Spike

Keep going, shine on and rep the  word
As another round of days unfurl
Adventures vast and desserts sweet.

Peace in slumber, joy in days,
ride the wind of dragon wings
across the shores and surf.

Rest in friends and lounge in laughter
until the candles tint the air
reminding all of times we share.

Happy Birthday,  friend!

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Let Her Be Her

Often, we ask the children their preference
then overrule their choice
out of our own fear of being judged.

The celebration calls for the wearing
of unicorn dresses with rainbow leggings—
at least in her mind. Please let her wear
that unicorn dress before it no longer means
magic, before conformity fills her mind
and brainwashes her soul.

But no, the pink dress with daisies
must be chosen–as is appropriate.
She still sparkles , the cutest girl in the world.
But the unicorn tulle and matching striped tights
with toes painted like tiny yellow hooves
and her golden alicorn headband sit crumpled
on the closet floor until finally, like the belief
that she is one with these majestic, mystical beings
get packed away–

so adulthood begins–
at kindergarten advancement.

 

 

 

 

 

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Who Chopped Down the Cherry Tree?

Something in the night awakens
when the children sleep deep
down into the caverns of their dreams,
when I wake to the bullet whizzing
and constant tapping of the media’s
microphone pointed right between
my eyes where the sleep should be.
I hide my discomfort and constant
yearning to sit quietly away
from the anxiety surrounding me.

What have we come to? Where
hides the solace? From whom
must we run tomorrow, from
whom must we risk our love
of life, of liberty, of peace of mind.

A lizard crosses my path
scurries up the ailing redwood
finding a niche to hide within.

Can we no longer laugh about
what seemed innocuous before?
No. We cannot.  Only politicians
deride freely. Faith becomes
an act of courage, the cherry
blossom a reminder of what
once was.

 

 

 

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Raindrops on Red Rocks

It rarely rains when I visit Sedona-
Snow, yes, that happens from time to time,
but rain, not so much

Despite that, the earth is ready for it–
the smallest gullies and large washes
wait for the gushing with a perpetual yawn.

The flowers stay fetal and curled
Until the drops turn to rivulets
And trickles turn to torrents.

And then, blooms open as the sun
Bursts from behind its cloudy curtain,
Within in a time lapsed moment, water

vaporizes into the blue skies.
I climb a small red rock hill and listen
to the Native flute in the distance.

IMG_5120

 

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A March Day to Remember

Eating breakfast this morning I looked
at my bowl of Cheerios, the aged cereal of toddlers,
and thought of you. You came to mind
when I passed Falcon Ridge Drive yesterday, too.
Of course, while sewing I looked for that
tiny angel doing the two-step on the head
of my straight pin as my ear swiveled to catch
a Thelonius Monk tune coming
from my neighbor’s window. I remember
that it was that tiny winged-bugger
who prompted me to head to the south end
of Long Island a few years ago where
you and I sat at a lunch table with your fans
and ants and writers who thought heaven must
feel better than this, but not much.

I wonder often at the genius of you.
Reading, observing, then writing, finding
the twist, the wit, the silly-billy truth.
And me, the wannabe, who smiles
knowing that confidence makes the man
and you have rarely lacked that,
or so it seems, as you speak to thousands,
silently chiding the cats who pursue poetry
but who have not yet mastered prose.
You dog, you. Already beautiful as you
pen the next poem and ride the next wave.

Happy Birthday, Billy. You are
one for the ages and you, sir,
have made all the difference to me.

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A Song For You

Each morning dew or sunlit hue
Invites a thought of gratitude

A simple note or selfless deed
Reminds me of the friends we need

A friendly face in every place
Keeps me mindful of all grace

Your presence here imbues my life
With heart and smiles and giggling light

For all the words that might be found
There’s not enough to go around

May Christmas cheer your every mood
And laughter lift your solitude

That peace and love will fill your home
And memories comfort when alone

It may just be work or daily strife
But you contribute such good to life

My wish to you and those held dear-
a peaceful break, a joyful year.

 

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The Great Divide

As the Mississippi River slices, sometimes a mile wide,

through the green fields of our southern states,

or the upheaval of the Rocky Mountains,

higher and more crevassed than

the Appalachians to the east or the Sierras

to the west, scar the plains,

we hope.

