Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Birth of a Pinecone

Unfolding my heart
in dappled forest shadows
I exhale autumn

Swirling  dancer's skirts
spiral like Milky Way colors
embrace the darkness

Embrace the light, hold
fast to the center, then dance
into winter's dreams
Art by Elsie

Poeme d’jour

traveling land of sunflowers
walking path of coyote who laughs with the moon
i am awake and yet i dream

i dream her face in every corner
i dream stars on my hands
i am awake, yet her face follows me

haunted skyline break open my heart
stitch these scars into a quilt
let this air, this world, be real to me
New! Now available in Postcard format, with art by the lovely Connie Beckers.


Copernicus made the sun stand still
So a lamb could be taught to sing
— Journal entry, circa 1979

Monday, September 29, 2003

Ideé d’jour

When you wake up, the world wakes up with you.
— Zen teaching, heard during “New Dimensions”

Friday, September 26, 2003

Ideé d’jour

A closed mind is like a closed book: just a block of wood.
— Chinese Proverb


Dream last night:
Republicans foreswore plutocracy
el presidenté admitted stories of
Iraqi weapons and programs
were just texas tall tales
o what a dream it was

we were walking to work
and the sun was in the south-east
and Bob Edwards was reporting
on the amazing shift in the white house
o what a dream it was

oklahoma was number one in education funding
all students gladly studied poetry
and math was a second language
texas and kansas repudiated creationism
o what a dream it was

just then
el presidenté announced
he would not seek a second term
o why did the alarm begin to chirp

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Camp Landmark

One way to find your way back to Camp Grenola at Winfield is by the flags Joe hangs in the trees - each flag represents a person staying in the camp that year. You might make out the Oklahoma flag in the shot below.

The flag at the far right is the infamous Confederate flag. I'm uneasy with it, but I'm clear that Joe (the camp host) is no racist. I believe he flies the flag because he is anti-Federal Government, and is a bit of an iconoclast.

Ideé d’jour

What wouldn't Jesus do?
— Chuck Palahniuk, quoted in Entertainment Weekly

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

More from Winfield

The picture on your left shows the main kitchen area for our camp site. In the foreground, Mercedes and Mary T are stoking the campfire for Wednesday evening's supper. In the background, you might make out the sign which reads “Grenola Camp, Est. 1972”. Our host comes from Grenola, Kansas, which is just a few miles away from Winfield, and he has been coming to the festival since it was founded in ’72.

Our host is pictured on the right. Joe traditionally dresses in his buckskins on Saturday morning. Joe is a motorcycle enthusiast (much like Padre), and had recently completed a journey through the "lower 48" by bike. Joe is one of the kindest, most down-to-earth people I know.

Camped just a few yards to the south of us was the Pink Elephant Camp; you see their mascot in this shot. I received the unsettling title of "Dr Dirge" from Jim in this camp — just because I like to sing Leonard Cohen songs at 9 a.m. Now, I ask you, is that fair?

Sunday Morning at Winfield

Moment of Silence

Brother Dave sent a copy of this poem late last week. Little I can add to it, except to say I find it to be a very powerful polemic. I'll admit that I don't agree with every political point made, but the poem has power beyond politics.

Stained Glass Collaboration

In my "Free Postcard" entry for September 15, I mentioned the fact that Connie Beckers, the erstwhile Goddess of Glass, has sent an email to her customer base which links to one of my poem postcards. I have now created three postcards which use Connie's images as the "picture" side of the card.

Here's how Connie tells the story:
Here's an interesting story for ya . . . . I forwarded an e-mail about Paul Wellstone Music Day (October 25, 2003) and it eventually made it to a poet in Oklahoma who discovered my webpage from my signature on the original e-mail.   He's now using (with my permission, of course) imagery of some of my creations on his blog .... like this one.... how kewl is that?!? :-)   His poetry is wonderful and I'm honored he likes my work enough to use it with his.
Please let me know if Connie's e-mail has led you to this space.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Happy Birthday, St. Leonard

Thanks to Dr. Omed for reminding me that Sunday, September 21 was Leonard Cohen's 69th birthday. Leonard Cohen has been my poetic patron saint for many years.

