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Thursday, December 31, 2009

That was some decade, huh?

What a rapid ten years it has been...Y2K turned out to be OK, and my fear of no money was vanquished by my fear of dying on the job. never heard of a blog in 2000, and now I are one (?). Palm Springs and Sedona and writing groups and neighbors who like my cooking, and, always, Barbara. Film festivals and film societies and Netflix and TCM, and, always, Barbara. Hiking and painting and essays and poetry chapbooks, and, always, Barbara. New friends and old friends and comrades and allies, and, always, Barbara. Macy's and Chico's and Nordstrom's and Saks, and, definitely, Barbara.

What shall we call the next ten years, the teenagers of this century? I hope it is not a repeat of past centuries, with war the dominant thought, with silliness and depression not far behind. Maybe it will be years of the personal. Money and riches and material things haven't worked out too well, so maybe a more intimate and inward approach beckons.

For me, and for my friends of similar ages, it has to be personal, as we learn about aging on a day-to-day basis. It isn't that we resist aging so much - after all, we all have those pesky mirrors in our homes - it's more those daily surprises, a new ache or pain, a new victory for gravity, a new reason to feed the kitty of hypochondria. One thing for sure...we have all lived longer than we have left, and Time Remaining deserves some thought and conversation. Should we be more spiritual? Is there Service to perform? Nothing wrong with happiness and fun, either.

There's a lot I don't know, but one thing I have learned to 100% certainty...friends and family are everything, and communication is even more than everything. When someone enters your mind, don't pause for even a minute, See them, call them, write them, and tell them how your life is better for them having been in it. No time to waste, not a second left to dawdle. Hop to it, it's the Touching Teens!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Live a Good Life

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. -Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and writer (121-180)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stopping By Palm Springs on a Sunny Day

This village mine, for ten years now
is making its most seasoned bow
to guests and locals, everyone,
its snowcapped peaks and sunshine wow.

We’ve grown accustomed to the sun,
we feel entitled, everyone.
The nights, while cool, still hold their cheer,
no holding back the year-end fun.

Our friends back east are very clear
about what matters, what is dear;
it’s family, and friends who please,
kept close at hand, in hearts, so near.

The snow is deep, and white, but please,
I have promised not e’er to freeze,
and rays to catch, snowbirds to tease,
and rays to catch, snowbirds to tease.

(yes, indeed, an homage to Robert Frost)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Invictus, The Road, A Single man, The Lovely Bones

Invictus - now wasn't that a fast 134 minutes...very enjoyable...could have easily become sappy and heavy handed, but it didn't...particularly liked how Damon and Freeman disappeared into their roles...Eastwood took a sport that 98% of the audience knows nothing about, educated us in terms of what we needed to know very quickly, then proceeded with a perfect metaphor for the human condition of South Africa, circa 1994

The Road - tough to watch, like Precious, but, unlike Kenneth Turan, I think the payoff was worth it, and it did a fine job of translating Cormac Mc Carthy's written work

A Single Man
- one of my top fims of the year, serious and thoughtful, yet also stylish, and Colin Firth & Julianna Moore are not to be believed, they are so good at their craft

The Lovely Bones - better than average, but a lesser light than the others coming out in awards season, though Stanley Tucci is so good he is unrecognizable

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Another one from Mike

How does love feel?
Are you able to see
Or touch or taste it?
Why do I know so much?

I know love and live with it
In my heart and deep somewhere
Else. I know love and look
For it in every soul I meet.

Love is part of humanness
And I know it well.
But why do I know it?
Is love insistent?

I think I know. Love
Is a question about who
We are. Who I want
To be and who you are.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Early December

It’s been a peaceful month
in the low desert,
where the locals are old,
the snowbirds are grateful,
and the poets are all in good form.
It’s been a month of happy returns
and thanksgiving,
of many old friends
and a new few.
We live mostly for today,
knowing the gods will laugh
at foolish plans beyond
breakfast or lunch.
Winter’s not yet here,
at least not on the Badgers
calendar I got for the 25th time,
my annual reminder of
how wise we were to move,
yet how much we miss
our childhood friends,
our youth,
now mostly x-ed out,
just a few more weeks to
the midnight dance at nine p.m..
Yes, winter’s not here, but
don’t tell my aching legs and
shoulders that at dawn.
That’s our breath we see
in front of us in the morning,
leading the way to the newspaper.
No complaints heard, however;
not so much that they aren’t made,
just not heard.
There’s much to be learned in this age,
at this age as well.
A little loss of sound can be a blessing,
a chance to return to the
remarkable self-absorption of youth.
This month is a time for connection,
reconnection as well,
visits, phone calls, letters, cards and
e-mails, in that very descending order
of intimacy, and it really is too bad,
what that e-mail thing has done to
letter writing, ancient and loving art.
Visits require some degree of readiness,
at least a clean bathroom, but
phone calls, especially the random ones,
can find you in your pajamas,
heck, even on the toilet.
Cards are okay, when one does not
have time for a letter, but
letters have more heart, give more time
to the writer to be reflective,
like a poet,
searching, reaching, looking
for just the right words.
A writer of letters gets to reflect,
to muse a bit about the addressee, to
remember precious moments, to dream of
better moments yet to come,
maybe even to plan some, and say so.
It is a peaceful activity, letter writing,
perfect for the cocoa and comforter
days of year’s end.
We’re older now,
no longer big consumers;
rather, giving stuff away,
the things that have piled up
in closets and storage units over time,
so Black Friday means nothing,
Cyber Monday even less.
We still go to the parties,
ooh and aah over trees and menorahs,
eat too much cheese,
drink just the right amount of wine.
We arrive late, leave early,
talk about the coming film festival
and wish each other well.
We’ll tiptoe through
these next few weeks, and
soon, the new year will come
and we’ll make it our peaceful own.
My sweetie, the cats and me.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Awards Season at the Movies

It's that time again - awards season at the local cinema, and, as usual, the Palm Springs International Film Society is ahead of the game. So far, we have screened many of the predicted contenders, including A Serious Man, Up In the Air, Precious, The Lovely Bones, A Single Man, and The Road. Still to come are Nine, It's Complicated and Invictus. Some fabulous individual and ensemble performances, many faithful presentations of literary works, and story lines which keep one talking, long after you've left the theater. Looking forward to the holiday films as well - Avatar, Sherlock Holmes, The Imaginarium og Doctor Parnassus, and The Young Victoria. The Palm Springs International Film Festival starts in earnest on January 8th, and there's no better event for filmgoers, where the most enjoyable conversations occur while standing in line.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Did you stop writing for the holidays?

