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Best Robert Ronnow Poems

Below are the all-time best Robert Ronnow poems as chosen by PoetrySoup members

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123
Details | Robert Ronnow Poem

The Invention of Zero

Zero.
By which nothing is divided.
No zero
no negative
no opposite
no hope
no Adam, no apple, no marriage, no morning.
No mirror
no knowledge
no God, no soul, no ear lobe, no Iliad, no Odyssey.
No universe
no black hole
no zodiac
no hero
no mission, no omission, no fission, no fusion.
No beanstalk
no tractor
no yellow
no 7:30, no wind, no window, no owl, no one.

In 773, at Al-Mansur's behest, translations were made of the Siddhantas, Indian astronomical treatises dating as far back as 425 B.C.; these versions may have been the vehicles through which the "Arabic" numerals and the zero were brought from India into China and then to the Islamic countries. In 813 the Persian mathematician Khwarizmi used the Hindu numerals in his astronomical tables; about 825 he issued a treatise known in its Latin form as Algoritmi de numero Indorum, Khwarizmi on Numerals of the Indians. After him, in 976, Muhammed ibn Ahmad in his "Keys to the Sciences," remarked that if in a calculation no number appears in the place of tens, a little circle should be used "to keep the rows." This circle the Arabs called sifr. That was the earliest mention of the name sifr that eventually became zero. Italian zefiro already meant "west wind" from Latin and Greek zephyrus. This may have influenced the spelling when transcribing Arabic sifr. The Italian mathematician Fibonacci (c. 1170-1250), who grew up in North Africa and is credited with introducing the decimal system in Europe, used the term zephyrum. This became zefiro in Italian, which was contracted to zero in Venetian.   - Wikipedia

After my father's appointment by his homeland as a state official in the customs house of Bugia for the Pisan merchants who thronged to it, he took charge; and in view of its future usefulness and convenience, had me in my boyhood come to him and there wanted me to devote myself to and be instructed in the study of calculation for some days. There, following my introduction, as a consequence of marvelous instruction in the art, to the nine digits of the Hindus, the knowledge of the art very much appealed to me before all others, and for it I realized that all its aspects were studied in Egypt, Syria, Greece, Sicily, and Provence, with their varying methods; and at these places thereafter, while on business, I pursued my study in depth and learned the give-and-take of disputation. But all this even, and the algorism, as well as the art of Pythagoras, I considered as almost a mistake in respect to the method of the Hindus (Modus Indorum). Therefore, embracing more stringently that method of the Hindus, and taking stricter pains in its study, while adding certain things from my own understanding and inserting also certain things from the niceties of Euclidxs geometric art, I have striven to compose this book in its entirety as understandably as I could, dividing it into fifteen chapters. Almost everything which I have introduced I have displayed with exact proof, in order that those further seeking this knowledge, with it pre-eminent method, might be instructed, and further, in order that the Latin people might not be discovered to be without it, as they have been up to now. If I have perchance omitted anything more or less proper or necessary, I beg indulgence, since there is no one who is blameless and utterly provident in all things. The nine Indian figures are: 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1. With these nine figures, and with the sign 0 . . . any number may be written.   - Fibonacci, Leonardo of Pisa

Copyright © Robert Ronnow | Year Posted 2015

Details | Robert Ronnow Poem

Can poetry matter

In the debate between accessible and difficult poems
Poets' poems and poems for people
Only the single poem and private reader matter

Both kinds and anything between can matter or not
Solid or made of air, a vase or heavy clay ashtray
One word repeated or many like a lei

An acquired taste, like wine, and like wine
Not sustenance, yet men die with their miseries
Uncut without it, news and mere matter

I advise everyone to keep a personal anthology of poems that matter
Or not. Perhaps it should be novels. Stones, insect wings,
Feathers, Birds you've seen, People loved.





Copyright © Robert Ronnow | Year Posted 2015

Details | Robert Ronnow Poem

World Order

Financiers feel superior to farmers
and pundits have it over poets.
All to the good because if you think America's
doing just fine, don't skip to the poetry reviews.
Our enemies are barbarous, our allies duplicitous
but our smart bombs are smart - that's how they found you.

