All the Pretty Horses

My favorite American author is Cormac McCarthy. I was a member of the Cormac McCarthy Society for a year, and will join again as soon as I get a little slack in my checkbook. (Teaching school in Louisiana is an exercise in humility and poverty). I’ve read everything he’s written that’s in print. I’m requiring my seniors in my AP class to read All the Pretty Horses. A beautiful novel that was made into a beautiful movie. Below are are couple of quotes from it I like.

Movie Quote of the Day:

“He’d half meant to speak but those eyes had altered the world forever in the space of a heartbeat.”

(John Grady) “You’re fixin to get me in trouble.”
(Alejandra) “You are in trouble.”

General Thoughts and Schedule

Today, I’m giving vocabulary tests to my honors and gifted students, and we’re filing papers and busy work like that. My room is a wreck. Imagine a writer’s study used as a classroom and you’ll get a good visual image. Books piled everywhere, scattered papers, etc. I imagine there are some writers who have clean workplaces: I salute them.

The holiday season is going to be busy. I must attend a production of Scrooge tonight–no graceful way out of it. I have a 3-4 hour editing project I must finish, and a good friend in Atlanta wants me to come visit him this weekend. Thinks it will help my recent depression. I do owe him a visit, as it’s been a year and a half since I’ve seen him, and I haven’t seen his new place in Atlanta. (He lived in Greenville). But I haven’t made up my mind as to whether I will go or not, as Sunday my band was supposed to play at a private party, but our singer is still having throat problems. I might go on to Atlanta if I can set up a book reading/signing.

 Beyond this weekend,  on the 8th of Dec. my friend and I are DJ’ing a party at Calvert Crossing in Calhoun, and playing for the Scottish Society Christmas part on the 9th, in El Dorado on Monday the 11th for the SCV, for the SCV in W. Monroe on Tuesday the 12th. January is booked for me for three weekends. I do a posting on those later.

Movie Quotation for the Day: from Cold Mountain:(my favorite Civil War movie!)

Inman: You are all that keeps me from sliding into some dark place.
Ada: But how did I keep you? We barely knew each other. A few moments.
Inman: A thousand moments. They’re like a bag of tiny diamonds glittering in a black heart. Don’t matter if they’re real or things I made up. The shape of your neck, that’s real.  

Courtly Love in the Days of Arthur

Soon, I’ll be teaching my sophomores the myths and legend of King Arthur. One important lesson of this unit concerns Courtly Love as it was practiced in the Middle Ages. I make the point of how this doctrine of the Code of Chivalry placed woman on a pedastel, and how much (sometimes how little) courtly love has influenced modern ideas of romance. I point out how marriages then were matters of practicality, issues of power, and how if a person wanted to experience true love, it had to be found outside of marriage. I wrote this poem after thinking about how a knight would feel about the object of his adoration in such a relationship.

A Queen’s Duties

You are a queen, my queen,
A princesse lointaine,

The far-away princess
I could never obtain,
One with a bursting heart,
Filled with kindness and charity,
And I, the knight, the warrior-poet,
Differing from the boisterous,
Bragging, illiterate men surrounding you,
Who think of women as breeders, servants,
As a source of their (not your) sexual gratification.
I am the chivalrous knight who
Knew from the first glance
He loved you, and only you.
I am the only knight who would
Suffer for you, court you, even die for you,
You, with your responsibilities,
Duties, schedules, and blossoming beauty,
You, the queen who knew books
And loved words, who needed my poems.
The Queen of Love and Beauty.
We were thrown together
By chance, a fateful meeting,
The kind that changes everything, and
My queen became the love of my life.
This courtly love is our hearts’ outlet,
Feeding our souls, our hearts, our bodies,
But you are still a queen with duties, one
Who loves those in her charge too much
To destroy her own kingdom
Because of her own needs.
The rules of love are different for a queen.
She can only love when and as she can.
Some say courtly love cannot work in a modern world,
I say it can if it must, for as long as it must.
I know that it has elevated you,
Civilized and energized me,
I will always be your knight in the background,
Practicing the proper etiquette, but
Walking the knife’s edge of admiration of you,
Holding the tokens of your love against my heart.

A Song for E.B.D.

My muse has been active lately. I thought I’d try my hand on a song. The lyrics seem to work, though like everything I write, need editing, but the song has a feel I like. Now must get to work on a melody.

In my new silence of living
I have no regrets,
For the magnet of your love
That still pulls upon me yet.

I’ll hold to my promise
To my words and my verse,
To lose you is hard,
But to hurt you would be worse.

If by chance I should see you,
You won’t see me cry,
I’ll smile and I’ll wave,
But when you’re gone I’ll die.

There’s no need of compensation,
There’s no lines drawn in the sand,
Only soft pleasant memories
Of me once holding your hand.

You’re still my heart’s focus,
Still the love of my life,
Your ghost will walk with me
Until the day that I die.

There’s an ache deep inside me,
My heart’s hollow and sore,
Breaking from the memory
Of what’s not there anymore.

I know it’s not an ending,
But it still feels like death,
Because you’re the best thing
That’s happened to me yet.

We faced love’s complications,
Lived through storms and through guilt,
And even this amputation
Won’t end the love that we’ve built.

The best and worst things happen
When the timing is wrong,
But we’ll live on forever
In the words of my songs.

Out of Africa

Yesterday, I saw a stack of blank maps of Africa in my classroom. If you teach English in this culturally illiterate age, you learn that you have to teach other subjects (across the curriculum is the jargon) also in order for the students to truly grasp the literature. So, I make use of history and maps constantly. The blank ones I use for various assignments, usually for the gifted students to map out colonial Africa. Anyway, when I saw these maps, I thought of two books: Heart of Darkness and Out of Africa. I thought some more on this and realized that books become points of reference. I still remember my first reading of both of these books, so they’ve become part of my mind calendar. Books and movies: the two greatest influences on my mind these days. I also remember seeing the 1985 movie version of Out of Africa. That made me think of this quotation, which I so identify with these days.

Movie Quote of the Day: I’ve got this little thing that I’ve learned to do lately. When it gets so bad…and I think I can’t go on…I try to make it worse. –from Out of Africa

There are many other memorable quotes in this movie. You can find the script for Out of Africa here:

Steer by the Stars

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, one of my favorite performers is Beth Patterson. I’ve transcribed one of my favorite songs she often performs. It just seemed to speak to me today. One word is in brackets, indicating I could be wrong on the transcription there. Of course I could be in other places too. You need to buy this CD of hers. It’s called, Hybrid Vigor. Here’s the song, “Steer by the Stars.”

Steer by the Stars by Beth Patterson

With twilight descending, in slumber you find

And I am certain that I have safely passed from your mind

Only then can I serenade you unconfined

In the secrecy of my heart


Do you shine bright as always

As in [sadness] of old

Do you sing with four voices,

Or breathe hot and cold

Do you nurture my memory

Or yet still behold another creature of some land apart



How can a blind man steer by the stars?

And how can a poor man have power?

How can a dead man rise from the grave,

And how can I have hope in this hour?


I desired no promise, only your company,

And I flourished in your presence, most wholeheartedly,

Though I still would rejoin you, I face reality,

It attracts me from dusk until dawn


Now we all take our chances of what we became, but

Only fools would rush in where an angel’s been slain,

And the sound of far voices, you still call my name

Even though your presence is gone.




Free from all envy and free from all pride

I marveled at your joy

As I walked by your side


And I wish not to taint you

With the aspects I hide

Of my past, my thoughts, and my fears


When time finally tempers this heart sick and sore

And your eyes no longer dance in my dreams anymore,

I will still sing your praises of a time long before

I was blinded by so many tears.




On Deadly Ground

I’ve always been a fan of the martial arts, so as I was wrapping up my evening, I couldn’t resist watching a few minutes of Stevan Segal in On Deadly Ground. The bar fight scene has always fascinated me, as has the title of the movie, which is obviously an allusion to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. There are many sites devoted to this military classic. One is here:

I don’t watch TV much at all, but I am quite addicted to movies, especially if they can give me some memorable lines.

MOVIE QUOTE OF THE DAY: “What does it take to change the essence of a man?”–Forrest Taft, in On Deadly Ground.

Battleground Louisiana: Civil War Events and Experiences

Beginning February 22, on Thursday nights I’ll be the facilitator for this series sponsored by Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. It is a pilot program–meaning there’s no syllabus, and an experiement–but the five books are well-chosen and will certainly activate lively discussion, especially if the participants are as excited about the War Between the States as I am. The series will run from 6:00-8:00 pm each Thursday until March 29 and will be held at the Franklin Parish Library. It is part of the RELIC Library Programs the Endowment sponsors.

The books chosen are: Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone, 1861-1868; One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End: The Red River Campaign; The Civil War in Louisiana; The Louisiana Native Guards: The Black Military Experience during the Civil War; and When the Devil Came down to Dixie: Ben Butler in New Orleans.

The reading load is reasonable, but there will be a good bit of preparation required on my part, but I am very excited. I’ll probably have another posting on this topic later.

MOVIE QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I will love you always. I will love you as my queen, and as the wife of my best friend, and while you live, I will love no other.” –Sir Lancelot in Excalibur.

Thanksgiving Over

Story Ideas: Movie Quote of the Day:
Isolde: If things were different. If we lived in a place without duty … would you be with me?
Tristan: That place does not exist.
Isolde: I’ll pretend it’s you.
–From Tristan and Isolde.

Well, a week of vacation has flown by once again. I spent Thanksgiving with my brother in Fort Worth. It was the first time I had seen him in years. It was good having my brother and I and our parents all together. Tempus Fugit. Now the Thanksgiving holiday is gone and the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future now crowd and haunt us. We are now the third week into the third six weeks of our first semester. Before tomorrow, I must grade papers. I’m not looking forward to that.

Yesterday, sitting in the Starbucks along the bayou like a wounded Tristan, I worked on my Civil War Western. I’m at about 40,000 words. I plan on getting higher, then editing it and cutting it down to novella or small novel size. Then I’ll have to get it to my readers. I’ve been writing every day, mostly poetry, but now I realize I need to get my focus back on my fiction, which I’m sure the poetry I’ve written will help feed.

Tristan and Isolde

Isolde: It doesn’t mean it isn’t true. It is. It just cannot be.–Tristan and Isolde

When I want to suffer, I can really lay it on myself. I had a bad day, was feeling deeply depressed, and what do I do?

I shut myself up alone at home and watch Tristan and Isolde. In spite of being down in the dumps, I found the movie extraordinary, with MANY moving lines relevant to my present bathos and dark mood. If you are a incurable romantic, or if you just like the Tristan-Isolde love-triangle story, you must see this movie. I found a site devoted to the film. The site also provides the movie’s script as long as you give credit to Chani. Visit them here: