School Vignette – It was God’s girfriend

Late in April, shortly after Easter, as I worked I overheard two third graders discussing God. “Why was God killed?” the boy asked. “Why did they kill God?” he asked her. “Because he was in trouble,” she answered. “What kind of trouble?” he wanted to know. “What trouble?” “It was because of a girl.” “What girl?” the boy demanded. “God was in trouble because of his girlfriend. They killed God because of his girlfriend.” Case settled.

School Vignette – Who made God

Fourth graders talking behind me as I write a report. “Who made God?” I overhear Felix ask Juan. “God made God,” Juan says confidently. It seems settled until Felix says, “How can God make God?” ‘I don’t know,” Juan answers. After a moment he adds, “God’s mother made him.” “Then who made God’s mother?” Felix replies, “I don’t know… God’s mother’s mother made God.” “And who made her?” “His mother’s mother’s mother,” he repeats. “Stop asking ‘Who made God?'” But Felix insists, “Who made her?” I don’t know Juan yells, “Google it.”

School Vignette – Boys just want to have fun

We’d been hosting live weekly PA announcements in the school for well over a decade. Some classes were featured much more often than others. It was unfair–they were the stars of RADIO 50. As it interrupted instructional time, you can imagine it was quite popular. And speaking was an honor. Today we chose a class that had never been on the air before. “Who wants to lead the school song?” I asked. Half a dozen hands shot up in the air like a spray of peacock feathers. They were more than enthusiastic, their energy exploded and disrupted the room. We settled them down before they marched merrily into the main office. Giggles and chatter, splattered the office as we pushed the PA button and waited for the on-the-air signal. Sure enough, the leader took the lead and led the charge. They belted the song out of the park. Applause and congratulations filled the room when they signed off. Instantly the main phone line rang and the receptionist’s face tightened, “I’ll pass your message,” she said. “Jose said, ‘butt cheeks,'” the complainant said. “I know it was him, I recognized his voice,” she said. Fierce denials amid accusations percolated, then ignited a rage of blame game through the ranks of the waist-high troubadour caravan. Pointing fingers, like metal filings settling on a magnet narrowed down to the most likely usual suspect. His denials grew fiercer. Borderline tears filled his eyes. “If you lie, you won’t go to heaven,” Angel said more than once. His angelic curls swirled as his conviction grew stronger. “We’ll have to tell your parents.” “One person can ruin it for everyone.” “No more RADIO 50.” Adult threats and consequences rained down on the shrunken leader. His head hung low as he slunk away.  Glory upended by defeat. Later that evening the school held a talent show. Once again he emerged as the leader willing to lead the charge. Before he got on stage I called him over. “Jose, are you going to say ‘butt cheeks?” He looked guilty, then embarrassed, then he shyly smiled and said, “I just wanted to have a little fun.” Then he leapt on the stage and knocked it out of the park again.

paulclarkesongs

Songs and excerpts from a literary work in progress

Eco-justice, social-justice, topical, timeless, and zany, my treasure-trove of songs will be available for purchase in addition to narrative excerpts from a literary work in progress.

$1.00

Health Care

Today the People’s House postpones a vote on Health Care Bill. They don’t have the votes. Plan ‘B’ will be more severe, more austere, more insincere. Time for Plan ‘C’ – Universal, Single Payer. It’s eminently affordable, humane, and civilized. Partisan poison infects the body politic and the soul of the nation. Shame on US.

The Beach at Tulum

I’m at the apex, the pinnacle

the crest of the wave

riding in the trough

between the cradle and grave

I’m at the zenith, the high-point

the sun in the sky

walking on the Earth

it’s a good day to die.

I ride Poseidon’s blue mane, wrapped in silky, salty, cheery bliss beyond words. I say the unsayable, “Today is a good day to die.” The beach at Tulum has seduced me, beguiled, enjoined me to suspend my disbelief, to release my critical faculties, to sacrifice and surrender my defenses and battle plans at the altar of the eternal sea. Tropical, winter waves, bounce and trounce me, a drop of nada, in a wrap-around ocean. They would break me in pieces on the shore.  Wind-swept crests, roar this water train that carries me lost and found beyond the blue sky and white clouds.. The moon will be full bright tonight. The beach at Tulum – a total eclipse of life.

To Steve Bannon: Did I hear Apocalypse, Again?

