davidbrucehaiku: CHERRY BLOSSOM TIME






Cherry blossom time

Long on beauty, short on time

Full blooms last a week


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davidbrucebhaiku: spectacular




Skyscrapers and sky

Both are spectacular sights

Art reflects nature


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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s 2 HENRY VI: A Retelling in Prose — Act 2, Scene 3

— 2.3 —

In a hall of justice, the trial of Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester, was taking place. Present were King Henry VI, Queen Margaret, the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of York, the Duke of Suffolk, and the Earl of Salisbury. Also present were the defendants — the Duchess of Gloucester, Margaret Jourdain the witch, John Southwell and John Hume the priests, and Roger Bolingbroke the conjuror — all of whom were under guard and all of whom had been found guilty. Now they were learning what their punishment would be.

King Henry VI said, “Stand forth, Dame Eleanor Cobham, wife of the Duke of Gloucester. In the sight of God and us, your guilt is great. Receive the sentence of the law for sins such as by God’s book are punished by death.”

Exodus 22:18 states,“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (King James Version).

King Henry VI continued, speaking to Margaret Jourdain the witch, John Southwell and John Hume the priests, and Roger Bolingbroke the conjuror, “You four shall go from here back again to prison, and from there to the place of execution. The witch in Smithfield shall be burned to ashes, and you three shall be strangled — hung — on the gallows.”

He then said to the Duchess of York, “You, madam, because you are more nobly born, will be dispossessed of your honor in your life, and you shall, after three days of open penance have been done, live in your country here in banishment, with Sir John Stanley, in the Isle of Man.”

The Duchess of Gloucester replied, “Welcome is banishment; also welcome would be my death.”

The Duke of Gloucester said to her, “Eleanor, the law, you see, has judged you. I cannot excuse and exonerate a person whom the law condemns.”

The Duchess of Gloucester and the other prisoners, under guard, exited.

Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, said, “My eyes are full of tears, and my heart is full of grief. Ah, Humphrey, this dishonor in your old age will bring your head with sorrow to the ground! I ask your majesty to give me permission to go. Sorrow needs solace, and my old age needs ease.”

“Wait, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester,” King Henry VI said. “Before you go, give up your staff of office. I, Henry VI, will to myself be my own Lord Protector, and God shall be my hope, my stay and support, my guide, and my lantern to my feet.”

Psalm 71:5 states, “For thou art my hope, O Lord God[…]” (King James Version).

Psalm 18:19 states, “They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay” (King James Version).

Isaiah 58:11 states, “And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (King James Version).

Psalm 119:105 states, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (King James Version).

King Henry VI continued, “And go in peace, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, no less beloved than when you were Lord Protector to your King.”

Queen Margaret said, “I see no reason why a King who is no longer a minor should need to be protected like a child. May God and King Henry VI govern England’s realm. Give up your staff, sir, and the King’s realm.”

“Give up my staff?” the Duke of Gloucester said. “Here, noble King Henry VI, is my staff. I resign the staff as willingly as ever your father, King Henry V, made it mine; and even as willingly at your feet I leave it as others would ambitiously receive it.

“Farewell, good King. When I am dead and gone, may honorable peace attend your throne!”

The Duke of Gloucester exited.

Queen Margaret said, “Why, now Henry VI is King, and Margaret is Queen. Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, is scarcely himself because he bears so severe a maim. Two things at once have been pulled away from him: His lady has been banished, and a limb — his staff of office as Lord Protector — has been lopped off.

“This staff of honor snatched away from him, there let it stand, where it best is suitable to be, in King Henry VI’s hand.”

The Duke of Suffolk said, “Thus droops this lofty pine and thus hang his branches. Thus Eleanor’s pride dies in her youngest — most recent — days.”

“Lords, let him go and stop talking about him,” the Duke of York said. “If it pleases your majesty, this is the day appointed for the trial by combat, and the appellant and defendant — the armorer and his apprentice — are ready to enter the area of combat, if your highness would like to see the fight.”

“Yes, my good lord,” Queen Margaret answered for King Henry VI, “because for this purpose I left the court. I want to see this quarrel tried by combat.”

King Henry VI said, “In God’s name, see that the area of combat and all things are ready. Here let them end it; and may God defend the person who is in the right!”

The Duke of York said, “I never saw a fellow worse prepared, or more afraid to fight, than is the appellant, the apprentice of this armorer, my lords.”

From one direction came Horner the armorer and his neighbors, who were drinking to and with him so much that he was drunk. A drummer accompanied them, and Horner carried a staff with a sandbag fastened to one end. This weapon was lethal.

From another direction came Peter the apprentice, also with a drummer and a staff with a sandbag fastened to one end. Some apprentices accompanied and drank to him, but Peter abstained from drinking.

