Monday, September 28, 2015

Wearing Genes

I understand,
sort of,
how the genes work
that allowed for an experienced nurse
to tell from an early ultrasound of my son
that he would have my gooshy lips.


I get that there are genes for that type of thing.

But is there also some
other pair of genes that compelled him
at the age of a few months
to sleep with his arm crooked over his head
just like I do?

Or, years later, to
ask for a magazine while
sitting on the potty
(a thing I'd done regularly in middle and high school
but have since lost the luxury of time to do
and thus for him to observe)?

Which genes
have I foisted on this
poor child,
like a parent dressing their toddler,
and which ones can he
choose to wear,
changing them with the seasons,
fashion trends,
and personal taste?

I see so many genes
walking through my classroom door
each day:
skinny, sagging, hole-y, faded, flared, capri.

Which one(s) must he 
or will he choose to
be?



Monday, August 17, 2015

Negative Narrative Space

don't mean 'negative'
As in pessimistic
Or bad
Or gloomy.

I'm talking about the voids
between the elements that usually command our attention
as the center of illustrative or musical or written creation.

This negative space
is what gives us the two ways 
or more
of viewing this optical illusion:

Source here.


It is what makes the chalice in The Davinci Code movie 
(as well as the book,
presumably,
I imagine in the void of my
own literary ignorance):

Source here.


It is the silence
of a Buddhist meditation.

It is what makes Miles Davis cooler
than what Billy Madison thinks 
because he knows where to

pause

(unlike my own
empty reasoning).



This in-between state is
perhaps one of the only things
that could travel
faster than light



and also hold
the intriguing capacity
of conveying
infinitely more
and infinitely more diverse
messages
than can be confined
in one finite communicative transmission
of any substance.

It's the untold portions of the stories,
the windows positioned within the created architecture,
where we find both
egress from our own minds
and entrance into another world
of multifarious variety.

For example,
I imagine
what Obi-Wan Kenobi ate
all those long years on Tatooine
and how he knew
he would turn a ghostly blue
upon Darth Vader's final hew. 

And I try to feel
the wind through the dry grass,
the accumulating perspective of identity
and its accompanying sense of forboding
that isn't included
in Luke 5:16.


And perhaps if I pause long enough

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Kindest Hacker

A symbol I suggest should signify kindly hackers,
composed of a proposed symbol for hackers (from here)
overlaid with a loving heart (from me via Microsoft Word).

The kindest crook
I ever didn't meet
was the one who apparently
hacked my PayPal account.

The company contacted me
saying any money I hadn't touched
in the last several years
was going to go to some state agency
if I didn't do something with it.

"What money?" I asked.

"The $258 in your account."

<pause>

"Where did it come from?"

They sent me the transaction history
showing companies and entities
of which I had no knowledge,

transactions occurring between a mafia member
and a CIA operative,
I'm convinced,

and out of their sheer goodness
and appreciation for my 
unwittingly allowing them to
achieve their questionable ends
in the safe haven of an
identity-thieved account,
they left me a little something.

Now
I'm left with the decision
of what to do:

Part of me wonders
if it's morally permissible
to take money that isn't mine
in any scenario.

Another part of me says,
"Duh yeah! It's from some jerk
who hacked your account
but wasn't bright enough to clean it out."

But would a second wrong
really make me feel all right?

All this moralizing makes
that part of me that wants
another Weezer album
and a superfluous piece of technology
kowtow to the now growing voice in my head
saying I ought to donate this windfall
to a charity like Kiva
or use it for the family
by chipping away at the mortgage
like a responsible adult.

The possibilities for spending are endless
when it's someone else's money...
or your own,
I guess.

Surprisingly, at times -
but maybe more often than I think -
it's hard to tell the difference. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Attack the Hill

12 years after high school
during this 40-mile bike ride
beneath carrion birds
as I approach yet another
in a seemingly interminable sequence
of inclinations I'm rather disinclined to ascend,
Coach Turchyn's words
somehow reach forward to me
instilling the will to follow still
one of his few but oft-repeated directives:
"Attack the hill."

