Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ulysses Bound

John William Waterhouse, Ulysses and the Sirens, 1891, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

In the original Greek, Ulysses is named Odysseus, and hence Homer's work about him is named The Odyssey

Ulysses Bound

Passing the siren
rocks in the fog of present
circumstance and strapped
to the white white spar
replacing the mast broken
by last spring's torrent,
I call out, respond
to your naked misty shape,
take the leather stripes.

May 9, 2011 7:35 AM

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

After The War-Three Word Wednesday

American forces advance toward a fortified enemy on Okinawa.

This week Thom has chosen the following words:


Go to 3 Word Wednesday for connections to other contributors.

I buried myself these last few days in Tom Hank's The Pacific. Ten hours immersed in the war with Japan on specks of land in the ocean named Peaceful.

After The War

You dared to call me
resolute. You saw as well
as I how my will
flopped right down mushy
on the steely shards of fate.
At least flowers grow
all fresh scent and new
pastel blooms, three per each bush
right across our graves.

December 30, 2015 5:01 PM

My father was a co-pilot in the Pacific campaigns of World War II. He was a war hero who though wounded, brought his badly shot up plane and two wounded crew members back home after the pilot was killed. He never flew in peace time that I knew of but he did favor English sports cars in the early fifties. I remember going for drives.

My step-father was a younger man. He got in the last of the war and was in the First Marines on Okinawa (and later in China after the war). I am fortunate that both these men survived, though their marriages to my mother did not. I believe my father and mother conceived me while he was on leave, but I believe he was home after his wounds and did not go back. My mother divorced him in 1947. My step-father married my mother in 1951. They did not divorce until 1969.

I don't know if my step-father was in the heavy fighting on Okinawa or not. He never talked about his war. I understand that many vets didn't talk about the war. I think they saw things better left unsaid.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Taking My Final

In baseball, a double play (denoted on statistics sheets by DP) for a team or a fielder is the act of making two outs during the same continuous playing action. In baseball slang, making a double play is referred to as "turning two" or a "twin killing".

Taking My Final

I broke my pencil
testing my mettle, sassing
the teacher with shards
of yellow hex wood
flipped his way underhand like
a shortstop cutting
off the runner on
second, looking for that last
one out double play.

‎May ‎7, ‎2011 11:00 PM
Edited December 28, 2015

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Roundabout

Again I have passed
you by, keeping solitude
instead of dropping
off the roundabout,
the posted route to spring and thaw,
merging left instead.

April 30, 2011 5:31 AM

Friday, December 25, 2015

What Happens When A Word Gets Old

Strike is an old Germanic word as a verb, why it is we strike, we struck, we were stricken. Not striked. That is what this poem is about. And the poem only takes a few of the meanings you can find for strike. Strike is one of the words that spread its meaning far and wide because there has been enough time for that kind of variety. We like coming to blows as a culture, I guess.

What Happens When A Word Gets Old
(And this just strikes the surface)

I shall strike my path
or shall I strike out, strike off,
make a bruise and more?
I am struck with thought,
stricken with the old dismay,
or shall I strike with
for the freedom of us all?

This spear, this hammer
is an ancient thrust
from the German ancestral
spirit, great value -
I shall strike your coin
and strike my new dreams like trout
in the mountain stream.

The clock strikes the hours
as I strike the brassy notes,
while we strike for pay
and then strike the set.

April 30, 2011 10:54 AM

A Streetcar Named Desire set strike from Alex White on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 24, 2015


To stand with you here
On the holy shore of time
Look what we have done.

Years of work fall away now.

Hear the loons in flight.
See the glint of light on waves.
Feel the wind fold us.
October 29, 2008 7:22 AM
Edited ‎April ‎29, ‎2011

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dust Bunnies - Three Word Wednesday

Christopher loses track of the deeper questions.

This week Thom has chosen these three words


Now I am to write something using these words and link to the Three Word Wednesday site for week No. 459.

Dust Bunnies

Now who will wander
with me along my life's edge,
kicking astonished
rocks and scuffing sand
with one grimey rough sandaled

I guess complete
fabrications have
been recently slipped under
my hard scrubbed shag rug
with the dust bunnies
that began whining vacant
strains per my half mast

December 23, 2015 4:48 PM

Sunday, December 20, 2015

If I Had A Daughter - A Magpie Tale

Image supplied by Tess Kincaid for the Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015 posting of Magpie Tales, Mag 299.

If I Had A Daughter

So I let her go
and she went to Luxembourg
by way of Gabon.
She hooked up with him
there and is now no longer
my sweet little girl
even though she comes
home sometimes, a flash of joy
in green, blue and gray.
Her darkened hair flows
in her recent style. She speaks
in European
and African French
though she still gets all her mail
near the kitchen sink
right here on High Street.

December 20, 2015 2:27 PM

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Take Me To The Field Beyond

Take Me To The Field Beyond

Take me to the field
Beyond this strange place I made
By choosing to fence
The wildlife away from crops
I thought so in need of me,

Of my protection.

