15 September 2015

My Note: WRA, Class of '69

© Western Reserve Academy/115 College St./Hudson, OH.
The past 7 years have been tough and my WRA preparation has served me well. The last 7 years have been tough and my WRA preparation hardly served at all. I was a child of two alcoholics, one of whom was an adult overseer for General Motors. Now I’m an adult child of two alcoholics. I’ve tried to live into my parent’s gift of my WRA education. I graduated 46th(?) out of 60 or 61 classmates. I wasnt a scholar. I wasnt an athlete. I wasnt a civic/school leader. I practiced photography and Bill Moos was my finest teacher. “Damn it, Billy! This, simply, will not do!” I was one of 2 or 3 people never profiled in The Record. I don’t grasp why I’d be of any interest today. Except, I’m not too proud to scrounge and I’m a survivor.
I’m the bio-dad of 2 children. My son, Townsend Collins is married to Jennifer Howard, of Knoxville, TN. I’m “Papa Bill” to 1 grandchild, Townsend Savage Collins, Jr. Jennifer is an inner city elementary teacher and Townsend sorts statistics to 6-sygma and helps create financial formulas for municipal clients. They live in Charlotte, NC. My daughter, Caroline Collins, practices as a missionary and caregiver. She’s just returned from 3 months outside of Accra, Ghana, serving over 50 Ghanaian orphan children ages 6 months through 15 years. She seems called to a missionary tradition, which would descend from my mother’s family. So maybe, just now, my biological imperative is fulfilled.
For the last 6 years I labored as the owner-operator of a boutique lawn care service, 1Man/1Mower. I pushed. I did not ride. At first I scrounged customers then later on customers came by referral only. For the last 2 years I’ve lived into Meniere’s Disease. I decided, due to it, I’d be wise to concentrate on removing sodium from my diet. I miss my mowing occupation and all it entailed and what was a small income. I especially miss my customers all of whom I grew to know well.
My second partner Angie, and her people, are of upper East Tennessee. She’s still employed, so we’re fortunate to have health insurance via East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. I’m now of little productive financial use except by what I’ve paid into the public trough and it pays out in return. The Great Recession gutted my invested resources. This summer I disassembled and removed the original 75-year old HVAC system from our house. Charlie Feldman would be proud. WRA didn’t prepare me for that; his curriculum was axed. WRA did prepare me for saving $10,000 as the fruit of my labor.
Knoxville, TN is as good a town as I’d need. I really couldn’t imagine living in some West Indian gin & tonic or margarita tropics or traipsing a golf course chasing a small white whacked ball so to putt into a little hole. I look forward to visiting my grandchild(ren?), reading, Smoky Mountain hiking, practicing anarchist calisthenics, Taoist Tai Chi, choral singing, contemplative prayer, and cultivating any remaining genetic health I’m blessed with. And, VOL-Nation rocks, despite, just yesterday, losing a heart-breaker to some Sooners.

I believe every private elementary and secondary school student be required learn cursive, to practice a computer programming language, be introduced to statistics & statistical analysis, and daily labor outdoors in a dirt field cultivating a crop, in all seasons, sown by each student’s hand. Physical education as currently practiced and presented is approaching useful irrelevance. Instead current practice serves as social and economic class markers and secret signals to those who already know them and puts off everyone else. Professional athletics as recreational model or business aspiration is outdated. It enables personal and cultural physical passivity. As a business model it’s a government-sanctioned plantation for wealth transfer to 3-comma owner-oligarchs. The Cleveland Browns owner is a Knoxvillian; their family operates consumer gas markets; cash is king and “their” cash bought the Browns.
My 2016 presidential election agenda for America is tackling income inequality and college debt and overly complex taxation and cyber security and broken equity markets; Mark Cuban might speak to those public policy concerns. I know, I know, as a practical matter, and as a sort of fuddy-duddy analog civic remnant, I put out a yard sign for a local office seeker and I vote. Do any of you vote, or do you pay-2-play, or just ignore the whole mess?
And finally, I’m straight. I believe all WRA taught me through my 4 years is now perceived as “gay culture” and, more importantly, is believed, by the vast majority beyond the private archetypal WRA grounds, as really being “gay culture.” I feel this as sadness. It seems like civic codifications based upon genetic genitalia outcomes, and civic suppression based upon genetic skin color, and civic nullification of individual religious and spiritual and secular cultural practices are paramount. It ain’t no thing. Really? Ahem… only if your cash is king so to live on private grounds behind private walls. From time to time I miss Bill Moos bellowing, “Damn it, Billy! This simply will not do!”

07 August 2015


I’m asked, “So, what’s your vision for your “retirement?”
I didn’t have an answer. I’ve never believed I’d have any money for one. Every day is a financial struggle, I’m not ambitious, I don’t value acquiring and holding money and my education and skill sets are hopelessly out of sync with the every social, political, economic, and cultural resource in demand.
  • Annual week @ the beach.
  • Church
  • Time w/Grandchildren

That’s about as far as I got. I’ve never taken it seriously, as presented in common medias, nor have I ever believed in the notion of “retirement.” Accumulating wealth has never been an ambition. I’m interested in the content of my character and my actions. I’m ambitious for them, yes, rather than $$$$$$ in my bank account, which is not to say we don’t have some resources.
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Making stuff

I don’t like the word “stuff.” What I create is non-commercial and idiosyncratic, even though it can be placed within photographic and sculptural artistic traditions. Most folks don’t get it, and left not knowing what to think, say, or do, fall back on the polite custom of saying nothing and/or thinking “Bless his heart, he’s going to have a hard time.” I know I feel that way at times so it’s natural.

