31 December 2012

Magpie Tales 149: Smoke and Sand

Image by R.A.D. Stainforth, via Magpie Tales

It is curious, this last day of the year. An otherwise unremarkable date, gaining meaning only through the arbitrary imposition of calendars on the passage of universal time. I set down the last cigarette, the one I will not smoke, to gaze undisturbed through the feathery glaze of ice befogging the old window glass. The panes are thin. They do not so much keep out the weather as restrain it from overrunning the interior of the cottage. I have replaced many in the years my bones have held court here by the sea. The number of original panes is somewhere south of twenty, out of how many I cannot tell. The ancient ones betray their history through the tiny bubbles trapped in the vitreous humor of the windows. I amuse myself some sunny days by watching the little gray shadows of the bubbles track across the table and the floor. The glass is flawed, some may say, but fulfills its nature in spite of an imperfect beauty. As perhaps, do I.

I sigh. Cool air smelling of salt and Chinese tobacco fills my lungs on the uptake. The two rooms of this, my one-man abbey by the sea, have carried this aroma for decades. For some reason, this surprises me. Again. I shake my head and breathe on the windowpane. A clear ring opens in the frost, tears of ice melt forming runnels down the glass. Through this impromptu porthole I spy the breakers pounding the beach. "My very own camera obscura," I say to the silence of the room, and the idea brings a smile to my cracked lips. Wincing, I run a finger over my bottom lip; it comes away clean and dry. The whoosh of waves echoes the little sigh of relief escaping my mouth. No blood this time. This is good.

The spot on the glass begins to fog over as the wan heat from my earlier breath dissipates. The ocean beyond distorts and ripples, gradually becoming more of an idea about waves and less of a concrete reality. The effect is not unpleasant, akin to that diffusion of thoughts and images that occurs in my mind often as I drift off to dream. Dreams, anyway, on those occasions where I am blessed by Caer Ibormeith to have them. Thoughts of Celtic myths haunt me almost every day here by the ocean; I chuckle ruefully to think that too often these nights it seems only goddesses or medication can carry me to the isle of sleep. I much prefer goddesses.

Wind moans gently around the eaves of my cottage. I hear the susurration of sand across the glass. Shivers track up and down my spine. The sound joins with the groanings of the breakers and my mind is seized by the absurd idea that the ocean, or someone in it, is attempting conversation. Or calling me to join them, there under the cold gel of the sea. My thoughts again drift to my Celtic past, the salt tang of which flows in my veins, pushing and pulling on my heart in tides of blood. Crazily, I think it might be Manannán mac Lir calling to me in the froth and flow of the iron-green waves. Perhaps, perhaps.

The makeshift lens of breath and heat is rimed over. Winter grips the beach here on the headland, and I am weary of constantly feeding the timid fire that smolders on the worn bricks of the hearth. I don't burn peat as much as I used to; nowadays it is more likely to be hardwood when I can get it. Burns brighter and hotter, although I reckon my tea tastes not the same as it might from a kettle kissed by a peat fire. But I haven't risen from my chair in what seems hours and the cottage is growing cold. The hearth seems far away.

I rub the glass again. I want to see the waves, the spray. They glisten in an unexpected shaft of sunlight that lances through the sullen pewter sky. Unbidden my hand creeps toward the cigarette I said I wouldn't smoke. My other grips the worn chrome lighter that belonged to my father, and his father before him. Yellow-blue flame flares into existence, lighting up the thin cast of my face reflecting momentarily in the window glass. The flame extinguished, my face vanishes, leaving me to gaze through a widening hole in the frost.

I breathe, I listen, my lungs fill with smoke and sand. It is the last day of the year, I have been told, and if we are blessed, tomorrow the sea and I will carry on as usual.

19 December 2012


The old soul wearing a middle ground body sat in preternatural calm, on warm rocks with the cold sea lapping at his feet. He thought of currents, the Gulf Stream and Humboldts of the world caressing his legs with soft whispers of presences in the deep. His jeans were three shade of indigo dissolving into the restless water. There were barnacles, scratchy.

For the first time in his life the gelatinous fingers of seaweed entwined about his toes failed to make him shudder. This was new. Perhaps a sign of new things to come. A sea change, he thought. The idea brought a smile to his sunburned cheeks.

Sea change. Yes. The old soul reached up to adjust the salt-rimed hat that crowned his head. The hat was old, its fabric soaked with memory, and with pretensions to being green. He snugged it down, and pulled his windbreaker a little closer in. The argentine sun was high up in a sky that defined cerulean yet it offered little real warmth. Wind and water saw to that.

Still, he kept his feet where the breakers could touch them. The water was cold, but felt good. In its own aqueous way it felt like a blanket the old soul used to have, back when he was a boy and the world was new. The water rose and fell, inducing the tide in his veins that swelled to spring tide in his heart.

He sighed. waves gurgled and hissed among the rocks. The leading edge of the water slowly edged backwards away from him, and quiet fell along the shore. The old soul looked up. He expected that seventh wave to come roaring out of the sea, and if his eyes didn't deceive him, there was a big swell eating the horizon. His teeth flashed in the sun. Salt air filled his lungs, and he knew.

Sea change, yes. It was there. It was coming. As a younger man, the sight of such a swell would have sent him running up the beach. But not now. He laid his hands in his lap, mind filling with nothing, waiting to embrace the wave that would surely sweep him off the rocks.

17 December 2012

Magpie Tales 148: Through the Front

photo by Andy Magee, via Magpie Tales

Worrying about the drive,
you play a zero-sum game
Turn your attention front and center
to gaze the rain-slick track you ride

Low radio murmur is no sin
Songs offer their own warm company
to those bursting through the front,
Wheels like pigeons wayfinding home

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very different creation from that of my first impulse. That first impulse was a story, not blank verse, and it involved elements that, in the light of recent tragic events, were too visceral and dark. I owe a debt of thanks to Tess Kincaid, whose Magpie Tale I read before I wrote my own, but after I had that first inspiration. Because of that poem, because of 'dreich', because of rain, I made something from light. Thanks be to quantam entanglements and thank you, Ms. Kincaid.

16 December 2012

Guard the Flame (Sunday Meditation #26)

Chimneys without caps,
Our brightly burning fires doused
Deadly metal rain

15 December 2012

Broken Voids

December 14th, 10:27 PM. Vile headache from parsing news of the latest horrific gun violence tragedy. Rain falls, and thoughts of bed beckon me.

There comes a time where the left and the right, the liberal and the conservative, the 'must-control' and the 'cowboy militia' crowd simply must cease to talk, blather and yell.

They simply must be silent...unless they want to join us devastated human beings in a scream of volcanic anguish that surely could be heard at the edges of the universe.

Now is not the time to squabble about the deadly tools that usurp our hearts with broken voids. Now is the time for considered reflection, to fill those voids with love.

