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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down



“You know that your time is coming round,
so don’t let the bastards grind you down.” -U2


Sunday, August 11, 2019

State Fair Mothra


It's a Sphinx or Hawk Moth - spotted at the Iowa State Fair.

State Fair Mothra by Jeff Carter on 500px.com

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Reflector 6


From the "things you find in the street" collection.


Reflector 6 by Jeff Carter on 500px.com

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Friday, August 2, 2019

August Sunflowers


Sunflowers. Sunflowers everywhere in the yard.

August Sunflowers by Jeff Carter on 500px.com

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

My Tall Sunflower



My tall sunflower has finally opened it's head. It's not the last to open, but it is the tallest. 12 -13' (nearly 4 meters).  It's tall, but the bees don't have a problem with that.

My Tall Sunflower by Jeff Carter on 500px.com


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Thistles on Purpose- Part 2



The other day I shared a post about the thistle I planted in my back yard 

Well, further investigation has revealed to me that all species of thistle- even those native to Iowa, like the ones I planted- are governed by Iowa’s “Noxious Weed” law. Apparently they’re not just annoying, they are despised.

Anyway. I’ve moved them out and uprooted them. They’re gone.

Enjoy this photo of a bumblebee in one of my sunflowers.


Monday, July 22, 2019

The American Evanjuggalo Meets with Jesus



An American Evanjuggalo*, who was something of an internet troll with gadfly pretentions, came up to Jesus and said, “Good teacher…”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus interrupted him.

“Because you…”

“No really; don’t even talk to me,” Jesus cut him off. “Come back when you learn what goodness is.”





*Evanjuggalo – a portmanteau of my own creation (as far as I can tell), combining something of the American Evangelical facade, and the violent, trash-mouthed fans of the Insane Clown Posse (ICP) known as Juggalos. An October 2010 article in The Guardian characterized the Insane Clown Posse as "evangelical Christians" who have "only been pretending to be brutal and sadistic to trick their fans into believing in God." Evanjuggalos would be the reverse – pretending to be Christians in order to hide their brutal and sadistic selves.








Thistle on Purpose

I know most people think of thistle as a weed, as an unwanted nuisance. (Unless you’re in Scotland, maybe.) But I purposefully planted some thistle in the backyard for my bees.



Sunday, July 21, 2019

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Tournesol sous la Pluie



 Tournesol sous la Pluie by Jeff Carter on 500px.com

Summer Bees

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s been hot lately. The bees are hanging out outside the hive. 


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

In the Garden Today


I came home from work today and, as I do many days after coming home after work, I worked in the garden for awhile. I puled a few weeds, I righted a few plants that the afternoon's thunderstorm had blown over, and, as you can see below, I took a few photos.

Stargazer by Jeff Carter on 500px.com

Sunflowers by Jeff Carter on 500px.com




Rufus by Jeff Carter on 500px.com

Monday, July 15, 2019

The People of Babylon (If You Know What I Mean)



The people of Babylon (if you know what I mean) were gathered for the spectacle at the Duraplain stadium; it was a beautiful day, without a cloud in the sky.  Beer and popcorn venders roamed the crowds, going up and down upon the aisles to hawk their wares. The announcer addressed the crowd through the PA system, “Welcome loyal fans, and please greet with me the Babylon High School Marching Band and Honor Choir. When you hear the sound of the trumpet, and drums, and sackbut, and zither, and bagpipe, and all the musical ensemble with the choir, stand to your feet, remove your turbans and salute the symbol that your great leader has set before you.”

And when the band began to play the familiar dotted-eighth note, sixteenth note followed by three quarter notes and a half note melody of the hymn To Anacreon in Heaven, all the assembled people of Babylon (if you know what I mean) stood as one, doffed their turbans, and saluted the object of their religious worship. 

And when the final swelling tones of the hymn echoed into the distance, everyone replaced their turbans and solemnly uttered the ritual prayer, “Thank you for your service.”

Everyone but one. 

