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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Comradarie

Fishin’ in the Gulf Stream
By GC 

The gas gauge reads below the half way mark
maybe enough fuel left to get back to home port;
the storm’s howling winds and the currents and
the battering wave action dictate fuel consumption
and headway made toward safety or lost toward death at sea

Our boat’s deep vee slices through turmoiled sea,
we hang on as its bow rises, climbs the back of huge rollers
and then it dips as the boat slides from this giant wave's apex
and crashes to its trough only to climb again on the next wave 
and the next, and the next and the next, and the never ending next

An ice packed blue marlin shrouded in a plastic sheet
lies dead on the deck, its huge inert eye stares and admonishes
our searching for adventure and foolishly challenging nature’s Gods.
Eerily, it is as if the murdered sea creature could judge and render guilty 
we puny mortals who would take to the sea with temerity to challenge the fates 

But wait, in the distance a slice of blue shows against storm skies,
a break in the weather that has tossed our twenty foot center console
like a child’s toy boat or a rubber ducky whirling in the jets of a Jacuzzi.
The storm abates and giant waves begin to settle as wind’s current slackens
the prop digs as I throttle back to swing the boat west toward home and safety

At the dock we take the scale to weigh our trophy marlin,
it is a large one but not quite enough to challenge the local record.
Still we slap each others backs and raise our beers to toast our catch
to toast our skills with rod and reel, to toast undying friendship forged in peril,
swearing one to the other to go out again to the stream and catch the record fish

BOOKS FOR CHRISTMAS

http://www.amazon.com/GC-Smith/e/B005HIPJSI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Sunday, December 8, 2013

ANNOUNCING: IN GOOD FAITH

In Good Faith:  A Johnny Donal P.I. Novel.  Available in print at:

CLICKY

________________________________


Or in E-book format on Kindle at:

CLICKY

Sunday, December 1, 2013

New Novel

IN GOOD FAITH
A Johnny Donal P.I. Novel

available on Kindle

CLICKY

Soon in Print edition.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Need to know:

A Passive-Aggressive Formula
By GC

Rebel over 
honey dos
--never,

just say, 
yes dear, 
then sneak off

I keep
golf clubs
in my truck

There is 
an Igloo cooler
in there too

Thursday, November 28, 2013

No Big Blow

A Walk In The Wind
By GC

Hurricane season came and went
and no ill wind raised its hell
I didn’t have to batten hatches
and wait for swirling winds to pass

No hunkering down from wind this year
no cleaning up after weather’s wrath
no raging winds splintering trees
no ripping off of the roof over me

It’s been quiet and calm this year
and that’s sure, ok, all-right with me
nothing bad came our way at all
the walk in the wind was a breeze

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Let's all sing, like ...

Things With Wings
by GC

Hummingbird

Stand still on beating wings
above the crimson petals
dip to the flower's heart
and drink sustaining nectar
of life, of strength, of freedom

Osprey

Out over the marsh
an osprey dives steeply:
outstretched talons
slap into the stream

Blue sky is regained
with carried mullet,
bitty baby birdie food
taken to the nest

Outstretched beaks
clamor for lunch
brought by Poppa
for Moms hungry brood

Now, babies grown,
the ospreys depart
for Brazilian waters
and winter's warmth

Come spring
the ospreys return
to familiar nests
and new families

Mom and Pop
nurture new nestlings
in a remembered home
on the salt marsh piling


Painted Bunting

Like Joseph's,
yours is a coat
of many colors
that makes your lady
green with envy.


Cardinal

Crimson brilliance
hides your feisty nature,
you who delight in
crowding other
feathered friends
from the feeder;
and, oh yeah,
while I'm bitchin',
your gal is less than
delighted with her drab coat.

