Philosopher´s Curse

I could handle all the pain-
The positivity and such.
Why I still determined to find answers
Was never disclosed, though.
Laboring on like a fiend,
Each meeting was fruitless,
Each mentor as useless as God.
If only I could kiss
This yearning goodbye
And tackle something straightforward
Something where I wouldn’t hesitate,
Something that wouldn´t frustrate the heavy thinkers.
So I stuck to making an arbitrary choice:
Deflecting the insanity by engaging in my own
Whataboutism, changing the subject
For another day,
Another Philosophy 101 curse.



It was small village facing
An anachronism of fates,
Like many irritants, we were teased out regularly
And often lingered around the corner shadows with
Artifacts of an unused inheritance:
We were the original disturbers
Determined to upset this apple-cart no matter what.

In those early days,
Watchful mornings lasted till
Sunsets, when we faced-off with
Righteous earrings among the biker crowd.
Before, at lunch, a unique silence
Embedded the crowd gathered to channel their
Shameful ways
Against a humming bird display of
Cockeyed wonder and a bunch of upset church folk.
Dinners were quieter. We plotted.

They thought they could take us.
We binged on the display and ruminated
About opening new avenues of indignation
To stir the town loose of the last
Moorings remaining.
A grand farewell might have followed but we left town
In a hurry, after burning it all down,
The sirens following amid our crazed laughter
And the deadly serious chance
We´d never reach the border in time for the news.



“My turn to do the dishes tonight”
Siggi said, his rotten teeth reeking
As his honest smile expanded into a hole
In his face that gave me about as much welcoming warmth
As the chili served that first night
Affected me the next morning.
“I can cook tomorrow too, if you want” he added,
Nodding his head a bit too enthusiastically.
I demurred, saying something about snuggling with
A cheap bottle tonight, as a joke really, one
He didn´t seem to get.

In my room upstairs, the light held close
To the walls, as the mist across the fjörd
Seemed to creep in the window and up to the ceiling.
I´d catch a chill if I left it open
But the chance of spotting orcas again
Was too good to pass up.
I sat at the old wooden desk and,
Taking up the debt I had,
I began writing a thank you note
To the owners on the cheap paper provided.

Gazing out at the gray scene, I sat like a sentinel
Waiting for the arrival of modern inspiration,
Breathing in the incredibly fresh air,
Grumbling about the cheap accommodations,
The broken chair, & the remoteness of the location,
But unable to think past
Siggi´s tobacco-stained, broken teeth.
Inspiration stood safe
For a few more days, I thought.


A Generous Sacrifice

Happy that the resistance
Continued, he lit a cigarette
And, looking towards the valley
Exhaled with a measure of peace
Only warriors had, facing their deaths.
The secrets of his life were over,
No more deceptions, no more hapless dreaming.
Now a generous sacrifice would take them all
To the ages, and, knowing the hagiographies
Would reflect different men and women
Than the ones assembled there, that night,
He smiled anyway, knowing the
Naïve will believe in the Truth on the page,
But the intelligent and wise ones,
Would take their time, not only with their aim,
And their devotion to stories,
But with their favorite smokes.



Minding the aches,
He craftily put on his work-shirt,
Deliberately shifting his left arm in a
Twist those yoga teachers would feel proud
And, when done, he
Sighed, sitting back, to begin on the shoes.
This was going to be a long day.
Years after working 60-80 hour weeks,
The body responded to pain
At every level, every day.
His new work at construction sites
Would be temporary, for sure,
But this was all he could do
For now.

The sea called.
The sea had to wait.
Forty years at sea caused many of those aches,
But always she carried her children softly at night,
Rocking them to sleep.
Giving them dreams to hold,
For the children, he always said.
For the kids.

Retirement from the sea came too soon
And now he banked his time
With stubby fingers, sore muscles, and a sad envy
For those who could fill out better forms
For better jobs.
Not getting too emotional over his lot
Was the way he stayed sane, calmly
Praying to a god he wasn´t sure of
To at least let him die at sea. Where
He worked like a mule, but could at least
Sleep well, knowing the kids would eat
And his wife would take good care of them.
The skies never responded.

