Saturday, April 30, 2016


                   Although it’s good to see the school year end
                   And summer’s leisure beckoning ahead
                   Where my creative ventures may extend
                   Bending to where the Muse would have me led,

                   It’s also good to get back in my traces
                   When in September a new term begins,
                   Confronting three new classes of fresh faces,
                   Some with anxiety and some with grins.

                   For every term a new adventure starts,
                   Each course exploring blossoming new fields
                   Appealing to not only heads but hearts
                   And at the best, enlightening wisdom yields.

                       But for the nonce, my aim is to enjoy
                       Composing verse—and this is my envoy.


Friday, April 29, 2016


for Nicholas Maxwell

                    Knowing what's most valuable to do
                    And doing it is how you prove you’re wise;
                    It’s not some arcane knowledge you accrue,
                    But deeds you contemplate and realize
                    That bring to needy ones some benefit:
                     A truth our great philosophers have writ.

* * *

Dear Alan,

                  I am very touched to receive “Philosophy” dedicated to me.  Funnily enough, there are, I think, three main motives behind my efforts to get a hearing for wisdom-inquiry.  One is that I think wisdom-inquiry is necessary if humanity is to learn how to create a better, wiser world something that is essential if we are to resolve the global problems that loom before us.  Another is personal: it would be gratifying to make a contribution to thought.  And the third has to do with the role that wisdom-inquiry might play in relieving suffering, and waste of life, of the world’s poor.  But very few people think philosophy has anything to do with relieving suffering – and indeed most of it does not seem to have much, if anything, to do with it.  The distance between an argument for wisdom-inquiry, and a better life for poor people living in what used to be called ‘the third world’ seems immense, almost to the point of no contact between the two being possible at all.  On the other hand, I cannot help but feel that a world in which universities put wisdom-inquiry into practice would do better in helping all of us to live flourishing lives.

               All good wishes,



Thursday, April 28, 2016


                    What would ambition do?  What would it not,
                    Going so far as even kill a king,
                    Conniving in a treacherous, fatal plot
                    To execute this most appalling thing.

                    Just such a question Shakespeare would explore,
                    Contriving a dramatic spectacle
                    Confronting us with scenes we must deplore
                    Ensuring that his plays be never dull.

                    Thus Hamlet and Macbeth are dramas that
                    Arouse the pity and the terror which
                    Is kin to what a high-wire acrobat
                    Evokes who seems from there about to pitch.

                         For all the anguish that such drama stirs,
                         Catharsis, though, is what at last occurs.



Wednesday, April 27, 2016


                    The marvel and the mystery we are,
                    Compounded from the dust of a dead star,
                    We all too sadly fail to recognize
                    When doing so would help to make us wise:

                    To see and feel how precious all life is
                    Would change our consternation into bliss
                    By teaching us the arts of stewardship
                    Lest into some catastrophe we slip.

                    “The glory, jest and riddle of the world,”
                    We still have virtues left to be unfurled-
                    Once we out-grow our adolescent phase
                    And show the sapience our name displays.


Monday, April 25, 2016

he gift that Shakespeare owned for wielding words,
                 Composing plays and poems by the score,
                 A feat that heavenly genius undergirds
                 Making his celestial music soar,
                 Is just to be amazed by, not surpassed:
                 Though many others seek to rival him
                 It’s only his achievements that will last
                 Since his bright artistry will never dim.
                 That does not mean that scribblers such as I
                 Should not attempt to follow in his way,
                 Though we may never hope to soar so high
                 Nor think our efforts will in memory stay.
                      No matter how we study and strive hard,
                      We shan’t surpass the genius of the Bard.


Sunday, April 24, 2016


                    The next stage in our evolution’s course
                    Will be to grow from human to humane,
                    Once we have wholly bonded with our Source
                    And reached the highest rung of being sane.

                    This is the lesson of the Prince of Peace,
                    Whose message was that only love’s supreme,
                    While inhumane hostility must cease,
                    Which seems today as but an idle dream.

                    When power-seekers aim to gain control
                    To benefit the crooked and the cruel,
                    It’s time we shift toward the opposing pole,
                    Allowing generosity to rule.

                        While once the way was that of tooth and claw,
                        We’re learning to obey Love’s Higher Law.


Saturday, April 23, 2016




                    A neighbor came and rang our front doorbell
                    While clutching to her chest a baby bird
                    She’d picked up from the tree from which it fell,
                    Discovered by the peeping she had heard.

