Monday, May 25, 2015

Everybody is busy.
Life happens so fast
it's easy to believe
there is no time.
No time for the little actions
that can have big meaning
later on, when there really isn't more time.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Yair have you gone

Yair have you gone
I fear, yet I pray you are somewhere 
And with someone who really loves you
Not gone for good

You were a fine dancer and gentle soul
Though our first encounter I took your reserved table
And you promptly corrected that

I think of you, even tried to find you

Those kidneys were failing I know
The weight was melting you off like it was stuck on like wet clay
And someone took a hose to you
The odor of sickness escaped in wisps under your cologne

You shared your stories with me
Your beautiful and brilliant Chinese daughter
Your unfaithful wife
Your refusal for dialysis

You almost died in Poland
Heart failure, you said.
I was so glad you didn’t die alone

Or did you?


Notes about Dave

The few the proud
That’s Dave

Once he walked me to safety
Away from an unruly crowd

Always the savior
Always a gentleman

He could spin his chair when you danced with him
Better watch those toes!

That’s Dave.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Place of the Spirit

I talked to my brother tonight. I will take him to this place of deep feeling.

The juxtaposition of opposing forces met long ago, and
Rip-stop, blasting forces became layered between clouds and earth
Majesty and power now settled in to everlasting peace
Ripples, cooled, forever molded 
While the ancient bluffs looked on through the ash
Framing the moments in time
And changing the landscape forever.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Boxcar Slideshow by MaeB

A misty-eyed hobo

watches a boxcar slideshow,

yearning for lost anonymity.

There is a still bundle near his side

left there in the snow,frozen flannel

smudged with sooty hand prints

and greasy tears.

He is mesmerized by the clacking of the cars

as they pass

Memories float by, a woman, green eyes

laughter over an open fire

His weathered hands carefully encircle the
small package and bring it to his chest.

He opens his coat, a chill passes through

him as he closes his coat around it.

Red, blue, yellow , green, orange...

The colors fade with encroaching dusk,

the motion felt, more than seen.

Westward bound, he first imagines, then 

catches the faint smell of fresh coal and he


He takes a deep breath, a soul-cleansing sigh

of other-worldly proportion, then he gently

walks toward the train along the zephyr it

has created for him, glancing back only

briefly at the man he left behind.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

El Pueblo by MaeB

Fall chairlift ride by MaeB

I’m gliding over an aspen gold corridor

passing trees dressed up for Mardi Gras.

In the big sky a bird flies over to me,

takes a nut right out of my hand.

I watch infant ponderosas

pushing vigorously in both directions.

At this altitude Its life or death, 

come wintertime.

As I stand on this mountaintop

deafening silence engulfs me

but the tiniest nudge

an irony really,  where thoughts 

so loud just moments before

suffer stage fright in such an arena

It's not wonderland, but

                 There's no place like home.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Kenya by MaeB

Masai children outside their home

Fascination with iPad-Saikeri schoolgirls

Saikeri Villiage

Crested crane


Market day


Goats at the new clinic site-Saikeri

Saddle Shoes

don't ask me how I came upon this
but saddle shoes, I wore
hand-me-down shoes

didn't make news
but listen, I implore!
saddle shoes

worn extra loose
were weighted just SO right
that sailing them into the air
just because, I didn't care
whence they might alight
if time were stopped
you'd find my shoe
where last I
sent it flying
my schoolyard roof
the last school day
and still today
I'm sighing
you never know
where comes the blow
that wrests mortality from you
but memory is a boundless thing
and if you're lucky you'll have wings
won't you?

Friday, September 6, 2013

After the rain by MaeB

The mud came again last night.
Blades came and pushed it away.
In the dark it slithered back.

A man loses the road
as he stumbles along,
a fishing pole in his hand
a plastic sack over his head.

A car, leading a rooster-tail of
red dust curled back on itself,
solves the mystery.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Is It Any Wonder? by Zoo-Lady

Too often, our greatest goal as children was to get “all grown up.” We thought that meant we could do whatever we wanted to do.

There are many tragedies of being grown up: Cracking or popping bubble gum becomes rude, and blurting out with enthusiasm is an interruption. Hot dogs and bologna rolls are cast aside in favor of healthier foods, popsicles are full of sugar and artificial color, and soda-pop gives us gas. Passing gas isn’t much fun when we’re confined to small offices and it’s politically incorrect to blame or make fun of one another’s farts.

The magic of rainbows fade from our vision, fireflies lose their luster, and love bugs become a nuisance.  If that’s not enough, we lose our agility to play leap-frog, and tickle-torture only makes us pee ourselves.

Mature adults perpetually whine about the weather, the weeds, or “What coming next?” Worst of all, we can’t remember how to have fun splashing in the rain, stomping through mud puddles, or making wishes while blowing on milkweeds. Those were the things that helped us to weather the storms and stay young.

Everything that used to be fun is dangerous, reckless, cancerous or a waste of time. Is it any wonder that we grow old?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Grief may have stages but there are no Academy Awards.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A dream within a dream by Edgar Allen Poe

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow:
You are not wrong who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream. 

