chronicle1909.com

Hi All:  This is the local newspaper for whom I write.  They are an amazing team of people making a community newspaper relevant.  The editor started rocking it when she came aboard and then a new owner has only infused it with more energy.  Have a look.  More to come.

“Be sure to visit chronicle1909.com – your best hyper-local news and information source in the southern Willamette Valley. It’s still “under construction,” but has lots of live content already.”

Looking Forward to the Fourth Day: Fear and Fate in the Time of Covid:19

ScanLooking Forward to the Fourth Day

In November of 1982, I was in the Bering Sea, working as a Biologist/Observer for the National Marine Fisheries Service and assigned to a Japanese Long Line vessel, The Ebisu Maru. The ship was 170’ long with a crew of twenty, fishing the Aleutian Islands for groundfish.   One thing you learn when fishing in the North Pacific and Bering Seas is that weather comes at you hard. You learn to ride out heavy weather that makes the worst day shown on The Deadliest Catch television show seem like a summer day on Dorena Reservoir.

This storm came from Siberia, we had daily weather maps and there was time to prepare. Typically, bad storms lasted three to four days, and unable to fish in heavy seas, the crew took to their bunks for a much-needed sleep.

Once the storm arrived, I spent the first day asleep with my legs braced against the bed rails so I wouldn’t fall from my bunk to the floor. This storm was unlike others I had experienced, steadily building in ferocity.

Beaufort_wind_scaleOne of my responsibilities was to take weather and sea condition readings every day at six o’clock. The ship’s bridge sat twenty feet above the waterline, and waves were crashing down that were twenty to thirty feet above that! For the first time in my life, I wrote down Beaufort 10, only two steps away from a hurricane. The waves swelling and subsiding around us were close to fifty feet, and the ship rose and fell in troughs and peaks. The sea and sky were indistinguishable.

Fear crept into my mind as sleep became more a way of shutting down than it was restful. I slept seventeen hours the first day, but when I could sleep no more, I went to the bridge. During storms, the captain and fishing master took the helm for six-hour turns.   The fishing master, who had fished and whaled in every ocean on the planet, calmly sat in the helmsmen’s chair,

Ebisu Maru Fishing Mastersinging in Japanese wearing a traditional fisherman’s bandana around his head. Each time a wave sent a harmonic vibration through the steel hull, the master looked to me and in broken English said, “My ship is strong!” If he was frightened, it didn’t show. I did not want to show my fear, so I put on a good face, but I thought I was going to die in the steel grey Bering Sea, north of the Aleutians Islands south of the Pribilof, Islands.

On the second day of the storm, I rested in bed while visualizing the welders as they had fabricated the hull of the vessel. I followed every seam as if counting stitches in a wound. Starting at the bow, I followed the seams to the stern. When that ended, I imagined there were Shachi (Japanese for Killer Whales) guarding the ship against danger.

It has long been lore that sailors may presage their death at sea, even accepting its inevitability. That may sound romantic, and it makes for a good tale, but at the moment when you confront death, if there is any choice in the matter, it never hurts to pray for your survival. I looked out of the porthole and said if I am to die here, so be it, but I didn’t want to die, and because of the calm of others and a deep mystical sense of my fate, I knew we would survive the storm. Full disclosure, I did a little bargaining by pledging that I would never go to sea again if I survived.

The storm continued.  On the fourth day, the ocean calmed, and soon we were fishing again.Scan 2

Three weeks later, I returned to Seattle, and except for a short sail between Newport and Reedsport, never far from land, I have honored my pledge. Though even on that short trip, I felt the fates weighing the fidelity of the promise once made.

 

 

Help Write The Greatest Elegy in the History of Pandemics. Take that Publius!

This is a public service message from your local community poet.  Stay home!

Now, back to our regular programming…

oviduoPublius Ovidius Naso: AKA Ovid

Publius Ovidius Naso, known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom he is often ranked as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature.

As the poet, Ovid once said

Here are the rules: any verse is okay, rhymes and meter optional, any language, add Your verse or verses as a comment and share with others and together we will write the Greatest Elegy in the History of Pandemics.  Take that Publius!

Elegy to The Coronavirus Pandemic

We’ve been to London and to France

But now we’re staying home

Not heading to a Sardinian dance

Cause now we’re staying home

What need have we of coffee out

For now we’re staying home

With so much risk and so much doubt

Oh yes,  we’re staying home

Who really needs a dinner out

Damn straight we’re staying home

Baseball and Olympic Flames

Not now, we’re staying home

We all will miss the precious games

Still now we’re staying home

it’s been announced that
the future is suspended
plans upended indefinitely

dreams postponed
being in the moment
is current “superior” mandate

involuntary enlightenment
if there ever was one
humorless oxymoron

how contrary it feels
to the world begotten
with a live shiny droplet

now a different particle
that escapes definition of life
works at cross-purpose

yet the universe will
deny it its nourishment
as we pray and hope sincerely…

 

A Precious Substance

gemstones_jewelry-tanzania-1200x900

We are in a precious moment of essential life

A global purification and concentration of creativity

Feel the wondrous light emanating

From the shared emotion

as we stand together on the edge

Don’t you feel alive!

