Poetry – City Boy on the Farm

That Summer on the Farm

It was hard work, that summer
filled me with memories
and lessons about life,
living close to nature, those feelings,
a life lived as few city boys knew.

The smell of manure spread on the fields
the milk cow faces up-close to touch
the unlimited number of stars in the sky
first seen by me at fourteen.
Few city boys knew or saw.

The noises of the day, the life,
the tractors, lifting bales of hay
with a hook. The smells, our sweat;
and the taste of fresh raw from-the-cow, milk
and garden peas right out of the pod.
Things learnt, few city boys knew about.

The quiet of an amazingly still cool night,
the sleep of a man who is still just a boy,
the sun in the morning when the cock crows
the waking of nature and all that is life.
Amazing stuff, few city boys know.

The smoke from the fires
the good feeling of hard work finished,
the wait for tomorrow’s harvest and
the craziness of good friends.
Things this city boy soon knew.

The past not forgotten,
the touches, the pain, the
cries and the laughs all
implanted like extra brains in
my heart and my head, parts of me.
Few city boys will ever know.

And there it will stay
till one lucky day — it happens,
I’ll be back on the farm when
I’m finally a boy again, in an old man’s body.
What every city boy knows is true.

©Bill Reynolds

Look both ways in the farmer’s fields.
A man is forever a boy, so mind the gap.

Song Lyric Sunday – New

I Want a New Drug
Huey Lewis and The News

While I was driving home last Friday, I was trying to guess what Helen’s song lyric theme for today would be. It is New (as in New Year).

Some people would mark me a fan of the blue-eyed soul genre. The list of artists who fit that category seem to fill my iPhone. I selected “I Want a New Drug” by Huey Lewis and The News; written by Huey and guitarist Chris Hays. I think this is more of a pop rock-soul dance tune.

An early 80s success, this is what Lewis had to say about writing it:

“I was driving to my lawyer’s office when the idea came to me. I busted in his door and said, ‘Bob, give me a pen and paper!’ I then literally wrote down almost all the lyrics. When we tried to write music to it, we kept missing it. We had a version of it that Mario and I wrote together, but it just wasn’t good enough. One day Chris called me and said, ‘I got it!’ He came to my house and played the lick, and I sang my little lyric and we put it on tape. It was five minutes.”

There was a bit of litigation over the Ghostbusters (you can hear why) issue, but that was reportedly settled out of court.

The words are in the video clip. However, I’ve added text because the fast-paced beat moves them by quickly. The theme is in title, verse, and the name of the band. Three versions of this dance song were released.

Oh
I want a new drug, one that won’t make me sick
One that won’t make me crash my car
Or make me feel feet, feet, feet thick
I want a new drug, one that won’t hurt my head
One that won’t make my mouth too dry
Or make my eyes too red

One that won’t make me nervous
Wonderin’ what to do
One that makes me feel like I feel when I’m with you
When I’m alone with you

I want a new drug, one that won’t spill
One that don’t cost too much
Or come in a pill
I want a new drug, one that won’t go away
One that won’t keep me up all night
One that won’t make me sleep all day
One that won’t make me nervous
Wonderin’ what to do
One that makes me feel like I feel when I’m with you
I’m alone with you
I’m alone with you, baby

I want a new drug, one that does what it should
One that won’t make me feel too bad
One that won’t make me feel too good
I want a new drug, one with no doubt
One that won’t make me talk to much
Or make my face break out

One that won’t make me nervous
Wonderin’ what to do
One that makes me feel like I feel when I’m with you
I’m alone with you
I’m alone with you, yeah, yeah

Songwriters: Christopher John Hayes / Huey Lewis
I Want a New Drug lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

If you’re wonderin’ what to do, look both ways.
Bust into your lawyer’s office to mind the gaps.

Click graphic for link to SLS page.

Merrier Christmas to and from those who do not believe in any gods

 

There are other religions besides Christian. They do not believe Jesus was associated with any god in the same way most Europeans and people of the Americas do.

For most of my long life I have claimed to be a believer in god; specifically, I was Christian. I was a cradle Catholic who went to church, as obligated, every Christmas and Easter regardless of the state of my other church participation. The full story is too long, but I ran the extremes from almost nothing (referred to as ‘practical atheism’) to daily religious immersion and leadership.

From a religious participation point of view, for a time I took Advent and Easter more seriously than I did Christmas. From a cultural Catholic/Christian point of view, Christmas was the biggest deal, followed by Thanksgiving. But now I am an American citizen and atheist.

