Tag Archives: Memory

9/11/13

I look back on this day some twelve years ago, I’ve sought the right words all day in the back of my mind, trying to figure out how best to capture the feeling, the emotion, the raw and hard to digest reality of what happened. So many lives, like a whisper cut off in a dark room, no more speaking and no more filling the void. May whatever good thing there is beyond us in the Universe shine upon those silent voices, those that died that day, and died in service in the days after.
I remember that day, as we each do, so very vividly. I was in my Sophomore year, a religious kid then, watching the world come unglued. I remember the TV on in the classroom and all manner of hell raining down. I remember watching the news people trying to make sense of it all as a second plain hit on live TV and in seeing that I knew the dark and ugly reality that in this world, anything can happen. The carpet can be pulled out beneath our feet at any moment in any given day. We were not invincible, the we being not us as a country because our country continues onward, tested and tried but not broken, not so long as we the individuals that make it up continue to fight the good fight and mix our voices together to be heard, so long as we continue to dream and believe in Democracy and in what is good not only within ourselves but our fellow person. No, the we there is purely us as individuals, we each, individually are not immortal–a sobering thing to a guy at that time a teenager with the world before him. Youthfulness has the lie of immortality burned into his being, but that day was a rude awakening for us all.
I remember the first time I went to NYC, the first time I saw the gaping wound of what had happened. I was underground looking up, wondering at why Daylight was shining down on a subway car and then I realized I was underneath where it had happened. Realization upon realization but nothing can prepare a person for a thing like that. It was eerie there, silent, a hallowed ground of spilled blood and punctured innocence, of trial and tribulation. Evil had touched this spot and good people going about their lives had died here. There were ghosts here, but not all of them of the literal kind. These were the ghosts of what had been before the towers had come down, of what would be after, of dark days and hope being challenged. But in the end our flag pulled us together, we reached out and in one of our darker days we rallied together behind each other, we were America, We are America, and we knew then that not a damned thing in this world would snuff us out if there were still one of us left to fight, to stand, to push back the darkness and to shout down the threat, we would not go silently into the dark night as Thomas Dylan once said. No, we would not surrender so easily. We are a nation of people born in boldness, and courage, and audacious dreams, challenging enemies both foreign and domestic, and challenging in the end, even our own selves. We are a noble people, not because we are simply born to it, but because we have dreamed the heights and pursued it with a tenaciousness never before known in history and we would and will I hope chase down that dream and grand experiment so long as there is a flag to ally ourselves to…our daring symbol, a bold reminder of where we have come from and where we can go. Thirteen colonies and a ragtag team of people against an empire.
This day, I think all these many thoughts. I remember. I mourn. I feel the inspiration of their brave American Spirit, those men, those women, those brave heroes that dared so boldly that day and fought all the many challenges they faced. And all the Heroes that came after, that took up their banner and fought in the years that came of this ugly thing. My gratitude, my humility, my service, my respect to you all, living and dead. Rest in peace to those that died, rest in respect to those still injured, and for those continuing the fight, I stand beside you.
May whatever good thing there is in the Universe shine upon us, may the good moreover inside each and everyone of us guide us forward, and may we find the dream still alive and may that dream that is America, and is Democracy, and is Equality, and is brother and sisterhood and common cause, and revolutionary spirit and boldness and courage, may it never be snuffed out and may it ever be dreamed. For this, and the United States of America, I wholeheartedly pledge my undying allegiance.

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Of Coffee, Caffeine, and Morning Breezes

Just heart burn, a bowl of cereal, and The Civil Wars playing

Thinking about a woman I don’t know

Or might know but not know that I do

Wondering how much longer this trying road will wander

 

Life is like

And then I stop, because the truth is much more troubling

Life is like life, and that’s all

Any of us can truly say. But that’s alright, ain’t it?

Just one more soup bowl to be cleaned, that’s life

Summed up with a side of toast and raspberry Jelly

 

Long day stretching out across a short horizon, has the sun

Wobbled up over them Kentucky hills?

There’s something to be said for the smell

Of coffee, caffeine, and early morning breezes

 

Got my poetry packed, my stories ingested, notes ready

Pen in pocket, jeans laid out, shower going

Teeth brushed, and student’s mask worn

But still I’m sittin’ here wondering

About that fat burning ball of light, the short stretch

Of a long day. What’s the creek smell like back home?

Sugar creek, Lock 8, old hills, little holler

Here I am in Lexington big and wide

Thinking of a little place down the road,

Wondering. What’s this day going to hold?


