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Wednesday, October 24, 2012


If my mother had lived,
she’d be 92 today,
and who could know how
she’d see the world..
If my mother had lived,
would she be in awe,
or, like the most of us,
take what we have for granted?
If my mother had lived,
she’d have seen so many
wondrous things, like
trips to the moon and
a vaccine for polio, like
electric cars and
a black man as president, like
Dick Tracy fantasies become
Steve Jobs realities, like
Valium and artificial hearts,
both of which might have
helped her live.
But my mother did not live,
and she missed so many
other things, like
her son in Marine dress blues, and
her son beneath a college mortar board , and
her son so beautifully married, and
her son at peace in a lovely life.
Of course, she also missed
too many needless wars, and
too many hungry souls, and
too much thoughtless avarice, and
too much not being done about it all.
I am sorry that she missed it all,
even the bad, even the worst.
I am sorry, Dr, Seuss, but
I can’t smile because it happened.
It did not happen long enough.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Chores of Childhood

It was a small town, a village really,
and everybody had their special roles.
There were six churches and with them,
six types of leaders, one called priest,
another two were pastors, three more
by name and function, ministers.
Not large enough for multiple choice,
but populated aplenty to require each service,
we had one drug counter, one hardware store,
a small post office, an eight-lane bowling alley,
Sal the barber, and the IGA grocery,
owned and run by my family.
There were also tradesmen scattered about,
working from their homes and trucks,
plumbers and electricians and such.
Also scattered throughout the streets,
most of which ended at the lake shore,
were thirty or more taverns, but
that’s a story unto itself.

I worked in that grocery, performing
most tasks, like checking and bagging,
stocking and delivery, sweeping and dusting,
marking prices on cans with black grease pencils.
I steered clear of the meat counter, though,
never trusting those knife-wielding butchers,
unable to stomach the blood, the smells.
When the summer folks arrived, mostly
rich people who did not cook,
I learned to make potato salads and cole slaw
and baked beans, a vegetarian in the making.
The wealthy did not shop, calling in their orders,
and it was for me to take them their bags of goods.
Sometimes, I broke an egg or twelve along the way,
but they never tipped, so it did not bother me much.
It always amazed me that these people
with so much gave so little.

My work did not end at that store.
A sickly mother, an often absent father,
a large yard, and the usual requirements of living
all gave me chores in slew-size.
I can’t recall if I complained back then,
but I’m grateful for it now, that work experience.
It taught how to cook, to clean, to care.
It taught me the silliness of “someone oughta”.
It gave me strength when my mother’s
sickness turned to death.
It gave me order when my father stayed absent.
It provided the way to responsibility.
It provided me with broad shoulders.
It gave meaning to that lesson about
Saint Francis of Assisi, where he was asked
while raking the garden what he would do
if he knew he would die that afternoon, and
he said he would finish raking the garden.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dear World

Dear world - or at least the U.S.A. part of it - please stop calling me. I have cast my ballot, and do not need to be reminded to vote, nor urged to select your candidate, and no, I will not disclose my preferences. You need not ask my opinion of the victor of any made-for-television debates, since I will not watch them, nor will I listen to any post-partum analysis. I will be spending my time doing something enlightening and/or entertaining, like reading or thinking. There's a concept - thinking...thinking for myself. I might just find the means to unleash my genius and create a solution or two. Thank you, world. I appreciate your kindness in this matter.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

For My Friend Tom

Can you believe it’s here once more,
time again for that annual chore.
People will sing, you’ll have to smile,
wishing to flee all the while.
There’s no use fighting now that it’s here,
this day you enter your 69th year.
I love you, man, but what can I say.
You’ll just have to suffer another birthday.
So be a good lad, a most charming boy,
be of good cheer, sit back and enjoy.