Poetry of Life
What is this Christmas thing,
this day each year
when the world slows down?
How is it, so many give it purchase?
What is this fanciful tale
about an immaculately conceived
homeless child to which a star
became a miraculous guide for
noble pilgrims to come bearing gifts,
at the behest of a king?
How is it Gentiles and Jews both worshiped this child,
and four billion Christians and Muslims
believe He was born of the Virgin Mary
and will return to earth before the Day of Judgment,
and the world’s most read book chronicles His life,
and Earthly time is defined by the year of His birth?
Perhaps that unique and unusually soft feeling of peace and calm
that overcomes so many on Christmas Day is more than a delusion.
time’s not linguistic
no periods no commas
no questions no colons
time endlessly moving
like streams and extrusions
as time has no sunrise
nor sunsets nor pauses
nor bending nor rising
it keeps ever flowing
its pace never changing
and we live within it
and it rules our daytime
and etches our nighttime
and dictates our living
and measures our living
and judges our living
yes this thing we call time
unseen yet e'er present
who then said we need time
and who made it this way
and can we vote on it
and upend it some day
and just live our own lives
without being adjudged
by what time we show up
if we get to our class
or our work or our play
and our years as they are
to resolve our status
as one wise or damn fool
As we’re measured by time
versus heart, soul, or mind.
I no longer-
-check the restaurant tab.
It’s always wrong and resulting discussions are ill-timed.
-listen to Chopin.
The melancholy melodies stay in my head too long.
His cadaverous imagery darkens my demeanor.
-use exclamation marks.
Exclamation marks are for girls.
-seek intimate relationships.
There is too much unresolved trauma out there.
-covet material possessions.
They don’t improve life and they won’t improve death.
They always end up in the same place.
-comb my hair.
It just gets messed up again.
-attend cocktail parties.
Insipid conversation is not meant to be tolerated.
-drive expensive cars.
Been there, bought the poster, was a fool.
-indulge in fashion.
A black t-shirt and a pair of jeans are sufficient.
-wear dress shoes.
I’m addicted to wool sneakers.
-read frivolous fiction.
Actually, I never did.
-watch TV comedies.
All I can hear anymore is the laugh track.
-go to church.
I’m indulging my introversion and have sorted things out with God.
-have large houses.
Beds, recliners, refrigerators and TVs need little space.
-answer the phone.
It’s mostly unwelcome solicitation and colorless dialog, or my mother.
-set my alarm.
Time begat alarms and is bootless and oppressive.
Not voting is powerful voting.
I have discovered my mind and want to keep it.
Counterculturally, it had intellectual purchase. Now it’s just stupid.
Life is sublime, but death is supreme.
I’d like to be swashbuckler-cool.
Swing onto the deck of the enemy ship
brandishing my cutlass,
duelling three at a time with ballet precision,
taking control of the helm.
The wenches would want me.
Gunslinger-cool would do it.
Stride into the O.K. Corral,
Take down the Clantons.
Make 'em skedaddle like afeared jackrabbits.
Adoring angelicas run to my side.
To be knighted. Sir William.
Better yet, to be a lord,
comma after my first name.
William, Lord Bales.
That would fetch the Ladies.
I’d even go for society-cool.
Silk tux at cocktail hour. Light shoes.
Servants in servant attire carrying servant trays.
Velvet drapes. Accent chairs adorned with gold leaf.
Quintessentially-coiffed couture-clad rich girls at my disposal.
At least, be intellectual-cool,
like The Village in the 60’s,
reciting Kerouac to snapping fingers,
quoting Nietzsche and Kafka,
tripping with Ginsberg and Warhol,
being chased by the hippie chicks.
Worst case, five star bar-cool.
Black Armani suit. Espresso Ferragamos.
Five hundred dollar haircut.
The opening lines are by the lovelies.
They buy me drinks.
Take my pick. Or take them all.
To fantasize of such matters,
then leave the world unchanged.
