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Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Moment in Time

My soul bursts with love
I will love you for all days
I will wax joyous

(This haiku was written while bicycling. I often find the scenery of Madison County, where I live, Inspiring)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Elizabeth's End


Some of us have been unlucky enough to have known someone who has descended into Alzheimer's. I wrote this haiku in memory of a distant relative who made that journey: 
  

"Elizabeth's End"
Haiku at 85

Where did myself go?
Have I only the past left?
My youth beckons me.

In loving memory of Elizabeth Bickel

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Biophysics of Breathing


Let us render clear,
The vital items
Of our lives,
Not the things of pleasure,
But those things without which
We may find ourselves expired,
Or at least impaired
Beyond
Those greater things that are
The sustenance of life,
There is a list that can be made,
Food,
Water,
Air,
The last is mostly critical for
Oxygen,
What if we were to lose
That critical component,
The oxygen of our life,
Not the O2,
That mixes with the nitrogen
We breathe,
But that very something that
Sustains us,
That very life line
That we each might have,
Some of us,
Are more tightly
Interwoven with it than others,
For some it is
Like unto the umbilical cord,
As critical as that to which they cleaved
Within the womb,
Without it they wither,
What is it?
For some it is a place,
For some a drug,
For some,
A person,
For all,
A vital element,
Defined only by them,
The level of criticality unknown,
Until it is lost
In a moment,
Wherein they are,
Perhaps for the first time,
Truly working without a net,
Or even a sense of direction,
And they begin slow suffocation,
Not of the lungs,
But a different kind of drowning,
That of the soul.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupying Wall Street


So they wanna occupy Wall Street, eh?
I do believe that it is already well occupied,
Occupied in making money,
Not in makin' stuff,
That would muss those custom suits,
And chip those polished nails,
You can't see Wall Street's residents,
They're busy behind smoked glass,
Trading the most expensive vaporware
On earth,
Buy it for a thousand,
Sell if for a hundred,
Heads they win,
Tails you lose,
Try retiring on that,
It's working out for them,
They're important people,
Don't hurt their morale,
Mayor Bloomberg is worried
They might get sad,
(Sigh).
Don't turn around,
But while you're occupying,
Your jobs are occupied,
With migrating to...
Another hemisphere,
Enjoy your camp-out folks,
And your three weeks
Of fame.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Jerry Falwell's Last Audience



Jerry Falwell died,
You know,
He entered to eternity,
St Peter wasn't at the gate,
The gate was plain
But well maintained,
He had to open it himself,
He entered in,
And found an escort,
Found a place to stand in line,
Eventually he came to stand,
Alone before a holy shrine,
A disembodied voice said 'Hi,'
'Welcome,
We're a perfect fit for you,
Jerry smiled that smile,
The one he saved,
Saved for preaching on TV,
He told the voice,
I always gave,
All faith,
And honor,
And all glory,
To your only son,
And Jerry smiled
That famous smile,
Again,
Too bad his congregation
Wasn't there to bask in it,
And then the voice said,
Puzzled,
What son?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Equinox




The hay will have to sit,
A few days more,
Too bad,
It was just dry,
Ready to bale,
The clouds that sat,
Just halfway down the mountain,
Are now down 'round the house,
They've turned the pasture into
A perfect picture -
A cottony smooth mist,
It makes you want to stop,
Just to look,
And stay quite a while,
Maybe watch the crows,
Before the sun burns it off.
We couldn't get this in August,
Just hard baked drought,
And doubts about the future.
Now a billion droplets
Breathe new life into
Every green thing,
We've escaped nature's worst
For another year.
The streams are swollen,
Again!
They're safe for trout sex.
In August,
We had to wonder,
Would those tiny rivulets
Come back?
Just when we had our
Deepest doubts,
The wand of nature
Said Yes,
The cycle was safe,
In her Faithful Breast.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Haiku for the Raven's Nest


(A fine coffee house, in Culpeper, Virginia, where I do much of my writing)

Nest fans have taste,
The right stuff in the right place,
Always a new scone :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thinking In The Dark




