In memoriam

 

 

In memoriam: Las Vegas

Mother, mother, sister, brother,
Father to us all,
Children one and all
Tell me why
They’re gone
Mother, sister, father, brother
Tell me why
It’s not the time
To stop this madness
Tell me, if you can,
Tell me why you’re gone

Charlie, Brennan, Erick, Quint, Neysa, Dorene,
Pati, Nicky, Chris, Andrea, Adrian, Brian, Brett and Bo
Denise, Chrissy, Candy, Lisa, Rocky, Jordy
Austin, Laura, Dana, Carrie, Tom and Jenny

Is that not enough?
To me its more than plenty
I like a poem that’s short

Kurt, Jack, Sandy, Angie, Jenny, say it twice,
Bailey, Susy, Rachel, John

I am not too fond of saying this
Guns are killing us

Tara, Calla, Jessie, Jordan,
Haven’t I heard this one before,
Chris and Carrie and Carly,
Can’t you see the insanity
Of doing nothing, nothing at all
And saying let us have our fun
Rhoda, Lisa, Bill and Sonny, Denise, Steve and Cameron,
And finally Heather,
Oh, but it is not final
Because you’d rather keep your guns

And when you
You know who
Lay down your head upon your pillow
Say your prayers,
And bless those fellows who died for us, for you
Think of this
Let’s lay down those guns
That keep killing
Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers
And the children who are our future

From Nevada:
Charleston Hartfield, Brennan Stewart, Erick Silva, Quintin Robbins, Austin Meyer, Neysa Tonks

From Alaska:
Dorene Anderson, Adrian Murfitt

From Arizona:
Brett Schwanbeck

From California:

Pati Mestas, Nicol Kimura, Christopher Hazencomb, Andrea Castilla, Brian Fraser, Derrick “Bo” Taylor, Denise Cohen, Christiana Duarte, Candice Bowers, Lisa Patterson, Rocio Guillen Rocha, Jordyn Rivera, Austin Davis, Laura Shipp, Keri Galvan, Hannah Ahlers, Stacee Etcheber, Michelle Vo, Victor Link, Melissa Ramirez, Kelsey Meadows, Dana Gardner, Carrie Barnette, Thomas Day Jr., Jennifer Parks, Kurt Von Tillow, Jack Beaton, Sandy Casey, Angie Gomez, Jennifer Irvine, Bailey Schweitzer, Susan Smith, Rachel Parker, John Phippen

These lovely souls,
So young, so fair
Called off by earthly doom,
Just came to show how sweet a flower
In paradise could bloom

From Canada:
Tara Roe Smith, Calla Medig, Jessica Klymchuk, Jordan McIldoon

From Colorado:
Christopher Roybal

From Iowa:
Carly Kreibaum

From Massachusetts:
Rhonda LeRocque

From New Mexico:
Lisa Romero-Muniz

From Pennsylvania:
Bill Wolfe

From Tennessee:
Sonny Melton

From Washington:
Carrie Parsons

From West Virginia:
Denise Burditus

From Wisconsin:
Steve Berger

From Utah:
Cameron Robinson, Heather Alvarado

 

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Remember the phone

Oz is looking at his iPhone 6 remembering when trips in the car meant no annoying calls, remembering that what is good today does not last.

 

phone_black_2
old black dial phone

Remember the phone
In grandpa’s house
A brown box that hung on the wall
A cord and ear tube with which to hear
A tube in which to speak
A girl in a distant room says
May I help you?

Remember the phone
Your parents had just one
Black and squat it sat on the counter
And in your hand, you held the power
To speak and hear at once
And sometimes you imagined you were blind
While your fingers played with the holes
Just to hear
The ding-a-lingy of the dial while
You wondered what happened to that girl

Remember the booth that stood on every corner
A glass box that became shelter from the rain
Where Superman could change
Where dimes were more precious than gold
To one who needed more time
But time caught up with us all
And mid-sentence came a click

I’ve lived long enough to know
That what was once good enough is gone

Vacations

state_line

Oz has been on vacation this summer, inspired by a bit of Walt Whitman.

“O highway I travel, do you say to me, Do not leave me? Do you say, Venture not—if you leave me you are lost? Do you say, I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied, adhere to me?”

