Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Roaring Back


In the old days this body bounced back from bumps, bruises, and fractures. These days it wants time off to think about things, like going on strike. It has, in other words, served me well but now sputters and coughs when I try to rev what little engine I have. Unfortunately the brain has not caught up with the realities that come with over sixty years of hard use. It still sees a long bike ride under extreme heat warnings as a kind challenge, something to do before a run, or pick-up soccer game. But then the pilot pulls on the throttle only to find an old man sitting in basement next to a furnace that will keep nobody warm. Maybe tomorrow things will clear up, come roaring back, making a silk purse out of this sow's ear of stiffness and aching joints and fog.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Nobody Reads This Stuff Anyway


A grouch has to say something once in a while just to clear the air between his hairy ears. I can't blame anyone for avoiding those moments like the plague that they are. The rants waft out there into the ethers and pop like toxic gas bubbles. Another human blowing off stream. My father used to wander the house in his threadbare bathrobe at two in the morning and mutter curses at whom I do not know. The cat went with him anyway, hoping to get some kibble, or a weekend pass to the back yard. Smart cookie that cat. That aspect of his way of being did not make the top ten list in his eulogies at the recent memorial service. Lots of other great memories did. And it is the forgotten pieces that I worry about, the ones that roll into corners like lost marbles, only to be found later by the next generation, or to be overlooked, a hopeful, unheralded radio wave traveling through deepest space.

Back in T-Town


Four hundred plus miles in hundred and ten heat in the little truck and I am here again in the bosom of the Old Pueblo. Going to run under the radar so I get things done that I need to get done: pay bills, fix the bird fountain, clean up all the dead bugs around the house, and cuddle with my cat Simone. Need to change the oil and sing Hail Marys too so I get back to work in one piece. This grumpy teacher has about had it though. It seems people have had their brains boiled by the heat wave. Well, my brain has been boiled is what I'm trying to say. I have withdrawn and pulled the shades. I hoped that life would work out, but you know how that goes. Looks like the tether holding me hither has popped like a tendon that snaps just after the ball you kicked sails high and off target through the summer air.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Could Be Worse


Yeah, it's a hundred and sixteen out there, your dog couldn't rouse himself if the house were on fire, and you haven't slept well for a month, but, hey, the circles you carve as you travel around the drain are still pretty wide. Might as well sit back and enjoy the crazy ride. I mean, your life isn't a total wreck. And the wheels of the thing are still spinning, even if it is on its back. How about a little gallows humor? At least you were right about putting up solar panels big enough to take in the heat and make something good and true and beautiful out if it. Keep going in that vein, even as the momentum pulling you close and down increases.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Couldn't Wait to Get Out


The small town I grew up in, I thought, was a backwater, a blinder, a coffin, a ball and chain. I plotted my escape during long liturgical rituals of Lutheran church services. While we read the Nicene Creed, I dreamed of snow-capped mountains, clear trout streams, and low humidity. But more than the places, I wanted a bigger horizon to my little mental maps. There was something out there that I just had to taste. So I left. I hitchhiked out west reading Nietzsche and Pirsig. I dabbled in the virtues of hoboism and poverty and sleeping in bushes. I can't say I found an answer, but I did lose some innocence. I have to find my way back now to things like common courtesy, contentment, the joy of rain. An old man, I can no longer rely on my body to carry me forward. I didn't blow it, exactly, but didn't gather much that I want to pass on those looking, like I was, for something better.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Midnight Blue


The hotel window framed the closed curtain with flashes of lightning. The storm outside was a real ripper, one of many that were part of a cold front moving across the Midwest. In Nebraska, tornadoes made their way across wheat fields. Here, the storms just lit the skies and rattled the windows. It was not as bad as I thought it might be. Conversations earlier tonight with siblings echoed in my head. So many memories, so much variety of perspective on what our family had been, who my parents were. I realize I have only a tiny picture and have jumped to a story about them that falls far short of capturing them in all their contractions and confusions. Left unanswered, my stories were too conclusive, dismissive even. So I listened to the rain, the words bouncing off the walls of my mind, and looked out at the storm. What I mistook for black was actually blue: deep, resonating, midnight blue.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Bear Memorial --- Round Two


Whether these trips are out of my life or back into it, I haven't decided. Whichever is the case, they are a big jump, and I have to work hard to make the leap from my life "out there" in Arizona and New Mexico and the one "back here," the small town in Wisconsin where I came of age. The smells of mowed grass, the feel of summer air, the thick and sultry greenness all kick-start emotions and memories I have yet to make peace with. My gut is twisted into skeins of anxiety by the calm that pervades this place. Though, they are gone, my mother and father accompany me on my walks, my ruminations, my dreams. For whatever reason, I am drawn back to them, pulled up close in the hopes that I might better see the still pulsing complexity of them and the marks they left on me. I am submerged in this place, deprived of air, and have to learn to breathe under the water of memory. Take a breath, brother, take a breath. You can learn to see what before was too hard to digest, to forgive, to put to rest.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Shelter


It seemed a simple thing: just a place to be safe, get out of the wind and rain. A haven to crawl into when things got hairy and bad. I gave up wandering for comfort, for companionship. I just wanted someone to love, to care for. Couldn't help myself. But when sublime love struck my aching emptiness like a hammer, that safe place became a cage. It must be an animal thing, wanting safety and freedom at the same time. Can't live with it and can't live without it, but more and more I just need a safe place to break down.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Another Moon


A fat moon pulled its way up and out of the juniper branches last night as cedar gnats had their way with soft and warm spots under my T-shirt. Little shits. You think they could at least ask before reaching up under my shirt and sawing off their half-pound of flesh. But the moon. Oh, the moon... Who cares about temporary itching when the moon rips to shreds everything you thought might last forever? It was like a hurricane: cruel and so intense nothing could stand in its path. That's the way it is now. The days slip away before I can find the energy to rise and enjoy them. All is falling away.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Reckoning


“Did you use your time well?” he asked. Not the question I was hoping for in this place where honesty is the only option. “Well…” I began. You can guess where it went from there. I had to admit that I failed to act when dreams hung in the balance, that I took the easy way more often than not, and that I died not having done what it was I wanted and knew I had to do. “So,” he began, “you will return.” Not again I thought. How many times do I have to do this before I get it right? As many as necessary comes back as the answer we all know on some level. Here is where things get thick. This life walk has me jiggered, and the easy way is calling me again. I look for excuses and find plenty. I’m too old. My brain and body both are failing. I don’t know what to do, can’t figure it out. But that’s the point. I have to keep moving, even when I feel I can’t. Tough luck, sucker. It’s time to break through.