August 29, 2014
- Oil on Ampersand Gessobord
- 11″ x 14″
- In a private collection
This painting and another painting titled “Vietnam Warriors” have me thinking about war and the hell that it is. Here sit four youths in a bomb crater surrounded by a splintered forest during a day of fighting. Despite the devastation, Carl Bennett found beauty in the place expressed in this poem, “Vietnamese Morning”.
Before war starts
In early morning
The land is breath taking.
The low, blazing, ruby sun
Melts the night-shadow pools
Creating an ethereal appearance.
Each miniature house and tree
Sprouts its, long, thin shadow
Stretching long on dewy ground.
The countryside is panoramic maze,
Jungle, hamlets, hills and waterways,
Bomb-craters, paddies, broken-backed bridges.
Rice fields glow sky-sheens,
Flat, calm, mirrored lakes
Reflect the morning peace.
The patchwork quilted earth,
Slashed by snaking tree-lines,
Slumbers in dawn’s blue light.
Sharp, rugged mountain peaks
Sleep in a soft rolling blanket
Of clinging, slippery, misty fog.
Effortlessly, languidly, it flows
Shyly spreading wispy tentacles out
To embrace the earth with velvet arms.
Decision makers in our government were not satisfied with destroying land and people one bomb at a time, but resorted to the defoliating herbicide, Agent Orange. Their poor judgment destroyed the lives of the local folks, soldiers and the place. In “Young Men” Curt Bennett writes about being a Vietnam soldier:
In quiet dignity they trudge
With only the slurping sounds
Of jungle boots sucking mud
As they carry their burden
Of expendable youth at war.
There is a poise about them,
A quality not found in peers,
A bearing common only
To young men in combat.
There is a stoic resignation,
A façade of wary acceptance,
A weariness in their movements
As they slowly walk the war.
Struggling with all its elements,
And inside, struggling with themselves,
For just below the surface,
They keep the well-known secret,
The haunting cowardice common to all.
Twenty-four hours a day they walk the line,
Living up to the reputation,
Assuming the swagger, the hard line,
Their casual indifference to death
That masks that deep seeded fear of dying,
The overwhelming urge to break and run,
The paralyzing instinct to freeze or hide!
Praying silently in secret
That whatever happens they won’t look bad.
And that is why they are at war,
Where they would rather be
Then face the shame of not going,
Of being accused of not having “it”,
To uphold that fragile concept of honor,
With their reputations on the line.
And they proudly carry their reputations,
For that is all that remains of their dignity,
Even if it means they must die for it.
They shuffled down in noiseless file,
Gaunt apparitions whose hollow eyes
Stare blankly out from sunken sockets,
Whose swollen tongues crack scaled lips,
Scab sores ooze pus and swarming flies,
Through dirty, soiled flak jackets.
Assholes flame dysentery, brown fluid trickles
The crouchless trousers where jungle rot
Reddens, chafes and burns with each step.
Ripped jungle boots ring-bleached salt-sweat
Through rotting socks encasing fungus feet
They endlessly plod, gray ghosts of dawn.
Silently they pass, eternal warriors
Towards their unknown, to their death and hell.
Whispering shadows blending with the foggy light
In the ancient ritual of men marching to battle,
Quietly they slide away merging in the bush,
Disappearing into the mist of time.
Copyright, Curt Bennett
Today, many leaders in the US government have forsaken statesmanship for being party politicians, acting on behalf of the party funders rather than to the benefit of the citizenry, the land, the water, the earth as a whole. The big picture which includes the interrelationship of earth’s species and systems is ignored. So we must do what we can, consume less, recycle, grow a garden, plant a tree, study the night sky, breathe deeply, make friends, make peace in our time.
June 9, 2009
- Oil on Canvas
- 72″ x 24″ diptych
- 30″ x 10″ image size digital prints – $395 plus shipping
- Contact the artist.
