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Writing All Over the World's Wall
by Alan Harris

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Needlework (Pokes and Turns of Thought)

Pieces of Eight

Frequently Asked Questions About Christmas

1995 Poems

Forgotten Flowers


Pokes and Turns of Thought

Needlework from Rae Jenkins

Mankind's three deepest imponderables are infinity, eternity, and stupidity.

A good friendship, like a good river, comes back together after hitting a rock.

Even when things are all in place, they're very close to being out of place.

Most of us know someone whose purity of soul smells a bit like bleach.

Richest blessings move slowly because so much moves.

As for best-laid plans, mice do much better.

What could be sweeter than success, or briefer?

A teardrop is a liqueur to the future.

Quantitative psychology sticks its pins through living butterflies.

Retail marketing is the last frontier of nonsense.

Picture your worst fear. Now don't. Feel better?

Friends have love without vows, faithfulness without reason.

Who deserves to beg? At some time, everybody.

Ride in your car; ride in a mystery.

Insurance companies and doctors agree on one thing: nothing.

The kindness of a kind teacher is the kindest kindness of all.

Scientists have discovered few forms of life that behave more predictably
than a manager on the way up.

When the chariot swings low for my soul, slip the horses some extra oats, okay?

Our commencement speaker revealed at length his firm grasp of the obvious.

Every new human being is an impossibility become inevitable.

Diet-conscious cannibals may eat only vegetarians.

Few besides Realtors love a snob.

In an emotional universe, kisses are the gravity.

Rumors are disagreeable to many; but then, so is the truth.

Anything you can get away with, you can't.

Christmas and a minimum universe both require a star and some generosity.

Friendships with others bring us heaven before heaven.

Brilliance needs words; character, pauses.

Fame is a sea that washes up new names like foam onto beaches.

Morning Prayer

Now I wake me up from bed;
I thank the Lord I'm still not dead.
The Lord declined my soul to take
for reasons which remain opaque.

Consensus usually belongs to the first one who dares to ahem and summarize.

"Employees Must Wash Hands" posted in the restroom translates to
"Dine Elsewhere" even if no cockroaches are currently visible.

Need we be terribly surprised at the shortcomings of a world
that is substantially run by the personalities who dominate meetings?

Today remains our only hope for tomorrow's yesterday.

Nothing deepens character like a firmly balanced dilemma.

The corn husk will never understand the corn.

Hint to Bottom-Line CEO's

Reducing employees to digits
may cause a cessation of widgets.

To find order in chaos, stop looking there.

Everybody is said to be unique, but most people are unique in about the same way.

Even as a bud, given water, becomes a flower,
the office sycophant, given power, will become an autocrat.

For chest cold recovery, we must learn to always expectorate the unexpectorated.

Leave the past behind you, but if part of it gets back in front of you, ask it why.

In truest love, giving and taking become moot.

The teeth of adversity grow directly behind the smile of fortune.

A local church begins as a fire in people's hearts,
and sometimes ends as a structure whose windows no one wants to wash.

For TV addicts, death may cause minor personality changes.

He deceived her in ways which made her feel so loved.

A newborn's first thought: "Now what?"

Adolph Hitler was reputedly the Dictatorian of his high school graduating class.

It is better to have tried and failed than never to have failed at all.

After a motivational seminar I feel like new frosting on an old cake.

During college his deepest thought never got down as far as his knees.

Morning Glory Manager

He smiled his way to power,
enjoyed his sunny hour,
then made some big boys frown
and smiled his way back down.

A politician walked up to the Pearly Gates, shook St. Peter's hand vigorously,
and announced, "God has my full support."

If you would hear the song of the infinite, listen quietly through the ends of your toes.

He carefully hid his feeling of superiority behind a smug expression.

All of life is a near-death experience.

Choose bravely; learn deeply.

Tears are from the soul wetting its pants.

Every day is more evidence of forever.

Motherhood is hereditary. If you never had a mother,
chances are your children won't have one either.

After all I've been through, hell should be a breeze.

Dogs offer you humility, while cats invite it.

A shelf in need is a floor indeed.

Exits from the freeway of truth begin at a small angle.

Walk where your feet are.

The hell you feel is the one that's real.

Why can't we not worry by not wanting to worry?

Reality is what's left to us after all of our failures to find it.

Hell provides a room
for people who assume,
which gets some ventilation,
but my, what a population!

Kind acts never die,
and what is kind in yourself
was waiting for you.

