Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Idolizing a Rock and Ignoring The Rock
by Jim Rapp

And (Gideon) said, "I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder."

Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town.

All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.

After years of wrangling the great day dawned;
the 10 Commandments were installed on the lawn
of the Arkansas State Capitol; but one day later, alas
Satan attacked them and felled them with one blast.

Michael Tate Reed broke all 10 Commandments,                            
flagrantly, smashing them with his Dodge Dart,                                     
heralding his sins on Face book with great abandment,
er, abandon – smiling broadly for the police photo art,




The sponsor, Jason Rapert broke commands one and two,
and flagrantly, proudly, posed for a photo to prove it.
The flag and the eagle smashed the 1st Law in two,
and the whole "graven" monument broke the 2nd to bits.


















But Arkansans have, like all of us, broken the other eight;
with Wal-mart open twenty-four seven early and late,
Huckabee using God's name in vain (for political gain)
and wardens killing two inmates a night, it is quite plain

that adultery, stealing (in all forms), bearing false witness,
or eying their neighbors stuff, are sins they'd do with no stress.
So who's the Law Breaker, Reed, Rapert, or all of mankind?
"In breaking one, you've broken all," the Teacher reminds.

There is a reason God has hidden Moses' tablets from sight.
He knew we'd worship (but not keep) them; that we'd fight
to the death to "own" those great stones; and Arkansans might,
lord it over Badgers – feeling, on all points, they're more right.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Opposite Way

(I am the way . . . Jesus)
by Jim Rapp

Going the in way –
We'd advise turn round
and soon to your amaze
you'll find what we found

That an opposite way
has much surer ground
than the slippery clay
of the way you're bound

Take it from Youth who trod
the un-opposite
road of the Untoward
walking toward night

Take it from Age who treads
now the apposite
with no fear and no dread
walking toward light


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Picture Perfect

by Jim Rapp

Innocence
snowbound,

curled
in a borrow
white chair,

wearing
a burgundy sweater,
dark jeans,

reading
a grey-green,
hard-covered book,

pencil
pointed to the sky,

wearing
a stolen,
over-sized tan cap,

snitched
from her sister,

face
framed
in brown hair,

lips
pursed,

eyes
downcast
at the page,

hand
enlarged
by camera's angle,

picture
out of focus
and perfect.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Truthlessness and Ruthlessness

by Jim Rapp

Since that first lie, "You'll not surely die,"
things have gone from bad to worse
but there always seemed to be a tithe of a tithe
who valued truth, who were averse
to advancing the deceiver's subtle lies.

But now it seems a tithe of a tithe of a tithe,
one in a thousand who upholds the true,
exposes the lie and Liar, and desperately tries
to preserve for our offspring the view,
once granted, that truth is preferred to lies.

Only one in a thousand; it's merely a guess,
but I'm guessing because of the shrugs one meets
when decrying the President's truthlessness;
from clergy, and their "evangelical" sheep;
Congressional "Christians" and the VP no less.

When the son of man comes, Jesus asked,
will he find faith on the earth?  Will he?
Faith enough to recognize the contrast
between Truth and the Lie; faith to see
the hypocrites parading behind their masks?

When our President speaks, he lies,
he can't help himself, he lies compulsively;
there is no credible evidence he tries
restraint; he lays his lies for all to see
before his "Christian" voters' eyes.

Those who should be most attuned
to truth; those who profess to follow
Christ the Truth, now prune
their moral scruples, wallow
in Trump's lies, cheer and swoon.

When you return, Lord of Truth,
expect no welcome from the posse
of truth-deniers, expect no ruth
from the righteous liars who'll see
a second chance to crucify the Truth.
_____________________
ruth: sympathy


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Secrets to Looking Better Than You Are

by Jim Rapp

Wanna look really slim?
Find a very fat man and stand by him.

Wanna seem really smart?
Speak only a little but smile a whole lot.

Wanna be the best in your class?
Get on your feet and conquer some task.

Wanna feel like a millionaire?
Find a man at the bottom and show him you care.

Wanna appear more humble than you are?
Wave the flag, quote the Bible and drive an old car.

Wanna be known as "balanced and fair"?
Call FOX; they've got a few openings I hear.

Wanna be thought of as the world's best friend?
Be one; find someone in need and extend them a hand.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Triumvirate

(Trump, Pence and Putin)
by Jim Rapp

Laughter without joy,
Intimacy without relationship,
Embraces with dagger in hand,
Smiles hiding malice.
__________________________________________________________
"The quality of a smile can make one die"
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Lettre à un otage

"That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain -"
Hamlet, Shakespeare




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Do You Ever Get Over It

by Jim Rapp

sitting around was never an option
unless the work was done
the work was never done
so sitting around was not an option
unless it rained and forced us in
it seldom rained and forced us in
so sitting around was not an option
unless . . . unless . . . you get the point
the work was never done
so sitting around was not an option

but now that I've grown old
sitting around is the only option
the work is still not done
it still seldom rains
the days are filled with sun
I should be busy – on my feet
but now sitting around is the only option

I worked from youth to age
refusing to sit around
and now it is the only option
will it ever seem right
to sit from dawn to night
does one ever get over it
get over the guilty feeling that
sitting around is not the only option


Monday, June 19, 2017

They Died Doing What They Loved: A Common Euphemism

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

No! He died dying;
Death and only death consumed
his frantic thinking.

No! She died dying!
In the course of doing what she
loved, death overtook her.

They did not die, as
euphemists would have us think,
doing what they loved.

They fought dying with
feral desperation; went
hard, and died trying

to wring from death a
reprieve in which again to
do the thing they loved.



Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Guest Prophet Speaks To the Issue of Words

The talking heads, the T.V. bloviaters, late night comedians, the Internet trolls, the tweeters and Face Book posters, when challenged about the harshness, the deceptiveness, the untruthfulness, the crassness and vulgarity of their words (or the words of a someone whom they are championing) are quick to deny that their words are responsible for violent actions taken by deranged individuals.

They find it implausible that there is any linkage between the persistently hate filled and unrestrained speech they feed their listeners and the violence that is metastasizing in our communities. They are, they protest, simply exercising their Constitution right of free speech. As though that right came with no concurrent responsibility for the consequences of that speech.

Eugene Peterson, when translating the Gospel of Matthew for The Message (his translation of the Bible) paraphrased in powerful language the already strong prophetic words of Jesus, warning of the consequences of violent, evil and indiscriminate speech.

The butt of this warning, spoken by Jesus, reported by St. Matthew, and translated by Peterson, was the Pharisees and other teachers and leaders of Jesus day. The political leaders, commentators and provocateurs of our day would do well to contemplate their words in light of this warning.

“You have minds like a snake pit!
How do you suppose what you say
is worth anything when
you are so foul-minded?

It’s your heart, not the dictionary,
that gives meaning to your words.
A good person produces good deeds
and words season after season.
An evil person is a blight on the orchard.

Let me tell you something:
Every one of these careless words
is going to come back to haunt you.
There will be a time of Reckoning.
Words are powerful; take them seriously.

Words can be your salvation.
Words can also be your damnation.”
_______________________
(Matt 12:34-37 The Message)


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sowing and Reaping

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. "

So says the New International Version of the Bible. The New Testament, to be more specific. Galatians 6:7 to be exact. That wisdom applies more broadly, I believe, to include societies as well. What societies sow they will reap, and if they sow to the wind they will reap the whirlwind.

Our society now glorifies violence – physical, verbal, economic and political – in unblushing regularity in almost every arena of our lives.

Watching TV after 7 p.m. is an exercise in staring down the barrel of one gun after another all in the name of "art".

Half our "news" media is devoted to denigrating honorable men and women for political and financial gain.

 Politicians use their "muscle" to deny workers representation, voters the ballot box, the handicapped a decent living, the poor good wages and decent health care, minorities their human rights and immigrants the hope that American has long been noted for.

The Internet, Face Book, Twitter and other venues trade in trash talk, lies, libel, and slander to say nothing of sexual filth – cyber-bullying is the new blood sport, our national pastime.

One half of our political infrastructure is devoted to propping up an obvious house of lies.

No conservative politician, and few liberal ones, dare speak boldly in favor of gun control of even the more innocuous variety. (One Congressman at the tragic shooting today in Virginia expressed regret that he did not have a gun with him. Why? So he could blow his own foot off as he struggled to get it out of a holster or his pocket? So he could send errant bullets flying through the neighborhood endangering the lives of innocent people? Police officers,trained to shoot in emergency situations only hit their target 34 percent of thetime.)

