Thursday, February 28, 2013

Are We All Kissey Face, Now?

You know it’s bad when former Supervisor Shirley Bianchi has to drive down from Cambria to bang heads together.  Which she did at Tuesday’s Supervisor’s meeting, telling the Board she intended to tell them to put on their big boy pants and get control of the snarky public who still has nasty things to say about her boy, Bruce Gibson, and his messy love life that’s spilled all over the Board, often turning them into collateral damage. 

But, she was too late.  Chairman Paul Teixeira had his pants on and told the public that they had to mind their manners during public comment or he’d stop the meetings and clear the room.  He also reminded the audience that the meetings were being televised and streamed and podcasted so everyone was to “keep it clean, this is a family show.”

All of which was a reaction to last week’s dust-up wherein Los Ososian, Tom Salmon, made reference to Gibson’s girlfriend/legislative aide in terms using the word “whore” and “prostitute,” which made everyone’s head explode and caused Tribune reporter, Bob Cuddy, to write a column about the chamber turning into a Blogosphere filled with anonymous trolls.

And so there it sits, for now.  But you just gotta know the Supervisors aren’t happy with this mess.  Gibson plopped this dead rat onto the dais and left it there under their noses.  What could they do?  Legally, little or nothing.  Gibson successfully gamed the system to make sure both he and his girlfriend/employee kept their respective jobs, the Board’s own waffling Code of Conduct Standards apparently has no enforcement teeth, so what can individual Board members do?  Give the guy a Brooklyn raspberry at the start of every meeting?  Make evil, threatening gang hand signs at him before the Pledge of Allegiance?

I mean, there’s no way to get rid of the mess since it’s now been legally formalized with a few strokes of the pen , blessed by County Counsel and politely accepted by the silence of the Board.  So, there’s no way to get rid of Gibson or his mess.  Until the end of his term, there he’ll sit, canary feathers sticking out of his mouth, Cheshire Cat grin on his face.  And there no way to stop public comment on the issue since the County has made it clear that system-gaming is allowed for certain kinds of people, and that is a move that can only continue to anger many citizens (and county staff) who feel that this game has been gaming them.

So there we are, week after week, the dead rat on the dais and it smells and everyone has to move their papers and coffee cups around it and keep a sharp eye out for members of the public who, at any given moment, can slip in a stealthy dead-rat reference that gob-smacks the Board right in their Big Boy Pants, and so eyes roll and everyone thinks, “Jeeze, I didn’t sign on for this crap,” and then looks at the clock, counting the hours until lunch.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Take Two Aspirins and Call The Chargemaster in the Morning

Calhoun's Cannons for March 1, 2013

If you want to make your head explode, pick up a copy of the March 4th one-topic special edition of Time magazine. Steven Brill spent 7 months researching and writing "Bitter Pill," and by the end of the article, you will have no head.

Brill noted that people who "work in the health care industry and those who argue over health care policy seem inured to the [sticker] shock [of high medical bills.] When we debate health care policy, we seem to jump right to the issue of who should pay the bills, blowing past what should be the first question: Why exactly are the bills so high?"

And the answer to that, as Brill found out, lies in the magical realm of made up Smoke & Mirrors, an imaginary place presided over by the Great and Powerful Chargemaster, the ephemeral but very real price setter to be found hiding in the attic of every hospital.  He's the guy -- a telephone-sized aggregate of made-up prices, actually -- who invents charges for every single thing on your hospital bill.   

Imagine, if you will, a creepy guy with endless greed and larceny in his soul, green eye-shade over his eyes, sitting in front of a computer who, without rhyme or reason, makes up numbers that have two distinct qualities: 1) they are disconnected from actual, real costs and 2), they are deliberately set higher than reality or adequate profit would require so that no matter how much they're discounted or manipulated, they will still remain high enough to create wonderfully obscene profits for the hospital and especially its CEO. And if they're paid in full by some hapless patient, well, that's just pure gravy on top of pure gold.

