Joe Glaser

Complexity
 

Lioness adopts a fawn
licks and protects it for days into weeks
until her odd love ends in dinner or desertion.

Is the praying mantis religious?
What does she feel when eating her mate
right after copulating - instead of having a smoke?

Competing instincts in living things
coexist and clash and confound us
as we strain our big brains
in search of bold insights

I watch in dismay as a live turtle is cooked for lunch
and served up with a $2,000 bottle of wine
at a proud Shanghai restaurant.

As a sensitive animal lover
I am disgusted by such casual culinary cruelty,
and yet I relish aged steaks and tender young lamb chops.

In myth and art the god Saturn ate his children,
and I ponder how higher instincts can reduce to love, hate, yum.

Even at peace in my hi-tech haven,
eyes casually surfing old TVs and new computers,
I can feel my mind inexorably drawn to scenes of violence.

And once again I crash into the complexity of the human condition.

            
© Joe Glaser, Dec 2009, rev. 2012, 2016

 

Japanese Garden Rumination
 

There’s something about the Japanese,
    forever striving for beauty
    and perfection.
Stretching minds beyond the natural.

They carefully prune and primp and prop a tree,
    supporting its exploring arms
    across generations.
Taking years, decades, centuries even.

Coaxing limbs in new directions,
    growing surreal shapes
    of gremlins dancing.
In a fantasy of strange contortions.

We wonder at a tree transcendent,
    unbound from self,
    imbued with art.
Evoking old dreams and new reflections.

And we must struggle to remember that this magic is created
    by the same people who fought us
    in wide deep war.
With ferocity that knew few bounds.

These engaging people so perfectly polite to visitors,
    thoughtful and friendly and helpful
    beyond expectations.
Now picnicking peacefully under cascades of cherry blossoms.

And lovingly preserved at the Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots
    hang winsome portraits of brave young men
    with their poetic letters.
Sensitively bidding family a last farewell.


© Joe Glaser, April 2008

Published in 2008/9 Vol. 17 of “The Journal” of Northwestern University’s OLLI program.