Reflections on Alex

It’s a pretty day in late January, but in a world largely devoid of joy, full of hate and fury, injustice and deception joyfully triumphant, the future shrouded in malodorous mists.  But still, … rays tinged in amber shades of joy break through.

I’m plodding my way through Norton’s anthology of English literature, Volume 2 after fifty or so years, I’m only on my second Poet, William Blake, someone deeply inspired by religion but who contrasted innocence with reality’s depravity, and as so often happens with almost anything, it made me think of my second son, Alex.  Ironic given Alex’s current views, But Alex, unlike so many now, is still open to other views.

Nothing in my life has ever been as beautiful as Alex as a young child.  Generous, full of love, and reveling in delight at the smallest things, almost no matter what.  A cry so beautiful no music compared in stirring my heart and motivating me to succeed.  So sharing and generous he set an example for me which I’ve always tried to follow.  His faith in me, the greatest reward I ever received.  He is very far away and I love and miss him very much.

He’s grown and changed a great deal, at least externally.  He’s a father now, and a husband, and an aspiring author.  His writing is mostly of battles and monsters and gore but I wonder if somewhere there isn’t a beautiful fragile flower full of hope waiting to be born.  Little Alex is still there, not all that far from the surface.  I wonder how he’d enjoy writing poetry instead.  Not in verse, he’s too free, too independent for that.  But his empathy has saved many a friend, and sometimes, a dad as well.

I recall that little children always loved him, and animals did too.  And friends always trusted him even if they’d once been antagonists and treated him poorly.  It’s hard not to come to love Alex: ask Salo and Paula, and now Missy too.  Layers upon layers and dreams upon dreams.  Trials upon trials I wish I could have spared from him, but life’s like that, the best laid plans too often go astray.  But still, Alex is Alex and nobody else, which is as it should be.

Reflections and dreams, rays of sunshine on bitter days, memories to warm the heart.  That was, is and always will be, … Alex to me.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

The Nevermore

Tis the morning of the night before
and I wake to memories that never were.

Stillborn echoes of inchoate dreams
so certain once but now,

lost in the nevermore,

calling like the ache
of a phantom limb still dreaming
of being restored.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Christmas Eve, 2020, in the City in the Sky

It dawns in this city nestled high in the middle range of the Colombian Andes, always beautiful in diverse ways, whether brightly lit in amber rays of light or covered in low lying clouds or drizzling amidst chilly breezes, but always a shade of spring.

Holidays and special days always seem melancholy and nostalgic for me. As always I miss my sons and friends back in my other homes, Ocala and Charleston and New York and Fort Lauderdale and Charlotte and Miami, but I’m grateful for my friends and family here in Manizales. Christmas Eve, once a day of delightful anticipation, no matter how poor we then were, now a day for memories and reflections. And gratitude for the life I’ve been privileged to live, regardless of how often I’ve wallowed in self-pity.

The world seems awful today but it almost always has, with evil (purportedly lesser) in charge, evil setting us against each other, dividing friends and families in fruitless fights over which party will abuse, deceive and steal from us least, driving us to expend energies better spent in savoring the delight of those around us, in helping each other cope, in creating a more equitable and happy world instead of expecting someone to hand it to us on a holiday platter.

It’s been decades since I was comforted by our holiday myths, times when I believed that the Prince of Peace would soften our hearts and open our eyes, and his rotund emissary would bring the gifts I’d been promised while sitting in his lap in a crowded and happy shopping center, bills be damned. But still, hope that goodness is tangible and real survives somehow, just out of reach, as if we were in a nightmare from which we could not yet escape but already knew it for a dream and were fairly sure we’d soon wake.

A few friends will gather here tonight, seven of us, sharing food and drink and memories and aspirations. This will be a quite Christmas in the midst of a pandemic that may or may not be as serious as described but which is serious enough to require us all to take care. I’ll be thinking of Billy and Alex and Edward. I’ll be wondering what magic Candice and Paula have cooked up. And I’ll be imagining the delight that Rosey and Melissa will be feeling as they look at wrapped presents under beautifully decorated trees with mature Salome looking on indulgently; my sons, their wives and my grandchildren.

