Seventy-one and a woman who’s seen mighty change—internet, cell phones, and one step for mankind on moonscape. Veterans of WWII branded their stories on my young soul. That damned McCarthy caused me to look for communists neath my bed. Viet Nam tattooed my innocence. Patriotism, plated as political righteousness, challenged the rage against dying and peace movements—Gandhi dared Patton philosophies wrestling for ethos. No winners, just battle-worn heroes. Now drums the social-till-doomsday-shrill-media robbing weak heads of free thinking—new mind control. Fear like rain cuts rough, new gullies of hate, fear and rage. Peace lost not on a battlefield, love in surrender to hate. Godly abandoned in rallies, the modern lion’s den, truth’s death. Long serving soldiers dismissed for truth-telling. A Medal of Honor bestowed on a bigot. Romney the lone statesman. Loyal, weak servants rewarded and righteous, strong saints defiled. Labeling knowledable elitist. Labeling brown other. Labeling good hearts feeding hungry folk socialists. Villainous! Rise up you virtuous patriots. Be the strong voice of right. Rise up still Christians and claim the mantle of kindness. Rise up to speak! Rise up to vote! Rise up!
These times challenge saints more than sinners.
Fear and anxiety accompany worship and school attendance.
Slowly we move into democracy lost or renewed.
Our children will live on a dying planet or learn stewardship.
This journey will make heroes and villains of us all.
Must we relinquish control to madness?
Some frantically compose FB posts to vent their anger –
posts with scripture to counterpoint side against side,
posts to request prayer – pointed and raging – self-defeating peace,
posts with cartoons screaming louder than words.
Must we become what we hate in others?
If my voice is the loudest, am I right?
If I manage to trample on your rights to protect mine, am I right?
If I belong to a party, does my membership make me right?
If I rationalize without facts, can I proclaim truth?
Have we seen these behaviors play out in history? Perhaps.
The Crusades. Germany. Turn neighbor against neighbor,
religious sects in pious rebellion abandon values long held,
citizens dehumanize the immigrants, the disadvantaged, women.
Like Legos in a three-year-old’s hands, we are breaking apart.
I refuse to conform!
I have the power not to be evil or angry or hurt.
I will speak truth in a quiet voice, but I will speak!
Perhaps, someone will join me and two of us will be free of hate.
Awesome power. All I control is me.
He enters the kitchen,
his skin glistens and
the pungent smell of movement
pushed against the early morning greets me.
I am happy to see him.
He pulls me against his sweaty clothes,
so I fuss as he tightens his embrace –
a thoroughly pleasant ritual.
He gives me our subdivision’s farm report.
“I saw six Harvey* Juniors,
three squished toads
and one lizard entering our garage.”
I pat the stomach of my walking Buda
before he moves toward the shower.
Grand gestures inside a marriage are less
about flowers and candy than acknowledgement
as bare feet stand against worn walking shoes
on kitchen tile on an ordinary day.
Great men need not lead a charge or
command a Fortune Five-Hundred business.
Great men are aware,
count Harveys, toads and lizards,
recognize all joy is in the present.
*Harvey: the fictional rabbit friend of Jimmy Stewart in the movie Harvey.
KA DOORS—Ann’s 2016 Christmas Poem
[Ka (pronounced kah) is a spiritual entity believed to live within the body during life and to survive it after death. The ka and ba were spiritual entities everyone possessed.]
Egyptian mythology knew ba and ka,
and so do we who mind-wander
beside carved doors touching memories
as real as hieroglyphs in tombs.
Ka doors were false, opening only to the gods.
Weak-kneed and grieving, you held me up by the ka door more than once.
I am grateful for those of you who stayed, some for a lifetime.
My leaded glass door is hinged; “Come on by, y’all.”
If it is true that ka can be passed with a hug,
the Southern life suits enthusiasts willing their life force
into family, friends and kindred spirits.
Personal space exists for the lonely.
My west, front door is blue—fen shui incorrect.
Like the Irish rebels who refused to paint their doors black,
I love opening my blue door to my ka-hugging friends
who sing, laugh, love children, and live passionately.
New friends, I only have one rule in my home—
display good will or leave; the greatest betrayal is to be unkind.
Expressive, barefoot, and existentially relevant memories thrive in my NOW.
I chisel one hieroglyph in my ka door—thanks.
i can lie
in my head
on the silk
sheets of sound
i’m the sax
searched by hands
notes on fire
tongue on reed
speak to me
made to dance
and my ears
blue notes see
oh the force
of the rush
on the silk
sheets of sound
Poet, Ann Everett Hendrix
who I am and all I’ve known,
engraved experience on a fleshy pallet,
those bylines ᾽round my eyes
Ownership of and living happily with our aging process is existential. Either we have done our character homework over the years or we struggle to find joy and maintain relationships.
I have given this a great deal of thought with the political campaigns. Hillary Clinton was born 10-26-47 and Donald Trump on 6-14-46. They are not going to evolve into anything more than who they are. Character set. Game on. The best they have to offer us are their flamboyant examples of what happens to people who choose certain paths early in life and become exactly what they wanted to be. Goals accomplished. In the petri dish of life, we are viewing specimens who prove how set character is by this age.
I worked for a gerontologist years ago. He said the elderly are extremes—the happiest or saddest, angriest or kindest, most generous or stingiest, most judgmental or forgiving, absolutely honest or dishonest, loudest or softest, etc. When our beauty fades, intellect dulls a little, and the power afforded us by work or community involvement is lessened, all that is left is our personhood—the real us.
I have worried since my 20’s about who I was going to be as a grown-up at age 75 or 80. Some of my work has been successful and some of my character flaws were baked into my DNA. I’ve arrived at this senior status with gray hair and extra pounds—far from the 20-something in a bikini and shag haircut. I like this older me better.
My friends are present with wisdom, creativity and an interest in leaving the best world possible for the next generation. They understand we have two responsibilities: mentoring and expression.
The past cannot be rewritten. The future is short compared to where we were a couple decades ago.
Be joyful. It is good for who you are becoming.
Celebrate freedom of speech,
ideas spewed against the tide.
Frightening, strong, in defense of right,
or hateful and wrong—
schools of thought swimming
toward the light and
‘till persistence creates law.
If we follow a bully pufferfish,
democracy dies on poison spikes.
Feed the blue planet fugu—
love swallowed and hate discarded.