Monday, September 30, 2013


To be spiritual is to attend to and cultivate a kind of consciousness or awareness that gives a person solace, comfort, clarity, illumination, direction, determination, conviction and strength.

While it is conventional and poetic to personify Spirit as a godly or angelic being that visits and uplifts the downcast and oppressed, more exactly spirit is a mental and emotional state of being—that of being inspired and elevated, joyful and elated—spirited.

To be in an elevated spiritual state is to be loving, caring and joyful, filled with good will toward others, wishing for them to share the happiness delighting you.  Such a spirit is personified for children as that jolly old elf, Saint Nicholas.

To be religious means literally to be tied back or bound—as to a creed or set of metaphysical convictions.  But in terms of spirituality, to be religious would mean to bind oneself to principles of behavior and to practices that cultivate a spirited state of being in oneself and others.

That which brings comfort and joy, clarity and inspiration, courage and fortitude to lead us in a Good Orderly Direction is the wind of grace that we call spirit.


Saturday, September 28, 2013


The old man dying, narrowed in his mind,
his repertoire of memories declined,
clung to a few he’d regularly repeat,
launching on stories he could not complete.
He often mentioned Everyman, a play
he named his favorite, though couldn’t say
exactly what it was about.  I said
that Everyman was dying and he pled
with his associates to come along,
but one by one the whole assembled throng—
as Kindred, Knowledge, Beauty, Strength, Good Deeds
deserted him—no worldly thing succeeds.
He asked, “What is it helps you in the end?”
It says, on Love alone can we depend.


Friday, September 27, 2013


   The Great God Google, to whom I daily pray
   To be informed of anything I wish,
   Though he may often lead my mind astray
   Is never niggardly or standoffish.

   Profusely he lays out the whole shebang—
   Expanding knowledge leading everywhere
   From Abyssinian slums to Zulu slang,
   Yet be advised to exercise great care.

   “Proceed with caution” should flash on the screen
   When entering this perilous domain,
   For sites may range from useless to obscene,
   And there’s no one to whom you can complain.

        And yet I shall remain ambivalent
        If this Great God is hell or heaven sent.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013


  Oh, now and then, a student comes along
  Who cares for more than just his GPA,
  Whose aptitude for learning is so strong
  He thinks the work assigned is more like play.

  While others take assignments as a chore,
  He’s rather like young Twist in Dickens’ book
  With the audacity to ask for more—
  Another nugget for his study nook.

  Like Chaucer’s studious clerk at Oxenford,
  His bed’s head filled with Greek philosophy,
  He’d read voraciously while roommates snored
  Performing all his tasks assiduously.

       What should one think of such a studious grind?
       No less than this: he fed his precious mind.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013


for Copthorne Macdonald

       The greatest quest of all is to grow wise,
       collectively and individually,
       for we have yet to fully realize
       our sapient potentiality.
       What must we then outgrow and leave behind
       as modes of our collective ignorance,
       as signs of our still undeveloped mind,
       for us to make that marvelous advance?
       It must be this: the thought that I’m above
       another—with higher rights or keener needs;
       the rule must be instead that only love
       obtains, compassion, as in all the creeds
       that throughout history have won acclaim
       because they’ve recognized our highest aim.


Monday, September 23, 2013


     Something there is, implicit in all being,
     that gives rise to the world we now are seeing—
     to us and everything the Cosmos wide,
     as eons manifest what is implied.

     While some define that latency as God,
     imagining a shepherd and his rod,
     Good Orderly Direction, though abstract,
     yet still mysterious, seems more the fact.

     Stochastically the process stumbles on,
     yet every now and then it hits upon
     a keeper that enlarges the whole scheme
     according with its now prevailing theme,

     and like a poem searching for a rhyme,
     out of the deep one may appear in time.


Saturday, September 21, 2013


        It wasn’t till our 40th I learned
        my roommate, Tom Kubota, in the War,
        with all his family, had been interned
        in Idaho.  He’d always kept that door
        shut tight.  Seattle born but Japanese
        in lineage, considered then a threat
        to our security, such families
        as his were seized and often left in debt.
        For all of that, what we his roommates knew
        of Tom was someone gentle, puckish, kind
        and deferential to a fault, one who
        would never boast the keenness of his mind.
             In Kyoto later, an Olympic scheme,
             he designed the quarters of the US team.



   The Old Guard’s gone, now passed into the shade
   with Nina, Ada, Charlie, Wilbur and
   then Marion and Phil—our Hit Parade
   of Departmental characters, a band
   of colorful professors from the days
   when dittographs and chalkboards were the mode
   along with jackets, bow-ties, buns and stays,
   when homework meant to memorize an ode.
   A younger set has now assumed command
   more women and much more technology;
   New Critics are passé and texts are scanned
   by copiers if not prosodically.
        What matters, though, is that we still succeed
        in leading them to love to write and read.



    A jaunty little bustle-butt is Tig,
    who skips and skibbles as she zigs along
    until she hops a curb and starts to dig
    ferociously (a veritable King-Kong)
    to excavate a gopher-tortoise hole,
    or chase a squirrel up a laurel oak
    now skittering at her from its lofty bole—
    no way to quell, but all the more provoke.
    But then at home, she’s quite the cuddlekins,
    a lapdog you could pet and preen all day
    until once more the urge to roam begins,
    then she and Gyp go out again to play.
    Each on her leash, they lead me down the street
    eager to find some neighbor dogs to greet.


