The Watering Hole; Th/Fr December 1 and 2, 2016; “Thou, Whoever Art Above . . .”

I’ll admit it. I’m DISGUSTED!

I know I’m not alone in this, but I can say with heavy duty authority that in the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential (s)election, my disgust has peaked at levels I’ve never known before, levels that, until November 9, I would have never guessed attainable, much less even possible. But it happened. Somehow, the most narcissistic, egomaniacal, misogynistic, xenophobic, bigoted, racist, fascistic and ego-driven presidential candidate in American history has been (s)elected (at least via Electoral College terms), and will become POTUS on January 20, 2017.

My initial reaction was to rant (which I did), then attempt to listen to those voices of ‘moderation,’ those voices that try to convince us “radicals” that hey, this is America where the voice of “the people” — not of the tyrant — is heard, is determinative of the nation’s (and the world’s) future. Those voices of moderation are, of course, nonsensical in that they ignore the obvious consequences that invariably occur when the entire government of a nation is turned over to what is, effectively, a far right wing politic, a Fascist majority. And sadly, that is precisely what ‘we the people’ did on November 8, 2016; we “elected” a Fascist president, and left in place right wing majorities in both the Senate and the House along with a vacancy on the Supreme Court which will now be filled by an extreme right wing appointee, thus granting control  of the entire of our federal government to the American Fascist Movement.

That should be the point that causes any salient mind to rant and rave for hours on end about electoral national destruction, but then again, to the “salient” mind, what would be the point? As Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar noted, “The die is cast.” Besides, it does one no good at all to imagine being down in the pit, surrounded only by idiots, white supremacists, Republicans, Fascists  — assuming there’s a difference. There are, after all, other places — peaceful and quiet places, places brimming with ‘salient’ life forms — places that are far better, that inspire rather than denigrate one’s imagination.

Here’s an example: a six line poem by longtime colleague and friend T.R. Nissle, words which he penned some 40 years ago in response to a few photos I managed to ‘snap’ during my frequent and solitary sojourns “out there” on some then relatively undisturbed corners of the Sonoran Desert in southwestern Arizona. Six lines with six photos (the top three ‘inspired’ the poem), together offer a refreshing look at the living world — though not expressly through human eyes.

THE PRAYER OF THE CACTUS

ca-1972-cave-creek-wasjh-praying-saguaro

▲Thou, whoever art above, hear me die –▲

ca-1973-white-tanks-old-sentry

▲Hear my silent, lonely prayer –▲

ca-1975-mcdowells-saguaro-backlit-350pxl

▲For tongueless creatures everywhere;▲

003s▲We neither savage, jest, nor boast of soul –▲

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA▲But flower unmaliciously –▲

2004-january-sunrise-ove-salt-river-valley-022f▲Disjoin us from Humanity.▲

Those six photos are of the Sonoran Desert’s most unique life form, the Giant Saguaro Cactus, in various stages of both life and death. Curiously enough, the Saguaro’s longtime scientific name Cereus giganteus (Britton & Rose) was, in recent years, changed to Carnegiea gigantea in honor of renowned wealthy industrialist-become-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who, in his last years prior to his death in 1919, donated (as 2015 share of GDP) some $78.6 Billion (approx. 90% of his accumulated wealth) to charities, foundations, and universities. I suppose it could simply be my naivete, but I seriously doubt that any of today’s billionaires will ever wind up with a signature cactus named after them. Trumpissonia gigantea? Probably not.

The bottom line remains: If humans would take a moment and agree to (1) abolish all war, (2) disallow greed,  hate, and irrational fear, (3) abandon their never-ending savage quest for power, and (4) agree to never again boast of soul — but flower unmaliciously, the world would fast become a livable place for all its creatures, big or small. Including even ourselves.

I remain filled with doubt, however; human history has yet to suggest that humans are uniformly capable of being earth-friendly in any context. More than two centuries ago, for example, William Wordsworth  noted that though . . .

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
the earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;–
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

To which I can only add, in MY voice to all of earth’s creatures everywhere:

Disjoin US from “Humanity.”

2005-mar-brittlebush-encelia-farinosa-022s-sharper

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OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Th/Fr November 24/25; Election 2016, A Poetic Summation: “After Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes”

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
an’ foolish notion . . .”
(Robert Burns)

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THANKSGIVING(?), 2016

In 1862, Emily Dickinson wrote a three-verse 72-word poetic ‘essay’ on death, a poem which for some odd reason reminded me of an event that occurred here, in Amurkkka, exactly two-weeks-plus-three-days ago. That was, of course, the day of America’s 2016 Presidential Election in which, somehow, the candidate who lost by at least 2 million votes was actually declared the winner — an event which seems to demand a somewhat poetic summary, maybe?

I suppose most of us could write for a week, maybe a year, on the probable consequences of said electoral event, but for me (since, at my age, time is at a premium), I decided to settle instead for a joint poetic project in consort with Emily Dickinson! (don’t I wish)! Below are the three verses of Dickinson’s 1862 poetic “essay” on death, intermingled with a pair of my own sonnets [the first was prev. posted, post-convention, in August, the second is post-election new].

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Miss Emily begins:

After great pain, a formal feeling comes —
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs —
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

******

Candidate DONALD J. TRUMP and His Egomaniacal Persona

Democracy allows a boundless sprawl of mindless thought.
One brief glance today unmasks a nominee who deems to
Ne’er dismiss his savage spiels, hoping they’ll all soon be taught
As “brilliant” memes. Whilst he himself wears masks of learned view,
Lengthy rhetoric from this vapid candidate reveals
Dismal platitudes, each expressed as if nonsensical
Judgment of those who are more sane, of those whose soul appeals
To wisdom, not to ignorance of issues topical.
Racial bigots find curious relief in hate and fear
Until they sense themselves dismissed by grand impassioned dreams;
Misogyny as well embraces minds that aim to smear
Perspectives based on common goals of life – with bogus schemes.
Deliv’rance of this nation’s soul and heart is thus on hold
Till egomania’s greed and sloth are either bought — or sold.

******

The Feet, mechanical, go round —
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought —
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone —

******

GOODBYE, AMERICA
A Trump-Inspired National Elegy

Greed and Sloth have once again prevailed, their
Onerous goals retained by vulgar vote;
Once again America’s soul stands bare,
Delib’rately exposed as addled moat
Beneath her people, once defined as great.
Yet there remains a choice; to quote Voltaire,
Écrasez l’infame” (Crush the furtive ‘State’)
And grant Relief to all from hate’s despair
Made manifest by sophistic fear. Still,
Exercise of faux imperiousness
Results in cultural demise of will
In all but those possessed by mindlessness —
Calumny (as Trump, our President-Elect)
Assigns ALL Truth — to PERFIDY-Select.

******

This is the Hour of Lead —
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow —
First — Chill — then Stupor — then the letting go —

******

So now, we as a nation are forced to contend with white nationalism, with neo-Nazis and racism at every level, with misogyny, xenophobia, immigration, immigrant deportation, registries, internment camps(?); also destruction and/or sale of Public Lands for either fossil fuel mining/drilling/fracking or for private profit, for development; also with the “Chinese Hoax” of climate change and the global destruction therein implied; also with the final transfer of all remaining American monetary “wealth” to the already wealthy elites; plus the privatization of Public Education . . . plus maybe a war or two or three, just because this here’s Amurkkka and we really like to do that, to kick ass as necessary. . . etc., etc., etc.

Whereto from here? How much further is it to the bottom of the pond? Is there still a musterable opposition to national demise available out there? Somewhere?

“Those who can make you believe absurdities
can make you commit atrocities.”
(Voltaire)

Dare we hope we’re not there . . . yet?

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OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Friday October 21 2016; “It is not now as it hath been of yore”

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
the earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.

Those are the opening five lines of the first stanza of William Wordsworth’s classic work of poetic art entitled “ODE ON INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY From Recollections of Early Childhood”  (comp. 1802-1804). What’s long fascinated me is the fact that even though ‘Intimations’ was written more than 200 years ago, its words still describe — with amazing precision — moments of emotional recognition that most any cognitive mind can find itself pondering even today.

In the summer of 2007, for example, we spent pretty much the entire month of July camped in Arizona’s Apache National Forest, on the edge of a forest meadow (Cienega) which was located some 30 miles from the nearest town, some 5-6 miles north of the edge of Arizona’s grand escarpment, the Mogollon Rim (elevation approx. 9000 ft.) and roughly 10-15 miles west of the New Mexico state line. The forest meadow was named Butterfly Cienega, and it lay in a lush and peaceful corner of a forest teaming with life.

The following series of photographs effectively portrays a tiny portion of the experience, and essentially acts as a bridge to another event that was to occur some four years down the road — May, June and July, 2011. The photos are presented in no particular order, but are interspersed with three additional excerpts from Wordsworth’s ‘Intimations’ Ode which together re-tell the story implied in the Ode’s nine-line first stanza, as quoted up top and in the four lines immediately below.  Continue reading

The Watering Hole; Thursday August 25 2016; The American Right Wing; A Circumferential (Poetic) Analysis of Its Politicians and the Dismal Future They Portend

The Poets light but Lamps —
Themselves — go out —
The Wicks they stimulate —
If vital Light

Inhere as do the Suns —
Each Age a Lens
Disseminating their
Circumference
(Emily Dickinson)

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The nineteenth century American Poet Emily Dickinson liked to use the word “Circumference” to define the undercurrent ‘content’ in and of her poetry. According to the recently published Emily Dickinson Lexicon, her use of Circumference in the poem above  (J-883) implies “semantic connotations that go beyond the core meaning of a word” as in metaphoric “experience; reality; enlightenment; intelligence; revelation; inspiration; wisdom.” Dickinson apparently also saw, in Circumference, what would be considered “irrefutable aspects of reality.”

As an amateur ‘poet,’ I’ve long found that whole idea to be not only intriguing, but also a fun way to kill several hours on each of several days, sometimes for several weeks, all in pursuit of the idea of coming up with various “semantic connotations that go beyond the core meaning of a word” or of a name, maybe? Simple task, right? Well, OK, not ‘simple,’ but intriguing enough to snag my attention. So I decided to give it all a try. My poetic style choice was the sonnet: 14 lines, 10 syllables per line, Shakespearean rhyming pattern abab.cdcd.efef.gg. That part’s tough enough, but I soon got to wondering if I could also find a way to use fourteen of the letters from the poem’s main title acrostically, i.e. as the first letters, in order, of each of the sonnet’s fourteen lines which together might (hopefully!) produce a statement containing “irrefutable aspects of reality,” aka Circumference!

So without further ado: first in line is this one, written late in the George W. Bush years, circa 2007. it’s actually less about Dubya than it is about the impact of his eight years on the country and its people, a consequence more likely related to the entire of his administration and not just himself; but still, he owns it.

