Robert Ronnow Sep 10
The April morning's quiet
and so is the November.
Wherever people outnumber trees
or the dominant cover type
is unquiet. Nothing wrong with that.
Walt got it right, and Jane Jacobs:
the city is an experienced,
used beauty. Her toes are long,
nails thick and hair thin. Yet
her kisses can be sweet; or
smell of ****. All my life I've tried to point my window toward
some narrow wedge of nature.
On ****** Ave., over the roof
beyond the chimney to the park
where every dog was walked.
Could I survive soot and an air shaft now, pigeons and cats,
or even a desk in the legislature for my lot in life. How about
prison like Etheridge Knight,
Nazim Hikmet?
I've gotten soft.
When he builds that house in the pocket
wetland my window now looks out on,
the developer will have given me what I need.
Amphibian mortality,
gravel, fill,
oak, ash and maples felled. Good
to the last drop is our bitterness, our love.
www.ronnowpoetry.com
Jack awoke in his usual pain, un-
daunted by it. We're all gonna die
someday is his morning mantra these days.
Isolate the variable, anything
you do to one side of the equation
you gotta do to the other. Practice
zen, eat less, an empty belly's holy.
These are the rules for old men waiting.

On the other hand, attachment to self
and to things to do. Clean the house, watch for war.
Count syllables, teach English to immigrants
from Slovakia or Syria.
Advocate vocational education
in the schools. Jack has much to do, a new
administration, low social security.
He goes slow as the day will allow.
--title from a novel by Peter Pouncey
Is war coming? Are we headed for another crazy cataclysm?
My sons, draft age. Only now can I appreciate the pain
so sharp it drains the color from one's eyes, your reason
for living gone in a spasm of violence to be forgotten
never by survivors. This fear could become real as no movie
is surreal enough to distract attention from the certainty
you did not do enough to deflect man's trajectory.

All could be well in the end but history portends
a periodic bloodletting followed by a quietus
without mercy. What's the best that can be said:
he died beside his friends and buddies. Steady
on to your own inquest and rest. A perfect rest
that improves upon the inadequacy of your efforts.
What solace can be found in the remains of marriage.

So you better fight back now even if that means
war comes sooner. At least you're fighting back, but how?
Take a minute to meditate on purpose. Science
cannot save you, neither can religion. Abstaining
from violence with love, letting prisoners go, detaining
no one at the border, inviting Chinese and Russian
scientists to our shores, defusing your own anger before it detonates,

none may be enough to save your sons.
A war president needs war, whatever. A trained
and deadly warfighter. You become what history wants
you to become. You survive if you're lucky, if not
so what, your old parents will be alive only briefly to mourn.
Then they too go to their good graves and the pain dies down.
In the meantime a new generation builds a new space station.

Since the vortex will be ******* up the poor,
let's not let the rich escape untouched. All go down
together, no one hoards gold or gets away with fiction.
If we have to fight let's make sure we fight as one,
the sons of the rich side by side with the poor's sons
and their daughters. You want slaughter? Then
let every city and back road know the new order.

I would rather watch Lalaland ten times over than have
to write this poem. I can leave home and live
in a tent or bunkhouse, eat dinner out of a tin cup
and drink water from a wooden bowl, give up
music and most of my memories to save my sons,
to save the world and avoid this war.
But that rarely happens. One is lost and found in what happens.
www.ronnowpoetry.com

--title from a recording by Ornette Coleman
Robert Ronnow May 13
I'm dead. Unlike Frost and Yeats
nothing I've said will be remembered.
Unlike Roosevelt and Lincoln
nothing I'm thinking will win the war.

I'm going to go to my grave unsung
like almost everyone. These mountains
are my grave. A good grave
to go to. There's no such thing

as being saved. When you're gone
you're done. At least 60 million
people don't believe it, don't believe
in evolution. Man, that ape,

can heap a peck of hurt posthaste
with earth movers and machine guns.
Information technology
cannot save your soul, heck,

I've tried. Every morning
I total the polloi
coming to my site for wisdom.
The number's usually zero.

A good number to know.
When my heart fibrillates
I lay my head
against my sleeping wife.

Solace, comfort. She says,
Take your pill, fool.
In an hour at most
I'm feeling great again!
www.ronnowpoetry.com
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.
Dante and Virgil chased by 7 or 8 dangerous devils
Grumpy, Happy, Sneezy, Sleepy, ***** . . .
Then there’s Aaron whose Latin teacher announced to the whole class
he got a poor participation grade because he acts like a *****.
Our heroes reduced from metaphysical philosophers
interested in *** and what man has done to man
to improvising primitive tools for survival.
Hope abandoned, we rate 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
and 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
no matter 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, ******* 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.
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