Archive for the ‘Ethics / Morality’ Category

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The Bird, the Student and the Teacher

August 10, 2006

She holds it in her hand,
the tiny bird, its heart
fluttering, snatched from the nest
unsuspecting, its vital
role on this clear spring day.

He sits, lotus position,
hands in an open pose
folding in on himself,
like an onion, layer
on layer, she approaches.

“Teacher,” she says, “A lesson
I have for you. Wonder
what it is I carry
in my hands?” She pauses
knowing she has stumped him.

The Master pauses, smiles
knowing on his shoulders
lies the weight of the world.
She will crush the bird, kill
it if he says it lives

but open her hands, free
the bird if he answers
that it is dead there, so
he gives her the answer
that still haunts me today

“You, my child, are the
master of your own future.
You have life and death in
your hands, choose wisely, child.”
She opens her hands, ashamed.

Have I chosen wisely
Teacher? Have I chosen life
when I had the power
to wound small creatures who
looked to me for safety?

Am I the student or
the teacher now? Can I
understand his smile
in the face of the bird’s death?
His faith and utter

certainty that she would
choose the wiser path, and
not abandon life. Can
anyone know what it was
to be the bird, praying

hoping, calling for life,
your heart fluttering as
your world, cavalierly,
decided your fate? We
are our own architects,

we write with footprints on
the shores of ancient seas,
but still we don’t recall
the ancient lesson, help us
remember to choose life.


Some of you may recognize this legend as one told of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the Master of God’s Great Name, a Chassidic Rabbi who was a great teacher and a mystic. I have taken some liberties with the story, but the fundamental message is the same. In this crazy time, why don’t we learn our lessons from the past? We do hold the power of life and death in our hands and the choices we make daily show our impact. I continue to pray for peace.

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Twas the Night of Thanksgiving

November 23, 2005

Twas the night of Thanksgiving,
and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring
not even a mouse.

We all had had more than
our share of good food,
eating turkey and stuffing, and
not to be rude

but our waists had expanded
past one more belt notch,
was it fate that demanded
that last glass of scotch?

Well, now that the eating
is finally done
and all of the “younglings”
are resting their “tums”,

it’s time to start planning
the shopping excursion,
we’ll take in the morning,
some say it’s perversion

the sheer gabs of money
we spend on our gifts
when all the world over
their needs are for thrift

but we spend our dough
as though it will never
diminish and so
we think we are clever

when deficits rise
(both our own and the national).
Can you sense the surprise,
we don’t think that it’s rational

when our stomachs and purses
fill up, pop our buttons,
the rest of the nations
know we are just gluttons.

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Questions

November 16, 2005

3/31/1983 (added stanzas 11/16/05)

I walk through the fields of your mind –
I live in the questions of your brain –
I fly over eternal clouds of knowledge –
I fall in the crystal of the rain.

I ride on the waves of many oceans –
I live on the salt in the sea –
I am every unanswered question –
in the unequal equality.

I feed on the embers burning lower –
I drink in the liquid of your tears –
I feast on the hunger of affliction –
I share in your hopes and darkest fears.

I shout when the agony and horror
I witness, become too much to see –
I am every unanswered question –
in the unequal equality.

I wait for the challenge of your question –
I thrill for the piercing of your doubt –
I answer with languid flowing rivers –
I withhold so you can go without –

I fashion the passing of the seasons –
I paint with the shadow of the tree –
I am every unanswered question –
in the unequal equality.

You wonder what maker winds the timepiece –
You ponder what power set the stars –
You question the nature of forgiveness –
You struggle, and thus you wear the scars –

Of those who would seek to know the answers –
To questions they cannot see to see.
I am every unanswered question
in the unequal equality.

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The Lady or the Tiger

July 19, 2005

2/18/1986

Here I stand,
one moment in time,
living in a minute.
Forward and behind
I see two roads,
one to the past
and one beyond.
The Holy Couple confounds me,
surrounds me on all sides,
giving me choice after choice:
“The Lady or the Tiger,” it voices
and I work at maddening puzzles
which when solved provide no answers,
only leading to another moment in time.

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Luna Larussa / Alfie Alonzo

July 9, 2005

Luna Larussa

2/19/1986

         Luna Larussa was more than a girl,
         she could sing, she could write, she could play.
         Luna Larussa was lost in this world,
         her mind traveled far, far away.

Luna Larussa had dreams of success
in which she would rule all the world.
Luna Larussa loved power to excess.
In fact, she was more than a girl.

         And one day our Luna decided to roam,
         she said that she wanted to stray.
         She wanted to find a new place for her home.
         She wanted to move far away.

Now Luna Larussa has ended her quest,
after hill, after land, after dune.
Luna Larussa is now heaven-blessed.
Luna is now on the moon.


