Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring is a New Beginning



Reflecting on the miracle of spring
how plants and animals,
dormant, in a death-like state,
awaken with the melting snow
burst forth on skeletal branches
with an eruption of color in soft pastels.

Birds return from their southern sojourn
to gather in the awakening trees
to sing the songs of spring,
blossoms bloom and bees hum,
butterflies flitter from flower to flower.

Birth of piglets and lambs,
ducklings, goslings and eaglets
filling the air with squeals, squawks
and other sounds letting mothers
know they are hungry and must be fed.

Storm shutters are put away,
windows opened, house aired out
a restless energy from a long winter
wants to tumble out to build and play. 


Pull out the barbeque, invite
family and friends for an outdoor
meal, playing games of catch and tag
staying out late ‘till the sun goes down.

Welcome spring, welcome life
a new cycle of begins.


Pictures by Bill

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Eggs



Spring tradition to gather in a backyards
or open fields and place eggs 
where they can be found
by children carrying tubs or woven baskets.

Some eggs are boiled and decorated
others are colorful plastic.
Older children listening 
for the jingle in the artificial eggs
moving about quickly reminded
to leave some for the little ones.

After all the treats are found
they discover what each bounty holds:
robin’s eggs and marshmallow sweets
candied covered chocolate 

and jelly beans.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Mother’s Grief




Birth, by it’s very nature,
is an awe inspiring miracle,
the quiet before the storm,
of instinctual care to feed
nurture and protect

but what happens when the clock goes wrong,
a lifetime cut short, unplanned, unprepared
for the loss of life’s precious gift?

Mothers wail, cry out in agony
when the script for life is torn
causing physical pain that never heals.
Other species seem to have
similar reactions report witnesses

off Dana Point who saw a female dolphin 

carrying her calf on her dorsal fin.
Other dolphins were at her side 

guiding her through the seawater. 

Why this display? 

The crew and tourists 
on the boat were somber 
the image so poignant and visceral. 


Doors creaked open then slammed shut,

hues of red and orange 
streaked across the horizon,

visitors picked up their belongings and left the boat
carrying with them the image of that mother dolphin
holding her baby above the surface of the water.

Some posted their videos and photographs
telling their story to families and friends
crying for the heartbreaking loss of life
and for the mother whose grief will never end.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Don’t Take Away the Apostrophe



I’ve used the apostrophe all of my life
shows up as a misspelled word
on my spell check, but I’ve ignored
the suggestion to choose two words.

I won’t give up the contraction
or the possessive each connoted 
with an apostrophe: Paul’s shoes, 
Sandy’s nose, Rich’s donuts, 
the witches' brew.

We’ll go insane if we lose this little tool,
a simple mark, placed above the word
to indicates a letter or two are missing 
or who owns the car park at the curb. 

That’s Edwin’s car, don't you recognize it? 

Its, without the apostrophe, is possessive
and with it, it’s a verb.

Here is a little exercise, match the word 
from list one with list two:

LIST ONE:  
Where's
   She'll
       We'd
        Didn't
    They'd

LIST TWO:  we had   did not     where is     they had   she will

Now write out the two words:


a)  I've   b)  You've  c)  Can't  d)  Who's  e)  He's   f)  Let's

Finally put the apostrophe in the right place:
1. Julie is going on holiday in a weeks time.
2. The womans eyes were a deep blue.

As you can see, life's better with an apostrophe.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Honky Tonk and Beer



When the sun fades, lights glimmer,
and Hank Williams songs 
play on the jukebox

a few lost souls wander into the bar
to have a drink of their favorite beer.

All the regulars are in love 

with the bartender

they know if they ever get 

the courage to ask,
she would run off and marry them
after they get their stuff together

maybe a haircut and a regular job

but until then, they order 

another glass of beer.

Arleene walks through the front door

in her short denim skirt
wants to dance with anyone willing

she’s off limits and they know it
but a couple of swings 

‘round the dance floor

ain’t gonna hurt no one 

so they take a chance
watching for Jake 
to come busting in

to drag her home 

to her babies 
and household chores.

