Category Archives: Memory

September 11, 2019

I wrote the text below on the one year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. I re-read this every year, and today, its message rings so true… “at a time in our history where the world is truly small, we can no longer allow our self appointed interests and egos to drive our actions within this world community“… Please read. God bless us all.

September 11, 2002

In reflection of all that has come to pass, and with hope in all that can potentially be, I have slowed my world down today, to observe. I have witnessed emotions’ range and have felt the deepest sincerity in all that I have taken part in. For me, this one-year milestone, of the tragedies of September 11 2001, has left me with a longing that I must share.

This morning’s sunrise was quite profound. As I sipped my coffee, looking eastward out of my breakfast nook’s window, I was greeted with a broken sky and the rosy edged clouds from last night’s rain. Gray and gentle giants stretching toward the eastern horizon, gently kissed by the dawning sun. The sky held the deepest blue and set my view in a very powerful background, providing a triumphant and yet foreboding setting for the red, white and blue of the morning. My mood seemed to match, as I felt reassured by our nation’s collective resolve exhibited over the past year, and yet I felt apprehensive in the light of on-going struggle. As I sat in silent reflection, the words of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address played through my mind. “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” I sat mesmerized.

My radio was on in the background, and as if called by my own will, New York’s Governor Pataki initiated the memorial service at ground zero with Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The clouds outside my window seemed to change their color in response to his words, providing a balance of gray and white, while the sky’s deep blue lightened a shade, yielding a canvas for hope.

Moments later, former Mayor Giuliani began reading the names of the victims of the attack on the world trade center towers. Gordon McCannel Aamoth Jr., Edelmiro (Ed) Abad, Maria Rose Abad, Andrew Anthony Abate, Vincent Abate, Laurence Abel, William F. Abrahamson, Richard Anthony Aceto, Heinrich B. Ackermann, … The victim’s faces, those I could recall from the web pages I perused last year, began to drift through my mind’s eye. The tears began to come and I began to realize how much we have lost. Lost lives, broken families, and lost loves. As a nation, we are different now. We have realized, most likely for the first time that we are not an island of security. That our financial and military power is not what differentiates us, but that which makes us unique, and subsequently, that which poises us as a target of such acts of terrorism. I also realized that we have gained. For through our learnings of such experience, we have found a new resolve that echoes old values, such as those our very nation was founded on. And in such, we have gained temperate understanding of just how precious this life truly is, and how diverse and distressed our world society has become. In this, I believe, we can proudly say that we stand alone among our allies and enemies, for our nation exhibits a worldly sampling of all nations, all cultures, and all beliefs. Our lives and values are based in true freedom, founded in trust and honesty, and are exhibited through peace and compassion. And in such, we extend a greater love through our exhibition of this understanding. This diversity is of our design, driven by our desire, and forms the very mettle that identifies Americans as people of natural determination and resolve.

And yet, we are a delicately contrary people. For as we stand upon the virtue of such great values, we allow our gains and successes to wrap us in what we perceive to be our own personal, impervious lives. In times when our successes are at their greatest, and our challenges small, we exhibit an almost ignorant selfishness. We ignore our neighbors, we throw frustration upon our fellow citizens in traffic, and we seem to migrate to a gluttony of extremes. Our drive is focused upon financial growth, more service, less cost, and a need for exponential improvement. I believe that our behavior, associated with such perceived successes, is the very element that fuels the hatred of those we call our enemies today. Ironically, it is this same behavior that was once perceived to be the enemy of our nation’s founding fathers, and to that point, that which has brought us to this day of memorial. How ironic.

The radio’s reading of the names of the lost was only interrupted long enough for other memorials to begin, or for moments of silence to be observed at the very minute, one year ago, when the trade center towers collapsed. Three very distinct and individual memorials, New York City, the Pentagon, and Shanksville Pennsylvania, yet all rang with names of victims, lost lives, lost loves, and broken families. Tragedies beyond belief. Through the constant of remembering, through the tears and tightened throat of reliving the pain and horror, I made my way to a place in my town where Mozart’s Requiem would be played as part of a rolling national endeavor to promote healing and remembrance.

