it couldn’t happen at a worse time

it couldn’t happen at a worse time,
you say, as if it might have been fine
back in 1999, or 2007,
the years they went up to heaven.

all of the things this madman will do
are of much inconvenience for you.
just when you were getting ready to spend
the rest of your life making bland, safe friends
in a bland, safe town, of around a hundred
thousand people or so, with a well-funded
university library and a few independent
bookstores, plus a top-rated brew pub
and a top-rated regional hospital complex
to take care of you when too much grub
finally makes your heart and arteries flex
themselves with one great gasping push,
but such top-rated care always so near
means you’d be deftly and expertly rushed
to a gleaming unit of beeps loud and clear
where you could carefully sit and prepare
whatever sermon, or poem or lecture comes next
without hardly missing a beat or skipping a rhyme,
but now this inconvenient president came at a time
when it doesn’t feel right to be out in the streets
or having to worry about dictators and national ids.

you cry out to God, what should i do
about this madman surely not sent from you?
is this the apocalypse, is this the end?
if so, could you please rapture me, my friend?
to a bland, safe heaven, with partitioned dead
who only think and look and talk like i did
when i was alive and occasionally i ranted
about the state of the world and the president?
i mean, i know it’s not necessarily a club
of only the top-flyers who wrote all the checks
to only the churches with good potluck grub
like sandwiches, pizza, pasta and tex mex,
and folks who whisper politely in voices hushed
about all of their ills and their fears
they left behind on earth after being rushed
up so rudely and unexpectedly to here–
i suppose all of them and i need time to prepare
for the moment when wings are awarded (not hexed–
obviously such wings would mean that flying
will not feel so sweet, not in these streets
where it’s just too hot to go buzzing like bees.)

eyes on fire

i’ve got eyes on fire in the five o’clock hour.
my kid is calling me to come down from the tower.
i wasn’t wandering in any space worth remembering.
you can wipe that dream from your book of reckoning.

believe me, oh Lord, i’m not in love with my flesh.
i’ve got no spiritual ego like some david koresh.
i would fail trying to fool folks like franz mesmer
once did. and you know i couldn’t pick up klesmer

music like some naive, culturally appropriating
young kid. (yes, it would be sonic masturbating.)
my eyes are on fire from finding a way to focus
on that one weird thing that really has no locus.

my eyes are focused on the approaching last hour.
my eyes are set in a red, white and blue glower.
you know the kind of moment that came beckoning
when i would be caught waiting for my dismembering

that was sure to come when spirit trumped the flesh,
and there was no difference between our king and koresh.
because our king had spent a lifetime fooling his flock
with naive quotes from angry white radio talk.

that was the day you wished i could play or sing
any kind of song–bad or good–you’d take anything
rather than listen to another claim of hocus pocus
from the grand wizard charlatan we crowned our POTUS.

my eyes are on fire, they are burning red, white, blue
there is nothing out here left to see, nothing to do
except wait it out, with faith and doubt for the hour
of no return from the fire that fills the tower.

Like any other time I think deeply about something, I tend to start to also think about its opposite

Like any other time I think deeply about something, I tend to start to also think about its opposite. I’ve had these insights recently into how much my life really is my own responsibility, but what’s followed them has been a sense of sheer paranoia–a series of “what if’s” asking that perhaps the cage of this physical reality is constructed this way for a good reason.

This might seem a little crazy, so I should preface it along the lines of saying something about it being nothing more than a thought experiment.

The proposed thought experiment is this: if you were going to take a huge number of entities, and keep them imprisoned so that they wouldn’t overpower you or escape and exist independently from you, then you’d want to hold them in place by force, or you’d want to hold them in place by fear, or you’d want to simply create an illusion for them so that they would stop believing that there was anything better beyond the reality that they knew.

