Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bat Herding - A Magpie Memory

This is the image Tess posted for this week's Magpie Tales. I am going to slide a bit off topic from butterfly to flying critters and focus on another. I have a butterfly experience and story too, but the bat talked to me and said, "Now!"

To see the work of the other contributors to this week's Magpie Tales, go to Tess Kincaid's site here

This is a memory. It is not made up. It was me, my wife and her younger sister, my favorite of all my relatives, ever. We were in our two story condominium apartment. We would enter at ground level on a steep hill. The living area above was one level up in the back. We would go down stairs to the lower floor where the main bath and two bedrooms were. The main bedroom had a glass wall at the back of the condo and a small patio at ground level because the hill had sloped enough to do that. Above that patio was a wood deck outside the living room with its glass wall.

The condo design was common wall to the sides with the next unit so the windows were at the rear while the door was at the front. We would enter into our upper floor living area, into the small hall beside the kitchen on one side and the upper half bath on the other. Next would come the dining area, then the three step down to the sunken living area. Then loop around to the left and the stairs to the lower level going back toward the front of the condo. At the base of the stairs was the main bath while to the left were the two bedrooms. At the front of the house under the kitchen was the smaller bedroom and main bath and at the back under the living area with the same three steps down was the main bedroom.

Why the owner had installed the dark brown, nearly black cork square tile with random pattern sound holes in the living area I do not know. The place was quite dark because of that cork board wall. Bats loved it. It was perfect for them, being the same color they were and having all those holes to latch onto. The ceiling was extra high because the three steps down from the entry level was not matched in the ceiling. That gave that cork wall an extra 21" so the ceiling was nearly 9' above the living area floor. That meant any bat could choose to be well away from humans.

This condo was the last place we rented. We lived there almost four years. In 1981, things changed. The owner wanted to sell. We thought we might buy the condo but before we actually got very far in that process we found a house and bought it instead.

This is about the right size and shape of the bat in my poem but this is a representative picture. I did not catch the bat, just shooed it out.

Bat Herding
(Lake Grove Condos
Spring, 1979 - late evening)

So we're hanging out
in the living room just shootin'
the shit and the fact
that bats live in the trees
nearby comes up and I say
our corkboard south wall
attracts them and I look
high up, then say
"Just like that one."

At that point the women freak
and I start laughing
and I get the broom
and in a comedy of bat herding
I finally get it to fly out
the front door.
The women, who have
meanwhile huddled
out on the back deck scream,
"Shut that goddam door!"

‎January ‎25, ‎2015 11:11 AM

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Last Award

Entertainment industry awards are commercial ventures. No one from television viewers through the local live audience to the award hopefuls and then the winners and the backstage people and the hosts and then the tv industry itself is exempt from the commercial backdrop and wash that colors the whole thing. Think on that and then wonder what goes through the hearts of the people who recieve such honors which are not really honors.

Here's one guy speaking out after being honored enough that he gets to immortalize his hand and foot prints in concrete at Grauman's Chinese Theater.

I don't mean to imply that Henry thought this way. This is just an illustrative image, one among so many I could have chosen. However, I could not choose a woman's slab. A woman never would have written this poem just this way. At least I don't think so.

My Last Award

It's an old movie
with the old stars attending
while my path takes me
to the fresh concrete
and my hands squish hollowed prints,
stony memory.
I sign with flourish
and accept your pinned corsage
on my flabby chest.

‎November ‎28, ‎2010 6:24 AM

Friday, January 23, 2015

Don't Forget I Love You

Here is a poem about the unfriendly shape reality can take. In a totally different arena I had my illusions slapped across my face again. There are ways in which I radically do not fit in contemporary society. I can go for years and gradually forget all over again that there is cognitive dissonance between me and convention in certain areas.

I am no monster* but there are parts of the world that are seriously alien to my ways - things I would do very differently from others and I really depend on God to keep me out of trouble. It occurs to me once again, for example, that I was ethically set up to be the dope dealer I became, for one - and to leave it behind abruptly under the pressures I found also. I left no one hanging. All accounts were square.

I am a good lover. I have received ample feedback on that score. I am also not so good as a long term husband. I have only been one once but Mama! what a debacle that became.

There are, because I lead a life where I have many people in it, many who believe my capacity for friendship. And I retired from my lifework in good standing but rather poor health. I was personally somewhat ashamed but also assured no one thought ill of me.

And yet, there is still this vagrant hair - a mole exists and out of it comes a strangely colored corkscrew of a hair that grows back even when I pluck it out. I see some stuff very differently from many people and if I act on that stuff I might find big trouble. I just went through an exercise of trading views in an internet setting which makes it clear how differently others see stuff.

That dismays me.

So of course it comes as no surprise that this is the poem to post today.

