Sunday, January 30, 2011

Found Money

I realized a day or two ago that, if I were smart, I would start a company right now to repair gutters and down spouts. Come Spring (or maybe June) when all the ice is finally gone, everyone in my neighborhood (and probably yours too) is going to need their gutters worked on. The impressive stalactites of icicles are ripping gutters away from the roofs all over New England. A growth industry is what that would be. Get in on the ground floor. I know there are people who already do that, but there will be work enough to go around.

I was looking for fingernail clippers today and since we are not the kind of people who 'have a place for everything and have everything in its place' I started searching for clippers in the baskets and bowls that we use to disorganize our lives. I don't know how other people do it--where they put stuff they might need someday but don't have a real 'place' for--we use baskets and bowls. I noticed right away that there was loose change in most every basket and bowl. So I started putting it in my pockets.

I sat down to see what I had and here's the list:

*22 dimes--$2.20
*9 nickles--$0.45
*16 quarters--$4.00
*62 pennies--$0.62
That's 7 dollars and 27 cents that I didn't realize I had.

I also found
*a 2 Euro coin
*a 2 pence piece
*50 cent piece from the Republic of Liberia
*a 100 Lina coin (Italy?)
*a 5 ptas coin (country of unknown origin)
*a token for a car wash (car wash location of unknown origin)
*a token for Courtyard Playard (whatever that is)
*some kind of commemorative coin that says "Connecticut" on it but gives no clue to the purpose of the commemoration

Pretty amazing what you can find in bowls and baskets. Where did the stuff in the second list come from? I've been places in recent years where Euros and 2 pence pieces might be used to buy something, but I've never been to Italy or Liberia or anywhere you could spend a 'ptas'.

It might be worth pondering that if we went through the baskets and bowls of our lives--places we store memories, reflections, dreams--we might find some pretty interesting and rather confounding things.

I'm promising to try to do that more often--though I'm not sure how to begin. "Found" stuff can be valuable in ways we don't ever realize.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

And it will be over when?

Remember the TV commercial for Dunkin' Donuts with the little round baker knowing 'it's time to make the donuts'? The whole thing was about how fresh DD kept their stock. He starts out baking early in the 8 am with a spring in his step and a smile on his face. Weighed down by the every four hour task, by the end of the commercial and the last "time to make the donuts" he's dragging and almost weeping.

What I keep hearing in the back of my head, like a voice over, is "time to shovel the snow"....I know it's only been a month or so, but my neighbor Mark and I are having trouble remembering those halcyon days before the snows came. I know we're all dealing with this stuff, but I have as much right to whine as anyone.

Yesterday, I came home and their was a four foot long, 18 inch tall clump of snow in the middle of the entrance to the driveway. I thought it was snow and was about to drive through it when I had a moment of uncharacteristic thoughtfulness. I got out to check and sure enough, it was solid ice. It took my neighbor across the street and I about 10 minutes to chop it up enough to make two pieces we could lift. I just got my front bumper replaced and, had I driven into that clump I would have been hard pressed to explain to my insurance company why I was so stupid.

But the dangers are everywhere. We take turn walking our dog on the canal path every day. We walk about .8 miles and then back. All through the storms the park department has kept the canal reasonably plowed--you could distinguish between ice and asphalt when you walked. But yesterday they plowed and then it kept snowing for two hours, so all the ice was covered by a dusting of snow. I gave up after about 300 yards and after the dog fell twice. I thought, if he can't stand up with four legs, what chance do I have.

Just as we turned back, a runner came running by with his Lab running off leash (a no-no on the canal) through the snow banks. The dog had good enough since to not run on the path, unlike his human. I asked as the runner flashed past, "Aren't you afraid you'll fall?"

"It happens," he said, "but what's the option???"

I wanted to tell him, a tread mill at a gym, but he was already gone.

As F.Scott Fitzgerald said of the wealthy, "runners are not like you and me...."

And our effort to compete with Japan and Germany and China in education is being thwarted since our school children are seldom in school

And it will all be over When?

Monday, January 24, 2011

S*** my Mam-maw said...

The success of the book and TV series "S*** my dad said" (the book is hysterical, I haven't seen the William Shatner TV show--he's still Captain Kirk to me....) inspired me to try to write down some of the pithy wisdom of my maternal Grandmother, Lina Manona Sadler Jones. There were 16 of us first cousins--I was next to the youngest. My Uncle Harvey and Aunt Elsie adopted Denise when I was a teenager and she was 6 or 7. So, until she entered the family I'd had a long run and the youngest of 15 first cousins. And people wonder why I'm spoiled....

