11.11.2022 – poignant misery

poignant misery
dawn begins clouds sag stormy
but nothing happens

Start a new day and every part screams that it is NOT SUPPOSDED TO BE THIS WAY.

Start a new day and hope for a new beginning.

Start a new day and all that is wanted is to have what WAS before today to be what IS before today.

The poignant misery when the new day starts and dawn begins and clouds sag stormy.

The new day arrives and is a new day.

But nothing happens.

The haiku is adapted from the World War One, or the Great War as it is called elsewhere, poem, Exposure, by Wilfred Owen.

From the third stanza that goes:

The poignant misery of dawn begins to grow . . .
We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy.
Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army
Attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of grey,
But nothing happens.

Appropriate for Veteran’s Day, or Armistice Day as it is called elsewhere, and for many other reasons.

11.10.2022 – cousin cara lee

cousin cara lee
likes but not always agrees
and that is okay!

I recently ran into my cousin Cara Lee.

While it is hard to catch up in 10 minutes with someone you haven’t talked to in almost 10 years, we did our best.

With all we had to talk about, my dear cousin did mention that she likes reading my haiku and my commentary.

Then she looked off to one side and made a sideways smile and said she doesn’t always agree with my commentary but there it is.

Which I thought was really funny.

I appreciate that I have a small but, mostly, loving audience.

I appreciate it, but with all there is to read out there, I am not sure I understand it.

If I ever want to stop writing for a couple of days all I have to do to imagine folks reading these posts.

If my haiku can find some common cause with the reader, I am thrilled.

If a reader takes the time to read what I write in commentary, I am more than thrilled.

If a reader take to the time to read what I write in commentary and think about it enough to agree to disagree, I am stunned.

I admit I am pretty much coming from deep out in left field with what I write and I encourage any discourse.

But if I can get readers to think or look at a question and consider another side to it or to just flat out disagree with me, I think that’s great.

I invite any and all readers to let me know your thoughts.

The reason why I ran into my cousin Cara Lee and several other cousins wasn’t good but it was wonderful to touch base with so much of my family.

And it was surprising to hear so many comments about my haiku.

Surprising and great!

Thank you all.

11.9.2022 – civic value of

civic value of
ideological
diversity schools

On August 13, 2020, the great Sarah Vowell wrote an the opinion piece titled: Joe Biden and the Great Leaders of 2020 Are Part of a Club, and sub headed, They’re the graduates of public universities, and they’ve stepped into the void of presidential leadership.

Ms. Vowell wrote:

The inherent civic value of public universities in this quarreling country of strangers is ideological diversity.

For instance, like my Republican senator Steve Daines, I graduated from Montana State University, and I think it speaks well of the healthy variety of political views that are represented on that campus that I very much hope he will have a lot more time to ski next year.

Public universities are one of two major American institutions, the other being the U.S. military, where large quantities of random adults are thrown together and made to coexist for years on end:

the budget-minded,

the lightly parented,

the formerly incarcerated,

the downsized,

the underestimated,

veterans,

refugees,

late bloomers,

single moms,

divorced dads,

Bible thumpers,

empty nesters,

your swankier hicks,

Mormons who didn’t get into Brigham Young University

and a hodgepodge of souls who are working toward what is incidentally at the heart of every election:

a fair chance at a decent life.

University.

Uni.

Union.

A more perfect Union.

E Pluribus Unum.

One out of many.

One out of many hoping for a fair chance at a decent life.

The inherent civic value of public universities in this quarreling country of strangers is ideological diversity.

I couldn’t agree more.

11.8.2022 – tropical storm

tropical storm
tornado watch drive over
bridge to the island

I can’t say that driving over a very high bridge to an island while there was both a tropical storm warning and a tornado watch was on my bucket list of things to do before I die but that is because I don’t have bucket list.

It is an interesting concept of compiling a list of things you want to or feel you have to accomplish or do or see before die to make sure your life is complete.

If I made a list I am not sure what might be on it.

There are a lot of things that might be ‘nice’ to do but …

I am reminded of a passage from the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.

It is a book and later, a movie, about life in Savannah.

In the book, the author asks a friend, ‘Don’t you feel cutoff?’ and she replied:

Cut off from what?

No, on the whole I’d say we rather enjoy our separateness.

