Podcast: In Memory of Walt Cunningham

Astronaut Walter Cunningham has passed away. Here is my dedication to him on my Substack Podcast:


Photo Credit: NASA

Poetry Reading

Hello, folks! Happy New Year, and how are you?
I’ve remastered this. It’s not perfect, as I have to get better at noise reduction, but it is clearer, more fun (?) and affected, simpler–than before….


When A Loved One Dies…

This poem can be heard here.

We say,
“So sorry to hear.”
“So sorry for your loss….”

But–just remember:

To this “passed on” friend or loved one — he … or she... is ‘asleep’… and actually lives on in you….

This special place in our mind,
which we affectionately and poetically call
the heart”, is
the part of us which celebrates and mourns–
is inspired and gets excited…
maybe is the place which is the origin of our fear, as well;
but I doubt it.

The “heart” is the place wherein our mind creates
the avatars of others–most sentimentally…
of those we love and care about–and…
the “heart” is the part of those we love in us…
as we read them through it–caring for and loving us
And it doesn’t go anywhere–when they do, or
it doesn’t have to–
which is up to you–and me.

As close as we get to friends, family–
those we value and admire;
we never share their consciousness;
we experience of it — what they share… of it, with us —
and we receive an interpretation of it
in our minds.

We cherish this interpretation, and…
sometimes despise it–
thinkingand for practical purposesbelieving that it is they
He… or–she–the actual person with whom we enjoy–
or struggle
have experienced with
been in love with–
but this is a facsimilesadlydependent… upon the limits…
of our mind

This avatar is something that our mind simulates, and like us,
he or she has an avatar of us
an avatar we made together–and with the reactions of others–can be a place we go, to visit
whenever we wish

Despite its limitations, this is a good thing,
because we really are not meant to know everything that another person feels and thinks…

Let me tell you a story…

. . .
I woke up this morning with the memory of a dream of–
spending time with a friend whose identity I couldn’t identify
in the dream,
at his work place–slouching down and hanging onto
the machine he was working–
and looking through an open window in the wall
front of the apparatus, from the controls
I saw… a horse…
being cut through…
with a large blade.
I experienced this interlude of the Id in a matter-of-fact frame of consciousness–
no shock,
no horror,
except ..
after waking up–

But why was the persona–in the dream–
a person that I assumed was me–
not disturbed?

And why did I dream of a friend–
whose face I can’t remember and whose identity is a mystery to me?
Who was this person–killing a horse–in what was obviously a facility for procuring meat?

Well–maybe it’s because last night I was working on a project that involved the decision not to eat meat…
and yet, having to admit that I’ve only fully eliminated pork and beef–

. . .

Maybe I was the friend….
I w a s t h e f r i e n d
I w a s t h e f r i e n d

And–all of this is to say that:

We don’t understand every thing that happens in our minds,
happens in our minds,
h a p p e n s i n o u r m i n d s ,
h a p p e n s i n o u r m i n d s ,
h a p p e n s i n o u r m i n d s

What would we do with every thing
that we could acquire from someone else’s mind?
while we might not lose our minds,
we certainly might have questions about the people
we are friends with–
until we could understand
u n d e r s t a n d
what they were thinking or dreaming.
After all–especially these days–people find huge fault with one another over one another’s utterances;
they don’t understand
u n d e r s t a n d
u n d e r s t a n d
what the other has said–
w h a t t h e o t h e r h a s said–
yet react–
y e t

more than ever before, it seems
and over less and less a consequential nuance–
c o n s e q u e n t i a l n u a n c e
often over ignorance
o f t e n o v e r i g n o r a n c e
o f t e n o v e r i g n o r a n c e

Imagine if you could embody someone else’s consciousness; that would be a burden that we couldn’t bear.

And this is a gift
a g i f t
a g i f t
a g i f t a g i f t a g i f t a g i f t

Don’t read the following aloud; think of the sound
… of rhythmic tapping —
of a chop stick on a hollow wooden lunch box:

Bop!- Bop!- Bop!- Bop!- Bop!-

And the rhythm increases, with the taps growing more frequent, then doubled, in sound, mirroring each other:

Bop! Ba- ba- baaap. Ba ba baaap. Ba ba baaap. Ba ba baaap. Ba ba baaap. Ba ba baaap

–until it sounds like a colt galloping–and then this sound turns into the singular rhythmic, isolated beats, evenly spaced–non-musically–of the knocking of a wooden mallet–on a monk’s gourd, from a crescendo to a whisper of taps in the distance:

Bok! Bok! Bok! Bok!

Bok! Bok!

