April 2024
Vol. XIV, No. 4

April 2024

For F. Theresa Gillard & Tim Bayer

“Trefalen,” “Held,” and “Ascend,” Watercolor, Found Texture & Digital, 2023, by Owen Gent.
“Trefalen,” “Held,” and “Ascend,” Watercolor, Found Texture & Digital, 2023, by Owen Gent.

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”―George Orwell, 1946

I can’t be frustrated with you because you’re stupid but I can be mad at you because you’re evil.―Rachel Maddow, 2009 

From the Publishing-Editor: April’s Hubris opens with a piece Michael Tallon wrote about Joe Biden (and, incidentally, “The Irish Rover”) back in 2021: his words need repeating in 2024. Hubris readers, please, please read Michael’s column to the very end in order to see and hear him read one of his own poems, “Of God, the Publican, I Beg.” (Such columns, such poems, are why I keep plugging away here at Hubris.)  Puzzlemeister-cum-Humanist-Magpie Dr. Skip Eisiminger, aka The Wordspinner, follows, with a personal meditation on war, pacifism, and his many decades of observing men-at-arms. Hubris’s Poetry Editor, Claire Bateman, shares in April the work of poets Wendy McVicker and Cathy Cultes Lentes. Essayist/Yogini Kathryn E. Livingston, author of Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman’s Quest for Balance, Strength, and Inner Peace, writes of family, fear, and passing along only the gravy. Climate scientist Dr. Guy McPherson then butts heads, if gently, with late, great comedian George Carlin. And we close with a reprise of a piece our Philhellenic Food Writer Diana Farr Louis first filed in 2022, to celebrate her half century of life and love on Greek soil: 52 years are even finer than 50! Note: For the rest of the summer, and perhaps far longer, Hubris’s Publishing Editor, Elizabeth Boleman-Herring will be on forced sabbatical from keyboarding while undergoing hand surgeries necessitated by something called Rapidly Progressing Erosive Arthritis. She hopes her readers . . . will abide.

Weekly Hubris home page detail by Owen Gent
“An Unkindness,” Watercolor, Found Texture & Digital, 2023, by Owen Gent.

About Owen Gent, the Home Page Artist for the March and April  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.)

Tallon-President Joe Biden with Pope Francis.
President Joe Biden with Pope Francis.

Fairly Unbalanced

Joe Biden: A Good Works Catholic,” By Michael Tallon

ANTIGUA Guatemala—(Hubris)—April 2024—The elemental construct of the post-Trumpian world is now before us, and the contrasts are stark: We Democrats wish to govern and to make life better for the vast majority of people, so as to justify the continuation of our hegemony. Republicans, on the other hand, hope to stoke a culture war of sufficient volatility so that—once their dark messiah returns from the fetid swamplands—he can ride the prevailing political winds and return them to positions of authority. Only time will tell which strategy will find purchase with the electorate. There is another front to this war, too. To wit: Who will be allowed to participate in the political process in the first place. Republicans wish to limit the franchise, to maximize their chances of success. Democrats wish to ease restrictions on voting, so as to maximize theirs. (Read more . . .)

Home for Christmas, 1944. (Photo: Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Overseas Operations Branch.)
Home for Christmas, 1944.

Skip the B.S.

The Loin & The Limb: Peace,” By Dr. Skip Eisiminger

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Hubris)—April 2024—Browsing a file folder of family photographs my aunt Clarice had left me, I came across two that I found unforgettable. I pulled these two out and assembled a small, translucent diptych which now occupies a prominent place in my study. The left half consists of a picture taken on the day my father left Camp Gordon, Georgia for the war in Germany. Major Eisiminger is in full combat gear, and I’m standing beside him with a thumb in my mouth wearing his helmet liner. I’m almost three years old and most likely have no idea what is happening. I certainly have no memory of it. On the back of this photograph, Mother wrote, “October 22, 1944, Daddy and Skipper [me], my world.” Five days later, she wrote on the same picture, “Oct. 27, 1944, I’m sick. I just sold the rattler [our old car].” (Read more . . .)

