Friday, August 31, 2012

Rain Dance



The summer heat and drought sucked the life
out of the harvest. “We need rain!”

the tribe cried out to the chieftain and the shaman

who summoned the drummers and flute players bringing feathers
and headdresses, turquoise and specifically patterned clothing.

All the men and women gathered to dance for days
or until clouds formed and rain fell from the sky.

The dancers chanted and spun in circles pounding their feet
in a rhythmical beat one that was easy and not too fast

their eyes to the sky they shouted out until clouds gathered,  
“Hey ya ya, hey ya, hey ya ya, hey ya!”

Once the rain fell the job was done, tools were put away until
needed again. If the rain lasts too long they will dance counterclockwise

keeping the balance between humans and spirit
offering up rituals and prayers for blessings from above.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Waist Deep In Rainwater




Isaac threatened the Republican Convention
but veered to the west and hit the gulf coast instead

it gathered hurricane speed and came ashore in New Orleans
on the anniversary of Katrina, eight years before.

I thought all the hoopla was exaggerated and unnecessary
until I saw pictures of survivors waist deep in rainwater

houses flooded up to the roof creating a natural disaster
before summer was through

realizing my complaints about high temperatures and humidity
were whiny and unnecessary when the alternative

of walking waist deep in rainwater to cross the street
while everything of value was getting soaked.

Whatever was important yesterday; office gossip, due dates,
medical appointments and the starting of school

all forgotten when standing waist deep in rainwater

with no empty boat available for you and your dog.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Life on the Streets



Hunger
the first symbol of poverty
a gnawing pain deep in the gut
making garbage tossed in the dumpster

a substitute for regular food
replacing 
substance for flavor  
with anything that offers sustenance

a person can live without a home
benefitting from the generosity
of strangers and public sympathy.

Sickness
follows close behind
living without adequate shelter
consuming food of questionable value
exposed to the elements and parasites
upon the street

a toothache that never heals
pain in the gut from internal ills
an anguish that can't find relief
no ribbon for the disenfranchised

lingering on abandoned streets
in alley ways and under freeways
huddled with others like themselves
hidden from the rest of the world


grateful for the gift of clothing,
a sleeping bag, a place to wash,
a chance to clean-up for a little while.

Regret
for false moves and bad luck
taking the limited time on earth
and squandering all opportunities
drowning sorrows in drugs or drink
leaving the mind and body numb

trying to forget about lost love
and mistakes in one swallow
the only choice left is survival
trying to find pleasure in whatever

life has left, a five dollar hand-out
from a stranger, a warm meal at the church,
a friendship with a rat in the gutter,
no thoughts of suicide, even though
it looks like there is no further down to go.

Death
comes to all living things the rich and famous
the downtrodden and forgotten
children, animals, plants. Birth
comes with a life sentence,
it is not good or bad, fair or unfair

right or wrong, it is just the way it is
and each day could be the last
at the hands of a deranged maniac
or a mosquito with a deadly virus

when we meet the face of god
will He accept us into His heavenly kingdom
or will it look like it did on earth
scavenging and surviving 

on the savage streets?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Creative Juices



If we could gather the fruits of ideas from the inspiration tree
and squeeze them out for all to see, manifested in physical form:
dance, art, music, math, science, architecture, social structures,
what a difference we could make in the world but so often
we doubt  our vision, or those nudges from the divine.

We pass them off as impossible intrusions and thus they languish
inviting rats and other pest to destroy any semblance of creative
juice leaving a stagnant stench, the crud of human misery.

What if the weather changes, economic downturn and political unrest
were the result of our sinfulness and slothfulness, or narcissistic
perusal of the trite and trivial, leaving the grander schemes unopened
and untried. God is having a tantrum to get our attention to wake us up
so we don’t fall victim to despair and to accept the challenges set before us.

Get to work rather than fear the end is near.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Let's Dance



I remember the night
along the sand
the moon was bright
your eyes on fire
we danced the tango
to the mariachi band.

There was that time
in the streets of Spain
we clicked our heels
to the flamenco beat
you looked so handsome
with beads of sweat
dripping from your upper lip.

