Author Archives: explorethetempest

To him

it was a date

a childish hope

a slow and serious thing

a window beyond lovers,

not past, beyond, 

a chance, a calm yes

into a vital her


Play

Brothers on the mountain
Grey and blue play shivers
At dusk, to get it out before
Curfew and the scolding
Of the moon

Sisters in the field,
Green and gold play tremors
At dawn, tiring themselves before
Breakfast and the swaddling
Of the sun

Lovers under the waves,
Pink and red play tangles
At midnight, grooming one another after
Mass and the awakening
Of the tide


GPS

We loaded the car at 8:30 and headed toward the valley.  We formed a mini caravan of two cars, driving down state highways, me in front trying to time the lights so I wouldn’t lose my parents behind me.  My two were in the backseat, my daughter playing the roll of emcee for MadLibs.

We rolled into the small Shenandoah town around 11:15.  Driving down the narrow cemetery paths, my father, now in front, stopped and stepped out.  Dad helped Mom out, who walks with the help of a cane.

My kids quickly found the stone indicating where my grandfather and grandmother are burried.  They never knew them, having passed well before I was married.  I never knew my grandfather, and my grandmother was a caricature of someone from my childhood.  Here, my mom began to recall, aloud, bits of her own childhood, and the relationships between the names on the various markers.

A cousin arrived, one who lives nearby. Her father was my mom’s brother, and she was here to bury some of his ashes next to his parents.  A small, square hole had been prepared.  Polite and fun conversation returned to relationships and memories.  This church and that cabin.

My great grandmother was born in a cabin that is now maintained by the PATC and rented to vacationers.  This mountain and that road all had names that were shared by branches on my family tree.

We drove about ten miles up the road, where we found my great grandparents’ graves in a small churchyard.  Casual conversations with a few people coming from the service turned into a half hour of connections and hazy memories.

My kids were getting antsy, and so was I.  After our goodbyes, my parents left on their return to the midwest.  I drove my kids to show them a piece of land I had been interested in buying.  After a long winding ascent up a gravel road, we found the property, which was as I had remembered: more like the side of a mountain than a residential site, a steep and tree covered 5 acre plot: beautiful, but not able to be built on, even for a small cabin.

We went to the nearby town and found a little river rafting outfit, and spent the next hour floating and laughing our way down the river.

On the way home, after ice cream and drying off, we took a scenic route through the hills.  We saw a few deer, some goat farms, and Cooter’s Dukes of Hazard annual festival.  There must have been 300 orange cars parked there.

Arriving home, we were exhausted and happy.  Hot dogs on the grill and then to bed, quickly snoozing before the sun had fully set.


It follows

It follows,
the hollow hope
and knotted rope,
shot from starlight shafts,
a moving tide, air and breath
slips down the beam.

While ship’s width holds,
by the gravity of
its hulking apparition,
light reflecting on the
fog, this silver beard worn
upon a shadow,
the knot loosens.

Under the ring of bell,
the low horn folds the water,
though we exit on solid timber,
it follows
from heads to pillows,
it escapes, smoke from fires
lit deeper and
left untended to roam


Night Heat

Heat chokes the region.  My lawn is essentially a field of brown weeds, as I cannot justify watering it, save to keep my property value up.  I mow it, and the relative eveness keeps it presentable.  

A ritual and sweaty lunch walk.  An amble with my dog down near the stream along the biking trail.  This weekend, a difficult ascent up a Blue Ridge mountain peak. Outside, feeling alive in the push through the low haze of late July.

The sun fuels me, recharging a body that is frequently tired, exhausted, and fatigued.  It bookends my days in the summer, when the hours of sunlight are favorable and long. Going to bed just after sunset and rising as the sky starts to lighten has me, on most days, missing out on the darkness of night outside.  Waking up during the night, my room has been starkly transformed to blue and grey.  I often step out onto my deck.

Around my home, night isn’t silent, but rather, a noisy orchestra of foxes, birds, cicadas, crickets, and cats.  The heat remains, though tempered and dulled, while inside, a ceiling fan provides a measure of relief as I return. Night noises penetrate the walls. Outside my room, the nocturnal respite from blazing sunshine has the wildlife riled to a peak summer frenzy, it appears.

My dog stirs when he senses I am awake, sitting up or walking over the edge of the bed to pant in my face, as if to let me know he’s also ready for some night air. On nights when I opt to stay in bed, I’ll pat his head and roll over. Moments after ignoring him, he’ll shuffle off, turn, and set himself down hard, expelling a “harumph”. Minutes later, his breathing turns to snoring.

