Monday, May 31, 2021

Poem: Stone Tell


Stone Tell


orion looked at me,

size of a pinprick,

from a quiet stone i had scolded with weeping,

cheekbone wet on mica flecks.


it was orion, all right,

chasing the pleiades

over millions of metamorphic years,

much as in astronomic night--


and yet flashy like adonis,

and not to ravish, not at all,

merely to scamper,

happy as sun-glossed quartz.


he danced with the sisters,

leapfrogging to twinkle

as i turned my wrist,

such lambent angles,


what a treasure!

to walk the beach

and find this constellation,

absolved by waves, this wisdom,


however violent or jealous,

however monstrous,

now peaceful and beautiful,

nothing more, disaffiliated,

only glitter and truth.


Friday, May 28, 2021

If the Big Lie Wins, We All Lose


If the Big Lie Wins, We All Lose

The presidential election was not stolen from Donald Trump.  Over fifty court cases have shown this, all the way up to the Supreme Court, including many judges nominated by Trump himself.  Numerous state-run recounts have verified it.  GOP Secretaries of State as well.  There is no evidence to support the claim at all. Still, the Big Lie remains, a battering ram to knock down the defenses of our collective rationality.  It has become the fault line along which our democracy will either persevere or fall.

This is a grave assertion, and yet it results from a simple thought experiment:  What if the GOP, promulgating the Big Lie, wins?

 In that case, a party that willfully trampled a court-backed truth will be in control.  They will have the support of a segment of the population that is outraged at a nonexistent deep state that did something that didn’t actually happen. 

Moreover, given the nature of the Big Lie, our electoral system will have been successfully impugned as fraudulent.  Without a secure means to vote, the will of the people cannot be ascertained.

At the helm will be the cultish Trump, a demagogue who incubated the Big Lie many months before the 2020 elections.  Sitting on an established throne of conspiracy theory, he need merely extend the Lie, or make up another, to curtail future challengers.

Trump refused to agree to a peaceful transition of power, both before and after he lost the election, saying only, “We’ll see what happens.”  Indeed, on January 6, after he gave an inflammatory speech, his fanatic followers stormed the Capitol in an attempted insurrection.  Nothing like it has happened since 1814, and then it was foreign invaders.

Trump’s rapacious need for praise is more important to him than the survival of the republic.  His niece, Mary Trump, published a book titled “Too Much and Never Enough” in which she calls him “the most dangerous man in the world.”  Experts in psychology nationwide published an anthology, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.” It diagnoses him as the most ruthless sort of narcissist, and warns of extreme peril if such a person takes over.

What happens if a leader turns a nation into an arena for self-glorification, regardless of damage to its people, traditions, and fortunes?  For starters, the loss of the ability to wisely adapt to change.  For someone who can never be wrong, there can be no error. 

Remember Trump’s absurd, contradictory claims during the pandemic, even as the death toll rose?  Now extend that to any sort of major challenge, whether crisis or opportunity.  Climate, tech, infrastructure, economics, cyberattacks, foreign policy and on and on.  There would be only the subjective, single-person strategy of someone focused on preening his own hungry ego.

When a constituency embraces their leader’s views, no matter how absurd, with the fervor of faith backed by a flimsy, deceitful logic of ‘alternate facts’, there is no need for competency, fairness, or accountability.  Corruption runs rampant, as we’ve already seen during Trump’s time in the White House. 

We have a recent historical example of what happens when god-complex leaders rise to power in the strongest countries.  That example is World War II.  We still ask today, “Why did all that awfulness and atrocity happen?”

Perhaps the answer lies in a perfect storm of dysfunctional swarm dynamics.  When you instill a worshipful mindset of black or white, good or evil, with us or against us, love or hate, then prudence, adaptive thinking and even common sense have no place.



