Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Weak Instruments



When people are playing in a band
they know the starring roles go to the trumpets
and the drums but when players


are relegated to the triangles or sand blocks
should they reconsider their goals
to choose a hobby that better utilizes their skills?

Perhaps they are content to be on the field
and on the bus going to all the events
with a talented ensemble wearing the same uniform

and marching along with real musicians
while they add the finer detail to each performance.

Whether it is the assembling at a funeral procession
on the streets of New Orleans or the selection
for a high school assembly to spur the team on

they are among the best, included because
they want to be, part of the glue that holds the band
together because their own ego is kept in abeyance

by the instrument they've chosen to play,
however weak it may be.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Freeways


Five lane highways crossing the land
from San Diego to Sacramento
different on-ramps with speeds posted
at sixty-five. During rush hour(s) it  slows
to twenty-five but as long as the traffic is moving
there is little complaint. 


The distance from 405 in Huntington Beach 
to the San Gabriel foothills
takes about an hour and a half on a normal day
allowing for construction and other delays
but yesterday the roads were clear. 


Where were all the other travelers
who crowd the roads on weekends?
Was it the cost of gas that kept them home?
Were they watching the Olympics 

or maybe tired from a day at the beach 
and did not want to venture out after 7:00? 

Whatever the case we were given a gift of time,
arrived home refreshed from the trip
animated and excited from an annual visit with friends
ready to settle in to Sunday routines, preparing
for the week ahead, finding it nostalgic to travel 

to the house on Old School House Road nestled 
at the foot of the San Gabriel mountains 

splashing in the swimming pool, cooking chicken on the grill,
playing table games and falling into conversations
about life and morality, laughing at silly things 


enjoying each other's company on a summer day in July. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Olympic Games



Colors of flags sewn into the many uniforms
fitting designs for sports like swimming, volleyball,
rowing, basketball, gymnastics, weightlifting and more.

Formal attire for the parades and gentry class
athletes, from every country, converge into London
recognizing each other from other competitions
looking to become the best in their category.

All are seeking the gold, fearing the shame or injury
upon this world stage. Years of practice
proceed this moment, nerves must be kept
in abeyance, focus on the image of winning.

Rehearse the routine in their mind, don’t let doubt
give a particular slant, hold fast to the perfect model,
and in the silence before the game begins

say a prayer to a higher power,
in the language of their mother
asking for a blessing on this special day.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Standard Sizes



Walk into any department store
to find rows and rows of standard sizes
although without notice they change from small
to something much larger.

Seats in movie theaters have increased in size
something it the hormones and genetically altered
plants have caused humans
to grow wider and bigger than they used to be.

We are like dinosaurs preparing for extinction
while the rich become richer and larger
dwarfing the little people who manufacture
clothing and furniture

but as the population increases
it seems wiser to shrink in size
by growing smaller, eating less food,
taking less space, requiring fewer resources

becoming like ants marching along in a row
or maybe by allowing one queen bee
to reproduce for the rest of us
while we, the lowly worker

shoulder the needs
of the population, toiling
from sunrise to sunset.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Looking At Life Through A Mirror



Looking through a mirror is looking at an opposite world
very much like my own but what is left is on the right.
If I could see the reflection of a Republican
would he be a Democrat in the world beyond the glass?

In this opposite word where black is still black
and yellow is yellow would the names be switched?
A book held up to a reflection can’t be read in a mirror
but if it is written backwards the image is easy to understand.

There is no sound in that planet, at least none
that crosses through the silver plated glass
no aromas or perfumes, like television but different
the vision of everything I see looks back at me.

A mirror is a perfect tool to study expressions
to find blemishes and imperfections
to see profiles, that double chin, a nose that’s too long
and a belly that protrudes too far out.

Most people can’t walk past a mirror without looking at it
but sometimes the distortions that occur are only in their head.
Self hatred can emerge and take over every waking hour
and the image in the mirror is avoided at all costs

or one becomes like a teenager,
fixing hair, putting on make-up
trying on another outfit,
flexing muscles, practicing the flirt.

I’ve talked to many who have watched themselves cry
looking for pity from the spirit who dwells inside the wall.
Some have rehearsed kissing on the surface, opening their eyes
to see what their face would look like if they do it with someone else.

