Barbara Bush and Ima Hogg: Two Texas Matriarchs, One Common Vision

 

Miss Barbara Bush = Miss Ima Hogg = Two Texas matriarchs and kindred spirits with one common goal, purpose and vision.

Miss Ima was a very influential Texas philanthropist and was, among many other things, an arts magnate, one of its fiercest advocates and most prolific patrons of the 20th century. She was an early champion of racial equality and believed that one of the ways it could be achieved was through equal access to and immersion in the arts, and was the architect of programs for children of color to achieve that very end, programs that would serve as a model for others like it for years to come.

She was also a passionate voice for mental health, especially in children, and as you may have guessed, was an architect for programs and institutions to bring about its end. As it happens, she was the founder of Mental Health America, one of the oldest and largest mental health advocacy organizations in the country, and certainly in the state and my city (Houston). It is the first mental health advocacy organization I have partnered with, and the one with which I remain the most intimately connected.

As most of us perhaps already know, Miss Barbara was a perennial champion of literacy, especially child literacy. Perhaps her most salient and tangible legacy is her literacy foundation, with chapters all over the country, and the “flagship” chapter in Houston. Like Miss Irma, she was a firm adherent of the philosophy that literacy and equal access to books and other forms of reading material was the key to fomenting positive social/economic change, leading to the achievement of true and lasting social equality.

Both women are true American heroines, shining embodiments of a lifetime dedication to serving humanity, whose respective life’s purposes were informed very early on by an unbridled appreciation for reading, writing and the arts, the very human elements indispensable to the construction, management and furthering of any civilized and progressive society, and I am personally thankful and deeply indebted to them for their universe-altering and universe-expanding quest for profound social change, the microcosmic counterparts of which having demonstrated their precious fruits and gifts in my own life many times over, enriching it beyond all expectation. God bless them both, and while I am reasonably certain that they have crossed paths in life in some capacity or context, I am positive they are back together, leading the collective collaboration to continue advancing some of the noblest aspects and aptitudes of the human spirit, wherever they are.

 

For Barbara: Martin Luther King reflecting on my favorite poem, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (No Man is an Island). by John Donne

For Ima: “Heroic” Polonaise befitting her consummate heroism from my favorite composer, F Chopin, and played by my favorite pianist, Evgeny Kissin

 

Public Poetry Reading!

My first “official” public poetry reading at Unity Church of Houston Thursday, March 22nd 2018. Part of Assemble for Action, a series of motivational gatherings with candid discussions, personal reflections, musical incantations and poetic recitations all leading up to the monumental March for our Lives demonstration this coming Saturday, March 24th, in downtown Houston. I briefly discuss my perspective on gun violence as a military veteran and mental health advocate, followed by three poems on the respective themes of war/violence/destruction, grief and loss, and redemption through a commitment to lasting peace. Enjoy.

And There I Stood…

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And there I stood
at the threshold of infinity,
wondering when
the tides would cease to swerve,
when the moon would
turn to face me and weep,

when the lighthouse
would become darkened
by the sempiternal emptiness
of unanswered questions.
And then I chose a star to hold,
to cherish and protect as the path takes on new direction.
I speak to a destiny that radiates possibility,
that dissipates the tribulations of yore
and casts them into the pond
where I once thought the answers awaited me.
And here I sing robust melodies
bejeweled with red stones,
warm and smooth to the touch,
filled with a luscious silence, a knowing.
The future reveals an exploding genesis,
its particulates raining upon my head
down my face, attached to my song,
christened by the scintillations

emanating from my bosom.

Art: “Blue”
Wassily Kandinsky

Nestled by the Fireside

Nestled by the fireside,
listening.
The temperate caress
of an errant flicker
awakens the latent
serenade of the season,
carrying expectant smiles
to their place beyond the sphere.

Everything exists
in this series of nows and forevers,
in the way your hand

Lies untroubled in mine,
redolent of the halcyon’s
repose after her flight
through celestial reveries
interconnected by the vestal melodies
of winged seraphs
perched atop the star that sits aloof
bearing our likeness.

I’ve Heard the Echoes

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I’ve heard the echoes,
chased the shadows,
danced with the reveries
of phantom caresses.

Retreat with me
to a safe space
‘neath the snow-laden burrows
behind the curtain of remembrances

where we will carve out
the annals
of innocence and mirth,
and ascend the smoky hills by night’s end.

Art: “The Road in front of Saint-Siméon Farm in Winter”
Claude Monet

 

Absorbed Space

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Absorbed space,

where the branches met their
reflections
and
her solace
birthed itself from eternal hiding,
Where the minions of fate
worked in concert
to don
the ornamented veil
of futures subsequently
resisted,
Where drops of sky
chased
a soulless moon
to its final appearance,
returning to
the fringes of darkened hours.

Art: “The Black Swan”
William Degouve de Nuncques

Where the Rivers Converge

 

Meet me where the rivers converge,
where the elemental

upsurge

of thought and reflection
begin to inspire

the formation

of territories newly populated
by the wisdom of

hands that prayed

themselves into warm bundles
of anxious grins that called upon the old

incantations

of lost serpents, mighty but humble
and for the most part without guile

voiceless…..

but keenly aware of the changes in direction
and flow, and contemporary with outgrowths of

new being

not yet reduced by the apparitions we have yet to fight.