What does it matter? Well, it should not. My family has celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas for many years. I’m not sure if any of my relatives or friends identify as atheist. But we are a family and those two holidays are all about family to me. For some reason, Thanksgiving seems to be the bigger deal these days. It’s a tradition.

When we moved back to Texas last year, our daughter-in-law said she was pleased because there would be more family stuff during celebration times. My wife decorates our home for most holidays, but not as much as in the past, and we don’t put out any religious items like a nativity scene or other art objects commemorating the birth or death of Jesus.

Around this time each year, I want to clarify my views about Christmas. I have many good memories of Christmas and the holiday season. I enjoy Christmas music for a while, but eventually I need eleven months to recover. I have some on my play list. In fact, religious music is fine. Some of it is great. I love the calm of Gregorian chant. I have written about music and other similar religious things in the past. Just because I don’t do that any longer does not mean that I want it to stop, that I am repulsed, or object. It is fine.

There is one chance in 365 that a male Jewish baby was born on December 25, roughly 2,000 years ago, who was then crucified and rose from the dead. If there was such a man, his date of birth is unknown. Also, in Christendom, celebrating this day as the birth of Christ is relatively new. Some Christian groups still do not celebrate. So, for most of my life Christmas has been kind of a wink-wink religious holiday. But it is a fun time from a secular point of view.

I wish a Merry Christmas to people on the 25th. If someone wishes me a Merry Christmas on some other day, I return the greeting and good wishes. While I prefer the inclusiveness of Happy Holidays, I don’t care what greeting people choose. I doubt if most atheists care, despite all the BS clamoring about wars on Christmas and some objections to verbal acknowledgements. It is not as big a deal as “In God We Trust” or forced prayer.

So, while I admittedly celebrate a secular holiday at Christmas, I do not object to people of any religion or social group celebrating their holidays, if I am not forced to participate or inconvenienced by them. Many of us, non-believers, believers, and everyone in between can do this and appreciate each other. It is the holiday season. If you think me a hypocrite, that’s your choice

I wish you a Happy Christmas Eve, a festive yuletide season, and a wonderful week highlighted with a Merry Christmas tomorrow.

There may not be any gods, but that should not stop us from enjoying life, friends, and family whenever we can.

Bill

Look both ways to see other points of view.
Mind the gaps. They’re everywhere.

Song Lyric Sunday – Season

Helen gifted us with season as the theme for today’s song lyrics. I’ve added an ‘s’ and selected the song Seasons of Love, written by Jonathan D. Larson. I went with the Glee version for the video (lyrics included). With this song, it is all about the lyrics despite a slow start. Hear/read it all the way through (three minutes) to get the complete message. I like it.

 

Look both ways in Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall.
Mind the gaps and happy Yuletide, Y’all.
It is the season for love.

Click graphic for link to SLS page.

Song Lyric Sunday – Girls

Of course! Last week Helen cast the theme of boys. Today, it’s girls (oh hell yes!). I get to show y’all one of my favorites.

Picture me (older n’dirt), my son (40-something) and grandson (preteen), all rockin’ out to one of Opa’s (‘at’s me) major tunes. Here we go:

“Well, take me back down where cool water flow, yeh
Let me remember things I love”

The qualifying hook is the fourth line: “Barefoot girls dancin’ in the moonlight.” (makes Opa smile)

Please enjoy a great video of “Green River” written and sung by John Cameron Fogerty. (Green River lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company).

 

And hey….

Look both ways and mind the gaps, lest you get lost.
“An’ if you get lost come on home to Green River/ Well, come home”
Whoop!!!!

Click graphic for link to SLS page.

 

Poetry: Love Down a Great Stairway

She walked into the majestic hall glowing with womanly confidence,
her body flowing gracefully, moving like a soft breeze across the floor,
all eyes looked as her light summer gown flowed on and off her soft satin skin
as it shed her refreshing scent, filling the air with the aroma of orchids.

He looked up to her as she briefly paused at the top of the grand stairway
as all sounds in the hall ended for him and he felt his heart fill his chest
with brightness and the promise of soon feeling her divinely elegant touch,
as he studied her footsteps gliding down toward him, his desire piqued.

Eyes on her, he rose up without consciousness of his actions, as he left Earth
and entered into a world of enchanted love and impassioned romance,
soon their eyes met and all visions of reality left their unconscious minds,
instantly they were face to face, then hand in hand, and finally heart to heart.

“May I have the honor of this dance, most lovely and pleasant flower?”
“Of course, mon amour chérie. You are the universal eternity I seek.”
The orchestra stopped playing, but everyone heard the heavenly music
of lovers in love as they moved effortlessly, gracefully to the dance floor.

