I meant to write about “thanks”. And the opposite. How ungrateful we humans have been to Mother Earth. How uncivilized civilizations have been toward other civilizations. How backwards our advancements have taken us in many ways. But how, nonetheless, we need to take the time — whatever our gripes and grievances — to appreciate this world and those around us. Also those much like us around the world. By that I mean, well, pretty much everyone. We’re all people, people!
I wanted to state what a marvelous and forgiving expression “water under the bridge” can be. That it conveys a depth of wisdom and compassion beyond the ordinary everyday toils and flubbish flounderings of humankind.
I was going to say that I am grateful Life can still startle me, amuse and amaze me, both by very big measures and the nice little surprises that come along. And, when I least expect, or when it appears I’m running low on possibilities and faith, a sparkling fountain of avenues and prospects might spring forth to dazzle my beleaguered soul . . . perhaps a small act may evoke a smile, even a laugh . . . and keep me believing in myself, as well as my fellow man.
I was going to write about such topics until my brain wandered off the path and the title came out “tanks”. And that changes everything. That takes me in another direction entirely.
Now I must speak of metal and noise. Of being treaded flat into the earth, or confronted by overwhelming odds and obstacles. Of two sides unable to compromise, unable to settle scores by simpler and saner methods. Of extreme measures, human versus human, son versus son. Of devastated cities and families. The images of real-life horror. The bloodshed and gore of War.
There are numerous kinds of battles. The competitive athletic challenge of exerting physically above and beyond for the squad or your personal pride. The chess-match strategic maneuverings of mind-to-mind combat. The mundane variety we encounter day to day: tensions, strifes, misunderstandings, pressures and minor struggles. The big, bold, blatant type you cannot ignore: against disease and violation, adversity and disaster. The blazing gunfights of lawmen and crooks. The eternal clash of Good versus Evil. The double-sided coin of armies defending God or country.
I didn’t see this coming but here it is. I have to deal with it. As I have said before and will likely say again, I prefer my horrors served in riveting fictional verse and prose; on a screen or platform where it isn’t really happening. Not in the news and certainly not in stark living color right before my seared stinging eyes!
In reality I’m a softie. I like to hug teddybears. I like to hear the songs of birds in the trees. I like to snuggle in a warm sweater on a cool day. I like to watch the grass grow secure in the belief that it will not be abruptly trampled by a tank.
War is a hellish enterprise and seems quite irrational, even downright insane when you think about it, yet wars are fought each day. Was there ever a time, in the modern or ancient history of men, that this wasn’t so?
Who do we hold accountable for the shattering of peace, the atrocities committed by good men against each other?
Should we blame the soldiers for following orders? Turn our backs on veterans who placed everything on the line for their nations so their loved ones and those like them could go on enjoying the better things in life?
Are the politicians and leaders at fault for finding no solution to issues and disagreements but to aim weapons — whether swords and arrows, ammunition and explosives, aircraft and artillery?
We tend to blame The Bad Guys. The other side.
History tells us that some wars needed to be fought, against madmen who needed to be stopped. For causes like Freedom and Justice. I have to admit, this might have been true.
It is certainly true when lawless factions inflict terror and slaughter the innocent. But is it so impossible that such factions could be convinced through words alone never to wield destruction? Or restricted by civil punishment, criminal prosecution, instead of whole nations duking it out on a global scale?
Did our environment need to be pillaged and scourged by rampant abuses in order for progress to be achieved? Or were there more intelligent means to get where we are?
Did “The Wild West” need to be won by force? Watching old cowboy and Indian movies I didn’t root for either side. I really liked them both and just wanted them to get along.
What’s done is done, whether right or wrong. It’s water under the bridge. And it’s important to remember, to learn from the mistakes along with the victories, so we will not repeat the same errors.
Wars are fought. Perhaps this will never change. We must honor the veterans for doing what they thought was right, obeying the call of duty and defending our ideals. Yet it is my sincere hope that in the future we will find better ways to settle our disputes. Without bombs, bullets, and tanks. It is my belief that we can evolve to the point of communicating rather than accepting more violence. Destroying more families, towns, or habitats.
In such a world I could just correct my mental divagation of thanks to tanks and remind you that there is a bright side to every darkness. That no matter how grim your day . . . if you’re patient, receptive, your heart and mind open, you will find a ray of hope. Sorrows can fade; you can discover a new purpose, a new reason to keep going. To keep striving and loving and living.
Well, maybe I’ll tell you that anyway. Because it’s true. And then I’ll write some poems.
There are days I feel I’m standing
In the path of something huge
Grinding mighty gears straight towards me
Or stampeding; a deluge
Sometimes I hear it coming
And tremble in its thrall
Too often there’s no warning
No hint or clue at all
Either way I’ll stay my ground
And face what has to be
Cowering in a hole can’t thwart
When retreat is not an option
And a battle is required
Then I’m bound to give it all I’ve got
Even if I’m very tired
Ere the tanks roll in and over
Mashing, gnashing, bulldozing flat
I must brace and face them head on
With the courage of a gnat
I’m not brave I can assure you
I would rather flee than fight
But sometimes we have to tackle
What we don’t conceive as right
What arrives from out of nowhere
To deprive us of our strength
Or take away the things we value
It may go to any length
Unless we firmly stand against
The advent of that force
Sometimes there is no option
Some days no apt recourse
But to greet the tanks with fortitude
Alone or on a team
And do our best to pass their test
However frail we seem
We must not give in to doubt
Allow morale to take to wing
The simple act of standing
Can mean everything
We don’t have to be heroic
Just willing to oppose
The world can use far less of those
We may flinch or we may quiver
Shed a tear and feel afraid
Yet if we hold on through the haze of conflict
We won’t let the tanks invade . . .
