A Border Collie and a Peanut Butter Sandwich

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I cannot even find my picture of you,

Sitting in your favorite chair,

The place you would go

To eat your peanut butter sandwich after your walk.

 

Damn you for getting old,

For stinking, for dying,

Slopped about the house, black and white,

Tail curled,

Licking peanut butter off the roof of your mouth.

 

You loved to walk, scratching the wall,

The leash hanging above,

Still like death but standing in heartbreaking anticipation.

The restraint that so often muted your collie instincts marks your grave,

hanging on a green stake above.

A small but stunted tree struggles right next to it, above you.

Was it the noose that held you back, or have you finally broken free of stinking, aging,

And dying?

 

You were a sweet animal among the cruel human

And the psychopathic nature of Nature.

The sound of your nails tapping the floor,

The sound of you scratching,

And, yes, licking peanut butter off the roof of your mouth.

You, it, had a rhythm that gave predictability to the unpredictability of life.

 

Your eyes, that of a Border Collie,

Big and brown, full of feeling,

Teared up once, when I

Yelled at you.

 

You died alone;

I remember patting you on the head,

your labored but soft puffing.

You tried to hang on to the beauty of life,

an oft-stealth flicker in this vast and timeless universe.

 

I remember the day I got you.

You cried for mom,

and my fleeting-child parenting skills went

A wash when you peed in

My bed.

My mom put you next to hers,

In a box we got from the dollar store,

And you became her

Fourth son and my third brother.

 

And I let you die alone;

I couldn’t handle death,

The death of my friend, brother, and of my childhood.

I turned up the radio to block out the sound of the approaching

Reckoning for you and for all of us.

Being denied leave for a dying son,

My mother went to work while I went numb

And blocked out life.

 

As silence engulfed my room.

I no longer heard breathing from you.

There you lay,

A fragment of the brother you were,

But I summed up courage and mummified you

With the discount plastic garbage bags from the dollar store.

One over your bottom, and a plastic bag over your head—

A head I often kissed and pet;

I taped the middle shut and carried you,

Like a sixty-pound baby into the freezer we call Buffalo.

I moved on the autopilot that abuse and harshness perfects.

We would put you in the ground, when life was awakening.

The Squirrel and the Fox

Chinese zodiac.

Once upon a time there lived a squirrel, which was used to gathering nuts in a small town in Upstate New York. Now, New York and the small town, for that matter, had fine nuts—too many of them really, so the squirrel finally left the Apple state and sought kinder, gentler nuts in Western Pennsylvania.  He felt that Pennsylvania would be the land of trees and though there may be even more nuts in such a place, he heard that this place carried some great nuts of knowledge.  These would make him a better, smarter, and even a gutsier squirrel, but little did he know that there is more to happiness than simply good nuts.

One day, not long after he arrived in Nuttyanna, PA, the squirrel was scampering around in desperation trying to find and gather these great nuts of knowledge when, suddenly, he came across this beautiful, dark-haired fox.  He was taking a break by and old, fallen tree—a pleasant place—with wonderful odoriferous flowers of white, blue and purple sown in throughout the landscape. This delightful fox approached him. Once the two made eye contact, she glided toward him with beaming eyes and an enticing smile; she almost seemed happy to see him. The squirrel twitched nervously but greeted her with his big, brown gentle eyes.

“Hello,” said the fox, “My name is Young; you must be new here.”

“Hi, Young, my name is squirrel and, as you can see, I am a squirrel. I am new here; how did you know?”

The fox sighed, “Well, I don’t get a chance to meet nice squirrels often, so I know you are new here. “

“Really? I would have thought there were many squirrels just like me here.”

“No,” she smiled, they all are ugly and do not have bushy tails.  Your tail is handsome and you have gentle, good eyes.”

Young smiled with confidence, while squirrel blushed somewhat.  He was not used to compliments from pretty foxes, and nothing was a bigger compliment to a squirrel than noticing his tale.

“Well, you, too, are quite pretty and …”

“Witty? Yes, I am witty though not as much when I speak squirrel.  You should hear me speak fox.  I am much better really. So why are you here?”

