Monday, November 30, 2015

Night Chill


My anomalous mind one day
Concludes it has thought as much
Poetry as it could, or as much
About a certain person, or as
Much about a certain person
Given how much I know or
How much I feel,

Or how much I’ve progressed
Or degenerated in the throes
Of longing.  They have read
Everything I’ve had to say
Thinking now perhaps I’ll say
It again and again for the
Words throb in my aching

Mind waking me when the
Night is in its deepest chill;
When I’ve fought, twisting and
Turning on the floor and my dogs
Have moved away from each side
Till I rise, pull the shade and
Verify that darkness has opened wide.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Borges and suicide


“The Door to suicide is open,”
Borges wrote.  I opened my own eyes
To wonder why it wasn’t for me.
I fit the profile: old and recently
Deprived of someone I loved.
Why not rush off to where she’s
Gone?  “Theologians,” Borges

Asserted discouraged it
To him.  He was gratified
He could hardly see the
Wall close in.  In my own
Case everything opened out
Without end and here there is
Drought.  Brown prickly

Thorns lying everywhere.  I
See them well enough when
I wake.  My mouth is dry from
The taste of words I wrestled
In my sleep.  The river will
Wake one day and rush me
Toward a crushing conclusion.

Third November Dream


We had to move the heavy beam
Out through the door.  “Who can
Lift the end up over the sill”? He
Waited for an “I will,” but no one
Spoke.  “Look at you, the leader
Said, “strong arms and back.”
“I’m much too old,” I coughed

In an old and querulous voice.
“Then who,” he asked looking
About, stamping a foot.  “Hurry!
We need to get the gurneys out
Before it all comes down.”  I
Looked doubtfully at the beam,
Never having seen one so big,

But kneeled beneath it and strained
Upward.  “It’s not moving” a doctor
With a weak back observed.  I
Strained again.  “He’s not strong
Enough,” a slender-wristed male
Nurse smirked.  With all the anger
I could access, I heaved the beam

Up over the sill so the nurses and
Doctors could slide it out into the
Hall.  They rolled it to the side
And as I lay panting, rushed back
For the patients.  A gruff
Administrator said, “you’ll
Have to move.  We’ve gurneys

Coming. I could barely stand,
But stood and limped out to
The parking lot to my Jeep
Where I sat a long time
Watching the darkening skies,
“One earthquake after the other,”
I heard a woman say to her friend

As they rushed past to their cars.
“Do you think it’s global warming
Or end times,” the other asked?
I turned my key and drove out
Finding my way to the freeway
Which showed no sign of damage
And drove home.  “Don’t jump

On me,” I warned the dogs.  I’d
Been gone too long and couldn’t
Prevent it.  Taking four
Ibuprofen I stood in the shower
A long time.  I needed to feed
The dogs. I needed to sit
A long time in my lounge chair

Thinking of nothing if I could,
Doubting it.  They were done
With both of us, first Susan
Then me.  Marx would be
Proud.  Her sacrifice, my ability
To lift the beam, all those needy
People rolling past.  The dogs

Looked up from their kibble.
I knew they wanted dried chicken
Strips.  “Each according to their
Wants,” he should have said, and
What if I wanted her again
Whose shadow would never
Again grace my sleeping face?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Borges “The Telling of the Tale”


    In Borges third lecture (from his 1967-68 Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) “. . . poetry . . . has fallen asunder; or rather on the one hand we have the lyrical poem and the elegy, and on the other we have the telling of a tale – we have the novel.  One is almost tempted too think of the novel as a degeneration of the epic, in spite of such writers as Joseph Conrad or Herman Melville. . .”
    “If we think of the novel and the epic, we are tempted to fall into thinking that the chief difference lies in the difference between verse and prose, in the difference between singing something and stating something.  But I think there is a greater difference.  The difference lies in the fact that the important thing about the epic is a hero – a man who is a pattern for all men.  While, as Mencken pointed out, the essence of most novels lies in the breaking down of a man, in the degeneration of character.”

