The Reason We Dream

I used to believe we could go on forever,

that afternoon in the park

when he drew his graphite vision

the first holocraft on a hot sunny day

the three of us

in Memorial park

looking up in the sky with awe,

one of us with the bong in our hands

another – a slow exhale into the summer horizon.

.

We were just kids, snotty, arrogant, naive

to the world around us,

yet as long as we had each other,

the laughs would remain,

though with time,

that original notion in our heads

became Orwellian

while the years did pass,

we do, will I, would I, we wonder

upon each other’s lives.

.

Today the craft does exist

fifty years later of course,

yet our imagination can still

redefine

its own spectacular outtake

on society’s thrills and ills

all of which

we are told over and over again,

’this human condition stuff,

it will set you free.’

.

Next time you are in the woods

take a moment to pause

think a bit on me and my  buddies

we all carry the same weight.


© Thom Amundsen 5/2021

A World of Measures

We are a measured society. Our actions fall under values we would wish to believe manifest in our background, cultural mores, the manner we were raised, the people by which we surround ourselves. In order to feel a certain sense of security, I want to believe in doing the right thing, living a life of compassion, respect and understanding. I often fall back upon the only attribute I can always count on to help me move forward – the concept of love. We all have a penchant for understanding what kindness might do to enhance our own personal confidence in who we are and how we go about our lives.

What I just described is how I live my life. I might go through my day with concern of other’s perception of me, but nowhere in my day have I ever felt a concern for my welfare beyond evaluating my own actions and making the right decisions to maintain a moral and dignified life. I have never felt my reality to be threatened by violence of any sort. Even those bullying moments in my childhood didn’t amount to anything as traumatic as senseless loss of life over and over again. I lost my cousin when I was 12 years old – he and I were six months apart in age, and that tragedy changed the course of my young life. What is important to recognize about that moment is that I didn’t have to get used to loss being right around the corner of all my actions throughout every living moment of my existence.

I am a White man living a privileged life.

When George Floyd lost his life last May during the Memorial Day holiday, I struggled to understand his loss. I tried to imagine the pain his world endured and I could not wrap my head around it at all. I couldn’t go and visit the memorial. I felt like I didn’t belong there. I felt pain and compassion for his loss and the impact on the community, including the horrific repetition of a systemic assault upon the welfare and safety of people of color in our society. I realized the Black community lived in a measured life far different than my own.

Daunte Wright lived a measured life. His every action has been based upon and judged by the color of his skin. His safety was when he was surrounded by his friends, his family, the people he counted upon to always be there for him, to not judge him, to never ostracize his position in their lives.

I once sat in a roundtable discussion of an equity based forum, a group whereby I was one of only a couple of white participants in a mix of a dozen contributors. The end discussion was a share of how we all felt about the last hour of a courageous conversation. I spoke out and suggested this was a fascinating hour and that I needed to process this and probably write about my feelings later in the week. I felt confident I was speaking accurately from my heart. A woman on my right said to me, “I’m glad you are going to do that, to process this day – good luck with that.” She then suggested she will get up from the table and be immediately immersed with a need to survive as she goes about her afternoon. She said “I have to be aware of myself in my every move the moment I walk out my door in the morning until evening when I can return to the security of my own home.”

I was actually a bit shocked, perhaps mortified at my naive approach to the measure of someone else’s life far more impacted by the nature of racism in our society. A woman on the right of me after listening to me rationalize my ignorance then plead, “when are white people going to let go of their white guilt and just acknowledge their role in privilege in our society.” Stunned again I thanked everyone at the table for letting me share in the discussion and allow me to have my takeaways. I was humbled. I was measured in the moment, but that feeling paled to the measure I realized people of color will experience every moment of their lives.

Daunte Wright’s life was certainly measured and he suffered a tragic end to living his life in goodness and flaw. The paramount misperception without question the color of his skin. The evidence would suggest a travesty has occurred, one that repeats itself so frequently there are protesters today walking the streets wearing t-shirts with a dozen names printed in a list of losses our Black society has experienced at the hands of ignorance. The world around Breonna and George and Michael and Philando and now Daunte are rampant with a confusing measure of importance in a country where the color of our skin is on the forefront of everyone’s mind. It is important to understand how measures play a role in perception.