We swayed our hips
to the salsa heat
Latin synchronicity
in our quick feet
dancing until dark
at the wedding in the park. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Walking on the Moon



I watched
from earth,
listening
to every word,
cheered
when they
stepped

on the moon
then life
went
back to
normal. 
Questions emerged.
Was there
a conspiracy?
Did the event
ever happen?
Now he’s gone
and I recall 
once again
the exhilaration
of those days
in space
my life joined
to his
when I looked

back at
the earth

from the
moon.
His exploration
of new frontiers
was captured 
in these words,


“A small step
for man
 a giant step
for mankind.”

In memory of Neil Armstrong

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Night Stalker



I remember
the summer
several years ago
we slept with the windows
closed because
a monster roamed
at night 

choosing random
victims
leaving death
and trauma
no one was safe
young or old

when the night
stalker prowled
in the neighborhood.

When he was caught
I studied his face,
handsome by some
standard,

but surely insane.
The teen who testified
against him

said the convict stared at him
throughout the trial
and when he stared back
the stalker winked.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Kittens In The Ivy



First a loud meow
then an orange head
peeked out 


through
the ivy
another tabby,
not much bigger,
appeared
and whispered  
in her ear
when a third head
popped out
each started
to yowl. 
Their cries
got the attention
of the yellow lab 
he gave them
a curious nudge

but when they 
crawled on to his feet
he ran away and hid.
No mama around
to fill their needs
“Meow, meow, meow.” 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tattoo Refreshed



A birthday gift
self selected
design approved
and perfected

several needles
filled with ink
inserted into my skin
left it wounded

and scarred but
imprinted

like a Navajo bracelet

from my childhood.
Time to return
to 
refresh the color 
turquoise and grey
outlined in black.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lottery Winner



A dollar
is all I
need

to play
the game

my numbers -
six to win -
the white
balls bounce
around

then selected
and displayed
I’m a winner


time to
collect
my prize. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Public Suicide



He liked big explosions
perfected special effects
pulled in great actors
and screen plays
made millions
but it wasn’t enough

somewhere
in the night
demons crept in
making him doubt
his own worth

his wealth
and fame
couldn’t fill the hole

so he parked
upon a bridge
climbed the fence
and took a dive
a public spectacle
of a different kind
made the evening news
all those
left behind 

wondered,
“What could
I have done?”

In Memory of Tony Scott 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Long Road Ahead



Nothing for miles
no one else on the road
no critters on the highway 

sun beating down
I'm all alone
so tired of the journey
no reprieve 
from 
the heat
perspiration 

on my upper lip, 
but my soul won’t let go
there is nothing else
to do but keep
my foot on the pedal
until the gas runs out
or maybe I'll find 

a place to stop
get a cold drink
fill-up the tank
get back in the car
let my dreams
guide me
keep on driving
until the vultures
circle overhead

or I arrive
at my final 
destination.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Becoming a Reptile



Some reptiles
live in deserts
under rocks
to keep cool

and stay very still
using the evening
to search for food.
After the last
several days
of triple digit heat
I decided
to become one.

I’ve shed my skin
no more lotion
I let the scales
build in layers
split my tongue

and learned to
like the taste
of insects.
I’ve dug a hole
to stay hidden
in the shade

until the sun fades


I'll crawl 
out again
when the moon
comes out

and the sun
goes down
behind the hill. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Angels of Creation



Before humans
wandered the earth
the work of creation began

in large workrooms
with lots of colors
and substances made
of water, 
earth, 
wind and fire.
Free reign was given
to the angels within
to design creatures
from blowfish to eels
anomie to hammer head
black bears and lions


pulling from the
imagination of god
where everything is
possible


yielding to external laws
of gravity and oxygen
but the basic design
in each creature
is the same;


the need for food, shelter
protection from prey
others like themselves

so they can reproduce
be born and to die


land creatures similar
to those in the water
some are plants or birds
others insects, mammals


and into this mix come humans
simple yet complex
given the power of the kingdom
and dominion over all
living things, Amen. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sister, Sister



During the years
of parochial education
children shivered
at the voice of the teachers
all draped in black

with faces peering
out of strange headdresses.
Even though the eyes

were often kind
and the faces
wrinkle free
there was something about
the framing of the face

perched on a tall body
under yards of black
cloth that made
even the bravest
child quiver

didn’t
matter what
was said

sounded like hell
was the consequences
for bad words
or impure thoughts
and for lies
however small.
"Sorry sister,
I have sinned 
please forgive me
and yes,
my homework 
is really done."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Sailor and the College Girl



In the years long ago
we met at a Sears coffee shop.
You worked in the toy department
and we could see each other
across the aisle.

