Wednesday, July 29, 2015

There is an amazing amount of talent out there in the world. Much of it is never heard or seen beyond the living rooms or local communities. This is particularly obvious when we see the almost endless resources that the various “reality television shows” are able to draw upon.

I confess to have a certain fascination with watching the broad cross-section of singers that appear on shows like American Idol and The Voice. Many of these appearances are available on You Tube and so it is possible to watch performances not just from the United States but from Europe, Australia and all around the world.

The odds of winning one of these contests are small, but the winners are not always the best in talent. Much has to do with presentation, song selection and the preferences of judges, whether they be spectators or an actual small group of experts.

I particularly enjoy the “battle” type rounds where two singers participate in a duet. It seems often to bring out the very best in each of them. It is the modern equivalent of the fights to the death in the coliseums of ancient Rome. Each singer knows that they must put on a great show and work together even though it may mean the end for one of them.

There is a very fine line between success and failure in all of these performances, and in the duets we often see the competition rise to a new level. We are watching these young people walk out on a tightrope over a vast abyss.

Voices (copyright 2015, Glenn K. Currie) is a poem I wrote after watching one of these duets. The energy of their performance was wonderful and I wondered if either would ever again achieve the kind of level they reached as they walked that tightrope together, or had they traveled along that fine line to the middle without a way to return, without looking down.

Glenn K. Currie


It was a duel by duet.
Pitch perfect notes fired
Like shots of lightning,
Splitting the stage,
Then melding together.

This incandescent merger,
Created by purist chance,
Will soon be ripped asunder
By raging spectators,
Or jaundiced judges.

But for the moment,
This battle,
This symbolic dance of death,
Has joined their souls,
As they feast
On each other’s talents,
And inhale
Each other’s last breaths.

Friday, July 24, 2015

On both the smaller stages of local politics and the larger stage of world relations we seem to have lost the ability to work in harmony with each other. Everything is about deception and the game within the game. We join together to explore space and turn it into an arms race. Our religions promise love and deliver hatred. We ban together to defeat disease and then work to find even deadlier germs. We will create something by the accidental, the fortuitous interaction of people and events and then fight until we have destroyed it. We are like children playing with blocks or building sand castles. The joy seems to be not in the creation but in the destruction.

We are a world ruled by impulse decisions. Society is buried in the ashes of actions fueled by emotion and then we bring in the analysts to dig through the rubble and try to find a reason to explain the mess.

It is an endless cycle delivered by leaders unable to rise above the latent anger that fuels the fires, and citizens without the courage to stand up and demand something different. I wrote the poem “Am I a Man”  (Daydreams, Snap Screen Press, 2004) to ask the question whether we as individuals still have the courage to stand up and do the “right” thing when everyone seems to be moving against us. Lately everyone seems to pick a side and ride it to the bitter end regardless of the   damage it may do to our society or broader civilization.

And of course defining “right” is the big issue. To me it falls into the “you know it when you see it” category. See how comfortable you feel when you are carrying the pitchfork and you will probably have your answer.

At any rate, I hope in this coming election, we will hold our leaders to a higher standard than we have in the past. I hope we will all have the courage to raise our hand and take our country to a better place.

                        Am I a Man

I am a man, I am a man,
A man I am, if only I can,
If only I can, take a stand,
If I can stand, and raise my hand.

When honor calls, calls me to stay,
While others called, are fading away,
I hope that day, I can display,
The strength within, to find my way.

When I see crowds, in panic fly,
And in that panic, the truth deny,
Trampling in hate, those who defy,
The panicked flight to invented lie.

Then I’ll find if I am a man,
If against that crowd I can then stand,
Can I stand and raise my hand, Stop
From saying, “I’m only a man”.