Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    The essence of all poetry is sound,
    Just as it is with music, but in words
    That resonate with sense, sometimes profound,
    Sometimes as blithe as songs of springtime birds.

    The lyric poet, most especially,
    Intoning tuneful words that tell a tale
    Will strum his lyre to accompany
    His song, enough to charm a nightingale.

    But modern verse has somehow lost its verve
    By craving liberty from ancient rules—
    Was that because these Newbies lost their nerve
    To learn their trade and master ancient rules?

         Now, sad to say, eschewing beat and rhyme,
         They’ve lost the ancient Way to the sublime.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013


    I am by natural bent a sonneteer
    Who trips along my way iambically
    In five-beat lines I subtly engineer
    To seem as casual as their sense is clear.

    That art which hides its artifice is best,
    Seeming spontaneous and unrehearsed
    As if each line the Lyric Muse had blessed,
    While envious rival scribblers feel they’re cursed.

    What they don’t know is that facility
    And fluency develop over time,
    And that by sitting daily, faithfully
    To muse and play with meter and with rhyme

         At last a capability will come
         That feels like inspiration as you strum.


Sunday, October 27, 2013


    You have your life, however long or short,
    And many ways to choose as you go on;
    But at the end, assume you’ll face a court
    Who’ll ask you sternly to reflect upon

    All you have done and who you have become
    And how you’ve used your opportunities
    To serve the world and shun opprobrium:
    Will you stand tall, or fall upon your knees?

    Well, as for me, I hope my loved ones will
    Report I’ve cherished and cared for them all,
    And that professionally I did fulfill
    My charge to serve my students, great and small.

         But last, I hope some verses may survive,
         The best my wit has labored to contrive.


Saturday, October 26, 2013


      Where does my mind go when I lie asleep?
      I know it’s somewhere, for just as I wake
      the shards of it are lying in a heap,
      a broken image where I cannot make
      out any longer what it just portrayed . . .
      or like a cast of actors who’ve just run
      off stage, no longer in the roles they played,
      the drama they were making now undone.

      Perhaps to find out where and why it was
      my dream has fled, I then arise and come
      downstairs to sit like this to write, because
      I’m near unconscious depths that I might plumb
      discovering more about my vagrant mind
      and how my heart and brain may be aligned.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013


      Our old dream was prosperity for all,
      which meant we’d get to buy a lot of stuff,
      but now we need another dream that small
      is beautiful and little is enough.

      Not so austere, perhaps, as was Thoreau
      on Walden Pond, his lifestyle simplified,
      attending to his bean vines row by row,
      his spiritual needs wholly supplied.

      Yet one by one, we need to change our culture,
      wise up to what will save us from despair
      and emulate the sparrow, not the vulture,
      treating the world with kindness and with care,

           Acknowledging our culture now’s insane,
           our new imperative must be: “Sustain!”


Monday, October 21, 2013


In great Queene Glorianna’s noble court
   When Redcrosse Knight was but a lowly page,
   Being small and frail he was the butt of sport
   And mercilessly teased until a mage
   Predicted that he would in time engage
   A horrid dragon in its den and slay
   A slue of noxious dragonnets in rage.
   From that time forth, they showed him due respect

And watched him grow to manhood, broad shouldered 
                                                                       and erect.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

    I’m sitting now atop a mountain peak
    Of memories that’s seven decades high
    And aiming to find one or two that speak
    Beseechingly in hopes that I’ll comply
    By recollecting them in poetry,
    Since memories, dreams, reflections are the stuff
    From which all verse is made and comes to be,
    Refined from one’s experience in the rough.

    The image coming now is a small room,
    A darkroom in the attic of my youth
    Where I developed photos in the gloom,
    Hoping I’d captured some revealing truth.
         So is it now: I sit in pre-dawn dark
         While waiting for apt images to spark.


Saturday, October 19, 2013


     November’s the right month for Nemerov,
     the letters of his name subsumed within
     it’s name.  That’s when I send some sonnets off
     to his contest I yearly aim to win.

     Though once I took a seminar with him
     on writing verse, and he approved my skill
     more than the others, I hope the interim
     of decades since has raised me higher still.

     I’ve lately won two other contests, but
     no other honor than a Nemerov
     will demonstrate at last I’ve made the cut
     and end the scorn of those inclined to scoff.

          The time I give to writing poetry
          may be remembered by posterity.


Friday, October 18, 2013


    What subject is there now of epic scale
        To which a Spenser might address his skill
        By fashioning a bold adventurous tale
        Replete with challengers and dauntless will
        That every gaping auditor may thrill?
        Perhaps he’d be a Zuckerberg or Gates
        For who’s more venturesome than Mark or Bill,
        For whose ideas the eager world awaits?
    Our hero for today is one who best creates.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

 Nemerov #3


Monday, October 14, 2013


    For us to own the peace, the love, the joy
    We deeply yearn for means we must deploy
    All means within our hearts to quell the fears
    Of foes: love them and make them all our dears.