A couple of my friends who don't like paging through blogs noticed that I "haven't been writing much" this month, and point to my last post being on November 9th. Well, the truth is that I have been writing and posting every day, but it has all been edited into the "November Chapbook" haiku per day, each with the word "peace" in the third line. A couple more days to go, then we start the re-drafting and sifting/winnowing phase, selecting 10-20 of the haiku's which best make up a chapbook. I think I'll use those which are the most traditional, and which reference the seasons in a progressive, summer-fall-winter-spring-summer kind of way. Of course, my friends who now read this "November Chapbook" post will think I have been taking it easy, writing only 17 syllables a day. To that, I recall the story of Oscar Wilde attending an evening soiree of some type and speaking of his long and tiring day. When asked what he was engaged in, he mentioned that he was a poet, leaving his listeners in doubt about whether or not he was having them on. I mean, just how exhausting could poetry be? He was asked just what he had done to tire him so, and he replied, "I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning and took out a comma, and this afternoon, I put it back again."

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Poem from Mike

My precious friend, Mike, is given to writing brilliant poems and sharing them with me, usually with the comment that they "are not very good". He's a very smart guy, my pal, but an idiot when it comes to evaluating his own poetry. As you'll see, his work is heartfelt, touching, and, often, a call to action. This past weekend was Pride weekend in Palm Springs, and Mike and his darling Carol are co-chairs of PFLAG in the area, so we march in the parade every year. This year was especially wonderful, because the high school kids from the Gay Straight Alliance joined us, and they are so energetic, effervescent, and hopeful about the future, and their joy is quite contagious. Anyhow, Mike was telling me about how the two of us are at the age when we are rightfully concentrating on completing our final years with style, compassion and grace. Somehow that moved him to consider the day at hand and he wrote the following:

I hear often the sad opinion
That God no longer talks to us
God is not in his dominion
And one must be autonomous

This is not true for me
God is often guiding my
Life and I often see
Clearly my destiny.

The inner voice has never been
Ambiguous but clear and direct
The way is obvious and open
I never hesitate or introspect.

Defy ignorance and literalism
Abhor bigotry and lazy learning
Celebrate the joy of life’s prism
And good always gaining.

God is always with me.
Directing my feelings and I
Know that he leads me
To where I need to be.

The odd thing is that God said
Do not believe in me but rather
In the goodness that could be
And the hope that beauty and truth

Will be the conquerors of existence.

Art Quote of the Day

At the Palm Springs Art Museum members reception last week, glass artist Lino Tagliapietra was asked by an audience member how long it took to create one of his intricate glass works.

Lino paused for a moment and replied, "About an hour, plus fifty years of experience."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Prisoner

One of my favorite televised series is The Prisoner, starring Patrick McGoohan, and dating to the late 1960's

AMC is scheduling an updated miniseries version, starting 11.15.2009...can't wait to see it.

November Chapbook

On the wonderful Poetic Asides board of, my fellow poets and I are writing a poem a day, in response to prompts. We will then edit our drafts, select our favorites and create a chapbook, just for fun (and for the ones judged the "best", a little momentary glory). My personal challenge this month is to write 30 Haiku's, all with "peace" in the third line.

1. Entering Something New

Summer’s final breath,
ravens scouting this year’s nests,
monks still pray for peace.

2. Looking At Something From a Different Angle

Autumn’s first breezes,
humans spy as we build homes,
wrens find peace mid-air.

3. Something Positive and/or Negative

Seeking awareness
before winter’s arrival.
Peace may still flow in.

4. Maybe...

Maybe Walking Is Sitting

As winter draws near,
perhaps we’ll tread consciously.
Peace is every step.

5. Growth


One needn’t look left,
and neither need one look right.
Peace is straight ahead.

6. Something/Someone Covered

Winter’s fire is banked,
air dancing above hard coals
At peace in my bed.

7. Plant


Sowing loans, not alms.
planting hope in the world,
one peace at a time.

8. Should (Tomorrow Come)

Preparing to die,
there’s no remedy for death.
Peace always awaits.

9. Slipping

Living On Planet Awesome

Turning towards others.
Living with an open heart.
Sliding into peace.

10. Love & Anti-Love

My Deepest Love

Soft blue, like the sky
in the first kiss of sunrise.
Peace, carried by doves.

My Deepest Hate

Nobody hates war
more so than the warrior.
Semper fi. Peace, out.

11. Construction

We Are What We Build

A flyer of kites
knows the currents and eddies.
The kite knows true peace.

12. If Only...

If Only Life Was Different

Spring is not summer.
Pickles can’t be cucumbers.
Peace is who one is.

13. Renewable


She sang of summer,
winter’s grip soon forgotten.
Peace always trumps fear.

14. Lines

Living in Balance

There is a fine line
between truth and illusion.
Peace lies on the edge

15. Hanging

Natural Selection

Turning toward others,
living with an open heart.
Peace hangs out with love.

16. Clouds

louds of December

Clouds of December,
painting paths and rooftops white.
Peace in the village.

17-A. Explosion


On life’s final day
comes an explosion of light.
Be at peace with it.

17-B. Implosion


Collapse of the self,
the blowdown of illusion.
Peace freed asunder.

18. Slow

Okauchee January

Frosted serenades
accent winter’s frozen sleeps.
Dawn’s peace comes slowly.

19. Attachment

Looking for Enlightenment

One need not suffer.
Pain is forever a choice.
Elders opt for peace.

20. And Then...

And Then He Came Out

Strutting, hands on hips,
May child in his mother’s dress.
Peace at rainbow’s end.

21. Invention

All of man’s seasons
bring natural inventions,
peace the best of them.

22. Emergency

Elders learn by fall
that summer’s crises soon end.
Peace will come with calm.

23. Noise

Living mindfully
in the holiday bedlam.
Peace is a challenge.

24. Everybody Says/Nobody Says

Everybody Says "Heaven", Nobody Says "Let Me Die"

No dark without light.
No seasons without changes.
No hope without peace.

25. Temperature

Cold Is Not Separate From Heat

Life is as it is.
No need to create anew.
Peace is snow and sun.

26. Thankful

Days of thanksgiving
abound with friendship and joy.
There is bliss in peace.

27. Shape

Be Here Now

Unconcsious living,
in another shape or time.
Peace eludes one’s grasp.

28. Through This...

Through This Life

There’s but one question,
summer, winter, spring and fall.
Will one work for peace?

29. A Number

One is not separate
from the earth at any time.
With peace, all are one.

30. Something That Will Stick With You

At all times, choose life.
Choose friends and love and sharing.
Most of all, choose peace.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Open Mike

He has a wonder filled heart
and finds hope in the oddest places,
in the smile of a toothless bum.
the wagging tale of a mangy mutt.
He never met a vegetable he didn’t like,
especially the purple ones,
and wines, tried them all,
zins, cabs, even innocent merlots.
A hospice volunteer,
he has no fear of death,
heard too many reports of
waiting friends, tunnels of light.
He’s made music a challenge,
no genre a mistake.
Opera, jazz, blues all have
their place, their perfect right
to serve as background, foreground too,
in Mike’s discovery of life this turn,
his unbound search for new
and different joys.
No man alive loves animals
more than he, naming most
birds in flight, laughing at
dogs at play and kittens with their toys.
He donated blood to see how it felt,
then threw away the donut to taste hunger,
went home and baked bread for the smell,
and ended his day with canvas and brush.
He reads fact and fiction,
has friends gay and straight,
transgender as well.
He sometimes looks tired,
but that’s just how he’s seen
by our eyes, not his.
Too much is still not enough
in his full, artful life.
Overextended? Who says?

