Jack Perkins

website: www.jackperkins.com

 

http://jackperkins.com/blog


In southern Utah, there is a wall of rock known as Newspaper Rock, filled with hieroglyphs where Indian artists told the news of their times.

Doing a blog is like that. My books, I guess, are like that. Using pictures and words, poetry or prose, I try to speak of the times while never expecting to change them. Much as I aspire to have an effect, much as I try, I understand that in the end, my efforts will amount to little more than Scratchings on Rock.

But that's something.




April 21, 2017


Jack's newest book, an engaging novel:

For more than a century, the Dingmans Bridge has spanned the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey welcoming millions of crossings, perhaps the only privately-owned, interstate toll bridge left in the nation.

This is its story but more importantly, it is the stories of some of the people over years whose lives have been touched, affected, even transformed by it.

Start with the three visionary brothers who conceived and erected the bridge back in the year 1900, knowing that three previous bridges over these same waters had been built over years and failed, collapsed. This one, they swore (and prayed) would survive. And it would, despite the fact that nature at one point assaulted it with what at the time were the most ferocious hurricanes in America’s history.

Indeed, the whole area was menaced then by no less than the United States government which misguidedly destroyed hundreds of homes, an entire town, upsetting thousands of lives.

Yet, through all, the bridge survived. How? What made the difference with this bridge?

A poem discovered in a most unlikely place explained simply: “Holy is the Bridge.” A local pastor said of the Dingmans Bridge, “Whatever name it bears, this will always be “God’s Bridge.”

This is its story, the bridge and some of the people whose lives have been miraculously blessed by it.

• The renowned TV Correspondent, almost killed in a civil rights bombing down South, brought to recuperative refuge at the house by the Bridge where he would find a wise friend, a dear love, and a faith that his newsman’s credo had never before admitted.
• The young Daddy’s Girl who helped round up the cattle at the family ranch as hurricanes approached and later vainly defied the federal agents who came to confiscate what had been her family’s home for four generations. A natural, freckled blonde who on a first date presented her host with a Bible.
• The network bosses who created a new series for their recovering star.
• The bridge toll taker who became a fast friend, part philosopher, part life adviser and best friend over Cuppa’s..
• The nation’s most renowned preacher whose upcoming Crusade would be held in the town where the TV fellow had been nearly killed. And TV fellow would be there in spite of concern, fears and life-threats.

Dangers, challenges, love and determination. And, throughout, increasingly, belief.

These are the muscles and nerves of this compelling new book, “God’s Bridge.”

Jack


Just released through Amazon / Kindle
My first novel:

"GOD'S BRIDGE - A NOVEL OF BELIEVING"




April 18, 2017


Just finished my first novel.

Jack

GOD’S BRIDGE: A Novel, by Jack Perkins

From Emmy Award-winning journalist and author Jack Perkins comes a lyrical novel about the value of family, friends, and history, and the two loves of one man’s life - God and wife.

How can an iron truss bridge, valiantly built generations ago by entrepreneurial American builders – the author’s own forebears! - bring together a young man and the woman who will bring him to the love of God and a life together?

In his new novel, God’s Bridge, Perkins has created a searching, intense main character who travels a broad canvas of our country’s events, from the Civil Rights movement to Vietnam, from the fevered bustle of New York City to a bucolic stone house by the small but mighty rural bridge where he heals and finds his faith in the love of friends and his future wife and through them, the life-saving words of The Bible.

Over a bridge of time, from a deadly church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama to a healing gathering months later in a Birmingham stadium filled with the followers of Billy Graham, the protagonist is continuously directed in almost mysterious ways—by the kindness of strangers and colleagues, believers and non-believers— towards the ancestral home near a family-owned bridge over the Delaware River (which still exists in real life today) and a father and daughter whose land near that bridge was swallowed up by foolish government intervention. Through a delicate courtship and the gift of a bible, our lovers establish a lifelong commitment to each other and to the word of God.




February 15, 2017


Another poem from my latest book of poetry. This one raising a fundamental question.

Why Do I Write Poetry?

