Monday, November 24, 2014

Getting It

Peggy has written her morning poem and I don't get it.
Sometimes she says, that’s good as if not getting it 
is what she’s after but today she says, 
how can you not get it? You’re being too rational.
Yes, I admit it. My mind is looking for threads, connective tissue.
But, getting it, isn’t logical, says she. Let it just wash over you.
I’m soaked and still trying to enter her realm
even if my gain is ill-gotten. Aha, here it is,
an aperture where I can crawl in and be there inside her poem
with the grand piano,  love seat and the woman
with the open button on her blouse,  clues she has dropped
which add up to, I know not what. 
I got it. I got it. I don't got it as in the Mel Brooks movie.
Now I've got it. by George I've got it. 
Her poem is about not knowing what it’s all about,
not unlike this moment when my mind is frazzled worrying
about my daughter even while she is worrying about her cat
but the unworried cat gets it  because worry is part of not getting it,
IT being the collage in our heads, the vacancies and scraps,
as if Sherlock's breadcrumbs lead nowhere; elementary my dear
whats-his-name with his deductions that never entered a poem
or could find its way out of life’s maze even if the 4:57 out of
Hammersmith was delayed because of roadwork 
and the tobacco stains on his left hand are clearly 
of a Turkish blend indicating that the killer
must have been right-handed since his wrist was bandaged 
using a knot employed only in Anatolia and now 
if you think you’ve got it you really don’t since life 
doesn’t rhyme nor is it a straight ahead train
of thought which stops at Hammersmith station but instead 
goes to Heisenberg's Uncertainty just like the shadows on the rug
in Peggy's poem and the blue air curling.

Here's is Peggy's Poem


Clues leave vacancies to give the mind
a chance to wander.  A baby grand,
a love seat, the curtains lifting in and out.

The man, perhaps a philosopher, has entered.
Wings beat as the sound of music drowns
the words forming on his lips.  Another first

has fallen.  Her blouse unbuttoned.
He longs to hear the song she is singing,
but his hand reaches to catch the wind.

She watches the dove, inconsistent as
the curling blue air.  There is a beginning with
thought giving way to the shadows on the rug.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Giving of Thanks

A montage of Thanksgiving memories from early school days…….orange construction paper with drawings of turkeys gobbling or on the table, Pilgrims on Plymouth rock. My turkeys looked more like Pilgrims and my Pilgrims could have been mistaken for Plymouth Rock. Then there were happy Indians and a hymn hummed…….

We gather together …..Nothing wrong with that.
To ask the Lord’s blessing ………this is suspect, maybe we don’t deserve it.
He hastens and chastens ……nice rhyme and catchy tune but what’s with the rush? And who is he scolding with his chastens?
His will to make known …………OK, get on with it.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing ….more rhymes but what are we singing about? Who’s doing the oppressing and who is being distressed?
Sing praises to his name ……………It can’t hurt. If we said thanks loads, Lord, for the good life,she would reply, You Betcha, No Problem.
He forgets not his own. …..Is it only his own he remembers? This sets up the all too familiar Us and Them.

So we have the Native American hosts and first European settlers, those uninvited guests who stole their land and never left. Something went wrong with this arrangement from the Indian point of view.... to say nothing of the turkey's.

From out of our rapacity and manifestly ungodly destiny it has evolved that we sit down for a sumptuous feast, by the accident of geography, unless we happened to be indigenous people or needy people or those living in the rubble of bombed or bulldozed homes.

It turns out this hymn was written during the Eighty Years War between Holland and Spain in the 16th and early 17th century. The Dutch were Protestants looking to break away from Catholic Spain. So gathering together was itself a subversive act. The oppression was from the Papacy who saw their grip on Europe unraveling. We revived it in the twentieth century beseeching God to lift the distress caused by the Axis powers’ oppression. …and he’d better hasten and chasten.

