I don’t like
I don’t like seeing the highways, hotels and supermarkets clogged with Disney commercials. I detest houses with manicured lawns, where the owners will take neighbors to court for non-compliance with trimming of lawns and will wage orchestrated warfare against anything that is perceived as weed, fearing a decline in real estate values.
Then why did I travel to
When the days passed and it became evident that the main reason for the visit failed to materialize, due to some breakdown in communications, a feeling began to creep up on me when I asked myself, “What are we doing here?”
Like an elusive equation with too many missing data, the exact cause of the problems is irrelevant and it remains unsolved. Suffice to say that we were somewhat in the blues in spite of our attempts to try, rather desperately, to make the best of a bleak situation.
Though being caught in
There was guaranteed proximity to supermarkets, in addition to McDonald’s, Burger King, Arby’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell. But surprisingly, there were also remnants of another Florida-mysterious oases with lakes, swamps, mangroves, palm trees and lush vegetation.
We visited those sites, teeming with wildlife, rather than succumbing to Disney World, and we were able to view some true sightseeing wonders for prices far below those charged for entrée to the amusement parks.
Then, on our last vacation day, a miracle happened. We saw a sign that said HELICOPTER RIDES $15, and we drove in. A young man about age twenty-the same age as José’s son-stood at the entrance. We thought he was an attendant, or a passenger waiting for the next ride. As he addressed us in Spanish, it soon became clear that he was hoping that somebody would invite him for a ride. He said that he could pay part of the cost, and that it would actually be to our advantage, since the ride with an extra person would be a few minutes longer.
José and I looked at each other, quickly guessing each other’s thoughts-“Let’s take the kid for a ride.” When you get good vibes, you must respond. I felt intuitively what went on in José’s mind. His son had not shown up, but someone else had.
The young man introduced himself as Alan. His name, in Spanish, was Alejandro, and he was from
We arranged that he would contribute five dollars, and I would pay the rest. We got into the copter and off we were heading for the skies.
The sun shone brilliantly on the city below. The McDonalds and Burger Kings had lost their ugly banality and had become part of a large toy box, with patches of green and countless lakes, havens for
The helicopter made a swing sideways and Alejandro, sitting next to the pilot, looked back at us, delight shining in his face. He asked the pilot where
You don’t get a long ride for $15, but it’s the quality, not the quantity, that counts. When we got out, Alejandro thanked us profusely. He said that he had no place to go, but that he received meals at the nearby church that leases part of its property to the helicopter business.
Even before I wanted to give the kid his five dollars back, José had the same thought and pulled out a five-spot from his wallet. Amazingly, we were on the same wavelength.
Was that the Discovery wavelength? Maybe so. Instead of leaving a bad taste from the resentment of a vacation spoiled by breakdowns of communication, something totally unexpected had happened: we had made friends with somebody who for a few moments in our lives had become a son to José; to me, the son I never had.
It’s the kind of inspirational discovery when suddenly light through a stained glass window yields a kaleidoscopic effect that one sometimes associates with the insight that something very significant is happening. For only a few moments, you realize that your expectations have blinded you to the unpredictable parts of the equation you were looking for, and without which you were unable to solve anything or to make sense out of it.
Call it what you want. If you believe, like I do, that God lives in all of us, you recognize the existence of a truth that was always there-our connectedness as human beings.
We didn’t invite our new friend to come along with us, although we both gave it thought. We realized that it was better to leave the experience for what it was: a few moments of intense sharing, and a discovery that life is beautiful-even in
See the video "Helicopter ride" by going to the heading "Videos"
The story occurred 9/13/’07
©2007 Gilbert Creutzberg
The kids say “Trick ‘r Treat,” for Halloween is here.
Some people say it each day of the year.
October 31, 1955
The sunken forest
The light is dim. The heavy scent of leaves
and rotting wood pervades the air. I stroll
like in a dream. The cries of birds galore
is everywhere. The path seems without goal.
I pick some berries, and their taste is sweet…
I wander on, through swamps, through bush, through reeds,
until I finally have reached the bay,
and, through the woods, the path me backwards leads.
This is my Id. Here lies preserved my Self,
a part of me, still full of vital life
and raw emotions, dormant in its strife.
How neatly it is kept in place! How long
before this vestige of primeval nature is destroyed?
How many years, or weeks, or hours to be enjoyed?
Some time ago
the smell of my body suddenly changed.
Before, I used to love
the odor of my armpits.
Now, it was different.
I stank like a tiger in heat
or worse, like an old goat.
My body had become that of a stranger.
Why did I stink?
Had I eaten something wrong
or was I getting old?
I hated this awful fucking smell!
Then, just as mysteriously
as it had begun, it disappeared.
I do not know if I smell different
than I did before, to other people,
but I love the odor of my armpits again,
and every once in a while
I put my fingers there and bring them to my nostrils
and I know
I’m me, and I feel happy.
A Farewell Note
(To Whom It May Concern)
As I’m finishing these charts
with love and affection,
I’m blowing some farts
in your direction
I walked through the woods
Left my clothes behind
at the waterfall.
I must have walked
more than a mile.
Someone met me:
“It is against the law
to walk here
without proper attire.
May I see your I.D.?”
(Maybe he thought I was crazy.)
I told him I had none.
I felt happy to be without I.D.,
to be just me,
walking naked in the woods.
I smiled as the man disappeared,
a vision from a forgotten dream.
Of course, that word is never used
by liberal white folks
who read the New York Times.
It’s a forbidden word.
But then, I wish I too could use it
the way my black friends do –
without a trace of ugliness,
as an endearment, or in jest,
a word with warmth and gentle sound,
with feelings of a common bond.
I envy them.
I cannot say it
without sounding phoney,
I think it sometimes,
Like a whisper in my mind.
Then, rather much to my surprise,
some of my friends say jokingly to me,
I take it as a compliment:
I have become an Oreo cookie in reverse.
Published in “Our Twentieth Century’s Greatest Poems,” 1982
Obama the Great Dude
O bam bam bam
O bam bam bam
(Refrain:) (possibly in E flat Major)
Barack Obama, yo, great dude,
You give us hope and that is good.
Hope for a better tomorrow,
Without war and without sorrow.
We’ll work with you for change.
Obama, it won’t be strange
That with you as our captain and chief,
There’s hope, that is our belief!
(Lyrical section, possibly in B major)
Barack, you have a vision we share
Of a country with people who really care,
United in making your dream come true
Of a better world for us and for you,
For us, for our children, for the earth, where we live –
You’ll make it come true with the hope that you give.
(Return to refrain in E Major)
Submitted to "Obama for America"