Shortly after he returned from 'Nam, Brother Dave brought several lp's to the house to share with Padre and I. I especially remember Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation and Coltrane's Favorite Things and Other Songs. When he put the Cohen disc on the turntable, Dave told Padre and I that we'd need to listen carefully to the words.

I was immediately struck by the cover of Songs of Leonard Cohen: that black background; the machine photo brazenly addressing the viewer; the back cover art of a woman in chains being engulfed by flames. I was intrigued by these images alone, and knew something unique was in store. Songs from that album that still linger in my memory include "The Master Song", "The Stranger Song", and "Sisters of Mercy". I can sing snippets of these (and all of "Suzanne", of course) without reference to the lyric sheet or song book.

I had probably already heard Judy Collins' famous version of "Suzanne" by this point. I think I already had a copy of Judy's excellent live album, Living, which includes "Famous Blue Raincoat" and "Joan of Arc". But to hear that fractured voice sing his own words was like setting up camp in them, and learning to live there.

Sometime after Brother Dave introduced us to Cohen's debut album, I bought Songs of Love and Death. I believe that was the same year my stepmother attempted suicide. I was the first one home the day WL took her brand-new steak knife set into the master bathroom and cut both her wrists, length-wise, several times. The song "Dress Rehearsal Rag" from Love and Death soon became my theme song, although I did not catch the underlying humor of the song.

This was the summer between junior high and high school. I was around 16. WL's attempted suicide was probably too big for me to handle, but I counseled and comforted her until Padre got home. Leonard Cohen's songs taught me the language of the territory, so I could find the means to process the horror I had witnessed.

A number of other factors contributed to my use of poetry for self-expression, but WL's suicide attempt, and Cohen's profound linguistic cartography, were the primary catalysts.

To honor Leonard's birthday, Dr. Omed reprinted the words to "Who By Fire," a song from the album New Skin for the Old Ceremony which is loosely based on a prayer offered on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). I presume Dr. O printed this lyric either because the High Holy Days begin soon (sundown, Sept. 27), or because it's one of his favorites.

This song is definitely on my top ten favorite Leonard Cohen songs, but I would choose a different song, if I were limited to only one. In a 1994 interview, Cohen was asked which song he wished he had written. He replied:
'If It Be Your Will'.   And I wrote it.
If It Be Your Will
If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
   I will speak no more
   I shall abide until
   I am spoken for
If it be your will

If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
   From this broken hill
   All your praises they shall ring
   If it be your will
To let me sing

If it be your will
If there is a choice
Let the rivers fill
Let the hills rejoice
   Let your mercy spill
   On all these burning hearts in hell
   If it be your will
to make us well

And draw us near
And bind us tight
All your children here
In their rags of light
   In our rags of light
   All dressed to kill
   And end this night
   If it be your will
© 1984, Stranger Music

Ideé d’jour

Just try protecting the innocent from belief.
I once read of worshippers who vowed to leave
no trace of their existence on this earth.
Later I understood how far from home I'd come.
— Cassie Lewis, from “Temple”, High Country, p. 12, © 2001, Little Esther Books, Adelaide SA

I’m Back!

I have safely returned from my pilgrimage to Winfield, KS. I am taking today to clean things up and generally recover from the trip. Basic fact about camping at Winfield: one is not likely to get a good night's rest. People are singing and partying all night long. Friday and Saturday tend to be the loudest, as that is the time the youngest folk come in.

But it's worth it.

Elsie joined me, and this was her first experience of the Walnut Valley Festival. She totally enjoyed the experience, which certifies her status as a "keeper". We weren't able to see as much as the music as I had hoped, primarily because I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to rain & cold. It rained the better part of Thursday (the first official day of the festival), and it was pretty darn cold. As I recall, we only saw Tommy Emmanuel and maybe one other group on Thursday.

I did not write any travelogue poetry while there, but I have a couple of ideas that may be posted within the next day or so. I also have some photographs I hope to share in the near future.

I hope to write more about our experience of Winfield soon, but I've got to get back to work.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

On Vacation

I now have two pilgrimages I make each year: one, to Winfield, Kansas; the other to visit Brother Dave. I'm heading off to Winfield within two hours.

