One day I was chopping weeds.
When I looked up Libby, our toy poodle, was gone.
I knew she would go home with virtually anyone.
But she’d been fixed years earlier, so she could go play.
I noticed a familiar SUV driving away. I was unarmed, but I felt, maybe,
Libby had been dognapped. I called for her and looked around.
After a while, the car returned and pulled over near me.
The lady driving rolled down the window. She held a small black dog
in her lap and asked if it was my dog. I said, “I don’t know. Lemme check
her license right here on her collar.” Libby was calm. I got semi-sarcastic.
“Yep. Last seen right over there in my yard sniffing her own shit.”
The indignant do-gooder gave me a look and said, “I’m a dog
rescuer. I rescue strays.” I took Libby and said, “Today you’ve
moved up to dognapping. Last I checked that was against the law.
Now may I see your rescue license?”
I could tell she was getting pissed at me.
Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall started pounding my mind and I turned up my volume,
“Hey! Lady! Leave this dog alone!”
All-in-all, look both ways when tending your flock.
Your poor wretched strays may get “rescued” the minute you look one way.
Mind the gaps in the minds of those dumbly righteous souls who do good to feel better than.
The eight-day Jewish festival, which began at nightfall yesterday, is also known as the festival of lights, or the Feast of Dedication. It commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem and rededication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt.
As a child growing up in a relatively “strict” Roman Catholic family, I recall all the “Christmas” cards we received during December. Mom used them to decorate our home. I recall many of the cards wishing us Happy Holidays and Happy Hanukkah. This was from the late 1940’s through the 1960s.
While I attended a Catholic parochial elementary school, I also recall saying “Happy Hanukkah” and playing with dreidels (or similar toys). A dreidel is a four-sided top bearing Hebrew letters. I ate some Jewish foods (year-round) and drank sweet kosher wine, but I did not learn the full meanings and traditions until years later.
When my children were growing up, they (and we) had Jewish family friends. During the holiday season one Jewish friend went to our children’s public schools and explained the Hanukkah festival. During the eight-day festival, my children spent many evenings at their friend’s home learning about Jewish traditions, eating the special foods, and participating in lighting the nine light menorahs (Chanukiah).
While Hanukkah is a minor Jewish religious holiday, for me it is full of happy (and a few sad) memories, and I ponder the possibilities. One more time, Happy Everything, Everyone.
Look both ways to learn the stories our friends and neighbors have to share.
Mind the gaps because no two are exactly alike.
Monday or Tuesday is
the time to be sick.
Those same days are best
for having hospital
Weekend emergency rooms can
get crowded and are often
staffed for far fewer sick people
but what are you gunna do?
Friday night I knew. Damn!
Saturday morning I was
off to an urgent care clinic,
a relatively new ubiquitous
phenomenon in the health care business,
because I was not sick enough
for an ER, and no routine
doctor care would be available
until Monday, if then.
The nice, large, waiting room had maybe
five people, not all patients,
queued up as walk-ins,
first come, first served, maybe.
“Have a seat, Mister Bill. Someone
will be with you in about three hours.”
I read, wrote, and people watched.
Moms with kids had long waits too.
A lady using a walker was whining
and moaning, kind of lost.
But she was soon packed off to an ER by EMS.
It was a classic civilian version
of hurry up and wait. Yet,
I confess to enjoying the sights,
people watching, and the quiet reading time.
Three hours later
I was off to pick up a script.
Look both ways on weekends for doctors at the beach.
Mind the gaps when you clean-catch into the cup.
Since the American government still had an active conscription/draft system, I enlisted during my senior year in high school (1964). I eventually went to college after four years in the U.S. Air Force, which would later result in my first of three closely related “career” choices.
In May of ’66, I married Yolonda. More than half of our first two years together were spent as 20/21/22-year-olds living and working in Ankara, Turkey. I was not sent to Viet Nam. Happy Honeymoon.
I started college in September of 1968, as one of what would become known as Vietnam Era Veterans. I registered as a sophomore transfer from the University of Maryland, Overseas Division.
The Viet Nam War was raging and nearing its high-point years. LBJ was about finished. The Tet Offensive had hardened much more of U.S. public opinion against the war. While not ambivalent, I disagreed with both sides of the argument at that time. I was confused, as were many Americans. I had two short term goals: graduate and get a job. Yolonda was the Brazos County Attorney’s Secretary at the time. Every cop in the county knew her.
We lived in “on campus” student housing. Our “home” was a small one bedroom, one bath, unairconditioned apartment in southeast, central Texas. We eventually bought and installed a window a/c unit.
