Walking on the edge of the universe

Walking south, oh April fool

Flings sudden, sharp, flakes of snow,

No, more like hurling disks,

Horizontally, they attack me.

I am a starship light-traveling through the cosmos

Shields up, lunge forward, engage the stinging gale.

Here at the edge of the universe,

Setting course to the western sun

Ends of days, thoughts bleak with the onslaught,

Stalking the borders of being and nothingness

And then a turn to the north,

The route familiar, leading home

And lo’ the sun appears,

The sky an azure blue

The meteors have gone, all

The darkness dispelled

I am returned to lightness.

 

Picasso’s Barnyard and Iran

The recent Pablo Picasso exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario featured an interesting work titled, The Farmer’s Wife. Painted in 1938 just prior to the outbreak of World War II, it is one of Picasso’s darker works. Though impressionistic, the farmer’s wife languidly reclines across the bottom of the canvas, with a crowing rooster in the upper left hand corner. According to the curator’s notes, the nude wife is ignoring the rooster’s crowing. But the crowing is an alarm, a wake-up call of war. Specifically, the farmer’s wife, “self-absorbed Europe,” is indifferent to the fascist takeover of Spain by General Franco.  

Only a few years later came the news reports about Germany’s growing army and munitions capability. Maybe the rooster read Mein Kampf, in which Hitler outlined exactly what he planned to do to the world and to the Jews, because there was a whole barnyard of roosters crowing madly across Europe and England, but the farmer’s wife remained indolent. Only when the Nazis invaded Poland did she hear the rooster, or perhaps finally admit to it, with England declaring war on Germany to launch WW ll.

And now, only 3/4 of a century later, the Dynamic Duo of the Iranian Ayatollah and the President of Iran, Ahmadinejad are ably taking up where the furor left off: mad rantings and threats to destroy the world, specifically The Great Satan, and of course, the Jews and their homeland, Israel. Taking Iran hostage, these Muslim fanatics and their presidential henchman have become the leading exporter of state sponsored terrorism. Iran is ably abetted by a Jihadist Islamic movement seeking to reconquer lost lands. Even the deaf can hear the Iranian threats and boasts as they drive to develop nuclear weapons. They already have developed the rocketry required to deliver their Armageddon-payload capable of striking and destroying Israel, as well as any other location in the Middle east.

Iran’s theocracy has recently been caught plotting to kill a Saudi diplomat in New York, as well bombing the Israeli embassy there. Iran is also trying to form ties with Mexican drug cartels and several South American dictators as it works to export terror closer to the American heartland. Maybe they’ll do a reprise of the old USSR – Cuba dance, and ship some of those rockets and warheads to their South American buddies where they’ll be in striking range of the United States. Maybe then, threatened as Israel is now, the present U.S. administration, American cousin to The Farmer’s Wife, might wake up. But for now, Europe sleeps again and America has relegated the unhappy and terrifying memory of 9/11 as a ‘one of,’ languidly appeasing the Mullahs, a la Neville Chamberlain.

There is no Picasso to paint anew his canvas, the UN is pretty much the manure pile in the corner, and no one seems to be aware of the collision course that the world is on,  except possibly Israel, given that it is the country being targeted. 

And still, the rooster shrieks!

 

 

 

 

 

Moxie, Part 2

Sitting outside with Moxie parked about five feet in front of me where, in her lionesque pose, she can keep a close watch on the street activities, as well as check for any errant squirrels. There is the sudden clatter and roar of construction equipment, the tanks and half-tracks of peaceful urban North American cities being off-loaded down metal ramps to pave several neighborhood driveways. Startled, Moxie jumps vertically, and repositions herself closer to my legs. She might be protecting me, but I think it more likely that she is seeking safety from what she doesn’t understand and which, therefore, threatens her. She seeks safety from the master, the one she has come to acknowledge on some level, as having power over her and therefore more powerful. That would be me. I am the one with the leash and the control; I provide food and care for her.
That I could not protect her from a bulldozer is beyond Moxie’s ability to know, perhaps a good thing because such knowledge of my limitations would cause Moxie to lose faith. Perhaps she might sing, “Nearer my god to thee,” or utter the WW1 cliché that there are no atheists in foxholes. So, similarly, when I don’t understand my world, when it threatens, when I am assaulted by disease, disaster, violence, and a host of little understood events, I too jump up; my human bravado shattered; I too try to reposition myself closer to The Master.

Insanity Rules

I just read an article by a journalist named Diana West. If what she writes is correct, and there’s no reason to think it isn’t, then America’s insanity continues unabated, even to the highest military courts.

Ms. West details the ruling against a U.S. soldier, by a military tribunal that says he had no right to defend himself against an attack by an Al-Qaeda “operative” who was suspected of using IEDs which killed two US soldiers. Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna was driving the naked Al-Qaeda soldier somewhere to release him after Army interrogation failed to get him to confess. Behenna apparently stopped the car to try for one more interrogation, but because it was “unauthorized,” he was deemed the aggressor, and so, according to three of five military geniuses who rule in military courts, as the aggressor, he lost the right to defend himself when the Al-Qaeda soldier threw a piece of concrete at him and then jumped Behenna, trying to grab his pistol. The logical conclusion, it would seem, is that Behenna should have not defended himself, and instead of shooting and killing his attacker, allowed his attacker to grab the gun and kill him.

