“For a moment we are closer | in our sorrow than we’ve ever been.” ~ Joan Selinger Sidney from “Next Door”

                   

“I think our country sinks beneath the yoke;
It weeps, it bleeds, and each new day a gash
Is added to her wounds.” ~ William Shakespeare, from Macbetth (IV,iii)

Help Me to Salt, Help Me to Sorrow*

In the moon-fade and the sun’s puppy breath,
in the crow’s plummeting cry,
in my broken foot and arthritic joints,
memory calls me
to the earth’s opening, the graves dug, again, and again
I, always I am left
to turn away
into a bat’s wing-brush of air.

That never changes . . .
not this morning, not here

where I’ve just found
in the back of my truck, under the rubber mat,
in a teacup’s worth of dirt,
where it seems no seed could possibly be
a corn kernel split to pale leaves and string-roots.

It’s a strange leap but I make it
and bend to these small harvests

because somewhere in North Carolina there was a house
and in it, my room and my bed,
bare boards and the blood stains of a man
that in each slant rain’s worried whispers puddles to the cries of a slave,
murdered in 1863 trying to escape.

Somewhere there was a child who slept
on the living room’s red-vinyl couch

who still matters

especially now that I can’t remember when the creek
that bounded our family farm led to an ocean
or when a boxcar’s weather-wasted letters spelling Illinois
meant somewhere there was an Illinois.

It’s still 1976–
the day after I’ve been seen playing tennis
with a black boy, and it seems I will always
be held at gunpoint and beaten
as if the right punch would chunk out his name.

——–

No, it’s 1969–
The year my mother becomes a wax paste,
or so she looks to the child I was,

and she drips into the pink satin
and I learned the funereal smell of carnations.
That year the moon was still made of green cheese.
That year men first bagged and labeled that moon.

There are no years, only the past
and I still don’t know why Odell Horne
pulled a shotgun on my brother
or how the body contains so much blood.
I still don’t know why Donna Hill went to Myrtle Beach
and three days later came back dead.

For ten years I lived with Louise Stegall,
the lover of my father, one of her four men, all buried–
suicide, murder, drink, again murder.
It was after the second one that she sat stock still
and silent, four years in the asylum.
Now she walks the road all day,
picking up Cracker Jack trinkets
to give to children
brave enough to approach her.

When I was nine, the starling pecked outside her window a whole week.
Somebody’s gonna die, she said
and made me hug Uncle Robert’s neck
as if I couldn’t know he’d be gone in two hours,
as if I hadn’t learned anything about people
and their vanishing.
The last time I saw her she wouldn’t look at me,
jerked her sweatshirt’s hood across
her face and stepped into the ditch,
as though there are some things even she won’t tell,
as though I’ve never known it’s dirt and dust after all–
the earth’s sink and the worms’ castings.

——–

With the wet leaves thick on my steps,
the evening sky bruised dull gray to black,

when I’ve spilt salt and as the saying goes the sorrow and tears,
and the stove is cold so salt won’t burn,
tell me my pocket of charms can counter any spell.

Tell me again the reason for my grandfather’s fingers
afloat in the Mason jar on the fireplace mantel
between the snuff tin and the bowl of circus peanuts.
What about the teeth in the dresser bureau,
the sliver of back bone I wear around my neck?

Again the washed-out photo in the family album,
Pacific wind lifting the small waves onto Coral Beach,
clicking the palm trees’ fronds.
Again my father’s rakish grin,
his bayonet catching a scratch of sun,
his left foot propped on the stripped and bloodied body.

Behind him, a stack of Japanese.

——–

Let me believe in anything.
Doesn’t the grizzled chicken dig up hoodoo hands?
Won’t the blue door frame, the basket of acorns protect me;
what about the knife in a pail of water?

When giving me the dead’s slippered feet
room to room,
why not also synchronicity’s proof,
a wish and the tilted ears of angels?

