Monday, October 16, 2017

Babylon Burning

by Jim Rapp
(Haiku form)

Lord, You must have known
that this iniquitous world
could never be saved

The light is so dim;
the salt has lost its flavor;
the prophets are stilled

It’s time for you to
come – the Spirit and the Bride
say, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

This time the fire,
consuming wood, hay, and straw;
Babylon burning


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Autumn’s Philanthropy

by Jim Rapp

A golden canopy,
a golden path;
Autumn’s philanthropy
is more than I should ask.

.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Essential Information for the Digital Age

by Jim Rapp

It is easy to forget in this digital age –
Yes, I know, “age” sounds rather grandiose in a
World speeding through cycles where whim is the rage –
The most important thing to remember each day,
When your cursor won’t deliver your favorite page,
Or your “smart” phone’s games refuse to play,
Is to gather the digital devises with which you engage;
Reboot the rebootable; – throw the incorrigible away.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Nailed Again

by Jim Rapp

“Would you like some nails, boys?”
Nails were always at a premium,
Along with screws, bolts and boards to make or mend our toys –
Old or new, bent, rusted; anywhere on the continuum.
We’d find a use for them, employ
Hammers and anvil to straighten them.

“There are some nice big nails
On the stove board, back of the heater.”
An announcement like that couldn’t fail
To initiate a stampeded or
A major war – four arms, four legs flail . . .
Only to halt at the living room door
At the sight, on the stove board, of a neat little pile –
Twenty neatly trimmed nails – he'd nailed us once more.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Sudden Autumn Shower


By Jim Rapp

The deck chairs are shuffled
Together as they always seem to be
Each time a gust of wind scuttles
The prescribed arrangement, pushing three
Together like old women, cuddled
In a corner, sitting knee to knee.
One, a male, I reckon, to avoid the huddle,
Slid defensively against the table, clinging desperately.
All are decked with glistening puddles,
Flecked with ripples scattered generously
By a slowly passing rain cloud, shuttled
Deckward, doubtless just to please the likes of me.


Friday, October 6, 2017

October

by Jim Rapp

October is the best month of the year,
Summer’s heat is past and winter’s not too near,
The fields and forests astound us with their beauty,
And autumn’s harvests promise winter’s bounty.

Monday, October 2, 2017

A brief Explanation

I know I've been pretty quiet the last few days. I'd like to say I've been off on a deluxe vacation but the truth is that my computer has been in the hospital. I'll be spending the next several days getting it back up and producing again.

I do have a few new poetic offerings waiting their turn so please come back in a few days.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Eulogy for Donald Gene Rapp

Sunday Dec. 16, 1934 – Thursday Sept. 14, 2017

When brothers are as close in age as Donald and I are – just 15 months apart – it is inevitable that they will clash over something. To be honest I can't recall what we clashed over, except that we both wanted to be the exclusive buddy of Marvin, our older brother. But we did clash and sometimes it got nearly lethal.

I recall one Sunday afternoon battle when Donald was armed with a large steel bearing that Dad had brought home from the rail yard and I had a bow with suction cup tipped arrows. At the heat of the battle he threw his bearing at me and I shot him with an arrow. We both reported the incident to Mom and she solved it in her usual – make the punishment fit the crime – manner. She threw all the weapons down into the muck in the outdoor toilet.

Those outdoor toilets served many purposes, from club houses, to refuges, to conference rooms, to say nothing of their intended use. I do recall Mom applying her – make the punishment fit the crime – method when she arrived to visit the toilet and found it filled with the aroma Donald and I had created by stirring the contents with sticks instead of pulling the nails from the wood as we were supposed to do. She locked us in the toilet for several minutes and let us enjoy the fragrance of our efforts.

But we were not always opponents and I can attest to the fact that you needed no other bodyguard than Donald when you were involved in a dispute with an outsider. As the youngest in the family I benefited more than once by having two brothers and a sister who were fiercely loyal to the family and willing to take on anyone who threatened any of us. It is a little scary to think that I'm on my own now.