Snowy Egret

Craak, craak, craak
,that guttural complaint
issued as you fight
with your
blue heron brother
over a tiny
silver fish
puts lie
to your
pure white plumage
and elegant bearing




Sunday, November 24, 2013

Of Time

Dawn Won’t Come Again
by GC Smith

Now that time has passed me by
days that have flown won't dawn again

I'll never race at Watkins Glen
I'll never climb the Eiger

Now that time has passed me by
days that have flown won't dawn again

I'll not win the Nobel prize
great ideas won't germinate

Now that time has passed me by
years flown by won't come again

No dalliance with Sophia Loren
whose time has also passed

Now that time has passed me by
years flown by won't come again

Pass I must on bucking horses
my bones are now too brittle

Now that time has passed me by
days that have flown won't dawn again

I'll never fly a fighter plane
land on a postage stamp at sea

Now that time has passed me by
days that have flown won't dawn again

I'll not set the world afire
with these my fading embers

Now that time has passed me by
it's gone and cannot be recaptured

Yesterday was yesterday
first light came then flew away

But, I look back on yesterday
and sometimes dream it's yet tomorrow

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gettin' on

Intimations of Mortality
by GC Smith


My  joints complain

Complaints not against
that young athlete
who pushed body feats
to outer endurance limits
and even then would not quit

My brain falters

It frequently farts
stumbles over my name
while yours is lost to the ether;
it now suffers a nascent dementia,
Irish style, remembering only grudges

My heart speaks

It murmurs
a bumbling, offbeat cadence
that is neither  poetry nor prose
but, rather, is a coded message
about the inexorability of time

My guts say

Soldier on,
it’s what to do,
it’s nothing new,
it’s simply the way,
it’s life worth the livin’

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Unique and Unafraid

POWER
By GC SMITH


The Story of My Birth

Stars twinkled merriment
shouted, look a fool is born
sucker for the fleecers
circus child forlorn

Moon smiles and laughs
he’s sure one for the books
silly foolish circus child
with his deformed looks

Clouds say they will part
reveal for all to see
circus child and his art
fooling you and me

Circus child has a mind
much like a steel trap
isn’t bothered by the taunts
or any other crap

Circus child lives alone
visions in his head
doesn’t give a hoot
if you’re alive or dead

He’s powerful, he’s not forlorn
despite his deformed looks
and he isn’t hurt by taunts
’cause he’s one for the books

And you, you stars and moons
who shine above the earth
you should be ashamed
of your mocking of my birth

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Way back when

Saturday
By GC

Nineteen-hundred and forty-six
eight years old and flush, with
fifteen whole cents in my pocket;
enough for a Hopalong Cassidy,
a Zorro, or a Lash LaRue fix
and a nickel left for a candy bar
but I had to wait forever for the
noon opening of the Crystal theater
aka the "Bucket of Blood" and the
thunder of hooves, the report of the
never emptied six shooters, the slash
marks of the rapier, the crack of the
bullwhip, movietone news, and Daffy Duck
and all of the silver screen adventures
of my Saturday afternoon boyhood, even
on occasion a bare breasted African woman
or a stampedeing herd of striped Zebras

#2

That same year (1946), early
on a Saturday morning, the
self-same eight year old
was, for the sin of talking
aloud in the shhh of the public
library, banished; so, on the way
out of the building he told the
Librarian what she could do
with her library, ripped up his card
and tossed it on her desk.  A
week went by and pride swallowed
he came back and apologized, and
she graciously issued a new card, and
even  more graciously never said a
word to his Mom, and so, through
her goodwill his affair with books
filled with wonders of  the world
resumed with barely a hitch.

Some say, however, he never did
learn to keep his mouth shut.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Martini anyone?

Nasty Day
By GC SMITH

Gloom is on the marsh today
the sky is spitting ice cold rain
trees turned to shades of grey
beneath the pewtered clouds

I think I'll light the fireplace
and curl up with a good book
I'll cover myself with an afghan
to keep me from the cold

It's nasty and it's mean outside
but I, for one, will be staying in
I'll not see sun pass the yardarm
to say it's time to pour the gin

So, I'll mix me a dirty, dry Martini
pour it into a classic stemmed glass
And if you dare tell me I must  wait
I’ll simply tell you to kiss my ass

So go on, go and mind your business
'cause, as for me,  I will not listen
I'm gonna do what I want to do
on this shitty cold wet autumn day


