Not the Trinity

selfportraitasshadow_08_09_10_11_vibrantwI am not The Owner.
I am not The Cook.
I am not The Menu.
I am just the waiter, serving you all.

I am not The Light.
I am not The Dark.
I am not The Rainbow.
I am just the eyes, looking for you all.

I am not The Man.
I am not The Woman.
I am not The Child.
I am just the soul, touched by you all.

I am not The Leader.
I am not The Follower.
I am not The Revolution.

I am just the teammate working with you all.

I am not The Father.
I am not The Son.
I am not The Holy Ghost.
I am just the brother, loving you all.

Forty Four #HashTags Forming a Poem.

Love for President of the Plane“But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts…”
 

#NeverBirther.
#NeverSexualPredator. #NeverMisogynist.

#NeverRacist.
#NeverHomophobe. #NeverIslamophobe.

#NeverBullying.
#NeverGaslighting.
#NeverNativist.
#NeverDemagogue.
#NeverAuthoritarian.

 
#AlwaysLiberal.
#AlwaysFeminist.
#AlwaysOkaywithGay.
 
#AlwaysEnvironmentalist.
#AlwaysScientist.
#AlwaysFactual.
 
#AlwaysEducated.
#AlwaysLiterate
#AlwaysAwareofHistory.
 
Always #BlackLivesMatter.
Always
#StandingwithStandingRock.
 
#AlwaysPacifist.
Always
#GivePeaceaChance.
Always #GiveLoveaChance.
Always
#GiveRespectaChance.
 
Always #RespectDiversity:
Always #DiversityofPeoples.
Always #DiversityofSpecies.
Always 
#DiversityofEnvironments.
 
#AlwaysAmerican.
Always
#WiththeMajority.
Always
#WiththeMinority.
 
Always #CitizenoftheWorld. 
Always #JustOneSoulofOneSpeciesonOnePlanet. 

Always on #SpaceshipEarth.
#AlwaysLookingUp.
#AlwaysLookingTotheStars.

#AlwaysFaithful
.
Always #WiththeLeastofThese.
#AlwaysLove.
Always #WithThem.
Always #WithYou.

On litmus tests of patriotism

There was a man I once knew who refused to salute the flag, take the pledge or sing the anthem. He was about 12 years old when the linked photo to the right was taken.  Like many of my relatives, my uncle rejected any physical or verbal overt act of obeisance to national symbols on the grounds of idolatry. This was because his religion forbade such displays. By refusing to salute the flag, he believed that he was respecting another clause within the same decalogue which forbids the killing of another person.  To him, the commandment against the worshipping of graven images took priority over demonstrating patriotism along with the crowd.

As a lifelong pacifist myself, I know these things must have made it difficult for my mother’s brother as World War II grew closer to his life. Then again, maybe not. Because even though he conscientiously objected to killing another human, he decided to join up anyway – starting around the age of 17. While my grandmother made him wait another year, he was drafted and served as a medic across many of the fiercest battles in the South Pacific. I remember his stories vividly – first because he was reluctant to share them. But then, when he did tell one, one would watch him relive it all in a way that no movie can portray. Even as many were dying around him, he worked so others could be saved. And it was the souls that he couldn’t save which haunted him until he passed around twenty years ago.

My Uncle Daniel, World War II Veteran

My Uncle Daniel, World War II Veteran

Yes, I remember my uncle describing how he waited on an island’s hillside as the firefight raged around him all night, hoping, praying and pleading with the Almighty to keep one particular young man alive until morning when his unit expected to be able to evacuate the wounded. But around 3:00 am that morning, the young man in his arms passed away in pain and my uncle then began a rage against the heavens, cursing and calling out back to God to explain what the hell had just transpired. He walked over to a cliff and looked down at the rocks on the beach. and for a second, he told me, my uncle thought of going over…

 

But then he decided just why he would not. The only way he could see it would matter was to make it through the rest of the war.  And then to come back home and forever appreciate the little joys of life that the 18 year old who has just died would never know.  And my Uncle Daniel would never forget that soldier. Ever.

