(3) Rules of Life (5/7)

“Hold fast, then, to this sound and wholesome rule of life-that you indulge the body only so far as is needful for good health.” Seneca

Before, Doug had been distracted
By the buzz of noise that he had difficulty hearing.
After, Doug was totally dialed in
The annoying ringing in his battle damaged ears
Replaced by crystal clear hearing.

He had missed the old stories from high school buds,
Their tales touching that whole Springsteen thing
About longing for the past’s tall tales.
Now Doug was acutely aware of the reality of aging,
His brothers in crime talking of coloring their hair,
Loving drone racing on ESPN, and
Going to the store to buy feminine hygiene products.

Doug sat with thoughts of luck,
Lucky to be alive,
Lucky to be with his friends,
Lucky to have his hearing back.
Then he thought with a gallows style of humor
That he was better off
When he couldn’t hear so well.
At least he could have just
Smiled and laughed
Without understanding how much his friends
Enjoyed romantic comedies.

(3) Active Rest (4/7)

“Hold fast, then, to this sound and wholesome rule of life-that you indulge the body only so far as is needful for good health.” Seneca

The guys gathered around Doug,
Each offering support.

“Come on, fella, you’re alright.”
“No worries, man, you haven’t been drinking.”
“Take your time, no rush.”

Strangely, Doug could hear them all
As if he had never had a bomb take sound away.

The noise was gone.
The words were distinguishable.
The women chatting were expressing concern for Doug’s safety.

He heard it all.
Something inside his head had been reset.

Unexplainable.
Impossible.
Deeply gratifying.

Doug smiled and thanked everyone for their support.
The night went on with his flummoxed look and Doug leaning into the table.

(3) Seeing Sound (3/7)

“Hold fast, then, to this sound and wholesome rule of life-that you indulge the body only so far as is needful for good health.” Seneca

Doug never heard the question
There was a ringing in his head that would not stop
He was flashing back to the ride
When the roadside bomb went off
Leaving him half able to hear.
Now that same ear was buzzing wildly.

The music went silent.
The women went silent.
The guys went silent.
Doug was left alone in the noise.
He looked to his mates,
They were staring at him knowing he was in trouble.

Finally, the buzz was too much for Doug.
He stood up to go outside and catch some air.
The chair slid back easily,
He rose with some unsteady,
Then the lights went out.
Doug fell to the floor.

(3) Getting To Know Each Other Again (2/7)

“Hold fast, then, to this sound and wholesome rule of life-that you indulge the body only so far as is needful for good health.” Seneca

They had been the best of friends in high school
Yet they went their separate ways after graduation.
Doug went to college and then enlisted.
He thought it his duty.

Rob stayed in town working odd jobs.
Milton went to college becoming an accountant.
Earl farmed and Bobby followed the company transfers
That led him from home to home all over the country.

They told their stories and laughed hard
At the ridiculousness of their adolescent ways.
For Doug, though, the night was a struggle
Since he couldn’t hear a word.

Not that the guys noticed,
Doug was great at picking up on the signals
When they smiled or laughed,
He smiled or laughed.

They didn’t know how frustrated he was with the coeds behind him
Who the guys thought were awesome, but
The young women were loud and prone to group talk
Where the all spoke at the same time, none listening to the others.

The roar of their conversations kept Doug further out of the loop.
The awful autotune, shallow lyric, fake country music was not helping.
Gradually, Doug felt like he was next to Niagara Falls,
He began to drift.

Doug just stared absently.
He quit faking it. He was checked out.
The others noticed.
“You all right, Doug?” asked Bobby.

Back Home

“Hold fast, then, to this sound and wholesome rule of life-that you indulge the body only so far as is needful for good health.” Seneca

Doug always sat with his left shoulder to the wall
It was the only way he could hear others
Since his hearing had been damaged in the war

Normally, Doug got to a restaurant early,
Which allowed him a choice seat,
But tonight, he got there too late.

They were all there, the high school crew
Reuniting in an old warehouse
Turned into a new brew pub.

The ceilings were high.
The bro-country music was cranked to fill the room.
Chatter took up the rest of the space.

There was a lot to catch up on,
This bunch had not been together
For nearly thirty years.

As if the reunion stress was not bad enough,
Doug worried that he would not be able to hear well.
“Here goes,” he thought.

(2) Whole (7/7)

“Find an independence where action becomes action that supports the whole action that includes everything and does everything that is needed.” (Presence, by C. Otto Scharmer, Peter M. Senge, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers)

Parts become the whole
Everything comes from something
Finding requires all

(2) Getting There (6/7)

“Find an independence where action becomes action that supports the whole action that includes everything and does everything that is needed.” (Presence, by C. Otto Scharmer, Peter M. Senge, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers)

Needles deliver
Receptors take all they can
Souls float absently
Solutions will be complex
Thinking must be inclusive

(2) Too Little Too Late (5/7)

“Find an independence where action becomes action that supports the whole action that includes everything and does everything that is needed.” (Presence, by C. Otto Scharmer, Peter M. Senge, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers)

Scripture escapes me,
I’ve read The Bible, the Tao, Buddhist teachings,
Each sticks with me in different ways,
Each leaves when the lesson loses it’s feeling

One thing seems true,
All speak of being decent to fellow man,
All implore personal responsibility
For whatever action must be dealt with

The Cathedral of Kensington needs our help
Perhaps the building has lost its significance, but
The people dying inside are not insignificant,
They need our help.

The vision of addiction is that of a personal problem
Those who see through elitist goggles are shortsighted.
Addiction does not just impact the addict’s life,
It sucks the soul from all of us.

The church can offer its blessing to those wasting away.
The media can expose the problems of those wasting away.
The police can lock up those wasting away.
The city can tear down or clean up the shooting galleries of those wasting away,

But the visions do not see all.
They are bandages ill-equipped to stave off the epidemic,
Unable to bring healing to the sick,
Unwilling to expose the problems existing in society.

Problems like the inequitable distribution of money,
The reliance of people on pill popping prophesies,
Fear-based models of governance, or
A general blind eye to compassion.

This cathedral is no longer such a place.
It’s a drug den. It’s a symbol of our failings as a society.
It’s a shell of a place that will probably be torn down,
Another fix that fails to address the whole problem.

(2) Urbex (4/7)

“Find an independence where action becomes action that supports the whole action that includes everything and does everything that is needed.” (Presence, by C. Otto Scharmer, Peter M. Senge, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers)

“Thou shalt surprise here from time to time,”
Better known as the marriage commandment
Caused a stir in Kensington
That brought a man and a parish
Way down below.

A man thought he would take some photos
Of his wife’s old church
So she could relive the memories of her youth
Of a place where she learned
The ways of salvation.

He saw something she could not have seen back then,
A different kind of salvation,
One where men and women received healing
Of the pain brought on by the cure
Rather than the spiritual care the building once possessed.

Gone was the Catholic order,
Pews were strung about,
Belief was about the next blast,
An intravenous communion
Uniting the blood of man with demon elixir, heroin.

The picture the man took developed into desperation.
He walked to a storefront doubling as a church.
The priest and nun running the shop
Followed him to the old place of salvation,
Ascension of Our Lord.

All the priest could do
Was bless these poor souls
Who found the comfort of the needle
To be enough even as they recognized
The sapping our their souls under the gun of their addiction.