Yesterday I realized that I have not written anything on this blog for about a month. Just now “what” to write hit me, thanks to a conversation on Facebook. No, for a change, this will NOT be about politics. It is about my new life as a pothead. Well, actually not quite a pothead. One of my Oregon friends thinks I may be the only cannabis user in Oregon who is not driving under the influence. This may (does) have its pleasurable effects, but this is not a recreational activity for me. I was a senior in high school when someone close to me (who will remain nameless and blameless) introduced me to weed. That definitely was recreational. In college the drug of choice was booze and that was illegal enough thank you. But I was an RA and would knock on the doors of the rooms where smoking was obviously happening and instruct them on how to use a wet towel. That was definitely pro-user activity. In the late-1970s I lived in a city in the South and a friend invited me to his family’s home to watch Superman when it was first shown on HBO. He lit up a joint and offered it to me. I enjoyed the show and I don’t remember if I was uncomfortable driving home after, but since there is no memory about it, it must have been fine. In the mid-1980s a friend a I went on a weekend getaway to her family’s vacation home in New England without any husbands or kids. Another friend handed me a small gift, as it... read more
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I must love my enemies: I have made so many of them. Whether I, drowning, flailed rescuers, or, terrier-nervous, yapped. defending God knows what from God knows whom, or thought I was the jester, licensed to wound, I drove you all away. I wanted room to grow my crooked stem, so sprouted thorns. or, as self-consuming candle, blindly burned in guttering isolation, or vacuum-drained– as a black hole does the sky–all warmth and light. Emperor of sunny nursery play. I took all as due, nor wondered how or why. Pursuit of justice was a good excuse to wear the jackboots of some public cause and stab a friend for a stranger’s brief applause. It simplified affection’s murky snarl to make such clean incisions. I have hurled babies and bathwater out for a better world. But mostly I won your enmity with love too fast too soon, my overwhelming wave of self too bountiful, too gladly given. To save yourselves from my self you were driven if not to anger to politic escape. I said I love you: you foresaw a rape. You must have loved me, enemies, to have left. dreading the waste and smother of my gift. sensing my naked need to be received. Hard love withholds indulgence: you withheld. Such closeness both of us would soon have scalded. You could avoid what could not be repelled. Safer, of course, to love thus at a distance– a dream of faces gone, but nearly kissed– blending across the years without resistance. yin lost in yang, and none knows when or how. But there is safety even in my... read more
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Let’s follow the money — if only we could! We have a scandalous presidential administration right now unrivaled since the days of Warren G. Harding and the Teapot Dome Scandal, et al. The Trump scandals make the Richard Nixon administration resemble, as someone has said, “a conclave of the cardinals at the Vatican.” All presidents since Nixon (minus one–Ford) have made their income taxes public. A president’s income taxes, like yours and mine, effectively reveal where a president’s money comes from, deductibles, and with a little effort, how it is spent. President Trump has no reason to withhold his taxes unless, clearly, there is evidence therein of transactions he does not want his constituents (you and me–all of us!) to know about. The Trump administration has, without shame, employed the scandalous “Pay to Play” ploy when appointing members of his cabinet and sub-cabinet positions. Secretary of Education Betsy De Vos said, according to the Los Angeles Times, it’s “possible” her family has contributed $200 million to the Trump campaign. Would De Vos, who is absolutely devoid of qualifications for the post, have been chosen Secretary of Education without the aforesaid contribution? According to the Washington Post, “together with their families, Trump’s nominees gave $11.6 million to support his presidential bid, his allied super PACs and the Republican National Committee….One single appointee–WWE co-founder Linda McMahon–contributed $5 million to back his White House run before Trump selected her to run the Small Business Administration….” The McMahon family were top outside donors to Trump’s private foundation! Follow the money! What happened to the $500,000 that was donated to the Trump inaugural festivities... read more
A recent op-ed piece by a leader of the United Methodist Church, published in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch, urged West Virginia’s U. S. Senators to save Medicaid so that federal funds can continue to help break the grip of the opioid epidemic. This thoughtful article offers the theological hook–the parable of The Good Samaritan–on which to hang a political imperative to increase access to federal funds for substance abusers to receive care. Although the story of The Good Samaritan is a good story, another parable–the Prodigal Son–is, in my opinion, more instructional and worthy of being taken into consideration for addressing the current drug problem. In the story of the Prodigal Son, a young man leaves home and squanders his portion of his inheritance by living a less-than- desirable lifestyle. He eventually finds himself broke, hungry, neglected and living in a pigsty. It is here that he “comes to his senses” and makes a decision to go back home. He then starts walking. As he approaches home, the young man’s father runs down the road to meet his son and hugs him in a welcoming embrace. The story of The Prodigal Son does not tell us why the young man left home and what motivated him to take a walk on the wild side (I’m sure he had his reasons). The story also does not tell us whether the father knew his son was grubbing around in a pigsty far from home (I think he did, but chose to stay home). But, one thing we know for sure–the squanderer got out of the muck by coming to his senses and... read more
My residence is a funeral home in West Virginia. I live among the dead. Night and day, I witness the arrival of dead West Virginians from my apartment atop the funeral home garage. I hear the sobs of loved ones who bid farewell in the chapel down below. Sad songs echo in my home place, Christian anthems once reserved mostly for natural deaths now performed often for the overdosed, the suicides and those killed by coal. For me, death by misused drugs is not theoretical. Suicides are no rumor. And coalfield departures are not left to my imagination. The unnaturally deceased arrive, in mounting numbers, at my doorstep without fanfare on stretchers for me to see, firsthand. Such blatancy is injurious to my soul. Not to mention my civility. Many of my neighbors are in disbelief when I tell them that deaths from cancer, black lung, suicide and drug addiction are outpacing natural causes for the first time in our written history. To them, such deaths are simply statistics to be denied. From my funereal vantage point, such deaths cannot be refuted. How difficult must it be for someone not as profoundly acquainted with death as I am to understand what it means when I tell you that, in mountaintop removal mining counties in central Appalachia, an additional 60,000 cases of cancer are directly linked to federally sanctioned strip mining. Not until you see, personally, a withered body made so by deadly particulate blown by strip miners into our mountain air can you appreciate, fully, just how toxic and lethal our land has become. I am dismayed by what... read more