March 2018
Vol. VIII, No. 304

March 2018

False Spring & True

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring: As we await spring 2018, playwright and Reiki Master Helen Noakes leads off our months offerings with a meditation on what she is doing to counter The Current Great Unpleasantness in these United States. She writes: My family history informs my reactions. Because of our horrific losses, because of the many parents, children, and siblings we’d been helpless to save from the barbarism of religious and political fanatics, we never let go of our roots. We held fast to our cultural traditions to honor our dead, to celebrate our living, and to defy the monsters that our species sometimes spawns.” Poet/essayist Anita Sullivan follows, documenting an Escher-like encounter with a frog, or is it a leaf? Dr. Guy McPherson files a status quo post bellum from Belize; Dr. Skip Eisiminger offers (unusually for him) a poem, on the topic of light; Ross Konikoff continues the paean of love (and lust) he launched last month; Claire Bateman introduces poet Maryann Corbett; Alexander Billinis tells a tale of two Balkan brothers; William A. Balk, Jr. takes up, in his hands and in memory, a 16th-Century tea bowl; Diana Farr Louis revisits Eleusis, the site of The Mysteries, in a post from yesteryear; and your editor exits March like a lamb with a prose epithalamium to her happy-enough marriage.

On this small blue planet, we are one. (Image from Popular Science)

On this small blue planet, we are one.

Waking Point

“Didn’t You Know . . .By Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—March 2018—“Didn’t you know that everything you learn, and everything you suffer will come in useful at some point in your life?” So says one of Penelope Fitzgerald’s characters in Offshore. The quote came to mind as I watched, briefly, a newscaster report on the latest series of outrageous behaviors from our political denizens. I must emphasize that “briefly,” because I can no longer tolerate the stench of corruption, the nausea-inducing treachery of sycophants who encourage it, and the tolerance of blatant lies spewed by our so-called leaders. (Read more . . .)

Either frog or leaf (or both).

Either frog or leaf (or both).

On The Other Hand

“Peaking Out on Cognitive Dissonance,” By Anita Sullivan

EUGENE Oregon—(Weekly Hubris)—March 2018—Do you remember that scene in the film of Tom Stoppards play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” where R and G are playing tennis to while away the time when theyre not on stage in the ongoing Hamlet tragedy—and one of them accidentally calls the other one by name? “Hey, Guildenstern!” he says (or Rosencrantz, I dont remember). Suddenly, they both freeze. “Did you hear that?” says one. Because these guys are so generic they dont even know their own names. They move through the play like a wind-up toy of two dolls dancing together, neither of them able to move without the other. Suddenly, Bing! they each have ownership of their separate selves. Enter existential angst; enter the third dimension, consciousness, and that entire shop of horrors that goes with being fully human. (Read more . . .)

Earth post us.

Earth post us.

Going Dark

“Only Love Remains,” By Guy McPherson

SAN ANTONIO Belize—(Weekly Hubris)—March 2018—Most people would say I’m not religious. I’m not spiritually religious, although I exhibit a few behaviors of a religious nature. I refer to myself as a free-thinker, a skeptic and, occasionally, an indifferent agnostic or a militant anti-atheist. So the apparently spiritual title of this essay would seem out of character to those who know me well. I’ll not wander down the road of “knowing.” Even after five decades of study, much of it characterized by the serious introspection allowed those who pursue the life of the mind in the halls of academia, I barely know myself. And I know too little about love. But I’m pretty certain it’s all we have. (Read more . . .)

“Starry Night on the Rhone,” by Vincent van Gogh, 1888 (Musée d'Orsay).

“Starry Night on the Rhone,” by Vincent van Gogh.

Skip the B.S.

“Light: An Appreciation,” By Skip Eisiminger

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—March 2018—Light is born/
but never dies,/it ages/yet never changes,/it shimmers unseen/above violet and below red,/it unfolds over an arc/and reknits without gold,/it travels among spheres/where the music has stopped,/it enables all vision/as it sears the eye,/it’s the scalpel/for the callus it creates,/it has no mass/yet fills a starship’s sails,/it has no weight/but is curved by mass,/it travels forever/unless drawn down a hole,/it reads on the porch/as it blocks the stars,/it’s the tungsten of reason/and the off-switch of despair,/it careens at the same speed/off firefly or fear . . . . (Read more . . .)

“I had it bad. This was the first one I was willing to play house with.”

“I had it bad. This was the first one I was willing to play house with.”

