National Poetry Month: Whitman Weekend & Boys’ Night Out

I get a kick out of thinking of wild-minded Walt Whitman and the decidedly staid Emily Dickinson as something between Adam and Eve and a prism.  There was American poetry before, and American poetry after the pair–but almost everything before led to them and everything after sprung from them, through them, and what didn’t was still illuminated by their refracted light.  I imagine some sort of cultural birth story–Walt Whitman as father figure, consuming all the verse from history before him, processing it into a seed, then planting it deep in the womb of Dickinson, the “Virgin Belle of Amherst”–it’s conveniently very Christ-like, when one thinks of it.

Some of my favorite memories include a series of nights, back in the way back, when I worked for several summers in Grand Teton National Park.  It was a rather transitional time for me, arriving in Wyoming on the heels of a few dark years, embarrassingly sullen and depressed and emerging a few years later a completely different person, rippling with joy, affection, gratitude and an enthusiastic optimism which must have, to those who followed me through, seemed both cloying and redundant, certainly worth a good bit of head-shaking and eye-rolling.  It’s an odd process, having to learn to be happy.

But I digress.  Among the many great people who charitably shared their friendship with me–a few of whom stop by this blog now and again–were a great bunch of guys who shared my affinity for both playground basketball and poetry, two of the closest things to religion I’ve had in my life.  You guys know who you are. One evening, after beating the crap out of each other at a parking lot hoop, we went looking for some trouble only to hear from our friend Kim that a bunch of girls were going into town, but we weren’t welcome.  “It’s a girl’s night out, sorry” she drawled, in the sweetest Carolina voice I’d ever heard.

Chuck Wagon,

Chuck Wagon,

We were immediately indignant, but undeterred.  We’d have ourselves a “boys night out” and, girls be damned, we’d have a hell of a time.  We wasted no time loading up the back of my old station wagon with firewood, sleeping bags, a bounty of cheap canned beer (Busch?  Keystone? shiver at the thought), and some books and rolled out to a favorite camping spot near “the Buddha stump” on Pacific Creek–an improbably big cut stump in a wash at the edge of about 8 million acres of wilderness.  Our goal: build a big-ass “white man’s fire*,” drink beer, and talk shit on the wimmin who’d abandoned us.

Old Scans_322

Jeff sitting on the Buddha Stump, Pacific Creek campsite, 1990

We stoked a blaze, flipped some pop-tops, and got onto the disrespecting women, at which point, to our great consternation, our failure was evident–it quickly became obvious that we loved women, possibly more than we loved ourselves, missed them, had nothing at all bad to say about them, and quite frankly wished that we had some with us** right at that moment.

Talk about depressing.

But we moved on to the poetry, and quickly discovered that we shared an appreciation for Mr. Whitman, who quickly became Poet Laureate of Boy’s Night Out–an irony we appreciated only many years later.  We read, drank, and bullshitted deep into the night before, too tired and too drunk to continue, we fell asleep in the dusty soil around the fire–taking time to all piss on it, surrounded by fresh, empty, scattered beer cans in the heart of Grizzly country.  Genius.

images66The Boys Night Out theme was repeated, with various personnel added to the core, several times–though probably not as many, or as often, as my memories encourage me to believe.  When Steve got married (to one of those women who went to town without us on that fateful night), his local stag party was Boys Night Out Writ Large–though I didn’t sleep in the dirt, but in the cab of Jeff’s truck, having spilled beer down my shirt and become paranoid about being bear bait.

Of all the electric verse we quoted on those nights, I can’t help (owing to my supreme, juvenile nature, I’m sure) thinking of this one first–in which the overtly gay Whitman, who vacillated between denying his sexuality one day and playing coy about it the next, overcompensates his testament to heterosexuality just a little too obviously, not to mention humorously.

Leaves of Grass 106. To a Common Prostitute

BE composed—be at ease with me—I am Walt Whitman, liberal and lusty as Nature;
Not till the sun excludes you, do I exclude you;
Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you, and the leaves to rustle for you, do my words refuse to glisten and rustle for you.

My girl, I appoint with you an appointment—and I charge you that you make preparation to be worthy to meet me,
And I charge you that you be patient and perfect till I come.

Till then, I salute you with a significant look, that you do not forget me.


*from the line in that year’s hit movie Dances With Wolves, “only a white man would build such a big fire.”
**the happily married 47-year old me smiles at the idea of being unable to summon up words to whine about women–ah, to be young and single…actually, no thanks.


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Friday Morning Rock & Roll Idols: Husker Du

The best live bad, maybe ever…Diane, Hate Paper Doll, and Green Eyes.

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Cliven Bundy A Thief, Not A Hero

Redneck TeaBagger Hypocrisy

Federal land managers say “escalating tensions” led them to release all 400 or so head of cattle rounded up on public land in southern Nevada from a rancher who has refused to recognize their authority.

iwent1Let’s look out to Nevada for a moment, where Bureau of Land Management officials recently backed off an effort to round up and remove around 900 head of cattle owned by a anarchist rancher who had refused to pay grazing fees for the rights to have his animals there.  A fellow named Cliven Bundy stopped paying his grazing fees to run his herd on public land way back in 1993, citing his refusal to acknowledge the authority of the federal government and have continued, over the past two decades, to graze his cattle on public land despite a succession of court judgements against him.

When Bureau of Land Management officials finally moved to confiscate the Bundy cattle in lieu of over a million dollars in unpaid fees, Mr. Bundy and his family rounded up a herd of gun-toting friends and supporters to threaten and intimidate the government employees sent to enforce the law–and a horde of Jason Bean, APTeabaggers, many of them armed,  and militia-types rushed to the scene, eager for confrontation.  They prayed, they rode horses around to let photographers take some iconic-flavored images while the national anthem played in the background. I heard nothing that indicates any of them saw the irony in waving the flag of a nation they have chosen to defy and disrespect, the flag of a people from whom they have chosen to steal.

Because it is stealing.  A nation is, ultimately, an agreement among individuals to share the benefits and responsibilities of a community, and part of that responsibility includes paying a fair share.  While I understand that from time to time individuals may develop hardships, when a prosperous rancher chooses not to pay fees for the use of land that all of us own together, and continues to to do so for twenty goddamn years it’s not a matter of poverty or protest.  This guy Jason Bean 2, APsimply knows a good score when he sees one.  And here’s the truth of it: for two decades Mr. Bundy got a free ride on the backs of fair-minded, tax-paying citizens, including you and me–and lets’ be clear, grazing cattle isn’t like letting your dog run at the park: cattle leave a huge impact on the land, and ranching is a business; Mr. Bundy and his family have made a good living off public land.  But now, when he’s finally run out of luck, when it’s time to face the music, Mr. Bundy resents having to carry his own water, so to speak.

Worse still, craven conservative lawmakers in Nevada, Arizona and nearby Utah–sensing a chance to score valuable points with the lunatic fringe– have moved to defend Mr. Bundy, along with the usual, cynical muckrakers at Fox News and the like, framing this as an issue of freedom (for Cliven) against a increasingly tyrannical federal government.  The w2-ranch-a-20140414-870x602Governor of Utah had a hand in the mess when he forbade the confiscated cattle to enter that state, and the Governor of Nevada condemned the BLM outright, saying “”No cow justifies the atmosphere of intimidation which currently exists nor the limitation of constitutional rights that are sacred to all Nevadans. The BLM needs to reconsider its approach to this matter and act accordingly.”

Which is rich indeed.  These same people make a hobby of railing on about lazy or cheating welfare recipients and alleged public assistance frauds, all the while backing a man who has audaciously and contemptuously continued to steal on a magnificent level

Some fault lies with the BLM here.  Letting this go on for two decades has created in Mr. Bundy and people like him an expectation–a sense of entitlement.  They’ve come to regard their constant thievery, and the total lack of accountability, as a right, a privilege, a matter of freedom.  The guns have a lot to do about this.  All of the US agencies responsible for situations like this learned to tread lightly around gun-toting individualists following the twin tragedies at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, TX years ago–learning that aggressive authoritarianism and weapons-wielding wacko extremism don’t mix.  But what do you do when all non-confrontational avenues have failed–and twenty years of the Bundys thumbing their noses at legal and bureaucratic efforts to hold them to their responsibilities is pretty obviously a failure.

Mr Bundy, had this to say: “”I abide by all of Nevada state laws. But I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing,”  This isn’t exactly true, as Nevada’s constitution specifically acknowledges the authority of the federal government, but from what we’ve seen he doesn’t waste much time on truth.

Mr Bundy belongs in jail.  He is a practicing anarchist, and thus far more insulting to our society than those kids who wear masks and break windows while playing at some juvenile idea of anarchy, and has practiced sedition (incitement of discontent or rebellion against a government) in inciting this confrontation as a smoke screen to obscure his crimes.

