ShareThis

Friday, November 23, 2012

UNANSWERED TEXTS


    









-For Cassy, my wife

Did you miss me?
Are you on your way?
What do you want?
How about Thai food?
It’s Tuesday, they’re closed.
You don’t want pizza.
Wish you’d answer me.
Then I’d know what to bring.
One day I may be texting…
as I take my last breath.
Even then, you wouldn't answer.
Then you’d feel guilty forever.
Hope you’re on your way.
I’ll figure out the meal.
I’ll decide. Imagine that!
See you when I see you.
Answer when you get this.
But not if you’re driving down the road.

REMEMBRANCE DAY

                           -For those who served- family,friends, and neighbors.

I think it said, WW I, machine gunner
on the grave of an Uncle I never met.
A cousin of my grandfather was burned
and gassed in the trenches of France.
He never was quite right after that.
I got a picture somewhere of him.

Mr. Brooks still suffered from malaria
and Mr. Spalding spoke of his days as
a Fighting Sea Bee in the South Pacific.
Gail, a man at the beach, always smiled.
People said he must still feel lucky to
have survived the Bataan Death March.

As kids, we’d play patriotic songs from
old 78 records and our grandfather sang-
“Nothing can stop the Army Air Corps”.
He’d laugh after adding “But the women!”
He made Lieutenant Colonel and they gave
him a twenty one gun salute at his funeral.

My Dad’s brother, Walt was a marine,
a tunnel caved in and injured his back.
Jim Stewart was a medic in Vietnam,
he always seemed to have a scowl on
his face. Must’ve seen way too much,
is what people would say about him.

Eddie, a guy from work, used to tell us
about sneaking under the barbed wire
into the village to find a Mamasan who
had plenty of hot chicks for boom boom.
He’d be in the bed and have his rifle right
alongside him in case Charlie showed up.

Uncle Chuck was a Navy radio man but
he never really talked about it too much.
Art Martelli told me of his river boat,
Chieu Hoi and about trying to win the
loyalty of the locals by going up river
and handing out gifts of cooking oil.

Mr. Brown came back to Newark from
‘Nam and was still hooked on heroine
after twenty years. He’d always nod off.
John, another man at work, had a fifth
of White Label every day for breakfast,
he cursed in Polish, and cried sometimes.

Clayton sailed the world for decades
before coming back to his home with
faded green tattoos and stories to tell.
Cousin Joe was a recruiter who handed
out plastic combs and cheap Bic pens
labeled with  “Aim High- US Air Force”.

Kathy was on a ship in the Persian Gulf,
I think it was a sub tender. I remember
our father wearing  US Navy sweatpants.
Phillip, another cousin, went on three or
four tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan.
I think he's home now from our latest wars.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

SCARED FOR YOU










 

-for Tracey,my sister

You used to call to talk about
what we went through as kids
way back in the 70’s and 80’s.
In our 40’s, closing in on 50 and
we’re still talking about what
some say, we should just forget.
While others say never forget,
but try to forgive, free your mind.

You text me now instead of calling
to tell me how you were standing
in line at the grocery store when
you remembered how she was
always standing in the background,  
and never once telling him to stop.

Finally she texts-
I was scared, scared for you. I was
always scared he would kill you.
I text her back-
I always knew I would get away.

JUST BENEATH THE MOUNTAINS

     -for Larry,my father


There’s a farm carved from wilderness
by a man who called himself a pioneer.
It only exists now the way I remember-
Angus cattle dotted the grassy hillsides
and walked to the salt lick at sundown.

Purple martins swooped to catch supper
doing us a favor, eating those mosquitoes.
Laughing children darted through rows of
bushy tomato plants in a forty acre field
on noisy four wheelers and mini bikes.

Horses smiled like people and hung their
well groomed manes and heads over the
rails painted in distinct John Deere green.
And when I drove up, he’d be seated on
the front porch admiring the mountains.

Sometimes he’d be watering his flowers
on the driveway beyond the metal gates.
Once, I found him with arms folded and  
leaning back in a beat up chair waiting by
the tack room with a grin of contentment.

