Surviving February

Surviving the shortest month should be a piece of cake.
The light begins to filter back in February,
and family falls away to a comfortable farness.
Snowdrops remind us of colour to come,
and the nights are nearly negotiable now.

Mid-February brings chocolate hearts, flowers
and artificial expressions of love,
disappointing and hollow (to be sure)
but reminders of the humanity we pretend to crave.
Connections can be ours, if we really try.

I don’t know how you managed to pull me through
January’s dark, but I’m grateful to see the smile
arriving earlier every day in morning light.
And you don’t have to hold on so long or so tight.
The terror of night is briefer, more tractable now.

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.

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.

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.