 

Just as the Pacific currents swirl

to unfathomable depths, the voids off the continent’s shores

teem with life unknown.  While above, lightning bolts

split the spacious Montana sky, and rains

pound rivulets in the already furrowed farmlands

where the amber grains will again wave in spring,

we hope and are thankful.

 

Just as the feeling of disconnection

polarizes our people–people, not unlike

the Wampanoag and those Puritan immigrants,

who all wanted something better for themselves,

their children, their neighbors–but perhaps

have forgotten because of the distance forged by words,

that our histories and our futures are bound

inextricably together,

we hope and give thanks and pray.

dscn4957

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Grand Fathers

Poems hide in school desks and annuals, scribbled
or crafted by boys and girls, bakers or bards,
praising fathers for fatherly things, which
may make this poem redundant, or at least unnecessary.

But it must be said: Great fathers got nothin’ on my dad
(Billy Collins, you must forgive the vernacular).
And everywhere Fathers and Papas and Dads
excel–it’s like half the adult population;
doing things right by their children.

Grand fathers, they are. Those who fought in great
wars, those who raised children alone, those who
sacrificed, toiled, and loved beyond measure,
like my grandfathers, Louis and Homer.

I did not know them, but I think I actually do.
I see them in the eyes of my father when
he hugs my daughter. I see them in the eyes
of my husband when he loves our son.

I know my grandfathers when I see kindness
and wisdom in my uncles and cousins,
when I hear the stories about cooking or fishing,
building things or fixing cars.

Grand fathers raise up grand sons and we,
daughters, sons, wives, husbands, all,
pen our utmost thanks, have a barbecue (or tacos),
and anxiously await….the dubs and cavs.

Sorry, boys.
Plans and poems change when a game 7
happens on your Sunday.

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When You Were Five

Because we met you then, and knew for sure,
despite your crooked bangs, your wrinkled clothes
in a green lawn bag, we loved you. Your tiny teeth
and hands, happy about seeing our pet

Deer and raccoon; ours because the river
flows through our yard like our love
never ebbed for you with your tangled
words and constant gaze, your “I do it,”

Phrase; we loved all of you. So fierce
your independence, so honest your tender care
of small creatures and even adults who had somewhere
wronged your youth and robbed you

Of some part of life only to leave you
the special gifts that we so fortunately
will have a lifetime and beyond to cherish.
We proffer our love in exchange for your

Perpetual silliness. Our coffers overflow
with your bright lit soul, reminding us
that your birthday is coming soon–
Oh happy day! When you were five

We were born, too. We, who are your parents,
worry about your future but know
you are kind, contemplative, and careful;
we know you can do it. We have seen you

In perfect form from the day we met you.
So, into adulthood you go. May you forever
know that there is no gift we can give that
can rival the gift you have brought to us,

when you were so young.

Happy 18th Birthday, Breanna! We love you.
Mom and Dad

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Upholding

Simply put, I cannot fathom
the fortitude needed to fight
for causes that matter more
than what I fight for: freedom
to speak my mind regardless
of politics, absent pretense.

Like yesterday, when the cat
teased our Beagle by lounging,
legs stretched out over the quilt
on the back of the sofa,
within a foot of the sliding door.
She was a mean tease, and I just watched.

Or this morning, as I entered
the office and no one sat complaining
about the elected stewards of our lives,
about their failure of forethought,
about the cost of their concerns.
My silence shattered my senses.

This weight is not the weight
of matter. These trials, trite
or troubling, can compare not
to the tirades of poverty,
abandon, or hate. Yet I feel
buried beneath them.

All conflict sits incongruously
in the back pocket of my jeans;
the desire to speak stifled
by some fear demon, who perches
like a medieval dragon and whispers,
“Cats are just that way, get over it.”

