Tuesday, November 30, 2021
By Christina Rossetti - 1830-1894
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water'd shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
Because my love is come to me.
Raise me a daïs of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.
Today is my 44th birthday. I took today off work, so I doubt I’ll be spending it with anyone. I am going to Burlington to have lunch with a friend of mine, and I might even take myself to dinner tonight and enjoy a lovely meal. Other than that, it’s really just another day. My mother will probably call, and my sister and her two kids will call to wish me happy birthday. That’s about it. Today’s poem is dedicated to it being my birthday.
About the Poem
Love poetry is a common theme in English literature, but there are a few truly great poems about being in love (and being happy). “A Birthday” is an example of a poem which celebrates being in love using colorful and majestic imagery. It is written by one of the Victorian era’s greatest poets. The poet is not celebrating her own birthday but celebrating the birthday of her lover.
Monday, November 29, 2021
Sunday, November 28, 2021
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”—Matthew 28:19-20
Have you ever been a part of teaching someone about Jesus? I have been teaching in one form or another for the past twenty-two years whether at a university, private academy, or a museum. If you are or have ever been a teacher, then you undoubtedly know the joy when a student has an epiphany from something you’ve taught them, that moment when it finally clicks for that student or even a class as a whole. While I don’t believe in edutainment, I do enjoy departing knowledge in a way that is fun and relatable. Enthusiasm plays a major part in that. I have always found that when a teacher is enthusiastic, then that enthusiasm become infectious. If you are not enthusiastic about what you teach, students will not be enthusiastic about what they learn.
The same is true when spreading the message of love and acceptance that Jesus brought to this earth from heaven. When you open someone's eyes to the message of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, it is a momentous occasion. Just think how this person's life has the opportunity to be changed. Picture it now, the potential for all they can accomplish and the growth they will encounter through God’s love and acceptance. Impacting a life makes a mark on eternity.
Are you making a difference? Are you spreading love and acceptance or are you spreading hate and fear? Jesus wants us to love one another unconditionally. We may dislike people and their ways, but we cannot allow ourselves to hate because if we do, we are no better than them. We lower ourselves to their level instead of attempting to lift them up to our level. Ever moment of life is a battle of good vs. evil, love vs. hate, courage vs. fear, acceptance vs. discrimination.
Good will win out over evil. Love will conquer hate. Courage will defeat fear. Acceptance will bring us closer to God, where as discrimination only distances people from God. We must stay positive, because it is the only way to defeat the negativity that exists in this world. I hope today that you will smile at a random stranger. You never know when that might make someone’s day and lift their spirits. It never pays to be mean. We need to do acts of kindness every day because we do not know what another person may be going through in their life. Sometimes, a small act of kindness can make a huge difference in someone’s life, even though we are unlikely to ever know how much of a difference we make.
One smile to a stranger can change their life. One compliment can improve someone’s day. Never forget the importance of spreading joy and kindness to the world. The late comedian Robin Williams has given us so many things throughout the years: movies, unforgettable impressions and funny memories. But also some incredibly wise quotes. He’s been credited with saying, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late." Think of it as karma. Good begets good. Evil begets evil. The cartoonist Scott Adams offered this piece of advice, Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end." Author Henry James said, "Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." We can do so much with just the simplest of gestures. Be kind and teach by example.
Saturday, November 27, 2021
Friday, November 26, 2021
Today is supposed to be a rather messy weather day. I wish I could stay in and just curl up on the couch and watch television, but alas, I have an appointment at the Headache Clinic this morning. I’ll have to be very careful driving down there. The National Weather Service issued the following warning (edited for brevity and clarity):
From 1 pm today to 1 pm Saturday, snow is expected with a total accumulations of 3 to 7 inches and wind gusts as high as 35 mph. The mix of snow and rain is expected develop this morning before transitioning to all snow in the afternoon and continuing through tonight. The snow is expected to taper off Saturday morning. It is advised that drivers slow down and use caution while traveling and allow extra time if travel is necessary.
