Friday, September 30, 2011

The Beautiful Tennessee Waltz

The Tennessee Waltz was my dad's favorite song.  The photo is my dad and mom, (Pike and Doris), at their 50th wedding anniversary.


THE BEAUTIFUL TENNESSEE WALTZ

They joined hands; fingers locked
They strolled the October night
Passed the field where grain was shocked
The harvest moon was blue and bright

They walked slowly without talking
Their eyes spoke silent thought
What a joy there was in walking
What wonder the night had brought

The Saturday dance had just begun
The old red barn was bright and warm
The band tuned up for a night of fun
For Saturday night at the Joneses farm

The first dance was the Autumn Waltz
They glided across the old wooden floor
Their eyes locked in a question true or false
At the end, the dancers clapped for more

The night wore on; they danced every dance
Time had flown by – it was getting late
Their eyes were locked; they were in a trance
Soon the Joneses would lock the gate

The Tennessee Waltz was the very last
It was a waltz they would call their own
After all of the wonderful years had passed
They would hum it when they were alone


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Autumn Leaves


AUTUMN LEAVES

Pumpkin sacks full of orange autumn leaves
Line the roadway to be hauled away
The leaves fell to the ground in a flurry
They were in such a hurry
For children to jump and roll in their midst
Happy autumn leaves whose time has come
Will fall again, one by one

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Bounty of Fall



Windrows of golden straw shout a bountiful harvest
Mule deer glean the stubble for their share
Too soon snow will cover the spilled grain
Covering it until spring when it volunteers
Still, no one will complain
Pheasants feast on the grain, fattening for winter
Nestling in the straw for warmth
Hiding from the west wind's disdain
The bounty of fall on which the wildlife
Sustains

©11/5/07Terry Sutherland

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A FABLE, by Mark Twain


A Fable

by Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Once upon a time an artist who had painted a small and very beautiful picture placed it so that he could see it in the mirror. He said, "This doubles the distance and softens it, and it is twice as lovely as it was before."
The animals out in the woods heard of this through the housecat, who was greatly admired by them because he was so learned, and so refined and civilized, and so polite and high-bred, and could tell them so much which they didn't know before, and were not certain about afterward. They were much excited about this new piece of gossip, and they asked questions, so as to get at a full understanding of it. They asked what a picture was, and the cat explained.
"It is a flat thing," he said; "wonderfully flat, marvelously flat, enchantingly flat and elegant. And, oh, so beautiful!"
That excited them almost to a frenzy, and they said they would give the world to see it. Then the bear asked:
"What is it that makes it so beautiful?"
"It is the looks of it," said the cat.
This filled them with admiration and uncertainty, and they were more excited than ever. Then the cow asked:
"What is a mirror?"
"It is a hole in the wall," said the cat. "You look in it, and there you see the picture, and it is so dainty and charming and ethereal and inspiring in its unimaginable beauty that your head turns round and round, and you almost swoon with ecstasy."
The ass had not said anything as yet; he now began to throw doubts. He said there had never been anything as beautiful as this before, and probably wasn't now. He said that when it took a whole basketful of sesquipedalian adjectives to whoop up a thing of beauty, it was time for suspicion.
It was easy to see that these doubts were having an effect upon the animals, so the cat went off offended. The subject was dropped for a couple of days, but in the meantime curiosity was taking a fresh start, and there was a revival of interest perceptible. Then the animals assailed the ass for spoiling what could possibly have been a pleasure to them, on a mere suspicion that the picture was not beautiful, without any evidence that such was the case. The ass was not troubled; he was calm, and said there was one way to find out who was in the right, himself or the cat: he would go and look in that hole, and come back and tell what he found there. The animals felt relieved and grateful, and asked him to go at once--which he did.
But he did not know where he ought to stand; and so, through error, he stood between the picture and the mirror. The result was that the picture had no chance, and didn't show up. He returned home and said:
"The cat lied. There was nothing in that hole but an ass. There wasn't a sign of a flat thing visible. It was a handsome ass, and friendly, but just an ass, and nothing more."
The elephant asked:
"Did you see it good and clear? Were you close to it?"
"I saw it good and clear, O Hathi, King of Beasts. I was so close that I touched noses with it."
"This is very strange," said the elephant; "the cat was always truthful before--as far as we could make out. Let another witness try. Go, Baloo, look in the hole, and come and report."
So the bear went. When he came back, he said:
"Both the cat and the ass have lied; there was nothing in the hole but a bear."
Great was the surprise and puzzlement of the animals. Each was now anxious to make the test himself and get at the straight truth. The elephant sent them one at a time.
First, the cow. She found nothing in the hole but a cow.
The tiger found nothing in it but a tiger.
The lion found nothing in it but a lion.
The leopard found nothing in it but a leopard.
The camel found a camel, and nothing more.
Then Hathi was wroth, and said he would have the truth, if he had to go and fetch it himself. When he returned, he abused his whole subjectry for liars, and was in an unappeasable fury with the moral and mental blindness of the cat. He said that anybody but a near-sighted fool could see that there was nothing in the hole but an elephant.
MORAL, BY THE CAT
You can find in a text whatever you bring, if you will stand between it and the mirror of your imagination. You may not see your ears, but they will be there.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Short Story: The Last Bus to Plainville

The last three days ran together.  They should have been red, white and blue days, happy days, but the colors blended and formed a dark gray; an exhausting, headachy dark gray.  First there was the going away party, then the eighteen hour flight and finally the last grueling ten hours of out-processing at Fort Lewis, Washington.  It should have been a banner experience.  It was not.  It was solemn and exhausting.

