"With Walt in Mind" - © Brad Michael Moore 2007
"A Door Left Slightly Opened”
By Brad Michael Moore
It’s a biting cold Sunday, but the sun is brightly shining. Its late afternoon, and I am working in my worn solitude. I see the side porch door is slightly open — just as I had left it. (It allows the outdoors to visit... unless I get annoyed). My cats follow the music of nature’s call, and go outside to explore. A mouse will likely be captured, taken (alive) and brought back home inside, to be released beneath my bed — for later consideration...
I spend peaceful moments in my chair - observing the surrounding environment with my eyes closed, and ears open. I consider my expectations of a tea bag slowly steeping - I await its aroma to suddenly fill the now restless room’s air.
I am writing, again. It’s been too long a time I haven’t been writing. Landscapes forever are changing. My heart has fallen into its ways of musing upon the observance of existence, and its passing...
Just as dusk’s final purple-blue light filters through the southwest windows, I carefully reminisce over love’s fleeting way, and think of lost hearts passed on.
Times like this are good for reflection. It is here where I examine my library of memories. This evening I measure the memories of my childhood... Being the youngest of three brothers had me always trying to catch up, and always falling behind... Still knowing – my elder brothers would always come back for me, when I’d near give up.
Relationships don’t change so greatly with the years as much they become distanced by them. It’s so much more difficult to gather needed support - when friends now are in other states, or even countries away...
Still, I leave my door open a crack. I allow memories of opportunities missed, to play out in my mind, and then they fall before my imaginary, “Fourth Wall,” into the structure of a play, or song poem.
My phone suddenly rings, and rings out again – left unanswered. It brings interruptions to this prose, usually, only for bad news, that so often comes through a sudden ring that startles me in my natured place...
Finally, a wind comes to visit – brushing up against my northeast walls. It brings me its dancing leaves slipping through my doorway. I exhale as I bend over and pick them up. I place the whole leaves in an old basket to study later – both, by lamplight, and magnifying glass... I call the cats in for the night.
The time now comes to close that half-windowed porch door. First, I stand, and listen to the outside orchrastrated sounds for a short spell, and then, I turn the door latch one-quarter counter-clock-wise, and seize myself once again – as I close my eyes to listen to the more acutely distinctive indoor sounds. Soon, sleep and dreams will come for me - while my cats ponder their own expectations.
By Brad Michael Moore
"Joshua" © BMM 2011
"Big Red's Vigil"
By BRAD MICHAEL MOORE
Clara Hughes was in her mid-eighties when I moved to Jack County in 1993. I lived on the land next to hers. I often saw Clara working in her yard or walking the near half-mile to the rural post box on the Farm to Market Road that meets the both of us.
Clara's husband, Cecil, has passed away some five years earlier and Clara insisted on remaining at the farm as long as she could. "I don't want to be a burden on anyone," Clara would sometimes say to me.
Big Red was Clara's cat. He didn't really have a name but since he was big, with a lot of red fur, I called him Big Red. Big Red liked to hang out with Clara whenever she did her yard work. He would always beg Clara to let him into her house when she went in. Clara often relented at one point or another. She wouldn't let him sleep on the bed because of the long hair he shed so much of.
"Dogs always get under my feet - my cat knows better," Clara once said to me. Big Red knew Clara watched out for him, and he wasn't overly friendly with other folk - he tolerated us mostly.
Clara loved to talk about the old days. She told me how she and Cecil never really got to date, even once, and then eloped in a horse-driven wagon to get married. Clara grew up and lived her entire life within 18 miles of her birthplace near Sparks Springs, Texas. She helped Cecil build their final home. "Our first house had a dirt floor. The spaces in the walls pretty much let know you everything that was going on outside too big to get inside," Clara said.
Recalling her early days, Clara told me about a panther that use to hunt the Keechi Creek behind my house. One day she was riding her mare with its colt tagging alongside. "That big old Mountain Lion came out of a tree or somewhere and just took that colt - oh that gave me such a real scare!" said Clara. A cat still roams the ancient Keechi Creek, on the east side of our farms to this day.
In the February of 1997 Clara began having fainting spells and subsequently had to be hospitalized in Wichita Falls. She never regained her health well enough to go home again... One of her granddaughters lived in Wichita Falls and visited her daily. Her two surviving sons visited weekly from Jack County and extended family went by to visit as often as possible.
Back on the farm, Big Red waited on the back porch for Clara to come home. I began feeding him four days a week while Clara's children took the other days. Big Red knew where I lived and came by on the rare occasion I wasn't prompt in his feeding schedule.
Animals share unique relationships with their owners. I remember, as a child, a German Shepard named Gretchen. She was my favorite of my grandfather's farm dogs. Granddad gave Gretchen away to some folks who were moving to North Carolina. We heard she ran away as soon as they got to their destination. Three months later Gretchen showed back up at the farm – then grandfather gave her away again…
Big Red just didn't want to leave Clara's back porch - even after a year had passed. So, I took notice when Big Red suddenly showed up around the farmhouse one Sunday early evening, and he didn't seem to want to leave. On Monday, and Tuesday, I tried getting in touch with Clara's son, but he and his wife were not at home. I began to worry.
I left my pet door open Tuesday evening in case Big Red decided to come in and hang with my cats.
Early Wednesday morning, I was awakened by the telephone - it was Clara's son Earl Gene. Clara had passed away at 9:15pm the previous evening. After speaking with Gene for a few minutes I agreed to meet him and his brother, Calvin, over at Clara's house.
I hung up the phone. Then my foot bumped into something... Big Red was sleeping at the end of my bed - his 14 month vigil had ended…
See “The Distant Thunder” elsewhere on this site for more perspective on my grandfather…
"Yellow Heron" © 1983 Brad Michael Moore
As Time Is My Companion – by Brad Michael Moore
Realizing you’re lost and alone paints a perspective no one envies or wishes themselves party to. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1983 - I was both lost, and alone, in the depths of the Amazon Jungle. Only time was my true companion.
