Home

March 2024
Vol. XIV, No. 3

March 2024

“Displace No. 1,” Watercolor, Found Texture & Digital, 2023 ,” by Owen Gent.
“Displace No. 1,” Watercolor, Found Texture & Digital, 2023 ,” by Owen Gent.

“I thought the secret of life was obvious: be here now, love as if your whole life depended on it, find your life’s work, and try to get hold of a giant panda.”―Anne Lamott

From the Publishing-Editor: Hubris opens this month with what Elizabeth Boleman-Herring hopes against hope is not a prophetic essay, Trump’s Taterhill Hat: Our Continuing, of Necessity, Un-Civil American War. (Still, when the American electorate tells you who they are, it does not pay to drink the hopium and think the presidential election of 2024 will be anything but another battle in this nation’s long-running war of  brother against brother.) Next, is (essential reading!) Frisbees, Graham’s Number & Statements of Faith, by the Reverend Robin White. Dr. Guy McPherson follows, contemplating abrupt Anthropocene climate collapse . . . while making a rare stab at humor.  Hubris’s Poetry Editor, Claire Bateman, shares with readers three poems by the author of Bone Willows, James Engelhardt. Essayist/Yogini Kathryn E. Livingston, author of Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman’s Quest for Balance, Strength, and Inner Peace, writes of her musical Life of Pi-ano. (We then re-share a 2012 essay by Anita Sullivan about her own life of pi-ano . . . minus all knitting.) Playwright Helen Noakes contributes Installment No. 4 of her Khartoum: A Recollection. Michael Tallon stops us all in our tracks for a moment to listen to Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs sing “Fast Car.” A portfolio of single-panel cartoons is up next, from Mark Addison Kershaw. And, in closing, our resident puzzlemeister/magpie, Dr. Skip Eisiminger, offers a compilation of parting shots, so we’ll let him have . . . the last word.

“Unwritten No. 1,” Watercolor, Found Texture & Digital, 2023, by Owen Gent.
“Unwritten No. 1,” Watercolor, Found Texture & Digital, 2023, by Owen Gent.

About Owen Gent, the Home Page Artist for our March, April and May 2024 issues of Hubris: Owen Gent is an artist and illustrator based in Bristol, England. Combining traditional painting techniques with a contemporary style, the tone of Gent’s work is subtle and human, using rich color palettes, depth and light, metaphor and figure to approach subjects with delicacy and empathy. Gent works on a wide range of projects from book cover design and editorial illustration to charity campaigns and children’s books with clients including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Penguin, The BBC, The Economist, New Scientist, Vogue, Amnesty International, TED, and many more. (Read more about the range of his work here.)  That’s Nice, Love, Owen’s first book for children, was published in 2022 by Book Island; his online Domestika course, Book Cover Design: Illustrate Stories with Evocative Images, is available now. Read a recent interview with Owen here; hear a recent podcast interview here; and follow Gent on Instagram. (To ask about prints or simply to say hello, email Gent at gentowen@yahoo.com.)

Former Confederate President Jefferson Davis, his family, and his servant pose for a portrait in Beauvoir, Mississippi. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)
The Jefferson Davis family, and a “servant.”

Hapax Legomenon

Trump’s Taterhill Hat: Our Continuing, Of Necessity, Un-Civil American War,By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Hubris)—March 2024—Blood has already been spilled in the second phase of the ongoing American Civil War. On January 6, 2021, many of us here in South Carolina were thinking back on April 12, 1861: the combatants’ uniforms were different, this time around, but the faces of “the Confederates” looked eerily familiar. They might have been my maternal cousins. I was living, briefly, in central Florida during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, and, at some point before Clinton won the Democratic primary, my eldest maternal first cousin phoned me from South Carolina. Edward (I’ll call him Edward) was born in Greer and has never lived anywhere else. I, on the other hand, for what it’s worth, have a fair number of canceled passports, from several countries. (Read more . . .)

Rev. Robin White, Presbyterian Church of Dover, Delaware, a decade after her ordination. 
Rev. Robin White, Presbyterian Church of Dover.

Wing + Prayer

Frisbees, Graham’s Number & My Statement of Faith,By Rev. Robin White

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Hubris)—March 2024—In 1986, as someone seeking ordination as minister of word and sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA), I was required to write a “Statement of Faith,” which I would need to present to a sub-committee of Donegal Presbytery and then to the entire Presbytery (made up of ordained ministers and elders in that particular geographical region of Pennsylvania) for approval. At the time, I was just 25, and even after three years of theological seminary, still very, very uncertain about what I believed. I was resistant to dogma and, quite honestly, hesitant to “define my faith,” knowing full well that whatever I believed on any given day, might and probably would be revised on the next. That I embodied a faith that was ever-changing was the one thing I could be certain of. (Read more . . .)

