Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Sunset

There before your golden ember
I could easily remember
Ghoulish-faced trick-or-treaters dancing
Behind great bags and hopes a'prancing
On the eve of stark November.

Pumpkins sodden as they were
Original reasons now a blur
With faces carved in frightful laughter
Down from under the harvest gathered
To strew the way with garish mirth.

Yet there in Mama's kitchen stands 
A cook who's baking pies by hand
No trick could muscle such a treat
Of Golden brown and spicy sweet
She's made it known her pumpkin's plans.

And long October's night in walking
Toward a town were bravely stalking
Three autumn youth forsook the rest
In hopes their bounty would be the best
The fear of silence would stoke the talking.

Afar a howl is suddenly heard
Against the other's limbs they gird
A rustle, scratch, and frantic beat
That trips the other's toes to feet
It's just the owl - October's bird.

A raucous laughter surely followed
The afore-felt stomach swiftly swallowed
By visions of werewolves suddenly loosed
And fresh wolf bane and slashing tooth
Three tales of stardom now drilled hollow.

So, what? The booty's now in reach
The jack-o-lantern beckons each
You ring the bell, I'll knock instead
We'll gorge on cookies and ginger bread
And cider to quench the thirst we've breached.

Then wearily trudging home at last
Tomorrow's feast a school day's fast
And lunch will be an afterthought
Of jelly beans and juggernuts
And specters in the looking glass.

The kamikaze truckers wheel
At home the dealers freedom steal
Adrift in circa '86'
The bogeyman now needs a fix
Dear Halloween has gotten a chill.

The apple, once a student's lark
Its exciting crunch vitality's mark
Now cyanide and strychnine laced
Razors mar the waxen faee
A terrible hoax does grace the dark.

And children look about in fear
Unknown to them the witching year
For Easter eggs are now unsafe
And devilment has Christmas' place
An aging baby now appears.

And like a prodigal, lonesome member
Lost among the thickened timber
Days like dinosaurs ruined and buried
Tomorrow's goblin now miscarried
I'm drawn so to your dying ember.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Afghan Elephant

For all of our efforts in Afghanistan - the monies spent, the young lives lost - in the end, we will have accomplished very little. Afghanistan careens toward its own inexorable destiny with or without us along for the ride. That is all we do, you know: we are being taken for a ride.

Every nation seeks its own destiny, consciously or unconsciously  We cannot change that about Afghanistan; we can only interfere. Certainly, we can influence the course of a nation - for better or for worse - but that influence is equivalent to how a drought, or a flood, or an epidemic might affect a nation's arc. It is temporary - perhaps tangential - but nonetheless, single element in the otherwise unpredictability of peoples. No nation knows where it will be 100 years from now, including the U.S.  Each nation will be affected by natural and man-made disasters, by great and terrible citizens of its own, by time. 

Afghanistan is like a large elephant; our soldiers are like fleas on its back. They will make little difference in that elephant's course. Many will be thrown and end up with broken arms and legs; many more will be crushed. 

In the end, America's politicians - the president, et al - will call our boys home. And they will begin a dangerous dismount, even as that elephant continues his jaunt across the Afghan plains. (He will not stop.) Still more young Americans will die while getting off. 

Afghanistan's elephant has been running for a thousand years. America's elephant has been running for half as long; it runs a lot faster. It could be that the Afghan elephant will run for another thousand years. He may be running even after America's elephant has died. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Scared to Death

At 51 years of age, the actor, Michael Clark Duncan, cleared his refrigerator of $5,000 worth of meat and became a vegetarian. Three years later, he is dead at 54. Pass the ribs.

I do not mean to make light of Mr. Duncan's death. He was a good actor, and from all accounts, a good man. But only a joyful meat-eater would have had $5,000 worth of meat in his fridge. What or who could have scared him so that he would suddenly go cold turkey, and then go over the cliff?

We all die. But do we all live? Fear is not living, folks. Fear is hanging onto a life that you are afraid to live.

To have lived a long life does not mean you have lived a good life. In some cases, it only means that you have held on tighter; you didn't let go. But, it is that zeal to hold onto life that never allows us both hands to grab in life what truly matters.

Let go, man. Life does not love you; neither does death hate you. (They are both indifferent.) Embrace in life that which gets your juices flowing. Grab with both hands that which makes you feel alive.

Since MCD loved meat so, would it have been so bad to enjoy a morsel - a steak here, a hamburger there, a slice of bacon - in moderation? What does a long life profit a man when it is filled with fear and deprivation?

In this world, there is a doctor for, and against, everything. You like ribs? Somewhere, there is a doctor who will cheer you on. You like chocolates? I will be your doctor-for-a-day and order you to have a chocolate-covered cherry, now!

Mostly, I would say, "Be happy." It is no sin. Happiness is the gift of gifts. It is not meant to be had daily, and all day. But, at certain moments - when you've earned it - it is that thing that elicits a life-affirming "yes."