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

Photo by Vera Arsic on Pexels.com

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.

Poem: Champagne and Sunflowers

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

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.

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. ]

Poem: On the Insignificance of Coffee

She tweeted that it was the 
worst day of her life.

They didn’t have her favourite
hazelnut soy milk for her latte,
and everything was ruined.

She singlehandedly spawned
the phrase “first world problems,”
And people started saying,
“Check your privilege” 
all the damned time.

She was aware of her privilege,
of course, and thought it would
be funny to exaggerate the tragedy
of a morning coffee gone slightly wrong.

It was meant to be ironic, 
but some people don’t see
the humour in angry rants about
insignificant events in daily life.

They are focused only on important matters.
For example, they worry about what God
people send their prayers, what kind
of sex people are enjoying, and whether 
people have acceptable clothing to
match their very real genitals.

We mustn’t be distracted by the 
insignificance of coffee.

Poem: You Thought You Fled

“Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?” ~Thomas Wolfe

To get out of the land
is more painfully done than said.

A stranger in all the familiar places
will seek respite in foreign arms.

Lot’s wife was the lucky one,
frozen in time before realisation
set in. The destruction you flee
is your own heart imploding. 

The peace you seek recedes
eternally into the distance.

Just this one time you thought
you might be understood,
might share a vision with
a deluded angel or sympathetic
demon, but in the end you 
settle again into a seat for one.

Nursery Rhyme for the Apocalypse

Bill Barr, Bill Barr, you’ve gone too far.
You find the peasants revolting.
The CIA in your day
was grounds for fascist training.

No care at all, for the Rule of Law.
Democracy is fleeting.
Just shock and awe from secret police
as the jackboots go out beating.

(chorus)
Bill Barr, Bill Barr keep it up
pushing autocracy.
We‘ll stand, we’ll fight, we’ll even die
to save our democracy.   

You’ve made it clear that some lives
Really should not matter.
We’re here to say we have rights,
And we’re done with passive chatter.

We came in peace but stood our ground
And now your army can’t persist.
We’ll stand up tall, win or lose,
And we will always resist.

(chorus)
Bill Barr, Bill Barr keep it up
pushing autocracy.
We‘ll stand, we’ll fight, we’ll even die
to save our democracy.   

No final win and no final loss
Will cause the struggle to cease.
You think you’ve won, but you’ll soon find out
without justice, you’ll never have peace. 

(chorus)
Bill Barr, Bill Barr keep it up
pushing autocracy.
We‘ll stand, we’ll fight, we’ll even die
to save our democracy.   

Poem: Cowboy Sonnet

He called himself a cowboy poet,
and he performed wearing an old straw hat.
It had been awhile since he rode a horse,
but he never really mentioned that.
He knew the smell of wet hay, of course,
but it’d been years since he scraped dung off his boots.
It’s true he missed being out in the fresh air,
but he didn’t miss seeing all the redneck brutes.
He still remembered seeing the cow’s fear
when some were taken off to auction,
and his memory still brought a silent tear
at the thought of a mother cow’s grief-induced exhaustion.

When pressed, he could still carry on a cowboy’s prattle,
but it was undeniably true he was all hat and no cattle.