One jerk. One freak refused to stand, or to salute. This one piece of human trash refused to sing the anthem or to say the prayer. The people of Babylon (if you know what I mean) standing near him began to boo and to jeer. They hissed at him, threw rocks at him. “Go back to the shithole country you came from!” they shouted at him, and, “Burn in hell, you eunuch!”


One Bee



One Bee by Jeff Carter on 500px.com

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Amos Doesn’t Fit in Anywhere




Now ol’ Amos was a fiery sort, and I don’t mean his red hair but like he was burning. You know, on the inside. And maybe that was on account of the fact that he never did fit in anywhere too well. He was too rough for the genteel ministerial types he met at seminary. So it didn’t surprise none of us none when he dropped out and came back to work the orchards. But he wasn’t exactly what you’d call a regular blue-collar Joe, if you know what I mean. He had himself an education, even if his hands were calloused and the back of his neck was red. But he was a hard worker. 

Anyway, Amos left the orchard a few days ago without much in the way of warning. Just told the foreman that there was something he needed to take care of, and that he’d be back. I didn’t think nothing of it till I saw him on the Fox News while I was havin’ a beer at Tekoa Tavern. “Turn that up,” I said to the bartender when I saw ol’ Amos on the screen. He was up in Washington addressing a group of Senators or Congressmen.  Or maybe they were some sort of lobbyists, I don’t know.

“For three transgressions, even four,” he was saying.

‘Transgressions,’ right? That’s one of them educated church type words. Most folks around here, if they’re church going folks, would just say sin. And if they ain’t the religious types, they might just say, ‘you fucked up.’

But there he was, on the steps of the Capitol building. “For three transgressions, even four, there will be a judgement.  Because you sell the righteous for silver, and because you would, if you could, trade the poor for a pair of flag emblazoned athletic shoes. Because you trample the refugee into the dust and push the afflicted into over-crowded cages.  Because the father is a groper and his children no better. Because you prostrate yourselves on altars – drunk on wines bought…”

We didn’t get to hear him finish his rant; Capitol security tackled him on the stairs.  One of the cops clubbed him with a baton. “Shut up, prophet.”

I expect we might see ol’ Amos back here in a few days. Though he might look a bit beat up. “I’m not a prophet” he was shouting as they drug him away. “I’m just a farm hand, but I know what I know.”

I’m afraid he won’t fit in so well around here anymore after this. He doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

This Cannot Be a Surprise




There are military medals waiting at the end of the parade for corporate and corporeal thugs, as well as for the vacuous children of the President. See them standing there at the reviewing stand? Criminally debased and festooned with ink black ribbons and braids and bunting for then event. Who knew that rebuilding the concentration camps could prove so profitable, so patriotic?

Agents of the FBI – the agency now purged of all weak and failing elements – have bravely awarded themselves the highest honors that cointelpro can bestow, in celebration of the carefully orchestrated suicide of certain targeted leftists. “We did that. We are doing our part.”

They have planted thorns and snares, scattered weeds like an angry Ancient Near Eastern deity. They have reconvened the Court of Oyer and Terminer. (The magistrates are witches now!) Their collection of fingernail clippings and ear wax, used dental floss and Band-Aids will be on display across the nation until November. Get your tickets now.

There are strangers in the cemetery and we had no idea.

The welds of the Earth are weak; the foundations of the Earth have cracked. The sun is shifted in the sky. Mountains tumble, the seas foam. The void opens beneath us. All is reversed, perverse – this universe. And this cannot be a surprise. Not after the last two years.



When I Dream of Bees



When I Dream of Bees by Jeff Carter on 500px.com

Monday, July 1, 2019

Why I Hate America


A friend of mine recently shared on Facebook the purported results of a CNN news poll asking the question: Will you fly the American flag on July 4th?  63% of the respondents said Yes. 33% said No and the response of the other 4% is not described. (I have not investigated the accuracy or veracity of this meme – for the purposes of this post I will accept it as valid.)

