meant to write about “thanks”. And the opposite. How ungrateful we humans have been to Mother Earth. How uncivilized civilizations have been toward other civilizations. How backwards our advancements have taken us in many ways. But how, nonetheless, we need to take the time — whatever our gripes and grievances — to appreciate this world and those around us. Also those much like us around the world. By that I mean, well, pretty much everyone. We’re all people, people!

I wanted to state what a marvelous and forgiving expression “water under the bridge” can be. That it conveys a depth of wisdom and compassion beyond the ordinary everyday toils and flubbish flounderings of humankind.

I was going to say that I am grateful Life can still startle me, amuse and amaze me, both by very big measures and the nice little surprises that come along. And, when I least expect, or when it appears I’m running low on possibilities and faith, a sparkling fountain of avenues and prospects might spring forth to dazzle my beleaguered soul . . . perhaps a small act may evoke a smile, even a laugh . . . and keep me believing in myself, as well as my fellow man.

I was going to write about such topics until my brain wandered off the path and the title came out “tanks”. And that changes everything. That takes me in another direction entirely.

Now I must speak of metal and noise. Of being treaded flat into the earth, or confronted by overwhelming odds and obstacles. Of two sides unable to compromise, unable to settle scores by simpler and saner methods. Of extreme measures, human versus human, son versus son. Of devastated cities and families. The images of real-life horror. The bloodshed and gore of War.

There are numerous kinds of battles. The competitive athletic challenge of exerting physically above and beyond for the squad or your personal pride. The chess-match strategic maneuverings of mind-to-mind combat. The mundane variety we encounter day to day: tensions, strifes, misunderstandings, pressures and minor struggles. The big, bold, blatant type you cannot ignore: against disease and violation, adversity and disaster. The blazing gunfights of lawmen and crooks. The eternal clash of Good versus Evil. The double-sided coin of armies defending God or country.

I didn’t see this coming but here it is. I have to deal with it. As I have said before and will likely say again, I prefer my horrors served in riveting fictional verse and prose; on a screen or platform where it isn’t really happening. Not in the news and certainly not in stark living color right before my seared stinging eyes!

In reality I’m a softie. I like to hug teddybears. I like to hear the songs of birds in the trees. I like to snuggle in a warm sweater on a cool day. I like to watch the grass grow secure in the belief that it will not be abruptly trampled by a tank.

War is a hellish enterprise and seems quite irrational, even downright insane when you think about it, yet wars are fought each day. Was there ever a time, in the modern or ancient history of men, that this wasn’t so?

Who do we hold accountable for the shattering of peace, the atrocities committed by good men against each other?

Should we blame the soldiers for following orders? Turn our backs on veterans who placed everything on the line for their nations so their loved ones and those like them could go on enjoying the better things in life?

Are the politicians and leaders at fault for finding no solution to issues and disagreements but to aim weapons — whether swords and arrows, ammunition and explosives, aircraft and artillery?

We tend to blame The Bad Guys. The other side.

History tells us that some wars needed to be fought, against madmen who needed to be stopped. For causes like Freedom and Justice. I have to admit, this might have been true.

It is certainly true when lawless factions inflict terror and slaughter the innocent. But is it so impossible that such factions could be convinced through words alone never to wield destruction? Or restricted by civil punishment, criminal prosecution, instead of whole nations duking it out on a global scale?

Did our environment need to be pillaged and scourged by rampant abuses in order for progress to be achieved? Or were there more intelligent means to get where we are?

Did “The Wild West” need to be won by force? Watching old cowboy and Indian movies I didn’t root for either side. I really liked them both and just wanted them to get along.

What’s done is done, whether right or wrong. It’s water under the bridge. And it’s important to remember, to learn from the mistakes along with the victories, so we will not repeat the same errors.

Wars are fought. Perhaps this will never change. We must honor the veterans for doing what they thought was right, obeying the call of duty and defending our ideals. Yet it is my sincere hope that in the future we will find better ways to settle our disputes. Without bombs, bullets, and tanks. It is my belief that we can evolve to the point of communicating rather than accepting more violence. Destroying more families, towns, or habitats.

In such a world I could just correct my mental divagation of thanks to tanks and remind you that there is a bright side to every darkness. That no matter how grim your day . . . if you’re patient, receptive, your heart and mind open, you will find a ray of hope. Sorrows can fade; you can discover a new purpose, a new reason to keep going. To keep striving and loving and living.

Well, maybe I’ll tell you that anyway. Because it’s true. And then I’ll write some poems.


There are days I feel I’m standing

In the path of something huge

Grinding mighty gears straight towards me

Or stampeding; a deluge

Sometimes I hear it coming

And tremble in its thrall

Too often there’s no warning

No hint or clue at all

Either way I’ll stay my ground

And face what has to be

Cowering in a hole can’t thwart

Its inevitability

When retreat is not an option

And a battle is required

Then I’m bound to give it all I’ve got

Even if I’m very tired

Ere the tanks roll in and over

Mashing, gnashing, bulldozing flat

I must brace and face them head on

With the courage of a gnat

I’m not brave I can assure you

I would rather flee than fight

But sometimes we have to tackle

What we don’t conceive as right

What arrives from out of nowhere

To deprive us of our strength

Or take away the things we value

It may go to any length

Unless we firmly stand against

The advent of that force

Sometimes there is no option

Some days no apt recourse

But to greet the tanks with fortitude

Alone or on a team

And do our best to pass their test

However frail we seem

We must not give in to doubt

Allow morale to take to wing

The simple act of standing

Can mean everything

We don’t have to be heroic

Just willing to oppose

Trepidation, intimidation

The world can use far less of those

We may flinch or we may quiver

Shed a tear and feel afraid

Yet if we hold on through the haze of conflict

We won’t let the tanks invade . . .

