Friday, October 20, 2017

The World is Flat

The World is Flat

They tried it first in the U.S.A. and honed it to an art—
For selling what they wanted folk to fork up cash to buy.
And then the Nazis used it too—and others, so that men
And women bought the party line—and did not question why.

Some call it “propaganda”, and others, “advertisement”.
Some do it rather plainly and others are more subtle.
It’s useful.  It can take a lie and turn it into truth.
And that’s a transmutation you can bet they’ll never scuttle.

A lie that is repeated—that is whispered in your ear,
That’s written into textbooks and is linked with what you cherish,
That you hear and read and then repeat—is turned to something dear,
And so in time becomes a truth—a staple that you relish.

And so it is for me and him and her and all around.
In every place and every time these methods have been used,
They’ve worked as they were meant to do. So lies have long prevailed,
And those who held to truth or questioned lies have been abused.

So what to do? Remember this—it’s only things you’ve seen
And heard and smelled and tasted, felt—and not through others—that
You should believe without a doubt—for you were there yourself.
All else is sadly suspect. Till you’ve seen, the world is flat.

What’s that? You read me right. Or else, convince me I am wrong.
But first of all, convince yourself. It’s science, not religion.
And science can be questioned—and it shouldn’t just be priests
Or scientists that you believe. It’s fact, not an opinion.

But every doctrine is a lie. And so it is with this.
We cannot catch the whirling flow within the nets we weave.
A life that’s caged is sad indeed. So ignorance is bliss,
Until the knowledge that’s ignored says, “Here! Do you believe?”
2017 October 20th, Fri.
Brooklyn, New York

Thursday, October 19, 2017

In Mammon’s Jaws

In Mammon’s Jaws

We are angry at the others, we are angry at ourselves.
We are saddened, we are sickened and we find we are in hells.
What’s the reason for the anger, for the sadness and malaise?
What’s turned us all to turtles that are hiding in their shells?

That’s a question I would answer, if I suddenly could see
Through all of my confusion to the thing that’s driving this.
But I do not have that vision, so I’ll let you have a try.
If you figure out the answer, let me know then what it is.

You might give to me an instance, and that I will accept.
But if you’d dig a little deeper, to be nearer to the cause
That is driving humans crazy—and not only you and me—
I’ll be grateful for your efforts, as we writhe in Mammon’s jaws.

It’s a thing that’s new and ancient. It was then and it is now.
Is it evil? Is it madness? Is it sorrow at the heart?
I could ramble on about it, but I know that isn'’t wise.
So I’ll leave you with the question, as I bow and I depart

2017 October 18th, Wed.
Berkeley, California

Monday, October 16, 2017

Self and Other--The Cooler Spots in Hell

Self and Other  (The Cooler Spots in Hell)

The mantra is—it's I and me
And then perhaps some others.
And off to hell with all the rest!
We aren't sisters, brothers—

For even if by chance we were,
We now no longer are.
So each is free to cheat and steal.
All's fair, in hate and war.

And so we've made a hell for most,
And heaven for the vile,
Who sit upon their thrones of gold
And look at us and smile.

We hate the ones who're far away.
We hate the ones who're near.
We hate each other, even those
Who surely should be dear.

It's self that is the king, be it
The self of self or more.
The others are our enemies
Or those we should ignore.

And how is it we've come to this,
Where brother turns on brother?
We've bitten on the hook, whose bait
Is that of self and other.

Oh wake up from this dream, and see
The other too is you
As you are him or her or it.
Those bonds, again renew—

For lonely is the heart that lives
In isolation long.
Rejoin this world of joy and woe—
The one where you belong.

But see, we now are penned apart,
By pressure or by choice.
How rarely can one leap the fence
And then, in tears, rejoice!

We're told that we have freedom, yet
We now are worse than slaves—
For look at whom we adulate
And see how he behaves.

If only we could find within
That innocence of old,
And also all the wisdom lost,
In Man's pursuit of gold!

How many pounds and shillings earned,
At the dearest of expense?
How many starved, or burned alive
To raise the margin’s pence?

We prey upon each other and
We praise the ones who feast,
While mocking those who're feasted on,
In west and south and east—

For in those lands the natives too
Are preying on each other,
Although they still, on meeting, use
The greetings, “Sister!”, “Brother!”

But those are turned to empty words.
We use the behen or bhai, *
But then we set that all aside,
For each must sell and buy.

So each of us is caught within
That net that snares the world.
We see but self and other, so
We each are lured and hurled—

To land within the cooking pot.
And there we simmer, fry,
As all around we hear the ones,
Who suffer, wail and cry.

But look—how many stop their ears
And say that all is well.
They've found themselves the cooler spots
That still exist in hell.

2017 October 16th, Mon.

* behen, bhai:  sister, brother, in Hindi-Urdu and other languages of northern India and Pakistan
These terms are habitually used in some regions not only for siblings but more generally, including as a title or in greetings. This was meant to express sisterhood/brotherhood—as was, and in places still is, common in many cultures, especially rural ones, all over the world.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What Wonders

What Wonders

When all we see is sorrow, let us then remember joy.
When all is utter darkness, let us then recall the light.
When all around is meanness, let us then remember love.
When all we hear is wailing, let us then recall the song.

And let us all remember that the moment is the prize
That yields its passing pleasure or yields instead its pain.
That moment, let us savor, let us greet it as a friend,
Who was with us when we started and will be at the end.

We are here between the atoms and the stars that light the sky.
We are stretched between the starting and the ending of the all.
We are less than motes in sunbeams, we are ants that crawl and die,
And yet we are as oceans that have depths that hold the all.

