Wednesday, October 23, 2019

journal - 23 Oct 2019

- In the 1960s and 70s, my mother's weight would balloon up and down. Up, because she ate mostly fried foods and no vegetables beyond potatoes. Down because of prescription diet pills. 

- My mother always spanked and slapped me, but on diet pills, Benzedrine and Dexedrine, she would really let me have it. Belts, hairbrushes, serving ladles, and anything handy. Once she missed my head with a thrown ashtray by inches.

- Mom also worked her fingers to the bone for me and for the family. As a boy I watched her trudge off in the snow to a second job make sure there would be some kind of Christmas. When my father abandoned us (in the bus station of a strange city) she got a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs. Even if we did have to count the biscuits. 

- As bad I got it, my sister got it worse. She was adopted. If she coughed, she coughed wrong. My sister never could please either of my parents.

- Decades later, my mother old, the diet pills far in the past, Mom denied it all. "I hardly every touched you. My mother was a lot harder."

- Mom has been gone for 6 years now. What would have been her 92nd birthday was last week. Did I love her? Sure. Absolutely. Will I go to visit her grave? No. It's never going to happen.

- Love is odd. You can love the person who kicks your ass. I know.


'From falsehood, may I find truth.'

From falsehood, may I find truth. From despair, may I find hope. From hate, may I find love. From death, may I find life. From the darkness, may I find the light. For these things I pray.

23 Oct 2019

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

'I am allergic to many things.'

I am allergic to many things. Grasses. Trees. Dust. Mold. Sociopaths. I am allergic to cruelty. Heartlessness. Greed. Some of these things make me sneeze, others make me want to vomit. In the news it is clear that America has concentration camps for Latinos without papers. People with their children taken from them, living caged, in some cases, forced to drink from toilets. Today I saw a pick-up truck with a large American flag fluttering from a small pole in the truck bed. That sick feeling returned to my stomach.


journal - 22 Oct 2019

- I never knew either of my grandfathers. Both died over 20 years before I was before. Both grandmothers remarried, and the men they married were very fine fellows, indeed. I loved them absolutely. Their names were Bill Mahoney and John Wheeless.

- What makes a family; blood and DNA, or love and commitment?

- My biological grandfathers were Pedro Albarida and Elvin Jobe. Word has it that Pedro was a cheat and Elvin was mean as hell, but really, no one talked about either man very much. TB took the former and cancer took the latter.

- All of life is impermanent. 

- My granddaughter is a sweetheart. I hope that when she is my age that I am a happy memory.

- I have no fear of death. Pain? Sickness? Sure. But not death. We all die; it is the one thing you can count on. And I have lost a son. Death will be a welcome thing. Not something to rush, the gift of life is too great, but welcome when it comes. 


'The music of autumn, the sound'

The music of autumn, the sound of birds, the sound of trees moved by wind. My mind is blessed with this music. This life I love is everywhere.

22 Oct 2019 

'When the earth herself'

When the earth herself
Comes asking for help,
How will we hear her?
Friend, we fail
To even hear each other.

22 Oct 2019

'Sleep is a visitor, it does not really live here.'

Sleep is a visitor, it does not really live here. It only visits. And when this visit is over, no matter how brief the stay, I like to get up and go outside to look at the sky. The sky lives here. I raise my arms in the darkness to say hello. Night in the valley, as fresh as a first kiss.

12 Jul 2019
22 Oct 2019

Monday, October 21, 2019

journal - 21 Oct 2019

- Here, around Sacramento, California, it's a time for poets to grieve; we lost three from our ranks, all in a row. James Moose, Jane Blue, and Dennis Schmitz. Fine poets, fine people. They will be missed.

- I live in Davis, 11 miles west of downtown Sacramento. In our local newspaper, The Davis Enterprise, I do a monthly feature, a poem of the month. The mayor wanted me to do this as part of being the poet laureate. This month I am featuring a poem by James Moose on loss.

- As a young man I spent some time as a hermit. An urban hermit, but a hermit nonetheless. I would go to a new city, rent a small room, and keep to myself. It was very monk-like (monkish?), my existence. What did I do? Study poetry, mostly. Oh, I'd have a job, and go out into the world, but I kept to myself as much as I could. I was alone, but I was not lonely. I liked it.

