A Father’s Day Celebration

Constellations Frame Memories

 

You are there

Stalwart stalk and a bloom’s

Nascent memory—

A child in the garden

Pleading you not to pluck a

Peculiar green shoot

Out of place like me

a redheaded

freckle-faced waif

too full of energy to know better

than to be defiant

and bud into a sunflower

bright

beautiful

 

You are there

The wind’s gentle movement

Brushing the window screen—

You reach between the squares

Assure the child who

Pushes down fear

Brawls with emotions

desperate for answers

begging for

full confirmation

vulnerable and craving

promises

peace

 

You are there

The handler in the airport

Of a one-armed bandit—

Five in tow

A set of six eyes

Ritual watchers of

One Nickel

as tumblers

spin all are

hopeful for a win

click—watermelon

click—lemons

loss

always

  

You are there

A model creating

Award-winning masterpieces—

Paper

Notched balsa wood

Store bought string

Homemade glue

March winds compelling

kite makers recyclers of newspapers

to assemble around the

kitchen table

measuring smallest and longest

skeleton

tail

 

You are there                                                                                     

A coordinator of Texas reunions

Insistent on crafting memories—

Well-made like

Tightly woven

Rugs stronger

Than time

Instruments’ music

poetry and skits

a cappella voices sing

textiles of history

sewn

revered

 

You are there

A flower head tattoo

The flesh narrates—

Of one who sooths

Growing pains

Besiegers

In the night                                                                                 

couched compassion

embraces and encourages

surrender to your

tender nudges to

resume

slumber

 

You are there                                                                                     

Brown Leisure suit shroud

Framed face speaks your maxims—

         You are smarter than the average bear

         You are my favorite redhead

         You done good kid

         Eagle eyes

everything is okay

when calls

check in to confirm a

troubled adolescent

alive

sound

  

You are there

In the heavens constellation Canes Venatici

On Earth Helianthus Constellation—

Sunflower in the sky

At my window

In the garden

On my mind

you mark it under the stars

on camping nights

we grow them in the

garden and roast

pin-stripped treats

 gentle

 giant

 

 

Beyond Our Sky

Part of my dad died on the long trek across the nation from California to Mississippi in 1973.  He left behind the many rich and rewarding years he had served the country with NASA after Nixon cut the funding for the space program.  He was ejected from the program to relocate himself and his family to a small town on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.  An electrical engineer, who had played a huge part in putting the first man on the moon, left behind the stars and rockets of his dreams for the waves and spray of a shipbuilding southern city.

Even after leaving his dreams behind, he remained in love with space and all things extraterrestrial.  When our family of six had been settled for a few months, the headlines of the local newspaper announced that two men were claiming to have been picked up and probed by strange creatures on the banks of the Pascagoula River.  It was then dad knew he had arrived for his calling as the man who would prove that outer space aliens did exist.

My dad made his contact with the two men, and for months after the Mississippi Herald shared the announcement he spent evenings engrossed in extensive interviews and tape recordings setting about his own probing adventure into the minds of the men.  The discourse led to sketches that vividly documented the encounter with the aliens.  Dad reveled in the stories the two men shared—how the alien ship had hovered over the banks of the river, levitated the men into the ship, one drawn into the whirring monster of a ship as the other stood frozen in fear. They shared how the aliens poked about in every orifice of their bodies while they lay strapped to a cold, surgical-like table.  Eventually, a 45-RPM record of the interviews was cut along with grosses of fabric patches, my dad’s rhetoric of choice.  All of the painstakingly created artifacts were shipped and distributed nationwide in anticipation that the story would go viral.  What my dad yearned for was that the evidence provided would be considered reliable and his belief of the existence of intelligent life form in outer space would be authenticated.  It would have meant the opportunity to engage further in the exploration of the universe-a bridge to return to his love, the cosmos.

But while my dad worked ardently to document the believer’s side of the story, working against him in forces were the local police and the military.  They administered lie detector tests and blood tests followed by a full battery of psychological investigations to determine for themselves the validity of the men’s story.  Unlike my dad, they combed through the evidence attempting to uncover holes in the testimony and agonizingly painful recollections of the men who were ultimately deemed sane, less than inebriated yet still under the influence of alcohol, and not fully proven to be liars.  Worse though, after all the months of investigations, they were forgotten, left alone to live out their traumatized lives, suspiciously not worthy of being fully believed.  It also left my dad’s dream of proving extraterrestrial life and the possibility of a place in the space program crushed, again.

Not too long ago, a young writer, attempting to bring to life the story from almost a half a century gone by, searched out and found Hickson, one of the “alleged” witnesses of the encounter.  He was living a simple life, trying to forget his experience that brought him a few months of fame, albeit not the most favorable in light of his current state of being.  He had managed to disappear to the small town having lost contact with his nocturnal fishing buddy, who himself had fared emotionally much worse afterward for his audacity to share what had happened to him.  Hickson was not very interested in talking about it again, but was willing to share that he still stood firm in his statements of that fright filled summer evening.  He reiterated that he wanted to be left alone stating that his wish was to be made clear if the article was ever published.   The reporter made no claim to his own theory of life in the heavens one way or the other, rather he wrote his goal was to examine further the testimony of the man, and to glean any information of the event that may have surfaced since the early years of the investigation.

I used to pull out my personal copy of the 45-record on occasion.  As a teacher it made for a good Socratic Seminar; the picture of the patch that I produced during the discussion particularly generated interesting conjectures and syllogistic conclusions.  There is a published book on UFO’s that also provides a snippet of the story of both men.  When I shared it with my students and told how my dad gathered the men’s evidence and supported his claims with their testimony, I claimed that I didn’t think my dad’s purpose was to get rich, monetarily anyway.  Although I do remember conversations he had with my mother about how much money he had sunk into the endeavor, and how he had hoped that it would pay off.  Rather, I shared that my dad wanted more than anything to make his dream come true, which was to provide reasonable evidence for the world to gain a general acceptance that life as we know it on Earth may not be all there is in the galaxy we live in or even those galaxies close to ours, such that they are.  He wanted to prove that life exists that is the same or similar to ours here on Earth.  Although he was an agnostic by practice, and did not believe in a higher power as many spiritualists and Christians do, he was not inclined to be so self-centered as an Earthling not to believe that there was something or someone out there beyond what could be seen and not yet proved.  And if that dream could have been verified and accepted by man, that would have meant that he was rich beyond any amount of money that would have ever lined his pockets.

My dad has passed on now.  My hope is that he has found his bliss among the aliens beyond our sky.

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