She was pretty once 

but time had it’s way,
still remembers the days, 

not so long ago,

but tonight, for a little while 

she is young and free
dancing across 
the hardwood floor

at the Honky Tonk joint
in the middle 
of nowhere. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tools of Torture



A trip to the Museum of Man I wandered
to a display with tools of torture arranged
in random order with clear descriptions
of how and when they were used.

Some I remember when I studied the Spanish
inquisition, French revolution, 
and the stories 
of English kings and Chinese 
emperors. 
Most were designed to extract 
information
many to punish and execute, 
others as a means for conversion.

Observations I made after viewing
several devices that many were made
to inflict pain and humiliation on women. 


There was the Shrew’s Fiddle for gossips,
nags, and women who disturbed the peace,
also a Brank, a metal cage placed over the heads 

of those same gossips and cantankerous women.

The public was always invited to scorn and disparage
all sexually indiscreet women who were forced
to wear plaits made of straw and stand outside
the church reminding those still chaste to be good
or suffer serious consequences.

I could go on, revealing those tools 
used 
to inflict grisly pain, but let it suffice
for many developing countries these practices
have gone away as long as high heeled shoes,
are not considered tools of torture, nor the sharp
needles for tattoos, or female medical exams.

Some say the internet has now
become the forum for inflicting 
shame and humiliation
along with incriminating 
photos and videos.

Maybe there is something
in the nature of being human,
that condemns the use of torture
yet substitutes viral tools
to discredit and dishonor 
in a public manner.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Vermin or Pets?




They started off as pets,
went 
out to a place in the desert
purchased a pair for $50 each,
two cages to keep them separated,
didn’t want them breeding on the way home,
still needed to get food and water dispensers

the cost for two rats was over $255.
Kids were excited, the pets 
were so nice, 
easy to hold, their little hands
looked so human, they each needed
a wheel in which to exercise.
The first night they scratched all night

thought they would eventually settle down
but those nocturnal creatures spent
their evening hours searching for a way out
and then one night they found it. By morning
they were gone. Did one release the other?

Now they roam through the rafters
of my home. I see their droppings
and other evidence that they have
enough food and water. The hose
on the washer is chewed, so are the cereal
boxes in the cabinet with trails of debris
leading back to the room 
with a hole in the wall.

The price to replace the hose is $35, sealing
the hole another $75, more cereal and grain
an outlay of $20 or more. My husband
wants to call an exterminator for $245
he says in the long run it will be cheaper
unless we catch those rats by night fall.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Day At The Farm


Centennial Farm, Costa Mesa, CA
Lama mama

A half ton of bull

Just kidding around

Hay for babies and ewe

Lots of bacon

Busy as a bee

Honk, Honk Honk
     
A good day at the farm
            Pictures by Bill


Friday, March 22, 2013

Keeping Records in an Oral Tradition




Offspring are the key to keeping records
in a community that cannot read and write
it is the spoken word, passed down
through generations, keeping the life
of the community alive.

The story of the great hunt after a long winter
boney hunters barely able to stand
yet they find the buffalo again and again
enough to build tepees, drums and traditional robes,
still feeding the tribe until their bellies are full.

There is also the tale of the wily coyote
playing tricks on the rabbit and roadrunner
the group laughs at their antics
making daily troubles seem small.

Stories of dreams and vision quests
fill the evening hours by the campfire
rituals to the Great Spirit seeking blessings
like bountiful planting seasons, plenty of rain
and safety from all enemies

They sing and dance to the beat of the drums
with the sound of flutes piercing the air
filling the sky with their melodies.

Mothers tell children of temptations they must resist
and scaring them with tales of the boogeyman
keeping them obedient and by their side.

The stories are forgotten except by a few
community dissolves and almost disappears
until the elders start to remember 

and tell the stories from long ago, 
the tales of when they were strong 
and their ancestors filled the earth.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mea Culpa




I’m sorry for the spilled milk
the rude words and careless lies,
sorry for the impatience and laziness. 

