Thursday, June 30, 2011

Resentment Corrodes the Container

















In high school he had the highest sales
but the coach’s son took home the prize
-acid filled his gut.

He asked her to marry him
but she laughed and married another
-his face hardened like stone.

The promotion should have been his
but his friend took credit for the work
-his arteries filled with molten steel

The new hires worked circles around him
then pushed him aside
-crushing his back in the stampede

Now he's corroded and immobilized
too many years of resentment.
How different would his life be

if he forgave others
and learned to love himself instead?
Would it set him free?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Japanese Opera Singer

















He is a tenor
sings opera in Tokyo
attracts widespread attention

competing for his heart are two lovers
a soprano and a mezzo-soprano
when he holds one he longs for the other

a drama of operatic dimensions
it has power and incredible subtlety
but neither can compare

to his love for the music -
when he sings heaven opens
not only for himself

but for all who listen
arias for god’s ear
available for the price of a ticket

close to center stage
for the rich and privileged
made available to the working class

through television and CDs
a man with a golden voice
infamous for eternity.


The costume and characters came from
a dream. What could it mean?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June Gloom

















I recall the days of summer,
headed for the beach
late in April and stayed
until September.

Today I can’t leave the house
in the morning without a sweater
but then the afternoon sun is hot,

burning like a beam
from a magnifying glass
forcing me to hide
from the unrelenting glare

yet, the balmy nights
chill too quickly
and I head home early.

Oh how I long
for the summers
of long ago.

Monday, June 27, 2011

You’re A Thief!

















“Did you take my paint brush?”
the teacher shouted.

“You used it a minute ago," I said.
"There it is on the table behind you?”

A few minutes later he thought I took
his sample picture, hid it away in my bag.
I reminded him he had picked it up earlier.

I wondered to myself, “What makes him think
I’m a thief? Is it because I’ll take his ideas
and use the examples he offered for a fee?"

The best workshops are designed so students
imitate what they've learned and create something
of their own. Thoughts and skills inspired
by a teacher are the aims of every master.

Before the day was through
he asked, “Where’s my painting? Someone took
my painting.” I pointed to where he left it.
He grumbled something under his breath.

I walked away wondering,
"Why does he think
I’m a thief?"

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Nesting

















They find a spot in a tiled roof
then gather some string and straw
after several trips the nest is done
a few soft feathers to line the bed
soon the eggs are laid and in a few weeks
the chirp of hungry mouths to feed.

The male and female - without a word
complete this arrangement
until the fledglings fly off
to make nests of their own.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Angry Birds

















I don't know everything,
I'm to easy to manipulate
with anyone who wants
to tempt me

in my contemporary world
there are no altars for sacrifices
just entertainment venues
addictive and enslaving.

No fields to plow or pyramids to build
all waking hours are spent in passive
dependence, distracting me from important
issues like governance and great inventions,

nothing like Ulysses in his adventures
I spend my time defending eggs
by destroying pigs with angry birds.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Liars and Rumors of Lies

















I was once a liar
but even saying those words
reveals that I still am one.

In the days of my adolescence
almost every word coming
out of my mouth was a lie:

"Is your homework done?"
"Where are you going?"
"What time did you get home?"

Some point in young adulthood
truth became easier to face
because without it

finances couldn't be managed
relationship couldn't be nurtured
but in a bind I still lied:

"It all right, this diamond is big enough."
"It’s okay to go to Vegas without me."
"Everything on my tax form is true."

My children are confounded when I know
they are lying and I am surprised at
how young they start it:

"Who broke the lamp?"
"Did you get into my make-up?"
"Who ate the last piece of chocolate cake?"

Maybe it’s genetic and we inherit it
or it is part of our survival instinct
an automatic response to danger.

Politicians lie, so do religious leaders,
men and women lie to each other
as well as to themselves.

I’ve never heard an animal lie
unless I consider the little Chihuahua who barks
and barks whether anyone is out there or not.

Maybe camouflage is a mammals way of lying
and if I use this reasoning
I guess insects and plants lie too.