I want to believe in the power of rosemary
knuckled along the fence
even as the stars order themselves
to an unalterable and essential law.
I want the wind-whipped leaves to settle
and the flattened scrub to right itself,
want the loose tin in the neighbor’s shed
to finish its message.

When this season in its scoured exactitude shifts closer,
give me Devil’s Blue Boletus through the piled leaves,
the slender green of Earth Tongue,
phosphorescent Honey Tuft dispatched by the dead.

Their voices coming nearer, almost deciphered.

Whatever lies you have
there in that nail-clipping of time,
give them to me.

~ Judy Jordan

*To see poem with original spacing, which I cannot replicate here, click on link.

“Sleep no more . . .” ~ Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Hitting a Brick Wall, image by Janson Jones of Floridana Alaskiana

 

“Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep’, the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast . . . ”  ~ William Shakespeare (Macbeth II,2)

Just a quick update. I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in many nights/days. Today, I had a caudal injection at my Pain Management Center and have spent the day in bed on the heating pad, napping fitfully.

Sorry not to be posting, but I feel absolutely useless. The picture above reflects my current state perfectly: I feel as if I hit a brick wall while traveling 100 mph. Discombobulated, ringing in my ears, throbbing muscles. Not a pretty sight. Hope to be able to post something more meaningful tomorrow, perhaps.

Until then, more later. Peace.

Classic by Sam Cooke: “A Change is Gonna Come”

 

“When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.” ~ Chinese Proverb

Moonrise Long Key Florida by JJ

Moonrise on Long Key State Park, Florida by Janson Jones

“Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn’t matter. I’m not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for.” ~ Alice Walker 

Okay, so I’m back. Finally.

Brett’s last day of 11th grade was Friday. Eamonn’s graduation is tomorrow afternoon at 3. I am looking forward to Eamonn graduating, but I am not looking forward to the actual physical aspect of the ceremony. Huge crowd, people all together in the convocation center, hunting for parking. I can feel my claustrophobia setting in already. But it’s all for a good cause.

Brown Noddy Garden Key by JJ
Brown Noddy, Garden Key, Florida by Janson Jones

I told Eamonn that we wanted to take pictures of him in his cap and gown before we leave. Of course, he is not looking forward to that.  Trying to get Eamonn to stand still for five minutes to take a picture is almost impossible. He bitches the entire time. We did pick up his senior portraits, though, and he is quite handsome, if I do say so.

My niece graduates on Tuesday, and my old friend Chris’s son Gordon, who is the same age as Eamonn, graduates on Wednesday. May I just pause here to say how fricking old this makes me feel.

So in an effort to make myself feel a bit better, I gave myself a manicure and pedicure. I’m trying to keep myself from taking scissors to my hair again. One of these days, I’ll be able to visit Cathy so that she can fix the haircut I gave myself. Until then, I hide the flaws with the waves. It’s much harder to see an uneven cut when the hair is wavy and dark.

“Love the moment. Flowers grow out of dark moments. Therefore, each moment is vital. It affects the whole. Life is a succession of such moments and to live each, is to succeed.” ~ Corita Kent 

All of the pictures in this blog are from Janson Jones’s Floridana Alaskiana blog. He spent several weeks back in Florida a few weeks ago, and he has been posting some wonderful pictures.

Crocodile Lake Nat Wildlife Refuge Key Largo by JJ
Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Key Largo by Janson Jones

I thought that I would share some selections with you in tonight’s post. The images are from several areas of Florida, and include birds, toads, frogs, moonrise, sunset, and several other wonderful subjects. To see what Janson has posted so far, click on the link.

I love this picture to the left. Everything is so verdant and lush, and there is an air of mystery about the whole location—as if in walking down this path, you are walking back in time, into the wilderness.

Speaking of which, I had a horrible dream last night in which I took my camera and started beating it against a metal porch rail. It was horrible. Actually, the whole dream was horrible, full of betrayals, lies, violence and broken glass. Anyone want to interpret that one?