I’m sorry for hating you for as long as I did,
life could have been better had I sought
forgiveness in its place.

I’m sorry for not saying, “I love you,” 
as many times as I could,

for not lifting your burden, sharing your sorrow
for seeking my own comfort and interests instead.

I’m sorry for not being perfect
and if reincarnation exists, I can be better 

next time, but this life I only have my imperfect
self to give and a long list of mistakes

with, “Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa,”
for all of my missteps. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Purgatory





Some souls need to purge
the last remnants of sin to be ready
for the pearly gates and streets of gold. 

They need a few more months
to eat more sugar, and stay up late,
drink another glass of wine,
 

and make-out in back of the theater,
tell lies about where they’ve been,
laugh too loud, and dance until dawn.

Maybe those months will turn to years
not wanting to let go of the part of themselves
that makes them feel human. 


So for several years they will stay
 
in Purgatory until they realize,
existence is too much to bear 

and desire for God
will make all sin disappear. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Writing In Ink



Sister Devine said to use pen instead 
of pencil because it made you think
before you wrote a thought down.  

Created an accuracy when you knew
the mark was permanent and couldn’t be erased,
corrected or removed, much like original sin.

So like women in the religious orders
exacting consequences for minor offenses.
holding everyone they met to a higher standard
and making them suffer when they failed.

Oh bless you sweet sisters, for all the lessons
in frugality, temperance and sacrifice,
creating unnecessary suffering

punishing before any mistake was made.
Giving me perfect writing on linen paper,
with well scripted messages

in smooth tracks of blue ink,
carefully blotted, before it is folded,
stuffed in an envelope
and sent in the mail


now replaced with e-mail
wiping out all the hours of practice
of making things perfect in ink. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sunshine and Shadows


Sunshine peering through the front door
revealing golden dust particles in the air
shining patterns of light 
upon the wall
casting shadows on paintings in the room
glorious sunlight welcome home. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Game of Chance




Some believe they tempt the devil
when they play games of chance.

Lady Luck is the mistress of evil
dressed in bright colors and fun
leading many to shame and ruin.

She reels her 
victims in with charm
offering favors to the unsuspecting
long after the game is done,

when she has a frim grip,
she promises happier days
with harmless entertainment
until she has their immortal soul.

Eventually everything is lost but
they stay because they remember
when she blessed them
and luck was coming their way. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Thunder from Down Under



Six Australian musclemen
learned to make their way
by moving to the beat
learning exotic steps to bump
and grind along the Vegas strip
hired to entertain the guests
in clubs along the lighted highway.

Somewhere in their collected past
are families and classmates
who remember them as little kids
normal in every way, so how did they take
this public turn, from ordinary to flamboyant?

Were they shy and easily bullied
used body building to intimate?
Learned to dance showing off 
on corner streets?

What brought these six men together? 
Was it an unpredictable economy
demanding something out of the ordinary?

Whatever the case, these men are living a dream
pulling in crowds internationally. 

An elderly couple found 
their way into the show,
while he was getting drinks, 
she was pulled on stage 
as part of the routine. 

He was outraged and ran
to rescue his beloved 
no matter the cost.

Such a contrast in male chivalry
several generations apart
one programmed to protect his woman
the other sees her as a moment of fun.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dogs That Shed




Dogs that shed are common
leaving evidence of where they’ve been
across the floors, on furniture
and clothes and sometimes in your nose.

Some owners find it intolerable
keep the dogs outside refusing to get too close,
all seems reasonable, if you don’t want
fur on everything.

Most people invite pets inside, sweeping more
than usual to keep the house inhabitable, 
because the laughter and warmth
they offer is worth all the bother 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Humble Pope



After watching the elder pope retire
with lots of hoopla and ceremony
and then election of a new one

it’s nice to see a humble man
emerge from all the materialistic finery
more clearly conveying the message of Christ
amid gold and spectacle

drawing from a simple life
advocating a love of god
and love for each other.

