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Start now knowing joy,
that’s an order,
overcome a deepening solitude.

Like a bee at a bugle
or me at the deli
on Third Avenue.

I said to Joe when do you think this weather will break?
He jokes, April.
That’s no joke. Weak creatures die and the strong barely survive.

Half a year goes by
another cancer checkup.
Cheer up. Any weather’s

better than no weather at all
and there’s always governance
even when there is no government.

My candidate drops out
after Iowa. Why do I always lose
at politics and poker?

Peace at last!
No lawnmowers, no leafblowers.
Big comfy couch.

Meditate on this: Do what has to be done.
Find your lover gazing at the moon
and take your garbage to the dump.

Your web site evaporates
and your possessions are thrown in the dumpster
except your trumpet which finds its way to a future trumpeter.
Carrying a sleeping baby.
Cleaning after a successful party.

Camping beyond mountains more mountains.
Playing trumpet on the streets of New York City.

Eating although the food supply is deeply compromised.
Flying with Democrats and Republicans, evangelicals and atheists.

Flying like a fruit fly that won’t quit mating.
Cool as a hummingbird in the stream’s wet spray.

Abstaining wholly, absent from worldly life.
Two dogs fighting but not biting hard.

Chanting as if the planet were mending.
Gourmet dining, devout prayer, loving Mary.

Evenings watching tv. Scotch and Star Trek.
Taking off Emily Dickinson’s clothes.

Meeting in the meeting house, arguing and praying.
Planning a legacy as if you knew enough to control events.

Pursuing happiness as a naturalist or humanist.
Spinning with the planet, performing the history that surrounds us.

Killing many Germans, saving many Jews.
Doing less until one thing’s done well.

Fainting from staring at candles through stained glass windows.
Morning, a billion trillion nuclear detonations per second warming your
        bones.

Manipulating symbols, solving equations.
Disregarding tweets and facebook persuasions.

Sitting with a tiny Buddha near a rushing stream cutting a gorge.
Running, disciplining myself, making myself healthy.

Ingesting drugs, throwing die, drinking sludge.
Growing varicolored corn.

Participating in the cause because it’s impossible not to participate in
      the effect.
Running over a chipmunk, groundhog or a skunk.

Lying face down in the emergency room facing doom.
Waking up Monday thinking Sweet Saturday! but soon remembering my
      trick knee.

Turning the towering young thunder of my anger against my sons.
Regretting the callow dispassion with which I met my parents’ quietus.

Lawn mowing, leaf blowing, yapping dogs, napping old people.
No jets but a rooster mornings, cows and goats.

Al is painting an apartment. Sirma is cleaning the floors. Felix is taking
      out the garbage.
Deciding tentatively I slightly prefer Heifetz’ to Oistrakh’s Sibelius.

No cedar waxwings, no chickadees, but beautiful moon!
If you’re alone as you get, why are you crying?
—Collins, Billy, “Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes”, Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems, Random House, 2002.
I’ve never put a candidate’s bumper sticker on my car before—
why not take sides—what are you waiting for?
Death puts a stop to daily low intensity warfare but in the meantime—
      fight on!
What are we fighting for? Let’s see—
clean air and water and room to walk around in cities and deserts
America the seeing eye dog not America the junkyard dog—
collective deliberation among nations, clear passage through seas and
      borders
compact and contiguous Congressional districts that represent actual
      communities
education and health care for everyone who wants it—worldwide
good food too, affordable shelter and a living wage
a say in governance—local and global—free from fear of violence

Should you be subsumed by a cause bigger than the self?
unlike Rick in Casablanca who keeps to himself
I’m advertising my loyalties with bumper stickers on rickshaw and kayak
every time I come and go
it’s a free country—or maybe I’m so low profile no one notices or
      cares to take revenge
so small time I have time and no enemies or friends
What about Whitman and his love for Lincoln
he found a way to participate in the war that satisfied his muse, as a
      nurse
oh, I want to add space exploration and no nuclear war
plus basic science and ancient arts, black lives matter

Here are some things you have to put up with or out of mind
while enjoying the beautiful black and white photography and rousing
      Marseillaise:
that Sam, played by Dooley Wilson in worshipful subservience to “Mr.
      Rick,” endures his lonely abnegation and abstinence in Paris while
      Rick savors the nordically white, luscious Ilsa;
that Ilsa, on the lam across the wide world from pursuing Nazis, is
      apparently transporting an extensive, elegant, perfectly manicured
      wardrobe;
that Rick, in wartime Casablanca, has managed to hire a full 20-piece  
      jazz orchestra for which we willingly suspend disbelief since it’s  
      essential for singing the Marseillaise which never fails to bring tears
      of pride to Yvonne’s eyes;
I guess that’s about it except why would you spend a minute in Sydney
      Greenstreet’s fly-infested café when Rick’s air-conditioned
      establishment is right across the street, an overnice contrast to
      Maghreb culture;
otherwise, I’m in complete accord with IMDb’s 8.5 rating.

On the news last night the president changed the trajectory of a  
      category 4 hurricane. He can’t do that! Not my president! They’re  
      laughing at us!
Who’s got trouble? We've got trouble. How much trouble? Too much  
      trouble.
After Casablanca, it's headed for South Carolina.
--Jerome, M.K. and Scholl, Jack, “Knock on Wood”, as performed by Dooley Wilson in the film Casablanca, 1942.
Robert Ronnow Oct 2020
Nothing more intimate than sleep
wake before dawn, go downtown
prepare for tomorrow, come home from work late.

Most cities prosper undisturbed
sleeping peacefully
while the tide goes out.

Are we asleep or are we dancing,
surrounded by buildings,
a primitive fertility dance in the forest?

