Selling something to a rich man…

Sell Me Something

The man pulled up slowly in a new Jaguar,
the more expensive one, which was obvious,
and I greeted him and his young son,
pointing out the table
of twenty-five cent items
and the other with dollar items;
he smiled and said,
sell me something; so I asked,
do you fish;
yes, a little;
and I showed him a plastic
device shaped like the body of a fish,
to grip an unruly catch;
you may not mind baiting the hook,
but who likes the lingering smell of fish
when you’ve landed your lunch;
I pay someone to do that for me,
I have that kind of money;
well, besides the argument that
that might not be true fishing,
does your son here have
that kind of money, or are you
going to let him go through life
never knowing what he’s glad
to have enough money to pay
someone else to do for him;
sold, he said; and
paid his twenty-five cents,
handing the device to his son who
threw me a disgusted look, he called out;
thanks for selling me something
worth more than twenty-five cents
my friend, you’re a good salesman.

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When we need heroes but there are none…

Heroes, Unsung

Finding little worth fighting and little worth life
leaves heroes undiscovered and thus unsung.
Cautionary grace notable amidst strife,
languishes anon with venom stung.

Ignorant to fault, unknown whom;
blithely ashamed, subsist entomb.
Finding little worth life and worth fighting for
leaves idols disguised and easy to ignore.

Whence will they rise and might they appear;
what the occasion and for whom will they ride?
Preferring paladins whom we may revere
charging opportune our reprieve to provide.

Grand their entrance, hastily depart;
hurried the glory, thankless heart.
Whence might they show, when will they arise
whom will they rescue and what the surprise?

Pretenders needn’t apply nor propose a name,
no compensation and not a single holiday.
Reference unnecessary, experience the same,
recompense a single and collective hooray.

Fleeting is glory, blazing abright;
modest the way, countenance contrite.
Pretenders resign and willingly profane;
little appreciated and splendor’s shame.

Grandeur appropriate and fit for these times
must go begging and decline its excellence.
Serving the character of accomplished climes
demands mean customs befitting indulgence.

None the better, all assonant;
shun the single, solely temperate.
Grandeur suitable and easily held
meager in merit and plainly felled.

What kind of advice do you want to hear…

A How-To of Life

Since everyone is in the business
of giving advice—even advice about advice,
I thought I’d take my turn because
if no one listens to the advice of others
then why shouldn’t mine be ignored too.

Go to school, if you can, but don’t
try to enjoy tests or group projects with
people who never do their part
of the work, and don’t expect professors
to understand how ‘she’ didn’t do the work
because that’s the point of group projects.

Stop telling yourself that Bill Gates and
Steve Jobs dropped out of school and still
became billionaires, because you’re not
Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, unless you are
someone that special, then ignore this
advice because if they didn’t there would
have been no Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

If there are leaves on the sidewalk
then shuffle your feet and even
kick some into the air and remember
the sound of their crunch and the
colors because soon they’ll rot and stain
and be hidden under snow and frustration.

When driving be sure to wave in
kindness when a stranger lets you merge
or even if you’re trying to merge and
no one seems to want to let you
because a sincere wave is more effective
than a turn signal just like being nice is
more effective than giving them the finger

Everyone likes to be told they’re special
even if it’s a logical tautology to say
that everyone is special so no one is
special, like the ‘no two snowflakes
are identical’ is also a lie but that doesn’t
stop us from liking to be told we’re special.

Stop running or walking long enough
to feel the breeze and try to enjoy it
especially if it smells like chocolate because
there are no calories in air and it could
smell so much worse than chocolate
and often does.

While we’re on the topic of smells,
always stop to smell a clean baby,
right after its bath but before it
reverts to its natural state, but
don’t be creepy about it and the only
a nice person, so be a nice person.

What Nietzsche knew about babies…

NietzscheWow!

Nietzsche said “Love, too, has to be learned”
and we started with our first by teaching her
to say, ‘Wow’ – kissing lips opening as a fish
with a slow, drawn-out ow-ow-ow between
the magical w’s; it is a word that goes around
itself, a palindrome to embarrass all others
and she loved, absolutely loved, the joyful
surprise on adult faces as she so carefully
pronounced, over-and-over again, her word
of wonder until she broke into a smile and the
wow’s had to stop because upturned corners
of the mouth break into the world of wows
as if competing for delight, and it took her
learned discipline to recapture the lips which
would say her wonderful word ‘Wow’ and we’re
awed, every day, she knows what it means.

Once upon a name so great…

To Be Alexander

Names are fine and good
until they become larger than life,
like Alexander born to be the Great,
and made to bear the weight
of everything – every strife,
heartbeat, footfall and all
there is to be known about a
someone – just one someone
who once folded in Lanike’s arms,
exhausted with laughter,
let alone stumbling across Asia,
tucking a Homer under his pillow
to dream of another city bearing
his name; legends are made
of such dreams – Olympias’ visions
of lightning bolts en utero
for the boy born to serve as
defender of man to the ends
of this earth, and another,
and another.

Permission to fail has been granted…

permissionPermission or Forgiveness

If only, if, “If I knew then
what I know now” I know I’m not
smart (or good) enough to do
anything differently; I know that I
don’t know how to know
differently, I know that even
with perfectly clear hindsight,
sharply focused and contrasted
lines diagramming right and wrong,
touch and don’t touch, walk
and don’t walk, buy and sell,
I would still act stupidly
and need forgiveness
instead of permission;
because it’s only later and
not at the time that I know
what I should have known,
and I’m fine with that because
I’m enjoying forgiveness.

