Tag Archives: ignorance

The Camp Meeting

“This town needs a revival,” I heard some sure person say
at the supermarket just the other night.
I thought about replying, but instead just walked away;
no point in telling people that they’re right.

There’s at least 50 churches in the just under two miles
between the store my driveway, I think.
It may be old time religion is now coming back in style,
but the water isn’t what we want to drink.

We know we’re headed straight for self destruction;
hell, any fool with half a mind knows that:
we’re dumbing down our children’s school instruction,
and becoming lazy, mean and fat.

“I put my faith in Jesus,” I heard an old-timer say
while co-signing a check down at the bank.
I thought about a comment, but instead just said, “good day;”
sarcasm would have likely drawn a blank.

This town is full of lawyers, and their practices are booked
from now until the final judgment comes
with people suing people, calling other people crooks;
attorney’s fees are quite a tidy sum.

We know we’re headed straight for immolation;
hell, any fool could see the flames by now:
we’re reveling in ignorance and mental masturbation
and evolving into our own sacred cow.

“This town needs a revival,” with a sad shake of the head,
the lady at the market firmly spoke.
I thought about replying, but kept my mouth shut instead;
you can’t fix something you can’t see is broke.

There’s at least 10 or 20 in each church’s parking lot
on Sundays between nine a.m. and noon;
by early afternoon the sermons all have been forgot:
but at least we’re all humming the same tune.

We know we’re headed straight for real damnation;
hell, only a blind fool would disagree:
and all that we can do is suffer through the situation
watching it play-by-play on the TV

We know we’re headed straight down to perdition;
hell, any fool could see the end is near.
It’s lucky that we’re not to blame for this sad world’s condition;
let’s praise the Lord and have another beer.

14 FEB 2007

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If you would have me write of bliss,
exclaiming art mere artifice,
a simple sham designed to fool
the ignorant who fill our schools
with some vain hope of what might be:
quite useless, a mad symphony
that holds no tune, does not inspire,
I say: I will not be your liar.

I cannot speak except my truth.
To turn the curse of misspent youth
from years of folly into gold,
to cower where I should be bold,
to silent, watch your fabric wind
its cloak of death upon the mind;
these things I cannot, will not do,
and call it art to forgive you.

Unless it strains against the mold
to whisper secrets long thought cold
and buried to the modern soul,
unleashes furies thought controlled,
and births the questions best unasked,
there is no meaning in art’s tasks;
despite its pompous, highbrow claims,
it is a cripple: blind and lame.

What madness you would have me fake
to shield from view such a mistake
may fool the senses for a while
with clever tricks, a knowing smile;
and on such palimpsest you may
suppose to write of one true way
by which the world is formed and doomed:
its genesis, its prime, its tomb,

But know true art will prove you false
and throw odd beats into your waltz,
unloose and snap your well-tuned strings
and turn to rust your well-oiled springs.
And then, what good mere words of bliss
to serve you? I can tell you this:
Art’s sword, that you would make a plow,
is cultivating those seeds now.

03 OCT 2006

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Stretched at the Seams

I’m living in a small, rural town again. It may have a university campus smack dab in the middle of it, but face it: Natchitoches, Lousiana is not a center of urban sprawl.

I’ve lived in small rural towns before. Hell, I spent 2nd through 8th grade 15 miles outside of one with a population of less than 8,000 (and even had the audacity, at 36, to move back). I like living in the middle of nowhere, geography-wise, and privacy-wise. But I have to tell you, if I were using either John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Small Town” and Jason Aldean’s “Hick Town” to describe my experience, I’d be a stone-cold liar — although there is a grain of truth in both of these paeans to Smallville. Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” is a lot closer to my truth. Closer even than Springsteen’s “Nebraska”. Maybe country living has changed, though. I said the other day that Aldean’s song seemed to be missing anything about putting M-80’s in mailboxes and tipping cows. And it certainly doesn’t speak to my experience with tractor training, 4H and FFA.

