Brian Donald O’Donovan, retired elementary school teacher and the unofficial poet laureate of Madera, is going through a rough patch. He is battling cancer, and it is a tough fight.
Brian is well equipped for a tough battle, though. He has a loving wife and family, many friends, great numbers of former students and colleagues. With a strong religious faith, he is being upheld by prayer.
He served his country in the military. He is bilingual in Spanish. He is widely read. He is one of the best-natured people you ever will want to meet.
“I never heard him say a bad word against anybody,” fellow teacher and Madera Tribune contributor Bill Coate said Tuesday.
One of my favorite possessions is a photo taken a couple of years ago when Brian was kind enough to ask me to speak to his 4th grade class at Dixieland School. The photo is a little fuzzy, but that’s okay. It was taken by one of Brian’s students, which in Brian’s eyes, and my own, makes it priceless.
It shows me with a medal around my neck, given to me by Brian for going out to talk to his class.
What a kind gesture that was.
But it has been Brian’s nature to be kind and generous with people.
Brian used to bring me poems, and we have printed many of them in the letters column, but lately, what with fighting cancer, his work hasn’t been forthcoming.
Cancer is a lousy disease. It makes you sick, and it saps your energy more than almost anything else you can think of. The treatments make you sick. Sometimes, recovery takes a very long time. And it can take everything out of you.
That’s been the case with Brian. As you can see from the accompanying photo (the one taken in his classroom) he is normally a big bear of a man, strong enough to lift the back end of a Volkswagen. But cancer has made him thinner. And a lot of his strength has been spent.
So, I thought that as long as he couldn’t come and get me and turn me over his knee like a recalcitrant student (they don’t do that any more, really), I would write a poem about him, a sort of comeuppance.
An Ode to Brian Donald O’Donovan
When Brian puts his pen upon a pad
And starts to write a poem, it’s just a tad
Of words that spill upon the empty page,
But then those words gang up and they engage
The subjects he has chosen to discuss,
And soon their numbers, strong, can fill a bus.
He writes with kindness, love and deep respect,
With phrases that most gently are bedecked
With wisdom as would Solomon impart,
Graced always with a joyful, happy heart.
Oh, Brian Donald, yours are words profound,
They leave us with a gratitude unbound.
The Madera Tribune
Jan. 25, 2017
The women’s marches protesting Donald Trump over the weekend were mostly lively and good exercises in political participation.
But some participants and critics, unfortunately, took bad taste to new levels.
One of those was the pornographer and exhibitionist Madonna, who gave a speech laced with expletives that began with the letter F and ended with the letter K. Her speech, which surprisingly was broadcast on national television, did nothing to further the professed causes of most of the marchers, but it did show her to be dirty mouthed, vindictive and without a modicum of talent or thoughtful discourse.
On the other side, some mostly male Republican public officials, were taking harsh criticism over social media potshots they had levied at marchers.
One of these officials, according to The Associated Press, was called upon to resign after posting on his Facebook page that the marches had managed to get more fat women out walking than former First Lady Michelle Obama did in eight years. Indiana State Sen. Jack Sandlin has since apologized and deleted the post after enduring a tidal wave of criticism. His resignation is being called for. (He ought to be kicked out for stupidity.)
Sandlin and Madonna have shown that there are limits to how far political discourse can sink without retaliation and testing the public’s gag reflexes.