Verse on Burning Man

Verse — Remembering Burning Man
After a Year at age 72

Experience it, don’t observe it.
Participate, give gifts to others–
nothing is for sale. An empty desert
is the frame, the canvas, the gallery–
see art appear out of the blowing
Nevada playa dust. Huge temporary
sculptures, many that will blaze with flames
to the skies, paid for by previous fees
to attend, and gifts of time, and effort.

70,000 people last year brought costumes,
creativity, music, dancing, humor (yes,
alcohol & other drugs), but although
there were over 900 bars giving away
free shots and cocktails & wine & beer,
I saw no fights, no violence, no sexual
harassment. Art cars glide slowly past–
a huge dragon breathing flames
with 50 folks on board,
An Amish horse and buggy
powered by solar batteries,
a bicycle rider pulling a wagon carrying
a sousaphone: he stops, plays, flames
shoot out the huge brass bell…

The week of Labor Day, every year
for the last 30. Some folks have gotten rich,
others spend more than they can afford
to buy entrance tickets, travel from around
the world, live in tents & ride bikes & walk
for hours in this modern garden of earthy
delights, or depravity–your choice.
A temporary utopia? or first-world narcissism?
Don’t analyze, dance with 4,000 souls
under the moon to the same song.
Hear others a mile away hearing you.

  • Steve Shoemaker, August 10, 2015


Verse – Burning Man (A Negative Acrostic)

Burners all must have real money,
Unless they will win the draw.
Rich folks flock to wear the funny
Nighttime costumes, whites will all
Imitate the best black dance moves,
Not that many blacks are there…
Get the best rental motor homes,

Make plans, we have time to spare
Art’s in our homes, our museums:
Narcissistic, not a care…

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, August 31, 2014

Steve attended Burning Man 2014 in Nevada this past week. Steve’s 71, had the money to go, but shared a tent. ┬áHe wrote by email “I did accapella singing, heard great jazz, rode on an art car (see the web site). I would only go back in an RV… For the quiet, AC, & clean toilet & shower.”

Grandpa and the Grand-kids

Verse – Ten and Twelve

The high-caffeine pop was a mistake…
but when the older asked for it,
the younger had to have it, too.
The ping-pong chatter natter
never stopped. Good-natured,
but louder and shriller (I turned down,
then took out my hearing aids…)
Day 5 of our week caring for
the grand-kids. Their parents
love going to Burning Man–
what’s temporary noise
in the service of Art?

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, September 2, 2013