A Certain Melody

I remember a time

traveling the highway

short ride to my exit

just off the city ramp,

~

So many occasions I thought

only of you

soft chords of a melody

when I listen tonight still …

~

Maybe it is the Beatles,

back then the Fab Four –

‘Back in the USSR’ meant little

beyond a lovely rhyme scheme

~

Tonight it has its own silent mystique,

a memory like 8th street after sunset.


©️ Thom Amundsen 4/2021

– for Karla

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)

We took a walk together, a cool spring

would flow the night’s waves

lapping upon the evening shoreline

soothing our mind as if to suggest a pause.

An appreciation of stars aligning the sky

we might look forever not mattering

such is the cosmic phenomena

sweet, out of reach yet a dangle

of the mind, handling in the balance,

always guiding our soul so mellow to follow

our heart and know it might surely

belong in one another’s waiting arms.

There lay before us a stream would release

all the moments of indecision with only peace.


© Thom Amundsen 4/3/2021

Confinement

Wish to reveal innermost details

when caught outside a comfort zone.

A simple pleasure perhaps spiritual

becomes less gregarious when alone.

Each time we try suggested walks close,

we know the circumstance of pain

wandering rogue outside common holes,

while the nature of our being refrain.

Once I felt the world beyond the crest,

insignificant inside this nature of man

Where could a good man feel blessed

Only less provocation survives this omen.

I wound up tight without apparent release

though time does plead a quiet peace.


©️Thom Amundsen 3/3021

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

Finding Solitude

When do I recognize I’ve had enough

after years of never really knowing how to decide,

what makes it worthwhile,

this it, this piece of our lives,

this need to demonstrate always

while this hollow reality aches inside.

~

When only the quaking fear of my psyche

takes over anything else,

whether it matters or whether it isn’t even real,

my mind will play with the moment,

and let me wallow in the shame

of never really understanding how easy life might be.

~

I chose to take a difficult route the day I became alone

within a crowd of thousands,

there I stood in the center of everything feeling

the wrath of my society bend its will,

in order to pummel my own confusion

with diatribe after diatribe of nonsensical air.

~

I wonder if I might ever really fathom

hours of lost time,

considerations that might leave others blind

with fury or madness or ill met resolve,

the burden of the human condition

never really being realized, floating askance.

~

It was in the dawn of my 25th year

when reality spoke only of its burden

and the charmed life,

the one just on the other side of the fence

would only chuckle the nearer I stood

knowing forever I would struggle to find me.


© Thom Amundsen 3/2021

Monday Reminders

Felt off when I awoke to the morning sunlight

a beautiful reality outside my window frame

couldn’t shake the vibe in my mind I might

forget another day, today not the same.

 

Trying to piece together wherever emotions lay,

what is it I am imagining, what is my rewind.

I have scared written all over my insides today

though if you ask me, you’ll pick apart my mind.

 

If I could map about the progress of a projection

without ever having to experience its method

perhaps then would live far less rejection,

the spirit of our beauty not perceived a facade.

 

I don’t particularly like these Monday blues,

leave me feeling such scathing personal reviews.


© Thom Amundsen 3/2021

Taking Walks

When once I chose to ruminate

today I will stroll,

a will to know

to see to wonder.

In winter and in summer

we might spring forward with a passion

rather than

fall upon our sword.

There is a certain beauty in that,

to know suddenly the benefit of

a spatial fascination.

Might be the wood?

Perhaps a city street

teeming with populace

while you and I share observation

hands held, our world alive.


©️Thom Amundsen 3/2021

Last Night In Shadows

I waited outside criss crossed windows

anticipating her,

our lives together

like always, we were meant to be here.

She rounded the banister, bedtime linens flowing in the darkness

a light behind would shine her soul

such is the beauty of a woman in love in a twilight.

Her smile lit up the night,

this anticipation I watched her hands open locks

she would hold a key that meant,

yes, you do sweet reckoning my heart will stir.

I thought to myself in this quiet night

have I ever been, could I, is it possible,

this delightful moment is the first time I have experienced love.

I felt unsorted, like in a dream

all the significant moments of mystery might blend

until waking would I see her with me, next to me,

our hearts will intermingle now,

and as I do watch you rest so peacefully by my side,

I know in the immediacy,

I am your caregiver for life.

For while the world around us may continue to confuse,

we can in each other’s eyes know our truths leave others blind.


© Thom Amundsen 3/2021