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Soot on LA highway signs. Billboard of you,
a real estate agent. All endeavor slides
toward inertia, extinction, forgetfulness.

It’s very tropical. Vegetation invades
the house unless constant inputs of joy
apply. The scientist in you feels the

great ape in you. The great ape feels
death growing wide. What about work?
I devote my present to my future existence.

In what way, in what sense
does one continue to resist. As
a dessicated cell, a mole of elements,

an ancient’s aura, a daguerreotype-like
shadow on a sidewalk, persistent headache,
paleolithic herbivore, potential energy, will.

Some wake up and pray, say thanks for
another day. Others curse their luck, stale breath,
the very thought of the rosy dawn makes them ill.

Lonely as leaf fall.
Nature knows no pity or self-pity
according to antiquity, the roof soot of the city.

I admire fire, tools and ore. Agriculture.
Cities, empire. Trading and taking (war).
Numbers, counting, writing. Libraries, discoveries, zero.

And the single-minded universe
that’s only a paper moon
without your love.
www.ronnowpoetry.com

--Harburg, Yip and Rose, Billy, "It's Only a Paper Moon", as performed by Nat King Cole, The King Cole Trio Vol 1, 1943.
Robert Ronnow Aug 30
5 a.m. Souls ascend
from earth’s vale
of fears. Others wait
don’t give up yet.
Nothing I can do about that.

Not is my name known
but am I a good man.
That goes for John, too
a man of faith
who wants what God wants.

What about hate
in the streets. What do white
people want?
I see no need
to pull down statues of General Lee

instead put him side by side
and head to head
with Martin Luther King,
Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.
Also kids who cops shot dead.

Meanwhile on the macro
economic and political scale
leviathans (peoples, nations)
drift toward perpetual
armageddon or peaceful solutions.

We don’t know which
and John will be gone
before it matters
except to his children
and, of course, ours.

What I have done
to change man’s trajectory
for better or worse remains
anonymous. Every action
meets an equal and impassable mountain.

Passion
is its own predicament.
Cast a cold eye and guess.
The clouds go, nevertheless,
in their direction.
—ending with a line by Wallace Stevens

www.ronnowpoetry.com
I have no clue what Krshna taught Arjuna
but I like the name Atman a lot.
Atman. Atman. Where a man is at.
At all times. No matter what.
Gita, get in the action, gorgeous girl,
god is the answer, keep the meter.

Wisdom, none.
What Krshna tells Arjuna makes no sense.
I prefer mathematics.
Knowledge of how things are made and done
more than meditation on the Self
as a manifestation of the One.

And the poem? The poem has gone to glitten.
Only engineers it is written
can solve problems and build bridges.
I can’t fix a 2-stroke engine.
I carried four dead etheridges by hand truck
to the other end of the religion.

I’ll never have to leave this comfortable planet.
We have this asset but can we sell it?
In Paradise Lost, Satan executes his plan
but God already knows all about it.
Still, whether it succeeds or fails is up to Man.
Same here, when it comes to nuclear armaments,
a distraction from the work of making life permanent.

It is all premised on the mystery
of invisible but sentient particles—
little Krshnas and Kachinas
nesting inside one another.
Meanwhile life goes on outside all around you—
WWII, the Napoleonic wars,
the Civil War which we’re still fighting.

Krshna says behead your brothers without prejudice or justice.
So it transpires in the nuclear fire.
Whatever forever.
Is school a prison or a blessing?
Regimentation, mission. I’d like to be part of that tradition
if only as a tutor. Teacher, teacher—tiger!
--with a line by Etheridge Knight
Bear’s certain
it’s a bear
alone with salmon
it’s a bear
on the mountain
it’s a bear
up a canyon
it’s a bear
eating berries
it’s a bear
sedated, carried
it’s a bear
answer, query
it’s a bear
clown or faery
it’s a bear
Off the train I hit the streets
and start laughing. This is ridiculous,
incomprehensible. How can innumerable bipeds
have individual inner lives. Why are they doing
what they’re doing? I have no answer
New York City but to also go about my business
in this case prepare for surgery, survival.

But why survive with so many exact replicas
to replace me? A swarm of ants or hive of bees,
social organisms they’re called, climbing
over each other, avoiding bumping and amazingly
making way, anticipating the sudden turns
and straight paths of others, strangers but brothers,
sisters incubating, the cells of a small
*****, nodes of a single semi-conscious organism.

