He was against forgetting
as much as he was for it.
12 March 2013
STOP SIGN AT CUSTER AND FAIRBANKS
AVENUES IN MY TOWN KIDDYCORNER
TO GARFIELD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
WHERE MY DAUGHTER TEACHES
Nobody stops at this stop sign.
They drive right on through.
Just like it wasn’t there.
Between the T and the O.
The smiling face of Alfred E. Neumann.
Me worry? What is that?
And the hand with the finger
pointing at the joker. That too.
Of course it’s been tagged
with the gang banger’sfamily signature. But nobody stops.
Nobody talks about it.
Until last week, in Tacoma.
A young man who’d just won a scholarship,he was talking about the day he was jumped out
of his gang in the parking lot of the school
where my daughter teaches. Schools nowadays
go into lockdown practicing for killers
in their schools, expecting the worst.But this is a story about freedom.
A scholarship. Going to college.Bumped out of the gang
after the cousin dies in his armssaying, Go to school.
Last conversation I had
with someone I could call a brother.
This is the lockdown story the school never heard.
We took pictures together,
I asked him about the stop sign.
Alfred E. Neumann, he said,
Yeah, I know that sign.
That was my old neighborhood.
That parking lot. I was bloody and broken.
I dropped to the ground.
I was free. Out of the gang.
I no longer lived in fear.
1 March—9 March 2013
STOP--THE MOVIE THAT STARTS AT THE STOP SIGN
CHARGED TO REMEMBER
Because the State Supreme Court
told lawmakers they must fully fund education,
Republicans want to cut the court in half
and have justices draw straws
to see which ones will go. They say
those salaries will pay for lots of teachers.
Yakima County Sheriff, Ken Irwin ,
says the American people drew the line
in the 1930s against machine guns
during those bank robberies,
but that’s where the line remains,
he says, defending semi-automatic weapons.
Yesterday my wife and I drove
into the lower valley to visit our old pastor
Harold Sigmar, in his mid-90s. We took
him out for a hamburger and one beer.
He directed us along the Yakima River
and I returned his Bonhoeffer book underlined
and written in margins for his commentary.
I can still make him laugh but frankly
I wasn’t very funny. He moved me
talking of his daughters and their caretaking.
We share four decades plus, and it’s documented.
My friends are mostly hermit scholars,
poets, monks, holy men, odd
only in the way we tell a story. Our job,
such as it is, is to speak truth as we see it,
far, as we are, from power.
Little fictions on our take of things.
We’re given to early rising.
Birdsong out my window right now.
After seeing my old friend, I stopped
at a nursery and bought a tree,
lovely Kousa Dogwood from Korea.
I don’t make anything up.
8 March 2013