Tuesday, August 31, 2021

 

Not My Final Answer

(at the prospect of turning 90)


Something funny happened

     must stay awake when

          it happens again

The moving finger

     writes to extend three

          score and ten

Now that I

     have forgiven

          my past

Having escaped

     the illusion

          of boxes

Living in the intense

     reality of

          transformation

Engaged in

     the search for

          better questions

Letting go of the

     clutch of clever

          defense mechanisms

Shaking off

     the need

          to fit in

Joyously aware that

     age is not a

          disability

Enriched by rare

     moments

          of joy

Injured when I didn't

     know enough

          to be sorry

Scars of mostly

     self-inflicted bumps

          and bruises

Little time left

     to belabor

          life's offenses

No room to host

     fear or

          anger

Cutting back

     on sighing

          and arguing

Going to bed in

     love waking up

          in love

Reviewing new

     ways to say

          thank you

Tracing new designs

     from recycled

          trash

Challenged by

     a God that

          grows with me



Saturday, August 21, 2021

 

As

It

     happens

          as I

Keep the energy

     lose the fear

          accept the grace

Reserve anger's energy

     to break the evil

          build hope's path

Embrace the dark

     look through

          the pain

Forgive the past

     accept healing

          strengthen joy

Stay the course

     play the ball

          where it lands

Rest my soul

     pause to thank

          rise to pursue

Just so will

     I write

          my life



Monday, August 16, 2021

 

A Memoir of Sorts



The fourth move in as many

     years leaving little

          to carry

It could have been a pro

     shop when faded

          dreams still had a pulse

Two rooms one faucet

     and a necessary

          path out back

Three people who would

     live without privacy

          and still have love

Dad displaced from the

     classroom by

          diseased feet

Growing minnows in a

     hatchery where golfers

          would have played

Mother counting and selling

     fish bait little money

          hard life honest work

Sunrise to sunset and beyond

      they worked through

          pain and sorrow with humor

My inheritance would be truthtelling

     honest dealing the

          saving grace of humor

I used a rifle my grandfather once

     swapped his warped false teeth

          for to shoot bullfrogs

I mostly kept my rebellion

     to myself and when I didn't

          dad's weakness was the paddle

I carried more books home

     from school than

          anyone except Lois Gordon

I opted out on football

     memorized Shakespeare

          recited to mother

Moments of joy

     punctuated the

          boredom

My sister was born there later

     I would claim to be an

          only child as could she

Dad's health improved they left

     the cabin mother got

          a job I left home

The log cabin long gone can't

     imagine that a single person

          has missed it

Hard times linger in memory

     good has a longer

          attention span

Valued imprint left on my psyche

     comes in handy in repacking

          my metaphorical suitcase



Saturday, August 7, 2021

 

A Life in Progress

The clerk smiled

     when she

          said it but

Have a

     nice

          day

I accept it

     as a

          challenge

Check out

     new

          directions

Hold out

     against

          equilibrium

Balance

     is often

         overrated

Courage

     against

         entropy

Concede the

     darkness

          certify light

Look both

     ways look

          again

Revise and

     extend

          my life


Thursday, July 22, 2021

 

A Place From Which


Before I become

     complacently

          trivial

Idly stitching

     together

          memories

Basking in

     cleverly designed

          myths

Urge me awake

     from dreams to

          imperatives

Spurred by

     moral

          upsettings

Trembling on

     the edge

          of prayer

Help to get

     through the

          noise

A place to push

     off from in

          search for truth

And unite the two

     so oft divided

          justice and love

To find active

     peace in the

          eye of the storm



Tuesday, June 29, 2021

 

Critical Respect Theory


Racial scarring

     reminding of

          unhealed pain

Honest study of past

     damage leading

          into truth

Looking directly deep

     into masked

          pain light throbs

Opening routine allowing

     curiosity and

           novel excitement

Dancing with the stranger

     staying the course

          to make amends

Reclaiming the joy

     of moral

          health

Confident that critical love

     surging from

          caring depths

Subdues dissension

     honors community

          allows healing

And word went out

     throughout the land

          that God smiled



Saturday, June 19, 2021

 

