Monthly Archives: October 2022

Another letter to Julia, age 6, Nov. 1999, (Part One)

Jack had already moved into his Y2K cabin and met my family when he wrote this:

Hi Julia,
Thanks for the butterfly you colored. I’m trying to find just the right place for it–if the refrigerator was higher, the door would be perfect- but in the absence of that I’ve thumb-tacked it to one of the wall studs for the time being.
Your suggestion about getting the chickens to peck a hole in the paper was a good one. However, I think you failed to take into account the communist leanings of these birds.
We had a conference on the matter and the chickens decided they were going to stand shoulder to shoulder on the matter– that they must have unanimity on it before anyone did any pecking, so as to make certain no one used the issue to curry special treatment (this while most of the Aracaunas and the black silk lace layers cast dark looks at the silkies, and certain others scowled at Lady McBeth).
In any case they couldn’t reach agreement, and the default position was that no one would peck the paper.
However, upon seeing the picture you sent the black Jap hen- Madame Butterfly- softened a bit– she hinted vainly that the coloring was intended for her. Madame Butterfly is an anarchist in any case.
So when the other birds were involved in matters important to chicken-hood– commenting in soft clucks to one another about the stuff they were scratching, jumping on tables knocking things off, scurrying here and there for morsels claimed by someone else, dodging guineas, and being alternately scared and aggressive; during all that Madame Butterfly came to me and gave me permission to say hello in her stead– a sort of Power of Attorney to sign for her.
So, not without grave reservations for the repercusions should the other chickens learn of it; not to mention the opportunities the black jap will now have for coercion or even extortion, I bend to your wishes and hers:

(Peck hole made by chicken here)

Madame Butterfly, Black Japanese Bantam, The Great Continental Divide
November 30, 1999.

Miss Naiad was badly injured by an owl last night– she is lucky to be alive.
I think it was probably a road rage incident but as you are probably know already, owls in these parts are known for drive-by shootings, too. It isn’t uncommon– you might have seen them yourself if you happened to catch them in your flashlight, baggy feathers and cap turned backward.

(To be continued…)

Virus of the Mind

Virus of the mind

The drumbeat litany of hatred
And blame;
Of smug mindless naiveté
Numbs the mind.
Alienation is a welcome gift
From the universe
When it involves not the inability
To identify with THAT.

The preoccupation with death
As though death is an unnatural state,
Created by a dark maker for the shallow purpose
Of providing a source of terror and sadness
For tiny humans;
Leaves me with a yearning.

Just once I’d like to see a poem
Just once.
A poem full of truths:

“I gave you permission
to hurt me and make me angry;
because of my illusions and expectations
you never agreed to satisfy
and didn’t
now I’m angry.

“I wanted you to behave a certain way.
Because I wanted it, I demanded it
In my expectations of you
without saying so.

“I wanted you to give up your choices.
I didn’t want it
because giving them up would make you
Or more fulfilled.
I just wanted it because I wanted it.

“I’m used to getting my way.
I’ll hate you if I don’t get it.

“I’ll hate you fiercely
and if that doesn’t work
I’ll threaten to kill myself
Just to get you back.”


“I’m angry.  I’ve always been angry.
Life isn’t fair and it pisses me off.
I haven’t gotten everything I want.
Sometimes my parents weren’t kind to me;
Didn’t give me what I wanted.

“I talk to my friends and they’re angry, too.
The more we talk the more we realize life isn’t fair
And it pisses us off.

“We talk among ourselves
About how cool it would be
To kill some of those flawed bastards
We don’t like.

“We savor our anger; our hatred
We wallow in it
And think of different ways we’d like to kill
The bastards we don’t like;
How much we’d enjoy killing.
We all know
Because took a voice vote.

“Some nerd who wears his glasses crooked
And isn’t cool;
Some football jock who gets all the girls
We’d like to get;
We hate the girls and the jocks.

“Some sarcastic adult who isn’t cool
And doesn’t respect our views
About how the world is.

“We’d like to kill them all.
We took a voice vote
And we all agree.”

“We haven’t studied much
Nor read much
Nor lived much
Nor listened much
But that doesn’t keep us
From knowing how life is;
How life should be.”

“We’re angry and we’d like to kill them all!
We took a voice vote.”


Jack Purcell
Poems of the New Old West
Copyright 2004

Ask Old Jules: Relationship question, Homosexuality, Hidden truths, Understanding affairs

Harper, TX 2010 123

Old Jules, will things get better? My girlfriend said she wanted to go on a break but she said she couldn’t really give me a reason why.