Alice is the only one who crossed the plane
and entered the world beyond the glass
a world of wonder and make-believe
absurd in any real context

therefore I am content to stay on this side for now.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Self Portrait



Most artists at some point
get around to painting their self portrait,
Mirror and lights arranged to reflect
back to the painter’s eye then transferred
to the canvas in abstract strokes
the skin bag that holds them together.

Some try to recreate the image accurately
while others try to capture the soul.
One artist I know was painting a series
of dead white presidents and painted himself
along this vein with velvet suit and white powdered
wig all stoic and looking like the father of our country.

Another artist, a retired doctor who knows anatomy
perfectly had trouble with how many wrinkles
to include. He struggled with an exact portrayal
smoothing out the surface of his skin to reflect
the young man he remembered instead of the old one
he had become. He hasn’t finished yet preferring
to paint the faces of beautiful young woman.
He is an expert at this and is quite content
to leave his portrait unfinished.

Every artists knows distortions
can exist if the eyes are done right.
They are the source of light where the individual
dwells. A viewer can see into the psyche
and recognize the person through the eyes.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Philosophy from the Cherry Blossoms



When I was young my faith was strong,
indoctrinated at an early age
seeing god everywhere,
especially in the love my parents gave
I was nurtured and cared for by everyone.

A public education created a crack in the belief
the saints of old, especially the popes, were hedonistic
power seekers according to historical text
the illusion of holiness created by the colorful vestments,
grand churches, and chalices of gold, tarnished under examination.

Working in the rectory as a teenager
gave me a closer look at the fragile nature of priests
stumbling about in sweaty cassocks
smelling of alcohol and too much smoke
creepy was the feeling I got when they came too close.

At least as a married woman with young children to raise
I could recreate my parents efforts
and build a home based on love
physically strong and optimistic about the future
it was still easy to believe in god and prayer.

After being a witness to many violent acts:
shooting of a president, his brother and a preacher,
the Vietnam war on every major channel
watching friends and family destroyed by the abuse of drugs
wondering where god was and why didn’t he intervene

became too busy to think much more, yet feeling
abandoned, maybe it was I who turned away
can’t blame god for not being there
when I’m the one who moved away
so I developed a philosophy of life by which I live.

Death is the sentence for living so there is no hiding from it
no need to fear it because death will come of its own accord
purpose for life is to live and experience as much as you can
love those who love you and let them know often
see the wonders in the world, create something new

be kind, even when you don’t want to
say you’re sorry if you hurt someone
clean up the messes you make
time to be alone, plant something
and watch it grow.

Don’t wait for people to call
make regular contact to let them know
you’re thinking of them but don’t take on their misery
sometimes a person has to figure out
how to get up by themselves.

I watched a documentary about Japan’s tsunami
and how the people looked to the cherry tree
to remind them how to live. The trees bloomed again in springtime
even after a devastating disaster 
reminding the survivors 
new life begins by beginning it again each day.

However fleeting the blossoms might be
from bud, to flower, to fluttering petals
the cherry blossom can awaken your faith
find the will to live and don't be overcome with grief
create a future upon the wreckage of any circumstances

and celebrate life for all it's worth.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It’s All Good



“It’s all good,” she liked to say
as her world fell down around her
she lost her job, her home, her car
her friends didn’t want her around anymore

and like Job in the old testament
she accepted all the bad luck
like a tree in a storm,
“Just the way it goes, sh** happens.”

Smiling to herself she tried to make others laugh
taking kindness as it was offered
but for those who extended their hands
they were also pulled into her abyss

and were frightened by her desperation
engulfed by her grief, never deluded
by her cheerful attitude and passive manner
and now that the end was near

she must face reality or be swept out to sea
because she didn’t take the time
to build a dingy or something else to stay afloat
for the tsunami coming her way.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Snakes



Anacondas, pythons and boa constrictors
dwell in the land of the rain forest,

meat eaters, not to be mistaken
with their poisonous brethren:  

black mamba, brown snake , and vipers
inject venom into their prey.

The body of Satan from the Garden of Eden
found in branches and  hidden in shadows

unlike the performers such as King Cobras
that dance for an audience before they strike

or the rattlesnakes, vipers, that hide under rocks
sounding out a warning then they attack.

