What is the Value of Art?

Here is a bit of spoken word poetry I just wrote called, What is the value of Art.

“Center of All”

What is the value of art?

It is our birthright, our education,

it’s the smashing of all our limitations,

it’s the last breath as death collects us

In an ever winding energy nexus

It’s the movement of words and thoughts and dreams

Of a plurality of reality, and a sequence of scenes  

It’s what’s delicious and nutritious for the mind and soul

So luscious and rich with wonders to behold

It’s our essence and presence as a universe to witness

A study of truth and the quickest path to fitness

Of our species survival all threatened by meaninglessness

In the hearts of greed where we find only deafness

Or daftness and a lack of meaningful madness

This Art is our madness, our collective sadness,

All balled up and beat up long past the gladness

It’s the laughter of life and the meaning of love

It’s the universe in our hands and as below so above.

So you ask, what is the value of art?

It’s all this and more

For our humanity

is lost

if we lose

it’s core.

A Wistful Winter

A long cold walk on a nature trail on a snowy day sometimes leads to self reflection and sometimes creative fire. Here’s something I wrote on a long walk this afternoon.

A Wistful Winter

The cold strips us bare as it works its way through our layers with terse touches

Its winding work penetrates below where our heartbeats, and spreads its cold kiss

But there is stillness here in the cold and long nights.

All the dead leaves are waiting, resting, in soft snowy stillness.

Peaking above the white dusting, leaves show their faded colors,

But only for a moment, before they retire to rest.

As should you.

And perhaps when we retire we will remember the silence by the hearth as we rub our hands diligently in gratitude toward a flickering flame

And the fire will teach us light and warmth in a period of long darkness

It is how we measure things that matters.

Our self-measurement is much like the falling snow,

Frail and wispy.

But in great number it can pack weight and depth,

Hanging heavy on our heart.

In stillness, we can watch it cascade from the sky and let it be.

How will you measure now that you took your first peak above the layer of cold and dark?

And as we walk on white paths lined with skeletal memories like some undiscovered country,

Will you feel a snowflake give its life as it casts itself onto the warmth of your face and flesh?

And when you return to home and safety,

Will you stoke the fires of your emotions as you stoke a log with your intention and iron?

Can you cast sparks like stars into the long dark?

Mind those sparks,

For those little pinpricks of light are a map to your soul.

If you trace the path, you will find the warm fertilizer of being

There is no better moment than now to look and see

An Anagram for 2020 (in rhyme)

Black Steam Train on Building
Go to hell 2020

Let’s be honest, 2020 was a train wreck no matter how you look at it. As the year winds down I find myself reflecting on all the crazy stuff that happened in the last year. It’s pretty unbelievable how much has happened so, I thought I would create a humorous way of remembering the years insanity with a little poem…

An Ode to 2020 in Anagram

A is for Abomination because after the failure of our political leadership this year I needed liberal libations with a side of alliteration.

B is for that bathroom turned bog, because when you can’t buy toilet paper and you have a clog it causes a major backlog.

C is Czech Republic, cause when Poland accidently invades you, you gotta make that shit public

D is for the Dog that was born green. People thought it was a prank, but apparently it wasn’t trying to make a scene.

E is for Election for a new president’s selection. A lot of misinformed people had an objection and called for further inspection, but the courts gave it a rejection.  

F is for Fucked. This year sucked.

G is for Gas, oil prices dropped low, after the conflict Russian and Saudi Arabia, they had nowhere else to go.

H is for Hornets of the Murder kind, they were here and gone fast so I guess… never mind?

I is for Impeached, cause watching Trump’s pathetic attempt to defend himself was like watching a whale that’s beached.

J is for all the jobs lost, and that while many suffer, the Senate and McConnell were more concerned with spending costs.

K is for klaxon, you know, the warning bell. Rona made us see all the things in our culture that weren’t going so well.

L is for long. No rhyme needed, but perhaps I could write a song about how wrong it was to make a year this long?

M is for misinformation that spread across the nation, because half of us can’t tell the difference between correlation and causation.

N is for Novel, a word that means new, masks and stay at home orders were something we all needed to do.

O is for odd, that despite decades of evidence otherwise, people still believed in voter mail fraud and other lies.

P is for pathetic. We learned again that many people in our culture aren’t very empathetic and would rather believe rhetoric.

Q is for those who follow a conspiracy that ends in Anon. For this year they carried the crazy baton and didn’t realize it was nothing but a con. Perhaps they should follow their own advice to get over it and move on?

R is for Racism and Race. No matter how people protested, they were told it wasn’t the right time or place.

S is for star, you know, the one that went missing? That’s bizarre, and it’s not something we should be dismissing.

T is for Tiger King, but for the life of me I can’t understand why this was ever a thing.

U is for UFO’s because Aliens figured, why not keep us on our toes? The pentagon told us… ‘who the hell knows?’

V is for virus and vaccine because COVID-19 messed up our whole daily routine.   

