Monday, November 30, 2015

Time Travel - A Magpie Tale

"The Kitchen Scene with Jesus, Martha and Mary in the Background."
This painting was chosen by Tess for this week's Magpie Tales: Mag 296. Go there to find the contributor list.

Joachim Bueckelaer (ca. 1534-1575), was a Flemish painter. In this kitchen scene he followed the earlier tradition of higher and smaller for further away. For clarity and ease of painting, the distance also had to be to one or the other side of the main figure. He had much religious symbolism in his earlier works and less in his later works. That this work has religious symbolism indicates it probably is earlier.

Time Travel

(In those days no one
knew perspective, put distance
higher than the front,
smaller and fuzzy,
puzzling perhaps why stuff won't
show quite right.)

Poor girl
has broken her arm.

As for me, I take my ale
in local pewter,
a tankard given
in affection by the Duke
of Antwerp. I will
soon see if the girl
is as delicious as all
the produce she tends.

‎November ‎30, ‎2015 6:26 AM

Take a course in art history if you haven't. You will see I am quite right about draughting before perspective. It is also why we still sometimes have slanted stages, high in back and lower in front when we try to match the earlier European dramatic traditions. The idea of vanishing points placed somewhere in the background of a drawing is a convention known and understood by some but seldom used before 1400 AD or so, and then not widely.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

When The Earth Quakes

It is often said that Buddha wished for companions and shunned disciples as much as peacefully possible. He felt little elevation above the herd though a herd formed around him quite naturally. This is one form of the distinction between masters and their disciples. I am sure this companion and disciple contrast was a tension between Jesus and his followers as well.

It is clear that a master sees himself one set of ways while the master's followers see the master in other ways. The master grieves in this. The records of those grievances are among the truest bits of the masters' biographies, these records of a master's worry for his disciples as they persist in error concerning the intent of the master. This is a remarkably faithful record of error probably written by those who persist in that error. As such these records are perhaps the deepest validation of that master, that his teaching survives despite severe confusions among those closest to him.

I write "he and him" only because the main records of masters are those of men - Siddhartha Gautama, Kung Fu Tse, Yeshua Bar Yoseph (Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ). And by no means least but perhaps lesser known in the West, Laozi (Lao Tzu).

When The Earth Quakes

Time to duck, cover
my ass and hunker down right
here in the safe zone
beside your regard.

They say don't crawl in under
things but lay beside
them. This makes me think.
Buddha's companion is safe.
Buddha's disciple
could be crushed under
tons of peace, drowned in wisdom
floods not meant that way.

April 3, 2011 5:11 PM

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I Have Needs

Men have needs, have needs!

I have to reach toward God
and climb on up His
Holy robes as if
I could reach the Holy Ghost,
catch the Holy Goose
and attend the Feast
of Saint Albumen the White.

That's when she said, Stop!
You are fucking nuts!
That's when I said, Men have needs!
and she turned me down.

March 24, 2011 8:55 PM

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Trolls' Work

Image found here:

My trolls live in caves.
I have employed three of them
to reform my mind,
change Father, Son, Dove,
to another kind of stone,
not earthen basalt
but ocean's sandy
stone formed at the sea's edges
so long long ago.

March 20, 2011 1:07 PM

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Spousal Remarks

Rossetti, his sister Christina, their mother and his brother William who kept an eye on them all. The photographer was apparently fascinated by Rossetti’s wombat and put it into one of his own books as a dormouse. He was Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll, of course), a talented photographer as well as a writer.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848
Born: May 12, 1828, London, United Kingdom
Died: April 9, 1882, Birchington-on-Sea, United Kingdom
Spouse: Elizabeth Siddal (m. 1860–1862)
Colleagues: John Everett Millais, Elizabeth Siddal
Siblings: Christina Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti, Maria Francesca Rossetti

Christina Georgina Rossetti was an Italian-English poet who wrote a variety of romantic, devotional, and children's poems. She is famous for writing Goblin Market and Remember, and the words of the Christmas carol In the Bleak Midwinter.
Born: December 5, 1830, London, United Kingdom
Died: December 29, 1894, Torrington Square, London, United Kingdom
Siblings: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti, Maria Francesca Rossetti
Parents: Gabriele Rossetti, Frances Polidori

"Goblin Market" is a narrative poem by Christina Rossetti. In a letter to her publisher, Rossetti claimed that the poem, which is interpreted frequently as having features of remarkably sexual imagery, was not meant for children.

My wife's teeth wore out
chewing my shoes and leather
shirt, how it should be,
I guess, certainly
how it is.