Where are your new poems?

So, my friends are wondering if I'm ill or bored or if I have been taken for ransom, since the wordslide has become a slow trickle. The truth is that I am working on producing two chapbooks of my earlier work, one on the lighter side, the other a bit more dark. It is a creatively draining process, this chapbook creation, and has not left much for new works. I remember reading about Oscar Wilde attending an evening soiree and telling another guest of his exhausting day. She could not believe that poetry could tire one so much, and asked exactly what he did. His reply: "In the morning I removed a comma, and in the afternoon, I put it back."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Getting Off One's Ass

One poem for one in angst
One dollar at one store
One can to one food bank
One card to one sick child
One call to one official
One book to one small town
One well for one sick village
One brick for one new dike
One shot for one new life
One step is all one needs
One Kiva for one world
One peace at a time

Monday, August 24, 2009

Art Quote of the Week

If you told me to write a love song tonight, I'd have a lot of trouble. But if you tell me to write a love song about a girl with a red dress who goes into a bar and is on her fifth martini and is falling off her chair, that's a lot easier, and it makes me free to say anything I want. (Stephen Sondheim)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Monk in the Marketplace

Sitting quietly, watching
the hummingbird highway
in our backyard sky,
speed freak avians
zipping and diving,
narrowly avoiding collision,
not so much rivals,
more contestants in the
labor to survive.

They feed or die, those
tiny-hearted birds,
twenty beats per second.
Mandevilla bloom
becomes their arena,
long beaks dueling for
one flower, until they
spy our four-hole feeder,
competitors no more.

Sitting quietly, watching
the laptop screen
on our backyard table,
variable speed poets
warping and weaving,
neatly creating their art.
Not so much competitors,
more partners in the
need to express.

They write or fade, those
big-hearted bards, one hundred
April images per hour.
Poetic Asides
becomes their stage,
longing for what’s due
their flowing thoughts, yet
loving each other’s works,
competitors no more.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Writing about feelings

One of the most helpful guides to writing poetry I have found is Ted Kooser's "The Poetry Home repair Manual". He offers many useful insights, and since most of my own poetry is from my personal experience of life, his comments on writing about feelings are particularly valuable to me:

"Poetry would be a lost art if there were laws against writing about feelings, and the Poetry Cops would be very busy pounding on poets with night sticks... (still), to write a poem that is not just a gush of sentiment but something that will engender in its readers deep, resonant feelings, you need to exercise restraint to avoid what is commonly termed sentimentality...(however) the the absence of emotion is not what readers go to books of poetry for. we want some human heat. Each of us who writes must find a balance between restraint and expressions of feeling...One of the hardest things to learn is how poems can express strong feelings without expressly stating those feelings...Some poets have gotten the idea that they can say things about their feelings in poems that most of us wouldn't feel right about saying at the dinner table, as if writing a poem gives you permission to talk about things you wouldn't talk about in public. But we need to keep in mind that writing a poem is public, too. Your reader is right there on the other side of the table, politely and patiently listening to you. How long do you dare go on about the misery your hemorrhoids are causing you?...Self indulgent poetry almost always disappears in time, a victim of its own failure to engage the needs and interests of others. It takes a grateful audience to keep a poem alive. Expression of feeling ought to be measured against the reader's tolerance for such expression."

(500) Days of Summer

Let me start by saying that I have no idea why the creative forces punctuated the title in the manner they did. In fact, in a charming, heartfelt, and sometimes wacky summer movie, a number of days appear on the screen, but never "500". This is a fun, romantic comedy with a serious side. First-time feature film director Marc Webb uses his music video background to great advantage, particularly with small, hard-to-detect symbolism, in his choice of music, background, and even the books that people carry or read or talk about. There were a few things I could have done without - the wise-beyond-her-years little sister, the excessive use of karaoke as filler, and the narrator telling us things we should be able to see for ourselves. Beyond that, this is a delightful way to escape the summer heat. Zooey Deschanel is the big name, and she plays her role as the pleasure-seeking, honest and self-reliant Summer in the same way she plays every role, understatedly and consistently. The film unreels, however, from the point of view of romantic lightweight Tom, played nicely by Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("3rd Rock from the Sun", "Brick"). He is believably sad, less comedic than the writers might have liked, but, overall likeable. The film is achronologically presented, the story of the 500 days of their relationship, with Summer being up front about being in the now, and Tom wanting her to be "The One". In truth, he wants her to save him from his mediocre present, and she does, though not in the way he would hope. There is a fabulous use of split screen about three-quarters of the way through the film, a few startling but well done homages, and the final line must have been questioned for a long time by the creative team, but it works. Go see this film, before it is swallowed up by the noisy giganta-flicks of August, or the Oscar seekers of September.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Quote of the day

"Damn, and just when I was starting to get it!"

(Edgar Degas, on his deathbed)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

just for fun

My Medicare Card Came Today

The mail has been lighter,
junk mail withdrawal.
It’s the economy, some say,
Wall Street schemes caused
it all. Most of my business
I do on the ‘Net,
no stash of stamps,
no envelopes, yet,
there are some things
requiring a physical touch, a few
magazines, but really not much.

One item required physical form,
no e-mail, fax, or twitter would do.
My Medicare card came in the mail
today, a benefit surely, a loud
comment too. I’m not really old,
still I’m well past my youth,
more than half-lived, no denying
that truth. I still find my do-list
gets longer each day, and this card
in the mail says there’s less time to play.

No use in denial, too many
mirrors in my home. We
think friends look older,
they’re the same age as me.
I laugh when I think of
how young we could be
if we didn’t have tokens
of aging like this, this benefit pass,
half-misery, half-bliss.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Day I Died

I died that day long ago,
very far from home.
I lived that day as well,
seemingly unready for
what’s next. My mother’s
light came to tell
me to return, my time yet
incomplete, my tasks
not filled in full.
This life’s final pace
was not for me, hovering
then, above my mortal shell,
though self would have it so,
this turn required more.

I died that day long ago,
thought I was going home,
not sad, no fear, no swell
of clinging to
what’s here. From tunnel
bright a chiming bell,
calling my reunion to
the work undone.
Time enough remained
for service and, yes,
pain as well, for lessons
still to master, before
this life’s final peace
brings an end to war.

The Carnival Came To Town

It was sixty years ago
in our small Wisconsin
town, a drinking village
with a fishing problem.
For every need,
just one store, plus
five churches, one diner,
thirty-two taverns, no less,
no more.

Idyllically between wars,
our fathers back from
overseas, our mothers in
the home once more.
Rationing over, yet
victory gardens still in
vogue, but Swanson’s
frozen dinners had
their place for sure.

