HOMO SAPIENS SAPIENS SAPIENS II
On Earth, we’re evolution’s furthest edge
Of species most disastrous and grand,
Less sapient than our double names allege,
Yet of this world we’ve now assumed command.
Perhaps we’ll grow to higher sapience,
A goal toward which we surely should aspire,
Against our pride, the only sure defense,
The greatest aspiration to desire.
Recalling that from humus we were made
Might prompt us toward an apt humility,
And knowing that first law we disobeyed
May point us to a new nobility.
Perhaps a triple sapience lies ahead—
Once our abundant follies have been shed.
A poem in rhyme and meter finds its way
Not led by something that it has to say
But rather by the odd exigency
That rhyme and meter makes necessity—
Which is to say: you cannot have in mind
A certain goal toward which your poem’s inclined;
Instead, you will discover as you write,
And all the more to your surprised delight,
A course you’d never find out by intent,
But rather seems that it is heaven sent
As if you were a vessel of a Muse
Who whispered as you wrote enticing clues
Then leaves you in the end with something new
You never had a notion you might do.
STILL LIFE, WITH A PUP
Now Tiggy’s snugged beside me in a snooze
As we both occupy my easy chair,
And little does she know she is my Muse
As I seek something striking to declare,
Though in this state of mutual repose
The aptest attitude is being serene;
I have no stirring drama to disclose
And musing cannot constitute a scene.
Forget theatrics, then; another art
Is what I practice on this filling page:
Contemplative communion with my heart,
Not histrionic actions on a stage.
And little Tig’s still here, deep in her doze,
Which I have honored now, and so will close.
We come not out of nothing, but a Source
That’s still mysterious, for all we know
Through all our sciences: a subtle force,
A secret animus that makes life glow.
There is a realm beyond mere mechanism,
The physics of dead matter and its motion;
Instead—the universal source of wisdom,
Intelligence throughout the cosmic ocean.
Good Orderly Direction, nicknamed GOD,
Is what, of late, we’ve come to call this Being
Who somehow elevated us from fertile sod
Investing us with consciousness and seeing,
Releasing us from spells all beasts lie under—
Thus freeing us to ponder and to wonder.
I’ve lost my pair of glasses somewhere near—
I mean they’re in the house and can’t be far,
And surely with more searching, they’ll appear,
But I cannot imagine where they are.
And so I thought I’d better write a poem,
Which is a practice of discovery
That forces me through all my thoughts to comb
To solve each day a different mystery.
If nothing else, to write would tune my mind
By pressing me to seek out beats and rhymes
Until what I am looking for I find,
As I have done before so many times.
Now, ending this, I’ll take another look
Scouring every cranny, crevice, nook.
HOMO SAPIENS SAPIENS SAPIENS
When Homo sapiens grows sapient
Not twice but thrice, what then shall we become?
Presumably, we’ll have become unbent,
And greater depths of wisdom we shall plumb:
Above all else, we’ll then have mastered peace:
Warfare especially we’ll have outgrown,
And amiability will then increase
As we no more to violence are prone.
In fact, most folks I know are so inclined
And do lead lives of reasonable accord,
Are not warlike, but courteous and kind,
Their emblem being the pen and not the sword.
When we’re no longer anguished and insane,
Humanity will then have grown humane.
What if the famous Bard were here today
And aiming to compose a tragedy,
What subject might he find for his new play
From these four hundred years of history
Since he passed on, now to immortalize,
As Hamlet and Macbeth and Lear have done,
Or would he think our recent woe defies
The scope of tragedy, a task to shun?
What would he then apply his genius to?
To science fiction, I would speculate,
Allowing him to make much more ado
About how human beings at last grow great:
After our history of being bent,
We earn our name, becoming sapient.
“Cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer, cheer”
One bird called out against the raucous caws
Of backyard crows, who seemed moved more by fear—
And then there was a momentary pause.
