The more he evaded the truth,
the tighter his testimony
became wedged between the incredulous and the ludicrous.
Finally, it buckled--right there in the witness stand.
And he was left entangled in the wreckage of his own deceit.
They say that as the twig is bent, so grows the tree...
and I have seen it--crooked little saplings forced to cower.
They wrench their twisted limbs and drop their flying seeds haphazardly to scavenge midst hard roots. Their boughs are educated to bend low and make no answer.
Yet I have heard them shriek--an awkward, unbecoming, and completely futile objection to certain fierce storms--before they droop to seethe in distorted silence.
They said I had a demon--but I knew better.
A thousand of the dirty things were screaming through my mind,
and, when I counted echoes in the caves, I heard a million.
They compelled me.
They controlled me.
They consumed me.
Until I--like a tortured breath of smoke--quivered, crying while they stormed, broke chains, snapped locks, and raged.
I was a mad, mad man in a world of shrouded, swine-smelling darkness.
Until the morning--the morning after that big storm.
It had raged all night.
They had too, dragging me along for the frenzy.
I was so tired at dawn's approach,
so collapsed and curled-up in the cave,
that I almost missed the sound of His light footsteps.
a foreign flame that kindled my last longing...
Could my little smoke escape them?
Could I run blazing through that pandemonium palisade,
a spewed chunk of tinder trembling through the sky in a feeble arc of fire?
No pause before I sprang; no time for second guessing,
just a savage leaping toward the man ascending from the dock.
I charged, shaking and I ran straight to him...
Then I crumpled at his feet--
for they had caught me.
All awake and stomping, they were roaring in my throat.
I couldn't talk. I couldn't beg. The nasty things were crowding, stifling the scream of my so-desperate soul with their incessant, endless babbling, leaving me no voice...no voice at all.
Then, merciful Heaven above! The things were leaving!
I felt the pain of thunderous clawing as they trampled in their haste to slam the door.
In the faint and far off distance I could hear them--squealing, snorting--
as they dove off jagged cliffs that lined the shore.
The most beautiful nothing I'd ever felt.
They brought me clothes. I ate some bread.
And then we talked. No noisy interruptions.
My whole voice was mine again.
So I offered it to follow Him.
And I told my story...like I'm telling it now,
over and over in my own still voice.
What a difference a day made!
So today I journey on,
each step a pinch of pain.
Dust rising from the road
stresses my tin-stiff skin.
"Oil!," I cry, "Oh Oil!,"
but my eyes stay dry,
stoic and unbended,
as I keep creaking
up the long road,
with all my
Written for "We Write Poems." The Prompt was "Wizard of Oz".
A shimmering pink
effect of the sun on an
immense evening sky
This sky greeted us when we stepped out of church last Sunday evening. I went running to get my camera and met Claye, my daughter, who had already anticipated that action and was bringing it...snapping pictures all the way. At first, the color was more of a tangerine but it soon gave way to this. Within a few minutes, it was gone to gray. This lavish beauty splashed out randomly in the sky overwhelms me some times. What an artist!
He said, but I, reluctant, turned away
And blindly ran, and furious from his face
So he waited, and he watched and he called from far behind… Be mine. Be mine.
Faintly I discerned it through the party noise and wine Be mine. I still love you, Valentine.
And I drowned it out with music and everything was fine
for my head no longer echoed with Be mine... Be mine... Be mine...
Then a crash...a terrible quietness... the silence was sublime!
All I had for hearing was the snorting of the swine
And the seconds madly ticking as they counted out the time
Then I wanted
Then I waited
Then I missed
Then I listened
Though it seemed a desperate chance
my life was on the line
and I thought I heard a shadow of a voice that said Be mine
A voice that seemed so distant it was difficult to find
Yet I made the desperate journey
Cowed before his holy face
He was Justice. I was Crime
I'm not complaining about the clouds, mind you. I'm not unappreciative of the wind and the shade. Nor do I mind the gorgeous shards of white and gray created by the sun's poking around trying to find a way through the swirls of cloud that cover the entire dome of sky.
