Thursday, May 26, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
In a beautiful pea green boat.
They took some honey, and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'
Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! Too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling Your ring?'
Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
The only time I found myself at all interested
in the concept of a time machine
was when I first heard that baldness in a man
was traceable to his maternal grandfather.
I pictured myself stepping into the odd craft
with a vial of poison tucked into a pocket
and just in case, a newly sharpened kitchen knife.
Of course I had not thought this through very carefully
but even after I realized the drawback
of eradicating my own existence
not to mention the possible existence of my mother,
I came up with a better reason to travel back in time.
I pictured myself now setting the coordinates
for late 19th century
after I had hidden the machine behind a hedge
and located himself, the man I never knew,
we would enjoy several whiskeys and some talk
about the hard times and my strange-looking clothes
after which, with his permission of course
I would climb onto his lap
and rest my hand on the slope of his head
that dome which covered the troubled church of his mind
And was often covered in turn
by the dusty black hat he had earlier hung from a peg
in the wall.
(another by Billy Collins)
Saturday, May 14, 2011
by Marge Piercy
Peas are the first thing we plant
always. We lie full length
on the cold black earth and poke
holes in it for the wrinkled
old men of the seeds.
Nothing will happen for weeks.
Rain will soak them, a white
tablecloth of snow will cover
them and be whisked off.
The moon will sing to them:
open, loosen, let the pale
shoots break out. No,
they are pebbles, they sit
in the earth like false teeth.
They ignore the sweet sun.
Then one unlikely day
the soil cracks along miniature
faults and soon baby leaves
stick out their double heads
and we know we shall have peas.
"First sown" by Marge Piercy, from The Hunger Moon: New & Selected Poems, 1980-2010. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
As I sat down one evening,
'Twas in a small cafe;
A fifty-year old waitress
To me these words did say:
I see you are a logger,
And not just a common bum,
'Cause no one but a logger
Stirs coffee with his thumb.
I had a logger lover;
There's none like him today.
If you poured whiskey on it,
He'd eat a bale of hay.
He never shaved a whisker
From off of his horny hide;
He hammered in the bristles,
And chewed them off inside.
My logger came to see me,
One dreary winter's day;
He held me in a fond embrace
That broke six vertebrae.
He kissed me when we parted,
So hard it broke my jaw;
I couldn't speak to tell him
He forgot his mackinaw.
I watched my logger lover
Trek out across the snow,
A-headin' gaily homeward
At forty-two below.
The weather tried to freeze him,
It tried its dalgarn best;
At a hundred degrees below zero,
He buttoned up his vest.
It froze clear down to China,
It froze to the stars above;
At a thousand degrees below zero,
It froze my logger love.
They tried in vain to thaw him,
And if you believe it, sir,
They made him into axe blades
To cut the Douglas fir.
And so I lost my logger,
And to this cafe I've come,
And it's here I wait for someone
To stir coffee with his thumb.......................
Monday, May 9, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
New York Times Op-Ed Columnist
Farewell to Geronimo
Published: May 3, 2011
There is only one good thing about the fact that Osama bin Laden survived for nearly 10 years after the mass murder at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that he organized. And that is that he lived long enough to see so many young Arabs repudiate his ideology. He lived long enough to see Arabs from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen to Syria rise up peacefully to gain the dignity, justice and self-rule that Bin Laden claimed could be obtained only by murderous violence and a return to puritanical Islam.
Yes, the bad guys have been dealt a blow across the Arab world in the last few months — not only Al Qaeda, but the whole rogues’ gallery of dictators, whose soft bigotry of low expectations for their people had kept the Arab world behind. The question now, though, is: Can the forces of decency get organized, elected and start building a different Arab future? That is the most important question. Everything else is noise.
To understand that challenge, we need to recall, again, where Bin Ladenism came from. It emerged from a devil’s bargain between oil-consuming countries and Arab dictators. We all — Europe, America, India, China — treated the Arab world as a collection of big gas stations, and all of us sent the same basic message to the petro-dictators: Keep the oil flowing, the prices low and don’t bother Israel too much and you can treat your people however you like, out back, where we won’t look. Bin Laden and his followers were a product of all the pathologies that were allowed to grow in the dark out back — crippling deficits of freedom, women’s empowerment and education across the Arab world.
These deficits nurtured a profound sense of humiliation among Arabs at how far behind they had fallen, a profound hunger to control their own futures and a pervasive sense of injustice in their daily lives. That is what is most striking about the Arab uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia in particular. They were almost apolitical. They were not about any ideology. They were propelled by the most basic human longings for dignity, justice and to control one’s own life. Remember, one of the first things Egyptians did was attack their own police stations — the instruments of regime injustice. And since millions of Arabs share these longings for dignity, justice and freedom, these revolutions are not going to go away.