Doesn’t sound promising. When a woman wants to take a break it usually means she’s wing-walking. Wants to make certain she has her foot solidly down on the wing of the other aircraft before she entirely lifts her foot off this one. Taking it as it comes might be your best bet.

Old Jules, do you talk to people you pretend are there?

I frequently go ‘back’ and have conversations with myself at crucial moments in my life.

Old Jules, in your opinion, is homosexuality wrong?

Homosexuality would be wrong for me. Old habits are hard to break and I’ve been hetero for almost 70 years. On the other hand, if I had it to do over starting today I’d probably choose to be gay. Seeing what’s happened to women during the last 50 years and what young women are like today I can easily understand why a young man would prefer other men, dogs, cats, cattle or sheep instead of them.

Old Jules, what truths do you think your hiding from yourself?

I’m being hunted relentlessly by the Men in Black, but I don’t let myself acknowledge it. So are other people and they don’t let themselves think about it either.

Old Jules, would anything change if we made love?

The world would shift for you but for me it’s pretty much old hat. I’d give it a yawn and say thanks. I’m going out for smokes. I’ll be right back.

Old Jules, I don’t understand AFFAIRS. Why do they even happen in the first place? Are they preventable?

Best answer: Affairs happen because men and women draw pleasure from rubbing their genitals against the genitals of the opposite sex. If the affair involves two people involved in other ‘exclusive’ relationships it usually is because they aren’t rubbing their genitals against the people they’re having the exclusive relationships with as frequently, or in the manner they wish. They’d probably be preventable in exclusive relationships if the two partners cared enough for one another to carefully listen to what was being said and if they concerned themselves with whether the exclusive partners were satisfied, and if not, why not.


Andrew Stack

A man named Andrew Stack flew his small plane into a building that houses IRS offices. Here are Jack’s comments about it:

A man named Andrew Stack flew his small plane into a building that houses IRS offices, killing one person and injuring several others. Apparently several years ago the IRS audited his business and found wrong doing as far as not paying some of his taxes and the shut down his business and ruined him.
Now if this happened to one of our elected crime family members in Washington, they simply would have said it was an honest mistake on their part and paid up the back taxes they tried to hide and not pay and then would have been given a high paying position somewhere in the septic tank called Washington.

So now the question……was Mr. Stack a terrorist or a patriot?

He was neither patriot nor terrorist. He was a man who clearly articulated his position and his reasoning, then acted in the way he believed was most appropriate within his sphere of reality. Pretending he was insane isn’t a viable option unless the manifesto was a singular point of view, not shared by legions of other US citizens teetering on the brink of some sort of ‘individual solution’.

My personal thought is that if I was an employee of the IRS I’d be looking for another job, and if I was a member of whatever portion of the government formulates policy I’d be looking deeply into the event, as opposed to brushing it off with simplistic declarations involving his reasoning or sanity..

Stack didn’t make the choices you and I would make in his place, but it’s entirely possible his choices are nevertheless those a lot of others in his position could make. If his thoughts as he expressed them are a mirror of widespread anger this country might well remember the day as one that will live in infamy.

Whatever the solution it won’t be found in conjectures about his sanity, his courage, his character. Those kinds of value judgements merely turn our eyes away from what he might well represent.


Edit: It seems to me one major factor putting a razor edge on the anger of people who might otherwise just seeth is daytime talk radio spewing out negativity and polarizing the population. Blaming one party or the other for the problems going on is the antithesis of movement in a direction to keep edge-skaters from carrying things to the limit.

Eternal Wisdom of Young Writers (poem)

Eternal Wisdom Of Young Writers

Some things can be depended on
Some things never change
Flies still swarm around
The ripe carcass of a horse

English departments
Still deride
Robert Frost
Entirely ignoring now
Edgar A Guest
(Carl and Eddie
Didn’t make the cut)
Not even
Remembered well enough
To enjoy the scorn
Of these
(How demeaning!)
Those two
Dead ‘poets
Of the people’

Pointee headed
And unpublished poets.
Repudiate the works
Of their unpublished peers
By calling it ‘Frostian’
Do they?
They do.

