Robert Ronnow Feb 2016

Negligible morsel of biomass
my fat belly, formerly abs
insignificant yet it occupies me
hourly while bored or hungry.

Fat is what? a picture
of despair, giving up caring
or man out of balance, other
side of the world's starving

mass, case of the soul's malnutrition
industrial agriculture, television
supermarkets, vacations, hydrocarbons
and the grid. Electricity, urban

traffic jams, photons at final
rest. Sugars synthesized, abundant
plastics to carry them home in.
Into your house and into your mirror.

Memorizing the periodic table
and learning the calculus makes one
no thinner. Walking the mountain
in heat and cold and rain, alone

or in fire crews should do it. And a
healthy fear of death. A laugh
a day at sex and pain and fate
which renews the biomass I hate.

www.ronnowpoetry.com
Robert Ronnow Jan 2016

Problems many of which are not getting solved
not because I'm not resolved but because I delay
to savor the day, the moon and the season
which is why I'm a non-person under the eye of eternity.

Except for my unpaid bills. And iambic pentameter.
Aaron fails English. Is there summer school?
What an asshole! I want to slug him, but also
his teacher, Mr. Fisher, who's probably

a nice guy, just doing his job and raising a family.
Then there's the catheter from my last surgery
I was so sick I thought I was dying. The out of network
pathologist and radiologist have declined my insurance

and charged me to the hilt. Like I had a choice
face up in the emergency room. Facing doom, you don't ask questions.
Now that I've rejoined the living I've got to raise a million bucks
to save organic farms and endangered species I'll never see.

Perhaps none of this matters and chanting's the answer, Buddhist
      precepts,
or as Dad would say This too shall pass.
Life is a back and forth game but baseball is zen meditation,
you're in right field, nothing's happening, nothing's gonna happen,

but you can't let your attention wander for one second.
I should clean and oil my trumpet for Saturday's gig
or the valves will stick. And leave early enough
not to get stuck in traffic. Other lives, other problems.

A guy who takes the subway to a dead metal desk
and the boss who fires him with the cold hard eyes
of one who accepts the rules entirely. Actually
we're fortunate to have rules because otherwise

child soldiers armed with AK-47s would be shooting up
the village and setting fire to our thatched roofs.
Instead, under the rule of law, when snow falls
even old roofs look like problems with proofs.

www.ronnowpoetry.com

--Francis, Robert, "Old Roofs", Collected Poems: 1936-1976, University of Massachusetts Press, 1985.
Robert Ronnow Dec 2015

Neftlix, Hulu, autumn elaeagnus
thorns, small hairy buds, twigs hyper-lenticelled
fruits supposedly edible, leaves elongated, oblong
xerophytic but found in wetland
introduced species, some say invasive

Xbox is invasive
Hulu is the best source of foreign films
and foreign films represent reality better than American
although reality is not always what we're after
silliness, silly sadness, and relentless laughter

letting my web site go to seed
writing badly is the best revenge
eventually yr doctors find something in you they can't cure
causes some fear, gives some certainty
you're required to tell yr sons and brothers about it so they can make
      informed medical decisions going forward

let's posit the dead, like the dream-lover or -killer
is you in disguise, a facsimile or factotum
stand-in, an actor or actress remembering lines
which are your memories, or if you're not in movies
divinations of things to come, earthquakes and volcanoes

life goes on without a hiccup
you saddle up with the three gentlemen to the River Friday
where a new life begins without sleep as a soul, at least that's the story
      they tell
in these scientific times we apply Joachim's Razor, i.e. most likely
the afterlife will be most like the life before life

when it gets too late to exercise
ignore time, learn slowly to go slowly
through life, rise
early, there is no time only change
an empty belly's holy

and a pussy willow's so alive its buds want to burst
in mid-February when the sun stays up in the sky more than January
this is what I write about, not Tolstoi, nor war
not one conversation or love scene between a man and woman
or illustration of what man has done to man

cars pass I never wave
so many guys are belly fat, women butt fat and they want to sit right
      behind you in the bleachers eating fried foods and wearing
      allergenic perfumes
I like the motionless perfection of autumn elaeagnus
wind in white pines
crows do not annoy but dogs do

