Blanket Town

I Spent a cou­ple of Sum­mers work­ing here while in col­lege, and made good mon­ey — enough to live on through the rest of the year. Most of my imme­di­ate and extend­ed fam­i­ly worked here, either a lit­tle bit, or all of their lives. When it was good, it was great, but Amer­i­can fac­to­ries could not keep up with imports from coun­tries with much low­er costs of liv­ing (not to men­tion sweat shops and slave labor).

The work at Bea­con was hard, but it gave its employ­ees a good wage, and a way to raise them­selves and their chil­dren out of pover­ty after the World Wars and the Great Depres­sion. Peo­ple (like my grand­par­ents) left their homes and fam­i­ly farms for the promise of a bet­ter life (or just to help their par­ents). I can­not say I like some of what Bea­con did to Swan­nanoa, at least in ret­ro­spect, because its dom­i­nance kept the town from grow­ing into some­thing sus­tain­able and ulti­mate­ly killed it, but over­all Bea­con Blan­kets made things bet­ter for peo­ple through­out West­ern North Car­oli­na.

In the end, the com­pa­ny and its own­ers, the Owens fam­i­ly, are to be com­mend­ed.

CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO

Scotland — The Highlands…

Jumping for Joy at Salvation Mountain

Last week Eyoälha Baker and my friend David Scheide drove down to the Salton Sea, the city of Niland, CA, Salvation Mountain, Slab City and finally, to East Jesus. It was just amazing.

We Jumped for Joy, did lots of exploring and took lots of pictures.

Here are a few…

Charlottesville, Virginia

I don’t know about any­one else, but the events in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia were a turn­ing point for me. And I just read that they were a turn­ing point for the ACLU as well. I’ve been a mem­ber of the ACLU for most of my adult life, and I have long been a sup­port­er of the ACLU’s posi­tion that free speech was free speech no mat­ter what. At times that was a hard posi­tion to hold, but I felt that we as Amer­i­cans need­ed to hon­or our first amend­ment rights no mat­ter what.

I don’t believe that any­more. Nei­ther does the ACLU, evi­dent­ly. But I have to say that my own per­son­al belief goes quite a bit fur­ther that the ACLU went….

The ACLU says it will no longer defend the rights of free speech for hate groups “that demon­strate with guns,” and that they will now review their defense of free speech by hate groups on an indi­vid­ual basis.

I just can­not do any of it any­more. I can no longer defend the rights of hate groups and hate speech at all, despite my desire to defend first amend­ment rights. I’ve seen too much, and it’s been build­ing for awhile. Char­lottesville was just the clinch­er.

I do not believe the founders of our coun­try, and the framers of our con­sti­tu­tion, ever intend­ed for us to defend peo­ple, or speech, that encour­aged vio­lence toward oth­er groups of Amer­i­cans, encour­aged killing or impris­on­ing oth­er Amer­i­cans or encour­aged deny­ing basic civ­il rights for oth­er Amer­i­cans. Not. At. All.

The pro­test­ers in Char­lottesville didn’t care about free speech. They did not care about defend­ing the rights of all Amer­i­cans. They didn’t care about you or me. In fact, I don’t real­ly think they par­tic­u­lar­ly cared about defend­ing that Con­fed­er­ate stat­ue. I think they were just using it as an excuse to pro­mote their extreme agen­da. And, in doing so, I think they were actu­al­ly tak­ing a posi­tion that dis­agrees with every sin­gle thing our coun­try stands for.

If you’re a doubter, or inclined to be swayed by cable news and radio hosts, just set aside all the news media and the pun­dits. Look at the pho­tos tak­en by peo­ple who were there. Look at the video footage from all the indi­vid­ual cell­phones and tablets that were being held by peo­ple stand­ing there watch­ing what was hap­pen­ing. They all tell the same sto­ry.

These peo­ple, large­ly white men, and most­ly self avowed neo-Nazis, white suprema­cists, white nation­al­ists and klans­men, were march­ing into Char­lottesville like a well equipped army. They came from all over the coun­try to con­verge on Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, and they were car­ry­ing semi-auto­mat­ic weapons, car­ry­ing torch­es, dis­play­ing swastikas, Nazi and Con­fed­er­ate flags, and chant­i­ng things like “unite the right,” “white lives mat­ter,” “blood and soil,” “Jews will not replace us,” and more.

Sor­ry. Not going to stand by and watch this. Not going to try to take the high road and defend their right to free speech. Not going to watch his­to­ry repeat­ed.

RESIST.

Cracked Corn.

1. 

Cracked Corn.

Cracked corn spills out onto the ground.
	Yellow nuggets made mortal 
		by the crush of a miller’s tool.

