This poem was rendered to meet today’s dVerse challenge offered by Paeansunplugged from Delhi. We are to write about the good and evil in mere mortals, the good in evil and/or the evil in good. For me, at no time is that enigma more profound than in times of war and battle.
One story I’ve never told,
if evil were evil enough,
if good were good enough,
I would simply tap a secret reservoir of courage…
but courage, too, has finite quantities,
yet it offers hope and grace to the repetitive coward.
I can’t fix my mistakes.
Once people are dead, I can’t make them undead…
killing and dying are not my special province.
Am I too good for this war?
Too smart, too compassionate, too everything?
I’m above it. It’s a mistake, maybe.
Look both ways at good and evil or take Hamlet’s advice and think it so.
Mind the gaps between and within our perceptions of what is better and what is truth.
Okay, boys and girls and everyone:
come close—closer—and listen to this.
The odds against us, you, or me,
being viable, of being born, of living on for years,
make it nearly impossible
to have happened at all. Statistically,
the chances that any of us exist is virtually zero.
Therefore, god or no-god,
each person living is by definition
a feckin’ miracle. Existence is miraculous.
We are, each of us, marvelous.
Let’s start acting like it.
Congratulations! Here. Have a cigar.
Look both ways and take in all that is seen.
Mind the gaps because in the game of existence,
their enormity is incomprehensible.
If you are interested, click here to read all about your chances of being.
And, finally, a bit of music: “Have a Cigar” (Pink Floyd) as covered by Elephant Revival.
For the last full day of global top-half summer, our waving but unwavering maven of history’s mysteries, Rochelle, has boxed-up a deal with Alicia Jamtaas. That duet has flat-out challenged our fictioneer muses to contrive artful `songs or stories of fewer than 101 words. I don’t think titles or postscripts count, lest she DQ’s me.
Click any box, bike, or item in Alicia’s photo and UPS will pick you up and creatively deliver you to Rochelle’s post of purple passions to open the what-ifs and where-how’s of joining the fray.
Genre: Murderous Mystery
Title: Friends in Low Places
Word Count: 100
“You didn’t have to shoot him, Bill.”
“His last bad joke. My gun’s in the blue-handled box.”
“Nothing’s priced. What’s up behind the curtain?”
“Porno auditions. You should try out.”
“Focus, Bill. We need that damn gun. This shooting people over jokes needs to stop.”
“It wasn’t the joke. He was an asshole and an organ donor. I made the world a better place with one shot.”
“Oh? HE was now? Okay. We’ll pick up what’s left at the morgue tomorrow. She wants a grand for the box. She must know.”
“Well, crap! Ask her if she’s an organ donor.”
Look both ways to make your world better.
Mind the gaps, especially in murder plots.
“Remember what the dormouse said, feed your head.”
Since the American government still had an active conscription/draft system, I enlisted during my senior year in high school (1964). I eventually went to college after four years in the U.S. Air Force, which would later result in my first of three closely related “career” choices.
In May of ’66, I married Yolonda. More than half of our first two years together were spent as 20/21/22-year-olds living and working in Ankara, Turkey. I was not sent to Viet Nam. Happy Honeymoon.
I started college in September of 1968, as one of what would become known as Vietnam Era Veterans. I registered as a sophomore transfer from the University of Maryland, Overseas Division.
The Viet Nam War was raging and nearing its high-point years. LBJ was about finished. The Tet Offensive had hardened much more of U.S. public opinion against the war. While not ambivalent, I disagreed with both sides of the argument at that time. I was confused, as were many Americans. I had two short term goals: graduate and get a job. Yolonda was the Brazos County Attorney’s Secretary at the time. Every cop in the county knew her.
We lived in “on campus” student housing. Our “home” was a small one bedroom, one bath, unairconditioned apartment in southeast, central Texas. We eventually bought and installed a window a/c unit.
The campus library was my retreat, a place to read, study, and to people-watch. At the time, everyone exiting the building was forced to have their possessions searched to prevent theft.
One evening, Yolonda waited for me at that library while I was part of a psych department research study. I found her waiting in our car. She asked me if I would know if my penis was exposed out of my pants. She had been cock-flashed by a student employee. The perv got busted, and we’ve been sharing the experience for fifty-plus years. They are everywhere.
