Me and Mom. Oh how I miss her.

For my mom on Mother’s Day

       He remembers when he was two or three, sitting beside the woman as she read him a story. He can no longer remember the story, just the feeling of love and security that encased the experience and held it safe for him, like a golden strongbox in his warehouse of memories.
       Perhaps love is like a childbook story read once upon a time.
       He remembers mornings—not afternoons, for some reason—when, still too young for school, he would pile pillows upon pillows to build himself a palomino like Trigger. Countless mornings he would ride off into the Wild West of his childhood fantasies always knowing that lunch or a hug or a raisin cookie would be waiting at the end of the trail.
       Perhaps love is like the nightherder who calms his restless cattle with a song.
       He remembers one morning when his horse was a warm silver-painted radiator, which in mid-gallop grew suddenly hot and frightening. He can still see the child dismounting in panic and falling in such a way his leg became stuck between the coils. How strangely calm and unafraid his voice sounded as he called to her, “Mommy. Mommy.” He can still picture her running into the room and rescuing him, her fear and pain upsetting him far more than the burning flesh on his calf.
       Perhaps love is like a mirror where the one rescued fears more for the safety of the rescuer than his own.
       He remembers darker moments, as well. How she hated getting up in the mornings, and in consequence would allow some strange angry creature to take control of her body and mind. It never took long for the evil potion to wear off, when miraculously the other woman—the woman he loved—would return in time to make his lunch, give him an egg nog and send him off to school.
       Perhaps love is like the moon, always shifting from light to dark, and back again.
       He remembers the days of pain, when his father lay dying in their house. There were no boundaries for emotions then; his were hers and hers were his. The fear, the hurt, the giving and the taking, were all thrown into a communal pot and the only thing one could do was watch to see the brew didn’t spill over. It was then that they fought, not in words but through needs. And his need to spare her was never as resolute as hers to spare him.
       Perhaps love is like a desert flower that blooms with the slightest drop of moisture.
       He remembers so much that the images crowd his mind and fight for attention. Cub scouts, Hebrew school, weddings, picnics, summers in the mountains, family vacations, high school days trailing into college semesters. Boyhood passing into manhood. Motherhood drifting easily into grandmotherhood. Rites of passage for both as they traveled over the smooth and rocky terrain of their lives.

      But never did she stop being a mother. Not once would her own comfort or interests take precedence over those who she loved. And she loved no one more than she loved her children.

Perhaps love is like a mother hen that never stops pecking around her chickies.

      Looking back, he can see that Nature pulls the cub away from the lair to protect the mother and child, to free them from a bond so strong it could strangle the very life force it was meant to protect. And now, as the woman he loved for all those years lies still, as the mama he took for granted, who would love him like no one else on the planet ever would, has gone on to her final remove, he sits alone at the computer giving shape to images left behind after a lifetime of being loved by this woman. They are images filled with smiles and gifts and laughter and tears, tossed about like scattered playthings in a room held sacred in his heart. 
       And he thinks to himself, Perhaps love is like a lost child who, searching through the crowd, finally finds his mother.
       Then again, Perhaps love is like a mother.
       And lastly, Perhaps love is like my mother.

Thanks, Mom. You were the best!

AMAZING ADVENTURES IN AN UNSEEN WORLD, a review of “Souljourner” by Paul Steven Stone

Readers of Paul Steven Stone’s previous novel, “Or So It Seems,” will recognize many themes and eccentricities revisited to sophisticated and engaging purposes in “Souljourner.” Principal among them is the central Importance in both novels of each protagonist’s membership and life schooling in The Seekers For Truth, a school of self-development whose roots and bubbling font of wisdom go back to the tradition of ancient schools like that of Pythagoras, but whose spiritual understanding and practical perspectives can be traced to an eccentric, fully realized Hindu Holy Man whose honorific is The Bapucharya (but you can call him “Bapu”).

Souljourner’s spiritually-aware narrator is David Rockwood Worthington, whose life sentence for murder explains his presence in a Massachusetts prison, but leaves much unexplained as to how his life’s journey brought him to such a dismal fate. 

