The Promise of Palms

8

April 5, 2020-

A nonet, if you will:

The murmur of the crowd gathered strength

The tall, gentle man walked gamely

His route was roofed by palms

Fronds touched His fair head

Joy was the crowd’s

He was there!

Teacher

Christ

A nonet begins with a line of nine syllables, losing a syllable in each subsequent line, and finishing with one syllable.  As today is Palm Sunday, this is a gift for my Christian family and friends

 

 

Winds and Tremors

7

March 30, 2020-

What has changed?

What has been blown away,

by the winds?

What has cracked and fallen,

in the tremors of this

lugubrious season?

Greed is blowing away,

though it is grasping

at branches,

and trying to

deflect our attention.

Pride is collapsing,

being confronted

by a chastening.

Lust is becoming

irrelevant,

in the stirred dust,

of a cosmic haboob.

The selfish cannot

ignore the cries of

babies,

of their grandparents,

of those who can’t move.

on their own.

Those who stand on

ceremony,

are finding

that ladder

is

toppling.

Bedrock, alone,

will keep us upright.

Flight

6

March 26, 2020-

The deathly ill man departed today,

leaving behind a world in chaos.

He’d done his share, though,

and it was high time for him

to move on.

There was nothing he was going to do,

to hinder Coronavirus Disease 2019.

He was ill,

long before the pandemic,

and it never got around to infecting him.

There wasn’t much more he could do,

to help his family.

Today was the day.

I’ve been around,

for another person’s departure.

Nine years and twenty-one days ago,

she was called home.

It’s been written,

that in the last days,

the living will envy the dead.

I don’t know as we’ve reached that point yet.

I know I haven’t.

Those who have transitioned,

have earned their flight.

I, like Robert Frost,

“have promises to keep

and miles to go,

before I sleep.”

 

Playing to Their Strengths

2

February 28, 2020-

Taking advantage of anyone is a sign of weakness.

Few have tried to take advantage of me, lately.

One, who did try, became furious with me,

for saying “No” to his pleas for money.

I do not see this as a loss, for me,

as putting all one’s eggs in a single basket,

is a recipe for disaster.

He’d have done better,

to ask for the help of a group.

I was not his only online friend.

Others in my life now,

are important,

in that my presence is solely

to  help them

build on their personal strengths.

Here, I see a steady progress.

This is always the key:

Help others make the most

of what is already inside them.

 

Places of Which I Don’t Speak Much

8

February 10, 2020-

I kept myself home today, for good measure.

Yesterday was touch and go,

and I made it to the two obligatory gatherings,

being careful not to get too close to anyone,

lest what I felt was coming on,

was transferable.

I don’t speak of illness, much.

This is because it rarely comes calling.

Oregano, and a day of rest,

have knocked it out of me.

Illness is a state of being,

of which I rarely need speak.

Mount Chocorua was the first real peak,

I ever climbed.

I was grateful to my father,

for taking me there,

a uniquely satisfying climb,

that was distorted by a few moments

of diffuse anger,

back at the tent site.

When I had to deal with the same,

as a father, years later,

I knew what to do,

and let the boy work out his feelings.

Long Binh,

the only place where I ever felt

my life was in danger,

was also where I had to stand up

for myself.

So I did, and no harm came.

I may very well return to Viet Nam,

in a couple of years,

but I will leave Long Binh alone.

Hannibal saw me when I was

in a very raw state.

I was not allowed to write freely.

I was refused use of a computer.

Hannibal did not seem kind,

but someday, I will give

Hannibal a second look.

There are many places,

of which I don’t speak much.

 

Inside and Out

0

February 1, 2020-

Everyone has roots in a community,

even if they don’t feel it.

Everyone is an insider,

somewhere.

Everyone is also an outsider,

somewhere.

Which role ends up

as someone’s life path,

destiny,

legacy,

is determined

by the choices

the person makes,

in the day-to-day,

in both light

and darkness.

(I wrote this, after watching several episodes of a procedural: “Sinner”, about a man who is both insider and outsider, in his own hometown.)

 

Before

10

January 29, 2020-

There is always a prerequisite.

Before the day gets going,

there is grooming.

Before there is a conversation,

there is greeting.

Before there is a journey,

there is time and money set aside.