How it tingles
How it rings
After all these years

Old Robert
Old king Robert
Old published poet
Laureate Robert
The Frostiest
Of the
Would have smiled

And written a poem

Jack Purcell
Poems of the New Old West ©2003

Ask Old Jules: Source of problems, Future home, Saving grace, One important thing, Hardest question

JackCDbackupJune03 536

Old Jules, are we actually the source of all of our own problems? Some people take the attitude that other people create all of their problems and some people believe that they are the source of their own torment. Which one is the most accurate and why?

We’re the ones making a choice as to whether we view it as a problem [unwanted difficulty] or a [welcome] challenge. If we’re able to approach life with an attitude welcoming difficulties the only influence others can have is to hand us blessings others might believe are problems.
But in most instances, even if we view them as problems we bear an overwhelming responsibility for creating them one way or another.
I just, for instance, spent a big part of the day working on a communist fuel line on a 1983 Ford F350 truck. An engineer in 1983, most likely, was responsible for the design that led to a job that should have taken 30 minutes becoming a full day of work and three different trips to town previously… 240 miles driven because of a lousy design.
Naturally, I’m glad and ecstatic it ain’t fixed yet.

Old Jules, what do you want to see in your future home? I’m an Interior Design student, and I’m working on this design project where I have to design a furniture piece for the future. The furniture piece may be in your living room or kitchen. Any suggestions?

A urinal would be nice. Something discrete behind a screen so a person could keep reading his book and absent-mindedly relieve himself without losing his place.

Old Jules, what has been your saving grace or graces?

Forcing self-doubt, then reinforcing it as a daily ritual has helped a lot. Forgiving others for not having enough self-doubt also helps.

Old Jules, what is the most important thing you can tell me?

Life’s a lot more complicated than you [almost certainly] believe it is and nothing much is as it seems. Allow yourself to not know as much as you are inclined to think you do.

What is the hardest question to you?

Time. Everything comes back to it.

Chicken history, Human history

 (This was written in response to a question I can’t locate to people on the Yahoo group of people raising chickens– Jeanne)

The brotherhood will probably drop me over the side wrapped in sailcloth weighed down with a 12 pound shot for telling, but you could think of it in terms of chicken history, which is contained in individual minds of living humans because nobody’s written it down. Most of the memories containing the history are female because for some reason the females have been the ones taking care of chickens, knowing them. It’s true today as well.

The memories that stand out about individual chickens involve function and behavior. We remember rambunctious roosters, recalcitrant roosters, smart roosters, mean roosters, roosters with unusual crowing habits. We remember hens who were the best layers, the most nurturing brooders and moms, the most touching and heart-winning in one way or another.

Written history of human beings has always been a hodgepodge, a combination of noteworthy, unusual, along with a propaganda slant when taught to children during their formative years, and it gets carried into adulthood as truth though much of it isn’t true, or is only mildly true, particularly when it concerns national historical memories. It;s biased because the function it serves is agenda-based, though probably mostly unconsciously. People filter it at the extreme ends of the bell curve, but the center gets held as truth, held passionately oftentimes. Aaron Burr, Benedict Arnold run down one side of that thread, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln down the other. Betsy Ross, Clara Barton, Calamity Jane, Belle Starr.

The idiosyncracies of Caligula have definitely gotten better billing in the history books than, say, Queen Ranalovana I of Madagascar or Lucretia Borgia or the more bizarre side of Catherine the Great, but they’ve been there. Probably that’s the ‘male version’ you’re referring to.

What’s new is a function of written history where, say, a female stowaway aboard the HMS Victory at Trafalgar who helped put out fires below-decks gets equal page-space with Horatio Nelson. That builds into kids being asked how she ‘contributed’ to the victory at Trafalgar for homework and tests.

Nothing wrong with it, I suppose. Particularly because history’s always been a place where shadows pace around waiting for cues to come out for the audience to contribute to this or that modern agenda.

The male in me finds Joan of Arc, Lucretia Borgia and the Russian Cat-bird interesting enough to fill the needs. I figure someone would have put out the below-deck fires on the Victory, no matter what sex they were.


The New Paradigm

The New Paradigm

When the old rules cease to function
And the new ones aren’t yet firm;
When there’s no implied injunction
On the method or the term;

Paradigms collapse.
Foot trails are the sequel.
No more roadmaps.
It’s all equal.

Rate of climb
Oil pressure
What’s the standard?
What’s the measure?

Raw intention
Gut emotion
Apt invention
Words in motion

That’s the standard.
That’s the sequel.
It’s all equal.

Jack Purcell
Poems of the New Old West
Copyright 2004

Ask Old Jules: Liar?, Evolved to death?, Define love, What is God?