10 December 2012

Magpie Tales 147: Tara Cognita

Image from The MetaPicture via Magpie Tales

Sailed the seas of her
roaming over black rogue waves
pounding the fearful ego
A bittersweet joke
Lost on Mare timoris,
compass in the heart
Bed, a safe harbor
Her breath, waves lapping the strand
soft hips, map to home

05 December 2012

Sleeping Dogs In My Head

Crash! Clang! Bang the lids
Warbling yelps, claws scratch hardwood
while bastard me laughs

03 December 2012

Magpie Tales 146: Metronomic Incarceration

Object to be Destroyed by Man Ray, via Magpie Tales

Breath frosts rippled glass,
Brown falling leaves, she blinks, sways,
Soul tick-tocks away

02 December 2012

If I Could Speak My Mind (Sunday Meditation #25)

9:54 PM. At my desk, on  the cusp of what I hope to be a good nights' sleep. Poems and music in my head.
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.
   ~ from 'The Second Coming' by W. B. Yeats
Man I've had it up to here
Gear I wear got 'em goin' in fear
Rhetoric said
Read just a bit ago
Not quittin' though
Signed the hard rhymer
Work to keep from gettin' jerked
Changin' some ways
To way back in the better days
Raw metaphysically bold
Never followed a code
Still dropped a load
Never question what I am God knows
Cause it's comin' from the heart
 ~from 'Welcome to the Terrordome' by Public Enemy

I returned home about forty minutes ago, tired but content, from a social event where I got schooled in what in means to surround one's self with beautiful things that make one happy. In other words, Art. All I know is that I stood there admiring some prints, and thought "That is what I want to do. Please."

On the ride home I had a mashup going on in my head, poetry of two widely divergent decades swirling around in my head. W. B. Yeats in a church, sepulchrally intoning 'The Second Coming' intertwined with the staccato baritone of Chuck D. knocking out 'Welcome to the Terrordome'...and I couldn't stop marveling over the power of shadow and light and words. I couldn't help but feel a tad helpless in the face of such talent and skill.

I thought of my cameras and notebooks waiting patiently at home. I wondered, given what is out there and the sum total of powerful art that has been created, if my aspirations to be a shaman (of sorts) are wildly misplaced. I like to think I see things, hear things, that maybe no one else does in those creative moments of mine. But I have much to learn when it comes to pursuing and creating art, of any kind, be it written or visual.

Yeats, Chuck D. and an artist whose name I didn't write down. I can see them on the road ahead of me. I've miles to go, people, miles to go on the road to who I want to be.

01 December 2012

Shattered Tarn: A Love Meditation

November 30th, 9:57 PM. Weary, and thinking about moonlight on the water.

In the absence of wind and aquatic life, a full moon reflects perfectly on the surface of the lake. Casting in a stone shatters the silence and the lunar countenance, silver shards refracting and splintering in the wavelets. Such a sight may upset the peace we seek within ourselves. The perfection, or near-perfection, that the senses lead one to believe is there is gone in that instant. Celestial harmony has been disturbed; we anguish over it not returning.

So we wait. We take small breaths, attempting no movement. The shards merge and separate in a liquid dance plucking at the strings of the mind. We hold on to dimming hope tempered by the realization that the surface of the lake will never truly sit still. It never did. The promise of that reflection was peace and harmony. It was a place in the universe where balance was achieved, now broken. Perhaps this invokes small despair, and we lament a loss.

Sitting on the shore of that mountain lake in our hearts, we gaze upon the moon on the water and think it perfection. We fear its destruction. But our casting of stones into the water destroys the reflection, not that which shines. To lament this shattering is a deceptive path, one that we would do well to avoid. The attachment to that reflection is the shackle of anxiety. The shackle can be broken if we turn our eyes to the sky, and offer thanks not to reflected light, but to the moon.

29 November 2012

"The Smell of Hospitals...

...in winter, and the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters but no pearls..."*

It's been a quiet November, writerly-wise, for me and the cool drought is showing no edges I can see. I don't know how to explain it, dear ones, other than to offer some faint excuses relating to the Stuff and the Things. I am lacking, for the nonce, a certain discipline.

Yesterday was a prime example. I had a long to-do list, most of it Have-To-Do and not Want-To-Do. I'm sure you know how that goes. But in the margins of that list, unwritten but visible to me, was this feeling that I should write something before everything atrophies.

I didn't get to it. That filled me with a cranky melancholy.

So...I took a deep breath of early winter air this morning, which carried a whiff of something I could not place, but knew that maybe I did not want to place. It had a scent of things lost, rounded out with leaf litter and wood smoke.

I am holding my place, for now. I sit at the table while the sun streams through the blinds, and I think maybe it won't be a long December. It won't, if you will join me in holding up a candle or two.

*Lyric from "A Long December" by the Counting Crows

21 November 2012

Hunter and the God

November 20th, 10:34 PM. My bed awaits.

Tonight, I came home from a dinner outing and errands, and found myself standing in the driveway holding a pie in my hands. The air was cool and crisp. I stood stock still, wondering.

Not about the pie, mind you. Apple, if you are curious, and about the size of a large hubcap. A slice will be breakfast tomorrow, perhaps with a slice of cheese.

What had me still was the sight to behold in the sky: Orion rising over the trees, facing Taurus the bull, which appeared to have Jupiter stuck in its horns. I was transfixed, wondering.

God on the horns, beset by the hunter. A metaphor writ celestial, just for me. My maternal grandmother, my G-maw, whispered in my heart. The voice of my brother lanced through my brain and I contracted around a spasm of loss, the point sharpened by the wrinkled  faces of my departed children glowing in the dim light of my mind.

Jupiter, Aldebaran and Rigel wavered briefly, little spikes of light coruscating out from them as I closed my weary eyes. The breath whooshed softly from my lungs. Two heartbeats later I opened my eyes to look back up in the sky. The stars and planet were still there shining down on me and my languid heart.

Just like them. Yes, just like them.

20 November 2012

A Brief Word About America

In the run up to the recent elections, and in the noisy din of its aftermath, there has been much talk by the sore losers that they needed to "take back America" and that they"lost America". Such bloviation angers and saddens me.

America belongs to all Americans, not one ideology or otherwise arbitrarily defined socio-economic-political grouping of citizens.

America is a grand, shared idea. No one gained it or lost it, because it was never theirs to possess.

17 November 2012

What You Hold

In the gauzy web that is the remaking of my life, there has been joy, there has been heartache
and echoes from the past.

Sometimes punctuated by the occasional glass of wine, and good conversation.

During this walkabout of mine the words of Max Ehrmann drifted through the open window of my soul...
With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Some of you will know that is from his prose poem Desiderata, a quiet gem unearthed and polished by Max back in 1927. It has been around, riffed on, maybe cheapened by some.

But the window was open, a heart in need spoke to mine, and all I could see in my head was my hands holding the living, beating core of another. I was filled with humility and need, fright and honor that I was blessed to cup such a thing and that in the moment my sole purpose was to hold it gently, don't let it fall, don't let it break.

One beat. Two beats. A score or more flooding my veins and heart with love and quiet, to know that even in the face of heartbreak and sadness, we must hold on. We must help others hold on.

There is sham, drudgery and broken dreams. But there is beauty to be had, love to be created. Hold on, find the quiet center. Storms will pass and flowers grow, in the golden light shining from our hearts if we let it be.