Bok! Bok!

Bok! Bok!

That we see the other person as best we can
through our own efforts
and love
and love
a n d l o v e a n d l o v e a n d l o v e and and love

(And) what the other has said…

And the pinnacle reward of this gift
is in when others can no longer remain with us on this Earth–
can no longer live in the bodies we are…
we are afforded the prize of keeping their avatars! avatars! avatars!
in us!–
that tabernacle of friendship, of love, of acquaintance…
inside of us… even after that person is no more, physically

Brothers and sisters–revel in your minds!
All you have loved are there with you–
if you cultivate them cultivate them
cultivate them
their avatars–
the greatest gifts of conscious experience!
the living memory of those we love–in usto experience
and share, forever!
It’s what the phrase “Remember me” means…
It’s what the phrase “Remember me” means…

I know someone will ask me–someday–‘do you feel, now, the way you always tell other survivors they can feel when someone “passes on?”‘ — and, all I can say is, ‘hopefully’ — but also remember, this person whom you love–and can still love–is not suffering now; all the possible things we can endure, he or she doesn’t have to–and won’t–and feels no loss of it.

He or she would mourn our having to be here–still–no matter how he or she would want us to enjoy it.

And that gift is what we celebrate–
the mirthful, positive endurance…
and the inspiration of our fellows who have “passed on” — given to us–to continue the acts…
of being mirthful, positive and enduring and inspiring others;

something we keep until we are no loner bodies ourselves

And what would this person, whom we love–who is no longer “alive” separately from uswant us to do with this gift–
to mourn?– or say:

‘I am so glad we got to know each other; wasn’t it great?!’

Let me tell you something about my friend!

Let me tell you of the wisdom this person shared with me
that he–or she–may live on in you, too!

Let me share with you a little bit
of what this wonderful person expressed to me!’
so we can live on– happily and with his or her memory!”

That’s what we are here for–
not to “send off” (someone) with the idea–
that this soul, this person–is missing something,
and not to be pained that we couldn’t have more time
with this friend, lover or admired personality–
especially, because, ##:
if we meditate on the one we love who is no longer here in a body, after a few short moments–
there’s our friend,
in the tabernacle of the mind–our mind
There he is; there she is,
right in the sanctity of our us–alive.

Copyright 2010~2022 Carl Atteniese / All rights reserved
Subscribe at http://therightwords.substack.com

Bolt The Door…

This poem can be heard here.

Bolt The Door
On once dark ages
Which in sinister drafts do pry

Blowing down the steps of ‘justice’
Thoughtless, loveless–from ‘on high
Through the missing words of sages

Robed, they poise to rend our light
Having loosed the hinge on rages
Their inked claws our laws rewrite…

Copyright 2011 ~ 2022 Carl Atteniese II/All rights reserved

Beyond The Fish Bowl

Photo: NASA (& the American Tax Payer – for all Mankind)

Listen to an older version of this poem here.

Crossfield ventured across the barrier
Then Shepard rocketed so high
And of Gagarin, and Kamarov before them–
What did they feel?
Not ‘why?’

Truly, there is no Earth membrane
We live on a gas-ensconced globe,

Separated from space by mere thickness
Rotating, revolving and processing
Barrelling in lock and roll

Circling a star–in turn racing
Round the galaxy’s massive black hole
Itself shot out from the center
By expansion thus far

All this violence in balance

Enormous–yet mutually constrained
Their motions playing out like ice skaters

In a gliding dance of refrain

. . .

Armstrong & Aldrin first walked on Earth’s moon
With Cernan & Schmidt, the last two
On the face of that satellite ’til next time
They did what billions dream to

And yet

We’re like fish in a fish bowl
Or children confined to a yard
The fishes unaware of the oceans!
The children of nations afar!

Until a day whence
A few more jump the fence—

Like a fish’s brief rise from the bowl
To glimpse the extent
Of a small world we rent
To spy but a limited whole
At an old age, now a lonely Earth sage
We see the limits of home

. . .

There are trillions of planets
Round trillions of
Yet those nearby
We’ve but seen from afar
In our own system:
Six-hundred-ninety-two worlds
Five dwarf planets
Eight, some of us know

And four-hundred-sixty-two moons!
Places we should go!

Let’s visit far neighbors!
The Jovian skies
With more than mere cameras!
With human naked eye

Like children and fishes
Pets chained to rocks
Are feral
Though great

Must Go
To the stars!