The asp was Cleopatra’s form of suicide
hidden in a basket of figs so she could join her Antony.

The wilderness is filled with garter snakes 
and rat snakes, adders and more

non poisonous mud snakes, water snakes, 
king snakes and corn snakes.

Like insects, common in the outdoor environments,
but because they take their heat from the sun

lay dormant in winter away from the cold.
Black snakes and blue snakes, ringed snakes

and diamond patterned, fascinating reptiles
of mythology and parables avoidable

if people don’t get careless 
and are aware of what is around them.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Movie Massacre



Anticipation for the last of a trilogy,
Batman fighting off anarchy,
and in the genre of violence, a lone man
entered a theater in Colorado,
and systematically shot and killed twelve
innocent citizens of Aurora.

The brother of one of the murdered said,
“Don’t show his picture, don’t utter his name,
hold before us instead, the names and pictures
of the dead, blameless victims of random bloodshed.
Don’t give notoriety to the perpetuator
deny him his fame, don’t make this incident
a topic for reality television.”

Soon the media rushed in,
and true to form, they gathered pictures
from his life, and plastered the details
on every station, replaying again and again
his moment of infamy. The details from the deceased
were buried, attention to them a bullet point on a list
of causalities, maybe a picture of their grieving families.

This is the second such tragedy for the people in Colorado,
living in Rocky Mountain beauty and wilderness grandeur.
Deep in the bowels of unequaled wonder
dwells an evil that rears its vile nature
in the minds of the lonely to wreck havoc
among the lives of the innocent.

A prayer to the injured and deceased
and their families.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Table for Ten



A fifties d├ęcor at the corner restaurant
with chrome chairs and Formica table tops
and there she sat at a table for ten.  

All the settings and plastic covered menus
were ready for the other nine guests to arrive
she waited patiently with her eyes on her smart phone.

We ordered our lunch and finished before she received a call
her fingers touched the screen to send out a text message.

We paid for our meal and walked out the door to sit on a bench
waiting for the box office to open at the theater next door. 

She walked out alone and out to her car, 
leaving the table for ten
for another family to fill.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Picture Of Friendship



You showed me a picture of your son and his two friends,
all soldiers involved in a foreign war,
their faces were pressed against each other
as they posed for the camera.

From their smiles it is easy to imagine their friendship
how your house filled with laughter and rough housing,
your grocery bill higher than normal.

Their bond built from days in the battle zone
in extreme conditions where they built trust
and a lasting friendship, torn apart by enemy gunfire.

One of the three dead, now buried in Utah
what a waste of life and human potential
a sacrifice made for the American people.

All the tears shed does not stop the dread
when your son and his friend sign-up for another
tour of duty in their need to continue the fight for freedom. 

May you rest in Peace Chris.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Storm Clouds and Irises



An off road adventure 
in the back hills of New Mexico
fifty miles north of the Ruidoso Raceway
we saw storm clouds gather along the horizon
forcing us back to the main highway. 

Thunder and lightning preceded the hail
that 
pelted the Durango unmercifully.
We waited under an overpass 
until the storm was done.   

Minutes later the chaos 

subsided and the sun 
broke through the clouds. 

We continued our journey
up to the iris farm where many 

varieties of flowers bloomed.

A few other artist braved the weather 

and spread out among the gardens
to paint. We were careful to avoid 

the puddles along the walkway.
Inspired by the aftermath of the summer 

rain we painted until the stars came out. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cartoons on Celluloid



Frame by frame a story is told
with 
positions altered and a slight 
shift of the hands and feet
add a little music and dialogue

project it onto a screen 

then let the magic unfold.
Characters of all kinds can get involved: 

a mouse, damsel in distress or a green alien invader.