Time will tell if his leadership 
infuses the church 
with the spirit once again. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cherries




Red sweetness in candied
cherries sitting atop deserts.
The perfect fruit with the pit
can be found growing wild

then brought home chocolate 

dipped placed in a box
sealed in cellophane. 


Blooms remind us spring is on the way, 
a perfect pleasure for little girls
an appealing medicine for winter colds. 


A splash of color
in a bowl of fruit, 

can stand alone
in crimson splendor, 


the cherry:
nature's tasty treat.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Earthquakes, Fog, and Comet Trails




Days slip by one by one

not much different from the next
markers, or colored post-it-notes
divide the days into weeks,
and weeks into months

Nature’s moments; earthquakes,
fog and comet trails all shuffled
into memory stores to help
separate significant incidents

some written in a diary
highlighted on a blog, makes easy reference
the day the earth shook, crashes in a fog,
a comet left a trail across the sky and I’m
here to tell the tale. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Struck by Lightning




Heaven helps the fertile mind
full of ideas and wonderings

imagining stories and great inventions
but ideas by themselves are made of air

disappear unless they’re made concrete
they must be molded and shaped

a bolt of lightning isn’t enough
all great ideas evaporate

unless the dreamer can also create
by assembling those particles of light

into something great.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Addicted to Pain




Pain, like a barbed wire fence,
keeps me focused within.
The sharp jabs from the wire barbs
force me to a safer place of make-believe
meditating beyond the here and now
outside the body to an imaginary space
where all attachments on the physical
are cut free and I float above the earth
like ethers in the wind
sailing through the sky 

like a dandelion seed
blowing across the land
until I settle back into my living remains
to be reminded once again
that I dwell in a worn-out vessel
unable to function in real time
refusing relief yet seeking repentance
through transcendent dreams to take me
high above the clouds until I am finally
released and set free. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Wedding Vows




Marriage is a collusion of families
with separate histories and memories
personality quirks and traditions


where couples try to blend together
hoping that their similarities enhance
a relationship and what is different
makes them stronger.

In my family we worshiped
at a Catholic altar,
believed in education
and helping in community.


Our favorite foods had chili and beans
and favorite past-times were physical
with a quick wits and quicker critics
friends were kept from the door out.

He, on the other hand,
was a Southern Baptist
something the family did once in awhile,
needing more community support
then they gave, bordering on poverty.


Alcohol was included in every gathering,
loud and obnoxious, daring anyone
to keep them out, uneducated and unrefined
friends and family mixed like one.

He was the odd one out in his family,
so different from the others, blue eyes, 

smart, spiritual, and refined. 

I too separated from my siblings
sought more mainstream behaviors,
while they wanted to be cool,
tossing aside our traditional training.

When we met, we knew we were meant
for each other, creating our own path
a little bit of his blended with mine.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Curandera





Long before science emerged
and medicine became a discipline of its own
 
immigrants, indigenous tribes and slaves
practiced similar beliefs 


healing from herbs with a deep understanding
of evil, learning to break spells and curses
with mixtures of natural ingredients and rituals,
calling on the Holy Spirit to cure body and soul.
 

Satan,
like in the garden of Eden,
continued to tempt the innocent
offering a plethora of choices
with a buffet of vices


capable of infecting
a whole community
 
who allowed themselves
to transgress

encouraging each other

to wallow in sin, disrespecting 
their bodies and the land, 

seeking immorality 

tearing down the very fabric
of their spiritual being.

The curandera, on the other hand
used the bounty of the earth
to heal bodies and bring forth
goodness from the inhabitants
cutting off the head of the snake
and restoring a love for god
demanding others follow her path
in humble obedience for all time.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Address Book




I bought a new address book
five years ago, didn’t have time
to rewrite all those names and numbers
but today when I sat down to complete
this simple task I noticed all the hours
I saved by waiting.

So many moved away
their addresses changed
tried to find the new ones
listed on a post-it-note or
scrap piece of paper
must have lost them along the way.

