Monday, March 31, 2014


    It’s one thing to compose, as Shakespeare did,
    A sonnet in but fourteen sonorous lines,
    A page-long scheme that’s worked out on a grid,
    Which constant practice readily refines;
    But then to dream up dramas, five acts long
    The two-hours’ traffic of his wooden stage,
    To entertain his varied, boisterous throng,
    Required the inspiration of a mage
    Who conjures spirits from the vasty deep
    And fills their mouths with splendid eloquence
    Urging his auditors to laugh and weep,
    Making the sound an echo to the sense.
         Who, since he wrote, has ever shown such wit
         Or honeyed eloquence so meet and fit?


Saturday, March 29, 2014


for David C. Korten

         What would it mean for humans to advance
         beyond whatever progress we have made
         through history to dispel the trance
         of recklessness we always have displayed?

         So long we’ve striven for preeminence
         through dominance and exploitative greed,
         the wreckage of our history is immense—
         Earth urges us to find another creed:

         a kinder, gentler, true philosophy,
         communitarian in principle,
         designed to serve the whole with charity
         and not exalt the individual.

              An earth community, serene and whole,
              appears to be our evolution’s goal.


Friday, March 28, 2014

NEMEROV 2014 #5


      We are a dangerous experiment
      The Universe has curiously wrought
      To see if something so innately bent
      Can finally and happily be taught
      Through dangerous trial and error to grow wise,
      Which means to go beyond the cruelty
      And conflict of our past and realize
      Compassionate rapport and harmony.
      Like “sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh,”
      Our kind has yet to master harmony,
      And what might be high drama looks like farce
      Or worse—a universal tragedy.
           But still we may succeed and happily mend,
           If we take wisdom as our highest end.


Thursday, March 27, 2014


  If Shakespeare were alive, how would he write
  today, possessing the same intellect
  and gift for words, and spiritual insight,
  and would he have the same profound effect?

  I am afraid he’d find no audience
  who’d tolerate the liberties he’d take
  in shaping language eloquent and dense
  that to our unschooled ears would sound opaque.

  And yet his classic plays are still revered,
  still studied in our schools and colleges,
  and over centuries they have endeared
  themselves to us—we know what Hamlet says!

       So long as it be trippingly performed,
       our minds will lighten and our hearts be warmed.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014


        The more I contemplate the vasty deep
         of the whole universe—or some now say:
         the multiverse—the macrocosmic sweep
         in all its seeming infinite array,

         the more assuredly I am inclined
         to think it not a random artifact
         of happenstance, but rather that a mind
         designs this scheme with subtlety and tact.

         Good Orderly Direction might translate
         the acronym of GOD impersonally
         to indicate a process no less great
         than some imagined, awesome deity.

              However we envision such a cause,
              the wonder of it all must give us pause.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014


          Once more our paradigms begin to shift:
          the premises of science are adrift
          as outlines of a bold Akashic age
          suggest philosophy’s reached a new stage
          where here is there, or may be anywhere,
          now nonlocality is in the air.

          “The universe seems rather like a thought,”
          remarked Einstein: not physically wrought,
          but mentally imagined into being,
          then afterwards susceptible to seeing.

          Thus out of mind all matter would emerge,
          the product of some cosmogenic urge,
          then into mind again might disappear
          and instantly, across the void, appear.


Sunday, March 23, 2014


    This little dog has quickly learned she can
    depend on us to service all her needs,
    and in return she seems to have a plan
    to service ours, and thoroughly succeeds.

    While we will feed her, brush her, give her walks,
    caress and cuddle her to show our care,
    her tacit body language all but talks,
    reciprocating love she means to share.

    How curious it is, when we pet her,
    expressing the deep fondness that we feel,
    it’s as if there were magic in her fur
    to make us feel the same as she must feel:

         Such is the natural reciprocity
         love generates, that binds and sets us free.



