Don Gordo

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     Don Gordo he was riding through Aldama’s hot dusty streets. Estómago strained his camisa, caballo’s hoofs kept the beat. Negro it adorned him from his bald cabeza to toes. It made Don Gordo caliente (but black’s very slimming you know). Silver studs adorned his chaqueta and the seams of his pants. Don Gordo thought he was guapo but from ladies got nary a glance. White maned horse he named Plata, thought was his big tonto joke. Envisioned himself as Lone Ranger; longed for chicita to poke.

Olé!

     Up ahead in the distance Don Gordo spotted a cur. Trotting through the streets of Almada the dog made the dust swirl and stir. Don Gordo narrowed his eyelids at sight of pregnant fat bitch. With revolver he carried planned to leave dog dead in a ditch! Extracted gun from its holster so perrita he could dispatch. Excitement he derived from killing created a stir in his pants. Una sonrisa malvada covered his rotund face. As he was pulling the trigger he spied a vision in lace!

Olé!

     The woman was muy bonita and she cried out in alarm. Just as the bullet went flying Don Gordo thrust down his arm. “What do you think you are doing?” Demanded the woman of him. “How dare you shoot mi querida? What kind of beast lives within?”

    The lady’s berating chastisement caused Don Gordo’s head to dance. La senorita’s great beauty had put him under a trance. Her pelo oscuro under a white veil was framed beautifully. Don Gordo was so enchanted la chicita was all he could see.

Olé!

     The woman was so angry that her eyes saw nothing but red. How dare this sapo graso try to shoot her perrita dead?

     In her anger her beauty outshone the midday Mexican sun. Serrano sheath she was wearing? Made him yearn for hot bedroom fun. “Lo siento!” Don Gordo cried out to the woman rojo, “Por favor forgive my transgression and with me please riding go.”

      La senorita bonita answered Don Gordo in disgust, “I may be a peone’s daughter but you are an ugly sadist.”

Olé!

     La mujer de vestido rojo had pegged Don Gordo just right and in his passionate fury her honor he longed to smite. From Plata’s back he attacked her right there on Almada’s streets. The woman was no shrinking damsel and upon his face she did beat. He ripped off the woman’s bodice and brought her skirt up over her head. With all her strength she resisted and screamed loud enough to wake the dead. Don Gordo he was laughing as downward he did pull his pants but perrita querida for Don Gordo had other plans.

Olé!

     Mouthful perrita bit into, pound of flesh dearest to Don Gordo’s heart. The dog tore off his chimichanga and from the scene then did depart. El vestido serrano was no longer only thing red y la chicita bonita left Don Gordo better off dead.

     The moral of this sad story is that money does not a man make; for the high and mighty Don Gordo was lower than any snake. And the bite of a fat bitch can swallow up more than your pride. Verdad, Don Gordo’s poker never again was espied.

Olé!

 

January Fourth: Part 17 of 32

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Greyhound BusAfter thanking the driver John and Loki made their way off of the bus and headed for Jackson’s Greyhound/ Union Station terminal. They darted inside to escape the cool weather and for Loki to determine her next bus’s parking slot. “John, it’s been real nice riding with you,” Loki said as she checked her connection’s departure time. “I got a little more’n an hour before I need to get on my bus. You want to grab a quick bite? My treat?”

“You don’t have to buy me-“ John began but Loki cut him off.

“I know I don’t have to; I want to. You really saved me from a long and boring ride with all that O. Henry book of yours. Consider it fair value for the entertainment you provided?”

“I don’t know that I’d call it ‘fair value’ but that’s awfully nice of you. Let me slip into the bathroom and I’ll meet you out here in a minute?”

“Sounds like a plan. I could use the little girl’s room myself: Be right out.”

John’s ‘right out’ was quicker than Loki’s and he leaned against a wall as he looked around the terminal. He could see Gli’s restaurant from where he leaned and while it didn’t seem particularly enticing it had the extra value of being convenient. John scooted over to check out the menu which he discovered consisted of Mexican items like tacos and burritos as well as hamburgers, all at fairly low prices

When he started walking back toward the restrooms he saw that Loki had exited the women’s room and was looking around the immediate vicinity, presumably for him. He waved his left arm in the air and called out, “Loki!”  soto voce.

Loki’s head turned first one way and then the other. When she spotted John she smiled, waved and walked toward him. “I was wondering if you were in there laying a deuce.”

“Uhmmm, no. I was just checking out Gli’s. Looks like they have fast food; Mexican, burgers, fries: That work?”

“Oh, I’m not picky,” Loki answered. “If it works for you, it works for me.”

They walked up to the counter and after looking at the wall board that listed Gil’s offerings Loki ordered a beef and bean burrito and a sweet ice tea. “Uhm, I’d like the same,” John said, “except make my tea unsweetened please.”

Loki turned her head and looked at him with squinty eyes. “Unsweetened tea? You should just wear a big ole sign that shouts Yankee on your back,” she said, shoving him gently with her shoulder.

“Oh, I’ll add sugar, I just don’t need my spoon to stand up all by itself.”

“That’s the best part!” Loki insisted. “Besides, adding sugar after the tea’s been brewed is a sorry way to sweeten your tea. Yankee,” she added with a wink.

They took the burritos and drinks to a booth against a wall that was located adjacent to an electric wall plug and shoved their two bags to the inside of their respective benches. “Here,” Loki said pulling out her phone, “let me plug this in and then we can eat.” She used her charging adapter to get juice flowing into her battery while John put the food and drinks in front of them and grabbed napkins. “Thanks,” Loki said as he handed her napkins, straw and plastic ware. “I’m a little peaked.”

“Yeah, no problem,” John produced a small snort that was intended as a laugh. He then hung his head briefly, quickly crossed himself and silently asked the Lord’s blessing, moving his lips to, ‘Bless us, Oh, Lord, and these thy gifts…,’ and again made The Sign of the Cross before looking back up to Loki and saying, “Thank you for dinner.”

Loki looked at him with her eyebrows drawn together and a smirk on her face. Rather than asking him what he’d just done she instead said, “You’re welcome. Now, tell me, what exactly are you going to do when you get to Chicago and see Joni?”

 

Precisely

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I was working really hard to get the words down right
Looking out for false declarations that could cause a fight
Stringing words together in a style we call prose
Which to me is more exacting than rhyming, don’t cha know?

I’m fond of writing treatises that can run quite long
But as they’re seldom read I tend to concentrate on songs
It takes me ‘bout three minutes to sing my poems out
Sometimes I borrow music like Beatles’ “Twist and Shout”

Songs can convey snarkiest of ideas using gutter words
Seems that to ugliness and cruelty in poems we’ve grown inured
Love to satirize stupidity especially in song
Imagine people I’m deriding singing right along

Sung of “Cheesy Crackers,” and Great Leader in “Across the Land”
Both of which drip sarcastic vitriol heaped on with heavy hand
It’s really pretty funny that my songs lean so to the left
But all I’m really preaching is equality and tolerance

I enjoy writing short and long stories and a play or two
Seems my audience likes poetry so what’s a fool to do?
Poetry’s slammed out in no time for it I follow rather than lead
It’s more of a catharsis than an intellectual need

First Amendment to Constitution is omnibus affair
Attacks against free speech have me pound my fist up in the air
Pitting Christians against Muslims gets my panties in a wad
And calling the press a bunch of liars is baseless charge absurd

There are people who assemble who I sure wish would just go home
But ugly speech deserves protection long as we’re practicing shalom
If you’re calling to silence and sensor those with whom you disagree
Should take a look at your position ’cause it sounds mighty weak to me

Platforms that we’re standing on as we huck what we believe
May be well constructed or made of rotten worm-eaten wood
I put great stock in liberty and equality for all
Fear confusing right for license could cause the world to fall

It’s not without reason been accused of being grandiose
Self-indulgent, delusional and even bellicose
But the words just keep on flowing from my brain down to my hand
Come visit tomorrow likely I’ll have a new song again

January Fourth: Part 16 of 32

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Greyhound BusJohn wound up reading first and last. Tamika gave Aziz and Arsu more time playing video games on her phone than she had promised but when she did finally call time the bus was still ten miles from Jackson.

John had suggested to Loki that she first read The Skylight Room which she said she enjoyed and after John read two out loud, taking turns didn’t necessarily mean going back and forth after each story, she’d just finished reading The Green Door. “I think I like that one even better than that ambulance doctor one; it was more mysterious,” she confided.

“Yes. There’s no doubt that The Green Door has more mystery to it,” John answered, nodding. “And at least Porter called the black man an African in this story.”

“Who’s Porter?” Aziz asked.

“Ah! You are listening!” John said to the twins. “I figured that you probably were now that your little pinball machine is gone. Porter is O. Henry’s real name.”

“Our what?!” Aziz demanded.

“Pinball machine. That’s what they had back in arcades before there were videogames. I was trying to be funny.”

“Didn’t work!” Arsu exclaimed.

“Arsu! Watch your manners!” Tamika remonstrated.

“Oh, Mama! Mr. John knows I’m just joking; don’t you, Mr. John?”

“I know, I know. Even so, I think I’ll start calling you Brutus.”

“Who’s that?!”

“Guy who stabbed Julius Caesar. In the back.”

“Stabbed!? That’s harsh,” Aziz piped in.

“Hey! I’m just joking; right Arsu?”

Arsu broke into a big grin. “Yeah, we’re just joking, Aziz. Lighten up. What ‘cha gonna read to us now?”

“Arsu,” Tamika said quietly, “maybe Mr. John and MS Loki would like to just read to each other?”

“What? No way!” John insisted. “Just let me figure out a good story and we’ll ride this one into the bus terminal. Hey! You know what? I’m going to read The Pimienta Pancakes that I told you about.”

John finished Pancakes as the bus pulled off the interstate. “So what’d you think?” he asked excitedly. Isn’t that great?”

“Hmmm. I think Red Chief was my favorite, then your Pancakes and then the one about that homeless dude,” Aziz answered.

“Yeah, me too,” Arsu agreed.

“How about you, Tamika?” John asked. “Which one was your favorite?”

“Well, I was only half listening because I was keeping little miss Vashti entertained here but I think I’m with Loki; I liked that Green Door one. It was romantic and kind of spooky; you know? Boys? When this bus stops you stay put until I say so. We have thirty minutes in the terminal and then we are right back on the bus, so you know what that means.”

“Bathroom break,” the boys dejectedly intoned together.

“That’s right, so be ready,” she confirmed. “You’re getting off the bus here, MS Loki?”

“Yep. I’m heading west to Oklahoma. It was nice riding with you. You have a nice passel of kids.”

“Well, why thank you,” Tamika answered gravely. “It’s been nice riding with you too.

“John?” she asked as the bus came to a stop in the terminal slot, “I’ll see you in about half an hour.”

Loki elbowed John in the ribs. “I need to get my stuff. Are you coming?”

John nodded. “I am. Tamika, see you in thirty.”

Are You Sure, Son?

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I think about tolerance versus acceptance quite a bit. Tolerance is putting up with something we disagree with while acceptance is embracing a thing as right and proper. Both tolerance and acceptance are a continuum, not a yes/no, on/off, right/wrong. We can barely tolerate something or we can feel that in theory the “something” is fine and proper; it’s just not our particular cup of tea. Same is true of acceptance. I accept everyone’s universal right to view the world as we each see fit but I tend to embrace more fully views that parallel my own.

I also focus frequently on intellectual acceptance versus visceral. I find that the things I grew up believing are ingrained in my viscera; they are a part of my “gut feeling.” Intellectually, I reject many precepts and assumptions from my childhood but I understand that even though I recognize that the world view that my parents handed me is outdated and in opposition to how I think it still greatly influences how I feel about things. (“You can take a boy out of the country but you really can’t take country out of the boy. “)

For me, these two themes, tolerance versus acceptance and intellectual versus visceral knowledge, come into play frequently, especially in relation to sexual mores. My father defined as promiscuous anyone who had a sexual union outside of marriage; a value that, for biological, self-serving reasons, my adolescent self rejected as too restrictive.

I came of age before the scourge of HIV/AIDS was an international threat and I “knew” that STD’s (Or venereal diseases as they were known back in the day.) could be cured with a shot of penicillin. (Yet another example of outmoded thinking!) I accepted that “sleeping around” was bad both ethically and physically, but I rejected my parents’ ultra-conservative standard. By my father’s standard I was promiscuous but in the USA of the late nineteen-seventies and early eighties I was sexually conservative. (My marriage is traditional and I have been a monogamist for over thirty-five years.)

