A Seventy-two State of Mind

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November 28, 2022, Grapevine- That the shy young server placed a bottle of Cholula hot sauce next to a plate of chocolate pancakes mattered little. I enjoyed dabbing a few sprinkles on my birthday brunch of Bacado Omelette and home fried potatoes. She was sweet and was trying hard, so all’s well.

Hemingway Brunch, in Coppell, south of here, is one of three eateries in the Sprouts Shopping Center. There is a Burger Bar next door and a “Texican” establishment on the south side of the strip mall. Hemingway is another of the great brunch places in the northwest Metro. We just found this out, though, this morning.

I have had time today to look at where I am now, in several areas of life.

I am more flute than saxophone; more sky blue than cloud gray; more turbinado or fresh honey than corn syrup; more SUV than Mini-Cooper.

I am more salted pretzel than glazed donut; more sunset than noon blaze; more mountain trail than suburban sidewalk; more cozy cabin than sterile suite.

I am more discourse than diatribe; more fresh eyes than regurgitation; more for dogs than for lizards; more immune system than medication.

I am more drawn to cute than to glamourous; more soft and quiet than thunderous; more steady than shaky; more morning than afternoon.

These are what come to mind, as Seventy-two becomes part of my identity for twelve months.

Faded Glory?

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November 11, 2022-

Say not that beauty has faded, rather, make note that it has deepened. The smoothness of a face has found its way into the deeper layers of dermis, shining more brightly, from its place in the recesses underneath.

The brightness of the eyes remains, reflecting more intensely the knowledge and wisdom that have found their way from the psyche on out.

The body has lost no lustre, rather, all the burdens it has borne over years and decades have cast the strength and radiance both outwardly to the surrounding area and inwardly to the harbour of the soul, in both cases sending magnetism that draws the iron in the souls of others towards one’s purity and good will.

Say not that beauty has faded. It is but a reflection, of the Glory that shall never fade.

The Wolf Bunny

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January 24, 2022-

The short, slightly-built young girl came into class and sat down, sporting a costume of her own design. Here was a presence covered in a rabbit’s fur, with padded foot wear, and with huge, lagomorphic ears, that had the hair of a wolf. Her face was covered in a yellow print face mask, leaving only her eyes, and the trademark surly “Present”, as her name was called at roll, to remind me of who was underneath the disguise. This was the Wolf Bunny, and anyone who didn’t like it could simply “monitor and adjust”. That point made, she set herself to work, and accomplished a lot more than most of her classmates.

Beatitude-Inspired

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December 22, 2021-

Blessed is the father who willingly changes diapers, uncomplainingly paints his daughter’s nails and enjoys her “tea party”.

Blessed is the mother who takes a few minutes and tosses baseballs into her son’s waiting glove, teaches him to wash his own clothes and make his own lunch.

Blessed is the son who practices humility, learns to sew on buttons, willingly washes the dishes and his own clothes and keeps an orderly room.

Blessed is the daughter who stands up for herself, never regarding her position in the family as subservient, who pursues her own dreams and who can maintain her own vehicle.

Blessed is the neighbour who looks out for others in his apartment block, on her street, in their village.

Blessed is the citizen who considers all points of view, who is not tied to only the immediate needs of own community, own nation or own generation, but who has the well-being of the planet in mind as well.

Blessed is the generation which loves those who came before and those who come after, as well as its own members.

Blessed are the people who look out for all sentient beings and who are open to communicating with those heretofore not known to them.

The Quiet Sunday, Long Ago

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December 7, 2021- People were worshipping, others were fishing, on the vast expanse of Pearl Harbor.

The churchgoers would think of picnicking, the fishers, of cleaning and grilling their catch.

Sailors, Marines and soldiers were lolling about their bunks, or maybe going out for a morning jog.

Approaching from the west, aviators, operating in stealth, let loose with a steady barrage of firepower.

Everyone who was aboard ship became a gunner. The targets did their level best to turn the tables. The attackers carried the day, but the victory was Pyrrhic.

Imperial Japan had awakened a giant, whose ferocity and tenacity would rain far worse devastation on the people who could not look their Emperor in the eye.

The experience of Japan should be a cautionary tale, to all who dream of worldwide hegemony.

Will the ones who now dream of such an empire take heed?

