Archive for November, 2013

Sand Flows Regardless (Sonnet 34)

Posted: November 25, 2013 in poetry
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Winds, like time, escape the strongest hold
Of even oaks whose leafless knuckles white
In vain, for sand can’t be at all controlled
With desperation, when fingers clench too tight.
The ages slip like wine from ancient glass
Left to go bad, or sniffed and swirled and sipped
By someone who knows not to let it pass
But take advantage when the barrel is tipped
And flows with days worthwhile of the grab.
These days to seek, discover and explore
Create and love and give the dark a stab
And raise the glass insisting for some more!
To catch the wind, I would respect a try
But riding it is how we’ll learn to fly.

It Was 50 Years Ago Today

Posted: November 22, 2013 in JFK 50
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Fifty years ago the world changed.  I am a total conspiracy theorist about so many things, not just the assassination of JFK, and I think he was probably way more of a creep than a lot of Democrats would care to admit but when those shots rang out that day in Dallas things started to go downhill fast in this country.
I feel pretty certain that although JFK was wealthy and powerful, he did have a genuine concern for the rights and equal treatment of people all around the world.  He didn’t seem like a blatant exploiter who didn’t care that it took thousands, if not millions of hungry poor people to support each privileged, rich person on the planet.  The ridiculously wealthy know the formula all too well.  About five to 8% of the population can maintain a hold on about 92 or 93% of the world’s wealth as long as there are the right amount of middle-class citizens to fill the mid-level jobs and act as the consumers of the goods that generate the flow of money while the bulk of the world’s people remain in poverty as the exploited, seriously underpaid laborers who grow, pick, process or manufacture and deliver all those material goods.
Lately, I think, the truly filthy rich have realized that they can maintain their privileged positions and perhaps grow even wealthier with a smaller, more compact middle class.  So while so many left-leaning activists have been shouting that we need a re-distribution of the wealth, what the very powerful have been able to engineer is a re-distribution of the poverty.  They know full well that they don’t need as many mid-level, middle-class workers as they needed a decade ago, two decades ago.  They know it’s cheaper to have a smaller, overworked, over-taxed and barely-covered-with-benefits workforce and the bottom line will stay the same or even get healthier so why should they care if unemployment hits 12 or 15 or even 20% some day soon?  As long as they control the western militaries there will be no Revolution.  And as long as they can keep finding evil “enemies to our way of life” they can keep their militaries.  It really doesn’t matter who is the President of the United States or the Chancellor of Germany or the Prime Minister or Premier of England or Japan.  There is a small group of very powerful men who decide everything that happens anyway.  Dan Brown would say it’s the Masons.  Rachel Maddow might say it’s Dick Cheney and his gang at Halliburton.  I think it’s an old brotherhood called the Grey Men and I think that JFK was on to them so they had him eliminated.
And, you know, I really don’t care if there is an exclusive group of wealthy men that runs things and keeps all kinds of secrets from the rest of us.  But I do have a huge problem with all of the exploitation that obviously takes place every day, every year, every decade, every generation to maintain the status quo.  I made a conscious announcement to the universe years ago that I would be more than willing to make do with less if it meant that just one child somewhere in the world wouldn’t have to go to bed hungry every night.  I do not need a new car every two years, I do not need $175.00 sneakers or $200.00 jeans or the very latest in cell phone technology.  Yes, I would love to be able to pay my bills more easily, I would love for this planned “economic downturn” to end so I could find a good job again and earn what I’m worth.  It would be nice to have a little money in the bank and feel confident enough in my situation to let my bills be paid automatically each month rather than worry constantly if there’s enough in my account to cover everything, but I do not need extreme wealth.  My kids are my riches.  Their good health is my wealth.  My success at living the most non-exploitative life that I can manage makes me happy and keeps me feeling fulfilled.