My travel this morning is necessary. This appointment is my quarterly Botox treatment for my migraines. I am so grateful for these treatments as it seems to be working, but they are a pain, literally. If my headaches had not been increasing over the last two weeks, I might attempt to postpone my appointment, but I feel that this is something that cannot wait. As I wrote this last night, I had a bad headache. With the increased frequency and intensity over the past two weeks, I desperately need some relief.
On a totally different note, my Thanksgiving meal turned out pretty well, especially the cornbread dressing and the dessert I made. Here’s the recipe for the dessert I came up with (I haven’t thought of a name for it yet. Any suggestions?):
- 12 oz bag of cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Granny Smith Apple (cored, peeled, and diced)
- 1/2 cup pineapple
- 2 oz. good vodka (I prefer Grey Goose)
- 4 Philadelphia Cheesecake Crumbles
- 1 can whipped cream (or make your own)
- Empty a 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries into a saucepan.
- Add 1 cup sugar, 1 strip orange or lemon zest and 1/2 cup water to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes.
- With 5 minutes left, add diced apples and pineapple and stir to combine.
- Add 2 oz. vodka and cool to room temperature.
- According to what consistency you would like the cranberry mixture, either leave as is or place in a food processor or blender and pulse to your desired consistency.
- Divide the mixture between 4 parfait glasses (or I used martini glasses). Top with one package of cheesecake, spreading evenly over cranberry mixture.
- Top with graham cracker crumbles and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
- Just before serving, top with whipped cream.
Thursday, November 25, 2021
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Cats tend to have a bad reputation. Some people assume they're snobby, unfriendly, completely uninterested in their human owners, and prone to scratching or biting. But anyone who loves or owns cats knows that this couldn't be further from the truth. While there has been significantly more research done on dogs than cats because they are harder to study, scientists are finally starting to change that. I am so thankful for my Isabella. She has saved my life.
I adopted Isabella at a when I was extremely depressed and lonely. I had moved 1,200 miles away from my family, and I had recently lost a very dear friend. There were days when I did a lot of crying, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on in this life. My two cats had stayed in Alabama with my aunt because at first I could not have pets in my apartment, and even when I talked my landlords into letting me have a cat, my aunt did not want to give up my cats. The loneliness and depression had almost become more than I could stand, and I knew I needed a companion up here.
Isabella has made the perfect companion nearly from day one. She took some time adjusting to my apartment, but eventually, she became the loving cat she is now. She’s never been one to cuddle, but she will lay on my hip if I’m laying on my side. She also just like to sit next to me.and just be near. She also seems to be able to sense when my blood sugar drops too low, especially if I’m sleeping, and she will wake me up so that I can get my blood sugar back to safe levels. In more ways than one, she has literally saved my life. I am ever so thankful for her constant companionship.
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
By James Whitcomb Riley - 1849-1916
Let us be thankful—not only because
Since last our universal thanks were told
We have grown greater in the world’s applause,
And fortune’s newer smiles surpass the old—
But thankful for all things that come as alms
From out the open hand of Providence:—
The winter clouds and storms—the summer calms—
The sleepless dread—the drowse of indolence.
Let us be thankful—thankful for the prayers
Whose gracious answers were long, long delayed,
That they might fall upon us unawares,
And bless us, as in greater need we prayed.
Let us be thankful for the loyal hand
That love held out in welcome to our own,
When love and only love could understand
The need of touches we had never known.
Let us be thankful for the longing eyes
That gave their secret to us as they wept,
Yet in return found, with a sweet surprise,
Love’s touch upon their lids, and, smiling, slept.
And let us, too, be thankful that the tears
Of sorrow have not all been drained away,
That through them still, for all the coming years,
We may look on the dead face of To-day.
About the Poet
James Whitcomb Riley was born in Greenfield, Indiana, on October 7, 1849. He left school at age sixteen and served in a variety of different jobs, including as a sign painter and with a traveling wagon show. He was the author of several books of poetry, including Home-Folks (Bowen-Merrill, 1900), The Flying Islands of the Night (Bowen-Merrill, 1892), and Pipes o’ Pan at Zekesbury (Bobbs-Merrill, 1888). He also served on the staff of two local newspapers, the Anderson Democrat and, later, the Indianapolis Journal. Riley was known as “the poet of the common people” for his frequent use of his local Indiana dialect in his work. He died in Indianapolis, Indiana, on July 22, 1916.
