Poetry: They die, dang-it

 

Dad was 74, and then some more.
Mom barely passed 77, but she did.
And then they died, as happens to humans,
even parents go away one sad day.

It’s natural. Bad enough — life and death.

They were just short of some expected norm,
Dad a hard-core Camel smoker with a long past
as an underground hard-coal miner, and a heavy
weekend drinker till he quit. Cuz, “too old.”

Now names of leaves and ancestor memories.

Mom got late to fixes for breast cancer,
yet survived about ten mo’ years and may have
won even more, but in life —  it’s always
somethin’ what makes one go away.

Each day of life is precious with mothers.

“Smoking is my one and only pleasure”
said my sister, ‘Show,’ to me, trying to quit
but failing. And, before yielding to lung cancer,
“You know, Billy, I never quit. Now I can’t.”

I hate being right. Precious is life with others.

Other sister was bro Danny’s sis, half to me,
was still poking in her time card at 80-some.
I loved her dearly but struggled when asked,
“What’s it like, to be treated like 3 year old?”

Over fifty years of love for her baby, half-brother.

Now, I just act my age. If I’m lucky, I’ll be 74,
after I blow out 73 candles in the next year,
more, with good kismet down the road, but got them
genes. I love my life today, an’ when I’m dead,

I’ll love that too, all things now bein’ said.

©Bill Reynolds 12/10/2018

“Existence itself does not feel horrible;
it feels like an ecstasy, rather,
which we have only to be still to experience.”
~ John Updike

***

Look both ways along the life-line and cherish every second,
with every person.
‘When yer dead, you’re dead.” (Mom said)
Mind each gap, cuz they count, too.

Poetry: What Love is this Love?

 

And then she kissed him.

 

Have humans always loved?
Have we always loved as we now do?

Will there always be a forever love? And
is it true – as they say, love conquers all?

What is this love, which we feel but not see?
Or do we see love? How long do we love?

What is the paradox of such love?
Is it that we have only one word
for so many different loves and types of?

©Bill Reynolds

“…I would like to beg you … to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves … to live everything. Live the questions now … then, someday … you will gradually … live your way into the answer.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903, Letters to a Young Poet.

 

For all things and every day, but most especially in love, look both ways.
The gaps will always be there — in your mind.
Live into your answers.


I wish for you and yours a wonderful holiday season.

Poetry: The Whole(y) Trinity (Earth+Rain+Sun) +Air

Our Earth is breathtaking, awe-inspiring, magnificent, wonderful, amazing, stunning, staggering, imposing, stirring, and impressive. It’s also formidable, fearsome, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, marvelous, and wondrous.

I

It is pure coincidence when the sun and I rise together.
Some mornings, I get to see him peeking through smoky cloud,
other times he is in full blast before I notice the lightness
of another day, I might say, he’s looking kind of gray.
We need the sun. Without sun, we are none, no life begun.
But too much sun is less than fun for those of us
who’d a fair-skin mum, with sun’s-red or blonde hair.
Here come the sun, with promises of things not done.

II

‘tis all the same with the rain, hello, this is nature’s sweetest gift.
The water of life, with two hydros and one oh, of it we drink
vapes up to the sky, but not to the sun, to meet
with clouds of wonder before coming to cleanse
and to make things grow, sometimes as ice, or maybe as snow.
To make us a soup the plants may drink and we of the flesh,
must readily use to be mostly moving bags of water —
no rain, no water; no water – no life, but we have for us
the rain and rain and water and life that needs rain.

III

The earth, the dirt and the dullest dust of all things come and gone —
the coat of soil, six inches deep, worn by the planet is key to it all.
Type of soil names go with what it does and may sound human,
like Clay, Loam, Sandy, Peat, Rocky, and Chalky all improved
with organic things of life gone past, soil is often used for art,
but add the seed then wait to see the growth of life and us to be
mixed and matched and combined with time, then add and mix
the sun and rain and plant life comes, and air is there, and life
of animals and we are they. Care for it all if you plan to stay.

