Breaking Words Episode 5


Again, I apologize for the mix up in episode numbers. With that being said, Episode 5 is out today! Even though when you listen to it I say it’s episode 4. Here are the pieces you’ll hear:

Breakthrough Story

I made spaghetti today. When I finished, it looked like a bomb had exploded on the stove. Sauce sprayed in a blood splatter pattern, noodles and bits of hamburger like scenes from a horror movie. Unfortunately, it often looks like this when I cook. I think of children in countries where they don’t have enough to eat and feel guilty writing about my food exploits. But I do it anyway. We do a lot of things we shouldn’t, and justify them in various ways to feel better about ourselves. Just another day in the life.

What if being human is a mental illness? What if all of us so called “normal” people who go to our jobs, raise families, and cook our dinners are mentally ill? Maybe we were shipped here from some distant planet, some place where they decided to rid their society of their less than desirable people. Like the British did when they sent boat loads of people to Australia. Maybe we are the descendants of the worst of an alien society that now enjoys life without people who routinely blow up their stoves at mealtime. Are they watching us, do you suppose? Are they wondering how long it will be before they have to intervene to keep their refuse from infecting the universe?

I scanned the radio dial this morning. I heard conservatives screaming about liberals. I heard Nirvana songs. Lots of talk about the environment and children in cages. I heard Hip-Hop music. I turned the radio off and went out and stood in the rain. But the radio still played. Lots of sounds and voices and screams. And music. Country and Rock and Rap. And more voices telling me what I didn’t want to hear. I longed for the sweet sounds of water lapping at a shore and the calls of loons across the lake. Life is like a radio that never shuts off. And half the time there’s too much static to discern what I’m hearing.

So I cleaned up the stove, and ate my spaghetti. I used fresh Basil from my little herb garden. Turned out pretty good. As all these words started swirling around in my mind I knew I was on the edge of a breakthrough book or at least a prize winning article. I sat down at the keyboard, electricity tingling my fingertips. I felt like Edward R. Murrow about to break an earth shattering story and then what came out was this. A story about exploding my stove and the guilt of writing about eating. Who are we, anyway?

The First Time

There has never been anything
quite like a boy’s first slow dance
with a girl. The feeling of her breasts,
pressed against your chest.
The warmth of her body, held close.
Her breath, tickling the hairs on your neck.
And the lovely smell of her freshly washed hair
filling your teenaged senses
with indescribable feelings.
The song you danced to didn’t matter,
and it was over way too soon.
And the only thing you could
think at that moment was that
you wanted to do that again.
And again, and again.
No, there has never been a feeling
quite like that.
And there never will.

Distraction

The cat, in the field, concentrating ever so diligently on the small mouse hiding under leaves and dry grass, is annoyed by my footsteps in gravel on the side of the road. As I stop to watch this Scottish version of the common house pet, her ears pitched forward toward the mouse, I notice that she doesn’t look Scottish at all. Not that I would know what a Scottish cat is supposed to look like, but when you’re in Scotland well, everything is Scottish. Her right ear, the one closest to me, suddenly pivots toward me as I take a step and the sparse gravel beneath my foot crunches loudly in the still, evening air. I stand still, and just as suddenly, the ear twitches again and returns to it’s former attentive position. Her body tenses, her head lowers and, I take another step. This time her head turns, she focuses on my face and I am the recipient of an evil glare that seems to say, “I know where your hotel is. Later I will find you there, and I will kill you in your sleep.”

Watching Life

I cut my finger on the
dulled and stained
edge on the blade of my
pocket knife.
The blood runs quickly,
bright red as gravity
pulls it to the white sheet
of paper that lies on the
table, dark, almost black
as it is absorbed into
the carpet beneath my feet.

Thickly flowing from my
finger, I stand mesmerized
as drops splatter on my shoe,
the carpet, and the kitchen
floor as I finally move to
the sink to let the blood
drops mix with water on
the bottom of the sink fresh
from the tap that I ran
moments before cutting myself.

The blood joins water droplets
and begins to flow toward
the drain mimicking a river
who’s water finds the easiest
path. I stand and watch as
my life seeps out through
the hole I created at the end
of my finger. Platelets rush
through my blood stream and
work to stop the flow, keep
the life inside.

And I do nothing but watch.

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Breaking Words Episode 3

Episode three has been released and you can find it here: The first piece is a prose commentary on the state of fear we find in the US today. The second is about war and death (happy subjects) and the final is about missing my wife, Ann. With so much garbage in the news today I felt I had to make some kind of response and that’s why I wrote “Fear” just a couple days ago. Here are the words to episode 3’s three pieces. I hope they help you to think hard about the state of our world.

