davidbrucehaiku: blind rich people




Blind people exist

Forty-million-dollar yachts

Also exist — why?


NOTE: A $50 donation to the charity SEVA FOUNDATION will pay for a cataract operation that will allow a blind person in a third-world nation to see. Since this is true, how can anyone own a $40 million yacht as long as even one curable cataract-blinded person in a third-world nation exists?


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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s 1 HENRY VI: A Retelling in Prose — Act 4, Scenes 6-7

— 4.6 —

The battle started, and the English fought bravely. At one point, the Frenchmen came close to killing John Talbot, but Lord Talbot rescued him.

“Saint George and victory!” Lord Talbot shouted. “Fight, soldiers, fight! The Regent of France — the Duke of York — has broken his word to me, Lord Talbot, and left us to the rage of France’s swordsmen.

“Where is John Talbot?”

Seeing him, he said, “Pause, and take your breath; I gave you life, and I rescued you from death.”

“Oh, twice my father, twice am I your son!” John Talbot said. “The life you gave me first was lost and done, until with your warlike sword, in spite of fate, to my allotted time of life you gave me a new, later date to die.”

“When from the Dauphin’s crest on his helmet your sword struck fire, it warmed your father’s heart with proud desire of bold-faced victory. Then I, despite my leaden age, quickened with youthful spirits and warlike rage, beat down the Duke of Alençon, the Bastard of Orleans, and the Duke of Burgundy, and from the pride — the best soldiers — of Gallia, aka France, rescued you.

“The angry Bastard of Orleans, who drew blood from you, my boy, and had the maidenhood — the first blood — of your first fight, I soon encountered, and exchanging blows with him I quickly shed some of his bastard blood, and insultingly said to him, ‘I am spilling your contaminated, base, and misbegotten blood, which is mean, ignoble, and very poor, for that pure blood of mine that you forced from Talbot, my brave boy.’ Then, as I moved to destroy the Bastard and end his life, strong reinforcements came in to rescue him.

“Speak, your father’s care and concern. Aren’t you weary, John? How do you fare? Will you now leave the battle, boy, and flee, now that you are sealed and confirmed to be the son of chivalry?

“Flee in order to revenge my death when I am dead. The help of one person stands me in little stead — one person can help me very little. Too much folly is it, well I know, to hazard all our lives in one small boat!

“If I don’t die today from the Frenchmen’s rage, tomorrow I shall die with great old age. The Frenchmen gain nothing by my death if I stay: It is only the shortening of my life by one day. If you die, your mother dies, as does our household’s name, my death’s revenge, your youth, and England’s fame. All these and more we hazard by your stay; all these are saved if you will flee away.”

John Talbot replied, “The sword of the Bastard of Orleans has not made me smart, but these words of yours draw life-blood from my heart. To gain those benefits, bought with such a shame, would save a paltry life and slay bright fame. Before young Talbot from old Talbot flees, may the coward horse that bears me fall and die! And compare me to the peasant boys of France, to be shame’s scorn and subject of mischance! Surely, by all the glory you have won, if I flee, I am not Talbot’s son. So then, talk no more of flight, it does no good. If I am Talbot’s son, I will die at Talbot’s foot.”

Lord Talbot said, “Then follow your desperate sire of Crete, you Icarus.”

Icarus was the son of Daedalus, who designed the labyrinth at Crete to house the Minotaur, the half-bull, half-human man-eating monster. After Daedalus and his son were imprisoned on the island of Crete, Daedalus designed wings made of feathers and wax so that he and his son could fly over the sea to freedom. The wings worked, but Icarus flew too close to the Sun, the heat of which melted the wax, causing the feathers to molt. Icarus fell into the sea and drowned. Icarus could have lived, but his exuberance caused his death.

Lord Talbot continued, “Your life to me is sweet. If you must fight, then fight by your father’s side, and now that you have proven yourself to be commendable, let’s die proudly and with honor.”

— 4.7 —

The battle continued. A servant helped Lord Talbot, exhausted by age and combat, to walk.