In its travels the hymn has gone from the front lines of war, where it is always a good idea to have God on your side, to the dining room table where, in his name we hasten without chastening the chardonnay and stuff ourselves with stuffing just short of exploding. No hint of distressing from oppressing unless you count some insufferable neighbor who wrangled an invitation and arrived an hour late causing everyone to fill up on nibbles. But it is the season to forgive such transgressions even as our gluttony is followed by sloth. God pardons such sins once a year on Thanksgiving. Aren’t we all pilgrims stumbling and bumbling our way trying to make sense of our brief allotment of time?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Life As We Know It

Thank you for calling ^%$#@

Beware of being thanked for calling. Can you Imagine how much more grateful they’d have been if you hadn’t called?

Listen carefully. Our menu options have recently changed.

Their menu options change more often than Izzy’s Deli. Do they get some pleasure from doing this? Pity the poor guy who has just hit “3” and got disconnected because he didn’t listen carefully even though that worked yesterday.

If you are a Civil War veteran, press one.
If you're a terrorist and wish to turn yourself in for enhanced interrogation, press two.
If you are a visitor from another planet, press three.
If you just went out the wrong exit in a parking lot and experienced severe tire damage, press four.
All other calls remain on the line.

What if I am all four of the above?

Your call is very important to us and will be answered in the order received.

If it’s so important why are you putting me through all this? Must I continue listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons? I feel as if I’m in the fifth season. I’ve read the entire newspaper including the temperature in Tegucigalpa. I’ve looked at the obits and I think I spotted myself.

We are experiencing an unusually high call volume.

What if I called back between midnight and three? Have you ever not experienced a high call volume? If you had more than one operator this occurrence would be less usual.

Your expected wait time is one hour and forty minutes.

Translation: Only a loser would continue to hold….shut-ins or people who are wasting their lives anyway or lonely folks eager to have someone to talk to since they have no friends or just returned from their dentist who wouldn’t let them get a word in except for a grunt and occasional spit.

You can always go on-line and access our frequently-asked question page.

What they’re really saying is that there is nobody there and never has been except for the guy who comes in three times-a-week to change the menu.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Twelve, More or Less

There is a certain elegance about numbers; the way proofs clinch the correct answer and how twelve always follows eleven. A foot can be counted on for its twelve inches and a half day contains no more than twelve hours. And then there is mid-night.

However a Baker’s dozen is thirteen and the twelfth month of year is named after the number ten (Decem). Twelve is the last year before teenage-hood but some stay there forever. In soccer and football the twelfth man refers to the 50,000 to 90,000 spectators cheering or jeering at the right time to give an advantage to the home team.

There is also the story of twelve in my life. How I was minus twelve when Peggy was born and she came to Los Angeles to feel the earth quake my barging in on the world in 1933 ... then returned to New York... not to meet me until I was twice twelve in 1957, back in L.A. She doesn’t remember that occasion but 24 years later we met for good. A match when I was five and she seventeen would have been highly unsuitable but at age fifty & sixty-two almost unremarked upon. And now, somehow in defiance of the calendar, we are the same age.

On Tuesday Republicans swept the country…….or did they? The bottom twelve Red states combined (19 million) have half the population of California (38 million). Even with the addition of the next ten they comprised less than the number California residents. Yet these 22 Red states will send 44 senators to Washington while we send two. In other words the great majority of Americans live in urban settings and are solidly Democratic. The Republican vote represents ranches, golf courses, equestrian trails and mega-farms owned by the 1% and where few people live.

In the twelfth century things didn’t look so good either. The Hanks and Dicks were exchanging thrones in England bathing the countryside in regal blood. There were twelve knights at Arthur’s Round Table itching to joust and with a nose for trouble though a can opener might be needed to reach their nostrils. The Church still held a choke hold on the lives of the flock. Yet the stage was being set for the burst of a Renaissance to follow. A millennium later, out of today’s dark period, embers may yet light up the centuries to come.

Twelve has shown itself to be a portentous number. The last time I bought a dozen bagels the woman gave me the senior discount by adding an extra one. Jesus thought he had twelve apostles but we have to subtract Judas making it eleven. Christianity flourished nevertheless. 

