THE LIFE LIMITED

tracks

Not the express train –

The uneventful

Quick-trip to decay

 

We’re on the Limited;

Confined within limits

On life’s platform

Night watching

Brief recognition vanishing outlines

Illuminated windows, They stare ahead

Silhouetted profiles against flashing light

Glimpsing the gold coins of

The Paradise Express

 

We remain for the day

As we see ourselves

Age and wisdom

In separate cars

On that same track

Tearing through

A landscape of

Scattered grace

 

THE FERRY TO THE DRY TORTUGAS

Dry tortugas

 

 

 

 

Seats (the best) on the top deck

Draped with posh hotel

Towels – pulling double duty saving and drying the seat for

The entitled; the family of five with a guest

 

Middle age couple #1 she holding desperately his hand

He looking like he stole time

Deciding on the white island linen shirt

The #2 she, face a beautiful forlorn ruin looking

Into the shoulder she married.

A shoulder that is turned away from her

As her husband talks across his son’s girlfriend (who feigns sleep)

Explaining something

Important (?) to his namesake

 

The young pale and married couple next to us Russian (?)

He sits away from the rays reading a thick paperback

She sits yoga in the sun

 

Two lovers at the rail; beautiful

Unnoticing of the lame (who are now walking)

And the blind (who are now seeing)

When he of receding hairline & confidence

grabs at her hips

She shimmy’s away

Ignorant of the finite attracting powers of good skin

She stands away a bit – the coy mistress, eyeing him

As the lusty gulf wind whips at her hem

Revealing everyone’s wish

 

BIG PINE KEY

BPK vultures

The vultures have been hovering over the island for weeks now

Swirling in great black theatrical wakes

A pre-migration event I am told

I am just now noticing the ugly

Close scrutiny over the streets and inlets

The search for dead flesh in the untrodden grounds

Divorced from Key West bound traffic

Maybe the vultures know something we don’t

That we are simply players in that Twilight Zone episode;

Humans imprisoned by personal need

To escape a turn-of-the-century Salvation Army toy chest

Alive until touched by strange hands

Becoming wooden & rotten

Death by ownership

 

Maybe the vultures know this

Which is why they stay

THE POLITICS OF EBOLA: GOD’S PLAN, AND I TOLD YOU SO

ebola

Last week I was stunned by the unkind comment of the stranger next to me as we filled a container with donated cans of soup at the local food bank. The comment came after a polite discussion that almost lulled me into dangerous camaraderie with this woman whose conversation segued from motherly pride in her daughter’s nursing career to her idea that Ebola is God’s punishment. “Whoa!” I put up my hand and responded with the usual; where was God when….(insert any historical scourge here). I pointed out Nazi Germany’s contribution to earthly scourges but, after a few days of contemplation, I know there is not much I could say to this woman and others like her who make their stabs at somatic immunity by volunteering in local food banks and presuming to know what God has in mind for believers and non-believers. And maybe my discomfort comes from my own questioning about a belief system that asks me to suspend belief in reality; a reality in which I live. The reality here is that Ebola is not new and as long as it stayed in some faraway land punishing others for being… well, the “other,” Ebola remained that terrible disease plaguing those sad people in that faraway land. Ebola is here, in our face, live and in living color (cue the hysteria).

We first-world (as opposed to third-world) inhabitants are quite predictable in our approach to life; we live our comfortable lives (some more comfortable than others) consumed with the daily familial and material concerns of the species. Oh, we read the headlines as we pass from one engagement to the next but no headline gets our attention like the local headline giving us the exact location and identity of the killer who has been knocking at our door for decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 1994 Richard Preston introduced a generation of readers to The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story, a non-fiction thriller that frightened even Steven King who, according to Wikipedia said the first chapter of The Hot Zone was “one of the most horrifying things I’ve read in my whole life. ” Preston’s book paints indelible images of people in the throes of hemorrhagic fevers and bursting vomit-bags of black bile on transatlantic flights. (After reading the Preston’s book in ’95 I have seriously changed my original position on monkeys as sweet and adorable pets). But Preston’s bestseller did not act as wake up call for the “free world”; shaking our collective shoulders and encouraging us to answer the door. No, it was not until the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, according to Slate.com, that serious research spending occurred at the behest of Dick Cheney whose fear of America’s vulnerability to attack by enemies using bioweapons (as if airplanes were not enough) prompted the Project Bioshield Act. And here is just another story from the file of tragic irony; were it not for the vicarious warriors – those men who fight wars with other people’s children – and their projection of retribution, we would be living with an even worse prognosis for survival.

It is Monday morning, our favorite team has lost the game leaving fans with nothing but hindsight to tell us that America has, once again, been caught deaf to the knocking of humanity. Had we listened to those doctors on the front lines fighting diseases (diseases that know no politics or religion) we wouldn’t be in this heightened state of terror. Had we studied the past, listened to our hearts, and reached out with all the atomic weight our country can muster (especially in times of war) to assist a world far less fortunate, we would not be at this intersection of moral chaos and panic. We allow the scourge of Ebola to continue by proclaiming it a part of “God’s” plan – a passive aggressive approach that did not work with the aids virus. As a country we need to read, reason, and understand. After reading the story of the Ebola virus in The Hot Zone we should have understood Preston’s terrifying conclusion: EBOV will be back. And so it has.

