Jack Homer is a computer simulation modeler and public policy analyst who lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. More of Jack’s poetry may be found in the small collections, “Idle Chatter: Poems of the Daily Grind” (2016) and “False Equivalents: Dispatches from an Angst-Ridden Land” (2021), available through Amazon.com.
My Eve in the garden Brings pears picked from the old tree, A tree that was here before we were. We must snare the pears before They fall to the ground, Clanging off the tin roof of the shed In their descent to the soil, Soon chomped by the greedy deer. Eve has claimed a paltry few, Spotted, uneven, and hard Sitting in the little terracotta bowl Trying to ripen on the warm back porch Of late summer. Not so great eaten whole, she says, But maybe we could make pear chutney. Still, even a week later, they remain hard as rocks. Ten summers have passed in our little yellow house, And the tree has never produced pliant fruit. Let’s face it, I say, it’s a crappy old tree, Despite its numerical bounty and craggy good looks, Providing sustenance and shade To the does and their wobbly spotted fawns, Appreciated by our porch pooch and other sunset spectators, But of limited usefulness to fancy country folks like us Looking for finer fare.
Here sits the killer whale, the orca, aye-aye, Two weeks after excision of the starboard testicle.
And there, by gar, is his human counterpart, Signor Deflato, the pirate, Former master of the seas, Finding it hard to sit still for long, Seized up inside and walking the plank, His baggy eyes covered by a bloody blindfold.
Ancient animal, ancient mariner, Both need the rush of action, Else drag them leeward, land ho, Put out to pasture Under a picturesque headstone on the hill.
Will whale and pirate rise again? Can they overlook the gouging That has rendered the wrinkled flesh and the sagging spirit? Can they move on to delight again in the waves In spite of their weeping wounds?
No one understands the will of a whale, Nor that of the pirate backing off the plank Stepping back into the frigate, his hairy heart intact; Stumbling over to the portside deck To salute his blubbery nemesis And to begin (shouting hell with them all) again.
No speech is what I would ask When the alternative is self-serving blather. So many of these words say nothing solid or illuminating: The saplings are too green, While the thick-trunked send out no branches.
Who is there to value the substantial and oppose the common noise? To separate the thoughtful from the muddled, The straight from the distorted?
The noise clogs our senses And infects our speech. We are full of the noise and, Wishing to be heard, We make more.
Be here sometimes
After pushing across the finish line of a doctoral program and dissertation, A 6-year grueling mega-marathon, I thirsted for escape to exotic places, To see my face reflected in some murky global water, Far from Massachusetts, far from an Institute, far from Technology.
For four months in 1983 I tramped solo through south Asia, Two of them in India experiencing big-sky highs and dysenteric lows; I became acculturated and tanned to the point that some in the south mistook me for a visitor from Delhi or Mumbai, And I read modern Indian philosophy and history books during the evenings and the long train rides.
I was intrigued by Jiddu Krishnamurti Who says that freedom and fulfillment are found in being unattached, Choosing nothing, planning nothing, Being here now.
But ultimately it didn’t ring true. My free mind doesn’t always want to be here; It wants to move from present to past to future and back-- Taking apart, putting together, assessing, accepting, Spinning inward and inward, then outward and outward.
I know that the mind can get trapped, Bogged down in reliving the past Or worrying about the future. So, then, be a little goalless, be here more, Let go—but realistically, just for a spell.
Because really, who can keep being here now? Only one being I know, my bouncy puppy, Whose exuberance knows no bounds, And who would (if I let him) chase the ball across the street Without looking left or right. It’s good he has an owner Who thought ahead and bought a leash.
So there I was in 1983, this wandering human, Congenitally cautious but youthfully curious, Walking by a lake, caught in a Rajasthani rainstorm, Invited into a tent, tilting my head to say yes,
To sip hot chai ladled from the urn on the dirt floor, Saying dhanyavaad with wet palms pressed, And exchanging a few simple words in English About how I walked there and where I would walk afterwards.
A memorable moment, of course, But I knew I would never see that place again. I returned to my path back home, Got back to work, back to the obligations; Those leashes that help provide an arc of meaning, Though in the end we are not here at all.
If it’s all the same
1. The other time I left things this way There was no Sturm und Drang Nor suggestion that I was a villain But still every word left someone Twisting in the wind I blew.
What do you mean, “fun”, And do you think it can be induced Or transfused When all the world is sobering My insides like shifting sands Or waves rolling over the main deck of A ship in a nighttime sea?
It should be easier to move on When everything is about moving on Roll with the punches, say experts, But no feeling person masters this Not because the punches foreshadow Death But because each one is a death in miniature.
2. A throwback to the thought of a future Populated by clear-headed folks With mirror neurons intact Feet on the ground Eyes soft with compassion.
But never mind, It was never going to happen. The benign invisible hand was crushed By the weight of billions But more so by the clever ones who thought They had a better idea To speed the propellers faster.
It was something to do, And it felt like progress While it lasted.
3. I’m ready for an answer Or at least an indication Of what is working and what is not.
The anointed ones say there are no answers. Well, hmm, they say many things and In the end are as limp and confused as anyone. Listen to your heart blah blah blah, Be sure to blah blah blah blah.
Why say more When the added words don’t awaken or inspire anyone Except some adolescents and addled older dreamers Giving them shallow hopes soon enough dashed On shoals of—blah.
4. It was fine for a while And then it just ended-- No pain, no gain, if it don’t kill me Then surely it’ll make me better At swallowing it the next time.
I’d better mess around somewhere else. Maybe that’ll be better; Yeah, I bet that’ll work out fine.
5. I tried to build a nice square frame A kind of raised bed For the toes that needed aligning; The perfect structure but The feet didn’t make their way to my door And I had to venture out On a mission to capture by persuasion Or by stepping on the toes; But my heart wasn’t in it And I sat stone-faced alone, Because one must not be self-pitying.
6. You hoped for fulfillment In a never-ending conversation: Diverging, converging, encompassing, Giving meaning beyond the mundane, Pulling upward not sideways. Instead, you got a yo-yo life, the best available.