Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Noise After The Storm

“Don’t let any good tragedy go to waste
there is money to be made.”
These words heard over the din of large
dump trucks and the scramble of contractors

with chain saws and yellow tractors
moving in with a crew of brawny young men
ready to clear the damage and set the town
back to normal with brand new kitchens

and bathrooms, decisions need to be made
for sturdy designs, using better anchors
and wall siding to withstand the next tornado
including amenities to make it green

like water efficient faucets,
recycled glass for the counter tops
chipped wood with formulated glue ready
for builders before the month is through.

There will be extra cash for all those
college students, whose university is gone,
dental hygienists without dental offices
anyone who wants work can find opportunity

amid the destruction
new jobs are available until
everything is made right again
...better than before.

Architects and builders will have ample
occasions to be paid for their skills.
Vendors for hardware, lumber,
and plumbing appliances

will be pressed to provide
the number of requests
for materials required to remodel
this city flattened by mother nature.

Neighbors, who at first, were glad
their homes were left standing
will be jealous of the chance
to get everything new

after the tears, victims
will be delighted with the forced
modernization provided by the great
storm, like a fire in the forest

sometimes the flames are important
to burn down the old and give room
for the new in order to survive
for several more generations.

Monday, May 30, 2011

California Road Trip

The length of California
is equal to five states
on the east coast
but the view doesn’t

change as radically
so after we break away from
sky scrapers in L.A.
we climb the grape vine to Gorman

then drive head first into
the great expanse
of semi-arid flat lands
along highway 5.

If we make this trip
during a drought
our bodies seem to writhe
as we face dehydration

We inevitably glimpse
our potential demise
after quiet reflection

then hurry through the area
at speeds over eighty-five.
Next come the lush greens
of the San Joaquin Valley

grape vines, almond, citrus,
and pistachio trees, some onions
and asparagus, then the dairy farms
crowded with the not so happy cows.

The agricultural patchwork ends
when the suburbs of San Francisco begin
but we veer north, east of the city

to visit family in Napa,
and take tours to taste and enjoy
the beautiful wine country

leaving the coast and the very
northern part of California
for another trip on a different day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lavender Chair

I’ve lived almost a century
born before World War I
survived the depression
thrived after World War II
acquired an education

married twice
lived longer than both men
had four children,
two boys and two girls
thirteen grandchildren
and five great grandchildren

I've sailed the Atlantic
been on an African Safari,
visited every state
in the United States

accumulated photographs,
souvenirs, art works
and artifacts,

loved my home
which I've lived in
for seventy-six years
but last Monday

a tornado blew
through Joplin
one of the worst
in one hundred years

I am still alive
but everything I owned is gone
nothing to show for my life
... except this lavender chair

everything will be okay
I won't be needing it
much longer anyway.

Retold after a news report of a 91 year
old woman who survived the storm
and had nothing left but a lavender chair.
Specific details are fictional.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

God’s Voice After The Storm

In time of crisis
the faithful and not so faithful
hear the voice of God.
His words are a command
requiring action from the listener.

Saint Paul on his way to Damascus

thrown from his horse
became a convert when he heard the word.

Conversions on the battlefield
are many and well documented.

Spiritual awakenings
when we are in need,
however weak our faith
we call out his name.

I wonder what happens to faith
after so many natural disasters?
Will there be a rise in conversion
across the nations?

If there is a message being hammered in -
“Things Don’t Matter!”

The first views after a catastrophe show
survivors saying, “At least we have each other,”
but days later we see them filtering through debris
looking for their stuff and crying pitifully.

How many will suffer from post traumatic stress?
How many will will be together twenty years later?
How many will become sick because they forgot to cry?

I can remember as a child
when we did something bad
my dad lined us up in order
from the oldest to the youngest
and spanked each one of us
because he wanted us to be good

the lesson worked for some
but wasted on the others.
What revelation from God
will be remembered after the storm?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Last of Everything

She fought gallantly
but the cancer reappeared

spreading beyond her ovaries
the end was near

no alternate route
for the days that remained

she was determined to fit in the last of everything
her last trip to Disneyland with the best of her friends

they entered the hospital
to whisk her away

to spend time with Mickey Mouse
in the happiest place for a day

later her first sip of cocktail was also her last
her last round of golf too weak to play nine

the last time she sat in her favorite chair,
held her grandbaby,

kissed her two sons,
argued with her husband,

then lay next to him, safe in his arms
before her last meal

oatmeal with brown sugar
she could barely taste it

too weak from too many days of struggling.
According to all experts she shouldn’t be dying

her mother was still alive at eighty-five
she exercised regularly and kept her weight down

all of that didn’t matter when the doctor said,
"Get your affairs in order,

there is little else to be done."
Her last prayer was to go quick

she was tired of fighting
but hadn’t given up her desire for living

her last glass of water
was crystal and clear

sunlight like kisses on both of her cheeks
her family and friends gathered one last time

she brushed her hair and smiled for the camera
to create a memento to last long after she was gone.

In Memory of Karen who died much too young.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Convenience Store During a Storm

The lights went out
and I lost sight of who else
was in the convenience store

but I could see the twister
heading our way.
We had to find

the safest place
to protect ourselves,
from this fast moving menace.

The group spoke in calm voices
while we figured out the safest place.
A young boy,

about six or eight,
started to cry when we crowded
into the walk-in refrigerator.

It felt like a freight train
hit us at full speed
the building shook.

Our screams bounced off the walls
pierced by the shrieks from the young boy
the old woman shouted,

The teenager behind me yelled out,
“I love all of you.”
The pounding by the winds
seemed to last forever...

The owner described the experience
like wrestling with a groaning,
breathing, evil, entity.

He had hunkered down outside the refrigerator,
using his back to brace himself against the door
and counter to protect us from the storm.

He said it felt like a tug of war
where the tornado almost won
but in the end we all survived.

The building and cars were destroyed.
so we had to walk through
an obstacle course

of broken glass and debris
to hurry home
and search for our families.

I heard the news report say there are
more storms in the forecast
maybe it’s not too late to move away.

The firsthand account was recreated after watching
a video of the experience and reading the morning news.
Prayers go out to all.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I watched a short film
about children ages 8-10
talking about the value of poems.

Simple verses, some rhyming
some not, trying to elicit an emotion

in as few words as possible…
like prose but not
like songs but not
sometimes like a knot
to be untangled and set free.

The children all agreed
poetry takes getting used to
and it’s okay to be inspired
by poems to; draw a picture

or set it to music,
because a good poem,
kept in memory,
can be recited completely,
or read aloud by anyone -

all the way to the end.
Maybe quote a few lines

to crystallize a thought
or express an emotion

or a succinct comment
to a unique situation.

After viewing the movie
I watched another short film about an earthquake in China
… a documentary about the loss of 10,000 children
killed in an earthquake of unequaled proportions in 2008.

It wasn’t the natural disaster that claimed the kids’ lives
but the fact schools were built without mortar and re-bar
and like houses of cards they fell,
killing the only child of so many families.

Mothers and fathers pleaded for justice
but when they challenged their government
about local corruption they were told

the circumstances had to kept from the world,
they must handle the situation themselves, no need
to embarrass the nation with public demonstrations.

The fire in their bellies died
...snuffed out when they complied.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Post Rapture

picture by Bill

Time came and went
day of reckoning, however calculated
didn’t occur the way it was predicted.

The day spent in the orange groves
of a Historic State Park
was one of the happiest on record.

Sun shining but not extremely hot
flora blooming but not overrun with pollen.
children squealed while they played games,

soccer balls kicked, volley balls served,
baseballs with long rainbow tails tossed,
kids moved like monkeys through the trees.

The youngest one cried when his balloon popped
comforted when the eldest one gave him hers
without being asked.

Conversation among the adults
was casual like a low mummer
punctuated with laughter.

If this was rapture
then for a few hours
we were in heaven

communion with other souls
engulfed in the embrace
of a tender god.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

More Still Life Paintings

This last one the light created it's own patterns.
I'll try to photograph it again when the sun is out.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Reports from the news, a man
has calculated the exact day and time
the rapture will come.

According to him
some will be taken to heaven
and the rest left on earth
to suffer an Armageddon.
I’ve read some believers

are giving away their possessions,
making arrangements for someone
to take care of their pets.
They say they're one of the chosen.
I suppose it is good

to get one’s house in order.
It can’t hurt, that’s for sure.
My plan for that day is a trip to Riverside

to visit the Citrus Museum and have a picnic
with my sons and their families.
We’ll learn about the second gold rush
and have a taste of orange pulp and nectar.

If the rapture should come and some get to go
at least we spent time with each other
and hopefully the chosen will remember

those left behind.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Still Life

I’ve been working with a teacher
on composition and the use of light
to create an inviting still life.

First, select glass with an interesting shape,
an object suitable to anchor the piece
yet, provides sufficient reflective light.