As always, I told Corey about my dream once I woke up, but it was one of those weird ones where you can wake up and then fall back to sleep, and the dream continues. I always think that when that happens the dream is more meaningful somehow. But how exactly? I have no idea. But I always end up feeling disconcerted for the whole day when I have a dream like that.

“Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.” ~ Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Star Trek: The Next Generation 

In helping Brett to get his work completed for the end of the year, I reread Macbeth and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. One of my graduate classes was a special seminar on Conrad. I don’t remember the exact reason why I needed three credits that I couldn’t get from the regular schedule, but I got approval to do an independent study.

Broad Headed Skink Blackwater Creek Florida
Broad Headed Skink, Blackwater creek, Florida by Janson Jones

The advisor they gave me was J. J. McNalley. He was a character, spoke in quotes all of the time. I liked the man tremendously, but would have preferred someone else for my advisor. J. J. thought that it would be splendid if I did research on Joseph Conrad. I would have preferred Virgina Woolf.

But I digress . . .

“Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life.” ~ George Sand

After I reread Heart of Darkness I started to think about Apocalypse Now. So I rewatched the movie. Although, the movie itself is still hard to watch. It is so full of violence and disillusionment. Just like the real Viet Nam war.

My favorite part is still the air cav guy played by Robert Duvall. I think that the Lt. Colonel Kilgore is probably my favorite Duvall role. He plays it to perfection.

Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz is written to mirror Conrad’s Kurtz, but instead of ivory, the movie’s Kurtz is collecting people, souls. The movie plays Kurtz as having a mesmerizing voice, just like the Kurtz in the book. Brandon’s voice is perfect. The epic line, “The horror. The horror,” resonates.

“Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Eastern Six-Lined Racerunner Bahia Honda Key by JJ
Eastern Six-Lined Racerunner, Honda Key, Florida by Janson Jones

Other than that, Brett and I have watched Harry Potter 5 and 4 in anticipation of the release of The Half-Blood Prince. Yes, I like Harry Potter, and yes, I’ve read all of the books, at least three times. I’m actually quite sad that there won’t be any more additions to the series. The characters in the books grew up with each new book in the series, and I really admire the way Rowling made each successive book darker, keeping in mind that her audience was getting older, and the story necessitated moving from 11-year-old concerns to encounters with truly foul individuals, like Dolores Umbridge.

Yes, the basic story is about good versus evil, but characters like Umbridge are perfect antagonists for students: the teacher with the treacly sweet voice and the imperviousness to common decency. The one who addresses a room full of teenagers as “boys and girls.” Blech! Just thinking about this character makes my skin crawl.

That being said, I’m looking forward to the next installment of the movie version, even though we all know that it has an incredibly sad ending.

Other movies that I’m looking forward to are Inglorious Basterds, with Brad Pitt, and Public Enemies, with Johnny Depp. No. It’s not for the eye candy. Quentin Tarantino directed Basterds (yes, with an e), and Michael Mann directed Public Enemies. I love both directors and am hoping for a couple of good action movies that don’t involve large robots.

I know. It seems that I like both ends of the spectrum, but really, I’m pretty much at the action end unless it involves Tolkien, Star Trek, or something to do with literature. And no, I haven’t had a chance to see the new Star Trek. I’m still debating over that one. It’s hard to let go of the originals, even though I hear that the update is pretty solid.

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Mediterranean Gecko Mt Dora Florida JJ
Mediterranean Gecko, Mt Dora, Florida by Janson Jones

And just let me finish by saying that I don’t have anything to wear to my son’s graduation. Oh, I have a closet full of clothes, but I feel like a sausage in everything that I own, which reminds me of a post that I read on Zirgar’s Fresh New Brain Squeezin’s. Zirgar delved into that sensitive area of being overweight.

Perhaps delve isn’t the correct word choice. It was more like broached the subject with a sledgehammer. It did remind me of the fact that I live in an area that is replete with woman in stretch pants, and shall we just say that stretch pants are not the most flattering attire for their body shapes?