Jack at 24 Camino los Altos

Old Jules, is your life a tangled web of lies or are you a straight shooter?

As nearly as I can discern my life isn’t complex enough to have any room for lies. Sometimes it takes me two shots to dispatch a predator chasing my chickens, however.

Old Jules, have we evolved ourselves to death?

I don’t believe we’ve evolved ourselves to death. We might have selectively bred and culled ourselves to death through war, genocide, feticide, and media-inspired ideals of ‘perfect mates’ and beauty. The 20th Century did a lot of culling and a lot of selective breeding concurrently. The outcome of that insofar as the human gene pool remains to be seen. I happen to live in the ‘wild’ and it’s good from my perspective, but I don’t know whether it would make anyone happy unless the person was inclined to be happy anyway. Probably contentment is a lot more difficult in a more complex social environment, I’d guess based on my own experience. Solitude works for me and it might work for others. As for marriage making us happy or making us unhappy, my personal view is that it’s unlikely. Trying to depend on something outside ourselves for happiness seems doomed to failure.

Old Jules, what’s a definition of love? Why to do some relationships work and others fail?

You already know what you think love is. It is that. Marriage is an agreement of a man and a woman to attempt to live together in harmony. It can work by accident, or it can work by explicit communications between the two parties involved. If each has explicitly defined what’s expected of the other and each has agreed to march to the drum of the expecations of the other in precise detail it can help. It can also help if each agrees to confine the expectations to those communicated and agreed to, as opposed to allowing them to take root and grow in the background without anything being communicated except through sulking, hand-wringing, tears, and “What’s wrong?” “Nothing!” “No. I can tell something’s wrong. What is it?” “Nothing.”

Old Jules, what is God?

Consider an egg with a self-aware, intelligent chick inside. To the chick the inside of the egg is reality. Outside a hen turns the egg every several house gently pecks it, all manner of external environmental phenomena reach the shell and are communicated inside to the chick in the form of noise, movement, vibration, temperature, etc, which the chick is able to sense. But the reality for that chick is inside the egg and its in for a tough job of work figuring out what it’s all about, whether anything exists outside the wall of that shell. Now expand the shell and put 6 billion chicks inside it. God is the hen.

Old Jules, what’s a small detail that you wish other people would realize?

That what other people realize or don’t realize is not their affair, not their business. Dealing with our own realizations and lack of them is plenty difficult enough and we aren’t skilled enough at it to justify a belief we’re wise enough to know what other’s need to realize. I surely wish others would realize this. Yes, I surely do.

Excerpt from a very long letter

Jack wrote this in 1999 or 2000:

I think it would be a timely thing for you to cease the self-recriminations about things- the past is past, now is now, future is future.

The past is sealed, dated, and notarized- filed away. The future is little more than a ghost of the imagination, of potential potential. Any focus or energy we direct to either of those is wasted energy if it goes beyond idle reflection.  Both drain the significance of the moment- all this to say the gift of hindsight is truly a gift only if we tame it and don’t allow it to become anything more than the elevator music of our lives.

Despite appearances, you own the past- it doesn’t own you. You have the power to force it into the back room closet or allow it into the dining room to eat at the table with you or into the living room to sleep on the couch and get into the way of your life and the lives of others.

The concept of deserving kindness is another one that’s destructive to the growth of the soul. We don’t go through life on some roller-coaster of worth or value based on our behavior of today, of last week.

I don’t know whether the physical manifestation of each of us in this reality is of equal value or not, but I think I can say with certainty the issue isn’t whether a person deserves kindness or not. Certainly each does. Sometimes we fail to remember this- some of us never learn it. You aren’t a paragon of virtue in this regard, and neither am I. Few people are. In the coming times some people might demand to be killed, by their behavior. Probably in those circumstances even, the real challenge isn’t in the avoidance of our responsibility to slaughter another human – the challenge will be to do it with kindness in our hearts, without malice, hatred, rancor. With the same respect for another human who demands the cessation of his life through his choices as we have for the chicken-killing hawk, the rabbit, doe, a fawn that steps into our sights at a time when our bodies demand a meal- the mouse which by its nature chews its way into our corn.

All this to say that unless we purge ourselves of the concept of whether we deserve kindness or respect for our own choices and behavior we’ll be unlikely to overcome the far more difficult challenge of giving respect and kindness to others when they make choices which are so contrary to our own interests or values. Not to say our responsibility doesn’t extend to looking out for our own interests forcibly if needed- just that when we do we dassen’t ever fail to do so in the recognition that this is a fellow soul on the long path- that where he is we’ve probably been or will be in some other life.

