Saturday, November 7, 2015


Tick tock tick tock - it goes by mercilessly, relentlessly.  This metered flow of life cannot be stopped or altered.  Magnanimous, it encompasses all of the human emotions, yet is none of them.  Time, a vacuum, a space to hold life, and bury death.  A force to be reckoned with.  Seemingly imperceptible, apparently insignificant, absolutely consequential.

With the cold indifference of a serial killer, and the intuitive wisdom of a forest, this progression of moments allows for anything and then sets about in the work of healing it.  That this entity sadistically and graciously containing our lives is a neutral beast is, perhaps, the hardest pill to swallow.  There is no kind hand that buffers our existence when tragedies hit, or gives  us a pat on the back when triumphs prevail (except maybe our mother's) no, it's all grist for the mill.  Whichever way the cookie crumbles is the way the cookie crumbles; you don't get brownie points for effort or extra suffering.  Funny, isn't it?

Time is a great leveler.  It favors no one, tethering us all to the same boat and it's of no use trying to speed it up or slow it down.  Ruthless, it grinds and sifts but also, blessedly, elevates and cheers all the while meandering serenely through its set course, bringing everyone to the same destination.  And if we are patient and wait with grace, we will see the fruit of our labors.  After all, aren't oysters rewarded for their effort?

Friday, June 12, 2015


You lie there helpless and still -a baby with teeth,
a perma scowl etched on your face as sure and as deep as a woodcarving.

It’s hard to reconcile the helpless bit with the image of the man you used to be:
formidable, strong, larger than life, really.  You filled your shoes and then some.

When did it happen, where, how;
the steady progression into dementia,
and where was I?

In California, I guess-
marking time by the pull of gravity
with each visit I made.
The changes, like stills in a cartoon frame, added up over time.

You always were an ornery man,
and now, as you yell obscenities into the nursing home where you sit,
puny and grey - you have begun your dance with death.

Tomorrow they will give you morphine for the pain,
and I wonder if you will fight them off with the last of your strength.

So, what remains to be said here?
How about, I love you, how about I care.
How about your death will leave a hole in my heart the size of the moon?

I will always remember how you ate the pies we made in the kitchen when I was little,
the ones that didn’t turn out and were still goopy inside.  You eat them with a laugh while I watched in awe.  My big, tall daddy spending time with me...  I was so proud, so tickled.

Or how about that easter you gave me the pink bunny?  I held it tightly to my chest later, when we took a drive in the green impala and you turned and looked at me and smiled, squealing with delight.

And then there’s eating snow in candy dishes, yep, that was fun.  You’d go outside and collect a snowball in the blizzard bringing it home for us to eat.  You had a sense of humor alright...

You will be remembered your colorful language, generosity and the levity you added to heavy situations.  You weren’t perfect, but I loved you anyway.  How could I not?  You were the first man of my life.

Dad, with this last sentence or so, I want to wish you peace, what you never had in this life.  I firmly believe you’re going to heaven, because you said the prayer that one blessed day - so until we meet again, so long, farewell, and pet a cow or two for me up there.

We love you.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Thoughts unfolding one by one
make me want to turn and run.

They slosh and spill out of my head,
and tumble out my ears in bed.

I don't know why they come at me
like torpedoes in the sea,
and crash into my troubled brain,
replete with poison, replete with pain.

I often wonder what I'd do
 if life was offered me anew;
would I step up and it allow
or with relief just take a bow?

To see the joy on someone's face,
and feel the touch of heaven's grace...
To open up and share my soul,
 and feel myself becoming whole...

It's this I think that tethers me
to life despite it's misery.
The little things that melt my heart
that balance what tears it apart.

And so perhaps what I have learned
in this war where I am churned
is not to run from life away
but accept its grand display.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Home (a few years back...)

Home is a resting ground for my worries.  A place where I take off my hat, and the thoughts fall off

one by one onto the hardwood floor.  As I kick them aside, I crawl into bed, weary bones sinking into

the mattress that feels like a pillow cradling my limbs, and absorb the shock of another day lived in

this obstacle course of life.  

I lie, wrapped in my comforter, peacefully watching cars pass by though the lace filter of curtains that

covers the window.  My body drops into its folds, while patches of bare skin brush up against a wooly

blanket.  I think of my grandmothers big, soft bed that swallowed me up whole when I was a child,

and smile.  I hug my Hello Kitty doll to my chest in a fetal position, barely able to move, barely able

to  breath.  I'm weary from trying, weary from crying, though my shallow breath seems to sustain me.

I feel likeI am in a hospital, recovering from a malady, some past ill that has haunted me and brought

me here to this spiritual asylum.  And indeed I am.   

From bedlam to beauty, I write.  As I wake from the dream I’ve yearned so long to escape - the

dream of my days, the nightmare of my past -  I am free for the first time in my life.  The

shackles of prison surround me no more, the barbed wire has snapped and I write, a wild banshee

cutting through the fields running for my life, running for my freedom.

Now, beauty surrounds me:  flowers and sunshine and a view.  The first of my adult life.  Ever so

slowly, I take it all in, absorbing every breath, and moving like a wounded insect struggling for its

life on the windowsill.  I take nothing for granted, not even the beat of my own heart.  I am fragile,

but alive, vulnerable but safe, wounded but healing...

I wonder if you are wondering where I’ve come from?  What path I’ve taken that has consumed me

whole and then some.  Dare I delve?  I don’t know.  Dare I speak of the shadows, and the underworld,

the sewers and devils that held me fast while I struggled and strained to escape - all the while getting

more embedded - like quicksand, into the dark and miry mirk?  Do I speak of the terrors of nightfall,

that lunged for my arm, waiting to eat me alive while I struggled and strained to break free?  Or do I

just shrug and carry on?  I don't know, but sinking into this moment sure feels good.  I don’t have to

run, or hide or look back over my shoulder trying to dodge hades.  No.  Today I can smile, safe in this

open fortress that is my room, and thank heaven that my life rests safe within its confines, quiet and

sweet.  And that, God willing, I will rise to another day, another occasion to make merriment and sing


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I Remember

I remember one summer day, a long time ago, when my family piled into our Impala and drove to Puyallup.   I can still see my brothers feet, too short to reach the floorboards, dangling over the seat as we sped along.  It was a hot, sunny afternoon (well, hot for Washington), the sky was a cloudless blue expanse and the country fields went on forever.  The ride took a long time, but that was OK.  It meant we got to get out of the house and tedium of the farm.

My dad was in a good mood that day, laughing and eating with his napkin tucked into the top of his shirt in the restaurant we'd met at with some friends.  Tall and strapping, with thick black hair a la` Elvis, he was belligerent and often angry, but that day was different.  That day was a "good" day.  Joking around with our friends, he was jovial and almost fun.  My mother, beautiful with her quick brown eyes and thick dark hair looked after everything.  Usually scared of my father, today she, too, seemed less afraid, more at ease.  I sat, quietly stuffing my face with the delicious roast beef, thrilled to be on a drive.  My brother, messy with food on his face, ate peas in his highchair.

That was a long time ago.  Nowadays, the situation is different.  Diagnosed with alzheimers, my father is practically housebound and shuffles from room to room with a cane, or by my mothers arm since he is often too stubborn to use one.  Gone are the heavy, thunderous strides that used to make the china rattle in the cupboard, and terrify us when I was a child.  Now, the only traces of the man he was exist solely in his words; the same hurtful and abusive spews of yore, and in his hard eyes.  Bent with the weight of age, like an old tree, he is shriveled and the vitality that once seemed to define him is gone.  The man with the formidable strength who once worked 16 hour days nonstop, overcoming both a stroke, and a heart attack, now spends his days sitting in a chair with the TV flickering in front of him.  He doesn't let anyone open the blinds, preferring to sit in darkness.

It is both difficult and painful to watch the process of aging, especially since I only go home twice a year.  The memory of him between gaps makes for a stark contrast to the present visual, you just can't help it.  The disparity between who my father was and who he has become, is creating an ever deepening chasm in my memory that both snatches my breath away and makes my soul ache.  My heart takes a snapshot of him , then I compare the pictures between gaps and cry private tears.  


Wednesday, September 24, 2014


It's been a while.  Creative efforts ball themselves up on paper whilst I cry, pine and wonder where it is exactly that I've gone wrong.  Could it be that those morose meanderings I've taken regarding all the health concerns that have cropped up lately have finally taken their toll?  That those beastly little rabbit trails that I've traipsed down in anxious agitation, wondering if I've contracted some horrible malady or terminal ill have finally done in my spirit, my spunk?  It certainly feels that way, officer.

Jumbles of neurons on speed transmit the very worst scenarios onto my screen.  Images crawling ever closer like zombies on a mission, threaten and menace me with their fat, ready fists.  Responding oh so willingly to the gloomy mob of musings that blows up my mind, and future tripping in the worst possible way, I've parked it on row 17 in the theater of my head.  Eating popcorn, I'm entirely lost in the drama, forgetting that it's only a show.  Based on a true story, yes, but a show.

When I look at it this way, I can't help but think that my psychological destiny lies entirely in my own hands.  Yes, things happen.  Issues crop up, and problems inch their ugly faces into the picture refusing to be ignored, that is a given.  But attitude, who controls that?  Is it not us, with the power to think, to process and analyze?  And what of those of us with faith, who believe in a God who heals and restores, shouldn't we be resting in the knowledge that somehow, someway, it will all work out?  After all, isn't that's what faith is for?

As I ponder these words, I'm relieved to discover that peace lies in my choice of thoughts, in aligning myself with Divine truth, and not in being a ready victim to every whim of my technicolor imagination, nor random frolic through the poppy fields of my mind.

No, my future emotional health depends on how I decide to view circumstance, so let me choose wisely, and let me choose well.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Night at the Opera

It's Sunday night, and my girlfriend and I step out to hear a friends's band play at the Deluxe, a smallish club in the Haight section of San Francisco.  

Music and sweat intermingle as the boys drive it home, sending frenzied beats of grinding rhythm careening into the eve.  

To my left, hipster zombies feign indifference, too stoned or too cool to care (though I notice their eyes are glued to the screen...), a handful of stragglers park it on the right, seemingly oblivious to the picture, and to my left, a happy couple dances, blissfully unaware that just a few steps away, a small swarm of wannabe's gather each trying to outdo the other with varying degrees of showiness.  

Players include a coquette with a striped power suit and fake laugh, a girl with a shrill voice barking orders for drinks, a tall bleached blond with heavy makeup, and a Gertrude Stein artist type who seems to be the den mother. The only apparently sincere one of the bunch is the drunk guy that stands in the middle and this, because he is sincerely drunk.  

I observe the scene from my cozy spot behind the half wall, a silent witness to the nasty bits of this adolescent soap opera.  

When it's time to go, my friend and I say our goodbyes and walk into the cool night air.  On the way to the car, I chuckle to myself, recalling the motley cast of characters, and breath a sigh of relief that I wasn't one of them (at least I hope).  It hurt enough going through puberty once, I wouldn't want to do it again. Hopefully, they'll get the memo, or grow up.  Whichever comes first.