Friday, October 30, 2015

Philosophers and Poets

In Hades the philosophers are blind
They wander unaware of their own kind
As each one's contemplating his own mind
Each one a monster that no one can find
Each one believing all he left behind
Are shadows and the sun has merely shined
Too bright and that their eyesight will unwind
And everyone will love what they've divined
And they release them from the chains that bind
Each person to the wall they're sure they've dined
Upon the flesh of truth they merely grind
Their teeth on nothingness that they've defined

With people places things the poets leaven
The truth and that is why they sing in heaven

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Culture of Children

I've tried to find adults, but they all fled
From college, work, and high schools -- they're all dead,
Much like the gods of old --
I find but puppy days, demands, and dread--
There's no one left who's bold.

We need to take our sons at age thirteen
Into the terror forests where we'll wean
Them from the sweatened milk
And drum them into men with virtue's mean,
Away from vice's silk.

A ritual for daughters, too, to bring
Them into womanhood -- we need to sing
Of love and due respect,
Responsibility that brings the Spring
Of wisdom to reflect.

And once we've brought adulthood back, we'll find
Behavior problems fade like mist, the mind
Now cosmopolitan
No longer child-deaf and child-blind
Our lives can now begin.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

On Self-Control

You can't control yourself without a self --
It's cybernetic self-control -- no elf
Within the brain required, desired, or found --
Emergent network feedback is the ground --
So courage lets you face your fears, stand cool --
A person unafraid shows he's a fool,
As vicious as a coward, both of whom
Will lead the mirror masses to their tomb.

Behold the virtues, products of your choice,
Made possible by your emergent mind
Affecting neural pulses and their flow --
Behold your freedom, love it and rejoice
That you create yourself, unless you find
You don't believe, for freedom means you know.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Present of Happiness

"We hardly ever are; but we were and we shall be." -- Paul Valery

Depression pulls and pares us from the now
Into the haunted mansions of our past,
The rotten wood, the shades of dead don't last,
Yet they seem always first to mind somehow

Anxiety, our future fear, will bow
Us down beneath its weight and slowly cast
Its shadow -- its cold darkness makes you fast,
To death and drink your sweat from off your brow.

The present must present itself in you
For joyfulness and happiness to live --
Revise your past and future both, rewrite
Your life and author only what is true,
Erasing bends and breaks -- you have to give
Yourself permission to find hope, delight.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Spoiled

Oh, shallow-rooted flower, I can see
Why you have grown so delicate! A life
Of being told that you don't have to learn,
That you should live in cotton, free from strife --

Collapsing at the slightest hint that you
Have failed to make the greatest thing on earth,
You fail at life, you fail to grow, you fail
And fail to make a single thing of worth --

But on your shelf you have your trophy -- dead
Of meaning, representing nothing. Death
Will wipe your worthless work away and we
Won't have to hear your worthless whining breath.

Friday, October 23, 2015

To the Humans

There's little human in the way I think --
You see the superficial me, the me
You've made me show as you forced me to shrink
And grow more you and greater, lesser, free.

I really see an oddity when I
Am watching each of you -- you seem to me
An oddly acting ape -- I don't deny
That I seem that to you -- we're neither free.

We must project ourselves to socialize --
But I'm mistaking you, and you of me --
It took a son, and years, to realize
Our foreignness -- that shock has set me free.

But you've mistaken me for you, but worse
In thought and speech and action -- look at me
And you see you, and that is where the curse
Has always lain and will not set me free.

I am an alien to how you act
And think -- I hear you speak nonsense to me
In petty gibberish -- I have no tact,
But speak my mind -- you censor, I am free.

I fault you for not loving only truth --
But I embarrass you, you censor me,
And I become withdrawn -- I'm not uncouth,
Just different socially -- and you're not free.

You stare; I will not look -- you do not care
About too much; obsessions filling me
Drive all my actions -- I will rarely spare
Your feelings; censorship, though, sets you free.