Despite our ego-driven beliefs to the contrary, most of the things we do or say, kind or unkind, have little importance in the lives of others. In those rare instances where this isn’t true the reason isn’t in us, but rather in the person who chooses to make it important. We have little influence on that choice in another person—rightfully so—the business of our lives is our own choices, which are plenty challenges enough.

So, when we choose to be kind and show genuine respect to others it has little to do with the other person or that person’s behavior- it’s a kindness to ourselves, mainly.  A recognition of our own thorny path- our own failures, and therefore a willingness to accept that other person and the thorny path that person walks.

I need a transition here to something else I want to say and the transition is awkward in this thought flow, almost trite.
One of the thornier paths we can choose to avoid self-damage is forgiveness. The only virtue in that path is that it avoids the even more destructive route of the state of unforgiveness (self- destructive- our unforgiveness rarely harms anyone but ourselves).

But genuine forgiveness by its nature has to be an act of self-forgiveness- a recognition that we are flawed- full of warts- that those flaws and warts are the water and fertilizer to our growth—with that recognition we can then recognize and forgive flaws in others without setting ourselves up on a superior moral plane and thereby stumbling into one of the multitude of tiger-traps hidden in the path of forgiveness.

When the path of forgiveness is allowed to lead into the more worthy path of self-forgiveness along with a recognition of the true nature of our flaws and warts, our failures–  all the instruments of growth—we’ve found a true path… along that path are the flowers of gratitude for the otherwise most devastating circumstances of the human condition.

The ultimate recognition that your life is about YOU- not about anyone else, is one of the phantoms we chase through life after life- until we recognize that simple, obvious fact we cycle through our lives blaming others, praising others, emulating others, seeking praise, seeking approval, seeking recognition in the eyes of others by doing for other and so on ad infinitum.

I’m not suggesting that doing for others is a bad thing- I am saying that the almost inevitable next step of elevating ourselves as a result of our having done so (in our own eyes- and always one eye on the approving glances of others) and especially when we make a fetish of it, is contrary to growth.

This is an ingeniously contrived reality we’ve chosen for ourselves here—it’s easy enough to understand how during the course of human history so many conflicting explanations as to the nature and purpose of life have emerged.

However, with all that, the reality hung two absolutes before us and lit them in neon—it was always there for every human to see, insistent, inarguable.

The first is the fundamental nature of the reality: every creature or life form must kill at least one other life form to live. ( Lichens and certain other plant forms are the exception, however, even most plants depend on the decomposition of the remains of living creatures for life).

This is an incredibly predatory reality- a fact which we’ve mostly forgotten through the eon, or failed to recognize the significance of it.

In order for us to achieve growth in this reality or any reality the way to growth must be to somehow act contrary to our own nature. However, we can’t possibly live without killing- even at a cellular level our bodies are engaged in warfare with other species.

And yet, given that fundamental truth, somehow the purpose of our lives here must be partially contained in the nature of the reality we chose- it’s too overwhelming otherwise.

Based on that, I’d say the ultimate goal we have here, the golden ring we are reaching for must be to spiritually transcend our predatory requirements for survival- not defeat them, but transcend them spiritually.

I believe that probably translates to recognition and respect for the oneness between ourselves and that which we consume at a profound spiritual level- I think this is what St. Francis was getting at.

We didn’t come here to voluntarily starve- we didn’t come here to kill ourselves with guilt or grief for the creature we kill- we didn’t come here to submerge ourselves in killing – to become the best killers in the entire reality- we didn’t come here to sanitize our killing and hide from it by wrapping it up in clear plastic so it’s unrecognizable as a part of the creature that died to provide it as food—

What’s left? What’s hardest?

We continue to kill- experience recognition, gratitude, respect for that creature, each creature that was forfeit for our survival. I think we probably had lost the battle for this as a species, not as individuals, long before the words “ And God gave dominion over…” ever were written on some clay tablet.

Finding the reason we’re here was probably never intended to be easy. Almost as soon as the words were said they begin to mist, to cloud. “Brother Hawk”- “Brother Raven”- “Brother Rabbit”- somehow assume a meaning other than the fundamental and obvious.

Hmm… I’ve digressed. I’ll save the other absolute for another time.