I’ll be remembering old Christmases when I was the child and my mother and stepfather and brother and sister reveled in that special day in small apartments in Miami, or Queens, or with my grandmother and aunts here in Manizales. Old Christmases when I was the father with my sons and their mother in Fort Lauderdale and Hendersonville and Belleview and Ocala, when Santa’s deer sometimes left hoof prints on our roofs, and when, whether we had plenty (usually) or very little (once) we were as happy as it was possible to be because we were together.

I’ll be wondering what the memories I make today will taste like in some future far away.

I’ve shared so much love with so many people across the years, my family and friends, lovers with whom I’ve lost touch and lovers who’ve always remained nearby (at least spiritually), my classmates and former students at the old Eastern Military Academy and my class mates and ever growing chain of brothers at the Citadel. My colleagues and former students at the several universities in Manizales with whom I’ve been involved during the past thirteen years as well as the civic leaders, journalists and artists with whom I’ve developed strong bonds. I’ve had and am having a wonderful life, one that even Jimmy Stewart and Satchmo, somewhere on the other side of the veil with many others I’ve loved and treasured, might find enviable.

I miss my mother and grandmother and Aunt Carola, who left too early, at least for my tastes, and Pop and my Uncle Pacho who were the first to go. And those of my classmates and friends who have gone on to join them. I’ll be thinking of them today too, and reliving memories, the best of presents when one stops to think about it, gifts that really keep on giving. Christmas, 2020, a terrible year in too many ways until we stop and remember those closest to us, and then, it really is a special time of year.

Merry Christmas to all, or Saturnalia, or Yule, or Chanukah or Festivus or Solstice (winter or spring depending on where you find yourself). May peace finally find a home among us, and equity and justice and tolerance and respect, and may honor and honesty prosper someday soon, at long last.

And may the legends and myths with which we seek comfort bring us together rather than split us apart.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

On Entropy and Evil and Harbingers of Hope

Silly similes, awful metaphors and pseudo allegory abound, wrapping us in fetid mists, trapping our senses which gasp for metaphorical breath.  Trying to swim we find ourselves drowning in quicksand and the more we struggle the deeper we’re bound as if by the Chinese handcuffs of our vanishing youth. 

Emotional entropy seems to be getting the best of many of us.  Unfortunately, probably the most decent among us, but that’s been evil’s plan all along. 

To wear us down. 

Lying and distortion and manipulation are fun: no truth to be bound by and defend, no coherence or consistency required, just perpetual attacks no matter what.  Free to be feckless, unbound and free to parody and calumny and betray, all interest free.  And the result is that some of us are subverted and join the party, while others, despairing, just withdraw. 

And evil wins.

Again.

As it seemingly almost always does.

Still, Sigmund Freud, he of analytical sexual mania, once urged us to recall that when things seem hopeless “in darker days there lived a man who thought as we do”, a harbinger of hope, and these are indeed “darker times. One wonders where that man (or woman) was, … or will be?
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

A Secular Prayer out of Time

And he dreamt a strange dream, a powerful dream, a beautiful dream but at the same time, a very humble dream and interspersed within the dream where the sounds of pilgrims intoning the ohm, but not only the ohm but other ancestral sounds from before we became human, intoning the alpha and the omega and a multiverse without beginning or end, quanta becoming quantum and quanta again.

And he lay down his countenance and recalled that he was a part of the great whole, and being a part of the great whole, he was the great whole and the great whole was him, and that we were each part of the great whole and equally so from the most humble to the most mighty, but that too many among us had forgotten this great and primal verity, but it was so, is so and will be so, from before the beginning to until beyond eternity.