IV

Deep sigh for air and sky. Ya know, lads and lasses, it seems
brother air was not always there, but he’s a changeling contrivance
subject to manipulation with a chemical touch and that is, you see,
what all the fuss truly is and what it’s all about. The magic of
the other three working together (with the sea) brought to be
what we now suck into our lungs and over our tongues the air
the plants brought forth by a wonderful trinity of symbiotic
relationships giving life (recently to us) — for a time. How long?

©Bill Reynolds 11/19/2018

Look both ways in matters of life and nature. They’ve been here longer than us.
Mind the gaps with open-minded caution, discovery may one day fill them with knowledge.
All life, all earth is one. Let’s not fuck this up.

Dialogue: What They Said

Note: click on highlighted links for videos and songs.

He:      ‘I’m very sorry, Baby. I would never intentionally hurt your feelings.’

She:     ‘God damnit, Billy-Bob, you don’t even know why, do you?’

He:      ‘Whatever it was, I deeply regret it and promise never to say or do it again.’

She:     Screamed gibberish and threw her full glass of white wine at him, smashing it on the wall over his head.

Cat:     Ran and hid under the sofa.

She:     Poured herself a glass of red wine (doesn’t like red, gives her headaches).

He:      ‘Come on Judy, calm down, you know how much I love you.’

Cat:     Hissed very loudly.

Alexa: ‘Oh shit, Billy! Playing Gunpowder and Lead by Miranda Lambert.’

She:     Turned beet-red and walked toward him, grinned, and poured the red wine on his white shirt.

He:      ‘Jesus Christ! Now what?’

She:     Quietly uttered a ‘fuck you’ as she turned, grabbed her purse on her way to the front door, which she slammed so hard the curtain fell to the floor.

He:      Walked to the closet to change his shirt. Dropped the wine-stained one into hamper, picked up the curtain from the floor and reattached it. Took a short heavy glass from the cupboard and put in two ice cubes. Opened the liquor cabinet and poured two fingers of his best Scotch, then returned to his seat. He quietly sipped his Glenlivet 25.

Cat:     Jumped into his lap and began to force paws deep into his legs while fully extending claws to dig painfully into his skin.

He:      ‘Ouch! Stop that pussy cat. Alexa, play something soft and comforting.’

Cat:     ‘You did that on purpose. Her name is Jane. You called her Judy, your ex’s name. You’re such a dickhead.’

Alexa: ‘Ok, Billy-Bob, the jerk. Playing Please Don’t Go by Absolutes…jackass.’

He:      ‘Alexa, I said comforting, not sad and miserable. I feel bad enough. Play some Enya.’

Alexa: ‘Enya also thinks you’re a jerk, but playing Watermark for assholes.’

Cat:     ‘You called her mother a pain in the ass. Her mother hates you. Now Jane hates you. I think you are hoping for makeup sex. Good luck.’ Purrs and curls up into his lap.

Alexa: ‘She will kill him for sure this time. His sex life will soon be a memory.’

He:      ‘Alexa, stop talking to the cat. Add flowers to my shopping list.’

Alexa: ‘Ok, thrill-kill-Bill, adding three-dozen red roses and her favorite candy to your shopping list. Would you like me to call that in for you?’

He:      ‘Would you two please be quiet. I need to regroup. Why am I talking to a cat and a computer?’

Phone buzzes with voice mail.

She:     ‘Fuck you very much. And, I’m never coming back.’

Alexa: ‘Ok Jane the wonderful, playing Fuck You by Lily Allen. Please don’t leave us here alone with this asshole.’

He:      Takes another sip of Scotch, closes his eyes, and begins to snore.

© Bill Reynolds 10/27/2018

Look both ways; we are never free of consequences.
Mind the gaps; they are never forgotten.

Essay: I was thinking (some say I oughtn’t)

This past ten days was essentially a good week, plus three days. I am healed from the previous week when I had to deal with some of Texas’ smaller critters. I’ve written about them before, but I know more now.