We are nothing that is special—no more than drifting leaves,
No more than dust that’s blowing—or specks of froth on waves.
And yet we sit and worry and grasp what we should yield.
But see—we ply our sciences and all our trades and arts.

Oh sing of this creation that needs no artisan!
Oh raise your arms in wonder and dance beneath the stars.
What filigrees are woven, what horrors and delights!
Oh savor this—your being, and your passing days and nights.

What wonder and what torture, what pleasure and what pain!
Our yesterdays forgotten, our tomorrows never known,
Our day, from dawn to sunset, our night in which we dream—
What meaning, in this marvel that’s the life that never stays?

I do not know the meaning and I doubt the ones who preach.
I’ve spent my life in learning and I’ve tried my best to teach.
But as my days are ending and I’m yearning for my rest,
I remember still your kindness, in this heart that you had blessed.

I still recall your singing as I still recall the dawn
As the dusk is now descending and I know that I’ll be gone.
I have seen the stony faces, I have sensed the hearts of stone,
But I still recall your smiling—and I know I’m not alone.

And so to those who hear me, I am calling from the past.
Let your present be your treasure, for the little while you last.
Remember still your pleasures, releasing all your pains—
And laughing at your losses, surrender all your gains.

2017 October 10th, Tue. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Saint or Sinner?

Saint or Sinner?

Show us a sinner or show us a saint,
And we’ll find, in the first one, an aspect of worth,
And then, in the second, as surely, a taint—
For such are the natures of beings on Earth.

Let's open the corrals we use to constrain
The field of our fellows to friends and to foes,
And know—that these boxes we try to maintain
May often be nests that can nurture our woes.

Let's value a friendship, beware of a foe,
Yet open a passage where beings may flow,
For such are their natures, not solid, but more
Of a fluid—at times, like the breezes that blow.

So is he a “saint” or is he a “sinner”?
Or if we're like Trump, and addicted to sin,
Then is he a “loser” or is he a “winner”?
Could sinners be saints, just as losers might win?

And is she a blessing or is she a pain,
Or is she a bit of them both?  It is time
That we leave you to think, as we end this refrain
That we've couched, for your pleasure, in meter and rhyme.

2017 September 25th Mon.
(2nd-to-last stanza and minor edits added October 1st, Sun.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Soft and the Loud

The Soft and the Loud 

The words of those who’re humble
are rarely harsh or sharp.
They often have the music
of a gently fingered harp.

And yet a voice that’s softer
can hide a vengeful heart.
So words are used as weapons
by those who've learned that art.

And those who speak out louder
may have a cause sincere
and bravely speak for others
whose throats are dry from fear.

There’s rarely gain from volume
where reasoned words would do.
We might prevail from shouting
but lose our bearings too.


A parent who’s beleaguered,
a teacher who is stressed—
might raise a voice in anger
yet leave things unaddressed.

And so it is with siblings—
with friends and lovers too.
And so it is with spouses 
and all like me and you.
We’re better when we’re softer,
but best when paying mind.
Let’s listen and let’s reason—
not forgetting to be kind.
There is a time for whispers.
There is a time for screams.
There is a time for talking,
for silence—and for dreams.
How often, words are uttered
that lack in grace and art—
the words of ire, derision—
that show a lapse of heart.
Let’s notice when we’re angered—
and count those breaths of ten
that should be slow and measured
to lead us back to zen.
Let’s notice when we’re fearful—
and breathe then, once again,
to find the strength and courage
to speak and act—and when.
There is a time for speaking.
There is a time for pause.
For thought and word and action,
there should be sight and cause.


We each have had our traumas—
and some of us were spoiled.
Too often, we are blinded—
and our whips are then uncoiled.
So scorpions use their stingers
and dogs might use their jaws.
But notice cats who’re playing
and how they sheathe their claws.
We're often steered by habits—
and each of these has use.
But if they are our masters
the outcome is abuse.
Each day is a beginning.
Each moment is a start.
It also is a dying—
that gives a chance to heart.

Let’s leave behind our losses.
Let’s leave our hurts behind.
We’re neither serfs nor bosses.
Let’s keep that truth in mind.
We see the anger rising.
We see the fear that spreads.
We breathe and watch them moving—
our rages, lusts and dreads.
We bow and meet the anger.
We smile and greet the fear.
We laugh with all our passions—
for each of these is dear.

There’s grief that’s deep within us.
There’s joy that bubbles still.
Let’s leave the world in leisure
and wreak no more of ill.
2016 mid-October (the first five stanzas) 
and 2017 August 30th, Wed. (the rest)
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tweety Grump and Taunting Kim

Tweeting Grump and Taunting Kim
Tweety Bird and Mister Grump were married one fine day,
And in due time a son was born, whose name I now must say.
His name is "Donald Trump", but he is "Tweety Grump" as well.
And that is why he’s such a grump and why he tweets each day.
At sunrise, birds arise to tweet and Donald does that too.
But what he tweets are grumps and dumps, received by me and you.
The twitter of the birds at dawn, we sadly find displaced
By that of grumpy Donald Trump—until he is replaced.
But whoah! He's met his match in him—that spoiled and laughing brat,
Who rules where bombs had fallen till they'd left the cities flat.
And wow! As Tweeting Grump says "Boo!", so also Taunting Kim
Replies with shoo's that match our Grump—or even besting him.
So Tweeting Grump and Taunting Kim agree to have a battle.
For Taunting Kim, says Tweeting Grump, has made a bad new rattle.
And as for us, we do not know to laugh or quake in fear—
For though we're rolling on the floor, we sense our end is near.
2017 Aug 12th, Sat.
Brooklyn, New York

Kim and Trump, with ballistic penises