Sunday, July 19, 2009

Country Scents and Weeds

I drove back to the city from visiting a friend recently and from there to here or here to there, crops were growing like gangbusters. A green lush carpet of plantings and growings spread out as far as I could see on both sides of the road. I took back roads part of the way. In the city you can't smell growing things from a car window. But in the country in July the corn and soybeans growing smell is still fragrant.

Which got me to thinking about weeds and ways we deal with them these days.

That early month of March when the grass is still
Brown, a green blade or bright flower is welcome.
I’m thirsty for green and yellow, and every year
Delight in a field of dandelions and wild violets.

I remember my Mom most every month ‘till she
Surrendered again in July, using a rusty knife
That became a yard tool when one summer night
It was left on the step after cutting cucumbers.

Mom made war digging roots with that knife, laying
The defeated on old muslin sheets and then emptying
The bundle on the pile behind the chicken coop.
Every year they survived to fight her again and win.

Hours of most pretty spring days she would be seen
Digging weeds from the otherwise green of a long
Sloping lawn around our house in the country, in
Old dress, shoes and a bonnet; a vision in memory.

Moving to town, she seemed a wild woman to the townies.
She strung a clothes line out back and carved a garden
From the perfect green sod to grow vegetables on a
Smaller scale since she was alone. It did not thrive.

In that place no one dug their weeds, preferring to
Pay a tank truck driver to spray the grass with a lethal
Brew of poison that seemed to target only the weeds and
It would seem potatoes, tomatoes and mush melon.

July 19, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Once Upon a Country, A Palestinian Life

I finished reading Once Upon a Country by Sari Nusseibeh. I bought this book shortly after it was published in 2007. I had read a review in the Saturday CJ and it sounded interesting. I’m always interested in personal history across the context of larger world events. It resided on the stack by the door for two years. Every time I had the choice of reading it or something else, I chose something else; even reading the Pentagon book first. I started reading the first of the month because I knew it would be in my mind and not talking to anyone daily, I’d not be bringing up the latest few pages in conversation. When I started the book I had read the fly leaf and reviews on the back cover and expected something that was hate filled and of violent speech. That’s not what I found.

First is the history of a family that has lived in Israel for over 1300 years. A family that owned a lot of land and was with its extended members spread all over the area. The child Sari is educated in all the best schools in Israel and England and America. But that in itself is not remarkable. Many people are well educated and revert back to stupidity.

The Nusseibeh family are trustees, according to tradition, for the key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This fact would in itself be a story, however it is presented as a fact and not discussed, except to reveal how dedicated his family has been to peace in Jerusalem.

The story was that there were many Arabs living in that country who wanted peace, and have wanted it for a long time. It seemed that every time when the moderate peace lovers made contact with people on the other side who also wanted peace, the powers in charge of each side did whatever they could to force the other to use violence and repression to keep them from making peace. People were arrested, assassinated, put out of their homes or marginalized in some way that took what influence they had away.

An example was Ariel Sharon who supported the unpopular cleric Sheik Yessin. This man was the root of Hamas. When the peace lovers wanted Yasser Arafat to endorse non-violence from Fatah, he would just let the impetus sit and not react either way creating a void and power hungry factions stepped in.

Arafat was a man who was paranoid. However he got power he lived most of his life working to keep it. He paid off each faction that would try to supplant him. Therefore he was standing on an ever moving platform whose purpose was to keep balance, and thereby no real progress was made because all effort was put into keeping balance and remaining in power.

Sharon was similar in that he supported the most violent faction and at the same time, continued to push building settlements thereby forcing the Arabs into walled off communities. The Israeli Wall is similar to the Berlin Wall and will ultimately be as ineffective. Sharon gained power from being a reactionary to Arab violence which he had stirred up in supporting violent factions. A circle without end and the same reaction to the same push.

All through the story, Sari refers to Palestine. The thing is that geographic area has been known by that name for over a thousand years. Arabs and Jews lived in the country peacefully for over a thousand years. The Crusades, the British Mandate and Zionism as well as other efforts to “capture” Jerusalem is what brought violence to the country.

I’ve thought from the beginning of my consciousness about Israel and Palestine, that the Israelites have treated the Arabs as someone they can victimize. The Arabs have spent their efforts to get power yet there is no effort to be cohesive in their debate with Israel. Why one base of power when you can have 15! Therefore nothing of a single purpose gets done. Countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey try to get factions of Arab Palestinians to working for those countries, who after all will only use them as an arm of violence to kill the Jews in Israel.

Neither side of this conflict wants peace at least not the politicians. Sari's belief, and I believe he is right, knows the real power is with the people becoming the force that makes their governments make peace.

Sari is a philosopher in thought and action. He speaks of the will of the individual and how nothing is accomplished without that will. He is right.

I wonder if he will write another book as this one does not speak about the 2006 July war, nor his mother’s death or the country now that our administration has changed.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Day of Blessing For Memory

Today is lovely in Kentucky. This is a day you remember and bring to mind when it is February and most days are unpleasant. I admit that when it's winter here and it's the tenth day of below twenty temperatures, I start to believe it will never be fine weather again. This is not reasonable and of all things a person who is sane must be is reasonable when thinking of weather.

I was out early today and as usual when driving up the hill a bunny ran ahead of me. I see this rabbit often when I look out the back window onto the groundhog field. Is it aware of me? Does it linger on the grass there listening for the sound of my truck engine? I think it does.

Ground hogs have returned to that field again this year and they are fat. I see a small one or two also, so they have reproduced a new family. This is a hopeful thing and as I walk out to sit on my bench under the shade of trees that volunteered to grow here, I watch the skies for hawks. Those predators cleared the lot of bunnies and ground hogs two years ago.

On Sunday I also saw a yellow finch perched on a fallen limb under the large maples at the edge of the ground hog field. I never have my camera when I should.

This is a poem I wrote that my muse told me was good and I should publish. I started a folder for good poems I’d written yesterday:

I spent my day today
Filling my mind with
Stories and articles
And poems and
Conversations with
Strangers I will never meet,
And really would not want to.

All I want now is to empty
Myself at your feet and
Talk into the late late night
Over good whiskey and
Bad light, though I don’t
Mind seeing your face here.

The music of life is so much
Sweeter when entering the
Ear of a magnificent other,
Today or any day.

May 22, 2006

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I always forgive. Even if they haven't the sense to be sorry. I forgive because I don't want the burden of a grudge. Now that doesn't mean I'm going to put myself in their life.

There is evil in the world and if you cannot avoid it, you deal with it and move on. Revenge is a dish best served cold and sometimes a true and honest forgiveness of a person who wronged you is a kind of revenge, as they know they'd not forgive you in a similar circumstance.

I would want to be forgiven by anyone I wronged. I believe God's forgiveness is the same as the forgiveness of those people.

I came across this poem I wrote some time ago:

In that moment when I know
My death is as near as my skin,
I know I would not allow it to
Overtake me as it planned to do.

The numerical odds on death
Increase for people who live
Their lives running down
The steep grassy hill, without

Any thought that there are
Trees rocks. danger at the bottom.
The numerical odds on death
Shrink for people who take

The stone steps lined with
Hand rails, down the hill;
Who sit on a bench along the
Way to rest before continuing.

Though my belief that we are
In charge of our death has
Not a single thing to do with
The numerical odds of things.

May 31, 2009