Why do I write poetry? I don't.
I confess without shame
That of poems here I may seem to have written,
Many I only transcribed from incoming transmissions.

Sometimes at the first rays of dawn, they come; Sometimes in the raven dark of night.
Sitting in the quiet of my room,
Tracking an ibis across a beach,

Embraced by the heart of a shaded wood,
Maybe in church a sermon or prayer lights a spark,
A word or phrase illuminate.
Maybe while watching a ball game an insight will materialize. My body might be fighting infection
So my mind, evading pain, harks to signals.

Thus it happens. That is my role.
Enough to warrant my name on a book?
Let it at least be acknowledged
I never disclaim the Original Author
While serving as amanuensis,
Setting down insights entrusted to me.
The Holy Spirit does not have an iPad; I do. God's voice is rarely heard. Mine is His to use.

Crafting gifted insights into verse takes workmanship, yes, And the Greek word for "workmanship" is
Poema

Jack




February 1, 2017


From my newest Poetry book: "HomeWords". On Amazon.com.

News v. Poetry

For years, a reporter, I wrote journalese, committed news.
Freed of that burden but impelled still to write
I sought another language, different meter, fresh voice.
I chose the tongue of poetry.
What a difference!

News fires cannonades, too many words to say too little;
Poetry distills.

News uses cliches so people can understand without
having to think;
Poetry wants people to think.

News is hurried and harried;
Poetry takes time to reflect.

News ignites dispute and fulmination;
Poetry soothes.

News tells more than it knows;
Poetry knows more than it tells.

News endeavors to be precise and unambiguous;
Poetry delights in ambiguity, knowing that the poet only
sets down the poem; the reader writes it.

Strident news gets more attention than it deserves;
Soft-spoken poetry deserves more than it gets.

News is rarely worth reading;
Poetry is rarely read.

 

Happy Reading!




January 30, 2017


From my newest Poetry book: "HomeWords". On Amazon.com.

Rumor

So who am I?
A rumor,
Whispered but unverified,
Subject to serial speculation,
Never proved.

At times, to tell truth, I'm not even a rumor,
Scarcely the shadow of one,
Less than a figment,
An undefined word,
Vagary blurred,
A mirage, a chimera,
The memoir of things I wish had happened or would,
Written by the person I'd like you to think I am.
A frail tissue of tales, my rumorous memoir,
Offered as true and maybe so but maybe not,
By now the writer himself isn't sure
Nor does he care;
Content is he to be but rumor.
After all, if he does not yet know himself,
Why should anyone else?




January 4, 2017


JUST OUT! My newest Poetry book: "HomeWords". On Amazon.com.

$10.00

This small book of poems was originally marked for sale At nine-ninety-five.
Do you know what that was?
One might call it guile;

Apologizing, I acknowledge it as fraud.

Is a ten-thousand dollar car too steep for you, friend? Shall we say nine, nine ninety-five?

We've dropped the price of the house from a million-five To only a mil-four fifty.

Do they think we don't know?

My father was an honest man.
He had a small gas station edge of town.
Called his gas Pergas ("Makes your engine purr")
In his prices were no decimal points.
If gas was selling for seventeen cents
He didn't say sixteen-point-nine.
“I don't think my patrons are fools," he told me once, “So I don't try to fool them."

That, in so many ways, was a different time.




September 12, 2015


How an author does NOT want a reader to read his book.

Got thinking about this the other day as two separate readers reached out to me as they were in the process of reading my new book, Nature of God.

It was nice of them to contact me. A writer learns and often grows from considering readers’ feedback. Spend months to years basically by yourself, within yourself creating a work and suddenly you set it free, out to the unpredictable reactions it is destined to arouse. You are eager to hear those reactions but, too, apprehensive. Did they get it? I had some well-considered thoughts in there. Did they find them, resonate to them? Did what I deeply wanted to be heard get through? Such are an author’s trepidations.

So here come early reactions. Both are meant to be compliments. One reader, unoriginally and hyperbolically says “I started and just couldn't put it down. Read it in a day.”

