Yearly Archives: 2014

Death By Asteroid

The talk now is about mining the asteroid belt, with the mineral value of even a small asteroid calculated in the billions of dollars. The plan is to capture an asteroid, move it out of its orbit, and steer it toward Earth, where it will somehow be safely landed or maybe mined in low Earth orbit. If all goes well, if everything goes perfectly, there will be no danger. But nothing is ever perfect. Accidents will always happen. Might a runaway asteroid of the proper mass and velocity do to us what one of them did to the dinosaurs and ninety-five percent of all life on Earth some sixty-five million years ago?

A dinosaur stood idly in the rain
As in the distance rose a brilliant flare
At breathless speed it bore down on the plain
Passed overhead as forests were stripped bare
The tremor as it struck caused fluid rock
To burst to fire as the pluming dust
Began its circling, turning on the clock
That killed most of the life on this world’s crust
We know that accidents will surely come
The early trains and the steamboats come to mind
A death or two is a small price to some
But asteroids can sometimes be unkind
The dinosaurs knew not that they would die
But we would know beforehand what’s in store
As telescopes tracked death across the sky
And most of life on Earth will be no more

To A Border Collie

Yes, yes, the NSA has some sophisticated gizmos that can capture my emails without my being any the wiser, but no software and no hardware, no matter how sophisticated, no matter how magical seeming, will ever equal the intelligence of a Border collie. I got my first Irish setter pup for my thirteenth birthday, and have been an Irish setter man ever since. Until now, when a Border collie pup came bounding into the family and turned it all around.

Not smart at all my handsome Irish setter
But if you want a dog I thought none better
When I was young we walked the fields together
It mattered not the season or the weather
There’s something ‘bout a boy, his dog, that others
Can see at once the two are just like brothers
I never thought another breed would jolt me
But now a little dog has got aholt me
A handsome, oh so playful Border collie
So smart you have to stop and say, by golly
This pup sure seems to know what I am thinking
He looks at me with eyes not hardly blinking
Intelligence lies deep within his breeding
I caught him with a book that he was reading
I cannot say he puzzled o’er the wording
But pictures tell a lot ‘bout sheep and herding
I thought he looked a little sad and wistful
I thought he yearned to grab a great big fistful
Of tiny sheep and herd them through the thistle
Obeying both his master and the whistle
That pierced the air and turned the bright’ning morn to
The scent of grass and work that he was born to

A Fight To The Death

    In the high grass, in the gathering dark, the president of the United States hears footsteps slowly draw near. The footprints stop and a voice says, “So we meet at last.”
“So it is,” Putin smiles, “and I understand it is to the death.”
“Pistols, swords, bare knuckles? What are the rules?”
“I know of one rule only,” Putin laughs, “and that rule is there are no rules.”
A voice whispers in the president’s ear. “You have the power.”
“What power?” Obama cries. “If I have any power I don’t know how to use it!”
“You have to imagine it,” the voice says.
“I’m going to imagine myself back in Washington, sound asleep. Where am I?”
“You are on the surface of the static universe.”
“An illusion,” the voice soothes. “Nothing exists until someone imagines it. You imagined a Putin and so he is real.”
“Then if I unimagined him he will disappear?”
“You cannot unimagine him.”
Alone in the dark, the rustling grass ever nearer, the voice inside him says softly,

“Imagine the Devil, the Devil exists
Imagine a nuked up Iran
Imagine Obama who smiles and insists
That Putin is no Genghis Khan
That all Putin wants is a new place to start
A new place where he can be Czar
The one thing that Putin holds close to his heart
Rebuilding the USSR
But why does he threaten, why is he so gruff?
Why is it he threatens you harm?
He’s building new nukes and new 
bombers and stuff
Despite all your efforts and charm
To show him that you are two knights hand in hand
In thinking that force has no place
In modern day statecraft where life is too bland
For Reagan and Bush’s arms race
And now he’s upon you, the rustling has stopped
His breathing can softly be heard
Your world view is small, the big picture is cropped
He’s waiting for your final word
A fight to the death or submission complete
A free hand to do as he please
The cold war is on and it’s not a repeat
You’ll not have a Reagan reprise
Fight him you must for it is war to the death
But I see that you have cast your lot
For in fear you’ll continue until your last breath
To think Genghis Khan he is not”

The Hipster Legionnaires

The 60s hipsters all dressed alike, talked alike, thought alike and smelled alike, all in the belief that by dressing alike and acting alike they exhibited their contempt for conformity. You still see 60s hipsters in the malls, gray ponytails below the shoulders, all dressed in the hipster uniform, still believing they are marching together for a better world.

