Wednesday, June 28, 2017

An Infinite Deal of Words



The Birth of Christ, Gerard van Honthorst

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God , and the Word was God... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, ... and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." - (John 1:1,14)

Mark "Perfesser Creek-water" D'Orazio
Have you ever suffered from language exhaustion? I have reached my limit just about now. Facebook, Twitter, news sites, other social media sites, all of these seem to be spewing an endless stream of self-righteousness, rage, insults and vitriol. So I want to talk about my brother, a man of many words. My brother Mark D'Orazio, whose nom de plume is "PERFESSER CREEK-WATER",  is a wanderer with no permanent home. Like Forrest Gump, he has walked from coast to coast-- several times in fact. Twenty-five years ago or so, he lived in New York City, under a bridge, and sold his poems on the street. He called himself a "HOME*LESS BY CHOICE WORD*SMITH." 

When Mark sold his poems on the streets of NYC, he separated them into two piles. One he called NICE WORDS, the other POLEMICS. He had a few regular customers, for whom he would select poems based on how the person was feeling that day. He would never select from the POLEMICS pile if the person was in a bad mood or feeling stressed. 


"You need nice words today," Mark would say, and draw a poem from his NICE WORDS pile.


It intrigued me that the two concepts were not opposites: nice words and polemics. They reflected two predominating passions of my brother--the simplicity and natural beauty of life on the road, and the quest for justice.

But Mark recognized that the quest for justice needed to be tempered by an appreciation for beauty, truth and goodness. Hence he refused to sell his polemical poems to customers who seemed in need of gentler words. 

I wrote a few weeks back about the conflict in the film Dr. Zhivago between art, represented by the poet, Yuri Zhivago, and politics, represented by the Bolshevik, Pasha Antipov. My brother Mark, in the way that he distributed his poems, showed that a person can embody both impulses, the artistic and the political.  Social media needs more folks who can do the same. Balance is what we need. I think I might overcome my exhaustion with words if there were more gentleness of expression spread among all those words that are a shrill call to arms.


Blessed James Alberione was a man of many words also. He correctly foresaw that the people of the 20th century and beyond would have a tsunami of words coming at them from the new means of communication that the technologies of the late 19th century were developing. These could be used for the good or for the bad:

"Throughout the night in every part of the world, thousands of great machines, operating at astonishing speeds, produce millions and millions of copies of magazines and newspapers. Each evening crowds of movie-goers watch motion pictures. For practically the entire day, radio and television are on the air with programs... Who is to say what percentage is good and what percentage, instead, is dangerous?" (Thoughts p. 168)

And so I will consider my brother Mark, whose percentage of words is near 100% good, even in his polemics. What kind of poem are you in the mood for today?  The first is from his collection of "nice words", the second from his polemics.  Could we please have more of a balance of each?

Note: Mark has been writing in all caps since before the Internet began, before it came to mean "shouting"*. Now approaching 70 years of age, he has been experimenting with lower-case. But these are from his earlier works.


EARTH + SKY (From "NICE WORDS")



THE SKY IS MY ROOF
THE EARTH IS MY HOME
THIS MUCH IS TRUE WHERE*EVER I ROAM
A POSITIVE ATTITUDE OUT ON "THE STREET"
RESPECT + COMPASSION FOR PEOPLE I MEET

I USE WHAT I FIND I STEAL FROM NO ONE
I LAY DOWN TO REST WHEN DAY'S WORK IS DONE

AND EVEN THO LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS A LARK
LOOK FOR THE LIGHT EVEN WHEN IT IS DARK

I TRY TO GO FORWARD EACH DAY AS I LIVE

IF YOU DO ME WRONG I AM QUICK TO FORGIVE

IF I DO YOU WRONG THEN I HOPE + I PRAY

THAT WE SOON CAN BE FRIENDS AGAIN
WITHOUT DELAY

SINCERELY - M.D. 1990



THE BAGEL-BAKERs (From "POLEMICS")



THE BAKERs BAKE THE BAGELs EVERY DAY

   THE DUMPSTER SITs OUT BACK NEAR-BY THE DOOR
AND WHAT THEY DO NOT SELL,  THEY THROW AWAY
   A HUNDRED THOUSAND BAGELs,  MAYBE MORE

ARE PEOPLE GO-ING HUNGRY EVERY NIGHT ??
   OR AM I JUST A POOR DELUDED FOOL ??
I WANT TO KNOW WHAT's WRONG + WHAT IS RIGHT
   OF THINGs THEY JUST DON'T TALK ABOUT IN SCHOOL

I SEE THIS BAGEL-DUMPSTER LOCK'D UP TIGHT
   WITH LOCKs + BARs + QUARTER-INCH-THICK STEEL
I PEEK IN-SIDE:  SOME BAGELs ARE IN SIGHT
   IF I BE HUNGRY,  HOW YOU THINK I FEEL ??

     NOW SHOULD I MENTION THEIR ADDRESS ??
     NO --- THEY KNOW WHO THEY ARE,  I GUESS

NEW YORK CITY / 1989 

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*In the preface to his writings, Mark always puts this advisory:  "PERFESSER" CREEK-WATER KNOWs HOW TO CORRECT-LY SPELL MOST WORDs IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, AND CHOOSEs ALTERNATE SPELLs TO HELP READERs BUST OUT OF HABITUAL THINKING-PATTERNs ... PLUS: HE LIKEs HYPHENs
.

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Rae Stabosz has been a member of the Association of Pauline Cooperators since 2003. She and Bill Stabosz, her husband of 48 years, have six sons, three daughters, ten grandsons and eight granddaughters; they eagerly await the birth of grands #19 & #20 in October. Rae retired in 2007 from the University of Delaware, where she was a technology and media specialist for 27 years. She is co-founder and past president of The Society of Catholic Scholars of Delaware and proprietor, since 2004, of the Pious Ladies Bookmobile.


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