feeling the train
A pretty thick
That was life
But today things
Today he was six
old and that meant old
guide his blind father
on the streets
The old man was only
a year after some work
related accident involving acid
And there was a mother
somewhere too. She left
Today father held on
to his son’s shirt
at the shoulder and told him
to walk towards the
“I want to listen to
the train,” said father
but it turned out he
more than that. He wanted to
feel the train. Against
So he stood on the rails
and told the kid
to go back home
and return after an hour or so
“Okay,” said the kid. But
he didn’t leave. He watched
from a safe distance
Didn’t even find
event particularly disturbing
Then he went back home
and had some
fruit loops with milk
and his first taste of
He had become a
December and Our Discontent - An Allusion and Three Quotes
“So I guess this is where I tell you what I learned - my conclusion, right? Well, my conclusion is: Hate is baggage. Life’s too short to be pissed off all the time. It’s just not worth it. Derek says it’s always good to end a paper with a quote. He says someone else has already said it best. So if you can’t top it, steal from them and go out strong. So I picked a guy I thought you’d like...”
My challenge entry is composed almost entirely of quotes from others who have said it better than I could. That first one is from the end of the disturbing 1998 film exploring white supremacy in America, American History X (Directed by Tony Kaye and starring Edward Norton). The words are spoken by the character, and narrator, Danny Vinyard. I’ll complete that quote in a minute, but here is the best summary in song of my feelings about the Christmas Holiday - thank you, Jackson Browne for releasing this in 1991, on your album with the Chieftains - The Bells of Dublin.
The Rebel Jesus
All the streets are filled with laughter and light
And the music of the season
And the merchants’ windows are all bright
With the faces of the children
And the families hurrying to their homes
As the sky darkens and freezes
Will be gathering around their hearths and tables
Giving thanks for God’s graces
And the birth of the rebel Jesus
They call him by the “Prince Of Peace”
And they call him by “The Saviour”
And they pray to him upon the sea
And in every bold endeavour
And they fill his churches with their pride and gold
As their faith in him increases
But they’ve turned the nature that I worship in
From a temple to a robber’s den
In the words of the rebel Jesus
We guard our world with locks and guns
And we guard our fine possessions
And once a year when Christmas comes
We give to our relations
And perhaps we give a little to the poor
If the generosity should seize us
But if anyone of us should interfere
In the business of why there are poor
They get the same as the rebel Jesus
But pardon me if I have seemed
To take the tone of judgement
For I’ve no wish to come between
This day and your enjoyment
In a life of hardship and of earthly toil
There’s a need for anything that frees us
So I bid you pleasure and I bid you cheer
From a heathen and a pagan
On the side of the rebel Jesus
If cinema and song aren’t your genres, here’s my favorite for December from the world of non-fiction - this is from Martin Luther King Jr’s last book, written in 1967, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?
“The assistant director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Hyman Bookbinder, in a frank statement on December 29, 1966, declared that the long-range costs of adequately implementing programs to fight poverty, ignorance and slums will reach one trillion dollars. He was not awed or dismayed by this prospect but instead pointed out that the growth of the gross national product during the same period makes this expenditure comfortably possible. It is, he said, as simple as this: ‘The poor can stop being poor if the rich are willing to become even richer at a slower rate.’ Furthermore, he predicted that unless a ‘substantial sacrifice is made by the American people,’ the nation can expect further deterioration of the cities, increased antagonisms between races and continued disorders in the streets. He asserted that people are not informed enough to give adequate support to antipoverty programs, and he leveled a share of the blame at the government because it ‘must do more to get people to understand the size of the problem.’”
Danny Vinyard, same movie, same breath as the earlier quote I used from his character, continues with a paraphrase of the words of Abraham Lincoln, from Lincoln’s first inaugural address in 1861:
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory... will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Putting quote in quote may never lead us to put hand in hand, but then again, it might.
I like to remind my Christian friends that in their tradition Hope and Joy arrived as an infant needing care and feeding - I think that’s a pretty accurate metaphor about hope and joy in general.
Here’s to us, figuring it out, together. The nights are already getting shorter, and the days are longer and brighter.
drowning ouroboros // the wake of the end
this is the last sunset humanity will ever witness,
it is because of that we weep at the glow
and wonder why we never loved it before.
in these last reckless moments,
we indulge in our sweetest wishes,
let our mouths become bloody on the tenderness of others.
like stars, we seek each other out,
outstretched hands meeting in new supernovas--
in our end is our beginning:
Ourouboros, the snake in endless agony,
we follow in its wake
love is giving, is consumption.
the newscaster cries on live TV two hours before
the station shuts down forever.
“Whoever you are,” they say, “I love you. Please don’t be afraid.”
they don’t show the weather because we all know what’s coming:
heavy storm clouds appear in the night,
stretch the darkness out into eternity.
it’s not all bad, not all petrifying.
I find you in the wreckage of humanity;
the comfort of your arms is sweeter than the waters Lethe.
with our doom hanging overhead,
humanity finds its greatest joy:
and isn’t that something?
to look death in the eyes
in our last moments and say
“You made me learn happiness.
You made me love more than
I thought possible.”
what is temporary is irreplaceable.
it’s why we hold onto each other as
drowning, desperate things.
we’re all just victims of another flood myth--
clinging to the raft with bloodied fingers
clinging to another with bloodied lips
the worst part is that we did this to ourselves.
only in the end can we see what could have been,
the joys we could have held
and you tell me that time together is sweeter
no matter the circumstance,
that the end of the world is the beginning of another.
what comes after this?
another world, babe, another us.
I will not deny it - I knew it was love when she finished her fries, licked her fingers, and said, “My safe word is Miracle Whip - are you getting the check, or am I?”
Twenty years later, we snuggle and laugh as the outtakes of Melissa McCarthy and her husband roll during the credits of “Bridesmaids.” I’m not saying I’m into food sex all that much, but when I say, “Make me a sandwhich, please.” my wife sternly, gleefully, takes my hand - and she leads me to the bedroom, not the kitchen.