Monthly Archives: September 2013

Life, Love, and What Those Are

Are poets philosophers?

I think yes on a very basic level.  Because one of the things we represent is emotion, and that is a dearly coveted yet singularly representative aspect of the human condition.  How can we be so imbued within its grasp and not wonder of its – or our – origins?

We often come to believe that our own emotions are universal, as though all people experience the same emotions in exactly the same way.  But I have lived long enough to know that this idea is simply not true.  In fact I would say that people experience emotions in such vastly different ways so as to become as dissimilar as fingerprints, with each occupant in life being completely unique within his or her own view. 

Eyesight is a good way to explain the differences of how we view things, I think.  Many people believe that some animals can only see in black and white.  Dogs, for example, are thought by some to only see in black and white.  Science can prove this theory by identifying the type of “rods and cones” in the animal’s retina.  If only black and white cones are present then it can be assumed the animal can only see the world in black and white.

Science is also able to detect if our retinas have rods and cones that can detect color.  In fact they have indeed established that.  But they can not tell us what color you see when you look at the sky.  Sure, we all call that color “blue.”  We are taught from birth that when we look up at the sky we see a color and that color is called “blue.”  But the word “blue” is only a definition of that color.  It is not the color itself.  The color itself can only be absorbed though our eyes.  And our eyes do not have language to describe it. 

When one person looks up in the sky he sees “blue,” and another might look into the sky and see what the first person believes is “green.”  They both call it “blue,” because they were taught that definition of sky color.  So when they communicate and use the word “blue” they think they are talking about the same color.  But in reality they may not talking about the same color.  There is no way that I can be certain that my “blue” is not someone else’s “red.”

Language is a social function enabling us to describe those things we sense, whether through the five physical senses or emotion.  But the senses themselves, as well as emotion, are entirely individual – not social at all.  They are wholly owned and experienced only by the viewer himself.  But they can be translated into social language by the use of words, to enable us to share the things and emotions we sense.  But I hold in all cases that the sharing of these things are in every instance degraded by the verbal translation.

So spoken or written emotion, in my opinion, is never identical between two different persons.  Yes, they both experience an emotion when a friend or family member dies, and they can commiserate with language and learn to call that emotion “sadness” between themselves.  And although they can both agree that “sadness” is what they each feel, I hold the emotion within each  of them is not exactly identical to the others, and that each will deal with that event, death, or loss, entirely uniquely.  The word “sadness” might be a good marker for the feelings, but there is a tremendous amount of wiggle room in it.

I mention all of this because of my own philosophy of life.  Although it is almost identical to the written or spoken versions from everyone else, there are certain intricacies in it that are not similar to any one else’s view.

Yes, I believe in God.  I think He created us for a reason.  I think He didn’t really explain to us what that reason is.  So I am left to ponder that, or philosophize, on what that reason might be. 

Here are the facts:

1.  We are each present here. (Through birth)
2.  We do not know if we asked to be present here. (Or to be born.)
3.  We are facing decisions in life, exactly like a quiz.
4.  But instead of filling in little circles with a #2 pencil, our answers to the quiz are in the form of actions.
5.  If we pass the exam we can go on to Heaven, where eternity becomes pleasurable.  (Father doesn’t whip your ass for bringing home bad marks because you brought home good marks)
6.  If we don’t pass the test then we spend eternity gnashing our teeth and burning in a lake of fire. (Dad whips our ass for bringing home bad marks)
Although I am making light of these things, these are my actual beliefs.

Obviously, we are being tested.  I mean we were put here in this life specifically to be tested.  I think that much is really clear.  So in my opinion the answer to the philosophy of life can only be found in the answer to this question:  Why are we being tested?

So indeed why?  Why are we being tested?  God didn’t give us a reason why.  Personally, I think it is because we all fucked up pretty bad in another life, or another existence somewhere, and so we were all sent here to repent for what we did. 

So really, life is Purgatory. 

