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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”.