The Sad Bard

This bard tries to write but the words no longer come,
Like some long-lost friend always round the next bend,
And he sends urgent messages beckoning them home
So he can pen his tome, but the fickle words elude him
To the pain of his heart since he cannot gain their love,
Though again n’ again the woeful bard cries and tries;
But there’s some poetry even in this most sad situation
Of ill-sought satisfaction: at least this bard can write
About the aesthetic evacuation of his very own soul . . .


How Does the Poet Explain?

How does the poet adequately explain his poetry
Without much pain, at the risk of sounding insane?
If the poet could explain her melodic words
Flowing serenely in rhyme and fine rhythm,
Then she may as well have written in prose
Rather than posing as a poet, you know it?
Poetry is an esoteric world of its own
Where the seeds of thought are sown
To be shown in an exquisite garden
Of variegation of creative creation,
Not in straight farm-like rows to plow,
So how, O how, does the poet now explain . . .
Poetry is potently mysterious
While making mystical sense
To the avid, passionate lover of metrical verse,
And it’s nothing to rehearse,
But to engage and fascinate!
It is to attract and grip and rivet the very heart,
But play no part in essays and academic articles!
Indeed, how does the poet amply explain his poetry
Without much pain, at the risk of sounding insane?
No! Vain is the task of trying and without any gain!

Note: First published in early November 2016, now republished due to some renewed interest as well as for the enjoyment (and edification?) of new reader-followers.

High Calling of the Artisan (Revised)

As muses conspire to inspire poets and artisans,
Wraiths gather around the gateway of the soul
To emasculate all creativity, to frustrate the pen
Or brush, opening up the floodgate of confusion
To fixate some poor soul on some senseless sight
Or sound ‘n none that’s worth a pound of manure
And all to secure his attention on anything at all
But the intention to create; and thus making him
Into a kind of artistic reprobate who then hates
What he’s not done because he’s taken the bait
Of unseen creatures who only satiate themselves
By stilling the mind and killing all true creativity;
But the good muses pay the price and still play
On numinous harps to sharpen the wit of artistry,
Praying he will dive into the sea of his own soul
And be what he was meant to be by taking hold
Of pen or brush to begin to bring into our reality
What was not before — lyrical poem to be read,
Song to be sung, picture to be admired and more
To heal the hearts of sore humanity in its insanity;
To bring peace to the fires of funeral pyres and
To send love from above around the round world;
To be an artisan fulfilling his most high calling!

Note: First published in September 2016, now slightly revised and republished for the enjoyment (and perhaps edification) of new reader-followers. Blessings to one and all!

In Response to ‘Friendly’ Advice

So you ask me what I’m doing, skewing my position
While screwing me over with all your lofty demands,
Wanting me to put money first like a bee with honey,
To ‘get back on my feet’ along the well-beaten path
Trod by Western materialists just like you yourself,
But did it ever occur to you that I’ve
Rejected the imperialist way of life?
What am I doing while gluing my life back together?
Perhaps I’m answering a higher calling
Rather than bawling behind some desk!
Maybe, just maybe, I’ve chosen to take an upper path;
And does it pay more? You do the math and tell me!
Ah, money only reaches so far; there’s a bar in the sky;
And I am willing to say ‘goodbye’ to all of that muck,
And to buck the trend while I bend my neck and knees
Only to the One who has brought me this far already;
You see, crawling or brawling are no longer necessary;
I am a poet with a penchant for love, joy and serenity,
And I do not toy with the lives of others for sickly gain;
That would drive me insane and cause a deal of pain,
But there is One who trains for a strange sort of feat
Completely off of the beaten path of this old world,
And sweetens it with an unusual success all its own;
So thank you for brashly telling me to set some goals,
But goals have already been set, and I didn’t ask you
To bother about my life anyway, so why now the knife?
If you want to be a friend, then be a friend to the end,
But don’t screw with me and tell me to be like you!
I am me, who God created me to be, and I shall be me!

No More to Outpour

Oh! the wretched artist who has no more to pour out,
With the spout of his heart clogged and his mind bogged
And conscience dogged by guilt with silt building up
In his forlorn soul with gaping hole that can’t be filled!
What is he to do with the shrew complaining in his brain
That he should draw in awe, painfully paint till he faints,
Play piano till the break of day, and all without dismay?
Oh! but he’s spent and bent under a load of uncreativity,
And there’s no more to give to live his living part in art,
So he sits with bits and pieces flying around in his head,
Bouncing off the walls and bed, but with nothing said . . .
Nothing to be said in his sad condition void of ambition;
So in contrition he lowers his eyes in floorward position
In silent admission of being a musician without a song,
An indolent poet now when once he’d been quite potent,
Nothing to be sculpted or carved, so starved is his spirit;
Oh! the wretched artist who has no more to pour out!
Ah! but perhaps there is something to pour in to begin
To live once again! After all, even artists need to feed!

