The Little Toil of Love

April 13, 2014

new-zeland-zealand-the-free-spring-meadow

I had no time to Hate—
Because
The Grave would hinder Me—
And Life was not so
Ample I
Could finish—Enmity—

Emily Dickinson

The human mind is capable of generating rational thoughts, but thinking is not a rational process. Our thoughts are the fruit of our emotions. The poet Theodore Roethke points out

We Think by Feeling

Our perceptions are limited and transcendence is an illusion. Wallace Stevens reminds us

Your world is you. I am my world

It’s not my task in life to figure out who the good people are
. There are people that I admire; there are people that I enjoy being around; there are people who annoy me; there are people that I don’t enjoy being around. But people are not what I think about them. And whatever fraction of my life I spend evaluating the overall worth of particular human beings is a waste of my precious time on earth. Life is not a contest, and even if it were, no one appointed me judge.

We see others through the prism of how we wish to perceive ourselves. W.H. Auden explains

A friend is the old, old tale of Narcissus.

It is easier to feel compassion for others when I am feeling good about myself. And forgiving myself for my imperfections makes it easier to accept the imperfections of others.

My cruel and petty and spiteful impulses are the excrescence of my inadequacies. I cannot make these impulses go away. But I can endeavor to check myself whenever I fantasize about seeing bad things happen to other people. It’s a perpetual struggle.

Trumped

April 5, 2014

traction

She was sultry, she was fine
But that vixen wasn’t mine
When her boyfriend busted in
He was angrier than sin
He teaches Tae kwon do
I’m in a cast from head to toe

My hunger
Trumped my fear
That’s why you’ll
Find me here

I tried to drive my car
After hitting sixteen bars
That kindly EMT
Asked me if I saw the tree
It’s a wonder I ain’t dead
But I’m handcuffed to my bed

My hunger
Trumped my fear
That’s why you’ll
Find me here

I can never get enough
I want everybody’s stuff
I know every single trick
I sneak right in and grab it quick
I tried it one too many times
Now I’m in Chino doing time

My hunger
Trumped my fear
That’s why you’ll
Find me here

The Only Thing

April 1, 2014

waiting as
my coffee cooks
my morning
contemplation
hooks
my mind on
tasks that
make a day
folks to see
and bills
to pay…

I do the
things I
gotta do
to build
a life for
me and you
only thing
I’m sure
about
life is who
we care about

Schmooze Button

March 27, 2014

Incredible-Schmooze

I’ll be friendly
I’ll be flirty
I’ll make manager
By thirty

I turn it off
I turn it on
I’m your friend
Until you’re gone

Talk all about
The kids and wife
I’ll say you have
An awesome life

I turn it off
I turn it on
I’m your friend
Until you’re gone

I’m here all night
This round’s on me
With all my fake
Sincerity

I turn it off
I turn it on
I’m your friend
Until you’re gone

You’re not my pal
You ain’t my friend
You’re just the
Means to an end

I turn it off
I turn it on
I’m your friend
Until you’re gone

Spread the Happy

March 25, 2014

It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive

—Bruce Springsteen

I feel happy
For your happy
I’m glad that
You are glad
Don’t make my
Life no better
For others
To be sad

Happy ain’t
No zero sum
So pass it on
To everyone

Life’s too short
To hold your happy
Don’t be scared that
You’ll be sappy
Spread it round
Don’t be a miser
You’ll feel better
You’ll be wiser

Happy ain’t
No zero sum
So pass it on
To everyone

Homey and a Half

March 23, 2014

busstop-7

Author’s note: I’ll never forget the first time I’m heard the word homey. Circa 1986, I was waiting for the northbound bus where College Avenue meets Broadway in the great American city of Oakland, California with a pair of teenagers who were ditching school. They were planning on meeting some friends to hang out at somebody’s house. (Yes, I was eavesdropping.) One of them ran across the street to use a payphone (remember payphones?) just as the bus appeared.

“Yo, homey,” his friend alerted. I immediately loved this new word. I’m seriously into words.

