"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guardian Dear

I’m going to hell.
It’s on page eleven
of the Sunday Visitor
circled in red by my mother.
My mortal sins number in the thousands.
Does God keep a stroke count?
I don’t want to go to hell.
I’ve read Dante’s Inferno.

If I make her breakfast will it erase one?
How about if I put clean sheets on her bed
and flowers in her vase?
None of this matters if I miss mass on Sunday.
It’s on page eleven.

But she likes flowers.
She used to tell me that if I fell asleep in the middle of the rosary,
my guardian angel would finish it for me.
I believed her.
If I die in my sleep
before atonement is complete will my guardian dear
take it on the chin for me?
Mother, will you?
And about all those rosasires I never finished . . .
did they ever count?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where Did It Go?

Yesterday, we pulled the soaker hoses and the tomato cages. I cleaned the greenhouse and mounded dirt around the pepper plants. They need a lot of tender care and we dropped the sides and shut the doors and watered them properly so we will have peppers at Christmas time. Red and green and yellow and orange. Like a Mexican Christmas, but we are here in Michigan, and the night approaches,


and the sun doesn't set where it used to. At the height of day, it is no longer where it should be. It doesn’t touch the front of the house, it doesn’t touch the mums in full dress. No wonder they stretch and stretch and turn leggy, reaching for the sun which slips further and further down the sky. It slips towards Detroit and the Detroit River. It’s falling into Lake Erie and over Ohio. It's falling towards Mexico where they can grow peppers in winter. Falling falling falling like the leaves from the maple and the oak we named after his parents. Strong and resilient, planted to survive and thrive long after we’re gone. Like the oak that was big when my father was small. Planting a tree is an unselfish gesture. It’s one of the best things we can do.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Storm and the Hired Man

The wind blew the muck out of the peatlands,
and blackened the sky like Gethsemane.
It billowed around the landmark oak
and advanced up the lane.
Germaine dropped everything and ran for the house.
The cattle lowed as the barn disappeared,
and though she pleaded
with him to stay,
he left to check on the herd.


If it's Friday, it's time for a little flash fiction, and if you can do it in 55 words, tell the G-Man of Friday Flash 55 fame.

Enjoy the weekend, whenever it starts.
Peace out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Occupation

In the fifth week of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the wealthy are grumbling and pushing back. The grumbling started in Washington where the House has its own millionaires club. Now some of the wealthy individuals running for president are calling the protestors unpatriotic, un-American and nothing but a mob. In the Civics class that is no longer taught in high school, we were told just the opposite: that not only was protest and involvment patriotic, but that it was a necessity for a democracy.

Last week, someone posted a sign in the window of the Chicago Board of Trade where the street protestors could see it saying, "We Are The One Percent".

I wonder if it's still there. The protestors are.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cock And Hen

The chickens murmur and coo while I fill their watering cans.
They cluck appreciation for hand-tossed grain and dart to and fro on spindly legs.
The ebony rooster with a red comb fluffs his feathers against the October sky.
He cocks his head and eyes my approach, runs and hides in the tall grass, like a fledgling.
He’s shy, this flamboyant rooster with the gallant tail feathers.
When he doesn’t think we see, he stands quietly midst his flock, head high.
They peck at his feet and pay homage to his plume.

One hen from another flock,
new to the coop and confused,
escaped under the poultry fence
and nested under the Russian sage beside the house.
I find eggs under the purple foliage.
She likes it there.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pay It Forward

I'd like to give a thumbs-up this morning to a progressive who finally knows how to fight back hard against the ridiculous "class warfare" charges from the GOP. In one fell swoop, Elizabeth Warren, candidate for the US Senate from Massachusetts, delivered a powerful knock-out blow against this GOP nonsense.

"I hear all this, you know, 'Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever,'" Warren said. "No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own -- nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory -- and hire someone to protect against this -- because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless -- keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."

I've been in third world countries where armed guards stand outside banks and soldiers with machine guns guard the teller windows, because there is no viable police force funded by public dollars. The government is the police force and the people are so poor, the fear is that one of them might resort to robbing an unguarded teller. I've flown into these places with anticipation only to be met at the airport by men in boots with barrels pointed up and out. At me. That, for me, exemplifies the difference between a country that feeds on the poor and one that pays it forward.

If all politicians elected to serve the common good were more widely traveled, better read, and versed in history, maybe they wouldn't be so eager to gut the public sector.

If you were given a chance to vote for an Elizabeth Warren, would you? I don't want to live in a third world country. In a third world country, 99pct of the people are crackerjack poor and 1pct are wealthy. What are my chances of falling into the lucky 1? What about you?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tell Me This

Suzanne Casamento of the clever Question of the Day Blog
recently asked:
"What do you love about where you live?"

This set me to thinking, as her questions often do. I started blogging in the fall, and I believe there's a reason for that. It's the season of contemplation, of hunkering down and storing up. For the writer, it's the season of the run-on sentence and the convoluted paragraph and the crowded journal page, writing that leads to old memories and new ideas, new poems and new novels. Fall is the season of the writer. But what else do I love about fall in Michigan?

Hunting season, fried cakes, and pheasants,
the badgering of the crows
and the flocking of the starlings.
Crisp mornings laden with dew
after the night of the falling-leaf moon.
Apples on the ground and cider in the fridge,
pie in the oven and candles lit.
Drafty doors and tinkling chimes,
alone in the house
alone on the road
gravel roads and empty roads
Robust people in outdoor gear.
A basket of seed garlic,
planting garlic.
A wheelbarrow of beets,
eating beets-
pickled beets, roasted beets, beets with feta, beets with butter.
Beets.
The gunmetal sky, the changing sky,
a violet cupcake cumulus sky.
Moving water and great big lakes
the ice-encrusted dangerous lake.
Shanties, pasties, and pantries,
mums and wooly worms and fetching dogs.
Gathering eggs and harvesting squash-
curing squash and storing squash,
eating roasted golden squash.
Stately trees and scrappy foliage
turning color, surprising color-
modest yellow and outrageous orange,
stoic russet and flat-out red.
The harvest moon and the harvester,
billowing dust and jumping grasshoppers,
hopper wagons filled with grain,
golden grain and drying grain.
Men at work with gnarled knuckles and practical pants.
Men in hats who love to work.
Women in boots who live to work.

This is my Michigan in October.
This is where I live.

Where do you live?