Sorrow Unmasked

Enigmatic she came alone

     clear eyed with a

          promise of deep

Before the golden buzzer

     I knew she was

          better than OK

Multi-tasking cancers

     in the background

          gave her two per cent

Declining the odds

     she intoned her

           chance of joy

Don't wait til things

     are not hard

          to be happy

I held that nugget in

     in my mind pondered

          it in my soul

She echoed the poet's

     tome joy is sorrow

          unmasked

Looked deep deeper into

     pain and found

          sustaining joy

Can it be that blindness

     to joy has been my

          greatest pain

Restored I bookmarked

     the heart shared

          wisdom

And joined the chorus

     I'm OK, I'm OK

          I'm OK, I'm OK, I'm OK

Jane Marczewski sang on America's Got Talent. She was 30 years old, diagnosed with multiple cancers and given a 2% chance of survival. Her musical voice and the music of her spirit so mesmerized the judge's panel that Simon gave her the golden buzzer. Her lyrics included a repetition of "I'm OK, I'm OK" and she ended with the admonition, "You don't have to wait until things are not hard to decide to be happy."

We watched the episode on June 8th. It was reported that Jane Marczewski, also known as Nightbird, died on June 10.



Sunday, June 6, 2021

 

Memorial Days

During the war I

    carried an M-1

        a reluctant warrior

Honor today those whose

    love of country led

        into unwanted war

Antonio on his

    way to the front

        never came home

Respect for those whose

    patriotism precluded

        the call to arms

Conscientious Steve

    refused a gun to

        keep the peace

I replay gut wrenching

    choice 72* years

        and counting

The present valued

    by past heroism

        of the brave

Dishonored by unshackled

    jingoism and

        pernicious hate

Gratitude for those who

    protect and defend

        runs deep

Sorrow for all lives

    lost in conflict

        forever throbs

I cover my heart

    to honor all

        veterans of war

I cover my heart

    to honor all

        veterans of peace

Striving for an alchemy

    that turns the glamour

        or war into pervasive peace


*I joined the Alabama National Guard when I was 17. By the time we were activated for service in Korea I had begun my ongoing struggle to define a patriotism that leaves room for conscientious objection.

Taegu, Korea 1952


Sunday, April 11, 2021

 

Inosculate 


In the search

     for a

          higher ground

One never

     travels

          alone

The past

     a constant

          companion

"New occasions

     teach new

         duties"

Love provides

     a working

          guide

Justice

     validates the

         trek

Labor

     employs the

         tools

Faith-eating

     platitudes

         censured

Moral nausea

     eased with

          compassion

Probity refusing

     to appease

          moral decay

Unrelenting care

     for the weak and

         vulnerable

Recycle anger's

     energy to

          resist evil

Visions

     tempered by

          flexible hope

*from the hymn, Once to Every Man and Nation


Covered wagons on the way up to Cripple Creek.

We pulled our '64 Volkswagen truck over and asked if we could pose a picture. I can only imagine the life and work of those whose lives were served by the covered wagon. I do know that before I owned the truck, my Dad used it to haul storm damaged walnut trees into his high school workshop to teach woodworking. The scene is a reminder of the vision and energy of those who have gone on before. The challenge is to draw on that memory as we continue our search for higher ground.


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

 

Together

Two old men each

     more humble

           than the other

Old friends

     meeting for

         the first time

Lived separate

     lives

          together

Making new memories

     by sharing

          old ones

Recycling old

     jokes to

          refill the now

Quietly hopeful

     to find

          redemption

Tagging the past

     to reimagine

          meaning

Quiet settles as

     humor cuts

          through regret

A current of

     love breaks all

          time barriers

Forever

     open for

          surprises

Two old men

     together when

          separated

Each with

     his own 

          chalk*

*They agreed that at some point each would take a trip to  an undisclosed location. The one who reached the location would make an "x" with his chalk and if the other one reached the location first, he would rub it out. Makes absolutely no sense, until it does.