So, what happens in Winfield, KS?

The Walnut Valley Festival. This festival began in 1972 as solely a bluegrass festival; over time, it has included several varieties of acoustic music. Performers this year include Hot Club of Cowtown, John McCutcheon, Tommy Emmanuel, No Strings Attached, and a number of "cowboy" groups.

The festival takes place on the county fairgrounds, and I will be among those camping near-by. If you happen to be headed to Winfield thisyear, look for the Granola Camp in Pecan Grove. We'll be just a few yards away from the legendary "Stage 5" (where amatuers play at a round-the-clock open mike). Ask for James. Or the guy who likes to sing at 8 am.

I'll be taking a scratch pad along, and hope to write a few travelogue poems while there. Be assured they'll be shared with you when I return.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Pointing the Finger

I was reminded last night of the great hatred many conservatives have for Bill Clinton. The predominant feeling, from Limbaugh on up, is that Clinton was an inveterate liar.

Now, folk on the liberal side seem to have the same view of the Resident.

This moral certitude seems to reflect a need to view folk as entirely "good" or entirely "evil". The obvious reality is that the average person is a complex mix of both.

Is it possible to frame an argument that we disagree with Busch's policies without calling him an idiot? Would it have been possible for the neo-cons to reasonably disagree with Clinton without calling him a horn-dog pathological liar?

Busch's history pre-presidency reflects an amazing amount of incompetence. It's mind-boggling that so many people voted for him. I suspect it is this incompetence which has led to the current situation.

The men who drafted the document on the New American Century (Karl Rove, et al) are on record as supporting Pax Americana. They may even be in favor of an overt plutocracy in which they (the wise) dictate life for the rest of us (the unwashed proles). Although I strongly disagree, and the thought scares me more than a little, I will admit the possibility that they believe their motives are pure.

The bottom line, to paraphrase Lincoln, is that a house divided cannot stand for long. So long as each extreme believes their opposite is absolutely wrong, little compromise can be possible. Which I believe means that little progress can be made at all.

More on Iraq

Note that the link in yesterday's post will now direct you to an article which begins with a report on Colin Powell's visit to Halabja, Iraq, yesterday. After the first four paragraphs, there is basically a repeat of the article which ran yesterday morning on the CBSnews.com site. At present, I cannot link to the original article.

However, Kriselda at different strings led me to a similar article at the Washinton Post (the Post site requires registration).

In the report on Powell's visit, the Secretary of State pledges that atrocities such as the chemical gassing of Kurds at Halabja in '88 will never happen again. The article notes that the atrocity was more likely perpetrated by the Iranians than by Saddam.

Secretary Powell's quotes imply a justification for the war — that the Iraqis are now free of Hussein's tyranny. What that implication ignores, however, is that the nation is currently in a state of anarchy which is likely to continue for the forseeable future.

America has never been in the business of deposing tyrants. We typically attack based as much on the basis of pragmatic business concerns as philosophical beliefs. The Pentagon Papers make clear the Viet Nam conflict had more to do with that country's natural resources than an idealistic concern for democracy. Many believe this conflict has more to do with oil than Iraqi freedom — and I suspect documents will be discovered within the next five years that substantiate that belief.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Delayed Report on WMD's

Brother Dave sent this link on the delay of the official report on the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" in Iraq. According to this CBS report, the Iraq Survey Group has not found any evidence of WMD or even of a viable WMD "program".

Meanwhile, on MSNBC, Eric Aleterman offers an excellent rebuttal to the ridiculous claim that there was a liaison between Iraq and al-Queda. [Many thanks to Rob Salkowitz at Empahsis Added for the lead]

And yet, if recent opinion polls are to be believed, the majority of Americans believe there was a connection between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks. Many Americans believe WMD will eventually be found.

In other words, if these polls are to be believed, most Americans are idiots, and we pretty much deserve the proto-dictatorship we are about to slide into.
There is some good news however. The federal appeals court has halted the ill-considered California recall election. Supporters of the recall have pledged to file a brief with the US Supreme Court on Tuesday. This article from the San Francisco Chronicle suggests the high court may choose to dodge the bullet this time.