Friday, September 20, 2013


  A sonnet and a crossword are the same
  In that you’re counting both across and down
  To make words fit a pattern in a game
  That often furrows brows into a frown,
  Though both are different in their puzzling ways:
  The one depending all on memory,
  The other searching for a word or phrase
  Extending meaning with apt harmony—
  Which is to say, there’s more than play entailed
  In sonnetry, a game for mortal stakes,
  For one false move or note means that you’ve failed
  In your attempt and don’t have what it takes
       To demonstrate an artistry and skill
       That happily manifests your Muse’s will.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013


       If looking out for Number One were all
       the virtue and the prowess we could boast,
       as ancestors of the long-fabled Fall,
       that is the least of us and not the most.
       There’s more implicit in humanity
       than often is, alas, made manifest;
       so much of history is insanity,
       it’s hard to recognize us at our best.
       But focus on the highest we’ve achieved,
       despite our waywardness and lack of love;
       attend to what great sages have conceived
       as transcendental means to rise above
       the motives and impulses that destroy
       serenity—our only route to joy.


Saturday, September 14, 2013


  Our father had it rough—Depression, War,
  Four gritty years in Europe, Africa,
  On Eisenhower’s staff—it surely bore
  Into his soul to fight the swastika.

  Then afterwards the hustle to catch up—
  His job at Trico, night school at UB,
  Buying rental properties—Hup!  Hup!
  All for security, prosperity.

  Although he was too busy to attend
  To the kinder, gentler arts of fatherhood,
  We three kids always knew we could depend
  Firmly on his providing for our good.

       And what he lacked in tender loving care,
       We found in Mom, whose heart was always there.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nemerov #7


Wednesday, September 11, 2013


 Come on, hop in—let’s see where this will go,
 a sonnet, after all’s a vehicle;
 let’s test it out and drive it row by row
 making it swift and snappy, nothing dull.

 Thing is, with this form you can never tell
 where you’ll end up—a magic mystery tour
 begins and puts you in a kind of spell,
 but where you’ll go or stop you’re never sure.

 Just past midway you turn, right on a dime:
 perhaps just now you have a notion how
 you’ll find the finish line, and in good time
 complete your narrative and take your bow.

      Then like a victory lap your couplet’s ride
      rounds out your triumph while it vaunts your pride.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013


  The little one, she barks at everything—
  High-strung, alert to all disturbances,
  Thinking, though small, she’ll make the welkin ring
  And rout the crooks—which leaves us in a tizz.


Monday, September 9, 2013


   I’ll write a poem, yes, but not a story.
   I’d rather think of rhymes that fit—like gory, glory;
   But making plots and themes and characters,
   Imagining that this or that occurs,
   Seems counter to the way my mind is made;
   Yet tight parameters of verse obeyed,
   A shapely sonnet neatly turned and tuned
   Is what I do.  My tale would be lampooned.


Sunday, September 8, 2013


(in the mode of Beowulf)

               In the days of the Dragon’s reign
                       nothing but danger               
                awaited those unwary ones
                          who wandered to its lair
                and spying its treasure hord
               sparkling with gems and gold                
                lusted for luxury,
               longed to possess               
                what men and not monsters
               should admire and maintain.                
                Yet none proved so stealthy
                          that he might deceive              
                the vigilant fang-fighter
               furious to ward              
                what once he had garnered
               from the mead halls of Geats.               
                Death and dismemberment
               swiftly descended               
                on reckless mauraders
               who ransacked his cave:              
                Woe to the wayward,
               waylaid by luxury               
                since the consequence of coveting
               is of no small account.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Nemerov #2


Friday, September 6, 2013


       Tell me the story of that incident,
       The day the baby squirrels fell from the tree,
       Or tell me of some other sad event
       That turned around and ended happily.

       Or, if you must, recount or just make up
       Some tragic accident or episode
       As when two lovers quarrel and break up,
       Or tell a tale in any other mode—

       But tell, narrate, or spin a cunning yarn
       That puts me in a spell entranced by words:
       Take me to some mysterious mountain tarn
       And make me see and hear exotic birds,

            But make it so—beginning, middle, end—
            That I’ll believe it, though it’s just pretend.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Nemerov #6


Monday, September 2, 2013


    What could be harder than to get one’s mind
    Around the global problems that our race
    Has wrought by being selfishly inclined—
    Reckless, arrogant, devoid of grace?

    For all the urgings of philosophy
    And exhortations by the pulpiteers,
    We clearly generate more misery
    Inciting now Apocalyptic fears—

    But also the reverse: a noble dream:
    A Global Wisdom Culture we create
    By changing hearts and minds that then redeem
    Us from our lunacy and change our fate.

         That culture can be consciously designed
         We must believe—by sapience refined.


Sunday, September 1, 2013


      “How Wise is that?”—the question to be asked
      Of all of our decisions, great and small,
      For Providence and prudence both have tasked
      Us to respect the benefit of all.

      “How wise is that?  What value does it serve
      That we should rightly aim to realize?
      Does it bring vigor, valor, vim or verve
      To life—some indicators of what’s wise?”

      But is there then no place for trivial
      Activities, for heedless, thoughtless fun?
      Is dour the way and not convivial?
      How is the race our race is running won?

           Of all wise values, there is none above
           The greatest to pursue—and that is love.