Lost in Communication

In the age of instant access
To beauty and the uncouth
Why do I smell the scent of gloom
When I should be tasting truth?

The four horsemen you say?
Smug in your serenity
Natural, political, social, personal
Headed for calamity

Headlines bloom large
Screaming nature’s freakness
We are all the same – quite alone
Trapped in our fields of weakness

The talking heads first to go
Hands raised to their dollar sign
They’ll cover their ears and when asked
Swear all along they’ve been blind

Two horses; Social & Personal
Steeds of fate of untold potential
Bearing the dream-laden chosen
Amidst treachery and doubt torrential

Furtive fire then explosion
Gloom and personal fission
Hilltop scattered in bodies and dreams
Of private cataclysm

PROMPT: Describe your first encounter with a celebrity

My first real encounter with a celebrity happened when I was a radio talk show producer at KABC Radio in Los Angeles. The title sounds impressive but truly my job consisted of keeping the FCC commercial log (read checking off commercials after airing), greeting guests, getting coffee and screening incoming calls. My first celebrity contact tragedy happened the day Maya Angelou was scheduled for an interview. I had read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and was anxious to meet this phenomenal woman. As I walked to the lobby to escort her to the studio I made the conscious decision to call her Maya out of fear of mispronouncing her last name. Youth stupidly covered me with the hard turtle-shell of ignorance. Only now do I recognize the look of displeasure that registered on the face of our guest. I kept up a stream of conversation totally ignorant Ms. Angelou’s clipped and terse responses. After settling her in the studio, I asked if she desired coffee, again, a smile-less “no.” I then proceeded to outline the morning referencing the talk show host as Mr. Jackson. That, apparently, was the last straw for her. “Oh, he’s Mister Jackson and I am just Maya!” There it was, my mistake, standing out there naked on the chewed and faded rug of studio A. My quick, first responder defense mechanisms sprung up with the words “I figured you knew who you were” dangerously teetering on the tip of my tongue. I was saved by the voice on the intercom asking for the guest. I fell into my chair holding my head. How could this have gone so wrong? What is it about me that pisses people off? I sat through the interview putting through the best of the many callers hoping Maya Angelou would accept my apology after the show.
Later, as I escorted Ms. Angelou out of the building, I lamely apologized saying I always refer to the host in formal terms (no love lost here but that’s another story) and it was not my intention to offend. Ms. Angelou turned to me pulling her hand from mine as she said something to the effect of yes, yes. I’m sure. I do remember she her last two words to me were, “Be well.” After 36 years, I’m not sure that I am.

We Should Learn to Love Each Other – Not the bomb

I am a member of the “duck and cover” crowd – meaning I remember pushing my chair back in my Los Angeles elementary school putting my head down and scooting my chair back towards my desk – as if my desk would protect my eight-year-old head and body from the likes of an atom bomb. Surely, I thought these issues would have reached some resolution by the 21st Century. But no, we continue to look upon the attainment of “ease and happiness as ends in themselves” or “Ideal[s] of a pigsty” (Einstein). For these ideals, we remain forever vigilant regarding any threats to our right to happiness. We go to war under the banner of threats to our right to own cars, cheap gas, cheap food, overrun the weak, and trample nature. We have no right to any of these things if one person has to die in their procurement.
We’ve lost our way on that long and winding path towards social justice and social responsibility. We’ve let these endeavors be sullied in the mouths of infidels allowing us to forget that what we enjoy today is the result of the labors of many who have gone before us.
When we have social responsibility our communities will be safe and this safety mushrooms out to cover the nation and the world in short order.
Connect with one another – spread the work and the word.

If you had to debate a younger version of yourself, who would win?

In this time of aching backs, hips and knees I’d have to sit as I debated my younger self. And I would win – if the debate centered on knowledge of human nature and how to survive with this knowledge.
BUT
Change the focus of the debate and I’m afraid I’d lose. Certainly I’d be
uncomfortable under my scalp that has all but forgotten
the hairs that once populated it.
I’d still be seated, looking at my younger self,
and her wild afro, unfiltered speech and a
passion that sometimes frightened.
This younger self would beat me like an antique rug
with all the reasons to believe in spontaneous outbreaks
She would tell me I have become a slave
to the tyranny of decorum.
And, in polite knowledge of what is righteous,
I would have to concede.

Waiting in Spring

Spring in the hinterlands
Finds me waiting
For the slow insurgence,
The army of blossoms
Up from the south.
And contending
The awakening of all else;
Earth’s hardened tracks
Last fall’s mud –
Loosed again to lay in wait
To suck at
The errant boot.
Squabbling woodchuck and opossum in
Lower and upper house dispute
I let them debate – ignorant of
My veto power
I cut dead stalks
From deck pots
Unsure of their replacement.
I continue to walk the miles
Now conscious of the sun
And movement
Bears in somnolent motion
And their legless brethren-in-nature,
The Narrow Fellows in the Grass
Makes me cold to the bone
Never seen a winter’s den of these –
(Not counting congress in session.
There, garter and rattler
Reside and abide. Alas.)

Tomorrow will be warmer
And the slow rotation
On axis palpable
Dipping and bathing
Us in a shine we
Seldom deserve

Speaking of Loss…

There is that binding force called loss
It reaches across mountains, plateaus
and valleys to the hard to reach
interstices where humanity resides
Over time, it is equal in opportunity
and ability;
watering that barren, drought-stricken
stretch of heart with
moisture from tears
of memories.
Loss
is the thing that connects
the despot and the divine

When Did You Realize Your Were an Adult?

I realized I was an adult when I stepped into the foyer of my mom’s condo wanting so badly to put my head on my mother’s lap and cry at the death of my youngest sister. I wanted my mom to stroke my head the way she would when I would come home from middle-school crying for courage I did not have to stand up for myself. I waited in the guest bedroom upstairs for my mother to come and comfort me. She came and when I rushed to her with my sorrow she held me at arm’s length herself blinded by eyes nearly swollen shut from her own tears. I was startled at the harshness with which she grabbed my shoulders. “Don’t you dare break down on me now!” I stepped back knowing any consolation I was looking for would not be found in the arms of my mother today. “You’ll have to take care of this,” my mother told me. “Your sister’s body needs to be claimed at the morgue and funeral arrangements need to be made. And I’ll be damn if I am going to pick out another coffin for a child of mine. This is not the way it should be.” With that, my mother made her way down the hall to her room slamming the door against her misery. I was 42 and as selfish as a four-year-old. I collapsed in a chair by the window knowing I’d have to take that four year old to the time-out corner, let her know that her mother is, for the second time in three years, suffering the death of a child. If she didn’t have courage before she’d have to have it now.

My mother was right – a parent should not outlive her child – it is the way of life, its continuum, its mobius loop of existence. But reality has its own heartbeat – one that skips and murmurs through the vicissitudes of the calendar. And for the remainder of her day, my mother remained stuck between the nether days of sorrow and loss – again. Putting my mourning on hold, I eventually got up from the chair and, as an adult, did what had to be done. Flying back to New York I was overwhelmed with sadness at my baby sister’s death. It was a sorrow doubled by the loss of personal vitality. To this day I continue to mourn my sister – along with the loss of my youth.