Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Visitor From Outer Space Reports Home




Among my travels I have seen wonders
of all kinds, some species live in the water

others on the land, some dig underground
while feathered friends take to the sky

according to recordings the upright
creature with an opposing thumb

considers itself the intelligent life
but from my observations they are quite dumb

covering themselves in ill fitting clothing
which limits their movement and the female of the species

walks around on unstable platforms leaving it off balance
and unable to run. I am most impressed with the beings

who fly, seem to find their way from here to there
with no maps, or machines, flock together

when they travel, seem content and get along.
The creatures in the sea are also impressive

streamlined and orderly, a perfect system
for food source and harmony communicating

with sound inhabiting the largest portion
of this world, traversing distances with extended families.

The tiniest inhabitants function efficiently evolving quickly
to changes in their environment working effectively

as one organism with assigned jobs to support the whole, 

living underground or in the trees, adapting

to climate and other world changes, surviving
natural disasters in great numbers able to eat

and digest most anything.
Humans seem to be allergic to everything

short tempered and don't get along
seeking to control 
or destroy life

yet can’t control their appetites, 
ingesting items unhealthy for survival.

I think these are the pests
and recommend 
extermination

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Panic Attack




Lead-in to the evening news
tells about a super storm forming off shore …
“Gather your love ones and head to high ground,
take what you can and find shelter
away from the coast soon to be slammed,
a mega squall with high winds and flooding rains,
don’t put the first responders in danger by not
heeding this warning, get out now.”

Above, the sky darkened, winds never picked-up
no raindrops fell, there was no storm after all
though news reported of trouble on the east coast
no mammoth storm of Armageddon prophesy 

where I live, didn't need the sandbags 
nor the boards but better safe than sorry
after the broadcast induced panic attack. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Onion




The assignment was simple
paint vegetables or fruit
arranged in a still life.
I selected red and yellow bell peppers,
a large beefsteak tomato,
cucumbers and broccoli
presented in a wooden bowl.

A cliché but rich in color and design
suitable for a novice and my first attempt -
most students followed suit
creating something seen before
except for one young woman, 
a real artist, frail and delicate
seeking a quiet place to paint
while taking a break 

from single motherhood.

She selected one large red onion,
purple by my account,
used a limited palette; ultramarine
alizarin and ochre, leaving white
paper to maintain negative space
and with a few brush strokes

revealed the shape of the onion
in multiple layers
creating the depth and form
with contrast and shadow
then dipped her brush in clear water
letting it drip across the table
like tear drops-

moments of sadness and loss
recorded in what appeared to be
an accident on a still life.

I look back at my own work
like a cartoon or artificial facade,
empty of emotion, envious 

of her painting and her ability
to reveal so much with so little
with colors of purple and ochre.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dreaming of Cape Cod



From an ad
I see the cottage
cobblestones leading
to the front doorway
and a boardwalk
from the back door
to the ocean
wide open shore
as far as I can see
shells scattered along the sand
summer guests all gone
storm clouds brewing
along the horizon
what future waits for me
in this small house
along the coastline.

I turn to lock the shutters
board the windows and
weather the storm
knowing better days
are still ahead. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Seasons



Cycle of new birth
and quiet growth
bud of spring
then bloom
fade to wither
then cycle down
to a dormant state
quiet for awhile
burst of green
from stem to leaf
scatter of buds
revealing fruit
sweet sassy
and fully ripe.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Desert Winds



Winds fling the palm trees
like a temptress's whip
stretching out a flag
with a loud whap, whap, whap
scooting debris across the street
threatening to shove semi trailers
and campers on to their sides
tornado clouds form in the skies
picking up skirts and tossing hats
dusting out alleys and blowing
pieces of dust and sand in my eyes. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Foggy Morning





Headache
morning chill
joints ache
groggy voice

drag self out of bed
a white blanket of fog
outside the window

roll under the covers
fall back asleep
until the birds 
outside

let me know
it’s safe to start
the new day. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Climate Change




Slight breeze through white shudders
rustle of leaves across the sidewalk
still hot

from humid night
room filled with the smell 

of sweaty feet, stinky dog
and morning breath 


push open the windows
to let in the swoosh 

of fresh air 

and climate change. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Baby Doll for Christmas




Some have memories of Christmas  
as the time when they got what they wanted

but my memories are of a time when Santa
 
flew by the house leaving leftovers
 
or someone else’s used toys, I guess  
 
it is better to get something than nothing at all.
 

