5.6.2022 – your freedom to read

your freedom to read
to determine what you read
independently

Where to start?

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step but where to begin?

Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Hammerstein said that we should, “Start at the Very Beginning, a Very Good Place to Start.”

The Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NIV)

That’s where it starts.

In the beginning was the word.

The word comes to us in a book.

That is where is starts.

A Book.

Books are there from the beginning.

Books are at the core.

For me, books are the answer.

For some, books are the problem.

And that shakes me to the core.

Book burning and it’s little brother, book banning, are for me, black and white, wrong vs. right.

Mr. Lincoln’s “eternal struggle between right and wrong” would embody books in my book.

The Nashville Public Library is working to raise awareness of recent book banning efforts by issuing a library card that proclaims, “I READ BANNED BOOKS.”

The press release from the NPL quotes Director Kent Oliver, saying, “I want Nashvillians to know: Nashville Public Library will always respect your Freedom to Read – to independently determine what you read, and don’t read, and to exercise your role in determining what your children read.

While I would have been happier had Mr. Kent not split an infinitive ( and I think to determine, independently, is more effective), I am very happy that the NPL is taking a stand and I would be happy to get the bright yellow card.

But the press release that the NPL was also one of the scariest and saddest statements that I have read recently.

Making the point for public support against book banning, the Nashville Public Library pointed out that:

Since the American Library Association began tracking challenges against books in the 1980s, the organization has recorded thousands of challenges made in cities across the U.S.

In contrast, 71% of readers oppose efforts to remove books from their local public libraries, according to an ALA survey of 1,000 voters and 472 parents of public-school children.

In contrast, 71% of readers oppose efforts to remove books from their local public libraries.

71% of readers oppose efforts to remove books from their local public libraries.

29% of readers did not express that they were opposed to efforts to remove books from their local public libraries.

I am reminded of the book, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

The title is based on the thought that 451 degress (F) is the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns.

If you are not familiar with the book, it describes society where ‘fireman’ search out and burn books.

And why?

It was felt that books and learning in general created inequality and unhappiness, and so books were banned and burned.

In the book, in a speech about why firemen burn books, Bradbury reveals that it was the people that originally decided that the books should be removed.

Who needed the problems caused by books?

For myself, that 29% of people who identify themselves as readers in a poll, did not express that they were opposed to efforts to remove books from their local public libraries … well … beyond the words that I have available to me.

5.5.2022 – tiresome for children

tiresome for children
always, forever, have to
explain to grown ups

Les grandes personnes ne comprennent jamais rien toutes seules, et c’est fatigant, pour les enfants, de toujours et toujours leur donner des explications.

Antoine de Saint-Exupèry in the ‘Le Petit Prince’ (1943).

In English:

Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.

Jaxon was not happy that I could not understand that if he, Jaxon, could handle the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, he could easily handle the May River.

Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee whiz.

5.4.2022 – enhanced use of force

enhanced use of force
deescalation training
so who but the Lord

Deadly force “is always the last resort” and that philosophy, as well as de-escalation training, needs to be ingrained into the department’s policies, Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom told The Detroit News Tuesday.

So starts an article in the Detroit News with the headline, “Grand Rapids police need enhanced use of force, de-escalation training, chief says” by Leonard N. Fleming.

The words, enhanced use of force, de-escalation training, strung together in a line, the syllables clicking in a row like the sound of the wheels of a train over gaps in the tracks, grabbed and held my attention.

The article details the efforts of the Police Chief of Grand Rapids, Michigan (where I grew up) to address publicly the death of Patrick Lyoya, 26, who was shot in the back of the head by officer Christopher Schurr on April 4 following a tussle on the ground … after a traffic stop.

Mr. Fleming quotes the Chief as saying, “From what I’m hearing from the community, a real vocal part of the community is there’s no rebuilding trust. You’ve got to build it because it was never there.

Chief Winstrom said that on April 26th, 2022.

In 1947, in the magazine, Poetry, Langston Hughes published this poem.