This is Scratch - 
	Chicken feed!

	That, and a guarantee that tomorrow’s eggs 
will break to a Golden Dawn!

2.

In attendance.

We are waiting here for twilight.
	Waiting...

Treading softly, 
finding seats (and secrets) in silence.

Waiting.
	Hoping for all the world 
that sitting down
	 will not turn the balance of power around.

3.

Memory.

You think I don’t remember, don’t you?
	Think my mind got full,
That it’s got so full of other things
	that I –

Wait a minute!
	Where’d the Sun go?

Who turned the lights down?
	Down to Dream Time, maybe.

Did we ever make this turn together?
	Go down to the dark road.

I think I been down this road before - 
	Maybe alone,
		maybe with you?

I can’t remember sometimes what it felt like 
when we went down it together.
Together. 

Did we?

Where will you be when I get there again?
	 Is it darker in my prayers,
 		or in my dreams.

You think I don’t know.
	Can’t tell.
		Can’t see.

Why is it dark now?
	Where’s the sight of you? The very sight of you!
Surely more than in the dark,
	more in memory than in my dreams.

Dreams!
	Sometimes I can’t remember.
Do they bring back to me
	 or only take you away?

Do they truly take the sadness, 
	or only leave it laying in shadows, 
waiting for the moment 
	when I can’t resist digging deeper than I should!

4. 

The smile does not know sorrow,
	nor understand its lines.
But a single mind expresses both,
	while sacrificing neither.

Here’s my toast to toughness –

Here's My Toast To Toughness.....

1.

Points of View.

I imagine there are points of view less painful. 
	More positive. 
		More sure.

But this one’s mine!

And for all my great desire to turn around and find some other place to look, I cannot...

Because this point of view, 
	this one that’s mine,

           it gets stuck, sometimes,
on the fact that it can imagine more things than I can ever know. 

			that it can dream things that cannot be, 
and that it can need things that I can never have.

Change it? 
	I’d be glad to!

But then who would change the world?

2.

Wrong Road.

I don’t like this road. 
	neither its route, nor its rules. 

I’d like to leave it.
	or maybe just to stop awhile… 
		waste some time along the way.

I’d like to…
	stop worrying about whether the time is there to take,
whether it’s right or not,
		or if it bears investigation.

I don’t like this road. 
	neither its route, nor its rules. 

I’d like to look back on it; 
	maybe even turn around…
		take that exit over there. 

Take it!
	then travel back in time. 

Back –

	To a place or two I knew.

		To a look out point where I paused before.

A place where the view was more to my liking
	 than this stretch I’m traveling now.

3. 

Chaos rains - 
	and the wind begins to gallop!

Loud claps make way for the sounds of dancing.

And all the while, 
	those more suited to silence wait impatiently for a signal 
that there will be nights more calm than this one...

		Where chaos reigns!

4.

Here’s my toast to toughness – 
Made with one dry eye,
and an ice pick!

5.

Distance seeks a reason.
	Sometimes for introspection,
sometimes for speculation,
	or simply for the chance to be alone!

6.

Later Kid, 
	I gotta go.

What? 
	No.
It’s nowhere I been before,
	but no matter.

I’m not afraid, 
	and I gotta go.

See, it’s like this – 

Time’s come. 
	The day’s arrived, so they say.

And I’m as ready as you get, I guess,
	when you know you gotta go.

Never did understand it.
	Nor ever saw a reason for it, 
		truth be told.

It always seemed to me that there ought to be another way - 
	a way to stay…

Another way,
	Another rhyme, or reason…
Another choice for me and mine.

So I gotta go.
	and it seems to me that if I have to go,
the skies should be darker than this.
	the grass a little less green.

And you see that butterfly sitting there on that blackberry briar?
	He ought not be…

 So beautiful.

(Un)Happiness Abounding.

(Un)Happiness Abounding.

1.

Should I break forth in glittered verse
and weave myself a home,
Or turn away from vain attempts
to fade away unknown.

And if the choice is mine to make;
not something to abide.
Then why does it elude me so
no matter how I've tried.

2.

Should Time choose me as consort
then would I make Him pause
to propagate a longer Spring
more suited to my cause!

Yet time has not an eye for me
and much to my disgust
He seeks another's tireless gaze
Her forward march His lust!

And in that whirling passion
He does not stop to see
The wreckage of His carnal haste,
the subtle change in me!

Nor does He see the folly
in Her cyclical embrace
Of tearing down to build again
what I cannot replace!

3.

Let me regain the Mother now.
I'm done with pride and folly.
I long to see Her spread her skirts
`neath Oak and Birch and Holly.

