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The Thinking Poet - Napoleon 


Napoleon crossed the Nieper
And claimed innocence.
He took city after Russian city,
Protesting that Alexander started it all.
His gargantuan need to be right,
To be unanswered, unopposed,
Placed his picture in the hall of shame
Where dictators, despots, and petty bullies
Strut their short, fat egos,
Too deluded to fathom the great contempt 
They have earned in the tomes of history,
Still believing the fundamental lie
They told the world and themselves,
That they are great and must be so
In order to be of any human worth whatsoever.
He reappears from time to time
Throughout the pages of humanity
To remind us all of the virus inside
Which, given too much power,
Like water germinating an evil seed,
Can turn any one of us
Into a monstrous, murderous wretch.
We, the armies of Russia, must drive him back 
Again and again, vigilant and humble,
For the battle on the western steppe 
Also rages inside us.

1. What do you have to do to prove your worth? How does that urge affect others?
2. Like Napoleon, what urge to power lurks inside you, and what does it take to bring it to life? 
3. How do you fight against that “evil seed”? What causes you to win or lose that fight?

The Thinking Poet - Amoebas 


I am weary of the locker room talk
About our team, exceptional, exclusive,
The tight knit tribe of fortunates,
Blessed be us, chosen by us
To be the chosen by us,
Assumed by us to be well and good,
Fellows of the club,
Set apart from the others
Who by every detail of their outsiderness
Have declared themselves worthy
Of the deprivation they must certainly know
Because they are not endowed with the special knowledge,
The special experience, the unique defining beliefs
That prove they are not us,
And we, the called, the exceptional,
Are, from the beginning and to the end,
Simply the better, the deserving, the endowed.
I am weary of the confines of this
Tiny, tiny box in which amoebas
Congratulate themselves above all creation.

1. What exclusive group(s) are you a part of, and how do your groups keep others out?

2. What are the benefits for you of being part of an exclusive group? 

3. Who are the outsiders to your group? What would happen, if you included some outsiders? 

The Thinking Poet - End Of This Round 

End Of This Round

We were making the normal plans,
Doing the normal things
Until a tornado tore through,
Companioned by DeRecho,
His destructive, straight-line little brother,
Only a foreshadowing of the
Millions of illnesses,
Hundreds of thousands of deaths,
Fools who will believe any lie,
Liars who will say anything to fools,
Believers bound to self at others' expense,
Murderers masquerading as public servants,
Righteous protests co-opted into violence,
Excusing the cavalier callousness of the unconcerned,
Torn muscles slowly recovering -- I think,
Hearing again, and again, and again
That you are an abuser, nothing more,
Students gasping for the air of learning
And small businesses asphyxiating
In the oxygen-starved virtual desert,
An election compromised by proofless claims
From the Sycophant Party who would 
Run the whole damned ship aground,
Rather than legally yield the helm,
A dark religion built around the American father of lies,
An ailing father-in-law falling toward, but not quite reaching his end,
His daughter's teeth torn away for her own good,
And finally, just when you thought
It was safe to stay home for Christmas,
One more crazy, narcissistic bastard
Burns down other peoples' dreams
For his own twisted glory.
But in the smoking hellscape 
There were people pulling together,
Cutting trees from houses,
Heroic warriors in scrubs,
Compassionate mask-wearers,
Staying home to protect the vulnerable,
Praying saints gathering at a safe distance,
A loan, turned grant to pull us through,
An old friendship revived,
A muse awakened, speaking out
Through wooden bowls, audienceless songs, 
Thanksgiving recordings for Christmas family,
Living loved ones, untouchable, but safe,
An old man's repentant review of his own life,
Promises of hope from a new needle,
A new set of teeth,
A new pair of hiking shoes,
A family and friends still loving 
Through screens and ear buds,
A Savior still in the manger,
Graduations, new jobs, new ideas, 
And new worlds to imagine
As the spin of seasons
Passes Go, collects $200,
And rolls once again in The Game of Life.

