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Category Archives: Arts, Poetry and Music

Poem #2

If I cooked like you, I’d start with a box of recipe cards
Heritage, very precious, perhaps worth some money, published
stored under six other heavier boxes of old textbooks
in a locked storage unit across town.
I’d have key, somewhere
Where was it, again?
It will turn up eventually, for sure.

In that box would be a card
with a recipe for divinity
which had never actually set properly
any of the times your mother made it,
but if only the temperature and humidity were just right,
it really would be to die for.
I would remember her making it,
and would put it on the menu for our anniversary–all for the
special memories, sweet smells,
and a burnt pot that had to be thrown out.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2017 in Arts, Poetry and Music

 

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Poem #1

When I went big
Pop!
Something opened
in the wall behind which
I typed, unknown.
Voila! They all marveled
and wanted what I had

Contemporary fame is arbitrary
a viral meme
picked up by chance.
Yet why not pretend
it was meant to be–
me being, after all
a genius.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2017 in Arts, Poetry and Music

 

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Borrowed meaning

Meet me at the bus stop, Jesus. And if you have anything for me to add to my luggage, make it your own home brew.
I don’t want to consume that ready-made any more, though I’ll keep that fact to myself a little longer.
Just like depression, most people don’t want to know when you’re losing your religion.
Borrowed that story about you for so many years, and it wasn’t even yours. Second hand from some other emperor, maybe a tribal chieftain too.
Mistranslated, double switched meanings (literally!). Not your fault, as usual.

It’s true the more you learn, the less you can admit to knowing.
Then why don’t learned people teach less and less, instead of more and more?
Hoping to tie things up for the next generation, fix a temporary stake, to slow the backsliding they felt in their times of midlife crisis

Dark and light, equinox and blazing glory, peach and good will (now to all genders).
I always knew about the glory.
But no need to light up a tree or ring them bells for that–just look out the window at those chickadees,
And that’s on the darkest day of the year, all in shades of gray,
Tiny beetles under delicately curling bark, pupae asleep in the mud, lilies already pushing up points of green.
All those selfish gene propagation machines can’t hide the glory.

Still, is it to be avians and asteriods only on the tree, felted and embroidered, from now on?
Are we keeping the manger and decorated camels for old time’s sake?
Must have the lights, at the very least–starved for light I am, these days.
And of course, one must have the balls.

 

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It’s never too late for a literature virgin

What a fine thing that I never studied English literature beyond high school. It was a slog just to get through that, and after tenth grade I refused to take honors English, because there, not only was one told what to read and write and by when, but there was a greater quantity of both!

And so when I went to university, formal English Lit had made very little impression on me. All that lingered was a few Shakespeare soliloquies and the definition (and spelling) of soliloquy. In college I had a few friends who were majoring in English, but I really couldn’t understand why, at the time. It turned out that one became an actor and the other an English teacher. So I really can’t blame them. And I understand now that they were ready and willing at that young age, while it took me another twenty years to want to take college English. I even managed to side-step the college first year “writing requirement” class—usually English—by taking a German class with a once-a-month off-the-top-of-your-head one hour essay on one’s choice of a list of topics. My favorite kind! I’m sure you couldn’t get away with that now.

It’s not that I didn’t like to read or write. On the contrary, I did so voraciously, since my love for the Word survived those few years of formal study intact. I’d go to the college bookstore and pick things out of stacks for courses I wasn’t takingnot being required to read them made them even more attractive. I went to second hand bookstores, book fairs and tables, wandered outside of my major’s zone in the library stacks. I read with attention, to enjoy and learn, not to highlight, memorize, critique or dissect. I sometimes neglected my lab write ups, stayed up too late reading other things, and spend too much on books. On holidays I started to pay more attention to my parents’ library, beyond stringing the titles together to make funny sentences, and asked Dad for recommendations.

It was a happy alternative to the kind of analysis English majors have to do. Seems now to me that most are too young then to have much of the life experience to really see what’s there, what themes one lives and conflicts arise worthy of literary interpretation. They should just be absorbing, offering commentary only when they feel like it.

I still enjoy a sense of wonder, sometimes warming, sometimes joyful, sometimes piercing, in reading. Especially when I rediscover thoughts penned decades (Huxley’s After Many a Summer Dies the Swan), centuries (George Eliot’s Romola), even millennia (Plato’s Republic) ago that are so timely, fresh, and relevant they could have been written yesterday. When I think of this generation missing that because of much readier and more entrapping entertainments, I want to stand on a high school cafeteria table and exhort everyone to Repent and Return to the Word!

My ignorance has often led me in interesting directions. Other than following up on recommendations that arise from a great conversation or a previous book, one of my favorite methods for finding new material is to randomly peruse the library stack. Bookstores are great, but expensive, and are intent on moving the product, so have to get a bit “in your face” with displays of the newest stuff, the best sellers. I guess there’s some validity to choosing from best seller lists, a bit more than in the realm of grocery shopping or Christmas gifts, but I’ve never been keen on trusting Most People, even Most Readers.

I’m not really against studying English literature–all this is meant to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Somewhat. One ought to do formal studies carefully, especially when young, preserving one’s sense of wonder, one’s right to enjoy and learn from and share independent of course requirements.

It occurs to me that this sounds lie the warning on-fire believers give to seminary students–don’t let the love become merely academic. Also of the envy “believers from birth” feel at the wonder they see in those encountering the Word for the first time.

Maybe there’s hope in that thought—that some day there will be a longing, a Word-shaped vacuum waiting to be filled, in this generation as they grow older and sense a gnawing emptiness in a lifestyle of regurgitation of online content where nothing turns out to be new under the sun. Might they rediscover of how smart writers of old were, how beautiful their language and enjoyable to decipher, and how enriching for the soul, for the mind, for the community to become a self-motivated student of those literary arts once again?

 

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Wind

Heart shaped eaves flying, exhausted and brittle,
limbs crack and fall in the long awaited storm.
They talk of losing power.
Ironic, when the power is greater than ever,
lifting, surging, breaking.
No power has been lost, except our own.

Hummingbirds hunker in dense thickets, grasping limbs, tossed and weak with hunger.
No, don’t go, says the mate–you’ll be killed!
Butterflies that venture are slapped back down, stick on rocks, trunks, asphalt.

Down in the bay, though I cannot see, waves run gray green, topped with foam.
You run out and anchor the patio canopy. I catch buckets skidding across the yard.
The children scamper, thrilling with excitement and a little fear, pulling plastic bag kites on strings.

 

 

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Haikus written to the sound of the dishwasher’s last run of the day

Cat’s ears turn, tail flicks
Paw stretches, bats a wrapper
Big eyes watch, and wait

(More: Cat’s Ears)

Why do you look, smile,
only when my head is turned?
Eyes flick across, miss.

 

Empty kitchen, clean,
except the crumbs of sweet bread
and your last cup of warm tea

 

I watch for you, still.
Though your heart is forgetting,
mine will never heal.

 

You hold out your hand,
Tilt to see the creases there
Age, dismissed, returns.

 

Pacific Ocean
Stretching always undersea
Igneous yoga

 

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2015 in Arts, Poetry and Music

 

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Further attempts to establish continuity

I’m still struggling with a convoluted blog post and unable to finish, and so I’m switching gears now and writing an aside. No promises of depth or substance here, just some light banter which I’ll lay down before my early bed time.

It’s back to work subbing tomorrow, in the same class as three days last week. I look forward to it–environmental science, math and physics, the middle group a more interesting one, having come together to make up for an end of course exam they failed, so there’s a bit more testiness about school and teachers, and insecurity about their ultimate chances of success. But there’s a good community spirit there, and motivation in most cases to get the concepts.

I feel guilty about how easy it is to sub in a regular high school classroom, how reasonable most people are, how rare are the confrontations. Also seem to have amassed a pretty good general knowledge of high school material, and can call it up from memory on a need to know basis, so I feel I’m being useful in some way.

The next day I’ll be attending a youth summit, which should prove to be interesting–educators, health workers, law enforcement, community leaders coming together to discuss how to support at risk youth, so I’m sure I’ll learn a lot and meet some big hearted folks.

Not sure what further steps I may take on testing opt out in the coming weeks. I kept my son home for the first session, but he’ll have to hang out with the other opters-out for the big week of tests coming up, as I have to work. I’m curious as to what he’ll be expected to do instead of testing. I’ve heard how schools are trying to convey a message that opting out is not meant to be enjoyable, so some are not even allowing kids to read, at least not until they sit and stare for ten or fifteen minutes. I really don’t know what the feeling is about the tests at my kids’ school–I didn’t want to start that dialogue when I slipped in to file the opt out form, but I might just do as I gain confidence. As in, Mr. Principal, what do you think of these tests, and how does it make you feel when folks opt out? Do you see them as troublesome? Brave? If you thought something handed down to you was bad for kids, would you take a stand if you might get in trouble? Do you solicit feedback about this issue from your staff? What would happen tpo a staff member who would not administer the tests?

I had an idea for a college scholarship–it would be for students who had kept a nature journal for a few years. They’d submit or present it, with a chance to explain what they learned through the process. Might target a different kind of intelligence and sensitivity, an underrepresented group that deserves encouragement.The winner would receive a scholarship to pursue something along the lines of environmental science or other field that showed commitment to sustainability and furthering our understanding and appreciation of the creatures with which we share the planet.

It’s time for bed. Coal train whistle blowing makes a sleepy noise. Underneath the blankets go all the girls and boys.

 

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2015 in Arts, Poetry and Music, Education