We won't tell you
our true goblin names,
not for all the tea
you grow in Chinese
gardens, not for all the gold
in your dragon's hoard.

February 14, 2011 12:23 PM

Sunset Maple

The Sunset Maple holds its color for much of the year, because it buds out in spring with red buds and while green in summer, the leaves turn fire red in fall. I had three of these planted in the sidewalk planter with large evergreen bushes in between them in the last house I owned. Sunset Maples grow just about anywhere in the US, because they tolerate the cold, the cool and the warm, but not the subtropical heat. This means only the southernmost areas of the US are too hot for them.

Scraping my story
across the stormy gray sky
of early springtime
with gnarly fingers
just now beginning to show
red buds of new life,
this is how I give
you my willingness to live
with you one more year.

February 27, 2011 4:08 AM

Sunday, November 15, 2015

State Of The Union - A Magpie Tale

I turned seventy
and you gave me a giraffe,
and the cat gave me
nothing as is her
usual daily practice.
She did deign to sleep
beside me down by
my left knee when I
took my morning nap.

You've started the tea and our
next meal with the stray
from the bluff behind
our house looking on, rating
her prospects with us.

I can't tell you how
satisfied I am with things
as they are right now
my love, me with you,
knowing how it could have turned
that November day.

‎November ‎15, ‎2015 1:58 PM

Once again, that curious mix of the almost true with pure fiction. The boundaries I place around the real do slip and slide. I admit this could be irritating to some but, frankly, I do not care.

Written for Tess' Magpie Tales: Mag 294. Go there to see the fine work the gang produced this week.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Change Of Season

The 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku (東北地方太平洋沖地震 Tōhoku-chihō Taiheiyō Oki Jishin) was a magnitude 9.0 (Mw) undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC) on Friday 11 March 2011, with the epicentre approximately 70 kilometres (43 mi) east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku and the hypocenter at an underwater depth of approximately 30 km (19 mi). The earthquake is also often referred to in Japan as the Great East Japan earthquake (東日本大震災 Higashi nihon daishinsai)

So I wrote this poem just twelve days before the quake. Stuff crashed down in Japan. Am I a prophet? I am quite certain I did not make this connection back in 2011.

Today is my 70th birthday. I have spent it as I spend most days... quietly. I have spent some time remembering different parts of my life. It is certainly a change of season for me, but I doubt that spring is on the way. This poem is about entering March four years ago.

Change Of Season

It is time for spring
or for the last of winter
to crash down on me
as if to wipe me
off the mountain's frost bit face.
Put up or shut up
is what I say now
that you are nearing the shore
on this side of things.

February 27, 2011 4:30 AM

I am going up to birthday dinner now.

Friday, November 13, 2015


Today. Nov. 13, 2015, someone attacked Paris - a restaurant, a concert hall and two sites outside a soccer stadium, possibly more. There are over 120 dead. My birthday is tomorrow. They couldn't wait, I guess.

The Bomb

Walking down the street
and the shop windows blow out
just beyond my stride
knocking me down flat
and peppering my moon face
so I bleed, dozens
of cuts - tiny, but shit!
Not my idea of good times.
I get to my feet
coughing from the smoke
and dust and notice the blood
on me and the smell,
the angry damn smell,
all metallic and choking,
and the others too,
some still, some rising,
and there's others just moaning
like broken dolls do.

God damn you all to
a special black empty Hell!
you and all your kind.
Little terrorist
prick - this is not the terror
you wanted from me,

it's blind fucking rage!

‎November ‎13, ‎2015 6:32 PM

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Pelican

From Pronunciation Coach: ESL pronunciation for learners of American English. Get tips and advice, or submit questions to help you learn to pronounce English better.

There is a small group of words, such as “business” and “different”, that have a missing vowel in the middle. The word “business” looks like it has 3 syllables, but when spoken, the “I” in the middle gets skipped, the "U" in the first syllable is replaced with "I" and it is pronounced with just 2 syllables: "bisness"- not "busness". (I added some stuff here because I am justifying using "business" as a two-syllable word.)

In all of these words, the 2nd vowel is skipped, or at least minimized: aspirin, average, business, camera, chocolate, conference, corporal, desperate, different, evening (from “eve”, but from not “even”), every, general, family, favorite, federal, finally, history, interest, margarine, memory, mineral, opera, separate, several, generally, interesting, miserable, operator, vegetable, laboratory.

Is it necessary to skip syllables?
YES, only for “business” “Wednesday” “evening” & “vegetable”. These words sound strange without a skipped syllable.

