Monthly Archives: November 2021

Homeless in Missouri

Hannibal without elephants;
Mark Twain sang here,
slept here,
ate here.
A valid point
Put forward by my noisy abdomen.
I’m famished.

Ancient samaritan shopkeeper
Tosses morsels of stale dogma
To me from his doorway.
Phrases I joyously consume
With a can of cold beans
And a pickle.

My ear accepts the bribe
To my stomach
While my soul
Smiles politely
And declines with thanks.

Arid words from my host,
Quench my thirst
When seasoned
With love
And beans
And a lark calling from around the bend.

From Poems of the New Old West
Copyright, 2003 Jack Purcell

Following the bumper-sticker path to wisdom

Jack wrote this in February, 2006:

Hi Blogsters:

I spent a while this morning visiting various blogs, groups and reading blasts.  Stayed mostly away from the news feeds, however.

But I came away renewed, refreshed and relaxed from all the exercise dodging ricochets of wisdom, originality and profundity.

  • Found out Love’s a big deal however it happens to be packaged, especially if it’s universal and unconditional (not making any demands), and I was appropriately edified with the knowing of it.
  • Found out pets are cute and smart, which I hadn’t noticed before,
  • Found out wild animals wouldn’t hurt a flea, mostly, unless it’s the fault of some human,

I suppose I’ve almost exhausted that source of wisdom for the moment.  Thinking next I’m going to study the labels on food cans.

Best to you all,



Jack wrote this in November, 2005:

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Evening blogsters:

I’m going to insist on believing there’s someone out there interested in this stuff, even though there’s reason for thinking so, other than my own enthusiasm for such things.  That’s sufficient to make up for profound disinterest in the multitudes.

Tonight I feel moved to ramble on about fetishes.  Rock art religious objects usually depicting animals, establishing a connection between the owner of the fetish and the traits or spirit of the animal being depicted.  There’s a lot of rock art out there these days made by the tribes, particularly the Zunis, but it differs between itself and a fetish because there’s no spiritual connection.

If you wished to change the modern rock art piece you happen to own into a fetish there are ways to do it, but most don’t know, or don’t choose to do so.  You could begin by holding the object in your hand, studying it with an internal intensity, and muttering the words, “Thank you Ulysses Mat’e, (or whomever the artist was) for freeing this (lion, dream sheep mother, badger, bear, whatever) from the dumbness of stone.”  A beginning.

Animal fetishes have been around for an awfully long time among Native Americans.  Probably elsewhere, also.  The puma fetish pictured below is almost a thousand years old.  A friend found it at a ruin on my Y2K land that’s well dated.  The dwelling was among those destroyed during the civil war of about 1125 AD.  More about that later.

However, look closely at the crude work.  You’ll see a line, an arrow of sorts running from the head/mouth of the lion to the right ending about the abdomen.  That’s the heart-line, and it’s another characteristic you often find in fetishes.

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This is another old one, also crude.  It represents a bird.  (Note from Jeanne: Sadly, I cannot find this fetish, or even a photo of it).  Maybe a roadrunner, maybe a quail, maybe a vulture or predatory bird.  You can see the chips were taken out to bring the shape of the head into the lower left and depicting the beak in the curvature of the red area.

One of the fascinating aspects of this fetish lies in the fact that someone, maybe generations of someones a long time ago, carried this fetish in his medicine bag.  The chip edges are all worn until there;s no edge to them, rounded by wear in a way that would require an awfully long while in a rock tumbler to duplicate.

As it happens, I wear a medicine bag around my neck with a number of objects inside that have been with me for years.  This fetish rides with them.

Safe Thanksgiving to all of you, and joy.


The Snowdens of yesteryear

Jack wrote this in September, 2005:

Evening blogsters.

It’s a blustering night out in mountain New Mexico.  Lightning out to the west, heavy cloud cover and gusting wet winds.  The windows are closed for the first time in several months, cats are outdoors, but hugging the porch.

When I went into Bernalillo to get the tickets for the PB draw tonight I found myself in something of a time warp for a brief while.  Driving along in the twilight I went a couple of blocks when this was sometime else, sometime a long time ago in my life, a time when warp and woof of long-time-ago friends were present.  A couple of blocks of forgotten warmth for almost forgotten people, and back to the now.

