Friday, July 04, 2008

i've taken this holiday seriously, ever since the bicentennial year when i was hit by a firecracker and was deaf for about ten seconds, my ears ringing for about ten minutes, that's why, when they try to mess with it, i raise a fuss, a little. it was a steamy, rainy day here, like a tropical jungle, the buses came from chester (home of popeye) to take our students to the city for a long day of mall, arch, fireworks, the whole nine yards. lots of people wanted to go; they filled the buses; that's why, in the end, i didn't have to- and walked home, through the neighborhoods, west carbondale, where people were out walking, riding, taking in some of the steamy weather. later on it dried out enough to have fireworks so the kids could run around on the grass, and the firemen or whoever tried to mess with the various firecrackers so that nobody got hurt and everyone had fun. it was high drama, this being a small town, and nobody knowing exactly what was going on, because something was burning up way down there on the grass; we could see it, but didn't know what it was, or if our grand finale was down there just burning up. we suspect that's what it was; some stage that was connected to the grand finale just caught on fire, and they let it go, 'cause it was out in the middle of a field.

st louis is not a bad town, i've come to like it, read about it, and of course the cubs with their jim full-count ed were in town if one could sneak over to the busch and get a sense of what that was like. but i didn't really want to be there; flying way over the swollen mississippi was enough for me, and i wanted to be home, in this small town, getting out the trains and sprawling around with the kids, sick or not. fortunately, in the end, i did, but not before i'd gone down there, got ready to get on the bus, resigned myself to my fate, etc. etc. reminded me of the story of abraham and isaac, which i'd heard in the chapel in las cruces, where abraham has to serve up his son to the altar, have faith, surrender entirely to fate and to god, etc. where was sarah, the pastor asked as she told the story...but actually, that wasn't what struck me about the story. sure, he took his son to the altar to serve him up; sarah wasn't around. but my question was, why did he have to lie to his son, about who exactly was the offering going to be, today? god will take care of it, he told his son. god will take care of it, i was thinking, as i walked home; eventually to do some patriotic link haiku and get my garden in order. i'm considering finishing this, so i made the links work, added a few, arranged them a little, mostly just considered putting pop art in them. pop art is, after all, a kind of haiku. instead of "season" and "syllable" it has "temperature" and "exposure" and my favorite, "sharpen," which i suppose haiku has also, but the main point is: simplicity, image, edge. the kids were out there, better, full of it, needing every ounce i could give; i kept the pop art off the link haiku, but it might not stay that way forever; can't seem to keep it off the blog, or out of the massive webpage caverns that run under the surface. i'm all surface, andy warhol would say, everything i got, it's right there on the table, there's nothing beneath it at all. that's actually a paraphrase of something he said, but i took it more as a boast; with these simple but bright and dazzling colors, i can put it all in there, if i do it right, i won't be hiding a thing. i know pop art has been compared to the usa a lot: optimistic, generous, naive, all that stuff. i'm not sure about that. it's just a little waywardness with color, a little sharpen on the surface. it's a way to survive, life being full of papers to grade, grammar, a bus, flooded out on the river road, a baseball game, red, blue, and visitor-uniform gray. happy birthday, america...you are one heckuva firecracker. with a stage, left to burn, out on the cool, wet grass, and the brake lights, ahead, in the line to go home. god will take care of it, i suppose, and if god has a part in it, i suppose i'll be out there helping god take care of it. me, and the summer breeze, that gently takes that smell of burnt gunpowder, and drifts it over the fields and the reservoir, make you want to roll up your windows.

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