Don't Forget I Love You

It curls in me like
thin gray leaders of old smoke.
It has the quiet
stench of the ash trays
of that drug house we lived in,
of the dusty floors.

I fear the way you
sometimes look at me. I know
you are recalling
my deflated shape
and I cannot hide from it
so I shiver, shake.

‎November ‎26, ‎2010 8:30 PM

*My mother called me "Monster" or "Monstro" but I never took it that serious. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Falling In Love - 3 Word Wednesday

Three Word Wednesday

These three words:
Amicable; Frivolous; Unrefined.

Falling In Love

It's the waterwheel
that takes my heart all the way
out of my body.
I think I will fall
in love with you pretty much
this time tomorrow.

I'm amicable
no matter the confusion,
the frivolous trips,
the unrefined noise
arising out my innards
after I've eaten.

It's funny how time
wounds all heels - I make bad puns
under this pressure.
Believe me - I will
fall for you for sure not long
from now, my pretty.

January 21, 2015 10:22 AM

Tuesday, January 20, 2015



I am the fruit loop
hung to dry when you left me
in the calcined rocks
strewn about our front
slope as if you might find me
in their crumbly shapes
and remember what
you have done to this old soul,
this wizened old soul.

‎November ‎26, ‎2010 7:37 AM

I found out that friends of mine who have gone to a life of promise have crashed hard on the rocks of their day. I love these people and my heart is hurt. Now I shall remember that one is to proceed in complicated times like cooking a delicate fish. That observation is one of my lifelong guides, found as a suggestion in an ancient Chinese classic. I have no intention beyond loving them both. That this poem arises from the queue at this point seems a touch spooky.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Before We Left For California - A Magpie Tale

My Step-Dad was the man who raised me, an honorable man who worked hard in his own way all his life. He was not that popular, being too straight laced and not at all religious until the end. I am told at the end, crushed by the pain of his bone cancer he got closer to God.

He was born in Perry, Oklahoma. Not long after he was born the family emigrated to California, chased by the Dust Bowl. They settled in a small farmer's village south of Ventura, a rural wide spot in the road known as Montalvo.

In the fifties, when we visited for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was still basically rural and not like it is now. For one thing the water was so bad it was undrinkable and we all had bottled water.

My Dad's grandmother Nora owned the house. There were two bedrooms, with his grandmother in one and his mother and husband the other. My Dad and his brother had an add on room at the back that ran the full width of the house. Next door was one of his aunt's and uncle's, and across the street directly was another. Most of the family settled down on this road, being a bit more well to do than the typical picture of the Okies, the desperation migrants of the day.

Here's the house my Dad grew up in until he entered the Marines to fight at the last in World War II. It is the small beige one with the detached garage and the trash bin out front. No one in the family lives there now and it looks as if it is now an industrial site. In the fifties when I knew the house it was grassy in back, an extra deep lot as appears here, and there was vegetable plot and a broke down empty chicken house:

Before We Left For California

The sounds of your hands
on the pots, on the wide pans
tell me supper's near
and that's a good thing
I think, and so does the dog.
The cat's as always
aloof and even
haughty as if she cares not
at all but the bird
count is up lately.
We know she will dine with us.

So I grab your ass,
slide up to the small
of your back with my right hand,
fingers widely spread,
and with my left, take
you to me, whirling as if
we cannot collide
with the rest of it,
all the financials that suck
the life out of us.

‎January ‎18, ‎2015 11:10 AM

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Cartoon Grief

This poem is a memory. I could have been six or a little older, I suppose. I cried so much my Dad lost patience a little. After all, just a cartoon. Actually it was not just a cartoon but also me crying for the painful reality of others on the planet - among the first times I ever did that. So it was a learning moment too. I do not think my Dad recognized it for what it was.

In just this way we can miss what is happening to other people and why so many of us often are alone in those critical moments on the planet.

Cartoon Grief

The cartoon dog lept
and bounced and licked the cartoon
boy as if love was
all there is to know.
The boy held stock still, too sad
to care, to notice,
until the little
dog turned to face us broken,
drooping hangdog drab.

Me at five, I took
that look and cried openly.
My daddy did not.

November 22, 2010 12:22 PM

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What’s At Stake

What’s At Stake

My heart is laced up
with threads drawn from my fat head
and cinched far too tight
for comfort and joy.
To top that, the two get ups
the dog made me do
in the night because
her turgid gut ached and leaked.
The doggie tooted
in the key of F
and I felt distress and worse.
The fat head lacing,
the absence of joy,
the lack of comfort and sleep -
another fine mess
you got me into.
I will expect my wages
to be free of sin.

May 28, 2014 7:52 PM

Written last May in response to Irene's "gold threads"

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Point Of It All - 3WW

Martha Graham was an American modern dancer and choreographer whose influence on dance has been compared with the influence Picasso had on the modern visual arts, Stravinsky had on music, or Frank Lloyd Wright had on architecture.

