Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sing it Again

Sing me a song of a bright peerless dawn 
Under crystalline cloudless skies, 
Where the air breathes clean 
Over mountain and stream 
And the golden eagle flies.

Sing me a song of the land that I love 
In a gentle lullaby, 
Where I can live free 
In sublime liberty 
As the years roll quietly by.

Sing me a song of a patriot’s dream 
And his fearless battle cry, 
With his ungrudging guile, 
His will and his wile 
And the fire in his eye. 

Sing me a song about freedom’s hope 
With the soothing strains of violin. 
Sing softly and sweet 
And when it’s complete, 
If you don’t mind, please, 
Sing it again. 

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Friday, May 26, 2017

War Changes Everything

Don’t know why we all can’t simply get along 
As a people, as a nation, as a realm. 
Clearly, there are differences 
Between what’s right and wrong. 
No need to let discussion overwhelm. 
But war changes everything.

We are children on a playground 
Running, laughing, wild and free 
Until some pretentious bully comes along 
Demanding tribute’s lame intimidation, 
Stirring trouble, insisting that we pirouette 
To his self-serving song. 
Yes, war changes everything.

Patience stretches just so far 
Til common sense prevails. 
Only one thing to be done 
To pass these dire travails. 
Must stand tall, must forestall this 
Brutish cold incursion. 
Force to force is all the tyrant
Understands in his perversion.

But even when we win, we fail 
In losses beyond measure.
Young men die and loved ones weep 
Protecting the ideas they treasure…
Because war changes everything.

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Walking the Perimeter


It might just be the loneliest job 
Necessity ever created, 
A mindless abandonment of willful thought 
Meant only to keep the wolf subjugated.

Walking in lockstep with himself, 
Weapon at ready to challenge on sight, 
Waiting, watching, now watching some more 
For shape-shifting phantoms stalking the night.

Desperately striving to stave off the beast of sleep. 
Eyes open, must stay alert. 
Gazing out into the wide swathe of nothing 
Til memory forestalls and senses pervert.

How much longer? How many more steps 
Til this ceaseless night comes to conclusion? 
Up again, down again, making the rounds again 
Til the night is a mask of illusion.

It’s a thankless task, 
But someone must do it. 
Millions have managed before 
To get through it. 
He walks the perimeter, keeping his keep 
While armies of millions are sound asleep. 

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Learn from Yesterday

“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”
                                                                      George Santayana


We clearly keep making the same mistakes. 
You’d think we’d learn our lesson. 
Could it be we’re not paying attention, or 
Is it some kind of mem’ry regression.

It could simply be habit, or
Maybe we’re lazy. 
Perhaps we should blame the occult. 
We just do the same thing again and again 
Expecting a different result.

You might think with all of our rational thinking 
We’d learn to look back on the past 
And learn from the errors of yesterday
And the caution their warnings forecast.

Painted on a larger canvas, 
Juxtaposed and brought to scale, 
The errors of the past deliver 
Advice for these perplexing travails.

Nations turn and history records 
The gruesome résumé, and 
Hopes become fantasy if we fail to 
Learn from yesterday.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Believe in Tomorrow

The gilded game of life is finite; 
All too soon it comes to end, 
And the promise on tomorrow 
Holds no faithful guarantee. 
But this affords no reason for 
Forsaking fondest dreams. There are 
Far too many wondrous episodes 
The mind cannot foresee.

Fortune pales without tomorrow’s pledge of 
Life, in all its finery, 
That promenades the passageways 
Of fondly fashioned destiny.

And brave imagination grows its promise 
Of a hope-filled fate 
Where splendid fruitful gardens of desire 
Patiently await.

Disquiet for the future 
Is adept at stealing joy away, 
But believing in tomorrow is no reason 
To forsake today.

So, here’s a plan: to make a plan, 
To plead, pilfer or borrow, 
To face the trials of today 
Believing in tomorrow.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

The Color of My Skin  

Please, I ask, don’t hate me for the color of my skin.
This superficial coating isn’t really all I am. 
I promise I will judge you not; 
Might even call you friend 
In an all-inclusive parallelogram.

It’s not my fault that I was born to 
Parents who are white; 
A matter over which I’ve no control. 
And though I cannot understand 
Your struggle or your plight, 
Perhaps we’ll find some commonality inside our souls.

Traditions demand loyalty to generations past 
To perpetuate the evil as well as the sublime, 
Making changing attitudes a glacierous affair, 
Another Everest implausible to climb.

We wait, we pray the world will grant us favor 
That transgressions of the past may be absolved. 
We reach a hopeful hand across the table 
And the interaction softens our resolve. 

