The Reaper’s Weave

He had, after the bayonet pierced his right leg, believed that death had come to take him.  For the piercing was the third successive wound and his windpipe and shoulder had been ripped open.  He sank into that midnight, leaving the field of that battle at Seven Pines.  His sweat mixed with his blood and the sting was less painful, for a numbness had spread over him, though the wound to his arm burned like lye in his bone.  His mind called to a close that dreary scene before him.  That screaming private.A soft breeze tossed his brown hair from his face and his countenance was mystifyingly calm.  As though he were in quiet reflection.

He was left for dead as he’d requested.  Not carried to the rear.  Left for dead on the field.  Struggling back to consciousness as a hostage of the Union.  For he had not died as he presupposed, though his immediate heroes caused him to think upon dying…hell.

Then came the blessed exchange and General Pettigrew returned to that honorable position.

A year after that conspiracy upon his life, on July 3, the handsome general again faced that conspiratorial weave.  That infamous bastard called death who clings to war like a scab to a wound, came for him again.  His horse had been shot out from under him and as he ran with his men, he received a wound to his hand.  The hideous wound to his hand recognized as potentially mortal by General Robert E Lee, who condolenced as General Pettigrew ran to the rear, his right hand mangled and bleeding, his profound disappointment burning within his chest.  It was called Pickett’s charge, but General Pettigrew was leading a third of the assault.  Haunted now by the possibility that death was indeed after him.

On the Maryland side of the Potomac River, General Pettigrew ran with his men.   July 14 had arrived with a mission for the general as he moved into position on the front line.  That final weave would be drawn through his chest, point blank range.  He left his command post eternally, three days later in Bunker Hill, West Virginia

The reaper’s weave took him in the final wound.  Leaving him for burial in the land which exacted such a price as a possibility. 


The Compromise of 1850: A Fixing Attempt

The Compromise of 1850, rather than being a “cause” of the American Civil War, was a comprehensive temporary fix for a situation that the powers that be feared and hoped to avoid.  Namely, civil war.

The Compromise allowed for slavery and a more stringent Fugitive Slave Act, the end of slavery within the District of Columbia and the admission of California as a free state.


In order to keep the South happy, the government ceded to slavery’s proponents, keeping happy a growing Northern sentiment to anti-slavery, by aboloshing it in the nation’s Capitol.  California’s admission as a free state, blocked Southern expansion.  Had the Southern territory added California, with the recently found gold and broad territory, the South may have won the war.  One of the most difficult aspects of the war for the South was their lack of money and manpower.

The Compromise of 1850,  also claimed the various territories, deemed prizes of the United States after the Mexican-American war.  This would include territories of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Rocky Mountains and small sections of Oklahoma, Kansas and Wyoming.

The “Free Soilers”, who were a political force, having come from the Whig and Democratic parties, with a common belief that slaves should be free and that it would build a more fluent economy, were intensely hated by those of the pro-slavery intent.  They did have some bearing on the Compromise of 1850.  More as a block for them was this “compromise”.  Though this party was shortlived, (1848-1852), it did send two senators and 14 representatives to the thirty-first Congress.  The Free Soilers did not focus on the moral issues of slavery, rather they accepted the Black man as human and showed concern that if the old tradition of slavery continued, it could be used on whites or anyone.  That is, anyone could become a slave, and the Free Soilers believed in a free market as well as, social mobility.

The Fugitive Slave Act which was spawned from the Compromise of 1850, ensured that law enforcement, including federal marshals, would receive a 1,000.00 dollar fine for not arresting and returning any slave.  What this meant was, that many free Blacks were forced back into slavery because they had no rights in court.

It was during the Compromise of 1850 that the Republican party became stronger and associated with anti-slavery philosophy.  The Free Soilers were mostly absorbed by the Republican party.

The Compromise of 1850 was an attempt to save a country already divided philosophically.  The fruition of the civil war bearing the vicious effects of such profound philosophical division. 

That over 600,000 people died in the Civil War within a period of 4 years is a statement as to the depth of the conflict.  Psychologically.  Especially, emotionally.


Losing Joseph

Joseph’s bright, white undershirt clung to his body and from a side view, his torso reminded one of the hilly countryside at a vertical perspective. His muscled stomach, a washboard of a road leading to that place she hoped to keep for herself. He turned her world upside down and all she could do was spin motionless within the memories of him, next to her, his breath on her shoulder. She could not be in the same room with him without toucing him and she wanted him in a way that transcended his emotional well being. As though she would engulf him and he would be no more. 