So what is the truth?
When I paint or draw I use
negative space to highlight a subject.

Maybe a lie is the dark side of the moon
to make visible the light from the sun
and it's not good or bad, in the biblical sense,

but it is all a part of nature
and we have to learn to deal with it
in order to survive.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blood Test

















A needle prick then four vials fill
with samples of my blood to be
sent off for a series of tests.

I also had to pee in a cup,
for men, it is an simple task
but for me not quite so easy.

These fluids will create a window
for the doctor to gaze through
to analyze the health of my cells.

Then he will be able
to prescribe a medicinal potion
to keep me alive for at least 100 years.

The blood may reveal some truth
but it's up me to decide if I
want to do the extra time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

City of Dreams

















It rained again today,
clouds along the horizon
creates a suffocating humidity

steam rises from the sidewalks
lights reflect off city streets
prosperity lost in the downturn

dig deep into my pockets
but still come up empty
shuffle past Hollywood and Vine

visitors from every small town
hustle to find a little action
five dollars gets me through the day.

Wrapped in a hoodie
now wet to the skin
my good looks strained,

lines from the stress,
like a bad drawing,
distort my face.

The sparkle
gone from my eyes
but in my mind

the dream festers
... I will be
a Hollywood star.

Monday, June 20, 2011

He Is The Father


















He is not the father if all he offers
is the seed to spawn a child
the bloodline of his father and the father
before him may ooze in his genetic plasma

but that does not make him a father except
in a biological sense. If he doesn’t parent
that fact that his features
are the same is irrelevant

he is not the father if he is not around
to protect his progeny, to provide and promote
values so his child can grow to adulthood
to be productive and perhaps be a better parent

he is not the father if he loses himself in alcohol,
drugs, or gambling habits, so preoccupied
with his own desires he doesn’t
have the capacity to love another

he is not the father if he is not around,
too occupied with accumulating wealth
he doesn’t realize time and relationship
are the treasures most valued by a child

he is not the father even if he is married
to the mother but doesn’t offer emotional ties
and creates pressure and unneeded stress
demanding perfection with unreasonable requests.

He is the father if his child
recognizes him as such,
and the rest doesn’t matter much.

Friday, June 17, 2011

WEALTH

















WEALTH
We did well in school
because a good education ensured
a certain amount of wealth

enough to support ourselves
and others if we married
and had offspring

barring any calamity
our lives could be free of misery
if we have enough wealth

HEALTH
is that secret ingredient we assume
would be available when we lived a prosperous life
proper food and regular exercise
is the prescription for longevity
yearly check-ups

and dental hygiene
creates our body as a temple
where a strong heart,
and a sound mind can dwell

barring any catastrophe
to injure the body
causing muscles to atrophy
must make every effort to

get plenty of sleep and maintain
a strong social network
to ensure a lifetime of good health.

STEALTH
Time is the coveted prize
for living well and prosperously,
an opportunity to grow old and experience
life’s many facets by exploring infinite
mysteries and encountering love

in all its wonder
yet time, like a thief
can rob one’s youth, strip
one’s health and in the end,

all the riches in the world
won’t be significant
because wealth can’t stop time
when what lies beyond is all that matters.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Family Videos


















It was a surprise birthday party
my brother had turned forty
my sister flew in from Albuquerque
and we converged at his house.

Watching the video, twenty years later
was simple enough but when we counted
how many people were not around
on his sixtieth birthday we were surprised.

There was our dad of course, but he was the oldest
so we expected that but what a shock
to our solar plexis when we saw
our two youngest brothers, virile and strong,

were also gone. His younger sister-in-law
and her husband passed four years apart,
their daughter was raised by the grandmother,
now widowed since the video was taken.