Mam-maw, which is what we called her, was a saintly woman, a real church goer and played piano for the Pilgrim Holiness Church in Conklintown, WV. She was also very funny and not a little wise.

I'll just give you three of her sayings.

Mam-maw divided the world into "Church People" and "non Church People". She was pretty inclusive since "Church People" contained more than just Pilgrim Holiness folks. But not Roman Catholics, which isn't as bad as it sounds since I doubt if she knew more than a handful of RC's in her life. There certainly weren't any in Conklintown or O'Toole and probably not in Jenkinjones. There were two Catholic families in Anawalt and Mam-maw once said of Mrs. Sante, who taught second grade at Anawalt Junior High School, "Mrs. Sante is like church people...." She'd say, "Those Thompkins girls used to be church people" or, 'does that boy you play with come from Church People?" I'm kinda the same way--but for me the world is divided into "Pet people" and people who don't have pets. I don't get people who aren't "Pet people", they aren't like me....

The two sayings I've been thinking about recently are these:

"You have to be bigger than the weather...." When any of us would complain that it's too hot, too cold, to rainy, too dry, she would shake her head and say "You've got to be bigger than the weather...go out and play (or) go read a book (or) write someone a letter..." which ever was the medicine for how the weather ailed us.

The other one was "You're old enough that your wants won't hurt you...." That came whenever one of us complained that there was something we didn't have that we really 'wanted'....I still whisper than one to myself from time to time, mostly when I see a Lexus or a Jaguar .

Lord help me, if Mam-maw could hear me say, "It's too cold and snowy, I want spring to come...."

I can hear her delight in stringing together two aphorisms: "Jimmy Gordon, you're old enough that your wants won't hurt you and you need to be bigger than the weather."

I'm not sure if Episcopalians qualified as 'church people' but since my cousin Mejol and I both ended up Anglican and since Mam-maw's grandchildren, willful, want-ful and whiny as they were, ultimately could do no wrong in her eyes, we probably would make the "church people" cut....

Friday, January 21, 2011

trying to be flexible

I wrote what I readily admit was a rant about Face book. My apologies to many--especially M.C.--for that. the comments told me I was being unreasonable and inflexible. So today I offered friend-ness (not friendship, that isn't mutually exclusive--but it isn't the same thing) to a whole bunch of people. I got lots of emails saying so-and-so accepted my invitation to friend-ness. I also got messages from people. And someone wrote on my 'wall'. So I spent well over an hour trying to figure out what 'my wall' was and to negotiate the Face book universe. They kept asking me for my password--which I is ******. But every time I changed screens, they asked me for ****** again and promised me that Face Book--like an entity, would not remember my password.

Why? I wondered since everyone else gives me that choice like Blogger.Com and everyone else.

So I spent over an hour I could have spent writing or shoveling snow, reading or shoveling snow, going to the library or shoveling snow, pondering deep thoughts or shoveling get the idea.

I need a guide and mentor to negotiate Face Book. I have no idea how to send a message and , beyond that, no idea where my message would go--all my 'friends'? nowhere? everywhere?

Look, it took me several weeks to learn how to send an e-mail and longer than that to learn how to blog successfully. If Face Book takes as much time as I spent today--to no value so far as I can tell--why would I ever look at it? Plus I had all these messages from people I know--my friend-ness peeps--that I don't know how to respond to or if I should.

I feel like a stranger in the strange land of Face Book. If today is any example, I don't have time to do it. Plus, how do I get rid of the dozens of messages? Plus/plus, what do I do about all the people who want friend-ness extended, about 200 until I quit counting, most of whom I don't know but who share a friend-ness person or two with me, so they say?

To me, at this point, Face Book is neither "social" or a "network" in any way I consider those two terms.

What do I do? Don't "Face Book me"--what a weird verb, by the way--email me or call me with advice. Or, best of all, write me a letter and send it through the mail. I really pay attention to letters since I get so few in this age of electronic communication. Like, for example, this blog.....

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

it isn't finished....

Yesterday I shoveled slush and ice for 90 minutes with my neighbor. It didn't take as long as the big snow did, but it was harder, heavier, messier. The big snow shoveling was like a great workout--yesterday was like torture! Besides, I leaned out all out upstairs window with a putter and knocked down all the icicles I could reach. Some were taller than me....then I heard on the radio that it isn't finished...more snow, maybe another foot, on Friday. It isn't finished.