     Our little Tiggy’s tummy is upset.
     It gurgles as she lies between our heads,
     and though the sun has not arisen yet,
     I rise to see if we have any meds
     to settle her poor stomach, or some food
     she’ll eat instead, the better remedy—
     though when like this, she isn’t in the mood
     to savor what she’d gobble normally.
     Now, having turned down tasty offerings,
     she lies beside me in my writing chair
     as the first robin of the morning sings,
     and oddly now I hear no gurgling there.
          I hope when she awakens from her snooze,
          when offered food, she won’t again refuse.


Saturday, March 22, 2014


      How could it be, from all we’ve come to know,
      that we are here, with our capacity
      to apprehend, to comprehend, to grow
      beyond our species’ reckless infancy?

      That is the question which we must pursue
      to know our purpose in the universe,
      to learn what humans are designed to do,
      for knowledge is a boon and not a curse.

      It’s clear there is an order implicate
      in the expanding cosmos that defines
      the latent universe it will beget
      according to its own covert designs.

           And we are here, the progeny of Earth,
           to give that Universal Spirit birth.


      Since life has happened here, it’s happened there,
      and there, and there—just point into the sky
      some starlit night: it could be anywhere;
      the question we can’t answer yet is Why?

      We know enough of cosmogenesis
      to reckon that our universe was birthed
      in one colossal burst of heavenly bliss,
      although the cosmos was as yet unfurled:

      That process would take eons to unfold
      as space expanded and matter was distilled
      from energy in ways that seem controlled
      by some arcane design we might call Willed.

           To contemplate the cosmos would seem odd
           without inferring it the work of God.


Friday, March 21, 2014


    My pre-dawn reverie, while birds begin to sing,
    Stirs me as well into the mode of song,
    Eager to find out what the Muse may bring
    That in an aubade rightly might belong—

    Which should, according to the birds, be praise:
    Their songs seem celebrations of the light
    Just now appearing in its faintest rays,
    Which soon will bring the glorious world to light.

    What is it then our praise should celebrate
    But life itself, the cosmic mystery,
    And consciousness that in ourselves grows great
    Enough to know it knows more than we see.

         So let us then not only praise but seek
         Such insight that in us may prove unique.


Sunday, March 16, 2014


While Alexander Pope once called us human beings, “the glory, jest and riddle of the world,” we need now to add another epithet: We are the cancer of this planet.

Because of the rapid proliferation of our numbers (now over seven billion) and because of our ravenous appetites for unrenewable resources and our predations upon other now dwindling species, the Earth, if it has a sane mind of its own, might well be thinking how to rid itself of us, a once-promising but now monstrous experiment gone tragically awry.

Were we now to see clearly and penitently our sins against Gaia, how would we best reform our behaviors to live within the parameters of sustainability on a flourishing planet?  What must we stop doing, what must we begin doing, and what principles and motives should govern our behaviors?

Most obviously, we must first learn to live much more lightly and ecologically.  We must develop and live by a morality of simplicity instead of extravagance, cultivating the virtue of doing well with less.  Whereas the premise of our present economy is to acquire more, more and more, we have to change our hearts and minds about that.  The slogan “Less is more” is a paradox we must master—to “live simply so that others can simply live,” as another little-heeded saying urges.

Avaricious materialism as a primary value must give way to a spiritual perspective that subordinates self-centered acquisition and self-aggrandizement to an ethic of sharing Earth’s resources equitably and generously, honoring need above greed, cooperation over competition.  “The survival of the fittest” was not Darwin’s last word about evolution, and in later, wiser years, he came to honor the principle of cooperation above that of competition as the principle that governs a thriving ecology.

The master predator species on Earth must soon transform itself into the protector and preserver of Earth’s marvelous and sacred ecology.  Who are we to ruin the only living planet we know of in the cosmos?

What higher purpose could a human being have than to contribute to the thriving of life on Earth?