As he was when I first remember him, my Uncle continues to be renowned for his joy of life and happy demeanor.  To the day he died, he brightened every room he entered and had the enviable ability to make everyone around him feel special and loved.  He often said that  many people seemed to admire him just because he had learned to like himself.  But when he told of the moment in 1945 where he stared down at those forlorn boulders on a nameless Pacific beach, his face revealed the painful torment of a spirit almost crushed.  He never forgot the dawning of that next day either.

There is a comic book version of history that too many people seem to have read. And many of its fans demand superficial litmus tests so they can evaluate and judge the patriotism of others. But life is so much more complicated than these people seem to understand. My uncle never talked to me about anyone’s patriotism, including his own. Yet, I would put his love of countrymen up against the entirety of 100,000 people – all singing “God Bless America” together and with beer in hand. 

Every Word is Brokenhearted

Every word is brokenhearted,
As the style book is in mourning
All the crafted prose now yields
To random, blithering, noise.

Every byline now is grieving,
in honor of your passing,
And so the words fell down,
feeling no one’s left to edit
the last magnificent chapter,
of the story of your times.

Yet in your last edition,
Your loving, knowing soul
still wrote a final tale,
Not with words but by spirit,
and the virtue of resilience,
And in the final chapter
you stated clearly for us all:

Each life is so much grander
than the shadow of its death!

So now the words are gone,
yet let the game continue.
As I promised you so recent
So I promise to you still:

We are not yet done.

shooting baskets
and the breeze,

then fleeing with a leap
the sorrowed ground below,

My brother!

We will meet once more
at the rim.

 

My friend, my brother: Stephen Szkotak

My friend, my brother: Stephen Szkotak

 

 

Epiphany. A short movie.

Epiphany is a movie about energy and risk assessment. It was inspired by a simple personal moment of clarity experienced in 1976 which served as portend to a famous failure just a few years later.
Epiphany is a movie about energy and risk assessment.  It was inspired by a simple, personal moment of clarity that I experienced in 1976 while still a student in college.   My instant of awareness then served as both portend and, quite coincidentally,  connection to a famous failure just a few years later.

This the first film created for my Studio Michaelino,  Epiphany was a nominated selection for the inaugural Fast Forward Film Festival  and at the festival in April, 2015 received an Honorable Mention in the category :“Strongest Call to Action.”

Music by Neslort and Rick Trolsen.  “The Yoga Rope Rag” used with permission  From the album:Mystical Scam. This is a 2010 album for which I have promised  (to myself) to write a review.  Actually, I don’t normally write reviews of art that inspires me, I will write, instead, what I term an “appreciation” for this marvelous album, especially as I was given a preview of the process of its creation. That’s because Rick is a very good friend.

To complete this movie, I also must thank another friend, and a fellow geek: Patricia Pehlman.  Pat supplied a key video clip and I might have had to delay the film’s completion by several months if she had not been able to help.

With the former and of the latter

With the former and of the latterUnexpected
to my life
came our time
where numbers in
the canon of love
of the people I knew
far surpassed those
of the people I know.

Beyond the grace
of melancholy,

I am still possessed
 by my personal union
with the former
and of the latter.

Now I near the end
of crossing our
decades together,
emotionally,
sustained,
within 
both.

And yet,
in my deepest sorrows,
with head in hands,
forever and always
separated from each.

Transitions of a Memory

Transitions of a Memory of Childhood“The day that any one of you can touch any one of my family is over.  The next time you try to injure one of us, this what is has now changed. I have grown up,  I am no longer an infant or somebody’s kid. Nor am I that weak, helpless, fucking teenager. “

But that is not how it went down, that is not the way it could have gone down.  That is the once living nightmare trying to reconcile itself across time, that is the now distant thought of revenge braying to my always present ego.  That is an ethereal daydream and within it I am addressing a rabble of mocking violent phantoms or one solid crusty white trash jackass with a loaded gun, or that same bigoted drunk who is holding a running chainsaw. And he is locked into fore-ever while threatening to cut off the head of my own sweet dog.  Or I am breaking another man’s wrist that I have just met while just shaking his hand.

That is the hopeless and lost portion of a dichotomy that can live deep inside even a lifelong pacifist.  The circumstances change whenever it decides to retells itself to itself, when it decides on another could-have-been plausible ending.  No.  Never an ending.  Maybe just a second act.

But it never happened that way, it could never have happened that way.

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Improvising Gettysburg: A Movie and A Song

 Noted documentarian Ken Burn’s recently invited everyone to learn, recite and upload the Gettysburg address.  My reaction was to improvise a song instead.  And then I asked my niece, Amelia, if she was interested in making a film  with me that included my singing.  As Amelia was busy getting ready to apply to film schools that she planned to attend after her high school graduation, she was not only interested but she wanted to add the results to her portfolio.   Continue reading

Prologue

At the end of the industrial age,  I stood between a chair and my office window , gazing at the Christmas shoppers fourteen stories below. I had just been asked a fairly technical question by my boss and mentor and so I was looking out the window to reflect.  And I was preparing a response, or more accurately, a translation, that my boss could follow.

My Mother, with and Uncle and Aunt

My Mother, with an Uncle and Aunt
Taken in the early 1950s

When, suddenly,…down there…among the crowds, I saw my grandfather. I recognized him because of his thin brimmed hat and the brown cardigan sweater barely covering his suspenders.  His gait also confirmed his identity, still a bit stiff on the right side because of the stroke he had survived in 1959. And then, as she came through the glass door,  I was able to make out that my mother was also with him, the key here being her silver hair and her soft plumpness covered by her raincoat, with the belt hanging unbuckled on each side. They had just left the Sibley’s department store through the Clinton Avenue doors and as they came to Main Street, together they turned in the opposite direction of my office and slowly walked out of my view. My impulse was to immediately bolt from the office,  run to the stairwell and  down all 14 floors to join the crowd and search for them.
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List under Colorblind Opportunities

Wanted: White-Styled Privilege
To Alleviate
Effects of New Jim Crow.
Please Forward to:
Nearly Two Million,
Currently Subjugated
And Awaiting Justice
And Civil Rights
And Restitution
Alongside
Several Lost Generations.
So Many Broken Lives
Can No Longer Wait
for the Promise of the Future.
So

Your Attention is Requested  Immediately.

Lament for the Lost Birds

Lost Birds at The Eastman HouseTo Every Thing There is a Season.
Surely Carolina Parakeet,
Yours was too short and too colorful.
In wisdom were you made communal,
The earth made full with your divinity:
Separated in hats of divine extinction
Forever.

All Creatures Great and Small
Excepting flightless island dwellers,
Great Auk, for your black feathers,
for your lifelong mating,
meaning you were taken down by the pair,
to the very last meaty couple,
Forever.

Not One of These Creatures Will Be Missing
Bu the Labrador Duck couldn’t make the book.
Were you waning and needing a push?
A mystery why we did it?
No taste, no reason, no notice until
A boy from inland Elmira shot you alone
Forever.

The Fowls of the Air Will Tell Thee
Passenger Pigeon you blackened his heaven
And blotted Audubon’s sun from the sky.
The great conserving state legislature
Declared your flock illegal game
A decade after its final passing
Forever.

I know all the Fowls of the Mountains
Well maybe their savory prairie cousins.
Heath Hen, retiring to Martha’s Vineyard
There your friends planting and supporting
Also legislating before witnessing
On top of the lonely tree; Your Last Call
Forever.

Marathons

Tragedy with Evil Growing Stronger,
Will Good Rescue a World Once Defended?
A person my age may live much longer,
Beyond times for which they were intended.

Caution Police Line

Super Empowerable

Super Cousin!

 

My Essence Indomitable,
My Inspirations Invaluable,
My Motives Unassailable,
My Potential Incalculable,
My Growth Unstoppable,
My Hopes Sustainable,
My Achievements Certifiable,
My Future Attainable,
My Education Irreplaceable!

