This grave stone sits in a little depression. Snow swirled throughout the evening, leaving ripples around its base, which is how I discovered it the next morning.
Maybe it’s my glass of bourbon on a Friday night, or maybe I’m inherently sentimental, but isn’t that an apt metaphor for all of us?
We marvel at the ripples growing on the pond,
but forget the stone which drops from sight.
Because the one thing I’ve learned from visiting old cemeteries is that within a short time–a few decades, perhaps–grave markers lean and tumble, or become chiseled by time and fade. Sometimes even the sage reclaims the rented soil of our remains.
But those ripples, spreading outward, left by the impact of our life,
ah, those large and marvelous rings…
Birdsong and leaves beyond the panes
promise forever, and my blisters ache
with joy, hard-won.
Stew from the kettle, birthed
from the well, satiates my destiny.
But the magpie have fled the toppled poplars,
and my dreams are but patina
bleached in the sun.
Even the sage I mocked with toil
forgets my name.
The War on Christmas.
It’s a common complaint which echoes in the minds of those who feel the traditions of the holiday have been trampled by the boots of political correctness. “Never mind that Americans hold many diverse beliefs,” they say (and for a long time, I was a vested member of that chorus); “America is being undone by the degradation of those very traditions which gave us a national identity.” I understand those arguments all too well having been raised in a conservative, military town. Yet, the last time I looked, Christmas was doing just fine in America.
Barely have the Halloween decorations been unpacked when stores also begin clearing isle space for that jolly fat man and his assortment of colorful baubles. The lonely faux wreath dangling on a hook above neatly stacked boxes in the middle of the isle is a dead giveaway. But how about that other holiday? The one right between Halloween and Christmas, the one granted a measly half an isle behind the discounted sale items? The one we are supposed to celebrate together, as Americans, and be thankful for the abundance which fills our lives?
Oh, there’s a war on a holiday this time of year, but I fear too many have missed it: the war on Thanksgiving. After all, now retailers open for Black Friday sales right after Thanksgiving dinner (you can skip doing the dishes!). And, for those who wish to avoid unsightly fisticuffs at the stuffed toy isle, you can gleefully max out your credit cards from the comfort of your worn recliner (which, you suddenly notice, can also be replaced with one click of a button). Cyber Monday, hell yeah!
While many fear the boots of political correctness, I guess for me, I fear the boots of crass commercialism and it’s manipulation of American society. And, so I drew this cartoon.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you find peace.
She layers silence like blankets on the cold hills,
stills the reeds with a whisper and reaches tendrils
whitely into my dream. Relentlessly she pulls,
popping joists and bursting aggregate until the field around me
tickles my beams,
and my dreams yield from survival
An abandoned home miles from nowhere, photographed with an Hoya infrared filter
I stopped at an overgrown county road, the kind where wheel ruts disappear into tall grass. There was room at the juncture of this county road and the small highway I had been travelling on, so I pulled off and parked. It was June, and although there was a stop sign at the entrance to the route, I dared not drive on it. Catalytic converters can touch off fires, even on cooler days like this. Instead, I snagged my camera, locked my vehicle, and trekked over the rise and down into a little valley.
As is often the case where I live, my efforts were rewarded. Nestled among the sage was an entire homestead comprised of at least two separate homes, a barn, and several utility buildings. The spot lacked any official warning signs, perhaps it was so remote and hidden that none were needed, so I deemed it safe enough to explore.
This image, which I call Troubadour of the West, was taken with a Hoya infrared filter. I need to revisit this spot, perhaps this winter, when snow burdens the rafters and smooths out the fields. Or, certainly before some idiot drives down that lane, sparks a fire, and destroys all these lovely old bones of the past.