The Rhetorician

It’s easy to figure out what to say when the pay is right;
You just gotta be careful not to stray
From the lines of your set stage play;
So offer stubble and hay to satisfy the crowd that brays,
And be sure not to step on any feet as your sheep bleat
Because you know you can’t take the heat
From those who fill the seats
And cheat any real conviction,
So mind your restrictions without friction,
Causing no affliction to the conscience by your diction;
Stay within the lines and you’ll still get paid
For your rhetorical trade ‘n then laid to rest
In the best of suits that suits your kind best;
In the meantime, enjoy your little nest of self-security,
After all, you shouldn’t worry about offending anyone:
You say absolutely nothing to cause offense
And show not even pretense of real belief
To the relief of your self-satisfied audience;
So you heap words upon words in keep of boundaries
That were laid by those who paid you to come for hire,
So there’s no fire in your heart, no part of you aflame,
No finger pointing in blame for poverty and atrocities
Committed in the trenches of life, which is not a game!
So rave on, jack ass, rave on!
You are the Rhetorician!

Forgiveness: I Am But One Man

Did I not show you any attention?
I’m sorry; I didn’t know!
Did I seem to ignore you in the crowd?
But it was so busy and loud . . .
Please excuse me for being human –
I am, after all, only one man –
Did I seem to turn my eyes away?
But there’s something else to say:
So many people walking, talking,
Dancing and laughing and, really
It’s not my way to be so swayed
That I snub friend and kin in spirit!
Please believe me and relieve me
Of this unbearable burden . . .
I never meant to hurt;
In fact, I’d give you my very shirt
If you needed it and even more
Without considering it a chore,
And this is honestly true;
Yes, I knew you were there, but . . .
Oh, time! And people and chime
Of the clock, and I seemed blocked
From drawing near you, my dear!
I will show you attention
Now that I know and say,
‘Away with the crowd so loud!’
Only forgive me for being human –
I am, after all, only one man –
And the demands of life command
So much of my very self, but . . .
Here I am now and bow to you;
Forgive me for grieving you so!
Forgive me for leaving you alone!
I am, after all, only one man . . .

Wisdom: Lachrymose at the Kiosk of Life

How can you help but be lachrymose at the kiosk of life?
You peer into the lacunae of the souls of those who buy
Without even knowing why and you try to explain in vain,
But every person bears some irremovable stain of heart
That you yourself cannot even begin to clean
Because to that one the spot remains unseen!
And who’s to blame for such shame when what you offer
You offer for free to any person who might see the value
Of your gift to lift them out of folly and absolute despair?
Yes, your gift would repair their sickly minds and souls;
Instead, you’re left weeping, keeping your gift in hand –
Lachrymose at the kiosk of life . . . you cry as you try . . .

Just Most of Us

They work in rice paddies and fields of corn,
Torn by thickets and briars, born to work;
They raise their families and face calamities
Without any formalities or plush royalties;
They write, fight for survival, nothing trite,
And give thanks for food and scant shelter
Amid the helter-skelter of life in this world;
Most are fair, generous, and pray prayers
While living from day to day,
And in no extraordinary way;
Most folk do not spend their time in pubs
And party hubs, drinking to intoxication
For some false elation and sex-sensation;
Most peoples in this harsh world are hurled
Into the fray of life by night,
Looking for the shining light
By which to fight their blight;
They’ve no time to stay ‘n play lurid games;
Their life demands they tame their beasts,
So bars and fancy cars are of least interest;
Tis the simplest joys ‘n beauty that attract,
Not the hubbub of expensive nightclubs —
Shadowy places devoid of any graces,
Dark dens filled with deviant grins —
Most men and women are not meanly vile,
Living in reduction to drunken seduction;
Most hearts strive for the better part of life,
Even life so very rife with pain ‘n suffering,
Buffering ills with the will to live and work,
And, yes, above all to love family ‘n friends;
Ah! Yes, these constitute the most of us,
Most of us on earth for what we are worth,
And in nothing to boast . . . just most of us
Just most of us

Crossing the Threshold of Reason

Crossing the threshold of human reason —
Unadulterated treason against rationality —
My eyes spy an unsullied season of serenity,
An intensity of clemency and compassion,
An attraction of devotion without retraction,
Affirmative action of peace as an alternative
To the hell-spawned bait of hate, purgative
Of animosity and paucity, atrocity, ferocity
And monstrous pomposity; where generosity
Reigns and gain is not defined in undignified
Victory over enemies that should be friends;
To understand one another will command
Each heart and will be part of discovering
An art of healing without any exacerbation
Of pain that stains the human soul . . .
As I dare cross the threshold of human reason
In this season of the cream of new dreams . . .

Dryers: Not So Normal Folk

Yes, there are good folk who can’t get on their feet,
Or who march to a unique beat with nothing sweet
To offer to placate and satiate the voracious appetite
Of the normal world into which they’ve been hurled,
While ordinary people live their very ordinary lives
In the ordinary way from dreary day to dreary day
All to stay satisfied without change and no dismay,
But some people live risqué on the speedway of life
While others are more passé like an old screenplay,
And still others are more Wednesday than Friday,
But all in all they don’t quite fit in with the in-crowd,
Whether they are loud or quiet, shut-in or shut-up;
Though how do you judge what is normal, anyway?
Are there formal rules? Does anyone have a clue?
Or is “normal” just the setting on the clothes dryer?