West Side Stories

“Love on East 13th Street: II, The Pursuit,” By Ross Konikoff

MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—March 2018—I was at my best that night, hitting on all eight. I can’t say when the fireworks ended but, when I opened my eyes, the sun was blazing through the window, and she was still there, all tangled up in the bedding. One of everything she had two of was uncovered. The room was perfectly still, as if the universe had stopped. Then she started moving in the way you do when you’re about to open your eyes. I closed mine. I’d still be asleep so she could slither out of bed, grab her things, and breeze off, just in case she had regrets. When I felt her hand on my arm, I woke up. We looked at each other for a while, and then I reached down to untangle her from the sheets. She worked with me, awkwardly twisting and turning until all was laid bare, refusing to recoil in modesty like some might. Instead, she stretched out in all directions, the sunlight dancing over her skin like gold dust in the wind. I got busy memorizing every magnificent curve. (Read more . . .)

Poet Maryann Corbett. (Photo: Mims Photography.)

Poet Maryann Corbett. (Photo: Mims Photography.)

Speculative Friction

“The Art Student’s Mother Thinks Out Loud,” By Maryann Corbett

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—March 2018—Poet Maryann Corbett was born in Washington DC, grew up in McLean, Virginia, and has lived in Minnesota since 1972 and in Saint Paul since 1986. Trained as a medievalist and linguist, she earned a doctorate in English from the University of Minnesota and spent almost 35 years working for the Minnesota Legislature as an in-house writing teacher, editor, and indexer. Her poetry is widely published and has won such awards as the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and the Richard Wilbur Award. She is the author of Street View (Able Muse Press, 2017), and three previous books of poetry: Breath Control (David Robert Books), Credo for the Checkout Line in Winter (Able Muse Press), and Mid Evil(University of Evansville Press), as well as the chapbooks Gardening in a Time of War and Dissonance. (Read more . . .)

The Brothers Manakis, Yannakis and Miltos.

The Brothers Manakis, Yannakis and Miltos.

Roaming East Roman

“The Brothers Macedonian,” By Alexander Billinis

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—March 2018—A centuries-old conflict in a region known for discord has returned, once again, to the headlines. The so-called Macedonian Question—in this case, most specifically, what name to assign to this former Yugoslav republic—is back in many of our news feeds. I have written extensively about this issue over the past two decades and, rather than add my own two drachmas on this matter here (I have said plenty elsewhere over the years) I would rather tell the story of two Macedonian brothers that might provide a common—and contrasting—history to the blacks and whites thrown around by advocates on all sides. It is easy to harken back to a nostalgic past, which was usually not particularly idyllic. Allow me just a little bit of a rewind to set the scene. I will not, as most Greeks seem to prefer, return to the Age of Alexander the Great to score Hellenic (and Hellenistic) points for Macedonia’s Greekness. (Read more . . .)

Tea Ceremony, 1895. 

Tea Ceremony, 1895.

Epicurus’ Porch

“Feet of Clay,” By William A. Balk, Jr.

ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—March 2017—To discover that your adored long-time hero has turned out not to be the paragon you always thought her to be is one thing. It’s quite another to find out, accidentally, that your most cherished piece of pottery has feet of clay. But I’m getting ahead of the story. Try to name the greatest work of art in a cosmopolitan city such as Washington, DC. The city is full of museums built around breathtaking collections of art, and there are more than a few private collections which contain treasures as fine as those in the museums. It’s unlikely that you would name as your choice a small, chipped, irregular, blackened bowl with a bit of dried tea in the bottom. (Read more . . .)

The Eleusis Museum’s terrace and view.

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge

“A Halcyon Day in Elefsina, Revisited,” By Diana Farr Louis

ATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—March 2018—We’d left our flat in the northern suburbs wearing three layers of woollies. The sun was shining through wispy clouds but looked as though it might have teeth, and we had been chilly inside since central heating has become a luxury reserved for when the mercury drops to zero. Our destination? The ancient site of Eleusis, known to modern Greeks as Elefsina, for Sunday lunch. Twenty years ago, such a proposition would have raised eyebrows in disbelief. Elefsina was an industrial horror, a no man’s land shrouded in smog from refineries, steel works, and cement plants that you smelled rather than saw as you drove by on the way to Corinth. (Read more . . .)

The man cracks wise; I laugh.

The man cracks wise; I laugh.

By Way of Being

“Happily (-Enough) Ever After,By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

PENDLETON South Carolina(Weekly Hubris)—March 2018—Of late, I find I have been turned to, willy-nilly, as a role model in all things marital which, if you know anything about my actual progress through the House of Love, is somewhat risible. Be that as it may, younger, single women friends ask me these days such questions as, “How did you know your spouse was the one?” and “What’s the secret of your marriage?” and “How am I ever going to find someone like your husband, only younger and with more hair?” (I’m kidding, Dean; I’m kidding.) These queries make a change from (in the past) “How in God’s name did you manage to marry two gay men?” and “Why did you stay, even a week, with someone who punched you?” and (this, from a Prime Minister’s ex-wife) “How do you always have a presentable man at your side?”* (Read more . . .)

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