Once there was a man
who filmed his vacation
with his camera,
shooting this and shooting that
despite the fact his daughter said
Knock it Off!
dad, she said
you’re missing all the fun.

Through the eye of the lens
he thought
he saw it all until there
was nothing left to see,
but only then did he find
He missed it all.

Rivers, trees, canyon, hills, and skies
He kept them all neatly in a box
Until December.
Preserved
But not remembered
And then forgot and lost the box

state_line_cars

Let it rain

Here in the Land of Oz it has been hot for two weeks with temperatures in the triple digits. Head phones on, listening to Phil Collins – I wish it would rain, I go for a run and the sweat pours down, down on me.

flash-lightening

Ha, ha. Running in the rain, I must be insane, there is thunder and lightning, and it is really quite frightening, one, two, three, flash, as I splash through the water, I am soaked to the bone and my phone is getting wetter, I am going fast, betting it won’t last, Holy guacamole, I am thoroughly splattered, not that it matters, but I better take cover, because mother, it’s is stupid and only a deluded doofus would find this so much fun…

 

Listen to Phil – I wish it would rain, rain down, on me, featuring Eric Clapton.

The school of hard rocks

 

beach_sit

Does it matter, she asked herself, does it matter that all this must cease to exist – the jagged rocks, the warm sand, the wide ocean and the blue sky, and even the birds that glide on the gentle breeze itself must go away when she dies. Or, is this why we have children?

This is not an original thought, she thought, and then she realized, we do not procreate with a purpose other than to find relief. To momentarily escape reality before reality again rears its ugly head. Oh, she realized, that it is only in the long years of child rearing that one signals one’s hope that life should go on and that others should ask this same question.

Then she had a strange thought that life is an endless series of steps. One starts and stops, like life itself. The distance from beginning to end being both insurmountable and unknowable.

A lesson from the school of hard rocks

Words

 

 

face_eyes-blur

Alone, a noun is just a word
That waits for a verb
Then, like a face
That’s hardly recognizable
It smiles, it laughs, it comes alive
Until you say,
“That’s what’s his name.”

Kansas Spring

March 31, 2017

blossom-bird

It is spring again in Kansas.

March 31st, the course of the sun has run halfway through Aries, the sign of the ram. It is Kansas and so it is the South Wind, not the West that warms the earth. The farmers give thanks for the sometimes-gentle rain that falls from the heavens above, and curse instead when it hails.

The earth, which a few weeks ago, was brown and grey is now green and lush, and the morning’s silence is broken by the Robins’ song.

What follows is a modern translation of Chaucer’s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.

Prologue to the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer: Modern English, French, and original Middle English,

Modern English

English did not become modern until William Shakespeare and the King James translation of the Bible, a fact that will surprise many “modern” high school English students.

When April with its sweet showers
Hath pierced the drought of March to its root,
And bathed every vein in such liquor
By which virtue engenders the flower;

When the West Wind also with his sweet breath,
Has inspired In every woodland and field
The tender crops, and the young sun
Has half its course within the sign of Aries run,

And small fowls make melody,
That sleep all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them in their hearts),
Then folk long to go on pilgrimages,

And pilgrims to seek strange shores,
To distant shrines, known in sundry lands;
And specially from every shire’s end
Of England to Canterbury wend their way,
The holy blessed martyr to seek
Who helped them when they were sick.

Language Barriers

When I was a little boy the joke was told,
Q: Why did Peter throw the butter out the window?
A: To see the butterfly.

It is a joke that works in English but not in French, since butterfly in French is papillon.

Language barriers are large but none so great as that observed by the Welsh and English cleric Matthew Henry, There are none so deaf and none so blind, as they who refuse to see and will not listen.

French

Quand avril avec ses douces douches
La sécheresse de mars à sa racine a percé ,
Et a baigné toutes les veines dans une telle liqueur
Par quoi la vertu engendre la fleur;

Quand le Vent de l’Ouest aussi avec son doux souffle,
A inspiré dans tous les bois et champs
Les plantes tendres et le jeune soleil
A couru la moitié du cours en Bélier,

Et les petites volailles chante la mélodie,
Qui dormir toute la nuit avec l’œil ouvert
(Donc la nature les pique dans leurs coeurs),
Ensuite, les gens souhaitaient faire des pèlerinages,

Et les pèlerins cherchent des rivages étranges,
Aux sanctuaires lointains, connus dans les terres diverses;
Et surtout depuis la fin de chaque cours
De l’Angleterre à Canterbury se promène,
Le saint béni martyr à chercher
Qui les a aidés quand ils étaient malades.

