19 + 1 White Mums

Originally posted on Jan 13, 2011 @ http://radio.azpm.org/kuaz/

I voted for Gabrielle Giffords but I’m not sure it was 100% legal. Been living in my car since Sept. The economy. What was I supposed to put down for my new address? Random dry wash off the Rillitto? Besides, where I usually slept was just a few blocks from where I used to live so I figured it’s the same.

Last Sat when I stopped for gas the cashier told me an emergency room nurse had just been in, end of her shift, said Congresswoman Giffords was DOA. So don’t feel too bad NPR & Fox. Jane @ the Chevron got it wrong too. Sunday afternoon I was going to the library to use the internet to look for work but it was warmer than it’s been for awhile, so I thought I should carpe diem & clean my “house” instead, long overdue. There’s a nice little park off of Grant that has nice thick (for Tucson) grass where I could spread out my stuff & sort through it. On the other side there was a gathering of some sort. Maybe a kid’s birthday party (though I didn’t see any piñatas).

This guy kept walking, a little stiffly, just circling & circling the park’s perimeter. When he walked by me I saw he had a big semi-auto pistol in a holster in the small of his back. What with the day before & all the rumors I wondered. Thought about calling 911. But then, second or third circuit, he walked over to check ME out – he was friendly about it, but still I could tell that’s what he was doing. That’s when I saw he had a TPD badge pinned to his belt. Maybe it was just a coincidence but I’ve lived here about 30 years & never seen that. A plainclothes cop acting like a secret service agent @ a party @ a public park. Tucson was always a pretty laid back place.

A little later a guy in the house across the street came out & put up a sign in his yard, musta been left over from the last election. He looked around defiantly after pounding it in. Next day, I found some flowers on sale @ Frys. White mums. They weren’t much, though it was half my food / gas allowance for the day. Widow’s mite. Went back to the sign. Counted out 19 flowers.

Then I thought about a relative of mine, about the same age as JLL. They just let her out of the state mental even though she begged them to let her stay. But they just said as long as she takes her meds she shouldn’t be a danger to her mom or herself or anybody. I counted out one more flower & left them by that sign that said Gabrielle Giffords For Congress.

Note: As this post reflects, there was some confusion re. what happened in Tucson on January 8 of last year. Facts were initially – sometimes still are – misreported. On January 13, 2011, I knew only that 19 people had been shot, either killed or wounded, by Jared Lee Loughner. I have since learned that there was a twentieth victim who was injured but not by gunfire. I considered “Photoshopping” the above account of my actions & changing its title in order to acknowledge that 20th casualty but felt it, if not Gollumish, at least slightly Sméagolly, more so than not, to do so.

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They Also Serve

“They also serve who only stand and wait.”
John Milton

1200 or so years ago in China a young woman, newly wed, wrote a letter. Some months before, her husband had left their small provincial village and went on his first voyage as an apprentice river merchant. The dangers were great: Pirates, bandits, rapids, storms, wild animals, equally rapacious, corrupt government officials. Many more months would pass before the young bride’s husband would return, if he did return at all.

He had been gone so long.

The River-Merchant’s Wife: a Letter
by Li Po, 8th Century A.D. China
Translated-Interpreted by Ezra Pound

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums
And we went on living in the village of Chokan :
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.
At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.
At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever, and forever.
Why should I climb the look out?
At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-Yen, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.
You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden,
They hurt me.
I grow older,
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you,
As far as Cho-fu-Sa.

Just before Katrina struck, in a small Louisiana town near the Gulf of Mexico, another young woman sent an e-mail.

The Convoy Driver’s Oughta Be Wife: An Email

From: sapphfire@anactoria.com
Subject: Star Dust Jelly Roll
To: jamie.t.noman@us.army.mil
Date: Saturday, August  27, 2005, 1:07 AM

Dear
DarlinJamieJamieDarlinMy
Sweet
G. I. Jamie

I remember
when we wuz just kids
me in pig tails n culottes
red flip flops
You had just moved down here to little ol’ Chauvin, Louisiana
With your parents from big ol’ New York, New York
All wise guy know it all full of attitude
wearing your hat backwards
skateboard  scabs on both a your knees
baggy shorts n Keds both with holes
Tom Boy tough guy at eight

You talked so fast
we’all could barely understand you
and oh my the mouth on you
But i knew you wuz coverin up afraid
Only I saw the little boy
all hurt inside and hurtin to get out
Seems we fought as much as we wuz friends
then
I swear sometimes I think its always gonna be that way between

us

My you wuz mean to me a lot
then

But I gave as good as I got

in my way

Remember when you broke the head offn my Barbie and  superglued your G. I. Joe head on it?
And then I melted all your army men to get back?
And got whupped for playin with lighter fluid and matches ?
Even then? Did we know? Know somewhere someplace deep down inside? Even then?
Even if it wuz just a little. Even though we didn’t understand?
I was the first to know. I think.
Or at least. Admit.
It’s always been easier for me to accept things.
You’re always the one that has to bloody your nose bumpin up agin em.
That’s why I love ya, darlin.
Darlin Jamie.
And You wuz afraid wuzzn’t ya?
When we wuz sixteen.
And I had to be the one to kiss

you

first.

