The Blood of Christ



by Cantinker Moss



For years I have wanted to go to the Rocky Mountains. It’s not that I have never seen mountains…I have seen great mountains on the coast of southeast Alaska. I also spent time in Boulder, Colorado, which was the first time I ever saw such majestic mountains. I was on my way to sea duty in the U.S. Coast Guard and was scheduled to fly to Juneau, and then Sitka, Alaska where my ship was docked.

When I viewed these mountains, it was at night; and from Boulder, the faint moonglow gave them a very surreal look…almost like, “I know you’re there, but then, I’m not sure.” Later, I learned these particular rock formations were known as the Flatirons, and they did not occupy a lot of the natural real estate outside of Boulder. They were the beginning of the Front Range; the foothills so to speak, and I felt pretty blessed to be there.

But I am here to talk about another range of mountains. I have not seen it in person. Yet I have had no lack of blessing, thanks to the miracle of the PC and the internet. A website that I have enjoyed over the years has been http://www.sangres.com. It has a second title, “For Your Daily Dose of the Wonders of the West.” This website shows the beauty of the Rockies, state by state, and it was here that I discovered the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This comes from the words Sangre (“blood”) and Cristo (“Christ”.) When you put the Spanish preposition between the two words, you have Sangre de Cristo, not to mention that this is a proper name and a geographical name, which puts it in its rightful form and place on maps of New Mexico. (In the western U.S. there are dozens of place names that trace their name origins to Spanish; e.g. Colorado and Los Angeles.) And no wonder; the Spanish were the first European settlers here.

But why does this mountain range have the privilege of an association with Jesus Christ? I’m sure that those first off the boat with the flag of Spain decided that this land was theirs for the taking (no matter if anyone was there before them) So “if the land was theirs,” Then it would follow that they could create the maps and the local place names in their language too. But what of the place name of this mountain range? Those who first came to this area from Europe noted that the hue of the mountains themselves would change depending on the time of day…particularly morning and evening…sunrise and sunset. It was as if the mountains themselves were turning red in color. And what those religious Spaniards saw was red…the color of blood…the blood of Christ.



The Blood of Christ



I don’t want the things

My heart thinks I desire.

But I want to see the fire

Reflected on the higher

Country,

Like the rising crescendo of a choir

Glowing from the fountains

That are the mountains:

The

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

To the north;

That far-flung range

From God’s lone domain.

Oh, what God gave us!


Oh, what God gave us

When God gave us the Heavens and the Earth!



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From An American Poet: What Really Matters Is What Happens At Home

by Cantinker Moss

 

Originally penned in 1999, this poem has more to do with what happens off the diamond.  Though inspired by the Baseball Playoffs,  (Go Sox!)  it is intended to be a metaphor for something more universal.

 

Casey was at the bat,

And he didn’t strike out.

 

Now let me tell you something about baseball

And the ones who play the game.

 

There is the pitcher:

Tall, rangy, poised.

The franchise.

The golden boy.

He steps out of the dugout

And walks to the mound.

His is the arm that launched the season.

His is the arm we talk about all winter.

Movement, speed, location,

Heat, curve, change.

You wonder and adore.

He is the king of the hill.

 

He throws the ball.

But what if it is hit?

 

There is the infielder.

Perpetual motion.

Lateral motion.

First base, second, short, the hot corner.

‘Round the horn.

His glove is his partner.

A weapon.

A secret solution.

The enemy of the bat.

The siren call of every hit ball.

“Come to me…come to me…”

And then like a cat,

Six, four, three,

And that’s that!

Two outs, as a matter of fact.

 

He fields the ball.

But what if it goes through?

 

There is the outfielder.

(No, actually there are three of them.)

Maybe that’s why young boys want to be one.

Because they need so many of them.

So many of them.

So many names.

Names that you and I remember:

Joltin’ Joe and the Mick,

Yaz and the Kid,

Tris and Say Hey,

Hammerin’ Hank and the Babe.

But logically speaking,

And due-respect keeping,

If the pitcher did his job,

And the infielder his,

Would there ever need to be

An outfielder or three?

 

He catches the ball.

But what if it falls?

 

And then there is the catcher:

The player behind the plate.

They say he sees the whole game,

Probably the first to know its fate.

His ears hear the umpire’s “Ball!” and “Strike!”

But he alone may know whether they were right.

And slammed foul balls to the mask.

And foul balls run out to the back!

His body twisted backward on the dugout rail,

Or headfirst into the bat rack.

Those passed balls that just might have been wild pitches.

And yes, he feels the pitcher’s pain!

But the pitcher never comes to him.

But he goes out again and again and again.

And his knees are shot,

But he still “runs ’em out.”

And catchers become managers,

And some other players, millionaires no doubt.

 

But let me tell you something,

And may humankind know it well,

From the catcher’s mitt to the family hearth

Know this:

As far as we are all concerned,

What really matters

Is what happens at home.

 

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From an American Poet: The Woman In the Womb

by Cantinker Moss

” A Nation that kills its own children has no future.”

Pope John Paul II

It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.”  Likewise, as I thankfully had not been the aborted, so far as reason leads me, I would not be the one who performs, condones, requests, legislates in favor of, or undergoes an abortion.  We both speak of democracy more than we think.

This post is not an easy one.  No doubt, I may be misunderstood.  Roe v. Wade introduced a complex if not controversial situation.  On one hand not all pregnancies occur under the same circumstances…no “one size fits all.”  There are rapes.  There is incest.  All demanding careful consideration and not the rapid, indifferent judgment of the mother by her peers.  Once the “baby bump” appears, so does a scarlet letter of sorts, unless the pregnancy was “cleared” as legitimate;  i.e. a visible couple in many cases with shared vows and wedding bands.

Abortion in its most fundamental examination and possible application (not all mothers who think about abortion, have abortions) is actually a horror.  Plain and simple…no matter how you rationalize it, a human with life is there and then gone:  the life snuffed out.  But we are not just talking about any creature…pig or platypus…we are dealing with human DNA, at least according to science.  And I know that many in science determine life according to certain time factors, but still far too many lives…legitimately classified as “living” are terminated.  Just ask Dr. Gosnell.

But in the following poem, something sinister is suggested.  Not because women set out to be “monsters,”  but that in our present society the real ethics have not been examined enough.  As I listened to the recent Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, I was surprised to hear one senator refer to “abortion on demand” as a code word.  Since when couldn’t “abortion on demand” refer to just that, abortion when you want it.  And what is unreasonable about a minor needing parental consent to get an abortion.  I mean, yes, there are irresponsible , even abusive parents who have questionable authority in their children’s lives.  But what of the truly loving, caring parents who are genuinely concerned about the future of their children?  And I don’t mean parents who count it as caring for their children to attend Harvard.  In fact some of these mothers may indeed have gone through the guilt and regret of having abortions themselves, and they do not wish their daughters to go through similar experiences.  But mostly I couldn’t help but notice so much emphasis on the victimized mother…and I am by no means saying that great forces beyond an individual’s control do not turn the abortion debate into something of a “game of Pong.”  But could someone have at least mentioned what was inside her womb?

That is what this poem attempts to do.

A ghastly sight is she.

A sisterhood of blood they must be.

(Yes, even the unborn bleeds.)

And she suffocates in salt

And moves in pain:

The woman in the womb.  

She will be no lady of the house

Or princess arrived to the ball.

She will never govern or influence

The affairs of men

Or mankind at all:

The woman in the womb.

No glass ceiling will she ever approach,

Let alone crack or break it when

Judges of this generation pass sentence

And a Slaughter of the Innocents

Comes to pass

Because of women

Who carry

These women

In their wombs.

Sisters, mothers, girls and 

Aged matrons who demand

Their legal pound of flesh.

Rock stars, movie stars, and Nasty Women

Who shout, “It is the law!…It is the law!”

“And those of us who uphold this law

Think perhaps it is a better death

Than back alley and coat hanger surgery.”

So we each come to decisions:

Moral decisions,

Economic decisions,

“My future at stake!” decisions, (spoken and unspoken)

Inconvenient decisions,

Demographic decisions,

Some even say legislative decisions,

But nevertheless, life and death decisions.

While womankind is shrinking,

Until a generation is missing.

And future generations ponder

What of a people who in war, crime and peace

Killed their own?

Oh…you…defenseless one!

Without even one weapon!

To fight for your life

Against the stranger and the machine

That sucks out every limb and organ.

Oh…humanity!!

Is there anyone who has a heart,

Or even simple, thoughtful, kind regard?

But so… at the inn there was no room.

And the sound of laughter might come to ruin.

And life goes on from midnight to noon.

And babies are still nursed in hospital rooms.

And fathers take to heart either glow or gloom,

But make damn sure there is food in their spoons.

Whether in poverty or in wealth…from one parent or two…

Care for all life

(Not the least…care for this mother with child!)

Must always continue.

Because the woman with child or not,

At one time

Was

A woman in the womb.

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From an American poet: The Man In the Seat By the Rear Tire

by Cantinker Moss

 

On a bus.

Oh…too much of a bus

And somewhere near Mobile, in old Alabam…

Yeah, I guess it was.

This man.

This old drunk man

(Too much of an old drunk man)

In too much of this bus.

Well,

He drank

And stank

And thanked himself for all

He had a hankerin’ for.

But he did kill someone:

Someone from New Orleans,

Not the forgiving kind…

Who left all forty burns on his forearm

As if to pay the tab.

Oh God!

Oh God, dontcha see this man drinks too much?

Said this man.

But by the time it was over,

He was slumped over dead

In the seat by the rear tire.

The authorities arrived;

Everyone perspired;

Not sure what was even required.

And he,

Eyes wide:

A last retiring

Glance of glory.

And no one

Even

Applauded.

 

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From an American poet: Big Red

by Cantinker Moss

Around this time each year, I begin to get excited about horse racing…thoroughbred horse racing.  In fact, a few weeks ago my wife and I headed down to central Kentucky and checked out the horse country around Lexington.  The sweeping vistas of grass, known scientifically as anything from Poa trivalis (rough bluegrass) to Poa pratensis L. (Kentucky bluegrass), and the white fences of Calumet Farm near Keeneland animated a kind of idyllic impressionism found on calendars and postcards.

If you look at the history of thoroughbred horse racing, you find many names that stir the emotions, particularly those who have won any race of the Triple Crown.  These include the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.  Even more so are the names of the horses who have won all three races of the Triple Crown.  This includes perhaps ten or twelve in the over one hundred years of American competition.  One of the greatest of all racehorses is Man O’ War, who oddly did not win a Triple Crown, but was still the equine great of the golden age of sports in the 1920’s.  He won twenty of twenty-one races, and one by one hundred lengths.  It has been said that no other horse had a stride equal to his: twenty-eight to thirty feet.  Possibly equal to Man O’ War is Secretariat, winner of the Triple Crown in 1973.  In the troubled times of Watergate and Vietnam, Secretariat was a horse to gladly behold.  He won all his Triple Crown races decidedly; the final one at Belmont Park, New York, by thirty lengths.  And though the margin for victory for Man O’ War was higher, his was a match race (two horses) and that against an inferior challenger.  Secretariat raced against the greatest horses of his day, and under the greatest pressure and scrutiny.  Though purists may disagree, in my opinion, they both were the greatest in history.  They were also both known as “Big Red.”

Almost twenty years ago I wrote the following poem under a different name, close to the thirtieth anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown triumph.  (Actually, I wrote it as a song, in the American folk tradition, and I would sing it accompanied by my five-string banjo, and my wife on guitar.)  In approximately two weeks, the Triple Crown season will begin with the Kentucky Derby:  a glorious celebration with hot brown, mint juleps, and ladies with beautiful big hats.  I have a good feeling about whom I would pick to win the Derby, though I have never bet on the race and probably won’t this time.  But this time of year has a way of reminding me of the greatest racehorse of my generation.  It is little wonder that they call it the “Sport of Kings.”

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Big Red

by Cantinker Moss

When you’re down ’round Bourbon County in that old Kentucky home

Where the fence posts frame the big sun as it sets,

There’s a big colt in the pasture up the road on to the west—

Faster than the rest—ol’ Big Red!

Chorus

Big Red, Big Red, Virginia-born and bred,

Running on ahead!—ol’ Big Red.

Big Red, Big Red, that is what they said:

Running on ahead!—ol’ Big Red.

Well, they talk of all the legends in this bluegrass land of lore:

Tenbrooks, Molly, and that Sea Biscuit.

And they raise ’em, and they train ’em so the folks will come and bet,

But seems they just admire that Big Red.

Chorus

And he traveled up to Louisville, the roses for to run,

In Baltimore, the doubts were laid to rest.

When Sham made his challenge near the sidewalks of New York

By thirty lengths he beat “em—ol’ Big Red.

Chorus

He was buried one October before the falling snow,

Though his big-hearted story isn’t dead.

And the papers wrote the praises of a Secretariat,

But we all knew him as ol’ Big Red!

Chorus

From an American poet: Here (Walking With the Master in the Isles of Alexander)

Featured

by Cantinker Moss

 

On a summer’s day

In the Midwest,

I thought

Or dreamed:

 

Side by side we walked

In the Isles of Alexander.

And I said, “What about this?”

And He said,

“My hand carved the sides of the hill called Saint Elias.

The breath of My nostrils made the course of the Yukon.

My voice charged the sun beyond the Near Islands.

And I watch over them now.”

 

Side by side we walked

In the Isles of Alexander.

And I said, “What about these?”

And He said,

“I smile at the birth of the blacktail in the forest.

I shout with the raven, and I sing with the eagle.

I hold in my hands the spruce and the hemlock.

And I watch over them now.”

 

Side by side we walked

In the Isles of Alexander.

And I said, “What about them?”

And He said,

“I made the stars to guide the Tlingit and Inupiat.

I cautioned Pastor Duncan by the shores of Metlakatla.

My face turned grim at the soldier and the shaman. 

My heart hears the cries on Northern Lights Boulevard.”

 

“But son,

Make no mistake:

I told your poet,

‘They also serve, who stand and wait.’*

Serve me wherever

Or whatever date.

And remember, I am yours, and you are Mine

Here.”

 

*John Milton (1608-1674):   They also serve who only stand and wait (1655)

 

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From an American poet: Cat

 

by Cantinker Moss

 

Inspired by Robert Burns: To a Mouse and To a Louse

 

 

Oh little cat

Sitting on my lady’s hat

Can you see well

From where you’re at?

Oh little cat

Itty bitty ditty thing

So witty of a thing

A mime performing.

Oh little cat

These things, which you can see

May not particularly please

You—but if you speak?

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