May 24, 2018

Angels of Accord Dwelling Midst Residents

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When one is surrounded by the beautiful green trappings of nature and a lovely stream is playing soft music all around, it’s hard to find something about which to be discontented. And with angels of accord dwelling midst residents of this tiny Island nation and salting the very earth with harmony and happiness, it’s difficult to entertain discordant thoughts and negative emotions. Not impossible, understand, just difficult.

Seated in my office at the Doodlebug Digest and lulled by nature’s lullaby, I was just nodding off when Pansy Hastings came in twittering about the high school prom held the night before. “Those kids were so bad! They papered the Post Office, the Country Club, and each other’s houses!”

She demanded I write a scolding editorial for the next edition of the Digest. Now, I had thought what the kids did was kind of cute, but I didn’t dare tell her that. She is a subscriber, after all. She left mollified by little more than my attention.

I had just resumed the reflective nature of my work and was getting comfortable when George McComber came into my office with news of the spread of cowboy poetry to the Pacific Northwest and Alaskan fishing industry. I was rather disinclined to listen, to say the least. After all, it had been conventional wisdom hereabouts that poetry of this type had been reaching the same extinction accorded Neanderthal man, and for about the same reasons. But George brought with him the latest issue of the Smithsonian from which he had learned that commercial fishermen have been infected with the same incurables as has given cattlemen a bad name, making them socially undesirable among polite society.

“The disease has metastasized,” he pointed out. “Where will it strike next? Dentists, well drillers, psychiatrists?”

There was nothing to do but try to read the article about which George was so agitated and which he now held up for me to read three inches from my nose. “What can we do about it?” he demanded.

“As near as I can make out,” I said, trying to focus, “the article says the first convulsion–no, that can’t be right–the first conclave was held as early as 1998, and that participants took inspiration from the annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. Why, golly, they’ve got a fifteen year lead time. Chances are nobody can head ’em off now!”

Listen to what’s written in the Smithsonian: “Just as in the cowboy life, the fisherman’s life is given to long periods alone in which to contemplate his work, his life and the cosmos, so why should it come as any surprise that fishermen are deep?”

“Deep, is it? Deep?” he yelled. Listen to this doggerel:

“According to a fisherman Whose name was Devine,
The world’s a cafeteria–
You get one trip through the line.”

“That’s deep? Someone ought to bury it in cement next to the Titanic. Then it could be said to be deep!” He smiled in the realization that he was taking the matter way too seriously. “Maybe they’re just troubled, deeply troubled.”

He started to leave, but turned back. “You remember that line from Shakespeare, ‘Lowliness is young ambition’s ladder whereunto the climber upward turns his face’? I rather think it should read: ‘Loneliness is young ambition’s ladder.’ We ought to get these guys into leather working or knitting or maybe get them company.”

Now, along about the time George was questioning how “deep” deep is, Brady Carlisle came into the office and planted himself where he could listen. It wasn’t surprising that he found the first unoccupied moment to get his own verbal feet wet.

“Have you guys heard what Republican senators are doing? Trying to stop the judiciary from what they call ‘political activism’ by appointing right wing judges for purposes of political activism!”

You can imagine that sanguinary thoughts inspired by beautiful green trappings and the music of Oak Creek went winging. Any reflections on those angels of accord salting the very earth with harmony and happiness flickered momentarily and went out. I found myself envying that solitude that dominates the lives of fishermen and cowboys. The feeling was so great I thought of writing a poem about it and submitting it to the Smithsonian.

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