Then an intricate flower to add interest,
with fruit to offer color
all arranged on a table cloth

everything telling a story.
The placement of each item
is designed to guide your eye

into the picture to the central focus
and then out again to your own life
changed by the memory of the composition

balancing line, color and shape
with enough contrast to revisit again and again
offering consistency in a world of change

a place to meditate
and bring peace to your existence
as you contemplate the stillness of life

arranged in perfect harmony.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Jerome, when you were a baby
your cheeks were chubby, perfect for kissing

handed from one sister to the next
you giggled often and liked to make them laugh

each one left you to make their fortune
you were alone too much of the time

changed from cute to handsome
went from one woman to the next

liked to make them laugh
they couldn't take you seriously

so they left you to seek their fortunes
you stopped laughing

too much loss, too many tears- your cheeks,
yearning for the return of all their kisses.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life Through A Microscope

What seems to be just a glass of water
changes when viewed through a microscope.

Sometimes it is better to go through life
without that close-up view -
choose pretenses and fantasies
filtered through rose colored glasses

otherwise we become like a Howard Hughes
terrified of those microscopic elements
poised to attack our bodies to make us ill...
yet, in isolation, our real illness is revealed.

Better to view life through dreams
and make-believe, to be a Hollywood star,
or save the world like Angelie Jolie
instead of being a potential host

where so many germs can dwell.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Make a choice

doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong
choose… if it’s wrong make another choice
or live with the consequences

but get the energy flowing
rather than be blocked
in that space before choice

the flip flopping of indecision
is a character flaw,
one held by whole generations

a cultural characteristic
of several populations
once a choice is made

terrorists get shot in the eye
hooded women revolt
for freedom.

Make a choice
and reap the benefit
or cost of each decision.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Purple Tube of Paint

“You need purple,” the teacher said.
“Don’t just mix blue and red,
get something you can lighten and darken
to maximize the value potential.”

So I went to the art store
and spent $48 dollars on a tube of paint.

Is my student potential worth an investment
of this kind? If someone were to buy
my work and startled by my asking price

I would have to show them my receipts
for the costs of: brushes, canvases,
mediums and a long itemized list
with the high price of paints

also include - the many classes
needed to get to this level...
still amateur in so many ways.

I’ve learned to capture sunlight
and shadow. Line and negative space
also part of my repertoire.
I can even balance compositions
to establish a clear focus.

The instructor assured me,
practice is key to every
breakthrough but right now
I must buy a tube of purple paint.

Does he realize it will cost me
fifty dollars? Is purple really
worth that asking price?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Emerging Adolescence

I thought I posted this yesterday 5/12/11, but due to
blog problems I'm posting it again today.

Slight movement in the casing
then the breakthrough
a young chick emerges from it's shell,
the butterfly releases from a chrysalis,
and our offspring discard
the innocence of childhood.

Subtle changes
first awkward then expressed
as they come onto their own
striving to become fully
developed grown-ups.

Oh lord, our teens
will never return
to that simpler time
when they were children
and their world was
under our control.

Entrance To Heaven

To enter heaven
you must become
like a small child
innocent and trusting
in an all powerful god.
Let go of the need to control,
to predict, or cause
what will happen next.
Accept that He has a plan
and will reveal it when needed.
Leave suffering for the wicked
and worry for the damned.
Play and dance in the warmth
of a caring god who will
shower you with many blessings
and call you to the entrance
of paradise when your time comes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Life Partner

His steps synchronized
with mine immediately
after we met.
I laughed at his jokes
and after 40+ years
still find him funny.
His hands exude
the strength to move
mountains if I ask him,
yet gentle enough
to caress my face.
He offers many kisses,
like a spring rain,
for the littlest of things.
A conversation
that never wanes.
Plans for the future,
a regular practice,
since we still seek adventure
to make this existence
interesting and worthwhile
as we journey
this lifetime together.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fast Forward

When I was young life occurred in slow motion
time to watch the trail of ants across the sand
and look up to see the cloud theater in the sky,
cumulus art forms sculpted from water and air.

Adolescence was an internal journey
deep feelings and yearnings
as yet, unexplored, exploding of their own
violation, intruding on to what was not decided

forcing experiences out to the edge
then tumbling back to the way it was before.
Parenthood always child centered
no time for regular pampering

or selfish pleasures – priority directed
to the offspring at all costs and just
when it seemed I was all used up
the empty nest thrust me into a deep hole

having to re-form myself
and fill the time with my own expression
articulated leader, teacher, mentor.
When work life was done and body exhausted

life was still not finished no real models
for how it should be lived somewhere
the button was pushed to fast forward -
world events rapidly changing, whirling

from one disaster to the next
even the birds had three springs
last winter and their progeny
smaller than the year before.

Relationships once trusted now confused
part of an emotional hurricane
fear, hatred, doubt and despair
smash against my consciousness.

I wake up breathless for fresh air
stars in the heavens nothing but white streaks
speeding by too quickly in fast forward.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I Forgive You

Dear Mother,

I forgive you for dying too young
for leaving before your youngest
graduated from high school
and the female twin,
pregnant with her second child,
had to give birth without you.

