The Irony of Heroism

The sergeant didn’t save the baby

from the burning building.

His partner did, but irony or ironies,

the partner was under cover

and couldn’t show his face.

So, the one who didn’t save

the baby had to sacrifice himself,

do the honorable thing and be

heralded as the hero. How hard

must it have been to stand

on the podium in front of all those

fellow cops and an adoring

public not to mention going home

to a wife with a whole new

revitalized, energized libido for

that hero husband?

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What’s Not Being Said?

What’s not being said

except all over Rev. Al’s

face?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

except on the white GOP

faces?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

directly anywhere in

public?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

except everywhere in

private?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

except through veiled

codes?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

except bar tossing and

birthers?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

except he’s really a

foreigner?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

except stop the

aliens?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

about white on black and

brown?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

about fear, hate, jingoism,

xenophobia?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

except everything but the

n-word?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

about Revere’s new panic

ride?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

about fear of the rainbow

invasion?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

about all being scared to name

it?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

about the truth of what Carter

did say?

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

is what the President can’t

say.

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

is E Pluribus

Unum.

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

is that all this is

racist.

Political Civil War

What’s not being said

is “Lord, have mercy upon

us.”

Life Is Not the Movies

Life Is Not the Movies

Life is not the movies.

It needs better writers,

spoke

the screenwriter and I

thought about politics

(and popcorn

and previews and wished I

was in the aisle seat about mid-

way back

in the dark watching a great

political thriller, but here I am).

A political writer

said this is the most vacuous

campaign in memory.

(Maybe an

espionage flick like the most

recent Bourne would be even better.)

Ivy league

educated candidates who

can’t seem to utter a cogent

statement of

substance on any issue affecting

the masses yearning to be…(Hmmm,

yeah, maybe

that’s why the guys with numb tongues

are stuttering through the summer) free?

Maybe that really

is just another word for nothing left to lose

now that the house is gone — another phrase

I heard someone else say —

with my own apologies to the Oxford scholar who

wrote the song and the King of the Road and Janis who

sang it at different times —

one with a twang and the other with a scream.

Where is Ambrose Bierce, H.L. Mencken, Mark

Twain and, of

course, the ever quotable, “Unsinkable” Molly Ivins

when you need them (no, not the Comedy

Central guys),

not to write the memorable lines for the candid-

ates, but, at least, to give us something substan-

tive upon which

to chew and make us laugh and cry

while we ate our popcorn?

Seven Haikus for Boomer

I’m breathing well;

my chocolate lab is not —

my asthma, his throat.

 

I know how he feels –

inability to breathe

freely and deeply.

 

Panic lurks close by,

always ready to attack —

shallow breathing, fear.

 

Our baby Boomer

panting, slurping water,

begging for relief.

 

Maybe another

doggie prozac will help him

settle down and sleep.

 

Now I lay me down

to sleep. I pray the Lord

Boomer’s life to keep.

 

If he should die be-

fore I wake, I pray his soul

to heaven does take.

Listening to Marian

Listening to Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz,

did I hear correctly?

The soprano sax guy said we are the youngest

of the species?

And he listens to humpback whales and other

creatures of the sea and land

for inspiration for his environmental music? He

rides the rapids

of the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand

Canyon with his jazz

quartet recording the sounds of the river and the

soprano sax and bass

and drums and keyboard as the music echoes off

the ancient walls.

I wondered how they kept the instruments dry not

to mention kept

the stuff in the boat. At the time I was belching out

CO2 and air pollutants

on a beautiful Saturday morning drive to buy microbrew

beer and La Vieille

Ferme, a French friend of my son told him it’s a great every-

day wine, in red, rose

and white for my nephew and his family visiting from Chicago.

I’d forgotten to buy those

things along with a loaf of rye bread yesterday on another

rum run.  So there

I was, a member of the youngest of the species, doing

my part to bring

to an end the short and happy life of the youngest

of the species

while listening to the soprano sax guy’s beautiful hump-

back whale, Colorado

River, Grand Canyon environmental music. Sometimes the irony

of things just smacks

me upside the head. Do I get a pass for being a member of the

youngest of the species, and,

therefore, not necessarily

the wisest

of the

species?

I didn’t think so.

 

 

Call Me Clueless, The Evolution of Understanding the End of A Relationship

Call me clueless, he said,

I read your blog.  Congratulations on selling your house.  I’m wondering if you are serious about cutting other ties to where you sold your house, like our friendship.

Call me clueless.

I’ve been thinking about you and wondering what the heck went wrong with our relationship.

Call me clueless.

I have known you for about a decade, all the years good from my perspective until you apparently wanted to end the relationship for reasons unknown to me.  Was it the time I proffered, watch your ego?

Call me clueless.

I know.  We are not creatures that take kindly to advice, especially when not requested. But I thought a decade would help weather the storm even if such a storm  blew in hard from the west across Lake Michigan or perhaps just from your eyes and into my face.

