What I Really Was Like

Carlos Neruda wrote of a

dog who waited for the self-

professed atheist/Communist

 

in doggie heaven. I, Christian

that I am, have four who wait

for me – three Chocolate Labs

 

who will slobber all over me

with celestial saliva and slap

my face with tails lifted high

 

and swaying in pious praise

and one Beagle/ Dachshund

who will stare me down,

 

point me in the opposite direct-

ion and tell the others what I

really was like.

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Indian Summer in Indiana

On Indian Summer-like days, they bum-

med around Indiana from state park to

state park, hiking flat-lands along a river

running through it, then rugged trails

up and down towering, sandstone cliffs,

around box canyons, into deep gulches –

Indiana? Each evening around the camp-

fire, he tossed his hiking boots and wore

moccasins and thought he was Ojibwa/

Chippewa. Hiking wild, rough, narrow

terrain carved by ice and then Pottawatomie

petroglyphs, in a little spot, a pin’s head

on a map as south as glaciers went before

heading north ten thousand years ago, hiking

up and down sand dunes all around Big

Water, marshes and Massasauga rattlers.

They met two Choctaw from Oklahoma

camping in the dunes who couldn’t believe

the Big Water was so big a person couldn’t

see the other side. The Choctaw traveled in

a forty-four-foot motor home pulling a Jeep

Cherokee and didn’t wear Minnetonka

moccasins around the camp fire. They told

the Choctaw that the Ottawa along the

shore up Michigan-way about a hundred miles

and about a hundred-fifty years ago left

the sands for Big Water farther north be-

cause they couldn’t stand the smell of the

Dutch. The Choctaw laughed and the

couple wished the Choctaw well on their

trip to the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas,

Cayugas, Senecas, and Tuscaroras, the

authors of the first American democracy,

and then Abenaki, Haudenosaunee, Mali-

seet, Mashantucket, Mi’kmaq, Mohegan,

Narragansett, Nipmuc, Passamaquoddy,

Paugussett, Penobscot, Pequot, Schaghti-

coke, Shinnecock, Unkechaug and Wamp-

anoag on to Pawtucket and Nantucket down

to Seminole swamps and who knows

where after a Choctaw winter’s stay at a

Florida KOA. He took off his Timberlands,

put on his Saucony trail shoes; they hitched

the travel trailer, left the serenity of the shore,

pulled onto I-94 North and the rude reality

and seeming insanity of civilization while

listening to the fine, flute of R. Carlos Nakai.

The Best Laid Plans

So many die in their sleep

with the assistance of

hospice helpers’ helpers

with partners not far be-

hind, slipping away peace-

fully. It wasn’t meant to

be like this, not as they

came to terms with mort-

ality envisioning the joy

of being together for a

decade more, maybe and

then the “Please forgive

me,” the goodbye kiss

and the last “I love you,” but

slam, bam, out of nowhere

ridiculous, idiotic, senseless,

insane, crazy, wrong-side-

of-the-highway driver, crash-

ing into them in a nano-sec-

onds, violent death. What

now; what now? Shock–not

even grief, numb. How to

face another day, one day,

one hour, one second when

the numbness wears thin

and the heart pain perm-

eates every membrane of

existence? After sixty years

of being together, through

everything, no time to say,

“I’m sorry — please forgive

me — I love you –good-bye.”

How to be alone, alone,

alone? How to be? Friends,

loved ones to hold, caress

him like a baby, listen,

listen, listen, hold his

hand, shh, shh, hope

and then, later, maybe

much later, stand, walk,

talk together, maybe,

shh…shh….

 

Now

Instant, instan,

faster, faste

insta, inst,

fast, fas

ins, in,

fa, f,

what’s happening

happenin’

and on and on

on the i-phone,

insta, inst,

fasta, fast,

Everything,

everythin’

is

happening,

happenin’

fasta, fast,

fas, fa,

f and

gone in

a flash,

flas,

fla,

fl,

f;

well, you

get the

idea,

ide,

id,

always,

i, i, i,

i,i, and

i.

Obviously?