And she dreamt a strange dream, a powerful dream, a beautiful dream but at the same time, a very humble dream and interspersed within the dream where the sounds of pilgrims intoning the ohm, but not only the ohm but other ancestral sounds from before we became human, intoning the alpha and the omega and a multiverse without beginning or end, quanta becoming quantum and quanta again.

And she lay down her countenance and recalled that she was a part of the great whole, and being a part of the great whole, she was the great whole and the great whole was her, and that we were each part of the great whole and equally so from the most humble to the most mighty, but that too many among us had forgotten this great and primal verity, but it was so, is so and will be so, from before the beginning to until beyond eternity.

And they dreamt a strange dream, a powerful dream, a beautiful dream but at the same time, a very humble dream and interspersed within the dream where the sounds of pilgrims intoning the ohm, but not only the ohm but other ancestral sounds from before we became human, intoning the alpha and the omega and a multiverse without beginning or end, quanta becoming quantum and quanta again.

And they lay down their countenance and recalled that they were a part of the great whole, and being a part of the great whole, they were the great whole and the great whole was them, and that we were each part of the great whole and equally so from the most humble to the most mighty, but that too many among us had forgotten this great and primal verity, but it was so, is so and will be so, from before the beginning to until beyond eternity.

And then the he-she-they awoke and a great sorrow was in their hearts for the dream they had lost and the dream was drawing away from them faster and faster and becoming smaller and smaller and more and more dim until it was just a memory and then an echo, and then just an echo of a memory, and then just a shadow and then, it was gone, as though it had never been, but it had been, it was and it would always be, whether they remembered it or not.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Thoughts on a Strange Thanksgiving

November 26, 2020, one more shopping month until Christmas.  A strange Thanksgiving.  But then again, as an American holiday, it is always oxymoronically strange.

This year, at the macro level, orchestrated polarization is the rule, distrust and an utter lack of confidence in the existence or importance of veracity.  Half the population is thrilled that the “despicables” have been taught their lesson and put in their place and who cares what the cost was while the other half is more bitter than ever and their worst instincts are probably honed for a rematch.  Not a pretty sight nor one that generates feelings of gratitude.

At the micro level however, we have our families and loved ones, our hobbies and pet projects, and for many, albeit perhaps not for most, the delight one feels when tangibly helping others by sharing what we have. 

Perhaps the latter defines that for which we can be thankful on this very complex and perplexing holiday, one with distasteful historical roots based on colonists deluding naïve indigenous peoples from whom they would shortly steal everything, spreading murder and mayhem in the name of a beneficent deity who, in their strictly enforced opinion, sentenced all who would not follow puritanical dictates to perpetual torture.

Columbus Day has undergone a drastic transformation in many places, now a day of mourning for the European invasion of the Americas and destruction of indigenous cultures. I ask myself: what will indigenous Americans celebrate today? Or what will the descendants of those Europeans who did not share Puritan religious perceptions and paid for their heresies in flames celebrate? Perhaps someday Thanksgiving Day too will become a day of mourning, mourning our own Holocausts.

The Puritans seem to be making a comeback although on a sociopolitical rather than spiritual level, with condemnation of nonconformance in the name of tolerance in vogue, the nouveaux “enlightened” supporting, with their votes, those who, in the name of democracy and liberty, spread death and destruction all over the world.  An echo from our past that never seems to end.

So, Happy Thanksgiving everyone, history is not everything and sometimes, out of the depths of evil good things come.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

All Hallows Eve as Seen from Differing Perspectives

Ephemerally ethereal gossamer wisps whisper in the wind,
echoes of lost shades and shadows
whimpering morosely in dank, dark, saturnine hollows. 

The last and deepest nightfall of a year
few seek to measure,
at least while living. 

For the departed, it may be different.

It may be sunrise on the first day,
the first hour,
the first instant of a new year,

slender rays of faded sunlight seeping in,
scents of faded flowers returning to life,
the sweetness of remembrances shared with those left behind.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution. Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Thoughts on All Hallows’ Eve, 2020

Circa 1993, Belleview, Florida

All Hallows Eve, in its incarnation as Halloween, has always been my three sons favorite feast day and so, brought me great joy, especially with Alex, my middle son, who loves it the most.  But All Hallows Eve has a deeper significance that becomes more and more meaningful each year as more and more of the people we’ve known pass beyond the veil. 

Many cultures around the globe, in their mythologies and religions (same thing really), hold that the veil that separates the living from those who have passed on is thinnest on that night.  Tonight. 

So, whether or not that is so, tonight I will be thinking of my mother and grandmother and aunt Carola, of my uncle Francisco, of my stepfather Leon; of my mentors like Leo Hedbavny and Jay Kaufmann and my former professors now long gone.  I’ll be thinking of my Citadel classmates and of those from Eastern Military Academy, and of my former students who passed on too young.  It will be a melancholy and nostalgic evening in which sorrow will meld with joys shared, while I also miss my sons and their own children and wives now reveling so far away.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic consultant employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Damned Abraham

Damn!!! he thought, or maybe yelled, he couldn’t be sure.

He was, as always, or at least for a very long time, feeling lonely, very lonely.

Since a nanosecond was as an eternity to him and eons as nanoseconds, feelings could be very confusing.

He relived the good old days in his mind which was the size and shape of the multiverse, at least he thought so, … his mother had told him it was so.

He’d just been one among many back then, each in his or her own domain with his or her own flock. A happy thunder god with a couple of wives and from time to time, intimacy with other divinities, usually female, and with humans as well.

Inanna and Ur, the good old days.

Before that damned Abraham had convinced him that he was alone in his divinity. And then asked him for the world. As if letting him screw his sister hadn’t been enough of a boon. Fuck Abraham and the horse he rode in on, although come to think of it, horses didn’t have humps on their backs.

Back then one could be a god of specific things, like creation, or destruction, or thieves.

Now he was utterly alone except for the echoes, and the damned prayers of all those babbling humans; they gave him migraines. And they wondered why he avoided them like the plague. They were a plague, look at what they were doing to the planet he’d made for them, well, not for the goyem, except perhaps for a few shiksahs. Funny that he didn’t really remember having made it, but all those books said he had, and if it was printed, it had to be true, revealed word of, … well, … him.

It was so damned boring!!!!

Damned Abraham!!!

And when he said damned, he really meant it.


© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He is currently a strategic consultant employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Still Life Watercolors on a Now Late Afternoon

“It’s in the nature of immortality” he explained, “or more accurately, potential immortality”.

“One can still be killed by intervening incidents such as runaway trucks, bullets projected from firearms owned by jealous spouses, etc., but one doesn’t die from old age, or from most diseases, nor does one age beyond a point of full maturity, somewhat older than one might like but better than an awful lot of alternatives. But given the flows involved, it’s rather more like livestream than photographs. One tends to be unsatisfied with periodic meals, and periodic drinks, and periodic intimacy. One is sated only when they’re continuous, although sequentially. Not that being sated is essential, or even the norm, it’s just that satisfaction requires a bit more continuity, given the continuous nature of our existence.”

“Repetition is what really sucks”, he mumbled, a phrase seemingly coming from nowhere, although it’s one he interjected more and more as time streamed on.

Her look was odd, the expression hard to define; kind of like jaded incredulity faded by too many inexplicable realities. Nothing about him seemed to make sense, least of all his explanations (all too often couched in the plural or the indefinite person), but then again, they tended to be impossible to disprove. Only death would do that and it seemed he’d been around for a ludicrously long time. And he didn´t seem to age although he’d been verging on old for as long as she’d know him.

She seemed to be catching up to him and she’d been relatively young when they’d first met.

He was certainly far from infallible though, certainly as far as she was concerned. And omniscient? Forget about it. And certainly as far from omnipotent as everyone else.

“So” …, he sort of pleaded, “… can I have dessert now?”


© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He is currently a strategic consultant employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.