Graduation

A year ago, twenty-one,
The Brick, smoke and swill,
The perfect bar
To cement two feet in adulthood.
This year twenty-two,
I’m in the stands for your graduation
With your caffeine challenged sister
And a show boardering on an
Amusement park or Wal-Mart.
It’s great and your new degree,
Whatever it is,
Would serve you well for a farce
Or comedy of human fasion errors.

Congrats, son.
Welcome to unemployment.

Just Saying 2018

Wallow,
Wallow in your offensive,
Narrowminded existence
Of judgmental thinking.

Stay in your box
Threatened by the evolution
Of words, ideas, and culture
That goes on without
Your predetermined observations
On right or wrong.

I’m am offended by you,
The very idea that your brain
Is concrete hard,
Unable to accept a force without
Cracking, without dusting up,
Without limiting the lives
Of those open to possibilities,
Those not threatened by humor,
People unafraid to admit
This life thing,
As out of control as it is,
Should be appreciated as fresh,
Expansive, and liberating when
The iron bars, small boxes, and
Barbed wire are taken
From that prison block mentality
That you wish to place
On that which offends you.

You are a roadblock
To tolerance,
You are a wen needing a popping
With your lack of laughter,
Fear of the edge, and expectation
That we all stay within the lines
Of your boring butt coloring book.

Allow people to be,
Grow a pair, or
Shut up.

Going to See Sally Mann

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Drawn to light,
A parental moth looking for brightness
In an otherwise dark month
Where rain and wind conspired
To blur nerve’s sharpness by
Ratcheting the tension
Of a life stuck in a routine,
Bored by the same old roads,
Cookie cutter neighborhoods,
All too familiar faces, and
Inspiration locked away in the
Gotta-go-to-sleep closet.

The light was in Washington,
A place that has lately been part of the angst animation
That life has drawn daily.
The streets were empty and the company lively,
For my daughter braved the winds
Despite a cold brought on by the sneaky look at me
Kids who get the look and then sneeze
The projectile germs pre-service teachers must deal with.

We wandered the circles of the Hirshhorn
Where the activist nature of my personality
Showed its authentic self in my youngest’s siding
With the Guerilla Girls and their protest of publications putting
Men out there without a care for equal rights or even sort of equal rights.
We mosied over to the National Gallery,
Putting up with old masters and mocking the furniture
Until we finally saw her light,

The blur, the darkness, and all that is cool when planning
Meets the unpredictability of time, chemistry, and vision;
Sally Mann’s photography, beautiful, haunting, imperfect,
Kind of like my relationship with my kid,
Brought out feelings that have been lost for too long,
Seeing, risking, imagining, documenting
All parts of a creative’s engine, part of a parent’s toolbox,
Each needing to be charged with the soulful touch
Softly reaching out from the gallery walls.
We saw more;
Sugimoto, whose out of focus way brings clarity to mental noise,
Jasper’s shapes, suggesting structure in a chaotic world,
Georgia’s suggestion, Jackson’s overt sexuality, and a treat,
My old baseball coach’s father right there next to Picasso
Bringing to mind the set up to an unwritten joke,
“Two cubists walk into a gallery…”
Food truck lunch, over-priced Harbor coffee,
Some heavy conversation to hopefully exhaust long-simmering fires,
And a quiet ride home,
Her sleeping
And me thankful to have her along.

Truth is, she’s a lot like me,
Stubborn, opinionated, trusting, unforgiving, and
Prone to visiting art galleries alone,
But it’s nice to have a partner who can share moments
Like the joy of seeing huge dogs walking
Or sharing observations on how a father
Doesn’t portray stereotypical gym teacher traits,
Or maybe the way we feel the cosmic energies, mine random occurrences,
Hers, punishments from the unseen, maybe karma or comeuppance,
To shake a wagging tongue into a more proper way of talking.

I don’t know.

The day was something special,
My rambling, so much like Sally’s photos,
Pictures of time, maybe a little fuzzy,
Sometimes a product of manipulation,
Sometimes an unexpected gift from the angels,
But always full of the right light
Like a daughter and father just hanging together.

