Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mind Your Head 

In April 2009 I posted an essay titled "Defective", along with a poem titled "naked in the sand". Both were my reactions to daily headlines describing various mass shootings and killings that were being regularly reported by the media.  I questioned then if the altruistic philosophy of Chinese philosopher Mencius was valid, or whether his contemporary, Confucian philosopher Xun Zi was correct in believing that man was inherently evil.  

I sided with Mencius. Barely. 

Again, this week, we're told of rampant criminality taking place in Haiti following a devastating series of earthquakes, and yet another mass shooting in a quiet Virginia community.  These, just two of many other incidents reported over the past several months. 

Below is another poem I wrote in 2007 that questions our supposed altruistic nature.  How many more years, centuries or lifetimes will man"kind" live before we completely loose our heads and destroy ourselves? 



holding tempers 
behind smiles: 

anger seeks 
burning revenge. 

(the desire to kill 
so human a trait) 

so, how do we 
keep it at bay, 

Poem © 2007 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2005 by R. Burnett Baker.  
Photo taken by R. Baker in Hong Kong, 2005. 


lives apart - 
days into weeks -  
distance stretched 
across hearts. 

faces fade 
to dusk, 

a time  
memories glow 

Poem © 2007 by R. Burnett Baker 
Abstract photo © 2009 by R. Burnett Baker 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

minds bleeding

we walked away
from every smile,
nightfall a tear 
on darkened faces.

distance killed us,
stalking, grabbing,
suffocating dreams
with hearts beating,
and minds bleeding;

over my shoulder
shadows on the

Poem © 2006 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Self portrait by R. Baker, 2010.

Friday, January 1, 2010

...This Year and Last

The older I get the less I understand the New Year's holiday.

I understand it as a reason for people to party and get trashed.  It give us a framework for organizing our time.  It gives the IRS structure for digging into our pockets.  But it's the effort and emotion we attach to it that makes me wonder what it's all about.  

The Earth turns as always, and the sun rises and sets like it did the day (year) before.  The troubles we were working on yesterday (last year) are still there for our attention.  Bills still must be paid.  Wars will continue to be fought.  The media all talked about how a decade ended and a new one began.  It didn't occur to me that a decade had already been spent.  How old are we all, anyway?  Well, my back and knees are still hurting, so what really changed?

We awaken with a new numbered year and marvel at how far we came and how quickly it all went by.  But when I looked out my window this morning, snow was falling and painting the landscape white just like yesterday. It was quiet in the neighborhood.  And cold.  It's still winter, this year and last.  

So today, the first of the new year, everyone is offering Happy New Year greetings and nursing the hangovers of the previous year, and of last night.  

Perhaps that is the meaning.  Perhaps the New Year's holiday is its own reward.  We'll do it all again next year. 

Rick B. Baker 
Rochester, NY 
January 1, 2010

© 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
turned the year

and so 
turned the 

yet what,
has changed

as snow falls 
quietly through

Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2008 by R. Burnett Baker
Photo taken by R. Baker in Highland Park, Rochester, NY, 2008.