Ozymandias’s Socks

I’ve been enjoying all the snarky and sarcastic comments on the internet about how we’d never have history if it weren’t for statues. It’s a funny attack on Trump’s statements, but it also points to some deeper truths. Statues have never accurately represented history. They are the perfect example of the truism that history is “written” by the victors.
Monuments are also deeply connected to the dead, and to a desire to mark the landscape and infuse it with a particular set of meanings. Chaco and Gettysburgh alike reflect this need. And so, unsurprisingly, what statues are is really art, not history. Good or bad art, but art nonetheless.
The Latin poet Horace boasted that he had “erected a monument more enduring than bronze”–that is, his poetry. But both Buddhism and common sense teach us that everything changes, and yes, most things are eventually lost.
Which brings us straight to…Ozymandias!

“Just off the highway heading south on I-27 out of Amarillo, two gigantic legs in athletic socks can be seen. You wouldn’t know it, but they are in fact the shattered likeness of an Egyptian king.”Ozymandias” is the Greek name for Ramesses II and was the inspiration and name of a famous poem written in 1818 by Romantic poet Percy Shelly after a visit to the ruins.

The pedestal near the monument also asserts that the visage of the king was destroyed by Lubbock football players after losing a game to Amarillo, which while plausible, is of course false.

The sculpture was built by local artist by self-taught artist Lightnin’ McDuff, who specializes in altering found objects to make new pieces of art. The sculpture has been vandalized numerous times, most notably with the addition of socks to the legs. Occasionally the sock vandalism is sandblasted off of the sculpture, but always seems to reappear. The locals appear to prefer the king’s legs be kept warm.

A plaque near the gigantic legs reads:
“In 1819, while on their horseback trek over the Great Plains of New Spain, Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein), came across these ruins. Here Shelley penned his immortal lines.”

This of course is a series of charming hoaxes. I”m pretty sure when I last saw it the legs were mssing socks, but her is what they look like added:

Info from the marvelous Atlas Obscura, without which my life would be much poorer: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/ozymandias-plains

And these lines from Shelley, who endures in my poetic pantheon.

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Customize Your Life or My Daughter’s Chickens

“You’re just a Santa Fe hippie.”
I’ve heard that a bunch over the years from some of my east coast family. But as Tolstoy famously said about how the least ugly person in a group is the family beauty, this is a statement more about contrast than reality. My mother was haute-bougeoise in her tastes, activities, and aspirations. So, compared to her I really am a Santa Fe hippie—despite my newish Subaru, my well stocked closet and larder, and my pretty container garden.
But what am I really? And what are you?
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how we customize a life, taking certain values and styles and mixing and matching them. It’s a tremendous freedom, and a Jeffersonian pursuit of happiness.
To whit, I’ve recently observed

A long divorced couple who gets on so seamlessly that both of them continue to benefit socially and even economically from their unconventional alliance.

More than one disabled artist creating exquisite work despite—or maybe “with” is a better word—physical limitations.

A writer whose creativity and career are taking leaps forward during a stressful, seemingly incompatible, sandwich generation time.

And…my daughter’s chickens.

Let’s look at first few examples. When you realize you don’t actually have to do something—such as divorce—any particular way—you feel free to customize the experience. You might receive criticism, but probably that is from people who prioritize discord over harmony, and you don’t want to be like that anyway.

The same is true of disability. I wouldn’t wish the chronic pain or limitations I have on anyone, and I don’t regard it as a “gift.” (The kind of gift you’d want to return!). However, it seems more than possible to flourish emotionally, creatively, spiritually if you will in even a very dysfunctional body. Able bodied folks don’t seem to necessarily be happy or productive. And disability is no deal breaker when it comes to authenticity of self.

Caretaking can be exhausting and stressful. It can also, in the case of kids, babies, dogs, kitties, llamas, and goldfish, be a lot of fun. Each caretaker has to decide what will keep the situation from destroying inner joy. Here, the ability to handle ambiguity is a huge help. More than one thing is happening at once. Someone is sick or dying, the peonies are blooming—these things co-exist rather than canceling each other out.

I have to add that all of the approaches above can help when it is society that is in turmoil. I avoid the 24/7 news cycle like the plague—because it makes me feel that I’m about to break out in boils, not unlike the Black Death itself. There is no one right way to be a citizen, you get to figure it out for yourself. What is the correct mix of outrage, activism, self-protection, and equanimity? That is up to you to decide. Just don’t let cultural stress turn you into its victim.

Now, to the chickens. When my daughter started her rainbow flock, my mom was not happy. Granted, my mother was almost 90, and fading into dementia. She still didn’t like it. “Chickens are like the shtetl,” she whispered to me.
My daughter comes out of several cultural influences—diy, backyard homesteading, self-sufficiency, New Mexico, country living, and a love of animals. Maybe deep in the background there is also the shtetl, and the Jewish love of a nicely cooked chicken, with bones for soup. Eggs are a Slavic symbol of rebirth, also found at our seder. Plus, the fresh eggs are delicious.

