The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday

My Sad Captains
By Thom Gunn

One by one they appear in
the darkness: a few friends, and
a few with historical
names. How late they start to shine!
but before they fade they stand
perfectly embodied, all

the past lapping them like a
cloak of chaos. They were men
who, I thought, lived only to
renew the wasteful force they
spent with each hot convulsion.
They remind me, distant now.

True, they are not at rest yet,
but now they are indeed
apart, winnowed from failures,
they withdraw to an orbit
and turn with disinterested
hard energy, like the stars.


Kids were home because of a county teachers' day, we went out for Middle Eastern food and then over to Circuit City to get Revenge of the Sith (under the misapprehension from my husband that Circuit City was giving out Star Wars Pez dispensers, when in fact those cost $19 and they were only giving out posters; Best Buy was giving out lithographs, that might have been the better place to go!) We did not watch it because the kids had Hebrew school in the afternoon, and we didn't come home in any hurry -- the walk from lunch to Circuit City took us past both an aquarium store and a pet store and we stopped in both to see the fish and frogs and iguanas and snakes and birds and ferrets and hamsters and the rest. By the time we did get home I had many e-mails about Michael Piller's death in my inbox and knew how I was going to spend the rest of my afternoon.

Tonight because I needed to chill after writing the obit and talking to several people about Piller and Star Trek (two of whom are old friends I met because of Voyager -- why is it that it so often takes a death to remind me to write to certain people?), we had soup and cheese for dinner and watched Commander in Chief, which had a tighter script than previously though it still has a lot of gunk around the edges and I am coming to the slow conclusion that it isn't just that Rod is badly written, it's that Kyle Secor is not great in the role of Mackenzie's husband, and they need to write Donald Sutherland as slightly less of a heavy because it's starting to seem patronizing, like they don't think we'll respect the woman president unless there's a big political conspiracy working against her. That said, nothing could make me not like that show, whether it's "ripped from the headlines" hurricane and oil spill stuff or the excessive amount of time spent on Daughter #1's Amy Carter complex. Younger son had a meltdown in the middle of all this for reasons we could not figure out -- we think it may have something to do with the fact that he showed us his Chanukah wish list and we both said "Yeah right" about the hundred dollar Bionicle set, but he had to have known that that would be our response -- we said the same thing about the hundred dollar light up dragon last year and the hundred dollar Harry Potter Lego castle two years ago. We are very mean parents.

And finally the kids went to bed and there was Boston Legal! It was like two shows this week, and I am in love with them both: the serious legal drama and the SLASH CRACKFIC! The serious legal drama was David E. Kelley's screaming rant about the Iraq war, in the guise of a woman who wants to sue the National Guard on grounds of fraud after her brother was killed when he was forced to stay in Iraq in a position for which he was not trained. Spader made the speech about the Bush administration's crimes in this conflict and now I see why he's won two Emmys -- it's the contrast between the Shatner wannabe and the guy who can turn in this kind of performance in the courtroom. But as passionately as Alan Shore argued against the war, that's how passionately Denny Crane wanted him to drop the case, and I thought for a moment their love affair was going to be over! Denny even dresses up as a hunter and tells Alan that he is going to the Halloween party not as a pink flamingo like Alan, but with a gun!

But then Denny gets over it and shows up in his pink flamingo suit, just like Alan (while Rene Auberjonois and Candice Bergen come as Charles and Camilla, mwahaha). Clearly Alan and Denny had planned to be one another's dates, and when Denny arrives, Alan tells him he looks pretty in pink. To which Denny replies -- for the second week in a row! -- "I'm not having sex with you." Obviously he gets the subtext loud and clear! I was afraid the episode was going to end at the party with them watching other people dancing but then they cut to the balcony and the cigars, which Shatner and Spader are smoking in their flamingo suits, and Alan says it's a complicated war, and Denny says in classic Captain Kirk style, "Put me in charge. I'll win the damn thing." (In a plushie suit! With a cigar in his mouth! Pretty in pink!) And then, as if that weren't enough, Alan asks whether the army would let two pink flamingoes in anyway, and Denny says, "Don't ask, don't tell." They are the gayest couple on television!

