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Jeff, the babe, sprang forth June 11, 1942, in Vicksburg, Mississippi

Four score years later with ambitions of his twenty-year young self

He supports respect for North American indigenous folk

Jeff muses about changing United States of America

To United States of Mississippi watershed or something better

And his father called him “Jefe” as he studied Spanish and mastered it

Truly the Jefe of his fate like the time when a thief stole all his money,

Ticket, passport, and all on the beach near Mombasa while he swam

And he decided not to let it ruin his day or his life and went back

Into the ocean, then found his way in spite of the cruel crook.

Had more of an adventure than if he had all his papers in order.

All that a man can be and span two centuries and walk many continents

All Jeff is friend, soldier, son, brother, husband, father, lover, writer

Artist, journalist, prankster, joker, playful curious independent free fellow

With the entire national forest as his backyard in Colorado when

He was nine-years-old so he wandered freely, climbing up to see

All the tiny people like ants embroiled in worrisome business of some sort

All the perspective of getting up off alone, self-reliant, learning

All the life lessons at Wolf Creek Pass where snow kept him from school

But not from the truth of life and wildness and open free space.

First girlfriend had a dress with gingerbread boys and girls holding hands.

Later on in college he did battle with abusive administrators

With his Sword of Damocles newspaper barely escaping libel suit.

Trudging the streets wearing rented Navy Pea Coat with holes

In his shoes in knee deep snow leaning against the wind.

The student, the artist, the journalist dauntless against winds of fate

The spirit of the warrior joined military intelligence and off to Vietnam

To face the fearsome demons of adrenalin streets of war.

Then great freedom of release from war and the beginning of his travels.

Magical time in India seeing things he thought he must have imagined.

Then marriage to strong-willed woman worthy of descriptions by Whitman

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About fate of the land from the loins of such mothers and birth of precious son

With bald head and dimpled chin in N.Y. City, then off they go in green truck

With yellow camper along Pan American Highway daring cliff-hanging roads

And Jeff remembers the road to work in Brazil with lovely women

Along Copacabana Beach where he believes he will return and write

And off to Africa and more journalism and there he must return and write

All that has not yet been said; and whenever he can Jeff flies off to lands

Where the people struggle to create great change for themselves

Then he comes home smelling of tear gas and the thrill of it.

He was there at the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.

He was there when the educators demonstrated in Quito, Ecuador.

He was there in Peru when there were riots in the streets for new government

He was there in So. Africa as racism transformed to Peace and Reconciliation

He was there with activists to stop radioactive waste truck headed to WIPP

from Los Alamos on remote highway in New Mexico south of Clines Corners

He was there in East Africa in the Ugandan situation and the violence

And all the anti-apartheid passions. He was there.

He was there at the first Climate Summit in Rio; then in Paris and Glasgow

He was there amid death squads meting out vigilante justice in Brazil.

One old journalist said he would retire someday and run a village newspaper;

That’s what Jeff has done in Corrales, New Mexico, for half his life so far

Attending over 1,000 village council meetings for forty years to date.

Doing battle with government agencies, battle with ignorant corporations

Ever believing the strength of Democracy is in the wisdom of the people

Informed in truth about what’s going on; there’s jeff at his computer station

Reporting the news as if Democracy matters; persistent, patient with integrity

Every two weeks putting out the paper, pages and pages telling folks

Enough to make their own decisions; so many battles to be fought still

So many truths to be told. So many jokes to be played.

Before his head becomes a skull on his son’s desk like it says in his will

What news, what insight will spring forth from under his wizard eyebrows?

What fresh new joust will he engage in? How many more countries

And revolutionary crowds will he witness? As many as possible no doubt.

Jeff, Everyman of 20th and 21st centuries and so much more.

What new invention or turn of words will he put in print?

This man is a man who makes his own rules, his own way,

His way is that of a gentle man so humble once he skipped his own birthday.

This poem is not done yet, just like Jeff—a work in progress.

Stay tuned….

CS Merrill

June 1, 2022

Jeff Radford Day in Corrales, NM

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