Driving back up the mountain I got to thinking, maybe because of the time-warp thing, about a time in late winter when I was consumed with the Zuni Mountains as part of the Adams Diggings mystery.  I’d been prospecting, before winter, an area on the west face where Oso Ridge is one with the Continental Divide, where the range drops off and is bounded by two paleo coral reefs parallel to the ancient shoreline forming two walls several hundred feet high with long canyons between the outer and inner one, between the inner one and the west face of the Zunis.

It had seemed a long winter.  I had a serious case of cabin fever and I needed to get out there to look things over.  But there was a good snowpack that year, so it was going to be difficult.

In those days I was driving a ’86 Mitzu Montero… best off road vehicle I’ve ever owned.  I had a lot more confidence in that truck than my passengers had in it.  I’d sworn with chains on all four wheels that truck would go anywhere a mule could go.

Pavement ends near McGaffey, and the road was okay.  I could tell it was deep snow on the forest road headed west, but after a certain amount of argument from a lady friend of the time and a friend, I put the speed into it and let those chains carry me out on that crusty snow until my momentum ran out.  When the truck stopped I was a quarter-mile further than I needed to be.  Hopped out the driver-side and went up to the hips in crusty snow, though the truck, to all appearances was only up to the flat belly.

We threw out a tarp and picknicked there on that snow crust, then worked until evening digging a path back to a place where a couple of the wheels could touch the ground.

A pair of chains on the front wheels of a 4×4 and the poor old truck can use some judgement as to what it will get you into.  But you put them all around, that truck will get you into places where it’s likely to be until snowmelt in the spring.

Occasionally you’ll run into one of those early in the spring, a truck some guy no smarter than me took somewhere it needed to be chained and beaten to go, sitting there stripped by anyone who wanted to pack anything out, use the hood for a sled to carry the valuables.

Ah well.  There’s a story you really didn’t need to hear.  Just drifting here, listening to the wind, the rain on the tin can over the roof vent, the sound of winter tuning up.


Looking for horses in my stead

Jack wrote this in March, 2006. I’m posting it again on his birthday.

I came across this Taoist tale about 50 years ago and copied down to help me keep my eye on what I thought needed keeping an eye on in my life:

Duke Mu of Chin said to Po Lo:  “You are now advanced in years.  Is there any member of your family whom I could employ to look for horses in your stead?”

Po Lo replied, “A good horse can be picked out by its general build and appearance.  But the superlative horse – one that raises no dust and leaves no tracks – is something evanescent and fleeting, elusive as thin air.  The talents of my sons lie on a lower plain altogether; they can tell a good horse when they see one, but they cannot tell a superlative horse.  I have a friend, however, one Chiu-fang Kao, a hawker of fuel and vegetables, who in things appertaining to horses is nowise my inferior.  Pray, see him.”

Duke Mu did so, and subsequently dispatched him on the quest for a steed.  Three months later, he returned with the news that he had found one.  “It is now in Shach’iu.”

“What kind of horse is it?”

“Oh, it is a dun colored mare.”

However, someone being sent to fetch it, the animal turned out to be a coal-black stallion!

Much displeased, the Duke sent for Po Lo.  “That friend of yours,” he said, “whom I commissioned to look for a horse, has made a mess of it.  Why, he cannot even distinguish a beast’s color or sex!  What on earth can he know about horses?”

Po Lo heaved a sigh of satisfaction.  “Has he really got as far as that?”  he cried.  “Ah, then, he is worth ten thousand of me put together.  There is no comparison between us.  What Kao keeps in view is the spiritual mechanism.  In making sure of the essential, he forgets the homely details;  intent on the inward qualities, he loses sight of the external.  He sees what he wants to see, and not what he does not want to see.  He neglects those that need not be looked at.  So clever a judge of horses is Kao, that he has it in him to judge something better than horses.”

When the horse arrived, it turned out indeed to be a superlative animal.

Not many people are looking for horses nowadays.

I hope a few of you blogsters are looking for them and that you’re better at it than I’ve been.


Wednesday morning

Jack wrote this in September, 2005:

Good morning blogsters:

Nice rain falling the morning.  At least for about ten minutes it was a nice rain, parenthesized on both ends by a sweet mist.

