• Summary for October 2017

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    The following is a summary of the October/November 2017 issue of The St. Croix Review: Read More
  • Perspective and Motivation

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    Our Mission Is to Reawaken the Genuine American Spirit . . . Perspective and Motivation Barry MacDonald — Read More
  • The Founding Editorial

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    The Founding Editorial Angus MacDonald Angus MacDonald founded The St. Croix Review in February, 1968. Read More
  • What Is Religion

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    What Is Religion?   Angus MacDonald   Angus MacDonald published this editorial in April, 2002. Read More
  • The Task Confronting Libertarians

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    The Task Confronting Libertarians Henry Hazlitt Henry Hazlitt was an American journalist who wrote about Read More
  • Politically Incorrect Truths about Colonialism and the Third World

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    Politically Incorrect Truths about Colonialism and the Third World Philip Vander Elst Philip Vander Elst Read More
  • Letters from a Conservative Farmer: Memory

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    Writers for Conservatives, 67: Anglo-Saxon Attitudes Jigs Gardner Jigs Gardner is an associate editor of Read More
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  • October 2017 Poems

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    1. Total Solar Eclipse   Even though the differences in size and The distances involved Read More
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Barry MacDonald

Barry MacDonald

Editor & Publisher of the St. Croix Review.

Thursday, 11 February 2016 13:38

October Poems 2015

1.

Angus

As a handsome youth with dark hair he’s not

Remarkable but the photo has a

Story — he’s just come to America

From Australia and I wonder what

 

The photo does to those of us who knew

Him as my father appears very much

Like me or my brother at that age and

He’s full of youthful open confidence

 

As we know the story of his life of

His family his ministry the journal

He founded — we know the bitterness the

Courage and the triumphs no one else could

 

Comprehend and each of us remembers

Differently as each knew him separately.

 

It’s a small circle

of people capable of

comprehending the

photo’s reverberating

depth as only we knew him.

 

 

2.

Hazel was his sister’s name and dad said

She had a hard life as her husband was

A brute character and my dad would gaze

At the photo of her youthful smile and

 

Her profusion of hair and I can see

A touch of family resemblance as

The enthusiastic innocence and

Openness communicates happiness

 

But you can’t tell by seeing the photo’s

Eight decades old and between them was a

Steamer that traversed the Pacific from

Australia to America when such

 

A trip seemed irrevocable as dad

Left behind his family and homeland.

 

In youthful photos

of my vanished family

of a faded world —

I can sense optimism

And eager exploration.

 

 

3.

So I was in the square in Paris just

Before Notre-Dame Cathedral after

A year of schooling at Oxford having

Scored well with the teachers and being a

 

Young man with prospects for success who was

Free of responsibilities and yet

I couldn’t be happy — now here you are

Accomplished graduated prepared to

 

Be an engineer a young man with no

Obstacles except that you’re unhappy —

Is the world to come so threatening so

Imponderable it’s hard to begin

 

Or is misery merely a habit

You must overcome? You will find a way.

 

Unfortunately

I’m not able to give you

exact guidance as

in matters of the spirit

we each have our own puzzles.

 

 

4.

As if I were trying to sneak a look

At his cards to see what he’s doing he

Holds back and won’t communicate how he’s

Considering his options what he wants

 

To do what he thinks he’s capable of

Becoming — it’s time that he makes his way

That he determines a direction and

I know he doesn’t have to get it right

 

There’s wide latitude — it’s not a lifetime

He’s planning just the first few steps and then

He may reconsider readjust and

Change course but how can he know what’s best for

 

Him without testing his abilities

And discovering how the world responds?

 

Because he’s done it

because he’s reconnoitered

possibilities

a father may guide his son —

but the son may be stubborn.

 

 

5.