Well, one can only hope that the court will not choose to make another "once-in-a-lifetime" decision, as it did in 2000. Seems to me that doing so will negate the great pains the court went to in its Bush v. Gore decision to emphasize that it only applied to the special circumstances of that particular election.
On the plus side of this California thing, Bill Clinton is on the trail again. I heard a clip this morning of him speaking against the recall at an AME church. You could hear folk in the congregation shouting "Amen" as Bill talked about how those who supporting the recall were more concerned about the mote in the Gray Davis' eye than the log in their own. The man was a born preacher. And there's no fun quite like having Preacher Bill cleaning the Republican clock. If the High Court dodges the bullet, Brother Bill will have to go back to stumping for John Kerry (of all people).
I tell you what. When I seriously survey the current political landscape of America, it makes me want to crawl back to my fantasy Irish skerry. Is it any wonder that I've spent more time on poetry than on politics in the past two weeks? At least I can be semi-effective with poetry!
Speaking of good poetry, Christopher Key's “Trailer Trash” at The Barbaric Yawp is definitely worth a read. Viva la revolution!

Free Postcard!

I wrote an extra Postcard Poem last Friday afternoon, and this time, you're going to have to click through to see it. It's only 15 seconds down-load time, and I think the image will be worth it.

What you will see is a domestic stained-glass window crafted by Connie Beckers, the erst-while Goddess of Glass. Connie's impressive stained glass work has graced two of the Postcards in this Postcard Poem series: “The Tao which can be spoken” and 30.August.03.

With the past postcards, I have selected one of Connie's works which best "fits" the poem I have written. In this case, I wrote a poem as a response to one of Connie's stained-glass works. Our agreement has been that I won't make a link live until Connie has approved the connection between poem and stained glass; she approved this poem this past Saturday.

Be sure to stop by Connie's website, www.goddessofglass.com and see more of her impressive work. When you do, leave her a note to let her know that jac (that's me!) sent you.
Connie is reciprocating the link through an e-mail to her customer base. If you came by way of Connie's e-mail, welcome! Drop a note & say hi!

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Ideé d’jour

Stop the words now.
Open the window in the center of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.
— Rumi
To speak is to lie.
— Willaim S. Burroughs

Friday, September 12, 2003

About Chilé

Two entries down, I make reference to Chilé. It's been pointed out that not everyone may have heard the report that aired Wednesday evening on NPR. Many may have missed the "blogs" which commented on the coincidence of the coup which occurred on Sept. 11, 1973, and the attack on American shores on that date in 2001.

As detailed in this article, Henry Kissinger allegedly engineered a militrary coup. The democratically elected government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, with major support by the CIA.

No one I have read has claimed a connection between the attack on the WTC and the coup in Chilé. It is an merely interesting coincidence. And a reminder that our own Amuhruhcahn hands are signigicantly less than clean.
Oh yeah — St Julian? Pretty much an inside joke, for Dr Omed's benefit, should he drop by. Otherwise, remember the story of Julian the Hospitaler.

Ideé d’jour

Television has done much for psychiatry by spreading information about it, as well as contributing to the need for it.
— Alfred Hitchcock, film-maker (1899-1980)

This Season of Ashes

st julian crept across chilé
in the season of ashes
the weathervanes swept the skies
the landscape cracked open

i moved to the island
in the season of ashes
the stars were haunted
their lights were dimmed

i moved to the island
when the eagle married mars
when the ashes were signposts
when freedom was hunted

like a wild hart
Now available in postcard format with a painting by your humble correspondent. The poem is obviously compressed in my telegraphic "postcard" style. I wanted to conflate Chilé and the events of 2001 — as many did, yesterday. May be too telegraphic to mean more than images.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Poeme d’jour

explosions to the east
long low rumbles
my bed trembles in sympathy

flashes of light in the north-east
strobe the bedroom corners
blink in the mirror

i'm leaning to the east
waiting for the echo
of raindrops outside my window
View Postcard Format — only 5 seconds download time!