Evolution

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December 5, 2021- There was a lot of sameness about today: Breakfast at Post 6, the Sunday paper, and getting the laundry done, for another week. That set me to thinking, though, about what has changed, over the years, in a “then” and “now” fashion.

Then, I knew only people who looked, more or less, like me. I had little sense of how people of different backgrounds, who lived in other places, really thought, felt and acted. There was always a curiosity, though, and while interacting with people of other backgrounds, as I grew into manhood, was sometimes tough, we made it through to the other side as friends.

Now, I am blessed with so many people I love, our respective backgrounds, beliefs and affiliations mattering little.

Then, I knew the small area of Saugus and the surrounding towns and cities. Up north was New Hampshire, where we went on the first part , if not the entirety of every vacation. Down south was Cape Cod, which saw the second part of vacation, when times were good. Places like Providence, Rhode Island and Stamford, Connecticut were rare to our family itinerary, as was Martha’s Vineyard. Now, I have seen parts of all fifty states, have lived near, and walked all over, our nation’s capital. I have lived in Maine, during one of the worst blizzards that New England experienced during the late ’70s. My home, from 1978-86 and again, since 1992, has been Arizona. It was here, in the Southwest, that I met my darling wife, found my true Faith, and came to grips with the state of mind that set me apart from others, for so long.

There have been other places that made me grow. Jeju, Korea taught me the value of looking at life, through other cultural viewpoints. It was there that a son came into our lives, and where he would be hard-wired to seek his own helpmate, thirty years later. Life among Dineh and Hopi further expanded my sense of looking at the world through different lenses. Travels to places like Israel, the West Bank, Guyana, Taiwan, England, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany showed me, time and again, how much we can all learn from one another.

There was a time when I was of a warrior mindset. People abroad could only be saved by us mighty Americans. Then, I went to Vietnam, and found out differently. There was a time when I was of a very exclusive mindset. It was best for others to assimilate into mainstream American culture. Meeting people who are Black, Brown, Indigenous to this continent, East Asians, speaking Spanish, Navajo, Apache, Korean, Mandarin, Creole and yet, going about their lives in ways that taught me volumes, and showed how much assimilation is a myth. There was a time when I had little use for homosexuals. Then, I kept meeting people whose sexual orientation differed from my own, and found they are, in many other ways, the same as I am. Then, too, I saw how some friends underwent the hard process of gender reassignment, and I saw just how these steadfast and forthright friends of mine, one of whom was my rock, when I was at the low point in the grieving process, struggle in very fundamental ways, with aspects of life that those of us who are straight and cisgender handle in de rigeur fashion. I see that no one is pressuring me to adapt to a lifestyle to which I have no attraction; nor should I exert pressure on those who are not drawn to mine.

There remains one “blind spot” of sorts: Grifters, beggars, takers.. Is it true that, being “kind to all who cross my path”, and “if someone asks for your coat, give him your trousers, as well”, should be taken at face value? I am generous in prosperity, and yet, I do not see that having limits to largesse, lest I become a ward of others, means that I lack trust in the Creator. The Prophet Muhammad spoke, “Trust in God, but tie your camel.” I have been homeless, albeit briefly. I have been destitute, also for a very short time. The key to rising out of penury has always lain in being proactive, open-minded and resilient.

Thus have I evolved.

Think of Me As You Will

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November 3, 2021-

Think of me as you will. I will ever rise from my bed, no later than 7 a.m. The day will begin in earnest, with devotions and a health check.

Either work, or service of some kind, will follow. My presence is welcome in many places; in others, not so much. There are friends in whose homes I am welcome with open arms. Others, with whom I must negotiate a visit, are more cautious. They are no less loved.

Home Base is a paradise to me, albeit one whose surrounds are cluttered with the accoutrements of my workaholic neighbours. It is no less loved, for all the noise and clamour.

Think of me as you will. If this life plan keeps me in one place, that is its design. Should the spirit guides say “Go forth”, that is also its purpose.

My life is not yours, and vice versa. Should our paths be in tandem, you are always welcome at my side. If they become entangled, let us determine what is best, for both of us.

Dad told me, long ago, “What other people think of you is not your business. If their paths cross yours, each of you has the right to do what is best for yourself.”

Think of me as you will. Long may you live, love and prosper.