My social awkwardness belongs to you --
I'm fine just as I am -- let me be me
And not a poorer you -- let me be true
And that will help us both improve, be free.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Wandering Goddess

The temples fell, and Venus wanders, worn,
Across the earth in search of worshipers --
Her clothes are torn, neglected -- she endures
By those few who find love in life they've borne.
Her neck and chest, what pearls should adorn,
Are bare and bruised -- she's treated like a curse,
As too much madness is -- the joy that's hers
To give is gone, and we are left forlorn.

But we can bring her joyful madness home,
Back to our hearts, its quickened rhythmic beat
That flush our flesh with blood. Dear Venus gives
If we would just receive. Dig up your loam
And plant her seed and harvest all her wheat --
We and she are starving; joined, though, love lives.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Depth of Culture

The way you act, your music, dress, and speech --
Our cultures matter most to us -- they cut
Into our cores, what others to us teach --
We're certain culture reaches to our gut

Excuses from a superficial sheet
We wrap our universals in -- you can unlearn
Bad habits, antisocial acts -- repeat,
You can unlearn what decent people spurn

And yet we writhe and make such deep defense
Of petty differences and vile vice --
We to go war because we take offense
Over if our tea's served warm or full of ice

And yet we will defend a vile act
As just a difference of culture -- judge
A clitorectomy as evil, backed
By science -- trust that I will bear no grudge

So do not tell me when you act a jerk
That you were raised that way, you can't be blamed
For what your culture wrought -- it will not work --
You act an ass and you should be ashamed

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Eminent Domain

I work, but what I earn I do not own --
I have a house that I can always lose --
I live the lie that I can always choose --
I cannot feed my family what I've grown.

I am a serf, work for my vassal lord --
A sharecropper who's working for the man --
The government will take all that it can --
Enough so it won't fall beneath the sword.

Our lords have changed their names, and that is all --
The gods have changed into democracy --
The atheists and anarchists both flee
While we blame them we stand against the wall.

Police and armies march and they restrain
Our troublesome -- society deprives
The thinkers, dreamers, livers of new lives --
Our lives belong to eminent domain.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Dragon Fear

The dragon Fear will keep you in your place --
He'll stare you down with his green eyes
He'll make you feel death is a prize
And make you kneel and feel you're  a disgrace --
He'll make you feel his heat before he flies.

A sometimes glance of sunlight seems to wane
One's hope -- why should light ever raze
One's hope? -- and yet, it cannot raise
You off our knees so you can face your pain,
And promise will not put you in a daze.

And in the dark you cannot see the gold
That piles around you in the cave --
You seem intent to stay a slave
And punish anyone who dares be bold --
You'll torch and torture him into his grave.

And then the dragon Fear will grin at you
And compliment you on your sin
And tell you that you're going to win
The prize of loyalty: belief that's true,
But venomous as what drips off his chin.

And you will lash out blindly at your loves
And you will take the steel-tipped spear
And stab the one who is most near --
And you will think your shackles velvet gloves,
And you will cower in the dark in fear.

And then the dragon Fear will cruelly laugh
That you, his captive, killed his foe,
And did it knowing what you know
Since you'd been handed the two-helixed staff --
You joined with fear, and now nothing will grow.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Divine Knowledge

Where Shelley's atheism would find faith
Today, no theist verse would find a home
Outside religious magazines -- a wraith
Of narrowmindedness erects a dome
To make sure spirit-feeling will not roam.

The nyads, dryads do not have a place
To dwell -- we cannot find the spirits' land --
Our poets, editors would find disgrace
Among their peers if life should not be bland
Upon the page as atheists demand.

Heroic gods could scarcely grace the page
In anything but reference, irony -
To dare be earnest, that would but enrage
The village atheist -- he'll make you flee
From his harangues, his every empty plea.

And God the Father, God the King won't reign
Much more than human kings or emperors --
And why would any atheist dare deign
To deem a theme on him should open doors
When they have existential verse on whores?