Loose Lips

Foot In Mouth
By GC

I never
ever 
know what I
mean to say
but I say it
anyway

I open
up my
trap 
and utter
crap
spills out

It’s what I 
shouldn’t
do, 
but you 
know I’ll do it 
anyway

It’s just 
the way
I am,
but why
I sure don’t
know

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Bad for people

Shamans, Priests, Shysters
By GC

Chants, incantations
bodies and blood
sacrificial lambs
hearts ripped out
make for theater
but nowhere truth

Friday, November 1, 2013

Baddies

They Walk The Night
By GC SMITH

Beware the night, when darkness hides
the Hags, the Hants, the Ghosts, and 
yes my dears, Plat Eyes, Boo-Daddies;
the fearsome five from depths of hell

Lowcountry dark is eerie, spooky;
pale moonlight filters strange shadows
through the Spanish moss that seems like 
putrid flesh sloughed from ancient skulls 

Beware, the night when darkness hides, 
the fearsome five that walk upon earth;
quake in fear behind painted portals, 
pray that your Gods ward off the spirits

Lowcountry Gullah legend warns us 
it is wise to stay behind locked doors;
blue painted portals will protect, but 
do not be certain, rather, be afraid

Creatures come to take the little babies 
and bring them to their chilling lairs;
specters lick lips through vile rictus 
and bear their fangs before they feast

Blood they seek; blood they need;
blood to satisfy their undead lusts:
ghouls find their feast in flesh,
so guard your babies with your lives

Spooks may find breaches in a portal
to slither through and find their food;
pray that you're safely locked within,
pray for the children, pray for yourselves

The Gullah-Geechee life is cruel,
hard scrabble times the lot of most,
and now comes the fear of creatures foul
who would terrorize Lowcountry night

Tomorrow is another day, when light returns
and daylight promises that terror will subside;
that is that the morrow will find you safe and yet alive
Still, beware the night, when darkness hides those five

Monday, October 28, 2013

Home

My Carolina Lowcountry
By GC SMITH

Bald eagles and Ospreys soar over my beloved estuarine marshes,
shrimp and crab and all manner of fish populate the saltwater;
spartina grass changes with seasons much as northern hardwoods do.
It is a wonderland in which I live and draw my soul's sustenance.

Cruise ships, yachts, and pusher boats front loaded with huge barges
ply the intracoastal waterway the runs from Maine to Texas and
pass by my backyard and the tidal creek that allows me access
to that water that can take me to a thousand boating destinations.

Tides come- tides go, regular heartbeats, controlled by the moon's pull.
At the dock's pier head I throw my cast net to get shrimp for my supper
or to catch silvery mullet fry to use as bait for my fishing excursions.
I bring home treasures;redfish, flounder, grouper, now and then a shark

Oh, I've been to Connemara, 
I've seen to Donegal's wild coast, 
and of course, "Dublin's fair city." 

I've been to London town;
I've gone to Paris France:
saw David in Florence and 
Rome's ruins -- Pompey's ghosts.

I've traveled here and there, 
To see wonders that the world offers; and,
as Johnny sang, "I've been everywhere, man."

I don't put those places down but 
for me there just ain't no place like home

Summer has has ended now and winter’s bite is next;
then spring when tree buds swell, brown grass greens as summer comes on. 

Whatever the attraction no other place exists where I could live.

Tree Songs

Listen
by GC

Wind whistles
through palm trees
a alleluia chorus
of green tree frogs
comes in on the upbeat
clatter of the fronds

Live oak branches
wave in wind
while green anoles
write happy songs
of scampering among
resurrection ferns

Slithering snakes
slipping over branches
play assonant-dissonant
compositions
on the bark
of loblolly pines

Nature's tree songs
often joyful,
sometimes eternal
change with the
weather patterns
sometimes become dirges

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Sadness

Desire Doesn’t Run Here Any longer
By GC

A street car in N’Awlins
sits immobile on rusted track
shouting children scare the rats away
so they can play on the immobile transit’s moldy seats
worn weary grown ups trudge past carrying grocery sacks
tradesmen clamber over some few antebellum houses being restored
to shine like jewels alongside filthy rotting, boarded up neighboring hulks

