Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Second Coming: Dream Sequence

I was just straddling the fence and watching the horses mosing around in the corral when I hear one of the cowpokes say there's gonna be a second coming over at Campbell's ranch.  So some of the guys start in pooh-poohing it, and some start asking what's a second coming.  But me, knowing my catechism, I take off right away for Campbell's ranch, cause I got questions I want to ask Him – if it's for sure Him that's coming, which at first I have my doubts.

Well, I get to the ranch, and there's all these people milling around and asking when the whole thing's supposed to start, and who the hell set it up, and stuff like that.  Then a powerful bright light shows up, and they all get quiet.  And I get this scared feeling, because right smack where the bright light is stands a man in a blinding white robe, and he stretches his arms out to us.  All around me, people are oohing and ahhing and rolling their eyes back in their heads like that girl in The Exorcist movie I seen once.  Then I notice that some other of the people are stomping around kind-of mad like, saying, “What's all this shit about anyhow?” and “When's the TV people gonna show up?”  Then one smart alec yells, “Hey, everybody!  Smile!  You're on Candid Camera!”  Some people laugh, but most of them are real serious and some cross themselves.  I figure those ones are the Catholics, because although I don't, some of us Catholics, especially the old-timers, do that when hearing something holy or scary or that someone's got cancer and like that.  Anyways, there I am, ready to sprint on over to talk to the man in the white robe.  I mean, if it sure enough IS Jesus, then I aim to get my points in, 'cause God knows I sure can use some.  

Next thing I know, I'm right up there face-to-face with him, so I take off my cowboy hat, and I surprise myself by saying, real respectful-like, “Lord, why are some of those guys over there saying what's all this shit, and like that?”  That's not what I mean to ask him at all, but there it is – right out in the open, and I can't call it back.  

Nice and gentle then, he answers me that those are the non-believers.  He sighs real deep, and he's just so darn sweet that I don't rightly know why, but I get this little lump in my throat. For a minute I think I might cry, but I don't. Instead I say, “And are you fixing to smite them right here and now with the jawbone of an ass or something equally awesome?”

He says, “No, no. Not right here and now anyway.”

So I finally get around to asking what I came to ask in the first place.  “Well, Lord, what about me?  Am I gonna make it?  Salvation, I mean.  Am I heading for heaven, or – well, you know – the other place?”

He does a really Italian thing, then.  He holds out his hand, palm down and wiggles it a little,   like saying with his hand, maybe yes, maybe no.  And here I always thought he was Jewish, not Italian, but then, I guess he wants to be everyman for us.

“Lord, I don't mean to be disrespectful,” I say, “but what kind of answer is that?”

I look to see if he's mad, and I'm set to duck, in case he goes for an ass's jawbone, but he just smiles so beautiful at me and says, “Well, son, it depends on how you behave from now on.”  And then, just like that, he ups and disappears clean out of sight.

So I never do find out.  Guess I'll just have to wait 'til I die, only by then it'll be too late.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


From out the silver-backed frame,

Part in anger, part in pain, 

Spoke the silver-haired dame:

Oh you out there –  

You of unlined face 

And black hair,

Why the puzzled stare?

Then replied 

Her counterpart fair,

Pouting with injured air:

Stand I here in wonder

How it came to be

That you are me

Or  I, you, as the case may be.

Upon Reading Sylvia Plath: Reflections in Tandem

Oh you out there in your silver-backed frame,
You of unlined face and black hair,
Why the puzzled stare?
Do you wonder when it came to be
That I am you
And you are me as I used to be?



        1.   Create a metaphor by completing the sentence:  You are ____________ to me .
                        2.  Create a simili by completing the sentence:  You are like a ____________ to me .

            1.  You are a thief to me, stealing away, life's essence..
            2.   You are like a thief to me, who, stealing, empties life. 

How it entered

No one knew

Nor exactly why or when 

But in recesses dark and deep

It hid.

Then what it did

Was steal memory away,

Leaving life in disarray.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Tale of Betsy And Her Brother Fred

What I saw were two spheres of packed snow on the white lawn, the smaller 

ball on top. Was that what she saw, too?

Two round, smooth pebbles which we had taken from the base of the large maple in the yard, were pressed into where conceivably a snowman’s eyes should be, if indeed this picasso-like creation of Betsy's and mine could be termed man in any sense of the word. A larger pebble, or nose, was more-or-less centered on the ball, and for a mouth, a short brown stick was pressed in at a rakish angle, giving the snowman a jaunty look.

             “I like your little snowman,” I said.  “He has character.”

       “He’s my brother Fred.”

       “Your brother Fred?  Honey, he’s just a snowman.”

       Betsy smiled.

       At first her mother and father and I had delighted in her made-up stories.  We marveled at the depth of imagination at her mere four years of age, and told ourselves that she must be very bright. The belief filled us with pride. However, as the stories became more and more frequent, uneasiness began to reign in our hearts.

   A few years went by, and then one time, off-handedly, she announced that Harry Potter lived in their basement, and that she was in love with him.  Another time she said that as soon as her daddy and mommy were sound asleep each night, she went off to the bat cave for an hour or two.  

“With Batman?” I asked.

“No,” she said.  “With the other vampire bats.”

The other vampire bats?  What other?  

“You’re just pretending,” I said, barely disguising the plea in my voice. “Aren't you, Honey?”  

She smiled. 

“Honey, you do know that’s just pretending, don’t you, and not real?”  

Again she just smiled.