I had just returned from a photographic expedition in the Galapagos Islands to Quito, Ecuador’s capital. I was prepared to fly on to Easter Island via Santiago, Chile. My plans were dashed by the declaration of martial law in Chile. With no alternative way to reach such a secluded place as Easter Island is - I opted to head into Ecuador’s part of the Amazon Jungle...
* * * *
My cook, guide and I had beached our canoe on the southeastern shore of Lake Taracoa. This was an out of the way place you could hike to from the Rio Napo where our river boat was anchored.1 A mile or so from the lake’s northwestern shore were some grass huts we were camping at. This particular afternoon the plan had been to go to the center of the lake to swim. You couldn’t swim near the shore because of Cayman alligators and a fresh water species of electric eel. I was assured by my guide that the center was safe. While there were also piranhas, which occasionally bumped into my legs, there’s little danger of attack in a lake unless you’re bleeding.
After an exhilarating dip, we cruised along the shoreline until we found a trail my guide was familiar with. He and the cook were looking for food to take back to camp for evening’s supper. Initially, I was reluctant to make this unplanned excursion. I had left my camera and tape recorder at the hut - as I was expecting only to go for a swim. Finally, I relented and we set off into the jungle.
The trail seemed well established - enough so that after trekking a good while, I told my companions I was returning to the canoe and would meet them there. I told them I felt certain I could follow the trail back... I didn’t find my way back.
It seemed every hundred yards or so there would be a fork in the trail - a path invisible when coming from the direction of the lake. It wasn’t long before I knew I was lost. I yelled for my companions but my calls were only answered by woolly monkeys. They raised such a ruckus at my hail I couldn’t hear if I had been answered. Because of the high-canopy forest and a cloudy afternoon without a compass - I had no means to estimate my direction.
Going nowhere fast, I came across and followed a forest floor highway surging with a brigade of leaf-cutter ants. It was comforting to me that at least they knew where they were heading. I figured eventually they’d led me to their home mound or the host tree they were harvesting from.
Before I found either I caught the scent of water. I then realized how acutely tuned my senses had become as a result of my foreboding circumstances. I began jogging into a light breeze through the foliage feeling my nose to be the bow of a ship splitting water and harbor bound. Instead of finding Lake Taracoa I came to a river and it wasn’t el Rio Napo.
Knowing a return into the forest would put me into more ponderous circumstances, I elected to stay where I was. I surveyed the river bank and noticed a fallen Kapok Tree a short distance away, downstream. This tree was protruding a good ways into the water. I chose this jungle-mark as my stage and sanctuary to inhabit - until relief for my situation was remedied.
Slowly, I edged myself out on the fallen tree. I sat about a leg’s length from where the trunk submerged under the water’s surface approximately 3 meters from the shoreline. There, I had maximum visibility over the domain both to see and to be seen.
I was keeping faith I had found a tributary of the Rio Napo. Indians live along all waterways in the region - with any luck, some who were friendly would find me. I mused over the thought of our previous night around the campfire near our grass huts. There had been discussion, after that evening's fish dinner, of five missionaries - murdered by cannibalistic Auccas residing deep, deep within this forest. I was now hoping the Auccas were very, very deep in this forest.
Upon settling down and becoming virtually a knot on the log, I soon began witnessing one of the most memorable milestones of my life. I felt integrated and accepted in my little place upon this fallen tree. Elements of the surrounding jungle and river environment suddenly started to amplify. Within moments, I began observing a spectrum of activity on every side of me. It was the essence of life and the instinct to survive performing in this natural arena.
Just below the water’s surface a good-sized alligator captured a large fish several feet from where I sat. I felt the Cayman was well aware of my presence and let me be. I did move back up the log a little bit though.
The life of the river was so phenomenal to watch - multitudes of creatures exercising the cycles of their existence. Among the many fish were a few snakes that kept my attention to the slow moving water.
In the air and trees were assorted species of birds singing a euphoric variety of melodies. Groups of parrots and other Song Birds seemed to be alternating with one another in a chorus of Messiah proportions. This reminded me of the fact I was without my tape recorder. I berated myself solemnly for this natural soundtrack was so overwhelming, and simply indescribable. Finally, I just praised the fact that, in my life, I had been in such a place - at such a time.
After the passing of several hours, I felt the presence of evening approaching. I realized I needed to find a tree to sleep in for I wasn’t sure how trustworthy the forest floor might be. I bowed my head and prayed. I asked for strength, for luck, and an uneventful night without rain - if possible. When I opened my eyes I was unbelieving of what was coming before me...
An Indian man and his young son were floating up to my log in a dugout canoe. They seemed very surprised and excited to find me. We did a lot of hand gesturing while verbalizing in our different languages. Finally, I felt they wished for me to go along with them. Considering my alternative, I was pleased to accept their invitation.
We floated for some time while the man and his son sang a sort of melodic chant. I felt strangely comfortable with my trusting this path my life was moving along. Comparing my adventure with my life at home, in Texas, I realized there are always alternatives to the humdrum we sometimes find ourselves in.
Startling me out of my thoughts, the young boy broke the chant of song and pointed along the shoreline. Smiling, his father steered us to what appeared to be a trail leading into the forest. After beaching the canoe, we stepped upon the shore as the man aimed his gaze up the trail beckoning that I should be going.
I had hoped to see his village but he seemed to know where I needed to be and this trail was going to take me there. I felt trusting of this man... He and his son had a gulf of tranquility in their eyes - trustful simplicity, and sincerity. I believed they had my best interests at heart.
As a memento of my appreciation, I removed my wristwatch and gave it to the man. He hooted and hollered and danced in place as I showed him how to strap it on his wrist. The watch has a five-year battery and was waterproof. The Indian and his son again pointed up the trail, they jumped back into their boat using their poles to push off and move along. I waved as they floated away - the man nodding and the boy - awkwardly waving in return. As they disappeared, they returned to their melodic chant.
Quickly on the trail, my confidence grew with each step. Just as darkness was enveloping I saw a campfire - it was my camp’s fire. There, my cook and guide were preparing a search party, with some local natives, to go searching for me. Everyone was greatly relieved at my arrival, and that night we partied hard around the campsite.
