Saint Stephen

The prophet promised help, a song of hope floating in the morning light

love for the dandelion

Lilies blooming in the broken asphalt, begging to be considered

broken birds, with wings made of wishes

Saint Stephen by a chest full of arrows, got pinioned to a tree

while a thousand sparrows gathered in his branches

Garden ponds and baths gone dry, water stolen by the sun

cats cry at empty basins, biting at their fleas

Forgive them…the hungry and the homeless, living through the heat and cold

the lean dogs wandering the city

blessed are the meek

#Poetry

#Haiku

#Senryu

#Tanka

#Haibun

#TheBookofSparrows

Presidents Day – Monday, February 15th, 2021

Presidents are human beings.

They have all been men (so far), flawed men; everyone who has ever held the office has been flawed. Some have had heroic attributes, but all of them have had craven moments.

There have only been forty-six them, and we have just lived through the chaotic and criminal presidency of the 45th, ending with his second impeachment after a failed and hapless insurrection that he waged in a desperate and feeble bid to retain power, or simply to assuage his mad vanity…

Today the occupant of the oval office is a long serving government official, former Senator and former Vice President, the oldest man ever elected to the office, Joseph R. Biden, and it seems like he wants to do some good for the people of this country, which would be nice for a change since the government is meant to be there to work for us…all of us.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, a catastrophe that we have been struggling through for over a year; nearly half a million Americans have died from it, in large part do to the rank incompetence of the 45th President.

There is a lot of work ahead of us, and I do not know if we are up to it, but at least we have a President who understands that it is his task to hold us all-together while we try to get the work done.

We have a President who seems interested in doing more than simply manage the moment in front of us; his team, which includes the first woman to hold the office of Vice President, his team is looking past the pandemic, they are looking forward to the job of rebuilding our country, of redefining the American experience, of making the American Dream a reality that includes everyone, lifts the spirits of everyone, distributes what is just and good to everyone, cares for everyone, and leaves no-one behind.

We can do this; we can do it if we have the political will to push our elected representatives to do the right thing.

I for one am grateful that we have a new President, a hopeful President, but our problems go well beyond the ability of one man to fix, just as they go well beyond the scope of one man’s depravity.

Keep hope alive!

Observation – February 6th, 2021, Saturday

It is cold outside, but the sun is shining

The sky is striped, blue and white

I can feel the cold coming, seeping through the windows

The sun’s light through wavey glass

Snow clings to the limbs of my tree

Each flake a tiny prism from which the sun light leaps

And there is hope, today in America…there is hope

The End is the Beginning – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

01.22.2021

The End is the Beginning

It was with a great sense of relief that I watched Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take their oaths of office, watching in real time as the powers of the executive branch were taken up by a team of people who appear to be genuinely interested in helping our country through the multiple crises that have manifested themselves over the past year.

I was delighted to watch Donald Trump leave the White House and Leave Washington D.C. in keeping with his utter lack of respect for the office he held, and the traditions we hold so dear. I am glad that he didn’t try to pull some last-minute Trumpery to salvage his dignity…he has none.

There is not much more to say about the orange menace, now the toothless tiger except to express my desire to see him wither up and fade away. His legions of fanatics have already begun to turn on him, as well they should, he never deserved their loyalty, he never believed in their causes (not that their causes are worthy of believe and not that their loyalty was anything to covet), the man believes in nothing…not even in himself.

I would like to believe that we have learned a lesson from the past four years, but the election proved otherwise, the enemies of our republic, the foes of democracy have actually been empowered by Trump’s loss. The Trump presidency has given them a blue print, a tested set of tactics and stratagems to use against the American people in the next round…and they have already begun.

There are millions and millions more of us who look to the future of the country with hopeful eyes, and desire to participate in a plan that has us all working together for a better future, but there are still tens of millions of people who are lost in the fever swamps of conspiracy theories and alternative facts, people who get juiced when they participate in the big lie as they walk around in their fantasy world.

Most of us have the instinct to treat these lost souls with some degree of empathy, to feel sorry for them and even try to help them, and that is a good thing we should not stop feeling that way; we should hope for the best but prepare for the worst, because those Proud Boys, and boogaloos Q-publicans see the world in starkly different terms. They see their opponents as demonic, and themselves as the heroes of some kind of apocalyptic conflict, they are willingly being fleeced by a host of conmen and politicians who do not give a jot, not one tittle for their well-being.

The end is the beginning.

We have thrown out the trash but the landfill has become a superfund site and the waste is a toxic mess.

We have to stick together, all people of good conscience, we cannot let our guard down or allow ourselves to be caught up in petty squabbles that divide us from one another.