In the comments his post gathered, it was suggested that the 33% not planning to fly the Stars and Stripes on July 4th must be Democrats who actually hate America, and want to see it destroyed, and that they should find someplace else to live – preferably somewhere behind President Trump’s yet unbuilt wall.

As it turns out, I am not a Democrat, and neither do I wish to see America destroyed, but I do hate America – or more specifically, I hate the United States of America.

Please allow me to explain.

I could list examples of our nation’s history of slavery and genocide. I could describe or ever expansive, militaristic imperialism. I could cite our racism and class warfare,  but none of the things, as potent as they are, are the real root of my hatred. I hate the USA because Jesus told me I should.

“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”  Luke 14:26-27 -  NRSV

I am aware that these verses do not mention the USA specifically, or any nation-state in general. But the principle underlying these words certainly applies. And it’s not really that much of a stretch. We speak of Fatherland. We speak of Motherland. We speak of Homeland. And I am told by Jesus that I should hate my home.

It will be objected that Jesus didn’t actually mean hate. And it’s true; you can find any number of commentaries to explain that the Aramaic root of the word hate that Jesus uses here actually means, “love less.”  And this understanding is reflected in Matthew’s version of this instruction.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Matthew 10:37-38  NRSV

But Jesus’ words ,as recorded by Luke, were intended to be coarse, shocking, vulgar even. These instructions cut across the fabric of society, tear a hole in social constructs, then and now. We are supposed to be offended by them and provoked by them. It does us no good to dismiss them as merely examples of Jesus’ sometimes fiery, hyperbolic rhetoric. It is rhetoric, yes,  but we dare not dismiss it.

Those who love their home – their homeland – more than him are not worthy of him. Those who do not hate their homes – their homelands- cannot be his disciples. And so, yes: I hate the USA.

Does this mean that I want to see it destroyed? No. No more than I want my parents, or brothers, or my wife, and children to be killed. The persistently belligerent will demand, “if you hate America, then why don’t you leave?”  But where could I go that I wouldn’t say the same thing?  No nation-state is the kingdom of heaven. No nation-state has my allegiance. Only the kingdom of God – on earth as it is I heaven. .


Friday, June 28, 2019

Long Hair Preacher



There he was – out in public, unashamed, passing out leaflets to passerbys on the courthouse square like some old time, Long-haired preacher man. I might have said ‘hippy’ with the long hair and all, but he wasn’t wearing sandals or a beard. He was just there shouting his message to anyone and everyone. And what was he preaching? What was his message? The worst sort of anti-American, socialist rhetoric you could image. Worse! “The American banking system is corrupt,” he said to anyone who would listen. Fortunately there were few who stopped to listen to his blathering.

“The banking system is not corrupt, it is not broken, you fool,” I shouted at him, trying to get him to stop.

“No, of course not,” he responded – like oil on water, sliding away from the point I was making. “The banking system is not broken; it functions exactly as it was designed, and it functions well. But it is evil. “

Do you read the gospel, sir? Do you read the Bible?”  I was tired of this weasel. He needed a good come-to Jesus moment

“Yes, I do.”  The smarmy bastard actually pulled out his phone and tried to show me a Bible-app. “The biblical societal code forbids the charging interest on loans…”

“What would you have us do? Just let everyone run Willy-nilly and cancel all their debts?”

“Well it’s not  just me,” he said. “It’s the Bible, but yes. Regular debt cancellation is part of the jubilee…”

He didn’t get any further with his malarkey. That’s when the police came to drag him away. I gathered up all the pamphlets he dropped as they zip-tied his wrists behind his back. No sense in leaving filth like that for anyone to find. Think of the children. I took them home and burned them.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

What I’m Reading: Not Stephen King



Boo.

You, sir, are a scoundrel and a cheat. And what is more, you are a coward. Afraid to trust the merits of your own work, you attempted to trade on a similarity of names. And I while I don’t know if the cover design was yours or the Magic Pen Designs named on the copyright page, I’m sure it was no accident that your cover apes the style of books written by the more famous Stephen King. Stephen R. King (yes, you duped me. I didn’t notice that initial until I’d returned home from the library) you are no Stephen King.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Love Leads to Truth


Last Sunday the pastor at the United Methodist church I attend (Pastor Chad) was out of town for the UMC annual conference. He asked me to fill in for him.  I did - but I forgot to post a copy of the sermon here on the old blog.