As David explains to his soul’s next incarnation, souls transit from one lifetime to the next in a grouping called a Karmic Pod. So an individual’s son in one life might become her mother in the next, one’s neighborhood priest might become a life-changing college professor in a subsequent incarnation, or your worst enemy could become your best friend. In David’s case, he is writing this letter to the next souljourner in his line to warn him against one specific hostile spirit. A spirit who travels with him from incarnation to incarnation with unflagging enmity and spite. A spirit incarnated in this current life as David’s second wife, Blossom, a Russian émigré who, once she secured her grip, squeezed the life out of David as if she were a serpent coiled around his existence.

David is able to warn the next incarnation of his soul through this letter—in the form of a novel—and expect it to reach its intended recipient because, as he explains, in this Karmically-controlled Universe we inhabit “everything is connected.” David only needs to set a strong enough intention for his warning to travel through time and space and eventually seek out his soul’s next souljourner. 

There is much more to this utterly unique and fantastic story, but I will only relate that Souljourner, like this book review itself, offers the reader a surprise ending. That is, assuming you would consider a book review written by a book’s author to be a surprise.


Trump’s Big Boy Rolls Into CPAC

As I watched CPAC convention workers roll in a life-sized golden statue of Donald J. Trump, I once again questioned how so many sane and sensible people could have closed their eyes to the events of the last four years and so eagerly swallowed the Trump Kool Aid? 

What is it they see that I cannot see? Why would a majority of those in attendance favor Trump for Republican presidential candidate in 2024? How can they so easily forget a Covid-19 death toll that saw hundreds of thousands of unnecessary American deaths? Or a foreign policy that embraced Vladimir Putin and Kim Jung Un at the expense of our best and most important allies? 

How can they forget the bottomless fount of lies with which the man drowned out the truth, and those voices that would speak the truth? 

And, more than anything, how can they forget—or forgive—Donald J Trump’s refusal to accept his election loss, and his ensuing attempt at the first coup d’etat in American history?

There is much Donald J. Trump has done for our country, I will admit that. I look upon our 45th president as a test pilot of sorts, the man we called upon to test our nation’s most important institutions to help identify its cracks, stress points and unmanifest weaknesses. Flaws that, if left undiscovered, could easily lead to system failure or total implosion under the rule of someone just like Donald J. Trump. 

Or someone worse. If that’s possible.

Now, thanks to Donald J. Trump, we know our democracy is more fragile than we ever thought. Its treasured institutions more subject to abuse and desecration than we ever believed possible. 

Yes, the founders’ vision remains intact, but at what cost? Their much-debated safeguards and power balancing act have proven a poor defense to an autocrat who holds a majority in the Senate. An autocrat with the political power of a demagogue and the non-existent conscience of a snake oil salesman. Yes, the Constitution still stands, even after Trump, but how close did we come to its collapse? 

How close did we come to a successful coup d’etat on January 6, 2021? How many more Republican lawmakers would the coup have required to successfully reject the certified and court-tested results of the 2020 election? How many more armed rioters would Trump’s coup have needed to more quickly breach the capital and thus more successfully catch or kill the leaders of our government? 

How much more vulnerable would our armed forces have been to being commandeered for a coup had Trump not signaled his malign intentions by installing lackeys in place of the civilian leadership of the Defense Department within days of his November defeat?

Yes, Donald J. Trump left much behind as he ended his muddy boot rampage across our nation’s capital and its 245 years of peaceful transitions and civil polity. In addition to testing the strength of our constitution, he dismantled or destabilized many functions of our Federal government. He left behind a $3.1 trillion deficit unparalleled in modern times. And he left behind a nation polarized and schism-cized like never before.

And, oh yes, now there’s a golden statue.


coup d’é·tat: a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government. Typically, an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a political faction, the military, or a dictator. 

At the risk of stepping into an ongoing conspiracy, I must question why everyone from President Biden to the House Impeachment Managers to the New York Times have worked so assiduously to avoid the use of a simple and totally appropriate designation for the events of January 6th?

Is it so far from reality to accept what happened as the final act in a failed COUP D’ETAT? Not an insurrection, or a riot gone wild, or even an accidental act of treason, but Donald J. Trump’s final desperate effort to nullify the results of his election loss by overthrowing our government and usurping its powers?

The fact that it was so dismal a failure—so poorly planned and ineffectually executed—does not erase the fact that a failed coup d’etat is as much an act of treason as one that succeeds. 

