Selected poems


From the unpublished book Don't Give Up isbn#:1878995510

Finally one day I gave up on
  Medicine and the proper nutrition,
The regimented exercise and the respect
  Of a culture that has lost its soul.
I am transfixed by the mutation
  That occurred between five and fifty-five,
  That a child possessed in abundance joy and love!
  And the following 50 years succeeded
  In taking such soul gifts away, leaving him
   Lost and confused, no longer proud of his life
Or unafraid of death, but increasingly aware
  That a tremendous transformation
Must take place or he would become
  One more statistic and dull obsequy.
Do you finally realize that there are
  No leaders or saviors beyond yourself?
All the spiritual voices repeat their own
  Doubts and dismal pathway of life.
All the chancellors claim some power that
  They confer upon themselves-every day
A new one humbly gives voice to his pride.
I learn nothing from their wordy journals,

  Their righteous assertion they have found
   The way of the truth but cautiously give
  Credit to some fictitious character like
   Joseph Smith’s angel or assorted Devils.

Most of us never had a chance, walking into
  A spiritual structure financially fortified
And hierarchically maintained with rootless power.
  We never voted on Popes or evangelists,
   Bibles or crucifixions, sins or virtue,
But accepted as true the refuse and projections
  of dying cultures and fear of the unknown.
I am increasingly taken by the little ones of life,
  The gentle black teenager in the auto parts store,
Who helps me find a cheap side-view mirror for
  The expensive, 4-directional one I surrendered
To a mailbox when I dozed on a country lane.
  She has preserved the beauty I had at 5
And lost to ambition well into her teens,
  With the softness I could not fathom
But which transfixed me like no prophet’s words.
  It is difficult to challenge a Bible
When some guy like Gideon drops one off
  In every hotel and motel room
And twice a year a consummate drunk
  Or despairing salesman finds a verse
That leads him to some private miracle
  Of personal transformation. I am not moved,
Not totally unimpressed, not cynical or
  Truly interested. I have finally begun
To admire and emulate those who do not
  Reach for a book or teacher to resolve
Every least dilemma. It is time to be
  Bookless like a 5-year-old in the woods,
To be aware of the separations and cruelties
  That transformed us from God’s child
Into society and culture’s slave who dares
  To curse the God that angry, frightened
Men and women have constructed to epitomize
  Their own emptiness and desolation.
Angry people need an angry, bloody, vengeful God!

  Terrified people need an omnipotent, terrifying one.
Docile people without private passion or dreams
  Need a respectable one to think for them.
Only daring, joyful people can honor
  A joyful God who does not crucify
His son, obliterate his enemies, and consign
  To a fiery hell those that defy him.
I think increasingly the truly good and loved ones
  Separate themselves from churches and religion
Which are but camouflaged bastions of fascism,
  Fighting one another or making peace
Because they finally recognize they are deplete,
  Boring, illusionary, and without answers.
Maybe a smoke-free environment is an apt symbol
  Of finally releasing belief in hell.
The whole history of religion is perhaps more comic
  Than any rise and fall of Rome or Greece,
Constantinople, Russia, China, or America.

Deep down the loving child knows that
  Simplicity is the only way when the very courts
That proclaim to uphold justice are intentionally unjust.
  Our news fixates on a celebrated murder
Because we have so often envisioned the same
  As a path to freedom and sacred anarchy.
Long ago, when the Roman empire was dying
  Of sensual excesses and power madness
When Church and State scratched each other’s backs
  To stay alive, hermits flocked to the desert
To find peace in Europe and Asia, and monasteries
  Flourished in Ireland to preserve culture and sanity.
Now sports have become our passionate diversion,
  Where golfers have more significance than gophers,
And life becomes ever more complicated as computers
  Play themselves out and a simple telephone
Becomes a switchboard and guarantees
  We will rarely hear a human voice.
When stress has destroyed our creativity
  And mutilated our organs one by one,
Doctors stand by to implant, replant, transplant
  Without ever really talking to us
Over the curdling voice of machines and computers.
  Vitamins, health foods, exercise machines
Diets, clean air, filtered water, smokeless rooms
  Patch up what an entire cultural movement
Is destroying faster than new facilities can be built,
  As an exhausted people with no dreams
Or temporary ones of sex, success, and affluence
  Amuse us from 5 to 55 and then leave
Us empty and grasping and looking for
  The latest fad that promises salvation.

Jesus does not laugh, God does not smile,
  And the culture demands ever more intricate
Computerized concentration to divert us with
  More complex crossword puzzles of useless facts
And endless, pointless information.

by James Kavanaugh