The Poet: Crawling and Scrawling

Why does he wake up each morning mourning,
With this pounding in his head as he lays in bed?
Does he know what they’ve said?
What they’re even now saying?
What the jack-asses are braying?
Maybe, but he just reaches for the bottle of pills
To throttle the raging in his mind and to blind
Himself to any reason in treason to sensibility;
Then he crawls from up under the dark covers
To scrawl on the four walls again
To begin another obnoxious poem!
And he acts like a turd ‘n eats like a damn bird
While spewing forth absurd lines that rhyme
But make no sense, yet he makes no pretense
Of intellectuality, his brain obviously a casualty
Of some inner war fought and lost, leaving him
Under the frost of insanity and fictitious vanity;
Ah! There he goes driving his words like a herd
Of cattle to be caged by pompous pen on paper!
Oh yes, he is the poet, after all,
But whence will come his fall
When his words will stand tall?
For now he is the crawling and scrawling poet,
Crawling and scrawling . . .

What’s the Point?

pen_in_hand.274131436_std[1]Does the speaker speak for no one to listen?
Does the writer write for no one to read?
Does the teacher teach for no one to learn?
The judge pass sentence for no one to heed?

And does the world turn only to burn?

Does the actress act for no one to watch?
Does the jester jest for no one to laugh?
Does the fisherman fish for nothing to catch?
The advocate plead on no one’s behalf?

And does the sun give light only to blight?

Does the infant let cry for no one to care?
Does the poor man beg for no one to give?
Does the sick ask a greater burden to bear?
Or the healthy one hope no longer to live?

And does the night despise the moon to rise?

Is it the dull man who is curious?
Or the happy man who’s furious?
A life of purpose tempest-tossed?
The purpose of life forever lost?

And does God hear the sigh, the baneful cry?

Do tears mingle with the rain of serenity?
Does this story close at the end of a pen?
Do wise words fall from the lips of insanity?
Does farewell mean we never meet again?

Then what is the point… indeed, what???

(Repost of an older poem inspired by ‘commitment Versus addiction‘ by catchthemoonmary.)


Beauty, Fen and Frosty Parlor Ponderings

“Wicoffeeicecreamth that introduction, then, I’ll just jump right in,” Moxie said with an impish grin.

“By all means,” Blue Poorman responded, making a faux bow and wave of the hand. “The floor is all yours, Ms. Keener.”

“Why thank you, Mr. Chairman,” Moxie replied with raised eyebrows, still smiling her same rascally smile. “I’ll waste no time, then, in first complimenting you on your work, Mr. Poorman, and, of course, thanking you for allowing me the privilege of reading the manuscript; I’m more than halfway through already and enjoying it thoroughly.”

“Well, thank you very much,” Blue answered sincerely … and sincerely a bit surprised. (For all of his gifts, talents and truly likeable personality, he was quite insecure and overly critical of himself. Consequently, it almost always startled him when someone complimented him.)

“I knew you’d like it,” Able looked at Moxie with an irrepressible sparkle in his eyes. “Right up your alley.”

“True enough, my love; true enough. But as far as this particular alley is concerned, you practically own it, Able Dilettante! I certainly appreciate the arts, but I’m by no means an aesthetic, at least in the more technical sense of the word.”

“You are, however, very intuitive and discerning, and make an excellent critic, so by all means continue … especially since Chairman Blue has given you the floor.” They all chuckled.

“Well, first of all, I would say that, from The Chords of Cilicia, you have personified Beauty – that is, ‘beauty’ with a capital ‘B’ – and that, consequently Beauty is active. If you had not personified, or perhaps even deified, Beauty, then I would have ventured to say you were making an almost Platonic argument in which Beauty is one of the universal Forms that emanates, or shows forth, itself in an amazing variety of ways. Of course, as I said, you do personify Beauty so that Beauty is actually not only active – and we could question whether Plato’s Forms were active, per se – but Beauty is also actually alive.”

“Touché!” Blue sat his empty cup on the table. “Although I don’t know that I quite deify Beauty but, perhaps, that’s another discussion for another time.”

“Still,” Moxie continued, “from what I’ve read so far, and from what Able has shared with me from his own personal experience, I take it Beauty is an active, personal … force, shall we say, that acts upon the human, so that Beauty is the subject, if I may apply a grammatical construction here, and the individual is the direct object, that is, the one acted upon. Am I right?”