Whether that’s good or bad I haven’t any idea. Manufacturers tell us they like to test-market their products in Savannah – toothpastes and detergents and the like – because Savannah is utterly impervious to outside influence.

Not that people haven’t tried to influence us!

Good Lord, they try all the time.

People come here’ from all over the country and fall in love with Savannah.

Then they move here and pretty soon they’re telling us how much more lively and prosperous Savannah could be if we only knew what we had and how to take advantage of it.

I call these people ‘Gucci carpetbaggers.’

They can be rather insistent, you know.

Even rude.

We smile pleasantly and we nod, but we don’t budge an inch.

Cities all around us are booming urban centers: Charleston, Atlanta, Jacksonville – but not Savannah.

The Prudential Insurance people wanted to locate their regional headquarters here in the nineteen-fifties.

It would have created thousands of jobs and made Savannah an important center of a nice, profitable, non- polluting industry.

But we said no.

Too big.

They gave it to Jacksonville instead.

In the nineteen-seventies, Gian Carlo Menotti considered making Savannah the permanent home for his Spoleto U.S.A. Festival.

Again, we were not interested.

So Charleston got it.

It’s not that we’re trying to be difficult.

We just happen to like things exactly the way they are!

I didn’t plan on driving over a high bridge during a tropical storm during a tornado watch.

I didn’t ever think about what it would be like or even something worth experiencing.

I don’t know that think much about driving over the bridge.

It wasn’t on my list.

I don’t have a list.

I certainly am not commenting on anyone who has a list or more exact, a bucket list.

I am not trying to be difficult.

Maybe I just happen to like things exactly as they are.

11.7.2022 – no two countries with

no two countries with
McDonald’s will go to war
with each other

Thomas Friedman believed countries that were tightly woven into an economic network would forgo starting wars, for fear of losing access to the humming network.

Friedman lightheartedly expressed this in 1996 as the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention: no two countries with McDonald’s will go to war with each other.

And he wasn’t far off.

Although there have been a handful of conflicts between McDonald’s-having countries, an individual’s chance of dying in a war between states has diminished remarkably since the cold war.

According to wikipedia, Friedman supported that observation, as a theory, by stating that when a country has reached an economic development where it has a middle class strong enough to support a McDonald’s network, it would become a “McDonald’s country”, and will not be interested in fighting wars anymore.

I always thought it was about the hamburgers.

When I was a kid, Mickey D’s burgers were 15 cents so for an hours worth of work at $1.25 an hour, you could get 7 to 8 hamburgers.

Today in South Carolina, minimum wage is $7.25 and the burgers are $1 and you can get 7 hamburgers.

I leave it to you to make up your mind.

11.5.2022 – then ate flavors so

then ate flavors so
direct every annoyance
just melted away

when you are eating
something like that, then there
are no bad tables

Adapted from the restaurant review, Claud, a Basement Dining Room With Much Higher Aims, by Pete Wells who wrote:

Then I ate. The flavors were so direct, the point of each dish so lucid, that every minor annoyance melted away.

The dish listed on the menu as “Red shrimp, garlic, olive oil” turned out to be a version of Spanish gambas al ajillo that cooked itself. The shrimp had been raw moments earlier, and they hissed in the hot oil that came halfway to the lip of a small cast-iron skillet as their creamy pink flesh turned to bright coral. Once they were gone, I had pieces of good sourdough to dip into the oil, which now tasted of the garlic clove and dried chile that had been shimmying in there all along. When you’re eating something like that, there are no bad tables. And “something like that” applies to almost everything Claud serves.

I want to write:

Then I read. The words were so direct that the flavors were so direct, the point of each dish so lucid, that every minor annoyance melted away.

The words described a dish listed on the menu as “Red shrimp, garlic, olive oil” turned out to be a version of Spanish gambas al ajillo that cooked itself.

The words described shrimp had been raw moments earlier, and they hissed in the hot oil that came halfway to the lip of a small cast-iron skillet as their creamy pink flesh turned to bright coral.

Once the words were gone, I had pieces of good sourdough in my brain to dip into the oil, which now tasted of the garlic clove and dried chile that had been shimmying in there all along in my thoughts.

When you’re reading something like that, there are no bad tables.

And “something like that” applies to almost everything Claud serves as described by Mr. Wells.