I looked and I saw
That man they call the Law.
He was coming
Down the street at me!
I had visions in my head
Of being laid out cold and dead,
Or else murdered
By the third degree.

I said, O, Lord, if you can,
Save me from that man!
Don’t let him make a pulp out of me!
But the Lord he was not quick.
The Law raised up his stick
And beat the living hell
Out of me!

Now, I do not understand
Why God don’t protect a man
From police brutality.
Being poor and black,
I’ve no weapon to strike back
So who but the Lord
Can protect me?

We’ll see.

The title of the poem is ‘Who but the Lord?

A footnote in the “The collected poems of Langston Hughes” (Knopf, 1994) says that the last line was added when the poem was reprinted in the book, The Panther and the Lash.

That was in 1967.

That last line again?

We’ll see.

I gots no real standing as a social critic so I will take refuge (hide) under the cover of saying I am only a social commentator.

I just hold up the mirror and you can see what you want to see.

The Rev. Al once said something along the lines of, “You can use a mirror to reflect yourself or you can use a mirror to correct yourself.”

You’ve got to build trust because it was never there.

We’ll see.

5.3.2022 – sustaining the change

sustaining the change
not tax on the many poor
but the wealthy few

In a letter written from Vandalia (Illinois) dated, March 2, 1839 to a Mr. William S. Wait, Abraham Lincoln, then 30 years old, wrote about proposed legislation in the State that:

That proposition is little less than self-evident. The only question is as to sustaining the change before the people. I believe it can be sustained, because it does not increase the tax upon the “ many poor ” but upon the “wealthy few” by taxing the land that is worth $50 or $100 per acre, in proportion to its value, instead of, as heretofore, no more than that which was worth but $5 per acre. This valuable land, as is well known, belongs, not to the poor, but to the wealthy citizen.

I am not surprised and I AM pleased that Mr. Lincoln saw taxes that way.

I am not surprised either that in a speech two years earlier on the same subject of state finances, Mr. Lincoln said:

. . . this movement is exclusively the work of politicians; a set of men who have interests aside from the interests of the people, and who, to say the most of them, are, taken as a mass, at least one long step removed from honest men. I say this with the greater freedom because, being a politician myself, none can regard it as personal.

Self interested politicians looking to get rich off the poor.

The great American tradition I guess.

5.2.2022 – seen all of the sights

seen all of the sights
it is a little too dark
to see any more

Adapted from a passage from a book I read a long time ago.

It is the final paragraph to the autobiography of one of my favorite authors, Bruce Catton, of Benzonia, Michigan.

After a career of being a Civil War historian and 20 or more books and countless articles on the war picking up a Pulitzer Prize for the writing along the way, Mr. Catton wrote Waiting for the Morning Train – A Michigan Boyhood (1972 – Doubleday).

Writing about the war, Mr. Catton experienced all that this country had to offered at it lowest point and he was also able to maintain an optimistic outlook.

With the poetry of the written paragraph, Mr. Catton closed his auto-biography with this passage.

But you know how it can be, waiting at the junction for the night train. You have seen all of the sights, and it is a little too dark to see any more even if you did miss some, and the waiting room is uncomfortable and the time of waiting is dreary, long-drawn, with a wind from the cold north whipping curls of fog past the green lamps on the switch stands. Finally, far away yet not so far really, the train can be heard; the doctor (or station agent) hears it first, but finally you hear it yourself and you go to the platform to get on. And there is the headlight, shining far down the track, glinting off the steel rails that, like all parallel lines, will meet in infinity, which is after all where this train is going. And there by the steps of the sleeping car is the Pullman conductor, checking off his list. He has your reservation, and he tells you that your berth is all ready for you. And then, he adds the final assurance as you go down the aisle to the curtained bed: “I’ll call you in plenty of time in the morning.”

The final assurance as you go down the aisle to the curtained bed: “I’ll call you in plenty of time in the morning.”

