7.30.2020 – I dream a world where

I dream a world where
joy attends the needs of all
A world I dream where

From the poem, I Dream a World by Langston Hughes.

The poem was included in UNCOLLECTED POEMS in the 1941-1950 Collected Works of Langston Hughes, Vol2, University of Missouri Press, 2001.

Quoted today by teacher James Lawson at the Funeral of John Robert Lewis.

As President Barack Obama said in his remarks at the funeral, the work goes on.

The testing of his faith, proved his perservernece.

President Obama said that John Lewis, “Believed in us even when we no longer believe in us.”

I Dream A World

Langston Hughes

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world
!

7.29.2020 – night of summer stars

night of summer stars
low, near, lazy in the sky
sky of summer stars

Walking at night in the warm dark of summer in Georgia is something you to cannot explain to people up north.

I remember our first 4th of July fireworks down here and realizing it was near midnight and I was still in a T shirt and shorts.

No sweatshirt.

No hoodie.

No long pants.

Up north in Michigan, I was lucky to go out at night and not end up wanting a coat.

Jim Harrison in the Brown Dog novellas writes about a summer in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan without tourists.

It was so cold that people went to the 4th of July fireworks in snowmobile suits and watched the rockets red glare through snow flurries.

Walking in the warm dark of the Georgia night.

Stars so fat and close.

No big names but the North Star and the Big Dipper, maybe Booters, but so many stars without names.

Warm and lazy stars of summer time.

Maybe global warming will bring this Michigan.

Maybe that might bring me back.

Summer Stars
by
Carl Sandburg in Smoke and Steel (Harcourt, 1920).

Bend low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strumming.

7.19.2020 – Lay down the burden

Lay down the burden
of hate. Hate is too heavy
a burden to bear.

We are one people with one family.

We all live in the same house, the American house.

… and through books, through information, we must find a way to say to people that we must lay down the burden of hate.

For hate is too heavy a burden to bear.

John Lewis (quoting Dr ML King, Jr.)

7.11.2020 – everything I got

everything I got
is done and pawned, everything
I got , done and pawned

From the song Shake Sugaree by Elizabeth Cotten.

Have a little song
Won’t take long
Sing it right
Once or twice
Oh, lordy me
Didn’t I shake sugaree?
Everything I got is done and pawned
Everything I got is done and pawned

Elizabeth Cotten was left handed.

She played the guitar upside down.

I am on vacation this weekend.

I live in Georgia so I can travel within my state and still go the the coast.

Somehow, things still get done.

6.14.2020 – God’s curiosity

God’s curiosity
about Himself resulted
in what we call us

Last night my wife and I watched the protests in Downtown Atlanta of another police shooting of a black man.

Protesters had managed to line up across a stretch of one of the busiest freeway in United States.

A Wendy’s Restaurant where the shooting took place went up in flames.

Rather than turning up the volume on the protest, my friend and reporter for 11Alive Doug Richards, who was on the scene, said that the fire more of less was freaking out the protesters and they ran for cover.

Talking with my wife as the next day, she asked me, why did God create these differences?

These differences in skin color and size and language.

“Was it to test us?”, she asked.

I was quick to say yes.

God wanted to see how we might handle these differences.

God wanted to see if we would react with fear or confidence.

My wife pointed out that the problems went back, all the way back.

Before the Tower of Babel.

What differences where there, on the surface, between Caine and Able.

Yet Caine hated Abel.

So God knew how we would handle the differences if skin color and language and how to serve food and sing songs.

Not well and God knew it.

So why?

In my reading today, my interest was sparked by the comment about another author, that he wanted to live long enough (this was an old comment) so that Thomas Mann could finish the last book of Joseph and His Brothers.

I don’t know anything about this book except that it has been selected as my summer time read.

I did find this one quote though that intrigued.

“Man, then was a result of God’s curiosity about Himself”, wrote Mr. Mann.

Maybe that is the reason for all the differences.

God creates man.

God creates forgiveness.

God creates salvation.

Maybe God was curious if these new creations had limits.

Maybe God saw the easiest way to test these new creations was to add to man easy avenues to differences.

Would man react with fear or confidence.

And would the new creations be sufficient for these reaction’s.

I am not dumb enough to say this is the answer.

I am willing to consider it.

And I am willing to put forward a possible response by God.

I am reminded of an anecdote told by the veteran actor of film and stage, Rex Harrison.

Mr. Harrison was on Johnny Carson or maybe an the old Dick Cavett show, but he told a story of how he was in London, rehearsing a play by George Bernard Shaw.

Sorry to say I cannot recall or Mr. Harrison did not name the play.

ANYWAY, Mr. Harrison and the other cast members were having problems with one scene.

The could not, they felt, get it right.

What was the Mr. Shaw after the cast wondered?

No one could agree on anything except that whatever they were trying to do just did not work on stage.

Then, wonder of wonder, George Bernard Shaw himself came by to watch the rehearsal.

Mr. Harrison and the cast called to him and brought him up on stage.

WHAT DID YOU MEAN and WHERE WERE YOU GOING in this scene, they asked.

Mr. Shaw took a copy of the script and sat down to read.

He read through a few pages.

He turned the script back and read through a few pages.

He turned the script back again and read through a few pages.

Mr. Shaw looked up at the cast, cleared his throat and said, “This really is bad isn’t it?”

I like to think God knew what he was doing from square one.

I like to think that for God, there are no surprises.

I would not, anyway, be surprised if God was curious, as if in a lab experiment, about his latest creation.

I would not be surprised if God decided to give to curiosity and create man.

I for one, have no problem, letting God be God and do what he wants.

And I would not be surprised if God admitted that the results, how we handled or behaved or lived with, his new creation, seems to be turning out really bad, isn’t it?

6.12.2020 – just quiet enough

just quiet enough
to hear fireflies over the roar
made to keep me cool

I just read a note from my brother Jack.

Jack told how a new member of their neighborhood went into battle against his lawn with more equipment then Eisenhower landed at D-Day.

Jack recounted that while the neighborhood was assaulted with the roar of lawn care equipment, the new neighbor attacking his lawn, wore ear plugs.

This amount of noise for this amount of result was too much.

Should something be said?

Jack posed the question of what to do.

I understood.

Somehow George Washington created the first great lawn in America without a weed eater.

I have daydreamed about starting a lawn care company that used only non-powered tools

A lawn care company that would market commercials showing the “loud company” and sound of Boeing 747s taking off or just powered lawn care equipment and then go to my company and clip clip clip of on old fashioned hedge trimmer

The commercials would end with the tagline, “The Quiet Company,”

Then I felt sorry for the new neighbor.

What private hell must his work life be that in order to exhibit some measure of control in his life, he took on the theory and practice of the well kept yard, 21st century style.

Then I shook my head over the fact that anyone would try to control and manicure nature.

Mankind can keep nature at arms length for a while maybe.

When I was commuting into downtown Atlanta, I knew where to spot a sapling that was growing in an expansion joint of an I85 overpass.

It looked to be growing in solid concrete.

Yet it was there every year and every year a little bigger.

I used to own a house that had a back yard of Georgia forest.

When we moved in I attacked the back year with mowers, machetes, chain saws and axes.

My plan was to drive the trees and bracken back and have a real backyard.

I took out about about 20 trees.

Forest management is a fun and un-complicated way to really mess up your life.

Just the words “chain saw” should have mandatory warnings attached.

I mowed over stumps and small trees.

I burned and slashed.

I brought daylight into the forest in one summer.

The next spring, the forest reacted to all the new available sunshine and it exploded right back at me.

Growing up in Michigan, I thought I was an expert on poison ivy.

Down here I chopped poison ivy vines as thick as my wrist .

Over five years I reached a level of rapprochement with nature and we settled on a DMZ of about 15 feet behind the house.

Not sure what has happened since we left but my money is on Nature.

Next to keeping Nature under control, the effort to keep Nature’s heat under control is another effort with the questionable result of being cooler for the price of lots and lots of noise.

I remember a summer family trip to Wisconsin, we had checked into a hotel somewhere about halfway to my Uncle Jim’s summer cabin.

We were, probably about 11 or 12 of us, exploring the 2 hotel rooms and arguing over the folding beds when my brother Jack said, “Let’s go out on the balcony and listen to the roar of the air conditioner.”

I was all for it.

And when we filed out onto the balcony that overlooked the hotel parking lot and fenced in mechanical equipment, we were greeted with the wonderful roar of the hotel’s mighty HVAC system,

I was enthralled.

I was about 10.

I was a lot older before I figured out that Jack was being sarcastic.

I remember reading an essay once by a feller who wrote about the most wonderful sound in winter.

It was the sound an automatic coal basket made when it dropped fresh coal on the furnace fire in the middle of the night.

I knew just what the feller meant.

But for me, it was air conditioning.

To be sure we grew up with a Dad who loved air conditioning.

Dad had two temp settings for the A/C.

Off and FULL BLAST.

Whether at work, at home or in the car.

FULL BLAST.

A family summer trip riding in the front seat of the car with Dad was the coldest winter feeling I ever knew.

5 minutes was nice.

10 minutes was enough.

15 minutes you were numb.

20 minutes it was aching cold and agony and I had to pee so bad I thought I was going explode.

BUT THE sound.

The sound of air conditioning warms my heart and cools my soul.

We recently moved into an apartment.

We have a small ground floor porch that looks out over a forest.