Gee, I think, I hate that. I sure didn't write in a day nor am I flattered by your opting to speed read my labors. Just about wish you hadn't told me. That is how a writer does Not want his book read. So I think.

The other reader who reached out about the same time said what for me was precisely what a writer wants to hear. “I'm reading your book, Jack, but I am taking my time. I'm torn. I enjoy reading it so much that I don't want to get the point where I have to stop reading it. So I read a chapter, stop and absorb. Next time, another chapter. I am enjoying and want to keep enjoying. Hope you're working on another one.”

Dear Reader #2, I am.

Dear Reader #1, but not fast enough for you.




August 18, 2015


Here’s the publisher’s tease for my new book. Covers it, I'd say.

---------

Ranging the world, Perkins explores nature not as a naturalist but as a seeker. Seeking understanding, seeking greater meaning . . . Ultimately, always, seeking God.

      -Come with him to a small island and consider the value of living small lives.
      -Partake in a modern day search for Moby Dick.
      -Watch a brutal seal slaughter and force yourself to understand why it had to be.
      -Pet a whale, coddle a trembling dolphin, bury your face in the only flowers to have a color named after them.
      -Debate Thoreau; realize that what he said was often not at all what he did.
      -Perch atop a glacial erratic and confess that you too are one.
      -Puzzle why a priest would be selling animal penis bones.
      -Remember the man whose award-winning, audience-winning TV show was nothing but himself before a blackboard talking God.
      -Let Hopi Indians lead you down into their most sacred space at the oldest settlement in America.
      -Seek out the lifeform that is likely the oldest extant on our continent.
      -Consider two Harry Trumans and suffer their heroic losses.
      -Meet the man who created the Tufted Guzzard and the Stuffed Ormie and was the greatest nature writer readers never thought as a nature writer.
      -Attend a Camp for Overprivileged Kids for whom Stephen King wasn't scary enough.
      -Learn the perils of life at minus 55 degrees.
      -Stare down the most dangerous beast in our land, eye to eye. Then become him.
      -Do a worldwide telecast of an event that terrorizes natives while thrilling scientists.
      -Watch a hurricane destroy your house by a dam site.
      -Walk miles along a beach of death, not knowing why.
      -Walk then a beach of erupting life, reveling in birth.
      -Live through the mind-numbing tremors of an historic earthquake.
      -Witness a courtroom case where the defendant on trial is The Dark.
      -Meet a girl too young to be so old, too beautiful to be so cursed. A passing acquaintance who could never be anything more.
      -And, finally, select the Epitaph the author will never have.

May all this seeking and consequent finding -- voiced in both present and past, prose and poetry -- carry a reader ever closer to Ultimate Answers. (And, along the way, enjoyment.)

---From NATURE OF GOD : Exploring Creation To Find The Creator by Jack Perkins. Available now on Amazon.com. Or JackPerkins.com.


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August 10, 2015


The chapter this excerpt is taken from recounts the author’s travels with a Catholic relief group, a wise Priest named Father Bud and three Hollywood stars across starvation lands of Africa. This moment is my own recalling not of those stars but of one small girl in one forlorn hospital in a desperate corner of the nation called Djibouti.

---------

She was a passing acquaintance, nothing more, and I knew that the moment we met.

Her name was Djamila. I say “was” because … let me tell.

We reached the ultimate destination of our day’s drive across the Ali Sabieh district of Djibouti to find a rude hospital where scarcely-trained doctors and nurses tried, with severely limited means, to provide at least palliative if not curative care for some of the worst victims of starvation we would see anywhere along our trip. This was where I met the girl I want to tell you about. Want to tell you because the vision of her still -- years later -- I find ineradicable.

Escorted into a hospital room, I found a nurse in soiled scrubs examining a girl on a soiled cot. The girl was sickly slender, expressionless yet somehow serenely beautiful; without speaking, she stunned. The chart on the foot of her bed read: “Djamila Osman.” I presumed as years passed I might no longer remember that name but never until never would I forget her eyes. Dark and fathomless, as though she were one of those poignant big-eyed drawings by the American artist of the sixties, Margaret Kean, the exaggeratedly large eyes looking up at you, entreating beyond language and ken. They wounded.