02 November 2012


I am embarking on a trip today, a 'there-and-back' jaunt, same day service to back east. I was puttering around earlier trying to wrap up the last minute loose ends. I had to remind myself that I wasn't packing any clothes or travel gear...

...except I made sure I had a notebook and a camera.

I feel like I can't go on any travel anymore without one or both of those things. I feel something is missing if I don't have either with me. Will I use them? I don't know. But I'd rather have them and not need them, than need them and not have them. You know that is, don't you? Don't you?

30 October 2012

Heart Achieves Fusion

Bright galactic whorls,
Her fingertips hold my heart,
Lighting up my sky

Dedicated to Wee Lass

28 October 2012

Suffrage (Sunday Meditation #24)

This morning it hit me that it has been less than 100 years (92, to be exact) since women gained the right to vote in this country.

It has been less than 50 years since the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964...
...less than 50 years since the Voting Rights Act of 1965...

...yet there are those who still refuse to believe there is much work to be done.

This election cycle all we seem to hear is "economy, economy, economy"...but still there are those who want to exclude and disenfranchise human beings due to their skin color, sex and/or gender orientation.

In a particularly dark bit of thinking, I couldn't help but think that those who feel their income, personal taxes and the price of gasoline take precedence over civil rights and equality under the law...will always be slaves.

Yeah, it's the economy, alright. But more importantly, now and forever, it's human beings that matter.

22 October 2012

Magpie Tales 140: He Favors Our Undertakings (Wrong New Order)

Image via Tess at Magpie Tales

His laugh rings clear
as cold cash hits the till
hot bullets hit their targets
while our heads find the sand

Thirteen arrows drawn 
Thirteen stars gone nova
Thirteen stripes flay our backs
Thirteen levels we climb

Black sun throne high in thin air
we groan and gasp, finding him: 
Hollow motto, bitter tears, to know
Satan approves of our undertakings 

20 October 2012

Falling Softly

Rasping leaves, soft rain
Passing first point of Libra
Autumn, take my hand

16 October 2012

Magpie Tales 139: Broken Bread

Midnight Snack, 1984, by Curtis Wilson Cost via Magpie Tales

Gunnar set his ruck down next to the worn alloy post holding up the gate. It didn't look much different than when he had left. Gunnar shook his head, reckoning the eighty-three years local time he had been gone was a drop in the bucket for a metal that was supposed to last for centuries. The gates, though dulled by time, were in good shape. Gunnar knew his brother Hallvard was many things, and lazy was not one of them.

"Hallvard's up, I hope," the worn soldier muttered. His eyes misted briefly, picturing Hallvard at the worn petrowood table in the kitchen. More likely than not, there was a block of fragrant gammel ost and a huge loaf of brown bread laying there, chunks missing where the hungry farmer had taken what they jokingly called the "Midnight Sun" to fill his belly. Gammel ost in this case a name, remembered across the gulf of the galaxy and a home soil left behind in the dim past. Gunnar chuckled, mouth watering at the thought of the cheese he hadn't tasted in decades. The taste of home.

His stomach lurched. Decades. Hallvard was certain to be an old man now. The clinics in the city were the best tech that had survived the Passage, but Hallvard was stubborn. Gunnar imagined his brother hadn't set foot in a clinic for a bad tooth, much less than the gene tweaks that would have kept him alive and unworn all these years. Still, the light was on, and that was a good sign. The soldier shifted his weight to his better leg, leaning down to pick up the dusty ruck. A dull gleam of circuitry limned his forearm, shining through the ballistic fabric of his tunic. It reminded him of the cost he had paid to get back, and how good that cheese would taste on a slice.

Gunnar glanced at the hologram clock hovering just inside his right eye. It was a minute after midnight. He stepped forward, pushing the gate open with barely a whisper, striding down the gravel path towards home and broken bread.

14 October 2012

Into Action (Sunday Meditation #23)

Do not take me for a guru. Do not confuse me with a sage. Do not look for answers in my head. I can claim experience, but make no certitudes as to its efficacy. I can, if you will allow, offer this advice.

If in any worthwhile endeavor in your life...
...you see something that needs doing, then do.
...you see someone who could use help, then help.
...you see someone who lacks love, then love.

Always love.

10 October 2012

Giving the Moon

My daughter has among her books a wonderful volume called Zen Shorts*, which has modern takes on three short stories drawn from Zen Buddhist and Taoist literary tradition. I am quite fond of this book, and is she. In the book is a story called "Uncle Ry and the Moon". Tonight as I settled into a nice post-prandial bliss, some words from Uncle Ry floated up from the well of my mind, as I meditated on grace and gratitude.
"Poor man...All I had to give him was my tattered robe. If only I could have given him this wonderful moon."
Uncle Ry uttered those words as he sat upon that hill, missing his last robe that he gave to a thief in the night, and gazing upon the moon. In my recent adult years I have often felt, metaphorically speaking, like Uncle Ry: not having much to give, but wanting to share the beauty I see with others. That attitude is most assuredly a sea change for my emotional/spiritual/interior life, the one I flounder in far too often.

His words came back to me at the end of a very fine meal, that I thoroughly enjoyed preparing for myself and the good company with whom it was shared. This feeling swept over me, not completely unfamiliar but one that in the past I have struggled to name. Tonight, I realized that it was gratitude. Intense gratitude for having made an offering to some people for whom I care deeply. Gratitude for a warm, dry place to share it. Gratitude for the simple yet sometimes hard to grasp necessity of a human connection.

It has been a peculiar difficulty of mine that I often cannot shake this notion that I am Uncle Ry, a simple man living in a spare cottage with not much to offer in the way of material gifts to friends, thieves or passers-by. Yet in the good graces of love and the warmth of a full belly, I was basking in the silvery light of  our own creation. My gratitude flowed from giving the moon.

*Zen Shorts, by Jon J. Muth, a masterful illustrator who also has written/illustrated Zen Ghosts and Zen Ties. Those three volumes are worth having for the watercolors alone, and are perhaps three of my most favorite children's books in my daughter's personal library.

08 October 2012

Magpie Tales 138: Faith and Reason

Sick Woman, 1665, by Jan Steen, via Magpie Tales

No matter of faith
or inhaling miasmas
bar the door on demons

Nosegays block the stench,
laudanum the pains, good doctor,
holding my wrist a sufferance

Begone with your pomposities!
Away with your fineries!
While I wear mine into hell

07 October 2012

Road Fell Away (Sunday Meditation #22)

October 7th, 2012. The Year of My Discontent.

It has been a year since it happened. 365 days around the Sun, back to where I started, only older. One year ago today, I was laid off from my job. The third time in as many years, a trifecta of monumentally dubious distinction. The honor is mine, but I would happy to have not been...graced...by its presence.

The preceding year has been one of growth and retreat, shock and joy, fear and contentedness. It has been singularly fruitless in the furthering of my career as an architect. Never have I expended so much effort in pursuit of work with so little return. The frustration and despondency have sometimes encased me in a portable sphere of emotional gel, on occasion. Thick, sticky and suffocating.

I am learning to breathe for the sake of breathing. Because I must. Because I exist independently of my education and training, my professional obligations and notions of self-worth appended thereto. It has to be that way, because I was myself before the world tried to define me.

