Sunday, October 31, 2004

Poem: Winds of Change

Winds of Change

Winds blowing constant off of New Jersey’s shore
Hoping for change from what four years endure
Country’s been languished in a failing direction
Foolish, our President, who will bare no correction
Blindly led backward by consuming obstruction
Falsely we’re given to a mindless destruction
Losing our place in a world of allying
Left all alone by a truth we’re denying
Feeling the breeze as it flies to the distance
Hoping for change in the wind’s strong resistance
Arise with a strength in renewing conviction
Altering the course from this Bush-whacked affliction

Copyright SGW 2004

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Poem: Timshel(East of Eden)

John Steinbeck is my favorite author, and "East of Eden" one of my favorite books. Make sure you read the footnote below.

Timshel(East of Eden)

East of Eden, fulfillment lies.
What life can offer the garden hides.
If masked illusion should guide the day,
The "happy" shell eventually will break away.
A fleeting vision that the world is pure
Leaves one ill-prepared for what they must endure.
Unfairly held to perfect measure,
Might stop the soul from knowing pleasure.
For where one cannot see a darkened sky,
Tomorrow’s sun shined air is just a lie.
Better yet to know, somewhere within is held,
Hidden parts of evil with goodness meld.
The struggle’s wrought with tribulation;
Makes sometimes arduous, self-preservation.
A delicate balance to not concede;
Within corrupted ways we might recede.
And at the crossroads, in time, all shall know
The choice is ours which way to go.
Thou mayest set right the sins you’ve laid,
And chance the joys of life be made.
So in this war the scales gently quiver
Toward the choice the mind might soon deliver.
East of Eden the spirit knows it’s free
To be what faith and courage will let it be.

Copyright SGW 1998

Footnote: "East of Eden" was written by John Steinbeck. "Timshel" is the Hebrew word for "Thou mayest." "timshel - ‘Thou mayest’ - that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on man. For if ‘Thou mayest’ - it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’" - John Steinbeck.

Poem: A Mountainside Field in Maine

This was written sitting in the rain on the side of a mountain in northeastern Maine, near the Canadian border.

A Mountainside Field in Maine

Mountains cascading one past another,
Some soaring to great heights,
Others reaching only high enough,
To break the looker's distant view.

Rivers nearby,
Sifting through valleys and slumbering villages,
Trees sprinkled about the countryside,
In number; a reflection to the evening stars above.

The looker shuts his eyes to alert his other senses.

Gone are the familiar sounds of traffic, telephones and angry voices,
Present now is near silence - or so it would seem.

For now, the listener can hear birds singing from their nearby stages of branch and leaf,
He hears the wind ruffle through the acres of grass all around him,
And feels it as it gently kisses his cheeks and caresses his hair.

There are many sounds,
But they are soft, inviting and at peace with each other.

He opens his eyes to see the heavenly quiet he had heard and felt,
The looker,
The listener,
He feels a million miles away,
He feels near to God,
He feels so close to nature,
He smiles and closes his eyes once more.

Copyright SGW 1995

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Poem: World Stripped Away

Friday, October 22, 2004 - Associated Press: "Report warns of loss of Earth's resources"

"Humanity's reliance on fossil fuels, the spread of cities, the destruction of natural habitats for farmland and over-exploitation of the oceans are destroying Earth's ability to sustain life." So says a World Wildlife Fund report in an Associated Press article.

"Humans currently consume 20 percent more natural resources than the Earth can produce," adds the WWF report. "We are running up an ecological debt which we won't be able to pay off unless governments restore the balance between consumption of natural resources and the Earth's ability to renew them."

According to the report, the United States is one of the five biggest consumers of nonrewable energy. This story struck a chord with me as it is a subject that I have been giving a great deal of thought to lately. Every time I see a new construction site or another strip mall or read about Orca dying in Puget Sound due to sonar interference caused by the government allowing larger ships into the area or I drive behind another SUV, I feel a pain from deep within. I worry about our future, or if we have one given the way we are wasting away this planet.

The environmental ruin we have wrought on this planet is staggering. And we have a mistaken belief that it won't matter. We can't seem to comprehend that everything is connected and the damage we do in one place effects some other in a harmful manner.