Monday, November 22, 2021
Sunday, November 21, 2021
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.—Psalm 1:2
In a world filled with distractions and so many voices vying for our attention it is important to remember the words of the Psalmist. He urges us to meditate on God’s words day and night. You can find new joy when you discover more about who God is by spending time reading His book.
The world can be a stressful place and if it has you anxious, tense and worried, consider trying meditation. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace. Anyone can practice meditation. It's simple and inexpensive, and it doesn't require any special equipment. And you can practice meditation wherever you are—whether you're out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor's office or even having your morning cup of coffee or tea..
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. It originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction, but we can still use it to bring ourselves closer to God and let him help heal us of the what stresses us out. Meditation is a type of mind-body complementary medicine. It can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. God can help with that. Hosea 6:1 tells us, “Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.” In the first verse of the hymn “The Lilly of the Valley,” we sing:
I have found a friend in Jesus-
He's ev'rything to me,
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley- in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He's my comfort, in trouble He's my stay,
He tells me ev'ry care on Him to roll;
He's the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He's the greatest of ten thousand to my soul.
During meditation, you can focus your attention on God’s Word and His Plan for us and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process will result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being. Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace, and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health. And these benefits don't end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and may help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions. When you meditate, you may clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress.
By meditating, you can Gain a new perspective on stressful situations! And God can help you build skills to manage your stress. You can increase your awareness of God in your life and reduce negative emotions, increase patience and tolerance. God can guide you through meditation to heal what ails you. He can be your comfort if you just allow Him to guide you to better awareness. Take a moment to look up to God for his guidance and for the comfort He can provide.
Saturday, November 20, 2021
Friday, November 19, 2021
Yesterday, I was reading an article in The New Yorker by Morgan Meis about the discovery of the world’s oldest cave painting. It was a fascinating story of how an archeological team in Indonesia’s island of Sulawesi was exploring a remote valley. There were no roads into the valley, and there was nothing on their maps to suggest a way through the bush and mountain peaks. It sounded like a real archeological adventure into the unknown. Their maps show few signs of habitation in the valley. The team asked for directions anytime they encountered anyone, and they felt as if they were continually lost. Eventually they were able to find a path through a cave that led into this hidden valley, which the archeologists continue to call the “secret valley”—a term they use to protect the caves, which they don’t want to be easily found. The Lascaux cave found in Montignac, France was closed to the public in 1963, because their condition was deteriorating due to the exhalations of the 1,200 visitors per day, the presence of light, and changes in air circulation creating problems that threatened the preservation of the cave. Keeping the Indonesian valley secret is the only way at this time to preserve what the archeological team found.
The area of the secret valley was inhabited by an especially isolated group of Bugis people, an ethnic group of southern Sulawesi who I found to be a very interesting people because they recognize five separate genders. These Bugis claimed never to have seen a single Westerner in their valley. Something I will get back to in a minute. The archeological team began to explore the caves in the area and, a few days later, one of the archeologists entered one of them alone. There he found a spectacular painting of a Sulawesi warty pig, a medium-sized, hairy boar with small pointy ears and short legs. Near the rear of the pig was painted silhouettes of two human hands. The archeologist recognized that the artwork was very old, but just how old, he did not know. Technology was rough in to test the age of the painting using uranium-series dating. The answer was astonishing: the painting of the warty pig was at least 45,500 years old. This makes it the oldest known example of figurative cave art in the world. The cave paintings at Lascaux are estimated at around 17,000 years. The famous animal paintings in the Chauvet cave, of France, previously thought to be the oldest, are dated at around thirty-five thousand years old; the Sulawesi warty pig outdoes them by roughly ten thousand years.
