Numbness

Numbness

Numbness, wandering like those in the day of the living dead,

entered the most feared, desolate, uninviting, forbidding, sickly-

faux serene place on the face of the earth, the funeral parlor.

 

None of these young people ever would have chosen in a

million years to be where they were at that moment in time

in the August of their lives just before going back to school.

 

In the place of the family viewing, the room reserved for the

uber-numb, the young, dead woman’s twenty-five year old

son approached the open casket to view the woman

 

he kissed goodbye just seven days before when she got on a plane

with his father to go on the first vacation they had gone on without

the kids since those two children had been born.

 

No one had looked in the casket until the son had.  He stared down

and exclaimed, “That’s not my mother.”  Others rushed up and looked

into the silk-lined, wooden sarcophagus

 

where the heavily made-up bloated creature with the blond

hair lie with rosy cheeks, puffy eyes and triple chin.  The super

expensive, completely empathetic funeral director was called

 

and said that they had done everything that they could do given

what they had to work with.  What they had to work with prior

to the pumped-in fluids had been a beautiful, blond, forty-nine

 

year old wife, mother, sister, daughter whose brain gushed with

blood and then whose cells were stuffed, chuck full of medicinal

fluids that just didn’t get drained after death.

 

The casket was slammed shut never to be opened again, burned

into ashes in the inland sea.  Guests from as far away as Kentucky

complained that they couldn’t have closure without

 

seeing the body. The son who first looked at the bloated body

squeezed into the oak boat and the daughter who kept busy pasting

photos so mourners would have views of her mom at her best

 

and the eighty-five-year old mother and the slightly older sister

and the husband who tried to hold his wife’s hand as she pushed

him away while screaming in pain on the gurney

 

knew there would never be the closure others sought and

would be granted but they just couldn’t let anyone see her that way.

They just couldn’t.

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I Wish For Bunnies

Here is six-year-old grand daughter Avery’s latest poem:

I Wish For Bunnies

I Wish For Bunnies

I wish for Bunnies

Bunnies and more Bunnies.

they would hop all around

and they would hop so

fast that they lost all there fur, so

they would be naked! When I

wished for the bunnies

they just randumly came out

of the forest.  The trouble was that

one day we ran out of carotts

then the bunnies starvd to death

then we had to save up for thousans

of dollars so the Bunnies

would not starv to death. then we

family got a thousen dollars.  so then

we bout so much carotts and the days

went by and they did not starv to death

Because they made there Birthday and

there wish was that they never ever

got hungry again and the wish came true

And we lived happicly ever after.

World War I Was a Mistake

World War I Was a Mistake

World War I was a mistake

The scholar said.

Millions dead.

You mean the war so Great!

Tony, the tiger roared

and bombs so bright soared.

Germany needed a break

From England

And Frenchmen

Sure, on the economic take.

So, the Bosnian Serb

Provided the nerve

To attack, a mistake.

Austrian dead

Where’s their head?

What sense does it make?

None, as rats,

Roaches and feral cats

The trenches for the take.

Blood, guts on soaking floor

Guys’ nuts, more and more gore

Splayed in the wake

Of marching mud

Caked thud

And body parts, ain’t it great?

Modern warfare,

How about some fanfare?

Yes! WWII and bombs to make

Proving over again

That the roaches, not men

Rats, feral cats do make

Along with Garlic

Mustard, the true invader

From Europe, the

Inheritors of the

Earth.

Make no mistake.

A Quarter Mile Down the Gravel Road

A Quarter Mile Down the Gravel Road

A quarter-mile down the gravel road, he saw the four there

And when he drove in the drive he felt a cold, icy stare,

From the son and daughter who made for the front door.

He then caught a view of the man named Joe on the riding mower.

 

He was here to see Joe and the family in such great need.

He climbed out of the car; Joe’s wife moved to intercede.

The mower had stopped, all things still and cold and distant,

She stopped him like a yellow police barrier insistent

 

That he watch out for her beloved who cut paths on the mower

Else she and her man and woman child would show him the door.

He meant no harm, but they were understandably protective

Of the man who was husband and dad and unprotected

 

Now with a disabling disease, something that made ill at ease

Everyone in the family and his guess everyone who tried to please

Those who were going through anticipatory grief and disbelief

Like the wife and son and daughter who stand in bass relief

 

On the grounds of the house that has the imprint of the man

All over it, house and yard and poll barn and vegetable garden.

The man named Joe, still big and strong and looking powerful

Had stopped the mower and everything became peaceful.

 

He had pulled, laboriously, one hand from the steering wheel

The key being turned with fingers that still had some feel,

Offering up that big, banana fingered hand with insistence

The other forearm, lifting and holding with patient persistence.

