Friday, July 25, 2008

Two poems

My children
Who came
So wanted
Still foreigners
We do not speak
A common tonge
So I must listen
For vibrations
To ascertain
What it is
They need.
Feeling along
For evidence
Or cues
Never knowing
If I extend the peace
Or declare
When all I wanted
Was to give them
A home
And set them

The Math of Keeping House
8 rooms
2 baths
Basement and garage
Many many closets
Junk drawers
Baskets like eddys
Of stuff.
Each week these must be
Sorted, put back
How much life
Times to hold it
To clean, organize, infuse
With the Energy of
But I am just passing through
The hours—
This week 60 hours at work
An hour and a half to prepare
The Meals
2 Hours in procurement
The hours soon in
Negative balance
But days MUST balance
You cannot run in the red
Without bartering your future
And so something
Must be subtracted
The numbers, like a universe
Eventually collapsing upon itself
In a zero sum game.
The numbers
3 hours to clean out a closet
Detail a car
Reorganize 2 kitchen cabinets
Write a poem
Take a nap
Read a book
Go to a languid lunch with a friend
You can create a world in 3
But oh to wrest those
From the tangle of the routine
To have and to hold
Precious fleeting and
Never to come again.
The math of life.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Untitled poem

I think in this country
There is a conversation
About Class
That we are not having.

Oh, the race one
And the gender one
We are sometimes
In a kind of side swipey way.

A conversation that is not going well
And getting us nowhere.

But we like to believe
Here in the land of the Free
That folks are Poor
Because they don’t Apply Themselves,
And everybody
Can be
A Self Made Man.

It’s a secret
That folks on the bottom know
And a few obscure academics
Can back up with facts:
Your zipcode and parents income
Are the better than a palm reader
In predicting your future.

to the comfort of pundits
and Rapacious Haves,
And politicians
far removed from reality
Many of us were Passing
As Having.

We turned our houses into cash machines
And bought the snake oil
Of No Money Down
In the days of Pre Approved Credit
At Mafia rates.

But the Days of Not Having
And paying the piper are upon us,
They were long overdue.
Now, we watch in horror as 401K’s
Free fall with the
Market turned Bear.
We leave our steel albatrosses starving by the road,
Unable to sate their gas tanks.
We should have known when we began
Putting Food in their metal maws
That the party was over.

We are no longer Passing
As Having,
As the lines at the shelter and food pantry grow
And the foreclosures flood the market
And folks let the pipes freeze
And do without.

This is a nation that has seen hard times
I have no doubt there will be something
Left of us
When we come off this hard road.
But we need to stop believing
that folks who have fallen
on Hard Times
Are second class citizens.
We need to unpack the hidden backpack of privilege
That Having gets at the gate when they arrive.
We need to start living
As though we are all Related
Because we are

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Life cycle events

I missed a wedding this month. Schedule got too overloaded, work buried me, after working 60 hours I just could not drive 4 hours. I don’t usually miss life cycle events….. Lord knows I have been to a prodigious amount of funerals in the last month, especially when I am so young. I much prefer weddings.

My clan has enjoyed a number of memorable weddings and quite a number of them “stuck”. One of my FAVORITE weddings was when my uncle got hitched. I was fairly young at the time—he was only 8 years older than me, maybe I was in my early teens, and my uncle was living something of an alternative lifestyle with a shared house out on a levee my aunt and others in the family did not approve. The wedding occurred at a small country church, and I thought my aunt to be looked unbelieveably beautiful in her absolutely perfect cotton white summer dress. Well maybe there was some polyester in it somewhere. That dress has become something of an icon, bell sleeved, empire waist, A-line 70’s—defining a time and a period, which they keep bringing back in retro fashion lines and in movies like Across the Universe. The good ole’ days.

I remember the wedding cake—there may have been petit fours, I remember the punch and getting sugared up in the church hall. I remember the Indiana suffering heat, which even today can knock me flat, and I supposedly grew up in it. And then, what I most remember, is we had to go down a bunch of rural roads and park our car and get on the bed of a hay hauler while a tractor drove us up a washed out road to the party at an old farm house set way back from the road. The ride was bumpy and kind of like a carnival ride, and the party was a baseball, play in the overgrown grass affair. I think my folks called the place “Tick City” but I remember none of us kids got ticks, and I know it was a totally fun afternoon, completely child friendly. Must have been good energy because the happy couple are still together, and some fancier shindigs resulted in all kinds of fractured families. Getting together is easy. Staying together is the work of a lifetime.

Getting married is jumping off a cliff into a great adventure. Parts of it will be wondrous and happy. Parts of it will break the hearts of all involved. Married folk get to know each other better than any body, and yet look at each other across a table sometimes and wonder who the hell that person is sitting there. Life has a way of sanding off the edges. Bend, or you will break. A person ends up doing a lot of things they said they would never do—good things and horrible things. It’s part of the ride. Cherish each other and spend a moment each day appreciating.

And then I went to another funeral, this for a man who clearly lived life fully then dropped instantaneously dead after never being sick in his life. It’s the stuff of legend. He never got the chance to become a burden on his family, just gone, stunningly, achingly gone. He luckily had lived a complet and loving life and left with no regrets, and one hell of a legacy. What amazed me was that this guy retired a few years ago and an army of his colleagues showed up. I was joking on the ride home that if I keeled over tomorrow, I doubt if the folks I work with NOW would take a day off to memorialize me, let alone the folks I worked with on my last gig. So I really thought about how I would want to be remembered. Definitely want to be crispy fried, name on a plaque in a children's library next to the OLD books....

The cycle of life is so completely visible to me. Its hard to get mundane at a time like this. But laundry must be done, AGAIN, and groceries must be procured. The most exciting thing in my life is a new refridgerator…..and that says volumes about where I am at right now.