If the expectations I was exposed to concerning sexual relations between opposite sex couplings were conservative then those concerning same sex pairings were medieval. Homosexual actions were against the laws of God and nature and preventing these pairings from occurring was a legitimate arm of human law enforcement. Homosexuality was barely less destructive than pedophilia and, in fact, the two were intricately and inescapably tied to one another. How could it be otherwise? People come into the world as heterosexuals and it is only through predation by old queers that young boys are transformed from moral, upright, heterosexuals into sexual deviants that are gay. (And if you think that I exaggerate the conservative view toward homosexuality that pervaded the USA of my youth I assure you that I do not.)

These were the spoken and unspoken expectations that I learned as I lapped up Mother’s milk. I grew up in a world of intolerance, open bigotry, hatred and condemnation and I can assure you it left me scarred. Did I reject many of these “values”? I did. Am I free from them? Please refer to paragraph two.

For the record, I am still sexually conservative. I think the world would be a better place if a lot of us tried keeping it in our pants more. I “tolerate” the actions of those who have indiscriminate sexual encounters, (Though always with the caveat that I hope people are taking care of themselves and neither hurting nor lying to their partner(s).) I do not embrace those actions. Do I think that what two consenting adults do to and with one another in privacy is any of my business? No, I do not. Do I wish folks would show some restraint? Well, now we’re back to tolerance versus acceptance. What you do with your private parts is your business, not mine. I accept and embrace this idea but only tolerate the reality.

The area where I have made the most progress is in accepting same-sex couplings. The lowest level of tolerance is that “we” should leave “those” fags alone. The fact that men and women were (and still are) subjected to violence because homosexuality was deemed a capital offense (The term “fag” is a holdover from medieval times when homosexuals were burned at the stake. A faggot is a bundle of sticks; kindling with which to start a fire.) is unconscionable. Fortunately, I was never exposed to the idea that killing or beating homosexuals was an ethical action.

But I did have so many underlying prejudices against gays that it would take pages to enumerate them. To be gay was to be a pariah. To be labeled as gay a most terrible and egregious fate. I started from a position of bare tolerance and have slowly risen to acceptance and embrace. My reasons were intellectual, the need to treat others fairly and to act ethically: To live my life in accordance with the precept that all lives are worthy and that each of us must walk his own path. Head stuff that laid the groundwork for loving my gay friends; and I have a lot of them.

One of the greatest blessings of my life has been my involvement in theatre. Theatre has enriched me like nothing else and the cliché that theatre is filled with homosexuals is not hackneyed; it’s just true. (There’s also a lot of young people in theatre and here’s a news flash for you- young people tend to be both sexually active and unmarried.) When one works and plays side by side, arm in arm, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder with “them” one tends to understand that love is love. I’m sounding pretty good now, ain’t I? Better stop here if you want a happy ending.

But I still feel that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality. I don’t “think” it, I “feel” it; and the reason I know that I feel this way is because when Savannah Ward, age twelve, made national news when she “came out” in front of her LDS congregation I thought, “Are you sure? Maybe it will pass. Just, give it some time,” a response I fear a lot of people had. And why did we, why did I, have this response? Because we have a basic, underlying feeling that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality.

Let me repeat, we, society as a whole, have a basic, underlying feeling that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality. If we didn’t feel that way then why would we want her to wait? Not wait to become sexually active, that is both an ethical and biological imperative, but rather to identify as gay.

If a child were born from two parents, one black and the other white, and she said that she viewed herself as black, as white or as mixed race few would question her feelings but with sexual preference, with something that is real and not merely a man-made construct such as race, many of us are uncomfortable.

In reality, we, the vast majority of old, bigoted, “allies” want children to be heterosexual. We have largely worked our way from bare minimum toleration of homosexuals to harmonious toleration and acceptance but until we view as normal a child’s realization that he is attracted to boys and she is attracted to girls as no different than boys being attracted to girls or vice-versa then we are not accepting and embracing, we’re just tolerating.

Even as we embrace the LGBTQ community in our heads we must also love them with our hearts. Not as second-class citizens, not as damaged goods, but as equals, because that is what they are and how we all should be perceived. I may have made a lot of progress in the preceding half-century but I sure have a long, long way to go.

January Fourth: Part 15 of 32

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Greyhound BusThe milk was warm but still very tasty. John had splurged and purchased whole chocolate milk with real sugar. It was almost as good as a milkshake.

