PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … July 18th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3737)

Found Her Space

by Jonathan Richard Cring

Hustling along the common square

Delirious with hope, yet barely aware

Something living, growing inside

Closing her mind, let it abide

Living in the moment seems safe and sane

Worrying of ‘morrows, what will she obtain?

Did she like her? Did they agree?

For all to see, how can it be

That happiness can end this careless tale

Fools are found to always fail

Just give her a chance to make a scheme

Perhaps a door to allow for her dream

To be what she wanted–no common fool

Find her place in the school

Two, three, four o’clock

One more time around the block

Raincoat sniffs of old worn tires

Almost forgot, then the memory fires

Walking in the open door

There’s the boy–nothing more

No place to go and find retreat

Time and truth finally meet

So girl became a mother

And mother birthed brother

Jarring moment in reality

Mercifully immersed in vitality

Though the freshman lost her place

The lady found her space

Our guest reader is Elizabeth, who lives in Florida with her husband and family

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3 Things… May 24th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3682)

That Take Time But Are Well Worth It

1. Having a conversation with a younger person that is not about school

2. A leisurely drive to your destination

3. Thank you notes

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … October 7th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2715)

PoHymn 10 7 gun

Our National Sin

Yet another fool

Went into the school

To break the Golden Rule

While on the run

He took a gun

And shot his chosen few

Nine are dead

Is what they said

After commercial break

Experts are sought

A lesson is taught

About the creepy fake

Mama cries

Daddy lies

And old friends have their take

I sit and stare

As if I care

Stunned by the sameness

Looking for proof

Some lasting truth

To proclaim myself blameless.

Only nine

Slaughtered this time

A little less than before

But if nine were me

It would be different, you see

Someone shout and roar

But since I live

The little I give

My sympathy

Not much more

When blood is red

Folks are dead

Never to breathe again

Is the gun to blame?

Don’t use his name

Just bury our national sin.

 

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Untotaled: Stepping 48 (May 15th, 1969) Mr. Lester’s Work Force… January 3, 2015

  Jonathots Daily Blog

(2462)

 

(Transcript)

By the time I walked out of school, I was a different person.

Less than a month earlier, my father had passed, and a growling discontentment, which had started in the previous September, had now turned into a barking dog of frustration.

I was tired of school.

I was tired of my little town.

I was tired of being a student.

I was tired of having urges and desires that were ignored by my local church and replaced with a series of childish activities.

I was nearly a man, forced to wear boyish attire.

My mother decided I should get a job. She thought it would keep all of the sadness off my mind.

That year, the local Youth Corps was offering employment to students to assist local businessmen in their pursuits, at $1.10 an hour. I signed up. They placed me in the role of helping out the local groundskeeper at the cemetery.

Not exactly the perfect job for a young man who had just lost his dad.

There was no grave-digging involved. My responsibility was to mow around the tombstones in a fourteen-day pattern. By the time I finished the fourteenth sector of the cemetery, it was time to go back to the first section and start all over again.

I could not imagine anything that personified the futility of my soul like this particular ritual.

I hated it–especially when it came time for sector four–which included my father’s grave. Actually it was just a pile of dirt. It was too soon for grass to have grown. And I felt compelled, by some sense of nostalgia, to stop and pay my respects.

Yet it was odd and obtuse.

As I mowed–especially on the very hot days–there was this strange smell in the air. It reeked of concentrated vitamins, similar to what you experience when you open up a new bottle. It gave me the creeps.

Since my supervisor rarely showed up at the cemetery, I decided to sign the worksheet with my hours and not actually appear. Amazingly, I pulled this off for two weeks before I got caught.

Mr. Lester, my representative, was very disappointed in me. I was fired.

I was mostly relieved, for two reasons: I didn’t have to keep lying, but mostly … I didn’t have to keep working.

 

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Untotaled: Stepping 42 (August 27th, 1967) Driven… November 29, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2428)

(Transcript)

I woke up in one of those adolescent grumpy moods, staring at the ceiling, disgusted with my life.

It was nearly time for school to start again and I felt like I had squandered my entire summer, worrying about how little summer I had left.

