A New Year

For so many, 2021 was a rough year and we’re not praying for a repeat performance. As I sit here listening to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with its wonderful “Ode to Joy,” I am thinking the world needs more Ode to Joys and more Handel’s Messiahs; more Nutcracker Suites and Madame Butterflys; more Peter Pans and Hans Christian Andersens;  more Georgia O’Keefes and Marc Chagalls; more Misty Copelands and more Mikhail Baryshnikovs; more August Wilsons and more Neil Simons; more Alice Munros and more William Trevors; more Dylan Thomases and more e e cummingses; more Frank Lloyd Wrights and more Buckminster Fullers; more Marie Curies and more Albert Einsteins; more “E.T. and more “Fantasias”; more Harry Potters and more Alice in Wonderlands; more gardens and more starlight; more wonder and awe to remind us that we are here to love and hope, not to fear and hate.

Look in the eyes of a five year old on Christmas morning as they dash for the Christmas tree and believe the world can be a better place. Listen to the laughter of friends and know there are moments to be cherished. Smell the air just before rain and be reminded that anything is possible. Taste the hot chocolate and let your lips curl into a smile. Reach out for the hand of another human being and know that we are not meant to be here alone and that there are those who love us.

I recently heard about an old Cherokee folk tale. A grandfather says to his grandson, “You know a fight is going on inside me between two wolves. One wolf is the wolf of love and hope. The other is the wolf of hate and fear. And the same fight is going inside everyone.”

“Which wolf will win?” the grandson asked.

“The one you feed.”

So feed the wolf of love and hope. And give the world a little more wonder and joy. That is my request for myself and for all of you.

I raise my glass to you and wish you all a blessed New Year, my wonderful Readers.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Where nightmares come from

The nightmares came slowly, subtly. Working their way through the mist of his sleep, the dreams came. They came and they would not stop.

They got so bad that he resisted sleep. After two or three days in the ring of resistance with a punch of coffee, a jab of no-doze, he found himself on the ropes. Then he was down and asleep, and the nightmares were back. He asked several of his friends to keep him awake. They tried their best, slapping him awake, even used him as a punching bag from time to time. This worked for about a week. Then he fell flat on his face. He was down and out.

The day he fell asleep at the wheel of his BMW, he crashed into a tree. His car was totaled, and he went into in a coma.

That’s when the gods really got active. Hephaestus forged more nightmares, hammering them into hard, steel swords.

Several days later Hermes came to the Swordmaker’s furnace. “I’m here for the swords,” he said to the Swordmaker.

Hephaestus took each of the ten swords, admired his work, then passed them on to the Messenger. Hermes turned and jumped. His winged boots lifted him into the air and to the River Styx, that dark, dank cesspool which flows out of the Underworld. Chiron was there to meet him with his ferry.

The Boatman drove his barge uphill toward the Halls of Olympus. The river slowly cleared of its puss and soon they were at the foot of the home of the gods.

Hermes flipped a coin to Chiron. Otherwise he could not get off the barge. Even gods have to pay the piper. He arrived at the Halls of Olympus and Hera stepped from behind a curtain.

“Are these them?” she asked, realizing that they were.

“Good,” she said, lifting the swords into her arms.

She took them and made the ten thousand miles to the Dream Room with three steps. As she did, she thought, “This will teach that son of a bitch not to choose me.”

The nightmare-laden man lay in his coma while the swords dropped one by one into his subconscious. They came fast and furious. One after another, they came.

His body jerked, then shook.

“Call the doctor, stat,” the nurse called out from his room. She grabbed the paddles from the defibrillator and placed them on his chest, trying to jumpstart his heart. A doctor in his green scrubs rushed into the room. He did a quick take of the situation, then stopped the nurse. He realized that the man’s body was dead.

He turned the cleaning-up over to the nurse and walked out of the hospital room and into the waiting room.

“I’m afraid Paris is dead, Miss Troy,” he said to the tall, blue-eyed blonde Amazon before him.

micropoem for the day: dreams

Take the word “dream”. Just five letters long but it can cause one heck of a piece of trouble or be the source of such joy. Turn the word over and over in your mouth and listen to its sound. It’s a word that wants to continue. It doesn’t have a sudden stop the way some words do.

It tilts the imagination this way or that. Towards windmills or rabbit holes. It can recall sea chanties or stories of urchins on a street. It can drive one to take risks others won’t take and take up causes that might change the world. 

head on the pillow
off to another country
called Dreamland

Scrounge

He was a scrounge. That was even his middle name. It started when he was the last of a batch of ten kids and went downhill from there. In those days, they just called him “Young’un.”

He went in the Army and couldn’t march. When you’re a private and can’t march, you’re a walking-talking target. And you’re doing more than your share of k.p. That’s how he became a cook. Just a cook—and not even a short-order cook.

After he mustered out, he went to hashing it out in the worst kind of dump of a diner in a seedy part of a town in the seediest part of the state. You know, the kind of place where they hold rodeos for the roaches. You ride ‘em like some do the bull riding.

He saved up. After five years of bad hash and even worse rooms in the local rooming joint, he had enough for a down payment on a farm. He’d always dreamed of having a farm. He wanted to raise goats. The woman who sold him the goats was named Betty. He married Betty.

Then they headed on out to the farm he’d bought. He’d never actually seen it before. He found it on Ebay, put in his bid, and won. The description had been perfect for what he had in mind. A two bedroom farm house on three acres of land set against the mountains in picturesque Colorado.

They drove out from the town, the newly-weds Betty and Roger. Then they realized that once again he had been taken. He had bought the only piece of desert in whole state of Colorado.