Why do people do that? Seriously, why, or even how does a very large woman push herself into purple stretch capris with a cropped top? Now before you get riled, this is not an indictment on people who are overweight. I have no room to speak on this particular issue as I am carrying around more poundage than I like. What I’m talking about are people who choose to wear clothes that are too tight, too revealing, too skanky, too young, and too fugly for words.

I know that ordinary people do not have extraordinary loads of cash to spend on clothes when they are just trying to get by. But I shop in Target. I know that you can look on the 50 percent off rack and find a nice shirt for $7, a nice skirt for $8, a t-shirt that actually fits for $4. If you are going to buy clothes anyway, could you at least buy clothes that fit, or that are flattering, or cover up most of the private parts of your body?

Am I being too harsh? I don’t mean to be. I suppose I just don’t understand certain mindsets. Of course, if you are perfectly comfortable with your body, that’s great. If you are overweight, no one is saying that you have to hide in the house. I have worked with a few overweight people who dress to the nines and have wardrobes that made me salivate.

For me, the issue is not the weight or the body shape. The issue is fugly, ill-fitting clothes. Unless you are Rush Limbaugh . . .

Then the issue is not bouncing on your toes and making your egg-shaped body look like a Weeble (as in “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”).

Great Egret Lower Matecumbe Key Fl by JJ
Great Egret, Lower Matecumbe Key, Florida by Janson Jones

Aren’t you glad that I used this beautiful picture instead of a picture of Rush?

And with that, I shall close. More later. Peace.

I Truly Do Not Understand What Has Happened To The Milk of Human Kindness

black-angel-of-council-bluffs-cropped

The Black Angel of Council Bluffs

The Truth is More Horrible Than Fiction

He Deserved More Dignity in Death

In Bay City, Michigan, a 93-year-old man froze to death inside of his home because the electric company had put a limiting device to limit the amount of electricity the man could use becaue of $1,000 in unpaid electric bills. The temperature in the house dropped below 32° Fahrenheit, and Marvin E. Schur died “a slow, painful death,” said Kanu Virani, Oakland County’s deputy chief medical examiner, according to an AP report.

Schur died of hypothermia, which he would have felt first in his extremeties as a burning sensation in his fingers and toes. Hypothermia causes a gradul shutting down of the body’s whole system. Schur was found by a neighbor on Monday morning.

Merry Christmas Sage and Bear

In Jerome, Idaho, on Christmas Day, Robert Aragon set out with his two children, 11-year-old Sage, and 12-year-old Bear, to take them to their mother’s house just one town away. The temperatures were bone-chillingly cold, and there were snowdrifts on the side of the road. Soon, Aragon’s truck became trapped in one of the snowdrifts. Instead of wrapping up his children while he worked on digging out his truck, Aragon decided to choose another solution: He had his children get out of the truck and start walking the remaining 10 miles towards their mother’s house.

Sometime after the children had been put out of the truck and told to start the long walk down the country road, Aragon managed to get his truck free. Good new, right? Did the caring father drive as fast as he could to pick up his children?

NO. He drove back home to Jerome. The children’s mother called to say that they had never arrived. Please note that this means that this cretin of a human being had never even bothered to see if his children had arrived. When authorities found Aragon around 10 p.m., he was at the site where he had put the children out of the truck.

Unbelievable, comments are divided on Aragon’s decision. Some people are trying to be forgiving:  “Who knows what went through his mind? It’s just so sad,” said Ron Choate, who owns a diner in Jerome. “Sure, the dad was dumb to let them walk, but he probably didn’t think something bad was going to happen.”

Others are less kind: “I am sure that the jail cell Mr. Aragon is now occupying is much warmer at night than the snow bank he provided for his daughter,” Pat Brownfield of nearby Twin Falls wrote in a letter to the local newspaper.

Within hours after the children began walking, Sage, dressed in pink pajama pants, a shirt, snow boots and a down coat, was dead from hypothermia. Bear was luckier. When he was found, he was wearing only his long underwear. He had become delusional from the hypothermia, and was found in a deserted, single-stall rest stop more than 4 miles from where the children started walking.