Middle English

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 – 25 October 1400) is the grand daddy of English literature. Thank God he wrote in the vernacular and not in Latin as had been the custom. English is the most polyglot of languages. Sprinkled throughout Chaucer’s English, one observes bits of French, German, and Latin.

If one looks at the words of Chaucer and then listens to the sound, much of the meaning will become clear.

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour,

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

The “hooly blisful martir for to seke”.

Alas, it was St. Thomas Beckett, murdered by followers of the king, who was the “holy blissful martyr” the pilgrims sought to seek. His shrine in Canterbury stood until 1538, when, on orders from King Henry VIII, it and Beckett’s bones were destroyed, and Henry ordered that all mention of his name be obliterated.

Lost in Translation

Even the most literal of translations can be deceiving. Lovers, poets, and politicians know this for that is why words matter. This is a good thing for it means that Google Translate will forever require human intervention.

What is the word I am looking for

What is this fascination we have with words?

Who has not spent an hour, a day, or a week searching for the right word, and having found one, will change it for another, then another. And daring to wax poetic we fail, like the child wanting to catch an elusive butterfly, flailing with net, coming up with empty air.

 

Prologue to Troilus and Criseyde

It was then quite refreshing to come across these words from Georffrey Chaucer’s Prologue to Book 2 of Troilus and Criseyde.

Middle English

Ye knowe eek, that in forme of speche is chaunge
With-inne a thousand yeer, and wordes tho
That hadden prys, now wonder nyce and straunge
Us thinketh hem; and yet they spake hem so,
And spedde as wel in love as men now do;
Eek for to winne love in sondry ages,
In sondry londes, sondry ben usages.

Chaucer’s speech is Middle English, the language spoken after the Norman invasion, influenced by French, but connected to the language of the Saxons and Angles who came to the British Isles in the Middle Ages. With a little study the words and meaning become clear.

Following the rhetorical salutation “you know” we are greeted by the strange sounding  word “eek” in line 22 (pronounced like “eck” and not the sound we make when we see a mouse) is derivative of the German “auch” meaning “also” or “besides”.

Third line, the word “prys” is “prize” which is a fair equivalent for value. Line 26, “spedde” is the past tense of “speed”. It is a word familiar even in Shakespeare’s time in the common salutation “Speed well” meaning may your trip go quickly and without mishap. “Fare” and “farewell” is a more modern adaptation. “Eek” appears again in the second to last line. Here it is better to substitute “besides”. The word “sondry” we spell “sundry” but the meaning is the same, “various”.

The last line repeats the word “sondry” twice, referring first to different lands, and second to the usage of speech. The verb “ben” is our “been” expressing a form of the verb “to be”. Today, one might more appropriately say “have been” to imply continuous usage, but “were” fills the bill nicely.

Modern English

You know also that the form of speech changes
Within a thousand years, words though
That had value then, now seem wondrous nice and strange
We think them; and yet they spoke them so
And fared as well in love as now men do;
Besides, to win love in sundry ages,
in sundry lands, there were sundry usages.

In Chaucer’s day, French was the language of court and had been so for 300 years. Despite this, and the continuing marriages with French princess, and wars in France, England seems to have had an affinity for the language fiven it by the Saxon and Angles who invaded the island in the Middle Ages.

French translation

Were I to translate Chaucer’s English to courtly French, I might, without the correct rhyme or meter, have this:

Savez que la forme de la parole change
Dans mille ans, les mots si
Cela a eu une valeur, alors, semble maintenant belle merveilleuse et étrange
Nous les pensons, et ainsi ils les ont parlé
Et aussi bien réussi dans l’amour que maintenant les hommes;
D’ailleurs, pour gagner l’amour dans les âges divers,
dans les terres diverses, il y avait des usages divers.

Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer, first poet to be buried in Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey.