Saturday, November 27, 2004

Poem: Places I'm Going

As promised, this poem was inspired by the movie "Finding Neverland." It combines real life experiences that allow my imagination to flourish with the dreams that I often drift into. Both reality and fantasy provide wonderful places to go to.

Places I’m Going

Dream of discovering the minds of the past
Riding the currents of waves ever last
Flying the heavens awash in the breeze
Scaling limbed-staircase ‘pon high in the trees
Drifting to places my mind often wanders
Escaped within landscapes as poetry ponders
Thoughts of portrayal of adventurous theme
Simplistically life can be vividly seen
Memory lingers in moments of pause
Baskingly joyous in adulation’s applause
Quietly hidden in God’s earth creation
Peace-given blessing is heartfelt elation
Cuddled up winters with a cat and a book
Driving a distance on a road never took
Shorelines for walking with barefoot distraction
Seemingly drawn by the ocean’s attraction
Imagination and living are interwoven for knowing
Listed above are some places I’m going

Copyright 2004

Friday, November 26, 2004

Humor and religion

"... a sense of humor, properly developed, is superior to any religion so far devised" - Tom Robbins in "Jitterbug Perfume."

"And one must maintain a serious-ass sense of humor to keep sane in an insane country of too much religion with no sense of humor, or much of anything else for that matter" - STP

Finding Neverland

See the movie "Finding Neverland" if you maintain a small piece of child within your adult body and mind. See it if you do not, so perhaps you might find that youthful sense of life once again.

"Finding Neverland" is the story based on the true story of James Matthew Barrie, the playwright who created Peter Pan. It details the connection between Barrie and the hard-luck family he befriends as his inspiration for Peter Pan. It is a lesson on staying young, allowing one's imagination to flourish and to always believe. Barrie takes the struggle of the ticking clock of life(the clock swallowing crock) and creates his Neverland as escape, solace and warm reminder.

Johnny Depp is his usual brilliant self in the portrayal of J.M. Barrie, and Julie Christie is at once suffocating and loving as Mrs. du Maurier. Her transformation is subtle, yet marvelously loving and passionate. Freddie Highmore is reserved, yet convincingly conflicted as young Peter Llewelyn Davies, the source of Barrie's Peter Pan, or so Barrie believes. Peter's line of "I just started writing and I couldn't stop" was felt by this poet with particular understanding.

Director Marc Forster has woven a brilliant story together into a touching portrait of the man behind Peter Pan. It is rare that a movie can make you smile and cry in the same breath, leaving the theater feeling somehow believing enough to fly.

Poem inspired by "Finding Neverland" is forthcoming.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Today is my favorite holiday. Although my family does not fully understand that screwing with Thanksgiving tradition is not necessarily a good thing, it is still a really special day. Thanksgiving is about turkey (in our case barbecued, which is the best way to eat bird), potatoes of some sort, stuffing (although I am not a fan), cranberries or cranberry sauce (I am silly here, loving the canned cranberry sauce and preferring the indented top piece), and some pie or cake for dessert. It is also about watching football!

Goals for Thanksgiving:
1. Eating so much turkey that you cannot keep your pants buttoned by the end of the day;
2. Watching football - both games;
3. Hanging with family and friends;
4. Being grateful for all the food and good living relative to many others (and yes, I donated about a dozen turkeys to the local Food Bank);
4. Eating a bit more turkey.

Ok, on that note, go enjoy your day. Poetic Leanings will be quiet for the rest of the day, but will be back guns a'blazing on Friday!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Poem: She Said No (Rape)

I was in a coffeehouse about seven years ago listening to a co-worker's daughter performing. She spoke about Tori Amos' song, "Me and a Gun," and then said, "And yes, guys, there is such a thing as rape." The words in the song, the singer's comments and the reaction of all of us in conversation after the show, got me to thinking as I drove home. This poem is a product of that thought. It is not based on any personal experience of mine and I am not certain what draws me to it today. At first, I was nervous as to how this poem would be perceived, but I happened to know someone who was date-raped, so I asked her if this piece was out of line or off the mark, or if it had value and was well-voiced. After reading it, she thanked me, said she appreciated it a great deal and apparently passed it on to others. I later heard from about a half dozen other women, some who I did not know at all, who also thanked me for the poem.

Anyway, I hope whoever reads this piece, will come away feeling it has value and purpose. I put it out here for your review, thoughts and feedback.

She Said No (Rape)

She might have looked really fine,
Dressed to kill,
Your mind raced,
Body ached for her,
Perhaps even an exchanged glance,
She sent that "vibe."
So you lured her away,
"Come on, I just want to talk,"
"Trust me."
Yeah right.
So you raped her,
No, she never consented.
Didn’t you feel her palms pushing you away?
Didn’t you hear her screams?
Please stop!
"But she came to my room,"
Like that justifies something,
"She knows she wanted it,"
Does that word need explanation?
You ripped her panties,
You held her down,
She said no,
You ignored it for the Fuck,
She cried in agony,
She begged you,
"Please, no,"
She said no.

Copyright SGW 1997

Some good indy music

I found myself at "The Saint" in Asbury Park last night for Acoustic Night. I love the quaintness of this club, and the owner, Scott, is a gem. Anyone who works as hard as he does to keep indy music alive and well, deserves a plug here, and "The Saint" is currently celebrating 10 years bringing us good music.

I met Mimi Cross seven years ago when she was performing at an environmental festival, and try to catch her every so often. This singer-songwriter has a unique sound and style that can keep you listening for hours. Described as a cross between Ani Difranco, Joan Osborne and Alanis Morisette, this Jersey resident originally from Canada (if my memory serves me) is worth checking out.

However, I have often discovered the best music when I least suspected it, and last night was no exception. If you are in the NY/NJ/PA area, look up this sister act - The Pierces. These girls can sing!! Beautiful harmonies are the main course with The Pierces, and vocal ranges that will have you on the edge of your bar stool come often. They sing original material and have an album coming out at the end of January. Go to their website, find a date they are playing near you, and then go check Catherine and Allison out. After seeing them, you will be spellbound, too.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Poem: Quick Burning Candle

Quick Burning Candle

We are the enemies who we’ll never give fight
Lacking a will for resisting our plight
Spirals are endless in consuming decay
Stuck with no logic to a selfish display
Cultured indifference that belies dangers grown
Destruction assured if our ways don’t atone
Framed by old patterns of harmful neglect
Solutions to problems we ignore and reject
Disdainful obsession of a sacrificed calling
All feel entitled but the greed is appalling
Answers passed over for the future to handle
Yet the flame of existence is a quick-burning candle
Awash with contentment though the failure’s abounding
Dismissing the warnings becomes blindly astounding
The enemy’s ourselves in decisions unmade
What once built this nation has since been betrayed

Copyright SGW 2004

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Founding Fathers Were Not Christians?

Well, actually, for the most part they were, but they were smart enough to recognize the need for a separation of Church and State; something Republicans in large numbers today cannot seem to fathom. I found an article in the Daily Kos Diaries that linked to a piece by Steven Morris that is quite interesting. As a Revolutionary Period buff of sorts, I found this article rather interesting.

While the right wingnuts in this country continually attempt to portray the Founders as being desirous of making the United States a Christian nation as justification for the current fundamentalist extremism, this is an inaccurate portrayal of them. As I stated above, the Founders, by and large understood the need to keep religion and politics in separate corners. Going one step further, several of the biggest names of the Revolutionary Period went beyond this.

Allow me to pull a few direct excerpts from Morris' piece:

Thomas Paine: "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of...Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."

George Washington: "He never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence. Washington Championed the cause of freedom from religious intolerance and compulsion. When John Murray (a universalist who denied the existence of hell) was invited to become an army chaplain, the other chaplains petitioned Washington for his dismissal. Instead, Washington gave him the appointment."

John Adams: "Adams wrote 'This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!'"

Thomas Jefferson: I could go on for days on Jefferson's views of religion, as he is my favorite ( I visit Monticello every few years), but I will stick with what Morris has to say. How's this: "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." This comes from one of Jefferson's famed letters to John Adams.

James Madison: Madison writes in various documents, "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise." "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

Benjamin Franklin: Franklin said, "As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion...has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his Divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the Truth with less trouble."

So, there you have it; some of the greatest minds and leaders of our history were either opposed to Christianity or wanted it to have no place in the governmental framework of this nation. Can the right wingnuts quote any larger figures from the Revolution than Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin? I think not.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Poem: Dear John

First, my apologies for not having a poem for Colin Powell, Ann Veneman or Stuart Abraham, but this poet only has so much to give. I felt it necessary to send off our former Attorney General with a few verses. I also sent a copy to the DOJ to pass along to Johnny-boy himself, so if there are no further postings or this site goes dead, please forward all correspondence to me c/o Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Dear John

The news you’re departing has filled me as such
Too many reminders of the hatred you clutch
Countless reflections in minutest detail
Given to power only fear could prevail
In every expression, with contempt you denied
No room left for wisdom, the message implied
Statues were seen as an image corruption
Naked they stood for a virtued disruption
Lost was the beauty of artistic creation
Perhaps in your pants was a growing elation?!
Threats were a reason for imposing restriction
Every last Muslim had become an affliction
Rights were distractions to the mission at hand
Burdens of freedom you just couldn’t stand
Oppressive detail was the tool of your making
Constitutional values your actions were breaking
Self-righteously speaking with a voice void of reason
Your Department of Justice in its own witching season
Historical writings will portray your small thinking
Extremist and hater, to your name they’ll be linking

Copyright SGW 2004

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Poem: Fear And Hate Is Jesusland

Sometimes I just cannot help myself in ridiculing stupidity. This poem is directed at a large segment of the population who have turned religion into a home for extremism based on exclusion, hatred, simple minds, excess, denial, and fear. This is not an attack on Christianity, but the version being practiced by far too many in large swaths of the United States. Anti-gay, anti-science, anti-immigrant, anti-secular government; there is no difference between American fundamentalism and the Middle Eastern fundamentalism we rage against.

Fear And Hate Is Jesusland

Give me a white man;
Christian values at core.
Faithful, with ethics;
His morals are sure.

Don’t want no homos
And their cultured disparage.
Gay folks love Satan,
In their ungodly marriage.

Afraid they’re contagious.
They’ll peak at our butts.
Our children infected
By these heathenest sluts.

Neighborhoods ruined
When the nigrah invades.
Can’t they be happy?
At least they’re not slaves!

Hispanics, we’ll court you
‘Cuz votes we still need.
But keep a safe distance;
We beg and we plead.

Jews and their money
Are scheisters and lawyers.
American values;
The greatest destroyers.

Foreigners, liberals;
Secularists, too;
We fear all these people
And likely hate you!

Copyright SGW 2004

Movie: Sideways

Go see the movie "Sideways" if you like a smart, witty flick. This movie was thoughtful and tender, yet frustrating and harsh. It brings to the fore many of life's struggles and lessons in diverse and unexpected ways. Paul Giamatti gives his usual superb performance, but he is supported solidly by Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen.

Wine connoisseurs, of which I am not one, will appreciate this movie on a whole other level. For the rest of us, you will sink quietly into the lives of two men traveling the California wine country in search of very different things. Expect to laugh uncontrollably at moments you are the most unsuspecting.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Vienna Teng

I first heard Vienna Teng singing a Taiwanese lullaby on NPR last winter. I loved her voice so I kept listening. The rest of the songs were in English, so I discovered that liked what her message, too.

Vienna is a San Francisco based singer/songwriter who has a soft and gentle voice that soothes and makes one feel at peace with the world. The Stanford grad (with an Engineering degree) is brings a warm stage persona to her craft, as I discovered when I first saw her in Philly in April.

Today I am checking her out in NYC. If you are in the area and free, I suggest you do so to, at Joe's Pub. Her shows are at 6:30 and 9:30. If you can't make one of these performances, go to her website (she has 2 CDs, too) via my link list and find a gig near you. Vienna Teng is worth finding.

Poem: Memorial (Every) Day

While this poem was obviously written on Memorial Day, I think it is appropriate today, too.

