What a city I murmur to myself looking at its map.
We approached the city known as Dis,
with its vast army and its burdened citizens.
At last we reached the moats
dug deep around the dismal city.
What destroys the poetry of a city?
Automobiles destroy it,
and they destroy more than the poetry.
Also finished Brilliance, blockbuster
the blurbs for which should have said:
"Not the kind of story you've never read before."
Our hero shooting, chasing and kissing
a very pretty red-head assassin
who will be played by Nicole Kidman in the movie.
J.M. Coetzee's novella Lives of the Animals
is more unusual, especially for
its exegesis of behavioral experiments
that reduce the subjects from metaphysical philosophers
interested in god and what man has done to man
to improvising primitive tools for survival. At dinner (bananas)
we rated our chances of expiring
in the nuclear fire--excellent--
during the decline of western civilization.

On the other hand, I hope
our current problems are only temporary
it's just a matter of time until
the public learns to ignore the 24-hour
news cycle. Bad news sells
but the good life's all around us.
One feels love and devotion
even for the 60 million
who voted for our opponent.
Vaclav Havel said
with a wisdom well beyond brilliance:
"Either we have hope within us
or we don't. It is a dimension
of the soul, and it's not dependent
on some particular observation of the world
or estimate of the situation.
It is an orientation of the spirit,
an orientation of the heart
that transcends the world as it's immediately experienced.
It is not the conviction
that something will turn out well,
but the certainty that something makes sense
regardless of how it turns out."

It resembles grief. But it's not quite grief. I'll give you grief.
Certain days planned to be eventful I look forward to for weeks.
Let the peaceful transfer of power proceed. The sorrow and the pity.
Never may the anarchic man find rest at my hearth.
When the laws are kept, how proudly the city stands!
When the laws are broken, what of the city then?
We are moving through some allegory between a City of Hope,
where history has been abolished, and a City of History,
where hope can be slipped in only as contraband.
Failing to achieve understanding, we're searching
outer space for an entity to unite us as humanity.
That person, or city, is consciousness.
Two ancient female poets are a revelation,
the clarity of their complaints: lost lover, lost city.
Our enemy eventually becomes our brother,
his misery lifted by coming to her city.
www.ronnowpoetry.com

--Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, The Inferno, Canto VIII, Italian, trans. Robert Hollander & Jean Hollander, Anchor Books, 2000.
--Ferlinghetti, Lawrence, Poetry Flash, November 1998
--Havel, Vaclav, Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Huizdala, Vintage Books, 1991.
--Iyer, Pico, The Man Within My Head, Vintage Books, 2013
--Sophocles, Antigone, Greek, trans. Dudley Fitts & Robert Fitzgerald from The Oedipus Cycle: An English Version, Harcourt Brace & Co., 1939.
Lonely bagel
Loneliness bagel
The bagel of loneliness

Togetherness bagel
The bagel of being together
Bagel of belonging
www.ronnowpoetry.com
1

Sitting, trying to write, nothing
comes to me. Nothing is what it'll have to be.
Over the weekend and immediately
following the election demonstrations in the streets,
Not my president! But today is Monday
back to work and the business of business in America.
Never have we been fierce warriors.
Rhett Butler got that right: in any confrontation
with the state a platoon of new recruits
with automatic weapons outguns the stately
samurai. Ken and I were eating veggie
burgers and drinking local beers over worries
our fellow Americans will soon start shooting
Jews and Asians, lesbians and disabled veterans
whoever's recommended on the news.
There's a learning curve to disregarding tweets
and the remedies offered on facebook. Our refusal
to be more than the sum of ourselves
is our saving grace. Therefore, let
the peaceful transfer of power proceed.
Democracy doesn't guarantee smart choices,
just a chance to correct the mistakes we'll make.

2

The plane stayed in the air
with Republicans and Democrats peacefully sharing
the dangers and discomforts. The TSA
checked for weapons and bombs cheerfully
and everyone looked healthy, beautiful and happy
even the old and frayed.
                                            President Tweet
cannot detain travelers for being discreet.
Because we hardly talk to the Other
will there be another Civil War?
Unlikely. But I want to tap
the guy who leans back to nap
Would you consider removing your balding
head of hair from my tired face? Landing
at last is the true answer to our prayers
no new wars and the plane stayed in the air.
Motel room, U.S. map made of license plates
everything I need for a week is here, king-
size bed, microwave, fridge, tv, hot plate
the carpet's pretty clean, the bathroom baptized
and there are two mirrors in which to imagine
myself, to analyze and idolize.
WiFi, no Elizabethan inn,
in a century when we fear nuclear war
and we're warned against the shock of fast changes,
the door sports three locks though nothing dangerous
could happen in a town like this, named for spring
water found by thirsty desert travelers.
My home for a week living alone, contained
safe from the elements, roar of airplanes.
Robert Ronnow Dec 2017
Late in life I struggle against my insignificance
When I should enjoy the freedom from performance before an audience.
Applause is happiness but if they withhold applause, embarrassment.
When Da Liu put me to work crunching hexagrams and spreadsheet
      numerology
Instead of ghost writing his books about T'ai Chi for longevity
I was humiliated but freed. No need to interpret
The Chinese master's wisdom or endure his disapproval.
All this happened in an apartment on 110th St. when I lived on 111th.
I wonder if Da Liu lived to 100 like he predicted. Pop Pop
Didn't make it. So be it. Ken got me that job, old friend Ken
Who goes back all the way past high school to Thompson Junior High.
Tomorrow we're eating pizza together in Troy.
We'll remember Da Liu and also the painter and sculptor who had a
      room
In our apartment on 111th and a dog so intelligent it could walk off the
      leash
On the crowded streets of New York without an altercation, and Zach
      Sklar
Of course, journalist, communist and jazz afficionado
Who listened to Jo Jones and Paul Quinichette, Count Basie's men,
Often as possible at the West End.
Back then I was playing the streets for quarters, not much more
Than that sculptor's dog, the sculptor's name I wanna say
Was Mike Johnson and he was a man of few words and many women.
We had a major cockroach problem in that apartment on 111th St.
And I also remember the ceiling leaked in Ken's room and he
Did battle against the landlord, helped form a tenant's association.
We were young and blind as newborn mice, puppies or roaches
We went to our daily disciplines like children of paradise or Da Liu who
      was already old.

