My father is rarely doing nothing,
He’s always puttering around,
Making this, fixing that, reading, chess playing,
Even though he believes the computer cheats,
A possibility I suppose.

I don’t have the same skills he does,
Energy? Yes. Dexterity and vision? No.
I’d prefer to shutdown during a run
Letting my brain drift to nowhere
Unless, of course, I’m writing.

The pandemic, though, it’s making things better,
I know, how could I think that,
I don’t mean in a healthy kind of way,
This has been a disaster, but I once was told,
“Life is what you make of it.”

Yesterday, I made it bad, dark, gloomy
Until my birthright kicked in and doing something became real.
A little motivation from a friend,
A dip into the well of music streaming, and
Before long the mood was gone, the time passed, life began again.

Songs, some familiar, some never before on my radar,
A smattering of music from whatever genre
Made for a fairly irreverent list of songs
Making fun of spiritual soothsayers and judges
While proving tonal DNA runs deep in the recording industry.

Just as the genetic code from our parents does,
Puttering provided the energy to stop feeling sorry for the day.
The time, wasted, maybe, I’ll say put to good use
Because the psychology of getting over sucky moods
Depends on how you go about things.

The weather is changing,
Pollen blows across our deck,
A sure sign that we are about done with the cold.

Traffic flies by on roads I just started running
Letting me believe the world is coming back to life.
I’m glad. A little sad, too.

I’ve so loved the open spaces for exercise,
Seeing animals come out of hiding,
Watching the satellite photos of pollution dissipating.

I’m glad people are back to life
They need their jobs, they need their routines,
If only we could have this and that.

Running without the dodging,
Taking in the calm,
Able to get out and get paid.

As things get going again,
I’ll keep my head up
And hope the world can meet in the middle.

I like to think,
Maybe not about the right stuff,
But when pondering what life means,
I rarely think of algebra, STEM, group projects or
Much of anything about my high school experience.

Seems weird for me to write that
Since I have a terminal degree in education.
Come to think of it,
Maybe there’s a problem with degrees in education
I mean, with paper comes ego, right?

So, my fellow teachers of the world,
We have a place in society,
We have a job to do,
Our job is not to be an asshole to kids
Or to use our certificates to bully them.

Our job is to communicate clearly,
To provide the resources to students
So the THEY can learn what is important to THEM.
It’s not about you coercing them to do your contrived work.
That’s a pedestal pedagogy and we should be better than that.

I’m lucky and cursed to live where I teach,
Lucky because I know the deal,
No early due date shenanigans with me,
I’m pretty sure June 5 means June 5,
Not May 22 or 28.

I’m cursed because I live where I teach,
So now I know how and who you are
And when I sit in meetings listening to you pontificate
I will have to try and hold back,
To not seem annoyed at how you have treated my family.

It’s unfortunate,
Because your class is important,
Well, maybe not, maybe you just think it is, each student decides
For himself or herself, but it could be so much more,
I only wish you remembered what it was like to be a kid.

Oh wait, there was no Covid, then,
It’s doubtful you had to do distance learning,
Maybe you missed an assignment and got reamed by a teacher
Or jacked up with a more difficult make-up assignment
Just because the teacher could inflict that upon you.

I bet you resented that class, swore you would never do that when you taught,
Yet here it is, in a time when educators should be more compassionate,
And I’m on the fence about how to confront your kind hearted approach.
Maybe I’ll use the system, make you grade that shit, then opt out, just because.
Just because I know that would piss you off.

Hopefully, our boss would ask why,
And that’s when we’d speak first doctor to doctor,
And then I’d go taxpayer-parent to principal,
Then you two can figure out what should have happened.
Teacher, stop making it worse. Your paper is unimportant.

***Note: Remember this is just a poem… Not sure who is speaking… “lol”

I have a playlist,
It’s called Flossing,
Not so much like teeth,
More for that mental purging
That needs to happen from time to time
All too frequently lately with
Life’s stresses hitting,
Death’s appearances.
Music seems right.

I save these tunes for those times
When my soul is empty,
When nothing but anger
Seems to be burning inside,
The dirty fuel inspired by
Rat bastards who make life miserable,
Sometimes that being just me,
Since I don’t seem to be able to not give a F#*^.

So back to the playlist,
A healthy mix of hard driving blues
And deeply disturbing songs
That never fail to make me feel better
With their haunting sounds,
Grinding guitars, and baron-like claw grip.
Each pulling, pushing, and stomping
Insignificance, doubt, and consternation
Into a place that lets me get back to living right.

Truth is, I hate talking on the phone,
Not big with email or texting,
Can almost always sit in silence
Without much effort at all.
That’s why today was tough.

I’ve been sitting in my cocoon
Unable to muster the strength
To make the phone call I needed to make.
My friend’s father passed away,
I needed to call his mother.

