Red Teeth of Death

“Her nights are full of the red teeth of death”

–Jim Harrison, “Life,” Dead Men’s Float


Blue is the color of sky and sea,

green are the blades of grass in spring

when the world is born again, and new

shoots raise their heads to the golden sun

whose chariot flies till day is done.

But no less vital is the color red

that drips at birth and stops when we’re dead.

The color that men fear to see

afraid of its power—or destiny.

For though Death may arrive gentle and pale,

her teeth are like spikes, or the sharpest nails.

When she comes for you in the dark of night

she’ll smile–as if to say it’s all right,

but her teeth are scarlet within her grin,

and life is soon gone—after she slowly leans in.



Apparently, Death is a vampire. Who knew? Mysterious messages and some truths come from Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, based on the poetry of Jim Harrison. This is Day 6.

It is also the anniversary of D Day, June 6, 1944, and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy on June 6, 1968. I suppose blood and death is on my mind.



Drinking to Peace

Monday Morning Musings:


Heritage Vineyards by Sheryl Began ©2016


We sit not far from the vines,

in wrought iron chairs round a table,

the summer sun still lights the sky,

engilding the end of the day

so that it glows, golden with promise

of sweet nights and gentle dreams,

a gracious breeze blows.


I face west, watching the sun slowly fall,

but we drink to sunrises and love,

Coeur d’Est, Heart of the East,

wine with flavors and aromas of blackberry, coffee, and pepper,

fruit and spice,

rich, but not too heavy for this June evening

rolled on the tongue and savored

like life.


My daughter takes photos of us

documenting the moment

as we sit there, relaxed

enjoying the wine,

enjoying the company,

enjoying the musician,

singing of angels that fly from Montgomery,

our thoughts fly, too,

flitting here and there,

then hovering,

like bees when they find the right flower,

her husband mentions his sessions in New York.

Is it okay to ask?

Yes, I’ve wanted to tell you, he says.

And so he does.

He talks of the incidents,

the particular one that caused him the most trauma

and others,

foreign words to me,

convoys, gunners, and Vehicle-Borne Explosive Devices

the language of war,

foreign words and foreign lands

known to me only through books, movies, news reports.


I learn more later,

when I read some papers he gave us,

I learn of a mission to deliver clothing and supplies

to Iraqi school children,

a humanitarian mission, but still dangerous–

he volunteered.

I am proud of this man,

who is my son “in law,”

but who is becoming the son of my heart, as well

my daughter loves him,

and that’s what matters,

but I discover, he’s officially a hero,

as well as one to her,

but he has paid the price.

Coeur d’Est, Coeur de lion


Becoming a combat soldier involves many skills—

I already know, he’s an excellent driver—

But conflict zones require more,

turning off emotions

learning to kill

learning to hate

fearing that hate

fearing killing and expecting to kill

fearing death and expecting death

becoming used to—craving–

the rush of adrenalin that comes from danger,

then having to turn it all off,

stimulation, the drug of war,

duty and bravery, comrades at arms,

but there’s a cost,

the trauma born of war

for soldiers and civilians

who must go on, and live after.

Dulce et Decorum Est

Pro patria mori.*


Are we coded to wage war

to defend our homes, our honor, our families

to endure

death, destruction, injuries to body and soul?

To battle through conflicts and then feel conflicted?

Shell-shocked soldiers in WWI

the horrors of WWII,

back through the past

and up to the present,

we humans are intent on finding new,

and better ways to kill.

I don’t have an answer,


there must be a better way.

instead of building walls and spouting hate,

hate that nourishes more hate

and makes it grow,

a noxious weed,

requiring little care to flourish

but some skill to eradicate.

Why do we listen?

Perhaps it’s easier to blame others,

the demagogue’s favorite trick.

The candidate’s quockerwodgers

dance when he pulls the strings,

the expert puppeteer,

gorgonizing in soundbites,

but we have to remember to think on our own,

be the voice, instead of the puppet,

perhaps then we can create a better way,

set our phasers to stun, not kill


let peace guide the planets

let the sunshine in


imagine all the people

living in peace,


the lion’s heart swelling with love.


But now, on this beautiful summer night,

our dreams are of life and the future,

of houses and homes,

we drink and talk,

smile and laugh,

birds fly overhead, singing lullabies,

slowly dusk falls and settles lightly,

a soft blanket to cover us,

and we travel home.


*It is sweet and right to die for your country. “Dulce et Decorum Est” is the title of the well-known poem by WWI poet, Wilfred Own. You can read it with notes here. 

Today is the anniversary of D Day, June 6, 1944, and though I wish for a peaceful world, I do not want to slight the heroes of that day—or indeed, any day.

This article discusses some of the forgotten African American heroes of D Day.