Tuesday, October 24, 2017

!Happy Halloween!

Sunday night I went to a screening of The Exorcist at Church & State. Before the film began a bloke with an Irish brogue told us the story of Stingy Jack. I found it entertaining and so I am sharing it here.

The Tale of Stingy Jack and the Jack O' Lantern

Jack O'Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History. Many of the stories, center round Stingy Jack. Here's the most popular story:

Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who took pleasure in playing tricks on just about everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. After the Devil climbed up the tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. Unable to touch a cross, the Devil was stuck in the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses, and the Devil climbed down out of the apple tree.

Many years later, Jack died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was mean and cruel, and had led a miserable, worthless life on earth. Stingy Jack was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell and the Devil. The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared . He had nowhere to go, but to wander about forever in the dark Netherworld between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave, as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell, to help Stingy Jack light his way. Jack had a Turnip with him. It was one of his favorite foods, and he always carried one with him. Jack hollowed out the Turnip, and placed the ember the Devil had given him, inside the turnip. From that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his "Jack O'Lantern".

On all Hallow's eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. These were the original Jack O'Lanterns. In the 1800's a couple of waves of Irish immigrants came to America. The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O'Lanterns.

The Irish brought the tradition of carving pumpkins into Jack O'Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O'Lantern was not a pumpkin. Pumpkins did not exist in Ireland. Ancient Celtic cultures in Ireland carved turnips on All Hallow's Eve, and placed an ember in them, to ward off evil spirits.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Church & State

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The increased police presence in the downtown area, due to Project Rio Grande, has me thinking about the first amendment. One could consider the circle with a star inside it, an endorsement by the state, of paganism/Wicca.

While the symbol worn by police officers (which represents protection), does not bother me personally; I'm mystified that those who claim separation of church state are not all over this display of a known pagan symbol, being adorned by law enforcement at all levels of government.

If I were to take myself seriously and remove all symbols of paganism from public life, my task would be endless. What I am advocating is tolerance of all symbols and means of expression, rather than removal of any.

Addressing a rumor I heard, even if it's true, learning about Islam in public school classrooms (under the guise of cultural studies) does not bother me; as long as other beliefs (including those of the predominant religion), can be discussed in the same way- as part of our history and culture.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Offbeat July Celebrations

July is a time of celebration. In the US July 4th commemorates the adoption of our nation's Declaration of Independence. Independence Day is celebrated with pyrotechnics, parades, and barbecues. There are some offbeat July holidays you may not be aware of such as, Sidewalk Egg Frying Day, also on July 4. Oatman, AZ has an annual solar frying contest.

In Utah we celebrate Pioneer Day on the 24th of July with parades, fireworks and rodeos. This day commemorates the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into Utah’s Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. Pioneer Day is also celebrated in many parts of Idaho, where it is commonly known as Celebration Day. Family reunions are popular on or around July 24.

In 1984 Ronald Reagan deemed July National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of this month National Ice Cream Day. Other offbeat holidays include July 1: National Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day July 2: World UFO Day July 6: International Kissing Day July 8: International Town Criers Day July 10: Teddy Bear Picnic Day July 11: Slurpee Day & World Population Day July 13: National French Fries Day July 14: National Nude Day & Bastille Day July 17: Yellow Pig Day July 19: National Flitch Day July 22: Doonerism Spay July 26: National Talk in an Elevator Day July 27: Bagpipe Appreciation Day July 29: National Lasagna Day

Monday, June 26, 2017

Father's Day Tribute

I tried to write a poem about fathers this month. But I think nobody says it better than David Gates. Everything I Own is perceived as a love song, and it is, it's about the love of a son for his father. Give it a read with fresh eyes.

You sheltered me from harm
Kept me warm, kept me warm
You gave my life to me
Set me free, set me free
The finest years I ever knew
Were all the years I had with you

And I would give anything I own
Give up my life, my heart, my home
I would give everything I own
Just to have you back again

You taught me how to love
What it's of, what it's of
You never said too much
But still you showed the way
And I knew from watching you
Nobody else could ever know
The part of me that can't let go

And I would give anything I own
Give up my life, my heart, my home
I would give everything I own
Just to have you back again

Is there someone you know
You're loving them so
But taking them all for granted
You may lose them one day
Someone takes them away
And they don't hear the words you long to say

Well I would give anything I own
Give up my life, my heart, my home
Yes I would give anything I own
Just to have you back again
Just to touch you once again

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


I've been here many times to hear
the water roar as it falls down down
a cement wall along its way.

A place to rest a moment from pedaling
and snap a photo or two. Watch a gaggle
of geese become a skein.

We like the sound of water, some say
because long ago our ancestors emerged
from primordial soup.

We needn't go back that far
to understand why the splashing of water
makes us feel closer to something.

Were we not, all, in our beginning 98% fluid
and just 2% salt and cells? Water from our
mother's body protecting and cajoling us.

She hummed and talked to me.
Whilst I kicked and stomped away the hours.
A place to rest and hear the sound of water.

Saturday, April 1, 2017


(In honor of April being Parkinson's Awareness Month & National Poetry Month I am sharing this poem and remembering, my uncle, who lived and died with Parkinson's Disease)

Can you imagine, what it must be like

Can’t look over your shoulder

You’ll fall off your bike !

When things don’t match up straight

And nothing’s quite right

And this isn’t sometimes

It’s all day and all night.

Your cuff links fight back

It can take half an hour

And your muscles get locked, using up all their power

You’ve no concentration

So don’t get much done

And you tire out easily when you have fun

Some people will help you and that can be sweet

But it’s strange when a lady will offer her seat

Do I now look that bad, am I really that old?

But it’s kind, so I sit down and do as I’m told

Can you imagine

Just try if you will

Being worried that you might forget the next pill

And if you forget will it be all that bad

But if you take two, do you really go mad?

Next time you see someone

Out on the street

A little bit legless and shuffling feet

Before you say “drunk!” consider this please

You might just be looking at Parki’s disease

~Tim Vickers

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What is Poetry?

Is what I'm writing poetry,
Because I say, straight up
Coitus thee!

Or is my message understood
Only if it's shrouded in

Is it only poetry if I force
The rhyme or
Have degrees?

What makes you
Keep reading?
I want to know.

Everything I read
Makes me more
Critic than writer.

My internal editor
Refuses to take flight
When papyrus meets graphite.

Maybe we're not mean to
Erase and pretend mistakes
Weren't made.

They serve as proof
We're writing
Regardless of prizes or accolades.