Go here: Three Word Wednesday
The Three Words:
Distracted, Genuine, Modest.

The Point Of It All

You could be the one,
a genuine and modest
example of grace
in the rich garden
tended by clouds of black robed
acolytes who bend
deeply distracted
by prayer and hymns of praise
when our point was you.

‎January ‎14, ‎2015 4:22 PM

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Road Runner Escapes

Road Runner Escapes

Meep!Meep! - small dust clouds
as Road Runner gets away
through the door

painted on the cliff

face by Coyote -
was supposed to stop him flat -
does stop Coyote
knocking his teeth out
displaying distant super novae
in consequences
that would be too grim
if life was not a cartoon
which of course it is.

I know all too well the way
we do all the work.

January 13, 2015 1:53 PM

Both images are sourced in the fine long term work of Looney Tunes, a part of Warner Brothers Studios.

A Real Coyote
A Real Road Runner

Monday, January 12, 2015

Wherever You Go - A Response

Wherever You Go
There You Are

Getting more shit done,
that’s the name of this sludge farm
and I will join up
because there’s nothing
else I can find to do now.

You revise, revise,
again and again
you've revised your revision.

You know how I feel?
I feel like I am
the other guy all revised
shiny and sunny
and newly minted
but underneath it’s all sludge
you know – scrape the shine
and you find the crap.
Same old, same old, oh my God,
I’m just gonna die.

May 17, 2014 9:33 PM

Last spring we collaborated, Irene Toh and I. We wrote poems back and forth, mostly she starting and me responding, but then some of the work spilled over from blog post to blog post. Irene is of Chinese descent and is native to Singapore. I am of course a guy born in California, currently living in Oregon. Irene and I are in daily contact as is so easy to do these days.

If you want to see Irene's poem, then go here: Orange Is A Fruit

Sunday, January 11, 2015

On The Last Day - The Sunday Whirl

Wordle 195 offered by Brenda for The Sunday Whirl

On The Last Day

One single list will
render my inky ass down
to the right channel
despite the bad smell
of the boys we all condemn.

Generate a sense
of the end.

I will
capitulate or you will be
smashed and smeared before
you reach the mid point.
That won't help my swollen heart,
my throbbing ennui.

‎January ‎11, ‎2015 3:06 PM

Hmmm.... Can ennui throb? My heart says yes but my head says my categories are crossed. I suppose this is not the first time for that.

Tumbling Again - A Magpie Tale

Image by Elene Usdin - chosen by Tess for this week's Magpie Tale challenge

Tumbling Again

I keep telling you
(why do I care about this?)
if you are going
to do gymnastics
you can't do that commando
style when they're around.

‎January ‎11, ‎2015 1:48 PM

Note for ESL people, English as a second language... "commando style" means without underwear and is a military reference to infiltrating behind enemy lines which is what commandos do.

Here is Wikipedia:

Going commando, or free-balling for males and free-buffing for females, is the practice of not wearing underwear.

Some people choose not to wear any underwear for several reasons, including for comfort, to enable their outer garments (particularly those which are form-fitting) to look more flattering, to avoid creating a panty line, or because they do not see any need for them. Some people find not wearing underwear to be sexually exciting, and some people regard knowing that their sex partner is not wearing underwear to be erotic. Not wearing underwear is widely considered to be immodest and socially unacceptable if the crotch area becomes exposed, but can be a part of some sex fantasies and of some pornographic films.

Certain types of clothes, such as cycling shorts and kilts, are designed to be worn or are traditionally worn without underwear. This also applies for most clothes worn as swimwear, sportswear or nightwear.

In Chile, the act of not wearing underwear has been called "andar a lo gringo" (to go gringo-style) for decades.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

There's More To It Than That

Have you ever got this letter? Or sent it? I have. Both. What bullshit. There is no way to put it that isn't.

There's More To It Than That

You send me letters
of explanation, sky blue
paper and purple
ink, scented as in
satin, letters to explain
why we'll just be friends.

‎November ‎22, ‎2010 7:38 PM

Friday, January 9, 2015

You’re Innocent

You’re Innocent

They do really name
you a freaking terrorist.
I heard one guy say
so anyway, think
someone caught your scent or sign
in the wreckage – not
the last one brought down –
the one blown up before that.
But I have your back.
I denied you went
anywhere near that cargo
hold late yesterday.

May 18, 2014 4:20 PM

Written in response to Irene's post. See Orange Is A Fruit

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Morning Commute

This poem is about a real boy too, just like yesterday's post. But the photo above is not of him. In fact the guy in the photo has it pretty good so long as the weather holds.

I saw the boy only a day or two in mid November before I wrote the poem. He was sleeping rough in the late fall and his cubbyhole was not exactly out of the rain. It was also fairly exposed which means that the cops would roust him out fairly quickly. His bike possibly still worked.