Horner’s first neighbor said, “Here, neighbor Horner, I drink to you a cup of the wine called sack, and fear not, neighbor Horner, you shall do well enough in the trial by combat.”

Horner’s second neighbor said, “And here, neighbor Horner, here’s a cup of the wine called charneco.”

Horner’s third neighbor said, “And here’s a pot of good double-strong beer, neighbor Horner. Drink, and don’t be afraid of your apprentice.”

Horner said, “Let the bowl of alcohol come to me, in faith, and I’ll drink to the health of you all, and here’s a fig for Peter!”

He made an obscene gesture in Peter’s direction.

The first apprentice said, “Here, Peter, I drink to you, and don’t be afraid.”

The second apprentice said, “Be merry, Peter, and don’t be afraid of your master. Fight for the credit and reputation of the apprentices.”

“I thank you all,” Peter said. “Drink, and pray for me, I ask you, because I think that I have taken my last drink in this world.

“Here, Robin, if I die, I give you my apron.

“And, Will, you shall have my hammer.

“And here, Tom, take all the money that I have.

“Oh, may the Lord bless me, so I pray to God! I am never able to deal with my master in combat because he has learned so much fencing already.”

The Earl of Salisbury said, “Come, stop your drinking, and fall to blows.

“Sirrah, what’s your name?”

“Peter, indeed.”

“Peter! What the rest of your name?”

“Thump,” Peter Thump said.

“Thump!” the Earl of Salisbury said. “Then see you thump your master well.”

Horner said, “Masters, I have come here, as it were, upon my apprentice’s instigation, to prove that he is a knave and that I myself am an honest man. Concerning the Duke of York, I will stake my death that I never meant him any ill, nor the King, nor the Queen.

“Therefore, Peter, I will come at you with a blow directed straight at you!”

“Let’s get started,” the Duke of York said. “This knave’s tongue begins to slur and double the time it takes him to say anything.

“Sound, trumpeters, the call to battle to the combatants!”

Horner and Peter fought, and Peter struck Horner a mortal blow.

Horner shouted, “Stop, Peter, stop! I confess, I confess treason. I am a traitor.”

He died.

This culture believed in the importance of confessing sins before dying. Doing so could keep one’s soul out of Hell.

“Take away the apprentice’s weapon,” the Duke of York said.

He then said to Peter, “Fellow, thank God, and the good wine that stood in your master’s way and kept him from doing what he was capable of doing while sober.”

Overjoyed, Peter said, “Oh, God, have I overcome my enemy in the presence of this royal assembly? Oh, Peter, you have prevailed in combat and proven that you are in the right!”

King Henry VI ordered, “Go, take that traitor away from here and out of our sight. From the fact of his death we perceive his guilt, and God in justice has revealed to us the truth and innocence of this poor fellow named Peter, whom Horner, the traitor, had wanted to have murdered wrongfully in the trial by combat.

“Come, fellow, follow us and receive your reward.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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David Bruce: Travel Anecdotes

In 1888, a dog entered the Albany, New York, post office and fell asleep on a mail bag. When the postal workers found the dog, they decided to adopt him and they named him Ownley. Ownley was a traveler. He followed the post office workers on their rounds, and he even started getting on board the mail cars on railroads and going where they went. On his first train trip, he went to New York City, then returned to Albany. Afraid that their dog might get lost, the post office workers made a tag for him to wear on his collar. The tag read, “Ownley, Post Office, Albany, New York.” Ownley traveled frequently and far, and people who took care of him often attached tags to his collar to show where he had been. Eventually he had so many tags and medals (for Most-Traveled Dog) that John Wanamaker, the Postmaster General of the United States, had a harness made for him so he could wear all the tags and medals. Ownley traveled to Canada, and perhaps Mexico, and on August 19, 1895, while in Tacoma, Washington, he walked up the gangplank of the steamship Victoria, where Captain Panton took care of him. In Yokohama, Japanese potentates saw his many medals and treated him respectfully. Ownley kept following the mail—to Foochow in China, back to Japan, and then to Hong Kong, Singapore, Suez, Algiers, and the Azores. The Port Philips carried him back to New York. Post office workers in Albany arranged for Ownley to go back to Tacoma, Washington, where on December 29, 1895, he completed his 132-day round-the-world journey.