These 3 words came whispered but urgent
at almost every cross country meet for 
7 years to our cheer-tired ears
as the only audible thing
worth processing and applying,
for everything else is almost automatic:

the pace, 
keeping eyes on the guy ahead,
breathing and stepping,

but

when that slope rises,
the instinct is to go into
lower gear,
attack your competitor,
or attack yourself,
worrying about all the hills ahead;

you need someone there 
to remind you of this
1 task:

to just attack the hill that's next. 




Start of a race.

The high school crew.


Coach T on the right. Coach Mac on the left.


Monday, July 27, 2015

#nerdilemma

I'm in a
nerd dilemma:

I've read the studious articles 
and seen the impassioned chats
about the proper order for
nerd parents
to show their nerdlings
the Star Wars hexology,

but I realized yesterday
that a nerd father is faced with
oh so many more perplexities
than these 6 movies 
and the 720*
possible sequences
in which they could be watched.

For instance,
what's the best way 
to inculcate in one's
burgeoningly geeky offspring
a love for Weird Al?
Start with the earliest songs
to build context, 
or with the latest
to be most relevant?

And what about the 
cult classics of
Monty Python and the Holy Grail,
Dr. Strangelove, The Goonies,
Young Frankenstein, Princess Bride, & etc...?
How should these be presented such that
the geeklets might get
the inside jokes
and know the
token quotes -
those passwords and signs
which are requisite to enter geekdom?

And what of the larger question here about the
dangers of accidentally rendering such nerdifacts uncool
through the double-edged sword of
parental endorsement?

I need some sort of
theoretical framework,
proof,
researched argument, or
longitudinal study
to know the quick and easy path
for raising my son right!

I try in vain
to reason my way through this remote
yet immediate enigma
and see the solution.

Then, in a blue haze, Ben Kenobi speaks to me,
padawanizing me for my attempt to
think my way through this jedi's puzzle:
"Let go your conscious self
and act on instict."

"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi,"
Indeed. This is my only
and new hope.

source here


*Thanks are due to my brother-in-law David Jensen, a math teacher, for confirming this number. What a travesty it would've been to include an inaccurate calculation in such a nerdy poem. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Sound of (Wind in the) Music

Whenever I play certain songs
on the piano,
I hear wind
moving through trees

and feel it moving through
lungs,
blowing always from the right,
leaning me left.

This phenomenon does not occur
because the piano is 
next to the front bay window that
looks out on three 80-foot silver maples.

And, no, the rustling of those
imagined leaves
does not coincide with the
music's crescendos and decrescendos.

It just
comes,
as if I were a limb
of some larger thing
being moved. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Lego Limericks (with pics!) - for Janette

My son's into Lego constructions.
He was just a slave to instructions.
He watched Lego Movie,
Now builds things quite groovie;
He makes mostly novel productions.

My son's also into destruction,
Which is a key lego-ing function.
He used to break toys
Like a pre-school Hulk-boy;
Now he sticks with intentional reductions.

A Pete Call original.
Our collaborative effort based on Pete's idea to make the monster truck a spaceship.
The first in my robot series - Noodle Arms.
How Santa mines those diamonds for expensive jewelry.



A landspeeder we made together.
Another Pete Call original.


Some sort of puttering spaceship. 
A duck. By Pete.




Part 2 of my robot series - Near-sighted Dog. 


Pete's magnum opus - an homage to the Power Ranger Megazord.



Monday, July 6, 2015

Haikus for Baby Wearing

Mom is gone, so I,
Dad, scrambling for you to nap,
strap you in. We waltz.

You won't fall asleep.
I nestle you in and walk
then sit. We both snore.

Strapping you on and
sashaying 'round while it rains.
Dew drops cuddling.

My stubble scratched you;
now we're even - your duck fluff
keeps tickling my chin.

My bro and I wearing our babies.
Photo from my wife - Kim Call - here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Owl Pelletry

It was conveniently intermission -
that glorified term for a potty break -
and my wife called
to see when I would be returning
from your poetry reading
and to inform me that my son
(having fallen asleep in the car
and thus
skipped his pre-sleep poop)
had recently rolled out of bed
and defecated on the floor.

