Saturday, December 17, 2016

Here (Wallingford CT)

We are here, agreeable.
Entwined like vineyard vines; a village
with commons and parade ground.
A riverside place of Puritan roots, whole
tribes cleaned like fowl and fish
their proudest names in covert
remembrance as rivers, and trails.

We are here, agreeable.
Where crossroads of four corners, so rare
to be perpendicular among the confluence
of hills. Grandma Moses vistas; planted
steeples, barns, and seasonal trees
Elm, Oak, Yew and Chestnut. 
Each rival nature in long years. In-filled
with Evergreens and orchards, and streets 
lined with blossoming pear.

We are here, agreeable.
Sans many grandiose homesteads, inns and means.
Historic traces in pewter, silver, and smiths.
Parks and buildings ceremoniously christened.
Community beyond calamities, actual and imaginary,
Indians, beasts, famine, the great white plague;
a disease or Other, French, Dutch or Devil,

We are here, agreed.
Beyond ‘stretched to the highest tension’
of trains, of tracks, of cable, of speech.
An incubator for Masons, sanitariums, private
schools, societies - secret or just safe. Moose
Elk and Bear bridge the boundaries of heritage
and markers declare Americana: George
passed through – here.

We are here, agreed.
Sans dragoman, yet a King
An Emperor, Czar, a few godfathers
and Dragons among an army of partisans
Few foolhardy in dissent.  Bullets in descendant’s
hands; now needles in young arms.  As if
it were the fittest missionary. Still. Our history
brings hands to our ears.

We are here, central to all.
Gatherers of stone for fountains
and gazebos forsaken, updated or gone.
Protectors and poets. Creative bedfellows.
Winds rise.  Rain renews. 
Agreeable Souls take root.
A stone wall protects our dead.

Acknowledgement: The History of Wallingford by Charles Stanley 
"Our Ancestors wrought in a magnanimous spirit of rivalry with Nature, or in kindly fellowship with her When they planted,they chose out her trees of longest life, the Oak, the Chestnut, the Yew, the Elm, trees which it does us good to behold, while we muse on the many generations of our Forefathers whose eyes have reposed within the same leafy bays."                                             HARE'S Guesses at Truth.

Wallingford Settled
Indians, wild beasts, famine, cold, the diseases that lurk along the borders of new     settlements, " the French, the Dutch, the devil," and all other calamities, actual and imaginary, that kept their faculties constantly stretched to the highest tension, gave them no time to look backward. Other men retreated from the world to avoid its cares;  they fled to the solitude of nature to begin life anew. 
Purchase of Indian Land:  
In 1774, there were but four Indians in Wallingford. When the town was first settled the Indians were very much disliked, and in more than one instance, when the hat or        contribution box was carried round in the meeting house for money to christianize Indians, instead of a coin, a bullet was dropped in, as if it were the fittest missionary.   Children were often quieted by the cry, "The Indians are coming "! 

Backes explosion Wallingford May 29, 1952. | Courtesy Wallingford Public Library
Backes explosion Wallingford May 29, 1952. | Courtesy Wallingford Public Library
Mattabesett Trail CT Blue Trail System Begins off Route 68. Has one of several George Washington Route markers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Name I am called

I reflect on names often. 
Names are power and naming art – fine, text or metaphorical - an underrated skill. (Graduate School paper-2002)
I muse about why I remember some, forget others. 
The power in dropping names. The cultural expectation of name changes.
The confluence of 1950's babies called Susan. The name that sticks 
from childhood. The name friends call you. The name that works best for the day job.
The name that estranged children of steps should call you.
It will not be a paternal title as that is not who I am.
Eventually it may be the name friends call me - because I have done what friends do - 
provide the safety net that enables life to be less harsh. 

I am not a girl named Sue.

Apparently Personal

A name I am called ‘chirps’ out
inquisitive about what I find to my liking
A watch behind the glass case, jewelry in a tangle 
at a tag sale, socks to make comfortable shoes...

I am a mystery that changed her life
Brought her into a zone, re-positioning home

She is daddy’s other little girl, the unexpected
continuation of a faded union, the turf
of parenthood. Still young, enough
to welcome mother in any carnation – recreated
But not familiar like flesh, or morning or cereal with milk,
Parent poured from the gallon jug.

She accepts nurturing 
like a school lesson or vegetable pills, easier to swallow.

Her phrasing of my first name becomes us
in its lacking, in its echo,  
in the absence of mother-less requests
A name I am called, retained since my girlhood, speaks volumes
In her step-zone, as we appear apparently personal
Like poems in the first person.

~ adele houston
1st draft written after hearing Maxine Kumin speak & share in New Haven  2001 International Festival of Ideas. She died in 2014 at the age of double infinity 88.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Markings, Revisited

A Jazz Peace
In reflection with Markings by Dag Hammarskjold

Clap …   … clap, clap
It can take 40 days.
Notice the Markings. Listen for the Lead.
Seek as if to find melody in jazzscape.
The longest journey is the journey inward.

Am I ready, readied
by the life lead. Graced by manna mornings
of verse and parable, graced enough
to be in stillness before beguiling oases,
ridden of carnal flashbacks.
Superficial, fleeting wonder and greed …hindering

Each tapping foot-imprinted. Forward-
back to the calling forth. Knees
grass stained with determination,
forehead glistening with sweet water
of tempered dedication.
Liberate, ..irrespective of the consequences to yourself.

No time to discern.
The conductor pierces the moment: “Here we go”
Sax then Bass. Piano keys riff. Trumpets putt.
No solo in this flight. Every cavity of being
transported as played before
but never jazzed like this.
Clap …   … clap, clap

There is reverb devotion. Echoed Praise. Contagious
adoration of the Markings. My cavities fills. My hands
come together.
Clap …   … clap, clap
Never for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experience.

Hiswillbedone – a jazz peace.