Thursday, February 20, 2014

From My Best Friend's Dying Days - Scene 1

you dear wife after an angel visit
said goodbye and closed the door

from whom a stroke of nature
had mostly withdrawn her ability
to hold up her head
and navigate a straight line
had suddenly looked up
to see you leave and made
a wobbly insistent beeline
to the door and waited
though you were gone

Opening it I helped her
onto the deck where
she circled and buckled
circled and buckled
even with hands clasped under
her emaciated proud chest
driven in her new strange norm
forward the only way remaining

I guided her back toward the door
it was a cold evening
but she refused 
there was strength
unexpected and unyielding
she circled a few times more
circling and collapsing
circling and collapsing
curling neatly
into tender crumple
coming to rest empty
and instantly asleep
dropped from the world

dear girl reposes in dire exhaustion
blanket stretched now across
and brown fleece coat adding layer
over her gauntness
as a breeze brings more chill 

cradling within herself
ribs moving up and down
breathing finally slowing and relaxed
she suddenly wakes and has to stand
is helped and gently coaxed indoors
into her home warmed for her

she's really struggling tonight
grappling with the throes
seeming still to make it all
her own

All we have
are days and nights
and who is in them.

Have a good day.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Who are the people who created these designs 3000 years ago in what is now Louisiana? No one really knows or ever will.  Given only what was available to them, could we hope to create a culture and civilization as organized and resourceful?

Above are exact representations of engravings made at the Poverty Point site on jewelry and other decorative objects, and also on functional artifacts. 

3,500 Years Ago in now N.E. Louisiana, thousands of unknown people were part of a culture that itself had already been developing in the region for at least 2000 years. Its major signifying site is a 72-foot-high earthen mound built in the shape of a bird in flight. The wingspan is 640 feet wide, and from the bird's head to its tail tip is 710 feet. Recently it's been shown to have been built in about three months, using enough dirt to fill 30,000 large dump truck loads, using nothing but woven bushel baskets.  Just as amazing, if not moreso, are the beautiful artifacts these people created.  Their trade reached the Great Lakes,Ohio Valley and the Gulf of Mexico.  If interested in who the first Americans were, this is the place to start.  It's much more mystery than answers, but it's challenging and fun to imagine who they were and what motivated them.

Below is a schematic of Bird Mound with its six concentric semicircles of 10-foot high earthworks, with aisles dividing them into five parts and a ceremonial area in the middle along the banks of a bayou, which then was the edge of the Mississippi River's floodplain.  The rings open east to the sunrise. The bird of Bird Mound appears to fly westward.  The points where the semicircles meet the bayou are 3/4's of a mile apart. 


 Below are carved plummets made from hematite, magnetite, and other groundstones from the Great Lakes area, the Ohio Valley, and the state of Mississippi's delta region.  The plummets have holes in their rounded points and are thought to have been used for fishing nets, though exact usage is speculative.


Below, these pot-bellied owls are the artifacts most closely identified with the mysterious unknown culture that flourished 3000 years ago northeast of what today is Delphi, Louisiana and on what became known as Poverty Point plantation, which was considered a hardscrabble estate at that site.  Cultivation has disturbed the site, about 500 acres, but archaeology has used sophisticated methods to uncover intriguing and puzzling evidence that will be interpreted and debated for many decades to come, if not centuries.

At some point, I'll post my thoughts about the origins of these people and the nature of their civilization, thoughts derived partly from readings begun at the Library of Congress in 1977 and 1978, including First Peoples mythologies and other traditional storytelling, and partly drawn from imaginative inferences of my own, plus my two visits to Poverty Point, the first in 1979 and the second in 2005.  It takes imagination to compile history, and I'll be using history, as recorded in myth, to imagine their world.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tonight's Possum Event

Tiger's a 21-pound cat on about a 17-pound max frame.  Rescued lean off the mean streets, he was a mean one himself, though looked like a raccoon had been meaner.  By mean, I mean fought for his food, and who wouldn't?  I get an edge at a buffet.  Now three years into his new home, I'm proud and lucky to call Tiger my little brother.

Just after dusk, Tiger's crouched on the edge of the deck as flat as a cat can make himself, intently focusing directly below, where an unsuspecting possum is snuffling around almost four feet down and near the recycling bin.  It's a regular visitor.  It seems to be the same one Tiger discovered playing possum in front of the house several months ago. They all don't look alike.  Tonight is different though.  Tiger's caught some luck, and now he's ready to spring.  Will the possum see him in time?

No.  Tiger's in the air, falling fast.  Look out below!  Thud!  Bulls-eye on top of the poor critter.  Now what?  That's what Tiger seems to wonder.  Since the possum didn't die of fright, possum popped back up and they're facing off three feet apart.  Hiss, goes possum, teeth sharp and menacing-looking, as they've been since soon after dinosaurs went extinct.  Cats are newcomers by comparison, but learning fast, able contenders.  They take turns taking short steps toward each other, like boxers, then back off again.  "Would you mind please running away" may be the message of the bluffing.

They each bravely hold their ground, cautious about fleeing or fighting. Then suddenly from four feet above drops a flying primate, landing feet first near and equidistant to each, scoops up Tiger and gingerly absconds with him around the corner of the deck and up the steps to safety, while the possum saunters off and Tiger wriggles in frustration.  Standing on the deck a while longer, the primate and cat still in tight liaison enjoy the cool evening air, allow the adrenaline a chance to dilute, and check that yes the possum made haste while the moon rose.

Remembering another evening, when Tiger jumped off the same end of the deck and chased maybe the same possum about 75 feet through the woods, over fallen trees and branches, and followed it off a three-foot ledge down onto the creek flood plain, the primate thought better of letting Tiger stay outside a while longer and the two went indoors.  Out alone again in the cold night, possum waddles in and out of mottled moon shadows, clearly understanding it can never be sure what may happen next, but at least knows what hit him tonight.  Perhaps they'll meet again, under similar circumstances.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Star's third from last car ride

A ride?! She's genuinely surprised and excited,
eyes wide, thick tail wagging slowly, then suddenly
plaintive and anxious, remembering the feebleness
that's overtaken her and that belabors each step,
every breath. Yet trusting and eager, Star opens her heart
to one more ride, and, good sport she is, gladly lets me
lift and pose her gently in her usual spot, where
she immediately lies down, allowing gravity
to do most of the work.

Her withered elder's body fully lay against
the lower seat back. She half raises her head
with sheer hope, struggling with its weight.
Demurely, she turns her beautiful face
to the open window, her big soulful eyes
once again reflecting dear sky, soft clouds,
and tall roadside grasses, in radiant hues and
distinguishing sublime shades. She looks happy,
grateful, vulnerable.  She retains neither the strength
nor reflexes needed to counter well the car’s motions,
yet, leaning there, it's obvious she wouldn’t
trade places with anyone, for anything.

Further daring debilitation, and facing an instinctive
fear of being at the mercy of the laws of a world
that follow first strength and power, Star forces herself
up into a sitting position. Then, looking exactly the frail,
emaciated, and ill elder she's become, in weary exhilaration
she basks heartily in the thrilling sights, vigorous breezes,
and profound scents of the limestone cliff, the long lake
laying out below, the gray guardrail, the trees just on
its other side, the roadside flowers, the feelings, and memories
of pleasant and easier times, but never more pleasing
than this moment as we follow our familiar way home.

A tender moment of pure joy and purer heartbreak
crescendoing in union in the eyes of a friend

August 2004

T R U E   H O M E L A N D Larry Piltz Why is this sweet world we live in so torn between chaos and Zen with extremes at either end lik...