Now, the whole ordeal was over.  He was on the bus from Great Falls headed for his little home town on the north central plains of Montana.  Aside from Conrad being his hometown and a place he needed to go after his discharge; there was nothing special about it.  There were no jobs, no opportunities – just a plain ordinary little town.  He closed his eyes and leaned his head against the window and thought about the past few days.  He thought to himself, “I’m on the last bust to Plainville”.

He woke on the morning of the thirteenth.  The early morning jungle sun had already warmed the interior of the GP Medium to 85 degrees.  He sat up and surveyed his surroundings.  He flailed his arms and balled up the mosquito net that had been his blanket.  He was still wearing his boots and fatigues.  He remembered now.  Last night.  Last night was the going-away-party for both he and the Brigade Command Sergeant Major. Galvanized garbage cans filled with beer and ice; now he was remembering.  He was sick.  The hangover and the hot jungle sun made him sick.

He gathered up his aluminum basin, his Vietnamese made mirror with the beer can backing and his razor and walked over to the potable water wagon outside the mess tent.  He drew a little water and shaved.  The water on his face felt good and for a few moments he felt human.

He walked down the small hill below the helipad where he had lived the last couple of months.  He and four other members of the Command Section used the GP Medium as the BEQ.  He was walking down to say goodbye.  Goodbye to the other members of the headquarters section that he had managed for the last year.

“Sarge”, the brand new Aide-De-Camp, Captain Barton called.

“What?” 

“Where were you last night”?

“I was drunk and then I was sleeping”; “Where were you?”

“Did you know we got hit last night?”

“No”.  “What was it, mortars or a ground attack?”

“Mortars”!

“Well, what did you want me to do”?  “Go catch f**kin’ mortars?”

The Aide turned and walked down the hill toward the Tactical Operations Center.  He turned again looked back again and said, “Good luck, Sarge”.

He walked into the Executive Officers tent and said goodbye to Lieutenant Colonel Bender.  He said his farewells to the drivers and orderlies.  Sergeant Major Gillorie had flown to Dong Tre with the S-3 so he could not say goodbye to him. He decided not to say anything to the General.  He walked into the Deputy Brigade Commander’s tent and said, “I’m ready to go when you are, Sir”.  The Colonel said, “Load your shit in my bird and we’ll go”.

He walked into his old office and said to Jim, his replacement, “I’m going to need a final EER signed by the CG, DBC, and the XO”, “Will you do that for me and mail it to my home of residence?” Jim said, “Sure Sarge”, “Good luck”.

The flight to Cam Ranh Bay was uneventful and the Colonel didn’t even shut the bird down when he landed.  The Colonel waved and the LOH lifted and headed west.

He loaded onto the Boeing 707 after a perfunctory and feeble baggage check before boarding.  He thought to himself, “I hope no one is bringing home any live ordnance, I don’t want to think I survived a year and a half in Vietnam just to blow up in the air over Okinawa.  He was finally going home.

After eighteen hours in the air the jet landed at Sea-Tac on April 15, 1969.  He boarded the bus headed to Fort Lewis.

Processing out at Fort Lewis was an ordeal.  It took the better part of eight hours.  Any civilian organization could have accomplished the same tasks in an hour, he thought.  He put on the new Class A uniform they gave him to wear complete with patches and insignias.  He was still Airborne, he would always be Airborne – he bloused his Corcorans as paratroopers do and ran a bit of polish over the toe.  He climbed on the Army shuttle headed for Sea-Tac; the last leg of his trip.  The stinky diesel shuttle left a huge black cloud of smoke as it pulled away from the processing center.  He sat in a window seat and closed his eyes with his head leaned against the window.  He didn’t look back.

His short flight to Great Falls was uneventful; but he couldn’t sleep.  He would spend the night at the Great Falls airport and take the bus to Conrad in the morning.  He found an empty blue naugahyde seat and dropped his duffel bag next to it.  He walked into the airport bar and waited for his eyes to accommodate the low light.  There were three people in the bar and he recognized two of them.  What a small world he thought to himself.  He recognized Jim Arbor from his hometown.  Jim had graduated in the class ahead of him and worked for the chevy dealership as a parts man.  He married Susan Hallon from his class.  They were high school sweethearts.  The other man at the bar was the home town mortician, Eddy Weiss.  He walked up to the bar and ordered scotch and water.  He said hello to Jim.  Jim looked at him with red swollen eyes not recognizing him at first.  He told Jim his named and Jim nodded hello.  Jim asked him what brought him to the airport.  He told him he just got out of the Army.  Jim nodded again.  He asked Jim what he was doing at the airport.  He told him he was there to pick up his brother-in-law Greg.  He said he did not see him on his flight.  Jim told him that it was his body that they were picking up.  He said that Greg had been killed in action on March 21.  He was a crew member on a dust-off that crashed.  They drank all three of them, without another exchange.  He thought to himself that Greg’s body must have been on his plane from Sea-Tac. 