a porcupine or coyote is a lucky sight
barred owl or pileated woodpecker
and a black bear is quiet reality itself
I said to the doctors 54 or 84 you always seem to want more when they
      said I'm too young to die
I said dying chooses you you don't choose dying, so it's not my fault

yesterday's walk, today's work
there's no percentage in searching for significance, wanting meaning
and no percentage in respecting death unless it's imminent
I admire the writer who writes 10,000 words per day no matter what
who's got plot

a plague or fire, a spider or a tiger in a boat
stolen Louisiana votes or endangered alligators
in my case common pipewort or pickerelweed floating in a northern
      lake
egrets, loons and hawks
on yr winter walk cedar waxwings foraging for soft rose hips

and talking like people talk
about this and that, work and child rearing, religion or politics
keeping it light and friendly
eating chili and chocolate chip cookies
passing time watching a football game, the superbowl or a movie
      usually a romantic comedy

www.ronnowpoetry.com
Robert Ronnow Nov 2015

1

Sunrise, late winter
skunk smell
turkey flock
playful otter, too.

The white heron
a great blue,
white phase,
in the abandoned beaver pond.

Purple clematis
its long-awned achenes
in globose heads
spidery, fiery, extravagant fruit!

To identify or classify
birds by
the complexity or beauty
of their songs.

And so
what is over that
ridge or hill
a sink-hole, a sand dune, a steep bluff.

2

What must I do. Organize
the heretofore unorganized. The rabble
of unemployed child abusers.
Molesters of their intimates.

Are there dysfunctional bird families?
Simply put, they do not survive.
We have hope
that everyone alive is essential,

consequential. We classify
and specify.
The commonplace and everyday
is sanctified.

What happens everyday?
Morning is quiet, everyone at work.
Home writing, watching birds.
Afternoon, kids come back from school.

Evening, watch tv.
Scotch and Star Trek.
Captain Picard's problems eclipse
ours who stayed behind.

3

Pray to Allah
and maybe he will spare you
when he sets the world
on fire.

Where or with who
will I be on that day?
And how many people and adventures
will I find in the wind storm and rubble?

I may live, but will it matter
whether or not I help anyone else to live?
This is no Last Judgement.
Those who have learned or who still know how to live

will survive.
Nobody will go to hell, they will just die.
There is no limbo either.
Anyone who didn't find a way to be immortal is just dead.

So, what am I trying to do.
Organize the unemployed, the welfare mothers
and alcoholics
into a flying chevron of purposeful explorers?

4

The doctor's conscious, organized,
naive attempt to do good,
his legacy, versus the randomness
of the road and the war zone.

There his legacy is his rectitude and natural
rough compassion for the damaged people
he encounters. The difference
between planning a legacy

as if you knew enough to control events
and letting the legacy arise
from events themselves, controlling,
insofar as you are able, only

your own actions and reactions.
The doctor's leadership role such as it was
grew out of not his material possessions
like the car

but his mission, his personal quest
to find the young doctors he had naively trained
and sent into the war zone
where all died.

5

July-a cold city
not as great or as gritty
as I thought, summer theater left
the shoe shine bereft of customers

eyes cold as a bureaucrat's
except for our soles
and their leather. Sweat-soaked
girls, the beautiful ones left town.

Emotionless as a bus.
Sparrows, no chickadees.
All that's important happens indoors.
Exercise to philosophies.

You get what you see.
The panhandlers ask
just once, won't risk
friendship, justice.

No sale today
in the finite city
where, for the shoe shine,
pedestrians are infinite, times two shoes.

6

Faith = wait + trust.
But don't anticipate.
Popper prohibits prediction.
Niebuhr expects destruction.

I believe in God
doesn't mean there's a sketch
of a man in my head. It must mean
all will be well in the end.

Satisfied with snow
or summer. And now
with dying old or younger.
Gold or paper clips. Gulps or sips.

In the final resting place
in the city of the dead
are there all night card games
and sometimes open swims?