Alfie Alonzo

4/3/1986

Alfie Alonzo — oh what a fellow:
He was cool, he was wild, he was mellow!
Alfie Alonzo would only stoop so low:
He didn’t like red, black, or yellow.

Alfie Alonzo was so patriotic,
He worshiped the Eagle and blue.
Alfie Alonzo was sort of psychotic,
If you weren’t, he sure hated you.

Alfie Alonzo joined up with the league,
The men in white hoods had appeal.
Alfie Alonzo loved green and fatigues,
He relived ‘Nam out in the field.

Alfie Alonzo lived to old age,
His great hatred kept him so well.
Alfie Alonzo died full of rage,
Alfie is now lost in Hell.


Two of a series of planned “moral” pieces which never progressed any farther to fruition. I like the alliteration of the names, but never progressed any farther with the series than these.

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Democracy

June 17, 2005

6/17/2005


Democracy should be —
Carried through the winds —
To every home and hovel —
Scattered, in the sands.


I wonder how it would be —
If every one was free —
Our souls at liberty —
To follow every star —


Democracy is not —
Your fellow man in chains —
For pursuit of aims —
In a place forgot.


Can we speak of freedom —
When people are enslaved?
For being the wrong “kind” —
Our democracy’s betrayed.


“Forsooth was it fair —
For white-man three — 
To equal black-man five” —
Inequity to me.


Democracy should be —
Dispersed throughout the winds —
To every poem and story —
Scrambled, in the sands —

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Staple

January 2, 2005

8/1984


I walked along and found a Staple there,
a Staple, to join my Confidence and Fear,
and there I found Another looking for
a Tear to rend Love from Hate and Fear.


I asked him why he quested for a Tear,
“Is it not better Joining, so as to Cancel out?”
There was some time before he quit his stare.
and said, “A Separation is better than Regret.”


“Regret for what?” I asked him with a start,
while thinking foolishly that he wouldn’t give reply,
but answer he did give, correct or not,
“Regret for destroying a part of life.


If you would Cancel out the Good and Evil,
the Evil would be gone, but yet no Good would be left either,
so all the Fear within would disappear,
but also would be gone the Joy in life.”


I walked along a found a Staple there,
and passed it by without a single stare,
it has not caught me in its frightful snare,
for lying close beside, its Foe, the Tear.




Another old one, but one for which I would love some feedback.  As an aside, when I have asked people to read this, I have received two different responses for what the word “Tear” in the poem means – either “Tear“ as in a drop of a tear from an eye, or “Tear“ as in a rip in a sheet of paper.  When you read it, what did you think it meant?  Was your answer one of these two or something else entirely?  I will put my answer in my feedback section for this post, but I am curious to see what your reading was.


By the way, happy new year to all!  It was great to be away, but it is even greater to be back!

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Eye of the Paradox

December 30, 2004

2/3/1983


The eye of the paradox –
The heart of the fire.
The lull of the ocean waves –
The strum of the lyre.


The evanescence of the candle flame –
The warmth of the sun.
The earth is an oriflamme –
A symbol undone.


And we are a paradox –
We love yet we kill.
Our passion, our power –
They lead us to ill.


The eye of the hurricane –
The heat of the fire.
The crash of the ocean waves –
The scream of the lyre.




One of my earliest poems, and also one that, at the time, seemed particularly focused on one issue — that of the potential for nuclear holocaust.  Reading it now, though, it seems to have many more applications.  By the way, oriflamme means “An inspiring standard or symbol” and evanescence is “To dissipate or disappear like vapor”.  Guess I was showing off my SAT prep vocabulary at the time (I was 13).


I like the repeated montage in the opening and closing stanzas but I don’t know about the middle two stanzas.  Do they work for you?  Is this all too pretentious?

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Unfinished business…

December 27, 2004

I am trying something different with today’s post.  Here are the opening two stanzas to a poem I began working on today.  My problem is I don’t know where to go with it and I am looking for some suggestions.  Who is the I in this poem?  Who are the two figures?  Are they both reflections of the same person?


I like the meter and rhyme scheme.  Do you?  Should there be a change in the next stanza?


Leave your feedback and I will work on the piece and post it when I am finished.




Looking elsewhere I can see
A person who inspires me
With all his generosity
And genuine concern.


Looking inward though I fear
Shows a very different sphere
I see self-concern held dear
From what I can discern.

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I Took a Trip to Saturn

December 25, 2004

12/25/04


I took a trip to Saturn
The other day at noon.
And on my way I found
A realistic man.


He said “You should abandon;
It’s much too far to walk.
You’ve got no wings to fly;
And gravity’s too strong.”


I sat and thought and pondered
On all that he had said
My back turned toward the path
When suddenly I found –


A lone idealist who
Encouraged me to try
“For failure hurts far less
Than pain of the unknown.”


I made my trip to Saturn
The other day at noon
The planet welcomed me
With her Maternal arms.