Call me clueless.

You just sat there, shook your head no and said what you do, you do for Jesus and in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Was it my frown of doubt?  The storm must just have churned inside.  Do you practice that hide?

Call me clueless.

I hate investing that much time in a relationship just to have it end abruptly.

Call me clueless.

That is to say, perhaps I could understand the ending if I understood the reasons. Was that it?  The caution, the warning, the look out/watch out?  What is it I’m not understanding?

Call me clueless.

Why do I feel that you can so easily just kiss a friendship goodbye. Is it that way with others, too? Is there history here? You’d think I’d know after ten years. You’d think,

Call me clueless.

and if that is the case, why does that disconcert me besides the fact that no decade long relationship should end so glibly?  Are you that callow of a fellow at your age?

Call me clueless.

I told someone that you apparently just cut off the relationship and he simply asked, “Well, what is friendship, anyway?”  Nicely put, Socrates.

Call me clueless.

My question exactly.  Others have asked why I would even bother.  They say for all those years it was all about you, no two-way street in the town of our time together.

Call me clueless.

I thought I was being a mentor. Then, I thought we had moved into friendship. There were clues along the way they say.

Call me clueless.

You preach love, compassion, forgiveness, justice, peace and yet, when it comes to practicing such things with someone who was a friend for so long they seem to fly out the proverbial window.   Intimacy issues?  I’m groping in the dusk or dawn not dark here.

Call me clueless.

Perhaps it is easier to write a newspaper article about those Jesus things than to be those things in the flesh and blood with another person.  Where did incarnation go, long time passing?

Call me clueless.

You get a by-line and I get a good-bye line.

Call me clueless.

You get a photo in the paper and I get shoved out of the picture.

Call me clueless.

Apparently, I have a harder time leaving friendships behind than you do and as a result, I’m feeling very vulnerable, opening myself up to another rejection from a friend of all those years, but it is a risk I am willing to take,

Call me clueless.

if for no other reason than, I believe Jesus calls me to take it, the Jesus who befriended us all and made us friends of all but doormats of none. Eyes wide open.

Call me clueless.

After all these years, I would like to know something one way or another either to keep the relationship going or regretfully to say goodbye to the runaway guy.

Call me clueless.

In either event, I wish you nothing but the best (Yeah, I’m not being exactly truthful) as you seek to follow the way of peace and justice. I leave you with another of your sayings from your blog:

“Surprise! When you are present, you are a gift.”

Don’t call me clueless.

Just call me sad and, in all honesty, a little mad, but this, too, shall pass and I’ll get on with getting on because I think that’s a calling, too, he said.

He Cut His Teeth

He Cut His Teeth

He cut his classical music baby teeth

on Debussy while in the a/v room

of his community college

 

where he worked to make a few dollars

to help with the cost of his books having

received a scholarship which

 

paid for his tuition but which meant he would

have to live a couple more years with

his less than agreeable mother

 

after his lovable but very troubled father died

prematurely at his own hand at the age

of fifty-six. He listened to C chords

 

and sharp chords not knowing to what he was

listening and what one critic acknowledging

the 150th anniversary of Claude’s birth

 

dubbed a piece of Debussy’s music “as if

a tectonic musical plate has shifted.” He

didn’t know that.  He just knew he

 

had shifted in his seat in the a/v room when

he heard it.  He didn’t have a clue about

that tectonic shift having listened

 

mostly to The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and

Mary and the unbelievable harmonics of

The Beach Boys, not then appreciating

 

the classical music talent of the boys anymore

than he understood Debussy. He just loved the

storm of La Mer, the waves rolling high

 

and violent and feeling so much like Lake Michigan

a few miles away on the Chicago, Illinois side

originally and then the Michigan side

 

directly across from Racine, Wisconsin

and the image of the deer stopping in the

woods in his imagination near Lac du

 

Flambeau, Minocqua, and  Indian Lake in

Prelude to the Afternoon of the Fawn.

He just learned that the tectonic

 

genius who was ambivalent about being

an Impressionistic composer but  also

ambivalent in love and lust

 

having bedded several, leaving one

to attempt suicide and then fathering

his only child, a daughter, by a

 

married woman. “Oh, Claude, what am I to do

with you?”  he called to the heavens on the

anniversary of Debussy’s birth.

 

Nothing, absolutely nothing anymore than

He would do to the Kingston Trio as he

strummed MTA and Tom Dooley

 

or Peter, Paul and Mary as he worked

an arpeggio from B minor to E minor

in “The Cruel War.”

 

He put the guitar down, sat back and thought

about PP and M at the McCormick Place concert.

Peter said he was no disciple, Paul said he was

 

no apostle and Mary said she was no virgin.

They brought down the house.  He was with

the girl friend who he thought he would

 

see at the fiftieth anniversary of their high

school graduation but she died in Tucson

AZ after an unhappy marriage to

 

an Ivy League professor.  Here all this time

since he sat in the a/v room listening to

Debussy he was just sure her life

had been magical.

