Tuesday, December 31, 2019

last thoughts on the last night of the year about last things after I’m gone

will anyone scour my devices, drives and clouds
            discovering convoluted stories,
            half-assed poems and sparse excuses for books
            as well as angsty ramblings certain to be
            confusing to some and offensive to others

will people still watch Law & Order SUV
                        saying haven’t we seen this before
only to realize the answer is “sort of,“
but, hey, there are new cast members
so it changes the story, “sort of”

will anyone remember one-eight-oh-one-oh
my childhood home with memories
peacefully soul-warming and fearfully terrorizing
depending how and when you tell the story,
but always home, my home

who will continue to make corny jokes
about the Mariners winning a World Series,
hell just getting there might help generations
of Northwesterners
get a little of that long sought after rest on the other side

who will sustain
my grudges, petty though they may be, and the list
of those, who according to my standards,
have forfeited any substantive right to grace in this
world or the next

            who will find the shoes, still in the box, on the upper shelf
in my bedroom closet
and will they
know that such stockpiling
is a direct link from me to my Dad

will “my” saved money
fund the disposal of my (precious) remains or will Connie
finally take the kids and grandkids on that trip to Disneyland
all because I never took the trips
that I long dreamed of and (only) planned for

Saturday, December 21, 2019

thanks and goodbye 2019

Here it is, my attempt to recognize some of what encouraged, comforted, challenged, lightened and enlightened me in 2019. Hope you find a few that may be gifts for you as well.

