Marie Langston Carter

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Photo of Corinne Michel West (1908-99), taken by Jon Boris: from Pinterest

 

Marie was a poet, a thrill seeker and an artist.  She had a style of her own and she didn’t care what anyone else thought.  She was a free spirit and marched to her own drummer.  Her poems were deep and life changing.  She wrote about her own life and the things she had seen during her travels.  Her poems were about love, hate, war, compassion, poverty, death and beauty.   She left bits of herself in each of her poems.

Men fell in love with Marie quickly and fully.  She enjoyed them but never promised anything more than a few hours of her time.  She had no desire to meet the needs of another person and was happy with the life she led.  Children would have tied her down and having to cater to a man was never on her agenda.

During her travels she met great people, famous people and people in desperate need.  She saw clearly that the world was divided into the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.’  She did what she could, wherever she went, and when she spoke to others she never failed to mention the terrible discrepancy between the rich and the poor.  She told university graduating classes the truth about war. She told them about the never ending screaming and dying.  She read poems dedicated to mothers mourning their dead children and she read poems about happy children who had nothing at all.  She assigned the task of changing the world to those who had come to hear her speak.  She asked them not to let her down…not to let themselves, or the world, down…but she knew that they would.

Marie was serious about life but her paintings were unrestrained and filled with joy.  Having seen the darker side of things, she celebrated the the best of it in splashes of color.  Her paintings sold before they could be hung on gallery walls.  Her passion for life drew people in and made them hungry for what they couldn’t seem to get for themselves.

Until the end of her life, Marie continued to speak for the disenfranchised.  She continued to travel and tell the stories of those who had no voice.  Her poems continued to inform and enchant and her paintings continued to sell.  Two days before she was hit by a car and killed,  she spoke to a sold out crowd at The Art Institute of Chicago, where one of her paintings had just been installed.  She received a standing ovation.

Wherever Marie went, she made a difference.  She paid attention.  She listened.  She watched.  She reported.  She made the world a better place and that’s the best legacy of all.

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by hitandrun1964

Eve Eggers

 

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Eve Eggers was the youngest of five children and the only girl.  Her brothers tormented her in what they thought of as a fun and delightful way.  Eve disagreed and told them that fun was never involved, just the torment.  Her brothers laughed and continued with their nasty ways, leaving Eve bruised, sometimes broken and battered.  As she grew older Eve was less and less inclined to take the constant punishment from her four evil brothers.  Her parents did nothing to protect her and told her that boys were rough and tumble and not to take it personally.  The school eventually called and told  Eve’s parents that they were sending an officer to their house because they believed that Eve was being physically abused, since she was constantly black and blue, cut and swollen.  The Eggers’ told the school it was all good fun.  The school disagreed.

Eve was happy that someone was finally going to look into her beatings.  The officer came, saw the four large and very strong boys and smiled. “Ah,” he said, “I had three older brothers myself,” then he had a cookie and left. Eve saw that she was on her own.

Later that night, after being pushed down the stairs for the thousandth time, Eve took a bat and broke the bones in her brother’s legs.  She laughed and said, “This is all good fun, Michael.  Just your sister, having a lark.  You know how girls are.”

She went into Peter’s room and kicked him in the stomach a couple of times with her pointy shoes.  “You know,” she said, as she took his penknife and cut his arm, “I can see why you like this.  It really is fun, but only on this side of it, believe me.  I’m so glad you all ate the pudding I made tonight. The extra ingredient you tasted was a drug that made you sleep so soundly, brother mine.”

She skipped to the next room and the room after that.  She left her brothers in quite a messy state.  When she was finished, she picked up her packed bag and fled into the night.  She purchased a train ticket with the money she took from her brothers’ rooms and went to the city.

Life was difficult for a while, but Eve was used to difficult, so did what she had to do in order to survive.  She took menial jobs and slept where she could.  One rainy Tuesday morning she saw a sign in the window of a woman’s clothing store asking for a cleaning woman.  She was hired, with reservation, since she looked quite pitiful, after all.  But she told the woman in charge, that if she was not happy with her work, she did not have to pay her and she would leave quietly.

Eve’s work was perfect.  She continued to sleep outdoors until she had enough money to rent a small apartment.  Every night, before she went to bed, Eve looked into the mirror and smiled at herself.  She thought of what she had done to her brothers and rejoiced in the fact that she escaped from their brutality.  Empowered, she went to her twin bed and curled up with Twinkle, a ginger cat she found in the alley and took home.

Once Eve had the shop in tip-top order there was little to do but maintain the job she had already done, but as she walked past the display window she noticed the dresses and models looked rather limp and out of sorts.   Without much thought, she climbed up onto the ledge and went to work.  She moved everything around, took things from the shop and turned the window into a delightful splash of color and beauty.