The ranks aligned, they marched as one
The hipster Legionnaires
Their bronze helms gleaming in the sun
Unmindful of the stares
That greeted them from lesser folk
Who smiled and shook their heads
And snickered at the garish joke
That was the Legion threads
The uniforms were patched and torn
As if they had much wear
As if they often had been worn
And changed to suit the air
That wafted as the gentle breeze
From what is hip to not
Changing color with such ease
To match what’s newly hot
The hipster legion, ranks maintained
Marched briskly to a prize
So changeable yet still contained
True beauty in their eyes

Laurel Wreaths

Most of us have never been awarded a laurel wreath. We fantasize, at times, of the life we never led, a life of daring, of honors and accomplishment. For the great majority of us the honors are never bestowed, the laurel wreaths never worn. And yet, we often forget that true honor comes from just doing your best and doing your duty, to your family, your country and to God.

Sometimes I think of all the things
That I might well have done
A cure for cancer, a hit play
Would surely have been fun
An MVP, a Series ring
A trophy case jammed full
Of honors, laurels and the like
‘Twould take a horse to pull
A rock star with my name in lights
A starlet on my arm
A winner of the Triple Crown
From my Kentucky farm
We dream these dreams behind closed doors
So that no one will know
Then go to work and do our job
In rain or sleet or snow
Wreathed laurels do not make a man
Nor honors write a life
A man’s defined by how he loves
His family and his wife
Our daydreams are but might have beens
Of laurels never won
But I’m content for I have both
A daughter and a son
To whom I’ve left a world at large
For them to make their way
I see them realize their dreams
And cherish every day

The Chosin Reservoir

A friend of many years was a First Lieutenant, Dog Company, Composite Battalion, Seventh Marines. When they were forced to pull out of their positions at Chosin Reservoir, the Company commander held a hill with part of the company, giving command of the rest of the company to my friend. The Company commander and his men held the hill until everyone got out, and won the Medal of Honor posthumously. My friend, the sole surviving officer of Dog Company, and about thirty or so survivors of the Company were the point for a convoy of 400 wounded Marines trying to get to Hungnam and the sea. Somewhere along a twisting mountain road the convoy came under mortar attack from some Chinese who had come down the back side of the hills. We have all seen what happened to the Second Division when they were caught on a mountain road and came under mortar attack. The handful of Dog Company riflemen went into the hills and pushed the Chinese off in a fierce firefight. In the engagement my friend was wounded, but the convoy of wounded was now able to move. They reached Hungnam and the hospital ships. My friend won the Navy Cross. Generals can plan, Generals can anticipate, but it takes men to fight and die for each other.

In bitter cold, the frozen ice
The Yalu crossed at night
The Chinese came with bugle calls
As flares turned dark to light
The First Marines recoiled when hit
Outnumbered, they pulled back
And piled the wounded onto trucks
And took a mountain track
To Hungnam and the waiting ships
But somewhere down the track
Chinese mortars waited them
There was no turning back
The remnants of Dog Company
Exhausted, short on means
Took to the hills and drove them off
Because they were Marines
Yes officers can draw up plans
The whole thing nailed down tight
But plans are notions in the air
Without the men who fight

First Snow

Winter is upon us, with the anticipation of the first big snow. Summer is gone, and in its place winter brings a time of rest and recuperation, a quiet time in preparation for the coming again of the soft scent of buds and blossoms and the sweet, lyrical sound of birdsong.