Pages from the notebooks of Edward Abbey. (Photo: University of Arizona Special Collections.)
From the notebooks of Edward Abbey.

Planetary Hospice

Killing While Dying,By Dr. Guy McPherson

BELLOWS FALLS Vermont—(Hubris)—March 2024—If you’ve been reading my columns in this space, then you know I write about unspeakably terrible topics. Primarily, I write about extinction. Extinction is the death of the last individual of a species. Writing about such a dire subject isn’t a lot of fun. I cannot imagine that reading my articles is much fun, either. On occasion, I try to squeeze a smile out of my readers, with varying degrees of success. I hope I’ll never be found guilty of causing people to die from laughter. I could not tolerate that kind of guilt. For over two decades, I taught courses at various colleges and universities. During this time, I was actually praised for my sense of humor. This is easy to imagine, if you’ve spent any time in a college classroom: most instructors and professors are many steps removed from hilarity. (Read more . . .)

Poet James Engelhardt. (Photo: Laura Leigh Morris.)
Poet James Engelhardt.

Speculative Friction

The Poetry of James Engelhardt,By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Hubris)—March 2024—Writes poet James Engelhardt: “Ecopoetry does share a space with science. One of the concerns of ecopoetry is non-human nature (it shares this concern with the critical apparatus it borrows from, ecocriticism). It certainly shares that concern with most of the world’s history of poetry: How can we connect with non-human nature that seems so much more, so much larger than ourselves? How can we understand it?” Engelhardt’s poems have appeared in the North American ReviewSheila-Na-GigChange SevenTerrain.orgBlack FoxFourth River, and many other places. His ecopoetry manifesto is titled “The Language Habitat,” and his book, Bone Willows, is available from Boreal Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press. (Read more . . .)

Duets with a neighborhood friend, c. 1961.
Duet with a friend, c. 1961.

Words & Wonder

Life of Pi-ano,By Kathryn E. Livingston

BOGOTA New Jersey—(Hubris)—March 2024—Some folks grow up around ponies, beaches, sailboats, rosary beads, or with an effusive auntie. I, on the other hand, grew up with and have always lived with pianos. I don’t know why, since neither of my parents were musicians (nor am I), but from birth until now (my elder years), I’ve always had a piano in my surroundings. My siblings and I don’t recall how it got there, but an upright Stroud piano has always resided in the Schenectady, NY home in which we were raised. Being a bit fanciful, I’ve long suspected that my life’s insistent piano theme had something to do with the fact that I would one day marry a musician; it’s my hunch that my familiarity with music (though not my proficiency), gave me a leg up when it came to my prospective spouse. (Read more . . .)

Sullivan March 2024 kneedlework
Oma strickt Strümpfe, by Sadarama.

On the Other Hand

On Not Having Been Taught to Knit,By Anita Sullivan

EUGENE Oregon—(Hubris)—March 2024—I’m listening to Grigory Sokolov play Bach’s “Art of the Fugue,” which is like being present at the Dawn of the World and, for some reason, I think about how I always wanted to learn to knit, and never did.

These two things must be related; otherwise why would such a thought come into my mind?

The music is made of glass, it catches in my throat today because of all the things it is not: it is not plastic, it is not greedy, it does not want me to give it any money—the word is gratuitous. And I am so relieved that I sag back into the pillows on the sofa and cry. The grooves in my soul from this piece that I’ve listened to about 25 times in the past year, demand to be let out of their cages (I know, grooves can’t be in cages).  (Read more . . .)

Tomb of Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah, the Mahdi, in Omdurman, Sudan. (Image: Sven-steffen arndt/Wikimedia Commons.)
Tomb of Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah, Omdurman, Sudan.

Waking Point

“Khartoum: A Recollection, Part 4,” By Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Hubris)— March 2024—Before dawn, the next morning, I was summoned to the hotel entrance by the driver hired to take me, the British contractor, and his wife to the Omdurman Souk. The driver, a young, lanky, easy-going Sudanese man who spoke English, greeted us politely, introduced himself as Bashir, and got behind the wheel. The contractor huffed, making it clear that he disapproved of the fact that the driver hadn’t opened the car doors for us, then ushered me and his silent, sullen wife into the back seat; he sat next to the driver in the front passenger seat. While the wife remained taciturn throughout our journey, her husband spoke, almost incessantly, about the shortcomings of the Sudanese, the terrible conditions in the country, and the hardships he and his wife had endured while staying at the hotel in “one little room.” (Read more . . .)