I’m writing this while sitting comfortably, sipping coffee, and eating a pastry from my public library’s coffee bar. These days book checkout is on the honor system, and nobody is searched.
I still like libraries. I am not a prodigious reader, although I read every day. Libraries are strangely comforting to me even though everyone has access to the facility, library card or not. Libraries are what they are and do what they do. The same is true of people.
My first library from childhood was in an old, mid-19th century, church building and still is. I also like old church architecture. Maybe there is a reason for my library/church juxtaposition of interest. I recall no pervs in the stacks from back then, but if those books could talk… (wait, we have talking books nowadays.)
It seems like it began for this boomer with the assassination of JFK. My first ten years after high school, the sixties, and early seventies, were a coming-of-age time for me and a tumultuous period in American History.
More than fifty years later, I still like to sit in libraries and write, read, search for books, people watch, and sip coffee. I may ponder what others say or claim. I think about how differently we all see the world and each other.
But at this point in my life, I really don’t give a shite what anyone thinks of me, except for Yolonda and our three middle-aged kids; less so, a few teeny-bopper or early 20s grandkids.
So far, I think I pass muster. Sort of.
Look both ways for what is right. Arguing does little good.
Mind the gaps lest they become crevasses of civil division.
Find your tribe and take a side. Keep trying to understand.
Support public libraries, not book bans or burns.
For mid-September, our fantastic Mistress of Friday Fictioneering fantasy, Rochelle, poked us with the picture of Pincushion Hakea flowers provided through the good graces of Trish Nankeville.
The lovely photo inspired my memory, and I considered a quote by Henry David Thoreau that Rochelle has posted on her blog in the past, it’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. Some say it was written as, “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” (From the essay, “Walking.”) Whatever—close enough. What you see is a good theme.
I’m fascinated by the work of people who see around us the things I miss: the artists and photographers who’s work I often borrow to enrich my world. Through their art, I get to see what they see: a lovely natural world.
Click on Trish’s photo of the red pincushion flowers to be transplanted into Rochelle’s blog where you can learn how to set your roots into the Wednesday, Friday Fictioneers writer community.
Genre: Autobiographical Fiction
Title: Thoreau’s Pincushion Hakea
Word Count: 100
We walked the path near the lake. Jay was a talented amateur photographer who did all his own film processing.
He said, “It’s like hunting. Look there. What do you see?”
I replied, “Weeds and stickers.”
We knelt and he spritzed water on the weeds.
I looked. “Wow. I didn’t even see the flowers much less that spider’s web. Now it all glistens.”
He said, “Everything is a subject or a scene. I use other things, lighting, angles, and point of view to enhance it. I do more in the lab. It’s the beauty of nature artfully staged.”
Look both ways. What you see matters.
Mind the gaps for the hidden fruits of nature’s beauty.
I returned to your place of business, like I said I would.
A clown-man there told two jokes. At first,
I glared at him to the silent end. The other
I interrupted so I could give you my coffee order.
I allowed him to finish. I again stared
before telling him his joke was unfunny and that his
comedic skills were woefully lacking behind his
overflowing obnoxiousness. Was he your father?
You would not take my money. He paid.
I sat quietly, typed my poem, drank the
Americano and chewed the muffin.
Now I wish I hadn’t. You
did not look at me or say another word. Then,
Sorry. Henceforth, the city library
has much more to offer and
better silence, too. No jokes.
Is Divinely Beautiful your real name?
Tell your father that my low opinion
of him has declined and my vote
is not for sale.
No apology necessary.
Look both ways but think on your feet.
Mind the gaps of silence when the wind passes.
‘hello-‘ello! C’mere, lad.
I hope you’ll be keepin’ well.
It happens every year
after a wee bit, a donnybrook
somewhere near here,
sorry now, so
me shillelagh’s swingin,
callin’ fer bacon.
Not well then are ye?
wackin’ the cod,
wi’ narry a nod, nor a bandage
or pad to be had.
T’ank you for feelin’
brave to go, smart to not.
Look both ways on whisky drinkin’ festival days.
Mind the gaps at the tube and lads at the pub.
The annual Donnybrook Fair near Dublin included fiddlers and dancers, but it was best-known for the frequent eruption of whiskey-fueled fighting – often involving heavy clubs known as shillelaghs. “Bacon” is Irish slang for police and “cod’ for fool.