Tie me to the roots
where your hand grasps Spica
Tie me to your life line
Tie me where black is bland
and red is waiting
Tie my shackles to the seconds
Tie the melody to that vagrant heartbeat
Tie the words to the burned grass
Tie me to the rising tide
to the setting sun
to morning mist
to the winter chill
Tie me to the minutes
Tie me to the hours
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Tie me to the roots
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
A more eloquent discussion of a theme I've tried to express: that most so-called atheists are rejecting a particular definition, or image, of God. This gentleman goes further, to say that truly spiritual Christians refuse to put God in a box.
J.B. Philips a famous translator of the New Testament in the '50s, also wrote a book titled Your God is Too Small. My understanding is that he was trying to make the same point.
I'm afraid that most of the time my image of God is closer to the big Santa in the sky that to the Tao that can't be spoken. At least, this is the image I presume others have of God — and I suppose this judgment is closer to home, that is, what I fear is in my own heart.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I learned of this video through the Jan ’09 issue of Acoustic Guitar. Ms. Yang is playing a Greg Smallman, the guitar featured in the "Great Acoustics" section. The appreciation is written by Adrian Legg, no slouch either.
My search lead me to this video, which brought tears to my eyes.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I'm thankful for pink-pawed dawn
stalking across yellowed grass;
I'm thankful for yellowed grass
and green weeds and
and dust of leaves;
I'm thankful for blown leaves
a piebald pattern on my lawn.
I'm thankful for my lawn,
for the steps to my porch,
for the stories my door tells,
for the cat by the window.
I'm thankful for the cat
on my lap.
I'm thankful for the quiet
of an empty house.
I'm thankful for the boy
I'm thankful for the woman
picking the paper up from her steps.
I'm thankful for the song
sealed in this guitar string.
I'm thankful for how her hair
shines in the afternoon sun.
I'm thankful for how fingers dance.
I'm thankful for the words
for the notes for the breath
for how the diaphragm supports the song
for the subtle chimes and the brassy organ.
I'm thankful for the table spread
and the peaked roof
and the tossled bed.
I'm thankful for this walk.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
A little over a month ago, I drove to the Four Corners area in Northwestern New Mexico. It was a ten-plus hour drive. I made the trip to attend my cousin R—'s funeral.
The curious thing about driving those ten hours was the fact that I could not recall much about time spent with R—. I typically saw her twice a year, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, when my family would travel to Ardmore to visit Padre's siblings. R— was among a large number of cousins; for most of my childhood, she was one of Aunt Merrie's two children. Aunt Nelle, Padre's oldest sister, had four children.
I did remember that R— and I were close in age. When I read her obit I learned we were only a month apart — I was born today, Nov. 22, in 1955; she was born in December of the same year. Thus, it makes sense that her death would haunt me a little.
I only remember one event that includes her. I was very young, and had gotten a splinter in my finger. Her dad, Jack, told me a story of the clowns at bullfights as he extracted the splinter.
More importantly, though, I remember the feelings I have for her. We were quite close. I remember playing with her, though I couldn't tell you a single game we played.
R— did not have an easy life. It might be said she had poor taste in men. The men she was attracted to were verbally abuse and controlling. She had broken up with such a man a few weeks before she died.
On the other hand, she had a fulfilling career as a nurse at a local extended care facility. Half the chapel was filled with her co-workers, who also provided the traditional post-funeral feast for her family.
Officially, R— died of an accidental overdose. She was sad the weeks before she died, and some might leap to the conclusion that the OD was no accident. I make no such judgments.
Her memorial service was held at a Baptist church. Once I learned this, I was worried that I might have to sit through a stereotypical Baptist "get right with Jesus" sermon. I was pleasantly surprised. Although R— was not a regular church-goer, the minister assumed she had a good relationship with God.
What especially impressed me about his message is that he directly confronted R—'s depression. He named it. But he went further; he spoke of his own struggle with depression, and admitted that he had sought medical help for it. He said his relationship with Christ helped, but that he needed antidepressants as well.
Not something a stereotypical Baptist preacher would admit.
I was confronted with the fact that darkness was something R— and I shared. Even as I drove those ten hours to NW New Mexico, I could hear the dark voice at the edge of my consciousness. The dark voice sounded a lot like my own voice, only it was criticizing my every decision. It was telling me how I have wasted my life. It still tells me that I have poor taste in women, and might as well give up on finding a romantic companion.
As I type this, I'm aware it's melodramatic. But it's also true. It's something I believe I must get out of my head & send outer space.
