Saturday, March 25, 2017

ADD Poet

I sit down at my computer to write a poem,
but my creative juices are not flowing.
I walk to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee
and while the coffee is brewing I decide
to put my breakfast dishes in the dishwasher,
but it’s full of clean dishes which
I put away and then load in the breakfast dishes
just in time for my coffee to be ready.

I open the refrigerator to get the milk
and luckily there is just enough for my coffee,
so I pour it in and then put the cap in the wastebasket
which reminds me it’s trash pickup day.
I pick up the kitchen wastebasket to empty
into the trash barrel in the back shed and figure I
might as well get the laundry and bathroom trash as well.

I walk into the laundry room where I notice
a bunch of towels in the laundry basket
that could be washing while I write,
but when I open the washer door I find
the socks and underwear I washed
and forgot to dry yesterday.
I open the dryer door only to
find some dry sheets which I fold
and put in the linen cupboard and then load
the socks and underwear into the dryer
and the towels into the washer and start them both.

I empty the laundry room trash into the bathroom
wastebasket and carry it out to the kitchen where
I discover my coffee is now cold, so I put
the coffee cup in the microwave and set it for 30 seconds
and then rinse out the empty milk jug to put in the recycling bin
which is also full. I take the recycling bag out to the shed
along with the kitchen wastebasket and
empty the kitchen trash into the trash barrel
and then carry the barrel out to the end of the driveway.

When I get back to the shed to retrieve the kitchen
wastebasket, I notice some sawdust and bits of paper
on the floor where the trash barrel had been,
so I sweep them up with the dustpan and brush
and dump them into the kitchen wastebasket
which I carry back into the kitchen where
my coffee is cold again. I set the microwave
for another 30 seconds and go back
to my computer to sit down and write a poem.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lunar Eclipse


A six-foot man observes the shadow
his 7918-mile diameter planet casts
on a 2159-mile diameter asteroid
259,800 miles away
by a light source that is
92, 960,000 miles over his left shoulder.

Mind Control


The effect of middle class erosion
since American oligarchs declared war
on the middle class has been
a kind of mind control.

By reducing middle class incomes so that
both parents must work to make ends meet,
they have no time to worry about
what the oligarchs are doing.

Brave New World


In what kind of a world do two year-old children
know how to operate computers?

When I was two, I played with a green corduroy
elephant, blocks and wooden beads.

Or a world where eleven year-old children
can access all the world’s knowledge on their cell phone.

When I was eleven, I played cowboys and Indians,
drew cartoons and joined Boy Scouts.

Or a world where fourteen year-old children
can view every conceivable form of pornography on their cell phones.

When I was fourteen, the closest thing to pornography I saw
was Boccaccio’s Decameron on my parents’ bookshelf.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Human Nature


It’s not that we’re all evil.
It’s just that we all think about
our own welfare first.

It’s probably instinct that is
imprinted in our DNA.

But it’s why we need laws,
social rules and governments.
Why religions evolved.
Why we need regulation.

So when free-marketers proclaim
that businesses, corporations and investors
should be completely unregulated,
they’re ignoring human nature
and disregarding centuries of history.

They’re either kidding themselves
or lying to us.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

What Matters

Inequality matters
Healthcare matters
Education matters

Social security matters
Global warming matters
Poverty matters

Nuclear proliferation matters
World peace matters
Clean water matters

Your children matter
My children matter
All children matter

Our religious beliefs don’t matter.
They’re just our fantasies about
the beginning and the end of life.

Tom Mix Memorial

The rented Chevy Cavalier toils along Highway 79, the old road from Tucson to Phoenix. With two aboard, the back full of luggage, and the air conditioning turned up high, the tired little four-cylinder engine is only able to maintain seventy when the old two-lane highway is level. The slightest incline overpowers the feeble power plant, and the car loses momentum.

"I knew we should have gotten a six cylinder car," Bob grumbles. "This turkey's got no guts at all."

"If I hear that one more time, you can let me out and I’ll walk," his wife, Margaret, protests.