“Well,” feeling much better now that he felt he knew Young a little, “I am trying to find the great nuts of knowledge. I came here from Upstate New York where there are many nuts, but I want something more…”

The fox giggled quietly, “There are a lot of nuts, nuts with bad taste, everywhere.  There are probably more here than in New York.”

“Oh, really,” said the twitching squirrel. “So there are no great nuts of knowledge here?”

“I wouldn’t say that, grinned the fox. But you have to come on a journey with me to find them.”

The squirrel was all too happy to oblige his pretty new friend, and he agreed and even went out of his way to hang out with the fox.

As time went on, the squirrel began to fall in love with the fox, even though his search for the nuts came up empty.  She, too, seemed to grow more attached.

But one day, Young was gone.  The squirrel searched everywhere but could not find her.  He grew frantic, even more than usual for a squirrel. He searched high and low, and even called her name. Finally, he thought to look for her where they first met, by the tree with the odoriferous flowers.  He wasted no time in returning to his favorite spot.  When approaching, we saw the fox sitting there, with her head bent downward.

“Young,” the squirrel called, “where were you?”  I thought we were going to go out today?”

The fox looked at him with a somber smile and spoke. “I got scared.”

“Scared? Scared about what?”

“Of being together. The timing is right, but you are a squirrel and I am a fox. I am afraid of what my family, what my friends will think, how they will react.”

The squirrel stood there speechless for a moment. He had felt the same way at times.  How could a fox live in a tree or how could he live in a burrow? Though he thought of these things often, he never let it get in the way of his search for love, for companionship.

He then spoke, “so you are worried about how to live in a tree, and I am worried about how to live in a burrow?”

Her old smile returned. “Why don’t you and I meet here later?  Don’t worry I will be here.  I am a fox of my word.”

The squirrel knew that Young was a fox of her word, so he agreed and then scampered off.

Later on, the squirrel returned to his favorite place and saw the fox sitting here.  He suddenly froze and hesitated to approach her.  He realized–while gazing at her in the midst of the heavenly flowers, the downed tree, and all the powerful trees towering all around them–that Young would be the most important and significant being in his life that no matter what, he loved her, even if he did not find the great nuts of knowledge.

Then he heard her speak and looked up in surprise.  While thinking this, his feet must have carried him toward her.

“I thought you were going to walk away.  I was going to get angry, but you came.” She smiled.

“Yes, I came…and was thinking about you…us.”

“Me, too. I was always thinking about us.” She grew serious, “I need to go away for a month and meet my family.”

“Oh, no,” said the squirrel, “I love you and don’t want you to leave.”

At this moment the squirrel cried, and they both embraced.

“I love you too,” said the fox crying.

At that moment, the squirrel felt much better.  He knew that she would not run away.  She was going to visit her family.  They agreed to keep in touch, and they did.

The squirrel never found any great nuts of knowledge.  He never found any nuts at all. What he did find was that though the fox could not live in a tree and he could not live in a burrow, they could live in the whole forest together.  That was a good thing, because ten years later, they became parents of twin white tigers in the year of the white tiger, a boy and a girl. One nutty and lonely squirrel became part of a family of four.

The tigers now rule the forest.

 

Dedicated to my wife, my son, and my daughter on December 25, 2011-

Love, your squirrel, husband, and father, Dropout Professor.

 

 

Canine Mindfulness

Huge dog is lying upside-down on her back on master's bed with handmade patchwork quilt

If I were a canine only,

I could live by olfactory

And smell my way to mindfulness.

 

I could sniff any crotch I like,

And bite anyone’s ass in spite.

I could slobber all over your beautiful face

And dry hump anyone in their private little space.

 

I could lick my privates in public,

Then thrash your pretty toes

And go out and urinate,

Even in a school zone.

 

I can bark when I like,

Without disturbing the peace,

And you would always take me for walks,

Never being too busy for me.

 

I can devour that sweet pussy

Cat,

But no blame in that

Because old dogs will always be just like that.

 

If I were a canine,

I could live the American Dream

Without making a damn thing,

And no matter what shape,

Gender, sex, or color,

I would never be called a “stupid motherfucker.”

 

I can caress drunken homophobic balls,

Only he’s accused of having gay sex with a dog.

 

It would be no matter to thee

Because we love dogs unconditionally,

So when I imagine a pretty girl holding me,

Even when I bite,

I’m in the mood for canine mindfulness;

Me being loved more

Than we love each other.

Sin

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by

Proteus Ashmole

As properly understood within the Judeo-Christian tradition, sin is any act that offends God.  Sin is inherent to all people because Adam and Eve chose to freely eat of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. [1] And while the sacrament of Christian baptism washes away the sin of concupiscence—original sin—we are still inherently sinful, or so goes Christian teaching.  Atonement theology asserts that Christ was the Son of God, who died on a cross as expiation for our sins, making all right with our Father.  Christ is called the Lamb of God because Hebrews, once a year, would lay hands on an unblemished lamb and reflect on their sins, then cast the animal out into the wilds where, presumably, it was devoured by some ravenous beast.  But, unlike a helpless lamb, Christ rose from the dead on the third day; Christians celebrate this resurrection on Easter Sunday.  And so you have the basic tenets of Christianity.

Except for one problem: Sin is a loaded term, one that makes people squirm.  Sin is not a bad thing.  Yes, you heard me correctly: Sin is not in and of itself bad.  Simply put, we sin, and that is a fact, but that does not mean that people are either good or bad, wicked or angelic.  Rather, we do things to others that we would not want done to ourselves because we are people–people acting like people, and that is all.[2]  So since “sin” is such a loaded term, I would propose that “trespass” is a better word.  But even “trespass” is off the mark.  So what do we mean by “sin?”

I would assert that God is love.  Period.  It’s that simple.  You can read all the theology you like, but God is love.  Jesus himself taught that the Greatest Commandment was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” The second follows: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Mt. 22:35-40).  The moral underpinnings of the theological concept of sin are simple: When we sin, we are not loving God.  Ours is a feeling God.  We hurt or offend Him.  On the face, this seems to make sense.  It made sense to me, until I had children.

My children love me very much.  They also hurt me, but they do not hurt me because they do not love me.  They hurt me because they love me.  More specifically, they hurt me because they can.  I let them. Why?  They have a deeply meaningful relationship with me, their father.  When people are close to us, as we hopefully are with God, they hurt us.  We are vulnerable, and we make ourselves so because we love them.  We are human.  Children, clearly, are also human. They screw up, and life goes on.  I love them despite the fact that they hurt me, as I always will.  And so, by way of the God-as-Father analogy that Christians constantly employ, He, too, loves us, even when we “sin” and hurt or offend Him.  But just because we hurt or offend Him does not mean that we do not love Him, nor He us.  In short, God allows us to hurt Him.  It’s called free will, a gift he freely gives us out of love.

Truly bad people could not love, at all.  I would challenge you to find one person completely devoid of love.

And God will always love us, regardless.  He said so when He made a covenant with Noah.  He showed us this fact by humbling Himself and becoming Emmanuel, sending His beloved Son, to walk among us, God and man, hyopostasis, the Word Made Flesh.[3]

So if sin is not that big a deal, why did Jesus come at all?  Jesus, the Messiah, came out of compassion, as well as to more closely unite us to our Father.  Compassion is a side of a coin, opposite love.  Every coin has three sides (think Holy Trinity).  Yes, He died for us as expiation for sin because we are flawed, but Jesus also died for us out of love and compassion, just as a parent accepts a child’s cruelty because he or she loves that child very much and realizes that their son or daughter is just being human.

I have never, in all my fifty years, ever met an evil person, a truly malevolent person.  I new one young man who suffered from anti-social personality disorder, formerly known as sociopathy.  But even he cried.  I saw him cry.  I also thought him capable of doing some scary things, though he never did them around me.  Oh yes, I’m sure truly evil people exist out there, for there is, as the weary adage goes, always an exception.  But, with grace and protection, I hope I never meet one.

As a Roman Catholic, I have suffered crippling guilt.  No longer.  In my twenty years as a Catholic, I have come to see Christ’s Church as a beautiful gift freely given.  Without the Sacraments, I wouldn’t stand a chance.  Go ahead, call me a sinner; it’s okay: God loves me.  I know he does, especially in still moments.  “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).  So rest easy, dear reader, for, if you are a believer, know that God loves you, too.