We clear cut forests and wonder why we have mudslides. Cases of cancer and lung disease increase year by year, yet we can't see the tie-in to poor air quality and polluted water supplies; not to mention processed food. The cloud thickens around our cities to the point that a breath of air becomes a strain, but does anyone question the poor automobile mileage and efficiency standards of SUVs?

We mismanage our National Parks by underfunding their upkeep and monitoring, turn a blind eye as large corporations make land spoilation part of their business model and ignore any possibility of developing alternative energy sources so that the same corporations can rake in the profits, made on the planet's limited supplies of oil.

We think that developing land for commercial and residential purposes will keep property taxes low, create jobs and meet growing consumer needs, but we fail to realize how short term these gains are when measured against the lost lands needed for wildlife of all kinds. Every lost field of grass or endangered species or contaminated fishing area or over-farmed land becomes one more break in the chain of life. Eventually, when enough chains have been broken off, our piece in the link will whither away, too. We are like the teenager too sure he will live forever to eat right, exercise, quit smoking or behave in a healthy manner. That teenager will pay at 40, and so, too, will humankind at some fast-approaching moment.

As we overpopulate the planet beyond sustainable levels, ignore mass transit opportunities until our roads become parking lots and pretend conservation should only be something hippies in Oregon do, we die a little bit more each day. This litany of environmental ruin I have laid forth in this entry might seem like Liberal ranting. But look closely at the world you live in. Notice the traffic, extra sun screen you apply now, the number of friends with cancer, the empty strip malls that stand next to a construction site for another strip mall, the gas mileage you get on your SUV, and the number of cigarette butts lying about the smoking area outside your office, and then tell me I am wrong.

World Stripped Away

Strip mall upon strip mall;
At landscapes they eat.
Strip mine affected
With ruinous feat.

Clearing a pathway;
Once was beauteous living.
Now all’s gone for sale,
Passed to builders we’re giving.

No room left for moving.
Traffic a curse.
Each new built construction;
Our world’s all the worse.

Short term the thinking,
Short-sighted gains;
Space since restricted
As clean living wanes.

Politicians so foolish
In the ratables chased.
Redundant; unneeded;
Our planet’s defaced.

More land since been spoiled
With each plow into dirt.
Every tree lost to clearing
Is our future we hurt.

Polluting the rivers
Equals life to extinction.
Smog fills the heavens.
Is this man’s lone distinction?

The world’s all connected;
As this sphere sees reduction;
Exploiting life’s circle
Is a slow self-destruction.

Copyright SGW 2004

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Things that piss me off

Forgive the rant, but I am in a mood.

1. People who throw their cigarette butts out the car window. Really, people who throw any trash anywhere but in a garbage pail, but cigarette butts are the worst.
2. While we are still on the subject of cigarettes, how about the following:
a) People who smoke in homes with children.
b) People who smoke outside the entrance to Sloan-Kettering. Is there anything more ignorant?
c) People who smoke anywhere near me.
3. A space that was once trees, grass and birds turned into another strip mall. Yeah, we really need a third drugstore, fourth Subway and eighth Quickie Mart in the neighborhood. No, five Home Depots in a 2 mile span are not enough!
4. People who think George Bush is a strong man. He is a fucking dope and coward; get over it!
5. The guy who sweats like a pig at the gym and does not wipe down the machine at all. Yuck!
6. The driver who pulls right into the middle of the intersection and does not allow me to turn out of the street I am patiently waiting at.
7. Anyone talking on a cell phone in a restaurant, movie theater, gym, or at a ballgame, in the middle of a busy store so everyone else can listen, or while in the stall next to me in the bathroom (I always think they are talking to me).
8. Oprah Winfrey.
9. Dr. Phil.
10. The person who just disappears instead of showing the courage to explain themselves first.
11. People who don't vote.
12. People who are anti-choice and do not volunteer with children either.
13. People who feel the need to inflict their religious beliefs on me to "save me."
14. Traffic jams.
15. People who do not return phone calls or respond to E Mails.
16. The Yankees, the football Giants or the Devils winning.
17. Fake, right wing patriotism.
18. Selfishness.
19. Greed.
20. Corruption.
21. Politicians who legislate hatred, exclusiveness or separation, and the voters who let them get away with it.
22. The lazy media.
23. My cable bill.
24. Calls from telemarketers, salesmen or fake charities.
25. Cheesy "music." Examples would be Britney Spears, boy bands, Beyonce, and either Simpson sister.
26. Speaking of the Simpsons, how about Reality TV, especially Trump's show. Pure dreck!
27. Foxs News Channel.
28. Interviewers who take 20 minutes to ask a question and end up providing sixteen different answers before the interviewee even has a chance to speak.
29. Racial, religious, sexual, or cultural bigotry.
30. My condo property management company.
31. SUVs. Why do people who live in the suburbs in NJ need a sports utility vehicle?