Is there wisdom is this struggle of mine? Is there anything to be learned from this equinoctial year of professional disconnection? I hope so. But I cannot tell you yet what knowledge I have gained, my friends. I can tell you this: that moment when the wheels leave the pavement may well be one of the single most important defining moments of a lifetime, even if we don't recognize it.

Driving the straight and open path is easy, and not necessarily edifying. It is what we do when the road falls away that reveals so much more about ourselves. It may be time to let go of the wheel and trust I hit the pavement at the proper angle when I land.

01 October 2012

Magpie Tales 137: Feed We Must

It Must Be Time For Lunch Now, 1979, by Francesca Woodman, via Magpie Tales

October 17th, [redacted]. Nightfall.

J[ink blurred]...you didn't tell me. You didn't tell me when I met you and [redacted] that I would hate her and fall in love with you.

How could I have known? Of course not. There was no way out from behind those blue-grey eyes, looking at and through me. I was caught, from that first moment. The sea over your shoulder a mirror of those eyes. Me, drowning. 

I am confused, worried, that I can't remember exactly where we were. It was Naxos, yes, don't chide me. But what beach? Was it Agia [redacted] or [redacted]? Goddamnit, I am so tired of trying to remember where when I all I want to hold is you, [tear in page]. I feel the heat, the light. I taste the salt on your skin.

[water stains, smudged ink] was your hold on me, wasn't it? Retsina and octopus salad, olives, lemon and eggs. These I also remember, the Aegean on our tongues. You fed my body and drained me soul. You didn't tell me you were a succubus.

I should have known. [redacted] tried to warn me, but I...I thought she was trying to turn you against me. Is that why you followed me to N[ink blurred]k? The nights in the walk-up must have made you question your sanity. It was cold, that fall, and frozen all winter.

But still we ate. The next meal never far from your mind, our mouths. I didn't question you, [redacted], even when the pictures started. It was then that you started falling, drifting away from me. The fits, the nights and days of no sleep. You stopped eating enough, then stopped eating at all.

I have your camera, still. I found it after the funeral. I had no idea, [tear in page], that it would be the last I ever saw of you. All those frames, fog and ink. Except the last.

Were you in the kitchen? You must have been. I recognize the window sill, the dirty window glass. It must have been so cold for you, especially for not having eaten for so long.

I eat still. I cannot stop. [redacted], [redacted], [redacted] have told me so. 

They come for me tomorrow, [ink blurred]...I pray that I will feast on something, even if it is gruel and a stale crust washed down with tepid well water. I must eat, [redacted], because the memory of love will not keep me alive.

You have taught me so. And I must eat. 

[ink blurred, torn page]

27 September 2012

Anarchy in the USA, with Dinner

Some people may have the impression that I am a very organized person.

That I cannot function without complete control.

That I am a liberal.

That I am a conservative.

They may think I am a socialist, or perhaps a closet authoritarian. But they would be wrong, in the main. I am many different things for different needs, and one size does not fit all when it comes to me, myself and I.

What I am, mostly, is hungry. And this I believe has made me, of all things, an anarchist.

You laugh, I know. At least, you chuckled. That statement seems absurd, but contains a kernel of truth. One of the definitions of 'anarchy' is:

Absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as a political ideal.
How about that, my lovelies? My belly tells me it is true. I had been meditating on this idea for a long time, but it was a type of curry, rogan josh, that made it blossom for me. Nothing like putting a healthy dollop of ground spices into hot oil to give one a swift kick in the senses. I was making it last Sunday, and while stirring in the yogurt I had my moment of clarity.

I wasn't exactly following the recipe suggestion on the packet of spices I had. I wasn't exactly following the directions on a recipe I had tracked down from a source I have reason to believe is credible. In hindsight, the only recipe I think I could be said to follow was my own.

This has been true for years. I simply did not possess the clarity of vision to know it. I am a self-taught cook, born out of curiosity (the early years) and true necessity (my fairly recent past), and I know I have volumes to learn about food and how to cook it. I still work on gathering the courage to step into the kitchen and simply cook.

It needs to be done, dear ones. The jackasses have brayed loudly this election year, trying to shame me or scare me into being just like them lest I end up a victim, a fool or in hell. I know I am not the first two, and I believe hell is what you make of it. Bleat loudly they may, but I will never allow my salvation or my damnation to be defined by the prejudices of others.

They will never succeed, because I will always have the freedom to cook what I want.

I can make my pasta sauce with yellow tomatoes if I so desire, regardless of which verses of whatever canonical text are screamed at me. My gumbo will be MY gumbo, and taste damned good, no matter whose buttocks grace the chairs in the chambers of government. No one has, nor will they ever have, the right to tell me what to eat or how to cook it. Ultimately, I hold the knife, I stir the pot, it is my hand that puts the spices in the pot.

This is as it should be, my friends. I need that bit of territory I can call my own; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are grounded in that notion, and they all start within. This is why cooking something for myself is a declaration of independence. The skillet in my hand, the cook pot on my stove, these are my sovereign lands. I'll be honored to share my borders with you, if you find yourself hungry like me.

24 September 2012

Magpie Tales 136: Escaping The Deep End

Flying Down, 2006, by David Salle, via Magpie Tales

Rainer sucked in a lungful of bluish smoke, sighing it out through his nostrils as he rocked on his heels outside the gallery. The cigarette tip glowed like a tiny baleful eye, illuminating his reflection in the gallery glass. His reflection overlaid the poster he was eyeing, the rumples of his clothes giving texture where there was none. Sunken eyeballs, weed-whacker hair and sallow flesh looking ghastly in the sodden oyster light of a hangover Sunday morning. He belched quietly. The backwash in his throat a mixture of gin, diner eggs and something like regret which failed to fade no matter how hard he swallowed.

His head ached. His eyes twitched slowly in their sockets, lead balls in syrup. The mish-mash of images, the riot of color seemed to set up a resonance in his chest and belly. They fluttered in odd syncopation. The stirring in his groin caught him off guard. What the hell? he thought.

He found himself staring again at her ass. Slow realization trickled into his sludgy consciousness. It was her. Her. Again.

"Goddamnit, Morgan, leave me be. You with the look!" Rainer barked at the glass. Shame coursed through his mind, causing him to shiver. Six years, and she still yanked his chains. He rubbed a throbbing temple with a shaking hand. He knew she was still there, red hair and green eyes and that ass, Oh my god her body, those curves, face buried in her hair, hands desperate to pull off her sweater, JesusH she smelled like the ocean, she's a selkie come to drag me out to sea, again and again...

Rainer staggered back from the glass, the warm drops coursing down his cheeks mixing with the cindery rain that began to fall. He wiped his face with a dirty cuff. The bottle in his coat pocket slapped against his sunken chest. He looked down, mildly surprised, and pulled it out. Two fingers of gin sloshed around inside. Rainer swore he heard her voice in the beads of liquor rolling down the sides. His breathing stopped momentarily as he stared at the bottle, then back to the woman on the poster. Back and forth, a sluggish metronome. His trance was broken by a man approaching from down the sidewalk. He had a leash wrapped around his wrist, at the end of which an eager Irish setter strained forward, finding something interesting in Rainer standing there.

