Sunday, November 30, 2014


  I am, I guess, a transcendentalist
  And may have been since reading Emerson
  And in my freshman year at Yale being blissed
  By something mystical not yet undone.

  Though long since faded in intensity,
  That ecstasy still echoes in my mind,
  Enthusing me with a propensity
  To seek the source by which we are designed.

  “One Mind” some name it now, as well as “Source,”
  Depersonalizing our traditional “God,”
  Which nonetheless designs the cosmic course,
  If not exactly ruling with a rod.

       These days I feel it most when writing verse,
       Inspired by a medium that’s terse.


Friday, November 28, 2014


 Beyond what any other creature knows,
 We human beings imagine and suppose,
 For we can wonder, ponder and surmise,
 And, in rare instances, we might grow wise.

 Such sapience is promised in our name
 Though all too few arrive at such acclaim—
 Yet anyone may set it as a goal,
 Achieving which amounts to growing whole.

 Perhaps, though, such an end should not be sought,
 For even if such wisdom could be taught,
 Would not that mean the human journey’s done
 With our achieving lasting benison?

      No, it’s drama that we thrive on in this life:
      Conflict and competition, stress and strife.


Thursday, November 27, 2014


    Give thanks for living in this universe
    And thanks for knowing what a miracle
    Life is on Earth, a planet that can nurse
    And nurture life, both plant and animal.

    But whom are we to thank for all of this
    Good orderly direction cosmically,
    That everything’s not merely hit-or-miss
    But manifests a purpose we can see?

    Good Orderly Direction’s acronym
    Is GOD, which we personify to name
    Someone to praise, giving all thanks to Him—
    That Source from which the universe once came.

         The force that through the green fuse flows
         Is that from which our Universe arose.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014


 “Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d;
 The glory, jest and riddle of the world”:
 So Alexander Pope once summed us up,
 And any thinking person would say, “Yup,
 He’s nailed us there, nor have we learned since then
 To act more sanely and behave like men
 Not children with no sense of consequence:
 Bone headed, narrow minded, dumb and dense.
 But now, so much more powerful, we must
 At last outgrow our envy, pride and lust,
 And all the rest of our inherent errors
 Endangering confused, wayward wayfarers.
 Perhaps with this analysis by Pope
 We’ll rectify our ways—our only hope.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014


     Eyes closed, the poet stares into the void,
     The unformed sea of roiling consciousness
     Where everything potential is deployed,
     While seeking some coherence in this mess,
     For something out of nothing may appear
     Amazingly, which he, alert, might see,
     The notion or the image growing clear
     As words give birth to its reality.
     Just as, somehow, mentality arose
     From energy and matter still inchoate,
     Likewise an unshaped composition grows
     Within the consciousness of a blessed poet.
          Therefore he roams and ranges in his mind,
          Uncertain but still sure of what he’ll find.


Monday, November 24, 2014


A young boy from the neighborhood came by
To sell hand-crafted baubles that he’d made,
Woven from plastic threads—a kid not shy
To tout the traits of what he had in trade:

How this one would hold keys, that be a ring,
Another might a nifty bracelet make—
“See how it stretches on elastic string!
It’s guaranteed to widen but won’t break.”

I bought a couple do-dads for a buck,
Not yet remembering when I’d done the same
Thing as a boy, going door to door with pluck:
Touting hand-woven pot-holders was my game.

     These days it’s verse I weave from sundry sounds.
     Careful to keep my meters within bounds.


Sunday, November 23, 2014


     When we grow wise, then we shall realize
     That double sapience in our own name
     By following what reasoning best applies
     To justify the merits of our claim,

     And more than simply knowing that we know,
     We’ll do those deeds that circumspection leads
     Us to perform that set all hearts aglow
     Because they satisfy our truest needs.

     Thus wisdom’s that potentiality
     Inherent in the nature of our kind
     Which manifests its full reality
     When wit and will and heart are well aligned.

          Before too late, I trust we’ll recognize
          That our true destiny is growing wise.


Saturday, November 22, 2014


     Doc Martin now seems resolute to leave
     Portwenn, shut down his practice and begin
     A surgical career and never grieve,
     Exchanging rural peace for London’s din.

     That his Louisa soon will birth their child
     Does not deter him from this enterprise,
     Since his ambition can’t be reconciled
     With motives he has yet to recognize.

     The truth is that he loves her and Portwenn
     And that he’s needed more in this small town
     Than any other place he’s ever been—
     Despite his curtness and perpetual frown.

          It’s time the Doc is finally reconciled
          And settles down with his new wife and child.