Renting my way through life…

Renting, Just Renting

I am a tenant
but with roots,
a wanderer
but with reason,
a renter
but with gladness.
This was not always so,
the pleasure
of residing nowhere long,
the inconvenience
of constantly forwarding,
the uncertainty
of where to lay my head.
I was raised in a house
and moved just once
taught to buy, not rent,
to earn and possess,
to save, store and spend
only what was saved,
that credit was a debt.
But somewhere
along the path I chose
I became a lost man,
never to be found;
somewhere became
nowhere and that
was fine, just fine.
This earth is my home
but my addresses
are only where I’m found
at one moment or day;
and since I cannot
be found
I must never be lost.
I am home
wherever I am
a friend
to all who wander
a companion
to all who dream.
I am a renter.

When I look into the mirror…

A Beautiful Crow

Every day – every single day,
a crow appears outside the mirrored
corporate windows of my office,
cawing and craning its neck
to catch a glimpse of itself,
darting and dashing and thumping
its beak that cruelly glances off
the impenetrable glass, rain or shine,
undaunted as it is angered by
its own reflection; and inside,
every day – every single day,
people appear inside the mirrored
corporate windows of my office,
gawking and straining to see
the stupid, stubborn crow,
complaining of its devotedness
to destroy what it sees in the mirror;
and it appears there is no real
difference – only the separation
of what is really transparent.

An ode to taxonomies galore…

taxonomytakˈsänəmē – the process or system of describing the way in which different living things are related by putting them in groups.

In other words, playing God.

 

Taxonomy
It’s called something majestic
I think, but, of course,
I’m not at all certain what it
has been named by some
stuffy old Brit who
taxonomized each and
everything he encountered
along the way of conquering
the world for the glory of
the Empire without its
setting sun; species,
genus and domain, class and,
of course, kingdom
capturing a great philosophical
divide of nomenclature
about the metaphysics of
taxa reflected in international
codes of phylogenetic
clades fighting over whether
this majestic thing remains
the same as it matures
from infancy through instinct
or environment to eating
and defecating, remembering
and fearing and forgetting
or forgetting to forget
to trust shapes and shades,
as monocled beards in
tweed debate whether
amnesia hollows identity,
voids inheritance and
biology, or the loss of a
limb or transgendered and
therefore asexual (yes, the English
have such dialogues) requires
a corresponding alteration
of similarities or differences
in classes for without
breeding this beautiful,
majestic thing is a nothing
at all, simply an exception
proving the rule by
which it is ignored in a
footnote; but I refuse for
it is stunning as it
refuses a proper name
in my ignorance – a sanctuary
of sorts as it plays with
ancestry and biology
and my only fear is the fear of
ignoring its performance.

What I learned as a teacher…

stonerOnce upon a time I held a romantic dream of fame and fortune in higher education. (Stop laughing….)

This was outlandish for a high school dropout, but I was undeterred by my own story. It was more of a dream for me than all or any of you – as you dutifully marched through grades and degrees while I dallied and dillied in my deficient disorder. And with effort – more than so many alongside – I arrived, burned brightly for a few years, and have dimmed ever since. But that’s my story.

There are few ‘good reads’ about such things, and with good reason. There are only a few of us who dream such foolishness (limited market), and our dream is unbelievable or undesirable (to the market). One exception is an oddly titled narrative from John Willaims – Stoner (http://goo.gl/luA0Wd). Ever heard of it? (Didn’t think so.)

In the meantime, here’s something about what I learned as a teacher…

Great Things
I spent my life doing great things
at least in my own eyes;
better words, deeper thoughts,
longer books; languages, authors
and thinking things people didn’t
think because it hurt to do so, but
I enjoyed the pain and wanted
more, to learn just to learn
and speak and write out of joy,
not compulsion or guilt,
with my delight, sometimes
out of understanding, often
just because I was contagious
in the way I loved finding out
there is so much more to
be found out, so much more;
I spent my life doing great things
and some of them were very good,
even kind because of education’s
gentle touch, so unknown, so
mysterious, when teacher is
learner and students evaluate
with agreeing nods and notes
of I can’t imagine what – what
was said worth writing down
is the mystery because this
won’t be on the test, it will
only be in this classroom,
in this moment important
because I made it seem like
the entire world was waiting
to hear what it depended on;
I spent my life doing great things
and at times I was paid to do
the things I knew were great,
but more often I had to fit them in,
in between the labor and burdens
and ordinariness of women and men
who refused to know what was new
to be known and preferred
to repeat what they’d heard
another pretend lover say
from notes composed over
a score past, including humor
to connect with the dead or
dying and good grades were
in rote memorization of
names, dates and the teacher’s
words that filled in blanks
he created like a crossword
of life and death without
real consequence, only tenure;
I spent my life doing great things
and there are still so many
great things to do but it’s
become too difficult – the fight
for space to breath, and I need
air more than money, and
money more than books now,
and that alone makes me cry;
seeing others do what I love
to do and make a living at it
but eager to retire, to quit and
I’d give anything, anything just
to have the chance, once again,
to live the life of a learner,
indebted to all there is to know.