Archive for July, 2015

The Old Men and the Young

July 25, 2015

If ghosts could speak, they would probably agree with what the old man said. Sitting on the lowered gate of his black pickup truck, Ramus was saying that old men make wars; but young men fight them.

Now while we understand there is some truth in such a statement,  we all know that it’s not really as simple as that. Nothing in this life is so easily explained, especially the thing called war.

Ramus blinked both his eyes at the same time. It was a habit he had. Some crows were making a ruckus in the nearby hickory, but he paid no attention to them.

“Consider Medgar Evers: he was a young man,” Ramus said. “He slogged his way across Europe, along with thousands of other Allied soldiers, to arrive triumphantly in Germany and then knock the hell out of the Nazi war machine. So he contributed to that great collective effort through which we won the big war. But then he came back to Mississippi and was told to go to the back of the bus.

“So, at the end of his homeward journey, Medgar entered, almost involuntarily, into another great war. It was an old war that had been started by old men. That is to say: men who we think of as old because they had lived and died long ago—men who, in centuries past, had embodied the fallacies and the limitations and atrocities of their own era. Those men had brought his ancestors to America in slave ships. It was a helluva an evil thing to do, but that’s what was happening at that time; there was shit just as bad going on over in Africa that enabled the slavetraders to do what they did, and that’s what started all this trouble we got now.

“Any trouble you find on the face of the earth is traceable to shit that happened a long time ago,” he said. “I don’t know if it ever ends. I hope one day. . .”

Behind Ramus and his truck, the morning sun was peeking up from behind distant pinetops. For whatever reason we know not what, the nearby troop of bothersome crows decided to vacate the hickory tree they’d been in, and get the hell out of dodge. Their sudden departure presented a scene of black wings flapping out against a cloudless summer sky. Ramus glanced at their disturbance, but gave it not a thought. In these mountains, their antics were as old as the hills.

The volume of Ramus’ speech, which had steadily increased in order to compete with the birds, now rescinded to a soft, summary tone. “The Mississippi man’s newfound battle—a great struggle into which he found himself caught up, by default—it eventually killed him. So he was a young man who never tasted the privilege of becoming an old man. Although he had marched with the victors in World War II, the battle that he found simmering back home was the one that put him in his grave.

“In 1963, only six months before Kennedy was killed, Medgar Evers was shot dead in his own front yard in Jackson Mississippi. He had just come from speaking to some brothers and sisters at the New Jerusalem church.”

That quiet following the crows’ departure was blissful.

“But I got to go now: places to go and people to see.” Ramus said. He slid off the tailgate, called to his old hound dog and prepared to leave. His talk about old men, young men, and old wars was put on the shelf of memory for a while.

Now in 1969, a new war, hot off the press, was being waged. But it was fast becoming an old one. Young men were dying by the thousands. Old men too, and women and children. What else is new?

VietMem2

The scene above is an excerpt from the new novel being written:

King of Soul

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The Child’s Laughter

July 19, 2015

ChildLaugh

 

 

Why here’s a sudden torrent of joy

spouting from a toddler boy,

an eruption of laughter spontaneous

provoked by his cousin’s zaniness!

Where in heaven’s name could it come from?

 

 

It’s as if this untrained burst of mirth

hath bursted from some reservoir beneath the earth

maybe from some fountain of amusement so vast

that its flood comes sloshing so fast!

 

There must be some great ocean of mirth

that preceded the boy’s recent birth

a love from which his joy suddenly rises

like in a carnival of silly prizes.

 

Evidence it is, I think, of some vast wellbeing unseen,

as if it’s spurting from a divine dream!

This bright shower of silly serendipity

must be a substance of the happiness we hope will be,

and now we suddenly see.

Yes! now so joyously we hear

a perfect laughter that casts out all fear.

Tussling

The Wind

July 12, 2015

I don’t remember the first time

I ever felt it,

or saw or heard it, but

I know it is there.

I mean I know its here

or at least it was a minute ago.

And before that I saw a picture of it,

evidence that it was there

or here or somewhere.

It was in an art gallery where Mr. Wyeth had

done something or other that

moved me, really moved me although

I don’t know why.

This involved brushing paint on a canvas.

Wyeth

It was a wistful scene but then a few minutes later

I saw another work that some artist had left behind

about a shipwreck, and it looked pretty severe.

Shipwrk

So it works both ways.

Don’t know how or when

but I remember too, some poet or his

singing about it, and he said the answer was

blowing in it,

the answer to what I don’t know

maybe how many times must the cannonballs fly

or the winds of war blow or

the winds of change rearrange

everything that is or ever was or ever will be.

A few days ago I was in that windy city

HorsMnCity

where stuff had happened

long ago, back in the day,

and I remembered

part of what had happened

but I wasn’t sure if it had happened to me

or if I just remembered it from some

news report I saw or some

painting I viewed or collective memory from

my g-generation

HorsMnSky

and then I remembered that ye must be born

again. The wind blows where it wishes and you hear

the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from

and where it is going; so is everyone who is born

of the Spirit

and that’s enough for me.

You feel it?

I’m not making this up.

 

King of Soul

Allies in History

July 9, 2015

The Charger rides out upon a cusp of history’s advance

with zeal that flashes in his hand,

brandishing our great weapon of destiny

that had earlier been forged

upon the anvil of progress.

