Oddments

In search of story


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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.

 


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May 31.21: Coping

I was born during World War II and do not pretend to remember the horrors. I do vaguely remember Tip Top.

My dad had a critical skills deferment because he worked for American Steel Foundries, which manufactured train parts, essential to the war effort. Those men worked long, long hours. With a purpose. He had two sisters, one in the Marines, the other in the WAVES; they had the same purpose.

Mom and Dad spoke of the get-togethers for friends who were on their way to serve, and who never came home. No one who remained home would pretend to be in the same situation as those in combat, but the ration books tell of shared purpose, which meant in some cases making meat loaf for six with Knox gelatin and a cup of chopped meat.

There has been copious bloodshed before and since, and it would seem our species is hell-bent on extinguishing itself. So we might grow numb to the dying. Maybe we already are numb.

Therefore, it’s wise to have a day to not be numb and to think deliberately of those who died to protect a way of governing that theoretically we value, and to ask if, here and now, in shared purpose, we would be willing to eat Knox Meat Loaf.

 


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May 27.21: Coping

EXITS

High school.

Do the words send you running? Or do you wistfully look back and linger?

I am not a reunion person. I go back only in my head, where I can be mid-century instantly, without having to see my senior picture again.

Those were manically formative years; our senior selves bore little resemblance to our freshman selves. Perhaps no other life storm, except a newborn, telescopes so much change into a short time.

My high school was built in 1914. My mother had walked those halls before me. Only the students changed. Then came 1967, the fire and renovations, and everything changed. So it’s a good thing I’ve kept the old school in my head, where time hasn’t touched it.

The main staircase — all three stories of it — was my favorite part. Each stair was worn in two places, where feet went up and where feet went down. Saddle shoes, penny loafers, all stepping to the bells.

This is that staircase, these the main doors. There would come a last opening outward and I couldn’t wait. I was so done with homework! And then, to my astonishment, I cried. At the last concert, the band president presented the traditional senior farewell gift to our saintly director, as I stood off-stage behind the curtains. And suddenly I sobbed. I was totally unprepared for that. To paraphrase a contemporary philosopher: What? Me miss high school?

But dust to dust, yes, dear reader? The building is about to become a parking lot for the educational Acropolis rising next to it.

My old classmate Ann says it was a dump when we were there, but I loved its oldness. Dark wood. Room numbers painted on transoms. Tall windows. Wood desks that never heard of ergonomics.

I find myself clutching certain memories more tightly because memories do reside in things. When the things are gone, will the memories also be gone? While walls stand, a little part of us can say it’s not over. It’s a nice deception. And then it’s a parking lot.

 

With thanks to photographer and classmate Art Lindeman.

Submitted to Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors Writing Challenge.

 

 


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May 9.21: Coping

The world’s a big place,

it can tucker you out

when you’re trying to figure

what it’s about.

That doesn’t change much

as we age through the years,

those grass blades of life

still up to our ears.

We still need a wing

for safe featherbed,

but sometimes we rest

on a memory instead.

 

I’m not a big fan of Mothers’ Day, dear reader. However, I am a fan of mothering because mothering gets us started in life.

There are many who are not biological mothers but are mothers nonetheless. I salute every one, and I wish a happy day to all who mother.

On a more (typical) curmudgeonly note: you know, dear reader, I hate these geese; I do not thrill to see another generation. It is only with pained reluctance I am forced to say this snoozing fuzzball is maybe a little bit cute.

 

 

 


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May 4.21: Coping

Kirk had it wrong;

that Final Frontier

isn’t some star —

it’s much more near.

It’s when you decide

you’re going to paint

and are sharply reminded

that young you ain’t.

This job designed

by Beelzebub

requires my head

between toilet and tub.

I used to could bend —

that’s historical fact —

but now I can’t seem

to be so compact.

My hips both object,

my knees ping and crack,

that creaking sound

is my lower back.

This be my swan song,

I won’t try this again;

I’ll adjust my horizons

to more accommodable yen.

I’ll hope to complete

and finish it nicely,

then I’ll turn in my brush

and hang out at Mos Eisley.

 

 

May the 4th be with you, dear reader!

And, yes, I’ve mixed Star Wars with Star Trek. Maybe poetic license is the REAL final frontier. I should have thrown in a Captain Video secret decoder ring.

 

 


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April 28.21: Coping

The frizble connects to the whatnot,

the whozzis fits under the thing,

don’t ever mistake the doohickey

for the updated technomajing.

Thus is this whatchamacallit

in aperture, appendage, and bloat

an eloquent manifestation

of gibberish with which I am smote.

It’s the shape of my grandchildren’s planet,

a world they inhabit with ease,

conversing in hieroglyphed newspeak,

fluent in emojieese.

Their view of the world is brand new,

just the way that it really should be;

I grudgingly grant I am miffed

that it gets along fine without me.

 

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.

 

 


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April 14.21: Coping

I hate the isolation,

the sameness of the days,

the clouds of obfuscation

that politicians raise.

I hate the guns and beatings,

our bloody violent spate,

the toxic finger-pointing —

in sum, I hate the hate.

My scowl has been perfected,

my grumpiness assured,

my energy and spirit

effectively tonsured.

That is why the pansy

is at my closed front door,

hermetically sealed

against the global gore.

Such little flower that nods

congenial purple hope

can compensate for certain

resident misanthrope.

So if there’s a cheery face

as my homey welcome sign,

you know that it’s the pansy’s;

it most surely isn’t mine.

 

 


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April 7.21: Coping

Until the next pandemic

we’ll pack our masks away;

I’ve no idea when,

but it will be some day.

They’ll go into the drawer

inscribed The Fibber McGee,

where souvenirs and remnants

await next century.

When comes that barefaced day

we hug with glad impunity,

when everyone is safe

with ’round-the globe immunity,

I think that I might feel

a twinge of slight regret

and miss that unloved sign

of one-for-all mindset.

I’ll miss the muffled greeting of

“Hey, I like your mask!”

acclaimed by passerby

I didn’t even ask.

And then I must return

to pre-pandemic place

where no one ever hails me

with “Hey, I like your face!”