When we meet for pizza and talk it will be hard to hear now that I'm deaf
In one ear. Ken, whose name means knowledge, has trouble seeing
      faces.
To want to be famous is a silly goal for a man almost old as Da Liu.
Not the right motivation. Much better to look slowly, labor
For the success and happiness of others.
I'm still avoiding the deeper question. Which is what? Cultivate
An acceptance of nature (including the biomass in the crosswalks)
And know the names of all the grasses. Much to learn about molecules,
Still trying to make sense on the trumpet. What's Ken doing lately?
He's retired from teaching. Is he spending his time reading?
So today I ordered Da Liu's books, maybe the ones I worked on,
Because they offer assistance to others for further living.
Service to others, that's the key, or conversely,
I pleasure in and treasure my insignificance, the autumn I
Realized my insignificance, it ought to be a great comfort
To be so insignificant, being knowledgeable is the best defense against
Your insignificance, it does not put me in mind of the species'
      insignificance,
Exiled or sidelined to an insignificant role, a valued
Member of our community or so insignificant no one notices
Or cares, insignificant and mighty happenings
Seem the same from my vantage aging gratefully, inexorably,
A way to learn your insignificance, freedom to have never been.
www.ronnowpoetry.com
Robert Ronnow Nov 2017
What luxury to get mad
about last night's basketball loss
and watch the full moon descending
at the speed the earth turns.

Things could get worse
personally and in the community.
Bombings, killings, anomie
boiling frogs and witches cursing.

The changing climate,
typhoons in the Philippines,
volcanoes and tsunamis, WWII
which I missed, Thanksgiving same as Easter.

What abundance to fast or feast,
yr choice, stay inside by the stove
or go outside, climb the mountainside.
Live in a city or small town.

So I raged at the coaches
for their lazy zone defense
like an alien in the bleachers
unable to affect the outcome.

When my sons came home
I yelled at them too. What opulence
to be angry about nothing of consequence
neither stopped by the cops nor slipped on the ice.
www.ronnowpoetry.com
Robert Ronnow Oct 2017
Plenty of sleep, no more tv, the wars in the Middle East
are resource wars, disguised as religious debates.
So Dad would say.

A beautiful winter day, hunting
season. A Gun In Every Home, in light of U.S. mass shootings
seems an irresponsible poem. 10K clicks

most popular poem on line, NRA enthusiasts and conservative
talk show hosts quoting it. Not really, no worries, poetry
makes nothing happen. Which is something, magic.

               *                     *                     *

I wonder if I'll have to someday defend that poem,
as in a Russian or Chinese show trial, Salem witch trial,
McCarthy anti-American committee or a college
political correctness safety hearing. Oh well.

What does it mean? Doc Wiseman says that's not how we decide
things in this country, lynching and chasing people with dogs.
You'd think twice about bombing Iran if Iran had the bomb.
Assume a defensive posture.

I've been reading Walzer's
Just and Unjust Wars, much like explaining how to tie your shoes,
or teaching an artificial intelligence to walk, talk
and think about God.

               *                     *                     *

The citizenry doesn't need weaponry sufficient to win a war,
just enough to give pause during its normal pursuit of pleasure
(hunting deer on a beautiful, clear winter morning).

Hunting and gathering and agriculture, local and small
or these almonds I'm eating from California's Imperial
Valley and all the water it took to grow 'em.

Slowly
          drip irrigation
                               takes hold.

Technologies
such as the Anasazi and other aborigines used are uploaded
for sustainable survival.

Much good goes with the bad,
school shootings with school science shows, art shows and
      Shakespeare's plays.
How to stop the unhappiness of ISIS

those lonesome souls from interfering with the evolution
of the species? With love. What did Christ mean
(and what did Wallace Stevens mean by imagination)?

               *                     *                     *

Accept (but contain).
Trust (but verify). Ha ha! Reagan was a pretty funny guy.
It must bother a president, a regular fellow who'll pack his suitcase and
      go back
to Iowa when his term is up, to know he's ordered the death
of a janitor on the night shift at a nuclear reprocessing plant
in a proportional response to a mullah's anger. Jurors

in the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
have sentenced him to death. For his role in killing four people
and wounding hundreds more. There was no visible reaction
from Tsarnaev, 21, in the quiet courtroom.
Justice. In his own words "an eye for an eye."
Survivor Jared Clowery said he was happy not to have had to make the
      choice between life and death himself but he stands behind the jury's
      decision.

"There's nothing happy about having to take someone's life."
Good people without guilt or gloating. Yet
my thought was now we must forego the possibility of knowing
this young man's mind. There's still time to ask him questions
as in Dead Man Walking. To understand is to love
requiring the patience of the scientific method.

               *                     *                     *

Yesterday's single greatest joy
was solving the equation
T = 2pi(r3/GMe)½
for Haley's comet orbiting
the sun.

And sitting in the sun
on a winter day.
Next page