Category Archives: author

Robert Flynn Author Novelist Teacher

Bob’s Story:
 I was born at home in a house surrounded by cotton fields.  A few miles to the east and we would would have been in an oil field.  A few miles west and we would have been on land good for nothing but running cows and chasing jackrabbits.  My grandfather had been tricked into buying the only place in twenty miles that would grow cotton.
 
It was in the cotton field that I first learned the power of the English language.  Those who chopped cotton with a hoe were not called hoers.  As my mother explained to me with a switch.  It occurred to me that if the wrong word like hoer had the power to move my mother to such action, just think what using the right word like hoe hand could accomplish.
 
That was when I first got the notion of being a writer.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  We didn’t go in much for writing at the country school I attended.  We studied penmanship.  But we knew what a writer was.  A writer was somebody who was dead.  And if he was any good he had been dead a long time. If he was real good, people killed him. They killed him with hemlock. Hemlock was the Greek word for Freshman Composition.
 
The country school I attended was closed, and we were bused to Chillicothe. Chillicothe, Texas is small. Chillicothe is so small there’s only one Baptist Church. Chillicothe is so small you have to go to Quanah to have a coincidence.  For a good coincidence, you have to go to Vernon.  Chillicothe was fairly bursting with truth and beauty, and my teacher encouraged me to write something that had an epiphany.  For an epiphany, you had to go all the way to Wichita Falls.
 
Real writers wrote about such things as I had never heard of.Damsels.  Splendor falling on castle walls.  For splendor, we had to go to the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show. Since I wasn’t overly familiar with damsels and  splendor, I tried reading what real writers wrote about rural life.  “Dear child of nature, let them rail.  There is a nest in a green vale.”  Which was pretty mystifying to me.  Didn’t writers get chiggers like everybody else?
 
It looked like for truth and beauty you had to cross Red River.  All I knew about was a little place called Chillicothe.  And it wasn’t even the Chillicothe that was on the map.  Truth in that mythical place was neither comic nor tragic, neither big nor eternal.  And it was revealed through the lives of common folk who belched and fornicated, and knew moments of courage, and saw beauty in their meager lives.  But I could not write about the people I knew without using the vocabulary they knew.  My father did not believe a cowboy said “golly bum” when a horse ran him through a bob wire fence.
 
Words are not casual things.  They are powerful.  Even explosive.  Words can start wars, or families.  Words can wound, they can shock and offend.  Words can also heal, and explain, and give hope and understanding.  Words have an intrinsic worth, and there is pride and delight in using the right word.  Anyone who chops cotton with an axe is a hoer.
(From “Truth and Beauty”)
 
THE REST OF THE STORY
In New Testament times, paper was expensive and writing laborious.  It is for that reason that some stories in the Gospels seem truncated.  Today you can learn The Rest of the Story:
 
The Good Deed, John 9:
 
Jesus spat on the ground and made some mud with the spittle; he rubbed the mud on the man’s eyes, and told him, “Go wash your face in the pool of Siloam.  So the man went, washed his face, and came back seeing.  His neighbors then, and the people who had seen him begging before this, asked, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?”
The rest of the story:
 
The following day, the man came to Jesus again, and said, “You have ruined my life.  I can’t read or write.  I don’t recognize numbers.  I have no skills.  And now my neighbors know I’m not blind.  How can I beg?  Are you going to let me starve?”  And Jesus spat on the ground again.

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MATTIE LENNON Irish poet, author, folklorist and traditional music aficionado

Irish poet, author, folklorist and traditional music aficionado, with a penchant for holding forth at length on the little vignettes and foibles of human nature that many others pass by unnoted, Mattie Lennon welcomes you.

Make yourself at home and sit awhile with him as he introduces you to some of the sights, scenes and sayings that he has come across in his travels from the little village of Kylebeg among the Wicklow Hills to where he lives.

Where that is exactly depends on what you are looking for. His employers i.e. those who pay my wages, expect to find him hard at work. He works as an inspector with Dublin Bus, while his wife expects to find him at home.  He can be found in both locations, at least some of the time.

But he has managed to find some time to engage in general interests further afield. He has put together accounts of experiences in all manners and means of what he has been up to.  Truly, has enjoyed his career, all o fit, to date and can only hope that there will be more of the same in times to come.

It was 1959. The National Council for The Blind of Ireland gave his visually impaired mother a wireless. It was his family’s first radio. At the time his contemporaries were clued in to the highlights of Radio Luxemburg and the Light Programme. But, always one to live in the past, he has a preference for the folk programmes on Radio Eireann.

THEN IN HIS OWN WORDS

On Monday, January 10th, 1949, I attained the age of three. I don’t remember it, but I do recall Thursday 13th, it was the Fair-Day in Blessington. When I awoke it was very dark. I made my way into the kitchen, attracted by the yellow glow of lamplight; my feet sensitive to the change of surface as I stepped from the concrete floor of the upper room to the granite paved kitchen. It was not night but morning; a fact proclaimed by my father’s apparel as he sat on a low stool at a military-style bench which on this occasion served as a breakfast table.