Pat Sullivan and Rachel Cox are part of the sextet who make up the Brooklyn indie hard-touring band Oakley Hall. Pat’s Irish grandfather loved music, and he listened to it 18 hours a day—from the time he woke up to the time he went to sleep. He even had speakers rigged up in the trees and all over his property so he could listen to Irish music all day long. Pat, of course, spent time with him, and today he says, “It’s weird—now when I hear the Clancy Brothers, I know every single word and I have not listened to them in 25 or 30 years.” The members of Oakley Hall are not wealthy in financial terms, and perhaps they never will be wealthy in financial terms; however, Mr. Sullivan recognizes that different kinds of currency exist. For example, he and Ms. Cox well remember playing in Ireland. Mr. Sullivan says, “We played at a small fishing community called Myrtleville in Cork, and it was just this bed-and-breakfast where we played to a packed house by a fireplace, and everyone had Guinness Stout, and we had all these old fishermen just enraptured.” (And Ms. Cox remembers the snooker tables.) Halfway through their set, Mr. Sullivan realized that “it is music that has brought me here to this spot, to this moment.”

Near the end of his life, John Steinbeck and his pet poodle, Charley, traveled throughout the continental United States in a truck equipped with a camper, a journey he wrote about in Travels with Charley in Search of America. At the end of his journey, he drove into New York City, then pulled the truck over at the side of the street and started laughing. When a police officer asked if anything was wrong, Mr. Steinbeck replied, “I’ve driven this thing all over the country—mountains, plains, deserts. And now I’m back in my own town, where I live—and I’m lost.”

Children’s book author Jean Fritz works hard to write at least one book per year, but she also takes three weeks off each winter to go to a Caribbean island called Virgin Gorda. Of course, this often necessitates leaving an unfinished manuscript at her home. Because she worries about such tragedies as her house burning down while she is on vacation, she places her unfinished manuscript in the very safest place that she can think of—her refrigerator.

Being young and ignorant has its advantages. At the very beginning of her career, in 1928, modern dance pioneer May O’Donnell crossed the Atlantic in a ship. A very bad storm—which she called “one of the worst storms in the century”—occurred, and because she and the other young dancers did not realize in how much danger they were, they thought the rolling of the ship in the storm was fun.

Theatrical guru Danny Newman long ago brought 50 Blackfeet Native Americans to Chicago. Two of the Native Americans had been educated at college and were familiar with such technology as telephones and elevator; however, these things were new and exciting to the other Blackfeet, who stayed up all night calling each other on the telephones and riding up and down in the elevators.

As a painter in New York City, Hugh Troy was hired to help paint the huge globe of the world that revolved in the lobby of the Daily News building. Among other things, he painted a group of islands called the “Troy Islands.” He’s not sure that there are any islands at that particular place in the world, but if there are, he’s sure that they are named the Troy Islands.

Many homosexuals don’t want to come out of the closet, but it can have advantages. For example, when lesbian comedian Kate Clinton wants a little privacy, she will sometimes come out to her neighbors on a fairly crowded airplane so she doesn’t have any neighbors.

Melissa Hayden, a ballerina with the New York City Ballet, used to travel with a special circular bag which held a flattened tutu. Stewardesses often wondered what was in it, and Billy Weslow, a funny but sometimes crude NYCB dancer, often yelled, “It’s her diaphragm!”

Being a ballet dancer does not necessarily mean leading a glamorous life. Alicia Markova, one of the greats, remembers while travelling with the Ballet Russe walking through a train and seeing a “forest of legs”—48 pairs of pink tights hanging up to dry.

While dancing in Nairobi, ballerina Alicia Markova had to keep a cat in her dressing room to catch all the mice and keep them from living in her costume baskets.


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Edgar Lee Masters: Jacob Godbey and Benjamin Pantier (Spoon River Anthology)

Jacob Godbey

How did you feel, you libertarians,
Who spent your talents rallying noble reasons
Around the saloon, as if Liberty
Was not to be found anywhere except at the bar
Or at a table, guzzling?
How did you feel, Ben Pantier, and the rest of you,
Who almost stoned me for a tyrant
Garbed as a moralist,
And as a wry-faced ascetic frowning upon Yorkshire pudding,
Roast beef and ale and good will and rosy cheer—
Things you never saw in a grog-shop in your life?
How did you feel after I was dead and gone,
And your goddess, Liberty, unmasked as a strumpet,
Selling out the streets of Spoon River
To the insolent giants
Who manned the saloons from afar?
Did it occur to you that personal liberty
Is liberty of the mind,
Rather than of the belly?


Benjamin Pantier

Together in this grave lie Benjamin Pantier, attorney at law, 

And Nig, his dog, constant companion, solace and friend. 

Down the gray road, friends, children, men and women, 

Passing one by one out of life, left me till I was alone 

With Nig for partner, bed-fellow, comrade in drink. 

In the morning of life I knew aspiration and saw glory. 

Then she, who survives me, snared my soul 

With a snare which bled me to death, 

Till I, once strong of will, lay broken, indifferent, 

Living with Nig in a room back of a dingy office. 

Under my jaw-bone is snuggled the bony nose of Nig — 

Our story is lost in silence. Go by, mad world!