2020, the Year in Review

Well, ladies and gents, despite this being a year of too many foul subtractions, too much self-isolation, and a cluster bombed political landscape about as verdant as a WWI battlefield, this blog has enjoyed significant success, if you count success in the number of visitors who peeked in and the total number of hits registered on the site.

A record shattering year with 37,840 hits and 22,969 visitors from 132 countries

Perhaps, we can attribute this growth in readership to the old adage misery loves company.

At any rate, here’s a look backward at some of what I consider the worthiest posts. To revisit the posts, hit the highlighted word, which will transport you to the piece in its entirety. In January I was ignorant that old man contagion was hiding behind a tree laying (sic) in wait to throw at brick.[1]Nevertheless, not realizing that many would turn to the solace of spirits (not to mention IPAs and spiked seltzers) in the coming months, prophetically I posted a pro-alcohol piece .

To counterbalance the somewhat positive with sort of negative, I also produced this piece on the great American songwriter Stephen Foster. 

February

On February 15th, Caroline and I visited Mosquito Beach’s Island Breeze for the last time, not knowing it was the last time. Alas and Alack!

By 29 February, the virus was flourishing, so I published this enlightening expose on vultures.

March

The Charleston community lost a richly talented English teacher, a learned Charleston historian, and lovely human being, Erica Lesesne.

Also, my pal the poet Jason Chambers allowed me to read and record on of his compositions.


April

April is, as Eliot, put it, is the cruelest month, so I brought this post up from the dead land, the first post directly dealing with the pandemic

I also wrote a poem dedicated to my friend Richard O’Prey, who is alive and well I’m happy to say. 

May

My wife Caroline wrote this brilliant villanelle in memory of my first wife Judy Birdsong who died on Mother’s Day of 2017. There’s an audio clip of Caroline reading that accompanies the text of the poem.

I also bid farewell to Porter-Gaud’s Class of 2020 who lost out on the springtime rituals of severance they so richly deserved. 

June

With the year half done, I came up with this pandemic parody of of William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus.” 

July

In July, I began a series dedicated to my native town of Summerville. Here’s the most popular one that brings together two rather antithetical citizens of that once quaint village. 

August

Not much going on in August. Here’s another one from the Summerville series chronicling my first night ever spent in a jail.

September

For some odd reason, I had death on my mind

October

Another pandemic poem, this one on the wearing of masks. 

November

With the election seemingly over, I posted this celebratory poem

Also, here are a handful of videos celebrating George Alan Fox and Chico Feo’s  Songwriters’ Soap Box Open Mike Extravaganza.

 

December

Ah, those lazy crazy deathly dangerous days of college.

Thanks to all of you who stop by and read the blog, especially my regulars, Rodney, Bill and Dana, Furman, Sue, Gary, and, of course, my siblings, and my loving, patient, and beautiful wife Caroline.


[1] With apologies to Ry Cooder

Marvelous Night for a Moon Dance

brought to you by Foxy G’s Smoky Goodness!!

Here are some brief videos chronicling a bit of what went down at the Songwriter Soap Box last night on the Edge of America.

The first clip features singer/songwriter Fleming Moore accompanied by bluesman Robert Lighthouse on guitar and an unnamed percussionist.

Next, Robert Lighthouse solo, laying down some blues.

Here’s an excerpt of Jason Chambers reading one of his poems.

Too, too short of a clip of the incomparable Danielle Howle.

Sorry, I couldn’t provide videos for all of the performers who included George Alan Fox, Pernell McDaniel, Toomey Tucker, Charlie Stonecypher, Pete Burbage, Eric Barnett, Jeff Lowry, Jamime Crisp, George Honeycutt and Bobby Sutton, Eliza Novella, and Leon David.

Doom and Gloom and the Amazon: Halloween Edition

illustration from the Library of Congress

Well, my son Ned who lives in Nuremburg and contracted the Coronavirus early in its planetary conquest, informs me that cases in Germany are again spiking, and sure enough, my phone flashed during last night’s woeful Braves game with the news President Emmanuel Macron has slapped a 9PM to 6AM curfew on the great cities of France. These Post-Christian Europeans with their rational approaches to contagion have been much more adept than we mega-church-building North Americans at containing the disease, so if the virus has returned with a vengeance to that venerable continent, you can bet we’re in store for a not very merry Christmas nor all that happy of a new year.

Add to that dolorous prediction, the reality that roughly half of the US population is going to suffer despair this autumn because their presidential choice will not be inaugurated on January 20th.  

For the Trump faithful, a Biden presidency will bring about the destruction of suburbia. The well-trimmed hedges and lawns of planned communities will soon be covered in the choking kudzu of socialism, with its artificially high minimum wage ushering in hordes of immigrant workers usurping the American way of life. No one will be safe to walk the sidewalks as the police will be defunded and public safety left in the hands of patriotic militias roaming hellscapes in a never-ending dystopian action movie.

