Tales From One Warm Summer Night (Part 1)


Study for The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania by...
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My heart beat faster one warm summer night,

When four friends and I exchanged tales around a fire,

Connie leaned forward in her chair,

“There are fairies dancing there,

Around the old oak tree,

A place that’s magical for them and me,”

Her brown smoldering eyes held me still,

I searched their depths until I had my fill,

“Fairies cast spells on strangers passing through,

Using their magic to make dreams come true,”

Connie, her raven black hair shining in the moonlight,

Said, “I’ll tell you more, later in the night,”

Jim cleared his throat, glanced at the others, then at me,

“I’ll tell you a story about terror at sea,

Of pirates who changed from their plundering ways,

Experienced old salts brave and crusty as they be,

Who saved their own lives by tossing treasures into the sea,”

He paused for a moment to catch his breath,

“Then I’ll close with a ship named ‘DEATH’,”

Rhonda stood up and with a shy little grin,

“I want to tell you about heroic women and their wild, wild men,

How they conquered the West with love, tears, and sweat,

Overcame their fears and stood up to threats,”

Bill couldn’t resist telling about wars with blood and gore,

“Freedom is always worth fighting for,”

He hesitated as if he wanted his words to sink in,

“There’s a change as boys become men,

Cannons boom constantly and tanks shake their world around,

Every man becomes braver as he crosses contested ground,”

I listened and waited to share a truth that was stark,

I wanted to tell them about danger that lurked in the dark,

My story had been forgotten and I lost my chance to speak,

For growls were getting closer and my stomach was getting weak,

I gasped and stuttered but nothing they could understand,

They continued with their stories as I wrung my hands,

Connie looked at me apprehensively, as if I was mad,

“I see you’re preparing your story, but your acting is bad,”

There were murmurs of agreement as she continued her tale,

“The fairies were delighted to find one day,

A knight tired from his journey, under the oak he lay,

On his way to the castle he had fallen asleep,

His mission was to rescue a princess from the keep,

The fairies laughed, they danced, they cast a spell,

They wanted their magic to serve him well,

For he would soon face the witch and the evil queen,

Brave knights who’d gone before were never again seen,

The fairies wove a multi-colored cloak from spider webs and dew,

If he wore it at the castle it would hide him from view,

A second spell they bestowed before he awoke,

The next two he kissed would go up in smoke,”

Her story was entertaining and the fire was going out,

But Jim looked sullen and was beginning to pout,

“Go ahead, Jim,” I said, “I’ll throw more wood on the fire,

Continue your story about the treasures pirates aquire,”

Uneasily I studied the woods for the terror it contained,

While my friends shared the fire and with stories entertained,

“After a brief skirmish with one of the king’s battleships,

The pirates disappeared into the fog and gave them the slip,

They plundered the coast, found treasures to steal,

Escaped angry husbands, had rum and good meals,

The tars watched a hundred sunsets as they traveled by boat,

Then the pirates crossed the Atlantic to lands remote,

Found Spanish ships loaded with gold from the new world received,

The pirates fired their cannons and the gold relieved,

And off they sailed thinking they were safe from harm,

But a hurricane was brewing and no one sounded the alarm,”

While he gathered his breath to go on with his tale,

Rhonda couldn’t wait one minute longer,

“The men in my story were strong, but the women were stronger,

From Boston and New York the men went west,

Looking for adventure, for gold, or land at its best,

Towns sprang up overnight with guns making the law,

It was easy to be dead or quick on the draw,

The last place of civilization was named Kansas City,

Men venturing west beyond that were given no pity,

Uncivilized, untamed, life always in the rough,

If a woman dared go west she had to be tough,

She plowed by day, ran her household by candlelight,

Bore her babies at home, and fought for her rights,

In the fields or on the porch she carried a gun,

But in the bedroom at night most battles were won,

Those feisty women changed each odious law,

Against those in petticoats stubborn men would withdraw,”

“A nice history lesson, Rhonda,” Bill said, “Now it’s my turn,

There was a young man who had much about war to learn,

Both sides agreed about Christmas Day, so soldiers ceased fire,

No guns were deadly as they crossed over barbed wire,

Troops celebrated together but before the sun went down,

Soldiers took their positions and prepared for another round,

Deadly combat began early the next day,

Friends became enemies, no mercy did they display,

This young man, eighteen at most, charged a machine gun nest,

Dodged bullets as he ran, but was more scared than the rest,

He was tired of seeing his friends shot down,

So he dashed across and conquered the ground,

He didn’t want to be a hero but what else could he do,

The war was not over and his job was not through,”

