In praise of boredom…

boredMeanwhile everything’s the same,
fish swim downstream as well as up
so don’t be fooled by cliché’s fame,
because virtue’s virtue will corrupt

itself and all who still pretend
there’s a something beyond it all,
thus refusing to bow they ascend,
proud as Icarus they rise to stall;

meanwhile the rest of us plod along
doing what must be done less airs
allowing a dream of being so strong
but saddled with every day cares.

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Today is nothing special…

on-this-day-in-history-eventsOn this day in history
absolutely nothing of consequence
happened, to anyone, anywhere;
no ships sailed, no princes born,
discoveries in science, medicine
just didn’t happen on this day,
yesterday and tomorrow are
filled with life-changing people,
events, battles that turned great
wars into peace, even the subtle
alterations to the fabric of everyday
life made by once anonymous people
which reverberated into time and
made history; remarkable things,
great consequences, overwhelming
tragedies and brave exploits
all happened on other days, just
not today; of course some were born
on this day, babies loved, wanted,
even prepared for, but they remain
nameless to all but their mothers,
unknown to school books and
will never fill-in-the-blank’s of
literacy exams for they just were
and are no more; and the closest thing
to notoriety they’ll enjoy is that on
this day in history they’ve been
written about, sort of.

No one has cried…

I am the tree that fell in the wood
with no one caring to hear,
the one at whom dogs bark
out of hatred instead of fear;
I am the one who spoke loud and clear
with no one knowing I uttered,
the door that is still a door
and not a jar unshuttered.
I am the book written but unread,
with a spine uncracked or bent,
the lure considered but dry,
un-tied, untackled, and unsent;
I am the road often taken and trod
derided in gospel and verse,
the angel that didn’t fit on pin head
in the sophistry that’s so perverse;
I am the billions ten times over
who have lived and loved and died,
the everyman ignored or enslaved
and for whom no one has cried.

Folding laundry…

When it’s past late but not yet early,
she stands aside a table searching her
laundry basket, folding towels and
matching socks by feel and fabric in the
dark and imagines all her children – all
at once – all now so far from her and
they’re all safe; it was so long ago
and everything else has changed,
the house is gone but she can still
hear the tap of their feet sneaking to
one another after bedtime, conversations
of no consequence crisscrossing dinners,
the splash of baths and the wet tangles
of exhausted heads on her shoulder,
and damp towels dropped anywhere,
gathered to wash and dry and be folded
in the dark alongside dozens and dozens
of socks matched by feel and fabric.

Pages unturned…

This is a room in which all of life fits
soaring arches of stone unearthed and shaped,
draped in heavy, old wood, dark with age
from the Garden of Eden but untouched,
with all of everything bound and shelved,
rows and rows in some divine order
not worth arguing over, only to enjoy,
spaces for reading, seats at tables,
paper but only pencils for taking notes
shafts of light crisscross and dust dances
in the show of rhythmed, unhurried air,
in perfect quiet only small sounds heard,
a turning page with tender respect,
signs of satisfaction or stifled laughs,
but in the shadowy recess of the isle,
before a skewed chair left untidy
it an open tome, heavy and solemn,
resting readerless with tear-stained pages,
unturned.

Church is now a coffee shop…

churchIt’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 sitting
too close and too obnoxiously
playing with a 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, 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.

Those people at your door…

jw.jpgI had a few free minutes so I
knocked on my neighbor’s door,
my neighbor the Jehovah Witness,
just to say ‘Hello’ or something
(I hadn’t really figured out a witty
line, yet), no one answered my
knock but someone did look out
the window and I heard voices

inside, so I knocked again as I
thought of something to say,
like “I hope I didn’t interrupt
anything important, like making
dinner for your kids or caring
for your terminally ill mother,
or the peace of reading a good

book (maybe a THE good book),
or catch you at a bad time like
when you were in the shower
or on the toilet and your shy
bladder was embarrassed by
my insistent and evangelistic
knocking; and still no answer

from inside so I knocked once
more, just one, sound, firm rap
on the door frame which shook
the hinges as if the archangel
Michael himself was attempting
to get a witness’s attention,
ready to share some literature

with you and maybe even offer
that there were only one hundred
forty-three thousand nine hundred
and ninety-nine and the one last
spot was yours IF you’d only answer
the door, but you were too busy
doing to others what they’d always
done to you; and it’s your loss.

