Death Sentence

Saw the doc
again today.
Despite all that exercise
my Chi isn’t as strong
as it was last year

and will continue
to decline
even if I take
the latest drug —
just not as fast.

At that rate
I should run out
of dollars
before I run
out of breath.

Knowing it
couldn’t be denied,
I stopped at Pao’s
and got two

If I’m going
on a long trip,
damn well
going to start it
on a full stomach.

Better than Gold

Every time I walk through a deep forest in the spring and see sunlight reflected off newly formed leaves

Spring Leaves In Sunshine

I’m reminded of Frost’s


Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

even though I realize that the poem refers to the golden buds that emerge just before they turn to leaves, not to newly-formed leaves like these.

Still, the poem captures the Japanese idea of mono no aware as well as any American poem I’m aware of.

Oh, That’s Just Too Cute

If you follow this site at all, you probably realize that I’ve spent a lot more time outdoors than I have inside reading since the sunshine returned, at least until tomorrow. Unfortunately, much of that time has been spent working in the yard.

Fortunately, the rest of it has been spent out walking. Sunday was no exception. We spent the day at Theler Wetlands in Belfair.

I got a few bird shots and some shots of plants, but just to prove I’m not beyond an appeal to blatant sentimentality to boost readership, I thought I’d resort to two shots of fawns with their mommy that Leslie pointed out to me while I was fixated on getting pictures of a Spotted Towhee.

Here’s the first shot:

Deer with two fawns

And here’s a better, second shot.

Deer with two fawns

Of course, when I took the second shot I actually thought there was only one fawn in the shot because I didn’t see the one hiding under the mom. Thank goodness for cheap, digital “film.”

As Clear as Mud

Man Piaba

Sure didn’t know it then, shouldn’t admit it now,
but I probably learned everything I know about love
way back in 4th grade when I fell in love with the most
beautiful girl in the whole wide world, or so she seemed.

Being boys who’d just read Tom and Huck’s adventures,
we used to pester the girls something awful on their way
to school, just knowing they loved all that attention,
though most the time they seemed to pay us no mind.

But Judy won my heart the day she hit my left thumb
square on with her Roy Rogers—Dale Evans lunchbox
so hard I still felt my heart pulsing three three days later,
and the whole summer every time I caught a fastball.

Seemed a sure sign she loved me, though she never said so.
Shoot, everyone knows if you love somebody enough
they have to love you back. Otherwise a guy’d be
near outta his mind to ever go falling in love with one.

Guess I didn’t learn better ‘til our class took up folk dancing
and the day our teacher decreed Lady’s Choice.
We stood cross the room, hugging the wall as best we could
feelin’ near naked and the girls smiling at us not so sweetly.

As I stood there, worrying my sweaty palms
might reveal my true feelings, Judy walked right
past my thump, thumping heart and looked
straight into the eyes of my best friend John.

Maybe I should’ve taken some small consolation
when it turned out little Sarah had a crush on me,
me being the teacher’s pet and all just ‘cuz I could read a little
and her having written a fairy tale for some children’s magazine,
but it really didn’t help none then, and it still don’t.

Another Poem

In June of 1950, dad, mom, big brother, baby, and I
headed out for California in our 1940 DeSoto
to dad’s new job as plant superintendent.
It was a long trip and more’n once we had to stop
‘side the road, scramble down a creek,
fetch ice cold water to douse a steaming radiator
‘cuz that old car was loaded down with
a crib, high chair, boxes tied on top, ‘nuff pans
and clothes to live two weeks until the rest caught up.

When we reached Oakland, we went looking for a place
to rest ‘til we could get our own home.
Stopped at a clean-looking motel, and ma
went in to see what rooms were available.
Woman looked at us sitting in the parking lot
and pointed down the road, saying,
“You can’t ‘ford this. You’ll be happier
down the road where they take your kind.?

Knew right away mom wasn’t no happier.
She didn’t cuss none but sure didn’t have
nothing nice to say about that uppity clerk,
‘cept we could afford anything we wanted
what with dad's company paying all the bills
for us having to move down there. The other
motel looked worse’n the projects across the street
from our old house, and we sure weren’t no project people.

Maybe that’s why it felt so good,
despite a bloody nose, six months later
when I pummeled the class bully
out behind the old school house
for calling James, who lived with his family
out behind the gas station, "a dumb Okie,?
and James, bigger’n us both, not saying nothing back
just standing there, looking down, quiet and polite and all.


I been
learning to lose
since the day I was born
twenty-three days after that day
which forever lives in infamy.

Mother spent my early days
riveting Boeing bombers,
father spent days and nights
generating ‘nough acetylene
to weld a thousand Kaiser ships,
six thousand B-17’s.
Hardly anyone had time
even to hear me cry.

Lost our home after
big brother’s asthma;
no health insurance to pay the bills.
Spent a year living in an old motel,
dad four hundred miles away
working night and day to pay rent, buy food.

Nearly lost a hand
when it went through the wringer,
left my hand shaped like a cup,
little beggar who couldn’t do for himself.

Hell, feels like I’m still losing.
Sure don’t expect to ever Win.
Probably end up just folding
these cards, slipping away in the dark.

Out of Tune

I felt sorry for Bobby
when his mother
called him off the streets
to practice piano lessons
while we played football,

embarassed when
my teacher asked
me to mouth the words to
“Polly Wolly Doodle?
because the class
followed earlessly as I
wandered off key,

incredulous when
the high school
choir teacher called me in,
asked me to join
the choir after hearing
me perform in a skit.

Finally felt I’d
found my true music
upon reading,
"If a man does not keep
pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because
he hears a different drummer,?

nearly had a flashback,
and broke out laughing
hearing my grandson,
humming the soundtrack
of “Pirates of the Caribean?
while listening through headphones.

Tonight Skye lays
his head sorrowfully
on my lap whenever
I begin humming along with
Baka Beyond's “Ngombi?
while reading the news,
knows I'm still hopelessly
out of tune.