Month: February 2018

Before Life

Before Life

Before Life

 

Afloat snug in warm fluid for untold time

Awaiting mine own age to emerge,

Innocent, perfect, ready

To preen, to pretend, to prance

 

In seed plenum; shell, fossil, rock entombed

An eternity. Inanimate to animate by a bit of water,

A trowel, an earthquake shaking boulders loose

To gambol, smash, crush, to disclose

 

Life. Here. Come to Earth. Sent? Lost?

A tree to branch, to wish straight, symmetrical.

Yet defiant.  Grown awkward, gnarled, prickly thorns, scratching nails

Pruned and shaped by chance, by evil, by tragedy, by happenstance

 

By danger cowed until final ascension, up through the clouds, to

Where? Airy, ethereal, reclined on a cloud maybe, lazy, sublime

Yet haunted by life’s memories of travail, loss, unrequited pain.

Heaven won’t absolve regret though should have to

 

And all this fight, and, too, poetry and song,

These mathematics, glass beakers, computers, infinitesimal.

Great heroes flawed and fallen, forgotten.

Wicked villains redeemed. No less worth in

 

An Afterlife

Pined for, prayed for InLife,

Though BeforeLife, I think, must be

What we

Desire

To return

to

 

 

 

The Preacher on the Other Side of My Window Pane

The Preacher on the Other Side of My Window Pane

The Preacher on The Other Side of My Window Pane

At his farthest touch, beyond

A cold, translucent window pane,

Smudged, scratched, etched by those

Who passed this way many times ago

He bends, squints to peer past

Diaphanous curtains. At curious figures

Moving, gamboling; busy on the other side

At what he doesn’t know. Or why.

Echoes off the wall of his chest,

Rhythms. Blood beats Thumping, Pumping

In bursts up through chutes

Toward the residence of his soul

And around, down, back to 

His center seat of existence. And those

Reverberations travel outside his border,

Beyond his body’s jurisdiction

And on. Like a smell, fresh or foul, remembered,

Found, among broken shards in a melon field

Culled in summer; Spoiled remnants of fruit

Harvested, left for those compelled to survive.

The taste on his tongue, sweet or bitter or bland

And the linger afterwards, ineffable as a memory,

Concrete as a Soldier’s memorial,

Wispy as a fragrance butterflied on the air.

His aged sight, blurring the form of People,

Movements, appearances and disappearances,

Their existence other, separate, forever apart

From his body and imagination; from his unit,

But the outlines of worlds remain

Among the scattered, overturned furniture of memory,

Like the memory in a dream from

Other dreams, fleeting misunderstandings

Beyond the studies of science, literature,

Beyond our own sculpted rock,

Beyond these days,

Numbered and Checked off.

And if, as he says, he’s not bound alone by physicality,

He asks, how can the Unknowable be?

No matter what and where it be. And now

You know I know he believes

 

  

Due Process

Due Process

Due Process

 

The President of the United States recently questioned whether some people’s reputations and lives are being unfairly destroyed by public charges of misconduct, including allegations of domestic violence.  He wondered withal Due Process?

 

The persons he was referring to may indeed be guilty of what they are alleged to have done, but what is this reference to Due Process all about?

 

In my profession we always started off any case of spousal abuse assuming the victim was being truthful, and insuring an environment was created for the safe reporting of the crime and the preservation and presentation of evidence.  As the understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence increased over the years we even adopted a policy of removing the discretion of whether to proceed with the case from the victim.  Doing so insured they could not be pressured either by the abuser or the abuser’s lawyer to drop the case.

 

But those measure aside, we were also mindful of our duty regarding the Due Process rights of the person being accused. Due Process isn’t just a legal nicety.  It is a fundamental tenet of our system of laws. We might have railed against the exclusionary rule which could lead to the unreasonable suppression of probative evidence, but never Due Process.  Due Process is foundational.

 

The Bill of Rights has two different amendments concerning Due Process.  The Fifth Amendment protects persons from a deprivation of life, liberty or property without Due Process of Law.  It applies to the Federal Government.  The Fourteenth Amendment, passed after the civil war, provides the same protection from State governments and their political subdivisions.

 

Taken together, at every level of government, local, state or federal, when someone is deprived of life, liberty or property they are entitled to Due Process.  And, yes, Jobs and reputation are recognized as property interests protected by the Due Process clause.

 

As the Supreme Court has interpreted and developed the jurisprudence surrounding the clauses they have concentrated on two different dimensions of Due Process.

 

The first is “Procedural Due Process” or what one can refer to as the “How. ”How” is life, liberty or property to be taken away?   The second is “Substantive Do Process” which is concerned with the “What.” That is, “What” rights and interests and liberties are protected?  In other words the deprivation must adhere to standards in “How” it takes place and the deprivation must be of something recognized as a fundamental liberty, “the What”.

 

The later deserves detailed treatment since it is ultimately the means by which other rights or “liberties” including implied rights such as Privacy, are protected. But the Reference the President made really was really about Procedural Due Process, that is the “How.”

 

Procedural Due Process is about “Fairness.”  A person must be afforded adequate notice of what exactly he is being charged with, he must be given an opportunity to respond to allegations, the ultimate decision must be made by a neutral fact finder and there should be a right to appeal an erroneous decision. It’s the ultimate guard against anyone being rode roughshod to destitution or prison for that matter. And as regards our system of laws, indeed our Constitution, it is fundamental.

 

It is striking that a President referring to this deep seated American value is met with such rabid, virulent, vehement responses, both by certain members of the press and those who should know better.   No doubt, he should have expressed concern for the victims but, in truth his question about Procedural Due Process, about punishment visited on an accused without a full and fair hearing, was apropos.  It was wholly consistent with principles that form the foundation of our Democracy.

 

And contrary to some commentary, Principles like Due Process are not limited to the Courtroom.  They apply in the workplace and everywhere else where life, liberty and property interests are involved. As described by the Supreme Court, these principles are “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” and are “so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.”