Modern Parable with a Prose Poem . . . by Edward Mycue (Ghana)
Modern Parable with a Prose Poem overcoat about the Peace Corps, Endless Wars, and the End of the planet Earth February 19, 2022 at 4:28 a.m.
by Edward Mycue (Ghana 1961)
This is from an early PC Volunteer Ghana 1961, old now — 85 on March 21, 2022: It seems so long ago and yesterday when in 1960 I came up for more graduate study from North Texas State in Denton to Boston University and as a Lowell Fellow an intern at WGBH-TV the then New England Television station on the M.I.T. campus in Cambridge just over the Charles River from Boston on Massachusetts Avenue above a former roller rink and as Louis Lyons assistant on his twice weekly 14:28 second programs of News and the other of profiles and special subjects. In the summer June 1960 as the technical assistant I began on his many programs about Senator J F Kennedy and others in their reach for their Party’s nominations — Harold Stassen was Republican nomination seeker. But also Hubert Humphrey, Adalai Stevenson, Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt, Robert Kennedy and others others came on. Often there was talk of what came to be, later, in the Fall 1960 the name PEACE CORPS. The next year, still on the job I took the test, and in time, in June the call to go to Ghana and I went first to Berkeley for training. Then at the tail end of August I headed up to D.C. stopping first home to Dallas to seem my dad and mom and six siblings. Dad was ailing (it turned out terminal cancer and by October I was sent back home to be the financial head of our family for the next six years, I being the first in our families with college education). But on the way up to D.C. just before heading off in that 2 engine prop Covair to the Azores, Dakar in Senegal, then Ghana my contingent of 50 went up to the White House and met Kennedy for my third time (I’d met him when he was a Senator seeking the Party nod and then in the Fall as the Democrat Party candidate). Now we are talking of the 61st anniversary of our PEACE CORPS next month my 85th birthday month. Peace is not around some corner, nor may it ever be, but it is still to sought. I was born in Niagara Falls, NY in 1937 in a Depression when WAR in Europe and WAR in the Pacific was already swelling and staining the world, our planet. War continues and also now also while peoples and countries attle, there are pandemics and illness that are endemic along with possibly also through weather, climate, life’s end, and possibly (it is not far fetched to suggest) the demise of our planet. (It used to be in the phrase from The Group, a novel by Mary McCarthy, “Who’d a thunk it” only IN THOSE farfetched Science Fiction pulp stories and novels.) SMACKDOWN is a phrase used about those dick-on-dick boxing punchouts. I’ll stop here at 4:29 am San Francisco CA, Feb 19, 2022. This could be a modern parable in the often described prose poetry style. It will have no traction for any possible future I fear this palpable night.
Edward Mycue 3595 Geary Blvd, Unit 320, San Francisco CA 94118 (C) Copyright Edward Mycue 4:31AM Saturday February 19, 2022
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PEACE IS A PLACE IN EVERY BREATH
We didn’t invent ourselves nor get it off the grass
way back down that long winding longing line.
We have been seeking to be a people from the
beginning of our supposed origins. Will we end
before we have exploded and regrouping merged?
Staying home doesn’t mean some kind of surrender.
New definitions for older versions are bound in blood
Toil can re-make the rainbow to re-arc the bridge hope.
© copyright Edward Mycue
EACH IS MINE
Not everything is equal to anything else.\
(example: I almost never locate a shirt I want and I’ll end up grabbing another — yet each I take is also mine also. I could explain this as “process,” being a hand-me-down or younger sibling-thing.)
I recall hearing mom’s Great grandmother Jane Kennedy Delehant
with her “Thee’s” & “Thou’s” and her “Dearie’s”
rocking on that ash chair on our porch on 8th Street behind
our City Hall in Niagara Falls, NY saying
“You don’t get it off the grass”
“You’ll follow the crows before you die” (if you waste)
“Everybody’s odd but thee and me, dearie…”
Pause, smiling adding, cutting her eyes adding
“…and sometimes I wonder about thee.”
Grammy Delehant died by the time I was 9 or 10
(it must be as I’ll be 85 next month born 21- III-37
She helped form me.