I guess the difference is living outside a small town, versus living in it. There was always a big difference between the country kids (like me) and the townies. Inside the city limits, any borough can seem confining, structured, staid, stilted, stuffy … a place where young people feel limited by the expectations placed on them by their elders and peers. On the farm, I never really had too much time for that kind of contemplation — there were chores, long bus rides, acres and barns to explore, fish to catch.

Of course, a lot of people I know who are from small towns have never set foot more than 50 miles from where they were born. And often, that natural insulation (and isolation) from the rest of the world is cemented and augmented by the institutions in which so many of us are indoctrinated from birth — churches, schools, social clubs. A lot of folks, in that kind of environment, do grow up to be on the outside just like their parents, just like their neighbors. Some of ’em are happy doing it. Many, though, it seems to me, are only happy on the outside. You can tell it in the way they talk about the government. Or foreigners. Or even just people from the next town over.

But I reckon it’s not just a small town thing. It’s a people thing. You either take responsibility for your own life, and get busy living it, or you are, quite bluntly, just killing time waiting to die. Most folks choose the former, and become wonderful parents, friends, spouses, lovers and business partners. But a few seem resigned to, and even rejoice in, their unhappiness — they say, “what this town (or country, or world) really needs is a …” and wonder why somebody else hasn’t done it. They’re starving for change, for growth, for individuality and a life outside the box, and simply don’t feel it’s their place to change, grow or step outside the establishment’s door. Granted, there are repercussions for those brave souls who do challenge the status quo, even in the smallest of ways. You do get talked about behind your back. You will get worse service at the grocery store. You may not get a decent table at restaurants. You may even have bricks thrown through your window, or crosses burnt on your lawn. You certainly will be going to Hell, one way or another — at least that will be the consensus of opinion, even among your own relatives.

Country or city, it seems like the most frequent thing you hear is “don’t get above the roots of your raisin’.” That’s like getting too big for your britches, I guess. But it seems to me that if all a plant ever has is roots, if it never breaks the soil and stretches out for the sun and makes, heaven forbid, a statement of its own potential — and that potential may be as a fruit, nut or vegetable (LOL) — then no matter how good the roots are, they haven’t done their job. They’re the foundation, and the source of nourishment and balance, but they are NOT the end product. Each vine and branch have their own path to follow, their own song to sing.

All that being said, I wouldn’t trade small rural town living for the metropolis. I’ve seen enough of big cities (on both coasts and in foreign countries) to know that urban existence is not natural. It leads to thinking that oranges come from trucks, and funds studies to prove that mother’s milk is the best food for infants, or that cheese is the best bait for a mousetrap. It creates country music that doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the flyover land between the Holland Tunnel and the San Andreas fault. It’s proud that only 5% of its population has to actually touch dirt for a living.

The friends that I’ve made in small towns are closer friends than those I’ve made in the city. Sometimes I wonder about their ambitions to get out to the “big town”, though. I don’t fault them for that dream, but have to filter it through my own experience. It ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.

I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond, than a wee little minnow in the ocean that is big city living. Give me the limitations of small town reality over the lunatic fantasy of the big city any day. I know ya’ll ain’t gonna believe me, if ya haven’t lived it yourself, but life under the Hollywood sign ain’t all that and a bag of chips.

Peace, ya’ll.

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No Shaman Left to Heal Our Tribe

Come, dig the grave, but not too deep;
the eighties were a shallow time.
We spent a decade just to learn
how to maintain appearance’s sake
and delve with questions, off-the-cuff,
in cocktail conversation bluffs.

Come, dig the grave, the shovel’s mouth
will gouge the earth enough to serve
as depth-gauge for the swollen corpse;
besides, the scavengers we bred
in boredom need not work too hard
to find in us their daily bread.

Come, dig the grave; it’s only death
that by necessity is born
and like a cancer spreads throughout
the tender tissue we have formed
to shield us from the sunlight’s glare
and make believe there’s nothing there.

Come, work the soil and lay the sod;
the garden must be fed anew
lest what fruit has escaped the rod
be left to rot by morning’s dew.
What harvest plenty still remains
is just enough to clog the drains.