They can interact in little adventures
of no consequence dealing with problems
resolved in fifteen minutes or less

put together by some of the finest artists
who illustrate a setting in simple lines
with perspective intact and proportion exact
animated using fast forwarding machines.
They are loved by children of all ages. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Heat Wave



Heat spread across the land
waves of hot air stirred
by an unrelenting sun
scorched arid lands and dried brush
a perfect stage for wild fires

Vultures picked through
the bodies of desert creatures
who expired in the extreme temperatures

no Oasis for relief
along the dunes and acres
of undulating sands

reminiscent of beaches along the coastline
shell fragments from ancient seas
a vacation paradise long forgotten

Desert dwellers with skin 

wrinkled like the alluvial fans
 and their lips, concave crevices
repelling any kiss barely able to utter words

begging for relief to cool their throats
or breath 
enough for a prayer 
to release themselves to death

when all hope is lost a haboob
blows across the earth
covering everything with dust

dust to dust, all is lost

the heat continues
for ten more days.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Art Show



Every blank canvas
transformed with color
giving shape to a portrait
a landscape, an emotion
lines to define composition

brush strokes and blending
light and dark

and the response

of the viewer gives value to each piece
some will be appreciated immediately
while others take time
to reveal their mystery
self expression for the artist

best resonates in another
a poem, whose rhythm
synchronizes with their souls

a vision manifested in values
and hues, content juxtaposed
upon a surface igniting
transformation
lifting faces 
up toward the sun.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Evolving Woman



Evolving woman
from dependency
to independence
once fearful
now brave
once hidden, now public

The evolving woman
speaks her mind
takes the helm
becomes a leader

her menstrual cycle
no longer disrupts her moods
her creativity gives birth
to manifesting her ideas

The evolving woman
embraces growing old

as a time for reflection
and prayer providing wisdom
for the next generation.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Mother’s Voice



I hear her voice all the time
“Take a jacket. Speak slowly.

Be careful. Is that your best choice?”
Words that kept me on track
kept  me safe long after I’d grown.
I hear her voice when I speak to my children

a mixture of strict with lots of wisdom
encouragement and sounding board

a wake-up call when they sleep too long
a voice filled with laughter 
filling their life with love.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Baby Hawk



Sparrows fluttering, chattering
crows sweeping from trees 

to telephone wires
something is happening
then I see it, a baby hawk
zooming in and capturing
one of them.

Their response is complete silence,
no movement from the feathered friends
hiding in the bushes,
no cry  
from the sentinels above the rooftops,
no sympathetic plea for the unlucky one
when it is over, the hawk flies away.

After a moment they start to move
today they missed the threat
no emotion for the one who was sacrificed
the cost of living in the wild lands of suburbia. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Photo Album



Click, click, click of the camera lens
perfect smile, perfect face, perfect place

a chronology of time in freeze frame
from toothless grin to curious toddler

up through the awkward years
with braces and skin blemishes

through the scowl and glare of adolescence
at high school dances and senior prom


young adulthood exhibiting greater confidence
and self esteem, then comes that special girlfriend,

he falls in love then marries to settles down,
before too long there he is holding a little one

It seems like a few minutes in the photo album
turning decades with each page

a lifetime caught in pictures along the way.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Night Lights



Ribbons of light, red and yellow
weave through the freeways
at the edge of town
traffic signals, like rhinestones
on a pair of jeans ,
add sparkle to the evening display

starting just before sunset
blending with the building lights
neon colors announce business
and entertainment venues
lighting streets and walkways.  

From the top of the hill looking down
into the city an array of lighting
looks like several pieces of jewelry
antique heirlooms and costume flash 

inviting people to come out to play
see the sparkle from the county fair
and the somber glow from the stained glass

windows in the church below
all illuminated to keep the dark away

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Morning Blessings



The morning news from live grenades
found in a paper sack under a bridge

and sharks off the coast
of Cape Cod, warn me life is dangerous
and I must live in fear. 


A silent ache creeps into my bones
a weariness from a world too heavy to carry
by putting away the newspaper
and concentrating on god’s messages in nature

I can change my point of view.

I see roses in full bloom, a butterfly
flitting from flower to flower
birds chirping on the telephone wire
hear the sounds of children playing next door.


A warm cup of coffee brought 

to me by my husband
conversation easy 

after so many years together 

white billowy clouds overhead
the gentle nudge of my yellow lab
a waft of sweetness from the honeysuckle
attracting humming birds and honey bees


the communication is clear
life is worth living and oh so dear
by focusing on what is worthwhile 

letting god’s love wash over me 
making everyday a blessing.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sleep



When babies are very young
they wake throughout the night
crying when hungry,


have a belly ache, or diaper’s wet
then comes that magic point
when they sleep all night. 