But I knew Donald intimately for only 18 years or so. You who sit before me have known the kind of man he has been for the succeeding 62 years, more or less. I've known him from a distance, seeing him at family gatherings, hearing about him and his growing family in letters from Mom over the years, and enjoying his many visits when he brought his grandchildren to Eau Claire to watch one of our Easter dramas at church. How faithful he and Carol were in coming year after year. And, for a few years (four I think) we were able to bring all the siblings and their spouses – our Group of Eight – together for a special extended weekend at some place chosen because it had meaning for one or more of us.

In those brief glimpses I saw the kind of man I know you all knew him to be: still fiercely loyal to family – including HIS boisterous, growing family; generous to one and all – our children have warm memories of his kindnesses toward them (Cheri, our youngest, seldom failed to ask, during a phone conversation, "What have you heard from Uncle Donald?" or "How is Uncle Donald doing?"); supportive of his grandchildren in the things they chose to do, and so proud of their accomplishments.

I know Donald and Carol would like to have had a daughter or two, but in the end I don't think they would have traded any one of their boys. Hey, boys bring home wives, and they adopted their daughters-in-law as their own. Donald treated them just like they were . . . one of his boys.

But boys also bring home vehicles of all kinds in all kinds of condition and Donald loved nothing better that fixing, or helping to fix a troubled motor vehicle. I gave him plenty of opportunities to do so with my jalopies on my frequent visits back home. He was generous with his time and meticulous in his labor. He was a mechanical artist.

I know that Donald carried in his mind a fuller and more accurate history of our family than I do, and I will often wish, in my remaining years, that I could talk to him, mining some of that knowledge. Who knows what we will choose to talk about when we are reunited with those we love in heaven. Perhaps the things of this earth will have no meaning then and there. But somehow I think there may be some carry over; that some of the thoughts we've had here will find their completion there. If so, I'm going to ask Donald if he still thinks it was a good idea to scare me half to death by hiding in that dark coal shed and pretending he was being attacked, forcing me to decide whether to run for my life or go to his assistance.

I want to close with a beautifully expressive poem by Emily Dickinson. So many of her poems seem to have been written after observing a funeral or a burial. This poem struck me because, like her I've been through this loss twice before, with the death, first of Marvin in 2001 and then of Istra in 2009, and felt the increasing weight of loss. And now this leaves me holding the entire corpus of our family unit for the years I have remaining. Dickinson's poem reads:

I never lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod;
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!

Angels, twice descending,
Reimbursed my store.
Burglar, banker, father,
I am poor once more



Thursday, September 14, 2017

Guardian of the "Crest"

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

With the exception
of baby Lowell Ray it
has gone by the book,

Lowell, a toddler
killed in an automobile
collision at two.

Dad next and then Mom;
no anniversaries missed;
sixty-six all told.

Marvin leaped ahead
of Istra, clearing the bar –
three score, ten, plus two.

Istra at eighty-
two, and today, Donald gone
too at eighty-two.

And I at eighty-one
am left holding the fam'ly
"crest" (there is no crest).

Left to while my years
wishing I had asked, had said,
could know what they knew.

A keeper of tales
never told, custodian
fumbling in the dark,

A parable for
those who still, from elders, can
repossess the past.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Bug's Prayer

by Jim Rapp

Behold the bug navigating her world,
creeping along a blade of grass,
then over an adjacent gnarled
chip of bark to examine a shard of glass.

Does she know where she is headed?
Has she plotted on some bug's map
Her journey's course, or calculated
The route using a bug's travel app?

Perhaps her meanderings are unplanned –
Like mine, uncalculated – or if calculated,
Conceived in ignorance and inclined
To end, an edifice of hopes, disarticulated.

Creator of bugs and human beings, guide us,
Especially we who think we know the way:
Install in us your GPS –aim our aimlessness –
Bring us to your hostel at the end of day.



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Innocence: Full of Less

by Jim Rapp

"Allow the children to come to me."
A welcome denied the callous-hearted –
Scribes, Sadducees and Pharisees –
Scoffers, turning on their heels as they parted.

