My little girl’s question…

The Hardest Part

My daughter asked what was the hardest thing
about… and I braced myself for her question, doubting
my ability to answer as I ought, hoping it was answerable
by her mother, that I would reply tactfully, and she
would know my love even when wrapped up in mistakes;
she had to repeat the question for me, about the hardest
thing about…learning to ride a bicycle, and as soon as
she said it I stopped myself, thought carefully, and said
it had to do with steering into the falling sensation – no one
liked that but it was the only way, along with continuous
peddling (you gotta keep peddling) to stay upright; she
had her own answer and blurted out, the hardest part
was the pavement and skipped haplessly out of the room
giggling, leaving me speechless and smiling in relief,
wondering why can’t all her questions be this much fun.

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You might not need to go home again…

A Wilderness Called Home

Most just stay put, where they began,
through no choice of their own,
except to stay of course, an accident
of birth and even that seems consolation
enough to sleep each night and rise
each morning without wandering,
calling it home; sometimes it’s war that
makes you move, but not here – our war
is for money, for a living, for a life; those
are the only movers today, no more
nomads, vagabonds or hobo’s riding the
rails, driven by the voice of God
even, to live in tents or tenements,
looking for something. anything better,
which is to say, just a little more than
now; there are those brave souls who
leave just to leave, some out of adventure
but most from desperation, escaping what
hurts too much to stay near because
the world’s a wilderness, unless home is.

I’ve never killed anyone…

Brussels-SproutNo, I’ve Never Killed Anyone

The common consolation
that we’re not that bad
only works if we’re able to find
those despicable creatures who are so vile,
baseless, and unloving that our selfishness
seems virtuous in comparison;

hopefully we only hear of such bad apples
on the news or in gossip—yes, that’s a comfortable
and safe distance, because it’s just too much
to experience such things ourselves
and it’s better to drive-by and gape
than to have our names on the accident report;

distance makes all things nice
when it comes to evil or misfortune or
dumb luck—a ‘there but for the grace of God’
voyeurism, or a prayer of thanksgiving
uttered in relief when we discover it’s just
the neighbor’s house ablaze and not our own;

we don’t steal candy from babies,
rape and pillage like barbarians, and
we’ve never killed anyone
(to the best of our knowledge), and maybe
we’ve been ignorant of the poor and hungry
of the world, as my mother used to say
when protesting my diet and volunteered
she could send starving children elsewhere
what I’d refused to eat since they’d be
so happy to have what I took for granted,
even brussels sprouts but brussels sprouts
never killed anyone either.

When I am old…

The Business of My Business

One of those fascinating oddities
I find so thrilling and my family mocks
blurted out of the radio the other day;
it’s about the paper-products industry
and real life all at once—announcing
its fastest growing and largest segment
is no longer bags or cups or even
plain-old-paper, as anyone would imagine,
but incontinence products, as in,
adult diapers, and much to the enjoyment
of my family, I can’t contain my excitement
over this development; it’s because
we’re getting older, not younger, I say,
and they laugh at me, again,
so I remind them (because I still remember
enough to remind them of certain things)
that when they were children we played
a game I called ‘When I’m old will you…’
as I pushed them on the swing, asking
in a serious voice, ‘When I’m old will you
bake me cookies?’ and they’d giggle
and promise, ‘Yes,’ and I’d ask, ‘The ones
will little chocolate chips and nuts?’ and
they’d agree, ‘They’re the best!’
and I’d go on, ‘When I’m old, will you
cut up my meat into tiny little pieces
so I can chew it when I’ve lost all my teeth?’
and they’d laugh harder and promise,
‘Of course I will,’ and then would come
the best one yet, ‘When I’m old, will you
change my diaper?’ and they’d belly-laugh
and gasp for air just to swear, ‘I will,
I promise!’ and I remind them today
that I knew what I was talking about
when they were just little kids.

 

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.

Meanwhile…

Meanwhile

Meanwhile 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.

Thinking about thinking…

How people think in the bathtub
is beyond me, I just don’t know how they do it;
the water is warm enough just so long,
until about the time I think of something
worth thinking about,
then I wonder if it’s okay to run more hot water
and how full is too full
and if I have to start the thinking
all over again from the beginning
or if I can pick up where I left off,
but I give up,
nothing important comes to mind,
except that I have nothing important
to think of and how a bath won’t
make it happen, and I notice
my fingers are pruney, the water feels slimy;
I can’t wait to get out, dry off
and see how long it takes until I decide
to try to think of something
worth thinking about again.

 

 

Words are good enough for me…

words2Words are good enough for me…

Living this way is more than a creed – it’s like air to the lungs… like air to my lungs. But bad words – the bad use of words – seems pure evil to me, and I can’t get beyond it (that’s my burden to live with, or die with).

Words are good enough for me, so I play with them.

Words are good enough for me, so I let them play with me.

Words are good enough for me…

Workman by Day
A nobody to professors, a workman by day
this subtlety ordinary man said we write
(if we do) for others and not ourselves;
a simple diversion for the wordy perversion
making things fit snug like a girdle once did,
hiding things curvy, restraining and deceiving
the favors like adverbs for our great, untidied
neighbors, their reading a passion for our
weakened fashion of night’s haunts which
scare us awake and forced to contemplate
the nightmares of failures and adult scares
which only verse hides what sunlight chides.