My speculation about this is that
These birds were neither celebrating morn,
Nor sharing songs, but saying they’d seen a cat
In tones not of exuberance but scorn.
Well, that has passed and after a short lull
Their songs resume, a medley of chits
And cheeps and chirrs, and then an interval
Of silence till again more tweets and twits.
But now it all subsides as traffic noise
And airplanes overhead drown out their joys.
THE SERENDIPITOUS SONNET
A sonnet comes through serendipity:
There’s no way to foretell where it may go
With rhyme and meter’s strict exigency
As it reveals new matter row by row.
At best you have a notion as your guide
That sets you off into a Wandering Wood:
From there on it’s a wild and whirling ride
Finding a course that may be understood
And, better yet, seems destined to be found,
As if it were intended all along,
Its sense being aptly wedded to its sound,
A sonnet being in fact a “little song.”
How it comes into being is Provident:
The best of which are surely Heaven sent.
THE LADDER OF VIRTUE
When climbing virtue’s ladder, your first rung
Is learning to attend to others’ needs;
The second is to care for those among
Them by performing charitable deeds
Which you do out of sympathy,
A fellow-feeling vibrant in your heart
That graduates in time to empathy,
Which signifies you are no more apart
But one, now sharing an identity.
In time I’ll go to the Akashic Zone,
Returning to that plenum whence I came,
Where I can reckon how my mind has grown,
Which is the holy goal toward which we aim
When we shall ultimately realize
The purpose of a planet like this Earth:
Creating beings who at last grow wise
And recognize the cosmic plenum’s worth,
Self-conscious then in an exalted way,
Aware of our supreme identity,
The grandeur of the cosmic role we play,
And sated in our curiosity,
For then we’ll know the purpose of it all
Uplifted from our sad primordial Fall.
“The glory, jest and riddle of the world”—
TOWARD A NEW AGE
So Alexander Pope once summed us up,
“Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d”
Saintly at times, but oftener corrupt.
For all the wonders of our brains’ invention
That have indeed propelled us into space,
We’re rarely pure in our intention
And, like as not, we plunge into disgrace.
While many strive to lift humanity
To lofty eminence through worthy deeds,
We suffer from innate insanity,
And so it’s rare such holiness succeeds.
While many now envision a New Age,
It’s only via love we’ll reach that stage.
What is there better I can do than make
A daily verse and exercise my gift
And skill “for heaven and the future’s sake”
(As Frost once wrote): for joy and for uplift?
For that, it must be musical and chime,
Depicting in apt imagery fresh sights,
And when there’s charming rhythm and apt rhyme
There grows a poetry that most delights.
Free verse and prose have their own merits, true,
But I’ve an aptitude for this old kind
And feel the happiest when I pursue
A style where sound and sense are intertwined,
For such a verse has more vivacity
And lodges longer in your memory.
P.S. This poem is not one of those
As you correctly will suppose.
It’s not as though there’s nothing new to say
And that in writing poems I’ve said it all,
As I have demonstrated every day
By answering my eager Muse’s call,
For sitting, musing, much comes to my mind,
New themes and novel topics to explore
From which a sonnet’s form may be designed
To say what I have never said before.
Each poem begun becomes an eager quest
To find how sound and sense may best cohere,
And when they do, I feel profoundly blessed
As what I’m aiming to find out grows clear.
The couplet at the end serves to conclude
‘Twixt night and day, my morning’s interlude.
for Daniel R. DeNicola
The Spirit, Soul or Essence that is life,
That animation with which we are rife,
Throughout the Cosmos seems the most profound
Of all the spatial wonders that abound.
But that we randomly occurred by blind
Coincidence, instead of being designed
By some implicit Mind, seems most absurd:
A conscious cosmic Source must be inferred.
If that be so, then we must wonder why
We have, and what directives may apply
Implicit in our cosmic consciousness
Prescribing the design for our success,
Assuming, then, we’re an experiment,
Let’s say that flourishing is our intent.