SIGN IS IN THE HEAD













-for Jack, my Papaw

A million seeds arrived from Florida today.
Last week, peat moss was trucked in from
Canada and was stacked at both ends of
the prepped greenhouses.Weeds chopped,
poison set out for mice, little seed thieves.
No more smoking, tobacco causes disease
for the young seedlings that’ll pop up once
the heaters make it nice and toasty inside.
He shows me the stipple board and vacuum
that will drop the tiny seeds into plastic trays.

Orange Kubota tractors with water and hoses
are ready to go, but we won’t be planting yet.
In his kitchen he drinks coffee at the counter
and points to a tall, fancy clock in the corner.
The stoic face of Moon Man rises on the dial.
If you want them plants to grow right, then
you have to wait for the sign to be in the head.
After so many generations, he still followed the
Cherokee way of waiting for a full moon to plant.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

AN ELVIS SIGHTING ON MY WAY TO THE NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE



“Can you believe it’s been thirty five years?”
says the DJ as the song Suspicious Minds ends.
He wants us all to call the station and answer-
“Where were you back on August 16, 1977?”
Driving along Route 18, I think back to that day.
I was with my cousin. I hardly ever see him now.
He’s bald. I’m gray. We’re old. Last time I saw
him was at a funeral, we stood and talked a bit
and he asked if I remembered the day Elvis died.

It was hot,a humid day,like today,it was back
in the days before so much air conditioning,
We slept shirtless and shook on baby powder.
It was back in the days before we had cable,
DVDs, video games, i-phones and the internet.
We had cards- Old Maid, Crazy 8’s and Go Fish.
We played with flashlights and told scary stories.
We made forts out of sofa cushions and sheets.
We stayed up all night listening to Elvis music
on a beat up General Electric radio. In between
the songs crying fans called in heartfelt eulogies.

I stop at a red light. Love Me Tender is playing.
I look to my left and there he is driving a hot pink
ice cream truck-Elvis at the wheel,big sunglasses,
rings, wristbands and his black hair,now receding.
I ‘m shaken, out of breath and overwhelmed.
I try to figure it out; he cuts me off, he exits.
I read his menu of banana splits, milk shakes,  
and a big slogan- King of Rock n’ Roll Treats.
There’s a photo of fat, old Las Vegas style Elvis,
a cartoon character in a red jump suit and cape.
And a bumper sticker that says-Thank you very much. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

THE SIGNS


Another hot August is about to an end.
It’s been 3 years since I hung up the phone.
I cried beside my car in Target’s parking lot
after speaking with her that Friday afternoon.
Each day there’s reminders, as if we’d forget.
But I don’t see rainbows above the meadows.
A monarch butterfly didn’t land on a yellow rose.
No red tailed hawks sat on the electric lines.

A white Escalade passed me on the highway.
In a diner, a cell phone played his old ringtone.
Bright red tomatoes on my sub tasted extra sweet.
A boy walked in wearing a burnt orange Texas cap.
I heard Shameless on a country music station.
I noticed my wallet gave off a strong scent of leather.
It all made me ask the cashier- “What date is it today?” 



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ATLANTIS, MANSION BY THE SEA



Past a flower shaped swimming pool
with its unique jade green tile work
is a gate leading to a boardwalk path.
It takes you through stalks of sea oats
waving in the breeze above the dunes.
We look out over the Atlantic Ocean
where jagged bolts of lightning strike.
A display to rival any fireworks show.

For one week we’ll live in this place
with its vaulted ceilings, 20 foot walls
of plate glass facing out to the beach.
King size beds, Jacuzzis, flat screen TVs,
and a dining room table for fourteen.
A pool table, double headed showers,
multi-leveled decks, a modern kitchen,
artwork of sea creatures and lighthouses.

My wife is quiet, taking it all in until she
discovers the walk-in closet, brightly lit
with shelves, organizers, compartments,
two smooth opening bi-fold louver doors
and separate rods to hang all of our clothes.
Then she says what I’ve been thinking since
early in the day when we got to this place-
“How come we can’t live like this all the time?”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A WEEK ON THE OUTER BANKS












They run to the shoreline holding hands-
a man, a woman, and their two children.
Each one can’t wait to get their feet wet.
It’s the first day on the beach in Carolina.

They’ll stay out past dark with flashlights
as the ghost crabs scurry across the sand.
They’ll swim past midnight in illuminated
pools and drink too many ice cold Coronas.