Fear

Today’s political climate in the United States has me thinking about fear. There seems to be a lot of it these days. Fear of the “other.” Meaning, fear of others. Other people, to be exact. Fear of what we don’t understand. We seem to be in an iron fisted grip of fear. And if you look back in history, I’m sure you’ll find that every generation had their fears. Your parents, and their parents back to the beginning, had fears. Fears that drove them to survive, to protect what was theirs. Because they feared losing it. Whatever “it” was. Their lives, their property, their freedom. Fear drove them to survive. As it drives us. Science tells us that modern humans have existed on this planet for about 200,000 years. And yet with all our science and technological advancement, we still it seems, have not advanced very far. We are still basically fearful creatures hiding in our caves. Afraid that others will come and take what we have.

Early humans were afraid of natural phenomena. Earthquakes, lightening, wind and flood. They had no science or history to look back on to tell them what these things were. There was no known cause. And yet humans are driven to find reasons for everything. And so, Gods were invented. Roman Gods, Greek Gods, Norse Gods. Having angry Gods gave people answers to the questions of why things happened. When I was a kid I remember being told that thunder was the sound of God bowling in heaven. It made me less afraid. Now I had an answer for what this noise was that shook the house and scared me. And I knew that God had my best interest at heart, so I needn’t fear thunder. And now of course, I understand the science that explains thunder, so there’s no more fear associated with it. But what became of that fear? Did it just disappear? Or did I find something else to fear instead?

All throughout history, people have risen up and claimed that they were the answer to your fears. They were the ones who could save you from the things that go bump in the night. “Follow me” they say, And I’ll make things right. “Elect me” and I’ll save our country. I’ll chase away the “others.” Some of them were good leaders. Some of them were charlatans. But if you look back at all our past history you’ll find that no matter how many demons have been chased away, no matter how much science explains why natural things happen, we still find something to fear. Unfortunately, there have always been those who understand this and take full advantage of it. First, they manufacture something to fear. And then tell you that they are the only ones who can save you from it.

And fear, I don’t think, is our basic problem. Fear, keeps you from sticking a fork in a light socket. Fear, keeps you from putting your hand in a fire. The fear of dying or at least, great bodily harm, keeps you from stepping out into traffic. In those examples, fear is a good thing. Our primitive instinct tells us we need fear to survive. Without it, we wouldn’t be here. And yet we see fear working in many harmful ways. As I write this, there are thousands of people walking through Mexico, presumably heading to the United States. Our news agencies are ripe with stories as to why this is happening. Our government is telling us we need to fear these people. They are coming for our jobs. They are coming for free money. They are harboring terrorists. They are the “other.” And they blame those that they want us to fear. Democrats. Liberals. Migrants walking across Mexico. If you fear something long enough, you will begin to hate it. You hate it for making you afraid. This is the dark side of fear. What’s happening right now in the U S is a prime example of how people manipulate our fears and use them to control us. A good healthy fear of stepping into traffic, will keep us alive. A manufactured fear of others will destroy us.
Unfortunately, I don’t know if I have a good answer to the problem. I’m certainly not going to shout, “Follow Me,” and I’ll show you the way. One bit of advice I could give is a quote from the Dalai Lama: “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” I think there are many people in the world who don’t have any interest in helping others. And too many times I have seen people deliberately hurt others to make themselves feel better. It seems it is it common for people to look for others that are worse off than themselves, thus boosting their own confidence And if they can’t find them, they’ll manufacture them by treating them badly to see them suffer. President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

This, it seems to me, is what’s happening in the U S today. We are being fed fear. A steady diet of which will eventually cause us to hate. And hate always manifests itself in negative ways. Fear can be a good thing. Something to help us to survive and even thrive. But the fear that causes us to hate others is destructive will eventually tear us apart.

The Sword Of Freedom


As hands are brushed together, dead bodies fall like dust
and a girl in a dress called freedom whirls and twirls
but makes no sound but the sound of a mothers cry.

With the constitution in one hand and a bible in the other,
flames suddenly leap and turn them to ash and
they blow away on the wind called justice.

Crowds leave the synagogue, cathedral and mosque and file
into the furnace while factories make more furnaces
and governments send more children to burn.

The minds eye is blind and feeling it’s way to find
emptiness and sorrow where love once lived.
Time turns backward to other wars with the same stench.

Liberty’s crack grows wider and the clapper has
disappeared to be replaced by the
sword of freedom, and a mother cries again.

And do we watch with hands folded in laps and on
our knees pray to a god who doesn’t listen? And do
we tell our children that this is righteousness?

As our world disappears in flame and ash do
we wish we had done the right thing? Do we say the
words that will set all to right, or collect our pay?

