Monday, November 30, 2015

There are many things I use that I could not tell you how they work. I've read a lot about electricity, and still do not truly understand it. Cell phones - how do our voices travel across hundreds of miles? I don't know. But I really feel ignorant when I look closely at my winter glove and have to think for awhile to figure out how it was so perfectly woven.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

discus thrower

the thrower
curls around the disc
coils like a spring
(mechanical perfection
visual pleasing)
and releases

Friday, November 27, 2015

little things

the bigger joys
in hiding this year,
I'm thankful for the little things.
Even a tear in the fundamental fabric
of a universe
repairs itself with
the curious wanderings 
of a homeless white-haired gent,
the colorful spheres 
dangling from a porch 
in the fanciful breeze,
the chatter of squirrels,
the meditative stillness
of a chair...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

two chess games

Once upon a time, there were two chess games.

One was the traditional game. One human played the black pieces. Another human played the white. They played on a checkered board.

The other game had no humans. The pieces did what they wanted to do.

The first game began. The human player moved a white pawn, and the opponent moved a black pawn. The two players continued to take turns.

The second game had begun long ago. One pawn was sweeping the space in front of his food store. Three pawns were working together on a farm. A bishop was up in a tower, copying old transcripts. The queen was giving trinkets to little pawns.

The first game was starting to battle. A white bishop and a black rook were taken out early. A pawn was sacrificed in the process.

The second game was rather still. Night had fallen. The king took a long walk through the town and around a small pond.

The humans in the first game were becoming rather tense. One player ran his fingers through his hair so often, it stood straight up on his head. It looked as though his queen was in danger.

The farming pawns were rising with the dawn, talking to the pigs and currying the horse. They were laughing about their trip the day before into town to get seed and bags of manure. They'd taken a brief side trip to the pub.

There were only two black pawns left in the other game, two white pawns, a rook, a bishop and two kings. The humans, though, were excited. By the time checkmate occurred - the player with the frazzled hair won - three pieces remained on the board.

Outside of the chessboard of the first game, all of the pieces of the second game still existed. From the local hilltop, a bishop and a rook from the second game looked down and saw the first game come to an end. They took the news to their fellow pieces in their game, and all mourned the losses on the other side of the hill.

Monday, November 23, 2015

closed windows

When I started school around 1960, there was no air conditioning at school. Ceiling fans, sometimes portable electric fans, and open windows were available, and water  (drinking) fountains to help keep cool. By 1970, a large part of the school I attended had been modified with air conditioning units.

This was most very welcome. The classrooms were more comfortable and quiet, and our uniforms didn't stay damp with sweat. We lost something, too. I recall hearing the twitter of birds, and smelling fresh mown grass during the end of each school year as summer approached in previous years. This was less evident as we kept our windows shut. We had once been more in tune with the climate, the weather and life outside our man-made buildings. We now in a physical way shut ourselves off from the world around us, and became more and more focused on our world indoors.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


there are advantages
to being
the second to last
state in the union
slow to catch up
to the latest vaccines
the latest televisions
and cable TV

computerized inventories 
and billing
the latest innovations
in communication
the latest washing machines
the latest computer integrated
the latest wi-fi connected cameras
and such

there are advantages
to still owning your first car
and your radio and phonograph
and the speakers with tubes

to still remember multiplication tables
and poems by heart

others may be first on the block
first in the union
first in the world
and most popular with the new gadgets

but some of the best inventions
not all, but some
and the best kinds of healing -
the aspirin tea
the hot water bottle -
came before the latest

Friday, November 20, 2015

Lively Creek

tumble down the
lively creek.
Some journey far -
the water like
a high speed chute.
Some follow a twig
floating ahead.
The twig spins
and meets a big stick
and a grumpy rock.
They hold in pause
locked in place
as running water leaps over
their curves and limbs.
The followers smash
into the melee.
They form a crazy nest
a shining poem
with twigs and stones
and rotten debris,
clearwater shimmering
against the
gray limestone bed.
A curly leaf 
makes circles
in a current near the bridge -
it floats upstream
away from the other leaves
and sticks.
The water keeps flowing.
There's healthy commotion
in a creek in motion.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

eat a peach
at the friendly party
circles of guests
drink their wine and tea
they listen
they converse
the doctor greets
the Arctic handyman
the writer-traveller
the guitarist
and the wilderness
within Pachelbel's Canon
a bee visits a flower
on the patio vine
Hamlet brushes past
Schrodinger's cat
the hostess
rinses the glasses
and sets them on
a plain white cloth

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

apple symphony

wild apples
crab apples
four apple stamps -
on a brown envelope

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I enjoy learning trivia - factoids about Shakespeare, planet (or not-a-planet) Pluto, wild rice, Kenya, finials, and such. There are some questions whose answers elude me. One bit of trivia I've been wondering about is how much land in our country (United States of America) is covered by highways, streets, exits, and entrances. We measure the parking lots as acreage, but is there info on the roads themselves? (Wideness times length?) They are usually depicted as tiny little lines on maps when the width of the actual street may be wider than the residential lots alongside them. How much land does one block on an average suburban street cover? The cloverleaf of intersecting interstate highways? And have you seen some of the flat, simple, but very big street intersections we build these days? One could play a pro baseball game in some of them, and still have room for bleachers for the fans. I sometimes think about from where do we get all of that road construction material - the gravel and concrete and tar and such?

Vehicle traffic gets very dense at times, and our answer to the problem always seems to be we need to widen the road, or, we need a new road. We humans really enjoy our vehicles, and are willing to sacrifice a lot - land, quiet, natural beauty - in order to have the pleasure of driving and the pleasure and convenience of our cars and trucks. I do miss the days, though, when most people were able to live near where they worked. During the mid 1970s, I walked to work, and it felt great. Fresh air, friendly people... the walk often eased work-related worries. The drive to work during inclement weather was no longer than ten minutes.