They’ll get up early for coffee on the beach.
They’ll stare at the sunrise and hunt for shells.
They’ll get down on their knees to build fancy
sand castles with plastic buckets and shovels.

They’ll stare at the ocean, judge the waves,
strap colorful boogie boards to their wrists.
They’ll attempt to have a game of paddle ball.
They’ll throw cheese doodles to the seagulls.

By the third or fourth day, things will change,
less people get up early and less stay out late.
They’ll dress in white shirts and khaki shorts to
take family photos for their Christmas cards.

They’ll feel rich, blessed, and lucky to be here.
Some will start to think of the long ride home.
Some will say stupid things to each other, like-
“I wonder what the poor folks are doing today?”

Monday, August 13, 2012

TEST QUESTIONS

Last night I dreamed of long,
rectangular plastic pill boxes.
Seven little lids with black letters
for each day of the week to make
sure you’re taking the right ones.

His phone call had me worrying
about my test results, my future.
How much can you tell about me
from two vials of dark red blood
and a Dixie cup of my warm piss?

Would he be able to predict that
I have just a few months to live?
Could he find testicular cancer,
a diseased liver or kidney failure?
Would he predict clogged arteries?

Maybe he’ll give me pills, like on TV-
Zocor , Plavix , Lipitor, or Avodart?
Maybe he’ll tell me buy a treadmill,
use fish oil, eat Honey Nut Cheerios,
or to take a little orange baby aspirin.

Would I understand what I had to do
or would I just break down and cry,
regretting all the things I’d done or
would I be angry at myself for all the
things I could’ve or should’ve done?


STAR MAPS


It never seemed possible to me to locate
Orion, the North Star, or the Big Dipper.
It made no sense to me, how 5 shining dots
in the deepest regions of space some how
formed a woman pouring a pitcher of water
or how a cluster of 7 stars is called Hercules.
But tonight I’m sitting on the edge of the world,
or at least the edge of a continent, it’s a place
away from it all, where the “light pollution” is low.
I point my smartphone to the sky and try to learn
what I could never figure out from a textbook or
Mr. Wright, my eight grade Earth Science teacher.
And for a moment, I remember the commercial’s
clever catchall phrase, “There’s an app for that”.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

ESCAPE TO WALTON'S MOUNTAIN




a sudden storm put the power out in Charlottesville
sent us on our way, no UVA and no Monticello either.
We left town for another famous American’s home,
winding roads, backwoods, the Blue Ridge Mountains,
we planned this trip as we watched “Season One”.

Won’t be what you seen as a boy on Thursday nights.
You’ll come upon a factory, never heard about that.
You’ll find the house close to the road, only a few yards
from the church, it’s real small and makes you wonder-
How’d they all fit and get along in such a tiny place?

There’s a gift shop modeled after John-Boy’s shed.
The man who bought the family home spends days
shipping books and DVDs to his online customers.
Told us about Earl Hamner’s last visit and how Audrey
stops by now and then. $10 will get you a quick tour.

Down the road is a school, nothing like the one on TV.
A spacious brick building, high ceilings and tall windows
turned into a museum, run by locals to honor the show
and the family who lived here during the Depression.
Each room recreates a scene with props and furniture.

And when I saw it all, I wanted to sneak past
the red velvet ropes and chrome stanchions.
I wanted to hear the Fireside Chat on the radio.
I wanted to sit at the long dining room table and
have black coffee and Olivia’s applesauce cake.
I wanted to write a journal entry at John- Boy’s desk.

I wanted to smell the sawdust from Daddy’s sawmill.
I wanted to go fishing with Jim Bob, Ben and Jason.
I wanted to help Elizabeth feed Reckless and Chance.
I wanted to listen to Grandpa’s stories on the porch.
I wanted to go to swimming with Mary Ellen and Erin.

But they weren’t there and never were. Yes, finally I
understood- it was just a show, based on a writer’s family.
Even the names were different, James, Paul, and Nancy.  
It was then that I realized how the family I knew and loved
were characters played by actors in California in the 1970’s.

A short drive brings you to a new store built on the site of
Ike Godsey’s place that had burned down. And of course-
he’s not there, just two ladies organizing packs of cigarettes.
They made us hot dogs on the grill. We ate at a picnic table
and compared the real family story with the fictional family.


