We’re All Fumbling Through

We’re all fumbling through; we’re all finding our way
So just what are we supposed to do?
What is the manner we should deal with each day?
What should we embrace or eschew?

We can start with an attitude of gratitude base
And hopefully build onto that
It is certainly quite challenging when life’s sticks and stones
Knocks us down and leaves us out flat

But that’s where the magic of gratitude starts
As we’re told to be grateful for all
The good and the bad, the happy and sad
The Eden idyllic pre-fall

There is good in the bad and bad in the good
An oft incomprehensible blend
We choose what to focus on, what meaning attach
And the ways we can best comprehend.

Sometimes it may work and sometimes may not
When we’re stuck in the muck and the stew
But pleasure is fleeting and so is the pain
It will change, rearrange, and renew.

So to take the long view is a method to try
And remember that we are all guests
Of that something beyond the wide world that we see
And the lessons we learn from life’s tests.

                        John Haigis, 8/19/14
The Ballad of Smedley Butler
(Can be sung to the Marine Hymn)

My name is Smedley Butler
A United States Marine
A more decorated soldier
Seldom has been seen

My family came from Quaker stock
I served my country straight
A racketeer for Wall Street
My story I will relate

War is just a racket
As far as I can tell
A few are on the inside
The rest can go to hell

A small group of insiders
Know what it’s all about
The masses on the other hand
Do not and are left out

It’s all about the money
Wall Street sets the rules
The masses are the pawns you see
The bankers use as tools

When bankers get too restless
They look overseas for swag
The flag follows the dollar,
And the soldiers follow the flag

I was a gangster for Wall Street
Their “muscleman” for 30 years
I followed orders, as I was told
I was a racketeer

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Past Times Present home
That which was done

That which was done, is what will be done
There is nothing new under the sun
All is vanity as has been said
Some day every one of us will wind up dead

The life that we live is so very complex
From a single cell split to the mysteries of sex.
What is illusion? How much is real?
How much faith to put in what we can feel?

Is there a maker? Is there a God
Is there a purpose? It's all very odd
Although I can't prove it and only can guess
About a prime mover who simply said "Yes!"

We're all here on Earth for a very few years
Doing our dance between laughter and tears
Where do we come from? Where do we go?
We all can guess but we really don't know.

So we're together in this moment in time
Partly profane and partly sublime
Dancing together, dancing apart
Which is the horse and which is the cart?

So why do we struggle? Why do we strive?
What does it mean to be fully alive? .
We really don't know, we really can't tell
If the life we're living here is heaven or hell

I am what I am." was the question's reply
Abraham in the wilderness wondering why
Wondering who? Wondering how?
I am, I was, and I will be, In the NOW.

A long time ago, under a tree
Buddha sat pondering eternity
Birth, life and death in a circle of light
Repeat and relearn till it all comes out right

Is it all random? Is it all chance?
Learning the tune and the steps to the dance
As is below, so is above
And if we're lucky we experience Love

I look at you. You look at me
Two fools dancing is all we can see
I reach for you. You take my hand
And for that brief instant, isn't life grand.
The Edict of William the Testy (A ballad of Olde New York)

Wilhelmus Kleft was Governor of Old New York they say,
back in the time when New York was Dutch,  back in the olden days.  
The people were vexatious, and were full of ills and gripes, and every
man would ruminate with a long tobacco pipe

Wilhelmus thought he saw a link between these two behaviors, The
fractious people puffing pipes surrounded by their vapors, So
Willhelmus  made a decree that sounded like a joke, That henceforth
in Neue Amsterdam, the people could not smoke.

You may have guessed that this decree caused ire and consternation
among the populace and folk regardless of their station,
the multitudes then gathered with tobacco box and pipe,
and set to smoking with great vigor, insurrection ripe.  

The had their ammunition in plenty on that day,
they puffed and fumed with plumes of smoke and would not go away.  
Wilhelmus told them to disperse with wrathful, righteous ardor..
The people sitting paid no heed and simply puffed the harder.

Wilhelmus said the crowd should cease their lawless fumigation
The crowd just sat and puffed and fumed in smoky indignation  
They raised up such a murky cloud while lolling in their seats
That Wilhelmus had to cede defeat and to his house retreat.

A long negotiation then ensued to end the confrontation
So both side could resume their tasks without the conflagration
Anthony the Trumpeter became the go-between
To find a way to bring an end to the smoky, pungent scene

At last a compromise was found between the two positions
from a total ban on the people's weed, and their cherished traditions
Tobacco could be smoked they said but of a different stripe
A short bowl was ok they said but not the long clay pipe.

The people then went home again to their houses and their dinners
The insurrection done for now both for saints and for the sinners
The Pipe Plot was now legend and passed on by many folk
Like many plots before it, this one ended up in smoke.

                                       John Haigis 5/5/14

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The Map is Not the Territory

The map is not the territory.
The word is not the thing.
Although they both may point the way
Neither one can sing.

As words may show a framework,
A map may show a route
But one must make the journey
A solo soul pursuit.

As scripture comes from God above
But through the hand of man
There may be several ways to view  
The meaning and the plan.

All of us are part of God
As God is part of us
But often times we disagree,
What part, and thus the fuss.

My words say “this” while yours say “that”
And so we have a fight
But God will have the final say
If either one is right.

          John Haigis, 8/23/14
The loss of a friend

How do we deal with the loss of a friend
When that friend ceases to be?
How do we deal with the emptiness left
With only the memory?

No longer the smile that could light up each day
No longer the touch of a hand
No longer the knowledge of someone who cares
Everything tasteless and bland

What is the sense of continuing on?
Trudging along day to day
Where is the joy that once shone so bright
Now everything’s so cold and gray?

The yearning for all the bad feelings to stop
The dark empty comfort of void
The sweet subtle promise of ceasing to be
When everything else is destroyed

But yet we don’t know what’s beyond that dear door
As Hamlet once said, “that’s the thing”
Ceasing to feel may not happen at all
The unknown may still have a sting

And so cowards all we keep stumbling on
Step by step pain and sorrow the way
May we find a gratitude for what we once had
And courage to face a new day

                          John Haigis 8/28/14
Old Buildings

Eyesore or treasure? With what shall we measure
The value of buildings we see every day?
Some buildings age gracefully, well pointed masonry
With legions of people to admire and to fix

While some are neglected, abandoned, dejected
A sad wounded call for a quick coup de grace
Roof gone the water pours, glass broken, missing doors
Awaiting the crumble to rubble and sticks

Time, water, and gravity, agents of entropy
Bedevil us all and the things we create
Seeking transcendence and signs of ascendance
Instead we find ruins and piles of old bricks

Sometimes outdated, old stories related
Of who we were once and the things we admired
Like Ozymandias , time levels all of us
And takes us away cross our own River Styx

So like us old buildings are born, grow, and die
Like us old buildings may fade
But those that remain tell their stories again
And remind us of currents that were once in the mix

But unlike us old buildings may continue and live
Unlike us they don’t have to die
Telling stories of craftsmanship, stories of skill
Stories of songs sung in brick.

                          John Haigis 8/28/14