We had comics, radio too,
Der Bingle songs
from Sammy Cahn and
pin-up girls galore.
Slinky’s, Silly Putty, and
cowboy stories filled our
days, a fat-tire Schwinn
our greatest treasure,
save sun and shore.

Then came the day the
carnival came to town.
We’d know it for weeks,
the posters and such, with
clowns, a Ferris Wheel
and games all around.
We’d practiced with ring-pegs,
darts thrown at balloons,
and bean bags tossed at
boards on the ground.

There were wrestlers, most
famously old Gypsy Joe,
and those were no ladies
tugging tops down.
There were goldfish
in small bowls, a ball toss
to win, midst the noise
of the barkers, the joy
of the clowns.

But the thing I
held on to most fondly,
recalling even now,
were the smells, the
exotic perfumes of the
popcorn, the corn dogs
and, wow, the cotton candy
they spun out of nothing
but air.

It was the best of
a life filled with smiles
more than frowns.
I have dreamed of it
since, but especially now.
In a life too complex
it’s a joy to recall the
day that the carnival came to town.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Don't Just Sit There

One is prompted to consider the putting out of fires, real or metaphorical, and one responds obliquely

The world is aflame
with malefic direction,
alarmingly aimed at

Hotly armed people,
unafraid of detection,
freely pursuing
their end.

Sitting quietly
in cool observation
seems scarcely

Yet sear on burn
with hope to extinguish
has forever

Lighting one candle
with pacific intention
feels hardly

Still, the sum of the lights,
the best protection
for our dreams and our future,

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Amazing Young Artist

We first met Alina Eydel when she was not yet a teenager, and bought two of her works at the La Quinta Art Festival. She is a young woman now, and continues to grow her concept:

Film Noir Lines

I love film of all types, but film noir lends itself to some of the greatest dialogue's a site with some samples:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Nobody's Worth That Kind of Money

Stockbrokers don’t drive no stock
Chairmen don’t build no chairs
TV hosts don’t serve no snacks
News anchors don’t sail no ships
Weathermen don’t build no vanes
Athletes don’t play with kids
Movie stars don’t shine real light
Teachers really teach
Nurses really nurse
Waiters really wait
Poets really write
Garbage men really toss the trash
Postmen really deliver
Pedicabbers really pull their weight
Messengers really get the word out
And Moms, well moms really save the future

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Found Money

What would one do if a million dollars was suddenly theirs, tax-free?

Found some change,
In the usual way,
under the cushions,
on housecleaning day.

Received a dollar
in the daily mail,
please fill in the query
about this thing that they sell.

Got five bucks more
from my Milwaukee sis,
with blessings for frolics,
no problems with this.

Won ten at lunchtime
at cribbage I’m hot,
no place to spend it,
so into the pot.

A friend gave me twenty,
he paid back a loan,
I don’t really need it,
now what have I done.

One hundred was entered
in my bank account,
a reversal of charges,
of just that amount.

Now, if a thousand
should slyly appear,
I’d likely be happy,
I might even cheer.

But, man, with a million,
(no taxes at that),
I’d shake like my Chevy,
right after a flat.

My life is too good
to be spoiled by money,
with wife, friends and cats,
I’ve no need, but my honey

might say something different,
might jump at the luck.
She’d know how to use it,
with aplomb and with pluck.

Our families would profit
And friends would all learn
how generous she is
with fortune unearned.

Her charities likely
would gain what they need,
especially stray kitties,
oh my how they’d feed.

Our housing is perfect,
no reason to change,
location, location
must not rearrange.

But Macy’s and Nordstrom’s
And Chico’s, for sure,
would garner new sales
they have such allure.

Yet after the rush
of a bounty so vast,
we’d come to reality,
hopefully fast.

There just isn’t much
we don’t already have,
nothing to wish for,
nothing to crave.

So let that big bonus
find a home with another
and leave us in peace,
in love with each other.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Forest Is An Acorn

Would you have hope, offer one penny.
Would you have dreams, proffer one cheer.
Would you have health, eat one small apple.
Would you have success, work for one hour.
Would you have fun, unschedule one day.
Would you have humor, smile at one joke.
Would you have beauty, open one eye.
Would you have music, make one simple sound.
Would you have faith, accept one unknown.
Would you have agreement, let one bias fall.
Would you have quiet, sit still for one minute.
Would you have love, hold on to one hand.
Would you have peace, just love one another.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

When is a poem complete (one poet's view)

When do you know a poem is finished?

After I've sat with it a week or two and shown it to one of my trusty couple of readers and gotten his or her feedback, that's when I know it's ready to send out. Finished is another story. I'm more of a poem abandoner than a finisher. I never feel like my poems are finished.

- Frank Giampietro

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Favorite Places to Eat

Home, of course, is ever the best place to eat, and our special clubhouse at 7 Lakes Country Club is always a social dining treat, but when we roam, the choices are many and varied. In Palm Springs, there' Cheeky's for lunch and breakfast, and Maxcy's is a great cheap eat, as is Panera Bread. Ruby's is fun for shakes and malts, and they have am especially tasty Hawaiian Turkey Burger. A little higher on the food chain are Dinks, Matchbox, and Tyler's, who have the best burgers west of the Mississippi. For sushi, it's Ichiban, and for fancy-dancy, there's Le Vallauris , Purple Palm and Copley's. For dining with entertainment, Blame It On Midnight is fabulous, and close to the theaters during our big film festival. Down valley, in Palm Desert and eastward we like Tommy Bahama's, Castelli's, P.F. Chang, Pacifica Seafood, and Roy's. In Redondo Beach, we always try to get to Chez Melange, and, in Rancho Bernardo, there's a great Greek joint, The Athens Market. Milwaukee is filled with great restaurants, but Mama Mia's and Pepino's have the best pizza, and Jake's has those fabulous onion rings. Fish fry on Friday's is a special treat, and driving out to The Golden Mast in Okauchee is worth the effort. We are engaged in an ongoing "Roy's World Tour", eating in every Roy's we find, but they keep opening new sites, so we'll have to keep on trucking. We've been to La Jolla, San Francisco, Newport, Rancho Mirage, Scottsdale and more, including Poipu, Kauai for Valentine's Day, and the original in Hawaii Kai many times. In fact, we had lunch at Roy's Ko Olina one day, and dinner at Hawaii Kai...even the hostess at Ko Olina was laughing at that one, since we had her make the reservation for us. Next week, we'll try the new Roy's in the Waikiki Embassy Suites Hotel. That'll be after breakfast at Cheeseburgers In Paradise. On Oahu, we like the small noodle shops, and we just have to get shave ice from Matsumoto's.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Don't You Think

Don’t just
sit and stare
at a wall,
your opinions.

Don’t just
sit quietly,
thinking not at all,
your rigidity.

Don’t just
sit alone, hearing
the bells’ call,
your tension.

Don’t just
sit and be,
ideas growing small,
your judgements.

