Mugwump

I am not a mugwump atheist…sitting on the fence and calling myself agnostic. I call myself an agnostic out of belief in evidence and empiricism…and because I subscribe – at least in principle – to the decency of humility. I try to avoid the term belief altogether where possible, preferring faith, as the deepest meaning of this word is confidence. I fear scientists in general do a disservice to reason in calling themselves atheists until they are backed into a corner and forced to admit they are in fact agnostics. I would go so far as to say science is another name for agnosticism. I do not pretend to know what is not known…or knowable. It is not for the sake of clarity, but of convenience that scientists use the term atheist, although it is as legitimate  to say they don’t believe in gods because they have no reason or evidence to do so.

Agnostic that I am, I love hearing Bach’s B minor mass, the St. Matthew Passion, the Verdi Requiem and many other such works. I suspect they inspire no less awe in me than they do in somebody wearing a symbol of capital punishment around his neck. Awe is not belief. I am as in awe of the universe…as any saint! The christian myths may indeed recount “the greatest story ever told”, [although my vote would go for Prometheus, who pays eternally his love of mankind ] however it is just that: a story.

But getting back to so called sacred music: I used to love to sing hymns with the choir [and no choirmaster ever rejected my rather decent soprano because I was an avowed heathen ] One of my favourites was We Gather Together, a hymn of Dutch origin – Wilt heden nu treden – written by A. Valerius in 1597. Call me pagan, a devil, a witch, but I laughed before I cried upon learning it was composed in honor of a Dutch military victory over the Spanish. Nothing like the killing of a few thousand fellow christians to get the creative juices flowing, eh?

From century to century we ask…Is nothing sacred? Not Sacred Heart in Paris, that’s for sure. It was built to commemorate the crushing of the “socialist” Paris Commune. It is, in my view, a tasteless embodiment of conservative moral order, which says, basically, might makes right.

Is nothing sacred? Is nothing sacred? [Can you see me pulling what remains of my hair out?] Man was a wolf to man before the nazarene tale and perhaps even moreso since. Let me take a break from my turmoil to pass on a quote from the preface of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I don’t care if you saw the show; read the book. He was writing about an earlier commune, but it hardly matters: So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.

Pretty stories and glorious music are not likely to get the job done, however…

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Thanksgiving Clock

I had wanted something –
something special, almost religious –
a ritual to herald
our new meatless tradition

Secretly, a rite of compassion

Not really a part of the meal
more a holy communion
the baby I would choose
not to lose
along with the bathwater

So

Ringed on a white plate
like numbers on a clock face
cherry tomato halves, half a fennel leaf,
a shallot, four mushroom halves,
two potato halves and a thumb of red pepper.
A celery heart and a carrot
cut long like a finger
were the hands.

These were staples we had enjoyed all year
and now we would celebrate each
one at a time – giving thanks
to the earth, the elements
and the labour that brought them to us.

I’d microwaved them in batches
in a vegetable broth
sprinkled with curry powder
and now I’d turned all the juices
into a gravy with a pinch
of cornstarch…corn
witness to the history
of the Great Colombian Exchange
which is something we could
celebrate without lying
to ourselves or our neighbours

Next year I will find or make
a large mold in the shape of a turkey
to bake what I still call “the stuffing” in…

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Bedrock

adhere to nothing
because of Tradition
adhere to nothing
because of Authority
adhere to nothing
because of Revelation…
[unless the aforementioned
was made to you personally!]

Hearsay
is mere say
and should never blind
a well-meaning heart
or a curious mind

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Dicey (from: The New Sunday Nuggets)

That dude on the cumulus handing out gifts at nativities
Is either blind as a bat or uncaring – an ice block
He lacks a sense of equality ‘tho ripe with proclivities
That lead to murdering all – right down to the livestock! *
Some get barely a talent – so slight it could never bring fame
[more a trickle that leaves a rusty ring ’round the drain]
Still others don’t even get that – not one gift to their name
Some are sheltered and warm, others hungry and cold in the rain.
People say ya gotta believe what’s as old as the hills
Such reasoning strikes me as faulty, to logic it’s treason –
Malaria too has been here since before fish had gills
Religions – all of them – tether true insight and reason.
      I’d sure check the impulse to sign on to any old creed
      Intermittently sanctioning murderous bloodlust and greed

*The Pentateuch…for starters.

Heaven is Here and Especially Now

Not
some supped-up
tinseled, glorified event
out of mind out of time
some fraction beyond
the ordinary – no
what she quakes to lasso
what she circles, hungry hawk
is the actual ,
that prior-to Eden
where cowboy fear cannot help
but lose its footing
as the long-imposed virtual
on which it strides in chrome-tipped boots
evaporates
and its concrete libraries of the falsified
go up in smoke –
when ego-driven history is undone,
wrapping removed
to reveal The Present,
eternal unspecial moment
when those silk-worm borders
between soul
and limitlessness
are unspun

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The Watershed

as first appeared in Earth Advocacy News http://www.earthadvocacynews.com

Today I almost felt it in my toes –
a welling-up and bubbling in the earth
How this outstrips bleak Autumn’s bent, who knows –
but Planet is preparing to give birth!
Are huricanes Sweet Heavens’ deep rejoicing?
We’d better move it swiftly then, I guess –
Wake others with compassion, softly voicing
the need to end this senseless, bloody mess.
One secret to the happiness you seek
is caring for what lies beyond your fun –
to care about the voiceless and the meek
all creatures great and small under the sun.
Up cruising speed then, Era of Aquarius –
Arriving soon is HOMO VEGETARIUS

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Pity The Loveless…

do I pity them? dont you?
they irritate me no end
{that too is true]  
but still… is there
no way to get through?
to help them see
that reciting door to door
from sun up ’til three or four
is a form of self-hypnosis?
and – as if they discovered
the texts themselves –
their witless apotheoisis
  that god has written, that god hears
      is message to themselves?

. . . for if the shadow
of their ego [what they refer to as GOD]
ever wrote or spoke answers as such
all would have witnessed as much!

no, they publicize to themselves
proselytize to the tune
of their own emptiness, stirring
supernatural salt into
the thin soup of their lives
  fear of everlasting death
     claiming the lion’s share
         of their breath

but do not say I am an atheist
[it gives theo too much free publicity]
what I know, by way of quasi-theology
is that something akin to Love
binds the atoms of this universe
into its myriad molecules –
   its foremost speech, the echo of wind
      its deepest vision, what lovers see
          gazing into each other’s longing

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The Thump of a Drum

There are no rules –
no modifiers for the quanta
no meaningful loops – nothing
is fair, much less balanced.
The mindless cosmos is
totally skewed; the dead rot;
the good get punished;
the bad do not.
Every tribe and kind
numbers men able
to bayonette infants.
Every civilization
ultimately sucks.

And then there’s Nature –
ah, behold the hosts of golden posies –
where roots of titan trees conspire
to splice and strangle hapless worms,
where bugs hide their myriad eggs
in other bugs, so darling progeny
may feast on the host bug alive –
vivesection or pablum?
God’s creation?
You betchya.

There are no rules. None.
And how much courage
does it take one lunatic
just to face it. And
how many lunatics
would it take to give
sanity a reprieve?
And how many lunatics
are loose on the planet ?
And how many lunatics
can dance on the head of a pin?

And so …unable to be just crazy
we shrink away and invent

SOME SEMBLANCE OF ORDER

Grace notes, key signatures
yin/yang balances, heavens, hells,
reincarnations, limbos (the mind
is such an agile accident) when
life is just the thump of a drum.

Maybe that is the worst –
Ice cream cone telescopes
finding nothing but exploding
suns and who really cares – no,
who really gives a fuck
about exploding suns

The only reprieve – the sole
stinking sustainable solace
to be found anywhere –
must be scratched
out of the binding
of one soul with another,
the sweaty fusion of one body
with another – and if you are
just ace fucking lucky
the scratching and the fusing
aren’t merely repeatedly
tangential or sequential
and there aren’t always
half a dozen mismatched
shrieking fractions – misbegotten
litter – on the lover’s bed.

That’s all there is, the luck
of the draw, the living and the dead.
The thump of a drum – that’s all.

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