Month: December 2013


My thanks to my cousins MAB and MCB who inspired me to writ this bit


Identical cousins are we
planted within the same year
on this earthbound journey

When north polar express gales
I tip. I lean precariously
When Chinook pulls on my foliage head
My root arms lift up sod
I have that hollow feeling inside

Barking beetles boring into my layers
Sloughing off the years
Like cotton would

sighs of cousins fingertips
aspen against poplar
brushing by like dust
bring that welcome
minute relief
just knowing we share each others long history

but 50 years is a mere blink In gods eyes
it is just there I sense it

that hallowed feeling inside

post office complaints

I apologize to my faithful readers but this is a story that I remember every year at this time because of its innocence and simplicity.
Sometimes I just can’t beat an ages old story. And this is one of them.
This is paraphrased from the writings of my Aunt Faye in Blue Glass Plates. it is so sweetly poignant as it provides us a snapshot for a Christmas in the 1940s.

Turkey Tales

My Great Grandma Katherine spent hours every day caring for her flocks of poultry, ever watchful of snakes, stray dogs, and coyotes near her new home, poetically dubbed Rim of the Prairie. In October of 1941, her diary records that Great Grandpa Louis killed a 40 inch rattler on the bunk house step.

In particular, she raised prized turkeys which were capable of short distance escapades. Ageless at 66, Katherine would saddle one of her ponies, Snow White or Pokey, and patiently herd the turkey flock home from their sojourn to the Arkansas River.
The purpose of these fine turkeys were not just for sale, $150 precious 1940 dollars for 80 of the fowl ($1500 in today’s money) but as gifts to her closest family members. Grandpa and Grandma lived in the remote south eastern Colorado town of, yes really, Fowler. So the 1940s answer was simple and straight forward. She prepared ‘dressed’ turkeys by wrapping them first in waxed paper, then in brown paper and tied securely with cotton string.
Then, she mailed them. Parcel post. Mail moved by railway and items were sorted while the train was moving: packages took approximately three days. (Imagine, if you can, the surprise of a postal worker, sorting 5 immense turkeys on board). (Now, imagine the response of such an attempt today at your local post office).
Great Grandma’s diary records the mailing of one set of Christmas gifts on December 17, 1946. The Farmer’s Almanac reports that during this week, the daytime temperatures were 47 degrees, night temps 30, with no snow throughout the month. The Almanac further reports that Christmas Day throughout the plains of Colorado was 64 degrees. On December 23, my mother’s family, had not yet received their turkey. A family visit to the Postal Service Annex in Downtown Denver’s Union Railroad Station initiated an all out search in a huge, tin roofed building, appropriately sided by chicken wire. The large, lumpy 12 pound package was fairly visible on the top shelf. Apparently, times they were a’changing as modernization crept in. Clearly written on the side was the correct address with the mail carrier’s note, “City carriers do not deliver large packages to your mail box.”

My mother’s family was thrilled by the prospect of the feast as they were all hungry for the ‘fresh’ turkey. All the trimmings accompanied this fresh turkey, as had been done for the one before and the one before that.

Grandma Katherine’s diary does not provide insight for further Christmas gifts, but she lived past the century mark. Makes one wonder, how long did she battle the mainstream, mailing turkeys parcel post?

cold shoulder to prayer


My eyes are frozen
My glasses fogged
I can’t see even though
It’s a sunny Colorado Day
The temps hover at 0
But there’s no wind
Yellow Dog braces me
As the sidewalk dips and sways
Curves, ices, twists
No need to struggle to see through
My hats, hoods, scarves.

My huge clunky snow boots
Keep me from feeling
Potholes, patches, sinkholes, turns
I grip tightly
As his thick harness and frozen leash
Lead on
He instinctively falls into his seeing eye dog role
We’ve practiced walking on ice
He slows when I slow
Counter balances when I waiver

Normally pulling and straining at his leash
He leans in close so I can feel his ribs along my knees
Rise and fall
Skate and skip
We maneuver through silent streets
Fog, mist of a ghostown
He knows his job
And he takes it seriously

Holding back the impulse to dart
After squirrels taunting him from the oaks

We’ve reached the open field
He laughs and talks a bit
In his yowling howling yaps.
I release his leash
I’m a leech pulled from him
He covers some ground
Like a pinto pony
He’s the same color as this earth
Copper and white
Reeds and snow
I can’t see him for the blinding glare
My useless glasses
The empty leash feels lonely
In my hand and I strain to find him in the field
He’s turned back to check on me
Before I give him A signal to run
…toss a ball with a bit of crumpled snow and mud
” Go. Go” my hands speak for me
Because My voice is croaky
He’s been locked inside for days
He needs the run.
He blurs into the tumbleweeds and rushes

Already he’s reached the canal
I feel panicky without him to guide.
Me over
hidden prairie dogs caverns

My calls are muffled by three scarves
Rising wind. Rising panic
And a strange repetitious
cherclunk noise from sugar factory hydraulics

I’m starting to get really cold
I’m frightened without him
I can’t whistle, for I’m already
Feeling windburnt on my face
I can’t see him
And I start to cry
I call, cluck, clap,stomp
Why won’t he come?

My screams come out as little coughs of steam
He’s nowhere to be seen.
I drop into frosted weeds
My head in my hands

Like all my prayers screamed against the cirrusky
Silence is the response
But He’s there. He reads my fear from 1000 feet.
‘I am here. Just reach out
When have I ever left your side?
Lets go home.
My paws are cold.’