 

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To the Wind

I threw it off the cliff
and watched it curl on an updraft
leaving me yet again
clinging to the safe side

Two years ago I sat alone
in a coffee shop in NoHo
dreaming about writing,
scratching out the screenplay

Like etching a straight pin
across the surface of a balloon,
anticipation and ideas began clawing
my upper palette forcing me to mouth

Story lines and characters
rich as fabled producers in fur coats
lining the boulevards and quoting
the very lines of my mind

Two thousand keystrokes each hour
page after page of internal creating
mustered my courage until the wind’s lift
caught the edge of resolve

And that cautionary urge returned
as the hour to depart approached
and the muse of my soul retreated
as I dared to cast you in that film

And still the pages sit in a binder
On top of old jeans and covered
in layers of insecure dust
waiting for the wind to lift them up

Bring on the storm clouds, my friend.
I’m ready to throw you off again.

IMG_5868
The wind blows red and the fall leaves break from their branches and dance downward toward the river’s disturbed surface.
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Wrapping It Up

On we rush to New Year’s open doors
Hurried by the dropping ball atop
towers of brand names and amid throngs
of tourists from Earth’s every curved corner

And yet, we are unaccomplished
in our resolutions of peace and pounds. We weigh our thoughts on the scales
of global injustice and pardoned dreams.

What is it that keeps us hopeful
from year to year? Is Pandora still locked away in her spotified box,
beating her beatle drums for release?

With only a handful of days to go,
will the spice cupboard finally be cleaned and the dog bathed? Will the old plastic
lids and their mismatched bowls unite?

If we were to start walking toward Mecca,
will we arrive by sundown? Can iris grow through a blanket of snow?
I hear the kazoos warming up.

IMG_5740.jpg

 

 

 

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Just Because I Understand Does Not Mean I Cannot Be Amazed

Petrichor, fall’s denouement, presages

El Niño and our holiday eve’s peeling bells.

The hindsight on a pyrrhic year, reflecting

riparian beauty amid harsh new histories.

And then I read, “write  as if you were

talking to your friends.”

 

I am not sure why

yellow leaves make me smile

nor why rainbows surprise me.

Why it hails and how that differs from snow

always baffled me in first grade,

but my fourth grade teacher,

Mr. Hanson, taught me about weather.

Now I just smile in awe.

I often feel that way  at this time of year–

in awe.

The wood stove warmth and our Siamese

Spice curled up nearby also

remind me that my favorite season

has arrived–

just in time for Christmas.

IMG_6065

 

 

 

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These Moments

Driving the back way through the parking lot near the apartment,

I saw a woman who was walking directly into my path.

I figured I would have to press the brakes to let her cross,

and I was annoyed.

 

She was a few years older than me, her gray tufts

framing her slightly wrinkled face, her head crowned with

a red knit cap. I considered how she so boldly wore

a red jacket, red pants, and sneakers.

 

She was spry as all get out, you could tell.

The spring in her step not matching the early hour

nor my sedentary, half groggy brain. Her arms swung

a simple, but light rhythm as she moved.

 

I slowed, wondering if she was fast enough

to cross the road before I met her. If we reached

the crossing at exactly the same time, I could

see her eyes and maybe know more about her.

 

I proceeded on, but for a moment a tree

blocked my vision, I was surprised to see

she had retreated, turned around and headed

back from where she had come.

 

Sad that I had been annoyed, I wondered

about her life, her secret, her energy–

so positive even from a distance.

We would not meet, but I was happy we did.

 

 

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High School Counselor

Lights come in all colors and shades

And hues—And lights come in circles

Like the stoplight’s green and red.

Highlights rise above, while spotlights

point out what we should notice,

And sunlight illuminates and warms.

 

The light you bring every day of the year

Is, however, much like the candle of yesterday

Cheer: it twinkles a smile sheds light on the truth

And reaches the soul of our most lovely youth.

 

That’s what it is, a Soul-light of sorts!

It’s the very essence of bright and serene—

You calm and add value when things

Sometimes feel dark—and yes you are

Valued for your quirk and your spark.

 

Merry Christmas to you and to all

whom you love.

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More Than Thanks

When I looked out the window this morning,
the cat looked with me and mewed.
Leaves bustled everywhere and a squirrel
jumped from a high limb to the neighboring tree.

"It's Thanksgiving, you see,"
I said to the cat, who mewed again.
Either her voice or the realization
made me think of my grandmother's cat.

