Great T-Shirts I Have Known II

Great T-Shirts I Have Known, part two…

Col­lege, Fra­ter­ni­ty Life and more.…   (1975–1979)

When I arrived at Wake For­est, I found a wel­com­ing home with the Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty — via the Inter­Var­si­ty Chris­t­ian Fel­low­ship. It was an easy tran­si­tion, and one I prob­a­bly need­ed to help me through my first year of col­lege. I remained focused on that com­mu­ni­ty through­out my Fresh­man year and into my Sopho­more year. Slow­ly, though, cracks in that com­mu­ni­ty, and the dark­er side of fun­da­men­tal­ism, led me away from “the God Squad,” which was the nick­name of the par­tic­u­lar group of young men I had end­ed up shar­ing a suite with my Sopho­more year.

It is iron­ic, and inter­est­ing to me that I did not save any­thing from that peri­od. I am sure there many items I might have saved, but noth­ing remains of that phase of my life, save some good mem­o­ries and a few pho­tos I have kept.

At the begin­ning of my Junior year, I moved into a suite with an eclec­tic bunch of peo­ple, and elect­ed to room with a high school friend, Steve Trent. It was a fresh start in a way, and one I wel­comed. I was still try­ing to fig­ure out “who I was” at that point, but, like my ear­li­er incar­na­tion, I think that I need­ed it at the time. Like it or not, I still felt like I need­ed to “belong” some­where. Look­ing back, I think was def­i­nite­ly search­ing for a place in the world that made sense for me.

I became friends with a bunch of guys who were mem­bers of Delta Kap­pa Epsilon, a sort of semi-out­cast fra­ter­ni­ty at Wake For­est. It was the only off-cam­pus fra­ter­ni­ty, and was there­fore not offi­cial­ly rec­og­nized by the uni­ver­si­ty. All the oth­er fra­ter­ni­ties were housed in the cor­ner units of each of the men’s “hous­es” as the dorms were called.

I pledged DKE my Junior year, and it was a big part of my last two years of col­lege. Iron­ic that, when I came out, just after grad­u­a­tion from col­lege, I felt I had to give up all those rela­tion­ships. To say they were homo­pho­bic, even for the time, would have been an extreme under­state­ment.

I don’t hold that against them. Over the years, I’ve even recon­nect­ed with a cou­ple of them, and the t-shirts I saved from those years are still dear to me though, and remind me of the amaz­ing fel­low­ship and mem­o­ries I have from those days.

So I moved to Atlanta, and start­ed an entire­ly new phase of my life. I did not go alone, though.

I moved there with Chris Creech, a fra­ter­ni­ty broth­er of mine who had also come out, and in fact, who intro­duced me to some peo­ple who would become some of my dear­est friends for the rest of my life.








Great T-Shirts I Have Known

Great T-Shirts I Have Known, part one…

Over the years, and I do mean over the years (you will see what I mean below), I have col­lect­ed t-shirts. Some to wear and some to have. All of them have dear mem­o­ries attached to them. Recent­ly, though, I decid­ed I need­ed to make some space in my life and in our house. That meant going through box­es, includ­ing the box­es of t-shirts I’d kept, but not worn in ages. I decid­ed it was time to lose the t-shirts, but pre­serve the mem­o­ries by tak­ing pho­tos of them before I let them go. Here are a few of them, along with the mem­o­ries they evoke for me. There is no par­tic­u­lar order, and it may take mul­ti­ple blogs (or at least mul­ti­ple sit­tings) to share them all.

Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion T-Shirt, Fresh­man, McDow­ell High School (real­ly Old Fort High School, 1972)

I told you this went back. Can you believe it? I saved my 9th grade phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion t-shirt. Although it says McDow­ell High School, this was the year before we were actu­al­ly con­sol­i­dat­ed (con­struc­tion was still under­way for the new high school and junior high), so we were still locat­ed at Old Fort High School. It was all new for me. My par­ents had moved us “onto the farm” in Old Fort over the Sum­mer and I was start­ing at a new school in the Fall. It was my first time…taking phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion, chang­ing clothes in front of a bunch of peo­ple, show­er­ing with a bunch of peo­ple, and doing any sort of phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion that wasn’t the team sports from ele­men­tary school. Ran­dom things I remem­ber include: com­ing around a bend in the school bus and see­ing a white clad fig­ure run out the back of their house and down to the outhouse…meeting friends with whom I still correspond…cutting and sell­ing pulp wood to make money…more.  Fond mem­o­ries from that time. Fond mem­o­ries of the year spent at the old high school.


Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion T-Shirt, Fresh­man, Wake For­est Uni­ver­si­ty (1975)

Keep­ing with the theme, I also saved my phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion t-shirt from my fresh­man year of col­lege at Wake For­est. I actu­al­ly enjoyed phys. ed. at Wake For­est, took sev­er­al class­es includ­ing golf, ten­nis and gym­nas­tics. Anoth­er ban­ner year, and one I will nev­er for­get.  First time away from home, first time liv­ing with oth­er peo­ple in a dorm (there were eight of us in a suite with four bed­rooms and a bath­room). For a kid who was an only child from rur­al West­ern North Car­oli­na, this was an edu­ca­tion all by itself. I can recall all my room­mates faces and names, although I nev­er kept in touch with any of them after col­lege. My own room­mate John D. Williams (from Ypsi­lante, Michi­gan, dropped out), Tom Mann (grad­u­at­ed), Rick Sears (trans­ferred to NC State after Fresh­man year), Richard K. (Rick) Pulling (grad­u­at­ed), Christo­pher Ingram (grad­u­at­ed and became a doc­tor at Duke), plus two more — David Dick­en­son, who trans­ferred (I think)and lat­er posed for Play­girl and his room­mate Karl Weist who played rug­by and didn’t dri­ve. He became a lawyer. The biggest les­son I learned that year was that no mat­ter how smart you might have thought you were, you weren’t. I’d been at the top of my class and Nation­al Hon­or Soci­ety, earned a schol­ar­ship to WFU (the only way my fam­i­ly could have afford­ed to send me there), and yet, almost flunked out (thanks large­ly to Cal­cu­lus) my Fresh­man year. Pub­lic school in West­ern North Car­oli­na (at least mine) did not pre­pare any of the three of us who went to WFU for the demands of col­lege. All three of us sur­vived, but none of us thrived that year. And yet in the end, we all did okay, and we grad­u­at­ed. I can­not say that for up to half of my Fresh­man class.

SpringFest T-Shirt, Sopho­more, Wake For­est Uni­ver­si­ty (1976)

My Sopho­more year, I dis­cov­ered SpringFest, and the 1972 movie, BROTHER SON, SISTER MOON by Fran­co Zef­firelli. I fell in love with the film and the music (per­formed by Dono­van). Lit­tle did I know exact­ly why I loved the movie so much at the time. Many years lat­er, I pur­chased a copy of the dvd so I could watch it again.…













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.


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.


Cracked Corn.


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!


In attendance.

We are waiting here for twilight.

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

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



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.

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.

	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!


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.....


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?


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.


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!


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


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


Later Kid, 
	I gotta go.

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.


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.


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!


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.


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


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.


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.


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?


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


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.



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.


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.


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....


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. 


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 
and in a small cold moment -- 


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. 
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.  

       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! 

           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. 

            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. 

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


              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? 

                 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. 

              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. 


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

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