POINTLESS QUESTIONS

Whom do I get mad at?

Ordinarily, somebody would pay

What it did to me

What I went through:

–Uncontrollable tears

–Whole week-ends spent in bed sleeping

–Trying to work through sedating meds

–Fighting to live, pay the bills

Someone ought to pay

And I look back

To how I was

What I go through, now

Someone ought to pay

 

Bitter, the capacity to remember

 

And I ask why did it happen to me?

Why

Why did I have to choose between the psych-ward

And a life side-effected into dragging

A sluggish body and thick mind all over

Bad work-days that barely eke out

My existence

 

God only knows

 

Then, I ask again

What did I lose in it all?

Was it but imagination’s fabrication of an idealism

Of what it is to live, what life is?

Whose life hasn’t been collapsed around?

Incredulous wondering what happened to me

That it would happen to me

That it would happen

What I went through, go through, now

 

For me, it was bipolar disorder, for others

It could be anything, I guess

And demur a list of any number of crushing things that ruin

I conclude my words with a blank to be fulfilled in

 

Then there’s the question of God

FRAGILITY

It’s good

I’ve got it good

Let me have it good

I know only too well the Fragility of Goodness

 

I want

I want it easy

I don’t want to struggle anymore

I know only too well the Fragility of Goodness

 

All right

Bring it on if it must

Life’s taught me I can take it, when I have to

Just let me rest a space

I know only too well the Fragility of Goodness

YOUTH, AGE, DEATH

I’m not sure the way to think about death

Is to think about death

Mine will be around 30 years or so, likely

Some do not know 30 lived years yet

And to them, now, as it was to me, then, 30 years is a long time

But when your life is twice thirty plus

And 30 years ago means an ethics class on Charles Taylor at the University of Virginia

Vivid in the aging memory

Death is nearer

I say the young should not think about death

But revel in the animée of youth

Nor should anyone think about death

I believe we all should revel in animée

In age you mine the memory for what matters

Looking back over time, so many lives lived

Parent, child, sibling, friend, partner,

Student, apprentice, employee, employer, creator, maker, volunteer

So many ideologies following

Family values, local customs, blindly following the herd,

Breaking free of local customs, assimilating to new traditions

Ethical options adopted, opted for

Spirituality, religion, evolving principles of justice, righteousness

Age has much to sift through, choose, assent to, reject

Evaluating a life lived long

Choosing how to use life in remaining years

Anticipating life, how to live, live well, time that remains well

In remaining years, in future years

Possible eternity outside time and years and then where is death?

Options

Opting for a good life, life lived well, the good life, optimize

Exorcized ghosts of island martinis and beers past

Cast-off pass-times, past times, distractions, dreams of fame, cheering mobs, irascible passions

How to live, live well, care well

Caring for values that ground being

Ground of Being

And it is enough to be

Animée

Youth, age, death

A RAKE’S PROGRESS: A COMEDY IN TWO ACTS (redux)

(I have radically revised a poem of a few days ago, and wanted to post the finished version.)

 

Prologue:

When you are the tempest

You don’t notice the gale

Swirling tumult menace

 

In the calming after the threat

You shudder at what could have been

Destruction skirting rash choices, obnoxious, noxious

Act I:

For this life it was long life in schools,

For others it could be other—say, family, workplace, working the land, art

My academic life so much this life, persistent

How I absorbed—no—consumed knowledge, consumer of knowledge

A student indebted to the luxury of lux, illumination

Guided and goaded through many books, no one could count how many books

No one could count how many names and footnotes,

Greater and lesser luminaries in the skies of every age—

Rishis, Lao Tzu, Homer, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammed

Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, T. S. Eliot

Adi Shankaracharya, Plato and all his footnotes: Thomas Hobbes, Descartes, Immanuel Kant,

Soren Kierkegaard, Auguste Comte, Jacques Derrida, Richard Rorty, Charles Taylor

Reasoning, disputing, inquiring, assimilating, dissipating in pubs after class

Academic identity, subjects discussed, discussing how to discuss

Utilitarianism and Deontological ethics, epistemology the great, narrative, and the favored child