I'm supply priest at Emmanuel, Killingworth this month. It's a great little church full of interesting people. This coming Sunday is the Annual Meeting and a lunch so the Sr. Warden politely suggested it might be best to cut my sermon a little short....though I don't think of them as very long. I of course agreed and was reminded of my making that request to someone years ago. I thought I'd share that story here.

Back, 20+ years ago, when I arrived at St. John's Waterbury, the parish was a member of the WACC (Waterbury Area Council of Churches). The tradition, on Good Friday, was to meet at one church or another for 'the seven last words of Christ', during which seven preachers preached seven short sermons....Since WACC had member churches from Episcopal to Church of God, that was quite a collection of preachers. Sometimes it was really good and sometimes it was dreadful.

I missed the Episcopal Good Friday service--three hours of readings, music and silence (mostly silence). I convinced the WACC worship committee that we could have the best of both worlds, that I could fit the 7 sermons into the Good Friday liturgy. So that's what we did for years until the WACC became interfaith. At that point it became clear to me that WACC could no longer sponsor a 'Good Friday' service. There was some resistance. One member even said, "Why can't we made Good Friday and inter-faith service?" At first I just stared and then tried to explain that Good Friday is distinctly Christian. It would be like trying to have an Inter-Faith Passover or an Inter-Faith Ramadan . The questioner wasn't convinced but the rest of the worship committee was.

The last Good Friday Liturgy/communion from the reserved sacrament/ 7 last words of Christ service (which never 'really' fit together all that well) was the most exciting. The first five words went over well. I told preachers they had to say within 7 minutes and the first 5 did. But the sixth word sermon was by the local AME pastor and I knew he was going to exceed the time limit because of the look he gave me when I'd told him, the week before, to hold it to 7 minutes. He didn't disappoint. He passed 10 minutes, then 12 and at that point he said, "let us return now to Bethlehem...." I wanted to shout, "You're headed in the wrong direction...."

He stopped after 22 minutes in which he covered all the major points of Jesus' life and a good chunk of AME theology.

In the silence that followed, I went to Maner Tyson, the Southern Baptist and my good friend. "There are Southern Baptists and then there's Maner," I always say.

"Maner", I whispered, "you have to cut the 7th word down to a minute...."

"It won't take even that long," he said.

The Last of the Last Words is: "It is finished."

The passage was read and Maner got up to preach.

"When he died," Maner told us, "Jesus said 'it is finished'...." He paused a moment, looking at the congregation, "But we know it wasn't....Amen."

One of the best sermons I ever heard....

Sunday, January 16, 2011

best day in a long time

Ok, I'm a sports nut. I love the teams I love and hate the teams I hate.

Today was a very good day.

WVU beat Purdue in Basketball.
the Bears won in football (the Bears are my favorite NFL team)
New England lost in football (I hate New England most of all NFL teams)
Notre Dame lost in basketball (my two favorite college sports teams are WVU and whoever beats Notre Dame.

Not a bad day at all--in fact, the best day in a long time for my sports obsession.

Monday, January 10, 2011

blood tests

I have to go get a blood test today. It's just routine, something I've had to do every six months or so since my cancer surgery 6 years ago. In the last couple of years, the 'sticker'--which I've learned is what blood drawers call themselves--has had trouble finding a vein in my arm. They either stick me multiple times (the proud ones) or simply take it from the back of my hand (the humble, gentle kind). Since I've lost some weight I wonder if they can take it easily from my arm this time....

The "requisition' for my blood--an interesting term--has over a hundred possible tests the doctor could check to tell the lab which test to do. And in spite of that, he wrote in a number for the test. It is a wonder to me about the secrets and mysteries that flow through the blood. It is astonishing what can be determined from a little vial of fluid from your veins. Blood carries with it so many things both obvious and deeply hidden.

We were down in Baltimore with my son's family this weekend. It was a great visit made greater by the fact that, on the way back, we didn't even slow down in the Speed Pass lane at the George Washington Bridge. Usually for a day or two before we go down or come back, I wonder and worry about the GWB and how much time we'll spend there.

As I was thinking about my blood test last night, I was pondering the absolute miracle of blood. Tegan, the 14 month old granddaughter, for a brief while half-a-year ago, looked so much like my daughter, her aunt, that it was eerie. I remember comparing pictures of the two and being astounded that, if it were not that Tegan's photo was obviously newer and of a more technically advanced quality that I would not have been able to say which was which. Tegan no longer looks like Mimi. Bern was holding her on her lap while Tegan played with Bern's face, and said, "who do you look like?"