For any apartment complex, any where, it is not too bad.

Of course just down from our porch are the air conditioning units for the building.

Out of sight, just over the hill to our left, about 1 mile away, is I85.

I hear the roar of the AC.

I feel the hum of the expressway.

I sit in a rocker and watch the dark come on.

I have heard these other sounds so long I don’t hear them.

As the dark gets darker, fireflies start flashing.

For me, over the roar of all the machines that run to keep me cool, I hear the fireflies.

It’s a nice spot.

The quiet.

Then without warning, there were kid’s screams,

But the kind of screams kids make when they are having the best time while being scared to death.

Two little boys ran past our porch.

Two little boys who had never seen lightning bugs, as my grand daughter told me to say in place of fireflies, before.

What I would give to be able to remember my first sighting of lighting bugs.

I envy my wife.

My wife had never seen the movie Casablanca.

When Bogart refused to get on the plane, my wife was surprised.

Me?

I cannot recall a time in my life when I didn’t know how Casablanca ended.

What’s it like to see for the first time.

What’s it like to see lighting bugs for the first time.

The boys ran around trying to catch them.

GOT ONE!

Did it bite?

Then the boys were gone.

The lightning bugs stayed around.

For the first time in my life one of them flew onto the porch and stopped about a foot from my face.

It blinked a few times and flew away.

I would have screamed like those boys if I could have got away it.

A quiet night in Georgia.

Listening to the lightning bugs and the roar of the A/C.

I sat back and I rocked in the twilight.

I wonder what my brother will do.

B

6.10.2020 – Iced tea? Sweet Tea!

Iced tea? Sweet Tea!
Drinking Champagne of the South
Glass of Summertime

I hit the big time today.

Well, for the Atlanta area anyway.

My friends at Atlanta & Company, seen on 11Alive in Atlanta, asked me about writing a haiku for National Iced Tea Day.

Happy to help, I composed and sent off two possibilities.

The one that was not chosen read:

glass of tea on ice
summertime to sip slowly
the taste of sunshine

The other was today’s haiku.

It was read ON AIR today so hopefully nearly six million people heard my haiku.

At least the potential was there to be heard by six million people.

Back in the day old Braniff Airlines launched their The Flying Colors of the United States’ and had three planes painted by Alexander Calder.

At one time it was decided that these planes were the most viewed works of art in the history of the world.

That included anyone who happened to be in New York City when one of these jets flew overheard, I guess.

They might not have noticed the paint job, BUT the potential was there.

Neither here nor there but I understand the plane painted red, white and blue and dedicated by Betty Ford as a bicentennial event back in 1975 was blown up in making the movie, Bad Boys.

So much for flying art.

So the 6 million people of Atlanta had the chance to hear one of my haikus.

How cool is that?

Was I disappointed that my friend Christine did not recite the poem?

To be honest?

Well ….

YES!

I love Trent, don’t get me wrong.

But to have Christine reading my Haiku over the airways?

I already have her penciled in for the audio version of, “Live Happy! Go for the Bronze: The collected Haiku’s of James Aaaron.” (My pen name).

But that’s down the road a bit.

Though the hard copy version of the book is #3 in Germany right now.

Thank you all at Atlanta & Company for the moment.

I hope I did not disappoint.

5.27.2020 – our goal is to change

our goal is to change
not sure person having life
torn apart serves that

Black and white is so very black and white.

Here in Atlanta, there was a thought that Ponce de Leon Ave, the street that divided Atlanta into north and south sides, ought to be painted with double lines.

A white line and a black line to show that that was where the two Atlanta’s met.

It was a real line even without the paint.

My office is in a building on on a street named Monroe Drive.

It crosses Ponce de Leon and the street changes its name to Boulevard.

That was because back in the day, white people didn’t live on the same street as black people.

Six blocks down Boulevard from Ponce, then one block east, is the house were Martin Luther King, Jr. was born.

Recently in New York City’s Central Park, a woman who felt threatened by a man, called the police.

The woman was white.

The man was black.

The man commented, “She went racial. There are certain dark societal impulses that she, as a white woman facing in a conflict with a black man, that she thought she could marshal to her advantage.”

The incident sparked accusations of racism and led to the woman getting fired.

Once the racist card comes out, it is all black and white.

You are or you aren’t.

And if you are and its all over social media, it’s all over for you.

Much of this woman’s life is over as she knew it.

DESERVEDLY SO.

It is over in other ways.

Sadly in so many cases, any learning is also over.

Any possible teaching is over.

It was the man in this case who felt this sadness.

In an interview with The New York Times, it was the black man who showed empathy for the woman.

“It’s a little bit of a frenzy, and I am uncomfortable with that,” he said.

“If our goal is to change the underlying factors, I am not sure that this young woman having her life completely torn apart serves that goal.”

If our goal is to change the underlying factors.

If.

IF?

For me it is not a case of WWJD (What Would Jesus Do).

It is a case of WDJD (What DID Jesus Do).

So sad that the word, “if” is even in there.

4.19.2020 – flavors and textures

flavors and textures
spicy hot, tangy sweet, crunch
banh mi on my mind

John Thorne was a foodies before there were foodies.

I guess there always were foodies but there were gastronomes,

As the online dictionary says, one with a serious interest in gastronomy or more simply, a lover of good food.

Mr. Thorne was writing a food blog before there were blogs.

His NEWSLETTER, Simple Cooking, was available by subscription and MAILED out quarterly.

I first heard about Mr. Thorne from reading Jim Harrison.

Harrison wrote in his essay, Consciousness Dining (Smart Magazine, 1989), “But for day-in day-out innovative brilliance and lucid prose, Thorne is my favorite.”

That is good enough for me.

I also appreciate, as Mr. Harrison did, when he wrote about Mr. Thorne, “On a long warm flight from New Orleans, He [Thorne] imagined that the two pounds of Boudin in his suitcase were spoiling, so ate all on his arrival.”

Mr. Harrison calls that ‘timeless wisdom.”

Prompted by Mr. Harrison’s recommendation, I searched out Mr. Thorne’s cookbooks but I never subscribed to his newsletter.

The Thorne Cookbooks, Outlaw Chef, Serious Pig and Pot on the Fire are part of my permanent library, the books that will always move with me no matter how much I downsize and may be on my burn list.

In Pot the Fire, (North Point Press, 2000), I first read about the Vietnamese sandwich, the Banh Mi.

Thorne wrote, “I had no idea what they were. I also had no hesitation in giving on a try. The truth is that I have always had a weakness for anything that comes packaged in a French roll. I bought one, took it out to the car, ate it and went straight back in and bought another. One bite and I knew I was into a good thing.”

(Lucky for you this essay is reproduced in the preview of the Pot on the Fire from Google Books and you can read it by clicking here.)

Just from reading the essay, a craving burrowed in the soul of my appetite and stayed there.

Nagging at me from time to time.

A gustatory longing.

I could feel the crunch of the crust of the French roll.

I could taste the flavors.

I could feel the spicyness.

Just from reading,

But as I was living in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the time, it was a longing that looked doomed to be unfilled.

But the thought of Banh Mi stuck in my mind and if I ever had the chance I was going to try them.

Then through a chain of events I ended up living in Gwinnett County, Georgia.

Take everything you think about when you think about the south and stop thinking it.

Moonlight and magnolia are no longer a part of this part of Georgia.

From 1996 (The Atlanta Olympics) to now, the population of Gwinnett County, (named for Button Gwinnett – one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence) has grown from around 200,000 to just under 1,000,000.

9 out of 10 people in Gwinnett are not from Georgia.

1 out of 4 people in Gwinnett are foreign born.

There is been a lot of impact due to this and nothing is more evident then in the restaurants.

You can get anything and I mean anything you might want to eat.

And I can get Banh Mi.

There are at least 5 Vietnamese restaurants within 5 miles of where I live.

I feel the crunch of the crust of the French roll.

I taste the flavors.

I experience the spiciness.

I can tell you that Mr. Thorne was right.

Banh Mi.

He was on to something good.

3.28.2020 – Where do homeless go

Where do homeless go
to stay home? Hoping, praying
for someone to care?

Every day heartaches grow a little stronger

I can’t stand this pain much longer

I walk in shadows, searching for light

Cold and alone, no comfort in sight

Hoping and praying for someone to care

Always moving and goin’ nowhere

I know I’ve got to find

Some kind of peace of mind

Thank you for dear, sweet Motown.

What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted
Jimmy Ruffin – released on Motown Records’ Soul label in the summer of 1966.

As I walk this land with broken dreams
I have visions of many things
But happiness is just an illusion
Filled with sadness and confusion

What becomes of the broken-hearted
Who had love that’s now departed?
I know I’ve got to find
Some kind of peace of mind
Maybe

The roots of love grow all around
But for me they come a-tumblin’ down
Every day heartaches grow a little stronger

I can’t stand this pain much longer
I walk in shadows searching for light
Cold and alone, no comfort in sight
Hoping and praying for someone to care
Always moving and goin’ nowhere
What becomes of the broken-hearted
Who had love that’s now departed?

I know I’ve got to find
Some kind of peace of mind
Help me

I’m searching, though I don’t succeed
But someone look, there’s a growing need
Oh …

This version by Joan Osborne was recorded with the Funk Brothers for the Standing in the Shadows of Motown Documentary on the Funk Brothers – The unnamed musicians with the most grammy’s in record label history.