I figured the girl to be four or five though the nurse said she was probably twice that but diminished physically and dispirited emotionally by the life she had been forced to live. Forced, please understand, not by nature, not by desert itself, but by the implacable cruelty and greed of uncaring men. Throughout these writings, I try to be be gender-neutral, but I cannot be here. The cruelty and greed were solely the acts of uncaring men! Men, as usual, were the Warmakers, men the Destroyers. Beauty, destroyed by Ugly. It is not unfair to say that my personal umbrage toward deserts springs partly from what too often just such men have done to just such girls -- and their families and kinsmen and millions more. To such unspeakable predators, all are prey.

The nurse knew the story, had gotten it from Djamila's father. His wife, Djamila's mother had been raped to death by men who rampaged through their village one day. Escaping the men Warmakers, men food-thieves and men crop confiscators, her father took Djamila and two sisters, carrying what they could on their backs and walking out across the sands to a place far distant where, perhaps, word was, maybe, they might find relief. They had not much food to bring with them on the trek but brought all they could. How to dole it out at the end of day? The traditional order of precedence in such matters was one of primogeniture. Djamila was the oldest child. When food started running short, she and her father got meager rations, the younger children none. Those lost strength as wobbly weeks wore on and one by one fell to the desert floor not to rise again.

Only she and her father remained as on they plodded. It was only after Djamila herself was so weakened by malnutrition and she, the last of the children, could not continue that her father began carrying her frail frame as finally in the distance they could see the refugee camp and meager hospital where now I found her. I did not find him. His last, selfless exertion meant to save her had exhausted his final reserves. He died just inside the hospital, telling this story. Djamila was the only survivor of the Osman family, and the nurse told me that she too, that beautiful, haunting and haunted child, doubtless, would not last long. Damn the desert and the savagery bred within it!

I stayed with her talking but knowing she did not understand except she could understand the tone of my prayers for her. Maybe. Then, I was told we were going to have to leave. I looked at her one last time, her large eyes burning holes in my heart. Not that they meant to, I believe. I think if they were attempting to convey anything their message was elemental: Why? And maybe, Kind Face, can you help?

No, dear child, I cannot. I could do nothing but stare into those deep, dark eyes and hurt for her hurting. And pray. It was prayer, though, that would not, could not assuage in me the guilt of inadequacy. "Don’t underestimate the gifts we are given or can give,“ Father Bud had told me a few days before. But Damn! For Djamila, dear dying Djamila, I had no gifts to give.

She was a passing acquaintance, nothing more. And I knew that the moment we met.

---From NATURE OF GOD : Exploring Creation To Find The Creator by Jack Perkins. Available now on Amazon.com. Or JackPerkins.com.


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August 6, 2015


For some people – including me in my earlier life – Big is best.

But once my wife and I had moved to an island – a small one – I started to rethink. With the help of a species of tree which I decided was what I wanted to be.

---------

The Moosewood is an understory tree, feeling no need to be on top. Nor, after a long career of direct and reflected celebrity, did I. Moosewood is a small tree. I -- at least in my mind -- had been big for too long and wanted, now, to be small.

If wonder is best seen small, perhaps it is true, also, that lives are best lived small. Smallness, though a given grace of islands, is attainable anywhere. There persists, however, confusion about it. The word is often used as a smear. Small = Smear. As in:

I hear it said our problem is we live our lives too small, trapped in a maze of the mundane, threading through puzzles of pettiness -- alarm clocks and showers; shaves or makeup; morning tube-talk engulfing, asphyxiating us with the argumentative and insignificant as we bolt down breakfast or a shot of bottled wake-me-up, and dash to the car, train or bus. Small. Gossip at work, small. Facebook, Twitter, friends and strangers wanting to think that we care what they are doing and thinking though we don't. Through all, serving as the dissonant accompaniment to our lives, a degenerate form of music that isn't, and lyrics that shouldn't be.