Ok, that's it for tonight. I feel better now.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Poem: Jersey Shore

I have written many times about the Jersey shore, and many more times I have found it to be my favorite place to write about anything. It is my place for peace, soul searching and escape. It is often my sanctuary and connection to God. I enjoy just sitting, listening and watching. And I enjoy walking barefoot in the outer limits of the surf. I hope this poem provides a strong taste of imagery that expresses a bit of what I mean and feel.

Jersey Shore

Could never exist in life removed
From peace I so adore
Happiness always lies within
Spent time on Jersey’s shore
Sit for hours and close my eyes
Taste the ocean’s soothing breeze
Stand along a quiet tide
Toes touched in gentle seas
Waves beat endless ‘gainst the rocks
Forever joined with sure resistence
Clouds sit high to met horizons
As gulls glide in the distance
Children surf upon the water
Dogs in frisbee’d-chasing pleasure
To and fro the people pass
In boardwalk, journeyed leisure
As daylight fades with setting sun
The air brings cool remind
Alone among the countless stars
Of God, the shore’s defined

Copyright SGW 2004

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Vote For Change Concert's Final Performance

The last show of the "Vote For Change Concert" series took place in the Meadowlands in New Jersey last night, and what a show it was! Led by Bruce Springsteen's unyielding energy and force, the performance was at once inspiring and also demanding; demanding of a more progressive government. If the night's acts could not get the people to vote for change with their words, they would do so with shear determination.

Springsteen led the charge with remarks about New Jersey being a swing state. He mentioned how he had woken up one morning for breakfast and saw in the newspaper that the polls in New Jersey were too close to call and that his beloved "Jersey" had become a state in play. His response was, "What the hell are we doing?!" He said his first thoughts were to "get to the Meadowlands now!" He added, "If you're swinging. If you're swaying. Release the burdens of Republicanism. Be saved!" He asked for volunteers to get out on the streets so that this country could remain the land of great promise that it is.

But the evening was about great music and the night began with Patti Scialfa, Bruce's wife, opening up with a strong set. Her performance included popular renditions of "Rumble Doll" and "23rd Street Lullaby," as well as "As Long As I," which Springsteen joined in on. Scialfa also spoke briefly, stating that "women should not vote with fear, but should vote from strength."

Jackson Browne followed Scialfa onto the stage with a set that started slowly, including a dedication to Daniel Pearl and "Fountain of Sorrow," but quickly built momentum. Browne noted that people had referred to his songs as being more in the form of a speech at times, and he immediately launched into the gentle, yet forcefully haunting, "Lives in the Balance."

"And there's a shadow on the faces
Of the men who send the guns
To the wars that are fought in places
Where their business interest runs"

"They sell us the president the same way
They sell us our clothes and our cars
They sell us everything from youth to religion
The same time they sell us our wars
I want to know who the men in the shadows are
I want to hear somebody asking them why
They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
But they're never the ones to fight or to die

Browne then slid right into a song of patriotic hope mixed with frustration, "For America," before adding the classic "The Pretender" to the night's set list. It then was guest time as Browne brought out Steve Van Zandt for a performance of Little Steven's "I am a Patriot."

