Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Cryptic Advice

“Remember, Jimmy,
NEVER marry a catholic!”
The joy of a Mother always
ready with cryptic advice.

“Great, Mom.” I keep the rest
of my words in my head.
As if I care about marriage. And, let’s be
honest I have no idea what a catholic is.

But I was ten, maybe eleven, and curious.
So, next trip to Fred’s I wander the aisles.
Produce, dairy, cereal and bread.
Honest. I tried, really hard.

No luck, wasted effort. I was
unable to find a “catholic.”
Try as I might I couldn’t figure out
what color they were.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Continue my way home

Heading north out of Oak Harbor
traffic is squeezing from four lanes to two.
I give way to a logging truck.
Could have pushed and
beat him through the funnel.
But, true to self, I let him go.

Chunky, dark bark surrounds
damp, shiny rings of timber,
glowing with the orange of a perfect setting sun.
I have no clue what grows on Whidbey.
Maybe it came on the ferry from the peninsula.
Seems I should know my trees.

There’s the story of the day the Grandfather I never knew
didn’t come home from working in the woods,
resulting in seventy-five plus years of my Mother
floundering as a rootless soul.

I remember the family buzz
when Uncle Earl, his hard hat catching a glint of sun,
had his picture in National Geographic, The National Geographic,
reaching deep into the wedge of an imposing redwood.

And then that tale of Grandpa S. developing
the process that made Pres-to-Logs.
He did the work, company got the credit
and the money. Not sure they still make Presto-Logs.

After a few miles the truck
edges to the shoulder.
I pass, make momentary eye contact,
acknowledge the kindness, and continue my way home.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

requiem for (too) many

born on the wrong side of town
to the wrong parents
went to the wrong schools, when we went,
took the wrong classes, rarely paid attention,
and never did the dumbass work
hung out with the wrong crowd
people said the Army’d shape us up, nice try,
getting kicked out was easier than getting in
married a few times, cut and ran,
quit bothering with the details
had some shitty jobs, thankfully we
were usually fired before we decided to quit
lost years to bad habits and so-called friends,
only kind of either we ever had
found Jesus, a bunch of times,
some for conscience, others for convenience
had kids we never knew, who were smart enough,
to not waste time getting to know us
stayed out of jail, some of the time
left no property, no money
maybe memories 
we must all leave memories
maybe a few good ones
with someone, somewhere...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Make a difference?

mom went to Seattle

they said it was because
the hospital in Bellingham
isn't big enough

and now i'm supposed to sit 
in a too small desk and listen to
a teacher talk and talk and talk
about manifest destiny,
or habitats and ecosystems
or, worse yet,
variables, equations and functions

as if i believe
any of this stuff will make 
a difference in my life

For World Poetry Day 2016

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Thankfully our love outlasts our cars

Got the ’62 Bug about the time we started
Dating. Used graduation money and some
savings, $400 total. Two years, trips
over the mountains to see you and a rebuilt
engine later I bought the ’68 Opal Kadet,
powder blue. Carried us away on our
wedding day. Not a bad car, unless you
wanted heat. First new car was the ’75 Civic.
Made us feel so grown up. We traded it for a
Honda wagon, four doors and hopes to need
the extra space for kids. Soon added the Datsun
pick-up for daily commutes, me north, you east.
Basically a headache. Next the silver Accord,
the fastback. You kindly gave into my dream that
became a nightmare, worse than the
Datsun. Kyle was about 6 months when it broke
down in Everett on our way home from your
Grandfather’s Memorial service. Bob was with
us. I think of it every time I drive by the
restaurant, now a casino, that we went to to
find a phone. Michael arrived and so did
the Ford (Why a Ford?) Escort. Four-door
hatchback, Fawn was the official color. More
like blah. Next came the Colt Vista, seven
seats, but not a mini-van. My ego could not handle
a mini-van. Unnumbered trips up and down I-5 for
family visits and vacations with the boys. Got a
used Honda for a second car. This led to learning
emerald black is not black. Became Kyle’s car
and eventually died somewhere in Oregon. Bought
the Rav in ’97. That brutal year that included my
Dad dying of lung cancer. When the Colt ceased
operation, somewhere between home and Mt. Baker,
I got the ‘95 Tacoma. Traded the Rav for a
Highlander, ’08. 0% interest loan with room for
camping gear and grandkids. On an unseasonably
hot day, before a June wedding, Kyle helped me
pick out the Mazda 3 (0%, again). Velocity Red,
6 speed, quick and agile. Seemingly the perfect car
as we, yet again, entered an era of unexpected life
shifts and possibilities.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/local/article59897131.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ten Things For A Short Journey

Here is the opening and a link to a new piece I have in the current issue of Topology Magazine:

30 years ago we travelled a few miles across town. It was a relatively short distance, but a change of untold consequences. We were leaving a work setting where housing was part of the compensation and culture. It was not quite a commune (and hopefully not a cult). We had two young sons. We were a one-car family. We wanted to be near downtown and near my new place of work. We found an affordable fixer-upper, in an era of high interest rates.
We soon learned that the public school, about two blocks away, was the unofficial center of a tight knit neighborhood. Our new address put us in between the center of downtown and the interstate, about a mile from each. In the three decades we have lived here, we have raised our children, lived in two homes within a half-mile of each other and transitioned though a number of life and career shifts.
Bellingham has continued to morph and grow over the years. We have seen the loss of a major employer with the closing of the pulp mill. We have lived through the coming of a regional mall resulting in the near death and eventual rebirth of downtown. Bellingham may now have more brewpubs, coffee shops, and hipsters per capita than either Portland or Seattle can boast.
Here is the link for the rest of the essay: http://www.topologymagazine.org/essay/ten-things-for-a-short-journey/

Friday, December 11, 2015

Noisy Water is here

Noisy Water is a new anthology of poems by Whatcom County poets. Here is my contribution:

Will runners be frozen on their second,
or possibly third loop on the backside of Padden?
Will the Lynden faithful be found
sitting, on rock-hard pews,
attempting to appear deeply interested
in yet another droning preacher?
Will Lummi kids be caught forever playing chase
on the banks of the Nooksack?
Will cars be perpetually jammed at
border crossings in Blaine, Lynden and Sumas?
Will newborn calves be calcified suckling
their mother’s teats on farms around the county?
Will the neo-punk, quasi-hippie, post-grunge,
sort of goth street kids be forever huddled
on the corner of Railroad and Magnolia,
bantering with the spandex-clad city cops
astride their requisite bikes?

I wonder.
Will it be like Pompeii

when Baker finally blows?

Here's a link for more info: https://othermindpress.wordpress.com/noisy-water/