For many weeks I scrubbed it, that spot so white, so dead.
I told myself it couldn't be, but then the patches spread.
The doctors gasped; I found myself alone outside the city;
I wept as people watched in fear, their loathing mixed with pity.
Alone I begged beside the path where once I'd proudly walked; They threw me little scraps of bread, but no one stayed to talk.
I missed their touch, my son's small hand, my father on my arm, my wife--If she should get it too-- "Unclean! Stand Back!" "Alarm!"
I waited...and I wearied...I'd forgotten how to pray.
I grew cynical and surly, and I dreaded every day
One evening brought two hurried men; I heard their tattered speech: "He's meddlesome...he'd better leave...he angers all the priests.He breaks the sabbath, quotes the scripture as if it were his own, Talks to sinners...and touches things that were better left alone."
At a distance in the evening gray, I saw them all outlined,
a dozen rushing far ahead, and a weary one behind.
I dared not think. I only ran, with a burst of speed that drained me,
feet tearing on the jagged rocks; but nothing would restrain me.
Then in the dust beside the road I crumpled overcome,
I bled unclean upon the path. To what depths had I plunged?
I heard my own heart throbbing, then footsteps on the path.
I covered my head to shield it from the traveler's certain wrath.
Footsteps tired...slowing....stopping. I dared not face the man.
I just cried "If you are willing....Sir I know, I know you can."
Then I felt it. His hand upon me. "I am willing. You are clean."
He had touched me. I was human. I was not a thing obscene.
He had touched me! The untouchable! "Show the priests that you are well." "Don't tell anyone who healed you."
But of course....I had to tell.
Every now and then I like to respond to one of Mad Kane's Limerick Prompts. Her latest challenge is giving a first line and asking readers to finish it. This week it was: "There's a fellow who loves his caffeine..." Here's my entry.
There's a fellow who loves his caffeine And his handy espresso machine He blames, with conviction, His mother's addiction And claims he's inherited the gene.
I found this great picture to illustrate it, a machine worthy of a coffee addict's love.
"Such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere."
This quote from Elrond in Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring is one of my favorite quotes about heroes. No, they weren't super heroes. In fact, when the most difficult time came, they would have faltered but for a grasping enemy who expedited their task. And yet they were heroic-- persisting, assuming certain death at the end of the journey, yet plodding on. They had no special powers, no mighty, earth-shattering abilities, no extraordinary mental acuity. Nothing, really, to qualify them for adulation and fanfare. That's the kind of hero I admire.
There are many such heroes in the world today; we just don't know their names.
This evening I fought the thirteen fearsome dragons once again. All of them. I entered the circle to announce my presence and caught the little black one asleep. Jumping up onto his flat belly, I blared out my intentions to the others, who snorted and pawed at the edge of the ring:
"Alright. Here's the rules! I'll fight only one at a time. Line up, you scumbags. No fire breathing. No attacking from behind...absolutely no ganging up and no running away until it's all over and I've won. Because I WILL win, and you know it."