Exhausted today,
Worn away with tidy work.
I need to stop this,
Let the wind find me.

October 29, 2008 7:00 AM
Rewritten April 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

True Love - Three Word Wednesday

Thom, in sitting with the three words you chose this week for a while, I got more and more vicious. You chose


Here's the result:

True Love

Your savage eyes rip
my skin off and blister what's
left of my sinew
no matter how I
try to settle you back down
after this latest
conflict between us.
Small wonder I'm like swollen
gas bubbles about
to erupt from volcanic
patches of boiled mud.

I get all tense just
thinking of how vengeful I'll
feel for the next week,
and how carefully
I will have to behave not to
create the trouble
I can deny I meant to,
whistling all the while.

‎December ‎16, ‎2015 4:34 PM

Has to be true love. No other state could produce such volcanism. Go to Three Word Wednesday to link to the offerings of the other contributors.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Herbie Hancock


Hanging in E flat,
doing as you've asked me to,
rising blood red tides
lifting me to you -
it's all in the brand new tunes,
all in this fine ink,
all in the quavers
that bind the world's melodies:
you have strung me out.

March 2, 2011 3:36 PM
Edited April 23, 2011

Sunday, December 13, 2015

In The Luft - A Magpie Tale

In The Luft

The war's not here yet.
They still let us out to play
though we now hear things
in the far distance
and see flashes of white light -
even occasional
actinic colors -
you know, colors that sicken
and make you shiver.
I try to keep staff
thinking I'm happy enough
to go on waiting
but I stopped writing
you seven weeks last Thursday
and would probably
scream if you showed up
today or ever again.
So while kids all pile
on, I stand aside
coated but ever so chilled
as I watch them swing.

‎December ‎13, ‎2015 3:52 PM

Written for Tess' Magpie Tales: Mag 298

My relation to this word "luft" comes from the German as in Luftwaffe. Luft means air or space in the way air is space. Waffe is waffen is force of arms. Thus Luftwaffe simply means Air Force in the German.

In English, Luft is also a term from chess: The luft is the space made for a castled king to give it a flight square to prevent a back-rank mate. Not said quite right perhaps. The point of castling is to put the rook forward in defense of the king and as well to provide one (king side) or two (queen side) squares for retreat of the king behind the rook. King side castling is slightly favored because the queen side is harder to defend. Also, in a developing game, each player can anticipate and set up to prevent castling before the fact as part of strategy. This can be desirable because in the early or mid game the king forced out of the back rank in mid-board is highly vulnerable.

Luft is so strong a German word that it spread as is into Danish, Faroese, Middle English (that old), two Norwegian dialects, Old Frisian, Serbo-Croatian, and Swedish. In all cases it means air, as in way high up air or the space there, where it is hard to breathe. Luft is a word in English but it is rarely used in modern English as is. However, luft's offspring is lift. Lift is as I am sure you will all agree a very common word. Also loft can have a sense of high up, as in lofty or aloft. So there you go. Language is slippery like this.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Lake Placid-Three Word Wednesday

Lake Placid, in the Adirondacks, New York.

I am behind due to being under the weather. This may account for my bloody turn of mind as well. I have alligators chasing my ass, as they say. On Three Word Wednesday Thom offered us these three words


The first two seem an obvious reference to the Lake Placid movie franchise. Oddly, the lake in the movie is not Lake Placid but instead is called Black Lake, Maine. Black Lake is not far from the village called Fort Kent, the home of the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

Lake Placid

The old newspaper
is brittle and open to
the page you last scanned
as I remember:
Obituary lower
right - weddings lower
left - and property
for sale - north shore, Lake Placid.
That alligator
screwed up the estate
sales up there and took quavers
and tones, lost semi's
hanging out with me
alone and all left dangling.

We were resonant
once, not yet broken,
but then you split your fresh peas
from my red kidneys
with acerbity
and rode off into the cloud
of my unknowing.

‎December ‎11, ‎2015 11:54 AM

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Road Rash - A Magpie Tale

Photo by Tess Kincaid

Utilize the contributor list to find this week's creative work.

Road Rash

My road worn spatial
turn of heart, my gears grinding
on the rising grade
lined with dull white stripes
and I worry will the brakes
hold on the descent?

I am pneumatic
and awash in old flood tides
so that I float high
though I bounce and roll
and then come to rest battered
on your city street
in drunken relief
beside the nativities
you offer my shade.

‎December ‎6, ‎2015 1:37 PM

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Bottom Line

The image is of plant cells containing chloroplasts, where chlorophyll is found.

This post is about the chemistry of life, particularly plant life. It is about how come plants are green leafed. It is about plant ichor and the fact that most plants utilize chlorophyll (type a) the same as most vertebrate animals utilize hemoglobin.