Photo: NASA/Astronaut Ken Mattingly


Ah, the power of that star
The Queen draw in these foci
In our orbit tight

Reminding us…

(in emeralds
deceptive and so bright

weaving dreams of wonder)

… who is in control

even in a night

Hidden from Her life-
And climate- making chore

Of creating

©︎ Copyright 2021 Carl Atteniese II / All rights reserved ®︎

Thanks to Ray Teurfs for an eye toward verbiage.

 Continue reading Aurora	

Tony Watkins

Thinking Sideways: Intelligently And with Love

Tony Watkins graduated from Stuyvesant High School in New York City, earning his Masters from The Pacific School of Oriental Medicine with a specialty in acupuncture. He has published a book of Haiku, which can be found at Amazon under his name.

Mr. Watkins is the quintessential copacetic funny, light-hearted, healing intellect and friend.

I caught up with this trend-setting, world-trotting, bilingual, former expatriate ESL teacher, original thinker and offbeat-fashion-sense maven in New York City where he hails from—via Skype—from Tokyo.

Listen, laugh, learn and brighten your day as Tony expounds on the psychology of good and bad impulses and how we may channel them, the “unexplored Trump,” the fate of the Democratic candidates, his former lives in China, Mongolia and Korea, his English teaching, relationship advice, lessons for language acquisition, his wonderful pet lizard, Jerry and much more. He also reads from his book of Haiku and recites another beautiful poem.

Tony is a friend of mine and a wise, insightful, witty and multi-eye-wear-sporting ingenious friend of yours, too (you just don’t know it yet)! So you have to get to know him (and to know Tony is to love Tony—because he loves you, too). He also has some special recommendations in the areas of healing, good books and good music. So listen “good!”

Pick A Good Religion

We all talk about what happens when we die. I met a wise man at the top of Bukhan Mountain in Korea, once, and this is what he told me—about where the followers of different religions go, when they pass away, or die, or whatever happens when the brain and heart stop doing what they do:

The Christians go to a resort in the sky, if they’re sorry for having been jerks and profess to believe. If they’re not, they stay at a place something like the sun–forever. And God makes them non-destructible at that point—you know, so they don’t burn up but are able to feel pain.

The Jews don’t go anywhere. They become their own advocates and litigate outside the gates of either place. The reason they don’t get muscled in is no one wants to cross them. They are good in a fight, make good movies and, you never know when you’re going to need a lawyer.

The Buddhists have unlimited lives, but if they’re pains in the ass, they come back as worms, or dogs, or North Koreans. Or  almost worse, they come back as dogs in traditional villages in South Korea, where they are a delicacy.

The Muslims have the best deal. They have to be good–which may include being involved in Mission Impossible-style military campaigns for political causes, which may include suicide, but the rewards are great for this. If they die during one, I hear they go to a place like the Playboy mansion in the sky. If they are bad, they have to hang out with infidels at Fox.

Taoists hitch a ride on a meteor, which mysteriously leaves the atmosphere without crashing, hitched to a flying dragon–who then takes them to some wine and opium-filled after-party in another galaxy.

Atheists just die.

Agnostics sort of die, sort of go to Heaven (where they are rewarded by God for being honest), and sort of go to Hell–on a rotating basis. I hear it’s like riding a merry-go-round through a segmented circle, with parts being like a sex shop, an inferno, and a Woody Allen movie.

Deists go to The God Buffet and have a membership card to all realms–which they can visit at will, but can never stay at permanently. They tend to hang out with the spirits of the Jihadist Muslims at the Playboy Mansion in the sky. Even the women.

Jainists own the whole shebang. Yeah, unbelievable, right? All the realms of the afterlife are concessions, owned by those vegetarian pacifists. I don’t know where they live after death. I think it is some big floating resort called “In Your Face, Nirvana,”  orbiting another star in the constellation, Virgo.

Hindus are the limo drivers and the Sufis are the therapists and yoga instructors.

Shintoists just go on tending those sublime shrines and go to sleep at night in the rocks, the trees and the creatures in the breeze.

Nobody knows what happens to American Indians. I think they just continue on as great spirits in the form of living peyote smoke or drum rhythms & chants–everywhere.


© Copyright 2015 Carl Atteniese II, AKA ‘Mando’, All rights reserved.

This was satire.