The fuzzy deist God, the cosmos' voice
That sparked existence just to step aside
Is still too much -- in Him you can't rejoice
Without sly ridicule -- they won't abide
Until you have confessed that God has died.

And that now leaves us with the blankest verse
Of petty observations, with our eyes
Cast down upon the ground to see what's worse
In life and humankind, that but denies
That we are anything but food for flies.

But if you dare to lift your eyes, the glow
Will blind you right before you see the sun,
And seeing beauty you will finally know
What virtue needs, and all the damage done
By failing to aim high to reach the one.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Welcome to Adulthood

You think you're getting freedom from the rules
When you join the adults, that field of fools
Who lie to you and to themselves -- but worse,
The adult rules oppress until the hearse.

We're training you for bosses, to obey
An aristocracy -- no time to play --
You have to pay your bills and all your debts --
They'll tax away all but your last regrets.

They'll tax your patience, tax away your love
Until you lash out -- then the rules descend
And you will feel your bosses' iron glove --
And you will break if you refuse to bend.

But if you break, you have a chance to win,
And that's when your adulthood will begin.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sick Unto Death

If leisure's culture's basis, culture's dead --
We murdered it as it lay sick in bed --
We don't have leisure time -- it's not a perk
That's granted by the places where we work.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Serious Poet

The Serious Poet has come to town!
He is a man of much renown --
Frivolity will get his frown --
If it's not his, he'll put it down --
The Serious Poet has come to town.

He will declare there's nothing worse
Than any that is not his verse --
"What silliness!" he'll say with terse
And scowling frowns, his voice a hearse
In which true poems must immerse.

His greatness stretches back and back
And since there's nothing he should lack
He knows that he must stay on track
And never let influence crack
The poems of this boring hack.

"Your poem rhymes? Then that should date
It back to sixteen eighty-eight --
We all know Serious Poems state
In anti-rhythms -- no debate.
And this is fun, and we should hate
All fun -- only the dull is great."

The Serious Poet will thus proclaim
That unless you bow to his fame
And make all your work just the same --
All serious, sad, and very tame --
That all you'll ever write is lame.

The Serious Poet has come to town!
He is a man of much renown --
Frivolity will get his frown --
If it's not his, he'll put it down --
The Serious Poet has come to town.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Prelude to Revolution

What power and what holiness he must
Command -- can he strike down men with a breath?
Or with a wave of his high hand? -- I trust
Offending him is sure and certain death.

How else can he stand there before the crowd
That cowers, silent, shuffling, looking down?
Ten thousand to his one, they have allowed
His rule with purple robes and mere renown.

They follow to his clanging bell -- he herds
Them with the sternest looks, the warmest smiles,
And with the eloquence of his harsh words --
All ignorant and dark to his dark wiles.

And yet he doesn't see the one who stands --
Refusing to salute, obey commands.

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Prince Without Letters

"A Prince without Letters is a Pilot without eyes. All his Government is groping." Ben Jonson

No President admits to reading Pope --
No Senator is sensitive to Swift --
No Congressperson could point out a trope --
These ignorant Fools are on the seas adrift.

The Iliad ignored, the Odyssey
Is not obeyed -- no Cato, Seneca
Or Catullus -- their wisdom we all flee --
And liberalism dies, America.

And who now reads the secret legislators,
And who knows who invented human nature?
It's not your narrow-minded Senators --
There is no wisdom in your legislature.

The anti-intellectual Left and Right
Are on our social systems but a blight.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

On Patronage

The patrons are the poet's audience --
To please them is his pleasure -- he is poor
Without them -- words won't come his way -- and hence
He writes with them in mind -- they make him more.

Your audience determines what's your song --
You sing the song of government to pay
Your bills if they would pay -- or you belong
A partisan of people -- they're your clay.

Yet there are those who think they must refuse
To have an audience for whom to write --
They say their art is sullied if they bend
To any will but theirs -- they seek a Muse
Of solitude -- they don't care to delight --
But people die when they cannot depend.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Way that Can Be Spoken

The poet is a Proteus who flows
Up from the sea into a quaking tree
And from a tree into a snake, a rose,
A person and a stone, a tiny flea.

I am these things -- I speak their language, hear
Their thoughts and sighs -- I delve into their time
And space to tell you what they most revere,
Each dream and virtue, every lust and crime.

And thus you cannot hold me down, proclaim
You know my mind -- I am the voice of each
And every being which emerges, same
And different -- these are what I come to teach.

I am a lion -- try to grasp my mane
And I will like a fountain flow away
Between your fingers -- get a cup, it's vain,
For I'll become a golden ass and bray.

I am the atom and the stone, the stars
And firmament -- I am the flowers, fruit
Upon the branch, strong horses and old cars --
I am the leopard and earth-bound newt.

I'm man and woman, sane and lunatic,
I'm mortal and divine -- and in this strife
Where all I speak is true and but a trick
You'll find uncovered consciousness and life.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Nature's Sacrifices

The oil slicks across the sea, the black
Refracting rainbows. Death for fish and birds
Who get caught up and wrapped in oiled waves.

It's easy to forget this oil means
The great wise whales aren't hunted near to loss
For oil that they carry on their flesh.

The sea gulls whisper that they welcome life
Made by their sacrifice when, rare, it's asked.
The sardine schools are surfaced in great thanks.

Around the windmill generators birds
Are sacrificing selves to keep the seas
Clean of the oil. Feathered bodies pile up.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Home Cooking

I grew up in Kentucky with a mother
Who was a picky eater. Spices rare --
Just seasoned salt -- we dared not have another --
The cupboard for the spices was most bare.

A little Southern (for my dad), a bit
More Northern (mom, who cooked), we ate Ragu
Spaghetti, chili bland of chilies, flit
From biscuits sopped in sausage gravy, stew

With carrots and potatoes to fried eggs
And toast, corn and mashed potatoes with cream
Gravy, fried chicken (breasts, but not the legs)
All filled the kitchen table, curling steam.

I learned to cook with spices when I went
To college. There I tried cuisines that I
Had never had the change to even scent --
To Chinese, Mexican I had to try.

And now, a marriage later, on most days
I'm making tacos, enchiladas, corn
Tortillas wrapping chicken, spicy trays
Of food, hot peppers used like I was born

In Mexico -- or Texas at the least.
My mom would find it odd I feed my brood
Such meals -- but honestly we do not feast
On Mexican: we only call it "food."

Friday, October 2, 2015

Names

A name is magical, a spell --
A name converts a verb to noun,
Turns constant change to being -- cell
To truth, it fools you like a crown.

Your name is your illusion you
Are who you were and who you'll be --
When you are not, are never true,
But always changing what we see.

And yet a tiger names a thing
With stripes, sharp teeth and claws, and death
Will follow your dismissal, bring
You down to being without breath.

Becoming turns to being -- worn
Upon its feedback, being's born.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Narrow-Minded

Our poetry is missing monsters -- delve
Into the mind to find the rind of thought
And you will soon divine the synthesis
Of all with awe to thaw each thought we sought.

The serpent, lion, eagle, flame emerge
To fearsome dragons, awesome concepts drawn
To sum our fears, to tame our tears, to bring
Us courage through the breaking of the dawn.

The dawn divinified as exposed breasts,
The sun a chariot drawn by a god,
The stones are spirit-filled and fairies, sprites
Are found in trees and nights as our eyes nod.

The tree of life, great Odin's horse, the tree
Of knowledge of what's good and evil, grapes
And pomegranates, sacred groves once filled
The forest of our minds, once-great landscapes.

We think our minds are open and are free,
But they cannot contain the multitude
Of monsters that our minds once loved and grew --
Our minds now merely make a sickly brood.