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Yellow Brick Road

A Journal by Don Gerz

"Fired" by Don Gerz

Never complaining, always perplexed,
never making excuses, always creating solutions,
solutions that have been ignored for months,
my friend Larry has been confiding to me
that his boss Nancy has been giving him fits…

fits of frustration
when Nancy doesn’t return his calls,
perplexed when she dictates
how Larry should handle his customer,
a customer Larry has been servicing
successfully and profitably for years…

a customer Nancy knows nothing about,
not even the decision-maker’s name, Marty,
or his wife’s name, Carol,
not to mention the names of
Marty and Carol’s two children, Helen and Michael.

Larry’s boss Nancy does not know
that Marty and Carol’s son is autistic,
that Michael will always be autistic.
Larry’s boss does not know many other things
that Larry knows about his customers.

Larry is hurt that Nancy
has taken some of his best accounts,
customers he won for the company
and has cultivated for over a decade,
accounts Nancy transferred to other sales reps,
reps young and green to the business.

Nancy is distracted when Larry talks to her.
She seems to want to be anywhere Larry isn’t.

My friend Larry has been summoned
to Manhattan tomorrow morning,
to his company’s human resources office
for a half-hour meeting.

Tomorrow will be February 22nd.
Manhattan is usually cold at this time of year.
Manhattan is usually cold on most February days.

My friend Larry will probably be fired tomorrow
on February 22nd, on George Washington’s Day,
and Larry’s human resources
will probably be resourced elsewhere.

One thing I’m sure of is that
my friend Larry will land on his feet.

People like Larry,
people who care about people like
Marty, Carol, Helen, and especially Michael,
always land on their feet.

For people like my friend Larry,
it is always warm in Manhattan,
even on Feb. 22 as George Washington
looks down with God’s grace upon us all.

"They’re Christians" by Don Gerz
(A Religious Conversation)

They’re Christians,
so every year they take a trip together.

That’s good.

They’re very committed.

They’re real Christians, aren’t they?!

Yep, that’s definitely who they are!

Say, which service do you go to?

Well, I usually go to the 10:00 service.

Me too.

I normally don’t go to church on Wednesday night.

Me neither, but sometimes I do.

You know, last week we ran out of time on Daniel.
I really like Daniel.  How about you?

Well, one of my favorites is John, Chapter 9.

That’s the one with the blind man, right?

Yes, the one where the blind man says,
“I was blind, and now I see!”
I love that testimony.

Yes, that’s strong…very, very strong.

Well, you know the Pharisees were self-righteous,
but the blind man set ‘em straight.

Yes, the Pharisees started off right,
but then they began to see heresy in everything.

Yes, they went too far.


Well, I’ve got to go.

Me too.  See you next week.

God be with you.

And Christ
be with you.

Well, of course!  After all, we’re Christians, aren’t we?!

Right.  So right.

"A New Big Bang" by Don Gerz

I'm here at Starbucks again,
trying to pull together
all the things
going on around me
that are spinning off
into the intellectual
and poetical spaces
between my eyes
and ears.

What's going on
with you
is a big part
of the fragmentation
exploding into me
like a new Big Bang.

"Dutch Baked Potato" by Don Gerz

In a little eatery
in Amsterdam,
my wife dropped
her baked potato
after paying
Euros for it.

Toppings spread
out on the floor
under our chairs
like a prize won
then immediately lost.

Everything stopped,
and no one knew
what to say or do.

Van Gogh
just laughed.

"Good Readers" by Don Gerz

Reading is now
a sometime thing for me,
but in the Seventies and Eighties,
I inhaled the Great Books.

Always looking for answers,
I found questions instead:

Who is the true self?

What is the nature of reality?

Who is God?

What are the products of true perception, will,
ignorance, knowledge, wisdom, and so much more?

After fifty years of reading,
I started writing, and questions gave way
to possible answers that floated across the timeless fields
of ancient philosophers and flowed from my fountain pen
out of my being into my mind and through the intellects
of my teachers and students.

And I could not stop writing.
I still cannot stop writing.

An idiot once said reality was merely disconnected
individual perceptions and
that people
did not fully understand the world and others
as well as he solely understood them,
as though reality unfolded only in and to him,
unclouded by what others had read and experienced in life,
as though he alone knew the Score with a capital “S”
and the Truth with a capital “T”
with both underlined, italicized, and made bold.

Too many are like that imbecile,
but the wise and brave crash through the walls
of their individual perceptions and fall bruised
while others perch like birds of prey,
never flying far from the ease of their private and
unexamined convictions, unmoved by what
they vacuously perceive, will, and ignore in life.

And I wonder what they think,
those who gawk from the safety of their boughs,
consuming instead of producing and pondering
the lives of those who trade comfort and ease
for the hardship and strife of growth
and unending development?

There are two types in the serious reading of life
and the Great Books:
those who read them and
those who allow themselves to be read by them.

The first type trusts what they perceive to be answers
as they perch comfortably on their sterile perches.

The second kind trusts the universal questions posed to them
as they crash through the perilous walls of mere perception
into the vestibule of Heaven’s library.

"A Few Words" by Don Gerz

Killing time at this table
with strangers,
each working
on a computer,

searching for
the right words

to explain
why we are
with each other

in a public place
full of
private people

in an arena
where we chase
our times
and places

until we discover
our fates.

"School Hallway" by Don Gerz

Spring 1971.

I was twenty-five,
and it was the first time
I knew exactly
where I was going,

the first time
any direction I took
was the right one
to all that is
and to all
that will be,

the best place to be
in my short long history.

I felt I had been
to Alpha Centauri
and back
with a trillion light-years
to spare.

My long short history
of coming and going
and doing and being
was beginning,

and you were there.

You knew
what I felt,
how I knew where
I was going
and why I was
going forward,
always higher,
always more

for you,
for you,
always for you.

You knew
better than I
who I am to all,
who I am to myself,

and who I am to you.

You smiled
as we walked
toward each other
in that crowded
school hallway,

and your beaming face
said you knew
who you were
and who I was
and why we
had been born.

I had been born
to receive your smile.

It was the best day
of my life.

Writing, Not Publishing

Toxic Friends

Your toxic "friends" act as if they are the only ones who have troubles. So preoccupied with sharing their own problems, they do not concern themselves with trials you may be going through. Self-absorbed, they don't ask you about how you are doing.

They expect emotional and sometimes even financial assistance. Gratitude is not something they readily express.

They don't act as though friendship is a two-way street. In short, they are not friends in the true sense of the word. They will drop you when you stop giving them what they expect and will act as if all is your fault and that you are lacking in compassion.

They project their faults onto you and others who do not give them what they want rather than what they need, which is tough love.

There! I feel better!

"The Scout Jamboree" by Don Gerz

Put yourself out there, son!

Life is doing what you
have never done before.

Now sell, son…



Hey, mister!
I have ringside tickets
to the Scout Jamboree.
Four for only ten, sir.

Yeah, kid?
Here's a twenty.
I’ll take eight.

Say, kid, what do you get
out of the Scout Jamboree?

Confidence, sir, confidence.