Time Travel, Letters, and a Poem

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This week I found three brown plastic file boxes. Inside my garage, and unopened for years. A literal treasure chest of stuff. Much of which I had forgotten about, or thought I had lost.

I found my press pass from when Ronald Reagan came to town, Kodachrome slides, my discharge certificates from the Army and the Navy, and letters. A huge pile of letters I had written to my Grandfather at P. O. Box 261, Sturgeon Missouri. I am actually thinking about writing and seeing who answers.

The letters were unbelievable. Evidently while stationed at Ft. Riley, and living in Manhattan, Ks., I was dating a “cute girl,” named Debbie who was under five foot tall, and we went to a Buddy Rich concert.

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I went to a Buddy Rich concert?

I don’t remember her or the concert. I do remember watching Buddy Rich play the drums on the Johnny Carson show. The letters cover all three years from my first days in basic training at Ft. Dix, to medical training at Ft. Sam, to my permanent duty station at Ft. Riley, Kansas. There are even some letters from Germany when I went there for training. There were also some letters to my uncle Bruce who lived with them. As you can see they were written on the stationary they used to sell at the PX.

In honor of my Grandfather, and all of my family members that have passed – especially my father. I offer it as a tribute to those “working class” people who lived decent lives and worked harder than they should have, for less than they should have made. A tribute to the struggle of the working person. I offer up this poem written in August of 2013 and published by The Poet’s Haven in December of that year along with another poem called Flight.

All My Relatives

I see them
in the small
secluded places
outside of office buildings
alone or
in small groups
smoking
listening to music
on their phone
or even reading a book
taking a break
whatever it takes
to escape
from their waged
slave labor
where they must
comply
with a smile
and a thank you
to the humiliation
of being
captured
and incarcerated
in a system
where they are used
and then discarded
at will
when they are
bent and broken
but before that
they stand
they stand on
the small corner
of the tiny
nation state
of their existence
where they can
enjoy
the diluted freedom
allotted to them
I see them
in the still small
secluded places
outside of office buildings
all my relatives
living on the reservations
of capitalism

It is sad that nobody writes letters anymore. Or reads poetry. When my two youngest girls went to camp I wrote them, but they never wrote back except to ask for money.

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A Picture & Two Poems

UntitledPoetry, at least in large part, is about the sound.  Years ago I started a poem that consisted of words that just felt good when you said them.  They are also words which are a bit dusty from lack of use.  That is the first poem.

The second poem is about the semi innocence of youth.  Awkward moments learning the dance of love, feeling your way through, and around, relationships.  I am still kinda working on that.

As, is so often the case with this blog, the photo has little to do with the content. Or does it?

 

 


Words That Feel Good to Say That You Do Not Get to Say Often Enough

Thingamajig
Fandango
Scintillating
Imbroglio
Magnanimous
Thingamabob
Gizmo
Gargantuan
Geranium
Whirligig
Lollygagging
(this is a work in progress)

Sixteen

In the yellow incandescent light
of your back porch
we were semi innocent

Memory Lane

windowMemories are windows to the past but sometimes the view is out of focus, and you are not sure what you are looking at.

Here are two poems from adolescence.  A sometimes painful, but ALWAYS interesting time.


 A History Lesson

my grandfather
always had a storage building someplace
which he filled
with all kind of miscellanea
always on the main street
in deserted, dying, downtowns
where the rent was cheap
in little towns that refused to die
but would not grow either
just shrivel down

the last was in Sturgeon, Missouri
in a building that had housed
a funeral home
that had left
some of the equipment behind
including a tilting narrow stainless steel table with gutters and drains
as well as other macabre
before that
the storage building was in Clark, Missouri

General Omar Bradley
was born just outside of Clark
a small town
of about 300 people
we drove there one day to visit
that storage building and
retrieve something or other
he had squirreled away there

as we drove into town
we passed a bum
who probably looked older than he was
because of that weathered look
drunks and homeless get
dressed in white dungarees and ragged white t-shirt
walking alongside the road
my grandfather waved at him
from the front seat
of his dark Olds Delta 88

“Fuck you.”
was all the guy said
my grandfather laughed
one of those soft big bellied Buddha laughs of his
He said: “That guy used to be the best house painter in the state.”
I asked:
“What happened?”
he answered:
“He became a drunk.”
as if that said it all

which it did

I think about that day
a surreal scene
which I replay in my mind
the thing I remember most is the laugh
a Zen koan chuckled rather than a spoken Jesus parable

Grandfather’s laugh was
an acknowledgment, a resignation,
with a dash of rancor directed toward something inside himself as well
with which he wrestled
but would not name out loud

The Little White House

there was anger there
in that little white house
and the scent of the household
was unfamiliar to me then
such that it took
many years to realize
who was responsible
what went wrong
when it started
how the clammy hand
of helplessness
held everyone down
such that some resigned
others raged
or went AWOL
and then you fought free
like a wild animal
that chews their own leg off
mad to escape the trap
there was anger there
in that little white house
but the odor was of fear

Things I Carry Into the World & One More Poem

I wanted to share a link with you and decided to tack on another poem.  The poem is about global warming and was written on 12 Auguest 2012 during a pretty hot summer.

First the video. I used this video today in class.  It shows how the angst, wonder, and energy of youth can turn into something pure and good.  It is, well, hopeful. I really like it, and I hope you enjoy it too: Link to video Things I Carry Into the World on Vimeo.dsc_0164

You might have noticed that one of the young men in the video is reading Langston Hughes.  I love Langston Hughes and finished his anthology about a year or so ago for the first time. Langston Hughes was originally from Joplin, Missouri.  I live in Missouri. I don’t know if his home is still standing. I am still trying to confirm or deny that.   At any rate, his anthology was something I sipped on and cherished like a fine apéritif one saves for special occasions.  A little bit here, and a little bit there.  You sip and savor good poetry. I think I will start reading it again.

Maybe I should do a series on Missouri poets?

The photo is of Kara, our beloved dog that died about three years ago, and Ricardo, our  irascible, yet affectionate, rabbit who survives.  We just cleaned out his cage.

Here is the poem.

Heat

so now we have become
powerful enough
to cook the earth
like a stew we who
are dangerous
adolescents finally
having our fingers burned from
playing with fire after
having indulged in every
decadent whim no matter
the consequence as we
turned up the heat
on the very pot in which
we most now boil up
our inconvenient
truth having damned the natural order
of things the ice at the polar party has
been melted away with
the hot air of rhetoric and
the burning steam is
a smoke signal to start
the new migration of
the rich to the
newly temperate zones where
they will homestead and
history will repeat
with one more land
grab trade with the natives offered
up cheap trinkets for
foul deeds as
the cavalry
overwatches with their
drones overhead to
push the dispossessed back to
their reservation of
the man made hell
consuming for themselves the
dried fruits of our labor