Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A peacemaker in the Marine Band

I have been thinking a lot about Tom Fox and his Christian Peacemaker team members who are captives in Iraq, but haven't felt that there was anything I could say that others weren't saying better. But today I found this paragraph at the bottom of the CPT's web site:

A note on Tom Fox's Career as a Musician in the Marine Band
Tom Fox was a music major in college. He graduated at the height of the Viet Nam war in May of 1973. He was already opposed to war and was unwilling to participate in the United States military actions in Viet Nam. Tom auditioned and was accepted into the Marine Band, based in Washington D.C. This fulfilled his military obligation. Tom played clarinet with the Band as a professional musician in order to support his family. He received no military training. He left the Marine Band to work as a grocer.

I love this fact and the image of the pacifist clairnet player in the Marine Band. It reminds me of the Yellow Submarine where Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band brought music back to Pepperland, converted the Blue Meanies, and thawed all the people frozen by the Meanies.

Tom's story also suggests to me writing a children's story of how peaceniks infiltrated the opposing sides' military bands and at some crises point did something to end the war between their nations, like leading the armies to march in opposite directions from each other, or continuing the pre-battle music so long that the battle couldn't begin, or accompanied the singing of Christmas carols across no-mans land, or songs that the soldiers' mothers taught them so that they drop their weapons, cry, hug each other, and clean up the mess they made. . . .

Of course, the situation faced by Tom and his comrades is no laughing matter or storybook fantasy. But neither was their conviction that they could enter the lion's den or the fiery furnace and witness to Truth.

I can't help hoping that Tom's music will bring strength and comfort to him and the others as they face their ordeal.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The coat has been hung on the peg. In memoriam Eugene McCarthy

Gene McCarthy was a prophet who read the signs of his times and had the moral courage to accept his call, not only as a a politician, but also as a poet when the nation needed a poet more than anything. One of the few fortunate to have moved the course of history, he was -- for a time -- the right man at the right time. We need his kind now more than ever.

Two poems by Eugene McCarthy (1916 - 2005)


Now it is certain.
There is no magic stone.
No secret to be found.
One must go
With the mind's winnowed learning.
No more than the child's handhold
On the willows bending over the lake,
On the sumac roots at the cliff edge.
Ignorance is checked,
Betrayals scratched.
The coat has been hung on the peg,
The cigar laid on the table edge,
The cue chosen and chalked,
The balls set for the final break.
All cards drawn,
All bets called.
The dice, warm as blood in the hand,
Shaken for the last cast.
The glove has been thrown to the ground,
The last choice of weapons made.

A book for one thought.
A poem for one line.
A line for one word.

"Broken things are powerful."
Things about to break are stronger still.
The last shot from the brittle bow is truest.


The maple tree that night
Without a wind or rain
Let go its leaves
Because its time had come.
Brown veined, spotted,
Like old hands, fluttering in blessing,
They fell upon my head
And shoulders, and then
Down to the quiet at my feet.
I stood, and stood
Until the tree was bare
And have told no one
But you that I was there.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Non-conformists Unite!

Finally, a union for liberal Friends. A great number of persons to be gathered. We could sing the songs of ourselves together in different keys at the same time in one grand cacaphony of unified diversity. We could all go on strike, but at different times, whenever we felt like it. We no long need to hide our skepticism under our bonnets; we can wear it boldly on our bumpers and lapels, whenever we're led to.
I'd write more, but I have to get my tongue out of my cheek.