Comes the time
When work must end,
When games expire,
And the boundaries
Of social intercourse
Are set firm,
When shades are drawn,
Our heads can no longer
Remain upright,
We can at last retire
From all the sad
And unfulfilled
Anticipation of the day,
Snuff out the light,
At last be in
Firm equilibrium
With nature,
And lie alone,
In the ether,
With our thoughts unseen,
And there commune
With death,
Fence with sadness,
Joust with heartache,
Lay upon
That silent field of play,
All that we dare not
Set forth in daily life,
Hoping that before the dawn,
We may divest ourselves,
Of all the cares,
Impossible to take back
To the light.
For if we fail,
We'll carry this great burden
Back to the light,
The truth is that,
The darker forces,
Aren't beholden to us,
It's us beholden rather
To them,
And so they are to be
Respected,
Kept at arms length,
In the dark,
Not permitted out,
Lest our demons
Cross that boundary,
Where their presence
Will engender,
Fear and loathing,
Take control,
And drag us into
Endless grief.
And so,
It's in the dark,
Upon that silent,
Sightless grid,
We struggle with
Our demons,
Each and every one,
And never cry for help,
Lest we be forced to share
Our darkest parts with others.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Homage to Our Investment Bankers




We salute you,
Gentlemen,
And Ladies,
God bless you,
(He clearly has)
We bless you,
We support you,
At par,
So far,
Lest you bring us all down,
(That was the threat,
Was it not?)
You are so
Wicked smart,
Except those few,
Who couldn't hold on,
For our gravy train,
To respond,
For those few,
We hope last year's bonus,
Will help you survive,
Your trip down the tubes,
(Sigh)
And for all,
We are led to believe,
That you're back on your feet,
And doing quite well,
We were glad to help out,
Your derivative pleasure,
Just makes our hearts soar,
And to help you to help
The economy heal,
We're taxing your janitors
More than your managers
'Cause we know you're the source
Of all job creation,
Within this great nation,
How do we know this?
Well,
We've been told this
Been told by some very fine folk,
Some folk whom you... own?
For sure there are doubters,
But we question their wisdom,
We don't even think that
They're being good citizens,
But there are some suspicions,
My well heeled good friends,
That what's good for you folk,
Might be just a bit toxic,
To those of us few,
Who compose,
That diminishing remnant,
Of what once we could call,
The vast middle class,
Today,
We ain't even,
Half vast.
Sad to say,
Now a few of us wonder,
If you're not quite our friends,
If you don't have our best int'rests
In your schemes and your ends,
All of those yachts,
They're critical – right?
We believe in you now,
To make every thing bright,
To bring our economy
Back from the dead,
To create all those jobs,
With that barely taxed bread,
So,
While we're eatin' those grits,
In this world that you've made,
With the pols that you've bought,
Just Remember my friends,
Rot infects not just wood,
But your hearts and your souls,
And the Fire Next Time
Might be more than a book
It might be unhappy folk,
With your ass in their sights.

My Love's Beauty



"A poetic of love in two parts"

I

My love's beauty rests
Inside her,
Her heart and soul
Shine through,
They overwhelm
Whatever beauty
Might beholden
Upon her face.
Her mind itself
Calls out to all who
Know her,
Delighting those whose hearts
She touches,
No one can capture her,
But if you're patient
She may come to you,
And bring to you
Delight.


II

To be with her
Is like unto
A field of
Fresh flowers,
To hear her voice,
Makes it seem
Those flowers have
Given off a heavenly
Bouquet,
She can make an ord'n'ry day
Into a feast
For the mind and soul,
And so heal
The heart.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Cemeteries



Scatter my ashes upon the sea,
Leave not a single monument to me,
For whatever I was since the day of my birth,
Can't rest under a stone,
Covered with earth.


Facebook post, 3 Sep 2011 for Drew Kullman 

Are Earthquakes Metaphors?

Time was,
We looked for signs,
But now we have More confidence,
We are the masters of our fate,
(We're sure of that)
And so,
The signs and summonses
Of the gods,
They are no more,
Our conduct is our business,
But,
Pride still cometh,
Before the fall,
The rumble of the earthquake
Passing through our midst,
May have been the sound
Of that great plumb line,
Rumbling down from up above.
As God once told the prophet Amos,
“I will set a plumb line in the midst...”
And so the time
May just have come,
When cruelty and repression,
Are due to be replaced,
By new masters,
Who will build the world anew,
Not necessarily from scratch,
But with sensibility,
A touch of brotherhood,
And sisterhood,
And common sense,
(If we can find some),
And a heavy dose of love,
It's not too late to start,
But why wait 'til the time
Of the next quake?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Haiku on Aftershocks


Should aftershocks shock?
We're still standing, are we not?
Smile, and hug your cat.