Will make you

Chase happiness

If you want to be healthy and have it

It will make you forget, if you can

And find it in whom—and where

You can


Will make you suffer, forever

Opening yourself

to them

To find some wisdom of the finality

Torturously captured by her

Though this muse is gone, again and again

Or else you’ll never know
Why you must keeping searching

And you’ll fall and fall, here then and again

Even if because you have to hurl yourself over it

Where you meet your death in flight

Seeking those charms

In another

Until you’re alone

And remember

That happiness is right—then

Until there’s silence—again

And you love them and hate them

And it won’t end

Not even when you have not the urge to care

I Don’t

I Don’t…

… mind, listening to a ‘grown’ man cry

… tell him to “man-up”

… relish the strength of a man
surreptitiously trained
out of fear

… respect the ignorance of a man
beaten by society into stupidity

… defend his ‘need’
to be unfeeling

… like that women
often take advantage
of a man’s DNA-driven focus
or of his love,
expecting princely treatment
yet display themselves
to the better bidder, simultaneously…
then often leave for him–
only to return when they see
how shallow and stupid,
and dishonorable this is…
all the while asking for

I Don’t

… like that in this country, Korea,
most everyone perpetuates
the naiveté
of women
including the women,
nor that this is all
to serve the stupidity
of most of the men
(or, their ignorance)–
and their sense of entitlement,
which makes
kingdom-less princesses
out of most of the women

I Don’t

… defend a woman who tortures
a man,
regardless of her reasons
in fear:
of abandonment,
in experience of insufficient support
or even in the pain of the loss of love

I Don’t
lack any compassion
for stupid men and women, and

I Don’t
like using the word ‘stupid,’
but the outcome
of society is largely
ubiquitous stupidity
and men and women perpetuate
so I name it what it is


I Don’t
like that stupidity rules most human life–
and man-made female-naiveté–
or that it all trumps love

I Don’t
… like that a people can live amidst
space-age technology
and still emote like cavemen

I Don’t
… like that tens of thousands of men
suffered the horrors of war,
so people around me–now
and forever–can live in luxury,
nor that they seek to deny it
and forget it,
because the nations that paid for
that freedom benefit

I Don’t
… like that my blood:
my dear uncle;
a lover, a brother, a son, a beloved and an artist, a poet, a musician…
saw his friends killed, here
and went mad for a time, himself
… that he sweat through dreams
of that hell
for the rest of his life–-
so horrid, that he couldn’t visit me, here
or the man that was an orphan boy
whom my soldier-uncle raised
on Geohjae Island–
when the nightmare was real,
and bad dreams were a respite from the real horror of battle–
and I don’t like that I am disrespected
by the children of those my uncle saved,
because I share his nationality

I Don’t
… like that my and other nations
preach peace and democracy
but do not teach it
so after the horrors
tribalism prevails

I Don’t
… like that my nation killed 3,000
Jeju-ans, because
they looked communist

I Don’t
… like that my nation
torched sixty Japanese cities
and dropped the rage of the sun
on two more of them
for the horrors Japan committed–
and to frighten the world–
nor that the Koreans think
the Japanese didn’t pay

I Don’t
like that we dropped
chemical weapons
on the Vietnamese,
and that the Koreans helped,
because we paid them–
yet they rail about the cruelty
of the Japanese

I Don’t
… like that I and my friends
and family
paid for these and other wars,
which aren’t only for freedom,
nor that we have to stay here,
but I know
there wouldn’t be ‘a here’
if we didn’t,
and I wish you appreciated it

I Don’t
,,, like that the rest of my life
is painted one color
because of happenstance–
And I don’t mind crying

Copyright © 2015 Carl Atteniese, All rights reserved.


A Note About This Poem to Feminists:
If you find offense in that I generalize about women, I applaud your sentiments that are aligned in issues of equality. However, I would not agree with you if you were to say that I should negate my experience as an expatriate resident in a Confucian country, where the roles of women were maddeningly codified and thus quite in line with what I have conveyed in this writing.

Now, I have often struggled with how to describe my subjects without offending, but simultaneously struggled to impart a message to a definite group exhibiting definite behaviors that are deleterious to the human soul–so, as I penned words about my experience and pain of living in South Korea, I often bent to remove the label of that country (but herein re-introduced it) to avoid having to deal with the ignorant charge of “racism” (I despise having to bend to the use of that stupid word!). Had I not used the name of the country here, I might have prevented this moment, because you would not feel I am labeling the behavior of all women, but that of those in a group.

Alas, the truth is, some women in all cultures do what I have described in this poem, and I am not obligated to make that statement of gendered behavior neutral, because it is poetry, not sociological dissertation that I write. In addition, were no women in the experience of others found to act as I have described, and had only the women in my life acted that way, then I would still have the right to describe those women as “women” and be justified as a poet in doing it. Finally, it would not, as my writing now does not, make me sexist. It only makes me human, describing human experiences. I am not sexist; I am honest, forgiving, and descriptive.