Each inch, square, or cube of Earth
brim with grasses and sedges, dragonflies and spiders, sparrows and
      eagles.
The tiger lily and the water lily and the lily of the valley, the calla lily.
When a girl on a bicycle smiles, that is a smile.

www.ronnowpoetry.com
Robert Ronnow Nov 2015

Spring peepers
stop peeping. A satellite
crosses sky. One peeper keeps peeping
in time to the satellite blinking, an eye.
Deep thinking.

www.ronnowpoetry.com
Robert Ronnow Oct 2015

To read or watch movies, that is the question.
When tired at workday's end, depressed about death's
certainty and my recent surgery
unable to contribute purpose
i.e., figure out whether to bomb Iran
or worship Krshna
and other gods such as Homer gives us in the Iliad
I lack vision therefore I choose television.
Chemistry text, bifurcated plant key
esp. grasses, intro to calculus, physics
unopened time slides by inexorably.
That's the dilemma with no resolution,
drooping rachis, striations on the lemma.
Dying chooses you. You don't choose dying.
So go slow as the day will allow.
The cancer patient's real work is facing
harsh realities and making adjustments:
getting the most out of life, considering
what his children will need after he's gone,
preparing his wife, parents, colleagues and friends,
and completing important professional tasks.
Get the most out of life. That's all God asks.
In Life of Pi the tiger is tiresome, short-sighted
eating everything in sight today, no plan for tomorrow.
The boy, however, is beautiful, reading
the lifeboat manual, building a resting place on the ocean
from oars and life vests, writing about his emotions,
loneliness and observations. The tiger's obsession
with killing keeps our boy alive with fear,
an aphrodisiac, a distraction from any hint
of hopelessness. And then there is the ultimate unknown,
the boy's conversations with Krshna which explain
the innumerable stars and their gentle glow.

www.ronnowpoetry.com
--Heifetz, Ronald, Leadership Without Easy Answers, Harvard University Press, 1994.
--Martel, Yann, Life of Pi, Mariner Books, 2003, as visualized in the film by Ang Lee.
--Shakespeare, William, Hamlet, III, i, 55-87.
Robert Ronnow Oct 2015

The debate between free will and fate has taken a hard right
turn to neuroscience, Brodmann area 4 the primary motor
cortex of the brain located in the posterior frontal lobe
(the one cut out of the one who once flew over the cuckoo's nest).
This area of the cortex has the pattern of a homunculus!
a little man, a troll, the all-wise, mandragon, the golem of Jewish
      folklore.

This little man has a penis that, when fully engorged, is
equal in size to his entire body. However, diseases
such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Lou Gehrig's and
      Creutzfeldt-Jakob
are gunning for him. His basal ganglia are garbled
and he ends up giving poor advice and making bad decisions.
Who can say what happens to his soul or cells or if all will be given
      or well?

I was listening to the famous astronomer on public radio
who expressed the certainty there is no death, your soul
is immortal, it exists outside of time (but not space?). That's because
time exists only in the human mind (as does the entire universe
including the professional baseball season which is canceled when
      you're dead).
By Spring, my problems will be solved or ignored, either way is
      good.

"Imagine if we taught baseball the way we teach science. Until they
      were twelve children would
read about baseball technique and occasionally hear inspirational
      stories of the great baseball
players. They would answer quizzes about baseball rules. They
      would practice fundamental
baseball skills, throwing the ball to second base twenty times in a
      row. Undergraduates might
be allowed under strict supervision to reproduce historic baseball
      plays. But only in graduate school
would they, at last, actually get to play a game." --Alison Gopnik

Groundhog holds the knowledge of death without dying
for man needs help from every creature born.
Will the holocaust wipe the smile off the face of our romantic comedy
or will laughter outlast the outburst?
About the dark times will there be singing?
Yes, there will be singing and some of the songs will be sidesplitting.

Solving the murder reveals the city. Nature of kinships and economic
      sustenance,
who loves whom and why, when things happened and how they lost
      and found themselves
in what happened. Because a meter-making argument cannot appear
from nothingness, purposelessness, just cold.
He does not go where he was supposed to go. He is in the desert,
      Sonoran desert, counting cactus buds and ocotillo blooms.
This is the afterlife for which he has always longed.

www.ronnowpoetry.com

--Gopnik, Alison, "Small Wonders," New York Review of Books, May 6, 1999.
--Brecht, Bertolt, "Motto" , trans. John Willett & "Concerning the Infanticide, Marie Farrar", trans. H.R. Hays, Selected Poems Bertolt Brecht, Grove/Atlantic, 1947.
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