Chlorophyll is a term used for several closely related green pigments found in cyanobacteria and the chloroplasts of algae and plants. Its name is derived from the Greek words χλωρός, chloros ("green") and φύλλον, phyllon ("leaf"). Chlorophyll is an extremely important biomolecule, critical in photosynthesis, which allows plants to absorb energy from light. Chlorophyll absorbs light most strongly in the blue portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, followed by the red portion. Conversely, it is a poor absorber of green and near-green portions of the spectrum which it reflects, hence the green color of chlorophyll-containing tissues. Chlorophyll was first isolated and named by Joseph Bienaimé Caventou and Pierre Joseph Pelletier in 1817.

A similar story can be told for hemoglobin except that it reflects red the same as chlorophyll reflects green. The reason for the red reflection is basically the iron in the center of hemoglobin while at the heart of chlorophyll is magnesium. Probably the green of chlorophyll is caused by the magnesium at its heart. Both hemoglobin and chlorophyll serve similar critical functions in the bodies of animals and plants - the creation and distribution of essentials to life at the most basic level of complex organisms.

Interestingly, phthalocyanine is a manufactured popular bright blue pigment with a copper ion at its center. The copper ion is precisely where iron is present in red hemoglobin and magnesium is present in green chlorophyll.

Finally, when damaged the heme part of hemoglobin can transform into bilverdin (green) and bilrubin (yellow), which is seen in the color of bruises.

School's out for now.

The Bottom Line

Plants conform to life,
therefore eat the sun not raw
but filtered through life
and the rest of us
feed on plants or those who feed
on the bright green blood,
the magnesium
holding sun, or iron red
holding air the same.

April 18, 2011 4:15 AM

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fly Story

The housefly (also house fly, house-fly or common housefly), Musca domestica, is a fly of the suborder Cyclorrhapha. It is the most common of all domestic flies, accounting for about 91% of all flies in human habitations, and indeed one of the most widely distributed insects, found all over the world. It is considered a pest that can carry serious diseases.

The adults live from two weeks to a month in the wild, or longer in benign laboratory conditions. Having emerged from the pupae, the flies cease to grow; small flies are not necessarily young flies, but are instead the result of getting insufficient food during the larval stage.

Some 36 hours after having emerged from the pupa, the female is receptive for mating.

Even though the order of flies (Diptera) is much older, true houseflies are believed to have evolved in the beginning of the Cenozoic era. They are thought to have originated in the southern Palearctic region, particularly the Middle East. Because of their close, commensal relationship with humans, they probably owe their worldwide dispersal to co-migration with humans.

House flies are capable of carrying over 100 pathogens, such as those causing typhoid, cholera, salmonellosis, bacillary dysentery (dysentery caused by bacteria), tuberculosis, anthrax, ophthalmia (eye disease), and parasitic worms. Some strains have become immune to most common insecticides.

That the list of ills is this long is testimony to the long duration in which flies have been preying on human habitations. The diseases are spread through mechanical transmission of parasites, bacteria and viruses on its hairs, mouthparts, vomitus and feces.

House flies feed on liquid or semiliquid substances beside solid material which has been softened by saliva or vomit. Because of their large intake of food, they deposit feces constantly, one of the factors that makes the insect a dangerous carrier of pathogens.

The Cenozoic Era is the most recent of the three major subdivisions of animal history. The other two are the Mesozoic and Paleozoic Eras. The Cenozoic spans only about 65 million years, from the end of the Cretaceous Period and the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs to the present. The Cenozoic is sometimes called the Age of Mammals.

Fly Story

I've caught you napping,
the way your eyes work, compound
and deep shiny black,
and you fly backwards
as easily as forwards,
and sideways to dodge
the descending hand,
but I've caught you in a jar,
feel you cuss me out.

March 31, 2011 3:48 PM

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

In My Hut - Three Word Wednesday

The Muir Hut

Muir Pass is a mountain pass in the Sierra Nevada of California, United States, in Kings Canyon National Park. It is named for John Muir.

The pass is near the midway point of the John Muir Trail, which traverses the pass. It crosses the Goddard Divide between Mount Solomons and Mount Warlow, at an elevation of 11,955 feet (3,644 m). The Muir Hut, built by the Sierra Club, is at the summit of the pass.

This week Thom has chosen these three words


Now I am to write something using these words and link to the Three Word Wednesday site for week No. 456.

In My Makeshift Hut

In my makeshift hut
you will find no mirrored wall
and I walk around
in the nude as if
there are no splinters and no
passers-by the hole
I use for entry.
I am lackadaisical
about this fine fix
I am in but still...
in one corner I've hung drapes
to hide my rotund
form as I lie down
and try to find some good dream
about what we once had.

December 2, 2015 6:49 PM

It's doggerel but it does include the three words. It also keeps the syllabic form I use. It's also a match to my actual condition, sort of as I live now in a basement with rough cut floor beams close above my head. Oh well. I was just fired by a key medical clinic too. I have to sort this out with my doctor.

The Muir Hut Interior

Get Your Own Visitor Map!