Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blues is the News - by Patty Mooney

One of my favorite all-time blues bands is the one my brother-in-law, Freddie Cunningham heads and sings in, Root Doctor, out of Lansing, Michigan.

Here's a little taste... (When he sings about the woman he loves, he's talking about my sister!)

Remembering the cranes - by John Hulme

I have always loved dockside cranes. There is just something so magnificent about the way they tower defiantly over the horizon. If you don't recognise the emotions such a sight stirs in your soul, if you don't know what it means to feel cold and isolated against an evening sky with a chilly tide lapping scornfully at your feet, then you really haven't lived yet. It's the place we all go to when the walls start falling down and you find yourself quietly amazed at the fragility of things.

Most things in this life are fragile, and none more so than the precious things:
small, withered hands looking for something to hold, perhaps; or a smile that lights up an entire room and pours fresh hope straight into your heart; somebody giving you a place to sit and talk when you've been wandering scared and lost through the streets all day; somebody hugging you just when you thought you were on the point of vanishing.

I spent much of this morning sitting in a car, quietly shivering as the cold winter air burrowed deeper and deeper into me. It's not the smartest thing to do, and I do sometimes wonder why I still do this at such regular intervals.

It's a throwback to a difficult time, during which I spent a great deal of time freezing in a car, not quite sure if I had anywhere else to go. But I think there's also something cathartic about it, quietly riding on the verge of hypothermia for a while with nothing but my own feelings and a cloud of ice breath to sustain me. I need to disappear into uncomfortable, melancholy places occasionally, to remind myself that there is still a crane in here somewhere, scanning the cold horizon for small treasures.

These are the kind of treasures that keep me alive. They have no innate power in themselves - you can't win any fights or topple any dictators with them, or buy any countries or oil rights. According to the standards by which our world is judged, they remain essentially worthless.

You can invoke them in speeches if you want to make people feel warm and fuzzy, but being somebody who nurtures such treasures has no intrinsic value in a world where money talks with such a loud, obnoxious voice. You get what you pay for in this world - and if you're out of that loop, your stock of treasure means precisely nothing.

Leading up to next year's Holocaust Memorial Day (held on 27th January, the date in 1945 that Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi extermination camps was liberated), a project called Hidden Histories has been initiated by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

The project is based on the kind of stories that small items - perhaps a watch, or a pendant, or a small comb - leave in their wake. Sometimes, such things had to be smuggled past the guards in the camps. Sometimes their mere presence in the world conjures a trail of memories, the only remaining echoes of people snuffed out by hatred. Small treasures, just like the fingers that once held them.

This is a world of small treasures, or it is nothing.

If we believe what the world tells us, we need money, power and influence to truly make the world a better place. If we believe what the small treasures tell us, we need to be cranes when the big waves come, and we need not to fear the cold. That way it will not matter who shuts us out. That way, it will not matter how cold the streets are, while the big money looks down on us from its gilded watchtower. That way, it will not matter how icy the water gets, how isolating our streets become, or how indifferent our neighbours seem when our world falls apart.

In a world where money talks with such a loud, obnoxious voice, we need to discover the kind of strength that is only born in silence. We need to re-learn how to whisper, how to touch with soft fingers. Most of all, when the world makes us feel cold and vulnerable for doing these things, we need to remember the cranes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Religion" - Haiku by Patty Mooney

Red shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus)Image via Wikipedia Ever since I saw two red-shouldered hawks circling above my head in the canyon last week, while feeling the presence of my dad's and brother's spirits, as though the two were dancing concentric figure eights, I have been channeling poetry again, after just a few dollops of poems over the last decade. I feel this is a gift to me, and to anyone else who enjoys reading them.

Here's a haiku that came to me last night in my sleep. I remembered it all through the night and jotted it down when I woke up. It's pretty funny.

Maybe I should explain that I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school from Kindergarten through 8th grade, at about which time I stopped going to church. Why? Simple. Women are not allowed to be priests. Having a firm grip on my worth as a person and not a piece of chattel, I have no interest in following a religion that looks down its nostrils at me because I'm female. My true "religion" is entering the realm of nature where I can see "God", "The Universe," "The Creator" or however you want to put it - in Full Glory. I don't often use the word "God" because I think it's a limiting term. I fully subscribe to the notion that "We are not humans living a spiritual existence, but are spirits living a human existence." - Teilhard du Chardin

So with no further ado, my haiku:

Sort of like wearing
underpants over your jeans
because God said so.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

A Day As Grey - A Poem by Patty Mooney

Rain clouds over Washingtonia filifera palm tr...Image via Wikipedia
A day as grey as the belly
of a darting rat.
That rat is finished,
its corpse flung
into the canyon
fodder for coyotes
the fig trees
dripping with rain.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Out and About in America's Finest City - by Patty Mooney

Photographing the Photographer - Regatta Marshal, Warren Allen

By air and by sea

One of San Diego's many colorful murals

Mural Detail, downtown San Diego

Stars & Stripes yacht, winner of the America's Cup (1987 and 1988), with "Stars & Stripes" American flag

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Singing Coffee Shop Guy at Detroit Metro Airport - A Video by Patty Kay Mooney

When I arrived in Detroit a few months ago to visit my elderly mother, I spotted this gorgeous young guy at the airport coffee shop. He regaled me with this rap song, customized for me, on the spot. Talented AND cute. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ice Master - A "Found" Poem by Patty Mooney

Ice Master
(Funeral March of the "Karluk")

Lying swollen and helpless, he was afraid to travel the Arctic.
The icescape looked different, an amplified wasteland.
Eyes useless now, all sense of direction lost:
impossible to avoid long stretches, to veer,
to tell the land from the sky; the game was thinning.
He was suffering, fingers and lips turned blue.
His skin freezing, the Bear vivid in his brain.
The Gray Specter now the Unseen Guest,
blond with the baby-fat face.
Everyone said hello – if not to him, to me. If not to me, to him.
He never made me cry. Never hurt me. Never let me down.
He treasured me. Now he was gone.
The midnight sun was gone. Blank horizon.
He must have died trying to reach Siberia.

Back at Skeleton Island, falling heavily and drifting badly,
they could still hear music echoing from the galley.
Winds and snow helped wash down the pemmican.
Deep water on top of the ice, Ice Master at the helm
as the ship nosed her way sluggishly, slivers of water
held captive. The old itch for adventure,
a grisly, bone-chilling roar, thickening fields of white.
Ice thrummed ominously. It rattled. It sounded like drums,
and then thunder, shuddered, continued its deafening
symphony grinding, churning, listing badly to port.
Two small daughters were crushed. Surprised.

A slight puff of steam seemed to straighten with great dignity.
He could feel the tears welling, weary and frozen.
What had he agreed to?
The worst in each man will behave without hesitation.
This strange clan – polar bears and offshore seals,
nothing beneath their feet but ice. As far as the eye,
only ice everywhere. Ice and darkness. Safety precarious.
Still there, adrift in the middle of the Arctic night.

Afterward, only chaos. The dogs wild and fighting.
The next full moon watched for trouble to a sound like gunfire.
Ice pressed tightly in these sanctuaries.
See the water pouring in, a long painful death,
a shard of ice thrust through at speed.
Snow blindness, to his thighs, his waist.
Slow suicide made a man of him.
Peace, peace, when there is no peace.
Say goodbye to the bottom of the ocean.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

True Grit - A Film Reflection by Patty Mooney

This is the era of prequels, sequels and re-makes. Some re-do's, like "Psycho" with Vince Vaughn (though I love him) seem futile. No way could it top the original. It's like that with music, too. When a band covering a song sounds exactly like the original band, then why bother?

But the Coen Brothers got this one right. The original "True Grit" starring John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn, a wizened U.S. Marshal, and Kim Darby as Mattie Ross, a precocious 14-year-old, is hazy in my mind anymore, as I myself was 14 when it came out in 1969. John Wayne, icon of classic westerns, won his only Academy Award for his performance.

The Coens' "True Grit" features Jeff Bridges as the eye-patch-sporting Rooster Cogburn who favors rot-gut over water and can still put a man six-foot-under with his six-shooter without too much trouble. And Hailee Steinfeld who plays Mattie, with her honed bargaining skills and cigarette-rolling capabilities, steals the show.

I enjoyed watching this film on the big screen because it features a lot of scenic beauty, and the interplay between Mattie and Cogburn is riveting. She has to prove her own "true grit" in several astounding ways in order to convince Marshal Cogburn to accompany her on a manhunt for Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) who murdered her father. It so happens that Texas Ranger Le Boeuf (Matt Damon) is also hunting Chaney for murdering a Texas senator.