Movies & TV:
  • Jeopardy (syndication), I couldn't quit watching James Holzhauer and his run of strategy and guts, all without any hint of second guessing.
  • Dead to Me (Netflix), An exploration of grief that balances the unending pain, confusion and foolishness of the moment with the (often hidden) depth of human connections following a too close death.
  • the Family (Netflix), Sadly confirms my prejudices (and skepticism) about people and matters that have overlapped with much of my past life.
  • Country Music (Ken Burns), I've only begun this series but I am certain Burns' work will feed my soul, as always.
  • The Farewell (Wang), The complexities of family practicalities, frustrations and hopes breathe through a great story and cast.
  • Toy Story 4 (Cooley), Saw it twice on summer trips with Grand-kids and now our 2019 annual Christmas ornament is "Forky."
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon (Nilson & Schwartz), Acceptance, tenacity, understanding, redemption, awakening, surprise, joy, kindness, commitment, breaking barriers... so much of what I hope and long for in each new day.
  • Judy (Goold), Zellweger brings Judy back to life reminding us of her greatness and our loss.
  • Harriet (Lemmons), Hamilton got the twenty and a Broadway show, Harriet Tubman got jobbed.
  • still want/need to watch Unbelievable (Netflix)
  • Blood (Allison Moorer) Family, memories, abuse, love, chaos, music, mental health concerns, murder, suicide and family...
  • The Nickle Boys: A Novel (Collin Whitehead) A story, rooted in history, speaking truth to any who will listen.
  • Holy Envy (Barbara Taylor Brown) Faith rediscovered through struggle, learning, community journey, questions, expansion and openness.
  • How To Forget (Kate Mulgrew) A beautifully written family story that seems to be unbelievable, but must be true.
  • Reframation (Hirsch & Nelson) Enjoyed watching my friend, Mark Nelson, guide this from idea to publication. 
  • White Fragility (Robin DiAngelo) If I want to continue thinking I'm sooo enlightened I need to quit reading books like this.
  • The Other Americans (Laila Lalami) Exceptional writing and a taught story for America today.
  • Ghosts in the Schoolyard (Eve Ewing) An examination of shifts in Chicago school that begs, "Will we ever be able to truly care for our neighbors?"
  • Mobituaries (Mo Rocca) A goldmine for trivia freaks, like me.
  • and a few more - My Ex-Life by S. McAuley, Any Man by A.Tamblyn, Confessions of a Funeral Director by C. Wilde, American Prison by S. Bauer and the Color of Compromise by J. Tisby, Talking to Strangers by M. Gladwell (late add).
  • The Happiness Lab A focus on breaking misconceptions and false perceptions while encouraging action for purposeful change.
  • Mobituaries Mobituaties makes the list twice because there are extra stories in the book and you can't get too much Mo Rocca.
  • Embedded You don't know Mitch McConnell until you listen to this.
  • The History of Standup Insight into how comedy has come to under-gird our culture and communications.
  • Another Name for Everything Richard Rohr expands on his newest book with whit, wisdom and patience insights for living forward with faith and hope.  
  • 1619 NYT series that looks at the beginnings of slavery in America, and is only hampered by too few episodes.
  • In the Dark Injustice drives me crazy, the hope of restorative justice keeps me going.
  • White Lies  Stuff we probably didn't know and stuff we can't afford to ignore or forget.
  • Revisionist History Malcom Gladwell digs and helps us learn that there are consequences for our beliefs and actions and always more to the story.
  • Almost - Dolly Parton's America (late add), Code Switch, You Must Remember This series on Song of the South, Edge of Fame, Conan Needs a Friend, the Daily, APM Reportsthe New Yorker Radio Hour...
  • An Acoustic Evening with Lyle Lovett & John Hiatt, Mt Baker Theater, January 31. Not sure who had more fun; the audience or the artists, not sure it mattered.
  • Patty Griffin, Vogue Theater, Vancouver, BC, June 16. A truly transcendent evening...until we discovered our car was towed post-concert.
  • Shout Sister Shout! Seattle Rep, December 21. If you missed it you truly missed it.
  • War and the Treaty. My new music for 2019 and I sadly ended up with unused tickets to their show in August. 
  • Turning the Tables: Celebrating Eight Women Who Invented American Popular Music (NPR). Whatever music you like I'm certain one or more of these women built the foundation on which it stands.
  • Breakdown on 20th Ave. South, Buddy and Julie Miller. A long, long ten year wait and worth every minute of it.
  • Jaime, Brittany Howard. Read the interviews, listen and then listen again.
  • Come on Up to the House: Women Sing Waits. Some of my favorite and some new artists, I needed to meet, join to honor Tom Waits in the year of his 70th birthday.
  • Father's Son, Pierce Pettis. Another favorite waits a year and delivers balm for a weary soul.
  • and - Blood A. Moorer, Love & Revelation Over the Rhine, We Get By Mavis Staples, Three Chords and the Truth Van Morrison, Traveling Through, 1967-1969... Bob Dylan...
The wrap:
  • A quick overview of my (our) year - We painted our house, celebrated our 45th Anniversary, filled our hearts and days with Grand-kids and we are growing in realization of and preparation for retirement. I hope for shalom for all that flows from and continues in loving each other. I'll end with Worry No More, a poem I wrote in early 2019 that expresses my fears, hopes and prayers as we lean into the unknown of 2020:

Saturday, September 7, 2019

that knowing glance

will you remember the moment
we shared today on the library steps?
you exiting while I was hurrying in
our eyes briefly syncing as we each maneuvered
to avoid a collision with the (obvious to us)
"homeless" couple, bickering on their way to the sidewalk

we exchanged that knowing glance,
a visual smirk,
that on the surface reflected a bit
of “Oh well, what can you do?”
but actually obscured
our shared, hidden,
smugly arrogant agreement
that we are glad we “know” we are oh,
so much better than “them”

Monday, April 29, 2019

la de, freakin’, da

I just heard the news

you got your M - F - A
well, la de, freakin’, da

your commitment to the craft has been cemented
by amassing unbearable, unending debt,
to be endured through a string of dead-end jobs
enabling you to write poems that confuse the masses
while sucking up to annoyingly presumptuous critics

you've got that stash of words
that few understand and fewer use 
to be meted out one or two per poem

faded, forgotten chapbooks
will litter your home, car, and backpack
as you anxiously anticipate the next time
you will see your name
in some obscure, yet thereby elitist, publication
to impress your parents and
be read by those few, now distant, friends 
you met while at school
to get your M - F - A