1955

Here’s what we knew:

Howdy Doody was kind of funny but Froggy on top of the Buster Brown clock was tossing seeds of emotional anarchy into the already hardening arteries of six year old minds.

Froggy was magic; Howdy Doody was all strung up. That meant something; we just didn’t know what, though- not quite yet. Here’s what else we didn’t know:

Telstar, Sputnik, John Glenn, space

Woolworth’s, Birmingham, Malcolm X, race

Assassination

Castro, Khrushchev, MauMau, spies

James Bond, Vietnam, Pentagon, lies

Heroin

Satisfaction, Say it Loud, Woodstock, mud

Chicago riots, Watts, Kent State, blood

Agnew

Mr. Hooper, Meathead, Jim Belushi, death

Junk Bonds, food stamps, drug labs, meth

Guyana

“Plunk your magic Twanger, Froggy,” Andy Devine would tell the apparition suddenly standing on the clock. Froggy gave some of us weird dreams while Howdy Doody made us aware of strings being pulled. Most of us, it turns out, ended up on Froggy’s team. We learned that time passing did not automatically cause anything to make more sense. We learned that there are some things even more mysterious at 61 than they were at 6. We learned that it makes more sense (oftentimes) to stop thinking, to stop trying to figure anything out, and to

accept enjoy embrace whatever it is

because..we’re apparitions standing on a clock, too.

David Weber, November 2010

Dancing the Noise Away..

“When the sun rises, I go to work;                                                                   When the sun goes down, I take my rest;                                                                                                                   I dig the well from which I drink;                                                                                                                    I farm the soil that yields my food.                                                                                                                I share creation; kings do no more.”

(trans. By Y.S.Han, in the Christian Century, 1927. This poem is recognized as one of the oldest Chinese folk poems, roughly dated 2500 B.C.E.)

Once upon a time, We were in rhythm, and We danced, We: the Universe, My Ancestors, and Yours. We were indistinguishable then and for a long long time: animated Starstuff at the mercy and the glory of Winds and Waves, Thunder and Moonlight. It was hard to say where You began and where I began and where Your reach ended and where My steps stopped, etcetera etcetera times a billion or two, such was the Eternality and the Encompassing Everything of the Dance.

We danced in the soil to the beat of the sun,

we danced in the rain when there was nowhere to run,

and we danced all night to beat of our hearts.

When we danced that way, we danced as One.

And then one of us rose from the common dust and the rest of us followed and one of us would get ahead and the others would catch up, pass by, get there first, not make room, “Move along now” etcetera etcetera times a billion or two and the Rhythms seemed harder and harder and harder to hear.

And then on May 14, 1801, it became Silent. (Pick a date, they’re all arbitrary, all contrived, all confusing- in fact it may have been a spring day in the 17th Century, or Christmas Day, 1822- the dates, after all, are part of the suffocating, stultifying, stupefying of humanly concocted Noise that hinders our hearing even of our own heartbeats.

It became silent and then..the noise, the real noise the noise of iron-slurried coal and the noise of generators burning and of locomotives and rifles and the noise of screams and steam in heat-searing shudders and the tearing apart of mountains and bird’s nests, of rivers and negros’ backs. And the dancing stopped here and there, then mostly here and there and everywhere..

Many of our moonlit sisters and sun dwelling brothers died under the weight, the crush of the discordances. They rolled over in sweat-wet beds and could stand it no longer and died of any number of medical maladies all of which were hatched in Noise.

And we descended into hell.                                                                               And on the right day, we rose again.

That day, too, is arbitrary and for many (most?) still unrealized, but on that day, a day of particular noise, a day of eye-burning smoke

and ice melt

and fuel spills

and fish kills

and land fills

and death knells,

the Music was heard, again..

By, some on the wind;

by others, on the waves;

by all with ears to hear..

in the beating of our Heart(s).

and some of us remembered

and some of those who remembered,

Danced.

And the rest of us will, too,

and then all of us,

because the noise of silence and

darkness of being still

not-by-choice

could no longer be tolerated

and the jagged edges of the dance floor need to be smooth again

because that’s what we are always moving toward,

that’s where we will learn to breathe again

one by one,

etcetera etcetera times a billion or two,

then to Dance.

2010, David B.Weber

Obituary

(this is a poem because I say it is. I don’t know why I wrote it, so don’t ask. In fact, don’t read it.)