I was deternined next year to behave
and be on Santa’s good list
and it finally happened the gifts under the tree
 
were bigger than ever before,
all the toys
were brand new and exactly what we asked
from Santa at Macy’s department store.
 

I remember my sister and I having
 
similarly wrapped packages. We tore
 
off the ribbon and paper, and there we saw
 
a box with a picture of a large baby doll, dressed in pink
 
wearing a delicate bonnet. W
carefully  opened  
the box, and there was the doll just like the photo 
except she didn’t have a head, what a cruel joke
 
my sister screamed and started to cry
 
I felt like I was being choked by Santa’s prank
 
and threw the box aside,
 
decided right then I hated Christmas.
My father laughed my mother scolded
 
my oldest brother shouted and pulled the tissue
off the doll’s face separated by cardboard packing
but very much attached to the body
 
then everyone started laughing,
 
but I never changed my mind, 
I hated Christmas 

and the ritual of gift giving, wanting something
 
for nothing and always being disappointed
 
I made a decision early to pay my own way
 
never wanting anything, and buying what I needed
 
like when I didn’t buy a blue velvet dress at sixteen,
 
even though I wanted it, didn’t want the possibility
 
of being disappointment. One time I did buy a blue
 
satin bedspread after I was married, got it home
 

and by evening the cat had sh..t on it
 
tossed it out rather than having it cleaned
 
stayed detached from material things   
 
all because I thought Santa gave me a box 

with a doll without a head in it.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Get Your Freak On




The daily news is filled with stories 
of women victimized through human trafficking
 
covered in burkas or oppressive rules
 
subjugated through traditions, religious
 
and political norms, cowering to the strength
of powerful men and they suffer under
 
the controlling hand until they decide
 
to get their freak on. 


To test the limits of conventions, 
expanding their world with spontaneous expressions 
of joy. It is seen when tribal women dance 
going beyond the drum beats to the soul
taking the colors of life and splashing them
 
onto the canvas and revealing their creative spirit.
 

At the beginning of life when flowers were made
 
in all shapes and sizes from the passion flower
 
to white daisies, every kind of lily and rose
 
individual expressions of life like dolphins
 
and rainbow colored guppies, 
each expression 
similar yet unique, especially when they get their freak on.

This call goes out to everyone, hang close to tradition
 
or get your freak on, unleashing the full potential
 
of your expression, choose it in how you dress,
 
decorate your home, or
 how you communicate
to the word about who you are in god’s plan
 
bringing love and happiness to all around
 
sparkling diamonds, aurora borealis, a fluttering
butterfly, or field of flowers,  get your freak on. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fast Food Villanelle




“I’ll take the drive-thru,” he said with a smile; 
It was easy to do it in a large white van
 
they ordered the meal with a sauce that was mild
 

drove to a local park under a deep blue sky
 
ate taquitos, then churros, with sugar and cinnamon

finished quickly then both of them smiled.

Still hungry they let out a sigh
 
wait for dinner or go to another food stand?
The sun was shining the breeze was mild
 

maybe wait and have dinner by candlelight
 
or cross the street where they can

order burgers or chicken both of them smiled.
 

She wanted the chicken and since she was the wife
 
they stopped in to listen to the Mexican band
and ordered a meal with a sauce that was mild.
 

He went to the fountain for a glass of ice
 
gave her a signal she followed his glance
 
nodded and pointed with a loving smile.
 

They were satisfied for the rest of the night
 
because at these modern fast food restaurants
 
food was good and things were mild.
 

When the meal was done he slapped his thigh

threw out the  trash and washed his hands
 
he waved to the clerk who quickly smiled
 
then took packets of sauce marked hot and mild. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Married Couples




Aki from Japan believes in intuition 
and views the world through his sense of knowing
 
recognizing couples who belong together
 
synchronized in speech pattern and movements
 
often finishing each other’s sentences
 
laughing at the same jokes and bantering
 
from too many hours in close proximity.
 

I tested him on his knowledge at an open cafe 
we looked out on to the street and he guessed
 
which people had been together for awhile.
 
He could tell which old people were newlyweds
 
and which
ones had been together for several years.

We started up conversations and asked questions 
to verify the truth to his observations and he was right
 
all of the time. I asked him what clued him to the answer

and he said, “The longer they have been together,  
the more they look like brother and sister.
 