Ideé d’jour

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.
— Walt Whitman, poet (1819-1892)

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

The Interview Game

I saw this sometime last week on the Salon blogs, and thought to myself “If someone interesting offers, I think I’ll jump on board”

Well, I think Christopher Key, who posts entries at
The Barbaric Yawp certainly qualifies as interesting. Heck, he even interviews for a living! Additionally, Christopher has little knowledge of me outside this blog, and I was curious what sorts of questions he would ask.

We’re relatively close to the same age (I’m just a couple of years younger), and at least one question reflects a generational bias.

I’d be happy to interview a fellow blogger as well; just check out the guidelines at the end of this interview.
  1. What is your favorite book and why?

  2. Boy, start out with the hard-hitting questions! The guilty pleasure book I’ve returned to several times over the years is Mister God, This is Anna. I say guilty pleasure, because it has its mawkish moments. But, it’s a sentimental favorite because it was one of my father’s favorites. There are some theological reflections that come very close to my own beliefs.

       A book I read recently which I greatly enjoyed was The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. This book is fun on many levels.  First, it's a light mystery.  Second, it's an extremely well-realized alternate-future fantasy.  Third, it's very "meta" in its playful use of famous books and the characters from said books (not the least of which being the eponymous book).

  3. Who is your favorite poet?

  4. I recently played this game with works that I would take to a desert island. For some reason, Pablo Neruda always rates pretty high. Shakespeare would obviously be near the top, as would our spiritual grandfather Walt Whitman (the "Barbaric Yawp" originator).

       What do I like so much about Neruda? He is both concrete and surrealistic. Even in translation, he helps me rediscover the joy of English. I can pick up any collection of Neruda's work and find something good at random, within one or two pages.

       Oh, yeah.  That desert island? I ultimately decided I would need a library boat to keep myself supplied with all my favorites. 

  5. What is your favorite wine?

  6. I never drink...wine.
    But seriously folks, outside of communion wine, I've not had any for over 20 years. My memory is I preferred dry red wines. Afraid I don't remember any names.

  7. If you were an odor, what would it be?

  8. This morning, it would have been cinnamon. Added cinnamon to my coffee, and was a little heavy with the dash.

  9. Which member(s) of the Three Stooges would do a better job at the presidency than George Bush?

  10. The secret message of this gag is that George Bush and his cabinet are the virtual equivalent of the Three Stooges. George is Curly, ready to get into a fight over the least slight. Karl Rove is Moe, the real power behind the throne. Colin Powell is Shemp, the forgotten Stooge, or maybe he's Larry Fine, the guy who seemed almost sane compared to the others — though no more competent.
  1. Leave me an e-mail, saying you want to be interviewed.

  2. I will respond; I'll ask you five questions.

  3. You'll update your website with my five questions, and your five answers.

  4. You'll include this explanation, and acknowledge me as the interviewer.

  5. You'll ask other people five questions when they want to be interviewed.

Poeme d’jour

I'm thinking about "Barton Fink"
how "the life of the mind" was suicidal

Remember how John Goodman explodes
like unrestrained Loki-id
in the final sequence?

Been riding the chariot of the sun
need to kiss the moon's daughter

The encyclopedia is hungry
it'll eat you alive

Got to walk the morning
laugh the afternoon
and dance the evening
This poem is now available in "Postcard" format. Only 15 second down-load time, with an image from Dr. Omed's "Scissor Dances" series.

With the end of the "Novena" series, I am temporarily releasing myself from the obligation of writing a poem a day. If you've visited the second page of the Postcard Poem index, you may have noticed three blank squares. My current goal is to fill those three squares by next Wednesday, Sept. 17, at which time I will be leaving town on vacation.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Da Band!

Here we are. Any guess which one is your humble correspondent?

"Da Band" performs a benefit for St. Georges' Guild on Friday, October 3rd, from 7 – 10. Admission is free, but all donations benefit the Guild.

More details to come soon!