His dark blue suit had yes written all over it.

It's easy to be critical, but it's even easier to be bureaucratic,
which is why bureaucracy is always ahead of its critics.

The caskets of beggars and vice presidents close with the same snap.

Hell is an archive of souls too interesting for heaven.

Technology offers a profusion of easier ways to live a life we don't understand.

If God had forbidden the snake too, would Adam and Eve have eaten it for dessert?

In his climb up the corporate ladder he was able to overcome all vestiges of past humility.

Senile? Not me. I can't remember the last time I forgot something.

A lottery consists of a few million poor fools chipping in to create a rich one.

God hells those who hell themselves.

Infinity is the quickest shortcut to the unknown.

People you have to interrupt so they can see your side, won't.

Nice days are more made than had.

I have my life well under control except for:

how much I eat,
how much I sleep,
what I say
what I do.

You know you're getting old when you notice that
your first name is being given to babies again.

Pessimist: looks both ways before crossing a one-way street.
Corpse: didn't.

Is this a user-friendly universe?

Computers won't ever become minds until they can cry--and mean it.

Creativity leads to crisis, which leads to creativity.

American work ethic: busy is good, frantic is excellent, and burnt-out is sublime.

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Needlework from Rae Jenkins

Pieces of Eight

The numbered lists which follow all consist of 8-word sentences.

8 x 20

  1. If life isn't eternal, who cares what is?

  2. Everybody's a town of one with no mayor.

  3. For long life, inhale each time you exhale.

  4. The tongue inside the brain speaks awfully bravely.

  5. A grandmother's love could light a large city.

  6. Looking within, one sees little, and grows humbler.

  7. Each person is a jewel polished by trouble.

  8. Consequences teach what parents and teachers failed to.

  9. Good people die, and good people let them.

  10. Ideas, when nameable, are ready for the textbooks.

  11. The server and the served become mutually obligated.

  12. Moods enter children like breezes through open windows.

  13. One person lies, two people conspire, three incorporate.

  14. Fancy dinners taste somewhat of the hostess's ego.

  15. Earth life is a carnival for the soul.

  16. Without roses, thorns would be out of business.

  17. We develop a fondness for people we help.

  18. A baby's future lies in its parents' past.

  19. Ignoring people's promises doubles pleasure when they're kept.

  20. A library contains millions of pages of maybe.
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13 Signs of Bad Luck

It is bad luck if:
  1. A pit bull doesn't finish crossing your path.

  2. Your psychiatrist falls asleep while you're talking.

  3. You discover your broker has renounced monetary gain.

  4. You receive a registered letter from your spouse.

  5. Your dentist starts to plan a world tour.

  6. Our President broadcasts a plea to remain calm.

  7. Your doctor starts wanting you to pay ahead.

  8. Your PC screeches when you turn it on.

  9. Inside the company elevator you begin to float.

  10. Your boss begins, "You've been a good employee. . . ."

  11. Your flight attendant has strapped on a parachute.

  12. The neighbor boy always talks about making fires.

  13. Your surgeon has a Band-Aid on his finger.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Christmas

Q: If Santa doesn't have to age, then why has he become old?
A: He only appears to be old. He's an undercover kid.

Q: How can a sleigh possibly fly through the air?
A: If you were being pulled by eight flying reindeer, wouldn't you fly too?

Q: Why do we wish people a "Merry Christmas" instead of a "Happy Christmas"?
A: The two are about the same, but with "Merry Christmas" an extra twinkle is seen in the eyes.

Q: Why is a Christmas tree that has been chopped down called a "live Christmas tree"?
A: It's dead but doesn't know it, and yet it's having the time of its life.

Q: Why do we wrap our Christmas gifts with paper?
A: Because we like to see surprise and joy (real or kindly faked) in the recipients.

Q: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
A: Nowadays only four angels can dance there. Formerly there was no limit, but OSHA passed the Angel Safety Law recently, which also requires that the pin must be inspected twice each year for structural defects.

Q: How many gifts can Santa Claus's bag hold?
A: One less than infinity. Why one less? Because there's a limit to everything.

Q: How could a star that is high in the sky lead the Wise Men to a tiny manger on the ground?
A: Wisely, toward the end of their journey they asked directions from someone on the road. Had they not been so wise, they might have missed the manger by several hundred miles. (That person on the road has never been identified.)

Q: Is there really a Mrs. Santa Claus?
A: The best way to know for sure is to ask Santa Claus next time you see him.

