Archive for February, 2015

Every Living Moment

February 22, 2015


I don’t know where I’m going
Till I get there
I don’t know what I want
Until it’s here

The only way to walk is to
Learn how to fall
The best plan is to have
No plan at all

Love appears when we are
Not looking to connect
Nothing ever happens
The way we expect

The only way to walk is to
Learn how to fall
The best plan is to have
No plan at all

Every living moment
Proffers something new
Have some open arms
When love shows up for you

The only way to walk is to
Learn how to fall
The best plan is to have
No plan at all

by Richard W. Bray

Correct Like Me

February 17, 2015

Etiquette preserves our nation
Manners keep our culture strong
Rules defend our civilization
From hordes of folk who don’t belong

Select utensils one by one
Outside-in from plates and dishes
Don’t scandalize your lovely Mum
With a salad fork to eat your fishes

A striped tie with a checkered shirt
Constitutes a fashion crime
When you dress wrong my eyeballs hurt
No white pants in the wintertime

Don’t wash hands in the kitchen sink
Don’t serve steak with Chardonnay
Match your meals with your drinks
And you’ll make partner some sweet day

Don’t peel your eggs from big end down
Always start with the end that tapers
Don’t eat food that’s hit the ground
Don’t blow your nose with toilet paper

Mind your manners
Follow the rules
Pick the right friends
And pick the right schools
You won’t feel happy
You won’t be free
But you will be
Correct like me

by Richard W. Bray

Crazy Fools for Love

February 13, 2015

I had no time to hate, because
The grave would hinder me,
And life was not so ample I
Could finish enmity

Emily Dickinson

You can hate away your days
Disparaging the ways
Of the wicked

You can while away your time
Pondering the crimes
Of the sickest

You can multiply your spite
But it won’t make nothing right
For the wretched

And your dreams of retribution
Only cultivate pollution
In your heart

You might find more success
Fighting hate with tenderness
And compassion

Plant a flower in your heart
It’s the perfect place to start
Your garden

Hope will be our only tool
Let’s all be crazy fools
For love

by Richard W. Bray

Too Big for Our Own Good: Kurt Vonnegut on the Human Brain

February 8, 2015


So far the human episode has been a brief chapter in the story of life on Earth—about two hundred thousand years.  That’s not very long compared to the dung beetles who feed on rhinoceros droppings, which are the hearty descendants of bugs that were frolicking in dinosaur poop at least forty million years ago.  And sharks have been around for over 400 Million years.

Although it’s fun to fantasize about a time long ago when giant monsters roamed the earth, it’s much more painful to imagine a point in the future when Mother Nature says: “Time’s up, humans.  You had your chance, but you blew it.”   Indeed, as the poet Richard Wilbur notes, it’s almost impossible to imagine a future on this planet without us:

Nor shall you scare us with talk of the death of the race.
How should we dream of this place without us?—

The novel Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut describes a future where evolution has altered humanity beyond recognition.  A million years hence, we have mutated into a furry, seal-like creature with flippers and a much smaller brain encased in a “streamlined skull.”  Our future progeny is no longer equipped to build skyscrapers or compose Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.  And these new creatures exhibit an immense moral superiority over modern-day humans because they lack the intellectual and physical tools to harm one another on a grand scale.  Besides, “how could you ever hold somebody in bondage with nothing but your flippers and your mouth?”

According to the Ghost of Leon Trout, the narrator of Galapagos who witnesses the million-year transformation of our species, this reduction of endowment is all for the better because humans

back then had a brain weighing about three kilograms!  There was no end to the evil schemes that a thought machine that oversized couldn’t imagine and execute.

Trout’s Ghost concludes that the human brain “is much too big to be practical.”  A practical brain would never “divert” people from “the main business of life by the hobgoblins of opinion.” The main business of life, of course, is survival and procreation.  Yet by some freak of evolution, human beings are capable of so much more.

Trout’s Ghost laments how our “overelaborate nervous circuitry” is responsible “for the evils we [are] seeing or hearing about simply everywhere.”  Furthermore, such self-inflicted horrors as war, famine, slavery, and genocide are “as purely a product of oversized brains as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.”

Trout’s ghost confides that, “A million years later, I feel like apologizing for the human race.”  He also describes “the most diabolical aspect” of the oversized human brain:

They would tell their owners, in effect, “Here is a crazy thing we could actually do.”….And then, as though in trances, the people would really do it—have slaves fight each other to the death in the Colosseum, or burn people alive in the public square for holding opinions which were locally unpopular, or build factories whose only purpose was to kill people in industrial quantities, or to blow up whole cities, and on and on.”

Here’s another disadvantage to having too much brain power for our own good:

Big brains back then were not only capable of being cruel for the sake of cruelty.  They could also feel all sorts of pain to which lower animals were entirely insensitive.

Today the “mass of mankind” is “quietly desperate” because “the infernal computers inside their skulls [are] incapable of idleness.”  The constant din of thought inside our brains that people must bear is akin to having “Ghetto blasters inside our heads.” And there is

no shutting them down! Whether we had anything for them to do or not, they ran “All the time!  And were they ever loud!  Oh, God, were they ever loud.”

Like Brick in Tennessee in Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” humanity craves to hear a “click in the head” which renders life “peaceful.” In Galapagos, Kurt Vonnegut suggests an evolutionary solution to the plight which ails us.  And perhaps it is the most plausible solution.  As Emily Dickinson notes

Narcotics cannot still the Tooth That nibbles at the soul

by Richard W. Bray

A Gut Full of Girlhurt

February 7, 2015

Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.

Dorothy Parker

The ones who never noticed
The ones who had to go
The ones who came to see me
The ones who didn’t show

Got a gut full of girlhurt
Keeping me awake
Playing back my memories
Reliving realms of ache

The ones I never talked to
The times I chickened out
All the love I missed
By wallowing in doubt

Got a gut full of girlhurt
Keeping me awake
Playing back my memories
Reliving realms of ache

The ones that I ignored
The things I didn’t say
The love I didn’t appreciate
The times I walked away

Got a gut full of girlhurt
Keeping me awake
Playing back my memories
Reliving realms of ache

by Richard W. Bray

Think Tank Warrior

February 5, 2015

Sing a song of freedom
Sing a song of war
The happy, hearty hegemon
Hears the eagle roar

He will cheer to loose the hounds
But he simply can’t be found
With the boots that hit the ground

Sing of liberation
Sing a song of war
Intrepid chairborne ranger
Like a strapping rogue of yore

But he’ll never be around
When the guns and missiles pound
Razing village to the ground

Sing of credibility
Sing a song of war
Gallant think tank warrior
Is manly to the core

In pools of blood they drown
As he buys another round
With his dirty, ill-gained Crown

by Richard W. Bray

You Make the Whole World Shine

February 2, 2015


You vaporize my troubles
You mollify my pain
When I’m in your bubble
I never hear the rain

You’re right where I belong
You leave me feeling fine
When everything is wrong
You make the cosmos shine

When my soul is sore
You eliminate my woe
You make my spirit soar
And leave me all aglow

I pledge all my devotion
I need you every day
You’re my magic potion
You send all my ills away

Your lovely luminescence
Warms me up inside
I adore your very essence
When my brain is liquefied

by Richard W. Bray