Monday, April 30, 2012

Fragile, Handle With Care

Some people can’t use the hands
hanging from the end of their arms
that opposable thumb and forefinger
are no advantage for normal life skills.

They can’t cook, garden or manipulate
small tools for surgery or needlework
lacking the dexterity of primates,
helpless for most manual work.
Their ancestors probably didn’t labor in the fields
or sit at a loom to weave carpets for hours and hours.
They might have come from a long line of scholars
book smart with ideas and philosophies all made of air,

or aristocratic heirs with servants at their command
becoming passive with the simplest of tasks
like a small child, waiting to be fed, dressed, and bathed
using their eyes and petulant lips to show pleasure and distain.

Royal privilege pumped through their veins
their features like porcelain sculptures,
too dainty for play, placed high on a shelf
out of reach, whose purpose was for show
reminders of another time long ago

before the masses claimed their freedom
and smashed through the fortress walls   
toppling  icons and earthly thrones
ransacking castles and emptying coffers
spilling blood and losing a head or two.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Conversation With An Artist

“When did you first see yourself
as an artist?” I asked him. 

“When I was three,” he replied.
"My mother saw something
in my finger paintings that showed
an artist inside so she provided

lots of pencils, paint and paper
to let the artist within me emerge.

Art is not a talent but the ability to see:
shapes, formed by light and shadow,
details, accentuated with the gradation of values,
life, recreated through contrast, composition, and color

each revealing a point of view or abstract interpretation.
My teachers have always said,
Learn the basics so you can create
masterful abstractions."

"I’ve always thought the statement
was a ploy to get students
to suffer through the basics,” I said.

“If you study the master’s early works
then look at their later abstractions
you can see the mastery in the distortions
of artists like Dali or Picasso," he insisted.

"Some novice painters want to make the leap
without mastering the basics and often fall short.

I made a living as an illustrative artist
completing complex reproductions
of people, animals and buildings.

I know the stripped pattern of a zebra
is very different from a tiger

and each zebra has a distinctive unique pattern.  

Art is a way of seeing and can be taught.
I am here to teach you that skill
so get to work and take off your blinders.”

Real conversation with Dana Newman,
Art Teacher at Art Studio in Westminster, Ca

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Letter Home

I’ve heard it said that each of us is treated
with the same attitudes our birth was greeted

if it was a happy time, much love and anticipated
we walk through life with those same opinions of our self

we expect to be loved and greeted enthusiastically
throughout our lives

but if instead we were unplanned
complaint and regret filled the pregnancy

then our birth and life have that anxiety
expressed through a foul mood and irritability

our best intentions are met with resistance
those we love can’t seem to return it

early trauma has a similar effect
separated from our bodies with a near death

for those it is a heightened awareness
an intuition that goes beyond normal consciousness

like a knowing from somewhere above
a link created that goes beyond average perception

on the other hand if that birth caused near death
or actual death for the mother

buried in the subconscious for the child,
a guilt or apology that is never expressed.

How we are born matters
it affects how we live ever after

the capacity for love is expanded for those who are loved
and for all the others a barren landscape of loss.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fiery Skies

Larger than a mini-van
the meteor hurled through space
leaving a fiery streak across the sky
breaking into a thousand pieces
remnants littered on the Sierra mountainside.

Artifacts with messages from outer space
hidden in the meteorites
traces of iron, magnesium, nickel and zinc
elements already upon the earth
some will be found but most dissolve
becoming an integral part of the landscape.

A hiker walking through snow
down a hill and there he sees
a chunk of rock like so many others
he picks it up and studies it
then drops it and walks away

never knowing he touched something
from faraway, like a foreigner
speaking an unknown language

the message remains undelivered, 
left for another to find
or lost forever upon the hill
a book unread by an illiterate.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Among The Rich

It is easier for fragile souls
to live among the rich and socialize with the famous
never letting on they’re not one of them

praying luck and wealth
will rub off and they can be counted

among the wealthy by association
dressed in last year’s styles
of the finest clothes
living at addresses they can’t afford
driving cars and taking trips

that are beyond their reach
but hanging on by golden threads
getting invitations to every party

consuming designer drugs
and the finest alcohol trying to be the one
who is the most fun to be around
meeting the right people
becoming indispensible to the current star
who needs a friend or shoulder to cry upon

having just enough talent to look like the real thing
one of the faceless members of the inner circle

but when fame and wealth run out
no real savings to fall back on

pictures of better days
showing back stage with the best of them
a one night stand the entry point

but discarded when the day reveals
the beauty in the evening light
is but a troll  when the sun shines through.

