What America means to me

I remember waking up to the horror of September 11, 2001 by the sound of my mother screaming my name from the bottom of the stairwell.

“We’re under attack!”

Foggy brained, having slept in my jeans from the night before working as an unloader at Walmart I sat up.

What? Are we under attack?

Are the neighbors invading? There’s a zombie apocalypse? Has Canada become sick of our shit?

“They’ve hit the World Trade Center and the White House.”

Who? Who has hit the what?

Okay. I was up and half asleep worked my way downstairs to figure out what was going on.

I walked into the living room where my dad was watching the news when the second plane hit the World Trade Center.

“Dad, what movie are you watching.”

“It’s not a movie.”

My life changed that day as we watched the news. As we watched the scene change from New York City to The Pentagon as another passenger jet had driven into the side leaving a gaping black hole of destruction and smoke.

We watched as both towers in New York crumbled and fell upon the inhabitants.

I fell asleep to CNN that night and woke the next day with the news media at the scene of what had now been declared an “act of terror”.

America, the beautiful, had been devastated by the loss of over 3,000 of our citizens of all walks of life, in just a few minutes.

I was in shock. The sound of airplanes overhead (fighter jets patrolling the skies) for the very first time in my life scared me. Terrified me.

Later that night, as the shock wore off, after watching hours of grown men and women holding pictures of their loved ones near the site of the World Trade Center begging anyone that would listen to them with tears in their eyes, I wept.

I knew a war was coming. Months later, I signed up for the Army.

I served for the loss of those at the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and in the Pennsylvania field. I served for those whose lives were taken aboard those aircraft that had been hijacked by 15 people from a far-off place. And I served to protect my home, my family, and all free peoples of the world.

There were a lot of people dead. The enemy hit soft targets. And, in their hatred of us, there was a sort of universal equality in their decision that is ironic. To those 15 hijackers, “All Men (universally speaking) were indeed created equal”. They were all American. Those 15 men, in just a few hours, managed to do what this country couldn’t do in over 200 years of this nation’s existence.

It didn’t matter if they were white, black, gay, straight, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, or Jew. It didn’t matter of their victims were disabled, saintly, criminal, a banker, an investor, or a janitor staff in those buildings.

Afterward, there was a sense of unity throughout the country. Rural areas rose funds, donated blood, and volunteers from all across the country went to Ground Zero to do the work in a pit of absolute horror.

In these days of national unrest, civil disobedience, inhumane treatment of non-citizens, an economy that serves no human purpose, and a very aroused republic, I can’t help but think of America’s future.

There’s a lot of fear among the populace. Fear of ‘other’ and fear of “Tyranny.”

I can’t help but wonder if Osama Bin Laden, while dead thanks to the actions of the Navy Seals and President Obama’s orders, is closer to winning posthumously while the citizens of this country and citizens all over the western world have started to turn on each other.

Politics of discord, and of hate, have risen up from the depths of a hell we thought we’d banished them to 60 years ago. Things are being said about people and done to people we thought as a country we’d put aside. Was it a lack of vigilance? Was it a lack of watchfulness? Was it trading liberty for security? Or was it all of these things?

I am unsure. All I know is that America doesn’t feel like the country I lived in prior to 9/11.

Today, there is a necessary and terrible question concerning foreign influence upon our Chief Executive, President Donald Trump who seemed to skate right into the White House despite all the things he’s said about fellow citizens, journalists, POW’s, women, the disabled, and his love affair with tyrants all over the world.

Yet, despite all of that, despite the white-hot conversation taking place in the marketplace of ideas, on the news, across social media, and in our homes today. I realize something I should have realized when I saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center tower.

That America is an idea. And ideas once put forth, cannot be destroyed.

It can’t be destroyed by terrorism. It can’t be destroyed by hate, by fear, nor by tyranny. Nor can it be destroyed by referring to its guardians, The Media, as “Fake News.”

Our founders, while imperfect in all ways imaginable, lit a match that caused an inferno to sweep the globe. Ideas of liberty, freedom, equality, while not yet fully realized at any time in this country is the shining city on the hill that we strive for. Those ideals are to Americans as Canaan was to the wandering children of Israel. A land of Milk, and Honey, a land of safety and prosperity, and peace.

America is about hope. It’s hoped that those immigrants who seek our shores, and our borders, who cross thousands of miles in unrelenting heat, toils, and snares, see. It’s a promise that they can see that sometimes even we, as Americans, are blind to.

This great apocalypse that is Donald Trump, this great “uncovering” of the truth, has exposed a country terrified of shadow and uncertainty that he capitalized on.

Try as he may, however, he nor others like him, nor foreign interests in our electoral system, can ever make that shining city on the hill grow dark as long as we hold the truths that were declared self-evident that all men are created equal, in our hearts.

That is what America means to me.

Shame on you, America

jesse-bowser-6054

 

I hate that children have to beg not to die.
I hate that everytime I turn on television that someone in our country has been blown away.
I hate that mental illness is being made the ‘enemy’ when in fact it’s anger and rage that brought our president into the oval office that is responsible for these deaths of children and concert-goers.
I hate seeing Donald Trump’s notes to say ‘ I hear you’ to the grieving families that stood in his presence.
I can’t stand seeing his face anymore or hearing the talking points from conservative pundits saying, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
Like Eddie Izzard said, “They sure do help.”
That’s the truth. A pistol would have lowered the body count, a knife, a car, a bomb.
I was in the service – I’ve fired weapons like the M-16, the M-203, the M249, a 50 caliber Machine gun.
As cool as those weapons were to fire at targets, like the blogger said, made to look like men – those weapons are designed for one purpose.
To kill people.
Center Mass.
If people want to fire weapons like this – stop dreaming about the civil war of you vs the federal government that will never happen. Go to your local recruiting office and go and defend us from ISIS and The Taliban and Russia. Put your patriotism and love of country where your mouth is.
The possession of an AR-15 will get you killed faster than not owning one.
Are you gonna take on a Seal? A Ranger? A Marine? A SWAT team?
Because if shit’s really that bad, that’s whose showing up to take you on. That means you’re dead already, you just haven’t laid down yet. That’s who those people are once you get past the pomp and circumstance and patriotism. They’re trained killers.
What about the tanks and bombers and F-16s?
I hate that the biggest threat to the United States (outside of Russia’s involvement in our politics) is the American people who passively allow their future to get walked down the lane hand in hand with ghosts of times long passed. Who are greeted by God having to apologize to them for the way they died when their lives were cut short.
Speaking of which, for those of religious inclinations, how long do you think God is going to sit idly by while children, breathing, walking, talking, children get slaughtered in the classroom.
And don’t make it about ‘well, if God was allowed in school…”
God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, God is in public schools and as long as teachers hand out tests – there has been and always will be prayer.
What isn’t in school are the parents whose sole responsibility in this world is to make sure their children are educated and reach adulthood as responsible members of society.
So play the blame game. Keep it going. Keep abdicating your responsibility as adults and watch as these children snatch the future right out of your hands. Someone has to stand up and say something. Someone has to bring hope to the helpless. Someone has to make sure that school-aged children won’t be gunned down because some crank decided that he or she wants to do the most damage in the least amount of time.
And God help us, it’s children.
Shame on you, America.