Gone, Wasted, Broken –
The Legacy of GEORGE W BUSH
An Elegy on America

Gone now, America’s halcyon days
Where Reason stood tall and grand in the sun;
Brilliance defined Her equanimous ways –
Gone now, expunged, all Her triumphs hard won.
E. pluribus unum: Her goal was clear;
One chosen from many, She alone rose
Reflecting the grandeur of cause sincere,
Gone now, forever corrupted by woes.
Environment – Poisoned with gas and fume;
Waters – Mercurial, deadly as wars;
Broken – A people, too cold to exhume;
Uberty – Transposed to desolate shores;
Society – Crushed, then forced to concede
Hegemony – now become pow’r . . . and greed.

Next, from the pre-election months of 2012, my circumferential impressions of Candidate Mitt Romney, including the probable impact of his Oligarch-style wealth and greed mantras on the country, along with my own notion that if he won the election, then “Nobody” would be President.

WILLARD M ROMNEY
The Odyssey of Nemo
Of Nobody
With Much Regret

When greed defines a nominee’s malaise,
Implicitly, the nation’s fortunes loom
Like mountains visible through brownish haze,
Like ocean’s breakers crashing in the gloom
And doom of icy or cyclonic storm.
Republics and Democracies succumb;
Death assumes a barbarous pose, its form
Most certainly the product of those numb
Regurgitations from dead minds, unsheathed.
Oh death, where is thy sting?” the poet asked.
My sword’s malaise of greed to you bequeathed,”
Nemo responds, his vapid soul unmasked.
Eternal passage thus abruptly halts,
Yet Nemo ne’er will lead – he’s crazed with faults.

Next comes a more recent addition, one that’s not a sonnet, not acrostic, and not very circumferential, because when the topic is Trump, circumference and metaphor really aren’t always all that necessary (or even available)!

DONALD J. TRUMP
His 2016 Candidacy: Parsed
(sort of)

If ever there was a moment of note,
This moment might well be the one;
If ever there’s been a good time to act,
That time hasn’t passed, it’s NOT gone.

Time, when it’s wasted, impacts that ‘right now’
Which surfaced a second ago,
And future arriving a second too soon
 Can oftentimes screw up the show!

The show now on stage rehashes again
Those mistakes that define whence we’ve come;
The reason is clear, it’s not hard to see:
Hair Drumpf is the consummate BUM!

If ever there was a screwball of note,
This screwball’s atop a long list;
Of each and all bums from present and past,
THIS one, when gone, won’t be missed!

So think of all that the next time you find
A moment to ponder, to parse —
Employ the best means such moment allows,
Then throw this bum out on his arse!

The fourth poem is a return to the fourteen line acrostic sonnet in which the unburdened message is the title, which is also embedded acrostically. The circumference — those “semantic connotations that go beyond the core meaning of a word” — is embedded in the body of the sonnet — its structure, its words, rhyming patterns, etc. — and hopefully suggests metaphors of “experience; reality; enlightenment; intelligence; revelation; inspiration; wisdom” alongside “irrefutable aspects of reality,” and all in ways which clarify the unburdened title’s message.

REQUIEM: AMERICA

Requiem, as dirge of sophistic love,
Exposes destinies which nations earn.
Quoth Hamlet: “Conscience does make cowards of
Us all” – that is, till We the People learn,
Implicitly, that human Cowardice
Exudes contempt for Rationalities.
Meanwhile, mankind’s destiny – Avarice –
Appears in service to those Vanities
Most shallowed minds presume to be their right,
Enabling failure thus of Self, of State.
Repression blooms and quickly dims all light
Intrinsic to the heart of Freedom’s Fate –
Consumed – whilst words of Truth, now specious, Moan . . .
And stand as lifeless slogans . . . etched in stone.

And finally, a non-circumferential Emily Dickinson verse containing but one simile and no exhaustive metaphor, but which nevertheless manages to sum up — in four lines and a mere twenty-one words — the entire of the personas of each George W. Bush, Willard M. Romney, and Donald J. Trump (along with the bulk of the remainder of the entire Republican Party, for that matter). Or maybe that’s Circumference in its purest form!

How dreary — to be — Somebody!
How public — like a Frog —
To tell one’s name — the livelong June —
To an admiring Bog!

******

Final note: Setting Poetry, Circumference, and the collective message(s) embedded therein aside for the moment, one fact continues to stand tall by itself, and it needs no metaphorical support to burgeon its impact: Far Right Wing Politics represent one of the — if not THE — most deadly and dangerous enemies of the State, of we the People, of Civilization, and of the Planet itself. This country continues to teeter on the brink of succumbing to that political machine that cares for NOTHING other than power and the wealth thereby gatherable. In fact, the most salient way to put Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan into effect would be to turn the clock back some sixty years, dispose of right wing conservatism completely, and work instead to build a nation and a society in which there is no hate, no fear, no greed, but instead one that’s built upon education, creative thought, innovation, and, of course, Poetic Circumference! — all of which invariably work together hand-in-hand to discourage the unenlightened thought that defines Right Wing Conservatism. And then we can — finally — begin again that elusive goal of building a civilization NOT based on hate, fear, and avarice.

Worth a try, I’d say.

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“OK, we’ll have to leave it there.”

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday August 18 2016; A Poetic Summation of Donald J. Trump, His Egomaniacal Persona, and the Downhill Slope Implicit

Yesterday is History,
‘Tis so far away —
Yesterday is Poetry —
‘Tis Philosophy –
(Emily Dickinson)

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I’ve about given up on coming up with any reasonable summation of Donald Trump, his persona, his politics, his ambitions, etc., mainly because every time I think I’ve got him figured, the next day rolls around, he opens his mouth one more time and poof, there goes yesterday’s summation. So I thought I’d try Emily’s idea; since the Trump of Yesterday is History, let’s see if we can convert it/him to Poetry as a means of describing/summarizing the Philosophy implicit therein. Make sense?

Easier said than done, but still worth a try. So here it is, my five day attempt at converting Yesterday’s History into Poetry with a bit of Philosophy (hopefully) embedded.

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DONALD J. TRUMP and His Egomaniacal Persona
(via an Acrostic Fourteener Quatorzain)

Democracy allows a boundless sprawl of mindless thought.
One brief glance today unmasks a nominee who deems to
Ne’er dismiss his savage spiels, hoping they’ll all soon be taught
As “brilliant” memes. Whilst he himself wears masks of learned view,
Lengthy rhetoric from this vapid nominee reveals
Dismal platitudes, each expressed as if nonsensical
Judgment of those who are more sane, of those whose soul appeals
To wisdom, not to ignorance of issues topical.
Racial bigots find curious relief in hate and fear
Until they sense themselves dismissed by grand impassioned dreams;
Misogyny as well embraces minds that aim to smear
Perspectives based on common goals of life — with bogus schemes.
Deliv’rance of this nation’s soul and heart is thus on hold
Till egomania’s greed and sloth are either bought — or sold.

******

So that was last weekend — fourteen lines and 196 syllables arranged acrostically in a Shakespearean rhyming pattern  (*abab-cdcd-efef-gg*), which came up short. Not because of poetic failure, but because the egomaniacal Trump keeps on unleashing ever-more wild and rabid dogs, to the point where not even an Acrostic-Fourteener-Quatorzain can put all the dogs to sleep! So what then? A five line, 39 syllable limerick, maybe? Lessee; how about this:

There once was a man named Drumpfinski
Who ran to be Presidentinski
But his problems with words
Were remindful of turds —
Including his ‘friend’ Vlad Putinski.

Yeah, that kinda works. I know it’s not a total and complete summary of the Trump/Russia romance, but since poetry is always intended to be far more an esoteric summation than a court document, I think it works pretty well.

Time will ultimately reveal, of course, exactly what demands Trump’s candidacy (and/or his election? shudder!) might put on the poetic world, but it’s fair to assume the word “minimal” will not be a good fit under any imaginable circumstance.

There is a difference, of course, between the “demands” a given political outcome might put “on the poetic world” and what that same result might actually impose on the ‘real world,’ a dilemma I’ve here tried to summarize alphabetically, if not exactly poetically. More simply stated, ‘what might be America’s “ABC’s” should an egomaniacal right wing nutcase such as Donald J. Trump (or any such) actually win an election and thereby be granted ‘full power of the State” here in Amurkkka? Here are my thoughts on that specific matter in alphabetical order, mostly:

America’s Bullish Contentious Demands are
Expressions of Fear, Greed, Hatred, and
Irrationality, each Justified via
Knowledge” of Luciferian and Messianic Nonsense,
Organized and Politicized
Quintessentially by REPUBLICAN Sociopathology
Through their Undercurrents of Vicarious and
Wistful Xenophobia.

Yeehaw!

Zap!

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So there it is; my poetic summation of the candidacy of Donald J. Trump along with the probable consequences to this country should our really rottenest luck prevail and enshrine his election as POTUS. Maybe T.S.Eliot, close to a hundred years ago, managed to sum up that never-ending human dilemma when he wrote:

The river’s tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the brown land, unheard.
The nymphs are departed.
(. . .)
I think we are in rat’s alley
Where the dead men lost their bones.

Stated another way,

Trump Dumb

Indeed.

Or, as Samuel Taylor Coleridge once put it:

Sir, I admit your general rule,
That every poet is a fool,
But you yourself may serve to show it,
That every fool is not a poet.

Amen.

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Bonus (non-poetic) Drumpfinski et Putinski link?

Trump campaign chair laid the groundwork for Putin’s Crimea annexation: leaked memo

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“We’ll have to leave it there.”

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OPEN THREAD

 

 

The Watering Hole; Friday July 15 2016; Trinity plus Seventy-one

Trinity

Seventy-one years ago this day, July 15, 1945, at the White Sands Proving Grounds near Alamagordo, New Mexico, final preparations were underway for the first test of the Manhattan Project’s creation: the nuclear fission bomb, the Atomic Bomb. Early the next morning — seconds short of 5:30 AM — the ‘Trinity’ test explosion sent a  searingly bright ‘rising sun’ some 40,000 feet into the desert sky, and the atomic age was launched. Two more fission bombs — one Uranium, the other Plutonium —  remained; they were intended to be used to end the Second World War, to force mass surrender of the Axis powers. Originally, the first target was to have been Nazi Germany, but since Germany had surrendered unconditionally on May 7, 1945, the remaining target was Japan.

On August 6, 1945, the “Little Boy” Uranium-235 bomb was dropped on Hiroshima; some 70,000 people died in result. Three days later on August 9, 1945, the “Fat Man” Plutonium-239 bomb was dropped on Nagasaki; some 40,000 people died instantly, and some 30,000 more died before the end of the year from the effects of the blast. On August 15, 1945, Japan offered its unconditional surrender. The final surrender was made official on September 2, 1945 — exactly forty-eight days following the Trinity test explosion in New Mexico. The Atomic Age, hurriedly ushered in thanks to the six year-old Manhattan Project, had proven its power.