And at the age of Forty two it gave me the same feeling as I’d
had when I found out about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
We took 64 West to 81 South and after a few hours we stopped
for the night to rest and as the lights went out, we both knew
we just had to say it to each other- “Goodnight  John-Boy”.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

THE CUT



Visiting them one weekend, working together,
laughing, joking all the while, unique accents
from their home in the mountains and then
a cut happened when I was just three or four.

In the soil outback, digging dirt, wrapping burlap
around nursery stock, probably a little azalea.
A German Shepherd named King prowled around,
while a wild girl with straight, long blonde hair
rode in on a horse without a worry in the world.

It had to be the cut that sealed the moment
in my brain, and when I saw him with his full head
of thick white and gray hair, I remembered it jet black.
I remembered the black beard that perfectly framed
his sharp, angular young face with piercing eyes
and tanned skin, the man who always worked.

His arms were still sinewy, his body still wiry.
I was old enough to notice a sadness in his eyes.
And now, twenty years later, I saw the wrinkles
and lines etched in his tanned skin, all those years of
riding tractors under the blazing sun, in slicing wind.

He wrestled to pull his wallet from the pocket of his
steel gray Dickies work pants and strangely enough,
it matched the skin on his neck, the backs of his hands,
it was weathered too from riding along with him
in the fields and Interstates, and when the billfold opened,

he said to me in his Southern drawl,
“I always knew you’d come back to us.”
And with his driver’s license, and scraps of paper, there I was.
A picture of five year old me.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

THE TROUBLE WITH TIME


Time often makes me skip 1 of the day's 3 meals
and reminds me to take only 10 minute showers.
It put 19 spots on my hands, makes me squint a lot,
and filled my head with a 100,000 wiry white hairs.
It compels me to hurry out the door by at least 8,
insists I pay the mortgage by the first of the month.
It sends me off to bed by 11 in order to be sure and
get at least 6 hours of sleep for the next work day.

It forces me to teach 43 minute lessons in school.
It tells me to stop reading on page 156 for dinner.
It demands I quit writing to answer the telephone.
It makes me turn off a game in the seventh inning.
It gets me thinking about my 2 week vacation and
once I get there, it sends me back home. It has me
contemplate next year’s trip and what it will be like
in 15 years when I retire and I’ll travel so much more.

It nudges me along every five minutes in museums and
has me checking my watch while hiking on nature trails.
It tells me, have one for the road and turn out the lights.
It keeps me from staring too long out my back window
at blue jays, cardinals and crows. It won’t permit me to
grow an herb garden, a lilac hedge, 6 to 8 tomato plants,
or a row of 5 or 6 dogwood, cherry and magnolia trees.
It forces me to run around 4 weeks before the holiday,
then suddenly it’s over. Only 364 shopping days left!

It quickly aged our cat and dog, now all they do is sleep.
It takes me back to a specific candy store or pizza place
from my youth and has me craving cherry snow cones.
It stole my Gunsmoke lunchbox, baseball cards and
Fantastic Four comic books. It sold my Stingray bike
at a yard sale and it makes me cry while driving when
certain old songs from the 60’s or 70’s come on the radio.

Time made me say goodbye to friends and coworkers.
It took my grandparents too soon and my Dad at age 60.
In 3 years, it’ll send my only son away and off to college.
Then I’ll wait the 16 weeks until his first semester ends.
One day, time will run out for me and in 2 days I’ll have
a birthday, I’ll be 16,437 days old! But who’s counting? 



Sunday, April 22, 2012

HORSE SHOW, 1989


















Crowds of people who all seemed to know him,
mingled and exchanged strong handshakes with
each other as they entered the fairground gates.
Riders strutted in fancy hats, ties and dress suits,
a mixture of old England and early plantation times.

They weaved through a lot filled with horse trailers,
Big Chevy Crew Cabs, and waxed and shiny Dualies.
Farmers, merchants, horse lovers, and their families
rushed to the bleachers at the edge of the grass field.
We headed to the concession sheds to find dinner.

Great northern and navy beans in their own sauce,
a thick white gravy from slow cooking all day long,
heaped in deep round styrofoam bowls, a huge slab
of Vidalia onion on top, a block of cornbread for a lid.
“Dry and gritty, it’ll scratch the throat as it goes down”.

