"There is a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue."
Edmund Burke (1729-97)
English Orator and Statesman
The past sings an unsettling current note;
Jose Ortega y Gasset once wrote
embellishing the German Goethe's pen:
that man will move his arms to keep afloat.
As he fights the waves and his destruction,
man quickly spurns his sense of a wrecked ship,
confusing his swim stroke with life, itself.
By reach, he reasons, he will stay afloat.
A few of the swimmers have springs for eyes;
laser beams aim their light at what could be.
Their blind brothers kick the incoming tides,
gyrate their dreams and seek guaranteed shores.
Springs-for-eyes question the swimming and ask
"Why do arms-control talks produce more arms?
This ice-sculpture carved for a party?
Long dresses or cocktail? Black tie or white?"
Los Angeles, CA
"Only two things are infinite – the universe and human stupidity,
and I'm not sure about the former."
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Each night he dons a broad-brimmed Panama—
a child would don a helmet for The Game
on Sunday morning, wouldn't he?—then lights
a hand-rolled Cuban from the humidor,
strips to his shorts and stands before his desk,
pencil in hand, to dream of Hemingway.
The whisky burns into his throat and chest,
and overhead a barely moving fan
beats air and smoke into a moody
to set the stage; the writer has arrived—
But all the same, the words seem lame at first;
they limp across the page in order lines
and wait until he deigns to rearrange
them from their perfect form (grammatically)
into a greater and more vibrant line,
before the dawn.
And so he scribbles on
revising his and rearranging that
(for this will do some good and that no harm)
enticing words into a private dance
that he alone may view and understand
albeit through the haze of whiskied smoke.
He dreamt of Hemingway, who never showed,
and Whitman and the others he would ape
if only there were time. And for a time
he felt and knew the wonder of the desk,
the pencil scratching 'cross the pulpy pad,
the whiskied smoke, the whirring fan, and last,
the ultimate grandeur
of being found passed out upon the floor—
then, all things done (but nothing done too well)
he pressed a pistol snug against his head,
and mimicked his dear Hemingway at last.
"Fair-handed spring embosses every grace."
James Thomson (1700-1748)
Spring creeps on mud shoes past my backyard
without regard for sodden garden beds,
turgid soil, where southerly warm breath
dispatches wispy tatters of the snow.
Two bluebirds lease a house hung fifteen years
ago, without a tenant until now.
Their flight is better than my muck mired walk,
a soggy promise April always keeps.
Mud is a seasoned harbinger of time's
escape from winter fangs. Spring leaves a line
of prints behind, then pauses to absorb
warm continuity upon its face.
Carol W. LaForet
Bucks County, PA
"Thinking is the talking of the soul with itself."
Plato (429-347 B. C.)
THIS LIVIN' AIN'T NO EASY THING TO DO
|This livin' ain't no easy thing to do
just gettin' by from day to day. I'd 'low
there's folks that's got it harder maybe'n me
but not too many folks, an' that's for sure.
Why just t'other day, that Rev'rend Jim
come swinging' by the house in that new car,
an' Molly, while the kids was stil in school
an' I was still at work down at the mill,
just hopped right in an' drove away with him.
|hey took off in a big ol' cloud o'dust,
them two, an' them big ol' Caddy tires
throwed dirt an' rocks clear up on my porch
like they was in a rush. O'course I wasn't
here to see 'em leave; the neighbor lady
told me ever'thing; she saw it all.
Don't get me wrong; I mean, I ain't so much
that Molly couldn't leave me—an' the kids
an' me, we'll do all right, I guess—Ibut man,
this livin' ain't no easy thing to do.
"Self-trust is the essence of heroism."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)
American Poet and Essayist
No room at Arlington for these who failed
to do their fathers' bidding – these who lived –
and failed, in that, to make their fathers proud.
These go unburied, unentombed, unclaimed,
unclassified by shrinks as post-traumatic;
unheralded, unnoticed, and unkempt,
as dead as those they left behind, as dead
as those whose fathers place the tiny flags
on stones that mark remainders of their sons.
How can we call these heroes? These who clawed
their way through steaming jungles, grasping mud,
the shameful tears of men, and grazing fire,
but lived. No room for these at Arlington
who failed the bold Arthurian Ideal:
a Hero, everybody knows, must die.
King Arthur died, fulfilling expectations,
and everybody wailed as they must do,
then set his ship aflame and him adrift.
And so we aggrandize our heroes – those
who had the common courtesy to die –
but these we set adrift, we set adrift.