Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winter Souls

free verse poetry; copyright 2012

Cover blurbs:

“Do you have an inkling what a treasure you can be . . .” – Hank Beaukema

This made me cry. The good kind; the hard kind.” – Tiffany Shea

All my life I've tried to surround myself with only the best art and artists . . .” – Rick Yost

“Subtle and spare, yet richly textured. Startlingly original. Perhaps my favorite living poet.” – Elizabeth Burnam

“Simply beautiful. Elegant.” – Lori Darley

“ . . . wry wit / random insights / and vision.” – Sarah Clarke


I am mercy now

I am mercy now,

settled in my own mind


behind the red mask,

eyes wide open

where the ordinary had been,

I mock blind chaos


I am immersed in wonder

beyond cloaks and sturdy walls,

beyond the grace of the playful creek,

beyond the murmurs of the mountains

and the mocking memory of pains


I hear the welcome music of echoes,

the scarce, longing tolls of bells

as once-shattered answers

fill the emptiness of questions


no longer satisfied

with only half a joy,

we share a simple smile, and again


swirling naked in the once-abyss,

two souls fit into one body

beyond the band of twilight’s purple sky

as laughter shatters the moment,

puts it back together, sparkling

Saturday, August 18, 2012

When the Beauty of the Dancer

free verse poetry; copyright 2012

cover art by Deanna Adams

Cover blurbs:

“. . . exquisite and poignant.” – Cathy Gould

 “ . . . wry wit, random insights, and vision.” – Sarah Clarke

“. . . master of all things beautiful, written, visual, aural & of the heart . . . It makes me see & feel in ways I never have before.” – Elizabeth Burnam

“Your writing is poetic, philosophical, down to earth, visual, and interesting.” – Derrick White

“. . . such a creative genius it’s scary.” – Carol Wilcox

 “ . . . it brings me to feel these things, even if I didn’t want to.” – Russell Laird

“. . . this collection is pretty amazing.” – Terri Hendrix

“Ah, your poetry is dangerous and delicious. It’s amazing to me how one vessel can contain so much truth and raw beauty without going mad.” – Tina Marzola


when the beauty of the dancer
overpowers the beauty of the dance
during the decimation of the world,
when we no longer find beauty in the small,
when there is no mirror, nor even

a reflection in the oily rainbow of a pool,
when depression blows like a clinging wind,
when she lost her youth for an edgier sadness
to fit in so neatly into expected roles,

when a desperate man buries the last fact in sand
hoping to grow wisdom
while everybody else lies in bed,
bellies full of booze and pills
as they drift coma-like
through swatches of memories but no one sleeps
well enough to dream,

frequent short hard showers will stir the dust
of the dance during the decimation of the world . . .

I Love the Woman Who Lights the Stars Each Night

free verse poetry; copyright 2012

cover art by Joshua Richardson Kight

Cover blurbs:

“This collection is pretty amazing . . . Your words sing.” – Terri Hendrix

“I love the courage and kindness of your poetry, its honesty that’s dark yet leaves the road open for hope . . . You do know they’ll be teaching classes about you as a poet some day, don’t you?”– Elizabeth Burnam

“A trove of gems. They don’t reveal themselves all at once, and they suggest more than they reveal. You will want to keep it close by awhile, a collection to ponder and marvel over, each visit inviting another return.”– Richard Dobson

“I love your perspective. Of the earth, of human beings, of universal consciousness.” – Tiffany Shea

“Your poetry crashes me like a computer.” – Amanda Shires

“Vivid and fresh.” – J.P. Schwartz

“Your poetry is so thought provoking for me; so much depth.” – Chris Brittingham


when I think
of you, is it first
of your breasts
warm in my hands,
of the gentle curves
of your hips,
of your princess face
pretty and peaceful
(of the distant sadness
sometimes in your eyes)

this is what
I really mean:
I hunger
to journey with you,

I thirst
for the sweet water
from your deepest wells,

I wait for you
in a field of thorny roses,
often I slip through
the guarded gates
of your emotions

to walk with you
on moonlit nights
in the sea mist
along the rocky shores
of life

Seemingly Discontinuous Ramblings

short musings; copyright 2012

Cover blurbs:

“You distill joy & pain, light & dark, & hope into such powerful images & thoughts. I was moved to tears at the beauty of your writing. Everything you write makes me think, but these poems help me feel in a new way. – Elizabeth Burnam

“These books are masterpieces.” – Terri Hendrix

“. . . your book is brilliant.” – Glenn Bowie

“Mesmerizing . . . I was impressed that so much can be said in so few words.” – Shirley Elliott Cosby

“. . . makes me think he is the modern day Mark Twain.” – Margaret Eldridge

“Exquisite and poignant.” – Cathy Gould

“From the moment I opened your book, I wanted to touch and taste the words . . . palpable and delicious.” – Valerie Ann Tuttle


The old man woke up weak, weaker than usual, a bit overwhelmed by the bright of the sunlight coming through the window glass.

He knew that, if he spoke, his few words would be soft and slurred. By late morning, he thought he saw blackbirds gathering in the room – on the upright piano, on the radio, on the back of his worn, favorite chair.

By mid afternoon, still in bed, he thought he heard them begin to speak.

He thought he heard one ask, “Hasn’t he lived the best possible life?”

And one reply, “Yes, he has. In many ways, enviable.”

“He has loved and been loved.”

“But he has outlived them all.”

“All but one.”

“She was the most important of them all.”

“He hasn’t outlived his memories.”

“He’s tried to leave many of them behind.”

“Yes, many are lost.”

“All but a few.”

“He is tired.”

“Weary to the bone.”

“Is it time?”

He speaks for the first time that day, trying to tell them he’ll wait for those from his childhood who are coming.

For She Was Once the Thief of Time

a novel for the 21st century, exploring two people together; copyright 2010

Cover blurbs:

“Lyrical. Wise. Textured. Images that are so beautiful they almost hurt . . . Your name will become classic and set new standards and perspectives about how to view the world and express them. “ – Elizabeth Burnam

“These books are masterpieces . . . Your words sing.” – Terri Hendrix

“They don’t reveal themselves all at once, and they suggest more than they reveal. A trove of gems.” – Richard Dobson

“Ah, your poetry is dangerous and delicious. It’s amazing to me how one vessel can contain so much truth and raw beauty without going mad.” – Tina Marzola

“Your writing comes across as almost effortless. You definitely have the gift.” – Marc Durbin

“Vivid and fresh.” – J.P. Schwartz

“I love your perspective of the earth, of human beings, of universal consciousness.” – Tiffany Shea


A city. Like all the others that remain. Bricks. Stone. Glass, most of it broken back toward sand.

