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The Middle East wears me down. Every day they hate. Every day they kill.
The great prophets of three religions all rose from that one area, yet very few of their followers seem to have embraced their lessons. It must be that the constant hatred, the revenge, the justification of murder inevitably gives rise to men of peace. There must always come a time when good and honest souls look at what is and say: "There has to be a greater purpose to our existence than this tradition of carnage."
Is God dead, or did he walk away in disgust?
It's now been exactly one year since I held full time work. Kind of a silly way to start, but that's the dominant thought for me today.
Writing should be a valuable tool for my sanity. I need a place to go and be creative when I can't be productive; a place to untangle the raging traffic-jam of thoughts that occupy my mind.
It's tough to hit forty-four and suddenly have your life turned inside out. Tough on anyone I guess. Tough to keep faith in a system that has no faith in the American worker.
I'll keep my faith.
I can't seem to get away from these American Idol people. It's like the O. J. trial, or Darva Conger all over again.
I don't care about this pre-fab mania anymore than I cared about retarded bimbos who sold their self-respect for a shot at fame by t.v., and fortune by marriage; but there they are anyway - no matter where I try to hide.
Kids that are growing up in this day and age are constantly gang-sold by media conglomerates that cut off every means of escape. Talent is no match for machinery when it comes to creating stars.
A friend's wife died last week. I haven't seen him in almost a year, since our relationship was based on a common workplace that doesn't exist anymore. The obituary was in the local paper.
It was a terrible loss for him, I'm sure of that. He was a big guy and could be gruff, but he always spoke of his wife with a note of pride in his voice.
I hope he was surrounded by friends when she passed. I hope they offered words of comfort and solace. But could words ever console a loss so personal and deeply felt?
Poetry is really a tricky business. You find yourself believing it's simple - child's play - and maybe it is. Maybe the key is not to try so hard to rhyme. Maybe the key is to let the emotion inside you pour out in a shameless torrent and then shape those words into a statement of truth.
I think there's poetry inside me. I think it's imprisoned by my unflinching belief that men shouldn't allow that part of their persona the freedom to emerge. I think I'm afraid that the man I've worked at being all my life would disapprove.
Too many times lately, there's been a tendency to blame the economic woes of this country on last September 11th. It may have had an effect on some industries - the airlines for sure - but my company eliminated almost four hundred necessary jobs in July, two months before the tragedy.
They closed the building - said it was too old and in a bad spot. They never told us why our jobs couldn't move to a new location. They looked at jobs that paid a living wage and all they saw was the potential for profit and big bonuses.
There is poetry in truth
unaligned and shameless
a light unto itself
There is destiny in hope
liquid and relentless
unbowed by veins of stone
There is reason in unselfishness
timeless and unerring
conscience knows no boundaries
There is honor in friendship
truth and hope shared
needless of approval
There is tranquility in laughter
unrestrained and honest
a force outside destruction
There is passion in silence
saying all to those who listen
There is faith in disagreement
thoughts, boldly uncertain
unmindful where they tread
There is glory in acceptance
civil and benign
no threat could gain as much
She spoke softly, but the effect was startling. There was a confident sweetness in her voice that was missing in so many women. A quick glance into her eyes confirmed all hopes: they were open and honest with a delicious hint of mischief.
Her features were delicate and human in a way Hollywood could never understand. Brown eyes and full lips framed by a feathered mane of deep brown hair, a smile that needed no rehearsal.
Love at first sight is rare, but not so rare as finding a priceless jewel where so many have passed by while eagerly searching.
The two of them stood there laughing, too caught up in the moment to notice someone was watching them. The loud, though oddly dull thumping sound from above their heads was the first signal.
Gary Benson's angry, contorted face was visible in the small observation window that looked down over the plant floor. He pounded the side of his fist against the small window again several more times; so hard the two of them thought it would shatter and rain glass shards all over their heads.
"Shit Norm" said Denny, " he looks pissed... Better go see what he wants."
His Silver BMW swerved through the morning traffic like some self-important pinball. It wasn't enough to go eighty-five in the passing lanes, reserving his childish competitiveness to tailgating those who were merely speeding. But any driver so timid as to care about the safety of others was immediately headed off as the pinball counter in his mind continued to tick off his new high score.