Don’t just
sit without
ego’s final crawl,
your potential.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Harbingers Refreshed

A “Nonet” is a nine-line poem, with the first line containing nine syllables, the second eight, and so on, down to one in the ninth line. They can be about any subject, and rhyming is optional.

Early bulbs are harbingers of spring.
Robins roost and baby owls yell.
Easter bonnets, jelly beans,
green asparagus shoots,
Mardi Gras as well.
Can’t tennis balls
and short shorts

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Desert Spring

Long, dark Ohio nights
give way to sunlit days.
Frosty Dakota evenings pass,
now sweater-wearing time.
Flowers bloom in Georgia
within the lowland haze.
New England churches painted
from door to bell tower climb.

Snowmelt nearly finished
as rivers fast and wide
release the fearful pressure,
small northern towns rejoice.
Greenhouse shoots join
planted seeds outside,
while Midwest farmers pray
with fervent, married voice.

The cities of the east
are primed for what will be
within the next few months
as the awakening unfolds.
Visitors arriving on
their pilgrimage to see
long desired objects,
tales wait to be told.

The northwest has a too-fleet
calling from the heat,
and even that is tempered by
summer winds and rain.,
but most are glad to be
without the snow and sleet
of winter, and welcome back the
season’s expats, yet again.

In the southwest the spring is
viewed more with a touch of worry,
as the Snowbirds leave the deserts,
some east or northwest bound.
Winter’s days of sun and warmth
yield a different story
than in the nation’s other reaches,
where summer does not wound.

Desert falls and winters,
and most clearly, spring,
are the reasons people
visit, and why many choose to stay.
but those remaining after March
know this one true thing,
that for this beauty, summer’s
heat is our yearly price to pay.

It’s not the small reminders,
with the early heat of May.
With nights still cool, it
still allows a dance or two, a song.
It’s that we know
spring’s rapid days
too soon are summer’s.
My god, they get so long.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Two Fibonacci Poems

Two Fibonacci poems, wherein the total syllables in a line must equal the total in the previous two lines.

the city
where I live,
it’s best to not drive
on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday,
or any other day, if you want to stay alive.


the town
where I live,
it’s best to take flight
in the morning, or late at night,
for the middle of the day can be a tangled sight.

My War

Also a sestina, but not a perfect one, formulaically.

My War

It was during my war,
where I last saw her,
standing in light,
a tunnel so bright,
there were others as well,
just who I could not tell.

Who could I tell
this tale of my war,
shining a light
on conditions so bright.
Who’d believe I saw her,
and heard her as well?

There was never much light
in the Vietnam war,
reporters were bright,
but they could not tell
of the pain I absorbed, well
after I saw her.

Day and night were both bright,
the bombs casting their light,
in the hell that was war,
madness yes, but love as well,
for seeing my mother, her
face I could tell

radiated the light,
the truth of her
words burning bright
as best I could tell,
in the midst of my war
sending me back to be well.

These words I can tell,
long after my war,
it was my mother, long dead, her
message of light,
from the tunnel so bright,
to live my life well.

In war I last saw her
in light, shining bright,
so I might as well tell.

Me and My Knee

A sestina is a poem of six 6-line stanzas, the lines ending in the same six words, but never in the same order, followed by three lines which include the first two words, then the next two, then the final two. It is a difficult form, maybe more of a math problem than a poem, and there need not be rhyme, iambic pentameter, or any other such familiar phrasing. I wrote this one just before a knee arthroscopy.

Me and My Knee

It is far too soon for this night,
the one before the surgery
to mend my damaged knee.
It is nothing, really, to fear,
at least say my friends and doctor
alike, though friends have no need of his skill.

Rather than good luck, I’d prefer good skill
as their best wish on this too-soon night,
and also good night, sleep tight to my doctor,
who’s traits magical must become surgical
in early morning’s light. In truth, I fear
the thirst and hunger of the fast more than the swollen knee.

I’ve live so long with this wounded knee,
still mine because of a corpsman’s skill,
decades ago, amidst battlefield fears,
in a screaming black night,
swept by chopper to surgery,
surrounded by fatigued nurses and doctors.

Over forty years, so many doctors,
all amazed at the state of my knee,
few believing that field surgery
could be performed with such skill,
while rockets rained down in the din of night,
all of the medics containing their fear.

It’s tangible and real, the matter of fear,
mastered by the wills of both patient and doctor.
No point in allowing the sounds of the night
to betray the focus on arms, feet and knee.
What mattered was using all available skill
in dim-lit, earth-trembling surgery.

I knew it was only a first step, this surgery.
There’d be plenty of rehab and pain yet to fear.
I had to rely on the nerve and the skill
of the nurses and corpsmen and doctors
now near, as they thought perhaps I’d lose the knee
as I drifted at last into sleep’s unseen night.

I awoke with both legs after that night of surgery.
Feeling both knees took most of the fear.
Tomorrow, another doctor’s skill will take the rest of it.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Another "longing" poem

That dream again,
the one where
you’re away,
just not there.
First an airport
I’ve never seen,
then a house
we’ve never been.
The phone won’t
work. Oh, now yes,
but your number?
I guess.
Wrong again
and now my legs
molasses bound,
my heart begs
for mercy from
this endless chase,
you’re never found,
not one small trace.
You’d likely think,
after forty years,
the dream would end,
but still it appears


I'm doing a poem-a-day challenge for all of April, on Writers Digest dot com. I'm also having knee surgery this week. Today's prompt is "longing". How appropriate.


I get cut on this week,
On Day 29.
The Badge of Completion
will it still be mine?
Yes, I yearn for the day
I can hike trails again,
but the poems, oh the poems,
will I sing the refrain?
The surgeon is scheduled,
the room is all set
I really can’t change it,
I know this, and yet…

Eli and Ely and Me

My neighbor's grandson and I are writing a story together, at his direction. It is further down the blog. He just told me I was spelling his name wrong.

Eli and Ely and Me

Eli can read now,
says his name is wrong,
he’s an Elijah.
He’s become seven,
becoming who he’ll be.
Should I argue he is Eli,
Ely the Eel just a fiction?
Should he rule, or
ought I let him lose?
Can we find perfection?
Not that this is really
about communication.
This is Eli becoming Eli.
This is me loving Eli.
This is me loving Ely.
This is me becoming me,

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Clean Sheets Day

with acknowlegement to Dharma & Greg

Hurray, hurray, it’s Clean Sheets Day.
No time to read, no time to play.
Tasks abound, they always do,
grocery shopping, ironing too.
I promised, after all those miles,
to be of service, wearing smiles.
I cook the meals, sometimes well.
I love it when they cast a spell
of happiness, unfettered glee,
it really means so much to me
to see the pleasure it gives you,
it’s truly selfish, what I do.
The cleaning is, at best, not bad,
we need those visits from the maid.
I hope it agrees with my honey,
I need help, the maid needs money.
The dishes are an easy chore,
it cleans my fingernails, what’s more.
But nothing seems so much like play
as Thursday, known as Clean Sheets Day.
Towels, undies, pants, a shirt
are ridden of their nasty dirt.
I always save the sheets for last,
so they’re the final item cast
upon the bed before we sleep,
their clean fresh fragrance ours to keep
in memory as we drift off,
our daily aches so soon to doff,
remembering at last to pray
we’ll make it to next Clean Sheets Day.