Many people, myself included, have long wondered exactly why it was that the US chose to destroy two Japanese cities in just three days, why the US didn’t, instead and so as to save tens of thousands of innocent lives, detonate the first bomb away from a population center but in such a way as to ensure the explosion and mushroom fireball would be visible to a large number of Japanese people, especially to their military leaders. It may have worked, but if not the second device would have still been available. Such an option was indeed discussed by those responsible for the decision, but they decided to take the other course instead.

In the mid-1990’s and on or about the fiftieth anniversary of the Second World War’s official end, I happened to be visiting Hawaii. While there, one of our many stops was Pu’owaina, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. During a somber walk amongst the earlier rows of graves, I stumbled upon a footstone, an ironic grave marker of a U.S. Marine Lt. who was killed somewhere in the Pacific . . . on the exact day in late October 1942 that I was born. The irony stuck with me, and over the next several years I spent uncounted hours attempting to summarize my own view of World War II history and its impact via a lengthy poetic essay, of sorts. The following three poems are excerpted from that poetic essay entitled Emeralds and Ashes. The selections are poem numbers 3, 4, and 5, from . . .

Part II: The WAR in THE PACIFIC

****

G _ D HAVE MERCY

saipan
iwo jima
okinawa
Islands where battles raged to capture
stepping stones
to place the
empire of japan
within range of
bombers
and of
bombs

G _ D
have mercy

the toll in life snuffed or wounded
by flame and bullet
enormous
saipan
34,000
iwo jima
51,000
okinawa
205,000
and fateful lesson learned
‘twas said and written
invasion of japan would bear a cost in human life
unimagined
and far greater than any battle fought before in
all of human history

G _ D
have mercy

there had to be a better way

new mexico
july 16 1945
anno domini
at dawn a flash
described by witness as

. . . enormous ball of . . .
  fire
and closely resembled a

rising sun

a better way
now found
but now
the hour
is
late

later than e’er before

G _ D
have mercy

****

THE RISING SUN

a subtle crimson dawn
bears witness to the

rising sun

as drone of aircraft parts the tropic stillness
of oahu
without warning
flashes
explosions
and searing heat
begin their murderous task
of destroying fleet of ships
and sailors
amidst screams and death
in aftermath
silent determination signals that
the beginning of the end
is begun

then other places and other dawns
in consort with the

rising sun

turn the ocean red as if with blood
the stench of war prevails
and stench of death overwhelms
and sickens
all but gods of east and west
who remain curiously silent
unoffended by carnage beneath them on
bataan
midway
guadalcanal
saipan
okinawa
to name a few
now emerald tombstones
for untold tens of thousands

the inland sea
bears witness to the final dawn of war
as familiar drone parts the morning silence
unobtrusively
above the

land of rising sun

and lets drop its cargo
the soul of hell encased in steel
a flash
explosion
and mushroom cloud’s
atomic searing heat vaporizes
screams and moans
of all beneath this erstwhile devil’s

rising sun

hiroshima
where satan’s crimson dawn
lays carnage at the feet of men
and of gods who never cared enough
to halt atrocities
which tore their world to shreds
the heart of the

rising sun

finally stilled
alongside hearts of
innocents across the globe
the murdered dead
who whisper questions
through the dirt which overlies
their shallow graves

why
they ask
are all gods deaf
to prayers of the living
and deaf to screams
of dying and the dead
why is misery of carnage
always allowed to bear witness to the

rising sun

of yet another dawn
and we are not

?

****

¡HALLELUJAH!

finis!
of this
the latest
war to end all wars
september 2 1945

anno domini

as japan capitulated
on quarter-deck of dreadnought
uss missouri
at anchor in tokyo bay
these final words were spoken
by douglas macarthur
army general of the victors

let us pray that peace be now restored to the world
and that god will preserve it always

PRAISE BE TO GOD!
HALLELUJAH!

in global conflagration
fifty millions dead or missing
cities and nations now become
smoking rubble
through cause unjustifiable
by any measure of
sanity
or insanity

or PRAISE BE TO GOD
or HALLELUJAH

left behind a lexicon
of horror

auschwitz birkenau buchenwald treblinka bergen-belsen majdanek babi yar
pearl harbor bataan guadalcanal saipan iwo jima okinawa hiroshima nagasaki

Holocaust

to those who perished
by fetid hand of satan’s fetid soul

PRAISE BE TO GOD?
HALLELUJAH?

aftermath prophesied in
bhagavad gita

“If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst
at once into the sky
that would be like the Splendor of
The Mighty One . . .
‘I am become Death, Shatterer of Worlds.’”

EPITAPH:

IN HOC SIGNO

VINCES!

¡HA! …
Halle …
Hallelu …
¡JA!

Praise be to . . .

?

****

Today countless other nations possess nuclear arms. Many of them are sworn enemies: Pakistan-India; Israel-Pakistan; N. Korea-the World; China-Russia-USA . . . the possibilities of nuclear conflict are as ongoing as they are endless. And even as rationality diminishes daily amongst adversaries, the good news remains that, as of this day, so far, only the United States has used the atomic bomb against a military enemy, and only twice as noted above. But still the fact remains: two of the first three atomic bombs ever detonated — “miniatures” in today’s world — destroyed two cities and killed nearly 150,000 people in the process.

Today, 2016 — according to the Federation of American Scientists and as posted on the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) website — “nine countries together possess more than 15,000 nuclear weapons,” and of those weapons, “most are many times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945.” They list arsenals as follows:

United States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6970 Warheads

Russia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7300

United Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215

France . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300

China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 260

India . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100-120

Pakistan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110-130

Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80

North Korea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . <10

TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15,350 Warheads

The obvious reality is a simple one: a full-fledged nuclear war will likely extinct most if not all life forms on the planet. PRAISE BE TO GOD? HALLELUJAH?  Hardly. Human Insufficiency — Stupidity — is a much better fit.

It’s fair to note, too, that earlier this year (presumed) Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump publicly advocated that Japan, South Korea, and probably other countries as well be encouraged/allowed to arm themselves with nuclear weapons. Given the location of his home in New York City’s Trump Tower, would it be fair to consider that recommendation as yet one more Manhattan Project? In any case, should Drumpf manage to win the POTUS-ship in the upcoming election, I suggest he adopt as his Administration’s slogan that line from the Bhagavad Gita, the line that reads

‘I am become Death, Shatterer of Worlds.’

It suits him, somehow.

******

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday November 19 2015; A Thru Z of the G.O.P.

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
an’ foolish notion
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
an’ ev’n devotion!
(Robert Burns from ‘To a Louse’)

Sounds like a request from the RNC, doesn’t it? I mean, the G.O.P. really does need it, after all — the means To see oursels as ithers see us! — especially in view of their collective reactions to the recent Paris mass murders for which they have so far blamed everyone BUT the underlying cuplrit, best described as the subterranean politic that’s most ably portrayed, this day, by those images they each see every morning in their respective mirrors.

So here’s my contribution, the A thru Z of the way that at least one “ither” (moi) sees them all, the entire of the G.O.P., its presidential Clown Car occupants in particular:

America’s Bullish Contentiousness Demands
Expressions of Fear, Greed, Hatred, and
Irrationality, each Justified via
Knowledge” of Luciferian and Messianic Nonsense,
Organized and Politicized
Quixotically by Republican Sociopathologists, via 
Tendentious Undercurrents of Vicarious and
Wistful Xenophobia.

Yeehaw!

Zap!

The G.O.P.’s post-Paris Expressions of Fear, Greed, Hatred, and Irrationality remind me of another era and an event depicted therein — one which well defines what should be sanity’s reaction to what *they* see as *their* subliminally ‘Germanic’ but nonetheless Star Spangled (Conservative) Vaterland,’ including its Tendentious Undercurrents of Vicarious and Wistful Xenophobia:

Vive la France!

For some odd reason, both current and past events also bring to mind yet another Burns’ verse, one in which he perfectly describes today’s G.O.P. reaction to almost anything that happens anywhere on earth or beyond. This from “To a Mouse”:

But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

Amen and Yea Verily.

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The Watering Hole; Thursday October 22 2015; In Memoriam: J.F. Fogerty

“. . . the heart within them screamed for all-out war!
Like vultures robbed of their young,
the agony sends them frenzied,
soaring high from the nest, round and
round they wheel, they row their wings,
stroke upon churning thrashing stroke,
but all the labor, the bed of pain,
the young are lost forever.”
Agamemnon (by Aeschylus)

Seventy-three years ago today, this day, October 22, 1942, a man died. He was a 2nd Lieutenant in the USMC, 35 years old, and was ‘lost forever‘ to the world when he was killed in action somewhere in the South Pacific. Fogerty was a relatively early American victim of the Second World War’s mass carnage, and his remains were among the first interred in Pu’owaina, today known as the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu Hawaii.

In the late summer of 1992, I visited Hawaii and spent a couple of hours wandering the confines of Pu’owaina. “Pu’owaina” is a long extinct volcanic crater on the island of Oahu. When one looks outward from its makai rim, the field of view includes Diamond Head, the city of Honolulu, Pear Harbor, and the vast sprawl of the Pacific beyond. The opposite view (ma’uka) tends to focus not on the distant Ko’olau mountains, but instead on the floor of the crater and the thousands of foot-stone grave markers that lie embedded in the lush grass, just below the ascending white marble stairs and columns which define the aptly named Garden Of The Missing.

Overall, the entire of Pu’owaina.is a somber place, one where visitors speak in hushed voice as they listen to the messages which emanate — in silence — from the hallowed ground. What struck me the hardest during my silent wander through the first rows of foot-stones was a single detail on a single marker — and especially the irony implicit. A month or two later and safely back on the mainland, I still and often found myself reflecting upon that marker and the ironic detail that had first gathered my attention. And so it was that 23 years ago, on this date, I wrote the following . . .

JOHN FRANCIS, R.I.P
Reflection after fifty years

John Francis was a soldier.
2nd Lt., United States Marines.
B. February 17, 1907.
D. October 22, 1942.
So reads the foot-stone which lies in shadow of marble pillars,
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific,
Honolulu.

1942,
Anno Domini,
The year John Francis died
Dawned in fateful aftermath of Date of Infamy
And saw the world engulfed in war.
Young men across the globe heeded call to arms
Not knowing of their fate
Though each and all feared the worst.
As private prayers pursed their lips
Battles raged In Europe, Asia, and across the Pacific –
And everywhere, young men fell into the dark abyss
Of deathly silence –
‘Last full measure of devotion’ now complete,
Souls freed.

John Francis went to war in 1942 –
A Massachusetts Patriot
Descended of those who gave up all to leave their homeland
To seek a better life in a place far removed from what they knew –
A place removed from war.
And when the call to arms was issued
He was ready
To climb aboard a ship and sail
Toward battles already raging.
His duty, he knew, was to lead the fight –
To keep the flame of free men alive atop the pyre
Of human hope.
He didn’t know his fate, of course.
Such things are not written in advance for men to read.

John Francis fought the valiant fight until that fateful day –
October 22, 1942,
Anno Domini.
When then there came another call –
This time from his God.

And
Then
John Francis died.