Now, because of his war crime of defending himself in battle when he shouldn’t have because he was the aggressor, he will serve 12 years in prison. Had he been of a higher moral fiber, the one that seems to infect all of the ruling elites and academics, and now apparently military judges as well, although Behenna would be dead, he would have been cleared by the court of any wrong doing, and could a’ been buried with an unblemished record.

This should look great on an Army recruiting poster.

By the way, Diana West is the author of a book titled, The Death of the Grown Up: How America’s Arrested Development is Bringing Down Western Civilization. Haven’t read it, but think it might be a good idea to do so. If she’s right, a lot of people 40 an under in the US of A will agree with the high military court’s ruling and get angry with West (and my) point of view, scarier still.

Leave-taking

Blog

A novel Called “the Promise” begins thus, “All beginnings are hard.” While I don’t disagree with its basic premise, life seems to teach that endings are harder still. Or so I’ve found. I’m pretty sure most people will take the ultimate beginning, birth, over the ultimate ending, death.

And in between are all sorts of beginning and ending pairs. The one that occupies me at this very moment is that of arrivals and departures. As in vacations. This year I was a snowbird, spending two months in the gentle arms of a Florida winter. Even cold, it was warm, comparatively, and at all times, the colors, fuscia, purples, reds, the sharp green of the sawgrass and the deep ocean blue are simply a feast for the eyes. Yes, it was hard to begin, to set up home keeping in someone else’s living space, feeling alien in the surroundings, simply navigating along unfamiliar terrain, living by the GPS, finding where to shop, to eat, to see a movie, to organize banking…indeed it was challenging.

Strange, how quickly one adjusts: within a month I rarely looked at the GPS, knowing where to go for needs, entertainment, pleasure, and even establishing routines. It was no longer necessary to think through every thing, no matter how trivial; familiarity took over and the autonomous brain function let the frontal lobes relax. And then, suddenly, the weeks were winding down, days only were left and it was time to organize for the return. Last trip to the ocean, last crossing of the draw bridge, one last visit with friends, taking pictures to remember the beauty, the hated packing, knowing that when you crossed the boulevard and rounded the curve, you would likely never again see it, and if you should one day return, you’ll see it in a completely different way, because you won’t be you, at least, you won’t be the same you, you are at the moment.

But by far the hardest, the soul-wrecking part of endings is that of leave-taking of loved ones. Here, the beginning is easy, an exception to the book’s proposition. With what joy is this beginning, with kisses and bear hugs, and all talking at once. It’s been a year, and this is my older sister, the person who knows me as do few others, and loves me unconditionally. Phones and e-mails cut the distance somewhat, but until you can touch electronically, nothing can replace being there. So if you catch a break on an easy beginning, you pay in spades on the leave-taking.

The hardest, most cruel part of departure, is knowing that you might never see one another again. This is true when Inge go to the candy store, but it would be morbid to think that way – how could we live? And the chances are pretty good, statistically wise, that the 35 year old will return in fifteen minutes, to his family, aren’t they?

But a couple of senior citizens taking their leave for upwards of a year? Not so good. So this taking, this ending, this departure is painful and bruising. There must come a time when it will be the very last one. One day, one time, I might not return, or I will, but she will no longer be there. And that knowledge, unspoken but felt bone-deep, is the ultimate in making endings so devastating.

Walkin’ Moxie – or – An Alien’s Persepctive

          The pulling power of a 10 pound Shih Tzu is, frankly, quite fierce…not surprising since the name apparently translates to Lion Dog.  At the afore-mentioned 10 pound weight, or a bit less than 5 kilos in metricspeak which puts her at the low end of the weight category, Moxie nevertheless fulfills her obligation to carry herself with a “distinctly arrogant carriage,” as Wikipedia puts it. If an underbite and large, buggy eyes might be an invitation for human bullying, especially amongst children, the dog world seems blissfully unaware of such human-termed imperfections; moreover, as long as it’s dogs and not people, these characteristics apparently represent good breeding, so to speak.

          So there I am, being forcibly yanked at the back end of a ten foot leash by this miniature tow truck. From my position, of course, I see none of Moxie’s finer front-loaded  breeding qualities, only the end orifice, the presence of which in all mammals really should unite humanity in some sort of realization that given we share this back-end aspect of nature, there’s little sense in worrying about who has buck teeth, a given skin pigment, is short, heavy, or whatever.

           Or maybe there is! Maybe we distract ourselves with such trivia because we don’t want to be reminded about the back end, because it reminds us all too clearly as to what makes us us, and that the only time this biological process stops is not a time to be wished by most sane people. Dogs, once again, don’t much seem to care, not even about this, and have no remorse about exercising said orifice in public.

          Once, while waiting for  Moxie to perform that hind-site action, then bending low to scoop up the by-products of life, specifically breakfast and a couple of treats in this case, it occurred to me, that should a flying saucer be hovering in the stratosphere while scouting the earth, the aliens (who for all I know could be Shih Tzus) focusing a high-powered, super resolution telescope on me precisely at that moment, would see a small animal leading, its servant humbly following a respectable distance behind, stopping from time to time to scoop its poop. What more evidence could a space-being ask for in order to establish racial dominance? The scouting report would most definitely establish that the four-legged creatures on this third planet from the sun are the master race, they being served by a lesser species with but two legs, clearly less powerful, less able, far slower, and given its role as pooper scooper, possessing significantly less intelligence.

Even stranger, however, is that there are moments when increasingly I’m prone to agree with the aliens.

The superior species

Enjoying a royal rest