The Cantor’s Call

Have you noticed the cantor’s call —
deep in sorrow and with those who suffer?
The cantor stands before the pall.
Justice, justice we must pursue
 
for the female justice who was Yahweh’s follower,
 
through and through —
so proud of her people who
 through 
centuries of pain,
 
persevered and remained 
faithful to the vision, eternity’s call —
justice, justice, was her call 
 
to seek freedom, choice, inclusion, balanced scales
 
and the mutuality of the beloved community for all.
Such shall not fail.

The Loneliness of the Protestant Pastor

She’s always my pastor to me                    
even when she stopped being the pastor of my community.
That’s the only thing she could ever be.
She was called to serve my community
but she was never a member of that body.
She could never be a friend to me
because she will always be my pastor to me.
Friends and acquaintances are in my community.
Where does my pastor find camaraderie?
With other pastors? Maybe.
It’s a vocation that can be very lonely.
She could never be a friend to me
because she will always be my pastor to me.
It is only through those eyes that I can see.
For pastor and parishioner, a great divide will always be.
She can never be a friend to me.
She will forever and ever be pastor to me.
That’s the only thing she could ever be.
Whose friend could she be?

If I Had a Real Poet’s Name*

If I had a real poet’s name,
a name like Pádraig Ó Tuama,
I might be taken seriously,
and I wouldn’t have such insecurity and trauma,
or maybe Seamus Heaney
and people would find me poetically brainy
or how about Ocean Vuong?
Then nothing would go wrong
and people would see the deep blue sea
of poetic profundity in me.
And then there is Joy Harjo
and I would be thought a real poetic pro,
but what do you do with a name like Bob?
How can a poet be named Bob?
It is so pedestrian, so banal, so ordinary.
And so, I just sit here and sob.
Why couldn’t my parents have named me Robert,
like so many great poets
a name meaning “of great fame”?
Oh, wait, they did
and such fame I stand ready to claim,
a designation that clears the poetic fog
and I have nothing but deep
appreciation and gratitude
to the people who visit my blog.

*the poets named above are featured
in an issue of the e-newsletter of On Being.

Some Say

Some say he’s a solipsist;
most say he’s a narcissist;
either way, he won’t cease and desist.
As a solipsist, for him, nothing exists
outside of his cranial cyst,
unlike the narcissist
who stares into the lake’s mist
but knows something else exists.
For him, ego and service don’t mix
and so the election, he will corruptly fix
or at least he will try, but hopefully, that’s nixed
and he loses and goes directly to jail.

The Theater of the Absurd

It is nothing new to say that we
are in the grip of a play directed
by a madman, while we just wring

our hands and then sit on our thumbs
ignoring what is happening on stage —
the reality that hundreds of thousands

of our fellow actors have died
and hundreds of thousands more
stand in the wings of the plague’s

stage ready for their entrance into
the madman’s play and fast exit
stage left. The existentialists just

shrug and say hang in there; the
nihilists mutter “humph” and we
told you so; and the rest of us just

squirm in our comfortable, cushion-
ed seats as the lights come down
and the curtain goes up on the final

act and we wonder if the director
will summon us when every other
actor has exited.

The Whole Party

The whole party is perfidy 
     and that ain’t pretty.

The whole party is perfidy 
     and that’s pretty silly.

The whole party is perfidy 
     and that is just a damn pity.

The whole party is perfidy 
     and that hurts the whole country.

The whole party is perfidy 
     and there goes the democracy.

It Can Be Said

It can be said that nature doesn’t care a whit
whether we run or walk, stand or sit.

Nature will run right over us,
so we need to watch for all the fuss.

When oceans rage and forests flame,
why do we call these Acts of God, God to blame?

What a silly attribution
when we need our own ablution

for all the havoc we have caused;
for nature and our sake, we need to pause.

Once we knew as with other animals
how to get out of the way, flee the dahl,

the low forest, for the hill, higher ground
where safety surely would be found,

and so we were wiser then
than we are now, not just running when

necessary but living with nature
and nature’s evolving future.

But we abandoned harmony with nature
and opted for usurpature

and so, of God’s love, we lost sight
and now face the soul’s and nature’s dark night.

Nature will survive
but will we even still exist not to mention thrive?

Making Leaves Blow

E-GO is the most powerful thing to make leaves blow
according to an advertisement during a TV show.
E-GO is where all manly men go
when they want to show
how much manliness they have to the marrow.
E-GO is what to use when AK-47s are a no show.
E-GO is exactly the right name for this thing that makes leaves blow
at a very high decibel, loud enough to bring the Devil up from below.
Such noise irritates the neighbors, but what do they know?
Just wait till the manly men haul out the monstrosities that make the snow blow.

Ship of State

He thought that the traits of
integrity, honesty, courage,
following the agreed upon

rules and regulations were
found in the marrow of the
bones of the ship if not in

the hearts of those charged
with guiding the ship to shore,
but the ship is not in that kind

of shape. Now, the ship can
barely sail and the captain has
mutinied and the crew cheers.

Will the ship get to shore or
will it sink while the captain
and crew grab the lifeboat,

save themselves and let the
passengers drown in the ship                                                                                               sailing to see Poseidon.

The Day He Quit Smoking a Pipe

A newly minted twenty-one, a
senior in college, he attended
the spring fraternity dance in
the downstairs ballroom of the
restaurant on the banks of the
river leading out to the Big Lake.

It was a big deal to rent out a
facility in a resort town twenty
miles from campus. He, one of
the few frat boys to smoke a pipe,
thought it made up for his grades.

Of Scandinavian descent, he pre-
ferred the sweet-smelling blend
from Sweden and he enjoyed tell-
ing everyone, in a fake accent,
the name of the blend. It was his
first date with the cute, blond
sophomore. Someone called his

name and as he swung around, his
pipe struck a support column. It
flew out and twirled to the floor,
sparks landing on his date’s dress.
She refused his calls over the
following summer.