Blood carries the characteristics of appearance within it. We 'look like' people because of blood. You know how you've said to a new mother, 'the baby has your eyes and her dad's nose'. Blood will win out, sculpturing our images in familiar ways.

Then my cousin and her two grown children and her son's two boys (5 and 7) came over for a visit. Another 3 generation group of people. I was astonished by how much Mejol's son looks like her and I could see characteristics of the Jones-look (mine and Mejol's shared blood) in her daughter.

Blood flows through generations the way water flows through streams, meeting other streams as the generations meet and mix. Fletcher's face may look like his mother's, but he is 6'4" or so and Mejol is 5' at best. Fletcher's father's blood gave him his height.

It is fun to ponder blood. On the way home Bern and I were saying one of our twin granddaughter's temperament is more like Josh while the other's is more like Cathy, her mother. I notice it in our two children. "You got that from your mother," I'll tell them--usually about characteristics that are less than desirable! But it is true, I see in my son's oppositional-ness, my own tendency to argue and stir up chaos. My daughter's introversion comes from her mother just as out-going Josh is like me. Both of them, luckily, got their musical aptitude from Bern! Already, Morgan and Emma carry tunes better than I do. That must be from their Chen blood and from Bern's!

I could go on and on but I need to go see my sticker.

You might want to ponder the incredible information blood carries and passes on in your own generations....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Facebook and what I fear is the truth about the world

Ok, so I got an email that had a link that sent me to my Facebook page. My Facebook page wasn't my idea, Scott Moore, I think, set it up and I looked at it once in over a year since tonight and tonight only by accident.

I just don't get it.

I clicked on a whole bunch of stuff people I love had somehow (in ways I don't understand) put there and I didn't get what the point was from what they put there and mostly none of it made sense to me.

There were lots of somebody "likes" something or another and I had no idea what that meant or was supposed to mean or anything about it.

Why are all these people depositing messages (I guess they are messages I simply can't comprehend) on a Facebook page I've now looked at twice in a year?

It was mesmerizing in a way--pictures of people I love beside the messages I simply don't comprehend or know why they were sent to me.

I saw some pictures of my children and my grandchildren that I didn't know existed and was glad--yo, Glad--to see. Yet I simply don't 'get' the "Social Network" and don't have any idea at all why I would look at it more often than once ever 6 months or so, and then by accident.

So, don't rain on my parade or post on my web or write on my 'wall'--that whole image is really beyond my ken--unless it doesn't matter that I won't see it for half-a-year and then by accident.

Face Book, it seems to me, is really...well, I don't have a word for it.

People tell me how great it is. I find it mundane and silly. Sorry. Maybe I've entered the part of life know as being an 'old fart'.

CALL ME. Even E-mail me. Don't put stuff on my Face Book which I will next view in August 2011.

My theory is that Face Book Shit is stuff that isn't important enough for a email or a call (that to me is about three levels higher than an email) or, God forbid, in this 'social network' era, actually seeing me face to face.

People tell me they like to keep up with the little details of their friends lives on facebook. I really don't care about 'the little details', those seem to me to be private and, by the way, not that interesting--(I had a message on my board or my wall or my whatever that one of my friends was thinking about ordering a pizza....I just don't care what you eat. Really, maybe I'm insensitive, but keep your menus to yourselves and stay off my Face Book page.) But I won't see it until August so, hey, do what you want.

But if you want to be in my 'social network', give me a call, let's get together. I really aren't interested in what you watched on Tv or had for dinner.

I am INTERESTED in you. I just want to do that interest voice to voice or face to face.

So I'm a troglodyte , so true, so true.

I love you all....But not on Face Book.....

Surviving Day One

So I've lived through the first day of the Republican/Tea Party take over of the House of Representatives. Nothing much feels different...yet....

They read the Constitution on the Floor of the House today. A rather shallow symbolic act since the Constitution, like the Bible, isn't in what the words say but how we interpret those words. Returning to the 'will of the Founding Fathers' would put people back in slavery and take the vote from the majority of voters--women. The Constitution (I was a Poly Sci minor in college, after all!) is a 'living document'. Look how many times we've amended it (over 20 now) and for good reason. 1776 was so long ago and the culture of that time so profoundly different that if we didn't find reason to amend what the writers said (and amendment is difficult and comes only with great effort) we'd still be wearing waist coats and bustles and wigs for men....well, there are wigs for men, I know, but they aren't white and powdered.

A long time ago, I wrote about why I'm a Democrat and promised more.

