Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Recent Poetry, Late 2014

Morning Commute, 10/7/14

A funny thing happened
As I donned my helmet
And rain gear this morning:
My mind sped back
Thirty millennia to a
Cro-magnon ancestor
Of mine--I’ll call him Og--
Seated in his cave by the fire,
Looking out at the stars.

And I wondered if he had that
Same bump on the back of his
Left hand that I have and that
So many of my uncles had.
Did he notice it whenever
He went to chuck a spear at a mammoth?
As I mounted my bike, I zoomed into
The realm of recorded history
And as I accelerated
Down Route 20,
The dim morning light itself
Seemed to pour from the eyes
Of my subsequent ancestors,
As numerous as the grains of sand
Under the Santa Cruz boardwalk,
And then specifically to those
Who transferred the gene pool
Across to North America,  
Making their various ways to California,
Where, by the time I was born with
That lump on the back of my hand,
We were an old family
By Central Valley standards.
As I rode along the Charles River
Past MIT, the more recent generations
Took possession of my body:
Left side, maternal; right side, paternal.
Each grandmother took a leg,
Which, given their incompatible
Personalities, made the pedaling quite uneven.
My grandfathers leaned
On either side of the handlebars
With the same grip they used to use
On the machinery back at Borden’s Dairy.
As I cycled on to Massachusetts Ave.,
I scanned my brain for traces of the illness
That made my mother’s life hell,
And, finding none at the moment,
My face relaxed into my father’s
Ironic smile. Og’s descendants
Thronged my mind as
I locked the bike to a lamppost.
They accompanied me on the elevator
As I ascended to the office, and
They all looked over my shoulder
As I checked the morning’s emails.
Of that great multitude, only my mother
Was unconfused about what that
Contraption was, and what
I was doing with it.

To Know Me Is to Love Me

I seem so stupid on first meeting
That you may withhold your greeting...
Thinking to avoid, you'll hope,
The dull acquaintance of this dope.

But if you take a chance on me
I’m confident you’ll come to see,
The vast intelligence I hide.
For somewhere in me, deep inside,

A thousand suns of smartness shine,
And with sagacity divine
I manifest a wisdom rare
Among my kind. It’s true, I swear.

Later, when you’ve known me well
You’ll come to wonder what the hell
Convinced you of my intellect:
Your first impression was correct.


In that moment
When I begin
To suspect
That kindness
And honesty
May inhabit
My enemy’s heart--
Even if it’s unverifiable
And even if those
Qualities may not
Amount to much in
Him anyway--
In that moment
The cosmos is healed.
And a billion other
Non-charitable moments
Will never be able
To overcome
The fleeting
Nanosecond of
That blessed hunch.

To the Converted

If you wandered deep in sin,
Were unenlightened, or chagrined...
By lack of self-esteem or love
(One or all of the above),
And then you came to see the light,
With all that’s in your soul made right
By M. Scott Peck or Mahavira,
Jesus or the goddess Hera,
Joseph Smith or Eutyches,
Or any other savior, please:
Let some several years accrue.
Perhaps a decade, maybe two,
Before you say a word about it.
Then feel free to go and shout it.
For when it’s that far in your past
It may be interesting at last.

Exercise #3

Practice mistrusting
Your intentions....
Learn to be
Of kindness,
And such,
Whenever you
Imagine them to
Arise in you.
When you see
The shy and worthy
Beggar on the curb,
Examine your impulse
To give him that dollar.
And observe the
reward you expect:
Thanks for it,
Or karma points,
Or a warm, fuzzy feeling,
Or a smile from God.
Make it a ten, and see how
Things don't change.
Just for fun, try a fifty. .
Sign the deed to your house
Over to him.
And as you sit there,
On the curb yourself,
Finally homeless,
Keep looking.
Laugh, when you see
That you're still
Posing for your icon.
But smile with the knowledge
That your beggar brother
Has a nice place to live.

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