However, if Mr. Bundy doesn’t admit that America exists, why not return the favor by revoking his citizenship and deporting the entire Bundy family?   If our way of  life is such an affront to their sense of freedom.  I mean, I don’t get to pick and choose the taxes that I pay, or the laws I follow, but this is the great irony of the extreme Right.  They condemn and preach deportation for millions of hard-working immigrants who are desperate, DESPERATE to be a part of our nation, because these people are supposedly taking from “real Americans” while simultaneously refusing to meet their own commitments–which  results is exactly the same damn thing.  I’d much rather have a hundred dawn-to-dusk-working Mexican immigrants in my community than a handful of bitch-ass rednecks waving AR-15s and Gadsden flags around, whining about their “freedom.”

But that’s just me.


from Wikipedia:

United States v. Bundy

The case of United States v. Bundy played out over many years in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada. It involved court orders, injunctions, and notices. Bundy argued that the land belongs to the state.[3] The court ruled that the land on which Bundy was grazing his cattle was indeed owned by the federal government, that he had not been paying to use it as he should have been, that Bundy and his cattle were trespassing, and that the government had the right to enforce the injunctions against trespass. The court found that Bundy repeatedly violated the court orders and continued to have his cattle trespass.[3][4]

Legal actions 1998 to 2012

United States v. Bundy “arose out of Bundy’s unauthorized grazing of his livestock on property owned by the United States and administered by the Department of the Interior through the BLM and the National Park Service.” According to the case, “On November 3, 1998, the Court issued an order permanently enjoining Bundy from grazing his livestock on the former Bunkerville Allotment (‘The Allotment’), and ordering him to remove his livestock no later than November 30, 1998, and pay damages to the United States in the amount of $200 per day per head for any remaining livestock on the allotment after November 30, 1998.” The court stated that “[t]he government has shown commendable restraint in allowing this trespass to continue for so long without impounding Bundy’s livestock.”[4] On September 17, 1999, after Bundy failed to comply with the court’s earlier order(s), the court issued another order directing Bundy to comply with the 1998 permanent injunction and modifying the trespass damages owed.[3][4][5]

Legal actions 2012 to 2014

The cattle expanded into additional public lands over the years. In May of 2012, the United States again initiated United States v. Bundy,[a] seeking relief for Bundy’s trespassing on a new set of additional lands not covered by the original 1998 ruling. On December 21, 2012 the United States moved for summary judgment in this new case. This motion was granted in an order signed by Judge Lloyd D. George on July 9 2013. The ruling permanently enjoined Bundy and his cattle from trespassing on the Bunkerville Allotment, the Gold Butte area, and parts of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.[6] Another order was issued in October 8, 2013, stemming from the earlier 1998 civil action against Bundy. The orders allow the United States to protect the land from Bundy and to seize any of his cattle that remains in those areas.[4]



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National Poetry Month: Raymond Carver

HOPE   By Raymond Carver

“My wife,” said Pinnegar, “expects to see me go to
the dogs when she leaves me. It is her last hope.”
–D. H. Lawrence, “Jimmy and the Desperate Woman”

She gave me the car and two
hundred dollars. Said, So long, baby.
Take it easy, hear? So much
for twenty years of marriage.
She knows, or thinks she knows,
I’ll go through the dough
in a day or two, and eventually
wreck the car–which was
in my name and needed work anyway.
When I drove off she and her boy-
friend were changing the lock
on the front door. They waved.
I waved back to let them know
I didn’t think any the less
of them. Then sped toward
the state line. I was hellbent.
She was right to think so.

I went to the dogs, and we
became good friends.
But I kept going. Went
a long way without stopping.
Left the dogs, my friends, behind,
Nevertheless, when I did show
my face at that house again,
months, or years, later, driving
a different car, she wept
when she saw me at the door.
Sober. Dressed in a clean shirt,
pants, and boots. Her last hope
She didn’t have a thing
to hope for anymore.

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Random Found Photo: Spring Frolic, With Automatic Weapons

Before you ask, I have no idea….










About these posts and the photos in ‘em:

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School Safety – A Tale of Two Incidents


I’ve been intending to write about two seemingly unrelated incidents in regional schools–both shocking, but in very different ways. Mr. Linko beat me to it. Look for more to follow.

Originally posted on John Linko:

Those of us who, as high school students, remember having to slog through the then-unappreciated prose of Charles Dickens , probably remember this one really long sentence:

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,

we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way— in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

What Dickens was describing…

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National Poetry Month:

I Hope I Don’t Have You Next Semester, But


before you step out
hold your ear down close to the conch
and see can you make out

by Edwin Godsey


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