The Good Samaritan

The man down the street answered the cry
of the young man with the child’s mind
who was being bullied by the neighborhood gang
and for his trouble was knifed in the stomach;
now beneath the giant oak with the rope swing
that stands in his front yard under a blue sky
are a dozen votive candles resting in peace
and a poster sized picture of his face
which now smiles down from heaven
where no bullies are allowed and all children
are smart and beautiful and strong and safe.

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Ears High, Tail Waving

“I had a dog once
Who liked to fetch,”
I wanted to say,
To the man with the white beard
And the baseball cap
As he flung the ball
High in the air
And the lumbering lab
Barked twice and ran,
Ears high, tail waving.

“I had a dog once,”
I wanted to say
As I remembered
Boulders round a blue lake,
Pheasants rising
From red bushes,
Deer tracks in new snow,
And Beau running to me
At my call,
Ears high, tail waving.

Happy Trails

I broke a six year abstinence last week when I bought a television. I’d like to say it was the hunger for PBS and documentaries that triggered my purchase but honesty demands I tell the truth. I was eager to watch the Red Carpet for the Academy Awards show. Yes, I know they are totally shallow and over-hyped, and the program itself too long and too boring – but I was hungry to see the ‘glossy’ people, who they are with and how they are dressed, definitely a show in themselves.

I did stop short of getting cable and in the days that followed, I investigated regular programming. I am watching this 21st century television with a $5 rabbit ears antenna. I get ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS, plus a handful of foreign language and shopping networks, and, most importantly three or four local tv stations. These local stations have accomplished the impossible. They are time machines and have taken me back sixty years. I am now watching the same tv programs I watched as a child on our first, refrigerator-sized television.

For example, I can watch Wagon Train, Bonanza, My Little Margie, Hogan’s Heroes, Perry Mason, Gilligan’s Island, I Married Joan, Ozzie & Harriette, and many other hits of the 50’s and 60’s. Most importantly, on Saturday afternoon I am able to watch Gaby Hayes’ Western Theater. This was my favorite show of childhood. It came on a 4 o’clock, just after I got home from school and just before Howdy Doody and dinnertime.

Gaby’s show featured the grade B westerns of the 30’s and 40’s with stars such as Johnny Mack Brown, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Rex Allen, Smiley Burnette, Harry Carey, Andy Devine, Sunset Carson, Hoot Gibson, Tim Holt, Lash LaRue, Slim Pickens and Tex Ritter. Of the scores of cowboys featured on the screen there were only a handful of women, foremost among them being Dale Evans.

As I watched Gaby this weekend I realized how important these westerns had been to my upbringing. The westerns, along with my weekly hour in catechism as St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church, had poured the foundation of my ethics and morality. The cowboy movies always showed the good guys and the bad guys, and in case you got confused you could always identify who was who by the color of their hats or shirts. The bad guys invariably wore black hats.

Cowboys were my heroes and for many years I longed to be a boy if only to be able to ride a horse and be a sheriff. In fact, I had a cowboy costume with cowboy boots and hat – not to mention a black Hopalong Cassidy bike with a cap gun holster near the handlebars. My favorite song (to which I knew all the words) was “Don’t Fence Me In.” Here’s a great version by Gene Autry:

What did cowboy movies teach me? I had the certainty that by the end of the story, the good guys would win – after some hard knocks and/or gun fights- and that justice would be served, the bad guys would end up dead or in jail. Goodness always triumphed. Indeed, the westerns were the modern version of the morality plays performed in church courtyards in the Middle Ages. While church and catechism gave me the philosophic and spiritual lenses through which to view the world, the westerns provided me with hands-on, practical, how-to information.

Cowboy movies taught me the need to have courage even through you were surrounded by hostile Indians or bandits; to stand up for what you believed in especially if it involved barb wire fences, squatters or water rights; to sit with your back to the wall and your eye on the saloon door; that women and children were to be protected and respected; that the only thing worse than a coward was a traitor; that truth was more important than winning; that modesty and purity, especially for women, was more important than beauty; that a horse is the best friend you could ever have; and finally, that every trail has an end and if you rode out into the sunset there was a chance for a new beginning. All in all, not a bad list of guidelines for living life.

The black and white innocence and unquestioning righteousness of the cowboy movies gave a lot of security to my world view as a child. These years were the 50’s, the time of the rise of the middle class, suburbs, tv dinners, and highways across the nation. One of these highways eventually led me to the very land where all those westerns were made, California, the sunset at the end of my personal trail.

Artsy Bits & Pieces

Hydrangea 7 x 8It’s been a while since I mentioned anything about art so today I have collected the bits and pieces of the last few months. I was in five art shows from October through February and was happily surprised when I sold several pieces. I finally ordered more art paper so for the next month or two will be working on new pieces – a new change of pace from all of the writing I have been doing.

Although I am dubious about its efficacy, I have joined the Pinterest crowd and have two bulletin boards – one on ink art and one on mandalas (http://pinterest.com/marietaylorink ). I’ve read many sterling testimonials by artists saying that Pinterest is a great promoter of their art. I will keep you posted – no pun intended.

INTO THE HILLS 13 x 14A fellow blogger discovered my art and has asked to use some examples on his website. He is a Ch’an (Chinese Buddhism) practitioner based in England. He has much to offer. To visit his site, click here: http://liberationinallplaces.weebly.com.

Finally, I will be pulling the plug on the Marie Taylor Art blog at the end of March. If you are interested in spiritual topics, poetry, reflections, sacred texts, etc. visit my other blog http://sacredgate.wordpress.com. It is a weekly posting showcasing an example of the sacred text from various spiritual traditions with a very short bio of the writer and my personal comments.

Thanks for your continuing interest and comments.

The Wind Arrived Today

The wind arrived today
Very full of itself
Boasting of the lines it had tangled
And the trees felled.
Filled with the moisture
It scooped along the highways of the sky
And beside the river of stars
It has traveled by night while all slept.
Wind came rushing in
Sweeping the clouds to the sides
Of the Great Valley
With the broom of its cool breath.
Huffing and puffing
It tossed its shaggy head this way and that
Shaking its tangled locks
And roaring.
Made of nothing
It is not silent but used all
For its horn and drum
In its march northward.
It cleared a path
For the massive clouds that pile up behind
And shape shift into castles and bears
And galloping horses.
Pushing clouds this way and that,
A bully of the playground,
It sorts things out and
Allows the sun to enter.
Yellow white rays sting with heat,
Sun’s piercing eye
Jolts the slumbering seeds
Into an inner frenzy.
While the sap rises
The buds break their hard brown sheaths
And arrive lime green and vibrant
Along the arms of trees.
Cool and moist on the outside,
Hot and dry on the inside,
Spring kicks at Mother’s belly
Eager to be born.