Thursday, February 2, 2017

Great Abs and a Steel-Trap Mind


Want to know what’s going on today? Want some help knowing how to respond to it? Need some guidance in how to get through it all? I suggest not going to the journalist, the priest or the therapist. Go to the poet.

It never fails to astound me how people from a different time, place, background, reality, can say things that apply directly to me right now in this moment. Often astonishingly so. Truth with a capital T, that thing far beyond mere fact that appears to defy time and space. It’s floating around inside and outside of us all the time and the poet is the one with the antennae up who catches its signal and gathers it from the air.

For example, in these past two weeks, I’ve been doing my part to engage with those who think everything is just fine and truth be told, am astounded by the level of naivete, passivity, purposeful ignorance and mindless faith that God will take care of it all. The believers who seem incapable of rational thought, excusing their every transgression against human intelligence. And then I remembered this poem in Garrison Keillor’s collection Good Poems. And there it all was.

And so I invoke this gem of a poem by Philip Appleman. Don’t just read it. Speak it. Rap it. Memorize it. Live it.

O Karma , Dharma, pudding and pie,
gimme a break before I die.
grant me wisdom, will & wit
purity, probity, pluck & grit.
Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind
Give me great abs and a steel-trap mind,
and forgive, Ye Gods, some humble advice—
these little blessings would suffice
to beget an earthly paradise.
make the bad people good
and the good people nice;
and before our world goes over the brink,
teach the believers how to think.

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