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Robert Ronnow Feb 13
There are 12 types of joy:
simple joy
almost joy
systemic joy
Saturday joy
expressing joy
knowing joy
all joy
max joy
constant inputs of joy
single greatest joy
sacrifice or joy
the face of joy
at the periapsis of earth’s orbit.
Robert Ronnow Jan 16
Nicky, the neighbor’s dog, drags a road **** home.
A beautiful pelt like those fox shoulder garments women wore in the
But the head is crushed beyond recognition—maybe it’s a fox and that’s
      why Nicky, a canine, is conducting this wake on our front lawn.

Loretta, my wife’s mother, is in the hospital again. Forty years of Crohn’s
      disease has finally broken her.
It may take some time but she won’t bounce back from this episode.
None of us are sorry to see her die, not even Loretta. There will be a
      thunderous downpour during her last hour.

I like the story about the nuns hitting Peg in school–contumacy is a sin.
Emile and Loretta considered it an inappropriate punishment for their
      cherished adopted daughter.
So they pulled her out of Catholic for public school. They did their own
      thinking about discipline.

Early Spring, peepers all night, then the birds take over at dawn.
      Soothing—the mourning doves.
During this half of the year, May through October, we live in a green
We turn the house inside out, move into the mountains.

In their annual order, flowers appear in the understory: coltsfoot, hepatica
      and trillium through to the end, late purple aster, spotted joe pye and
      pearly everlasting.
We let Nicky nurse her road ****, watch over it, roll around on it.
Don’t let go of the steering wheel while driving fast in the passing lane.
Robert Ronnow Nov 2023
Black lives matter. Me too.
Not my president. Give peace a chance.
Luck runs out. I like immigrants.
Power must be challenged by power.

Equal and opposite reactions.
God is the answer. Love is the answer.
Walk on the sunny side of the street. Meat feet.
Learn to drive. Wait for the train in the rain.

A girl gets sick of a rose. Mock orange.
Mediocre presidents, unnecessary wars.
Triumph and humiliation. Meditation.
Sometimes I’m tired of being me. Therefore.

Subaru. Suduko. Haiku. Hulu.
Stop on red, go on green. Orderly neighborhood.
Too tired to be angry. Too tired to do homework.
Tolstoy is the Tolstoy of the Zulus.

College campus. Saguaro, cactus.
Million dollar movie. Aliens in the bleachers.
Full length feature. TED talk, lecture.
Breathe in experience. Bring sentience into an expressible state.

Events pile up with or without an identity willing to organize them.
Events in their mere chronology make no sense.
Inability to transcend own interests. Inability to find one’s way.
Vacations and accomplishments accumulate late in life and early on.

Late in life I struggle against my insignificance.
The straight way lost. Concentrate on this: Thy will be done.
The straight way misplaced. Get over it. Someone tell a joke.
Love. Vote. Join a committee or a party.

MLK made the jump from race to class, dreamed of a brotherly nation.
Is this feeling nostalgia for the past or occipital neuralgia?
Knee surgery, plywood factory. Lost lover, lost city.
Old friends who are dead to me but still here.

Somewhere there are flowers among railroad ties.
True love between ****** partners. Dusty villages and vast cities.
Popper v. Niebuhr, impeachment inquiry.
Hassid and Muslim dress codes. French fashions.

Watch for war, **** and shower. Do the limbo.
Pay bills. The very thought of the rosy dawn makes Jack ill.
Big comfy couch, a nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day.
A long day’s journey into night. Truckin’.

Death comes for the archbishop. Private Ryan and Big Red One.
Absence of knowledge and intelligent beings who make things happen.
Life’s brevity and the time taken to carve the canyon.
Decibel level and ambient noise. Captain Carpenter and Mr. Flood.

Nothing but ocean, self-aware organisms and the longing they provoke.
Unit, corps, God, country. Zip code. The clocks and the docks gone and       no smoke.
Achilles and Hector. Wills and losses.
Continued existence and most of history.