Being in a place where a person was

Makes the separation more poignant and

Who am I to complain as didn’t I

Get on a bus to Galveston Texas

 

And take a plane to Osaka Japan

And didn’t my parents wave goodbye and

And didn’t they watch me depart to an

Uncertain fate thousands of miles gone

 

And haven’t I been wondering when you

Would take a worthy direction but now

I realize emotions can become

Mixed as your courage is inspiring

 

As you’re behaving just as I did but

Part of me I’ve found wants to keep you near.

 

How can I complain

of my son’s emulation

as Joshua has

decided to go northward

up to Juno Alaska?

 

6.

Jocelyn

You were resisting in Pioneer Park

Pouting and refusing to walk on a

Summer afternoon as resolute as

A toddler with a bulging tummy

 

Could be bereft of her container of

Water that I forgot so I scooped you

Up and we proceeded home — today you’re in

Graduating robes at Moore College of

 

Art and Design in Philadelphia

Which is far from home with a degree that’s

A gamble the schooling will be useful

As we have encouraged you to become

 

As creative as possible because

Your talent deserves opportunity.

 

The conveyance of

emotional subtlety

comes naturally

in faces you create so

experience carefully.

 

Thursday, 11 February 2016 13:36

August Poems 2015

1.

Stillwater

When the native peoples walked for water

This same valley was here resonating.

They called a section “Stillwater” because

The water spread between limestone bluffs.

 

Iced-over river and overcast sky

Slopes of bare trees and snow the clean cold air

The quiet settling among the bluffs

Prepare this place for reverberations.

 

Sioux and Ojibwa fought in a hollow

Lumberjacks floated rafts of logs downsteam

A frontier prison held the Younger Gang

And steamboats plied the townsfolk with supplies.

 

Pioneer Park has a southward view

For sunrises and sun speckled water.

 

Sun river

eagle soaring

seeing

 

 

2.

Kristine

A name is a gift that accompanies

A life and the christening of a child

Is a bestowal of your parent’s best

Intentions and wishes for the passage

 

Of a life as if they could be present

To smooth the way so to proclaim “may you

Be Kristine” is to wish in all your days

That you be moved with wisdom and love like

 

Christ and Kristine is a lovely name you

Should cherish as a gift but a name is

Only a word repeatedly pronounced

And the magic of the naming does wear

 

Off and the essence of spirit is yours

To express and no one else can do it.

 

It’s much easier

to say Kris and pronouncing

Kristine instead is

expressing formality

invoking incantation.

 

 

3.

Her parents left her behind at a gas

Station and at a swimming pool and they

Didn’t intend to hurt her but worse they

Forgot she was one of the family —

 

And though they retrieved her they also gave

Her the impression she’s worthless

And now the grown woman can’t get enough

Attention to lose the expectation

 

She is forgettable — just as if she

Were given a piece of a puzzle and

And assigned the task of finding where it

Belongs — so it seems she’s been abandoned

 

She’s lost and upset and struggling to

Compose herself and to find the way home.

 

To compose herself

to discover the way home

is quite a puzzle —

in a world full of strangers

to find those who are loving.

 

 

4.

Eric

I remember my first friend beyond my

Family the first intimacy when

We discovered there were secrets to share

And with innocence we gave our trust and

 

We encountered how much fun it was to

Delve and roam the neighborhood and then my

Family moved to Minnesota and

I lost my friend in Kansas but within

 

The procession of many new friends there

Were betrayals and disappointments and

I learned and adopted a measuring

Facility for how much trust to give —

 

I remember innocence and want to

Cultivate a gentle sincerity.

 

Childhood innocence

inquisitive wholehearted

cannot be preserved

but we can be circumspect

and also practice kindness.

 

 

 

5.

A rascal put a

snail shell in a

tuba —

rumble has rattle

curlicue in curves.

 

6.

Matt’s a six-foot banana today on

The sidewalk and might have been Gumby a

Coke bottle or Spiderman yesterday

And he’s standing and driving a Segway

 

A T-shaped vehicle with two wheels and

He was a soldier in Afghanistan

Was shot in the head has memory loss

And headaches and because he can’t work he

 

Passes the time in a costume looking

Ridiculous to snare the attention

Of passersby attempting to impart

Happiness because he intends to turn

 

Around a bad day someone is having

Because his humor is the best of him.