For decades, though, the Arab leaders were very adept at taking all that anger brewing out back and redirecting it onto the United States and Israel. Yes, Israel’s own behavior at times fed the Arab sense of humiliation and powerlessness, but it was not the primary cause. No matter. While the Chinese autocrats said to their people, “We’ll take away your freedom and, in return, we’ll give you a steadily rising education and standard of living,” the Arab autocrats said, “We’ll take away your freedom and give you the Arab-Israel conflict.”
This was the toxic “out back” from which Bin Laden emerged. A twisted psychopath and false messiah, he preached that only through violence — only by destroying these Arab regimes and their American backers — could the Arab people end their humiliation, restore justice and build some mythical uncorrupted caliphate.
Very few Arabs actively supported Bin Laden, but he initially drew significant passive support for his fist in the face of America, the Arab regimes and Israel. But as Al Qaeda was put on the run, and spent most of its energies killing other Muslims who didn’t toe its line, even its passive support melted away (except for the demented leadership of Hamas).
In that void, with no hope of anyone else riding to their rescue, it seems — in the totally unpredictable way these things happen — that the Arab publics in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere shucked off their fears and decided that they themselves would change what was going on out back by taking over what was going on out front.
And, most impressively, they decided to do it under the banner of one word that you hear most often today among Syrian rebels: “Silmiyyah.” It means peaceful. “We will do this peacefully.” It is just the opposite of Bin Ladenism. It is Arabs saying in their own way: We don’t want to be martyrs for Bin Laden or pawns for Mubarak, Assad, Gaddafi, Ben Ali and all the rest. We want to be “citizens.” Not all do, of course. Some prefer more religious identities and sectarian ones. This is where the struggle will be.
We cannot predict the outcome. All we can hope for is that this time there really will be a struggle of ideas — that in a region where extremists go all the way and moderates tend to just go away, this time will be different. The moderates will be as passionate and committed as the extremists. If that happens, both Bin Laden and Bin Ladenism will be resting at the bottom of the ocean.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Bloody Monday began with news about bin Laden's apparent demise. Then, sometime last night, a stealthy and deadly predator broke into the Oconobanks coop compound and dragged out Henrietta Hen. I have not found her carcass, but the quantity of feathers and blood and relatively small hole in the chicken wire gap between nails through which she was obviously dragged by the killer suggest that she could not have survived. The trail of feathers and blood led to the woods.
She was my favorite hen, enjoyed being held and petted (sort of), and faithfully laid a small brown egg every day. Almost every day I would carry her around the yard and talk with her (she was very verbal, too) and sometimes sit with her on my lap in the sun and feed her saltines. She was very interested in my old silver and gold fillings, and would try to peck at them if my mouth was open and too close to her curious beak. Henrietta was Hulda's partner, often the two of them leaving Helen alone to fend for herself. Now we will see if the alliances shift or whether I will just have two loners. Hulda must not have been too broken up by the murderous night raid, since she laid her usual oblong egg this morning as usual.
I spent an hour this morning cleaning up the compound and replacing all lower-coop chicken wire with plywood. By the looks of things (my expertise limited to an occasional viewing of CSI on TV), the operation went down late night Monday/early morning Tuesday. Nature persists in "running red in tooth and claw."
Just thought I'd let you know, as CNN, Fox, BBC and Al Jazeera seem to be focused elsewhere yet today.
~ One down, two to go
Life deals another cruel blow for bloody feather-gatherer:
Henrietta the Hen didn't ask for as much as she got under the 'ownership' of John Helt; a deeper interchange with a fine human was to be her blessed lot, not a hen in an egg factory, her. She went to her end a repositor of Helt-bestowed gentleness, as many of the kind words, questions, and gestures she could ken, for a hen.
Alas, but not for a lack of care in establishing new digs by Pere Helt in the erroneously cited Oconomowocbanks trailer park. It has been ever thus in the world - Truth forever on the cross, sitting hens forever in invadable coops.
Lightly taken not to be. Here's a man whose agrarian
themes have taken him through separation from his mascotian miniature goats, numerous cats (some stray, always loved) and now, Henrietta.
A beast that only wanted to live Heltian and lay eggs. Indeed, may she rest in peace. She asked not for much. The least we can do here on South Street is take down the celebratory Christmas lights from our ledgian legendary Fox. Or, maybe not? Festoon Fox may not have intentionally eaten a chicken in his entire life! Gunned down by a hunter? Nay, the lights of his afterlife will remain, methinks.
Thus we humans stumble on through the maze of existence.
Our condolences eggian, ovan,heartfelt, profound.....
David and Dee
Monday, May 2, 2011
New York Times Op-Ed Columnist
Silliness and Sleight of Hand
By CHARLES M. BLOW
Published: April 29, 2011
On Wednesday, he released his long-form birth certificate, but not without chiding the media and his detractors for their “silliness” in forcing the issue.