©Bill Reynolds 12/06/2018

Look both ways, but dance arm in arm into the gaps of eternity.

Essay: Thanklessness

Gratitude

Some say it’s the least felt of human emotions. That may be. It seems to be the feeling least written about from a mental health professional perspective. And yet, I’ve read that grateful people are happy people. Are they happy because they’re grateful, or vice versa? I should know because I consider myself one of them.

I am uneasy when people thank me for my military service. While there were days I would not want to repeat; some of those memories are among my best. It was my career – my profession. If people were silently grateful, I’d manage. I used to humbly balk at such comments, but I soon learned to say thank you and move on.

I was walking down a street in Crystal City, VA (just outside of Washington, D.C) with a US Marine Corps colonel. We were headed for a meeting. He was in his uniform, but I wore civilian clothes. As we were waiting to cross the street, an attractive young lady walked up and shook his hand as she thanked him for his service.

After she left, he said, “Since being married, I no longer know how to handle situations like that.”

I replied, “Next time, introduce your Air Force friend and I will take it from there.”

The value of gratitude to our overall mental health is well known. I know of no self-help book that suggests being thankless. Everything from gratitude lists to National Holidays inspire us to be reflective of those things and people we feel have improved our lives.

A Memory

My favorite gratitude story involves the son of my wife’s sister. She had six boys, of which Scott was the youngest. Whenever we visited his family, I would find time to play with Scott. Be it baseball, football, basketball, or some other similar endeavor, Scott and I interacted and played – just the two of us. It never occurred to me, as the youngest boy, Scott’s five older brothers had better things to do. And his father, a borderline workaholic, had been worn down by the first five boys.

Eventually, Scott grew up, got married, and graduated from Texas University. He and Sarah had two lovely daughters. I enjoyed my time with him and never gave it another thought after we had both moved on with life.

Scott matured into a handsome, well-liked, and friendly man. Everyone liked him, despite his reputation as a clever prankster.

On a visit with Scott and his family, he asked to speak with me alone. After we retreated to a private area, he said, “I want to thank you for all those times you played ball with me when I was a kid. No one else did that and I have never forgotten. It meant a lot to me. Thank you.”

By being me and playing with some kid, I created memories for him. Now, my memory is of his expression of gratitude. Within a year, Scott had died of a congenital heart problem. When I learned of that, my first thought was of our chat.

‘Thankless’ Employment

I’ve had some experiences with work-type situations some people call “thankless jobs.” While I understand what they mean, I can never get my brain around what a ‘thankless’ job is.

As an additional part of my real job, I once volunteered to be a Facility Manager for a large building where several hundred people worked. I was paid nothing extra.

A few months into the building job (which my wife titled Permanent Latrine Orderly [PLO], from the movie No Time for Sergeants), I realized that all my voice mail messages were either new problems, or comments about on-going issues related to the building, not my real job. I liked the challenges and the idea that my efforts made a better place for people to work for nine hours or more each day.

I also enjoyed the times people expressed their gratitude to me for doing such a ‘thankless’ job. Even with that irony, I also liked when people sent emails to my boss telling him how much they appreciated what I did. He let me know. One day he introduced me to some visiting VIP as his Facility Manager rather than my real job title. Was that a slip-up, or was it because he most appreciated my building caretaker duties? Thankless? I think not!

Thankfully Happy Few

I admit, as Harvey McKay titled a chapter in How to Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, gratitude is (or may be) ‘the least felt of all human emotions.’ But I also know when we think about it, we are usually grateful.

It’s not a perfect world. We have a fair share of ingrates and thankless souls wandering around. But thankless is the other side of what we ought to be, and most of us seem to know it.

I further admit knowing some who fear happiness. They are normal when complaining or worrying. In those cases, we either simply wait for it, or we speed things up by asking, “How are you doing?”

Their answer is, “Well, let me tell you about it….”

There’s nothing wrong with having an attitude of gratitude and it may even lead to a healthier and happier life. Yet, I’ve known some very happy, but cantankerous old farts who relish the chip on their shoulder. Good for them.

The only thankless jobs are the ones we don’t want. People have been treated for long term depression, only to find relief with a job change. It happens.

And the only thankless people are the poor souls who may be struggling with their own sorrows, problems, or demons.

And isn’t happiness what we ultimately want? I think so.

©Bill Reynolds 11/26/2018

Look both ways for health and happiness. Mind the gaps. They may harbor traps.