Friday, November 21, 2014


for Copthorne Macdonald’s

   If you’d be wise, then you would realize
   Those virtues that a prudent person owns:
   Compassion that secures our human ties,
   Humility that modulates our tones,

   The peacefulness of equanimity,
   Wonder, joy, humility, insight,
   Sound judgment, vision, self-sufficiency,
   That generosity which breeds delight,

   A positive and up-beat attitude,
   Discernment to distinguish what is sound,
   A disposition to show gratitude,
   An oriented sense of where you’re bound.

        There are yet further virtues to attain,
        But these should do to keep you safe and sane.


Thursday, November 20, 2014


   Smart we are, and clever to extremes,
   Capable of hatching many schemes
  That benefit our ill-considered aims—
  Until our machinations end in flames.

  There’s something we have yet to cultivate
  To lead our species to a happier fate
  Than that catastrophe we now foresee:
  The wisdom to ensure our liberty.

  For all our science is not sapience:
  Mere know-how should not dictate our intents,
  But well-considered values set a course
  That leads to happiness and not remorse.

       We’ll know at last that end for which we’re meant
       When Homo sapiens grows sapient.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014


      Nineteen degrees it is in Buffalo,
      A city that’s notorious for snow,
      But yesterday’s was such a super-doosie
      It made a roof-top shoveller feel woosie—
      Imagining a place like Florida
      Or somewhere South that’s even torrider,
      Resolving that if he had a vacation,
      He’d join the other Northerners’ invasion
      Of the ever-beckoning Sunshine State,
      Imagining a rowboat, line and bait,
      And basking in the lazy afternoon
      While whistling a happy little tune,
          “You are my sunshine,” and feeling grand—
          So glad to trade in snow for palms and sand.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014


    What was it many years ago I said
    By way of sorrow, love and gratitude
    To my mother who lay dying in her bed
    To thank her for the life she had pursued?

    Whatever words they were, I know she knew
    That we, her children, loved her for her care
    And kindliness and dedication to
    Our thriving, generous in equal share.

    Too soon our father died, some years before,
    Leaving her with two children still in school,
    A doleful situation to deplore,
    And yet solicitude was her first rule.

         If there’s a heaven where loved ones re-meet,
         She’ll be the first we children mean to greet.


Monday, November 17, 2014


  The greatest mystery of all is mind,
  By which, some say, reality’s designed,
  As great philosophers have long opined,
  And holy souls ecstatically divined.

  How might we surely know if we’re aligned
  With that by which our essence is defined,
  Or gone the way of much of humankind
  Who have our sacred purposes maligned?

  When from all waywardness we have resigned
  Leaving our wicked tendencies behind,
  Having our souls absolved and minds refined,
  We shall to righteousness no more be blind.

       Once faithfulness and love are intertwined,
       We know our hearts and souls will be enshrined.


Sunday, November 16, 2014


       What is it constitutes a miracle?
       Well, first of all, it isn’t dull
       But rather, something extraordinary
       And therefore likely to be very scary,
       As when something appears out of the blue,
       Materializing right in front of you,
       And even more if it’s just what you need,
       And maybe prayed for, helping you succeed
       In some important venture you’ve begun,
       Which without aid like this could not be done.
       In such a way a poem like this arrives,
       Nor is it ever finished otherwise:
            There needs a special spirit to enthuse
            Such verse: which is the office of the Muse.


Saturday, November 15, 2014


       Of those words one might rhyme with love,
       The most conventional is dove;

       One more old-fashioned would be glove
       From times when gents were nicknamed Gov.

       The least appropriate is shove.

       Less likely than all those above
       Is one you’d not be thinking of.



           If there’s something that needs to be said,

           I’ll attend to the Muse in my head
                        Who will direct my pen
                        To write it down—then
           I’ll be free to go back to my bed.


Friday, November 14, 2014


     Although his poems are not regular,
     Composed of neatly measured rhyming lines,
     His attitude is so avuncular
     You come to see he has other designs
     By which to cast a true poetic spell,
     Foremost of which: a story line that lures
     You in, hooks you and makes you want to dwell
     In this charmed space as long as it endures.
     Not William Collins or just W. J.,
     He goes unstuffily as merely Billy,
     And when he reads, folks always want to stay
     For what’s profound or what’s just simply silly.
          Here is a Poet Laureate with charm
          Who can the fustiest of us disarm.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

    We’ve launched a deep-space probe into the void
    And landed it upon an asteroid
    Then anchored it to that small sailing rock
    Where it can start its mission: taking stock
    Of things in the vicinity of Mars,
    Getting a different view of distant stars,
    And warning us perhaps of coming danger—
    A solitary scout, like the Lone Ranger.
    But wait, I’ve got it wrong.  Now I recall:
    Our target was a comet, after all,
    Not asteroid, the kind that has a tail
    And leaves behind a grand illustrious trail.
         No matter which, this project we’ve designed
         Confirms the marvel of the human mind.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014


