text poetry or drama. Only performance transforms them into what they truly are—animated air, impassioned personification, inspired breath.

Therefore, read them aloud. Make them your own.


Friday, February 12, 2010


I’d like to make you see with only words—
So squint and let imagination show
The brightening dawn and sound the singing birds
Beyond the window to your left, then go
Onto your backyard patio by way
Of the loud sliding door to the screened porch,
Letting that screen door slam as if to say
To any rodents near the picnic torch
“Avaunt, wee beasties, it’s the squirrels, not you,
I’m here to toss these peanuts to, so scat!
But not into our attic as you do
When it turns chill. Begone! I’ll call the cat!
All right, how did that work on the big screen
Inside your head? Did I transmit a scene?


Thursday, February 11, 2010


Erratic and erroneous, we fools
Who blindly wander mystified and mad
Then volunteer to serve as dupes and tools
For those more unambiguously bad
Must consequently bear both blame and shame
For our naïveté and ignorance,
Since willful, dull stupidity’s the same
As calculated, cruel intransigence,
Or if not quite so evil in intent,
Still culpable for having failed to be
As vigilant and wisely prescient
As it behooves our true integrity.
You are not wholly human when your mind
Meanders wildly and your soul is blind.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


It’s only fitting that Shakespeare remains
Unknown, a man whose ego disappeared
Into his characters, which best explains
Why he, above all bards, is so revered.

Somehow, he early on attained a state
Of consciousness transcending self-regard,
Allowing him to see how human fate
Is ego’s deed, by which we’re made and marred.

We live within illusions of our making,
Spellbound by curses we ourselves have cast,
Though sometimes by our suffering awaking
To freedom and enlightenment at last.

That Shakespeare knew how ego blinds us all
Is all we need to know—and then recall.



Now lat me telle you of oure dogges two.
The one is redde and away longes to goe
Outside to chase the sprightly squirrels far
And wide, tho only sometime does she mar
Hir games by catching one of hem to kille,
And that were sadde to doon a creature ille.
Th’other of our dogges is blak and whit
And loves to frisk aboute in hir delit,
As if she were a faïrye or an elve,
And howles for companye whan by hirselve.
The two of hem for treates have grown fat
And in good pointe, with shining cotes that
Do glisten like bright mettle in the sunne,
And alle hir dayes are dedicat to funne.
The redde one is hente Gypsy, gladde to roam;
The blak and whit is Keena, who keepes hoom.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Why should I write iambically
And thus restrict my scope,
Then make things worse by adding rhymes—
Am I a hopeless dope?

Why not just write and let words flow
As free as they may be?
Why limit what I might compose
So arbitrarily?

My answer is—because of you,
For both your ear and eye;
I’ve not your mind alone to please,
But sense to satisfy.



I sit to contemplate and loose my mind,
Which roves and ranges like a wandering dog
Scouring the landscape in keen hopes to find
Some hidden tidbit stashed behind a log
Or sniff the traces of some lurking cat
Malingering beneath a bush or shrub,
Brazen enough to hiss and start a spat
For, ah, the joy of such a grand hubbub!

Such contemplating, it turns out, is not
So unadventurous an activity;
Even if practiced in a cave or grot,
It prompts imagination’s ecstasy
And escapades beyond the dull mundane
Above this lower to a higher plane.


Saturday, February 6, 2010


While I sit here and sip my tea, my mind
Meanders like a footloose dog led by
Its nose about the neighborhood, inclined
This way and that by vagrant scents to spy

Into odd crannies or foul trash cans at
The curb, rooting around for scraps and bones,
But hoping most to roust and chase a cat—
Just so, my mind probes knowns and unknowns.

Capriciously my flitting, fickle brain
Alights on this and that, a memory,
A dream, a scheme, some fancy to obtain,
Or something that might turn to poetry.

When once unleashed, who knows where it might go?
The thing’s to let it loose then watch the show.


Friday, February 5, 2010


Young poets teeter
On rhyme and meter
Yet mean to keep oblique,
But I’m no cheater
And find it sweeter
To make verse that’s antique.



For her the line between reality
And dream was razor thin, and often she
Would wake while in the middle of the night
Uncertain if her fright was vaporous sight
Just conjured by her mind, or really true,
Then all next day it left its residue
To taint her mood with vague and nameless dread,
A clammy cloak of fear she could not shed.


Thursday, February 4, 2010


I take this hour or so to muse and mull,
Consulting with such spirits as attend
Upon contemplatives, making less dull
Their brains, extending what they comprehend.

Nor is such seeming magic to be scorned,
Though ours be such an analytic age;
Indeed the lack of magic should be mourned
When each of us contains a latent mage.

The genii in our bottle lies asleep
So long as we deny its very being;
This daimon in the rough is buried deep
Within our souls, now blind without its seeing.

For you to spy what’s lurking down your well,
It simply takes this sitting for a spell.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I find that when I fret or stew or grouse,
My attic’s infiltrated with a mouse—
That is, my brain feels gnawed upon and frayed,
My thoughts are littered, and my nerves are flayed.

I’ve learned it’s self-indulgent and a waste
Of vital power, leaving my soul disgraced,
If I obsess when I might better act
By mustering up the courage that I lacked.

When heart takes residence where fear once dwelled,
The rodent in my attic is expelled.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Though I respect the rationality
That makes our species special and supreme,
I more revere the sacred Mystery,
That source from which all living beings stream.

Though thought and calculation reckon much
And comprehend the Hows, Whats, Whens and Wheres,
There’s one thing rationality can’t clutch,
And for the lack of Whys, the world despairs.

It may seem little comfort just to claim
A Mystery exists enfolding Why
If we can’t penetrate that occult aim
No matter how our stymied brains might try,

Yet knowing that there’s Something still unknown,
Not Nothing, makes me feel much less alone.


Monday, February 1, 2010


This patient waiting for a mental nudge
That wakes my sleepy consciousness to budge
And fish for rhymes beneath night’s icy sludge
Comes up with this—a keeper? You’re the judge.