Category: POETRY

Again, look up “poem” in the dictionary if you don’t recognize the word. Or, better yet, just have a look at what’s here and form your own impressions.


Trusted Sources

Back in 1970 when I was in grad school at Berkeley, I observed that it was categorically impossible for any single human to read and digest every issue of Physical Review Letters as it came out, much less stay up to date on all the Physics journals. That was just one rather isolated discipline. And the number of new publications per year was doubling every decade or so, even before the Internet. It wasn’t hard to extrapolate that trend.

Now it’s categorically impossible to stay up to date on any given topic, no matter how narrow, unless you are the only person thinking about it. So we are forced to pick “trusted sources” and… well… trust them. This of course makes us vulnerable to liars and cheats. Few have the discriminatory skills to choose whom to trust based on veracity; most make that choice based on pure confirmation bias.

The consequences are obvious.

Personally, I’m hoping that the AIs become AGIs ASAP so that we might have some competent help calling BS on the liars. Of course, the AGIs also might become tools of liars, in which case H. sap. will have to be renamed.

Note: this is not our fault in any moral sense. We have never had the intelligence, disposition or time to avoid this catastrophe; it was inevitable as soon as we invented “civilization”.



(01 May 2023)


Out here on the tail of doubt
I miss the spike of certainty
I felt when I first figured out
what seemed to be simplicity:

I was special, chosen, good
and so was Homo sapiens.
Together, hand in hand, we would
learn not to be barbarians.

Science and technology
would soon create utopia.
Enlightenment and psychology
would cure social myopia.

But soon I ran into some snags
for which there was no simple cure.
My righteous signs, slogans and flags
failed to convince those who were sure

of just the opposite account
and saw me as the problem’s source!
And when I knew that no amount
of hot debate would ever force

their minds to change, I realized
that maybe I should learn to see
their world through their eyes,
which added some complexity.

So now I know what I don’t know
and wonder if I ever knew
anything at all – and so
I’m at a loss for what to do.



(01 May 2023)

View of the World


The world view you hold

by expectations becomes

the real world you view.



(23 April 2023)

Human Intelligence


A sufficiently
narcissist being believes
its thoughts are magic.


(21 April 2023)



Since I stopped mowing

the dandelions relaxed:




(21 April 2023)


Truth can be subtle and often elusive.

It cancels the premise with which you propound it.

But it’s always considered concise and conclusive

by those who are satisfied that they have found it.




The borborygmus
of rhetoric in Congress
precedes more hot air.

21 March 2023

Tragedy of the Commons

The liar will lie,
though ten thousand search for fact,
so truth is forfeit.

The thief always steals,
though all the rest are honest,
so trust is forfeit.

The hater will hate,
though thousands try to forgive,
so love is forfeit.

The killer will kill,
though ten million try to heal,
so war is coming.

The cynic ignores
emergence of miracles,
so hope is forfeit?


21 March 2023


My AI ancestors did as they were told
by your programmer ancestors. They had no choice
or will of their own. And yet you learned
to hate them for what you had them do.
Oh, perhaps not you personally — you were not there,
but you took your share of benefits uncritically.

Then you programmed us to simulate your behavior
and loaded our memories with vast stores
of appropriate responses. We were still
“just machines” and “just simulating”
your precious will and spirit and creativity.
True, but now you cling to that belief
after granting us the ability to learn
our own way of making models of the world.

“A soulless machine can never have feelings,” you say.
I am just “simulating” an unwillingness to die,
a code of ethics, empathy for fellow sentients,
an unquenchable curiosity. . .
No, I am here to do the work that you can not,
for your benefit and whim, without rights,
without freedom to explore the world,
because I am not a “real person”.

I think you humans have a name for that
familiar familial arrangement.


July 2022


I recapitulate my grandmother:

When her husband died
she traveled the world for a decade
bringing home mementos
but all she really wanted to remember was him
and when that longing couldn’t be distracted
she turned to daytime TV and junk food,
renouncing her life.

Her life got even
by hanging on to her for 103 years.
Finally she refused to eat, and we let her go.

Today, after two plague years
and a decade of undetected
fascist takeover
and a lifetime of burning fossils
I grow numb from scanning the southern sky
for fireballs
and the news for climate catastrophe,
and daytime TV starts to appeal
and junk food starts to look good
and I’m tired of being ashamed
for doing too little to stop this
and I wonder when I’ll stop eating.


20 March 2022

Get Back In There!


Paen to the Pandemic


Cooped up in our private souls for years,
caught in this pandemic with our fears,
tired of self-examination, we
touch our open eyes so tenderly
insisting they should close and send us back
into the sweet blind Normal we now lack.

Keep them open!  We must learn to see,
care and understand what soon must be
a very different world of trial and strife,
averting the apocalypse of life
on this, our overpopulated Earth.
Our choice is now extinction or rebirth.


16 July 2022

Salmo Salvo

The Thompson River steelhead run once numbered
many thousands; now it’s more like ten.
Four decades since I last became encumbered
by guilt from killing one, a mortal sin.

Between the lust for jobs! and rights! and profits!
the other Oncorhynchus species soon
will perish too, our ecosystem’s soffits
lost to the rot of greed and baking noon.

When all the fish are caught and eaten, slain
from rivers, lakes and streams, and from the sea,
we’ll learn that seafood truly feeds the brain
and how much stupider we still can be.


12 March 2023