Category Archives: Writing

HARROW a poem

harrow

In a world he ‘longs not to
To a dream he is not bound
By a road he does not walk
Only harrowed is he found

Lie down where you groan
Wander where you roam
Fissures, cracks and moans
Cried out once and gone

It’s a curve he cannot touch
From a touch he will be dumb
In a world of angels ‘lone
A sallow bone he’ll plumb

Lie down where you groan
Wander where you roam
Fissures, cracks and moans
Cried out once and gone

Words and language sere
Legion named and feared
Haunts my fearful soul
Fingers thumbs and tears

Lie down where you groan
Wander where you roam
Fissures, cracks and moans
Cried out once and gone

I said he cried out once
and gone, gone, gone
Only cried out once and gone

 


“Hey Mitch, what’s this poetry thing all about?” I want to collaborate with Blue Öyster Cult and I’m hoping the Öyster Boys will think this would make a good lyric.

Did you know I wrote a paranormal/mystery/romance book inspired by Blue Öyster Cult’s lyrical themes?  Click here to download it here for free!

The cover to my book “Chatters on the Tide” inspired by the music of Blue Öyster Cult

Review: Huston Smith’s “The World’s Religions” 

Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions is maddening – not because it is uniformly bad but because it contains a tarnished brilliance that is a clue to an underlying schizophrenia ultimately revealed in its conclusion.  At times you think it may be building into a tour de force, but then you are confronted by a disappointing blemish.   It is written eloquently and awkwardly at the same time:

“Guidelines are weakening even here, but it is still pretty much the case that if a corporation executive were to forget his necktie, he would have trouble getting through the day.” (italics mine)

Who would expect, in a thoughtful book like this one, to find “pretty much” or “corporation executive” instead of “corporate executive?”  Contrast these transgressions to this insight:

“Reality is steeped in ineluctable mystery; we are born in mystery, we live in mystery, and we die in mystery.  Here again we must rescue our world from time’s debasement, for “mystery” has come to be associated with murder mysteries, which, because they are solvable are not mysteries at all.  A mystery is that special kind of problem which for the human mind has no solution…” (italics mine)

An excellent way of expressing the religious mystery for sure.  And yet the ear begs for the clumsy transposition of “which” and “for” to be undone.  There are gems to be found in the dirt, but unfortunately there is dirt to be found on most of Huston’s gems.   It’s clear he spent years researching the book, and it’s painful to be so critical.   But passages like this one, found in the conclusion, sum up the central problem underlying his inconsistencies:

“Our realization that science cannot help us reopen the door to looking seriously again at what the wisdom traditions propose.  Not all of their contents are enduringly wise.  Modern science has superseded their cosmologies, and the social mores of their day, which they reflect – gender relations, class structures, and the like – must be reassessed in the light of changing times and the continuing struggle for justice.  But if we pass a strainer through the world’s religions to lift out their conclusions about reality and how life should be lived, those conclusions begin to look like the winnowed wisdom of the human race.”

This is the viewpoint of a person who supports the continued erosion of the world’s religions — the viewpoint of someone who is opaque to his own disrespect of the traditions he seems to endorse.  Is he blind to the living people he has studied, many of whom would take issue with his willingness to “pass a strainer” through their faiths and winnow out what he likes and does not like?  How many of them (myself included) would say that the world’s religions don’t “look like” the wisdom of the human race?

They are.

Huston’s book would have been better if he had embraced the world’s religions to an extent sufficient to make him willing to fight harder for their preservation.

RAT TRAP SATRAP a poem

Rat Trap Satrap

Misering the counted days
Living in a zero sum haze
Rat trap satrap
Prince of the atheist craze

Puzzling the whodunit maze
With your TV detective ways
Pink Panther answers
And two-bit gumshoe dossiers

But there’s warp within the weave
Look up quick before you leave
At the apogee tapestry
It’s zero grieve and all vive

Infinite numbers that are odd
Even too eternal esplanade
Sacerdotal grand total
The unbound is not for naught

Receding when approached
The most sacred mysteries
Will not be encroached
Sanest of all insanities
To lose oneself and gain a soul


“Hey Mitch, what’s this poetry thing all about?” I want to collaborate with Blue Öyster Cult and I’m hoping the Öyster Boys will think this would make a good lyric.

Did you know I wrote a paranormal/mystery/romance book inspired by Blue Öyster Cult’s lyrical themes?  Click here to download it here for free!

The cover to my book “Chatters on the Tide” inspired by the music of Blue Öyster Cult

DILUVIAN EYE a poem

DILUVIAN EYE

Forgotten pathways once again familiar
The cave draws a path to its mouth
But the Orient has more poles than South
And five miles down I spelunk your maze

Thistles and fruit from trees depend
As whelmed I wade diluvian halls
Decrying  exits of illusion, searching smooth walls
By touch I find the hoary iris window

Tumbling from that oculus to see and seen
Guarded and regarded by the desert cougar
On warm sand recumbent, triumphant in my surrender
Gazed upon and gazing, the eye  between pearline pillars

Dark and moist are light and dry
Gold and silver gone, black and white
Are your headless standard’s colors bright
Lost, lost am I to your relentless tract and backward step

The forgotten pathway begs remembrance
But weaned too long I cannot be unborn again
To once again recurse the diluvian eye
Between the pillars of pearl and see another way


“Hey Mitch, what’s this poetry thing all about?” I want to collaborate with Blue Öyster Cult and I’m hoping the Öyster Boys will think this would make a good lyric.

Did you know I wrote a paranormal/mystery/romance book inspired by Blue Öyster Cult’s lyrical themes?  Click here to download it here for free!

