Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

went out for my walk tonight - i walk about three miles, mostly around a pretty urban park - and the texas sky was dramatic. a stiff cold wind was coming from the north, or maybe northeast; wild clouds were trucking right across the sky. one time around the park and they were gone, tucked off in a corner of the sky i couldn't see well. the stiff wind bit at my cheeks and dried my skin. it's actually been a little wet - it snowed earlier today - but, it seemed like it was isolated wet clouds in an otherwise dry windy high-plains kind of weather pattern. the moisture, in other words, was an illusion.

now there was a bicycle lying there in the city park, up against one of the signs, but as i walked by i could see that it wasn't locked to the sign. and, strangely enough, it was very similar to one that was stolen from me about a year ago, a kind of mountain bike, but i could tell it was not the same one; in fact, it was more colorful. but, unlocked, city park, nobody anywhere near it, i almost felt like it was being offered back to me. i didn't touch it. i've become accustomed to walking, but, more importantly, it wasn't mine. just 'cause someone leaves it in the park, doesn't mean they're giving it away, does it?

so then, i got into the usual train of thought: my poems. i have over a thousand now; i can easy trim a few and just publish what i've got. there are three states, NC, VT, OK - for which i have not added any poems whatsoever. there are a few more - HI, NH, RI - that i consider woefully inadequate. but i get stuck - i go for long periods of time where i have nothing to say about a given place, and it just doesn't come; this is one of those periods. i can conjure up things to say about other places, maybe, and this is what i worked on; in fact; my present plan is to make this an issue that stays true to the reality of the trip, which would be the hitchhiking, the seventies. now this would bring on a couple of dilemmas. one is that i have been fairly fanatic about capturing the most interesting moments of the trip, though i'm not always true to the geography. but some of the wildest moments were actually in mexico, canada, or in the sea - do i move them across an international border? i'm tempted to capture the essence of the trip, in which case, i should. on the other hand, to really be true to the situation, i shouldn't....i haven't worked this out, to be quite honest. and some states, i was in only at night (DE, SC) - virtually everything i know, i learned from reading or talking to people, but i don't know how much of that was true back in, say, 1975, which is the time we're talking about here. how do i write anything at all? to be true to the trip, write about nighttimes, maybe.

as i read through my old work, trying to glean out what is still usable, etc., i am struck by what a fanatic i've been all along about geography. it's as if one single spot must come through, and if it doesn't, it's a bit general. if we just know the state, that's a bit general. but it's the same with the kigo, or season clue. a lot of those are quite general (he's camping in new york? must be summer...) - too general, in fact, as you could easily come back at me with proof that one can, in fact, do all kinds of things in all seasons. so these poems sometimes have two general clues...general on the place, and general on the time, and now i'm wondering, what about general about the era? is it similarly better to put it in the seventies, as a better option than leaving it timeless, or time-independent, might be a better word. don't know the answer to this. i'm expected to take a stand any day now.

house is full of boxes, unwrapped. my wife is an online shopper; i shop only at local stores that are not owned by far-right-teaparty-nutjobs. but there's only one, that i know of, so most of my gifts are barnes & noble this year, don't tell anyone, or the line between santa & dad will become just that much blurrier. most of the time i sit around and watch them get steadily more excited about the possibility of loot, and i think, one should be a pirate. why bother with these lists? get right on down to that unfettered greed, which is best demonstrated by a good game of monopoly, and everyone just go for what they can get. and why bother with the wrapping? that's something you do to meditate calmly about the preparation and serving over to someone, the presentation, in a colorful paper, of a gift....ah well, another year down the drain. this stuff is going out there in cardboard.

the wind howls off the northern part of the south plains, and i admit i like it. like my son said, let it snow about a foot on christmas day, and then just go away for the rest of the year, so we can have a white christmas, but none of the true inconvenience severe weather really brings. this wind, so far, it's ok, it hasn't knocked down any branches, or damaged a car. it's just out there pressing me as i walk. i have the park to myself - except for the bicycle, of course - not a soul out there, even on the busy street. quiet as a college town without the students, i like to say. because, that's what it is.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

5 Years of Semantics

My son's new poetry book...
I'm really proud of him!
Available on Amazon...click on the picture!

