• love as a weapon •

Technically, Ms. Conway told a truth, when she declared that the present administration is not using children as leverage to enforce the zero tolerance immigration policy (will wonders never cease), because the present administration is actually using love as a psychological weapon, the love parents hold for their children.

It’s nothing new. Nothing this administration does, ever is. But borrow, they do, and from which playbook? Guess.

During the Pacific campaign of WWll, captured Allied pilots were made to kneel before their captors for summary executions (by decapitation, with a sword), and how was this accomplished? By holding a pistol to the head of their compatriots. The love they held for their mates was all it took. I’d have knelt, too. Love, as a weapon? Fucking genius. The genius of the insane and unscrupulous.

This, too, will not stand. Not in my country. Not if I have anything to do with it.

~ Tim Burchfield



• on father’s day •

Just got off’ the phone with my dad, this being Father’s Day, and all. He’s having one of his good days: he knew who I was, and everything. He was his jovial old self, and what a relief. I wished him a very happy Father’s Day, and said that I loved him. He thanked me, and said something about being off to the ‘big show’, and hung up the phone. They’re bustling off to church, about now, which is what he meant by that, I expect; no longer in the church choir, but I’d bet’cha anything, he’s still gonna sing. He’s a nightingale, of sorts, always coming up with a song to fill in your sentences. That’s what I most remember about my dad, when I was a little kid, when I think of him. Man, did he ever have pipes. In fact, he was my first inspiration, aside from Doris Day.

I was just talking to my son’s girlfriend, who is the nicest girl, asking if she had called her dad yet, as they live in separate dwellings. Not yet, they have something planned for later this afternoon, she said. Good deal, I said. I’m glad for the both of you. I could have stopped there. But, yep, you guessed it. I continued.

“I know a lot of dads must feel they are owed recognition for their efforts, but I think it is we, the fathers, who should be thanking the family. After all, it is a privilege and an honor, to be able to watch your kids grow up, from what were, essentially, mere zygotes, to the sort of strapping young fellow you see standing before you,” I elaborated, gesturing to the ‘boy’, as you have read me refer to him, here, over, lo, these many years: who outweighs me by at least ten pounds, and is pushing six foot two…

“Who could rip my arms out of their sockets, if he chose to.”

They grinned at each other, my sixteen year old progeny, and his BFF, uncomfortably. ‘Let’s indulge him, and see where he takes this, give him all the rope he needs,’ their looks seemed to say.

“Of course, it’s also an ordeal, nothing like what a mom has to go through: hers is an heroic effort, most assuredly, and she deserves the lion’s share of praise, with nine months of load-bearing torture, while being stretched like a balloon, followed hard upon by having, essentially, a watermelon forced by Nature through an opening the size of a…”

“Dad!” Ryan interrupts me, just in the nick. I looked over at his friend. Her eyes were rolling back in her head. Good save, on his part. She did look a bit faint, come to think of it.

“Oh…yeah…. anyways. Big character builder, the whole thing.”

They wished me a good’n, and went for a run. But, I still had more ideas on the subject. So I finished my speech, by myself.

“So I don’t expect any big tadoo, for Father’s Day, nosir! No cards, no lunch, or dinner, or breakfast in bed…and a good thing, too.

“In fact, don’t feel y’all have to do anything special…or nothin’…for little old me…a simple “Happy Father’s Day, Daddyo,” will do….

unless, of course, you really, really, want to. Then, I suppose, I could indulge you.”

• a laugh to crack the sky •

The sadness of the world

keeps trying to take me away from my joy.

If it could, it would destabilize my existence,

perhaps, even destroy me.

But then, it hasn’t the comprehension to encompass me,

or to sufficiently impress.

These are but the constructs

of primitive minds,

who would have me believe

this is all there is.

They are fragile minds, as well,

brittle with age, and ignorance.

I shatter their tentative chains,

with a laugh:

a laugh to crack the sky,

and reacquaint me,

with innocence.

~ Tim Burchfield


• the floppy walk •

I noticed that I have quite a selection of silly walks, I can go to at any time. I suppose we all have a repertoire of ridiculous ramblings, and ludicrous locomotions, which we all sport, on special occasions, like funerals, and weddings, and such. Or, say, at the kids’ graduation ceremonies, and whatnot. I discovered the ‘floppy walk’, as a kid, which I used in supermarkets and malls that I was dragged to against my will, in the company of my mom and sisters, of a Saturday, long ago. I could fray those frazzled nerves to a snapping point, at will, just by motoring along, say, like a giraffe might, if she were a mere four foot three, as I used to be, poor babies. I can still do it, the floppy walk. Like a pro. It’s really very floppy: so floppy, in fact, that if I ever came flopping up to you in a public place, chances are you’ll be able to hear me long before you see me, and so, avoid the encounter altogether.

