Poetry: Risk & Danger = Life

The mature doctor who would begin residency
for Psychiatry in the morning
after 25 years as a surgeon,
a guy I liked but only saw
one time, turned to look at me
as he was walking out the door,
after I told him about me owning
a motorcycle and he said,
“Well, don’t ride it.”

Too dangerous? This,
after we had discussed
my heart disease with six stents,
and a severely wonky-donkey
heart valve, my high-grade,
lingering dangerous
sarcoma cancer, and my head
to toe clogged arteries holding
three more stents—strokesville?

oh,
and my good old age,
bad high blood pressure,
and the pending possibility of
dangerous surgery and
risky hospital stay.

Risk and danger have been
my companions
since childhood (we have
an understanding). A
motorcycle accident might kill me
faster than a mistake
by a doctor—a surgeon,
maybe.

He was giving up surgery
to be a shrink, so he “could
help people.”

Kind a makes ya wonder,
don’t it?

Look at risk and danger both ways,
but gamble not with the welfare of others.
How well we walk through the fire depends on the width of the gaps.


“Too often the people complain that they have done nothing with their lives and then they wait for somebody to tell them that this isn’t so.” ― Charles Bukowski, What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire

Poetry Report: November Poems + Ann’s

I’ve written that the best thing about August is September. Not this year. September brought several personally stressful events into my normally complacent private world. October was a month for healing and action. Gradually, recovery unfolded as those things apparently changed to my favor thanks to the efforts of a few loving people.

I did not win the lottery, but I began to relax. November was the best of the three months—not exactly perfect, but the worries from two months earlier seemed controlled. I’ll take it.

Thanksgiving Day is the traditional time our immediate family gathers. It is our time. Indeed, we had a house full, but I put in my notice for next year. We’re too old for that shit. It was fun and we are all grateful for how things have turned out so far. But there are people out there trying to make a living fixin’ turkey, giblet gravy, cranberry whatever, and all that stuff. I should help.

This poem was written about me writing a poem each day by a friend from my writers’ group. After Ann, who I like to call Barbara Ann (not her real name – long story: Ba ba ba ba Barbara Ann and the Beach Boys), read it during one of our poetry sessions. I requested, and she gave me, permission to post it here.

One Poem A Day?
By Ann Bordelon

“A poem a day?” That’s quite a task!
I say that’s wa-a-a-a-ay too much to ask.
One a week might be realistic,
But one a day is too optimistic.
They don’t have to rhyme, you say,
But still, one every single day?
There aren’t that many words in my brain,
I’ll run out in a month, what a strain.
Please tell me that this is a sort of a joke
And the reality is that you misspoke.
Instead of “one poem a day” you meant,
“One poem a week is what we should invent.”

Thanks, Ann. Wonderful poem. I’m honored.

I don’t know if I could cut back to less than one poem a day, much less to one a week. On this coming New Year’s Eve, I will complete my mission of composing at least one poem each day during 2019. After that, who knows?

The titles/topics of the daily poems I wrote during November were:

  1. Dying Dignity
  2. Ineffable
  3. First Reading
  4. Finding Treasure
  5. Poets are Dying
  6. Editing
  7. Don’t Bite Me
  8. Natural Brutality
  9. Liminal
  10. Some Cussing Required
  11. Precious and Rare Days
  12. To PC or not to PC, a Question
  13. Thoughts
  14. Imagined Solutions
  15. Muse Berries
  16. Draconian
  17. Up Your Rolex
  18. My Colorado Morning
  19. Extraordinary Knowing
  20. Lie to Me
  21. Dear Deer
  22. The Gap is Gray
  23. I Hear You Died
  24. The Final Week
  25. My Twilight Swim
  26. Ignorance is not Bliss
  27. Expectations
  28. Cowboys 2.0
  29. Body Gremlins
  30. Morphology

As we enter the last month of the year, I look both ways—to future months
as I wonder what’s next with a curious fantasy about the advent
of a new time and age. I think about past months
with more satisfaction than I’m entitled.
I shall mind the gaps in my life, one day at a time.

Essay: Why Mind the Gap?

Who said, “We’ll leave the light on for you?” Most adult Americans probably know who (Tom Bodett) and why (Motel 6 ad). It’s a famous advertising end tag.

I don’t advertise, sell, or profit from either of my blog sites. But I do use the static intro taglines feature of WordPress themes for both blogs. You can’t see the intro tagline on Our Literary Journey because this page is a clean and sanitized theme. While the menu icon brings up more info, it does not display the tag line (Driveling twaddle by an old flapdoodle). Maybe I should create something less self-effacing.

However, the intro tagline is front and center on the Dispassionate Doubt theme. I do not use an end tag there; usually it’s just a relevant meme or quotation.

On September 4, 2016, a few months after I started Our Literary Journey, I began using the Look both ways end tagline. I change it slightly each time to relate to the post. Seven weeks later, on October 21st, I added a second end tag, Mind the Gap (or gaps), also changeable.

Both end tags are philosophically metaphorical phrases for living life—staying alive and healthy. They suggest considering all sides (pro and con), hearing people out, looking for answers (or for questions), discerning danger, being careful and taking risk, learning and remembering lessons, and trying new and different things. Although, consistency and longevity are credible virtues.