Dad said all wars are resource wars. Follow
the money. The world needs more order, nothing
less than Nazis, never may the anarchic man's thoughts
be my thoughts, each shove sends a ping,
shields urge on shields, helmets helmets, we can be
the reigning kings between the last empire and the next

or implement a vision of collective deliberation
and binding agreements. Can China's navy
be harnessed to ensure free passage through
the South China Sea? We'll see how
things work out in the next generation.
In the meantime should I read Henry Kissinger's meditations?

He who thinks poetry's effete
probably considers Darwin a geek and Einstein
a postal clerk. Containment means leaving space
for the passionate and zealous to face themselves
and giving them missiles that don't work.
Slowing everyone down until one thing's done well -

governance or sustenance or brotherhood.
When violence comes to the neighborhood
the hierarchy will hold or fold, it is then the peace work proves relevant.
Failing to achieve understanding, we're searching outer space
for an entity to unite us as humanity.
That person, or city, is consciousness.

By that what is meant. Sitting still and thinking deeply
on the relation of anger to coercion,
systems for correcting the decisions of earlier presidents.
We're required to report incidents of depression
to a doctor because you're a valued member of of our community,
or so insignificant no one notices or cares.

How necessary the interface of war and poetry!





Copyright © Robert Ronnow | Year Posted 2015

Details | Robert Ronnow Poem

The Dark Green Conifers

another day in the woods. on Strawberry ridge
looking out over undulating green hills to
the next great wall ridge of mountains. the last
morning clouds left from last night's storm
hanging in the valley mistily. the sun eventually
burns them away.

the respect between old Paul Karlsen and I continues
to exist. even though he's a Mormon and I'm a fallen
New Yorker. the work is comparatively easy, lifting
hundred pound bags, so you can just imagine what
we do other days. in fact, it's fun, especially for
young Bates. we get all white (and our lungs dusty).

on the way to and from the work site I read
in Silent Spring, the chapter against herbicides, gathering
inspiration for the upcoming controversy. in the end
perhaps I'll be fired for refusing to lay down Tordon
beads. realizing this, as I drive with Bates,
I see the dark green conifers and begin to miss them.

                              Rocks and rattlesnakes, bluebells
and mountain daisies, grasses and cactuses, mahogany
bush, lodgepole pine and quaking aspen, lush forest
and dry sun-tortured mountainside, wind and seed
carried by wind, ants, streams, hummingbird
and hawk, deer, badger, ground squirrel, wolverine.





Copyright © Robert Ronnow | Year Posted 2015

Details | Robert Ronnow Poem

Aaron's Coconut

Start the day. In what way
was the cold spring, last wet summer a
global warning, indicator. Says

one commentator on the op-ed page, the
dislocations, wars, famines will tax humanity's
technology, philosophy, even religion's ability

to see past daily survival to
the music in the rock. I've doubted the taboos
one frog among many in the slow-heating beauty

of the world we knew. Aaron's coconut.
Peepers doing well in the heavy rains, wet
with joy. Hawks and crows thrive below the jet

stream, noise, perhaps our fears
are overdrawn, we'll get along, it'll all hold together 10,000 years more,
the Holocaust will never be repeated, lush mountain and sere

desert equally appreciated, baseball
lazily paced summer evenings, the harvest in the fall
a sure thing, and the dying back a blessing come to all.





Copyright © Robert Ronnow | Year Posted 2016

Details | Robert Ronnow Poem

Avoiding beautiful September

1

The personal is boring
as are my ruminations on the war.
What I need to do I can't try: 
wander without shelter in the backcountry.
Or go deeper into the polity, 
join a committee or a party.

Minute by minute and season to season
I like my life but what does it add up to, what reason
to go on? No better than a squirrel
or a spider. Spreadsheets, fake books, girls
I want too mildly, modestly or morally to have.
Can the economy and community be called love? 

