What to be afraid of or by…

hush-hush-sweet-charlotte-bette-davisSome things I’m frightened of, other things I’ve been frightened by; the difference is subtle, but important. Frightened by is an actual experience – something real that happened, an event, an accident. Frightened of is more of a phobia or irrational fear; it hasn’t happened but I still don’t want to have it happen.

I think I’m afraid of being frightened by being frightened of anything. That’ll do for now…

Knowing and Spiders and Snakes

Of all the things to be frightened by – spiders and snakes,
the dark, those higher than high heights, and what’s
under the bed at night to a child or the dark of a closet,
and spiders and snakes, I’ve learned of two which I fear
and will never be anything but: the fear of missing out
is the first – it even has an acronym: FOMO, but that
doesn’t make it 
less fearful; it’s still the paranoia of an
ideal life which 
must be out there and I’m missing it,
always missing it, 
the greener grass, the rose-colored glasses
ruining life; the second is the double unknown – not knowing
what I don’t know – is worse than can be imagined;
some will think it’s what the oracle of Delphi said
about Socrates being the wisest of Greeks, just because
he knew he didn’t know everything, but he knew
and he was confident enough to die, not me; Socrates
said he knew nothing, I wish to know what cannot be known
and therefore I’ll never be ready to die, 
never happy to sleep,
never unafraid enough to 
enjoy being frightened
by spiders and snakes.


Object Permanence

Imagine the memories of pain and hurt,
discomfort, disappointment and sorrow
didn’t just dissolve as they tend to, but
were stored-up, like a single collection
which stayed with you – a pool of tears,
embarrassments, losses, frustrations
and fears teaming with every dread,
every haunt of what has ever happened
and harmed the hope of comfort and
confidence that all’s well with the world
or at least tolerable; sure, some do
linger but the sting eases away somehow
and recollections fade, or else the
assemblage of broken bones, cuts
and bruises, stubbed toes and loves
lost would crush you, as poverty ruins
through an abundance of nothing;
there’d be no hauntless nights, not a
single pleasant day, courage would be
ridiculed and driven to despair by the
burden of history repeating itself
because our crimes against humanity
are as simple as living through it all;
so consider it a mercy to lack a sense
of permanence like an infant puzzled
by an object hidden, taunted with the
Where did it go? game we all play
and bless the benevolent omneity for
the freedom to forget, if not forgive.



On writing poems and other ways to fail with words…

When is When
When – that’s the best way to start
a poem about memories and tears,
and ‘tears’ is such a good rhyme
for fears, hears, nears  and years
which brings us back to when and
timing which is everything except
for emotion caught in time’s gears
(there’s that rhyme again), ripped
from childhood and baptized in
disappointment called adulthood
(you see, that’s how it’s done);
keep these things in mind and
compose away, don’t be afraid
to play with emotions and linger
while meaning disappears
and when becomes lost in years.

I tried to write poems like
the lyrics my children
seem to enjoy, lines on lines,
but soon found a profusion
of confusion in my delusion
that led to my exclusion
from the very union via
locution of my revolution;
the elocution was my
seclusion from any
allusion that my talent
was only pollution that
no redistribution would
be proven, hindered, no
doubt by a contusion
involving an optical illusion
of electromagnetic intrusion
like a nuclear fusion
killing millions of humans,
like a coronary occlusion,
like a lyric in a long search
for a fitting conclusion.

Stories worth telling

doctorshistoriansThe complete absence of medical doctors at their patients’ funerals is shocking, obvious, and upsetting. Yet, no one seems to care.

Their task – their one task – is to preserve life. And they fail. Every time. I know, I know… they don’t see it this way. They do keep people alive longer than they’d live if it wasn’t for their life-saving work (never mind that this longer life is lived in the waiting room before another doctor’s appointment). And this explanation satisfies everyone it seems. (If I had a 100% failure rate, I’d come up with a good explanation too.)

The other, obvious, god-like, grand and detached profession which contributes to life is called ‘the historian.’ Not just history, as in what’s happened, but the profession assigning meaning to all the crap that’s happened as if it had to happen – that’s the task of the historian.