 

It was as if he was struggling to be as gracious as possible

Under the circumstances when the host should be hospitable,

But that was the way it was the visitor would find out

Over the course of months and months of family being stout

 

And Joe being gracious, hospitable and one of a kind

It seemed to the one who visited over and over in his mind.

Time went by and weekly visits progressed with mother

Son and daughter spirited away in the kitchen with another

 

Friend of the family.  They still seemed suspicious of  him

Who had driven up the drive that fall day and had seen them

In all their vulnerability, unable to change reality and no power

To make Lou Gehrig go away, that shadow who would glower

 

Over the ever weakening body of the man of the house

And make everyone there feel as if they had a dose

Of cold water tossed in their face. Wake up, wake up to reality!

No, no! Each would shout from the kitchen into eternity.

 

Joe’s voice was soft and warm like a late spring rain

He comforted the visitor with the ever same refrain

Which must have driven the family to distraction from the other

room as they heard him speak of prayer and the loving cover

 

Of God over all of them.  They felt only cold, piercing ice

Falling from the gutterless roof on their heads making a slice

Neat and quick which cut them to the quick, the shaft securing

Them to the ground, they were unable to move, no turning

 

Around, standing frozen by the kitchen sink hating more and more

The sounds of sadness spoken ever more quietly and uttered for

Peace and serenity. Joe couldn’t move his now thin, limp body

And his voice was so quiet even the attentive ears heard nobody.

 

The visitor knelt close to Joe’s supine stance to hear

And feel the soft, warm loving breath on his cheek, a whisper.

Joe saw the visitor’s tears stream down his face and he saw

The shoulders shaking, so with enormous will, Joe lifted his paw-

 

Like hand raised up with the monumental persistence

The visitor had seen in the fall. Now, done again with insistence

And placed, not dropped, on the folded hands of the weeping

Visitor.  It was Joe’s benediction for the visitor’s keeping.

 

They just stayed in that place of grace and the visitor could

See Lou standing with hat over heart while thousands stood

To hear him speak through tears the words unfurled

That he was the luckiest man in the world.

 

Joe’s eyes were shut, his breathing shallow

The family stood at the door sensing they needed to follow

Through the thin place into that sacred space

Of peace, and love and Eternal Grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wetbehindtheears Preacher

The Wetbehindtheears Preacher

The wetbehindtheears preacher from up north

wanted to make inroads early on with his Southern

Presbyterian, but mostly Baptist at heart and surely

in practice not bothering much with theology

country congregation, so he volunteered to

 

help the boys with chopping tobacco. The dusty,

tobacco stained overalled men with scuffed up,

beaten down Wolverine work boots, deep, deep

down dirty almost up to the first knuckle fingernails

of hands holding super sharp scythes, just looked at

 

him with smiles on their faces. “Here you go, Rever-

end or can I call you Brother Bob?” as he thrust a sickle,

handle first the preacher’s way. “Brother Bob is fine,

just not Pastor Bob, please,” which he thought a con-

descending, patronizing, contradiction in terms used

 

by preachers who want to show that they are just

ordinary Joes, but who really hold a position of authority

and holy distinction like Pastor Joe over those in the

pews. “We’re all brothers and sisters in Jesus,” he offered

in a lame attempt by someone who wasn’t very much

 

like these particular brothers.  He didn’t have bib-

overalls much less stained bib-overalls, so he wore

his polyester jogging pants, a tee-shirt from a 10-K

race he had been in up in Bowling Green and a pair

of Brooks running shoes and a Nike sweat band.

 

“What do you want me to do?”  “First thing, watch out

for your toes. Those fancy tennis shoes ain’t gonna offer

much protection.”  He watched the brothers cutting down

the plant with one swipe of the blade.  “Better yet, give me

back that blade, Brother Bob. You’ll hold this here stick and

 

when we hand you the cut tobacco, you jam it on the stick

and when the stick is full just hoist it on the frame set up

in the bed of the truck and grab yourself another stick.

Others will be doin’ the same thing so watch out.” Well,

the egalitarian, just-one-of-the-boys brother took the stick

 

and proceeded to get stuck between rows of hanging tobacco.

Those full sticks were coming fast and furious.  “Where’d the

preacher go?” Brother Bob ducked down, crawled underneath

the tobacco and raised up thinking he would joke his way out

and said, “Once I was blind but now I can see,” followed

 

by “Once I was lost but now I’m found. Tah dah!” as he came

back up on the outside of the tobacco hanging on the stick.

