Archive for May, 2015

Imagination

Posted: May 29, 2015 in creative writing

I am not one that comes right out and lays it all on the table. If I tell a story or write a poem, I like to leave a lot to the reader’s imagination. I very seldom add pictures to my post. Would you rather see an image of a beautiful girl with raised eyes, cute little ornery smile, wearing a light blouse with buttons undone exposing just the outline of two supple breasts. Not Just a peek but enough showing that little was left to your imagination. Or would you rather read about it and imagine in your own minds eye, the color of her hair, her eyes and shape and softness of her skin? Have you just now imagined that girl?

Imagination. You can put any face on her that you want. An old girlfriend you reminisce about, the girl next door or just an acquaintance that you speak with on occasion. You can make her opened blouse any color and texture you want. Oh! Wait! I think I’m seeing just an edge of brown nip……

Your mind’s eye is a wonderful thing. And it’s always 20 20.

DSS

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Closed

Posted: May 27, 2015 in poetry
Tags: , ,

With no words that come to mind
no feelings, thoughts or voice.
In silence sit with tightened lips
stare glazed by watered eyes.
No songs are sung or poems read
all books are shelved and closed
Within the thoughts of all closed minds
lies dead a spoiled rose.

DSS

I thought so much of Mike. My son was named after him. But I had kept it a secret and was going to tell him after my son’s birth. Unfortunately, through the years Mike had acquired many ailments. Some brought on by alcoholism and the others probably the reason for his drinking. He had rheumatoid arthritis, heart trouble and his lungs were ruined by Camel cigarettes. I can only imagine his liver. He died at age 47, just a few days before my son was born. He died in his sleep. No one realized how sick he was, even Father Mac.

Father had been saving and planning a trip, a pilgrimage really, back to his homeland for years. He had just arrived in Ireland a few days when he was reached by telegram and told of Mike’s death. Of course he felt he had to return to the States to support Mike’s family during this sorrowful time although Pat, Mike’s wife, told him that she understood entirely if he didn’t return early from his long-awaited and looked forward to journey. He insisted on returning. What ensued was the most unusual funeral ever in our small town and probably only a few like myself understood.

To know Mike, you would have to like big band music, jazz, understand early Big Daddy paint art and appreciate a soul that truly believed he could do anything and could prove it to you. His gift was that he could make you believe you could do anything, too. Mind over matter was his mantra.

Mike could play the drums in a way that reminded you of Gene Krupa, his Sing, Sing, Sing solo was spotless. When he taught me to set up the trap set, I learned that the only way to hold the drums in place was by nailing them to the floor. He could have been a professional. The 60’s music that I listened to was crap in his book but he did appreciate the drummers and finally admitted it to me one day when I was a few years older. Mind you he didn’t teach me how to play the drums, only how to set them up. He could tell I had no rhythm and that can not be taught. Besides, I wasn’t necessarily interested. But he taught me so many other things. Things that I still use to this day, almost 50 years later.

He was in the radio and television business. This was back when a guy could make a good modest living at it. But that wasn’t all that he could do. He was a damn good teacher. I worked for him all through high school and I learned electronics from him. It wasn’t formally called this but I served as his apprentice and he was my mentor. The summer before my freshman year in high school, my father being a smart man, sensed that I didn’t particularly want to follow in his foot steps in the construction business and asked Mike to take me under his arm and try to teach me something useful. He knew I had a great interest in electronics. I’d been building electronic projects for years in my room at home. He was worried I’d burn the house down if he didn’t get me out of the house and under a more watchful and knowledgeable eye where I wouldn’t hurt myself or the family. Dad and Mike were long time drinking and fishing buddies and Dad knew what I was getting into going under the influence of a man like Mike. He had a lot of respect for him, as Mike did my father. It wasn’t long before I was making TV repair service calls. I was 14, before I even had a driver’s license. When Mike was unable to drive, I’d go down to the local pool hall and recruit a driver to haul my young over-confident ass door to door repairing sets. This was necessary because Mike drank a lot and on many occasions was unable to drive . I loved working for him and his wife. I loved the shop. For the next four years, I spend all of my time after school, every weekend and 40 hours a week in the summer working there. They treated me as part of the family.