"I am a Patriot
And I love my country
Because my country
Is all I know

This was followed by "Running On Empty," which Springsteen joined in on for a truly classic collaboration, and a spirited ending to Jackson Browne's performance.

Shortly thereafter, Bruce Springsteen took to the stage with a soulful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner performed alone on his guitar. The band joined in for the anti-war, "Born in the USA," with Springsteen leading the charge of the combined message of the mistakes of an administration with too much power and the broken dreams of the people that that power leads to.

Eddie Vedder, of Pearl Jam, joined Springsteen early in the set for a raucous performance of Springsteen's "No Surrender" and "Darkness on the Edge of Town." Vedder also led the E Street Band in Pearl Jam's "Better Man."

After Springsteen sang "Johnny 99," a song of economic despair that turns to tragedy, John Fogerty joined the act. Fogerty played three songs with Springsteen, including the gripping "Fortunate Son," bringing comparisons to George Bush and his life of unearned rewards mixed with the passing of sacrifice to others that has marked Bush's entire rise to power.

The show continued on with high voltage performances of "The Rising" by Springsteen, "Racing in the Streets," with Springsteen and Browne and "Mary's Place," where Springsteen fell into his popular preacher mode. He reminded the crowd that John Kerry and John Edwards would honor the important issues facing our nation and would move the country forward. He added that "America is not always right, but should always be true," a sharp rebuke of the Bush Administration. He voiced disdain for "dime store patriotism," before launching into a "take no prisoners" version of "Born to Run."

The seemingly exhausted crowd found new energy as Springsteen and Fogerty took the stage for an encore set of Creedence classics - "Proud Mary," "Bad Moon Rising" and "Travelin' Band." The night ended with all the performers joining forces for Nick Lowe's "Peace, Love and Understanding," before the climactic Patti Smith song, "People Have the Power," and its symbolism of what we can accomplish if we realize the strength that we all possess. It says "to wrestle the world from fools." What a fitting ending to a show where the raw energy of rock and roll, combined with a message of change, brought the house, and hopefully the Bush Administration, down to its knees.

Springsteen's Set List:
Instrumental Star Spangled Banner
Born in the USA
Lonesome Day
No Surrender with Eddie Vedder
Darkness on the Edge of Town with Eddie Vedder
Eddie Vedder/Springsteen - Better Man
Johnny 99
John Fogerty/Springsteen - Centerfield
John Fogerty - Deja Vu
John Fogerty/Springsteen - Fortunate Son
The Rising
Racing in the Streets with Jackson Browne
Mary's Place
Born to Run
John Fogerty/Springsteen - Proud Mary
John Fogerty/Springsteen - Bad Moon Rising
John Fogerty/Springsteen - Travelin' Band
All - Peace, Love and Understanding
All - People Have the Power

Monday, October 11, 2004

Poem: Winter

Written for a friend who was going through hard times.


The world seems gray and cold outside,
When peace of mind will often hide,
Days flitter past with chilled despair,
And spirits left in disrepair.
A winter’s long in solitude,
And snowy beauty’s misconstrued,
Buried deeply, the growth of life,
All sense of warmth is lost in strife.
A snowball grows without regard,
Keeping out from under’s sometimes hard,
While standing strong is rather rough,
Not giving in can be enough.
A strengthened back might shovel clear,
And build a path ‘round any fear,
For every storm that leaves its mark,
When given time, shall disembark.

Copyright SGW 1997

Christopher Reeve

Many people died yesterday so why should we focus on the famous people; a similar question to when I sent well wishes to Melissa Etheridge. Well, the truth is we should value the non-famous with equal vigor to what we display for celebrities. However, a celebrity's illness or death can evoke strong responses and force issues to the forefront. I offer Lance Armstrong as Exhibit A.

Anyway, Christopher Reeve died yesterday. Mr. Reeve was a valiant warrior in search of answers for spinal injuries, and one battle he fought was for stem cell research. There might be cures at hand for spinal injuries, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease and who knows what else. There are enormous issues in this campaign (Iraq, terrorism, the economy), but let's not let this one issue slip through the cracks. People are dying or suffering with terrible illnesses or injuries. What if cures are within the grasp of honest and wholly ETHICAL research?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Poem: The Hours

I had a deep appreciation for the three life choices in the movie, "The Hours."

