No Doubt

Every day the boy walked home along railroad tracks from his grade school. He felt the clinkers crunch under his shoes as he stepped over the wood rails. He would glance to see if there were any bullies from school behind him.

Sometimes he would pick up a sharp clinker and toss it being careful not to be cut by a sharp edge. He thought that if there were any bullies he could throw clinkers at them and then outrun them.

Once in a while, he would stop at the coal yard next to the tracks at the corner of 107th St. and say hi to his grandfather who was the custodian at the yard. His grandfather would ask him if he had memorized a Bible verse at the Christian school the boy attended. If he had, his grandfather would give him a dime to buy some candy at the general store across the street from the coal yard. Invariably, the boy would say no but that he saw a fight on the playground during recess.  There were always fights on the playground during recess and after school.

His grandfather was also the custodian at First Reformed Church in town and an elder at the first English speaking Reformed Church in town. He would say, “I just bet those kids fighting were Christian Reformed, the little covenant bullies. You stay away from those boys.”

The Christian Reformed Church is a denomination nearly identical to the Reformed Church both being ethnically Dutch. There was always competition between the denominations not unlike that which occurs regularly in families and sometimes grows to the level of an internecine feud.

Then his grandfather would give him a dime anyway. The boy continued his journey home after a stop at the store for a package of Tootsie Rolls.

When he got home, his mother, the daughter of his grandfather, would ask him where the Tootsie Rolls were. He would hand her what was left. “You can have the rest after dinner. I wish your grandfather wouldn’t spoil you by giving you money for candy. Did you memorize a scripture verse today?” “No, but I saw a fight on the playground.” “No doubt Christian Reformed boys.”

The next school year his parents enrolled him in the local public grade school where there were very few if any schoolyard fights.


Now the “a-okay” sign ain’t a-okay at all
unless you’re a White Supremacist and all.
I have to stop and think before making the gesture
or I’ll be stereotyped and, at the very least, given a lecture.
I might want to give the okay sign to a friend
but now such action is sure to offend.
I guess I’ll just give the high-five sign.
Does anyone know if that’s still fine?
Oh, Lord, don’t tell me the White Supremacists
have also co-opted that formerly fine sign.
I’d just keep my hands in my pants,
but someone would be sure to ask
if I’m a perv playing pocket pool perchance?

All of These

She died.
She had to die to me,
for if she had not died,
which she still is in
the process of doing
in me,
I would not be
the person, I
need to be —
not someone selfish,
grasping, seeing only
her with me,
(no one else to see)
that which could
no longer be,
but a lover —
toward others
as she was
towards me
(as I remember her
mostly to be in her
which lives in me,
and then me
with thee and thee
and, Thee,
and all of these
which are in me
and I in these
and I had to
make room
for Thee.
And when I did,
Surprise! You
were already

Thumbs Up

When several Democratic representatives were asked
if the occupant’s behavior were impeachable,
they said that they were weighing the options
and thinking about it
and weighing the options
and thinking about it
and thinking about it
and thinking about it
and weighing the options.
They said that they were thinking about it.
That is what the Democratic leadership
in the House has to say along with a few Democratic senators.
They said that
they were thinking about it
and weighing the options —
the options,
to do nothing
except sit on their thumbs and
then (when no one is looking to pull their thumbs from up their butts)
to consider if they needed to do anything about where their thumbs had been
and if they might better be up the butts of their Republican counterparts
which they were willing to consider
because they were weighing the options
while looking at their thumbs.
To such determination and resolve, one can only shout, “Thumbs up!!!”

Did I just hear that Nancy is “full-bore in,” no pun intended? Thumbs, up!!! You, go, girl!!!!

If We Waited Around Till We Understood It, We Would Never Do It.

I get a little nervous
planning a vacation,
going on a trip,
an anniversary celebration.

I can’t fathom
leaving it all behind
and heading
somewhere blind.

No understanding —
privilege keeps me
blind to the struggles
and without true empathy.

Love for a neighbor
doesn’t mean
I have to feel it.
We are all human beings.

To be the Good Samaritan
is compassion.
We don’t have to understand it;
we just have to be that love in action.

And then doing the deed
brings its own understanding
and empathy —
self-sacrificial love expanding.

Felt pretty good, didn’t it?

Maybe a Bit of Both

I see the boy fishing. I watch from a distance.
He is at the lake near our house. He is fishing
for bass, smallmouth bass. He is very precise

with his casts and he lets the spinner sink
a while before he begins the retrieval. He is
alone. I wonder if he is in solitude or loneliness.

Maybe a bit of both. When we fish together,
it is invariably in the evening for catfish — big
channel cats. We put cheesy dough around the

hook and cast as far as we can, let the dough
ball sink to the bottom and wait in the dark
for a tug. We can’t see each other in the dark.

The boy doesn’t speak much if at all. It is almost
as if he is not there or by himself. I wonder if he
is in solitude or loneliness. Maybe a bit of both.

I watch him, now, a grown man fly fish the
tumbling waters of Boulder Creek. His casts
are precise. The fly drops exactly where he

aimed it. Rhythmically he works the rod and
line, stripping the line and watching it all
run off the end of the tip. It flies alone like he

fishes alone. It is a quiet sport for a quiet man.
As I watch him I wonder if he is in solitude or
loneliness. Maybe a bit of both.

With a Smile on His Face

The man read the line, “I’m about to open a can
of Whup-Ass on you,” in a Thomas McGuane short
story and then he thought to finish the line with
“and feed it to you with a dry, wooden spoon like
you used to get with a cup of ice cream,” feeling
the dry spoon pull at his lips and decided to use
it on his friend with a penchant for metaphors
and similes who enjoyed his own homey, southern
slang sayings more than anybody else did. His
friend would say, “Hey, you’re a writer. When
are you going to write all these down and put
them in a book so I can get rich, retire and
live off the royalties?” His friend would laugh
heartily at the Whup-Ass line and then the two
of them would indulge in a few potato vodkas.
When the two of them would then part, the man
might say, “I’ll be all over you like a bad suit.”
and stick his finger out making a Steve Martin-
esque gesture. The only other time the man used
that Whup-Ass line was in his car when a fellow
ran up his ass, swerved around the front of his
car and cut him off. The man, with a smile on his
face, said it through pursed lips to the then distant
driver, then said to himself, “You just can’t be too
careful these days.”

Milk In Glass Bottles

When he was a college kid, he had a summer
job delivering milk to homes, back in the day

when they actually delivered glass-bottled
milk to homes. He remembers carefully

placing the bottles in the coolers on the door
stoops in neighborhoods when people were

cooking breakfast. He remembers the delicious
smell of bacon frying on the stoves in those

homes. He stood at the stove frying bacon
thinking about that summer job realizing that

most of the people in those homes getting ready
for work had died. As the delightful aroma of

bacon sizzling hit him, the reality of the brevity
of life followed close behind. He wondered if any-

one passing by the house on that summer morning
with the windows open smelled the bacon as he

had so many years ago and in a few years pass by
again and acknowledge that he, too, had died.

The Blessing of Going Sideways and Not Down

His professor of speech recommended
that he become a stand-up comic but
he had a calling, a vocare; he was called
to study the word and preach the gospel
and that he did after giving his drama
classes a chance and realizing that he
didn’t have the ego strength to go the
distance. It was a godsend. This even-
ing he watched a really funny comedy
featuring a comedian who, years after
that film, committed suicide and that
was after several of the comedian’s con-
temporaries had bitten the dust with
angel dust and whatever. As he watched
the film and the really funny, now dead
comic, he gave thanks that he had gotten
the call to go sideways of the way it all
had gone down.