Sometimes, around seven years old,
a few start to wander at night
walk about even go outside 


never waking while they sleep
playing with friends from their dreams
getting back to bed unharmed.

At some point childhood is gone
adolescence becomes a deep sleep
for all the changes and growing up


adulthood and parenthood
exhausted from the lack of sleep
longing for some solitude
a few hours of soma bliss.  

Then 
along comes old age 
wanderings at night common place 
fitful sleep throughout night
snoozing through a favorite TV show.


Awake at midnight playing on the computer
‘till 3:00 A.M., sleep again, awake by 5:00, 

down by 10:00, then up again
longing for a good long sleep.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

County Fair



Screams across the summer sky
aroma of fried Twinkies in the air
lines of teens waiting for the Ferris Wheel
people moving toward the farmers’ stalls
waiting for a turn at the foot vibrator

smoothing the ache from hours
of walking at the county fair
before heading to the amphitheater
to listen to the sounds
of a rock and roll band from long ago.

Cotton candy or candy apples
ice cold Dots or corn on the cob
so many choices at the food stands
then a face painting or fake tattoo
a photograph from long ago

printed in sepia tones
a lasting memento of this time and place
then to the enclosed buildings for art shows
with various collections of Barbie dolls
and post cards from all over the world.

Every year the same tradition
come early, stay late
bring a date, then my honey
next the kids, now the grandkids
watching the circus acts

taking a chance at the ring toss
winning the big prize with the darts
or basketball.   

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Friendship



Your eyes look so sad
under the baseball cap you wear backwards
the mischievous glimmer in your eyes
now faded , your smile turns down
so sorry for your loss, a good friend
you met in kindergarten ran around
with through high school, fought along side
in Vietnam, you counted on him to have your back
now he is gone and you miss him so.   

May he rest in peace. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Time



The clouds hang close to the ground
this summer it is too cool to enjoy the water
have to dwell indoors to avoid the chill
finally by two, the sun breaks through
hurry out to play, eat dinner outdoors
stay until the sun goes down
sometime after nine 


but the evening gets cold again
the fire pit will have to wait another time
tried to stay up late but fell asleep
didn’t want another overcast
morning slept until ten 

dreaming about other summers 

when the days were long
hours stretched out ahead
begging to be filled with baseball games
and long hikes, swimming holes
meeting new friends and falling in love
yearning for school to begin again.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fireflies



Dark contrasting against bright lights
moon reflecting on a quiet lake
animals peering through the woods 


headlights passing along the empty highway
and in the open fields on a summer evening
when Venus is easy to find in the sky 


fireflies, like surreal creatures, flashing
on and off in the darkening light
awakening the senses to a carefree summer 


telling stories after swimming in the lake
chasing the cousins through the trees
meeting the kids from across the water 


falling in love, hiding in the long grass
watching fireflies, like stars in the sky
evening temperatures make clothes sticky


moist skin now liquid with sweat
decide to go skinny dipping into cool water
then another run along the beach  


until the summer storm
tears up the peace bringing an end
to vacation leaving only memories.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fourth of July


Firecrackers pop at all hours
the splash of magnesium splatters
across the sky, family pets hide inside
while children hurry out to see the display 

oohs and ahhs with each explosion
a patriotic ritual from wars gone by
family barbeques and block parties
a hand held sparkler and whistling Pete 

laughter stirred in with lively conversation
at the only holiday of the summer

but for the soldiers at war
out on distant lands
see facebook postings with all the revelry
makes their job that much harder 

wondering about the meaning of war
and do people back home really care
they are risking their lives for our freedom
killing if they have to, watching their own display 

of real bombs without the beer and BBQ
flashes of light screaming across the sky.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Whistle Stop




Train pulls into at Santa Ana
I climb up two steps
with suitcase in hand.

Another toot, toot
the rails rumble
as I stumble to find a seat 

Scan the back alleys
and storage yards 
of the city facades to L.A.

Get off at Union Station 
catch a cab to my apartment
at Sixth and Grand

Wait at the railroad crossing
listening for the whistle cry
then watch the train go by.