We fell in love
I liked your hands,
so large and strong,
your pale blue eyes

and easy smile.
Our hearts connected
in August on the first summer
after we graduated.

You went off to join the Navy
I enrolled in college classes.
You asked me to marry 
after your first leave
I said, “Let’s wait awhile.”

Three years later we said, “I do.”
and have been together ever since.
Happy 44th. Anniversary, Sweetheart.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Twilight



No reflection in the mirror
light flickers across the floor
music plays through the night
they fall in love
on false hope


sun brings reality
to twilight’s duality
exposing in the morning light


betrayal, 
loss of face 
a broken heart...
time to make the rounds
on late night T.V.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer Heat



I hear the news of summer storms
in the desert and mountain regions
flash flood and tornado warnings
cool the land from the relentless heat
some think it will be a reprieve, 


until the sun shines again and humidity
fills the lungs, and the skin sweats,
making death look like a better alternative
than another day of three digit heat.

I lay in a dark room with shutters shut
fans on high and like a lizard in the shade
I lie perfectly still, an iced drink close at hand,
a spray bottle to spritz my face and neck,


Judge Judy on the television 

she's in an air conditioned courtroom 
while her caustic words make her guests
perspire and if they lie she makes them sweat.

What can I make for dinner without 
turning on the stove? A sandwich, 
salad, bowl of cereal or I’ll call my husband 
and ask him to bring home some fast food.

Evening arrives with an accumulation
from daylight hot, stale air intensified
and thoughts about a long night without relief.
I dread tomorrow 
wondering how I will survive
another day of summer heat.



Monday, August 13, 2012

Loose Cotton Clothing




Pictures of desert people draped in loose cotton
seemed strange when I lived in an area with four seasons.
For years I’ve seen pictures of them with their turbans
and their burkas, wondering why they hide away
under layers of loose clothing.
 
After this last heat wave their attire makes sense
layers of material to keep the skin cool,
protect it from the sun and occasional sand storm.
Enough cloth to make a little tent to squat under
until the haboob, or large dust cloud, passes.

While skin hardens with the oppression from the sun
and kidneys adjust to the harsh conditions
of drought and famine, we go about our business
and never notice how we are changing,

or when desert attire becomes commonplace
a practical modification for  climate change
restructuring a belief system to fit a god
who offers a scorched earth to survive upon.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Songs for Every Occasion



She seems to know a song for every occasion
she spoke to her brother after an earthquake
and kept singing, “Rolling, rolling on the river.”

Credence Clearwater Revival 


He wanted a rational conversation but instead
she remembered a line from another song,
“You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain,
Goodness gracious, great balls of fire.”
Jerry Lee Lewis

Later she was reading about the drought
in the Midwest and how the corn
was dying in the fields then sang out loud,
“How many ears must one man have before
he can hear people cry?”
Bob Dylan

She got a call from a friend who was complaining
about a current boyfriend, her only advice was
Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan,
you don't need to be coy, Roy, just get yourself free.”
Simon and Garfunkel 

When she attended a funeral 
for a neighborhood friend
the message she wrote in the card said, 
“We are all dust in the wind.”
Kansas

Some communications hit the mark
others are a nuisance and a bother
we argue about it on occasion and her response
is always the same,
The words of the prophets
are written on the subway walls.”
Simon and Garfunkel

I asked her when she planned to find work
she laughed out loud and sang,
“Different strokes for different folks,
 and so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby.”
Family Stone

I got fed up so I told her she has to go
she uttered something unintelligible
but I think I heard her say, “
Every new beginning
comes from some other beginning's end.”
Semisonic

I responded by singing,  “Hop on the bus, Gus,
you don't need to discuss much,  just drop 
off the key, Lee, and get yourself free.”
Simon and Garfunkel

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Service Dogs



I saw her drive up with two dogs in her SUV
she had a little boy, about three years old,
who stood beside her while she waited
for the man at the car wash.

