Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Conflict

















Most people like a little conflict
enough to keep them interested in their own life
things like a flat tire
are not the details of great theater
but the question to answer,
"Are you the victim or hero in your story?"

I’ve heard it said that the stories you tell
predict the kind of person you become.
If you are only the frustrated victim of other people’s actions
and looking for offense at the slightest provocation
always upset that life doesn’t treat you right
then you have every reason to cry.

Stories that are better to tell are the ones
where you are the victor in your battles
you outsmarted the aggressor and overcame
the offender or at least out ran him
acquiring fame and fortune, adoration and respect
rising to the position of leadership,
one whose words have power,
who can be counted on to solve problems,
one who thinks clearly and acts accordingly.

With all heroes you must be careful not to exaggerate
the situation or the solution, you don’t want to become
the person with the gun who tries to take control by force
leaving destruction in you wake
or to become a dictator with unbending rules
or an isolationist who withdraws from society
content in your own fantasies of make-believe.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Politician’s Victory

















I remember in my senior year of high school
a blond kid, named Conrad,

stood behind the podium and said,

“Vote for me.”

This was in contrast to Cathy, who was the popular one
who promised to articulate with the administration

to bring student concerns up for discussion

she would interface on our behalf and blah, blah, blah.

Steve approached the podium next

handsome and so sublime
he talked about change and how if elected
would make sure our every wish came true.

Speeches went on for a week
two of the candidates had so much to say
and Conrad, in his ill-fitting suit

brought the house down
with his three words,

“Vote for me.”

The freshman class was the largest one

all marked their ballots early
sophomores did the same

and between the two gave a majority
to the candidate who made them laugh
his message simple and to the point.

When all the votes were counted, Cathy came in last.
Steve was second and by default the Vice-President
while Conrad came out the winner of the greatest victory ever
with a simple, direct request…

“Vote for me.”

The memory was evoked when I got word that
Conrad died in hospice last week and Steve
underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor.
Cathy hasn't been heard from since she was thirty.
Promise of youth all gone too quickly. R.I.P.

Monday, February 27, 2012

It Is A Mystery

















When I was young and asked the nuns

how many angles could dance on the end of a pin
they tried to explain that time and space
have no meaning when describing how god works

that it is a divine mystery

and to accept the answer, however
complex, because we are only human

and cannot know the unknowable.
It is part of our faith.

I became passive, not getting too curious

or asking too many questions

releasing all authority to the almighty

or those who represented him on earth
but in time their lies became too much to bear
their human failings too great a burden to forgive

I want answers to my questions

and I want to know.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rice Road

















Bill and I were traveling cross country
from Florida to California wanted to see
our folks and show off the grandkids.

Traveling in our green
Ford Econo van with windows all around
stopping at different points along the trip
to get pictures of the countryside.

We saw a small road sign
with Rice Road printed in bold letters
posted by a narrow two lane gravel road
winding up the mountainside.

Without a thought of caution
made a quick left turn
hugging the rock on the right
giving plenty of room for traffic
to pass on the other side.

Saw a viewpoint to get pictures
made a quick left turn
pulling off the road
when a large lumber truck
came thundering down the hill
consuming most of the space.

We would have been killed
had we not pulled off
then without a word we
returned to the main highway.

Finally able to speak
we talked about how fate stepped in
and saved us that day
on Rice Road in someplace USA.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Trees

















Silent sentinels centuries old

witnesses to what is going on around

watching history pass without a sound

recording details with rings on a stump

revealing all when their lives are cut short.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Doubt

















It forms like a seed in the back of your mind
trust brushed aside when your head fills with doubt
and like any illness left untreated
infects all parts of the body

sight becomes red with rage
muscles tighten ready for battle
after awhile clenched fists ache
shoulders and neck become stiff

waiting for the inevitable fight still ahead
better to fill your psych with happy thoughts
rather than recite a litany of misdeeds
compiled as evidence to convince yourself

your doubt has substance
and worthy of your attention
ask direct questions to get to the truth
rather than to wallow in the morass

which can take on its own reality
convincing yourself your doubts are true
it doesn't end well for either party
get to the truth before the day is through.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Life 101

















Mother wanted priests and nuns
from her brood of five girls and five boys
she did her duty by having so many

thought her obedience
should bless her with at least
one in the religious life

or at least an organ player to sit
in the balcony to play hymns for
mass, weddings, and funerals

but all her dreams and wishes
were scattered on the floor
when Life 101 came crashing through the door

she learned blessings came
but by their own accord
suffering was plenty

but she shouldn’t focus on it
what she wanted and what she got
were too far apart for

religion to make sense
but she believed anyway
slivers of sunshine stuffed in a book

raising her eyes
to the heavens above
with a big hearty, “Amen.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

