April 26,’18

FOGGY BOTTOM

they call it Foggy Bottom,
but is the fog at the bottom?
or is it at the top?

they play chess there
but don’t seem to know what move to make,
or what strategies to plan.

can anyone explain the revolving door, the
labyrinth where bureaucrats come and go
and shuffle papers until they can retire?

I think there used to be statesmen there
perhaps they all escaped from the swamp.

SONNET FOR A SUFFERING SOUL

How can I listen to such music sweet?
It washes through my soul’s dark night of woe
and goes no faster than my heart can beat.
As it decreases to a passage slow
I close my eyes and feel the rising pain
which none but music’s power can summon here.
The passion of my heart has dormant lain
but now evokes a memory of fear.
I feel a salty tear upon my face
while litanies of my life will still recite
omissions and my failure to embrace
the future while the past has shaped my sight.
Play on, oh harmonies deep within my soul;
consume, and my regretful mind console.

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April 16, ’18

WISDOM CRIES

where are the prophetic voices now?
can you hear them?
they are there, muted, straining
to be heard above the cacophony

of wealth and power, of selfish
indifference and indolence.
Will you stop and listen to Wisdom?
she still cries in the street.

Where, oh where are those who
will give their hopes, their dreams
their very lives, to justice,
to love, to others?

Will you come with me into the street?
shall we follow Wisdom,
shall we march to the beat
of her drum? shall we

leave the ranks of the army who
follow the drumbeat
of greed and self-indulgence,
crushing peace underfoot.

Those who step to a military march
see ahead the Mecca of might,
the cathedral of comfort in
a world of wealth.

The marchers in that army stride
on easy street, a smoothly
paved boulevard, unmarked by
prints from their boots.

Those who follow Wisdom struggle
on a potholed, rutted road,
a path our culture forgot to pave,
and they stumble, they fall,

their feet bloody and blistered,
boots long worn through
by unrelenting rocks of caring,
love, and selfless grit.

Somewhere still a prophet’s voice
cries out for justice
and Wisdom leads the way
to peace.

CHALLENGE

It was a mixed talent group,
a choir come together to learn something new.

None were prepared for the challenge. The harmonies
were strange, the rhythms off-beat, and they struggled.

It was a metaphor for life—at first try daunting to
many who aren’t sure they can master it.

Some just go along, pretending
an understanding of what’s required,

needing to be part of a group
while not contributing much.

Some look at the music life has presented
to them, throw up their hands and say

“This is much too hard!
I’m not even going to try.”

Some blame the conductor for choosing music
so difficult. His expectations are too high.

Some look round at the other singers
and think they could never be as good as

those blessed with more natural talent, so
they do not celebrate their own abilities.

But some persevere, knowing it is one challenge
among many, so they look beyond the moment

to the thrill of performance, the final
achievement, no matter how hard it is today.

And then we’ll reach the last page and we’ll hear
those triumphant last chords. The conductor will say,

“Well done!” and we will bask in
his approval and the reward of applause .