Walk with Dogs to Trillium Grove

Along the Pinetum Way  The one-eye Collie and the Manic Bird Dog, too, too excited passing Pasture Gate. Still cluttered with last year’s milkweeds. Too, too many box elders are taking root. Broken Dormer on the old well in the weeds, threatening, as remembered, to take a child away. The pasture’s top edge, the slope still gentle. Abandoned Ladder waiting against Grandpa’s sour cherry. Overgrowth almost hiding Butternut Gateway. The dogs still polite, still excited the slow one came out today, straining to contain the run, Now stinging, slapping black-cap canes. On through to the gully’s wall smooth path quickly rising  now forty, now fifty steep feet above the Spring Rush Creekpassing Slate Plate Bank, The aunts always claimed rattlers lived here, Dogs, enough of slowness, making a  vertical break as the steepest climb begins. Fallen tree litter tumbles as paws and tails disappear up above and over the edge, into the forest towards Russet Apple Tree Patch, The creek forks, left branch soon ending at Top Pasture and out to the view at One Tree of the whole valley, but it is the right  that goes to Shoe Rock in the cascade of spring water and the path’s final gentle downward slope to merge with the creek’s muddy splashes, quickly leading to Trillium Grove at last, Just one so far, still enough for any journey, And look!  The dogs are back with presents for the ailing slow one: A grin in motion from the One-Eyed Collie, Eye level leaps from the Manic Bird Dog,and Fresh Rabbit for All!  

A Game of Briscola

Grandma's Window 1973
You are always in the game,
wherever I’ve played it.
Forty cards in the deck,
With a nickel always at risk,
And your special “Oomph!”
And swish of the wrist,
Sending the taking three
or ace to the table…are always,
in my hand biding their time

With twinkle and grin,
Even as you were dying,
You asked if I’d been planning
To let you win. I’ve kept your
mischief and smile also,
to play them as wild cards,
whenever I’ve needed your pluck.

Oh Tears!

Tears Idle, tears…
“Yes you DO know what they mean”
said the teacher,
Autumn Fade to Blackand I was so self-impressed.
“But I wonder to the degree …
of dying eyes”
said the blind man,
my teacher, my guide.
So I knew, I’d just kinda got it,
beyond my years,
And the worst to “get”
was yet to come
for the ship I saw
was only still at the pier.
And those I loved,
were only just now boarding.
So I had more to get.
And Oh Others! And
Oh Days!  Oh Generations!
Oh, Kisses!
Oh, Tears!
Got it. Oh I did!

The Alpha Diamond of Corona

Region of Corona BorealisWhen I found you your star,
Alphecca to the Arabs, but Gemma,
always from then to you and me,
The Alpha Diamond of Corona,
shining in the Crown of the North on
those summer evenings. The back patio.
To smell fresh cut alfalfa hay, the peepers
and the Fireflies, when the screen
door creaked to say that you
were coming out to the tranquil dark,
sometimes to ask “Show me my star!”

When your sister gave us the gift,
four places of Silver and that note,
A charming tale you both exchanged,
As each family outgrew more settings
that neither could afford. Later I smiled.
But then, momentarily left the wedding party,
with her words “once your mother’s”, for
the empty, tranquil dark yard to bawl in,
Standing with the massive western sky,
First the handle’s Arc to Arcturus and then
upward to Hercules and Corona,
always to hear: “Show me my star!”

When I met your grand-daughter,
her first 15 minutes, eyes intently
scanning a populated new world.
You know she’ll never stop honoring
those, her unknown generations’,
unfilled yearnings to share their love.
But did my sister know when
choosing just a middle name,
it would close a celestial circle?
That on an urban summer evening,
the coals now cooling and
we guests well fed and yes,
the Fireflies have come back.
When my niece, catching my
glances upward towards Corona,
sometimes to ask: “Show me my star!”

A Patch of Plastic in the Existential Sea

Caution: Human Race!Back in the day,
Before Mere Opinions
Became Facts,
Before Free Markets
Enslaved Children,
Before More Packaging
Brought Less Product,
Before a Slice of Cheese
needed a Fossil Wrapper,
Before Garbage,
Became Exportable,
Before Land
Became Disposable,
Before Extinctions
Were Our Distinctions,
Before We Man-Handled
The Seasons, The Climate,
The Atmosphere, The Gulf,
The Arctic, The Amazon,
Before we decolonized
the Honey Bees,
and enslaved the rest.