Rainer stood up a little straighter, pushing his hat back on his head. He tried to look jaunty as he saluted the dog and owner with the gin bottle. The setter sniffed at him with that goofy look all dim but happy dogs seem to have; the owner eyed Rainer suspiciously and barely nodded in return. He pulled hard, yanking the dog away in such a manner as to suggest they were not really trying to hurry away from the well-dressed hobo muttering into a shop window.

Rainer watched them walk away. The bottle was wavering under his nose, and the urge to open it was so strong his knees came close to buckling. Eyes watering, nose running, he turned back to the poster. He could not tear his eyes away from her face, her hair, her bottom. A loud sob burbled out of his mouth. He stepped back again, raising the bottle in a shaking fist. He drew it back, and flung it as hard as he could at the plate glass window, shouting "Leave me be, damn you!"

To his utter shock, the window burst into a million little pieces. The noise was like a rifle shot combined with the cracking of a bell. The shrieking of the alarm galvanized Rainer into action. He took off running as fast as his trembling legs would carry him, heading for home. Wheezing, coughing, and crying, he kept thinking that maybe, this time, today would be the first day of the rest of his life.

23 September 2012

Boundary Conditions (Sunday Meditation #21)

September 22nd, 2012. 7:31 PM. On the front patio, in the company of a dog. Serenaded by crickets, wind and faint barks from a few yard over. It is reflection.

Well. I see that it has been almost a week since I have administered the purge to my brain. There is no surprise here, but there is a tinge of melancholy. To write sometimes to me is to live. It is to feel. Feel in ways I occasionally have difficulty in allowing myself to experience, or perhaps, understand is the better term. The page or the screen, like the camera lens, affords me a shield and a filter on the world. It allows the parsing of what often seems unparsable. 

I find I am in a bit of a fugue state. Weariness, of the mind and the heart, is blurring my edges and smearing me over the landscape of my existence. Four solid days of work have shored me up and worn me out. This has kept me from the page, from the keyboard. Not for lack of ideas, mind you; I've had quite many. The lack of...ambition? desire? energy? has forestalled my getting them out of my head.

I am bored, fed up with current events, with politics, yet those things have been the fuel for the fires of my mind in overdrive. There has been much to consider, much to say, but two things have (wisely) reeled me in: a desire to free my mind from the attachments of righteous anger, and a loss of appetite for 'pig wrestling' in the social sphere. If I may crib from The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy in "Music and Politics":
If ever I would stop thinking about music and politics
I might be able to listen in silence to your concerns
Rather than hearing everything as an accusation
Or an indictment against me
That sort of describes my state of mind since the beginning of September. My attachments to certain beliefs and states of being had begun to mislead me, down a path of anxiety and negative emotions. And when I say 'current events' I include events not only in the world external to my life, but the one internal to it. Two events in particular have become signal bells in the cluttered temple of my mind.

The first was my visit back east for a long weekend with my daughter. The second was an evening stroll through an arts fair in my new, nearby, adopted hometown of Kansas City. Both made me rejoice, admire and celebrate. Both made me near to weep in humility and inadequacy. It was not until my afternoon break today that I had an inkling of why.

First thing: My daughter is beautiful, smart and luminous. She tests me, pushes me, exalts me. All that without guile or pretense or even true self-awareness. She is a mirror to my soul. It is one I gaze into frequently, when we are together and when apart. In that reflection I see the radiant joy and vampiric doubts that are peculiar to my fatherhood. The total of things I know about being a father is far outweighed by the total of things I don't know about being a father. On this last visit I wondered how I could be so lucky to have her as my daughter, and I hoped that someday she might think herself lucky that I am her dad.

Second thing: I have finally admitted to myself that perhaps, after all, I do have a modicum of skill and talent when it comes to photography. This led me to spend an evening, in good company, strolling amongst the light and sound and creative outpouring that was my first Plaza Art Fair in KCMO. So much wonder, so much beauty, so much expression of the creative urge. My encounters with two photographers induced the same exaltation and humiliation. Both had prints of photos I wish I had taken, from an artistic and a technical perspective. Both demonstrated to me that I have so much to learn about photography. I left the art fair in a slight brown study, which I hadn't quite left this morning.

So it was I found myself on break, leaning back on a bench, swaddled in shade with my head thrown back. I felt myself falling upward, pressured into a state of elastic resistance by the realities of myself and my circumstances. My daughter, those photographers, have shown me I am hemmed in by the knowledge I possess and the knowledge I wish to possess.  

I stared up between the gold-tinged leaves overhead, reveling in the electric blue sky tinged with its dreams of the coming fall. Thus was I illuminated: let go of the fear, embrace the unknown, and step through the boundary conditions of my soul.

17 September 2012

Magpie Tales 135: She Holds the Ocean

Venus and the Sailor, 1925, by Salvador Dali via Magpie Tales

Sinking into her gelid depths
drawn under by aphrodisiac waves
pillowed between gravid curves
pulling me across the rail
swells upon a Mare Libido
into which I fall with abandon
never to be seen again

13 September 2012

Light Switch

What flame will you seek?
When you can't push back the dark,
step outside and own the shadows
when the light is gone

What if those switches disappeared?
The streets cloaked in turbid black
and the curbs become enemies
in your panic-stricken stumbles

Will starlight fill your eyes?
Will it be your blanket
while you mewl into your fist
and dream of electricity?

Incandescence tags the civilized
But our eyes grow weak,
our spines begin to soften
when we forsake the night

10 September 2012

Magpie Tales 134: Dawn Breaks Over the Painter's Head

Breakfast, 1921, Fernand Leger via Magpie Tales

"Care for some more coffee, hon?" said the waitress, her fangs shining in the blood-orange light  streaming through the smeary plate glass of the diner window. Hobson blinked hard, swallowing a lump of dread that the coffee hadn't dislodged from his throat. The waitress smiled, or so he thought, but it didn't reach the eyes of green-gold brilliance set into the silver fur of her ruff and muzzle. Hobson stared at her, eyes watering a little, and tried to convince himself he was not looking at or having a conversation with a wolf.

He corrected himself. It wasn't a wolf. It was a woman's body with the head of a wolf. A very attractive wolf-woman, or was it woman-wolf, the curves of which he had not failed to notice when had stumbled into the Sip 'N' Chew for his morning usual. "Damnit, when did Roxy start with the wolf head?" he thought, frantically trying to respond to her before she got pissed and walked off, leaving no coffee. His mouth opened and closed like a fish cast up out of the tide line. Roxy stared at him, eye arching up in annoyance.

"Uh...eh...more coffee, I guess, Roxy. And what happened to your head?" he sputtered.

Roxy leaned over to pour him another cup, inadvertently gapping her blouse and giving Hobson an eyeful of what he considered to be an ample bosom. He gulped. Those almond eyes of hers bore into him, and he swore he caught a whiff of musky scent, like warm fur in sunlight. 