Doctors and historians – can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

Humanized Anonymity

It has come to my attention
that doctors have a 100% failure rate,
if life is what they preserve,
and I’ve never seen one attend a funeral
unless it’s theirs, of course,
so I propose they be required to show
last respects for all their patients,
by law they must be there, embarrassing
as it will be, and apologize
along with everyone else saying ‘I’m sorry’
in the line winding around
the casket, and they will be one of the
only ones who truly mean it;

while I’m at it, I propose that
historians be forced to stand in public
at regular intervals, reciting
the names and a brief paragraph about
the millions and millions
they gladly ignore or anonymously label
when writing their big books
of sweeping, majestic generalizations
while a mother’s baby failed
to thrive and died in her arms yesterday,
a stupid boy, so unloved,
thought nothing of shooting a neighbor
so he might belong to a family
he’d never had before, or the paranoid,
wrinkled woman named Lucy

who spied out of her drawn drapes
at her new neighbors because
they didn’t belong in her neighborhood;

with funerals well attended
and public recitations going on daily,
we’ll be quite entertained but
probably not concern ourselves as we
go about ignoring important things
until we see our doctors dressed to mourn
or hear our name recited; and,
doctors would be so busy with funerals
that they’ll be unable to save lives,
and the writing of history books would
suddenly include observations
of the practice of public recitations and
how this is just a concession
to a silly and meaningless public clamor,
for meaning for humanized anonymity
that they’re happy to supply.


Stories Worth Telling

There was only one Charlemagne,
and thankfully so; one Genghis Khan,
Alexander the Great, and one wishes for
at least another Sojourner Truth, George
Washington, or Eleanor Roosevelt,
 on and on my books tell me about
this great thing 
called history and how
billions of lives 
twist and turn, begin
and end, are 
rich and poor as the earth’s axis
is made to turn on the life of just one,
usually male, usually violent with
mothers’ babies, usually loved
and hated simultaneously, and usually
infatuated with himself,
while we try kindness and hope,
recite ‘there but for the grace of God’
as consolation or cautionary tale,
dream and cry our way through days
all to be forgotten – dust to dust
in the unhistorical metamorphosis,
and the best one can hope is to be
a victim of a great man it seems,
or his see him once, or better yet
to be unseen by god-makers – historians
who don’t know our names and study
so as to not care or have to plainly say
we just don’t matter, he was
a perverse soul, another was brave
with words, a child afraid, and another
never knowing love or kindness
except for a sibling uniquely private,
one generous even in her poverty,
another loved her baby who failed
to thrive through no fault of hers
and lived with the loving guilt of a wish
for just one life among the billions;
all ignored, and necessarily so, for
there isn’t room on my bookshelf
for every story worth telling.

Help me; I’m drowning…


Just a few, on a slow Saturday…

Help me, I’m drowning
in a shallow pool of witticism,
slogans capturing paranoia of
the other, this jingoism without
cloaks reinforces the lowest of
common fears, and heads nod
in faith’s assent bravely denying
all that’s true in favor of Truth
unchanging, everywhere and
always for all; now we’re
instructed to repeat a word,
‘Impossible,’ say it, again, Im-
poss-i-ble; impossible not to
have it any other way; and
I’m drowning and cry out
for help – I’m in the second
pew from the back on the
right – please hurry.

In a fit of frenzy
(is there any other kind?)
I gave thanks without pausing
without ceremony, without stopping
to smell roses, coffee or spring perfume,
because unlike the behaviorally manipulative
life is my sacrament and no priest slows me down.

The New Church
It’s too early for this, for most,
for the man tying-up his big dog
to the bicycle rack being
scolded by a woman who was
slowed by his pausing, and
he just shrugged, entering through
the door held open by a man
staring at the chest of a passing
woman as would any gentleman;
a couple waiting in line together
as if they were strangers
and couldn’t’ care less the other
was alive, another couple sat
too close and too obnoxiously
play with a shared muffin, a bit
distracting to the two Bible studies
going on in dueling corners of
seriousness, both one-sided
lectures filling empty vessels
with pious clichés, nodding and
sipping – I can hear them both,
one about a Gospel and how
down to earth Jesus was (which
was a pun only the deliverer
seemed to appreciate), the other
in Leviticus about punishment
for sins that Jesus would be nice
enough to take care of for us;
and I’m sitting in my favorite spot,
back to a brick wall, legs
stretched out to hold my laptop
and I see through the window
the dog is staring at me, just me,
so I smiled and it sneezed to throw
off the accumulating snow.