She seemed nervous, scanning faces
of those standing around; the other workers
and customers, keept a firm grasp
on her son’s hand keeping him close.

She asked about getting her car detailed
one of the dogs had gotten sick
and even though she cleaned it up
it still smelled bad, especially in the heat.

The man took a whiff and curled his nose
pulled back and quoted her a price,
which she accepted. A little later we were
sitting outside waiting for our cars to get done.

I noticed the little red vests on the dogs
and asked her about them, she answered,
“They are service dogs, trained to work with people
who suffer from PTSD. They can sense anxiety

and come in close for a cuddle to soothe the mind
for one who suffers from memories of severe trauma.”
I noticed her tattoos, an American flag and USMC
I asked if she served and were the dogs for her.

She smiled and answered, “Yes, and yes,
since returning I get anxious with strangers
or loud sounds. The black and white border collie
will retire soon and the brindle shepherd is in training.”

“God bless you and thank you,”  I said,
then we talked about other things, about her young son
her future plans and up-coming trips. Prayers for this fragile woman,
daughter, sister, wife, mother, finding her way after surviving a war. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Speechless Model



She sat upon the cloth covered stool
with bright lights arranged to capture her features;
curve of her cheek, the line of her jaw
and glint in her eyes. She stared straight
ahead motionless and silent for twenty minutes. 


She took a break then assumed her position
never speaking a word. She wore 
a smooth black dress,
a single row of pearls, and a red rose 
tucked behind her ear. 

Each artist concentrated on the portrait from
the top of her head to her waist. Her shoulders
were a three quarters turn and her hands
folded upon her lap. Her Spanish ancestry
could be seen in her olive skin and brooding eyes,
her lipstick was the same
color as the red rose 
that adorned her hair.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tortillas and Other Flatbreads




Mothers around the globe
make tortillas for their families
some use wheat, others corn
but the process is basically the same

grind the grain to a fine powder
add some type of fat, salt and water
mix it together to get the right consistency
roll it out on a flat surface and cook it on a hot grill.

There is the arepa from Venezuela
bobboli for pizza in America
the bammy is a specialty of Jamaica
and barbari bread the taste of Iran.

Some are called cracker breads
and are cooked a little crisp
others are filled with spices
to add flavor to the basic dish

bolo de milho from  Brazil
chapatti hail from India
paraki is an Armenian favorite
focaccia is well known from Italy
and the lapyoshka all the way from Russia.

The gordita  matches its Spanish name,
the honokakor comes from Sweden,
injera is an Ethiopian essential,
and lefse a Norwegian staple,
mu shu shells a Peking delight.

Pita bread is so common in America
many forget in comes from our mid eastern
immigrants, the pupusa is from El Salvador
all these different breads taste like home
for different people around the world. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Glint On His Sword



You drew a picture of Michael the Archangel
paying close attention to his armor
and visage to make the attention
of his mind and body deeply focused
on his battle with Lucifer.

You choose watercolors of transparent hues
to add depth and symbolism
to your picture capturing a historical event
chronicled in the old testament.

You kept it awhile but finally found a buyer
who was thrilled to have this event
immortalized in artistic form for her home.

You asked her to take a picture for your record
and lo and behold a glint from Michael’s sword
made you realize the power of the painting
transcended time and space 

reminding us the battle against evil continues
and we must be ever watchful
for it is still a powerful force 
loose among us today. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Termite Inspector



His name was Pablo, termite inspector
by trade, punctual and meticulous
with flashlight in hand checking out
the logical places where droppings

might be found pointing out openings
where the pests might get in, serious
about his business until he saw the picture
on the easel. He asked, "Who is the artist?"