As the wars rage on and refugees muliply we go to our
jobs with blinders in place and plugs in our ears and
pretend we do not see the girl dancing. And bleeding.

And as she falls to the ground her wounds ooze into
the sand and she reaches out to be picked up but
we turn away, not wanting to get our clothes dirty.

With clean hands and clothes some walk away, but
some stoop to carry away the hurt and their
voices are being heard. Quietly now, but getting louder.

Waking Dreams

Like a cricket I can’t find
in my bedroom at night,
your memory haunts me.
Insistent, yet melodic,
you are there,
robbing me of sleep.

Floating through
my waking dreams
you stand on the other
side of a darkened glass.
I reach out to you
but you do not reach back.

You watch me with
placid face as I move
about my day, I, always
reaching. I cannot see your
smile, from where you are,
from where I am.

I long to be released
from this dream of you,
this dream of not you,
and yet, it is the only
way I see you anymore,
except in pictures.

Breaking Words Episode 2


Episode 2 is out and ready for you to listen to. There are three poems on episode 2, A House, Nine Pelicans, and She.
I like old houses. The architecture is amazing, and maybe it’s because of my childhood but I think old houses have a more homey feel to them. Here are the words. Also, if you haven’t heard it, the new Minnesota song and video is really great. Alex Frecon got tired of the misconceptions about our great sate and decided to do a video, clearing some of them up:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H31bBU4EL44

A House:

At the end of a dirt road with corn fields on each side and woods behind, sits a house.
Shingles are missing, windows are broken and the gate hangs by one hinge.
It’s been like that for some time now. Empty. Alone.

The house was built 100 years ago by a young man and his bride. With trees cut
from the property, love and care, a home was raised. There were 10 children. And
happiness and sorrow, laughter and tears, Christmas’s and birthdays and funerals.

And many years later, times grew hard and a Great Grandchild lost the house to the bank.
It sat empty for a time and then a young couple came along. There is a picture of them
in a broken frame on the floor. Two women and a young girl, their daughter.

And they made this house a home. There was happiness and sorrow, laughter and tears,
Christmas’s and birthdays and funerals. The daughter grew up and went across the country
to college. The couple moved to be closer to her. And the house has been empty since.

Until just this very day. A car was seen driving up to the old house. A man got out with a
SOLD sign in his hand. And also out of the car came a women, three children and a dog.
And there will be Happiness and sorrow, laughter and tears, once again.

Nine Pelicans.

I take Sophie, my Husky, Malamute cross dog for a walk every day. We walk along trails along the river. There is lots of wildlife there like, pelicans, geese, ducks, deer, beaver, eagles, etc. We see them all the time and I have a habit of anthropomorphizing them because they sometimes really look like they’re thinking certain things that humans would think. If only they could talk to me!

Nine Pelicans:

Standing along the river bank,
dignified in their ungainly grace,
nine pelicans stand or sit and watch
like some prehistoric judges
as the river parades slowly past.

A little further along the bank
geese, flapping, fluttering, and
stomping in the mud, voice
their discontent, loudly, as if
the river is wholly unacceptable
in its proceeding and stance.

A deer, on the opposite bank,
lifts its head and observes
both groups, with measured
indifference, as it chews something
it found among the weeds.

One pelican raises its orange
bill in the direction of the deer
and then away, as if to say he’s
bored and determines this river
to be insufficient for his needs.

But he cannot align himself with the
unruly, peasant-like geese, he
being, after all, a pelican of
some standing, among his peers.

And of course, there’s “She.” I wrote this one because of the sadness of losing my wife Ann, to cancer. I have a 4 episode podcast about that called, “A New Life.” (anewlife.libsyn.com)

She:

And now I sit alone,
with reminders of her everywhere;
rocks and pictures and paintings.

And now I sit alone,
not lonely, but sad.
Sad at the loss of her,

who shared my life
and sang with me in the car.

She who shared my bed,
and my most intimate moments,
is gone now, forever.

She, who’s laugh made me laugh,
who’s tears made me cry,
is gone now, forever.
I don’t sing in the car, anymore.

Breaking Words


The first episode of Breaking Words is out! You can click on the RSS feed to the right on the main page here, and listen to it there. The first poem is “The Fiddle Player and The Dancer”:

As he packed up to leave, an old women approached.
“Can you play that thing?” she asked,
motioning toward the fiddle.
“I can, but I can’t make any money here,”
he said, showing her the empty cup.
“Put that fiddle under your chin, boy.
Play somethin’ gypsy, somethin’ that moves.
And as he played, she began to dance.
Bells appeared on her fingers
tinkling in the breeze.
Swaying and swirling to his rhythm
her ragged clothes suddenly seemed new.
Sequins and colors flashed brilliant in the sun.
The people came, and fell in love with her
that day. She twirled, and the sound flowed,
entwining together to become one thing.
Finally the music faltered, as if nothing
could compete with her beauty.
As she twirled her last,
he offered her the money from the cup, now full.
“You keep it boy,” she said with a smile.
“I only wanted to dance.”