Before there is a relationship,

there is mutual knowledge,

trust and commitment.

Before there is a life well-lived,

there is a moral compass.

Before a door can be closed,

it must first be opened,

and passed.

 

Coercion

6

January 12, 2020-

It’s easy to imagine

that one is on the right track,

and that everyone ought

follow suit.

The Jesuits and Dominicans

thought the use of force

would make the world Catholic.

The Umayyads felt the same

would work for Islam.

Conquerors of legend,

and of infamy,

swore they would

either rule the Earth

or scorch it.

Where are they now?

Remember,

when an idea of yours,

of ours,

sounds like an absolute must,

for all to follow:

What if it strikes some as

inappropriate,

irrelevant,

or just beyond their understanding?

Coercion,

pressure,

shaming

belong in the past.

 

 

My Top Reads of 2019

4

December 29, 2019- 

I covered a decade, yesterday, but today I will take a brief look at the books which mattered most to me, this year.  I have covered key books of years past, as I finished them.

10.  Abby Wize:  AWAY (Revision)– This Baha’i-themed book was revised to include more detail and to flesh out a previously one-dimensional character.  It is the account of a young girl who has a vision of a spiritually-advanced society of the future, after suffering a head injury.

9. Spiritwalker– This tale, similar to Abby Wize, involves communication between a Hawaiian man and one of his descendants, in the far future.  It is more dystopian than Abby Wize, so expect a description of a more seemingly primitive future environment.

8. Winter of the World– The second volume of Ken Follett’s series of novels on the Twentieth Century, this tale covers several families’ experiences in Britain, the United States, Germany and Russia, in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

7.  Swimming for Sunlight– This novel follows a newly-divorced young woman, as she overcomes her guilt stemming from her father’s tragic death and her fear of life, that results from that guilt.

6. Testaments- (Reading in progress)- This novel is a sequel to Margaret Atwood’s “A Handmaid’s Tale”, offering details into the lives of individual women during the period of the fictional Republic of Gilead.

5.  Twelve Rules for Life (Reading in progress)- This non-fiction book, by Jordan Peterson, discusses twelve ethical principles and their application to both modern life and traditional Western thought.

4. The Alchemist– Paolo Coelho’s classic tale of a young man, traveling from Spain to Egypt, across the Sahara Desert and back, and of the spiritual transformation this brings about, in his life and that of those around him.

3. Gulistan (Reading in progress)-  This is a collection of poetry and stories, fdrawn from both the life and from the observations of a doctor who has keen insights into both Indian and American cultures and mores.

2.  Reflections of A Wonderful Life– These are the memoirs of my brother, presented in the form of answers to questions posed by his three children.  They mirror my own memories, in many ways.   Both this book and Gulistan have influenced my own memoirs, in terms of the format in which they will be presented.  No promises, but I look to getting them written, by this coming Fall.

1. The Brothers Karamazov– Feodor Dostoevsky’s seminal novel on the human condition, this novel is not so much concerned with Good vs. Evil, as it is with internal versus external loci of control.  The atheist paints a nihilistic portrait of the bleak Tsarist environment, whilst his own fervently religious brother, alternately optimistic and despairing, sees only the Will of God behind all happenings, both positive and negative.  The eldest brother  is presented as a rake, who fiercely clashes with his simpleton father, over a woman.  The resulting conflict has deadly results, giving rise to the novel’s debates among the brothers on matters of free will and morality.

These are the reads which influenced me the strongest, over the past twelve months.

 

Damage Control

4

November 1, 2019-

Someone put one over on me,

earlier today,

leading to my getting

a mild tongue-lashing.

Anomalous situations

have not been my strong suit.

I reported the matter,

it was handled at a higher level,

and that was the end of it.

The rest of the day was

mostly uneventful,

but my former co-workers

came by with a tea cart,

which one of the students

was manning.

I purchased a cup of tea

and got a hug from the

grateful student,

whom I’ve known for

eight years.

After work, another

critical message came

expressing irritation

that I have chosen

one activity over another,

tomorrow.

There is only one of me,

though,

and the people

on the road I’m not

traveling,

will fare just fine.

I will, as well,

and the one

who took umbrage,

has also been invited

to the event

to which I’m committed.

Choices,

and damage control,

are so often the order of life.