I’ve completed the list of publications. See the menu bar just below the picture for the link.
There's No Before Cancer Surgery or chemo does not mark the beginning of the fight against cancer. Human immune systems routinely eliminate up to a million traitorous cancer cells everyday. You have always been fighting cancer and, up until recently, winning. But now reinforcements are called for, bring out the heavy guns, and hope for good targeting and little collateral damage. After they declare "Mission Acomplished," thank them, thank your body too as it continues solo, the fight against cancer.
First published in Illya’s Honey, Summer 2017 issue, #25. To reach, go to the Website, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Summer 2016 (typo) link. Again scroll down to #25 and click. Illya’s Honey is a Russian folktale about a miraculous healing potion.
I long thought cancer somehow managed to hide from your immune system. I mean, they are your cells, right? Turns out not to be the case. So I wrote this poem, probably for myself and maybe other cancer survivors. There are a lot of cancer survivors. 40% of the US population will have cancer sometime in their life.
The Grammar of Juggling What started with a few smooth stones, expanded: backwards, inside out, with more and fewer stones; gathering nuts from the eucalypts, immigrants now natives. They lack gravitas. They wander in the breeze off the fog, though eucalypts and fog are always together in my heart for this place. The fog has a sound that smothers the whine of tires, crowding it into a second or two though when unencumbered, it fills the space between the hills. Sound: wind in the rattlesnake grass, wild oats further uphill. All walled out among the pines filled with their own sound. The eucalypt nuts are green with the gray of fog. Neither are covered by the grammar of juggling. I remember I am using the grammar of juggling to regain lost proprioception. I do not know where I all am.
First published in Red River Review, August 2017 issue. Navigating there is tricky. Go to their Website, click on the current issue link, November 2017 at the moment. Scroll to the bottom of the page, click on previous issues link. Scroll to the bottom of that page and click on August 2017 link. Mine is #30.
This poem was written as an exercise in a writing retreat led by Jane Hirshfield at Santa Sabina Retreat Center in San Rafael, north of San Francisco, CA. She led us through a list, choosing 5 abstract nouns, so many verbs, adjectives or qualities, etc. Then we were to write a poem using them.
I’ve lived in Austin for 18 years but still don’t feel quite at home here. I grew up all over North America, but mostly in Marin County, just north of San Francisco. It has changed and I can’t afford to live there and don’t care for the people who do. It was always a rich county and we were middle class. I’ve developed an attitude to rich people’s attitudes. Nice place to visit but I don’t want to live there.
The Depot, a coffee house and bookstore in Mill Valley, used to be full poets, writers, and and other creative types. Now it is full of entitled people in expensive leisure or athletic clothes.
I still miss the woods, hills, and Mt. Tam.
The Melodians’ “By the Rivers of Babylon” sets Psalm 137 to music. It speaks of being far from home.
By the Rivers of Babylon for the Melodians African man, in exile, sings a song of Hebrew people, in exile, millennia before, mocked by captors. I am in exile, trying, hoping, longing to find my way home where there is no road. Reaching out to my own heartache for compass, for direction, for any sign of the way. Sitting by a river with water not like my river's water, a painful reminder of home and still so foreign.
This was my first publication of the year in di-vêrsé-city, the Austin International Poetry Festival (aipf.org) adult anthology. It is available only in print. I incorrectly attributed By the Rivers of Babylon to Bob Marley, a common misconception. As far as I can tell he never recorded the song.
It’s important not to get sucked into identity politics. It’s about privilege, exclusion, and power. Neither the battle over who is favored nor apathy and inaction is the solution. The question then becomes, how do we improve the world, country, state, city, neighborhood? Walter Brueggemann speaks eloquently about such things. How God Intervenes, an interview with him by Kenyatta Gilbert in Sojouners magazine is a good entry point. The link leads to a teaser, but gives a taste. The full article is in the print magazine and on the Web for subscribers. We read the library copy and photocopied to reread. Brueggemann speaks to the prophetic voice in all of us. I’m reading his book “Finally comes the Poet”. It has a number of important points that resonate with my experience, enlighten me, and point a way forward, following the path of Jesus and the best of the Hebrew prophets. It also resonates or maybe parallels many other important teachings in other religions. He is a very good writer, which always helps.
I’ve added all my 2017 publications to the Publications page (link just before the header picture). It’s not possible to link directly, but I put a link that close with directions on how to proceed. I’ll be posting the poems themselves in the coming weeks.
Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: “I suppose you left your wooden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or the left side of the clogs.”
Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in’s pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.
This story from “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones” compiled by Paul Reps holds up a worthwhile direction to head in, every-minute Zen. Before you work on every-minute Zen, you have to experience any-second Zen, that calm, spacious mind for any amount of time. Until then you are practicing based on faith in your teachers. After that, you’ve glimpsed the mountain. Now faith in your own experience, the desire for more, and guidance from your teachers are the path. “Glimpsing the Ox” is number 3 of the Ten Oxherding pictures. Coming this far should be celebrated. You are not a beginner any more, even though when you don’t see the mountain, you may despair.
This blog has been anonymous for a number of reasons. Those reasons are going away or gone. I was a programmer who wrote on the side for forty years. I’m now swapping those. I wrote articles for computer magazines (e.g., Byte, Dr. Dobb’s Journal) starting in the early 80s. Starting in the mid-90s, I also published poetry sporadically. I ceased writing for computer magazines ten years ago as I and they went different ways. At this point, I think they have all ceased publication.
As a programmer, I had a blog. Now this blog will also be about my publications on the Web and in print journals. It isn’t so much a change of direction as an addition of my writing outside this blog.
Most literary journals accept only unpublished works. They consider personal blogs to be publishing, so nothing I want to publish elsewhere will appear here first. Most journals buy “first rights” only. I can publish a poem here after it appears. Works that are on theme will be published here soon after they appear with a link to the “real” publication. I’ll post only recent ones, the last year or so. A full publication list will soon be added annd other things you’d expect on an author’s Website.
I read widely and have heard various estimates of the age of the universe. Nearly 14 billion years. Big number. Numbingly big number. A recent Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), Where Your Elements Came From, shows the periodic table of the elements, color coded by what kind of star or event produced them: the original Big Bang fusion, massive stars, ordinary stars, and various collisions. The bulk of the elements of life are from exploding massive stars (novas and supernovas) with smaller amounts from exploding white dwarfs. Gold is from merging neutron stars. All but hydrogen, helium, and some of the lithium are recycled from stars long ago and far away.
That hit me in a way numbers doesn’t. This planet I’m standing on is millions of years old. The elements it is made of are hundreds to thousands of times older. Really old.
Well, I won't back down No, I won't back down You can stand me up at the gates of hell But I won't back down No, I'll stand my ground Won't be turned around And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down Gonna stand my ground And I won't back down (I won't back down) Hey, baby, there ain't no easy way out (I won't back down) Hey, I will stand my ground And I won't back down Well I know what's right I got just one life In a world that keeps on pushin' me around But I'll stand my ground And I won't back down (I won't back down) Hey, baby, there ain't no easy way out (I won't back down) Hey, I will stand my ground And I won't back down Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out (I won't back down) Hey, I won't back down (I won't back down) Hey, baby, there ain't no easy way out (I won't back down) Hey, I will stand my ground And I won't back down No, I won't back down
Lyrics by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. Excellent advice for all those activists pushing back on the Trump agenda, just keep MLK’s tactics in mind. Also the Buddha:
Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.