Even though they might be a different ethnicity
 
they still look like they're related to each other."  
 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Right Tools



His tools hung from a peg board 
outlines drawn with permanent marker
 
a pristine environment designed for building,
 
ready for use at any time
but his spark
 of creativity expired
his desire to build was lost and his tools
untouched hung suspended on the garage wall. 

His children had grown, moved from the home 
he and his wife exploring a new life, child free
 
except for the occasional visits from grand kids
 
everything was developing as it should
 
until he got the dreaded call, his eldest,
only twenty-three, killed on the highway
by a drunken sailor, texting while driving,
 
changing the focus of his life forever.
 

Friday, October 12, 2012

First Autumn Storm



Thunder rumbled outside the window 
then the anticipated flash
raindrops followed in rapid succession
then as quickly it was all over.
The first storm of autumn
startling at best but hardly worthy
of the “storm watch” hyped on local TV news
no need to prepare, it was hardly worth the air time

At home across town a mother stayed home
with her sick toddler to build a fort
large enough for him to wile away
the hours deep in play staying in for lunch
long after his fever subsided
crawling out only long enough to invite
his daddy in to enjoy the quiet comfort
and privacy offered by a roof of cotton sheets
and flannel blanket floors.

In the office building on the seventh floor
he stood with his shirt tucked-in overlooking
the aftermath of the morning rainfall,
Across the sky a rainbow curved
leaving a reflection on the parking lot below
final relief from a heat wave of triple digit temps
ready for the change in season, shorter days
and cooler nights, with the promise of another
storm before autumn is through.

In contrast, out in some counties
the storm came and hovered above
pelting the cities with hail and rain
causing flash floods and mud flows
high drama for residents and business owners
river beds normally dry
 now rushing with water
backing up drains and funnel clouds
over in twenty four hours, then everything
back to normal again. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Crystal Cathedral



I have seen that crystal edifice
reflecting in the California sun
thinking, one day I would venture in
even though it was built by Protestants

but since the internal feuding
among the primary family of
holy
has caused the building to be sold
 
to the Catholic diocese of Orange

I might walk in and take a look. 

The grand days of Christmas 
and Easter theater might be gone, 
maybe the mantel will be assumed 
by the new buyers who also like to dazzle

the Almighty, revealing the greatness of God
 
in the acoustics of crystal and
 steel.
Maybe they will also be blinded by the light
 
in a building created from ego and vanity.
 

I remember the words of Rev. Schuler
 
on a flight to L.A. when he was told
he could not put his luggage in a service bay
and he rose up large and shouted,
“Do you know who I am?”
 

He thought he deserved special treatment
 
as the pastor of this crystal cathedral
a glittering example of his power on earth
a gem too alluring, seducing the caretakers
to indulge in folly and now it is the Catholics turn
to see if they can do any better. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chili Goes With Everything




From the hot New Mexico sun
 
to the red clay of the semi-arid desert
 
chilies grow taking in enough rain
 
to be ready for the harvest in August
then with the utmost care
 
they’re roasted on an open fire

peeled and frozen for future meals
because chili goes with everything.
Perfect on eggs with a fresh tortilla
stirred into the soup for lunch
simmered on the stove for a tasty topping
for steaks and mash potatoes instead of gravy.

A great spice to enhance a kiss
careful not to rub your eyes
after handling this addictive treat
cause chili goes with everything. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Past Lives



Ailments on the current plane 
are said to be karma for past lives.
The hell, Christians talk about,
 
is being lived out in present time

in a trance she remembered selling orphans
 
into slavery, collecting baubles and gold
 
for their disposable lives, reasoning
 
they would die anyway, at least this gave them

a means for survival, 

but now reincarnated thirty times she faces
another life of pain, infected with a different
disease, leaving her imprisoned and immobilized 

yet, in anguish she prays,
supplicating to a merciful god
to heal her torment
and make her well again
she promises this time 


to minister to the orphans worldwide.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Artist by Definition




By virtue of imagination, talent or skill
an artist has the ability to create works
of aesthetic value, whether it is a poem, photograph
painting, sculpture, story, song, performance.
To create something outside themselves
that resonates with another, awakening emotion
wonder and deep pleasure.