Period.  Really, that’s my philosophy.  Yes, I know life is filled with so many other things.  Loving relationships with friends and family, for instance, can certainly make life wonderful.  Or being able to dream and then structure one’s life in a way to attain those goals and desires, whether professionally or spiritually, can certainly be fulfilling also.

But all too often I believe that we fall into these routines where we lose sight of the fact of the real reason we are here.  It’s as though we are wearing blinders created by our daily routines and things we do to normalize our lives like getting the kids ready to put on the bus, or brushing our teeth and showering before work, keeping gas in the car so we can get to work, keeping the nose to the grindstone so we can continue supporting our family, and buying toothpaste, and gas, so that we can continue supporting our family, and buying toothpaste, and gas, an on and on ad-infinitum……

I think our lives can become so filled with the truly mundane – and so much so – that we lose sight of the real reason we are here:  Which is simply to learn how to love.  That’s why God put us here.  To love one another because obviously at some point in our past life – (lives) – we failed to do that. 

Anyway, that’s my philosophy.  And just so you know, I already love you.  Not because I have to, and not because God asks me too.  But because I can.  I always start everything I do and every relationship with that in mind and go from there.  I don’t know what color you see as “love,” but that’s what I see. 


Lost and Never Found

Just watched a really good movie called Chrystal, starring Billy Bob Thornton and with the most wonderful sound track music I have heard in a very long time.  It inspired me to write the following song, which  I have not been able to name….  Suggestions anyone? (The last line was borrowed from one of the songs in the movie)

….submitted to “Open Link Night” making Tuesday nights funner than, well, some Monday nights… Hope you can join us…

Death’s been knockin’
and I’ve been gone.
She’s been wond’rin where I could be.
This world’s been long
and I’ve been wrong
So I won’t hide from thee

Now listen sweet Death,
and hear my song,
open your heart
and sing along
I’ll promise you gardens
you’ve never seen
then you’ll know
where I have been.

Over that hill
lies a mystery
My love, she’s gone
forever you see.
Her beauty too vast
and her heart too strong,
Only dear God knew
she would’nt last long.

So you see sweet death
I’m honest and true
And in the morning
I’ll go with you,
but tonight I think
I’m gonna stay
by the side of
my sweet baby’s grave..

And I ain’t got no sugar baby now…


Claudia is tonight’s host.  In the spirit of her ensemble, you can follow this link to get a taste of good ol’ American bluegrass…  This song is the opening song from the movie mentioned above and was written and sung by Roscoe Holcomb, “Moonshiner” …

© 2013 John Allen Richter

My Face

The face is more
…..than just a face
or place
to hide a storm within.

It’s tenuous breadth
……..lives from birth
to pain,
and back again,
in less than a child’s first breath

It holds the knowledge
………God hides from the world
for it is stained
and longs for
the solitude of love…
And everlasting.

But there is no love
………Without loss
and only the face remains.

© 2013 John Allen Richter

Zoom Zoom

Life is zooming by.  The first 20 years or so seem to drag a bit, but after that it’s like a roller coaster ride…..  In real time I am 54 years old.  But in “seems like”  time I am only about 3 months old…….  That’s how fast I got here.  I was 11 years old just 3 weeks ago.

And I’m not complaining.  I don’t mind if life goes by fast.  If I was Bill Gates and richer than God then maybe I would want to stretch it out as long as possible.  But sometimes I think not even then.  You know Bill will have enough money for the best medical care, so he’s going to end up like 100 years old and on 275 different medicines, all of his organs are going to be half crapped out, and he’ll be looking like a living mummy stored away in some old folks home somewhere and slobbering on himself for 30 some odd years.  But at least it will go by fast. 

And when Bill finally does kick the bucket all the young people will say, “Oh yeah.  I think I heard of him.  He had something to do with Grand Theft Auto, I think….”  He didn’t of course, but Grand Theft Auto will be the only thing still around in the future that is even remotely related to the computers we know about today.  And Gates remaining estate probably won’t be enough to purchase the game in the year 2078, when he dies at 130 something years old. 