Nearly every Republican politician has signed a pledge (or more than one) that obligates them to political bosses and prevents them from representing the needs and wishes of those whom they purport to represent.

Beginning with Ronald Reagan, Republicans have sown every seed of division they could find or invent, refusing more recently, from the first day President Obama was elected, to support anything that might be seen as a success for their opponents.

And now, when violence tragically strikes some of their own, as it did today, our Republican President suddenly appears as an ambassador of reconciliation, recognizing, in a poorly read, written statement, that "everyone who works in Washington, D.C. loves our country". Wow, what an epiphany for the Great One who has spent the last two years trashing the name and reputation of every Democrat, and that of many Republicans who live and work in our nation's Capital. Has he forgotten the many times he averred that President Obama did not love the United States of America? But let us rejoice in his new found bipartisanship. Let us hope his sudden softening of heart will survive through the week before he returns to Twitter Trashing again.

Do I appear to be a bit fired up? Just a bit cynical? I deplore what the man from my home state (Illinois) did today, targeting Republicans with his, presumably legally obtained AK-47. But I understand, in ways that President Trump, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Shawn Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and others of that ilk do not, that when you create an atmosphere of denigration, as they have done for the last eight years, the venom you have injected into the body politic can't be turned off when the gun is aimed at your head. Someone - Democrat, Republican or nothing at all - will take your words and turn them to uses you will deny intending them to be used for.

But only a fool, or an ambitious charlatan who trades in such words, can pretend that they are not partly to blame for the violence engulfing our society and world.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

And No One Called In Sick

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

I watched the love fest –
the first full meeting of the
new Trump Cabinet –

each in turn giving
praise to their self-adoring
Chief, the Great Donald!

I wondered who sent
the memo demanding brief
paeans adoring

the One who alone
can make American Great
Again, the Wizard

whose command is their
wish, whose "hope" is a command
irresistible.

What I really would
like to know is whether his
"hope that they'd all

find it in their hearts
to praise him" galled even one
of those gathered there;

whether even one
left ruing the dirt their tongue
had licked from his boots;

whether anyone
wished they had had the guts
to reject the call;

whether, playing the
coward, anyone had thought
of calling in sick.




Saturday, June 10, 2017

Thin Gruel

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

"Where is the Life we
have lost in living?" asks the
Wise Poet.*

"Where is the Wisdom
we have lost in knowledge?" prods
the zealous Prophet.*

"Where is the Knowledge
we lost in information?"
asks the Oracle.*

What good is living;
what good is knowing; what good
are hoarded factoids

if, bereft of Life
and Wisdom and Knowledge, we
are left hollowed out?

What does it profit
a man to gain the whole world
but lose his own soul?

The Son offers the
Way (Wisdom), the Truth (Knowledge),
and Life (Eternal).

Come, all you who thirst,
come to the waters; and you
who have no money,

come, buy and eat! Come,
buy wine and milk at no cost;
buy without money.

Yet, starving for Real
Food we sell our birthright for
a mess of thin gruel?
___________________
*T.S. Eliot, "The Rock"

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Degeneration

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

The farther from God,
the closer to dust, says the
poet Eliot.*

Makes sense, the "image"
fades, and all that is left is
the primitive clay.
_____________________
* T.S. Eliot, Choruses from
"The Rock", I


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Guest Poet - T.S. Eliot

This portion of a poem by T.S. Eliot speaks so powerfully to the moment in history in which we are living. Of course since Eliot wrote it one hundred years ago or so we can not claim exclusive right to the sentiments it expresses. But the cycles of history brings us by these periods when our culture seems devoid of meaning, devoid of truth, close to death, far from God. What is the average person to do about it? Turn from the hollow and seek substance. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.


Choruses from "The Rock" – T.S. Eliot

                                    I

The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.
O perpetual revolution of configured stars,
O perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
O world of spring and autumn, birth and dying!
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
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?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from God and nearer to Dust.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Children in the Closet

by Jim Rapp

The host invited me to see his new "toy,"
duly kept in a gun safe tucked away
in a secret place; not left leaning in a run-
of-the-mill glass-doored gun display.

