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Sailing With My Father – poem

Sailing With My Father – poem

 

Historically a quiet man with an

extraordinarily dry wit

 

When sailing your quietude

became fierce, sailing on

the edge

 

The hand with a piece of shrapnel

from a war on the tiller, holding

steady

 

Face turned windward, eyes

noting obstacles, checking

cattails direction

 

The rush of wind caught to

fill the sails

 

We were happy.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dedicated, in Love and Memory, to my father, Mahlon Hendrickson Dunn, Jr., 1914-1992 / Until we meet again.

 

© Jessan Dunn Otis, August 6, 2018

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Open Letter /2/

Open Letter /2/ 

Dear Reader,

To write that we are living in interesting times is an understatement.  To sit back and witness the proliferation of slurs, insults and innuendos and to say nothing is a relinquishment of one’s essential right as a citizen.

I’ve witnessed many changes in administrations over decades.  I am hard-pressed to recall such venomous, vitriolic and smarmy behavior as I’ve seen throughout the past two + years.  Stooping to the most despicable displays of bullying, consistent strategies of distraction, while slipping in another barb at that one, another demeaning comment about this one.  No side of the aisle is truly exempt in this.

Enough.

Stop.

However, this behavior does not stop.  It rolls across our television screens. Is repeated and reprinted, re-interpreted and propounds itself all over social media – day in, day out.

Enough.

Our democracy is founded on a few, essential principles – one being that all [people] are created equal.  Another principle is that we all have certain, inalienable rights.

Just those two principles are enough to remind me that the founders intended to form a civil society – unlike any other society.

Where did that civility go? How did that lack of civility bring us to this quagmire of dirty, pathetic, embarrassing harangues and hissy fits?  Is this your interpretation of democracy?

Enough.

We, the people, don’t have to agree.  In fact, we can be almost diametrically opposed on one or more issues.  Neverthemore, when we, as a country, cannot accept and agree to simple, civil discourse, we’re all in very deep trouble.  When we, as a people, can only live in the narrow, bigoted, opposition condition of them v. us, you v. me, then I say: “Stop. Enough. Step back. Take a deep breath. Clear your head of distracting noises.  Begin, again.”

When the pendulum swings to its apex, it must, in time, swing the other way.

My concern in all this is, if we don’t re-establish a more civil national conversation, we will continue to run and stumble (not walk) down this path of insults, embarrassment, contention, lies and destructive behavior.

Enough.

Stop.

Is this what we, the people, want?  Is this what you want? Is this your vision of what civil discourse and democracy is?

Sincerely,

~ Jessan

Jessan Dunn Otis | Writer

This is the second in a series of three (3) “Open Letter” posts.

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Weeding With My Mother – poem

Weeding With My Mother

 

I learned to weed a garden

    squatting next to my mother

 

Once I began to learn what was wanted

    and what was unwanted

The rest was easy

 

Bend down

 

Get my hands dirty

 

Smell the earth

 

Look carefully

 

Make clean spaces

 

    Talk softly.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Dedicated with Love and Memory to Helen Constance Smith Dunn ~ 1912-1980 / Until we meet again.

 

© Jessan Dunn Otis, June 30, 2018

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The beauty of this place

The beauty of this place

 

Sweet, salted sea air     Pine and palm     Sugar sand and St. George Island – sand dollar, shark tooth   “TomTom, how you doin’?”  “I’m doin’ alright.”   Tillie Miller Bridge between here and Tiki – Plump, Gulf shrimp and Apalach oysters   Hickory smoked chicken and ribs (no rub) and sunfried jellyfish

 

Seagulls     Sea terns     Great blue herons     Dolphins spyhop and blow every now and then     Distant light on Dog Island in a 2:20 AM blueblacknight

 

Sopchoppy   Eastpoint   Panacea   Alligator Point

 

A few days back Julie and Artie left, again, having returned from leaving once before and we all walked this beach, beyond the pine tree point, further than any of us had gone before – sea-silvered driftwood, beheaded brown pelican in the brambles of sea grass and pine needles     Warming sun     Cool, hard-packed, low tide sugar sand under bare feet   Sassy leaping pine-stained, sepia rivulets

 

The laughing gull has returned each morning, greeting and reclaiming its territory and, more than likely, calling out “Sea urchin!” to the others that, eventually, return — glide, drift, rise and drop, land     Eat, stay — then, again, depart  —  leaving this length of calm, shallow bay to terns, herons and egrets to forage