Monday, September 08, 2003

Ideé d’jour

To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.
— Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Last of the Elevenses

in the season of monarchs
when the grasshopper flies
upon the prairie
i crossed Walnut Creek, Trail Creek,
   Uncle John Creek, Winter Camp Creek,
and entered the Cheyenne-Arapaho Nation

Medicine Man Moses called on spirits
   of south-east, south-west, north-west,
   north-east, and the Great Spirit of the East
breathe through us sacred winds

Later, Moses blessed the drum
which would serve as alter
and we broke fry-bread together
The last of the series written while my lady friend, Elsie, is out of town. Elsie is en route home by way of Miami and DFW as I write. I have called this series "novena" simply because it was a shared discipline which has lasted just a bit over nine days. Today's entry may be an aide memoire, since it records what I did yesterday (after mowing the lawn).

The Medicine Man really was named Moses, and they really did use fry-bread for the communion host. The grasshoppers out-numbered the monarch butterflies, and I was obviously more glad to see the latter, but both seemed tokens of the season in Oklahoma.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

David Pendleton Oakerhater

The following, which comes from Friend Kent, may help explain the reference made to St. Oakerhater in the entry below:
You are invited to the Oakerhater Honor Dance which is a pow wow held each year at this time to honor Saint David Pendelton Oakerhater, a Cheyenne Warrior who became a Deacon in the Episcopal Church. This a unique and enriching event which will give you the chance to dance and share an Indian supper with us. This is the 1st time we are having an event on the land where we will build the Oakerhater Episcopal Center (church, community center, and dance ground) and Bishop Moody will bless the land. If you have never danced at a pow wow, we will show you. Several us bring extra gourds to share for Gourd Dance. I look forward to this every year with great anticipation. I hope you can come.
You may read a brief biography of St Oakerhater here.

Mowing the Lawn

Whose house is this?
Why am i mowing at 9 a.m.
when the grass is dew-heavy?
Where am i now?

Doesn't matter.
i love the concentric circles
i draw in the grass
how they disappear
into the center

the work i do is concrete
it has a beginning & an end

i love:
      pretending this is walking prayer
     watching Dixie being a good dog
     watching Donna bend over to pull weeds
     the clear open sky

i love the moist green grass
smelling of summer's end

i guess i'm just in love
with the world this morning

i've walked the circle
now i go on pilgrimage
to honor St. Oakerhater
to remind myself all land is holy

holy the land
holy the sky
holy the grass
holy the dirt
holy the firm
holy the soft

i go
to remind myself
i dance in beauty

Friday, September 05, 2003

Here's three fifths of the band hard at work this past Sunday. We're preparing for a benefit concert, proceeds to go to St. George's Guild, an inner city assistance organization. I believe the date is early October, but will confirm later.

By the way, we're calling ourselves "St James & the Infirm", which is intended as a play on our ages and the blues song "St James' Infirmary." Two of the band members are named James, just to make life interesting. Our lead guitarist, pictured at far right, is James the Greater. Your correspondent/photographer is James the Lesser.

Poetic Novena, Day IX

foggy morning
smells loamy
vision measured by yards

a foggy morning
vision measured by yards
sme smells loamy

ghost drivers ahead
shadowed buildings huddle
next d together for warmth

next day — intense clear sky
all the light in the world
has entered my room
Line inserted post-facto

a welcome uninvited guest
and my heart is racing
towards the day
Completed Postcard now available. Includes an authentic photograph of a Bolivian tornado! And only 14 seconds down-load time (my current standard).
Technically, this would be the last in the "Novena" series, if I were observing the discipline for the traditional nine days. This was a discipline entered into with Elsie while she is on mission trip to Bolivia. She will return Sunday. The discipline, and the "novena" appelation will end on the same day. So - nine plus two. What do you call a discipline that lasts eleven days? Don't have the latin to coin a term.

The "Paul Hill" Entry

I had expected to get some comments on the "Paul Hill" poem which appears on Thus Sept 4. Comments on the Poetry Espresso e-list suggest that it's simply not that good a poem, and therefore not worthy of comment. There also seemed to be some confusion as to the political position taken by the narrative voice.

So, I'll address the political issues in as straight-forward a manner as I can at this hour.

