The Reason Not


I could have set the cheesecake to defrost
at 8 p.m. and tasted it by 9:
15, but that would mean I would have lost
the benefit of buffering its fine-
milled carbohydrate with protective fat.

A cheesecake’s best preceded by a meal.

I’m pleased to note I’ve taken note of that,
now context more than calorie is real.

I used to count to serve a plan to save
allowance for my evening gourmet sweet.
Those snacks were isolated carbs that gave
my mouth reward, and woke me up to eat,
but gained me pounds and insulin at best,
so now I give the dark of night to rest.

Posted in Behavior Modification, Food, Health, Poetry | Leave a comment



Prepared for atom bombs when we were 8,
we ducked and covered as the school ran drills.
And then the teachers tried to educate
our class till we developed earthquake skills.
So California kids were taught to dread
a cold war that was destined not to burn,
and battered with “the big one” fears instead,
as often as vaccines. What did we learn?

The end could come from sudden bomb or quake,
from angry men or mystifying God.
So few of us suspected we would make
the worst ourselves, from climate change and sod
built over till the conflagrations grow.
It does no good to say “I told you so.”

Posted in Poetry, Weather | Leave a comment



It isn’t fair how fortunate I am.
I haven’t great accomplishments or wealth.
A member of a loved and loving fam-
ily, enjoying more of elder health
than all my nuts and exercise deserve,
abiding in a friendly neighborhood,
in air swept clear by atmospheric curve,
my days are happy and my kids are good.

I made an effort, sure, but what got built
is better than imagined or designed.
I wonder I don’t feel survivor guilt –
Do I donate enough? Should I be fined
for sharing failure? I don’t see the means
to fairly allocate the magic beans.

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Pop Beads

Pop Beads

Delightful weather summoned me outside
again, though I’d acquired what I’d need
for now, tonight, tomorrow. I could bide
within, but sun and wafting breeze decreed
that I inhale the local air and tread
upon the cracked concrete. I thought I’d buy
pistachios, or maybe macs instead:
I’d see which nutmeat sooner caught my eye.

But I was struck before I got that far,
by parking in perspective seldom seen.
One corner to the next, car after car
a compact, nose to butt, no air between,
the block was that remarkable and neat:
a chain of pop-bead cars adorned its street.

Posted in Neighborhood, Poetry, Weather | Leave a comment

Second Half


My parents didn’t seem to get along,
when I was young and watching them at first.
Their differences were daily loud, but strong
inhibitors annealed them so they cursed
in mumbles and apologized for bed.
They stuck together, struck agreement, screamed
and slammed some kitchen cabinets instead
of heads, so durable their marriage seemed.

But something happened when we children left.
Then Mom forsook her cigarettes and soon
she joined a gym with Dad. So unbereft
they made their nest a second honeymoon,
and blazed a path together, fond and fair,
at last a model of a worthy pair.

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She lately hates her teeth, and can’t abide
the image that her photograph arrests.
Her pose before a mirror shows the side
that she prefers; in shop-glass, face and chest
don’t look too bad, but cameras always still
her face and freeze her upper arms and stance.
The compositions nearly make her ill –
she’d sooner close her eyes than chance a glance.

It’s true. She’s getting old. Her face has grooves
beside her mouth and all around her eyes.
Her skin’s lost elasticity and proves
that 68’s not prime. But someone wise
and older yet took her aside to say:
“You’ll never be as young. Don’t waste today.”

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Del is an active eavesdropper. That’s not to say she kneels at keyholes or holds glasses up to walls (although she did that once, in a Chicago hotel with her husband, to try to decipher what the couple next door were yelling about, and she was impressed with how well the device worked).

No, Del hasn’t ever even lingered outside a door, before entering a room or after leaving, to get a clue about what the inhabitants think of her. Her eavesdropping is disinterested. It’s the opposite of egotistical. It’s fly-on-the-wall reception, and she engages in it most days.

She isn’t comfortable when she’s in an automobile. Del doesn’t like to drive or ride in a car, and she’d rather not use taxis or Ubers or Lyfts. She sometimes wonders if her aversion is about being strapped in – after all, she dislikes air travel too – but she suspects instead that she just doesn’t want to be that participatory or social, when she is moving. She can do without the work of driving or of being companionable.

Whatever the case, she doesn’t own a car or miss one. She avoids getting in the vehicles of others too. So she often rides AC Transit buses, SF Muni cars, BART trains. She walks a lot, and because she always lives in a neighborhood where she can walk, she walks among  others. Whenever Del is out, she’s with many strangers. She’s forever overhearing others’ talk.

She finds most of what she hears interesting. There’s so much more than can fit in a car. She listens to school kids near her on buses, to office workers complaining on trains, to friends chatting on the streets. Sometimes she has the experience of co-hearing, with a stranger, the conversation of a party neither knows, and sharing a moment of eye-connecting, smiling mutual appreciation for the show.

For last week’s eavesdrop, Del was alone. It was a lovely Thursday afternoon, and she was walking south on College, twenty minutes away from home and about five away from her destination, when she caught up with three pedestrians at the Claremont traffic light.

She hadn’t noticed them when walking past the Safeway plaza. She edged to their right and a few inches ahead of them near the curb, and together they waited for the four-way signal to step through its process.

The individual closest to Del spoke to her companions. “I’m in a transitionary period right now,” she announced. Del cast her peripheral vision leftward and caught the impression of three adults – female, male, female as they extended sideways. They seemed to be forty-somethings, white, a little chubby. The far female had a toddler-occupied stroller ahead of her. The woman closest to Del continued. “It’s been going on six months, it’s crazy sometimes, but I have to say, I’m enjoying it.”

Then the man spoke. “That’s great. You know, a lot of my friends say ‘As soon as the dust settles, I’ll get on with my life.’ They don’t seem to realize: the dust settling is their life.”

Del smiled. The voices were without regional accent: pure northern Californian. At that moment, the light turned WALK for all of them. She glanced left and back as everyone began to cross. The woman closest had lank blonde hair. The stroller-pusher was a brunette and so was the toddler. The man had dark barbered hair and wore baggy plaid shorts. He met Del’s eyes and they nodded grins at one another.

It was just a brief precious moment of agreement. Of shared life.

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