Several days later, as we were leaving the area, my guide told me word had come from a nearby village of a man and his grandson who were the ones who had found me. Because of the man’s act of goodwill, and the fact he had been gifted with a timepiece - the only timepiece in his village, his stature in the settlement had been elevated. My guide said this meant better fortune for the man’s family in their community. His fortune was truly my fortune and as time had been my companion - now it would be his...
1 This area was popular for the fledgling Eco-Tour industry in the early 1980's. The region was later compromised by Ecuador's ravaging oil & gas exploration industry.
Flight III - © 1968 Ben James
"FINDING THE COST OF FREEDOM" by Brad Michael Moore
By Brad Michael Moore
Freedom never comes without a cost. When you have it - oh how freedom sings. But, as it says in a CS&N song, you’ll find the cost of freedom buried in the ground. In 1982, I traveled a perilous journey through Czechoslovakia while it was still shrouded by the Iron Curtain.
I was trying to reach its border with Poland. Poland was besieged with martial law and tyranny. I had no chance in hell getting myself within its borders. The fact was, I was having a difficult time maneuvering through Czechoslovakia.
My West German friends, from Hamburg, tried persuading me not travel to Czechoslovakia. They gave me articles from their papers to read and asked why go - "where things are so poor?" The best I could say to explain my purpose was simply - it is there, and I can reach it and I have the freedom to see it for myself.
Traveling was dangerous. In my 48 hours in the country I was followed constantly and detained eight times. Each time was the same routine. A military road block would be set up along a roadway ahead of me. Traffic was allowed to pass while officers with spy glasses peered up the highway till I came into view.
I was an easy target. I drove a red and white Volkswagen Camper Bus (only in Prague did I ever see another recreational vehicle). Upon reaching the traffic stop, I was directed to pull over. Young men, armed with rifles, whose stocks were bent steel rod instead of wood, ordered me out of my vehicle.
I was spoken to in Czech - vodka, would be the only word I’d understand. I was pushed around a bit and made to empty all of my possessions from the vehicle onto the roadside for the officers to inspect.
It was difficult for these young soldiers to figure me out... Before them was a Westerner with a valid state issued visa I obtained six months earlier. In my van I carried three cameras, field glasses and a tape recorder - all in plain view on the front seat next to me.
Nothing was ever taken. I managed to hide my exposed film in the mattress cushions which they never found. When the soldiers were finished, they’d drive away suddenly, leaving me on the roadside with all my belongings to put back into the bus.
I made my trek to the Czech and Poland border as quickly as I could. A strip of no man’s land with reams of barbed wire on either side along with barricades. The Czech and East German border was not so intimidating as this was. The environment was dreary and a fog, or rather a smoggy haze filled the air.
When I found a suitable site of visibility, I stopped and got out of my vehicle (without my camera - pictures were not allowed in many areas of the country). There I stood, ignoring crossing guards down the road watching me through their field glasses.
I stood, for the longest time, gazing into the near countryside of Poland. Her history, of what I knew of it, and the visions of her people - of what I could imagine of them, filled my head and heart. I could have been looking into Hungary, Romania or anywhere else where humans were repressed. I was in a country whose people were stifled, looking into another country where conditions were even worse.
I couldn’t walk upon Poland, but my eyes could steal its landscape into my memory - a treasure chest of emotion that could never be confiscated.
There were only two campgrounds in the whole country where I was allowed to sleep in my vehicle. Sleeping in your vehicle anywhere else was against the laws of the land. I made it to one these “sanctuaries” that night.
Once in the campground, I stayed to myself and inventoried my possessions - and my wits. After darkness fell, I notice a group of younger people, in their late teens, sitting around a campfire singing songs. As I listened to the campers through my opened windows, I wrote poetry of my experiences.
I was about ready to turn in for the night when the music began to capture my attention. It was very familiar - yet not so. I listened more acutely and opened my sliding side door on the bus. Suddenly, I knew what they were singing.
In my excitement, I decided to approach them. The song they were singing was “Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home," (Originally called Dixie’s Land) presented in Czech! As I came to the circle, I too, was singing... "When I was just a little bitty baby my mama use to rock me in the cradle - in them old cotton fields back home..."
Everyone was incredibly startled to find an American in their midst singing the American version of the folk song they were singing. Ironically, it was, in truth, a slave song being sung by children of an enslaved people.
Two young folk in the group spoke broken English and interceded for others in the group who had many questions about America. Music, clothes, sports, food, cars, money and the Grand Canyon were topics they were curious about.
After 15 to 20 minutes we all became aware of Secret Police agents standing behind trees, smoking cigarettes (which gave them away) listening to us. I decided to leave - not wishing to create trouble for my newfound friends. They understood the gravity of our situation all too well. It was visible in their eyes, voices and expressions.
I returned to my bus and replayed the event in my mind, while occasionally looking out my window for signs of danger. I tried to sleep that night, but I felt anger over my experience. Finally I got up and left.
Back on the road, I searched my maps for the closest Western European country - it was Austria. I arrived at the border checkpoint about 2:00 a.m. I was retained for an hour while my visa and passport were scrutinized by guards and some character apparently highest in rank at the station. This officer spoke on the phone twenty feet away from me behind a pane of glass slowly going through each page of my American passport and discussing it.
Finally, he came to me, handed me my passport as he torn my visa from its pages (thus not allowing me back into the country). He told me to “GO!GO!” I left without argument over my confiscated visa and drove to the first large city I found. It was near the break of day. I pulled over and went to sleep. At mid-morning I awoke to find myself in Vienna!
I so truly appreciate my freedom - and those Americans who have paid the price of preserving it. Still, after watching the PBS special, "The West," upon my return home, I am reminded of the other costs of my freedom - the broken spirits of the many native peoples of this land who were displaced. I cherish my freedom as an American with a heavy heart and sometimes, with an old slave song of another displaced people spinning in my head.
"Big Sky - Distant Thunder" © 1972 Brad Michael Moore
Distant Thunder - 1958
By Brad Michael Moore
Sitting on my porch, one late afternoon last week, I heard a distant thunder from a nearby summer storm. As the mammoth rumbling rolled across the landscape it sparked a memory from my childhood.