All of this was fascinating, but what struck me about the article was one sentence: “The area was inhabited by an especially isolated group of Bugis people, an ethnic group of southern Sulawesi who recognizes five separate genders.” While the cave paintings are fascinating and add to the history of early humans, I find the concept of societies that accept more than two genders to be interesting, and I knew I had to do more research on this.
The Bugis people are the most numerous of the three major ethnic groups of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, with about 3 million people. Most Bugis are Muslim, but many pre-Islamic rites continue to be honored in their culture, including the view that gender exists on a spectrum. In contrast to the idea of only two genders (male and female), Bugis society recognizes five genders: makkunrai, oroané, bissu, calabai, and calalai. The concept of five genders has been a key part of their culture for at least six centuries. Oroané are comparable to cisgender men, makkunrai to cisgender women, calalai to transgender men, and calabai to transgender women, while bissu are androgynous or intersex and revered shamans or community priests.
Native American societies often recognized three genders: male, female, and two spirit similar to the Bugis concept of bissu. For one to be considered bissu, all aspects of gender must be combined to form a whole. It is believed that you are born with the propensity to become a bissu, revealed in a baby whose genitalia are ambiguous. These ambiguous genitalia need not be visible; a normative male who becomes a bissu is believed to be female on the inside. This combination of sexes enables a 'meta-gender' identity to emerge. However, ambiguous genitalia alone do not confer the state of being a bissu. The person must also learn the language, songs and incantations, and have a gift for bestowing blessings in order to become bissu. They must remain celibate and wear conservative clothes.
Bugis society has a cultural belief that all five genders must coexist harmoniously; but by 2019 the numbers of bissu had declined dramatically, after years of increasing persecution and the tradition of revering bissu as traditional community priests. Bissu have mostly survived by participating in weddings as maids of honor and working as farmers as well as performing their cultural roles as priests. Hardline Islamic groups, police, and politicians have all played their part in Indonesia's increased harassment and discrimination of nonheterosexuals. After independence in 1949, the ancient Bugis kingdoms were incorporated into the new republic and bissus' roles became increasingly sidelined. A regional Islamic rebellion in South Sulawesi led to further persecution. As the atmosphere became increasingly hostile to nonheterosexuals, fewer people were willing to take on the role of bissu.
According to the Bugis gender system, calabai are generally assigned male at birth but take on the role of heterosexual females. Their fashions and gender expression are distinctly feminine but do not match that of "typical" heterosexual women. Calabai embrace their femininity and live as women, but do not think of themselves as female, nor wish to be female or feel trapped in a male’s body, and they are respected by society. They are supported by family, and men accept them as males, living in feminine embodiment. The calalai are assigned female at birth but take on the roles of heterosexual males. They dress and present themselves as men, hold masculine jobs and typically live with female partners to adopt children.
The concept of five genders is not as fluid as a full spectrum of gender. The Bugis concept is more rigid than many who reject the idea of a gender binary. Along with cisgender males and cisgender females are transgender men and transgender women, nonbinary, genderfluid, genderqueer, and agender individuals, among many other possible definitions. Some experts suggest that there may be 100 genders or more and different cultures may use different identifications for one gender or another. The key, advocates suggest, is not pinning down a definitive list of gender possibilities but to be accepting of everyone’s declared gender.
Thursday, November 18, 2021
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Before we get to the poem, I wanted to update you on the job search outcome. My boss did take my suggestion and hire the candidate I had advocated for during the process. Now onto the poem.
By Frank O'Hara
So we are taking off our masks, are we, and keeping
our mouths shut? as if we'd been pierced by a glance!
The song of an old cow is not more full of judgment
than the vapors which escape one's soul when one is sick;
so I pull the shadows around me like a puff
and crinkle my eyes as if at the most exquisite moment
of a very long opera, and then we are off!
without reproach and without hope that our delicate feet
will touch the earth again, let alone "very soon."
It is the law of my own voice I shall investigate.