Lord Talbot asked, “Where is my other life? My own life is gone. Where’s young Talbot? Where is valiant John? Triumphant Death, smeared with the blood of slain captives, young Talbot’s valor makes me smile at you. When young Talbot saw me shrink down on my knee, he brandished his bloody sword over me, and like a hungry lion, he began to perform rough deeds of rage and stern impatience. But when my angry guard stood alone, tending to my ruin and assailed by none, dizzy-eyed fury and great rage of heart suddenly made him run from my side into the clustering battle of the French, and in that sea of blood my boy drenched his mounting-too-high spirit, and there died my Icarus, my blossom, in his pride.”

The servant said, “My dear lord, look, your son is being borne here!”

Some soldiers arrived, carrying the corpse of John Talbot.

Lord Talbot said, “You grinning jester Death, who laughs at and scorns us here, soon, away from your insulting tyranny, coupled in bonds of perpetuity, two Talbots, winging through the yielding sky, shall spite you and escape mortality.”

He then said to his son’s corpse, “Oh, you, whose honorable wounds make handsome even the appearance of ugly death, speak to your father before you yield your breath! Defy death by speaking, whether or not he will allow you to speak. Imagine that Death is a Frenchman and your foe.

“Poor boy! He smiles, I think, as one who would say, ‘Had Death been French, then Death would have died today.’”

He then ordered, “Come, come and lay him in his father’s arms. My spirit can no longer bear these harms.”

The soldiers brought John Talbot’s corpse over to Lord Talbot, who hugged it and said, “Soldiers, adieu! I have what I want, now that my old arms are young John Talbot’s grave.”

Lord Talbot died.

Fighting broke out, and the servant and soldiers exited, leaving the two corpses behind.

After the battle was over and the French had won, Charles the Dauphin, the Duke of Alençon, the Duke of Burgundy, the Bastard of Orleans, Joan la Pucelle, and some soldiers entered the scene.

Charles the Dauphin said, “If the Duke of York and the Duke of Somerset had brought in reinforcements for the English, this would have been a bloody day for us.”

The Bastard of Orleans marveled, “How the young whelp of Talbot’s, raging-mad, fleshed his puny sword in Frenchmen’s blood!”

He referred to John Talbot’s sword as “puny” because its wielder had been untested in battle before this day.

Joan la Pucelle said, “Once I encountered him, and I said to him, ‘You maiden — virgin — youth, be vanquished by a maiden.’ But, with a proud and majestically high scorn, he answered, ‘Young Talbot was not born to be the pillage of a giglot — harlot — wench.’ Then, rushing into the midst of the French, he left me proudly, considering me unworthy for him to fight.”

The Duke of Burgundy said, “Doubtless he would have made a noble knight. Look at him. On the ground he lies, as if in a coffin, in the arms of the most bloodthirsty nurser of his harms!”

He felt that Lord Talbot had nursed — encouraged — his son to inflict wounds. In doing so, Lord Talbot had also made it possible for his son to suffer wounds.

The Bastard of Orleans said, “Hew them to pieces, hack their bones asunder. Their life was England’s glory, and Gallia’s wonder — France’s object of astonishment.”

Charles the Dauphin said, “No! Don’t! Those whom during their life we have fled, let us not wrong them once they are dead.”

Sir William Lucy arrived with some attendants. Walking in front of him was a French herald.

Sir William Lucy, who had arrived too late to participate in the battle, said, “Herald, conduct me to the Dauphin’s tent, so I can learn who has obtained the glory of the day.”

“On what submissive message have you been sent?” Charles the Dauphin asked. He expected Sir William Lucy to be carrying a message that what was left of the English army was surrendering to him.

“Submission, Dauphin!” Sir William Lucy said. “It is entirely a French word; we English warriors don’t know what it means.”

Sir William Lucy was aware that the English army had lost, but he was putting up a bold and brave front as he sought to learn the fate of Lord Talbot.

He added, “I have come to learn what prisoners you have taken and to survey the bodies of the dead.”

“You ask about prisoners?” Charles the Dauphin said. “Our prison is Hell. We kill our prisoners. But tell me whom you seek.”