[1]     Gen., 2:3

[2]     For more on this parallel to sin, see L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings on the “overt.”  Yes, L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology.  (There are fragments of useful information everywhere.)

[3]     Hypostasis means God and man commingled, all at once—not globules of God in a body; not half God and half man; this is a profound mystery beyond our comprehension.

I’d kiss you all, but that would be wierd: Dropout Poems, 2018

Disgusting Horny Guy with Christmas Mistletoe
It’s not me, I swear. 

Hello and thanks to all of you for making my 40 years of writing, finally, a happy and fun endeavor. I have found wonderful people here on WordPress and some fine artists. Though I have a tiny footprint and a heart as big as my ass, my appreication for all of you and your own works of art has really inspired me.

I added a 2018 poetry link to my main page, but …

Here is a link to my poem list from December 2018.

I will do the same with my essays. I hope you rediscover some you missed.

Thanks again. I would kiss you all but that would be weird for me and for you.

-Dropout

Writing Brother(s)

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It was you and me

Then

That summer

I took $100

And bought a Sears electric

Typewriter,

A brother in disguise, and

You, a manual one;

It was a Brother, too.


Oh, who would think that plastic

And rubber

And fresh painted steel

Could be so romantic?


If Hemingway had napkins

We had Brothers;

You and me hugging

The table

Our brothers and

The coffee machine.


We wrote that summer, though we were just boys;

I, a novella, of kids running away

From adults

And you, a boy running away

From life.


Yes, there were four brothers so long ago

In that room there.

Because napkins were too expensive.

Only one still writes.

The Brother(s) embrace no more.

_______

Click here to listen to the poem.

A Conversation with God: From an Agnostic that Sometimes Prays

Dramatic nature background

[The following is a hologram of my imagination of what I believe to be brought on by migraines, creativity, or madness. My conversation with God is not to be misconstrued as anything close to faith, for I rarely believe in what is not there or deny in what is.]

The creator is often seen as being male and infinite, and to avoid confusion in such a gendered language as English, I will refer to God as God. God’s resume is very long, but one of God’s many accomplishments was the formation of this universe among the countless others. I cannot begin to tell you how honored I am that God agreed to do the following interview. To be so flawed and accepted by one so great, when clearly God has so many better and more faithful choices, leaves me so humbled that I must inscribe myself as “unworthy one.”

unworthy one: What is the meaning and purpose of life?

God: To open your eyes and to close them with a smile

unworthy one: Why is there such hate in this world?

God: Because there is much pain in this world

unworthy one: Why then is there pain like this?

God: misdirection

unworthy one: Do people have a chosen destiny?

God: yours?

unworthy: I want to write and write like hell but no one reads it. No one controls destiny?

God: write

unworthy one: Are we all misdirected?

God: “All” can be such a sin

unworthy one: what is the right faith?

God: That gives true hope

unworthy one: But many speak of the “Word of God” for example?

God: Not mine?

unworthy: Are men and women equal?

God: L-I-F-E is equal

unworthy: Why genocide, why World War II, why millions dead in Rwanda, why mass shootings, these crazy elections?

God: you become what you think

unworthy: why do people die?

God: Because people kill them

unworthy: They get disease and …

God: it’s a cycle … hate is not

unworthy: But why?

God: truth lies in those you trust … a week is 3 billion years … all in a time warp …

unworthy: Many will read this and say why did you speak with H-I-M and not those of faith?

God: because you spoke to me without a mask

unworthy: Any advice to the others?

God:  mercy is always worthy …

unworthy: Many people need you …

God: So do I.

unworthy: where are you?

God: In seeing the world, in seeing life differently, in seeing a setback as an opportunity, a disability as a gift, and riches as a curse; to see life, to smell it, taste it, to embrace what lives and mourn what has not, to see that when love conquers evil it may become so; evil follows goodness so. Twins at birth. Sometimes God can be the Devil, you know.  Evil is not Black or White; white is a color of life here and one of death over there. Black shows evil here and peace and new beginnings somewhere not yet here.

embrace life

love what you question

fear not what you know not

______

Here is the podcast of the interview.