Though now and then they can surprise you

Bringing peace and hope and more

A welcome resolution

The joyful end to War.


An opposite trait that I embody

Is being contrary in what I mean

It’s hard to state opinions boldly

When there’s so much gray between

I see all sides and can’t decide

The way in which to lean

I’m slightly paradoxic

But at least I’m not routine


Another inconsistence —

I write but I don’t read

There’s seldom time, I wish I could

How I neglect the things I need!

It isn’t that I fail to care

For stacks of tomes are piled to heed

I must take the time to make the time

To fix my reader’s block, indeed!


There are many paradoxes

Which I don’t intend to mend

Since I like them as they are

And I surely won’t pretend

I’m something other than I am

What message would that send?

I like myself, I’ve earned my ways

I have little to forfend


Thus, being paradoxic

Is really up to me

If I wish to contradict myself

Then that’s how I will be

And then I won’t, because I’m stubborn

In a diametric manner, see

I like to be eccentric

But it’s acting typically


I choose to be an oddball

This is simply my true fashion

I’m a rebel and conformist

I pursue it with a passion

I’m traditional yet liberal

And reserved while party-crashin’

I’m both quiet and outspoken

Extremely colorfully ashen


I am really quite the puzzle

You mustn’t try to understand

It’s too confusing and bemusing

That I might shake with my left hand

I may be lost when I am found

Bathe in a pool of mud or quicksand

But there’s no greater paradox, I think

Than to play a Baby Grand.


It can happen in a heartbeat

As I’m walking down the street

I might lose my grip and start to float

As if my traction has been smote

It’s called Zero Gravity

And it strikes the likes of me

If I run away it follows

To mountain peaks and hollows

It is such a curse and even worse

It affects the entire universe

Nowhere is safe from this affliction

It can rob a boa of constriction

Your very step could well detach

Don heavy shoes or risk a snatch

And be flying past the clouds and moon

You won’t be back any moment soon

Until the giddiness wears off

And you’re down to earth again, don’t scoff

You never know when it could come

An attack of weightlessness for some

May seem a welcome recreation

But mark my words, my preoccupation

It isn’t something to take lightly

It will haunt your days and plague you nightly

There is no avoidance once you’re struck

You can only count yourself in luck

To be singled out and set apart

By the one who stole your heart.


Ratchets and cratchets, dogs and frogs

I’ve no idea what I’m on about

In fact there’s nothing in mind but an empty sense

That leaves not the least trace of doubt


Pondering aught and naught at length these days

Maundering around in circles

Whether rambling in speech or footfully

I just wind up prone to irkles


The matter of nothing is nullishly nil

You can argue it or ignore the fact

Moot or illiteral, nix or trivial

The point is that it’s abstract


Without a question there is no answer

But without a something there can be a void

It doesn’t seem fair, it drives me to despair

Yet I’m nothing if not paranoid


So this matter of nothing must be exhumed

From my abyssally vacuous pit

The depth of my being is rather unfathomable

Hence, we may never get to the bottom of it


I advise you instead, before all is said

To head straight for the end of this rhyme

Cover your eyes and ears and flee . . .

Perhaps they can save you in time!


Six grackles on a limb once sat

To have a raucous bird-brained chat

Like magpie gossips they did sport

Then snoozed a bit with a sneerful snort

When just below them from the soil

A wickedness began to roil

And writhing upwards out of smirch

A peckish dauntling climbt the birch

This heathen gathered mass and crept

Up bark and branch to where they slept

The smudge begrudged them their sweet nap

And plucked most up in quite a flap

Drooling for these fickle bites

He gulped them down and set his sights

Upon the last who woke to glean

Himself alone, his pals unseen

And a monster they had conjured forth

Through gabbiness from malish pour’th

Of vicious rumors, slandrous spewl

These spouters summoned a pentaghoul

Five scowls he wore; five eyeballs glared

Five arms, five legs; five faces stared

Five birds he ate with fervent glee

The sixth, dessert would surely be

Licking lips, he reached a paw

To plunge the fowl down a single maw

This gracken had a case of greed

And six was more than he did need

The final bird held up a wing

To make him pause for one small thing:

“We made you mad, we made you mean

We made you brown and orange and green

We didn’t make you such a glutton

And we forgot a shut-off button

So if you won’t mind, I think I’ll leave!”

The blackbird flew, to the gracken’s peeve

And the monster slunk back in the dirt

His belly full but his feelings hurt.


It doesn’t take a resurrection

To do a pinch of introspection

It simply asks for your protection

That you refrain from reverie


And when your innards you explore

Be sure to delve down to the core

That’s where the truth resides and more

There lies the gist of your debris


Amongst the things that you forgot

The errors of your ways you caught

And all the stuff you’re really not

You’ll find the traits you didn’t see


How brave you’ve been, how noble too

What others view and love in you

All that defines you through and through

How much you mean to me


Within your soul you’ll find a light

A torch that blazes very bright

Exemplifying all that’s right

It’s your humanity


And while you’re foraging in there

Safeguard the things of which you care

Sort out what you would like to share

With magnanimity


Focus on the positive

Your strength, the wonders that you give

The honor in the way you live

Your sensitivity


But if you take another peek

Observe that you have not been weak

To touch the feelings that you seek

It’s called humility


Somebody else may not believe

There have been those who made you grieve

Yet deep inside you must retrieve

The person you would be.

~ Published ~
November 21, 2010

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