Southern Legitimacy Statement: The South is comprised of mesmerizing layers of contradiction: What people believe is true or not true. Who you choose to believe. And, what is actually true. In the end, perhaps it doesn’t matter. You find that in searching for the truth that nothing is intrinsically black or white. Like the color of a person’s skin. Even right and wrong becomes murky when seen through the lens of history or through the tangled syntax of memory. I have stood on Civil War battlefields and wondered where they buried the pack mules inadvertently killed in the bloody skirmishes. I have thought about the faint but possible legitimacy of The Conch Republic being formed by the “tongue-in-cheek” secession (mixed with genuine concerns) of Key West from the United States in April of 1982. As a Southerner, I fear that the South’s most deeply intractable contradiction is that it will always be mired in a sovereign state of mind.
Water I There are those who are born to water, to explore the oceans The Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians, Pacific Islanders, and the Norse Later, the Europeans pushing trade and colonial ambitions around the globe Those who fish the wild oceans and the big lakes The Coast Guard and the merchant seamen The aquanauts and oceanographers The fearless big wave surfing gods The water travel obsessed dreamers They all realize that they are at the whim of the fierce wind and treacherous currents That the will of God often dictates their fate on the earth’s mythic waters That their souls may become flotsam trailing in the oceans’ enduring currents I stand alone beside a glacial lake, reflecting on my life In these ancestral waters, I do not seek my reflection I see the world as I wish it could be Water II The M35 2 + 1/2 ton cargo truck was being used as an ambulance transport Taking wounded Syrian civilians to a makeshift medical relief center A bombed out building on a war ravaged street in the city of Aleppo It is almost impossible to imagine it now as the ancient World Heritage site it once was Ten years of war have resulted in unimaginable carnage with unquantifiable cruelty inflicted Still the carnage continues, more people become refugees, more people die each day Those who are fighting have no end game - the end may or may not be definable The ambulances bring a steady stream of maimed civilians in day and night Today, the bed of the cargo truck is filled with wounded and dying children Rudimentary care, with only the most basic medical supplies, provided by volunteers Save, with God’s grace and the blessing of Allah, those chosen to live a little longer The combat medics, using precious water, wash out the truck bed of the blood and gore And then carefully wipe away the remaining traces of young lives damaged and lost As they leave, I see their blood soaked boots and the unbearable pain in their eyes In Aleppo, there is no electricity, no artificial light In my ravaged Aleppo, I find that my soul is weary At night, God illuminates the heavens, signaling faith Each star a holy crypt for the souls of the lost children