No sooner had he released it than Donald Quixote was off to his next windmill: the president’s college grades.
Donald Trump is still playing to suspicions of President Obama. And it’s no longer theoretical. It’s theological. For the detractors, truth is no longer dependent on proof because it’s rooted in faith: faith that American exceptionalism was never truly meant to cover hyphenated Americans; faith in 400 years of cemented assumptions about the character and capacity of the American Negro; and faith that if the president doesn’t hew to those assumptions then he must be alien by both birth and faith.
This is how the moneyed interests — of whom Trump is one — want it. That is how sleight of hand works: distract and deceive. They need this distraction now more than ever because the right’s flimsy fiscal argument — that if we allow fat cats to gorge, crumbs will surely fall — is losing traction.
It’s losing traction with voters as the Supreme Court continues its crusade to put corporate interests above those of citizens. Just Wednesday, it ruled that there is a way for businesses to keep consumers claiming fraud from banding together in a single class-action lawsuit.
It’s losing traction among workers. Gallup reported this week that a majority of Americans worry that they won’t have enough money in retirement. And that worry is well founded. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s annual Retirement Confidence Survey released last month, 56 percent of American workers said they have less than $25,000 in retirement savings and investments. Twenty-nine percent of those said they have less than $1,000. At the same time, the average Wall Street cash bonus in 2010 was nearly $130,000, and the Republican budget proposed by Representative Paul Ryan seeks to dismantle Medicare and lower taxes on the wealthy.
It’s losing traction among young people as it was reported last week that the unemployment rate for workers ages 16 to 24 reached a record high last year, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Meanwhile, last summer, student loan debt exceeded total credit card debt for the first time, and the Republican budget seeks to slash Pell grants.
It’s losing traction with families as the national average price of a gallon of gas is nearing $4, while oil companies are reaping record profits while taking billions of dollars in government subsidies.
(There’s something immoral about giving handouts to entrenched corporate interests with armies of lobbyists while seeking to cut those to hungry children, struggling families and frail seniors.)
It all loses traction as more Americans begin to see the far right for what it truly is: a gang of bandits willing to sacrifice the poor and working classes to further extend the American aristocracy — shadowy figures who creep through the night, shaking every sock for every nickel and scraping their silver spoons across the bottom of every pot.
In fact, Gallup reported on Thursday that unfavorable views of the Tea Party, which was cheered and championed by billionaires and business interests, had jumped to 47 percent this month, a new high, while last week it reported that approval of Congress among Republicans and independents had dropped to a depressing 15 percent.
So the right needs to backfill its shaky fiscal reasoning with political segregationist rhetoric — amplifying a separation of the “us” from the “other.”
State Senator Jake Knotts of South Carolina last year called President Obama — along with the state’s governor Nikki Haley, who is Indian-American and a Republican — a disparaging slur. When pressured to resign, he refused, proclaiming that: “If all of us rednecks leave the Republican Party, the party would have one hell of a void.” Do tell.
This is not to say that all Republicans are tolerant of this behavior. Far from it. But the party has taken the strategic position that in some cases it’s politically advantageous to allow demagogues and xenophobes, sectarians and homophobes to not only see the party as a sanctuary but as a place to rise to its top.
In the last several months, Republican state lawmakers and party officials have said the most reprehensible things about Hispanics, gays and blacks.
State Representative John Yates of Georgia compared the state’s threat from illegal immigrants to the threat from Hitler in World War II and suggested that border agents should be allowed to “shoot to kill.” State Representative Curry Todd of Tennessee compared pregnant illegal immigrants to multiplying rats.
State Representative Larry Brown of North Carolina suggested cutting off financing used to treat people with H.I.V. and AIDS because they are “living in perverted lifestyles.” Brown also drew criticism in October for an e-mail he sent to fellow Republicans in which he used disparaging terms about gays.
And David Bartholomew had to resign as the Virginia Beach Republican Party chairman after forwarding an e-mail that joked about someone taking his “dog” to the welfare office and saying: “My Dog is black, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English” and has no clue “who his Daddy is.”
In 1965, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described how the strategy of separating people with common financial interests by agitating their racial differences was used against the populist movement at the turn of the century, explaining that “the Southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow.”
He continued that Jim Crow was “a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man.” He called this “their last outpost of psychological oblivion.”
But the right, with a new boost of energy from Trump, is reaching for new frontiers. The language and methodology are different, but the goal is the same: to deny, invalidate and subjugate, to distract from real issues with false divisions.
Trump is helping the right shape new weapons from old hatreds, forming shivs from shackles, all the while patting himself on the back and promoting his brand.
But his point of pride is the right’s mark of shame.