Instead of a Xerox machine that only duplicates
the work of another, artists must go to that place
where the ether holds the secrets of creation
and from that location assemble ideas made of air

into concrete reality making them accessible to other
living souls, and becomes a conduit for communication
from the sun, then the moon, and all life fragments,
newly assembled to stimulate new thinking
causing eyes to open and to see for the first time

a new paradigm awash in form, color and line
a picture of a young child 
eyes accentuated in sunlight, 
a perfect portrait of innocence and wonder
exposing him to the world awakening his artistry
one experience at a time.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

After the Teats are Dry



Different times throughout life
foundlings find their way home
and many were welcome along the way
but all they did was suck too long
insisting on nursing after the teats were dry

Love is reciprocal and it is easy to give
but when someone needs to be on their own
refusing to grow up after their time limit
the heart grows weary, the boundaries stretched

trying to love enough and give more
with another mouth to feed
long after the teats are dry.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Screaming Saw



A high pitch scream
pierces my ear drum
from mid morning to late afternoon
like torture in prison
the incessant sound assaults my brain
with discordant squeals 

while the worker across the way
toils day after day
building the flower bed with bricks
of various sizes, aiming for artistry in his design
but my brain is going insane.

I imagine getting a hammer
to rearrange his saw into a pile of steel
or a pair of scissor to cut his cord
an air horn to blast at his window
after the sun goes down.

I’m forced to close the windows,
turn up the T.V., or go out to the mall,
anything to block the screams 
from my neighbor's electric saw. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fathers and Sons




Mother’s tend to run interference
when fathers interact with their sons
“Too ruff,” she says, “be gentle, don’t criticize everything,”
she pleads. Yet, when you look to animals in the wild,
abandonment is common and if fathers stay around
eventually their sons challenge them
becoming head of the herd, but until that eventual
take-over the sons wrestle with their siblings and cousins
building strength to one day sit at the throne of their father. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Family First



“Family first,” my father said,
“friends from the door out
don’t let strangers pollute the pool
of blood that binds us to each other
the ties of generations entangled

in our veins, pulsating to our hearts
a narrative of memory guiding us
to stay strong when we are
bonded to one another.
Temptations may lead us astray
abandoning what is important

but like a boat tossed in the sea
with no anchor to tie you down, 

no harbor to call home,
you tend to drift away.” 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tortillas Are Home



Her arms are strong from years 
of kneading flour, salt, lard and water
mixed in a large ceramic bowl
belonging to her grandmother
the recipe remembered 


in her finger tips
a ritual before every meal
rolled out in perfect circles
the right size for individual
servings, ready to be eaten

with every meal.

Her favorite is with chili and beans
torn apart to make little scoops
a quick and easy snack
rolled and eaten with melted 

butter or, on a special occasion, 

sliced up and fried
to make
sopaipillas
sprinkled with powdered sugar
 
and filled with honey. 

When I fix them at home it is a big deal
I’m awkward, flour is everywhere
the tortillas are sometimes rolled
too thick and don’t taste right
but when she is in the kitchen
they are perfect every time.

She does it automatically
can stay involved in the conversation
changing from English and Spanish
while she stirs the food cooking
on the stove, slices meat in small pieces
for the chili simmering in a pan.

She has a steady rhythm with the rolling pin
flipping tortillas on a cast iron grill
laughter and love fill the room
everything about the moment
is the aroma of home.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Whispered Prayers



Prayers whispered when the day is through;
gratitude for the many blessings,
protection for those you love,
guidance for those who have wandered from the path,
and supplication for health, wealth, and peace of mind.
 
Prayers that last the length of a breath
bring god from above and spreads him upon the earth
as blessings for the living.

Think of your breath with that kind of power
and how gossip becomes a venomous threat
poisoning the lives of those spoken about
it permeates the hearts for the ones who listen
calling darkness upon those who are the subject
of the talk, like a snake hissing in the wood pile
gossip can tear a family apart, destroy a community
a person’s reputation and individual integrity. 

So like it’s brother the rant, spewing forth ill thought
 
and toxic shock to the systems of those who
are within hearing distance, dripping with malicious
words, towards a government, political leader,
opposing group, manager or boss
truly there is no god in that kind of tirade 

better to whisper a prayer and let the breath
bless the life of everyone in your life. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Land Lovers



Those who love the earth
with both feet on solid ground
will venture across the plains
climb the mountains
explore the caves
harvest on plowed terrain
terre bella, loma vista , terra firma
fin esterra, words to describe the land
from beach to countryside
preferring the still quiet of a summer’s eve
sitting on top of a hill watching the waves
below, never longing to be a 
fish 
deep in the sea or a bird
floating on air currents 
ever thankful 
to be buried six feet 
underground when it is time to go.