Paragraphs : Francis

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I am born to die . I write an endless country . It is the year 2015 and until yesterday I had followed that summer day of 1983 , the day when love found me , into a muggy silence . A silence like the poems of Ahmed Matar , banned by the Muslim world , seeking freedom and looking for the promised land , throats covered by thorns . That morning , the man I was married too , returning from his 60 hour a week night job , walked in the side door as usual , fell into the bed I had just risen from where dreams lingered and my babies whimpering still echoed , erasing both , and me , with his rancid body odor of sour milk . I opened all the windows , shutting the bedroom door . ” You are a God of seeing ” ( Genesis 16:13 ) . Nineteen eighty three , it was the year a terrible storm cut short a free concert in New York Cities Central Park , the same year Kiss appeared on MTV unmasked and the year of amazingly beautiful light flashes seen on Jupiters’ moon , Io .  I sat on the front stoop listening to the birds first chirpings when he walked towards me , a stranger , a neighbor from around the corner who I had never spoken too , walking smooth like flowing black lava escaping , something rupturing my senses , something quenching an awareness of the famine  of my married days , days of pulsing flames laid bare by visions of the Mermaid Cafe near the Caves of Matala , Crete that I only saw on the pages of the National Geographic . And so it was , it was this day , this certain day after the rains when he approached that I suddenly inhaled the wind thru the giant Oak tree in our front yard on Jefferson Street , the 800 block that had been my entire world . He sat on the warm brick as my little boys splashed in the walkway puddle . In peering at the sky out of shyness , I caught a glimpse of the treasure hunter holding open the sky of majestic language where Solomon sprinkles both saints and sinners with hyssop . And in that single moment , it all began . Beginning with a lonely abduction from unhappiness into shame , soundlessly along the fog line , the white line painted on the outside edge of the freeway where morning stars sing without a care for the darkness of night . The mist of August summing up the whole world . I heard the Oracle of Delphi , ” know thy self ” as a turbaned man sitting outside Hotel Kahn drinks dark tea from across the divide . I could hear the sound of seeds falling into the rabbits cage and my father asking , ” don’t we have to eat , we didn’t die yet “. The fish in Lake Michigan slumber , the Ojibwa arrow spins , smoking immense thru the landscape . It is a moving world . The wind feels insane flying my hair as he looks at me , ” hi , I know your Francie , my friend told me …I’m William “. The antennae on the nearest tower receives and transmits from Voyager 1 , ” there is never any going back “. My silence of 32 years has been drunk on the memory , wanting mercy . And in this waiting , my story begins as my own soul drifts into my view . I ask , how could it possibly help to plant a lie in the middle of my life ? If someone loves you so much you really like how they smell . I saw the flaming sky soon to burn my spirit to transformation but not before wrath , destruction and sorrow pierced its weeping wound into a strange birth . I write a death march down these pages , a long , lone dark black line .

” oh let the sun beat down upon my face

stars to fill my dream

i am a traveler of both time and space

to be where I have been ”

Robert Plant , Led Zeppelin : ” Kashmir ”

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Credits : first two photos by Denise Thomasin Photography

end photo by David Talley Photography

Beatitude Point . . . Prologue . . .

Alas , it is only now , after posting excerpts from four chapters , that I’ve written this prologue .

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Five years previous to Dave , Chris , Buzz and Dales sailing trip from the Great Lakes of Michigan to the Bahamas , Chris’ mother dies – he is only 14 years old . After reading his journal , I hear his mother calling out like a planetary song , to her beloved son from eternities realm thru these passionate lyrics of Bob Dylan’s . Dale and Chris drown together in Florida , five months into their dreams . Beatitude Point is the adventure story of four young men , friends , crew mates , united with the gleam of innocence still wet on their brow in the tumultuous year of 1972 , united strong on a journey still continuing over the galactic mysteries of the vast and mighty sea .

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A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan

 

Oh , where have you been , my blue-eyed son ?

And where have you been my darling young one ?

I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains

I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways

I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests

I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans

I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard

And it’s hard , it’s hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

Oh , what did you see my blue eyed son ?

And what did you see my darling young one ?

I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it

I saw a highway with diamonds with nobody on it

I saw a black branch with blood that kept dripping

I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’

I saw a white ladder all covered with water

I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken

I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children

And it’s hard , it’s a hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

And what did you hear my blue-eyed son ?