Picture an orchestra or big band about to play. The conductor taps a stand a few times to get everyone’s attention and raises her or his arms and the musicians get ready. The audience quiets (or should) and everyone prepares for the first blast of music when virtually every musician simultaneously begins to play. Got it? I love it when they do it like that.

Tap, tap, tap…and

Now picture me stepping into my back yard to move some things out of the way. I knew there was a fire ant den over yonder. So, I didn’t go there. I did this, that, and the other thing. I then walked up the stairs to my porch and over to the door into the house. I did not hear the conductor do the tap, tap, tap with the baton.

When fire ants sting (and they do, like fire, thus the name) they play you like an orchestra. These little beasts run out of the den/nest/hiding place and climb onto your body, shoes, up your legs and arrange themselves just lickety-split. Tap, tap, tap, arms raised, then BLAM! Everyone of those little mother-fuckers stings in unison. That’s how it works. It hurts. I had reminders on my legs and ankles for days. Apparently, they release some sort of hormone, so they all get the ‘ready-aim-fire’ call in unison.

Fire ant stings about same as mine.

Last night I lay in bed thinking. Have you ever been to a place where some ass-hole or group of pains-in-the-ass people annoyed the hell out of you? The theater, a restaurant, some sporting event? There are lots of fire ants. Could we harvest a few hundred and put them in a little squeeze bottle thingy? Then, when we no longer can tolerate those people, spray about 20 of our little pissed-off fire ants into some strategic area of the offender’s person: hair, neck, feet, crotch…ideas? We’d get to play conductor. Stand, tap, tap, tap, raise our arms in the air. Let the music and dancing begin.

We’ve had a lot of rain for weeks in this part of (drought or flood) Texas. But it did not rain Thursday of that week. That was when I decided it was time to get back on the rough trails for my walk. I knew the grass was about knee-high tall everywhere they don’t mow. I did not realize how much grass grows on the trails! Since it has been so wet, fewer people have been walking the grass down and they have not mowed out there. I wore long pants tight at the ankle, socks, and a long sleeved shirt.

Chigger bites. I didn’t have so many.

I showered afterwards, but I woke up Friday morning with a dozen chigger bites. I used to think chiggers burrowed into your skin and stayed there. They bite, move, and bite again. Literally they eat skin (me). But they soften you up for dinner with a chemical that causes irritation and itching and lasts about a week.

I have DEET bug spray, and I know how to keep them off, but I didn’t use it. It was a cold, wet morning. I was fresh raw meat strolling through high grass looking for snakes or whatever critters might be hiding in there (ya can’t see chiggers). The hungry bugs were glad to see me. I transported chiggers on my person to my home on my body. For a week the bites mixed well with the fire ant stings for leg and ankle decorations.

The nest is still there in my yard, even though it was recently treated specifically for fire ants. I’ve ordered another kind of treatment for my clothing (permethrin) to deter the chiggers and other bugs, like ticks. I will treat clothing for trails and will apply DEET to my legs, ankles, and exposed skin. Oh, they found a mosquito with West Nile Virus on the south side. I live on the northside, but this should help with that.

I still like the idea of spraying fire ants on annoying people. Just don’t get caught.

Look both ways. Watch out for snakes, scorpions, and tarantulas.
Mind the gaps where hide the chiggers and fire ants.

Poetry — Octo-eventide

I hear the soft sounds of eventide’s song,
as it sings the transition of day into night –
of colorful gloamings where wonders belong,
while whispering air adds drama to sight.

Night birds respond by taking to flight
before today wrings darkness from light
The darts and the dives of the soaring black kite,
mixing their trills, flying into the night.

The sky-blue sunset is dotted with cloud,
as the stars drag the moon into the shroud,
where red and orange, and some yellow are glowing.

Adieu to the light as darkness keeps growing.

As the swift and the nightjar sing
songs that awaken
the owl tonight, a night yet to come.

From this part of life is another day taken,
and as humans will be,
by this darkness we’re shaken.