The cover to my book “Chatters on the Tide” inspired by the music of Blue Öyster Cult

DIY Auto Tire Barbell

The finished product!

Full disclosure — I’m not a young buck trying to win Crossfit competitions.  I’m just a martial arts instructor in my late fifties augmenting my martial arts with strength training a few times a week.

Space is limited in my home gym so I lift only dumbbells.† Many people say dumbbells will only take you so far.  So I decided to put some barbells under a lean-to behind the shed along with my Ironmind sandbag.

I’m crazy frugal so I did this DIY and on the cheap.  Below find the price breakdown and the photo set showing the how-to.

Now all I have to do is learn how to lift the doggone thing without hurting myself!

 

DIY Auto Tire Barbell Breakdown Weight  Cost 
2 each 205/65R15 Tires with wheels (Craigslist) 2 x 44 lbs = 88 lbs (39.91 kg)  $10.00
1 used Weider 6′ barbell (Play it Again Sports) 18 lbs (8.16 kg)  $24.99
2 scraps of 2 x 10 lumber from another project approx 2 lbs (.9 kg)  $        –
10 1/2 x 1 1/2″ lag screws approx 1 lb (.45 kg)  $ 6.00
Totals: 109 lbs (49.5 kg)  $40.99

†If this is your first visit to this blog, my “home gym” is the Cabal Fang Temple — ground zero for Cabal Fang Temple, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) federally-recognized non-profit educational corporation (I’m founder, president and head instructor) providing free martial arts, fitness and personal development services to those who cannot afford it.   I’m also the sole proprietor of Bobcat Martial Arts, a for-profit martial arts venture teaching Frontier Rough & Tumble and Vigny-Lang Walking Stick Self-Defense.


Pop In: Martial Arts Training Involution #170

This is a chalice. The Chalice is the spiritual symbol of the month at Cabal Fang.

To summarize good self-defense I’ve started using this new catchphrase:

If you see it, flee it — but if you can’t get out, you gotta get in.

To learn more about how to implement this strategy, see Cabal Fang: Complete Study Guide from Querent to Elder or the forthcoming Bobcat Martial Arts
Dime Novel #6: Scuffling – Frontier Rough & Tumble Scrapping
.

I started off years go advocating this strategy.  Then a couple of years ago I started worrying that maybe it wasn’t good advice all the time, like with knives for instance.  Not any more.  I have zero doubts.  The more I trained, investigated and tested, the more clear it became that you should always run if you can — but if you cannot run you must take the fight to to the assailant.

Two respected instructors I trained with recently both corroborated this basic approach —  John Phipps (Krav Maga) and Jim Marx (LEO and WWII combatives).

You need all the weapons you can get when you’re in close.  In addition to uppercuts, hooks, elbows, and shoulder checks, you should also have good poppers.

Toward that end I humbly present…

Pop In: Martial Arts Training Involution #170

  • Martial Fitness.  Set a timer for 10 mins and complete as many sets as you can of 4 Chin-ups, 4 Kansas Burpees, 4 Back Bridges, and 4 Bear Walks (10′ diam circles).  Beginners use a light bag for the KBs and no bag for the BBs.  Intermediate, use a 65+ lb heavy bag for both KBs and BBs.  Advanced, same as Intermediate except add weight to the CUs.
  • Popper pyramids.  3 sets of each side of Shoulder pops and Elbow pops, each set in pyramid format: 1,2,3,4,3,2,1.  See video below.  To build up speed, do this pyramid a couple of times a week for a few weeks, then be sure to add them into your heavy bag work and to your sparring repertoire.
  • Meditation.  Meditation tools generally fall into one of three primary categories: visual aids (mandalas), words (mantras), and body movements (mudras).   The spiritual symbol of the month at Cabal Fang is the Chalice — try imagining it as a kind of visual aid.  Set a timer for 10 mins and assume your meditation posture of choice.  Visualize a chalice in your mind’s eye.  Don’t think in words — just visualize the chalice and breathe in a regular rhythm.  Quiet your monkey brain — allow the Chalice to chase away negative thoughts, obsessions, and so on.
  • Journal.  And, as always, record your performance, thoughts and realizations in your training log or journal.

 


DID YOU KNOW…that I have an awesome shop where you can buy all kinds of cool stuff, like martial arts training materials, bespoke books, artwork, and so on?  Check it out!

Hatmaker’s Readiness Test — Part 2

Click here to see Mark’s entire post

If you missed Part 1 in this series, click here.  In a nutshell, author and martial arts coach Mark Hatmaker recently posted The Self-Resilient Readiness Test  and I’m working my way through them to assess my ability to self-rescue.

Mark’s motivational scoring method is: You get zero points for not facing the challenge, 1/2 a point for failing and 1 full point for successful completion.   

In the video below I’m facing questions 2, 3, and 5 and I’m moving with the agility and grace of a ‘possum dragging a #1 Bridger trap.  But the point is to face your readiness or lack thereof, so…

My Scores So Far

#2: Run at top speed for 200 yards.  I’m slow, but I did it. 1 point.
#3: Jump over waist high obstacles.  Close but no cigar.  1/2 point.
#5: 25 dips.  They were pathetic and I had to take breaks.  1/2 point.
#9: One minute unprepared breath hold. Check.  1 point.
#13: One minute shower on full cold. Check.  1 point.
———————–
Total Score so far: 4 points out of max score of 5

Wanna play along?  Post your scores in the comments!


DID YOU KNOW…that I have an awesome shop where you can buy all kinds of cool stuff, like martial arts training materials, bespoke books, artwork, and so on?  Check it out!