Saturday, December 26, 2015

To Love (the Snow), Or Not

(A Haiku)
by Jim Rapp

Beauty, God  bestows;
Pretty, the ephemeral,
is the gift of man.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Whose Fault Is It? A Christmas Meditation

by Jim Rapp

If there is no love this Christmas
Whose fault is it?
If there is no joy,
Whose fault is it?
If there is no peace,
Whose fault is it?
The Prince of Peace has said:

“If you keep my commandments,
you will abide in my love;
just as I have kept my Father's commandments
and abide in His love.
These things I have spoken to you
so that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be made full.
This is my commandment,
that you love one another,
just as I have loved you.”

"Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give to you;
not as the world gives
do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled,
nor let it be fearful.”

If there is no love this Christmas
Whose fault is it?
If there is no joy,
Whose fault is it?
If there is no peace,
Whose fault is it?

Love, Joy, & Peace,
Gifts from the Father, Son and
Holy Spirit to all who will
receive them.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

another rejection

(from one poet to another)
by Jim Rapp

“thanks for sending
jim though I think
i’ll pass on this on e”

my poem:

“tells much
more than shows,”

it :

“seems to come
out of idea(s),
not the other
wat around
is how it all
more usually
works.” (sic)

uh, thank you.
very helpful.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Thoughts and Prayers

What good is it . . . if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save [anyone]? Suppose [someone] is without clothes and daily food. If one . . . says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and [be] well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

This passage from the Epistle of James (Chapter 2, verses 14-16) came to mind as I read and heard the various politicians offer their “thoughts and prayers” for the victims of the shootings in Paris, in Oregon, in Colorado, and most recently, in San Bernardino.

It goes without saying that anyone who has the capacity of thought should in some way project that thought toward the victims of such horrors. And anyone whose faith tradition includes a belief in the efficacy of prayers should certainly be praying for the survivors and loved ones in these tragic times. That is the least that any of us can to do; pause to consider . . . and pray.

But as the quotation that leads this essay reminds us, in slightly different words, talk – even thoughtful talk, even prayerful talk; especially pious talk – is cheap. To tell a needy person, “go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but to do nothing about their needs is to do nothing at all. And to tell the victims of slaughter by military grade weapons, “I’m thing of you; I’m praying for you,” when we have the capacity to do something more meaningful is a mere waste of breath and insensitive to the grief they are enduring.

There are things the politicians can do about gun violence that they refuse to do because they are captives of the NRA. They have sung the NRA’s theme song so long that they have forgotten that it is mere propaganda; they now believe it is Biblical-grade truth. They take their turns at the altars of Fox News berating anyone who would suggest that a person who is on the Homeland Security’s No-Fly list should be denied the right to own a military assault rifle. They will not be satisfied until every citizen in every venue is “packing heat.” Then there will be peace. They are fools – calculating fools – and the majority of the American citizens know that to be true; even the majority of NRA members know that to be true. So why does nothing change?

That brings me to another thing – beyond mere “thoughts and prayers” – that can be done. If the majority of Americans elect not to “pack heat,” and they do; if they know that assault style weapons have no place in civilian life, and they know this; if they know that gun registration is no threat to the freedom of our citizens, and all but the most radicalized know this, then why don’t they add some deeds to their “thoughts and prayers?” Why don’t they throw out – or at least make credible threats to throw out – their Senators and Representatives who have sold their souls to the gun industry and its advocate, the NRA? Why don’t they resign their membership in the NRA and the Republican Party until both organizations come to their senses?

Every sentient citizen of the United States is either thinking of or praying for the victims of violence today. Our TVs command our attention and our sense of decency (or guilt) requires us to pray or at least observe a few seconds of silence. But if we, as a nation, only say to the wounded, the widows and orphans, “Be healed, stay safe, be happy again;” if we do nothing to lessen the likelihood of future tragedies; if instead we allow our nation to become the arsenal of violence, then our words are hollow and our professions of concern are nauseous.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Make Your Molecules Useful – Do Something

by Jim Rapp

The weather did something today; it rained,
a cold rain, driven against the window pain,
driven into fabric, onto pavement, on the tin
roof of the car – speeding increased the din.