The daylight moved to deeper tones of color. The low hanging clouds grew gray, yet the daylight beyond became brighter and more brilliant with blue. Even a few little spits of drizzle managed to mix in. All seeming to reflect my mood, and hopefully the moods of others. Others who, like myself, were needing to reconnect, acknowledge the pain and loss, and take from that, some magic and secret element to fuel understanding for the world we now live in.

As I parked my truck and began to draw the will to move myself into the heart of the day’s sorrow, I found that I could not extinguish the sounds of the radio, still reading the names of the more than 3000 individuals who lost their lives that day. It seemed like an eternity had passed, yet the alphabetical reading was only in the “C’s”. Jose Cardona, Dennis M Carey, Edward Carlino, Michael Scott Carlo, David G. Carlone, Rosemarie C. Carlson, Mark Stephen Carney, Joyce Ann Carpeneto, Jeremy M. Carrington… Somehow, I managed the resolve to wipe away the tears, and moved myself from the truck and toward the theatre where many of my fellow citizen’s hearts would hopefully throng, along with the music, and mine.

I found a seat near the back, which was elevated, and provided a large view of the theatre. I sat alone while the hall slowly filled to near capacity. Many of the faces that began to sit around me were solemn, sorrowful. Yet so many others were taking this performance as if it were an event of opportunity. Around me, through voices overheard, were people frustrated with the remaining seat selection, people with agendas that were driven away from their busy lives. I heard comments complaining about the reading of the names during the memorial services in New York City, comments spoken in frustration that television news coverage had forced them to endure such monotony and such a waste of time. I found myself shocked that such selfish and cold comments could be made at a time when human compassion and understanding should naturally prevail. Only few around me seemed to be here to mourn, or reflect. My witnessing of such brought on a great sadness that we, as collective survivors, do not cherish what we have learned, and what we have lost of life and love, through today’s echoing pain.

As the lights dimmed and the music began, I recognized the seed of a longing that only then, I realized was growing inside of me. I realized that in the moments of the greatest tragedy ever encountered on our nation’s soil, was contained the truest and most sincere outpouring of human compassion and love. For it is the desperation associated with great tragedy or great need that drives us to acts of heroism, kindness, and sacrifice. It is this great human capability that I long for in my daily life, and the true reason that I came here today, to find it, and to claim it. Not to account for and own for myself, but to capture and echo as a prayer for all mankind to recognize and hold on to these values as operators in our daily lives. As people of any society or congregation, we truly long to embody these virtues in our own behavior, yet we distort our understanding of our own desires by way of our societal driven needs, perceptions, and the manner by which we market ourselves to ourselves.

As the greatest national power on the globe, and at a time in our history where the world is truly small, we can no longer allow our self appointed interests and egos to drive our actions within this world community. Our nation was founded from the phoenix of past tyranny and societal selfishness, and now, again, we tender that same negative inertia and believe that it is good. For the greatest thing we have gained as a result of the September 11 attacks, is that we are now placed center stage and in a position to truly show the mettle of our collective soul. Our worldly place today, whether we accept it or not, provides us with the greatest opportunity for leadership that any nation has ever been afforded. As such, our true calling is to act in the manner of behavior that provided foundation for our nation, molded our value system, and provided our compassionate acceptance of this world. In the name of all past tragedies, moments of great desperation and heroism, we must hold on to and exhibit these values in our every day lives. We must embrace and exhibit this deepest compassion, love and understanding if we truly desire to lead our global society beyond these days of malice and hatred. For the fabric of our very existence is now openly exposed, and calling for our own regeneration, urging our success and evolution. Without which, well, here we will be again, regretting past tragedy, memorializing our loss, and praying for a future peace, as nothing more than mere children of histories’ repetition.

J. Blue September 11, 2002

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Filed under History, Memory, Perspective, Universal Soul

The Circus

Trepidation tempered only by our anxious gait, as scent of cotton candy pulsed within the Oompa’s drifting plait. Down the leading path we walked, skipped and ran in anxious talk, giggling nervous hopes out loud until we spied the circus’ crowd!