John Francis was interred with honors due
The fallen,
Beneath the Emerald grass of Hawaii
In a somber place – a place which makes the living beg
The question and ask their God or gods –
Why?
Fifty millions dead –
Why?
Perhaps we’ll never know.

I found myself staring at the foot-stone of John Francis.
It was in an early row of graves, close to the ascending stairs.
The marble columns and the Garden of the Missing
Gleamed above the grass of the cemetery.
I lingered there, humbled,
Recalling things, histories,
And ironies.

For on the day John Francis died
Another life began, a full half-world away –
There was a birth, you see –
And the newborn heard no gunshots as he took his first breath.
Nor was he able to wonder if John Francis had heard the noise –
The summons of his God –
Which claimed his last
Breath.

John Francis shares a date with me –
His final day upon this earth
Was my first.
And after fifty years had passed I promised him –
As I stood in sunshine, free of war, alive
Upon his grave –
That I would ne’er forget
His sacrifice.

John Francis
Fogerty.

R.I.P.

Those were my thoughts a near quarter century ago. Today, on the seventy-third anniversary of John Francis Fogerty’s untimely death, I still find myself wondering if there will ever come a time in human history when a child might be born on a day where no one will die — anywhere — in yet another war. I wonder also, has there ever been, across the entire span of human existence on this earth, a single day when a birth anywhere was not coincident with a wartime death?

Aeschylus’ Agamemnon spoke of the situation circa 480 B.C.E., and sadly those words still, to this day, perfectly describe the consequences of mankind’s greatest failure: his never-ending propensity to engage in yet one more war . . .

“Dear gods, set me free from all the pain,
from the watch I keep . . .

“I mustn’t sleep, no — . . .

“I sob for all that’s come to the house. So badly
managed now. Men die and things go down.
Oh for a blessed end to all our pain,
some godsend burning through the dark.”

Amen.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, October 21, 2015. Fall, Falling, Fallen.

Fallen leaves like heroes lay
Beneath the Poplar trees,
Whose outstretched arms to heaven pray
Unmoved by Autumn breeze.

In blaze of glorious color did
Our fallen heroes die,
Red and orange and yellow hid
The reason for the lie.

Parched Earth waits for Winter’s rain
While heroes turn to dust,
And leaves become the earthworm’s gain
As plowshares slowly rust.

The curtain falls in equal share,
As heroes rest in Gaia’s care.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Friday September 18 2015; “O wad some Power the giftie gie us . . .”

HA! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly . . .
Robert Burns in “To a Louse”

No verbosity today, just a handful of links to what could easily be grouped into a collective website named insanity.com, or something similar if that name’s already taken. So here they are, eight of the week’s Nutcasearrhea highlights (not counting the R-Debate):

Steve Deace Links The Kim Davis Saga And Gay Marriage To 9/11

Tony Perkins: ‘Lawlessness’ Under Obama Paving The Way For The Antichrist

Tony Perkins: ‘I Fear For The Country And What May Occur’ If Congress Doesn’t Defund Planned Parenthood

Beck: America Will See Riots, Chaos And Assassinations In 2016

Linda Harvey: US Must Fight Gay Rights, Not Climate Change

Ann Corcoran: Syrian Refugees Will Establish A Muslim Caliphate In America

Michael Savage Likens Pope Francis And Bernie Sanders To Pol Pot

And finally, the week’s pinnacle of Teh Stupid:

Ted Nugent: Only Donald Trump Can Save Us!

That stuff is so completely nutso that I feel obligated to toss in some evidences of calm sanity — concepts NOT based on the Republican / Fundamentalist-Christer mantra of hate, fear, war, and greed, some more peaceful images of the real world,  that vast arena “out there” that the insane among us have completely dismissed and abandoned. Like this first one — a fly on a wildflower.

Sep 6 bug on wildflower 1806

Or how about a pair of unidentified bugs attending to their daily wildflower duties:

Sep 7 Bug on wildflower 1823Sep 6 Bug on Wildflower 1811And this, a pair of itty-bitty flies hanging onto what will likely prove to be the Last (yellow) Rose of Summer:

Sep 10 Bugs on yellow rose 1835And finally this one. A goose doing something not even Donald Trump can manage — taking an afternoon snooze while standing on one leg on a mostly submerged rock a hundred yards offshore!

Sep 15 Beckwith goose 1879I’d sure like to see most any one of the nutcases cited above try that!

There you have it, proof positive that wildflowers, flies, bugs, roses, geese, and even submerged rocks “out there” are superior in virtually every way to those insanity-driven human hordes “in here” that have come to haunt the planet!

Robert Burns concluded “To a Louse” with this great idea:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
an’ foolish notion
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
an’ ev’n devotion!

Yep. That about sums it!

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Friday August 7 2015; The First Republican Presidential Candidate “Debate” Summarized

In tribute to last night’s Republican “debate” — here, from Apocalypse Now,
is Marlon Brando reciting T.S. Eliot’s masterpiece,

“The Hollow Men.”

******

Today dedicated to

Debate clowns 1Pretty much sums it all up.

******

Oh, and one more thing. In case you weren’t aware of it, a right wing preacher-man has pointed out that God is Using Donald Trump And Fox News To Save America!

Yee Haw.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday July 9 2015; “There Hath Past Away a Glory From the Earth”

200 years ago — In 1815 — the final version of Wm. Wordsworth’s poetic masterpiece, Ode on Intimations of Immortality was completed. The first two stanzas read as follows:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;–
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

Wordsworth was clearly prescient; one could imagine, in fact, that he wrote those words just last week, and in the process most ably summed up the atrocities that our species is currently visiting upon the earth.

If there should be any doubt of human’s global NEGATIVE impact, this recent truthout.org essay entitled Mass Extinction: It’s the End of the World as We Know It is a well-done synopsis of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) and the realities implicit in the atmospheric damage humans have caused as of this day. I won’t go into detail or attempt to summarize the entire of the essay, but I will quote here a single paragraph that discusses the self-reinforcing-feedback-loop dilemma that is a consequence of mankinds’ release into the atmosphere of billions and billions of tons of Carbon Dioxide.

A self-reinforcing positive feedback loop is akin to a “vicious circle”: It accelerates the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD). An example would be methane releases in the Arctic. Massive amounts of methane are currently locked in the permafrost, which is now melting rapidly. As the permafrost melts, methane – a greenhouse gas 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a short timescale – is released into the atmosphere, warming it further, which in turn causes more permafrost to melt, and so on.

We have already reached the point where we’re only a few degrees short of the warming that occurred some 250 million years ago — caused by massive volcanism in Siberia — that led to an increase in global temperatures of 6 degrees Celsius and caused the “Great Dying” (aka the Permian Mass Extinction) where it is estimated that 95% of earth’s life forms became extinct. This day, and according to

. . . a recently published study in Science Advances, . . . the planet has officially entered its sixth mass extinction event. The study shows that species are already being killed off at rates much faster than they were during the other five extinction events, and warns ominously that humans could very likely be among the first wave of species to go extinct.

Perhaps that’s the best news the universe has heard since the Big Bang — that humans could very likely be among the first wave of species to go extinct. Not a troubling stat to our solar system, I’m sure.

Wordsworth referred to mankind’s most egregious fault in his poem Lines Written in Early Spring when he wrote:

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

And here we are, 200 years down the road, and What man has made of man is imposing drastic effects on the entire of the earth’s biosphere, including himself. In a recent Reuters blog post, the dilemma was summarized:

Humans will be extinct in 100 years because the planet will be uninhabitable, according to Australian microbiologist Frank Fenner, one of the leaders of the effort to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. He blames overcrowding, denuded resources and climate change. Fenner’s prediction is not a sure bet, but he is correct that there is no way emissions reductions will be enough to save us from our trend toward doom. And there doesn’t seem to be any big global rush to reduce emissions, anyway.

Sounds as though the story’s ending is already known and told. The “intelligent” species, the species ‘created in God’s image,’ the species that was ‘granted dominion’ over eacn and all other life forms — aka Homo sapiens, the most recent ape-derivative mammalian species to evolve — is soon to have as its sole legacy the mass destruction of life on the one planet known so far to contain LIFE. I suppose in some quarters the ability to accomplish such a feat will be seen as defining the word “intelligence.” I disagree, and note that William Wordsworth — in Intimations of Immortality, the final verse — summarized the attitude of those few who will lament the Sixth Mass Extinction, when he wrote:

The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Respect for all of life is absent in a great percentage of minds of the species that has declared itself the planet’s dominant entity, a detail which offers confirmation of the Wordsworthian thesis That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

R.I.P. Mother Earth

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday June 4 2015; The Constitution v. “Burning” Wingnut Dementia

Morality, thou deadly bane,
Thy tens o’ thousands thou hast slain
Vain is his hope, whase stay an’ trust is
In moral mercy, truth, and justice!
(Robert Burns)

Here are some links to recent wingnut dementia concerning, at their root, the “moral” issues of gay marriage and transgenderism. The article titles pretty much summarize the content.

Roy Moore: Gay Marriage Will ‘Literally Cause The Destruction Of Our Country’

Tom DeLay: Americans Must ‘Rise Up’ Against SCOTUS If It Rules For Marriage Equality

Mike Huckabee: Gay Marriage Will Criminalize Christianity by Elevating ‘A Lifestyle To The Status Of A Civil Right’

Jindal: Left Trying To ‘Outlaw Firmly Held Religious Beliefs That They Do Not Agree With’

Conservative Pundit: ‘The Nation May Not Survive’ Caitlyn Jenner’s Gender Transition

Alex Jones: Caitlyn Jenner Distracting Us From Obama Civil War

Nothing in any of those links likely catches anyone by surprise, given that the ‘speakers’ are, in no specific order, two 2016 Republican presidential candidates, one (Republican) state Supreme Court justice, one (Republican) former House Majority Whip (since convicted for campaign finance money laundering, conviction later overturned by a Texas appellate court), and a pair of wingnut pundits. One might presume at least a couple of those folks to be familiar with Constitutional details appropriate to their arguments (since each and all cite it regularly, albeit usually erroneously), but no, apparently not so. Or maybe it’s just me that doesn’t understand Constitutional reality? I’m not a legal eagle by any stretch, but I like to think I still have the ability to read and comprehend.

Example: here’s Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment (ratified on July 9, 1868):

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Note the lack of specificity in re the words All persons or in the attendant phrase born or naturalized in the United States; there’s no reference to male, female, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, hair color, age, DNA sequence, even to convicted felon(s) — ONLY to All persons. Seems to me it probably refers to everyone who fits the “citizen” category. Period [with the exception, of course, of plants, the higher animals, etc., none of whom are “persons” anyway — at least not in the legal sense — even when born . . . in the United States]. So what’s the rub? Am I not on the mark in wondering just how it is that the question of marriage/sexual preference equality ever found its way to a legitimate hearing by the Supreme Court?