What A Wonderful Day It Has Been III

What a wonderful day it has been.
I sat with Peter, Jayne’s husband,
lunching with Kate, Jayne’s friend,
and Aaron and his Richard, Jayne’s son
and son-in-law.
Jayne was somewhere, painting.
My Barbara, too.
An accidental meeting between us,
way, way, way high up
in a small Tuscan village.
The food looked fabulous.
I wasn’t hungry, so I passed.
I wasn’t thirsty, either,
but I drank their wine.
We talked,
then we walked,
and talked some more,
about nothing, mostly.
Not even about Jayne.
Or Barbara.
We rode down
to our hotel town
in a bright red funicular
and never once thought to
sing Volare.
What a wonderful day it has been.

Sadaam’s Statue Falls, 4.9.03

Sadaam’s Statue Falls, 4.9.03

Three weeks ago,
I felt an odd guilt
about invading Iraq.

Today, I am grateful,
that scores of humans,
for at least a few hours,
would not be torn apart by
screaming metal,
searing fire.

Today, I am sad,
sad for the loved ones
in San Diego,
in Karbala,
in Twenty-Nine Palms,
in Des Moines,
in Al Kut.
I am sad
for the children of Basrah,
released from five years’ captivity,
only to rejoin a world of
looting and vengeance.
I am sad for
the well-meaning anti-war souls
whose legitimacy can be somehow
toppled like a statue.
I am sad
for the young warrior
who will be the last to die in Iraq.
What will be his name?
What will be her legacy?

Today, I am worried.
I am worried this pyrrhic victory
will inspire more preemptive strikes,
when what are needed are
preemptive education and
preemptive medicine and
preemptive food.

Three weeks ago
I feared that,
for one modern-day,
Arabic-speaking FDR,
the first dropped bomb
marked our own day of infamy.

Today, I am reminded
again, yet again,
how no one
hates war more
than the warrior

Today, I am aware,
once more, yet once more,
that wars are fought
by our children,
and by theirs.

Today, I know
that thousands will die,
more will be crippled,
and then, yes then,
there will be
another war.

Today, I am alone,
trying to not think of it,
any of it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

News of the Wierd

Pregnant woman hit by car while running from bear:

Ashley Swendsen had a really bad day. The pregnant woman, 26, was chased by a bear and then struck by a car as she fled across a road. The driver checked on Swendsen and then left the scene before Colorado Springs Police officers arrived.Swendsen, who is five months pregnant, did not suffer serious injuries, but was taken to Memorial Hospital as a precaution, police said. She was treated and released. Thebear was not so lucky Colorado Division of Wildlife officials tranquilized and captured a female, 230-pound black bear in the area.After Swendsen identified her as the attacker - noting its cinnamon colour - the bear was destroyed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Natalie Calls II

I have a longish essay about regrets and about not taking the time to be friends with those we should, titled Natalie Calls. This is the shortened, poetic version.

Natalie Calls II

Natalie awoke,
like every day,
then her breath caught
she passed away.

Her heart was fine
the doctors said,
but they were wrong
and she was dead.

We were pals,
neighbors then,
we hadn’t earned
the title friend.

Too busy we,
all of us,
and just like that
we’d missed the bus.

I was sad,
truly irate.
We didn’t take time,
now its too late.

I’ll never let
this be again.
I’ll never wait
to call a friend,

or visit family,
e-mail a mate,
there isn’t time,
no one should wait.

We don’t have later
for what we’d say.
We just have now,
only today.

My Favorite Films of 2008

In general, I did not find it to be a great year for film. Maybe I'm getting a little jaded, seeing so many feature length and short films each year as a screener for the Palm Springs International Film Festival and ShortFest, many of them mediocre or worse. Perhaps the DVD world of Netflix has made us all too limited in patience. My friend, Ed, says that he would never walk out of a movie he had paid to see, back in the day. But now, it's all too easy to hit "eject" and slide in another. We'll have to see how 2009 goes, but, for now, here are the films I most appreciated in 2008:

In Bruges
Gran Torino
Everlasting Moments
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Iron Man
Rachel Getting Married
The Reader
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
The Band's Visit
Man On Wire
Frozen River

Netflix remains a great source of little gems. I especially enjoy small films, and one I recommend often is Elsa and Fred...check it out.

Harmony II


You’re so lucky,
I said.
she asked.

You have had me
to love.
She laughed.

No, really,
I am so in need of love
You have loved so well.

I tried,
She said.
Oh, way more than try.
You did so well.

And now?
Who will you love?
she said, at last.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Some of My Faves

a great site...check it out





and, of course...

My Favorite Films

The African Queen
America, America
American Graffiti
Annie Hall
Apocalypse Now
Au Revoir Les Enfants
Being There
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Bicycle Thief
Bonnie and Clyde
The Boys in Company C
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Central Station
Citizen Kane
City Lights
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Dark Passage
Dances With Wolves
Day For Night
Dersu Uzala
Dr. Strangelove
Doctor Zhivago
Duck Soup
Easy Rider
E.T. The Extraterrestial
Farewell My Concubine
The General
The Godfather, Parts I & II
Gone With the Wind
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gosford Park
The Graduate
The Grapes of Wrath
How the West Was Won
It’s A Wonderful Life
It Happened One Night
La Dolce Vita
Lawrence of Arabia
Letters From Iwo Jima
The Lion In Winter
The Lives of Others
The Maltese Falcon
A Man for All Seasons
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Midnight Cowboy
Miracle On 34th Street
Modern Times
Murder, My Sweet
The Music Man
Mutiny On the Bounty
A Night At the Opera
No Country For Old Men
North By Northwest
Once Upon A Time in the West
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
On the Waterfront
The Ox-Bow Incident
Pulp Fiction
Raging Bull
Raise the Red Lantern
Rear Window
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Rosemary’s Baby
Schindler’s List
The Seven Samurai
Singin’ In the Rain
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Some Like It Hot
The Sound of Music
Star Wars
Strangers On a train
Sullivan’s Travels
Sunset Boulevard
Taxi Driver
The Thin Man
The Third Man
A Thousand Clowns
2001: A Space Odyssey
Tom Jones
West Side Story
The Wild Bunch
Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Winchester 73
The Wizard of Oz
Zorba the Greek


A Missing Touch

What ever happened
to touching?
A grandmother's caress,
patting a fuzzy cheek,
a wayword curl;
young (and old) lovers,
hand in hand;
airport hugs;
all so very public,
all so very sincere.

Well, 9/11 happened,
and AIDS happened, and
sexual harassment
happened, and any number
of repressive
ideas happened.

So, let's fight back,
resist the fear,
reject the nonsense,
get off that computer,
be back in love,
hug our neighbors,
kiss our spouse,
wrestle with children,
shake with both hands.

