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“Faith of course tells us that we live in a time of eschatological struggle, facing a fierce combat which marshals all the forces of evil and darkness against the still invisible truth, yet this combat is already decided by the victory of Christ over death and over sin. The Christian can renounce the protection of violence and risk being humble, therefore vulnerable, not because she trusts in the supposed efficacy of a gentle and persuasive tactic that will disarm hatred and tame cruelty, but because she believes that the hidden power of the Gospel is demanding to be manifested in and through her own poor person. Hence in perfect obedience to the Gospel, she effaces herself and her own interests and even risks her life in order to testify not simply to “the truth” in a sweeping idealistic and purely platonic sense, but to the truth t hat is incarnate in a concrete human situation, involving living persons whose rights are denied or whose lives are threatened.”

“A holy zeal for the cause of humanity in the abstract may sometimes be mere lovelessness and indifference for concrete and living human beings. When we appeal to the highest and most noble ideals, we are more easily tempted to hate and condemn those who, so we believe, are perversely standing in the way of their realization.”

Thomas Merton. Faith and Violence: Christian Teaching and Christian Practice. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968: 18-19

Emphasis mine.

I often think of the pond at Carolina.
And I’m trying to find it now.
So I follow the path.  The path is hard to see.

I go by the church, the school,
in afternoon late in winter,
past the dark evergreens—deep in the woods—

where large icicles hang from a barn’s open door.
I walk in a field with a stiff-legged cow.
My arms in the air,  I remember Bill’s picture:

The Setting Sun Coats Shimmering Cat-Tails.
The pond is golden, each bulrush heavy laden:
Yes, bracted spikelets host such perfect flowers.

 

First published in Domicile

A big thank you to Billy the Blogging Poet for hosting the contest and to the 44 of you who voted for me.

And now a hearty congratulations to Amy King, whose victory was, at least in part, due to her giant billboard.  🙂

AmysFlickrBillboard.thumbnail.jpg

 The final results can be seen here.

 Please consider visiting the blogs of the poets who were in the contest.

Bob Hazelton of AveragePoet.com
Steven Schroeder of poetry, philosophy, poetics…
Laurel K Dodge of Possum
Michael Parker of Michael Parker’s Journal
Collin Kelley of Collin Kelley
Alex Gildzen of Arroyo Chamisa
Sherry Chandler of SherryChandler.com
Sam Rasnake of sam of the ten thousand things
Levari of Night Book
Sandra Beasley of Chicks Dig Poetry
Kasey Silem Mohammad of Lime Tree
Rebbecca Loudon of Radish King
Rob Mackenzie of Surroundings
Helen Losse of Windows Toward the World
Pris Campbell of Songs To A Midnight Sky
Amy King of AmyKing.org
Lorna Dee Cervantes of Lorna Dee Cervantes
Nick Bruno of They Shoot Poets

And of Billy the Blogging Poet.

Thanks to Billy and for my friends who nominated me for the opportunity to be among these fine poets.

One of the arguments we often use for not writing is this: “I have nothing original to say. Whatever I might say, someone else has already said it, and better than I will ever be able to.” This, however, is not a good argument for not writing. Each human person is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived. Furthermore, what we have lived, we have lived not just for ourselves but for others as well. Writing can be a very creative and invigorating way to make our lives available to ourselves and to others.

We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them.

“TALLADEGA, Ala. — They come in every day by the bushel. Screeds and manifestos from that small but vocal minority within the NASCAR fan base that believes in Roswell and black helicopters and second shooters on a grassy knoll. They weave conspiracy theories so outrageous, you become convinced that NASCAR chairman Brian France is personally laying down spike strips so a Hendrick car can win. Virtually every writer who covers NASCAR gets them, those e-mails riddled with spelling errors or randomly-placed uppercase letters, written in such a rush of anger that sometimes they hardly make sense. They claim. . . . ” Article, by David Caraviello, continues

And I respond,

Hi David,

I’m going to copy this baby to Word and check my spelling, before I get publicly admonished by you. LOL

 

Here’s my opinion. (That’s what you wrote, too, and got paid for, I hope: Opinion.) Tony Stewart used poor judgment by leaving the track without giving an interview and then airing his views on his radio show. I think he knows that now, unless, of course, he’s playing along because, after all, NASCAR does get the final word on who does and who doesn’t race in their races. And Tony let it be known in his “retirement remarks” that he doesn’t yet have “enough money.” How much is enough I don’t know. Tony Stewart has a crafty, witty kind of intelligence that annoys interviewers who don’t know when he’s kidding and when he’s serious. He plays a “bad boy” well. But the analogy Tony Stewart used with respect to wrestling has been voiced in my living room most Sundays for years.

 

NASCAR is a we-make-it-up-as-we-need-it sport. Sometimes it’s doing so makes sense, such as when safety is involved. Fans love wrecks, but no wants to see a driver hurt or killed. No one. And if we must “forgive” drivers for making decisions at 180 mph, we must consider that a caution is thrown while cars circle the track at that speed, also. An official is like an umpire (before instant replay), he “ain’t blind” no matter what, even if the cameraman can’t find the debris. Reason tells us that no one can un-throw a caution flag, and if it was thrown by accident, well . . . live with it. And no one interviews the NASCAR flag thrower, who unlike a driver who drifts up the track due to a “tire going down” and takes out two or three drivers who “happened to be in this path,” gets to take the blame, as he rattles off every one of his sponsors and every being who spit in a bucket “back at the garage” during the past week. Sometimes, the change-the-rules-as-you-go thing has a certain back-woodsy charm. After all, when we consider NASCAR’s roots, we envision Buddy Baker sliding around curves to deliver the moonshine! And there were rules then? Yeah, right.

 

But sometimes NASCAR’s lack of consistency is just plain aggravating, as it must have been to Stewart. I do know people who have stopped watching NASCAR because of the wrestling thing, and there’s “nothing new under the sun” for Stewart or anyone else. So Tony Stewart just said what’s been said over and over again. Have you noticed that Stewart’s radio “rants” are calm and calculated?

 

NASCAR needs Tony Stewart as much as Stewart needs NASCAR. Have you noticed how many drivers have said that Stewart’s the best driver? Not Jeff Gordon. Not Jimmie Johnson. Not has-anyone-told-him-he’s-a big-whoop-in-open-wheel-but a-NASCAR-rookie the-Juan-man-Pablo. Get told “you’re the man” as often as Stewart has and not win, and no wonder he’s frustrated. Stewart doesn’t think NASCAR didn’t want him to win. He knows NASCAR didn’t allow him to find out if he could win, if his car could make it to the front by racing. That angers Stewart, and it angers the fans. Stewart loves racing. Did you notice the smile when Bobby Labonte out-raced him? Stewart wants a fair race, and he knows NASCAR is not always about racing. Sometimes it’s about “putting on a good show for the fans.” A good show is wrestling, not racing.

 

And yet the drama will continue, fueled by NASCAR and fans and drivers. And by broadcasters and interviewers and columnists. (If it didn’t, you’d be out of a job.) But this isn’t about right and wrong, because no one, including Tony Stewart, would dare shout about that in a world controlled by sponsors.

 

NASCAR didn’t like the wrestling image. So how about this: Is NASCAR “putting on a circus” or a race? Now call me in to “the Big Blue Truck.”

.

UPDATE: After sending this to NASCAR, I received the following e-mail message:

Dear NASCAR Fan,

NASCAR has great respect and appreciation for their fans around the world.

Because of the volume of letters we receive we are not able to reply to every one. However, each and every letter is important to us. Our staff personally reviews each correspondence and is then cataloged as to the nature of the comments.

NASCAR thanks you for taking the time from your busy schedule to write a letter and for your continued support of our sport.


Regards,
NASCAR Public Relations”

.

Guess I’m going to squeak through without a fine. LOL

 

 

Then on the path to Jericho,
I’m plagued by uncertainty,

“Is the man wearing a top coat
my neighbor?”  A girl nudges me,

startles me with gentleness.  We dance.
And the way she tells the story:

No one dances alone.  “Include
is a verb,” she explains.

“Am I wearing the clothing of a liar?”
I ask.  Thankfully, she does not answer.

first published in In the Arms of Words: Poems for Tsunami Relief, limited edition, FootHills Publishing, (June 2005), and In the Arms of Words: Poems For Disaster Relief, Sherman Asher Publishing (October 2005), and later in Paper Snowflakes, available from Southern Hum Press, reprinted in A Bouquet of Poems by Winston-Salem Poets (with Isabel Zuber and Becky Gould Gibson) Poet of the Week on the North Carolina Arts Council web site, selected by Kathryn Stripling Byer (August 2006)

 

 

Writing is not just jotting down ideas. Often we say: “I don’t know what to write. I have no thoughts worth writing down.” But much good writing emerges from the process of writing itself. As we simply sit down in front of a sheet of paper and start to express in words what is on our minds or in our hearts, new ideas emerge, ideas that can surprise us and lead us to inner places we hardly knew were there.

One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as for others to see.

We climbed the lookout tower
that Daddy built, hugged a
branch of the Mulberry Tree,
ate its purple berries,
sat barefoot stringing beads

on a blanket in the yard
under watchful nose of  Mrs. Ross’s
maid, then dripped
chocolaty pudding pops, cooled our-
selves in the water from the hose
or the wading pool,
where Michael leaned to swim—

knit together, purled to a daisy chain,
living our days in the
pinkest shades of clover—

so that later roaming the hills
near the Cabin next to Spring River,
we clambered over
sloping limestone rocks and
small, blue cedars, and we knew
why Mum had said, “One can, all can”
is the only fair way, among siblings.

 

first published in Red River Review and later in Paper Snowflakes, available from Southern Hum Press

paper snowflakes.jpg

 

I have two poems, “Wartime Agenda,” and “Next To the Great, Green

Sea,” on The Peace Tree. Thanks to The Poetry Man of A Poetic Justice

for the opportunity to contribute to this collective art project as we

struggle to rid the world of racism, poverty, and war.

 

 

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