5.1.2022 – go down to the edge

go down to the edge
of the sea – how everything shines
in the morning light

Based on the poem, Breakage, by Mary Oliver.

Thank you to my sister Lisa, to telling me about Ms. Oliver.

Here is the poem.

Breakage by Mary Oliver.

I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
full of moonlight.

Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

go down to the edge
of the sea – How everything shines
in the morning light

It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words, thousands of words
First you figure out what each one means by itsel

– – – – – – –

Readers of this blog may remember that from time to time I struggle with the weight of effort of producing a daily Haiku and any thoughts I may have about the words and time that went in the Haiku that day.

This daily schedule of missing a day can bring on a personal mental paralysis wherein writing these entries becomes impossible.

I learned to deal with this by not dealing with it and let it go.

Then when I look at my register of entries and see blank days with no post, I will grab a topic or book or poem for a source and produce a series of Haiku to fill in those blank dates.

This is one of the great benefits of this effort being my blog and my blog, my rules.

It IS cricket because I say it is.

It is ‘according to Hoyle’ because I say it is.

Thus I have this series of haiku based on the poem ‘Breakage’ by Mary Oliver.

4.29.2022 – good bad that’s ugly

good bad that’s ugly
quest for anonymity
labeled by the world

So much anger.

So much frustration.

We’re tired of being cooped up, tired of being careful, tired of being scared. Our collective fatigue is making some people careless –

However, facing this fatigue is important for our personal health and for beating the coronavirus that has shaken American life so completely. Many people understand this, which adds to their exhaustion and stress.

“This is a real challenge,” said Kaye Hermanson, UC Davis Health psychologist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “There are no easy solutions.”

This is a real challenge!

There are no easy solutions.

I just want to hide.

I crave anonymity.

So I go one facebook.

Thats good?

Thats bad?

Well.

It sure is ugly.

4.28.2022 – I take the deep breath

I take the deep breath
how unlikely that death is
a hole in the ground

Based on the poem, Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond, by Mary Oliver.

Again, a big thank you to my sister Lisa, to telling me about Ms. Oliver.

Feel free to touch base and tell me what to read.

For me, herons, seeing a heron, has been and still is a harbinger of good fortune, a good omen.

Not that you saw herons all that often in West Michigan where I grew up but maybe that was part of it.

And not that I really believe in good omens but more in line that seeing one made me feel that, surely, this wasn’t as black a world as I made it out to be.

And I have had enough Latin and roman history to not think about omens and not smile inwardly.

It is in the movie Spartacus that Roman Senator Sempronius Gracchus, played by Charles Laughton, walks out of the Senate and buys a pigeon saying “Let’s make a good old-fashioned sacrifice.

Still I cannot see a heron and somehow, not feel better.

I also cannot see a heron that I do not think of the time that Doug, my college roommate, and I were driving back to Ann Arbor, Michigan on I-96 and a heron dove out of the sky and swooped low, just above the median between the two sides of the freeway in a glide..

As I remember it, we were going about 60 miles an hour.

This was way back in the ‘Drive 55’ era and it took forever to get to Ann Arbor.

The heron passed us.

Here is the poem.

Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond by Mary Oliver.

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

– – – – – – –

Readers of this blog may remember that from time to time I struggle with the weight of effort of producing a daily Haiku and any thoughts I may have about the words and time that went in the Haiku that day.

This daily schedule of missing a day can bring on a personal mental paralysis wherein writing these entries becomes impossible.

I learned to deal with this by not dealing with it and let it go.

Then when I look at my register of entries and see blank days with no post, I will grab a topic or book or poem for a source and produce a series of Haiku to fill in those blank dates.

This is one of the great benefits of this effort being my blog and my blog, my rules.

It IS cricket because I say it is.

It is ‘according to Hoyle’ because I say it is.

Thus I have this series of haiku based on the poem ‘Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond‘ by Mary Oliver.

4.27.2022 – yesterday, I saw

yesterday, I saw
man who wasn’t me – there I
was again today

Inspired by the poem, Antigonish”.