The Good Rabbi, Reflections on An Interview with Michael Lerner In The Sun, September 2012

The good rabbi,

being

a good rabbi,

made,

in his own

words,

a rough analogy —

perhaps, but

a smooth simile:

The fear

after 9/11

led to building up

armies and killing

terrorists.

That,

he said, is like

killing

every mosquito

to

stop malaria.

Better to

“dry up the swamps.

Dry up

the swamps

of hatred.

Dry up

the swamps with

generosity and

care.”

He follows

another good

rabbi, Jesus, who

told the

rich, young

ruler (what did

Jesus know? Was

the ruler

buttering

him up a bit?)

not to call him

good but

this good Jesus

came

to dry up

stagnant

swamps

swarming with

hatred,

to preach

love

on the mountain

so

“justice

would roll

down

like

waters and

righteousness

like an

ever flowing

stream.”

Neither rabbi

is

stagnant.

Both –

dynamic.

Tell us

a  story,

rabbi.

Help us

to

see.

 

On Sunday Morning

On Sunday Morning

On Sunday morning he got up and rode his trusty-

but-not-at-all-rusty-thirty-seven-year-old-ten-speed

five-miles to the best-breakfast-restaurant-in-town.

 

He rode on the bike path next to the road that takes

vacationers to rental cottages and the beach. The

Beemers, Caddies, Mercedes and one Maserati

 

buzzed loudly as they passed like steel-aluminum-

plastic-four-wheeled-giant hornets and wasps.  Some

WASPS turned left at the outdoor worship service

 

but many went on to the best-breakfast-restaurant-

in-town.  When he arrived he carefully maneuvered

his bike among the cars jockeying for a parking

 

space, parked the bike, went in and ordered a cup

of gourmet-coconut-and-dark-chocolate-flavored-

coffee and a pig-in-the-blanket and then sat

 

outside at one of the tables to eat, drink and read

the latest issue of The Sun magazine, but as he sipped

and chewed he watched the Sunday morning

 

vacationers at the parking lot version of bump

cars at a carnival, only just barely missing

bumping as they eagerly, seemingly selfishly,

 

speedily sought out an open parking space.

Some double parked blocking three or four

cars from getting out  if they needed to

 

in-order-to-run-in for a take-out-order from

the bakery next to the restaurant. Some stole

spots from others slipping in like laughing

 

hyenas while another waited for a car to pull

out of the space. The displaced driver gunned his

engine like the lion in the MGM logo

 

announcing his presence with a great roar.

After they parked, the pilgrims got out of

their cars and flip-flopped in no particular

 

hurry up to the door of the restaurant having

secured a spot in the lot.  They moved non-

chalantly as if they had been entitled to

 

to be where they were.  All that was missing

was a doorman. He noticed that the drivers of the

cars with the Illinois license plates were the

 

most aggressive in their pursuit of parking and

that came to him as no surprise.  It just confirmed

previous experiences he had had winding his

 

way through the Windy City, especially the time

he observed the road rage directly in front of

him as he drove along the Dan Ryan in the

 

shadow of the tower-formerly-known-as-Sears

during rush hour which he  knew to be just about any hour.

Brakes screeched, bottles flew and he prayed.

 

He went back to his pig and continued reading

the interview with a progressive rabbi on how

there could be world peace if only nations

 

practiced the hesed (loving kindness) of

Yahweh and took seriously the compassion

and love and justice of Jesus and stopped

 

acting like uber-nationalistic, hyper-capitalistic

creatures living out of their alligator brains.

He sat there sipping his coconut-dark-

 

chocolate-flavored-gourmet-coffee and simply

shook his head as a Lexus flew by barely

missing a Range Rover backing quickly

 

out of a space. The Rover, oblivious to the

near miss, roved all over the parking lot

on its way out onto the road that would

 

take the passengers back to the vacation

home, the beach, maybe an afternoon

round of golf and, of course, the

 

eagerly anticipated happy-hour later

with single-malt-scotch and single-barrel-

bourbon before dinner before

 

the trip back to the city to catch

a few winks before putting on

the three-piece suit.

.

Homage to Indecipherability in Yellow and Red

Homage to Indecipherability in Yellow and Red

Mustard swirls into volcanic dust as

Sparks fly out of yellow kayaks paddling

 

Up Everest angling their way around

Empty air canisters and a whole lot of

 

Dry, unmentionable matter

Once yellow now brown before doing

 

An Eskimo roll in the

Evaporated pee.

 

The bottom of the sea lowers itself toward

China and the four climbers without

 

Hygiene products keep their distance on the rope

As they swim into the rapidly flowing river of

 

Volcanic mustard.

The heavens close the door while

 

China opens its to the kayakers and

Climbers so in need of a bath of

 

Sulfur salts but who will descend

Into the dark holes of the

 

Universe to escape the green

Turned yellow earth, wind and

 

Now just fire.