    “. . . nowadays if an adventure is attempted, we know that it will end in failure. . . When we read Franz Kafka’s The Castle, we know that the man will never get inside the castle.  That is to say, we cannot really believe in happiness and in success.  And this may be one of the poverties of our time.  I suppose Kafka felt much the same when he wanted his books to be destroyed: he really wanted to write a happy and victorious book, and he felt that he could not do it.  He might have written it, of course, but people would have felt that he was not telling the truth.  Not the truth of facts but the truth of his dreams.”

    “In a way, people are hungering and thirsting for epic.  I feel that epic is one of the things that men need.  Of all places (and this may come as a kind of anticlimax, but the fact is there), it has been Hollywood that has furnished epic to the world.  All ver the globe, when people see a Western – beholding the mythology of a rider, and the desert, and justice, and the sheriff, and the shooting, and so on - I think they get the epic feeling from it, whether they know it or not.  After all, knowing the thing is not important.”

COMMENTS: I had to reread these passages.  At first I thought Borges was saying all novels describe a degeneration of character.  I thought of Hardy’s Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D’Urbervilles.  Not all novels are like that.  Who would read them if they were, and as to Kafka, I read his (unfinished) novels years ago and resolved never to read them again; although my resolve weakened and I attempted to reread The Castle but didn’t get very far.
    But Westerns as he says do, many of them, have the epic feel.  I recall in Boot Camp in 1952, after qualifying at the shooting range at Camp Matthews, we got to sit outside on the grass of a sloping knoll and watch High Noon.  Surely that movie has Borge’s “epic feeling.”  Susan loved Westerns, especially those written by Louis L’Amour.  She also loved Mysteries, but only those in the “cozy” category.  I preferred more action oriented mysteries.
    But I had to admit that while I don’t recall a degeneration of character in mystery or detective novels, they do, many of them, tend to be dark.  One of the most popular series is Michael Connelly’s “Bosch” series.  Bosch is a superb and relentless detective, but he won’t comply with bureaucratic politics and his bosses and coworkers don’t like him.  He doesn’t care.  He is driven to solve the case “for the victim” and won’t be deterred no matter what the threat.  None of Connelly’s novels have happy endings.  Borges said no one believed in happy endings: “Nowadays when people talk of a happy ending, they think of it as a mere pandering to the public, or they think it is a commercial device; they think of it as artificial.  Yet for centuries men could very sincerely believe in happiness and in victory, though they felt the essential dignity of defeat. . .”
    One of the very popular story lines in TV detective series is for the main character to be accused of a murder.  It doesn’t matter if up until this episode he has been the epitome of virtue, the evidence (because he is being framed) points to him as the guilty party; so the character is hounded by bureaucratic officials (often he has to become an outlaw to clear himself) and threatened by criminals before he manages to clear his name.  But I’ve noticed that there is no summing up at the end of these episodes.  It is enough for the writers that the “hero” is cleared.  They don’t make the bureaucrats appear and tell him that they are sorry for doubting him and so there is the “feeling” that he, like Kafka’s Joseph K retains the guilt in the minds of the bureaucrats and others.  The hero escapes punishment, but through some trick perhaps.  They continue to believe him guilty.  
    Westerns, at least the older westerns weren’t that bad.  The hero defeats the bad guys, gets the girl, and often the ranch that comes with her.  He also gets the respect of the town people.  Perhaps by then he doesn’t respect them, but they don’t continue to persecute him.  If they are respectable they are ashamed. 
    I just yesterday ran across this review: It is about Robert B. Parker’s “Spenser” series.  I had never read any of the novels but decided to try one.  I downloaded the first in the series, The Godwulf Manuscript, written in 1977.  I looked up Parker before I started it.  He acquired a PhD and did his thesis in hard-boiled detective fiction.  He taught only a few years and then wrote novels full time.  I am 73% (according to Kindle) through The Godwulf Manuscript and was reminded a bit of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.  The authors are academics and write about what they know.  Albee’s characters remain in academia and Connelly’s remain in his doctoral thesis.  “Why were you fired” Lieutenant Quirk asks Spenser at one point.  “Insubordination.  I specialize in it.” [or words to that effect].  At this point in the novel, no one likes Spenser except for a few sexy women.  The men want to beat him up or kill him.  Why doesn’t Connelly have Spenser try at least a little bit to get along with people?  Perhaps because he wanted to stay in the “hard boiled” genre.  Spenser I suppose becomes a hero, and according to the above review acquires a coterie of people who will help him during emergencies, but he remains, if I understand him “outside.”  He will never satisfy Borges’ requirements for the epic hero. 
    I wondered about Thomas Carlyle.  I read his Heroes and Hero Worship twice, but so long ago that I can’t relate it to Borge’s thesis about the epic hero.  Borge has made some disparaging comments about Carlyle so perhaps there is little commonality of thought here.  Borge elsewhere seems to like Ulysses as a hero, but Carlyle like Cromwell and Napoleon, “heroes” that few would admire today.   Can Ulysses be admired?  Dante after all put him in that Eighth level of Hell for his deeds as a trickster.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Second November Dream