Loki took a swig. “Thanks! That’s delicious. I usually get the no fat kind. Better for me.”

“Maybe,” John replied, “but not nearly as tasty.

“You’re probably right about Joni and me; I guess I’ll really have to have a heart to heart with her so we can figure out where to go from here,” he conceded. “As you said, time to fish or cut bait.”

“Seems like. Want some more Combos?”

“Please. And thank you very much.”

“No problem, you’re the one who brought ‘em.”

“Yeah, but that’s not what I meant.”

“Ohhh. Okay. I get it,” she said with a nod. “Hey, how come you like reading so much? I mean, other than it’s free.”

“Probably because I learned late in life,” he answered. “Ever hear of dyslexia?”

“Dys-what-e-uh?”

“Dyslexia. Where people have a hard time deciphering the written word?”

“Is that where folks read words backwards?”

“No, I think that’s on Led Zeppelin albums.”

“Huh?”

“Bad joke, don’t worry about it. A sign of dyslexia is writing some letters or numbers backwards like b for d or turning a 4 around but really we have trouble taking graphemes and making them into phonemes or words. We didn’t know I was dyslexic until I was ten.”

“Graph a foam me what?”

“Just written symbols, sounds and meanings; teacher talk. I was a slow reader until I got help, an IEP, and started working with MS Zweig. She helped me so much that I became a very proficient reader and then I was hooked.”

“Are you making these words up? What’s a IEP?”

“Individual Education Program. For me it just meant seeing a reading specialist but it made all the difference in the world. Once I figured out how great books are I fell in love with them.”

“Hey! I know a book about that! Getting laughed at and then learning how to read? I had like two or three teachers read it to me when I was little. About a little girl named Trisha who can’t read and her grandma dies and they have to move to California and she has this really snappy dresser teacher who helps her. You know that one?”

John studied her for a moment before asking, “Thank You, Mr. Falker? That’s Patricia Polacco, she was dyslexic too.”

“Huh. So we read the same books sometimes. Now I feel fancy.”

John smiled. “You should, you are. Uhmm, do you want to take turns reading the O. Henry book to each other? I’d be happy to help with any of the words you’re not familiar with.”

“Hmmm,” Loki replied uncertainly. “I guess we could try it. You sure you don’t just want to read to me?”

“I think we should take turns. We’ve got about an hour and a half before we get to Jackson; I don’t think my voice can hold out if I try to read straight through.”

“That’s fair. Hey, John? I really think Joni would rather have you around then be all by herself. I think you really need to consider that and come up with a plan before you get to Chicago.”

“Yeah, I think you’re right. Do you want to read first or shall I?”

Absolute Certainty

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Surrounded by a pack of Golding’s naked little flies
Is how odd-man-out child must have felt from outraged cries.
Around a dozen children in the late nineteen-sixties;
No one wearing a stitch of clothing was not the oddity.

All we privileged white kids that belonged to the middle class
Were attending ISU’s summer school at Thomas Metcalf.
Weren’t there for remediation, our parents all had pull
And part of the curriculum was swimming in a pool.

Our weekly aquatic frolic in pool of Olympic size
Had led to unclothed gathering where small difference was spied.
We children all stripped naked as we pulled on swimming trunks
When one boy cried out in horror after spying other’s “junk.”

“Holy cow!” Jack declared, “Hey, guys, take a look at his dick!”
We all obliged dutifully and stared hard at boy’s stick.
“What’s wrong with you?” Jack rang out in a loud demanding voice;
Child who Jack did torment answered with dignity and poise.

“There’s not a thing that’s wrong with me, it’s you that has been cut.
All your foreskins have been removed but mine remains untouched.”
Confusion swirled all around, this boy’s words did not make sense,
How dare boy with deformity such lies try to dispense?

Uncircumcised and unrepentant boy gave us great details
That he declared most forcefully though his lies could not prevail.
We twelve normal children laughed at his deformity
And shook our heads in wonder over his tall-tale lying spree.

Teacher’s voice cried out to us and urged we flies to move along
Slipped into our swimsuits and filed out knowing boy was wrong.
I was secure in my little boy brain that kid’d been talking smack.
Child we called out ever after when changing turned his back.

I know not how many years passed before I understood
That tale the ostracized boy had spun was truth about our wood.
The odd man out had known the truth and declared it simply
We knew that he was in the wrong; proved by our majority.

