"To bring the poem into the world / is to bring the world into the poem."

Saturday, December 10, 2011



In so many ways, this is a re-run of the Great Depression that shaped my parent’s generation, and the one before that, which scarred my grandfather’s youth. We ought to call it what it is, “The Great Depression – A Sequel.” Look for the next exciting chapter reappearing soon, as long as we line up to follow the antiquated philosophies of Adam Smith.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but I’d look to the economists of London, Harvard, Chicago, Wharton and Princeton who conjure up their “scientific” pronouncements, while celebrating the impoverished individualism of Ayn Rand and streamlined marketplace capitalism.

I remember when we were supposed to support the Cold War, “better dead than red,” because Marxism was evil economic determinism? And now, the so-called leaders of our world pander their brands of Economic Determinism (any less evil?) as if it were scientific certainty, too vital to question, too rational to fail. How have we come to a juncture in history where a few bond traders can systematically bankrupt whole nations? Clearly, our contemporary economic order does not create actual wealth. It generates an endless cycle of selfish avarice, usury and greed; unemployment, foreclosures, impoverishment; and that means homeless hungry children. It produces a new class of super-rich aristocrats, who are gleefully killing our planet. Laughing all the way to their bankrupting banks. I honestly believe that as long as one child is hungry, as long as one child goes without medical attention, as long as one child is deprived of a good education, no one should be a millionaire, let alone a multi-billionaire. Tax the sons-a-bitches.

I guess you could say I am heartbroken and angry about The Depression.



Cast Adrift

In these dark times
Does the muse elude your senses?
Do you yearn for an open highway
Or the quick fix of your video?
Can you still nurture mindfulness
Or calmly letting go? and in flowing
Can you halt the constant chatter
The canned laughter of the construction cranes
Those insistent cultural voices
Their constraints
Calling in the night
Like a dream from your childhood
Without the protection and security
Of a guiding light

In which direction is this world really turning?
With the missing feet of the murdered
Running in the billions,
And agent orange, supposedly tamed
Renamed Round Up, commonly available
Every garden a green house of death . . .
In water tables, ozone layers
Acid rain, and crack

If our species is somehow able to survive
What will our progeny say?
As we leave them a heritage of orange county Disney style
Fantasylands, become a major growth . . . a cancer
A construction, cum service industry . . .
Carved out of the ruined map of myth and natural process
Scraped and pushed into antiseptic parks of amusement
Exquisitely childish escape in the realm of the homeless

What's left of the wild, the natural and free . . .
Must each generation mold it all
To mirror their collective dreams of greed
An' thereby invite, indeed, guaranteeing these disasters
Like the downtrodden, brokenhearted souls
Wharehoused in our broken inner cities?

Street Heroes

Broken souls these
women and men who've given
up their hearts as whores
or tarts of the night,
and can no more see
they've been forgiven.

With their tote bags and tattered clothing
their rags, probably once so fine
as yours (or mine).
Their mis shapen faces
mirror the ravaged inner city,
ashen and discolored. No, not a pretty sight.
no wonder we can't look them in the eye.

Broken and vagrant
what have they lost
or gained?

They awaken in a morning damp
and cold on back streets or
under bridges, shake the dust
off their clothes, scratch for chiggers
and start off into the sun
rising to drink another day
of darkness . . .

These heroes of our cities
are survivors
we call 'em losers
outsiders, we'd rather ignore them,
but they keep the city soul

Cheating Death

Don’t kid yourself, when we fall prey to fear and anger
When we turn away from life’s gift
When we acquiesce to mere cultural norms, and the
Cow dung of conventional wisdom
We let loose primordial cinders, pumped through hell’s gate
Amplified in the Santa Anna winds of mythical exactness
Stunted, pigmified, pickled in recursive ignorance

When we allow them to instill their gluttony in our children
Their self-indulgent resignation, what celebrates aggression
In social choreographies of orchestrated hostility and violence
Reciprocal envy and hate. Belligerence condoned and admired
Avarice, usury and greed commended – neigh encouraged
As their cosmological prescription for economic growth . . .

What about life in resurrection, renewal and redemption
What about justice, reincarnation and life in death, Abraxas
What about sleep without dreams, which I will embrace
As surely as I treasure and celebrate this Existenz
Floating through the space/time continuum

Together with the elements and every living creature
Each of us a vital receptor slash storehouse of meaning
Each an angel, returning it’s bundled messages
On cosmic feedback loops, returning packets of love
Our gifts tagged and flowing back through
Manifest paths of understanding and compassion

Within this Global Cell, every form of life
A mental system, cheating death
Instructing the whole of the living
Broadcasting multiple bits of crucial information
Coded, de-coded, re-coded wisdom what goes beyond
Returning the fullness of living-knowing-being

Our thoughts and actions, our hates and fears
Our unconscious desires, all messages returning
On countless loops of information
Etched engraved in multiple channels of praise
And condemnation, the continuum’s bequest

Proceeding from life and affirmation
Closing in on our ever receding horizons
Preparing the way, returning their goodness to life
Across a flat curved arc of eternity



Born and raised in rural California, Lawren Bale lives in Narberth, Pennsylvania with his wife Martina and their ten-year-old daughter, Annabelle Jean Elisabeth. Before settling down in the Delaware Valley some twenty-seven years ago, Bale worked and studied in Honolulu, Hawaii; Bangkok, Thailand; Kyoto, Japan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Frankfurt, Germany. Bale’s poetry reflects his wide flung travels and his formal studies of religion, culture and epistemology.

Lawren Bale and his family. Photo Courtesy of Donald D Groff

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