Friday, December 12, 2014

ho ha hu

it's a merry ho ho ho kind of year but it's taking longer than usual for me to get in the spirit and just write the letter. i did however finish the calendar and i'm sitting here looking at a stack of them wondering if i should just send a few without the letter, or before the letter. for my sons, surely, i decided, and sent a couple of them off, or at least packaged them. the rest of them are in a kind of limbo. i have the intention to send. it will happen, and, in fact, there's still plenty of time.

so then, in a flurry that involved a leaky furnace, nights of lost sleep, broken dryer, fixing the basement, and beginning to pack up, what i decided was to just type my original collection of stories, unloading, which was paper, and only available through me, so that, if it were typed up well enough, it would go up on createspace/amazon and be available to the public. this i did, the solemn and serious typing was good for me and a welcome break from a frazzling semester. but i gleaned some insights from it too, as i saw my early esl career up close, and i realized how varied were the sources of my inspiration. and i turned around and wrote another story that very night, last night, one that perhaps has been simmering for a while.

there was a really bizarre accident in the community over the thanksgiving break, in which a 14-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his 10-year-old brother at a hunting camp where, apparently, a loaded gun was just sitting there. the school was traumatized, though the boy who was killed was one grade above my son, and the boy who shot the gun was one grade above my other son. in other words, the boys knew the kids, or at least knew who they were, as it's a pretty small school. and i have two sets of boys, four years apart each, so my ears came straight up as i listened for the details, but, as it happened, i knew more than most of my fellow parents out on the playground, most of whom were horrified and anti-gun in general. the community, however, is pro-gun, and i think you could say this about texas in general; almost all texas news channels underplayed the incident, touched it briefly, mentioned that it was an accident. a british newspaper, however, played it up, obtained and provided pictures of the family, pictures of the kids, etc. it was like, if you wanted to see what this kid looked like, you had to go to the british rag. i, however, wanted to know if i knew them (i didn't). i also want to know how any of the possible players in it, the 14-year-old, the father, even the mother - can even live with themselves; i certainly couldn't. it was a horrible, unspeakable tragedy.

i have one argument when it comes to gun control, and that is that it would be much easier than we imagine. we have the technology to prevent you from turning on your car when you're drunk, and to make sure the police know where you are at every moment. we now have chips that help us know where our keys are at any moment. we could very easily apply this to guns, so that every owner could find his/her gun at any moment, and know if it was loaded. so that, presumably, a gun hanging around a hunting cabin, if it was loaded but the owner was elsewhere, it would be shining a little light that made that a little obvious. or, so that you'd have to type in a password (as you do on your phone) before you are able to kill someone. we do that with cars, although it's usually in the form of a key, as the first gate.

so i spend my days hanging around the schoolyard, as my kids are fanatic hang-from-the-monkey-bar kind of kids, except the one who gets bored easily, and i talk to these other parents a lot, but because i'm outside a couple of hours every afternoon, and then walk about three miles at night, i'm pretty healthy, and sleep very well. i've been working on my stories a little, as i've said; i may have two sets out pretty quick, one a reprint of the old 2005 unloading, and another new one, not finished yet. a possible boxcars on walnut in storeboughten form; and finally, the 2015 e pluribus which i'm very proud of, and have been working on for a while. i'm also renovating my webpages, and adding a lighthouse tour. this will give a person a tour of my webpages, some of which i'm still proud of.

packing is big. i'm thinking, maybe i can find some old stories in there, to add to my collection. i'm trying to make the new unloading a kind of retrospective, a history of my own story-telling, stretching right on back through my esl years. stay tuned!
new story:
The Pickle
comments welcome...enjoy!

Friday, December 05, 2014

new story:
The Other Guy's Fault
enjoy! comments welcome, as usual

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

i have a personal tradition of going to white sands on black friday, but it's mostly just a coincidence based on the fact that the thanksgiving break is one of the good times to head out over the oil fields, up the dry mountain to the sacramentos, down into the tularosa valley, and then over to las cruces where my parents and sister live. this time i took the 9-year-old boy with me, and he wasn't especially up for the what he used to call the white sandy mountain, but he did do the old s-trestle with me.

i saw an IL license plate right away, and eventually saw a few more exotic ones, but usually you don't see much on this trip; it's so far for people to drive just to get from any eastern state to the dry corner of new mexico, that you don't see much more than NM, AZ, TX, maybe CO. this time I saw CA, WA, OR, and a few more. eventually I saw NJ, MO, UT, AL, FL, and even AK. there were a few people out there.