I forgive you for abandoning
your two youngest boys
before they had a chance to push away
and return better men.

Dad tried hard to carry on
but his grief couldn’t hold us together,
too wounded and adrift in his sorrow,
the family floated without it’s anchor.

Those who could save themselves
left the others behind.

Last night I had a dream about you
playing in the ocean with dad
and three of your sons, all of them
gone too young. Much to my surprise

my daughter-in-law said she also dreams of you.
watching her two babies who died
before they were born. My son said he likes
knowing they frolic with you along heaven’s shoreline.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ice Cubes

Most dogs like a long drink of water
after a walk through the neighborhood
but Humphrey prefers ice, taken one by one
from his master’s hand.

Usually one glass full is enough
but on hot days he needs a second serving.
He chews the cubes until they are gone
climbs on the couch to get some rest.

His routines are specific; get the shoes
out the door, down the street, neighbors to greet,
home again, ice...take one glass, maybe two
then it's time for a good long sleep.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wild Flowers in the Desert

picture by Bill

Unlike flowers
tended in home gardens

desert flowers appear spontaneously
along roads and hillsides.
These delicate wispy blossoms,

with only a hint of color,
are felt rather than seen

while I'm driving by at seventy miles
an hour but when the eyes are trained

the flora reveals itself in hues of
purple, orange or gold.

Out among the stones and cacti
these frail sprigs of green

live for a little while
then wither and are gone
in the unrelenting sun

not to be seen again 'till
next spring.

Their blush of colors
along barren terrains

never adequately captured by a camera
nor forgotten by one's heart...
those delicate wispy blooms.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Remembering Mother

1954 in New Mexcio

1960 in California

Two Years before she passed away

Three years after her death

Until I was a mother I didn’t know
anything about the sacrifice my mother
made to give birth and to raise
me from conception to adulthood.

I never really understood her commitment
or love so critical to the mix
since she had more than one, ten to be exact,
her efforts must have been on overload.

In some families children don’t make it in life,
sickness or other tragedies prevent their
survival but whether in heaven or on earth
a mother’s love does not falter.

My happiest moments were that of a child
I played under my mother’s loving care
followed the moral code she drilled into me
struggled with the pull for my own independence

and yet, when I had a family of my own
I realized who she was, and what she
gave to me. I could never be indifferent
to her love again.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Leaving Heaven

Last night I had a dream about a woman
who died after 111 years of living.
She invited me to go with her to heaven.

“Is there anyone you want to take along?”
I pointed to a frail young woman
with a broken heart and two invalid kids,
“They've suffered enough let them come with us.”

While we were on our ascent
the young woman pleaded to let them go.
“There’s too much of life we haven’t lived,
too many things we still want to do.”

I released them and they peeled away
like cellophane from an unopened
package and returned to earth
leaving heaven for another day.

The elder woman led me along
the clouds to peer over the edge
as we gazed upon the world she said,

“I think you’re premature to let it go, even
at your age there are new areas to explore
and important work still to do."

I smiled at her then took a swan dive
off the rim and dove back to my home.
I awoke feeling rested
with a renewed sense of purpose.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Let Terror End

Let the constant companion of fear
exit through the back gate
and disappear

so the chronic ache at my core
can vanish into the ether
like ash from a burning fire.

Remove that ever-present dread
of evil, one who bombarded
my consciousness.

Osama Bin Laden is dead,
let his words dissipate in the wind
and his followers disband

let his body decay at the bottom
of the sea consumed by viper fish
and gulper eels

Let his reign of terror end
so I won’t be afraid
and can live my life again.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Survivor of the Storm

A large microphone

thrust in the face of a nine
year old boy with fair skin,
dark hair and bright blue eyes.

“What went through your mind
when you heard the winds,
roar overhead?”

The boy answered
in a clear voice,
“I knew god would
take care of me.”

The camera pulled back
revealing him unscratched
in a scene
of utter destruction.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Looking for Life After the Storm

Cadaver dogs sniff through
the wreckage, muzzles close
to the ground. I'm glad,
they didn’t bay at the neighbor’s house,
maybe Harry and Ivy got away after all.

The insulation that kept me warm last winter
is scattered around like little gray lambs
no walls left standing, yet porcelain
fixtures and most of the plumbing still intact.

Spent the storm in the bathtub
with my eyes closed but when
the winds stopped all I could see
was the blue sky above.

The hounds baying,
revealed Mr. Davenport, trapped
in the ruble after two days.
He moved here after Katrina
lucky to survive another storm.
Maybe god still has other plans for him.

Clear skies with bright sun
sparkling off shards of glass.
I have to locate personal records.
Hope they're safe and maybe a keepsake
or two. I'm like an archaeologist
looking for my former life
buried beneath the ruins.