Joseph perceived this and having considered the emotional plight and the long run, he folded her up and put her in a sack to be carried away by rejection, that cruel intraveneous cold moment that laid her waste for weeks. Her knees pulled tight to her quivering chin. Her pillow wet with tears.

Indescribable lust had taken hold of her and like a junkie who pined for a good shot of horse, she caved in, longing, wishing, remembering. Nothing and no one had ever compared to Joseph.

The nights were long and the sweats persistent. Her agony passed woefully in sombering 60 second intervals, which seemed like hours. Her muscles ached for the great Joseph, long after her heart had soured to his memory.

In the fourth week of her misery she awoke to being fully alone and the world seemed to her as a jigsaw puzzle, disjointed and flat. She’d removed everything from her small house which reminded her of Joseph. She had the carpets steamed, the mattress cleaned and all of her pillows redone. Every cell or hair or fiber which Joseph might have left behind was removed.

Years later, she would marry a man whom she loved and respected. A bright and caring man. They moved to the sea side and began their life together. Children would be born. Milestones met and the fullness of life experienced. In the evenings she sometimes sat beneath the stars watching the vast ocean and thought of Joseph. She realized her good fortune and she felt lucky.

Her husband did not know that she sometimes indulged in afternoons with the ghost of Joseph. For the wife he knew was perfectly content with him and when she traveled east in the winters to visit her mother, he walked the beach in front of their beautiful home with Heather.

Heather did not love her husband. He was a diversion from her boredom with a life grounded in a strapping gravity. And the three in their discontent, in the desert of mannered conventionality and the maze of confusion, unbeknownst to any of them, became one.

Aristotle and Darwin: A Comparison

Aristotle‘s approach to life was one of observation and precise thought. His concerns were ethical, and yet he understood that humans were very unpredictable. He was realistic in terms of human behavior, but he also offered that a thinking man who understood himself as well as his environment, would be more upright, or ethical. Aristotle searched himself. As in, he concerned himself with his own thinking. Aristotle was a true man of science and studied in a variety of areas including biology, zoology and government. He was very thorough in his research.

Aristotle reasoned that the universe had “no beginning and no end”. Aristotle’s concerns were with the natural world around him and how it functioned. He was a gatherer of knowledge and he was a teacher.

Like Darwin, Aristotle was the son of a physician. Aristotle did not include himself or other human beings in the animal category. His philosophy was one of understanding the physical world, self introspection and educating others.

It was Charles Darwin, who, after neglecting his medical studies, having been distracted by other concerns, like the life cycle of marine invertibrates, found himself invited to join others who thought like he did. He was fascinated with evolutionary ideas.  (For myself, in college, the distraction was the cell and how cancer formed and the various ways in which the cell could be super improved-to my detriment-I failed and am now banned from returning.)

Charles Darwin looked at the world around him and reasoned that there was much more to the great mysteries of the earth and the life which dwells there. His concern was in gathering knowledge, much like Aristotle had before him. However, Darwin reasoned that there was a link between all life. The genetic link.

Where Aristotle saw the less intellectually endowed as common slaves, Darwin, upon encountering those in a less enlightened condition, saw them as proof of evolution. But these were not derogatory conclusions. They were the conclusions of men, comparing themselves to others, which in the human realm is quite normal and their observances were scientific rather than socially motivated.

Darwin had ties to church. Aristotle did not. Both were of compassionate hearts. Men who lived in different times, but were very intelligent and sought to understand the world around them and how they fit into it. Darwin died at home in bed surrounded by his family. Aristotle died in his country home, a year after an uprising threatened him.

There were flaws in the the beliefs of both men. But there were also accuracies. Science and philosophy will always err in some way or another. Human beings make mistakes.

Like Darwin, Aristotle attended medical school but later went to study philosophy.


Common Sense Government

Cigarettes, snuff, cigars and loose leaf tobacco are products put in the mouth and as such, should be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Warehouses, storehouses and/or factories which produce these products should be maintained and kept clean and free of bacteria and other infectants which could potentially end up in the aforestated products and therefore cause liability against the American public.

The Food and Drug Administration should see to it that these products are not reaching the public contaminated or chemically altered to emphasize addiction.

There are companies which manufacture cheap cigarettes and sometimes the contents rolled in with the tobacco are quite foreign looking. Sometimes, these cheap cigarettes look as if they hold the sweepings from the floor and it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.

