Nostalgic for the Silence

Now that he is writing poetry
and people find out, they want
to know his favorite poets.

He doesn’t know. He likes a
little of this one and maybe
some or a lot of that one and

he uses some poets’ poetry
to practice forms. He feels
like a dumb cluck not being

able to roll poets and poetic
periods and styles off his cluck-
ing tongue. When he was active

in ministry and people found out,
they never asked, “Who is your
favorite theologian?” If they

had, he wouldn’t know what
to say any more than he knows
what to say when asked about

poets. In fact, conversation
would just come to a screeching
halt — stop in an awkward pause

not a pregnant one. It was
more like an abortion. People
would swallow hard and tilt

their heads to the side. People
just didn’t know what to say
when they found out he was

a minister. His wife used to
beg him not to tell anyone be-
cause of the embarrassment

everyone seemed to experience.
It was always a real conversation
killer. It never seemed approp-

riate for someone to say, “Really,
hmm. That’s very nice — a
minister. Well, golly gee, can

I get you another martini, Rever-
end?” even though some did. He
used to hate that deafening

silence. Now, he gets nostal-
gic for it, especially when
people find out he is a poet.



The self-help guru on public television
during the seemingly endless fund-raising-
spring-into-summer-drive stated with
certitude that in order to get things right
we have to take ourselves apart and put
ourselves back together again, so I started
with my asthmatic lungs which gave me
fits for years but have been under control
for a long time, but, what the heck, I thought,
if I can get new lungs, let’s go for it. Then
the other replacement parts came fast —
knees, hair, cajunas (preferably big and brass).
Then memories. Do I ditch the bad ones? How
about that suicide in the family? How about
the premature death of my wife? How about
keeping dad and throwing out mom? What
am I crazy? I can’t take all that apart and start…
over. I wouldn’t be me. I can’t cast out my
demons, but I can forgive them and ask them
for forgiveness, disarm them and befriend
them. Then my demons and my angels and I
can go for a trail jog or maybe watch a mystery
on Masterpiece, if ever this blasted fund-raiser
would end. Thank you very much, but I’ll
just continue to be me, although there is
that matter of the cajunas, big and brass.

the here and now of trail jogging — five haiku

hiking poles in place,
he begins to jog slowly —
hills and valleys greet.

jogging beyond time,
attentive to where he is,
he is “here.”

“here” is the best place,
absorbing the temporal
in the eternal.

stopping at a lake,
he breathes very short and fast.
his heart says, “slow down.”

he inhales deeply.
om says he is on the right track.
a fish jumps slowly.

Zen and the Art of Trail Jogging

He had put mile upon mile
upon mile of miles on black-
top and concrete, three to
five miles a day, five days
a week, forty-eight weeks
a year for forty years —
having, among other things,
written his doctoral diss-
ertation in his mind before
heading home to yards upon
yards of note cards, but then
after all those years he
discovered trail jogging,
tramping through the woods,
up hills, down to creeks,
inhaling the woods, pines
and shrubs, deciduous trees,
feeling the packed sand,
roots, rocks, taking a break
by a small lake, watching
the sun sparkle off ripples
dancing with the west wind,
stopping to greet a snake,
hearing the squirrels, seeing
chipmunks, watching for deer,
maybe a bear or a coyote’s
stare. Instead of finishing
a degree, he was starting at
the beginning, learning of
life hundreds of thousands
of years ago and into eternity
— prayer as a fun run, being
at one, feeling the warm hug
of Brother Sun, shalom, salim,
peace, everyone.


A man read a poem about the
life-long consequences
in the aftermath
of a mother telling
her son that she
wished he had
never been born.
A man wanted to say,
she was only kidding
(would you ever kid?),
to say, oh, she was just having
a really bad day,
to say, she
was coping with
issues from her past,
to say, her mother probably
said that to her, but,
really, she didn’t mean it
when she said that to you.
A man wanted to say,
A man wanted to save,
A man wanted,
A man….

For That One Particular Pearl

The professor preached in chapel
back in the day.
Of all the preaching that I heard,
I recall what he had to say.
It was about high principles
and simple, lowly love of in a particular way.
It seems Bertrand Russell, so the story goes,
incensed by injustice’s cause
went off to fight, high-mindedly, modestly —
not thinking of applause,
but in the process, he abandoned
his mistress, at the time,
apparently destitute, now left stranded.
While Bertrand fought against oppression
his mistress, some say with child,
lost her wits and found lunacy’s possession.
She committed suicide, again the story goes,
while Bertrand nobly fought ideological foes.
And so,
the professor advised,
if you wish to save the world,
first look just right before your eyes
and love and sacrifice for that one particular pearl —
love’s greatest prize,
yes, right there in front of your eyes.
Then, emerging from your shells
as only love can do,
march off together
proclaiming justice and love
universally, eternally unfurled.

