I write, simply write: A memoir from 2005 Saturday, Jun 25 2011 

Six years ago about this time, I was at Sunrise Springs, New Mexico, taking part in a National Writing Project professional writers’ retreat. While I was there, I jotted down the following:

sunrise-springs.jpg I Write, Simply Write
Composed At Sunrise Springs, New Mexico
June 2005

Out here on the veranda overlooking Sunrise Springs
I’ll just write for me …
But I don’t know what.
I don’t know what because not a sorrow
Disturbs my peace.
My soul is fat,
Sleek,
Blessed beyond measure
Because this heart
Feels no hurt that God cannot heal,
Weighs no grief that hope cannot bear,
Knows no longing that love cannot satisfy.

So be it sufficient
To write about idle things, like . . .

Shimmering aspen leaves touched by the sunswept breeze.
Glistening trinkets splashing in fountains,
Dancing on ponds,
And ripples scurrying shoreward
Beneath over aching boughs of willow and cotton wood
Under a cloudless canopy
Of blue mountain sky
As I write,
Simply write.
Thank you, Lord, to be so blessed.

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Exercise in Pedantry: The worst sentence ever written? Wednesday, Jun 22 2011 

I drafted the following in the early nineties as an exercise in stylistic imitation of a passage from Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher.” Looking afresh at this portfolio relic from that era, I was surely having some fun at Poe’s stylistic expense. Not to be taken too seriously, here may be the worst sentence ever written.

Poe, the source of disinspiration noted herein.

During the course of an endless, seemingly infinite term in the late winter of the year, as the minds of prepubescent scholars grew as dull as the ponderous gray clouds which attended the seasonal gloom, a learned pedagogue, grasping firmly the cold iron railing to assist his laborious ascent of the lofty heights leading to the upper chambers of philological endeavor wherein was situated the faculty restroom, by accidental misplacement of his left foot on the discarded encasement of tropical banana fruit, was dashed violently and precipitously to the hardened concrete of the stairway steps, where his rigid, lifeless corpse was discovered some moments later, much to the delight of the juvenile learners who merrily  celebrated because now no penalty would be exacted for the woeful and incomplete condition of their last night’s homework, due to have been inspected by their lately-deceased mentor within the next hour.

The Stench of War: From Afghanistan to the Cajun Prairie Wednesday, Jun 15 2011 

LSU Eunice faculty, staff, and students lined the roadway to honor the fallen.

A tractor droned in the distance across the highway from the airport, trudging through an expansive field bristling green with early rice.  Flashing blue strobes of a dozen police cars sparkled, leading a procession from the airport road a few hundred yards away to a left turn onto Highway 755 at the edge of campus where students, staff, and faculty took a thirty minute recess from mid-morning routines to line the roadway, flags and banners waving, to pay respect.

They gathered to welcome home for final rest a fallen Marine Corporal, his remains just arrived from Afghanistan, bound in procession with family and friends for his tiny home town of Iota, a few miles further down the road through more of those bristling green rice fields stretching  across the Cajun prairie.

Those gathered had occasion to contemplate a sobering contrast: the burgeoning crops greening to fruition, an industrious tractor doing a day’s work, the pre-summer sun drenching the verdant prairie with light of life, yet traversing that idyllic landscape a melancholy procession that originated a week ago in the aftermath of a dark and violent act on the far side of the earth.

So today, this small-town Cajun lad brought home the horror and war stench of Afghanistan to our patch of Prairie. Grounded in small-town faith and patriotic values, he joined the Marines to serve with honor, no doubt willing to die with honor if such were the cost.  Our hearts are broken because he was called to the latter, and as rural, small-town folk, we feel the more diminished.

From Iota to Afghanistan, from serving with honor to dying with honor, from life to death: A small-town hero gives his life in the face of grim dichotomies, do-or-die propositions offering not so much as a measly inch of neutral zone wherein to hide or waver: such are the unreasonable ground rules of valor.

So, in the aftermath of today’s proceedings, we dwell in emptiness and mourning, even those like me who never met the deceased.  And our mourning will linger because today’s brief intersection of Corporal Richard’s life with ours brought home to our small-town senses that vile stench of war.

May God bless Corporal Richard’s memory and his family in their grief.  As grateful as we are for his service, we hate his loss.  May we grow to hate war as much.

Stony Griefs (Republished) Saturday, Jun 11 2011 

The story behind the piece: This one came from a 1998 Writing Project event; I can’t remember the details, except it was on a Saturday. Right before one of the writing sessions, a friend had told me of about an acquaintance, a minister, whose wife was paralyzed and whose daughter was killed in a car accident. That’s all I could think about when they turned us loose to pre-write, and this piece came from that exercise. I recall our pre-writing involved walking the Sacred Heart grounds and finding some objects to bring back in our pockets. I picked up a rock or two from the driveway. The rocks plus the burden of the minister’s tragedy just related evoked what you read below. I got this piece published in an online Little Magazine a year or two after I wrote it, but I can’t even remember the name of the publication or the URL. So I lost publication out there somewhere in CyberSpace . . . until now!  The influence of the Christian hymn “Nearer, my God to Thee” featured in the movie Titanic is unmistakable in the piece.

Stony Griefs
Composed at Sacred Heart, Grand Coteau, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana
By David L. Pulling
February 1998

Where is my child, my precious child?
Have the ruthless jaws of untimely death devoured her,
And snatched away the bright promise of youth?

Where is my mate, my lover?
How she lies, still and helpless.
Will this once supple, sensuous flesh
Never more come warmly to me
In the softness of the night?

Is there a balm in Gilead?
Does faith dare look up to thee?
Does blessed assurance cover me?
Or am I ruled by damned uncertainty?

I stand on holy ground,
Strewn with rocks
Like stony griefs
That bruise my soul.

Lord, may I, like Jacob,
Gather such rocks,
Such stony griefs,
And from the rubble and ruin
All around me
Raise my Beth-el,
A monument to remember
That I am,
by myself,
most
insufficient.

Shut up! Tuesday, Jun 7 2011 

In combing through handwritten leafs in the portfolio of Opus Early Nineties, I came across the following.  I don’t have a clue as to the precise rhetorical situation that gave birth this nonsensical piece, but reading it these many years later, I have to laugh.

Shut Up!

Shut up!  Shut up!

Your really must shut up!

Close your mouth and calm your nerves

And shut that darn thing up!
Your noise is most confusing;

It’s really not amusing.

And what’s worse–

Your breath’s a curse!

So shut that darn thing up.

 

Rouse’s Market Lafayette: A Review Friday, Jun 3 2011 

Rouse’s Supermarkets have been around Louisiana for a couple of generations, beginning down the Bayou in Thibodeaux and expanding throughout southeast Louisiana and the Greater New Orleans area over the years.

My mom in Covington for years  would describe her local Rouse’s with the Louisiana specialty produce and seafood, and I felt envious. I wished we had a Rouse’s in Acadiana.

Several years ago, Rouse’s finally expanded with a new store in Youngsville in the far reaches of Lafayette Parish, and that was cool, but still awfully distant from Eunice.

But now we have our own truly Lafayette Rouse’s location, just opened in a renovated space that I remember years ago as a Market Basket supermarket, on the northwest side of town much more convenient to our commute from the northwest prairie.

With the four and a half day work week LSU Eunice has granted us this summer, Sarah and I decided that Friday afternoons this season would be reserved for grocery shopping at Rouse’s in search of  interesting ingredients for weekend fare.  Last week, we cooked stuffed catfish from Rouse’s; tonight, pan-blackened Redfish; next weekend, the plan’s already set for oyster po’boys.

After two Friday afternoon visits, I am confirmed that I really, really like Rouse’s.  The produce and seafood departments are particularly distinctive, specifically regional, and at least moderately exotic.   The regular grocery section is more than adequate, and the “grand opening” special prices afford significant savings.  The customer service is also exceptionally friendly, indicating Rouse’s has a first-class employee training program.

The corner of Bertrand and Congress

So I give Rouse’s newest location in Lafayette a big “thumbs up.”  Rouse has got it goin’ on!