I bade you and the other poet I heard
an urgent farewell,
laughingly recounting the anecdote
and confiding I'd probably be inspired
en route home
to write a poem about this incident.

You said, also laughingly,
that you'd like to read it.

I don't know if you were serious,
so I hope this doesn't stink,
this extrusion of my own orifice,
this log entry of my own experiences...
for I found upon driven consideration
that my son's performance
and my own poetry production
were cut from the same cloth,
woven of the same warp and weft
since they are
natural byproducts of the
physical and mental digestive processes
respectively.

But pondering this parallel
threw me askew into a perpendicular
train of thought:
Perhaps this penchant for propogating poetry
is more akin to the owl pellet than the child turdlet:

I mean, owls, like people, have means for excreting
that which they have digested,
having sucked all the nutrients out,
but owls also have a means for expelling
those substances which they have swallowed whole
and cannot digest (i.e., bones, fur, and the like).

And isn't that what this and many poems are -
regurgitations of undigested incidents,
things we haven't yet figured out how
to suck the meaningful nutrients from?

And some poor sap,
in some lab or classroom,
is left to dissect it,
noting the skeletons we've spewed
and inferring what they will
about our mental -
and sometimes physical -
diets.

Source here.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Pete's First Purchase



His whole life,
Pete's income from holidays and birthdays
has been hastily stashed into his piggy bank.

The recent $5 from Great Grandma,
though,
came with firm instructions to be spent,
not saved.

Like any good son of mine would do,
he eventually narrowed down his options
to 2 small character cars:
Yoda or Darth Vader.

Alas,
falling victim to the quick and easy path,
he chose the sleeker,
seemingly swifter
Lord of the Sith.

At home, he and Vader had many
hot wheeled pursuits
of me and the Chewbacca car
till we were all out of gas.

Before bedtime, he announced
he was going to sleep with
Darth Vader.

What an odd thing to say.

I suppressed my laughter,
trying to replace the image of
Pete snuggled up next to a
7-foot, black-cloaked machine-man
with what I knew
he intended.

Later that night,
when he stumbled out of bed to go potty,
the car still clutched in his fingers,
I realized that,
by virtue of cuddling up with him,
I had been kind of like
the Darth Vader
in the picture I'd previously had.

Then, as if by a jolt of
force lightning,
I realized that my previous conception of
"Return of the Jedi" could be totally wrong:

I'd always perceived it through 
Luke's perspective -
the jedi returning to conquer the Empire 
after it had struck back
at his new hope.

But,
perhaps,
I thought as I was looking through
Vader's helmet for the first time,
the title could refer to
Anakan returning as a jedi
after a long stint on the dark side.

Duh.

It made me wonder,
if in a hexalogy,
or any creative work,
a character switches from
protagonist to antagonist
and perhaps back again
or vice versa,
what do you call that?

Do they cancel out into
"neutragonist"
or combine into
"bitagonist"?

Are there creative works
where someone fills both rolls
simultaneously?
What would that be?

What if a bad character 
brings about good
unknowingly
or vice versa?

These are the $5 questions
of life,
or at least mine,
as I try to use the white noise
of my breathing apparatus
to lull young Luke to sleep,
resisting the urge
to force-choke the front yard
woodpecker.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Cell Phone Contact List

Source here.

My wife keeps telling me,
Whenever she borrows my phone,
That I need to clean out
My contact list.

But I can't.

It's like cutting 
Some sort of cellular
Umbilical cord -
An essential connection I have
With people who are all but
Strangers at this point.

To delete them would be
To remove another straw
From the nest I build 
To comfort myself
That I exist and matter.

I know - I can find them on
Social media,
But that's so
Anti-social.

I recognize this is the mentality
Of a digital and relational
Pack rat,
But I grimace at the thought
Of despoiling the archaeological
Alphabetical sedimentation
Of a veritable life writ large
In a column of 10-digit sequences.

I scroll through it, remembering...