It's a business model Midas would love.  A write-your-own ticket Win-Win for the growing Big Pharma, Big Health Insurance, Big Hospitals, Big Medical Care Industries and lose-lose for the citizens. The Chargemaster  decides that you, the patient, will be billed $4.50 for a generic aspirin. Or $12.75. Doesn't matter which number is used, the higher the better since it's all fungible to him.  And if you can't pay, you go bankrupt.  If you have health insurance, your policy will pay and then raise insurance premiums on you and everyone else to cover the made up cost.  All of which explains why Americans pay "27% more than we would spend if we spent the same per capita as other developed countries, even after adjusting for the relatively high per capita income in the U.S. vs. those other countries."

And yet our health outcomes are worse than other "civilized" countries and our system, as created and driven by the Chargemaster, is heading the country into bankruptcy -- it is a business model that simply isn't sustainable, primarily because it's disconnected from reality and driven by greed -- the same forces that run housing bubbles and still run Wall Street.  And we know how well that worked out for all of us.

Yet Congress (and the huge, well-funded lobbying arm of The Great & Powerful Chargemaster) are working overtime to deflect the discussion from WHY over to Who will pay, as in, Let's decide who we push off the cliff first -- poor people or Granny.

Which is the wrong question.  It's the Why that will stop this train from going off the cliff and taking all of us with it. Case in point: WHY does the VA get drugs for their clients at a much lower cost than the rest of us?  Right.  They negotiate with Big Pharma and take advantage of price breaks for economies of scale.  So, Why doesn't Medicare do the same?  Because Congress passed a law forbidding them from doing that.  Can you guess who financed the lobbying effort?  Right, it wasn't your Grandma. But it does explain why Grandma is going broke paying for her overpriced meds. 

The one exception in this race to the cliff is Medicare.  Medicare doesn't pay the Chargemaster's made up prices.  It has it's own, reality-based metrics.  And while Conservative Pols (fully financed by the health care industry) decry "socialized medicine" and demand it be privitized, Medicare's reality-based pricing offers one fix that can begin to bend our imploding health care system -- lower the Medicare enrollment age to include more, younger members and suddenly, you not only increase the economies of scale for your members, you increase competitive (reality based) pricing from competing private insurance and increase the pressure on hospitals to have a little chat with their Chargemaster in the attic. 

That's only one fix of many excellent suggestions that Brill presents in his extraordinary article, fixes that are needed to avert a complete meltdown of our present unsustainable system. But none of those changes can begin until more voters begin to follow the money and ask the Chargemaster in the attic (and your Congressman) the one simple question  that neither wants to answer: Why?

Monday, February 25, 2013


That's what Tribune columnist Bob Cuddy called the Board of Supervisor meetings -- Trollosphere, "that shadowy online world where sad, twisted losers project the frustrations of their failed lives onto normal people by insulting them viciously in comment sections on the Internet."

Bob forgot to note that in real Troll-World, the sad, twisted losers are almost always "anonymous," whereas the people who earned Bob's ire were standing at the BOS podium during Public Comment and had identified themselves.  And while their Trollish comments aren't being broadcast via radio, their faces are on camera for online streaming of the meetings.  So, hardly "anonymous."

But, yes, according to Bob's March 24th column,"Supervisors beset with a toxic air"
(  )  the Board is now further mired into a deeper mud puddle, so it's become the gift that keeps on giving; to board watchers and columnists, at least.

Underlying the grumbling ill-will is, of course, the remnants of the Hideous Sewer Wars.  Over that we added the often  ridiculous spectacle of Adam Hill and his intemperate temper issues,  followed by Bruce Gibson's, uh,  lady-friend debacle, followed by the election of Debbie Arnold who waltzed in to immediately challenge the Old Gentleman's Club of too cozy logrolling committeeship/chair appointments.  Which got the old boys huffing like Senator Cleghorn Foghorn --"Now, now,  li'l Lady, I suggest ya'all are new here so ah think y'all need to take a seat ovah there an' keep quiet 'till y'all can learn how we'all do thangs in this heah chamber." 

Which surely didn't endeared the Board to Ms. Arnold or Ms. Arnold to the Board. Cuddy thinks that there's "a lot of blame to go around.  Gibson's behavior and Adam Hill's sharp tongue are factors. But a significant cause of the venom is clearly the behavior of Arnold and the enraged people who back her."  Cuddy also adds, "The Arnold crowd has significant policy difference with Gibson, Hill and more regulation-oriented board members and staff." 

Which raises an immediate question:  What evidence does Cuddy offer that Arnold's backers (who have significant policy differences) are "enraged?" I couldn't find any in his column; perhaps that will be forthcoming.