So, was JFK’s murder a Grey Men conspiracy?  Was he too much of a humanitarian for them, ready to give away too much of what they coveted?  Would he have found a more diplomatic solution to the “troubles” in Vietnam?  If he did he would have ruined their plans to lower the population of poor, restless, urban Black men in this country by sending them off to an un-winnable “war” and bringing so many of them home in body bags with perfect little packages of pure heroin from the golden triangle tucked neatly inside to distribute conveniently throughout the country’s inner cities, to help decimate and eradicate the rest of the non-white “problem.”  Can’t you just see some white, supposedly “good Christian” wealthy guy standing up at a clandestine meeting somewhere and saying something like, “Look, we can only allow (this many) of those (insert N-word here) to live in this great country of ours.  Too many and they’ll eventually rise up against us, kill our sons and rape our wives and daughters.”  The Vietnam War (which they call the American War in Vietnam, by the way) was a perfect way to “handle” that “problem.”

Paranoia?  Perhaps.  Still, paranoia or no, not one bit of this would surprise me if it were ever proven to be true.  As a member of an ill-treated minority it’s only natural that I should occasionally look over my shoulder for creeps who want to hurt me because they think of me as not quite equal.  I have been verbally gay bashed.  And I have called people on their racial bigotry many times.  Granted, I am no angel, but I do try to fight my demons every day.

You really do have to wonder, though, don’t you, what the heck goes through the mind of a person who is okay with genocide.  And land theft.  And culture eradication.  I can sort of understand devout faith and utter devotion but what the fuck could possibly have made it seem okay to the European Christians, who came early to this continent and the one just south of it, to tell the millions of people who were living here that their land no longer belonged to them, their language was no longer to be used and their beliefs were all going to be replaced by a new religion?  Huh?  Japan tried to do that to China and it started a huge war.  Germany tried to do it to Europe and it started more of the same war.  Saddam Hussein tried to roll into Kuwait and, of course, because there was oil there, we sent in the military.  There was no oil in Bosnia so hardly anyone tried to end the ethnic cleansing there 20 years ago, despite the outrage all over the world over what was happening.  Just like there’s outrage all over the world because of the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.  As there should be.  You don’t go killing old ladies and children just because some bad-ass militants are trying to control their country.  I despise the Taliban and what they do in Afghanistan.  I despise Al Qaeda’s violence.  But you really won’t be happy, will you, until you turn all of the countries in the Middle East into quiet little obedient, Bible-toting satellites, where American developers can swoop in and open shopping malls and food courts that sell Monsanto-laced garbage that is supposed to pass for food.  No, you just need that ever-present evil enemy to justify, in perpetuity, your outrageously enormous defense budget.  You need a way for the war profiteers to always profit.  After WWII it was those scary Communists.  Now it’s the radical fundamentalist Muslims, half of which you helped put into power decades ago.  Who will it be in 20 years?  I know, maybe all those legally married gay people.

So why, if it wasn’t okay for Japan to invade China or Germany to invade Poland or the old Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan, was it okay for England, Spain, Portugal, France and the Netherlands to invade North and South America hundreds of years ago?  Why has there been no formal apology like there supposedly was in Australia to the indigenous peoples there?
We know that John F. Kennedy was a privileged, philandering, pretty-faced rich boy deep down inside but on the surface, he appeared to care for the underdog, seemed to at least want to try to level the playing field.  Jimmy Carter is wealthy, too, but also one of the nicest people I have ever met.  A true humanitarian.  Which unfortunately made him an ineffective president.  Still, I voted for him because it seemed like he cared.  Twice, I voted for him.  And I am honored to have met him.  I loved when he said he had lusted in his heart.  Who hasn’t?
I’m human.  I lust in my heart every day.  I don’t want to force people to believe in only what I believe in.  I’m way too nice for that.  Oh, and I have no army.