My student teaching mentor,
Several college project partners,
Bus drivers from field trips long past,
The bishop from my last congregation,
Some guy I don't even remember,
Younger siblings filed under an older sibling's name,
That club sponsor who quit,
Old landlords,
A young man I tutored, now in prison,
Dead relatives and friends,
Accidental and confusing duplicates,
The Muncie, IN Boy Scout office,
Coworkers fired for sexual harassment,
Neighbors long since moved,
Families who looked after me on my mission,
"Directory Assistance" whatever that means,
4 Robs,
Friends gone off the deep end,
Former professors,
People with wrong last names listed,
Nursing homes,
My wife's old boss,

And you.

There you were - 
Right between the old flame
And the new department head.

So I called you
To reminisce on the old days
And catch up.

But you just sat silent,
Perhaps wondering,
"Who is this guy?"

"Phil.
Phil Call,"
I explained.

"He doesn't live here anymore,"
You misunderstandingly pretended.

Trying to cover for this faux pas,
I responded,
"Well, if you see him,
Could you let him know I called?"

"Sure," you fakely reassured.
"Sure."

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My First Purchase

The first item I remember purchasing
with my own $10
was an utter disappointment.

The commercials pitched it as
one exhilerating adventure
after another.

To my surprise and dismay,
it was just a small plastic set of
figurines,
not from
a long time ago
in a galaxy far, far away,
but from China.

And apparently,
the fanfare,
special effects,
and nerdy friends
advertised in the commercial
were sold separately,
presumably also
manufactured in China.

I've held onto it for
two decades,
partly out of nostaliga,
I suppose,
and part pack rat,
and later,
part reminder of the chicanery of the
marketing establishment
and my own resolve to resist such.

But,
Pete saw it a while back
and wanted to play with it.

The way he
animated the characters and
lived and relived the conflicts
on this tiny world
weighted it with such import
that I found myself
sucked into the narratvies
by its new-found gravitational pull -
playing as I suppose
I had imagined myself
to be able to play
when I had bought it:
Side-by-side with Wicket W. Warrick
on Endor.

I was surprised again
- though this time in reverse -
that the marketers hadn't
completely lied
in their depiction
of unabashed toy joy -
they'd just misrepresented,
and neglected to include in the instructions,
how to glean the maximum glee from it.

Despite this gross oversight,
I've decided to take the high ground
and not sue.


Monday, April 13, 2015

A Kite Line




When we stepped into the backyard,
My son, Pete, and I,
With the kite,
My wife, Kim, warned us,
"Don't get it caught in the tree."

Now that you know
How this story will end,
Let me fill in a few details
And the inevitable
Deeper
(or in this case, Higher)
Meaning.

We really flew it quite well,
Avoiding the tree during gusts
By stepping swiftly aside,
Until Pete had the idea
To fly it atop the playset,
Which was too close to the tree
And too fenced in
To allow for any quick maneuvers,
But 30 minutes of successful kite-flying
Had made us arrogant
And perhaps a bit hungry for danger.

It caught first on a side branch
From what I unsuccessfully tried
To convince Kim was a freak wind.

I didn't know whether to pull tight
And risk breaking the line,
Or to let loose
Risking further entanglements.

Either option seemed
Equally likely to produce both
Extremes of possible outcomes. 

I let loose,
And it went higher,
Eventually spider-webbing itself
Stickily into more branches,
At which sordid moment
I did what any self-respecting
English major would do:
I started composing this poem
And took some pictures
To accompany it.

Yes, it's still in the tree.
Thanks for asking.

Once upon a time,
My dad told me,
Several years after the fact,
Of how a sibling of mine
Had become a bit
Tangled,
Not terribly bad,
Just a bit.

And he contemplated reining in with terror,
Controlling and constricting
Until immediate safety was secured
But the long-term,
Thread-thin at times,
Father-child relationship almost certainly severed.

He said he had felt,
Upon praying about it,
That his only hope,
His only link
Was that kite-line-thin love.

So, he just held it,
Firm and present,
But not forceful,
And that sibling's soaring fine now.

But if our muddled up efforts
Still result in the 50/50 chance of getting
Even more stuck
50 feet up,
There's always the route
Pete keeps exhorting me to take
But my manliness keeps
Preventing me from pursuing:

Call the fire department - 
They'll don their red gear,
Cross town,
Raise themselves up on that tree,
And descend back below 
To allow that kite to rise up again,
All for free,
I believe. 

Now, if I could only remember
Their number...


Friday, April 3, 2015

Walking on Water

With the story
Of Peter walking on water,
We often think of the lesson
Learned by his falling into the sea,
Becoming afraid of the storm
And taking his eyes off the Lord.

And indeed,
It's good to learn
From others' failures.

But what about his reasons and success?
After all, he's the second
And only other person
Besides Christ
In the history of the world
To walk on water.

I always wondered why he asked
The Lord to bid him to come to him -
Was it because he wanted to walk on water, too?
Was it because he just wanted to be with the Lord?

I think it might be because
He felt safer standing on the surface of even a tempestuous sea with the Savior
Than he did sticking with the standard style of sea stability during storms in his day.

There was no commandment for Peter -
And is none for any of us -
To walk on water,
To do something
No one has done before,
Especially something that breaks
Some previously perceived physical law or
Limit to human capacity.

But he still did it.
Some mix of personal motive
And the Spirit's prompting.

So, perhaps,
When our own storms rage
Or when we insert ourselves in the storms of others
Either out of stewardship or friendship,
Perhaps we should
Abandon the ship
Of conventional certitude
About what the problem and/or solution is,
Espying where the Savior is
And striving for his position
No matter how precariously impossible
It may appear to reach
Or stay
There.

Not being bound by laws of nature or norm -
But not breaking them either -
Only
Transcending.

And, inevitably,
We'll fall short.
But isn't that what Christ
Is there fore?

Saying, "Come,"
And then saving us
When we falter.



Monday, March 30, 2015

Exult

The other day,
I didn't want to vent to my wife;
I wanted to share something good,
but I wasn't sure what to call it.

(How sad we don't already
Have a catch phrase for doing that.)

"Can I...
Brim to you,"
I ventured.
But that didn't feel right.

"Can I revel with you,"
Didn't sound right either
At all.

"Can I exult to you,"
I finally tried
And felt satisfied.

"Yes,"
She replied.

So I did.
Then she did.

It seemed to provide
Much more 
Stabilization
Than usually comes from venting,
Which we think will calm us down
Since we're "blowing off steam"
When aren't we really just
Re-inhaling it?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Playing

My daughter and I play
guitar,
with stacking toys,
the diaper bag,
my lip and bicuspids.

We laugh and connect
and I realize that neither of us
will remember these moments
distinctly
and that's
sad.

Then why do them?

I suppose they form some sort of
ineffable element of our identities
individually as well as
in our father-daughter dyad.

This play like rain drops,
not distinguishably preserved
yet making the ocean of our lives
happy.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Suddenly with No Surprise

Suddenly, with no surprise,
I find myself almost 30
And realize
There are still people my age
Traipsing about
Still unsure what to do with this thing called
Adulthood,
As if it's an item of clothing
Gifted from a relative
That one's obliged to wear
Though it never fits quite right,
Always the armpits sag too low
And you can't help but alternate
Between wearing it
And hiding it,
Bucking up, grinning and wearing it
Or cringing and eschewing it
To the Goodwill pile.

I wonder, since probably that single demographic
And even myself
Who has a steady job, a mortgage,
A wife, son, daughter, and dog,
Still kind of feel like 
What seems to be a later version of 17,
If this infantile octogenarian in my mind's eye
And her motherly daughter
In the seating area at the doctor's office
Simply feel like they are
17 version 5.0
(or 17 Cougar for Mac users).

I guess I'll know someday,
And I'm sure it will seem suddenly
But 
It will be no surprise.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dinner At Denny's

source  here



You'll say that we are indecisive
Cognitively divided
and our dates are really lame.

You'll say that we're stuck in a rut
Like a hazard in putt-putt
Cuz all we do is just the same.


And I said what about Dinner at Denny's
She said I think we did that last Wednesday
And as I recall I think we both disliked it
And I said well than what do you think?

I see you refusing to clue me
Into what you want to be doing
But are choosing not to share.

So what now, it's plain to see I'm lost,
A coin's about to be tossed,
Cuz I don't even care.