Which is, according to wikipedia, an 1899 poem by the American educator and poet, William Hughes Mearns. It is also known as “The Little Man Who Wasn’t There” and was adapted as a hit song under the latter title.

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there!
He wasn’t there again today,
Oh how I wish he’d go away!

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…

Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…

I was flipping through facebook today, checking on the posts that the folks at work have made to the company facebook page where I work and I saw a photo of two co workers who had taken part in last weeks dolphin count.

I looked at the photo and thought it was interesting as the young lady looked familiar but not the guy in the photo.

I looked again and thought that the hat the guy was wearing looked real familiar.

I looked again and thought that the binoculars the guy was holding looked real familiar.

Then I realized.

I was the guy!

When I was in third grade, as readers of this blog will know, I had an ‘interesting’ relationship with my third grade teacher.

Suffice it to say I don’t know that if an angel were sitting on my shoulder, she would have believed anything I told her.

When I started complaining I couldn’t see the chalkboard in front of my face she felt I was being me and fought back.

First she moved my desk up to a row in front of the first row so I sat by myself about 5 feet from the chalkboard.

That worked for a bit but I soon started telling I couldn’t see that ol’ chalkboard anymore.

She countered by handing me the lessons for the day from her notebook where she had her sentences and spelling words and such written out long hand.

She literally tore the pages out and slammed them on my desk in front of me.

I looked at the pages for a second then said, “I can’t read cursive.”

And it was off to the office and my reserved chair.

She also called my Mom to say I was at it again.

By again, she meant, for example, I had watched the Davy Crockett series on the Walt Disney show.

And Davy, well, he said he never was in a problem that he couldn’t grin his way out of it.

The show opened when Davy was off in the brush trying to ‘grin’ a ‘baaaare’ down a tree.

Taking the words of this great American hero to heart, I tried to grin at my teacher when I got in trouble.

She called my Mom and told her whenever I got a talking too, I just made faces at her.

I also once asked to have my desk moved so I could sit with my back to the wall.

When she asked why, I said so no one could shoot me in the back.

When she asked where in the world did I come up with that idea, I said from the “Life of Wild Bill Hickok” in the school library.

When we talked, she often just sat at her desk staring down for some reason.

So she calls my Mom and says my latest thing was to claim I couldn’t see the chalkboard.

That BIG GREEN BOARD that ran the length of the room.

I don’t know what my Mom said to her but she made an appointment of her own and two weeks later, I walked into class wearing my first pair of glasses.

Hey, I said, I can see the the chalkboard!

My teacher looked and me and burst into tears.

Since that time I don’t know that I have seen more than a hand full of photos of myself without my glasses.

Since the only time I do see myself is in the mirror, that feller who is a mirror reverse of that image of what I look like in my mind is not someone I recognize.

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…

4.26.2022 – barnacle scarred

barnacle scarred
nothing at all whole or shut
but tattered split

Based on the poem, Breakage, by Mary Oliver.

Thank you to my sister Lisa, to telling me about Ms. Oliver.

Here is the poem.

Breakage by Mary Oliver.

I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
full of moonlight.

Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

go down to the edge
of the sea – How everything shines
in the morning light

It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words, thousands of words
First you figure out what each one means by itsel

– – – – – – –

Readers of this blog may remember that from time to time I struggle with the weight of effort of producing a daily Haiku and any thoughts I may have about the words and time that went in the Haiku that day.

This daily schedule of missing a day can bring on a personal mental paralysis wherein writing these entries becomes impossible.

I learned to deal with this by not dealing with it and let it go.

Then when I look at my register of entries and see blank days with no post, I will grab a topic or book or poem for a source and produce a series of Haiku to fill in those blank dates.

This is one of the great benefits of this effort being my blog and my blog, my rules.

It IS cricket because I say it is.

It is ‘according to Hoyle’ because I say it is.

Thus I have this series of haiku based on the poem ‘Breakage’ by Mary Oliver.