The amazing thing to me is that the elements of the coup were never hidden. Trump in his delusional quest for a second term, began his campaign to undermine the election results by declaring them rigged and illegitimate far in advance of November 3, 2020.  

The fact that Trump fired the Secretary of Defense and installed a crew of loyalists atop the Defense Department less than two weeks after the election was a coup-warning red flag to ten former Secretaries of Defense, as well as to anyone with a sense of how delusional Trump had become. 

And how dangerous.

Trump bootlickers and pardoneers General Michael Flynn and Steve Bannon were seen everywhere after the election calling for military action, martial law and fighting in the streets to “Stop The Steal,” the battle cry for Trump’s coup-focused insurrection.

Even Trump’s clumsy attempts to overturn Georgia’s electoral outcome can be seen as a desperate attempt to secure even the flimsiest shred of evidence that a rigged election had occurred. Evidence that might be seen as justification for some sort of military action. 

There was no other discernible reason for attempting to change Georgia’s certified election results. There weren’t enough electors at stake to justify the risk to Trump for coercing a fraudulent outcome. 

Without intending a coup, there would have been no justification on January 6th for Trump to organize, incite and direct a mob to violently storm the capital and prevent Biden’s certification as President, and maybe, perhaps, eliminate top leaders in American government while they were there. 

So, with all the transparency surrounding Trump’s failed coup d’etat, why the refusal to acknowledge what anyone can plainly figure out for themselves? Why would President Biden denounce the coup in Myanmar yet remain silent about our own homegrown infamy?

The answer remains something of a secret. One can surmise all sorts of reasons why the Powers That Be, and their media allies, would want to sanitize the events of January 6th, to downplay the instability and uncertainty that scarily surrounded America and its vaunted democratic ideals and institutions on that day. Not to mention its position as the world’s bedrock of financial stability.

This question of Trump’s failed coup becomes very much like the conundrum about the tree falling unseen and unheard in the forest. 

If a coup happens and everyone pretends not to have noticed, will a coup actually have happened?

Only if we pull our heads out of the sand.


The Scoundrel in Question.

Welcome to NATIONAL SCOUNDREL’S DAY. On January 6th of every year, Americans should gather in civic assemblies, high school auditoriums and American Legion Halls to honor the only president  in United States history to attempt a coup d’etat. 

Also notable as the only a coup d’etat in American history that failed, or was so poorly conceived that it never had a chance to succeed. A political power grab unlike any coup d’etat ever seen in this modern era. Not a swift military tactical movement, nor an unexpected detention of authorities in power, but a painfully protracted, 5-hour coup d’etat planned by the three stooges of the Donald J. Trump presidency—Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Roger Stone.

A coup d’etat noticeably absent of battlefield commanders, or any set of detailed plans or clearly communicated objectives. A coup d’etat carried out by a ragtag army of hoodwinked malcontents, Halloween-garbed Viking imitators and hundreds of right-wing tourists lured to the nation’s capital for what they believed would be a political rally and a Make America Great Again Festival, hopefully featuring free beer. 

Fear not, if you worry that there aren’t enough political figures whose infamy and stupidity qualifies them to also be celebrated and scorned on NATIONAL SCOUNDREL’S DAY. The rolls of the January 6th accomplices, whether before or after the fact, reads like a Who’s Who of Trump’s Republican bootlickers: Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell and dozens of others who either refused to certify Joe Biden’s electoral victory or voted for acquittal in Trump’s senate impeachment trial.

And what would a NATIONAL SCOUNDREL’S DAY be if it failed to honor and ridicule those titans of the right-wing media, those fabled curators of the President’s lies and malfeasances—Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro, among many others, including Rupert Murdoch—whose daily serving of lies, rumors and conspiracies fed, fostered and festered discontent and outrage throughout America’s heartland?

Yes, it’s way past time we set aside a single day in our crowded calendar every year to honor those whose misconduct and sociopathic behavior put at risk those values and hallowed traditions we honor as loyal, god-fearing Americans.

At long last Benedict Arnold and Joseph McCarthy can rest easily in their graves, knowing they will never be forgotten. Not as long as we have a holiday to celebrate NATIONAL SCOUNDRELS’ DAY. 

Not as long as Donald J. Trump will be remembered for all his accomplishments as a National Disgrace.