For the Love of It*

Emily Dickinson wrote for the love of it.
Before she died, she didn’t publish much of it
as countless, now famous, others didn’t publish much of it.
Walt Whitman wrote for the love of it
and thought so much of it
that he self-published it.
Ezra Pound wrote for the love of it
and thought so much of it
that he, too, self-published it.
So many poets self-publish it,
because they think so much of it.
Publishers don’t like publishing it,
because they can’t make a profit off of it.
People don’t read much of it
and buy even less of it.
So poets become publishers to publish it.
It sounds like others publish it
but poets self-publish a lot of it
and help other poets with publishing it.
You do what you gotta do
to get the message through
for nothing other than the love of it.
Do it for the love of it,
and let others decide on the fate of it.

*People ask me if I am self-published, often in a sort of snooty,
sort of condescending way. I realize that to get a book of poetry
published by a publishing house would take years and years and,
honestly, at my age, I don’t have all that much time. I would have
to get poems published in journals galore before any publishing firm
would even take a fleeting glance at me. I published about twenty-five
articles the traditional way of going through editors of magazines
and journals but now I tell people that I have a boutique, poetry book
publisher in Phoenix, Arizona. It just so happens that the name of
the company is Dahl Design Studio, which is owned by my daughter,
my colleague and collaborator on our first two books and on the
third which is scheduled for publication around the end of the year.
By the way, 75% of all books published today are self-published
(including all the poetry books no publishing house wants to publish).
I keep thinking of the old Greek proverb which I don’t know in Greek,
even though I studied it in seminary, which goes something like,
“Do it for the love of it and let others decide on the fate of it.”
Yeah, I just made that up.

An Aborted Happy Hour

The kiddies and their parents are gone,
gone home to have supper and get
ready for the Monday morning bus
that will cart the kids off to school
leaving the old folks at the camp-
ground following two days of inter-
mittent rain. They pour the lighter
fluid over the damp wood which sits
on damp branches which sit on damp
kindling which sits on the only dry
thing in the camp, the Sunday paper
and drop lit matches on the wooden
teepee in the fire pit and hope that
a flame will rise like Phoenix, but all
that happens is billows of lung chok-
ing, blue smoke ascend into the air, are
caught by the westerly breeze off the
Big Lake and settle on people in the
neighborhood on the other side of the
dune causing them to abandon Sunday
evening grilling and happy hour on their
decks, duck back inside to have another
drink while waiting for Masterpiece
Theater.

Gone in Seven Seconds

A transgender female is torched
to death in her car.
How many killed so far?
Young people in the US to save their lives are
told to go home
and not around America to roam —
They hear,
“This ain’t your home!”
Hate crimes rise higher and higher and go lower and lower.
Fear and hate and violence are unleashed
on the streets
which used to be just mean
and now are obscene.
And the crazy man at the helm of the sinking ship
just tries to flip
another deal
and make more money
to steal
from the taxpayers
and his sixty-three million deplorables
think he is adorable
and the Republican, evangelical whites
think he is Cyrus,
appointed by God to save the unborn babies
and free whites
from their unfounded frights,
and the one-percent of one-percenters
hedge their bets that
the crazy man
will continue
to grease the palms of their hands
with tax cuts
and we are all going nuts
knowing he doesn’t have
the keys to the kingdom
but to that which will
blow us all to kingdom come
in just seven seconds.

The Hazards of Candidates’ Debates/Revelations Which Do Deflate

The long-shot candidate made a huge, self-inflicted wound;
he had been one of the most attractive in the room.
But, his abrasive attack, planned to win favor
was something the viewers just could not savor.
In actuality, he didn’t have much of a chance
but he should have sent out a dove’s olive branch.
And so, the question becomes,
will he survive or will he be done?
A front-runner rambled on and on and on
with a white man’s soft, racist response
about slavery’s legacy — revealing an attitude deeply ensconced.
Basically, he said progress would be made for blacks
with better parenting skills, thus placing the blame squarely on their backs.

