Saturday, May 30, 2015

On The Spot Again

Araucaria araucana (commonly called the monkeypuzzle tree, monkey tail tree, Chilean pine, or pehuén) is an evergreen tree growing to 40 m (130 ft) tall with a 2-m (7-ft) trunk diameter. The tree is native to central and southern Chile and western Argentina. Araucaria araucana is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria. Because of the great age of this species, it is sometimes described as a living fossil. Its conservation status was changed to Endangered by the IUCN in 2013 due to its declining abundance.

It is the national tree of Chile.

There was a monkeypuzzle tree on Ellsworth Street around the corner from Oregon Street. I checked the Google street view. LeConte school is the same. The two houses on Oregon Street that were broken into apartments as a consequence of World War II where we had poor as churchmice apartments are still there. I think Glenn Seaborg's family lived at 2810 Ellsworth Street. For those who don't know and may care, here is the Wiki page for Glenn. He was a major light in nuclear physics and education both. Glenn T. Seaborg

On The Spot Again

What a freaky mess
you make when you come at me
like that, just like him,
questioning my soul,
tripping me, stripping my chest
of all my pretense
and I would rather
climb that monkeypuzzle tree
than answer your eyes.

December 27, 2010 11:31 AM

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Out Of Place

Free will being what it is, you can go places maybe you would not care to be if you knew a little more. I certainly had a checkered youth. Some of it came at my own hand and much of it not. I had a chance to rub shoulders with people in the San Francisco music scene before it was a scene. I traveled completely around the world with a stop along the way in a country rarely visited by white Americans, Bangladesh. East Pakistan then.

I started my entry into young adulthood by receiving an appointment to West Point but knew immediately I must get the hell out of there. That was just before Viet Nam and young lieutenants all went there to kick start military careers. Of course, many died. I fulfilled four years of my six year commitment in the active Army Reserve and then went to Bangladesh as a civilian. My military clock ran out as I was on the return journey back to the states. That was a legal way to fulfill a military obligation in those days, to be outside the country and too far from any military installation. Later they plugged that hole and made time spent that way dead time with the obligation waiting for you. In those days the clock kept running if you left town.

I have a college degree but it took from 1963 to 1981 to finish it. I became a dope dealer and smuggler in 1969 and never got caught. It came close though. I retired in 1971 after six years as an outlaw but only a couple as a full blown dealer. I never made much money. I just kept my dope really cheap and plentiful. I started straight life in a hotel working the night shift and there met the day front desk clerk. I moved in with her and never moved out for the next 23 years. '71-'94. In '73 we moved to Oregon and I haven't left Oregon since. I got my career in mechanical design in that move and I retired in 2009. In the mid nineties wife and I could no longer continue and I started my bachelorhood.

I have had two lovers since divorcing but not for a long time now. Now I mess around with poems. give good scratches to the cat and dog, and try not to spend much money because I have only a little. One of my former lovers looks after me and we are very fond of each other. She lives upstairs and I live in the basement. A young man studying to be a professional in opera also lives upstairs and a sequence of short term renters fills the third bedroom. I know what it feels like to be out of place but this time in my life is not like that.

What happens next, son?
What comes around the corner?

Goddam! I gotta
flinch again at threats
intended or not by him
and his dark minions.

The fallen angel
sings off key at his pleasure,
finding us far out
beyond the safe zone,
wandering as is beyond
the backside of God.

‎December ‎26, ‎2010 11:16 PM

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

World's End

The dust settled down
after you passed, laying on
us all, a thin film
coating every
outcrop of hope or dream left
after our tumble
on this bloodless plain,
this wasted dry and crackled
crush of graveled bones.

December 21, 2010 2:39 AM

This is a fiction, a very short story. Any resemblance to persons living, including myself, are highly amusing accidents.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Living With The Artist - A Magpie Tale

Still Life, 1907 by John Frederick Peto

Art provided by Tess as the Magpie Tale Writing Prompt for May 24, 2015.