MOONLIGHT

















The moon lights the sky
hiding most of the stars
I put aside my telescope
leaving it for another night

instead walk along the lake
to watch it shimmer on the water
listening to the breeze rustle
through the trees

thinking about the options
for my future but became
mesmerized by the lapping
of water breaking on the shore

dream about our time together
hours spent in conversations
your warm touch, gentle laughter
how cold I’ve become without you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lake Front Cabin



















Our deck hangs over
the large lake
blending into the mist
that hovers above the water
the cry of the geese
just out of sight
reminds us there is life
outside the fog
and to the right
the sun seeps through
like an omnipresent
god radiating love
and promise
for a new day
then one by one
the trees appear
like soldiers marching
across a blue sky.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Morning Sunshine















White yellow, orange, then scarlet
filtered through early mist
on the eastern horizon.

If we're in the car headed
west the sun is at our backs
but if we woke at four
already on the road

the sun becomes more
intense as it
rises in the sky

to light our route
through the mountains
to the Arizona deserts.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Color and Light

















Circles of color on a wheel
red, yellow, blue
mixed together to form

other hues,
green, orange, and violet
one more mix
add another six

red orange, red violet,
blue violet, blue green
yellow green, yellow orange

tint with white
shade with black

measure in numbers
one through ten

from the brightest
to the darkest

all arranged
on a color wheel.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lunchtime

















Climb over the top
of the hill
watch others rush by
find a place in the shade
spread out my blanket
take out my lunch
enjoy a tuna sandwich
with some lay potato chips
sip on a bottle of spring water
reflect on my day.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Morning Rush Hour
















Alarm rings
dog gets up
shakes his head
click, click, click
nails on hardwood
I tumble out of bed
always the same
morning ritual
fumble for robe
shuffle to kitchen
coffee brewing
get newspaper
pour a cup
eat breakfast
pack my lunch
shower, dress
then out the door
to sit on the freeway
for an hour or more.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Church on Sunday

















Sundays after a midnight fast,
and Saturday night baths
we put on our freshly pressed clothes,
dark pants and white shirts for the boys,
with colorful clip-on ties

and chiffon with lace for the girls,
with curled hair under straw bonnets,
feet squeezed into paten leather shoes
handed down from the oldest to youngest
ready to go but stomachs growling

lucky if we went to the eight o’clock service
but sometimes had to go at nine because Mother
sang in the choir but on holy days
we had to wait for the 12:00 mass

by then we were starving
especially if the day was hot
someone would pass out in the pew
or get a bloody nose but there was no
persuading mother about getting a snack
so we piled into the car without
complaining hoping the service would be fast.

The best part was when we left the church
taking off those awful clothes
and eating breakfast, usually bacon and eggs
with tortillas sometimes she would fix
pancakes with warm maple syrup
it tasted so good.

Company visited every Sunday
uncles and aunts and lots of cousins
no lunch but an early supper
playing outside long after the sun went down.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Julie’s Grandpa

















I didn’t know you except through
the stories Julie told about you

she spoke about your love
and how you were the source of laughter
you gave her a sense of belonging

the rock upon which the family anchored
they all gathered round your bedside

when it was time to say goodbye
children, grandchildren and great grandchildren

each with the same lust for living
headed in their own directions

but like bees to a hive they gathered
and thrived in the warmth of your love
involved in one another's lives.

However sad the world will be without you
life will go on, new thresholds for family to discover,
many more milestones to crossover, their history
will be as remarkable as your own

life’s current running through their veins
heads filled with ideas

songs to sing, steps to dance, catching the rhythm
of their lives with their families like roots

spreading out in many directions
but at the center your core values
to honor god, love him with all your heart

and live the life you were created to live,
fully expressed and totally spent.

May You Rest In Peace.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day


Where’s the Heart?

















Single people everywhere
become acutely aware
they are alone on February fourteenth
more than any other day
no one to call their own

trying to stay busy or going out to find love
among other lonely people
clusters of pink and red hearts
fill every shopping mall

from candies, flowers
and diamond things
reminding them they are alone
no one to whisper, “I love you.”