I woke Susan at our old home.
She sprang up as young and
Energetic as when I first
Knew her – beautiful too –
No touch of any age to come.
She said, bouncing about
To a woman she had no need

Of me, meaning I thought
That I, fully as old as I am,
Couldn’t keep up; then this
Woman, someone I recognized
From TV told Susan she
Would take me if Susan were
Serious, knowing, she added

With sorrow that she never
Would – never could let me,
But Susan wasn’t listening
Whisking herself away
On one of her missions,
And I remained, dreading
What would happen next.

Sunday, November 22, 2015



Last night I finished watching the six-part British TV Drama, "River" and thought it the best thing I'd seen in ages, but I didn't trust my opinion since the main character, River, is mourning the loss of his partner, Stevie (DS Jackie Stevenson) throughout.  I checked a couple of reviews & the reviewers were a bit bothered by the "cliche" of dead people appearing as malevolent ghosts, but I don't watch that much TV and wasn't bothered.  Besides, the people who appear to detective John River aren't ghosts but manifestations of his own thinking.  They don't tell him anything he doesn't know or doesn't believe at the time.

The series ran on BBC One beginning on 13 October 2015 and on Netflix internationally on 18 November 2015.  I should watch it again to form a more balanced opinion.  I don't recall seeing the actor who plays River, Stellan Skarsgard, before, but I recall seeing Nicola Walker in "Touching Evil."  I don't think I was impressed by her acting in Touching Evil but I thought her brilliant in "River."  My impression is that she outshines Stellan Skarsgard -- maybe because she does an excellent job playing differently, but not too differently, depending upon what is going on with River at the time; whereas River is dark and brooding in the first episode and only blossoms as a character toward the end.  Stevie is fully blossomed in the first scene, riding in a car with River, singing along with a song playing on the radio "I love to love" and trying to get River, who insists he can't sing (and I gather the actor Skarsgard really can't; which detracts a little, especially because Nicola Walker is so good).

River is bent upon solving the murder of Stevie and does despite the "cliche" of his bosses boss who wants to get rid of him and has him undergo a psych evaluation figuring that will do it, but the psychologist turns out to be someone who has a special interest in patients who have dead people appear to them and doesn't think that disqualifies River from doing his job.

There are crimes beyond Stevie's murder and River solves them all, and somehow despite the evil we have seen the ending is satisfactory.  River is still crazy, but he'll go on being a brilliant detective solving crimes.  Those who doubted him doubt him no longer.  In fact they adjust to his seeing "manifests" and are okay with it.