Love Leads to Truth


As the co-director of the Newton Community Theatre’s production of Arthur Miller’s play – The Crucible – I have spent the last several weeks, the last couple of months thinking about the Puritans and the Salem witch trials of 1692.  I have also been thinking about the events that inspired Miller to write the play – the red scare, the communist menace, the House Un-American Activities Committee and the outrageous accusations of Senator Joseph McCarthy.  I’ve been thinking about truth and lies – but since we closed last weekend, you’ve missed your chance to see our production of the play, and I’m glad to be done – mostly done thinking about these things.

But before I move on altogether…

“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, and the Roman prefect’s question has been alternately described through the centuries as either the sincere question of an earnest seeker of wisdom or (more frequently) as the smug, cynical question of a weary skeptic who has grown tired of competing truth claims.  But the question remains: What is truth?

What is truth and how can we know it? In an age of fact checkers and snopes.com, what is truth?  In a time when our president has made over 10,000 false or misleading statements in his time in office – so far [i]– what is truth and how can we know it? Facts are ignored. Lies are spread.  And the witticism that has been attributed to at least a dozen different individuals seems true – “A lie will go around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on.”

Before leaving his disciples, Jesus said to them, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. I will ask the father, and he will send another companion who will be with your forever. This companion is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world can’t receive because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. You know him because he lives with you and will be with you.” John 14:15 – 17

So we, as followers of Jesus, have this Spirit of Truth to live in us and to be with us forever and yet Christians often seem as blind to the truth as the rest of the world who neither sees nor recognizes that spirit.  In the history of the Church we have multiplied examples of Christians both telling and believing lies and falsehoods of all kinds. Even with the Spirit that will guide us in all truth (John 16:13), the Spirit who is truth (1 John 5:6), we seem as susceptible and prone to untruth as anyone else.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” So how can we recognize and agree upon the truth as Christians, as Methodists, as members of St. Luke UMC?

Lately I’ve been wondering if the commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor,” (Exodus 20: 16) might mean something more than simply, “don’t tell lies.” I recognize of course that the 9th commandment is specifically about false testimony in a legal setting (Freedman 139) but what if we thought of bearing false witness as that carrying around of lies and falsehoods? What it we thought of it as including those untruths that we are unwilling to release?

It can be difficult to let go of those untruths – particularly when they either flatter or embellish our opinion of ourselves or when it mocks and distorts our enemies. Our pride and our vanity can blind us to the untrue things we believe about ourselves. We are blind to the thousand justifications and excuses that we make for our own shortcomings. And we nurse and rehearse the slanders and mischaracterizations of our enemies. The things we like to believe about them may have begun as slight exaggerations or rhetorical hyperbole for effect, but we go over them again and again, like picking at a sore that just won’t heal, until it becomes infected and inflamed; they become the lies and false witnesses that we bear with us everywhere we go.

What if “thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor,” means that we should release these falsehoods? This would require a rigorous self-examination that we often find too difficult and unpleasant. But can the Spirit of Truth be said to inhabit us now and forever if we are clinging to and embracing those lies and calumnies? Can the spirit of truth guide us into all truth if we are bearing these false testimonies against our neighbors in our hearts?

Today, on this Pentecost Sunday –we celebrate the unity of the early church, gathered together in one accord (Acts 2:1) in the mighty wind and burning fire of the Holy Spirit. And if we want that same unity of the Spirit- the spirit of truth- we must give up our treasured falsehoods.