You can be killed and buried in gravel
Your children can be failed at school and marched to war
You can be taxed and sent to gaol for the honor of it
And there's nothing you can do about it.
Will we find the universe not large enough to hold us? 
Will planet after planet be too old for us? 

If you were president, what would your program be? 
What one question is the key
to another's truth. How do you spend your money? 
Do you believe in a god who can see
all and understand? Or is he
unable to care, a different species.

2

We take the long view
that as individuals drop
from sight, new enthusiasts
will associate. Legs
give out, lungs collapse, 
but we do not let the circle lapse.

For every Aristotle
there are a million toddlers
who will advance no memorable
theories. But the mist
on trees and mountains, 
sunrise over desert, are for

every merchant, traveler.
My sons will take on cares, 
which toys are theirs, 
as their parents grow
older. Slowness brings us
to our goal: do one thing well.

By that what is meant? 
Don't be a dilettante.
Not having found the greatness
of a single, clear description, 
definition, the greatness comes in
doing everyday what's known.





Copyright © Robert Ronnow | Year Posted 2015

Details | Robert Ronnow Poem

Dad's Bark

Dad's bark is worse than his verse.
When he hits it doesn't really hurt.

The dirt outside the house is soil.
The mouse inside the house is life.

Can't escape the printer or the car, IV
bag, heart monitor, a billion trillion stars.

Snow descends, each flake unique.
My sons' friends, each infinitely

a Greek or Trojan hero. Our morals: 
hit not the girls, nor rape. Love more

than you are loved, by a little. Give
but stop before it hurts. Stand together

or fall apart. Which candidate you vote
for less important than to vote. Don't

depend or dote on leaders, housekeeper
and president are gods equally

remote. The human body is a thing of
bone, a strange upright animal, and the

telephone a mystery to other animals.
Everyone and everything is spinning

electrons and the space between.
A great crunch, inverse of big bang, 

yr big sister told.





Copyright © Robert Ronnow | Year Posted 2015

Details | Robert Ronnow Poem

All Soft Feathers and Flight Muscles

In the intermediate zone between heaven and hell
opinions and complaints, after much moaning, may
come to be held in common.

The way a flock of chickadees
moves through the woods, cheerfully, 
each bird taking a turn on point.

All meaning must be found, here, in the middle zone, 
notwithstanding fears that rend and own us, 
of dying unknown.

A Spring day
the flycatcher broke its neck against our bay window
nothing changed.

I buried it, somewhat reverently, in a shallow grave.
No differently, really, than I would a man
who'd died suddenly.

Who'd left footprints in the snow
which became wild lily-of-the-valley, running pine
then snow again in time.

After long enmity
Sally hugs me, asks if I've been happy.
A moment in a year.

February, the light is long, more direct.
It's meaningless, repetitious
but held dear.

Copyright © Robert Ronnow | Year Posted 2015

Details | Robert Ronnow Poem

At Basketball

Basketball stands for war or battle.
That's why I think about the players'
personalities, in my foxhole or squad.
Danny and Ben are fast and smart. Dan
especially can pass making him master
and commander. To defeat them as we did
is very satisfying. Ben's five year old son
is intelligent but distant. Disdains to answer
my question Why are you you?
                                           But I'm not here
to catalogue the men's personalities.
I like them. But each of us has moved on
many times, when _______ suddenly died
the games went on with hardly a mention
and his name has since been forgotten.

But even this, absolute mortality
of not just our bodies but our names
and souls is not what I came
to talk about. Yesterday, between games,
I asked Joe how Molly his daughter likes
the high school. He mounted an impassioned
defense of reading as the indispensable skill
when I suggested math, the scientific method
and history are essential too.
                                         Also between games
Bob diffidently asked why my kids are bald.
I was moved by the care he took to satisfy
his curiosity, concerned the subject might be
difficult. He's a political science teacher so
I took the opportunity to ask What ails
the republic? Of course I answered myself
wanting mostly to hear myself talk about Iraq
and how empire is self-correcting. For once I was amusing
I thought, treating the subject with a light touch
heretofore lacking.