My paternal grandfather had a farm in southern Dallas County when I was growing up. My brothers and I lived for the days we could visit the farm. It was rather large, 650 or so acres, and it had an assortment of animals. There were horses, goats, sheep, cattle, chickens, peacocks, hogs, and all kinds of wild creatures. My brothers and I liked to catch
snakes and horned toads, and pick up as many peacock feathers as we could find. There were, at times, 20 or more male peacocks which produced a lotta feathers. There were lots of hogs too - often more than 2000 after a good round of piglets were born.
With so many pigs around, they had to be separated in different areas of the farm. There was the birthing barn where sows nursed piglets till they were old enough to weaned. There was also a barn specially designed for the hogs to mate in, and there were different pastures for different aged pigs to hang out (when they got really big is when I'd call 'em hogs). While we kids pretty much had the run of the place, grandpa didn't allow us in one pasture. This was the pasture where grandpa kept the old males (bull hogs) who were too ornery to be anywhere else.
On the backside of the farm were some sand pits that had been quarried as deep as the water table down around 30 feet. At night the pits would fill with water near 20 feet deep, and then the level would drop back down a good ways in every morning. There were lots of snakes, frogs, and fish in the pits - a natural place for young boys to want to explore.
One summer day in 1958, a week after my sixth birthday, I was at the farm without my brothers. I had already been down to the river (Clear Fork of the Trinity) in what we called "The Bottom," and decided to visit the sand
pits next. As I approached the high ground I figured I could save some time if I cut through the bull hog pasture. This pasture was about 25 acres and had some dead tree stumps in it - along with goat weed and lots of bull
nettle. In the middle was a great big feed trough made of metal with a roof. It held dry pig feed.
I figured Grandpa couldn't see me from the farmhouse so I jumped the fence and hooked it for the pits. Along the way I straddled a mess of nettle and had to stop to pull the stuff from my shoes and retie my laces. Bent over with my head between my knees, I gazed behind me to see a very large hog about 30 yards away.- the sight immediately brought a deep concern upon me…
The 300 pound animal appeared to be foaming at the mouth. As if this discovery wasn't disturbing enough, the bull hog was also wildly swinging his head from side to side and making a frightening grunting noise. I stood up and turned around to face the hog who almost as quickly began charging towards me. I made off in the opposite direction and quickly looked for cover. My legs were already tired from my earlier hike. I knew the delirious animal would catch me before I could make the fence line. So, I headed for the only other place I had a chance to reach - the feed trough.
There are other troughs on the farm, and my brothers and I had tried to climb them before but, I was too short to get on top. I knew my only chance was to try running in circles around the feeder. I hoped the hog would lose interest. This beast wasn't about to lose interest though - he wanted to do something bad to me. As I realized the seriousness of my predicament, I began screaming as I scurried in circles around the trough. The hog kept getting closer, grunting and furiously snapping his teeth as he gained on me.
Being busy as I was, trying to preserve my rear end, I didn't noticed activity towards the farmhouse. Old Grandpa had stepped out on the back porch, with his coffee, and heard my screams. He dropped his cup and ran
to his pickup. He didn't bother to open the pasture gate - he drove plum through it! I would learn later in life what adrenaline is and how it did two things that day. It kept me one step ahead of the hog for one.
Grandpa, seeing the situation, and not having his gun, jumped from the truck cussing that hog with words I'd never heard before... The hog didn't seem to notice grandpa though - because I was his primary interest! Then grandpa ran over to a dead tree trunk standing a good 4 feet out of the ground and somehow pulled the whole thing from the earth. Ready for battle, he came between me and the hog shouting, "Get in the truck!" I did.
Then he began fighting the crazed creature with the tree stump... Twice he put the hog down, and it just shook it off ans came back at him.
A third time the hog raised in a maddening convulsion when grandpa was able to lay the stump squarely over the animal's skull, crushing it and the stump. The dust began to settle as my grandfather stood over the dead animal. He cursed under his breath at the same time he was trying to catch it. I thought the beast had rabies. Grandpa said it was screw worms - entered through the animal's ears and then worked themselves into it's brain.
The encounter was like a close lightening strike .. It was a fateful experience branded forever upon my childhood memories. Later, that summer afternoon, while Grandpa and I mended the gate, I expected to get chewed out. Instead, after a few perplexing stares, he only told me not to worry my mom with what happened and to go in the house and he'd fix me some lunch.
The distant thunder dissipated.
"FREEDOM'S FARE" © 1972 BMM
NOVEMBER 22, 1963 DALLAS
We all have moments frozen into our lives, moments merged into indelible memories. Memories that are so ingrained in the fabric of our being - when we recall the moment, it replays in our minds as if it were yesterday. Sounds, feelings, circumstances, the song on the radio or the program on TV all fall immediately into focus.
On Nov. 22, 1963, I lived in Dallas, Texas USA. My elementary school was located on President John F. Kennedy’s original motorcade route for his visit to my hometown that day.
Kennedy’s presidential race against Nixon, in 1960, was the first election I was old enough to follow and remember. I was very excited he would be coming by our school, and that we would get out of class for the opportunity to wave at the motorcade as the president passed by.
I was extremely disappointed to find out, at the last moment, that the motorcade’s course had been changed to an alternate route from Love Field, to downtown Dallas. We would not be let out of class after all and we wouldn’t be seeing the President either.
Even though radios were strictly forbidden in school, I had decided to secretly smuggle mine in that day. I left it in my locker and only listened to it during passing periods. One friend who lockered close to me, knew about it.
We had been listening to events as broadcasted on KLIF AM, the radio station where I would one day, in the next year or so, hear a Beatles record played for the first time. But, I never could have imagined what I was about to discover during passing period after lunch on that day.
My friend and I had our heads stuffed in my locker. The radio announcer’s voice became very excited as he said there was trouble with the president’s motorcade and reports of shots fired... My friend and I just looked at each other and I said something like “geewiz.” The radio reporter continued in a frantic tone speaking of more reports, one of the president’s car speeding off with a secret service agent sprawled across it’s back and that they were possibly heading to Parkland Hospital.
“No, no, this can’t be happening,” I said to myself. Suddenly, my friend skipped out on me, having noticed an approaching teacher in the hallway. Before I could wince, she collared me with my radio saying, “Young man, you’re going to the principal’s office!”
As we headed down the hallway I keep telling her, “Something’s happened to the president, Kennedy may be shot!” Finally, with my constant pleading she stopped by the stairwell and told me to turn the radio on but that I was in still trouble and we were still going to the Principal’s office.
The radio began transmitting an ominous disclosure, Something had happened on the motorcade route... reports were coming from Parkland Hospital indicating both the President and Governor John Connally had been shot... The radio message conveyed more than either of us wanted to hear.
When we reached the principal’s office we went in immediately. The grownups began talking in low tones to each other and several more school staff came in and went out. As I quietly sat in a wooded chair I noticed everyone’s eyes who passed me were moist and solemn.
Finally the principal opened his door and asked me if he could keep my radio - of course I said yes. I was then sent back to homeroom with instructions not to talk about this event and that there would soon be an announcement on the school’s public address system.
When I got to class I was becoming very worried. What would our country do if President Kennedy died? Would the Russians attack us? Who would do this terrible thing to such a great man anyway and why?
It wasn’t long before the announcement was made to the school that President Kennedy had died and that Governor Connally was seriously injured, but that the First Lady was OK. It had been decided to let school out at 2:00 that day.
I lived less than two blocks from school and raced home to meet my mom, who was with some of her friends watching TV as events unfolded.
When it truly became obvious this was not a nightmare and that such an incident had indeed come to pass in my own hometown I went to my room and cried.
I didn’t eat too much dinner that evening. The TV stayed on as developments about a slain police officer in Oak Cliff were reported along with the capture of a suspect named Lee Harvey Oswald. I thought he looked untrustworthy in the picture shown on television. He seemed like the type of person I had always been scared of - unpredictable and cruel.
I excused myself from the table and went outside. The night was cool and damp. There was a low cloud ceiling whose bottom reflected city lights emanating from the homes, streets and buildings. Hardly any cars were out. Everyone had gone home.
I laid myself down near a live oak tree in our front yard. For the longest time I prayed to God. Why did people do things like this? “Am I safe?” I asked. What about my mother and brothers? What will John-John and Caroline do?
Finally, I began feeling fatalistic. I began patiently awaiting the arrival of Gabriel to blow his horn for the world must certainly be coming to an end...
After a while it became apparent this would not happen...
I lost my a good piece of innocence that day in the eleventh year and fourth month of my life. My father had already left our home and I wasn’t sure how much I could trust adults anymore. It was a hard world out there, I thought, and if you aren’t careful - someone might get you when you’re not looking.
In the years since, I’ve learned there are good people in this world doing the best they can. JFK said, “In your hand, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course... Together, let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.”
I have learned that I too can do my part to make things a little more worthwhile in this world. I have tried to use my creative talents to better things I can affect in my environment in at least some small way.
These words, spoken by John Fitzgerald Kennedy at Amherst College, a few weeks before his passing, hold his gift for my life. “When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses, for art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.”
be aware, be creative, and become a benefit from your existence. - bmm
From the Crib, 1953 By Brad Michael Moore
An artist’s work, most sincere, is created upon all the knowledge accumulated in a life’s worth of time, and reflects the benefits of relating to a unique collection of memories. An artist’s memories are so tied to the core of their work – for whatever other reasons they have to create – the essence of their memories will certainly fingerprint their work.
Who can say, exactly, how or why our earliest childhood memories may be carried along with us. So many inevitably fall to the wayside of time, or the lack of exercising contemplation. Others remain as consequences of vivid, traumatic events that brew up the chemistry of our recollections consciously, and sometimes subconsciously. Primary ingredients of reminiscences must be emotions - especially those wrapped around the warmth of a parent’s loving embrace, or debilitating neglect... Such brandishing likely marks deeply upon our cultivating persona, declared invariably thru the summoning of hidden and recallable memories.
I keep in mind the first time I was resourceful enough to reach the light switch in my brother’s bedroom, flipping it off and on while he laughed from his bedside. I muse over over my fifth birthday party as if it were yesterday - even though it came about 47 years ago. That was also the year (1957) that my brothers and I, six weeks earlier, looked up the funnel of a meandering tornado, dancing across the sky above our backyard and touching down, moments later, just blocks away from our home. From that period forward, my mind is filled with memorable events that highlighted my upbringing. My recollections before that hallmark year are much more evading - a pain to my brain-strains that beckon upon them like the pleading walls of an empty gallery. There must be so many forgotten events, before that period, important as they may be, I still haven’t recovered a conscious inkling of. Maybe, I never will…
Even more intriguing to me, are two memories I do retain - the two earliest memories of my life - memories from the crib. While one is only a short vignette, they are both, nevertheless, remarkable accountings. These organic recordings are branded as indelible inscriptions upon the foundation of my being. They have absorbed into my character, and are emblazoned upon the cornerstone of my nature. The first episode sparked a curiosity within me that would some day lead towards the path of artistic expression. It marked a path to awareness that acknowledged a larger world outside my diminutive realm. It was a simple occurrence of something I had to envision as my synapses built their bridges into the hollows of my imagination. The other memory blossomed a cognitive delineation between the essence of life and the emotional haunting of death. The second remembrance also evoked the significance of nurturing.
Infants are sensory sponges, and tactile response is of paramount importance in their earliest days of life. A child touches not only with it’s hands, but with it’s tongue as well, grabbing anything shiny, noisy, or just clearly within reach. Children put objects in their mouth, not only to taste, but also to feel and identify. Even in the dark, a toddler’s tongue easily recognizes the nippled relief of its mother’s breast. As time passes by, the babe’s eyes and ears become more acute as receptors for disseminating information. The main ingredient missing in the tot’s early times is a cognitive process of learning to command for itself. The lack of plain language veils communicative and reverberating efforts to the world at large, defining it’s specific needs. A baby can cue, giggle in appreciation, and cry in fear, hunger, pain, and frustration – but they can’t say, “I’ve got an itch I can’t scratch…” My crib memories are from that realm of existence where objects, care givers, and resonance are magnificent wonders.
"Infinite Dream" © 2009 BMM
‘Crib Memory Number One’
Simple pleasures, soothing sounds, soft textures – baby stuff. An infant has several points of view it can’t escape in a crib. Bars, walls, and ceilings. Left on its back, and within the confines of its crib, an infant has oodles of time to muse. Just after I was born, my family moved into a new home. There were three bedrooms – one for my parents, and one for each of my older brothers. My place was left to a crib situated in the living room. There were four windows there, an open entry hall to the front door, and two other doors – one to the den, and another, with a springed hinge, leading to the kitchen. My crib was situated against the wall away from the windows and facing the den doorway. When left alone, life was mostly quiet. One day, as I was just being and breathing in a baby’s daydream place, something captured my attention, marking the beginning of my first forever memory.
The experience started as a undertone and became a cadence. There was something moving behind the closed curtains and brown wooden slated blinds. It was reminiscent of my breathing; it was akin to my heart beating, and finally, it was like my mother’s singing, smooth, textured, and lovable. It was nature’s musical lullaby – a rain shower. So delicate, restrained, fragile, but spirited. It carried on beyond my sight; still, I knew where it was. It was not dwelling behind the drawn curtains, but beyond the blinds. It was outside, and it was calling to me so melodiously. I yearned to see it. I was captivated. I was charmed and spellbound… There was color in the resonance, there was peacefulness. It was another life beyond my own, but it was different from my family’s. It was god looking over me… I felt wonder, and bliss, pleasure, and harmony. Filled with such contentment and gratification, and with my first forever memory in hand, I slowly yielded to the pitter patter rhythm of that soul of verve and fell into slumber…
‘Crib Memory Number Two’
My second memory, from the crib, was nothing like my first. It was full of upheaval, disturbance, and unnatural alliances that taunted my perceptions. I have no recollection of how my day had started, but I remember my mother settling me into my crib, after a feeding in the kitchen highchair. As she left me alone, and passed through the swinging kitchen door, I was happy, and full of baby food. Life was good. But suddenly there was something new, something different. The door from the living room to the den had been left open… As I gazed into that far away place, from my crib, there was something astray, disparate, unusual…
My father was an avid sportsman and hunter. He, later in life, would be the among the first men to hunt down and kill the “Big Five” trophy animals of the world (Elephant, African Lion, Indian Leopard, Cape Buffalo and Black Rhinoceros) - using only a pistol. As for myself, I grew up to hunt with a camera. The differences between my dad and I, most certainly, developed from a seed buried in the incident of that day of my second crib memory. As it came to be, Dad had recently brought home his first trophy taxidermied head - something like a ten point White Tailed buck deer. He had proudly left it hung it on our den wall. It hung directly upon the wall opposing the den doorway facing my crib in the livingroom...
On this day, I was alone in my crib, and the den door was open so that I faced a dead beast (without legs). There it hung, staring at me. Unmoving, without breath, and unanimated. It just gaped at me. I imagine what set me off was the fact this new presence, this staring creature, had such large darken eyes – eyes that didn’t blink. My mother’s eye’s blinked, my brother’s – their eyes blinked. This towering mammal was, at first, beautiful, and curious looking. Still, it continued to gaze at me with those lingering, unblinking eyes. My curiosity suddenly turned to fear. The buck wouldn’t quit staring, so I began crying. At first, quietly, and then with a greater bravado. Soon my mother came into the room, from the kitchen, and tried to settle me. She held me in her loving arms so I could look into her eyes, they blinked, and all was well. Then, she laid me back in the crib and returned to the kitchen. As soon as she had gone, I saw the partial life form again, staring, unflappable. I began to cry again. This time I wailed and wrestled about in my inescapable domain. My mother came back to the crib, with a bottle, and encouraged me with her sweet words. I calmed down again, and again, she returned to the kitchen.
It was only a matter of moments before I realized my tormentor was still in the same place it had been before. I began to weep and moan once more with an ever increasing crescendo. This time, instead of my mother returning to my side, it was my grandmother, Mimi, who came to me in my crib. This is my first memory of my grandmother, but I know, I knew her well. She was a different soul, with a more textured voice, and a delicate sense of love that made me feel comforted again. Mimi looked at my still-filled bottle and reoffered it to me. I was not interested. Then, she also cradled me in her arms for a while. As with my mother’s visits before, I quickly settled. After a few minutes, she placed me back into the cradle and took the bottle with her, disappearing through the kitchen door. At this point, I wasted little time in rediscovering my nemesis. It was no longer just a baby’s uncertainty, I was scared, completely frightened, and disturbed to my core… I began to shriek, scream, and bawl. I must have been turning red and blue with fluster.
Finally, another figure came through the kitchen door. Large, slow, certain, and wise – it was my Great-Grandmother, Little Mama. Little Mama had lived so many of my little lives, raised five children of her own. One, died as a child with a burst appendix, back in the day when a doctor’s call was by horse and buggy. Time was swift and the child passed away before anything could be done. As I grew older, and could ask Little Mama all the questions children love to ask, she, like any loving Great-Grandmother, always obligingly, lovingly, and patiently answered my queries – no matter how much they may have hurt, or stirred her within the deepest regions of her own weary heart. She would tell me, years later, “The hospital was too far, too far away.”
Little Mama was the softest, the lowest toned, and slowest speaking of these three most wonderful women. Donna (her real name) picked me up and snuggled me into her bosom – a crib unto itself. She held me, kissed me on my ears, spoke to me in words I couldn’t understand, but knew were special sounds she only shared with me. Little Mama walked with me around and around the room for so long a time. Suddenly we stopped and she kicked the den door with her foot, closing it resoundingly. After some extra hugging and snuggling, she settled me back into my crib while rearranged my blankets and speaking to me in velvet, reassuring tones. My dear Little Mama. As Donna was returning to the kitchen, she continued speaking in soft tones as she moved away and finally, out of sight. I was happy again. Then I looked to the foot of my small domain, towards the den – there was only a closed door, and the coordination of my room was back to normal. No longer was there a beast about to frighten me again. Finally, my ordeal was over.
Little Mama passed away, an invalid, in a rented hospital bed, set by a window in my grandmother Mimi’s bedroom, in 1967. I was fifteen. I will always carry her remembrance in my heart. And, for as long as I live, I’ll pass this story along to others – from friends, and surely, on to my nieces, to pass on to their children, for the memories of life are meant to shared, and shared again, and again…
"One Path Into Two" © 2005 BMM
Frost on fallen leaves, glistens beneath bare trees,
as break of dawn offers adieu - painting a blue sky anew.
Passing from place to place, revolving wind - full of grace.
Remembering not to repeat - a life parsed, and now complete.
Fallen into this ground, a sleeping soul hears not a sound…
Even as water seeps, between crevasses up from the deep.
And from that spring to river run –
A fullness of time, and ebb, and flow,
A winding path, gains stature unto its end,
Finally, discovered ocean, from salt beginning again.
No spoken words can bless so beautiful as ancient trees.
No memory was made to outlast Nature’s force of reprise.
I care not for when I’m gone, if my works shall tarry on -
For when my day is due, I’m relived it’s left up to you.
And then you shall burden and light along, until your time has come and gone…
Afterwards, like me, and you too, our dust will turn into something with glue.
Cycles go, and rotations respin, time after time, and then time again…
Brad Michael Moore 11/25/2006
"Feathered Flower [Stolen Art]" © 2007 BMM
Life’s Little Bleedings – by Brad Michael Moore - 11/12/2006
Melodies, sweet melodies, springing from my fingers, trailing along the strings of my wooden instrument - making me weep... Upon the bridge, in a river of musical course, a bump upon a river rock, a string pops, and pierces my thumb. Not only a stream of my blood runs between my fingers, but a dull, yet throbbing, pain urges me to bury my thumb within both of my hands and squeeze the life away from its pain. My feet straddle the ground as if I was circling an invisible barrel – a waltz of grief becomes a waltz again. I refocus my eyes, reset my demeanor, and bearing, and then go to my guitar case for a new string to be set, and stretched into it’s fresh tinseled tone to be blended into a neighboring quintet where it shall learn the notion of harmony.
My mother’s rose bush, I pick from it often, to garish her breakfast table. It is an uneasy relationship, both with my mother and her rose bush. Her expectations of me, I can hardly ever fathom – for it is a Mother’s way to expect gifts, and efforts through expectations unspoken for. It is a son’s way, or husband’s way, to lack in the perceptions of a woman’s thoughts and wishes as we take steps too heavy as we bumble along.
But, getting back to the rose bush. I approach it cautiously, carefully, as if it were some kind of mad dog. I study it warily. Each of its blooms are at a different juncture in their existence. I seek the ones just past their pre-pubescence for they have learned their song of fragrance, and have suddenly come out and exposed themselves for all to see – a resemblance of their first debutante’s ball. It is you, I choose. And when I reach, so carefully, respectfully, to snip your lifeline – I do so with profound sadness, and apologies. I know your life would be nearly as short on your vine – but it would also be one that passes unnoticed in summer evening’s air. At the table, before the window, my family will nourish ourselves during the spending of this young rose’s life, so blossomed, and radiant, but silently depleting – still, you will never to be lost to the ground. For when the final time in our vase comes, my fair rose, and you are graceful no more, my mother will pick your pedals, and place them in a basket, or a jar. Then you will be anointed, perfumed, and placed near a sitting place, to grace her home, and make its air more pleasant.
As I take my leave, and begin my walk home, I stretch my arms out and touch my toes, then in quick motion, raising them back up with my hands flailing – one to be caught by that Rose Bush who pierces my thumb! I let out a mighty roar… Not only a stream of my blood runs between my fingers, but a dull, yet throbbing, pain urges me to bury my thumb within both of my hands and squeeze the life away from its pain. My feet straddle the ground as if I was circling an invisible barrel – a waltz of grief becomes a waltz again. I refocus my eyes, reset my demeanor, and bearing, and then carry on along the path to my home.
"As An Ode for Lisa Anne" C Brad Michael Moore 1968-2010, A Digital Artifact based upon an analog negative.
I grew up without the wisdom of others, for the most part. My Grandmother allowed me to use her Argus Twin-lens from about the age of five - but she never instructed me - or really knew to pass her photo skills to me - as a youngster... I had to fend for myself, and learn on my own. Just a few years too old for Elvis and, and a few years too young to grow into a true Hippie - I still clung to the ideas of, "Flower Power," and most all things
Natural. Later, into my early adulthood, I met my first True-blue Mentor, an environmentalist named Edward "Ned" Fritz. Ned had made his way in his first 56 years as a lawyer, and found his talent could also be focused on, "Change." So Ned became a crusader for his second love - the wilderness. I was not shy for a strapping 21-year-old - I looked Ned up for a Cold-call one morning - wanting to know if he had any advice for a photographer interested in Nature. Ned invited me inside - as if I had been left at his door in a wet blanket. I wanted to concentrate on improving my photographic skills by learning to, 'see' things better, and I hoped Ned would have some suggestions. Ned told me he could not offer much over the art in photography, but he could show me a lot about nature - and in that knowledge, I would benefit. In the years to come, I followed Ned near over half of America as we studied timber management practices in the American National Park System. What I learned from Ned's vast knowledge of natural species of flora and fauna, taught me what I needed to know about Nature - to capture it, you must first learn to recognize - even it's smallest of qualities. Also, in seeing Ned's unending energy for fighting the establishment towards his cause - stopping the practice of timber Clear-cutting on Publicly-owned Lands - I also learned the importance of, 'perseverance!' Some years later, my grandmother, Erline, did sit down and teach me the strongest skill set she held - how to do ledgering - the basic, 'Thor's Hammer,' of being an Independent Businessman. In later years, I picked up bits and pieces through work shopping, and retreats - with artists much better known than myself. But, I owe whatever I truly have to offer because of two unselfish people who stopped what they were doing, and took the time to light my way...