Then I said what about that dinner at Denny's
She said I think I'd prefer JC Penny's
And as I recall I think we have 2 coupons
And I said well then let's do that.

You'll say we need to pick a wedding date,
A house, some colors, and baby names,
And that I need to settle on a career.

You'll say the futures coming on fast
Even more so than in the past
And we need a plan for coming years.

And I said what about dinner at Denny's
You smiled and said you thought 1 course would be plenty
And I said as I recall I thought you disliked it
And you said actually maybe you lied.

So we said we'll take two burgers at Denny's 
The waitress eyed us cuz we're in our twenties
And everyone else was a geriatric patient
And I said well that's one thing we've got.














Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Snowball Dance

The old gym is gussied up in too much gossamer
With countless Christmas lights entwined around
Temporary styrofoam pillars
In a futile attempt to mask
Its workaday function
And permanent BO,
A fitting parallel
To the freshmen and sophomores
Bedecked in their
Personal best,
Trickling in from 
Last-legged mini vans 
And a few flaunted sports cars,
None of which holds any direct correlation
To the quality of awkward gesticulation
About to ensue.

Kim and I are bouncers at the far doors,
Corks meant to keep the effervescent
Giddy hope 
And a few other things
Contained where they belong
(Until the fire alarm sounds
And all the unpredictable flames
Leap out of control).

The DARE officer 
Plays lineman and fireman,
Running interference periodically
Through the heart of the
Frosh pits, dodging elbows and 
Other overly exposed body parts
To stamp out the first sparks of 
Reckless teenage matches
And their attempts at fire by friction.

As the dj pumps out
Paroxysmic juxtapositions of
Pop, rap, and country, 
The expanding hoard slowly begins throbbing 
Like a leg beset by growing pains or a 
Zit begging to be popped.

The full-body sequins
And other gaudy baubles 
Of the Lady Gagette elite
Flounce and sparkle
In contrast with the
Borrowed black pants and
Worn-out khakis
Of their male counterparts
Who have either
Summoned up the courage or
Been cowed into
"Taking them out."

A quiet, usually camo-strewn hunter
In my English class
With a reading style slow and steady enough
To avoid being noticed by anyone
Is moving with a natural smoothness and rhythm 
I never would've imagined
In his black dress cowboy boots.
He's short and unabashed,
And his shorter, red-headed,
Firecracker of a sociable girlfriend
Is curiously being the wallflower,
Though he keeps tracking her down,
Refusing to join in this primal ritual
That he has single-handedly 
Transformed into something that
Transcends his classmates and classes
Into something
Classy.

I'm taken aback.

But it is Monday now
And the dancing hunter-king
Is quiet
Once again camaflauging himself
Against being called or picked on.

And the gossamered, sparkly-slipper gym
Is back to pumpkin, basketball-court orange,
Its girls and boys preparing for the whistle
To begin the game of dodgeball:
That bizarre dance that perpetuates
Their ever endeavor
To take someone
anyone
out.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Emergency Room Wait-Time Billboards

As we drive home,
I see the billboard
advertising the wait time
for the hospital ER:

75 min.

I guffaw
(wouldn't you?)
and wonder
what the purpose is
of such signs.

As people are driving down the highway,
do they think,
"Oh - it's only 5 minutes to get in?
I guess I'll go get this leg wound taken care of."

Or, as they scramble with a 
hemorraging family member in the car
do they get to the sign and say,
"I'm not waiting 30 minutes for this.
Let's go home and see what happens."

Perhaps this sign would be
better served
and would better serve
outside of a decent restaurant
that doesn't accept reservations
for parties smaller than 7,
or at fast food restaurants,
showing the difference
between the drive-through
and in-store line times.

Now that's
something I need.

But perhaps it would be
too gimmicky
for decent restaurants
or even McDonalds.

But, maybe not.
Maybe it would just be too
useful.



source here

Valentines Day: 2 Options

"You have two options for Valentine's Day," I tell me wife.

"You mean instead of or in addition to the usual poem?" she replies.

"Ummm... addition to."

"Okay - what are they?"

