October 12, 2018

Fugue—Listen to the Music

October 10 was World Mental Health Day. The goal was to call attention to the growing problem of mental illness throughout the world, and offer solutions to help people in distress. The stigma of mental health issues, lack of education and awareness, and funding cutbacks for programs all contribute to the mental health treatment gap.

• One in four adults and one in ten children worldwide will be affected by a mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lives.

• In the United States one in five adults and youth experience some form of mental illness each year. More than half do not receive mental health treatment.        
                                        —Statistics: World Health Organization, National Alliance on Mental Illness

“At the root of this dilemma is the way we view mental health in this country. Whether it affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness and there should be no distinction.”      —Michelle Obama

Fugue, from the Latin fuga for flight, is a word with multiple meanings. In psychological terms it refers to a dissociative mental state characterized by loss of memory. On the street it refers to an altered state of reality caused by ingesting drugs or too much alcohol—and in musical terms it is a composition where a theme is introduced and then repeated as if it were flying around the scale. 

Fugue by Jeff Key
Crimson numbers flash.
Boards blink. Metal rows run and trip. Melancholy whispering ebbs and flows with the solstice sky.

Laughter can be heard in a meadow below a crested bluff—an incongruous rumble, rising and falling on the cusp of an undaunted evening.

It is a night like none other.

It is a night like any other

full of transgression, collapsing inward in order to stem the wilting malaise of branches with no timbre.

Leaves—syncopated with the early rustling of the stars cut into fragments marking the cross between bolted doors and t
he waning moon.

Tents blow down by the river trapping tales of hoodwinked drifters shifting beneath blankets of mottled deceit. To live for 
another day under the torrent  of hollow contrivance becomes the strength of a white-washed vision.

A newborn wakes in the thalo light, bottled with a nascent longing  
for the arc of a swinging limb as it pivots with the torque required to capture the luminous twist of side-stepping dance.

It is a day like none other.

It is a day like any other

• The 2019 US Fiscal Year Budget calls for a 21% decrease for the Dept. of Health and Human Services—a $600 million cut to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment programs, eliminating $451 million in training programs for the health professions, and a $1.4 trillion cut to Medicaid (over 10 years).

What can we do to help alleviate these problems—
• Write to our current legislators and urge them to vote for more funding for mental health programs.  Vote in November to elect local, state, and federal officials who will work to amend or overturn the proposed budget cuts.

September 21, 2018


Do You Hear the Chirp? —What is a Selfie?

We came across the word 'twitter', and it was just perfect. The definition was 'a short burst of inconsequential information,' and 'chirps from birds'.   Jack Dorsey, Twitter Creator, Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2009

"Social media giants are silencing millions of people. Can’t do this. People have to figure out what is real, and what is not, without censorship!" @realDonaldTrump, August 24, 2018

In the category of “Word Origins” a recent final Jeopardy answer was—“The first recorded use of this word in print was when Nathan Hope posted an image of his busted lip online in 2002.”
The question of course—“What is a selfie?”

Whether tweeting or taking selfies—our contemporary shorthand forms of communication—one must consider the consequences of these words and images.  

Cyberwarfare and Disinformation Campaigns are now common practice. Social media firms, including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google, have finally begun to shut down “fake news” and disinformation sites like Alex Jones’ Infowars and propaganda from foreign sites trying to influence the 2018 mid-term elections.

The assault on our free press and first amendment rights are being debated on both the left and the right. We now find ourselves at odds with coworkers who don’t share our political beliefs. Do we alienate them and try to suppress their opinions, or do we try to engage them in a civil debate with the goal of understanding how and why they derived their beliefs?
Vessel #61—Heed
Wood, 71" x 24" x 16"

Truth is a word that has many definitions—the most common “to be in accordance with fact or reality.” With so much
information flooding the news and social media sites it’s difficult for people to discern what is real and what is fabricated.

As one of our present-day philosophers (and Donald Trump’s lawyer) Rudy Giuliani, stated on NBC’s Meet the Press, “Truth isn’t truth.” A conundrum for our troubled times.

A canary in a coal mine.
Trout swimming upstream.
Red sky in the morning.
A night with no stars.

Consider asteroids.
Connect the dots.
Test the water.
Look around the corner.

Listen to art—
it informs the culture.
Listen to rhetoric—
tyrants hijack language.

Reread history—
heed lessons of failure.
They are harbingers
defining tomorrow.

August 14, 2018


Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
                                                                                                                      —Groucho Marx

Winning is such a great feeling, isn’t it?  Nothing like winning. You got to win.
—Donald Trump, graduation speech at US Naval Academy, May 2018

August heralds in the dog days of summer—not much going on—the hands of the clock pausing at lethargy, bad luck, and mad dogs —before finally sticking on hot.  It’s vacation time—not a therapist or a plumber to be found.

So it might be time to take a breath between innings of the interminable baseball season to consider the nature of sport and the human need for competition. What drives our will to win—and sometimes at all costs? Whether it’s sports, business or politics—we as humans like to be “number one.”

What will we do to gain a “competitive edge?” Sports have been plagued with performance enhancing drugs and rule bending, business has subcategories for fraud, embezzlement, and bribery, and politics is the ultimate game of corruption and defining “alternate facts” in order to enhance one’s position in the pecking order.

As we prepare our nests for the autumn winds and the coming winter chill we should also consider the “art” of cooperation.  Too often these days we hear about the U.S. failing to cooperate with the international community on policy ranging from trade to arms, immigration, and climate change. We need to put aside the belief that winning is what it’s all about and work toward achieving a consensus for the benefit of all people regardless of where they sit on the fence.

As former President Bill Clinton said, “When times are tough, constant conflict may be good politics but in the real world, cooperation works better. After all, nobody's right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day. 

A flat lined breast, heavily veined,
it’s nipple loose and withered
keeps pumping in measured increments.

Instinct, the corollary of survival,
feeds on legs battered in a marathon whose route is defined by perseverance and circumstance.

The race is a sham, the winners have been
predetermined, but the charade persists,
as if a nightingale’s song was performed
for the opportunity to roost on a branch
laden with newly formed fruit.

Below the surface sound erupts,
laced with a strident staccato—
the call of a damp fever caught between
crumbling walls and crashing waves.

Limbs, feathers and fronds emerge, caked with 
ambition, waking with low labored breathing.

Eager incisors and frenzied mandibles,
churn in a determined minuet,
locked in steps that repeat the motion prescribed by the turn of the tide buckled in tandem with the glow of an autumn moon.

Advantage diggers, chewers and weavers,
burrowing, paddling, spinning, roots, rocks, 
rivulets, tilted, tumbled, twisted.

Frightened slits watch the dawn,
summoning the strength to make the run.
Dancing flames on the first turn,
torrents surging on the pole,
an obstinate tempest on the back stretch.

Rules disregarded, upstarts in contempt,
integrity waning in the grasp, the finish in sight.
Wind raking the last turn, sinew and tenacity defining the path,cut with the wonder and anticipation of an elusive refuge that lies 
beyond the next turn.