Meanwhile, what seemed to get Cuddy's goat about last Tuesday's meeting was two-fold: Tom Salmon, who has demonstrated intemperate temperament issues of his own, got up during public comment and  referred to Gibson's girlfriend/aide as a "whore" and a "prostitute," and Chairman Teixeira tried to shush Salmon (good luck with that) which prompted several Los Ososian Sewerites into hollering about free speech during Public Comment.  Sigh.

After which, Cuddy reports, Debbie Arnold thanked Salmon for his comments, "assuring him that each of the five supervisory offices is autonomous and that the inhabitants therein conduct themselves differently," thereby attempting to pull her skirt hems away from the Gibson mud pile.  While everyone else sat on their hands wishing Gibson into the corn field and, I'm guessing, rolling their eyes like trapped feral cats.

Well, what else can anyone expect?  Those three minutes of public comment have always been often dangerous [but powerfully protected]  I.E.Ds. in the hands of the crazy, the disgruntled, the bone-pickers, the furious, the righteous and the concerned.  And the power of that I.E.D. is fueled by divisive issues and/or disgraceful behavior by those in power.  In this case, the burr under the public's saddle is Supervisor Gibson' bad behavior which was followed by his successfully gaming the system to suit his needs -- the public (and his fellow Supervisors) be damned.  There's nothing like it for fueling fury and for creating chronically hostile Board meetings, since the burr remains firmly under the saddle and fellow Supervisors are stuck with keeping silent, (and incurring public criticism for that silence) or speaking out (and having Bob Cuddy accuse them of  "poking a finger in [a fellow board members's] eye). 

Truly a disagreeable set of Hobson's Choices, all of which turns the BOS into TrollVille. And The Gibson Problem will remain in place until he and/or his girlfriend/aide resign, which will happen when pigs fly.  One thing for sure is this: Both Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson have publicly demonstrated they are not in control of themselves, are blind to the iron Rule of Caesar's Wife that comes with public office, and, as a result, have showed extremely  poor judgement. If past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior, I think the public has a perfect right to consider, question, reference past behavior whenever a supervisor is considering and/or voting on some complex, contentious issue that requires good judgement, since that vote (and that judgement) will affect the public.  

Meantime, our BOS is in for some lively times.  Especially with the new so-called "enraged" Arnold crowd . . . whoever those people might be . . . joining the usual suspects. . Keep your seat belts fastened.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Your Sunday Poem

This from the Feb 11 New Yorker by W.S. Merwin.

To These Eyes

You only ones
I ever knew
you that have shown me
what I came to see
from the beginning
just as it was leaving
you that showed me the faces
in the realms of summer
the rivers the moments of gardens
all the roads that led here
the smiles of recognition
the silent rooms at nightfall
and have looked through the glasses
my mother was wearing when she dies
you that I have never seen
except nowhere in a mirror
please go on showing me
faces you led me to
daylight the bird moment
the leaves of morning
as long as I look
hoping to catch sight
of what has not yet been seen

Monday, February 18, 2013

Where's My KYNS?

Calhoun's Cannons for Feb 18, 2013

Woa.  Here today, gone tomorrow.  One day I'm listening to our county's only progressive talk radio, KYNS, 1340 AM, and the next day, instead of Ed Schultz or Tom Hartman, up pops HEADLINENEWSALLTHENEWSMORENEWS!NEW!NEWS!EVENMORENEWSHEADLINES! rat-a-tat-tat being shouted with crashy bangs and blurts of music designed, I presume, to keep a drowsy driver awake by goosing him every few seconds with blasts of noise. "News" out of context, mostly drivel, pretending to be just-the-facts, but if you listen carefully to the often inane questions the two "hosts" ask of their various brief "guests," you'll get a whiff of Fox-y "news" spin, not just in the questions asked but in the follow-up questions NOT asked.

I looked at my car radio in shock and said, What the hell? Bill Benica's show did come on at noon, as usual, but there followed the creepily amazing Roy Masters, host of "Advice Line," billed as America's first conservative talk radio host.  With his cheesy fake-sounding quasi-British accent, he "counseled" various hapless, clueless callers by spouting some weird amalgam of Come to Jesus/Salvation/Zen Meditation gobblygook.  And when it was clear the caller was having trouble understanding what in the hell this guy was getting at, he would insult them and tell them they knew nothing, were hopeless and to go away.

