Have We Come to This?

Marc Chagall julliard.edu

Marc Chagall

Have we come to this?
By chance or by choice
far from where we started
modernity has caught us up
like fallen autumn foleage
carried us off in its flow
We have come to this!

Once we were believers
we have become skeptics
Once others were trusted
they have become suspects
Once we were contented
we have become cynical
This we have become!

Old before our time
we sit in front of TVs
watch the world pass by
Once our enlightenment
it now feeds our apathy
With a flip of a switch
we simply turn it off

   Have we come to this?
   We have come to this!

“Our people, neighbors once, have left homes and names
to stray in the pubic ways, loose money
spent at the bidding of machines. At the Crucifixion
they stand and watch, having bartered their fish
as the price of admission. They believe this death
is a show, and they duly consent to be diverted.
In that speech whatever is said that is true
is a lie. Under the public cloud blighted
humans swarm like flies upon a wound.” ~ Wendell Berry

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An Affirming Flame

Paul Klee pinterest.com

Paul Klee

Out of the chaos
of these anxious days
a people too long silent
are discovering conscience
a people too long silent
are finding their voice
to speak Justice

A ship on the sea
is more visible at night
than it is in the daytime
Every light atop the mast
is visible on the horizon
So too let us put a light
into each window

so that every Other
knows she is welcome
not only in our thoughts
but welcome at our table
We will break the bread
We will pour the wine
of mercy & of grace

“Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies:
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.” ~ W.H. Auden

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Tribe to Tribe to Tribe

Paul Klee pinterest.com

Paul Klee

What congregations
      we are as a nation
Our dogmatic opinions
      assuring isolation
tribe to tribe to tribe

Unity a construction
      of the imagination
The simple articulation
      of our civil`ization
tribe to tribe to tribe

Beneath decorations
      hearts in formation
beat in time to emotion
      from self`reflection
tribe to tribe to tribe

Love is fear’s solution
      else our destinations
end up in self`destruction
      Love takes decisions
tribe to tribe to tribe

“There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.” ~ W.H. Auden

Auden’s complete poem September 1, 1939 can be found at https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/september-1-1939

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Paul Klee pinterest.com

Paul Klee

The white house
is decorated with cranes
neatly folded origami cranes
deftly folded by the deft hands
of the sycophants of the god
each bird when unfolded
marred by a lie

No sooner a lie
is caught than another
crane miraculously appears
Violence dressed up as peace
Fear masquerading as hope
Control covering chaos
Usual business

Everyone lies!
you say And it is true
The biggest lie being I swear
I’m telling you the whole truth
Remember the president who
said I am not a crook!
Truth is he was

“All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky” ~ W.H. Auden

Auden’s complete poem September 1, 1939 can be found at https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/september-1-1939

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We the People

Paul Klee artstack.com

Paul Klee

Where the revolutionary
Where the masses singing
Liberté, égalité, fraternité!
in the face of the new world
re`aligning itself east & west
the west with all its excesses
the east with all its fanatics
Why should we really care
so long as we have Soma?

When freedom devolves
into I can do what I want!
equality easily morphs into
I don’t want you living here!
Where then is brother`hood?
Where then our sister`hood?
A society self`obsessed will
choose a self`obsessed god
Ought we to be surprised?

We the People so it began
before Individualism’s day
when I stopped caring how
much you had to pay in rent
if your kids had lunch money
that you slept on the streets
after you lost your good job
your house was foreclosed 
and We didn’t even notice

“The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish . . .
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.” ~ W.H. Auden

Auden’s complete poem September 1, 1939 can be found at https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/september-1-1939

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What Children Learn

It is in childhood
we learn grace or abuse

As the branch of the tree
is bent so will bend the limb
The child which goes unloved
will find his reasons to hate
The child overly`adulated
will see himself as great
and others weak

Look at the child
you see parent & adult
How the rivulet carves silt
is how the stream cuts rock
until it has formed the gorge
It’s how the gods are made
who live in the mythology
of ancient modern time
They are a Brand

The free market
goes for a good brand
Armani makes a fine suit
Starbucks brews good lattes
But when the brand gets on us
when the Others among us
get numbered & deported
like cattle on the range
none will be free

“Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.” ~ W.H. Auden

Auden’s complete poem September 1, 1939 can be found at https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/september-1-1939

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When Clever Hopes Expire

Wassilly Kandinsky ideelart.com

Wassilly Kandinsky

comes home
from time to time
Rewrites itself even
in the affairs of those
who once stood tall
against its tyrants
We become
a tyranny

So subtly
the politician
wields his power
First he teaches fear
then hate comes easily
Isolate the scapegoat
Paint him enemy
in the name
of security

The press
prints his lies
til he purchases it
Pulpits speak truth
he re`mythologizes it
Science frightens us
he nationalizes it
He’ll make us
great again

“Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.” ~ W.H. Auden

A note to my readers: The prompts for my verses for this week all come from W.H. Auden’s
poem ‘September 1, 1939’. It is a most powerful poem which Auden wrote from a bar on New York City’s Fifty-second Street. If you have  not read it I’d suggest you read it now. You can find it at http://www.poemdujour.com/Sept1.1939. Blessings and Peace! 

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Fan the Flame!

Candlelight of Love and Blessing    wallcoo.net

    Candlelight of Love and Blessing     wallcoo.net

There is a wind
blowing in the land
Retrenchment is its name
In its face our character gets
revealed for others to see
Hate is in the streets
An angry wind

Still the flame
of grace flutters faint
in the hearts of all those
who’d love neighbor as self
It is time for that flame
to take to the hands
as hospitality

The strangers
stand at our borders
Hate will make terrorists
of any who have been hated
Love will make brothers
of any who are loved
Fan the flame!

“I know that I have life
only insofar as I have love.
I have no love
except it come from Thee.
Help me, please, to carry
this candle against the wind.” ~ Wendell Berry

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Life of Significant Soil

Vincent Van Gogh aliexpress.com

Vincent Van Gogh

She lived in her yesterdays
Alive only in the old memories
of her youth and of her beauty
of loves that left her ashore

when they sailed off to war
Sailors sailing off into sunsets
in ships that would not return
Salvages of a fleet that was

He lived in his tomorrows
Alive eternally in his fantasies
out there up there some place
dreamer lost in his dreams

like some saint whose feet
never touched down upon earth
he saw all men as they might be
blinded to men as they are

We have no future no past
All we actually have is the now
Let us do justice love kindness
walk humbly with our God

“And the right action is freedom
From past and future also.
For most of us, this is the aim
Never here to be realized;
Who are only undefeated
Because we have gone on trying;
We, content at the last
if our temporal reversion nourish
(Not too far from the yew-tree)
The life of significant soil.” ~ T.S. Eliot

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Unattended Moments

Mixy Gregory ephemeralgecko.com

Mixy Gregory ephemeralgecko.com

Sometimes a thought
flies into my mind from where
I have no idea it simply catches there
like a big silver salmon caught
by its gills in a gill`net

No sense of a past
No sense of future

It matters not the bed
from which it swam out to sea
to which years later it seeks to return
It can’t survive the interruption
this netting of the now

It’s trapped in time
Living but not alive

The thought swims on
so long as I hold it in my mind
I turn it over carefully See the sealice
on the silvery belly Passengers
along for the ride home

We share the moment
Thinker & the thought

Til something distracts
A breeze moves through a tree
then the great net and its fish are gone
a flickering shadow on the sea
Forgotten by sundown

“Men’s curiosity searches past and future
And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint . . .
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight
The wild thyme unseen . . .” ~ T.S. Eliot

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Perpetual Angelus

Barbara Flowers anneirwinfineart.cpm

Barbara Flowers

Not one of us
knows how she will die
or for that matter where or when
we live as tho immortal
tho mortal be

Death is a foe
for all fearing mortality
the Reaper grim brings joy to end
leaves strong men weak
as in infancy

Yet is friend
for all wracked by pain
ultimate analgesic to the torment
which defines their day
a final peace

A good death
is a mercy to the dying
a completed narrative of the story
A tragic death is a grief
never to heal

We’ll sail off
one day in a setting sun
For some this life has been enough
others will see a sunrise
called Grace

      “Also pray for those who were in ships, and
Ended their voyage on the sand, in the sea’s lips
Or in the dark throat which will not reject them
Or wherever cannot reach them the sound of
       the sea bell’s
Perpetual angelus.” ~ T.S. Eliot

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Old Fishermen

Daniil Volkov liveinternet.ru

Daniil Volkov

Old fishermen know
where jagged rocks hide
beneath the river`flow

Simply biding a time
to catch a careless bow
below the water`line

When the river’s low
they rise so innocently
roosts to gull & crow

When the water’s high
they lie dangerous below
mere riffles on the tide

Old fishermen know
how to read the riffles
like winks of a widow

“And the ragged rock in the restless waters,
Waves wash over it, fogs conceal it;
On a halcyon day it is merely a monument,
In navigable weather it is always a seamark
To lay a course by: but in the somber season
Or the sudden fury, is what it always was.” ~ T.S. Eliot

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