(C) Copyright EDWARD MYCUE 21 V 2016 revised 24 II 2022
HEART ON HEARTS*
Heart on hearts drifting
fated usually for reveries
until tomorrow tomorrow
today is a tomorrow again
Yesterday’s the fortnight before
withering and dying when death
shall not part us again,
when our night rejoices,
return us with the hearts*
crossing bridges of promise
(C) Copyright Edward Mycue 25 February 2022 10:15am Friday
*lost in some Japanese garden of time dream, inward, or another that is an outward one of a window
“May the Ukrainian people, pacifist and non-pacifist alike, cowards and valiants, prevail against their aggressor. Cлава Україні!”
–(Today seen on Justin E. H. Smith’s HINTERNET on the 3 QUARKS DAILY on the computer).
It’s a crummy time and another “scatter-day”. We must learn new generations’ traditions in the evolving story of humanity and a common culture.
I read that Pope Francis made a call the the Russian Embassy there in Rome.
We have no ideas where this will venture and wonder.
I believe that is a new torch and one passed to us to create a real new universal language of peace, comity, and just simply learing
to get along as if we are a family in a family.
How hopeful I and so many others were, Belief though or high ideals believed can’t shopped for that: it’s really a kind of mystery.
A new day is coming and it may be not a good one. Gandhi, Howard Thurman, Martin Luther King, the Catholic Worker movment
can lead us still.
Edward Mycue 25 February 2022.
Why Humans Wage War
War is purposeful and calculating. The more organized we are, the better we get at fighting.
BY STEVE PAULSON
January 6, 2021
In 1991 two hikers in the Italian Alps stumbled on a mummified body buried in the ice. The Iceman, it turned out, died more than 5,000 years ago. At first, archeologists assumed he’d fallen in a snowstorm and frozen to death. Then they discovered various cuts and bruises on his body and an arrowhead embedded in his shoulder. They also found traces of blood on the stone knife he was carrying. Most likely, he died fighting.
Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan regards the Iceman story as emblematic of our violent tendencies. Humans are a quarrelsome lot with a special talent for waging war. In her book War: How Conflict Shaped Us, she argues that warfare is so deeply embedded in human history that we barely recognize its ripple effects. Some are obvious, like the rise and fall of nations, but others can be surprising. For all that we cherish peace, war has also galvanized social and political change, sometimes for the better. It’s also sparked scientific advances.
MacMillan is the author of several highly regarded histories of war and peace. She also has a personal interest in this subject. Her father and both her grandfathers served in wars, and her great grandfather was David Lloyd George, Britain’s prime minister during World War I. But she says her family history isn’t that unusual. “I’m in my 70s and most of us have had family members who were in the First World War or the Second World War or knew someone who was in either war,” she told me.
MacMillan synthesizes a vast body of literature about war, from battlefield accounts to theories of war, and she shows how new technologies and weaponry have repeatedly changed the course of history. As I discovered during our conversation, she’s especially interested in the question she poses at the beginning of her book: “Does war bring out the bestial side of human nature or the best?”
WAR HISTORIAN: Margaret MacMillan has a personal interest in her subject. Her father and both her grandfathers served in wars, and her great grandfather was David Lloyd George, Britain’s prime minister during World War I.Ander McIntyre
Do you think human beings are inherently violent?
I come down on the side that we’re not inherently violent but we may have violent tendencies that evolution has left us. When we’re afraid, we have a tendency to lash out, but I don’t think that means we are necessarily violent. We often see examples of altruism and people living together. What is more important is why people fight—and I’m thinking of war, not just random one-on-one fighting. People fight wars because of organization, ideas, and cultural values. The more organized we are, unfortunately, the better we seem to get at fighting. War is very organized. It’s not the brawl you get outside a bar or the random violence you might get when someone feels frightened.
Steven Pinker says human beings are getting less violent, especially since the Enlightenment. What do you think of his argument?
It’s a very interesting argument, which he makes with great evidence and subtlety. We no longer have prizefights where people batter each other to death. We no longer have public executions. And in most developed societies and many less developed societies, the homicide rates are way down. Your own country, the United States, is something of an outlier there. I think his argument that we are becoming more peaceful in domestic societies is right. But I don’t think that’s war. War is something different.
