This is a page to exhibit humanity at its best. The candles in the darkness where the light breaks through the dark overcast skies that purvey all the world like lightning briefly turning night to day as God smites Hell and breathes away the grey. Until it fades away and the wave of black returns to reign.
December 25th, 1914. In a war that finally gave the ancient sin the reputation it deserves. After millennia of humankind glorifying murder from Thermopylae to Agincourt to every other war. The aesthetic modernism deprived the ritual of its frills and thus stripped it naked. Yet, poetry is art and art uses aesthetics to make deeper than aesthetic points. So, poetically, a counterpoint of deafening silence and radical embrace of human siblings in the cartoonish and wonderfully simple microcosm of war that was two trenches of infantry firing over a short strip. That on that stage that reduced the abstractions and strategies of the macro to an easily digestible allegory of itself and the absurd madness of the human condition that it was, was an equally simple and poetic scene that between the two directly shooting lines of guns is where the symbolic and briefly literal peace would be made.
November 9th, 1989. In another exquisitely simple act of human poetry written by actions to shine the best of the human condition overcoming the worst, it would be the Fall of the Berlin Wall. The homepage’s opening image is from a happy ending to Romeo & Juliet. The closest example I can think of where a city literally divided by a mortal feud (represented by a literal wall) is reunited is then. You just can’t get more dumbly obvious than that and poets sometimes see dumb obviousness as beautifully reductionist as I do. That is because such obviousness is timeless and universal and the stereotypes are the pictographic words with which much less obvious messages are conveyed. The two glaringly major events occurring, the ending of the Cold War and the ending of the dictatorship in East Germany (if not elsewhere) speak of human affection, human freedom, and hope.
September of 1992. Vedran Smailović, a 35 year old member of the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, risked his life to breathe beauty into the death of war. The breakup of the Eastern Bloc, especially Yugoslavia, was among the bloodiest events that occurred, at least partially, in my lifetime. My underdeveloped self was unaware of the waning days of the conflict, yet, while I was bouncing in the doorway swing in my house, a genocide was being wrought half a world away. As that genocide began to play out in Sarajevo in 1992 Vedran stood against it. Between the thundering howls of bullets and artillery and over the moans and wails of the wounded and hopeless was a sweetness and grace. If there could be no geographical oasis of love in the war, there could be a psychological one. If the bodies could not have peace, at least, the souls could. Even if those souls weren’t among the dead. It is a profound lesson that no matter the circumstances, if there is no peace without, there may always be peace within. We cannot stop war and sometimes war is even justified. As long as it is merely our bodies and not our souls engaged in war, then the worst has not consumed us.
Probably taken in May of 1980, this represents a different species of love. As an aspie, I have a particular affinity for two things, science, generally, and vaccines, specifically. This showed humanity’s indomitable spirit. The boils of hell that brought the millions to their early graves or, if not, caused lifelong disabilities in many cases. It was a weapon of ethnic cleansing that not even Zyklon B could compare to. It was Smallpox. Our species raised its bloody and tattered human flag over the hill of the protein coats of the quadrillions of valiant virons that were cut down by the antibodies we shot indirectly out of the artillery of our syringes. It was a medical Juneteenth and like Juneteenth, the war had been won in most places for a while but Juneteenth was the last day and the end of the ghastly story of the plague.
This is one of the better documents I have authored in my life. I chose to upload the picture with the signature unredacted since the cursive is of such poor quality, her name is illegible. Anyway, this is a photograph of the guardian angel covenant document that I had a classmate of mine sign in Spring 2019.
It is a beautiful document in its aspirations for the human condition. It has aged perfectly so that it looks so old-timey in this picture. When she signed it, it was crisp and recently off of a printer. It is a vow I hope more people take and, unlike her, take seriously.
As peaceful and loving as this page is, I have included the flag of the French Resistance. My favorite quote of the Dos Equis Man is “I’m a lover, not a fighter, but I’m also a fighter. So, don’t get any ideas.” The flag expresses the sentiment, “we are, have been, and shall forever be… Free!” I loathe and detest any form of domination and darkness. As I express in my comedy page, I faced my bullies with love but I didn’t tattle, run, or hide. I faced them down with wit and humor. Now, the vice principals the country over putting microphones in bathrooms as an anti-bullying measure. I never worked with authority to develop punitive policies. I am free! I will die as I live, free! If one uses civil defiance, love, and art, it is longer but with less collateral damage. If one uses domination, it is shorter but with more. One of the reasons I don’t watch horror or true crime is because I would rather spend thirty minutes being killed than thirty years being afraid. I will die on my feet before I live on my knees!
The Catonsville Nine, one of the greatest acts of civil disobedience of the anti-Vietnam War movement. May 17, 1968 in Catonsville, Maryland. Nine Jesuit monks burned their draft cards in the grand tradition of the religion founded by a hippie executed for civil disobedience. Love is a radical act. It is the most radical act. The God of love is the master of the religion that comes before all other masters, as is the First Commandment.
August Landmesser on June 13, 1936, at the launch of a newly built ship in Hamburg, Germany, husband of a Jewish woman. He had joined the Nazi party to advance his career. His is a perineal image of civil disobedience and standing by one’s convictions in the face of pressure in the opposing direction. When society and the law were against him, he refused to bend, symbolically, to the enemies of love.
April 15, 2014, Samereh Alinejad, right, slapping the blindfolded Bilal. Bilal was convicted of murdering her son, Abdollah. She is seen at his execution in public in the northern city of Nour, Iran, at the moment she stopped it. Bilal was pardoned by the victim’s mother, Samereh, seconds before he was to be hanged, with the noose around his neck, standing on the chair. In Iran, the court sets the maximum sentence and the victim may commute the sentence or fully pardon the condemned. Which, for all the propensity for bribery and corruption such a setup allows for, it does give the epic, awesome, and romantic scene of the mother of a murder victim literally saving the life of the person convicted of the murder. It’s even better that someone caught it on camera. Love!
The front page of this website is a happy ending to Romeo & Juliet but is there a happy ending to Titanic? Maybe. The closest thing would be an Edwardian era ship running into ice, wrecking in the middle of a desolate wasteland, and everyone miraculously surviving. The 1910’s version of Apollo 13, The Shackleton Expedition. There are lots of stories of surviving against the odds but that is among the more epic. As a poet who loves metaphor and symbolism, Antarctica is the literal bottom of the world, Hell, and the story is close in time and setting to a major tragedy, the sinking of the Titanic. The boat in the picture is not their ship, it’s a lifeboat they brought to the shore of Elephant Island, which the captain and five other men managed to aim at the relatively small island of South Georgia eight-hundred miles away to get help, through hurricane-force winds and periods of low-visibility, only to be forced to beach on the wrong end of the island and having to cross a small mountain range to get to the nook of civilization that was a whaling station and from there get a rescue ship to the others and everyone survived.
The archetypal image of a protester sticking a flower in a gun. Of love and hatred dueling directly against each other. The perineal and eternal conflict between light and darkness. Between good and evil. Between the angels and the demons of the human condition.