Though everybody says I’m the shy one.
And thinks you’re so bold.

I remember how before you left for Eye-raq.
Your eyes shining! All bound for glory!
This was gonna be just the begininnin!
Someday you wuz gonna be the first.
The first woman combat general!
And  I smiled  I tried real hard
to be brave for you
I think maybe I even fooled you
But all I thought about
All I ken think about –

I got caught in a traffic jam on the interstate t otha day
Semi jackknifed into a SUV
You know how hot and muggy it is here right now
and how my old beater its air con don’t hardly work
And everybody a started honking their horns and
it was like I wuz in a dream and the cars wuz all convoy trucks and  then I wuz you
and then they wuz usin the jaws a life n the dream twarn’t no dream it was a nightmare
the horns had turned to the sounds a bombs & bullets a whistlin down and I started screaming

and then this here state trooper he comes up
and  taps on the window and says
are you all right mizzy and I said it wuz
just
it wuz just I had a –
I had somebody in Eyeraq
and he said
I hope your boyfriend gets home safe, mizz …

your

boy

friend

JT I know I shouldn’t burden you
or be a turning your thoughts towards the bad things that could happen,
you’re the one that needs supportin’ it’s just

my soul

you’re my soul,

Jamie

Remember that field out behind the high school where we would play hooky hang out n smoke n whatnot?
lie there at night just a countin the stars
holdin each other
Its bustin out beautiful krazy all over pretty as a picher right now

with flowers wild as you

butterflies n birds –
theys all of em
monarchs n robins n cardinals n hummingbirds n even them nasty crows n icky moths –
all paired up. Even
even the fireflies seem to each of em have their own special flame each of em to dance with

I can’t bear to go there much

I just sit here on the porch
like some old maid aunt that has about fifty cats

underneath sista heffa moon.

Hey, JT?
Ifn you could let me know
when you get rotated back to Fort Campbell
(Hope they don’t stop-loss you agin)

It ain’t right everybody else but you a havin they wives n sweethearts to welcome em home
the real wives their husbands

the

real

wives

I’m pretty sure my old beater can make it in a night a hard drivin if’n I only stops for gas
and smokes and for to pee. I’ll take off work I don’t need that ol’ cashier job anyways
I promise I won’t embarrass you in front of your commander let on about us
or get you in trouble with him

or nothing

I can
pretend to be your sister or cousin or –

or –

Smells like cheap cologne n cigarettes to me!

I neva knew what Auntie Lenora used to mean by that

Till now.

Cheap cologne n cigarettes!!!!

Hey. One good silva lining. Your mama she don’t look through me pretendin like I don’t exist no more
Guess when two hearts both yearn to see the same set of green eyes safe at home them other things they don’t amount to a hill a beans
I run errands for her and stuff gets her her Maalox and Seee-grams
And a course her Pall Malls

She frets something terrrible worries and watches the CNN all the time and that there Fox for news about what might be a happening
in your neck of the woods – desert
Not me
I don’t have to
Like I done told ya darlin
I know you laughed at me but its true – truer now than ever
We was star dust mingled together at the beginning of time
And now we found each other agin across light years and galaxies
NOTHIN
Not no war nor Eyeraq
Or what folks might say about us
or the end of the world or time or the end of the universe itself
Can ever seperate us again!

Not really

Yours truly forever n ever n ever n ever n ever
–  and even beyond that!!!!!!
A whole lotta XsnOs XsnOs XsnOs
Xs    n    Os,

Sharilee Anne

P.S. They say a canes a gonna be a blowin in off the coast by Monday or therabouts. Bet them there scorpions over there ain’t got nothing on the crop of skeeters we got here this year.
Heeey Baayaaaybee. When you get back
I’ll have some of your favori eyte
My super secret special recipe shakey puddin’
all warm and moist an ready for ya.
Jest the way you like it!

And you be sure to have some of that sweet sweet jellyroll for me,
Ya hear now?

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

The Wrong Kind Of Stonewall

Got a joke for y’all
How is a gay soldier like Jesus?
They’re both without honor in their own country
Didn’t say it was a funny joke…

From presidential heights of hypocrisy pointedly unasked!
In their own country
In this,  THE land of freedom of speech
That they have sworn to defend with their lives
Forbidden – FORBIDDEN – to tell
Of the simple fact of their own existence
They wait
Standing standing standing

At attention with the unrequited diginity of Buffalo Soldiers
They stand  & wait only for mere acknowledgment
Nothing more
From their SeeEyeSee

They also serve who only stand and wait
And wait
And wait …

How long?

Mr. President
You used them to become Commander In Chief
You have used them as Commander In Chief
You send them in harm’s way as Commander In Chief
How long until you give them your FULL recognition & blessing?

“So, in the Libyan fable it is told That once an eagle, stricken with a dart, Said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft, ‘With our own feathers, not by others’ hand Are we now smitten’.”
Aeschylus