Not a House, But a Home

I was born of creek rock, Indian Soap, and chigger patches

Raised up on the dancing embers

Of a burning hot stove making dry wood

A work of art with its fiery touch

And burning appetite

I am the twang at the back of the throat

That sounds like banjoes in a july festival

Learned out of me by my hunger for a proper education

Until I fill my fuel tank with Kentucky water and shining moons

Bourbon truths on full moon liquor

The echo of generation upon generation

Rising up like muddy water

In the Kentucky River, rain drops falling

Making her grow fat and furious

The spring mud slides and roads buckling

Under the shifting weight

Of all that change

I am birthed in the firecracker pop

Of a February freeze

Winter’s fourth of July declaring

Independence from all the safety of warmth

And modern civilization

I am born of the tree frog song croaking out

On a creaking night and Katie-dids doing

What Katie-dids do, firefly Morse code

Two blinks, one blink, two blinks

Katie-did songs and tree frog revelations

A summer night on lock eight road

I am the home of all these stories

As much as they are mine

Little trailer with the built up room

And the porch light burning defiant against the night

Not a house but a home.


Choose Your Own Path and a Time Machine

Today was cold. Brutally cold, though it has been colder this year. I just have a horribly low tolerance for freezing my ass off. Also, tonight, as I was driving home, it began to freeze-rain, or sleet. (I also noted that I need new windshield wipers and have a tire with a slow leak, but that’s another story for another day). Oh and prior to driving home, I had supper with friends from Writing group—newest and latest adventure? I tried Goat Meat for the first time tonight. I am in fact a fan.

I made it a point to no longer waste time concerning my reading. For the sake of School, I’ve put off numerous books I wanted to read, sliding them into a “to read” file—which has grown to take up more than a few shelves of space. This simply can not be anymore. So, I’ve decided to start working on my to read file. No matter what assigned readings my degree may call for, I must feed my soul. What does it profit a degree holder (and a writer!) to gain their goals but at the starving of their soul? (OK I stole this from Jesus, but you get my point. (and I hope JC is cool with that, nervous laugh)).

A writer must read!

It was in my Poetry class that we discussed this topic to great length. What books did we love, did we hate, did we passionately (or hatefully) respond to, with zest? What books did we fling forth, and what books did we clutch to our chests?

It worked on me, that discussion. I began to think, what were my book loves? What book took my breath away, how far back was my first breathless moment? And so on, and so on.

I was raised around books. Mom and Dad both always had books nearby. Sometimes the TV went forgotten as the three of us sat close to one another and read. When I was a child it was dinosaurs, science fiction (H.G. Wells and his Time Machine completely captured my heart and soul!), then came the “Choose-your-own-path books (I remember fondly the yellowing pages of those books, some bent and flipped as others had charted their own path through the wild woods of those great pre smart phone era imagination based games of adventure), and then Goosebumps, and upwards and onwards. I read them all. I was lost to my books and happier for it.

There were books of every kind, always around. Mom studied crafts and cooking and home projects, and dad read Westerns, adventures, how-to’s, and home repair, and other “useful” topics.

I remember fondly those forbidden books, though the age escapes me, the ones with the grotesque covers, painted in inky blacks and whites, lurid stories and wicked to the punch titles. They were called “Scary Stories” and it was the bigger kids on the bus that had those books, passing them around, sometimes giving me a sneak peek of what was inside. I can’t remember when I finally got to read one of those books for myself, I know only that I own them all now, and read them over and over.

I remember the great book hunts my mother, my aunt, my grandmother, and myself all would go on to Goodwills, and yardsales. I remember clearly, as I sit here, the back corner of the Goodwill of my youth. There was a jungle of odd smelling clothes between the front of that store and the back. It was there, in the far off corner, isolated from all the proper world beyond, that there was a long section of shelves which held a disorganized and wonderfully cluttered collection of books. I remember it was here I first found those great 1970’s original Choose your own path books. I remember clearly getting one of those books that was about a great fantasy adventure through mountains, and caves, and fighting off great spiders, trolls, monsters, dragons, and how I’d hold one finger at the decision page just to make sure I’d made the right choice. If not, I’d go back and choose differently. I’d gobble these books up, feeding my imagination, loving the richness not so much of the story but the worlds found in between those covers and having some say in their construction.

Funny the things we forget, when we never take time to sit down and remember, isn’t it?

 

Tonight, by my bedside table, in my stack of current reads:

Bradbury collections of Short Stories (October Country, Illustrated Man) also his nonfiction piece (The Art and Zen in the Craft of Writing) which I keep there even though I’ve read it.

Also in that little wire basket is Neil Gaiman’s collection of short stories (Smoke and Mirrors).

Just beside me on the bed is the long piece I’m reading, Poppy Z. Brite’s, Drawing Blood (I was left breathless on page twenty, so soon in, and so deeply moved by emotion, shock, terror, repulsion and necessity).

 

What sits beside you tonight? Which author’s voice will whisper softly to your hungry soul, feeding you what stories, what words, what magic, what poetry, what wonderful things?

 

 

Question to myself:

Why do you fear sitting down to write plainly the happenings of your nonfiction and very real life?

 

 


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