There’s a very interesting counterargument by Richard Wrangham called “the goodness paradox.” He argues that we have, in fact, become nicer and less violent as individuals. We may have domesticated ourselves by our choice of mates and by breeding out those who are most violent, or killing those who are most violent among us, like the way wolves have been domesticated into friendly dogs who sit on your lap. We may have become nicer as individuals, but we’ve also become better at organizing and using purposive violence. That’s the paradox. We’ve gotten better at making war even as we’ve become nicer people.
A really important factor in wars is greed for what others have.
Isn’t waging war actually uncommon in the animal kingdom?
Well, our nearest cousins, the chimpanzees, do seem to wage war. Chimpanzees will stake out their own territory and male chimpanzees will go out in bands to patrol that territory. If an unfortunate chimpanzee from another band stumbles into that territory, the chimpanzees will gang up and kill the intruder. But our other close cousins in the animal kingdom, the bonobo, do live in harmony and peace and don’t react with violence to outside bonobos coming in. It may be because chimpanzees have natural predators and bonobos, for geographical reasons, don’t.
It’s worth pointing out that bonobos are matriarchal, whereas chimpanzees are dominated by the big males.
And that leads to a very interesting speculation. Are men more likely to fight? Are they naturally more belligerent and are women natural peacemakers? I think not. Certainly the great majority of societies through history have been patriarchal. But when you get women in charge, they don’t seem to be any less warlike than men. Think of Catherine the Great or Maria Theresa or Margaret Thatcher. All these women were quite capable of taking their countries to war.
If waging war is a natural tendency, perhaps in our DNA, what does that reveal about human nature?
I’m not sure war is in our DNA. Our propensity for violence may be in our DNA, but war comes with social organization. War is purposive and often calculating. People don’t just rush helter-skelter into war. They think about it, plan and train for it, and it often takes a great deal of effort. The military knows this. They do a great deal of training to turn people who may not want to kill others or risk their lives into those who will fight. So our propensity to wage war goes along with our developing social organization. If you’re nomadic, you can pick up and move into unoccupied space and get away from those who threaten you. But once you’ve settled down and become agriculturalists, it’s much harder to move because you have something to defend. Plus, you have much more that someone else might want to take. Unfortunately, the better organized we get, the better we get at fighting each other.
THE WORST: Civil wars tend to be the worst because they are wars of ideologies, whether it’s building socialism on Earth or paradise in the afterlife, explains historian Margaret MacMillan. Illustration by Everett Collection / Shutterstock
But isn’t the main purpose of social organization to protect people?
Even in protecting people, you may have to wage war. A really important factor in wars is greed for what others have. And along with that goes fear that someone is going to try to take what you have or in fact destroy your society altogether. It’s often very hard to establish trust among different societies. Our tendency is more to be suspicious of each other. We’ve seen parts of the world where neighbors have lived with each other in harmony, but there is always the danger that this will break down.
Is this ultimately about tribalism? You’re either in the in-group or the out-group, so we have this inherent mistrust and fear of the “other.”
It does seem to run through a lot of human society, though I think it’s something we can overcome. You can build institutions and values that make us more likely to trust each other. Religions are capable of bringing people into a larger grouping and insisting that we treat them as fellow human beings. And I think the European Union is in fact a very good example of how nations that formerly mistrusted and went to war with each other have learned to work together. But it’s a painful process, and we’ve seen how easily societies can be turned against each other.
You said war has become a much bigger problem once people settled down and organized into large groups. But there does seem to be quite a lot of anthropological evidence that early hunter-gatherers and foraging societies were also warlike.
We always want to think there might be a kinder and gentler world. And we’ve often had this picture of people in the distant past living with each other in harmony, getting what they needed, enjoying their leisure, not fighting violently with each other. But the evidence really seems to be that fighting and violence goes back a very long way. The remaining hunter-gatherer societies in the world which have been studied often show very high rates of organized violence and death.
We want to think there might be a kinder and gentler world. Evidence says no.
Wasn’t this the old debate between Rousseau and Thomas Hobbes?
Rousseau said the trouble came when social organization led us into becoming more confrontational with each other, whereas Hobbes said if you were to go back to the ancient world, the primitive world, you would find it very nasty indeed because there would be no central government and no way of controlling the impulses of people to fight with each other. For Hobbes, this was a good thing. The development of a big state, the Leviathan, had a monopoly of force which could maintain order in its own territories and defend its people against those who would try to destroy it.
Do you think Hobbes was right?
I do share his rather pessimistic view. But where he was wrong is that he thought the international order would always be anarchic and sort of dog against dog. We’ve been thinking for a long time about how we can build international institutions and norms which will get rid of the need for war. To go back to the example of the European Union, who would have predicted 100 years ago that the former enemies of Britain, France, and Germany would be living together and cooperating with each other? It’s possible to move beyond war as a way of settling differences among nations. We can use courts, arbitration, and sanctions.
But the groups willing to wage war have often prospered.
Up to a point. They have often got themselves into wars that have cost them dearly as well. Charles Tilly has argued very persuasively that war has helped to create bigger states that benefit those who live within their borders because they provide more stability and security. The Roman Empire was built through war, but those who lived inside the Roman Empire enjoyed a higher standard of living and could travel freely because the roads and seas were safe. Trade could move through all the Roman territories because of the security it offered. It’s very striking that people wanted to move into the Roman Empire, not out, because life was better inside it. The Romans were very tolerant of religious beliefs, but they did expect people to revere the emperor and obey certain customs and laws. So force wasn’t the only secret to the Roman Empire’s success.
How do most wars get started?
There are many reasons. Someone insults someone, someone marries someone, mistakes happen. But I tend to see it as greed—you have something that someone else wants. Maybe that’s territory, maybe it’s silver or gold, or maybe they want to make your people into slaves. You may also go to war out of fear that someone’s about to attack you or because you fear for your survival. The final category is what I call ideas and ideologies we believe in. Religion can do that. If you want to build a paradise on Earth or you want to achieve your salvation in eternity, you may go to war because you’ll feel less frightened of death and you’re part of a much greater cause. Nationalism can be the same thing. You will fight and die for a nation because you’re fighting for something bigger than yourself. Or you will fight in a civil war because you have different views on who should control that society and where that society should be going.
Don’t civil wars tend to be the bloodiest wars?
They tend to be the worst because they are wars of ideologies, whether it’s building socialism on Earth or paradise in the afterlife. It’s almost a moral imperative to eliminate anyone who opposes you because they are standing in the way of the greater good of humanity. You feel no compunction in removing them from the face of the Earth. That is why such wars are so cruel. In a civil war, you’re not just fighting those soldiers out in the field. You’re fighting the whole society because it is wrong. Even the children are wrong. Even the old people are wrong. There’s no one innocent in such wars.
You also write about the importance of contingency in war. A particular person becomes the leader or an accident triggers a war.
Many historians would disagree, but I think accident and contingency play quite a role in history. When the French Revolution broke out, Napoleon Bonaparte was a young man from not a particularly distinguished family from the island of Corsica, who was at a military academy. But he wouldn’t have had a hope of rising to be a distinguished general if it hadn’t been for the French Revolution. That revolution swept away the old order, so one of the great military geniuses of history had an opportunity he wouldn’t have had in any other time or place.
And accident, too. I’ve come to the conclusion that the First World War could have been avoided. There had been previous crises before 1914 when European countries had blustered about fighting each other, and they pulled back. In 1914, there was still the hope that this could be done, and I think they went too far without realizing it. The archduke got assassinated in Sarajevo. The Austrians decided, therefore, to try and destroy Serbia. Russia decided to defend Serbia. Germany decided to back Austria-Hungary. And they still thought they could pull back because they’d done it before. But they went too far and it became a question of national pride, which is very dangerous.
Have we come close to that kind of war again?
I think we came close in the Cold War. We talk about how nuclear weapons kept the balance of mutually assured destruction between the Soviet Union and the United States. But what has been absolutely terrifying to me is what’s come out since the end of the Cold War—the moments when they very nearly did start shooting nuclear weapons at each other. In the Cuban Missile Crisis, we came an awful lot closer than we realize. There was a Russian submarine where the captain had the authority to fire a nuclear-tipped weapon, but someone persuaded him not to. There were times when technicians fed in the wrong training tapes and times on both sides when someone would see a flock of birds on the radar and think it was an incoming missile or an aircraft.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the First World War could have been avoided.
We’ve been talking about the horror of war, but you say war has also led to scientific advancements and sometimes more social equality. How far would you take that argument?
It is noticeable in history that sometimes it takes a very great challenge or great crisis to get us collectively to do things we wouldn’t think of doing in normal times because they’re too expensive or too difficult or too disruptive. A war is one of those challenges. So, too, is a pandemic. You now see governments which had been talking about austerity suddenly spending money with a free hand because it has been absolutely essential to keep societies going. And war can do that as well. You know, a great many medical advances came as a result of war. Penicillin, for example, which was discovered in the interwar years of the 1920s, was considered too expensive to produce. Then the Second World War came along and suddenly it’s not too expensive when you want to keep alive those who are fighting for you.
Didn’t the modern computer revolution also come out of research funded by the U.S. Defense Department?
A lot of research during the Cold War and in fact during the Second World War led to the boom in science and technology in the United States. The Internet really is a product of research that was funded in American universities. And a lot of the success of Silicon Valley is based on research that the government funded for its own purposes for the Cold War, which turned out to have a peacetime application.
Wars have also led to more social equality. When the men went off to battle, the women on the home front ended up running things, which led to political changes.
Women in a number of countries had been agitating for the vote before the First World War, and the argument was that you don’t have a stake in society in the way men do, so you should stay at home. In the First World War, there was a huge demand for men to go into the armies, and women found themselves doing jobs which they had not been considered capable of before. So they drove tractors on farms or they worked on assembly lines and in explosive factories. The government in Britain and a few other countries recognized that women had made a contribution to the war. The argument for denying them the vote just really didn’t stand anymore.
Modern warfare is increasingly deadly because the technology is so much more lethal. Future wars will use more artificial intelligence, and you can imagine killer robots wiping out entire populations. Do you worry about the future of warfare?
I do. I find the high-tech weapons absolutely terrifying. Increasingly self-guided weapons are being developed—weapons which can make decisions for themselves and don’t seem to need any human control. Who is ultimately going to control such weapons? And the amount of devastation they can do has increased as well. We worry about nuclear war, but ordinary explosives have become much more powerful in recent decades. We’ve also got whole new fields of war opening up with state-sponsored cyber attacks, which can threaten the whole infrastructure of a state.
Since humans seem to have this propensity to start wars, can we ever overcome these inherent tendencies within us?
I think we can overcome them. I’m so struck by the way Germany has changed. This was a society in the 19th and early 20th century that was imbued with militaristic values. The military was the noblest and best part of the nation, but that’s completely gone. Germany is a different society and a different country. Sweden is another example. During the Thirty Years War in the 17th century, if you heard Swedish soldiers were coming anywhere near, you panicked because they were so violent and so ruthless. Now Sweden is a very different country committed to peacekeeping and international cooperation. Most European countries have moved well away from military values and away from thinking that war is a useful tool of state. It is now unthinkable that any European country will go to war with another European country. I do think it’s absolutely possible and indeed very hopeful that we can move into societies which don’t see war as something that should ever be used.
Steve Paulson is the executive producer of Wisconsin Public Radio’s nationally syndicated show To the Best of Our Knowledge. He’s the author of Atoms and Eden: Conversations on Religion and Science. You can subscribe to TTBOOK’s podcast here.
Lead image: kirill_makarov / Shutterstock
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“Time quietly compiling us like sheaves/ Turns round one day, beckons the special few,/ With one bird singing somewhere in the leaves,/ …. / How marvelous to have done it and then left It in the lost property office of the loving mind….”
–from Lawrence Durrell’s poem ‘Seferis’ published in VEGA AND OTHER POEMS in 1973, page 54 (Overlook Press, Woodstock NY)
PUTIN and HELL twin seasons of death,
I see them reflect from their call
with the stench and the knell of maggot and bell
and of bodies lumped in the hall.
All the seasons of death reflect from the Putin Call –
the smell of bodies dumped in the government hall,
the knell of the last of the wars as we’ve known them.
This smooth society holds mass death at bay
in strife without end in a limited way.
The volcano of death insures life.
As the Incas of old
we feed it our young.
One by one, throw them in one by one.
A word is a sound, but a dangerous thing.
it changes meaning like a magic ring –
harder to handle than a whip or gun,
and vaguely fearsome like a violent son.
Words of yesterday and tomorrow too
Are too many too many and too many too few.
Death reflects from the Moscow Mall.
Bodies are stacked in the hall of this earth
and they stink in the works of their chiefs.
Throw them in one by one, one by one.
The volcano of life insures death.
© Copyright Edward Mycue Wednesday March 2, 2022 6:45pm
Lawrence Fixel: “We live in a time when flight and quest bear the closest resemblance.”
SMEARING ANOTHER MURAL LATER
To Resist:to be for peace doesn’t mean not being angry at war.
As with the fall of the leaf. The wind blows with cosmic hisses.
It is time, nothing waits; soon, nothing waits; late, nothing waits.
Planes rattle, opening, brushing, sweeping victim. Tulip implode.
Escapes, purple trees, not so long ago; in this our life gardenia raves.
At the edge of the peaceful ocean the ocean hisses, these halls of injustice.
Mad before extinction, gone, captured, killed.
Boycott hell for things we don’t use but need.
Clocks no hands, dragon’s deeds rot, planted.
Everyone there here now you and all your kin.
A stone circle justifying Ithuriel’s spear pierces.
Oz Zen Tao a single moment of comprehension.
The battle of Cascina (Michaelangelo)
and the battle of Anghieri (Leonardo)
are about the moment when eighteen
Florentine soldiers when then cooling
off in the Arno River caught naked-by
is still happening in my time handless.
To Resist to be for peace doesn’t mean not being angry at war.
(C) Copyright Edward Mycue March 3, 2022 Thursday 11:01AM
“Two trees have been growing together
For years now…
.During the spring, the waiting
For each other is painful.”
I AM A LIBERAL (THE CLEAN & BEAUTIFUL “L” WORD, another title)
Oh, I am a Liberal
From the earliest recall
Oh, I love that L word
For me it tells it all:
It stands for Love & Liberty
For light, for Love or Labor,
For Labor of Love
It stands for Laughter
Sweet song to my ears
Sweet song of the Lark:
Oh, I love the letter L
I shall wear it proudly
Emblazed bright upon my breast.
Patrick Henry we salute you
You said it all back then
“Give me liberty or give me death”
Oh, I love you letter L
You stand for logic
You stand for Liberation
You stand for Love.
The L word, it is Lovely
It is Lively
And it has a hopeful ring.
© Copyright Ruth Taylor (Ruth Taylor Agnes Delehant Mycue)
Katherine Butler Hathaway: “In order to save one’s life … one must be willing to let it be tossed away, and not many of us are willing.”
Henry Thoreau: “Who could believe in prophecies that the world would end this summer, while one milkweed with faith matured its seeds.”
Marianne Moore: “To be trusted is an ennobling experience; and poetry is a peerless proficiency of the imagination. I prize it, but am myself an observer; I can see no reason for calling my work poetry except that there is no other category in which to put it.”
Don & Roz Klog: “You know all your friends/ & you’ll see them again/ as the tippy scales weigh/ & your eyes sparkle/ through the tears/ softly singing/ a truth that is known/ will surely/ see us all again/ as we drift/ soon to float/ feeling as all/ climb the smoothe stairs/ to wonder/ hope will lead us/ & humor/ will shine/ in reflection”
Thomas Ashe:”Look upon us in this city/ keep our sympathy/ and pity fresh/ our faces heavenward/ lest we go cold”.
Josephine Miles: “The questions are obvious but the answers aren’t simple.”
Stephane Mallarme: “oh dreamer/ that I may dive/ in pure pathless/ delight, strive/ somehow/ to contrive to keep/ my wing/ in your hand”
Lawrence Durrell: “It is not peace we seek but meaning…. / / ….It is not meaning that we need but light.”
Ann Stanford: “And when the soldiers came to town/ With drums and our flag overhead, / We watched them from the commons lawn/ Until they shot us dead.”
Theodore Roethke: “I wake to sleep / and take my waking slow./ I learn by going/ where I have to go.”
SMEARING MURALS (in the damaged community) AN Overture
Rivers are crowded, bottoms are flooded, trees dip their branches. Large life has narrowed. Spring dreams hatch new desires whirring against a blue sky. Fierce winter comes and in its ices, I see old faces. There are still state lotteries and taxes on salt; hospitals open all night; food’s preserved and contaminated; we see paintings without faces, genitals larger than lust (though there are vines in the lupine and light booms in the surf). There’ll be no new city. Even dragon’s teeth rot when planted. She’s dead or anonymous with him, vice-versa.
In the marketplace It is decreed.
The gardenia raves, mad before extinction. Beaver squeezes dry nipples. An un-veined eye squats, accepts. In the nights of clothed windows, at the edge of the hissing ocean, the napalm carriageway that brought in 1908 a male blue whale, very heavy, captured killed: odor of decay in tender flesh. Sirens rage and without warning my embittered heart breaks through these honeyed lips. In this garden no birds sing. While out on the streets our lives come out in words. Rewards for failure. Jails for arrogance. All artists are outlaws. Real art is revolting.
We will be forgiven if we are ineffective. I am the eye, but I am not I living inside the belly of the monster as the belly of the monster brutalizing brutalized in my, by my lifetime. There is no center but only process.
Beauty may be the red petal Orlando found pressed in the leaves of art through the ages, and the tension between revolt and reflection. All rot, earth inheriting everyone. Suns slam down days, muting, rotting. Wolf and calf may fart together In another world. Blue crystal acid remains. It is not reciprocated. The dye has no music in it.
© COPYRIGHT EDWARD MYCUE
A FIGHT FOR AIR IN THE MOVEMENTS OF LITTLE LIFETIMES by Edward Mycue
I. A Fight for Air
Towels soak in the sink
Roots crack, splinter
Each sound’s a stone screaming
of mute islands
a secret care I keep folded
under my fingernail
dawn after dawn
The thrill is uneven The saliva curdles
Sunset climbs closely
to the fight for air.
II. Buried World
The Great River
Red Rock Red River
Gulf of Mexico
deltas bayous hill country
conscribe an end and a beginning, leading
from these years this journey back
to nineteen sixty-one
Dallas: blotch concrete spread out on the plains.
We’d come to Texas thirteen years before
in a slope-back forties Ford.
I was eleven then.
We passed through Erie, Kentucky, Delta States
to arid, fissured land and bottomland and floods
to dying apple trees.
Dad took us with him one by one
to get to know us
on his travels through his Southwest territory,
him talking brakelinings for a Firestone subsidiary
company that let him go not long before he died
in a chaos of fear
and pain he said was not like pain
but was pulling him apart.
“We brought our children from New York
to take a better job.
My wife supported me.
Her hair turned white that first year.
She was thirty-three, had borne us seven kids
in our hometown, Niagara Falls.
We fought and stayed together
pounding with our love.
I was thirty-six that year
Our oldest son was twelve.
The baby was a year.”
My father seems beautiful
his geographical eyes a cage
of ocean dreams
who’ll never dream again
so stubborn, gentle, singing anytime
some snatch of song he’ll never sing again.
Nostrils flaring, lungs honking, at the end
he couldn’t hold his teeth
only wanted air Air
His food came back
I hear him say NO, No not pain I’m
falling all apart.
green-painted, rented tank of oxygen could help
since death will come when cancer eats the brain.
It rained the day he died
and it rained again on burial day. Good Luck,
it’s angels’ tears, they say the Irish say.
The dog killed cat run off morphine soaking into sand.
Gigantic stones snakes apple trees his eyes.
V. Grave Song
End of night
threw my heat in the fire
O my mama place in the white
it was too big for me
I wanted out out I got out
say off wiz de light off wiz all de lights
up up up
up wiz de fire up wiz de fire
(say ‘UP’ with the fire)
I am afraid
of the door rats on the stairs miles
miles miles to the light and I can’t
there’s only me
and and everybody
and that is no body nobody
but some thing
Lock it! Lock it!
Go go downstairs
Run Run Run Run out out out
They are moving
is light Things in the air
Tie Ta Tie Ta
Tie Ta Tie Ta
Cows moo in the fields and are gone
It does not hold
Hums Hums Hums
Hung birds in bottles, eggs writhing like worms
and the fire burns.