This touching thing,
too good to miss.

Shared Quarters

Shared Quarters

I awoke
to see
an NVA
or was it
really a VC?

He was
seven feet away
or was it
only three?

He was
badly hurt,
wrapped and tied,
or was he
actually free?

He was
a prisoner,
or was it
truly me?

He was
dying now,
or trying to get free?

I awoke
to see
my enemy,
and he
was simply me.

Supposedly Anti-Love

Time and Tide

So we start with love
and add some strife
the real kind, you know,
the facts of life.

True Love exists,
it really thrives,
but speed bumps enter
all our lives.

Add a baby,
sleepless nights,
spats at first,
then the fights.

Trouble at work,
some unpaid bills,
a broken car,
the usual ills.

Daily chores
win the bout,
lovely meals
become take-out.

Hair gets thin
and no one’s slimmer,
sex becomes
a distant glimmer.

But we survive
we really do,
there’s something better,
something new.

True Love seems
like simple lust
when we develop
faith and trust.

Experience and
time can teach
that happiness
is in our reach.

Forget True Love,
let it rest
seek Anti-Love,
it’s for the best.

Anti-Love survives
the rages,
and sees us through
our golden ages.

True Love gives
a mighty start,
but Anti-Love
has all the heart.



The trick
in writing is
to not write
the parts
folks don’t read.

The trick
of painting is
knowing where
not to
put the brush.

The trick
of life is
in our
gots and nots.

What A Wonderful Day It Has been II

It’s been a long
winter season, yet
what a wonderful day it has been.
the Palm Desert snowbirds
came for dinner.
and some desert rats, too.
Ellie, the perfect hostess
makes an even better guest.
Barbara brought her John.
He’s nice - charming, really.
She says she’s an old broad,
but a young widow.
We ate a lot of Greek
and drank a lot of everything.
Doug asked Bonnie
if she could still feel her nose.
She said yes.
Well, then, have another drink.
Jim said good-night.
Three times.
The ladies weren’t ready,
so he sat and didn’t watch TV.
Spring is here.
What a wonderful day it has been.

What A Wonderful Day It Has Been

What a wonderful day it has been.
After a long, long, long flight,
filled, filled, filled with Tahiti-bound Parisians,
we awoke in our own bed,
clean sheets and familiar pillows,
Roxie and Brutus purring
between our legs.
We heard the little golf course mowers,
softer than Italian Vespa’s.
We drank Starbucks coffee
and ate Cheerios with soy milk,
hard bread and Nescafe a fading memory.
No tour bus,
no tourists,
no special scenic side trips.
Traveling is nice.
Being home is nicer.
What a wonderful day it has been.

Small Annoyances

Small Annoyances

must think that
are hazardous

In themselves,
Are never annoying.
Cats don’t care.

The question,
Are the answer.

How To...

How to Lose Weight

How to lose weight:

How to feel better:

How to choose peace:

How to find happiness:

I'd Rather...

I’d Rather

I’d rather
be kind
than be right

I’d rather
seek peace
than hate war

I’d rather
than begrudge

I’d rather
than require

I’d rather
find good
than fight evil

I’d rather
than need loving

I’d rather
be me
than another

4,000+ Deaths Ago

April 9, 2003

Three weeks ago, I felt guilt about invading Iraq.

Today, I felt grateful that, at least for a few hours, scores of humans would not be torn apart by screaming metal and searing fire.

Today, also, I am sad. I am sad for the loved ones in San Diego and Karbala, in Twenty-Nine Palms and Tikrit, in Des Moines and Al Kut. I am sad for the children of Basrah, released from five years’ captivity, only to rejoin a world of looting and vengeance. I am sad for the well-meaning anti-war souls whose legitimacy can be somehow toppled like a statue. I am sad for the young warrior who will be the last to die in Iraq.

Today, to, I am worried. I am worried that apparent “victory” will reinforce the doctrine of preemptive strike, when what are needed are preemptive education and preemptive medicine and preemptive food.

Three weeks ago I feared that, for one modern-day, Arabic-speaking FDR, the first dropped bomb perhaps marked our own day of infamy.

Today, I am trying not to think of it – any of it.

User manual for Being Human

User Manual for Being Human

The best things in life aren’t things

Never pass on an opportunity to keep your mouth closed

If you can’t spot the sucker at a poker table, you’re probably it

If everyone agrees with you, it’s likely that you’re wrong

It’s better to build your own library than to be given one

You don’t ask, you don’t get

If you see a gun in a movie, it’s going to get used

Be prepared to lose once in awhile

If you have to borrow something more than twice, you need one of your own

Always give a serious answer when a child asks “why?”

Forgive your enemies. You’ll feel good and it annoys them

Try not to confuse vested interests with moral truisms

Choose being wrong over being ridiculous

If you want to be interesting, be interested

Share the credit

Do something every day that you don’t want to do

Bring something to a bar besides your elbows

If there’s no wind, paddle

Don’t mistake caffeine for enthusiasm

Never watch the eleven o’clock news

Kindness is everything. Say thank-you

What I Want

What Do I Want?

What do I want?
I want a total lack
of discretion.
I want you to be free
of all inhibitions.
I want you alive,
unattached to attachments.
When I cook, I want you to
make chewing noises
and full-mouth mumbles of appreciation.
When I launder, I want you to shout,
“Hooray, hooray, it’s clean sheets day!”
When we kiss and hug,
I want you to laugh.
I want you to know that
I love you, always.
Oh, and I want you to clean the kitty litter, too.

To-Do List 11.27.05

To-Do List, 11.27.05

Shop for dinner

Make soup

Visit Michael

Call about our will

Develop audacious personality

Moisturize feet

Time Apart

Time Apart

He said, I told your
kitties you don’t
love them anymore.

They know better,
I said.

I told them we
were only
leaving for half an hour.

Good thing they’re
not dogs.

I Like A House With Books

I Like A House With Books

I like a house
with books,
and magazines and newspapers
as well,
not too neatly piled,

I enjoy a home
with smells,
real ones
from cooking and cleaning
and such,
no vanilla need apply.

I crave a life
with peace,
yet welcome are
the bumps
and fever
of sincere living.

I cherish friends
who last,
the ones who
who we
really are.

Dear Mike


She has a
wonder filled heart
and it finds hope
in the oddest places.

You are like her.
So Am I.
No wonder
we like her.

I wish I’d said that,
he said.
You did,
I said.

I see,
he said.
I’m sure I haven’t,
but it’s nice of you
to say.

He said,
I wonder what
you'll say
I said,



I love it
when we kiss
our noses bump,
and we laugh.



You’re so lucky,
I said.
she asked.

You have me
to love.
She laughed.

No, really,
I am so in need of love
You love so well.

I try,
She said.
Oh, way more than try.
You do so well.

A Call To Action

Natalie Calls

Natalie woke just as she had every day. She sat up and smiled at Alex, her friend and
husband of 25 years. Then her breath caught in her throat and she died.