Before Jesus left his disciples he gave them a promise that another Comforter would come for them – but he prefaced that promise with a condition and a command. “If you love me you will keep my commandments. I will ask the Father and he will send you another companion.” But what commandment?  A few sentences before this he said to them, “I give you a new commandment: love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.” (John 13: 34-35)

Love leads to truth, or it at least opens us up to be able to receive it. If we will love each other – and even love our enemies – we will not want to believe all the horrible, untrue things we’ve been told, and that we tell ourselves. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)

“Teach us to utter living words of truth which all may hear
the language all may understand when love speaks loud and clear
till every age and race and clime shall blend their creeds in one
and earth shall form one family by whom thy will is done.”

O Spirit of the Living God, Thou Light and Fire Divine- by Henry Hallam Tweed

Freedman, David Noel.  The Nine Commandments: Uncovering the Hidden Pattern of Crime and Punishment in the Hebrew Bible. Doubleday. New York, NY. 2000.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Catmint and Peony



I cut some flowers from my garden this afternoon.


Catmint and Peony by Jeff Carter on 500px.com

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Thursday, May 30, 2019

I Am Myself



There are voices, offstage voices
singing ancient hymns in shifting key
while all the ice of the invisible world
is gathering here in my heart
in my clamoring heart.

Yet I am myself, I think
myself – blushing and dreaming
of vacant cathedrals.
I am myself.

The Lord, our God, made earth and sky
as we lay sleeping in ditches,
drunk and half-witted. I did drink,
aye, and dance, yes
but I did not sell myself.
I am penniless, not brainless.
Not yet.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Crucible



Our local community theater group will soon be putting on a production of Arthur Miller’s - The Crucible. You are all invited to come see it.




Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Day Full of Wonder



Yesterday was an ordinary day, full of wonder and of weird. Perfectly ordinary in every way.

I saw that the great steel rings encircling me were banded with iridescent rainbows. I asked the angel carrying these rings through the air, “How came this to be? What causes this?”  “The Trees. They are responsible,” he told me, but I knew that he meant The Chemists.

I considered my age, but did not act it.

I saw rivers of rust racing upward from the middle of the floor. They were there on the other side as well.

I looked for someone who was not there.

I watched this not too solid, blue flesh be washed away, renewed. This happened more than once, and I rejoiced each time.

I ate cheese.

I said, “I am not so old.” But no one heard me. And I didn’t believe me.

I sent undeliverable messages into the void. They returned to me the same.

I deciphered a coded map to an unwanted treasure. I watched as the X was marked and the hole was dug. It was promptly refilled.

I instructed some in the ways and means of revolution. All they needed was power and a way to control it – and isn’t that true of all revolutions?

I went in search of lost and forgotten scrolls. I went into neglected corners and haunted ruins I found a few of the scrolls, but only a few.

I hid myself from the hovering, red eye – the eye that seeks to crush and to kill. I slunk into the recesses and hid behind the columns until it passed.

I hijacked a battery and pushed buttons for brass.

I drew the summoning digit with chalk and waited for them that look within.

I reminded myself to not be anxious, but did not heed the reminder. My lip was shredded. Still, for a moment I felt a shower of sparks down my neck and spine, and I was not afraid. I held the light.

Yesterday was an ordinary day, full of wonder and of weird. Perfectly ordinary in every way.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Whose Head Is This and Whose Title?



15 Then the Evangelicals went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. 16 So they sent their disciples to him, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the government, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me one of your coins..” And they brought him one. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “President Trump..” Then he said to them, “Give to God the things that belong to God, and pay your taxes, but don’t give this clown anything; he’s a liar and a cheat..” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.





Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Mother of My Children and Those Children


Photo taken at the MN Zoo in a rare moment when all three were smiling at the same time.


Saturday, May 11, 2019

2019 Backyard Garden

My backyard garden is planted for 2019. The garden is expanded this year to about 25’ x 40’.

This year it includes:
Pumpkins
Sunflowers
Bee Balm
Hibiscus
Atomic Cosmic Tomatoes
Cherokee Green Beefsteak Tomatoes
Taxi OG Yellow Beefsteak Tomatoes
No name Tomatoes
Pole Beans
Green Beans
Okra
Onions
Leeks
Hot Peppers
Asparagus
Garlic
Rouge d’Hiver -red Romain lettuce
Mixed color Orach
Arugula
Purple Haze Carrots
Peas
Rhubarb
Raspberries
Grapes
and Hops (three varieties)




Saturday, May 4, 2019

A Busy and Productive Day.


