Blood runs through it

May 5, 2015

RobinNest

It not very often that a man can see

such a sight as this little nest in a tree

woven among branches, for free.

An ole fella showed it to me.

 

One of those rusty little robin mamas hath done this;

She been hoppin around on grass

pluckin up worms and strands and God only knows

what all she be extractin for these little critters to eat.

 

Why just a little while back

when I was achin for spring to pop out

she come hoppin around like she own the place.

Now look what she done.

 

As I look at this wonder in the tree

three little miracles do I see:

that tweeky yellow beak, fully formed it seems to me,

quite prickly in the midst of that soft bird infancy,

 

and a fat vessel where birdie’s red blood I see

in this miniscule critter balled up in sibling idiocy

as these clueless hatchlings await their turn

to grab from mama beak a big fat worm,

or two.

Who knew?

 

And number three wonder is the vigilant care

with which mama robin hath woven this nest so fair.

She must really love them little critters in there,

dispensing her care from out of thin air.

 

Now somewhere deep in my memory

someone said only God can make a tree;

now I’m amazed he grew this tree here for me

so I can view such new life from mama birdie.

 

Glass Chimera

I wanna know what happen to Freddie Gray

May 2, 2015

Now I don’t know but I been told

that we Americans got a right that we hold:

from unreasonable searches and seizures we are free,

’cause the 4th Amendment say that the way it should be.

 

Now we don’t know what happen to Freddie Gray

but we know he didn’t survive that day

when three cops from Baltimore PD

hauled him in on some charge that no one did see.

 

They said he had a switchblade that’s illegal,

but State’s attorney said he had a pocket knife, legal.

Without probable cause those cops hauled Freddie in,

but he didn’t survive it; it seems like a sin.

 

Now I know its wrong that a riot later ensued

but that don’t change the fact that Freddie was abused.

So I think it appropriate that somehow, some way:

the people of America need to know what happen to Freddie that day.

 

It was a medical examiner, you see,

who examined Freddie’s fatal injury,

and called it not self-inflicted, but homicide.

So in a court of Law, the cops should be tried.

 

We need to know–it needs to be tried–

if Freddy’s death was justified.

We need to know what happen to Freddie that day;

this can’t be like Mike Brown’s case where they never would say.

 

Glass half-Full

Be aware of Greeks bearing debts

April 25, 2015

Greece is, you see, the opposite of California, and I’ll tell you why.

The first thing is: Greece is very old. California is, on the other hand, very new.

The “West”–that is to say, California and all the rest of us New World types– actually started in Greece about three thousand years ago. Greece was the “West” because it was westward from what was, in ancient times, the Old Country, the region we now call the Middle East, or Levant, or Holy Land, depending on your point of view.

Long ago, after Alexander and his military legacy turned the Persians back at the battle of Marathon, long about 490 b.c.e., the people of the Greek city-states began joining together to form an historical entity that we now call Ancient Greece.

And since that time, the whole thing of Greek culture moved westward and northward over a couple of millennia  of time. The great thrust of Western thought, anchored in a mental discipline called philosophy and a political idea called Democracy,  inspired empires and nations from those ancient days until the present day.

We still dream about governing ourselves in this thing call a democracy, but it has never quite manifested in a way authentic to the original concept.

Probably never will, but it’s a nice thought.

A  couple hundred years after the Greek Golden Age, the Romans came along with their Republic and their empire. Much of their marvelously innovative empire-building was rooted in Greek thought and mathematics (Euclid and Pythagoras). A lot of what the Romans did was direct imitation of Greek stuff. A good example of this is their omnipresent use of Columns for holding buildings up.

You’ve heard of Doric columns, Ionic columns?

That’s Greek stuff. Except that–guess what!–the Doric and Ionic names originated across the Aegean sea from Greece, in a region called Asia (Minor), which is now Turkey. Go figure!

A couple hundred years after the Greek Golden Age, along came the Romans. What they ended up doing was much grander and more elaborate than what the Greeks did. They took Greek columns and turned them into a universal architectural art-form. Those two earlier Column designs–the Doric and the Ionian– were not fancy enough to suit the Roman sense of grandiosity. So the Romans decorated the capitals (tops) of their columns with new, leafy frou-frou carvings and castings  which came to be called Corinthian.