To see the prized possession we had to
walk through a family/recreation room.
To my pleasure I saw two youngsters who,
busy with toys, were "lost" their refugium.

"Who are these?" I quizzed my host,
who seemed to little notice them.
The girl was barely nine, I'd guess, at most,
the boy, six. They glanced, but not again.

"They came with the place," my host replied,
"They appear at times, take out the toys
and play until of dolls and cars they've tired,
then put away the toys of girls and boys."

"Do they live here?" I asked in amazement.
"In the closet," he explained and pointed.
They glanced but continued their enjoyment;
my host proceeded to the guns, undaunted.

An hour later my host pointed to the place
in which the children were at play.
No dolls or cars were littering the space,
and no children on the carpet lay.

"When will they come again?" I asked.
"One week, or two. They're capricious;
I'll see them suddenly when at some task.
They'll play an hour or two then leave us."

It was a selling point, he indicated;
a reason why he bought the place,
a reason the former owner vacated,
who was scared by Elvin faces.

"Do you know their names?" I asked.
"They are very shy," he said; "they seldom speak,
but even though they try, their names to mask,
"Kylie," and, "Aidan," they whisper on the sneak.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Buttermilk Sky

by Jim Rapp

Is there a sky
less beautiful
than any other?

Is one child
less comely
than another?

Does anything
God-made
want for beauty?

The eye of the
beholder
creates beauty.

Some find
cloudy days;
vexatious.

H. C.  turned
one into song:
"Ole Buttermilk Sky"


Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Word From the Fearful to the Trusting


by Jim Rapp
(Haiku Form)

Questions from adam anthropos
            to the inarticulate

Robins, heads bobbing
above the tall grass, seeking
grubs; do you not fear?

Squirrels, are you not
aware as you frisk and tear
paths from tree to tree?

Clouds, nonchalant and
unconcerned, are you mindless
of perils below?

Lilies, committing
your young to a distressed world,
are you not fearful?

Forests, why are you
bearing spring leaves; to mask a
world gone awry?

Sun, you surely are
incensed when dark returns each
time you turn your back?

A warning from adam anthropos.

Robins and squirrels,
clouds, lilies, forests and sun;
all give heed to this:

The world is hostile.
Your indifference will not
guard – will not save you.

All creation is
under attack, you and all
the things you value.

Mankind, your ordained
protector, has been beguiled
by the enemy,

no one is left to
stand for you save a remnant
without strength or hope.

And still you stand dumb,
day after day, as though no
threat of danger looms.

A word from the Maker

Adam Anthropos,
There are lessons that robins
at work can teach you;

Lessons the lilies,
pushing their way through stubborn
sod, want to show you;

Lessons the sun on
its faithful, assured rounds can
illustrate for you.

Robins and squirrels,
clouds, lilies, forests and sun
all give heed to this:

"Take no thought for the
morrow; for the morrow is
in the Maker's hands."


Friday, May 12, 2017

Bits of Wisdom

by Jim Rapp

"Life is so uncertain,"
He said.
"It certainly is,"
She replied.

"There is a lot to be said,"
He said,
"For saying nothing."
"Indeed," she smiled.

"Keep your chin up,"
He said.
"Yes, but watch your step,"
She cautioned.

"Much smoke, no fire,"
He concluded.
"Where there's smoke there is fire,"
She countered.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Is There any Straw?

by Jim Rapp

Is there any straw that can break the elephant's back;
a misdeed that will wipe the tolerant smile from Pence's lips,
a lewdness so crass it turns a Falwell's or a Robertson's gut,
a lawlessness evil enough to elicit Mitch McConnell's rebuke,
a menace sufficient to drive Paul Ryan to a principled stand,
humiliation severe enough to lure Mitt Romney from exile?

Can any truth penetrate the darkness that is Donald Trump?

Is there any straw that can break the elephant's back? 


Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Eldila Are Back

by Jim Rapp

With no sun-facing windows
I've been bereft
of eldilas – rainbow shadows –
splashing right and left.

But my new third-floor abode
catches sunbeams
in my tear-shaped crystal globe
emitting a stream

of dancing reminders that
I'm not alone;
that my room is in fact
an eldil zone.

