There was a time
I’d be pissed off right now,
5:30 on a Saturday morning,
Unsure about the weather,
And a half three hours away.
In the day, I’d be scrambling
For gels,
Carbs,
Layers.

Now I’m writing poetry,
Thinking about the dreams I had,
And looping an Anders Osborne song
In my head with only one coomplaint,
I don’t know enough of the words.

Distances are distances,
Times are times.
The race will get started,
I’ll finish whenever,
And maybe the rain will hold off
Or the dreams will come to life.

The Wood Brothers are playing,
I’m back in Williamsburg
In the heat of a swampy Tidewater day.

It’s raining outside,
A cool Pennsylvania New Year’s Eve rain
And that delta blues groove is drawing me in.

I could be sitting next to the James
With the wind blowing lightly,
The spirit of Carter’s Grove as conflicted as ever.

The land fit for a king,
Supported on the forced servitude of slaves,
Evolved into a sanctuary for me.

And The Wood Brothers are tapping into that energy
Sending my soul to that place where I care
The one where I wish I could wave my hands to erase history

The history of slavery,
The history of doubt,
The one where my head spins without reason.

Truth is those cool breezes spoke to me,
I knew they were telling me things could be better
For us, for me

That people could get along,
That I could be cool with me,
That New Year’s Eve could be sober.

Those breezes are still with me,
They blow a little stiffer now,
Especially, the warm one about caring and purpose

For I’m traveling,
With the energy of the new year,
And maybe I’ll wind up in Williamsburg for real, maybe not,

But one thing is sure,
I’m open to messages everywhere,
Apathy has no shot.

Time to Clean Up
All rights reserved-Chris Hancock

It’s time,
Time to clean this lot up,
When did the pumps last work,
1987-ish?
Just a guess, I never remember them working
And I left in 1990,
But I think something new should go there,
Another Dollar General,
Another vacant shopping mall,
Perhaps it’s time
To revive the pancake house industry
Or install a temporary ice skating rink.

By all means
Don’t tear this down for green space,
A park is a waste of money
Trees and grass are expensive
The upkeep is too much
And for what,
Some time next to nature
Enjoying the clean air, the shade,
The lack of sprawl,
Ah, heck, maybe the pumps should stay,
They provide an interesting study
Of what is important. Hah…

Bruce,
Hornsby, not Springsteen,
Just got interrupted
By Mother Nature
Who found that angry side
And decided to let loose
With her female fury.
My daughter and I
Heeded the warnings
Finding shelter from the tempest
At the Cheese Shop
Of all places.
Once, a long time ago,
I used to sweep this patio
When it was called,
A Good Place To Eat.
It still is, but tonight
It’s shelter,
A covered place from the rain
That interfered with
Some most incredible people-watching
With beauty and beasts,
Both known and unknown
All who see me in their lens,
Probably under the same
Judgmental glass
As either vintage or hipster
Hopefully not hanger-on or poser.

Damn, this is fun

There are times when life is easy
Usually that happens
When the company is right,
The drinks are proper, and
Stories flow with trust and casualness.

Today was one of those days
When coffee, milk, and Diet Coke
Washed away the decades
Letting time catch up
With two old neighbors.

My old neighbor, who raised me like a brother,
Caught me up on her life,
The best apocalypse cellers, and
The real reasons secrets
Are so closely guarded at Camp Peary,
Which is different in other parts of town
Where pineapples are more openly exposed.

There were lots of laughs,
A few tears, and some fairly poor service.
At least it was a beautiful day for a football game…

And hangin’ with my unofficial sister.

Stories told of elastic snapping,
True life, though, nearly lost an eye
Without any help from White Snake
Or the dude’s wife in Rectify.

Demons exorcised from donkey butt days
Where one man’s old reality
Became another man’s prophecy
Without any need of cuddling.

It’s funny what happens
When the fog passes over Wiiliamsburg,
Something changes the past for this present
It’s less kaliedescope and more elixir now

Imagine being dressed in a bumble bee colored baseball uniform in late April on a Saturday and standing outside a grocery store. Add to that being the idiot who wore baseball cleats instead of sneakers and you can imagine me at ten years old doing Tag Day for the Williamsburg Youth League. Tag Day was sanctioned begging and tugging at the guilt laden weaknesses of anyone bold enough to carry change. Wait, that was nearly forty years ago, we all carried change. I hated Tag Day, but I also hated sitting the bench. I knew that my coach, God save his imprisoned soul (I’m bitter about that), would have taken playing time away from anyone who did not show up for Tag Day.