Deconstruction

 

Learning to learn to continue to learn

Living to learn at leisure and pleasure

Learning to grow trying on life, lives

Trying a Hemingwayesque character (to become a man), or The Artist as a Young Man, evolving into self

Yet it wasn’t the schools, the books, the names, that academic style, for this, my life

Nor would it be family, workplace, working the land, art alone for others

In a critical life worth living, not unexamined—passing time unaware

 

To see in a single vision the course of a life

While karma is lived out of developmental stages

Surrounded, bounded, encased within

The facts, that academic style, the collegial camaraderie

Do not make the personality’s lasting completion

Make person, mark lasting brain synapses firmware

Within the encounter with environment, the contours of self are carved

Not necessarily unchanged but the self, persistent

 

Act II:

 

A seed, a stem, a blossom, growth—becoming

The single flower—but is it?

From raging adolescence into combative adulthood

Through economic cooperation vocation teamwork

Emergence: genuine caring, community, the other

The shell that was learning and environment

Husking through what becomes self-development

In fact, new self, though persisting

 

The process of my formal education was

But a shell in which I formed.

The facts, forms of knowing, interlocutor interactions

Outside, the self incubating within the process

How ill-suited I was for a serious academic career

Working through the karma of a developing self,

Headstrong, too sure of a developing self

Indifferent to social norms—“What have I to do with thee?”

The wisdom I acquired was not in the books—

The many books, no one could count how many books, the names and footnotes

But in the crucible the walls of which were the process of my education

 

Epilogue:

 

In the calming after the threat

You shudder at what could have been

Destruction skirting rash choices, obnoxious, noxious

 

A narrow escape from who I was

 

The wisdom I have acquired am becoming, balance in choices affirm

And decorum, more or less, contours of cooperation—no—eco-operation

In sync.  Sympatico I become at peace, bright affection alone with together

A RAKE’S PROGRESS: A COMEDY IN TWO ACTS

Prologue:

When you are the tempest

You don’t notice the gale

Swirling tumult menace

 

In the calming after the threat

You shudder at what could have been

Destruction skirting rash choices, obnoxious, noxious

Act I:

For this life it was long life in schools,

For others it could be other—say, family, workplace, working the land, art

My academic life so much this life, persistent

How I absorbed—no—consumed knowledge

Guided and goaded through many books, no one could count how many books

Reasoning, disputing, inquiring, assimilating, dissipating in pubs after class

Academic identity, subjects discussed, discussing how to discuss

 

Learning to learn to continue to learn

Living to learn at leisure and pleasure

Learning to grow trying on life, lives

Trying a Hemingwayesque character (to become a man), or The Artist as a Young Man,

evolving into self

Yet it wasn’t the schools, the books, for this, my life

Nor would it be family, workplace, working the land, art alone for others

In a critical life worth living, not unexamined—passing time unaware

 

To see in a single vision the course of a life

While karma is lived out of developmental stages

Surrounded, bounded, encased within

The facts, the academic style, the collegial camaraderie

Do not make the personality’s lasting completion

Make person, mark lasting brain synapses firmware

Within the encounter with environment, the contours of self are carved

Not necessarily unchanged but the self, persistent

Act II:

A seed, a stem, a blossom, growth—becoming

The single flower—but is it?

From raging adolescence into combative adulthood

Through economic cooperation vocation teamwork

Emergence: genuine caring, community, the other

The shell that was learning and environment

Husking through what becomes self-development

In fact, new self, though persisting

 

The process of my formal education was

But a shell in which I formed.

The facts, forms of knowing, interlocutor interactions

Outside, the self incubating within the process

How ill-suited I was for a serious academic career

Working through the karma of a developing self,

Headstrong, too sure of a developing self

Indifferent to social norms—“What have I to do with thee?”

