Prairie Schooner: The Opioid Issue (Winter 2018), Guest Edited by Glenna Luschei

Ray Murphy, from a letter quoted in the Introduction by Glenna Luschei:

Virtually all of my writing about opiates stems from writing about injury. I never address opiates as a recreational drug. Be interesting to see how many other submissions you get that come out of injury and pain, and then progress into dependency and possibly full-blown addiction.

The second piece in the issue is Marsha de la O’s Paradise Motel. An excerpt:

Black flame, blue spoon, now the shadow
draws close a cloak as wide as Lake Michigan,
robed and rocked in god’s water, rippling
indigo. From out on the street the rush of cars

weave through their harmonies —
those vessels I’ve entered one by one,
riding out currents on a raft of fire.

Marsha de la O’s new collection, Every Ravening Thing, is just out from Pitt Poetry.

delaO-Cover-380x570.jpg

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Thomas Cromwell, A Revolutionary Life: England in 1536

  • “Anne Boleyn died on 19 May, beheaded in the Tower of London before a thousand spectators . . . Like her brother a couple of days before, she died with dignity . . . ” Thomas Cromwell, who hated her (though being careful to appear an ally in the early part of their acquaintance), was seated “close to the scaffold.”
  • One of Thomas Cromwell’s servants was overheard saying in a London inn “that, while the Queen was beheaded, the King ‘consoled himself with another woman in a secluded country house, the gates shut on royal orders to all except councilors and secretaries.”
  • “On 30 May 1536, eleven days after Anne Boleyn’s execution, King Henry married Jane Seymour . . . “
  • “A day after the King’s new wedding,” spoils were “distributed from the wreck of the Boleyn fortunes”: a property belonging to Anne’s brother, Hatfield Park, was forfeited and given to his father-in-law.

This all seems so barbarous and cruel.

Stay tuned.

 

Pearl of the Orient

Since self is writing about an 18th century Spanish priest who is sent to the Philippines to found a mission on an island widely thought to be inhabited by demons, she has to read up on Philippine colonial history.

It begins with Magellan’s murder. Then, with Spain sending voyage after voyage. Then, the Legazpi expedition of 1571 when the 17-year-old Juan de Salcedo marched up and down Luzon, planting the One True Cross.

It amazes self to realize that the line of Spanish governor generals began in 1571 (Legazpi was the first). What was the Philippines like in the 16th century? Juan de Salcedo and his men starved in the Mountain Province. Manila was attacked by pirates from China.

Even the 17th century seems positively medieval. Yet there was an unbroken line of Spanish governors for over three hundred years. Some governor generals were better than others; some were downright awful. But Spain kept sending them. It must have been a hellacious appointment. One governor general was even murdered. By friars.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

England, 1540s: Things Were Crazy, Just Crazy!

Reading Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life is no fun, but SELF YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN NOT EVERYTHING CAN BE LIKE THE ESSEX SERPENT OR NOVEMBER ROAD!

Now, having gotten that off her chest, let’s just say that since self knows how this particular story ends, she is more interested in the sideshows (More sideshows! More!)

The first sideshow to truly capture self’s attention is on p. 180, the sideshow presented by the Duke of Norfolk. Such is Norfolk’s black hatred for Cromwell that not even the fallen minister’s death could heal the wound. Unfortunately for Norfolk: “he himself was thrown into the Tower of London as a result of his son’s crazy dynastic indiscretions in 1546 . . . ”

Hold on, did author Diarmaid MacCulloch just use the word “crazy”? Indeed he did!

Love it, love it.

Stay tuned.

The Laughter of My Father, by Carlos Bulosan

One of our foremost Filipino writers was a migrant worker who died at 40 of tuberculosis, in a Seattle boarding house.

His name was Carlos Bulosan, and The Laughter of My Father was one of Dear Departed Dad’s favorite books (Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino found this copy for me, previously used naturally!)

DSCN0068

Reading it now, self can understand why. She’s reading the Bantam edition, published August 1946.

p. 2:

Laughter was our only wealth. Father was a laughing man. He would go into the living room and stand in front of the tall mirror, stretching his mouth into grotesque shapes with his fingers and making faces at himself; then he would rush into the kitchen, roaring with laughter.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Bartolome de las Casas (1484 – 1566), Bishop of Chiapas

  • In the 16th century, Spain’s newest colony, the Philippines, was administered from Mexico. Luckily, Manila’s first Bishop was “a disciple of Bartolome de las Casas . . . bishop of Chiapas. De las Casas, writing about the injustice, torture and decimation of the American Indians in Mexico, fueled a reform movement that led to a royal decree in 1542 banning the enslavement of Indians and virtually ending the encomienda system by limiting ownership of slaves to a single generation.”

La Casa de Dios: The Legacy of Filipino-Hispanic Churches in the Philippines, by René B. Javellana, SJ

Opioid Addiction

According to The Economist of 23 February 2019,

  • The states with the highest opioid death rates are: Ohio, West Virginia, and New Hampshire.
  • Drugs kill an estimated 70,000 Americans every year. “In 2017, 47,600 of those deaths were caused by opioid overdose — a five-fold increase since 2000.”
  • Alexander Wood invented the hypodermic needle in 1853. He “touted it by claiming that morphine would not cause addiction if injected rather than smoked or swallowed.”
  • “Needles and morphine were deployed in the American Civil War . . .”  leaving “as many as 100,000 veterans” addicted.
  • Heroin was first manufactured by Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company. “To market it, they called it heroin from the German word meaning heroic.”
  • In 1996, a private pharmaceutical firm launched Oxycontin, an opioid “that, like heroin, is twice as strong as morphine.”
  • “Opioid sales quadrupled from 1999 to 2011.”
  • In 2012, the number of opioid prescriptions was 255 million.
  • In 2015, “Americans were still getting four times as many opioids per head than Europeans.”

These stats are terrible.

Lyndon B. Johnson, 11 December 1972

Lyndon B. Johnson speaking at a Civil Rights Symposium in the LBJ Library on Dec. 11, 1972:

“Of all the records that are housed in this library, 31 million papers over a 40-year period of public life” . . . the records relating to civil rights “holds the most of myself within it, and holds for me the most intimate meanings . . . ” Until “blacks stand on level and equal ground,” we cannot rest.

Leadership in Troubled Times, p. 351

One Year Ago: Redwood City, California

Version 2DSCN0537

Leadership in Troubled Times, pp. 228 – 229

DSCN4276

Washington, D.C.:  This crowd on Tenth Street had formed in front of the Peterson House, where President Abraham Lincoln was taken after being shot, and where he eventually died, on April 15, 1865.

Chapter Nine, which breaks down the reasons Abraham Lincoln’s leadership style was so successful, is so far self’s favorite chapter of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Leadership in Troubled Times. What Goodwin does really well is show us the humanity behind the icon, and Lincoln was an extremely humane President, who suffered from periodic bouts of depression.

In fact, depression was what led him to break off his engagement to Mary Todd (what a scandal, for those times). A few years later, when he was more in command (emotionally as well as politically), he approached her again and she forgave him. They were married.

It is very hard indeed to read the following paragraph:

When Lincoln was under appalling duress, nothing provided greater respite and renewal than a visit to the theater. During his four years as president, he went to the theater more than a hundred times. When the gas lights dimmed, and the actors took the stage, Lincoln was able to surrender his mind “into other channels of thought.” At a performance of Henry IV, Part I, a seatmate noted, “He has forgotten the war. He has forgotten Congress. He is out of politics. He is living in Prince Hal’s time.” He understood that people might think his frequent theatergoing “strange, but I must have some relief from this terrible anxiety, or it will kill me.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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