Simple Lives Do Not Exist

Simple lives do not exist
Except in imagined states
Uncluttered by emotion or
Cooked inside the pressures
Of human desire, detached
From feeling, yet scarred
By its result.

Always, another stands by
Waiting to exaggerate
The faults of our simple
Humanity, like Cassius
And Brutus arguing friendship.
But friendship cannot exist
Inside the constraints of power.

Never again (but I cannot
Say never) would we succumb
Under the weight of unmet
Expectation should we see the
Depths to which complexity
Overwhelms simplicity,
Humanity overwhelms perfection
And simple lives do not exist.

Moments Slip

What towering presence
Packed into such a small frame
Unfolds the essence
Of this complex game.
Are you feral or tame?

Mildly fretting over a small thing
Straightaway forgetting my tale.
A vision dances off my simple ring
My head grows dizzy and frail,
With skin tepid and pale.

The sight of your form becomes clear
My eyes connect to yours at last.
I’ve tightened my grip over year after year
For moments slip ever fast.
There is no future or past.

I Tried in That Moment

I tried in that moment to
Energize my weariness.

He told me I am empty.
I replied, “To my core.”

He mentioned neutrinos.
Particles so tiny they must be imagined.

“I’m imagining nothing,” I mentioned,
My casual tone belying my formal attire.

(Did I mention I was tired?)

He knew the math got lost
In this circuitous mind I carry.

I looked blankly as his lips dried.
They moved so quickly in the chorus of conversation.

He tried to illustrate the atom
By conducting his arm out across the city.

“They pass right through you,” he smiled
Triumphantly at this revelation.

I stood holding my caviar hor d’oevres and
Surreptitiously set the cracker on a stone railing.

Urgent tugs across my shoulder and
Elbow followed smiles and pulled me along in his draft.

Politely (perhaps), I stopped short within our space.
“I am a positron and you an electron,” I released my grim assessment.

He looked into my eyes as his smile waned, but not completely.
And nodded in recognition, understanding me for the first time.

As he moved away, I stood among the oeuvre of colors
Watched the elegant scene as one atom passed another.

Each smiled and frowned in their turn, yet interceded
This emptiness I am and with acuity I was filled.

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Philip (Elijah)

You were painting
The room for your son
A first child yet to be born
Then, the call came…

Danger found you awash in courage
Heat from the blaze
Burning up the cool Winter day
A battle you’d won hundreds of times before

Later that night I recalled
Smoking cheap cigars
In your driveway while
Laughing that you knew my cousins more than I

Oh how easily smiles crossed your face
Friends were many and cherished
Deeply inside your heart, faith flourished
Not on your sleeve, in your actions

Irony was absent in the way you died
A church full of hellfire, yet…
Father reached down and carried you
Home on flames, breaking our hearts, mending Heaven’s

Your son drew breath several days after.
His mother named him “Elijah”.

I’m not sure why, but I thought about my friend Philip Dean this evening. He died February 15, 1999, while battling a church fire in Lake Worth, Texas. It was devastating and unfair, but exactly what he wanted-to serve and protect people and their property. My wife and his had roomed together at Texas A&M. I lost the chance to know Philip as well as I’d liked to have. I wrote this not just for Philip, but for my friends Greg Cutler, Rob Pawley, Steve Pierce, and Arturo Montes all firefighters, emergency medical technicians, or policemen. If you know men and women like these, thank them for their sacrifice and the danger they put themselves in on your behalf everyday.

My Blunt Song

How could I have sung
My blunt song so loudly
Let it echo back to me
It’s sharp overwrought tune

How arrogant to think I
Sing what needs singing
To such tender ears
Tinned and deaf to any other song

Let the world pretend
And sing its false harmony
I will sing my blunt song loudly
And wait for an honest reply

Whether discordant or harmonious
I will not say
But listen and judge our two songs,
Though equally blunt,
Equal in elegance, beauty, and worth