Tuesday, February 5, 2008

When I Am a Grownup I Will Do Something- Excerpt from short story from "Looking Back"

Looking Back, an Anthology by Kay Kennedy that features stories from the 1940s forward, is a unique view of history-- through the lens of the contributors who lived those stories and who watched history unfold. Some knew they were watching history being made and some only learned it in retrospect and upon reflection.

My contribution was a short story......... When I Am a Grownup I Will Do Something-- a recounting of my work as an Executive Officer with Sister Cities building Russian-American medical, educational and social exchanges, that chronicles my trip to Siberia to build social infrastructure for a local decommissioning facility for weapons of mass destruction as the writer and administrator of a grant from USAID (United States Agency for International Development.)

Two of my poems also appear in Looking Back......... The Wall: Viet Nam War Memorial; Missle Silo in North Dakota

Here is one...


Lonely, cold, deserted,
empty road goes nowhere
through empty fields
some farmer’s land
leased for doom,
the nearest house
ten miles away.

We stop the car
near frosty wheat fields
golden in summer,
Dakota glory—
barren now
like this feeling
in my belly.

Eerie silence
surrounds a chain-link fence,
narrow access lane
parts frozen earth,
leads to cold gray steel
fifty yards from sanity.

I wrap my courage round me,
pull tight my coat
as if I could keep out this cold
or the fear.
Tell my friend to wait,
must do this alone.

Take a step toward ominous,
this inconceivable object
from inconceivable minds.
There is nothing human here,
only icy wind that shrieks
monuments to failure.

Chain-link security,
barbed wire madness,
locks a dome-like structure,
cold-steel-nightmare under ground,
one of countless others
poised to kill half a planet—
people without faces,
humans without names.

I try to rein an insane mind
that begins to wander
toward the unthinkable.
Imagination not in check
replays archival footage,
rears a metal monster
from this darkened hole
that must end close to hell.

An unfamiliar feeling
shakes my body violent
not from cold
or Dakota winters.
My hand reaches toward the sky
as if one hand could stop it
pull it back to earth
or muffle the rising scream.

For a copy of the book see... http://boomersrememberhistory.blogspot.com/

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A few Thoughts...

When I think about it, my own life is no less rich and the living no less inspiring than my pioneering ancestors and I come from a long line of Indians and outlaws so don't ever turn your back on me!

Life is, after all, a slice of human consciousness lived from its place in human evolution. "From here to eternity" as it were-- from earth to the stars, from personal space to cyberspace, from a small local footprint to the world reduced to the size of a notebook and sitting on your lap!

As a child I lived with the perpetual and immenent threat of annihilation. That's child abuse! It wasn't a kid-friendly world and I couldn't understand why the grown-ups who were in charge weren't doing something?

So at age seven with my face in the window eyes turned up into the night sky and staring at the stars I made a vow: "When I am a grown-up, I will do something."

My writing is that something and I write to "simply change the world." If that sounds like a lack of humility it isn't because I know that one person absolutely can change the world and I've met some who have.

Kay Kennedy put together an anthology that puts the reader in the midst of history to view it from the inside out.

When I was in high school and even college, history classes were stale and boring featuring memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no human face, certainly no magic, and no life!

Anthologies are great fun and stores are rich remembrances. History books chronicle; stories are little narrative slices of living. History comes alive through story. I often think of my grandmother and her story, her life-- the history she lived. In her lifetime she saw humankind evolve from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

I was a sixties kid and for the youth of the sixties, turmoil, disillusionment, and revolution were everyday 'business as usual'. Like a radio perpetually on low volume, fear and death dronned on in the background. The superpowers threatened to extinguish all life on the planet, the Vietnam War was escalating and peers were being escorted home under American Flag blankets. The civil rights and equal rights movements were testing human civility, and faster than one could recover from one shock another real life hero would fall to yet another assassin. Despair was commonplace. Contrast that with a man on the moon... we could conquer space travel but couldn't make nukes or war obsolete! It was a time when youth needed hope because hope was scarce. When it was finally resurrected, it came in the form of idealism and a philosophy of brotherly and universal love. Perfect principles; imperfect execution.

For others who contributed to "Looking Back," the history is different for each because the "times" were different as well as the perspective of the individuals. The stories of human societal evolution are enlightening, heartwarming, poignant and spellbinding. They put a human face on the past.

And there are people now who are putting a face on the future...