The Corinthian name, however, was not Roman, but Greek. Corinth was an important city in Greece.  So once again, go figure.

Figuring is important to the whole advance of Western civilization. Everywhere Greeks and their European progeny went, they were figuring stuff out.

Thus did Western Civilization expand over millenia of time. Along came the Germans, French, Spanish, British, all of them making ever grander plans,  striving to construct their own versions of civilization.

When the Greco-Roman enterprise got to the big Sea at the end of Europe–aka the End of the Earth–its expansion was delayed for a few hundred years. But then along came Cristoforo Columbo and Presto!, Western civilization took a grand leap across the Atlantic Ocean.

Now we Americans know about Boston, New Yawk, Philly, etc etc etc;  and we are intimately familiar with Paul Revere and Grampa George Washington. Why we even know about Charleston and Savannah and all that unreconstructed goings-on down south, but what’s important here is California!

Why?

Because Americans are adventurers. Our forefathers and foremothers hit the ground running after we got off the boat in Baltimore or Ellis Island or wherever it was.

Before you knew it, we were all the way over on the far other edge of the continent, in California, baby!

Or bust! That’s what the Okies said.

And that was, if you think about it, the very end of the Greek frontier. From Athens to Anaheim, westward ho all along the way. That’s all she wrote.

The westward expansion of Greek culture ended at California. It couldn’t go any farther. Why, even when they o’erleaped the wide Pacific, what did they find?

China!

It doesn’t get any older than that–China. No Westward expansion there, although the Brits made a few dents, and of course there was Marx and all that People’s trial and bloody error.

Now We Americans have a saying: as California goes, so goes the nation.

That means that, from the 1849 Gold Rush on, the great exploratory thrust of American ingenuity and creativity originates in place called California.

The land of fruits and nuts.

And broccoli, lettuce, grapes, wine, silicon, integrated circuit chips, beach boys, beach girls, computers, iPhones, movies and pop culture, etc etc etc.

So once all the migrant Europeans got themselves planted on the East Coast back in the 1800s, they built so many cities, and built them so quickly, that before you know it they got overcrowded and pulled up stakes to head West.

Go West, young man, wrote Horace Greeley, about a hundred and fifty years ago.

And very quickly. We developed America from raw earth,  from Schenectady to San Francisco in less than a hundred years, blazing a yankee trail all along the way.

And when we hit up against that great Pacific rim, the grand tide of our exuberance struck a sea wall and then it swayled back the other way: Disney in Paris, McDonald’s in Athens, Kennedy in Berlin!

But now–and my mind misgives some consequence yet hanging in the stars–our grand millenia-old Restatement of Greco-Roman expansionism strikes, back at its ancient nascence, an Athenian rampart.

So I see the next phase of history this way: As Greece goes, so goes the West. And this is what it looks like, according to a pic I recently snapped in Athens:

EarthBraceAgor2

Which is to say, a propped up portal. Where can we go from here?

Glass Chimera

Bird at my Window

April 19, 2015

Here’s a little bird by my window.

How he landed here I do not know.

I can’t understand why he paused from winging,

then a-lighted here upon my contemplative feeling

while I sip darjeeling.

Now as I don’t know why a caged bird would sing,

so do I not comprehend why some free bird should fling

himself against this glass invisible thing.

Bird at my Window

Now as I watch him here, while I am sitting,

and I do ponder on his fretful flitting,

I know not what fate my future life might bring

can’t foresee what stones some enemy might sling

nor anticipate what news some fateful bell will ring.

I don’t know what pesky thing

might attach itself  to me to cling

to bet against my errant dealing,

or abscond my precious, hard-earned bling.

For all I know, someday Life may send me reeling;

I might even bang my head upon the ceiling,

like my bird friend at this window reeling.

But after a while, being a human being,

I’d certainly seek some healing,

Surely I would pray, even kneeling,

to shed my stubborn sins and fears, like onion peeling.

