PATRIOTISM … Being out in California temporarily, providing hospice care for my dad (88) in his suburban home, has proven an interesting lesson in what it means to love one’s country. I may be an unconventional paleohippie living in rural Colorado among ranchers and miners and oil well workers, but my dad is a very patriotic American living in one of the liberal bastions of the nation – the San Francisco Bay Area … Every morning, as he wishes, I hoist the American flag out front of his modest ranch style house in the town now famous as the home of Google in what’s come to be known as Silicon Valley (Santa Clara County), and every night I take it down, roll it up reverently, and put it to bed for the night. It’s a ritual I haven’t seen done much anymore. No one on his block follows suit. His is the only flag that flies. In fact, in a town of 72,000 (Mountain View had 7,000 residents back when we first moved there in the early 50s, back then a sprawling network of apricot and cherry orchards with a few core buildings in the town center), I haven’t seen another flag that flies in front of anyone’s home … But don’t mistake this deeply engrained patriotism of my father – his proudest accomplishment serving as a bombardier in World War II, having entered the Army as a buck private and left honorably as an Army Air Force Second Lieutenant – for blind allegiance to the current administration. Omygod, no way! In fact, the mere mention of the president’s one-syllable name throws him into apoplectic fury – a string of curses more fitting for a stevedore than a gray-haired senior surges from his lips like a tsunami of indignation. His mantra’s not “our country right or wrong” but more “what the hell has this &$%#@* done ruining our nation’s good name?” … And he puts his money where his angry mouth is – having donated $1,000 to Obama’s campaign (although he’d vote for Hilary if she wins the Dems’ nod, anything to get rid of that &$%#@* in office right now). That may not seem like much money to folks in Telluride, but it represented over a tenth of all he owns … And more power to him, I say. To believe in America. To believe in the process enough to tithe himself a tenth of his net worth towards a candidate he believes can change the way America operates, can bring the troops home, can restore our standing in the world as a leader of human rights and freedom and democracy – I think my old man is quite the inspiration … So, it’s a wonderful lesson to be adjusting his pillow, bringing vases of flowers to his room, chatting with him and remembering old times and helping him through his last illness. A lesson in honoring the flag if not misguided leadership. A lesson in what it means to be a human, in all its contradictory complications. A lesson in patriotism.
SALES TAX FIGURES … They’re only one indicator of the state of the local economy, but an important one. And so I was pleased to see that taxes collected on sales in February of this year were up over 20 percent from last year, and it appears that generally our winter sales were strong this year.
WEEKLY QUOTA … "Fascism finds it necessary, at the outset, to take away from the ordinary human being what he has been taught and has grown to cherish the most: personal liberty. And it can be affirmed, without falling into exaggeration, that a curtailment of personal liberty not only has proved to be, but necessarily must be, a fundamental condition of the triumph of Fascism." - Mario Palmieri, The Philosophy of Fascism (1936)
THE TALKING GOURD
Robin song circles the blue-
tuned basin of beginning,
the nest of possibility wide open.
Matters of brilliance escape at bursting edges
when auburn wake-scent sings in the well.
Circle sky splits into dark ripples
wound about limbs of reference.
High wind currents bend, wheel
as turkey vultures waiting for our hearts
to be spoken, released to the breeze and
bishops of stream science.
The liquid of industry will evaporate,
top toppling tumble down
circle round drums hopping
between our knees pap-pa-ka!
release fountains filled
from hidden, secret springs,
wedding the next possibility
to cambric cajole of sunâ€™s round
attention, re-membering all directions
meet in the center.