NOTHING COLD CAN STAY

cropped-icy-road.jpg

Today it will not be 60 degrees

A headline ripped from the

Tabloid of terrible weather

 

Hard to stay current in cold

Trying – even with chilly headlines

From the Gray Lady

Words in search of life beneath

Storm-gray water, brown mud that has

Rolled over unsuspecting souls with

Other places to be

 

All engaged in the struggle for

What was…

Blinking in disbelief at the instant of

What is …

And no clue as to

What shall be…

 

And the headlines

With their harsh reality prove

All the truth a soul can bear

 

Get up!

 

Stop flopping around

On that dirt floor of self

Screaming at the injustice

 

As if

Nature’s earth-shaking,

Watery bells

Are ringing the catastrophe

Of fear and suspicion for the first time

 

Get up

And do something

 

Writing in Key West

Slide1

Creativity comes when

There is no one you know

At the Parrot Bar

It springs from a

Third ring of loneliness

When the last call

For diversion comes

At 2 a.m.

Leaving you to

Stagger among

Hemingway

Wannabes

To your musty

Garret room

From which you

Hope to issue

The next

Fresh

Masterpiece

True That: 2012 – Year in Review

cropped-sunset3651.jpg

I predict: It will be our behavior, not our shining possessions, that will define us when that “revolution” comes and all that we love has been consigned to the heap of the archaic. What will future beings think (for surely they will want to know how life was lived in 2012) about us – Hawaii and the lower 48? Alaska has already defined itself for all time.  Will our behavior be dissected by state? Bisected by regional boundaries? Investigated via intellect? Separated by GPA and SAT scores?  For now it is certain that the 47%  and the infamous 53% will both have their day of judgment – a gift to the future – like the fruitcake you opened on the 25th of last month as you smiled, thinking  about its 50 year half-life that will allow for re-gifting – God willing.

Today, January 6, 2013, I sit at a table overlooking southern Florida’s Newfound Harbor Channel – beautiful and strong in its ability to lull me into believing the Florida Keys will escape the upcoming harsh judgment by virtue of its natural beauty. But this is pre-coffee illusion. By the time I finish my first cup I know (from the 12/29/12 headlines of the local Keynoter weekly and the Associated Press) the entire state of Florida will rank high as a potential headliner for the list titled, Thonged Throngs of Thieves and Throwbacks. It is a list that will make future forensic anthropologists scratch their heads in total wonder at how the species as a whole managed to survive.

So I ask you to imagine yourself far into the future, sitting before a wall-screen picking/clicking through the emotional and physical detritus that will forever be associated with the Sunshine State.

True:  From the files of Private companies are people too!

Only in Florida could a lifeguard be fired for doing the job they were hired to do – saving a life. The lifeguard apparently crossed the boundary – into privately protected beach waters to save a drowning man. The private protection company claimed the lifeguard put them at risk. There is now one more unemployed lifeguard in a state with  8,436 miles of coastline. I include  all tidal and marsh areas because (when faced with too much water) there are those in Florida who would certainly not have the presence of mind to simply stand up.

True: From the files of  what part of SOCIAL MEDIA don’t you understand?

And yes, Facebook is available in Florida.  A mother and daughter were sentenced to two months in the pokey for contributing to the delinquency of their dogs. It appears they used their dogs to kill their farm-raised pig in the backyard – and facebooked the entire event. There’s the old ‘pig-in-poke’ analogy here somewhere but I fear for the dogs – seriously.

Called for jury duty, a Sarasota county man received the old swift kick off the panel after sending the defendant a Facebook friend request.  The judge in the case was further ticked off by the ex-juror’s bragging on FB about his courthouse prowess. The judge, in an effort to help the ex-juror make new friends, sentenced him to three days in jail.

There was the Manatee County schoolteacher who said an  eight-year-old student of hers was the missing evolutionary link  between orangutans and humans. Not sure where she had this epiphany but she did herself no favor by posting it on facebook. She got a verbal warning for this. This is an adult with a few missing links herself. I’m not sure she should be teaching – anywhere in the universe.

And, speaking of teachers, a high school teacher had to explain why she put the cone-shaped dog collar (her cone of shame) on students to, I guess, teach them a lesson – a lesson she shared on FB.  All I can say here is this woman was apparently teaching at the wrong high school. There is no way in hell she would have gotten close to any student with that thing – not in the high school I attended nor in the high school at which I taught for 22 years.  This hurts me – on so many levels.

