Category Archives: big c culture

Contented Sonnet


Contented Life Sonnet II

I have scaled the dizzying heights in life/
Where style’s premiums don’t matter/
Enjoying simple pleasures with my wife/
Make youth’s sweet conquests trite anti-matter/

Garish achievement of modern excess/
Burnished by wealth & youth’s pneumatic curves/
Are distractions, mere possessions tasteless:/
Undermining dignity and reserve/

Life’s simple common everyday pleasures/
Companionship, comfort, community/
Are destroyed by modern drastic measures:/
(Disgusting excess’s impunity)/

So I will enjoy what I’m enjoying/
Though to wanton desire it’s annoying/

Contented Life Sonnet

I’ve attained the high plateau in life/
Where style’s premiums don’t matter/
Enjoying simple pleasures with my wife/
Make youth’s competition seem like blather/

Garish achievement of modern excess/
Burnished by wealth & pneumatic youth’s curves/
Those distractions, of possessions tasteless,/
From the straight and narrow will make you swerve/

Life’s simple psychological pleasures/
Companionship, comfort, community/
Are consumed by modern drastic measures/
(Disgusting excess’s impunity)/

So I will enjoy what I’m enjoying/
Though to consumerism:* annoying/

10a. I wrote a sonnet/
On middle aged contentment/
Because I’m happy/

10b. I wrote a sonnet/
On middle aged contentment/
To convince myself/


Sledding in Woodside Queens 2013

35. Sledding in Woodside/
With the people of the world/
Human gravity/


50. The snowy hillside/
In Woodside’s Doughboy playground/
Is peppered with fun/

51. Here Colombians/
Bengalis, Tibetans as/
Americans slide/

52. Snowy experience/
ReCaptured digitally/
Are sent to tropics/

53. iPad made movies/
Of happy Americans/
Are sent far away/

54. Woman with hijab/
Gucci covered iPad films/
Her smiling children/

55. Korean father/
Roars down the tree covered hill/
Ecstatically loud/


56. Mexican fam’ly/
Unloads children & their sleds/
Then tackle papí/

57. Americans all/
We enjoy democracy/
Of our acceptance/

36. Sledding with children/
Overshot my playfulness/
Collided with age/

37. Clenching rope handles/
Spinning beyond all control/
Damaged ring finger/

38. Regretting my ride/
Because I injured myself/
Shows a lack of faith/

39. Staying young inside/
More important than safety/
For immortal* souls/
#haiku *eternal

40. Aging bodies recede/
To within our comfort zone/
Abandoning youth/

41. Aches and troubles/
Of old immaturity/
Are truly priceless/

42. Youthfulness’s worth/
Though dangerous to old men/
Keeps their spirits fresh/

43. Adventure’s value/
Is an internal journey/
Exploring within*/
#haiku *our souls

44. The pains in my body/
Temporarily remind/
My mind I’m alive/

45. This throbbing finger/
Beats the rhythm of my heart/
Where I can feel it/

46. I regret nothing/
Because I’m educated/
By experience/

47. While I don’t like pain/
It reminds me I’m alive/
Here to live for now/


48. Wedding tourniquet/
The ring keeps my red blood in/
The heart of my life/

49. Ring’s Symbol becomes/
An active agent in life/
I cherish it so/


Subjectivity of Victims (or why we like the weak)

1. Adorable pets/
Are cute because don’t have/
2. Modern subjects will/
Protect the most powerless/
To feel meaningful/
3. Faraway poor folks/
Tibetans and Fetuses/
Assuage our egos/
4. Protect those beings/
Who can’t cut our privilege/
Has to be easy/
5. The unborn are not/
Demanding of anyone/
Except the mothers/
6. Protecting beings/
Who are not yet born is easy/
‘Cause they cost others/
7. Tibetans are real/
In China, Nepal & Queens/
Taking no suburbs/
8. Tibetan rights are/
Costs for our rival Chinese/
Not OUR wealth & ease/
9. 3rd world Christians are/
Particularly saintly/
(They agree with us)/
10. Don’t improve the rights/
Of local people who need/
Because we might LOSE/
11. The rights of the poor/
Are reduced to benefit/
The lives of wealthy/
12. In China or here/
Giving the poor more freedom/
Costs powerful more/
13. Give up your own rights/
limit your own privilege/
To improve the world/
14. “Ask not what [the world]/
Can do for you— ask what you/
can do for your [world]/