For couples
there are reservations to make
cakes to decorate, cards to write
gifts to wrap hoping to make the day
special, without a misstep,

to ensure love continues
long after the sun has set
memories created enough

to give them bragging rights
among their cohorts next day
a Hallmark Holiday
made crazy by all the hype

even kids in grammar school
fill out their cards
from class lists of names
so no one is left out
candy hearts with printed messages
a favorite day for many

in the old folks home there is still
some attempt to awaken the memory
of happier days

through faded sight
and faltering step
they wish each other
“Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Music Icons

















Their music marks
my milestones
summer love,
heartbreak,
and rebound.

A few notes
and it all comes back
the smell of coconut oil,
a hundred tissues,
English Leather after shave.

The sound of the Beach Boys
takes me back to my youth
the Beatles, to my final days
of college, Michael Jackson,
Whitney Houston, Modonna,
earmark other events in my life story.

The faces change,
lyrics too
but the emotions they elicit
goes on for generations.

The words and melody they choose
something in the design
of their throat and tongue
allows them to hit the right notes
to become the music for my life.

Watercolor: Birds on a Branch by drice

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Greatest Love of All
















I believe your voice had the power
to teach us all
the beauty
you held inside
but pride
confused you
love defused you
but your songs
remind us how it used to be

you didn’t want to be a hero
but your beauty made us watch
many tried to imitate your gift
but they didn’t have that angel spirit
the kiss from heaven
to reach into our hearts

and now you’re gone
all that’s left is the memory
of your success which lives on
and through it all
no one can take away your dignity
we will always love you Whitney.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

She’s Crazy

















She brought forty-seven lawsuits against the city
the district attorney, Adam Sandler and Tom Hanks.
A variety of reasons, reasonable by some accounts
but at their core believed to be untrue so they locked her up.

“Crazy,” they thought and she withered away
in an asylum until she was released then she sued them again
for all the years her freedom was denied.

“You think I’m crazy?” she screamed
“Wait until I’m through with you, then you will see
what crazy can mean.” She proceeded to stalk
the police who arrested her, the prosecutors
and the judge. She mailed letters, sent texts messages,
made phone calls, stood outside their homes
and followed their kids home from school.

A restraining order didn’t keep her away
so once more they locked her up
wrapped her in a straight jacket in a padded cell
filled her with drugs and ignored her.

Everyone grew old and mostly forgot
about the woman at the end of the hall
until her twin sons came looking for her
one resembled Tom Hanks and the other looked

like Adam Sandler. It seemed her complaints
back in 1982, were true and the lawsuits
were a legitimate reason to come before
the courts so the boys sued the city,
the district attorney, the judge,
Tom Hanks and Adam Sandler.

They won each case
but too bad for her
she died before
the verdicts were made.



Case taken from the news to the point of absurdity.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Genetic Building Blocks


















I look at my face and see my father’s nose
my mother’s eyes those same eyes I see
looking back at me from some of my grandchildren.

I recognize their hands and feet
and those that are not familiar I see
genetic markers from the in-laws.

Like a deck of cards shuffled and dealt
each individual their own combination
from the ancestors before them

a mixture of British and Irish,
Spanish and Puebla
German, Jew and Moor.

A vegetable stew
with flavors blending unique mixes
to form distinctive personalities

seeped in genetic recipes
expressing desires from dreamscapes
to form addictive behavior or a need to lead.

Their intelligence or artistic abilities
are like the aroma of garlic and onion
making our children strangers

yet when we look backwards
we can see everything
in genetic memory.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

First Born



















The first born has the right to the throne
unless you’re Prince Charles then it goes to your son
or in the Godfather it goes to the youngest one
but the first one is the clay

on which all mistakes are made
yet according to the psychologist
the first born has more drive than any other child
a greater need to achieve.

My parents always said,
“If you’re good the younger kids will follow,”
I was good for nothing ‘cause
all of them rebelled.

The first born has more pictures
than any other child
first steps, first words, first smile
all recorded in the baby book

but in the history of Judaism
it was the first born who was chosen
as the sacrifice
when the Christ was born.

The first born son is frequently
named after the father
and bears the burden of the father
for all his unfulfilled dreams

It is easier to be the second one
hidden in the shadow of the first
if he makes a mistake
the second can avoid it

if the first one is perfect
it makes life miserable
that shadow can weigh heavy
but it is easier be second
than the youngest of a family.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Time to Go

















Your belongings are
scattered haphazardly
in random patterns across the floor.
You stayed longer than expected

patches of scalp show through your hair
shadows under your eyes make you look old
independence may have been an ideal in our youth

but today it is no longer true
but you seem to be satisfied with nothing
like a leaf floating in the air without direction
going where the wind sends you.

I want you to use your wings and choose where to fly
landing on solid surfaces to make your own way
it is time for you to go.