I don't know what R—'s last days were like. I don't know for a fact that she had her own dark voice to wrestle. I know her spirit haunts me. That philia we shared continues today. I believe she wishes me well.
Perhaps she would encourage me to wrestle that dark voice. Perhaps she would suggest I say "get thee behind me" each time the voice whispers in my ear.
R— blows a farewell kiss
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
It takes time to shine your shoes,
It takes time to choke the rainbow,
It takes time to teach the blues.
They took their time
They took their time
They took their time
They took their time
It takes time to shrink the dollar,
To build your cross of gold,
It takes time to spoil the water
before your child grows old
They took their time
They took their time
They robbed us blind
and took their time.
It takes time to steal tomorrow,
To set the devil free,
It takes times to dig the canyon
between wealth & poverty
They took their time
They took their time
They robbed us blind
and took their time
It takes time to murder Jesus,
To set mercy on its ear,
Time to poison people
So cities live in fear
They took their time
They took their time
They robbed us blind
and took their time
A song, based on the poem "Some Things Take Time" by George Wallace (of Suffolk County, NY)
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
This was my tenth year to attend the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS. This decade of experience has taught me to pack for the “three seasons of Winfield:” hot, cold, and rainy. It's hot during the day (mid 80s this year), and cool in the evening (low 50s). It typically rains Friday or Saturday, often torrential rains. This year, the rain came the week before the official beginning of the festival.
A few words of explanation are in order: the Festival takes place on the county fairgrounds (Winfield is the county seat of Cowley County). I have been told these grounds constitute a square mile. The grounds include two groves of trees (commonly called Pecan and Walnut) where people camp. The Walnut Valley River meanders around the border of these grounds.So, when the rains came Sept. 11 & 12, the river began flooding. I was told there is a dam upstream which needed to be opened, in order to avoid flooding the town. The combination of rain and opened dam caused the river to crest to ~32 ft. The festival grounds are low-lying, and were flooded.
Part of Pecan Grove Thursday morning, Sept. 18, about a week after the flood
People who had arrived to early were evacuated. Some went to near-by Oxford (about 10 minutes west of Winfield). The group I normally camp with went to Winfield City Lake, about 30 minutes north-east of town.
I heard heart-warming stories of how local farmers used their tractors to help pull campers out of the mud. How grateful campers performed for the retirement home in Oxford.
As I say, I was at Winfield City Lake, about 30 minutes away. Another way the city pitched in to help was by providing shuttle service to and from the remote camping areas. The bus ride from the lake was a little over 30 minutes long.
A very different experience from being able to walk over to a concert, then walk back to camp. One had to plan ahead. Plus, I had to take into account the poor night-time visibility at the lake, and the challenge of finding my way back from the bus stop, at the Marina, to where I was camped — maybe an eighth mile as the crow flies, but a little further by foot.
In the end, I only went to the fairgrounds to hear music three times. It was on the first trip that I heard the Wiyos, whose video is posted below. I also saw Stephen Bennett, who I always enjoy. On Friday, I saw Beppe Gametta, Italian finger-style and flat picking whiz; and the Kenny & Amanda Smith band, which was better than you might imagine.
Four good acts, and one exceptionally bad one (who shall go unnamed). This was worth $80?
Friday, September 26, 2008
- she "deride(s) his idealism and turn(s) negativity into a cause for pride"
- "Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from “us” pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat."
Read the two essays, and let me know what you think.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
This is one of the few groups I heard at Winfield this year, The Wiyos. Hadn't heard them before, but I'm now a fan.
They mentioned "the 2nd Great Depression" when they introduced this tune. I wonder if Ms. Pit Bull was in the audience?
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I recently returned from my visit to the Walnut Valley Festival (aka, "Winfield"). I have the goal of writing some about this year's experience sometime within the next week.
In the meantime, here you see some notes toward that entry (written in my Moleskine Notebook ®) along with an unused Camping Permit.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
This lone 'shroom appeared in my front yard a little over a week ago. This shot reflects how it looked Sunday morning; as of last night, it had grown larger, with some brown. Really a mutant, compared to other mushrooms that have appeared in my yard in the past.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
This is how I looked Saturday morning, 6.Sept.08. I always try to catch myself off-guard. The expression seems to me that of a man with some private secret. What gnosis do I suppose I hold? None at all, my dears; none at all.
And this is how I appeared this morning, about 30 minutes prior to heading to church.
Some years ago, Rusty N. owned what we called a "magic" hat. The magic of that hat was that it looked good on anyone who wore it. It was a black felt hat, similar to this one.
