Friday, August 26, 2016

Mardi Gras We Miss You

Mardi Gras Adieu 

Mardi Gras never thought of herself as a dog let alone a poodle. When she first came into my life 16 almost 17 years ago I had Mariah, an alpha German Shepherd. She immediately appointed herself boss. And after my head injury, even my boss. She raised Magique, the labradoodle, and trained her to my unspoken specifications. After all, Mariah had trained her before her departure.

Together Mardi and Magique became my photography dogs. The hopped joyfully in jeeps or trucks. They knew not to chase and to stand quietly when I stopped on a walk and raised my camera. They ran through the woods but always returned when called.



Four years ago Mardi seemed to lose it. Episodes of not coming when called or seemingly getting lost on walks signaled a liver dysfunction. Our vet prescribed vitamin 3 and milk thistle. She immediately responded and for the remaining years of her long life because the dog she had been. But still there were occasional bouts of disorientation. Magique appointed herself leader of the pack and caretaker of her older friend. I could ask Magique to find Mardi if she went astray on a walk and she would; leading her back to me.

A couple years ago walking closer to home Mardi vanished. When I asked Magique to find Mardi she ran back down the block and pointed down to the ground. I thought both my loyal companions had lost it. But Magique was right. Mardi had fallen into a crumbling abandoned septic tank. It took the local fire department volunteers to get her out.She danced with joy and gratitude. And thanked her rescuers after first thanking Magique. 




I knew her days were numbered when she no longer wanted to go on the morning walk with Magique and I. She had been my dancing dog and she no longer could dance. But she had taken such good care of me for years and I could not easily let her go. For the last couple of days before I took Mardi on her last journey Magique, appointed caretaker of her friend, would talk to me in the mornings. She can be quite a talker with a wide vocal range. They were protracted tales of woe, but I was slow to get her meaning.

Magique and I now take our walks alone.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Who Will Kneel


Wars depend
upon the 
monuments.

The dead remembered
by the survivors
with cemeteries.

Grave stones
and statues
to continue the myths.

Plaques
which declare
victory real or false

The survivors
must label it
a noble cause.

The few
who remain
bury the dead.

Declare
the dead
have not died in vain.

What if
there was no one
left?

Who then 
would kneel
before the monuments?

Jacqui Binford-Bell
August 2016


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ashes, Ashes It All Fell Down



A wronged witch
of the south
and
A wretched fool
of the north.

Side by side
behind the dais
stood
Toe to toe
Nose to nose.

Arguing their differences
before a hired audience 
fools
Questions and answers
all scripted in double speak.

This cannot end well
The commentators behind the scenes
whispered
One is losing his sanity
The other her mind.

And so as the disenfranchised
watched in growing horror
helpless
To find a way out of the capital
the nation for which it stood burned.

Ashes, ashes it all fell down.

J. Binford-Bell
August 2016

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Once It Was All About African Violets

Euphorbia take over

First it was the dying geranium which took over my small pullman kitchen in my studio apartment my final year of college. It won me over by living and even thriving on my neglect. What can you expect from a senior in college?

And then Aunt Zelma turned me on to African Violets. Small things which bloom all the time and come in infinite color and variety. But easy to move in boxes in the back of the camper shell on the pickup. She had shown me how to propagate new ones from a single leaf and so I became a leaf thief. In North Carolina I had over 75 African Violets. In the summers they lived on plastic shelves on my wonderful south facing veranda and I watered them with a garden hose. Something my neighbors never grew tired of telling me would kill them or at the very least spot their leaves. Never did either.

Came time to move I only took ten or so. One for Aunt Zelma and the rest I gave away to those friends and neighbors which promised to raise them right. 


My Kansas City town house days was my caving period. In lieu of drapes I acquired tall and leafy plants I could peek through but none of those outside could see in.  I am not sure I remember them even. It was an eclectic group provided by my mother, the green thumb, and sales at the local nurseries. Among them were my first Euphorbia. They seemed to do well when I did not water them. I was climbing up to the glass ceiling and hadn't a lot of time to spare. And when the company I worked for moved me the mover gave me wardrobe boxes and brown paper and showed me how to pack them. He assured me they would handle even 30 days in storage if necessary. And they did. I was sold. 

But my next move was mid winter and to a colder clime and they didn't make it. I was moved four times that year and could not bear to lose more plants. But when I moved at last to my new house here in Black Lake I set out to acquire more of the slow growing, thrives on neglect plants. And they took up every window space and even had grow lights were there were no natural lights. Some melted for lack of sun. That is what cactus and euphorbia do. They melt. So I built them a green house. And the survivors thrived.

A friend at a green house told me how to propagate them and other succulents. And soon I was back to my cave period. They covered all the windows until they got too tall to catch the sun and above the sunlight they melted. I moved them to the middle of the room where in some part of each day they could get light. I had, after all, a peaked ceiling 14 feet tall. The tallest was just seven feet. But there was no way to spread out my art projects or reorganize the art on the panels without the prickly plants making their presence know. It was time to let go.


The shorter tall guys
 And so I rehomed four of the biggest. I still have others but they fit the space better. And they opened up space for some of my newer ones which were relegated to corners just to fit in. Including all the jade plants. Gave three of those away last year. Never quite solved the leaf thief tendencies from the African Violet Days.  I have managed to avoid being a crazy cat lady but I think there should be a category of crazy plant lady.


My Three Crown of Thorns with Orchids

Next goal is to not feel I must start a new jade plant from every fallen leaf or find someone or a nursery which wants to buy them all from me.

Monday, August 1, 2016

We Don't Count

Sheep from the Goats

When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.
All the nations will be gathered before him,
and he will separate the people one from another
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will put the sheep on his right 
and the goats on his left.

Matthew 25:31


Butt, baaed the Goat
Why don't we count
among the good?

Please, bleated the Sheep
I thought he made
that perfectly clear.

It is arbitrary, cawed the Crow
Watching it all
from his lofty perch.

Black is evil
And the pure white Dove
A saint.

I know things
about the doves
which are not so pure, he cackled.

Sheep, Goat
Black, White
Red and Blue

Please give me a clue.
The shepherd pleaded
Left or Right.

It matters not, spoke the Raven
Others have chosen
You do not count.

J. Binford-Bell
August 2016

Saturday, July 30, 2016

On A Wing

On a Wing
Photograph by J. Binford-Bell

Icarus flew
Soaring on the early light
lifted by the currents of change
lighted by hope dawning.

 Icarus fell
the sun's rays
melted the wax
of hope.

Icarus fell
to the rigid earth
unyielding reality of status quo
no hope cushioned his landing.

But Icarus
flew
for a time
and they cheered.

J. Binford-Bell
July 2016


Thank you, Senator Bernie Sanders, for giving us hope for at least a brief moment.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Another Option














The college convened
Their duty before them
Validate a monarch
Or preserve
The republic
He would destroy.


Never before
Such a clear choice.
Never before
Such dire consequences
Not either or
But none of the above.

Nobody spoke
They milled around
Like cattle in a stock yard.
Sheep being led
To slaughter
Through a gate of their choosing.

Peter Brown
Someone yelled
Who is he
Another replied.
Me, one of the milling sheep replied
I am Peter Brown.

Who are you?
Several asked in one voice.
Nobody, Peter Brown answered
Red or Blue
The condemned
Wanted to know.

Brown, Peter answered.
Silence reigned
Even the milling ceased
All in favor
A voice in their midst asked
All said aye.

And that is how
We came to live
In this White house
On a green lawn
Peter Brown said
To the yellow press.

Jacqui Binford-Bell
July 2016