The concept of a higher power that cares
for me is also risible yet how else
can I explain the surgeon and his team,
robots and magnetic resonance imaging machines,
all primed and trained to save my life.
They are not particularly interested in what
I do with my time. I am immediately
in love with the Irish brogue of the head nurse,

the Indian skin of the physician’s assistant.
The long extraordinarily thin
fingers of the famous surgeon. All
mine to savor (and the other cancer patients).
Back on the streets, rush to the train.
So many women to choose from! One Asian-American,
a dancer I imagine, stands out, tall
calm, still, graceful. No cell, no hair, no hurry.

Yesterday’s suicidal thoughts: the mind
is a clever servant, insufferable master. Therefore,
meditate on this: absolute need, dependence on the Other.
I still like Hombre, The Shootist and Ulzana’s Raid
but realize those dead heroes
were subordinate to society: the gun manufacturers who armed them.
Thus, I go for cancer tests, accepting, not predicting results.
Hero accepting help.

A torrential rain following five days of flooding,
tornadoes out west busting up wooden towns
all because too many of us are hoarding plastic, herding electrons.
None of us know how it will end, what the outcome will be
(of our surgery). The best that can be said
is Don’t forget to breathe. And you might
as well believe in that higher power.
www.ronnowpoetry.com

--title from a tune by Billy Strayhorn
Biology TED talk, Ken Burns WWII
Multiple choice plus open response =
Teacher cares, out there among the English
Mathematics, fractions to imaginary i

Anything can happen any time, I mean
Mass killing--public school, movie theater,
Post office when every mother wears a gun
Yet happiness permeates like CO2 + sunlight

Photosynthesis + electricity = burning bush
Hot tea, hot shower pleasure perfect rest
Early to bed, no more lies, complexity
Poetry about history, i.e. Wolfowitz

As for non-fiction, most things qualify to know
Astrobiology, search for LUCA, FLO
Minerals on Titan, organisms on Enceladus
Divination on Iapetus, peace on Earth and Tethys

Volcanoes and tsunamis, Big Red One and Private Ryan
Don't stay up late, take yr vitamins
Sin and crime being nothing more than
Mental malaise, imbalance. Love and compromise

Tolerance, practice worksheets, brilliance
Prejudice and superstition, Tha's a wrap
Nothin doin, ain't gonna happen, freedom's when
Yes is mostly a blessing and No is always an option
www.ronnowpoetry.com
I waited too long
to mow my lawn
biopsy my lung
yet lived long enough
however long is long.
Whatever. It's not wrong
to count along
while busy living. Sing
and stay strong
absorb the sun's photons
and store them in yr bones.

Those bones
outlast slights and wrongs
are white as lightning and strong
as sticks and stones.
Inside is one's
spirit, soul, the nameless one
the one that's never known.
It has no cell phone
can't communicate or even moan.
Therefore. Why complain?
Have some fun.

Soon
I'll be undone
underground
my garden burned
down. So what. John Donne
died and so did Milton.
Emerson too, and Whitman.
Get over it. Vote. Love. When
the train comes in the station
whistle with it, wish on
stars with passion
or careful hesitation.
Anything's fine, within reason.

Season by season
things get done.
Algebra and calculus, Malcolm X, George Washington.
No taxation
without representation.
A gun
in every den.
People will be governed
one way or another, by a king
or trusted friend. Corporation.
Men
are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable,
than to right themselves by abolishing the Evils to which they are accustomed.

I'm too young
to die! I cry. My generation
cannot outrun the sun
but I want to see what happens
next, a tsunami or tornado, rain
and wind beyond our comprehension
hit in the head by speeding debris, irony
of ironies! plastic contraptions,
rotting computers and yogurt cups, pain
in the baby! Moment's
notice. None,
I notice,
live long
enough to see the end. A billion

years hence
human sense
has so modified and mutated under
some other sun
we share one mind
and everything's remembered by everyone.
Look it up. There is no death, just perfect rest. A perfect tan
is possible, and work is fun.
I'm going there when I pass on
because souls will travel at warp speeds, using nuclear fission.
About suffering, religion
was right (and wrong) all along.
www.ronnowpoetry.com

--U.S. Declaration of Independence
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