This gray hat seems to be magic as well. Days when I wear it, everyone who passes me smiles and often comments on what a nice hat it is. What you don't see here – I'll try to capture it on another day – is the small colorful feather on the left side.
As for my expression here, it is that of someone concentrating on holding the remote shutter release at just the right angle. As for that cocked right eyebrow, there is little I can say. I started cocking it, unconsciously, at some point during high school, and it got stuck that way. Let this be a lesson to you, children!
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Let's watch the flames turn into poem banners.
Let's float our dreams on the wings of monarch butterflies.
The sun dips lower in the morning, hides behind buildings it once challenged.
The light dons the quality of soft rain, blowing from all directions.
Afternoon shadows bend toward the equinox,
then lengthen onto your bed
where a gray cat
sleeps on an Indian Blanket.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
So, the poor treatment veterans of the Afghan and Iraq wars have received is nothing new. It has continued into VA denying the effects of Agent Orange following the Viet Nam conflict, to so-called Gulf War Syndrome*, to recent stop-loss measures.
Brother Dave, a veteran of Viet Nam and current veteran's advocate, recommends we read Vets Under Siege: How America Deceives and Dishonors Those Who Fight Our Battles by Martin Schram to commemorate the anniversary of the Bonus Army. Click for a full review of the book.
*Calling something a "syndrome" suggests the symptoms are psychological. In fact, the dominant story concerning Gulf War Syndrome is that there is no known physical cause. As the review notes, Mr. Schram's book makes a good case that the "syndrome" is linked to exposure to chemical warfare agents at various sites in Iraq in the early 1990s.
Friday, July 18, 2008
I am no magic trick, no doer of miracles, no water walker.Trust me, it just gets better.
I am no architect of glory, no layer-on of hands, no angel wing.
I am no weaver of gold, no mythmaker, no parachute artist.
I am no halo of stillness in a downpour.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
It goes summer sun slow.
It goes with ham & eggs & flap jacks.
It goes past the creosote dumps.
It goes where no poem dares turn.
It goes with kettle bangs and wet whispers.
It goes like a gong.
It goes like sparklers chasing fireflies.
It goes like the terraces of a woman sleeping.
It goes like night terrors.
It goes well with white wine or vinegar.
It goes & it goes, & it rolls & it flows.
I walked with the morning light.
Now I sit shiva with the setting sun.
And it goes down soft and dusty.
It goes down smooth.
It goes on straight toward midnight.
It goes past memory
and takes a right at justice.
It goes to the heart of darkness
at the center of the light.
It goes & it glows & it rolls & it grows.
I like watching it go.
It goes like a lover's hips rolling
like a ship on steady waves.
It goes like pastures waving
in the harvest season.
It goes well with the hustlers and the street car punks
and the men huddled in doorways
and the women hidden in culverts.
It goes like a half-remembered riddle.
It goes & it goes & it rolls & it flows.
Begun as a free-write inspired by Dr. Omed on Twitter
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Sunday, June 01, 2008
I trace the lines of my hands: blue highways of intimate discourse. Bright backroads where the stars taste my heartbeat.
This long diagonal line - does it aim to Scorpius? Or is it the left-hand side of the path from soul to mind? It slices my lifeline, which traverses the full palm map.
Seven loves flow from the heart. Blue highways near my thumb suggest alternate tales.
This line intersecting the Scorpion line at the left could be the Archer. Let my aim be plain and true. My words the plumb line into meandering destinies.
A new line flows from the top of that line, falling off the right to where monsters may dwell. An alternate future parallels from the base of the life line.
I would reveal all my secrets, but they remain hidden even to me.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
the shattered stone.
I bind myself to the rift in the rock.
I take shelter under the sparrow's wing.
I rest in the shadow of the thistle.
I bind myself this day to the spring grass.
I bind myself to the summer tornado.
I take shelter in gathering winds.
I rest in early evening warmth.
I trust in the moon's vengeance.
I have faith in the compassionate breeze.
I study the scripture in the jewel
at the heart of the lotus.
I bind integrity to my right arm,
and discerned justice to my left.
My right hand is named "Love"
my left hand, "Honor".
I follow the example of volunteer clover.
I follow the path of the wild mint.
I heed the morning dove's cry.
I shall not forsake my name.
Even though my name is dust.
Even though my honor is fresh mown grass.
Even though my words are light as rain clouds.
I bind myself to the split stone.
I bind myself to the creek's memory.
I bind myself to morning flags
and evening traffic reports.
