Journal

There is a such thing as Truth

There is a such thing as Truth, and it matters. Some would have us believe that there is no objective truth, and that all we have are subjective perceptions – “Reality is only what I think it is.” Those who say that are manipulative and they are wrong. There is an objective reality with which we all interact. The human brain is the most powerful information processing system in the world. It is perfectly capable of perceiving truth and reality – objective, shared reality. There is a telephone pole on the corner. Anyone who hits it with their car is going to get messed up. This is truth. Individual subjectivity lasts right up to the moment of impact. At that point, shared objective reality takes over, and it will be the same cops and ambulance who answer the call, regardless of the subjective perception of the crashed driver. Truth really matters. There is a such thing as right or wrong, true or false. Life does not afford us the luxury of making our own rules. The telephone pole still guards the corner.

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When You Look Around the World

dsw

When you look around the world things can appear grim and scary. I have some suggestions:

 

1. Be nice to somebody today.

2. Learn to think about other people.

3. Take pictures of the people and the world around you.

4. Check your address. If it’s not Aleppo be thankful.

5. Answer a little kid when it talks to you.

6. Stay in the shower longer than you have to.

7. Spend a few minutes with someone who is hurting.

8. Read a book.

9. Pick up a piece of litter.

10. Kiss that favorite someone for no reason whatsoever.

11. Indulge in silliness.

12. Fix a great meal. Share it with someone you love.

13. Go outside your house.

14. Remember a day that made you glad to be alive.

15. Write down something that happened.

16. Make someone laugh.

17. Refinish a piece of furniture.

18. Take a nap without feeling guilty.

19. Breathe deeply.

20. Dance in the kitchen.

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Bukowski’s Ghost

bukowski_2

 

Bukowski’s Ghost

 

I really don’t want to write like you as beautiful as it is,

too much pain, too much semen and maggots and blood.

I read you like a junkie shooting up, a rush to the brain.

When I was young I was cute with great hair

and the girls loved me, and I didn’t get turned down

for jobs or sex or clubs I wanted to get into.

My skin was clear. I didn’t suffer your crucifixions.

I was tough and mean with very fast fists,

and no one picked on me because I would hurt them

without even thinking. Not proud of that.

It was simply the way it was for a southern boy who

understood the brutal truths very early.

 

You were the kind of guy I felt sorry for, a pitiful loser,

foreigner, edge-liver, dredger of all that was ugly

and broken in the world, the ragged sax player on the corner

pumping out heart breaking jazz to the bus stop,

the indifferent traffic with windows rolled up in their oh so

precious cars, and bank clerks on the busses who

felt superior to you as the chrome beasts belched smoke.

Your reed was black with their smoke and still you

played on oblivious to their indifference, knowing in your heart

that your notes mattered, and you just didn’t give

a shit whether anyone was listening or not – you played.

I was not born with that courage or tolerance to pain.

 

I have a confession to make to you, and I hate confessions.

I believed the world about you, critics and small minds,

that you were the dirty old man who wrote about drunken

sex, vulgar roaches, ugly beaches and bars and whores

and everything that would make us awaken vomiting the horror,

and they were right, but they were so terribly wrong.

So terribly wrong. You were so tuned in, so engaged with what

the rest of us weren’t even seeing, feeling it all, like few

ever have and I thank whatever that I didn’t have to live in your

skin, or feel all of that. Feel all of that and shake.

Feel all of that and shake, the boil on your neck and the last beer

and cigar at three in the morning when no place is open.

 

You lived with a whore for ten years and loved her purely like an

Old Testament prophet, and when she finally died from

too much booze and life, you grieved for her for the rest of your life.

You wrote poems to her thirty years after she was gone,

poems that I read after you were gone, and I could feel her in them.

That is being a real man, even when you saw yourself as

a frightened child cowering in fear from the playground bullies,

those whose faces I would have broken with my hands.

Your love was so deep, so much deeper than my wicked hands,

so much deeper than Mozart, Faulkner or Freud.

You taught me something about loving people I won’t forget,

loving the broken, damaged, unlovable people.

 

I am bleeding now, my red life dripping onto the keyboard.

The cat bit me and the wound will not stop bleeding.

You loved cats, five as I recall. I don’t know what your cats

were like but mine is a ruthless killer who draws blood.

A friend of mine said, “You have to draw enough blood to

the surface that some of it comes off on the paper” – art.

Maybe that is why you loved the cats. Did they make you bleed?

Did you curse them in the night for the wounds they made?

Did you admire the purity of their cruel bloody fangs and claws?

Did you call them over to drink of your life as it spilled

onto the linoleum floor, the toaster, the sofa stained with beer?

My cat is in the alley right now because she knows I am mad.

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Wave

Wave

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Poems from the Street: Between

Bridges

 

Between

Between
Between young and old,
black and white,
rich and poor —

Between right and left,
gay and straight,
man and woman —

Between Inside and outside,
thought and feeling,
dreaming and waking —

Between now and then,
yesterday and today,
today and tomorrow —

Between them and us,
you and me
ourselves —
We need to build more bridges.