A high-ceiling, 30-foot building is almost lost in the dozens of other ones almost like it.

Dust motes flood in shafts of light from high windows; the light illuminates wooden shelf after wooden shelf -- many of them as worn as the city outside – floor to ceiling around the tall walls. Precious volumes of books are stacked on the worn shelves, most of them neglected like centuries of prayers. These certainly aren’t the only books that still exist, but they are the largest known collection.

Footsteps echo on the rough stone floor, even the rustle of garments from the visitors who, from time to time, bring single books or small bundles to leave. Old wisdoms are often unspoken, the words often misunderstood like once-lovers avoiding one another.

The librarian has only the vaguest knowledge of the collection. He is old, half blind. He sometimes feels the joy in the words as they slowly float through the air and gently nudge him into other times and places.

What Texas Music Really Is

selected music columns from Buddy Magazine; copyright 2009

Cover blurbs:

“Very good listener and very perceptive. I wish there were more like you.” – Lloyd Maines

“Yours is a voice that at times reaches out gently and turns my face back around to where I should be looking. Thank you for that.” - Nathan Hamilton

“I really, really appreciate the careful consideration and thoughtfulness you put into your writing. It’s refreshing to read an articulate perspective and response to the music, as opposed to just a regurgitation of press materials. Yours is the kind of writing that I used to soak up when I was teenager, and would send me running to the store to explore that music on my own. So thanks for maintaining a real voice. – Danny Schmidt

“You are one of the best advocates we have, and I thank you for your non-materialism, your selfless patronage of the arts . . .”- Jeanie Perkins

“I love the way your mind works, your interpretation of life, and the way you communicate your perspective.” - Tiffany Shea

“His knowledge of music and the music business is astounding , , ,  a real professional and intellectual.” – Michael “Rockzilla” Johnson

“ . . . Eudora Welty of Texas music.” - Candance Robison

“I’m just drunk enough to tell you that you’re my most-admired person in Texas music.” – anonymous


Black dirt mixed with sweat fills the tiny cuts on your fingers. Your back aches without release in the cotton fields, where the rows are long and dusty and the first blues notes danced in the heat.

In the old mountains where Celtic music began to become American music, vague feelings of isolation and inevitability danced with the changing of the seasons.

In the dark of a long night lit by the moon through an open window, and perhaps in the one-room church on a Sunday morning, we danced with one another and we prayed for imaginary sins to be forgiven.

These were among the kinds of spiritual places where people created the roots of our best music. Good music comes from many places, but these are the places that call me tonight. In the landscapes and in the yearnings of the Celtic and African peoples who could lost themselves – and find themselves again – in the soundscapes that are, at the same time, as simple and complicated as the at-once real and mythical South. It is easy to write that most of this nation’s most meaningful art – including music – has risen from the fundamentalist South. It is easy to write that this art is most often dearly personal.

The acoustic blues, as a musical form, comes from the country. The blues got a little more complicated, a little less clean, in the city. So did the kind of country-folk music I invoke here, although in its revival today it is, perhaps, less of a novelty than acoustic blues.

Neither kind of music is, by today’s cynical standards, sophisticated. Which isn’t a problem for people with open minds.

Listen to the stories in the acoustic guitar from the cotton field style. Perhaps Lightnin’ Hopkins on Blues in My Bottle, or Blind Willie Johnson on the older “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground.”

Listen to the stories in the fiddle (sometimes called the devil’s instrument, because it’s so hard to master) from the mountains. Perhaps Stuart Duncan on Dolly Parton’s “Little Sparrow” or “Mountain Angel.” Or to any number of Texas players.

Listen to the layers of complexity filtered through the Gospel of Sin and Redemption.

And listen to the unsophisticated voices sharing deep passions: Parton’s sweet vulnerability and Hopkins’ raw perseverance, among many examples.

There can be a kinship of the guitar and the fiddle, played the way they can be played, and of the voices of our most soulful singers. It is a kinship -–a union of meaning, if not blood – that asks more questions than we can ever answer. And it is the questions that move us, that make us dance. Answers too often urge us to stand still.

It is the questions that move us.

Let me write it one more time: It is the questions that move us. We may see movement, just for a moment, as our own spiritual seeking, a search for purpose or validation. For a place to belong. It is a popular pastime again today. And it is, perhaps, nothing more, nor less, than seeking the truest stories of our own lives in the strangest of lands: Song, Inspiration, What Was, Love, Joy and Pleasure, Meditation, Tragedy, Memory, Subjectivity, Comedy, Fate, and Dance.

These are the dozen provinces of the classical muses, whose roads we travel when we listen to meaningful music. We journey long, and come to a crossroad from time to time, where the devil lurks in a ramshackle tavern hoping to buy another soul. We ply him with drinks and play him one sad song after another on the jukebox, and wish him well as he nods, momentarily, and we waltz out the door.

The best music is direct and uncluttered, from the heart. No more complicated than it must be to keep one foot moving ahead of the other.

Ultimately, as we leave the devil nodding at the bar, we realize that the blues and the folk side of country music are the music of optimism.

The blues dance in the heat.

Isolation and inevitability dance with the changing of the seasons.

We dance with one another in the dark of a long night, even when we are apart.

It is the lyric – our limited language – which sometimes turns music into poetry. And it is poetry that tries best, and almost always fails, to put into words the way we feel.

Love and Masks and Ghosts

essays from the trailer trash years; copyright 2009

 Cover blurbs:

 “ . . . an iconoclastic creative thinker in a world of derivatives.” ¾  Mark Hughey

 “. . . writes like he’s breaking out of jail.” ¾ Ray Wylie Hubbard

 “ . . . a complete artist with his use of language.” ¾ Terri Hendrix

 “In an age where we are trying to run from the heart. You run toward it brave.” ¾ Gayle Bell

 “I guess the word I was looking for is ‘evocative.’ As I read what you have written there is the suggestion of (understated) significance. It stays with me.” ¾ James Michael Taylor

  “ . . . spending hours with my nose in your writings (studying, analyzing, digesting) . . . what an amazing teacher you are to me.” ¾  Tiffany Shea


Less than a mile from where I find myself, between my new home and the cemetery where all of my grandparents are buried, the Neches River begins its 416-mile history. The Neches comes up from deep in the ground to wander through Guthrie’s pastures of plenty, through loblolly, post oak, dogwood, pecan, and more -- nurturing all of its life like a minor deity.