In the morning he caught a taxi and drove off Gore Hill to the old part of town where the bus station was located.

The sixty mile bus trip finally ended.  He stepped off the bus and looked east and then west and thought to himself that nothing had changed here in Plainville.  He tossed his duffel bag over his shoulder and started walking the six blocks west toward his folk’s house.  He thought as he walked that that was the last bus he would ever take to Plainville.

©Terry Sutherland

Saturday, September 24, 2011

DO INSECTS THINK?, by Robert Benchley

Do Insects Think?

by Robert Benchley

In a recent book entitled The Psychic Life of Insects, Professor Bouvier says that we must be careful not to credit the little winged fellows with intelligence when they behave in what seems like an intelligent manner. They may be only reacting. I would like to confront the Professor with an instance of reasoning power on the part of an insect which can not be explained away in any such manner.
During the summer of 1899, while I was at work on my treatise "Do Larvae Laugh," we kept a female wasp at our cottage in the Adirondacks. It really was more like a child of our own than a wasp, except that it looked more like a wasp than a child of our own. That was one of the ways we told the difference.
It was still a young wasp when we got it (thirteen or fourteen years old) and for some time we could not get it to eat or drink, it was so shy. Since it was a female, we decided to call it Miriam, but soon the children's nickname for it--"Pudge"--became a fixture, and "Pudge" it was from that time on.
One evening I had been working late in my laboratory fooling round with some gin and other chemicals, and in leaving the room I tripped over a nine of diamonds which someone had left lying on the floor and knocked over my card catalogue containing the names and addresses of all the larvae worth knowing in North America. The cards went everywhere.
I was too tired to stop to pick them up that night, and went sobbing to bed, just as mad as I could be. As I went, however, I noticed the wasp flying about in circles over the scattered cards. "Maybe Pudge will pick them up," I said half-laughingly to myself, never thinking for one moment that such would be the case.
When I came down the next morning Pudge was still asleep over in her box, evidently tired out. And well she might have been. For there on the floor lay the cards scattered all about just as I had left them the night before. The faithful little insect had buzzed about all night trying to come to some decision about picking them up and arranging them in the catalogue-box, and then, figuring out for herself that, as she knew practically nothing about larvae of any sort except wasp-larvae, she would probably make more of a mess of rearranging them than as if she left them on the floor for me to fix. It was just too much for her to tackle, and, discouraged, she went over and lay down in her box, where she cried herself to sleep.
If this is not an answer to Professor Bouvier's statement that insects have no reasoning power, I do not know what is.
"Do Insects Think?" originally appeared in the collection Love Conquers All by Robert Benchley (Henry Holt and Company, 1922).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Remember When

Remember When

Remember when we were young
The joy we found each day
Skipping rocks in the summer sun
Or sliding down a stack of hay

Fragrances were stronger then
Sharp and acute they were
The perfume of a flowered glen
Or the essence of a mountain fir

Goldenrod by a country pond
Tansy growing by the stream
Of all these things we were fond
Life was a delightful dream

Someday in our golden years
We’ll take back what we had back then
We’ll find the happiness that disappeared 
And we’ll smile when we remember when

©7/7/08Terry Sutherland


Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Children's Night

The Children’s Night

On the darkest October night
When the goblins hoot and howl
Little ones delight in fright
Their mascot is the owl

Holly is the Queen of Hearts
Christopher is a cat
Chase carries a bag of body parts
And wears a pirates hat

Their mission is extortion
Candy they’ll take from you
If you double their portion
They’ll play no trick on you

Keep your light on clear past eight
And watch apparitions in the night
Don’t bother to close the gate
Just watch them with delight

©9/27/07TerryandDenise Sutherland

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

BATHING IN A BARROWED SUIT, by Homer Croy

Bathing in a Borrowed Suit

by Homer Croy (1883-1965)