He never saw the white Mercury coming. It materialized like some oversized metal marshmallow, flashing by on his right side, lurching madly to the left a split second later and then slamming the breaks hard.
"Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"
This may be the most important question we can ever ask of ourselves as a nation. It is not enough to simply fly the red white and blue, not enough to merely wear the trappings of patriotism. What this question asks of us, and will continue to ask all throughout our history, is whether that symbol still represents a nation willing to bear the sadness and sacrifice that inevitably burden those who yearn to live in freedom.
The clock/radio flicked on automatically at five. Danny's eyes opened involuntarily, blinked a couple of times, then closed again. The song from the radio started softly and increased in volume until he recognized it as an "Eagles" tune. He wanted desperately to ignore the music and fall back to sleep, but, as his conscious mind began to stir and gather data, he remembered he'd set it himself the night before. He had to get up now, and he damn well knew it. Still, what would a few more minutes matter? He slapped the snooze button without even lifting his head.
The little dog trotted happily up the street, stopping to sniff at or pee on every mailbox and lawn ornament he happened upon. There was no way to be sure he was happy of course; but the poor thing spent most of his time tied to the bumper of a rusting F-250 down the street, so it was a pretty fair assumption that his newfound freedom was likely to brighten his spirit.
He meandered past a couple of trash barrels and hesitated briefly. He turned and stared at them, as though weighing his options, then made a beeline toward home.
What do you write about when you can't think of anything? I guess this must be the true test of a writer: to make something happen without benefit of inspiration.
The funny thing is, I have plenty to think about. I hope to be hired in a full time capacity again this week, there's an election for Governor in my home state, and my daughter made editor of her school newspaper.
There are always thoughts rolling like tumbleweeds through my imagination. They seem, vaguely, to be important, but when I focus my attention on them they seem shallow and insignificant.
Karen set about readying the table for dinner as she did almost every night of the week. It was nearly six and the internal clocks of her brood would soon call their attention to the kitchen. That or, like Pavlov's dogs, their stomachs would grumble unanimously to signal their hunger. Either way, they would be coming.
She didn't use fancy cloth napkins or silverware, or her best dishes either. This table wasn't used for decoration but for eating. Paper napkins and stainless steel were good enough as everyday meals went. Her men were easy to please and unimpressed by artifice.
I know I'm a real American. I don't need to take any tests or swear any oaths to prove it.
What bothers me is how the two polar political opposites continue to fight over control of political thought which, in it's most pure incarnation, needs no leadership. On one side are the pompous and arrogant, and on the other the pious and arrogant. Political correctness is the community property of the Left and the Right, used with equal deftness by both against any that dare dissent.
I will make up my own mind on every issue, one at a time.
There should be a great fear in this country over our government's proposed war against Iraq. It's not that I disagree with holding Saddam Hussein accountable for his flouting of sanction after sanction with little or no UN action. No, I worry that Iraq will make our soldiers a better financial offer and they will change sides.
Over the past ten to fifteen years, corporations have expressed the need to do away with loyalty to the American worker. Since those same workers, or their children, will be doing the fighting to protect those same corporations, isn't that a legitimate worry?
Kita moved slowly but deliberately across the kitchen floor. Though his body had outgrown its kittenish dimensions, there was still awkwardness to his form. So thin was his frame that his legs seemed comically long, and his tail curved out from his body like that of a spider monkey.
The food dish had been sitting in the same spot since this morning, but he checked at odd intervals to see what may have been left there while he wasn't looking. He bent his head into the dish, sniffed, then lifted it up in disappointment and padded off into the den.
Where is the bathroom? A simple enough question, and one people have no trouble answering once you're desperate enough to ask. But having to ask is the root of my problem.
A creature of habit needs continuity; needs to know where everything is and when everything happens. Starting fresh, without the first idea of when lunch is; when the coffee break is; who to call when you're too sick to go to work; and yes, where the bathrooms are located, is as uncomfortable to me as walking in the front door naked would be. I shouldn't care, but I do.
The song on the radio brought the memories flooding back. Good memories, full of laughter and dancing; of pleasure and shared secrets. It had played in the background during some of their happiest times together, even when no radio was present.
The music also brought back that final, sad memory. Her action: a perfect demonstration of indifference, the definition of finality. She simply turned away. Away from that futile gesture of apology, from the one last dance that would have proved there was still some connection. She turned and embraced the nearest warm body and made the point perfectly clear.
