Oddments

In search of story


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November 16.21: Coping

I’d like to introduce you

to Basil P. Raccoon,

my resident philosopher,

inscrutable as rune.

Stoic and implacable,

frugal in his speech,

he’s ever thinking thoughts

beyond my humble reach.

The tilting of his head

seems question never ending,

whose answer seems to need

continual amending.

He isn’t one for talking;

I think that’s in his plan:

words cannot always teach

what quiet watching can.

 

 

To be exact, dear reader, this is Basil St. John Philip Raccoon, a gift from old friends Bill and Donna, and named after Philip St. John Basil Rathbone, but I couldn’t tell you why.

Basil Rathbone was a voice from my childhood, most especially in an oft-played recording (think 78 RPM) of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.” Later, I read “The Complete Sherlock Holmes” to tatters, and I think I always pictured Holmes as Rathbone’s character. There must be something in the raccoon’s aspect that called that to mind. The brain is weird — well, at least mine is.

As you can see from this daytime photo, November’s dark side is upon us and it’s time for candles in the windows. Basil approves. He is always looking for light in the dark.

 


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August 24.21: Coping

Aesop says be like the ant,

eschew grasshopper ways:

the ant puts by and plans ahead,

grasshoppers waste their days.

The ants in frantic harvest

prepare for winter’s grey.

The grasshopper, all moony,

ponders the green of today;

in foolery like writing

does he his muse pursue;

he yearns to be a poet

and use words like “eschew.”

 

Many more thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.

I have no idea how he got the grasshopper to pose like this.


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August 12.21: Coping

This unpleasant-looking fellow

appears to think that he

has right of way and title

to private property.

I am sure I heard harrumph!

as I dared to hover near;

suspiciously he eyed me

with arrogant bug leer.

“My mentor was a Klingon”

(how absurdly braggadocious)

“who considered me outstanding,

in point of fact, precocious.”

“Cloaking device engaged!”

he proclaimed as he lifted and veered

to a multi-green leafy lilac

and forthwith disappeared.

 

 


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August 1.21: Coping

Gnoshing in the marsh

beneath the summer skies,

smoked fish the blue plate special

to heron’s gulped surprise.

From ashen cloud an eagle’s

gravelly croak is heard:

“Can the presidential seal

be changed to coughing bird?”

 

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg,

braving the smoke from the west

hovering over Virginia.

 

 

 


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July 7.21: Coping

Street art has found a place

in cultural domain;

the spider looks upon it

with the master’s cold disdain.

His webby muse inspires

despite the hours of tedium

to pattern and to form

with gossamer as medium.

In gallery of flowerpots

the moon and sun elide,

performatively joined

on thinnest thready slide.

By night the moon plucks lightly

each string in placid rondo;

by day a somersaulting sun

cavorts in bright glissando.

Known only to the artist

where spinnings stir and start,

sufficient to the self

is ephemera of the art.

So the noiseless patient spider,

in retreat of sweet alyssum,

abjures the common cult

of crass commercialism.

 

With apologies and thanks to Walt Whitman’s

“A Noiseless Patient Spider.”

 

 


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June 23.21: Coping

Life always was a head-scratcher, but recently more than usual.

For one thing, WordPress got all weird on my computer. No way could I get into it last week.  Eventually it came back but my security program blasted bright red warnings about dangerous and suspicious connections. On WordPress?

I got a new phone from AT&T. Free. Sorry, folks, but I don’t believe anything is free. It’s a flip-top to replace the one that they’re making obsolete. I still haven’t found the strings but I know they’re attached. I took the plunge and started to read the blurbs that came with it. Chapter One: Safety.

OK, so my Mensa invitation didn’t really get lost in the mail, but still I’m smart enough to know that if you’re going to write instructional materials you should tell your reader what your abbreviations mean before page 20. That aside, I learned that I shouldn’t paint or bend my phone, and that no part of the human body should come too close to the antenna, which is inside. Do I put the phone in the kitchen and then go to the living room and yell at it?

You know the rabbits have destroyed most of my flowers. Now I’ve lost the tomatoes. I looked at the poor tomato plants and just shook my head. Since when do rabbits eat tomato plants?

I stood in the vast echo chamber of Lowe’s lumber department asking myself the eternal question: where’s the person who can tell me the difference between quarter-round and shoe molding?

I think there are times in life when we don’t even want the answers any more. A rocking chair and glass of wine will do. Rocking chair optional.

 

 


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June 15.21: Coping

The eye of the hare,

what jaundice hue,

therein hinted

a whole world view,

carrot-tinted,

gluttonous gleam,

taking measure

in pound and ream,

spying greens

and petals fair —

what was planted

no longer there.

A lesson life

has clearly taught:

know when your efforts

come to naught;

to try again is

laudable habit,

but not when competing

with the rabbit.

Let it go,

it wasn’t to be;

the garden this year

is plant cemetery.

 

Alas, dear reader, it seems not to be a year for a garden. Moss roses, daisies, marigolds, gauras, zinnias, lantana, even spiny rudbeckia — chomped. Dill? Parsley? In my dreams! What with the rabbits devouring my flowers and the cicadas dive-bombing me, I think this might be the summer I stay inside and clean my house. OK, you’re right: that’s not likely. But still I’m steamed.

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg and to sculptor Jürgen Goetz, and to the rabbit that posed for Dürer’s drawing, thereby giving Goetz inspiration for his sculpture, glowering near Dürer’s house in Nürnberg. The gnarled hand under the hare is obviously the defeated gardener.