Basically, we stood for two hours in front of the grocery store by the Martin Cinema and asked people to drop money in our little containers. I’m a poor conversationalist with the people I know really well. I’m ridiculously poor at speaking with strangers, so going up to shoppers and asking them to make a donation for our league was way beyond my comfort level. I probably brought in less than ten dollars that first year. My begging partner was ridiculous. We were classmates and sat next to each other in fourth grade. I was the new kid in school and he seemed like the shy kid, but he raised so much money. It was sick the way he would get people to give him money. There wasn’t an ounce of begging or salesmanship in his request. He just had an aura. It would serve him well in centerfield and wherever else that magic was needed.

Three years of begging got us through battles as members of VFW Post 4309. We were competitive and cockier than we should have been. Those were some good years…

The root words for “nostalgia” come from Ancient Greece: Nostos = returning home, algos = pain (Hmmm???)

I get a good laugh when people talk about the past with the reverence of “simpler times.” Today, I was reading a story on Google News about the closing of the Queen Anne Dari-Snack in Williamsburg, Virginia and I was nearly plunged into a state of delusional reminiscence. As a kid, my family would go to Queen Anne for dinner. The burgers were huge and if I’m remembering correctly came with mayo. After the first round there, I learned to order it “my way,” which to this day is cheese, ketchup, and mustard. (no plants, please…). The fries were a perfect mix of crispness, grease, and salt that were served in bags that held the heat without letting the fries get soggy. A cold soda, most likely Dr. Pepper, served as the wash for a really good meal. The style of the Queen Anne was old school. Orders were taken at the window and customers milled around the parking lot or waited in their cars until their numbers were called. People used to say that it was how food was ordered in the “good ole days.”

The “good ole days?” When were those? The 1950s? There was nothing simple about then. A quick check of the headlines on the front page of the New York Times from 7/29/1955 yielded the following simple affairs of the time:

Bulgaria shot down an airliner.

Democrats were seeking the ouster of the Secretary of the Air Force.

Republicans were concerned with our defenses at home and abroad and the ramifications of travel to the “Iron Curtain.”

Joe McCarthy was either being civic or crazy depending on your level of acceptance of bullying and fear mongering.

Air conditioning was being considered for the subway in New York City.

None of those were too simple. They certainly were not cheeseburgers (with ketchup and mustard), fries, and a soft drink. The thing about nostalgia is that it is a falsehood. We look to the past to escape the present. We think that the past was better, but my instinct feels like we have selective memory of what the past held. Problems have always existed and their nature has always been human. I know this seems negative, but we are violent and manipulative. We also understand peace and the importance of thought, but looking back throughout the history (at least in the way it is recorded), we don’t seem to think about simplifying life.

I think simplicity is often associated with efficiency. If I can do something with great ease, then it must be simple. I no longer have an abacus, card catalog, or high-fi system. I have a smart phone, which is undoubtably a complex technology. I don’t think it was easy to figure out how to install air conditioners in the NYC subway back in 1955. Simple living is hard today. Where does my food come from? What cable plan to I choose? Am I on wi-fi? Is my password too weak? At the same time, though, my car works well. I don’t have to stand in line for anything. Music is everywhere I go and I’m composing this without a feather, pen, or correcting tape. In fact, this essay will go out to the world with a few simple keystrokes. People (a few anyway) will read it wherever they are without having to buy a magazine or go to a library to find the essay in some dusty anthology. Of course it would have been checked out when they finally found the book on the shelf.

So what’s the point? The Queen Anne Dari-Shack was a slice of time. It represented longevity, not the simple times of the past. Those simple times never existed and if they did, to truly appreciate what the times were would cause a lot of pain for those accept the reality of then. We must live in out present and use the past to inform how we go about our business, but we must enjoy the times where we are. Now is the most important time of any person’s life. Stay present and be in this moment.

Do you think Pierce’s is still good? I hear they have seating now. I remember when…