This winter weather isn’t normal here.
I state that not to argue or complain.
The other coast, the other hemisphere
have got it worse, but we’re bereft of rain.
The squirrels race around like early spring.
Mid-January hummingbirds abound.
Oxalis freckles lawns and sparrows sing
at azure skies from desiccated ground.
I’ve had a happy life, and this reverse
does not result from horoscope or luck.
Perversion of our climate is the curse
of slash-and-burn for profit. What the fuck
was in the hearts, the minds of rich and strong,
who met the sphinx and heard the riddle wrong?
Are infants wise until they learn to speak?
Can children see the goodness in our souls
as well as the reverse? When grownups seek
to gauge companions, have they lost controls
that served them well before they thought at length?
I’ve known stupidity in old and young,
seen ignorance in hundreds, and found strength
of comprehension from a child’s tongue.
Acute was I, observing folks around
my home, at school, within the neighborhood.
Less often than I met the kind, I found
a character who wasn’t nice or good.
And though our tally now exceeds three score,
the mean remain consistent at their core.
I changed my voicemail greeting every day.
It centered me, and let my callers know
if I was likely to be reached that way,
until last year. I bid the custom go,
retiring. Still, I kept a calendar
on paper: spiral notebooks, twelve a year.
Recording dates and projects made me sure
I’d not neglect the needful. That’s more gear
my future doesn’t want and I won’t mind,
but 40 years of habit cannot end
at once and without bumps. I’ll leave behind
the deadlines, notes and plans, but won’t pretend
a course without that ballast is sublime.
It may take months, adjusting to free time.
A splash of sunshine on a wooden floor,
a leafless tree with sparrows on its limbs,
a cloud-white teasing sky that should hold more
of rain for us, but winter storms are flim-
sy here – so far this year the weather’s dry,
and out of season burns the coastal range.
For these are times when stupid rulers fry
our culture, and then too, the climate’s strange.
We flip from wry amusement to disgust,
compiling irony from cable news,
complaining waning like we might adjust
to barbarous behavior. Don’t accuse
the weather of a plot against our glee,
but let’s impede today’s plutocracy.
A year ago, or once upon a time,
a race was won by an incompetent.
Exhibiting no quality a prime
executive must own, belligerent,
bombastic and unsure, his victory
surprised his own supporters even more
than how it rocked the rest of us. You see:
the Internet framed surreality.
Improbable became the state of us.
We mostly reeled in shock and froze at news.
Paralysis was melted by disgust,
but our disdain has made his base accuse
intelligence of biased act and word,
as if a fair shake’s owed to the absurd.
My father was a man of discipline.
He understood campaigns. Each strategy
was vascular, protected by a skin
composed of tactics fighting entropy.
So Dad was firm but fearful of routine;
he didn’t want to live as habit’s troll.
Each quarter he revised his morning scene,
fanatically, lest mindlessness control.
I used to laugh at the rigidity
with which he battled autonomic rule,
but then I met my own affinity,
the OCD, how fast I run on fuel
from habit I disdain and then repel:
I comprehend obsessive changing well.
A fortnight after Christmas, it’s my turn.
Exactly one week after New Year’s day,
I can’t avoid my birthday. Sure I yearn
for youthful vigor, and I loathe the lay
of lines around my mouth and squinting eyes,
but passion won’t suspend the march, restrain
the loss of collagen, or compromise
decrepitude. Yet Nature gives me rain
today – a gift from her to me and earth.
I’m fed and warm and sheltered in my nest.
I’ll spend the anniversary of birth
right here, among the habits I love best:
my favorite tasks and herbs and wishes sent
by family and friends – completely meant.