Hiking Sticks, running shoes, knee brAce, stop watch, distanCe out, time in, Riding the waves along thE dusty trail, he Dives into the sandy Sea and on toP of the mountain Arrives, Carrying watEr from the gratitude fountain.
The really cute, young, gay bartender
and his equally cute, best friend
forever, female customer echoed
Miley Cyrus throughout the
restaurant during a slow happy
hour. They innocently and
frivolously bantered back and
forth about facial scrubs and
makeup and called each other
gorgeous and better than beauty-
ful and beyond belief buds.
The Republican Party is about
to nominate a fascist and the
money and ratings hungry media
including, if not ironically led
by a seemingly deaf, blind and
anything but mute liberal network,
are proving to be the biggest
enablers of this sick political
addiction. The senior citizen
couple who sat at the bar while
all this, meaning all this,
swirled around them could only
say the gay made a great Cosmo-
politan. His Miley Cyrus
impersonating twin BFF agreed
totally while asking, “Do
you really think we are
brother and sister? Act-
ually his skin is darker than
mine, but we have the same
doctor.” Then they laughed
because the bartender is
Hispanic and his friend
isn’t. The couple drained
their Cosmos, wished the
kids well while leaving
a hefty tip. As they walk-
ed out the door into the
desert heat, they thought
of the final scene of Cabaret
where the innocent dancers
huddle together as gas
flows into the chamber.
He tells me that it is not a good time for gays or Hispanics
and considering that he is both, he feels that he has been
double whammied. He says it in such a way that I can tell
that he doesn’t think I understand because I am neither
gay nor Hispanic. In other words, at the very least, I am
an alien being and, more at it, the enemy — an older,
straight, white guy, historic oppressor of everyone who is
the opposite of what I am — young, female, LBGT, DNA
below N 40° latitude. I try to tell him it is no fun being
despised, dismissed, denigrated for no good reason other
than age, sexual orientation, gender, skin color but it
doesn’t cut it. Then I think, in a vain attempt to display
my credentials of suffering, I could tell him about the
major tragedies in my life and then I think better of that,
so I just say hmm and nod my head. After all, it has been
quite awhile since anyone has threatened the Swede and
Dutch in me with death or deportation.
He watched her blow in through the “Exit Only” sign and tear into the only “Fifteen Minute Only” parking spot left before she hopped out and into the drug store. He was glad he wasn’t exiting as she was entering.
Thirty minutes later, she sauntered through the doors and headed to her SUV.
He saw the decal fleur-de-lis crosses plastered all over the rear window and the plastic fleur-de-lis cross dangling from the rear view mirror.
“I assume you are a religious person,” he said.
Proudly she stated, “Yes, indeed. I am a follower of Jesus.”
“I saw you blow in through the exit only and you have doubled your allotted time in a fifteen minute space. What would Jesus do?”
“Well, I see you have been watching me. I know he wouldn’t judge me,” she said laughingly.
“I’m just asking WWJD. Those who flaunt the fleur-de-lis cross better walk the walk.”
She pulled out and sped away giving him the thumbs up on the way out.
“She must be a good Christian,” he said to himself, “She didn’t flip me the bird.”
It is said that a conscience is what you do when you think no one is looking.
As he stood there in his self-appointed righteousness, he wondered if he would have been so bold if the driver had been a big, burly skinhead with tattoos all over who probably was “packin’ heat.”
He thought to himself, ah, faith vs. the survival instinct.
time of dreading being in the empty
her tragic, sudden
he actually embraced the house of
as it was transformed
from space of utter loneliness to
some semblance of solitude.
something of a sanctuary
wherein he could feel
It was his cocoon,
from which one day
he would emerge
The van was full of Lakota kids who had spent so
much time on the reservation they didn’t know
about the Badlands anymore. It had been drained
from their Indian blood. They didn’t know the
Badlands could be bad, so like a bunch of silly,
urban white kids who were in the van, too, they
jumped out and ran through the tall grass to get
to the rim to look down into canyons, ravines,
gullies from buttes, mesas and hoodoo tops. They
didn’t know them by name nor did they have the
proper respect for the beauty and the danger.
They no longer understood how to navigate the
terrain. On the way they scared up a couple of
rattlesnakes who, fortunately, scooted away.
The kids just jumped and screamed and continued
running. Thankfully, they knew enough to stop
at the edge of what for them was simply the beaut-
iful abyss for lack of a better name. They had
forgotten (or had never learned) much, their red
blood having been drained to white.
We are so scared.
We are such bullies.
We keep spending billions
on the war machine.
A young man sits
alone on a bridge
over the Chicago River.
He has an ugly, weeping
wound on his leg.
People turn away.
We throw more money
at war stuff that is
obsolete as soon as
it is made.
We are so scared.
We are such bullies.
We turn away
from weeping wounds.
My dog has spirit. Do you know how
I know? It isn’t because he runs and
jumps and is playful. He isn’t so
much any more. It is because I
hear him breathing — rhythmically,
in and out, in and out, slowly when
he slumbers, like now. Soon he will
snore like the foghorn near the shore
of Lake Michigan on a foggy morning.
I like hearing the sound of that horn
as it climbs the dune and descends
toward me. It gives me comfort to
hear when I cannot see. Right now I
cannot see my dog. He is under the
table, but I hear his spirit and I
am comforted by his presence.
When loved ones die, they breathe
no more; it is so final. Their breath
departs and returns to the creator
for safe keeping, so says the good
book, but I breathe and when I hear
my breath it is as if I hear their
spirit. I feel their presence and
I am comforted.
He hadn’t been to many small, group
experiences at a church since he re-
tired and he, who many years before
had been an introverted child,
reverted to that way of functioning.
He was more comfortable wandering
the grounds by himself than engaging
strangers in small talk. How strange
it is, he thought to himself as he
walked among the family photos and
paintings in the hosts’ home silently
finding out about their lives. It was
what he had done on home visitation
as a pastor discovering things about
which to converse with his parishioners,
but now he decided only to enjoy the
decorations for themselves. For years
he had been in charge, relished the
role and knew how to work a room like
a hungry, financial advisor at a retire-
ment seminar. After dinner, the guests
were expected to introduce themselves.
He knew exactly how to entertain and
did so. Earlier, he had found two
children, a brother and sister, and
talked with them about freckles, auburn
hair, green eyes and being Irish, which
is what the children were. It was
easy being with the children and for
that time he was an easy extrovert
once more. Sometime in the future,
he might very well, once again, be
childlike and might happily reclaim
the shy child that he had been and
what nobody would believe, in a
million years, he ever had been.
The sign along the road reads
Self-Reliant Fellowship Meets Here.
Is it a meeting of people who get together
and never have to say please or thank you?
Reminds one of the book and movie Love Story
with the infamous line, “Love means never
having to say you’re sorry.” Sorry.
Maybe it’s a way of getting around having
to make the building handicap accessible.
Where would we be without all the help
we have received along the way? What about
a “Somewhat Self-Reliant Fellowship”?