A holy condition. A warrior’s position.
Walk with a limp. Don’t complain about pain.
Truth may be ascertained by considering your uncertainty.
If everyone votes and every vote’s counted, time is the mercy of eternity.
Robert Ronnow Sep 2023
On one of the myriad bays
along the Maine coast. Keep the holocaust
at bay I said to Dave because
you’ll spend all day gathering
2,000 calories and still be miserable hungry.
An undiminished population of humans is risible.

Black spruce and balsam fir,
you can eat the inner bark
in a starvation emergency.
There’s plenty of Cornus—bunchberry—
each orange pith around the stone
worth maybe a quarter calorie.

Lots of sarsparilla but the fruits
not out yet and to date I have not
savored one. Let’s see—dandelion
of course and huckleberry but
the most important source of sustenance
would be seaweed.

Learn your mushrooms! for the protein.
Accept the situation
come the apocalypse.
I struggle against my insignificance
but it would be better to struggle
against my ignorance.

Less effortlessness, more fishermanliness.
That’s the lesson of this Maine vacation
there’s a lot you can eat when in need—
the hips of roses and the pips of grasses.
And an endless supply of seaweed—
bladderwrack, dulse, kelp and thin green lettuce.
Robert Ronnow Jul 2023
--slightly out of tune

Am I right to hedge my bets on being famous, ply my arts all day alone,
silence, no tv? Mark said, the difference is people are actually listening
to **** Jagger, but I thought that’s not so big a difference.

When Dad died it only reinforced the futility of our daily efforts
notwithstanding my hopeful eulogy about our responsibilities to each

People listened then, and closely, searching for an echo
from the abyss. What is this abyss and how do I know
it’s there?
Robert Ronnow Jun 2023
Part of me says stay small, part go big
Part says eat your fill, part don’t pig

Kenko says: long life brings many shames
I say the gray sky brings winter, no blame

The impassable mountains we revere
Moderate the force of wind and water

Get the cement truck into the refrigerator
We shall honor all of life sooner or later

Anything can happen if you don’t resist
To get lucky you gotta be careful first

You discover dying’s much like living
Who should I thank for the pity of things?

O to have the smile of a lover
Who wouldn’t rather be elsewhere!
Robert Ronnow Apr 2023
“There’s nothing you wish for that won’t be yours
        if you stay alive.”  --Beowulf

Winter has arrived and the wind cuts through
the parking lot under the el in the Bronx,
streets stretch out in their directions, events
in their mere chronology have no relation.
Old friends face certain dissolution
with perplexity, comity and humor,
look with gay eyes on their future
in a forest or a city, someplace.
Snow outside, despair inside. Homelessness.
Raccoon tracks cross the soul. Prostatectomy.
Winter mix. Don’t relax. The difficult
dangerous season when weak creatures die
and the strong barely survive. Leave me alone
with autumn, an autumn like last autumn.
Don’t stand around my bed, I won’t be in it.

Jack’s in jail. His panic attacks are like
an AI on automatic pilot
who wants to live, just like the rest of us
under the eye of eternity or
running in new snow, loving that feeling.
Some people go dancing in fishnet stockings.
Effortless mastery, success without practice.
Fractals without chemistry. Do the small
things first, clean the house and bless the guests.
Sick of Krshna, sick of salad, sick of self.
Sick of meditation. As I lay dying
the full moon’s rising. My existence
is indivisible from the wry Creator’s.
I like the old Rhymer, his smile resplendent.
It’s Death, not the Jewish king, in your rose garden.

I ply my arts all day alone. All I have
is all I do not know. The past isn’t dead
it never even happened. Learn the changes
then forget them. Keep on learning and re-
learning them. Down the steep and icy trail
through hail and storm. Take into eternity
my hail and farewell. We’re living in the
Anthropocene. Indestructible garbage.
Bulldozed landscape. Big Brother, dead father.
***** of the tiger.  Getting thought to twitch
the prosthetic. Mischievous, malevolent,
militant thistles. Or just plain polite
Americans, afraid to get shot.
Bump bump bump down the igneous rocks of life,
take the boulders two at a time down.

Old-timers bagging groceries, low social
security for the security guard.
Situps, pushups, fix yr brakes, fix yr leaks.
I know what’s gonna happen before it happens.
Polar bear mugs wino exhausted by that earlier,
irritating, constant need to survive.
Surrounded by history, neither seen nor heard
from again. And a deaf mute in a pear tree.
If it’s human, nothing’s wasted. Pasted
into a big wet kiss or posted
on the internet. Stolen from the pockets
of the dead, burgled from living memory.
Most art is dispensable, ***** and *****,
vaginal lubrication, prostate enlargement,
the unknown, anonymous man named me.

I’ve been wrong before and I may be wrong now.
Things fall apart. Or maybe not. Maybe
it’ll all hold together 10,000 years more
after all we’ve observed a galaxy born
13 billion years ago, a faint red blur,
and microbe partnerships on the ocean floor.
The good life’s all around us smiling
girls on bicycles, dogs on leashes,
equality is mandatory.
Sweet solitude and privacy, quiet
sitting spot, write a little, read a lot.
Tip generously, gratuitously,
like good luck. Haircut, cabride, dinnerout,
to eat a continent is not so strange.
Does Jack even exist? I doubt it but

the class of transformations that could happen
spontaneously in the absence of knowledge
is negligibly small compared with the class
that could be effected artificially by
intelligent beings, aliens in the bleachers.
Japanese knotweed also known as kudzu.
The Chinese navy also known as t’ai chi.
Water shortages. War and wildfire.
What you’re scared of and what you love. Contracts
and deliverables. Hate speech, fate.
Humor or ardor, I can’t decide.
Dad’s steel-toed boots. Leaves, flowers, fruits.
Things are said, mistakes are made. I’m driving
pontificating on geopolitics
when an archangel flies into the windshield!

Lost my timepiece, lost my metronome.
Well, music is a manufactured crisis.
Caloric restrictions, control your addictions,
desire to be famous, propensity for violence.
The profusion of species contents me.
Wilderness comes back strong as cactuses,
chestnuts, coral. No more missile crises.
Eat less, an empty belly’s holy.
Horselum, bridelum, ridelum,
into the fray! World order—not my problem.
Only meditation can save your soul,
should there be such a thing. There are actual people
half woman half man running past me
and dream people in movies half language
half light. Or they lie under polished stones
embossed with actual photos of themselves.

Learning who you actually are is difficult
as sitting still 10 minutes w/o a thought or want.
To get lucky you gotta be careful first.
Knowledge of death without dying =
early retirement. Counting your blessings,
a healthy activity. No solution
to death’s finality, and such a blessing
awaits me, too. If you’re suicidal
they call the cops. The audience is full of glee.
Watres pypyng hoot. Chinese characters. Quantum guesses.
Most failures, and most successes, are in our future.
I embrace wild roots and run through streets
with arm around my girl. Inmate #427443.
Poetry and surgery—they go together
like a horse and buggy. Cheerful as a flock
of chickadees. Looking for a lost horse,
I hear Appalachian Spring!

Look one way, from another come the heart’s
missed beats. Much better to look slowly,
labor for the success and happiness
of others, even the old and frayed.
Look it up. There is no death, just perfect rest.
Look more closely. It will be gone in a few days!
First entertain, then enlighten if you can.
Is it stress? Yes. Tired of death? It’s what it is.
Let’s play sports, have ***, live a wonderful life,
give generously. If you see a hawk on a bough
at field’s edge beyond the corner you should have
turned, maybe it’s a sign to go on, alone.
No body, no soul. No mirror, no black hole.
No mission, no hero. No applause, no noise.
No experience, no nonsense. If words can
be arranged in any order can they be
of any use in foreign policy?