Tracy Chapman, 2009, Bruges, Belgium. (Photo: Hans Hillewaert/Wikimedia Commons.) 
Tracy Chapman, 2009, Bruges, Belgium.

Fairly Unbalanced

Back in Tracy Chapman & Luke Combs’ Fast Car,” By Michael Tallon

ANTIGUA Guatemala—(Hubris)—March 2024—Like many of you, I watched the Tracy Chapman/ Luke Combs duet from last month on the 2024 GRAMMYs and was powerfully and unexpectedly moved. Also, like many of you, I remember vividly how the song they performed—and Chapman—stood out in the spring of 1988, when the radio was blasting INXS, George Michael, and Terence Trent D’arby in a never-ending, power-pop loop. Chapman was just so different. So human and real. Tracy Chapman’s voice and talent felt—back then, and again in February—like a marble-smooth boulder somehow preexisting the river itself. There was all this stuff—all these gated drum tracks, borderline erotic videos, pyrotechnics—and then, suddenly . . . a woman with a voice and an acoustic guitar. (Read more . . .)

Addison-Uncomfortable
Toon by Addison.

Addison

“The Very Soul of Noble, Gentle Wit: Addison,” By Mark Addison Kershaw

ATLANTA Georgia—(Hubris)—March 2024—Last month, our February 2024 issue of Hubris was dedicated, in its entirety, to the single-panel cartooning of Mark Addison Kershaw, and if you scroll down our magazine’s current virtual Home Page, past our March 2024 offerings, you will come upon the seven February columns featuring portfolios of Addisonian work: so, if you missed seeing them last month, there’s still time. As someone who has all her life received an analog copy of The New Yorker every week, and whose usual custom is to flip through it locating all the single-panel cartoons before reading even the magazine’s Table of Contents, I can assure you that cartoons are the laugh’sblood of all literary and generalist publications—and yet cartooning is a dying art form. (Editorial and Political cartoons, now extinct in America, also once thrived and informed in the broadsheets, tabloids, and literary journals of the land, but that important, irreplaceable, bespoke genre of commentary, leavened by wit, has recently gone the way of the Oxford comma. (Read more . . .)

Wessel Freytag von Loringhoven suicide note. (Source: Mosbatho/Wikimedia Commons.)
Wessel Freytag von Loringhoven suicide note.

Skip the B.S.

Along the Oregon Trail: First & Last Words,By Dr. Skip Eisiminger

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Hubris)—March 2024—A psychology professor once told a class I was part of that “liminal statements” often have some memorable significance, poignancy, and/or humor, whether the speaker is arriving or departing. The examples she gave us were so moving that they convinced me to keep my own list for future reference. These now include a potential list of my own last words such as: “I hope what I just said isn’t ungrammatical—please excuse the double negative.” Or: “I have no idea what Joyce’s Finnegans Wake means; I never got past the first page. Truth be told, I never finished Moby Dick, either.” All kidding aside, as the light dims, the following eight-word sentence is what I’ve memorized to tell my German wife of six decades, “I apologize, my love, for leaving you alone.” If those words stick in my throat, my proposed exit line will be what the Germans call a “staircase joke,” a great line you wish you’d spoken as the door shuts behind you. (Read more . . .)

Our February 2024 Issue, aka The Cartoon Issue

Addison-Line Art
Cartoon by Addison.

Hapax Legoumenon

My Very Favorite Mark Addison Kershaw Cartoons,By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Hubris)—February 2024—I nag Mark Addison Kershaw. Every month. I nag all of Hubris’s Contributors, but I single Mark out for special attention. Because he makes me smile, always, and, many times, he makes me laugh. An aeon ago (in 2007, back when our daily demons seemed less numerous or toothsome), Stephen Colbert wrote: “Not living in fear is a great gift, because certainly these days we do it so much. And do you know what I like about comedy? You can’t laugh and be afraid at the same time—of anything. If you’re laughing, I defy you to be afraid.” (Read more . . .)

Kershaw hugger
Cartoon by Addison.

Addison

Hugging Was Enough For a While, but Then . . .By Mark Addison Kershaw

ATLANTA Georgia—(Hubris)—February 2024—This portfolio of black-and-white whimsies first appeared in Hubris in February 2019, and features a half dozen of Kershaw’s single-panel cartoons depicting trees (of which he has drawn many). As in the second toon below, trees harbor unexpected visions for our discerning Atlanta observer, and dryads invisible to hoi polloi. When Mark sends me a tree, it often echoes one of Shel Silverstein’s of yore: endlessly giving. (“Once there was a tree . . . and she loved a little boy. And every day the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest.”) But Mark’s trees also receive, have agency, and gumption: hugging’s no longer enough for them. They want more. (Read more . . .)

