Mercy, Pity, and Abilene: They Ain't Just fer Tumbleweeds

In which the poet gives the last word to Blake

This sedentary Coloradan has recently spent some time in Texas, from Amarilla to Austin to Houston to Abilene and back.  Our son has recently moved to Houston.  

Friendlies and soft-bodied folks abound, as do lakes, rivers, and bridges.  

Still, I’ve been mulling how to paraphrase my overall perceptions in one pithy, all inclusive sentence.  I’ve decided on: 

They don’t call it the lone star state fer nuthin.

Though naturally I haven’t been able to resist one small stinger of a poem: 

Home of the Brave

You can change the laws
but you can’t change me.
We who believe 
in the land of the free 
are free 
to poison honeybees.  

In a strange coincidence, while deep in the heart of the road, I received an email that a lengthy review of my work had quite suddenly appeared in Borderlands, an Austin-based journal.  We walked into a local bookstore near our rental cottage, and picked up a copy.  The author, Jeff Beck, Dean of Graduate Studies at Weiss, who had contacted me a couple of years ago for an interview, was far too kind in his lengthy assessment of the work.  One is grateful one’s glaring limitations were only worth a sentence or two:

Meanwhile, following a recent conversation with my son, I’ve been mulling the nuanced differences between pity and mercy.

Whatever their subtle differences and intersections, both seem to have developed the habits of tumbleweeds.  

If mercy were 
a bird
(of which nobody 

had seen,
and everyone 
had heard),

wonder what song 
she’d sing. 

Likely a mix of Auden, Hafiz, and Simone Weill.  With a Tory Amos undertone.  In other words, utter madness.

Popular culture is a place where pity is called compassion, flattery is called love, propaganda is called knowledge, tension is called peace, gossip is called news, and auto tune is called singing.    -- cris jaml

What is the real battle raging, asks 
the aloe vera mole. 

The answer I suspect 
is three-fold,
replied the yeti, 
the black swan,
and the floating flake of gold.

The battle with the self.
The battle with the world.
The battle with the mystery.  

The eavesdropping eagle 
said only



Mercy laughed, You have to excuse them -- they suffer from an incurable disability.

What would that be?


-nalini singh


Said the hedgehog by the shed, 
I only partially 
(re tweet me). 

Mercy is the stuff you give to people that don’t deserve it.  (joyce meyer)

Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent.    (terry goodkin)

Night is a time of rigor, but also of mercy. (bashevis singer)

You don’t write a novel out of sheer pity any more than you blow a safe out of a vague longing to be rich.  A certain ruthlessness and a sense of alienation from society is as essential to creative writing as it is to armed robbery.  
(nelson angren)

Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.  (blake)

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