Oh my! In exultation’s cry! Oh my!

Enormous posters on display, camels spitting, the grass and clay punished flat ‘neath giant feet of elephants who kindly greet the droves of folks that came from town to see the biggest show go down!

Once beyond the ticket booth and through the hallowed gate of truth, we donned our widest gaping jaws as through the side show alley saw three legged men and thumb sized girls, strong men juggling pigs in pearls, dancing bears and lions caged, pointing, gaping at every stage. Magicians sawing girls in two, sword swallowing flame breathing artists who defied the laws of man and earth, tickling us pink in circus mirth!

But as our curious peeling eyes turned forth to follow distant cries of “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls!”, we spied the Big Top tent in swirls of colored flags and banners pitch, defining now our growing itch!

“The Big Top!” was all that we exclaimed as running toward its giant frame, imbibing in the musky scent exuding from the glowing tent, we swam through ether’s welcome call of dust made sweet through hay and all, in ancient canvas on tree sized rails held by ropes and enormous nails!

Oh my! Oh my! Or sole decry.

Inside this monolithic world parading horses and riders swirled, jugglers riding one wheeled bikes while clowns spat fire ‘pon tiny trikes. We spied some seats down toward the front, and running there like dogs in hunt, the band pronounced the dimming lights as we scooched in for more delights.

Spotlights on the magic ring, while rolling drums announced the scene upon the tall red coated man, top hat and beard, cane in his hand, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to our Circus world!”, on cue the band flared loud, Ring Master standing pleased and proud.

At perilous heights above us all, trapeze artists flew and called, till proudly elephants paraded in, danced and balanced balls and men, then lion tamers with whips and chairs scared us stiff in ogled stares, the jugglers came, the strong man too, accompanied by the band all through.

Then all came out to dance, perform, wowing us within the warm and savory scent that only breathes in circus tents that come and leave through smallest towns midst farmers’ fields, that only for one day reveal a whisper of the circus dream, casting memories, stupendous scenes.

Could it be that time stood still amid the musky scent and thrill that held us captive, glued in seats, with salty foods and colored sweets? For as we laughed our way back home, recalling every moment thrown, we felt we’d lived another time beneath the Big Top’s magic rhyme, and tho’ the spell was slowly cast, the moments spent went quickly past, and back into the day… each of us thinking, “one day we’ll run away, to the Circus!”

Circusa
Courtesy of Circus World Museum, Baraboo, Wisconsin, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

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Recollection – First Days of School

Bright, this morning’s fatal point,
as down the lane I walk,
edges brilliant, sharply lined,
denying summer’s lazy stalk.

Midst starch and press just oversized,
welcoming spurts of growth,
my awkward steps approach the fields
where friends resound in languished mope.

Through squinting eyes I find the lines
attached to every open door,
searching through the lists of names,
hoping for a little more…
Mrs. Leatherman’s heavy hand,
Mr. Peck’s muppet scowl,
as circling birds in buddied groups,
watching,
hoping,
closing now…

Through scent of bleach, assigned to seats,
giant maps upon the wall,
musky books of history,
handed out through sighs from all.

This day of firsts, in echoed throes,
pretends to know what no one knew,
yet blends in temporal fragment’s points,
each year’s angst recalled and true.

Till now, uniquely drifting,
lost in slipstream’s melting cast,
still drives these August senses blue,
when “back to school” comes too darn fast.

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The Marker

Marker

How did the stain of past life find its place upon this silent grave?
What aged the emerald crescent’s arc, kindly blotched the written stave?

What of its words and heartfelt kiss
that left a summer’s rain amiss?

What countenance divine embraced
this site befitting, this resting place?

Through what redacted soulful truths
did heaven ride to seal the proofs?

Who stood upon this sullen ground
in saddened prayer, in whispered sound?

What happened here? Who knew the scene?
What time sustained and held between
the moments of the resting?
What moments from the fight?
Who stoops above this sacred stone,
in haunt and love each night…?