          The greatest mystery
          Is how we came to be—
          Or, for that matter, anything at all:
          From nothing something comes
          Starts adding to its sums,
          The upshot of what started very small:
          What came on the first try
          Began to multiply—
          O, may those numbers rise and never fall!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014


      My mind is flying, seeking for a perch—
      Perhaps down there, the steeple of that church,
      Where I might sing a Godly hymn of praise
      While others their grand halleluiahs raise—

      Or there with those birds lined along that wire
      Perhaps to sing an aubade in their choir,
      For every morning at the dawn’s first light
      My Muse (I’ll say) inspires me to write,

      Which seems to me the clearest evidence
      Of something in the universe immense,
      An aperture to something grand beyond,
      Inviting me each morning to respond.

           Should I neglect this sacred daily duty,
           I’d lose my chance to shape a little beauty.


Monday, November 10, 2014


       I looked on Wikipedia to find
       A certain needed piece of information,
       Which brought another inquiry to mind
       Leading to another site’s location,
       And this in turn provoked another query—
       And so it went for hours after that,
       My mind caught in a vortex, growing weary
       Wandering in this virtual habitat.
            I then searched Wikipedia with a click
            And found that wiki-wiki (ha!) means quick.


Saturday, November 8, 2014


    Doc Martin is averse not only to
    The sight of blood, but making his face smile.
    Not that his busy days are filled with rue,
    It’s simply that good humor’s not his style.

    He’s all about just doing what must be done:
    So many patients with their maladies
    Must be addressed, all business and no fun:
    Complaints, disease and sundry injuries—

    But much amusement, too, at least for us,
    Who wryly watch how things can go awry,
    Yet recognize they’re not so ominous
    As seems to Doc and know the reason why:

         We know the gods who rule his world are after
         Not misery and grief, but healing laughter.


Friday, November 7, 2014


 When stating out to write a verse like this,
 The formal kind, with meter and with rhyme,
 You’ll find the process rather hit or miss,
 The upshot comical and not sublime.

 It’s true, the masters of the form succeed,
 Like Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, Pope and Frost,
 But lesser talents now wish to be freed,
 Hence classic practices are nearly lost.

 A few of us, however, labor on,
 Striving to keep the antique arts alive,
 Reviving what with age was growing wan,
 Still finding honey in this ancient hive.

      Remember that a sonnet is a song,
      And at the best, it makes you sing along.


Thursday, November 6, 2014


     If you believe in Jesus, Prince of Peace,
     Then surely you’ll have naught to do with war
     And do all that you can to bring surcease
     To what the Son of God would most deplore.

     Those onward-marching soldiers in the song
     Are but a metaphor ineptly framed,
     Who should have been a gaily-dancing throng
     Who celebrate the lions Jesus tamed.

     The lion and the lamb lie down as friends
     No longer seen as predator and prey
     And in this new-found concord make amends,
     Pledging from such repose they’ll never stray.

          When Earth is cleansed of violence and war,
          Then we’ll reclaim the Edenic world of yore.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014


        As this day hovers between dark and light,
        I’m sitting here, just waiting for a bite,
        A nibble on my morning’s line of thought,
        Sensing there’s a poem to be caught:

        That could be it right there, and I might stop,
        And happily watch my small fry flip and flop,
        But something urges me to cast again:
        This verse has not yet reached its last amen;
        It wants to sing its full soliloquy
        And realize the grand capacity
        That lies within a sonnet’s longer reach,
        And so again I ardently beseech
        My ever-generous and compliant Muse
        To spark my flame, and she will not refuse.


Monday, November 3, 2014

NEMEROV 2014 #6


         I do not know and therefore can’t believe
         What others in their ignorance conceive
         As true by virtue of Authority,
         Or simply wishing what they hope must be.

         Such superstition cannot stand the test
         Of Truth, however loudly it’s professed,
         No matter the alleged Authorities
         In whom no True Believer disbelieves.

         And yet what is the harm if I suppose
         As true what I know no one truly knows
         And simply call it my hypothesis,
         Open to testing and analysis?

              Why not give something promising a try
              And see what truth emerges, by and by?


Sunday, November 2, 2014


          When Garrison Keillor tells jokes
          To amuse the intelligent folks
                            Who listen to him
                            On NPR in FM
          There’s no end to the laughs he provokes.


Saturday, November 1, 2014


for James O’Dea

       Resolving conflicts and restoring peace
       By letting animosity release
       Its stranglehold on adversaries’ throats
       Prove harmony and concord float all boats.
       Dissolving animosities to find accord
       Is what true peacemakers are moving toward.