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Sunday, December 03, 2017

Living Landscape

Flocking, frolicking juncos scratching seeds in frosted gardens;
roiling, boiling, crackling, cooling lava blanketing the landscape.
 
 
 

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Batman Works for the CIA

Mother recently told me about a childhood friend,
A boy I’d played Caped Crusader with
Nearly everyday after kindergarten.
I was Robin to his Batman.

At his house we wore towels for capes, and
Were actually permitted to jump from
Sofa to coffee table to chair in pursuit of
The Joker or, my favorite, the Penguin.

At mine, our capes were mimed as a
Backyard plum tree provided the obstacle
To climb, dodge, and drop from as we narrowly
Escaped injury in time for PB&Js dunked in milk.

Our mothers kept in touch through the years
As we moved about the country,
She and her husband still in that cozy northern
Ohio home a block or two from our first house.

“Apparently he works for the CIA now,” Mother said.
Since learning this news, I’ve envied him. At first for
Becoming what I’d only ever dreamed of. But as I grow older,
I am jealous he can return home to a place he knows well.

My family continued to move, finally depositing me
In a New England college town like sediment left  
Behind by an iceberg on its travels; the rest 
Eventually migrated to Southern California.

In the year before he grew ill, Dad was accompanied
Everywhere he went by a new security guard. Mother
Would complain that the guard was eating with them
Again and sleeping in their guest room again.

The guard even traveled with Dad to his new
Destination of China and places around the region.
We wondered why Mother was no longer invited
To journey with him as she had so many times while

He visited the English plants that he managed from
This side of the pond, the German manufacturers with
Which he often did business, and his Italian relatives
With whom he was pleased to finally become acquainted.

None of us knew why he was suddenly sending us selfies 
From the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square, yet saying 
Little about his new Far East adventures other than they 
Were equipment-purchasing forays from retired mills.  

In an office desk drawer, which Mother thought
Was jammed as, upon his death she cleaned out
His personal effects, and which my brother
Successfully jimmied open, was a handgun.

“He was a decent shot,” said the guard who
Suddenly darkened the threshold, there
To retrieve the weapon. But we knew
Dad could not possibly have been. After all,

We’d seen him shoot his 22, balancing the butt of
The gun in his armpit as he used a hand to cover
His eye and the other to pull the trigger because
He couldn’t blink. How could he possibly sight a pistol?

Apparently he’d been trained to work around his
Odd handicap. He’d had to learn for his own
Protection. Not even an undercover CIA operative
Posing as the new head of security could protect

My father twenty-four-seven from the 
Hit that had been placed upon his head 
By a foreign government. Perhaps all his
Training had been for naught after all.

When he suddenly fell ill with stage-four 
Cancer—dying five months later—he often 
Said cryptically that it probably wasn’t 
Natural causes that got him in the end.

Dad had been spying for Congress. Foreign steel had
Flooded the marketplace, purchased illegally by unscrupulous
Businessmen who dared blame their shady dealings on legal
Loopholes that allowed them the luxury to shun domestic steel.

A contingent from a country south of north had allegedly taken a
Contract out on my father. Either they or natural causes—
Or perhaps all those chemicals he’d been exposed to over
The years—got him before he could deliver his expert testimony.

He’d spent many more than Malcolm Gladwell’s ten
Thousand hours earning his reputation for greatness
In the wire mills of the world, and could easily identify shifty
From legal, frugal from dangerous, and strong from fragile.

He also knew how to recognize working mills from
Reportedly retired ones, which may have been the
Final nail in his coffin—
Or cancerous tumor in his spine.

My father had worked undercover with the CIA
As a super-secret agent for our government,
Giving me yet another reason to admire him.
I wondered if he and my kindergarten Batman

Ever worked together, feeling a sudden pang of
Jealousy if they had. But as time continues on,
What I most envy is that my childhood friend is 
Still able to return home and visit with his father.
  
  

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dad of Steel

This morning as I fill and flip an
omelet, spread probiotics over the
dogs' breakfasts, measure chicken for
my husband's lunch, I half watch a
public television travel show host tour
the country ruled by a government that
years ago took a hit out on my dad.

That is one place I'll never go, I think.
Until he ends with a celebration of
Buddha's birthday and a chance meeting
with the American ambassador and his
dog out for a stroll and breakfast supplied
by the myriad of street vendors.

My father's slight against that country's
leaders was recognizing a trade
imbalance; they were dumping illegal
steel into the American marketplace.
Hired by our government to spy,
trained and protected by an agent
of the CIA, my father instead
succumbed to an aggressive cancer.

Within a few months of its discovery,
he was gone. Once in conversation with
my mother he apparently hinted at the origin
of his illness--wondering if it was natural
or planted, while also recognizing it may
have simply been the multitude of chemicals
his professional life was built around.

In our current age of political madness with
a commander in chief who, during a debate
with the other party's candidate, bragged
about using illegal foreign steel to construct
some of his buildings, I now understand
how money drives maniacal power.

And I wonder if my father's death was
a convenient coincidence for the foreign
powers, or a plotted timeline that cut him
down before his scheduled expert
testimony before congress.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Christmas without the ha$$le

For Christmas this year,
Our family has decided to
Exchange handmade gifts.

Spices neatly wrapped,
A cake freshly baked,
A poem, a picture, a whittled spoon.

It doesn't matter the form,
Only that we are together
Making memories and sharing love.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Soup

Soup has always
for me been a starter
to a meal,
not the meal itself.

Older now,
and a wee bit wiser,
I eat soup
as a complete meal.

This morning it is breakfast,
ham and artichoke hearts in
thinned Thanksgiving gravy,
the perfect starter to my day.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Discounting Time

Today I could unfurl my sails
and surf the net, lonely,
in and out of waves of storefronts
boasting 10 percent off this, 25 percent
off that, buy one/get one, or land a
free phone with a two-year contract.

Today only.

If only today I could open our front door
to the rush of friends and relatives who
blew in Thanksgiving afternoon; our
King Arthur table stretched to an oval
with five leaves that held all the
boisterous rollicking of the pop-up
party as we laughed over stories,
debated the politics of slavery, and
read aloud notes of gratitude penned
in green on beige paper hand cutouts.

Then only.

If stores could then only offer us 25 percent
more time together, instead of tempting us
with stuff to buy and give, that's a cyber
deal I could jump on and ride; instead of
these cyber Monday blues, today we might
again cook together, swap recipes, hike the
local trails with our canine friends, and play
the silly games we had planned to, but for
which time ran out before the night was done.

If only.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Keeping Up With

I'm not sure I can do this--
Write a novel.
And yet I know I can.

Pen to paper.
Fingers to keys.
Plod forward, trying to keep up with my characters.

Wait. What did he just say to her?
What would he say?
Who is that approaching?
And now a dog is in their lives?

The story fascinates the storyteller.
It better.
If not, it won't entertain anyone at all.

On writing a novel.
Daily meditation writing
after penning a portion
of Chapter Twelve
in my current novel,
Fermi's Redux.