CRITICAL THEORY

The spell that language is

Isn’t ipsum cast, intoned upon itself

Nor the genesis of poesy the poet’s poeisis

genie, genius, generative daemon

Words birth words in sequence

But wherefore, whereof, and whither this sequence

When we write?

When we read,

Bring meaning to the meant, and infuse words,

While sense sends sensibility sentences

Is there meaning inhering in hearing words?

Or is there readers’ self-translation into the text?

I think genuine encounter, generative dialogue, new genesis

We are more than we were after reading

After meeting art, what became art, the artist’s generation, the artist

KNOWLEDGE, APPRECIATION, AND ENJOYMENT

I enjoy reading Shakespeare when I’m moved to

Richard III is thrilling

When I don’t have to study it for a course:

Memorize plot, character, Act and scene

Nietzsche on Greek Tragedy is enthralling

When I don’t have to place it in relation to

Zarathustra, Christian criticism, Ubermensch, herd

Education is a mixed blessing

A blessing, if it serves to enhance

Joy in culture’s works

Mixed if it serves merely to teach

Appreciation only, or worse, criticism

Still, without education, I wouldn’t read Shelley

And Shelley teach me to enjoy Shakespeare

A REFLECTION ON THE ’80’S

I remember back in the ‘80’s

How often I heard how hard life is

How tough you have to get, to be, to get ahead

How many were reading Sun Tzu, The Art of War

How many longed to be back in college

Protected, with their friends, the camaraderie, safe

 

Fighting your way to the top is hard, tough

Clawing your way into obscene wealth is hard, tough

Competing with your fellows, maybe screwing them over

You have to get tough, and it is hard if you choose these paths

I haven’t studied war, and haven’t become tough

I know disappointment, grief, crushed dreams

The consequences of too much love

 

Creativity is hard, but not conflict with my fellows

The satisfaction I know in word or tone shames wealth

I claw my way into creations I love to live with

I compete with my piano, with pen or keyboard

I do not know where the top is, what it is, but I will likely not be there

I know the struggle of satisfying art, soul satisfactions

 

The path I have chosen tends toward calm

The friends I continue to make make community, trust

I continue to learn, learn peace, wisdom, love

I find that is a struggle with mortal stakes

That life is hard, yet it doesn’t make me tough, and I wish no retreat

Into adolescent protection, sophomoric camaraderie

The realization of such a longing would be retreat indeed

From all of my struggle to grow in peace, wisdom, love

And I wish nothing more

IMPLICATIONS OF COVID-19

This is a big deal

I try to ignore it all, and pass time

But my sapped energy belies my effort

So I consider it all

The economy halted

People broke, food banks emptied, businesses bankrupt

Public bailout money enriching the coffers of hedge funds

Whose obscene profits display a conscience as bankrupt

As Ma and Pop businesses who do need a bailout but close down

The rising numbers, desperately watching for the curve to flatten, diminish

Wondering what life will be like afterward

When afterward will be

It’s a lot to take in: the scope, my rage

Isolation, social distance, pondering

That saps my energy, and the TV is my only comforter

COPING IN COVID-19

It isn’t only re-runs and walks in the park

On some days I read poetry, play and write music, clean

I’m getting more accustomed indoors

Than out in public, and when I’m out in public

I want to come home, inside my four walls

Pent-up as it is, pent-up as I am

I bought groceries today

Now I can hole up for a week

This all has changed everything, changed me

And in it all, I don’t know, can’t know, the way forward

What the way forward will look like

How we will see the ending of it all

If I’ll ever feel comfortable outside my four walls again

ODE TO THE NIGHT

I feel more at home, and love the dark of night

Then, my creativity, my psyche’s spark,

Flows into art and I drink in others’ insight

I love the peacefulness when everything is dark

 

Daylight is a threat to this contemplative

I strain to shut it out and turn into my mind

In night, the dark, the stillness lets my spirit live

And music, verse, and thought flow freely as the wind

 

I walk the night and love the darkness, the quiet

Day is noisy; light is a distraction

When I try to grasp a poem or express my spirit

Only nighttime gives my spirit satisfaction

THE GIFT OF FLOWERS

We love when someone gives us flowers

And we love the mum, petunia, rose, or lily

Though knowing as we gaze on their beauty

That they will stay for many hours,–but only hours

 

Still, while they are in the vase

We take delight in the delicate pedals, scent

Like the gift of flowers, people in our lives are lent

A gift people are, a certain grace

 

We take delight when people are nearby

Yet the time we have together is uncertain

Long or short, impermanence is certain

People change, come and go, we meet and say goodbye

 

So the Buddhists say that enjoyment of friend, lover

Is dukkha—grief—suffering

Knowing the impermanence of everything

Gives the gift of delight and pleasure

For what it is, in friend, lover, or flower

GETTING TO ME

I’ve never been so mad and spiteful in all my life

I watch the death toll rise daily without abatement

At home alone, practicing shelter-in-place to help the initiative

I get mad easily these days

I choke in my rage at what looks like incompetence and self-serving

By the president, what seems cruel partisanship of Wisconsin’s legislature

Putting lives at risk by disallowing an election’s delay during the pandemic

I crave statesmanship

I’m ashamed at the ill-will I feel, what I wish would happen . . .

While safe at home, COVID-19 is still getting to me

THAT PARTY I CRASHED

I think back fondly of the time I crashed that party

Across the street, in that wealthy neighborhood

Where the graduate school I attended was located

I had a good time, enjoyed myself and they me

In the house that hosted the party I crashed

I noticed authentic early Christian art and statuary

Just before the sun broke, we were sitting on the floor

The daughter was holding a grey box in her hand

Which contained her father’s ashes

He was an organist and purchased the art

Before it became valuable, at a good price, she said

We partied all night, and when the sun rose

She had to drive away to her job as a waitress

I walked across the street to the quiet graduate school

Found my room down the dark hallway, and crashed

THE CITY IN COVID-19

The city is quiet

There are hardly any sirens

Traffic is lighter

When we go for walks

In the deserted park

Drivers wave as they pass

On the nearby roads

I dodge sparse people

In the grocery store

We decided to order take-out

From our favorite restaurant

At home, I write music, play and learn, record,

Read, and there are other projects, chores

But mostly I watch TV

Where I learn the latest about COVID-19