I won’t apologize or ask forgiveness 
For the prior generations of my kin.
I only want to meet you looking forward, 
So, I ask you, please, 
Don’t hate me for the color of my skin.


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Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Dissident

It makes you wonder sometimes
Who these lame complainers are. 
Why don’t they simply get on board and 
March lockstep with the crowd?

Who do they really think they’re fooling 
With their roars and rallies and cries? 
Why do they seem so angry and 
Why are they so damned loud?

They are the voice of conscience. 
They are our soul’s sounding board. 
They’re nearby to give us balance 
When we’re falling on our sword.

A young and struggling nation 
Was quick to recognize 
That the scorching voice of dissidence 
Was the footpath to their prize.

The voices of Adams and Franklin and Paine 
Like a bell in sweet liberty’s day, 
Speaking of sovereignty, aching for freedom, 
Seeking, demanding! and willing to pay.

If not for these dissidents making their waves 
Our nation would never be free. 
And so, it’s essential to protect our right 
To speak volumes when we disagree.


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Don’t Blame the Soldier

Yes, it’s true. We lost this one. 
It did not turn out well. 
In spite of our might and the fact we were right 
The whole thing went straight to hell. 
But don’t blame the soldier.

The soldiers and sailors and brash leathernecks, 
The airmen and others untold, 
The boldest and bravest our nation could muster 
Could not change what was to unfold. 
So, don’t blame the soldier.

Unrest on the campuses, rioting streets 
Every night on the six o’clock news. 
Deceit and dissent a convenient excuse for 
Ill-twisted political views. 
No. don’t blame the soldier.

Let this be the lesson, and never forget 
If we dare task this nation to fight. 
If the goal is to win, we must go all in 
And our purpose be noble and right. 
And the soldier will follow, 
The soldier will serve without question. 
On that we depend. 
He’ll fight for his country
And the one who’s beside him 
Right through to the cold bitter end. 
So, please. Don’t blame the soldier.

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I Died (A Little) Today: The Letter Home

Dear Mom,
Sorry that I haven’t written to you for a spell. 
Things have been a little nuts around this crazy place. 
Sarge has had us pulling extra duty for a while 
What with Charlie lurking all around the base.

Rough day today. We were out there on patrol 
When our unit quickly came under attack. 
The fighting was so violent for a while 
I wasn’t even sure we’d make it back.

Truth is… not all of us returned. 
You remember my best friend, Billy Ray? 
I mentioned him to you in previous letters. 
Well… they’re shipping his remains back home today.

It all seemed to happen in an instant, 
We were talking what we’d do when we get home. 
Billy Ray had just told me some old dumb joke 
When the shots rang out. I turned and he was gone.

Don’t know if I can go back out tomorrow. 
I just want this stupid war to go away. 
The truth is, I think I’ll get past the sorrow, 
But a little piece inside me died today.

Don’t worry, Mom. I’m gonna be alright. 
Before you know it, my tour will be done. 
Gotta go for now. The Sarge is calling. 
We’ll be together soon. 
Love,
Your son

p.s. Tell Dad I love him.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

At the End of the Day

Morning awakens a jumbled agenda of 
Caffeine-fueled fluster and clamoring clashes, 
Maddening mashes and time-crunching dashes 
Sprinkled with flashes of 
Echoed backlashes. 

Onward and upward the dreaded commute, 
The bottlenecked bobblehead manic pursuit. 
Every halt or delay, every pothole in route
Sending blood pressure soaring in hosts of hot flashes.

The workaday fever a muster of frenzy 
Raving and ravaging every last nerve, 
Draining the tank til there’s no more reserve,
And giving much more than those bastards deserve.

But…
At the end of the day 
It all goes away. 
All the worries and flurries 
Removed from the fray, 
And a soft prayer of thanks 
To the One up above 
For the privilege to live 
In the land that I love.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

For Those Who Wait… and Weep

It is not just the soldier who goes to war 
To boldly face the lost and lonely nights, 
Wondering what the next event might stir 
In a world where reality forestalls his precious light.

Father, mother, sister, brother, precious child 
Cherished lover all in one, all in tow 
He muddles through the fallow furrowed trenches 
Of his mind enrobed in murky hues of faded indigo.

And he and she and they who are forced to wait 
In silent proxy know his peerless pain, 
Cry his tears, feel the deepest fears that fills his night, 
That end is near and he will never see his home again.

A mother weeps, a father keeps a stoic front 
That fools no one – fools no one – no, not one. 
Tear-stained letters from a patient lover far away 
Whose tender heart’s emotions are undone.