You leave after our conversation,
slipping silently out the door
your shoulders hunched over, you look broken,
not my intention.

I want you to find that place
where you know how to live
to create a future you want
rather than existing like a parasite on a stem
sucking life out of the host.

One of us will die
and if I don’t release you
I will not survive.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Baby Bird Left the Nest Too Soon

















The first time you left
you flew too soon
fluttered and faltered
before you hit the ground

found haven in a neighbor’s nest
but it never fit and the food was bad
you were pushed out when you complained

your wings were strong so you soared.
Never the ugly duckling, always the beautiful
one, desired and admired but too much freedom
left you scared and you hid away

in a small place under the eaves
of a rotting house,
safer than the open space.

Finally rescued you are now in a cage
reading the small print on the newspaper
failing to spread your wings
refusing to take flight again.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wanna Dance?

















Mama would have tied me down
if she knew I crawled out the window,
to meet Sylvia, who took me
outside the city limits
to places where the sailors

went to dance.
Where the sounds
from the mediocre bands
didn’t matter
with our clothes wet from sweat

the young men’s faces all a blur
as we went from one to the other.
We weren’t there for love
but for the pleasure of the dance.

Conversation at a minimum
no need to lose precious minutes
when the beat of the music
forced our feet on to the floor.

Daylight came too soon
had to hurry home, climb back in bed
keep our secret until the weekend
when we headed into the night
to get our thrills at the dance.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Brotherly Love

















Some say there is nothing better
than the love one brother has for the other
someone to help with a day’s work
to cheer you up with a weekend game
to be a good uncle to your kids.

However ideal that image might be
life reflects a different reality
like Cain and Abel in the days of old
or Joseph and his brothers long ago
killed or sold their brother into slavery
betrayed at the very core.

Animals compete at this level
hording all the food,
getting the best spot in the sun
they may comfort each other in a pack

but vying for the father’s love
each one tries to catch the master’s eye
to be the one who gets rubbed behind the ears.

Literature would have us believe
the ideal is attainable
but the newspaper headlines
tell the truth
brotherly love is only a myth

one perpetuated by poets and parents
hoping to quell the noise
of two brothers
fighting over their toys.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mother's Tongue

















They cut out my mother’s tongue
the words she knew to sing a lullaby
lost in the scar tissue of the new language
forced into her mouth at an early age
English, they said was the key
to the new world.

New to the intruders of course
but not to her family
where she learned her mother’s tongue
listened to a different song
filling her heart with a melodious sound.

Again a revolution is occurring
singular authority, not gun powder
but economic power
and with it another language

Our children and grandchildren
will have to learn it to make their way
befriending an enemy
by assimilating
speaking words unrecognizable
from their birth, their mother’s tongue

dissected and removed
and in the scar tissue
strangled words.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Jewish Ancestry

















Visiting my aunt, long ago
filtering through the sepia
and black and white photographs
I saw a small woman in a white cotton dress

trimmed with lace. She stood behind
a man sitting in a large wooden chair.
She looked like the ancestors I knew
with fair skin of Spanish ancestry

mixed with the features of the Isleta tribe.
Her house, on the family acres of grazing lands
home to hundreds of sheep and goats

now with her new husband, a shepherd,
dressed in black,
with a wide flat brimmed hat

a long beard and two long curls
on either side of his head.

Captured in time without words
no explanation for their appearance

genealogists suggest that Jews
fled to New Mexico to avoid
the inquisition, blending in

to the new culture as much as they could.
Local residents were unaware of world politics

so they allowed the new comer
to become part of the culture
in the landscape of mesas and tumbleweeds.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Screaming Sirens

















Every day I hear the sound
screaming along the roadway
most times it is far away

but sometimes it comes in close
One night I glanced outside the window
they were across the street

the neighbor's dryer had caught fire
burned the house and the dog
everyone else was safe outside.

guy next door,
he almost died

upon reflection it was his time to go
but serious intervention kept him alive
now he seems lost and doesn’t know what to do.

The siren sounds like a loud scream
to let everyone know rescue is on the way.
Watch for a roaring truck, a black and white sedan

or a fully equipped ambulance van.
Responders will risk life and limb to
put out a fire, capture the criminal,

or get the injured to a hospital
to save people's lives.
I pay taxes for this service

so why am I shocked
when I receive the bill
for duties performed and rendered?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Made For Each Other

















We were made for each other
after many lifetimes together
we’ve learned to get along
no longer trying to make the other
someone we’re not
content to wile the days
in harmony
like the ocean and the rocks
gentle lapping wears away
the rough surfaces to smooth
them out over time.