When the owner, Mrs. Nightingale, came in at nine o’clock she saw a line of women waiting to enter.  They were chatting happily and pointing at the window, nodding in agreement.  Eve was afraid she had done something wrong but Mrs. Nightingale was extremely pleased.

“I didn’t know you had an artistic flair,” she said to Eve.

“I just changed a few things around,” muttered Eve.

“You shall do it again and again, my dear,” said Mrs. Nightingale.  “From now on you are in charge of the window treatment.”

Eve couldn’t believe her luck.  Every week, people came to see what was in the newly decorated window.  Eve was so busy that Mrs. Nightingale had to hire a new cleaning woman, so that Eve had more time to work on her designs.

Eve was suddenly well dressed and saving money.  The customers sought her advice when making purchases and she became a saleswoman as well as a designer.  Eve was happy,  Mrs. Nightingale was happy and the customers were happy as well.

On the night of October 4th, Eve was closing the shop when she heard a woman scream.  She ran to alley behind the shop and saw a man beating a woman with a stick.  She never slowed down, she just threw herself at the man and knocked him to the ground.  She bit him,  kicked him and screamed in his face.  He hit her with his fist and she smiled.  The man blinked.  Eva smiled again and her eyes went a little scary.  She reached for the stick and pressed it against the man’s throat as hard as she could.  “See,” she said softly, “this is supposed to be fun.  It’s just boy stuff, right?”  The man gurgled and tried to push her off.  But Eve had him pinned down, the same way her brothers held her to the ground so that they could torture her.  The man’s face eventually turned a lovely shade of purple and even in the dark, Eve immediately though of how wonderful that color would look if made into a velvet skirt with a matching jacket.  The man finally stopped fighting and lay still.  Eve waited a moment, to make sure he wouldn’t move, and then she removed herself from his body.  She kicked him once then went over to the weeping woman and helped her to her feet.

“I’ll call the police,” she said to the woman.

“Why?”

“I think he needs a hospital,” said Eve, looking at the man. “He might have a broken rib.”

“I think he’s dead,” cried the woman.

“No, you just have to know the pressure points in the neck, that’s all.  I just knocked him out,” laughed Eve.  “He’ll be fine.”

The women went into the shop and called the police who arrested both of them immediately.  They were charged with attempted murder.  The man was taken to the hospital and give the finest care  The women were placed in dark, damp cell.

“There’s something very wrong with this situation,” said Eve.

“I agree,” said the woman, holding her broken arm tenderly.”

The women were held overnight.  During that time they made plans to start a vigilant group that would come to the aid of women who were being attacked by men.   Mrs. Nightingale got the women out of jail and demanded that the beaten woman be given medical attention.  She brought a reporter from The Times with her and the reporter took photographs and the women’s’ statements.   The story was front page news.  Women were outraged, men said that the man was probably just fooling around and having fun.

Eve had the reporter get a copy of her mug shot so that she could frame it.  Now, every night before she goes to bed, she looks into her own eyes and sees the fury there. She sees the thin smile, that may go unnoticed by others.  Most of all, sees her power.  The thing she doesn’t see…is fear.

hitandrun1964

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Gerald Burleigh and Joseph Delaney…

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Gerald and Joe were best friends.  They did everything together.  Gerald was happy and upbeat, while Joe needed more information about things before his mood became apparent.

It was Christmastime and that meant presents and parties.  It meant family and children.  Gerald looked forward to choosing the perfect gift for the people in his life.  Joe couldn’t wait until the holidays were over…all of them.  He didn’t like being ‘Uncle Joe,’ nor did he like to watch people open the gifts he purchased because he was afraid that he would see disappointment on their faces.  So this year he decided to take a trip, rather than endure one more Christmas at home.

Gerald, a confirmed bachelor, who never wanted to be tied down, well, sometimes he actually enjoyed that, but you know what I mean.  Anyway, Gerald was busy decorating his flat and ordering champagne.  He called the florist and  purchased gifts.  He had everything professionally wrapped and the packages were beautiful.  Joe asked him to accompany him on his trip but Gerald declined, saying that he wouldn’t want to miss all the fun.

As the holiday drew nearer, Joe bought a new suitcase and began to pack.  He was going to Paris for two weeks and then he was off to Rome.  He was staying at his favorite hotels and eating in his favorite restaurants.  He told some of his friends that he would be in town and set up a dinner date or two.  He bought a book of poems for Nannette and a sterling silver cigarette case for Ian.  He was excited to get away from the noise and hustle of Noel.