Others were divorced,
no longer a couple
now I have two addresses
instead of one.

The biggest change were people
who died in those years. There was
my Uncle Bud and Aunt Ellie, brothers,
Jimmy, John and Joe and more.

Too many losses in too few years
had to put away the address book
take a break and reflect

figured if I waited another five
there would be no need to continue
so I poured a cup of coffee,
and in the quiet of the morning

let the sun warm my bones
while I remembered the days
when my address book was full.

with all the family and friends I knew. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Curtain between Life and Death





Most of us live our lives with a curtain
between life and death established
like a brick wall,  
people can pass through
in one direction
, angels make sure
to maintain the barrier.

Then someone you love dies,
if they linger for awhile, you actually
catch a glimpse of what is on the other side. 
My mother talked about 
a large room with many chairs
some were elaborate others very simple. 

The room was full of people she knew
when her grandfather reached out his hand
she knew it was time to go. 

They walked through a curtain 
of flimsy silk leaving it fluttering, 
with their ethereal breeze

and in that moment 
I caught a glimpse of the room 
with many chairs.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Memory of Home




In the red-tiled single storied house
of my adulthood, there was a step
down into the living room 

a brick fireplace against the north wall
with a display of masks collected
from around the world. 

One evening while a guest visited
from Manchester we talked
about many things.

The fire burned in the fireplace,
decorative candles were arranged
on the mantel to add lighting.


Our visitor, asked about the type
of wood we were burning.

I answered in was pine
purchased at the grocery store.


She sniffed and said she thought
it had a smell of cherry wood.

We went on with our conversation
again she paused and said the smell
of cherry had become stronger.

I looked outside to see if a neighbor
was also burning wood this evening.  
When I walked back into the room
I could smell the distinct aroma.

I noticed one of the masks was smoking,
a tattooed face with a large nose
ready to burst into flame.

I grabbed the mask and doused
it with water, she blew out the candle
and we laughed until we cried.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Magic Brew




Recipes from grandmother
handed down for generations
a lavender tea for a belly ache, 


adding spices like; cinnamon

eucalyptus, raspberry, fennel, 
mint, parsley, or celery seeds.

Sprinkle into a pot sitting on a fire
let it steam, gurgle, and boil over,
stir with a wooden mixing spoon


strain and drain then store in bottles
or ceramic containers with sterile lids
place in cool places until needed.

No written scripts to help recall
precise lists of ingredients
so the only way to learn these brews


is with regular visits with grandmother
“Use chaparral tea for respiratory problems,
kidney disorders, and irregular periods.

Mother Nature gives us
an abundant source of medicines;
roots and barks found in the woods,


herbs, weeds and toadstools growing wild
careful with each selection because 

one can heal and the other can kill."

Training for those chosen 
takes place 
in the kitchen of the grandmother,
a woman, whose face reflects the fire


creating magic in a large black pot

chopping, stirring and mixing
long after the mood has risen.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Crabby Temperament




A harsh retort to a simple request,
a sudden slap across the face;
abuse by any standard, one that raises
the hackles along your neck,
but often times these outbursts
indicate a sublime pain
chronic and unrelenting
incurred when they were younger.

Even a docile pet will react aggressively
when a rotting tooth or cancer
develops internally. Sometimes
the cure is simple, take a nap,
get some privacy, go to the doctor
swallow a pill, talk about what hurts inside
instead of taking it out on everyone
around you. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Joyful Journey




It is easy to hide away
closeted, refuse to play
caught-up in an insulated
mind, buried in pain,
distrusting those
who would hurt you,
seeking solace in a virtual world

escape through electronic
bytes to people far away
key strokes for communication,
posted pictures and tweets

to a world who has forgotten
how to socialize the old fashion way
or to commune with nature, instead
stooped over a keyboard and screen

with information at their fingertips
world views and world news,
keeps them busy with information
but in the scheme of things doesn’t matter

better to go outside and play
learn to celebrate each day
interact with all or life
letting laughter and love fill your heart
take the journey of a lifetime.