When Fathers and Sons Become Friends

When the student is ready
The teacher will be there.
I’m ready said he.
But I’m not your teacher.
I provided the experience.
Your dreams wouldn’t let it go.
Those dreams will be your guidance,
And, by wisdom, you then will know
And so it goes.
If your heart and mind are open
You, indeed, will know
That you will just have begun
The journey not to the answers,
But the pathway to the questions.

No One Wants to Hear It

No one wants to hear it
but the attacks
are simply blow back.
Do you really think
the radicalized
would set their eyes
on Europe, Great Britain
and the US of A
if back in the day
there hadn’t been
invasions and colonizations
and rationalizations,
Semites and Arabs to foil
and land to grab and
confiscating the oil?
Hundreds of thousands
to millions were sacrificed
to the sacred violence of Empire.
What more does it
require
to help us see,
why the guerilla terrorists will
kill a dozen innocents here and
a dozen there?
Of course, it seems unfair,
and I’m not justifying,
but look at it from the
angle that they do share
as they stare Empire in the face.
They have to save face
or face disgrace
for allowing Empire to
slaughter their families
with impunity
so they scare every Western
community
with crude and suicide bombs
knowing mobs
will freak out
and they will get incredible
media coverage
for what they see is
justified carnage.
When will we give it up
and reject Empire fear, power and greed
and subsequent need
for unholy, state, sanctioned, sacred
violence and,
excuse me for this
as I know I am now
an anachronism,
but follow Jesus’
pacifism,
say please forgive
for the damage
we have done
and look for
ways that we are one?
Political and cultural
sophistication or
its opposite — rabid
patriotism —
may view my thoughts
as naiveté,
but I won’t apologize
for what I believe
the Prince of Peace
has to say
about the universal,
inclusive love of God
for all —
this and every day
in eternity.

When I Was An Itty-Bitty Baby

The director of health and human
services in some state that presume-
ably doesn’t have many minorities
or old folks believes it is a good
and moral thing to make getting a
job requisite to receiving Medicaid.
She pejoratively calls Medicaid an
“entitlement” program that saps
human initiative and drives people
into perpetual and permanent lazi-
ness and government dependency
kind of like how smoking marijuana
leads resolutely and irreversibly to
drug addiction, a zombie-like apoca-
lypse, despair and death like in that
30’s flick Reefer Madness. I wonder
if she knows it isn’t the 30’s or
even the Twentieth Century anymore.
I wonder how she feels about medical
use of marijuana. I wonder if she
takes her cues from Beauregard Sessions
on things like crime, marijuana use,
lazy minorities and how those who don’t
work shouldn’t eat, which is an example
of the time-honored tradition among
Southern, white evangelicals called
proof-texting for the purpose of
starving to death the undeserving
kind of like Nazi eugenics and the
final solution to the Jewish problem
which if those things had succeeded
certainly would have meant fewer
mouths to feed and would have made
big government smaller except for
national defense, the righteous goal
of all good, God-fearing, white
Christians except, of course, if they
themselves receive Social Security,
Medicare or Medicaid, in which case,
those programs aren’t really “entitle-
ment” programs because the righteous
paid into them while working hard from
the time they were itty-bitty babies
just out of the cradle which had been
rocked by their mamas and the truth
of it is that the cotton in those old
cotton fields back home was picked by
whites and it is a vicious conspiracy
theory and fake news that the cotton
was picked by black slaves.

Navigating Financial Dire Straits

Monday was the start of the
spring fundraising drive on
the classical music station.
He ignored contributing for
six days not realizing the
station’s navigation of dire
straits. Hearing the station
was in irons and adrift with-
out a financial rudder, he
reached for his wallet when
he got the bad news that on
the seventh day, Sunday, the
classical station was Baroque.
As the ship was Liszt-ing,
Mozart was Haydn below deck
Some heard him say, “I’ll be
Bach,” but it was really
Arnold Schwarzenegger,
who hasn’t anything to do
with classical music
except, as rumor has it,
for the time he tried
out for H.M.S. Penafore,
an operetta, thinking it
had something to do
with a Beretta, to
be used in a musical
comedy version of
The Guns of Navarone.
He put away his check book
thinking it was time to
hop into the Van Gogh
Tchaikovsky down the
Italian slopes of Albinoni
which made him think of
Oscar Meyer baloney
which he may have for
lunch after being in
the balcony
of the latest Baroque
concert which he found
so rich and left
him feeling flush
with so much great
music.