Gerald chose a lovely gold watch for his beautiful sister and a monogrammed robe for his brother-in-law.  He ordered toys for their children, purchased a painting for his mother, and candy for his aunties.  Gerald was delighted with his schedule and could barely wait for the fun to begin.

The streets were lightly dusted with snow and carolers were singing in the streets, the light from the lampposts  creating a halo around them as they sang.  Gerald was happy to put coins into their hat and wish them a Merry Christmas.  The shop windows were decorated and filled with beautiful items that would fit perfectly under a tree.  Everything was just as it should be, thought Gerald.  Life was perfect.

Joe was having the time of his life.  He spent a wonderful evening with Nannette and Ian. They drank and laughed well into the night.  Nannette read several poems aloud and a sweet silence fell over them, as they thought about the meaning of the words.  Everything was just as it should be, thought Joe. Life was perfect.

Gerald spent December 24th with his family, eating and opening gifts.  He put on a puppet show for the children and danced with his sister, while everyone applauded and swayed in place.  Stories were told of those long gone, after which Gerald played the piano and everyone sang their favorite songs.  Everything was just as it should be, thought Gerald.  Life was perfect.

Joe spent December 24th walking through the empty streets of Paris.  He walked past Shakespeare and Company on his way to Notre Dam, then continued along the Seine.  He inhaled deeply and took the cold air of Paris into his lungs.  He looked up at the windows, their lamps lit, families celebrating together.  He smiled.  He went to his favorite place, the Eiffel Tower, and sat on a bench, overcome with the beauty in front of him.   He had never had such a wonderful Christmas.  Everything was just as it should be, thought Joe. Life was perfect.

 

 

During this wonderful holiday season, remember that we are all different and happiness comes to us in different ways.  If we do what is right for ourselves, then everything will be just as it should be and life will be perfect.

And, if we truly love the people in our lives we will we will want them to be happy doing whatever makes them feel the same way.  🙂

Uncle Edgar…

by hitandrun1964

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Another “found” photo.  This one is marked Uncle Edgar.  I’m assuming he was named after Poe.  That’s why he was an unhappy child.  As he grew older, however, he changed.  He started thinking about life in a different way.  So when war began, as it always does, Uncle Edgar joined up.  Little did he know that he was far ahead of his time.

Uncle Edgar, you see, was a flower child.  He believed in peace, love and harmony and because he believed in these things, he decided to spread love and flowers among the “enemy.”  He wore flowers everyday.  He sang songs of peace and he did his best to stop people from killing each other.  He was amazingly unsuccessful, of course, but he remained undeterred.

An interviewer at heart, having worked for a local newspaper when he was a boy, Uncle Edgar would find the enemy but rather than shoot or capture them, he would try to get them to sit down and talk about their families and their political point of view.  Unfortunately, the enemy rarely spoke English, which made it impossible for Uncle Edgar to understand a single word that anyone was screaming at him.  The actions of the enemy were much easier to decipher; they simply wanted to kill him. Uncle Edgar wrote thousands of letters to his loved ones, however, and those letters are archived at the public library in his home town.

Some of the soldiers made fun of Uncle Edgar.  Not because of the flowers in his hat or even because of the stars he had  tattooed on his face, but because of the ravens who followed him everywhere he went.  And yes, his middle name was Allan.  And no, no one knows if he was the original Poe, reincarnated, but they did look alike.  You can see it if you squint, really hard, while looking at their pictures, laying side by side.  And, it is said that people never wanted to visit his mother’s house because they could hear a heart beating loudly, in each and every room.

Uncle Edgar came home from the war disillusioned.  He sat down at his kitchen table and started drinking coffee, among other things.  He stayed at the table for eleven months and then he got a dog.  He started going out, taking Annabell Lee for walks, and within weeks he was handing out flowers to the people he met on the street.  He did this until he retired, after which he started writing letters to people he never met, on the walls in his living room.  Eventually, the letters were transcribed and made into a book, which became an instant bestseller.

Even though Uncle Edgar was a tad strange, he was well liked.  His favorite food was oatmeal.  He liked brown socks and he loved red plaid shirts, although, he only wore dark green. After his passing, his house was inducted into the local historical society and tours were given at three in the afternoon, everyday, including Christmas.  Apparently, Uncle Edgar not only wrote on the living room walls, he wrote on the walls in the hallway and on the walls in one of the upstairs bedrooms, as well.   People were more than happy to stand in line, in order to read his work first hand.  His coffee cup is still sits on the kitchen table and Annabell Lee’s dish remains on the floor, near the back door.  Her leash hangs over the doorknob.   There are always fresh flowers on the counter and a small sign saying, “Help yourself.”   A lovely tribute to a flower child, who was born  way before his time.

 

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