Sir William Lucy asked, “Where’s the great Alcides — Hercules — of the battlefield, valiant Lord Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, who was given many titles as a reward for his rare success in arms? He is the great Earl of Washford, Waterford, and Valence. He is Lord Talbot of Goodrig and Urchinfield, Lord Strange of Blackmere, Lord Verdun of Alton, Lord Cromwell of Wingfield, Lord Furnival of Sheffield, the thrice-victorious Lord of Falconbridge; knight of the noble order of Saint George, a worthy of Saint Michael and the Golden Fleece. He is also the great commander-in-chief to King Henry VI in all his wars within the realm of France. Where is he?”

“Here is a silly stately style indeed!” Joan la Pucelle said, mocking the list of titles. “The Sultan of Turkey, who has fifty-two Kingdoms, does not write as tedious a style as this. He whom you magnify with all these titles lies stinking and fly-blown here at our feet.”

Already flies were buzzing around Lord Talbot’s corpse.

Sir William Lucy said, “Has Lord Talbot been slain, the Frenchmen’s only scourge, your kingdom’s terror and black Nemesis?”

Nemesis was an ancient goddess who punished humans who were guilty of pride and arrogance against the gods.

He continued, “I wish that my eyeballs would turn into bullets so that I in rage might shoot them at your faces! I wish that I could call these dead English warriors to life! It would be enough to frighten the realm of France. Even if only Lord Talbot’s picture were left among you here, it would terrify the proudest of you all. Give me their bodies, so that I may bear them away from here and give them burial as befits their worth.”

Joan la Pucelle said, “I think this upstart is old Talbot’s ghost — he must be because he speaks with such a proud commanding spirit. For God’s sake let him have the bodies; if we kept them here, they would only stink and putrefy the air.”

Charles the Dauphin said, “Go and take their bodies away from here.”

“I’ll bear them away,” Sir William Lucy said, “but from their ashes shall be reared a phoenix that shall make all France afraid.”

In the Arden Shakespeare edition of King Henry VI, Part 1, editor Edward Burns writes, “According to myth there is only ever one phoenix bird at any one time, but it regenerates itself from the ashes of its funeral pyre, in the deserts of Arabia, so it is an emblem of the survival of individual worth in defiance of the logic of natural survival.”

Charles the Dauphin replied, “As long as we are rid of them, do with them what you will.”

He then said to the others, “And now to Paris, in this conquering vein. All will be ours, now bloodthirsty Talbot’s slain.”


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David Bruce: Police Anecdotes

Police officers in small towns with little crime sometimes come up with creative ways to keep from being bored. In Fort Fairfield, Maine (population 4,300 at the time of this incident), a police officer discovered a chicken roosting on his police car. The police officer arrested the chicken for such crimes as criminal trespass, criminal mischief, resisting an officer, indecency (the chicken was naked), and littering. On the official crime report, the police officer wrote down the chicken’s name as Cee Little. Later, the police officer explained, “It started out as a joke and shouldn’t have gone as far as it did, but in a town like Fort Fairfield, you have to do something to keep from going crazy.” (The day following the arrest, the chicken was released into the custody of a person who liked to eat eggs.)

Back in the 1950s, police officers used to entrap homosexuals. Police officers would pretend to be gay, hoping that a gay man would flirt with them. If a gay man did flirt with them, the police officers would arrest the gay man. Most gay men were afraid of being outed, so they would not resist the charges. In June 1952, a gay man named Dale Jennings did resist the charges in court. His lawyer showed at one point that the police officer was lying, the jury could not reach a verdict, and the charges were dismissed. Mr. Jennings, a true American hero, was the first gay man not to let himself be intimidated by police officers.

In August of 2003, the Chicago Police Department released a bulletin about a rape suspect they wanted to arrest. In the bulletin, the police stated that the rape suspect resembled the rap singer Ice Cube. When he heard about the description, Ice Cube was not amused. His spokesman Matt Labov said that the rape suspect “had a headband, no beard, different facial structure. Both guys are black. That’s it.” (Another observer thought that the rape suspect resembled Ice Cube about as much as Eminem resembles Jack Black.) The police department apologized.

