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All posts for the month May, 2022

MOURNING IN AMERICA

Published May 29, 2022 by Nan Mykel

Thanks to friend Eliot Kalman for permission to share this poem:  Poetic protest/lament by Eliot Kalman, Copyright May 2022

MOURNING IN AMERICA

As the sun that day climbed in the Texas sky,

nineteen fourth graders got dressed to die,

nineteen mothers kissed their kids good-bye,

it’s mourning in America.

 

As that day the sun bore from a merciless sky,

and Uvalde recoiled, too numb even to cry,

while the cops left the bleeding to quietly die,

it’s mourning in America.

 

As nineteen children went to their eternal rest,

with a bullet in their head or lodged in their chest,

and the sun went down in the bloody-red West,

it’s mourning in America.

 

As tears of woe fell in the waning light,

and dirges were played through the long plaintive night,

while the citizenry cried out, “It just can’t be right!”

it’s mourning in America.

 

With one fewer afternoon school bus stops to be met,

and one fewer dinner places to ever be set,

and one fewer eager family pets

to joyously be met,

it’s mourning in America.

 

As the moon that night shone on nineteen empty beds,

and the bereaved faced their losses with inconsolable heads,

while the NRA inexplicably ignored all the wounded and dead,

alas, it’s mourning in America.

BRAVO

Published May 26, 2022 by Nan Mykel

NYTimes 5-26-22

Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

Filling it with new names seems to be the only action we’re capable of

Author Headshot By Jay Caspian Kang

Opinion Writer

At some point in the past decade or so, our response to mass shootings turned into a series of memes. As the body count rises, the same, recycled tweets, Instagram posts and fiery speeches from the last massacre make their dutiful rounds through online spaces.
We see the Onion headline, “‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.” We see the tweet, “In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the U.S. gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.” We see statistics about N.R.A. campaign contributions; references to the effectiveness of Australia’s National Firearms Agreement, signed in the aftermath of a mass shooting there that killed 35 people; and polls about the popularity of gun control measures in the U.S.
At some point, someone — in this instance, Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors — gives the speech that allows us to share in a needed moment of catharsis and rage. And then the photos of the deceased start to show up on television, online news sites and social media feeds.
We have created a museum of unbearable sorrow. With each tragedy, it gets a bit denser with new names, new unsatisfying explanations and new photos of the deceased. The term “meme” here should not suggest a lack of seriousness or insincerity. Quite the opposite: The endless recalling of these bits of information and their proliferation throughout every channel of communication embed them even deeper into our consciousness. When we’re grasping for something to say, they are the things we touch.
The memes are also inert, but not for our lack of trying to break through to actually do something about the slaughter. The Parkland kids organized nationwide marches. State legislatures proposed expanded background checks, some of which even passed. But as time has gone on and the shootings haven’t stopped, those actions also get placed into the museum as reminders of just how hopeless all this feels. The next time this happens, we will all watch Kerr’s speech again.
What does it mean to constantly relive tragedy in this way? The names of places just pile up: Columbine, Virginia Tech, El Paso, Buffalo, Parkland, Las Vegas, Orlando, Roseburg, Marysville, Newtown and now Uvalde. There is the expectation that Uvalde will not be the last name on that list.
Museums and monuments, of course, commemorate the past. What I don’t know is if the museum of mass shooting memes suggests that we, also, have moved on to the task of just honoring the dead of the past, present and inevitable future.
Our response to these unthinkable tragedies almost feels reflexive at this point, rather than rooted in any actual belief that things can change. We witness the horrors of the present in which these massacres seem to happen every week, and while we still feel the pressing, manic need to do something, we also now know that nothing will be done. The desire for action, then, drags behind us — it is still with us but has lost its utility.
Helplessness is the sense that we will keep reliving the brutality of history over and over again. Tuesday night, while talking to my family, friends and colleagues about the 19 dead children and two dead teachers, I heard a despair that isn’t new but has increased in volume over the past few years. Nobody thought we could do anything about any of this; nobody even bothered to offer up a theory on how things might change. It was as if we were collectively giving up.
The brief spark of hope we might have felt watching the Parkland kids march or hearing earlier iterations of the Kerr speech, whether it was delivered by President Barack Obama after Newtown or by Richard Martinez, the father of Christopher Michaels-Martinez, a college student shot dead at U.C. Santa Barbara, felt impossible to revive.
This is a dereliction of duty to the dead, which is why so much of the sadness of the past two days has been mixed with the guilt that we, who live in the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world, cannot protect our children. As I type this, more photos of the dead have shown up in newspapers and 17 names confirmed, according to The Times, with four more to inevitably come: Eva Mireles, Irma Garcia, Amerie Jo Garza, Annabelle Rodriguez, Eliahana Torres, Ellie Garcia, Jackie Cazares, Jose Flores, Nevaeh Bravo, Rojelio Torres, Uziyah Garcia, Xavier Lopez, Lexi Rubio, Jailah Silguero, Jayce Luevanos, Makenna Lee Elrod and Tess Mata. Reciting them here, of course, does nothing except move them closer to history.
Perhaps there is some solace in knowing their photos and their names will be recalled the next time there’s a Newtown or Parkland or Uvalde. But just like the calls for action, they will ultimately get crowded out by all the new faces and new names that keep coming. As is the case with the engravings in black granite at Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the specific names are meaningful to the people who loved them, but for the rest of us, they will eventually look like indistinguishable entries in an overwhelming litany of senseless, mass death.
It is crucial that we, as a society, don’t allow ourselves simply to accept these deaths, but for the life of me, I can’t come up with a single reason this time will be different.
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REPOSTABLE QUOTES

Published May 25, 2022 by Nan Mykel

“As the tragic events in Uvalde, Buffalo, and hundreds of other places show, Republican Party today believes in the right to life for the unborn, but doesn’t care at all about the lives of the born.” —

Diane Ravitch shared Gloria Steinem’s solution to gun safety:

“How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion:

1. Mandatory 48-hour waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence…

2. Close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun.

3. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.”

If we really cared about the right to life, this is what we would do.

SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN

Published May 25, 2022 by Nan Mykel

Pixabay

Nineteen elementary school children and two adults in Texas were killed Tuesday by an adolescent with a gun after shooting his grandmother.

Welcome to America?  Where is love, compassion, empathy, care, conscience?  My journalism professor Buddy Davis at the University of Florida used to frequently refer to the milk of human kindness.  It has been souring rapidly.  The Age of Aquarious didn’t blossom as hoped for.   A U.S. Representative has called on the “dark MAGA” to respond. to his defeat.

What went wrong is now less important than what to do about it.  The Climate Change may humble us, but at what cost?  What has the obscene scrambling for booty cost us?

A young boy teaches his little brother the art of lying while his parents feed the embers of distrust.  It’s my understanding that we continue to be born with the same potential, although down the road our forced appearance on the scene may be increasingly resented.

I tuck away my fleeting suspicion that a great sense of masculine inadequacy feeds the attraction for guns.

The remedy is unclear.  Any hopeful solutions?

 

POEM BY FELIX

Published May 22, 2022 by Nan Mykel

NEXT TIME I’LL BE A FUNGUS

In my next life I want to be a fungus.

Fungi are more like animals than plants,

Distinctively in a kingdom all their own.

Some form the largest organization on earth*,

But others are microscopic, too tiny to see.

As a fungus I could be almost everywhere:

As spores in the air, in food, on our skin,

And underneath the soil we all walk upon.

 

As a truffle  I’d be a culinary delicacy.

As yeast I would be highly prized for

Making beer and bread, wine and cheese.

As mold I’d be a medicine or a poison.

As a mushroom I’d cause hallucinations,

Or glow in the dark as a bioluminescent,

Or mesh with hyphae* to become mycelium*,

Already in use as a bioconstruction material.

 

Best of all, I’d be part of the Wood Wide Web*

That vast underground fungal information highway

That allows trees and plants and fungi to interconnect

And to symbolically aid or lethally harm each other.

As a fungus I’d push thinkers to consider more deeply

The astonishingly intimate interdependence of all things.

Nothing on earth is autonomous, able to stand alone.

Nothing exists by itself. Everything connects to everything.

Felix Gagliano  March 2021

 

***I swear, no connection between this poem (or the following) and any money-making scheme (shudder):

*The largest living organism is a fungus!  A honey mushroom called Armillaria solidipes in Oregon was found to be over  2,000 years old and growing through the soil in a forest to cover 9 square kilometers  (over 1,000 rugby fields).

*The Wood Wide Web: Millions of species of fungi and bacteria swap nutrients between soil and the roots of trees, forming a vast, interconnected web of organisms throughout the woods.  It is also called the Mycorrhizal network.

These networks can transport carbon, phosphorus, nitrogen, water, defense compounds, and chemicals from plant to plant.  Trees linking to the fungal network can assist their neighbors by sharing nutrients and information, warn about enemies such as insect attack–or sabotage unwelcome plants by spreading toxic chemicals through the network.

For a  superb look of the expanding fields of mycology (the study of fungi)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               see: Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures (Random House, 2020), by British mycologist Merlin Sheldrake.

Sheldrake uses these key terms:

Mycorrhizae: a mutual symbiotic association between a fungus and a tree or plant.  The plant makes organic molecules such as sugars by photosynthesis and supplies them to the fungus, and the fungus supplies to the plant water and mineral nutrients, such as phosphorus, taken from the soil.

*Hypha (plural,  hyphae): each of the branching filaments that make up the mycelium of a fungus.

*Mycellium: the mass or network of branched, tubular filaments (hyphae)  of fungi.

Sheldrake let his book on mushrooms be devoured by mushrooms and then he ate those mushrooms.  Thereby eating his own words!

He notes (p.225): “Fungi might make mushrooms, but first they must unmake something else.  Now that this book is made I can hand it over to fungi to unmake. I’ll dampen a copy and seed it with Pleurotus myceliumWhen it has eaten its way through the words and pages and endpapers and sprouted oyster mushrooms from the covers, I will eat them.”

He mashed up another copy of his book , added a yeast and fermented it into a beer which he then drank, thereby closing the circuit.

Thanks to friend Felix for permission to share his poem and reflections.

 

 

what being without internet feelslike

Published May 20, 2022 by Nan Mykel

Lonely. Cut off. Going on 2 weeks without FRONTIER as an internet provider and carrier of my landline means being isolated — away from my blog and other friends. Probably my tv too, but I haven’t had the heart for that. (I’m still without FRONTIER–my daughter came from Atlanta and hooked me up to a downtown Athens internet at the Donkey Cafe.) Thank you, Donkey: hee haw. I missed you all. Oujr only other choice is Spectrum which I dropped due to poor service.

WHO NEEDS A NOSE!

Published May 11, 2022 by Nan Mykel

Fruit flies sure don’t!  Nerve cells in their olfactory hairs on their antenna enable them to pick up odors up to 4 miles away.  (Flies don’t have noses).

(MMnnn, someone on the next block is cooking peach cobbler.)

Mother Nature tends to some things, like how is a good fly going to smell?  Kinda wish she’d tend to certain other things, too….

Beginning?

Published May 7, 2022 by Nan Mykel

Doug Shivley stepped onto the porch of the duplex and keyed in the front door. His dad was on a long haul for the bottling company, and he did not have to worry about his mom, who’d left them three years ago. He eased off his ball cap and leaned forward into the front hall mirror to check his forehead. He should have used a gun, but he had no way of knowing she was a he and a fighter…. or at least a kind of a he.

He swayed. Maybe he was drunk. Suddenly losing strength, he headed for the bathroom, grabbed a towel and climbed into the tub. He didn’t want to have to explain blood to his dad. He would have to beg off summer session finals and lie low. Bitch!  He could not go to the Emergency Room for treatment due to fear of being collared. He smiled grimly. The bitch can’t go to the ER, either! Damn conniving bitch man!

 

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