W is for wildfire because half of Australia and the United States were practically a funeral pyre

X is for the exit to this year, Thank god the end is almost here. And for those of you who say that doesn’t start with x, let me assure you, doing this is pretty complex.

Y is for yellow because even though our president is orange, his behavior this year showed us he is a cowardly fellow

Z is for zig and zag, there was so many things that happened this year it made it seem like we lived in a time lag.

I hope you got a chuckle or three out of this. May the year 2021 bring you happiness and joy and the end of all things insane.

Ache in the Bones.

It’s been quite a while since I did any poetry or artwork, so, here’s some new stuff. I call this one Ache in the Bones


Ache in the Bones

Aching Bones

My bones ache,

And it’s something I can barely take.   

But I look at myself and try to break from the heartaches and earthquakes of those woes and worries that I just can’t seem to shake.  

Do I enjoy them?

Do I employ my messes to solve my problems and downplay the stresses?  

Or do I conjure up more problems and conundrums, unsolvable riddles and endless questions

Do I ignore the suggestions?

See?

I see.

I see what I do,

I know what I’ve been through and am starting to understand the things that I do

To increase my own suffering and the karma that I accrue

Programmed

It’s the underlying program at work,

It’s the ways that I was a jerk,

Or the way that I lurked around my own blindspots to ignore to rot

Most of my life I followed the toxic attitudes I was taught,

Never letting myself see the light,

Instead, I fight

I fight for the right to bury my head in the sand, rather than expand

My mind, or maybe find the things that I hide behind

You just gotta move forward?

What’s forward is back,

How can you choose to move forward when you’re stuck on the wrong track?

You gotta attack those toxic flashbacks if you wanna bounce back from the blackest night

If you ever want to be alright

What happened to me wasn’t my fault

But that doesn’t mean I have to keep pouring salt, on the wounds from the assault

If I just live in default mode and lock it in a vault, how can I ever erode the pain or decode this heavy load?

Healing’s a lot of guesswork,

Like I’m not even supposed to be here, I’m just an innocent clerk

But That’s my party pity, my last attempt being witty

Before I deal with the pain…

But trauma? Trauma is like an oncoming train, and you can’t refrain from standing on the tracks that live deep inside your brain

But it’s just a game, just some lame excuse to frame my history in an event to pretend like some of it was a mystery

Things happen to us.

But we happen to others too.

Recovery from trauma might make you feel pretty blue, maybe you can barely stand the things you went through or the debts you accrued

But that doesn’t mean I can take it out on others,

Others are my sisters and brothers

On the path

And can you do the math? If we keep walking this path, we’ll face the wrath

Of our actions, of our overreactions and we will find ourselves making factions, rather than taking the course that leads to the best actions for all beings

I’m far from perfect, but I’m practicing seeing,

Practicing just being,

To be a better human being.



Unfinished

White Jigsaw Puzzle Illustration

A few weeks ago I went on an anthropology retreat with the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology. What is an Anthropology Retreat? It’s a space for anthropologists and other social scientists to converse over issues in the field, their research, and trade ideas.

One of the things this retreat often features is a poetry writing workshop… The theme of the retreat was unfinished, and so I wrote a short poem in relation to the weekend and the concept that our work is always changing and growing and mutating. Here it is.

Unfinished…

Unfinished?

Why do we always feel like something unfinished leave us so diminished?

And How did it become an obscenity to consider our identity a fluent and ever changing entity?

It seems as if all of the threads that we must contend with force us to apprehend our knowledge

and suspend our disbelief that life has some kind of clear beginning and clear end.

It’s taken me a long time to accept the concept that I am part of the whole, not an individual soul or that I do play a role in this oppressive system of capitalistic control

I have to ask myself, What is the cost of this toll?

Life and culture is constant progress and process

I think the dead ends haunt us like an absess because we obsess with the mess and stress of maintaining false binaries that we aren’t allow to transgress

One or the other back and forth west and east, south and north.

We have to fit things in neat boxes before we set forth

But in outer space there is no single direction and often the project left unfinished is no real transgression

And sometimes the way forward is to stop and consider your own reflection

Especially if you yearn to learn the lessons as you pull that wheel for a uturn

But really, it’s okay to turn back and leave something unfinished

And since not much rhymes with unfinished? That’s where this poem is going to stay

I AM a Mistake

New poem I wrote this morning. The text is at the bottom after the video.

 

I AM a mistake

I am a mistake

Not in the sense that my birth was accidental,

Or that my parents weren’t overly sentimental

About me coming into this world all cranky and temperamental

 

I am a mistake

Rather I am a serious of flubs and fuck ups

A never ending calamity of false starts and blowups

A breakup, a checkup a buildup a burnup

A constant crisis of startup and windup

 

I’m the guy who has to learn shit the hard way

Hell, I’ll probably bring about my own personal doomsday

My luck is rotten and

I’ve already forgotten

the lessons I just learned

When I got seriously burned

But I know it’s really all my fault

You don’t have point that out or pour on the salt

 

I’m always thinking about the choices I’ve made

And the prices of paid

Or The ways I have strayed from my path

Ending up alone and afraid

I should have gone, I should have stayed

If only that message could have been better conveyed

Those are thoughts that never seem to fade

It’s as if with every passing decade, my mind seems parade all the mistakes I have made so that I feel like inside there is an endless tirade

 

You’d think I’d be ready to say enough is enough

But even though things have been pretty rough

I’m still standing, I’m still moving, though sometimes it’s tough

 

But you know what? I’m fine with it

You might think I’m stupid or full of shit

Or Maybe I’m just too foolish to quit?