I start like ice, my finger to my ear, my ear
to my heart, that proud cur at the garbage can
in the rain. It's wonderful to admire oneself
with complete candor, tallying up the merits of each
of the latrines. 14th Street is drunken and credulous,
53 rd tries to tremble but is too at rest. The good
love a park and the inept a railway station,
and there are the divine ones who drag themselves up
and down the lengthening shadow of an Abyssinian head
in the dust, trailing their long elegant heels of hot air
crying to confuse the brave "It's a summer day,
and I want to be wanted more than anything else in the world."
About the Poet
On March 27, 1926, Frank (Francis Russell) O’Hara was born in Maryland. He grew up in Massachusetts, and later studied piano at the New England Conservatory in Boston from 1941 to 1944. O’Hara then served in the South Pacific and Japan as a sonarman on the destroyer USS Nicholas during World War II.
Following the war, O’Hara studied at Harvard College, where he majored in music and worked on compositions and was deeply influenced by contemporary music, his first love, as well as visual art. He also wrote poetry at that time. While at Harvard, O’Hara met John Ashbery and soon began publishing poems in the Harvard Advocate. Despite his love for music, O’Hara changed his major and left Harvard in 1950 with a degree in English. He then attended graduate school at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and received his MA in 1951. That autumn, O’Hara moved into an apartment in New York. He was soon employed at the front desk of the Museum of Modern Art and continued to write seriously.
O’Hara’s early work was considered both provocative and provoking. In 1952, his first volume of poetry, A City Winter, and Other Poems, attracted favorable attention; his essays on painting and sculpture and his reviews for ArtNews were considered brilliant. O’Hara became one of the most distinguished members of the New York School of poets, which also included Ashbery. O’Hara’s association with painters Larry Rivers, Jackson Pollock, and Jasper Johns, also leaders of the New York School, became a source of inspiration for his highly original poetry. He attempted to produce with words the effects these artists had created on canvas. In certain instances, he collaborated with the painters to make “poem-paintings,” paintings with word texts.
O’Hara’s most original volumes of verse, Meditations in an Emergency (1956) and Lunch Poems (1964), are impromptu lyrics, a jumble of witty talk, journalistic parodies, and surrealist imagery.
O’Hara continued working at the Museum of Modern Art throughout his life, curating exhibitions and writing introductions and catalogs for exhibits and tours. On July 25, 1966, while vacationing on Fire Island, Frank O’Hara was killed in a sand buggy accident. He was forty years old.
Monday, November 15, 2021
Sunday, November 14, 2021
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.—Romans 12:2
To be transformed is to “make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of.” Everyone goes through a transformation at some point in their lives, even if it is just going through puberty, but LGBTQ+ individuals often have a harder time making the transformation from the closet to being out. We first must admit our sexuality to ourselves before we can begin our transformation to being our true selves. Few of us understand from an early age our sexuality because society has declared that heterosexuality is the default.
God wants us not only to believe but to be changed and made new by accepting the person God created us to be. He knows that without Him we are lost and slaves to our sinful nature of an unaccepting world. We have to learn to stop copying the world and start seeking God’s best for our life. God does not want us to hide behind the person the world says we should be, but to be the beautiful creature that God created.
Psalm 139:1 says, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me.” The Lord is very familiar with us and who we are. He knows our likes and dislikes, our failures and triumphs. Even before we know it, He knows and recognizes our sexuality and gender, even if the world around us does not recognize that truth. There's no use hiding from God. It's impossible to hide or deceive Him. He already knows our thoughts. Even if we are fearful of rejection, rest assured, He will always love us. He will always accept us, no matter what we have buried deep in your heart.
God does not want the world to be closed minded to love and acceptance. He wants a world of peace, love, and charity. God wants us to accept ourselves and allow ourselves to transform into the person he has destined us to be. In Jeremiah 29:11, God declares, “For I know the plans I have for you.” That plan includes accepting our sexuality and living the life God created us to live.
Saturday, November 13, 2021
Friday, November 12, 2021
Thursday, November 11, 2021
A Proclamation on Veterans Day, 2021
For generations, millions of Americans have answered the call to serve — taking the sacred oath to defend and preserve our Nation’s ideals of liberty and democracy. These patriots represent the best of us. On Veterans Day, we honor their service, dedication, and valor and are forever grateful for their sacrifice.