Poetic disclaimer: this poem is total imagination and does not refer to any living person either here in Oregon or in Ohio lest I be crucified by someone. I don't know about you people but sometimes a poem goes where it will and I just work cleanup.

Living With The Artist

You hung your secret
on the wattled western wall
of our latest hut,
an old drab still life

(I never have taken to
your tastes in fine art)

that evokes the dark
for me and takes me into
the somber salts left
behind after seas
evaporate forever -
the flats where Johns race
rocket raw sand sleds.

Is there nothing more sere in
those treasures you keep?

‎May ‎24, ‎2015 3:12 PM

Saturday, May 23, 2015

I’ll Never Be A Poet

A year ago Irene Toh of Singapore and I traded poems back and forth for a month, an exercise in poetic dialogue.  Poetry is a language.  You can't just say anything in any way.  There are formalisms that must be met, if only distantly.  Even free verse is not that free.  That said, the talent for poetic language is not that difficult to muster at its minimums and most people can write a passable poem or two if only they beleive they can and try.  It is another thing to pump out thirty poems in thirty days.

See Getting Back Together at Orange Is A Fruit

This is why these days there are many poet sites on line.  They gather poet communities, dozens and even hundreds of poets in the largest ones.  The main thing at these sites is a periodic poetry suggestion or prompt of some kind to assist the participants with poem production.

I’ll Never Be A Poet

I can’t even start.

I need more light than I have
and more grit as well
if I am to say
what it is that wakes me up.

You say the trances
take you and I guess
that’s what we should say happens.
It would be better
if unicorns grazed
in our nearby city parks
calling to the bold
in us to approach,
to mount, and then ride after
our retreating dreams.

May 5, 2014 3:11 PM

Friday, May 22, 2015

You Did Not Consent

This poem is an intriguing (to me) mix of history and story. A thread in this poem relates the beginnings of my married love. The rest is some other woman, some other man. The poem is not about my story, nor Ann's.

How I met Ann, I took a live in job at the Hotel Ste. Claire in downtown San Jose where I was to be the night man on the public floors where the bar was and the liquor store. Ann was the front desk clerk on the main day shift. She complained her car wouldn't start one evening and I took a look.

Hotel Ste. Claire, San Jose, CA
I have no skill at cars at all. I opened the hood and wiggled some things. Then I tried to start the car and of course it started right up for me. I was a miracle worker for fun and for free. Later, she had to stay in town rather than go home because of a quick turn around one night. I let her use my room during my shift rather than pay for one. A couple of other times she used my room to change out of day shift attire for whatever reasons.

That was the start of our 25 year long relationship. Not long after that beginning, we had gotten intimate and I moved in with her when my job came to an end. My job ended because the union people demanded my non-union college student presence be removed from their house. The union people felt that the hotel manager was trying to set a precedence for non union labor present at the hotel. I guess he was. I was clueless about that side of things of course and my rejection felt personal though it was not.

Years later, during the troubles near the end of our relationship she did say I was going to be sorry I was treating her this way. There were other people in my life who broke into loud laughter of disbelief when I related the many things Ann had said to me. Ann was wrong to paint me so poorly, but my friends also did not see into the heart of our marriage and saw too much innocence in me.

You Did Not Consent

When I let you up
from the place that I put you
your eyes flashed, you snarled
and cut into me
belaboring obvious
visions of what is
and what now is not.
I should not have taken you
up to that hotel
room and laid you down,
should not have done you that way,
and by God you will
be sure I will pay.

December 18, 2010 7:22 PM

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Continuing Conversation

There you go, release
the words in small flocks, tumbling
light in the near air
and see where they land.

It may turn out as soul balm
and then again not.

Poems have their own
intent as if they are born
beyond you and me.

December 17, 2010 11:25 AM

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Drinking Morning Tea

The heat of the tea
melts my heart and yours. The green
of the fresh green tea,
the dark of the black
breaks the fast of this young day
or some other shape
of things still to come
and I will see with your eyes
how it all begins.

