Skin Tone Covetousness

He stood in front of the mirror
glorying in his bronze skin —
rich, glowing, a brilliant brown.
He surveyed his shiny, brown,
bald pate, hair cut close. He
reveled in his handsomeness
and then he looked away and
then turned back and saw the
blotchy, blue-veined, Honky skin
staring back at him and he felt
sorry he was an old, white guy
knowing that wishing will not
change one age spot or red
blotch. He turned off the light
and staring into the mirror,
said, “That’s a bit better.”

A Deafening Silence

Silence and then, “Come on.”
106th to 111th, left to State,
Then Michigan then down the hill
To Swedish town. Right turn, park,
Up a flight of stairs and talk,
Talk, talk in Swedish and every
Now and then a Jeanette. Bjorgy,
Bjorgy, bjorgy, Jeanette. Bjorgy,
Bjorgy, bjorgy, Jeanette. I, an
Eight-year-old, sat and watched
My Swedish father and his Swedish
Foster mother, my Auntie Anna,
Shake their heads and rake Jean-
Ette over the Swedish coals. Then
The journey was reversed and I went
Home to silence broken only when
I said, “Hi, Jeanette.” “What! What!!
To you my name is mother. Now go
To your room.” I closed the door
And entered, once again, the silence
That was to last through the night,
Through breakfast and until I got
On the school bus.

‘Rithmatic, Readin’ and Writin’*

It’s in the course of studying
‘rithmatic, readin’, and writin’
that critical thinkin’ will tighten
and a student will be enlightened,

for in ‘rithmatic, two plus two
is always four
and then there is more and more
leading to algebra, geometry,
trigonometry and calculus
and all that Einstein gifted us
and so much more
that helps us understand the
universe and galaxies galore
in language and symbols ever so terse.

In readin’ one seeks to comprehend
and be able to think things through
to the end.
“Ah, I think I understand
this metaphor and that simile,
and I do love the joy that
reading poetry gives to me.”

And when it comes to writin’
a well diagramed sentence is enlighten’n.
Nouns go here and verbs go there
and in-between and all over the place,
there are combiners, refiners,
definers like adverbs, adjectives
gerunds — so many modifiers.
It’s hard not infinitives to split
and sometimes participles do dangle,
but keep trying and (pun intended)
you’ll get the hang of it.

Just the right word in just the right place
is justified in taking up the space;
a well turned phrase is ever, “all the rage,”
and sentences on their way to
paragraphs and articles and
perhaps a book will really cook

nourishing the souls of those
who read
and find their spirits
freed
to wallow in the wonder
of thoughts so “enlighten’n”

and all because of your
grade school teacher taught you
‘rithmatic, readin’
and writin’.

*for Ms. Harriet Allen,
my fifth grade teacher, who
without benefit of a “hickory stick,”
helped me learn and love the three Rs.

“The Poor” — A Wealthy, White Perspective

“India’s poor,
in spite of their situations,
have smiles above limitations,”
uttered the rich,
white man on a tour.
“Poor, black slaves were happy
before the Emancipation
Proclamation,”
stated a wealthy, white man,
owner of a plantation.
“Walk a mile in my
moccasins,” goes
the Native American
proverb.
The two wealthy,
white men prefer
authentic,
Minnetonka
moccasins, made
in the good, old US of A.
Okay?
Sorry, Misters Charlie.
Minnetonkas are owned
by a rich, white man
and have been manufactured
in China and the
Dominican Republic quite awhile
in great capitalistic style.
“Ah, the glories of capitalism,”
stated said Misters
Charlie with dollar signs
for eyes and big, greedy smiles,
“In those moccasins, we would
gladly walk a mile.”

Lovers’ Quarrels*

We intimates 
	fight because 
we want more 
	of each other 
and failing that, 
	as is always 
the case, we become 
	petulant children 
prone on the floor 
	arms and legs 
kicking, flailing away 
	--- I want, I want, 
I want…more, 
	so very much more 
of your love --
	a need never met, 
a thirst never 
	quenched,
a perpetual stare 
	into the dark, 
endlessly dry depths 
	of a wishing well.