I remember my first house
it was yellow
with a flat roof and a big yard
and a sandbox and roses
and giant oak trees
and lots of acorns and squirrels and leaves
played football in the street
one time a guy visited
the guy next door
with a new Corvette
some smoldering leaves
at the curb
made their way
to the Corvette
it burned up
just like three people
in a crash
a couple blocks away
my father and I walked
to see what was going on
I saw the charred bodies
our family birthdays
my grandmother made
angel food cake with orange icing
my uncle never talked
but he smoked a lot
always baked really good things
my father was always late
he didn’t like it there
there was lots of loud talking
changed a lightbulb
in the dining room
he dropped broken glass
into the mashed potatoes
our lake house was red and white
we spent the weekends there
we did lots of work in the gardens
my father mowed the yard
with his shirt off
my uncle hid in the garage
grinding his tools
my older cousin
swore a lot
and had boyfriends
with lots of pimples
they did things on the couch
she never felt well
she died of cancer
at my grandparents’ house
we got lots of presents
we ate broiled grapefruit
and cinnamon rolls
that my aunt made
I loved them
the big turkey dinner
lots of pies that my aunt made
and the wonderful smells
uncle abe always came
he was a jew
he brought us presents
he was my grandfather’s best friend
even though my grandfather
thought jews were bad
in my home
we had a big warm fireplace
I had an electric train
in the back room
the engine made smoke
our cat was named inky
because he was black
my mother yelled
and cried a lot
she beat my father
over the head with a pan
she was sad
her twin baby girls
died when they were born
at my school
I brought home
a paper I had written
I thought it was a good paper
about how I tripped
and fell outside
but my teacher
was really mad
she gave me an F
and wrote a note
to my mother
she didn’t like how I said
that I fell in the fuck
I didn’t understand
I always got A’s
but she gave me an F
I thought my mother
would be very angry
but she wasn’t
she gave me
cookies and iced tea.
A Zen Thing
Life is today.
After today, life will be tomorrow.
Yesterday, life isn’t.
These houses amongst the gently swaying pines,
where the sun shines well, and the breeze is just right,
with rooms unused, chairs unused, and bureaus of misplaced memories.
The light-shoed residents glide from room to room with ballet grace,
sipping imported spirits from lucent vessels,
their bodies soft, their skin pale and perfect.
These houses amongst the weary brambles,
cast on forgotten fields, the sun reluctant to reveal its fire,
no footing or furnishings without plan,
no objets d’art or frivolous adornments.
The heavy-shoed dwellers purpose from task to task with oddly elegant fatigue,
their extremities calloused, their sinews drudge-disformed.
And they dream of the light-shoed life, its unread books and tea tables,
the noble distant grass devoid of office or account.
He entered the room to uneven applause,
carting a fatigued briefcase, a bottle of wine and a tall glass.
He sat at a small table on the low stage,
opened the wine, and poured the glass full.
He drank down most of it, and without lifting his eyes
or saying a word set his case on the table
and extracted a stack of dogeared papers,
with which he proceeded to fumble.
He looked up and began to speak randomly,
no starting or ending points, saying nothing yet perhaps everything,
his uneven beard and shabby dress conceding an aspect of no import.
Shuffling further, he made a choice.
“I had an online date, a woman with a gigantic ass.
We wandered through an outdoor market, well, I wandered, she waddled.
She carried herself with dignity and confidence.
Her profile had said she was slender.”
He refilled his glass, tossed the
paper back into the case, and proceeded
to babble further as he dug through the stack.
He took another long swig of wine, and another.
“I sensed something positive within my soul the other day,
so I beat its brains in with a baseball bat.”
He chuckled to himself sardonically.
And he momentarily spoke lovingly of his cats.
They continued, these phosphorescent airs of life’s wreckage,
spilling out on all sides in every dimension and landscape.
Unafraid to do,
Unafraid to exist,
Unafraid to write,
I’d like to...
ride every road
swim every stream
scale every peak
turn every stone
watch every dawn
smell every bloom
climb every tree
count every star
read every book
speak every voice
sing every song
dance every waltz
know every man
touch every soul
try every bed
wear every shoe
hold every hand
watch every birth
kiss every cheek
give every gift
feel every feel
smile every smile
end every frown
calm every mind
stop every loss
pad every blow
mend every pain
knit every wound
slay every beast
oust every czar
end every war
and dodge every shot
I’d like to see the unseen
I’d like to be the unbeen
I’d like to live the unlived
this is what I’d like
We must live
the sum of fragments,
an incomplete equation.
We are born,
our lives vagrant,
unless we connect the dots,
an opaque sum.
particles of existence
windswept grains of sand.
revealing essence, answers,
through a looking glass beyond known thought,
to acquaint life’s soul
to the end of awareness.
is a citadel of purity
in a diminished world.
It’s a dream.
