Thursday, April 21, 2016

Kevin Patrick Hodgkiss writes

Somewhere Between Venus and Mars
There's this place
Among the stars
Somewhere between Venus and Mars
Covered in clouds
Sprinkled with cars
Crosses and smokestacks
Mountains and bars
Spins on it’s own
Keeping everything down
Like a plate on a stick
Around and around
Just a blue and green ball
Suspended in time
Always turning
Eternity burning
Around and around and around.
There’s this place
Have you seen us?
Somewhere between
Mars and Venus
Out on it’s own
Acting so bold
Sometimes it’s hot
And sometimes it’s cold
Just a blue and green ball
Barreling along
While I’m singing this song
Along and along and along.
It’s got fire
And ice
And on occasion
S’got rain
Oceans and teardrops
Cause sometimes there’s pain.
Flowers and earthquakes
Rainbows and trees
Big rocks and snowflakes
Monkeys and disease
Tombstones and beaches
And dogs that got fleas
And to make them all happy
It’s got birds and got bees.
A wondrous place
Among the stars
Not really close
But not really far.
I’m waving to you
Wherever you are
Like a lightning bug
In a pickle jar.
Somewhere between
Venus and Mars. 
For John Prine  


  1. Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 in at least 193 countries to demonstrate support for environmental protection. This year will be a special one, since it will be the day the Paris Agreement on climate protection is signed, adopted by consensus by all 195 nations attending the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. In 1968, Morton Hilbert and the US Public Health Service organized the Human Ecology Symposium, an environmental conference on the effects of environmental degradation on human healthl then, for the next two years, he worked with student activists planning what became the the first Earth Day. In 1969, at the UNESCO Conference on the Environment in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell called for a global holiday to be held on the equinox every year to promote peace and environmentalism; as a result, San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto issued an Earth Day proclamation on March 21, 1970. The next year, UN Secretary-General U Thant issued a proclamation written by McConnell: "May there be only peaceful and cheerful Earth Days to come for our beautiful Spaceship Earth as it continues to spin and circle in frigid space with its warm and fragile cargo of animate life." The United Nations Earth Day ceremony has continued every since, organized by the Earth Society Foundation. It coincides with the International Day of Peace. Senator Gaylord Nelson held an environmental teach-in on April 22, 1970, marking the first celebration of Earth Day, with participants at 2,000 American colleges and universities, 10,000 primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities. He chose the date to maximize participation on college campuses, since the week did not fall during exams or spring break, it was late enough in the spring to expect decent weather, and it did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover. (However, it also happened to be the centenary of V. I. Lenin's birth, which the USSR declared a national holiday in 1955, to be honored as a "subbotnik" -- days instituted by Lenin in 1920 on which people would have to do community service, which typically consisted in removing rubbish from public property and collecting recyclable material; "Time" magazine reported that a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution called it a "subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them.") Though Nelson continued to call it the National Environment Teach-In, his national coordinator, Denis Hayes, used the term "Earth Day" in his communications and press coverage of the event. Hayes went on to organize Earth Day 1990, while Edward Furia, the 1970 project director of Earth Week, assembled the rival Earth Day 20 Foundation (both groups, however, had Nelson as honorary chair). Together, they organized events in 141 nations and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Hayes, the chairperson of the event's nonprofit co-ordinating committee formed in 1995, the Earth Day Network, claims the day is "the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year."

    John Prine is an American singer/songwriter. In 2013, shareholder activists were arrested outside a Peabody Energy Corp. meeting because they were singing a verse from his song, "Paradise":

    And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County
    Down by the Green River where Paradise lay?
    Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking
    Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.

  2. John Prine is a treasured American storyteller. He is the musical equivalent of Mark Twain. He spins an ordinary event into an inspired life lesson. He's a particular favorite of mine, who obviously inspires my meager attempts to capture his outlook and wordplay. Thank you for sharing one example.


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