Month: April 2012

fencing in peace

peace roses

Twas a mild ride
With mostly 100 mph winds
Of which to whine about.
But a casualty
Of dry, hot winter winds
Tipped the stalwart
Around my backyard
A refuge, courtyard
I’m used to things being broken here
Decided to build an even taller
With an imposing gate
To keep me in
Or them out.
Perhaps it will quiet the dogs.
Keep the kids from climbing the pickets.
The neighbors are phoning
Each other, I can hear them over the
Grind of concrete mixers.
I see them
Standing in their driveways.
(I know they make fun of my air brained schemes anyway)
as my unsuspecting accomplices
fill holes with cement
and the big shocker: steel poles.
To hold up the wooden planks.
It looks rather somber.
Like it might withstand a few winters
Snow, wind, drought, tornados.
But the last flurry of the season:
A day long shower of elm tree seeds
In 100 degree heat on April 23
Invading every bit of my privacy.

defense, offence or nay.
I will spend hours on my knees
Pulling the billion seedlings
From every new wall corner.

It’s my fence penance
And neighborhood vengeance
My wooden wail.

aw fence

wizedumb teeth

if only wisdom did come
From within our teeth
Strong enamel
To last nearly a
we could polish
and clean.
Baby teeth
Replaced as they
Wore out.
strong steel
from which to measure ourselves
true or falsely.
Not to be so.
For we lose
Our wisdom
And gain it
Most painfully.
Like the tooth of
The same name.
And hold heads
In pain
Swathed in medicines
As we watch a spring showfall
outside the picture windows.
pinkpurple petals
From the crab apple trees
Who seem to know
How and when
To let go

Jesse West Bridges

Warm as a Rock in the Sun

The Colorado campus where I finished my degree spanned blocks and familiar faces never crossed. There was no camaraderie, no closeness between groups. The women sparred like reality show contestants over men. Oddly, my sharp memory for detail offers little of those three semesters when I can remember nearly every word of my years as one of the rhyming six.

Although I have lived in the same house for nearly 15 years, I previously moved over 40 times since Cheryl Ann and I lived in Fort Collins. This may in fact take the Team of Six record. One I do not hold proudly and could account for our years of separations.

I began my career when I was 21 teaching high school. I taught in a dozen small towns throughout Nebraska and Colorado, including prisons, institutions, and agencies. Primarily, I assisted disadvantaged adults in their search for gainful employment. I was always a student, as well. Teaching certifications require nearly constant maintenance, and I attended nearly every college in Nebraska and Colorado.

The Teacher and The Student as One

I have this ever constant dream, that I am wandering about a college campus trying to find my classroom, dreading that I have not completed my assignments for most of the semester. Then, I learn that I am the instructor of the classroom, and me, without my text book.

I finished my career with a flourish as a community college instructor and grant administrator.

Changing jobs frequently, realizing I was perhaps a fine enough teacher but placed myself in impossible situations. Two of my first teaching jobs involved 12 students at levels kindergarten through grade 8. Basically all jobs are about teaching and being taught. If one has a good teacher, work flows easily. If one has good technique in learning, work flows easily. If one is a terrible teacher or unwilling student, it all grinds to a halt.

An obscure academic and genetic map took me on a journey with which I still struggle each hour. On a hot Labor Day weekend in 1990, I vacationed at our local hospital and inn. At a mere 90 pounds, I could hold onto that slender thread between earth and heaven no longer. The tiled hospital floor fell away into Light and I was pleased. There is no pain in the place of Light, no sound, no sickness.
But the choice was not mine to make. In a breath, I was back on the gurney with a dozen needles and some worried faces over me. I was angry. How beautiful was that place of omniscient Light.

I now walk an hourly tightrope in a school of Higher Learning. One I must remain at-balancing doses of medicines. With Loss comes gifts. My early retirement has brought me to this place of quiet and introspection. Where I do what I always wanted to do. Write my stories. For us, for our families, and perhaps for a few strangers, I record my musings for all of you until further instructions are submitted on my Flight Plan.
I often review all the houses in which I lived and the acquaintances of my life, I often fall back and lean against the warm red brick of that Nebraska college. In the fading sunset I rest against the dormitory wall looking at the faces I loved, in a place that will always be my second home.

Trials of Jesse West Peg and Meg

That gentle way

Meg with a black olive cake

Peggy was from a family farm nestled in a nearby town. She was more at home than the rest of us, as her farm was just a few short miles away. We all descended on the family farm one weekend and all of us felt the tug of a close working family in farm country. Most of us were reluctant, even then, to pull too far from that entrenched lifestyle. College seemed to flow for Peggy, she laughed instantly is consistently energetic and generous. She hasn’t changed so much over 30 years.
She married one of our fellow classmates and they have taught in rural private schools near her hometown. Ones with simple names that would make one smile. She has two beautiful daughters.
A Master’s Degree moved her technology skills up a notch to a spot as a Media/Technology Specialist, which makes her very much a part of this decade. It also makes her (along with Kay who also stares at a computer all day) resistive to email and social networking while away from work.
Peggy’s life mirrors Jan’s in that she lost her brother also about the same year as Jan. It is a cruel feeling to lose a sibling in what we consider our youth and outside our reasoning. But we believe in a higher plan, even when the pain of it is beyond bearing.

Meg’s light shown through us with a brilliancy that kept us from seeing into her past or future. She wandered after college enduring numerous moves and jobs. It was practice for the tests she would endure later. Family first, Meg lives far from us, but near her home town in The Land Of Popeye The Sailor, for she needs his mentoring, Meg offers us hints of her outstanding life as a parent, practice also gained from loving animals.
Meg’s first two children are beautiful, powerful athletes. But one came at the risk of a life and death struggle. And Life won. Just to make sure she never lacked for family God gave her handsome blonde, tall twin boys for her 40th birthday. Twins are a quite the commonality among the six.

She lives a life of passionate panic on a small family farm packed with dogs, horses, donkeys: all the creatures she brought to our dorm room. Now legally housed in the old family barn.
She, too, has taught for many years, and she, too, brings more than just words to her children and their children. She brings that same blinding brilliance into her classrooms along with the same creatures found in the manger.
All that’s missing so far are the fish.
She says she is gray now from her labors of love.
I say, grey is beautiful, sweet colors of the prism we have created.