Sunday, December 31, 2023

This New Year's Eve (Poem)

This New Year's Eve
the world again will refuse
the weight of grief – the war
declared for "absolute victory,"
the wounded strangers left
homeless in the Strip, Putin's
trains stalled at Ukraine's border,
Red Sea shipping lanes rocketing
with Houthi fire. Tonight,

for once, the world will crowd
the evening with too many

noise-makers – every body in
Manhattan showing up in the Square

with its glistering crystal ball
twelve feet in diameter.

Down a pole the orb will come,
marking more than a century

of midnight shifts, one year
folding into the next, precisely kept

for the more than billion revelers
tuning in via tv or Internet.

We will all look for the patterns
and meanings in the glass,

the balm of Love and Wisdom,
Happiness and Goodwill,

Harmony and Serenity,
Kindness and Fortitude,

Wonder and Imagination.
We will try to spot the hearts

overlapping, the wheel spinning,
Earth's sun, three pineapples,

butterflies in flight, a starburst
out of our Universe. And we will

recall the resolutions newly made,
already broken, sip Top 5 champagnes,

and keep our ears and eyes open.
Later will be time enough to protest.


The words "absolute victory" come from Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, referencing the goal of the country's war with the terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

Various Facts about the New Year's Eve Crystal Ball in Times Square

Some Other New Year's Eve Poems of Mine:

Thought for the Day

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
~ T. S. Eliot

Quoted from T. S. Eliot, "The Rock" (Opening Stanza from Choruses), 1934.  Note: "The Rock" was a 21-page verse pageant play written on behalf of 45 Churches Fund of the Diocese of London. It was performed at Sadler's Wells Theatre. An edition of 1,000 copies was published by Faber and Faber, London.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), Poet, Essayist, Editor and Publisher, Playwright, Literary Critic; Winner, Nobel Prize in Literature, 1948

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Thought for the Day

We only get one chance to live this life of love.
Every day is a lesson in love, learning how not to
bind up ourselves and our neighbors, but in fact
to free ourselves and others.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr

Quoted from Richard Rohr, "The Prophetic Path: Motivated by Love - Knowing Jesus for Ourselves" from Daily Meditations, Center for Action and Contemplation, December 1, 2023

Richard Rohr, Franciscan Friar and Ecumenical Teacher; Founder, Center for Action and Contemplation; Author

Thursday, December 21, 2023

There is a light (Poem)


There is a light

that flickers violently
in the Middle East.

On this, the darkest
and longest of nights,

what has not been razed
in Gaza gives shelter:

a wind-whipped tent
among tents, a hospital

corridor, the burned-out
shell of an Orthodox church

where Christ, new-borne,
will lie among the rubble.

Soon a blast mistaken
for God's own voice joins

with the cries of children,
the silencing wails of women.

Snow is falling in Gaza,
and somewhere there

is a light that flickers,
land within sight.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Thought for the Day

[. . .] I think about tears as a doorway: an invitation
to be fully human and to connect with others,
in all the complexity that entails.
~ Benjamin Perry

Quoted from Benjamin Perry, "What I Lost When I Stopped Crying" (Excerpt) in The Atlantic, May 15, 2023; Online

Benjamin Perry, Minister; Author, Cry, Baby

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Thought for the Day

Be grateful, be father and mother, /
Be teacher, sister and brother /
In all that you dream and do, /
Against the day your ledger /
Is opened to you.
~ Robert McDowell 

Quoted from Robert McDowell, "Grateful" from On Foot, In Flames (University of Pittsburgh Press) in Robert McDowell, Sweet Wolf Selected & New Poems (Homestead Lighthouse Press, 2021), p. 96

Robert McDowell, Poet, Author (Fiction, Criticism, Translation, Creative Nonfiction), Editor; Co-Founder (with Mark Jarman) of The Reaper Magazine and Story Line Press; Founder, Rural Readers Project; Co-Founder, Poets Prize; College and University Educator; Social Activist; Public Speaker

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Staying Ahead of the Danger (Poem)

Staying Ahead of the Danger

Drone-dropped leaflets float down
like so much manna from heaven:
warnings with QR codes for
downloadable color-coded maps
outlining the "dangerous combat
zones" in the killing fields of Gaza.

There is no electricity to charge
the phones the IDF is calling.

Texts follow anyway. Evacuate,
those first ones order; stay inside

"known" shelters and schools,
command others. An official

spokesperson fails to see
the contradiction, estimates

that for every one Hamas militant
eliminated, two civilians die.

Let's be clear: This is the calculus 
only his government can live with,

the toll now "something more"
than the losses recorded yesterday,

and still "more than acceptable
compared to other armies

facing similar challenges 
in urban battlefields." After all,

what choice is there? "We
didn't start this war," he argues. 


The quotes in this poem come directly from an Israeli military spokesperson's explanation of his country's warning system, which uses air-dropped leaflets, drone broadcasts, telephone calling, texting, and Internet communications to warn Gazans to move out of harm's way as the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) advances its war against Hamas militants. Displacement in one area flows from displacement in another. As this Washington Post article makes clear from interviews with Gazans and humanitarian aid officials, there are no safe spaces for the Palestinians, not in homes, schools, hospitals, churches, or other shelters, especially where all essential services have ceased to exist. (See "Israel touts civilian warning system, but for Gazans, nowhere is safe".) The spokesperson's additional comments about the number of civilians killed compared to the number of militants are appalling, though the individual hastened to add – too late, in my opinion, to register a sense of compassion – that "any loss" is unacceptable. Numbers are telling. Facts are facts. We must all drop the scales from our eyes if we are to see this war, and this horrendous crisis for Palestinian civilians, in clear light and at last acknowledge those unlike ourselves as the human beings they are. (See also this New York Times coverage and, in particular, "An Airstrike hits Rafah, where Israel had urged Gazans to seek safety," (December 6, 2023):

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Thought for the Day

[. . . ] I lived in the present, which was
that part of the future you could see. [. . .]
~ Louise Gluck

Quoted from Louise Gluck, "Landscape," The Threepenny Review, Winter 2005

Louise Gluck (April 22, 1943 - October 13, 2023), American Poet and Essayist; Winner, Nobel Prize in Literature, 2020; United States Poet Laureate, 2003-2004