Too long have I enjoyed my reign
now tired of my ambition.
My lofty dreams are all but spent
since first I made sedition.

4.

Bring forth the Mother spurned so long
for time is coming full.
The Wheel has turned now overlong
and slows its forward pull.

5.

Crippled shores try not to think
as they lose their limbs to the sea.
Instead they simply fear the drink
and break the waves with their plea.

6.

Strength of Vision,
Absence of Drive.
Perhaps some Promise
Will help it Survive.

Knowledge of Purpose,
Weakness of Soul.
Perhaps some Talent
Will forward the Goal.

7.

If I look on life,
as I look on life,
then what will bring me through it?

If I look on love,
as I look on love,
then what will bring me to it?

8.

Drive from me all feeling,
so that I may know no pain.
But bring me back unto myself,
So that I may live again.

9.

Strength in numbers is a test for the weak,
to walk alone is harder.
Untried belief is a test for the meek,
the faithful walk much farther.

Count Your Blessings As You Go
Lest They Disappear Before You.
Know Them Each As Separate Dreams,
And They'll Never Start To Bore You.

10.

Innocence

If innocence is ignorance,
then take it at its word . . .
Look not to open up its eyes
nor cage it like a bird.

Its song is not for you to hear,
its beauty undisclosed.
Your presence is a mortal threat,
a danger unopposed.

11.

It has always been,
and continues now to be --
the outlet best suited;
most appropriate to me.

It was never doubtful,
or hidden from my sight --
Not subtle in its presence;
nor subject to my sight.

It is both quick and urgent,
no practice time required --
t'is best when it comes easily;
there by the muse inspired.

12.

I've seen the work of death itself --
and I am unimpressed.
Its trademark is a rotten core
and leads me not to rest.

A Mourning Loss of Innocence.…


A Mourning Loss of Innocence....

1. 

There are times when giving all 
one needs more yet to give, 
and if the search prove fruitless, 
it seems absurd to live. 
 
Yet oftentimes absurdity 
may be the price we pay, 
for finding joy in springtime 
and watching children play. 

2.

I am the scribe 
and well I know the law. 
It is my legacy to write it -- 
as a child writes the alphabet 
dutifully -- 
with the purpose of 
knowing, 
growing, 
and in a small cold moment -- 
Dying. 

3.

I've been the road of womanhood 
and dreamed a woman's dream 
  of loving and caressing you 
until you made me scream. 
 
You took me for a lover 
then took me by surprise. 
You bloodied all my woman things 
and ate me with your eyes. 
 
I never knew your male designs 
or understood your reason. 
 I only knew the single road 
of following my season. 
 
You drank my love with eager lust 
and catered to my blindness. 
Then having quenched your cursed thirst 
     you left me only dryness. 
 
4.
 
Where souls must touch 
then touch no more 
In casual encounters. 
 
Where tender minds 
must hide their depth 
In shallow thoughts and places. 
 
Where human hearts 
put on a mask 
In cheap and tawdry glances. 
 
Where truth is lost 
 and cheaply sold 
In bitter conversations. 
 
Some sense the loss 
or learn to lie 
In this new generation.  

5.
        
       Where souls must touch to never touch again 
     In casual encounters forced on deeper kinds of mind. 
      Shallow souls are winners where men are only faces 
    and truth is cheapened til it's lost the will to care. 
       Bitter is the byword of these people of today. 
            Some feel it, others learn it . . . 
           It is their only insight into nothing! 

6. 
           Could I but draw some strength from thee 
            (tho' guilt would bind my heartwood) 
             I might grow out this tediousness 
                and bloom despite my tears. 
 
             Let me but grasp thy branches once 
               and from the sap I gain there 
           my trunk will take on bolder growth -- 
                escape this gnarl of fears. 
 
             If I may touch thy heights awhile 
               (tho' fearing to descend them) 
          New buds will sprout and leaves spring out 
                released from dormant years. 
 
          And when these things are gained from thee 
                 and I am all accomplished 
             My roots will gather depth in thee 
                as joint fulfillment nears. 

7.
 
            Don't mix daisies with falling leaves 
              lest they cease to seek the sun. 
                Daisies speak of fresher days 
                  and tasks as yet undone. 
 
              Don't make snow a spring affair 
                it needs to fall in winter. 
                Melting as the robins hatch 
               to bathe in something gentler. 
 
               Don't let seedlings undertake 
                 the task of bearing fruit. 
            Lest they forget their need to grow 
               and nourish last year's shoot. 
 
            Don't let the sun forget its course 
                  and stay away too long. 
            Spring has the need of warming rays 
                 until its months are gone. 