At first I thought Roy and his "Advice Line" show was a  SNL parody with Christopher Walken playing the addled, phony guru.  But, no.  According to Roy's website, he's been at this for years, though you'd never, know it.  If you want a perfect example of the term, "blither," as in "This man is a blithering idiot," tune in Roy.  Of course, there's other possibilities than mere "blithering;"  ADD/ADH?  Senile? I challenge anyone to listen to the show and tell me just what he's peddling because it sure isn't helping the hapless. Confusing the confused, maybe, but "helping?"  Oh, dear me no.

On the other hand, if laughter is the best medicine, then Roy's your guy.

Which is more than I can say for one of the weirdest shows on the station -- the Treasure Ivan Show which consists of odd 60+ year-old kiddie songs/music from old radio/ TV programs that appears on Saturday and Sunday morning.  The program and its hyper-cheery host is the kind of offering that causes mothers to draw their kids close and say, "Pay no attention to that man," while hustling them out the door as fast as possible. Which raises the question: Who is that show aimed at?  I can't imagine any kid being interested in re-runs of Howdy-Doody, and if the show's aimed at nostalgic baby-boomers, what kind of old geek would spend an hour or two listening to obscure old kiddie radio shows?  Except the creepy "Uncle" your mother warned you about?

Local Tribune reporter, Bob Cuddy wrote a column on the KYNS changes and noted that the station management did not return his calls, so to date nobody knows why they changed formats.  Loss of advertisers? Poor ratings?  Cuddy did quot advertiser Michael Morin of Morin Brothers Automotive who said a station salesperson told him "KYNS was shooting for a more affluent audience."

Affluent audience? As in "highly educated, affluent?"  Blithering Roy?  Creepy Treasure Ivan?  Really?

The Tribune's website does offer a possible key to the interesting "problem" of AM radio going all Rush Limbaugh/conservative, even in our county, which is over half-full of highly educated, latte-sipping, tree-hugging progressives: demographics.  Talk AM radio is primarily conservative in content across the country.  Why?  Well, Limbaugh and his ilk's primary listeners are mostly older, blue-collar males (i.e. NOT the highly educated or affluent). The young, the educated, the affluent don't listen to AM radio.  They get/buy their information/entertainment on smart phones, Sirius radio, or streaming or podcasts.  Or as one on-line commenter so aptly put it, "Who cares if conservative talk radio is the only gig in town.  Their audience is old fogies listening to their AM/FMs with antennas."

Can't you feel the sneering "eeeuuuuuu" that should go before the word "antennas?," 

So, there you are.  If your listeners are old (poor) fogies with antennas, you won't get the high-end advertisers hoping to sell high-end things to highly educated/wealthy listeners.  And without a good chunk of money you can't buy quality (progressive) programing.  You end up with Blithering Roy. Or Rush Limbaugh/Glen Beck whose ratings numbers are dwindling as their listeners die off, fearfully clutching their antennas, awash in a rising multicultural tide. 

So another "progressive" AM station bites the dust, which means I'm back to playing musical chairs by bouncing to KVEC 920 very early in the morning for King Harris' local news, then tune in Bill Benica at noon for more local commentary, and to Dave Congalton's show for more local news and guests, but for the rest, it's our own public radio (which is doing "progressive" talk radio at noon and after).  And, on the weekends, considering the state of my garden and home, I never miss "Garden Compass" or the  "At Home" repair show. As for the in between, it's back to various FM stations, bouncing between the classic rock, country/western or classical. 

True, I'm an old foggie with an AM antenna, but my radio still comes with a "dial," so when a station offers stuff I don't want, I'm gone, baby, gone.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Your Sunday Poem

This from James Tate's new collection, "Selected Poems," Wesleyan University Press, 1991.

Teaching the Ape to Write Poems

They didn't have much trouble
teaching the ape to write poems:
first they strapped him into the chair,
then tied the pencil around his hand
(the paper had already been nailed down).
Then Dr. Bluespire leaned over his shoulder
and whispered into his ear:
"You look like a god sitting there.
Why don't you try writing something?"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

State of the Disunion

It was really sweet; President Obama earnestly running through his Wish List – preschool classes for every child, investments  in R&D, bridges repaired, people put back to work, a budget balanced on both smart cuts and smart taxes – while behind him Boehner sat stone-faced, thinking to himself, “When pigs fly.”

So, the country will get the sequester it doesn’t want or need, draconian and pointless cuts that will harm both the economy and real people, because the most important thing to Republicans is that Obama fail.  The country’s welfare no long matters to The Grand Old Party, because it has turned into the New Confederacy and is in full Gotterdammerung mode – By God, If we have to burn the whole damned country down to get rid of all those liberals and negroes and women and Mexicans, then strike the match! 

Which likely explains why some right wing doofus Congressman invited White Trash Rocker, Ted Nugent, the guy who said the president should suck on his gun, to be his guest and sit in the balcony looking like a sulking sophomore. All that was missing was Ted wearing a white hood, waving a Confederate flag and swilling a jug of ‘shine. Talk about “messaging.”

Speaking of which, viewers could watch the repeated  spectacle of half of the chamber (Democrats) standing up to applaud  calls for things involving equality, fairness, justice while  half the chamber (Republicans) all sat stone-faced and cross armed, thereby sending out the visual message that they think all the nation’s kids should just go die, women should continue to be battered, gays must remain second-class citizens and the victims of gun violence can all just go to hell.

No wonder Republican strategists keep wringing their hands and worrying that maybe the Party just needs to tweak its message?  Uh, don’t think that’d do it. The last election proved that Americans got their message and said, No thanks.  So, tweaking won’t do it.  What the  GOP needs is a new message instead of repeating the same old one.

Which Republican spokesman, Marco Rubio, the GOP’s Great Brown Hope, attempted to do in his official reply to Obama’s State of the Nation speech, a follow-up event that usually turns out to be The Place Where Young Pols Go To Die On Camera. 

And poor Rubio was no exception.  He’s a bright young thing, but even he ended up parroting the same old radical Republican crap,  contradicting himself into thematic incoherence, sweating like he was cutting cane under a hot Cuban sun, and awkwardly reaching off camera for a water bottle.  In short, he pulled a Bobby Jindal.

But, he’ll recover.  He’s got the backing of the old guard GOP, will have plenty of money to run for whatever he wants to run for. 

And so the nation lurches along for two more years of poisonous politics, after which, Americans will have another chance to take a look at their elected representatives and decide if they’re sick of these Party of NO jerks or want to double-down on more gridlock and political extremists and so get themselves and the nation even more dysfunction. 

In short, business as usual.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Holy Walkout, For Real

I titled my February 5th  "Cannon, "Holy Walkout," and suggested that in a just world, every non-complicit Catholic in the world should walk out the front door of the church until the Pope agreed to open the secrets and begin a sweeping investigation and reform of his molesting church.

But instead of the faithful walking out, it turns out that it's the the Pope himself,  Benedict XVI, former Cardinal Ratzinger, the Grand Inquisitor, the keeper of the secrets, who will walk out the Vatican's door Feb. 28th on his shiny red, butter-soft Italian leather shoes rather than be carried out feet first on a bier.

Historic on many levels. But if anyone is expecting some vast reform to result when the church hierarchy arrives in Rome in all their pomp and self-created glory to select another Pope, don't hold your breath.  The one driving force for the church has always been and still is the protection and survival of . . . the church.  By any means necessary.  So, it'll be business as usual-- vote trading, power politics, schmoozing, unseemly strong-arming, until the puff of white smoke from the locked room signals that . . . well, nothing has changed.

Meantime, back in L.A., the Times reported that [retired in good standing] Cardinal Mahony had secretly "borrowed" money from the faithful's in-perpeturity burial fund to pay off the lawsuits caused by molesting, child-raping priests. It was a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, only in this case, the Paul in question was the burial fund intended solely to maintain catholic cemetaries.

Whaaaat?  You're outraged?  Hey, the fleeced are dead so they're not going to complain, though their relatives are pitching a fit.  But even "borrowing" from the dead apparently won't raise enough money, so the  church has also embarked on a new fund-raising campaign to help pay off it's legal debts. And, believe it or not, a some of the people interviewed for the story, intend to donate.  Go figure.