Sleeping in my clothes,
sleeping in my underwear,
two dead leaves, then a breeze!

Fall asleep by the river,
in front of tv,
soon I will know who I am.

In the last days you may be found sleeping in the laundry mornings,
or in the holy spot
gazing at a crescent moon.

Get up early but gotta nap,
winter afternoons or summer heat
Thanatopsis, Big Comfy Couch.

Sleep in the bed next to your wife
that way when life ends
someone misses you.

That sounds harsh but we’re matter of fact
about the fact of death.
Death is most of all like sleep.

Doctor, engineer, lawyer, soldier,
writer, poet, that’s the pecking order,
get some sleep, get over it.

Not the kind of gal who’ll have *** twice
on the first date. When that happens
marriage, babies, graduations, tragedies, sleep.

Headache, surgery, through it all
there’s sleep, a haven, heaven, hovel, cave, raven,
a place to be with eyes wide open.

Don’t have a hissy fit
or case of colon cancer, get 8 hours
shuteye in contiguous array.

If not, listen to a TED talk, they like explaining things
Selected Shorts solves insomnia,
The Moth Hour, the peaceful father, mother.

Sweet pleasing Sleep!
in Hades
where the lights are always blue, gentian actually.

Every third thought doesn’t have to be about death.
Sleep together, get laid.
Sleep. How memories are made.
Sleep. In the palm at the end of the mind or on another plane.
Robert Ronnow Jul 2020
The Stop & Shop strike v. Game of Thrones.
In Game what’s not made plain
is the condition of the people
compared with warriors and queens.
There’s no mention of land-clearance, tree-felling,
pruning, chopping, digging, hoeing,
weeding, branding, gelding, slaughtering,
salting, tanning, brewing, boiling,
smelting, forging, milling, thatching,
fencing and hurdle-making, hedging, road-mending and haulage.

As for the strike, most of us
supported the cashiers and clerks—
cutting benefits and pensions
when CEOs make millions.
A few pennies more
for ice cream and tofu
a leg up for our neighbors
and comrades in labor. But
don’t get greedy, power-hungry—
we don’t want the supermarket to go out of business
or the Army of the Dead to extinguish us.

A red-tailed hawk observes what small mammals, birds are in the
     clearcut,
awaits the moment to strike.
Three *****, two strikes, full count. Aaron pitched carefully, slow
     strikes and the opposing team scored.
Transit strike. Part-time tutor,
food deliverer, illegal immigrant,
school bus driver, supermarket bagger.
Let labor flow like capital! Full tank of gas!
In your dreams, you kick ***.
In your daydream, you’re breaking bones, killing mean dogs with bare
     hands .
In my childhood dreams, I fought side by side with my best buddies
against the Army of the Dead.
I wake up to a lightning strike and my dream incinerates.

The strike is over, like a thunderstorm.
Still a half dozen or so episodes of Thrones
before it sinks into the past.
Will women save the world?
Anything’s possible.
Nothing changes in Williamstown, Willie, except the seasons.
The wee hours, the bored minutes, the second guesses,
the town sewer department, the collector of taxes.
Pitcher’s elbow, runner’s knee, reader’s eye,
you live until you die.
That’s no answer.
Without the Mexican and Canadian borders
the White Walkers would dissolve like an aspirin in seltzer water.

The sun is up, the strike is over
next episode of Game is Sunday
the White Walkers attack
some of our favorite characters croak
but I guess humanity survives
though the weather is ominous.
The habitable zone around the sun
is moving outward as the orb expands
getting hotter as it grows older.
Earth a billion years ago
was smack in the middle of the turf
but we’re now half-in, half-out
exposed to the sun’s ardor, agony.
The sun a dragon eating its babies, torching cities
we’re gonna hafta outsmart it
hold Labor Day barbecues on Mars.
Turner, James, The Politics of Landscape: Rural Scenery and Society in English Poetry, 1630-1660, Harvard University Press, 1979.
Robert Ronnow May 2020
The moon gazes
through April’s silver maple.

To work, to drive,
to drive to work.

Earth's half-in, half-out
of the sun’s habitable zone.

The rushing stream topples old trees;
the peaceful father, mother.

Powerful with eternity,
blinding with intensity.

Zazen position,
necking in the front seat.

Lazy, happy,
mirror, desert.

Moderation, persuasion, elections.
Way stations, stopgaps, safe havens.

Cheap jewelry can be ****;
stop fixing things with duct tape!

Humor is the only remedy,
not to hate those in authority.

And ritual is remedy,
a death song.

Nothing but matter matters,
chipmunk, groundhog, skunk.

Do not provoke
an angry baboon.

Why care about the future,
the dead don’t live to see it.

I’ve come to see
if this is true.
"Events will still pile up, with or without an identity willing to organize them.”  --Rachel Cusk
Robert Ronnow Apr 2020
One will not live to see the end
of the geopolitical drama,
the existential dilemma—

the small choices people make that change their lives.
They ought to be terrified but they’re blithe
because you can’t know what you’re doing until it’s done.

Acting silly, solving problems.
Scientific method, situation comedy.
Dinosaurs. Sore losers.

Kayak on the Hackensack.
Malebolge. Hoboken.
It was dark in there! It was dark!

You can’t say to people I think I’m dying
because we all have that feeling,
it’s so ubiquitous it’s not worth mentioning.

For your given name
take Destiny.
But survive.

Saturday’s the sweetest
day. You’re off the clock.
Participation’s optional

weedsmoking, videogameplaying,
tvwatching, anonymouslawnmowing,
whatif whatnot oldtimer.

Pass the ******* ball!
I say to Ray who never passes.
The past isn’t dead, it never even passes.

Short sleeves today?
Prepare for a powerful anesthesia.
The afterlife is now.
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