 

It’s too easy

to become isolated

laughter is magic

humor communicates and

people need inspiration.

 

Thursday, 11 February 2016 13:36

June Poems 2015

1.

Abraham Lincoln

He was moved with compassion for the slaves

Declared the nation must choose slavery or

Freedom when none wanted to see the truth

He knew the choice could not be evaded —

 

Thoughtful and grave with a far-away gaze

Burdens settled on him so he became

The master of himself and of many

Hot-tempered men contesting Civil War —

 

The north fought to preserve union and law —

Not to free slaves — Lincoln understood the

Temper of his people knew not to waste

The slaughter of soldiers so he waited

 

Until emancipation could succeed —

He was the only one fit for the job.

 

Sadness troubled him

compassion moved him to lead

strength sustained him through

thousands of battlefield deaths

may he be honored always.

 

2.

As the years are accumulating the

Seasons are becoming precious to me

And in the transition from winter I

Watched the tips of trees begin to bud

 

And noticed the vulnerability

And the beseeching posture of the limbs

Rising up to the sun but now in the

Summer their forms are concealed within

 

Luxuriant foliage and I’m attuned

To the ascending and dissipating

Sound of the wind in the leaves just as if

The trees are sighing and I remember

 

These voices from childhood — resonating

Communicating succoring soothing.

 

The invisible

undulating in the trees

the inaudible

arising within the leaves

communicating soothing.

 

 

3.

Crossing a threshold and absorbing light

There’s a connection to be imagined

In a baby seeing swirls of color

And hearing startling and soothing sounds

 

Experiencing taste distinguishing

The warming power of a smiling face

A comforting voice with an embrace and

As leaves of the trees emerge and absorb

 

The light as the roots consume nutrients

From a thawing soil the tree will never

Know it’s a tree but when the gnawing of

Hunger comes the baby discovers how

 

To manipulate others by crying —

Nurturance arises magically.

 

Before the things of

the world acquire names there’s

no distinguishing

within a baby’s thinking

between inside and outside.

 

 

4.

George says hello with a quivering chirp

As I’m entering the room as he’s

Leaning his head on the piano leg

With his back legs sprawling as lazy as

 

Possible — a portrait of nonchalance —

He’s not a kitten anymore and not

A grown-up either as there’s not a thing

He does but eat and sleep but he knows my

 

Habits during the night and leads me to

The necessary room but he ambles

More slowly than I want to go so I

Slow down because I can’t get around him

 

Because George is large and doesn’t hurry

And I’m the one who’s being disciplined.

 

 

George hasn’t a mane

isn’t on the savanna

doesn’t have a pride

but he is brown and does have

a complacent majesty.

 

Thursday, 11 February 2016 13:34

April Poems 2015

1.

In a “half-faced camp” a shed with three sides

They lived not much better than bears in a

Cave because that’s the best Thomas could do

Hewing a shelter from the woods with an

 

Ax and saw — they arrived after fourteen

Days in an oxen caravan to a

Fork on the Sangamon River to a

Place without obligations and to a

 

Site where Nancy his mother would die of

Milk sickness where Abraham learned to do

 Sums of arithmetic by writing on

A wooden shovel and shaving it off —

 

He had a year’s schooling but he absorbed

The Bible and Robinson Crusoe.

 

Weighing his words and

speaking dispassionately

Abraham Lincoln

would present his arguments

sincerely and precisely.

 

 

2.

Is there a triter subject than a rose?
They are mostly just stems and little leaves —
Yes their velvet petals are enchanting
But the contrast with their thorns? Overdone —

 

As common as the sun or moon in verse
Who hasn’t read poetry belabored
With roses? I’d rather see some other
Flower — peony or chrysanthemum —

 

Yet I adore the resonance of “rose”
And the certainty that every human
Has beheld the sun and moon and roses
So to become one with humanity —

 

What everyone has beheld I behold
Too what everyone has loved I love too.

