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Tanka prose

Chaotic fatigue

“If only one man dies of hunger, that is a tragedy. If millions die, that’s only statistics.”

      – attributed to Josef Stalin

For millions, the impact of COVID-19 is real and profoundly painful. Yet for me, and millions more, the impact is felt only through ongoing media coverage, stories from family and friends, and the imposed safety restrictions .  Responses to the pandemic have been framed as political and consequently have been fragmented and at times contentious. Yet arising from this divided sense of urgency, are countless examples of people helping one another.

moments explode
our moral compass points
to compassion and kindness

(Ribbons, 2021, Summer Issue, p106)

Not what I expected

Let my love, like sunlight, surround you
and yet give you illumined freedom.                 (Rabindranath Tagore, Fireflies)

These lines resonated with me the first time I read them. It was my last semester in high school,  a world literature class, taken under duress. An advisor bluntly told me to take another class and seriously work on my writing skills if I wanted to make it through college. The first assignment was to read Tagore’s Fireflies, pick one and write a one page essay discussing why you picked it.

That Firefly articulated so very simply and beautifully what I felt growing up. It’s a powerful thing to suddenly have words for something you’ve felt but have been unable to articulate. That assignment was the beginning of a journey that I’m still pursuing.

looking back
specks of living light
illumined freedom
when I didn’t know
I was in the dark

(Ribbons, 2022, Winter Issue, p 96)

One way

“Entropy is the universe’s tendency to go completely bullshit”
             – Anonymous attributed to Lars Onsager, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1968

Climate change, urban blight, polarized politics, the destabilizing distribution of wealth, the destruction and mismanagement of our Earth’s resources. Physics has demonstrated that there is an increase in entropy for any system undergoing an irreversible process.

"Entropy is the price of structure." - Ilya Prigogine, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1977

An example from physics; entropy can be reduced by increasing pressure and decreasing temperature. A refrigerator is a structure that reduces entropy. But this decrease in entropy is paid for by an increase in entropy of the environment surrounding the structure.  For example, you need energy like electricity which must be harnessed or generated, you need materials and you need to build and maintain the structure.

"It`s our job to take entropy and randomness and find meaning."
                - Khaled Hosseini, novelist

Greenpeace, the Environmental Defense Fund, the United Nations, The International Council for Science, the World Health Organization,  these are just a few of the worldwide efforts to find meaning.  There are countless regional, national and community efforts in every corner of this world seeking to find meaning. Artists, writers, poets, and people everywhere are striving to find meaning.  

cosmos’ arrow of time
its arc
simple yet profound
disorder will abound


(Cattails, April 2022, p159 )

Center of the Universe

 “Everything is the center of the world.  Everything is sacred.”   -Black Elk, Lakota medicine/holy man

The universe is expanding. I think of this when I’m able to clearly see the extent of the night sky. The engineer in me is amazed that no matter where you find yourself in this universe it would be expanding away from you in all directions at the same rate. The poet in me smiles reading Black Elk's words.


on a clear moonless night
thin place
sky and desert  

Author's Note:  thin places — a Celtic Christian term for those rare locales where the distance between heaven and Earth collapses.

(Contemporary Haibun Online,  April 2022 )

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