And when the game is sold in 2078 I’m guessing it will progress to a stage giving the player the option to actually cut the prostitute’s head completely off and fuck her in the blood-gushing neck stump, all the while laughing at her severed head, which is sitting on the sidewalk politely staring up with that look that says, “Ah muh fuk-uh, no you di-unt!” 

The game is absolutely disgusting and I have no idea why we allow our children to play it.

I started this post to talk about how fast life goes by.  And so, it goes by really fast. 

It goes by faster if you play video games.




Happy Hour Nap

Some time late last year my siblings and I traveled to southern Mexico for a family retreat.  There is nothing I love more in this life than spending it with these incredibly special people.

The second oldest of us has developed a liking for spa retreats.  And so we spent several days trapped in a beautiful spa hotel wonderland, sitting on crystal blue waters and hidden in a deep Mayan jungle….  I have never been so pampered in my life.

Unfortunately, and those who know me will attest to this, I am not a sauna, spa, mani-peti sort of fellow.  I have a natural aversion to aroma-rock-therapy and massage tables with holes for the face.  In fact when the ocean is in my sight I am much happier to be splashing about upon it in a fishing boat, which is where my brother and I managed to sneak off to.

But most of the time there we sat at a little pool bar overlooking the ocean.  And we sat, and sat, and sat.  And drank.  On the opposite side swimmers in the pool would wade up to get their drinks.  It was fun watching the bikini clad boobies come up to get their refreshments…  Sort of my little refreshment.

We had the funniest little bartender named “Oscar,” who was obviously a Mayan descendant and whom I believe used nothing but alcohol in his alleged “mixed” drinks.  Except for our fishing expedition I was entirely drunk through out this vacation.

Within the beating afternoon southern sun each day, and with a belly full of rocket-fuel Margaritas, I found myself longing for the expanse of the huge bed in that mansion-esque state room to enjoy a hard worked and well deserved nappy-poo.  All of which brought on the weirdest dreams I can ever remember…

To my bartender, Oscar….

oscarOscar With Sister #5

Happy Hour Dreams

Sun Gods and Mexican Leprechauns,
Forty beaten winks
from pretty pink shelled prawns….
And an afternoon
spent with Tic-Toc man.

“May I help you, If I can”
whispered the strange little man.
“Perhaps a bottle of wine?”

“No, kind sir.” I should say.
But in the most polite way,
“Your clock is tilting into mine.”

“Our seconds are crashing,
moments are thrashing,
and the hours have lost their mind.”

“Pardon my gin, sir,
I’ll wind it again sir.
and then see what you’ll find.”

That’s a better dream.
Perhaps I’ll have that wine.
Have you any nipples?
Or the time?

Oh, damn it all!
I’m awake again.


This offering will be presented to a wonderful and talented group of poets comprising the dversepoets society for their Tuesday Evening “Open Link” night….  I hope you will have the time to join us there some Tuesday…..

© 2013 John Allen Richter


Consequence is gonna’ find you
It doesn’t matter what you try to do
One thing for sure it’ll always be true
Cuz consequence
……………… will find you

In the morning when you put on your shoes
and you’re wonderin’ who you’re gonna’ screw
Consequence is on its way to you
……………… will find you

In this world there’s so much to do
You can love or hate a Jew
Start a Holocaust or two
Cuz consequence
……………… will find you

So loose the belt and lose the hate
Let your love start to concentrate
Show the world a most wonderful fate
And consequence
……………… will love you

Life’s too short and don’t think I’m wrong
Don’t get confused and think it’s long
Cuz before you know it’ll be gone
And consequence
……………… will find you

It doesn’t matter what you try to do
One thing for sure it’ll always be true
Cuz consequence
……………… will find you
….Find you


© 2013 John Allen Richter

Dum dee dum dee doooo

I have a cadence in my head.  On most days it seems to be a happy little cadence.  But, I don’t know if that means I am crazy or not. 