The Salamander In the Pool

There on the second step into the pool
rested a salamander prone,
barely visible to the eye, the pool’s tone.
Could it be a rubber toy
set in place by a mischievous boy
hoping to make some adult a fool?
He bent and touched the salamander
and felt not rubber but soft, wet skin.
of an apparently dead amphibian
who entered the very wrong pool
and what is good for humans
left the amphibian a fool.
He tossed the salamander on the hot deck
and waited to see if it was still alive,
but the amphibian did not revive
and was, in fact, “as a door nail” dead.
The next day, he saw the carcass
on the deck,
the skin as tough as leather-neck.
He thought of placing the salamander
back in the same watery place
then waiting to see someone’s startled face,
but such would be a childish joke
played by much younger folk,
and so on the deck the salamander
was left to harden
and he watched wondering if someone
would step on it and cry, “What is that!”
or simply say, “Oh, beg your pardon.”

A Dumb, Old Joke

Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb? That’s a dumb, old joke.
Of course, the answer is President Ulysses S. Grant.
But in that tomb couldn’t there be other folk?
We’re told it’s Mrs. Grant who was an admirer but not a sycophant.
Are we sure they are really in that tomb or is it just a cenotaph
where a memorial is built but bodies abide elsewhere?
Maybe it’s really Taft’s tomb with an erroneous epitaph.
I guess we’ll have to take it that the Grants really are there.
Besides, it’s just a dumb, old joke and does anyone really care?

Sharing

For twenty-three years they have
been sharing meals. Was that new
for you? Yes. I think we have done
very well with the sharing. In fact,
I think our generosity toward each
other is seen in such sharing like
yesterday at Happy Hour. We split
the pot stickers and they were
delicious. Not having a knife I tried
to tear the odd-numbered one and I
left most of the pork and took half
of the shell. Then seeing it, you
gave me the pork and kept the
rest of the shell. Actually, I
counted on that knowing you are
more generous than I. I got the
pork and you got the shell, kind
of like I got the mine and you
got the shaft. Just kidding, dear.

Foiled Again

While reading a morning meditation,
his mind wandered from the words

to thoughts of his construction guy
who, now that he got the check, is

impossible to contact. With irritation
mounting as fast as the polar cap is

melting (which according to a new
scientific study is really fast), his

focus returned to the words in
front of him and he read, “It is the

Holy Spirit of God who prays in us,
who offers us the gifts of love,

forgiveness, kindness, goodness,
gentleness, peace, and joy.” Wanting

to harbor a grudge for just a bit
longer, he conceded, “Aarrgghh!

Foiled again.”

Falling Apples

He said he reads poets and
sometimes copies them for
practice. She said, you don’t
copy poets. He said, I mean

the form. He bends over back-
wards not to plagiarize. He
even credits sources for an
idea that will evolve into a

poem by placing an asterisk
next to the title indicating
an attribution. Where does
that come from, he wondered.

My dad, I think, he said.
Not my mother, he said
with a laugh. Where did
his immigrant, orphaned in

his teens, tossed-around dad
get that, that thing called
integrity? He doesn’t have
a clue but he feels proud to

have a little of it, too, as an
homage to an otherwise, sad,
short life, but a life full of
aphorisms like don’t ever

admit guilt if you are innocent.
Fess up if you are guilty. It’s
your word, son, the only word
you have and then just watching

him get ticked off when his
golfing partner, his brother-in-
law, a self-righteous, holier-
than-thou, kind of guy cheated

on his golf score. He thought
that if his dad were alive
today, and they played golf
together his dad would ask him

what game he was playing be-
cause he, the son, would claim
countless “gimmies,” which
his dad would never do, being

the by-the-book guy that
his dad was. The son’s answer
would be, I’m not cheating,
dad, I’m just playing by

the book of more gracious,
more forgiving rules. I’m
just trying to follow Jesus,
he would say with a smile.

Then he recalled his dad’s
sense of humor.