They will be with him every step of his travail 
As duty compels and he silently walks his keep. 
And faith never falters, and hope knows no holiday 
For those who wait… 
Those who wait… and weep. 

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Reach for the Moon (20 July, 1969)


Shall we reach for the moon? 
For the planets beyond? 
Do we dare break the bonds of 
This blue marble sphere? 
Or ought we intern 
In this staid domicile 
Til eternity catches us 
Trembling in fear?

The thirst for adventure, 
To search the unknown, 
To reach the unreachable 
Next milestone. 
Is the yardstick a test of our ability 
To stretch beyond reason irrationally?

We look to the heavens. 
We long for the stars. 
We wonder and dream about 
Life up on Mars.

What once an impossible 
Thought to commune 
Becomes commonplace 
As we reach for the moon.


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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Remember the Alamo

Be kind when you speak of the many brave souls 
Who gave their all at the Alamo
Against an overwhelming foe 
To win their freedom in Mexico.

With odds stacked as many as twenty to one 
The outcome foregone when the battle was done. 
And when the small fortress, at last overrun, with 
No prisoners taken, all is undone.

The beast, Santa Ana, no clemency lends 
As his horrible hoard on the mission descends. 
And Crockett and Bowie and Travers and friends 
Are doomed from the start to their ill-fated end.

Heroes and villains and legends are made 
As leaders emerge to conduct the crusade. 
And karma evokes a dear price to be paid 
When cannons erupt in intense fusillade.

And while San Jacinto’s fate softens the blow
In bringing an end to this imbroglio, 
When heroes are needed to make out pride glow 
We will always remember 
The Alamo.


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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Liberty’s Lighthouse

Standing on the precipice 
High above the pounding surf 
Where oceans feud with continents 
In clamorous retort, 
She lifts her lamp to launch a light of
Welcoming and warning,
A blaze of brilliant radiance to
Guide her wayward waifs to port.

Where do you live, sweet Liberty?
What stories will you tell?
Why such a heavy price to pay to
Ride your carousel?
Why must you be so hard to win and
Harder yet to keep?
So many brave souls fight and die,
So many mothers weep. 

Alas, we mortals need exist  
In all our frailty 
With but one passion, one desire to
Live perfectly free.
We guard the night
Prepared to fight forever and a day,
And Liberty’s steadfast lighthouse
Is there to light the way.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

If the World Could Be…

If the world could be 
What I want it to be, 
I would love to see 
All God’s creatures run free. 

All the fish in the seas 
Every bird in the trees 
All in sweet harmony 
Like a Brahms symphony. 

And the people agree 
With a joyous esprit 
To the posh potpourri,
Such a grand jamboree. 

Every you, every me, 
Every he, every she 
Finds a new fantasy 
For all eternity, 

No more dark drudgery, 
No more debauchery. 
Kindness is the decree 
To the highest degree. 

Every heart filled with glee, 
Every life fancy-free, 
Love is our recipe. 
If only… 
If the world could be…

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

In Old Mexico

A vision of Manifest Destiny
Grows full to its measure of gravity 
To set a new nation ablaze down 
In old Mexico. 

And all of the bluster and fluster and flame
Erupts in a cluster of claim/counterclaim 
To rattle the sabers of battle 
In old Mexico.

Vast fever and fervor, in all of its glory, 
Lays claim the expanse of immense territory 
And nobody wants to let go down 
In old Mexico.

Heroes are born and armies demise 
With cannons erupting without compromise 
And no one is safe from undoing 
In old Mexico.

But old Santa Ana is no match for Scott. 
He has no defense from this bold juggernaut, 
So, compromise finally prevails down 
In old Mexico.

And when, in the end, the victory won, 
Manifest Destiny simply rolls on, 
But nothing is ever the same down 
In old Mexico.


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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Respect

Yes, sir. No, Ma’am. Excuse me. Thank you. Please.
Only words.
Only words?
All a sign of a disappearing breed.
Too seldom heard.
Seldom heard.
 
Take your hats off. That’s the colors passing by.
Silence, please.
Silence, please.
Millions fought and many died so she can proudly fly
In the breeze,
The gentle breeze.
 
Keep safe distances else we intrude a neighbor’s space.
“Off my case.”
“Out of my face.”
Find the proper interval for comfort’s interface.
Show some grace.
Own your place.
 
Worth is but a drifting ship and
Values vague and circumspect,
But we are lost without a sail
When we lose respect,
When we lose respect.
 
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Breathe

Take a moment…
          Take a beat…
Just breathe.
Be amazed by graces you might find
Sleeping in dark passages where
Dreams are known to dwell,
Seeded deep inside a tranquil mind.
 