 

The beauty of this place is as intricately delicate as the silent glideflight of eleven brown pelicans in singular formation, skimming the shallow wave crests – moving from east to west – becoming, eventually, a pulsing line disappearing into the horizon

 

The beauty of this place

 

The red smirch of Crystal hot sauce spilled at the edge of a previous high tide line, scattered with Apalachicola oyster shells from our early evening appetizers, has been consumed by the storm-driven, rough chop of last night’s rain, wind and the approaching full moon     Wind out of the Southeast, breaking diagonal crests of gunmetal gray and the red buoy strains on its chains as the tide shifts and the channel churns

 

There is violence in the beauty of this place, too  –  ships lost, lives swallowed whole, coyotes grab dogs, alligators grab anything

 

Waves meet land and visibly reverberate back into water, again –

making     unmaking     remaking

 

A broken buoy drifts     Freed until it’s caught on low tide sea grass before this tide turns     The sun breaches darkening, layered afternoon storm clouds to the West, while brilliantly illuminating the etched, white sandbar over there

 

Burble of language bounces inside my ear – “Hey! How you doin’?” heard so often it becomes as familiar and unnoticed as the wave and the air and this light

 

The beauty of this place is as much a mystery to me as you

 

Bert and Kathy, Hattie and Zack – come and met and gone     Orange and onion salad, frittatas made and shared   Al and Sandy, Sharon and Larry, Scotty, Doug, Gen and Ted     Sun-warmed, woman laughing with Pat — LaVerne with her easy, flashing Apalach smile     Kim and Tony and oystering all Monday morning across from St. Vincent because the rip was too chopped

 

Three brilliant, crested egrets graze along this shore, dolphins pass and blow and continue on, as heedless of us as the swarm of terns that rise and twist and glide away to feed further down on this storm-tossed, driven gloss

 

WOYS, Oyster Radio, 100.5 FM, plays softly as the shrouded sun journeys further West     The playful pinwheel whirls and chatters, stick jammed between the weathered 1st and 2nd boards of that well-worn picnic table     Just outside this open window, burlap oyster bag flaps

 

Steelwater, forbidding wind along this coast of Carrabelle     Another invisible finger whips this water, etching new (yet ancient) patterns

 

Tide turns, distant sandbar, barrier beach revealed     Unseen fish school as flocks follow and feed, far off

 

Damp, salted air     Thin, singular electric line that leads from shore to dock light               Whisper of wave and wind

 

The beauty of this place

 

No matter where I go nor what I do, the beauty of this place will taste like home as salt is in my tears

 

The apparent void dissolved     The horizon I can never reach will always draw me in, seeming to want to go further than my eye can see, when the greatest daring starts within

 

The beauty of this place…
~ ~ ~

Dedicated to: Suzanne Creamer, Stephine McDowell, Marlene Moore, Jennifer Moro, Albert Otis, Jennifer Pickett, C.J.(Joe)Pouncey, Sassy, Judi Rundel

~ ~ ~

HoHum RV Park/Carrabelle, Florida/January-February, 2004

 

(c)Jessan Dunn Otis / 2004-2017

 

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Open Letter /1/

Open Letter /1/

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you’re a leader.” John Quincy Adams

Dear Reader:

I unequivocally stand up and speak out to recent egregious events, actions and words put forth by America’s leaders.   

The United States of America, as an ideal, is greater than all Americans combined.  However, our history is splattered with blood, violence and death.  That history splattered, yet again, on the streets of Charlottesville most recently.  

Throughout our history there have been lies, deceptions, cover-ups, atrocities in the name of “science”, lynchings, and slurs. The “rule of law” has become almost unrecognizable. Rampant, thinly-disguised discrimination from our “discovery”: based on race, sex, color, religion, sexual preference, income, education, place of residence, national origin, occupation, attire, hairstyle, etc., has been/continues to be the norm. The lists go on.

If we continue to make the choice to hate, demean, insult, disrespect and attack each other, at home and abroad, based on whatever characteristics we want to use for our own agendas, this is the America we’ll continue to create and this is the America from which others will move away, distrust and attack.  

I’ll have none of it.

This is not my America.  Hate is not my choice.  The values of the present administration and other leaders are not my values.