The Primary Cert, my first attempt at growing side locks and the feeling that my initial nocturnal adventure into Soho was in some way repugnant to Catechism teaching are all a sort of psychedelic jumble in my brain. Most memories have become blurred on the screen of time, but superimposed there and in no way distorted is my first picture of that big man, with graying hair, eating home-cured rashers from a maidenhair fern plate. The kitchen was devoid of a clock, but he threw the odd glance at the key-winder pocket watch which hung from a bent oval nail on the second shelf of the dresser. (Years later, during one of my unsuccessful attempts at horology I dismantled the faithful chronometer and having reassembled it, had parts left over; Nothing was learned from the operation except that it had been repaired in 1899). When he had mopped up the last drop of grease with a crust of home-made bread, I was to witness a scene that I would see repeated a thousand times. He took each of his boots in turn and placed a couple of small red coals inside each. Then, expertly, he rocked them from heel to toe several times. He replaced the coals in the fire, laced each boot firmly and stamped his feet on the hearth as if to test it.

A full pipe was tamped with his index finger and reddened with a paper spill lit from the glass-bowled oil lamp which stood at his right elbow. My mother often talked of trimming and filling oil-lamps in the house of gentry, yet she hardly ever succeeded in cutting this lamp wick straight across. The result was a diagonal flame.

Then, he took the reins out of the pony’s winkers that hung by the open fire, under the tallague. With the rope he made a head collar, went to the cow house and led out the white head cow. The name was not a misnomer; she was a big red animal, with a white forehead adorned by two sturdy unmatching horns. I was seeing her for the first time; having sprinkled her with Holy Water, from a jam-dish on the windowsill and making the Sign of the Cross on himself, he brought her to the road. The predawn hue was giving way to daylight. It was already bright enough to see the silhouetted paling posts and the stark contour of Black Hill and the stable.

A rat raced across the road. A neighbour cycled past on his way to work. Friendly salutations were exchanged. My mother ushered me back to bed. My first recordable day had begun.

I spent the  first 25 years of my life at home on a small farm. I can identify with Patrick Kavanagh’s “burgled bank of youth” (and I am one of the few of my generation who knows how to make a bush-harrow). As a young fellow whenever I was blamed in the wrong, I would compose a derogatory ballad about my accuser. There weren’t many false accusations so I wasn’t very prolific.

I was nicknamed “the Poet” but  the term wasn’t always complimentary. I agrees that what is said behind one’s back is their standing in the community and my favourite quotation is a comment made about me by a neighbour: “Wouldn’t you think someone would tell him he’s an eejit, when he doesn’t know himself”.

I have  spent most of the last thirty years in Dublin but when asked “Will you ever go back to Kylebeg”? my answer is always Joycean. When James Joyce was asked, in Trieste; “Will you ever return to Dublin?” he said; “I never left”. 

I have written articles (mostly humorous) for The Sunday Independent, The Irish Times, The Irish Post, Ireland’s Own, Ireland’s Eye, Kerry’s Eye, The Wicklow People, The Leinster Leader as well as numerous on-line publications.

I was once told; “You have the perfect face for radio” and I compiled and presented my own programmes in the “Voiceover” series on RTE Radio One. I have  presented ballad programmes on KIC FM, Liffey Sound and Radio Dublin.

I  co-presented a Saint Patrick’s Day Ceol na nGael programme on WFUV 90.7 in the Bronx and I do pre-recorded programmes for other stations. One such programme is “The Story And The Song” in which I play a number of ballads, having first told the story behind each one.

I still write the occasional ballad (not all of them fit for human consumption).

Some of my literary efforts include stories and poems as well as some articles and essays I have penned for a variety of national newspapers and periodicals. Blogs have become Must Haves, a late addition to a virtual roomful of memories.

For some of my essays, short stories, plays, and poems go to my website http://www.mattielennon.com and for more of my work follow me on this website thebrainpanwordpress.me.

Some of Mattie’s Work can be  found under the Mattie Works links in the right menu bar of this website.

 

BREAD AN’ MATE..

  By Mattie Lennon

It has been said that the first duty of a gentleman is to keep out of the hands of the police. Up to the time of writing I have carried out my gentlemanly duties, in that respect, every day of my life, with one exception. That was Tuesday 04th November 1969 when I was the victim of a wrongful arrest.

At 11:15 A.M. and I was feeding our one and only bonham. A car bearing the roof-sign of our National Guardians of the Peace stopped at the gate of our humble abode at Kylebeg. It was driven by a 38 year old farmer’s son, Paddy Browne, from Kenmare. He shared a surname with the one-time Earls of Kenmare but a Protestant farmer who had rented a house to him had once told me that there wasn’t much evidence of any nobility connection. The observer was a 44-year-old son-of-the-soil from Kilmorgan, Co. Sligo. His Name was Bill Tighe. (Up to that moment I had little dealings with either officer apart from meeting them during Census-taking. I knew that they referred to me as “the Poet”, which was understandable since I was in the habit of linking, even the most grim situation to a poetic allusion.) Despite their agricultural background they had no compunction about taking me away from my pig-feeding, when they asked me to accompany them to Blessington Station.

If my neighbours hadn’t known me as well as they did no doubt the would have been;” Wondering if the man had done a great or little thing”.

Didn’t the poet say;

To every Irishman on earth,

Arrest comes soon or late.

While Browne reversed the Squad-car down our narrow lane Tighe revealed to me that I had stolen an unspecified quantity of ham on Friday 24th October. Although I was no Phrenologist, looking at his profile from the back seat I recalled a comment made by one of my neighbours.  Whatever about the grammatical correctness of the observation I was now tempted to accede to its accuracy; he had once described Tighe as being;  “ as thick as the butt end of a horse’s bollocks that never saw anything only shite.”  And, at that moment, I became a bit more tolerant of those who drew the cartoons of the Irish in the 19th century Punch magazine.