It has been a busy and productive day, so much accomplished, so many tasks completed. I feel good. And just what all did  I do today? Well, let me tell you:

I began the day by dreaming of zombies in the workplace, of barricaded doors and axes in soft skulls.

I awoke and dressed and walked 0.6 miles to get nowhere- or rather, nothing- or rather to not get what I wanted. I bought coffee and doughnuts instead. Disappointing, yes. But still- has coffee, so not terrible.

I then cut the heads off of a thousand lions. One by one, I cut them down. Later I will drink their blood.

I angered a swarm of bees. Not a good idea.

I gave the earth a haircut.

I pruned three small wolves. Later there may be beer, but tomorrow I will cook and eat them with friends.

I sat a while to read- to reread, I should say (and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve reread this story)  to read the story of a misunderstood not-monster living in the not-then, not-yet ruins of a French gothic cathedral.

I spoke bad Russian to an artificially intelligent owl. I try to do this every day.

I ate wine-soaked cheese then went out in search of still more food.

I dozed on the couch with my young bride (who insists that she cannot be more than than twenty-seven, and that her baby cannot be graduating from high school in a few days).

I caused it to rain upon the earth- or at least my small part of it.

I discovered errant golf balls on the roof and opened clogged water ways.

I ate earth apples.

All this and there are still several good hours (and one bad hour) left in the day.

Monday, April 29, 2019

L’Obelisk



It sprung up from the ground in the middle of the night, smooth polished stone without waning. It towered over the people who stood starring up at in from the courthouse square like a threat. Like an ultimatum. The people gathered there could not decide whether they should bow or cower. The obelisk undid them all.


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Monday, April 22, 2019

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Dead Prayers in the Far West Corner



J. saw the shadows in the far west corner of the factory even though no one else in the plant would ever speak of them. He saw the twisting shadows in the strange recesses of the far west corner every time he used the forklift to move a load of wire cable or steel platforms from the receiving area to the assembly floor. He saw that the shadows moved – and not just the movement of shadows as the sun moved across the sky, or the forklift’s headlamps swung across the wall; the shadows in the far west corner moved on their own. Strange behavior for shadows, especially since shadows really don’t even have behavior. In the few months that J. had worked in factory, he’d never had opportunity to look closely at the shadows. He drove past them as he moved pallets or hauled away dumpsters of trash, but he never stopped to explore. He wasn’t paid to explore.

On this particular day – it was a Wednesday, he remembered, he always felt the most tired on Wednesdays, and according to the watch board in the break room it had been 66 days since the last recordable time-loss accident – he was moving a crate of industrial hoses for the blast booth when he drove past the far west corner and he stopped. J. put the forks down and shifted into park. J. stared at the twisting, tenebrous void.

Slowly he realized that he couldn’t hear the roar of the blast booth any longer, nor the hum of the grit vacuums. He couldn’t hear the crackle and pop of the welder’s torches or the warning sirens of the cranes in motion overhead. Even the blatty rumble of the forklift’s diesel engine seemed muted and shushed. The factory was quiet, but not silent.

The shadows twisted in front of him, receding deeper into the corner from whence came the murmur of voices – chanting. Chanting prayers. Prayers in some forgotten language. A dead language. Dead prayers in the shadowy, dark corner of the factory.

Lulled by the soft syllables of the chanting, J. felt sleepy. Dizzy. Faint. But still the foreign tones drew him in; they called him. And though he could not understand their dulcet words, they filled him with ominous, incomprehensible, irresistible dread. “I’m drowning,” he thought. “I’m drowning, and she’s watching me. Watching me from the shore. She is watching me drown.” The rhythm of his internal soliloquy gradually assumed the cadence of the unseen chanters in the shadows.