"Whaddya mean, what happened to my head? My head is fine. Just had my hair cut two days ago, that's all. Jesus, Hobbsy, if you aren't going to finish your eggs, at least go home and sleep it off. Come back when you get some manners."

Roxy spun on a comfortably soled heel to amble back to the counter. Hobson watched her hips sway, feeling a tiny surge of lust, but then shook his head violently in an effort to clear his eyes while holding them tightly shut. Eggs. He forgot he had been eating eggs. He lowered his head, afraid to open his eyes, but cracking them all the same.

His breakfast was nearly gone. Only a small crescent of orangey-yellow eggs lay on the edge of the plate. He recalled it was an omelet he had ordered, instead of the usual scrambled eggs. A few flecks of ragged mushroom bits lay embedded in the crescent. Hobson was puzzled; he didn't especially like mushrooms.

The conversation swirling around him dipped into a lull. Hobson felt a prickling sensation at the base of his neck, that weird feeling like he was being stared at. Which in this case turned out to be correct. Looking up, he saw Roxy standing in the swinging doors leading to the rear kitchen. Her wolf mouth was open, tongue lolling a bit as she talked in low tones with Jake, the fire-plug shaped morning cook in the diner. Roxy was glancing over at Hobson, tilting her head little in his direction. Jake was nodding his head, the shiny black beak dipping up and down as he nodded to something Roxy said. Jake's beady black eyes were looking Hobson over.

The painter nearly fainted. "Raven head, raven head, Jake has a raven head..." the words began looping around in Hobson's head in a maniacal chorus. He must have made a sound, because the other patrons in the diner were all staring to gawk and stare, their faces a menagerie. Hobson stood up, the colors in his head breaking over him in a rainbow wave, and he began to twitch and laugh. The diner swirled around him. As he pitched forward, grabbing his chest, he watched the little crescent of egg coming up fast to meet his face. Just before his chin crashed into the plate, he wondered just what kind of mushrooms were in that omelet he had eaten.

Hobson hit the table, bounced, and fell out of the booth. He landed on his back, shaking and laughing his way into unconsciousness. The last thing Roxy heard him say was "I can see myself before I see myself, and after I see myself, past and future its all in one..."

07 September 2012

Retail Therapy, with Chiles

September 6th, 2012, 8:41 PM. This notion swirling in my head, after a bowl of beans, dressed in shades of cinnabar and rust.

Close to three weeks into my part-time job, dear ones, of being a seller of spices. About time for a status report, methinks. For me just as much for you, it would seem. This is because the retail environment is a very different terrarium than my usual habitat.  I took my emotional temperature on the matter earlier this week. I had a particularly enjoyable day at the store. Stocking, finding stuff, connecting the customers with what they need, what they want and occasionally with something they did not realize they wanted...it was all to the good. This is important. The work is uncomplicated, but important. I mused on that as I drove home after closing. Why did I think that? 

The first thing that occurred to me was that it is important because getting your customer what he or she needs is crucial to survival as a merchant. Even more so is doing it with grace, style and efficiency. Not only connecting them to the particular product, but enjoying the process becomes a matter of pride. 

The second thing was the realization that all of these transactions I was involved with during the day were opportunities to learn something new about someone or something. I am finding it fascinating to discover what people are making with and doing with the herbs and spices and seasonings they come to buy. Talk about a fertile ground! It opened my mind again to the notion that there are so many good things in the world, to be seen, touched, tasted. Listening the short stories people tell is time well spent, I believe.

The third thing, and perhaps the most revelatory of my musings, was the effects on my own physical and mental states of being. At the end of the day, I was tired, but strangely happy. Happy. Being in a store, selling the stuff and the things! How could this be? I'm introverted, people usually wear me out, and sometimes I feel like Forrest Gump when it comes to small talk. So you would think this setup would be the wrong way to go.

Much to my delight, it is not. At least, not so far. I realized that, yes, people do wear me out. I do have to venture outside of my "hamster ball" for hours at a time. But the reasons for that are good ones. I get to solve simple problems, with easily measurable results. I can talk about what people are cooking for dinner (and I so enjoy food and the cooking of it), and for whom they are cooking. And one of the coolest things about the gig: if at any point in the day I feel the need for a pick-me-up, I can open any number of the apothecary jars holding samples of a huge variety of spices or herbs...and smell them, enjoy the colors and textures.

Trust me, there are times where a noseful of basil or oregano or curry spices are just the thing to perk a mind and body up. Lately my new favorite has been this ground Indonesian white pepper that looks a little like fine sand and smells like wine and beaches. So good...

I arrived home, pulling into the driveway to park the car. I sat for a moment in the silence after turning off the engine, wondering why I felt so accomplished. The only thing I could think was that it was retail therapy that is doing me some good. Not the buying of things, but the selling of things that help fill bellies and bring people to the table that have brought me some peace of mind. 

Epilogue: Tonight I made a big batch of pot beans, based on a new recipe newly brought to my attention. The ingredient list is short and simple, just the thing for a day when you don't feel like much fuss. I did make some changes, because I like to ask questions of what I cook. Instead of 2 to 3 dried 'red' chile pods, I used the equivalent of 5 chiles (3 Anaheims and 2 anchos). And instead of leaving them whole, I removed the seeds and ground the peppers fine in a spice grinder. The resulting powder was spicy but not hot, and was beautifully mottled in shades of red. Bricks and rust, cinnabar and iron, painterly shades swirling around in the pot as the beans simmered to full-bodied tastiness. I spooned up the last bits from the bowl, at peace with a full belly and savoring the good things come from this earth.

05 September 2012

Slow Time With Avocados

September 4, 2012, 8:22 PM. Settling in beside the electronic hearth.

Here is the antidote to small anxieties:

2 ripe avocados
1 lime, halved
Minced fresh cilantro, 1 to 2 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic, rehydrated in a very small amount of cool water
Pinch of cayenne pepper (if you like)
Kosher salt, to taste
Potato masher

Cure: Cut the avocados in half, carefully remove pits. Scoop out avocado flesh and place in a bowl big enough to hold it with room to spare. Squeeze one half lime over avocado. Be thorough, squeeze hard for catharsis and to get as much juice as possible over the avocado. Sprinkle minced cilantro into bowl. Pour minced garlic and the small amount of remaining water into the bowl, distributed as evenly as possible. Dust the mixture with the cayenne and a big pinch of kosher salt.

Take the potato masher firmly in hand and give the avocado mixture a gentle massage. Make sure things are evenly distributed, but don't get carried away. A short go will smooth things out and leave just enough chunks of avocado embedded in a pureed matrix of green goodness. Stop. Taste. Add more lime juice, cayenne or salt if needed, to make it your own. Scoop into small ramekins, if you wish, but definitely cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for an hour or so.

Dosage: Pick up a spoon. If tortilla chips are available, take some of those. Crackers work, too. Spoon up some guacamole, or scoop it with a chip. Place in mouth, chew, swallow, and grin. Repeat, feeling the little anxieties of the day melt away. Be content. 

You have just experienced grace.