Monday, March 15, 2021

 

To Prepare the Soul


Weary travelers

     felt the

          force of Zazen

Surrendered to

     the moment

          uneasily

Received time

     to calm the

          mind

Freshen the

     spirit ease

          the soul

Silenced to

     open a

          new way

Today's truth

     pulled through

          memory

Footnotes

     the

         negatives

Allows the Yes

     to open the

          possible

Empties the trash

     of misused

          dreams

Restarts the

     balance

          wheel


In 1969, Sixteen university students and other adults took a self-guided three week independent tour in Japan. We booked our own travel and made our own arrangements with friends we mostly met along the way. Our overnight stay in Eigengi Zen Buddhist Monastery on Lake Biwa where we were introduced to Zazen meditation, gave me a touchstone for my life today.

While I do not practice Zazen, I do find a refreshing power in those moments when I am able to be alone, still and quiet and to empty my mind. I almost always emerge more open to everyday signs of grace around me and to the presence of a loving God. It helps a lot, especially in these troubled times.



Call to meditation 

Eigenji Monastery (translated)

Cannot avoid death

Moments passing

Value this moment

Things change quickly



Saturday, March 6, 2021

 

To Redeem the Moment

In the world

     I choose to

          live in

In the suffering

     of the

         moment

Humor holds

    the door

          open

Lights the path through

     fearful forces

          darkening times

Sits in the waiting

     room with

         the distressed

Loosens the

     cold grip of

          deepest grief

Laughter cracks the

     confining shell of

          anguish

Goes the distance

     with those

          who suffer

Protects against

     paralyzing

          anxiety

Will not give

     grief the

          last word

Interprets

     immutable

         love

Rediscovers

     beauty

          beyond



Saturday, February 27, 2021

 gratia

In the valued

     stillness of

          the moment

I raise prayerlike

     thoughts of

          gratefulness

For those who

     grapple with Covid's

          death dealingness

Who practice caring

     beyond

          self security

And those who

     occasion healing

          antidotes

For those who

     bury the dead

          with dignity

Who draw on the

     heart to comfort

          the bereaved

And hold the door

     open for an

          infusion of hope

That all who suffer may

     remember joy         

          and reclaim peace



Saturday, February 6, 2021

 

How to Fix a Broken Compass

Moral compass

     to steady

          the course

Corroded by

     values held

          too loosely

Rusted by

     lack of

          employing

Disabled by

     frozen fear

          combustible hate

Corrupted by

     misleading

          fables

Remagnetize to

     find spiritual

          core

Recalibrate with

     reforming

          work

Ready to

     step on

          winding paths


Friday, January 22, 2021


 

In the Time I have left 



Stories to repair

    trash to go through

        thoughts to re-collect

A past to reform

    shape for future use

        release non usables

Retrain the mind

    refresh the soul

        restart journey

Speak beauty full truth

    flex imagination

        detassle guilt

Stretch laugh 

    muscles 

        eurythmical 

Unlisting what

    does not

        tantalize

Sunday, January 10, 2021

 

Mystical Moment

Relentless

     news

          noise

Heart

     eroding

          dis-ease

Clogging

     caring

          apparatus

Ushering in

     redemptive

          silence

Quietude

     expanding

          space

Formless

     breathless

          calm

Crystallizing

     clear

          interval

Room for

     God to

         impregnate


Breath restored

     emerge

          love equipped

Monday, January 4, 2021

 

Letting go and holding on


At the age of 12, I jumped, for the first time, into water over my head at Scout Camp, dog-paddled across the pool and was declared a swimmer. I was ecstatic.

At the age of 21, on orders to return to headquarters in the south, I confiscated a jeep, drove all the way across Korea at the 38th parallel, forged papers to catch the train back to Taegu. I was safe.

At the age of 50 I ran a mile, then 5, then 10 and one day had the wild notion to run 26.2 When I did, I was overjoyed.

At the age of 58, I loosened my grip on the wing strut of a Cessna 186 and floated to the ground in Reno, Nevada. I was tranquil-ized.

At 83, I played a 9 hole golf course in my mind while the doctors repaired my heart. I was re-lived.

At 89, I sometime walk the treadmill at 2.5 mph for ten minutes, eleven if I'm up to it. I am grateful.

Now, my wife drives me to the Blood Bank to donate every eight weeks. Life is good.