Another Earthquake?


Two quakes,
In a year,
Then
Two quakes,
In two days,
Spare me
The after shocks,
I'm losing the feel,
For the meaning of
Solid Ground.

The Earth Moved



The earth moved,
Yes it did,
No warning,
There should have been
Prior notice,
We have an early warning system,
To wit:
FRED,
Feline,
Reliable
Earthquake
Detector,
He worked flawlessly
Last year,
This time he was out,
On walk-about,
Rumor is,
He wants a raise,
Union cat,
I guess.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Jerusalem - The Western Wall

Thursday. 18 August 2011

Is it the center of the universe?
Only for Jews and Muslims,
Once it was imposing,
Even after Herod's temple
Was destroyed,
Now,
It stands,
An artifact,
Dwarfed,
Twice surmounted,
First by twin
Triumphal mosques,
Then,
Later,
By post war buildings,
Gazing over all,
Dwarfing the lot,
Standing guard,
As if to say,
We won,
We aren't giving it back,
Most strangely,
The Wall's custodians,
Could not have been
Those who captured it,
They refuse to serve,
But their black hats,
Hold a grip
On what happens,

Keeping men and women
Separate,
The nicer part,
Of course,
Is for men
Only,
Touch the wall,
Smooth as silk,
Worn that way,
By the touch
Of human hands,
Any peace you find here,
You find by chance,
On Fridays,
Muslims
Toss stones from
Atop the wall,
They want it all,
Let no one else
Have any claim,
Some really nutty Jews
Would just as soon
Destroy the mosques,
Rebuild the temple,
As it was,
We have no shortage
Of determined folk,
Folk hanging 'round
To work their will
Upon the wall
And its environs,
It's curious,
There may be,
Religions of peace,
But some religions,
Still aren't fully,
At Peace.
May that Day,
Somehow come,
Say a prayer for those
Who've died
Over the wall,
And for the cynics,
Who won't make peace
Over it.

Med Vacation



Never had a Med vacation,
Always came here to work,
Brought my hotel with me,
A luxury LGB,
That's Little Gray Boat,
The work was often
Mucho serious,
This is different,
A genuine vacation,
I've never done that well,
In fact,
Anticipation gave me
Indigestion,
Vacation in the Med?
The salt mine of the Atlantic Fleet?
Well,
Here we are,
A stone's toss from
The Lebanon,
In the peaceful
Land of many traffic circles,
Itty bitty traffic circles,
Each one numbered,
Hey,
They work great,
But keep an eye,
On that guy,
To your left,
The rules,
Of the road,
Are written down,
But vary with,
Each driver,
Anticipation,
Is entertaining,
Did that road sign say
“Goats cheese,
Next left?”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Village of Roses



We live up north,
It's pretty up here,
The taxes are lower,
Though you're under the umbrella,
Of the rockets of Hezbollah,
Built into a hill,
Eight itty bitty traffic circles,
Take you up,
The same take you down,
The village is small,
Nothing overwhelms,
Except,
The charm,
Kfar Vradim,
The Village of Roses,
They grow along
Narrow main roads,
I'd like to help them
Prune,
I'll bet I could double
The flower count!
This is,
Afterall,
A coop society,
This isn't the Israel,
We read all about,
It's a planned community,
Sort of,
As planned as you get
In Israel,
A little mall,
A little this,
A little that,
Lots of folks,
Walking about,
On
Narrow streets,
You'll know so many,
It'll feels even smaller
Than it is,
The thing I hate,
Most of all?
The roses just
Aren't mine to prune.