This is the more.

Not only am I a yellow dog Democrat (you know what that means, right? If the Virgin Mary was running as a Republican and a Labrador Retriever was running as a Democrat, I'd vote for the yellow dog) I can't figure out why anyone is a Republican.

The Vice Chair of the Republican National Committee said today that anyone who was 'pro choice' couldn't be a Republican. I don't mind at all that some 'anti abortion' folks are Democrats, makes for good conversation and a lot of yelling. And, though two members of Integrity (gay/lesbian/bi-sexual/transgendered Episcopalians and their friends) left the chapter after I asked them how on earth they could vote Republican, I really don't get the Log Cabin Republicans (G/L/B/T Republicans). And how could anyone of color be a Republican given their record on opposing sane immigration reform and being hesitant to fully support the Civil Rights Legislation over the years. And women: my Lord, how can a woman be a Republican? Sarah Palin is as alien to me as Yoda or Yogi Bear.

But then my problem has always been that I think of myself as the 'norm'. I am genuinely surprised when anyone disagrees with me. I don't mind, since I love a good argument, but, for heaven's sake, I AM THE NORM.

I don't know why the tally in any election isn't: Democrat 'the total number of votes cast' and Republican 'zero'. 'Course, in my world, no one would run as a Republican anyway.

My father was a Republican. He was a coal-miner who was a Republican. Go figure. But he was a gentle man open to discussion. There used to be a lot of those kinds of Republicans: Nelson Rockefeller, Senator Brooke, President Eisenhower, Everit Dirkson, Chief Justice Earl Warren, even, God bless him, Gerald Ford--and Margaret Chase Smith, Senator from Maine (Olympia Snow from Maine may still be one of those--the Republicans need to find out what's in the water in Maine.) Where have all those 'Republicans' gone, long time passing....

My father might be a Democrat today if he got a look at what is becoming more and more the norm for Republican office holders--shrill, ultra-conservative, nightmarishly negative about health care, the environment, taxes, the Commerce Clause of their beloved Constitution, gun control, gay marriage, abortion, social services, medicare, social security (which I'm especially sensitive about since I get my check the third Wednesday of each month), talking to your adversaries as foreign policy, government regulation, stem cell research....oh, I could probably list another dozen or so things, but it would be over-kill.

You know that bumper sticker the NRA produced a decade or so ago? The one about, "When they take my gun they'll have to pry away my cold, dead fingers"....remember that one?

I feel that way about being a "Liberal". I honestly hope I'll be one of the last (liberals love doomsday scenarios!) I even reject the new, ready for prime time, gentler and softer label of "Progressive". Don't call me a 'Progressive'. I don't fear the 'L word'. I'm a liberal through and through.

I've survived Day One. I'll let you know how I'm faring as we go along into this dreadful night....

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

writer's block

I have gotten stuck working on a chapter of memories from my priesthood. I'm not sure why so I thought I'd write about it here and see if I can either understand my stuckness or move through it.

The chapter is about events from my first parish. St. James in Charleston WV is now merged with another parish, but when I was there it was a separate mission church. A 'mission' merely means that the congregation is not self-supporting. In a diocese like WV there is a much different way of doing business than in a diocese like CT where there are more self-supporting parishes than mission congregations.

When I was in WV, there were 80 churches--30 were self-supporting. The other 50 were 'missions', which meant the 30 helped support the 50! I hear people complain about the voluntary 'assessment' of the Dio. of CT of 12.5% of total income. In WV in the 1970's the 'apportionment' the Diocese required was between 25% and 30%. And no one complained. "We were all in it together". The self-supporting congregations saw the mission churches as extensions of their mission and ministry. We all hung together. The attitude of many of the wealthier churches in CT is that we should all hang separately!

Anyhow, St. James eventually, years after I left, reached a self-supporting status for a while. It could have done so much sooner except for what I considered an obvious, if not intentional, plan by the diocese to keep the Black church in it's place. The two pockets of black population were in a certain area of Charleston and in the town, some dozen miles away called Institute, where WV State College, a historically black college, was located. By the time I got there, WVSt. was integrated by, mostly, white commuter students. Many of the black students were residential and much of the staff and faculty was African American.

The original St. James was in the black community of Charleston, near other black churches and black owned businesses. The Institute community was more mobile and affluent and could get to church. So, about a decade or so before I came to be the Vicar, the diocese built St. James a new church building--not in downtown Charleston OR in Institute--but in North Charleston, a mostly industrial neighborhood that was almost totally white in population. It was as if the Diocese wanted to 'split the distance' between the two communities. In fact, what happened, was the church was located where neither community wanted it.