Death Deniers

There are multitudes of death deniers,
any mention of which would raise their ire.
I have conservative, religious death-denying relatives
who affirm that everlastingly they will live.
But they aren’t really talking about heaven;
they are speaking of seventy-times seven
(never about forgiveness) lived out here on earth
offering that it really hadn’t been that long since their birth.
But when it approached, they were surprised
that it was about to be the end of their earthly lives.
It turns out that the average life-span
is around eighty-five for my particular clan.
Never a death denier, I’m almost seventy-five,
and I just asked my primary, for ten more years, to help keep me alive.
If it happens, I trust and hope I will be satisfied.
If it happens before,
I hope I will not have been found hoping for more.
And, of course, we shall see;
till then I’m not anxious to stay or to leave,
just trust and believe.

Arrows without a Bow

With all the places to go
on the internet
to get information,
you would think
it would be a fine education,
but a quiver full of facts
but no bow to go
with the arrow
might leave one with
thinking that is oh, so very narrow.
Wisdom to facts
is like a finely strung bow
for the arrow.
It gives proper direction
for the facts to fly
if they are to hit the bull’s eye.

Per and the Dala Horse and Granddaughter Zoe

My wife Chris had the idea to give my wooden Swedish horse to our granddaughter Zoe for her ninth birthday and I thought that was a marvelous idea except that Zoe might not.

Why? It isn’t new and it has a broken mane. Well, the toy horse is about 65 to 70 years old, my having received it as a gift from relatives in Sweden somewhere between my 5th and 10th birthdays.

Chris found a wonderful book with beautiful illustrations called Per and the Dala Horse to go with the toy horse.

It is an absolutely beautiful book and the story takes place in Dalarna, the province my father came from. Apparently, the Dala horse is unique to the Provence of Dalarna. This is too good.

Also, in the story, the Dala horse is scratched after it saves the day and is later given
to the boy’s son, a point our daughter may wish to make with Zoe, who will be receiving
an imperfect horse.

Also, in the story, the minister’s name is Gustav (Which was my father’s name). And I’m a retired minister.

Seriously.

It all seems to fit,
if uncanny a bit.

The Boys Are Back In Town*

Lao Tzu, advocate
for withdrawal from power,
advocated for justice.
Jesus, Confucius, Plato
and Aristotle nodded
affirmatively, with
qualifications,
of course.
The Buddha
just sat
there
smiling.

*This poem started out as
a tanka then just took on
a life of its own. I forgot
to include the Buddha, so
there he is just sitting at
the end of the poem.

Perception, Anticipation and Waking in a Sweat While America Entertains Fascism

Remember I pointed out the small woodpecker?
I heard the tap, tap, tap that morning as I sat at
the desk. Then as we were backing out of the
driveway, we saw the perfectly round holes in
the cedar porch. (I had heard that woodpeckers
don’t like cedar, but we know that’s not true
because previously we had to fill the holes made
by woodpeckers with wood filler and put up the
reflective strips that flutter in the wind as a
deterrent.) Well, this morning around six I woke
in a sweaty state wondering how we were going to
get rid of the woodpecker and save the porch again.
I thought about swatting it away with a flyswatter
or a broom. I thought about trying to find dark-
colored wood filler to fill the holes so we wouldn’t
have to stain the wood filler like last time and have
the stain drip down on the cedar making a dark
mess I couldn’t remove and I thought about putting
up more of those reflective strips that flutter in
the breeze. I thought about how I would have to get
the tall ladder out to reach the highest places and
how I would need you to hold the ladder or maybe I
would hold the ladder for you because you are more
agile than I am. It bothered me so much, I just got
out of bed. I didn’t want to wake you with my toss-
ing and turning and moaning and groaning. Then
later, after the rain had stopped, I looked at all the
places we thought were holes and they were just
natural dark spots on the cedar.