This is what I would tell my sons: “You came from an ancient people, a heritage of poets and tailors, or thieves and blasphemers, of callous men and slaughtered children. I would give you these books, written by God, some have said, although I am doubtful but driven by Erato, without doubt.”
This is what I would tell my sons: “I didn’t go to war — there were so many options and I chose one where my feet would touch only Texas mud, where the only bullets were quickly fired on the rifle range. I wasn’t one of the 56,000. I didn’t come home in a body bag. But I do stop at the Wall each time I visit D.C. and say farewell to those who did.”
This is what I would tell my sons: “You have never known the hunger for a scrap of bread pulled from a dumpster, you have never spent a night on a steam grate hiding under yesterday’s newspapers from the rapidly falling snow. You never stood nervously at the waiting room of a dingy clinic waiting for a young, uncaring doctor to announce that antibiotics would likely clear up the infection but you should avoid any form of sex for a couple of weeks.”
This is what I would tell my sons: “You come from a heritage of poets.”
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press 2008
The black cat walked by the patio again today. He won’t stop and engage no matter how hard I try to talk to him. Some cats are haughty and this one clearly isn’t deaf. Some say it is feral, but it’s too well groomed for that. More likely it has spent too much time with people. The sort of arrogance it shows has only one source and, though we hate to admit it, we know that source all too well.
As King, newly appointed, he mulled over what to do for his first official act. The predecessor King was known to be much a recluse, one who tolerated people as a necessity of a Kingdom, and he would say, a good source of revenue to the King. That one didn’t last long, never imagined the people could rise up and overthrow a monarch. He would be more benevolent, but he did need to make a strong initial statement. It came to him – and he issued a decree banning all mirrors and shiny surfaces in public, and he knew it was a good idea when everyone else grew ever older, and he, he knew, never aged a day.
On our first visit to Prague it was almost hard to imagine that this bridge was built to ferry people and traffic across the River. Now it is jammed with tourists and those for whom tourists are a ubiquitous market, and anyone needing to expeditiously cross the cranky water that every now and again must indulge the bridge, or use the less interesting bridges adjacent. There is a veneer of age about this ancient the statuary darkened by time and weather replaced when the waters get truly petulant and carry off statues they deem an affront. Motion on the bridge is slow and can tend toward gridlock, to the joy of those selling art and tchotchkes, and tchotchke arts that won’t be truly regretted by the buyer until it is hung on the wall next to the waterglobe miniatures of St. Matthias church and the parliament buildings Budapest.
One of these days soon the sun will again get angry, will blow off steam and all manner of signals will get the message loud if not clearly. The sun can get away with it and we accept it, if not willingly but begrudgingly. When we blow off such steam cities melt, and the angry one is condemned for crimes against humanity or avoiding greater loss. In the final analysis, however, it is probably better to simply be a star where fits of pique are expected and tolerated.
The night closes in chasing the sun, dragging heavily laden clouds that stare down, watching warily for us to step outside without glancing skyward. Clouds of night are particularly jealous, most often ignored if not completely forgotten, unsure which would be worse, ultimately indifferent. As we begin the walk to the car the clouds open, a torrential reminder that Mother Nature will not be easily ignored.