Why the children? I think today I saw
In the faces of my great grandchildren
Glimpses of the traits that draw
Children to the Lord, and Him to them.

God loves those who have no guile –
Ask the apostle Philip, he'd know I guess –
"Of such is the kingdom"; their smile
Is full of less – yes, full of guile-less-ness.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Streets of Gold

by Jim Rapp

Are there really streets of gold in heaven,
Or is that image the best that John could do
To convey the wonders of his vision,
Reduced – scaled down – to a human view?

I drove today through thoroughfares of gold.
Three hundred miles of God-made, autumn laid,
Golden leis, vying for attention – bold
Golden Rod and Brown-eyed Susans bade

Me look and look at risk of life and limb,
Bade me try to find the words, as John of old,
To name the names, of what I saw, and then
Convey to all how I had driven streets of gold.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Tiki Torch Parade: An Ode to the Charlottesville Cowards

by Jim Rapp

Men love darkness because their deeds are evil,
but evil men fear darkness because they know
the evil deeds, sown in secret, some dark night will
overtake them, and result in their own overthrow.

So their nights they light with torches to dispel
their fright and, by empeopling a pompous charade
of menacing lights, their fears they hope to depeople;
cowards marching in a Tiki Torch Parade.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

the house divided against itself

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

if you can speak your
mind without fear of losing
a cherished friendship

it is pretty sure
that you are living somewhere
besides America

it has never been
otherwise in this land of
nearly countless wars

rare has been the day
in which no guns were fired in
attack or defense

wars indigenous
wars of words and violence
brother-bleeding wars

political wars
racial wars, religious wars
industrial wars

wars in families
wars between the states, wars in
the halls of Congress

"The United States":
sad relic of a past that
never came to be



Thursday, August 10, 2017

while

by Jim Rapp

A while with God
is as a thousand whiles,
and a thousand whiles
as merely one.

a while is indeterminate –
a century stained with the
carnage of war or a decade
remembered for peace

an instant poised at the height
of a roller coaster
seventy-five years married
to the same spouse

in seven whiles God created
a world and filled each with
with all manner of things
that he declared good

a mortal while we're told
averages three score whiles
and ten – too few to while
on frivolous pursuits


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Million Photo POTUS Shoot

by Jim Rapp

A million and a half photos of one man
seemed a little excessive
until I remembered that when using my cam
in ways quite aggressive,
snapping gold flowers (I'm a gold flower fan),
I too got a little obsessive.

I'll buy Pete Souza's book just as soon as I can;
and display it with genuine pride
alongside Michelle's photo-book; that is my plan.
Now I know it sounds snide
but I'll opine that pics of the new POTUS man
won't draw a dollar out of my cowhide.
________________
Pete Souza, the official White House photographer
during Barack Obama's eight years in office is
publishing, Obama: An Intimate Portrait, a 300+
picture record of Obama's tenure as President.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Looking for Ezer-kin

by Jim Rapp

Lord, help me see past hypocrisy
to the fifteen percent.
Fifteen may be too high, actually
if we cut to the renascent –
the "born again" –  who probably
are roughly reminiscent
of the percent who stood faithfully
as your body was rent.

In "Christian America" we've come
to believe a lie,
that saying makes it true, so some
make the claim, "I
am evangelical," offering only a crumb
of proof to signify
that they march to Jesus' drum
or hold his banner high.

The media makes the claim,
based on exit polls,
that eighty-five percent who name
you Lord, told
reporters they voted for this profane –
insane – old
man, clamoring for fame,
grasping for gold.

Straight the gate, you said,
and narrow the way,
and few are they who choose to thread
that narrow gate.
No, the eighty-five percent who tread
the broad highway
share no cup, break no bread
with the Truth, the Life, The Way.

I'm seeking for Ezers, Lord,
looking for kin –
desperate for followers of your Word,
haters of sin,
despising the lies they've heard
again and again,
daring to stand out from the herd –
I'm looking for Ezer-kin.
________________
Ezer: Hebrew for helper, comrade,
friend. 