It reinforced the idea, life is temporary
passages through time random at best
those here today may be gone tomorrow
but in the interim there ought to be laughter

good memories melded together
as people accompany one another
through every chapter and moment
in each other’s lives.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lime Green Grasshopper

















Last night I had a dream
I had gone to New Zealand
and there I saw my mother
who has been dead for
thirty-five years. She was in
the yard hanging clothes.
I greeted her but she ignored me

and continued to clip large white sheets
on the clothes line. It started to hail
so I called for her to come in, then I noticed
a large funnel cloud forming on the horizon.
I called again with greater urgency
the only safe place was in the washroom.

I could hear the glass shatter as the winds
roared through the house like a locomotive.
When the storm died down we were all safe
but then the earth started to shake.

I thought I was going to be buried under
a thousand bricks but every time one fell,
I climbed on top of it.

When things got quiet again, I discovered
everyone I cared for also survived
except my mother. She was gone again.

We went out to the center of the yard
and the earth started to shake once more
the mountains began to crumble.

I thought, “Surely, this is the end of the world.”
Then I saw a large lime green grasshopper
fly across the yard and I followed it
until it hopped on to the hearth in an ancient castle.

I knew everything would be okay
because I've been told when a grasshopper appears
in a dream I am being asked to take a leap
of faith and jump forward without fear.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Detached

















I’ve heard it said
that when a person experiences extreme
suffering, their soul leaves their body
and like a little bird can watch

the atrocity but not succumb
to the experience because they’ve
detached to preserve that part
of themselves that will survive.

Sometimes a split occurs
more than once and the personalities
assume their own lives, separate from the host,

but attached, ready to take over
anytime the going gets tough.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Flutes and Birdhouses

















When he was a child he wanted to be taller,
milestones like walking, riding a bike, and reading
were opportunities to become more independent
and expressive in a grown-up world.

Adolescence and adulthood gave him access
to several plans to follow. Pathways to
define himself through accomplishments,
expressions of his personality
to discover his purpose in life

but upon his retirement
there was no light to guide his way
he stumbled to redefine what was possible.

For some, who never achieved personal goals,
it’s their time to give a final effort
to make something of their lives before it slips away.

For those, like himself, who’ve met every objective
they become confused until they create
different dreams and discover new things
to keep themselves busy and actively involved.

This man wanted to golf when
he retired but couldn’t afford more
than one day a week so he spent
the rest of his time bored and
too drunk to get much done.

He decided he would learn to work with wood
but after becoming an expert his house was filled
with too many flutes and bird houses
he needed something else to fill-up his day.

He discovered he had an ache in his chest
and went from one doctor to the next.
It kept him quite busy, he didn't complain much,
and after that everything finally came to a stop.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

First Tomatoes Of Summer

















The first tomatoes of the season
are smooth, solid, red, and succulent.
Ready to be picked, sliced and served
on a sandwich or salad,
diced and put into a salsa,
boiled then mashed and added
to a sauce or soup.

They start off as a light green shoot
peeking through the soil
become a vine with small blossoms
turned to luscious fruit.

First they're green then red.
They can be small like cherries
medium sized like apples,
or large like pink grapefruits.

Letting them ripen on the vine
brings out their flavor.
Easy to grow in a garden.

With a little attention
they can be plentiful
enough to fill baskets and barrels
and canned for the winter ahead.

After they’re sewn and grown,
but before they're gathered
take a whiff, bury your face in them

then pick a tomato, wash it
and bite into it raw,
let the juice and seeds drip down
your lips, along your chin and off your jaw.

Tomatoes bring people together
for meals and good conversations.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Compassion

















When we see another in trouble we offer sympathy,
use our empathetic resources to feel as they do,
the kindness extended to our neighbor
comes from loving them as much as we love ourselves.

When we take-on the care of another living being
we assume all the responsibilities
that come along with every interaction
including the risk of being rejected.

Sometimes we want gratitude for our magnitude
but to the other our behavior is desired
demanded and sometimes resented.
Our anticipated feelings of love and joy discarded

and we do it anyway. Living things create messes
and require food, water, air and understanding
our compassion must surpass any earthly reward.
We offer help because it’s what we want for ourselves

and the key to compassion often overlooked
is, we can’t give what we don’t have
and the only way to get it is to receive it from another
love flows in a back and forth motion.