She’s always called me her other son,
And like my mom, she’s been there for me
Able to yell at me without fear of me coming back
Like sons do to their mothers,
Able to teach me different lessons than my mom.

I’ve been lucky to know good women,
My grandmothers, strong and independent,
My mom, flexible and nurturing,
My wife, always giving me a necessary ego check and perfect partner,
And then, my other mom, lover of life.

To the end she stuck by her man,
He to her as well,
She making sure his final days went in dignity,
He making sure his final breath,
Was taken while she took a much needed rest.

I worried about calling her,
It had been so long since we last talked.
Would she be too upset to talk?
How wrong is it to call only in tragedy?
Would she even answer an unknown number?

Perhaps the fates lined up just right,
It was like I was back in the trailer
Getting lectured about what time to be home,
Where I was sleeping, and that we better not
Wake everyone up.

She told me stories and shared feelings
About how much I meant to her, how much she loves her son,
How Albert used to talk about me
And I started crying because it seems like
People just don’t share those things enough.

Heck, I’m struggling to type this now,
I was worn out before we talked,
Stupid life, schools, jobs, all the clutter in life
Was jamming me up so badly.
Thank G…, no thank Linda, I made that call.

She made me feel better with that mom’s way.

Something is up with my dog,
He’s acting strange lately,
Maybe he’s tired of us being around,
Maybe he’s tired of us sitting around,
He just seems a little different.

I got him a new harness,
He looks ready for a swim in it,
Like he might fly over Niagara Falls,
Like he could take a white water run,
The new harness is boss.

We’ve been going to new places,
Parks with mowed trails in cleared fields
He wants to run, not sprinting, normal, but trot
He wants to keep the pace slow and just go
Because the new place are so different.

He gets going, not normal for my balled up pit bull,
Setting a pace that is just above a walk
Nothing too furious,
Nothing too get crazy about,
Although, when we get home, it’s right back to sleep.

With all his yelps,
With all his hitches,
With the lightness that lets him protect us.
I guess everything is normal with him,
Except this little bit of running.

Why when these moments of doubt
Creep into my fingers
Keeping the words from leaving my head
And showing themselves on the digital paper of my laptop
Does a healthy dose of Pink Floyd
Make everything better.

The cure is not too hard,
Twenty minutes or so of “The Great Gig In the Sky,”
Blasting on repeat
As the combinations to the locks to the thinking gates
Slowly tumble to release whatever is so pent up.
It always works.

A complimentary elixir is “The Final Cut,”
Listened to start to finish,
The history, the angst, both are soothing,
Somehow, enabling a flow that will hang on until
The emotion of it because too much
Right around the time they start singing, “eff all this.”

I’ve found the last eight weeks to be a blessing and curse,
Cooped up, away from the contagion,
Locked away from all the meaningful things in my life
Which has left me feeling a bit lost.
Thank goodness I can run, reach out to friends in whatever way,
And noise cancel with some Floyd.

I’m not sure how many people I ran with today,
Lots,
All of them were dead,
I don’t say that smugly,
But it’s true,
I was running in a cemetery.

I get weird ideas running there,
Hands reaching out,
Me waking the dead with my heavy stepping,
Them down there partying
In some underground disco grotto
For the deceased.

I don’t mind running there,
I wonder how they all ended up there,
Illness, natural causes, the virus of the time.
They span generations from the 1800s
All the way to now,
Hopefully my running postpones joining their grotto.

So Bayard, Banta, McFarlan, and all those Clouds
I run lightly in your presence
Not wanting to bother your rest
I’ll see you in a few days
For now, entertain the squirrels
And that one crow over by the Mendenhalls.

One night a long time ago,
I was about to walk home in the dark,
When my soon to be friend’s very loud mother
Ordered me into my soon to be friend’s very quiet father’s cab
For a short ride to my house.

He didn’t charge me,
I’m not sure he even spoke to me
And that’s how it would go
All the way through high school
Except for that time when I ate all the chicken.

There are some people who talk a lot,
I tend to blow them off,
There are others who say almost nothing.
They are the ones to pay attention to.
Stew was that guy.

My friend’s father passed away recently.
“Tear drops and sadness have not gone out of style,”
Dwight Yoakam sang those words and they’re special today
As I think about Stew and his white t-shirts
And cab driver’s tan.

I used to kid him about Dwight before I appreciated country music,
He only took my bait once,
“He’s pretty good,” was all Stew said.
That little bit has stuck with me all these years later.
It was classic Stew, short and sweet.

Ninety-two is a long time,
But maybe his most important example to me
Was how to raise those who aren’t yours
Because if you’re a righteous dude you’ll
Welcome everyone into your house as if they are.

Even when they scarf up all the leftover chicken.
It’s 1986 for me right now, Dwight is blasting,
And all I can think about is Hickory Lane and
How Albert Stewart will be missed because
He, too, “Was pretty good.”