As in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, the holiday season pulls together our
memories of past actions with the wishes that we had done things differently; present-day dilemmas as we try to wade through them and make sense of them; and glimpses of the future with all the hopes and dreams that we wish will come true. All these elements come to life in William Tecku’s “Christmas Coffee.”
This scroll contains blends of real and surreal elements mixing happy, hopeful childhood memories of past Christmases as it melds with harsh realities of Christmas present and the dreams for Christmases yet to come. This presents a social commentary that reflects the current turmoil in the world and humanity’s never-ceasing wish for simpler and happier times that we recall from the past. This is most apparent in Scroll XII which contains references to global warming, war, fading religious beliefs, credit-card debt, and the death of common sense.
Another element in this nine-page scroll that piques my interest is the juxtaposition of 1 A.D. events that are sprinkled with modern-day slang and artifacts, as seen in several sections of the scroll. This purposeful discrepancy places the distant past right into our 2022 laps.
Scroll IV offers us a transformation from despair to hopefulness as in Scroll V when Mary, Joseph, and their baby successfully escape into Egypt. This rings true of life experiences and how we attempt to cope with problems by conjuring up a better future.
Also, as in real life, this scroll mixes secular, historical, and religious events and ideas. Tecku does this through his imaginative narratives about traditional Christmas activities such as attending a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, going to movies on Christmas, the actions of Roman Legionnaires, and the birth of Christ and those central to it. This reflects the complexities of life and the decisions we make that determine what we choose to believe or disavow. Similarly, we see the ancient Three Kings joined with the modern-day narrator as they all grapple with the same types of internal struggles in Scroll IX.
Overall, this multi-part Christmas writing gives us much on which to ponder and reflect. Its sections offer enough variety and diversity to touch everyone’s life, disappointments, biases, beliefs, hopes, and dreams in several ways. As it was in first century Anno Domini, hope for the future keeps us going, and William Tecku does give us hope in his “Christmas Coffee.”
The heart! Just stop to think of all the connotations that are associated with that most vital organ. Our hearts can melt, harden, or figuratively bleed. We can be accused of having a heart of gold or a heart of stone. We cross our hearts to signal the solemnity of a pledge. Our hearts reflect our emotions by knocking, sinking, or skipping a beat.
We may be judged as being faint of heart, all heart, or lacking heart. We memorize things by heart, and when we suffer, we bear a heavy heart. We can show the world what we are thinking when we wear our hearts on our sleeves or when we pour our hearts out. We can brace ourselves by recognizing our heart’s desire, by feeling our heart go out to another, by lacking the heart to undertake something specific, by beating ourselves up for a wrong decision when we eat our hearts out.
Our heart can dictate physical action when we follow our hearts, become sick at heart, or when something warms our heart. My favorite heart actions, however, are when we act young at heart and when we undertake something with all our heart.
William Tecku’s “Heart to Heart” scroll reflects heavily on those last two elements. The reader can observe the speaker in the scroll as he falls in love and how his love matures and morphs into different types of love as life progresses and he ages.
The remembrance of his life-long love keeps the writer young at heart and in ever-lasting awe of the power that love has over his life. Anyone who has experienced love and all of its various transformations can identify with the writer’s emotions and adoration toward his loved ones.
Reading Tecku’s scroll proves that he has put his entire heart into capturing these memories, dreams, and hopes and putting them into words.
“Heart to Heart,” a 3,600-word, six and one-half foot long, horizontal scroll, was distilled from dozens of my reflections about the heart written over the last forty-five years.
Because matters of the heart go beyond what the arts generally associate with them, this twenty-one-part writing is a freewheeling mix of subject matters and styles. This may strike readers as incongruous, however, when I consider what Faulkner wrote about the heart in his 1947 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, what is shared and how it is shared in this scroll makes sense to me.
Why so many people have written poetry and prose about the heart, sung about it (especially when it’s broken), spotlighted it on canvases, on stages, in photographs and films is beyond me. I guess all this attention to that part of us whose beating beyond our chest keeps us alive is that sharing one’s thoughts about it is a lot like giving advice or like kissing: It feels pleasurable and everyone feels qualified to do it.
I only know that I publish scrolls because they are fun to create and their open-ended format lets me explore literary breathing beyond the traditional letter or legal size page. As with my other scrolls, whether you sip or chug-a-lug “Heart to Heart,” please, don’t hold your breath. Let its breath hold you.
One-half of my life I have lived in Eden and have a yellow, triangular, foam, Cheesehead hat to prove it. The other one-half of my life I have roamed and resided west of Eden.
Although a maverick, certain places and people, realities and mythologies of this western part of America have branded my mind’s eye like a coyote’s midnight yelp brands the wind and the ears of earth riders like us.
Only a few syllables of what lies west of Eden unroll in this scroll. The rest lies in plot maps, under city lights, and within the unfenced mind. This realm does not kowtow me to wake up in OZ or in Kansas. It does not spur me to “Go west, young man!” It does get me off the fence about what I dream about when I leave Eden for a while and follow the setting sun.
Want to take a ride west with me? Come on. I won’t buck you off.