Rosh Ha Nikrah



Walking through caves,
Past ancient grottoes,
Where sea water
Ebbs and floods,
Outrunning the light,
Turning from deep blue
To black,
As it penetrates,
Echoing it's advance,
As it cuts ever deeper,
Tighter,
Sharper runs,
This is nature's place,
Not meant for people,
But pleased to amaze us,
Nevertheless,
Ancient steel rails
Testify that once,
This place saw
Serious work,
Now,
Look past the gate above,
Lebanon,
A stone's throw,
Barely,
But the soldiers won't let you
Throw stones,
Another kind of serious work
Might happen here,
But for now,
Just tourists,
The sand stone grotto
And the echo of the sea.

Bridget's Spring



She came to us
A rescue,
Not the smartest one
I'd ever seen,
But pretty,
And she knew it,
Well adapted to the couch,
To eating kitty bonbons,
All the day,
She knew how
To get her way,
While sounding like
An outboard motor,
Draped upon your shoulder.
Though not smart enough
To use a kitty door,
She knew enough to ask,
And once out upon the wilds
Of Syria,
She headed for a little spring
That filled our well,
A few quick kitty steps
Would land her on a stone,
Smack in the middle,
Where she'd admire her self,
Gazing at her twin,
Reflected in the water,
She knew a good looking cat
When she saw one,
Truly beauteous!
No finer looker
Was there ever!
You could tell
What she was thinking,
Eventually,
She'd tire if this,
And retire to the porch,
To laze about,
As if a lioness,
On some distant
Great savanna,
Surveying her realm.
Then one day,
She couldn't breathe,
She sat there,
Huffing,
Puffing,
Barely moving,
No more purring,
She limped down
To her spring,
For one last look,
But could not make it back,
And so I picked her up,
And brought her back,
But time was short,
We had to say good by.
We buried her
Right by her spring,
Behind the swing
She loved to ride,
Beneath the fig leaves that
she loved to eat,
They say such ritual
Is mostly for the living,
And I guess that they
Are right.
Bridget,
We'll remember you,
And this will always be
Your spring.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Driving in Israel



They say that Israeli drivers are,
Suicidal,
But,
It's not true,
They are finely tuned
Machines,
Better tuned,
Than their cars,
Perfectly adapted to their
Environment,
Ready in all respects
For encounters in,
Thousands of itty bitty
Traffic circles,
The rules are well defined,
But the driver must live
On the edge,
Will that fellow,
On your left,
Stay in the circle,
Or exit?
No blinkers,
Please,
That would be telling,
There's a gentleman's agreement,
To guess,
I guess,
Speed limit signs are,
Not used,
Up north,
Would you print a sign,
If you knew no one
Would read it?
What a waste,
This country abhors waste,
Now,
The horn,
There's a useful accessory,
Put a good one
In every car,
You might wear it out,
Before the first
Set of tires.

Jerusalem – 15 August 2011

(I'm no Wm. Blake, for sure)


The Old City is,
Well,
Truly Old,
Paving stones polished shiny,
Slippery,
By millions of feet,
From ancient sandals
To the modern boot,
Everybody wants the place,
Today,
It seemes like everybody is here
Having it,
At least half are trying
To have
The Western Wall,
Touching it,
Bowing to it,
Praying at it,
Intently watching
Others pray at it,
Just looking at it,
I touched it myself,
Both hands,
It's just stone,
Feeling almost soft,
But,
Smooth as silk,
From all the touching?
Tiny slips of hope,
Stuffed in every crevice,
Pilgrims hoping for
A miracle,
Or just hoping,
I didn't hope today,
Just touched,
It's a magical experience,
Whether you believe or not,
Where might have stood
Hiram Abiff,
The widow's son,
Solomon,
Jesus?
We will never know,
But somewhere,
Near our footsteps,
Walked giants,
There are no more giants,
Today,
We deconstruct our giants
Before they grow,
But we still have
Jerusalem,
Holy to so many,
Too many,
It seems,
A living myth,
The Old City,
Frozen in time and space,
For all to view,
And experience,
Surrounded by all
Who must touch her,
Who cannot bear to
Live away from her,
Who embrace her,
Consuming her oxygen,
Loving Jerusalem to death,
Perhaps they are Jerusalem's
Newest conquerors.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Sea Sprite