- A number of older family members died while I was an urban hermit. Sometimes it would be months before I found out.

- Through the window above my desk I can see the leaves changing color. Why does autumn feel like Death to me? Is it the leaves?


'We were born, and there was no hate in us.'

We were born, and there was no hate in us. Underneath, aren’t we all just dreamers? Human beings with something in our spirit that moves us? We need acceptance after so many years of separation. To be rejoined to the whole. My heart is tired; isn’t yours? If only governments and humans could share a kiss. A gentle touch. There would be no detention camps, no walls. Police wouldn’t come to the door at night if we rose up bearing the kindness with which we were born. There was no hate in us. Person helping person, surely that is our nature. Where we are born means nothing. Where we would be is a matter of preference and need. Let us be newborn again, and embrace each other with open arms, let us know each other with open hearts.

12 Jul 2019
21 Oct 2019

Sunday, October 20, 2019

'May the cruelties of the world pass through us'

May the cruelties of the world pass through us
And do no harm, like a child walking through fog.
May even our bruises and scars be healed.
May the hope for a better life never leave us.
May we have sunlight and showers in equal measure,
And may we be blessed with kindness,
Both in giving and in receiving.
And friend, when the end is near,
May we be able to relax and welcome it
For the rite of passage that it is.


'The wounded have wrapped the red, white, and blue flag'

The wounded have wrapped the red, white, and blue flag
Around their stumps and gone to bed.
They have been given Oxycontin and Jesus.
"Yes, you killed thousands, but God wishes it so
Because he loves America most of all."
They are told this when their night terrors come.
They are told this when the ghosts of their victims
Silently line up to caress the aching stumps.
They are told this when their children cry
And they must struggle just to cross the room
And comfort them.
Oxycontin and Jesus and America,
Arm in arm in arm,
At the head of the parade,
The frayed flags waving in the cool sunlight,
Smoking with human blood.
The slow and empty death of patriotism.


journal - 20 Oct 2019

- A Northern Saw-whet Owl was seen in the park across the street. Tiny little thing. Birders began combing the neighborhood with binoculars and cameras. 

- Time spent talking to birders. Very charming. This was all on Friday.

- I am fascinated by the punctuality of my birds, a parakeet and a conure. At 4:30 every afternoon they both start yelling for their food bowls to be refilled, bowls that are never actually empty. Exactly 4:30? Surprisingly close. Within 2 or 3 minutes either way. When daylight savings time goes away in a few weeks it will mess them up for awhile, but only for awhile. 

- Sundays feel weird since I stopped watching football. Not Saturdays, as I wasn't into college ball so much. I stopped when the reports of the brain damage came out, even with players who never had a concussion. It just isn't as fun to watch when I know guys are out there scrambling their brains.

- The same with boxing.

- There's still baseball, basketball, soccer, and track & field. I'm fine.

- 922 days since my son died. I still wake up in the middle of the night wondering if it was just a nightmare. And then I know it's real.

- It's like a hard punch in the stomach. Pain. Feeling like maybe I will vomit.

- So I'll go and host a poetry reading today. Again. And attempt to be warm and welcoming. People deserve that warmth. None of this is on them. Bless their hearts.


'Farmland feels welcoming to me'

Farmland feels welcoming to me, a green field under a golden sun, or corn stalks under a full moon; these things are a blessing. The seasons of the year, the seasons of the crops; these are the seasons of life. And that, too, is a blessing.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

'The California Delta lands, marshy and slow'

The California Delta lands, marshy and slow, estuaries and sloughs, warmed by the light of day. By the sun.  At night, loved by the stars. Beavers and otters. Heron and cranes. Smelt, salmon, and man. Held to the water, bound by water. Held by the cycle of the tide. The cycles of living.

19 Oct 2019

'As I seek blessings through prayer'

As I seek blessings through prayer, may I remember to be thankful for the blessings already here, around me, with me; the beauty of existence.

13 Oct 2017
19 Oct 2019

Friday, October 18, 2019

'I am searching my brain; is there anything'

I am searching my brain; is there anything that I forgot to tell you? Did I tell you about the sunlight reflected in the morning dew? Did I tell you of the echo of the hawk cry in the granite canyon? Even now the clock is ticking.

18 Nov 2019

journal - 23 Oct 2019