From the Vaults of the Past, Live Today

Flowered wreaths are laid on graves and flags are waved,
Precious photos are saved and placed in handsome albums,
As should be for you and me and all who are near and dear;
Old movies are played, prayers prayed, as memories fade,
And old books are read while nostalgic looks are shared
From the bed of the past to make something glorious last
For as long as possible… Ah! But is it not quite impossible
To resurrect what has gone, and do we not really suspect
That it is the present with which we dissent and the future
We rather resent as we recall only the pleasant of the past,
Of days gone by, focusing on the highs, ignoring the lows
Else they blow away our feelings in kneeling at the altar
Of history and the stories we have conjured in our minds
That bind our hearts to an idealism that ne’er existed?
Oh yes, to honor the dead is a golden banner of humanity,
As this helps us keep our sanity and guard against vanity;
But there is the danger that in fear and anger we simply
Desire to live and expire in the past rather than live
And fight now for what will last!
Yes, always remember the past…
No, do not dismember the present

Up To Eternal Fire

Ah! Does the taste of hope waste away
When the bell tolls in this earthen hell?
Will love keep what was given in sleep,
Or that which seems real only in dreams?
You bade reality fade

And how high will you fly till you sigh
In utter frustration in stark recognition
Of your own condition, and then low bow
To how your highest self is not high…
So you say ‘good bye’

Ah! Only in you are too few the moments
Of sweet satisfaction in total relaxation
Of all your preconditions for exaltation;
You should’ve known you’re not enough…
On your very own

Yeah, you need another — brother, sister
And father, mother — to hold you up now
And make you bold, to no longer quake
In sheer fear with free-flowing tears…
Heart torn apart

What will make you, what will break you?
A three-stranded cord’s much stronger
And lasts longer than one and one alone;
Yeah, you’ve been thrown but you’ve grown;
Now you’ve been shown…

Yeah, you can reach higher than yourself,
Higher than the sky … higher and higher,
Up to eternal fire

Note: Inspired by “Lover’s Affliction” by Nandita of Manan Chained and Josslyn of A Life in Transition.

As the Cold Wind Blows. . .

As the cold wind blows and far flies the snow
For winter’s grand freezing show, do we know
How the blood slows for so many in low places,
Without blankets, socks, coats or moccasins
As they sleep on blocks of ice? Isn’t it nice
To have warm home, safe from storm of chill,
With the thrill of toasting our toes by the
Crackling fire; many are ready for funeral pyre.
Do you know the show’s not so grand for band
Of wandering poor, who see only death in store?
Perhaps, then, we could spare some few layers
To save lives, rather than being thick knaves?

After all, what is in store for those who ignore the poor?
Surely there’s a place to show your face and donate, too?

Maftet and Lessons of Petty Divisions

summerly-noon-temple“People dear worshipped here, once upon a time; drinking the fine wine of fellowship,” Maftet spoke softly in the haunted old courtyard of once-vaunted temple. “Women, men and children; fathers, mothers, and sisters, brothers all; simple poor and those who stood tall in unity of community.” She ran fingers over one lingering wall, browned dark and dank, yet not cast down, but no longer part of crown achievement of city dead, now raising pity rather than praise.

“What happened here to make this place so drear,” I wondered allowed as an hundred questions flew thru my mind in like kind as I drew near my patroness-protector.

“The young and new wanted to cast out the old, but so soon as they’d begun the old grew bold; and the last song sung here was broken by tears,” Maftet answered. “The malefactors continued the fight against the old dogs’ bite, but most grew weary and it was then this magnificent place grew dreary. . . Death hung heavy in the air ~ the levy of schism ~ and evil laid bare the ill-intentions of darkened hearts. . . Unity fled and the community bled; then was no more.”

“Then do these stones not face the world now as a monument of disgrace?”

Maftet turned; fire burned in her eyes. “More than monument of disgrace, but an edifice of learning for any but fools; here are tools for teaching how reaching too far, too deeply, too soon can bring destruction at the noontime of any community.” She began to walk as she continued to talk. “Thy young say to the old, ‘Get out of the way,’ and the elders strive to hold them at bay, but then all devolves into dismay!”

“Tell me, please, who was right in your sight?”

“Ah!” She slipped her hand round my waist band. “Both were right, and both were wrong; both lacked sight, and both were weak, not strong. Enmity grew and lead to calamity that will ne’er be forgot in all eternity. . . And all over such trifling matters; all the clatter of fools with their endless prattle. Then came the clatter of sword and shield, for neither side would yield, and in yonder plain half were slain.”

And so it was that we were standing, hand in hand, not only in ancient ruins . . . but in the graveyard of what once was community ~ the hard reality pressing in on me that many such cemeteries exist as the living still persist in trifles and petty disputes. I was mute.