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.