Down river, the land flattens into virulent swamp, the Neches lazes around cypress and Madonna trees. Birds and bullfrogs sing, water lilies dance with 'gators while a woodpecker goes on one of his drumming sprees.

The Neches finds its own cemetery in the Gulf of Mexico (where its spirit merges with the world’s seas and oceans). It loses its self in the evidence of mankind’s exploitation born in the belief of divine rights and in greedy notions.

Water flows, and people pass into the earth.

The Clovis culture was here; it passed; the Caddo culture was here; it passed. The Spanish, with their missions, couldn’t hold the land. The white man spewed pollution for what he amassed. The pirates de Aury and Lafitte soiled the Neches; slave smuggling became part of the lower river's dread. Logging upriver, rice down; the Spindletop oil boom, cities built of ammonia, phenol, sulfides, zinc, and lead.

Water flows, and people pass into the earth.

The Neches and its land challenge the empty places in the human soul. Blues flourished here, an odd expression of hope; mountain sounds, too, calling love a “wounded heart.” My people came across the South from Cape Fear to harvest from the land, to live and die in this place, to learn that time becomes melody as much as rhythm near where the Neches begins its journey to disappear.

Water flows, and people pass into the earth.

Near where the Neches begins, I see light cling along the horizon at sunset. I see moon’s eclipse the color of dried blood. I see a willow dance. I see stars wink without regret.

Water flows, and people pass into the earth.

Less than a mile from where I find myself, ghosts claim that water coming up from the ground is the cold, collected tears of the dead. I say the sweet, first taste of that clean water, as you bend to reach it, is closer joy. It is as close to first water, as close to pure, as we'll ever find anymore.

Water flows, and people pass into the earth.
He Dreamed Fragments

short fiction collected from limited edition chapbooks; copyright 2009

Cover blurbs:

“. . .  always thoughtful/beautiful/disturbing in the best possible way.” – Sarah Lynn Fisher

“You meticulously splash bold red hues throughout a seemingly transparent, fragile piece . . . never seeming to allow the bold to overtake or even bleed into the pristine thought patterns you are weaving.” – Tina Marzola

“. . . I enjoy your writing more than any other contemporary writer.” – Dana Jones

“You have such an incredible mind. Thanks for always sharing it.” – Kym Webster

“. . . a beautiful soul who writes beautifully . . .” – Susan Gibson

“There is no place anyone can go to learn to write like that. It is something that seems to rise more or less effortlessly out of the depths of one’s soul but, at the same time, finds a way to devour it.” – Joe Parsons


The two of us come upon a statue of limitations along the side of the road, discussing buried pleasures with the grim weeper softly enough to wake the dread. So softly, silently, that we can’t hear them as we walk by, shivering, the smell of regret heavy in the air.

“We have seen bitter days,” one says. “We’ve seen the stuff that screams are made of.”

“We have been convicted of high crimes of reason,” the other says. “Of the joy of forgasm.”

“We have also, regrettably, committed crimes of ration.”

“We have seen the cold heart facts.”

“We know that furiousity killed the cat.”

“We have gone to the inane asylum, and heard the intellectual simulation. We have heard great expectorations.”

“We have heard cheap trills and actual sighs.”

“We know that the meek shall inherit the dearth, and that too often it’s binders keepers.”

“We have drunk from the primal stream.”

“We have seen a simple twist of faith, and taken it for granite.”

“We have seen paradise tossed.”

“We have heard glibberish, and seen the irreal.”

“But, I swear on a stack of baubles, we are spinning too much time on this rite to remain silent.”

“Dust will yet conquer us.”

“That’s an extinct possibility.”

“May we rust in peace.”

Nothing but the wind blowing . . .

Stolen Lies

free verse poetry collected from limited edition chapbooks; copyright 2009

Cover blurbs:

“These are poems I will read again and again. You rekindled my love of poetry . . . ” – Jory Sherman

“Tom Geddie’s poetry falls somewhere between Wallace Stevens’ subtle layers of thoughtfulness and the blunt, brutal grit of Bukowski.” – Nathan Hamilton

“Good poetry knocks us out of our conditioned rut. Tom’s work does that.” – Jim Bush

“It strikes me as jazz-like with all its freedom and expression and passion and rhythm – both on the beat and off.” – Lynn Adler

“Your writing reminds me of Richard Brautigan’s. Just beautiful stuff that moves us beyond this earth.” – Jeanie Perkins

“Your words are so good I can taste them!” – Linda Ayers, author, The Time Bridge Travelers


a pale, black-haired girl

little breasts just beginning to grow

secure, simple in her goodness

she hugged everybody gently

in the small, airy sanctuary,

and smiled

and led the younger kids away

as the wind, blowing,

exposed the crescent moon

tattooed on the slender neck’s nape

until the long black hair

fell back into place

a place of ritual, clinging faith

where the tall young preacher

seems so sincere and insecure –

a believer with a dwindling congregation

in an age of selfish expectations

meanwhile, along the mirrored wall of a bar,

5 kinds of canned laughter, foamy,

full-bodied and sweating condensation

cheap whiskey,

jug wine by the glass,

exotic, over-priced drinks with faraway notions

the man is perked up by an old idea;

(odd tattoos and body piercings

and mask          deep, deathless eyes)

his hand feels her slender waist,

caresses the small of her back

before she walks away, crescent moon on nape

“What’ll it be?” the waiter asks

“Oh, well,” the man thinks,

“they tell me it’s only a matter of rhyme.

But tonight, I think, I am

harmed and dangerous.”

this congregation is too big and noisy,

and he walks outside, into a moon so close

he feels its pull

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dreaming With Beauty

The first morning of the zero years began, for me, driving back to Dallas from San Antonio where I spent New Year’s Eve 1999 at the funky old Cibolo Creek Country Club listening to the music and some of the hopes of Terri Hendrix, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Lloyd Maines, and friends. A bagpiper in full regalia took the stage to summon the decade with his squalling, somehow still beautiful sound; the essence of high lonesome

On the morning of Jan. 1, 2000, I began driving home, slowly, in a fog so densely white that I couldn’t see 30 feet ahead on the highway. I didn’t hit or kill anybody, I supposed because everybody else had enough sense to stay off the streets until that fog dissipated.