First — the death penalty. I am not aware of any statistics which clearly indicate that the death penalty is a deterent for any crime. Mr Hill being a notable exception, the death penalty is most commonly enforced on minorities and the poor — which suggests a basic inequality in the system.

Given that the death penalty does not appear to be a deterent, there would seem to be two reasons to enforce it: economic and/or revenge. Of the two, I suspect most people support the death penalty as a way of restoring social order. That is to say, some seem to believe social equalibrium is restored when the state murders the murderer. The difference between this and revenge, or "an eye for an eye" seems to be negligible, at best.

I suppose I would be slightly more sympathetic to the argument that it's cheaper to kill the murderer than it is to warehouse him or her until death comes naturally. I still wouldn't support the death penalty, but at least the argument has a degree of logical consistency.

About abortion — this is a much more complicated issue. I'll admit up front that my position on this issue is as "emotional" as those on the pro-life side.

What seems to be at stake are the competing rights of the potential life of the foetus versus the existing life of the mother. Then the question becomes whether the state has the authority or the right to coerce a mother to bring a foetus to term regardless of the circumstances of conception (i.e., various forms of rape including incest).

When considering the potential life of the foetus, we must ask at what point life begins. In the Roe v Wade decision, the Supreme Court essentially set the bar at the third trimester, a choice which was based on the best medical knowledge of the time. Subsequent science suggests that a foetus is viable some time before that three month mark.

Based on my current knowledge, I do not believe life begins at conception. It is possible life begins prior to that 3-month mark, but I lack the information to make that call at that time.

For me the basic question is by what authority does the state define the beginning of life?

I would suggest that the state has no more authority to define the beginning of life than it has to enforce the end of life. And even as I say that, I want to admit exceptions for the latter point — e.g., in the event of war. On the whole, however, I do not believe the state needs to be in the business of defining life at either end.

Of Duels

OK. Moving on, now. In the comments under "Postcard from Dana" (Tues, Sept. 2 @ 9:26:11 pm), Dr. Omed informs me that I misapprehended his use of the word "duel". I thought he meant like, y'know, "Pistols at dawn". He was thinking banjos.

We have been cross-referencing each other for a while. Sometimes almost seems like we're having a conversation via blog, rather than via e-mail. Nothing wrong with that. It's just that we've got the ether world eaves-dropping. But that's ok — I'm a fellow eaves-dropper.

Since Dr. Omed is in the top 50 of the Salon rankings, I know I'm not the only person who visits his worthy site. Near as I know, the "basic" form of Blogger does not have a rankings capability, so I don't know how many drop in to this space. Comments reflect five or six, but I'm not sure that's an accurate measure.

Anyway, I hope you folk in the blogosphere have enjoyed our conversation as much as we have!

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Novena VIII

Paul Hill

Thunder & lightening outside
poison enters the vein
man cries eye for eye

martyr walks into new holocaust
thunder enters the vein
man cries life for life

poison infects the mind
holocaust enters the vein
life cries for life

worms conquer poison
life exits the vein
man cries eye for eye

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Novena VII, version "B"

this marooned face
a spectral figure
walks the island's limits

the mask i wear
fractured ideal image
haunted by reality

sky skims sea
eyes foggy across horizon
task this foreign beard

one p.m.
Same core concepts (as best as I could remember them), played with later in the day. The first version seems more "brutal" in its relative lack of articles and paucity of verbs. This version seems equally dreamlike, but more narrative. In a manner of speaking.

Novena, VII

marooned face
spectral body
walk limits

foreign beard
restless mornings
dusty images

hidden stars
stolen houses
pace night watches

one a.m.
Wrote down these words/phrases early this morning, thinking they might be sketches toward something else. At the moment, I like them as are — the raw purity of the words. Reminds me a little of Cassie Lewis' work.

Update from Bolivia

Just posted some new entries at Elsie's VIM-Bolivia blog. Sounds like quite a bit of work is getting accomplished.

Elsie has posted quite a few pictures here. There's a really outstanding picture of a tornado in Oruro! I imagine more pictures are soon to follow.

Several team members have commented on the graciousness of their hosts. I know from past experience that when one gives in this way, one reaps many rewards in return.