But none of this is what I came to say.
A new guy, very big and strong, a
bulldozer under the boards with a good
outside shot if needed got into a dispute
with the other Bob who likes to tell people
what to do sometimes, about an offensive
foul Bob called which we almost never do.
The new guy said If you can't take it don't
play under the boards which is what I say
when I'm pissed and don't give a shit.
Bob said You've been pushing and shoving me
all day. I said He doesn't want to be
pushed and shoved which got a wry
smile out of Danny as I put the ball in play.





Copyright © Robert Ronnow | Year Posted 2015

Details | Robert Ronnow Poem

Enduring Spinning: Agriculture, Culture and War

You can feel it spinning
                                fast
the Chinese, Japanese, American and European junk
orbiting at several thousand miles per hour could
                                                                  punch
a hole in your armor, future. Thanksgiving passes, then Christmas.
A nuclear detonation, we absorb that fact. The scientist in us
delays sadness by recording observations. What is is,
sorrow's for tomorrow.

By reducing probabilities to near zero I hope to avoid sorrow.
In yr suburb.
In history when there were many fewer people we still found reason
to cross space, explore, trade and war. Now
                                                            overpopulation
may not be the problem but food and water shortages
get our attention.
                         I have Korf's fears.
And hear what I want to hear.

Some hear singing, some hear speeches or complaining.
Martin Luther King sang his complaints, dreamed of a brotherly nation
which came to pass, spinning fast, past Thanksgivings, past jailings
into reconnaissance, small wars, drones, renaissance, inventions.
At the border,
                    where the Juaristas fought Maximilian:
Benito Juarez (1806-1872) Zapotec Amerindian who served five terms as president of Mexico. He was the first Mexican leader who did not have a military background and also the first full-blooded indigenous person to lead a country in the western hemisphere in over 300 years. For resisting French occupation, overthrowing the Empire, and restoring the Republic, Juarez is regarded as Mexico's greatest and most beloved leader.

Each soldier chooses what war at what border, or just
                                                                         shows up
spinning with the planet.
The neighborhood and surrounding nature is orderly.
But always there is implied force, violence holding it together,
                                                                                   chaos
is contained
kept out of the playground, government buildings, children's games
but lies within
the force maintaining order, a spinning tumor, a gyroscope of
                                                                                  inertia.
                                                                                                                
The force of the spinning, the speed of the force bring one to one's
      death
seasons, weather, earth.
                                   While the emperor's being beheaded
enduring seeds are discovered and invented, cross-fertilized and bred.
Corn, yams, potatoes, sunflowers, rice.
                                                      Food is life and a good study,
useful discipline
                      daily meditation.
                                             The fighting man protects the farmer
and the farmer feeds the fighting man.
They elect the governor
                                  who serves the people. Peace out.

Peace and war are transitory manifestations of spinning
electrons, planets.
                          The sun's a nuclear detonation, essential
to spring and planting. Food is life. Seeds endure
if man goes to his daily discipline. If woman is man.
Birth and death
                      together are orderly, the border can be known,
voluntarily. How we live together, by prayer or force,
is our story.

Knowledge
from laboratory to starry corridor keeps us very
                                                                 versed.
Did Juaristas consider the rights of animals not to be eaten?
Not during that spinning.
                                  And perform the history that surrounds us.
All that can be done
is written in the spinning:
The people of the land, the Indian farmers of North America - like their counterparts in Mesoamerica, the Andean region, and the Amazon - have continuously cultivated maize, beans, squash and other crops for more than five thousand years. One of the salient features of their traditional farming systems is the high degree of biodiversity. These traditional farming systems have emerged over centuries of cultural and biological evolution, and they represent the accumulated experience of indigenous farmers interacting with the environment without access to external inputs, capital or scientific knowledge. In Latin America alone, more than 2.5 million hectares under traditional agriculture in the form of raised fields, polycultures, agroforestry systems and the like document indigenous farmers' successful adaptations to difficult environments.





Copyright © Robert Ronnow | Year Posted 2015

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