Obituary

TSINGWALLER
HAROLD EVELYN “Jack” of MontMichel, Texas was born on a batting-filled mattress covered by a white, unstarched, 100% cotton percale sheet, from the womb of his mother, the former Jessica T. Southington, of Bryson, on the 17th of September, 1931.

He died of complications: too much beer, too much fear, and a genetic code born of innumerable impregnations of various women over the last several millennia.

He graduated from West Stovall High School in 1948. He is survived by everyone alive today. He was a member of the Siddartha Baptist Church, the Downtown Club of the MontMichel National Bank, and was the last active member of the Texas Communist Party. He worked briefly in the early 1960s as a file clerk in the offices of Sturm and Drang, an accounting firm, before entering oblivion through the doors of obscurity. He had several dogs and was known to have enjoyed medieval erotic literature in his later years.

At the time of his death on Friday night, “Jack” was folding the morning papers into a plastic bag to be deposited in the trash. A pain tore through the left side of his chest, and simultaneously, his left arm and neck. He dropped the bag and it and the papers were falling to the floor as the wall of his left ventricle burst open. His adrenal gland poured into the synaptical canals of his brain and he lost consciousness with the white vision of a wastebasket reflecting the buckle on his sixth grade teacher’s shoe, filling and defining his last moments of being.

He wanders now in the Elysian Fields just outside the perceptible dimensions that encompass Farm to Market Road #834 south of MontMichel, near the old gin.

A memorial service will be held in the chapel of Ramsbottom and Sons Funeral Home on Wednesday at 1:00. In lieu of flowers, few other things in life really matter.

 

David B.Weber, 2007

The Flapping of Butterfly Wings (connections)

November 15, 1951 Memorial Hospital, Decatur, Iowa.
Danny is born to Bob, a veteran of D-Day and his wife, Gloria,
who really did believe when she was twelve that she would marry
Clark Gable. But Bob is nice. And Danny will go to college.

November 16, 1951 Café d’soleil, Rue Montorgueil, Paris:
Ho and Nguyen gather up scribbled-upon napkins and
slip them into their pockets as Vlad, the Russian, rises to go.
He thinks it is possible, Ho says, as Nguyen’s hand trembles.

December 4, 1955 a living room floor, Decatur, Iowa:
Danny helps his mother separate aluminum icicles for the Christmas tree
while his dad is washing blood from the rocks of Utah Beach
with 2 oz. shots of Four Roses. “Don’t bother Daddy,” Gloria whispers.

December 5, 1955 in the basement of the police station, Saigon, Indo-China:
Nguyen is struck above the ear with a slug from a .32 caliber MAB pistol which has discharged accidentally during a heated and secret interrogation. The young French soldier, who has acted so belligerently during the questioning, vomits when blood and brain matter spray over his hands.

April 4, 1970 Greenwood Cemetery, Decatur, Iowa:
Danny’s flag-draped coffin is lowered into a dirt hole beside the grave of his father.
A week before, Danny stepped on a mine in a rice paddy about 50 kilometers north of Saigon. The last thing he saw was his shredded right leg as it rose in front of him.

On an afternoon in May, 1975 a temple in Hanoi:
Ho lights a candle near the foot of Buddha. He lights it for Nguyen and two million others. He holds an old and rumpled napkin over the flame and watches the smoke from it rise to the Buddha’s face.

Later that same afternoon- in an apartment
near downtown Des Moines, Iowa.
Gloria comes home early from her job at Universal Insurance, because of a headache.
She lies down while watching an an afternoon children’s show.In an hour or so, just as Walter Cronkite is signing on, Gloria will die from a burst aneurism of the right frontal lobe of her brain.

David B. Weber 2007

Same Poem, Two Forms- from 2004

A Place Beyond (in free verse)

 I know that you and I walk, live, move,
and have our being
in the divine.
It is how I live.
But there are those moments that
transcend
liturgy, ritual, tradition,
and all else that is familiar.
Those places where we are

kissed by God

and where we hear God saying (perhaps)
“Thank you.”

They are places where, like Peter
we are invited to the mountaintop;
where, like John,
the fullness of our encounter
is drawn from us in eloquence
and perfect understanding
and where, for awhile,
fear is gone and we are safe,
and where, for blessed minutes,
hope is fully realized.

We cannot go to those places;
we can only be in them
as they occur.