Obviously, the writer/blogger/all over everywhere

in print and on-line loves to hear himself write;

 

if you can get through all the “super clever” verbiage,

he has a valid critique of economics, race relations,

 

the environment, culture, international relations, war

and just about every thing else on the face of the earth;

 

he’s long on what’s wrong and short on solutions ex-

cept a simplistic call to the simple, urban life (Hello-oh!);

 

he hates tattoos. On a weekend in Chicago, I saw this

tattoo-filled guy (the ears, no less) checking into the

 

hotel paying in cash and, honestly, it was somewhat

disconcerting and while it was great (Chicago Symph-

 

ony season opening concert, Art Institute, architectural

tour on a river boat), I was bothered by what seemed

 

all very impersonal in the midst of all the busyness,

hustle and bustle:  a zombie-like quality of people star-

 

ing at their i-phones in elevators (I pulled out a flip top,

and called attention to it; the two, handsome, young

 

people looked away from their little luminous rectangles

for a nano second and laughed), walking down the street,

 

sitting in hotel lobbies, at tables in restaurants. At a sup-

posedly top-notch restaurant (recommended by a chef

 

whom I sat next to on the train into the city), the bum’s

rush we got felt like cattle herded down a chute to the

 

eating trough in West Texas and out the revolving door.

At the same time, employees at the hotel and at two

 

other restaurants were really gracious, helpful and

attentive. So, what are we to make of it?  Is it all

 

(culture, economics, environment, politics) bad, in de-

cline, wasting away, rotting/ thriving like sewer rats

 

coming out when the weekend revelers from out of

town go back to their hotel rooms and the dump-

 

sters are full of flavorful leftovers or is the good and the

bad in some kind of uncomfortable homeostasis? Is it

 

tipping one way or the other?  What to do? Is there a

historian in the house for some perspective here, please?

Wonderment

From the thirty-third floor

of the thirty-four floor

narrowest skyscraper

in the city, she looks

south with an uninterr-

upted view between

much taller buildings of

the park, the stadium and

just a hint of the lake to

the east. Later, outside

on the other side of

the river that runs through

the city she looks up

the every narrowing

skyscraper thinking,

Holy Cow! That’s a

long way up and so

narrow at the top. No

wonder there are only

three rooms on that

floor. And probably

there are only two

rooms on the thirty-

fourth floor, if that.

Some Still Interpret*

Some still interpret

standing tall

with Jesus as a call

to be a

manly man,

misguided macho

and

misogyny.

Perhaps a different

view is due —

the view

of Jesus’

mother Mary

who stood tall

beneath the cross

and watched

her son

in agony

entrusting him

to his destiny,

and perhaps

in that

moment re-

membering

her Magnificat —

the liberation of

all creation

for eternity.

*with appreciation to Henri Nouwen for a meditation that gave me the idea.

The Morning Started (Post #700)

The morning started cold

as a titche’s wit,

as funny as shat tounds

(the dog did it on the trail),

so they undled bup

for their jog along

tocal lrails,

but wart-pay through,

the sun came out of

Dive Fay’s hiding,

and Fay dove down on

them with a fierce

bummer’s slast.

They felt all

biscomdobulated

in all those clothes,

so they stripped to their

sirthday buits

and in a flash,

they crossed the

linish fine

and headed home,

or, to be consistent,

swapping lirst fetters,

headed home.

The Man Was Having A Cup Of Oolong Tea

The man was having a cup

of Oolong tea with a friend

in a popular coffee shop when

a fellow passed, stopped, back-

ed up and identified the man in

a question. “I am,” the man said.

“I was in your class.” “That was

twenty-one years ago,” the man

said. “I remember how in your

pain and suffering you allowed

yourself to be vulnerable,” the

fellow said. “It was a tough time,”

the man said. The fellow went on,

“You let God into your pain; we

were the beneficiaries.” At that

time so long ago, the man hadn’t

known if he would survive and

now a fellow stood before him

and simply said, “Thank you.”

The man’s friend said, “The

Lord works in mysterious ways.

In ministry, you just never know.

Congratulations. Nice work.” In

gratitude, the man silently sipped

his Oolong not even noticing that

the tea had grown cold.

Jogging a Trail Near Mountains

Jogging a trail near mountains,

he stopped in his tracks

at the sight, so near a county road,

of bear tracks and a few

paces farther along, scat – small

paw prints and late

summer apple laced scat: a cub.

Momma must be near.

He looked around and, as a man passed

by, the excited jogger

implored the hiker saying, “Look, look

here. Bear prints and apple

scat.” The passerby, no earphones

apparent, ignored

the plea, the desire to share

the discovery (even

a deaf man would have seen the

excitement), furtively

glanced down, hurriedly looked up

and hiked on. The

jogger, forgetting the cub and she

bear, wondered why

the man had been hiking at all. By

then the bears were gone.