The sun revolves around the Earth, it says so in the Bible:
If you write something that contradicts then you’re committing libel.
Facts we know to be basic and feel all others should accept
Can be unacknowledged burdens, great albatross around our necks.

“Everybody know it’s so,” makes a thing neither false nor true;
Acquiescence to majority’s not always best way to rule.
Some things that seem simple, things that every child knows,
Turns out to be further from the truth than any can suppose.

 

January Fourth: Part 14 of 32

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Greyhound BusJohn twisted his upper lip to the right side of his face. “I’ve got a little,” he said, reaching for his tattered bag, the Combos and milk. “They kind of have to last me until we get to Jackson.”

“You getting off at Jackson too?” Loki asked.

“What? No. That’s a stopover. Is that where you head out to Oklahoma?”

“Yeah. So, what, the bus keeps going to Chicago?”

“Memphis. I’ve got to change buses in Memphis,” he said opening the Combos and offering her the bag.

“I have to get off in Jackson. I can buy you some more food there if you’d like.”

“I don’t mean to be stingy, it’s just that I’m pretty strapped for cash,” he conceded.

“Yeah, yeah. I get it. Don’t worry, I don’t eat much. Here, how much did these cost you?” she asked, looking at the bag’s price tag. “One-ninety-five? Here, here’s two dollars,” she added, reaching into her right front pants pocket and pulling out a few bills. “That make us square?”

“You don’t have to do-” John started.

“Oh, just stop!” she interrupted. “I’m hungry, you’re broke, you’ve got food, I’ve got money. Well, sort of,” she added raising and then lowering her eyebrows. “I got more money’n you.”

“That’s not very hard,” he replied, taking the bills and slipping them in his pants pocket.

“Yeah, I figured. I think you really need to see about having that wife of yours take you in. You aren’t doing so good on your own, are you?” she asked, popping two Combos into her mouth. “Want some?” she offered.

“Thanks,” John answered, taking a handful. “I just don’t want to be a burden.”

“So, what are you now? A husband who’s never around? Fish or cut bait as Daddy would say. In or out. Poop or get off the pot. Think about it from her point of view. That’s why I divorced my husband.”

“Why? Because he was never home?”

“No, because I wasn’t really home. I married him because he was hunky and I loved him. Turns out I love women more so I dropped him for his sake. That way he could move on instead of us playing let’s pretend like we’re a happy couple.”

“You didn’t love him?”

“I just said I did. I still do. We just weren’t right for each other. I didn’t know until I met Rae-Rae, then I knew that even though men are great women are even greater. I moved on so he could too.”

“How’d that work out for him? Your husband?”

“Josh? Well he didn’t get it at first, then he was alright and then he was upset because I got a decent divorce settlement. Point is he’s moved on because I let him. What are you doing to your wife?”

John raised his eyebrows and let them fall. “Excellent question,” he answered. “You like chocolate milk?”

Phlebotomist

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Phlebotomist who poked me was vain but not an ass
Giggled in great pleasure sharing joke from long dead past
It wasn’t very funny and it was quite juvenile
But I produced a polite laugh at tampon tea joke I revile

What you gonna do when someone’s about to suck your blood?
You’re messing with my life force? I’ll show you lots of love
Because I’m here to tell you that when folks got me by short hairs
I’ll go along to get along and then get out of there

With this particular blood letter, I knew I would soon be done
But what about other blood suckers from whom we cannot run?
The monsters all around us who wish to shackle us with chains
Or carrion bone pickers who dine on our remains?

Our brothers and our sisters who preach deceitful lies
That the answer to our problems is to hate and despise?
The vociferous hate mongers on radio or to church pews
Who in the name of greatness fear and intolerance they spew

Strategy of divide and conquer is familiar to us all
Does greatness come from building bridges or hiding behind walls?
Why is there so vast an audience for those who proselytize
With fear and anger as they extol us to despise?

People we’re being told to hate are our brethren, that is simple fact
We need to insist on tolerance not go off on berserker attack
In world of eye for an eye we all soon shall be blind
Rather than hating reflexively let’s open up our minds

Open them to dialogue, and learning of far away kin
If we all practice basic tolerance perhaps peace can win
I’m not some Pollyanna who dreams there’s nothing wrong
Or supposes Age of Aquarius is ushered in by Kumbaya song

But blood that I am seeing running through gutters of our streets
Is only flowing deeper with each furious war drum beat
The problem’s all around us and the solution’s in our hands
All I’m suggesting is we stop demonizing our fellow man

If preachers of your deity are commanding you
To smite those that are different whether Christian, Hindu or Jew
Or that Islam is the problem and that atheists are a blight
If violence of sword or oppression drives you, how can that be right?

