Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And Who Writes Here?


A Day's Memorial

Atop one of the bookshelves in another room in my home sits the triangularly-folded American Flag given me at the gravesite of my father back in 1993.
Dad's death came upon us quite suddenly. We had long anticipated his passing as the years wore on - our unspoken suspicion that it would be liver failure that would get him.
We were right.

When our fears were realized things happened quickly. From  the time of diagnosis to the grave site was six or seven weeks in February and March, 1993 when I drove the 800 miles to Idaho so we four adult children could meet with his Doctor. Then a drive back to Idaho a few weeks later in March for his funeral.

As the oldest son I was allowed to speak at Dad's service in the church in the small town where I grew up - a village from which Dad rarely strayed over most of his life. The longest time away was his service in the war.

I remember standing at the podium in that funeral service and looking into faces of folks old and young whom I'd seen in that church practically every week for the first 19 years of my life.

I recall assuring all the devout and not-so-devout  who had come to the service that although my Dad had not been a church-goer, was not temple-endowed (an LDS thing) nor temple-married, none of that mattered to God. There was joy in heaven when Dad showed up.

I grew up in a house Dad paid $47 a month to purchase in a town four blocks wide and four blocks long that sheltered less than 500 souls.

My earliest memories of Dad working are at the gas station he ran in the late 40's and early 50's. Then he became a John Deere farm-implement salesman all over the Southeastern corner of Idaho.

Dad did alright selling tractors cause lots of farmers knew him as the singer and sax player in a three-man combo that played every Friday and Saturday night for 20 years from the Wyoming line to Pocatello.

That was my Dad as I grew up knowing him.

I didn't know what he did in the war until one night when I was playing on a kids' Morse code toy connected by a long wire to the neighbor kid next door. Dad got a big grin, went into a closet and pulled out a large chrome or silver electronic Morse-code device that was much more than push down on a cheap plastic tab.

After plugging it in he laid his arm on the table so that the end piece fit between his thumb and first finger and began moving his wrist back and forth causing the metal key to touch connectors on each side at the other end. They emitted a beeping sound. Dih-dih-dih, dah-dah-dah and all that.

He folded up the newspaper and although he hadn't touched the device to my knowledge since the late 40's he proceeded immediately to "send."

He tapped out an entire Salt Lake Tribune newspaper article at an incredible speed that sounded like it might be as fast or faster than I could have read it aloud.  

That was his duty - among other things - that he did in the war while stationed on the Aleutian Islands . He sent, received and monitored radio transmissions out over the Pacific.

He didn't talk about it.

So far as we knew he had no apparent combat scars and never had to fire a weapon in anger at anybody. There were a couple of photo albums of Dad in training in Missouri and Wisconsin followed by pages of Aleutian shots - mostly quonset-hut barracks.

But Lietta and I watched a show in the past year about how back then Japan took one of those Aleutian Islands and the Americans had to fight like hell to throw them back out.

Those were the years Dad was there but I never heard him talk about those events and to this day none of us know whether he participated in battle.

When I was growing up Dad belonged to the American Legion - which meant very little to me until the day I was called to the High School office and was told that I had been selected to go to the Idaho Boys State (a summertime mini-legislature at the State Capitol.)

My mother said it was because among boys my age  eligible to go, it was my Dad's active membership in the American Legion that gave me an edge.

No, he didn't talk much about what he did in the war.

My younger brother and I are also Veterans who in the 1960's enlisted within six weeks of each other. We both held Security Clearances and neither of us talked at all about what we did back then.

We were Cold Warriors, but Dad's was Hot.

None of us talked about it casually ... ever.

You served, you paid attention to your duties and kept most of it to yourself.

We learned to be just like Dad.

In his later years we all had become somewhat estranged from Dad because of his drinking and deliberate quest to be alone all the time.

My mother divorced Dad when I was in my early thirties and living in Texas.

Dad didn't move far away from that $47-a-month house. I remember visiting him when I was in my late 30's and he was living in an apartment 16 miles from where he had raised me.

The room was mostly dark, the curtains drawn and the television was always on. I knew he had the TV schedule for all three network channels memorized. He once told me he was ready for us to leave cause one of "his shows" was about to come on.

There was no bookshelf in his living room - just a night stand next to his lazy-boy. There were a couple of photograph albums full of pictures taken in the late 30's, 40's and early 50's. There was also a thick and heavy remembrance book about World War II.

I have that book and those albums on the same bookshelf where the tri-corner Flag sits atop it on the highest shelf.

After the funeral we drove less than a mile to the town cemetery. It was cold and the wind was blowing  but there was a fine group of family and friends who watched as his flag-draped casket was off-loaded from the mortuary limousine and in short order lowered into the ground.

I don't remember who retrieved the flag from that casket but when he gave that Flag to an American Veteran's son, the son finally cried.

Arthur Ruger of Bay Center talks about his views of the Iraq war with Congressman Brian Baird at a town hall meeting at Raymond High School on Saturday. Ruger and his wife, Lietta, have a nephew and a son-in-law currently serving in the military.
And who Writes here?

A Viet Nam era military Veteran, Arthur Ruger is a social worker, poet and writer on politics, religion and spirituality.

Click on image to learn about this novel.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I woke up last night thinking about Dick Cheney

I sit in the evening on the tailgate of my little Toyota
an hour after sunset
... contemplating resistance
... armed with my trusty air rifle
... pockets full of bb’s and bird shot
... and a hope that if I have to shoot someone
I’ll at least hit then in the eye.

Hell, I don't know.
Not who nor when, But damn!
Something's happening here.
Any attempt to usurp power
will lead to civil resistance
in one form or another.

Maybe government agents are coming
sent on errands about which
I have no comprehension.
maybe civil warriors
supporting a resistance
that takes no prisoners!

Folks like that know me
will come... one the run
and I, like Zhivago
will be drafted into
someone's rebel army
... joining not THE FIGHT

If you say no, some semi-armed
semi-intelligent mob
on your door step
with guns - and says -
"Give us all your assets!
We claim them
in the name of the people!

Down with the government!
Impeach them all
- legally or otherwise!"
Maybe my bb-gun will stop them
… well, at least one or two of them,
whoever they are
or will be.

They Cheney-ites building
new Guantanamoes
on the mainland.
Rumored concentration camps
the government builds
to protect me
from THEM.

THEM are the one's
who will follow us home if we leave.
Busheviks aren't really thinking about THEM.
They're thinking about me
and you
anybody willing to speak up or hunker down
who dares them to take us out.

I wonder ... martial law is still in
the legal maneuver stage
and resistance is still in
the talk-about-it stage.
An owl hoots;
somewhere off to the left
I can hear crickets.

Out on the highway lights trickle by
from both directions
... chasing their damn errands
contemplating nothing more than
the next curve and cruise control
and whatever is blaring
from the CD device of choice.

For all I know some Pentagon crack stealth team
or NSA crack eavesdropping machine
is out there
watching or listening
... in their best Homeland Security style.
Cause people like me who pop off
might be threats.

"Homeland?" …. Did they originally call it that
as a code word for all neo-nazified agitators
.. who hearken back
to the original Fuhrer
and his ranting
about things German
as things “homeland?”

Course then I'm just a conspiracy nut;
paranoid and headed for somebody's formal loony bin
cause I see enemies
where only well-meaning patriots
plot my well-being.
Cause I'm still a voter
who could vote for the other party.

Time was you could raise a reporter's eyebrows
with talk of plots and corruptions,
lies and liars,
fanatics and ideologues.
Not any more.
Only liars, fanatics and ideologues
approved by corporate HQ.

It’s damn amazing how a dollar has proven more powerful
than Machiavelli-modelled sneakiness
of some reputed political genius.
We’ve lost our publishing sentinels
not because the government
threatened them, but because
the dollar beckoned

The loss of being "on the inside" scared the hell out of them.
As if being on the inside with a mafia don
who could willingly snuff out your life
on a whim,
- "Nothing personal, just business." -
is safer than safeguarding folks who would
really fight for you.

Coping with news we can't trust,
we have polarized ourselves even more.
We’ve sat hypnotized,
and mindlessly entertained
by the most shallow broadcast quality
ever offered.

We worry about acid reflux,
hair restoration techniques,
pills that let us breathe hile we mow the lawn
... and hard-on pills
that promise and
dare us
to risk 36-hour boners.

How could we focus on more serious stuff?
Throw in the born-again foolishness
of the dumbed-down
religious blowhards.
It’s easy to realize just how long
we the people have been
ripe for the picking.

So many god damn problems
- probably too many to solve and
way too late to avoid disaster.
6 years of a fool for a president,
republican political sheep
too intimidated, too greedy
and too afraid to step out of line;

opposed by a pitiful party that has
even fewer elected members
with spines
made of something
other than tofu.
They dont have "the votes,"

Not all the resistance lights are green.only a few.
Some are still frightfully red. The ability to compromise
became an overrated and overstated virtue
following the last three elections.
Repuglicans knew it
... but Demo’s sure as hell
couldn’t see it.

Now there is no such thing as checks and balances,
no such thing as three
branches of government.
Just wait until some fool wants to pass
some kind of
“In God We Trust” amendment.

There’ll be no such thing as separation
of church and state.
Theocracy is armed and ready.
The fools are going to engage us in an endless war
with every Middle Eastern Nation except Israel,
... who sits there

Because thats what our fools want
... not to protect us,
but because they want the chaos.
It serves their purposes.
Like the ignorant bully in the school yard,
the fools are engaged
in trying to intimidate
the rest of the playground

when all the other kids know the truth
and aren’t afraid. The Euro will triumph
aided and abetted by the Yuan
and will replace the dollar
as the global standard
and the fools can’t do anything about it
- or perhaps don't give a damn.

So what's coming down the pike?
I don't think very many are beyond
classic denial ... and won't understand
at the very moment
when suddenly the 1st Amendment
is no more. by mere pretext we will all be forced
to shut the fuck up.

The young, the restless; the pretend sophisticators
are in denial.
They believe few of my old veteran worries.
These are the same folks who honestly plan
for a future that began to fade in November 2001
... when the fake conservatives osing as Republicans
got their wettest dream;

a built-in excuse to start l
bullying and scheming
to get their way ...
and their dollars.
take away our way of doing business
... the old fashioned way.

Doofusness; The incumbent sitting Lame Duck American President

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