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.
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.
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.
When Dad said, “secondhand store,” I looked at my hands. Wondered which was bought second. It’s a euphemism for used. Now it’s preloved. Just bought a preloved printer. Nobody loves evil printers. They’re used.
Daughter, Julie, likens me to George Carlin. Not as funny, but I’m snarkastic. We both rant about softening lingo with euphemistic bull shit excrement. It’s doublespeak. Even good bad words, a euphemism for euphemisms. What’s your favorite?
Look both ways: a euphemism for pay attention or consider all options. Mind both past and future.
So is mind the gaps. Maybe metaphor is mo’ betta’.
It’s August again. Just another
one of twelve named collections of days
to mark our planetary position
relative to our Sun, called sol, in our
solar system spinning reliably about
in some outer spiral arm
of our Milky Way galaxy. Our home.
August is supposed to mean something important,
like some Roman title signifying reverence;
to hold in high regard. I don’t do that for August.
As a child, school started next month,
I was often bored, sunburned, a year older.
Halloween and Christmas were far off.
I feared some raging red-faced nun’s pounding footsteps
and bone rattling beads storming my way,
with some weapon of horror in her hellish hand.
Hormones made me feel things I didn’t understand.
I still don’t get all that. Crazy life.
As an adult, August now means hot and dry. West coast
wildfires raging on while US Forest Service bureaucrats
either fight or fiddle for smarter management
policies for mother nature to ignore.
I try to be respectful of August.
It’s the end of summer, the gateway for September
as promised glories of Autumn soon fall upon us. Coolness.
And color. And feelings. October promises more.
My apologies to summer lovers, tanned bodies,
teacher’s times off, vacations (because kids), and to Caesar.
I say it every year. Only Christmas can save August.
Look both ways to seasons past and yet to come.
Mind the gaps in government policies.
They’re only human, even if they can’t admit it, until the mic is hot.
They number in trillions.
Too many to census tally,
on insides and outsides of every
human body, we each have
our own personal repertoire
of microbes keeping us alive.
In typical foolish human fashion
we’ve tried to kill them
with discovered miraculous medications,
intending genocide to thwart some few
deadly troublemakers by misusing
mass murder techniques, all
to our own peril and demise.
Look both ways for the connections of all life,
the great and the small.
Mind the gaps of gods and science and don’t be fooled by prophets or profits.
They were big, ugly, dangerous,
and ubiquitous to us. Black piles
of sandy slag, hundred foot high
hills of grief daring us
to climb to the top, for no reason,
sometimes at our own peril.
This stuff was soft like black, dry
quicksand. My foot would sink
and the slag would rise above my ankle,
sometimes to my knees,
allowing the scree into my shoes.
Each step was a challenge.
Maybe that’s why we climbed,
for the challenge, the thrill, the view,
perhaps the danger.
We’d been warned not to go.
Sometimes culm banks caught fire.
Children fell into their sink holes
and suffocated. Anthracite coal
was the black diamonds of the barons,
deadly job resources for citizens.
All overlooked, denied, or shrugged-off,
both human exploitation and environmental
degradation. They were witnesses
to the need and to the greed.
I didn’t know it then,
most of the world’s anthracite
coal supply was crushed by eons
of pressure beneath my feet. It was also
why we were there: the sons, daughters,
and grands of the men who built the banks.
Look both ways with two perspectives, theirs and ours.
Mind the gaps as you watch for the traps.
at great cost.
This oasis shades no reality.
only twisted truth.
Each prison is of my making.
I must move on.
I’ll never be free
of my past.
or paranoia will hand me
Look both ways for any port in a storm
but learn to dance in the rain.
Mind the gaps as you seek the road less traveled.
he dedicated much of his life
to avoiding people.
Humanity, he said.
Yet he wrote about people.
So, I assume he failed,
or he lied.
An allegedly unwilling celebrity
lambasting unlively banality,
about women. His ladies.
Many men, too.
I understand the blessing
of being alone.
I like many fine souls, yet I confess
to not always being kind
(yet not exactly cruel) to
Hank asks; is he ugly,
misanthropic, or misogynist?
Some thought so. Maybe he was.
I really don’t know.
Crackpot, with no hope of love?
Bitter and unfair?
Did he put glass in our sandbox?
Was he without morals or mercy?
(Maybe he was.)
Is he my phantom’s mask?
or am I his? Or yours?
What is truth? What love?
I neither know nor care
what most others thought
of Charles Bukowski.
He’s long dead. But
I read and re-read his poetry and prose.
I must have some reason.
Do I want to know my reason?
Do I care?
Or, is this one of those things?
His paradigm, or mine?
Look both ways when considering and discerning humanity.
Mind the gaps. Every day is judgment day.