For Biden supporters, a Trump presidency means the end of the American experiment as our democratic republic follows Russia, Hungary, and Turkey into the realm of authoritarian kleptocracy. All too soon, they fear, Trump’s visage will appear on Mt. Rushmore while Ivanka’s profile will replace FDR’s on our dimes.[1] A never ending torrent of his mean-spirited and mendacious tweets will corrupt our children with the Trumpian ethos of amorality, and no one will be allowed to protest because fascist militias will terrorize hellscapes in a never-ending dystopian action movie.[2]

Envy, O my brothers and sisters, the tribes of the Amazon. Here’s a snippet from Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosas 1990 novella The Storyteller:

The great trauma that turned the Incas into a people of sleepwalkers and vassals hasn’t yet occurred [among the Amazonian tribes]. We’ve attacked them ferociously, but they’re not beaten. We know now what an atrocity bringing progress, trying to modernize a primitive people, is. Quite simply, it wipes them out. Let’s not commit this crime. Let’s leave them with their arrows, their feathers, their loincloths. When you approach them and observe them with respect, with a little fellow feeling, you realize it’s not right to call them barbarians or backward. Their culture is adequate for their environment and for the conditions they live in. And, what’s more, they have a deep and subtle knowledge of things that we’ve forgotten. The relationship between man and Nature, for instance. Man and the trees, the birds, the rivers, the earth, the sky. Man and God, as well. We don’t even know what the harmony that exists between man and those things can be, since we’ve shattered it forever.”

So, if once again, we find ourselves in lockdown, stuck at home in a quarantine, it might be a good idea to abandon our screens  – this blog included ­– and wander back into the three-dimensional world and pay a bit more attention to “Man and the trees, the birds, the rivers, the earth, the sky. Man and God, as well” as Llosa’s narrator Mascarita suggests.

Oh, yes, and to keep a wary eye out for those militias. 

photograph by Jason Chambers

[1] By the way, when is the last time you’ve meted out change on a counter to pay for something?

[2] Quick news quiz. Which of the five freedoms of the First Amendment was Judge Barrett unable to recall in yesterday’s Supreme Court Senate Hearing?

Illustration by Patrick Bremer via The New Yorker

What We Cannot See or Really Know

keeper

photograph by Jason Chambers

 

What We Cannot See or Really Know

 

 

“All overgrown with azure moss and flowers . . . ”

                                    Percy Bysshe Shelley

                                                                        For Jason Chambers

 

Way deep inside in the protean corpuscular reaches,

invisible to the outer-us, somehow, some entity is in charge, monitoring

infection, ordering T-Cell retaliatory attacks

against whatever globular intruder is oozing for a fight.

 

An awareness extraordinaire, this whatever it is, catapulting sneezes

to expel trespassing pollen, shaken from trees,

which too have something very similar transpiring beneath their bark beyond their notice:

 

Cellular division, sexual bloom and reproduction, spores spindling from

green needles bristling in the breeze.

 

Mysterious invisible over-souls of a sort, under-see-ers.

 

 

Yet, our inner gods eventually let us down. The oncologist said,

“Your immune system has failed you ­– twice now.”

 

 

Heart heard and began to run fast at the news.

Cellular Insurrection Afoot, above the fold,

Graphs below of life expectancy looking dire, going down, down,

 

down back into the dirt we go,

dirt that covers windblown seeds

 

as clouds shed a few of their aitches and ohs ­

 

and oohs and aahs

 

engendering over and over

what we cannot see

or really know.

 

A Poem by Jason Chambers

jason dog

Here’s a kickass poem by a friend of mine, Jason Chambers, a cat who every morning clambers out of bed in the dark to encounter the dawn in a marsh or on a beach or some other natural setting unsullied by humankind. Afterwards, he posts a photo on Facebook, an appropriate quote from his wide reading, and usually a link to a song he deems appropriate. Once the plague is done, you can catch him at the Pour House when it hosts one of its poetry readings.

A poem by Jason Chambers, read by Wesley Moore

 

In the first month of this year
I saw a thing as pure and true as any
but did not then know what it meant.
I stood behind the Kings on the deck,
and though I could not see it,
Liz knew without looking that
Brian’s head hung for a
moment just a little too heavy,
his shoulders had dropped, just so,
wounded by the world in
some invisible way.
She reached her arm up and
around him to squeeze for a
moment one shoulder, just so,
and let her head fall on the other.

Four months later our neighbors
up the creek shoot day and night
at paper silhouettes on which they
can never quite find their fear.
The report hangs over the water
like a foretaste of despair,
and we are all the time being
urged to temper our hopes,
to be realistic, and practical.

But I have met enough dogs,
low, shimmying, tail-waggers,
squirming back-layers, and
all manner of face-lickers, to
know there is no upper limit
to bliss, and the line between
heaven and earth was never there,
and I ignore their advice.

Finally it is clear why God,
however perfect, chose not
to exist alone for even
one whole second.

Listen: everywhere musicians
sit in empty rooms yet play
and sing to thousands.
And my friend is for the first time
planting every inch of his farm,
the low field, the far field,
even the wet field.
He says, I’m going right up
to the house.
Whatever else happens,
we will all eat.

When Liz let go, they both stood
up straight, taller than before,
determined as only those
deeply in love can be.

We start from a place of joy,
and quiet astonishment.
We do not end anywhere.
We do not end at all.
Now is the barefoot season.
It cannot be taken away.

 

jason and me

Jason and me, Caroline Tigner Moore’s sunglasses, and a couple of All Day IPAs