Unfortunately, just as he uttered “Tah dah!” he encountered a

cottering pin sticking out of the corner of the frame and sliced

his skull to the bone and  four inches long.  The blood of the

 

lamb spurted everywhere, some landing as far as the door

handle of the house next door. His workday ended after

just four minutes on the job.  “Somebody take this young

and innocent brother next door to get a towel.” All the others

kept working. They had to get the tobacco in that night.  Head

 

wrapped in a towel, he drove himself into town looking like a

young, bloody Sikh.  “Wasn’t that that new preacher? Sure

doesn’t look like a Presbyterian to me.” a woman said as he

sped by. The men just shook their heads as he left, no one

offering to drive him. The tobacco had to get put up in the barn.

 

It was Saturday. Sunday, his second with the congregation,

he would have the turban off, but a big, really big patch in its place.

He would stand in his black robe and red face and watch the

sisters dressed in their Sunday best with big smiles on their faces.

The brothers would duck down in the pews trying hard to hold

 

back laughs and tears streaming down their faces while they

picked at those ever-dirty nails. Brother Bob would ask them

to bow their heads and shut their  eyes and wait on the Lord

in silence, emphasizing  “silence,” while he would shout the

pastoral prayer over the giggles and guffaws.

He’s Not Back Yet, Is He?

He’s Not Back Yet, Is He?

She’s run around the world, twenty-five thousand

Miles, the equivalent of running around the globe

At the equator over forty-three years.

 

Her husband wonders how she ran across all that

Water, funny guy that he is. He ignored the part

About equivalent.  She says not to worry

 

And wonder at my feet’s feat. She was just follow-

Ing in Jesus’ steps rather than jogging in the sandals

Of The Fisherman, The Rock, The

 

Pope, The Guy who made it a few steps out of the

Boat and went kersplash, kerplop. Well, what

Do you expect of someone named Rock?

 

Her Husband, clever man that he is, asks from

His place on the family couch, “So, Darling,

If you are following Jesus and just

 

Skipping across the seas like a rock skipping

Along the top of the water, how come it

Took you forty-three years?”  She

 

Just looks him in the eye, before walking

Out the door for her morning jog, and

Says, “I didn’t want to show him up.”

 

“Besides,” she adds as she closes the door

Behind her, “He’s not back yet, is he?”

I’m Watching Glee

I’m Watching Glee

I’m watching Glee and transported back fifty years plus

To the days that she and I were in choir together.

For three years starting our senior year when I used to watch

Her climb a couple of steps of the riser to her seat

And I was mesmerized by her profile from the rear, and ending

When she unceremoniously dumped me and

Continued dating a Harvard guy doing graduate work in physics at

The University of Illinois and I was still in my second

Year of life in the local community college, we were in love.

During the next fifty plus years, I had an unbelievable love affair

And marriage of twenty-six years to the mother of my two children

And my soul mate even though we fought like

Cats and dogs (She was the cat and I was always the dog.)

And never really grew up in relation to each other.

She died one day, in one day, while we vacationed for the first

Time without the kids after that quarter of a century plus.

Two years, much counseling, prayer and running hard five miles

Six days a week later, I married a beautiful young widow

Who started jogging with me.  We jogged together this morning

With our third Chocolate Lab on the trails near our

Home along the shores of Lake Michigan.  We’ve been jogging,

Kayaking, cycling, backpacking, tent camping together

For sixteen plus years of marital bliss (at least from my

Perspective), and yet, when I got the news

Through an internet search, I went into this funk from which I still

Have to emerge. I don’t mean I love her in that

Splendor in the Grass adolescent way and yearn to recapture that

Which is long gone.  She had been an intimate part of my life

Intensely in an intense, tumultuous time and probably with not a lot of

Maturity. We hadn’t spoken in all those years and

To be perfectly honest I was hoping to see her at our 50th class reunion to acknowledge

The significance of that experience on my life. But I can’t.  She died, divorced I

Think, alone, for all I know, or maybe with her two kids two thousand plus miles from what

Had been her home of cancer at 64. I hate it when people I know die what I consider

Prematurely, suddenly or without my knowledge or approval/never (They need my approval

To die?) approval only to find it out In a Google search.

They’re cheated; I’m cheated. We’re all cheated. A wake-up call.

I look at my wife, love her more than ever and, yes, tell her.

I hold her close and the dog nibbles at my fingers, nudges between

Us and whines and barks his disapproval.  He wants her

For himself.  Can you blame him? He is spontaneous; affectionate, no holds barred,

Effusive with his love. I may be a dog but I should be more like

That Chocolate dog.