Once in the station another Garda had something to say. This 31 year old was Willie Nash, from Gurtnacrehy, Co. Limerick. (You may not have heard of Gurtnacrehy; the only time the word crops up is in the names of Greyhounds.)  Nash was so well turned out that he was like a male mannequin compared to his more bucolic colleagues.  When he first came to Blessington in January 1962 he was a useful man on the football field and sported a crew-cut. Now he was opting for a (slightly belated) Beatle look. He imparted the additional information that I had maliciously burned a rick of hay, the property of Dan Cullen, on Saturday 27th September. I didn’t share the view of the local farmer who, at the time, said, “There was only one mistake; that he wasn’t in it when they lit it.”

Nash’s body language (as he replaced a nail-file in his tunic pocket, having checked his reflection in the window ) proclaimed his lack of self-esteem and the fact that he was well aware of my innocence. His rhetorical question: “Would it surprise you to know that you were seen lighting it?” was slightly off the mark (not to mention off the wall).

I knew, through my own sources, that a quantity of ham had been reported stolen in Ballinastockan. (I wasn’t told if it was a quarter or a half pound) but I doubted the authenticity of the crime. As the interrogation progressed I became more convinced that the case of the purloined bacon should enter the annals along with The Easter Bunny, the Unicorn and a few pre-election promises.  I knew that there wasn’t a great tradition of steling foodstuffs in the Lacken/Ballinastockan area; the last recorded theft of that nature was pertaining to an incident, during the Civil War, on 15th September 1922. Edward Grace, a Merchant, from Ballymore Eustace had some loaves stolen from two of his vans in Ballyknockan and Lacken on that day.

Despite being the victim of the dirtiest trick ever played on me, being spoken to like an imbecile, humiliated, embarrassed and treated like a criminal I refused to confess to two fictitious crimes. (It’s at times like this the words of Ethel Rosenberg spring to mind; “I am innocent……to forsake this truth is to pay too high a price”). The Sergeant, looking less than prepossessing and more than his thirty-seven years, gave the OK to have me locked in a cell. Maurice O ‘Sullivan, ex-Mental Nurse (known as a “keeper” at the time), from Slaheny, Co. Kerry, was very concise.  Not living up to his family’s nickname of “The Long Maurices” he drew himself up to his full five-foot nine and a half inches, pretended to read from a manilla folder  and told me  : “I have enough evidence here to charge you”.  Perhaps his past was the reason for the brevity;

For he to whom a watcher’s doom

Is given as his task

Must set a lock upon his lips

Etc.

Did the experience in his previous life prompt him to believe that I was the sort, so much in awe of authority, who would confess to anything? Although it was fifteen years since he surrendered his badge in Saint Fenan’s  Hospital, Killarney, the “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest Syndrome” obtained; He still thought that he could do what he liked? (“…for in a madhouse there exists no law”).

I thought of William Blackstone who said; ” It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer”. I soon reminded myself that Mr. Blackstone didn’t spend four years working in a Kerry asylum.)

When I was told,  “You’ll get out when you tell us the truth” I took on board my neighbour’s opinion of the speaker. And the farmer’s boots and sly smile I saw as further evidence that Tighe was not a member of Mensa, would not appreciate Tennyson, and so I thought it would be futile to quote;

 

This truth within thy mind rehearse,

That in a boundless universe

Is boundless better, boundless worse.

My father always said that I would “hear the grass growing” and now I became acutely aware of my better –than- average auricular ability. Sound- proofing had not been a consideration in the design of the cell-door and I could hear every word spoken in the day-room. Industrial-relations matters, within the Gardaí, were touched on lightly before a turn in the conversation that was very interesting and informative; but that is a story for another day. Suffice, for now, to say that there was paraphrasing of the words of Thomas Jefferson; “ We have the wolf by the ears and we can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale and self-preservation on the other”

I knocked on the cell door. It immediately opened and framed Nash, who I felt was of the opinion that I needed taking down a peg. I studied his face. Why? Because Jim Blake who worked for Paddy Crotty had told me, “That Nash fella has square eyes.” He didn’t. While his optical hemispheres displayed the shiftiness of the insecure they were of regular shape.

He insisted on pretending that I was a suspect and closed the door.

When next I knocked on the cell-door it was opened by Tighe who told me, (why I don’t know) “The sergeant is gone out on another big job”. This was followed by, “Yer father says he doesn’t know what to tink. Will I go out for yer father?” When I once again protested my innocence this, ignorant, lazy, gobshite, who wouldn’t ever stand if he could sit, said, “We know certain tings Matt”. He didn’t specify what the “ things” with the silent “h” wre.)  He closed the door slowly . . . like he did everything else.

When again I knocked with a hope of being released Browne uncovered the spyhole. His eye, viewed through the small rectangle of light, didn’t look friendly.

I was sitting on a wooden bench with some sort of a “tic” on it. Hey! . . . Didn’t  I read on the Leinster Leader about a Ballinastockan man being fined ten pounds for pissing on a mattress in the cell of Blessington Garda station? (Of course it wasn’t worded so in the “Leader”.)

“Are you going to tell us about this fire?”. Guard Browne enquired. Now secure in the knowledge that they knew I wasn’t guilty of anything I didn’t protest my innocence. I simply asked; “Are you going to let me out?”

