Let’s Celebrate the Fourth!


“We have no right to believe that if anything were
different from what it is, anything else would be the
same as what it is.”—J. McT. E. McTaggart

Up, up, my friend, we’re missing the parade.
No? Why not? The fife and drum?
The uniforms? Hey this is not Iran,
Hitler’s Reich, or Imperial Japan.
This is America.

So, Jefferson was “really.” Is that true?
And Washington? Him, too? Have you considered
the “really” number I could do on you?
Ah, let that pass. But tell me this:
What would you have had those people do?

Wait! Before you speak, think how the flight
of a butterfly in Kansas can
ignite a dust storm in Afghanistan.
Tweak the historical record you’ll start up
differences in all directions.
The Indians—what if they’d won? Or the Mexicans?
What if the white tops hadn’t rocked and rolled
to Whitman’s Mission and to Sutter’s Mill?
Would there have even been a Civil War?
And what then of the slaves?

What if we’d let the Kaiser colonize
the Philippines? Or not dropped Little Boy?
Tojo was planning a giant Okinawa
Think of the final battle inside Troy.
What then would the occupation have been like?

Someday we will learn from someone clever
how to pick the fly poop out of pepper.
But good from evil? Never. Just the same
we have to choose. And so, my friend, would you
choose to be interned by us or them?

A citizen of the world? Come off it, man.
You’ve got U.S.A. all over you.
Hey, Mister American is what you’ll hear
anywhere on earth. So pop a beer,
and let’s go celebrate our nation’s birth.

Herbert Knapp

This poem is from Did You See This? Poems to Provoke the Politically Correct. For more poems from this book, see girandolebooks.com. For poetic commentary, see my blog, Poems and Prayers. http://ppp.girandolebooks.com

Books · Historic House Museums · Merchant's House · Museums

How and Why We Became Publishers, Part Three, Merchant’s House Meet POD

The Merchant's House Museum 29 East Fourth St., New York City
The Merchant’s House Museum 29 East Fourth St., New York City

After we moved to Manhattan we made it a point to see all the things people come to the city to see. One of them, the Merchant’s House Museum, a historic house built in 1832, was occupied by the same family for almost 100 years and still has original furniture and personal family belongings—even their underwear!

Mary asked if there was a book about the house.Well no, there wasn’t. So she volunteered to be a docent at the Museum and began to learn the answers to the things she had wondered about. What was it really like to live in a world without screens, air-conditioning, indoor plumbing, or furnaces, and what were the family’s assumptions about life—about courtship, diseases, women, and death, for instance.

Nineteenth-century woman in mourning
Nineteenth-century woman in mourning from Ch. 18 An Old Merchant’s House

After a lot of study, including close reading of diaries and letters and publishedworks of the time as well as research about the Tredwell family and their house, she finally knew enough to write the book that she had wanted to buy when we first visited the house: An Old Merchant’s House.

When it came time to submit the manuscript for publication, we realized that our agent had died and our editor had retired. The idea of selling ourselves and our books to new set of very young people was depressing. But while we weren’t looking, everything about the publishing business had changed. It was now possible for an author to publish his books himself. Digital presses can now print one book at a time, without costly set up. It’s called POD (print on demand.) There are a number of firms which you can hire do everything necessary to publish your work and to place it on Amazon and other online sites. We decided to publish our books POD. Since we can edit our books ourselves and have an in-house IT guy (a son-in law, who is also an author), we don’t have to rely on the POD firm for creating the necessary disc (not something most people can easily do themselves) or editorial services.

A girandole.
A girandole.

We decided to form a publishing company called Girandole Books. A girandole is a 19th-century lighting device, employing candles and sometimes a mirror. Since it illuminates and reflects, we thought that was a good name for a publisher. Turns out nobody can say it or spell it. Amazon argued that it wasn’t a real word. We finally prevailed.

Mary has written another book about the Merchant’s House, Miracle on Fourth Street. It’s about the cast of incredible characters who managed to save the house from being destroyed. Both her books are now on sale at the Merchant’s House and on Amazon. My recently published, Did You See This? Poems to Offend the Politically Correct is also available from Amazon in paperback or a kindle version.

Now since we are too old to dally, we plan to publish at least two books each year for awhile. We will be referring to these books and publishing excerpts. Next up is my novel Beating a Dead Stick, a book about a high school teacher who teaches in a school in the eighties where the students learn nothing and the faculty doesn’t care. No, it is not a fictionalized version of the Pembroke-Hill school in Kansas City where I taught or of Balboa High School in the Canal Zone or of the Canal Zone College or of Kansas City University, but . . . Stay tuned.



Some Guys You Just Don’t Mess With

TR Statue

At the entrance to the New York City

Museum of Natural History

is a statue of a racist,

jingoistic politician

up on his high horse,

attended by “natives” on foot.

Our neo-Calvinist Elect

insisted the commissioners reject

a statue of FDR

holding a cigarette.

Also the one of Eleanor

reminding us she often wore

a stole made from the furry skins

of animals.

But entering or leaving the Museum

of Natural History, the Elect

avert their eyes and hurry by

the statue of the boisterous bully boy,

up on his high horse, lording it over them,

often with a pigeon on his head.

From Did You See This? Poems to Provoke the Politically Correct by Herb Knapp

Photo by Lee Snider

For more poems from this volume see girandolebooks.com