Even the things I had done which seemed enjoyable had passed too quickly, and now it was time to go back to school–to pretend to be a student and memorize a bunch of information which would give me a good grade on a test, knowing in my heart that I would soon forget the knowledge, yet knowing that somewhere in the future, I would be expected to remember it.

I had acquired three dollars yesterday by finally mowing the lawn, which had grown so high that one of the neighbors had complained to my parents, fearing that varmaints or snakes might dwell within. I reluctantly did the job and was rewarded with the remuneration.

So I woke up with a scratch I needed to itch. That’s the way it is when you’re a teenager–it’s not really an itch you need to scratch, but rather, an ongoing scratching sensation and needing an itch to justify it.

I got in my car and headed over to Katie’s house. She was the highlight of my summer. We had come together to search for pop bottles we could turn in for deposit to get gas money so we could drive around, talk and be silly.

There was nothing romantic involved, though candidly, I would have jumped her at the slightest invitation. She just thought I was funny.

When I picked her up that day, she had two dollars she had earned by picking blackberries on her grandma’s farm. Between us we had five dollars, three candy bars and some leftover tuna sandwiches her mother had foisted on her as she departed.

Katie explained that she needed to be home by three o’clock in the afternoon, and since it was already ten-thirty, our time would be shortened.

I told her that since we had enough money to buy fifteen gallons of gasoline, that we should drive three hours somewhere, talk, laugh and turn around to drive three hours back.

She was cool with it so we took off for Columbus.

Driving on I-71, we reached the south end of Columbus. Then that scratch that needed an itch suddenly raised its head. So I said, “Let’s keep going.”

She was nervous but agreed–and before too long we passed through Washington Court House, Wilmington and suddenly found ourselves on the outskirts of Cincinnati. It was deliciously naughty, filled with wild abandon and irresponsibility.

A sign read that the Ohio River was four miles ahead. I had never seen the Ohio River, and Katie had only passed over it in a car with her parents while being sound asleep in the back seat. So I said, let’s do it.

We crossed the river into Kentucky.

We felt like fugitives. It was similar to trying to make our way into the Soviet Union through the Iron Curtain (they had that back then).

Everything on the other side of the river, including a town named Covington, looked so different. We felt like Christopher Columbus eyeballing the New World.

Suddenly, Katie looked down at her watch and it was two o’clock in the afternoon, and she realized there was no way she would be able to get back in time. There also were no cell phones or texting, and pay phones were out of the question because we had used all of our money for petrol.

So knowing we were going to get in trouble, we turned the car around and headed back the way we came. It was the strangest combination of fear, jubilance, independence, anxiety and nervous bowel twinges that I’ve ever experienced in my life.

Strangely enough, when we arrived home, people really didn’t say much about us being late–just that we should never do it again.

Katie and I knew that was impossible.

Something changed that day.

I no longer felt bound to a small home on a tiny street in a little village. I realized there was a big world out there–and the only way I would ever get to it and be myself was to survive a couple more years of provincial schooling … to finally be able to point my life in my own direction.

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Untotaled: Stepping 31 (December 18th, 1966) One Last Time … September 13, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2351)

(Transcript)

My home was just two blocks from school, so when the bell rang, dismissing classes for the holidays, I hung around. I was in no hurry to make the trek to my house.

It was my birthday and I was vexed by a bit of melancholy.

Maybe it was the reality of turning fifteen and still not loved by any girl, and kind of shoveled to the side by a family that had more pressing concerns.

I borrowed a basketball from the boys locker room and shot some hoops. I was temporarily invigorated by the fact that I set a new personal record for free throws–eight in a row.

When the janitor came into the gymnasium, he frowned. I realized he was going to ask me to leave, so I redeposited the ball back into the slot where it belonged, grabbed my books and headed towards my abode.

Darkness was already beginning to fall on the little central Ohio community. Clouds were clumped in the sky like folded dirty towels, haphazardly stacked on the shelf, precariously threatening to tumble on the floor in the linen closet.

It was gonna snow.

It didn’t take me long to get home, although I shuffled my feet most of the way. I had never seen that little stretch of road so vacant. Everyone had settled inside, lit their fires and were preparing to endure the forecasted six inches of the white stuff.

