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,
bolted to the earth,
arms extended,
awaiting orders,
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 –

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!