It’s not like it matches the cadence of any speeches ever given by Adolph Hitler.  Nor does it match the boot stomping marching songs used by the Third Reicht in their particualarly scary parades….  So even if I am crazy, I think it’s a harmless crazy.

I was reading an opinion by another poet/artist the other day who intimated her belief that it does not matter what cadence (meter) the author applies to a poem when he creates it, but rather determining if a poem is good is accomplished by any third party who is able to apply an appealing cadence (meter) of his own to the poem. 

And it was necessary for me to stop there and think a moment, because I’m not really good at thinking since this damn cadence in my head usually drowns out any cognitive thoughts I might entertain from time to time….  (Just joking.)

But after a moment I thought, well, duh.  Yes, I have always agreed that the observer is the one who discovers the art regardless of what the creator’s intent was.  A sculptor sculpts a statue.  A painter paints a painting.  The poet writes a poem.  The “art” of the piece does not become something until an observer applies it. 

But it also got me thinking even deeper than that.  (Tilt! Tilt!  Tilt!)  There are so many incredibly talented poets I have read and have applied my own cadence to their work only to at some point find an old 8mm film or sound recording from 1960 of them reading the same poem in a dry, unattached way which is completely different than my initial reading. 

And I find myself disappointed a little, thinking “Wow, they sound like they are reading stock quote figures out of the newspaper.”

A ver-y dry, mon-o-tone voice in per-fect syl-la-ble pres-en-ta-tion with no highs and no lows but rath-er to drone on for what seems e-ter-ni-ty af-ter for-ev-er and-on-and-on-and-on-and-on-and-on-and-on-and-on-and-on-and-on-and-on……

And it makes me a little sad because to me it seems their reading of the poem presents the work without emotion.  (And I need you to know that I am talking about “to me.”  I’m not trying to imply that anyone else should feel the way I do.  As an artist and lover of life I’m well aware that we are all very much unique and the manner in which each of us individually views art is certainly a most fundamental application of that concept.)

And in that view I must say that poetry without emnotion is really (again, “to me”) nothing more than the daily newspaper or the ancient set of encyclopedia volumes stashed away in your parents attic. 

Ironically I am one of those poets whose verbalization of poetry is way different than what readers find as they read my poetry.  I know this because they tell me that.  And I don’t have a problem with that.  It is probably attributable to the fact that I am crazy and the reader is not.  And as long as I can live in my own little world of happy cadence, I don’t care…..

Anyway thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a

la dee da dee
la dee da dee
la dee da dee

Happy, Happy day!




Beyond Love

The following poem is about the loss of love.  Or the absence thereof.  Some would call that hell.  So deep, so stark, so completely enveloping the narrator’s soul that he only wishes to close his eyes and never open them again.  But the world will not allow that….. 

Beyond Love

Another day starts its glory
upon the froth of tortured stars.
Sliding into the lighted heavens
ripped from bellies of celestial scars.

And you, your filth, your disgusting way
can find little else or more to say ….
then scourge the Earth this unhallowed day
kneel before me scoundrels and pray

that life becomes your mortal slayer
and your dreams lose all memories of love.

Open your eyes once again
for God chooses not to end
this hellish world
……… play within.

Nigh, my friend.
Your eyes shall open every morn
as ever fails your rotting flesh
and your chattering skull plays the tunes of hell
to the darkest dusk of every night……

Your plight, my friend,
is life, my friend,
after love……


© 2013 John Allen Richter

This poem will be offered as fodder to a wonderfully talented group of writers and poets who gather at every Tuesday evening for “Open Link Night.”  I hope you can join us sometime.


Yes, You Can…

People say “You can never go back.”  But that’s not true.  Because, yes, yes you can go back.

First of all, I’m weird.  And I throw that out there not to give the impression that I think “weird” is somehow “better” or “worse” than normal.  I don’t think in terms of better or worse.  It’s just that during my 54 years of life it has become quite undeniably clear that I am different from every other person in this world.  But it’s not like there are any bodies buried in the back yard.  I’m not that kind of weird.

