What If We Released the Prisoners?

What if we released the

thousands upon thousands

of non-violent prisoners who

cost the U.S. taxpayer about

sixty-thousand per year per

person, gave them rehab if

needed at a fraction of the

cost and remedial classes at

a fraction of the cost and en-

rolled them in community coll-

eges at a fraction of the cost

with Roman Catholic nuns as

their sponsors? They might get

their wrists slapped with a ruler

by the old-timey ones in the

starched habits (and, to be honest,

some might still need that slap),

but they would get the big bear

“Where is your habit, sister?”

nun hug celebrating success for

the previously incarcerated non-

violent persons, and for those

very nuns (starch or no starch),

and Jesus, yes, always Jesus and

the tax payers who get a pretty

penny, prison rebate, too.

The Way It Used to Be

In the spring,

it used to be

delightful showers.

Now it’s thunderstorms,

lightening and torrential

rain for hours,

not to mention killer

tornadoes wiping out towns

and shutting down

the power.


In the summer,

it used to be

lazy days and warm

summer nights.

Now it’s scorching

desert heat

where even the Gila

monsters, scorpions and


beat a speedy retreat.


In the fall,

it used to be,

for many, the favorite

season of all

with Indian Summer

colors and a chill

in the air.

Now it’s hurricanes

that seem like daily fare

where everyone is

washed away and given

a horrendous scare.


In the winter,

it used to be

the wish for snow

by December twenty-five.

Now its enough to stay warm

and keep alive

in the subzero weather

and enough snow, making

it hard to survive.


In the spring, summer, fall

and winter,

it’s the way it used to be

before global warming

became a frightening,

earth changing, life




The Non-Credit Summer School Class

The non-credit, summer school

class in typing between his junior

and senior years ended with

twenty-one words and seven

errors for a generous “D” from

the teacher who liked him and

which, thankfully, didn’t count

on his high school grade point

average, which suffered enough

in his senior year, not to mention

his SATs, after his father’s violent

suicide, he thought to himself as

he typed the poem flawlessly

fifty-two years later.

Carl Sandburg Wondered

Carl Sandburg wondered about the

home life of a hangman.


What about the fresh-faced, Air Force

kids who monitor the nuclear


weapons in remote, cold, boring

places? Maybe they are too


young to think about what they

are doing or, more at it, what


they might be called on to do.

The hangman just had to think


about one or maybe two necks

a day.

The Settlers Settled in a Swamp

The 1847 Dutch settlers

settled in a swamp

they didn’t know

was just so

till the spring when

there was a big melt

of snow.

So they chopped and

sawed and cut

all the trees

and drained the swamp

after the big freeze.

They dug a channel

and sent those logs

flying into the breeze.

They farmed the land

and brought prosperity

to that hardworking,



but over the years, the

fertilizer and run off

polluted the lake

name Black

and the citizens

a century

and a half later

didn’t know

if they would

get their

lake back

from farmland

spill and phosphorus

and wondered, “What will

happen to us?”

Well, some really smart

academic folk said,

“This is not a joke; if you

want to make your

lake pristine,

you have to create some

watersheds to

make that water clean.”

So, believe it or not, as if

by God’s grace,

the country club of the old,


Dutch went belly up

and it was just the right


That low, lying land

became a water shed

to hold back all

the pollutants of dread

and clean water started to

come back as it was

in the good, old days

before the Dutch displaced

the Ottawas.



What Do We Want?

The writer of the daily meditation asked:

“Do we want to get useful information?

“Do we want to conquer knowledge?

“Do we want to show that someone else is wrong?

“Do we want to grow in wisdom?

“Do we want to find a way to sanctity?”*

The reader pondered:

“Do I want to be honest?”

*Henri Nouwen

Just Hit the Brakes

“Racism is palpable in 2014,” his friend wrote.

“Hey, 1964 isn’t that long ago, just fifty years,”

he wrote back. And then he just mumbled:

But apparently, long enough

to take us back to the halcyon days of

Ozzie and Harriet

and Jim Crow.

Dubya’s Supreme Court must be watching ME TV.

We have arrived, those white guys and one black

guy with a big identity problem must believe.

The Roberts’ solution:  “The way to stop

discrimination on the basis of race

is to stop discriminating

on the basis of race.”

Nice, John.

Here is another super profound thought:

“Come on people, everybody get together

and love one another right now.”

and how about “Make love, not war”?

But, of course. Why not? The Chief Justice

as an old dippy hippy.

And why wouldn’t we all just

get together

and sing Kumbayah?

Well, when we did sing Kumbayah back

in the day, we were all white kids at

church camp singing an African

song without any black kids

in sight.

Today, they are in sight and those

young, white kids are now scared to

death old, white men, who don’t sing

“Come By Here,” but “Keep Out of Here.”

The way to stop accidents at


is to just stop at intersections,

so let’s just take away

all the stop signs

and voluntarily hit those brakes;

everybody get together and stop

at the corner, right now.

And Rod Serling has just announced

that we have entered

the Twilight Zone.



how firm a foundation

endlessly painting the foundation,

shoring it up, tweaking it, admiring it,

defending it,

clobbering others with bricks

left over from it …

and over and over

going down into it

to live in the

dank, darkness

as they pull the

tarp over it

peering out one last time

with eyes filled with

a fear that contains

no wonder….

they forgot, as sappho and

salinger advised, to

“raise high the roofbeam,


—- a poem by Tom Eggebeen and Bob Dahl



More Equal than Equal

In a state surrounded by great lakes

known even more for its crumbling

infrastructure (as experienced par-

ticularly in its ubiquitous pot holes)

than for the bumbling legislature,

which lets the infrastructure crumble,

it is comforting to know that there

still exists equality under the law.

On a harrowing spring-time drive

on a lakeside road, a couple

noticed the only patched-up pave-

ment on the many mile drive along

a lovely inland lake was directly in

front of a billionaire’s waterfront

compound, proving once again that

the law is better than equal; it’s

even more equal for some than for

others. Well, isn’t that the

AM-erican WAY?

The Day After

The day after the Sunday when pro-

fessional golfers knelt in prayer near

a sand-trap and prayed the prayer that

wealthy, white, evangelical, Christian

golfers pray while kneeling near a sand-

trap of a posh, top-drawer, super expen-

sive, exclusive, private golf course, thirty-

five thousand runners of every (and

some no) spiritual stripe stood Boston

strong in a simple moment of silence

and nonviolence to honor those who

were injured or killed one year before

in that place and to remember their

families. Jesus was spotted standing

somewhere toward the back of the

pack wearing bright chartreuse com-

pression leggings and those new max-

imalist running shoes which look like

clown shoes but which are all the rage.