It

Some, so afraid of the inevitable,
run headlong into it.
Some, so afraid of the inevitable,
try to run away from it.
Some, so afraid of the inevitable,
simply sit and wait for it.
Some, so afraid of the inevitable,
busy themselves trying to ignore it.
Some, so afraid of the inevitable,
simply resign themselves to it.
Some, so afraid of the inevitable,
obsess over it.
Some, so afraid of the inevitable,
exercise and gobble supplements to delay it.
Some, so afraid of the inevitable,
sit and simply ponder it.
Some, so afraid of the inevitable,
create heaven to deny it.
Some, so afraid of the inevitable,
create hell for all others to live in it.
Maybe St. Paul was the only one
not afraid of it.
Had he really transcended his fear of it
or did he create a metaphorical battle
between immortal life and it
just to cope with it?
Maybe, it was just his figurative
way of dealing with it.
All, so afraid of the inevitable,
do, in a variety of ways,
approach it.
All, so afraid of the inevitable,
do experience it.
And they all have to pay taxes
until it.

Conflict Exacerbated and Compounded — The Descent

The man read the following lines in a poem:

You read online how television, internet,
starving children in numbers greater than
three, polar bears, rain forests, light from
an off direction all desensitize the human
brain’s ability to empathize.

The man then thought about a recent incident where
he was treated very rudely by a leader in
an organization the man had once directed.

The man had been treated rudely by members
of that organization when the man was the
director.

They all did it “for the sake” of the organization.

It builds.

People dig in. They rationalize why they are right.

The man told a friend who is a member of that organization.

She became irate with him and told him that she might
never speak to him again and then rescinded that
idea for the sake of the relationship. It was close to

being really bad. Thirty-two years down the drain.

She thought the man wanted her to do something about the
rudeness he experienced at the organization. She
felt triangulated. He didn’t intend that. He just wanted
to share his hurt feelings with a friend, a friend
who had always been able to empathize in the past.

The man was hurt by members of the organization.
The man couldn’t understand the reasons for their actions.
The man couldn’t empathize with their motives in what
they believed were actions to protect the organization.

It builds.

The man’s friend was hurt by his telling her what had happened.
The conflict he had with members of the organization was
transferred to their relationship.

She couldn’t understand why he told her what happened.
She couldn’t empathize with the man.

He then, hurt by her reaction, couldn’t empathize with her.

The man then reread the lines from the poem:

You read online how television, internet,
starving children in numbers greater than
three, polar bears, rain forests, light from
an off direction all desensitize the human
brain’s ability to empathize.

Run, duck, attack, strike, hide, cower, fight.

The primordial survival skills reclaimed
in the absence of empathy.

Only they don’t work so well anymore
in helping people survive.

And then the man thought to himself, it is a miracle
we don’t all kill each other off and let the rats
have at it. They probably could handle it all better.

They are the professionals at fight or flight.

We used to know how to empathize.

A Conversation

I’ve been having this conversation for years,
actually as long as I can remember. “How
are you doing?” “Pretty well.” I note that
he remembers to use the appropriate adverb
rather than the adjective. He asks, “How
about you?” “Good, good, good,” I say
knowing this will drive him nuts. He frowns
but doesn’t say anything about it. “What
are you going to do today?” he asks knowing,
full well, I will go for a jog as I always do.
Without my even answering he asks, “Want
to grab a beer after your jog?” He also knows
I’m not drinking beer preferring wine, more
specifically Pinot Grigio. “We could go to
that cute, little wine bar you prefer.” Again
not waiting for an answer plus he knows
it really irritates me when he describes the
bar as a “cute, little wine bar” all the while
fluttering his fingers in a hoity-toity way.
I’m a little sensitive to think that he might
think I’m trying to one-up him on drinking
establishments. “Oh, let’s just forget it for
today,” I say. “Okay,” he says and I get
ready to go for a jog. He puts on my
jogging shoes.

The Wild

Something really scared the Chocolate Lab
last evening. Babe was trying to cozy up
in her cozy chair. She sat staring out the

window into the dark. Then she jumped up,
charged off the chair, ran around the great
room and hid behind another chair. We just

had been talking with a friend about coyotes,
foxes, black bears and even Mountain Lions
right here along the southern coast of Lake

Michigan in Michigan. She ran into the up-
stairs bedroom and wouldn’t come out for
about a half hour even with our coaxing. I

took her out in the dark to do her business
before we went to bed, flashlight in my hand.
Then my wife and I cozied up in the cozy bed,

the Chocolate girl on the floor next to us. I
wondered if I would dream of coyotes, foxes,
black bears and Mountain Lions even though

the Department of Natural Resources says,
“No, no Mountain Lions in the Lower
Peninsula.” Black bears are here, lurk-

ing in the dark by the window near
Babe’s big, cozy chair. And the lion
doesn’t sleep tonight. Babe knows.

Selective Hearing?

I watch as they start out for a walk.
Babe, the Chocolate Lab, dancing
and prancing and tugging hard on

the harness, which is attached
to the leash at the chest, which
gives my wife much more control

than she would have if the leash
was attached directly to the collar.
On the walk, my wife tells Babe

to heel, sit, and go slow. They
return about forty-five minutes
later and Babe walks much more

slowly, hardly tugging at all.
An hour later Babe sleeps on a
comforter between us as we sit

watching a New Year’s Day college
football game. My wife asks Babe
if she wants dinner. Babe raises

her head, perks her ears, stands
and looks toward the kitchen. Then
she goes from her food bowl to the

counter where she knows there is a
container of her dog biscuits which
she knows as “cookies.” She waits

for dessert. Heel, sit, go, slow,
no, good girl, dinner, cookie. Babe
still doesn’t understand “Bad girl.”

Maybe she’s just ignoring us.

I Just Don’t Get Poetry

Obscure, impenetrable
Some poems resemble
The unknowable.
Is it any wonder
That you will hear
Over and over,
“I just don’t
Get poetry.
Give me a novel,
Mystery
Or a short story.”?
It’s a pity.
The ancient genre
Was intended to be clear,
Easily memorized
And remembered
For years.
Even free verse
Is easily recalled
If it tells a story —
Brief, short and sweet,
To the point, concise,
Succinct, crisp, pithy,
Incisive, trenchant,
Laconic, elliptical
And terse.