Back in that day,
Before the Dodo,
We were just
Bloody Ignorant Apes.

But now what?

Still My hero

Grandpa Boxing His BrotherNot the final days,
We’ll Talk About That Later,
As I approach that age.

But there was a time,
yes, before mine,
Where by your stories,
You proved the world existed,
long before I had my consciences.
And it could be just and
peace loving and forgiving.

Now in my now times,
I’ve found many more of us,
even “of the world”,
that will answer the bell
by refusing the fight.

But no one I’m knowing
cuts out just the good parts
and makes them their own.
As it is written. Like you did.

Grandpa. Man to Man?
I’m proud of you.

If you can just get out of your body (A hymn)

If you can just get out of your body,Sky and Space Fantasy
You’ll discover you know how to fly.
Swoop past your personal biography,
Find a way to where the Time Goes By.

When stars do glow, let Novae light the way,
To the dust from which you’ll yet become.
If you’re stopped here to watch the fall of man,
Well, first, you’re going to need a son.

Do you think you’re now too grand,
Your spirit passes as worlds’ collide?
I’ve been there and would suggest:
That lonely little soul should be your guide.

Don’t shed your wings, you will need them still.
Your greatest test is yet now at hand.
The hardest task for you since taking flight,
Will be learning How and When to Land.

Cinquainicity

An explanation is but a click away under the big hat

An explanation is but a click away under the big hat

My thoughts
get on the page
quickly, needing freedom
to get to their new home inside
your mind

 

 

 

 

 

Syzygy at Midnight

The  Armada returns in failure…
Each a zeppelin in flames
My Army of Dreams:
Every hope
and all the schemes
of a lifetime,
this lifetime,
my lifetime,
now crashing
everywhere at once

Legs refuse to stand,
on the field of pyres.
Stare. Towards the zenith.
A Starless Smoky Void:
No effing Answer.

 And, yet!
it is precisely at that moment,
At Midnight,

As the Earth turns home for Daylight.

 When I sense a new morning’s sun,
far beneath my knees

Already Calling Me to Rise. 

 Giant Binos Skyward

When I hear your jazz

Neslort (after Andy)Your trombone wants to KILL the blues.
Doesn’t it? I mean the Baby Boomer Blues.
The All-I-wanna-hear-me is-funk’n-Blues.

Forget what it ain’t, let’s explain what is.
Total Sonic Immersion.  But Christ,
if writing it could say it,
why would you use music?

Still our extinction swings (according to you.)
My good friend: we can paint it another
way, you also have been heard to sing.
An eastern rag! The Noise and the Space Between.
Free, it wants to end free.

Poor Poetry and Pompous Prosaics!
Words only glimpse our aural journeys.
For those willing to pay full fare, then
the complete destination’s just ahead…
but only if you listen

 

 

Quotable in Black and Grey and White

Guys and the GroomThose are my boys,
Humphrey & Sydney & Peter & Claude & Me.
Quoters & Knowers & Watchers & Readers…
…and Boozehounds.
All of us Warner Brothers.
With formative years: On Top of The World!
Didn’t every guy used to be a bigshot?

My youth was shot in widescreen.
My friends were all the usual suspects.
Together we met Stanley, Marty and
with Francis, we watched more than
a Conversation

But Grace Kelly’s face
entering two stories high over the

nosey villager…the world’s weariest Stewart.
No. They don’t make us like they used to!
But…wait…You talkin’ to me?

 

Xanadu Lost

At The Edge of IreneAnd as Jove’s Sceptre swept me from his throne.
Most heard within – the rise of hubris moan.
Yes, Did I fall through years. (The Dome! Kersplash!)
Hear All! The Alph runs grey with Human Ash.

Mortal.  Alone. My Nimbus fades from fright.
Behold!  A vision of an unexpected plight!
No matter what….I’ll never hear the words.
A Babylonic Fate: to graze among the herds.

What pool one day reflects this face to dread?
I stare fore-ever at the Gorgon’s Head.