––the complete final destruction of the world?  especially as described in the biblical book of Revelation? I’ve heard it said, the gods try to awaken us. Awaken us to participate in the awesome, mystery of heaven on earth, or as Joseph Campbell says, “in the agony of time and the rapture of eternity.” Joe’s rapture is not an ‘end-time’ event, that would E-ZPass a mere 144,000 souls, spared god’s wrath, through heaven’s gate. I think Campbell’s gods are not that mean. We’re invited to listen to the gods’ first of many appeals through our small, inner voices–the whispers in silence, or next, as Carl Jung advises, through, “dreams which are little hidden doors to the innermost soul,” which, if we fail to remember, present as meaningful coincidences and sychronicities happening during the day, and lest we finally awaken, plagued we become by catastrophes, diseases, and disasters–all of which we have brought upon ourselves. Is that where we are today? Those convinced of apocalyptic endings are not unlike the man stuck on his roof during a flood who repeatedly turned away assistance because he was waiting for god. “No thanks,” he said, “I’m praying to god for rescue me. God answers, “I came as a man with a ladder, as a sailor in boat, by emergency helicopter, and you refused me.” Did he drown? Can we step back from a self-fulfilling, prophetic precipice, of Apocalyptic fantasies? Hasn’t our conception and experience of god matured? Isn’t the ‘battle-field’ always and everywhere here and now? Isn’t life the open field of opportunity to contest good and evil inside our very own hearts every step, everyday? Surely these little, personal battles would spare us a Big Bang remix. Our omnipotent, apocalyptic fantasies, betray a pathological lack of imagination, a total blinding effect of literalizing and concretizing scripture, metaphor, symbols, and images, and our diseased projections then create the very evil we seek to destroy in others, and no supernal, intensity of violence is great enough to annihilate that which cannot be vanquished by force. 

On Betsy DeVos

The vote, tipped by one man is not a mandate, but, given our winner take all mindset, a continental divide nonetheless. So, change will trickle down the slope on high based on one vote. The ‘majority of one,’ has a noble pedigree, according to Thoreau, “any man more right than his neighbors, constitutes a majority of one.” I fear we’ve come to read this as, “any man more powerful than his neighbors, constitutes a majority of one.” The powers that be may delude themselves to feel as ‘big fishes in small ponds’ but ultimately, the immanence of death, and the mysteries of the universe render us ‘small fishes in an incomprehensibly large pond.’ Our ‘powerful’ ideas, ideals, beliefs, fears, and actions about education are not tempered with humility and informed by participants and troops in the trenches, by kids in school playgrounds, and by communities intimately stitched into and dependent on local schools. Schooling children has become an insidious business, an industry, a religion?, that  sunders our integral connection to each other, to our families, to the natural life-cycle, to the Earth, and to the Inner Reachers of Outer Space  by Joseph Campbell. This dystopian vision disempowers all stakeholders, billionaires and penny-stricken alike, and everything immediate, transient, and transcendently beautiful is dismissed, disregarded, even – invisible, for if ‘it’ can not be measured, captured, commodified, it doesn’t exist. What did Einstein remind us? –”Not everything that counts can be measured, and not everything that can be measured counts.”  How do we go forward? In desperation I would even admit religion back in schools, if it be the Dali Lama’s – whose religion is kindness. 

Post-election blues.

And what about blue? Solitary? Distant? Cold? Empty? From ashes I rise and set to work. I say, “No,” to hatred, and stoking fear, with violent intolerance of myself and the ‘other’. “No,” to my ignorance, arrogance, greed, entitlement, moral complacency, ethical torpor…in a word – sleepfullness (without the effortless gift of dreams). I have found the enemy and he is me. Blue. My complicity, my discreet and guileful selectivity, my self-interest. And blue? Sorrow? Fear? Longing? For what? For whom? I say, “Yes,” to life. To it all! Birthing, aging, dying, loving, losing, beauty. “Yes,” to horror and terror, that I may greet the monsters at the door and slow their violent entry, into the gods paradises. “Yes,” to mingling with the creatures of the Earth, immersed in a soul that would intenerate the spirit, make tender hard hearts, open closed minds, and unfurl twisted fists. “Yes,” to Blake, who saw a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wildflower. Blues of longing, for a vast future of peace and wonder and love. “Yes,” to the soles of our feet that sojourn across the planet. “Yes,” to the millions of blue students in classrooms across the nation and the world. I sing the post-election blues.