One current name for such an enterprise is “the creation of a global wisdom culture,” a notion that summons all human beings to become “cultural creatives,” persons devoted to developing life-ways that respect and protect the flourishing of Earth’s biosphere and that promote the advancement of human values and practices so as to evolve ourselves intentionally beyond conditioned inclinations to harm and dominate others.

Rather, we must learn to respect others and revere all human beings’ potential to grow wiser: more knowledgeable, discerning, value-driven, capable and effectual.

To do so should be the highest aim of education, higher education most especially.



I assume this:

It is the goal and duty of each human being, each Homo sapiens, to grow sapient, to grow wise, as wise as possible, in both understanding and behavior.

To be wise means to live by values that promote the well-being of life on Earth, deemed innately precious, even cosmically precious, a wonder mysteriously wrought by the universe worthy of thriving and evolving.

That is well enough to say generically, but the devil is in the details.  Our human challenge is to decide, minute by minute, to behave wisely, beneficently, promoting good and avoiding harm, being canny enough to reckon what actions will bring the best results in particular circumstances.  To do that well takes careful guidance, training and practice. 

One grows wiser gradually.


Saturday, March 15, 2014


   What is the scope of human consciousness?
   Is it coterminous with everything
   Throughout the universe, the cosmic ring?
   Those gifted in the mystic arts say yes:
   All things there are serve always to express
   The cosmic consciousness from which they spring,
   While all about them clouds of glory cling,
   The sight of which true mystics will confess.

   This Universe that births us still provides
   The nourishment by which our souls can grow
   Once we attune ourselves to our true source
   Where all essential sustenance resides,
   For only that way may we surely know
   Our soulful destination and our course.


Monday, March 10, 2014


    One benefit of my poor memory
    Is that I get to write a poem again,
    Forgetting what I’d written previously,
    But going then where I have never been.

    The subject or the issue is the same,
    Yet once the beat and rhymes begin anew,
    I find I’m chasing after novel game
    Or following breadcrumbs the Muse may strew,

    So off I go on quite a different track
    With no idea where my verse will end,
    For what’s ahead is hidden in the black
    That lightens only as I round each bend

         And, rhyme by rhyme, I find my novel course
         Revealed, it seems, by some assisting source.


Saturday, March 8, 2014


        “All of man’s problems come from his inability
        to sit quietly in a room alone.”
                                                       —Blaise Pascal

I have the ability—even the habitual desire—“to sit quietly in a room alone,” as I am doing just now, and regularly do so every morning for an hour or more, either musing or writing, poems most often.

Does that then mean I have no problems?  Not objectively speaking, if “problems” means difficult situations to address and resolve through thought, reflection and consequent action.  However, Pascal may be implying that such a reflective problem-solving process works to forefend problems.  In that case, I agree.

Or does Pascal mean that our problems are generated by our frenetic disposition that acts without thinking reflectively, but acts impulsively, inconsiderately (which literally means “not sitting with”)?  That seems right to me—as in the paradoxical saying, “Don’t just do something; sit there.”

Thus I find that the sense of Pascal’s sweeping diagnosis is sound: careful consideration prevents and resolves problems. 

Yet sitting with others may work even better.


Friday, March 7, 2014


   Once when the scales dropped from my eyes and I
   Could see the Cosmos in entirety
   And feel it as a spiritual ally,
   I was still unprepared for how to be.

   That taste of honey woke an appetite
   For what I was not ready yet to eat,
   Though still an intimation of delight
   That might in time grow wondrous and complete.

   While decades now have opened more my mind,
   Bringing more knowledge and experience,
   And I have grown more spiritually inclined,
   I have not yet returned to that immense

        Epiphany of cosmic consciousness
        That beyond measure constitutes success.

“My body of a sudden blazed;
 And twenty minutes more or less
 It seemed so great my happiness
 That I was blesséd and could bless.”