We Don’t Need A Daddy

No one should own another person.
No one should own a nation, but it may happen
if it happens that the person owned was
elected to lead a nation.
Who’s your Russian daddy, Donald?
Does your Russian daddy own you, Donald?
Does your Russian daddy want to own us, Donald?
Do you do what your Russian daddy wants you to do
because you want to please your Russian daddy, Donald?
Do you do what you do because your
Russian daddy controls you, Donald?
Nobody should own you, Donald.
Nobody should control you, Donald.
You should learn to control yourself, Donald.
Your daddy shouldn’t try to own us, Donald.
Your daddy shouldn’t try to control us, Donald.
We spend our lives as adult children learning how
not to let our parents control us.
You should learn how not to let your Russian daddy
control you, Donald —
for our sake, because, you see, your Russian daddy
is not our daddy any more than you are our daddy, Donald,
and you certainly are not our daddy, Donald.
We don’t need a daddy, Donald,
and we certainly don’t need the American child
of a Russian daddy, Donald.
We need a president.

Response to a Very Well Read New Acquaintance about Poets and Poetry

Yes, I’ve read Charles Bukowsky. He wrote poems like his face looked.

Of the poems I’ve read:

I appreciate his revealing dignity,
light, sadness, injustice, sorrow, poignancy
in the putridness of urban darkness
and human depravity.

I lean toward the upper Midwest poets celebrated by Ted Kooser and
I really like most of the poets featured on The Writer’s Almanac
until it was cancelled. I’m still upset about that. A curse on Keillor.

Oh, and I know Billy Collins is considered by many a light weight
in spite of being US Poet Laureate, but I really like his verse —
the humor, irony, etc. in everyday experiences.

Collins once wrote that

when he started out
he thought he had to be
dense, deep, cryptic, impenetrable,
humorless and discovered that —
that just wasn’t his cup of poetry.

Think Maybe We Need to Get Out the Vote?

If the Dems don’t take back
the senate and the house,
I could be in the grave after being gassed —
worms playing pinochle on my snout.

Or maybe I’ll get lucky
and be in a camp concentrating
in the Commonwealth of Kentucky
wondering why there is all this hating.

But as Martin Niemoller wrote:

First they came for the Socialists,
and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me —
and there was no one left to speak for me.

So, I have no excuse.

Soon I may be sitting all alone
with no one to talk to, not even a phone.
And if I spy, on the cold, cold floor,
a wormy but tasty looking morsel or more,
I just might settle in and call that camp
my Old Kentucky Home —
until the guards say I need to be warmed up
a bit,
then burn me in an oven
and throw my ashes in a pit.


An acquaintance, having just attended his high school graduation 50-year-reunion,
said he has arrived at the place in life where he doesn’t have to spend time with
people for whom he doesn’t care and so he only visited with certain people at the
reunion and then he left probably never having to think about some of those class-
mates again.

I’m so jealous.

I want to do exactly that but I can’t. Why? Every day of my life I have to spend
time with someone I do not like, someone I deplore, someone who gives me acid
indigestion, headaches and facial tics.

I’m beginning to feel like Inspector Clouseau’s boss.

I could get away from anyone else on the face of the earth except this person.

He’s ubiquitous. Remember the old Greek attributes of God: omnipotence, omnipresence
omniscience? The only one that applies to this narcissistic guy is omnipresence (thanks to the ratings obsessed media) even though he thinks he’s a Greek god.

If I’m not shielding my eyes from his face and sticking my fingers in my
ears at his voice, I’m having nightmares about him.

I’ll give you three guesses as to who this person is. Of course, you don’t
need any guesses. Thanks to me you already know it’s a male. But you knew
that before I identified the gender, didn’t you?

I can see it on your face — the grimace as you swallow the acid reflux, the
rubbing of your temple to ease your headache pain, the twitch in your left
eyelid and the bags under your eyes revealing your sleepless nights. Yes,
you know. He’s the person you can’t get away from either, isn’t he?

Well, it turns out misery does indeed love company and my company numbers
in countless millions upon millions.

Okay, everyone. On the count of three, who is he?

One, two, three — Oh, my, millions are gagging. We can’t even bring
ourselves to say his name.

I know. Let’s play charades. His name sounds like…. Everyone turn and
stick out your rump!!!

What? Nothing? You don’t want to insult your butt?

I understand.

Okay, just think of him in tennis shorts.

No! Wait! Where are you all going? Stop screaming. Don’t trample each other
on the way out.

It’s like a scene from The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Don’t anyone fall asleep! The Donald will take over your body
and mind but keep his rump.

Oh, no! A fate worse than death.

Help!!!! Somebody, please, help!