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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Excerpt from my book

I have a book coming out soon: Rachel's Children: Surviving the Second World War. To give readers a glimpse of some of the entries I will provide a few blogs with samples in the hope that you will want to read the whole book when it comes out through All Things That Matter Press. Here is the first of several selections:

The year 1939 marked the beginning of a war eventually affecting the entire world in one way or another for the next six years. Although the United States would not enter until 1941, in England and continental Europe, life began to change dramatically following the German military's invasion of Poland September 1, 1939. Hitler's armies showed little mercy for the inhabitants of countries considered for German expansion, its lebensraum.

Children began to hear their elders speak of impending war and then its beginning, without a full understanding of such consequences. Parents tried to reassure their children by saying that war was not good, but that little ones would be all right. Two days after Germany invaded Poland, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany, and Warsaw fell to the German Army by the end of September. In the beginning, France was spared from invasion, and children there believed assurances that they would be safe. Fathers in France and elsewhere, however, soon began to be drafted into the armed services.

A duck flies out of the pond. A rooster crows.
The field begins to wear brown. Grasshoppers
lose their summer green; the music fades
from their wings. Cannon boom like drums
of war over the hill, as dark-clad troops follow
the commands of death. A baby shrieks,
a summons comes to a home in France.
Poland is lost.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Time for Poetry

It is time -- it is time now
to rid ourselves of prose.
The government cannot lie
when it speaks to us in verse.

There are days when I find it hard to distinguish between lies and innuendos and the truth. Even my favorite columnists and online news and opinion feeds can't be trusted fully for truth-telling, nor can my favorite TV news and commentary programs be reliable all the time for unbiased delivery. It comes down to the necessity for me to forage through all the heavy-handed opinions and editorials and weigh them on the scales of reason before I buy into what is stated.

That's why I wrote the poem that closes my chapbook of poetry, "Let Us All Be Poets." Poetry, regardless of the words, is the metaphor for truth: truth of vision, of understanding, of perception. It is why even in my prose books of stories I have begun adding poems as commentary. Rachel's Children: Surviving the Second World War, my most recent book and soon to be published with All Things That Matter Press, carries poem commentaries on the experiences of those who were children during WWII. And now I embark on another collection of stories, to tell of animals who have been rescued from disasters and terrible conditions of abuse and neglect, and now are ready for homes of care and compassion.

Stories have a way of fitting together into long and connecting episodes, but run the risk of overstatements or missing the pathos or joy of an experience. Thus poems set things right again and speak beyond fact, telling the truth. We cannot live without poetry. The ancients knew that, yet in our own time it is often taught in such a way as to drive the sensitive and perceptive among us away from stanzas into the mire of prose unenlightened by reality. Even in biblical literature, it is the Psalms, or Jeremiah's and Isaiah's departure from prophetic prose into poetry that informs us most deeply. It is the metaphor and ancient hymns of gospel and epistle that reveal the essence of the divine most clearly. Poetry is the essential thread for revelation.

Just once, I'd like to hear a candidate for political office make a pitch for votes by voicing promises in the form of a poem. I would in all likelihood vote for that person in a heartbeat over one who fills the air with emptiness and false hope, with manipulated charges against opponents that are at best only partially correct. Let's hear the truth in place of hype and chicanery and silly innuendos. Let's hear a poem.