Healing Hands (poem)

devstated

 

turn on the light
bare your bruised chest
throw your head back
take it all in

show the cracks in your armor
call out to God
let the stranger place his hand
on your head

Go walking in your sleep
there’s no salvation in skin color, child
nor should there be any burden there
no promise in your bones

But the healing touch
of another’s hand
can deliver you from the deep
fathoms of your broken heart

let a cool hand
caress your fevered brow
don’t worry after the color
the faith, the culture, the labor
those hands have known

Trust it, feel it, and
Weep for our foolishness
no politicians can save us
only we can

Then let those hands
dry your eyes
and let them clothe you
as you lay your weary head down

Turn off the light
and fall fast asleep in the deep
sleep of someone forgiven, child
rest there knowing your safe

 Heather Hayer
(R.I.P Hero Heather Heyer – A casualty in America’s war with it’s own conscience. She stood up for love)

Message in a Bottle (Part 10)

411722_orig

 

The world seems filled with scandal today. Anthony Weiner is back in the news for tweetin’ his pecker. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are on the outs and getting a divorce. Hillary has her emails and everything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth is a damn lie. Everything today seems salacious. But I don’t understand why everyone is so shocked by that. People often do dumb shit.

But I think the shock comes because we see people as perfect. We place people on pedestals. And in church, the pastor gets set on one. He’s considered without reproach. But boy, that isn’t the case sometimes is it?

Now scandal becomes so depending on people’s level of tolerance for certain things. If a woman in the church we went to cut her hair too short, people would be beside themselves. If the hem of a skirt was too high, if someone was seen leaving a movie theatre, if you listened to the radio or any number of mundane things that to the world outside would seem a total non-issue.

But then, we’ve had some doozies too. Real scandals. Real stuff.

The first I can remember is when I was very little our family attended a church in Delray, Michigan called Open Door Baptist Church. This big congregation was on Dearborn Ave in a brown brick  building with a huge green steeple. In my furthest memories, I can recall being in the nursery.

But this place had been the beginning of my life. The name Open Door Baptist would follow me most of my life. And in each and every single church that carried that name, the scandal of what it was would follow us around. Like a ghost that couldn’t lay down. I don’t know if it was it’s protestant nature that shook it like bones in a coffin and caused it to fall apart over and over as it stayed in a perpetual state of protest. Or the fundamentalism was so great so profound that it – like most – fall victim to its own inability to sustain itself in such a heightened state of perfection. And because of that inability, when the bow breaks, down goes baby cradle and all.

I do not know all the details. But I do know that at some point the pastor’s wife began to have an affair outside of the church. In response, the pastor began to have an affair with my aunt. Several people knew about the affair and wanted to use it as a means to take control of the church and raise up their own man as the pastor.

Then the pastor and his girlfriend stole the offering out of the safe, bank, who knows aaaaaaaaand ……

……ran off to Las Vegas. That’s right. Right into Sodom and Gamorah. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars.

The people who’d known all along that this was going on went to my father and accused him of being in on it, although it was them who had been on it all along. He knew nothing about it and it actually broke his heart. And like humpty dumpty the church crashed and all the kings horses and all the kings men….

And that always seemed to be the nature of things. For all its righteousness and all of its high moral grandstanding, fundamentalism eventually does something ridiculously human and incredibly dumb and it implodes or explodes. And when it was all said and done there were victims walking around looking dazed and confused asking themselves how could this happen?

It’s like one of those party poppers. You know the kinds with the strings that you pull and *poof* there is string and bits of paper all over the place? And it’s about as anticlimactic as that as well.

All through my life going to church with my parents, things like this – maybe not to this degree- would happen. And I think it happens because at the end of the day these organizations are ran people and people aren’t perfect and they do make mistakes. However, and this is big however, when you prop yourselves up as the gatekeepers of the real gospel and the saved of the saved, the mistakes you make, the fall from grace you take as a result, is a honey. Because while there is plenty of righteousness to go around. There was ZERO grace to be found. For anyone.

We would go to these churches and our parents would say that, “Oh, this church is so different. They aren’t like the other versions of The Open Door Baptist Church’ we went to prior (even though some of the members were the same as well as the doctrine) . And that was the way of it. Jesus is REALLY here. He wasn’t really there at the last one because of what they did to us or said about us or whatever.