‎December ‎17, ‎2010 5:55 AM

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Subtle Things

Best Subtle Storm: Gregory Alan Isakov

The periwinkle glow of Third Man Records' Blue Room is enough to make anyone feel like they're stuck in a Violet Beauregardian state of consciousness, but Isakov, a South Africa-born, Philadelphia-raised songwriter turned the place into an intimate living room serenade (even with Jack White's beloved taxidermy hanging overhead). Isakov's songs, wistful and often-string chugged, could blend into the landscape if they were a hair less sincere or a hair more weepy, but the balance here is just right. Crowded around a mic with his dynamite band, Isakov's presence was delicately hypnotic, proving folk music can be electric and impassioned without that virulent Mumford strum. —Marissa R. Moss

Read more:

Everything, all
the marbles from the dime bag
and the hope you bring
to my current digs
feathers my sight, promises
me wings and a new
perch in the crazy
scheme of subtle driven things
that still surround me.

December 17, 2010 3:58 AM

"the subtle driven things that still surround me..." I am on a journey into old age, where the body fails this way and that just like all complicated relationships can. It becomes ever more clear that my body is a society populated by specialists who reveal themselves in their departure for wherever they go when they leave me behind. I am grateful that for me the process is a weakening and slowing down that does not include very much chronic pain. I know many people suffer greatly. That I do not suffer much is why I see my process as a subtle one. I hope it remains so.

If this poem, which does suit my current situation is actually about my current situation, then it is prediction. In 2010 I had no idea what was coming in the main arc of my life. I am not usually able to tell the future. I think therefore what is happening to me must be universal or close to it.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Do I Need A Woman, You Ask

This is an old blind and deaf cat. My old blind cat lay in the sun this way and unfortunately the last time was her undoing.

I wish now that I had some photos of my old cats. I have had several who basically died of being too old and tired through all my years. They aren't much fun when they get so old but of course by then they are so much a part of me that I am destroyed when they actually die.

Right now I live with a calico named Celeste who is napping somewhere in this house at this moment and six feet from me Stella the part Irish Wolfhound is waiting patiently and napping, waiting for whatever comes next. Oh wait... the woman who walks her for me just came so Stella is now out for her evening walk.

Do I Need A Woman, You Ask

That arrow you shot
went past my ear, one feather
cutting just enough
to draw my red blood
in passing.

I did reach out
to push you away.

I had to stanch both
that cut and the other near
my heart, a deeper,
slicing cut you made
because I twisted too late
to get off scott free.

If I lie about
needing a woman then how
is it I lived well,
so well for seven
years, happy to return home
to the old blind cat?

May 5, 2014 2:48 PM

This poem is written in collaboration as a response to a poem by Irene Toh called Dali & I where she stated
"You said you didn’t need a woman.
I think you lie." as the last two lines.

This is one poem to another.
In real life both the challenge and its response are murkier.
Gotta go - can't catch me!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

All Is Not Light - Three Word Wednesday

Ruby Assassinates Oswald

All Is Not Light

I'm coming for you
no doubt and I shall pierce you
in your fleshy parts,
skewer you clean through
the darker regions
of your quivering
heart. I have found out about
the current bitter
state of your bad jokes
and I am not laughing, no -
not laughing at all.

‎May ‎14, ‎2015 4:22 PM

Thom offered the words

and I used them.

Go explore Three Word Wednesday

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Bed Stand Reading

The hotel on Maui in which we stayed during Ann's working sessions on the island is now owned by Marriott. I believe it was an Intercontinental hotel in those days. This poem is a true memory. In the course of Ann's social work career, she finagled three vacations for us. There were social work seminars which qualified as continuing education for her, a professional requirement and also a tax write off. Two were at this hotel on Maui. One was in New Orleans, in a hotel at the very edge of the French Quarter.