He pointed out Master and we cheered as Mike rode
the shiny black stallion with its chain ankle bracelets.
Head up, throwing legs high, showing off, “the big lick”.
In those stands that night I discovered Southern culture,
Tennessee Walking Horses and my father, the horseman.

Monday, April 16, 2012

BOONDOCKERS




On Saturday morning I jumped out of bed,
put on my husky Toughskins, tube socks,
a Flyers ski cap and a red plaid flannel shirt.
I laced up my boondockers and headed off
to the woods of my youth in South Jersey.

I heard men laughing, the chainsaws buzzing,
logs clunking into the bed of an old Ford pickup.
I found my Grandfather with his teacher friends
on the edge of a soy bean field, near the pond
I’d fallen into more than thirty some years ago.

I ran to the forest, stopped to exchange stares
with a whitetail deer, found the brook where
the scared muskrats scurried and an otter swam.
I climbed trees, crossed streams, chucked rocks,
took cover behind maples, charged a hill with sticks,
breathed in cold fresh air and it made me invincible.

APPALACHIAN WINTERS



The smell of barbecues crept over backyard fences.
Kids found their baseball gloves, played in the street.
Mothers threw open windows to air out the houses.
Families flocked to parks, ball fields and boardwalks.
Others drove with tops down, turned the music up.

After a few days of flip flops and sleeveless shirts,
the sunshine and warm weather began to fade away.
Cold weather returned, bring in the plants, find your
wool caps, sweaters, sweatshirts, maybe even a coat.
“What’s going on?”  “What happened to the weather?”

And when I looked out the window and saw the tree
loaded with blossoms, I remembered what he said about
Dogwood Winter, Blackberry Winter, Whippoorwill Winter,
moments in spring time that remind you it can still be cold,
don’t try to rush the seasons, it’ll be summer soon enough.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

IN THE TOBACCO BARN



It had been a dry fall, without morning fog or dew
leaves are likely to shatter if you pull them off dry.
Already November, with an auction on the horizon.
It was his Christmas check or the last of the money.

Not a word said between them, men climbed high
in the rafters, straddled poles and beams and formed
a chain to pass stakes with sticky stalks, cured tobacco.
Others pulled it, put it into piles- tips, brights and lugs.

They worked in silence, each knew exactly what to do.
It was Saturday, someone plugged in a boom box and
as they worked, they heard the play by play, straining
to hear their team battling with the perennial favorites.

Finally the announcer’s famous call of “Give… him… six!”
and “Touchdown Tennessee!” went over the airwaves.
The men yelled and hollered, but never stopped working.
They kept pulling, grading, and baling the burley tobacco.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

THE JOY OF SHADOW PUPPETS

Those were the days of record players,
View-Masters, filmstrips, and projectors.
Watching a movie in school meant it had
to be set up carefully, ahead of time by a
teacher who knew how to thread it over
loops, metal frames, rollers, and spindles.

We watched filmstrips and felt honored
when chosen to be the one to turn a knob.
We listened carefully for a narrator to stop
and heard the “boop” from a record player.
At the end of each filmstrip or movie viewing
we’d fall all over each other, like little moths
wanting to get to the screen to try and make
shadow puppets on the wall. It didn’t last long,
as the teacher ended it quickly with her usual-
“All right, all right. That’s enough. Settle down.”

Thirty five years later it’s a new age with 
iPads, X-box, internet, DVD players in cars.
I’m the teacher now and present each lesson
with a laptop, Power Point, and LCD projector.
Strangely,after the advances in technology and
all the time that’s passed, kids still find magic in
trying to make barking dogs or soaring eagles with
their hands, a bulb’s glare and shadows on the wall.
And that's why I pause before shutting off the light.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

HISTORY OF LACROSSE


At least once a summer, walking along the beach,
I’d stop to watch my grandfather interrupt students
from Maryland playing with fancy new lacrosse sticks.
He’d ask to take a turn and they always obliged and
smiled as he cradled the ball in the pocket before
whipping it to the other young man. “Oh boy”, he’d say,
then pause, examine the netting and grip before nodding
and thanking them. Off we’d go down the boardwalk
past Ocean Deck, Taylor Pork Roll, and all the little shops.
 He’d tell me stories about his days as a defenseman
playing with the Bear Mountain Cubs, for Springfield in ’32,
his knee injury and officiating for the plebes at West Point.
He’d laugh at young people who thought it was a new sport.
He’d talk about the tribes in New York state, the tradition
and most of all his vivid memories of his old teammates.

