Today the government turned off the faucet. Shut itself down. Pulled the plug.

It’s amazing how supposedly intelligent people think nothing of playing games with other people’s lives and livelihoods. How they can focus so hard on one goal – to rip the Affordable Care Act apart – that they forget what happens after they finish reading “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Basic health care — like public education — should be a right for all. If everyone has the right to own a gun, access to affordable health care and insurance should be considered just as important.

But some congressmen don’t want universal health care. They say it is a bad idea — that it will be expensive and put our country in debt forever. That we have no right to force people to purchase health care insurance. But we can require auto insurance. Strange.

Surprisingly, millions of people are going online today to learn about this new form of health care and health insurance. They are thinking of their children and themselves. They are looking for ways to take care of their families — instead of relying on ER care. They must think it is a good idea.

But these politicians say they speak for all the people. Instead they listen only to those who speak their language, who agree with them. I understand there are fears about this new program. I know this legislation is far from perfect. But I think the main fear is this: that it might work after all.

I wonder what Franklin Delano Roosevelt would say about all this. If only he could have gotten a health care program in with the New Deal. It would be so different now.

Maybe, instead of health care, we would be fighting about something else that never made it through Congress. Imagine, if the course of history had been different. Maybe we would be fighting over whether our senior citizens should be living on the streets, whether they deserve a monetary subsidy that gives them some dignity, some security.

It’s not so hard to imagine after what we have seen. It could still be our future.

It’s nice to think that we can all stand on our own — to be independent and strong. But as you get older, you realize how much we need each other. How only the richest among us can do it all by themselves. They are islands — yes, and they own islands. Good for them.

I’m not expecting to change any minds — just to unload my own. I am confused by those who call themselves the Christian Right, but close their eyes and step over the weakest and poorest and smallest. And I’m confused by Tea Party Conservatives, who sought to have their voices heard but now listen to no one else. By the Far Left, too, who pick and choose their battles in such narrow worlds.

“That you do to the least of my brothers — that you do unto me.”

Remember this hymn? Someone still hums the tune.

And it’s getting louder

And louder.

 

 

 

Weekly photo challenge: Curves

Image

Natural and architectural curves found in Providence, Block Island, Newport, RI, Amherst, MA, and Chicago.

For all who served

This link will take you to a shaky video I did of my father on his trip to Washington, DC, as part of an Honor Flight tour in 2010. He passed away earlier this year, and this Memorial Day is especially touching for me. He was proud of his WWII service in the Navy, and lucky to go in at the tail end of the war. He was still finishing his senior year in high school when he began his year of service.

I remember attending Memorial Day services at the cemetery every year, and dad wore his Legion uniform. He was still putting on that uniform to honor veterans at their funerals when he was in his 80s. Today, I remember him in that uniform.

Honor Flight 2010 009

My thanks to William Stafford

Big sky of the Saskatchewan province of Canada

Big sky of the Saskatchewan province in Canada

Tonight I read through the poems I wrote on my trip to North Dakota and Saskatchewan during the summer of 2004. The poem below pays respect to William Stafford, a poet whose writings that I ate, breathed and fell asleep with during those six weeks. The 49th parallel is the border between the U.S. and Canada. My words echo his poem, “At the Un-National Monument Along the Canadian Border.” It has been almost nine years since I visited this overwhelming space, and it is far away from my home on the Atlantic Ocean, but I can return by walking down these lines of words.

Reading Stafford at the 49th Parallel

This is the voice I carry, lines to wrap round me,

when I float too close to borders of despair.

This is the voice whose hope carves days,

where no hatred ever strays,

and green breath fills my mouth with prayer.

Birds still pilot blue skies unbound

above yellow fields that heave, swell, rise.

Led by you – I bless anew – this pass-through ground

charted by pursuit, desire, waste and greed.

Left behind for young dreamers to seed.

For my grandpa

Edward Meylor 1902-1974

At the Cliff Walk

                    Newport, Rhode Island

Yesterday, I heard
an Iowa farmer’s gravel voice
as Atlantic surf dashed smooth pebbles
against a rootless coast,
groaning them back and forth
with each surge.

In that instant,
I was almost six again,
walking far from the farmhouse
and in the path of a rooster
who raised his wings, snapped
his talons. My grandfather’s deep bass
struck the air and his quick hands
circled the bird’s neck in flight.

Yesterday, I stood
on a high precipice
above churning agate seas
and heard my grandfather’s voice
rumble down channels of green fields.
I lingered as he roared back
at churning eddies below
to save me again.

 

My grandpa was a wise and gentle man who had a rumbly voice and lots of interesting hobbies. This poem came about after my very first visit to the Cliff Walk, a beautiful path that runs along the Atlantic Ocean in the “back yards” of Newport’s mansions. I clearly remember the sensation of hearing his voice while I was walking on the path. When I turned a corner I realized that the “voice” was the gravel sea bottom rolling back and forth with the tide. I’ve been there many times since then, but have never had the same experience. Grandpa died 38 years ago this month, and grandma died not long after. Anyone have some memories of them to share?