The First time,
I saw,
A Sea Sprite helo,
It was on a barge,
On its side,
Looking like a dozen dwarves
Had banged on it,
With big old hammers,
For quite some time,
A salvage ship,
Named Grapple,
Had just grappled it
Off the bottom,
Where it had lain,
For two days,
Back then,
Those Sprites,
Had lots of trouble,
Staying dry,
They got better,
Not long
Before they got,
Obsolete.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Homage to the Nuclear Weapon

God bless you,
(I think),
You kept the peace,
Mostly,
For forty-five years,
World wide peace,
Anyway,
You were our tool,
Your threat of white heat,
Kept us off the edge of
Madness,
With MAD,
We carried you everywhere,
In the air,
On the sea,
Under the sea,
Under ground,
Over land,
We protected you,
As we protected
Nothing else,
You were our magic
Touchstone of safety,
Our ultimate security blanket,
Whose security was
Unknown,
But
Whose safety might turn on us,
Vaporous,
In the flash of the
Moment,
Now you've become a leper,
Over bred,
Your power unwelcome,
Desired only by your
Fellow lepers,
Sorry,
But you're done,
Thanks,
(I think).

Giving Away My Sextant

There was a time,
When celestial navigation,
Was a most
Necessary art,
Those of us
Who practiced it,
Might smile,
For those who didn't,
Looked upon us,
As practitioners,
Of a nearly black art,
We kind of liked it that way,
We shot six stars morning,
And evening,
Two sun lines,
And the ever useful
Local apparent noon,
Lots to do,
Even when we had
Some crude 'lectronic aids,
Then they put those artificial stars
Up in the heavens:
GPS,
No more need for a clear sky,
No more worries about steady decks,
Worried 'bout your nav gear breaking?
Buy two or three pocket spares,
Drop your sextant?
You've got trouble,
Drop your pocket GPS?
It's got a rubber case,
And you've got two more,
Sigh,
Ocean navigation is no longer
A black art,
Not that it ever really was,
Farewell,
Old friend,
Follow my film camera,
Into the sunset.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

St. Elmo's Fire

Sea state three,
Just to give the ship
A little roll,
Don't set that cup down,
Unless it's one
With rubber on the bottom,
And a big fat base,
Gliding along,
Under low clouds,
That hide a bright full moon,
With the hint of a storm
Coming on,
The bosun reports,
All lights are bright lights,
But urges you
To the bridge wing,
Where you see it,
It dances about the mast,
Wreathes the antennas,
It is a power,
Out of your control,
St. Elmo's fire,
A dancing electrical specter,
A mysterious visitor,
It slips away as it arrived,
Un-noticed,
You may never see it again,
You might never have seen it
At all,
The rumor was,
It didn't exist,
Now you know,
Don't you?

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Model Of Morals For Modern Times

What would a model
Of morality look like?
Is it executable?

Would it require justice for all?
Who would define justice?
Would economic justice require
That a man have what he wants,
Or what he thinks he needs,
Or what I think he needs?
Assuming that I am qualified to think
Such thoughts.
For others might seek to delegitimize me.
How might we profitably fight over it?

Everyone should have justice,
Even if they don't understand truth.
We'll define truth for them.
If they don't like it, we'll arrest them as an enemy
Of good order and discipline,
Or a blasphemer,
Or a heretic.
For truth and justice are necessary in a moral state.

Should a man be permitted,
To send a man's son,
To fight and die,
If he hasn't done the same,
Or hasn't sent his own son?
The answer should be obvious,
But the proof,
By experience,
Is missing,
Or in error.
Combat in defense of
Another's country,
Carries tenuous moral baggage.
If another's country is important,
Send your own son,
To defend it.

Is food a right?
Who should be forced to grow it,
And how much
Should they be forced to give?
The UN World Food Program
Will tell you the moral level.
So they can feed it to folk,
Being starved by
This year's members of the
UN Human Rights Council.

Here's a 21st century concept,
Let's rehydrate Darfurians,
So that we can starve them again
When they become South Sudanese.
That gives us more weapons sales
Opportunities
For the Chinese.
More work for UN food bureaucrats,
More feel good giving for western ninnies.

Now that's a moral stance.
It's a trick of metaphysics,
To decouple morality
From Human rights.
That's an executable model,
What curious Algorithms it must employ.
Inshallah.
No one else could.