All things should do something, they’re put here –
mountains, trees, rivers, sunrises, ants and deer –
to do, be, justify the time and space they occupy,
to live, die, then for future uses, humus supply.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Stalled at the Trailhead

by Jim Rapp

Standing at the entrance to a dark, intriguing wood
whose well-worn path grows ever narrower,
yet bearing testimony to previous adventures –
raising questions of intent, motives and outcome –
one's mind suggests it might be one-way only;
            that no one comes out.

Before embarking, it would be good to see signs
of two-way travel; footprints would be nice
if one could decipher direction but it’s seldom
one can tell. Assorted vehicles left at the trailhead
yield no help; they imply only intention – hope;
            the expectation of a return.

How firm are the bicycles’ tires? How warm
to the touch are the autos’ engines? How long
            have they been waiting?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ring of Fire

by Jim Rapp

What began an accidental spark
burned brightly among the tinder,
slowly gaining notice of those
who then would feed it with intention.

Soon ardor fought to find a twig or bark
to nosh its flames; sought to hinder
wind or rain or ought else that rose
to damp its blaze through inattention.

And so it long endured, log fed,
hand tended, embers glowing brightly,
providing warmth and light and joys
to those who came within its sphere.

Then, its purpose satisfied, red
embers turned to dark’ning coals, rightly
yielding to the law that alloys
are only for a season here.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The "Big If" Theory

by Jim Rapp
(In the beginning was the Word . . .
through him all things were made.
(Jn 1:1,3)

If all that we call home –
the sod beneath our feet,
the sod within our bones,
the sod that flies beyond
the reach of telescopes,
beyond the reach of
mind or comprehension –
is the dénouement of
one Divine Thought,
one uttered Word,
then we perhaps owe
our existence to just one
among many fleeting  
pregnant thoughts
of a Creator
who must ever be
thinking and making –
worlds without end.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Poet Tasters

by Jim Rapp

The masses like their poetry to rhyme,
to undulate while beating time
with every shift of phrase or line;
an easy ode to quote or mime.

The pros are taken by oblique
ramblings coming from the deep
recesses of the unconscious keep
in which their inky musings steep.

I shoot down the middle mostly,
rhyming when I can do so justly,
not when it trivializes thusly;
plumbing the keep in deep futility.

To each his own they often say,
store shelves are filled that way;
but with poets’ books? Today?
Nor deep nor rhyme nor any form of lay.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Am I My Mother’s Keeper?

(A Haiku Quartet)
by Jim Rapp

Mankind, it appears –
the latest to lift its feet from
the mire that birthed it –

is latest but not
wisest; other brothers live
truer to their roots;

our older brothers,
by instinct sense connected
cords that bind and bless;

by instinct know what
intellect knows not; we are
our mother’s keeper.

Office Updates

by Jim Rapp

My new office is a mess, but not as bad, I suppose
I should confess, as it may look when I’ve composed
its finalness; when it’s endured what I, and time impose.

The office I would own, would gleam in pristine
orderedness, would turn the eye while making green
with envy everyone whose efforts fail to top its scene.

But as I say, this bedraggled room may fare no better
than the way a dozen-past have fared whose latter
end always gravitated to a state of nearly utter clutter!

Still I try, issuing weekly updates, moving this and that
on the sly, so in case my late adjustment isn’t what
I want my “final working place” to be, I can roll it back


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Waiting For Winter

by Jim Rapp

We have had no snow to speak of,
scarcely enough for a snowball,
no need yet to put on my gloves;
temps still reminiscent of fall.

Joy for those who detest winter
(while choosing to live up north where
snow and cold made this the center
of joy for those whom winter cheers.)

November’s past, December too,
or halfway so, and still no snow;
what’s a winter lover to do;
pack up, and further north to go?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Late Night Thoughts on Peace

by Jim Rapp

Peace is not the cessation of conflict,
but ceasing to be overcome by conflict.

Conflict is not the cessation of peace;
peace ends when one wills not to be at peace.

True peace is a condition of a mind,
unmoved by the conflicts that surround it.

Peacemakers are not conflict deniers;
grudgingly they wage conflict to win peace.

Conflict never ushers in lasting peace,
only weariness of conflict brings peace.