On Beauty

2. Being “beautiful”/
Without any confidence/
In yourself destroys*/
#haiku *erodes

3. Beauty’s burden weighs/
Heavily upon women/
When Objectified/

4a. Actual beauty/
Invisible to the eye/

5b. Actual beauty/
Invisible to the eye/
A fact to the heart/

5c. Actual beauty/
Invisible to the eye/
But plain to the soul/

6. Gossamer beauty/
Pleases the lower senses/
But can’t feed the soul/

7a. Accepted beauty/
Are “looks” empty calories/
Sweet not nourishing/

7b. Accepted beauty/
Social empty calories/
Sweet not nourishing/

8. Friendship is a feast/
While desire’s satisfaction/
Can leave us starving/

9a. Gaining ev’rything/
Can leave people abandoned/
Amongst vapid toys/

9b. Gaining ev’rything/
Can leave our souls abandoned/
Amidst emptiness/

10. These observations/
Upon beauty and desire/
Come too late for me/

11. Decades already spent/
Victim of social desire/
Leaves me with today/

12. Knowing that desire/
Is a social competition/
As much as real joy/

13. Knowing what I know/
I’m grateful for my mistakes/
& accept the past/


My Muse Has Narcolepsy

29. I awoke early/
But my muse is sleeping in/
So I write #haiku/

30. Rainy Fall mornings/
Are equally important/
To summer sunrise/

31. I need to seduce/
My muse with work’s discipline/
Not these trite #haiku/

32. I want to return/
To more longer form writing/
Explaining big thoughts/

33. #Haiku are slothful/
Atomized sharp ideas/
Shared for mere ego/

34. I need to expand/
My thinking to articles/
Published in journals/

Zadie Smith’s *On Beauty* (Summer Read #1)

7/19/12 8:49 pm

Just finished Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. Hmm, where to start? We’re on Fire Island and the kids are at Bingo Night (I’ve been journaling in my notebook and writing haiku journals in my two blogs todayeye and wqueens7). I have made this book last altogether too long.

I liked On Beauty because Smith is a consummate novelist, freighting everything with meaning. Each word is simultaneously informative within the story and about life as well. I really love reading good novels (or novels that I like). It reminds me of what is good about life: everything is simultaneously a fact about the world and a symbol to be interpreted.  (That is one of the things I’ve been meaning to write about, the semiotics of life in the world.)

Three points to to start with, first the most personal and idiosyncratic: Adultery. In 93 or 94 I was a reader for Don McQuade’s Cold War Ethnic Literature course at Berkeley and for that class I read Eat a Bowl of Tea. The plot was not adultery per-se,  but  a wife who is raped and continues to have sex with her rapist because her husband is impotent.  Reading that book as I was in my 1st long term relationship was really hard on me emotionally.  I think it was because I was so insecure about having a girlfriend and I was so happy to be living with Linda and to have had a real connection with a  partner, the idea of a marriage not working out “happily ever after” stylee was horrifying. This time the adulterer is a protagonist.  He’s not terribly likeable, nor is his relationship, but their marriage is a huge part of five lives and the idea of even a bad marriage failing upsets me. It isn’t a bad marriage, just a rote one.  I’d imagine it is like every marriage: habit. To disrupt the routine of a family is, to me, for some reason, terrifying. I guess I’m happy about my life and any threat to it is frightening.

Second, and I guess this is related to the adultery plot, SEX. First, his first affair is with a woman whom he has known for thirty years. Claire recalls recalls seducing him without any desire for him or and real understanding of why she did it.  I, somehow, understand that “Imp of the Perverse” that would make you behave horribly and then deal with the consequences.  I am glad I’ve never cheated on Linda and that it has been a while since I did any of those self destructive behaviors that are, as they say in AA, moving towards a drink. Phew!

Claire, the woman of the initial affair, is also described as mega fit in the most unattractive way. She is the opposite of his zaftig African American wife physically, and in some ways intellectually and temperamentally.  He doesn’t like her, he just does it because he can. JERK!  I could see falling into that sort of trap if I didn’t try to keep myself spiritually fit.

Victoria, -Vee-, the daughter of an academic rival who sort of seduces him at her mother’s wake, and was the first love of his oldest son, is described as completely beautiful and composed, but also young and immature.  She “sexts” him and manipulates him into a second encounter, where he sees her ugly side and snaps out of it.  Of course, she is nineteen and he is fifty seven.  She is a student and young woman, and he is a father and professor.  There is no simple “right and wrong” here, but I find it possibly excusable:but finally inexcusable.

Her beauty and stereotypical beauty of youth is a social asset and very glamorous, but inappropriate. I liked this part of the novel. The collapse of visual or two dimensional beauty into something other than an asset worked for me. Like Claire Malcolm, the wirey poetess, the babalicious buppy princess, two forms of fetishized women presented to middle aged men like me, are finally shown to be thin, two dimensional wraiths in inappropriate and unequal power relation relationships.  I like that, and in some ways that was the main gristle of the novel for me. however, I think it could have been handled more economically.

The novel ends with no closure. There is huge growth on the part of Howard, but it is incremental. He doesn’t get everything back (like I wanted), but he does make huge steps towards righting himself to a better, more independent and complete person.

One other little thing that bothered me was that the language wasn’t quite right I admire Smith for trying to leave England, but I was bothered by a few misused words (road).

Well, this is hardly a book review, or  even a cogent assessment of the novel, but it is a good personal account of some of the main parts of the novel from my perspective…

Life’s Meaning

Life always has meaning

Life always has meaning/
Though we mortals can’t see/

Death always comes too soon/
As far as we’re concerned/

Looking for that meaning/
Is searching for “divine”/

Though we cannot see it/
Reason’s meaning exists/

Fumbling through our lives/
We might catch some glimpses/

But like bright shooting stars/
Can’t see eternity/

Metaphysical truth/
Evades human knowledge/

Nonetheless life matters/
Although we can’t know why/

We must just do our part/
Painting life with meaning/