There will be push-back. There always is. I have a good friend whose husband, also a friend is a police officer in the twin cities. She once described to me the fear she has every time her husband has to walk up to a parked vehicle he has pulled over for a traffic violation. I wish that analogy could be as simple and educational as it sounds, but there is a greater argument to be had about discrimination, fear, confusion in a hurting society. We are all being measured, however there is a much greater consequence for people of color in a world that still after decades beyond the civil rights movement of the 60’s continues to perpetuate a thinking of ill-met measure and judgment that has nothing to do with the whole of our humanity.

We are all products of the same nature of human beings relying upon eating, sleeping and communicating with each other to live our lives in a kind, forgiving, loving manner. We all do live measured lives some with greater extremes than others. The truth is we need to be measured the same – we need to leave privilege behind and begin loving one another for whom we are rather than forcing our neighbor to adjust their lives based upon the color of their skin.

We need our measuring stick to endure the confusion and misperception of years of trauma and perpetual ignorance and begin to love one another with kindness and acceptance. We need to be measured by a universal humanity and not one of misguided and horrific judgment.


© Thom Amundsen 4/2021

A response to the tragic death of Daunte Wright, of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, of Philando Castile and the countless names that preceded death based upon fear.

When Time Stands Still

Usually news, not just an epiphany,

perhaps a tragedy, friend nearby, makes us want to

have a long cry

when we, well

similar sounding sigh,

we, well, I cannot really describe the loss of

uniformity

while chaos rears its impulsivity upon the

normalcy of our lives.

~

Last night a dear friend told me news

her friend, one of a lovely circle

of women I have had the privilege of stories,

an endearment of souls traveling the years,

and they will band together,

they will search and plead and pray

for some new authenticity,

allows all of them to feel

together.

~

She is a very kind soul this dear friend of mine,

I can feel her ache,

she has memory of the sort

we all carry around with us to different degrees

of understanding loss and pain and confusion.

~

So let the world remind us all

when in the quiet silence of a sunlit morning,

we can stand still,

feel the permanence of our frame of mind,

when life seems so apparent

its penchant for reminding us all,

standing alone is no place to know,

only a landing upon where we sometimes fall.

~

Perhaps there is a gesture we only know so well,

a moment of peace, of love, when then hearts do swell.


© Thom Amundsen 4/2021

(for Cherri)

If I Might Be This

I am slowly beginning to age,

a sort of catching up

where my youth did seem resilient

to a process of slowing down.

~

And yet am I ready

would be the question we might all wish

an answer

to find some distant resolution.

~

See the life of the average man,

always pining for more,

or perhaps never in a hurry

to help define their meaning.

~

I have a wonder in my life

a spirit being whose truth I rather

thrive upon to be near,

to every sunrise lets a setting moon.

~

If once I might have known peace

to feel in every fiber of my being,

would then I have found any relief,

to accommodate the peril of my mind.

~

Some might suggest the deepest chasm

of our psyche

is found a natural path to exile,

yet further away would be such a loss.

~

So words do land upon a state of mind,

a rational being might suggest

otherwise

to remain a fixture in their silent time.

~

I wonder about now in my forever quest

to know only ahead the hours before.


© Thom Amundsen 3/2021

First Moments

When doubt begins to wonder

and all the souls that gather around

suddenly want to splinter off,

an edgy sort of raw scrape upon our

own fragile sanity.

~

We might think we know,

protest the moment,

rather respond with a reaction

that only suggests we are

as fucked up as we believe ourselves.

~

What happens when we really cannot

our bodies, our selves

an old adage we once called a title

seems now so profound only wants

to speak to the here and now.

~

I remember one time,

I could clearly see the grain of a wall,

having looked so long

a blank slate of never ending worry

just across the room, just there.

~

Have we ever wondered why

each of us operates by our own set of rules,

despite knowing otherwise

fall on my sword

before I ever imagine something wise.

~

Seems a song playing on the radio

helped me know who I was,

know what pain felt like,

when a strung out heroine addict

was found dead in a seedy restroom.