1. How do you review your life at the end of each year? What would it take to do that?
2. When a year is difficult for you, do you reflect on it anyway and try to learn, or do you try to get away from it because it is too painful? What results, positive or negative, come from that?
3. After reflecting on the previous year, what hopes do you have for the coming year, and what can you do to bring them to life?

The Thinking Poet - Dust To Dust 

Dust To Dust

I like to have a little sawdust on me 
To remind me who I am,
Since I came from dust long ago,
Further back than my cells can remember,
Back before they could tell the difference 
Between their own kind 
And the other kind 
And the Other 
That they may or may not have perceived,
When trees were shelter and shade, 
Clothing and food, 
Warmth and seasoning, 
Weaponry and tools,
Long before they bowed before us 
As product to developer 
Or nuisance to improver-of-lands, 
Lands that were as perfect 
As one can imagine 
Before the vain attempt.
I mingle my own dust 
With the dust of trees 
In the hope that I might join our lives
And make something, 
A marriage of species
That bears a wooden child 
With a soul like mine.

1.Do you feel a sense of estrangement between yourself and the natural world? If so, what causes that? If not, how have you escaped it?
2.Do you feel connected or separate from your ancestors who lived off the land? 
3.If you create art or craft, how do you put your soul into the inanimate object of your art?

The Thinking Poet - By The Condo 

By The Condo

I drove by the condo 
Where we lived when you were born.
The trees we planted in the back
Are still there, unrecognizably tall.
But you aren't there.
The west wind still whispers
Its lullaby in the eves,
Just as it did when I was
Singing you to sleep.
But you aren't there.
The train came by,
The one I would scoop you up
In my arms and run to watch
As it squealed through the crossing.
But you aren't there.
The park across the street still beckons,
Bare branches reaching 
Through the December chill
With the enticement
Of swings and trails.
But you aren't there.
Fathers long for their boys
Like a part of their own bodies
Has been taken away,
A wound that draws together,
But never truly heals.
I drive away from the sweet pain of memory
And I find myself saying that,
If you were really gone,
I would be wrecked.

1. Who do you feel this way about? How would you describe your feelings? Do they know you feel that way?
2. Have you had the experience of going to a place you used to live, only to find that the life you had there is gone? Describe your experience.
3. What wound do you have that “draws together/But never heals”? What would bring healing?

The Thinking Poet - Still A Tightness 

Still A Tightness

Tightness still grips my abdomen
Just below my diaphragm,
A knot that has been gradually loosening
Over the past half hour, since we spoke last.
I have heard your footsteps several times
And felt the tension increase each time,
Not to the point of pain or nausea,
But to a rigidity that is ready,
Ready for something dangerous,
Something I have endured before
And would rather not endure again.
I will be okay, I tell myself,
But I am not yet OK,
Still thinking rapid thoughts
In the panic of readiness,
Still trying to figure out what has happened
And what will happen.
I will be OK, I tell myself,
Because there is no one else to tell,
But I am not OK yet.
I breathe in, 
As if I haven't breathed in too long,
And I probably haven't.
The tension is softening into sadness,
And I hear the rain, also soft,
Falling on the ground outside.

1. Does this remind you of any experience of your own?
2. Describe a conflict with someone and the feelings it generated in you.
3. Is there a point when the tension softens into sadness? What do you do then?

The Thinking Poet - No Urgency 

No Urgency

There is no urgency now.
Afternoon has dimmed into evening,
Branches fading into the gray cloud backdrop.
Lights come on as I sit in the dark,
Glancing lazily out the window,
From time to time wondering,
Isn't there something I must do?
Only to answer, No. 
Nothing is required.
A rest, a nap, a game, a thought,
Another glance out at the undemanding night
As it falls into sleep.

1. When and how often do you feel the lack of urgency?
2. In those moments when you are not required to do anything, what do you do?
3. Is the lack of urgency restorative, peaceful, empty, frightening, or some other thing to you? 

The Thinking Poet - On The Highway 


On The Highway

On the highway outside my window
Trucks crash their hollow shells,
Drums of commerce, 
Beating a cadence I could never follow.
Cars swish by, ride cymbals
Counting in slow 12/13 time,
Awaiting the entrance of the soloist,
The testosterone-stoned saxophone
Of a motorcyclist
As he plunges headlong into the night
Which he will never outrun,
The silent dark that overtakes us all.