My grandfather, D.Bewick- back row, third from the left.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

APOLOGY TO A HOUSE


I meant to give you a new roof,

have the tree branches trimmed,

and add on a big deck in the back.

I wanted some stylish front doors,

insulated windows, brighter lighting,

central air, a new hot water heater,

hardwood floors in the living room,

another toilet, a better shower stall,

and ceramic tiles for the side room.

I planned to paint the foundation,

pave the driveway, fix the doorbell,

power wash the siding and shutters,

and put up a white stockade fence.

I talked about more counter space,

bigger cabinets and a dishwasher in

the kitchen we rarely use for cooking.

I dreamed about a finished basement

with a party room and flat screen tv.

I thought I’d plant a dogwood tree,

a row of forsythia, and a lilac hedge.

Here we are, it’s twelve years later,

I have to say I’m sorry for the little

I’ve done for you, to help you improve,

to make you stronger and better too.

Someday I promise to make it up to you.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

THE VISIT, 1990


At a counter in a crowded kitchen

decorated with roosters and hens

we sat on stools drinking black coffee

in mismatched cups and chipped mugs.


He showed me his gun cabinet, his prized

Winchester, the gun that won the West.

I knew you’d come one day, he said as he

pulled my kindergarten photo from his wallet.


She mixed the flour with shortening and

used a jelly jar to perfectly cut out biscuits.

I told your Dad that when you got two babies

you have to stay, but he just couldn’t do it.


Sharing memories of the times back in Jersey

turned to a conversation of misunderstandings

and regrets but when I went to leave they said

what they always said to us all, Stay with us.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

ALMOST WROTE A LETTER


So much was made of the heading,

the greeting, the body, the salutation.

Red line drawn down the right side of

the white lined composition paper to

align the home address with the closing-

“Sincerely yours,” and my new signature.

Penmanship and punctuation- a must.

Rewrite it, do it again, not right? Again.

Stamps purchased for their artistic beauty.

There were special boxes of pastel, floral

themed stationary or was it stationery?


Finding a letter in my mailbox today made

me sit on the steps to read it, to follow the

numbers of the pages, to keep track of the

anecdotes about people we once knew,

last week’s weather, a meal made for dinner.

And as I read it, I heard it all in your voice,

the way I’d seen it done in so many movies.

I sat for a moment to think of how I should

write you back, mention the coming season,

ask about your health or wish you well before

closing with a “Truly yours,” or “All the best”.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SUNDAY IN THE PARK

The best way to succeed in life is to

act on the advice we give to others. ~Author unknown


Sun on my face, birds on every branch,

bulbs sprouting, green grass emerging

before our eyes in this patch of nature

wedged between busy state highways.

All feeling the same way, the same joy,

blessed by whoever we pray to, but today

we worship blue skies, and magnolia trees.


Here together, but alone, not a word said,

barely a nod as we stroll past one another.

On days like these, I wish we could talk to

each other. I would tell them what I know

what I see, what I think and how I’m feeling.


I’d tell a Dad, be patient with your boy as

they try to fly a kite with not much wind.

I’d tell a Mom in tight fitting jeans to go slow

on her bike, don’t worry about your weight

from where I’m standing, you look mighty fine.


I’d tell a guy walking with headphones to take

them off, listen to children laughing, jays calling,

the swings swaying and the little dogs yapping.

Turn off your phone, walk a trail, read the signs,

identify the trees, admire them, know their names.


I’d tell young parents- let the kids shed their coats,

let them run wild across the fields in the sunshine.

Let them pickup sticks, turn over rocks, look for bugs.


I’d tell another guy by the swings not to say it’s time to

leave and keep pushing until they say they want to go.

I want to ask them all to not scold their babies about

muddy sneakers, grass stains on knees or torn shirts.

I’d remind them how cheap band aids are and how

soap and water is most plentiful in this great country.


I want to offer to take a picture for the one family,

because Dads need to be in some of the photos too.

I’d tell an older couple it’s cool how they still hold

hands after all these years as they walk the path.


I want to tell a lady she’s reading an awesome

book and how it’s much better than the movie.