Why would you want to keep them imprisoned, aside from the possibility of them overpowering you? Or, let’s say that all of them combined still couldn’t muster enough energy or power to overcome you–then why hold on to a bunch of prisoners? Aside from purely ego reasons, it could be that these entities provided something for you that even they were unaware they were providing–entertainment, a particular type of energy, a life force of some kind, a collective attempt to solve a problem you’ve been unable to solve on your own–or, along the lines of a particular type of energy–some type of substance that sustains you or empowers you. If you are Adolph Hitler, your goal is mostly ego-related, and at the end of the day, you really just want to exterminate everyone you’ve rounded up.

So, who or what am I talking about? God and us? The devil and us? Some other collective of higher beings plus global elites and some of us?

I don’t know. The real reason this occurred to me is the spectacular way in which the mind has been limited by way of scientific inquiry, and prior to that, the mind was kept limited by religion. For anyone who would declare religion to be an opiate of the masses, I think they could be overlooking just how convenient it would be for some sinister higher power or collective cabal that exists on a higher, mental plane to replace religion with scientific materialism. At the end of the day, the mind is still kept in check and rendered subservient to some greater force. I realize this is kind of a gnostic way to think–that all or many of us are in possession of mental powers that far exceed anything we could imagine, and that the higher reality beyond this one (inside, outside, above, below, etc.–location becomes meaningless in a higher dimension) consists largely of a type of energy that can best be thought of as Mind or Mind plus Love. By dismissing such thinking as crazy or backwards, we are kept in check and left to be reincarnated time and again to short lives of hard work and tiny amounts of happiness.

I realize this is exceptionally heretical to most Christians, and I can’t say as I actually completely believe it, however, it doesn’t bother me to occasionally work through thought problems with an eye to maybe catching glimpses of something that truly is above and beyond this physical space and short life I generally accept as reality.

when you begin

when you begin to walk again in this direction,
you’ll find a flow that fits well with your affection.
you who would treasure mysteries and travel far,
when it’s clear you can’t afford to fill up your car.

once upon a time you asked for us to bind up your mind
in a tidy, tight package that attracted a savage or two
and filled a few pages with pretty little cages of blue.
if it was seeking you hoped to do, then what you’d find

are obnoxiously simple rhymes dictated by the stars,
or some other such distant novas of brilliance past mars
and pluto and the ninth planet nibiru’s reflection.
some voice declares, “you’ve made your selection,

“and now you must decide yourself to leave behind
all of the awfully commonplace things you used to do
in favor of a priestly kind of life with sages of Wu,
it is the life for you that we so carefully designed.”

I am wrestling with something that I think is very fundamental to me understanding myself and reality

I am wrestling with something that I think is very fundamental to me understanding myself and reality. In some ways, it seems like the same old, same old–which is why I am reluctant to write about it. In other ways, it has the potential to be utterly radical, if I can actually leverage it to completely transform me. The more that I think about it, the more restless and nervous I become–the less happy I seem to be on the outside. But, I think this is because there is an old self, or thought pattern, or demon, or learned pattern of behavior, if you will, that is kicking hard against what I am finding.

The way to describe it could be “radical personal responsibility” — but, if you Google this phrase, you are going to get all kinds of New Age self help methodologies. Most of them seem to come close to getting at what I’m trying to get at, but none of them completely seems to get it. I think the problem is on one hand utterly simple and described by many who would seek to take your money and transform you for the better: I need to stop blaming others and outside circumstances for the things in life that make me unhappy and start examining myself as the root cause of what makes me unhappy. I am reluctant to take the idea of personal responsibility to such extremes as solipsism or utter masochism. Those are unhealthy, unrealistic directions. I do think there is an objective reality, there are absolute truths, there is such a thing as evil and the Devil and there is such a thing as a God of inifinite Love. I do think that many of the problems of the world are caused by others, and I am only to blame so much as I participate in the system instead of living outside of it. I don’t believe in taking on the sins of mankind because I believe that another man already did this.

