McCain, Obama, and Ozymandias

Memo: to myself (and maybe you)

Re: Tomorrow (and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow)

Tonight, I am thinking what a nice thing it would be to sit with a few tall glasses of Jim Beam with a little water. I would sip it while I flipped from CNN to MSNBC to Fox (for a brief moment) to Headline News, and back again, and forward again, as I was bringing up  huffingtonpost and Drudge Report (for a moment) and fivethirtyeight.com. The sipping would get faster, though; a few glasses would turn into a few more and tomorrow morning, if that were to happen, would be the beginning  of a bleary-eyed, head-aching, and stomach-churning day. (And the end of the 15 year chip due me at the end of November!)

And as much as I would like to calm the politically intriguing questions I have and assuage the  pessimism-born anxieties of this night, I want to be as alert, focused, and aware tomorrow as my ADD, informationally-overloaded mind will allow me to be.

It’s a tension filled dichotomy for me right now. I am optimistic about Obama’s polling numbers, genuinely inspired- even profoundly moved- by the dedication of my children and so many other young adults who have worked so hard for Obama on so many levels, and I celebrate the incredible mind-opening that has happened among many millions of people regarding race in this country.

The politics of race is, as of this election,  a dead dinosaur. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! But the beast has just died. It is still kicking in the throes of death and there is the horrible stink of rotting flesh still to come. That’s why the rubber band of my nervous system is about to snap. That’s what I would artificially be loosening tonight with the too-often-thought-of half a fifth of Beam. I can’t/won’t do that (don’t worry!).

So I will watch the returns tomorrow night in a hope I have allowed to grow faster than is normally good for me. I will pray that a majority of undecided voters in the light blue and light red states will feel the Image of God pulsing in them tomorrow with greater urgency than the viral human disease of racism when they stand alone in the polling booth.

And I will remember this poem. Lines from it pop into my mind with frequency of late, as I battle with the demons of hope, and anger, and speculation that this long campaign have caused to be more active in me than usual. “Ozymandias” was published in 1818 by the poet Percy Shelley. It is about the transitory nature of civilizations, human power, and human identity.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

About half of us believe tonight that it is imperative that McCain be elected president of the United States tomorrow. And a little more than half of us (I hope!) believe the same about Obama. But, taking the long and sometimes necessary view, we must realize and accept that a thousand years from now, their names and our names will not be remembered. And while some of us humans believe we will be walking for eternity on the golden streets of the New Jerusalem while others of us believe we will be spending eternity in bed with forty virgins, the reality of our physical and wordly existence says that the dust of earth will not only be blowing over our long-obscured graves but that, in fact, we will be part of that dust!

The knees of the known world bent in unison at one time, at the mere mention of Shelley’s Ozymandias. His name, breathed in fear and heard in trembling, was an eternal, everlasting to everlasting name! But time, but time, but time…Time always has the final say. No matter how loudly we shout them and no matter how deeply we engrave our names or the names of our heroes in temporal granite, the winds of time, filled with the buffeting dust of our ancestors, will eventually blow those names away. Along with the civilizations they rode in on.

Oh my, how I look forward to tomorrow evening! But, hopeful or despairing as the evening turns out to be, I must be aware, as a part of an always-continuing Creation, that “the lone and level sands stretch faraway.” This, too, however good it is, however bad it is, shall pass.

Trepidations

Rose shouts to boot: Please don’t stomp me into the flat shape of your sole!

Water says to bucket: Allow me to remain in my Sea-Mother’s arms!

Cicada pleas with rain: Don’t wash me from these soon-gone heights!

Death begs sunshine: Allow me to never remember your warmth!

Heart bargains with heart: If you imprison me, then lose the key! 

We are afraid to lose our footing, even as we want to fly; we desire to forget ourselves, even as we turn toward our name; we have faith in what we see, but long to jump into the abyss.

We are intoxicated on dichotomies, strung out on choices, and utterly dependent, as we lay in the gutter, on the presence of Another to help us rise again .

Lose the key.  

by: me

My Poetry Awards begin to roll in..

Special Announcement for all you nay-sayers, doubters, and s0-called critics!

See??? I was right! I knew my poem Kitty, Kitty, Kitty was worthy of real acclaim. These people- Poetry.com– know good poetry when they see good poetry. After all, they have a website dedicated to finding metaphorical wheat among the literal chaff that thousands of would-be but woefully untalented bumpkins submit to them every day.

The Real Thing stands apart from the riff-raffian attempts of pretend poets- and Kitty, Kitty, Kitty is the Real Thing!

Thank you, Howard Ely. You are a great man- the kind of man women dream about and the kind of man other men want to be. I humbly accept my ranking as one of your companions in composition- one of your poetic peers.