Goodness is all around
all the time;
it often makes no sound
rings no chime,

but God hangs his prisms
so that they
reveal His omnipresence
in a way

a seeking heart can know;
by splitting light
into a dozen rainbows
His crystallites

remind us, day by day,
from start to end,
When one or two have come to pray,
His love attends.


Monday, May 1, 2017

A Bouquet For the Winter-weary

by Jim Rapp

May is our reward
for patient endurance of
windy winter cold.

Thinking  picnics and
baseball not gift enough, it
brings a bouquet too.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Trio of Thoughts on the Future of Energy

Someone Has Faith in the Future

Recent travels led us
alongside miles and miles
of new plank roadways
intended to thread
a 345 kilowatt power grid
through the swampy valleys
and over the wooded hills,
paralleling I-90 and I-94
as they wend
            toward the Dells.

Giant steel tubes,
laid out last autumn,
still wait,
prepared to stand in for
superannuated wooden poles
that once sated our appetite
for electric power.

A few already are standing,
pre-rusted,
bolted to the earth,
arms extended,
awaiting orders,
reaching
for something to hold;
eager for cranes
and trucks
and dozers
to test the plank roads
straining to string the wires
and complete the
            dreamers' dreams.

Those who predict –
almost gleefully await –
the end of all things,
would never build
a grid for the future;
they see no future.

Only those with faith
"as a grain of mustard seed" –
only those who say
to mountains, "Be removed!"
to valleys, "You are no obstacle"
to swampland, "Paved,
            you shall be a highway" –

These alone
are they who see a future world,
voraciously impatient,
unrelentingly demanding the
mega-watts these planners
            will deliver.


  
A Ballet for Our Babies
(Haiku Form)

The wind blows where it
wishes, and it wishes to
blow in Illinois.

Today I saw it
play a leading role in an
open-air ballet.

Across the miles, rows
of stately dancers – turning, face
to the wind – performed.

Lithesome arms, in slow
motion – choreographed by
unseen directors –

each took a slice of
wind, and then another 'til,
with quota filled, they

restructured breath as
kilowatts, kilowatts as
baby formula.
  
Convening a Panel on Clean Energy

Forty thousand
photovoltaic-powered panels,
pivoting on fulcrums,
teetertotter from morning to evening,
ever facing their dark surface
            to the Indiana Sun.

Opponents and proponents debated
the merits and demerits of the plan,
appointed commissions to
ascertain the costs and feasibility
            of clean energy.

Back and forth, up and down,
the fortunes ebbed and flowed;
elections tilted
one way one year,
the other way another –
            until

the doers won;
a forty-thousand-paneled panel
teetertotters now beside
            Indiana I-70.

In league –
arrayed in unanimity –
they're drinking in,
and pouring forth,
             Sol's inexhaustibility.




Friday, April 21, 2017

First Embrace

(A Haiku)

Though often not the
very first, the first embrace
says, "You're loved, my Friend."


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hang Down Your Head, O'Reilly

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

Moses warned the Jews,
"Be sure your sins will find you
out." They always did.

Too bad the giant
of Fox's No Spin Zone failed
to heed Moses' words.

Now it's time to Hang
down your head, O'Reilly, hang
down your head and cry,

hang down your head, spin
meister; poor boy, time's past for
you to say goodbye.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

When China Speaks in "American"

by Jim Rapp

Where is the city on the hill,
the bastion of righteousness,
freedom's repository, the haven
for the ragged, harried throng?

The lights are fading; fading fast
in London, Paris, Moscow, Berlin –
east to west democracy's sun is setting;
Liberty's torch is flickering again.

Xi Jinping, in non-native English,
warns, "A cloud is growing over Korea,"
shaming the superficial, bellicosity
uttered by the grammar-challenged one.

When will someone – anyone – rise to say,
"The emperor has no clothes!";
that even Xi Jinping, speaking in "American,"
declares truth Trump's words cannot articulate?


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

In Memory of A Friend

Mark died Saturday – cancer-worn at last,
but not before he blessed the world with
wisdom and wit in song, and friendship fast.
I will celebrate his friendship; I've a list
too long for verse, of memories past;
long talks while driving after work, and this:
a picture of Lake Martha with shadows cast
by shoreline trees and, from above, cloudy wisps.