Morning Commute

The bicycle boy
lives under the viaduct,
not even a tent
though the frost comes soon.

I see his moon face rising
as I drive on by,
as unknown to him
as all the other drivers
on this hard hard road.

November 16, 2010 3:32 PM

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Day In The Life - Reprise

This one has layers and it is perhaps best just to stick with the story because when something manmade in my life comes at me without anyone to blame, well, then I guess I am driving and that just sucks. It is really convenient at that moment to find someone to blame in a hurry.

A Day In The Life

Don't you just hate it
When floating on the river
There's a boat bearing
Down on you and you
Shout and scream, risk falling out
By jumping and all
But that boat keeps on
Coming at you, nothing left
To do but jump out
And that boat takes yours,
Smashes it so completely
There's nothing left, then
You notice no one
Was in that other bad boat...

What the hell was that?

January 29, 2009 10:49 AM
First published July 19, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Wooden Head No. 2

Wooden Head

I wanted to be
a real boy way back then
and got my damn wish.
I fell for you hard,
skinned in seventeen places
scabbed and sore, torn up.
Had I stayed in wood
there would have been bashed edges
and splintered corners
but no bloody skin -
you ran from me just the same.
You grabbed my heart, tore
it out of my chest
and it shattered as if wood
into twelve pieces.

‎January ‎6, ‎2015 3:35 PM

This is the second time I used the Pinocchio theme. I had forgotten the earlier poem, first written in 2009. The same theme.

To compare, if you want, you can go here:
Wooden Head

I think it might be interesting to see the evolution from one poem to the other.

Monday, January 5, 2015

At The End

At The End

When I died I stayed
upright for a bit and ran
across fifteen states
looking I suppose
for you and all the others
who poked fun at me.

After finding out
what had become of you all
I let go with my toes
and drifted off key,
let the B string snap for good,
and splintered my wood,
watching it sidle
down to rest on those glass rocks.

I stripped down to bone.

‎January 5, ‎2015 7:40 PM

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Old Hippies Never Die

In The Nursing Home
(or Old Hippies Never Die)

You said, "it's my turn"
and then you dedicated
all your sweet resolve
to shine like some new
reason to shelter my soul
and review my nooks
and crooks by design.

Once there was revolution
brewing and I'd sing
about that, hoping
we would win the streets this time,
a fallow belief.

Now I'm hung to dry
like a pair of worn levis
on green vinyl line.

‎January ‎4, ‎2015 4:13 PM

Backyard photo posted as a writing prompt by Tess for Magpie Tales
Wordle by Brenda Warren as a writing challenge on her Sunday Whirl

Friday, January 2, 2015

On The Hill

The Ring of Brodgar on Orkney's main island - 5200 years old or so.

There is a theory that to understand the stones you need to see the standing stone culture as starting on these islands located to the north of Scotland. This culture spread south from there, ultimately reaching the locations of Stonehenge and the Avebury circle in the south of England. In this thinking it is claimed that the stones of Orkney appear to have been arranged at least 100 years earlier than anywhere else.

Click on this link

On The Hill

How could you stand there
so still like those last old stones
upright in a row
like sacred pillars
long ago ground down by time
as it all went by?

The invasion took
place before you showed yourself
as we all huddled
in its aftermath.
You stood on that stony hill
shadowed in back light.

November 14, 2010 7:31 AM
Remodeled, January 2, 2014

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Pink Rain

This suspected felon still managed to pose for what is possibly the happiest mug shot of all time. Michael Whitington toothily grinned from ear to ear as the camera clicked for his official prison snap on Tuesday. It came shortly after the 45-year-old had been charged with one count of robbery.

Happy New Year to all of you all across the planet. I am grateful to have friends in Singapore and Australia and France, in England and Canada, and people I love are currently visiting in Mexico.

I am now firmly settled in the volcanic basalt on the rim of the bluff above the Willamette River in Oregon City, Oregon. I awoke this first morning of 2015 a bit amazed. I have never been able to get my head around growing old but here I am a month and a half into my 69th year. I am looking at 70 next which simply boggles my moral sense.

I feel like I am getting away with something here. I have always favored larceny and subterfuge. I have thought I could be a good spy if I had bigger stones. I was the only honest dope dealer in San Jose... Heh. Well not the only one. That was over forty years ago.

I swear I stopped robbing banks over thirty years ago.

I mean it.

Now I write poetry, itself a kind of larceny. I know it's true. I am stealing this stuff from somewhere.

Pink Rain

I hope you get it,
get how difficult it is
to turn wood into
lighter than air craft.
It may appear that I am
all giggles and grins
but the spells I weave
take the stuffing out of me
and leave me hollow,
cracked and now leaking
the hydraulics of my soul,
an oily pink rain.

November 1, 2010 1:47 PM

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