Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Eye

There is no calm before the storm.

This tempest is neverending. These brief moments of peace are only that.

I am the pupil, swollen by too much light, staring up into the fickle sun.

I still reside within the storm. On the horizon, I see the dark spinning clouds as they draw near to envelop me again.

I have been a sower of the wind.

I have cast my dreams like seeds into the blistering sky.

Now I must succumb to what I have become.

I am the whirlwind reaper.

Posted in Longreads & Essays

Freedom and the Fear of Death: Words from Dr. King

Dr. King once said “Until you conquer the fear of death, you don’t know what freedom is!”

I must admit that I am not free and have not been free for a long while. I have allowed Death to keep its sting. On this anniversary of the assassination of this great man, I am reminded that there is still a long way to go in this country and the world before we achieve the Dream. On this day with this faith I commit myself to change beginning with myself and with my fear of death. In other words, in a paraphrase from Gypsy Smith, “If you want to have revival, draw a circle around yourself and have revival in that circle.”

So I am drawing a circle around myself. I am stepping out of my comfort zone beyond talk into places and experiences that make me uncomfortable into an engagement with people different from me. I am not expecting people to come to me. I am not expecting change to knock on my door. I am going to change. I am opening the door to difference and walking out. I am going to face my own mortality and cease to be afraid of what might happen if my changing causes others to change, to be uncomfortable, and so strike back against that change and me.

Who am I to think that I must not suffer when I do anyway if one person in this world is suffering? Who am I to think that I must not hurt when I do anyway because one person in this world is hurting? Who am I to think that I must ignore death when my brothers and sisters the world over are giving their lives day in and day out because they cannot live as I do?

I do not know where this path will take me, but I do know this:
I am not alone and
I will not be afraid.

January 21, 2008

Posted in The Sunday Driver: Life in the Slow Lane

Wind of Constancy

wind of constancy
blowing in from the sea
filling me

pushing away the lethargy
that has so encumbered me
within this mortal body

i listen for divinity
in this wind of constancy
a call to be free

Posted in Stories

New! Dystopian Short Story “They” Published on Wattpad

As noted earlier this week, “They” is now published on Wattpad. The link is below:

in a not so distant dystopian future, a citizen discovers true freedom

https://my.w.tt/S7JVw7UroT

Click view as reader for best reading experience.

Or you can download the ebook in .pdf format below:

https://1drv.ms/b/s!Ahdvw20Lq-XNg9U7_tQZtny0xkto9w.

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree, Travel

Entanglements

even in this place
of hidden beauty
the sargasso
has invaded

it lies like
a dark serpent
in coils along
the beach
blackened by the sun

it clutters
the water
hides the coral
flickering fish
of color
from view

it sticks to the skin
green strands
and seed pods
to be rinsed away
before the door

yet today
the waters are clear
my body floats free
above the reef

a blue parrot fish
darts in and out
of the shadows
just out of reach

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Shook While Blogging (Upon Further Reflection)

reading posts
reflection
pondering the stuff of life
i am startled by a bang
a bird hitting the window
mistaking
reflection
for the real sky

i quickly put my glasses back on
to see it fly away
for which i am
grateful
that it did not die
it and i
both shaken

knowing that i
too often
am content
to window shop
when i could be
in flight

(upon further
reflection)

Posted in A Flower's Cry, Stories

A Flower’s Cry

A flower bloomed today.

I saw it out through the dusty, cracked basement window and watched as it struggled up toward the sunlight.

It had chosen, this brave flower, a tiny knoll set in an expanse of muddy ground to begin its fight for existence. Rows upon rows of beaten, battered ruins of what used to be old and majestic houses surrounded the mud, slowly crumbling down into its dirty embrace. Like the scummy wasteland, they had been trampled by the same machine.

I was glad that the basement window only had a tiny crack in it because even a tiny breeze brought the putrid reek of death to my nostrils. I knew where it came from – the Morgue, the cemetery for thousands who had stood up for the Truth.

I glanced back out of the window at the flower and saw, as if for the first time, the beauty of its bloom. In the black scum around it, it shone like a beacon. Tiny droplets of wa­ter, clean, glistened on its bright petals and ran down its sides, leaving gleaming streaks on its stem. I couldn’t take my eyes away from the flower’s beauty and marveled at it until the sun set and night covered the land with its soft, silent cloak. I turned from the window and quickly went to my pallet on the floor, eager for the new day.

*******

A flower died today.

I saw it disappear under many muddy, tramping boots as the soldiers dragged me away. But I knew that, sometime, somewhere, another would lift its brave head to the morning sun and cry out in defiance,

“I will live!”

Written May 18, 1984 (age 16). Originally posted here February 2012.

A Friday Campfire Tale from the Cold War Kid collection.

Posted in Cold War Kid

Miracle Unmanacled

A dark tree; crooked branches; gnarled trunk.

From a low branch, a figure hangs. Wrists, stretched high overhead by metal bands, are bound so tight blood drips from where they cut into flesh to splatter across a broken body and onto the ground.