So—I’m not claiming to be a Santa Fe hippie—just the parts of that which suit me. The counterculture and its influence is found throughout each of my days, as is the upper middle-class suburban way I was raised, the Romantic notions of a poet’s life, the politics of my Menshevik fore bearers, and the shtetl’s appreciation of chickens.

When Bad Things Happen To Bad Statues

“It’s about more than the statues,” a wise friend says. However, funerary and memorial monuments are smack dab in the middle of my artistic obsessions.
The mayor of Baltimore simply removed Confederate statues yesterday:


And if you ever wondered what happened to the Lenins of the Ukraine, there were a variety of responses–


Closer to home, the saga of the Ludlow Massacre monument. A statue marked the spot where women and children were slaughtered by Pinkertons during a mining strike in Colorado:


A few years ago, the statues were decapitated and defaced, then restored, culprits unknown. I hope to visit later this week, en route to Nebraska to see the eclipse.

A Charlottesville ER Nurse Speaks After a Day of Decompression. By Kellen Squire

A Charlottesville ER Nurse Speaks After a Day of Decompression.
Kellen Squire –
August 13, 2017

I’ve sat here at my keyboard staring at the blinking cursor for awhile. There’s words inside me that need to come out about what happened in our community yesterday, but… I dunno. They’re stuck there. Nothing seems right. Especially after watching everyone’s “hot take” on a community you’re from. But there’ll be time later to go over those- particularly those of the President and my Congressman. It doesn’t help either that our community isn’t out from under the specter of the Nazis who visited us- there are vigils across the country for Charlottesville, but our own vigil was canceled because of a credible threat by white supremacists to invade it and take it over.

Those of you who read my diaries here pre-rally know I had pushed for people to ignore the Nazis who invaded our community. They were here because we were a huge target for them; ranked the “happiest city in the United States”. Outspoken against the President and his policies. Very progressive, but not perfect- hell, no, we have plenty of faults. But we work through them together as a community as best we can.

And ever since I became intimately acquainted with the “alt-right” in the wake of the Y’all Qaeda nonsense in Oregon– which is almost the entire reason I’m now running for public office at all- I knew what their goal was, plain and simple: terrorism. And terrorists don’t attack folks who are already afraid. They don’t attack anyone who isn’t a threat to them. Which made our community the perfect target for them- and since they were gathering from across the country, in numbers they would unlikely be able to easily come up with again, I had an awful feeling that violence would ensue.

To read this thoughtful expression in its entirety: http://bluevirginia.us/2017/08/a-charlottesville-er-nurse-speaks-after-a-day-of-decompression


I’m at the David Bowie concert in the Railyard this balmy Saturday night. Then one of the MCs says something that truly upsets me, about how Santa Fe is so great and loving and diverse that “what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia could never happen here.”
Please think again. The cities are the same size. Both are liberal, and yes, diverse. Both love their outdoor concerts, their dogs, their local foods. Both have considered themselves occupied territory.
I’m very fond of C-ville, and my friends there. Earlier this very summer I sat on a shady screened porch and listened to sad and worried talk about the alt-right protestors. Were they only to be feared, or could they be communicated with? How to respond? What to do?
And now tragedy has stuck—as has the assignation of blame. I’ve never been a mayor or a police chief—and I would not presume to tell either how to do their job. You can try and blame the ACLU or your own privilege or whatever you want—but I think blame just distances us from reality.
Earlier this week Santa Fe witnessed a case of extreme cyber racism. And an armed belligerent man in the city council session. At the start of the rise of Nazism, Germans no doubt said—it can’t happen here, not in the land of Schiller and Goethe, of Bach and Beethoven. But happen it did.
And saying things can’t happen neither prevents them, nor prepares us. Santa Fe is many things, including my beloved home, but it can also at times be racist, violent, and troubled. And if armed fascists from out of state marched through our Plaza I don’t think they’d be greeted with just a kumbaya moment.
Anything can happen anywhere. You can blame so called human nature. Or, in the specifics of these events, you can blame the United States of America. Which, I might remind Santa Fe, we are part of. For which you can blame the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Why trifolds are one of the best freebies to give away at haiku conferences

Great ideas for sharing! Looking forward to HNA conference in Santa Fe next month!

Old Pond Comics

IMG_8756If you’re a Haiku Canada member you’re familiar with trifolds since there are usually one or two included with the Haiku Canada Review.

A few years back, Michael Dylan Welch started creating his own trifolds to share his haiku with attendees at conferences.

Today, trifolds are one of the most popular freebies at haiku conferences. They’re made of one sheet of paper printed double sided, and folded like a brochure.

IMG_8716 Letting Go: haiku & haiga (interior), by Naia

When designing a trifold, pay attention to the cover since it’s the first thing people will see. Make sure the cover has an attractive picture, a title, your name.

IMG_8714 Letting Go: haiku & haiga (cover), by Naia

The back of the trifold usually holds bio-bibliographical and contact information.

IMG_8750 A Common Touch (back), by Michael Dylan Welch

You can create a trifold using the theme of the conference.

IMG_8747 Autumn Haiku, by Barbara Hay…

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