"You've been moaning and groaning about this car ever since we picked it up on Tuesday. We take our first real vacation since our honeymoon and what do you do. You rent the cheapest thing you can find and then complain about it. If you weren’t such a tightwad, you would’ve gotten your precious six cylinder car."

Bob doesn't answer. After twenty-three years of marriage, he knows when to drop it.

He drives on, looking out at the desert. It’s dotted with saguaro cacti of all sizes. Hundreds of them.

The younger ones are green and healthy looking like the ones in travel photos. The old ones are huge and twisted and full of holes made by birds in search of moisture. They remind him of arthritic old hands covered with open sores.

A sign beside the road ahead catches Bob’s eye. As they draw closer, he makes out what it says.

TOM MIX MEMORIAL--20 MILES AHEAD.

He breaks the silence. "I wonder what the Tom Mix Memorial is. Do you remember those old movies of his they used to run on TV when we were kids. He wore those big ten-gallon hats. Remember those hats?"

Margaret doesn’t answer. She stares out the other side at the endless stretches of sand and sagebrush.

"At least the air conditioning works,” he sighs.

"Some consolation," she replies without even turning toward him.

The little white car labors on. Bob pushes and re-pushes the buttons on the radio, looking for something other than country and western music. When the buttons fail to find a station, he turns the knob slowly from one end of the dial to the other. There are few stations this far out in the desert, and those that he can find all sound alike. He resigns himself to a station playing Glen Campbell singing By the time I get to Phoenix.

“By the time we get to Phoenix, I’ll be sweating,” he croons, glancing over at her with a smug smile.

“Very funny. By the time we get to Phoenix, I’ll be ready for a divorce,” she shoots back.

A small monument comes into view on the right hand side of the road-- a stumpy mortared-cobblestone pile topped with a small metal horse, its head drooped and the reins hanging.

Bob lifts his foot off the gas. At the last minute, he swerves off the road into the gravel parking lot throwing up a shower of dust and stones and coming to a stop right in front of the odd little monument.

“Jesus! Are you trying to get me killed so you can move on to Wife #2,” she wails.

He opens the car door. “I want to take a closer look.”

“Look all you want but keep it running. I’m staying right here in this air-conditioned car.”


















Stepping into the overwhelming heat, Bob approaches the truncated obelisk. Except for the bullet-riddled metal horse, it isn’t much taller than he is. A metal plaque on the side reads:

"Jan. 6, 1880-Oct. 12, 1940

In Memory of Tom Mix. His spirit left his body on this spot, and whose characterization and portrayals in life served to better fix memories of the Old West in the minds of living men."

A picnic bench sits under a small wooden shelter next to the monument. Bob steps into the shade just as a decrepit old pickup truck turns into the parking lot. An old man wearing a straw hat, a soiled white t-shirt and ragged jeans climbs out carrying a battered thermos bottle. He opens the hood. Steam is pouring out of the truck’s radiator.

He leaves the hood open and walks over to the shelter. He has a brown, weather-beaten face and shoulder-length white hair. He’s far from young but looks wiry and strong.

“Good idea to carry extra water in the desert — both for me and my truck,” he says in a dry, scratchy voice. He opens the thermos and takes a big drink.

“Want some,” he offers, wiping the rim of the thermos with his hand and then holding it out.

Bob looks at the thermos and then at the old man’s hand. “No thanks,” he replies.

“You probably don’t know who Tom Mix was or his horse Tony,” the old man ventures as he sets the thermos on the table. “Lord knows this monument is no help.”

Without waiting for a reply, he continues. “Tom Mix wasn’t just a movie star. He was a Texas Ranger, a US marshal and a peace officer in at least a dozen mining camps. He could shoot a drinking glass out of a man's hand or a button off his shirt and was one of the best horsemen ever.”

“He did all his own stunts in the movies. Why he could swing across a river hanging from a rope, leap from an airplane into a moving car, drop from a fifty-foot cliff into the saddle and then jump off Tony at a full gallop onto a speeding train.”

“Tom was a real working cowboy—not one of them pretty-boy Hollywood types. He owned a big ranch up near Prescott. His movie career may have been fading toward the end, but he was still a hero to his fans; and I was one of them.”