And what did you hear my darling young one ?

I heard the sound of the thunder that roared out a warnin’

I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world

I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’

I heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’

I heard one person starve , I heard many people laughin’

Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter

Heard the sound of a clown who died in the alley

And it’s hard , it’s a hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

Oh what did you meet my blue-eyed son ?

Who did you meet my darling young one ?

I met a young child beside a dead pony

I met a white man who walked a black dog

I met a young woman whose body was burning

I met a young girl , she gave me a rainbow

I met one man who was wounded in love

I met another man who was wounded in hatred

And it’s a hard , it’s a hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

And what’ll you do now , my blue-eyed son ?

And what’ll you do now , my darling young one ?

I’m a-goin’ back out before the rain starts a-fallin

I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest

Where the people are a-many and their hands are all empty

Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters

Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison

And the executioners face is always well hidden

Where hunger is ugly , where souls are forgotten

Where black is the color , where none is the number

And I’ll tell and speak it and think it and breath it

And reflect from the mountains so all souls can see it

And I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin

But I’ll know my song well before I start singing

And it’s a hard , it’s a hard , it’s a hard , and it’s a hard

It’s a hard rains a-gonna fall .

 

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Dedicating in loving memory to Dale and Chris … Whose youth is their final episode .

 

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Painting by William Bouguereau … ” Pieta ”

Photos by Aela Labbe Photography

 

Whiter Shade of Pale

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British rock band , Procol Harum , released this mysteriously beautiful song in 1967 . It has been said that John Lennon was obsessed by it and many artists have re-recorded it including Percy Sledge , Joe Cocker , Annie Lennox , Eric Clapton , The Hollies and The Moody Blues . Some claim that the lyrics are derived from a 19th century ghost story and the melody from a Bach cantana . The lyrics below are from a rarely heard full version of the immortal “Whiter Shade of Pale”.

 

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We  skipped the light fandango

Turned cartwheels cross the floor

I was feeling kind of seasick

But the crowd called out for more

The room was humming harder

As the ceiling flew away

When we called out for another drink

And the waiter brought a tray .

 

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And so it was that later

As the miller told his tale

That her face , at first just ghostly ,

Turned a whiter shade of pale .

 

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She said , ” There is no reason

And the truth is plain to see “.

But I wandered thru my playing cards

And they would not let her be

One of sixteen vestal virgins

Who were leaving for the coast

And although my eyes were open wide

They might have just as well been closed .

 

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And so it was that later

As the miller told his tale

That her face , at first just ghostly ,

Turned a whiter shade of pale .

 

She said , ” I’m here on shore leave “.

Though we were miles at sea .

I pointed out this detail

And forced her to agree

Saying , ” You must be the mermaid

Who took King Neptune for a ride ” .

And she smiled at me so sweetly

That my anger straightway died .

 

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If music be the food of love

Than laughter is its queen

And likewise if behind is in front

Then dirt in truth is clean

My mouth by then like cardboard

Seemed to slip straight thru my head

So we crash-dived straightway quickly

And attacked the ocean bed .

 

And so it was that later

As the miller told his tale

That her face , at first just ghostly ,

Turned a whiter shade of pale .

 

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Taking a completely different direction than the one that has made me who I am , there is an uprooting into the deep powerful presence of life .  Like the snapping of a branch it transforms itself into music that I once again hear from the bee-keepers house that I’ve written of before . I stand like silent snow now listening to “Whiter Shade of Pale “. Who is he ? … I’ve never caught sight of him but the music is full volume and scratches like being played on an old record player . Perhaps that is his grandson who falls like a bird out of a tree and runs behind the gate . We share the same air as the melody drifts like the suspended step of the stork . A gold brocade shawl hangs over the doorway perhaps once worn during the reign of Catherine the Great by a village girl dancing to the music from the flute and accordion and goat skinned bagpipes … the ghost from a Whiter Shade of Pale ? It is all so strange like a blue valentine on a February day .  Is it a wish , a dream nostalgic to stand again at that time where life opens to us ? … feather like in its freedom and heavy in its uncertainty . White is the color of this day , white is the color of that cloud moving like beautiful notes , white is the color of a life revealed in a brand new light , a brand new melody …. the ghost of a world .

 

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Photo above of my grand daughter Jocelyn

other photos by Aela Labbe

sculpture by Christina Bothwell