A few years later, Mrs. Willison, her Sunday-school teacher, told of a conversation she and Betsy had. “You know,” Betsy had told the Sunday-school teacher, “I have an older brother.”

Mrs. Willison knew Betsy to be an only child, and assuming that she longed

for a sibling, she played along.

“Really?” she said.  “Why have I never seen him at church?”  

According to Mrs. Willison, Betsy's answer was to smile a knowing smile. 

Now, as Betsy and I stood together in the snow-covered yard, a gray winter 

cloud hid the sun, and a sudden wind stirred the bare branches of the maple tree. 

Betsy took the scarf from around her neck and wrapped it where the two large 

snow spheres met, knotting it in front.  

“There,” she said. “Fred gets cold easy.”

It was useless.  

“Well, I get cold easily, too,” I said. “Time to go in.”

During the night, the temperature inched upward, not uncharacteristic for early December, and when I checked the thermometer outside my bedroom window the 

next morning, I saw that the red mercury line topped forty-seven degrees.

Fred will be sinking into a watery grave, I thought.  When Betsy wakes up, 

we’ll have to talk more about this fantasy thing of hers.  She simply must stop living 

in the world she creates for herself and start living in this one.  But when I looked 

out onto the lawn, I saw the snowman intact, still as fat and saucy as before. How

could that be? And did I imagine it, or was Fred several steps closer to the house?  

The uneasiness that for several years I had kept lodged in a far corner broke loose and spread.

Monday, September 17, 2012

On The Road To Lake Erie

Cotton-punctured summer sky,

In hue of brightest blue.

Phantom straits on an endless sea

Seem endless, too, 

Stretching to phantom shores.

Here and there, marshmallow pillars,

Canyons, or so they appear to be.

And floating beneath it  all,

Roads I see 

That lead to white infinity,

Fluffy ghost-town scenes.

Monday, April 2, 2012

March Militaire: A Prose Poem? Or merely a metaphor in prose?

“Are you still marching in the mornings?” a friend asked.

Adjusting her earphones, she sets forth, strident strains of Schubert in her head. 

The Waterworks looms nigh, and just as British soldiers once tramped the Plains of Abraham, so she, in her New-Balance shoes, trods Waterwork's plains. 

Parked cars bar the path, but maneuvering with a deftness born of  experience, she averts attack of the side mirrors. To a native she waves a hasty greeting.  Then, determined cadence resumed, stays focused on her mission.

Laying claim at last to the lot end-to-end, regrouping, she plans her strategy before crossing no-man's land – between The Waterworks and  St. Margaret's Hospital.  

Once in hospital territory, advances to its boundary, where, alas, fatigue, ultimate enemy, forces defeat.  Then begins the long retreat home.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Anna, Do You Remember Our Troll?

Assignment:  Create an image:  a negative and a positive

The positive:  Anna, just three; happy to be with me, in Squaw Valley Park.

The negative:  Anna, just three; frightened as she could be, because of me.

Anna, my sweet Anna,

Do you remember our troll 

Who lived under the bridge in the park

Where you and I spent happy hours 

When you were very young?

This morning, as early as eight at best,

When the sun still hugged horizon's crest 

Under a sky yet tinged with dark,

I walked through our special park

And thought of you.

I passed by the bridge we used to cross,

Remembering how you would scurry

As fast as your little legs could hurry

Lest the troll beneath, disturbed from sleep,

Should toss us into the waters of the creek.

I really thought that you knew

The story I had fabricated wasn't true.

But when you were older you said

You used to tremble with dread,

Thinking the troll real.

Today  a  closed-for-repairs sign

Bars the bridge we considered  yours and mine,

And the rickity bridge of our private lore,

Replaced by a newer, sturdier span,

Will be no more.

So forgive me, my sweet Anna.

I thought of you today

And of the hours we shared. 

I hadn't meant to make you scared.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Going Home

[An attempt at using sound and assonance in a poem, to tell a story and describe an emotion.]

Like a lament from distant hills,
ever closer it came,
louder and louder still,
until it was a whistle, shrieking and shrill,
piercing the quiet countryside air.

A young boy, freckled and fair,
stopped short upon hearing the cry.
Then across sunlit field he raced,
and by tracks already throbbing,
waited to watch the train go by.

As it thundered past, atop one of the cars,
an old and tattered hobo sat.
Upon spying the lad, he lifted arm on high,
waved his crumpled cap, and shouted over the din:
“Goin' home, boy! At last I'm goin' home again!”

Within the boy stirred a feeling undefined.
Yet far too young was he to know the woe
of being long and far away from home.
Nor yet had he lived enough of life to ken
the joy of going home again.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

To Alex

I've just been re-reading some of your poems.

They fill me with pride in your talent 

And spaun so many memories of you.

I remember how as littlest child you fussed and fumed 

 over wrinkled socks within your tiny shoes;

How there was no peace until shoes were removed 

 and socks made smooth.

I remember your protests and how you'd fidget

 over shirt sleeves wrinkled under your jacket.

Can any of us ever forget your cries from your carseat? 

 Help! I'm stuck! 

Forgive us now, for failing then to see

your ever restlessness to be free,

Be that as it may, Alex, suffer me to  say

I hope to live a bit longer yet  

 to glory in the pride of  all you will do,

 to share in further heights destined for you. 

Monday, February 27, 2012


In the altered realm of dream

Where memory redefines,

Slideshows of a long life lived,

Like electric impulses,

Flicker and snap.

The roads traveled over the years,

The joys, the hurts, the fears,

Nestled within, private and deep,

In metaphor cross and recross

When we sleep.