I produce two fliers - one from last Sunday and the other from a friend.

"Option 1: church dance with a bunch of people who have kids almost as old as we are.

"Option 2: poetry reading and jazz music at a bar downtown."

"Those are quite the options," she lols.

"Do you have a better idea," I parry.

"Well, we could get a little Caesar's pizza, put the kids to bed early, and play Mario Brothers."

"Oh.

"I love you," I say, like Han Solo did in Return of the Jedi
when stuck between a storm trooper and the blast doors: 
part appreciation and 
part attraction.

"I know," she says, like Leia
presenting the solution to the problem: 
part assurance and 
part showmanship.

And if those 4 moving parts aren't what animate love,
Then I'm a scruffy looking
Goomba herder.




Saturday, February 7, 2015

Neighborly

My neighbor is wearing shorts while shoveling snow,
And I ask myself,
"Why?
Why is he shoveling snow in his shorts?
Is he from Alaska?
Does he have a high tolerance for cold?
Is hypothermia setting in?
Is he a mutant?"

These are the questions that go through
A neighbor's mind.

Then I am reminded of
The second great commandment -
To love thy neighbor as thyself,
And I wonder what interrogations 
I should perform on myself.
What ridiculously absurd beams
Do I have in my life 
Compared to this mote of winter clothing choices in his?

None come to mind.

I finish shoveling my driveway,
Or rather, that of a single mother's around the corner
Since a more financially stable neighbor
With a mammoth snow blower
Has already taken care of mine and the elderly neighbor's next door 
(I guess he did mine since I'm the neighbor with little kids), and
I walk past this short-clad neighbor,
Comment on the weather,
And offer a hand, 
Which he appreciates
But declines.

He bids me,
"Have a good night,"
Though it's 11am,
And I'm now convinced 
hypothermia is setting in.

"You too,"
I reply,
Walking away.

And I realize he's probably asking himself,
"Why is that guy wearing snow pants?
And a high school drama club sweatshirt 
Underneath an unzipped 2nd sweatshirt?
Is he a thespian wuss?
And why is a grown man wearing a -
What is that - a Yoda hat?"

Yes it is, neighbor.

Let's call it even.



Friday, January 30, 2015

A Prayer for Optimus Prime

My son over Thanksgiving week
volunteered for the first time
to say the blessing on the food at dinner time.

In his honest orison,
in the most stereotypical
heartfelt tone I've heard
from him yet,
he thanked God
for the things he
treasures most:

Optimus Prime,
Bumblebee,
and sundry other characters
from the Transformers franchise'
lastest efforts to ensnare the young
in consumerist culture:
Rescuebots.

That's how you know you have market penetration:
4-year olds are praying thanks over your fictions
and asking blessings on their well-being.

I think that Hasbro needs to cut us
a bit of a check
for the benedictions since then
that have fallen from Pete's lips,
undoubtedly benefiting
the brand.

Till then,
I suppose my pay will be
the smirks,
side-long glances exchanged with my wife,
and satisfaction
from hearing my son
pray for Deus' sublime
gift
of Optimus Prime.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My 6-Month-Old Kisses Herself in the Mirror

And not just some little peck -
A big wet one -
Like she's trying to eat ice cream,
Which she is as sweet as,
But her reflection,
Judging by the confused reaction on her face,
Is a little disappoitning...
and flat.

And which of us doesn't
Like ice cream?

And who of us doesn't engage in some sort of
Self-aggrandizing personal osculation
Ultimately to discover that
Whatever mirror we're first-basing with
Dissapoints,
Reflecting
Not the finer traits
We'd intended and hoped
But a more 2-dimensional perspective of our character,
As if the very act of introspection for the sake of vanity
Sucks all the Depth out of one's character in order to
Satisfy the growing Heights and Breadths of
Self-promotion's demands,
No magnanimous mysteries or secret successes left in the shadows of our own
Non-disclosure.

That depth of character
Which can only be plumbed
When it is left to pool quietly dowsnstream
Rather than dumped wholesale on one's head
Like an Ice Bucket Challenge
(the YouTube video of mine being
available for you to like online.
I'm already at 1,200,000.
No really!)