Andy didn't mean to stare. It was rude and inconsiderate and crossed many an ethical line. But Jean was standing right there, happily gabbing to her friend Linda, and completely unaware she was standing between his desk and the sun's late afternoon rays as they poured in through the office window.
The sunlight hit at just the right angle and rendered her dress all but invisible. He had noted to himself how pretty she looked wearing it that morning when she came into work. Now, the visible outline of her figure thickened his breathing. He felt sure everyone would notice.
They huddled near the door waiting for the horn to sound. Leaving the building before then was a sure-fire way to get fired. The policy was understandable to the workers who'd been there the longest, but there was always some greenhorn who figured a couple of seconds here or there wasn't going to hurt anybody. Experience had taught management the sorry lessons of human nature. The old: "Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile." bit was alive and well, so nobody got the chance to warm up their car before leaving. Not even at two in the morning.
Arthur didn't like it when the customers looked over his shoulder. It was bad enough he had to tramp around in their musty basements to do his job. Some people didn't even bother to clean the place up, even though they knew he was coming. Yeah, it was a real joy to scrape the carbon scoring and the grime off some white-collar marshmallow's burner, getting dust and cobwebs all over himself while everything reeked of oil, and sometimes the smell of cat or dog shit mixed in just for good measure. Why did they have to stand there and watch?
Terry sat staring out at the dance floor. His dark eyes were intense: alive with menace and rage.
Like most nights out on the town, fighting was not a part of the initial plan. Terry and his friends wanted nothing more than to have a couple of drinks and enjoy themselves. Unfortunately, the combination of alcohol and bruised ego were the exact ingredients necessary for violent outbursts.
The tall guy in the tan shirt had done nothing to warrant an attack. He was happily flirting with a pretty blond in a yellow silk dress that showed off her dancer's legs.
Sherry wasn't sure what woke her up. She heard and felt a huge rumble of thunder, almost simultaneously with the flash of lightning, and wind driven rain spattered against the side of her house in shrieking waves.
She lay there for a moment, alert to the sounds and the threat they embodied. Deep in her mind the primal instinct to hide from this danger pushed to be obeyed, but it met with the force of her rational thoughts - she
safe; and dry; and protected. She sat upright in her bed, listening to the wind and rain in silence.
My mailbox is crooked. A few years ago some fool busted the top off the post by throwing the neighbors trash barrel - set out for the next morning's pickup - against it as he drove by in a pickup truck. That irritated me on several levels, so I decided to nail the top of the post back on right then and there. I wanted to deprive the culprit of any malevolent satisfaction, had he happened to come back. My repair job worked fine, but the box sits cocked slightly to one side; as though curious about when it will be replaced.
A little more to the left. No, no…bring it foreword towards me first. I told you before, I want to see the view out the picture window while I'm sitting there. And don't give me that look either. When it's in the right spot I'll know it and then you can go. O.k., take a breather if you need it, but just a short one. I'd like to get this over with as much as you would. One little favor is all I asked you for and you act like it's a chain gang. I should have asked your brother.
I have God awful time management skills. Actually, that's an exaggeration. That I have no skills at all is closer to the truth.
Where some people can divide their day into sections and make efficient use of each one, my day is a massive jumble of mad dashes and half-completed tasks.
Friends of mine who are organized have offered me many tips on how to install a method to my madness. They made it sound so easy, I actually came away convinced it was possible to succeed. But, despite my high hopes, my schedule continued to avoid rhyme or reason.
I like being entertained. I like television and music, and I love going to the movies. I've been to a few plays, but never an opera or a ballet. I go to baseball games a couple of times a year and don't really mind the cost of a hotdog at the ballpark anymore than I mind the price of popcorn at a movie theater.
I also know the difference between art and commerce. I know when someone is trying to sell me a product as opposed to offering me an idea. It's a difference more Americans should be aware of.
It's very strange. I was laid off last year on October 31st, a Tuesday, and the last day of the month. Now I find myself starting a new job on September 30th, the last day of the month, exactly eleven months later.
Maybe strange isn't the word. Odd maybe, or funny. None of those words really express what I'm feeling today. Lucky doesn't do it either, even though in this economy anyone with a job should feel a bit blessed.
It is a new day though. A new beginning, and I intend to make the best possible use of it.
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