Monday, November 16, 2015

sun, sun

old old sun
still young
among the stars
who warms sea breezes
that cool 
sheds light
all lands and seas
and nourishes
so many
shapes of life
you never fail
to rise each day
may we be
so true to you

Saturday, November 14, 2015

First grade for me started in 1959. One of the pieces of news that teachers shared with us during the first three years of school were the recent addition of Hawaii and Alaska to the United States of America. These are the only states that are not connected to the continental mainland. By the third year of school or earlier, new flags had arrived. The flags with 48 stars were retired, and the flags with fifty stars were raised.  These have been our official national flag for over fifty years now. Long past are our first Betsy Ross flags with thirteen stars for the original thirteen colonies that shaped our newborn country in 1776.

Friday, November 13, 2015

playful architecture

Architecture, it seems to me, is far more playful than it was half a century ago. The shapes and shadows of windows and roofs, the arrangement and types of light fixtures sometimes bring to mind good-humored robots and kids' funny faces, and cheerful goblins. I'm not sure that all of it is an intentional trend. Perhaps there is an undercurrent in the minds of contractors and architects that comes through after years of playing Mario games on Nintendo and such. We translate what we see or plan into digital images now.  Perhaps these images, and the digital nature of computers used to design buildings, automatically self-adjust into something different than in the past, leading to a kind of complex perfection with a living, playful spirit.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


bends and furls
in the currents
deep below
never on the attack
never loses footing
never on the run
never leaves
but senses the barracuda
and senses the squid
seaweed senses
when to bend and furl

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Plastics became a common product in packaging and container design during the 1950s and 1960s. Materials such as wax paper, cellophane, wood, ceramics and foils stepped aside a bit to make room for the extraordinary popularity of plastic products, which are made from petroleum. One object that gradually disappeared was the wooden spool that held sewing thread.

Many kids during that era had relatives who sewed, and saved the wooden spools for various uses. You could tie a string to a spool and tease the household cat into chasing and pouncing. People painted wooden spools with bright primary colors and created toys. The bright spools could be stacked like blocks. Very young children were given thick shoestrings that were easy for small hands to manipulate, and they threaded the spools onto the shoestrings to create play necklaces.

Speaking of young children and early hand coordination, another popular plaything was the sewing card. Cards (around 5 by 8 inches) made of heavy colorfully illustrated cardboard had holes about a quarter inch in diameter punched in them. The child would be given a long shoestring with a knot in one end, and then 'sew' the string to the card by threading it in and out through the holes.

Monday, November 9, 2015


'Squirrel feeding habits often benefit the forest. Buried nuts, if not recovered, may grow into trees and help restore the forest. Squirrels also aid tree growth by digging up, eating, and dispersing certain underground fungi, which form beneficial associations, called "mycorrhizae", with roots. The fungi absorb water and minerals from the soil and pass them on to the plant, receiving energy from the plant in return. Squirrels spread the indigestible spores of these fungi by releasing droppings in areas with young trees.'

quoted from the article 'Squirrel'
by Peter D. Weigl
within The World Book Encyclopedia
2015 edition
Volume 18 So-Sz

Saturday, November 7, 2015


whisper into
the handheld pinwheel
lightweight and shiny.
the turbine spins slowly and whirs.
hold it outside the window
as the car now travels swiftly
down the road.
faster it turns
light flickering
from its curved colorful blades.
the dog has her head
outside the window too
tongue dangling
fur plastered back
her face poised in delight
facing the wind.

Friday, November 6, 2015


Bread and butter was once the backbone of the American diet. Not quite so popular now, fifty years ago, a stack of sliced white bread or a basket of rolls appeared at almost every supper. Even the traditional food of convicts in prison - as the saying went - was bread and water. Bread sustained the body and soul.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

There was a TV show
in the 1960s
about a fellow named Gomer Pyle.
It was a comedy.
The first season began with boot camp
in a fenced-in concrete compound
with rows of identical cots
for the men - all men - to sleep.
Gomer was just out of Mayberry
a little southern town
on the Andy Griffith Show.
One sheriff, one deputy,
one barber, one teacher,
one son, one aunt
and a car mechanic with a son named Gomer.

Somehow, Gomer ends up in boot camp with his own show, and he keeps flunking this and that because all he knows about life is fishing and church and home cooking and repairing tractors in an old tree shaded barn and such. His sargent now at boot camp yells at him a whole lot. 'Golly,' says Gomer and 'Shazam, shazam, shazam!' he says.

Boot camp normally doesn't last forever, but Gomer Pyle is so popular on TV that boot camp lasts year after year. The same fenced-in camp. The same sit-ups and push-ups. The same cots without a wrinkle permitted. It was just a television show, but I think as the seasons flowed by, the viewers hoped for something more for their favorite sarge and private.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

brown snake

slender and brown
swims the clear creek
her head above
the shallow flickering water.
she sways forward
slow and steady pulse
to a narrow tunnel
in the earthy bank.
cars rush behind me -
and trembles
we people make.
the snake is silent
breathing sunlight

within an eddy of calm

Monday, November 2, 2015

Today is November 2, 2015, and it is also All Saints Day. I don't know much about the man who was Saint Nicholas, the man we have come to know as Santa Claus. However, whatever were the saintly qualities that earned his title long ago have multiplied across many years. We often intersect in some way with his legendary kindness during the season of Christmas. He has gained reindeer and a sleigh, a wife and many elves to help him share the love of Christmas in a tangible way. Anyone who has been touched by a little (or very big) package via Saint Nicholas knows the wonder of his spirit.  We know the love of those who provide gifts in his name.