one You to rule them all

Mongol pencils from mid-1960s

I’ve waited more than three months, I’ve written it in prose, then verse, then a different verse, then rewritten the prose. This may be as close as I get, and it’s not to my liking, yet I’m publishing it to get it off the e-desk and out of my mind.

Two Voices Debate

“There are rules,” she said.
“Rules rule.” Pitiably, I 
Know what she means.
=============================
Put the colored pencils in
Sequence according to height,
Says my ten-year-old inner voice.
Nice. Now rearrange by color,
Rainbow-like. (Look up the spectrum
If you must, Kenny.) Now,
Place the colors violet through green,
Left to right, into your rack 
with space between, because…
Double back the ‘light’ colors from
Right to left, ending with red between 
Violet and blue. Good! But now,
Arrange them alphabetically 
By color name. Now put them
Away. We’ve no time to actually
Do anything with them. Besides,
You’re no artist anyway.
=============================
When you walk to school, step
Precisely between the expansion
Seams of the concrete sidewalk.
If there’s a crack, step in the bigger
Piece still between the seams.
For extra points, step equidistantly
From each seam. No care for 
Mother’s back in all this—just
Walking how you color…
=============================
Oh, beautiful algebra! Lovely
Geometry! Your rules so pristine,
Your road to explainability, to
All’s-right-with-the-worldness. And
Diagramming sentences! Who cares
If it’s useless? It’s beauty cannot
Be denied! Science, though,
Its physics, its chemistry, its 
Squishy biology stuff, no,
Not abstract enough, not
In-your-head enough. Too
Practical, too mundane.
=============================
You have to call her, man.
But…today? Is three days a
Proper amount of lead time?
Would twenty-four hours be
Too little? Would it be better if
I called in the afternoon or 
Evening? Oh, why did I ever ask
Her out in the first place?
“You know, I think I’m not going
To go to the prom this year after all.”
=============================
”No, I’m not going to wait twenty
Minutes to eat, especially if I have
To wait outside. It’s cold.” He drives
Off spending forty minutes to 
Save twenty minutes.
=============================
“We could gas up there.” Wrong side
Of the road. “There’s one.” Nope.
“Too seedy. There’s one!” but, 
Crap, every pump’s occupied.
Ding! Your car says, "feed me".
=============================
“Isn’t life too difficult this way?”
Asks Creative-Emotive Voice. “Can’t
We take it easy? Just roll with it?”
Try that. Good too. Shut Obsessive-
Controlling Voice into its compartment
Deep within one’s gray cells. Overrule 
Edicts for living, for walking, for performing
Every. 
Single. 
Act. 
Of. 
Human. 
Existence.
“If you’re going to be A Writer, how
Do you expect to do it listening to 
That Guy? Feel your heart surging? 
Sure you do. How can you ignore it
By following these silly rules?”
Drink too much. Eat too much. Drug
Too much. Watch movies while
Neglecting one’s bills, one’s friends,
One’s social reason for being…
One’s stated creative urges. But:
Give Rulemaker his short leash.
Gentle grid of rules on fields of
Creative abandonment. 
Create. Create. And create. Short 
Circuit all words with singing,
With photography, with poetry (yes),
With—of all things—computer 
Programming. (“How can I fail 
At explaining what I do 
When I program?” Sorry, 
Dude, no words involved then,
No words available now.)
=============================
Uneasily, after many misstarts to
One’s Life Direction,
Let them both talk. Let one
Over-rule the other, let one
Overrule the other. Blend,
Mend, learn Selective Voice
Attention Mode. Leaving one
Question, one conundrum: 
who selects which Voice? 
Who are you? 
Who are “You”?

When I listen to you

gossip-monger, September 2008, Orlando, FL
When I listen to You
I don't hear Her...
Them?
Voices telling me
(in words I've never heard before):
Things I've suspected,
Never knew,
Don't want to believe...
Never believed.
Your words resonate,
Sound those harmonies,
Those sympathetic vibrations
Deep within me.
Her disparaging judgment of me
Sits numbly in my soul--
This benign tumor neither
Growing, shrinking, or leaving.
Her close (convenient) friend
Blocking refuge's door:
"She doesn't want to talk
To you." But--
"I'll talk to him," She said;
A limited engagement.
What did She say?
To Her friends?
To too many?
How could this man,
So wanting conversation,
Communication, some
Shred of mutual effort 
To maintain a marriage,
Find himself wedded to 
Her non-talking cold
Judgment, spitting out
Her assessment:
Verbal Abuser?
When I listen to You
I can't see Verbal Abuser.
You paint me differently:
Partner. Spouse.
I see this. I think,
Maybe,
Maybe, this Her,
Might have erred.

Dance of Dense

First:
'There’s a problem with poetry,'
He said. 'Today all poets
Want to compress meaning into
Too few words. This squeezing of
Words, accordion-like,
Displays the poet’s desire
To be obscure,
To force the reader
To find the meaning,
Giving away nothing,
Hiding mediocrity by claiming
My meaning is clear to those
Who know.’
Second:
Poetry today problems itself:
Compressing fruitful meaning until
Pulp disappears, leaving it
Compressed to star-dense
Proportions, a light-sucking
Mass. Makes me
Sick
Reading stuff like that.
Third:
Poetry today
Suffering from
Minimalism,
Obscurism,
Densification.
Searching for meaning,
This reader finds only
Sickness.
Fourth:
Consider today’s poem—
Dense with meaning—
Makes me sick!
Finis:
Poem.
Dense.
VomitSPLATTER!

Wokeness versus objective reality

You should use your one or two free articles per month from the New York Times to read Bret Stephens’s column “Why Wokeness Will Fail” (published Nov 9, 2021). Although Stephens dwells overmuch on matters associated with racism and the Black Lives Matter movement in particular—opening himself up to charges of “another white guy doing the defensive thing”—his points are well made, accurate, and most importantly, based in reality.

Stephens notes a particularly chilling example from the American Medical Association which apparently has urged redefining terms for patients such that they reflect the inherent racism that created their situation. As he notes, it is Orwellian. I am reminded of the clients I continually met who believed that they could change corporate culture if they just wrote better SOP’s. This is the ‘hall monitor’ approach: give me more rules and I will be empowered. One cannot redefine the world by redefining language. We cannot introduce matters of opinion into descriptive terms of objective reality. A person with little money is ‘poor’ not ‘the victim of economic inequality’. Terms which carry hateful, opinionated connotations do indeed need to be replaced. But projecting a theory onto every situation and redefining the terms? Ridiculous, inaccurate, group-think, the beginning of totalitarianism.

This recognition that Wokeness is a step toward totalitarianism is refreshing. Stephens’s assertion that it is doomed to fail because of the structure of American government and society? I’m not so sure. I would like it to be true, but I have lived too long through the simple—ketchup is a vegetable—and the complex—there were fine persons on both sides—to believe this constant assault on reality will diminish and ultimately fail. Our would-be emperors are often naked, and we must constantly point this out to the gullible.

Let’s might…

Public domain photograph (edited); source unknown

Repression–good for the soul?

Admitting the demons

Of ‘What if’ and

‘Why not’ and ‘Let’s might’–‘Sssh,

‘Let us; let us

Just take over.’

Wait. They. Might. Might, might

Actually demand

Equal time, no,

All the time, no, the center stage,

No, spotlit, center of

‘What I want to do!’, of

‘Look at me!’ of ‘No one

Doesn’t need to know.’

Embarrassment in a

Neat package. Better

To shove it down, screw lid

Tight, take it out, peer through

Glass infrequently,

Remembering.

Yes. Better.

Better.

Better?