…. does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself. — Carl Jung
…perfectly captures the peace-love/fuck you Zeitgeist of the New Year.
At The Basement in Nashville, Friday December 30 2016.
I can’t really know if anybody besides me has been asking that question, but if you’re one of the regulars around here (the numbers may not be legion, but the affection is sincere…) you may have been wondering why the frequency of posts to this site dropped off dramatically in the second half of last year (2016).
At least, I hope somebody noticed, and even if nobody did notice, I’m going to attempt to explain the absence.
So, where did Paul go?
He sorta went into hiding for awhile. His innate tendency to be reclusive and withdrawn when things “go all pear-shaped” got the better of him for several months.
Or, rather, maybe, he just had the wind kicked out of him, and he’s been trying to catch his breath.
Or maybe he’s been thrown into the middle of a lake and is treading water, trying to figure which shore to swim to.
Yeah, that’s it. Treading water.
Chalk it all up to disruption on a personally cosmic scale.
– – – – – – –
I remember exactly when the fabric of my universe started to tear: April 29, 2016.
Ann and I were in Portland, Oregon. She got back in the car and said,
“They want me to start August 1st.”
At that moment, the Big Bang Theory went into full reverse and my Universe started to implode….
I will do the things
All the things
that need the doing
the plant watering
the bird-feeder filling
the cat-box cleaning
the dish-washer emptying
the trash taking out
the compost dumping
the laundry washing
the run to the recycle center
all those tedious chores
that must be done
so that the plants don’t die
and the cats aren’t crapping
in a litter box
already filled with
their own crap.
Today is my Saturday
Today is the day I get to do
whatever I want
including the nothing
if that’s what I feel like doing
or not doing.
I’ll write a silly poem or two
I’ll surf the Interwebs
and post inane things on The Facebook
so that all my friends will think
that I am witty and profound.
I’ll make a few phone calls
send a few emails.
mess about with
my new computer.
I will try to
all pretense of “purpose”
long enough to let
because “random” is where
the creative things happen.
So that’s what I’m going to do today.
I will do the things,
like go to the store
and stock the fridge
so that the day after tomorrow
I don’t starve.
Well, here’s something good that happened in 2016 that bodes well for 2017…
For the past several years, I have been a regular contributor to the publication Alive Now – a bimonthly publication of the Upper Room Ministries which “speaks to the opportunities and challenges of following Christ in the modern world.”
Anybody who knows me and my lack of (organized) religious conviction will appreciate the irony in that mission statement.
Nevertheless, over the years Alive Now has featured many of my photos from my wanderings amid the medieval ruins of the U.K. I am endlessly grateful for the patronage of the magazine’s art director, Nancy Terzian and its editor, Beth Richardson – who also selected one of my photos from Scotland to serve as the cover of her book, Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Blessings.
Alive Now has published enough of my photos – and actually paid for them! – that I’ve probably earned enough over the years to reimburse the trips I made to England and Scotland to shoot the photos of medieval ruins that they used (OK, not ALL of the photos were from the UK, but who’s counting?).
Now, the capstone of that fruitful relationship is in place. After however many years, I finally secured the cover of March/April 2017 edition of Alive Now. I know it’s a sin, but I’ve coveted a cover for as long as I have been submitting photos, and I finally have one.
Unfortunately, in what feels like a hangover from the annus horribilis known as 2016 (trust me, you want to follow that ‘2016’ link…), the cover comes with its own sad tidings: this will be the final print edition of Alive Now. The publication will continue, but as has befallen so many print publications in the past decade, all future editions will be online/digital only. Once again, The Medium Is The Message (#TMITM).
Unlike the neatly manicured ruins that are maintained by well-endowed institutions like English Heritage, Jervaulx sits on a private estate. Its owners have gone to considerable effort and expense over the past decade to rehabilitate the ruin, but it still lingers in a state that is more reflective of how these ruins must have stood before their preservation became pet projects for the British aristocracy starting in the 18th century. That made spending an afternoon at Jervaulx an exercise in time travel that stopped in at least two different centuries at the same time.
And here is the ‘Portals of Stone’ version:
…when I waited until after the World Series to get myself a Cubs cap.
I’ve been wearing it ever since, and it has provoked endless greetings of “Go Cubs!” wherever I go.
And it’s a walking illustration of my default answer to the question, “How are you?”
“How about those Cubs?”
Friday October 28, 2016
I’ll finish my second cup of coffee
then toast a bagel
so that I’m not hungry
when I fire up
the old red truck
(which rolled off the assembly line
while Harry Truman was President)
and head down
to Pegram City Hall
I’m going to vote
Despite all my reservations
despite my concerns
that the a vote for Her
is a vote for Corporate Oligarchy
is a vote for a status quo
that is clearly not serving
some significant portion of the populace
– white, rural (my peeps!)
– urban under-educated (we love the under-educated!)
those “salt of the earth” types
for whom Donald-fucking-Trump
seems like a viable alternative
when what he really represents
(was it Michael Moore who said this?)
… a Molotov Cocktail
that the proles can throw
into the Palace of the Establishment.
Here, take THIS
Suck on this
flaming bottle of rage.
But when it comes down to
actually pulling a lever
as much as I would like to
it ain’t gonna happen.
At least, not this year.
This year, we have to
hold our nose
swallow our idealistic pride
just do what we can
to keep (what’s left of?)
a once bold experiment
Or do what Bernie says we should do.
Or as Andrew Sullivan said
and do what has to be done.
It’s unfortunate for Hillary, I guess
that the climate around her ascension
is so toxic.
It’s unfortunate, too,
that her life and career
have unfolded as they have
although had it been any different,
had she not entered the public arena
at the side of her charismatic husband
[compelling human interest story in the NYTimes this morning]
and then she had to pretty much stand by
while he self destructed
and then saddle herself
with all of that wreckage.
So you wonder
what it might have been like
if she’d emerged through some corridor
other than as Bill’s spouse
but that’s pointless speculation.
We’re all here to play
the hand that we’ve been dealt.
Sure, she’s got a lot of baggage
Who has lived on this planet
for nearly seven decades
and not accumulated
their share of shit?
who has taken every day
of his 70 years to evolve
into a steaming sack
of human excrement)
But underneath it all
one occasionally gets a glimpse
of a genuinely exceptional
if equally flawed
flesh blood and bone
It’s hard to separate
the actual person
from all the mediated data points.
Who really knows
what she is really like?
I mean, who,
outside of her tight inner circle
if even them?
We’re certainly not going to get
any sense of that
from television, or – especially – the Internet
– that digital echo chamber
that does such a great job
of re-telling us what we already know.
We just have to play
the hand we’ve been dealt
and take some solace
in knowing that voices we respect
like Elizabeth Warren
are all in the same boat.
So I will dip my oar
in the swirling ocean of crazy
pull my solitary stroke
in Her direction,
hope she can steer us
to some shore of (relative) sanity,
and then pray that the polls
are reasonably accurate.