The desire to be seen on the beach in a borrowed bathing suit is not so strong in me as it once was. An acquaintance, under the guise of friendship, lured me out to his beach one day, saying that he had full rights to the most popular ocean in the world. I had heard his ocean spoken highly of, and I accepted.
Unfortunately I forgot to take my bathing suit, but he said that that was nothing--that he had one that would fit me as the paper on the wall. As I recall it those were his exact words.
At last he found it in the basement, where it seems that the mice, to get the salt, had helped themselves rather liberally to its none too strong fabric. From the holes in the suit it was easy to see that the party had been a merry one and had not broken up till a late hour.
The suit had never been planned for a person of my general architecture. Roughly speaking, I am fashioned along the lines of the Woolworth Building, with a slight balcony effect about the thirty-third floor. The suit had been intended for a smallish person given to bathing principally by himself. It was, in its present state, mostly a collection of holes rather insecurely held together with yarn. The waist would have been tight on a doll, while the trunks looked like a pair of pulse-warmers.
I tried to find a place to get into the suit, but it stuck together like a wet paper bag. At last I got part way in only to find that my arms were sticking through where a couple of mice had polished off a meal.
Finally I felt that I had the suit on and looked in the mirror. I drew back in startled surprise. There were two foreign marks on my body. One I recognized after a moment as being where my collar button had rubbed, but the other was larger. It was a dark splotch as if I had run into the bureau. But, on looking more closely, I saw that it was the bathing suit.
Even under the most favorable circumstances, when attired in a bathing suit, I don't live long in the memory of strangers. Rarely ever is my photograph taken by a shore photographer and put up in his exhibition case, and practically never does a cluster of people gather around me, talking excitedly with bursts of involuntary applause.
My friends were waiting on the lawn for me to join them. Taking a firm grip on my courage I walked out into the yard. The ladies were gaily chatting and smiling until they saw me, when suddenly they closed the conversation and turned to gaze far out over the blue horizon to a dim, distant sail.
The ocean looked only a couple of blocks away, but we seemed to walk miles. I was the cynosure of all eyes. I had never been a cynosure before, and in fact didn't know that I had any talent in that line, but now, as a cynosure, I was a great success. When some rude boys came up and began to make personal remarks in the tone that such remarks are usually made in, I abandoned the rest of the party and hurried for the water. I plunged in, but I plunged too hard. My suit had got past the plunging stage. When I came up there was little on me besides the sea foam and a spirit of jollity. The latter was feigned.
Something told me to keep to the deep. My friends called me and insisted that I come ashore to play in the sand with them, but I answered that I loved the ocean too well and wanted its sheltering arms around me. I had to have something around me.
I must get back to the house and into my clothes. I worked down the beach until I was out of sight, and made a break for the solace of the basement from whence the suit had come. Many people were out walking but I did not join any of them, and as they stared at me, I began to walk faster and faster. Soon I was running. A large dog that I had never seen before rushed at me. I turned around and gave him one lowering look, but he evidently did not catch it, for he came straight on. I looked around for a rock to use for something that I had in mind, but somebody had removed all the desirable ones. So I turned my back to the ill-bred creature and started on. However, this did not cut him the way I had hoped. Instead, he came on with renewed interest. I did not want him to follow me, but this seemed to be his intention, although he had received no encouragement on my part. I sped up and tried to lose him, but my efforts were fruitless, and to make it more unpleasant he kept up a loud, discordant barking which jarred on my sensitive ear.
I gained the yard and plunged against the door of the house, but some thoughtful person had closed it. I ran around to the rear, but the person had done his work well. So I ran back with some vague hope that the door would be open, although I knew quite well it wouldn't be. My surmises were right. Back the dog and I ran together, while curious passers-by began to stare. I soon found myself almost out of breath, but the dog seemed to be quite fresh. However, I ran back again. At last I came upon a basement door that was open, dived in and shut the door after me. I took particular pains to do that.
I continued to remain in the basement. Although the time hung heavily on my hands I did not stroll out to chat with the townspeople. In the course of time my friend returned and looked at me strangely.
"Aren't you feeling well?" he asked pityingly.
"No," I answered sadly. "I feel kind of run down."
"But why did you get in this basement?" he asked. "It belongs to the man next door."
Of late I get all the bathing I want with a sponge behind closed doors. I would rather have a sponge that has been in the family a long time at my back, than a strange dog similarly located, with whose habits I am not familiar.
"Bathing in a Borrowed Suit" by Homer Croy originally appeared in Our American Humorists by Thomas L. Masson (Moffat, Yard and Company, 1922)

The Reflection


The Reflection (To See Ourselves as Others See Us)

The rodomontade from the arrogant clod
Was the nonsensical blabber we expected
It was the likes of him at home or abroad
The minute size of his brain he reflected

Some people talk without saying a lot
And he made it his lifelong profession
No wisdom for thought or humor he brought
But on his face was a stupid expression

I’ll listen no more to this incredible bore
I’ll have no more of his pompous stories
There is, I’m sure, someone who knows more
But where has this poor soul been buried

Communication with him was mighty dim
It could have been made much clearer
With curiosity I watched the likes of him
Damn – it was my reflection in the mirror

©12/22/08Terry Sutherland

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Warren


Warren

Warren had the barber shop
In his sleepy western town
It’s where the village men would stop
It was the busiest place around

Warren wore his hair slicked down
With the latest oil and goo
But the other men in town
Wore the latest wet look doo

The son’s of the village men
Watched Warren cut their hair
They got a token for the “Five and Ten”
If they sat quiet in their chair

He was the barber of the Ville
It was Warren’s stock and trade
He had that special skill
And the newest wax pomade

True Detective, Sports Afield and Argosy
Made the hair cut wait worth the while
Magazines you could browse for free
Were on a wooden table in a pile

12/2/09Terry Sutherland

Monday, September 19, 2011

Peace: The Tolerance of Diversity

Peace:  The Tolerance of Diversity

What, exactly, is the peace process we human beings are constantly trying to exact?  What is peace?  Is it freedom from civil disturbance on large scale?  Is peace the result of successful conflict resolution?  If it is true, that peace is simply conflict resolution; it implies that there will always be conflict within the species of Homo sapiens.  It implies that the meaning of peace is dynamic, open to interpretation as the situation demands.  It implies that peace is itinerant never finding a permanent situation in which to reside.  It implies that peace is a new concept (born with the earth’s newcomer Homo sapiens) and never perused before with any other animal or species.