I’ll roll and contort, unable to sleep without a sheet, but alternatively sweating beneath it.  Eventually, sounds will melt into dreams, warmth will transform to slumber.


Daughter

She laughs and we make up songs along with the radio “fresh hits”, usually about the dog or some other silliness.    She’s clever, almost as clever as her dad at finding a dumb rhyme to work in the words “Zeus” or “poop”.

She’s trying to make me laugh, and that is the whole point.  She says, “I love you, Daddy” three or four times during an hour long trip.

She’s tougher than she used to be, able to change her mood from self-pity to resolve by refocusing and moving onto the next thing. She’s way more adaptive.

She’s so much like me. She’s nutty creative. She’s a cuddler.

She is on the cusp of change, and I see her genuinely facing it.


Easy Crazy

I will plant myself at the end of my driveway.

Like an old friend, the chatter of a suburban world just past bedtime will hold me in conversation, like it had when I whispered, knowing my kids were dozing just above the garage, two in the same bed, there because the other one was.

My crazy will flutter under the beam of the lamp, dissolve into an old comfort.  This spot, where I pulled my knees up inside my arms, believing that newness in the world was an old letter finally finding its way to my home, will be different.  My crazy will attach itself to the moths and crickets dancing outside of me.

Thoughts will be of a friend whom I will soon visit, and what I will say.  No wisdom to impart, just a punched ticket and a lot of miles. He’s five years behind, and has no idea what the end of a driveway brings.

Thoughts of someone else.  Easy thoughts.

I will watch for shooting stars and feel at ease with my crazy.  The planning, the parting, and simpler things, like smiles and painting and dancing, will come easier here.  Being with me comes easier.  Sleep comes easier.

And I will wait for my crazy to return in a fox’s whine or the hum of the freeway.  I will wrap it up in humid summer air and see it to bed.


Yuck!

Just a bubble of blood.  I dabbed it with a paper towel that I took with me on the way out of the restroom.

The knuckle on my middle finger had been a problem for boxing, aching and sparking lightning that grounded itself in my wrist.  But after some rest and repair, I felt it was ready again.

The last time was different. A change of plans turned into a night just for me, a trial run.  No sparks. Old wraps and new gloves, though, had worked against me.  This time, in round three, I felt the simultaneous cold and hot of bleeding. 

Over a week, a small abrasion gave way to a slowly receding scab on top of the knuckle. Still, every time I reached for my keys, phone, or spare change in pockets that I recall were once roomier, I’d reopen the cut.  

First a stream of red, later just a crimson dot. Bandages couldn’t stay in place, and lay ineffectively across the ridges. Sometimes I would notice the bleeding while typing on my keyboard or preparing to offer a handshake.  More disturbing, the bandage was somewhere, hopefully in my pocket and not anywhere else.  

It was never in my pocket, and I never found any of them.


It Just Doesn’t Matter

Accepting and striving counterpoised. It all reminds me of Tripper’s speech, in the movie Meatballs…

That’s just the attitude we don’t need. Sure, Mohawk has beaten us twelve years in a row. Sure, they’re terrific athletes. They’ve got the best equipment that money can buy. Hell, every team they’re sending over here has their own personal masseuse, not masseur, masseuse. But it doesn’t matter. Do you know that every Mohawk competitor has an electrocardiogram, blood and urine tests every 48 hours to see if there’s any change in his physical condition? Do you know that they use the most sophisticated training methods from the Soviet Union, East and West Germany, and the newest Olympic power Trinidad-Tobago? But it doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER. I tell you, IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!

And even, and even if we win, if we win, HAH! Even if we win! Even if we play so far over our heads that our noses bleed for a week to ten days. Even if God in Heaven above comes down and points his hand at our side of the field. Even if every man, woman and child held hands together and prayed for us to win, it just wouldn’t matter, because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk cause they’ve got all the money! It just doesn’t matter if we win or we lose. IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER!

It doesn’t matter…at least, the thing we were all supposed to want. This is not nihilism, but a rejection of some external definition of winning and losing in favor of some other acceptance. 

Detractors will appear. Critics and well meaning sages may offer unsolicited comment.

Settling? Perhaps. So what? 

I know what does matter to me most of the time, and it is different than it used to be.


Son

He’s getting older and I am getting old.  He doesn’t want to talk so much these days, and I want too much to talk with him.  He is fine, even when he is not, and this we have in common.

He is a man in ways he may not recognize. He is young, and he has the benefit of choices, a terribly scary burden. He is excited to make them his. 

He is my son, and he is tied to my life. He is his own, not yet on his own.