The reason I tell you that I am weird is in order that I may somehow qualify the emotions you are about to read.  (If indeed you are about to read them.)

Over this past weekend I had the opportunity to walk through my childhood home for the first time in 36 years. 

Now everyone has their own reasons for wanting to visit their childhood home.  And some would never even want to…..  My reasons are that true happiness is about love.

This past Sunday morning my only brother within our clan of 7 kids, who incidentally is the only one of us who never left our hometown, called to tell me the house was for sale and would be open to the public at noon.  Mike knows me.  Which is strange because most people in this world so don’t know me at all. 

Since Mike knows me he felt comfortable saying over the phone to me “Hey, you like all that memory shit.  You interested in seeing our old house?”

This is my older brother Mike.  While living in that house when we were young,  10 and 7 respectively, Mike and I visited a neighbor on the next street over because their adult mentally challenged son “Jeff” stayed at his home alone through out the day and would pay us 50 cents to let him spank us….  And 50 cents was a lot of money in 1967.  At 7 years old it never once occurred to me that he was a freak.  We had done this a half-dozen times before in order to get money for the matinée without incident.

This particular day was different.  It was wet out, but not raining.  Completely overcast and just a shitty, shitty day.  We got into Jeff’s house and Mike bent over Jeff’s lap to “get his spanking” when a really weird look came over Jeff’s face.  Weirder than his normal weird.  Jeff picked up Mike, who was always skinny and weighed less than 100 pounds, and carried Mike into his bedroom.  Jeff closed his door and locked it.  I tried the door and yelled for Jeff to let my brother go.  Within two minutes my brother was screaming bloody murder, begging for me to call the police.  I could hear Jeff struggling with my brother, breathing in that disgusting, deep breathing he would always do during “the spankings,” telling my brother to shut up or he would kill him. 

Now at 7 years of age I did not know what penis’ are for.  I did not know what sex was, nor that sex drive was even a thing.  All I knew was that this guy who normally just paid us for spankings picked my brother up and was threatening to kill him behind a locked door.

Now, listen.  I was 7.  I did not know how to call the police.  But I was going to try.  Fortunately every house in our neighborhood was a similar style ranch and every one of them had a single phone – always on the kitchen wall.  I ran to the kitchen and picked up the receiver.  Fucking party line!  Two housewives were chatting up the line like they always seemed to do.  Normally you would just politely hang up the receiver and wait a while until they finished their call.  This was not a normal day.  “Can you call the police for me please.  I need the police.”

“Who is this?” one of the ladies asked.  “It’s John.”

“Where are you John?”

“I’m in the B——-‘s house.”

“Why do you want the police?”

“Jeff has my brother in his bedroom and has a knife and wants to kill my brother….”

Now, a party line is a phone system where every three or four houses on a given block had the same phone line and they needed to share that line.  Whoever this lady was, she was also Jeff’s neighbor and probably knew the family well. 

“Johnny, I want you to go home now.  I’m going to hang up and call Jeff’s brother.  His mother gave me his number for emergencies.”

I was not in the habit of disobeying adults.  But a team of wild horses could not have dragged me away from that house while my brother was in that room.  The next ten minutes listening to his screams was just absolutely agonizing.

Finally I heard Jeff’s brother pull up in the street outside, brakes squealing.  He dashed into the front door with an incredibly angry look on his face, glared at me and said “What are you doing in my house?”

“Jeff has my brother in his room and he has a knife and he wants to kill my brother.”  Mike’s screams were still wailing out of the room.

Jeff’s brother walked up to the bedroom door, tried the handle once and then in one full swoop threw his body against the door and it came completely off of its hinges, smashing to the ground.  I could only see him run into the room.  Two seconds later I saw Jeff come running out of the room screaming, his brother hanging around him with a choke hold and punching him violently in the back of the head.  Fucking hard.