Friday, June 10, 2011

He Wanted To Be A Fireman

















Since he was eight he wanted to be a fireman.
He dressed in a fireman suit for Halloween
played for hours in his backyard
pretending the plants were forests on fire.

He wanted to practice being the hero
so he climbed in his fort to rescue
puppies and dinosaurs
from those imaginary flames.

While some boys pushed the limits
tested the rules and got wasted
he had a different plan
‘cause he wanted to be a fireman.

Last night he had to be rescued
from the twisted steel of his Toyota Highlander
the firemen tried with all their power
but couldn’t save the boy from a drunken driver.

In memory of Rachel's son, John. RIP

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Conversation With My Sister

















She used to think she was powerful
if something needed to be done, she could do it
or at least she would try
Some call it vanity, others arrogance,
but she was sure of her powers
no apologies along the way
She was on a mission… called forth, if you will.

Today the appeal is different.
The gravitational tug of the grave
overwhelming at times
the temptation to do what she did
no longer pulls her like it used to.

If the hours ahead are few or many,
the best she can offer today is prayer.
A supplication to an almighty god
to bring blessings to those she loves
and forgiveness for herself for those days
long gone, when she thought she was the one.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Live For Today

















So much talk about the end of the world
yet, every day the world ends for someone
whether a new baby who doesn’t
take his first breath or the elder who takes her last.

The "when", isn’t consistent, so there is no way
to easily prepare for the end.

Yet the media pounds on us with dire predictions
forcing some to huddle in fear, afraid to face each day
but the "moment" is all we have, so live each one
as it might be your last. Do the things you want to do
open all your senses to the world around you.

Let your ears fill with the sound of laughter,
good conversation, great music and the words, “I love you.”

Let your mouth be satiate with the taste of good food,
great wine and kisses from someone you love.

Let your nose breathe in the wonderful aromas of sweet perfumes
nature’s flowers, home cooking, and the musky scent of passion.

As long as you are alive
let the feelings of life in,
let them envelop you
lift you up and expand your capacity
to live and touch your world.

Open your eyes to all the beauty that surrounds you.
Take the time to create something beautiful,
something practical or whimsical,
something that involves others,

then at least you will have lived your life
before the end eventually comes.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Puppy Survives Tornado

















News reports about a puppy,
only six months old,

experiencing his first tornado
although the same could be said
for most of Massachusetts
The worst storm in over sixty years.

The owner described how the pup
was pulled from her arms
they could hear his yelps
as he was tossed round and round

so scared for their own lives
they held on tight and cried
glad they survived although
their home was left in shambles.

The next day while sifting
through debris someone shouted
from two houses down, “There’s
a dog underneath this rubble!”

They didn’t expect what they saw
a small furry body was pulled
out from under the wreckage.

His tail started wagging when they
shouted “Hey, look there’s Theo!”
he was taken straight to his family

a little bit dusty, very thirsty
and hungry but like them,
very happy to be alive.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ice Cream Truck

















Individual boxes,
with ice creams
and other sweet treats

all arranged in a big truck,
a staple when school gets out.
Children line-up for their cold sweets.

The anonymous street vendor
doesn’t say much, all dressed in white.
He wears ear plugs to tolerate the sound

a high pitched tune
from a forgotten nursery rhyme
or some variation of Turkey in the Straw

played on a never ending loop.
Kids of all ages respond to the tune
with a dollar in their hand

choose a Dreamsicle, Fudgicle
Heath Bar or Bomb Pop, maybe
some chewing gum or Tootsie Roll pop.

Years ago a Good Humor man
pushed a cart, now someone like him
can be seen walking around the parks

but he speaks Spanish
his freezer packed with different treats;
paletas, respados, and other flavors.

One sure sign summer is here
the cling, cling of the ice cream man
and a melody heard down the street.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Baseball In June

















The boys are decked out
in their Diamondback red,
caps on their heads -
uniforms, baseball and mitts
ready to go for their fourth game
in the summer sun.