I didn't know there were only six parts to the series when I was watching.  I thought this was but the first season of an ongoing TV series, but apparently not.  I was hoping there would be more but couldn't imagine how a season two could be written or that it could possibly be as good.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Max Beerbohm and the next ice age


    As I read through old copies of the NYROB, occasionally I am impressed enough by some reviewer’s comments to order the book he has reviewed.  Some time ago I read a review of a book about Max Beerbohm.  He is remembered today primarily because for his sketches, but according to the article which I don’t have near me at the moment, he was a very fine essayist albeit in a minor scale.  I was interested enough to order some of his essays.
    I began reading one of his very slender books of essays, but my attention wavered and I set it aside.  Yesterday I received Beerbohm’s More.  My copy was published by an agency that calls itself “Forgotten Books,” and up at the top of the cover one sees “Classic Reprint Series.”  Upon opening the book I read “1 month free reading at – By purchasing this book you are eligible for one month membership to forgottenbookscom, giving you unlimited access to our entire collection of over 700,000 titles via our web site and mobile apps.  To claim your free month visit:  Offer is valid for 45 days from date of purchase.  Terms and conditions apply.”
    That introduction seemed ironically appropriate to Beerbohm’s essay “Actors” in which, Beerbohm argues that when one criticizes an actor one perforce criticizes him, as opposed to criticizing the work of an painter or a writer.  Then after discussing the jealousy and emotional outbursts one sees actors display, Beerbohm writes “Other artists can afford to wait.  It is not only that they, as men who work not in the actual presence of the public, value praise less highly; it is also that their art will endure.  For them the immediate verdict is not irrevocable.  Time turns their rude public into a polite posterity.  But it is ‘now or never’ with the actor. . .”
    “‘Into the night go one and all.’  But the gods are not ruthless.  They have been kind to these players.  We need not weep.  In their day, these players are blest supremely.  What other artists, save singers, can match their laurels?  Their art dies with them, but I think that in the immediateness, the correctness of their fame, they are supremely recompensed.  Great writers, great painters, must needs suffer many years of insult or neglect.  Most often, when the tardy paean is sung in their honour, they are too old or too bitter to be gratified by its sound.  Nor is the paean, even if they still care to hear it, so loud and so near as to the actor. . . When Mr. Whistler puts the finishing touches to a paper-lithograph, soever exquisite, even Mr. Joseph Pennell does not clamber upon the window-sill and throw in a bouquet.  Yet may both Mr. Meredith and Mr. Whistler be accounted lucky.  Artists, not less than they, have died without honour, consoled only by the sure knowledge that their work will survive gloriously.  There work does, indeed, survive, but it is not immortal.  Even the writings of William Shakespeare will perish in the next ice-age.  The whole history of this world is but as a moment in eternity, and happy is that man whose fame is the accompaniment of his own life.  Such a man is the actor.  Do not grudge him his honours.  Do not blame him for his love of them.  Ponder my formula, ‘and, look you!  Mock him not!’”

COMMENT: Beerbohm published More in 1899 when he was, and since he was no more than 28, but if my vague recollection of the review I am too lazy to go look for is of any value, he determined at an early age that he would never be a great writer or great anything else, but he enjoyed life performing well in a minor key.  And in this article we may see him assuaging his lack of greatness by denigrating great writers by weighing them against eternity.  “Even the writings of William Shakespeare will perish in the next ice-age.”  Now, to denigrate Beerbohm in turn, I am quite sure the writings of Shakespeare will survive the next ice age.  Even Beerbohm’s comment that the actors art never survives is no longer true although some of the early films were neglected and have been lost, many have been preserved, even digitized (but probably some better form), and we may assume that preservation will outlast the next ice-age. 
    An archaeologist could quite conceivably a hundred thousand years from now might excavate a city on Mars and discover in an underground tomb a digitized copy of and read this very essay by Max Beerbohm and laugh.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Borges and “Korea, 1953”