Conspiracy theorist that I am, I decided the Diocese didn't move the church to Institute or keep the old church down town to intentionally keep St. James from thriving. That's just me thinkin' outloud, but it seemed--and still seems--true to me.

Anyhow, I have this chapter called "Of Clarity and Justice" written. It's about 15 pages long, but as I try to put it in a final draft, I'm just stuck.

Perhaps it is that I don't trust myself to be objective. I loved that church and those people. It was the best possible place to begin my ministry. I was the third white priest, I think since black priests were rarer and more expensive! My family and I were so totally and completely welcomed into that community in ways that a black priest would have never been in a white church. Both my children were born in Charleston and started life in the St. James community. In fact, they were so accustomed to being around black people that when we moved to New Haven and lived in a yuppie neighborhood, my son saw a black lady on the Green and ran over to hug her....

And I was fortunate beyond measure to serve three integrated churches. St. James was integrated while I was there by mixed race couples and white folks who really wanted to be there. St Paul's in New Haven was integrated both racially and socially and St. John's in Waterbury was the most diverse parish, I believe, in the diocese--especially after the Spanish congregation was formed. The old saying was 'the most segregated hour of the week is at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning." That's never been true for me and I am both humbled by and proud of that fact.

Anyway, besides being afraid I won't be objective in writing about what happened between the Diocese and the congregation, I think it makes me look a little too good. Most of what I've written has had a degree of self-effacement that isn't as present in this chapter. What happened was, for the most part, extremely good and the real work of transformation was done by the folks at St. James, not by me.

Maybe I'll move on to the next chapter and come back. That might be a way to get loosened up about it. Thanks for listening. This has been helpful....

Monday, January 3, 2011

Black Bird New Year

So, I heard that thousands, yes thousands, of red-wing black birds feel from the sky into a tiny town in Arkansas on New Year's Eve. Thousands of dead birds. Imagine if you went out in your back yard and red-wing black birds were piled up two or three deep. What a nightmare....

So, the autopsies of these birds revealed they died from internal bleeding, caused by what, at midnight on New Year's Eve in Arkansas?


They were all roosting in trees, people said,
as darkness came.
Red winged black birds don't fly at night,
since their sight is limited
to daylight flying.

And at midnight, like the coming of the new year,
they fell in masses,
dead from trauma and bleeding inside themselves.

These birds who live in the summer
up where we live,
in the elbow of the country.

When I used to go to Block Island
on a regular basis
in the summer and early fall,
there would be
dozens and dozen of them--
red-winged black birds--
around a pond down by the ocean
on my way from St. Ann's church
to the town.

I'd hear them a quarter of a mile
before I saw them,
all around that pond,
a congregation of them,
And once I passed them,
walking to town,
I'd hear them for another
quarter of a mile before the sounds
of town drowned out their song.

And, I've been told, thousands of them
fell dead in Arkansas
on New Year's eve,
for no reason
yet discerned
by the state Veterinarian
(who knew Arkansas
had such an official office?
do they have a state Poet
or a state Chef
or a state Auto Mechanic
as well???)

"Perhaps," he said,
in an accent I recognize
though I grew up
a thousand miles from Arkansas.
It is all Appalachia, after all,
we all sounded like that
some time, and some of us
still do.

"Perhaps," he said,
that official animal doctor
of the state of Arkansas,
"they were startled from
their roosting and flew into
the trees."
It was all, he said, blunt trauma

"So what could make them do that,"
the radio voice asked him,
(the radio voice wasn't Appalachian,
or Southern, or New England
or Mid-west--just the voice people
who talk on the radio have.
No accent to speak of.
Accents are disappearing, it seems to me,
and that is as sad
not 'more sad' surely,
than the death of thousands of blackbirds.)

He wasn't sure.
Perhaps the thunder storms that
raced through that part
of Arkansas on New Year's Eve.

Or even the sound of the fireworks
that are perfectly legal in Arkansas
and most places below
the Mason-Dixon line.

Imagine that:
our way of celebrating the birth
of 2011,
startled thousands
of precious, wondrous birds
who live with us most of the year,
and caused them to wake from sleep,
fly blindly,
and kill themselves on the trees
where they had roosted
for the night.

Imagine that.

How many I wonder,
will come back to Block Isand
next spring?

Happy New Year!

(Five times a thousand
were baked into a pie.
Until the fireworks
and caused them to fly....)

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.