The campus library was my retreat, a place to read, study, and to people-watch. At the time, everyone exiting the building was forced to have their possessions searched to prevent theft.
One evening, Yolonda waited for me at that library while I was part of a psych department research study. I found her waiting in our car. She asked me if I would know if my penis was exposed out of my pants. She had been cock-flashed by a student employee. The perv got busted, and we’ve been sharing the experience for fifty-plus years. They are everywhere.
I’m writing this while sitting comfortably, sipping coffee, and eating a pastry from my public library’s coffee bar. These days book checkout is on the honor system, and nobody is searched.
I still like libraries. I am not a prodigious reader, although I read every day. Libraries are strangely comforting to me even though everyone has access to the facility, library card or not. Libraries are what they are and do what they do. The same is true of people.
My first library from childhood was in an old, mid-19th century, church building and still is. I also like old church architecture. Maybe there is a reason for my library/church juxtaposition of interest. I recall no pervs in the stacks from back then, but if those books could talk… (wait, we have talking books nowadays.)
It seems like it began for this boomer with the assassination of JFK. My first ten years after high school, the sixties, and early seventies, were a coming-of-age time for me and a tumultuous period in American History.
More than fifty years later, I still like to sit in libraries and write, read, search for books, people watch, and sip coffee. I may ponder what others say or claim. I think about how differently we all see the world and each other.
But at this point in my life, I really don’t give a shite what anyone thinks of me, except for Yolonda and our three middle-aged kids; less so, a few teeny-bopper or early 20s grandkids.
So far, I think I pass muster. Sort of.
Look both ways for what is right. Arguing does little good.
Mind the gaps lest they become crevasses of civil division.
Find your tribe and take a side. Keep trying to understand.
Support public libraries, not book bans or burns.
I returned to your place of business, like I said I would.
A clown-man there told two jokes. At first,
I glared at him to the silent end. The other
I interrupted so I could give you my coffee order.
I allowed him to finish. I again stared
before telling him his joke was unfunny and that his
comedic skills were woefully lacking behind his
overflowing obnoxiousness. Was he your father?
You would not take my money. He paid.
I sat quietly, typed my poem, drank the
Americano and chewed the muffin.
Now I wish I hadn’t. You
did not look at me or say another word. Then,
Sorry. Henceforth, the city library
has much more to offer and
better silence, too. No jokes.
Is Divinely Beautiful your real name?
Tell your father that my low opinion
of him has declined and my vote
is not for sale.
No apology necessary.
Look both ways but think on your feet.
Mind the gaps of silence when the wind passes.
They were not smart or rich. Some might write. Few to none finished school. In many ways they were all slaves.
The children, the men, and the women were trying to survive, to make it through the night.
No great athletes, not a genius among them. The company was the enemy. The boss.
I think of them on Labor Day. About my dad, the filthy coal miner, who swore I’d never work in the mines.
He was right.
When the mines shut down, he was lucky to find any job. He was a plumber’s helper. He mowed lawns and dug sewer ditches. Finally, as a nurse’s aide for the same pay I got as a teenage knucklehead, for my summer job, as a gardener’s assistant, he worked until it was finished.
Mom was a cleaner of footwear in a shoe factory. She had to take two early morning buses and often walked home. Her hands were always dirty and stained from cleaning factory shoes. Sucky work.
I never did piece work, nor had black lung, but at a young age I knew all about both.
Labor Day! I love it, but the more I think about it, and the more I learn about the labor movement, the more pissed off I get.
Wars and soldiers did not build this country. The rich damn sure didn’t. Cowboys (not the jerks in Dallas) and labor did. Workers built America.
“No gods, no masters.”
Look both ways and try to understand.
All workers and all labor around the world are brothers and sisters.
Mind the gaps and may we treat them well. Welcome to America.
I don’t give a damn what
you think about what
I think I thought
that am entitled to,
or what is my business.
Motive matters. How are ya
means I fucking care
about you and your problems,
no matter how ya got ‘em.
When you shut me out,
when you will not talk,
when anyone close
informs me just
exactly what the fuck
is and is not my business,
Blood boils, tongues twist,
ears backen, and eyes redden.
Sir, the witness has rights!
Code fucking red. RED!
Read it right. No matter
WHAT! I’m on your side.
Hell, high water, thunder,
fucking flashes of lightning
or the end of my damn sidewalk.
Look both ways and see it as you must,
but I’ve been minding the gaps in this wall for more than 50 years.
I suppose it depends upon what it is applied to and how.