Baffling. It may be true that some believe LGBT rights trample on religious freedom, on religious rights, but how is even THAT a meaningful complaint? The First Amendment allows “no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” and implied in that brief clause (and also in the Constitution’s main body, Article VI) is the parallel thesis that a given religion has no right to impose itself on anyone else, either, particularly the unwilling. One hopes/presumes it’s also true that the notion of directed or focused hatred may NOT be logically deemed a religious ‘right’ or parcel to ‘religious freedom’ no matter the howls of protest to the contrary.

And further, the conservative thesis that just because gay marriage, exempli gratia, happens to be legal and valid in one or more states does NOT mean other states must recognize same falls on hard times when considered in the light of Article IV of the Constitution’s main body:

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.

Seems to me that there’s really no legal issue worth looking at in re LGBT rights and same-sex marriage. The Constitution’s authors never included in its text the words marriage, gender, sex, homosexual, heterosexual, transgender . . . or any other ‘modifier’ currently in vogue (or this day in Vanity Fair, for that matter) to more precisely define the words All persons as in Amendment XIV.

In any case and as noted in the links above, if the SCOTUS should (again) rule in favor of Amendment XIV it won’t take long for the Biblical end times to begin and for Amurkkka to disintegrate and dump herself into the pit of the damned — even as the pure of heart (mostly Republicans) will be gathered up and taken to a blissful eternity. Right? Right.

Maybe what they’re really trying to say was better said by Robert Burns, who put it this way in his poem titled “Holy Willie’s Prayer”:

O Thou, who in the heavens does dwell,
Who, as it pleases best Thysel’,
Sends ane to heaven an’ ten to hell,
A’ for Thy glory,
And no for ony gude or ill
They’ve done afore Thee! . . .

When frae my mither’s womb I fell,
Thou might hae plunged me in hell,
To gnash my gums, to weep and wail,
In burnin lakes,
Where damned devils roar and yell,
Chain’d to their stakes.

Yet I am here a chosen sample,
To show thy grace is great and ample;
I’m here a pillar o’ Thy temple,
Strong as a rock,
A guide, a buckler, and example,
To a’ Thy flock.

O Lord, Thou kens what zeal I bear,
When drinkers drink, an’ swearers swear,
An’ singin there, an’ dancin here,
Wi’ great and sma’;
For I am keepit by Thy fear
Free frae them a’.

But yet, O Lord! confess I must,
At times I’m fash’d wi’ fleshly lust:
An’ sometimes, too, in wardly trust,
Vile self gets in:
But Thou remembers we are dust,
Defil’d wi’ sin.

O Lord! yestreen, Thou kens, wi’ Meg-
Thy pardon I sincerely beg,
O! may’t ne’er be a livin plague
To my dishonour,
An’ I’ll ne’er lift a lawless leg
Again upon her.

Lord, bless Thy chosen in this place,
For here Thou hast a chosen race:
But God confound their stubborn face,
An’ blast their name,
Wha bring Thy elders to disgrace
An’ public shame.

But, Lord, remember me an’ mine
Wi’ mercies temp’ral an’ divine,
That I for grace an’ gear may shine,
Excell’d by nane,
And a’ the glory shall be thine,
Amen, Amen!

Ah yes, if ONLY someone in the Clown Car could speak wi’ Scottish Brogue! 😉 Yeah, I know. Nevermind.

In any case, Burns did indeed somehow manage to even more completely define the occupants of the Republican Clown Car — along with their conservative ‘brothers’ and pundits everywhere when, in 1793, he wrote this brief but eloquent description of “Commissary Goldie’s Brains”:

“Lord, to account who dares thee call,
Or e’er dispute thy pleasure?
Else why, within so thick a wall,
Enclose so poor a treasure?”

The “Burning” questions are obvious: Robert Burns wrote all of that more than 200 years ago; how did he know? Is Republican-style dementia eternal, perchance?

OPEN THREAD

PS: This just in — Michael Savage: Caitlyn Jenner ‘Mentally Ill,’ Blames Her For ISIS

The Watering Hole; Thursday April 16 2015; The ‘Eyes’ Have It

Since there’s nothing of note or import going on in human’s world these days, I thought a quick peek ‘out there’ — where the activity remains ceaseless — might be worth a quick look or two. Or three. More? Some recent photographs of various species of waterbirds perhaps? Following are a few from each of two corners of the world (well, from Colorado and Florida, at least) of, respectively, 2 species of geese, a Great Blue Heron, Sandhill Crane, and soon-to-be Great Egrets. The Colorado critters live a mile or so from my back yard and seem to enjoy posing; the crane and Egrets are from Florida, and last week were introduced to my longtime friend (from Tempe Arizona) Denny Green.

It’s long been said that a picture is worth a thousand words — unless, of course, the words are those of an accomplished poet such as, say, Emily Dickinson? Amazing how poetry can sort of sum up the obvious and still toss out intriguing ideas, maybe a new thought or two? An untried way to “see” perhaps? And speaking of seeing, in each and all of the photos below, the eyes have it! The world is fascinating enough to human eyes, but I wonder how it appears when seen thru the sharp eye of a wild critter? Dickinson spent a good deal of her reclusive life “mingling” with the natural world, always trying to see the world thru eyes other than her own. Following are a handful of Dickinson verses, not intended as photo captions but more to toss out different ideas — what she called “circumference,” one short verse for each of seven “captures” of (still free!) waterbird entities.

********

The Birds rose smiling, in their nests —
The gales — indeed — were done —
Alas, how heedless were the eyes —
On whom the summer shone!

Canadian       frugal photo

Canadian                                                                                                                                frugal photo

Sleep is supposed to be
By souls of sanity
The shutting of the eye.

Snoozing Canadian  frugal photo

Snoozing Canadian                                                                                                             frugal photo

Look back on Time, with kindly eye —
He doubtless did his best —
How softly sinks that trembling sun
In Human Nature’s West —

Chinese frugal photo

Chinese                                                                                                                                   frugal photo

If I should disappoint the eyes
That hunted — hunted so — to see —
And could not bear to shut until
They “noticed” me —

Snoozing Chinese frugal photo

Snoozing Chinese                                                                                                                frugal photo

He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all around —
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought —
He stirred his Velvet Head

Great Blue Heron frugal photo

Great Blue Heron                                                                                                                frugal photo

I’ve nothing else — to bring, You know —
So I keep bringing These —
Just as the Night keeps fetching Stars
To our familiar eyes —

Sandhill Crane and Chick photo by Denny Green

Sandhill Crane and Chick                                                                              photo by Denny Green

The Child’s faith is new —
Whole — like His Principle —
Wide — like the Sunrise
On fresh Eyes —

Great Egret Chicks photo by Denny Green

Great Egret Chicks                                                                                         photo by Denny Green

********

Lift it — with the Feathers
Not alone we fly —
Launch it — the aquatic
Not the only sea —
Advocate the Azure
To the lower Eyes —
He has obligation
Who has Paradise —

And finally, a parting thought:

Had we the eyes without our Head —
How well that we are Blind —
We could not look upon the Earth —
So utterly unmoved —

Shame is the shawl of Pink
In which we wrap the Soul
To keep it from infesting Eyes —
The elemental Veil
Which helpless Nature drops
When pushed upon a scene
Repugnant to her probity —
Shame is the tint divine.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday February 26 2015; Weird Week Weather-Wise

It’s been a weird week, weather-wise, both in Colorado and across much of the country. Here at the foot of the Rockies, we literally went from temps in the 70s and 80s — and a completely thawed lake — to heavy snow and temps near zero, then back into bright sunshine and warming days, then back to more cold and more heavy snow.

Following are six photographs that pretty much summarize the weird weather’s week. It begins on Thursday the 19th — a bright sunny and warm day at the local lake with a scene that definitely doesn’t look like mid-winter. It’s a lake view on an incredibly still afternoon. The water was glassy smooth and after looking at the photo, I thought the reflections of the bare and leafless trees looked better when the scene was inverted — a touch of Monet, maybe? Oh, and that white stuff at the waterline is the remnant of the snow that fell a couple of weeks earlier.

Beckwith reflections 899The next day, Friday the 20th, not too much changed. It was cooler, and by afternoon the wind had picked up. Something was definitely in the air, though, and the weather forecast was looking pretty grim — this time they got it right. The following five shots show the progression of the storm; in order to avoid freezing my delicate shutter finger, each and all were taken through my front window.

First, Saturday morning, the gathering storm as it wrapped its arms around Mt. St, Charles, a 12.000 ft peak in the Front Range, the Wet Mountains.

Mt St Charles 904The snow started falling Saturday afternoon and was still coming down on Sunday morning, with close to a foot on the ground by 8AM. In the photo below, note the two almost buried cars, parked on what was once a passable road.

Snowy day 909Monday morning, the sun was out, the sky was blue, and the snow was covering everything in sight, trees included. The Front Range was still shrouded in an ice fog, however, and remained that way the entire day.

Snow scene 917Tuesday morning, the fog had dissipated and the sky over the mountains was crystal clear, and COLD!

Roundtop & St Charles 926The sun was still shining on Wednesday until around noon when the next weather front started coming over the front range. Dark clouds hailed the front’s arrival over Mt. St. Charles.

Mt St Charles 929Within the hour the Front Range was completely immersed in low clouds and fog, and by mid-afternoon the snow started to fall here. By seven PM Wednesday night, several inches had already fallen and the wind was blowing it all over the place; visibility was down to a few feet at best.

The bad part of the story is that, according to the National Weather Service, it’s likely to be Monday-next before things calm down again. So here’s some advice to everyone living east of the Rockies: don’t put your snow shovels away just yet!

I guess Emily Dickinson sort of summed it all up some 160 years ago when she wrote this little gem:

The Sky is low — the Clouds are mean.
A Travelling Flake of Snow
Across a Barn or through a Rut
Debates if it will go —

A Narrow Wind complains all Day
How some one treated him
Nature, like Us is sometimes caught
Without her Diadem.

Sure am glad all that climate change bunkum is nothing but a giant hoax. I mean hey, if it was for real, then various corners of the country might be getting some really goofy weather now and again!

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday February 12 2015; The Week That Just Was

It’s been a weird week. Last Thursday, the fifth of February, Obama attended the National Prayer breakfast, and when he spoke, he included a condemnation of all who ‘hijack religion’ and use it for tyrannical purpose even as they consider there actions justifiable by said religion. He was duly critical of the Islamic State aka ISIS, calling them a “death cult.” He was also critical of all religions who have, in their respective histories, irrefutable evidences of tyrannical behavior. He said, for example, that

“Unless we get on our high horse and think that this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

“So it is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a simple tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.”

From that point forward, the shit hit the fan bigtime in Wingnuttistan. In the days that followed, there clearly was more ‘Christian’ (I use the word loosely when it refers to far right wing adherents) outrage — more virulence — than most of us have seen in years, and it all came thundering down within a few days. I won’t bother to quote the vitriol, but for the curious, a quick peek here should satisfy: it’s where one Janet Mefferd Slams Interfaith ‘Garbage’ At National Prayer Breakfast and reveals a fairly good-sized chunk of wingnut Christian misinterpretation, especially of each and every word spoken by their arch-enemy — that Muslim-commie-fascist-Nazi-usurper — President Barack Obama.

