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.

Advertisements

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.

In a Good Story…

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 turn 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 do 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.

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

6 Kinds of People

peopleThere are six kinds of people in the world,
and while that seems a few too many, it
really is just about right; most tell the story
in binary terms of thin or fat, tall or short,
boy or girl, innie or outie, lefty or righty,
black or white, but the either/or’s miss
the point that they’re there to make life
easier, remove fear and create it at the
same time, in the us/them of good or
evil, on or off, East or West; six kinds
of people is too hard for thoughtless
assumptions and is never divisible the
same way every time; the first kind of
person needs drama, enemies or gossip
to feel important and alive, the second is
passive-aggressive in an adolescent kind
of way, like adolescents are, rejoicing
in not liking much as in nothing much,
the third are the lovers of any and all
in a genuine need to love whatever
it doesn’t matter what, no matter who,
and the fourth just don’t understand
what the problem is but are unsure why
everyone seems so uncomfortable all the
time, the fifth are saddled with guilt and
consternation over what must have gone
wrong and are eager to serve as the
scapegoat of life’s troubles and unsatisfied
desires, and the sixth kind are very, very
needy but there’s nothing that will satisfy
whatever it is that may be needed; and
there is no seventh kind or perfect balance
or exact blend of all in just one, no
superhero or Mary Poppins of practically
perfect proportionality to frustrate everyone
else and solve the puzzle; all in-between
are tints, hues and shades creating
landscapes of families and clubs,
churches and schools, homes and
aways that struggle over who to admit,
to welcome, to evangelize, convince,
convert, or date or marry, love and
hate, ally with or against in this circle
of surviving constantly being twisted
into squares but refusing to hold
the edges and always opting for the
three-hundred-sixty degrees that
breathing requires; this is no
anthropology or divinity but strange
anecdotes of funny stories with punch
lines and laughs to be shared or
explained as we search for an audience
called friendship in the theatre of war.

On learning who I am…

tree falls in the forestI 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 is 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.

He might have been god…

The Name of God

I never knew the name of the man in the red vest,
with seven pockets and a knife sharpened pencil,
fingers dirtied with iron dust from picking nails,
clipping lengths of rope or showing men how-to
just about everything there is to-do that drove them
to the hardware store early on a Saturday morning,
every Saturday morning with my father who looks
and carefully lingers, sorting through nuts and bolts
waiting for our turn to ask about the broken part
dirtying my Dad’s palm and me wondering why
my father who knew everything didn’t know this;
I stared at the man’s boots that looked like
they were never new, his navy blue pants with
bottom inch turned-up into a cuff holding sawdust
as he told, then showed Dad the how-to to-do
and I nodded along with them like I understood it all;
I never knew his name, but it might have been God.

Not many isn’t enough…

salvation“Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.”
1 Corinthians 1:26

Not many isn’t enough
The apostle said, Not many
with a note of humility to make
me wonder who they are and
why they’re not in church.

Finals week at Oberlin…

imageIt’s the quietest of quiet afternoons
with a day to read (again)
for an oddly scheduled final,
as a wisp of Lorain air trindles
through pines that have seen it all;
a painter dressed in white from
head to toe erases smart graffiti
from a STOP sign without caring,
a girl sits in her car
crying over something worth crying over,
and a professor walks her equally aged
canine across another lawn until it
stops and sits for the very good reason
of looking at nothing at all
in the middle of everywhere but
there is no complaint of better to do
and this professor waits as happily slowed
to another stop today at Oberlin.