According to www.tobaccofreekids. org, the government plans to devise a scheme which will help curb tobacco use by children. I see nothing wrong with this personally. Though I am a smoker and addicted. Unfortunately, I began smoking at 15 years of age. Off and on, until I was about 21. After that, I could not do without them. I now pay over four dollars a pack for good cigarettes. I will not smoke the cheap ones, due to reasons cited above.

As of July 30, 2008 the measure passed the house and the FDA now regulates tobacco products.

I don’t like government intrusiveness anymore than anyone else. However, I do feel that it is the government’s responsibility to see to it that the American public’s consumable products are safe. As safe as they should be. Of course, cigarettes and the very habit of smoking is said to be dangerous. Experience tells us that they can even kill you. So can too many eggs and too much whiskey. So can inhaling spray paint.

As a smoker, I believe I have the right to smoke. I also know that I should quit within the next couple of years. This quitting will be my decision.

The government cannot tell me to quit smoking. I know for a fact that I get a mental kick from the nicotine and one Science magazine I read from time to time advises that a day will come when people will be requesting nicotine pills for this very reason.

Nicotine, according to the Oxford Journals, The Journal of Biochemistry does not suppress the expression of GRP78, which is essential for embryonic cell growth and pluripotent cell survival. So, while smoking is not good for the unborn, nicotine does not inhibit growth of the unborn child.

In effect, I in no way defend smoking for others and I in no way suggest that the government should stop anyone from smoking. I merely agree that if the government sees to it that I get a high grade cigarette and they work to see to it that a good portion of young people won’t ever smoke, then it is a good thing.

In conclusion, I enjoy smoking a good cigarette. Unfortunately, I began the habit as a 15 year old child. The government of the United States is not perfect and has no business telling me what to do, but they do have business overlooking consumable products which are made available to the American public.

Walking With The Crows

The sun throws golden cream across the landscape in the late afternoon.  Yellow and red leaves scuffle across the silvery pavement and I am walking with the crows. 

I’ve no pressing schedule to keep.  No one knows me who might need my attention.  Save for my son and I left him with enough algebra to de-tangle that he won’t be needing me anytime soon.

Why I am so drawn to crows, I don’t know.  Not as in an academically rational answer.  But I like them.  For their intelligence and silky blackness.  For their surety.  Some birds seem to dawdle about.  Not the crow.  The crow always looks to be on top of things, even when they’re looking stupid, which isn’t often.

It is said that in North America, the crow is an omen of death.  I don’t see the crow that way. 

The crow to me, symbolizes the greatness of the ungreat.  I like watching them strut, or sitting atop a fence post eyeing the world around them as they call out to passers by. 

The crow is chutzpah robed in glossy black sass.   Just obvious enough for a double take and just subtle enough to go without suspicion.

If the crow is a spirit messenger, he brings me news of resurgence and renewal. 

So onward I went with the crows.  One of them, a little larger than the others, walked away from me, turned around to look at me and then behind me as if watching my back.  I liked that. 

It was a peacefully reassuring closure to an otherwise harried day.



Hard Core

“If you live among wolves you have to howl like a wolf.” -Russian Proverb

The cutting edge is upon me and I am once again, slammed to the pits of despair.  I’ve also got a splitting headache.  Well then.

As an esurient, in need of tobacco and better food, I want.  What can I say?  The eclectic life is not always the easiest.  Or the wealthiest. 

I am suffering as an artist and I recently read that suffering, that is, all out depression makes us better artists.  Maybe.  But something’s gotta give. 

I think of Van Gogh.  A beautiful soul, head fangled by the crude and lead in the paint.  Yes, what suffering and he wasn’t truly appreciated until long after he died.  Fine wine is no respector of life span. 

Frankly, I’m pissed off.  Like the boxer whose taken a humiliating and heinous ass kicking, I don’t want this round to end with my face on the floor.

Therefore, I don’t quit and yet I’m not producing at the standard which I want to.  Why?  Because life is not conducive to creative activity.  It is a hard core experience of hard edges which tear at the heart and mind. 

A terrible ache is ripping through my brain.  My income has dwindled by 75% in the past year.  I’m hungry.  I’m so broke, there’s nothing funny about it.

Yet, I’m grinning.  In my old jeans and sweat shirt.  In my pitiful little cottage, down by the rail road tracks.  I own more books than furniture.

This ain’t disco.  This is the real tornado.  It’s a damned awful tragedy it is and yet it isn’t over.  It ain’t over, till it’s over, as they say.  And the boy says to me, “You can’t quit writing, mom.”.

Of course, that’s the answer.  I can’t quit writing.