    I wouldn’t have chosen to write the poem “Korea, 1953,” but I woke with old Korean thoughts buzzing about in my head, giving a good imitation of depression.  What I wrote didn’t match any preconceived ideas.  I strove merely to get the buzzing out of my head. 
    Then later I picked up an old copy of The New York Review of Books (1-9-14) and read Michael Greenberg’s “The Daggers of Jorge Luis Borges,” his review of Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature.  What I read so explained my poem that I wondered if I had made a mistake and written the poem after I read the article, but that wasn’t possible.  I began it last night but didn’t finish the article until this morning, and last night I got no further than,
    “Readers of Professor Borges may be taken aback, as I was when Borges jumps from the Norman Conquest of 1066 straight to the eighteenth century, bypassing Chaucer, Milton, Shakespeare, and every other English writer for a period of seven hundred years.  The writer Borges alights upon after this leap in time is Samuel Johnson, who lamented the loss of English’s Teutonic character, believing that the language had been degraded by the Gallicisms of the French.”
    Even this, I believe was read after I wrote the poem, but perhaps not.  At the very least I hadn’t read this paragraph with understanding, nor to the end.  Greenberg goes on to write, “This invasion of Latinate words would expand the language immeasurably and come to comprise about two thirds of modern English.  But for Borges this meant the sacrifice of an austere language of precision and action in favor of one stocked with abstract, vague, and overwrought locutions – the very elements in Spanish that he struggled against in his own work.”
    Borges thereby explains the concluding portion of the poem:
    “. . . He had his
    Place amongst them now

    And could stay as long as he
    Wished and some wished he would,
    But he had anxious thoughts littering
    His system, looking at each
    Morning critically in other
    Ways than those, not letting
    Him finish at all.”

    Borges has at least provided one possible explanation for what happened to me, why I was unwilling to stay in the Marine Corps, why I even looked forward to returning home in 1953 – except one, if one is a young Marine, cannot choose to create war.  I was over there anxious to be in one, something Borges would have approved, but it was winding down, and then a truce put an end to it.  I could have stayed in, but I didn’t enlist to be in the peace-time Marine Corps.
    Years later on the C-17 Program I worked with a fellow who retired as a Captain in the Corps.  He had worked his way up the enlisted ranks and then gone to OCS.  One day we discussed what my career path might have been.  I told him that the only inducement I was offered in order to get me to stay in was the rank of Staff Sergeant.  He said that would have been excellent.  Rank was hard to get after the truce was signed in Korea.  I probably would have become a Tech Sergeant by the time “advisors” were being sent to Viet Nam in the early 60s.  I undoubtedly would have been sent over there.  In this conversation I might have benefitted from Borges “image . . . of an invented figure in his own preoccupation with the idea of an alternate self.  He sometimes spoke of a second Borges who was born the same day as the first Borges, bore his name, but was a different person.  This second Borges was an observer or spectator of the ‘real’ Borges – the profounder Borges – whom the second Borges has come to identify with a character in a movie or a play . . . .”  Except Borges was blind and Helm was sitting at a desk at Boeing speculating with a retired Marine Corps captain.  Helm had become the observer or spectator.  He was no longer “real” in the Borges sense.  But I doubt that Borges was “real” either.  Perhaps he retained more war-like convictions than I did, but perhaps because of his poor eye-sight he was never able to be in the military or fight in a war.  Perhaps if he were sitting there with the captain and me, perhaps he would have disparaged my choice.  Perhaps he would have envied the possibility of becoming a Staff Sergeant and being sent to Viet Nam as an advisor and then being in the actual fighting.  But as it was, Borges though of an age to have been in World War I, waited out the war with his family in Switzerland. 
    Greenberg writes, ‘I have felt epic poetry far more than lyric or elegy, Borges told The Paris Review in 1966, ‘perhaps . . . because I come from military stock.’  But in fact he is unexpectedly stirred by the Saxon elegies of the ninth and tenth centuries . . .”  When I joined the Marine Corps I had one uncle who had been a Marine  and another who had been in the Navy during WWII.  Later on I learned that my great-grandfather, Schyler Helm had been a Sergeant in the Illinois regiment during the Civil War.  But I wonder if there is really anyone who could not say something like that: that they came from military stock?  
    Borges admired the 1872 epic poem The Gaucho Martin Fierro.  “The rhythm of Martin Fierro was drawn from the payada, a kind of gaucho field song with a driving eight-syllable line.  The payada would provide the basis for the guitar-sun ballads known as milongas, which in turn would give way to the tango, Argentina’s most recognized artistic form.
    “Criollo, gaucho life, like that of the characters in the Saxon epics, was marked by an unassailable code of violence.  Death was never far away; nor did the gaucho – who ideally at least, lived in a cult of courage that Borges championed and admired – want to be.  This presence of death, as in the Saxon epics, provoked an elemental expression that he wished to emulate.  He strived for a warrior-like stature, or some equivalent of it, in his work, believing that it could lift us out of what he called the ‘nothingness of personality’ with its picayune neuroses and personal complaints.”  Borges sounds like George Patton here.  I wonder what he would think about PTSD.
     I wasn’t in combat, but I often find thoughts of Korea and my time there flitting through my mind.  I wonder what my thoughts would be like if I had been in combat.  And I wonder what Borges thoughts would be like if he had been in combat.
    I’ve never regretted enlisting in the Marine Corps, but then I’ve never regretted getting out after my enlistment was up and entering college.  Staying in the Corps would have resulted in the “nothingness” of raking the gravel in the front of our Quonset huts (it seemed to me at the time); whereas the literature, history and philosophy I studied seemed far more a “something.”  Did Borges regret his life?  A poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson comes to mind:

Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
  Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
  And he had reasons.

Miniver loved the days of old
  When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
  Would set him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,
  And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
  And Priam's neighbors.

Miniver mourned the ripe renown
  That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
  And Art, a vagrant.

Miniver loved the Medici,
  Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
  Could he have been one.

Miniver cursed the commonplace
  And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the medieval grace
  Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
  But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
  And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
  Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
  And kept on drinking.

On the other hand perhaps Michael Greenberg’s review didn’t do Professor Borges justice.  I ordered the book and may have another opinion later on.   

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Korea, 1953


He pulled his boots on
And looked outside – five
More months before his draft
Would go back – It hadn’t
Been as exciting as he
Hoped, but he was well
Used to it now.  His friends

Said his intention
Had been mad, and
Thankfully, they said,
It was no longer real –
The season of war had
Past.  The leaves had
Turned brown and the wind

Howled and blew them away –
His war-like wishes were
More staunch than he knew –
A night at the slop chute should
End in a fight.  Mornings
Though he doubted this
Was all as it should be --

Mornings and the happy looks
Of those who were due to
Return – back to the land
He had fled to look for war.
He lit a cigarette and blew
A ring no one would see.
His head ached with thoughts

Fixed in the vague fog
That eased up from the China
Sea.  He still needed to lean
And take it in.  He would,
But what of the happy looks
Of those going back?  War was
Infectious, but maybe he hadn’t

Looked back hard enough.  Maybe
There was something he’d missed
Waiting if he had the will.  His head
Ached with the beer he’d drunk. 
There was a fight but
Not with him.  He had his
Place amongst them now

And could stay as long as he
Wished and some wished he would,
But he had anxious thoughts littering
His system, looking at each
Morning critically in other
Ways than those, not letting
Him finish after all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cold Case

He opened the bottom drawer
Of his desk and pulled out
The folder, the next one
He needed to work.
His mind veered,
Putting it off, this work
Meant little to him now.

One foot in front of the other
And none meaning a damned
Thing.  The Captain wouldn’t
See it that way, of course.
He could pull the plug, retire
But then what?  He opened it
And looked inside.  A fresh

Faced girl looked back,
Missing now for several
Months – not much he could
Do after all this time.
She’d gone off of her own
Accord the witnesses said.
Nothing done against her will,

Whatever it was.  “She was
So lucid just a short time
Before.”  He looked back
At the drawer: several more
Folders awaited.
Would there be time
To close them all?

What should he do with
This one?  “Close it out,”
His Captain would say, as
If he could – the Captain
Sitting behind his granite-
Topped desk out of touch
With everyone here.

He set the photo aside
And read “no sign of
Foul play, just one accident
After the other, medical
Mystery, inept bureaucracies,
Life and death in
The modern world.

He closed the file and
Put it in the “cold case”
Tray.  Nothing more he
Could do – maybe in a hundred
Years.  He reached down and
Took another: “man climbing
His stairs, fell to the ground,

Ambulance on the way.”
He looked out his window
At the breaking day – “cold
Again, should stay that way
A long time.”  He put the
Folder in the “Pending” tray
And closed the drawer.

