Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rodak's Writings: a New Year's Haiku

A few minutes ago, a Facebook friend posted the story of how her grape crop, having fermented on the vine before it could be harvested, was consumed in its entirety by a herd of deer. In telling the story, she composed the phrase, "drunk deer dancing in the moonlight." I noted that it was a great line. Another friend responded, "The first line of a poem?" 

I thought about it briefly and decided that not a poem, but a haiku, could best contain the image:

xxxxxgrape arbor stripped clean
drunk deer dance in the moonlight
xxxxxno jelly this year

And that's how 2013 the Year in Verse, comes to an end.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Readings: Kurt Vonnegut Revisited

Having decided that a good project for the New Year would be to reread the major works of one of the formative authors of my youth, Kurt Vonnegut, I have made an early start this morning by picking up his short-story* collection, Welcome to the Monkey House. The title story of that collection dates from 1968. The excerpt below shows how precisely Vonnegut had his finger to the pulse of the trends that have brought us to the sad place that we are in today:

There was a Howard Johnson's next door to every Ethical Suicide Parlor, and vice versa. The Howard Johnson's had an orange roof and the Suicide Parlor had a purple roof, but they were both Government. Practically everything was Government.

Practically everything was automated, too. Nancy and Mary and the sheriff were lucky to have jobs. Most people didn't. The average citizen moped around home and watched television, which was the Government. Every fifteen minutes his television would urge him to vote intelligently or consume intelligently, or worship in the church of his choice, or love his fellowman, or obey the laws--or pay a call to the nearest Ethical Suicide Parlor and find out how friendly and understanding a Hostess could be.

Although we don't yet have Ethical Suicide Parlors, and a larger percentage of the population still has jobs than Vonnegut predicts will be the case when world population is at 17 billion, practically everything is already the Government.

Vonnegut's protagonist in Welcome to the Monkey House, the underground revolutionary, Billy the Poet, towards the end of the story speaks some prophetic lines to Nancy, the Hostess whom he has kidnapped in order to forcibly detox her from the Government mandated drug that renders every citizen numb from the waist down, and to then deflower.  Nancy says to him: "The world can't afford sex anymore." Billy the Poet replies:

"Of course it can afford sex, ...All it can't afford anymore is reproduction. ...If you go back through history, you'll find that the people who have been most eager to rule, to make the laws, to enforce the laws and to tell everybody exactly how God Almighty wants things here on Earth--those people have forgiven themselves and their friends for anything and everything. But they have been absolutely disgusted and terrified by the natural sexuality of common men and women."

Tea Party, anyone?  This project is going to be fun!
*Actually, there are some short prose pieces other than stories in the book.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Reflections: a Synchronicity?

I belong to a group on Facebook where members share their dreams. This morning I posted the following on that page:

I slept long and well last night--over eight hours, unusual for me. I remember only a snatch of the many vivid and busy dreams I was having: I was in the basement of my house and found that there were foreign students living in at least two different rooms down there. I went into the room of one student, who was Chinese. He was very friendly, but not very fluent in English. We shook hands. He was able to make me understand that he could hearing me pounding on the keyboard of my computer through the ceiling of his room at night.
A couple of hours after getting up this morning, I decided to find a book in my personal library that I had been meaning to reread for a long time, but had never gotten around to reading--"Jesus and Lao Tzu, the Parallel Sayings" edited by Martin Aronson. Once I held the book in my hands, I decided that I would write a blog post on it later today. Having made that decision, I suddenly connected that inspiration to my dream. Forever Jung.
The first section of the book is titled “Simplicity,” which seems to be a thing that I need more of -- in my soul, if not in my life in the external environment. I have simplified my daily actions to a great degree, but my inner life has remained overly complicated. I have suffered great losses over the past two years. Right at the time of each of these crises there is much pain to be dealt with. But each event also entails many necessary activities, the very busyness of which is a firewall against the onset of despair. Only when the last crisis is past and is not immediately followed up by another can each loss be felt in its fullness, and the real pain begin. As I write this today, I think I am as close to despair as I have ever been in this life.  Therefore, simplicity:


Martha, Martha, you are busy and bothered about many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which shall not be taken from her. ~ Luke 10:41

Lao Tzu:

If you keep your mouth shut
and guard the senses
life is free of toil.
Open your mouth
always be busy and life is beyond hope. ~ Tao Te Ching 52


Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 18:3

Lao Tzu:

Being the stream of the universe,
ever true and unswerving,
become as a little child once more. ~ Tao Te Ching 28


Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God. ~ Matthew 5:8

Lao Tzu:

Reveal your simple self,
embrace your original nature. ~ Tao Te Ching 19

This seems as good a place as any to stop. This, too, could become too busy. To quench despair, let go of the circumstances causing the pain--embrace your original nature--become as a little child once more: trusting.


Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. ~ Matthew 6:8

Lao Tzu:

The Tao of heaven does not ask,
yet is supplied with all its needs. ~ Tao Te Ching 73

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Reflections: Christmas 2013

I mourn in lonely exile here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Rodak's Writings: Time Is a Wind


Time Is a Wind

Its essential motion
makes it cold.

We are cooked up
during an interstice –
a brief calm
called the present.

Then time sets
us on the sill
of existence
to watch
each other
slowly cool
to a chill.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Rodak's Writings: Angst



existence reduced

by some kenotic pathology

to a small waiting room

the light is too bright

most of the sad seats

are empty

but just over there

fear that no train comes

fidgets in conspicuous dread

next to fear that it comes

much too soon

silent they sit

each a stranger

far from home

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rants: Against the Dying of the Light

Below are a few random realizations, perhaps brought on by the winter solstice:


It is only the atrocities that get the job done.


A cult of closeted sodomites (and worse), publicly denouncing sodomy.

Thicker Than Water: 

The idea that I legitimately need, or am in any way entitled to, a modicum of emotional support is exposed as delusional by the annoyed indifference of those who are best positioned to know.

New Year's Resolution:

While I am pants-down-ankle-grabbing I will bravely whistle "God Bless America," no matter what happens...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rodak's Writings: Into the Archives

This poem provided the title of a collection of poems, written in the 1970s, that was put together in an unsuccessful attempt to win a prize:

Mythic Passions

Did I come onto the scene
decently clothed and smiling?
That was my little lie.
I was really a sleep-shagged beast,
down from the mountains,
sniffing for springtime.

I dreamt the history of the race
in my rock-bound slumber.

And if I play the game,
speaking of well-trimmed lawns
and sunlit, blossomy gardens,
know that my true keep is the forest maze.
My boundaries run from this tree
to that rock
to the sea.
and the way out is yours
to find.

Would you like to test
my nature?
Feel the beard of my face.
Measure its rasp against that of my cunning.

When I dream I plot.
Call me Snare-Beauty, Crush-Lovely:
by sinew and fang,
I’ve got you now, my Sweet.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rodak's Writings: Muted by Beauty - a poem


muted by beauty

she demands to be heard

his eyes are deaf

her knee is martial

the gentle pets had fled the room

before his fingers started howling

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rodak's Writings: an Old Poem

Here is a poem that is at least 40 years old:

maya, my love

before the wind arose
the grasses had no voice.

before the clouds rolled in
the pond played with the moon.

before the rains came
the mountain sloped just so.

turn down the sheets--
we meet again, my love.

Readings: Oh, my...

Below is another selection, #54, from Jim Harrison's AFTER IKKYU:

This morning I felt strong and jaunty in my mail order
Israeli commando trousers. Up at Hard Luck Ranch I spoke
to the ravens in baritone, fed the cats with manly gestures.
Acacia thorns can't penetrate these mighty pants.
Then out by the corral the infant pup began to weep, abandoned.
In an instant I became another of earth's billion sad mothers.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rodak's Writings: a New Poem



I lick the tip

of my index finger

and press it

to the interior surface

of the emptied

ziploc bag

to capture

the eight or ten

fat grains of salt

that have fallen from

the devoured pretzels –

not even these

shall be wasted --

oh, how they please

my grateful tongue

Rodak's Writings: a Poetry Challenge Successfully (?) Engaged


Yesterday, a Facebook friend and fellow poet named Gail Wolper issued a poetry challenge to a set of her friends. That challenge was to compose a poem, consisting of four stanzas, in any style, based on the prompt, “earth air fire water.”  I immediately remembered that I had already written a poem with that title and went to my files to see if I could use it to meet the challenge. Upon finding the poem, it was evident that it consisted of only two stanzas. I briefly considered trying to make those two stanzas into four, but saw almost immediately that this strategy was not going to work. The original poem is here:

Earth, Air, Fire, Water

Were it all only forms

of fire-laced mineral—

creatio ex nihilo

there’d be no one at whom

to bitch—no one to please—

no one from whom

to hide…

Yet supposing one needed

to have a Whom—

My Whom I would imagine

to smell much like you

in the mounting morning


moving mimic

of the sea.

Having realized that I would either need to start from scratch and compose an entirely new poem, or would have to drastically revise the existing one, I chose the latter option.  This is what I came up with:

Earth, Air, Fire, Water

Were it all only forms

of fire-laced mineral --

creatio ex nihilo--

there’d be no one for whom

to yearn—no one to please --

no one toward whom

to strive …

The roiling clouds of dawn --

dense in their blackness --

could only vent their wet

against flanks

of enervated stone--

its mute indifference

a mockery…

The lightning flash

would ignite vast stands

of tethered timber

that sacrificed

their fragrant vapors

to a faceless void

sans appetite or nostril…

Yet posit there a lonely I

who needed to have a whom—

I would imagine that whom

to smell much like you

in the mounting morning

—tidal—moving mimic

of the Sea…

So, gentle reader – which version do you prefer?