Sunday, October 13, 2013


  A little before dawn he’d sit and muse,
  reclining in his half-cocked easy chair,
  his lamp unlit—attent to inner views
  until a phrase emerged from who knows where
  that set him on his way: he lit the light,
  a low-watt bulb by his left hand, his pad
  upon a lapboard, his pen held in his right,
  knowing that now he’d go a little mad—
  the cork was out, his brain began to fizz,
  and efflorescent images appeared—
  were they from somewhere else or were they his?
  But then the spell had passed, his mind was cleared
  and he looked at the page with wondrous awe
  amazed and in delight with what he saw.



                   Our little doggie, Tig,
                   has learned from Gyp, who’s big,
                   how to acquire street scents
                   by sniffing at a fence
                   or following a smell
                   of chicken bones from hell
                   or scarfing a squashed worm,
                   enough to make you squirm—
                   yet nosegation is
                   how dogs perform their biz.


What if it were our object to grow wise,
The aim of all humanity through time?
What is it then we’d come to realize
That makes our worldly wandering sublime?

Wherein lie healing, health and wholesomeness,
Prerequisites for our beatitude?
What virtues would a sapient life express,
Such as our greatest sages would conclude?

I think they’d say we must see in each other
Someone whose needs and ours are just the same,
Each one being held a sister or a brother
Dearly beloved, for loving is our aim.

     This world will have grown wise when we conclude
     That love’s the way to find beatitude.


Saturday, October 12, 2013


           A mirror or reflecting pond gives back
           An image of the object it confronts.

           A mind reflecting seeks what it may lack;
           No passive looking glass, it keenly hunts.


Sunday, October 6, 2013


   From Shakespeare’s time to ours, or from Plato’s
   have we progressed in our mentality?
   Not so.  But after many hundred years, what grows
   and offers hope is our technology.

   Although our brains remain as fallible
   and limited as in all ages past,
   computers now and robots may yet pull
   us toward a wise maturity at last.

   As models and scenarios play out
   the likely outcomes of this choice or that,
   we can decide our courses with less doubt
   and make decisions like a diplomat.

        Yet though we now use intellectual tools,
        is that enough to keep from being fools?


Saturday, October 5, 2013


   When you draw near your end, when that may be,
   and you reflect on all you’ve been and done,
   what thoughts will bring you most serenity
   as you observe the setting of your sun?

   Will you recount your stock portfolio
   or recollect the mileage on your car,
   regretting places where you’ll never go
   or that you never wished upon a star?

   What is it that will leave you most content
   when you at last appraise your bucket list
   and weigh what is your best accomplishment
   and don’t regret whatever else you missed.

        Well, as for me, I hope to realize
        that, by the end, I‘ve finally grown wise.


Friday, October 4, 2013


Imagine that within your likely lifespan, owing to the many challenges now facing the well-being of Earth’s various species, including us, a new and viable worldview evolves that saves us from impending ecocide.

What emerges is nothing less than a world-wide cultural revolution, the upshot of which comes to be called “The Global Wisdom Culture.”

Imagine yourself to be one of the wise inventors, one of the “cultural creatives,” who work to envision and institute a cultural revolution grounded in values that are viable (as opposed to the modernist ideology: “Greed is good”).

As a committed architect of an emerging Global Wisdom Culture, imagine creatively how we humans will behave differently in a more enlightened and sustainable society.  As a cultural change agent yourself, what wise values will you live by?


Wednesday, October 2, 2013


    “Is there an afterlife, do you believe?”
    She asked just after we had gone to bed,
    Hoping from nothingness to find reprieve,
    That death is simply “passing on” instead.

    I could not say.  I do not know.  So I
    Replied, “Let’s just take one life at a time—
    Be sure we’ve fully lived before we die:
    Wasting this opportunity’s a crime.”

    Now in the dawn, in afterthought, I’d add
    That life and death are both such mysteries,
    Presuming we can know is simply mad,
    But there’s no harm supposing what we please.

         Why not let our imaginations rule?
         Supposing what you like, you’d be no fool.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013


The reason I employ this rack of rhyme
and meter is not to torture my poor brain,
but curiously to reach for the sublime
and seem to do so with no sweat or strain.

But more than that, there is a liberty
in this constraint, quite paradoxical:
with fewer choices left, I’m now set free
from multiplicity—I’ve less to mull.

That’s from my point of view, but now from yours:
are you not happier to traipse and trip
along a jaunty path that now allures
you with the mystery of Serendip?

     Who knows where you might go, or where you’ll end
     when on this mode of magic you depend?