I bind unto myself this day
the Name beyond names;
the Path which has no route;
the Law which has no letters;
the People who have no borders.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I just purchased Duffy's debut album, Rockferry, on iTunes after listening to samples of all the tracks. As you'll hear in the live sample embedded above, she's got a powerful vocal instrument. Never mind the hit single, Mercy, which I think sounds a bit too much like Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" for comfort. The other 12 songs on the album far out shine it. Check out Syrup & Honey for a peek at the artist at work.
There's a iRumor circulating that this Welsh singer calls herself Duffy as an homage to Dusty Springfield. She's close to Springfield, no question - just needs a little seasoning.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
A little over 300 pages long (including appendix), this book covers salvation history from the Garden of Eden to the present. The history is, of course, made with very broad strokes. What is fascinating about the presentation of the history is how the authors constantly use events such as Israel's demand for a king (in I Samuel) to comment on current events.
The authors remind us that when the people of Israel asked for a king, God warned them that any human king would be no better than the Pharaoh. The ideal is that God is the only king we need.
It seems to me that this is the primary point of this book: we project onto our leaders all the hopes and dreams that can only be realistically fulfilled by God. We try to legislate a better society and better people, when this only be effected by changing the individual heart of each person.
This doesn't mean we don't vote. We choose a candidate we believe will do the most good and the least harm. But we fool ourselves if we believe any candidate will be able to do everything s/he promises. The only person who could deliver on all his promises was Jesus; and he promised nothing more than suffering and servanthood.
Look, the U.S. Constitution has a system of checks and balances which intends to prevent any one person or group of people from gaining absolute power. The only way any person could fulfill all his/her political promises is if that person were a dictator or emperor. There is a reason many have described the current administration as "the imperial presidency," and we are no experiencing the negative fall-out from its actions.
Human politics can only go so far. People obey laws as a duty to the social contract, or from fear of punishment. Typically, such laws do not change the human heart. The Law of Love, Jesus' platform, is written on the human heart.
Jesus, as Claiborn and his co-authors point out, would be a poor candidate in the traditional sense. Jesus would be "soft on defense": no where in the Gospels does Jesus take up a sword (the gun of his day). When asked whether to oppose Rome (by means of refusing to pay taxes), he rejected the question. For Jesus the point was not whether to oppose Rome or to support a new human leader, but to submit oneself to God.
Jesus would take a new view of welfare that might shock both Democrats and Republicans. Jesus did not judge the poor — as an itinerant preacher he was among them. Instead, Jesus fed those who were hungry. In the early church, pre-300 C.E., the norm was for the community to hold all property in common and share according to each member's need. What the U.S. has done, over time, is to cede the Christian responsibility to care for "the least of these" to the state; the results have been mixed, to say the least.
This is a thought-provoking book, with new readings of scripture (the Christian testament in particular) which I found enlightening. I recommend it to all who seek an expression of Christian life founded on practice rather than dogma.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
will walk under storm-green skies
past haunted duplexes
through echoing culverts
through knee-high grass.
It will walk from New Jersey Pine Barrons
and coast up Gravity Hill;
it will walk from mother's horror
to father's death;
it will walk from the myth of Saturn
to the mouth of the whirlwind.
It will walk all this way
to sit on my chest,
some cat-like Buddha,
to flip through the uneven pages
of my unjustified heart.
My last poem and my first poem
will sit on the front porch
and tell tall tales
about the neighbors.
They'll compare rhetoric
and the scope of their rhythm.
"You've got a charming rhyme scheme,"
my last poem will say;
"You've got a mysterious metaphysic,"
my first poem will reply.
And they'll write sketches of the wind
while drinking green tea
with a pinch of fresh mint
and a spoon-full of local honey.
My last poem
may have forgotten every cherished image;
it may have lost
its connection to each borrowed symbol
and 40 years worth of repetends.
It may find itself confronted
by each unfinished stanza,
every half-begun epic,
each muse in passing
and muse in waiting -
each shopgirl, waitress,
movie star, pew mate,
class mate, anima projection -
all the false goddesses
and true harridans,
all the true goddesses
and faithless lovers.
It may have forgotten
their names in eternity.
It may have lost its breath
and its measured lines.
It may not want a song
or need one more sip of beer.
My last poem
will shake your hand and greet you.
It will welcome you like an old friend.
It will walk with you anywhere.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
— Jonathan, at Bemsha Swing!
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Saturday, April 05, 2008
The flowers fall, for all our yearning; weeds grow, regardless of our dislike.
— Zen saying
Photo details: ISO 200, f/7.1 @ 1/400; cloudy, natural light
Friday, April 04, 2008
the wind tears up the street
the stars hail down
The weather vane lost true north
the mailbox flag is frozen
the robin is far from home
She opens the drowsy window
watches rain wash the screen
she dreams her morning fog
in the swirl of her morning coffee
Thursday, March 20, 2008
To pick up on how my employment situation has affected my blog/creative output:
My primary function (assisting with grant applications) is very seasonal. Plus, there is a limited amount I can do without information from the applicant. So, even when a grant is due, I have a considerable amount of "free" time. During which I would edit photographs, craft essays, and go surfing for topics or supporting evidence.
Until fairly recently, grant applications have been paper-based. Then, about three years ago, a number of agencies switched to electronic submission. Most NIH grants are now electronic submission only. Which means that there is even less for a secretary to do.
Finally, there are only three researchers who use my services on a regular basis. Even though I assisted with a grant application every month but three last year, there still was not enough for me to do.
Now, the average manager would probably respond, "There's always something to do." I accept that; but it doesn't necessarily mean that I would know what else needs to be done.
In any case, our primary boss started noticing. I do my best to be discrete in my surfing (mostly work-safe sites), and I typically have a "boss key" handy, but I was occasionally caught surfing. So, the boss said something to my immediate supervisor. A caution which was repeated to me twice – once in '06 and once in '07.
The first time my supervisor reported this caution, I responded with my view of the situation - pretty much as I've detailed above. My supervisor responded by saying it seemed like I needed to transition to another function. But nothing more was said.
When she repeated the caution in '07, I responded by listing the things I am doing, and how I spend my down time. I solicited ideas for other things to do, but she had none.
That's the point at which I started to apply for other positions. About the same time, I noticed the department was hiring part-time personnel to assist in our billing area. I immediately began researching whether this might be a function I could take on.
To make a long story less long, I sold management on the idea that I could serve the same function as the part-timer while continuing with my grant-support functions (as well as my web master job).
I'm not getting paid more for this (at present), but I do believe there is greater job security. Our business manager (who joined the department late last year)was especially impressed that I took the initiative. She has also told me several times what a good job I'm doing, and how glad the people in the billing area are that I have joined that corner.
So, now I have fairly full days at work. While I miss the opportunity to indulge in my creative pursuits, I do feel less anxious about being caught or being in a situation where I might lose my job. I feel more useful, as well, which has given my self-image a shot in the arm.
I have been unusually quiet. If not for a few "Idée d’jour" and photographs, you might think I fell off the earth. You might think, as Brother Dave possibly did, that I was seriously depressed.
I was moderately depressed, something that seems to be common for me in the dark months. I was under the weather for over a month. The two combined for a greater depression.
But I was also tired of the sound of my own voice. I didn't have anything to say. What little I did have to say, I couldn't think of new ways to say it. There are, after all, a limited number of ways to say "I hate Bush".
I intend to maintain this space. I know I will be glad of the creative outlet once the quality of light springs my seratonin level back to normal. I won't make promises, but you're likely to hear from me more often.
Picture details: ISO 100; f/8.0 @1/60; zoom lens, 150mm; taken ~ 5:30 p.m., 14.Mar.08
Monday, March 17, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
The stone is smoothed by wind and rain. I hold it in my hand and feel the weight of forgotten mountains. I perceive the ocean. I hear the waters rise and fall. I feel the mammoth's delicate tread. The stone knows more than I.
The stone now lies in the bottom of a double-wall basket. The reeds come all the way from China. The stone remembers the Cherokee women who originally wove this type of basket. The stone ponders, but does not compare.
There is something about a stone's wisdom which causes the clouds to part.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Friday, February 01, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Ink stains on the pillow where dreams turned to rust
phantoms on fog streets walk over broken grass
thunderous brows open kitchen sink coffee grounds
counting the rest stops alone your life lines
counting the diversions in your tea leaves
opening blue evening closing your eyes
loving the calendar like a waitress
where dreams turn to rust and collections are untrue
where you open your hand and the rest stops are closed
where you open the central line and the heart beats faster
where the ink stains burn holes into your pillow
Friday, January 25, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
This is the first picture I've taken using the RAW format. [GEEK ALERT].
I took a Photoshop class year before last, and the first thing the instructor did was write the following equation on the board:
“JPG = E V I L”
The instructor extolled the virtues of RAW. He claimed it was as good as film quality. The learned user certainly has more control than over a JPG, and the quality of the original file is never comprised. I've read that a JPG file loses quality each time the user opens it – even if s/he does not edit the file; the explanation has to do with the compression/decompression method.
Anyway, the colors in this image do seem to "pop", don't they?
By the way — this shrub is scheduled to get a trim this Saturday.