 

 

 

Image I will never forget that day.  I was 5 years old and home already from the morning session of half-day kindergarten.  My sisters were still in school.  My mother was home that afternoon, instead of at her job as a salesperson at the A&S store not far from our house.  My dad had died nearly four years earlier, his remains buried under a beautiful and far-reaching oak tree in the front row of a hilly, roadside section of Arlington National Cemetery.  I had only been there once to visit his grave site.  My grandfather, who lived with us at the time and used to pick me up at the bus stop on the days when my mom was at work, was out, probably at his favorite watering hole down the block.  On the days when he was supposed to retrieve me from the school bus, he would sometimes drive down there with me, give me a nickel for the candy store next door and then tuck into the bar for a nip of brandy. On certain days he would take me to the next town east, where my aunt and uncle had a fried chicken and ribs place called The Little Pigs.  I’d feast on savory, fatty foods and take a nap on a cot in the back room until my mother showed up from her job and we’d all go home.  One sparkling October day my grandfather completely forgot me and left me at the bus stop, continuing on to the restaurant by himself.  All hell broke loose at The Little Pigs that evening when my mom got there and found the cot empty.  They raced back in the dark and of course checked the place where the bus usually let us off.  A neighbor, my best friend Joey’s mom, stuck her head out her front door and called, “Anne, she’s here.  I have her.”  I had fun that afternoon, playing with all of Joey’s boy toys.  My grandfather, meanwhile, was ready to have his head examined. That sad, blustery day in November of 1963, though, I was playing in the den of our Long Island split level.  Our poodle, Squeaky, was sitting by my side.  My mom was upstairs in the kitchen, making domestic-chore noises and listening, as always, to the “Good Guys” of WMCA on her boxy transistor radio.  I think I heard her sigh heavily and sit down.  And then, I’m certain, I heard her sobbing.  When I padded up the stairs and quietly asked her why she was crying her muffled response sounded illogical.  “Somebody shot the Desitin,” I thought I heard her say.  I wondered why someone would want to shoot a tube of ointment. I have been the mother of a five-year-old girl.  Three times.  I wonder how I would have handled it if something equally terrible had happened when one of my girls (or 2 together, since they are twins) had been five.  On September 11, 2001 Bea was 2 1/2 and saw too much of the insanity on television.  We tried to shield her from the non-stop coverage eventually, but that first day, when I was at work on 58th street and couldn’t get home till the following afternoon, she saw plenty.  If she wanted to she could have seen the smoking, collapsing towers from the window of an upstairs bedroom in the house on 33rd Street in Brooklyn.  But five is way older than two.  I think, if I were home alone with her as a five-year-old, I would have wanted to share the tragedy with her, too.  Gently.  Cautiously.  And I don’t think I would have hesitated to let her see me cry. Which is how my mom handled it and I am so very grateful.  Because I think her crying in front of me is why I remember the day so vividly.  I eventually figured out the truth, that someone had shot the president, not the Desitin.  And for the rest of the day and then the whole weekend we were glued to the TV, watching as the news unfolded in front of us.  We saw Bobby, who we all loved, board Air Force One when it landed back in Washington, D.C. carrying the president’s body and his wife, Jackie, still wearing her blood-stained suit.  We saw the casket rolled down and out from the back of the plane.  We saw images of the dignitaries who flew in from all over the world to pay their respects.  We looked at newspaper photos of the casket, laying in state and being kept company by vigilant Army soldiers, Marines, sailors and two Catholic priests. And then, on the morning of Monday, November 25th, which I only know because I looked it up, the somber funeral procession began.  We were given the day off from school.  It felt like time had stopped and the whole world was watching.  My mom and sisters and I were in the den, looking up at the black and white TV that was recessed into one wall, the same wall with the window through which Squeaky crashed one night during a particularly loud thunder storm. Eventually the procession crossed the Potomac, from D.C. into Arlington, Virginia.  It slowly moved down the main entrance of the National Cemetery.  I was mesmerized by Black Jack, the beautiful horse following the caisson, riderless and with boots affixed facing backwards in the stirrups to honor the fallen hero who would never ride again.  He was an ornery horse, that Black Jack, as impatient as I for the sadness to be over.  I watched casually, not quite sure of the importance of what I was seeing.  There must have been television cameras everywhere along the route.  I can picture them now, 30 years into a broadcasting career, as giant, gray hulking behemoths operated by men wearing suits and ties.  The funeral procession got to the end of the entrance boulevard, a path I have walked and driven many times, turned right and headed down a road I know so well, a road that, even then, felt familiar.  They proceeded through an ornate iron gate where the way begins to rise, slightly.  There’s a curve to the left and just before that curve, on the right side of the road, a camera was stationed, waiting.  The operator’s only task was to pan right and follow the slow advance of the casket, which he did, perfectly.  It had to have been a short lens because the image was what’s known as a wide shot, with lots of room around the central subject.  And there, as the flag-draped casket rolled by, was the oak tree, the slope rising towards Taft’s grave, the tall, thin water spigot I have since used repeatedly on floral arrangements, and the pure white stone I knew. “There’s daddy’s grave,” we all shouted at once, jumping simultaneously from the sofa.  My mother gasped.  My sisters and I, for a fleeting moment wild-eyed and amazed, sat back down quietly.  And then, at last, I understood the importance of what I was watching. 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Such a Darkness is November