“Here, here,” Able agreed. “That which innately resides in the Soul of Humanity in turn acts upon the human, or humans, both individually and collectively. In this case, we are talking about Beauty … or so the great guru, Blue Poorman, effectively argues in The Chords of Cilicia.”

“For now, I’ll pass by the idea of the ‘Soul of Humanity,’” Moxie didn’t give Blue time to respond. “The whole idea seems to at least lean in the direction of Carl Jung’s ‘collective unconscious,’ but… If we are right that Beauty is an active, personal force acting upon individuals – and, yes, groups – as direct objects of the action, I strongly suspect something else fundamentally important is involved here.”

“And what would that be?” Blue queried.

“Well, this element, if ‘element’ is the right word to use, is actually threaded throughout your work, at least so far as I’ve read, and it is quite simply the element of choice.”

“You mean choosing whether or not to appreciate Beauty, or so many of the faces of Beauty,” Able offered.

“Not quite … or, well, I suppose, but this leads me to one critique I was going to offer anyway, and that is that the concept of appreciation needs to be more … hmmm, tightly defined, I think. I know the two of you know very specifically what you mean by ‘appreciation,’ but I think the average reader would just naturally have an indistinct, general idea in mind because ‘appreciation’ is just one of those words that, you might say, covers a lot of territory but only thinly. Does that make sense?”

“Actually, yes it does,” Blue agreed, “and your critique is gratefully received. Obviously, by ‘appreciation’ I have something deeper and more concrete in mind.”

“O.k., so Beauty acts upon an individual, and that individual apprehends whatever face or expression of Beauty, and then that individual reacts … that is, she or he makes some choice. Ultimately, in the whole of life, she or he must finally at some point make the choice.”

The choice?” Able asked.

“Yeah,” Moxie looked over at him, “the choice of whether or not to go on and live Beauty or, perhaps better put, to allow Beauty to live in and through her. In which case, the reprehensible, malevolent Rev. Fen Sloughheart, surrounded by myriad faces of Beauty all of his life really, somewhere along the line chose, consciously or not, to bar the door, so to speak, of his heart and soul to Beauty; consequently, he chose, and again consciously or not, ugliness.”

“Wow! I never quite thought of it that way but, my oh-so sensual philosopher, you’ve hit on something very important, indeed,” Able responded, nodding his head. “Or as you said, another fundamental element, and I take it that would have something to do with morality, or ethics; the choice is an ethical one. Beauty as an active, personal and, I would certainly say, powerful force only pushes, or leads, the individual to that point … the point of making the choice.”

“Speaking of choices and ugliness, I think the three of you have crossed the line in choosing to publicly malign Rev. Sloughheart; not a very beautiful action, to say the least,” an unknown figured delivered his indictment from the table behind Moxie.

Moxie swung around in the blink of an eye, on the ready with her fully loaded quiver, and gave the man a razor-sharp, drop-dead look. “Hey! I don’t know who the hell you are, but if you wanna jump in the ring and go a few rounds over the character of Sloughheart and whether or not we should be making what you consider unwarranted, public comments about the miscreant, then I’m ready to go! Just ring the bell, man!”

Blue, Able Talk Beauty at the Frosty Parlor

“… Why the creative works of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, of Tolstoy and Andrei Rublev, of Mozart and Beethoven?  Why the Colossus, the Pyramids, Herodotus and Tacitus and the Mona Lisa? Why Gregorian chants, symphonies and sonatas, jazz and the blues and Baroque?  Why the magnificent Taj Mahal, the Hagia Sophia, the Sistine Chapel and the famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon?

“Why, in other words, has humanity seemingly desired to tell interesting, captivating stories? To draw and to paint pictures that have no pragmatic value, no strictly practical benefit to the community? Why has humanity, at least from the beginnings of recorded history, always made music and engaged in singing? And yet all of this is part and parcel of the “humanness” of humanity or, as I say, the Soul of Humanity.” Blue Poorman was in his element and enjoying every bit of it; so was Able Dilettante, who was seated on the other side of the table at the Frosty Parlor.

Teens, college students, families with small children, and a few older couples packed the place out on this bright, sun-shiny day. It seemed an unlikely location to discuss philosophy, theology, anthropology, and aesthetics, but Blue and Able didn’t mind. Besides, the Frosty Parlor was honestly the best place in town to go for a fresh, hot cup of cappuccino, for which both were in the mood.

“I know it may sound strange,” Able offered after a sip from his cup, “but when I’m really intense into my drawing or sketching or painting – you know, not just playing around – it almost feels like somehow I rise above where I am, and maybe even when I am; time and location just seem to fade. In what I guess some people would call a mystical-spiritual sense, I ‘go out’ beyond myself.” Able took another sip and hesitatingly added, “Interestingly enough, I guess, this is when I feel closest to God.”