THE LONGEST STRIDE
What should the next advance be for our race
But to eradicate our first disgrace
Since we have suffered long for that betrayal
Forsaking Eden for this earthly jail?
The hope that Paradise might be regained
Once we our innate evils have restrained
To which from the beginning we’ve been prone,
Then our long adolescent stage outgrown—
Inspires us to take our longest stride
Past envy, anger, gluttony and pride
As well as lechery and sloth and greed,
For then indeed we may at last proceed
To build a world of sanity and love,
According to the plan of God above.
A PLEA TO KEILLOR
With this verse I’ll make yet another plea
To Garrison that he not leave his show:
The Prairie Home Companion would not be
What it has always been were he to go
Because it is imbued with his own wit
And style and personality and grace,
By which each weekly episode is lit,
And we at home feel as a fond embrace.
Who else can take us to Lake Wobegon?
Who else has a beguiling baritone
Like his, or can such fictive figures don
As Guy Noir or Dusty? He alone.
It’s true all good things must come to their ends,
But on your genius APM depends.
“You be the preacher. Let’s hear what you’d say.”
“Well, I don’t think I’ll talk to you of God
Or of some Decalogue you must obey
Or tell you you began as just a clod,
For I’m not into such mythology;
What is most apt is how we should behave.
Instead of arguing theology
Or listening to how rival preachers rave.
It simply comes to this: we’re here to love—
It’s kindness we must learn for our own kind,
And this no other teaching stands above,
And toward this we are naturally inclined.
Though some have been perverted toward sin,
It’s only by our graciousness we’ll win.
THE MIND OF A DOG
Can animals imagine as we do
And recollect past images they’ve seen?
Just watch a dog asleep and you
Will be convinced she has a mental screen
On which she views projections from the past
And re-enacts a scene of joy or terror—
Perhaps encountering a cat who sassed
Her, or brightening at the sight of her food-bearer.
Besides that, though, she can anticipate
Remote events that haven’t happened yet,
Like waiting by the door when we’re out late
Or hiding when it’s time to see the vet.
Watching our dogs, it’s evident to me
They have foresight as well as memory.
Now you’re at last about to graduate,
Prepared by your collegiate days to give
Your fruits of learning and articulate
What you have found of how to rightly live,
For that’s what liberal studies aim to do—
To liberate you from the darkness of
All kinds of ignorance and pursue
Not only useful knowledge but the love
Of wisdom—education’s highest aim:
To understand what’s valuable to do
For its own sake and to avoid the shame
Of not attaining what you should pursue:
The good life that’s productive and sublime
Lived by the principle that love is prime.
HUMAN EVOLUTION II
Which way will human evolution go?
It seems it’s up to us now to decide,
Who often prove to be our own worst foe,
Unable by good reason to abide.
That sapience for which we’re doubly named
At best my prove a hopeful prophecy
Once our malicious instincts have been tamed,
And we’ve arrived at generosity—
Which means a kindness owed to every kind,
Transcending “nature, red in tooth and claw”
Toward which all other creatures are inclined,
Though we have recognized a higher law,
A mandate of which there is none above:
To manifest what’s best in us: that’s love.
Mead Gardens, Saturdays, the girls and I
Will trek around the stream-side nature trail
And watch bird-watchers, aiming toward the sky
Their long-lensed cameras, spot a yellow tail
Or speckled back or other telling trait
Of novel fowls on their migration routes
And over-hear their spirited debate
Trying to note the varied tweets and hoots.
Meanwhile my dogs are sniffing at the ground
For evidence of rabbits or raccoons,
Which for their searching they have never found,
Though they’ve been tracking now for many moons,
And I’m the watcher watching everyone—
Seeing their kinds of finding is my fun.
Now Donald Trump is on the stump
And sounding like a horse’s rump
But may be heading for a slump—
I’d rather vote for Forrest Gump.