Posted: November 11, 2013 in poetry
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Such a darkness is November
Full regret of waste
A wish to turn back time or
Go the other way
In haste.

November has no color and
It even lacks the glow
Of when December takes the wheel
And it’s allowed
To snow.

A dreary feeling looms
Until a holiday arrives.
November is the primal chill
Each year to touch
Our lives.

November strikes and we recall
The things we could have done
When our portion of the world
Was longer with
The sun.

Oh, God, take back November,
It ends the season wrong.
And while you’re there, with one to spare
You can just take March
Along.

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“OMG, I am musically psychic,” said the text that I sent to my friend today.  She wrote back that I was scaring her.  Scaring her, because she knows the history, knows the evolution of my declaration.  She knows that my sister co-signed for me in June so I could lease a brand new car and rid myself of the claptrap used VW I bought when, a year earlier, a texting FedEx driver creamed my awesome Subaru Forester.  She knew that my new ride came equipped with six months of free Sirius XM radio and that, punky 80s DJ that I used to be, the first thing I did was tune that sucker to First Wave, the channel that plays all the new wave I used to love so much back in the day.  I told this friend, after driving my new car off the lot, story after story of songs that would play on my favorite channel immediately after I had been thinking of something related.

For instance, I drove past a building in my town one evening.  It was the building that housed the office of a woman I used to know.  She was a tad “out there.”  She fancied herself a tamer of men.  A “Dom” in the world of BDSM.  She even claimed to have the hots for me at one point.  As soon as my car passed the front door of that office building, The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight floated out through the speakers in my car.  I just had to laugh.  And laugh and laugh and laugh.

About a month before that happened, I was driving to Montclair to visit an awesome woman, who doesn’t fancy herself as anything except what she really is:  a gem.  A lovely person.  A true friend.  The clouds to the north were whimsical and bright, glowing in the setting summer sunlight.  One, directly ahead of me, looked incredibly like an angel with wings.  As soon as I thought to myself that I could really use an angel right then, to help me find a job and get my life back on track, my trusty radio delivered.  Send Me An Angel by Real Life came up, right on cue.  It was so freaky I couldn’t even cry.  But I wanted to.

In early October I was in the car and stopped at a long red light.  Someone finally answered a text I had sent earlier and, because I knew I had a moment, I peeked.  The text was simply that omnipotent, one-word expression of incredulity.  “Really?”  Quickly, while the light was still red, I typed back a response.  “Yes!  I kid you not.”  Send.  Green light.  Radio?  A nice segue into Would I Lie To You? by Eurythmics.  I reported this freakiness to my friend when I saw her ten minutes later.  She got shivers up and down her spine.