Logan1

He’s duty-bound on pushing the envelope of change

through yonder canyon of chaos, or mountain of

justice, whichever comes forth first.

His steed, chomping at the bit to yank upon the seams

of troublous times,

rips out the evil twins of lethargy and lies, and

by opposing ends them

for a while.

MarqJoliet

Yon Paxateer, on the other hand,

is methodical and principled.

He summons forth coalitions of belief,

taming methods of madness,

crossing rivers of patient sadness.

His armature has accumulated in the crucible of time

from the residue of our Charger’s blood,

and the aggregate left behind when women toil

and men do sweat

for all the progress mankind can get,

although we are not there

yet,

if ever shall we be.

 

Together, between them,

among them and in spite of them,

the wisdom of the ages settles in,

if there is such a thing.

For history is not yet written,

nor the evils that beset men smitten

until the sands of time

are deposited on this body of mine

and yours.

WavArt6u

King of Soul

A Woman’s Love makes Possible

July 7, 2015

Well my bride of 35 years hath done it again. Last week she took me to Washington, so we could escort nieces and nephews around our great national memorials.

This week we’re in Chicago, while she attends a Nurses’ conference.

While we were walking along Michigan Ave yesterday, I thought about Mama Cass.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OouK3QOzW6Q

because she had sung that song back in the day. . . Words of Love, which contains these lines:

“Worn out phrases and warning gazes won’t get you where you want to go;

if you love her, you must send her somewhere where she’s never been before.”

 

This love strategy is appropriate to my wife and me, but in a reverse kind of way, because she is the one who takes me places!

Sunday morning, I had awakened in our home and made some coffee, then sat in my usual comfy spot to begin a day of reading and writing (which I cannot generally do for five days out of every week because of work.)

My comfy home-working spot is a chair by the living room window, which affords me a quaint view of our back deck and back yard. It usually looks something like this:

BirdDeck

But yesterday, after we checked into the Burnham in Chicago, this was my window view:

Burnhmvw

What a difference! Talk about literary inspiration! Chicago! Carl Sandburg rattling in my brain.

So today, Tuesday she will be attending her professional confab, while I amble over to Grant Park and pursue some groundwork for the new novel. The story, as it appears now in my mind, begins in Grant Park. That’s where, on August 28, 1968, some events took place that made an indelible mark on my generation.  I’ll have more to say about that in three or four years after the book is finished.

Meanwhile, a couple of pics may indicate where this thing is headed, at least for its first part:

ChiHiltn

Logan1
 

King of Soul

My Washington Favorites

July 4, 2015

Here are my four favorite pics from our sojourn in Washington earlier this week:

VietMem1

BrikOldNew

StrbxWashj

And lastly, contributing her professional nursing presence to the “Nurses” statue at the Vietnam Memorial, my bride of 35 years:

PatNurss

Glass half-Full

Try to keep some perspective on this

July 1, 2015

It’s All About Your Perspective.

While wandering on the National Mall in Washington DC, I chanced upon the National Gallery of Art, so I went in there to have a look around.

What a beautiful place.

Especially interesting to me was the special exhibition on the work of the French artist, Gustave Caillebotte.

http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/exhibitions/2015/gustave-caillebotte.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustave_Caillebotte

In the background of my unauthorized photograph, which you see here, is the canvas that Monsieur Caillebotte painted in 1877. The painting hangs upon a wall in the next room, beyond the room I was standing in while I snapped the pic:

 Caillebotte

Not visible to you is an explanatory placard that is fastened on the wall next to his famous artwork. Some art historian has explained therein that Gustave’s work reflected a new influence on the painterly art.  Photography, the emergent technology of that that day and time, latter-19th-century, had a profound effect on the artist’s composition, perspective and use of focus in certain areas of the painting while rendering foreground and background slightly out of focus.

Now in my iPhone photograph, the whole picture is out of focus. I did this on purpose, imitating, as it were, the French impressionists, all of whom had rendered their oil-on-canvas opuses slightly out of focus, as if they had forgotten to put on their glasses when they went out to labor at the easel that day in 1877.

I can relate to this, because I am nearsighted as a bat; my profound appreciation for turn-of–the-20thCentury is perhaps related to this dysfunction in my eyeballs. I’m like one of those less-than-perfect persons you see in the Latrec paintings that came later.

So you can see here that I myself have entered into the gallery of impressionist phone-artists of the early 21st Century. And in my opinion this photograph is an artistic extension of the work that was pioneered by Messers Caillebotte, Renoir, Monet, Manet, Matisse etcetera etcetera.

The gentleman on the left in my etoîle image here was doing his job well; so he was obliged to tell me that I couldn’t take pics in that room.

I did not know that (and I am telling the truth), I said to him.

“There’s a sign at the entrance to the room,” he said.

Oh.

Nevertheless, the image was already captured in my mobile device, so hey, what the heck, I thought I’d share my perspective with you.

Have a nice day. And remember. . .

As you travel through life, brother and sister, whatever be your goal, keep your eye on the detail, not on the whole.

Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Anyway, try to keep your highest priorities in focus. As for the artsy stuff, that focus element is not  necessarily essential.

Just please keep it in perspective, so that you know what you’re looking at while you’re looking at it, if that’s possible.

 

Glass Chimera