It was a gift for my retirement and, before
we moved, it hung in easy daily sight;
I'll return it to its place and thus restore
the memories: choir concerts, laughter light;
the favors and his generosity to me – to all:
students, friends and, no less, the O-F staff.
But really, it’s music-with-a-wink that we'll recall;
guitar and banjo tunes, some wise, some daff.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Prophets in the Age of Trump

by Jim Rapp

Thank God for the prophets; the bearers of bad news.
No, not the preachers; you can forget them,
most have gone silent; some speak with hesitation,
others have made league with the darkness.

The true prophets were slow to emerge -
they always do, eventually, emerge.
Only when Trump penned the prophets up,
and goaded the crowd to jeer at them, did they stir.

And even then they felt it their journalistic duty
to portray the liar's rivals, some honest men/women,
as little less culpable than he - as liars-lite;
"Her sins are nearly as bad as his sins."

But when the liar won (sort of won) they had no choice,
could no longer take refuge in silence or comfort
in equivalence; either call him out as the liar that he is
or let him define them as liars, bearing fake news.

So now at last, too late perhaps,
but better late, we hope, than never,
the prophets have found their voices -
at last we have some prophets.

Find them in the opinion pages of the New York Times,
The New Yorker, the Washington Post, the Atlantic.
With satire and cynicism, with anger, fear and truth -
mostly fear and truth - they redeem their former silence.

They are Liberals - Collins, Bruni, Blow, Krugman;
They are Conservatives - Wehner, Brooks, Douthat, Cohen;
They are Moderates - Kristoff, and the Inscrutables - Doud;
They are all shouting with one voice - "We are in peril!"

Don't be fooled by faux prophets, by wanabe prophets -
the cable prophets, talk show prophets, Sunday bloviators.
Their achievements are measured in ratings and
their compensation is doled out in millions. Beware.

Any truth they speak is incidental, convenient, accidental,
filtered through sensationalism, half-truths and insinuation;
their news is always "Breaking", breathtakingly breaking;
their tone is urgent, always urgent, breathtakingly urgent.

Fox, MSNBC and CNN - spawns of Beelzebub - are the
worst offenders; but NBC, CBS, and ABC have likewise
sold their souls to Mammon, dollars driving programming,
arrogance disabling their souls, masking their insincerities.

They tease each illicit morsel for every dollar it will yield,
talk it to death, verifying their superheated propaganda
by the opinions of high-paid commentators (experts) who
validate the "awesome magnitude" of their breaking stories.

True prophets need not be flawless men and women;
some are as despicable as those whose sins they reveal.
Prophets, not always possessed of personal purity, are always
characterized by an intolerance for hypocrisy and subterfuge.

Prophets need income, have families to support,
like the comforts of life, but if a choice must be made
between pursuing the dollar or truth, they instinctively
go after the truth. John the Baptist, an anchor at Fox?

Thank God for the Prophets. Not the cable prima donnas;
their overt commercialism robs their words of authority;
Thank God for the editorial and Op-Ed prophets
writing for the Times, the Post, the Atlantic, the New Yorker.

Thank God for the Prophets. Not Democrats and Republicans;
our politics, corrupt to its core, has lost all credibility.
If there is any hope of salvation for our nation it will come
from prophets at the Times, Post, Atlantic and New Yorker.

But heed Venezuela, Turkey, Russia, recent democracies all.
Heed their slide into autocracy, intolerance and repression.
Only a cadre of Trump-defying prophets can save the U.S.
from such a slide. Hear them, heed them, help them - be one!


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Waiting, Each, Its Turn

by Jim Rapp

Seeing them depart –
friends, family, strangers –
one wonders . . . how long?

Old photos, faded,
stained, scratched and torn, symbolize
an impermanence.

The dying lead the
living – faded, stained, scratched, torn –
waiting, each, its turn.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

When Sleep Eludes

by Jim Rapp

Sleep, when she eludes,
goes not empty handed but
pilfers the morrow.


Monday, February 27, 2017

February Yielding to March


by Jim Rapp

It is hard to know what wind-blown March will bring;
it has been known, some years, to bring a sudden snow,
or other times, a sea of mud that swallows anything
that thinks that it can navigate its murky flow.

But March can bring a welcome breeze to loft a kite,
delighting eyes of children standing down below –
paying out their cords, foot by foot – until Wind's might
o're powers the children's grip and lets their treasures go. 