We know, primarily, through the fossil record that Homo sapiens and Homo Neanderthatlensis co existed on earth for a fairly short period of time.  DNA evidence strongly suggests that Homo sapiens originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago.  Neanderthals were found in Europe.  Neanderthals differ in a number of ways from humans.  Neanderthals had larger brains and a robust frame and muscular structure.  Mitochondrial DNA from Neanderthals is different from humans.  While genetics does not rule out human contributions to the Neanderthal gene pool there are other factors that more likely contributed to human and Neanderthal similarities.  Humans and Neanderthal were two different species.

In the course of earth’s history species of plant and animal are born and die with great frequency.  The Homo erectus, Neanderthal species, for whatever reason, did not survive.  Homo sapiens are the successful species – so far.  Brain size and intelligence don’t seem to be the single influences for survival of a species.  The ability to adapt to a dynamic physical environment seems a more feasible influence.  The human idea that Homo Erectus/Neanderthal is a sub-human species and therefore the reason it did not survive is a reflection of human vanity, and possibly fear (a trait that may or may not contribute to man’s continuing existence), and reflects reasons for man’s behavior.

Diversity through different events, including demographics, the separation of the human species into different races as well as other physical and metaphysical elements has given human beings the notion that one group can be superior to another.  The misguided notion that survival of one race is dependent on the destruction of another seems to be a state of existence that human beings cannot modify.  When human beings say that they seek peace; what they mean is that they want to live independently of other human influences different from their own.  Man is territorial and is willing to destroy his own species to minimize diversity.  He wants to be surrounded only by those he perceives to be just like him.  He wants to own the ground on which he stands and is willing to send his youth to die for it.  Even man’s laws, Natural Law, is based on the premise that – ‘Because it always was that way; it should always be that way’.

Again, what is peace?  It is a term with emotive meaning, existential meaning, and a way to change those things diverse to a more humanly comfortable existence.  It has nothing to do with living in harmony and co-existence.

Will man look clearly at the meaning of peace and find a means to co-exist within his species?  Or will his intolerant nature be the cause of his demise?

Terry Sutherland 9/19/11

Sunday, September 18, 2011

INTELLECTUAL AMBITION, by George Santayana

Intellectual Ambition

by George Santayana (1863-1952)

When we consider the situation of the human mind in nature, its limited plasticity and few channels of communication with the outer world, we need not wonder that we grope for light, or that we find incoherence and instability in human systems of ideas. The wonder rather is that we have done so well, that in the chaos of sensations and passions that fills the mind we have found any leisure for self-concentration and reflection, and have succeeded in gathering even a light harvest of experience from our distracted labors. Our occasional madness is less wonderful than our occasional sanity. Relapses into dreams are to be expected in a being whose brief existence is so like a dream; but who could have been sure of this sturdy and indomitable perseverance in the work of reason in spite of all the checks and discouragements?
The resources of the mind are not commensurate with its ambition. Of the five senses, three are of little use in the formation of permanent notions: a fourth, sight, is indeed vivid and luminous, but furnishes transcripts of things so highly colored and deeply modified by the medium of sense, that a long labor of analysis and correction is needed before satisfactory conceptions can be extracted from it. For this labor, however, we are endowed with the requisite instrument. We have memory and we have certain powers of synthesis, abstraction, reproduction, invention,--in a word, we have understanding. But this faculty of understanding has hardly begun its work of deciphering the hieroglyphics of sense and framing an idea of reality, when it is crossed by another faculty--the imagination. Perceptions do not remain in the mind, as would be suggested by the trite simile of the seal and wax, passive and changeless, until time wear off their sharp edges and make them fade. No ,perceptions fall into the brain rather as seeds into a furrowed field or even as sparks into a keg of powder. Each image breeds a hundred more, sometimes slowly and subterraneously, sometimes (when a passionate train is started) with a sudden burst of fancy. The mind, exercises by its own fertility and flooded by its inner lights, has infinite trouble to keep a true reckoning of its outward perceptions. It turns from the frigid problems of observation to its own visions; it forgets to watch the courses of what should be its "pilot stars." Indeed, were it not for the power of convention in which, by a sort of mutual cancellation of errors, the more practical and normal conceptions are enshrined, the imagination would carry men wholly away,--the best men first and the vulgar after them. Even as it is, individuals and ages of fervid imagination usually waste themselves in dreams, and must disappear before the race, saddened and dazed, perhaps, by the memory of those visions, can return to its plodding thoughts.
Five senses, then, to gather a small part of the infinite influences that vibrate in nature, a moderate power of understanding to interpret those senses, and an irregular, passionate fancy to overlay that interpretation--such is the endowment of the human mind. And what is its ambition? Nothing less than to construct a picture of reality, to comprehend its own origin and that of the universe, to discover the laws of both and prophesy their destiny. Is not the disproportion enormous? Are not confusions and profound contradictions to be looked for in an attempt to build so much out of so little?