He snuffs at my tears, shakes as if he’s been soaked.
He takes the leash into his mouth and tugs.
We stumble together along the iced railroad tracks.

I wonder if I have some of those Pupperoni sticks.
He deserves a bagful.
I look down to make sure he’s there.
‘Wanna snack?’
He laughs
‘i was there all the time, ya know.’

I do now.

Dad views bikes through life’s lens

Years ago, maybe 30, I drove a woman, her daughter and son (about 8 years old ) to and from church on a weekly basis. One Sunday the son saw a bicycle a little ways from the church parking lot, “No one is watching” he said, “I think I’ll take it”.

Faith destroyed.
Then maybe 30 years later I received a message about a free boy and his new bike. Faith restored!

“In my mind I envision ( myself. A ‘new old” bike cast off from a Rich relative for Christmas. Happy to learn to ride it, falls and all)
Sailing my ‘new’ bike
Wind through my hair.
the lack of brakes

Of no concern as
first flakes fly

He doesn’t feel the cold
Just free.”

♥ I’m FREE, Dad, ♥

bicicleta gratis

It’s an oddly warm afternoon on November 25-ish

(I don’t bother with calendars or clocks any more)
for a hundredth time
Yellow dog and I amble thru prairie dog hills and holes
To view TriState Canal

An essential feature in this desert land.
Still full to the banks with September’s

‘Once in10,000 year flood waters.’

like bizarre Colorado weather 

I find something peculiar there every day
It’s 70 degrees again
errant wave or county ditch rider
Has tossed a child’s bike onto the low bank weeds.

it’s a lost amphibian
submerged for months
Chain, nuts, bolts rusted but
Still rideable.

With my knees tapping my shoulders
And yellow dog laughing beside me
we must appear an odd circus act as
I balance treacherously for a block home
On a tiny child’s toy lost to raging water.
I wonder if anyone is watching

But maybe most everyone is used to me by now.

I tidy up the little frog
Oil the chains and bolts.
Except for the brakes

Like a little chameleon

it appears new
I am too lazy to take it to Goodwill
So I peddle it to JustDownaBlock catholic church
leave it in a ragtag children’s bike rack
As I walk away, looking back at the toy

I wonder what kind of world we live in?
Is the world basically honest
Or evil?
Are others out only for themselves
Or can a loose bike survive a day
In warm November breezes?

A week passes. Little Green
Sits alone still
I can see it from my picture window.

I feel restored by humankind’s honesty

I make a sign
‘Free bike
una bicicleta gratis’

(In my worst Spanish)
Paper flapping dangerously in the rising wind
I can see  dark wave clouds moving over distant mountains

A squall is coming
The next day, froggy bike is gone
Permission granted to start another life
My faith in humanity restored
At least in this neighborhood.

70 degrees suddenly

Flips to 17

In what I guess is two hours time
I can smell snow in the air.
In my mind I envision
Somewhere a pint sized person
Is sailing his ‘new’ bike
Wind through his hair.
the lack of brakes

Of no concern as
first flakes fly

 He doesn’t feel the cold
Just free.

benny and the accidental tourist

“One pill makes you larger. And one pill makes you small.
Go ask Alice when she’s ten feet tall.” White Rabbit

Sleep evades me
Every night of my life
Sheep won’t line up to be counted
No Zzzzzzs appear
No dreamless slumber
No visions of sugarplums
I used to stare at the dark
Breathe deep yoga breaths
In for count of 10, hold,
out for count of ten
Sleep never came easily for me
Except in those long away
Working summer afternoons
As three o’clock approached
I could scarce keep my eyes open

Now at three am
I play scrabble against
A ruthless computer.
Facebook cyber spy
On ppl that annoyed me.
fast forward black and white movies on tivo

A kindly doctor
Thinking he was doing me
A favor
Offered me a tiny white sleeper
Just one more to my growing pill stack

It was a glorious thing
Sleeping through noisy nights
Comatose to thunderstorms
Fireworks and barking dogs
Five years I slept in peace
In the bosom of Benny Zopene

A google search
Brought knowledge
I feared
Blunted brain
Dulled senses
Panic rising, not falling
Short term Memory fading

I was an accidental addict
My body needed the drug
Or else.

It was time to face
Or else.
As the wicked witch said:
These things must be done delicately

Even so
I’ve suffered the curses of
A thousand thirsty camels
In a sandstorm
As Benny Z. will not release his grip
So easily
Months now into
What is called Detox
(a place I never dreamed I would have to go)

My hands tremble so that
I can’t hold a cup of herbal tea
My knees fail under me
I trip over rugs, dogs, shoes, socks
None of which are there.
I’ve broken every plate and glass in the cupboard.
I wear sunglasses inside
To watch tv
Muscles cramp and twitch
My teeth hurt
I stare at food
It looks familiar
But it doesn’t interest me
My heart goes out to anyone who has tried to stop smoking, drinking, gambling.

I’m too sick to talk, drive, shop
I forget what I mean to say
I stumble over familiar phrases.
I wear clothes piled up on the floor
I won’t wash my hair. or clean my glasses
In this place where Benny reigns as King
I take three more pills to counteract
his exit,
stage right.
I attend thanksgiving dinner
At my mom’s house
but only Via Skype webcast

Poetry fails to find me
There’s no rhythm nor rhyme
In this place
Where I scarce can leave my bed
But where I cannot sleep

Benny Z and I are nearly through
I’ve shaved a little more fuzz off his face
Every day
My words come easier
that will require another white pill
Another accidental tour