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Fact Check It, Dummy!

by Jim Rapp

Shrewd politicians check it out;
knowing they are not the only crooks,
they're certainly not about
to let a shyster cook their books.

Smart consumers check it out:
past disappointments demand
scrutiny of those who spout
their righteousness to push their brand.

Your banker checks it out;
your credit, savings, cash on hand
determine if you'll make the cut
for a tiny loan or several grand.

So, why don't you check it out;
before you hit the Forward key
ask, "Do I know beyond a doubt?"
If not then check it out, Dummy!

"You shall not repeat false witness,"
the ancient Hebrew/Christian law decrees;
your unconfirmed FORWARDness
makes you complicit in iniquities.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Be The Wind

(A haiku)
by Jim Rapp

At best intended
to ride the wind; instead she
thought to be the wind.


Monday, February 6, 2017

The Lech Who Became President

by Jim Rapp

When the lech became the President
we soon forgot his lecherous fame.
He set about deleting damning antecedents
by committing new atrocities to hide his shame.

But true patriots must never forget
a single word or deed dishonorable,
spoken or done in spite or hissy fit,
that marks him as a man, deplorable.

Opponents view him with complete contempt;
supporters, smiling, excuse him as adorable –
a clown with hair a mess, and tongue unkempt.
Beware . . . the clown is dangerously deplorable.



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What Did I Just Say To Jesus?

by Jim Rapp

A friend related her encounter,
awaking at night to find
Jesus' piercing gaze affixed on her.

"What the heck!" she greeted him,
then closed her eyes tight shut.
Reopening she found herself alone again.

"Now why did I say that?" she asked.
She'd blinked and lost her fleeting chance
to utter something memorable at last.

Had she offended Jesus, standing at her door;
squandered, once for all, her opportunity;
shown herself a bumbling fool . . . or

had Jesus, delighted, turned his glance
to spare her from his joyful burst
of laughter at her fumbled eloquence?



Monday, January 30, 2017

News Flash: Satan Now A Believer

by Jim Rapp

(Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God
 but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had
 done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that,
but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose
for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end
up with a corpse on your hands?)
                                    James 2:19, 20 The Message translation

An acquaintance sends me e-mails –
almost daily sends me these mails –
intended to puff those they hail
as saints, even though it entails
blind acceptance of profligate males –
and even a few profligate females –
whose morals, on public display, assail
Christian sensitivities; their unrepentant trails –
serial trails – of adultery and infidelity fail
all tests of Christian morality and nail
any claims of such piety to the rail.

"Trump's Christian Cabinet" – Ha! It assails
all logic, all evidence; it disavails
truth, proffering "alternate truth" to flail
in its place – Alt-truth – a frail
reed which will crumble and fail
any who confidently lean on it, and retail
it in the misguided hope it will prevail.

Trump's cabinet Christian? Wholesale?
Though it's leader and members fail
to grasp, or at least display, it holiest Grail –
"Love your neighbor as yourself and fail
not to love God"? They claim to sail
in Christian waters, and make appeals,
to some Christian values, but recall:
"Even demons believe," but they all
tremble at what they believe; these all –
Trumps cabinet of believers – all grovel
at Trump's altar and like him, you'll recall,
confess sinning to no one at all.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Unwelcomed Stranger

by Jim Rapp

Then he will say . . . get away
from me . . . I was a stranger
and you didn't welcome me.
(Matt. 25:41 . . . 43)

Get away from me!

His words –
sending the
intolerants to
forever wander
away from his
presence –
echo the
intolerants'
rejection
of the stranger
seeking
home.

I was a stranger

He came
to his own –
his own
creation;
his own
people –
and they
"knew him not."

You didn't welcome me

Coming,
incognito,
to their
"Christian"
shores,
they failed
to recognize
the face
he wore.