Unto merciful God I’ll someday be appealing;

T’is then I’ll beat my head upon some heavenly window,

when to eternity’s grand dwelling I will go.

Like this wacky bird with such stubborn sass,

I’ll knock my head on heaven’s glass.

Let me in.

Let me in!

Bird at my Window

Glass half-Full

Prayer for all Nations

April 11, 2015

I hope you will believe in God, if you don’t already. When the Son of God walked upon the earth, he visited the temple of his people, in Jerusalem. Jesus said many things at the temple. One thing he said was:

My house shall be a house of prayer for all people.

Toward that end, I included this scene/portrait in my 2007 novel, Glass half-Full. From chapter 4:

Beneath a cold, clear, azure sky the city of Jerusalem lay stretched upon the mountains and valleys like a fuzzy glove upon God’s hand. People from all over the world had gathered here to unearth evidence of God at work among the people of the earth. Some sought a temple that no longer exists. Some sought a mosque where a prophet entered heaven. Some trod upon the cobblestones of ancient, holy real estate, pleading for reconciliation, seeking atonement for the human condition.

A man wandered beyond the dome, past the blocked-up eastern gate; curving around northward, he noticed a large open area beside the mosque. Was this where the former temple had stood? What a beautiful mosque.

Could not the owners of this hill sell the adjoining, vacant acre or two to those pilgrims who, standing daily at the wall below, were wailing for their wonderful temple? Why not make a deal? Such a deal. Cousin to Cousin. Temple and Mosque, Mosque and Temple…Mosque Shsmosque, Temple Shmemple. Such a deal. Everybody happy. You pray your way; I pray mine.

A man traveled outside the wall, beyond the ramparts of human religion-building, pushing the envelope of mortally human strife… through the Kidron Valley below, to the vanity-laden valley of struggle, along the groves of Gethsemane; he trod among the graves of the prophets; he ambled along the graftings of the profits. He wept. Mankind, like a flock of fluttering chickens in a barnyard, clucking, headless…why can’t we get it together?

A man walked up the other side of the valley, through Arab neighborhoods, to a Jewish cemetery. Oh wailing trail of human history, why allowest thou such holocaust? Turning around, he looked back across the valley, to the mountain where he just had been, with tears:

Sons of Adam, argue all you want about real estate on your holy hill. “I’ll be over here on the other side,” thought he.

But the walk was over now. It was time to go to work. John Demos, reporter for XYZ, was scheduled to do a live broadcast three hours from now. The American Secretary of State and her entourage were in the ancient city to prevail upon, once again, the ancient brothers and sisters to settle their ancient differences. And John would be covering the event for XYZ.

***

Half a world away, John’s face could be seen on the TV in the Jesse James Gang Grill.

He was reporting to the world about the latest official Middle East peace initiatives. Hilda Hightower interrupted her flower-watering chore for a few minutes to watch his report…

DomeRok

Wailing Wall

JerChSepulc

JerGoPeace

Glass half-Full

Grow! Improve Your Skills And Develop Your Talents.

April 11, 2015

Grow! Improve Your Skills And Develop Your Talents..

This is good counsel.

Persian ram, Grecian goat

April 5, 2015

If you wonder where all that Iranian bluster comes from,

take a look at what in Persia, long ago, was done.

Out in the  Zagros mountains about 2500 years ago,

a band of Persians came together to put on quite a show.

They spread out in a way to make the world’s first empire;

from Nile to Indus, from Caspian to Gulf, they did not tire.

A fellow named Cyrus, who was known to be Great,

subjugated peoples far and wide to start this ancient state.

Before anyone named it Iran, or Persia, it was called Achaemenid,

like the name of former President Ahmadinejad, and what he thought they did.

 

After Cyrus the Great had died, and also Cambyses his son,

a Magian usurper tried to abscond their royal Persian run,

but Darius,  distant relative of Cyrus, slew that pretender,

then gave credence to Zarathustra, and whatever Ahuramazda might render.

Darius the Mede, who ruled from Persepolis to Phrygia,

extended Achaeminid lands from the Hindus to Lydia.

But Persian conquest was in Greece contested;

its expansion was halted– at Marathon arrested.