OK, enough of Wingnuttistaniarrhea. There were other ‘happenings’ in the week that were a whole lot more interesting, happenings that I managed to record with my Sony (boy, do I like that 64X optical zoom and 20 megapixel resolution!) digital camera.

Here are a few captured moments from the past week. First, from February fifth (and note that even after the National Prayer Breakfast, the universe appears relatively undisturbed) a humble attempt at Monet-style impressionism with this inverted scene of shore and goose reflections in our slowly thawing local lake:

Geese 817 flipNext, the big event on the evening of that same day, the full moon rising behind the thinnest veil of winter’s hazy sky. Notice how, in spite of Obama’s earlier-in-the-day National Prayer Breakfast ‘blasphemy,’ the surface of the moon remains dutifully scarred, and even though it’s our nearest ‘heavenly’ body, it has obviously NOT been tossed from our view by a vengeful and merciless G– . . . Oops, never mind. Sometimes I tend to get carried away when the nuts come out — during the full moon, y’ know..

Rising moon 824On Feb. eighth (temp in the 70’s) most of the surface snow on the ice had melted, leaving behind only a series of goose tracks, dutifully recording the ‘pathways’ upon which they walked to/from the grassy area on the the shore where they like to hang out, and to/from their island roosting places:

Icy goose prints 827On the ninth — another mid-70’s day — the ice was melting fast and the honkers were, predictably, enjoying it. Most interesting was something I’d never before noticed in the local goose population which has been forever staffed with typically light brown Canadians. I don’t know whether these near-black critters are a variety of Canadian or another type altogether, but whatever, they seemed to get along with the more common locals, no problem. Here are a pair of the dark guys standing one rock away from a typical Canadian in the process of catching forty winks.

Geese rocks water ice 862Here’s a closer view, one of each.

Geese Canadian and dark 857 William Wordsworth once managed to sum up the enduring nature/human disparity when he wrote (in Intimations of Immortality) —

Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And, even with something of a Mother’s mind,
And no unworthy aim,
The homely Nurse doth all she can
To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.

Long story short: I can’t imagine why it is, but for some reason my tendency is to enjoy the natural world “out there” far more than the non-feathered two-legger’s domain — you know the place, “that imperial palace whence [we] came.” It’s where, according to Rick Santorum, ‘Sexual Activity’ Rights are Encroaching On Religious Rights.  Funny how geese and most other wild critters never seem to have that problem. Wonder why that is?

OPEN THREAD

 

 

The Watering Hole; Friday January 23 2015; The Land Of ‘Az’ — A State Of Mind?

Last Monday on Martin Luther King Day, I posted as a comment here some stuff I’d written a long time ago about Arizona’s concerted effort(s) to overturn former Governor Bruce Babbitt’s MLK-Day proclamation. What really fascinated me way back then was how much popular support the bigoted viewpoint had managed to muster. The “opinion” I posted here consisted of five verses from a topical poetic “essay” I’d worked on and written some 25 years ago in the early months of 1990, my summation of the local political stupidity of the day, a task which eventually wound up consuming a LOT of five-line metered stanzas, each with a defined rhyming pattern. I did separate them into various topic categories — ranging from the English-Only movement to the official attempt to regulate Dildos plus everything in between — but I mean Jeebus, how many layers of stupidity can stupid politicians come up with in a relatively short amount of time? Answer: LOTS!

Anyway, while looking for the MLK verses I read the whole thing once again and actually had to laugh. I mean, here we are twenty-five years later and we’re still surrounded by political stupidity — even MORE of it today than back then. These days it seems more concentrated in D.C. than in the several states, although certain states today most assuredly have advanced the ‘dumb’ to new levels. And even more fascinating is the fact that a great many of the issues back then remain issues today, everything from racist bigotry to crooked politicians to uninformed (uninformable?) voters to toxic waste disposal to air quality to . . . etc., ad infinitum.

So here it is, my nearly ‘ancient’ poetic essay titled “The Land Of ‘AZ’ / A State Of Mind (???).” I suspect most readers today won’t recognize too many of the names (nor did I, actually), but I’m willing to bet everyone will spot a familiar (and current!) political issue that’s mired in the same muck as was spread all over the place twenty-five years ago. So take a look at 1990 Arizona and compare any or all to most everywhere out there today. Has anything really changed?

*** 😀 ***

ARIZONA: The Land of ‘AZ’
A State Of Mind (???)

An Exploration of Issues Confronting the
Grand Canyon State

(With parenthetical explanations added to assist
the uninitiated and/or uninformed)
and,

With Unabashed Gratitude to Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
Who Once Wrote:

Sir, I admit your general rule,
That every poet is a fool,
Though you yourself do serve to show it
That every fool is not a poet.

 *** 😯 ***

Arizona’s Canyons, Grand,
Are more than scars upon our land,
For canyons here are metaphors
Which well-define those classic bores
That we anoint to guide our lives;
Thus, empty-headedness now thrives
And open spaces do equate
With minds in our ‘Grand Canyon State!’

Frank Baum, with perspicacity,
Created Oz for all to see;
Since lands like Oz we know about
(‘Cause Arizona’s Oz’ redoubt),
We stoop to honor Baum’s creation
And give you “Az” as assignation!

For Az, you see, has lots of lizards,
Plus its fair share of mindless wizards,
(Those folks whose hearts pump blood that’s blue,
But won’t pay Principle her due);
Here thinking folks with minds, constrained,
Watch common sense flushed down the drain,
So let’s examine, case by case,
What fills Az up with empty space!

*** 👿 ***

On Official English:

(Most Gringos need not ever fear,
For “English-Only’s” spoken here!)

A man from Az seems quite upset
By voices which he deems unsound
(They come from those whose backs are ‘wet,’
Whose culture might suggest a threat,
For, after all, their skins are brown!)

Then after checking ’round the State
He noticed more that wasn’t right,
For others, too, did not equate
That English ‘speak’ has made us great,
While foreign tongues are but a blight!

He set upon a private quest
To mandate Az’ official tongue,
And, as most readers might have guessed,
‘Official English’ finally passed:
Thank voters from the bottom rung!

On Dr. King and His Holiday:

(“Let’s vote on it,” the bigots say,
“We hate the spooks, so we’ll vote ‘nay.”‘)

Some liked the Reverend, some did not,
To many, Martin lived in sin,
But while most rednecks have a pot,
(Above the belt, you know the spot)
It’s clearly not for pissin’ in!

Now, Julian Sanders, Architect,
Hates Martin’s foibles; deems himself
As our ‘White Knight,’ to help reject
King’s day (black sin, we can’t accept!)
But white sin? Hide it on the shelf!

Thus, drawing strength from Fascist Right,
King’s holiday he did rebuff,
Though ignorant, to our delight,
That Kings are always Kings, despite
The fact that once a “Knight’s” enough!

Still, lawmakers, in reverie
(Like babes in woods with no foresight),
Enjoy their own soliloquy
While fearing their constituency,
With little ken of what is right.

With stroke of pen, they could defuse
Az’ image, seen as quite retarded
By those with more enlightened views;
But still, they say, they must refuse,
Since ‘think’ in Az ain’t well-regarded!

On the Politics of Sex:

(Our solon’s minds are queer, it seems,
They fear both hetero-sex and ‘queens.’)

Our legislators oft’ convene
(While resting on well-trussed behinds)
To censure sex, while we, serene,
The ‘Great Unwashed,’ now deemed unclean,
Them re-elect: blame empty minds!

So now it’s not correct, you see,
For youths to fondle budding breasts,
And with our Courts’ proclivity
To not endorse indecency,
It’s jail for kids who flunk the test!

On Dildos:
(Sex aids are bad, as we should know,
Thus, all but the five best must go!)

We recognize the bad effect
That dildos might create, for whores,
So solons seek new laws; in fact,
The “Regulate The Dildos” Act
Suggests we stuff ours in our … (drawers?)!

On Evan Mecham:

(There’s still a lot to say ’bout “Meek,”
Since it’s a fact he’d run next week.)

Old Ev’s upon us once again,
His mind’s a-lyin’ on the table,
The ninth floor chair, he’d like to win,
To spite Ed Buck, who lives in sin,
Ev’s vision’s unimpeachable!

He claims that he’s Republican
(Though many don’t believe it’s true),
It seems an insult to Abe Lincoln
That Ev espouse such lowly thinkin’
Reflective of a ‘ short’ I.Q.!

Ev proved to Az some time ago
That nonsense gets us nowhere fast,
Still, ‘Mechamistas’ join the flow
While dancing Evan’s do-si-do,
Determined Az rejoin the past!

We are, they say, a Christian Nation,
That pickaninnies, we embrace,
That if we heed John’s ‘Revelation’
We’ll pave the way for our salvation,
Creating, here, a State of Grace!

Yet, still remains a simple task
Much like the one we gave to Custer,
For one more question’s there to ask:
Pray, Evan, what’s behind your mask?
Savant or simply mindless bluster?

Az’ future’s here for us to read:
Expel the past or else relive it,
Yet some folks, born of mutant seed,
Still think that Evan’s what we need;
If he returns, we’ll sure deserve it!

On Air Quality:

(Though “brown clouds” visit every day,
Our solons look the other way.)

While desert air turns shades of brown,
Officials oft’ don’t seem to know it;
They’re usually more involved, downtown,
With things to make the voters frown,
Like naming AZ’ ‘Official Poet!’

On Deck Park:

(An Irish cottage soon will grace
Our Central Phoenix Homeless Place.)

The freeway’s buried ‘neath the ground,
For just about a country mile,
The deck’s the neatest park around
Say City Fathers who have found —
Some Irish eyes that still can smile!

A patch of garden, Japanese,
A ‘Central’ bridge where beggars squat,
An Irish farm with piggeries,
And here and there, some grass and trees,
But master plan? Pray, what is that?

On Charles Keating:

(Seems Charlie Keating’s really miffed,
Says, “Uncle Sam stole Lincoln Thrift!”)

Charlie Keating stormed the West
With love of bucks, disdain for sin,
So decency became his quest
While dollars filled his treasure chest;
“Morality,” he preached, “must win!”

He rode his White Horse ’round the town
While bilking folks with little ken
Of millions; yes, he let them down,
Now even ‘Lincoln’ wears a frown,
Morality, you lost again!

On Our Senators:

(Two Senators, we have elected,
Az’ special interests, now protected!)

While big shots waltz around the state,
Our John McCain and DeConcini
Both dance along, while they berate
Those interests we all love to hate,
While slipping us the silver weenie!

For Dennis made big bucks, you see,
While cleverly, in Real Estate,
Investing dough where C.A.P
Canals (he knew) were going to be;
Guess we all know his interest rate!

