Former family homes, once
Businesses, barns, refuge
From the hot Texas sun
Or driving storms of
Wind and rain.
Suppertimes, nights of dreams,
Homework, plans to plow
Now it’s all abandoned, forgotten,
Seen but unnoticed or ignored
Peppered along the otherwise
Scenic road drives on, once dirt,
Now blacktop paved roads
Memories forgotten or
Buried in nearby family
Unloved by ungrateful
Outsiders who see
Only haunted eyesores, sadness.
A mess to be cleaned up
By the next generation.
Past lives carried into the
Graveyards of the forgotten.
Look both ways and wonder.
Who were they? What were they like? Where are they now?
Pay attention to the message and mind the gaps.
Clinton, Dubya, Donny Bone Spurs, and me.
Holy shit! Same summer. Folks ask
what happened? Me not being Prez and all.
I ask, what happened to them?
Boomers all, but jeez Louise.
Serial killers Bundy, Tobin,
and Harold Shipman, shake
the skeletons in our closet.
Our birth year black sheep.
I’m proud of our singing and acting 46ers
like Cher, Liza, Rocky, sweet Dolly,
and the late Freddie. Linda Blue Bayou
sings no longer, sadly. Buffett from
that sleepy little town of Pascagoula,
Mississippi is resort Jimmy.
(I didn’t make the talent cut either)
Sajak, Barry (the last Gibb), Andre the Giant,
Glover and Cheech (we smokin’ dog shit?);
I thought Al Green moved on, but no.
Entertainers all. What’s Donovan doing?
And the Deepak guy who gets pissed
when the argument suggests
he makes a killing writing woo-woo.
May he forgive my snarky snicker.
It must not have been a good year.
Brit poet (the late) Peter Reading
was even born
on the exact same day as me.
I am still here
as good as
Look both ways from birth year to death days.
Even Reggie Jackson still loves October and minds the gaps.
Who are they? Don’t trust
dark subs of uncertainty,
misleading indefinite expletives
creating confusing conversations,
reflexively relative to that which was.
possessively mine, ours, or theirs.
It and there might fit
some distant noun.
like they who say (whoever they are),
demanding demonstrative determiners
representing this noun,
but not that clown.
They don’t know who, which, whose,
nor by whom it was.
he, she, or it is about his, hers, or its?
It’s blurringly written minus possessive
nouns with apostrophes of distinction.
Confusion grows unless deictic
takes over this, that, these, and those.
Not me is perpetually guilty.
Definitely, universal indefinites, like everybody
or nobody are unhelpful.
Neither King nor I may trust pronouns, but
we all sure as hell need pronouns them.
Look both ways for clarity and understanding. Mind the gaps, so they say.
An odd pair were we. Everyone’s friend, as
SpineRipper called me
(to rib my neutrality),
knowing I was his.
Navy fighter pilots,
JW, warrior to the core.
Taught me to call the ball
when in the groove.
We cried at kiss off.
Look both ways except on short final to your carrier.
Fly the ball, not the deck, and mind the gaps.
Aviators die here.
Gloss: Captain John (SpineRipper) Waples (USN) was my boss and friend (sort of). He was also one of the greats of Naval Aviation with 1,300+ aircraft carrier landings, 400 at night (a rumored record). He flew many combat missions. He was the original shock and awe combat leader.
I met him after we had both hung up our flight suits, although John still owned and flew his own biplane (he called a kite). Wapes was an enigma to me. Blunt and easily angered (thus the call sign/nick name), yet amenable, and a man who seemed to care about people. We had little in common except for what seemed to be an honest mutual admiration that neither of us ever understood. I didn’t know until the end. I will never understand why. Call the ball, in the groove, and kiss-off are USN fighter pilot jargon.
The boy hid quietly in the back,
never raised his hand, got low grades
for lack of class participation. A shy,
quiet, introverted mama’s boy—
a child, it was his nature.
Adults criticized that he cried too easily.
He cared too much.
Felt too deeply. For a boy.
They would not let him be.
His siblings knew
and encouraged another side.
He learned to deny
his own deep-felt emotions.
Authority ran his life,
maybe his spirit.
He listened, learned, observed,
and grew; first, into a troubled teen, then
he became a young man.
Gradually, he moved
closer to the front, like a warrior
toward danger. Down range.
Today, an old man walks in and sits
front and center. Sharp tongued,
the quick-witted septuagenarian,
with a grin of secret wisdom,
is ready to advise any damn fool
playing games of authority.
Look both ways in the spirit of the young
and the eyes of the old.
Be careful what you wish for,
watch your step, and mind the gaps.
Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.
An army of one
Proud Field Marshal for
Pearl of the Orient Seas
Baroque of dress
Greater than grace
In defeat or dismissal
Pride over human life, yet
Human to the core, to the corps
Look both ways. History is prophecy.
Mind the gaps and seek the truth that may never be told.
Only one American has held the title of “Field Marshal.” Douglas MacArthur was appointed Field Marshal of the Army of the Philippines in 1936 when the island nation achieved a semi-independent status. MacArthur was to create an army for the fledgling country. He wore a special uniform, complete with a Field Marshal’s baton.
Many beautiful lyrical poems pine after the Philippines. Here, “Pearl of the Orient Seas” alludes to the phrase coined by Juan J. Delgado, a Spanish Jesuit missionary, in 1751, and to a poem by Jose Rizal (Mi ultimo adios), wherein he refers to the Philippines with that name.
Sometimes, I want a poem. A Bukowski can be so easy, but seldom sweet or relaxing. Or maybe something by Auden, Oliver, Kaur, Bloch, or Hughes. Or a Tony Hoagland piece about the word dickhead or a barbeque with friends. A Billy Collins poem is usually more of a clean-cut, smooth-spoken, New York laureate who smiles while staring out windows.
The right poem is like a cool glass of clean water, one you don’t know you need until you drink it. So, refreshing; may I have another?
Music helps but poetry works. I read slow and silently. I may move my lips. Maybe I’ll read the poem out loud to hear it in my voice. Or I’ll listen to poems read by one of the great poetic pros. Men with rich rhythmic baritone or base voice tones like Morgan Freeman, Tom O’Bedlam, James Earl Jones, or Johnny Cash. Maybe I’ll hear the fun wrangler sound of some cowboy poet. Or the attractive Brit accents of Sirs Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins, or Patrick Stewart.
Please spare me the stoic, boring, cackling of electronic automatic computer-generated readings by unconscious semi-robots. Why do they do that? It is poetry. Speaking of dickhead decisions. Just no. I can’t!
When I don’t know what’s wrong with me, or what I need, or what I want, the right poem helps.
Sometimes we need to share darkness or a sad bit of life. It’s comforting that while we may be alone, we are not the only ones feeling lost.
Look both ways for refuge from the storms.
Mind the gaps. Ignore the dickheads.
Wear a mask and get the shot.
Fist sized, emotionally uninvested, hearts
are busy little buggers. Mine’s bionic:
seven stents, a new bovine based aortic valve,
and a safety pacer to keep it pumping
1,680 gallons via 100K systole beats
every day. Deathrate’s down two thirds.
Tricky business, this staying alive.
Look both ways and exercise physically and mentally.
Mind the gaps and feel the beats.