Poem: The Band Plays On

Following a crescendo of violence,
an allegro jubilee of relief and release
brings us all a moment of respite
before resuming the rhythm of the rigour
and ardor of unflinching struggle.

And a young woman tells us we can
be the light if we dare, and her innocence
gives us new hope and a new cadence
for resolute strides to an unknown
future of heat, yes, but also illumination.

Still, this isn’t a cadenza, but a restrictive
repair, a scaffolding of democratic skills,
a dampening of fear and a regrouping
of willing collaborators marching forward
on the promise of hope and camaraderie.

And the band plays on, because the music
of justice has no coda, only refrains.

A Moment of Sunlight

Everywhere he went,
he confronted peace and
rumours of peace.

Each dawn, he would follow
the light on rising roads
and find fellowship with companion
travellers and comfort with locals
sharing a spirit of cooperation.

As the sun passed over,
he and new neighbours he met
would break bread, drink
and laugh with abandon.

With evil vanquished and animosity
dimmed, the world awaited eternity
with clear eyes, dry cheeks
and a pacific breast.

Finally actualised, he sees a reality no
longer tenuous, but one girded on the
impervious foundation of
enlightened belief.

The Other Side of Love

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It all starts in an oxytocin bath,
drowning in aphrodisiac dreams.
Best friends sweating through
amorous bouts of battering lust.

You begin purposeful procreation
and embrace coparenting with zest.
In a blink, you go from saying “they’re
so cute and tiny” to “they grow up so fast”!

Bliss you’ve had and content you’ve been,
but somehow merriment becomes misery.
You begin to hoard a stockpile of secrets
as comrades become combatants.

You’ve identified the Achilles heel. Indeed,
you know every weakness of your enemy.
In a flash, though, you realised the best
hope is mutually assured destruction.

Simultaneously, you begin a charm
offensive and a sinking shame spiral.
You visualise yourself on an open bier
naked before all and licked by eager flames.

Silence Never Ends

I never thought John Cage was
trying to tell us anything about silence.
He told us music never stops,
only listening does,
and what if we never stop
listening? What if we become
so accustomed to focusing
on sounds that we forget to
tune out and block and cocoon?

What if we love sounds
“as they are,” as he says?
Will we ever get anything done?
Or will we be swept away,
dancing to the garbage trucks,
crushing today’s refuse to bits?

Will we sway softly to our own
heartbeats or hum in tune to tinnitus?
We won’t distinguish between the
sounds of skates on the sidewalk
and the instructions of the arresting officer.

As our loved ones tell us we’re the
only one, we’ll be listening to the
dripping of a loveless faucet
or the groaning of a protesting
gate hinge forced to give way.

We will live in a constant stream
of unconnected moments,
drowning in the music God
sent to save our souls.

Looking Forward to Further Foreboding

All the seers say the same.
The Tarot Tower looms tenaciously
as will o’ wisps hover wistfully
outside windows closed to hope.

A broken timepiece holds dread
in a cedar closet as days to come
fall silent and the pulse thunders
in unbearable auditory recruitment.

An ominous prophecy has planted
seeds of anxiety germinating till
terror blooms in full flower
in a fecund garden of trepidation.

But the hardy defy the odds,
for what else can be done?
They don their hats, step into
open air and wish you well.

Poem: A Day for Gratitude (and Greed)

In a hushed and reverent tone
he asked us to bow our heads
in gratitude for those who sacrificed
so much for our prosperity.

We took a moment to remember
those who lost their lives and
their land to the invaders
euphemistically known as settlers.

We whispered muted prayers
of thanks to those who lost
their lives and liberty to traders
paradoxically called masters.

We mumbled appreciation
for those who acquired
resources from abroad while
posing as freedom fighters.

We thanked Providence for all
the blood shed on our behalf.
We raised our heads with ravenous
relief and set tooth to bone.

Poem: Champagne and Sunflowers

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In Galveston, Texas, you can’t always tell
the millionaires from the homeless, so
savvy businesses don’t assume the
slovenly won’t spend.

All the same,
The Sunflower Cafe is for
the relatively well-heeled,
serving a quiet Sunday brunch
for the sophisticated,
the students and professors,
the artists and seafarers.

So, see, the hostess was
always going to be polite
to the disheveled and slightly
drunk man who stooped up to
the doorstep on a Sunday morning
to ask If they were serving alcohol.

“Yes, sir,” she smiled,
“We have mimosas today.”

“Mimosa? What’s that?”

“It’s champagne with orange juice.”

“Champagne and orange juice! What the Hell?”

And with that, he shuffled off shaking his head
with more than a tinge of judgment for
the poor fools who knew what to do with
neither champagne nor orange juice.

Panpsychism, Halloween, and Rockin’ Bones

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I’m getting a little creeped out by all these discussions of panpsychism so near Halloween. I keep imagining my self, that conscious thing I call me, being a composite of billions of conscious particles that form this flawed and striving awareness who suffers through the trials of material existence. I then imagine my death, inadequately defined by current bioethical standards, and the concurrent self-awareness of all those same particles. Surely they are aware of the transition. Surely they are aware that the body is slowly releasing them to a more generalised universal awareness. The bones, of course, are the last to go. These particles have always had the strongest attraction, the most rigid bond. They only take their leave reluctantly, in obedience to fire, perhaps, or millennia of attrition. Only when release is completely unavoidable will they depart and join the infinite chorus of self-less bliss.

Poem: The Unimagined Perils of Fire Pokers

“Did you put another log on the fire?”

As innocent as it was naive, the question
Intended no harm, no trespass
On the rigid boundaries of masculinity.

She didn’t have the image of Wittgenstein
Fending off rivals with a raised poker
In the halls of exalted moral science.

It didn’t throw her thoughts to a
Defensive Popper creating an instant,
Contemporary, and universal moral rule:

“Never put a poker in another man’s fire.”

[Note on poetic license: This doesn’t accurately describe what happened between Wittgenstein and Popper. A more accurate description is here. ]