Q: Why do we hear so many bells at Christmas time?
A: Because so many people ring them.

Q: Why do so many people ring bells at Christmas time?
A: For the poor, for the joy, and because a bell can say what words can't say.

Q: What can't words say?
A: The moment you wake up on Christmas morning, listen carefully. You may hear then what words can't say.

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Above FAQ is included in the Christmas Reflections PDF book
Holiday poems to print for gifts or for keeps
Free PDF Download - 2.0 MB, 18 pages
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1995 Poems

Poetry Poem

Awfully many poems these days
seem chains of syntactical screams
with metaphors careening on two wheels
and coy diction that raises its hand
and says "I said that!"

Some poems are easily read like
the smile of a friend you are visiting
who sits you down on a clean couch
with a peanut butter cookie and
makes you feel warm inside
with talk and apple cider.

Darker poems
can insinuate
somewhere below
your belt with
startling obscurity
or grab greasily
at your possibilities.

Kinds and kinds of poems
spring to being
like sparks from a grindstone
that sharpens inner tools.

Poets tell lies that are
deeper than truth,
and refuse to quit writing
all over the world's wall.

How is a poem written?
Find one inside
and watch.

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To a Guest Reading by Paul Meier

Nothing but a precise
second hand is moving within
the solitary stillness of this house.
I convalesce and convalesce while
reading the daily wallpaper.

Knickknacks cling tightly
to their positions, dumbly
flaunting their faded novelty
close to books of past power
that slump on their shelves
like half-fallen dominoes.

Fatigued by the familiar and
glued down by gravity,
I lie back, later sit up,
then move about,
then sit again,
a restless captive of
fever and furnishings.

Every other person
in the world just now is
elsewhere and occupied.
Have I secretly died?
"Snap," replies the
house, settling.

I lie back down close to my
accurate quartz-driven clock
whose second hand counts out
sixty clockwise clicks and
on and on until
the wallpaper blurs
and nothing occurs.

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Bunga Rucka

Photographic Version
Audio Performance with Percussion
We are murmurs we know nothing
Bunga Rucka Bunga Rucka
We live down above exactness
Nothing say we nothing say we

Here between betweens we listen
Bunga Rucka Bunga Rucka
Nothing here no nothing here
Below the Bunga Rucka line

No speaking here no words not one
No thinking down in under here
More underneath than want or wish
Where where is never when is nowhere

Happy laughter high and deep goes
Snortle chortle yukka yukka
Sweet it sounds above our silent
Seepings in and in and in where

Bunga Rucka know no knowledge
Bunga Rucka love all loving
Bunga Rucka shine all darkness
Bunga Rucka shout all silence

Bunga Rucka Bunga Rucka
Feel us in you Bunga Rucka
Feel you in us Bunga Rucka
Bunga Rucka Bunga Rucka

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Colorado Joining, 1995

Jim & Annette Campbell
Greg & Lois Harris
Art & Jeanette Mark
Ralph & Jeanne Wiley
Alan & Linda Harris

Five couples,
each married within a love
they cannot explain--

Five couples,
amply tested by fear and the unexpected--

Five couples,
totaling more than 500 years
on this sweet, dangerous earth--

Five couples,
homes scattered across the map
like peppers across a pizza--

Five couples
congregated for a week in the same house
like ten peas in a pod--

Five couples
who know the grieving and groaning of loss--

Five couples
who know the ecstasy of tearful laughing--

Five couples
discovering their unknown way
as they walk together
in grace and joy and love.

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Forgotten Flowers

Through an oversight the following poems escaped compilation in previous books, and were discovered in the back of a lower file drawer. Making a late debut below are A Wiggy Sopsty, written in 1988, and seven other poems written in 1991-92.

Homeglow after Visitors

To a Reading by Alan Harris

Two couches
smile in dim light
over the active
weights they
recently bore.

Spots on the wallpaper
remember certain
apt verbs.

Ceiling regions
glow with laughings
over sudden quips.

have now slipped out
through the windows
to germinate or vanish
in the sod outdoors.

Are the smiles,
the glows,
the illuminations
that haunt our home
still stirring within
our sometime

A spring inside
the older couch

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Napping in the Flavors

I slid downhill
into my Sunday nap,
and there I was again,
swimming in an aromatic
alphabet soup where all words
ran together into a flavor.

If only poets could
somehow write
in immediate flavors,
bypassing all
those gangly,
awkward letters
spelling out unsavored,
predigested words--
then what a banquet
people might enjoy.