Homey and a Half

Life is scary
Life is bleak
It ain’t no place
For the week
Friends will help
You get along
That’s why
I wrote this song

You’re a homey and a half
And you always make me laugh
You’re a comrade and helper and a chum
You’re a homey and a half
You’re the wheat without the chaff
You’re the one I want beside me in a scrum

Can’t take nothing
To the grave
There’s only
Memories to save
The times we
Share with friends
Mean the most
In the end

You’re a homey and a half
And you always make me laugh
You’re a comrade and helper and a chum
You’re a homey and a half
You’re the wheat without the chaff
You’re the one I want beside me in a scrum

Life Remains a Blessing

March 20, 2014

galaxy

Sentient consciousness is a marvelous gift; I’m really glad I exist.

I would be happy to thank Someone for every glorious breath that life grants me; I just can’t quite figure out whom to thank. God? Which one?

I’m a devout deist because my Creator has endowed me with the type of brain which renders me incapable of experiencing a connection to an anthropomorphized God. I can’t imagine ever giving myself over to the God of the Christians, for example. First of all, a God who wishes to be exalted by the likes of me would be all too human for me to take seriously. Moreover, there are billions of people on Earth who believe in reincarnation while billions of other people believe in heaven. These are two mutually incompatible outcomes of existence. Maybe billions of people are right and billions of people are wrong. Who knows?  Fortunately, it’s not my task in life to figure these things out.

To be clear, I am not one of those New Atheists who hates God for not existing. On the contrary, I encounter many things in Christianity that are good and beautiful. I’m all for fellowship, good works, humility, and forgiveness; furthermore, the Peace Christians are my heroes. (And I really don’t think grownups should have heroes.)

But the universe got along just fine for a long, long time before human beings came onto the scene, so it’s obvious that Existence really isn’t about us.

For some reason or another, human beings have developed the capacity to appreciate the fact that we exist. At any rate, for me, life remains a blessing, as W. H. Auden notes in “As I Walked Out One Evening,” his bleak and lovely meditation on Christianity

This brings me to the Christian concept of grace. Although there is much bickering over the theological specifics of grace within and between Christian denominations, grace is basically the notion that human beings have done nothing to deserve the love and mercy bestowed upon us by God. Instead of arguing about how loving and merciful God actually is, I will simply concede that our existence is unearned. Life is a mysterious take-it-or-leave-it proposition. And griping about how life should be different is a silly waste of our precious time on Earth.

As Robert Pinsky notes in “Family Values,” his bleak and lovely poem about resentment and cupidity,

nobody gets what they/ Deserve more than everybody else.

Does anyone deserve to have an unhappy childhood? Of course not.  But this world is not about fairness.

The universe wasn’t built for us. But it’s a spectacular privilege to be granted the slight and brief glimpse that our limited consciousness affords.

I don’t “hope for higher raptures, when life’s day is done.” The physical world is sufficiently marvelous for me.

I’ll leave the final word on grace to Kris Kristofferson.

Hate is My Rock

March 16, 2014

devil

Hate is compass
Hate is my staff
Anguish and squalor
Just make me laugh

Hate is my heart
Hate is my rose
I build my existence
On what I oppose

Hate is my harvest
Hate is my seed
I live to disfigure
And see people bleed

Hate is my passion
Hate is my hope
I bathe in its glory
It cleanses like soap

Hate is my raiment
Hate is my gear
War is my mother
My father is fear

Hate is my Rock
Hate is my creed
My faith is dynamic
It grows like a weed

All Night Long

March 13, 2014

oscar

Somewhere somebody
Might be sayin’
Somethin’ bad
About me
I get so agitated
When I think about
What those words
Could be

My blood
Starts percolatin’
Cuz I know
Just who they are
Laughin’ sneerin’ hatin’
At my favorite bar

Those pathetic fools
Are probably
Goin’ on
And on
They should worry
‘Bout themselves
Insteada’ yappin’
All night long

My blood
Starts percolatin’
Cuz I know
Just who they are
Laughin’ sneerin’ hatin’
At my favorite bar

The Rest of the Time

March 11, 2014

drunx

The problem is, you cannot rescue someone who is addicted to drugs. You can lecture them, to no point, and plead with them, to no avail, but essentially an outsider is powerless over someone else’s addiction. No doubt about it, drugs do make him feel good. It’s just that they make him feel bad all the rest of the time.

Roger Ebert

The rest of
The time ain’t
So much fun
After the party
Is done
Vampires
Whither
In the sun

My friends are
So lively and so free
We’re just who
We wanted
To be

Ain’t nothing
Will ever explain
The nuisance
That nibbles
My brain
My world
Will never
Be sane

My friends are
So lively and so free
We’re just who
We wanted
To be


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