The old oak tree dropped a limb
across the wall our father built
Unstacked stones and rising guilt
in the shadow of a fading giant
How many years since we last went
to stand beside the polished onyx
and listen to the broken promise . . .
This, all this is yours,
if you can keep it.
But fathers' worlds are not for keeping
Their dreams just rust while we are sleeping
No man owns what he did not make,
but dead men have no claims to stake
The stones from father's wall will be
a fine foundation for my garden shed.
At a hospital just outside of Washington, you showed up four minutes after the polls had closed.
I could hear the election results being reported on the T.V. at the nurse's station down the hall.
You cried and they whisked you away to a corner of the room. They weighed you and measured you and cleared your nose. They cleaned you and you cried.
Your mother laid exhausted but smiling.
A nurse handed you to me and you cried.
I sat and held your head close to my chest so you could hear my heartbeat.
You stopped crying and we rocked and listened . . . to the silence, to our heartbeats, and to the election results faintly wafting through the hall from the nurse's station.
Caught between the cold gray rocks and a cold gray ocean
Still breathing, living . . . there is hope,
Hanging on at the edge of yesterday in the shadows of steeples, spires, grand marble pillars, and the homes of men long dead,
Men who did not stay caught between New England’s dark winter and the sea
Hanging on at the edge of the Atlantic
Lashed in place with a tattered line, strong enough to hold but frayed enough that the knots will never be undone.
Hanging on at the edge of the Atlantic,
Watching ships fall off the horizon toward a warm and raising sun.
Climb the hill above the village and the harbor
You’ll find a toy train set laid out on a green carpet
An imagined station master moving pieces from here to there and back again.
Cars following improbable paths
Lives invented and then passed
Ships at sea sunk on the whims of a child.
Climb the hill above the village and the harbor and you’ll see.
Old woman, I cannot help you.
I would like nothing more than to bend the universe to your will,
But the universe belongs to a gang of thugs, and
They have no interest in your small concerns,
Yes, yes, yes, old woman,
we will do what’s right.
To put your mind at ease,
We will do what they do not want us doing,
Maybe the thugs are sleeping.
We set out when we shouldn’t have
Dark clouds threatened.
But we reasoned
strong winds push and pull faster than a gentle breeze.
When time is of the essence,
Men make foolish choices.
When reading the clock, but not the tide,
Men . . . and nations make costly mistakes.
The wind blows hard along the shore
Fathers and sons and uncles fish
Astonishing proportions reveal themselves from beneath the waves
Frightening proportions, things too large to live on land
Shapes too strange to have survived
And yet no stranger than those young boys imagine between the stars reflected between the ripples on the sea
Sharks strike hard and fast
Too fast to see them coming in the dark
They come from below and startle you
They’ll bump the boat and move on
Or they’ll take the line
Either way, a young boy feels lucky.
“Kick the pile,” he yelled.
“What have we got?” he shouted from the wheelhouse.
“Some porgies, a monkfish, and lot of Butters . . . Oh, shit,” came the reply
The fish grunted as it clamped its teeth around my foot.
Not to be undone, I stabbed with a fish pick to its eye, grabbed its tail and flung it
"That shark was worth $300!” he bellowed from the wheelhouse.
“Have you still got all your toes?”
I am the beach
For as long as I remember, waves have crashed against my soul
Pebbles have gently pelted every corner of my being
The granite cliff that once stood here has subsided
And been replaced by fine gray sand that plays and dances in the roiling waters as they come ashore
I am the beach
And you are my ocean
Through our long entanglement you have rearranged me and made me what I am.
The gate to the old basketball court is broken
Its hinges have rusted and the wood frame is gray from weathering
The ghosts of laughing children, now Boston lawyers, play in the sun
As an old man watches from the window
The woods have begun to encroach
And the deer have taken to nibbling at the shoots growing between the crakes in the asphalt
It was only yesterday he laid out the survey lines and dug the soil and broke the stones to make the ground level enough to keep a ball from rolling down the hill.
“I’ve been lucky. It lasted long enough.”
What’s mine is mine,
What’s yours is yours,
That’s fair now, isn’t it?
What was my daddy’s is now mine because he gave it to me,
What was your daddy’s is now yours,
It’s a pity he had so little to give, now isn’t it?
What was my great granddaddy’s is now mine because he took it from an Indian,
What was your great granddaddy’s is now mine because he was an Indian,
It wasn’t fair, but then is not now and we can’t change the past,
Not to worry though,
The government will let you build a shiny new casino,
So, what’s mine might someday be yours,
But not if I can help you pick the pockets of fools whose granddaddies came after mine,
Maybe we can get the government to shut the schoolhouse doors,
Then the sons of fools won’t do the math at your Black Jack tables.
I am them,
They are me,
We are one,
But they do not see!
I'm Rob Zarnetske, a decorated and forward-thinking leader with 27+ years of experience in public service, government administration, public policy development, and implementation. I'm a dedicated and community-driven professional who knows that excellent public service is only possible when public servants focus on the needs and well being of the people.
I've been lucky enough to build a career solving problems for real people using the leadership skills, critical thinking, and decision-making abilities I've developed along the way to promote a culture of inclusion, transparency & self-accountability.
As a professional, I like to think I possess the exceptional ability to quickly and correctly assess problems from both a strategic legal and business perspective to bring pragmatic solutions to complex civil issues. Throughout my career, I have a proven record of accomplishments at every level of government. My achievements are underpinned by three pillars: leadership, management, and innovation.
As a person, I am passionate about strengthening public institutions and civil society. I've become highly skilled at influencing behavior at all levels to improve civil performance and realize strategic goals. I build organizations like I build stone walls (the one on the home page is one of mine -- the star too). Success comes, not by forcing the stones; it comes by carefully looking to see what fits and then making the match.