Click on through to the VIM-Bolivia site, and leave the team a message!
By now, you've figured out that "Elsie"="Linda". Linda's name is Linda C. P—. So, her first and middle initials are "L.C.", which phonetically sound like "Elsie". Similar to my initials spelling the alternate name of "jac". Guess I stick with "Elsie" simply because I've gotten into the habit.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Postcard from Dana

This one is dated Wednesday, 18.April.84, 2pm.
I haven't heard from you for awhile, brother, nor you from me.   Let me know whether you're still in this pale.   As for me, I've spent the last couple of days disporting by the riverside in Tulsa at Rob and Jeri's (or is that Jeri and Rob's) apt.   Jeri was an unexpectedly gracious host.   I bought the champagne for Potting Garden, then she picked up most of the tab.   I also got to see M.K. for the first time in the while.   All in all, it was fun.   Yours, in transit (mko express) — Dana-ox
The card is addressed to Jason C— at the late, lamented "Green House" on Monnett Street in Norman. I'll note that Dana was well on his way toward perfecting what he called "grass writing", and I'm making educated guesses on a couple of words.

I was living with Dale G— at the time. I think Dana was in the hovel on Klein here in the city & was working at the Cinema Whorehouse. For my part, I was working at the Infernal Bookstore.

Over on the Tent Show site, Dana has sort of challenged this blog to a duel. He has suggested that I may be publishing embarassing information about him in this space.

Well, I suppose I could emulate our old friend Kerouac and start telling the story. Can do it in installments, as the Lady allows.

Don't know. To tell his story involves telling my own. Some parts I don't like looking at. Others I'm too discrete (or maybe prudish) to tell.

Postcard Poems

Just received a couple of chapbooks (both "Postcard Poems") from Cassie Lewis, part of the inspiration for the postcard series I have been posting here the past couple of weeks. I left the selection of books up to her, and she sent a poetic correspondence between Tim Yu and her, and another one between Stephanie Young and her.

I opened the collection with Tim Yu at random, and found this:

Do you ever have William Blake days?
I do. They start amiably enough —
coffee, toast — and lead
into a forest thick and lush as childhood.

Postcard Poems, © Tim Yu & Cassie Lewis, 2003

Do I Need Training?

Just noticed this ad up in the banner. Ya suppose the cyber gods are trying to tell me something?

It's interesting, too, that naming several entries "Poetic Novena" has generated links to Roman Catholic sites as well as self-publishing sites.

This is what I live for — keeping that banner hopping.

Report From Bolivia

Got an up-date from Elsie, who, as you may recall, is with a mission group building a church in Oruro, Bolivia, South America. Elsie & I worked out the log-in difficulties, and I have posted several entries on her VIM Oruro, Bolivia blog-site.

To summarize, some team members got sick from the altidude — many simply experienced respiratory discomfort. The people of Oruro have been very welcoming, and have shared a couple of feasts with the team members.

The work sounds very physically demanding. Seems like the type which would leave you tired and satisfied.

For a more detailed report, please click through to VIM Oruro, Bolivia.

Poetic Novena, VI

trees stand guard over
falling rain shadows
clouds seek morning

Monday, September 01, 2003

Historic Footnote

In a back-channel comment on the novena offered immediately below, the venerable Dr. Omed writes:
Pope Paul V (1605-1621) did indeed condemn and ban the potato as "the apple of love" and "the root of man's licentious and depraved behavior." Good Catholics were warned to avoid this aphrodisiac for their very salvation.

In other Omed-related news, the good doctor won first place in the spam de-construction contest at the Virtual Occoquan. Read his winning entry here.

Your humble correspondent is kicking himself for not submitting "The Frustration" (posted here on August 3rd).

Still, feel mighty proud of the good doctor for winning. Here's a tip of the pen to my old friend —

Poetic Novena, V

    When Will You
  • interogate the passion fruit

  • condemn the potato

  • comfort the wild dogs

  • harbor the fugitive puffin

  • eat locusts & honey

  • dance in martian twilight

  • watch the dawn through obsidian

  • breath with a lion's heartbeat

  • hear the wind's muzurka

  • know which way the wind blows