 

Yellow rose petal
evanesces —
thorn

 

3.

There are raindrops in this piece of paper

And the clouds from which the rain came reside

Now within this white form that was once a

Tree that has become a poem because

 

Without the drops to nurture the tree the

Expression of the tree the paper and

Poem could not be and the minerals

In the soil also live in the paper

 

Because without minerals soil has no

Potency and the magic of the sun

Rises off the paper to warm your face

As I communicate to you with words —

 

The logger the road maker and the mill

Worker have all labored for this poem.

 

Metamorphosis

is a fact and the magic

is a mystery

and the mystery is deep

though it happens every day.

 

 

4.

Such things too
the smudges
and slabs
take part in
the bloom —
row apartments
and vine roses.

Thursday, 11 February 2016 13:33

February Poems 2015

1.

My mind is a bowl pondering why my

Friend would say he has no one he relies

On because he’s never said such hurtful

Words before and my mind is a bowl of

 

Frustration as I’m plotting to persuade

A woman to submit to my way of

Managing our meager finances as

I consider her quirky reactions

 

And my mind is a bowl seeing the sun

In a brilliant sky amidst moving clouds

And there suspended is a crescent moon

And for moment I’m just watching as

 

My mind is a bowl and an opening

Offering good intentions this morning.

 

Crescent moon in the

blue sky of morning —

a hole in the day

 

 

2.

The swallow bursts before me snatching my

Sight swooping rising diving and turning

Turning as if it were a whirling blade

Turning and then vanishing into sky —

 

But the bumblebee lumbers in the grass

Plodding and bumbling and purposeful

Desirous of nectar to return home

Serving the manufacture of the hive —

 

I can’t resist the urge to grab the toad

Squeezing and turning it as I wonder

Is it toads or frogs that give out warts and

I suppose it’s either but I don’t care —

 

I’ve spent an hour playing in summer

And so escaped a dreary winter day.

 

These blasted winter

days have frozen my toes and

I’ve worried about

my constantly frozen toes

until this morning’s thawing.

 

 

3.

Only banana

tastes like banana

only a tongue

can taste banana —

I have the joy.

Thursday, 04 February 2016 08:13

February Poems 2016

1.

Asphalt Driveway Co. (1978-1981)

I was privileged in summers long ago

To work on the crews who put in asphalt

Driveways and we came in our tall trucks with

A tractor a roller and a paver

 

And also our muscles and the skills we

Honed as young men with gusto learning the

Required tasks — like standing on a load

Of asphalt while the soles of my boots burned

 

And shoveling from the truck down to a

Wheelbarrow because that’s the only

Way to get the stuff to an odd place — I’m

So grateful to have done that work because

 

Within my layers of experience

I learned simmering determination.

 

 

I am proud of the

exertion I expended

disporting a maul

a shovel and a pickax —

I grew a capacious heart.

 

 

2.

Willie might not impress you on the street

As he was just too thin and tanned almost

Black and the sun is not kind to exposed

Skin and his brawling drinking smoking ways

 

Weren’t upper crust but as the chief on an

Asphalt driveway crew he was a master

Craftsman sizing up the job timing the

Arrivals of the trucks and the movements of

 

The grunts from the seat of his tractor as

He tore up the old and sculpted the ground

With an eye attuned to the drainage of

Water and he raked the underlying

 

Stones and then the asphalt spreading so as

To lay a perfect surface — state-of-art.

 

Willie was wicked

with mercurial rages

over carelessness

stupidity or even

for no discernable cause.

 

3.