~

Somebody cared about that moment,

they came and rescued his soul,

there was some reason to know why

yet the questions would always

far outweigh that sad reality.

~

Those moments when we suddenly

find our way,

when through the quiet of a morose

state of mind,

we ride the crest of that initial pain.

~

Those first moments we’d rather never explain.


© Thom Amundsen 2/2021

When A Feeling

If sometimes I cannot complete a sentence

it doesn’t mean I won’t understand

if you are hurting

if your state of mind isn’t feeling wise,

instead driven down by whatever the wave

of a moment,

a passing fancy,

a time when all of our lives

become wrapped into that one moment,

all others depart and we are left in a sort of dream

trying desperately to define whatever it means.


© Thom Amundsen 2/2021

200 Miles

Would we imagine seeing so far in our lives

we could predict or at least know

beauty we perceive eventually arrives

within the miles we might choose to go

to find her heart, hold his smile

we are consumed is a mystique on trial.

~

I once knew someone in a decade long ago,

where we were children by standard in age

and yet the romantic airs of a time shall go

as a summer breeze will define this adage

as memory in a nostalgic interlude swoon

for do we seek elegance inside our moon.

~

Could be there might a confusion over come

the wonder of how lives would today become

so lovely, so unimaginably important in eye

those places we go to search our silent sigh.

In his smile there is a rather pleasant curl

of lip that would define his own head a swirl.

~

Love might be a language we will all desire

if in favor known travels a passionate fire.


© Thom Amundsen 1/2021

In Nature’s Realm

A dear friend is walking this morning. She told me that is where she discovers her peace of mind. Our world is not the same as it once was, certainly not the last week. We carry a lot upon our minds. While weathering the storm of Covid and a confusing political atmosphere, we can be thankful that one aspect of our lives remains fluid, abundantly available, and welcoming. Nature is now our refuge, fresh air, beauty and serenity all await our heart with open arms.

The ‘hoar frost’ has been particularly abundant this January. I noticed it on the treetops nearby as the sun rose in a morning fog – a rather spectacular setting I wish I might have caught on camera to use in this observation, but the camera would not have done the moment justice. What it did do though is give me a moment of pause. I imagined my friend on her own walk experiencing the same many miles away, and yet so close because the elements of nature can draw everyone together with meaning. How many times have we watched a full moon from our backyard, knowing someone hundreds of miles or continents away would soon do the very same? We are all in position to know that nature offers a universal release so valuable during such an improbable time in our lives.

This week I have struggled with the events of January 6th. I watched testimonial after testimonial on social networks decry the circumstances, challenge the motivation, denounce and vilify the actions that turned our world visually upside down. Everyone has right to an opinion, I believe that, I always have. Being able to provide an eloquent answer or solution has never been my forte, so I really didn’t know how I wanted to write about this moment in our history. Obviously I do like to write, so this did provide quite a quandary.

So here is my testimonial. I gathered Mak! together this morning, and we took a walk, and just, well, I’m grateful for the fresh air and beauty of a mild winter day. I appreciate the wonder of a morning breeze upon my naked skin. I delight in the startling nature of my dog’s fascination with a crust of snow on the path. I pray that we can all find peace of mind, and know that our heart beats with the same fierce resilience we all might rely upon to carry ourselves through life’s darkest moments.

Close your eyes and breathe.


© Thom Amundsen 1/2021

If When We Cry

Policy and truth

patterns in protestations.

~

What I saw today

might be the same tomorrow,

a different lens

similar sorrow.

When tears do well my eyes

could you be my mirror …

would you let me stand nearby

though uneven would be our worlds.

~

Seems an opportunity to feel you close by

might help heal hearts wanting only a cry.


©️Thom Amundsen 1/2021

These Are Our Days

We know them

no filter moments

side swept rains tease snow

feel moisture on naked socks

walking the dog

a midnight rendezvous

perhaps routine to some

yet

tonight, today, last year

that calendar date

might, may, will, has, did,

does always, wants forever a return.

Remember once quiet

impassioned plea.

I will always be here, nearby

holding your hand, crossing paths,

nostalgic eyes.


©️ Thom Amundsen 12/2020