And John McCain’s spouse (Cindi) made
A pile (or so the pundits say);
Built shopping centers, unafraid,
While teamed with Keating’s Silver Spade
As John helped Charlie pave the way!

On Voters:

(With no-show votes notorious
Some issues aren’t victorious.)

Some covet bus and rapid rail
To speed the Valley’s stop-and-go,
(Most surface streets can slow a snail);
Yet ValTrans, there to pass or fail,
One-quarter showed and said, “Hell No!”

The old Salt River bed’s a scar
As it traverses, east to west;
Still, visioned parks did not get far
Since nihilists alone did star;
Again, three-quarters flunked the test!

On Power Companies:

(Five billion bucks to save us dough
With nuke plants? Let’s all laugh: “Ho, Ho!”)

Our Palo Verde nuke plant stands
On desert flats outside of town,
The slickest plant in ninety lands,
(Built by local power brigands)
It seldom works, it’s always down.

So, lights are lit by older plants
Not burdened by this nuke plant’s schism,
But power brokers still can dance
While lifting wallets from our pants;
So, where’s old Santa when we need’im?

On Drug Law Enforcement:

(Who says it’s not completely fair
For cops to trap kids, in a snare?)

When Paul McCartney came to town
To play a concert, in Tempe,
(A place, we’re sure, where drugs abound,
Since college kids, there, hang around)
AZ’ D.E.A. stopped by to see.

The night, it’s true, had some success,
For sixty thousand fans were there
While fifty cops in ‘funky’ dress
Sold thirty kids some pre-rolled ‘grass:’
Some charged, “Entrapment!” Cops asked, “Where?”

On Child Molesters:

(Two child molesters, swathed in sin,
Are punished, based on tint of skin;
For one man has a year to do,
The other? Hundred forty-two!)

Herr Mueller has a heart that’s cold,
As does Señor Martinez,
For each enjoyed girls ten years old
Whose souls, to Devil’s Hell, they sold;
So now, Az’ juris prudence says:

“Mueller gets a year in jail, plus
His pension from our City’s purse;
Martinez gets a one way bus
To prison: now, before you fuss,
Recall he’ll leave there in a hearse!”

Herr Mueller was a fireman, see,
As such, his union did prevail,
To act as his fiduciary
To salvage said pecuniary,
Which he can spend when out of jail!

And, what’s Martinez’ greatest sin?
Molesting children? Yes, perhaps,
But maybe, also, dark brown skin
Has come to haunt a life, again,
While Az’ “Blind Justice” takes a nap.

On Toxic Waste Disposal:

(The town of Mobile’s quite remote,
So solon’s said (I’ll try to quote),
“Let’s put a firery furnace there,
Burn toxic waste and foul the air!”)

Az needs a place to lose its trash,
With such a theory, we can’t argue,
Though now, perhaps, we should rehash
The premise that for lots of cash
We’ll burn dioxins in our venue.

Some folks think burning toxic stuff
Is not a great idea, because
Our State’s already fouled enough
With dirty air that makes us cough;
Such plans give many people pause.

So Az folks, at a public meeting
(Who came in force to air their views),
Received our State’s official greeting
By way of an official beating
At hands of Az’ jackbooted crews.

Yet, in this land of rock and sun
Just who condones such crass behaviours?
The County Sheriff’s force, for one,
Plus politicians who’ll soon run
For one more term as our State’s Saviours.

A year ago, in Beijing’s Square
Most freedoms fled in just a wink,
And, though Red China’s ‘over there,’
Some acts in Az make us aware
Of thoughts that we don’t like to think.

The Land of Az, Summation:

(Agendas shroud the Land of Az,
Most seem to make scant sense, because
There’s little else they do, you see,
Than fracture Az’ fraternity!)

Clear vision’s not a force in Az
As witnessed by vignettes, declaimed
In verse preceding; thus, ‘Great Cause’
Is now interred: Its headstone says,
“INCISIVENESS, HEREIN, DETAINED!”

For silliness, in Az, pervades;
Those charged with making great decision
Are loathe to garner passing grades
(Insightfulness, in darkness, fades,
Hence, they view ‘light’ with great derision!)

Yet, Az folks still will not admit
They’ve chosen leaders who beguile ’em
(For leaders here have half a wit,
And most of them seem full of shit!):
Are inmates runnin’ Az’ asylum?

The present here reflects the past,
And future’s scant consideration,
Our ‘Ship of State’ sails without mast
While others wonder, minds aghast,
If Az’ll e’er rejoin the nation!

So now, for Az, a eulogy
From Burns, ‘The Bard’ who pointed out
That, “… thou art blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:”
Which Az defines, without a doubt!

AFTERWARD

(To those fair minds entombed herein,
‘The Bard’ now speaks to you again,
So read this script wherein he says
Some able thoughts: perhaps of Az?):

When from my mither’s womb I fell
Thou might hae plung’d me deep in hell
To gnash my gooms, and weep, and wail
In burning lakes,
Whare damned’ devils roar and yell,
Chained to their stakes.
(Robert Burns,
from Holy Willie’s Prayer)

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The Watering Hole; Friday October 31 2014; A Diversion . . .

I was originally going to put up a pre-election post on current electoral “abnormalities” such as voter suppression, the money = speech nonsense, and . . . well, you know. Problem is, I couldn’t find the time in the last few days to pen a 5000 page book. So . . .

I checked my email instead and noticed a fresh one from my old college buddy-now-turned-wildlife-photographer Denny Green with subject line “Rattlers.” Following a quick peek at the attachments, my focus immediately shifted from “human” political snakes to the real thing.

Mojave 3054

And wouldn’t you know, the photo perusal wound up reminding me of another old friend, a retired educator-become-poet who called himself Grandpa Tucker, a gifted gentleman who spent his last few years working with middle school children and helping them gain an appreciation of poetry AND in the process, an understanding of life as well. He spent a year or two interfacing with a 7th grade class (in another state) via the internet, via email. He wrote an entire book of poetry in the process, including more than a dozen long story poems that featured the hero — a special critter named Sammy Snake. Sammy was one of the good guys, a snake with an attitude that, for some mysterious reason, meshed with the collection of attitudes commonly attributed to seventh graders. 😀

Anyway, to make a long story short, several Denny Green photos of a cool and calm Arizona Mojave Rattlesnake quickly merged with those poetic Sammy Snake ramblings by the one and only Bob Tucker. I’ll not try to cover the entire scope of Sammy here, but I thought it might be fun to mix up a few of Denny’s photos with a handful of verses from the first of Grandpa Tucker’s Sammy Snake poems.

SAMMY SNAKE

Sammy Snake had a dozen brothers,
But he just wasn’t like the others.
They were nice and crawled real straight,
While Sammy moved like the figure eight.

Mojave 3057

Sammy was a problem child
Whose wiggle waggled kinda wild.
This little guy rejoiced in seeing
A badly frightened human being

Once in a while, for stuff to do,
He’d hide in some girl’s empty shoe.
When she looked in, he’d holler, “BOO!”
Sometime he scared old ladies, too.

One time in church, he went in late,
Hid out in the collection plate.
And as they passed it down the aisle,
He flicked his tongue and hissed a smile. [. . .]

That’s how the poem begins; it continues for another 18 verses, then concludes with these final thoughts:

He changed and lived “The Golden Rule,”
And tried his best to learn in school.
Then earned a Smart Old Snake Degree,
At Wiggle University.

His article, “Be Nice, Not Mean,”
Appeared in Playboa Magazine.
Sammy had reformed, it’s clear,
Was voted “Serpent of the Year.”

So, all you other little snakes,
Be good, no matter what it takes.
No one’s perfect, but believe,
It just gets worse if you deceive.

So live a life that’s good and true,
Make other snakes believe in you,
And you’ll be doing what it takes
To fill the world with happy snakes.

(See Below) 😀

Mojave 3061

I can’t help but think it’d be a grand thing if our politicians could somehow elevate themselves to reflect the forthrightness of a Mojave Rattler with the intellectual acuity of Sammy Snake. But then, well, you know . . .

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Note: Photos © Denny Green, Tempe AZ; Sammy Snake poem excerpts from Grandpa Tucker’s Rhymes & Tales (1999), ISBM 1-929146-00-0, by the late Bob Tucker; R.I.P.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, September 10, 2014: To be, or not to be…

To be, or not to be– that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die- to sleep-
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die- to sleep.
To sleep- perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despis’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death-
The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns- puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
(Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1)

I believe that if we live long enough, sooner or later we will come face to face with Hamlet’s question, “To be, or not to be” a choice, a precipice, which, once stepped off, cannot be undone. Some do choose to cross that line, to go to that “undiscover’d country”. We’re left behind, unwilling or unable to follow; we are suicide survivors. We have survived the death of someone close to us – a death we cannot totally understand, because is seems so senseless. Yet it was a choice, perhaps the ultimate leap of faith in the acceptance of a loving God.

We cry out in silent anguish. If only….if only….if only. A thousand ‘if onlys’ for every star in the heavens.

Today is the World Suicide Prevention Day. It is a day where we, the survivors of suicide, have been invited to light a candle at 8:00 p.m. local time, to remember a lost loved one, and for the survivors of suicide.

I will be lighting a candle for my late brother:

DAVE

“Your brother died today.”
The sky is blue.
The sun is shining.

“Your brother died today.”
The lie is through.
The runner’s hiding.

“Your brother died today.”
I’m crying too.
The gunner’s riding.

“Your brother died today.”
My brother too.
My brother too.

(this poem was written the day I got the call.)

And, from a different perspective:

Through doors now closed to mortal thought
Th’ eternal flame flicker’d low.
What hellish deeds thy hands hath wrought
And shadows in thy soul doth grow.

What anguish rent thy tortured breast,
Through the darkened halls of the kingdom,
Past chambers where the dying rest,
And portals of forgotten home?

From whence came the desperation
That drove thee on towards madness,
To end at last in consecration;
One final hope of gladness?

The course that cannot be undone:
Rest in peace, my little one.

As for me:

I have traveled the other side of the looking-glass,
Down the rabbit’s hole,
Past the March-hare’s madness,
And drank from the Devil’s bowl.

Below the depths of Wonderland,
The lonely darkness calls,
And beckons my soul to dwell therein,
In labyrinthical halls.

I long to return to the darkness,
The Never-Never Land of night;
To leave behind the looking-glass,
Forever banished from its sight.

But the chess game moves ever onward,
And I, a lowly pawn,
Have slain the Black Knight with a double-edged sword,
And condemned myself to the dawn.

OPEN THREAD

 

 

The Watering Hole; Friday August 15 2014; Give Me An Inch, I’ll Take A Mile (maybe several)

It’s an axiom that’s as old as politics: give a political hack an inch and s/he’ll try take a mile. Sarah Palin, anyone? Steve King? Ted Cruz? Rand Paul? The hack list is, literally miles long, and it can wear one out just pondering it. 