Each morning I wake up grateful for another day.  Nevertheless, when I look in the mirror of the America that’s been created today, much of what I see is self-serving hubris, pandering, hissy fits, policies inarticulately blurted out in 140 characters from a bogus Twitter account, some of the worst “positioning” to sustain and accrue more apparent and presumed “power” (while not offending too many people); and, making absolutely certain that “the base” is kept re-invigorated and juiced up with rallying cries of political promises that cannot be kept. Neither predominant political party is exempt.

This is not my America.

We can agree to disagree on many points, with respect. But, when our “leaders” persist in appealing to the basest human emotions of fear and hate, bullying anyone and everyone who disagrees or gets in their way, our American mirror must reflect what’s there, be seen clearly, no flinching and called out.

For my part, I re-affirm to treat others as I wish to be treated.  I resolve to listen and respond with respect, even if we passionately disagree.  I stand firm on the side of tolerance, understanding, empathy, compassion, social justice, non-violence, equality, ethical and individual responsibility, respecting our Constitution; and, my right to question authority.

Is this what we, the people, accept?

Most sincerely,

~ Jessan

Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer

This is the first in a series of three (3) “Open Letter” posts.

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“Dirty Money”

“Dirty Money” 

Think of all the things you’ve done to “make money”.  That, in itself, is a ridiculous concept.  We don’t “make money”, the government does.  We, you and I, earn money.

I started earning money as a girl – granted an allowance for accomplishing certain chores.  Chores done, allowance paid.  No chores done, no allowance.  Some chores completed, partial payment.

Simple.

Time passed.

At 19 I landed my first “adult” job as a clerk-typist at a social service in Providence, Rhode Island.  Paid weekly.  Still living at home with my parents in Warwick, RI.  Within a few months I fledged myself.  Time to go out on my own.  One room apartment on the East Side, shared bath, no parking.  Independent. Earning money. Paying my own bills.

Time passed.

Many changes.

Some time later I began to see and understand better about what money, as a thing, did to folks.  The earning of it, who had more of it, who had less of it and how those two conditions stratified and segregated people from and against each other.  Judgements.  “Better than” because one had more money.  “Less than” because of having not so much money.

This is nothing to say about how the getting of that money perverted folks – what one did to get more, as if the flash and bling and apparent “power” that all that money was had made a person, somehow, superior or more influential, ultimately.

I still earn money and appreciate what it allows me to do – support a household, buy food, purchase something beautiful, share it to support a charitable cause or new initiative.  There are times, however, when I think about the earlier tradition of barter – I have something you want, you have something I want, we determine a fair value, make the deal and each of us walks away satisfied and happy.  Simple.  Neverthemore, in most Westernized societies, barter has faded and it’s the dollar that rules.

Next time you think about money, think about what it really is – a coin or a decorated piece of paper – and, what it takes to earn it, how the having or not having it creates false and devastating divisions between us (as people and as nations); and, what’s the true value and human cost of “earning money”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

(c) 6/8/ 2017

written by:  Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer

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Happy Birthday ~ poem

Happy Birthday

Can you remember;

or, is it only a story

told and told until it becomes

what you believe is your reality

 

That day you mysteriously passed

from one realm into the next,

having floated in that seawomb

of oblivion

 

Yelping, speechless, totally dependent –

one year later a celebration of one year

passed; and, on and on until there are

no more

 

Some I’ve known have come and gone so fast

it took my breath away and, to this day,

their sudden loss is felt

 

Others stayed for many years, celebration

after celebration until, finally, all the

vital parts slowed down, faded, failing, slipping

into Rest

 

Loved short or long (some unknown, but

told of or heard on the evening news)     It is

the way we all must go — from flesh to flesh

and dust to dust, we do not know the number

of our days

 

(In this dark, still night I think about these things)

 

The coming in

The going out

 

It is the Spirit that survives, lives on

 

Only for a moment or two (however short

or long that is) does Spirit take body and is

named

 

Happy Birthday

Birth Day

Birth

Day.

 

 

 

 

Featured post

Leaders and the Strategy of Distraction – essay

There are a lot of things that can distract us these days. Should “leaders” fall into that grouping?

More than a few “leaders” employ the strategy of distraction, tossing out red herrings willy-nilly and expecting the populace to follow.

I’m not falling for it.  Listening with a long memory of “leaders” who have come before, the art of the strategy of distraction is one that is particularly dishonest, disingenuous and demeaning.

When asked a direct question, give a direct answer.  Simple enough.

We certainly live in interesting times.  Leaders need to lead forthrightly, without talking down to the populace nor intentionally and/or unintentionally employing their particular spin on the strategy of distraction.

Simple enough.