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Friday, January 17, 2014

If Gold Could Talk

If gold could talk 
What fools it would make of men
Who covet precious metals
Above their kith and kin

Who go to war for riches
Never counting the toll in blood
Stamping coins with a graven image
And giving it all their love

All that is gold does not glitter
Not all those who wander are lost
Those blinded for lust of it wither
And are never aware of the cost

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rememberin' Miss Jean

Saturday we gathered to celebrate the life of Jean Babcock.
Miss Jean, as I was instructed to call her by my Aunt Joe.
We are here to remember her life, to celebrate her life and the lives she created and mothered, for above all, Jean was a mom. She mothered us all at one time or another. Weather we wanted it or not. And she, for all her human frailties, was very, very good at it.

She had a store of wisdom which seemed rooted in the deep American mysticism of the South itself. She lived a good portion of her life here, in the cold dark North, but never lost that sweet Southern drawl.

The first words of wisdom she taught me was the phrase "I don't see why not!" which to me are ever words of hope, encouragement and imagination. She called me a "Southern Gentleman".  And that is a high compliment indeed.

And, Lord, could that woman cook.  She had never even tasted a slice of pizza when I first knew her. But when I caught my first catfish on a trip to her home town, she instructed me on how to clean it. Then she took it and dredged it in corn meal and deep pan fried it in a black cast-iron skillet. At the same time she whipped up some corn bread and I proceeded to have the most magnificent fish fry ever. I have never tasted anything so good, and I have tried myself, I have searched restaurants all over the South from Charlottesville, and even Stanton Virginia, to Savannah Georgia and Charleston South Carolina, and I have not tasted catfish better than what I had from Miss Jean.

We have all had our share of troubles in life, and Jean maybe got a little more than her fair share.  But I will remember her as someone who would just as soon smile and laugh than cry.  Her wit was sharp! Her intuition keen. She did the best she could with what she was given. 

She had that rare gift of lightheartedness which you see reflected in the faces of her daughters and her grandson. And something deeper, harder, tougher than steel that kept her going all these long years. Which was the love for her children.

That... and just a touch...or maybe more than just a touch...of The Rebel. 

I was looking for a poem that could do justice to this occasion.  I just read one a few weeks ago by Billy Collins. It is called "The Lanyard" and there's a whole lot in it about a boy, and summer camp, and reading and writing, but if you listen carefully, you will see toward the end how much this poem is about relationships with mothers. It seems fate has presented to me for just this moment.

You can find it in his latest collection : The Trouble With Poetry (and other poems)
Page 45.

More than anything, when a parent passes, we come face to face with the reality of mortality. And just like your older sibling coming up from behind and flicking you on the back of your neck with their finger while stealing a scoop of your may not like it...but there's nothing you can do about it. Except turn around and love that brother, that sister, that parent, and hold them for dear life.

I will remember Miss Jean with love.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014...Into the Unknown

Addicted to
That rush
Of adrenaline

Caused by my
Proximity to
A vast dark


Known as

The Unknown

Whose impenetrable
A fix

Whose soft black
Velvet edge
Sharp as a
Spike, a needle, syringe

Waits for me
To press my

As I stick my

Will it cut?
Will it wound?
Will it be worth
The effort to swoon

Into her abyss?

I need to find out.

Friday, January 3, 2014


Now that we are well into 2014 and fetishizing our first new mayor in over twelve years, a song from my unpublished novel seems an appropriate post to start the new year. Here's wishing EVERYONE peace, prosperity, and success in the coming trip around the solar system.

“It seems all around. Seems it’s everywhere.
The Have-Nots suffer and the Haves don’t care.
It’s either you turn your head or watch your back.
There’s no halfway, no middle of the track.

Come on people, open your hearts,
Come on people, join your hands,
Come on people, raise your voices
Shout for freedom in Liberty's land.

In this country of constant friction
Must we live with contradiction?
In the land of milk and honey
Is there more to greed than love of money?

Come on people, open your hearts,
Come on people, join your hands,
Come on people, raise your voices
Sing of freedom in this hopeful land.

We’re in a dark place the world has collapsed.
We’re in a dark place and feel so trapped.
In a dark place, nowhere to hide.
In a dark place, but it’s light outside.

Come on people, open your hearts,
Come on people, join your hands,
Come on people, raise your voices
Sing for freedom in the Promised Land.

Come on people, come on people, come on people,
Join your hands!

Come on people, come on people, come on people,

Come on people lift your voices.
Sing for justice in this freedom land.

It seems all around. Seems it’s everywhere.
The Have-Nots suffer and the Haves don’t care.”

Happy New Year from Brooklyn New York,

Mark D Ransom