Summer Saturday 1969 When I was Nine

Cartoons with cereal
Captain Crunch with Scooby-Doo
on the black and white TV.

Pink Panther, Bugs Bunny and Casper the Ghost
until mother announced that it was time
to put on clothes.

The Tony the Tiger bowl, spoon and cup I saved for and bought,
carefully put in the sink.

I saw the ad on a box of Frosted Flakes,
brother helped me fill out the card,
Mother gave me the stamp, the envelope …

A long six weeks and daily disappointment.
Then joy and a prized possession
Sometimes I put the spoon at my dad’s place at dinner.

Jeans bought last September, now cutoff shorts,
and a white tee-shirt were the uniform.
No need for shoes.

At Bob’s house were the Matchbox cars, kids and dog.
Bob’s older brothers had a record player and all the Beatles albums 
we’d listen to Yellow Submarine and Sgt. Pepper as we raced little cars around the room.

Dave had a transistor radio that played
Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

My older brother had a radio in our garage
sometimes he’d let us listen as he worked on his train set and slot cars.
We’d crawl on the big table made of plywood and setup track for him.
Sometimes he’d let us run the train - until we made it go too fast and broke the engine.

That song still haunts my memory,
In The Ghetto, Elvis’ voice,
but not his usual style,
it moved me, confused me, and friends didn’t understand the sadness I thought I felt.

The Tonka trucks were in my backyard
in the dirt,
near mud,
piled with sticks and rocks.

Three of us were there when mother called me in for lunch.
Baloney sandwiches with Kool-Aid.
We all got sandwiches.

Then Bob said his mother was making peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches
We got milk with those.
Dave’s mother was on to us, so we only got apple slices there.

The late afternoon shade spread across the lawn
where we’d jumped off our bikes and rest from the afternoon heat.

From the house came the sound of a piano.
My mother, practicing for a concert she never gave.
We were her only audience as she played,
Clair de Lune

Haunting
Demanding
Pulling
Flowing

One by one the dinner call came
for those lost and precocious times.
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Friday Wisdom – Hotels

Last week I was thinking about road trips so this week I’m thinking about hotels:

Did you hear about the photon that arrived at the hotel without a suitcase? It was traveling light.

I once stayed at an upscale hotel with towels so thick I could barely close my suitcase.

I was having trouble getting my phone to work in my room so I went downstairs. They had reception down there.

I asked the desk clerk for a wakeup call so she asked, “What are you doing for the rest of your life?”

Seven star hotels are overrated.

I was checking into a hotel and they asked if I wanted a shower or bathtub. Thinking there might be a price difference I asked, “What’s the difference?” The desk clerk replied, “You have to standup in a shower.”

I called a hotel to make a reservation. The lady answering the phone said, “Hello, Best Western … ” I immediately replied, “High Noon with Gary Cooper.”

Did you know there’s a noodle hotel? It’s call the Ram Inn

There’s a new trendy hotel in town and they were giving tours. I went, but they filled me with a uncertain tea.

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Friday Wisdom – Road Trip

I had to do a lot of driving yesterday so here are some thoughts on travelling:

We were having trouble finding the store so I turned down the radio so I could see better.

When we got to the hotel the desk clerk asked if I had reservations. I said, “Yes, but I’ll risk it and stay here anyway.”

I was listening to a report on the radio that said soon there will be self-driving trucks. Made me wonder how long it will be before there’s a country song where the guy’s truck leaves him.

My brother said I couldn’t make a car out of spaghetti – you should have seen the look on his face when I drove pasta.

It’s bad when it’s raining cats and dogs, but watch for hailing taxi.

Why aren’t more aliens visiting earth? Horrible ratings – only one star.

There’s nothing like sleeping through a road trip – except for the screaming of your passengers …

Did you hear about the pianist who was planning a vacation? She wants to go to the Florida Keys.

I went to the airport and got sick. The doctor thought I might have a terminal illness.

My road trip play list includes the song, “Hotel California.” After it played the sixth time I turned off the music. You can turn off the song anytime you want but the song never leaves.

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Three Things that Could be Poems

I wanted to write a poem so I started to think about a subject, a line, an object, a scene or metaphor that could be turned into verse.  In daily life there are so many things that we overlook.  As we walk through the world we miss the everyday poetry in the simple acts of mowing the lawn, buying groceries or just sitting and looking at the floor.