We have to rebuild America, turn the American dream into an American reality, fulfill the promise this grand experiment…we must.

A successful Biden administration, beginning with a successful first two years are essential to this prospect. If two years from now we have stymied ourselves with internal bickering, allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good, if we let the opposition stalemate us and frustrate our progress, we will lose the argument, the momentum and the opportunity to realize our goals.

We need the people to embrace a new mythology for the twenty-first century, a triumphal mythology of progress and liberty and justice for all, a mythology that denounces fear and embraces opportunity, a mythology that looks toward the infinite horizon with hope and purpose, a mythology that is built on a firm foundation of accomplishment, and the American people must be the focus of this work.

Observation – January 6th, 2021, Wednesday

It is cloudy in Minneapolis, a gray day in America

The capital is occupied by terrorists, insurrectionists

A coup de etat is being attempted in America

Shots fired at the capital

A woman rolls past the cameras on a gurney

Her face bloodied, gravely injured

Terrorists have occupied the floor of the House

The Senate chamber is under their control

Trump supporters flying Trump flags wearing Trump hats

A bunch of brown shirts, chickens come home to roost

The mob is fighting the capital police

Reports of flash bang grenades

The final process of ratifying the presidential election has been upended

The clock is ticking, they have five days to complete their work

Fake President XVII – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

12.19.2020

Fake President XVII

It seems like almost everyone has moved on from the election…it seems like it, but the orange menace occupying the oval office has not moved on, the fake president wants to continue on as the fake president and he may be willing to do just about anything in order to have his way.

When the electors of the electoral college met in their respective states and cast their votes for Joe Biden, it seemed like there would be no more serious question about his bearing the title President-Elect, even Mitch McConnell gave him that respect on the floor of the senate, but Donald Trump hasn’t accepted this, and it’s not a joke.

Donald Trump held his first cabinet meeting in month and in that meeting, together with his senior advisors an argument broke out, the reporting is that the argument became heated, because Donald Trump wanted to discuss the option of declaring martial law and redoing the election in the so-called swing states that he lost.

Everyone needs to pay attention because there are only thirty-one days until the inauguration.

This is not a joke, if it were a joke, if it were just some kind of reality T.V. ploy people would not be spending political capital on the proposition, one hundred and twenty members of the House of Representatives would not have signed on to a lawsuit asking the Supreme Court to throw out the votes in those swing states.

If it were a joke his cabinet and his senior advisors would all be in on it, there wouldn’t be anything to argue about. Some might feel that it was a joke in bad taste, but they wouldn’t squabble.

Be aware Trump will do anything to stay in power, and if you think it is impossible, think again, it is merely improbable.

Listen, if the path to Trump pulling off his coup involved a complicated political and legal strategy that had to be executed flawlessly over an extended period of time, then I would say there is no chance of Trump succeeding or even staying interested in it long enough for him to pull it off.

But, if dumb Donald thinks he can succeed simply by breaking shit…he is going to break everything in his way, smash it to bits, create chaos, leave the country vulnerable in his bid to retain power.

Be mindful, I am not trying to be an alarmist. This is just how it is, that is who the Donald Trump is.

The country is in danger.

Now, I do think his path to success in this endeavor is so improbable as to be impossible, but I also think the fake president doesn’t care…I think he is going to break things.

Fake President XVI – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

12.12.2020

Fake President XVI

The orange menace may be losing in court but he is not going to stop trying to foment chaos in the vain hope that an opportunity will present itself for him to put an iron grip on the reigns of power and stay in the Whitehouse.

The Supreme Court of the United States has rejected his claims, again, but there are still venues will to give him a hearing. His team is pressing a suit forward in the radical Wisconsin Supreme Court as we speak.

Nevertheless, Trump is going to keep trying to steal the election regardless of the fact that the votes have been certified against him, regardless of the fact that he could not find a judicial remedy. He is now looking for a political solution and he has eighteen state attorney general’s willing to back him, along with one hundred and twenty sitting members of congress. He has his stoogies in Texas calling for secession from the Union, and a new confederacy of states to join them.

We have a choice to make.

We can pretend that this is all a farce, a big-bad joke and that this cabaret of fools is just blowing off steam, or we can take it seriously.

We need to take it seriously. This is not a farce. Just as Donald Trump’s first bid for office in 2015 was not a farce; people failed to take him seriously then and look what happened.

These congressmen and women need to be charged with sedition. They have to be held accountable for the things they say and do. The speaker of the house should refuse to seat them, they have no business pretending to represent the people when they do not respect the vote of the people.