Natalie’s son was to graduate from Duke in a few months, and she had so wanted to
attend the ceremony. She knew she had a heart valve in need of repair, but feared post-surgical recuperation would prevent a trip from Marin County, California to North Carolina. Besides, her doctors felt it wasn’t an emergency. It was.

This is not a story about maladroit medical professionals, however, even though it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that the doctors should have advised Natalie to schedule herself earlier. But, she was still in her 40’s. There was no reason for her – or us – to fear or suspect sudden death. She had plenty of time. That we were all wrong is the real lesson to be learned.

A few weeks shy of AARP qualification, Natalie always seemed to be smiling. Unusual for a real estate agent in a cutthroat market, she was loved by her colleagues. At her funeral services, many mourners stood outside in the late December rain, for lack of room in the pews.

Natalie and Alex had purchased an identical, adjoining house, 18 months before she died. My wife and I had lived in ours for 7 years, and the renovations were long completed. Barbara worked as a real estate appraiser, and the two of them hit it off immediately. Both of them viewed several houses each week, and their remodeling urges were constantly stimulated. While our makeover budget was mostly spent, Natalie was just tapping into hers. Frequently she’d call to report a new idea, or she came calling with her contractor in tow.

Although my interest in remodeling had disappeared when the two-week upgrade of our master bedroom turned into a two-month disaster, I loved it when Natalie called. She was so energetic and enthusiastic and optimistic. More importantly, it wasn’t our money at work, and both of us enjoyed her company.

We saw a lot of Natalie and Alex. Only once, however, did we actually sit down in a semi-formal situation. Early on, we simultaneously extended dinner invitations, and we settled on a movable feast, including some other neighbors as well. In the succeeding year, we attempted many times to get together again. It never worked out. We were both always too busy with other things. We never sat down again for an evening devoted to just being friends. Of course, we would see each other and chat. It was always a pleasure to see them, especially Natalie, with her smiles and effervescence. We always left those encounters with the promise to “get together soon.” Well, “soon” never happened. And then she died.

On the morning of Natalie’s death, I’d said to Barbara, “That’s it. We’re getting together with Alex and Natalie tonight. No excuses. If they’re busy, we’ll take the wine next door.” I even wrote myself a note - ALEX & NATALIE!!!! – and taped it to my computer monitor, so I’d remember to call them as soon as I got home from work. I didn’t see any reason to call at 6:00 AM, so I let it go for later.

I learned that “later” wouldn’t be soon enough. Our neighborhood gossip ran across the street when I pulled into the driveway to yell that “Natalie died this morning”, before I could get out of the car. My first reaction was disbelief. He told me what little he knew. I walked away without excusing myself. Sadness and emptiness overcame my sense of manners.

By the time I was in the house, I recalled my morning plans. In case I’d forgotten, the note on the monitor shouted out a reminder. Sadness gave way to anger and regret. We’d waited too long. We’d wasted our opportunities. We’d thought we had all the time in the world, and we didn’t even have tonight.

I promised myself to never let this happen again.

I’ve memorialized Natalie in a very personal manner. I vowed to never let friendship slide, to never let love go unspoken, not for a day, not even for an hour. Life today is filled with means of instant communication – cell phones, the Internet, faxes – excuses need not apply.

Soon after Natalie’s death, I found the perfect way to act on my promise to myself. Talking to a friend about a cousin in Wisconsin who’d made a huge difference in my life, I realized I was telling the wrong person. I immediately called my cousin and told her how important she was to me, how much I loved her and how she’d contributed to my happiness. It was wonderful on both ends of the call. She had things to tell me as well. Had it not been for Natalie, the call might never have been made.

Since, I have made hundreds of such connections. Sometimes it’s to old friends. Often, it’s to people currently in my life, living at a distance. Occasionally, it’s a famous person I want to acknowledge.

I’ve written sports heroes and actors. I’ve connected with high school classmates. A few years ago, I contacted Ken, my algebra teacher and basketball coach at age 14. “I’m a better person for knowing you”, I said. He was thrilled to hear from me.

That’s the best part of what I’ve come to refer to as my “Natalie Calls.” The people that I’ve connected with are all happy I did so. Many times, they’ve been in distress. The contact with someone who appreciates them is the perfect medicine. Often, the person I’ve called tells me they were just thinking about me. Funny how that works. Nearly every celebrity I’ve written has responded with humility and gratitude.

Ken and I have maintained our initial re-connection, and we were recently able to spend time together, after nearly 40 years of separation. It was a simple day, just lunch and conversation. It was also an extraordinary day, one of the best in my experience. We are in regular communication now. We share our lives. What a gift.

My most important Natalie Calls are the ones I make every day, to friends and relatives. Maybe I saw them only yesterday, or spoke to them last week. But, if I miss someone, I tell them. If I love someone, I let them know. Now.

Natalie taught me we only have this moment. We don’t even have tonight.

Thank you, Natalie.

Some Recent Poems


You pout,
A kitten cries,
Fog curtains the sun.

You smile,
The Buddha sighs,
A rainbow pauses.

You point your tongue,
My heart laughs,
A summer shower.

It Works For me

It works for me this life of joy
that I have gained as a geisha boy,
serving my wife and others too,
daily happiness in what I do,
this world of excellent employ.

Could there be more to enjoy
were I in routine paid employ?
Writing, painting, film screening too,
it works for me, this life of joy.

No monthly check, no store-bought toy
could equal when someone calls, “boy”,
How can I be of aid to you?
It’s the most selfish thing I do.
It works for me this life of joy.

About the Haiku

Always three lines,
some say a focus on
nature must thrive.
Others insist
a season
we see,
unrhymed slice of life
with epiphany.
A pivotal point
‘tween lines two and three,
all said in one breath
with great brevity.
Present tense mandated,
minimalist view, but
if you use humor, it
becomes senryu.
Some think a hybrid
form should be free
of anyone’s mandates
for natural plea
I say, just write,
describe but don’t tell
unless it’s a haibun,
which works just as well.


You scrunch up your nose,
A forsaken infant laughs.
A summer shower.

My heart sings its song,
Spring rains on the horizon.
We must mend the roof

Cool light from afar
Summer crops need attending
bees remain divine

Summer heat arrives
Snowbirds flee, ants fear the rain
The monks pray for peace.

Trees tremble in fear
Earth's fever removes rivers
Spring's new lambs still sleep

Birds waver in flight
fall's invisible thermals
still meditation

and, for the modernists...

Awaiting the nurse
hoping she will be pleasant
what does it matter

and just for fun:

Haiku? I hardly know you


If you like art forms, or care about living things, this is the blog for you. Poetry, essays, watercolor, acrylics, films, novels, music...pick your pleasure. I'll post my own work, and anyone else's which catch my eye, as painful as that sounds. I'll recommend books and films, some so obscure they don'y even make it to So, as my Walt, my fellow Living Poet on the Poetic Asides section of, says, "come little goldfish in my pond, interact, don't be koi."