I heard the piper again, and touched the knee of dark-eyed, emerging Beauty, who tried to sleep, warm under my coat, in the seat beside me.

I pulled the car to the side of the road. We got out and walked toward the music, finding ourselves on a path under a canopy of gnarled apricot trees, green, heart-shaped leaves slowly dripping moisture.

Eventually, almost but not quite timelessly, it seemed, the fog lifted, and we came to a clearing and saw the entrance to a traveling circus. The ticketmaster collected money from a lengthening line of people who slowly approached in ones and twos and small groups from the surrounding forest. He looked at Beauty for a moment, and waved us into the rhythmic sounds of mechanical rides, the murmurs of voices, and the shuffling of feet on hard ground.

Hand in hand, two damaged souls, we walked past the waking fun into the nightmare lane of sideshows and barkers.

We heard the voices of the people around us, the thoughts, we saw some of the images, felt some of the fears and hopes, like magnets, as we passed close in the growing crowd, almost touching the people’s faces covered with other people’s ashes. We heard bits and pieces of thoughts: . . . “two planes hitting buildings in New York” . . . “helplessness and hopelessness of Katrina” . . . “the world just changed forever” . . . “my mother passing away” . . . “an old and suffering horse named Is being shot in the forehead with a rifle outside of Oslo, collapsing with a thump to the ground, shit and piss flowing from its dead body for minutes afterward” . . . “cicadas buzzing and fireflies dancing” . . . “dear friends sharing the afterglow” . . . “losing my best friend” . . . “birth of my granddaughter” . . . “Steven Fromholz performing ‘Texas Trilogy’” . . . “listening to Brian Burns’ American Junkyard” . . . “a morning in East Texas, traveling with a new friend, seeing a big yellow junction sign saying ‘church’ before the rains came down so heavily the wipers couldn’t compete” . . . “a roadside café’s light glowing, and inside four people who looked like they’d been sitting in the exact same chairs for 30 years” . . . “the hope during Barack Obama’s inauguration” . . . “driving back to Minnesota from Nashville in a storm I later found out was a tornado, with all my earthly possessions, heading to a house I'd never seen but bought anyway” . . . “the first time I saw a bald eagle circling the river very low so I could see his markings” . . . “standing out in the middle of the blackest night gazing up at the Perseid Meteor showers” . . . “finding my husband laying on the floor unconscious in the kitchen with his head split open, laying in a large pool of blood” . . . “the ugliness of a used car lot that went on for acres, maybe miles” . . . “the sight of my son sitting a horse like he was born to the saddle” . . . “a U.S. soldier running while on fire in Iraq” . . . “the home movie of the birth of my twins” . . . “seeing my wife alive for the last time” . . . “the brightness of a full moon atop Enchanted Rock when I wasn’t supposed to be there” . . . “learning my own life is very finite and how to savor every moment” ...
Reality became conditional or quantum.

We heard the barkers in their shiny suits, urging us all to come through their curtains, to pay to hear their truths: . . . “don’t believe science; Earth is only 6,000 years old” . . . “the people in New Orleans got what they deserved for living in that sewer” . . . “hate in the name of god” . . .“mission accomplished” . . . “just stall and say no to everything” . . . “deny it long enough and loud enough” . . . “lie for the truth” . . . “death panels are real” . . .

Beauty and I stopped near the end of the nightmare lane and hugged one another, feeling the texture of consciousness.

Among the best of the humanity around us, we also felt the residue of too many lives led in a continually narrowing funnel rather than in the blossoming of flowers. In a society that’s too often more comfortable dealing with the trivial than what matters, we heard intellectual Luddites rail against artists, teachers, and intellectuals. We felt the pains of America coming to terms with its place in the world, not yet ready to shed its sense of privilege nor ready to reclaim its best ideals. We wondered, does dignity rest in peace? We wondered, are our lives written in neon, to be lived in a circus?

Winter becomes a cold time to survive, dreams polished by soft, warm blankets, the hours of darkness slowly warmed by the idea of sun’s heat in spring. I lay with Beauty; her warmth and her slow, steady breathing in sleep comfort me under the full blue moon as we dream of distant possibilities of the next 10 years.
Hudnall Planetarium, Tyler Texas
21 November 2009

I’ve been
to Venus
and to Mars

I know
several of the stars

I’ve been
east of Jupiter,
and I’ve seen Fate

on two fists,
I count the people I hate

the spoon feeds me
the moon touches me
the loon sings for me –
its song all night long
willing souls to the heavens

Reality intrudes. Venus is a small town south of Dallas. Mars was an even smaller town between Ben Wheeler and Murchison. Fate is a small town in Northeast Texas. Jupiter is a street in Dallas; just east of it is the Lone Star Café where I used to eat nachos and listen to music.

U.S. poet laureate – or just past – Charles Simic doesn’t separate the serious from the comic in his writing. Tonight, I won’t separate myth from fact from fantasy – in hopes of making them all more interesting.

Robert Coover refers to the notion of art as speech, as discourse with time. Philip Booth refers to time as the apple Adam ate.

miles beyond the crossroads,
spirit comes to the edge of time:
rubble of forgotten civilizations
shifts, beginning to slide over the edge,

endless falls of dirty water
begin to sparkle like faraway stars

exposed roots of old trees,
persistent wind pushing
sudden, brief calmness

verge of vastness twilit
into darkness disturbed

gravity begins to fail

you begin to feel levitation
like, perhaps, a balloon
on the verge of flight or fall,
its string a history of the years

wind swirls,
pushes and pulls

time collapses
in the gravity of a new planet
with huge skull-shaped moons

when the universe exploded,
time felt useless and lonely, and remained
like a sadness forever
expressed in the silence
between two clean, high piano notes
in a star-lit desert night

If we are truly human, we want to know the unknown. We simultaneously go inside to explore ourselves and reach out to explore the universe. Psychologist-educator Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s ("chick-sent-me-high-ee") contends that the bigger the world we inhabit, the closer we come to truth. Substitute “universe” for “world.”

Novelist-poet Jim Harrison said “The dark side of the moon is merely dark and cold, and Jupiter and Saturn only distant flecks of brain hurled out before time was.”