Strangely enough, when I got home there was no one there. The house was warm, dark and certainly well-suited to my threatening depression. I left the lights off and turned on our old television set.

There was Clara Jo’s Toy Shop. I never watched it–too “baby,” too silly, too girly, too stupid. But today I was in no mood to rise from my chair, turn the dial and find something else.

All at once, she introduced Santa Claus, to come out and talk to the kids. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head, and I realized, “Oh, yeah. It’s Christmas time.”

I cried.

I don’t know exactly why–but as I watched the man on TV pretending to be the saint from the North Pole, I suddenly wanted to believe again.

After all these years of growing up, knowing that the tales spoken of the northern elf were probably not true, I desired him in my life.

I was so lonely. I tried to play the piano, but each song just made me weep. Then I fell silent–so still that I could hear the howling wind foretelling the coming storm. The window panes in the dining room were already fogging over, promising frost.

With some tears in my eyes, I spoke out loud to the television set. “Santa Claus, all I want for Christmas is to still believe in Santa Claus.”

I cried again.

For a minute, it looked like I was going to be inconsolable. Then suddenly, it just stopped. I sniffed and peered at the television set.

I thought to myself that the family would soon be here. I was frightened that they had all forgotten it was my birthday. I didn’t think I had the heart to endure it.

Suddenly Clara Jo began to sing, in her off-key alto pitch, “Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus…”

I allowed my mind to wander to Christmases years before. It was December 18th, 1966 and I was fifteen.

And as a chill went down my spine, I thought to myself, “There goes Santa Claus.”

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Untotaled: Stepping 22 (May 14th, 1965) Jack Smack … July 12, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2289) 

(Transcript)

School was nearly out. I cannot tell you the relief I felt to finish out the year.

Having survived my infatuation with Jennifer, I had disguised my feelings by using revenge or attempts at ridicule, to make it seem that I no longer cared about her.

We were two days prior to summer vacation, in the midst of a school-wide festival, which had loosened the reigns on the tight restrictions usually imposed on us by teachers and principals.

I was feeling so darned good that I felt like I could say “damn.”

I was in the hallway with my friend, Craig, when we both noticed that Jennifer was standing next to the boy’s locker room door, absent-mindedly staring out the window into the school parking lot.

I had an idea–another way to embarrass Jennifer and therefore appease my male ego from her rejection. I whispered my inclination to Craig and he giggled.

So we ran forward, grabbed Jennifer, opened the boy’s locker room door, and pushed her in. It seemed hilarious in the moment. We lodged our bodies against the door as she pounded and screamed to escape. Her pleas sounded a bit comical to us, so we were in no hurry to set her free.

Suddenly she stopped crying out and the pushing on the door ceased.

So both Craig and I ran back into the festivities, hoping to blend into the crowd so that our misdeed would go unnoticed. Little did we know that in the boy’s locker room was Coach Swartz–and that he had walked out of the shower to discover that Jennifer was there, peering at him, creating what could only be the personification of an awkward moment.

He quickly covered himself, ran around to the other door, to peek and see who was keeping her from escaping.

Now for a moment let me talk about Coach Swartz. He was a collision of cool, crazy and confusion. He was cool because he was very handsome and all the girls in the school thought he was dreamy. Crazy, because he taught health class, and thinking that he was a doctor, passed out some erroneous advice. And confusing because he once told us at football practice that black people couldn’t play quarterback because there was extra oil on their hands, and they couldn’t hold onto the ball.

We also knew his first name was Jack because he had a paddling board which he used to punish students, which he had surnamed “Jack Smack.”

Returning to my story, Coach Swartz, with his hair still wet from the shower, ran into the festivities, found Craig and me, took us into his office and explained his overexposure to dear Jennifer.

He wasn’t mad, but said we would have to be punished. He wasn’t even mad as he took the Jack Smack board from its perch on the wall and hammered us both on the ass, seven times apiece.

Matter of fact, from that moment on, I think he liked us more, winking at us in the hallway as he reflected back to his one-man Chippendale show for Jennifer.

Even Jennifer never complained about our prank.

So you see, even though I got my butt whipped, I didn’t learn anything about being a better person through this experience … whatsoever.

 

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Arizona morning

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

 

 

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