I took no map…

I went for a walk
In the midday clear
Without a care
I started here
First I stepped
Down the way
Looking to turn
And go astray
Few set out such
Finding one lost
Choosing to remain
Found at all cost
Views first cleared
Then went belief
Next conviction
This path a thief
I trust no thought
That comes at rest
And make no vow
Without a test
No crumbs to trace
No map to cheat
This losing way
Made by my feet
I recall that once
It was très fictional
To banter such
And be equivocal
For keeping all
Enslaved in race
Made wars of life
With power in place
Until such time
As walks unrare
Became a fashion
And tactless aware
Question a question
Doubt a doubt
Avoiding tenure
Enjoying the route
Power is race,
Race is war,
Art is tactic
And strategy ignore
Limping along
There are ways
For undoing control
And refusing praise
Ignoring so much
Of important voice
Searching out stories
Learning to rejoice
Enjoying the noise
And lacking cares
Following slaves
Attending affairs
There is no way
No map to home
No loss of joy
And so I roam

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Aeschylus watches…

AeschylusAt that opening of time when
slumbering dawn quietly overwhelms night’s hold,
and the soft glow of Mercy patiently plods
the moral-less darkness of her own anonymity,

light appears in unembarrassed windows
stained fresh with the dust of life
to greet curious strangers who will soon pass
spying how others might face the day,

and if all that’s lingering can simply be forgotten,
all that haunted and whispered and taunted
can be forgiven or concealed,

while inside Aeschylus stands, arm encircled
in his garment, bald but boldly bearded and
as Greek as can be steering every
tragedy in his constant effort to choose happiness
which we want to believe, we do, but

we choose to keep walking this street
looking for another answer in another window
and another choice that will be made for us.

Tell me again why…

History a tale of fallen’s friends
giving account of what had to be,
fixed by a sovereign who sees the end
saddled with desire to be free;

who erred that all are born this way
simply put, we all come going astray,
it’s sin, not hunger, that babies cry,
and not biology why we all die.

lost to be found, but only through Rome
intrude on our lust, our passion, our home,
named ex opere – the lusty lie
sprinkle the babies lest they all die;

create the fright, threaten what’s scary
touch our babes, but still necessary,
triumph assured, all wars justified
feelings condemned not capitalized.

As ears keep growing…

earWhen you get old you notice things
and that can be problematic if you care
like toenails (don’t ask, just notice if the elderly
ever expose their lower digits) or posture

that your mother always insisted was essential
in life but if so, life has taken a decidedly bad turn
and once again you must force yourself erect
which is another subject altogether too delicate

or hairs growing places they once didn’t or
shouldn’t or bushy eyebrows – have you ever
noticed that – I did once upon a time during
an office visit with my old professor as he
twisted and plucked his eyebrows insistently
to match his narration of Tell-Tale Heart,

I ran from his office to a mirror to inspect
my own, immature brow-décor and noticed
nothing unusually long or unruly… yet

but there’s another, unseemliness to growing
long-in-the-tooth about the ears because
they never seem to stop growing even as arms
and legs and necks and fingers stop on their
own, ears just insistently continue their merry
awkwardness as if to say we should listen
more and more.

A preference for blue…

Does it really matter what I think about
a color, favorite or not is just a preference,
and mine is blue; like the t-shirt and cap of
my little league uniform the year I played
shortstop, turned my first double-play or
the time I actually hit a ball over the head
of the left fielder but only made it to first
because I watched it sail so perfectly into
the blue sky while the coach yelled his
insistent ‘Run!’ but I wasn’t embarrassed;

it was the same blue of the sky above as a girl
named Jean rested her head on my chest one
summer’s day after our first awkward kisses;

it was the blue of swimming pool water
I swam every summer’s day, and it’s the
blue of the house I lived in on Hudson until we
moved to one of brick and brick isn’t blue;

I pick blue pens instead of black, blue ties
instead of red, my favorite car was a blue Nova
with a V-8 that drank gas faster than I could make
minimum wage to pay for it, and my eyes are blue
and I do enjoy being told my blue scarf brings
them out, but it doesn’t really matter what I think
about a color, favorite or not because it’s just
a preference and I always prefer blue.

Lovers forgotten…

There’s a wonderful novel on my shelf
which once slept bedside when read daily,
over and over again as if new, old pages
still surprising, reluctant in my progress
through the confused lives of Owen and Stevie,

how Kate loved Owen but Stevie loved Kate
and nobody loved the janitor, Mr. O
which they called him because no one
could pronounce his European surname;
how I cried every time I read about
the disappointments of their sad lives

and wondered at my own insignificant ways
until another lover came to bed with me
and the pages of Owen, Stevie, Kate and Mr. O.
gathered dust, then hid in a stack
until finally becoming lost on my shelf
next to the other lovers I’ve forgotten.

Weeds of War

After each cool night
and every warm morn
dew drunk and eager to mock
my weeds are waiting for me.

From my kitchen window
across the greening lawn
they choke my fruit blooms
mocking my efforted rows.

Uncultivated, unrelenting
stubborn to their roots
I’m left to battle my nemesis
with these bare hands.

Too swiftly they recover,
too eagerly they convalesce,
and shoot past stake, pole and string
to race toward the sun.

I have failed my training,
become trapped in this war,
as Sun-Tzu mocks my ignorance
for weed is but wild-flower.

Illumination

Morning’s gloom,
unwanted for a wannabe
but an aspiring scholar
greeted in his musty,
book-filled room
quietly rejoices to see
air for upturned collar
and studious honesty.

Tucked in a nook,
table for many pages
serves as an altar
and he the priest
of saints who took
pen from far ages
composing a psalter
of knowledge leased.

Murkiness around
every shelves’ stack,
drawing down editions
of obscure vexation
to others here bound
but he has a knack
for in these conditions
he finds illumination.

Living in the Shadow of Narcissius

Mirror“The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

What’s a pronoun?

That’s simple: a pronoun replaces a noun to make sentences less cumbersome.

(This would be a good place for an example, but that would be cumbersome.)

So let’s move on.

What’s a personal pronoun?

It’s how we talk about ourselves, each other and others. That’s simple enough.

Personal pronouns refer to person(s) that act as the subject.

And acting as the subject sounds important… it sounds empowering… doesn’t it?

We all like to feel important. That’s why moms and sometimes dads, teachers and some counselors told us, over and over again—how special we were. And we believe them… for a while at least.

But that stops, or at least it should stop.

If it doesn’t stop it’s called narcissism—a personality disorder more and more common among adolescents and adults. Maybe we didn’t learn how to negotiate the adjustment to adulthood, or maybe we believed all the pep-talks of childhood. But somewhere along the way we lost our way.

Narcissism is the trait of vanity, conceit and selfishness. (Now it sounds familiar, right?) It’s what’s wrong with us if we think the world and everyone in it should talk to us like our mama’s once did.

And if we don’t get over ourselves we become our own worst enemy.

In Greek mythology Narcissus was a self-absorbed young hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia. Some might not think it fair that poor Narcissus earned such a bad reputation because he was, in fact, beautiful. But he was also so proud of himself that he felt contempt for those who showed him love.

Sounds familiar, right?

From Narcissus we’ve either learned so much or learned to become so much. It’s hard to figure out whether we’ve become ourselves or we’re just being typical.

Narcissists are shameless, twisting themselves into perfection by distorting others, in arrogance degrading others for self-elevation; envying others because they’re entitled, exaggerating and bragging achievements without regret or gratitude.

How many narcissists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one. He holds the bulb while the world revolves around him.

And it’s common. Too common.

Everyone knew this about Narcissus but no one knew how to give him what he deserved. Except for Nemesis (in Greek her name means to give what is deserved, and we use the word nemesis to mean enemy—what’s deserved and our enemy are the same thing).

Nemesis made sure pretty boy got what he deserved. She led him a pool of water where he saw his own reflection and fell in love with what he saw. But he didn’t realize it was just his reflection.

This would be the right time to ask about looking in mirrors. They tell the truth and won’t lie to us; it’s what we see in them that makes the difference.

So let’s do it; look in a mirror.

If someone else is watching, and we don’t make it quick, what will others think?

Who cares?

It’s time to look ourselves in the mirror while others are watching.

And not care.

Narcissus was not only told how special he was, he believed it in the worst way possible.

He was trapped by his own reflection and was condemned to spend the rest of his days admiring his own reflection in the pool.

Narcissus was condemned by the first person singular—himself.

Narcissus only cared about Narcissus.

So let’s look in the mirror.

Can we see more than our own reflection?

Can we see a different pronoun than Narcissus saw?

What’s our pronoun?

What’s more than more…

There isn’t always, always more
to season’s joys or love’s embrace
to mothers’ love or men’s war
there isn’t always, always grace.

When what’s lost is lost indeed
not misplaced but put away
not forgot but must concede
when what’s not stolen is gone today.

To do what’s asked, asked of one,
with true design, studied course
with stoic aspect, end undone
to do without will, without remorse.

Life entombed, entombed unbound,
this coward bent and now crushed,
this hero followed and crowned,
life unearthed, death hushed.

There isn’t always, always more
when the promised one, only one
when none are left, left but for
there isn’t always, always none.