My neighbor was writing a play about water in western Kansas beginning with the Mennonite settlements in the 1800. Most of the water in western Kansas is underground in the Ogallala Aquifer. The play’s first readings offered inspiration and this painting developed. One of several veins of story found in this work is the Greek myth, The Odyssey, in which Odysseus plugged his sailors’ ears with wax and had himself tied to the ship’s mast so he could hear the deadly Siren’s song. This Ogallala Siren‘s lure is so powerful that there is nothing for it, you must have what she offers. It is your only truth. She is giving you what you need now, to hell with the price that might be paid. In the painting, she is presenting you with an empty glass of water while holding a cheeseburger on a plate of golden corn. Water is so cheap that we use the aquifer to grow corn in country suited to prairie or dry land farming. The western Kansas farm likely raises genetically modified corn for biofuel or to feed to beef, which the cattle have difficulty digesting. The mythical siren has the moon nimbus behind her head and crop circles in the background soil. A seemingly endless supply of water flows from her robes. There is no blame placed on ancestors who took advantage of the aquifer’s resource. But now we know much more about the tenuous nature of the aquifer and the value of it. Flying over western Kansas and eastern Colorado the ubiquitous crop circles dot the land horizon to horizon. Irrigation techniques have improved, but the Ogallala Aquifer’s limited supply of water should cause us to think critically about how the Aquifer’s water is used. Genetically modified crops and mono-cultures are also important topics for discussion.
A Water Story: In 1985 my family attended a Wilderness Society Camp in and around Rocky Mountain National Park. I signed up for the water program, which began in the tundra and followed water down the mountain to Estes Park, CO’s water treatment plant. During the program we were asked how much water we used in a day. Only two people in the group of 20 could answer. One gentleman lived in northern California and carried in his water to a secluded forest home. The other gentleman was an eastern CO farmer who used more water in a day than the city of Estes Park used in a year.
Writer, Julene Bair, has a new book out about the Ogallala Aquifer titled “The Ogallala Road”. Viking Penguin Press is the publisher.
May 7, 2009
Today Maxx, Naomi and I fed fish in the pond, waded down Rock Creek, balanced on logs and watched a snake sunning. It was exhausting good fun. When Rob returned from taking them home, he gave me a hand drawn heart and said it was from Maxx and Nomi. I’m rewarded.
The picture: As an amateur woodworker, I’ve learned that making frames is no easy task. The beautiful mahogany came from a friend and the glass bead inserts (look hard at the frames’ bottom horizontal) are something I’m experimenting with. Nomi marbled the background paper and she and Maxx added their hand prints. The picture and story, a gift for Anna’s birthday, were inspired by a walk in the woods with Maxx and Nomi.
Let’s See What Happens.
Not far from their house
Maxx and Naomi follow the river trail
into the dark woods.
“Be still,” whispers Maxx,
A strange clicking noise
is coming from a tree along the path.
“Trees don’t click”, Maxx says,
Naomi points to a colorful
orange, black and white bug.
(Cream Spot Tiger Moth)
“I think that bug is afraid of us” Maxx
says. They decide not to move and
the clicking stops.
(Cream Spot Tiger Moths make a rapid
clicking noise to scare away attackers.)
“I know! Let’s stand here,
and see what happens” Maxx says.
Before long a fluttering sound
announces a flock of butterflies.
(Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly)
They swirl around Maxx and Naomi.
One lands on Naomi’s pink dress
while others collect on the nearby tree.
Naomi gently lifts the butterfly onto her
A twig breaks under the hoof of a passing
deer as she leads her fawn to the river to
A dragonfly darts along the trail, stopping
to hover above Maxx and Naomi’s heads.
Maxx raises his finger
and the dragonfly (Twelve-spot Skimmer) lands.
Maxx and Naomi take a close look at the insect.
A sudden splash makes them jump.
An eagle skims the surface of the river,
and lifts a fish with his talons.
“I have an idea,” Maxx tells Naomi,
“next time, let’s bring our chairs.”
April 30, 2009
Emily in the Flint Hills
- 12″ x 36″, triptych of 3/ 12″x12″ canvases
- Oil on Canvas
- Contact the artist
This is an example of a painting started in the field, literally, and finished in the studio. Three canvases are joined for this Flint Hills view. It seemed the perfect background for a wonderful woman who has decided to make the Flint Hills her home. Ever gracious, welcoming and interesting, Emily sits holding her cup of tea, one of which you would also be sipping if you were her guest. The red pillows? Late into the evening one weekend at Em’s we sewed red pillows which were set on straw bales for the live music venue at a local festival. Where did all that red fabric come from? I think those trunks in the attic are magic.