darkness and strong winds
preceded the storm as
the trees turned into dark
silhouettes and the
debris flew off the roofs of
houses nevertheless the
rain held back but not for long
as I remembered a piece of
my childhood about thunder
who told us that thunder is
the sound of Rip Van Winkle and
his men playing ninepins in the clouds above the Catskills
if my father told us I wouldn’t
believe him and if I laughed I didn’t know why
I know now
probably nervous to death
with fear constant fear
my hope for them is a brief
visit and speedy return to the Catskills we visited
I can no longer remember
from a childhood I rather
If the world was flat
I doubt that I would have anyone to remember or anyone to thank.
But thank God there is
If God didn’t bring my
father through World War Two, I wouldn’t be here.
Life is full of “ifs”
we don’t understand and we can only ask
If George hadn’t died
from ground fire in Vietnam at liftoff…
Today I remember a
lifetime of “ifs” and “whys” and give thanks.
when life throws
you a curve ball when you least
that is when the
coach puts you in to bat
he spits then
looks you straight in
just get on base son I’ll do the
you nod and in
your mind you are on deck
your life in a game you’ve
still you want
to belt it out over the fence
or out of the
park just this once
as soon as I sat down in my chair on the
patio it started to rain again
I had to wear a light vest and as I lit a late
afternoon cigar I listened to
what seemed to be a host of kettle drums
sitting on the metal roof that would fade
in and out
then it slowed down to the sound of big
drops running off the roof to the worn
grass below that looked like a giant sheet
on a player piano rolling down
now that reminded me of the Steinway
that sat in our living room and
my piano teacher who quit
sometimes kids can’t be forced to be who
their parents wanted to be or want them to be
this can set the stage for a life of failure upon
failure upon failure
to this day I can sing some say as sweetly as
Nancy Wilson but I can’t play a thing
or read music yet there has been a choir or
two here and there
and that nervous but fine solo on Danny Boy
but my folks spent a lifetime discouraging me
from doing anything that I wanted to do
so acting and singing among other things
simply faded away like most of my dreams
much like the rain falling off the roof to
the first of a string of cold nights
and mild days are a welcome change
I am not outside at my usual
time so the stillness and quiet are very refreshing
I can hear the drone of a lawn
being cut probably at the church and a siren far away
add a loud bird and I think it may
be stereo another lawn being cut on the other distant side of me
my tea went from sipping hot to
cool enough to gulp if I want to with less than half a cup left
do you know what is missing
my steno pad as I opted to bring my laptop outside for the first
time so my Namiki fountain pen
already a relic by age alone is now a sure sign of my past
thirty-five years ago or so on a
day like today I’d walk from my Kaserne to a bench along the
Nahe River to sit and fill a
notebook with all the woe is me of the day and to pray
no cell phones and no PCs really
just a few word processors at work using large CP/M disks and
floppies I think
about one sip of cold tea to go
you know the same God who
used to hear my cries then as I looked out over the river
hears me now
I for one am glad that some
things don’t change and God is one of those things
my father God has never
forgotten one of my tears as we sat along the river
the horn blasts of the noon train
were distorted floating in and out on the strong and gusty winds
the sounds of this train faded to
the right of where I sat on the back patio
a second faster train followed
horn blasting through town as it moved away heading north
It seems that my dreams were
not in the wind or on a train
they pile up in my memory like
railroad ties stacked up in an abandoned siding yard
birds don’t dream they fly
can you tell a bird not to fly same-o same-o
people don’t fly they dream
can you tell people not to dream
at this point I doubt my dreams
will come true they could they might but so far they never have
so I’ll be waiting for the wind and
A swarm of birds, if there is
such a thing, flustered by the coming storm vacated the tallest pine one street over.
A butterfly zigzagged across
the back yard a few feet above the lawn. In this wind it couldn’t fly straight if it had to.
They never fly straight, do they?
I think the wind gusts up to forty
miles per hour have begun. One big flying bug didn’t get the memo. All bug operations have been
cancelled today due to weather.
Take a bug maintenance day instead. Not a bug or critter in sight. I always think of my Irish Uncle John on my
birthday on St. Patrick’s Day.
I’m guessing I was about ten which
made his daughter, Murphy, around twenty or so. Long before I knew girls existed, she was the fairest of
the fair. Uncle John made me feel
special when there was nothing special. Thank you, Uncle John. You are the only one who told me
that all today’s parades were really
for me. For my birthday. Because of you, they still are for me.
At some point I stopped
listening to music. For me it was someone else’s joy.
Someone else’s story.
Not mine. Abuse of any kind stops the music
of your life.
My LP records sit on a
shelf. I thumb through them from time to time.
I can’t play my music
CDs either. I don’t want to revisit a life of abuse.
Songs stir memories
I rather not have. But I long for the sweet and
joyful interlude that
was written only for me.
[Author’s note: FYI, there is an exception. I have a group of CDs known as my car music, e.g., The Manhattans, Huey Lewis, The Commodores, to name a few, that I listen to on and off. But they stay in the car.]
It is a warm seventy-five for
a day in February, with a refreshing gust of wind from time to time.
One street over, the same
dog that barked its head off yesterday is doing it today.
I’d guess that it was the same
train that went through with a different engineer because
the horn blasts were new. It
was two shorts and long. Rest and repeat. Rest and repeat.
What came next I couldn’t see.
It came and went too fast to go take a look. The sound of a
military jet was so ear breaking
awesome, I was ready to reenlist on the spot!
For me, twenty years in the army
flashed by with the sound of the jet. That dog is still barking.
Daily I am faced with the reality
that I can no longer do what I loved to do so long ago and not so long ago.
I must be content with the things
I can do now. As I have gotten older I rather do more, not less.
The Lord knows our limitations,
but we serve a God who shows us his unlimited grace.
I trust God will open yet another
door I now cannot see. The dog is tiring. I, too, may be tired.
But I do not tire of your grace or
your love for me. Age has stepped in but my time is in your hands.
By your unending grace, I can serve
you as I am now because you are the God who made me who I was
with the knowledge of who I was
In my mind, that place where fantasy
and I meet, I watched wave after wave crash on the shore. I saw heartache
after heartache wash away the lines
in the sand. You can’t cross a line if it isn’t there, can you?
I looked up at the dunes. I saw a big
woman waving to me. “Come on!” she waved with one hand while the other
kept a large floppy sun hat on her
head. On the beach the sand was hot in the midday sun and the water was
cold but there was always wind on
the dunes. Her light sundress blew against her side and back.
I started to walk up the steep path
from the beach to the dunes. I lost sight of her where the path zigzagged
as I neared the place where she stood.
When I got to the top, it became clear that the woman was me.
As I laughed and sighed, I looked at
the beach. I saw a little boy playing alone in the sand. He looked up.
There was something about him that
said he always plays alone. As I waved, “Come on!” I knew that the
skinny tanned little boy was me.