Friday, August 4, 2017

The Late-night Guys Quote the President

by Jim Rapp

the late-night guys have
got Trump pegged – he has built the
scaffold where he'll swing

every tweet, every
speech secures his fate as he
nightly does his thing
­____________

five nights of every
seven his feces-laden
lies they 'gurgitate

and if not Trump's then
Scaramucci mini-Trump's
they excoriate
­____________

the critics of the
late-night comedians can
hardly take offence

the salty language
they employ was first deployed
by the President
­____________

and not on late night
shows, but before our youth at
Boy Scout Jamborees

in sacred spaces
before men of the cloth – with
mega-ministries –
­____________

by invitation
no less – they volunteered to
anoint him as "king"

with solemn laying-
on-of- hands imputing their
god's care and blessing
­____________

giving cover to
inequity – excusing
gross iniquity

have at him late-night
guys – QUOTE 'til he chokes on his
words – QUOTE ceaselessly


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thankful For the Rain

by Jim Rapp

The rain came today –
before dawn – persisting 'til
it sated the earth

Accompanied by
lightning illuminating
each raindrop's passage

Celebrated by
thunder applauding ev'ry
inch the gauge records

The parched earth gives thanks –
by sending forth abundance
to feed the thankless

and the thankful too
God sends blessings on the just
and unjust alike


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Waiting for the Storm to Roll In

by Jim Rapp

You promised
it would rain; for
my sake

bring it on:
thunder, lightning
and rain.

Your honor
and repute are
at stake.

I'm waiting,
don't let me down
again.

Weather man,
now is your chance;
rain make!




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Memory's Emulsion

by Jim Rapp

It is never too late to remember,
always too soon to forget,
letting time's glowing embers
consume old hurts and regrets.

Memory's an eternal emulsion,
designed, intended, bestowed,
to salve wounded emotions,
restoring their luster and glow.

Wincing, memory draws back
from re-summoned slights,
but love, impaled on the rack,
forgives all in its all-seeing sight.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Weather as Theory

by Jim Rapp

It was safe to run for groceries;
the weatherman assured us that
the storms had exited our vicinity,
no need for a jacket or a hat.

The problem with weather rooms,
they don't allow the weather men to see
the actual weather; they're doomed
to forecast what is shown on their TV.

I was fated to endure real weather,
coming first in droplets from the sky,
then hail and wind of which neither
was foreseen by the weather guy.

Meteorologists have honed their theories
to such a point that they can predict our
weather from a cave; with wizard's ease
they turn sunshine into shower. 


Sunday, July 23, 2017

k8658082@wellykuswanto.com

by Jim Rapp

From: k8658082@wellykuswanto.com
Subject: you should not wait until your lover will divorce with you

Oh my, shall I click on this email from
k8658082@wellykuswanto.com or should I not? Oh what to do!
My lover and I just recently got done
celebrating sixty years of marital bliss and now this note from you
throws me in a panic, leaves me plum
flummoxed and wondering if she's gone and found someone new.

New I'm not, my youth is gone.
Is k8658082@wellykuswanto.com cutting in? Oh dear, what to do!
Will my bride of sixty years be gone –
divorced with me – or is wellykuswanto messing with me, trying to
get my password, or putting his long
arm in my contact list? Kuswanto . . . to e-mail hell with you.


Friday, July 21, 2017

The Magazines Are Gone

by Jim Rapp

Things are changing in the waiting room;
each room has a TV tuned so low
that only the least impaired ear can tune
the voices in from the Today Show.

Chairs are arranged in a clever way
so no one has direct view of the screen;
all necks must crane to see, or turn away
to view a show on a hand-held machine.

No one seems to miss the ubiquitous mags
that used to clutter every table top,
donated, I was told – brought in by the bags –
to be rifled, read in snippets and dropped

when the nurse called the holder's name.
I surmised they had been superseded
by smart phones but, alas, a more sane
reason's given – germs, unseen, unheeded.