Thoughts and Thoughts
A thought that can be thought
without something thoughtful to be done
is no thought at all, but a mere pretender;
thoughts which generate no ideas
and make the weak weep, the simple
comfortable, and the frail cringe at whims
like wishes so all beggars ride. Puzzled and
rancorous ideas are harmless excuses of
unexamined life, a sermon looking for life
in the service of paranoid, naval-gazing
called spirituality, pharmacology without
diagnosis, life without death,
desire without lust, and obedience without
ignorance. Ruined lives litter the path of
thoughts, bitter disciples
are casualties of this pedagogy,
angry tears are learners’ lovers, hemlock
cocktails mixed by the bartender of the many.

And I Quote
What is a quote to be quoted
and to whom does it belong?
those marks somehow borrow
what I wish was my song;
what I want as my own
but someone found before,
almost perfect way of words
I must have, and I adore;
sometimes because of who
but I prefer what is said,
the world is but objects,
not facts’ means instead;
picture what is or is not,
but what is written is read
stop asking what it means
or you’ll always be misled;
while I will quote as I wish
call me a plagiarist as well
all’s words and other words
not things we jsut misspell.

 

Blue Monday is a lie we believe… #BlueMonday

Blues_MondayThe third Monday of January is called Blue Monday. It started all the way back in 2005 – by a travel agent trying to drum up business.

Yep, they just made it up.

But everyone buys it because everyone hates Mondays. No one has to argue it or prove it; it’s an inalienable thing – self-evident and all that.

And it’s a lie.

“Who has actually decided that this day is the most depressing day of the year?  To get some scientific clarification – Dean Burnett, neuroscientist at The University of Cardiff – has described the conclusions drawn about Blue Monday to be ‘farcical’, and concocted with ‘nonsensical measurements’. In fact, the ‘scientists’ who first reported Blue Monday were found to have received payments from PR and Marketing companies related to holiday companies specialising in winter breaks.” (http://uktherapyguide.com/blog/blue-monday-here-to-stay/)

The pseudo-science of Blue Monday even has a mathy-thingy:

the_blue_monday_formula_11008

It is a meaningless math-like thing (kind of like the way I did math before dropping out of high school) that takes debt (first credit card bills after Christmas), a general lack of motivation (Seasonal Affective Disorder – S.A.D.), weather conditions (in the northern hemisphere), and the assumed failure of New Year’s resolutions, so you should go on a vacation. It’s B.S. (and I don’t mean a Bachelor of Science).

But follow #BlueMonday hashtags today and you’ll find it’s popular. Shame on us.

Everyone hates Mondays, and Blue Monday is the Anniversary of our hatred. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

IMG_7659

James Callahan @jamescallahan

Check back every Monday for more Remaking Monday – Remaking Your Life.

Or, if you’d like to receive Remaking Monday – Remaking Your Life updates in your inbox, send a request to: remakingmonday@gmail.com

See you next Monday!

James Callahan

(Please retweet, like, forward, gossip, tell a friend, ask people to pray for me because I said B.S. and everyone knows what that means)

Confession and other silliness…

confessionalConfession is good for the soul of gossips – that’s the way the expression should read.

This is a paragraph from an unpublished manuscript entitled Elizabeth Parsonage:

That was where the pastor met with people – in the study; it was a safe place, almost officially so. A confessional, but with a couch and chairs and a desk and shelves lined with books. Sometimes the books were about the Bible, sometimes about theology, but ever since the 1950s they were more and more about feelings and relationships and marriage and love and how to handle rebellious children, but they didn’t seem to help much. It was like they were commentaries but not solutions like they seemed to promise. This book could save your marriage. Follow this advice and your teenage girl won’t hate you. But they didn’t work, at least not as much as one would wish. People would come to the study and spill their guts as if the pastor knew as much as God knew, and they’d say everything with the promise that Nothing would leave this room. And if the walls could talk they’d tell you things about divorces and pregnancies and hatred and tears and deaths and scandals and sickness and pettiness and revenge and although most would be curious about other peoples’ troubles, any real human being listening to what the walls had to say would be in tears and tell the wallpaper to shut-up.

 

And this is a little something which, I confess, means more to me than it should…

Confessor Cat
There’s a black cat that visits my home every day,
walking carelessly toward my door, toward me
looking at it out my window, with eyes that flash
bright when lighted, then quickly darken again.

And when I see it, I count my sins, unprompted
I rehearse the errors of my ways while the cat
slows and gracefully sits, staring at me like it knows
what races through my mind, and how I’ve erred.

It isn’t hurried, nor is it asking anything of me;
there’s no deep-seated memory from my youth,
no intuition of the deities of ancient Egypt,
just a feral beauty at ease without need of home.

My mind races through the rights and wrongs
without a tally, and the black cat waits just long
enough for my silliness to end; and because
gifts are exchanged, I now feed my confessor
in sacramental pâté, but first returning thanks
for the privilege of a conscience assuaged
by the simple act of being seen by a black cat.

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