Loren Eiseley wrote of the need for “the contemplative naturalist, a man who, in a less frenzied era, had time to observe, to speculate, and to dream.” As a child, Eiseley watched Halley’s Comet cross Earth’s sky, and began to appreciate the profound sense of time and space he wrote of in his essay collection “The Invisible Pyramid” – first published shortly after Americans landed on the moon. He explores inner and outer space and the so-called limits of what can be known. He said man would not be man if his dreams did not exceed his grasp. “If I dream by contrast of the eventual drift of the star voyagers through the dilated time of the universe, it is because I have seen thistledown off to new worlds and am at heart a voyager who, in this modern time, still yearns for the lost country of his birth.”

Eve stared at the yellow-orange light, reflected from the moon, looking many times larger than usual, through the nearly bare fall branches of tall sweet gum trees. Each time she swayed to the left or the right, the trees’ limbs made the light almost seem, with a little imagination, to move like a flame. It looked like a fireball on the horizon. She never saw anything like that before. It was beautiful and delicate and, in some way, frightening in its oddness.

Eve wondered.

A serpent glided across the soundless path of moonlight on the ground, paused beside a fallen tree turning soft under lichen and mushrooms. Nearby, a stream of green water waited as still and quiet as the serpent.

High above, gods gathered to watch through pinholes of stars. The sky was crowded with stars. The air was already cold.

the ghost of a sun
on an overcast day

we imagine a museum of light
far into the future, dark Earth
where pale creatures pay
the price of admission to seek
their own reflections

you come to me, timid for a moment,
so you may be worshipped
as you begin to learn your own power

something dead or dying is caught
in an invisible web;
(something moving,
or blown by the breeze)
the glisten is all
we see of the web in the ghost of a sun,
and something dead or dying caught

land at the end of time,
property at the pulse of eternity,

the man who never
touched his own future
wandered, wondered
in the never forest
on the shore of the once lake,
dry to its white, white bones

the man thirsts
for his own presence

On some nights in the city, the clouds are thick above, and lightning moves from horizon to horizon without rain. On such nights, the man usually stands at the window for hours, feeling as much as seeing and hearing the synapses.
The air almost lives. It feels fresh with potential and excitement.
Pendrift wonders how something – a moment or gesture, a trauma, or a joyous act – becomes mythology. He has distinct memories of several times, as a child, though he does not believe these memories, levitating into a clear, light blue sky from the ground of the first home he remembers. The sky was almost translucent, with a few small, white clouds as he willed himself a little higher, higher still until he could look down on the glitter in the roof’s shingles, as he willed himself even higher until he began to wonder whether, if he went too high, he would ever return.
Now, as the lightning moves in the sky, as he moves “backward over the cemetery of spent hours,” as Italo Calvino wrote, the man wonders about the quality of memory and mythology: creating and living with personal mythologies, embracing, letting go, something in between.
Blood, sweat, and years, he thinks to himself, smiling quietly at the wordplay, perhaps clichéd.
The classic mythological themes cross many cultures; our academics showed us that. The man moves away from the window to a table near his desk, searching cluttered stacks of paper until he finds the Sherrington quote: “The brain is an enchanted loom, weaving a dissolving pattern, always a meaningful pattern, though never an abiding one, a shifting harmony of sub-patterns.”
Without memory, Pendrift thinks, can there be meaning? Are personal mythologies just memories that we believe? Is every personal mythology a mask?
Taste: a long, slow, full swallow of life.
Pendrift remembers walking in the ruins of ancient civilizations, and hearing the silence.
He remembers watching a lone Monarch butterfly on its ancestral flight to find warmth.
He remembers floating through a hotel lobby on the shoulders of jubilant friends.
He remembers the solitary lull of a desert’s heat.
He remembers wild horses, alert and free, along the Rio Grande.
He remembers watching a castle burn, and smelling gunpowder in the air.
He remembers pausing in old forests, and listening to trickles of shallow water over smooth stones.
He remembers losing himself, and coming back again, in the songs of some of the world’s best musicians.
He remembers perfect moments of timeless love.
He remembers that, from time to time, he inspired people to visit their own creative places.
He thinks briefly of peace with a long-gone woman, of her invitation to stay forever in her quiet apartment with gentle sunlight reflecting off dust in the air. He thinks of slumbering drunkenly with another woman. He thinks of the angel who once called him, talking but not making sense, then taking a deep breath and blurting to him, “I’m losing it. I don’t think I can fly anymore.”
Journey, not sitting still, at least for long, is one of the greatest of all personal myths. Whether we walk or fly, the trip we take is to be in harmony with the universe, or at least with ourselves. And passage; brief moments of death and resurrection rituals. Death, when we sit still for too long; resurrection when we begin to move again. These are rites of passage.
The thoughts of peace, of drunken slumber, of answering a call for help – these are part of Pendrift’s personal mythologies. (Myths are not true; mythologies are.) Each is intoxicating.
Long ago, quiet beauty, the taste of sweat and salt and “love,” walking away from the perfect invitation is a distant form of purity when it’s real and it’s gone.
Not so long ago, the several times he drank too much wine – or just enough – with the crazy woman he loved almost as much as any of the others, and they always fell asleep under the heavy blanket like twins in a womb, until one of them woke, startled by the other side of distance, a woman called Distance, the sense of distance, the feel of distance – vast, hollow, more grey than dark.
A timeless moment, still, of caring, of the angel (whatever that word means or doesn’t) who came to him for help when she needed it. The man thinks of creation as nurturing—what the taste of creation would be. He realizes that moments of creation are as close as we come to immortality.
Pendrift stands at the window. The lightning is gone. There is only a hint of the moon in the moving clouds. The moon is barren and distant; its pull is unmistakable.

The moon. It lures us beyond its reality.

Many years ago, English laborer Charles Hyde was acquitted on murder charges on the grounds that he was under the spell of the full moon.
The Greek king Lycaon was transformed into a wolf for playing an ill-conceived trick on Zeus. So, with many cultures’ legends and with Hollywood’s help, we get werewolves, appearing at the full moon.
The moon is, traditionally, the most visible symbol of feminine energy in our solar system.
Of the moon, Sylvia Plath wrote, “This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary.”


from sky, holding it
carefully so it won’t break,

puts moon into mouth;
moon tastes of expectations

silhouette of blackbird moves silently, unseen,
between man and place where moon was

light from long-gone stars
illuminates Earth
on harshest of February night:
snow on ice,
hardship and

the moon smiles

its mouth widens
into a surprised “oh”

as it watches us catch the thunder every night for a month and
put it in a jar of lightning bugs
to hear them gasp at the deep,
bone-jarring glory
of the boom

the moon,

at us all

the moon circles and slowly winks omens
that fall like hard rain
toward brittle Earth

while the bell
for the virgin who wanders

through fields of wishes
for all eternity

The yearning for “beyond” – for eternity – is another part of what makes us human. Myths supposedly help us understand ourselves. As many people have said, we can deny the actual science of myths and still appreciate their importance, their “power to free the human imagination, enabling us to envision new worlds, overcome old boundaries, and eventually move us all forward to a better understanding of ourselves and the universe around us.”
Most ancient cultures saw pictures in the stars. The lion, the bull, and the scorpion date back 6,000 years.
Homer referred to the Greek constellations in the Iliad in the 7th century B.C.: the creation of Achilleus’ shield by the craftsman god Hephaistos, showing the earth, and sky, sea, sun, and the moon waxing full, and all the constellations that “crown” the heavens.
By the 5th century B.C., most of the constellations came to be associated with myths of the gods who “serve” us, with no distinction between astronomy and mythology.
As everyone here knows, the planets have names from Roman mythology: Mercury, named for the speedy messenger god, revolves fastest around the sun; Venus, named for the goddess of love and beauty, shines most brightly; Mars, named for the god of war, appears blood-red; Jupiter, named for the single most important god, is the largest planet in our solar system. Even the names of the Galilean moons of Jupiter (the four largest, which may be seen with even a small telescope) are drawn from mythology. Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto were all desired – and taken by force – by Jupiter.

Galileo found a “new” planet in 1610 – Saturn with its beautiful and once-mysterious rings – Ringworld. Four hundred years later, not all of the mysteries have been solved.
Mythologically, Saturn has a bloody, gruesome past. Cronus was the ruling Titan who came to power by castrating his father, Uranus. To ensure his own safety Cronus ate each of his children as they were born – until his unhappy wife Rhea tricked him into swallowing a rock instead of his son Zeus. When he grew up, Zeus revolted against Cronus and the other Titans and banished them to the underworld. Cronus, though, escaped to Italy, where he ruled as Saturn. (The period of his rule was said to be a golden age on Earth, honored by the Saturnalia feast.)

Recently, NASA scientists discovered a nearly invisible ring around Saturn -- one so large that it would take one billion Earths to fill it. Its diameter is equivalent to 300 Saturns lined up side to side. The bulk of it starts about 3.7 million miles away from the planet and extends outward another 7.4 million miles. The ring is made up of ice and dust particles that are so far apart that if you were to stand in the ring, you wouldn’t even know it.

Which, in this modern, twisted world, might make the literary mind think of Purgatory.

The underworld. Purgatory.

Slow-moving clouds
cover one tip of the thinnest rind of a moon,
a silver-orange expression of otherness
in dark sky. It is night,
after all, and the moon appears almost empty.
This is purgatory.

We approach a gate
made of damned souls who fall on us
like thin veils in a swirling wind through an open window
to caress our bodies in a room still lit by candles.

. . . the slow whir of a ceiling fan,
the persistent restfulness of dust,
slow, regular breathing of lovers asleep, in dreams . . .

from the flickering candles:
scents of jasmine and lemon

more conjurer than carpenter
more smoke than substance
more hope than honey

We live
in a strange world
of beauty and fear

a strange world of beauty and fear
a strange world of beauty and fear

where what’s real
where what’s real
where what’s real

is often lost to us all
is not often enough
is not enough
is too much

where what’s real belongs
more to the conjurer
than to the carpenter
more to the smoke
than to the substance

a strange world
of beauty and fear

We are all, perhaps, as Joni Mitchell put it in her song “Woodstock,” stardust, walking along a road trying to reach a festival of music, to join a rock ‘n’ roll band and free our souls:

“We are stardustWe are goldenAnd we’ve got to get ourselvesBack to the garden.”

Billion year old carbon.

. . . a lace of stars across a wide, dark sky, cold as frost, as the poet leaks out like red blood on a sticky honky-tonk floor, odor of the hunt: “only one AK47 per household” patience learning and teaching looking people in the eye shallow creeks speaking in deep forests the Alps the ocean Twain & Tolkien Gray’s “Swimming to Cambodia” Tomlin/Wagner’s “Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe” Hillerman’s clean easy prose Straub’s ghost story Monty Python & Fawlty Towers Northern Exposure: the middle years Appalachian music done by people who understand it Townes Van Zandt’s “we all got holes to fill” Angela Carter’s “Nights at the Circus” compulsion sleepy sex before daylight still her presence hurts her absence more truth & surprise, occasional silliness unnatural blondes strong, huggable women slow gentle movement snow falling thank you. A woman dancing stops to watch her reflection in the mirror, but nothing is there.

The moon reflects, and is bitter above the wide desert borderland and the ribbon of a muddy river now guided by canyon walls. Light reflected by the moon echoes, becomes music. The desert cemetery in black and white: distant high clouds and low mountains . . . plastic flowers and rusty wire . . . chalky soil once stone . . . insects and snakes crawling in the heat . . . missing slats from picket fences . . . wooden crosses that would crumble at a touch . . . fading inscriptions and everything else that’s not there . . . the harmonies of wind, percussion of rare rain and footsteps, and beating of wings . . . the hollow taste of abstraction. Wind blows, dust rises; each mote a planet with entire histories of pagan civilization and gods, each moon a tiny shiver. He thinks to follow his passions through the rubble and the night, to lie down in bright moonlight on desert sand, to wait for the rattlesnake or the dawn

Walker Percy wrote that “small, disconnected facts, if you take note of them, have a way of becoming connected.”

The moment is what counts, not what leads up to it. Is that a lie? Yes. In a two-digit relational system, the zero – the unknown – is always implied in moonlight. We are strangers in the flight, in the lull of gravity, standing too close to reason and too far from instinct.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Human progress remains a struggle despite our tired, stumbling trot along the rutted road just out of reach of the torchbearers who would bludgeon us, would pull us to the ground and drag us backward in the darkness.

We are still on the early edge of human possibilities, like we are still in the Big Bang.

The September issue of Scientific American deals with origins of all sorts, telling us that our universe began with that big bang 13.7 billion years ago, expanding and cooling ever since, evolving from a formless soup of elementary particles “into the richly structured cosmos of today.” In the first microsecond, seeds formed that would become galaxies; dark matter, still unidentified, that holds it all together was created. The editors said the future of the universe “lies in the hands of dark energy.”

Before the big bang, there was nothing that we could identify as matter, energy, space, or time. From the dark ages to the modern era – most of that 13.7 billion years, we did not exist. On a 24-hour clock, we would live in the last second or so. Eventually, our Milky Way will collide with the Andromeda galaxy; from there, who knows – continued expansion or collapse, or, most poetically, the last stars burn out and the universe expands eternally. In between, sacs of water and RNA stimulated by heat and cold, more complex ribozymes that create chemical reactions that help protocells find nutrients, symbiotic relationships, DNA, and, billions of years later, us.

Along the way, we get light

We get life, which physicist Erwin Schrödinger once called the ability to “self-assemble against nature’s tendency toward disorder, or entropy” and chemist Gerald Joyce called “a self-sustaining chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution.”

Only 35,000 or so years ago, we made music and other art, which Scientific American’s editors said indicates we were thinking symbolically by then. Our minds are different from other animals’ minds in four ways, they said: 1) generative computation, which allows us to create “a virtually limitless variety of words, concepts, and things;” 2) promiscuous combining of ideas, which “allows the mingling of different domains of knowledge – such as art, sex, space, causality, and friendship – thereby generating new laws, social relationships, and technologies;” 3) the ability to use mental symbols that “encode sensory experiences both real and imaging, forming the basis of a rich and complex system of communication;” and 4) the ability to think abstractly, which “permits contemplation of things beyond what we can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell.”

We get “the ability to infer the presence of others,” and we create narratives “to make sense of what may be a disconnected jumble of events.”

We get bitter chocolate, which pre-Columbian cultures offered to the gods.

We get clocks, designed to tell us what time it is, even though Einstein’s theory of general relativity says time has no objective meaning.

We get marketing, which sells diamonds by convincing us that they are “the only acceptable symbol of everlasting love.”

We wonder about rainbows. And romantic love.

Paranoid, we look for “meaningful patterns in random noise” and come to believe in conspiracies too complicated to exist.

We hope.

We get bursts of speed to race ahead of the torchbearers, to feel clean air cooling the sweat on our faces rather than the heat of the fire. We hope for the slow, colorful coming of dawn.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

CONTENT WARNING: If you are easily offended by political or cultural opinions other than your own, please do not read this eletter.

I Will Worry, I Suppose, But I Will Not Hate Nor Will I Fear
August 2009 email newsletter, Vol. 2, #006

I will not live in a shroud of fear. I will not wander in a cold night fog of rumors. I will live with some sort of hope. And trust.

Today, I photographed the dried husk of a locust clinging to a stick that my parents use to stir the ashes as their trash fire burns down.

Five minutes later, I photographed the pale, discarded skin of a snake dangling 10 feet or more above me in the fork of two large branches in a large shade tree. In the light breeze, the thin skin (discarded as the snake grew) moved slowly back and forth. While the husk seemed somehow otherworldly, the snake’s skin seemed eerie. I was uncomfortable; snakes, no matter what I “know” intellectually, stir two instincts in me: run, kill.

We have a president and a congress duly elected by the majority of voters. He and the voters who elected him give me hope that we can actually solve some of this nation’s cultural and political problems.

Some people genuinely agree with his policies. That’s fine.

Some people believe they will lose a lot of influence and money if his ideas succeed. Some people, for whatever reason or reasons including racism, simply hope he fails. Many of these people fail our country by twisting truth out of shape to improve their own chances of “winning.” Some tell big lies; too many people with real but culturally and politically unjustified fears believe the lies. Fear cripples us. Fear of anything “different” and fear of losing whatever we have, however great or small or real or imagined.

Are people who fear and people who hate (isn’t hatred a product of fear?) so much that they won’t accept a progressive nation really any closer to being “democratic,” with the lowercase d, than those people in so-called third-world countries who have feuded for centuries? This win-at-any-cost approach insults the democratic concept, and the very thought of civilization.

I, a white man, will not isolate myself from the world. I will be a part of the world, not in any big way, surely, but in simple daily acts.

Even if, some days, that act is just in remembering.

I remember, as a child in the Methodist church in the early 1950s, riding in a crowded car with other children and a couple of adults one Wednesday night to attend another church, and sitting in the car watching rain slowly fall through the halo of light from a streetlamp as one of the elders went inside the church. He came back and told us we couldn’t go in because the people in the church were black and “some of the parents” at our church might not like us going in.

Later, in the early 1960s, as an older teenager, some of us skipped church one morning and drove around, ending up outside another church, an older, well kept, white frame building where a black congregation sang familiar hymns. We parked, and listened to the singing come from the open windows until the people inside noticed us and began to stare and stir. Finally, I remembered that this was just a very few months after white men bombed a black church in Birmingham and killed, if I remember correctly, four little girls. I drove away, so that we would not cause any more discomfort.

As an adult in a late 1980s trip to Washington DC, I walked to a corner near the National mall early one evening to catch a cab. I wore a business suit; the black man standing on the corner was, perhaps, a little older than me. He wore a clean white t-shirt and clean, creased jean, and had stood there for at least as long as I could see him as I walked down the block. Several cabs passed. He looked at me, frustrated, and said, “I’ll bet you get a cab before I do.” I agreed with him. I raised my hand. A cab stopped. I stepped back, and gestured for him to take it.

Some days, the simply daily act is touchable. More often than not, it has nothing to do with race. It’s trying to help a young woman get off drugs, or helping publicize a fundraiser for a nonprofit that battles child abuse, or spending seven hours at a local high school talking with a graduating senior who’s had more than her share of problems, but who dreams of being a writer.

There are, potentially, more simple acts than there are people. We never know which ones will really make a difference in someone’s life, but some of them will.

Not long ago, I read a quotation by the often, and rightly in many ways, maligned Robert McNamara, a major architect of the U.S. war in Vietnam, who said, “All the evidence of history suggests that man is indeed a rational animal but with a near infinite capacity for folly . . . In the end he plugs away obstinately with the only building material really ever at hand: his own part-comic, part-tragic, part-cussed but part-glorious nature.” In the same story, filmmaker Errol Morris said of McNamara, “If he failed, it is because he tried to bring his own idea of rationality to problems that were bigger and deeper and more deeply irrational than he or anyone else could rationally understand.”

I will not live in a shroud of fear, nor wander in a cold night fog of rumors. I have my own fears, of course, for our world and for our country and for myself. My own greatest personal fear, perhaps, is that I will find myself homeless with my clunker of a car broken down in a desert night, and that I will die there, alone and quickly forgotten without having made any lasting impact, however small, on the world. Until then, I will live with some sort of hope. And trust.

The snake’s discarded skin waves in the breeze like a flag from the past. The dried husk of the locust still clings to the stick that my parents use to stir the ashes. Tonight, other locusts cry noisily in the dark. I think that our daily acts can be poetry; then I think of the Leonard Cohen quote someone shared with me a couple of days ago: “If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Patience, Rhetoric, and Common Realities
July 2009 email newsletter, Vol. 2, #005

The night fell like freedom on the oppression of the day’s heat. After spending much of the day shooting photographs at an Independence Day celebration in tiny Ben Wheeler, Texas, I got home and finished reading a novel, Gregory Maguire’s “Son of a Witch,” that is the sequel to his “Wicked,” the real story of the Wicked Witch of the West. If we believe Maguire, she was misunderstood and misrepresented in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“Son of a Witch” tells the story of Liir, who might be her son and who is trying to find himself and to do something good in that strange land.

The novel’s coda is a quote that Maguire credits to Thomas Jefferson from 1798: “A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles.”

It is such an appropriate quotation for the hope of this July 4 as we look toward the end of the zero years (2000-2009) and toward, perhaps, the emergence of a new era. Give me that romantic notion. As I took the truth of Jefferson’s words, the real witches were those people who, one after another, ruled Oz for their own ends or who blindly followed orders.

I share another quote that grabbed me recently, this one from a newspaper column by Eugene Robinson: “But what about those who might not understand that it’s all just political theater . . . whether all the blast-furnace rhetoric coming from the right is giving validation and encouragement to some confused, angry man or woman with a rifle or a truck full of fertilizer – the next ‘lone wolf,’ preparing to howl.”

I try to decide if we live furled in the Jimi Hendrix version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and have done so since well before 2001, flowing into “Purple Haze,” or if we live in Ray Charles’ version of “America the Beautiful.”

I try to keep in mind that it is fear, not hatred, that drives so many people and that patience, meaningful education, and experience can overcome fear. I abhor the egotistical fringe that fuels its own flame by fanning that fear.

Sometimes I would like to be the eccentric guy in one of those mediocre horror movies who tells everybody the truth but nobody believes him until it’s almost too late. Sorta a post-civilization, New rAge catcher in the rye, I suppose.

What would I say? I would remind, perhaps, that scientists recently discovered that 35,000 years ago during the Ice Age someone or some group sat in a cave in what is now southern Germany with a carved ivory figurine of a woman and played music on an 8.6-inch-long flute made from a hollow bird bone with five finger holes and a notched end. That information, from an archeological study, fascinates me for some reason.

In June, I planted some pale green vines that I hope will flourish, and will eventually share crimson passion flowers with me. It is an act of patience, a single opening of a door for the passing of all sorts of witches’ spells. It is an act to summon beauty, and I hope the beauty is worth the trouble that some tell me is a part of the vine’s selfishness, its habit of, like the world’s ordinary people, coming back again and again. That habit is a strength, however selfish it might be.

Today, I see tiny, inch-long red flowers beginning to bloom from another plant. These are the first flowers to bloom from something I put in the ground last fall. They do not listen to political theater. They will grow stronger. There will be more of them.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

An Unfortunate Myth

Contemplate the unfortunate myth of common knowledge in a world that may, indeed, too often seem culturally vapid but is not as common as we too often believe it to be.

Sandra Day O’Connor, surely a wise old woman, once said, and is recently and often quoted as saying, that a wise old man and a wise old woman would come up with the same solution. That simplistic statement, surely no more than a sound bite in some larger context, is wrong because we don’t all have the same experiences and perspectives to begin to base our decisions on.
We need to apply diversity of experience to make the best decisions. That’s neither to support nor to dismiss Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, although I see no reason to not support her nomination in whatever small way that I can. O’Connor’s sound bite, removed from its context, is no better or worse than Sotomayor’s contention, in context, that a Latina could make a better decision than an Anglo male. Sure she could; so could an Anglo male, applying each’s experience and perspective to the issue at hand.

Either sound bite, especially, for some unexplored reason, O’Connor’s, sounds like something a person with more answers than questions, no matter how intelligent, would deliver.

It took me many years to realize that everybody is not just like I am, that everybody does not think like I do, that everybody does not come to the same conclusions that I do. It was, at first, a quiet revelation to myself that slowly blossomed in sunlight.

Houghton Mifflin published E.D. Hirsch Jr.’s book, Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know, way back in 1987. I still agree with the basic premise, cultural literacy, despite the criticism the bestseller got, and despite Hirsch’s assumed and surely best-intended arrogance in the appendix which tried to list (pages 152-215) what literate Americans should know. I would, without a doubt pass his knowledge test, and probably would even make a good grade on it if it were multiple choice. I shudder at how some of Leno’s “Jay Walking” guests would no doubt respond; I can’t believe how ignorant some of those people are, although I am less ignorant only by degrees.

We do, surely, prosper if we are culturally literate. The interesting problem, though, is in knowing what we need to know.

If I were compiling a Hirsch list, I would start with The Golden Rule, which Hirsch includes on his list. It basically tells us that we should treat people like we would like to be treated; it’s a “rule” that too often seems tarnished beyond recognition these days, submerged in some once dusty, now flooded basement in New Orleans. If basements even exist in New Orleans, filled with old knowledge being crushed by the skyscrapers of mirrored-glass trivia.

After The Golden Rule, I would assume a global rather than American approach.

Then, before I began to even try to come up with a meaningful list of what we, as members of a species sometimes trying to understand each other, need to know, I would consider process more important than content. Does content matter? Sure it does. Process matters more. Because process – critical thinking and problem-solving skills – based on The Golden Rule is more likely to force us to think. Problem-solving skills begin with the recognition that a problem exists. Commonly, that’s followed by properly defining the problem, looking at possible solutions, deciding what to do about it, and then doing it and making sure whatever’s done is done right. Critical thinking, according to a Wikipedia summary, involves both logic and broad intellectual criteria including clarity, credibility, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, significance, and fairness.

I apologize, in this culturally vapid, sound bite world, for using the word intellectual.