Stories of fairies, heroic women, war and the sea,

Were all suspended while my friends waited for me,

All the people in these stories marched upon imagination’s stage,

Yet a few feet away, more than enough to fill a page,

There was a story ready to unfold,

About a creature hungry and bold,

Perhaps I was the only one who could see,

Those long fangs and those eyes glaring at me,

I had listened and waited and I wanted to share,

But I was transfixed by that malevolent stare,

I wanted to ask if this was but a dream,

Because if it was real, I needed to scream,

The Magic of Nature


IMG_8516
Image by harrischristopoulos via Flickr

When I was a
child I might disappear for awhile,

Looking for
places that were deemed worthwhile,

The top of a
tree, Inside a fortress of hay,

To observe
the magic of nature just for the day,

But I didn’t
want to be late for dinner,

Southern
cornbread, fried potatoes and beans,

Tomatoes,
onions, pokesalad greens,

If I was
hungry come and get it while it’s hot,

If I had to
be called twice, I guess I’m not,

But I had to
see the speckled eggs in a bluebird’s nest,

Stop to
watch the piglets feed at Mr. Joe’s Barn,

Stoop to
throw a rock at snakes that could do me some harm,

Count the
circles the hawk made as she searched for mice,

Wondered if
the crawdads would still be nice,

Listen to
the frogs croak at the edges of the pond,

Take one
last look and wave my magic wand,

“Stay there,” I would call, “I’ll don’t want to be thinner,”

And off I’d
race to get part of dinner,

Mom would be
exasperated, “What kept you?”

I’d hang my
head, “I had things to do,”

Then when I
finished my chores,

I asked if I
could go outdoors,

For the sun
was hanging at earth’s very edge,

Splashing red
and gold on trees and hedge,

And then as
it slipped away from the day,

Darkness
descended so animals could play,

Scissortails
and bats flew around with flair,

Snatching mosquitoes
and insects out of the air,

Nocturnal shapes
and all kinds of beasts,

Appeared
from the shadows ready to feast,

Dinner for
them was life or death,

The
quickest, the strongest, the ones out of breath,

Huffing and
puffing or slipping around,

They
measured their foes by fang or by sound,

I watched
and waited for a deadly dance,

Marveled in
nature’s way of living by chance,

Then with
starlight to guide me homeward I sped,

Where I
could sleep soundly in my own safe bed.

 

 

 

 

A Scandal is a Storm With a Voracious Appetite


Liberty: Washington
Image by FatBusinessman via Flickr

Stir a
Scandal and it only gets bigger.  One
misdeed grows larger, getting energy from opposing forces, until it becomes a
storm of increasing destructive strength sweeping over a wider area, changing
the landscape forever.  And yet, in spite
of all the debris and obvious evidence, there is denial that the storm ever
existed, or if it did exist, the claims are made that it did no damage.

A political storm is not about a politician
being open and honest with constituents.
It is about truth management.  First,
is it necessary to tell the truth? How much truth should be told?  Who needs to know and why?  If the truth comes out will it destroy the
power base or the sources of income? To what extent should the sources of truth
be stopped?

A politician
is not one person, but the figurehead of an organization.   That organization has spent time and money building
an image, lifting the politician to a position of power.  Unscrupulous members might be assigned the
chores of keeping bad news or truths hidden.
Small scandals can be countered with lies or money. Large scandals might
require more drastic measures.  And the
politicians themselves might never know how the scandal is handled.  A scandal is a storm with a voracious
appetite, springing up suddenly, and out of control.  Such is the story of Any Mann.

Any Mann
began as a small town candidate running for a small office.  He kissed babies, became a member of the
school board, the county water district, the city council, and quietly began
building his resume.  He had help, of
course, from an organization that saw his potential.  He wasn’t particularly bright, but he was
handsome and well groomed, did and said what he was told, smiled a lot, and had
a clean record.  He was a near perfect
candidate and the organization could build a power base around him.

He was elected to the state assembly on the
first try, not because he was so great but because the organization easily outspent
his opponent.  After three terms Any was
elected to Congress and gradually worked his way onto powerful committees.  Those who had supported him throughout his
career now began asking him for favors as a way of repaying their investments. The
requests were harmless at first, but the demands became increasingly bold, and
were hard to put into bills without public exposure.

The
pressures on Any were growing and he began taking prescription drugs to ease
his stress.  His political strength was building
and he was becoming a name across the country.

He returned
to his home town for a Mother’s Day celebration.  His sister, brother and selected friends
joined him.  They partied hardy.   Any relaxed
and was glad to be away from the pressures of Washington although he still had
his bodyguards. Sometime in the evening drinking and drugs mixed.   Any at first appeared normal but soon he was
out of control.  He found his sister,
Patti, asleep in another room.  After a
brief struggle he overpowered and raped her.

As morning
neared he came to his senses and became afraid.
“Get out! This is your fault!  You’re
trying to ruin me!”  He shoved her out of
the room.  “I don’t ever want to see you
again!”

Their older
brother was awakened by the commotion and found Patti sobbing inconsolably, curled
in a fetal position.  After a few minutes
he asked gently, “What happened?” Patti ‘s eyes widened.  “I can’t tell you,” she sobbed.  “You have to,” he insisted.

“Any raped me,” she blurted. He held her hand,
gradually comprehending the gravity of the situation.  He hugged her and said, “Everything will be
all right.  After I find Any I’m taking
you to the hospital.”