Perhaps I’m too prideful and arrogant

But I think, I’m finally ready to admit

 

I like who I am, mistakes and all

Sometime I laugh when I recall

The fist fights and brawls

The late nights and close calls

The angry cougar who liked to maul me with her paw when she was under the influence of alcohol

It’s hard to recall it all with out feeling like I’m in free fall

 

I am a mistake

Until now, my life has felt like purgatory

So much felt routine and mandatory

A hoary momento mori

Signifying nothing but sound and fury

But you know what I realized?

That shit is only a made up story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solitary Spring

Poem and Artwork are titled Solitary Spring

Solitary Spring

Solitary Spring

Let me tell you my secrets
Shall we unearth them?
Unbury the bones?
Expose the truth?

All winter I lay dormant
Scratching madly at the lid of my coffin
Until my fingers bleed
Until I am ready to peel back the skin
And let the bones leave their marks

Sometimes I need that pain,
Skin raw, muscles exposed
Salt in the open wound,
Cold on warm skin
A taste of madness
An itch I must scratch

At least until,
A single ray of sun
Pierces my resting place
A hint of air
Grants me a breath

I push my way up,
Through wood and earth
I paint with blood
A unique language
An epic tale

Bracing my bones,
There is no one else to help me,
Not really
I am a wanderer
A Self-Made Sorcerer
Apprentice of Death laying dormant

I widen the hole,
fingers clawing for greater purchase
My fist bursts forth into the crisp spring air
And I taste hints of winter’s recent passage

I gulp
Stealing the scent of flowers
I am thief
But a professional

I push my wounded hands upward
Splinters become my bones
They take root and begin to grow
Small sprouts
Budding

I emerge
Only bones without flesh
I drag out my remains out and lay flat
Warming in the sun
I could go back
But I stay
Despite great danger

That air,
Those flowers,
New growth in my bones
The glimpse of a clear blue sky,
All tempt me

And who am I to resist the temptress?

A Few Thoughts Before Dreaming

Thoughts Before DreamingA Few Thoughts Before Dreaming

Pigeons shitting on the car.
Streaks of white,
Cleaned off,
To happen again,
So much for the car wash.

The gum I stepped in,
A faithful passenger,
Creating sticky situations,
And semi-sucking noises.
No ninja here.

The beautiful stranger who smiled at me,
Sending transmissions like shockwaves.
Envisioning the possibility of love and marriage and happiness,
A tale of forever…
Followed by inevitable divorce.

Socks getting lost in blankets.
Tossing.
Turning.
Mind wandering to extravagant places with unfortunate problems.
A sigh,
An unpaid bill.
A sigh,
Things left undone.
A sigh,
Things left unsaid.

Then,
A deep breath.
I listen,
For the stillness,
For the wind,
For the hint of raindrops,
For the naked air wrapped in a cloak of day and night
In it, I find the beating of my own heart,
Matched with the music of the leaves outside,
Gently rustling.
Just a little song.
I remember beauty.
I remember love.
I remember life.
As my eyes slip shut.

 

Hope

hope

Hope

Hope

It takes a child,
To measure our pride,
To softly know of simple love.
What wonder is finite
In the universe of imagination?
By what measurements can we justify
The boundless design of simple curiosity?
There is hope beyond the ‘me’ and ‘mine’ of early ignorance.
An amalgamation of then and now.
It is the breaking lose of joy that accompanies compassion
It is the skipping of rocks across a pond,
And the simple sharing in water in singular moments.
Yes, it takes a child,
To show me the way back.

A Reliable Cycle

A Reliable CycleA Reliable Cycle

Car stalls.
Stillness in the early morning.
No sun yet.
Fog and cloud mingle with the full moon like tendrils grasping for possession.
I wait.
Engine turns over.
On the road again.
The moon devoured.
A sky bound feeding frenzy.
Deep darkness.
Car stalls.
5 miles to go
I wait.
Engine turns over.
On the road again.
The moon escapes the maw.
It makes a dash for freedom.
The tendrils lose their grip.
Moon slides behind a mountain.
I am jealous.
No reprieve for me.
Car stalls.
2 miles to go
I wait.
Engine turns over.
On the road again.
The sun paints the sky with its morning yawn.
Color at war with the vast armies of the night.
A reliable cycle.
A predictable outcome.
Car Stalls.
A half mile to go.
I wait.
Engine turns over.
On the road again.
The sun douses me with its first light.
I am radiant.
I am blinded.
I am almost there.
50 feet to go.
Car stalls.