The Hours

Darkness creeps from deep within;
Consumes the all about;
Twisting, turning disrepair
That fills an inner doubt.
Entangled threads that fray and split;
A tear of inner core.
Roots of life begin to pull,
With pain one can’t ignore.
By suicidal tendencies;
Of masks in hidden gloom;
The Hours fraught with endless time
From which its tickings loom.
Choices life or choices death,
Sometimes the path away;
Choices fear or choices dread,
Or chance to live each day.
Darkness creeps from deep inside,
As currents sweep the skin.
Gasps for air in choking lungs,
As means to ends begin.

Copyright SGW 2003

Friday, October 8, 2004

Poem: Bush/Cheney


They hide in their shadows
And hold no regret
Squander our future
Yet act so upset
When questioned of virtue
Or asked for some plan
Blame they shift elsewhere
They don’t give a damn
Devise false compassion
Conceal all their hate
A future providing
Has been left up to fate
An agenda conspiring
Masses they dupe
The lowest of levels
They’ll willingly stoop
Tax cuts for wealthy
Connected to oil
Our natural beauties
They happily spoil
Destroy with no reason
Invade for no cause
Debts left as burdens
Their waste knows no pause
Promote world disorder
Bridges to burn
No need for alliance
In friends that they spurn
Fundamentalist preaching
They imply and invoke
Rights from the Founders
They slowly revoke
On November the second
Vote with a purpose
Remove from their office
This Bush/Cheney circus

Copyright SGW 2004

Melissa Etheridge

I am not sure who reads my blog entries and I am certain Melissa Etheridge does not. However, I am a huge fan of hers, and as a cancer survivor myself, I wanted to send my best wishes for a fast and complete recovery to Melissa in her battle against breast cancer.

The three worst words I have ever heard were "You have cancer." You do not even know how to react. I hope she has many friends and family members for support and that she comes through this as strong as ever.

Good luck Melissa!

Sunday, October 3, 2004

"Sammy's Hill," by Kristin Gore

When I read in Newsweek a few weeks ago that Kristin Gore, daughter of Vice President Al Gore, had written a novel that was receiving positive reviews, I thought, "Ok, it sounds good. Let me buy it and give it a whirl."

"Sammy's Hill" is the story of Samantha Joyce, a Senate staffer working on healthcare issues for Senator Robert Gary, of Ohio. The story is a very interesting look into D.C. culture, the ways of the Senate staffing world, the agendas of politics and politicians, and the whole game that is our government at times. That would make this a worthwhile read in and of itself..

However, what makes this book special is Sammy. She is naive, devoted, sincere, hard working, and determined to make things better. She is also a bit neurotic, clumsy, a bumbler, and unlucky at love. Sammy is not the best with a blackberry, either, which makes for the two most humorous parts of the book.

Kristin Gore gives us a story that is both smart and insightful, yet also loving, cute and laugh out loud hysterical. It finishes with a flourish that is touching just long enough to make the parting moment of the book that much funnier.

I loved this book on several levels. Buy it. Read it. Enjoy it.

Poem: Cancer

On February 1, 1999, I was diagnosed with cancer. On February 5, 1999, I was operated on. Throughout March of 1999, I endured seventeen radiation treatments. These are some of the emotions of that period. Oh, 5 1/2 years cancer-free now!


What can I do?

For fighting anew.

Blood gone askew.

Can I see this thing through?

For the battle to brew.

Success I am due.

No cancer
To that day I am true.

Two traits as my glue.

Copyright SGW 1999

Poem: Two A.M. Hairball

A little humor that cat lovers will appreciate.