I managed to not get to town recently enough to re-stock my Rez-cheapo smoke supply, so ended up rolling a Bugler to harmonize with the java while I sat on the front porch savoring that moisture gift.  But the growing season’s coming to an end.  This bit of rain won’t do much for the handful of jalapeno, habeneros and tomatoes still on the plants.

It was a  tough year to be a growing thing in these parts (unless you happened to be a growing coyote).  I’d pruned back the apricot trees last winter, along with the apples and plums, so none of them bore much.  A few scraggly 75 year old grape vines I’d been nursing back gave off a few purples, but I have high hopes for all of them for next year, provided this long drought’s really at an end.

We rarely see vultures in this part of the country, but yesterday I saw a large bird land in the pecan trees out back.  At first I took it to be an eagle, which we see more of than we’d like, but as it rustled around in the branches a raven attacked it and harried it out so I got a better look.  Turkey vulture.

The raven chased it off as ravens will do, which is why we don’t get many.  But half-an-hour later I heard the limbs rustling again.  This time that pecan tree was full of them.  I counted a dozen when they flew off a while later.

Got me thinking there’s a large animal dead somewhere nearby.  I haven’t begun the coyote reduction program, or it would have had me out checking my snares.

Maybe some of the local patriots caught a war protestor.  I dunno.

There’s been a lot of throwing around of the word ‘traitors’ during the recent whizbang threatening peace rally.  Maybe the citizenry is beginning to believe its own BS, decided to take matters into their own hands.

That’s one of the problems with throwing around words like ‘traitor’, and Communist.  They carry a lot of baggage.

Half a century of warfare waged without due process has made a casualty of the concept of a loyal opposition.  For you younger readers, loyal opposition used to be the term that acknowledged most issues have two sides, and that it’s possible for someone to disagree with a particular direction the nation’s taking while still being as pristine in his patriotism as the other side.

Civil discourse went away with a lot of other things we used to take for granted.

Each side demonizes and assigns sinister motives to the other on a more-or-less daily basis.  Doesn’t stretch the imagination too far to imagine the uncivil discourse reaching out of the mind and into real-world activity and touching someone where it hurts.

Poor America.



Jack wrote this in September, 2006:

Hi blogsters:

A couple of days ago I came across a tattered copy of Henri Charrèire’s, Papillon on the bookshelf.   I’d read it many times over the decades, but there’s always one more read left in it, it seems.  This might be the last.

Charrière’s autobiography always has something new to tell me, depending on where my life is when I re-read it.

Papillon (Charrière) was transported to the French prison islands of Guinea in the Caribbean in 1931, where thousands of prisoners were kept out of sight and mind of the French citizenry.  Devil’s Island was the most well known, but it was only one of the camps where 80 percent of the prisoners died before serving out their sentences.

The book is a story of courage, determination, brutality, as Papillon goes through a series of escape attempts, dungeons, unthinkable tortures, solitary confinements at a time in history when the ‘civilized world’ was no more civilized than it was before, or since.  Eventually, he escaped and became a worthy citizen of Venezuela from 1945 until he wrote the book in 1967.

In some ways the writing and the stories both remind me of the fiction works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Strange how some nationalities get all the credit, while others manage to escape notice.  The Spaniards and Portuguese take their battering from the waning memories of the Inquisition.  The Russians from the Gulag camps.  The Chinese from the Great Cultural Revolution.  The Belgians from the terrors they poured onto the Congo.  The Cambodians, the Ethiopians and the Germans have all been held up to the light and examined with appropriate repudiation.

Somehow the Brits and the French just managed to escape notice when the recognition for some of the vilest institutionally sanctioned acts of human brutality in modern human history were being passed around.

Papillon.  A book worth reading and thinking about by all you ‘jail’em-til-they-rot’ enthusiasts.

We haven’t caught up to the French, Brits, Spaniards, Cambodians, Chinese, Russians, Belgians, Germans, and other civilized nations yet.  But we have the ingredients.

Plenty of prisoners and prisons.  A freedom-loving population of the same kind of jurors, courts, prosecutors who sent Papillon and thousands of others off to a life and deaths they’d never tolerate for any cute animal that appeared in a Walt Disney film named Bambi.