Brad Michael Moore
"Galactical Tsunami" © 2007 BMM
I was born in 1952. One summer - at summer camp, my brother, and several friends sneaked out back to the camp when we were supposed to be camping out at a creek – several miles away. We had to wait for our counselors to fall asleep – we were taking a serious risk if we were found missing by a counselor... I had to be 13 to 15 years - the late summer of 1966, or 67 – definitely- it was before the US reached to moon. As we got back to the camp (still creeping outside), to raid the kitchen - the entire sky suddenly grew brighter than day! I could see details of the baseball diamond and field, trees, cabins - it was an awesome blue white light. Near as soon as the light had come - it dwindled so I could then, look up into the sky - which was white, turning to a course of blues, back to a black starry night sky - with a haloed, and narrow ring of light, that just shrunk into a point of light that disappeared. Only the four of us witnessed this event that night in the place we were [in North Central Texas] - and we couldn't truthfully tell anyone about it - since we did a bad thing - sneaking several miles back to camp without supervision... It was just a remarkable experience, I could never forget it the rest of my life. Did I see a Supernova? Or something similar to the, “Tunguska Event, of 1908?” Does this phenomenon have a name for the experience of seeing the light of it at night? History says - there was no Supernova witnessed on Earth during that period – although my mom mentioned something she read in the newspaper – she didn’t cut it out and keep it. All in all, the event lasted only 4 to 7 seconds. Recently I read about a solar particle event back in July 16–19, 1966, but I can't determine if it was a visible event, or only one recorded by astrological instruments. Maybe what I experienced was a, "Super Bolide," [A meteor that hits the atmosphere at near 90 degrees on a point near directly above one's heads - that disintegrates in the atmosphere. Well, the last supernova recorded was in 1604, the Kepler's supernova, which was just 6 parsecs away from us - there was no supernova was recorded in the 1960s. Having had such an enormous, “Galactical Experience,” at such a tender age –there is no doubt to me the experience changed my imagination and perceptions towards the supernatural, and unknown phenomenal about my world. – Brad Michael Moore
“Brazened” / Late Winter 2004 © BMM 2006
It is always an interesting dilemma for me as a photographer, when considering the options of imaging death and suffering. Even with all of today’s images of war in the media, we never can completely look away from the subject. Perhaps it enraptures the relevance of perseverance in our humanity. Maybe it represents a curiosity that only our faith alone can spell to us.
I live close to a relatively rugged terrain known as the Big Rock Area, in Jack County, Texas. In the area of this place, in the dimness of a crescent moonlit night, coyotes attacked an eight point White Tail buck deer. Both my neighbor and I heard the canids howling on the evening of the incident. Perhaps, the buck fended off the pack so his doe mate could escape their attack. He too escaped - but later bled to death from his flank injuries. Before meeting his fate, he crossed a pond on my property to a small Willow covered island. Near to the water’s edge, on the island’s south side, he was protected from the biting winds a Blue Norther sharply passing through. In this place he lay down & passed away. It was my to be on my own path to watch this whole process, and later, I too, crossed that pond. Wearing my waders, I transversed the shallow point of my pond. I went to be, and sit with this Cervidae for a little while - after I had determined he was no longer breathing. At his side, I inspected the animal’s wounds and marveled at how he could have effectively survived the recent hunting season, only to fall to a predator of a truer natural instinct than that of man. I knew this buck, for he had often rubbed his horns on many of my Cedar trees. Each of the next three nights, I observed a doe staying close to the outer banks of the pond... Several times, a Great Blue Heron stood by his side for hours at a stretch. I’ve renamed my isle to "Antler Island," and will pass on this experience as part of the lore of this land I presently live upon. The image attached to this blog is 100% reflection from a still water surrounding the island. I waited 3 days for the wind to settle and provide me a reflection of quiet essence appropriate to the subject matter.
By Brad Michael Moore
It may be poetic or even romantic to think of myself as a leaf blown here by a wind.
But every leaf finds its resting place — its little patch where it knows it may never be moved from again.
There, it follows its course in nature to be reincarnated into another realm.
Now, here in this staying place I’ve found, I listen to where the wind blows and stand out in a path to face its meaning in my life.
How well it carries the many aspects of my existence.
Always seeking without taking rest.
Always remaining a metaphor to thoughts I place near my bedside.
The wind carries me along with its roam.
It carries me with its curiosity.
It carries me with its forever seeking - its sleeplessness, and its sometimes carelessness.
I too have traveled and taken satisfaction from my freedom.
Though never fully grasping this swirling natural force, I chase it.
I too am sometimes careless.
I reach for the wind’s coattails to steal me along in its adventures.
The wind sings through those elements it moves along its fluid path through gardened corridors, ancient canyons, and human-made edifices.
I imagine its penetration of the smallest crevasses, it’s travailing with heaven’s rain, ice and snow — it’s white-capping the waters that surround this island to which I’m bound.
The wind ever changes the face of all things it meets.
It carves great arches in the sandstone of Utah.
It turns 12 inches of snow into a 20-foot drift.
It plants seeds it carries from afar to bring new life to a barren spot as it pilfers precious topsoil from crop fields poorly managed nearby.
The wind is a music maker, whether through quaking the leaves of Aspens over a Colorado mountainside, or Cottonwoods across the South – or pushing waves upon a rocky beach in Cape Cod, or caressing chimes dangling on the corner of someone’s front porch with a view.
The wind is a thief who captures balloons lost from the grasps of children at carnivals — children who watch their colored gifts disappear into big blue and wonder how far their orbs may rise.
The wind moves moisture from oceans to heartlands and propels sailing vessels with its might.
In its greatest furry, it can carry birds from one continent to another or bury a toothpick into the cambium of an oak tree.
The wind moves windmills that grind harvest grains, or raise water from deep underground. It generates electricity and waves the flags of our allegiances.
The wind guides the soaring of eagles and butterflies and all other voyagers of the sky.
The wind moves our lives as it moves our imagination. Any elements it carries along are only being assisted in moving farther down their destiny’s trail.
While we’re always thinking of ways to harness the wind’s energy — we can never capture its spirit, nor ride the true reins of its freedom.
When it’s too difficult to express myself anymore, I just listen to what the wind has to say.