And the news, the ceaseless outbreaks of "breaking news." I hear it said there's so much breaking news because it's such a broken world. To escape the brokenness, or at least ignore it, people of small lives look down. They look down at the sidewalks they walk, look down to avoid seeing people, avoid invading another’s space or permitting invasion of theirs. They look down at iPads, cell phones and newspapers disgorging news that itself is small. In the end, inescapably, that news and that gossip make small people look not just down, but out. Look out for all the dangers in their paranoiac world. Look out for themselves since no one else will. Look out. LifeLock can't lock a life. So down they look and out they look but all too rarely up.

I used to think that to say someone was small, or lived a small life, or told small stories was degrading. The big, important people were the ones we honored and esteemed. People like people in People. It's the big who make things happen -- at least according to the big who journal the happenings. The small may occasionally get a grudging millisecond of renown as curiosities -- the citizen who rescues a kid from drowning in icy Tucker's pond, the waitress at Hank's Diner who comes over the counter to apply the Heimlich on a choking customer, or the small-town high school senior who aces the SAT's. Big moments but otherwise small people.

Those I have decided are my heroes; the small, my models; smallness, my intent.

I hear John Lennon singing of those who "want a revolution," acknowledging that "We all want to change the world," and I don't relate. I have never had world-changing aspirations, nor believed them feasible. I am small. I know I am small. And the things I aim for are small. First, before anything else, simply to know myself and then to have revealed to me God's plan for my life. A twist of Lennon:

          I say I want a revelation
          Yeah, but ya know
          I don't want to change the world

---From NATURE OF GOD : Exploring Creation To Find The Creator by Jack Perkins. Available now on Amazon.com. Kindle edition coming soon.


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August 4, 2015


This blog entry marks a new phase off my blogging about my new book. Here, and in entries to come, I am in fact offering excerpts directly from the book itself.

Here are the opening paragraphs of Chapter Eight, titled, Bliss in the Desert.

---------

I am Ecclesiastes.

Long I have quested for happiness and gratification only to find that, once achieved, those were meaningless, vanity, smoke. Try harder, I thought. Push further. Others seem to be finding satisfaction and happiness, don’t they? But then, like the earlier Ecclesiastes, I came to understand that even when found, those were not enough. Happiness was empty. Satisfaction didn't satisfy. I recalibrated. Henceforth, I decided, whatever I might claim to be seeking as I roamed through life, my ultimate goal would be bliss. Not simple jocularity though I do enjoy wit. Not frivolity, for frivoling is surely meaningless, vanity, smoke. No, at their heart (and in mine) my peregrinations henceforth would be the gentle but purposeful searching for bliss.

Let not the word be mistaken. These days, the word bliss appears in many guises, presenting itself variously as a candy, a comic strip, a magazine, a skin lotion, a boutique in Knoxville, a restaurant in Philadelphia, a cupcake bakery in Oregon, a “Gentlemen’s Club” in Florida, a Texas military base, a singing group, a movie, and, of course, we are told, the equivalent of ignorance.

Those aren't the bliss I seek.

The word has a distinguished pedigree dating back to the Old English of a millennium past. Perfect happiness, great joy, a state of spiritual blessedness. Yes, semanticists acknowledge a connection between “blessedness” and “bliss.”

Hippies in the Haight in their days of drugs spoke of getting “blissed out,” meaning rendered oblivious to everything else. Nor is that the bliss for which I quest. I want not oblivion but its opposite -- awareness, acute awareness, profound understanding and the bliss that comes from those.

Mirth, hilarity, gaiety, frivolity, merriment -- those are feelings of the moment, a guffaw at a joke, the tickling enjoyment of an entertainment, reactions to external stimuli. Bliss, on the other hand, grows not from without but from within. Hilarity is a flash of lightning; bliss, moonlight. A mirthful person laughs; a blissful person smiles. Gaiety wants others to share, is heightened by social excitement; bliss glows alone. Uproarious people bellow their music; the blissful hum to themselves. Frivolity springs from dining, dancing, traveling, shopping, partying. Bliss needs none of those. It is not a result of doing, but a way of being.

Fulton Sheen talked about bliss. Remember the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen? If you are too young, be assured and perhaps astonished to learn that indeed there once was a time when a major television network in America would broadcast a program — and in prime time, yet — that was nothing but a Catholic priest standing before a theater audience each week with no TelePrompTer, no cue cards or notes, just standing by a blackboard with a little toy angel sitting on top, the priest talking gently and sincerely about goodness and God-ness. This was in 1951 and the network he was on, DuMont, was more renowned for programs of merry mirth like Jackie Gleason’s “Cavalcade of Stars,” or the wacky hilarity of Ernie Kovacs. But those never got the audience Archbishop Sheen commanded. Nor were they named Personality of the Year by the Emmys as he was.

Though slotted in a “suicide” time up against "Uncle Miltie," Milton Berle, and on another network, Frank Sinatra, when Sheen’s weekly chalk talk began threatening the big guys’ ratings, Berle was heard to crack, mirthfully, “He uses old material too.” Which got jolly folks joking that Sheen should be called “uncle Fultie.”

Eventually, Sheen’s show, “Life Is Worth Living,” was drawing as many as thirty million viewers! Today, in a country with twice as many people and five times as many TV sets, a hit show, scripted and very expensive, is thrilled with an audience a third of what Sheen attracted every week. But then shows today don't have what the good Monsignor had sixty years ago: bliss.

He spoke of it one evening, making a point that a teenaged viewer in Ohio would never forget. Bliss, he said, is both a condition and a practice. Yes, he acknowledged, the word blissful means “full of bliss,” but it also implies “promoting or inducing bliss." You have it, you spread it. Archbishop Sheen embodied bliss; he spread bliss. Since him, TV has pretty much settled for mirth. As do many of us. Not caring to distinguish between fleeting pleasures and abiding joy, we lose ourselves in giggles and short-lived diversions that keep us amused long enough to forget we aren't blissful.

---From NATURE OF GOD : Exploring Creation To Find The Creator

Available now on Amazon.com. Coming soon to Kindles.

Jack


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August 3, 2015


I mentioned in previous blog the startling fact that on average these days there are – Gasp!!! – 4500 different titles being published in this country every day.

Every single day!

How can that be? Well, the explosive growth of indie and/or self publishing is a huge factor. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Self publishing is no longer the shameful ego-massaging of money-grubbing vanity presses. It's quite a legitimate new way of doing things.

New? Let's not forget that no less a literary figure than Samuel Clemens self- published. He himself put out Huckleberry Finn. Not vanity, that.

The world is even more made for indie publishing today. The electronic means are so readily available. Which allows more and more writers fair outlets without needing agent or the year or more of going through old time publishing procedures.

Result? Though Amazon does not specify the number of different books it has in its catalog, an informed industry insider estimates that the number must be about six million!!! That many different books, separate titles. Staggering.

There must be a lot of reading going on. Surely a lot of writing. Good for us all if frightfully daunting to authors.


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August 1, 2015


So my new book. Nature of God, was formally published just a few days ago. July 30, 2015. It's already up on Amazon. The Kindle version is due in a couple of weeks. It's available, too, on my website. I'm setting up readings and appearances to promote it. Things are rolling. All that’s fulfilling, of course. BUT . . .

Here’s a stat I wish nobody had told me.

I talk of my book. But mine, of course, is not the only book newly published. Others vie, as well, for attention. Books published last month, month before. Books about to be published. All of these also vying for attention in the marketplace. How many?

Guess. On average per day how many new titles are published every single day in this country? Every day, including my day, July 30, 2015. How many competitors for readers’s eyes and minds?

45? 450? 4500? Books every day in the U.S. ?

Put it this way. My worthy book on its pub date was just one of 4500 new books put forth that day. It needs, and I believe deserves, all the help I and you and yours can give it. It thanks you.

So do I.


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Entries:
04/21/17

04/18/17
02/15/17
02/01/17
01/30/17
01/04/17
09/12/15
08/18/15
08/10/15
08/06/15
08/04/15
08/03/15
08/01/15

e-mail: jack@jackperkins.com

website: www.jackperkins.com