Outside the rain splashes against the sidewalk
pounding the glass and the window sill
like laughter from those early days in school

when they mocked your ragged socks
and shabby clothes and didn’t choose you
for their team or wouldn’t sit with you at lunchtime

broken and worn from too much trying
you walk out into the rain

to be washed by bitter tears. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Leaving New Mexico

Arriving in Albuquerque
was a step back in history
with promises for a bright future

life went on as planned, television
two children and then like that
it was over, everything was left behind

heading to a new life near Kings Canyon
among the Sequoias and farmlands.
New Mexico became the past again -

tumbleweeds and lightening storms
cracked clay along the Rio Grande
scorpions hidden in the sand.

Shoulders bent from the recent beating
but still strong and determined
to use the opportunity of change

to awaken senses and capture
opportunities that can be found
in adversity. Stimulated by the challenge

of discovering blessings in life
in the face of no evidence
knowing when circumstances

bring us to our knees
it is time to pray and offer our suffering
in faith, to an ever loving god.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hide and Seek


When we were children we played
hide and seek on rainy days
finding places in the house
we never thought to enter:
the back corner of the closet,
mother’s cedar chest,
under the bed with all the dust bunnies,

between the refrigerator and the wall -
barely breathing when “it” walked by.
If we could sneak away
we raced to the safest place
but if we were caught
we were “it” for the next turn.

The more players the more fun
suitable for outdoors on grandpa’s farm
though dangerous with the occasional
black widow and rattlesnake
hidden away from the summer sun.

We played a different kind
of hide and seek
when we were grown

hiding behind masks in adulthood
passing as strangers
in a blood thirsty world of subterfuge
trying to make it in the world competing
for the right to marry, buy a home and
build a life for our children to grow.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Some people value their friendships
greater than gold and material comforts
rely on them to get through the tough times
company for the cold nights
someone to laugh and play with
to make each day more special
because they’re together
for a lifetime
and some, like me,
are married to their best friend.

There is no one I’d rather spend time with
our conversations are the most intimate
we get along most of the time
and feel too lonely when we are apart
other people intrude and we get anxious
to leave them behind so we can be alone

with each other, planning
our new adventures,
recalling our best memories
we banter like two comedians
routines practiced without effort
we finish each other’s sentences.

People I know get angry
thinking there is something wrong with me
they say, “You don’t have many friends,
and the ones you have you keep away.”
but what they don’t understand is I spend time
with my best friend and he’s the one

I want to be with
living is simple with him
no gossip, no jealousy, no envy
laughter is frequent
satisfaction attainable
conversations provocative
and mind expanding.

We’ve been friends
for almost fifty years
married for forty-four
we’ve parented and traveled
together, remodeled homes
and watched the same television shows
the older we get the more we become
exclusive, safe in the friendship
we have together.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Who Are You?

There was a time your body was growing
shoes didn’t fit, breast burst forth
feelings deep inside, changing from little girl

to woman. What used to be out of reach
was now attainable, knowledge, power, confidence -
once only a promise, now acquired

but changes still occur and the diminished capacity
of aging takes you by surprise.

The constant companion of pain
gives time and place
to a mind that wanders

too many people are missing
from this existence,
you are no longer trying to become someone

but to hang on to life.

Still young by old folks standards
the thought of twenty more years
leaves you tossing in your bed at night

but I guess with so many in your age group
coming to the same point in life
the standards for aging will change.

I saw an advertisement for diapered underwear
smooth as silk to be worn under glamorous gowns

so... if everyone else is doing it
you can still be active in your lifestyle
whatever it is you do

no wonder I can't sleep at night.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Enough Already

I always looked at you as confident -
enough money to choose your life style
coming and going as you pleased
you had more than most but never flaunted it.

Then one day you took me by surprise
you were sitting with women who were new to you
bragging about your husband’s position,

filling their ears with your accomplishments
making up for the fact you were a
stranger trying to establish a position
to mark your place in society.

Maybe you are off kilter because
your son married into a wealthy family
far beyond what you have known

and every time you turn around
you see these strangers

having a greater influence on him.
He overlooks you when making plans
hanging his future in their view of what he should do.

Somehow you were diminished in my eyes
when you went on and on about your travels
and your wealth which is greater than average.

All those sitting with you
seemed interested but
dust to dust all things disappear,
artifacts, positions, and fame...

the only real legacy that matters
is the offspring who carry your name.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Waiting Is Over

The wait is over
sunlight warms the earth
bones, tired from shivering

take in the heat, like bread in the oven
browning in the higher temperature
hungry for the first season's barbecue.

Jackets hung in the back closet
woolen socks washed and stored,
pastel colors of light cotton

adorn the little girls.

Daffodils and sunflowers
gathered for the mantels and dining room tables
bringing splashes of color indoors.