Then young Pheideppides ran 26 miles from Marathon to Athens

to tell Athenians about their defeat of Darius’ Persian I’ryans.

 

This fierce Persian/Greek contention had been foretold in a biblical vision

by the Hebrew prophet, Daniel, with symbolic precision.

He saw a ferocious horned goat attacking a great horned ram

which is what happened, metaphorically, when Alexander conquered anciant Iran.

These days it seems them I’ryans are on the move again,

now declaring Islamic Republic, Shariah, and all things Shia Mohammedan.

Their hegemony looks restrictive, legalistic and  Islamist totalitarian,

with dissidents imprisoned, like Daniel in  lions’ den.

Now ayatollahs want to raise new Islami-I’ryan Persian empire

with Shia militia, Hesbollah, and centrifuged ire.

 

If we be lucky today, the Greeks will again stop them Persians.

But it may not happen; Greece has gone broke with too many dispersions.

So what will the world do when I’ryans insurge to destroy Arab leagues?

Will it be like the last Reich, in Aryan blitzkriegs?

 

Smoke

Life way down deep

April 3, 2015

The life was new.

The life was hidden, withdrawn, but stirring beneath the surface

of man, restless

feeling incomplete, as if he were only half

of something and where pray tell is

the other half.

Oh but the life

the whippersnappin’ life was young and foolish, darting out in

spurts, random, irresponsibly.

Lonely.

The life was at a loss.

Meanwhile,

the wise was keeping vigil, watching protectively, counseling gently

in the stirring of the wind:

Wait. Focus. Control yourself. Learn. Prepare. Use what you’ve got.

Use.

Not abuse.

Love.

Not shove.

Love.

Not thrust.

Trust.

Don’t throw it on the ground;

don’t cast it out when you’re in town.

Find a place that’s safe and sound

and slightly round.

There is a place for you if you will seek, if you will

wait upon her, ‘though mishaps there may be,

‘though dark days you will see.

Destiny, providentially so-to-speak, whispers

in those dark hours of the night,

but also in the clarity of the bright light

and in the very horned beastly midst of your fight

for peace of mind, and fulfillment,

self-actualization, what we use to call

holiness.

Project not yourself into any old hole; cast not your pearl

to front,  nor to rear.

You, my precious life, are too dear

to sputter in the rear.

Oh, wipe away your tear.

Train your sorrow to flow;

direct your milky force to go

into something worthwhile, like . . .

work. I don’t know. Think about it.

Don’t jerk.

Don’t be a jerk,

and please don’t twerk. But rather,

Wait. Watch. Focus. Learn. Prepare. Believe. Use what you’re given.

Be just a little driven

but not obnoxiously so.

Just go

and do the best you can,

and when she comes, your half will become

whole.

Like I said, in not just any hole.

Whole.

For the sake of your soul,

and the soul of them who are to come

when you are done.

 

Glass half-Full

The Great Disconnect

March 29, 2015

Down in de hood dhey don’t get it what honky be doin’

out in de wide lands where cream ‘o de crop be acruin’,

while out dhere where dhe green grass meet dhe smooth curb

dhey don’t get it what dem po’boys be doin’ to disturb

dhe status quo and de way t’ings are

cuz dhey don’t get the gravy but only smell it from afar.

You know the state of the country it aint right;

I say you too tight;

You say me too loose.

You act like engine, make me de caboose?

You even got a clue, man?

We gotta make a new plan if we can;

R u hearin’ me,

or r u fearin’ me?

Shit! now h’yah come do po’.

Even if I be friend, dey see me foe.

 

Peace and safety be upon them that work hard and do the drill

is what they say out in the wide lands filled with froth and frill,

while in the hood where the stoop step meet the street curb

hoods don’t get what honkys skim out suburb.

Out here they’re okay with the way things are;

they get the gravy; they drive the car.

They see the way things are as being all right,

and they’re comfy being a little uptight.

They don’t get loose,

aspiring to drive the engine, not ride caboose.

They have no clue, my friend,

preferring the same old plan, than to begin again.

They’re not hearing dhem,

but they are fearing “them.”