She Just Up and Pulled Up Stakes

She Just Up and Pulled Up Stakes

She just up and pulled up stakes

For some reason after a long, long season.

Her husband asked her to put on the brakes,

But she had, had it for what she believed was good reason.

 

One just never knows what gives behind

Closed doors away from public view. A daughter shot

A stare, “I’m sure to those outside we look just fine —

Family of four: dad, daughter, son and a mom that’s hot.”

 

The nuclear group who moved away

From classmates, siblings, parents to name a few

Settled among the halls of ivy for many winters’ stay.

Building academic reputations and hobnobbing too

 

With other academics, spouses and uber-

Smart offspring. T.S. Eliot’s Cocktail Party went

On and on, too long and she dropped into a totally torpored stupor

Until one day and many boring infidelities spent

 

She got in the car and drove as far

West as she could landing in the Wild West

Where she practiced the art of weaving at the bar.

She ruminated and thought she gave it her best,

 

And then without guilt she decided to live

Life to the fullest with whatever time she had left,

So she chucked the loom, said I’ll take instead of give

For awhile and rediscover exactly what is bereft

 

In a life of giving, giving, giving

Before it’s all gone, and then a friend in curiosity

Googled her name to see where she was living

And read with shock and disbelief her obituary.

 

The rabbit jumped down the hole: “I’m late,

I’m late for a very important date. No time to say hello,

Goodbye. I’m late, I’m late, I’m late. I’m late.”

Do not collect two hundred dollars; do not pass go.

The Pastor Left the Church Today

The Pastor Left the Church Today

The pastor left the church today;

Everything was left in disarray.

Or so it seemed and it sure felt that way,

As the pastor got in and drove away.

 

He told them months ago he was on his way,

But, of course, they just pined the days away

In denial really about the coming day

That it wouldn’t happen and would just go away.

 

But it didn’t just go away,

And now they just stand and sway

Back and forth in great dismay

About the pastor who left the church today.

 

She said she was leaving by the end of the day.

He didn’t believe her at least not that way.

Maybe she would visit her mother along the way

But leave him and the kids? There was no way.

 

But he did and she did and it happens everyday

And nobody seems to catch on along the way

That relationships end that way after so much to say.

Perhaps they just wanted to get out of the fray,

 

Maybe they had grown in a different way.

Maybe they had tried and tried but couldn’t stay

Any longer and they didn’t know exactly what to say

After so many years and so many miles along the way

 

In a relationship that just stood still and needed to go away.

But the pain that’s felt in the gut all hours of the day

Is something that resolutely just won’t go away.

And so knees hit the floor and heads bow to pray

 

That they can pick up the pieces, which seem in disarray

Until such time that they can get it together and say

“Oh, what the hey! It’s time to learn from the past and

Get on the way.”  What’s the alternative? Isn’t one death

 

Enough?

 

 

 

 

The Conservative Brain, It’s Not Sin; It’Sin the Genes

The Conservative Brain, It’s Not Sin; It’Sin the Genes

It appears they can’t help themselves.

It’s all in the genes it seems.  It’s not sin;

it’sin the genes. Science is

 

telling us that the conservative’s brain is

different from the liberal’s brain.  The lib-

eral brain lives in bright, beautiful grays,

 

appreciates scientific methodology, reflects,

thinks critically. The conservative brain is black

and white and authoritarian all over.

 

It isn’t their fault. It isn’t a fault.  It’s genetics.

It’s not sin; it’sin the genes.  Conservatives are

conservative like hetero-

 

sexuals are heterosexual, or if I may, homo-

sexuals are homosexual, even though con-

servatives wouldn’t

 

go along with that, but because it’s in their

brains not to go along, they can’t be held

responsible. It isn’t some-

 

thing they can change. They shouldn’t be judged

because they don’t read. It’s not sin; it’sin the genes.

They shouldn’t be judged

 

because they just sit and stare at Fox News.  It isn’t their

choice.  They can’t help it.  It’s not sin; it’sin the genes.

Politically, don’t be mad at Boehner,

 

Cantor, or jolly-not, jowly Mitch McConnell mumbling

through his senate pronouncements.  It would be like being

angry with an autistic child.

 

Cantor can’t help it.  Neither can McConnell, or that

seemingly crazy (forgive me, I know he can’t help it) represent-

ative from northern Illinois

 

or the slow spoken senator from Alabama who says

Obama is incompetent because some secret service guys

in Columbia let out

 

the secrets along with their privates.  We just have to let

Boehner cry because he can’t help it. It’s not sin;

it’sin the genes.

 

However, Mitt Romney may very well have free-

will and is not predestined to hold this position or that.

In which case, it’sin and not in the genes.