I told him it was me, he sighed and said,
“The girls are beautiful, I can almost hear 
the music they’re dancing to.”

I asked him if he had sisters who danced
he smiled and said, “No, it was me.”

He placed his left hand behind his back
tapped out a few steps then held his right arm up
tapped out a few more. He laughed out loud
said his mother made him do it and he loved it.

He liked guiding the girls while they twirled

in their brightly colored dresses
he wore a white
 shirt and straw sombrero
took in the smell of their perfume, listened to their pounding feet
in rhythm with the guitar's beat to a Mexican love song...
those were some of the happiest moments of his life. 

I asked him why he didn’t dance anymore
he touched his belly that protruded over his belt,
“My wife’s cooking has slowed me down
and I have children to support so I put away
my dancing clothes and hunt for termites instead.”

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Dream About a Danish Woman



Sometime, during the night, I had a dream
about a Danish woman. She seemed to be
about 28, was wearing a traditional dress
with 
blond hair arranged in a long braid.

She needed to take her driver’s test
but was worried her hair wouldn’t fit
into her Volkswagen Bug
and suggested to her husband
that he cut off her hair. 


He preferred she rolled it up on top 
of her head but she was afraid
she wouldn’t be able to fit into the car
or be off balance and fall to the floor.


She decided to wind it up like a rope
he could take it and arrange it on the back seat.
she wouldn’t get out of the car until
the test was completed at which point 


I woke-up craving a cinnamon bun 
or other Danish pastry treat 
with some hot coffee and cream.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Focus on Love


Most think about love
as the first stirrings in a heart
when desire to be with another person
takes precedence over everything else.


The longing can become an obsession
until contact is made and love is realized
but the need to posses sometimes
overruns rational thinking 


and love becomes containment
and control rather than a spontaneous
relationship of give and take
especially when the object of desire


does not return the affection
and is repelled rather than attracted
to the one who offers devotion,
but if love wants what is best for another,


the pursuant will back off letting the loved one
decide if future communication will be made
sometimes having to compromise
and seeking love with another 


rather than becoming a stalker
whose intentions are misunderstood.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Reality




I had a discussion with a young man
when the question of rules came up
and he wondered how valid it was to follow rules.

At his age he finds conventional rules
blind him to the future and he can't
do what he needs in the new paradigm.

Rules for games are an honored tradition
but have changed in time to accommodate
a growing awareness of what is possible.

He is playing in a virtual world
tries to model his ideas upon what was tired before
seeing some success but in this viral space

things can be done that were never imagined;
hacking into a program and changing the game,
getting cloaked and floating without a name.

He seeks control beyond coercion
needs to be smarter and faster
always thinking and acting one step ahead.

Some say the brain is actually changing
while interfacing with electronic technology,
others thinking it is becoming weak instead

losing the ability from oral customs
to remember stories and histories for centuries
taping into a dream world of memory

participating in telling group accounts of the day’s events
filling in details with each person’s experience
instead of trying to exist in isolation in an unreal world.


I pondered his question and realized I had little to say
my past did not give the answers he needed today
but I reminded him to use his own thinking

based on the lessons his parents have taught him
there are consequences for laws that shouldn't be broken
and others that need to be rewritten for future generations.


Friday, August 3, 2012

The Wind



The wind, on any warm day,
can fan fire for hours
spreading across several acres.

It sweeps the deserts forming large
dust clouds redesigning the landscape
with new dunes and clusters of tumbleweeds.

It can become a hurricane, 

bringing flood and devastation 
to the shoreline and beyond

then like a dancer on the stage
it can twirl in tight circles
letting the centrifugal force 


pull all objects toward the sky
letting them scatter on the ground
several miles away.

Sometimes the wind only pushes
the clouds around, or pulls off a hat,
turns an umbrella upside down

sometimes it comes with days of snow
howling through the rafters
telling us winter is here to stay.

People can get the wind knocked out of them
but when the wind is taken from their sails
they can waste away on open waters for days.

Once in awhile they can be the wind
beneath another’s wings causing that 
person to soar to new heights

or the breeze that catches the seeds
and sews them across the land
from here to Ireland.