“That makes perfect sense!” Blue responded excitedly, thinking, too, how Able was “going out” beyond his old self in so many other ways. He was delighted this intelligent, talented young man would be creating all the illustrations for his book, The Chords of Cilicia: Aesthetics and the Soul of Humanity; it would mean spending a good deal of quality time together. “In fact, it strikes at the heart of one of the major points of what I’ve written … or maybe more; maybe it actually strikes at the very heart of the whole work, really.

“Beauty creates in us an almost nostalgic longing for something more, higher and better,” Blue continued. “Almost like a road sign, Beauty points us to something, or someone, beyond this natural world; in fact, to that which this natural world cannot provide with complete satisfaction. No wonder, then, that countless numbers of people down through the ages and in our own day and time have been moved, even inspired, by the many faces of Beauty.

“Whether the majestic mountains, lush and serene valleys, peaceful lake; whether by sun, moon and stars, or the smiling face of the newborn infant; whether by great works of art and architecture, riveting novel or heartrending poetry; people the world over, in all times and in all places have been passionately stirred into spontaneous doxology, to lift their hands and laugh and dance … yes, even to praise and worship.”

Blue paused for a moment, considering, then added, “Consequently, when you encounter someone who has no … well, seemingly no innate or natural sense and appreciation of Beauty … someone devoid of all aesthetical sensibility, it’s … striking, even disturbing.” Blue raised his cappuccino for a couple of gulps. “But, again, thousands upon thousands – no, even millions – of people in every age, in every culture, in every part of the world have in some sense or other stood or, perhaps more appropriately, bowed in reverent awe of the divine, or supernatural. In this delicately balanced, finely tuned world of ours, filled with such variety of creative beauty, generations upon generations have testified to having experienced the Eternal, the Divine, or at least something very much spiritual.”

“So we can say,” Able cautiously ventured, “that Beauty is really in the heart of the beholder; the eye only apprehends what the heart already intuitively recognizes and genuinely appreciates as an expression or reflection of Beauty itself.”

Blue was stunned, to say the least; he nearly tossed the remainder of his drink on the older couple at the next table. As it was, he had only a slight spill to wipe up. “Yes … yes, exactly! Beauty, as Beauty, intrinsically resides in the Soul of Humanity. This explains both the human urge toward beautiful creativity, as well as, generally speaking, the human being’s innate appreciation of Beauty in its myriad expressions.”

Able turned his almost empty cup two or three times on the table, looking out the window rather meditatively. “‘The heavens herald your glory, O God, and the skies display your handiwork. Day after day they tell their story, and night after night they reveal the depth of their understanding,’” Able intoned. “‘Without speech, without words, without even an audible voice, their cry echoes through the entire world, and their message reaches the ends of the earth.’”

Able then looked back at Blue. “But like you said there are those who seem to be totally void of any intuitive sense and appreciation of Beauty. And I agree with you; they are disturbing, to say the least.” Able chuckled then and finished off his cappuccino. “Of course, I’ve only barely known one such person, and that through years of only distant association in the church – well, my old church – but it strikes me that in all that time this man never evinced any understanding, much less appreciation, of art or literature, sculpture or architecture, poetry or what-have-you. Not in his sermons or Bible studies or church newsletter articles; not in the way he talked to people, or what he talked about in any conversation I ever knew anything about… Now that I think about it, he really was – or, I should say, is – a rather frightening man; like a soulless man; an altogether ugly man.”

“Ugly, indeed,” Blue agreed. “And, of course, you’re talking about the infamous Rev. Fen Sloughheart.” At the mention of the name, several heads suddenly turned, much to both Blue and Able’s notice. Evidently, quite a few people were paying at least passing attention to their conversation.

“Well! Imagine the two of you chopping philosophy at the Frosty Parlor!” Moxie Keener suddenly appeared by their table. “This can’t exactly be a confidential meeting.” Blue and Able both knew that all-too-well now! “Mind if I join in? Or would that be too intrusive and disruptive?” Able could only think, Oh God! Thank you! If anyone here’s inclined to start any kind of wrangle over Sloughheart, then I sure as hell want Moxie here!

“Moxie Keener,” Blue laughed comfortably, despite the slight discomfort he was now feeling, “you would never be intruding in our conversation – whenever, whatever the subject – but disruptive?” He and Able both laughed. “I couldn’t expect any less from you, could I? In fact, I dare say I’d be disappointed if you didn’t add some disruption.”

“Ha! O.k. I’ll accept that … umm, backhanded compliment and join you guys… And I’ll be sure not to disappoint!” Moxie laughed as she took a seat with her stemming cup of hot coffee.