“My conscious is suspicious,” by Addison.
Cartoon by Addison.

Addison

A Brush with Life,By Mark Addison Kershaw

ATLANTA Georgia—(Hubris)—February 2024—I am a fortunate editor. Sooo fortunate. I get to publish (however widely I can, and however often) the work (cough)—work, I say!—of Mark Addison Kershaw! And, at my advanced age, I am no longer confined to one of those tiny little desks I once occupied at the University of Georgia’s Park Hall, where my English professors often asked me, in one class or another, to weigh in on Humor. On why things are funny to us. On why it is we laugh, and what makes us laugh. Well, “It is death,” I would say. “It is death that makes us laugh. Death, dismemberment, and things that go bump in the night.” As though I knew anything at all about it at my age back then. (Read more . . .

Kershaw trees
Cartoon by Addison.

Addison

“Amish Phone Sex?By Mark Addison Kershaw

ATLANTA Georgia—(Hubris)—February 2024—We’ve not seen hide nor hair of Mark Addison Kershaw, aka The Artist Known as Addison, since September 2020. He has been on Facebook, in his dual roles as Lockdown Cartoonist-at-Large and photographer-in-residence in less-and-less-wooded-and-birded ex-urban Atlanta, but we are very pleased to have him back here at Hubris, with or without a beard, having become (or most likely not) a cat, and participating in someone’s pandemic fantasies, in one guise or another (perhaps Amish?). If this is going to last, he need not morph into another sort of beast, but always remain (she hopes) one that can hold a pen in its paw. (Read more . . .)

Fix the mess in Washington.
Cartoon by Addison.

Addison

“The Pale Beyond,By Mark Addison Kershaw

ATLANTA Georgia—(Hubris)—February 2024—If you attend to Mark Addison Kershaw on Facebook, you will encounter a person of very little language, spoken or written, accompanied by a dog, enamored of a cat; someone who, even before the current plague, stuck pretty close to home. He comes armed with a pen (for drawing) and a camera (for preserving Georgia wildlife in situ), and infuses all he does and casts his eye upon with gentle (if sometimes a tad ribald) wit. His cast of characters is familiar; his familiars are familiar. But he stands at an angle to the pale; to the world or situation or predicament as perceived by . . . the rest of us. (Read more . . .)

Cartoon by Addison.

Addison

His Tail is So Damn Fluffy,By Mark Addison Kershaw

ATLANTA Georgia—(Hubris)—February 2024—In preparation for March 2020s themed issue on Woman/Women, I interviewed our resident cartoonist, asking him some pointed, if indeed pointless, questions about his (and our) subject matter. Elizabeth Boleman-Herring: How do you feel about women in general? Kershaw: I chanced upon a live woman once . . . in reality, not just online, and I remember walking away from that encounter thinking it was quite a pleasant experience. I hope someday to have another parley with one of these fascinating creatures, as it is my understanding they are becoming more frequently seen in the streets and countryside and seated in positions of prominence. (Read more . . .)

Cartoon by Addison.

Addison

Earthly Pleasures,By Mark Addison Kershaw

ATLANTA Georgia—(Hubris)—February 2024—Have I mentioned before that The Cartoonist Known as Addison and I have never actually met in person? I think our reluctance stems from the fact that, after all these years of working virtually hand-in-glove at Hubris, we’re now afraid to meet: so many expectations; so little hope of capturing in the analog the passionate love affair we have in the aether (as it were). Imagine Beauvoir in rural South Carolina, and Sartre in suburban Atlanta (or Calvin in Pendleton, and Hobbes in Buckhead). One of these days, we must rectify this situation, but, for the time being, here Addison is, penning whimsies for you, and here I am, blathering on about what an honor it is to publish them, never having met the man. (Read more . . .)

Disclaimer: Hubris is, properly speaking, a not-for-profit venture, edited and published on the web by a group of like-minded friends. The -zine is not a commercial enterprise, which means we have no budget, no coffers, no deep pockets; we run no ads; subscription is free of charge. We do our very best to attribute credit for works used, whenever and however we can, as well as to obtain permissions in advance for the use of materials, but we generate no income and copyright remains with our contributors in every instance. If any infringement of copyright occurs, it is unintentional, and we welcome your bringing it to our attention, but we cannot pay for use” of materials.