Father Mac was a couple of years younger than Mike, in his forties, a Catholic priest, an Ex-Golden Gloves boxer, played the piano beautifully by ear. He knew every Barbra Streisand album on the piano by heart. He was the stereotype and caricature of the red-headed Irish Catholic priest. A very well-educated, outgoing and popular man in our community.

Mike was not Catholic but his wife was. Thus how the relationship began. I also had little to do with religion, but like Mike I was raised a Methodist by my mother. In the Methodist tradition, I occasionally went to church but maybe only on Easters and Christmas. Father Mac, as we all called him, dropped by the shop a lot. Mike and his wife lived in the back of the store and Father could socialize there with his friends in peace because Father drank a lot also. This was no secret in our small town. It was excepted by most of his Catholic congregation and only shocked the Methodists and Baptists and at first me also until I got to know him.

At the beginning of my senior year in high school Father, knowing how strapped my Mom and Dad were for cash, and suspecting that I was mostly supporting myself, gave me a note addressed to a large men’s clothing store in Des Moines. It simply said “Give this gentleman anything that he wants.” and he had signed his name. I had Carte Blanche in the store. Don’t get too sentimental. He knew my Dad was strapped for cash because he had won a $500 bet from him a few days before. Later I learned in a movie that Jimmy Hoffa used the same kind of note on the back of his business card to help people out and to get them to join the Union. I identified with that having actually been given such a note as a kid.

Mike, always mindful of my education, thought I should learn the fine art of boxing and protecting myself. Who else but Father, the former Golden Gloves fighter, to teach me. Along with electronics, bartending and gambling, learning to box made absolute sense. One evening as I was in the shop replacing a fly-back transformer in a customer’s set, Father appeared from the back and asked if I’d like to learn a little about the gentleman’s sport. I stood up from the floor that I was working from and Father began showing me a few moves by shadow boxing. As he demonstrated and I followed, he accidentally tagged me pretty hard in the side of my jaw. It stung a little but he apologized and we continued. And then it happened again with a pretty good slap to my cheek. I had been in many fights growing up in a pretty rough end of town and already knew a few moves, so I firmly punched Father squarely in the nose. The blood gushed from his face, surprised me as much as it did him. He goes running to the bathroom to stop the bleeding. The blood was all over is shirt, white collar and the crucifix that he wore from around his neck. I felt awful. Mike heard the action and was laughing his ass off about me hurting the priest. I thought I was going to Hell for sure. Oh the blood! And on the crucifix! That was the last of the boxing lessons. Father said I knew enough about protecting myself. For weeks after when we would meet, he would back off and say laughingly “Now John, don’t hurt the priest!”. Everyone had so much fun with that one. Punching a priest in the nose did more for my credibility than anything I could have ever done while I was a teenager. In that circle anyway.

A lot of stuff went on in the back of that shop those few years and I witnessed them usually as their bartender. All of this drinking, betting and one-upmanship went on with great fun and in the end everyone usually came out even. I enjoyed the time immensely. This was where I met World War II vets that never spoke of war but wore it on their faces, in the confidence and the hard games they played. As I look back, without realizing it at the time, Mike, Pat and Father Mac were of the first Beat generation. Now I realize from my having listened to their conversations and sometimes heated discussions and hearing of their escapades from their old friends that dropped in from all over the country – it was very much like reading a Kerouac novel.

Oh, now the funeral. Mike’s mother was still alive and insisted on a Protestant funeral. Mike’s wife of course felt Father Mac should officiate. So they compromised. Mike’s funeral would not be performed in the Catholic church but at the more Protestant funeral home. His mother’s pastor and Father would share responsibilities and Father would only give the eulogy. It was the most honest eulogy that I have ever heard. I wish I could have written it down.