There were a dozen more of them, and I'd nothing to do but attack immediately. The second beast I squeezed to death using just my mighty arms. The third I easily swept out of the way with a series of vicious side kicks. That fourth one was a little tricky, but intimidation won at last. With a fierce shake I pulled him toward me and thrust him away, rattling his head until he turned and collapsed in a pile of dragon scales on bone. Ah, but the fifth one was uncommonly devious. Before I knew what I was about, she pinned my arms above me and I was left defending with only my feet. Kicking and kicking I strained the muscles of my calves against her leathery, relentless hide, until she released me at last and cowered back into her fetal position. Not taking a moment to rest, I assailed the sixth with a series of upward thrusts to nail his jaw. Over and over I attacked until this treacherous reptilian foe squawked like a wet hen and crumpled to the floor. Dragon number seven jumped onto my back and doubled me over. I think she thought she could snuffle me into the ground and smear my face on the mat...but no. I sat up...and sat up... and sat back up, until her claws released their grip and she stiffened with a sigh. I ran for number eight, even as she whirled around behind me. Grabbing her arms I forced them forward, twisting and ripping relentlessly. She was no match for me. The ninth dragon was an old fellow and much taller than I. He positioned his nasty, scratchy paws on my shoulders and heavy was the weight I felt as he forced my knees to bend. "No. You shall not conquer!" and I struggled to my feet again and again with iron resolve. At last he too was forced to quit the battle and I moved to the tenth and final enemy in the circle. Like Moses fighting the Amelek, I flung my arms into the air. Now I was winning. Now the dragon. Back hands to the sky! I was winning. Then the dragon. Then I. It took twenty times, and the last two or three my arms were shaking, trembling with fatigue and pain as again and again I held them high. The sighing and creaking stopped. So silent they sat. Steel and not so formidable after all. I determined to chase them home. " Run. Run. You sadistic creatures! I've bested the worst o' ye, I have!" Alas! It wasn't over yet. Dragon number eleven came charging from the back room and took off running; I gave chase, running on a road that never led to anything, trying my best to catch up to him, but never gaining, never losing. There. With a last feeble peep, he stopped; but scaly beast Twelve took off on skies, and I slogged behind until he, too, fell still and smoldering. Leviathan Thirteen took a bicycle; I grabbed mine. I pedaled. Again the feeling of inevitable defeat, as the road beneath was the same...same...same...same... Then I knew...I could not kill them. Tomorrow they would be here again, in their circle of challenge, frothing angry and stronger.
Today, I'll compose a poem, I think, and depart from the usual prose remembering conventions, yet not forgetting to weave in the three words you chose. They prime the creation of countless responses Ignite the imagination And cause several wanna-be poets to say: "This is rotten!" and give up in frustration.
Yesterday we went to the Rattlesnake Derby. Crowds, of course, milling around staring at rattlesnakes and drawling in Texan. Booths in the streets and traffic in the alleys. Carnival squawking and smells of strange things cooking. Rattlesnake meat Deep fried turkey legs Crawdads They shared a turkey leg--not bad They tried some rattlesnake--like a tough chicken neck But those crawdads! Oh those crawdads! They looked and smelled as if they had just crawled up from a stagnant drainage ditch and died in the broiling sun. My husband was giddy with delight. He bought a couple, cracked them open and scrapped out the tiny bits of white meat. Only my son-in-law was brave enough to join him in the feast. They pronounced it delicious. I made sure they carried the garbage out to the dumpster. So many strange things people caller dinner! But I can't bite something that looks that much like a trilobite.
I think we all have a great desire to show someone something marvelous...simply because we love that look--that amazed look of wonder. I don't remember the first time I saw mountains or the ocean or a jumping frog...but I remember seeing the amazement on the face of my little brother and sister when they saw them. I remember that great sense of glee that pervaded me. They were now closer to me, because they had been awestruck by the same natural beauty that had bowled me over years ago.
My children's discoveries gave me a sense of satisfaction: I had been given the honor of introducing them to the world. Beauty and Majesty were properly assigned, and the word "Awesome" was now understandably reserved for the Creator of something beyond our power to produce.
Today, I take joy in watching my grandchildren as they see the same glorious marvels. My favorite pictures are those in which their minds are focused on discovery and wonder!
Here. Wear this old leopard skin so he can’t identify you as human. Hold the sword just so. Don’t deviate from anything I’ve taught you. Go for the jugular when he raises his wings and comes at you. That will saturate his larynx and quench the fire.
Remember, if you so much as deviate by a hair’s breadth, the acetylene tank will burst prematurely, saturating your clothes with its volatile explosives. There won’t be anything left to identify.
Saturate your skin with this scent, dahling. It helps maintain the right attitude. Don’t deviate from the center of the stage…just hold your head…so…turn your shoulders and freeze until the announcer starts to identify the designer, then turn, smoothly, and walk down the aisle!
Trust in this law, my Son. Saturate your mind with its statutes. Don't deviate to the right or to the left. Then I will bless your ways and all those who see you will identify you as one of mine.
Keep it simple. Identify your three main points. Don't deviate from the subject. Don't over-saturate the audience with words. And, most importantly of all: Say something!