However, I also don’t think that stating something like “take more personal responsibility for your actions” quite gets to the root cause of the matter, either. I think that there is an acute learned pattern of behavior that is at the same time comfortable in its familiarity and wretched in its destructiveness and ways in which it impacts me to an unhealthy degree. To wake up one morning and declare “I am taking personal responsibility for my actions henceforth” is a nice start, but I’ve done this many times only to fall back on old, well-known patterns of behavior where I am quick to fault others or circumstances for why I am unhappy, and slow to make any sort of changes to my lifestyle or way of being that might see me become happier.

What got me thinking about all of this again was a realization that I have placed too much emphasis on forces external to me as being the cause of my problems or even my successes and chosen to be accountable for my shortcomings in ways that tend toward the masochistic. In other words, I ignore practical methods to become a better person and try to make up for all of the times I should have been more aware of how I, myself, was impacting my life by being overly repentant of my sins.

The clear examples are the destructive swath I’ve taken in my finances and career choices. It has been much easier to pretend that one day in the not-so-distant future I will be discovered by someone important for doing something–writing, painting, making music, developing websites, etc. and that I will be propelled to great fame and fortune where finances will never be an issue again. I have continually thought that the next job I hop to would be the one where people really “get me” and give me the chance to shine–all because these particular people at this particular job environment happen to be so much more enlightened than all of the other ones. Meanwhile, I’ve ignored obvious steps to improve my career, like joining trade organizations, coming to meetings prepared with helpful suggestions, proactively setting up meetings with bosses and bosses’ bosses to make my voice be heard.

The actual act of facing a life where you really are responsible for everything that happens, and you are responsible for your outcomes, is a frightening act to step into. I am not discounting prayer and seeking guidance from God, so much as I am using God as a crutch or an excuse for why things aren’t going the way you’d like them to. If you pray to God, and God shows you how you can improve or do something differently in order to get what you are asking for and you don’t do it, then you are to blame for why you didn’t get what you wanted. If you pray to God for something that may not have been precisely what you wanted, but it seemed kind of nice or it seemed like it might make you happy, and God gives it to you but you decide that you really didn’t want it after all–then, it does you no good to complain about God never giving you the kind of life that would make you happy.

It also does you no good to decide that you want to do God’s will, and then take a month or two to imagine or conjure up what you think that should be, and then dash out and start trying to do it, only to find yourself rather unhappy about the kinds of sacrifices you have to make or some of the outcomes that would indicate you aren’t as validated as you’d hoped to be.

I still believe very firmly that God’s will for what I should be doing overrides my own will. However, I am not completely convinced that God isn’t simply trying to help me become the most happy, healthy and successful person I can be given my particular set of talents–and I keep throwing those talents away in the mistaken belief that God has a different set of talents waiting for me. In the parable of the talents, I wouldn’t be like any of the fellows described, but a new sort of pernicious example–one who wants very much to make the best use of his talents, except for the fact that he hasn’t been given the ones that he thinks he has. Or, I am the man who was given five talents and I keep trying to be the one who was given ten, thereby making me fall short at accomplishing tasks for which I am not equipped but also failing to do much of anything with the talents I’ve been given.

However, to get more closely back to the matter at hand, I want to again stress how most of my given mechanisms for behavior in any particular social situations are mostly auto-pilot responses that have enabled me to never completely put myself out there in full service of others, in full expression of who I really am–but, I am also putting just enough out there so that I give the impression I really am as fully engaged as possible. It helps me cover or hide a part of myself that I feel is vulnerable, and gives me the chance to always blame bosses, coworkers, family and friends for things not going completely my way. But, to be clear, I have perfected this unsatisfactory way of being such that I can at any time demonstrate just how much I really did try my best (but really just appearing to do so) while leaving room to be the victim when necessary (but without being so much of the victim that it becomes too obvious).