The poem refers to the Gideon Bible which is placed in nearly every hotel and motel room in the USA. It also refers to a Japanese Pure Land "Buddhist bible" placed in the rooms at the hotel in Wailea. Pure Land Buddhism is the most popular Japanese Buddhism despite all we hear of Zen, which is another form of Buddhism entirely. The distance between Pure Land and Zen is very large and I have struggled and failed to find a Christian counterpart to try and illustrate it. I presume the Buddhist work was placed in the rooms to please the huge inflow of Japanese tourists who vacation on Maui.

I read that Buddhist book during my visit and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Bed Stand Reading

In my hotel room
I looked for you, Gideon.
Instead in that space
I found the Buddha,
Amitabha and Pure Land,
found in Wailea
on Maui - what fun!

Better than tears, my pilgrim,
better still, nothing.

August 8, 2010 1:37 PM
Slightly modified, May 13, 2015

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

And I'm Sixty Five

It's gotten real. I am pushing 70. Back five years ago I threw an age snit.

And I'm Sixty Five

So I looked within
and found the old emptiness
still snarling at me
and I took off out
the friggin door and met me
coming and going.

It just sucks being
this way but there it all is
with the big dark hole
calling to me to
fall in and shatter into
ten thousand pieces.
Maybe growing up
helps but then again maybe
not - hasn't helped yet.

December 15, 2010 5:10 AM

Monday, May 11, 2015

Last Things

Last Things

I've heard you'll lose weight
with your last breath, twenty-one
grams will fly away
going somewhere bright,
I suppose, somewhere rosy
and better than here.

Left behind, a bag
of bones and suet and sinew
largely food for those
who live on last things
but those hazy twenty-one grams
are long gone by then.

December 14, 2010 3:58 PM

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother Pray For Me - A Magpie Tale

Image offered by Tess at Magpie Tales, Mag 269
Go there to find links to this week's contributions.

Mother Pray For Me

How can I offer the truth
of the moon and dust
that falls flat back down?
I did not go despite claims
to the contrary.

Instead I tucked me
in behind desert boulders
and threw my air pack
behind some others
nearby where gila monsters
nibbled at the cloth.

They ate holes in things
and the fire ants ate my knees
as they will given
time. I gave them time.

Here your halo shines out loud
well beyond my false
hooded fears as you
pray for all the high flyers
who've left this planet
for the last damn time.

May 10, 2015 2:17 PM

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Long Quest

"Sir Galahad" by Arthur Hughes
[The long quest of Galahad, Lancelot's son, is encouraged by supernatural beings.]

Sir Galahad - 'The Quest for the Holy Grail' by Arthur Hughes (1832-1915). '"[King Arthur’s knights] agreed that all would go on this quest, but…they thought it would be a go forth in a group…so each entered the a point that he, himself, had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no path.”...If there is a path, it is someone else’s path, and you are not on the adventure.' ~ Joseph Campbell

The Long Quest

A lonely grieving
God has called us these odd days
to take up the task
and spin crazy yarns
as we traverse rocky shores,
take up the long quest,
take the shape required
to continue no matter
what, no matter what.

Perhaps somewhere we
will embrace. Until that day
we will pray and pray.

December 14, 2010 4:41 AM
Changed one word, May 8, 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Joni Sings Both Sides Now

Joni Sings Both Sides Now

Was so long ago
and she sang it as I lived,
no hollow spaces
just the corners turned
and standing right proud in light
of the noonday shift.

I can hardly take
the force of it in my gut.
I will come undone.
Oh sometimes I don't
get how they stand in the front
and take the crowd's roar
or how you are on
time like this, always on time.

I started running
late, always too late
to catch your ever loving
ways, not for years now.

‎April ‎20, ‎2014 10:27 PM

Written in collaboration with Irene Toh of Singapore:
Both Sides Now

To be complete, here is the Wikipedia history site on the song,
Both Sides Now

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