Every good story begins…

In every good story someone dies
(sometimes, but more frequently,
in bad ones as well); not always
tragically or poignantly, not always
sadly or in a timely fashion, usually,
importantly a death is required.

It may be that it’s a way to make
tales more authentic, but it ironically
renders death’s severity a mere ploy
in the hands of desperate dramatists
longing for gravitas yet in failure;
simply turning dust back to dust.

Occasionally it’s accidently but
unexpectedly; and if the desire is
manipulative – the death of a child,
boy or girl, either will do – to tweak
the emotions of even the hardened
with an appeal to the weak.

Now multiple deaths are a waste
to an author and thus school bus
fatalities (a kindergarten field trip
tragedy) are typically avoided
and mass murders’ victims aren’t
the story in the first place.

Too many tales are funereal,
too many yarns come undone
and too many wakes begin stories
of too many things gone wrong;
dramas of dads and mamas
until death does everyone part.

Narrators, of course, play God
knowing, seeing all, all at once
what’s in heads, hiding from light
but telling us only part of a story;
this or that reason for lost life,
providing knowledge we lack.

But the human story’s author
has wasted over a hundred billion
anonymous deaths littering lands,
mocking prophet amidst dry bones;
as the deity’s wonderful plan for life
trumps all novelist’s narratives.

Obituary for someone named Paul…

The link was obviously incorrect;
I was looking for an update about
Kim and Kanye’s engagement,
but wound up reading the obituary
of a man who wore over-sized
glasses, tinted, his smiling face
thick with wrinkles from too many
smiles or worries, dressed in a
wide-wale corduroy jacket, long
collared shirt and thick tie – all in

earth tones and probably a photo
from the last decade, his name is
(I don’t like to say ‘was’ for some
reason), Paul Edward; he died in

Ohio but wasn’t born there – maybe
marriage or work took him there
from Indiana (it’s next door after all),
but at the end he was alone in Ohio
because Agnes preceded him in
death by fifteen years, as had all his
siblings, Mary and John and
especially his baby sister Judith
who died in 1932 and that must

have been terrible; they had just
one child that survived to write
this obituary but he lives in Chicago;
I wonder how many friends he had
at the end of 92 years because he
had many at one time it seems – he

was high school football captain,
and during the war he was drafted
into the Army and stationed in the
Philippines, his post in hospitals
and recovery wards, and the obituary
said many wounded soldiers kept in
touch with him over the years, but

they’re all gone now too; he ran a
chicken farm for a while after the
war, then a hardware store and he
looks like the guy you could ask
anything and he’d quietly talk you
through the nuts and bolts of

repairing what needed repairing
(and I can imagine him complaining
that folks don’t repair things any
more, they just replace
them – as a commentary about
his generation, the one that

saved the world and was being
replaced now); they said he
was a well-traveled man, but
besides the Philippines all it
mentioned was Akron, Cleveland
and Toledo (and I’ve been to these
places, and they’re nice, but I don’t
think of that as well-traveled),

his story quickly added he made friends
wherever he went and that might
make all the difference in the
world; oh, and he was a Methodist
and sang in a choir for more than
50 years, some of them with his
wife before she passed, and that’s

where he met Agnes and I guess
there’s no better reason to have
a choir, besides praising the Lord,
of course; and if you care about
Paul Edward please don’t send

flowers, just give some money to
a church choir instead because
music was his passion; that’s when
I remembered what I was searching
for in the first place but I don’t
care as much about that now.

But not today…

mowing-the-lawnThere’s a little old church across the road
that divides the world – red brick, black roof,
steepleless, with every charm that makes people
say, ‘Oh, look at that little old church,’

and today there’s a little old man
mowing the lawn, slowly and carefully
as if he’s tending Eden; he’s dressed
for the occasion if the year was one of those
just after World War II,
in his dress shirt and a thin tie,

cinched to the collar which hangs loosely
looking like it would have fit perfectly
back before his flesh started
going the way of all flesh, but now he’s the one
who has been planning his whole week around

this job and I’m sure I can
hear him saying to himself he’s doing this
because people depend upon him
and if he doesn’t no one will, and you do some
things just because they are
the right thing to do,

and no, he can’t visit the grand kids today
because you know perfectly well
that he has to mow the lawn at church
and that phrase ‘at church’ has
all the moral importance of a decree or encyclical
issued by a synod or council long ago

when such things mattered,
when such pronouncements
settled all disputes, because it looks like he’s still
living in that world or wishes he were,
and there are times that I’d like to live
in that world too, but not today.