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

 

de colores II

The sun is not yellow,
nor is the grass green~
and the sky is blue, yes,
but much more.
..The real colors of the sun
and of grass
are found on the backs of seabirds,
and shining through the wings
of dragonflies
The other colors of the sky are
seen
when you close your eyes while eating
rhubarb pie (Mom’s recipe)
And when you feel the dog’s nose
against your bare leg.

See More

pelicanpencil

 

@david weber, august, 2010

Love Song 3

Thursday morning at a gas station on I-40 near Tucumcari, New Mexico:

“You quit touchin’ that stuff afore I knock you right out that door” the fat man in shorts, knee socks, and sandals says to the boy who looks down, down at whatever is down inside, that meets whatever is down on the floor where it is quiet for a moment..

where he paints in secret swirls, with imagined colors, circles on the dirty linoleum, a dusty mandala- intricate shapes of conjured dreams, where he is absorbed for while in the width and whorls of the soundlessness behind words, the protection of quiet. For a moment, a minute perhaps, the boy is without a name and the wheel on the floor is the fiery wheel of a chariot, and he breathes as it spins in emerald rainbows.

There is no fat man. There are no chains.

“This is my body, broken for you..”

“Get yer ass out to the car, boy”

“Do this remembrance of me..”

David Weber, 2010

Love Song 2

Suffering is not a thing

belonging out there,

but encroaching

increasingly

where it should

not be, no.

It is.

It is in the wondering

and the waiting for words which

will wound no matter

how softly they are spoken.

It is in the scream of a wildebeest

as a lion tears mortally into its flesh.

It is in the million year death of a star

and in the unrequited song of the cicada.

It is in the knowledge, growing louder,

that there will be a last breath,

a final light.

It is.

That it is.

Ehyeh asher ehyeh

אהיה אשר אהיה

Love Song 1

If I speak with tongues of men…and of angels...(1 Corinthians 13)

And if I speak quietly, in languages beyond words,

You will hear, perhaps, the thunder of African hoofbeats.

And if I listen,

to you, I can

(and often do, behind what you say)

hear the sounds of Saharan winds.

Together, sing now.

And the butterflies

the clouds and

the sunflowers will gather

on rocky hillsides

and hear our songs,

world without end..

Amen

Two thoughts, attached at the hip..

60

It seems..

no, not ‘seems’- is..

It is that I am more ready, more wanting at 60

than I was at 10

to see

the sun rise

a pelican dive

a mountain

an ocean

a hummingbird zoom

the moon- harvest, blue, waning, or full.

It is true, at 10:

that there was more to imagine

than there was to remember.

But I only know that because I’m 60 now,

and it is easier to imagine what I missed seeing

than it is to remember what I did see,

even though I know what I saw then

is (yes, is) why

I can imagine so easily,

so very easily,

what still

is to be seen.

(David Weber 7/5/10)

Peculiarities

I am not thankful that such peculiar circumstances existed,

but I am thankful that I have, in my brain, memories

synaptically retrievable, at will,

of the white men on the foundry floor at the Eljer plant in Salem

who had the union jobs, in metal cubicles with loud noisy fans,

and who used hand tools- grinders and buffers- and wore goggles and metal gloves.

And that it was the black men (all older, all non-union)

who pushed brooms over floors

that were clean only for moments at a time.

(David Weber 7/5/10)



by the afternoon’s early light..

Any object, intensely regarded, may be a gate of access to the incorruptible eon of the gods..” James Joyce, Ulysses

In the corner of the garage, forgotten under a tarp thrown down in 1996 to protect the boxes beneath from the rain edging its way under hail-damaged asphalt roof shakes, a box.

A box- a box filled once in the 1950s with oranges from “Sunny Florida” later sealed with now dried and flaking masking tape, forgotten..first under the tarp, before that next to a pile of lumber intended to build a never-built back porch, and before that because it was just a box that would get moved later, sometime. Maybe tomorrow.

Now, fifty years after the last orange was peeled and eaten, the move finally begins with the lifting of the tarp frozen by dust and time into the shape of a small foothill sloping gradually to the flat twelve inch high mesa of a box top. The tape cracks away in the confetti of long expired glue, and the lid is lifted.

Lifted.. and the air inside is drawn in a gentle vacuum from the cardboard tomb in which it has been sealed since Eisenhower was president, since Sputnik was a funny sounding word, since young men stifled nightmares of bodies floating in the waters off France and Bataan, since nobody had ever seen a color television. Before assassinations, long before the Bicentennial, long long before anyone knew what/who/when an Ayatollah was..

And inside, an envelope (brown, manila, creased, thick) labeled in pencil, “Edith Cross, City” with 55 cents worth of various blue and red postage stamps postmarked “Buy War Bonds, 1944.” Two little cardboard buttons around which, in a figure-8 twist, a string keeps the flap of the envelope closed, officially perhaps. Unwinding, the long-untouched string breaks, its work completed, and the envelope is gently torn just enough to lift the flap and inside..

A flag, trifolded redwhiteblue stars whitehemmed metalgrommets. The love of Edith’s life? 1944, D-Day? Edith’s father? A muddy trench in a Flanders field, sent by executors of an estate a half century ago to the younger generation for safekeeping?

The air of the envelope, older even than the air of the orange box, wafts through the stale air of the garage, over the canvas foothills, upwards toward a window rarely opened where the pale sunlight of an otherwise quiet summer afternoon spills across cardboard shadows onto an unmarked grave.

Oh, say can you see..?

David B.Weber, 2010