Close your eyes…
          Rest your thoughts…
Just breathe.
Teased, the fickle dantian brings chi
To rise in silent eyes,
Brings tension to a swift demise
And sets a weary spirit free.
 
Count your blessings…
          Muse your boon…
Just breathe.
The mind can be truly a transporting chair,
A vehicle able to roam anywhere.
And all may book passage to go there if you will
Just breathe.
 
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Life Goes On

Heralds blast harsh bugle’s bray,
The harbinger of sad report,
And time is scattered in the breath
Of outcomes unacceptable.
 
Left alone to sink or swim in
Torrents of survivor’s guilt,
The numbness settles over
Until joy is imperceptible.
 
And fairness is a kudzu vine
That strangles everything in reach
Til madness becomes logic’s bane
And sadness transcends common sense.
 
But sadness is a masquerade
That trades reality for peace
And suffers guilt for pity’s sake
Without the joy of recompense.
 
And I and you and he and she
And we will all be better served
To overflow by letting go
And find the peace we so deserve.
 
What’s done is done.
What’s gone is gone.
For those remaining…
Life goes on.
 
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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pray for Peace

Young ones marching off to war
Into some hellish hinterland.
Pray for peace.
 
Raucous rumblings charge the night to
Spread across the no-man’s land.
Pray for peace.
 
Dauntless dangers stalk the strand
Threatening the Motherland
As we rise to take our stand and
Pray for peace.
 
Makes no difference if you don’t
Believe there is a promised land.
Pray for peace.
 
No one will think ill of you or
Bring you under reprimand.
Pray for peace.
 
Whether sage of firebrand,
Atheist or pious man,
Grace bestows the upper hand.
Pray, pray for peace.
 
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Monday, May 08, 2017

Neighborhoods

Oft’ times I stroll about meadows green
Or deep into the stately wood,
But more than not these measured treks
Traverse the local neighborhood.
 
I love a morning, crisp and clean,
Where mindfulness is understood,
But I avoid the burrs and ticks
If I simply stroll the neighborhood.
 
All these mirrored cookie-cutter houses
Built so long ago
Morphed by dwellers, claw and nail,
To suit their tastes and temperament.
 
At times, it can be better
Than a moving picture show,
And here am I to soak up
Every nuance, every element.
 
A chain-link-split-rail-picket fence
To hide-divide each precious patch.
Goblins, sprites and garden gnomes,
Sons and fathers playing catch.
 
This house, this lawn neat and tidy,
That one an ungodly mess.
Some with roses full in bloom,
Others fully flowerless.
 
Amazing all the sights you see,
A medley of the grim and good,
A blending of humanity exists
In every neighborhood.
 
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Friday, May 05, 2017

The Defense of Baltimore

She was the key, this tidy port,
This haughty, so-called pirate’s nest
Standing defiant in her measure
To lash and seize and hoard her reward.
 
To capture this prize and bring her to heal
Could go far in quelling this newborn unrest
And teach these upstart scallywags
The might of their former overlord.
 
But Lord Baltimore’s children had different ideas,
Amassing in fields and thickets and woods
Saying “Let them come” marching in rank and file.
We’ll cut them to ribbons and end this for good.
 
So, Ross with his army, his pomp and his pride
Embarks from the point on his fateful ride.
He speeds to the front in his rakish attire
To be felled in the flash of sharpshooter fire.
 
And when on the field the armies collide
In a battle that lasted only one day,
The Redcoats concede to superior force
And exit the pitch without further delay.
 
The ships in the harbor lay waste to McHenry
As the noble flag continues to waive,
And a nation grows up by the dawn’s early light
As the land of the free and the home of the brave.
 
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Monday, May 01, 2017

Old Hickory’s War

Didn’t we fight this war before?
Same foe, same show as just a few short years ago.
Guess we didn’t get the point across;
They failed to learn their lesson.
Don’t scoff. Hands off!
Or you’ll get caught in the undertow.
 
Time to launch our secret weapon,
Though secret may not be the word.
Ol’ Hick’ry fit the Injun Wars,
Took the fearsome band to task.
No compromise, no questions asked,
This raging, sullen thunderbird.
 
So, off we march to New Orleans,
This ragtag, squirrel-gun toting troop,
To face the finest, fittest force
His Majesty can muster,
To put an end, once and for all,
This brash attempt at foreign rule,
To firmly quash the British might
And all its Parliamentary  bluster.
 
But Old Hickory took it all in stride.
He led, he fought, he won.
And every mother’s child reveres
The newborn nation’s favorite son.
 
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