It started out ” My dear friends, I have been placed into the most unusual of situations. Here I am a Catholic Priest, conducting a Protestant funeral for a man who proclaimed himself an atheist”. And it just got better from there. The Methodists were shocked, the Catholics did the Sign of the Cross and we agnostics only sat and smiled, “Right on!”

Such was the life of John.

Welcome my hungry ones
my any ones my every ones
my loved ones, friends and acquainted ones
Gather at my table and have what is brought
Lemon pie and honey ham
Scalloped potatoes and green stringy beans
Serve yourself as I watch
loosen your tie and belt
take off those 3 inch heels
words have been spoken, deed is done
I probably won’t be having any
But thank you for coming
please excuse me for being late.

E

Advice of A Dying Man

Posted: May 16, 2015 in creative writing

Seeing the commotion at the jetway, I knew this was going to be an interesting layover in Denver. Gate 18 to gate 86 is not a walk to look forward to. On the way all sorts of bazaar behavior can be observed.

I like watching people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also a doer, not just a watcher. I know how to get things done but there are times a guy just has to take a few moments to simply observe his surroundings. You know, watch total strangers just doing everyday things. Have you ever just sat and watched someone eat a sandwich? I’ve noticed most people don’t take the advice of Warren Zevon. Most do something else as they eat their sandwich. It seems reading of some sort is popular, a book, a newspaper, the label on their bottled water. I have watched a lot of people eat their sandwich and I’ve never noticed an adult hold the thing in both hands and first just nibble around the edges eating the crust. Or pulling a PB&J apart and just lick the peanut butter off of one slice and lick the jelly off of the other. Only a child will do that, my son used to do that. I haven’t watched lately but I’m betting he doesn’t eat his sandwiches either of those ways now that he’s an adult. I ‘m thinking he enjoyed his sandwich more back when he was 7. He’s grown now, but I’m going to watch the next time we have lunch together.

Yes, I agree , we should “enjoy every sandwich”, no matter what the age or where we are..

DSS

Defining the Times

Posted: May 13, 2015 in poetry
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Defining the times of turmoil
was the music, the Man and the long-haired girls,
the sad evening news, the cleansing and beautiful notes
that were only heard on the radio from 33 RPM turntables.
But still the far away soft background echo of bugles just over the hill.
The times defined us
some with Mary Jane, cigarettes and free love,
new families or crossing Northern borders.
Meeting Egg Man and ol’ Flat Top in
the cool-white lights of factory jobs, awakening to cheap apartment smells
in Bohemian neighborhoods.
Always the heavy sadness that hung just out of our reach,
even beyond the Newly discovered black and white Moon.
Never knowing the Nothing that would change our world
and now still feeling the heavy weight and tiredness of not understanding.

DSS

The Robin

Posted: May 11, 2015 in poetry
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Beware the robin’s look
The chirp and stare of protecting life
Perched not far away
Demanding attention onto a dying branch.
How far can be flown to gather,
leaving blue eggs to cool
and to tempt the curious.
Does she know what has been nested
or is she as curious as we,
wondering what life has wrought.

DSS

First Name Basis

Posted: May 10, 2015 in poetry
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I traveled through a small town of 500 people the other day.
I had never driven through there before
I noticed something .
I first saw Sherri’s Package Store
then Dave’s Carwash just a block from Allen’s Hardware.
Looking up the street
I could see the barber pole of Carl’s Barber Shop.
Just past Nick’s Grocery on Main Street
I had to stop at Casey’s Convenience Store for gas.
I felt I was on a first name basis with half the folks in town
And I didn’t talk to a soul.

DSS

Rainy Morning

Posted: May 2, 2015 in poetry
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It was one of those rainy mornings
when the clouds were thick except to the West
the Western brightness made us feel more than see
that the Sun may be rising from the West that day.
A mirror image morning.
Morning would be evening
East would be West and North would be South.
Who knew that our perspective of the world
could be changed so easily.
Just by a rainy morning
when the clouds were not dark to the West.
If only for a short while.

DSS