I encounter three things this week that my brain is trying to condense into poems.  There are feelings, images, and emotions that my poetic brain wants to convey to you.  In my mind there is this desire to understand the symbols and hidden lessons of the simple world around us.

Jumbled in my head are thoughts – I think of a stew just starting to cook.  Individual pieces float in cold water, but with time and heat they meld, merge and form a rich broth.

This week there are just pieces.  Ingredients of what could be.  That’s all I have this week.

Mowing the Lawn in the Desert

It was just after breakfast and before morning tea that I stepped out into the desert air.  Above the backyard rises a bare mountain.  It’s a desert mountain with a dusting of sage brush, a tree sprinkled here and there, on top of rocky sand.  The bones are rock that the wind flies over.  The air is still and I can smell the cold fragrance of pine and soil.  In the tree tops air moves whispering of the coming afternoon wind.

From the shed I pull out the lawn mower and preform the ritual, slide the fully charged battery in, place the bag over the chute and wheel it to the corner of the lawn.  The mower hums as I move it over the green.

A contrast.  Artificial and out of place in the barren landscape, but yet perfectly fitting the neat garden and contained within the concrete sidewalks.  Without human efforts the smell of fresh grass would not be possible.  We have shaped the world to our desires.  We live outside the intent of nature.  We attempt to control pieces while the mountains watch our efforts.

Rolling Bottle

I was standing at the cash register watching the checker scan my items: A bag of lettuce, a can of beans, a box of crackers … 

Once scanned she placed, threw, launched the carefully chosen items on a conveyor belt that led to the bagger who was furiously shoving things into bags.  The checker quickly placed a bottle on the belt.  The round bottle fell over and started to roll.  That’s when I noticed that the belt went slightly up hill and the bottle just spun in place.  Gravity pulling back towards the checker while the movement of the belt tried to move it towards the bagger.

A box of pasta was discarded by the checker onto the conveyor.  Moving up hill, I watched and wondered if the box would push the bottle to the bagger or would the rolling bottle push the box back to the checker.

In this drama, the box touched the bottle and stopped its spinning allowing the belt to push both up hill to the waiting bag.

How many of us are bottles?

How many of us are boxes?
How many of us need a box to stop our pointless rolling?

The Museum’s Concrete Floor

I was in the art museum.  It was a good day, but also a bad day as my knee hurt and I needed my cane to walk.  Titled Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts and Crafts Movement, this exhibit had many fine paintings, sculptures, books and other interesting art.  Much of the work came from Birmingham where my wife was born and had spent time training to be a nursery nurse.

I thought I could see the art and find a poem.

Halfway through, I saw a bench and my knee begged me to sit awhile.  It’s strange that after you see a lot of art that your brain wants to shutdown a bit.  It’s an input overload.  You see things – too many things and your brain stops processing the images.  I let my eyes drop to the floor, resting both knee and brain.

The floor was concrete.  Bare, but waxed and polished.  There were a few stains and a small hole where likely someone had once shot a nail in to the floor – maybe for an old wall or exhibit case.  From the wall there was a crack – thin, almost spiderweb like crack moving across the floor and under my bench.  In the middle of the room a crack radiated out perpendicularly from the first crack I saw.

All concrete cracks.  These cracks develop as the concrete dries, cures and shrinks.  You can’t stop it.  It’s part of the process – part of the essence of concrete.  Builders and concrete workers have ways to hide the cracks.  Those long lines on your driveway and the lines across the sidewalk are put there on purpose.  These cuts are made when the concrete is wet and weakens the material at those lines.  The cracks happen there.  A clever concrete crew can make it look like there are no cracks, but it’s an illusion.  They just know how to force the crack to be where they want it.

A floor like the museum has is normally covered in carpet or vinyl so you’d never see the crack.  If you were in a hospital, grocery store or pet shop, you would see a nice floor, but the cracks would be hidden.

Here, where the art hangs on the walls, and where the walls change with every exhibition, they just let the floor run wild.  It’s not meant to be seen.

But yet there is a pattern.  There is a history of decisions.  There is a story why.  There is a metaphor that runs through our controlled yet wild lives.

Perhaps the poem is in the crack on the floor and not hanging on the wall.

And there is my stew.  Raw food waiting to be cut, chopped, spiced, mixed, and simmered until a poem’s aroma fills the room.

What ingredients have you found this week?

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