Our Nation has only one truly sacred obligation: to properly prepare and equip our service members when we send them into harm’s way and to care for them and their families when they return home. For our 19 million veterans, that means ensuring that they have access to the support and resources for a future of security, opportunity, and dignity. This is even more important as we continue to recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Our obligation to support our Nation’s veterans and their families is personal for me and the entire Biden family, and I remain committed to ensuring that every veteran receives the care and support they have earned. The recently passed bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will create millions of good jobs for veterans and grow opportunities for veteran-owned businesses. My Build Back Better framework also prioritizes improvements to VA health care, ensuring that every veteran — including our often-underserved female and LGBTQ+ veterans — receives competent, world-class health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Last month, the White House Gender Policy Council released the first-ever United States Strategy for Gender Equity and Equality, which included the unique needs and contributions of women service members and veterans. And the Department of Veterans Affairs is also working to get every eligible veteran the information and opportunity they need to register and vote, protecting their voice in the democracy they fought to preserve.
Ensuring veterans have timely access to services and benefits is at the center of my Administration’s commitment to fulfilling our sacred obligation. This includes addressing the adverse health effects of service-related exposures. In August, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it will begin processing disability claims for respiratory conditions connected to exposure during military service in Southwest Asia and other areas. My Administration also added three conditions to the list of those presumptively associated with exposure to Agent Orange, ending the long wait for disability benefits for many Vietnam era veterans. In the coming months, we are committed to taking additional action to address potential adverse health effects associated with military environmental exposures.
So many of our veterans carry the scars from their service — both visible and invisible — and it is our Nation’s responsibility to help them heal. Too many veterans and service members have considered suicide or taken their own lives, and addressing this tragedy is a national responsibility. That is why I have made military and veteran suicide prevention a top priority, and earlier this month, I released a new comprehensive, cross-sector public health strategy to reduce military and veteran suicide. Implementing this approach will unite us around a common mission and accelerate meaningful improvements in suicide prevention programs, helping us live up to our sacred obligation to those who have served in our Nation’s Armed Forces.
Fulfilling our Nation’s promise to our veterans and military families, caregivers, and survivors is not only a moral imperative — it is crucial to our national security and to maintaining the finest military the world has ever known. We are a Nation that keeps our promises. That is why my Administration is dedicated to a whole-of-government approach in responding to the needs of our veterans and their families, caregivers, and survivors.
Through the First Lady’s work with Joining Forces — the White House initiative to support veteran and military families, caregivers, and survivors — my Administration is addressing employment and entrepreneurship, military and veteran child education, and health and well-being for veteran families. Earlier this year, the First Lady met with military and veteran families to learn how we can better support and prioritize their needs, and in September, Joining Forces and the National Security Council released a report outlining the first round of Administration-wide commitments and proposals that support veteran and military families, caregivers, and survivors. These efforts will honor our sacred obligation to support our veteran families and ensure they receive the resources they need to thrive.
On Veterans Day, we honor our Nation’s veterans, who have given so much to protect our freedoms and the freedom of others around the globe. They represent the highest ideals of our country. While we can never fully repay the debt we owe these heroes, we will honor their service and provide them the care and support they deserve. We also salute and show gratitude for all who ensure our Armed Forces remain strong, united, and unmatched.
In respect and recognition of the contributions our veterans and their families, caregivers, and survivors have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation’s veterans.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2021, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor, courage, and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States of America and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. And I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities, to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-sixth.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
The Platonic Blow
By W. H. Auden
It was a spring day, a day for a lay, when the air
Smelled like a locker-room, a day to blow or get blown;
Returning from lunch I turned my corner and there
On a near-by stoop I saw him standing alone.
I glanced as I advanced. The clean white T-shirt outlined
A forceful torso, the light-blue denims divulged
Much. I observed the snug curves where they hugged the behind,
I watched the crotch where the cloth intriguingly bulged.
Our eyes met. I felt sick. My knees turned weak.
I couldn’t move. I didn’t know what to say.