My grandmother had seven children.
They all married, save one. Some
married twice. Bucketfuls of grandchildren
and barrels of memories washed over me.

I give thanks daily for my simple life
and all the good that comes my way;
but I have learned a different lesson
as I age: thanks alone is not enough.

Ancestry aside, if I squander that 
which has been gifted me, being grateful
means little. So, I set to work, 
cleaned the dishes, prepared the food, 

paid the bills.Tomorrow I will wash clothes, 
make the bed, send a note of gratitude,
change the litter box again. Then, I said, 
I will try my best at everything else.

The cat mewed. Outside, wind warned the squirrel
about life's fleeting nature, about how important 
it is to get those ducks lined up in little
Martha Stewart rows. The thankful rodent, believing,

ran down the tree trunk, right into 
the jaws of the hungry coyote.

Thanksgiving? mused my prose-loving cat, 
who often knows me better than I know myself.
"Don't be a wise-ass," I say.
"Poetry is supposed to be profound."

IMG_5987

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The Fall of Fall

Leaves litter our yard while I

Contemplate the chaos in the news,

Illogical random acts and words,

that seem to chip away at our fiber,

igniting the tender tinder of our collective selves.

Does the roaming coyote know about

the bombings? Do the blue jays worry

about the faith-shaken? Does the wind

cry or simply dry the tears of the bereaved?

A million leaves keep falling in the breeze.

Tricolor hues light up while media spins

political views; I walk out to the river

and gaze up the valley at the fall colors

twisting play-wistfully high in the treetops.

Within a moment I forget

how utterly fallen I felt at the news.

When the towers went down,

I was not afraid. Just like with this.

There is not fear, but sadness–and shame

for the unkind reactions of the masses

and the murderous actions of misguided men.

And the wind rustles the bay and walnut limbs,

and  I move about my yard unscathed

in utter tranquility that so often is taken

for granted by the millions who raise their fists

and shout, “Revenge.”

As I turn to retreat inside, my beagle

howls and the pondering squirrel

scampers away.

The wind blows red and the fall leaves break from their branches and dance downward toward the river's disturbed surface.
The wind blows red and the fall leaves break from their branches and dance downward toward the river’s undisturbed surface.
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Storm Prep

Weather tight conduit

A real situation here

Press the wires gently

Good afternoon, passengers

No one is flying the plane

That’s the wrong one

If it’s not done right–they will  get you for everything.

Here comes the…

I think we are about to crash into the sun.

Is that right?

How does anyone know what not to do?

Check.

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On the Eve of 53

Getting older pretty much sucks

Unless, life began poorly,

a dearth of necessities and nurturing

and general human hardship

improving it over time.

Like me, for instance.

I came into this world

to parents who loved me,

grandmothers who guided me,

siblings who played with me,

eggs for breakfast, grilled cheese for lunch,

hamburger pie or Vince’s spaghetti

for dinner. Lots of cousins, a horse and barn,

oh, and the darn chickens and rabbits,

and even a cow at one point.

It was a pretty miserable beginning.

And then, I had to go to school—

college even. And Europe. I lived there

for awhile. Oh, and I had to parasail

once and scuba dive. It was pretty

awful.

Of course, I then had to get married,

buy a house, raise a kid, adopt a kid,

get dogs and cats, build a career

doing something I loved—see how it’s

all building up to that sucky part?

Now on the eve of 53, I still have

loving parents, a good husband, kids,

and oh, those grandkids, siblings, cousins,

fond memories of those iconic grandmothers,

friends, a bucket full of experiences

that make every day richer—

like seeing Casablanca after studying

the script for a week or cresting

Haleakala after watching the lava

spill of Kilauea.

It’s just lousy.IMG_5609

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Jaybird Settin’ So Near


Jay bird, jay bird, sittin’ on a limb,
He winked at me and I winked at him.
I picked up a rock and I hit his shin,
Sez he: “You’d better not do that agin.” (Ira Ford)

Daddy went a-huntin;, Daddy shot a bear;
Shot him in the ass, and he never touched a hair. (Bayard)


Jaybird, Jaybird, sitting in the grass,
Jaybird, Jaybird, sitting in the grass,
Jaybird, Jaybird, sitting in the grass,
Wiggle-wiggle went his tail, poop went his ass.