                   “What do you think that I should do with it?”
                   It’s sure to be the prey for someone’s cat
                   Or hop into the street and then be hit—
                   “I couldn’t stand to see a fate like that.”

                  The best I thought to say was to suggest
                  She see a neighbor up the street who’d found
                  Three baby owls who’d fallen from their nest
                  But with a sanctuary’s help were sound.

                      Though nature may be “red in tooth and claw,”
                      We know that kindness is a higher law.



Thursday, April 21, 2016


                    Not so inclined now as I’ve been before
                    To take my precious life for granted still,
                    I wonder with some urgency what more
                    Of destiny I have yet to fulfill.
                    I’d like to think, if I have any gift
                    To leave behind me for posterity,
                    It may be what I’m doing now to lift
                    My heart and mind by making poetry,
                    Which may in turn delight the hearts and minds
                    Of readers such as you, whom I may touch
                    By blending sound and sense in apt designs
                    To change your views a little, if not much.
                         To leave a gift for all posterity
                         Confers a kind of immortality.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016


                 Creating value is our human goal,                    

                 Pursuing what will somehow serve this Earth,
                 And only we have this explicit role
                 Because we can divine and reckon worth.

                 Instinctively, most creatures can discern

                 What’s good or bad for them, but only we
                 Have the innate capacity to yearn
                 For what may well enhance humanity.

                And, beyond that, we feel a higher calling
                To guarantee the Earth is flourishing;
                Although at times our actions are appalling,
                At best we choose ways that are nourishing.

                    Then, once we’ve mastered this transcendent grace,
                    We may be visited by friends from space.


Monday, April 18, 2016


                    How many thousand times I’ve had to stoop
                    To scoop up in a bag our doggies’ poop
                    As we progress along our daily walks
                    Observed from up above by squirrels and hawks.
                    But that’s the downside of what otherwise
                    Is my twice-daily chance to realize
                    How charming is this neighborhood with streets
                    Of brick, where neighbor with another greets,
                    Observing how the tabebuia’s blooms
                    Are beautiful, or how a shower looms,
                    The chit-chat that enlivens every day
                    Despite the fact we’ve nothing much to say.
                    But now it’s time to leash up for our first
                    Walk of the day, before two bladders burst.


Sunday, April 17, 2016


                      I’ve said before, but now must say again,
                      Dear Garrison, that though your show goes on
                      Once you’ve retired, it never will be then
                      What now The Prairie Home Companion
                      Is and has been lo these many years—
                      A product of your geniality
                      And wit, so when that genius disappears
                     We’ll be amused, but superficially.
                     Without your Guy Noir and Wobegon
                     Reports, and ads from Powdermilk and P.O.E.M,
                     Those Saturdays that glittered will grow wan,
                     And we’ll find little reason to stay home.
                          We might go out and drown our grief in drink.
                          What say you give it all another think?


                    What is my religion, that to which
                    I’m bound, those principles by which I live,
                    Intended to ensure my life is rich
                    Not in what I’ve acquired, but have to give?

                    It’s charity, a caring for all others,
                    Whose needs are as important as my own
                    Because we all are sisters and are brothers,
                    Each with a feeling heart and not a stone.

                    Or so it should be, if we would behave
                    As all our wise ones have exhorted us,
                    For enmity and envy will enslave
                    Our souls, making our future ominous.

                        Our liberty then lies in being free:
                        The soul of love is liberality.


Saturday, April 16, 2016


                    I ought to wake up every day amazed
                    That I and countless creatures are alive,
                    For which some Grand Intelligence be praised,
                    And may this cosmic enterprise survive!

                    It is the greatest mystery of all:
                    How evolution brought us into being,
                    This Earth and sundry creatures great and small
                    By arcane means as yet beyond our seeing.

                   Still, we are nothing if not curious,
                   Determined to find out the how and why.
                   Of everything intelligence can suss,
                   Though ancient prohibitions may deny.

                        We are the means by which the universe may find
                        What secrets lie in our Creator’s mind.



                  The good life is one lived with charity,
                  A loving, caring, sharing life that glows,
                  Ensuring that for all posterity
                  The magnitude of kindness ever grows.

                  The motive of advancing one’s own state
                   Even to the detriment of others
                   And giving in to rivalry and hate
                   Forgets that we are sisters and we’re brothers.

                  The sign of living properly and well:
                   A deep, enduring resonance of joy,
                   Of which our sacred testaments all tell,
                   Is one not even thoughts of death destroy,

                        For when death comes, though sad we must depart,
                        We’ll know we have a blessedness at heart.


