The Fiction of Philip Kaveny
AN OLD PHOTOGRAPH
IS SHE THE ONE THAT CAUSED PAIN?
SHE WAS SO TALL AND BEAUTIFUL THEN.
BUT WHO IS THE MOOH FACED COW INSIDE THE PHOTO FRAME?
IT IS BUT COULD’NT BE HER, SHE DID’NT LOOK LIKE THAT.
BUT THEY SAY THE CAMERA DOES NOT LIE. BUT WHO IS THAT?
IT MUST BE HER.
COULD SHE HAVE BEEN THE OBJECT OF MY FIRST LOVE’S MURDEROUS MADNESS AT 25?
I TOLD THIS TO A WISE FRIEND AND SHE REMINDED ME OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OBJECTS& VERBS.
Sweat and leather shoulder pads.
Sweat and leather shoulder pads and salt encrusted Jock Straps.
It makes you want to puke I guess.
Makes me think of crowds and autumn’s young men and world before a terrible war,
On Occasion of a very good class last Wednesday,
Thanx, everybody for helping me to jump start my brain.
Thanx, everybody for helping me to give a duck why some poems work and some do not,
Thanx, everybody for reminding me how precious the written and spoken word is in prison,
I told an artist friend of mine I felt like a power hitter coming out of a long batting slump.
He asked me to think about him on second base, taking a long lead, and hit him something to illustrate. (I wonder if the offer has and expiration date.
God, why did you gift me an anvil, (and the hands of a violinist)
God why did you gift me an anvil, and a ball peen hammer, (my soul yearned the voice of an Irish Tenor)? (You gave one to James Joyce?
God, why did gift me an anvil, and a ball peen hammer, and a boiler-plate factory inside my head?
And worst of all, God why did you make me feel like a had something to say?
HOW I IT IS, WITHOUT ALIBIS OR APOLOGIES.
Like the sailor hates the calm.
Like the Arab hates the heat.
Like the Eskimo hates the cold.
Like the dancer hates the dance.
Like the painter hates to paint,
Like the singer hates to sing,
It’s what you do,
Its, what you do,
Even Mohamed Ali says,
“Everybody forget, it hurt to get hit.”
(DEDICATED TO MY WIFE DR. JANICE BOGSTAD
ON OUR 23RD ANNIVERSY AUGUST 07 2010)
(SHE HATES IT WHEN I DO STUFF LIKE THIS)
YOU ARE LIKE THE TARTAR BOW WHICH CONQURED HALF THE WORLD
RECURVED AND LAMINATED LAYER UPON LAYER.
A LAYER OF HORN ON A LAYER OF STEEL
A LAYER OF WOOD ON A LAYER OF HORN
YOU ARE STRUNG WITH THE FINEST WHITE HORSEHAIR TIED WITH TINY STRAND OF LEATHER.
IT TAKES A HUNDRED POUNDS TO DRAW YOU BACK.
DARE MY FORE ARM YOUR RISK BITE IF I RELEASE THE ARROW WRONG
IN THE SUMMER OF 1948 HARRY TRUMAN WAS PRESIDENT AND I WAS FOUR YEARS OLD AND DID’NT KNOWS ANYTHING.
A LITTLE GIRL ASKED ME IF I WAS CATHOLIC OR PUBLIC
I DIDN’T GIVE AN ANSWER I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT SHE MEANT.
IN THE NEXT 21 YEARS I THOUGHT ABOUT THE QUESTION A LITTLE ONCE IN AWHILE
IN 1969 I LEARNED THE ANSWER.
IT MAKES A GREAT DEAL OF DIFFERENCE WHICH SCHOOL YOU GO TO.
WAS ITS EL DUCE WHO SAID GIVE THEM TO ME BEFORE THE ARE SEVEN AND I WILL HAVE THEM FOR EVER, OR WAS IT THE CHURCH?
My father’s Elk’s tooth is all we have of him.
His Elks tooth is all we have of him
All we have of private secret oaths
All we have of a minute of bar room darkened silence for dear departed Elks at 11:00 PM.
It’s all we have of petrified cats (maybe that was the Milwaukee Press club), and free -hinge silver-topped pretzel dish and free orange soda. (We just sat there and talked, he showed me off a lot a called me buster.) I was ten he was fifty five.
It’s all I have of all leather chairs and old man’s sweat and the smell of their cigars
The place long since flattened by urban wrecking ball exists in memories and in my mind.
He’s still alive, now 84, a scores of years ago we did what we had to (he left my mother I testified against him.) We signed a non-communications treaty. We kept its terms. Funny thing now every time I look at his they get younger.
(For my father Edward T. Kaveny 1898-1985)
(I am very much) his son.
I knew these two guys who went to Vietnam.
Three of us rode back from a country bar in a Corvette.
When I was young in 1963 drink a lot and ride very fast.
They both came back one in a box in 1967 and the other to do a slide show in 1969.
It’s is funny how almost everyone who has ever really been in combat, World War I, World War II, Korea , Vietnam, will not talk about it. (The Gulf Wars and Afghanistan have not changed this
A B17 tail gunner I used to work with (Milt Hanson) joked with me about going to his son’s wedding in Germany and telling them what he did in the war. He told me it was like flying through the ducking Fiore Coal pile. (Read Randal Jarrell’s death of a Bell turret gunner to know what he meant)But even they don’t they don’t talk about it, they try to tell you.
HIS SLIDE SHOW WAS ABOUT HIS TIME IN VIETNAM WHEN HIS HANGING VERSE WAS BEING ABLE TO READ A MAP, AND LYING ABOUT HAVING A MASTERS DEGRE IN GEOGRAPHY FROM UW MADISON. IT GOT HIM OUT OF COMBAT AND HE BECAME A MAP READING SUPPLY SARGENT.
MOST OF HIS SLIDES WERE VERY BORING. THEY SHOWED HIM AS HANDSOME THEN AND BOYISH (AFTER ALL THREE OF US WERE COLLEGE WRESTLERS.)
HE NEVER GOT TO THE SAIGON BROTHELS. AND IF HE DIDHE DID’NT TAKE HIS CAMERA
MOSTLY THEY SHOWED HIS CAMP HIS HOOCH, HIS BARBEQUE GRILL, HIS BEER COOLER, AND HIS TENT. MOSTLY PRETTY BOORING.
ALL BUT THE LAST SLIDE, HE WAS A SUPPY SARGENT AT HAMBURGER HILL
300 KILLED ACTIONS,(THEY DIED LIKE SPARTANS) TWO C 130’S TO CARRY OUT THE BODIES, A DOUBLE ORDER OF BLUE BODY BAGS, AND REPLACEMNETS AND EXTEND TOURS OF DUTY, (WERE HIS WORDS)
ALL HE SHOWED US WAS 300 HELMETS, NESTED AND STACKED FOR RE-ISSUE, SOME BLOODY SOME DENTED.
THE ROOM WAS QUIET FOR A LONG TIME. ALL YOU COULD HEAR WAS THE MOTOR ON THE FAN THAT COOLED THE SLIDE PROJECTORS
(For Bob Caspersen 1943-1967 &Neil Hauser 1945-1995)
(I Was a Pall Bearer for them both Bob died in combat Neil died of Agent Orange. I Looking at their picture now Madison East wrestling team, we lost another Dave Ackerman, and two more to gunshots, one two drowning and one to Aids)
(Bob’s Ghost visits me over the years)
Where I stand on a Mosque on the 9/11 Ground Zero Site inspired by The NPR ON Point Radio Show Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 10:00 AM EDT Fiery Rhetoric on American Islam
By Philip E. Kaveny (public sphere intellectual)
I am an American, Anglican, Episcopalian, Christian, liberal Democrat supporting Roe V. Wade, Obama’s economic stimulus packages, Obama’s national health care program, and consumer protection legislation. I also support gay rights and same-sex marriage, and the Jeffersonian wall between church and state. Further I would like to see a return to the Federal Income Tax rates under The Eisenhower administration where the maximum marginal tax rate was 93%.
One of my core beliefs is articulated by Eisenhower’s cautionary farewell speech about the power of the military industrial complex. My generation was inspired by Kennedy’s phrase “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” All my mother’s brothers fought with distinction as officers during the Second World War, and my father was a World War I Veteran. I was a Vietnam- era protestor.
I watched 9/11 play out like everybody else and I totally disagree with Michael Moore’s mean-spirited characterization of George Bush immediately after the event. I feel that Bush showed great courage and judgment to stand pat in what could have easily become World War Three, had Bush leaned on all of the launch buttons. Of course afterwards I do have a lot of issues with the subsequent eight years. One of my greatest fears is that Obama will be a one-term president, not because of conservative opposition on the right, but because many liberal spokespersons, who are , incidentally, making NPR sound like Fox News, have turned on him, like Naomi Klein who blamed him for not rebuilding Rome in a day. On the other hand, we have the ironic point of light of the NPR “On Point” show with Barney Frank and Ron Paul agreeing on cutting the military budget.
Having said that, I do believe that ground zero is a war memorial and hallowed ground sanctified by the blood of those who protected and served and those who earned their bread by the toil of their labor. Who speaks for them? Would they want a Mosque on their site, or a Christian Church or a Synagogue? Perhaps they would want a Buddhist Temple? I don’t know but why not something which speaks with the silent dignity of the Vietnam War Memorial, to those who died as heroes who were simply trying to keep themselves and their buddies, of all races and religions and genders, alive. Surely America does not need this to become a wedge issue.