Today I drove my sweet new car to Newark, NJ.  On Broad Street, I passed a fried chicken place.  I don’t know why, but I thought of all those chicken bones.  Some of them end up on the sidewalk.  It’s kind of disgusting.  My mind maintained the disgusting theme and drifted to all the rats that must be attracted to the discarded chicken bones every night and it would have immediately drifted to a more pleasant thought had it not been for that crazy radio.  Right then it chose to play Rat In My Kitchen by UB40.  That’s when I decided, as soon as I was safely parked in a convenient spot at a convenient lot, to text my friend about my musically psychic abilities.

In Brooklyn, I used to walk under streetlamps and they would turn off, if they were on, or on, if they were off.  At CBS, when I was a stage manager at The Early Show, I would get a tingling feeling and know that I would soon be asked to travel for the show, usually when I happened to look up at the sky and see, first thing, a jet heading somewhere far away.  I would just know.  And then it would happen.

I don’t really feel as if I am gifted with psychic abilities.  I don’t even know if I believe in psychic abilities.  But I do, definitely, believe in the interconnectedness of all things.  And I believe in the math of everything, the universe as numbers, music as a beautiful representation of the simple and complicated Mathematics around us, within us.  Numbers are important to me.  I have more than two dozen softball jerseys with the number 17 on the back.  Do not try to give me the number 6!  I truly dislike the number 6.  For the rest of my life I will wish I had never seen the movie The Omen, or read the book, because I’m sure the number 6 is a very nice number.  Just keep it away from me!

One of my favorite bands is Heaven 17, who took their name from A Clockwork Orange, from the scene when they all go record shopping.  The date 7/17 means a lot to me because it sounds like the name of the band.  My friend, the one who gets freaked out when I tell her of any new radio coincidence, was born on 7/17 so I have told her it is a sign that we were meant to be friends, that we will always be friends.

And now, it’s the number 42 popping up everywhere.  First it was the awesome movie about Jackie Robinson.  Then it was Mo, one of my favorite Yankees of all time.  It was the summer of Mo as he was celebrated, wherever he went, as the greatest closer the game of baseball has ever seen and likely will ever see.  Then 42 popped up somewhere else important, but because I’m 13 years past 42 and getting forgetful, I can’t for the life of me recall where it was or what it meant.  Scary.  No, I remember now.  A friend was working on a blog called 52 faces.  She was posting pictures and words of and about people she thought were interesting, once a week.  She had called me and asked me to participate and of course, self-centered egotist that I am, I said yes.  Then my piece appeared.  I was person 42.  Here’s a link:  http://52faces2013.blogspot.com/2013/10/52-faces-week-42-kim-miller-storyteller.html   And then a friend said he was thinking of buying a new house, where my girls and I could live with him and his family, that it was big enough for all of us and that the address was, of course, 42 Something Street, in a lovely part of town.  But why 42?  Well, I had just recently returned to one of my favorite novelists, Douglas Adams and according to Adams, in his 5-book Hitchhiker’s trilogy (yes, a 5-book trilogy), he explains the planet Earth as a giant computer, an experiment built by ancient and super-intelligent aliens to help them discover the meaning of life, the universe and everything.  The answer, finally?  42.  The meaning of life is 42.  I had read that decades ago and completely forgotten.  42.  Of course!

Where am I going with all of this?  If I were truly psychic I would know.  But I don’t.  Because I’m not.  If I were I would make a living at it, to generate an income and get out of my unemployment rut.  But I have no idea what might happen tomorrow, or next week, or next year.  I only know, for certain, that we are all connected and it takes all our collective energy to drive this blue-green marble wherever we want it to go.  We should all start paying better attention to the messages we’re sent, in all kinds of freakish ways.

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