They say let the Po go–

let them search and seize the po’.

 

Now over in the Beltway everything is fine,

though talking heads strive to make events rhyme

by pontificating waltz in five-four times,

perpetually towing both Party lines,

keeping Libs on Left and Cons on Right:

maintaining constant Left-Right Fight.

Thou shalt not offend me! saith the Lib on the Entitled floor.

Thou shalt not tax me! saith the Con at Liberty’s door.

Occupy, Occupy! rings out the Activist refrain.

Fortify, Fortify! cries the Reactionary in our never-ending game.

Don’t destroy the middle class! and let them toke on grass!

You rob the middle class with tax! to let Elites sit on their ass!

Out! damned corporate ogres! the Left exhorts.

Oh quit your pout! retorts  the 1%, from their resorts.

Congress gets nothing done, because of you!

Government is the problem! Tippecanoe and TeaParty too.

 

Meanwhile all the masses come and go;

they twitter with glitter of the latest show.

 

Glass half-Full

While flying over the Alps. . .

March 25, 2015

Yesterday I heard the sad news about a German airliner that crashed over the French Alps. 150 people were killed.

When I heard about the crash, I thought about my daughter. In a few hours, she would be getting on an airplane to fly from San Francisco back here to North Carolina.

Will she be safe?

Don’t even think about it. Just pray.

As I write this, our other daughter is settling into a long trans-Pacific flight that will land her ultimately in Vanuata, the tiny island nation recently devastated by a hurricane.

Will she be safe?

Don’t even think about it. Just pray.

I’ve been thinking of a line in an old song from John Denver, singing about a plane trip . . .

“it’s a long time from this place to Denver, a long time to hang in the sky.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VATSdTRtK

Being a songwriter myself, I have always appreciated that line. . . a long time to hang in the sky. . .

How many people are hanging in the sky right now, at this moment?

How many people in the world are waiting at airport gates, about to walk onto an airplane. How many are walking through the aisle looking for their seat, then stuffing the walk-on bag in the overhead, having a seat, and . . .

and what?

We never think about what might happen, or what might not happen. We politely ignore the flight-crew’s recorded instruction about flight safety and emergency procedures.

Forget about it. If this thing goes down from 30,000 feet, what are the chances its anything but goodbye cruel world?

Don’t even think about it. Just pray.

Just about six weeks ago, my wife and I were hanging in the sky, high above the Alps, on a flight from Athens to London.

I snapped this picture:

AlpValyGood2
Two days ago, Tuesday morning, 150 travelers were sitting in their assigned seats, expecting to leave Barcelona, expecting to glide over the Alps like nothing happened and then land in a few hours in Dusseldorf.

But they never arrived.

Don’t even think about it.

Flying has always been a kind of escape for me. But the opportunity comes only every now and then, when my wife makes plans with elaborate arrangements for some exotic travel. In between those occasional, adventurous flights of our life, I have embarked on flights of fancy about getting on a jet plane, flying into the wild blue yonder to distant lands. Many a cold, crisp winter morning here in the Appalachian mountains, I would steal a few  daydreaming moments from my maintenance job, gazing up at sky, seeing white jet-trails that criss-cross against brilliant blue sky, wishing I were on a jet plane, flying over an ocean, maybe over the Alps, then having dinner that evening with my wife in some faraway place.

And we have actually done that, many times, because Love is a wonderful thing; we celebrate it as often as we can, by traveling together.

But we always got there, to our destination; and we have always returned home after a week or two.

We never crashed.

Don’t even think about it.

Upon hearing, yesterday morning, about the flight that crashed in the Alps, I was sad.

This evening, two days later, an old song, old sad song, is streaming through my head. It’s a song about a man who was at an airport, but he did not get on a plane:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OCnHNk2Hac

There’s a line in this song that I’ve always liked, although I have no idea why.

“.  .this old airport’s got me down; it’s no earthly good to me, ’cause I’m stuck here on the ground. .”

But in some cases, the ones who never got on the plane would be lucky ones.

You never know. . .you never know. . . Don’t even think about it.

Just pray, today.

 

Smoke


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