Admonition – A Dialogue with the Abyss



Back against the abyss

Eyes ears nose strain forward

Into smelly chaos cacophony

Slap, pain. pink worm screams

Light blur heavy air

Masked bandit

“It’s a boy.”


(What the hell?)

Blur coos tweaks incubators

(Anything I need to know

About this crap?)

“You’re going to die.”

(Well, at least there’s that.

These other bastards got to stay?)

“No.  Them too.

All going to die.”

(Weird.  So what we waiting for?

Let’s get this show on the road.)

“You have to wait a while.

Those others have to die

First.  Mostly.”

(Cripes!  I gotta stand in line?)

“That’s a way of looking at it.”

(So what the hell am I supposed to do


“Forget what I’ve just told you.

You’ll find something.”

(It’s so damned boring

And it even hurts)

“Don’t look back

Keep your eyes away

From where you’ve been

And where you’re going.”

(But all these other bastards

Stirring around making racket

Doing backflips and cartwheels

What the hell is that all about?)

“Before you can talk about it

You’ll come to think

All that is what’s important.

(Say what?)

“Watch them you’ll soon see

They never look into the abyss.”

(Yeah.  I noticed

They’re playing pinball

And masturbating

Let me the hell out of here)

“Don’t try to cut in line

Ahead of someone else.

You’ll screw things up.

I mean it.”

From Poems of the New Old West 

Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell

12 O’clock High

Jack wrote this in September, 2006:

Morning to you.

Jeanne loaned me some old movies a while back.  I don’t have a television, but I do have a thing with a VCR attached to it so’s I’m able to look at movies when I have them and don’t want to read or do something else.

Watched 12 Oclock High last night.

Not a bad movie as old post-WWII movies go.  Gregory Peck Generalling a B-17  Flying Fortress bomber command during the early stages of precision daylight bombing.

The air-combat scenes were all actual wing-camera footage from German wing-cameras and US bomber gun-cameras taken in actual combat, so while it had reality it lacked the drama found in staged footage.  Those combat footages can never compete with special effects and pilots/gunners who aren’t wetting their pants and wondering if they’ll be alive in five minutes.

I don’t recall ever being impressed before by how young all those guys were.

Seventeen, eighteen-year-old baby faced youngsters swiveling around in gun-turrets behind .50 caliber machine guns at 20,000 feet trying to kill twenty-year-old Germans who are trying to kill them.

Reminded me a bit of Joseph Hellerman’s paranoid B-17 pilot in Catch 22.

“They’re trying to kill me!” Yosarian declared to the psychiatrist.  “They hate me.”

“What makes you think they hate you?”

“Every time I go up to drop bombs on them they try to shoot me down,” Yosarian lamented.

Sounds strangely contemporary.


Ask Old Jules: Modern Technology stops, A beautiful spirit, Favorite quote, Blank book title, Why aren’t more men feminist?

3.22.03 and back ups 1098

Old Jules, what would happen if all modern day technology were to suddenly stop working?

Public water supplies and sewage treatment facilities gone, transportation facilities for food gone, refrigeration gone. One week: half the population dead One month: 3/4 the population dead Six months: Scattered small communities starving, but getting by near lakes in warm climates

Old Jules, what do you think it means to have a beautiful spirit?

It means your spirit resembles that of a jellicle cat.

Old Jules, what is your most favorite quote ever?

Lyndon Johnson when told about the successful launch of Explorer I [the first US object into orbit]: “A basketball that goes ‘beep’? The only thing I want to hear about a basketball that goes beep is that someone threw one into the men’s room in the Kremlin!”

Old Jules, what would be a good title for a book with blank pages?

Everything You Need to Know for a Bachelors Degree in Education and a Teaching Certificate

Old Jules, why aren’t more men feminist?

I was married 25 years to a woman who was a pioneer in 1960s-forward feminism of the reality variety. She struggled her way up in her profession until she was at the top, had a thousand-or-so male and female professionals working for her. Smartest woman I’ve ever known. One of her favorite observations about later young feminists was that if women ever want to get anywhere in life and be at all happy or content they’re going to have to cease being their own worst enemies. They’re going to have to quit superimposing current values on the past as a means of seeing themselves as victims. Blaming men for their troubles is a waste and it’s disgustingly self-defeating.