Stay vigilant America, the Fake President will do anything to stay in power, he is a fraud and a cheat and a villain, he knows that the Manhattan District Attorney has the goods on him, he can see the road to prison lying right in front of him. His only hope of avoiding that is to stay in office.

The man is capable of starting a war to distract us, he is capable of arresting our President Elect to try and prevent him from taking office.

Dumb Donald is desperate, and he will do anything.

America Undone – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

12.05.2020

America Undone

When I was on my walk yesterday I encountered an old-lady who had fallen on the side walk. She was sitting on the ground halfway between Lake Street and 31st Street on Bryant Avenue, just a few houses away from her home, maybe fifty yards at most, but she was unable to get up on her own.

I noticed her just as soon as I crossed the street. When I got closer, she was looking at me, and though she didn’t say anything I could tell that she needed help. I stopped to ask her if she did.

She told me she had fallen, and I could see that she was scraped up, her knuckles were skinned and there was a little blood. There was a hematoma forming above her right eye at the temple, quite a good sized knot, quarter-sized in diameter and raised up just as much.

I asked her if she wanted me to call 911 for her, but she told me she lived just a few houses away. She could see her dog, a little brown haired malamute looking mutt, who was watching her from the yard.

I could see him too.

Her name is Susan and she told me that she had been sitting on the sidewalk unable to get up for about ten minutes while people passed by her, walked around her, and nobody offered to help. I saw that with my own eyes as I was approaching her. I watched a younger couple cross the street rather than come near her.

She told me that she is eighty years old, and that she had been living on the block for fifty years with her eighty-two year old husband. She was slightly in shock and she was crying as I helped her to her feet and walked her to her house.

I carried her bag and held her hand as we went, and I stayed with her until her husband came to the door.

I have to admit that I could understand and even empathize with anyone who had some trepidation about approaching her. While I was closing the distance between the corner of Lake and Bryant to where she was sitting on the sidewalk, I asked myself some questions, and considered some possibilities:

  1. I had to ask myself if I wanted to come in contact with her because of COVID, I was masked but she was not.
  • I had to wonder if she was just a crazy person, because there are many of them around, and if that was the case, how would I be able to help.
  • I had to wonder if it was some kind of grift going on, if she wasn’t going to try to scam me.
  • I had to wonder if it wasn’t some kind of prelude to a mugging, because, well there has been a lot of that going on (though it didn’t seem likely).

I get it, there are lots of reasons to be wary, but what a sad commentary it is on the world we live in, on my city and my neighborhood that people would pass on old-lady by and not even ask her whether she needs help.

She cried all the way back to her house.

I am ashamed of America, if that kind of indifference is what passes for normal…what the hell.

Set your fears aside and do the right thing, if you see someone in trouble, young or old, if you see that they need help…help them.

The Fake President XV, Sabotage – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

11.28.2020

The Fake President XV – Sabotage

The fake president is still pretending he did not loose the election, and he is still hoping to steal it. If he has his way he will disenfranchise eighty million voters, and destroy our democratic republic in the process.

The fake president and his supporters claim that there was voter fraud, but they cannot show any proof of it in court, in fact they are not even trying. When in court they cry about the election being unfair, but the sad truth is that the incumbent could not get out of his own way and the American people are through with him.

Having lost the vote, and having lost in court, they are now looking for a political victory. They are seeking to sew enough confusion to provide their allies with political cover so that the election ends up in the house of representatives where republicans have a numerical advantage and could theoretically invalidate the will of the majority.

This is despotism and we must stand against it.

There was good news this week; the General Services Administration has officially ascertained that Joe Biden is the President Elect, which is allowing the formal transition to begin, but at the same time Donald Trump has said that he will not leave the White House unless Joe Biden can prove that the eighty million votes he earned were legitimate.

The truth of it is this: Joe Biden doesn’t have to prove anything. Each of the fifty states will certify their own election, send electors to congress where their votes will be counted, and if the law is followed Joe Biden will become president.

We must be diligent. If we care about our country we must ensure that this process takes place as it is intended to.

Time is of the essence and everyone who has ever sworn an oath of service, whether in the armed forces, or because the were elected to office, whether they were appointed to serve or hired to do a job, everyone must stand in the way of tyranny, in service to the constitution, ready to protect it and defend it from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Those were not empty words we spoke.

Donald Trump has begun to sabotage the government, he threatens to embroil the United States in armed conflict out of spite, because he is a sore loser, or because he has taken a bribe…who knowns, it could be all three.

Stay watchful America, the orange menace has plenty of time to us American’s further harm.   