Now the hateful reactions of the men
Who thought he took their jobs,
Their ugly words,
Their spiteful reactions
At seeing him every morning,
Took none of the shame away,
But took none of
His ocean dreams, either.
He would wait it out,
Until something came up again.
Something always did.
And he´d do it without complaint.
For the kids.

Bootleg Revolution


On Sunday, they lifted
The clouds from their vision,
Catching the heart of the Times,
Realizing that the future
Had arrived. Everything in tumbling flux.

No one detected their rise: like yeast,
The bread of rebellion needs something to help,
And the temperatures on the streets, in the air,
And within their bodies all pointed to one thing-

Sure, more time was needed but, unavailable,
They made it up as they went.
The world revolving in its usual place,
The plans undetected, unassailable.

In the end, revulsion for the apathy,
Pulled many others in,
Leading us all to concoct a bootleg version of any
Official revolt.
It was better this way.

Both the heroic and the sensitive
Rose to the occasion on that fateful day,
Spreading faster than the California wildfires
Which signaled just one part of the story they
United to fight against.
They took chances, made their movements
Discontinuous to throw off pursuers,
Touching mercy and justice both with
The fury of our terrible righteousness.

Glorying in the first days of success,
We all watched and applauded,
Handing out food and water
As they marched across the highways
Destined to fill History,
One sparrow leading the way,
With more spectacle
And heat than we thought possible,
Each of us knowing
It would outlive us all.

God´s Forward March


Perhaps it had no effect on us after all,
Their placid eyes & slow responses, were surely signs
Of an inferior species, for example.
On the day a nearby nested finch landed atop the Bible in my tent,
I knew it was true that we had been sent for a reason.
I remember our Padre and his blessing:
It was their superstition more than anything
Else, that had to be turned around, he said.
No belief should constrain God´s forward march, we were told,
Likening us to pilgrims on a holy journey.

Our bearing was solid enough, our flags held high,
Our armor glistening in the moonlight
As we rode over dense hills with the ocean at one side,
And those demonically magnificent cities on the other.
They would never believe us, so we tempered down the tale:
Still, gold adorned walls, the streets were clean,
Water flowed from terraced hills,
& there were more people than the grandest of cities home.
Our hearts quickened when we reflected
At our fortune.

My men were strong and hardy,
The swords sharp, the passions, awakened
By the indecent nakedness they neither hid nor felt shame of.
We were presented with everything – and we took that, and more, each day.
At one point a message was delivered: we understood nothing
Of the Devil´s illegible abominations so we crumpled the paper,
Burned all the books their priests held (and later hid)
& consigned to the purifying fires
The messengers, too.
Glory was ours (and God´s we cried)!

In the end their King,
Festooned with what seemed a million feathers from
Brightly colored birds & gold plates around his chest & lap,
Finer than anything we had ever beheld
His bearing regal & heroic,
Was the last one to appear & we took him, too,
Convincing them by sword that it was best we spoke alone.
After he was garrotted I pointed out his shit
To his pathetically inconsolable followers (they all shit when choked),
Saying now their ways were like his mess,
To be discarded, exchanged for civilization.

They had hoarded their wealth for too long.

It took many days, but,
Comforted by the rough embraces of
Dozens of girls my men had been yearning for
(&, giving not a few to our priests)
Eventually their red blood covered the plaza walls and watered the flowers
As we chipped all the gold so wastefully adorning the walls,
To gift to our great and holy sovereign King, Vicar of Christ
& now Lord over these heathen regions.

It was a belief among the men that our fires that lit up the nights,
Would be taken to the heavens and sent back
To their cities, where our
Noble and gentle women were at present cooking the meats
& the smells would linger until we arrived.
(Of course, the ungodly cries of the children we killed
& the remains of their debauched godlessness would reach home
Too, they feared, in the forms of disease and madness)
Primed with Holy hope we continued though,
Covering a continent, aiming high
With ambition, letting God speak through our swords.




The windows were cracked open all night,
The dark wind
Changed the pressure in the room,
And the door tapping itself
Open and closed,
Over and over, every few seconds,
Were the only sounds I could bear.
I stayed alone in my room,
Lying sleeplessly on the bed,
Solo (it means “alone” in Latin)
In so many ways.