Ballerina Anna Pavlova greatly disliked Shanghai, China, after a disagreeable experience with a police officer. She had hired a rickshaw, but the owner demanded a little more than the usual rate, making so much noise that a police officer came over to investigate. The police officer listened to the rickshaw owner’s comments impassively, then hit him viciously on the head and rendered him unconscious. After that, Ms. Pavlova stayed in her hotel room, except for when she had to perform.

Babe Ruth was respected by everyone, including the police. One day, while in the company of sportswriter Grantland Rice, Babe drove the wrong way down a one-way street. A police officer stopped the car, and without recognizing Babe, said, “This is a one-way street.” Babe replied, “I’m only driving one way!” The police officer, recognizing the home-run slugger, said, “Hello, Babe! I didn’t know it was you. Go anywhere you please, but take it easy.”

Late in life, Spanish painter Francisco Goya lived for a while in France. Of course, for long periods of time—including during much of Mr. Goya’s lifetime—France and Spain have not been friendly, and the French police watched Mr. Goya for a time. Eventually, they decided that he was not a spy because he was so deaf, and he was not able to cause trouble because his command of the French language was so poor.

While soprano Emma Albani was singing in San Francisco, a problem developed when opera fans started sneaking into the theater through a window rather than buying tickets. To solve the problem, a police officer was stationed at the window. Unfortunately, whenever someone tried to climb through the window, the police officer forced him to pay a fee—which the police officer then put into his own pocket.

One day, Muhammad Ali was speeding on a Los Angeles highway. A police officer stopped him and gave him a $100 speeding ticket. Mr. Ali immediately wrote a check and gave it to the police officer, who looked at it and said, “Mr. Ali, there’s been a mistake. The ticket is for only one hundred dollars. You made this out for two hundred dollars.” Mr. Ali replied, “I still have to come back.”

Some convicts are wise guys. In 1986, police in Green Bay, Wisconsin, placed an order for license plates for their unmarked police cars. Wisconsin convicts made the license plates, and on each license plate they put the initials “PD”—short for “Police Department.” Deputy Police Chief Robert Langan rejected the license plates and sent them back, saying, “They were a dead giveaway.”

A friend of Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, tells her that when she is pulled over by the police for speeding, she should say something to arouse sympathy, such as, “There was a car following me!” Once, Ms. Cartwright’s friend was so successful in using this tactic that she received a police escort! 

Danny O’Mara, a baritone, once sang a role in Fidelio that required his character to be in prison. His family frequently saw him play the role, and on a crowded bus returning home after a performance, one of his children complained loudly, “Why is it, every time we see Daddy, he’s always in prison?”

In Texas, country music singer Willie Nelson was pulled over by a state highway patrolman for speeding. When Mr. Nelson opened the door and got out, smoke got out with him—lots of smoke. The highway patrolman coughed, then said, “Willie, when are you gonna grow up?”

While in Russia in the days when the Soviet Union still existed, actor Robert Morley was given a ticket for jaywalking. The police officer who gave him the ticket also gave him a receipt for the amount of the fine, saying it was “a souvenir of our dreaded secret police.”

Pianist Oscar Levant once avoided a speeding ticket because he was listening to Beethoven on his car radio. He told the police officer, “You can’t possibly hear the last movement of Beethoven’s Seventh, and go slow.”


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Edgar Lee Masters: Mickey M’Grew (Spoon River Anthology)

IT was just like everything else in life:
Something outside myself drew me down,
My own strength never failed me.
Why, there was the time I earned the money
With which to go away to school,
And my father suddenly needed help
And I had to give him all of it.
Just so it went till I ended up
A man-of-all-work in Spoon River.
Thus when I got the water-tower cleaned,
And they hauled me up the seventy feet,
I unhooked the rope from my waist,
And laughingly flung my giant arms
Over the smooth steel lips of the top of the tower—
But they slipped from the treacherous slime,
And down, down, down, I plunged
Through bellowing darkness!