Over the years, I’ve become more aware of the word gap (retail clothing notwithstanding) and how we use it. For a three-letter, one-syllable word, it can mean so many different things. To the degree that gap is synonymous with crack, I find much meaning in Cohen’s song verse.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
—Leonard Cohen, lyrics from his song, Anthem

Gap has several definitions. It could be a break in a barrier (such as a wall, hedge, or line of military defense), an assailable position, a mountain pass or ravine, a separation in space or an incomplete or deficient area. A gap can be a break in continuity, a hiatus, lack of balance, or a disparity such as the gap between imports and exports. It could mean a wide difference in character or attitude, such as the generation gap, or a problem caused by some disparity such as a communication or credibility gap.

Mind the gap comes from the warning on the British Underground/subway. So, when I say mind the gap or gaps, it is a cautionary plea to protect oneself. It is also a suggestion to be careful and pay attention to your environment, particularly what you might not see. Yet, it is more than that. There are gaps in our knowledge, gaps in scientific explanations, gaps or figurative holes in our lives, or maybe gaps growing in our relationships. There is even a god of the gaps.

In my opinion, the biggest gap is between human imagination and reality.

This TEDx talk is about minding the gap. It’s what sparked me to write this post.

And yes, look both ways, into your imagination and toward reality.
And mind the gaps, those eternal infernal spaces
where the light gets in and shines upon mystery.

Poetry Report: October Poems

Even if I was bad at math (I’m not), with 61 days remaining this year, I have written more than 300 poems during 2019, beginning with my commitment on New Year’s Day. Writing at least one poem each day has been more of a learning experience than I expected. Originally, I thought it would be difficult but fun, and it has been, but I wondered if I could manage it every day for a whole year.

An unintentional consequence has been that I read much more poetry and I’ve bought more poetry books this year than ever. I’ve also become comfortable trying to write a poem about anything at any time. Sometimes I have no idea where it will go—I just sit down and write. A poem happens (no claims for first draft quality).

I’ve written around the clock. With my pen or laptop at my fingertips, I have composed poems during the wee hours after midnight, before dawn and at sunrise, before and after breakfast, at mid-morning with coffee, while dropping crumbs of my lunch onto my poesy, before and after dinner and while drinking wine or coffee (sometimes too much).

I’ve written them in the car as Yolonda drove, in coffee shops (alone or with groups), at meetings, on my back porch, in other people’s back or front yards, in my daughter’s kitchen, and in every room of our house except the garage and bathrooms (but I should, right?). Using sights or happenings for prompts, I composed while cooling my heels in waiting or examination rooms, while sitting, standing, or on the lie. I have composed mental poems that are never written down, but they don’t count.

Except when I use prompts, like Sammi’s weekender, at writer’s group meetings, or during NaPoWriMo in April, topics are virtually random thoughts or events. Billy Collins even wrote a poem about people telling him there’s a poem in that. I try to write as soon as a thought occurs to me.

I’ve now happily welcomed poetry as the biggest part of my writing life, with encouragement from friends, family, readers, and other poets/writers.

The titles of the 31 poems I wrote each day during October were:

  1. Hard Times Were Had by Us
  2. Shots and Jabs
  3. Choose Your Role
  4. Old Feelings
  5. I Need an Answer
  6. Haven
  7. We’re Number Two
  8. Old Man in My House
  9. Music in Me
  10. CSL (Clive Staples Lewis)
  11. Projects
  12. Irreplaceable Love
  13. Relief Strategy
  14. Too Much
  15. Fallen Pride
  16. Debatable
  17. Art in Us
  18. Your Own
  19. Where Goes the Candlelight?
  20. Aurora
  21. Oldies
  22. Risk & Danger = Life
  23. My Lucky Tree
  24. I could have been a Poet
  25. Road Trip Pits
  26. Saturday at Dawn
  27. The Sunday Marathon
  28. On Raising Teens
  29. Fortuna Redux
  30. It’s All Just Stuff
  31. Times Around

Trust no one.
Look both ways on one-way streets.
Mind the gaps with a skeptic’s crown.

Poetry: Eight is Number One

October is my favorite month
after September, until
it is November, which then
becomes my favorite month
before December. Then,
January changes everything and
I begin to dread July—

Which is when I start to yearn
for October again and
I look at the calendar and
I’m fixin’ to bitch about
the miserable Texas heat,

When my wife asks me where
I would like to go and
I answer, anywhere with
air conditioning, or where
it is October and she says,
it’s October now and
91 degrees outside.

I decide to go look
at the thermostat and to
think about Thanksgiving,
a good economy, and global
warming. She refuses to
live where it is cold.

Look both ways, but time is unidirectional
and never stops, until it does.
Gaps in time are cosmic to the mind.

Sammies Weekend Writing Prompt 122 — Museum

Monet at Kimbell

Not a big fan of Claude,
I wanted the experience
of seeing his original later work
at the Kimbell Art Museum
in Fort Worth.

In Cow Town, I ran
marathons and we danced
at Billy Bob’s near the stockyards,
and went to see Elvis, Marty Robbins,
and two of our three were born there.

A shining light of cowboy culture,
the Kimbell is one of many
attempts to not be Dallas.
DF dubya is nearby and
Cowboys play football in Arlington,

where the Rangers play baseball
and Six Flags (over Texas)
amusement park resides.
But what is most important
is not the museum or foot races,
not the water garden or train station,

what matters most to me about Cow Town
are the memories. The comrades, the friends,
the scandals and the hanky-panky,
the music (up against the wall, redneck mother)
Oh Lord, I knew it all so well.

But gunna miss the Monet.

Look both ways between Dallas and Fort Worth (I love you).
Mind the endless gaps in between.