The grayness of the next afternoon was quiet,
The town´s doors shut tight,
No one wanted to relive the nightmares of the days before.
Until the next time.

Her beating heart had crashed from the
The crucifixion by torment,
The rule of many nights here.
Her son still hung there hours after they´d all left,
No one to help take his broken body down,
No one to help at all.
She died, too, soon after.
But there would be many more before the year passed.

The trees bore their fruit lightly that summer,
Swaying at sunset,
Human wind chimes of the American South.
By happenstance some looked out the windows,
Children who´d stayed home by force of will
Or who were too young to join.
I couldn´t bear any of it, so I pretended to be sick,
Though sick I was.

The town´s leaders banned the too young
Encouraging the rest to witness,
Since they believed justice should be seen publicly
Instead of simply advocated privately.
And justice had a White name out here.

We never said much – a few helped with the cuttings, though,
Some stole shoes, a few took fingers
Or other parts to proudly tame
The maids who visited and cleaned up,
Serving tea after Church on Sundays.

It was always “recommended” that the adults watch.
Few needed the invitation, though.
Popcorn and candy was often sold and distributed.
Laughter drowned out the screams sometimes.
The screams drowning out the pity.
The more they squealed, the more delight
Broke through those toothless grins.
The candy store owner made a mint those days.
The saloons were hoppin´ at night.

When they´d all get home
I dutifully came down and pretended to listen,
But I heard nevertheless
Seeing monsters in my living room all night.
When the table was set tidy,
Grace was always said.



He judged them too harshly, I thought,
Calling us all “monophobic twits”,
Something about a manic fear of being alone.
Yet, at the same time, he felt free to opt in to our parties,
Laughing like a madman, joking about
Erections, orgasms, and awakening, likening them to the
Same thing. We´d usually laugh and slide away,
A few stayed close, egging him on, though,
Feeling something else in his madness.
And he was always free to opt out as well;
Suffering the idiot games we played
With alcohol or sex,
Muttering after too many beers that we “just didn´t get it”,
Then walking away, back to that little hovel he called
His retreat cave.

We were students, after all, celebrating the end of
Developmental celibacy,
So we didn’t care too much either way.
I volunteered to walk him home one night,
And in the dark he slipped and slurped his way
On the path, pointing out constellations and calling up
Memories of some ex-wife, tons of lovers,
And a generally naked teacher
Who flew, he claimed.

I laughed at him, just like the rest,
But once inside, when he showed me his eyes,
I saw such clarity, such sobriety, I shook involuntarily
For so long, he placed me on his bed, muttering some
Nonsense from the old country.

Leaving to pee, I thought, I saw a manuscript on his bed and,
Starting to read, I fell into such a state,
When I looked up it was morning, the sun cracking its way
Through the open door way where I caught a glimpse
Of him just sitting there, on the ground with his hands on his knees
Looking at the horizon where the light erupted
And smiling like the idiot we all thought he was.

At least, until I had read that book.

I didn´t remember a word as I said goodbye and
Began the walk home.
Not a word.
But between the pages
Was confirmation of something big,
Though now, so many years later, I can´t touch it.

I believe in flying teachers, though.

The Road Around Troy: The Tally of the Truly Punished


Consider Hector,
How noble, powerful,
Secure in honor, beloved in the hearts of men,
Both Greek and Turk,
But who still dies before the end,
His body a lifeless rag to wipe
The road around Troy.

In the abstract, it is easily understood:
Attitudes do not change
About war;
To this day insouciance pervades
As the new calls for punishing
The aggressor
Ignore the tally of the truly punished.

The privilege of those who will
Clean the roads with the blood of others
Is such that they will claim it forever,
Down through ages, this remains sacrosanct.
Their delight secure, they will
Create conditions,
A woman´s beauty, a nerve gas release, some weapon
Which does not exist, yet may still
Be the cause of “mass destruction”,
Necessary to “bring us all together on this”.

Being upset at the little bodies that
Usually litter the sides of roads,
So many within the arms of their mothers,
Should be cause for reflection now,
Many thousands of years later.
It is a tentative gamble, though,
If it wasn´t enough to stop them