Sunday, May 23, 2021

Poem: Upside




light rays, 

ephemeral shovels, anti-cinders,

quick to plumb startled irises,

not-so-depthless pupils,

no aspect of the darkness flees.

spears of solar cleanse tarry wells

to impel a gaze so high,

above the truculence of roots,

above grey shamble-mumblings,

such daybreak!



an incessant trickle through leaves;

a flutter of springboards;

hovers of the coruscant; serene

and yet hope climbs onward still.

joyous the erratic, radiant ladder.



Friday, May 21, 2021

Poem: Rising




a clear blue eye with a cloudy brain

watches with patient logic

as we consume and build, argue and fight,

our neck veins like pythons,

praising flags on hills

erected next to brutal monuments.


rocks with the calm of philosophers,

sagacious trees, and idylls of sweetsonging birds

can’t believe we strangle love

while failing to extinguish

the fires of our rage.


the fires of our rage.


self-inflicted attacks,

as we condemn those who look like us,

have voices like us,

hearts and souls, like us,

and they cry out to pure gods, good gods,

like us,


and yet we need to destroy them,

to shoot and hate them,

to annihilate them with our bare hands,

and guns.


and guns.


and the grass watches,

and the leaves,

and all that’s left

of what is beautiful on this Earth.


"We preferred to keep silent. We are certainly not without guilt/fault, and I ask myself again and again, what would have happened, if in the year 1933 or 1934—there must have been a possibility—14,000 Protestant pastors and all Protestant communities in Germany had defended the truth until their deaths?"

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Poem: Der Rosenkavalier


Der Rosenkavalier


four hours of geometric hats

wider than absurd:

clowns, dandies, maskers,

cutpurses dressed like prunes,

orbiting Alice Coote in the trouser role

while she kisses Sophie,

kisses the Marschallin,

sapphic pianissimo

cresting to arias on diva pouts.


the boorish Baron

galumphing after skirts,

froward madman,

cannot thwart the spell of the rose.

when it beams from tufted stars,

Sophie and Octavian blessed,

to emblazon their bosoms,

the frisson climbs in rapturous glee.


comical evil, orchestral sobs, 

garish menageries,

the opera reeks of farce,

and yet wilts in whirls

away from the rose.

without its effloresce, 

the plot languishes.

because of it, the audience

sighs on the way home.



Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles, 2005

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Poem: Cookie




a cute name for a snitch

in the business of human lust.

it goes right for Descartes’ bridge,

that most private pineal,

where secrets babble forth,

vulnerable and sweet.


a true coup d’etat for Toll House & co.

the gossip of the mind exposed.

all those palaces of personal pride

wheedled, invaded, taken.


on the lower floors, clerks giggle near admen

while they monitor, label and jar

so many deadly embarrassments

in gargantuan mainframes.


deep within the insatiable guts

of offices sectioned like tapeworms,

the executives map out a nation of evils--

every clue garnered from commonplace keyboards--

to marry the doll of each citizen’s demon

with voodoo pins.



Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Poem: Unsettled




the dust had no color,

just the lost dreams of stones.

in every corner of the room,

where fate thronged thick,

the proof of it lounged,

looking back in utter absence,




a stupid kind of trouble,

one unaware of its desuetude;

a negative optimal, inert,

and yet somehow still it crept.


in fact, everyone was there,

an ogle of eyebrows,

an audience of furrowed fuzz

from heroic to lewd,

so many ancestral verdicts--


a microscopic jackstraw puzzle

of interlocked taboos.


one breath would make them all dance.

violent tarantellas.  furious sashays.

afterwards they settled down,

dismembered, shrunken,

the opposite of dinosaurs.


 but the dust, actually, seemed much older than that.

it carried a primal fetus in its eddies. 

it bragged about how it had stolen

a flagellum  off the very first protozoan.


when lava cooled,

when the young flames sunk,

when fecund helices

swam in pregnable waters,

the dust was there. 

it started to nibble right away,

venturesome and avaricious,

multiplying its heads.