And the song continues throughout the hours,
Reminding me of fowl and feathers’ power,
You depart, remnants of your ruckus remain.
I spy the trees through the fallin’ rain.

Come back, little bird, and sing again.
I’ll throw another rock at your shin.
I’ll be nice and you’ll just sass,
I’ll toss my bleeding heart at your ass.

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Burning Built Bridges

Strip mall glass reflects
my weaknesses, displaying
my pain in public, exposing
my fallibility, my humanity.

Rivers of salty tears etch
stains into my freckled features,
my Estée Lauder wrinkles
my L’oreal auburness.

Who is it that can so turn
my strength to sadness, sapping
my good intentions by wielding
words tainted with honesty?

Was it Odysseus who heard
the siren or fought apathy
of the Lotus flower? Am I
as weak as the blinded Cyclops?

What truth will your tale
bring down? Whose words
swayed you into believing
that my words were lies?

How swollen that sense of self.
How embattled my sorrow.
No salve will remove these scars;
You cut the core of me.

So like Socrates I question:
What can I learn when next
approaches this opportunity?
Turn back across that bridge–
Become a salt pillar else.

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Simplifying

Make room for new. For more.
Threadbare socks–tossed,
unworn blouses—donated,
pants too faded, too tight,
too juvenile, must go
to the dustbin.

But the overcoat, full length,
forest green,long and wool,
warm enough for snow storms
and early Sunday morning
Straßenbahn rides–it must go.

The scent of old town Freiburg
lines its pockets. My coming-of-age
memories whimper as I bundle them all
off to the thrift shop, two pfennig
in the front pocket.

West Berlin. 1987
West Berlin. 1987
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Elapsed Lapses

Time intangible
teases the tender heart,
tricking me into believing
that feelings can be forgotten
that daggers can unstick us.

I walk the shoreline,
sand gritty on my souls.
Everywhere beauty fills me
as gulls kaw and tides rise;
I see your spectre in the
breaking waves. I search,
my eyes burning from
the vibrant sun.

And tomorrow arrives just
as yesterday did–quickly,
quietly, while my back
was turned away and I was looking
hard over the horizon
for what I thought I saw.

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Growing Up

Keep walking
The path is long
Lots of things to see and do along the way.

You never know what awaits around the next corner,
when you think you have it all figured out,
the path turns into ocean or air,
the way requires different vehicles
and navigational tools.

and always patience
for the becoming you.

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Ghost

Marooned in my mind, ruminating
about my last encounter with you.
Advertising fills the sidebars
of the internet pages
reminding me that you left me
with no forwarding address

and I cry every time
your name appears
because you died right before
my eyes and I could not
stop the blood

words rip me wide open.
Your words that leak
through the pages
of my screen and scream
“you do not matter to me.”

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The Corner Booth

Tucked behind two booths brimming
with aged dishes and doll heads,
sat a shrine to Hollywood’s Elmo.
You know, the famous Elmo Williams
who staged the battle scenes
for Tora Tora Tora.

Oh, you don’t know?
He won an Oscar for editing High Noon.
the Eastwood classic.
What? That doesn’t ring a bell.
You must be young.

Orphaned at an early age
Williams, created an impressive
resume, lived abroad
for much of his life,
really hit the big time.

Now, his biography sits
on a painted shelf
alongside some storyboard
sketches from another film.
His hat hangs lifeless

in a corner booth of the antique
store in Brookings.

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The Beats Go On

When Ginsberg walked the supermarket

aisles with Whitman, and Ferlinghetti

printed Howl despite or because of Allen’s

inability to use Sunday School speak,

Poets heaved enlightened sighs

and pressed their pen to paper

with a universal squeal of freedom

that sounded something like

a profane yawp.

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To the WInd

Ordinarily, I guard myself,
step squarely in the path's center,
take the worn one, avoid the vicious 
cardinal or rampaging squirrel.

Ordinarily, the pie is apple,
the side potatoes, the dressing ranch,
the drink koolaide.