The sky turned gray by afternoon
A hush fell on the Earth
And all who waited knew quite soon
Would come the winter’s birth
So gently fell the tiny flakes
So quiet lay the wood
A moment seems the time it takes
To cover all that stood
Between the house and the first line
Of trees now white snow wrapped
With crystals that first seemed so fine
That on my windows tapped
In comfort on my kitchen chair
My coffee hot and strong
I felt compelled to sit and stare
At nature’s winter song
The summer leaves that long ago
Had left the branches bare
Were covered now with crystal snow
While deep in every lair
The tiny creatures sleeping lay
They knew ‘twould last the night
And when it stops it’s time for play
A wonder world of white
The snow grew heavy, leaving casts
Of mounded, rounded heaps
Beneath imagined pirates’ masts
Concealing treasure keeps
By dusk the driven, windrowed snow
Had blanketed the wood
And on the deck by kitchen glow
A lonely bird bath stood
It seemed but minutes had gone by
For nature’s big parade
To paint the Earth from leaden sky
As daylight turned to shade

A One Punch Fighter

A recent analysis of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 claimed the invasion was doomed to failure from the start because only 10% of the German panzers would have mechanically survived the trip to Moscow over the horrific Soviet roadnet. This argument is facile at best. Reminds me of the first Desert Storm when every liberal posing as a military expert assured us that the Abrams tanks would stall out after ten miles because of sand in the filters. In the Spring of 1942 Hitler foolishly sent the panzers on a wild goose chase of a thousand miles to the Crimea, effectively taking them out of the war for the entire summer, and the panzers survived the horrific roadnet. The German army of WW2 was well trained, equipped and led, but was essentially a one punch fighter. When he hit you you went down, but if you got back up you could beat him. In similar fashion Obama is a one punch fighter, and now, thanks to the 2014 midterm elections, he’s down and he won’t get up.

He threw the punch and down we went
A trillion dollars was misspent
Obamacare was passed and meant
That hope and change had won
The Supreme Court then had its say
And once again he’d won the day
But something happened on the way
The fight was not quite done
The ’14 midterms saw defeat
Barackist legions in retreat
And down he went flat on his seat
No longer now the One

Thanksgiving, 2014

There is much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. First and foremost, if you are reading this you are alive, and just being alive is cause for celebration.

Behold the beauty of the storm
The sunlight glint on crystal snow
The friends and kin that keep you warm
A late night fire’s dimming glow
A glass of wine, a book to read
Soft music lulling off to sleep
Someone to love, that’s all you need
The memories you’ll always keep
The faces of those gone before
The kindnesses you can recall
That friendly knock upon the door
As friends pour laughing down the hall
A life is full of highs and lows
We see the sunlight turn to gray
But then the dawn, a golden rose
As we begin another day
God gives us all the space and time
To make of life just what we will
A purposed life or pantomime
It matters not, He’s with us still

The New Flagellants

Up ahead a small group of people walked slowly on the shoulder of the road, heading south for God knows where. Penitents they called themselves, convinced the plague was a punishment from God, and determined to atone for all past sins, real and imagined. Dressed in ankle length roughcloth robes and hand-made sandals, they wandered the Interstates, determined to redeem the souls of all the departed, fervent in the belief that by traveling the country once inhabited by those now departed souls, mortifying themselves enroute, they could convince God to let up a little. (From Susan Darling, a mystery/thriller by Walter Erickson) 

Flagellants are not new. They appeared in the 13th century in response to the Black Death, and rather lately in New Mexico in the nineteenth century where they called themselves Los Hermanos Penitentes. But these were original penitents, beating themselves with knotted cords, crying to God for succor. Present day flagellants do not pray to God, they pray to Gaia, and they do not physically beat themselves with whips, they try to beat others into appeasing the great Earth goddess, usually to their financial and spiritual benefit.

No longer does the knotted cord
Hang by their side with which to flay
The body of the sick and bored
Who call on God to save the day
The penitentes with us now
No longer travel on bare feet
Preferring Guccis, smiling ciao
To every sucker that they meet
Save the planet! is their cry
Fossil fuels will kill us all
Like the dinosaurs we’ll die
Who were once here you will recall
One hundred fifty million years
It took them to destroy the Earth
While many of you shed no tears
For this the land of Gaia’s birth
Come join us as we save you guys
From global warming which will melt
The ice caps causing seas to rise
From dams that kill endangered smelt
From newts and toads rained down from high
Yes Gaia weeps for we’re the ones
Who litter lawns as we drive by
And frack the shale once warmed by suns
We weep for all who do not care
We weep for all who just refuse
To lighten up the load we bear
And tell the truth we need the dues