And then

the horn that signaled lunch break broke his reverie. J. realized with a start that he’d sat with the forklift idling for at least 15 minutes. And he still hadn’t delivered the hoses to the blast booth. He knew he’d have to work double quick after lunch to get caught up. He also discovered that he was, from helmet to steel-toe boots, coated with a fine pink powder. This powder he would later have chemically analyzed and the analysis would show it to be some sort of anhydrous crystal residue.  

Abstract Work Photography:Ocean




Monday, April 15, 2019

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Annual Palm Sunday Parade



It is the annual Palm Sunday Parade, and we have come to see the sights. We’ve come early to secure the best spot, in the grass, in the shade. We’ve brought our collapsible chairs, our umbrellas, opera glasses, and a cooler of beverages. It’s a great day for a parade.  The sun is up. The wind is down. It’s not too cold – winter has only recently lost its grip on the land, and it’s not too warm, the sun has not yet reached its summer intensity. It is a great day for the annual Palm Sunday Parade.

And here they come – the rope-bearers, the knotters who lead the procession with ropes. Their brothers will follow, as we know, at the end of the parade as well, to tie the whole thing together. And yes, it’s official.We can hear the blowing of the horns of the altar.  The parade has begun!

There’s Herold, the herald, ringing a bell, followed by the Daughters of Zion throwing candy.

Now come the Freemasons, wearing caps with two-headed eagles, and splendid aprons with golden embroidery. They are throwing, not candy, but small stones. These are unwanted, rejected stones. Don’t confuse them with the bonbons thrown by the Daughters of Zion. You’ll break your teeth.

Next in line is the All Star Bethany High School Marching Band, playing a selection of songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The Bethany High School Marching Band is a crowd favorite. What they lack in precision and skill, they make up in volume.

And here is a strange entry: four creatures walking, or flying as it were, side by side. There is a golden, shimmering Man dressed all in white, and beside him a Lion as large as a truck. Next to the Lion is great Ox with six-foot long horns. Flying next to the Ox, is an Eagle. It shrieks. We are forced to cover our ears. Its cry drowns out even the marching band.

Here comes my favorite. The Laborer’s Local Union 353. They’re holding a banner that reads “MONEY CHANGERS and BANKERS BEWARE!” 

Behind them are the bagpipers.  There are always bagpipers in a parade. Always.

Now come the Lord’s Prayers. They step in time reciting the prayer that our Lord taught us.

Here are the infants and nursing babes – with their prepared praise. It’s difficult to understand what they are saying, what with their mothers’ breasts still in their mouths, and all.  But we cheer for them, nonetheless.

We’re almost at the end now. The little children come next, shouting “Hosanna!” But they’re confused. They are mixed up. Why are they wearing last year’s Christmas pageant costumes?  They’re wearing angel robes and gold tinsel halos. “Hosanna in the Highest!”  Have we got our holiday’s confused? And what is this? What is this next strange sight? A group of men holding palm branches and lemons. Lemons?  The palm branches I understand, but … Lemons?

After the citrons have passed, there is a solitary figure. He’s wearing a tattered sweater and bow tie. He’s holding a pen. I don’t know what he’s doing here.

And now, of course, the man himself riding on a colt and on the foal of a colt, a bareback trick rider extraordinaire.

Our neighbors here on the parade grounds are starting to grumble about all of this. The candy and the chaos in the streets.  But before their complaints can get too loud, they are drowned out by a strange shouting coming from those scattered, discarded stones that the Freemasons tossed.

And that seems to be it. The parade has passed by. The final Knotters have bound the whole thing up. The parade is over and the crowd turns to leave. They pack up their chairs and round up their screaming children with bags of candy.  It’s time to go.  But wait. Wait.  Like a Marvel movie post-credit sequence, here comes one more entry in the parade. Blind beggars and lurching cripples, who look like they’ve crawled up out of dank ditches, struggle on in the wake of the great parade.  They may be late, but they know they will catch up with the Parade Marshal at the end.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Jeff Carter's books on Goodreads
Muted Hosannas Muted Hosannas
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