Perhaps in two years the no-shows will show up on Election Day and vote to throw the rascals out. Twelve is bursting with the seeds of (can I say this word?) revolution. For Republicans who think they have a mandate, think again. The President got a mandate two years ago when the whole nation voted. Think, Twelve Angry Men and remember, Twelve Years a Slave won the Oscar last year. The twelfth day of Christmas (January 6th) is Epiphany Day. I never met one I didn't love.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I gave her a scroll in the bark of eucalyptus.
She gifted me a nest in the stump of an oak.
I offered her reptilian roots of a ficus.
She called, quick, catch the hemorrhagic sunset.
We gave each other the same book by Wendell Berry.

I led her to the rush of white water.
She took me to its silence.
I found fallen leaves swimming like fish.
She heard a song in the grove of flowering acacias.
I promised gladly to be her mother, brother, father, lover.

I gave her the joy of driving off the map.
She took me to a safe unknown.
I pointed her to white horses that were llamas.
She led me to the place where we peed in the Forest of Dean.
Together we were Hanseled and Grettled.

When I showed her the wind-pocked rock
she found an answering elm in the reflecting pond.
We saw petals fall over a footbridge in Kyoto
though we’ve never been to Japan. We listened
for the clarinet concerto in an estuary of migratory wings.

I led her to the breaking news on the radio
She showed me a portal to the realm of nocturnes.
We traveled to Ketchikan with its totems and raven rattles,
then found our own creation myth
in how we were born together.

Together we died on Oxford Street rolling off the bus.
And died again on a wet road in the Dordogne,
were lifted as the tides rose in the Bay of Fundy.
We are old together in the albums of our bones
And young as the sun inside our morning melon.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Disease of the Week

Peggy must be getting better. Her appetite has returned. I know this because she eats my cooking which only a desperately hungry person would do. I have mastered her eggs at 4.5 minutes. A croissant nukes exactly 29 seconds in the microwave straight from the freezer. An then there was the chicken marsala...

Don’t expect an invitation for dinner. I’m not ready for prime time. Besides, we don’t carry a renter’s policy against gastro-intestinal reflux disease. There’s already too much illness out there. Imagine the days when measles, mumps and whooping cough were the scourge. Now we have new imported worries and gazillions of bucks spent on maladies unimagined a generation ago.

Every sporting event is interrupted by Viagra and Cialis commercials as if impotence had reached epidemic proportions. I contend that our true national health issue is Electile Dysfunction.

Each off-year November, Liberals go limp while Conservative get aroused at the poles…I mean polls. Is there something about meanness and mendacity that transmutes to eroticism? I can’t imagine Mitch McConnell as an object of desire. If there is anything sexy about Karl Rove it eludes me. Yet enlightened folks, by the millions, will stay home, semi-comatose, while the far-right will stiffen themselves and ejaculate at the voting booth.

It would seem to me that the party who authors legislation to suppress voting rights would be enough to excite you students to get it up and cast your lot at least for a one-night stand. Think of it as recreational sex if you must. Vote for your manhood. For your student-loan. Go get your identification card. Take a friend to the polling place. Have yourself an orgy. For virgin voters come and feel the earth move a fraction of an inch.

The newspapers say that Hispanics will be sitting this one out because they’re upset with Obama. Six years in office and he’s lost his sex appeal? The Dream Act is still hot. Know who your friend is. Think Sonia Sotomayor. Think which party begs for immigration reform. Think minimum wage.

Who are these people who do vote? Have they gone to bed with the Koch Bros.? Has the message reached their glands and stopped before it got to their brains? I suppose vague discontent answers to simplistic slogans. God is not on the ballot. If this country ignores science, goes further into war and tramples on its own work force with stagnant wages it will be because Republicans found the way to eroticize their message of fear and loathing.

Maybe a telethon is called for to end Electile Dysfunction. Must Democrats run Gwyneth and George or Angeline and Brad for the voters to get Viagrified and show up on Tuesday?