There is never a lack of conflict in this classical western as the three unlikely "amigos" cross into Cherokee country to track down the murderer Chaney. The bond that grows between Mattie and Marshal Cogburn puts a lump in the throat of any daughter who has lost her father. When you see this roughest-of-the-rough show his tender side, it's a sight to behold.

I give this movie five stars and feel inclined to watch the original version of "True Grit" again, just to pay homage to John Wayne and screenwriter Marguerite Roberts, who interestingly enough had been "blacklisted in 1952 for refusing to name names in her testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee" according to Wikipedia. If you ask me, it's Ms. Roberts herself who had True Grit.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"My Stalker" - A Haiku Poem by Patty Mooney

Art by Os GemeosImage by cleopatra69 via Flickr You know who you are.

You're probably reading this.

Take a clue. Adieu.
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Happy Chef - A Poem by Patty Mooney

In the KitchenImage by cleopatra69 via Flickr In the Happy Chef
Greek restaurant
garish pink walls
the owner's wife's whim.
Good food.
I await your return,
thoughts turning
to how stark life would be
without you
suddenly alone, not
the most pleasant of thoughts
at the Happy Chef.
The worry
has gone awry.
Just then
my spinach pie arrives,
and your gyros plate
as though to reassure
me the shaved lamb
confirms your return.
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Friday, January 7, 2011

Pinks - A Poem by Patty Mooney

Cropped screenshot of Marilyn Monroe from the ...
Lox, lipsticks, baby roses, Caucasian infants,
the nipples and clit of a white girl like me,
feverish cheeks,
the print of a spanking.
Motrin 200's to quell the pain, cranberry vodka,
Jonestown Kool-Aid, sunrise, sunset, sunburn,
salmon roe nestled on rice
and surrounded by seaweed
or strung on a hook for trout,
rose-colored spectacles, Tahitian sand,
the Pieta's burnished marble,
beehive hair at a B52's concert,
flamingos and their reflections,
berry popsicles, Rit's dye #13,
Bazooka bubblegum,
Babe and his hammy hocks, Pepto-Bismol.
The nose of W.C. Fields,
the floating dress of Marilyn Monroe,
her nail polish, the feathers of a cormorant,
the blush of an orgasm,
the faded stains of blood and merlot,
the raspberry filling in the wedding cake,
the strand of Chinatown pearls, the bridesmaids' dresses,
the mothers' corsages,
the scented candles, Miami motels,
Canyonlands on the edge of dusk.

The classic view of Canyonlands National Park ...Image via Wikipedia
(*inspired by Lynn Emanuel)
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Monday, January 3, 2011

A Fresh Start - by Patty Kay Mooney

Santa Claus and Sleepy GirlImage by cleopatra69 via Flickr
Brand, spanking new. A clean slate. A fresh start. That's how most of us view a new year, isn't it? As though the just-wrapped-up year should be tossed out like a stinky diaper and never delved into again.

2010 was admittedly a difficult year for my family, with the loss of our two Joes - our 85-year-old father in April, and our 53-year-old brother in December, just before the start of the holiday season.

We had been expecting the passage of my dad for months if not years, ever since he suffered a heart attack a dozen or so years ago. But with my brother, Joe, it was like the sucker punch to the gut that put an end to Houdini. So unexpected and shocking, that I myself have only now begun to peer out at the damp, rainbowed sky without grief and suspicion.

I have leaped nimbly from shock to denial and from numbness to acceptance and then back to overwhelming mournfulness. I have had a hard time concentrating on work. I have not felt like writing. I have slept in way past my usual get-up time. "You should be feeling anger," a friend told me. "Get it all out." But the thing is, I am not angry. Who would I be angry at? My brother? The Grim Reaper? Me? Anger seems like a useless if not volatile emotion. I don't need to feel angry.

Kahlil Gibran is someone whose work I have admired for a long time, and his words have recently been quite comforting to me.

"And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation."


"When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

and Khalil GibranImage via Wikipedia

"For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one."

So it is with the outlook that life and death are one, and the death of a loved one is a natural passage to what I like to call "Blissville" that I step into the year 2011, with hope, love and delight, those sweet crumbs that seem to feed and sustain us human beings, we spirits in human bodies.

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