Mr. Hemingway wrote something once along the lines that if you could write in such a way that what you wrote about became a part of the conscious memory of the reader, then you were, indeed, a writer.

Most likely I will never eat at Claud.

But I can recall the dish on the menu named Red shrimp, garlic, olive oil as if I ate there yesterday.

11.4.2022 – to world’s end I went

to world’s end I went
in my torment and music
dawned above despair

Adapted from the poem, Secret Music, by Siegfried Sassoon as published in Collected Poems, Faber and Faber Limited, London, 1947.

I keep such music in my brain
No din this side of death can quell;
Glory exulting over pain,
And beauty, garlanded in hell.

My dreaming spirit will not heed
The roar of guns that would destroy
My life that on the gloom can read
Proud-surging melodies of joy.

To the world’s end I went, and found
Death in his carnival of glare;
But in my torment I was crowned,
And music dawned above despair.

Mr. Sassoon was a war poet.

A World War One poet.

A British World War One poet.

According to Wikipedia, one of those poets, whose work combined stark realism and bitter irony with a sense of tragic futility.

Stark realism.

Bitter irony.

Sense of tragic futility.

I recently came across of discussion of the World War One poets that included the observation that the sky had a very prominent role across the body of work of these poets.

The point was made that when you are in a trench 15 feet wide and 15 feet deep, the sky is the only thing you see.

It is easy to imagine how such a view, which combined with stark realism and bitter irony with a sense of tragic futility led to the dark poetry of the war.

The view though, did not create those feelings of stark realism and bitter irony with a sense of tragic futility.

I put it out there that neither did the war nor the war in the trenches, create the feelings of stark realism and bitter irony with a sense of tragic futility.

The war experience most likely put those feelings into bright contrast and made them stand out.

I hear though the words of Mr. Thoreau when he wrote that Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.

All those thoughts together, the quiet desperation, the stark realism, the bitter irony with a sense of tragic futility.

Those thoughts and feelings are there.

I have no answers.

And there are no words.

To the world’s end I went, and found
Death in his carnival of glare;
But in my torment I was crowned,
And music dawned above despair.

James Robert Hoffman 1978 – 2022

Please read my Nephews memorial – click here.

11.3.2022 – it’s individuals

it’s individuals
Coach can do so much – day’s end
we’re individuals

but each got to just
dig down deeper – be better
that’s just what it is

This two stanza haiku (my blog, my rules) is based on a quote from NBA Star Kevin Durant and the situation with the Brooklyn Nets in the ESPN article Mounting losses and controversies: How the Brooklyn Nets devolved into chaos in a matter of weeks by Nick Friedell.

The article explains, “Back inside the practice facility — before the tumultuous 2-5 start, before Simmons’ poor play, before the players-only meeting, before the controversy over his superstar teammate’s social media posts about Alex Jones and an antisemitic movie and book — Durant continues to try to shape the narrative of the coming season.

The article ends with the quote.

“It’s on the individuals,” Durant said. “Coach can do so much and tell you what to do, but he’s not playing for us.

I know coaching matters, chemistry matters, but at the end of the day we’re individuals.

So we got to do better as individuals, and then we’ll bring that to the group and figure it out.

But each guy’s got to just dig down deeper and just be better.

That’s just what it is.”

There is a post script to the article.

Editor’s note: The Nets fired coach Steve Nash on Monday, after this story published.

That’s just what it is.

11.2.2022 – do not come to the

do not come to the
streets he said, today is the
last day of riots

Quoting Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, saying, “Do not come to the streets. Today is the last day of riots.”

From the article:

Iran: Revolutionary Guards chief tells protesters today is last day on streets –
Hossein Salami’s tough language raises fears security forces may be about to intensify crackdown on unrest

“Do not come to the streets. Today is the last day of riots,” commander, Hossein Salami, said in some of the toughest language used in the crisis, which Iran’s clerical leadership blames on its foreign enemies, including Israel and the US.

“This sinister plan, is a plan hatched … in the White House and the Zionist regime,” he said.

The Revolutionary Guards, which report directly to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have not been deployed since demonstrations began on 16 September. They are an elite force with a track record of crushing dissent.

The article also states that: Iran has been gripped by protests since the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, in the custody of the morality police last month, posing one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution.