Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all. Since moving in to our new place I have neither written nor read a thing. I guess that you might say “I have stalled out.” And as they say: “that is just fine.” But now it really is time to pick up pen and paper – or perhaps “turn the computer on.” I am amazed that a new turn of phrase has not joined the American lexicon denoting the “use of the computer.” I have decided that it is time to come back. It is time write again, read again, live again. I have missed the camaraderie and I have missed writing and the reading. Something that David said last night at dinner prompted me to decide that it was time. He mentioned that everyone is afraid to move to the city. Nothing new really, it is quite simply the “vanilla” attitude of most people who live in the county.

You see, the city of Saint Louis had a long standing feud with the County of Saint Louis. The city in it’s heyday refused to join the county when asked to do so to become one entity, sharing both government and services thus saving money. All of the cultural institutions are in the city. Grand events take place within the city. The city is made up of approximately 350,000 people. The county today is made up of approximately 3,000,000 people. The county contains the areas wealth and tax base. The “area” that the words “Saint Louis” comprise include both city and county. But in reality they are two separate places. The city of Saint Louis although poorly integrated is where a large percentage of the areas’ African American population lives. The city is made up of many neighborhoods, each with a distinct cultural flavor. The county today does not wish to “integrate” with the city. It does not wish to share the wealth so to speak.

We have always lived in the city. I cannot possibly imagine living in a place where everyone looks like me. David grew up in suburbia and grew quite allergic to it. The only time that I lived in a suburban neighborhood was in the mid sixties when formerly married. When David and I met we were living in Hyde Park. We pioneered. At that time before the advent of gangs, Hyde Park had been an old mid to late 19th century working class neighborhood filled with nothing but brick homes. Today it is bombed out. Sad really. I bought a 3 story brick home built in 1886 for $5000. David bought a three story brick home “on the park”built the same year, for $6500. I moved their in 1977 to begin a new adventure. It is where we met and became the very best of friends. Shortly there after we fell in love. In 1980 I decided to test the relationship. I simply moved to Murphy Blair a matter of 5-10 blocks away, yet a very different neighborhood. Of course he passed the test. He sold his home and moved in with me. A couple of years later with a minister and a Rabbi, under a Huppa and in front of a space heater we married. Shortly thereafter we moved to my favorite neighborhood in St Louis the CWE or the Central West End. It borders Forest Park, one of the most beautiful and one of the largest city parks in the country. It was the site of the 1904 World’s Fair. It is also the site of St Louis Museum, Zoo, Tennis Courts, Steinberg Skating Rink, The Jewel Box and numerous other beautiful and cultural places. We lived there for 31 years, moving this spring to downtown St Louis. I miss Forest Park terribly. However we do have our own lovely small Sculpture Park. I think it is time to take advantage of it. Yes, it is time to engage in life again. I shall do so here at Noh Where more than likely with haibun and haiku. I shall do so at “My Downtown Blog” (http://mydowntownblog.blogspot.com)by writing about and photographing downtown Saint Louis. It really is a jewel about which so many people have misconceptions – but I shall save that for “My Downtown Blog.”

The Poetry of War – Writing It.

Why and how can a woman who has never endured combat and never been in military service to her country possibly write poetry about war, and be impassioned with doing so? Another question may be how can she do this with any authenticity? And here in lies the need to describe an experience that I in 2005. The experience has transformed my life. It was an experience filled with extraordinary joy and extreme pain. It definitely looked as though I was having a mental breakdown and it took unimaginable strength to hang on to my sanity. But I did so with a strategy. I will share the results of this experience before I attempt to share the experience. Following are many of the results.

1) I acquired a knowledge that: “we are all one” while in China the spring after my experience. As a result I spontaneously addressed a Chinese workers protest on a Saturday night by running up to the participating seated workers. They looked hopeless. This group was protesting the torturous and bloody treatment endured by a number of employees. I went from one end of this group of about two hundred to the other end. As I did so I clapped my hands loudly while yelling “yes, yes.” Now this was a crazy thing to do in China – but it was NOT something I thought about. They, the workers, in turn got up and started clapping. Smiles came upon their faces and we each knew that indeed “we were as one.”

2) I learned to fly a 1947 Luscombe 8 tail-dragger at 60 years of age.

3) 5 different Vietnam Veterans who had seen combat chose to share their burden of war with me anonymously. Please understand veterans of war do not speak of their experiences to anyone but another veteran if at all. These veterans just came to me like a magnet.

4) I acquired a deep and abiding love for veterans of war. Whereas in the past I had thought of the veteran 3 time s a year.

5) I volunteered for 2 years at the VA.

6) I express my appreciation to veterans when I see them.

7) I made a spontaneous decision to give up my fear of heights and did so as I stood with my feet on the edge of a 2600 ft drop (no fence or railing) at Machu Picchu in 2007.

8) I came to a deep understanding of the love my father had for me (which had seemed to disappear when I was only 6-8 years old). After this experience I was bathed in his love and came to understand that it seemed to disappear as a result of WWII Combat PTSD. He was dead when I had this experience.

9) I discovered my mother’s WWII scrapbooks from the time that she had lived in London as an American employee of the OWI during the bombings. Yes, her personality too was shaped by war and very likely by Combat PTSD. I say combat because to endure bombing and have no ability to retaliate – well that is the worst kind of combat to endure isn’t it? My mother was not nice to her children. And that is a kind manner in which to explain her mothering.

Because the spiritual experience that I had was so complicated I shall simply relate the bare bones of it. As is my way I put out there; “OK what next? What do you wish me to do?” I soon found myself looking for my father’s WWII history in a number of places on line, especially in a WWII forum. I met a Vietnam Veteran there, a B-52 pilot. He too was looking for his father’s WWII history. He assisted me in my search. Then I wanted to know about his own war experiences. I was persistent. He was hesitant. I persisted and he in a halting manner shared some of his experience. This sent me into a tailspin of contemplation quite literally. I was unable to eat (trust me I never stop eating) and the need to walk, walk, walk (I don’t exercise) took up most of my time. I lost a good bit of weight. I set myself up with an energy worker to keep me grounded and a personal trainer to help me do the same. At the end of this I went to someone who “sees.” She was only slightly helpful. This is key, I experienced this Vietnam Veterans “pain” associated with his war. That was the hell of this experience. I went on to do what I always do which is decipher things for my self. Now this happened in 2005 and the last thing that I learned from this experience, I learned in 2011. I went on to study war. After the experience itself was over, I came to understand that this was a shamanic initiation. I have studied and practiced shamanic healing experiences for many years. Please understand this is not a religion. I know much more than the average person about shamanism. Throughout my spiritual path beginning at 15, I have like many, asked for a “teacher.” The answer has always been “no.” I have always had to do everything in life on my own. That statement sounds like “poor me.” It is quite the opposite and is evidence of significant personal strength. Throughout the experience I practiced certain shamanic rituals to help me deal me with the emotional pain and confusion that I was experiencing at the time. I came to understand (feel) that war is the most addicting of all addictions. I also fully understand why it is so. I have a Christian background intermingled with indigenous spirituality, a smathering of Hindu, Unitarianism, Jewish Theology, Buddhism and what ever other languages God created and gave to the world’s different cultures so that they could each grow spiritually and communicate with the creator.

I have written this as an explanation or prelude to my writing a collection of “War Poetry.” I am going to attempt at some point create a separate page here upon my blog for those poems. I wish to have them published. Today I have been newly inspired or mused by “The Headlines of War.” Now I realize that I need to widen that inspiration to simply “The Headlines.” Thank you for taking the time to read my words. I have a great appreciation for your time. Below is the first poem of war that I wrote after my experience. There is shall we say “language” in the poem that might offend.

bombers_b52_0008

Photo Credit Use of Boeing-owned photos posted from their web site are licensed for private, non-commercial use only.

B-52s

I remember them.
Large black fins
in 67 & 8.
We’d drive to Kadena,
park the truck
watch them circle
like sharks
behind the security fence.
All we saw were black
shark fins … taxiing for take off,
B-52s lined up for Vietnam.
The NVA called them
Whispering Death.
Three years…860,000 pounds
of carpet bombing.
Rolling Thunder
coming out of U-Tapao,
Anderson and Guam.
They came in threes … Arc Light!
Coming from the 9th, the
22nd, the 91st, 99th, the 306th, the 454th, and
the 461st, they flew at 50,000 ft,
subsonic speeds, refueled in mid air,
carried 70,000 pounds of mixed ordnance.
Known with affection as BUFFS
Big Ugly Fat Fuckers
Operation Linebacker.
Ten, twelve hours in the sky
peeing in a sleeve,
freezing or scorched while
flying towards hell.
Clear left, limbs seen hanging
clear right, friends literally falling from the sky.
Then, the Christmas Bombings, SAMs brought them down
U-Tapao lost two in mid-air
One in each cell…one on final…the entire crew lost.

This is posted at dVerse Poets Meeting The Bar: The Unfathomable.