I’m taking a break.

I need time to adjust to some changes, and space in which to stretch.

I’ll be back.

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National Anthem

When I was young, my father musicked me
(by vinyl records and his reel-to-reel)
with opera, Broadway tunes and symphony,
in folksongs and their singalong appeal,
and Souza marches played by Army bands,
with jazz and ragtime, blues and their reverse,
and anthems from assorted foreign lands:
We all agreed “Finlandia” was first.

Admitting ours is difficult to sing,
the tune too forced to merit the attempt,
and words so weak they signify no thing
worth standing for, I scoffed and never dreamt
a swamp of fools would call it powerful,
and cast it as the season’s golden bull.

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Matriculating 50 years ago,
the season of reunion has arrived.
I went to two high schools, and so I know
too many overall, too few archived
to render tender time together now,
so I declined attending either drill.
But I examine Facebook posts – that’s how
I’m driven to recall them younger still.

From elementary school and junior high,
I feel I know the personalities
within some elders gentled, humbled by
the breakers that have tossed them to their knees.
Perhaps I shouldn’t journalize their youth,
but he was mean and she was vain, in truth.

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Neighborhood Shops

Jeremys Oct 8

Overheard in the Elmwood area of Berkeley, one October afternoon, as Del’s path crossed that of a middle-aged couple:

He (looking at the “Available” sign where Jeremy’s used to be): “Another one gone.”

She (with a glance at the storefront and then at her companion): “It’s getting to where all that’s left are nail salons and coffee places.”

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Resorting to the dictionary, I
was sick of hearing “sacred” used so much.
I can’t stop evolution, but I try
remembering the roots, to keep in touch
with origins. I’m never overnice,
but I appreciate syntax and wit.
Adoring words, my language is precise
(some turns of speech are inappropriate).

We need less icons and no frenemies.
To call a friendship bromance is just wrong.
We all should bear in mind that deities
define the sacred (and it’s not a song).
God doesn’t love bound fabric more than rag,
or want our veneration of a flag.

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At half past nine this morning, as I sat
beside my window, reading news and clues
to puzzles, I was startled by the flat
concussion of a missile off its cruise:
a sparrow struck the pane and fell on deck.
It ceased to move. I gave it time to wake,
but saw no life. I think it broke its neck.
I moved it under brush for pity’s sake.

Of late I seem beset by instant death –
by hurricane and flame calamities,
by loss of high school friends, diminished breath,
a colleague felled by self-propelled disease.
The straw that strains my back is near absurd:
the accidental death of one small bird.

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Surprise Ending

Accustomed as I am to be shut up
whenever I’m in Mom’s vicinity,
as much as I’m determined to put up
with disregard for my veracity
and memory (and cause she set the tone
at home, my dad and brothers joked along,
so I the oldest, only girl, alone,
was mocked with so much love it made me strong),
imagine my amazement yesterday,
when I attempted to expound a thought,
and saw my mother look at me the way
she would if it were my respect she sought.
My brothers didn’t interrupt or jeer;
I think they all think Mom’s demise is near.

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