First published in 1900, "Intellectual Ambition" appeared in the collection Little Essays Drawn from the Writings of George Santayana, edited by Logan Pearsall Smith "with the collaboration of the author" (Scribner's, 1921).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Molly

MOLLY

Molly waited patiently
For the evening tide
To toss a bottle in the sea
With a message held inside

All her message really said
Was, "I hope for world peace
Hope to see it before I’m dead
And buried beneath the trees"

Molly waited sixty years
For the bottle to return
The bottle never appeared
World peace was never earned

Now Molly lies beneath the trees
Another sixty years have passed
No one ever saw the need
To give her what she asked

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall in the Country

Fall in the Country

It’s the time of year when orange reigns
When frost has ordered a palette change
When leaves are damp from autumn rain
When a crisper wind sweeps the plains

It’s a time of year when the harvest’s in
When apples are ripe and in the bin
When harvest festivals always begin
When a new brew is ready at the country inn

It’s a time of year for orange and brown
For a pumpkin field at the edge of town
When wind blows the cattail down
When rustling leaves are a friendly sound

It’s a time of year for hot spiced cider
For goblins and witches and the lowly spider
For Sleepy Hollow and a headless rider
When the harvest moon glows brighter and brighter

©9/16/11Terry Sutherland 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Jane

JANE

Jane farmed all alone
Her Morgan pulled a plow
Only had one telephone
Only one milking cow

She had five Leghorn Hens
She sold the eggs they laid
She kept them in wire pens
That’s where they all stayed

She had one pig named Joe
He wasn’t good for anything
He ate all the slop she’d throw
Instead of grunting he’d sing

Her burro, Bob, was friends with Joe
They played throughout the day
Whether the weather be rain or snow
They’d frolic in the hay

Joe sang farm songs to Bob
Put them both to sleep
Joe knew it was his only job
And one he’d like to keep

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Frost

Frost

In the early autumn morning
As we lay in bed asleep
Loosed from summer mooring
Frost has wandered the quiet street

He has painted all diamond white
And signaled winters sleep
It seems he only works at night
And prefers a cover of sleet

He wanders the morning fog
And devours it as he goes
He has found the misty bog
And dressed it in sparkling clothes

His is a dark and morbid calling
But necessary we surely know
For should he miss autumn mauling
Spring flowers would never grow

Monday, September 12, 2011

Autumn

AUTUMN

On a cool October morning
When leaves are orange and bright
A mist and fog is forming
Hiding all from open sight

Just the shuffle of fallen leaves
Can be heard this early morn
A cold western breeze
Carries the scent of autumn born

What wondrous colors are Fall
Brighter in the crisp autumn air
To hear autumn’s call
And the colors October wears

Soon orange will turn to brown
And be covered in winter’s white
But now autumn is nature’s crown
Shining in morning’s early light

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Come Reminisce

COME REMINISCE

Come sit with me and reminisce
We’ll talk of wars and social bores
Of soft hearts and iron fists
Of open pores and red bed sores

We’ll sail the sea and smell the breeze
We’ll climb on high and scale the tallest trees
We’ll wonder why eyes close when we sneeze
And the girl on the high trapeze

We’ll ask all those questions asked
We’ll even answer just a few
We’ll watch the wine age in the cask
We’ll drink a glass or two

All of these things that the long night brings
We’ll talk of the ingredients in Mulligan Stew
We’ll talk of almost anything
As long as it’s me and you

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"A Brother of St. Francis", by Grace Rhys

A Brother of St. Francis

by Grace Rhys

When talking to a wise friend a while ago I told her of the feeling of horror which had invaded me when watching a hippopotamus.

"Indeed," said she, "you do not need to go to the hippopotamus for a sensation. Look at a pig! There is something dire in the face of a pig. To think the same power should have created it that created a star!"

Those who love beauty and peace are often tempted to scamp their thinking, to avoid the elemental terrors that bring night into the mind. Yet if the fearful things of life are there, why not pluck up heart and look at them? Better have no Bluebeard's chamber in the mind. Better go boldly in and see what hangs by the wall. So salt, so medicinal is Truth, that even the bitterest draught may be made wholesome to the gentlest soul. So I would recommend anyone who can bear to think to leave the flower garden and go down and spend an hour by the pigstye.

There lies our friend in the sun upon his straw, blinking his clever little eye. Half friendly is his look. (He does not know that I--Heaven forgive me!--sometimes have bacon for breakfast!) Plainly, with that gashed mouth, those dreadful cheeks, and that sprawl of his, he belongs to an older world; that older world when first the mud and slime rose and moved, and, roaring, found a voice; aye, and no doubt enjoyed life, and in harsh and fearful sounds praised the Creator at the sunrising.

To prove the origin of the pig, let him out, and he will celebrate it by making straight for the nearest mud and diving into it. So strange is his aspect, so unreal to me, that it is almost as if the sunshine falling upon him might dissolve him, and resolve him into his original element. But no; there he is, perfectly real; as real as the good Christians and philosophers who will eventually eat him. While he lies there let me reflect in all charity on the disagreeable things I have heard about him.