He pondered. He stewed. He fretted and brooded over every somber dawn. His life was weighed by worry As fearful visions scurried across his eyes. His tired face was drawn.
How ponderous How heavy The future stretched before him... days like stacks of ironwood piled up in endless cords He sighed his mornings all away They vanished quietly one day Like dust. Time wasn't heavy anymore.
My second most favorite online puzzle. The game is from Puzzle Pirates. The picture is my own little pirate working at the apothecary.
Someone out there wanted the link to this game: Here it is. http://www.puzzlepirates.com/?affiliate=r1026255&lang=en Also, here is a link to an old blog entry of mine which shows thirteen of the different kinds of puzzles you can play--yes, there are more. http://keepingup-lilibeth.blogspot.com/2008/02/thirteen-games-on-puzzle-pirates-arrrr.html
I demand that you sit there and listen. I demand that you pay me to sing. I demand that hotel rooms be fit for my taste. I’m a super-star media queen! I demand ‘cause you swoon at my presence You’re the slave and you live in my light! Yet you sigh and you scream just to fulfill my dream! And you never suspect that there’s something not right With this picture…
I remember an old story of a young, stuttering Greek who wanted to become an orator. Every day he put pebbles into his mouth and stood on the stormy seashore screaming at the waves. Oh to be understood! As a teacher, I sometimes feel the same despairing need for fluency. How can I reach them: Those ears anesthetized by i-pods; those eyes so mesmerized by random image assaults of cool, meaningless bangles of trivia; those senses battered by rushing overloads of excitement in games and rides and toys and human drama on the screen.
Oh for a child who can still be amazed! For that one, I'll spend hours at the beach, stuffing pebbles into my mouth.
It sounds so exciting...but how can it last? A flaming, a laughing, a life for the present, And why should you think about all that's unpleasant? Why have a regret? Why care about duty? Just live like a butterfly--savor the beauty!
So history happens again and again And man never learns from the places he's been.
Compassion and caution are lost in the laughter And nobody grows up. . . or cares what comes after.
But mankind is learning, and much to their sorrow....
My seniors study a bit of philosophy, and we just finished a unit on 'ethics'. One of my students from Indonesia, who aspires to be an honest politician, has latched onto this phrase and uses it in odd moments--at the concession stand, for instance, when someone wants to sell the leftover,overcooked and bursting cheese sticks with the advertisement: "Cheese bursts--an explosion of flavor!" "Legal, but not ethical", he cautions, happy to have caught me at my own game.
It isn't quite true that we cannot legislate morality; otherwise why would there be laws at all. not driving under the influence, buying someone's goods and services instead of stealing them, nurturing children instead of stringing them up by their thumbs or chaining them in the basement, not slandering your neighbor in court: these are moral behaviors and we legislate them all the time. We prevent anarchy by controlling what people do.
But there is a morality we cannot legislate; it is the morality of the heart: The "ought" in "What ought you to do?" It mimics the character of God and flies contrarily in the face of what is easiest, and what may seem beneficial at the time. Ethics is about others, and our desire to give them the same consideration we want for ourselves. It is about not taking advantage of someone's subservient position, innocence, or ignorance in order to advance our own pleasure at their expense.
Ethics holds true even when the law goes contrary to conscience.
My son has an elderly Russian friend who grew up in Communist Russia. He asked her why her uncles had been arrested and she said: "You ask the wrong question. The question should be "What year were they arrested?" The law had clearly become unethical...as it often does.
Ethics is about what is right. That doesn't always square with what the current law demands.
Germany had a holocaust and murdered over six million Jews: Legal--but not ethical For years, slaves from Africa were sold around the world: Legal--but not ethical Many native Americans were driven from their lands because of broken treaties: Legal--but not ethical. In some countries today women have no basic rights: Legal--but not ethical. In others, unwanted children are murdered before birth so they "won't be abused" afterward: Legal--but not ethical.
And while I respect the laws of the land, there is a law within me that I have to live with--a higher standard. If I don't, I will have to answer for it, and a poor defense will be: "but it was legal"