Two A.M. Hairball

Lying in peace late at night in my bed
Soundly asleep as the dark hours fled
Deep in a slumber awash in all dreams
Nothing more tranquil; at least so it seems
Strange sudden noises awaken my sleep
I’m up in a moment no matter how deep
For below the foot of my bed echoes most hideous bellows
Reminds me of coughing - it’s my furry, black fellows!
One’s filled with a hacking of a disturbing relent
Another Two A.M. Hairball disturbs all content
It is a chooking and chekking that breaks up the night
Until a heap of their dinner is planted in sight
Gracing my carpet, a mountain of dreck
Yet the worst part is cleaning every last little speck
Every feline companion has known what I speak
Yet the Two A.M. Hairball is not for the weak
The first time you hear it, you think the cat might implode
Then each every after you just wait to scoop up the load
You try lots of tricks to lessen occurrence
Whether treats, meds or diet, nothing’s deterrence
So cat people sleep with an ear for that sound
Certainly deep in an evening the coughs will abound
And sigh or ignore it, it still’s gonna’ come
The Two A.M. Hairball and the cats that they’re from.

Copyright SGW 2001

* Footnote: The words chooking and chekking should be pronounced the way a Jewish person would pronounce Chanukkah. You know, that flem-making sound that some Hebrew words utilize.

Saturday, October 2, 2004

Vote For Change Concert in Philadelphia

"My point of view is pretty simple, said Bruce Springsteen on an overhead screen prior to the "Vote For Change Concert opening, "I think that if you mislead the country, and you take the nation to war, and you put our sons and daughters on the line and the basis on which you have taken the country to war proves false, you lose your job. It's not rocket science. When you do that, you lose your job. "

I could not have said it better or more clearly than the Boss laid it out for us at the "Vote For Change Concerts" last night in Philadelphia. These opening comments included remarks from Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Eddie Vedder, and members of R.E.M. They were one small piece of an inspiring evening that began with an army of Moveon.Org members canvassing the arriving crowds of fans for volunteers or voter registration. Pro-Kerry and anti-Bush shirts were everywhere, including my "Friends Don't Let Friends Vote Republican." I got many thumbs up and kudos for that one. The "Bushit" stickers abounded, too.

Following the comments on the overhead screen, Bruce and Michael Stipe gave a brief introduction for the evening's cause; the need for a more PROGRESSIVE leadership, then brought out "Bright Eyes" for a solid opening performance.

Then Bruce introduced R.E.M., who opened with "One I Love," followed by their typically strong live show. The set list included "Losing My Religion," with the crowd in full voice, and "Man On the Moon," which Springsteen joined in on.

But the highlights of the show were still ahead of us. Fifteen minutes after R.E.M wrapped up, the spotlight honed in on the singular figure of Bruce Springsteen, dressed in black, with just his guitar, performing a rousing rendition of the Star Bangled Banner, a la Jimi Hendrix. The crowd was in a patriotic frenzy right away. The E Street Band then launched into the anti-war "Born In the U.S.A.," the song misinterpreted by President Reagan twenty years ago.

Springsteen later added some songs of social and economic distress, "Youngstown" and "Johnny 99," to the show, following them with the Kerry campaign favorite, "No Surrender." Then the evening really took off as Bruce brought out John Fogerty. Springsteen and Fogerty sang "Deja Vu" and the overwhelmingly potent, "Fortunate Son," among others. Bruce also later added "Promised Land."

During "Mary's Place," Springsteen went into his patented "music preacher mode." If you have never seen him live, he does this alot and it is fantastic. This time, though, in midstream, he called out for someone to be converted. A man in a suit and tie, looking strikingly like Dick Cheney, walked out. Bruce touched his forehead as the man fell to the floor. Springsteen said, "Now say Halliburton three times and heal!" The man rose and said, "I am converted and am voting for change!" A thing of beauty!

The four hour concert wound down with an encore performance of the Nick Lowe/Elvis Costello song, "Peace, Love and Understanding," and the Patti Smith hit, "People Have the Power," performed by all the night's entertainers. Bruce led it with the (paraphrased) message that the "Promise of America is within us."

The show was an unquestioned success. Joined by other shows throughout Pennsylvania, led by John Mellencamp, Jackson Browne, Pearl Jam, and Bonnie Raitt, that will also hit other swing states, the messages were clear: Love of country does not belong to one party, this nation needs a change and new leadership to bring it about, and we ALL must get involved and do our part to make those changes possible.