—W. B. Yeats


"There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man cannot have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind."

—Jonathan Edwards


Thursday, March 6, 2014


   It’s mind that matters, not the opposite,
   For what comes first is immaterial,
   As quantum science says, and Holy Writ:
   It’s in the spell of words that all things dwell.
        The universe, said Einstein, seems a thought
        From which all things are subsequently wrought.

   The poet, too, participates in this
   Discovering that a poem has a mind,
   A will that keeps the poet from going amiss
   When its and his intentions are aligned:
        If he complies with urges all unsought,
        The poem manifests just as it ought.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014


  A couplet’s not the hardest form to do,
  Yet if well done may outlive even you,
  For if your craft has made a well-built meme,
  Then it may haunt hereafter like a dream
  Passed on from mouth to mouth perpetually
  Till lodged at last within eternity.

  So Geoffrey Chaucer showed, the father of
  Our English poetry, who soared above
  All rivals in his craft with his keen ear
  For beat and rhymes that magically appear,
  Although it is his tales that most enchant,
  Which nothing made hereafter will supplant.

       One couplet more and this poor verse is done
       That, though no winner, shows the game is fun.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014


             Of ghosts and spirits, angels, demons, I
             Am no believer—that’s all fantasy,
             Pie-in-the-sky I’m not inclined to buy:
             However hard, I’ll take reality.

             What science says is so, that I’ll believe,
             Well tested by its methods to be true.
             While others to old folderol may cleave,
             It’s only fact to which belief is due.

             But then, imagination may escape
             From the assaults of sad realities,
             Allowing our deft fancies to reshape
             What is into new possibilities.

                  Since even what is so is malleable,
                  The power of fantasy may not be null.


Sunday, March 2, 2014


    However eagerly we might believe
    That human beings are basically kind,
    There’ll come a time when everyone will grieve
    To recognize we’re otherwise designed:

    That envy, anger, gluttony and greed,
    As well as lust and sloth, but mainly pride
    Can captivate our willing souls and lead
    To heinous deeds that Goodness can’t abide.

    Is there no antidote for such disease,
    No way to cure this innate malady,
    No key that from such abject bondage frees,
    No absolution from just penalty?

         No way but by confession and remorse,
         Then seeking to align with goodness’ Source.


Saturday, March 1, 2014


        Each morning, early, I go in to fish,
        not out, beside a pond or nearby lake,
        but into my subconscious mind and wish
        for rhymes and subject matter I can make
        into a poem that  finally
will seem
        as cogent and coherent as if made
        to order from some pre-existing theme
        that, by the end, is artfully displayed.
        The truth, however, is quite otherwise,
        since I have no foreknowing where my lines
        will go, and one by one I must devise
        my route within these rigorous confines.
             When things go just as well as I might wish,
             I can be happy that I’ve caught my fish.



for Madison Smartt Bell

   If it’s not real for you, the writer, then
   no readers either will themselves believe
   the fiction you have flowing from your pen:
   stillborn will be the stories you conceive.

   No, your imagination must become
   intimate with every aspect
   of your invented world and even plumb
   the depths of souls for readers to connect.

   Said Frost, “A poem must not mean but be”;
   just so for fiction, working to compel
   its readers to perceive reality
   where only words exist, casting their spell.

       If “acting is believing,” as they say,
       likewise for writing, when you’ve found your way.



    “This is the One True Faith—believe as we
    or you’ll be lost for all eternity,
    unless you now whole-heartedly subscribe
    to be a member of our Holy Tribe
    and learn the tenets of our Sacred Faith
    obeying all commands our Leader saith,
    lest you be punished with oblivion
    when your sad, hopeless earthly days are done.”

    “I thank you, sir and madam, for your tract,
    but I prefer to put my faith in fact,
    accordingly as science shows the way
    and not some old mythology obey.”

         And thus the ancient quarrel still plays out,
         as science puts credulity in doubt.