And then Mike came out looking dazed.  I grabbed his arm and we went out the side door, heading through the yards to our street.  Mike couldn’t. or wouldn’t run.  The short walk home seemed to take hours, all the while Mike was mumbling something apparently to Jeff, I think not fully realizing that he was out of Jeff’s room. 

The reason I’m weird is because of all the different, incredibly emotional things that happened that day in 1967, the clearest memory I have is how overcast it was, and what a shitty, shitty day it was, holding my brother’s hand walking home.  Today he does not remember this ever happening.

“sure Mike.  Give me a couple of hours to drive up there.  We’ll have lunch and then go to the open house.”

A few months after that day in 1967 my brother and I were at the municipal swimming pool, a city Parks and Recreation pool.  I couldn’t find him so I went searching and found him sitting alone in the boys locker room on a bench, mumbling again.  I sat down next to him and asked if he was alright.  “Yeah,” he said.  “But I accidentally pooped in the pool.  Can you call mom to get us?” 

“Yes Mike, I’ll call mom.  Wait here for me.”

The day after “the pool” incident in 1967 our mother painted our bathroom, the one and only bathroom in the house with a tub and shower.  One of my five sisters, Sue, who was 15 or 16 at the time, complained that one of her horse-shoe ear rings went missing.  Now I’m a sibling to 5 sisters and a dad to two girls.  I don’t now why females place so much value on shiny things, I only know they do.  And Sue threw a fit over this one.

Well, ours was a small little bathroom.  While sitting on the toilet in this tiny bathroom there is not much to focus on except the opposite wall (which is only about 30 inches from your eyeballs.)  Low and behold, in 1967 I discovered a glob of paint in the newly painted wall that looked kind of like a horse shoe.  Now I don’t know if that was Sue’s ear-ring that might have somehow accidentally fallen into mother’s paint tray and then inadvertently been transferred to the wall by her roller.  I doubt it.  I think it was just an amazing coincidence that this glob of paint somehow dried to look like a tiny horse shoe.  But I thought about that little glob of paint every time I sat on that toilet for the next eight years. 

After 36 years (actually 42 years since mother painted that wall) I checked to see if the glob was still there.  It is.  I took a picture of it.

In fact, I took many pictures of paint globs, closet doors, windows, and Dad’s space in the living room, where he sat night after night, doing the cross word puzzle…  All of those things tell a thousand stories to me.  But not without my brother there.

I’m weird.


I’m not religious but…

Why do we follow rules…  Is it because they are on the books as laws and we must follow them because there is another law which says we must?  Or is it something deeper than that?

I like to think it is deeper than that.  Hurting another person, stealing from him, or doing anything to harm him in any way is just simply innately wrong…. not just legally wrong.

“So what if I cut you off in traffic?  That’s not illegal.” 

“So what if I walked away knowing you gave me $20 too much in change?  That’s not illegal.”

“So what if I spread rumors about you to make your life a miserable as I can?  That’s not illegal.”

“So what if I walk past you in the street disregarding your need for food or shelter?  That’s not illegal.”

All of these above statements are true.  But if you replace the word “illegal” with “wrong,” then they would all be false.

Some religious groups tell us that we must follow their beliefs, believe what they believe, and say out loud the things they say out loud in order to know God and to receive everlasting salvation. 

These people are hypocrites.  In their next breath they say “You can not do anything to earn salvation.”  Well, what about your previous edict where I must do this or where I must do that…..

You don’t need religion to know God.  You don’t need to “accept” anything to know God.  You don’t need to “say” anything to know God.  You already know Him from birth.  He put HIS laws into your heart the day you were born.  The truth is that you don’t need some other man telling you what you need.  Not even me.  You already know God. 

Right and wrong are found in the heart, not a law-book…..  nor a Bible.  Proof of that is the twinge of shame you felt when you saw the 4 “so what” examples above……  That friends is God within you.