This one: A back-district, government-built
home in South Dakota.
The yard is littered with
beer cans and old cars
and scraps of lives.
It is snowing now.
Inside, brothers, four of them,
Gather ‘round their grandfather’s drum
and an ancient War Song fills
the room, and the prairie beyond it,
is turning white now, and foreboding.
The youngest brother, Elijah,
tips back his head
as the ancestors come and
stand around the warrior
he might have been;
which he is now.
Outside, quieter still,
the prairie waits for the hoof beats
it knows are about to begin.

And this one: Somewhere in the Alsace,
between LeMaster and Le Chambon,
I stop the car because I am blinded by
van Gogh’s vision:
a volcanic hillside is filled with rows
of lavender, sunflowers, and grapevines,
from bottom to top and beyond
into the sky itself
and I hear the perfect symphony
of silent celebrating chords
crescendoing
in Continuing Creation.

And another: An old man,
alone in a cell for three years-
a murderer, a snitch-
unredeemable, unforgivable, forgotten
except
by the One who
knitted him together
in his mother’s womb.
I offer him the body of that One.
And his blood.

Black, gnarled, scarred, bony,
old man hands are extended
through steel bars worn silver
by the man’s standing behind them,
waiting, perhaps, for this day.
He accepts them.
And, behold, all things are made new.

Times like these..
people and places like these..
give shape to my being.
I cannot plan them, they are not mine.
I cannot duplicate them, they are Mystery.
I can only accept them, be in them, and
be ready.

David Weber 2004

Author’s Comments:
“This was a personal experiment in free verse. I wrote the following metered and rhymed version first. It is a Common Melody- it can be sung to the tune of Amazing Grace, or House of the Rising Sun, or even the theme from Gilligan’s Island!

A Place Beyond (the same poem from above, now rhymed and metered)

Somewhere beyond the practiced dance,
Beyond the same sung songs,
Past holy paths and priest-led chants,
Is where my soul belongs.
I’ve been there; it’s a place I know,
beyond my hope and fear.
It’s not a place I plan to go,
It’s never there, just here.
A clapboard shack high on a hill
A drum beat fills the room.
A warrior’s born, the earth is still
in tribute to God’s womb.
A hillside yellow, red, and green
In rows shaped like the sky
The painter speaks in sounds between
Earth’s groan and heaven’s sigh.
A cup is passed, a loaf is shared
“Remember me,” he said.
Hands reach through bars, a heart is bared,
and tears of grace are shed.
Somewhere beyond the practiced dance,
Beyond the same sung songs,
Past holy paths and priest-led chants,
Is where my soul belongs.

David B.Weber 2004

Catch

The smell of a White Pine here in Texas

is wrapped around by the remembered smell of a Scotch Pine in Ohio,

a thousand miles away and two decades after it was shattered

by a lightning bolt.

 

As I walked by the White Pine in therapeutic steps,

moving just enough to keep my knees from hurting in the night,

but not so much that they would ache into tomorrow, There..

I smelled, for a moment,

my dad in the pine wind

and my brother under the high gingko canopy

of yellow-leafed branches,

 

and we were, the three of us, playing Catch..

 

my brother with a catcher’s mitt, oiled and soft,

me with a fielder’s glove, stained in dried mud

and Dad, under the Scotch Pine’s shade, 40 feet away

and 20 years younger than I am now,

scooping (thousands of) boy-thrown baseballs

 

free and

loose

with so much time

and not a single thought of pain

and only faraway, barely formed thoughts

of this afternoon

ever coming to an end which,

of course, it did:

unanticipated, one day.

 

So now I press the two fingers which I had

been shown- by my brother? by my dad?-

to hold against the red criss-crossed seam of

the baseball just so,

I press them against the summer sticky bark of

the White Pine

so I can continue to smell dad..

dad and my brother..

and baseballs mitts

now, for awhile

on the walk back home.

 

@David Weber 2010

a pelican ponder

pelicandrawn
In groups of two, three, four
they skim the wet surfaces of Earth,
seeing past the white, churned murkiness
into the silver flashing of
mealtime without end..
…Amen.
Pelicans: pterodactyl memories,
ancient reptilian echoes across an avian sky.
Hatched..where? In swamps- estuarial kingdoms of brown-twigged nests;
Transformed-
Sleek, dirt colored silk jettisoned from the sky,
become a prayer of God to a sometimes tired world:

"Continue.."

 

 

@david weber, august, 2010