I’d like to tell the elderly couple that I know what

they’re thinking as they watch a girl dig in the dirt

or when they smile as a boy throws his football.


I wish I could advise the teenager under a scarlet oak

not to worry about what she’s writing in her notebook

or what people will say if they read it. Write it down and

always have some extra pens with you is what I’d say.


I want to wave to a Mom with a plaid blanket spread out

for a picnic lunch. I’d tell her that in forty years her kids

will remember days like this one and they’ll miss it too.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

CONFESSIONS OF A MODERN DAY HERMIT

"I don't want to be alone,

I want to be left alone."- Audrey Hepburn


I prefer to do my banking online.

I don’t answer my home phone.

I avoid going to the Post Office.

I Christmas shop on the internet.

I buy groceries in the early morning.

I still say "hello and see you later",

but I wave and always keep walking.


I like to prepare my coffee by myself.

I look for a seat by the window in the

Bagel Shop and I could do without the

Beyonce music blaring from speakers.

I’d rather not listen to the droning list of

Sports Center clich├ęs on the flat screen

TV that’s suspended from the ceiling.


I take back roads, avoid highways,

go to dinner in the late afternoon.

I don’t want a table by old people,

babies, teens or families with kids.

I park at the back of the lot, far away

from the mess of cars that cruise rows

with blinkers in search of a front spot.


And when I come out of the stores,

each and every time, I find my Jeep

surrounded by trucks and other cars.

It’s a magnet that seems to attract

them or maybe it’s a well planned

conspiracy organized to make sure

my efforts to be left alone are in vain.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

AN ODD SHOPPING LIST

A large box of Saltine crackers,

two cans of Campbell’s Soup,

red & white label, chicken noodle,

a package of Lipton tea bags and

assorted colors and flavors of Jell-O.

Half gallon of Tropicana orange juice,

a six pack of Canada Dry Ginger Ale

piled in a blue plastic shopping basket.


If I saw all these on the conveyor belt

gliding along, on the way to the cashier

it would only mean one thing for me.

Somebody must be sick in that house.

Maybe I’m strange, maybe everyone

else has different ideas about what you

need to help you get better, or what

you should buy when loved ones are ill.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

PREMONITION


He’s at the mall with the other teenagers.

She’s at her monthly meeting for school.

Tonight I’ll take myself out to dinner to a

place I go when I’m alone, because it’s ok

to be alone there. The pizza guys make me

feel at home when I approach the counter.

I tell them, I’m going to stay here tonight.


Assorted red and green neon signs shine

above my cheese steak with fried onions

as I tap the bottom of a bottle of ketchup.

It occurs to me that in a few years, this may

be me more often. Sitting at a table for four

by a window watching families come and

go on a Friday night, laughing together as

they rush out the door with pies in hand.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

RED WINE AND CACHO

Under sprawling branches of their sycamore with its

peeling bark, a dozen birdhouses hung like ornaments,

but served a purpose, shelters for those little tiny finches.

We drank the red wine, rolled the dice, spoke of the future,

planned to travel to places that made him the strongest.

Looking back on that day, I’d have to say it was just right.

The right amount of sunshine, laughter, warm breezes, mixed

with the cup’s rattle and slam on the table with its woven cloth

of green, red and blue threads. A second bottle was opened from

“the cellars of the devil”, and with charango music on a boom box,

he stopped to say once more-These Chileans seem to have the idea,

but I still can’t forgive them for taking away our pathway to the sea.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

CIGARETTES FOR BREAKFAST


Temperatures in the teens this morning.

The scent of smoke travels quicker in cold

winter air, there must be a reason for this?

A fifth grade science fact long forgotten.

No one smokes inside their homes anymore.


Peek through the blinds, on my way down

and I see him banging a pack of Marlboros

on the heel of his hand, a custom of many.

Younger ones smack longer, twice as hard

before removing the cellophane wrapper.


Next door, the lady with all the dogs yells

because they’re barking and growling again.

I hear her coughing and know that she must

be fumbling in the pockets of her bathrobe

for the lighter that will start her busy day.


From my kitchen window, I see a big man

in his pajamas, winter coat, and a wool cap.

He puffs away on his Newport, shuffling from

side to side, attempting to keep himself warm.

Days like this must make them think of quitting.