Job Openings for Chicken Littles

Job Openings for Chicken Littles
Written in preparation for a first meeting with Matt Gonzalez
by The Ox

Her arms rose, fell and fluttered with the rhythm of the song.” — Evelyn Waugh

Some of my Quaker friends were near the So’n Tinh District of Vietnam on March 16, 1968, but they didn’t report anything about the My Lai Massacre… because such massacres were so common at the time. The sky was falling all around them. From the ground up. Unblinking, I was making sure that my students didn’t lose their draft deferments.

People say the sky’s not falling today. But it’s increasingly carcinogenic. The sky is falling.

In 1950, shortly before she died, Edna St. Vincent Millay, recited the following lines to me at her Steepletop:

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,—
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat—the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.

That was when I was seven-years-old.

I am not a member of the Religious Society of Friends. In fact, I am not what most people would call religious.

But the “face of God” is as clear to me as the mutilated animals which were left on the doorsteps of U.S. servicemen who had made an effort to halt the massacre and protect the wounded at My Lai… after their service. There were many My Lais before and after My Lai. In Vietnam… before Vietnam… continuing today. The sky falls as sure as I see the “face of God,” my own evolving mortality, and sense of truth and beauty, and much more… almost sixty years removed from my first fluttering at Steepletop.

I ask readers to serve with me now. If for no other reason than to keep their own soul from being… flat.

Yes, there are other ways to serve, but I know of several singular openings for Chicken Littles. Historic lines (of labor) that must be written.

The work will be as frustrating as reciting poetry to a blinking child on your deathbed. Yes.

But I can promise the reader one thing about the sky.

Richard Oxman (The Ox) can be reached at either or