He is dirty, people say. Nay, is he as dirty (or, at least, as complicated in his dirt) as his brother man can be? Let those who know the dens of London give the answer. Leave the pig to himself, and he is not so bad. He knows his mother mud is cleansing; he rolls partly because he loves her and partly because he wishes to be clean.
He is greedy? In my mind's eye there rises the picture of human gormandisers, fat-necked, with half-buried eyes and toddling step. How long since the giant Gluttony was slain? or does he still keep his monstrous table d'hote?

The pig pushes his brother from the trough? Why, that is a commonplace of our life. There is a whole school of so-called philosophers and political economists busied in elevating the pig's shove into a social and political necessity.

He screams horribly if you touch him or his share of victuals? I have heard a polite gathering of the best people turn senseless and rave at a mild suggestion of Christian Socialism. He is bitter-tempered? God knows, so are we. He has carnal desires? The worst sinner is man. He will fight? Look to the underside of war. He is cruel? Well, boys do queer things sometimes. For the rest, read the blacker pages of history; not as they are served up for the schoolroom by private national vanity, but after the facts.
If a cow or a sheep is sick or wounded and the pig can get at it, he will worry it to death? So does tyranny with subject peoples.

He loves to lie in the sun among his brothers, idle and at his ease? Aye, but suppose this one called himself a lord pig and lay in the sun with a necklace of gold about his throat and jewels in his ears, having found means to drive his brethren (merry little pigs and all) out of the sun for his own benefit, what should we say of him then?

No; he has none of our cold cunning. He is all simplicity. I am told it is possible to love him. I know a kindly Frenchwoman who takes her pig for an airing on the sands of Saint-Michel-en-Grève every summer afternoon. Knitting, she walks along, and calls gaily and endearingly to the delighted creature; he follows at a word, gambolling with flapping ears over the ribs of sand, pasturing on shrimps and seaweed while he enjoys the salt air. Clearly, then, the pig is our good little brother, and we have no right to be disgusted at him. Clearly our own feet are planted in the clay. Clearly the same Voice once called to our ears while yet unformed. Clearly we, too, have arisen from that fearful bed, and the slime of it clings to us still. Cleanse ourselves as we may, and repenting, renew the whiteness of our garments, we and the nations are for ever slipping back into the native element. What a fearful command the "Be ye perfect" to earth-born creatures, but half-emerged, the star upon their foreheads bespattered and dimmed! But let us (even those of us who have courage to know the worst of man) take heart. In the terror of our origin, in the struggle to stand upon our feet, to cleanse ourselves, and cast an eye heavenward, our glory is come by. The darker our naissance, the greater the terrors that have brooded round that strife, the more august and puissant shines the angel in man.

"A Brother of St. Francis," by Grace Rhys originally appeared in the collection About Many Things (Methuen, 1920)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Angela

ANGELA

Angelic Angela with deep green eyes
Held the county record for baking pies
It did not matter the number or size
It was the content that won the prize

Apricot, peach and key lime for you
Strawberry, raspberry and kiwi too
Chocolate, cherry and mulberry blue
Those too large she cut in two

Apple, blueberry, and golden plum
Whatever fruit she made filling from
Pineapple, orange and a touch of rum
She baked all these while chewing gum

She baked her pies for friends and kin
She usually used a nine inch tin
Sometimes the crust was flaky and thin
Those eating her pies could only grin

Her pumpkin pie won the crown
With a flaky crust baked golden brown
Pumpkin always took away the frown
Of pie eating patrons in Angela’s town

Plodding Along

PLODDING ALONG

Plodding along
Knee deep in the mire
No means to escape
Only the desire
The moon has taken
His autumn bride
The summer is gone
I’m along for the ride
Nothing to gain
Nothing to lose
It’s all the same
Whatever you choose
When winter sets in
I’m down for the count
Waiting for spring
I’m beginning to doubt
Plodding along
Knee deep in the mire
Don’t even try
To throw coals on the fire

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September Sun

September Sun

On the windblown prairie
Parched and dry
You can see forever
To where land touches sky
The sun beats down
Day after day
Coloring the land a golden brown
Taking the green
From meadows of hay
They’ll green again
On a cloudy day
But the sun beats down
Day after day
Drying the land
To hardened clay
And the sun beats down
Day after day
A rich golden brown
The prairie will stay

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sunrise

There is a timeless, primordial, tribal sense of reverence and awe accompanying
a sunrise.  I think of the Rolf Harris song "Sun Arise" sometimes when watching a particularly beautiful sunrise.








Morning Sun

Subdued by a smoky haze, the Montana morning sun
appears to be the star atop a Christmas tree.




copyright Terry Sutherland

Another Autumn

ANOTHER AUTUMN

When the sun peeks over the privet hedge
Chasing the night’s frost from the grass
It has fulfilled its morning pledge
It brightens the leave’s orange cast

Its warming dulls the crispy air
It changes morning frost to dew
It’s a fall morning, 0h, so fair
Under a sky of the brightest blue

The life of the sun in the fall is short
It labors restless and unsure
With haste it hides in a western resort
Sleeping through the moon’s allure

The royal moon is king of the night
Until the sun brings the warming morn
Another autumn day’s delight
Another fall day is born

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Autumn Has Returned

AUTUMN HAS RETURNED

Gentle markers color the floor;
Crimson, orange, gold and brown
Autumn has returned once more
Wearing a bright glorious crown