The goal is to learn principles
as well good sportsmanship, discipline,
and teamwork but out in the stands
the parents and grandparents keep score
because winning is what they were raised on
and it's why they came to sit in the sun.

The Cubs are arranged like little soldiers
the coach says to cheer, they cheer
their stance is near perfect
their swings all connect
their running and fielding exquisite.
The opposition looks grand, shining
like winners in the California sun.

During the first inning the Diamondbacks
fumble and tumble like little puppies.
They flinch at the ball, and move away
from the catch, hold the bat like a hatchet,
and chop at each pitch even if it's high.
At least they're getting some sunshine.

By the fourth inning
the Home team has warmed-up
each batter connects
the bases fill as they run home one by one
their fielding, by now, almost flawless.
Two flies caught, third strike out and in the end

they had fun and the parents out in the stands
forgot to keep track of who lost and who won
and had a great time watching baseball
in the warm California sun.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Braided Hair

















How many strands in braided hair?
One section pulled from the right
another from the left
and one from the middle all equal in size.

Then the process begins
over under, over under
till the full length is entwined
off-set with a pretty bow.

How many strands of other cultures
go into making this person?
Isleta Indian, Mexican and Spanish
Moors, all intertwined to make a face

that is like that of my ancestors
but different enough to be unique
yet when I look through a history book
I can see similar faces in different lands.

When I married I added another thread
or two, or three. He says he is German
Irish and English but from which strand
does the name, Uncle Telemachus, come?

According to the name registry
it is from Greek traditions.
Is it a random choice or a married
name with its own genetic history?

My children are a certain mixture
of six cultures in different
portions and when they married
and had their children

The mixture shifted again
but now they have a larger fraction
of English and Irish but which
culture claims their genetic mix?

Obama traveled across the ocean
to commensurate with his relatives
his Kenyan ancestry slipped to the background
when he raised a glass to his Irish heritage.

Like a mixture of the finest recipes
most people are a little bit of this and a lot of that
and like the braided hair we are all intertwined
why can't we hold it together, off-set with a pretty bow?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Imitation or Inspiration?

















I was asked to look at a Master
to copy one of their works of art
mixing colors to the right hue
with enough value change
to create shadow and light
and in this realm try to master
the master’s genius and improve
my own skill in the process.

That’s one line of thought
and I’m sure it has worth
but as an artist I feel
like I’m being forced into a box
and told to breathe through the same
air holes of one who breathed there before.
I’d rather not if you don’t mind.

I’d rather use the Master’s work
for inspiration and try to feel
what the master felt as he or she
selected color and arranged objects
to tell a story to express
his view of the world
to create a thing of beauty
or provocation, to last forever.

If all I do is copy then I may as well
climb into the grave with the Master
and die along side one
who has had their day.
I’d rather be inspired
than expired
if you don’t mind.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Quiet After the Storm

















Adrenal glands -
the ones that alert the brain

to make a body run and hide,
or become strong enough to stand and fight,

release hormones but if a crisis goes on
for too long, they exhaust the body

beyond the need to survive.
After the storm has ended

a quiet, like a soft blanket
descends upon each victim.

The state of emergency is over
it’s time to sleep to recover from

the bone rattling fear and maybe to discover
some much needed peace but every bump

seems to cause an overflow,
and the body is back on alert

again and again,
and again, and again

unless the person is old,
then it is easy to let sleep take hold

letting the younger folk figure out
alternatives for the best way to cope.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Circus Tent

















A circus tent in the mall parking lot -
bright yellow and blue
set up for acrobats and trapeze artists
once a place for animal acts

but PETA brought an end to that
now the performances are all humans
from places like Argentina and Brazil
doing somersaults for applause

wearing little sequined costumes,
hanging by their teeth,
or balancing on a ball,
a better choice than the slums

of their third world cities.
They’ll do this as long
as no advocates

fight for their cause and they can
continue to seek work at the circus tent
in the mall parking lot.