Come, dig the grave, but not too deep,
lest toil and sweat destroy our youth.
Let future generations weep
that they’ve no gravestone for the truth.
Besides, it’s almost happy hour —
we should arrive by our own power.

for Jim Morrison

03 OCT 2005

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Instrument of God

You call yourself an instrument of God,
selected to seek vengeance for some wrong;
I wonder, do you ever think it odd
that retribution should be your sole song,

that God, who has a symphony of life
to call upon or move on His behalf
should need your petty anger as his knife
to separate the good wheat from the chaff?

How brazen, that you think you know what irks
God most, that your convictions reflect His;
How hypocritical to think your bloody works
can ease some Divine pain. What sad hubris!

What’s more, an instrument that only doles
out death — what a small repertoire indeed!!
To think that funeral march alone extols
the virtues of your maker, or His needs,

supposes Him so helpless, small and weak;
no mountain, but a mere mud-spattered clod.
No wonder that He gives you leave to speak
to call yourself an instrument of God.

12 JUL 2005

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The spheres of thought that tangents bring

The spheres of thought that tangents bring
in touch with mine are lessening,
perhaps in spite of my attempts
to cross each bridge, and burn each fence
so that the world seems more to me
a web of connectivity.

It could be that these are not times
for straying beyond party lines;
or worse, more likely, minds are closed,
so wary of thought overdose
that if a single word slips past
their brave defense, the die is cast
and they will be like Robert Service’s
fitless man, alone and nervous.

Such things occur to me, and then
I feel the urge to write again —
despite the fact that precious few
will find my voice worth listening to,
instead preferring rehashed news,
extremist views, and seats in pews
where others preach some party line.
If that’s the case, it suits me fine.
I do not write to please the masses,
or think these brief missives classes.

It’s a desert; most oases
are mirages not worth chasing.
Each one has a tale to tell:
some only sand, others with wells;
and sadly, when illusion sells
more stock than substance,
these sad hells
are peopled with a hopeless lot
who can’t or won’t let go, and plot
the quick demise of any who
would posit their heaven untrue.

20 May 2005

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Pagan Comm(unity)?

About two years ago, I participated in a discussion group that included a number of relatively famous pagan “elders”. There was some scuffle regarding some relatively unsavory behavior on the part of one of the members, a leader of a pagan group and the erstwhile protege of one of these “elders”. This elder posted (anonymously, of course) a message that encouraged people to close ranks, to support this unscrupulous character because as Pagans, we owed it to ourselves to present a unified front against our “enemies”, to recognize and respect our “brothers” and give them more leeway, so to speak, than we would another non-relative. A recent item over at Letters from Hardscrabble Creek on whether or not “pagan community” was a meaningful construct gave me incentive to look up my response to that issue, which touches on the concept of “pagan community”:

As far as “Pagan community” is concerned, I am often troubled that some people who claim the name of “Pagan” seem to think that there should be some artificial construct (of course, it does not seem artificial to them) that connects us all at the level of our common beliefs, that there is some kind of “brotherhood” which all pagans should acknowledge and respect.

I have a fundamental question regarding this “brotherhood”, however … is this a “brotherhood” of those who CLAIM to be at one with each other, or of those whose deeds prove it to be the case?

As was said once earlier in the last century (if may have been FDR who said it), if you are a “Harvard Man”, you don’t need a class ring to prove it – your actions will make it obvious to all that you are of that caliber.

For myself, I know my brethren (that are not tied by blood) by their deeds, and not their words. And if a brother (or sister, for in fact ‘brotherhood’ implies something that smacks of patriarchy and hierarchy, of closed rooms and inequality) makes what I feel to be an error, it is my obligation to discuss it with them privately, “on the way to the church” so to speak, rather than standing up and impugning them before the entire congregation. For if we are in fact ALL siblings, then any action that affects the well-being of one affects the well-being of all. All of which goes to show that one cannot choose one’s “brothers” lightly. Yes, we are all related, we all share this plane in which to find our paths, we are all different shafts of the same light. But our “unity” is quite a different matter. The fact is that we are NOT a pagan community because we call ourselves Pagan, but are only a community if we act as a community

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