4-14-18

Last night it was the guzzling,
Champagne-suds, so cold, so easy
Hydration leaving me numb
To political firebombs, global conflicts, human idiocy.
Instead, that subtle buzz had me enjoying
Thoughts, positive ones
Where wind-blown fly balls went our way,
Where sermons on baseballs traveling deep
Found a congregation of contact making high schoolers
Who are doing something special,
Learning,
Growing up,
Gaining perspective.

This morning it’s coffee
Slugged down with a bottomless potential,
Leaving me shaky,
Hands, hyped on caffeine
Beboping some kind of punk rock caligraphy, are
Driven to type,
Because my fingers are too excited to write neatly,
Sharpee lines all over the place, upending my quest
For neatness, order, and control
Everything opposite of what I’m hoping for
With creativity,
With aging,
With wisdom.

Chach’s Bday

Hanging with my kids
Waiting for Charlie Hunter
Sweet sounds all around

Ending As They Started It

there are surprises
when growing up.
some things never change, though.

people find the faults,
look to lay blame,
find reasons in others
for the short comings
of what they’ve sown.

oh well, hope survives,
optimism touts happiness,
neither doing well.

Tough One This Year

That’s it,
Another Christmas season,
Wrapped in the cloak
Of a monster chest cold
And coughing carols
With chestnuts roasting
In snot filled lungs.

Sorry.

Scrooge Lungs

Not seeking sympathy,
Only complaining on Christmas Eve
As the clutches of pulmonary vice grips
Refuse to let go of my lungs.
Instead the air bags are choked with phlegm
And an inability to take full breaths
Without the consequence of a burning hack.
What air remains after Tyson like body blows,
Seeps out producing the sounds of a deflating bagpipe
Deep inside my chest.

To John

To my friend and mentor John Helion
A long overdue thank you and congrats,

John,
Dr. Sanford Lopater, someone from my undergrad, one said,
“You’ll be lucky if you have one or two professors
You relate to in college.”
He was right and wrong
He was one,
You were one of the others,
The unmentioned being a spunky Health teacher.

Tonight I drove past your house thinking of old times,
Like Hindu tag and Jack being nimble or late,
Like hanging at the ropes course having deep conversations about PE,
And watching you fall asleep in Denver with a book perfectly perched
On your chest.
Each of those images brought a smile to my face
Because you are the man
Who made whatever I have become happen.
There is something about the way you think,
It’s in its custard of possibility
That has stuck with me all these years.
Whether it was the conversations about teaching up North,
Old ladies doing laps at Columbia, or just your cackle,
All stuck with me with a genius that personifies authenticity
And the true nature of what it means to be a teacher.

Forget all of the professional mumbo jumbo,
ALT-PE, time on task, cross-curricular integration,
Each of those pales in the shadow of who you have been to me,

My teacher.

You taught me how to understand the importance of preparation.
You taught me how to understand there is more to life than the profession.
You taught me what it means to have perspective,
That debate is more than just disagreement, that it’s necessary,
That laughter does not have to be personal,
And that a strength of character is all we really have.

Thank you, my teacher.

So on this night
When I spent too much time at the Side Bar
And made the trip on New and 926 for the who knows what thousandth time,
Thank you, John, for being the teacher than you have been,
I owe you my career.
No go listen to some Clapton,
Start with “Hello, My Old Friend.”

Comic Strip Postcards: From the Lungs

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” Abraham Lincoln

Nothing like a day
When leaning to the right
Has nothing to do with being political
And everything to do with keeping
The San Andreas coughs at bay.
Add to the never-ending stream
Of hot teas, Lemon Ginger and Chai,
To keep the sinuses wide open
Or at least able to flow.
The final piece of the ecstasy of a chest cold
Is Netflix, made only better by the heavy blankets,
The ball of warm pit bull next to me, and
The solitude of hacking and calling up the bombs
Resting so deeply in my lungs.
At least honest Abe gives good advice
For the less I talk the better I feel.
Maybe tomorrow will bring clearer passages.