Category Archives: Language

hidden in sight

She likes to nest in the seasonal swag on our front door,

even with better natural options in the burning bush on the corner

or the Japanese maple in our neighbor’s yard,

our roosting house sparrow waits, en garde.

Perhaps it is the safety of a solid wall,

the camouflage of her twigs and grasses and straw

among the bundles of dried vine, hydrangea blossoms, glistening and false.

or this perfect window to a world as she “twee-deeps” her calls

Perhaps she shares some insight to other songbirds

hidden within the sound of her chirping words.

Water Cycle 2019 (after Newman)

What has happened down here with the climate change
Storms built in from the north and it started to rain.
Rained real hard and forever and a spell
And the bottoms filled up ‘round the lake at Dardanelle.

The river rose all day.
The river rose all night.
The bayous backed up in the flood.
Some bridges now are clean out of sight.
The river spread clear from the Ozarks to the Ouachitas,
Roaring water through the streets of Arkansas.

Isn’t it a cryin’ shame.
This is melted glacier water’s way.
The water cycle’s here to stay
Isn’t it a cryin’ shame.

The leader-man came down from that place he reigns
and a yes-man with an i-phone in his hand
The leader-man says, yes-man isn’t it a shame
What the water has done.
Where’d it come from, yes, watch it rain.

Isn’t it a cryin’ shame.
This is melted glacier water’s way.
The water cycle’s here to stay.
Isn’t it a cryin’ shame.

*******
In homage to Randy Newman’s wonderful song “Louisiana 1927.” The song has been rattling in my head for several days, as I continue to see remarkable and sad footage from a region of the US that I am very familiar with. I do not mean to look upon other’s misfortunes lightly or with malice, but I felt the need to say something. I hope and pray for the safety and quick recovery of all of those in harm’s way.

Being Something Else

To wonder if our evolutionary
ancestors made such split second decisions:
not just to swim ahead in fear of survival
to evade a larger predatory fish,
but about whether to swim back a few feet
with purpose to look at a beautiful pebble,
or to creep to the water’s edge
and feel the silt and sand for a few moments,
then return to the deeper water.

Until one day,
it was past three seconds
in the sediment, and they decided
they were no longer fish.

On birthdays, memories, and top 5 lists

This past week I celebrated another birthday.  It was a milestone, being number 55. This year events coincided that made the day just a day.   My wife recently had back surgery and is recovering at home (doing well, but still has pain).  My eldest son is busy with work projects and a new baby.  My youngest son lives elsewhere and had to work (though he did call and we had a great conversation).  Good friends had other family obligations or were traveling.  I worked all day.  In fact, this is one memory of my birthday that will go down as being one of the most unremarkable.  For that alone, I will probably always remember it.

I will count the small kindnesses/gestures along the way:  The balloons shared by coworkers who recently turned 55 this month and like to tease each other about who is older.  We now have a special club – and I will always get used balloons because of it.  The blueberry pie made for me by a family friend who was looking in on my wife as she recuperates.  The phone call from my youngest son to wish me a happy birthday. The adorable phone call from my parents singing “happy birthday” in different keys.  Note:  My parents are career musicians and are never off-key.  Greetings shared on social media (FB) from friends and family – far and wide- hoping that I had the greatest day – the best day.   Yet, it was just a day, and I guess there is nothing wrong with that.

I reflected on past birthdays  and wondered what made a day the best day – the greatest day.  I’m not sure I have the answer, but I did dredge up some good memories of birthdays.

  1.  On my eleventh birthday, I received my first vinyl album as a gift from my parents.  It was Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles.  I had recently been introduced to their non-mop-top music by a school friend, and was immediately smitten with the lyrical genius of John Lennon on I am the Walrus.  It would be the first of many vinyl albums I would receive on my birthdays/Christmases.
  2.  On my 13th birthday, I had a sleepover party with 8 friends. I think this was my first and only sleepover birthday party. We ate hotdogs and hamburgers, played badminton, wiffle-ball and touch football, then roamed around the neighborhood after dark – playing  ghost in the graveyard.
  3. On my 27th birthday, I received my PhD.
  4. For my 40th birthday,  my wife purchased third base line tickets to a AAA baseball game in our city.  We went with some dear friends (one each of our children share a birthday) we had recently reconnected with.
  5.  On my 50th birthday, I was traveling in Germany with my eldest son and my father.  We were in Nuremburg on that day and visited Coburg Castle.  Facebook likes to remind me of that day every year and I smile.

There are memories of other birthdays,  but all the things that make days special are there in that list: meaningful gifts and gestures, landmark events, good food and fellowship, and exciting adventures in new places.

They are still just days – though,  and I hope you have a great one.

 

 

 

mottled

The once-blossoms from pear trees
pushed along in eddies of air,
gather in piles on pavement,

Teardrops darken the soil
where they impact – craters form
and moisture seeps away,

While blackbird nests dot between branches,
the sky torn with their cries;

lined-through words leave only
articles and prepositions,
no substance or action –
and scuttles the memory for lies.

Ireland, here or there

I recently traveled to Ireland with my son, and we experienced the wonderful scenery, the friendly people, the history, and the delicious food and drink that this island has to offer.  We flew into Dublin – and after an exciting time on Saint Patrick’s Day – we set off by rail to the western, more wild part of the country.  The scenes from the train changed from urban to countryside, as we made our way to Cork.  All the little village stops along the way were quaint and the conductor would announce the stop in both English and Gaelic, concluding with a thank you:

Thank you for riding Iarnród Éireann. (Thank you for riding Irish Rail).

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To my ears, it sounded like he said, “Thank you for riding, here or there.

This thought resonated throughout the journey as we went by bus or shuttle to remote locations or simply walked through villages and towns in which we spent the night. There is something exciting and wonderful about rambling through the country-side and discovering new places.  Whether it was the colorful row how houses above Cobh harbor or the barren stones and sea/landscape of the Burren, forests near Killarney or the city street, Ireland offered what seemed like all possible combinations.  And these were accessible from points A and B or C or…Z

Just by what seemed a random direction, any number of beautiful sights and experiences could be found by wandering.

It is no wonder then, that the Irish poets and storytellers, or those that emigrated over the last couple of centuries, spoke and sang so fondly of this beautiful country.  It stands in stark contrast to the tragic history of conquest, famine, civil war and unrest that has plagued the people of Ireland over the centuries.  Both sadness and beauty erupting from the same surroundings is remarkable, and dare I say, poetic.  The countryside simply cries and laughs and inhales – everywhere you look.

Here or there.