Seeing what they
believed inferior;
judging

the homeless and hungry,
the thirsty, tattered and sick,
the unfairly imprisoned,
to be dangerous drifters

they turned away
the creator and
judge of their souls.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

When Words Have Lost Their Meaning

by Jim Rapp

Something there is
that cannot abide
goodness

Everything of worth
it targets
for corruption

Wise words –
considered thoughts –
are targeted

Written words –
mankind's jewels –
are vulnerable

Heroic words –
true words –
are its bane

Anti-Truth
anti-Human
anti-Language
Truth-haters
fight Truth
by
corrupting words –
by proffering
alternative facts –
alternative truth –
which are
in fact
not facts
not truth
just wind –
a frail
and rotting
breath
of liars
that
Truth will
someday
snatch away

My breath
will not always
abide
with man
(Gen. 6:3)


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Just Use Some Common Sense – An Idea to Ponder

Want to have some fun? Pull together a group of people who are willing to share two or three phrases their mother or father often quoted. My mother, for example, would remind her caught-red-handed-guilty child, "Be sure your sins will find you out." Or when I, or one of my siblings, did something particularly dumb she would say, "You don't have the brains God gave a goose."

Perhaps the All-American, Grand Champion admonition is "Use some common sense." If you grew up without being given that advice you are a rare bird indeed.

The idea of "common sense" is as old as our country. It came to us through Scottish ancestors who strongly believed that there was an innate ability in humans to know right from wrong, smart from dumb, practical from impractical, profitable from unprofitable, true from false. The idea of Common Sense Realism is very likely the source of Jefferson's famous phrase "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." And I've been reminded that Thomas Paine's famous, and inflammatory essay was entitled, Common Sense.

The alternative to common sense is the belief that important knowledge is the preserve of an elite few to whom we turn when we are in need of special understanding and guidance. Americans have always been partial to the idea that the common man (or woman) using common sense is equal to any challenge. The creators of the U.S. Constitution had such faith in the common man that they kept all offices of government open to all citizens with no educational or professional restrictions at all. If you were a specified age and a bone fide citizen you could run for and serve in any office of the land including the Supreme Court. (It needs to be noted however that in most states at the time our nation was formed a "citizen" was a white, male, Christian, 21 years old or older, who owned a specified amount of real property. The majority of common men and women were excluded.)

Another indication of our trust in the common man, and his common sense, is our use of a jury of peers to decide matters of law and even matters involving life and death.

But how far are we willing to carry this idea of common sense? We see that our founders limited it, in the case of voting, to an exclusive group. Are there classes of people whose judgment we are unwilling to place equal to our own? Do Democrats trust the common sense of Republicans? Do Republicans grant wisdom to the ideas of Democrats? Is there a common sense that draws people of different religious faith into harmony and trust? Do Christians trust the common understandings of Muslims and vise versa? Can we trust the common sense ideas we encounter on the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to guide us in important aspects of our lives?

When does common sense make sense and when is it merely nonsense?


I'm not going to answer that question but I invite you to think about it. It seems obvious to me that, despite our profession of belief in the wisdom of the common man and our declared trust in his common sense, we frequently are reluctant to commit ourselves to anyone's common sense but our own. And in really important matters we seek, not the common man, but someone who has an uncommon sense of what is true and wise and practical; a specialist.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sandcastles: A Lament for a Dream Destroyed

Note: today, January 12, 2017 the U.S. Senate started the process
of repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

by Jim Rapp

Compassion labored shaping a tall-storied glory
that jealousy destroyed, story by story.
Outshone, outmatched in vision and skill
hate declared it a "castle" that envy would kill.

Compassion built the castle and could build again –
but hatred's skills work only to maim;
to frantically rip all beauty to shreds
leaving nothing to stand in its stead.

Wielding only its wrecker's tools
hate pledged – the pledge of a fool –
to build, using it's tools of destruction,
a castle, it said, of better construction.

The haters have started; with no print,
no vision, no skills: they're bent –
hell-bent – on making dry sand into
castles, which even real artists can't do.

But evil won't always hold sway.
Compassion's admirers, one day,
will build his castle anew, and when
goons trash it, they'll build again –
            and again and again.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Only When You're Asked

by Jim Rapp

I meant no harm,
I'd simply said,
"Have a good day."
But from another room
I heard instead
an angry someone say,

"Who the blankity blank
gives you the right to say
what kind of day we'll have?"
I admit, I'd been out-flanked;
it was not mine, their day
to judge, to order or to fave.

Only the perfect have a right
to tell another what they must
or mustn't do, should or shouldn't be.
The rest of us imperfects might –
when ask – make brave to thrust
a judgment forth, but very gingerly.