It scares me half-to-death to think
of all the germs I've absorbed, breathed,
ingested, with the printers ink,
reading, hands and face unsheathed.

Our children's children may curse us
for the germ-free world we've bequeathed;
free of our germs, but not the cussed
bugs their antiseptic selves cannot defeat.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Kindling 451

by Jim Rapp
(Haiku Form)

The bookshelves recall
a library boasting a
thousand cherished works.

Repurposed now, they
display a gallery of
faces, old and new.

Two low shelves suffice
to save a tithe of that once
August collection.

The rest? Kindling now;
fuel for fire, etched in sand,
seared on silicone;

my vast library,
Amazoned. And not one jot,
not one tittle lost.

Ashes to ashes,
words as digits reborn – a
hand-held library.



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Confluence

by Jim Rapp

The ease with which
two rivers flow together,
giving, each to each,
with only slight annoyance,
is an object lesson
for the sentient,
tethered to their banks.

Two streams, conjoined,
can bear more freight
than either could alone;
by yielding rights,
by sharing might,
they shape their flow
in grand alliance.


Friday, July 14, 2017

An Old Pair of Shoes

by Jim Rapp

What binds me to you – makes me
blush to think I contemplated separation?
A world-class super glue, that's what –
a thousand dances danced in unison.

Worn, creased and rumpled, we.
We'll never know our youth again;
not you, the shoes, nor I, the man
who stands and walks in them.

Shineola's magic cannot hide
the water stains and grease drippings.
Bare threads, dangling where sole
and body meet, evoke the brevity of life.

Nor man nor ought has ever sought
more ardently for synchronicity;
you've shaped – enwrapped yourself –
according to the roles assigned to me.

Narrowly you missed the donor's box,
my weathered friend, but if . . . well . . .
no doubt you'd have served a new master
with the same fidelity you tendered me.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Renaissance


by Jim Rapp

One price I've paid for longevity;
the strident world has grown more muted.
And with the clamor good sounds too have
ebbed away; voices stilled, and nature silenced.

Last night, I heard the thunder raging.
Lightning flashed as rain and hail disputed;
pounding eaves to make their point, they
accorded me a fleeting aural renaissance.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Prayer Against the Anti-Christs1
(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

God save us from these
anti-Christs who, no semblance
share, with your dear Son.

Though tens of thousands
flock to them, Christ's words ring clear,
"I never knew you!"

Jeffress2 disavows
candidates who follow Christ's
"Sermon on the Mount".

Trump3, whom Jeffress loves
denies in word and deed the
loving Savior's creed.

Brutal force, their creed;
"Do unto others ten times
what they do to you."

They pray, "Our kingdom
come, our will be done on earth
now and forever."
___________________
1Any who deny the teachings of Christ or proclaim a gospel claiming salvation through any means other than Christ's death and resurrection.

2Dr. Rev. Robert Jeffress, Southern Baptist pastor of the 13,000 member 1st Baptist Church in Dallas, TX. Organizer of  pro-Trump rallies, most recently at the JFK Center in Washington, D.C. July 1, 2017. 

3President Donald J. Trump

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Weak Things Confound the Mighty

(Haiku Form)
by Jim Rapp

God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
I Corinthians 1:27

The invisible
wind bends the mighty oak, drives
straws through two inch boards.

The gentle mountain
stream carves a canyon through the
impenetrable.

Her baby's fevered whimper
moved a mother's heart as a
tyrant's roar could not.

A drop of water,
frozen, shifts a mountain; breaks
it from its moorings.

The Jonquil jostles,
with its fragile energies,
rocks two times its size.

Rain on the mountain
sides can carry, grain by grain,
mountain chains away.

A cobweb is a
universe; a spider's whole
life work on display.

A thought, embedded
in a brain, can save or dash
mankind's hopes for gain.

A lie can turn the
course of events in Eden
or in Washington.

Truth on a cross, the
fulcrum God will use when he
sets the world aright.

Prayers from infant lips,
from peasant lips, from sinners
hearts are heard in heaven.