04 September 2012

Prayer Flags on Everest Cerebrum

Some time ago I discovered the delightful artifacts known as prayer flags, those humble yet amazing pieces of cloth whose purpose came to fill me with delight. Their roots are in India, they blossomed in Tibet (known as lung ta or darchor depending on the style) and somehow ended up flying in the cool winds caressing the Mount Everest of my mind.

It is my understanding that traditionally, the flags are used to promote compassion, strength, wisdom and peace. The idea is that the prayers and mantras written on the flags will be carried by the wind into the surrounding space. Thus, by power of the wind, good will is carried to all. Hanging the flags in high places, especially those with frequent or powerful winds, is considered to be especially effective.

Lately I find myself struggling with the ideas of compassion, strength, wisdom and peace. How to find them within myself, and how to help spread them throughout the world. It seems to me that all of us could use more of each. I am acutely aware of the struggle within myself to overcome the base impulses that led me away from those four elements. I see and hear what is happening in the world and am saddened but also amazed at the feelings created within my head and heart.

I have written "flying some prayer flags for you on the Everest of my mind" quite often in my correspondence with my friends and acquaintances over the interwebs. I don't recall the first time I used those words, but I do recall thinking I was quite clever in my turn of phrase. It has not been until recently that it occurred to me it was more than triteness meant to convey solidarity or sympathy. I mean, it is that, but has also become much more to me.

I know now that I will almost certainly never climb Mount Everest, or even venture into the foothills of that majestic, legendary mountain. My life path and circumstances will most likely not allow it. At one time, that notion made me very sad; I don't have to climb it, but I would love to at least see it with my own two eyes, breathe the cold crystalline air sweeping down it flanks.

At the same time, I know that I may never get to see some of the dear people I consider to be my friends of the electronic age, as much as the notion pains me. This does not stop me from wishing them love, peace, and good fortune in whatever life is serving up to them. So if I can't get to the mountain, I will bring the mountain to me.

The space within my mind may be infinite if I wish it so. I could build cities marching to the horizon, oceans unbounded or invisible forests if I so desired. But with all that is going on in our lives, dear ones, I have chosen to create a shield against the negative energy that threatens us. I am forcing up a mountain range from the tectonic plates of my soul, the anchor of which is this Everest I think has grown from my heart.

It fits there, in the space behind my eyes, a stereo vision overlay on the shared hallucination that is our world. The winds blow strong and swift in the crystalline cerulean sky around the Everest I see. The flanks of the mountain are dotted with bits of bright fabric, seeming almost alive as the flags I have hung for you swirl in their eager arabesques and tarantellas and tangos upon the wind.

Lately my heart has grown weary of the hardness and stone of its typical existence. There are cracks, like those of a shell surrounding a chick. My heart is trying to break out so as to share in this world...to share with you, my fellow humans. In the foothills, I kneel and turn my gaze toward the mountain. In my hands are lung ta, inscribed with prayers and the names of those I know and those I wish to know.

The shadows hang blue upon the valley, dear ones. I fly my flags in the wind. May they bring you compassion, strength, wisdom and peace.

03 September 2012

Magpie Tales 133: Clubbin'

Summer Night, 1913, by Albert Bloch, via Magpie Tales

Bass through the walls
stiletto pinning his brain

through the crystal haze

Coughing crimson in the sink
choking on a younger man's tears
that oil hinges on his door to hell

Clenching a gravid vial of evil
Vitrine holding his soul in thrall
His hand unlocks, breaks the chain

Breath fogs the mirror, he squints
at the raven face smiling back,
mouthing the word "Nevermore"

01 September 2012

Braving the Deep Wood - Where From Here?

A forest of noises, the great green wall within my head. Steam from the nostrils of my horse drifts lazily past my eyes. The sun is just cracking the sky, frost is on the grass, and I clutch the reins a bit nervously while staring into the trees. It is dark between the trunks. A darkness so thick I cannot quit the notion that it never goes away, even in the implacable white gold noon of a high summer's day.

I wrote that bit above a few days ago. My head was full of pressure and noise. That passage is what came out, and I must confess I was slightly disappointed. It started with such promise. It came to a crashing halt as I typed "...day."

The wheels fell off the writing bus. There was so much promise...

I seemed to have abruptly lost the thread. I was banging away on the keyboard, turned my head slightly to look out the window at a passing shadow, and the thoughts vanished like steam into the air.

I had such promise.

The paragraph suddenly became a metaphor for my forays into writing. Burst of promise, bright new idea, the words flowing...into nothing. This is most troubling.

There is something holding me back, dear ones, and I cannot get a grip on it. The specter of unfulfilled potential is shuffling around in the dusty closets of my mind. I am fighting the urge to look over my shoulder.

Specters, my friends. If anyone has insight in how to banish them, please let me know. It is the first day of September and harvest time is coming up soon. I need to be ready to reap what I have sown.

31 August 2012

Between the Blades of Grass

Wrapped in small shadows
Warm green-gold light, scent of home
Rotting peach in my jaws

30 August 2012

On the Abhorrence of Willful Ignorance: A Rant

August 29th, probably about 6:53 AM to ???. A good shower spoiled. A rant, pure and simple. I will leave it as I wrote it, ugly but necessary.

I am tired of being told I don't love my country because I support things like Obamacare, don't support trickle-down economics and think it is a bad idea to gut social programs for the sake of maintaining tax cuts that DO NOT create jobs and pay for wars we should not have started or continually feed the maw of the military-industrial death machine just to prove we are The Chosen Country, more badass than any other supposed badasses out there. Manifest Destiny can suck it. Do we need to defend ourselves? Sure. That is a necessity. But so is treating people humanely and doing our best for as many as we can, and that doesn't mean depriving someone of unemployment insurance so we can go bomb the hell out of people whose countries we shouldn't have invaded to begin with.

I'm fed up with the notion that I or anyone else is a horrible person because we believe women should have full rights to control their own bodies, and not have that right taken away by men or any deliberately irrational individuals or groups who choose to believe in a different religion. I am especially sickened when this assumption that "We know better than you what is right for you" is based on fanciful wishes rather than factual information. "Certain secretions" and gradations of rape do not exist in reality. That supposedly well-educated people believe those things at all, and worse, portray them as reality make me want to scream. That they want to be in power to set laws based on their deliberate ignorance is frightening. As my friend Kellie so eloquently said here

"It's having knowledge (re: power) being legally denied to me for no other reason than because I AM A WOMAN....It's being viewed as less of a person because I am a woman.
Yeah, it's like that. That anyone, especially aspiring policy makers, is secure enough in their own ignorance to think that just because they believe it, it must be true, is scary enough. That they would think they have a right to inflict their ignorance and delusion on others is horrifying. You can have all the opinions you want, that's allowed. But your belief in something in no way gives you the right to force others to live according to your will. This is especially true when it comes to stupid, privileged males (who cannot get pregnant, whether they are raped or just said yes) telling women (who can, and do, get pregnant under all sorts of circumstances) they have no rights to make decisions about their bodies or their pregnancies. I don't want laws based on delusional beliefs, I want them based on facts.