In a blur I heard words, myself like a stranger speak
“Will you come to my room?” Then a husky voice, “O.K.”
I produced some beer and we talked. Like a little boy
He told me his story. Present address: next door.
Half Polish, half Irish. The youngest. From Illinois.
Profession: mechanic. Name: Bud. Age: twenty-four.
He put down his glass and stretched his bare arms along
The back of my sofa. The afternoon sunlight struck
The blond hairs on the wrist near my head. His chin was strong.
His mouth sucky. I could hardly believe my luck.
And here he was sitting beside me, legs apart.
I could bear it no longer. I touched the inside of his thigh.
His reply was to move closer. I trembled, my heart
Thumped and jumped as my fingers went to his fly.
I opened a gap in the flap. I went in there.
I sought for a slit in the gripper shorts that had charge
Of the basket I asked for. I came to warm flesh then to hair.
I went on. I found what I hoped. I groped. It was large.
He responded to my fondling in a charming, disarming way:
Without a word he unbuckled his belt while I felt.
And lolled back, stretching his legs. His pants fell away.
Carefully drawing it out, I beheld what I held.
The circumcised head was a work of mastercraft
With perfectly beveled rim of unusual weight
And the friendliest red. Even relaxed, the shaft
Was of noble dimensions with the wrinkles that indicate
Singular powers of extension. For a second or two,
It lay there inert, then suddenly stirred in my hand,
Then paused as if frightened or doubtful of what to do.
And then with a violent jerk began to expand.
By soundless bounds it extended and distended, by quick
Great leaps it rose, it flushed, it rushed to its full size.
Nearly nine inches long and three inches thick,
A royal column, ineffably solemn and wise.
I tested its length and strength with a manual squeeze.
I bunched my fingers and twirled them about the knob.
I stroked it from top to bottom. I got on my knees.
I lowered my head. I opened my mouth for the job.
But he pushed me gently away. He bent down. He unlaced
His shoes. He removed his socks. Stood up. Shed
His pants altogether. Muscles in arms and waist
Rippled as he whipped his T-shirt over his head.
I scanned his tan, enjoyed the contrast of brown
Trunk against white shorts taut around small
Hips. With a dig and a wriggle he peeled them down.
I tore off my clothes. He faced me, smiling. I saw all.
The gorgeous organ stood stiffly and straightly out
With a slight flare upwards. At each beat of his heart it threw
An odd little nod my way. From the slot of the spout
Exuded a drop of transparent viscous goo.
The lair of hair was fair, the grove of a young man,
A tangle of curls and whorls, luxuriant but couth.
Except for a spur of golden hairs that fan
To the neat navel, the rest of the belly was smooth.
Well hung, slung from the fork of the muscular legs,
The firm vase of his sperm, like a bulging pear,
Cradling its handsome glands, two herculean eggs,
Swung as he came towards me, shameless, bare.
We aligned mouths. We entwined. All act was clutch,
All fact contact, the attack and the interlock
Of tongues, the charms of arms. I shook at the touch
Of his fresh flesh, I rocked at the shock of his cock.
Straddling my legs a little I inserted his divine
Person between and closed on it tight as I could.
The upright warmth of his belly lay all along mine.
Nude, glued together for a minute, we stood.
I stroked the lobes of his ears, the back of his head
And the broad shoulders. I took bold hold of the compact
Globes of his bottom. We tottered. He fell on the bed.
Lips parted, eyes closed, he lay there, ripe for the act.
Mad to be had, to be felt and smelled. My lips
Explored the adorable masculine tits. My eyes
Assessed the chest. I caressed the athletic hips
And the slim limbs. I approved the grooves of the thighs.
I hugged, I snuggled into an armpit. I sniffed
The subtle whiff of its tuft. I lapped up the taste
Of its hot hollow. My fingers began to drift
On a trek of inspection, a leisurely tour of the waist.
Downward in narrowing circles they playfully strayed.
Encroached on his privates like poachers, approached the prick,
But teasingly swerved, retreated from meeting. It betrayed
Its pleading need by a pretty imploring kick.
“Shall I rim you?” I whispered. He shifted his limbs in assent.