Personally, I prefer that other world, the natural world ‘out there’ where in any crevice no matter how small or in any expanse no matter how large or how distant, there exists sufficient allure to captivate the soul and mind of the poet, the artist, the scientist, or even simply the curious. Consider, for example, the following small handful of photographs. Each is simply a fleeting moment’s capture of a split second of time, the content of a single point of ‘space’ ranging in size from a square inch or less to untold tens of thousands of miles. To some, photographs of the natural world are more than simply a graphic record; they are, in fact, a bit of poetry ohne worte, or poetry without words, and perhaps in that sense they stand as evidence that John Keats was absolutely correct when he noted that The poetry of earth is never dead.

Without further ado, a few moments of time, of space that happened to wander by in just the last few days.

Happy Little Bee in a White Rose

Happy Little Bee in a White Rose

Busy bugs on a wild sunflower

Three unrelated but Busy and Buzzy Bugs on/in a wild sunflower

'Insect Inside' his sunflower's dining room

‘Insect Inside’ his sunflower’s dining room

Aug. 11 2014 Full Moon at dawn's first light, 6:22AM

August 2014’s Full Moon at dawn’s first light, 6:22AM (MDT)

Aug. 11 2014 Full Moon about to set behind the Rocky Mtn. Front Range; 6:38AM

August 2014’s Full Moon about to set behind the Rocky Mtn. Front Range; 6:38AM MDT

Interesting to note that the amount of time captured in those five photos combined totals less than one second. The amount of captured ‘space’, meanwhile, ranges from a square inch or less in each of the flower/bug photos to the full moon’s visible surface area of a bit more than 8.5 million square miles. As for distance of the subject from the lens at the time the shutter was tripped, it ranges from two inches to 250,000 miles. Ah, the virtues of technology!

OK. Finally, and last but not least, a single (pictorial) summation of the entire of the Natural World’s opinion of the typical human’s anti-nature and pro-stupid mystique, all on full display within a square inch or two of the REAL world:

Unidentified bug MOONing the world from the SUNflower!

Unidentified bug MOONing the WORLD from his private Sunflower!

There you have it: one happy bug both summing up and ‘saluting’ — with total perfection — the nefariousness of the bulk of the earth’s human species. I suspect if he could put it all into words, he might express his thoughts and direct his worthy criticisms in much the same fashion as did William Wordsworth in his masterwork entitled Ode on Intimations of Immortality:

The Rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

The problem, of course, is that these days there are only a relatively small handful of humans with the ability to understand, much less feel any sense of lament. And sadly, not a damn one of them seems to be in much of a position to turn the tide away from destruction, away from greed, away from politics. Maybe if ‘they’ simply paused and took a look around? Nah. As John Ruskin so eloquently summed up the human condition a century or more ago,

“Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think,
but thousands can think for one who can SEE.”

Personally, I think I prefer the company of bugs, and flowers, mountains, the moon, and everything else ‘out there’ to politicians, and industrialists, and rich dudes, and stup . . . well, y’know.

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole; Thursday July 24 2014; Soliloquy

Dictionary.com defines soliloquy as an utterance or discourse by a person who is talking to himself or herself or is disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present. I guess I have a quibble with the word “person” in the sense that there are a lot of other voices ‘out there’ in the natural world that are a whole lot more worth a listen than is your average ‘person’! William Cullen Bryant, in his poem Thanatopsis, put it quite well when he wrote,

“To him who, in the love of Nature, holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language …”

Lord Byron wrote of his enlightening “interviews” with nature:

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods —
There is a rapture on the lonely shore —
There is society where none intrudes —
By the deep sea and music in its roar —
I love not man the less but nature more —
From those our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before —
To mingle with the universe and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot conceal.

Edmund Burke apparently agreed and, in the process, pretty much summed the issue’s essence with poetic brevity:

“Never, no never, did nature say one thing and wisdom say another.”

I couldn’t agree more, especially these days where the list of chattering fools is endless and never-ending, where “wisdom” has become a condition that’s largely alien to the human species. So each day of late, beginning at first light, my goal has been “To mingle with the universe and feel / What I can ne’er express, yet cannot conceal.” The photos below are ‘messages’ received in just the last week; since a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words, I’ll let the natural world do all most of the ‘talking.’

Foggy Sunrise

Sunrise on a Foggy Morning

Sunflower, backlit

Sunflower, backlit

Water bird; Cormorant?

Water bird; Cormorant?

Reflections

Reflections

Garden Geranium

Garden Geranium

Those five photos represent, of course, only a tiny handful of the Voices ‘out there’ — voices that speak their soliloquy to each and all who dare listen. Unfortunately, the vast majority of human passers-by appear to be stone deaf to anything other than their own typical conversational dregs even as they’re blind to the beauties that surround them. And far too often, they’re also destructive as well, and clearly unaware of Henry David Thoreau’s thesis that “Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.”

Case in point — a roadside thistle in full bloom, duly knocked over and trampled by person or persons unknown.

Thistle photo pair

Why? “Cuz them’s noxious weeds.” 

 To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
William Wordsworth
from Lines Written in Early Spring

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday June 5 2014; BER(gdahl)GHAZI!!

Outrage, anyone?

OH MY GOD!!! Obama allowed the exchange of five — count ’em, FIVE!! — Taliban POWs for only ONE American Army POW! Uh oh. America’s DOOMED!! The “terrorists” now have five more guys than before!! We’re doomed!! We’re doomed!!

Fascinating how a relatively “simple” POW exchange near a war’s end can suddenly become so vicious a topic. Rest assured, however, that the nastiness has no foreign “terrorist” source. Nope. The true terrorists behind this mess are familiar and home grown, domestic. Republicans, Teabaggers, Conservatives, Wingnuts, Fascists, . . . choose a name, any name; all are equally accurate and descriptive . . . and disgusting.

Found two links which pretty much summarize both the source of the outrage AND the impact of same on anyone still possessing a viable mind. First is this little gem — Fox Contributor Grenell Behind PR Campaign For Soldiers Critical Of Bergdahl — in which the undercurrents driving the day’s vitriolic drivel are described and revealed. One of the comments which followed stood out in the way it summarizes the silliness implicit in the (faux) “outrage” being endlessly spouted by the American Fascist Movement, aka the GOP:

LockeNessMonster: 
You know, we are supposed to be the mightiest, bad-ass military in the world (USA! USA!), but we are SO worried about five dudes? Seriously? Your kid is much more likely to get shot in school by an American than killed by a terrorist from the Middle East. (underline mine)

Amen, amen.

Then there’s this one, an essay on Stonekettle.com entitled Negotiating With Terrorists, in which the author pretty much sums up how at least a few folks, myself included, have come to feel about the never-ending Wingnut BS in which this country finds itself immersed. He effectively summarizes the impact of the current POW exchange freakout when he writes:

Are we now so filled with foul bilious hatred, are we now so consumed with soul-destroying fear, do we now despise our own selves so much that we would actually protest the return of one of our own? Is that it?

Is that what we’ve become?

If so, then the sooner America collapses of its own maggot-ridden gangrenous rot, the better.

Indeed: is that what we’ve finally become? I can muster little if any argument with either the premise or, sadly, the conclusion. Never thought I’d ever come to feel that level of outrage, but . . .

Well, maybe Emily Dickinson summed it all up 150 yrs ago when she wrote (were the consequences of today’s mangled American Politic somehow predictable way back then?) —

The difference between Despair
And Fear — is like the One
Between the instant of a Wreck
And when the Wreck has been —

The Mind is smooth — no Motion —
Contented as the Eye
Upon the Forehead of a Bust —
That knows — it cannot see –

Hmmh. I will think on this. 

OPEN THREAD

 

 

The Watering Hole; Friday May 30 2014; Springtime, Feathers, and Hope Part II

Just in time to fall in line with yesterday’s “Hope is the thing with feathers” post, my email box was suddenly overflowing with photos of more feathered critters, each and all courtesy of Arizona photographer Denny Green who’s apparently been wandering the deserts in search of . . .  etc. Following are four photos of four completely different and disparate winged species from the deserts of Arizona. The first, a burrowing owl about to enjoy lunch; second, a mating pair of Mearns Quail (aka Montezuma Quail), an elusive species in southern Arizona very near the Mexican border; third, a mother duck and her brood of about a dozen out for a swim at the water ranch near Gilbert AZ; finally, a fledgling Harris Hawk on its first flight, following takeoff from its Saguaro cactus launching pad near Phoenix.

Enjoy the magic!

DG Burrowing Owl

 

DG Mearns Quail

 

DG Duck family

 

DG Fledgling Harris Hawk

 Photos © Denny Green, Tempe Arizona

******

To flee from memory
Had we the Wings
Many would fly
Inured to slower things
Birds with surprise
Would scan the cowering Van
Of men escaping
From the mind of man
(Emily Dickinson, c.1872)

“Escaping from the mind of man” — in this day and age, a most worthy goal, and one that’s always possible . . . ‘out there.’

OPEN THREAD

 

 

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Revolution!

or

Rebels You Shun

We had a little war today;
Nobody came,
Nobody came,
To keep the forces of evil at bay;
Ain’t it a shame,
Ain’t it a shame.

We sent out the word for millions to show;
You wouldn’t know,
You wouldn’t know,
To take back our country to the days of Jim Crow;
We didn’t know,
No one would show.

We waited and waited until we got tired;
The gubermint won
The gubermint won,
Then we went home without a shot being fired;
But we’re not done,
But we’re not done.

We’ll be back again, just you wait and see,
Beating our drum,
Beating our drum,
Next time Obama’s the one that will flee,
Millions will come,
Millions will come.

We had our little war today.
But no one showed up.

OPEN THREATD

The Watering Hole; Friday May 9 2014; Desert Springtime

“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.”
–Anatole France

Courtesy of Wildlife Photographer Denny Green, a few close-up views of springtime on the Sonoran Desert — the emergence of yet another generation of, resp., Gambel’s quail, coots, and owls. Life goes on there, with passion to persist and prosper — sans ‘important’ things like money, guns, bombs, coal, skyscrapers, guns, trains. planes, cars, oil, electricity, guns, gasoline, television, churches, politicians, guns . . .

Sometimes I wonder if Emily Dickinson just might have been viewing HER world through the eyes of a bird when she wrote,

Take all away from me, but leave me Ecstasy,
And I am richer then than all my Fellow Men —
Ill it becometh me to dwell so wealthily
When at my very Door are those possessing more,
In abject poverty —

“. . . those possessing more, in abject poverty” is, indeed, the perfect description of we who are so intelligent, so powerful, so brilliant, so divine, so SUPERIOR to all those other meager and subhuman life forms who, unlike us, spend their lives living ‘out there’ whilst picking, scraping, and scrounging just to survive in such a harsh and debilitating world. See below:

Quail Family 2014

Coots 2014

Owl chicks 2014

Owl 2014

 Photos © Denny Green, Tempe Arizona, 2014

Well . . . ahem . . . maybe mother owl understands just who it is that thinks they possess more, but in reality define “abject poverty”?

Hmmm. I will think on this.

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.
–Anatole France

OPEN THREAD