But no, the poets
have to keep on writing
precious words about
their bloodstained sunsets,
their gold leaf autumns,
their salty pepper,
and I have no idea
what other absurdities,
just to jolt
the taste buds
on our jaded tongues
away from neutral.

So anyway, my nap--
I'm now awake,
but have no splendid poems
to bring back from my bliss.
The soup there,
by the way,
was delicious.

Make your own.

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Keeping Here

I wake to morning's
window-filtered sounds
and hear a
cardinal outside
my bedroom,
daring to fill
the early air with a
questioning refrain:

"Where's here?
       Where's here?
              Where's here?"

An idea flashes brainward
out of recent sleep as,
having risen from my bed,
I stand within
a splash of sunlight
on the carpet--
an idea taking on words:
"How you feel
is from what you do.
To feel differently,
do differently.
Start here."

I stand still in the light.
"What changes shall I make?" I ask
whoever's listening,
outdoors or innerly.

The same cardinal,
guru-like atop
the neighbor's
television tower,
gives simple counsel
three times again:

"Keep here.
       Keep here.
              Keep here."

but on the farm
when I was young
I used to shoot
with my BB gun.

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Looking Forward

Long after I have laughed my last,
corn husks will still flap and cackle yearly
in the frosty wind.
Hopeful farmers will plant and reap
and worry through every weather.

Statuesque cows will still moo and moan
their mantras low like tubas in metal sheds
incensed with daily hay.

In select suburbs far from farms,
ladies with airs will continue tinting
and teasing their failing hair
or flashing acquired fashionabilities
into their lighted full-length mirrors--
ladies who will still ache at night
for a gleaming knight
between snorings
of their well-off wimp.

By then I will have poked
this life's reapings and hopings
up through my cranial chimney
and passed beyond breath.
With no nose to interfere,
coffee may smell richer.
Free of fumbling fingers,
I may play Bach heaven-like
on an unmolecular piano.

Then, by and by and by,
in my next soulbeat,
I could emerge again
from a provided womb,
suck into baby lungs
a deep inspiration,
and cry within my new hell
for a heaven of love and milk.

I'm wondering now if,
rather than burden my brain
with all of this forward thought,
I need to read a good mystery.

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A Wiggy Sopsty

To a Reading by Alan Harris

I falt a wiggy sopsty
and clev a vagger gand;
no swegler fad a seggy
nor vindo sendy mand.

When jigmer salgo vardy
was tiggy varomund,
then cladry falgarondo
with pleggy fabripund.

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Tree Choirs

To a Reading by Alan Harris

High twigs in the trees--
do they croon nocturnal chords
to you out of a winter-spring wind?
Chords not merely for ears, perhaps,
but chords filling human with being?

Seasonally smitten with tingly new sap,
each leeward-leaning trunk
resigns helpless branches to the air,
eerie groans waxing and waning
as from a deep unknown
just behind where you live.

How do you feel?
Try setting aside your daily newspaper
and turning into nothing but ears
to follow these pining strains.
How far inside of you go those moans?
Have they turned you inside out yet?

Then listen all night, all night, all night.
Listen all night,
and waken.

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Back of our house
a lovable stray pooch,
young and off-white
with random black
Mendelian punctuation,
darts about and sniffs grassy clumps
until, eyeing a soggy tennis ball
wedged under the neighbor's fence,
she plucks it up in her teeth
and prances puppylike for attention
as if mankind needs to please play ball
(has she romped with children
before being dumped out of
their father's midnight-slinking car?),
seeming ignorant or heedless
that ball is not played
where she is going to go--
by way of famishing jaunts
through shrubby neighborhoods,
altercations with kept cats
and with collared mutts,
a trusting ride
in the dogcatcher's van,
and a meager feast or two
before the period
at the end
of her

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An Old Man's Fancy

Stepping through the front door
into vernal flowerings,
I sense a breeze of early manhood
through my body-window.

There was family then,
so much family
that we almost didn't
want that much--
now just you and I
and an occasional kiss.

There were trembling bushes
and thrilling winds.
Internal landscapes
tumbled over each other,
vying for supremacy
with surging colors.

What landscape now?
Same one as then,
only someone drained
the colors out of it.

Now, living is sensible,
good, right.
Then, it was exploding
with overfelt feelings.

Young men march
to any drummer they hear,
while old men smile
and tap on the table.

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The Wheel of Yes (1995)
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