it's been a busy time; we've been worrying about moving as we might move about five blocks, in mid-january. this upcoming move will give us the same size house, but better layout, quieter, closer to school and park, while it's basically the same school and same neighborhood. cheaper, that's the main thing; my wife doesn't want to be chair anymore, and doesn't need the expensive trappings of a chair's house.

high in the mountains there was snow up on the hillsides, but the 9-year-old got altitude sickness at first, and didn't want to play basketball in the mountain air, or do the trestle, even, at first. we sailed by the white sands, even though it was black friday and it's always good to go in there, and we pushed on until we climbed the organs, next mountain chain. when we got down into las cruces it was a fantastic world. the pink sun set on the light-blue organs, and it was actually the peak of their leaf season, and trees in the old downtown area had incredible oranges and browns, imagine a peak of a season at thanksgiving. with the sunset through the organs and all this color, the old part of town was really a little surreal.

but there was another kind of surreal experience. i've always hated malls of all kinds, especially on a black friday of course, when everyone is being unusually greedy or even standing in lines at places like best buy. the las cruces mall is very upscale, a pretty place, and, like ours, has a barnes and noble which, late at night, we decided to go to, in search of a dessert. my son wanted to take a walk around the place; like most of my kids, he's quite a bit more materialist than i am, and this seemed to him to be a good thing to do. the unusual thing about the las cruces mall was that it was quite full, but the white folks in there were less than maybe 5%. there were a few black folks like my son; a few asians, like maybe chinese or vietnamese. the vast majority i suppose you could call mexican-american, but i'm not even sure. they were quite diverse, and they were all acting kind of like people in every mall act. it was the same materialist black-friday kind of evening, but all the people had changed, the white folks weren't around at all, really. maybe they got down there early in the morning, or on thanksgiving.

i like getting away; it gives me a break from intensive grading and parenting which has been overwhelming. lately i go to get the kids at school and i can't help but let them play out there, hanging and swinging and running around, for just about as long as they want. this is almost every day, even when it's cold, and they can't seem to get enough of it, although the boy actually has a few other options that he's interested in. it almost seems like they had none of this, before we got them, and just have a lot of time to make up, to get really used to a new life and play hard and long, directly after school, every day. one thing for sure, they all sleep pretty well, and we like that; but, in the afternoons, i'm spending a lot of time at that playground.

and that's one reason i've become almost fanatic about my poetry. it goes with my lifestyle. i'll be stuck on one state, say washington, or maybe delaware, and squeeze out of my knowledge everything i can, sometimes for days. needless to say it's hardest to conjure up poems about places i've only been at night, or not been to at all, like hawaii. so i do some research when i get the chance, and then, those times when i'm sitting there, i make haiku. i've made about four or five a day for months now; late at night, i add them to the site and to a master list which now is up to almost a thousand. when i get a pure thousand i'll publish the 2015 e pluribus haiku, but my goal is to have a thousand non-repetitive, something in every season for every state, where each state is by itself a full chapter, not heavily weighted toward the ice or the blistering heat or whatever it is i remember so intensely that it permeates every image. so of course there i am, up against the most stubborn of stereotypes, or trying to get some more out of some state that i really don't have much memory of. and then, i get the idea to really put all of my travel experience in there, in whatever form. i don't have to have it be true to the place and time. it's more important, in this case, to have it true to the experience itself, and to represent everything that really happened. this lit a fire and i wrote a bunch more. some of these are places like new york, iowa, illinois, where i already had plenty. but you can't have too many. as i go over a thousand, that gives me more leeway to eliminate ones that have gone stale, or are repetitive.

got back to the turkey, the family, the day of rest, there was no football here. plenty of turkey here, though it was all on sunday, and it's sure to last all week one way or the other. what has really lasted is the desire for a nap. the kids liked the turkey this year, maybe because the girls had enthusiasm for the concept and it just spread around; in earlier years, they wouldn't even try it. we'd make this enormous production and they'd basically run right off and make a huge racket, leaving us a lot of cleaning up. my wife at one point said never again but fortunately this year she came back for at least one repeat performance. and we're good for another year; and, i got my calendar, which was, of course, the reason for traveling, and that calendar will soon be sent around, as i've found my address book. another season, kicked off in only the best fashion. and the days, they're as short as they can get, almost.