The full moon of April
shimmers across the lake
the first time to stay out late

free of winter's worries
breathing in the promise of warm days ahead
chasing fireflies and fishing while listening

to the hoot owl, "Hoo, hoo, hoo."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Egg Hunting

Eggs are hidden throughout the yard
some in plain sight,
others on every step leading up the fort.

Children learn to look in trees where two branches
form a perfect V, a safe landing
for a boiled egg dyed with vinegar and food coloring
or under boulders placed in garden patches.

A quick shake of the plastic eggs tells
if there is money in those colored shells
more than chocolate and jelly beans
but quarters, pennies and gold coins.

For some the Easter search is early
when the bunny has hidden the loot
but for others it is not until late afternoon
after church and an early dinner with family.

Adults try to persuade their little one to share
their bounty, which some do quite generously
while others only offer the treats they like the least.

Little ones smile with chocolate grins
reaching for clothes leaving chocolate fingerprints
touching walls and books until their hands are clean.

Happy Easter Everyone.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Self Centered Story

Personal reflection
is the beginning
of most poetry

inner most
thoughts and feelings

a point of view
both internal
and outward
allowing life

to stimulate

shedding light
on intimate thoughts

no secret
too hidden
no emotion
too raw

to examine
and expose

letting the reactions

fall where they may
waking the readers
to look
at themselves

and reflect.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

After the Tornado

Just like that… it was over
like a two year old throwing a tantrum
things were strewn everywhere
one cowboy boot lodged in a tree across the street
the other one never found

The kitchen where every detail
was hand painted and selected
lay broken or scattered all around
no time to cry, these were things after all

Everyone who mattered
had survived
time to clean-up
and count my blessings
salvaging all artifacts or memories

buried in the debris.
Left wondering what message god tried to deliver...
I’m a good person, go to church, give to the poor
volunteer where I can.

Lord, why are you trying to get my attention
this way?

Maybe my, "live and let live," attitude
has become the problem.
I shouldn’t be so accepting
to the sins of others?

I’ve become too materialistic
gathering things for myself
instead of getting the good news out
to all souls who need saving.

Let me become like a tornado
blowing lots of wind

leaving nothing standing
so everyone can hear the message

to give praise to the every loving
god up above.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Weekend With The Grandsons

05:30 P.M. Finding a place for their luggage and backpacks
06:30 P.M. Cleaning up after dinner
07:30 P.M. Working on a model of a helicopter
08:30 P.M. Blowing up the air mattress
09:30 P.M. Falling asleep on the couch
03:30 P.M. Getting up to go to bed

05:30 A.M. Waking up in the morning to have breakfast together
06:30 A.M. Taking showers and baths
07:30 A.M. Getting in the car to go to San Diego
08:30 A.M. Stopping for gas and bathroom breaks
09:30 A.M. Arriving at the San Diego History Museum
10:30 A.M. Lining up for the Titanic Display
11:30 A.M. Waiting in line for the Movie
12:30 P.M. Driving out to Balboa park for a picnic
01:30 P.M Heading back home
02:30 P.M. Stopping at the rest stop for a potty break
03:30 P.M Telling Easter stories in slow traffic
04:30 P.M Arriving home, unpacking car
05:30 P.M. Eating Pizza
06:30 P.M. Watching The Simpsons
07:30 P.M. Playing, Go Fish
08:30 P.M. Blowing up the air mattress
09:30 P.M. Falling asleep on the couch
12:30 P.M. Getting up to go to bed

05:30 A.M. Waking up in the morning to have breakfast together
06:30 A.M. Taking a shower or bath
07:30 A.M. Painting the model pieces for Titanic
08:30 A.M. Gluing pieces together
09:30 A.M. Taking a break outside, playing with the dog
10:30 A.M. Watching “Like Mike” on HBO
11:30 A.M. Fixing lunch: Spam, French toast and eggs
12:30 P.M. Playing outside, talking about “stuff”
01:30 P.M Working on the Titanic model again
02:30 P.M. Playing a board game: Sequence
03:30 P.M Finish watching “Like Mike”
04:30 P.M Cleaning up the house before Bill got home
05:30 P.M. Eating burritos for dinner
06:30 P.M. Watching The Simpsons
07:30 P.M. Playing Concentration
08:30 P.M. Blowing up air mattress
09:30 P.M. Falling asleep on the couch
03:30 P.M. Getting up to go to bed

05:30 A.M. Waking up in the morning to have breakfast together
06:30 A.M. Taking a shower or bath
07:30 A.M. Fixing Chocolate Oatmeal Fudge
08:30 A.M. Playing outside with the dog then reading practice words
09:30 A.M. Watching “Pawn Stars” on T.V.
10:30 A.M. Clean trash can, crush cans, empty dishwasher
11:30 A.M. Fix food for lunch
12:30 P.M. Aaron and Carol arrive with Sally
01:30 P.M Pack up car and say good-bye.