(Howard, When you send me my exclusive certificate- the one that is “beautifully typeset on archive quality vellum and mounted on a walnut-finish plaque under Lucite,” please get my name right. One of your screw-up underlings has called me “Audrey Hamilton!” Please, I know you’re embarrassed, but no apology is necessary. All of us manly, exceptional  poets understand how difficult it is to find good help these days, what with leaky borders and the dismal SAT scores so  pervasive in these drug-drenched times.  Why, just the other day I was at a McDonalds and requested some lemon curd for my pancakes..you’d have thought I was a space alien the way the young man behind the counter looked at me! “Dude,” he said, “what freakin’ language you be talkin’ in?” That’s what I’m talking about! And it’s WEBER with one B. Bless you, sir.)

Now..here’s the proof, my doubting Thomas friends:

Poetry.com Header

Dear David,

Recently, I was delighted to inform you that your poetry merited an invitation to participate in The Best Poems and Poets of 2007. Because your work displayed an original perspective and unique creativity, judged to be the qualities found most in exceptional poetry, we wanted to include you in this select group of poets. Congratulations on your achievement!

Commemorate Your Inclusion In This Exclusive Collection!

To be selected as one of the Best Poets of 2007 is a truly remarkable achievement. Your work is included in the same discussion as the greatest poets of our time, and you should be extremely proud of this accomplishment. We are offering a limited edition certificate plaque that commemorates your poetic milestone. This exclusive certificate is beautifully typeset on archive quality vellum and mounted on a walnut-finish plaque under Lucite. These 10 1/2-inch by 13-inch plaques are truly impressive ways to exhibit your poetic achievement.

The Best Poems and Poets of 2007


Poetry Best Plaque 2007

We hope that you will take advantage of this limited-time opportunity. Act now and commemorate your achievement with a beautiful plaque that you can proudly display for all to see! Again, congratulations on being named one of the Best Poets of 2007!

Sincerely,
Howard Ely Signature
Howard Ely
Managing Editor

God’s Love 3

It’s one thing to talk about it in church

with others who will agree with everything

that is being said about it that day.

And who will be reminded how good it is

for those around them to learn more about it,

and be better people for having done so.

It’s inspiring, to say the least.

Where are we going for lunch today?

But it’s quite another thing to watch

God’s Love

gather in the corner of his beloved’s eye,

drop onto her cheek,

and trickle down to her top lip.

When that happens, you can see

prayers being answered with

his Kiss.

God’s Love

My guess is that

God’s love better resembles a stack of pancakes with

slathered butter, and soaking in Aunt Jemima’s syrup,

than it does the

the horrible slaughter of his own daughter by Jephtha*,

or God’s allowing the ten children of Job to die,

just to win a bet. **

Pass the strawberry jam, please.

*Judges 11: 30-40

**Job 1

Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

Have you ever looked at any of the many Poetry sites on the Worldwide Web (aka The Information Superhighway)- the ones which promise you the chance to Win Prizes! Get Published! Be Famous! Meet Other Poets! ??

I look at them from time to time and, yes, I do so for all the wrong reasons. While I love really good poetry, and even play in that dangerous abyss myself from time to time, I also am fascinated by really bad poetry, too. Call me a rhyme and rhythm masochist, if you will.. I’ll love thee still, on yonder hill, ‘tween rock and rill, it matters nil.

So, I will occasionally, for the sheer joy of seeing myself digitally published, yet again, submit purposefully ludicrous, profoundly awful poems to these sites just to see if there is anything too foul for them to accept. Answer: there isn’t.

I am always soon invited to share my “inspired vision” and my “touching, heartfelt thoughts” with others by ordering a special volume put together by the editors of the particular site, in which they’re “excited to include” my most recent drivel. It will only cost me $59.95 (plus s&h) to own a personal copy of my own. And additional copies for friends and family may be ordered for $49.95 ! (“You’ll want to share your accomplishment with others!”)

Here’s my most recent submission. I was inspired to name it “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty.” I was offered the opportunity (for $39.95) to have this piece put on a specially-crafted plaque, with the the font of my choice! They even included a picture of said plaque, so here it is. You have my permission, if you are so inspired, to copy, cut, paste, and glue a facsimile of your very own. You might want, after all, to share my accomplishments with others.

poem kitty

I’ll let you know when the anthology is published; I have a feeling they’re going to choose this one for inclusion. If you want to send me the $49.95 now, we could be right at the front of the line. I’ll even autograph those copies which are pre-ordered.

 

         THE SECOND COMING

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

            …W.B.Yeats

Stillpoint

 

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where the past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

— “Burnt Norton” by T.S. Eliot

There are stillpoints in life, not just in dance.

In one of those truths that can change the way we see everything else, in fact, it is all stillpoint. This moment contains within it, everything we are, have been, and will be. It is the culmination of our experience and the beginning of everything.

It is the one place that God can touch us, hear us, speak to us. To be still- not waiting, not remembering, not anticipating- but to be still and open and listening and allowing the Light that is in everything to shine through us.

For a moment.

And then, only then, to begin the new dance.

degas2  

Dancer on Stage- Edgar Degas

 

Just Thinking

Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.
No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
for awhile. Some dove somewhere.

Been on probation most of my life. And
the rest of my life been condemned. So these moments
count for a lot—peace, you know.

Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one
stirring, no plans. Just being there.

This is what the whole thing is about.

—William Stafford