Thursday, September 21, 2023

International Day of Peace/Autumnal—Murfin Calendar Coincidence Verse Equinox


McHenry County folks can observe the International Day of Peace this evening, Thursday, September 21 from 6 to 9 pm on the Square in Woodstock sponsored by the Unity Spiritual Center.  Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation will be among the religious organizations participating. 

This is another one of the calendar poems inspired by random, or not so random, coincidences of dates, usually discovered as I am in a mad scramble for a blog entry topic.  It first appeared in 2013 when two events fell on the same day.  Today, like most years, the astronomical event falls a day ahead to a proclaimed one but the calendar serendipity is still close enough.

Tomorrow is the Autumnal Equinox and the first day of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere.  

Today is the International Day of Peace, so proclaimed by the United Nations every year since 1982.  Since 2001 the date has been fixed to September 21 instead of the original third Tuesday of the month, which was also when the UN General Assembly begins its annual session

But peace is hardly the order of the day.  The Russian War on Ukraine, the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II drags on.  Although Ukraine seems to have re-gained the initiative recapturing significant territory from the invaders, the ultimate result remains in doubt, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe is still in harms way threating wide-spread catastrophe, and a desperate Vladimir Putin could escalate the conflict and directly attack Ukraine’s NATO allies.  

An Ukrainian police investigator walked among the site of graves in the woods near a recently liberated city of civilians and soldiers killed during the Russian attack and occupation.  Near by mass graves were found with bodies showing signs of execution and torture.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has re-set the Doomsday Clock to just 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever beeen

Among its grander visions, which must have seemed distant even to the founders of the Day of Peace, was a call for an annual one day cease fire of on-going hostilities.  I can recall no armies ever standing down, but perhaps I missed something.

The rapid deterioration of the environment—melting ice caps, rising seas, hurricanes, heat waves, fires, droughts, and famine—also displaces millions creating international migration crisis, destabilizing governments, and creating conflict over scarce and vanishing resources—the perfect recipe for war and more war. 

And here at home we seem teetering on the edge of Civil War.

The well intentioned gather at a Peace Pole.

No wonder this old piece is still relevant.

International Day of Peace/Autumnal Equinox Eve

September 21, 2013


The immanent equinox advertises itself

            this morning with crack crisp air,

            elderly maples beginning to rust at the crown,

            a touch of gold on borer doomed ashes,

            mums and marigolds,

            hoodies up on dog walkers in shorts,

            all under a prefect azure sky—

                        you know the one from the Sunday song

reminding “skies everywhere as blue as mine.”


The globe teeters on the edge of equanimity,

            ready to balance for an instant between night and day,

            seasons, yesterday and tomorrow,

            a perilous, promising, moment.


The poor creatures swarming over its surface,

            fancying ourselves somehow its masters,

            alas, bereft of any balance….


From the Wishful Thinking File,

            institutional division—

Festooned with doves and olive branches

            brave words on blue banners,

            a speech here, a lovely little vigil there,

            an earnest strumming of guitars,

            litanies sung, mantras chanted,

            kind hearts and gentle people…


The creatures go about our brutal business,

            blithely ignoring it all—

                        proclamation and equinox alike.


—Patrick Murfin



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