Who we are

            1. A quarrel

Adults can quarrel without a ripple,
subliminally, like a childish thief
who quietly steals your time as if
you aren’t quite convinced that what
you witnessed was a quarrel

I’ll yet participate in, appreciate
truly, the music of the ages
In this comfortable, peaceful room
it’s fun to sneeze as though
you really mean it

When Dad was so sick he invited
the local Rabbi in for a chat
This surprised us because Dad,
despite his polite, Midwestern respect
for the deeply wrought beliefs of others,

was no kind of believer and didn’t ask
for your blessings or untempered fervor
(He once had to be rescued from the
preaching of a Jehovah’s Witness who
wouldn’t remove her foot from our doorway)

I think he just wanted to make
sure that the Rabbi knew nothing more
than he did about his deathly condition—
the painful deterioration of his body
and why his life would soon leave him

            2. It’s fun

It’s fun to sneeze completely
The kind of forthright sneeze that throws
your glasses off your nose, messes
with your shirt and would get you uninvited
from any serious, placid, stately home

My friends say I won’t change you
and that sounds right — the rapture
of a line is no defense against the sly
resonance of momentum as roiled
conflicts continually drive us

We call it public relations—
or, if a hard sell, advertising
Its real name is propaganda
Dad was a soft-sell public-relations man
He worked well because he wrote

well, was essentially honest,
knew who he was and could
tell a good story with luck— like
the time he got some steel magnate’s
picture on the cover of a national magazine

(though he later heard that the
idiot was upset because he didn’t like
the picture) and I wonder—if some alluring
woman picks a delightful pastel flower, is it a
delight in itself or more so because she picked it?

            3. You can’t tell

Here when true you can’t tell where
nature and artifice separate—
You won’t succeed in this
work if you’re weak, if there’s
no crispness to your intelligence

“Death belongs to life, is unavoidable
and comes when it wants” said Freud
We don’t protest the sky, we don’t
scrape or defy it even with our
tallest, boldest imaginings

Don’t romanticize suffering
There’s nothing of beauty in pain
I know what life is—
Whatever you want you can’t have
right if you don’t have your freedoms

Something was there that isn’t
there now—where is it?
The sweetest music asks—
if beauty is valued here then why
do we allow for so much ugliness?

“We the people” won’t accept foul government,
political chaos, moral blindness, the greed
of pipsqueaks and their sycophants who
would lead us, their every lie that blights our
freedoms, unless we forget who we are



-June 16, 2018-