Ordinarily, I take the Interstate,
not the blue highway, buy the Chevy 
not the Maserati, wear Keds not Jimmy Choo

Today, however, I am older 
by only a few minutes
and that has made all the difference.

The wind blows, and I move to speak up-
to toss caution high overhead so that 
the sun's rays, the ebullient raindrops 
bathe me in hope.

I am brimming with muse juice,
teetering on the rim of remarkable.


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Upon Your Graduation

Once, in a moment of sheer boredom
I went to the movies.
An actor raced a round boulder
dodging poisoned darts as he hunted
for the lost ark.

Years later, I saw a skit staged
between two redwood trees
at a high school down the street,
and the boy lit up my life–
been laughing along the way since.

At first, I could not nail
the connection; Spielberg and Ford
were not Spielberg and Hanks.
Afterall, the boy loved Hanks,
but Spielberg, huh?

Now, at the dawn of a new
adventure, the boy is pushing ahead,
boulders will not o’rtake him.
He is good because simply because he is.
Who is Spielberg , anyway?

And the connection lies
in the passion for the work,
the desire to make the quest,
the run of purpose toward
a holy goal–joy.

David, may the screen find you
fully and often–may your visions
be creative and fulfilling, but mostly,
may your joy come from living
the life you dream for yourself.

Godspeed.

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Abundance Bounding

Blessed with Emerson’s saddle-riding things,
free to feign or fight or formulate argument,
bathed in Pacific pooling tides, I thrive.

Love-rich lives meander doubly-sided by Brownian,
not Elizabeth Barrett or Robert, but Jerry-land jive.

Oyster pearls in my life illuminate the disparity–
between good fortune, good friends, and the global village
surrounding me. A queen bee in an agitated hive.

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On New Year’s Even

While no clock strikes twelve in this digital age,
the countdown still happens at a blistering pace.

The ball, pulled by gravity and cables, descends,
lights flicker, radiating the year's coming end.

"Ten" starts the chant and soon we reach five,
in seconds, fortissimo, the crowd hums like a hive.

A boy reaches out and pulls the girl near,
he plants a kiss, whispers earnestly in her ear--

"I have to go to the bathroom, but I have no clue,
Did you happen to see where they've parked the loo?"

HAPPY NEW YEAR All OF YOU!

(With the help of my granddaughter Kayla)
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Stages of Joy (after Robert Bly’s “Three Kinds of Pleasure”)

I
Trapped beneath a sheet of ice
that froze over at sound warp speed,
the duck flapped it’s helpless wing;
and the man jumped in and saved it.

II
Toddler with ice blue eyes
brought a book to my rocking chair
and asked for a story
to which I obliged.

III
Seated at the gas station curb,
the couple had two signs
about working for food;
I gave them a twenty. They smiled.

IV
His mother passed away
when his son was only a child;
he resolved to emulated her life
so that the boy would know her.

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Must I?

A bar of soap, a box of sweets,
A Starbucks card or two or three-- 
Gifts of obligations are not gifts.

The only gift worth giving is that of time.
An hour with a bedridden person
must be worth more than a new sweater--

Unless, of course, the person were cold,
and me a bore. Ah,yes. Maybe time would 

not be so great if I were disliked, 
despised, or wanting to drag 
an unwilling soul to the theater.

That might just do a person in.
So maybe, it's not time, but empathy,
showing understanding. Nah.

That ain't it, kid.
Showing concern for someone with less
does nothing. 

Action, that's it. Pull on your
overcoat and rain boots, fill a few
sandbags for the folks in tent city.

Right. That's got to be better
than giving a five and dime Magic 8 Ball
to the niece I only met once.

If I thought about the person 
for whom the gift is intended,
I would probably not give it.

I would write a poem about Emerson's
narrator who saw that "things
are in the saddle and ride mankind."

Or, I would pull out last year's 
wrapping paper, scotch tape, and scissors,
and disguise my apathy with a candle

from the dollar store.



Uncategorized

Paperweight Perspectives (For colleague Kevin Mount)

We on our daily paths 
circle mountain tops and trees, 
passing other travelers, who 
also journey north or south, 
from ocean shores to civilian seas.
 