Browne didn’t reply. He opened the cell door and allowed me into the day room. As he lit a Goldflake butt with a paper spill from the open fire he again accused me of arson. As I looked at his well-worn shoes and archaic wristwatch I thought of his economy-consciousness which his former Sergeant, Frank Reynolds,  had told me about. My comment about the coldness of the cell and my plea to be left in the Day-room fell on deaf, Kenmare, ears. As he dragged on the ignited butt I was sternly told to “get back in.”

I would compile a letter to the Minister for Justice. But that could wait. This was as good a time as any to make a start on a parody. The air of “ The Oul Alarm Clock” would do fine;

“I was told we’re going to charge you

With the burning of a rick,

By Nash and Tighe and Sullivan,

An’ Paddy Browne the prick.”

The cell door opened. Garda Willie Nash told me, “We’re lettin’ ye out but we’ll be takin’ ye in agin.”  He wasn’t a man of his word; I haven’t seen the inside of that cell since.

Mattie Lennon  mattielennon@gmail.com

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Mathias B. Freese Author – Sanitizing Wernher  von Braun & Reviews of work

Sanitizing Wernher  von Braun

I advocate that the Wernher von Braun Center be renamed. Perhaps call it the Goring Complex, since Braun and Goring were members of the Nazi party. Goring’s Luftwaffe rained down death over Europe and Braun launched over 9,521 Cruise-like missiles to England, beginning on 13 June 1944. Braun’s membership in the Nazi Party is dated 12 November 1937 and his membership number is 5,730,692. If you need to reference this, use Wikipedia for basic facts. Or, if you require a more substantial historical source, any major work on the rise of Nazism will suffice. The English historian Sir Ian Kershaw is a reputable scholar of note on the period.

As a child of the Fifties I dimly recall von Braun with his affable Mr. Rogers panache, Germans label it gemuttlichkeit, on the Dave Garroway show getting all worked up explaining his proposed space station. There is a photo at the time of Disney and Braun, both in good spirits, enthusiasts. Braun was irresistible; that as a rocket scientist he built his V1 andV2 rockets (V for vengeance in German) at a slave labor camp on the Baltic Sea, Peenenunde, is washed over. The great German artist Kiefer has called such things a “conspiracy of silence.” In Operation Paper Clip the American government brought over Nazi scientists (the operative word is Nazi) to advance our rocketry and compete against the Russkies. The Russians took a helping of Nazi scientists as well. All societies, one philosopher has written, are essentially corrupt.

When I ride past the Braun Center on my way to Huntsville and read the bold letters of the center, I feel much like any black person seeing the Confederate flag beating against a post. I feel debased, forgotten, caught in a web of indifference. We speak of Holocaust deniers, yet those of us who are thoughtful and honorable citizens cannot widen their perspective to see that the von Braun Center as named is one consequence of Holocaust denial. Good people desecrate other good people by honoring a Nazi. I will say it for you – it is an abomination.

Indifference and moral sloth sustain Wernher von Braun in the minds of the Huntsville community. I am sure his memory and “good deeds” are reminiscent of Il Duce who made the trains run on time. What he has done for the citizens, fame and fortune, keep him a cherished personage. He is our “good Nazi.” Pick up a brochure in the center and you will find his past expunged or grossly mitigated. We call this collusion. This is the classic – historic – stance of the herd, always has been.

Having read considerably about von Braun and his vicious Nazi brother, Magnus von Braun, a chemical engineer who died peacefully in Arizona, Wernher expressed remarkable obliviousness to the slave workers who he viewed with total indifference. For they were objects in his mind; he was a base opportunist. Making his way to our country with the help of our government, he merchandised his scientific wizardry in a such a way the community absorbed him as one of its own. I suppose you might say he was a good immigrant. Huntsville metabolized him.

When I arrived two years ago to Alabama and observed my first Passover at Temple B’Nai Sholom in Huntsville, I noticed a police car stationed at the front door. Curious, I asked a woman congregant about that. She answered with an ancient tribal shrug which telegraphed 56 centuries of recorded history and I knew what she meant. Given my history, I would have situated Jewish men about the temple. I have less fear as an American Jew –that is why we are here. I also subscribe to the wise adage that if you forget you are a Jew, the world will remind you of it.

And when Easter arrives this year will you have police cars in front of your churches just in case?

My uncle was in the Battle of the Bulge, a sergeant and meted out swift justice to the SS he came across in the last days of the war. Awarded the Bronze Star, he knew who he was. My family has served in WW11 and Korea. And as for the role of Jews in the South, Jews fought for the Confederacy and Jews were in the cabinet of Jefferson Davis. Judah P. Benjamin, a fascinating character, served as both Secretary of State and Secretary of War. Col. Myers, a Jew, was the Quartermaster General of the Confederacy. And at the Nazi march at Charlottesville, I would know who to side with, Mr. President.

The Wernher von Braun Center is offensive to all of us. A toxic reminder of a Nazi who mingled, associated and appreciated Nazism, Alabaman Jews find it repugnant, insufferable, as I do.

In all his books, Elie Wiesel cautions us against indifference as he finds it pernicious and allows such men as von Braun to avoid condemnation, for he is beyond redemption, thousands suffered and died so he could make his tinker toys. Recently I’ve been informed that on his gravesite there is a marker with a biblical quotation that von Braun favored. Yes, to the end, the ever evangelistic and purveyor of things over men and women, goes boldly where no man has ever gone before (Did he know that Shatner and Nimoy were Jews?).

This anecdote of the first English Jewish Prime Minister, Disraeli, might serve as a coda. In Parliament a representative from Ireland rained down anti-Semitic abuse upon Disraeli. Why? No real reason; anti-Semitism is like mold, always in the air. Nevertheless, Disraeli kept still and when the representative had his say, he replied.

“Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of Right Honorable Gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the Temple of Solomon.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF THE I TETRALOGY AND I …

Never begin a sentence with “well.” [a writer should break rules.]Well, writing, for me, was characterological. It was a consequence of a repressed and depressed childhood and adulthood. It was the spume of a discontented and directionless youth, of misspent energies and unclear goals. It was the product of an outer directed self. Aimless, un-fathered and un-mothered, I was benign neglect incarnate. There is much truth in the adage that we grow old too soon and smart too late.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

All of my books are not inspired; they are made from moving trends in my own personal reflections. When my thoughts founder upon a reef, I take the wreckage and begin to make order from disorder. A writer shapes experience. This book is a second memoir; the first was youth and young adulthood, lunacy, foolishness and recklessness; a land of mischief and misbehavior. The second memoir is more reflective, an older man’s thoughts, hopefully wiser, perhaps not; we are all fools until the day we die.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

In my memoir I carry on an imaginary conversation with Thoreau; however, he says nothing as I speak to him about the issues of my life. I keep Thoreau silent, for the questions I ask and the answers I get are solely of my own creation. The latent message of this literary conceit is awareness, or the awakening of intelligence, to cite Krishnamurti. Thoreau, as I see him, was consumed by the meaning of experience, of how to live an aware existence. In many ways he was a scold, hectoring us, berating us, pushing and shoving us into assessing what we are doing as human lives from moment to moment. I have been obsessed, if that is the word, with understanding who I am, and how to deal with existence since a young man. And so my affinity for Thoreau. This is an old man’s memoir filled with a young man’s ardor and exuberance.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I am free. [“I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”—Kazantzakis] I took an arrow from my quiver and it read memoir and I tried this genre free of whatever memoirs are supposed to be.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

All the characters in my stories and essays and novel and memoirs emanate from me., at the very least are projections of myself. The essential questions I ask are ones of meaning, intention and purpose in life. In the last essay of my memoir I ask all the questions I have ever asked of myself to an imaginary Thoreau. I would hope the reader attaches his kite to mine and sets flight.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I am not interested in my readership. I have deconditioned myself from that. I have no interest in twitter and all the rest. I try to get my books reviewed or seen without going nuts over it. I write for my pleasure, to divine who I am. I write for no one else. To write for others is a kind of emptiness, or outer-directedness. Who said I had to have readers? Who said I have to be read? What is it I want is all that matters. I sell a smattering of books and engage a few people in literary discussion such as this piece, but that is all. I march to a different drummer.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Advice is generally used or secondhand; use it sparingly. It must always be questioned. With that caveat, I’ll say the following. Constantly reference yourself; look up quaquaversal which appears in my memoir. It is the source from which other things emanate. Trust yourself. Techniques can be learned and schools can teach that; but since you are the last of your kind, and no one will be like you ever again, it’s best to discover all you can about yourself through mentors, philosophers, therapists and most importantly the awakening of intelligence. Continually decondition yourself of state, religion and authorities of any kind. When you are free, your writing will be a song.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I may have written my last book. I am not sure. I hear fragments in my mind that may turn out to be stories. To wit, “It is here. Oh my…Oh my….” Strikes me ominously. I’ll see. I have no future. I have the moment, so why waste time on a future tense.                                 

And Then I Am Gone: A Walk with Thoreau tells the Story of a New York City
man who becomes an Alabama man. Despite his radical migration to simpler

A Thought Provoking Journey of Self-Reflection, Author Anthony Avina

By Anthony Avina  

One of the most thought provoking memoirs in recent years challenges readers to examine not only the world around them but how they are living their lives in author Mathias B. Freese’s novel

And Then I Am Gone: A Walk With Thoreau. Here’s the full synopsis:   Freese wishes to share how and why he came to Harvest, Alabama (both literally and figuratively), to impart his existential impressions and concerns, and to leave his mark before he is gone.

This was one of the most unique and creative memoirs I’ve read in recent years. The story of the author’s journey in his later years in life allow us as readers to take the time to appreciate not only our own lives, but challenges us to think critically and take the time to find meaning in our lives. It does a marvelous job of using past life experiences, history, humor and classic pop culture reference  s to contemplate the current state of our world. From the rise of Donald Trump as the United States President and what it says about the mentality of the nation as a whole to the hours spent on subjects like religion and life views that end up dividing us when there’s no need for it, this book is a perfect read for anyone looking to find meaning and purpose.

Written almost like a diary entry or an actual conversation between the author and the philosopher Henry David Thoreau himself, this story exudes insight, psychology and honesty. It shows the power of hope in tumultuous times, while also showing the history of the world and the threat of being doomed to repeat it in our modern times. It’s as much a reflection on our society as it is on himself, and despite the title’s ominous overtones, this story is not one of loss and hopelessness but one of learning from our own pasts and finding the will to reflect on our lives and come to terms with it. It’s a story of love, loss and life itself, and deserves to be read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copies of And Then I Am Gone: A Walk With Thoreau by Mathias B. Freese tod

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Book Review: And Then I Am Gone-A Walk with Thoreau by Mathias B Freese

Posted by bookishjen in And Then I Am Gone, Baby Boomers, Book Reviews, Books, Culture, Faith, Family, Henry David Thoreau, Inspiration, Love, Marriage, Mathias B Freese, Memoirs, Mental Illness, New York city, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, Politics, Self-Help, Uncategorized, Walden Pond, Writing and-then-i-am-gone-book-cover-200×300

There is one thing people realize once they come to their “twilight” years. They have more of a past than a future. This is a time when they often take stock of their lives – good, the bad and the ugly. Writer, teacher and psychotherapist Mathias B. Freese is one these people, and now he shares his journey in his thoughtful memoir And Then I Am Gone: A Walk with Thoreau.

Thoreau, of course is Henry David Thoreau author of the classic Walden Pond, which many of us probably read back in high school. For Freese, Thoreau is a muse who guides him during his journey of self-examination. Ultimately Freese is asking himself, not the cliché “What is the meaning of life?” but “What is the meaning of my life.”

And Then I Am Gone is divided into two parts. Part one sets up the tone for the book and provides several chapters focusing on moving to Alabama, finding happiness with Nina, a past love affair, his relationship with his children and his own childhood, his thoughts on Trump, writer Norman Mailer, the movie Citizen Kane, and Thoreau as therapy. Part two focuses on Freese’s new life in a new home, his journey with Thoreau and coming to grips with his own mortality.

Born and bred in New York City, Freese is a secular Jewish man now living in Alabama with his southern belle, Nina, an Irish-American Roman Catholic. Not surprisingly, Freese finds country life below the Mason-Dixon line a complete cultural shock and often has difficulty navigating a world so different from the hustle and bustle of city life. However, it does force him to come to grips with his past. Freese has had success with his professional life, but his personal life was often in shambles. Childhood was difficult with a mother suffering with mental illness. Freese has been married and divorced a few times, and is also estranged from his daughter but is closer to his son Jordan.

Okay, Thoreau. Just what is life all about, hmm? Freese wants to know, You wrote a damn book about it. Surely you’ve got the goods. Now pony up!

Freese has questions and Thoreau provides answers, which often leads to Freese having more questions. Needless, say this can be quite maddening, which often leaves Freese feeling downright pessimistic.

But as I kept reading And Then I Am Gone, I thought to myself. Well, maybe we’re not always meant to have all the answers to our questions after we ask them, whether we ask Thoreau, our best friend, a therapist, our horoscope or a stranger on the street. At times those answers will leave us not exactly happy or more confused than before. Or sometimes we will find clear, concise advice or wise counsel in a time of confusion (especially in one of the most messed times in our nation’s history).

I found Freese’s book to be a true inspiration as I go through my own journey of self-exploration and after year of great difficulty, self-care. There are times I look for answers and feel nothing but despair and at times I feel true joy. We’re not supposed to solve the mysteries life and just accept things are going to be murky. At times we live life to the fullest and at times we are slackers on the couch. we should just live our lives the best we can before we are shuttled off this mortal coil.

I also appreciated Freese’s vivid style of writing. He can be a curmudgeon but he’s also wise, funny, a true storyteller. And Then I Am Gone is a treasure of a book.

Now if only I had kept that copy of Walden’s Pond….

Review by Udita Banerjee
BOOK TOUR REVIEW by A.E ALBERT
40/150 “Sunflowers” Sarah Rishel
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Mattie Lennon Irish Author – BREAD AN’ MATE..

BREAD AN’ MATE..

  By Mattie Lennon

It has been said that the first duty of a gentleman is to keep out of the hands of the police. Up to the time of writing I have carried out my gentlemanly duties, in that respect, every day of my life, with one exception. That was Tuesday 04th November 1969 when I was the victim of a wrongful arrest.

At 11:15 A.M. and I was feeding our one and only bonham. A car bearing the roof-sign of our National Guardians of the Peace stopped at the gate of our humble abode at Kylebeg. It was driven by a 38 year old farmer’s son, Paddy Browne, from Kenmare. He shared a surname with the one-time Earls of Kenmare but a Protestant farmer who had rented a house to him had once told me that there wasn’t much evidence of any nobility connection. The observer was a 44-year-old son-of-the-soil from Kilmorgan, Co. Sligo. His Name was Bill Tighe. (Up to that moment I had little dealings with either officer apart from meeting them during Census-taking. I knew that they referred to me as “the Poet”, which was understandable since I was in the habit of linking, even the most grim situation to a poetic allusion.) Despite their agricultural background they had no compunction about taking me away from my pig-feeding, when they asked me to accompany them to Blessington Station.

If my neighbours hadn’t known me as well as they did no doubt the would have been;” Wondering if the man had done a great or little thing”.

Didn’t the poet say;

To every Irishman on earth,

Arrest comes soon or late.

While Browne reversed the Squad-car down our narrow lane Tighe revealed to me that I had stolen an unspecified quantity of ham on Friday 24th October. Although I was no Phrenologist, looking at his profile from the back seat I recalled a comment made by one of my neighbours.  Whatever about the grammatical correctness of the observation I was now tempted to accede to its accuracy; he had once described Tighe as being;  “ as thick as the butt end of a horse’s bollocks that never saw anything only shite.”  And, at that moment, I became a bit more tolerant of those who drew the cartoons of the Irish in the 19th century Punch magazine.

Once in the station another Garda had something to say. This 31 year old was Willie Nash, from Gurtnacrehy, Co. Limerick. (You may not have heard of Gurtnacrehy; the only time the word crops up is in the names of Greyhounds.)  Nash was so well turned out that he was like a male mannequin compared to his more bucolic colleagues.  When he first came to Blessington in January 1962 he was a useful man on the football field and sported a crew-cut. Now he was opting for a (slightly belated) Beatle look. He imparted the additional information that I had maliciously burned a rick of hay, the property of Dan Cullen, on Saturday 27th September. I didn’t share the view of the local farmer who, at the time, said, “There was only one mistake; that he wasn’t in it when they lit it.”

Nash’s body language (as he replaced a nail-file in his tunic pocket, having checked his reflection in the window ) proclaimed his lack of self-esteem and the fact that he was well aware of my innocence. His rhetorical question: “Would it surprise you to know that you were seen lighting it?” was slightly off the mark (not to mention off the wall).

I knew, through my own sources, that a quantity of ham had been reported stolen in Ballinastockan. (I wasn’t told if it was a quarter or a half pound) but I doubted the authenticity of the crime. As the interrogation progressed I became more convinced that the case of the purloined bacon should enter the annals along with The Easter Bunny, the Unicorn and a few pre-election promises.  I knew that there wasn’t a great tradition of steling foodstuffs in the Lacken/Ballinastockan area; the last recorded theft of that nature was pertaining to an incident, during the Civil War, on 15th September 1922. Edward Grace, a Merchant, from Ballymore Eustace had some loaves stolen from two of his vans in Ballyknockan and Lacken on that day.

Despite being the victim of the dirtiest trick ever played on me, being spoken to like an imbecile, humiliated, embarrassed and treated like a criminal I refused to confess to two fictitious crimes. (It’s at times like this the words of Ethel Rosenberg spring to mind; “I am innocent……to forsake this truth is to pay too high a price”). The Sergeant, looking less than prepossessing and more than his thirty-seven years, gave the OK to have me locked in a cell. Maurice O ‘Sullivan, ex-Mental Nurse (known as a “keeper” at the time), from Slaheny, Co. Kerry, was very concise.  Not living up to his family’s nickname of “The Long Maurices” he drew himself up to his full five-foot nine and a half inches, pretended to read from a manilla folder  and told me  : “I have enough evidence here to charge you”.  Perhaps his past was the reason for the brevity;

For he to whom a watcher’s doom

Is given as his task

Must set a lock upon his lips

Etc.

Did the experience in his previous life prompt him to believe that I was the sort, so much in awe of authority, who would confess to anything? Although it was fifteen years since he surrendered his badge in Saint Fenan’s  Hospital, Killarney, the “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest Syndrome” obtained; He still thought that he could do what he liked? (“…for in a madhouse there exists no law”).

I thought of William Blackstone who said; ” It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer”. I soon reminded myself that Mr. Blackstone didn’t spend four years working in a Kerry asylum.)

When I was told,  “You’ll get out when you tell us the truth” I took on board my neighbour’s opinion of the speaker. And the farmer’s boots and sly smile I saw as further evidence that Tighe was not a member of Mensa, would not appreciate Tennyson, and so I thought it would be futile to quote;

 

This truth within thy mind rehearse,

That in a boundless universe

Is boundless better, boundless worse.

My father always said that I would “hear the grass growing” and now I became acutely aware of my better –than- average auricular ability. Sound- proofing had not been a consideration in the design of the cell-door and I could hear every word spoken in the day-room. Industrial-relations matters, within the Gardaí, were touched on lightly before a turn in the conversation that was very interesting and informative; but that is a story for another day. Suffice, for now, to say that there was paraphrasing of the words of Thomas Jefferson; “ We have the wolf by the ears and we can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale and self-preservation on the other”

I knocked on the cell door. It immediately opened and framed Nash, who I felt was of the opinion that I needed taking down a peg. I studied his face. Why? Because Jim Blake who worked for Paddy Crotty had told me, “That Nash fella has square eyes.” He didn’t. While his optical hemispheres displayed the shiftiness of the insecure they were of regular shape.

He insisted on pretending that I was a suspect and closed the door.

When next I knocked on the cell-door it was opened by Tighe who told me, (why I don’t know) “The sergeant is gone out on another big job”. This was followed by, “Yer father says he doesn’t know what to tink. Will I go out for yer father?” When I once again protested my innocence this, ignorant, lazy, gobshite, who wouldn’t ever stand if he could sit, said, “We know certain tings Matt”. He didn’t specify what the “ things” with the silent “h” wre.)  He closed the door slowly . . . like he did everything else.

When again I knocked with a hope of being released Browne uncovered the spyhole. His eye, viewed through the small rectangle of light, didn’t look friendly.

I was sitting on a wooden bench with some sort of a “tic” on it. Hey! . . . Didn’t  I read on the Leinster Leader about a Ballinastockan man being fined ten pounds for pissing on a mattress in the cell of Blessington Garda station? (Of course it wasn’t worded so in the “Leader”.)

“Are you going to tell us about this fire?”. Guard Browne enquired. Now secure in the knowledge that they knew I wasn’t guilty of anything I didn’t protest my innocence. I simply asked; “Are you going to let me out?”

Browne didn’t reply. He opened the cell door and allowed me into the day room. As he lit a Goldflake butt with a paper spill from the open fire he again accused me of arson. As I looked at his well-worn shoes and archaic wristwatch I thought of his economy-consciousness which his former Sergeant, Frank Reynolds,  had told me about. My comment about the coldness of the cell and my plea to be left in the Day-room fell on deaf, Kenmare, ears. As he dragged on the ignited butt I was sternly told to “get back in.”

I would compile a letter to the Minister for Justice. But that could wait. This was as good a time as any to make a start on a parody. The air of “ The Oul Alarm Clock” would do fine;

“I was told we’re going to charge you

With the burning of a rick,

By Nash and Tighe and Sullivan,

An’ Paddy Browne the prick.”

 

The cell door opened. Garda Willie Nash told me, “We’re lettin’ ye out but we’ll be takin’ ye in agin.”  He wasn’t a man of his word; I haven’t seen the inside of that cell since.

Mattie Lennon  mattielennon@gmail.com

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author – SENSLESS CENSORS

SENSLESS CENSORS.

By  Mattie Lennon

Flann O Brien had a burning ambition to have at least one of his books banned. When he invented the character Fr Kurt Fahrt he said, “  The name will cause holy bloody ructions. It will lead to wirepulling behind the scenes here to have the book banned as obscene.”           But the book wasn’t banned, which brings me to sensors.

It has been said that every editor should have a brother who is a pimp. To give him (the editor that is) somebody to look up to.  Should every censor have a similar sibling?

There is a World Day Against Cyber censorship. It is celebrated every year on the twelfth of  March. (Next Tuesday.)  Should there be a world Day against the other sort of censors?     My namesake,  the critic Michael Lennon wrote that Ulysses was,” . Not so much pornographic as physically unclean……” I am not in a position to agree with or contradict him. Because despite numerous attempts over the years I have not yet got to Molly Bloom’s “Yes I said yes I will yes.”   Of course contrary to popular belief  Ulysses wasn’t ever officially banned in Ireland   so  ninety-seven years after its publication I can’t blame the censor for my lack of erudition in that area.

However, though I am reluctant to use the word “victim”,   for more than three score years I have

been a soft touch for “censors” of various hues.  Although in most cases I took Sam Goldwyn’s advice to, “Don’t even ignore them.”

As a bus inspector I once submitted a report on a complaint from an irate passenger.  I had transcribed, verbatim, his objection which included many expletives, known in polite society as “the vernacular of the soldier.”  My Divisional Manager asked me to change the wording,   explaining, “I can’t ask the girls to type that. “

As   fifteen year old,  due to strict parental supervision, I was obliged to devour the exploits of The Ginger Man,  Sebastian Balfe Dangerfield , and his fantasies about Miss Frost,   in the semi-darkness of the cow-house in remote  west Wicklow.  While “the shelves of Patrick Kavanagh’s library” were the hedges of his small farm at Shankaduff my book collection  was kept on   the wall-plates of a thatched byre  which lacked diurnal illumination  By the time I got my hands on “Goodbye to the Hill” a neighbour had moved out, his cottage was empty and I could savour the carryings on of Paddy Maguire around Ranelagh and Rathmines  in relative comfort.

A wise man once said that if you want something to last for ever you should either carve it in stone or write a song about it. Although I grew up within spitting distance of Ballyknockan granite quarries I am no stone-cutter.  But I did on  occasions make a feeble effort to record local happening in ill metred verse. Court cases were threatened more than once  but , sadly,didn’t materialise . And before you ask .  . . I haven’t ever been prosecuted under the Obscene Publications act.

My verbosity didn’t escape censure either. My olfactory organ, you will have noticed,  has a Grecian bend. And what, you may well ask ,has that got to do with censors?  I didn’t acquire my nasal fracture through walking into a wall, falling down, or being hit accidently. No. It happened in Blessington  fifty-five  years ago when a civic-minded man, head-butted me on the grounds that I had been using un- parliamentary language in the company of females. The ultimate in censorship I think you will agree.

When my one-act Play,  “A Wolf by the Ears” was staged by an amateur drama group in Kildare the producer removed just one line. “In case there would be somebody sinsitive in the hall “, he said.

I have no way of knowing when I will be finished with censors but I know when it started. I was eight years old and it was 1954. The year that Sean O Faolain was commenting on the powers that were and their criticism of crossroad, dancing,  V-necks, silk stockings and late dances.  To this list of debauchery was added mixed bathing and advertisements for female underwear. And either close dancing or bikinis was a passport to Hell.  One Sunday my  mother arrived home from first Mass with news. The curate, in a stentorian voice only a few decibels below that of a Redemptorist  Missioner had warned the congregation against “turning over the pages of the rags of Fleet Street.”   Despite her less than perfect eyesight  my poor mother managed the decipher the small print on the back pages of my Beano and Dandy which showed that they were printed  at D. C. Thompson’s outpost in Fleet Street. Dennis the Menace and The Bash Street Kids weren’t actually banned from the house but my father reckoned it was “the thin end of the wedge.” 

My parents were unanimous in their belief that the relatively young Curate was well qualified to set the moral compass for the youth of west Wicklow. And why wouldn’t he; wasn’t his father a Guard in Bray?

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author -BLESSINGTON IS TWINNED WITH O’NEILL CITY

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author- JOHN MORIARTY.

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