Sunday, February 28, 2016

Divided or United? by LTBC Poet laureate, Prof. Keith Gilbert

Our Nation of some 325 Million
are deeply divided on many issues …
So, are we still a United States?

Our Nation is a curious quilt … indeed,
An amalgam of multiply-cultured
Colored threads … interwoven into a
Sinewy, random pattern…

Our Quilt is so spectrally & spiritually
In-homogeneous as to defy description …but
Note:  our quilt has a triad of Unique Properties

                Our tightly-woven fabric is super strong,
                Yielding warmth & security to its People …
                Yet our Quilt is replete with wrinkles …
                                - Prodigious power & wealth of the 1%
                                - Ubiquitous drugs & crime
                                - unabated conflicts with far-flung “enemies,” etc

             But note … an obvious foible in our Quilt is
             A gaping hole at its center – indeed,
             Our beautiful Quilt is so polarized that
             It has no center!

So, pray tell, what elixirs bend our Quilt?
Again, we enjoy three powerful epoxies …
Faith, Freedom, & Hope …

1)       Our Nation is one of Formidable Faith …
   A Superior Being provides a Radiant Laser
   To guide & nurture us
2)      Our Constitution ensures enduring Freedoms,
   Including Speech, Religion, Press, Petition, and
   The Right to Bear Arms
3)      Our Faith & Liberties Engender Hope …
  Belief in a Chance to Live a good Life
  And seek a better one

So this is why our Unique Quilt unites us
even without a Center
due to Extreme Political Polarization

Yet the Tenacious trio of Goods -
Our Faith & Indelible Freedoms engender
Patriotism and enable Hope.

Though our Nation will continue to debate
Much, the enduring Health and Strength of our
Uniquely-woven Quilt assures we
Will forever remain United.

-          K. Gilbert, Jan 2016

The Longest Road by Philip Caputo

Eleven road scholars arrived at the northern end of Dalton Road and took up residence at the Aurora Hotel, the only 4-star in Deadhorse.  They ate everything on the large banquet table, and then trucked on to examine WHAT (What Holds America Together):

Jack:  I enjoyed it primarily because it reminded me of our family’s Road Adventures – it inspired me to press on.  Not a classic, but a lot of fun.  B+

Dick J:  Same grade; the author writes well, but did not follow through on his stated purpose.  My mind wanders as he writes – where will he go next?  The best part was what was perhaps made up:  the conflict in Anacortes.  B+

Rob E:  I liked it a lot.  I especially enjoy the Great Plains more than the Rockies.  It makes me want to go back and drive them again.  I like the travel books:  Blue Highways (traveling on the back roads) is very good.  There was some expose not too long ago that a good portion of Travels With Charlie was made up.  But the story of the black kid walking through a white school and receiving all the taunts hit me strong.  I liked the stories; the author was cynically looking for angry people. I give it an A- for memories.

Dick Arms:  First, that is an interesting concept:  what holds America together?  The author came across as very negative – not the same politics as mine.  His writing was passable, not great.  I presented this idea at Toastmasters, and got better ideas.  America is unique – a unique political system or a belief system – and a Constitution.  Caputo didn’t hit on that idea.  B-  Just a travel book.

Bob Woods:  To begin with, I don’t like driving long distances.  The book is harmless enough.  “What Holds America Together’ is just an excuse.  B+

Mike:  Why do we read?  I think to learn, and to entertain ourselves.  This book had both.  I enjoyed what the author had to teach about places, cultures, people.  I was entertained by the on-going post 9-11 street corner in Anacortes, WA.  Does an excellent job of his descriptions, always something new.  A

Charlie:  This guy is any writer, who took a vacation, wrote about it – didn’t get his goal, lightweight:  C

Ken G:  I found it often tedious and boring, other times interesting and humorous.  Not any profound conclusion as to WHAT.  B-

Bob S:  I have the same feeling about the premise:  he didn’t analyze why America holds together.  The other part I didn’t care for:  Kit Carson was an active participant in history; Jack Kerouac was an active participant in our Culture – he defined the beat generation and the hippie generation.  It’s true, this was a charming book, well written.  I didn’t find it illuminating.  It did not have gravitas or significance.  B 

Keith:  I already mentioned that the author failed his mission.  C  Here is mine:

Ron Bousek:  There was a lack of summary but he reported what he found.  I liked the road trip with some history along the way.  What holds the country together (as defined by Erika at the end) was Hope – hope that things that are bad will get better.  The writing was not first rate.  A-

... and here is what the author said about his own book:  
I think you’ll find The Longest Road very different from A Rumor of War. It’s a semi-serious, semi-light-hearted travelogue. It doesn’t provide an answer to the question, What holds this vast, diverse country together. But it presents the thoughts that the people I met along the way have on that issue.