Poets Cathy Cultice Lentes & Wendy McVicker. (Photo: Lynette Peck). 
Poets Cathy Cultice Lentes & Wendy McVicker.

Speculative Friction

The Poetry of Wendy McVicker & Cathy Cultice Lentes,” By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Hubris)—April 2023—Wendy McVicker, 2020-2022 Poet Laureate of Athens, Ohio, is a longtime Ohio Arts Council teaching artist. Her books include Zero, a Door (2021), Sliced Dark (a collaboration with visual artist John McVicker, 2019) and The Dancer’s Notes (2015). She loves collaborating with other artists and performs with instrumentalist Emily Prince under the name another language altogether whenever she gets the chance. Stronger When We Touch is her first full-length collaboration with another poet. Cathy Cultice Lentes recently retired from teaching and working with students with disabilities as part of the Special Education/Psychology team in Meigs County, Ohio. In 2016, she published a poetry chapbook, Getting the Mail (Finishing Line Press). In addition to poetry, Lentes writes creative nonfiction and a variety of works for children. She earned her MFA in Writing for Young People from the Solstice Program in 2013 (Read more . . .)

Virginia and “Brother,” c. 1925.
Virginia and “Brother,” c. 1925.

Words & Wonder

“Pass the Gravy, Please,” By Kathryn E. Livingston

BOGOTA New Jersey—(Hubris)—April 2024—Back in the day, my parents were always warning about calamities and tragedies waiting to happen if I didn’t look both ways when I crossed the street; if they weren’t vigilant and we had fish for supper there was a good chance I’d choke on a bone.  If I went outside without mittens (frostbite, for sure), or got in a boat without a life preserver, or developed a cough, certainly my demise was near. I ended up mocking them (not to their faces, at least not until my teen years) as they’d screech, “Be careful!” every time our screen door slammed behind me. Laughing about their fear was one way of dealing with it. But it didn’t explain their anxiety, and I never really made much of an effort to understand it, that is, until this morning.  I woke up today thinking about my Uncle Ray, who had been a bombardier in the Army Air Forces during World War Two. (Read more . . .)

George Carlin, 1975. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Little David Records.) 
Comedian George Carlin, 1975.

Planetary Hospice

“As We Go, So Goes Earth,” By Dr. Guy McPherson

BELLOWS FALLS Vermont—(Hubris)—April 2024—You may perhaps be familiar with comedian George Carlin’s routine, The Planet is Fine, a piece which is brought to my attention at least once a week. In it, Carlin’s main point is that the planet isn’t going anywhere; we are. He implies that Earth isn’t on its last metaphorical legs; rather, it’s our species that’s going extinct—an event that will have little or no impact on non-human organisms. Today’s short Hubris essay addresses (and shoots down) Carlin’s thesis. (Spoiler Alert: I will probably refer to it in response to the many ignorant messages I receive, day to day.) And, just to be clear, I am not claiming that ignorance is a universally bad state of affairs. After all, we are all ignorant about many things. I am ignorant about many things, a reality I attempt to modify, by learning stuff, on a daily basis. (Read more . . .)

The author on Patmos, summer 1972, starting to explore Greece. 
The author on Patmos, summer 1972.

Eating Well Is the Best Revenge

“Homage to a Philhellenic Anniversary,” By Diana Farr Louis

ATHENS Greece—(Hubris)—April 2024—(Editor’s Note: This column first ran in Hubris in June 2022.) By the time you read this, I will be drinking a glass of champagne—not retsina—to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my arrival in Greece as a permanent resident. Looking back over all that has happened since the 4th of June, 1972, it seems I was extraordinarily fortunate in that roll of the dice that sent me here. It didn’t look like it at the time, since the whole chain of events started with a near fatal car accident that landed me in the Mass General Hospital a week after graduation from high school, instead of Radcliffe College that September. But if everything had gone according to plan, and I’d enjoyed a summer of deb parties and four years of normal college, cossetted by the companionship of girls and boys I already knew, I would never have met the first-year, half-Greek Cliffie who invited me to “her island” the summer that I graduated, a year later than originally scheduled. (Read more . . .)

Our March 2024 Issue

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 . . .)

Toon by 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 . . .)

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