August 19, 2014

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Stories from the Street: Old Man with One Arm

One Armed Man1024

 

An old man with one arm, African–American, sat on the bench in front of Days Espresso. He was bumming cigarettes, but I didn’t have any, having quit in January. He said, "Hello" to me but nothing more. I said, "How are you doing?" but he didn’t answer. He didn’t ask me for anything — a relief – but just his presence made me feel guilty. I wanted to fix his devastated life, but I couldn’t. I tied up my shiny bike; the price of it would feed the old man two months, but that wasn’t going to happen. I went inside and got a coffee. The old man finally walked away. I hope he had somewhere to go.

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Poems from the Street: Dogfight

Buchertown Greenway 6

Dog fight out on the street –

Two pit bulls, one leashed

And one free,

hardly a fair fight.

 

Sun rakes the street

with searing rays.

It cooks things dry,

Makes dogs want to fight.

 

Fumes from cars

are WMD –

choking, toxic.

My bike makes no fumes.

 

Allant in Cherokee Park

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The Bike as a Drug

Trek Allant 20Syd Weedon

I had an intervention with myself and faced the fact that I am a bicycle junkie. I’m an addict. I don’t feel really right until I get out on my bike and ride. I received a particularly upsetting telephone call two nights ago. I thought about it for a couple of minutes and then I put on my helmet and reflective gear, turned on the lights and rode my bike until I got my feelings in order about what I had heard. The bike has become my drug.

The bicycle is actually a bunch of drugs for me. It’s my psychotropic anti-depressant. It’s my blood sugar reducing diabetes drug. It’s my cholesterol-reducing Crestor replacement. It’s my stiff-joint, NSAID, anti-inflammatory. It’s my blood pressure reducing anti-hypertension high blood pressure drug. It’s my diet and sleeping pill.

I have hypertension (high blood pressure) and due to the drugs I take for that, I need to have regular blood tests. A couple of years ago, I began showing very high blood sugar in the tests. My doctor said that I could go on another drug or get some aerobic exercise every day. I opted for the exercise and got really serious about getting some significant bicycle time every day. I’m averaging seventy miles a week on my bike and my blood sugar has been reduced by 60%.

The bike is my “non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory” drug. Once upon a time, just climbing the stairs in my home would have my knees screaming. Today, I climb them like a sixteen-year-old – no pain.

The bicycle is my diet pill. When I committed to riding my bike every day, I weighed 212 pounds and wore a snug 38” waist pants. Today, I weigh 178 and wear a loose 34” waist paints – in a bit more than a year and a half. My significant other totally loves the transformation. I feel fit and sexy rather than old and overweight.

I still have to take my high blood pressure meds. While I am getting better readings, I still have times when the blood pressure is too high. The bicycle is helping, and there may come a day when I can quit taking the meds, but it’s not here yet.

The bicycle is my sleeping pill. I have always been one who fights sleep. I will stay awake all night under the right circumstances, but that is unpleasant. It is hard for me to fall asleep at night, but when I have ridden 16 miles in a day, I care barely stay awake until midnight. It is well known that better sleep improves your overall health, including weight, skin, healing and mental acuity.

And yes, I suppose the bike is my cannabis. If you accept the traditional characterization that cannabis is a “euphoric” drug, then I’m getting my euphoria these days on the bicycle. After an epic ride, I really do feel euphoric, even if I’m tired and the muscles ache. I’ve smoked some pot in days past, and favor its legalization if for no other reason than to stop screwing up the lives of millions of young people who get arrested for it, but for me personally, the magic weed doesn’t do much for me these days. The bike is a different matter. A good ride will definitely produce a euphoric feeling, and I often wish that I could just keep on riding.

The bicycle simply makes me feel and look better. Even a fairly short ride will give me a warm glowy feeling. I suppose it results from the increased oxygen levels and the release of endorphins. Endorphins are described as “endogenous morphine” which is “released during exercise, excitement, pain, spicy food consumption, love, and orgasm.” After a good ride, I feel like I have taken some wonderful, perfect tranquilizer, but without any drug overhead. I have the proverbial “sense of well-being” while being acutely aware of my muscles and body. I have lost so much weight that I had to have my suits taken in. In the past couple of months, I have had several people, including doctors, tell me that I look “great” and it has been some time since I last heard those words. That’s great for the self-image. The bike is good for the body and the mind.

Yet, there is a downside to this rosy scenario. There are a few days when I cannot ride. Either the weather is just too foul (I don’t ride on ice or in thunderstorms which threaten hail), or I have business or social commitments which preclude a bike ride. On these days I go into serious bicycle withdrawal. Even on these dark days, I don’t despair because I know the clouds will go away; the ice will melt and my faithful two-wheeled medicine cabinet will be waiting for me in the garage, eager for another adventure and another chance to make me healthier.

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