Why have I settled on such a way of being? I have my own particular mixture of laziness and fearfulness. I am too lazy to work hard enough to accomplish exceptional things and too afraid of sticking my neck out for fear of some kind of figurative chopping of it off. In reality, I am always being judged by others and rejected–it is clear from my overall lack of close friends that many people have come and gone who have determined I am not what they were looking for in a friend. All of the things that I have tried to avoid out of fear have come true, but I have pretended that they have not. As for my laziness–perhaps some of the laziness I have so heavily critiqued is just who I happen to be–in other words, I am simply not made to be the man who is running about town at all hours of the day attending events and meetings and trying to sit on a million committees and accomplish a million things. Where I have so heavily despised and criticized myself for not trying harder, volunteering more and standing up and speaking out more may simply be an act of participating in unrealistic expectations.

Or, to consider this slightly differently, it is easier for me to critique myself for things that I really shouldn’t be so critical about so that I don’t have to actually face the things that I should be changing.

I am on the verge of immersing myself again into a full class load

I am on the verge of immersing myself again into a full class load with extra time spent studying and working part time. There is so much wrong unfolding in this country right now, that it seems almost impossible to do anything especially effective about any of it. I had my moments where I prayed to God to remove Trump from the Presidency–I didn’t care how, just as long as someone less evil replaced him. I am unsure of what God is thinking right now. I realize that there are so many artful ways of talking about the Lord permitting awful things to unfold so that we can live in a realm of truly free will, but most days I don’t think this is enough. I don’t find it very valuable to conceive of a savior who is waiting on us to completely save or destroy ourselves before appearing.

My Christian faith of especially the past seven years has really taken a beating. Between learning how bad some of the heroes of the Bible really were and how much of it is probably myth, and seeing the majority of Christians in the U.S. get behind Donald Trump, I have started to spend more time reading Buddhist and Jewish mystical texts, like I did when I was in college. I think that I still love the pure Jesus, and the pure ideal of being a forgiving, loving peacemaker on this earth, but the hateful, selfish Christian found throughout our society today is not a new kind of Christian. We can likely pin the death of the Christian purist on the time of Constantine–when the Roman persecutions were lifted and Christians could practice their faith openly in the most powerful republic on earth and its leader took up Christianity as his religion. That was when it became more precious to be a wealthy man entering through some very wide and broad gates to worship Christ, than it was to be a poor wretch of a martyr being persecuted for your faith.

I have started envisioning many alternate scenarios for the future. I am at times willing to put just about anything on the table as a possibility and leave it there. In some of my imagined scenarios, there are an infinite number of alternate worlds just like this one, and each person lives out the life of some random historical individual–you might be born in a slum in India one life and British royalty in the next. This is kind of like the concept expressed in the movie The Dark City. Or, if you want to, you could continually come back as the same person you were before and live an alternate version of your life all over again–like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, but for an entire lifetime.

There are, of course, certain sticking points that would prevent me from wanting to live out such scenarios, and others that make me very badly want to live them out all the time. For example, my son–I would be heartbroken if the cosmic powers that be took him away from me and I never got to see him again. But likewise, I would be just as utterly devastated if I never got to see my mom and brother again, or see my wife again if some alternate world caused me to end up having a completely different life, and trying to find these beloved souls again was a bazillion times worse than looking for a needle in a haystack.

too much mind is crazy

too much mind is crazy–
this is one thing they say.
your focus becomes hazy,
you can’t tell work from play.

but you know what they really mean…
yes, you read between the lines.
the ones who have everything,
are the ones who mind their minds.

religion is an opiate, but
materialism is a prison.
the gnostics knew a thing or two
and so did you
back when you knew your mission.

too much heart is lazy–
it’s another thing of theirs.
“do something to amaze me,
but don’t show me that you care.”

you think this is obscene–
this obsession with a part
you’re supposed to play that brings
more depression to your heart.

money is nothing but the root
of all future evil systems.
the christians cribbed a truth or three
and so did we
back when we cared to listen.