Around the tree, a mob is gathered. They shout obscenities and mock the hanging man. Occasionally, a stone strikes his torn and battered frame.

A road runs nearby. In the distance, a cloud of dust rises from its surface. More are coming. The end is near.

Byzmon turned from the screen of the viewing console and spoke to the agent beside him. “It looks like this thing is about to get pretty rough in a couple of minutes.”

“Yeah,” Callergron growled. “I hope they rip him to shreds.”

“Uh-huh,” Byzmon muttered through gritted teeth. “I hate these Radicals. This kind of death is too good for them.”

His companion grunted his assent. “I’ll go get us some ja. It’s going to be a long night,” he said and walked out of the room. Byzmon turned back to the glowing vid.

The other Protectors had arrived, their knives and scythes gleaming in the moonlight. The crowd’s shouts rose to a deafening crescendo. As if of one mind, they began to move toward the man hanging broken from the tree.

His voice stopped them like a cold slap across a face. They stood, stunned, and listened.

“People,” he cried, “Why do you do this? Don’t you know that you are mere pawns in an even larger game, that you are just doing the work of Them?” Then, with a strength that belied his suffering, the broken man told them a story.

Sometime later, exhausted from his speech, the man paused and hung his head. The crowd waited, captured by the words of the prisoner. They strained to hear what he would say next. In a voice barely above a whisper, he rasped. “Why do you walk with death when you can live?” he gasped. “You are loved. God loves you!”

The man watched the people below him as they tried to digest what he had said. “God,” he prayed. “Please give them a sign.”

“I will,” a Voice answered, sweet and refreshing. “I love you. Come to me, all who are weak and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” The air seemed to fill with an unseen Presence.

“I love you,” the Voice said again.

The people heard. Startled, they looked around in fear. Then, as one, they fell trembling to their knees as if struck down by a mighty wind. Hearts so recently filled with murderous intent began to change, prodded by the words of the hanging man and that other even more disturbing Voice. Tears began to stream from once dry and bitter eyes.

Somewhere, in the dark depths of their minds, the people remembered the God of their forebears and humbly asked for forgiveness. They knelt, transfixed, as their sins were washed away and their souls cleansed as white as snow. Then they remembered the Christian hanging from the tree.

“He should live!” they cried, rising up as one to cut him down. Many gentle hands held the broken man as he gasped for breath, but they knew they were too late.

The Christian raised his head from where he lay midst the crowd and whispered, “God bless you, my children.” And then, with a shudder, he was gone.

Byzmon sat at the console, his eyes glued to the images on the screen. He watched as the crowd took the man away from the tree and marched with him down the road. In a little while, the sound of their weeping died away. No witnesses to the strange incident remained, except for an old tree and an old soldier.

A figure loomed in the doorway of the room. Two steaming cups of ja rested in Callergron’s hands.

“Byz,” he said. “I’ve got your…” He stopped in mid-sentence, for the agent was nowhere to be seen. The chair beside the console was empty and the view-screen had been shut off. Puzzled, Callergron glanced around the room and noticed a door leading to a small alcove standing slightly ajar. He walked toward the door cautiously and as he drew near it, he was surprised to hear the soft sound of someone crying.

“Sir?” he said, wonderingly, and stepped through the door.

“…for the PM Communique. Two members of the VidPol were reported AWOL today. There is no clue as to their whereabouts, except a note that was left on their security console. It read, ‘Free at last.’ These traitors are to be considered extremely dangerous. A worldwide search has been called to…”

Written April 30, 1984

Originally posted here August 2010, reposted with edits today.

Part of the Cold War Kid collection.

A Friday Campfire Tale

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

I Had A Nightmare

image

I had a nightmare that this nation refused to rise up and so denied the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I had a nightmare that on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners refused to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I had a nightmare that the state of Mississippi, a state still sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, was not transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I had a nightmare that my two children lived in a nation where they were judged by the color of their skin not by the content of their character.

I had a nightmare last night.

I had a nightmare that down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls still were not able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I had a nightmare last night.

I had a nightmare that every valley was in shadow, every hill and mountain remained too high, the rough places stayed treacherous, and the crooked places sowed confusion, and the glory of the Lord was dampened, and all flesh remained blind.

There was no hope. Our faith was lost. We could not hew the stone of hope out of the mountain of despair. We could not transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. We could not work together, pray together, struggle together, go to jail together, stand up for freedom together, we did not believe we would be free one day.

We did not believe that all of God’s children would be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

We decided that America was not a great nation. We refused to let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. We did not let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. We denied freedom’s ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Freedom did not ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Freedom did not ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; freedom did not ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Freedom did not ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Freedom never rang from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, there was only the silence of injustice.

And when this happened, when we stilled the bells of freedom, when we forbade them from ringing from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we decided there would never be a day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, joined hands and sang in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

I had a nightmare.
We were not free.

I had a nightmare.
We forgot the dream.

Originally posted January 18, 2016