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Filed under Angels, Family, Memory, Perspective, Poetry, Universal Soul

Carousel

Carousel.PNG

Standing in a summer’s mist,
early morning heat and dew,
a carousel abandoned,
ebbing from a fairground’s stew.

Echoes of calliope,
hushed in rusting pipes,
risen by the subtle breeze,
groans in tempered gripes.

Soprano tinseled screams escape
the platform’s gentle rolling,
whispers stitched among the chants,
Gregorian and tolling.

O’er the stays of canvas frayed,
reds and blues tease gently, torn,
rounding boards ornate and wide,
tarnished crackle, sadly worn.

Leaden mirrored center blinds,
ghostly grey and steel,
stirring passing images,
tintype memories, laughter’s squeal.

Oaken massive platform stained
with seasoned mud and puddled rain,
rusting mounts of tired ponies,
saddened in their lonely pain.

Dare I not to step aboard,
as history’s watch is mercy’s keeping,
so gather witness to my soul,
for all my childhood dreams there sleeping.

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The Waiting Room and the Aftermath

Time compressed a lifetime to a single moment, drawn slender, nearly warping the second hand, yet each escaping stroke pounded heavy, a muted hammer against the polished anvil of time’s progression.

The waiting was over. Wringing hands and silent prayers were done.

You entered, unwelcomely wanted, through an angel’s open door. It was June. Iowa June.

The air clung thick. Soundless single syllables just heard beyond the pounding blood of my ears, beneath my mother’s panicked hopeful breathing, against the ironic tapping of your white Florsheim shoes, covered in blood.

Our suspended sanctuary broken with your nod, and respectful question. Yet our vigil held a moment longer, well over the precipice. “I’m sorry,” you said, “he didn’t survive.” All point of reference, gone. Asking, “What!?” You repeated yourself scratching at an explanation. My mother’s orchestral voice raised in tension, sweet timbre of violin strings, disbelieving, could only sing, “Oh no! Oh no! I will never hold his hand again! Oh my God! Oh no!”

To a pinhole view the world resolved. In haunting hush my brother’s sweet tears were all I heard to comfort a life’s long loss. The room devoured, swallowing breath in its labored breathing, Jonah in the whale. Details smeared in fresco, glossy, distorted. Every step, every word relaxed along the corridor, penetrating, piercing my battled grasp to cling on. You there, browning blood rooted in the piped white stitching. Your words, soundless.

Disdain revolved my iron neck, begging to turn away, only to see her there, slanting through hell’s door; a pig in squalor, a nurse in white, makeup of a whore. Piercing the fleeting glimpse of any dream with, “You need to gather the belongings. Come with me.”

Fleeing you, this trap, I followed her. Fat, short, squat legs pounding busy hallway tiles; purpose of a jack hammer. Spinning, burning in overload through hospital denizens, features stretched, some kind, some lost, some loud… An eon’s flooded blur slammed prostrate to clinical white doors. Another trap to open.

“It’s all in here”, she said, thrusting upon me the brown frayed grocery bag, clasped in sparkles of Swingline precision, his name in black, still wafting a Sharpied rush to the end. Would it ever end?

Heavy armed, I slowly turned to face an eternity lulled to desperate lows, stretching it’s Einstein’d moments illusively, forever before me, pressing mass upon mass, gravity surreally bending the tears to flood.
In memory of the waiting room and the aftermath, the day my father died in surgery, June 17, 1985.
Written for d’Verse Poets Pub – http://dversepoets.com/

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Ashes

The years upon themselves will close,
once folded then unfolded,
as unaged born, to ageless turns,
through aging’s twining scolded.

Through years of moment’s pleasures,
grafted to the ether’s breath,
whispered dreams in flags of prayer,
escape the truth of death.

When just the pyre’s ash remains,
when autumn’s hushing gently stirs,
when absence seems too stark to hold,
life’s long red thread endures.

Stitched through laughter’s echo,
knotted through a true love’s seam,
hung as memory’s bunting,
graces truths we’re left to dream.

For these will not escape us,
born free above what ash remains,
as time reclaims its holdings,
these memories, this life sustains.

for Judy Arterburn (July 25, 1944 – January 5, 2016)

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