Disappointed, didn’t get what was wanted.
Forget me not, is that all I want?
A catbird account, a mockingbird account
and an owl account. Then, and only then,
nothing’s missing and nothing’s left over.
Jail or zen mountain monastery
hiphop artist hypnotist bebop trumpeter
unknown soldier black bear bad bladder
ice cold beer poker player wry Creator.
If not one way, then another. Otherwise
give me your 5-10 best hiphop artists. Can
they take the sting out of life like bluegrass, jazz?
Mimics, woodpeckers, sing-songers, hawks,
chippers and trillers, whistlers, name-sayers,
thrushes, owls and a dove, high pitchers,
wood warblers and a word-warbling wren.
Unusual vocalizations.

We have hope that everyone alive is
essential, consequential. The commonplace
and everyday is sanctified. Nothing else
special need be done but stay alive.
Don’t lose passport, don’t be late to airport.
Insects are pollinators, insects are us.
Romance without finance is a nuisance.
November, however, is sweet, sunshine
through bare trees, dry brown leaves companionably
visiting among the dead. When middle school lets out
at the periapsis of Earth’s orbit
that’s the face of joy. Each leaf out and Jack
in his boxers. If you run over a chipmunk,
a groundhog or a skunk, say a short prayer.
One can’t help being here, queynt.

I live in a state so blue there’s nothing I can do
to change man’s trajectory and if I could
what angle of re-entry or ascent
would I choose? Grace is what we get
no matter what. Come the tired end of day
Jack thinks why not waste time watching tv
but the next day he has a hangover
like Ernest Hemingway or **** Jagger.
Your soul is immortal. It exists outside
of time. It has no beginning and no end.
If you cannot accept this, forget it all,
do not even begin. It all goes into
the same church service and comes out babbling
for God to appear. The shorter the service
the better, less passion, more resistance. Joy
may outlast the holocaust. Get it while it lasts.

The material world is reality, my friend.
Reality is not always what we’re after.
I like Jack’s confidence, that working the problem
will result in better outcomes than guessing.
Confidence is the feeling you have
before you understand the situation.
A hawk hunting or just floating waiting
for inspiration, a heron rowing east,
an owl’s quiet hoot even simpler than
the pentatonic bamboo flute.
What’s not to like? Ice cream, yogurt, profit, tofu.
Mosquitoes this summer are relentless,
heat and humidity, merciless.
Ice will ice those little *******.
Killing time before it kills me. Ha ha.

Whatever forever. Poetry is plumbing
your unhappiness habit until you reach joy.
As I think of things to do I do them.
Thing by thing I get things done. I think
that’s how my father and his father did things, too.
“Away up high in the Sierry Petes
where the yeller pines grow tall, Ol’ Sandy Bob
an’ Buster Jig had a rodeer camp last fall.”
It is the older man’s responsibility
to protect, not as a hard-charging archangel,
Jack’s joints couldn’t stand it, or hero
but as a rational participant,
cool, caring and completely zeroed in.
Culture or religion is an answer to
the problem of what to do and why do it
when your cancer makes poetry from
losing the argument with yourself.

To die spiritually in the hot sun
and the body go on climbing, haunted,
hunted, nature’s intelligent partner.
People are the element I live in, or else.
Call for the elevator. Wait for the el.
Snow on the Sonoran, each saguaro
wearing a white yarmulke. Creosote
smell as snow melts, ocotillo buds out.
Man needs help from every creature born.
The blackbird contains death but it’s bigger than death.
It’s more like God but an ironical god.
Smaller and funnier than God, impossible
to regard directly, gotta look sideways,
aim binoculars left, right, up, down—
missing every time. There’s nothing you wish for
that won’t be yours if you stay alive.
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