I feel the call of a long restful sleep
as evening pleasures promise to keep.
Remember this day as something we’ll miss.
Lie with me Love and share this sweet bliss.

©Bill Reynolds 10/12/2018

Look both ways into the night and the day,
mind all these gaps in a special way.

Essay: Ya’ Know What?

My morning means coffee. As I listen to the Keurig groan to push water through that little plastic cup, I ponder the cosmos. Then, I’m off to my room where, with the help of Lappy the laptop, I investigate the inworld of cyberspace and contemplate the secrets of the vast physical universe. I wouldn’t want to have some cosmic detail wrong.

I sit at my desk and prowl through blogs and respond to comments before flipping to Facebook. After typing a few comments, and some likes or loves, I click to email. And behold: there is the prompt for this week’s essay.

Galileo was put on trial and spent the last years of his life in prison for suggesting that the earth revolved around the sun. We think we have a pretty good idea of how the universe works now, but what if we don’t? What if we’re wrong? What if…??

(Good grief!)

Galileo was on house arrest and ordered to deny the heliocentric heresy, which he did before recanting his denial. The sun-center working of the solar system had been around, but the question for him was whether he agreed with it. This was during the reign of Pope Urban the 8th and when the phrase, don’t piss off the pope became popular. It was bad for Galileo. It was worse for others. In the 400 years since, there has been no Urban the 9th.

The rest of the prompt is figuring out the universe and what if we are (or I am) wrong. The universe is one of my favorite topics and being wrong is something with which I am quite familiar. Just ask my wife or kids. The last part asks, what if?

I like to quote phrases that make me feel smart when they affirm what I have supposed. This phrase is credited to Zen:

‘If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.’

Galileo and Pope Urban lived under the same sun and stars within the same solar system. One was right, and one was powerful. But another phrase is might makes right. It did in this case, but not in the long run.

The universe did whatever it did without the help or knowledge of either man. To navigate by celestial means, one assumes that the sun, moon, stars, and planets move across the sky. To the observer, that is what appears to happen, but things are not as they appear.

If we’re wrong, nothing changes. For now, we know what we know, and we look for more answers or corrections.

In time, we’ll correct our errors. Learning is endless, and science has gaps everywhere. Even if we had the cosmos accurately mapped out and understood all the chaos, the potential for more knowledge exceeds the spatial vastness of the universe itself.

And as for the we part; some of ‘we’ think the earth is flat, some of ‘we’ believe some of us are alien creatures; some of ‘we’ deny lunar landings. Too many ‘we’ think Hubble telescope scenes and Voyager photos are fake. Far too many of ‘we’ think science is nonsense, and that it was all created by one supreme deity. Regardless of the signs and clear evidence, some of us will always go the wrong way.

What if is the wrong question. Let’s try what if not? Consider some possibilities.

First, try to imagine this world without science. It is easier to envision a world without humans or any intelligent life. Now, with a twist of the cranium, imagine what John Lennon suggested.

Imagine a world without religion. It’s easier than it was to extract science and learning from history. We’ll always have both, but now we can ask the what if question.

For over 65 years, no one asked me to explain the universe or how it came to be. People were willing to explain it to me in terms of what they thought. Then, a few years ago, about the time I started mumbling the word atheist with personal pronouns, I was suddenly cast into the academic role of Carl Sagan, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson all rolled into one. I was charged with explaining not only how the universe works, but how it came to be. I was also challenged to explain the source of all life on earth, the details of evolution, and to fill-in any scientific gaps. Perhaps the inquisitors thought I would be enlightened.

I not only don’t have all the answers to such questions, I don’t need to have them. Nor do you. None of the seven billion people alive today, nor any of the 100-billion who have ever lived had all the answers or needed to know them.

If the question is what if we are wrong; the answer is of course we are. We do not have all the right answers and that is exactly what all the excitement should be about. Are we willing to learn? It’s why we are here: to always wonder. As Galileo said,

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

***Bill Reynolds***

As you wander, look both ways.
Remember to look up.
Mind the gaps. As you learn, fill in where you can.