The wisdom I acquired was not in the books—the many books, no one could count the books

But in the crucible the walls of which were the process of my education

Epilogue:

In the calming after the threat

You shudder at what could have been

Destruction skirting rash choices, noxious, obnoxious

 

A narrow escape from who I was

 

The wisdom I acquired, and did become and am becoming,

And decorum, more or less, contours of cooperation—no—eco-operation

In sync.  Sympatico become peaceful and am becoming peaceful, become peace

WHAT MATTERS IN THE CHAMBERS OF MY HEART

I played my heart out one sunset flag lowering

Playing taps on trumpet at church camp

How I held that long, lingering note till my breath nearly ran out

It moved everybody—children surrounded me at chapel afterward

Moved me too, I felt it all, feel it still, I’m there, now—44 years later

 

I had played solo trumpet in filled concert halls

Been interviewed on radio about it

But that doesn’t hit me now

Like sunset, flag lowering, at church camp

 

I played trumpet duets that I’d composed

Before and after evening chapel at church camp

44 years ago, and it pleases me now to be there again

 

I played bass at a church Convention worship service

I see the drummer lean forward to look at me

After a drum solo to get in the groove again

I’m there, 5 years ago, even now

 

I played bass in packed bars, jazz clubs, hotel dance floors

Church Convention sits with me more pleasantly, now

 

Then there was Memorial Day at the family trailer campground

Mom and dad and children danced on the cement floor

Mom sang along with the ‘50’s Little Richard song

We played Monkees for a boy who saw them on Nickelodeon TV

And it sits with me like church, 33 years later

 

COVID-19 affords me much time, much occasion to reflect

Success deconstructs in reflecting over a life well-lived

It sits as a matter of what means to me

And meaning is not a matter of acclaim or money

Church and family camping echo pleasantly

Through the chambers of my heart

And sit well with me in reflections of COVID-19

BIRTH AND SECOND BIRTH

Today we celebrate the day that’s you

But I celebrate this day for me, too

On this day you were born into life

As if a second birth, you are to me as if a wife

 

Your birth, your birth to me, made my life live

That is what your birth and what you give

I didn’t really have a life till you

Then you came, then I was born anew

 

Today, this day is all yours and all you

But it’s also all about me, too

Now it’s us, not you or I separate

With you, our life is one eternal date

LIFE IS

Life is not

The acquisition of money, material possessions

Life is

The pursuit of a passion

A life’s dream, a contribution to society

In youth, it is the pursuit of a job

A career, a profession, a calling

In adulthood, it is the maintenance of a lifestyle

In maturity, you realize that life is a pastime

And along the way, it can be

The accumulation of experiences you will be happy to remember

But, in truth, life is

The formation of the kind of person you want to be,

Learning who that is

To be and become who that is

By means of and through and despite

What life will bring your way

To be and become who that is

By whatever powers or Power you know

DOCTRINE AND LIFE

It seems to me that intellectual assent to

Some doctrinal formula

Won’t cut it

If you stay the same person

Or rebirth isn’t new birth at all

And repentance is but a Biblical, Latinate word

Some say faith will do it, alone

Some say without works, faith is dead

If I stay the same, the same nature, natural man, I’m dead

I shudder, chagrin at where I’ve been

And in the development I know hope blossoms

Planted in this fallen, fallible flesh, this clod of clay

Torment, foment, and a breath of inspiration

Bringing life,–they say I’m living better

If living matters amid faith alone

All I can say, can see, is I’m less restless, fractious, caustic, cynic

I know life is better for me, some serenity

I don’t know if it’s the Spirit moving over the faces of the deep

If it’s rebirth,

Or even if new life matters amid intellectual assent to

Some doctrinal formula

I know what I am, and what I am agrees with me

And I agree, assent, with the life coming at me

Aging

I am aging

But I don’t feel like it

I’m as full of life as I was at 20

But young people remind me of my age

When they have no interest in what I have to say

My body reminds me of my age

When it gets stiff, strains, twists, sprains

Days get better

I am happier, more content

Bothered by less

More pleasant

With age

Aging is a good thing

True, death is nearer

I don’t fear it

I’ve had a good run

Given life my best shot

I expect to be here a while yet

Aging is a good thing

Life is a good thing

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