Snowdrifts at the site where Bear was found were around four feet high, and rescuers had to climb over the drifts to get to the boy.

But this is not the end of the story. Also in the car with Aragon on the night was his cousin. Both men face up to life in prison for second degree murder and felony injury to a child. A judge later dismissed charges against the uncle.

When I read this, what I could not believe were the number of comments from people who were arguing for Aragon, saying what a good man he was, how “a jail sentence is too harsh.” I find these comments simply unbelievable. A good man, a good father, does not put his children out in frigid temperatures, dressed in pajama pants to walk ten miles. A good father, upon freeing his truck, does not turn around and drive home.

Of course we do not have all of the facts in this case as to why the children were living with their father and not their mother, why their mother did not go searching for the children when she found out they were missing. There are a lot of glaring omissions to this story. But two key facts stand out:

Fact number one: He took his children out in the cold and put them out of the truck. 

Fact number two: He did not go and get them when he dug out his truck. No. He went home.

I, for one, am totally without words.

(From the AP. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090113/ap_on_re_us/death_in_the_snow)

It’s Not My Job

In December in Brighton, England, two Emergency Medical Technicians had a discussion on whether or not they should perform their job, that being whether to attempt to resuscitate 59-year-old Barry Baker, according to The Times of London. An unidentified source said that the EMT’s arrived in reponse to a call that Baker had placed in November after suffering a heart attack.

But after entering the building the two technicians were dismayed by the condition of the building and wondered aloud whether Baker was “worth saving.” Unfortunately for the technicians, Baker had never hung up the 999 emergency call, so everything that they were saying was being recorded, every petty, horrible, inhumane little piece of tripe that oozed from their shiftless, judgmental lips was recorded for posterity so that now, the entire rest of the world can sit in judgment of them.

(from UPI.com, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2008/12/31/EMT_workers_arrested_in_British_death/UPI-55681230750341/).

And Through It All, We Pray to Remain on the Side of the Saints and the Angels

308px-ellen_terry_at_lady_macbeth

Lady Macbeth feared for her husband because in her estimation, he was weak. He had too much kindness in him:

“Yet doe I feare thy Nature, It is too full o’ th’ Milke of humane kindnesse.”

And it was true. He did not have the blood-letting capacity innate to his wife. But in the end, it drove her mad.

These people who treat life as if it is a coin to be tossed so lightly, bear it without the weight of its consequence. Why surely, God cannot “send to eternal pain a man who has done something toward improving the condition of his fellow-man. If he can, I had rather go to hell than to heaven and keep company with such a god” (Robert Ingersoll).

These people, these faceless companies who have not a thought for the lives they place in the balance when they put ignominious limitations on life-giving heat should be forced to sit in houses in which the temperature dips below 15º Farenheit, and no one looks in on them except for during the “thick night . . . and dunnest smoke of hell” (Lady Macbeth, Macbeth).

The man who makes a choice wholly inconceivable, disposes of children like small animals, left thoughtlessly by the roadside to freeze in the snow, “For a plot hatched in hell, don’t expect angels for witnesses” (Attorney Robert Perry, making summation to trial of John DeLorean).

“My whole soul pants for light and relief on these questions. But I get neither; and in the distress and anguish of my own spirit, I confess that I see no light whatever. I see not one ray to disclose to me why sin came into the world; why the earth is strewn with the dying and the dead; and why man must suffer to all eternity. I have never seen a particle angel-wingsof light thrown on these subjects, that has given a moment’s ease to my tortured mind . . . I confess, when I look on a world of sinners and sufferers-upon death-beds and grave-yards-upon the world of woe filled with hosts to suffer forever: when I see my friends, my family, my people, my fellow citizens when I look upon a whole race, all involved in this sin and danger—and when I see the great mass of them wholly unconcerned, and when I feel that God only can save them, and yet he does not do so, I am stuck dumb. It is all dark, dark, dark to my soul, and I cannot disguise it”  (Albert Barnes).

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” ~ Dante Alighieri 

There is no more need for words. Peace.