He found Any
outside the house, talking with a bodyguard.
He walked up to Any and asked bluntly, “Patti’s our sister. Why did you
rape her?”

“Don’t be
taking her side when you don’t even know what happened! I knew she’d say
something like that.  She’s a tramp!”

Before Any
could say anything more, he was knocked down. His brother stated, “I should
kill you but after I take Patti to the hospital, I’m holding a news conference
and telling the nation just what kind of jerk you are.”

He spun about and marched out.  Any turned to the bodyguard.  “I guess it’s all over.”

The
bodyguard was on his cell phone immediately.
After a few seconds he said, “Go get in my car and wait there.  Don’t talk to anybody. The big boss says hang
tight.  We’ll handle this crisis before
it gets out of control.”

“What do you
mean?”

“This is not
the time to ask questions, sir.  Just
follow directions.  Everything is already
put into motion.”

Any saw his
brother and sister drive away in his government issued sedan. He put his head
into his hands. “What is going on?  I can’t
believe that I’ve screwed up my life.”

In his
anguish he missed the following scene. A gray car pulled out and followed the
sedan at a respectable distance.  A few
blocks away at a stoplight the gray car suddenly pulled up alongside the sedan.  Several guns fired simultaneously.  The sedan lurched forward and crashed into a
pole.

The gray car
sped away.

Within the
hour a news bulletin was issued.  “This
afternoon at 1 p.m. an attempted assassination on Congressman Any Mann was
made.  His driver, brother and sister were
killed by unknown gunmen.  By a lucky
circumstance Any had been called away to an emergency meeting and was not in
the car.  Our government has just issued
a High Alert until the gunmen can be found.”

The
resulting publicity and the way Any handled himself over the next few months
raised his ratings in the polls.  He
became a presidential candidate and insiders said he had the best chance of
winning.

But there
were rumors that kept bubbling up and damaging Any’s image. Did someone have a
video showing Any and his brother fighting?
Could that bruise on his cheek be explained?   Did
someone actually have a tape of Patti’s dying words?  Attempts were made to squelch each and every
rumor but that only made the rumors spread.
Did Any order his brother and sister killed?  Should such a man be elected to the White
House?

It wasn’t
long before the other congressmen considered Any a liability and began
distancing themselves.  They didn’t want
to go down with his ship.  Finally the
organization behind him cut all ties.  “You
can’t do this,” he stated. “I didn’t order my brother and sister killed.”

Within the
hour a new bulletin was issued.  “This
afternoon Congressman Any  Mann was found
dead in his office.  A note was found
beside his body.  Any had been described
as despondent by several of his close friends. A memorial will be held.”

The storm
was over and all was quiet.  The
organization was busy, however, looking for a new candidate, someone they could
package and sell.  It was not about
finding the best person for the job.  It
was simply a matter of merchandizing magic.
Tell the people what they want and then convince them that their desires
were granted.  Anything can happen in the
land where dreams come true.

 

 

You Weren’t On My Schedule


Russian Orthodox Easter ceremony in Lvov (West...
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I passed you today as I took my morning walk,

You looked cold and hungry but I didn’t want to talk,

I was looking up, you were looking down,

I was wearing a smile, you were wearing a frown,

I didn’t take the time to ask you what was wrong,

I was In the middle of humming a very special song,

I couldn’t be interrupted, for I had too much to do,

But I promised to ask sometime what was bothering you,

No, not next week, for there are things I have booked,

I checked my schedule in case anything’s been overlooked,

“How are you?”, “I’m fine,” but I really didn’t have time to chat,

I had people to see and things to do, you know, this and that,

I was eager to share my world with someone, but no, not now,

You took away my joy because you were in my way somehow,

You looked awful, perhaps struggling to find something to say,

But when tears rolled down your cheeks, you nearly ruined my day,

“Good grief!” I muttered, but I know I wasn’t being rude,

I chose to be patient because I wanted to keep my good mood,

 “Shape up, I don’t have time for this,” I snapped in dismay,

“Oh, my!”  You were looking sad and putting on a display,

“I don’t care what your problem is, you’ll just have to wait,”

“I’ve got to go and smile at folks, and now you’ve made me late!”

I rushed away, leaving you behind, despair plainly on your face,

I was hoping you’d find someplace else, be gone without a trace,

When I returned you weren’t there, much to my relief,

I didn’t want to see you again or put up with your grief,

 Life is short and there was so much I still needed to do,

Did you expect me to waste my time, on someone like you?

Outside the sun is bright, what a beautiful Easter day,

Yet inside my joy is false, I feel shame for my deceptive ways,

When you were hungry and in pain, I wasn’t there for you,

I was thinking just about myself, and all the things to do,

I cheated you by turning away, I should have listened with my heart,

Yesterday won’t come again, so I’m asking for a brand new start,

I really want to love others more, wherever they might be,

The best way that I know how, is to begin with you and me.

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