Or secular leaders who wish to drive a wedge
Between us and our brothers and insist “They” want you dead?
The leaches and blood letters with their call to endless war
Are barrier to solution and it’s intolerance we should abhor

Vampires and werewolves, leaches of every kind
Will point to other side’s atrocities and insist that I am blind
It may be true that I’m a dreamer and my head’s up in the clouds
Still time to change world to dream from nightmare of which we can be proud

January Fourth: Part 13 of 32

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Greyhound Bus“So how did that work? Breakfast at a bank?” John asked with a smirk.

“Well, maybe ‘breakfast’ isn’t the right word,” Loki replied with a shrug. “Dad may be a ‘tard but he’s crafty. I was amazed at how much money he has in the bank. For somebody who didn’t graduate high school he’s done pretty good for himself.

“Anyway,” she continued, “he has this routine. Gets up in the morning, hops on his bike and rides to the bank where they have popcorn. He says good morning, grabs a bag, munches it either outside or in the entryway depending on the weather and then he pedals over to Mildred’s nursing home. He’d stay there through lunch and they’d feed him. They weren’t supposed to but what are you going to do when it’s lunch time and you have a retard who’s being a good husband and it’s time for lunch? They started feeding him and then he came to just expect it I guess. What are they gonna do now; throw him out? So that’s got two meals taken care of.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “There was one thing the home had a problem with: The staff refrigerator. Seems that Daddy was going in and taking food out of the lunches employees had brought. They tried reasoning with him but he’s kind of like a big five-year-old so good luck with that. They finally jut put a padlock on their break-room fridge.”

“You’re kidding me?”

“Swear to God,” she answered, holding her pinky with her thumb and raising the other three fingers in the air. “That’s what Uncle Bob said, that’s Daddy’s brother.

“Anyway,” she continued with a wry smile, “the home sure as hell wasn’t going to feed him dinner too but he’d already figured out a scam for that. Grocery store samples. He makes the rounds of half-a-dozen stores: Walmart, Aldi, Big Giant, Cash Saver, Buy for Less. He mixes it up and knows where to go on what days. He don’t eat much, skinny little thing. I kinda take after him that way.”

“Yeah, I bet,” John snorted.

“I’m little but I’m mighty,” Loki answered.

“I thought you said you were half retard?”

“Can’t I be both?”

“Point taken,” John conceded. “So he doesn’t pay much for food?”

“Lord no! And Christmas dinner? First time I was married me and my brothers would go to Dad’s? It was a can of spaghetti and can of corn; and not really big ones either. We learned early on not to expect much.”

“And your mom? What happened to her?”

“She left,” Loki said, nodding.

“Oh, wow. Sorry. Did you see her much?”

“What? What do you mean?”

“Well, you said she left? Did you see her much after that?”

“Oh! I get it! No, no. She left him, not us. She took us with her. You sure you’re not part retard too?” she asked with a wink.

“Maybe.”

“Lord, that’s a scary thought. Living in a house with Daddy. I’m afraid he’s gonna want to come live with us in Crime Hills. Ain’t gonna happen.”

“Uhmm, indelicate question but why did your mom marry him? I mean, well, did she have to?”

“What do ya’ mean?”

“Well, you know; was she pregnant?”

“Oh! I get it! No. She just had to get out of her house. Grandad used to beat her and such. Daddy was a way out and she took it. They were married for over eight years.”

“So you lived with your mom? Where was that?”

“Place called Edmond just north of the city. Mom was a cleaning lady at a college. We saw Daddy a few times a year. How about you? You see your folks much?”

“I used to until I moved away. Wish I could but visiting is expensive.”

“And how about your wife? Joni; right? You said you don’t see her very often?”

“No. I mean, right,” he replied, eyes downcast. “Not very often at all.”

“Sometimes life really sucks, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, you can say that again.”

“’Sometimes life really sucks.’ Hey, you got any food? I’m a little hungry.”