The old man pauses. He walks over to his truck and gets a worn-out corn broom out of the back. He comes back and begins sweeping sand off the monument.

Bob looks over at the car. Margaret is beckoning him with a disapproving scowl on her face.

“The end weren’t very pretty,” the old timer continues as he sweeps. “My uncle was a deputy sheriff back then and was called to the scene. He must have told me the story a hundred times.”

“Tom was driving his bright yellow Cord convertible up from the old Santa Rita hotel in Tucson. It was about two in the afternoon, and he was running late after stopping for a drink and a few hands of poker down in Oracle Junction.”

“They don’t know how fast he was going when he came up on the road crew, but he probably had it to the floor. That Cord busted right through the barricades and dropped into the washout. Tom’s aluminum suitcase flew out of the back seat and hit him in the back of the neck.”

“They say he got out of the car with his white Stetson still on his head, took one step and fell down dead from a broken neck.”

After a long silence, the old man turns to Bob. “Sure you don’t want a drink of water?” he asks. “It’s still nice and cold.”

“No thanks,” Bob replies and turns toward the car. She starts in as soon as his door is closed.

“What was that old coot going on about? I don’t like the looks of him. He could be one of those crazy hermits that kidnaps tourists and then buries their bodies in the desert never to be found again.”

“Just something about his uncle and that monument,” Bob sighs as he puts the car in gear and pulls away. “Probably not true anyway.”



Sherbrooke Murals

For the last fifteen years, the city of Sherbrooke, Quebec has been creating enormous murals on its downtown building walls. The first one was created in 2002 as part of the city’s bicentennial anniversary celebration. Since then, more than a dozen murals have been painted in different locations at the rate of one per year.

The project is overseen by a non-profit called MURIRS (Murales Urbaines √† Revitalisation d’Immeubles et de R√©conciliation Sociale). The organization’s goals are to create a large open-air art gallery promoting the architecture, history and culture of Sherbrooke and to develop a tourist attraction that lets visitors visualize the city’s heritage and culture.

The large-scale murals are planned and managed by MURIRS and executed in trompe l'oeil style by very talented local artists. Most of the murals cover entire walls of two- and three-story buildings.

The original concept was to show snapshots of life at different time periods in Sherbrooke’s history and include likenesses of actual Sherbrooke citizens from that time, but recent murals are more surreal. All of them are thoughtfully conceived and meticulously executed. (click on images for a closer look)



The 2002 Bicentennial Mural depicts an everyday scene in Sherbrooke on the second day of June, 1902 at 2:00 in the afternoon.



The 2003 mural is called “Once Upon A Time In The East”. It shows 29 well-known characters of the city's east side and is intended to salute the builders of the east while featuring a slice of Sherbrooke’s musical and cultural history.



A detail from the mural “Once Upon A Time In The East”.



2005’s “The Good Years” pays tribute to Sherbrooke's southwest neighborhood for its contributions to the textile, mechanical and metallurgy industries.



A detail from “The Good Years”



"Legends and Mena'sen", created in 2010, presents facts and legends from Sherbrooke history. In the foreground, First Nations people pull back a building wall like a theater curtain to reveal historic characters on the banks of the Saint-Francis River.



A detail from "Legends and Mena'sen".



Painted in 2012, “Destinies and Origins” shows the side of a building tilted open to reveal the forests of 1792 in the background merging progressively to the current era on the foreground.

These murals alone are worth the trip to Sherbrooke, but the city also offers many other attractions. It's a delightful little city only 50 miles from the Vermont/Quebec border. You can learn more about the murals at http://www.murirs.qc.ca/en/

The Real Problem

The problem is not that Trump’s appointees are ill-qualified for the positions to which they have been appointed. The real problem is they are ideally qualified to dismantle the regulations that hamper the wealthy from making extreme profits at the public's expense.

Snowman

The snowman stands alone
in the yard oblivious
to the snow and the cold.
His anthracite eyes stare
resolutely into the storm.
His skinny arms flail
helplessly in the biting wind
in a futile attempt
to save his red striped scarf.
His frozen heart feels
neither cold nor joy.
He's a snowman.