VI. Little Lifetimes
Children crush crackers between stones
celebrating luck and joy
seeing with ears, breathing music from trees, flowering
in pure deliciousness
awakening graves, unarmed against the rain. In time — silence:
stoning sterile trees,
praying the dead will sleep between the swollen roots.
The wind rushes in saying hold my ground, carve
your own road — the design that develops.
Now a face begins to emerge seeking air
examining death to discover patterns
in the movements of little lifetimes.
© Copyright Edward Mycue
–I accept my ears that used to stick out
& my chef-boss at Joseph’s in Boston
called me “Clark” after Clark Gable
(when I could hear better & are now closer to my balding head).
–I accept my once nimble feet,
the bottoms of which feel like cardboard in bed
(I am glad however i have a nice bed).
–I accept my polka-dotting memory
called brown-outs or senior moments
(& it may be all-for-the-best for some of them).
–I accept the diabetes, the strictures, poor breathing,
getting headaches + other aches
(but I can still walk, eat, care).
–I think of all the songs we sang with our folks
with dad thinking we seven kids
were his very own barber-shop harmonizers;
& had I died young I could have avoided
problems that arise in my life
but that life of mine says more to me
than any of my lists of sorrows & joys.
© Copyright Edward Mycue
0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 LIFE CAN BE A SCRAMBLE
Some plan, others, stumbling, drift along with tides.
My old poet and philosopher pal Lawrence Fixel with a wry look as he copied a then current phrasing of a younger generation would say ‘keep on truckin’ where anther might say follow your bliss.
I, during the darkest AIDS times, wrote a song lyric with the refrain “put a blanky on your wanky/ if you wanna to do me” and looking for a composers found none with the composure to execute the cool music.
So, stumbling on while following your dreams, keep on truckin’ with your right eye cocked to the sparrow.
My parents Ruth & Jack hoped–she for some medical issue, he for an attorney (2 of the 4 types those days, teacher and preacher being the other two): I surfed-in.
(C) Copyright Edward Mycue
ANGEL OF BREATH MISSHAPED IN POETRY
Misshaping the angel of breath that as the kid said, in justification–“MY mother never told me”.
In the front of my book MINDWALKING is a saying totem from Virginia Woolf’s JACOB’S ROOM (Hogarth Press 1932 London): “We start transparent, and then the cloud thickens. All history backs our pane of glass.”
Wilhelm Ekelund? 1880-1949. AGENDA his the only book in English (trans 1976 by Lennart Bruce & publ by Cloud Marauder press, Berkeley, wrote:
–to read fast is as bad as to eat in a hurry.
–wanting to needle, hurt, annoy–that’s the inspiration of the know-it-all.
–the day is like a stranger of divine origin, wishing to pay you his visit. you’re fortunate, if he finds you at home.
–w/ref to nietzsche’s idea that only those thoughts which have proven themselves in one’s life are of value).
–the same goes for thought as for art–the systems do die, but never the inviolably effective thought.
Note: from a post I wrote Oct 8, 2008 on Anny Ballardini’s Northern Italy site in Bolzano/Bozen FIERA LINGUA
(C) Copyright Edward Mycue
EDITH AND RICHARD AND HARRY, AND THE DEVIL
Disruptors previous and devious waste their lives in Hate
and Edith says “will be missed like a sore tooth.”
Edith says “As my father used to say, paper is very patient.
You can write anything on it; it will not complain.”
Richard Steger says dumbbell was the word of the age of Trump.
Harry S. Truman said many years ago about another dead:
“We are left with the creation of a myth and the invention of a devil,
repeating the big lie until it becomes an article of political faith as
smooth as the varnish on a concert piano”
Our ‘whatever’ buttons no longer deploy.
We are left with Edith’s farmer standing
out there with arms stretching-out over
fields where America’s shadow is once
again taking shape in a heroic quest to
destroy devils under life’s unfolding umbrella.
(C) Copyright Edward Mycue 30 June 2021 Wednesday 2pm
BACK TIME COMES FORWARD
Back, time comes forward.
Life, death sentences remain.
Unfinished, some memories throb.
Reveries, wheels, rush remembering.
Cardinal directions play sorrow missions.
We animals, who remember, smile a little too.
© Copyright Edward Mycue Wednesday December 15, 2021 10:15am