The Glass is Swept…

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September 27, 2021-

The quiet voice assured me, “See, your soreness is fading, your range of motion is fine. The car served you well; it is now being broken into re-usable parts. The glass is swept, the tires can be re-sold. The fluids have been drained and the battery is stored safely. Your life is going on, because it must. The bullet points of your mission shall be modified, and the manner in which they are carried out may require different media, but the overall mission is the same. Some friends are cooling in their attitudes towards you because you no longer serve their purposes. Indeed, you probably never did. Others, the ones you see now and then, will stand by you, and you, them, for all time. Be gentle with yourself, as you are with the blessed children. The glass is swept. The body is recovering. The road ahead is clear. ”

Blitzy

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September 19, 2021-

This is a Blitz Poem, a stream-of-consciousness piece, about mood swings, among other things.

In The Mood

Mood blue can turn into mood indigo

I can be of a mood to laugh

Laugh with friends

Laugh at folly.

Folly of leaders

Folly of the masses.

Masses of paperwork

Masses of clouds.

Clouds drop rain

Clouds my judgment .

Judgment brings pain

Judgment brings lessons .

Lessons come hard

Lessons drive change.

Change is a constant

Change is a process.

Process builds systems

Process builds patience.

Patience means perseverance

Patience is a virtue.

Virtue shakes vice

Virtue brings challenge .

Challenge builds strength

Challenge begs a question.

Question authority

Question existence .

Existence is eternal

Existence is the start of life .

Life can be hard

Life means feeling.

Feeling groovy

Feeling anger .

Anger spurs action

Anger is a mood .

Mood

Swings

A Sestina for the Suffering

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September 1, 2021- The need to be of help in relieving suffering, be it of humans or of animals, is among the most fundamental urges most of us have. This sestina, a verse of six stanzas, rotating six end words, and capped by an envoi of three lines, addresses the suffering that is encountered by many.

We go about our daily deeds, both joy and drudgery, meeting peace, to outward-seeming. Life has its minor struggles, persistent, sometimes nagging disappointments, and adventure. There is, however, no growth or triumph, without struggle. We learn, at any early age, that one safeguard against harm is that of attachment. The warmth of mother, the sturdiness of father, the friendship of sibling, curl up in memory. As we grow, there are many reactions to those around us; the best of these being empathy.

The plight of the poor, those living below what we have come to expect, summons empathy. There are hovels, tents and rolled-out blankets, which defy credulity, even to outward-seeming. A visit to an encampment, even seeing the modest trappings of ingenuity, is seared in memory. The day-to-day struggles are not uniformly dreaded by the homeless, who may see adventure. A rolled-up camp and the camaraderie of mates may trigger attachment. There comes to be seen as a truism, that what matters is not the destination, but the struggle.

A person, or an animal, waging the fight for freedom, draws admirers to their struggle. There is no end to the outpouring, at least initially, of empathy. The identification of onlooker with target, and against oppressor, becomes a torrid attachment. The course of action becomes clear, to outward-seeming. Some will join in the fray, if only to experience a rare adventure. On their deathbeds, the onlookers turned fighters will whisper their memory.

There is a power, though, in the storehouse that is memory. It nags, it pleads and ultimately forces the onlooker to join the struggle. There is scant relaxation, maybe a dearth of comfort, in the ensuing adventure. The fire of action fuels the sword of courage, forged on the anvil of empathy. Those not convinced of the truth that is spoken to power see waste, to outward-seeming. Greed, envy, avarice, lust and pride are among the foci of their attachment.

The suffering, living day-to-day, may grasp at their helpers, in oblique attachment. The y have yet to experience the living out of a dream, with squalor their sole memory. The plight of the oppressed can seem intractable, to outward-seeming. It is all too easy to kneel in pleading, not wanting to engage in righteous struggle. It is the rising, however, that engenders and sustains empathy. It is the fortitude, the joining of hands, that sustain the real adventure.

The signals are clear, when an oppressed soul stands and embarks on such adventure. The multitude gathers, moves forward in serried lines, and hope is their sole attachment. They walk along, forge past all obstacles, and bathe one another in empathy. In time, the victories, no matter how fleeting, build a treasury of memory. The triumphs fuel, and the setbacks harden, the boldness of struggle. Then, there will be a measure of unity, between inner perception and outward-seeming.

All in all, what is past is prologue, and what is to be, generates from memory. The chef who cooks recollection, needs a fresh supply of struggle. There is no daylight, in the end, between inner perception and outward-seeming.

Purists may bemoan the relative lack of iambic pentameter, but such is life.