*idea from a meditation by
Henri Nouwen

Should We Be Grateful That It Is Still Only About a Third of the Population?

I did not have an exceptional public school education, but my dutiful, dedicated teachers taught me to think critically, to look at the issues, to weigh the scales, to ferret out the fallacies and uphold and affirm the truths, to do this: objectively analyze and evaluate an issue in order to form a knowledgeable judgment and, eventually, to do so as if by rote.

I didn’t think much about those things as school went along; I just assumed that is what education was about and that all students of our universal, public education system were getting the same as I was.

Then I started to reflect on the 2016 presidential election and seeing all the rabid Trump supporters at his rallies shouting mindless phrases and I began to wonder what schools they had gone to, why they missed being taught critical thinking skills and I am left with nothing but questions.

Did they not get the education they were supposed to get? Were they taught those things but those things, for whatever reason, didn’t sink in or get through their thick skulls? Was it a combination of both? Is it that fear blinds us to reality and cripples our ability to think rationally? Is it fear at the root of so much ignorant rage? Grievance at thinking one is cheated out of what’s only fair and right, thus blocking any thought of what was taught? Something else? What could it be?

I don’t have the answers to those questions, but this one thing I know: I am profoundly distressed at the level of ignorance and wrong thinking in evidence in our country and what that might bode for the future of our representative democracy — a fragile system dependent on the populous’ ability to see the forest for the trees and have a reliable, dependable compass of reason to navigate through that forest.

Right now, I’m not so sure and I’m not at all comforted by the fact that what amounts to a much more sophisticated, educated, cultured people than ours even now or any other at that time on the face of the earth were culpable and complicit in the barbaric, brutal destruction of six million human beings and the near overthrow and destruction of civilization to fascism, despotism and barbarism.

Or do we just have to throw our hands up and accept that about a third of the population of the United States, at any given time, will be mindless fellow citizens and pray and hope that that percentage never increases?

And That You Can Trust

Hi, I’m Mike Pence and you are not
and you probably don’t have my
silver locks nor my silver-tongued,
stentorian voice practiced over
and over for radio and then TV
and then politics. I use it to deny
evolution, deny that I lust, deny
abortion rights, deny that I lust.
deny gay rights, deny that I lust,
but I demur, distract, distrust, dis-
dain, dis, dis, dis, and dat, but I
digress. Might I just say (Do you
hear that stentorian voice? I practice
in front of a mirror while combing
my gorgeous hair.) that our country
has so much to give thanks for with
President Trump at the helm of our
ship of state until overboard he falls
and my country calls…me…to be…
captain and in a navy blue dress
uniform laden with medals I will
stand tall on the quarterdeck
hand steady on the wheel, and
in my deep voice (can you hear
the stentorian voice right now?)
I will call, “All men on deck!”
and it will be all men (hetero-
sexual men only) because women
have no place on a ship and have
I told you that I do not lust? Here,
let me say it with a little deeper,
more authoritative voice, “I do
not lust.” Isn’t that a great voice?
I just love hearing myself say
profound things, non-fake news,
in that voice, truths like, “I do
not lust and that you can trust.
What’s that? Disgusting unction you say!
Patently and positively patronizing?
Fie on your picayune protests!”
Pence squawked in his
true, squeaky, little voice,
“For your mortal soul I shall pray.”

On the Way

On the way to the car wash
the man heard an interview
with a young vocalist about

his quartet, growing up near-
by, going to school in Chicago
at Roosevelt University and,

and, and just then the man’s
heart skipped a beat as he
thought about growing up

in Chicago, going downtown,
listening to jazz quartets,
dating a girl who went to

Roosevelt University and
laughing at her for drinking
a Brandy Alexander before

dinner. The cut played during
the interview was “Time After
Time,” and… you kept my love

so young, so new and time
after time I tell my self that
I’m so lucky to be loving you

….

As the man pulled the car
into the garage, he thought
about singing some of those

lyrics to his wife, but just
knew he would get choked up,
after only a phrase or two,

so he played it for her on
You-tube. The man went back
into the study, played “Just

the Way You Look Tonight,”
and cried.