                      The way of bliss and true tranquility
                      Derives from peace and not hostility,
                      From learning to be placid and serene
                     Though others may be angry, rude and mean.
                     There’s happiness in learning to transcend
                     The impulse that might lead one to offend
                     Another soul and make an adversary,
                     Leaving both parties fearful, anguished, wary.
                     No other attitude should stand above
                     The eminence of charitable love.


                    Since we are here, there must be life elsewhere:          
                    That same potential which brought life to Earth,
                    Although it may be infinitely rare,
                    Has brought from inorganic matter birth.

                    We’ve long imagined visitors from space,
                    Whether they be malignant or benign,
                    Yet as of now we still have found no trace
                    So far as sober science can divine.

                    It just may be a race more wise than we
                    Has learned of us but shrewdly bides its time
                    Till we have reached an apt maturity
                    Preparing us to learn what’s more sublime.

                         Our task at hand however’s to ensure
                         That life on Earth will evermore endure.


Sunday, April 10, 2016


                    Out of the maelstrom of unconsciousness,
                    A notion formed from which a verse derived
                    That should it find the prospect of success
                    Depended on how artfully contrived
                    It was, so ultimately what had been
                    Haphazard thought seemed purposefully meant,
                    Intended from the moment I begin
                    Appearing at the last as heaven sent.
                    But, truth be told, it’s not that way at all
                    And, rather, line by line, I grope my way,
                    While hoping my contrivances won’t stall
                    And I’­ll discover what I have to say—
                        As much surprised as any auditor
                        Whom it’s my foremost mission not to bore.


Friday, April 8, 2016


                   This eating animals is what we do
                   Because that’s always what we have been fed
                   Right off the bone or in a savory stew,
                   Not thinking of the life that now is dead.

                  I write this with my dog tucked by my side
                  Who is as much a carnivore as I,
                  But moral strictures cannot be applied
                  To her who thinks just when and how, not why.

                  If animals are destined to be food,
                  We humans at the least must be humane
                  In attitude and practices pursued
                  By minimizing anguish, fear and pain.

                       And yet, there’s something in me seems to wilt
                       Considering all of this.  The cause is guilt.


Thursday, April 7, 2016


                    Were there but one religion, fit for all, 

                    What would it teach that we most need to know?
                    Not that our first forebears sustained a fall
                    From grace, consigning all our race to woe.

                    A guilt trip is no way to win our hearts
                    When it’s compassion we most need to learn;
                    Extol what’s beautiful, not glare at warts,
                    Showing that love is our foremost concern,

                        And keep the teaching short and filled with joy:
                        There is no better method to employ.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016






                      A word that somehow never came to be
                      Whose synonym might be vitality
                      Is vivience—like vivid: striking, bright,
                      Or vivify: make more alive in sight,
                     And what example could be more intense
                     Than a new baby’s cry: lusty, immense!


Tuesday, April 5, 2016


                  That Bud and Tiggy’d ever be a match
                  Is too absurd, considering how small
                  She is, though she thinks he’s a real catch,
                  Impressed in part perhaps because he’s tall.

                 Their courtship, though, can be no more than play
                 In chance encounters on our daily strolls
                 That lead us by his house most every day,
                 Drawn by the eager yearning of their souls.

                 Platonic play is all they may enjoy,
                 A bit of frisking all in innocence,
                Two passing sailors calling out “Ahoy!”
                A fondness that can never grow intense.

                    And yet, I’d bet that in Tig’s nightly dreams
                    Their courtship grows under the moonlight’s beams.


Sunday, April 3, 2016




Saturday, April 2, 2016




 for Lila

                    I know a lady who cannot abide
                    Good cast-off items set at the curbside
                    And destined to be hauled away as trash,
                    Knowing that they’ll so soon be gone to smash,

                   And yet that means that stashed in her garage
                   And dining room and elsewhere this hodgepodge
                   Has taken hostage her once tidy home,
                   Through which she wends as in a catacomb.


Friday, April 1, 2016

for Copthorne Macdonald

 April 1, 2016

                    If I were seeking truly to be wise,
                    I’d need at first to clearly recognize
                    Just what the opposite of wisdom is,
                    Misleading us from true sagacious bliss.

                    Some say it’s folly, some stupidity,
                    A waywardness that’s our proclivity
                    That only growing wise can rectify,
                    A moral compass on which to rely.

                   And now, since seeking wisdom is my aim,
                   It properly behooves me to proclaim
                   That even on this day named after fools,
                   It’s rightly true sagacity that rules,

                        And if we can commit to growing sage,
                        Humanity at last may come of age.