For a fine real world example seek out Borderland Tees (http://www.borderlandtees.com) in Knoxville. These folks do good work, make money, yes, so to be self supporting, but really do cultivate activities & employ & invest in people being left behind by contemporary aggregating bottom-line T.Q.M. business cultures. Borderland Tees is not unhinged from Adam Smith’s moral imperatives.
So, again, to answer the question about MY retirement, my goal is to cultivate the content of my character and to do those things, with others of a like mind, that will help me assist, where ever and who ever they might be, “others” who are left behind. I think of it as a living into Micah’s theological declaration,
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

I hope this makes sense. It’s a windy answer, and, I presume, not one you might often hear. I feel it seems hopelessly high-minded. Alas & anyway, there it is and there I am. That’s my “retirement” I’d like to fund with the little I have and the time I have remaining.

08 July 2015

Lucky Smoke

“You wanna smoke?
“Really? In all of this? And you don’t wanna smoke? Your kiddin’ me.”
Pee Wee held two with his lips, bent his head down, shielding his lighter in cupped hands from wind and snapped his chin up stretching his neck, throat open, dragging smoke through both lips holding ‘em pointed up, being still. He took one out, the other relaxing down, and reached out to offer it up. Kup salivated and was penned in now, by the aroma and his desire, back into his own fuckin’ corner.
“Prick,” and he took the Lucky and dragged on it and drew inward and closed his eyes and held it being still, too.
“How’s it feel?
“Well…” exhaling, “tastes good feels better, you prick.
“OK. Good,” Pee Wee chuckling a ‘typical’ inside.  “Now, what are we gonna do to get outta here?”

“Now? No. Now I finish my Lucky.”

06 July 2015

Old Man Orange Shirt

I made a mistake, made a wrong turn on top level at UT Med Ctr parking lot. A white hair old man Orange Shirt attendant in golf cart blocks me in my mistake so I couldn't move to correct my error and finish parking correctly. I don't like to park incorrectly. 
I roll my window down smile and I say,
"I'm sorry, I made a mistake."
Old man white hair Orange Shirt says, "Security don't care 'bout your mistake! They give you ticket!"
"Thank you!," I say and white hair old man Orange Shirt carts off. I correct my mistake. I'm walking into 
back main entrance of Bldg C and white hair Orange Shirt old man drives by and smiles and waves to me.

03 July 2015

Pruning Down

I see her anguish.
I’m helpless with her fears.
My helplessness is my distress
That is in my emptiness. Maranatha.
I pruned down the winter-killed gardenia.
It’s growing!

29 June 2015

Papa Bill

Treasure is my grand-babe, feeling his quiet breathing
Soft hope content he knows not yet is.
And I am reassured my past now free
From my desire I cling while I let go while I striding my remaining pitted path.
Where am I left behind while my I am crumbles… even with treasure joyous remnant now along?

I will ponder and drink this abundance
My past, my knowledge, my I am, now is as Papa Bill abides
Marvelous, wondrous, my hand anew some future treasure
Some Papa Bill will make some new fresh wider path.

30 May 2015


“Listen…” and we’d sit
“Listen to the wind You hear it? Listen!”

The sound made with limbs of sanctuary trees in our silence
Where the Hootie Owl searched, calling, hoooo, hooooo, hoooooo, to woke me while I lay sleeping
Listening inside winter’s night window opened up.
Drapes billow, pulls klunk on wall by our cold wind
A snow-dusting on carpet such a fragile snow dust.
Hoooo, hooooo, hoooooo, Hootie Owl calls me, I listen, still cold as the
Wind between whistling sanctuary branches
Klunky pulls kuhplunking,
Bobby Darin callin’ Mack and his knife 'waken me
Someone sneakin’ ‘round the corner, ho, ho,
Bet you Daddy’s back in town.

Downstairs in the living room I held me onto the sofa by our fear and his lonliness.
He in the white wingback slouching down legs and feet out listening to lp and sound, but
“Listen! Listen, do you hear the wind?” And I could
Hear swizzling ice, tinkling in melting water and scotch in his etched diamond shapes on glass
Tumbler he’d stumble and swuzzle when he woke or drop
Off while he drank and sank
Lower and lower down into weary deadened blackout.
I sat and watched and listened and smelled Johnnie Walker
His lower lip curling and pooching down and out
Scared to rouse a weary scared sad friendless lonely ogre who was the Daddy
I knew.

25 May 2015

Left Behind

Left behind is how I feel
Any metaphor I conjure is
Not one I care for
To leave behind.
They just break down and anyway
I don’t believe my words will survive but I like them.

I don’t believe in money though it’s overrated and necessary.
I do believe in music but it takes practice and practice that’s necessary to leave it behind if
A song w’ lyrics is prayer twice told, no matter in a bar, a parlor, a concert, or a church
Heart and mind and voice are engaged and left behind in our hearts, well, my heart.
Do quants leave music behind?
My words are left behind and my children do not see them, do they?

My children do not see the books I like and I read
Like I saw the books my parents did not read but displayed as if
They did and they just showed off.
It may be that what I leave behind will just be
My children as my bio-destiny I will achieve
And I’m sad they might not care for what I found before and after
In my books that I have read and marked and felt moved by
In my books that I have read and believed in and felt as my
Hope so they might know me
In them it will be what I cannot imagine.


I take for granted my hope and my desire just as my children do theirs if
They even know what is now like I didn't know what mine was when
the what I left behind as my parents left me behind and I grew
And lived and loved and became my part of The Way they were in their moments they left behind in their 8mm Kodak 50 foot color movies.
I know my children may never see the I AM that I still am and will never be again and
What may we come to be?