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand—
How few! yet how they creep 
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep--while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

There is no lifeboat on the Relation Ship. Sink. Swim. Sometimes we don't even get to choose.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Peace of Her Own Quiet by Zoo Lady

While driving to work this morning, an old neighbor, Mrs. Bryant, came to mind. She was over 80 years old, a widow and lived alone. It’s funny how old folks we knew decades ago waft their way into our memories, intertwined with little revelations we somehow missed those years. She had a daughter who checked in on her daily, who was about the same age I am now. Aside from her, she was largely isolated. This would have been early 1976 through mid-1977. I only remember the years because that was the extent of the time I lived on her block.

Mrs. Bryant was fragile, with thin skin, purple splotches and tears. She moved slowly and carefully, because it seemed new bruises arose faster than the old ones could heal. She would smile and invite me in for coffee. She ate a lot of fresh fruit, especially blueberries, long before any of us knew anything about antioxidants. Excited to have a visitor, she led me to admire her indoor garden—assorted plants carefully arranged on a library table in front of her dining room window, accented with a sheer white lace curtain behind it. She noted the healthfulness of growing indoor plants, “It’s important to let the light shine in when you’re house-bound.” Her rented apartment was well-kept, exuding the atmosphere of an old classic movie. Her vintage sofa was covered with a pastel floral tapestry, using doilies for arm covers. She had a heavy, solid wood dining room table that was elegantly decorated. Aside from her daughter, no one ever came to dinner, but she did it to please herself. When I went into her apartment, she’d turn off her black and white television, so it wouldn’t distract us from talking. Sometimes when she was home alone, she left it on just to “look” at it. After all, octogenarians didn’t “watch TV,” they “looked at television.”  

I was always fascinated with that generation of Americans whose lives spanned from the pre-WWI days past the Viet Nam War and flower-power era of the hippie generation. They experienced the automobile and air travel coming into common use, radios, Prohibition and the Mafia, telephones, the fallout of the atomic bomb, Penicillin, Polio vaccination, television, colored television, and eventually, microwave ovens. I viewed Mrs. Bryant’s generation as having seen an entirely new world evolve like no generation before them, relished hearing their stories, and held the highest respect for them. I remember wondering what it would have been like to fall in love during the roaring 1920’s, the dancing, lacy dresses, big hats, and vintage jewelry—being courted by a chivalrous young man.

Mrs. Bryant was warm and welcoming, and didn’t make a habit of complaining about her aches and pains or the pitfalls of living alone. Before the advent of cell phones or remote control medical alert lanyards, it must have been a little scary for her. Still, she loved the peace of her own quiet, taking pride in caring for her roomy two-bedroom apartment, cooking for one, and having the independence to live alone. She didn’t pry into my business and she didn’t try to offer advice. She simply and purely offered her hospitality and friendship.

Mrs. Bryant loved it when I allowed her to hold my baby daughter on her lap. Sometimes she’d sit on the front porch rocker with her, looking into her face with awe, as excited as a little girl being entrusted to hold a newborn for the first time. She lingered in the momentary joy it brought her. Honestly, isn’t that the most any of us can hope for in any moment?

Mrs. Bryant never talked about her marriage or earlier life, or dwelled on the loss of her husband. The only story I remember her telling me about him was how he disapproved of the Social Security Act. Amused, she said “He was only supposed to pay thirty-seven cents a week, but he adamantly refused, and you didn’t have to back then. After he passed away, my daughter paid the government back for all those years he didn’t pay in, so I could collect a window’s pension. I have to say, thank goodness they allowed me to do that! Otherwise, I don’t know what I would have done to get by.” Barely out of my teens and a working mother, opting out of the Social Security program never crossed my mind. That payroll deduction was a “given” in my generation, and I learned from Mrs. Bryant never to complain about it.

I don’t know how long Mrs. Bryant had been a widow, but it was long enough for her to have grown beyond the past, and simply lived, each day as it came, to the best of her ability. She was the only elderly person I’ve ever known that didn’t complain about the immorality or disrespect of my culture, the noise or opinions of neighbors, cars with faulty mufflers or motorcycles screeching down the street. Mrs. Bryant never heard the reverberating crash or screams of the woman whose car rushed into the telephone pole on the corner, her face broken through the windshield, just one house over. She couldn’t hear fire trucks, patrol cars or ambulances, any more than the neighbors calling to round up their children for dinner. She didn’t hear the young, newlywed couple upstairs; the quarreling, cussing, objects being thrown, or stomping on the stairs, but she may have felt the vibrations. She couldn’t hear the German shepherd barking wildly next door whenever that occurred, but could have seen him jumping around on his chain through that dining room window.

Never again did Mrs. Bryant have to hear another word of criticism or condemnation from anyone. Sometimes I wondered what was going through her head when she looked at television. Was she trying to connect the parts of conversation she could see onscreen and piece together a scene, or was she creating a dialogue to her own liking to go with the images? Perhaps she was mentally sharpening her non-verbal communication skills. I wondered why she bothered to look at television at all.  

Mrs. Bryant couldn’t hear my baby crying. I think she might have liked being able to hear her laugh and cry, but eye-to-eye, she could see her funny faces, read her expressions, and coo gently to her. Long before I had the privilege of her befriending me, Mrs. Bryant made peace with her aloneness, much like she made peace with her age-induced deafness. It was comfortable and safe.

Today, I realize that Mrs. Bryant knew a lot more about what was going on around her than she ever let on to anyone. Instead, she chose to embrace the peace of her own quiet.