Grunts: prideful foolish given to displays of strength

So Davey folded the plastic rings that

Connected a six-pack of pop into

A single ring and with both hands grasping

Behind his neck he so tore it apart

 

And Joey spastically shoveled stones

In the correct general direction

And he drove trucks the same way hastily

Weaving in traffic with a hot load of

 

Asphalt and there came a day I had to

Prove myself so I swung a pickax like

John Henry and the next day they let a

Surplus guy go and kept me and with my

 

Boot I balanced on an empty pop can

And with my fingers tapping crushed the can.

 

The chief has mastered

all required skills before

he drives the tractor

and he is the general

determining everything.

 

4.

A tamper is a steel tool a pole with

A square end that’s used to put a raised edge

Alongside of an asphalt driveway and

I had a good eye for tamping a long

 

Straight line and the crew chiefs wanted me as

My work was a nice finishing touch — I

Was happy because I kept working and

I’d found a skill setting me apart and

 

I enjoyed riding from job to job in

The back of those tall dump trucks wearing a

Bandana but not a shirt feeling like

A pirate or gypsy encountering

 

Curious expressions from passersby

Because I was a member of the crew.

 

It doesn’t take much

to encourage a young man

to entice him to

work like a raging demon —

just give him some belonging.

 

5.

A roller uses two cylinder wheels

That we filled with water and it’s about

Twice as big as a golf cart and I went

Forward by pushing a lever forward

 

And backward the same way and one day I

Was rolling pressing a just laid driveway

Going right to the edge of a ten foot

Drop enjoying an easy interlude

 

Between hard labor and I pulled back on

The lever but the roller kept on so

I jumped and down it went boom boom and like

A cat I landed with my heart going

 

Boom boom and I might have been dozing a

Little beforehand but then I woke up.

 

Synchronicity —

a mechanical failure

a ten foot drop and

vigorous dexterity

produced a happy ending.

 

6.

It was a joke we enjoyed — four of the
State government road crew were leaning on
Their shovels as one was shoveling — though
There might have been a little envy too

 

Because we were like skinny feral cats
From the moment we arrived at the yard
There was ceaseless motion before dawn to
Returning past the evening twilight and

 

Through the heat of the summer days and the
Only reliable rest I could have
If there was room in the cab was to doze
On the way to the next job otherwise

 

I’d stand in the dumpster part of the truck
With my arms over the sides holding on.

 

Such a test of pride —
to lift a wheelbarrow
and hurl it up and
over the side into the

dump truck about ten feet high.

Thursday, 12 February 2015 09:39

Stillwater

When the native peoples walked for water
This same valley was here, resonating.
They called a section “Stillwater” because
The water spread between lime stone bluffs.
 
Iced-over river and overcast sky,
Slopes of bare trees and snow, the clean cold air,
The quiet settling among the bluffs,
Prepare this place for reverberations.
 
Sioux and Ojibwa fought in a hollow;
Lumberjacks floated rafts of logs down steam;
A frontier prison held the Younger Gang;
And Steamboats plied the townsfolk with supplies.
 
Pioneer Park has a southward view
For sunrises and sun speckled water.
 
In Pioneer Park
old people
free balloons
empty sky
 
Sun, river
Eagle soaring —
Seeing
 
 
—Tekken
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 11:42

Editorial

Our Mission Is to Reawaken the Genuine American Spirit . . .

Ronald Reagan's Faith and Optimism
Barry MacDonald - Editorial

11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative, by Paul Kengor. Beaufort Books, New York, NY, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., ISBN 978-0-8253-0699-0, pp. 157.

It is obvious in many who engage in or watch politics and governance: cynicism. My hero/commentator, Charles Krauthammer, is an admittedly proud cynic, expertly honed to see underlying motives. Charles sees motives, goals, and likely results: self-promotion predominates, solutions ignored, Americans without power suffer, and problems accumulate - the veterans who die waiting to receive medical care while VA managers hide waiting lists so that managers win bonuses is a poignant example. The Veterans' Administration is not being run for the benefit of veterans but for the benefit of VA managers, which epitomizes the nature of bureaucracies.

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