Outside he turned his
Collar up and pulled his hat
Down over his eyes.  “There
Is nothing to see here folks.
Move along.”  His eyes
followed their steps, one
After the other.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

November Dream


I walked on into the large room.
She needed to finish something; so I
Went on ahead.  I stood aside not willing
To sit.  She wouldn’t find me if I did.
People stared.  I wasn’t dressed like
Them and leaned upon a hiking
Stick with a silver handle.  Then

An argument broke out among the
Seated cliques bent upon having their
Own way.  They shouted
Angrily about the seating. 
I Leaned against a wall.  She
Wasn’t coming.  A lady I knew
Casually whispered it was time I

Found a seat and handed me 
A note.  “This will be the
Third time” she said and left.
I searched the crowd.  Perhaps
She hadn’t seen me and now sat
Somewhere in their midst.
Perhaps she was in trouble

Outside.  I looked for a
Way out.  I knew I
Wouldn’t return once
The doors had closed.
Finally I was at the river
Using my hiking stick as a
Monopod to steady a new lens.

There was something in the trees
The automatic focus struggled
To make clear.  I looked up but by
Then it was gone.  What was my job
Once it had gone, to keep on looking
Or return home?  Struggling
To know which, I woke.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015



When I was young
I imagined I would have
Unending ecstasy if I were
In love with a beautiful girl.
I read adventures – even
The jungle had Jane.
Getting her was everything.

One day years later
I did and it was true.
Living through
Those days kept me
Aware that she of whom
I dreamed was there
Day after day.

I am old now but not
Too to think as I did and
Know as I knew, recall
The delight I felt when
All the initial turmoil had
Subsided and she promised
Me all her remaining days.

Now with each passing
One of mine I’m further
From then, marveling
That she ever walked
There with me if she
Really did.  I open a book
And search her photo

Taped and fading.  Her
Little dog is here and
Walks along with me
Still – does he know her
As he once did or has
She worn as she wore away
Those soft forgetful days?

Friday, November 6, 2015

On Serious Thinking


It isn’t that I take society
And philosophy as unimportant.
They change too fast for me
To keep up – I’ve quit trying,
And the poets who legislated
With supreme confidence have
All been set aside.  I’ve nothing

To add – living near the end
Of the street I’ve been in
And out of nettles and the
Smoke of earlier times
Which I never saw as
Clearly as I thought.  I
Wrought nothing I would

Say of look at this,
It is where I stood and
Stand.  I’m a hiker and
Have moved on and on
Again no longer knowing
Where I’ve been or who
It was I was there with.

Thursday, November 5, 2015



Susan was it was good to find
As intent upon dogs as I, I
Discovered well into our
Marriage though I described it
Early on as an impediment
With my first who wasn’t at all.
Susan’s first dog trial trying

To walk him away from trouble
And his early death weighed
Upon us both, her especially,
Followed by Heidi who loved
Life and tennis balls chasing
Into the surf after them while
Susan watched and laughed

And Trooper who became her
Knight willing to protect her
Against anything she’d
Allow.  She had weakened
During Ginger leaving her
To me and then Sage
Who never had a chance.

She thought Duffy would be
Small enough for her waning
Time and he still is while she
Dwells nearby when we look
Up least expecting, when we
Turn at a flickering light or
Start up in the night at a sound.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Aperture Settings


Checking results later on
I saw only the dogs in focus
And sometimes just one.  It
Was then too early to achieve
More.  I had to open the aperture
Wide enough for the little
Light that dawn let creep

Over the mountain – walking
On as we did until I wanted
To try again to see if I could
Step it down from four to five
Point six or more as the
Morning wore away or when
Something was in the way

Say a coyote coming from
Some distance, who knows why,
To lie in our path – there was
No time to step down further
Rushing ahead lest
He capture Duffy
Prior to seven point one.

Lack of attention


What is at stake in this
Fading away?  The intense
Disbelief that she could
Just not be has become
Usual and expected such that
I must stop and wait before
The shock reverberates as it

Did constantly a few months
Ago, and if I can let go of her
Now what else will I let
Go with a mere change
Of focus, lack of attention
Or driving off and not being
Sure I locked the door?