I hope I never go there.
The poetry of dreams
makes reality seem
so very prosaic.
Never Too Early to Say Goodbye, or Too Late to Say Hello
I have reached the point in my inescapable temporal decline
Where contemplation has subjugated planning,
And the amenity of constancy has eclipsed the adventure of lust.
While to the unordained this may seem a woeful lot,
It affords a sedative attenuation of the confused seas of my past.
At any point along the timeline of one’s corporeal tour,
From the unsurpassed grandeur of birth
To the concluding moments of infirmity,
One assumes an ever changing yet always singular perspective that defines us,
And impacts all whom we touch.
I circumspectly presume my birth, to my forebears,
To have been as glorious as that of my progeny to me.
I have faint but wonderful memories of the innocence of childhood.
My teens into early adulthood saw the antiestablishmentarianism typical of this age,
Laden with the trauma of current events.
The precarious energy of my twenties was greater than most,
Followed by the ever more sapient revelations of expanding experience,
Emerging in my thirties and beyond.
There was darkness, perhaps no more than most,
And no doubt part of the madness of His plan.
All in all, life for me has provided a tuneful yet dissonant symphony
Of experience that challenges non-contradiction.
And were I to be offered a reprise of the oft affanato middle movements,
I’d leave the premier as it was,
A flawed yet complete composition.
Temporal decline has provided an acquitting extenuation
Of what I once perceived the profundity of my missteps.
There will be no manic reflection or post mortem.
And as with postpartum mothers, my memories of past pain will disappear
And leave only the joyful moments accessibly lodged in the temporal lobe.
And if the drawers of my subconscious open at the final crescendo,
Unleashing past trauma, so be it.
That would only serve as a parting reminder of God’s wisdom
In His consignment of my brief moment of the flesh,
And the glory that lies ahead.
I am not yet dust,
And my first life of learning leaves me qualified to give the best of man.
The remaining days dictate I must apply the lessons of the past,
And be diligent in the manifestation of man’s chief end.
Consider this my ode of swans, and ultimate song.
So, dear friend, embrace life’s bittersweet tintinnabulation.
Be free, with peace.
Covet your moments before time vanishes and the Kingdom emerges.
Cherish your family, apply your mind, and open your heart to all.
Adieu, mon ami. We shall meet again.
at past compositions,
I think to myself
“Why did I write
Why did I
out of my life
producing this drivel?”
I think to myself,
“Who wrote this?
How did this emerge?
It has meaning.
Certainly it couldn’t
have been me.
I write crap.
Looking back at my life,
I think to myself
“How could I have
lived this life?
How could I have
invested so much time
in drivelous existence?”
Every once in a while
I look back at my life
And think to myself
“Did I live this life?
Where did this
life come from?
This life had
It couldn’t have been my life
because my life is crap.
Every once in a while
I contemplate my soul
and I think to myself,
“What a troubled soul.
Whose soul is this?
Who allowed this soul
Every once in a while
I reconsider my soul.
And I think to myself
“Maybe my soul
But it is.
The pasta special seemed a safe choice,
but the diabolical blend of exotic cheeses, heavy cream, and butter
was assailing my fragile sextenegenarian constitution.
I lay in bed attempting to logically deduce that
the bovine trifecta of saturated fat, and the resulting symptoms,
were not the augury of a most insidious end to it all.
Reeling from this Titanic case of indigestion
with enough stomach gas to refloat the Hindenburg, I lay scared awake,
my insomnolence fed by an intense desire
to avoid dancing the obituary mambo in my sleep.
My contemplations wandered between impending collapse
and how many of my offspring I’d sacrifice for a vat of Simethicone.
While the deterioration of my sanity has been outpaced only by my growing paranoia,
not atypical for a feeble-minded male on the downside of life,
I still have to wonder if others wax on as I
with some sort of warped tragic-romantic philosophical bent
about how one must do certain things one wouldn’t otherwise consider
if one didn’t think one was, within a fairly short time...
going to croak.
Lay yourself down.
You lay down.
You had laid yourself down.
You have lain there.
Figure it out.
When I moved into my community
one of the things I liked most
was that there were no stoplights.
We did have a blinking light in
the center of town, but it didn’t work.
Later, the blinking light came down,
a four-way stop put in its place.
Years later, they built a roundabout
at another intersection. Just the other day
they built a stoplight.
The world is a much different place.
Everything moves so fast.