Thanksgiving, the Via Negativa

Today is Thanksgiving, a secular holiday; nevertheless, Thanksgiving is sacred to most Americans.

Many of us write reflections on this day, posting memes that express to the world the things we are thankful for, and that is nice, conscientious, appropriate. We have much to be thankful for as Americans, and we should never forget it.

A heartfelt expression of gratitude is always welcome, even the gratitude that is expressed in general for the many things we receive from those we love, by whom we are loved, for the things we are given that make our lives more comfortable, more challenging and more meaningful.

It is never inappropriate to thankful.

To express gratitude is to make one’s self humble; it is to acknowledge our reliance on others for making us into the people we have become.

Thanksgiving is a day for humility; therefore, be gracious. Be thankful…insofar as you are able, in-so-doing you will be following the way of the wise.

In theology there is something known as the apophatic tradition. In this tradition it is understood that God, by whatever name you call the creator the universe (of all that is and all we are), that God dwells in a mode of being that is beyond human understanding.

The apophatic tradition tells us that God is shrouded in mystery, a state of being that mystics describe as the cloud of un-knowing.

According to the apophatic tradition, we are not able speak in the affirmative about what or who God is, because God, the eternal and infinite, God will not be circumscribed by the finite constructs of human thought and language.

We are not able to posit meaningful assertions about the nature of the Divine; what we are left with is the via negative, the way of understanding who God is by stating what God is not.

In keeping with the via negativa, I am in the custom of forgoing the traditional giving-of-thanks, even though I am truly grateful for my friends and compatriots, I am grateful for everyone in my life, grateful for all of those who inspire me, who love me and who are patient with me every single day.

I am grateful for you.

For thanksgiving I follow the via negative, the negative way,and express what I am not thankful for.

I am not thankful for the coronavirus and COVID-19.

I am not thankful that 260,000 Americans have died from this virus, with thousands more dying everyday.

I am not thankful that there are more than 20,000,000 million Americans out of work do to safety measures we have had to take in order to fight this pandemic.

I am not thankful that tens of millions of Americans refuse to participate in those safety measures, that they do not care for the lives and safety of their neighbors, or their families or even themselves enough to wear a mask, and keep distant from one another.

I am not thankful that the track record of the United States is the worst in the world for dealing with this crises, that with four percent of the population we have twenty percent of the deaths.

I am not thankful that Donald Trump lies about these facts and figures as a means of trying to avoid responsibility for his dismal failures.

I am not thankful for the food lines that stretch for miles in some communities this holiday season so that families can have something to put on the table to celebrate the good things in their lives.

I am not thankful that the economic relief which the entire country is in desperate need of receiving is being held up by the political machinations of Mitch McConnell the senate majority leader and his caucus of heartless, short-sighted republicans.

I am not thankful that in the Fake President, Donald Trump, continues to divide us by class, culture, color, and is desperately trying to overturn the results of the election he just lost by 7,000,000 votes, and counting

I am not thankful for their collective failure of Congress to protect the constitution, or for the individual members who have forgotten their oath of office.

I am not thankful for our failures of leadership.

I am not thankful for white supremacy, and domestic terrorism.

I am not thankful for terrorism anywhere. I am not thankful for the religious fundamentalism that drives it. I am thankful neither for the fear that spawns it, nor for the fear it generates

I am not thankful that there is hunger in our bountiful world. I am not thankful for the greed and the sloth and the bad public policy that fosters it.

I am not thankful for willful ignorance, for anti-rational, anti-intellectual, demagoguery. I am not thankful for the cultural relativism that has promoted it, for anti-objectivism, for liars.

I am not thankful for Donald Trump. I am not thankful for my fellow Americans who voted for him, I am not thankful for his allies in congress or people anywhere who continue to support him.

I am not thankful for the media outlets, the reporters, the editorialists who failed and continue to fail to take the threat Donald Trump represent to our Democracy seriously. I am not thankful that they abdicated their responsibilities as the gatekeepers of society, as the so called 4th Estate, allowing his corrupt and criminal regime to cause so much harm to ordinary people.

I am not thankful for his corruption of the rule of law.

I am not thankful for our government’s continuous assault on our population of immigrants and refugees, for the way we have abdicated our responsibility to care for the asylum seeker.

I am not thankful for these things.

I am not thankful that there is so much more to add to this list.

Did I say that I am not thankful for white supremacists? I did, but let me say it again…I am not thankful for them or their apologists, both their soft supporters and their ardent advocates. I am not thankful that they have had a seat at the table in the Trump administration, I am not thankful for the normalization of that kind of hate in our society.

I am not thankful for that.