From Alan Shore's closing argument in Judge Clark Brown’s courtroom.

U.S. Attorney Chris Randolf: In war, any war, there are casualties. For the family of a victim to sue the army for such a casualty is not only patently ridiculous its an insult. First it offends the memory of the soldier who gave his life to defend his country. Worst, it’s an attack on patriotism and the US Army itself. He enlisted. He was trained in combat. He assumed the risks of combat. This lawsuit merely represents a flamboyant attempt to showcase anti-war sentiment. It is wrong, it is baseless and it’s an affront to every soldier, to every veteran who has put himself on the line to defend the United States of America. Especially, primarily the ones who have given their lives to do so.

Alan Shore: First. This is hardly about anti-war sentiments. Private Elliot was for the war. Personally I was against it, then I was for it then I was against it again, but that’s just me, I’m a flip flopper. But whether one is for or against the occupation and let’s assume judging from your tie one is, that does not exempt the military from a duty to be honest with its soldiers. Private Elliot was told he’d serve a year. He was told he wouldn’t see combat! Okay! Unexpected stuff happens he did see combat. Fine! But, he was sent into combat with insufficient backup, he was sent in to perform duties for which he was never ever trained! He wasn’t given the most basic of equipment. And then after his tour of duty was up they wouldn’t let him leave. He never assumed those risks by enlisting. Over extended, under equipped, non-trained. He never signed up for that. And now he’s dead. An aside from his sister, nobody seems to care. We talk about honoring the troops. How about we honor them by giving a damn when they’re killed. Our kids are dying over there. In this country, the people, the media, we all just chug along like nothing is wrong. We’ll spend a month obsessing about Terri Shivo. But dare we show the body of a fallen soldier? The most watched cable news station will spend an hour a night on a missing girl in Aruba, but God forbid we pay any attention when kids like Private Elliot killed in action…

Judge Clark Brown: You’re off the point.

Alan Shore: I’m not off the point. We’ve had two thousand American trees fall in that forest over there and we don’t even know it. Not really. But, maybe we don’t wanna know about our children dying. So lucky for us this war isn’t really being televised. We’re not seeing images of soldiers dying in the arms of their comrades, being blown apart on the streets of Baghdad. But they are! By the thousands! And all the American public wants to concern itself with is whether Brad and Angelina really are a couple. At least with Vietnam we all watched and we all go angry!

Judge Clark Brown: What does this have to do with the death of Private Elliot?

Alan Shore: Private Elliot is dead in part because we have a people and a government in denial. We currently have no strategy to fight this war. We have no timetable for getting out. Some of these troops could be extended twenty plus years! Their mothers and fathers have to spring for body armor because the army doesn’t. And they’re getting killed! And we as a nation in denial are letting them. We simply don’t seem to care. Well she does. She’s in this courtroom honoring one dead soldier. That’s a start.

Dalgren Chapel of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, built in 1881, which sits on the Washington County line west of Middletown along the route Robert E. Lee's soldiers took when they invaded the Union from the Confederate States of America heading toward the Battle of South Mountain.

The chapel was built by Madeline Vinton Dalgren, widow of Rear Admiral John A. Dalgren who invented the Dalgren Gun used by the US Navy on the USS Monitor vs the CSS Virginia, which had been the USS Merrimack before it was taken in the Norfolk Navy Yard. There is a fascinating account of the battle here, considered to mark the end of the era of the wooden warship; afterward, the London Times wrote, "Whereas we had one hundred and forty-nine first-class warships, we have now but two."

And a quiz. The first time I took it, I got a 100 percent match for a particular goddess whose name is not an answer I want associated with myself, and some of you know why. *veg* I suppose it's silly to hold the use of the name by someone else against the goddess, but given her marital situation I didn't want to be tied down like her anyway. (If I ever got a quiz result that said my name was "Tammy," I would have to go back and cheat to change it because I'd loathe it so much -- is it silly to have prejudices against names based on people we have known who share them?)

You scored as Freyr.






























Which Pagan God or Goddess are you most like?
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