Planets in their orbits, 
Circling round their stars,
buffeted by solar winds,
suspended within some vitreous
of a universe like ours.

Yet gazing on from afar
our often routine world,
looks peaceful, beautiful,
in fact, an artist's touch
might just reveal, a masterpiece,
unique and inspirational--
a life of infinite power.


Blessings and joy in the New Year. 
Kerry


 


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December 7

I remember this day

not because I was there

nor were any of my fore-bearers there

nor is there a song jingling in my head.

I remember this day

not because I am Japanese

nor Hawaiian nor in the Navy or Airforce

nor have I visited the sunken Arizona.

I remember this day because

back in fourth grade at the Canby 91 School,

the principal told us a story about a family

who gave up four sons to go fight the next day.

I remember this day because

I could never understand war, not really,

not the way politicians wanted us to understand it,

Because even 9/11 feels cowardly in comparison.

I remember this day because

it would be unpatriotic not to,

because loss riddles the holidays

as we smile and sing through them.

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Open Dialog

I’ll start: You feed me dung beetle manure

then expect me to care while you slip

into your usual sophomore depression,

you pampered prick of a prince–

no excuses, you hijacker of hope,

you femme fatale of a man.

I no longer love you, if I ever did.

Your turn.

 

 

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Looking Back

Was it the sweet or mashed potatoes
or football game or pie
that made the day so exquisite?

Was it the way everyone chipped in
to cook and clean and reminisce
about the mud bowl at the lot in 1976?

Perhaps it was the familiar scent
of sage and cinnamon drowned out
by children's squeals and chatter,

or maybe, just maybe, it was
the same old conversation about tires,
or how much people disliked Howard Cosell

even though there hasn't been a game 
called with as much vigor or vibrato
since John Lennon passed on a Monday night.

No, it must have been the thought
that even the old beagle Bosco
knew that we were thankful

for him and his sister, and the two
dreadful cats, the bills, the drought,
the high price of peanut butter.

Knowing how good we have it
amid all that is bad made me
grateful for dandelions, too.





 

 

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Walls

(On the 25th Anniversary of the fall of the
Berlin Wall, November 9, 1989)

Berlin DDR with its quirky, mistaken structure,
abided by the fearful, breached by the brave,
fooled no one into believing its pretension.

And that Great Wall, from space even seen,
zigzagging and crumbling and lasting only
as a tourist attraction of national pride.

Oh, and the wailing at the Western Wall 
in Old Jerusalem, where religion and identity
clash like firing squad bullets and death.

People build these walls for security, shelter, safety,
prayer or isolation; four or more can make a house. 
Oh, but how fragile they sometimes are; how quickly they can fall.

And the wolf and three little pigs found out 
about bricks, and twigs, and straw. See, rice paper walls, 
boy, stand no chance against a gale-force world.

Like you boy-star, adorned in your prima donna barriers, 
tolerated by teachers, sneered at by peers, 
crashing your own pride around backstage, as if. 

So build it high, lay foundations deep. 
As the tide rises, the earth quakes, the masses rebel, 
watch it lilt sideways; stand forever askance.
1987. A wall of fear.
1987. The first wall of fear.

					
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Boredom

A mixture of crawling time
and heart-racing anxiety.
Trapped by obligation,
muted convictions,
penniless, stagnated imagination,
a black hole of thought
stuck will-nilly 
like a centipede in sap.

No acetone can free me 
as I pace the hallways,
unfinished work gnawing
at my cortex, imaginary
vacations teasing my temples,
injustices burning 
from the inside out,
I stare down something.

So I turn to the page,
Reminding myself of great battles,
lost and found loves,
picaresque and profound
art, and I write 
to shake it off
but mostly to forget 
that I can never write of you.




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What He Said

That whole contradiction
between being and becoming.
Poor Rick, stuck in Casablanca
only to remind us that a sigh
is not a kiss, nor is having
to choose between them
a fundamental thing in life.
Time does not just go by,
it whirrs past us 
like the winds off 
a Saharan bluff.

The consistency of change
smooths our character,
polishes our personalities,
settles our psyches. 
I, like the anti-hero 
in the gin-joint of life,
want nothing more than 
to love with abandon
on a Paris balcony
or at the corner dive,
in downtown Inglewood.


