Thursday, February 20, 2014


About half-past February every year
I turn and I say to Winter-
Great to have seen you again.
Let’s do it again sometime.
But- how can I miss you if you won’t go away?

Winter never takes the hint.
Winter is not a self-critical season.
That would be Autumn.
Autumn, under her splendid, exuberant facade,
always seems uncertain and apologetic-
“I’m sorry the leaves aren’t as bright this year,” she’ll say.
“My mornings are a little too cold, aren’t they?
I wish I was more like Spring.
Everybody likes Spring best.”

Did you ever notice that those
who really -don’t- need to engage in
that sort of critical self-reflection,
are the ones who do it the most?

I spent an entire morning last week
gently reminding a dear friend
that she is an inspirational activist,
has a loving husband and children,
and has the respect and admiration
of all her professional colleagues-
And she wept gently into her coffee
and listed to me all the reason she is a failure.

On the other hand,
 why is it that the folks most -urgently- in need
of some really objective self-analysis,
sail merrily on, completely sure of themselves?

I spent an evening last month
drinking beer and shooting pool
with three childhood chums
whose grandparents came here from Ireland, Italy and Germany.
They spent the night loudly explaining
That the thing that is ruining this country-
    ...is too many damned immigrants.

Betrand Russell said-
“The fundamental cause of the trouble
is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure
while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

That’s really a wonderful word, isn’t it?
It’s so -perfectly- descriptive.

“I may not have some fancy degree in climate science”,
one friend complains to me,
“but I know what the temperature is.
Global warming, my ass-
Four months ago it was fifteen fucking degrees outside.
Those scientists don’t know what they’re talking about.”

“I’ve never really accomplished anything,”
my other friend sighs,
“I feel like my career and house
 and awards are all a fraud.
Some morning I’ll wake up and it will all be gone,
and that’s ok.
I didn’t deserve any of it anyway”.

Winter blusters and blows,
and it’s easy enough to tell him-
Take it easy, man, you’re not “all that”.
Winter doesn’t take offense.
Winter’s not listening.

Spring will be all right-
Spring has that sweet self-confidence
which is just enough
and not too much.
Spring knows what she is and what she isn’t,
and she’s o.k. with that.

But I worry about Autumn.
I wish Autumn liked herself a little bit more.
I remember the last time I saw Autumn,
one sad night in Minneapolis.
The cold, judgmental moon threw her shadow
onto the river far below us,
as she gazed sadly over the railing
of the 8th Avenue bridge-
Her reflection falling... falling... falling...