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Thursday, July 21, 2011

READING ON THE ROAD


“All our best men are laughed at in this nightmare land.”- Jack Kerouac


He’s on Chapter 10 now of Kerouac’s classic.

The idea came to him one day while waiting

for his wife in a bookstore when he noticed a

hardcover copy of it on sale for just $7.99.

He thought about buying it since he’d heard

so many references and mentions of the novel.


Instead he came up with a better way to read

it and put the plan into place as he drove across

the country he planned to visit bookstores

not far off the interstates, roads and highways.

In each store, he’d find the low to the ground

fake leather chairs and ordered a large iced tea.


When the chapter was finished, he placed the

book back on the shelf, used the men’s room,

returned to the highway, and drove for another

200 miles or so before finding the next bookstore,

another drink, and where he’d left off in the story.

Maybe he’d be finished by August, near Delaware.

IN THE MAIL


This will be the last letter she’ll write

is what it says in the opening sentence.

She has more free time in the summer

and thought of how she’d sit down and

take a moment to write some letters on

stationery, it’s been in the bottom of her

closet for a decade now in an old shoe box.

It’s the pretty little cards with kittens in

baskets and soft pastel colored envelopes.

She bought her last sheet of Forever stamps

remembering what it was like to send a note

to a friend or loved one and how they felt

finding it when they opened their mailboxes.

The news said the Post Office is going broke

thanks to computers and cell phones they’ll

fade away like clothes pins, records, and tops.

SHUFFLE


He’s got a cheap iPod, it plays random songs,

they loaded it for him with his favorite music.

It’s ironic, You’ll Never Walk Alone is playing

as he begins to take his morning walk alone.

His kids are away, his wife- in a different world.

He’s trying to live a more healthy life now.


On early Wednesdays the park belongs to him.

There are no cyclists, dog walkers, or baby strollers.

When he notices how alone he really is, a bluebird

lands on a lamp post to sing his song and in the

distance, scrubby pines sway in the light breeze.

High above him, jets streak across a cloudless sky.


He imagines blood coursing through his veins,

into his four chambers, on to the arteries like the

lessons he taught to his students many years ago.

With the sun on his back and sweat on his cap band

he feels stronger when a Willie Nelson song begins-


Well hello there, my it’s been a long, long time

How am I doin’? Oh I guess that I’m doin’ fine.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

MY MIND WANDERS


to the past when I walk all alone in the park

and I begin to think of the strangest things.


Today, I began to recall my reading list from

ninth grade and thought about rereading the

books for a third time. I’d like to see how

different it would be after thirty years to read

James Joyce, George Elliot, and Eugene O’Neill.


I’m sure I must’ve missed something the first time.

Will I find new meaning in the words, will I enjoy

the books more or will I see them differently like

the way I look at the pines, cat birds, and crickets.


It all very odd, the older I get the more I want to

revisit what I knew from my days as a young man.

I want to walk alone some days and I find myself

thinking about how buds are forming on branches.


I talk to myself. I wonder about God again.

I remember the days of my youth in church and

parables from Mrs. Garrison’s Sunday school class.

I think of how we’d eat pork roast on Sundays with

mashed potatoes and sauerkraut for dinner and how

we’d drink Tang for breakfast, make ice cream by

turning a crank, and go to pick your own strawberries.


I have to laugh as I turn the corner and remember how

the needle used to get stuck on a scratched record.

I wish I could hear my grandfather sing one more time

the chorus of his favorite song, Minnie the Mermaid.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

DC TAXI CAB CONFESSIONS


Oppressive heat, high humidity, sweat soaks

my shirt, a triangle of perspiration forms in front.

July makes us call a cab. The doorman hears our

destination and says, Get the chili cheese fries,

milkshakes are awesome, half smokes, real good.


The cab driver is full of suggestions too, a tour guide

on our way to U Street he points out the party zone,

a Presidential mural, Adams Morgan’s best place to

have dinner, but he’s the most amused by a building

with a two story painted cartoon, a red headed lady.


He grows impatient with a construction crew waving

an orange flag to tell him to go, but the light is red.

He tells us he didn’t sleep much last night and when

another cab cuts him off, he mouths- Don’t make me

get out, I will fight- especially if you flip me the bird.


He notices a fine looking woman, a short linen dress,

a general lack of clothing, confesses he likes winter boots

but ladies never look better in this city than in the summer.

He says we’re brave for wanting to eat at Ben’s Chili Bowl,

admitting he’s gastronomically challenged now at his age.

Friday, July 15, 2011

ROSEBUD SYNDROME


Somebody might say I have too much time on my hands,

searching E-Bay for more than three hours one evening.

I found a rodeo belt buckle like the one my Dad won in Vegas.

I found Bukowski’s typewriter, (same model) a 30’s Underwood.

I even placed a bid on a purple Tonka jeep like the one I got on

a Saturday morning in the living room with the divorce lawyers.


I found a 1972 Gunsmoke lunchbox with a thermos, like mine.

I took it to kindergarten at Cherry Street School. I bid $85, hoping

I would not get it since my wife would consider it a waste of money.

Of course it went a lot higher, not as much as the Scooby Doo one

I’d begged my mother for as a replacement. I knew not to bother.


I found my Evel Knievel doll, Action Jackson, my Joe Namath figure,

and Captain Maddox, an eleven inch figure complete with three

different hats, canteen, branding iron, weapons, a little coffee pot.

I was tempted to bid on them all, the toys I spent so much time with

all alone as a child. I wanted Star Wars cards, a Viewmaster, a prop

from Sanford & Son, Olivia Walton’s blue tea kettle, a set of glasses

used by the Brady Bunch. I’ve got a MasterCard and a Pay Pal too!


I thought of the joy each of these would bring as I remembered

my past, realizing it really wasn’t such a rotten childhood after all.

But being conservative and sensible, I bought post cards instead.

Places I loved as a boy and I thought of how I’d buy some frames

to hang them above my desk, knowing one day I’d get my lunchbox.