Though now and then they can surprise you
Bringing peace and hope and more
A welcome resolution
The joyful end to War.
An opposite trait that I embody
Is being contrary in what I mean
It’s hard to state opinions boldly
When there’s so much gray between
I see all sides and can’t decide
The way in which to lean
I’m slightly paradoxic
But at least I’m not routine
Another inconsistence —
I write but I don’t read
There’s seldom time, I wish I could
How I neglect the things I need!
It isn’t that I fail to care
For stacks of tomes are piled to heed
I must take the time to make the time
To fix my reader’s block, indeed!
There are many paradoxes
Which I don’t intend to mend
Since I like them as they are
And I surely won’t pretend
I’m something other than I am
What message would that send?
I like myself, I’ve earned my ways
I have little to forfend
Thus, being paradoxic
Is really up to me
If I wish to contradict myself
Then that’s how I will be
And then I won’t, because I’m stubborn
In a diametric manner, see
I like to be eccentric
But it’s acting typically
I choose to be an oddball
This is simply my true fashion
I’m a rebel and conformist
I pursue it with a passion
I’m traditional yet liberal
And reserved while party-crashin’
I’m both quiet and outspoken
Extremely colorfully ashen
I am really quite the puzzle
You mustn’t try to understand
It’s too confusing and bemusing
That I might shake with my left hand
I may be lost when I am found
Bathe in a pool of mud or quicksand
But there’s no greater paradox, I think
Than to play a Baby Grand.
It can happen in a heartbeat
As I’m walking down the street
I might lose my grip and start to float
As if my traction has been smote
It’s called Zero Gravity
And it strikes the likes of me
If I run away it follows
To mountain peaks and hollows
It is such a curse and even worse
It affects the entire universe
Nowhere is safe from this affliction
It can rob a boa of constriction
Your very step could well detach
Don heavy shoes or risk a snatch
And be flying past the clouds and moon
You won’t be back any moment soon
Until the giddiness wears off
And you’re down to earth again, don’t scoff
You never know when it could come
An attack of weightlessness for some
May seem a welcome recreation
But mark my words, my preoccupation
It isn’t something to take lightly
It will haunt your days and plague you nightly
There is no avoidance once you’re struck
You can only count yourself in luck
To be singled out and set apart
By the one who stole your heart.
THE MATTER OF NOTHING
Ratchets and cratchets, dogs and frogs
I’ve no idea what I’m on about
In fact there’s nothing in mind but an empty sense
That leaves not the least trace of doubt
Pondering aught and naught at length these days
Maundering around in circles
Whether rambling in speech or footfully
I just wind up prone to irkles
The matter of nothing is nullishly nil
You can argue it or ignore the fact
Moot or illiteral, nix or trivial
The point is that it’s abstract
Without a question there is no answer
But without a something there can be a void
It doesn’t seem fair, it drives me to despair
Yet I’m nothing if not paranoid
So this matter of nothing must be exhumed
From my abyssally vacuous pit
The depth of my being is rather unfathomable
Hence, we may never get to the bottom of it
I advise you instead, before all is said
To head straight for the end of this rhyme
Cover your eyes and ears and flee . . .
Perhaps they can save you in time!
Six grackles on a limb once sat
To have a raucous bird-brained chat
Like magpie gossips they did sport
Then snoozed a bit with a sneerful snort
When just below them from the soil
A wickedness began to roil
And writhing upwards out of smirch
A peckish dauntling climbt the birch
This heathen gathered mass and crept
Up bark and branch to where they slept
The smudge begrudged them their sweet nap
And plucked most up in quite a flap
Drooling for these fickle bites
He gulped them down and set his sights
Upon the last who woke to glean
Himself alone, his pals unseen
And a monster they had conjured forth
Through gabbiness from malish pour’th
Of vicious rumors, slandrous spewl
These spouters summoned a pentaghoul
Five scowls he wore; five eyeballs glared
Five arms, five legs; five faces stared
Five birds he ate with fervent glee
The sixth, dessert would surely be
Licking lips, he reached a paw
To plunge the fowl down a single maw
This gracken had a case of greed
And six was more than he did need
The final bird held up a wing
To make him pause for one small thing:
“We made you mad, we made you mean
We made you brown and orange and green
We didn’t make you such a glutton
And we forgot a shut-off button
So if you won’t mind, I think I’ll leave!”
The blackbird flew, to the gracken’s peeve
And the monster slunk back in the dirt
His belly full but his feelings hurt.
It doesn’t take a resurrection
To do a pinch of introspection
It simply asks for your protection
That you refrain from reverie
And when your innards you explore
Be sure to delve down to the core
That’s where the truth resides and more
There lies the gist of your debris
Amongst the things that you forgot
The errors of your ways you caught
And all the stuff you’re really not
You’ll find the traits you didn’t see
How brave you’ve been, how noble too
What others view and love in you
All that defines you through and through
How much you mean to me
Within your soul you’ll find a light
A torch that blazes very bright
Exemplifying all that’s right
It’s your humanity
And while you’re foraging in there
Safeguard the things of which you care
Sort out what you would like to share
Focus on the positive
Your strength, the wonders that you give
The honor in the way you live
But if you take another peek
Observe that you have not been weak
To touch the feelings that you seek
It’s called humility
Somebody else may not believe
There have been those who made you grieve
Yet deep inside you must retrieve
The person you would be.