As for me, I'm still puzzling over what kind of catchy phrase the folks running the fund-raising campaign will come up with.  Maybe something like, "Having the dead pay for molesting priests -- priceless."  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Your Sunday Poem

This by Jack Gilbert, another of my favorite poets, from "Collected Poems," published by Alfred A Knopf, (2012) shortly before his death. 

Seen From Above

In the end, Hannibal walked out of his city
saying the Romans wanted only him.  Why should
his soldiers make love to their swords?
He walked out alone, a small figure in
the great field, his elephants dead at
the bottom of the Alps' crevasses.  So might we
go to our Roman death in triumph.  Our love
is of marble and large tawny roses,
in the endless harvests of our defeat.
We have slept with death all our lives.
It will grind out its graceless victory,
but we can limp in triumph over the cold
intervening sand.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Holy Walkout

Calhoun's Cannons for March 5, 2013

The worst crimes were dared by a few, willed by more, and tolerated by all.

In a just world, every Catholic and non-molesting priest and nun in the world would walk out of the church doors and stay out until the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith agrees to start a publicly transparent, world-wide investigation and open the child abuse files.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has the complete paper record of the systematic cover-up by the church of molesting priests and the decades-long obstruction of justice.  So The Congregation is uniquely suited for just such an investigation both because it has all the evidence in those files (which it kept buried for years) and because it has conducted many, many such investigations to  root out sin and sinners throughout Europe.  After all, in the 16th century, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which  was also known as The Inquisition, was a very effective tool to root out and punish the wicked. Plus, as an added bonus in seeing justice done, the former head of the Congregation, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the man who knew all the secrets for years, is now Pope Benedict XVI.

Who better than the one man with access to all the evidence and the power to see that justice is finally done?

You're laughing.  Yes, of course. The days of righteousness in a religious organization that has systematically corrupted itself from the lowliest priest up to bejeweled and red-shoe clad Pope himself is over.  Instead, as a template of behavior, we have to settle for  the arrogant Cardinal Mahony, proud master of the enormous, glittering Los Angeles Cathedral that looms over the number 10 freeway.

For years, Mahony fought a rear-guard action to protect priests, protect the documents, all the smoking guns while making conciliatory noises in public.  Until a recent court ruling by a courageous judge forced the church to disgorge the beans.  Twelve thousand pages worth of beans, now posted for all to see, names named, paper trails heading through Mahony, up the line and straight for the Vatican.  The public stench got so bad that even though Mahony had recently been retired with all honors to a nice cushy life, still a priest in good standing (?), his superior, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, felt he had to publicly censure his predecessor.

Did Mahony acknowledge his sin and slink away to spend the rest of his life in humble and sincere atonement, perhaps working anonymously in some poverty-stricken corner of the  globe as penance for his sins?  He did not.  Instead, he went to his blog to whine about being unfairly picked on, defend his record of being in the forefront of the reforms (while his lawyers battled behind the scenes for years to keep the real record hidden), and then go on to reproach the reproaching  Archbishop Gomez  by reminding him that even Gomez ignored the issue for years himself.  It was all whining pots and finger-pointing kettles in a filthy kitchen that stank to high heaven.

So much for righteousness.  So much for accountability.  So much for justice when all the chickens have been eaten and the feathers buried deep in Vatican vaults, safe -- for now -- from secular law by means of a claim of  sovereign "statehood" for themselves, a dubious "statehood" crafted out of a special deal Pope Pius XI cut with the fascist dictator, Mussolini in 1929.   

Well, lay down with dawgs, git up with fleas.  In a just world, this structurally and internally infested cur would be brought to heel.  But we don't live in a just world.  We live in a world of perverted power, self-serving omerta, corrupting money, corroding apathy, fierce superstition and fear, all bending the arc of justice away from heaven.

Jesus surely weeps, but on this issue, only the Catholic laity and the non-molesting priests and nuns have the power to stop the need for His tears. There is the front door of the church.  It only takes one step.  

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Your Sunday Poem

Considering the gun debate raging on outside the doors, this poem by Billy Collins, from his book, "Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes," seems apt. This book is available at your local bookstore in paperback, as are most of Collins' works.  Buy a book of poetry today. Make a poet happy.

Another Reason Why I don't 
Keep a Gun in the House

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.