Prayers are stored in vials
of bronze against the day their
answers are revealed.

Tiny things can do
great feats with focused effort
ceaselessly applied.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Just Talking To You Lord
(Don't Listen, Mary)

Lord, you know . . .

Saturday our President was called to speak
to a gathering of evangelicals assembled
in our nation's capital at the Kennedy Center
by the pastor of a large Dallas church.

Dr. Rev. Robert Jeffress, the organizer,
has been known to speak in glowing terms
of Trump to crowds assembled in stadiums
overflowing with enthusiastic evangelicals.

I quote the Rev. Jeffress: When asked during
an NPR broadcast,

"‘Pastor, don’t you want a candidate who embodies the teaching of Jesus and would govern this country according to the principles found in the Sermon on the Mount?’”

Jeffress said.

“I said, ‘Heck no.’ I would run from that candidate as far as possible, because the Sermon on the Mount was not given as a governing principle for this nation.”

Jeffress further said,

"I don’t care about that candidate’s tone or vocabulary, I want the meanest, toughest, son of a you-know-what I can find - and I believe that’s biblical.”

Now, Lord, I thought your teachings were intended
for all aspects of our lives; that in point of fact
our lives were to have only one aspect, not many.
You said, "You cannot serve two masters."

But Rev. Jeffress appears to know you meant
us to be gentle only at specific (unnamed) times –
certainly not when we are in places of authority –
and mean son's of you-know-whats (pardon me)
when dealing with the heathen who aren't American.

Kind of like you dealt with the Romans when
they tortured and crucified you. Wait . . . that's
not what you did . . . now I'm really confused.

And now today, Lord, our President released a video
clip (you know about those Lord) purportedly showing
him being the meanest, toughest, son of a
you-know-what (pardon me again) beating the snot
out of a CNN reporter.

I have to assume Rev. Jeffress approves.

So now I have to decide if I will stand with Rev.
Jeffress and his wildly cheering evangelical throng
at the Washington rally or follow you to Calvary.
Jeffress' way is so attractive; it has the feel of
victory; it seems to march in time with history.

Your way leads only to death, Lord. How can you
ask me to go that way. "Take up a cross and follow you?"
The throng at Calvary is jeering, not cheering,
they threaten any who seem to be as weak as you.
Surely Jeffress and the evangelicals are right.
If I have any sense at all I'll go with them.

Too bad, Lord, you weren't a meaner, tougher,
son-of-a-you-know-what (pardon me Mary). But
Lord, you weren't, and you aren't. So I'm still
with you, Lord.

Makes me wonder what mean, tough, son of a
you-know-what Jeffress and all these evangelicals
are following.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Only Dogs We Ever "Owned"

by Jim Rapp

The only dogs we ever "owned"
were of the mutt variety;
a little part terrier-type, honed,
(trained) by a part shepherd-type,  mainly
to roust rabbits from their homes
in brush piles or fields left stubbly
where once the picker creaked and groaned.

Daisy, the terrier, flushed the bunnies out
and Shep swiftly ran them down,
deftly snapped their neck and, without
claiming any as his own,
laid them at my brother's feet, no doubt
because he knew they were on loan;
he and Daisy would wait their "pay out."

One foolish bunny thought that he
could outsmart Shep and dash between
the sleeping dog and a pile of debris,
but scent or noise aroused Shep's keen
awareness, and to the bunny's glee
a race was on; a race he'd win initially;
Shep limped homeward, bleeding heavily.

A nail protruding from a board had gashed
his shoulder as he rounded the debris.
For days he lay, fevered and leashed
with Daisy waiting for him, unable to see
why they weren't headed for a cherished
chase, why things were not as they used to be.
And every day the bunny passed unblemished.

And then one day my father ventured out
to see how his patient, Shep, was faring.
What he found brought laughter and a shout;
Shep and Daisy were enjoying lunch – not herring,
but freshly caught and killed bunny; no doubt
the same as caused Shep's painful hemorrhaging.
Now he and Daisy were being "paid out,"


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 borrowed
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.