And the second one is, “Blue Moon”:

After sending her 2.3 children to play
with the neighbors down the street, the
housewife, in her new, crisp, pink pastel
dress, serves her husband ice tea on a
sunny, suburban, Sunday afternoon.

When yellow foam mixed with blood
ejects from his mouth, wetting his
gray trousers, and he falls from his
lawn chair in agony gasping for air,
she kneels beside him, grass staining
her new dress and asks him if his tea
is as spicy as his new secretary.

As her husband dies on the freshly mown
lawn, she calls her mother, to pick
up the children and then calls the police.
The children of course, will not
understand, for they are to young
to know that the blue moon, is not blue.

I hope you enjoy the podcast as much as I did making it! If you click the “subscribe” button, each new episode will be downloaded automatically. Have fun, and Thanks!

Breaking Words


Episode One of Breaking Words is finished! When I have three episodes, I’ll release them. This is going to be a weekly poetry podcast. I’ve been writing poetry seriously for about six years and now you’ll be able to hear me read them all on this podcast. I have found that I really like doing this, and I’ve got enough material for about a years worth of podcasts. So that means I better get writing if I want to keep up. I haven’t been writing much since Ann (my wife) died. Not sure why other than her passing has occupied my mind completely since then. I’m coming around now, slowly, so it’s time to get going. As always, I’ll post everything I write here. Each post for the podcast episodes will include some photos and the words to the poems on that podcast! Enjoy!

A House

At the end of a dirt road with corn fields on each side and woods behind, sits a house.
Shingles are missing, windows are broken and the gate hangs by one hinge.
It’s been like that for some time now. Empty. Alone.

The house was built 100 years ago by a young man and his bride. With trees cut
from the property, love and care, a home was raised. There were 10 children. And
happiness and sorrow, laughter and tears, Christmas’s and birthdays and funerals.

And many years later, times grew hard and a Great Grandchild lost the house to the bank.
It sat empty for a time and then a young couple came along. There is a picture of them
in a broken frame on the floor. Two women and a young girl, their daughter.

And they made this house a home. There was happiness and sorrow, laughter and tears,
Christmas’s and birthdays and funerals. The daughter grew up and went across the country
to college. The couple moved to be closer to her. And the house has been empty since.

Until just this very day. A car was seen driving up to the old house. A man got out with a
SOLD sign in his hand. And also out of the car came a women, three children and a dog.
And there will be Happiness and sorrow, laughter and tears, once again.

The Trees And The Sky

The bare trees of Winter like ancient hands
with gnarled fingers, reach up out of the earth,
reaching for what they cannot grasp,
and observe the Sky above.

The bright blue sky taunts the trees, saying,
“Look at me! Look at my clouds and wind.
They can go anywhere! While you,
rooted to the ground cannot move.”

And the trees reply, “Our roots
grow deep and we are a part of this world.
Children play in our branches and leaves.
And you, can only observe.”

“Alas, it is so,” said the sky. “But without my light
and warmth in spring, you would not grow leaves and
would wither and die. What then?” said the sky.
“Where would the children play?”

“It seems We need each other” said the trees
and sky together. “So I shall go on,” said the sky,
“providing you with warmth and rain so you
will live, and children will play and grow.”

“And we shall grow and live,” said the trees,
“giving leaves and life and shade so people
will thrive, and you sky, will have
many things to see and care for.”

And so the sky and trees work together,
making sure that the world goes on.
But they need our help to succeed.
And these things we must teach our children.

1:00 a.m.

At 1a.m. because he couldn’t sleep
he sits at his piano
cigarette in the ash tray
smoke curling up
trying to decide what he wants to write
what he wants to say, what he wants to play.

At 2a.m. the ash tray half full
his elbow rests on middle C
chin in his hand he tinkers with the keys
an F a C back to F
it’s not coming.

At 3a.m. he naps on the couch
the ash tray is full the room in a haze
eighth notes dance in his mind
like a playground full of children.

At 4a.m. he is hammering on the keyboard
the ash tray emptied the windows open
his mind is clear but he’s not there yet.

At 5a.m. a cigarette in the ash tray
smoke curling up, the notes are coming now.

At 6a.m. it’s done, he has it, and he sleeps.