 

(Hold this moment as you would any precious substance)

 

Caged Bird

 It was Dunbar who wrote the poem, Sympathy, which inspired

Maya Angelou to title her memoir,  I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. 

 

Sympathy

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
    When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
    When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—
I know what the caged bird feels!
I know why the caged bird beats his wing
    Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
    And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting—
I know why he beats his wing!
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
    When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
    But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings!
Paul Laurence. Dunbar, ““Sympathy.”” from The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, )

Savor These Moments

Good Morning World.

The river that connects us all is flowing deeply through my sub-conscious.  Why else would I write at two in the morning?

I remember being a schoolchild, how excited it felt to awaken in the morning to a blanket of white powder and hear on the radio that school was closed!

A day of snowballs and snowmen was rich.

Yes, I understand this is different, but stepping outside into the crystal clear and cold air last night there was a panoply of glittering stars.  I took a deep breath, inviting the air into my lungs and savoring the feeling.  How sweet it is to feel human, to step away from the grinding machine of life in the modern world.

Each day, the red circles of Coronavirus clusters saturate the global map.  In a few weeks, the circles will disappear and all will be in red.

Some of us will take leave, most will not, and when the red fades the machine will slowly come back to life.

Savor these moments.  Savor———-these——–moments.

Breathe the air, drink water, stay warm, sleep, and join me on the river, exhaling the vapor of life above the flowing water.

 

 

Good morning world.  Here is one of my favorite poems.  It was not my first favorite poem but came early in that distinction when I was around thirteen.

I thought amidst all of this tension some beautiful words by Dylan Thomas  might be welcome.

 Fern Hill, by Dylan Thomas

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
     The night above the dingle starry,
          Time let me hail and climb
     Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
          Trail with daisies and barley
     Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
     In the sun that is young once only,
          Time let me play and be
     Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
          And the sabbath rang slowly
     In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
     And playing, lovely and watery
          And fire green as grass.
     And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
     Flying with the ricks, and the horses
          Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
     Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
          The sky gathered again
     And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
     Out of the whinnying green stable
          On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
     In the sun born over and over,
          I ran my heedless ways,
     My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
     Before the children green and golden
          Follow him out of grace,

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
     In the moon that is always rising,
          Nor that riding to sleep
     I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
          Time held me green and dying
     Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

A Cosmic Protective Embrace

I wrote this for my daughter but think she won’t mind if I share it with others. She is tirelessly working to protect the health of the people she works for in Dallas, Texas-that is all the people of Dallas, and Texas, and all of us.

I’m throwing my embrace around you in a massive cosmic way to keep you safe from anything.

Notes From The Pandemic

These words are not anything more than thoughts evaporating into space.

Fate plays its hand when we take our eye off the ball. On a planet with between seven billion people, a crisis happens every day. It only feels real when it touches us. Today, it is real.

Many thought the horror of WW1-The War to End All Wars would unify the world and bring us to a more harmonious place (it did not). Robert Oppenheimer thought the destructive implications of nuclear weapons would arouse a spirit of shared horror and bring the world together (it did not).

Neither did we come together when we saw the moon from outer space, nor have we become of one mind from witnessing mass animal extinctions, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, tsunamis, global warming, destructive hurricanes, genocides, fires, droughts, deluge, or pandemics.

We are fragile little creatures no different than any other.

We react better than we plan. We grieve better than we prevent grief. We may have rational faculties but we seldom deploy collective rationality before a crisis. We are what we are.

Bus drivers in Mexico like to surround themselves with talismans and plaques with thoughtful sayings. One read, “God is my boss, but I do the driving.”

Before Super Bowl XII, both teams had self-professed “Born Again” quarterbacks. For The Denver Broncos, Craig Morton, and for the Dallas Cowboys, Roger Staubach. In a television interview with both men before the game, a reporter asked who would win. Morton answered, “If God wants it, Denver will.” Staubach replied, “I think God wants us to win.”*

Take the reins of your life. Take care of yourselves and the people you love and the others who need your support.

This too shall pass.

*Cowboys won: 27:10.

Today

-I called an older friend to be sure he was staying in and that he had enough food. He reported back that he had stocked up on wine.
-No sneezes or coughs.
-I heard one person cough at Costco, fifty feet away from me. I abandoned my cart for a few minutes and washed my hands for thirty seconds. Good soap at Costco and air dryers. All the employees wore gloves but there were no pepperoncini. Checkout lines were long and the chicken cases were empty but the beef cases were full. Salsa was cheap. The hot dog and pizza stand was overflowing and the seating area was packed like sardines. I’m done with stores until things settle.
-Dug a fence post hole and am eager to start the garden
-Washed my hands five times today for at least thirty seconds each time.
-Hugged one person over fifty. Living dangerously!
-I believe I touched my face a few times but only after washing my hands.