8.
 
               A mourning wish for permanence 
                   is but a futile claim. 
               The body wills itself to heal 
               and the mind must follow suit. 

9. 

              Who must pluck this beauty home 
                  and abdicate the spring? 
                Who must make the Maple red 
                 and drain away the green? 
              Who shall tire of budding blooms 
                 and make them go to seed? 
               Who shall call my spirit home 
                 when life cannot proceed? 
 
10.

                 I do not seek the rapture 
               when all our souls will soar. 
                 I hesitate to meet that fate 
               for fear I'll yearn for more. 

11.
 
              Might we regain the Mother now? 
             . . . forsake our blind ambition. 
           Bring back the Druid, spurned so long? 
              . . . unmake our proud sedition. 
 
              Can we reclaim the sacred grove? 
            . . . where first She made us sing. 
               Relearn her ways of innocence? 
              . . . and ponder simpler things. 
 
               For surely Nature's not undone 
              . . . despite our mad endeavor. 
           The oak still grows, the deer still run 
             . . . the fox is still as clever. 

12.

             Are we so different then from Thee 
                 in our tragic earthy way? 
            Are all our thoughtless cruel deeds 
                 more brutal than Thy clay? 

A Baker’s Dozen…With Not A Dry Eye In The House.

                            

       A Baker's Dozen...With Not A Dry Eye In The House.

                              1. 

              Dull this drop of bitter wine -- 
                   liquified from stone. 
                 Clarify its taste for me, 
                     hitherto unknown. 

                             2. 

                  Sinking veils of sadness 
                  freeze the barren earth. 
                   Frosting out potential 
                   blighting out rebirth. 

                   Empty winds of harvest 
                   skirt the shining waste. 
              Searching now for fresher soil, 
                 in cold relentless haste.

                             3. 

                    I cannot look up -- 
                cannot even lift my eyes -- 
                        to the sun, 
                     or the night sky. 

                  Instead, I look away -- 
                       tears flow -- 
                streaming down in rivulets, 
                    dark salty things -- 
                 mixed with blood and fear. 

                         They fall, 
                      and I follow -- 

                       looking down. 

                  Bereft of friendship -- 
                       companions -- 

                      and bright eyes. 
                  Another piece of meat is burning -- 
                   a service to the God. 

                      It is blessed -- 
                 most honored in its agony, 

               Honored most of all by service 
                    -- and being served. 

                               4.

                Madness is a State of Grace. 
                      Honored by God, 
                     and Feared by Man. 

                    Those who seek it -- 
                     choose willingly, 
                  to live in THEIR World, 

                       Not THE World. 

                      They go there -- 
                        with vigor, 
                       and in chains. 

                    Their haunted faces, 
               at once alight with pleasure, 
                      and with pain -- 

            They seek the gentle side of madness, 
                 a quiet room for solitude. 

                     Where souls go -- 
            having been burglarized by passion, 
                          raped -- 
                      held captive -- 
                        and ignored. 

                     Too long, they cry -- 
                         Too long! 

                    Compassionate reply. 

                       No life . . . 
                        to speak of, 
                   No joy to pass around. 

             No vain attempts to counter Fate, 
                No sorrow when they've gone.

                               5.

I have risen from my slumber 
and pull forth my ragged waves 
I shed the silt experience 
of fitful sleeping days.           

My time has come for churning 
I crave the salty spray 
and wiping blood from off my brow 
I turn to wet the day. 

                               6.

Points of pleasure mixed with pain -- 
these are the gentlest kind. 
Melancholy grief again -- 
a precious cruel find. 

 Metronomic thoughts unwind 
in metered rhythmic rhyme. 
Twisted echoes of the mind 
caress a pantomime. 

Gentler features contraband 
Bind a martyred soul. 
 Terror grips a tempered hand 
as gales begin to blow. 

 Hurricane my troubled friend, 
 ally in despair. 
Peaceful do you seem to me 
when I at times compare. 

                               7.

Anagram -- Cryptogram 
Search the soldier's maze. 
Find the right solution 
clear away the haze. 
Fire the gun without a shot 
Push the pellet through the slot 
Ask for brighter days. 

Alice had her darker side 
A part which she could not abide. 
Was it through the looking glass 
Hiding in the unkept grass? 
Could she approach the bride? 

Seek the door not often tried. 
Find the answer still not met. 
Do you know the answer yet? 
Would you, could you make the bet. 
Would you know I lied? 

                               8.

Unimagination dries the soul 
and trims away the spirit 
leaving skeletal remains 
of those who do not fear it. 

                               9.
Often when I sit to write 
a guilt will overtake me. 
Why can I not enjoy the light, 
why so morbid lately? 

I toy with wondering awhile 
then toss the guilt aside. 
For if I wrote of gentler things 
 A child could see I lied. 

                               10.

I'd like to find a peaceful mind 
and think its thoughts awhile -- 

then leave it to its own device! 

                               11.

Welcome world insanity 
Welcome bloody days 
Hatred now conditioned 
Chauvinism praised. 

Welcome independence 
Detachment now in vogue 
Songs of modern prophets 
trampled in the road. 

                               12.

After the roses came the war, 
then the heart that mourned the gore. 
Trouble was after all that pain, 
we came full circle to start again! 

                               13.

Poets tend to talk too much, 
would-be poets more. 
Seems they've just forgotten 
what their ears are for.

On Parting.

1.

The world will have a word from me,
before I’m dusty air.
I must pro­voke its con­scious­ness,
divulge my urgent prayer.

It will not turn my words away,
nor weak­en my insis­tence.
I must per­suade its mind­less­ness,
to hon­or my exis­tence.

2.

Drop the White –
it rat­tles me.

Blues befit My Soul.

I see them
in my dreams at night.

A sad but steady flow.

3.

I’m too near the ocean
to fin­ish up a stream.
Stand­ing on this precipice
I dream a sailor’s dream.

Thoughts of riv­er sources,
seem too far away.
I can­not see begin­nings
ooz­ing out of clay.

Water­falls are hard to climb,
hard­er near the top.
Fight­ing current’s not my style,
eas­i­er to drop.

Waves some­times turn tidal, though,
storms breed hur­ri­canes.
Per­haps if I assault the land,
She’ll have to learn my name.

4.

When­ev­er was My cur­tain call –
and where was I to miss it?
No one cued my entrance,
no help could I elic­it!

What actor took my lines away –
must I stand mute for­ev­er?
Watch­ing from this alcove
rehears­ing my endeav­or!

I must come forth, this is My time –
my debut is essen­tial.
No direc­tor test­ing me
must miss my true poten­tial.

5.

Dear friend, I know the city,
though it’s not my nat­ur­al home.
I’ve seen it take the best of us
and let them die alone.

The coun­try boys adore it,
for its free­dom and its vice.
Its lights are bit­ter jew­els
anx­ious to entice.

The streets are filled with won­der,
old traf­fic and new trade.
And there some­how more gen­tle souls
try not to be afraid.

They leave behind their fan­tasies,
as starlight leaves their eyes.
And gain the new expres­sion
of garbage-eat­ing flies.

6.

If I could share your bed tonight
my prowess would amaze you.
I’d teach you to enjoy your flesh,
I’d tan­ta­lize and praise you.

7.

A bar­ren field’s a King­dom
for the tree that stands alone.

It marks its days with falling leaves
Until the season’s gone.

8.

Hav­ing nev­er been a stone before
the lack of soul dis­turbs me.
Turn­ing stone was hard enough
with­out this cold to burn me.

I wish I’d nev­er had the choice,
for then I’d nev­er miss me.
All I’d know was inno­cence,
with­out a lip to kiss me.

9.

Slow steps fol­low the habit,
through emp­ty halls of time.
Hol­low mem­o­ries cling to cob­webs,
ban­ished from the mind.

Fevered dreams are bid farewell;
reck­less blood is chas­tened.
Chasti­ty in dry acclaim
upon the heart embla­zoned.

10.

I had nev­er turned the day­break
into some­thing I could touch.
Until now its rev­e­la­tion,
seemed remote — too hard to clutch.

I had always been afraid to fly,
to take its out­stretched hand.
Pre­fer­ring dark­ened earthy haunts –
and fear­ing rep­ri­mand.

Now though, it seeks with vig­or,
my coun­te­nance and frame.
I may not find excuse for it,
pre­tend­ing to be lame.

Instead I have to test these wings,
and soar above the seas.
Before the sand can find a way
to sink me to my knees.

11.

Blank vers­es,
tran­scribed from years
of ado­les­cent sor­row

Can­not be retraced,
and metered into rhyme.

They are the mem­o­ries
of ali­bis
long retired from use.

They are bold unful­filled sum­mers
where day­dreams held
more of life,
than climb­ing trees or fly­ing kites.

12.

The Gods pro­claim my ster­ile state,
baser scenes are end­ed!
Fer­tile minds now hes­i­tate;
Chastity’s descend­ed!

Waste no time on bump and grind;
thought­ful­ness, more fair!
Lusty visions cloud the mind
and sub­ju­gate the bear­er!

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