Once joyous riffs from the jazz musicians are now dirges


Sunday, October 13, 2013

These were the guys

FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES
By GC  Smith

George Washington


Chompin' cherries with wooden dentures isn't any fun. Red stains on white painted teeth could make a man blue. Hey, red, white, and blue, great colors for the new flag. If George was with us he'd say: I'll have Martha talk to Betsy about that at next week's Mahjong party. Speaking of Betsy, I'm sure, G.W. would like to sleep there. Ah, to rest his weary head on that lush bosom. But, if Martha ever found out she'd have his hide and he'd be in for even more shoeless camping in the snow. He couldn't afford that, not with Lafayette coming to meet about forming the Escadrille with 'mercan pilots (and more than a century ahead of it's time). I think he'd better go and powder the wig now before meeting time. Lord knows a man can never look too good.


Benjamin Franklin

Busy Ben, a founding father, literally. A common law conjoiner and Pater familias to an illegitimate son. (Though just how a flesh and blood human standing before the world could possibly lack legitimacy has always eluded this chronicler.) But, be that as it may or may not be Ben went on to a continued shocking life. There were inventions galore and amazing scientific enquires, chief among which was the kite and string sting.

Our Ben is likely best remembered for his grand misogyny concerning why a young man should seek the comfort of older women, who were not yet in those days of yore identified by the cutsey appellation --Cougar. His advice: they don’t yell, or tell, or swell, and they’re grateful as hell.

Ah, but there were other sides to this most accomplished man. Lest we forget, despite peccadilloes, Ben also preached virtuousness thereby establishing an unbroken politician's hypocrisy practiced assiduously from the first days of the Republic to this very moment. Ah, yes, busy Ben, stage setter extraordinaire.

Ben Franklin, founding father, pride of the new Nation.




Thomas Jefferson

To truly get a feel for Thomas Jefferson one should take the guided tour of his ancestral home, Monticello, for it is as an innovator we can actually see the great man’s mind at work. Inside the front door of Monticello, mounted on the foyer wall is a clock-calendar. The device not only tells time but it marks the day. To the device’s winding chain Jefferson attached heavy lead weights that dropped day by day, which were noted on the wall.  Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Oops!

The chain unfortunately hit the floor before the week's final day. Was our polymath, Jefferson, deterred. Not in the least. Jefferson cut a hole in the foyer floor so that the weighted chain could continue its decent. Our Monticello guide remarked, “on Saturday Mr. Jefferson’s balls are in the basement.”

Bright fellow that he was you’ll find that Jefferson also dabbled in horticulture, statesmanship, architectecture, archaeology, paleontology, invention, and, of course, Sally.

So, dear reader, you have in this telling a glimpse into the mind and makeup of the man who was to become America’s third President. A man who truly represents this Nations frenetic inventiveness.



John Adams.

Revolutionary, second President of the United States, Adams came by it naturally. He cut his teeth as a teacher and lawyer while preparing for public service. He failed as a farmer. He failed as a malter/brewer (seems Sam did better). He failed as a tax collector (unless you were a friend). Fouled by failure, Adams went through life looking as if he was sucking on a sour pickle, but I suppose you would as well if you were married to Abigail. Rumor has it she was not an easy woman. Then, of course, there was Jefferson, Adams ally and later fierce opponent and successor, in 1800, to the throne Presidency. Now permanently soured, Adams on his Independence Day deathbed, July 4, 1826, uttered his last words, “Jefferson lives”. He was of course wrong, which had he known might have sweetened the sour. Jefferson had died at Monticello hours earlier. But, such is the course of grudges.


Hamilton & Burr

Post revolutionary American politics, awash in rivalies and argument, precursed what goes on to this very day.

Then in America it was the Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists having at one another. It’s tempting to say the arguments were liberal/conservative contretemps but it’s impossible to sort the muddled political philosophies so neatly. Let’s simply sat that then as today it all boiled down to “I’m right, you’re wrong” on the one side and “You’re wrong, I’m right” on the other side.

Arguments became raucous, particularly between Alexander Hamilton (Federalist) and Aaron Burr (Democratic-Republican). It got loud. It got nasty. One could say that it got so that Hamilton had a Burr up his … It was a mean standoff.

How else was this stuff to be settled but by duel. Dueling however, as it oft does, worked out poorly. Hamilton became a literal deader. Burr’s political ambitions died. Such are the rewards of rancor.

A lesson for today (likely not to be learned) is that we have been reduced to Republicans on one side Democrats on the other and we’re arguing with ourselves. A benefit of argument, this writer believes, is that it beats getting out the guns and shooting.



James Madison

After arguing that a “Bill of Rights” was both unnecessary and dangerous Madison drafted and fought for the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, that is “The Bill Of Rights.” Ah well, consistency, as is well known, is the hobgoblin of little minds. He went on to become the fourth President of the fledgling United States, accomplishing such as the Louisiana purchase and screwing up here and there with little missteps such as the war of 1812.

For all of Madison’s missteps and accomplishments none was so important as his marriage to Dolley. It was, after all, she who brought ice cream to the White House and thereby to a hungry America. Hooray for Dolley.


John Hancock


When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these … "


JOHN HANCOCK

He laid it out there for folks. Right up front for King and all. Nothing shy about this signer.

Did Mr. Hancock ever do anything else?

I dunno! Do you?





Patrick Henry

Known far and wide as a champion of individual rights Patrick Henry gave the famous speech with the quotable line.


"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet,
as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
Forbid it, Almighty God!
I know not what course others may take; but as for me,
give me liberty, or give me death!"


Ah yes, “give me liberty or give me death.”

Then there was Mrs. Henry, Sarah, who according to Patrick went bats. He kept her in a straightjacket in the basement of their home. One could imagine Sarah muttering over and over. “Give me liberty, I’ll give him death." Perhaps the slave woman assigned to attend Sarah would have helped.
 


Paul Revere
“Listen my children and you shall hear
of the midnight ride of …,

of …, of …

Paul Revere and two other guys that Longfellow forgot to mention while lionizing the Boston Silversmith. Two other guys whose names are lost to history. Two other guys …

And maybe Revere was at the tea party as well, maybe.

But;
“Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year”


So, who knows.



Henry Lee

Henry Lee, aka, Light-Horse Harry did some good stuff as a revolutionary military officer. Skill as a cavalry horseman earned him the light-horse sobriquet. Later he was to become governor of Virginia. Ligh-horse Harry eugolized George Washington with the lines which became famous, “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, . . .”

All in all he seemed a pretty accomplished guy albeit with a penchant for drinking, gambling, and brawling that led to financial ruin and a stay in debtor’s prison where he wrote his Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States, still the standard text on that portion of the Revolutionary War.

Harry’s son, Robert E. Lee, was offered command of the United States Army by Abe Lincoln but, true son of the South, he went the other way.

In all, the Lees of Virginia were a pretty good bunch.




Thomas Heyward, Jr.

A South Carolinian he signed the Declaration of Independence. Whatever else he may have done is lost to the dust or perhaps buried in dry Heyward family chronicals.

What Thomas Heyward, Jr., South Carolinian, did not do however was:

· Disappear to Argentina for five days of dalliance.
· Embarrassingly say he would try to fall in love with his wife again.
· Generally make an ass of himself.

That was ex SC Governor Sanford.

Nor did he:

· Compare government under President Obama to fascism
· Daily rant against anything proposed by the current Administration
· Generally make an ass of himself.

That was ex SC Senator Jim DeMint

And he didn’t shout out:

· You lie, or
· Generally make an ass of himself.

That was SC Congressman Joe Wilson.

Ah, it all makes a proud denizen of the Palmetto State wonder just what they're smoking. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Elmore's Peeps Ain’ No Mo’

They Gone
By GC  Smith


He said.  She said.  They all said, cool stuff.  They were from Detroit, or South Florida, or Haiti, or Africa.  They were white lowlifes.  They were black lowlifes.  They were cops.  They were robbers.  They were judges.  They were ‘hoes.  They came from mean streets and they wanted.  Wanted money.  Wanted love.  Wanted power.  Wanted something, sometimes just a night in a motel.  They were all a bit twisted, some more than a bit. They were cool.  Now, they won’t be again.  Their DNA ran out with Elmore Leonard’s.  Too bad.  They were the best.  Ever.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Doin' Without

Pass It By
By GC

In this gotta have it world
there’s plenty that I’ll never need

I can do without religion
but not without morality

And politics, another thing
I’d just as soon eschew

I don’t need unfounded opinion
uttered by fools and charlatans 

There’s a lot in life that I can pass by
there’s little that I’ve found that I must have

That’s not to say I can’t enjoy such things as
a steak, some sippin’ whiskey and some pleasant company

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Hags

Clandestine Whispers
By GC SMITH

Behind gray, grimacing walls
secrets are told by garbled voices
bones that should be long buried
are unearthed and chewed again

One day tells its tale to another
we can only wish the tale true
but I fear the tale will be twisted
by those crones of wicked tongue

Bitches cannot let well enough alone
and let dogs lie where they sleep
no, they'll take words from innocents
and tar them with their witch's brush

The bastard children of their mendacities
ripen and then putrefy with retelling
frighten all who would not go there
delight crones who birthed the monsters

Why it is that crones must rend fabric
that by itself contained no untruth
seems they find delight in rotten lies
designed for tearing apart old friends

Behind gray, grimacing walls
passed on by puerile hags of Satan
untruths buried with old bones
are unearthed and chewed again

Monday, July 22, 2013

Seven Ages


Somewhere 'twixt Birth and Death

Billy S
said
man knows
seven stages
'tween
birth
and
death.

I've
passed
some of those,
I'm
no longer
a mewling,
puking
infant
an'
I ain't
a
satcheled
schoolboy
any more.

The
sighing
ballad singing
lover
is
somewhere
back there
in my past

I say I'm
somewhere
in the middle
not
at the beginning
not
to the ending.

Perhaps
there is
still
something
of the soldier
in me
still looking
still seeking

Though
my belly's
somewhat
spherical,
I've not
reached
that stage of
round
bellied
justice
with wise saws
and modern instances.

My shank
ain't yet shrunk.
nor does my voice
pipe falsetto
no, not yet,
and,
I have not returned
to the condition of childhood,
where, I’d be
as Willie said,
"sans teeth,
sans eyes,
sans taste,
sans
everything."

So, here I am,
somewhere
between
birth and death,
neither
brave
nor
fearful;
still looking for
beauty
and
still avoiding
ugliness.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

ROOOOOOOOOOOAR!


Ain’t Getting’ Too Damn Close
By GC SMITH

There’s a gator in the pond outside my door’,
he’s a big old bull , king of the space he owns;
he’s been around here since I don’t know when
seems sometimes he’s been here since time began

Yellow eyes watch me closely
from just above green duckweed cover
while the rest of that big old boy
lies hidden under dead still water

Prey is what is on his pea brain
honed to that one thought by time
he’d like to stuff me in his hole to ripen
but if not me my dog will do just fine

He’s quite a creature that old bull gator,
lying there so still, stalking unwary creatures;
he’s fascinating, well worth some close study,
but believe me you, I ain’ gettin’ too damn close

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bang, your dead


Bullet Society
By GC

I didn’t know the kid’
maybe he was a good kid
maybe he was a bad kid
perhaps neither or both, likely he was just a kid

I didn’t know the vigilante
but, theres no excuse for vigilantism
no excuse for killing, no matter the law
what’s clearly wrong cannot somehow be right

I didn’t know the kid
likely our paths would never cross
but I do know the vigilante’s bullet took the kid
and the State’s stupid “stand your ground” law let it happen

I didn't know the vigilante
he was tried in a court of law
he was exonerated of all charges
what message will that send to the next guy with a gun

 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Argument

It's So Easy
By GC

I could
use
the language
of the
debater
(biting
caustic,
downright nasty)
to crush your
argument
bur none of that is
necessary
since you,
of and with
inbred stupidity,
do it so well
yourself

Thursday, July 4, 2013

For Independence Day


FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

George's Busy Life
By GC SMITH

Chompin' cherries with wooden dentures isn't any fun. Red stains on white painted teeth could make a man blue. Hey, red, white, and blue, great colors for the new flag. If George was with us he'd say: I'll have Martha talk to Betsy about that at next week's Mahjong party. Speaking of Betsy, I'm sure, G.W. would like to sleep there. Ah, to rest his weary head on that lush bosom. But, if Martha ever found out she'd have his hide and he'd be in for even more shoeless camping in the snow. He couldn't afford that, not with Lafayette coming to meet about forming the Escadrille with 'mercan pilots (and more than a century ahead of it's time). I think he'd better go and powder the wig now before meeting time. Lord knows a man can never look too good.


FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

Benjamin Franklin

Busy Ben, a founding father, literally. A common law conjoiner and Pater familias to an illegitimate son. (Though just how a flesh and blood human standing before the world could possibly lack legitimacy has always eluded this chronicler.) But, be that as it may or may not be Ben went on to a continued shocking life. There were inventions galore and amazing scientific enquires, chief among which was the kite and string sting.

Our Ben is likely best remembered for his grand misogyny concerning why a young man should seek the comfort of older women, who were not yet in those days of yore identified by the cutsey appellation --Cougar. His advice: they don’t yell, or tell, or swell, and they’re grateful as hell.

Ah, but there were other sides to this most accomplished man. Lest we forget, despite peccadilloes, Ben also preached virtuousness thereby establishing an unbroken politician's hypocrisy practiced assiduously from the first days of the Republic to this very moment. Ah, yes, busy Ben, stage setter extraordinaire.

Ben Franklin, founding father, pride of the new Nation.



FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

Thomas Jefferson

To truly get a feel for Thomas Jefferson one should take the guided tour of his ancestral home, Monticello, for it is as an innovator we can actually see the great man’s mind at work. Inside the front door of Monticello, mounted on the foyer wall is a clock-calendar. The device not only tells time but it marks the day. To the device’s winding chain Jefferson attached heavy lead weights that dropped day by day, which were noted on the wall. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Oops!

The chain unfortunately hit the floor before the week's final day. Was our polymath, Jefferson, deterred. Not in the least. Jefferson cut a hole in the foyer floor so that the weighted chain could continue its decent. Our Monticello guide remarked, “on Saturday Mr. Jefferson’s balls are in the basement.”

Bright fellow that he was you’ll find that Jefferson also dabbled in horticulture, statesmanship, architectecture, archaeology, paleontology, invention, and, of course, Sally.

So, dear reader, you have in this telling a glimpse into the mind and makeup of the man who was to become America’s third President. A man who truly represents this Nations frenetic inventiveness.


 

FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

John Adams.

Revolutionary, second President of the United States, Adams came by it naturally. He cut his teeth as a teacher and lawyer while preparing for public service. He failed as a farmer. He failed as a malter/brewer (seems Sam did better). He failed as a tax collector (unless you were a friend). Fouled by failure, Adams went through life looking as if he was sucking on a sour pickle, but I suppose you would as well if you were married to Abigail. Rumor has it she was not an easy woman. Then, of course, there was Jefferson, Adams ally and later fierce opponent and successor, in 1800, to the throne Presidency. Now permanently soured, Adams on his Independence Day deathbed, July 4, 1826, uttered his last words, “Jefferson lives”. He was of course wrong, which had he known might have sweetened the sour. Jefferson had died at Monticello hours earlier. But, such is the course of grudges.


FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

Hamilton & Burr

Post revolutionary American politics, awash in rivalies and argument, precursed what goes on to this very day.

Then in America it was the Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists having at one another. It’s tempting to say the arguments were liberal/conservative contretemps but it’s impossible to sort the muddled political philosophies so neatly. Let’s simply sat that then as today it all boiled down to “I’m right, you’re wrong” on the one side and “You’re wrong, I’m right” on the other side.

Arguments became raucous, particularly between Alexander Hamilton (Federalist) and Aaron Burr (Democratic-Republican). It got loud. It got nasty. One could say that it got so that Hamilton had a Burr up his … It was a mean standoff.

How else was this stuff to be settled but by duel. Dueling however, as it oft does, worked out poorly. Hamilton became a literal deader. Burr’s political ambitions died. Such are the rewards of rancor.

A lesson for today (likely not to be learned) is that we have been reduced to Republicans on one side Democrats on the other and we’re arguing with ourselves. A benefit of argument, this writer believes, is that it beats getting out the guns and shooting.


FOUNDING FATHER SERIES

James Madison

After arguing that a “Bill of Rights” was both unnecessary and dangerous Madison drafted and fought for the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, that is “The Bill Of Rights.” Ah well, consistency, as is well known, is the hobgoblin of little minds. He went on to become the fourth President of the fledgling United States, accomplishing such as the Louisiana purchase and screwing up here and there with little missteps such as the war of 1812.

For all of Madison’s missteps and accomplishments none was so important as his marriage to Dolley. It was, after all, she who brought ice cream to the White House and thereby to a hungry America. Hooray for Dolley.


FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

John Hancock


"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these … "


JOHN HANCOCK

He laid it out there for folks. Right up front for King and all. Nothing shy about this signer.

Did Mr. Hancock ever do anything else?

I dunno! Do you?


FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

Patrick Henry

Known far and wide as a champion of individual rights Patrick Henry gave the famous speech with the quotable line.



"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet,
as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
Forbid it, Almighty God!
I know not what course others may take; but as for me,
give me liberty, or give me death!"



Ah yes, “give me liberty or give me death.”

Then there was Mrs. Henry, Sarah, who according to Patrick went bats. He kept her in a straightjacket in the basement of their home. One could imagine Sarah muttering over and over. “Give me liberty, I’ll give him death." Perhaps the slave woman assigned to attend Sarah would have helped.
 

FOUNDING FATHERS

Paul Revere

“Listen my children and you shall hear
of the midnight ride of …,


of …, of …

Paul Revere and two other guys that Longfellow forgot to mention while lionizing the Boston Silversmith. Two other guys whose names are lost to history. Two other guys …

And maybe Revere was at the tea party as well, maybe.

But;

“Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year”



So, who knows.


 

FOUNDING FATHERS

Thomas Heyward, Jr.

A South Carolinian he signed the Declaration of Independence. Whatever else he may have done is lost to the dust or perhaps buried in dry Heyward family chronicals.

What Thomas Heyward, Jr., South Carolinian, did not do however was:

· Disappear to Argentinia for five days of dalliance.
· Embarrassingly say he would try to fall in love with his wife again.
· Generally make an ass of himself.

That was SC Govenor Sanford.

Nor did he:

· Compare government under President Obama to fascism
· Daily rant against anything proposed by the current Administration
· Generally make an ass of himself.

That was SC Senator Jim DeMint

And he didn’t shout out:

· You lie, or
· Generally make an ass of himself.

That was SC Congressman Joe Wilson.

Ah, it all makes a proud denizen of the Palmetto State wonder just what they're smoking. This one at least.



FOUNDING FATHERS

Henry Lee

Henry Lee, aka, Light-Horse Harry did some good stuff as a revolutionary military officer. Skill as a cavalry horseman earned him the light-horse sobriquet. Later he was to become governor of Virginia. Ligh-horse Harry eugolized George Washington with the lines which became famous, “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, . . .”

All in all he seemed a pretty accomplished guy albeit with a penchant for drinking, gambling, and brawling that led to financial ruin and a stay in debtor’s prison where he wrote his Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States, still the standard text on that portion of the Revolutionary War.

Harry’s son, Robert E. Lee, was offered command of the United States Army by Abe Lincoln but, true son of the South, he went the other way.

In all, the Lees of Virginia were a pretty good bunch.