NO, not necessarily, for the other words. Even though native speakers tend to skip a syllable, these words can be said without skipping a syllable. If you say all of the syllables, it makes them sound less smooth, but you would still be understood. However, you should be aware of them, to help you listen and understand English more easily.

I add: "Wednesday" is especially strange, pronounced by dropping the "d" as well as the second "e" - "Wensday". May I opine that English is a real pain?

The Pelican

I will stand my post
in fog and light, munching on
the fishy story
you have told my mates.

There are brittle bones in there
by the fifty-nines;
not thousands-I don't
exaggerate, conflate or lie.

I have my eye well
peeled and still twinkling
all yellow and bright birdlike,
my feathers all fluffed,
my oil glands seeping.

It's none of your business but
I've stuff coming up.

‎November ‎12, ‎2015 6:43 PM

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Sidewinder - Three Word Wednesday

Crotalus Cerastes, the American Sidewinder in her better days.

Wiki says Sidewinder may refer to:

Crotalus cerastes, a venomous pit-viper species found in the southwestern United States

Bitis peringueyi, a venomous adder species found in Namibia and southern Angola

Dodge Sidewinder, a 1997 concept car
Kia Sidewinder, a 2006 concept car

Microsoft SideWinder, a family of digital game controllers
Secure Computing's Sidewinder firewall, which has since been re-branded McAfee Firewall Enterprise, after its acquisition by McAfee

Sidewinder (comics), a fictional supervillain in comic books published by Marvel Comics
Code name for Budd (Kill Bill), a character in the Kill Bill films
Sidewinder, a Thunderbirds machine in the British TV series
Sidewinder, a racing team in Initial D

Today Thom has offered

on his Three Word Wednesday blog.

Go there to find the rules and join in and also enjoy the work of the other participants.

On Losing Her Mate

The sidewinder has
lost all hope. She's distracted
by the cold of night,
the sliver of moon.
Her drained venom sacs, throbbing
from their emptiness
tell her to stay still
under desert rocks, shadowed
and frozen with rage
so profound that grief
rightly earned has turned to stone
as well, no wiggle
left in all the world.

‎November ‎11, ‎2015 9:41 AM

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Looked Better

I don't know how many people have this experience but I know the essence of it happens at least once in every life. This is the experience where you thought you had a good plan and then everything went south, as they say. You are left holding a smelly damn bag and there is nothing for it but to cut and run or face really rotten music.

That's the basic plot of a whole bunch of stories and movies for a very good reason.

Looked Better
In The Planning

I'm on the river
with you in the other boat,
me in the canoe
we kept at the barn.

Not too sure what will come next
from up the far bend
but certain it's no
good news for us on this day.
Should not have robbed no
Goddamned bank and should
have planned more better
the getaway, like
using the river's worse than
stealing a damn train.

Think about that, Bro.
The train goes one of two ways,
but we can go just
one - down the river.

Their blood hounds won't let us hide,
not anywhere near.

‎November ‎10, ‎2015 12:49 PM

Monday, November 9, 2015

In The Morning

Passing you at dawn,
me in the dim light, fading
in, Venus hung low.
Would you rise from snow
like the hare, darting, sudden?
Or more like the bear
grumping out of sleep,
weeks long den dozing slumber?

Wearing red snow boots
is enough for me
sometimes, is a grand signal
of my place in things.

March 5, 2011 4:47 AM

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Remembrance Day - A Magpie Tale

Image chosen by Tess for today's Magpie Tale.

Remembrance of the martial dead... Red poppies are that flower, especially as planted on the field of battle. Remembrance Day is November 11. In 1918 the combatants ended hostilities in World War I on that date.

Wiki says: Poppies have long been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death: Sleep because the opium extracted from them is a sedative, and death because of the common blood-red color of the red poppy in particular. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead. Poppies used as emblems on tombstones symbolize eternal sleep. This symbolism was evoked in the children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in which a magical poppy field threatened to make the protagonists sleep forever.

Wild poppies are confined to the coastal areas of the Western Mediterranean. It is suggested that the wild poppy was domesticated by the indigenous people of Western and Central Europe between 6000 and 3500 BC.

The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem "In Flanders Fields". Red remembrance poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I.

Guard Duty

Flower power comes
from the army of martial
elvenkind who camp
at the base of stems
and work out their guard duty
for the next decade,
appearing in full
dress but with all their medals
absent without leave.
They are split among
several arcane battle
groups and proud of it.
Elves are specially
fond of yellow centered red
poppies, commonly
called Icelandic Reds.
Do not trample their special
beds if you value
your soul beyond life.

‎November ‎8, ‎2015 3:13 PM

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Short Cut

As if the path up
the mountain can be passed on
from one to the next
like bus tokens can.

The price is merely all of
my soul, my hope, love
and my death as well.

If you are as willing as
all that, come ahead.

March 6, 2011 12:57 PM

Kelly Clarkson and Reba McIntyre sing about Martin Luther King in this music video.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Following The Call

The Willamette Valley - Photo by Don Hankins (cropped)

This poem tells what happened to me. In the flat land at the south end of San Francisco Bay where I lived before my two years in Bangladesh there is a continuous urban area broken in governance by the original cities. Of them all, San Jose is basically the southeast pivot and the Bay Area cities proceed in their layout in a northing direction from there. (Northing is a surveying term of obvious meaning - here, as an example, a northing line.)

The east end of San Jose includes what we would call the east hills. They are high enough and San Jose had back in those days so few truly tall buildings that the hills were always on the eastern horizon and so could be used as directional locators pretty much no matter where you were. And in those days there were few buildings up there, the country being very dry and cleared of most wildlife, privately owned land.

In winter and spring the rains are present, and so these hills would display living grasslands. In summer and fall rain is rare. The grasslands would dry up and turn yellow. Living in San Jose, I would see the dead looking hills from everywhere and they weighed on my heart. In the transition from the green of spring to the yellow of summer I would grieve the seasonal death of the color green.

I returned from Bangladesh to San Jose in 1069. That seasonal sadness was a big part of the impulse that brought me to Oregon in the summer of 1973. I chose to stay with my friend Ann and eventually marry her because we went to Oregon. I knew the Willamette Valley stayed mostly green all year long without man's insistence and would have been largely forest had man left it alone. This because there is so much more rain in this land. For me, the rain has always been totally worth it.

I have claimed green as my favorite color my whole life.

Following The Call

Whenever I'm asked
how I came to this valley
I say the east hills
called to me from hot
summer, called from spring,
from green grassy spring,
and said, go find rain.

March 6, 2011 12:50 PM

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Hot Mess - Three Word Wednesday

Today Thom has offered

on his Three Word Wednesday blog.

Go there, young aspiring writer, to find the rules and join in or else enjoy the work of the other participants.

A Hot Mess

Once again I have
wandered ragged all night long
when I should have slept.
No use threatening
me with the consequences
you usually
throw at me, lover.
I am already beating
myself down, turning
me less than human
and more like a damn hot mess -
an unsightly show
of bad decisions
on top of bad decisions.
I am not worthy!

‎November ‎4, ‎2015 7:08 AM

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Early Morning Rain

Early Morning Rain

The low rolling hills
in the mist of foggy rain
that drifts in my eye,
gets under my shirt
and I am clammy like dank
hills could be on days
like this one dripping
past all reason, a torture,
timeless, forever.

March 19, 2011 8:44 PM

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Separation - A Magpie Tale

photo by Elaine Usdin

Image chosen by Tess for her Magpie Tales, Mag 292.

People in my life are in the middle stages of what appears to be divorce. This was on my mind before I saw Tess' writing prompt. My poem is the wedding of my heart with this image from Tess and with broken promises.

I was married once. I would have married again, perhaps, but the two women I partnered with one after the other after my marriage dissolved would not have it. Today, over twenty years after that divorce, I am still a single man but I live beneath the second one of them and we are family even though not partners. I believe I am not alone in understanding that marriage unecessarily complicates things once children are not in question. You can partner up in honest relations of kindness and love without the added late in life legal entanglements piled onto the residue of earlier times. I suppose that presumes lack of greed and having made sufficient preparations too.

Fat Albert was the name my wife Ann gave to her huge white rabbit. She kept Fat Albert in a hutch on the small slab outside the sliding glass panels of her apartment. We gave Fat Albert away for fear he would not survive the stress of moving from Mountain View, California to Portland, Oregon back in 1973. This poem is a fiction, a far cry from what happened long ago.

Fat Albert was the name Bill Cosby gave to a comic character in his stand up routines. I believe Ann saw him perform in San Francisco. Bill was a stand up performer before his TV and movie career and he succeeded so well that there were LP vinyl recordings of his routines as there were of other comedians of that day.

Fat Albert

Gird your loins, you say
through my love of Fat Albert.

My shadow sweeps past
the moon's reflection
on the waters hung around
your waist on stifffened
wire hoops, thick paper
printed like some tropical
forest brushing ticks
from your long long legs.

I do love you still despite
your indifference
to my last ditch pleas,
and now you will, shamefaced, take
our rabbit.

you will treat him well,
better than you did others
we kept together.

‎November ‎1, ‎2015 10:43 AM

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