talk in the night

in every place that holds a comb
a toothbrush
a roll of tape
or even grapes newly washed

a person takes a stand
hears the sounds of the night

a bird way out there
calls another
over there
way over there
lets me hear
the conversation

one of them shouts the steady talk
the other answers
a quick chirp
just enough to validate

both together tell me
that if I empty out
what’s inside
all the earthy material
in my gut
their calls can heal anything

lack of time

A friend of mine recently explained that she had very little time.  She went into great detail about her lack of time.  In fact, she took quite a bit of time explaining her lack of time.

The conversation was very familiar.  I’ve said the same thing, almost the exact same words, many times.

Yet, as I heard another person say what I’ve said so many times, it occurred to me that we both have the same amount of time.  This moment, and then this moment, and the next moment — so forth and so on…

Talking about lack of time takes a lot of time.

Fox News vs. MSNBC. Who has more Education?

Sometimes I wonder.  Is it me, or is it them?  Has my thinking narrowed because we have websites and cable channels and radio that agrees with me, such that I’m only listening to those I agree with?

Or is it because the political thought on the right (Rush Limbaugh, Fox News) —  sounds a little off base.

It’s probably a little of both.

But one could make a case that the cable TV folks on the left (MSNBC) are smarter, more informed, and more, shall we say, liberally educated, than the cable TV folks on the right.

For example, here’s a bit of background, harvested from Wikipedia, about our media friends’ education:

On the Right

Rush Limbaugh — two semesters and one summer at Southeast Missouri State University

Sean Hannity — dropped out of New York University and Adelphi University

Glenn Beck — one semester of college

Bill O’Reilly (an exception) — graduated Marist College.  M.A. Broadcast Jounralism from Boston University. Master of Public Administration Harvard University

On the Left

Chris Matthews — graduate of the College of the Holy Cross.  Graduate work in economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ed Shultz — Graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Lawrence O’Donnell — Harvard graduate

Keith Obermann — Cornell graduate

Rachel Maddow — degree in public policy from Stanford. Doctorate in political science from Oxford, which she attended on a Rhodes Scholarship.

Rush Limbaugh
Glenn Beck
Sean Hannity
Chris Matthews
Chris Matthews
Rachel Maddow
Bill O'Reilly
Ed Schultz
Lawrence O'Donnell
Keith Obermann

a mother without words

I did not visit my Mom today.

Most every day I stop in — if only for a few minutes.  Sometimes I stay awhile.

Today, I was busy from the moment my feet hit the floor until late — and never made it.

Her Alzheimer’s has progressed, and her ability to speak has rapidly diminished.

For quite some time now, uttering a sentence has taken on the difficulty of balancing a chemical equation.  Her efforts have sometimes born fruit, but most often give way to mute frustration.

In the past few weeks, she’s hardly said a word.

It’s not important that she talks — or does not talk.  That’s not why I visit.  These days, it takes all of her energy to take a step, sit-up, open her eyes.  So I don’t aggravate her frustration further by trying to get her to talk.

But when those rare, fleeting, audible moments happen, they are special surprises — and big moments in my life.

In order to speak to her, I have to bend over, get fairly low, and look up.  She tends to keep her head down, eyes pointed straight down at the floor (if they’re open).

A couple of days ago, I got in her face, as I was leaving, and said, “Bye Mom!”

She said “Where are you going?”

This was quite a lot for her these days.

A few days before that, I said, “I love you, Mom!”

She said “I love you…”  Then she uttered another sound.  I’m pretty sure she strained briefly to remember my name — and quickly let it go.

I visited her two weeks ago, on my birthday.  I think I’ve talked to my mother on each of my birthdays — if not in person then by phone.

Last year, on my birthday, we had a little party at her house that included her, my wife, and her caregiver.  We brought a cake.  She knew it was my birthday and joined the celebration.  We had dinner and I blew out a lot of candles.

In past years, she did what most mothers do:  she made a point to tell me how happy she was that I was born, and shared a few awkward details about my life as an infant.

In fact, I think this was the first birthday of my life that didn’t include an enthusiastic commentary from my mother about the virtue of my existence.  I always found this talk rather uncomfortable, tuned out most of it, and now remember few of the details — although I remember the gist of the message quite well.

This year, I knelt in front of her, looked up, and said, loudly, “Hi Mom!  Today’s my birthday!”

“I forgot,” she said.

My mother had been quite a talker.

I’ve spent much of my life waiting for her to finish talking so that I could move on to matters more important to me.

How many times did she tell me to get a master’s degree?  Hundreds.  I never did.  How many times did she tell me to get a job?  Many.  (Even though I’ve always had a job; one job was never enough for her).  How many times did she tell me to stop chewing my shirt?  So many.  (It’s a habit.  I’m chewing it now, as I type).

How many times did she help me with my writing — offering insight and critique that only she could provide?  Every time I asked.

How many stories did she tell?  That would be like counting the leaves on a tree.

Alas, those are only memories now.  She was a person who did not withhold her opinion.  If she thought she knew better, she said so.  Now, by not speaking, she’s teaching a different kind of lesson — probably the most valuable of them all.

Rush Limbaugh

He may act mean and bounce like jello
Rear his head — shout and bellow
Call people names — snort and blow
Act like a jerk who stubbed his toe
But maybe Rush Limbaugh is a pleasant fellow.

He may make racist rants
Hate whole groups while dancing his dance
(as if he had fire-ants in his pants)
A zealot with a stubborn stance
But let’s give Rush a second chance.

He may sound vile to you and me
Beyond the pale
Wanting Barack to fail
A guy who needs Dale Carnegie
But we all know his show ain’t free

Perhaps his listeners are rough and tough
Guys who love to eat this stuff
Rush can’t just give them fluff!
Can’t look like a cream puff!
There are ads to sell. Ratings to buff!

He could be a very nice old hack
Running a popular comedy act
I don’t listen (it’s below my station)
But perhaps it’s worthy of admiration
To give raw meat to those who need a snack

Suppose he’s sour. Talks for an hour
It’s harmless fun in his Florida sun
He doesn’t have any real power

Except — could it be morally wrong
To encourage so many
So long
So strong
Not to get along?