 




 

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Bloody Writer

(On the second eve of Robert McKee)

Stories, told and untold, 
breathe life into the shells,
us.

Set-ups and payoffs, positive 
and negative charges ignite each
scene.

If Aristotle were to meet
me on the porch of my dreams
tonight,

he would scold me for asking
such obvious questions about poetic
devices.

I have hours to write, yet time
knows not the monster that eats
pages

as I pen them.

 IMG_0108
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Winding Down

 Time stands still–
     it is a damn good thing
     it is not the earth stopping;
     I would fall right off the edge.
 
As it is, the painful clock
     watching of academia,
    hunger pangs mid-afternoon,
    yawns of suffocation at work,
 
Clock hands beat in place-
     interminable desire to move on,
     stuck as if bent tines would
     forever halt them in their rounds.
 
I then realize that the clock
    does not control the time,
    nor do I. Someone tell the sun
    and moon and stars.
 
I will do it yesterday
     and tomorrow will be important
     not to repeat itself, and someone,
    please put new batteries in the clock.
 
 
 
 
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Aftermath

Moving from room to room,
like moving from house to house,
I wander empty like the closet
where your suits once draped
the hangers and shoes lined
the floorboards as mirrored
pairs. We, too, once reflected

in the full-length doors

framed in brass.

Vacated within a day,
loss without words.
And yet I know you are
out there meeting and greeting
connecting with others
who do not know
what they are setting
themselves up for.

You are the sea and the surf,
beguiling in your lure,
tame in your presence
yet terrible in your undertow.
To feel so alive and then so hollow
makes me wonder about
living at all.

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The Biography of a (Song) Cloud (after Billy Collins)

It is actually not that difficult
to trace the origins of a song.
It is certainly easier than trying
to trace that gust of wind back

to the billows from whence it came.

Just rule out now the notion
of listening for hours and hours
to cassette tapes and eight-tracks–
even vinyl discs unstacked from garages
of octogenarians to try and place its birth.

It is, however, difficult to imagine
the circumstances of the melody.
This song, for instance, given its
baroque beginning and its staccato
delivery, must surely be decades, even
centuries old. Formed on a warm,
humid evening near London.

Of course, the knowledge of music
informs us: the meter chirps along,
four beats to a measure, and the rests
purposefully pause us after the flurry
of sixteenth notes. The fortissimo
at the chorus conjures up Popes,
or at least men in robes.

Once played for friends and family

by its composer, it finally sat listlessly

on the wooden shelf, its notes

warding off the browned, curling edges

of vellum or papyrus or twenty pound

ultrabrite from the corner stationary store.

The first musician who found
its lifeless manuscript, the brittle
skeleton of staff after staff
of black dots and dashes,
symbols recognized by trained eyes
as the melody, plucked it gingerly
on an acoustic guitar, its jittery lilt
crying out the window, whining
for another player, another chance to be heard.

As luck would have it, that musician
rolled back up the gasping song
and carried it across continents
only to abandon it in a music wasteland,
a library of an old professor, where it
impatiently hibernated.

Ordinarily, that would be the end of things.
A new song would emerge. The old composer,
the first musician, the aged professor–
forgotten. Notes never to be heard again.
Oh, sure, a common measure may appear
from time to time; enough for one to
cry from the past, “Mine,” but most

would disappear,eaten by moths and bookworms.

But not this song.
This song lives on.

It did not die, nor would it ever,
for it is the song of the lark.
Or was it the nightingale? No,
it is the addicting chant of the jay,

infinitely stored within evolutionary mind cloud.
Each morning, it caws in my ear.
Each night, I listen for its proximity.

For certain, I would go my whole life with its song

pricking at my heart, creating emotional cloudbursts

in my day, happy to know it,
to have been lured by its
movements, its cadence. In following it,
I  tuned my life and tempered my loves.

To not have laughed and mourned,
been warmed by its windy whistles

or been jarred by its jeering squawks,
would make a life half-lived.
Its song will remain in my cloud
to be uploaded and downloaded as need
arises. My heart will sing along often
knowing the melody and the lyric
will lift me even to the grave.

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