And so the insanity and indoctrination (as well as abuse)- would continue. Until something else happened. Until the King took a tumble in his tragic kingdom and the subjects were left to wander through the desert for forty years without him. It was really sort of unmerciful all the way around. While the Pastors would advocate corporal punishment for the women and children in the church, all the while the blade of the guillotine was being sharpened for the first time he made a mistake. Or, if he was hell bent on keeping his throne, he would send out hit men to abuse the accusers into leaving the church and cover everything up. One pastor of ours actually slashed a man’s tires.

It’s good to be king.

Like I’ve said before in other blogs. White trash Shakespear. And at the end of the day – no matter where we went or how long we stayed – it was a study in pure insanity. Insanity is repetition expecting different results. But the end was always the same. It was like these organizations had a natural shelf life built into them. A self-destruct button. Because most of the families that were involved with them, self-destructed right along with the churches they associated with and protested themselves to death. They fell upon their own sword.

That was the real scandal of it all. And it’s rather poetic in a tragic way. Do I hate those people who had an affair and ran off with the money? No. I’m just sorry they felt that was the way they had to go about being happy because their doctrine held them captive to such a degree they didn’t or couldn’t even have mercy on themselves.

That’s the scandal.

And pulling away and peeling that stuff off of you has to be done layer by layer.

I’ll write more when i can

P.S. If you want a good peek inside of Fundamentalism – and understand the isolation and human nature being triumphant- without having to watch a documentary or join one, watch M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village.

 

Listen to the song he sings…(Poem)

Don’t listen to the words of man
listen to the song he sings
above his head, from in his heart
listen to the gentle breeze

thump..
thump…

sunlight drifts between the leaves
dappled rays of golden light
darkness comes a shivering wind
leaving mans soul a wandering blight

thump…

Listen above the rising din
above the static charge
listen above the rumbling thunder
above the river run red with blood
dancing there among the stars

A song so sweet that heaven bends
its ear toward the earth
to hear the beating in his ribs
the muscle of his heart

thump…
thump..
thump..

Its constant as chaos rises
when chaos dances without a cause
thump, thump, thump it goes
nary a second in a pause

In that beat is the truth
far truer than any creed or belief
that life is better yet lived
free from bitter grief

Man has the answer cast in flesh
the air within his lungs
his soul cast into his mortal frame
truer now than when life begun

Don’t listen to the words of man
listen only to the song he sings
deep inside the cage of bone
this constant steady thing

thump….
thump…
thump….

hear that?
its life

Its truth…

 

Beyond the Witching Hour

Beyond the witching hour,
thoughts lengthen tonight,
as they join the wind

The trees sway with springs first buds
darkness is heavy here
this side of the earth

I wonder about the spirits
pressing hard against the night
fingers grasping at the veil

their shouts but a whisper
just beyond the hearing

I listen
as my lover sleeps on

F.E. Feeley Jr
This is an older poem
3-22-2015
edited by C. Atmar

Michigan Winters (A poem)

I remember the winters, and the snow late at night
with the world set ablaze from the moon’s silver light
I remember the stillness, the quiet, akin to death
flying heavenward, always upward, the heat from my breath

I remember how time always seemed to me,
suspended like ice cycles on the bows of fir trees
teardrops on maples, void of their leaves
limbs frozen over, as if laid barren by thieves.

I remember walking, those long wintery roads
yet unmarked by tire treads, or other folks I’d known
My feet would crunch and kick and I’d slide
I’d laugh as I stumbled risking my pride.

Oh, I didn’t’ care. There was no one but me
alive in the world, at least as far as I could see
the only tracks left behind me were mine,
no one watching, no one telling, no reason to lie

So when the stumble came, I’d let it come I’d roll in the snow.
I’d laugh, I’d curse,
it’s hard under there, you know.
There was no pride and no mission
No place I had to be. It was just the winter,
empty streets, my boyhood, and me.

Alone, not alone
5/12/2015