Turned on his side and opened his legs, let me pass
To the dark parts behind. I kissed as I went
The great thick cord that ran back from his balls to his arse.
Prying the buttocks aside, I nosed my way in
Down the shaggy slopes. I came to the puckered goal.
It was quick to my licking. He pressed his crotch to my chin.
His thighs squirmed as my tongue wormed in his hole.
His sensations yearned for consummation. He untucked
His legs and lay panting, hot as a teen-age boy.
Naked, enlarged, charged, aching to get sucked,
Clawing the sheet, all his pores open to joy.
I inspected his erection. I surveyed his parts with a stare
From scrotum level. Sighting along the underside
Of his cock, I looked through the forest of pubic hair
To the range of the chest beyond rising lofty and wide.
I admired the texture, the delicate wrinkles and the neat
Sutures of the capacious bag. I adored the grace
Of the male genitalia. I raised the delicious meat
Up to my mouth, brought the face of its hard-on to my face.
Slipping my lips round the Byzantine dome of the head,
With the tip of my tongue I caressed the sensitive groove.
He thrilled to the trill. “That’s lovely!” he hoarsely said.
“Go on! Go on!” Very slowly I started to move.
Gently, intently, I slid to the massive base
Of his tower of power, paused there a moment down
In the warm moist thicket, then began to retrace
Inch by inch the smooth way to the throbbing crown.
Indwelling excitements swelled at delights to come
As I descended and ascended those thick distended walls.
I grasped his root between left forefinger and thumb
And with my right hand tickled his heavy voluminous balls.
I plunged with a rhythmical lunge steady and slow,
And at every stroke made a corkscrew roll with my tongue.
His soul reeled in the feeling. He whimpered “Oh!”
As I tongued and squeezed and rolled and tickled and swung.
Then I pressed on the spot where the groin is joined to the cock,
Slipped a finger into his arse and massaged him from inside.
The secret sluices of his juices began to unlock.
He melted into what he felt. “O Jesus!” he cried.
Waves of immeasurable pleasures mounted his member in quick
Spasms. I lay still in the notch of his crotch inhaling his sweat.
His ring convulsed round my finger. Into me, rich and thick,
His hot spunk spouted in gouts, spurted in jet after jet.
About the Poem
"The Platonic Blow, by Miss Oral" (sometimes known as "A Day for a Lay" or "The Gobble Poem") is an erotic poem by W. H. Auden. First unveiled at a party in 1965, the poem was reportedly written in 1948 and remained off the public radar for years. It’s a much longer poem than I usually post, but I think it’s worth reading all 136 lines that comprise the poem's thirty-four stanzas. The poem gleefully describes in graphic detail a gay blowjob. Auden was one of the greatest and most intelligent writers of the 20th century. Much of Auden’s work is influenced by politics, religion, philosophy, and love. Auden was gay and fairly open about that fact. He often traveled to Berlin before WWII broke out to enjoy the gay scene in the city and to visit his close friend Christopher Isherwood. Isherwood, probably best known for The Berlin Stories which inspired the musical Cabaret, traveled with Auden to China, Spain, and eventually to America. They collaborated together on books about the Sino-Japanese War and the civil war in Spain.
Auden lived in a unique period where same-sex relations were not as taboo they had been considered before the Weimar Republic or after WWII. The Weimar Republic was fading and war was approaching, but there seemed to be this bubble in time that allowed for queer culture to flourish for a few years. “The Platonic Blow” highlights the sexual climate of the time, which was becoming much more open. The poem is blunt, crass, and beautifully written. Not only is the poem about a guy cruising a man, bringing him back to his apartment, blowing him and rimming him, but it is a wonderfully structured poem in which Auden uses internal rhyme, an end rhyme scheme of ABAB, and each line is metered so that there are five stressed syllables. “A Platonic Blow” is unique in Auden’s work because of the explicit and raw eroticism of it.
A special thanks to BosGuy who reminded me of this poem after I’d posted a very different Auden poem last week. I’d posted an excerpt of many years ago, but here it is in its entirety.