Memorial (Every) Day

Bullets have flown by them
Some found their marks
Airplanes menaced their ships
And mines destroyed
They gave their lives
Saved ours
The heroes
Each night could be their last
Death a constant
Homes were so far away
Cold foxhole beds
They fought with grand honor
Selfless fears for a job
Freedom their cause
They gave their lives
Saved ours
The heroes
Wounds that can never heal
Scars define them
Lost friends gone forever
Limbs, eyes and souls
Any freedom due thanks
Serving country
Each day merits blessing
They gave their lives
Saved ours
In every war and battle
Our heroes

Copyright SGW 2004

Footnote: Written on Memorial Day, 2004 for every Veteran who has served this country, from the Revolution to Iraq, and into the future. The wars, just or not, were always fought by heroes. I can never fully appreciate or understand what a Veteran endures. This is my thank you for their service, nonetheless.

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day. Many people not working will take this day as a chance to run errands or relax. Others will work and go about their normal lives. I am not asking for a major effort today. But I do ask for you to remember what this day is about.

I want to say thank you to every man or woman who has served this great nation in all the wars, battles, fights, struggles, and missions the United States has ever known, from the Revolutionary War straight up to, and including, the war in Iraq. Disagreement with our civilian leaders and politicized generals in no way diminishes how grateful I am to all of the men and women of the military.

Because of you I live a fairly comfortable life. You put your lives in danger to protect me, and the American way of life. Thank you. Be safe.

I would ask every American to give thanks to the people who serve in the military today from time to time. When you look at all the flags flying in front of homes, think of the men and women of service. As you go about your business today, give passing thoughts to them as well.

Thank you.

Sunday, November 7, 2004

Big Brothers Big Sisters

A bit of a change of pace for me today as the focus has been mostly on politics on this blog. I do have some charitable organization's links on my link list, and one is Big Brothers Big Sisters.

I am a three-time Big Brothers and serve on the local chapter's Board of Directors, so I would describe myself as being someone who knows a bit about the value of mentoring. Today was our annual awards brunch, and you can't help but realizing the value of the program. When you sit and listen, you understand what a difference mentors make in the lives of children in need. The kids generally come from a home with one parent or guardian, most are boys(but girls, too) and they belong to all social classes and racial backgrounds.

Statistics show the following about children in the mentoring programs of Big Brothers Big Sisters:
46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs;
27% less likely to begin using alcohol;
53% less likely to skip school;
37% less likely to skip class

Behind the numbers, evidence is crystal clear that matched children are more confident and get along better with their families. They become more socially adept on all levels.

There are reasons to volunteer as a mentor for selfish reasons, too. There are not to many feelings better than the drive home from a child's house when they have shown they appreciate you or have learned from you.

Click on the link. Find an agency in your area. Consider becoming involved. It is not that time consuming or difficult, and it is extremely rewarding.

I will answer anyone's questions, too, if you comment on my site.

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Movie: Ray

I saw the movie, "Ray," today about the life of Ray Charles. I am not going to give a full scale review, as I did not take notes, but I highly recommend this picture. The talk of Jamie Foxx being worthy of an Oscar nomination is justified. I am not a fan of his at all, but he is so convincing in the role, you completely forget that you are not really watching Ray Charles.

The movie does something that many biographies skirt; it shows the full man. Charles had serious problems with heroin, was a womanizer and had issues of disloyalty with friends. This movie shows all of this, and puts it in a glaring spotlight for all to see. It also shows what a musical genius Ray Charles was, and how courageous a man he needed to be in order to get to the levels he was able to attain.

Go see this movie.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Elizabeth Edwards

One of the best parts of the 2004 campaign season was in getting to watch and listen to Elizabeth Edwards. She struck me as warm, funny, intelligent, caring, passionate, and sincere. I enjoyed "getting to know her."

With that in mind, all I can say is all the best wishes Mrs. Edwards. May you come out of your new struggle strong and healthy. You have my prayers.

Poem: Country 'Tis Of Thee

Country 'Tis Of Thee

Minions led on perceived direction
Blindly giving confused reflection
Oppose what’s real with what’s been shown
A core of values that’s overblown
Science, religion are intertwined
In man-made faith of false divine
Shadowed ventures of endless making
Of nature’s gift a grave partaking
The founding core dismissed as such
Cling to greed with selfish touch
An allied balance since left for naught
A foreign scheme devoid of thought
Friends are lost to suffered fools
Fear and hate their strongest tools
My country 'tis of thee is fading
Truth and justice too fast abating
Land of free and home of brave
Diagnosed as rather grave

Copyright SGW 2004