Getting Shed of It

“Just get shed of it,”
is the Kentucky
vernacular for
getting rid of some-
thing, putting some-
thing away — material,
emotional — anything
that was interfering
with getting on with it.
And so, as it is
New Year’s Eve, it
is time for another
resolution — simplify,
simplify, simplify —
or as they say in
Kentucky, “Get shed
of it” — whatever
“it” happens to be.

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Getting Into My St. Francis

In light of, well, most everything

(for example, three good TV
stations [PBS] out of four
gazillion; equivocating, hesitating
hosts of liberal news/opinion shows
as vs. take-no-prisoners hosts of
conservative post-truth, phony news/
entertainment shows; tweets, tweets,
tweets and more moronic tweets
from the soon to be Commander
in Tweets; democrats with their
thumbs up their butts; waiters and
waitresses who say “Perfect,” every
time you order anything including
the glass of water; zombie stares
at cell-phones, traffic in Phoenix),

I thought it would be nice to
get more into nature even though
I hike, bike or jog most everyday,

so I walked a ways down a local
trail and stopped to ask Brother
Hill how he was doing (to be more
specific, it was several rocks that
I asked) and Sister Cholla Cactus
if she were having a good day and
enjoying the unusual amount of
rain we had been having.

A jogger passed, and feeling a
bit awkward to be found talking
to rocks and trees, I just leaned on
my hiking sticks and said “Hi, have
a good run.”

The jogger answered, “Thanks.
Have a nice hike,” which I thought
was nice. People tend to be
friendlier in nature.

My other brothers and sisters along
the trail just stared at me, (Things
are quiet in the desert and I
imagine most animal, mineral and
vegetable are introverts.) but
I still felt a little like St. Francis
as I moseyed on back to the
condo to have a conversation
with my chocolate lab, who, on
occasion, will bark, especially
if he wants me to hurry up
with his dinner.

Where Is the Flash Mob When You Need A Little Beauty, Joy and Grace? — A Rap Poem

It would take social
scientists, sociologists,
social workers or maybe
just a sociopath to ex-
plain the insane behavior
of youths in shopping malls
shouting “He’s got a gun,”
and tossing bottles of pop
at cops in food courts and
causing mayhem of all sorts.
Is it just kids blowing off
steam in between Christmas
and the New Year’s Eve chao-
tic scene or is it something
far deeper and darker and
scarier about what our country
is becoming and where it is
descending? Excuse the arm-
chair, sociological quarter-
backing but you know it is
always the adolescent who
puts on a show acting out
about the dysfunction in the
family because he or she
doesn’t have the filter in
place to face the rat race
and then there in the corner
of the food court stands the
sociopath with a smirk smack
dab in the middle of his pizza
pie hole face. Instead of
destructive Mall Mobs we need
a Flash Mob symphony’s beauty,
joy and grace.

This Morning, a Variation on a Pantoum

This morning the day broke cold
even as the sun did shine.
He worked arthritic fingers — stiff and old,
and with exercise, he did just fine.

Even as the sun did shine,
he pulled on shorts and running shoes
and with exercise, he did just fine
saying to himself, no sense singing the blues.

He pulled on shorts and running shoes;
he grabbed his hiking sticks,
saying to himself, no sense singing the blues
‘cause jogging would be his mental, physical and spiritual fix.

He grabbed his hiking sticks
and down the stairs he made his way
‘cause jogging would be his mental, physical and spiritual fix,
on this gorgeous Arizona day.

And down the stairs he made his way.
This morning the day broke cold
on this gorgeous Arizona day
He worked arthritic fingers — stiff and cold.

Out on the trail he had such fun
doing his morning slow, slow run.

Christmas, 2016

For a moment or two,
the darkness of disenchantment,
cynicism, doubt, draw back
at least a little, and all the
usual worldly witcheries
lose something of their
power to charm
…*
and thus eventually to do
bodily and spiritual harm,
in the past,
with battle-axe and sword,
today —
a drone, surgically striking,
but with collateral damage,
it is declared we must afford
and thus justify with euphemistic piping,
and now the threat of a new arms race
(Really? Another euphemism to embrace?) —
the bluster, the false bravado
all at a frenetic tweeting pace.
Thank God we have at least one day
or a moment within the day to lay
such non-sense aside
but not in wishful thinking or denial hide
and with admitted incomplete, partial
still yearning faith, resolve to cease
and desist our waring ways
and seek to do the Savior’s justice for
the remainder of our earthly days.

*Frederick Buechner, The Faces of Jesus

A Jolly Good Time

My mentor, friend, scholar, teacher
Sat with me on the couch as we watched

The amazing tribute to Shakespeare on
The anniversary of his birth 450 years

Ago. I put my arm around my professor and
Thanked him for introducing me to the Bard.

As I hugged his shoulders, he giggled and
Jiggled his pear-shaped body which died

In his study at the University of London
While he was on an exchange program for

Professors twenty-five years ago, but that
Didn’t stop us from having a jolly good time.

The Neighborhood, Backyard Christmas Party

Two local elders sat at the outdoor table
on an overcast, cool, damp night.
Young adults were barely able
to corral their children taking flight

around the yard, on the swing,
climbing in and out of the log house,
jumping up and down on the trampoline,
scurrying around like a mouse

looking for some bits of cheese.
The backyard movie was about to start,
so parents shouted, “Come here now, PLEASE!
The Christmas movie is about to start.”

Parents fortified with libations
filled their holiday plates
and chatted about neighborhood information
with a little gossip thrown in — necessity’s sake.

The two elders having surveyed the scene
finished their cookies and wine
and quietly nodded to each other without being seen
that to leave would be just fine —
to head home and put out Santa’s mulled wine.

It’s Another One of Those Fake Ones

From a distance, it looks
magisterial way up on the
rock, above all other houses.
It faces south with windows
built on a curve to catch the
sun from dawn to dusk. Majestic
people must live there looking
over the landscape, cityscape,
McDowell Mountains to the east
to the South Mountains to the
White Tanks to the west. The
magistrates watch the rest of
Valley residents as they make
their way through the city day-
to-day and on the highway. The
couple and their chocolate lab
hike up the hill to see how close
they can get before being turned
away — broken gate, long, pot-
holed driveway, abandoned house,
broken windows, rotten floors,
tattered carpet, beer bottles in
the fireplace, a dirty mattress
on the floor, used condoms, beige
appliances with frayed electrical
cords, a deep swimming pool with
dirt rings and a broken diving
board on the bottom. “I’m not go-
ing in for fear of falling through
the floor and I’m getting the
dog away from this broken glass.
I’ll probably have nightmares,”
his wife says. On the way back
down, the man stares down on
the top of the chimney of one
of the homes. “Look, dear. An
owl…. Oh, no. I’m sorry. It’s
another one of those fake ones
to keep birds and other critters
from getting on top of the chimney
and maybe down into the house.”