~ Tim Burchfield


• mental meltdown •

A man is having a mental meltdown, one night, on the side of an interstate highway. He weeps, disconsolately, the very picture of exposure and defeat. Headlights from slowing vehicles Illuminate the bizarre scene. Strobes from a prowler slash the night sky at stultifying and painful intervals. Here and there, scattered on the ground before the loon, elements of what may be a sideboard, are revealed to baffled passing motorists.

Above the fray, two ‘Staties’ (state highway patrolmen) stand silhouetted in stark relief, looming over the shattered subject.

Of the two public servants, lawman number one has a hat; the sort that Marine Corps drill sergeants wear. The other officer sports a glistening flattop (the results of a latest round of experimental testosterone enhancements) atop a sweating pate. He is slowly shaking his not-insubstantial head, over a not-insubstantial neck, which are, in turn, supported by a pair of decidedly not-insubstantial shoulders, and so on, right down to his not-insubstantial predisposed thick-necked genome. The constable looks down on the flailing ‘perp’, with embarrassment, chagrin, and something akin to the pity one feels for a dewy-eyed gazelle, on an African savanna, just before David Attenborough says something pithy about ‘natural selection’.

In fact, what the officer is thinking is, ‘Pitiful.’

Surveying the scene with the sort of satisfaction a cat gets from snagging a lady’s last pair of nylons, the first officer clicks his tongue, in the direction of his partner, and points, ‘Indian style’, with his chin, at the results of his own diabolical innovation: a roadside sobriety test, as daunting as any, exulting, “I call it, the IKEA. Catches out the stoners, every time.”

~ Tim Burchfield


• on this, the fiftieth anniversary •

On this, the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Doctor Martin Luther King, I recall, as a child, back in the sixties, seeing a long, long train of black men and women, walking silently in the rain, holding the hands of their children, along the side of the main road, on a soaking summers day, as we drove slowly past, on our way to our yearly family summer vacation.

Some people had umbrellas, as I recall, but most were soaked to the bone, in what looked to be, to my five-year-old eyes, their Sunday best. It wasn’t wet Sunday shoes, slogging through wet grass, that got my attention, though I did marvel at that(as wet shoes were a big no-no, in our house). It was this: every face looked as if they carried an unnamed burden. All, in unity, a veritable marching community, who had a plan, and were determined to see it through. Or, that’s the impression I seem to recall. A very pervasive reverence, to be sure.

My parents sat silent, in the front of our ‘56 Buick, and answered none of my questions about who they might be, or where they were going, in the rain, in their Sunday shoes.

Of course, I couldn’t have known where all these ‘church folks’, were headed, with their silent prayers, or what they were going to do, when they got there.

I only figured out, years later, what I had (very probably) seen: history in the making. And, at the head of the throng, very probably, marched Doctor Martin Luther King.

I still think about the people, on that long ago summers day, on a rain-soaked highway, and marvel at the remembrance of their conviction, in the face of danger, and of their courage and fortitude, in the face of adversity.

~ Tim Burchfield


• relatively •

When in church, as a kid, if my mom couldn’t get me to sit still, in the pew beside her, she would cross her arms and pinch a piece of me with her vise-like crab claws (you know, the tender part of that ‘turkey flesh’ between your armpit and your elbow), and then, she’s give it a mighty twist. Glory be, did that ever hurt! She’d be sitting there, singing as prettily as you please, and all that time, she would be putting a fire in my flesh, with her goat-hooks, like Beelzebub, in a pillbox hat.

I often think: if I had only had the communication skills, back then, that I do now, why, when my mom told me to ‘sit still’, in church, I could have said, so very politely, “But, mother, I can’t sit still, you see, for the simple reason that it is an impossibility, as I, you, and everyone, and everything in the universe, are always in motion, relative to something else. It’s just the nature of the big wide world, mother, dear, and I am one with it. You see?” And then, I would bat my enormous eyelashes in her general vicinity.

And then, when we got home from church, I would have received a well-deserved beating. (She’d make dad do it.) Now, that’s what I call relativity.

~ Tim Burchfield