True: From the stupid files: (teachers get equal time here too)

And somewhere in a city (in Florida) far, far away, a teacher hired a hit-man to kill another teacher he suspected of spreading rumors about him.  This is Florida for heaven’s sake – how bad could those rumors have been? Every teacher who has spent more than five minutes in a faculty room needs to check for their name on Craig’s list “hit man for hire” column.

And then there’s the doting dad who showed up at kindergarten to retrieve the contents left in his son’s backpack. 1. One bag of marijuana – check. 2. One scale for measuring item 1. – check.  Ahh, those father and son homework bonding experiences. – I would think the boy would get to the weights and measures unit in fourth grade math but…

This from the 18-year-old dope smoker who was charged with DUI and possession three times in  three weeks. The last two times were consecutive days!  Apparently she had been staring at the sun far too long.

Don’t look now, but there is a Flagler county man whose eyesight apparently failed him as he shot his girlfriend in the leg – said she started looking like a wild hog to him.  There is no date attached to this story so I’m not sure if it was close to some holiday that would have called for a big meal.

True: from the files of drunk riding

An intoxicated man thought it would be fun to lead the police on a half-hour chase – he on a horse and the police on – it doesn’t say. But, I’m sure, his capture came down to just who had the most horse-power.

Then there was the 52-year-old woman whose photographs of her riding a manatee got her arrested.  Not sure what the issue is here.  Was she arrested for simply riding a friendly manatee or for being 52 years old?

True: From the files of, nail everything down a Floridian is in the house!   

One woman said thieves stole her Thanksgiving turkey from the garage freezer! Should they have stolen the turkey from the oven?

A Lakeland man was charged with stealing two swan eggs from their nest and cooked them. Over easy or scrambled? Didn’t say. Penalty? I vote digit removal  – seriously!

One man had 500 canaries stolen from his home. Begs the question – what the hell does one do with 500 canaries anyway? Freedom’s just another word for….

And then there’s the person who stole 150,000 baby clams.  Good thing they were babies – otherwise the person would be fairly easy to spot.

If you need further proof that thieves in Florida will steal anything, a woman arrived home to find someone had stolen her driveway – all 300 square feet of brick pavers! What did she expect? They weren’t nailed down.

True:  From the file of – Homeless & crazy (like a fox)!  

And here’s proof that Florida judges take theft seriously. A judge in Ocala sentenced a homeless man to 180 days in jail and fined him $500 for stealing $2 worth of candy. One less homeless man – for 180 days he’s got four squares, air conditioning, a proper toilet and medical attention. There’s a crime here but the homeless guy didn’t commit it.

True:  From the files of “Does anyone know the number for 911?”

A man repeatedly called 911 asking the female operator for sex

True: From the storage wars file

A man won an auction for the contents of a Pensacola storage unit only to find he was the new owner of dozens of jars of preserved human brains, hearts, lungs and other organs that had been collected by the previous owner – a former medial examiner. I’m hoping there was a brain there he could use.

True: from the gator files

A Florida airboat captain was showing a mid-west family around the Everglades. When he showed them how to feed the alligators a 9 foot gator lunged then bit the guide’s hand off.  Authorities later charged the captain (Hook) with illegal feeding of the alligators.

True: from the too much sun files

A man, looking to repay a debt of $400 took a taxi into town to the bank – robbed the bank then took the taxi back to his apartment.  When the police caught up with him, he had changed into women’s clothes.  A man in pantyhose can’t be arrested – can he?

True: from the revenge is (crunchy) if not sweet files

A man, having just won a cockroach eating contest, dropped dead when the body parts of the dozens of roaches he had eaten blocked his air passages. I’m sure it was written that this man must not burden the future with any genetic exchanges.

True: From the this is Florida and none of the above should be a surprise file

The sunshine state’s Governor Rick Scott, in an effort to promote a meningitis hot-line, gave the media the number of a phone-sex business. Big oops here!  (I’m wondering  if Minnie’s Mobile Sex Hotline is not misplaced  in the Gov’s cell phone contacts  – hmmm?)

I leave you with the words of Ben Franklin – In the new  year  may you  “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better [hu] man.

Happy 2013  🙂

North on Interstate 5

It is the same

40 years since

the golden hills

I once took for dead

Alive with oaks

And time

Alone with my  G(irlfriend)  P(ositioning)  S(ystem)

My oh so smooth guide out

On L.A’.s new concrete thoroughfares

And towns built far from the maddening hub

One blinkered view; away

A hot, dry temporary peace

The grapevine surprise   

The inexorable sameness – unknowable climb

Then the drop to California’s

Golden valley

Rich, the experience

Still – no billboards

Refreshing

Until

“Congress Created Dust Bowl”?   

Disappearing signs at 70 mph

I can smell Water

Rights issues

Still

But my old heart forgets

At 152

Gilroy smells    

Good green onions and garlic

I am 19 again

Cursing my old Grand Prix

Overheating – as I never could

And I consider my destinations

Engagements planned

How far to go?     

Judgment entering – bullet-fast.

I thought I’d be better at this

Escaping archived failures