An aside: Hey, Paul Ryan? Rape is not a "method of conception", it is a crime of violence against someone. Rape is rape, and you don't get to side-step it by making the issue about getting pregnant, when it is really about horrible violence. As an acquaintance of mine said, saying rape is a method of conception is like saying "vandalism is a method of redecorating." Rape is a crime, you jerk, and you shouldn't forget that. Also, quit touting your so-called Christian faith when your self-professed hero is a fascist atheist.

I'm sick of being told this is a Christian nation just because the founding fathers happened to be Christians. Take off the blinders, do a little thinking or at least pay attention (oh, my, what ever will they do? Think? That would be too much work!) and you would realize that Americans aren't all Christians, nor are they required to be, nor do they have believe in a higher power at all (Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion; remember the Bill of Rights?). The concept of "God" is not exclusive to Christianity, and Jesus wasn't quoted in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution or the Bill of Rights*. That the word "Lord" appears in the signature section of the Constitution doesn't count, because to say "In the Year of our Lord" was a common way to express dates in that era, and does not even imply belief in all of the people who signed the document. "God" and "Jesus" ('cause if you want to claim Christianity, then you gotta claim Jesus) do not appear at all in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. The word God appears once in the Declaration of Independence, in a curiously written sentence reading in part:

"...the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them..."
Huh? Nature's God? 'Scuse me, but what does that even mean? That doesn't say the God of Christ, or anything about Christianity (actually sounds kind of pagan) other than using the English word 'God'. Know what "Allah" means in English? Huh, do you? Depending on which dialect or branch of Arabic you use, it means among other things "God, Allah, father, the Creator, maker."  How about Krishna? Or Yahweh? Translate those into English and what do you get? You get God!** Also, news flash: none of those documents belong to any specific ideology or -ism. The United States population is a lot more complicated than a Sunday School kindergarten classroom. So shut up about God making us a Christian nation based on three documents that say nothing about Christianity and the Christian God being the foundation of our society.

I am infuriated by the notion that there are those who want to deny basic rights and humanity to some of their fellow citizens by codifying discrimination against them, based on whom they choose to love. Being lesbian, gay, bi or transgender does not render someone a non-citizen or (more importantly) nonhuman. You have no right, morally or legally, to deny rights to someone just because you don't like the idea of men loving men, or women loving women or any human loving another human. As Anne Hathaway so eloquently said, "Love is a human experience, not a political statement." Also, your personal disapproval of same-sex marriages in no way gives you the right or moral authority to deny civil rights to someone. Don't like gay marriage? Then don't marry a gay person! Marriage isn't mandatory, anyway. Remember the Constitution and that Bill of Rights thingie? Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness and all that? Well, your ignorance and bigotry have no right to take away those from anyone else. So shut up.

Speaking of marriage, shut up about the so-called sanctity of marriage. How many times was Ronald Reagan married? Newt Gingrich (Three's the charm, eh? Classy, too, talking divorce with a recovering cancer patient)? Joe Walsh (the obnoxious Tea Party jerk, not the Eagles guitar player)? By the way, Joe, how is that payment of over $100,000 dollars in unpaid child support going? Oh, that's right you spent $35,000 or so on your political campaign, rather than on your kids. You don't get to talk about sanctity or "Defend Marriage" when you yourself have no respect for it. So until you can get it right, shut up about denying other people to right to find their bliss with a life partner.

To beat the marriage horse bloody, let me ask this question: which of the eight or so Biblical definitions of marriage would you have us codify or "defend"? Hmm? Which one? Here's a handy list*** to help you choose:
  1. Man and Woman: Genesis 2:24
  2. Man and Women: Genesis 4:19 - Polygamy! The more the merrier!
  3. Man and his brother's widow: Genesis 38:6-10 - Impregnate your brother's widow. Awesome, until you get to the part where God killed Onan for masturbation instead of impregnation.
  4. Man and wives and concubines: Genesis 20:10 and Judges 19:1-30 - It's good to be the King, not so good to be a wife or a concubine. Yikes.
  5. Rapist and victim: Deuteronomy 22:28-29 - Rape a virgin, pay her dad some silver, call it a marriage. Way to be a role model.
  6. Man and Woman and the Woman's slaves: Genesis 16:1-6 and Genesis 30:4-5 - Double bonus for the uncaring: if the wife is barren, then just knock up her slaves, er, servants!
  7. Male soldier and Captured Woman: Numbers 31:1-18 and Deuteronomy 21:11-14 - Nothing says 'man and wife' like killing all the enemy males and stealing their daughters and wives and making them your own.
  8. Male and female slaves: Exodus 21:4 - What, being property isn't bad enough, you gotta force them to marry? Jerks.
The Bible's definitions of marriage involve monogamy...and polygamy, war, rape and slavery. So don't give me that sanctimonious crap about same-sex marriage (which presumably is based on love, just like hetero marriages) being unnatural or an abomination.

Onward to death tools, er, guns! A few words to the Second Amendment freaks about gun ownership: Shut up about having your lethal toys taken away from you. That isn't going to happen. But the Founding Fathers did not have assault weapons. And you are delusional if you think that having everyone armed is going to make crime deterrence easier. Yeah, so you and your bone-headed cowboy friends are going to be tactical sharpshooters based on a pistol course and a license? Even if you take basic safety courses, that in no way is guaranteed to give you the presence of mind to calmly identify a correct target in a chaotic scene and be able to precisely take them out. If you do, you will be lucky, not skilled. And how in the world do you expect to do that in a place like a dark theater or crowded school campus? Do you not understand the concept of "fog of war" and crossfires? Even the police cannot be so self-assured in broad daylight, as the horrific shootings at the Empire State Building confirm. 

Furthermore, until you can read the Bill of Rights and exhibit understanding you have no room to comment on the supposed efforts to take away your penis substitutes. The Second Amendment says:   
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Read it carefully, jugheads. It's all one clause, and has to be taken in its entirety to make sense. It is in the context of a "well Regulated militia". Or do you not understand how that part modifies having a militia? Also, note the use of the words 'regulated' and infringed. that's important. This amendment says the right to bear arms shall not be infringed because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of the state. Hmm...doesn't the military do that now? Oh, and what militia are you a part of? Hmm? Guarding the state of Buttheadistan? The right to bear arms is supported by the Bill of Rights, but it also does not simply say you can have all the guns you want. So stop whining, go home and make love to your avatars of violence.

Time to wrap it up. I'm getting tired. Parting shot: disagreement with your expressed beliefs or religion or politics does not constitute a war on your faith or your religion or your party. It is disagreement, nothing more. As I stated before , opinions are most certainly allowed in our free-speech society. But to paraphrase Monty Python's Dennis The Peasant, ill-informed opinions are, like strange women lying in ponds distributing swords, no basis for a system of government. So grow up, stop whining and remove your heads from your asses. It's easier to understand reality that way.

Here endeth the rant.

*Conveniently linked for your edification and delight. You're welcome.
**I realize that Krishna and Yahweh and Allah are more complex than are easily explained in a rant, but the fact remains that they are God or a god-analogue. It is the concept of a supreme being that solely belongs to Christians which draws my ire.
***I stumbled across this link, which spurred me into verifying the quoted passages in the Bible I received upon my confirmation. Yes, the website is satire, but the passages confirmed the spoof. And, I learned some new things!