1.Do you ever listen to the sounds around you? Of what do they remind you? What does that tell you about yourself?
2.What do you do to outrun death, or if not death, fear? Does it work?

The Thinking Poet - The Moon Has Risen 


The Moon Has Risen

The moon has risen above my window top,

Though it was shining in two hours ago

As you and I spoke from a telephone distance,

Locked away from one another for our own good,

And for the good of others in this masked age.

We tell the trivial, the true language of love over time,

Talking about nothings that fill the blanks between us.

I can't remember a thing we said,

Now that the moon has taken her perch above the hackberry tree,

Though it was as important as anything ever said by anyone

Because the saying of it said, by implication,

That even as the machinery of earth and moon and time creep on,

You and I are connected -- in time and beyond time.



1. To whom can you converse about nothing?

2. How do you bridge the gaps between you and others?

3. What assures you that you are connected with someone?

The Thinking Poet - Winters 


The Thinking Poet blog includes a poem along with a few though-provoking questions.  You can use it to ponder, journal, discuss, and/or comment in response.  And if you want to, you can purchase Jim's book, Solstice To Solstice - A Memoir In Verse



Winter, according to the calendar, 

Begins at the solstice, 

When days are short, 

And nights long, 

But anyone who has left the house 

With too light a wrap 

Knows otherwise. 

I walk bravely today, 

Facing a cold, wet wind, 

Hands stuffed into pockets, 

Hood pulled down 

Over my forehead, 

And I feel winter's cold fingers 

Along my neck and shoulders and thighs. 

No sleigh-ride jingle 

Cures this kind of winter. 

It carries no festival lights 

Or yule log warmth. 

This is the season that gets in 

Under your coat to remind you 

That her sister, death, 

Is coming for you sooner than you think 

With icicle talons to hold you under 

Until the summer that thaws all things. 



  1. What reminds you of your mortality? What feelings come with that? 
  2. What would you leave undone, if death came today? 
  3. In your worldview, is there a “summer that thaws all things”? How does that affect your thoughts and feelings about your life? 


"Winters" is reprinted from Jim Weber's Solstice To Solstice - A Memoir In Verse.

What's A Solstice? 

A solstice is when either the day or night is at its longest.

For me personally that happens on those nights when I can't sleep because my brain hasn't gotten the message to shut up already.  This happens about four times a year.  It also happens on those days when I'm passing a kidney stone and it hurts like crazy for a long, long time. That has only happened three times in my whole life, for which I am grateful, though zero would have been better.

But for the whole planet together, the solstice only happens twice a year, once in December when the night is as long as night can get and once in June when the day gets as long as day can get. Its like they have an ongoing ping pong match, tied at 21, and they keep changing serve and winning their point over and over and over. 

Solstice appears twice on the cover of my new book, separated, not by six months or a ping pong net, but by the word "to." "Solstice To Solstice" then, means from one solstice to the other, which is the period during which the book was written.

It might be helpful to mention that the subtitle of the book is, "A Memoir In Verse." If you didn't know a memoir from a solstice or a ping pong net, a memoir is a set of memories or thoughts of one's life written down, and "in verse" indicates that they are written in poetic form. So, the book contains poems about thoughts about life between two solstices, all written poetic form. 

If you are not familiar with poems, they are very similar to prose (what you are reading right now), except they are written differently on the page.

For example,

This sentence

Is written

Like a poem,

Though it

Is not one.

Dramatic, huh?

Of course there are many other things that distinguish poetry from prose, and I learned them in grade school or college or somewhere else long, long ago, about the same time I learned to play ping pong.

But I don't know if you learned them in grade school, or anything at all for that matter, even ping pong, and not being a grade school or college teacher, I don't intent to give a course in the many differences between poetry and prose except to suggest that you could learn a lot more about the convergence of solstices, memoirs, and poetry by buying and reading my book, "Solstice To Solstice - A Memoir In Verse."

Buy it here. 

There is nothing in there about ping pong. Sorry.