Monday, October 25, 2010

In Honor of St. Crispin's Day

In honor of Henry V, The Battle of Agincourt, The Running French, England & St. George, a very depressing poem (written by little-old-cynical-anglophile me a couple years ago for The Stylus) for a very momentous day:
The Stripped Sleeve
Upon St. Crispin’s Day
I have had some idea of war,
Watched the news specials,
Read all the right articles
In the encyclopedia,
Memorized all appropriate
Passages of poetry.

I can tell Perry from Patton,                                 
The Argonne from Agincourt,
Have measured out thin red lines,
Toe, heel, heel, toe,
Between the rocks at Devil’s Den.

Yes, I know of her.                                                                          

But I met her just the other Tuesday,
Clinging like an oily, tattered coat
To the shoulders of her latest son.

“He has outlived my day,
And come safe home,” she said.

He had a frank face, I remember,
A humble kind of honesty written in his cheekbones -   
But I could not look at him.
He was blind.
Seven teeth were missing.
The smile, they whispered, had been sewn back into place.
Only one surgeon-sautered eye was left to shine,                                  
His last, single star of youth:
Wandering in the socket,
Looking for its mate.

He surely felt me look away.

Could he forget the acrid nights                                                    
And bitter mornings,
That burning city putrefied by passions?

And was his face his honor or his shame?
I will not guess.
For all I have are maps, and books,
And scraps of iambic pentameter
To go by.                                                      

“He will remember with advantages,” she said.

Yet - What good was all my humming of Non Nobis,
Recitations of someday feasting neighbors,
Of showing scars on a saint’s day?
For here a son had stripped his sleeve,
And I could only shudder.

These wounds I had upon St. Crispin’s day.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Rest in Peace, you city streets . . ."

This is a poem/song I wrote years ago - after my first experience of Jury Duty landed me on a month-long triple-gang-murder trial. It reflects the fear and fundamental cultural divides I noticed between the jury (mostly white, well-off retired or near-retired people) and the accused and his victims (teenage Black and Asian gang members from the "westside" of Long Beach). Daniel Chantha was a gang-member, ambushed and shot in the head in the alley behind his home. He was 18. Woody Bunthong, also a gang-member, left a family behind. Sakorn Phan, not in a gang, was shot accidentally in his car when an mp3-player in his hand was mistaken for a gun. Reuel Dishon Hulbert, age 24 at the time of his conviction, went to prison for life. On the trial, I sensed an atmosphere of "well, at least they only kill their kind of people." This poem was a reaction to that attitude.

I imagine it put to music, but I can't come up with tunes to save my life. If anybody wants to put it to a tune, be my guest :-)

Anaheim Street – R.I.P – 12/10/08

Hear the song of a city that’s dying

And coming to life again:

The matter of self-immolation,

Asked only in where and when.

Your shops cry out for the living,

Your nights call out for the dead,

And what can I really be giving,

Except what’s already been said?

Then rest in peace, you city streets,

Rest in your broken pride,

It’s we who sold the place for graves,

Then ran when the ghosts came untied,

Our fear of your sons and daughters,

Might well be justified,

But Daniel Chantha’s mother

Still held him when he died.

“Why weep for what’s already broken?”,

“’Let him perish,’ good riddance, it’s done,”

While the empty ideal of brotherhood

Gets lost in the setting sun,

When we took all the work that had meaning,

And shipped it to Mandalay.

So the fathers strangled the children,

‘Cause at least the cameras would pay.

Then rest in peace, you city streets,

At least we know you tried,

It’s we who have forgotten,

The difference in truth and lies,

Our fear of your sons and brothers

Might well be justified,

But Woody’s daughter Bella

Was orphaned when he died.

Jesus, when will the war be over?

Christ, where does the suffering cease?

Could it be that the hope we’ve been offered,

Was a street kid just like these?

You’ll rest in peace, you city streets,

Just whisper this hope in the night,

Perhaps there’s a justice waiting,

That’s stronger than police lights.

Our fear for our sons and daughters

Is always justified,

But Daniel Chantha’s mother

Will hold him when she dies

Trips Down Memory Lane

Is it incredibly egotistical to enjoy reading over one's old blogposts? I went back to my old PHC blog the other day and spent much more time than I should've re-living old romances, adventures, and many, many nights of "Oh, God, am I still going to be alive when this paper is over?" (On a related note, I think I should get "prophetess points" for seeing ominous portents in the sky the January before the Great Recession reached it's low-point ;-P)

Comparitively, my life is so EASY now.

It's also a lot less fun.

Well, okay, it still is fun. Pretty soon I'm gonna have to write a good post on my new hobby - Civil War Reenacting - which is a BLAST. So, I'm not going to mope (sorry if my last post came across as overly-mopey and self-pitiful - it's been cloudy and cold here and I think it's affecting my mood). But it might be nice for an adventure or two to come knocking.

In books, the heroes always say things like this before the Evil Dragon comes and burns down their village, kills there family, and squashes their cows.



Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Apathy Breeds Death"

Today was the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity.

Trying to think of something profound and inspiring to write - but it isn't working. I admit, after many years of pro-life advocacy one way or another, I've reached the "tired and guilty" stage. Dare I even say, the "apathetic" stage? Not that it's come around suddenly - I've always struggled with making the whole thing matter to my heart. Maybe this is a consequence of my already over-morbid mind, but even videos like this (WARNING: GRAPHIC ABORTION IMAGES/VIDEO - if the link doesn't work, go to fail to arouse that righteous anger which inspires amazing men like Bryan Kemper and Fr. Tom Euteneuer. I'm unable to get much more past "wow, that really sucks."

I see the reality of abortion in the West today, and I know it is deeply, fundamentally wrong. But it's been a while since I did anything about it. I wonder whether the kids who wore red-tape over their mouths today, who got that thrill of counter-cultural rebellion for a cause they know is just, will feel the same way I do in 10 years.

Earlier this year, I used to go down to the local abortion-mill and pray on Saturday mornings. It wasn't much. I didn't sidewalk counsel - there were plenty of ladies doing that already at our local mill, and I was terrified to talk to anyone anyway. I didn't hold a sign or pass out flyers or strum a guitar and sing. I just stood there, Rosary in hand, begging God for mercy as one woman after another passed through the nondescript doors and came out one life the less. Another exercise in feeling rather useless. I told myself that prayer was powerful, that it reached into that unknown world where, I let myself imagine, angels and demons clashed above that squat, brown tombstone-of-a-building. At the very least, I was standing witness - as useless and yet as meaningful as a German civilian standing outside the gates of Buchenwald and pointing it out to his neighbors.

And then the abortion-mill got the hint that Saturday mornings were a ripe time for us to show up - we would sometimes have four or five different groups of people, maybe 25 of us all lined up on the sidewalk on a good morning - and stopped performing abortions on Saturdays. There went my one opportunity to feel like I could actually wear the moniker "pro-lifer."

I can't wear red tape on my mouth at work. I'm not free to volunteer when most pregnancy-centers are open. I vote pro-life. I'll talk pro-life with anyone who asks.

But I'm wondering how to break the silence in my particular corner of the pro-life world.