Trees stand guard in autumn’s court
Dressed in leaves of royal hues
They are waiting for the moon to sort
Summer’s greens, yellows and blues

Summer’s nights grow short and cool
Summer’s green life is nearly done
Now autumn’s court will rule
While fall embraces the orange sun

The moon will light the longer night
Autumn leaves will rest till morn
When moon is gone and sun is bright
Autumn leaves will the ground adorn

Monday, September 5, 2011

Nothing to Lose

Nothing to Lose


I wrote a line from a sadder time
But things are much brighter now
Feeling fine in the handout line
Ignoring all the raised eyebrows
Two left shoes and second hand socks
A field jacket stained with grease
Just left a job shoveling rocks
I’m headed for a rally demanding peace
Earned enough for a pack of smokes
Bought a quart of Key Largo wine
Spent my wad and now I’m broke
But the sweet wine will ease my mind
Who knows what tomorrow will bring
I’m thinking it’s good to be alive
I’ll listen to the peace songs they sing
Maybe make a friend with a car to drive
Yup, life is good when you numb your mind
It’s a life I didn’t choose
When you leave forty years of dreams behind
What the hell, you got nothing to lose

Sunday, September 4, 2011

TWO WAYS OF SEEING A RIVER by Mark Twain

Two Ways of Seeing a River

by Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Now when I had mastered the language of this water and had come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as I knew the letters of the alphabet, I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too. I had lost something which could never be restored to me while I lived. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry had gone out of the majestic river! I still keep in mind a certain wonderful sunset which I witnessed when steamboating was new to me. A broad expanse of the river was turned to blood; in the middle distance the red hue brightened into gold, through which a solitary log came floating, black and conspicuous; in one place a long, slanting mark lay sparkling upon the water; in another the surface was broken by boiling, tumbling rings, that were as many-tinted as an opal; where the ruddy flush was faintest, was a smooth spot that was covered with graceful circles and radiating lines, ever so delicately traced; the shore on our left was densely wooded, and the sombre shadow that fell from this forest was broken in one place by a long, ruffled trail that shone like silver; and high above the forest wall a clean-stemmed dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame in the unobstructed splendor that was flowing from the sun. There were graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances; and over the whole scene, far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it, every passing moment, with new marvels of coloring.

I stood like one bewitched. I drank it in, in a speechless rapture. The world was new to me, and I had never seen anything like this at home. But as I have said, a day came when I began to cease from noting the glories and the charms which the moon and the sun and the twilight wrought upon the river's face; another day came when I ceased altogether to note them. Then, if that sunset scene had been repeated, I should have looked upon it without rapture, and should have commented upon it, inwardly, in this fashion: "This sun means that we are going to have wind tomorrow; that floating log means that the river is rising, small thanks to it; that slanting mark on the water refers to a bluff reef which is going to kill somebody's steamboat one of these nights, if it keeps on stretching out like that; those tumbling 'boils' show a dissolving bar and a changing channel there; the lines and circles in the slick water over yonder are a warning that that troublesome place is shoaling up dangerously; that silver streak in the shadow of the forest is the 'break' from a new snag, and he has located himself in the very best place he could have found to fish for steamboats; that tall dead tree, with a single living branch, is not going to last long, and then how is a body ever going to get through this blind place at night without the friendly old landmark?"

No, the romance and the beauty were all gone from the river. All the value any feature of it had for me now was the amount of usefulness it could furnish toward compassing the safe piloting of a steamboat. Since those days, I have pitied doctors from my heart. What does the lovely flush in a beauty's cheek mean to a doctor but a "break" that ripples above some deadly disease? Are not all her visible charms sown thick with what are to him the signs and symbols of hidden decay? Does he ever see her beauty at all, or doesn't he simply view her professionally, and comment upon her unwholesome condition all to himself? And doesn't he sometimes wonder whether he has gained most or lost most by learning his trade?
(1883)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

RVN in Black and White

RVN in Black and White












Peaceful Day


Peaceful Day

A peaceful day came my way
Right in the thick of thin
I was only stacking hay
Ah, life was good back then
The morning was all sunshine
All nature was tough with dew
There was no mountain to climb
Just simple chores to do
The meadowlark sang a morning song
The finches chimed in too
All nature seemed to get along
There was serenity in the sky so blue
The world seemed to say: “take your time”
Enjoy all you have right now
Leave contented fruit on the vine
Live life in the here and now

©Copyright August 8, 2010 by Terry D. Sutherland

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sometimes

SOMETIMES

Sometimes we’re a group
Sometimes we’re a cabal
Sometimes we’re in the loop
Without any belief at all

Sometimes we embrace our ilk
Other times our faith is gone
Sometimes their kindness we milk
Often it’s hatred we spawn

Sometimes we should follow the slope
Sometimes we should disengage
Sometimes our brothers have hope
It’s part of coming of age

Sometimes we understand
Other times our hearts are locked
Sometimes we take a stand
Before our boat is docked

Sometimes we realize the madness
Other times the foresight is gone
Sometimes overcome with sadness
We lose sight of the morning sun

©1/24/07Terry Sutherland