Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Joy Springs Eternal


Like the Spring Sun rising in the North
Your tireless mirth
Melts the frozen shackles of melancholy
Releasing our hearts to the warmth of eternal joy

Saturday, August 25, 2018

McCain

He was a War Hero you know,
this true red, white and blue American boy.
Like his father and grandfather before him,
he would grow to serve his country.

This true red, white and blue American boy
He went into the Navy to serve his country
Like his father and grandfather before him,
He would carry that service into war.

He went into the Navy to serve his country
His true character showed in how he helped his comrades
He would carry that service into war,
Staking life and limb to save another aviator on the U.S.S. Forrestal

His true character showed in how he helped his comrades
With bomb bursting and fires raging
Staking life and limb to save another aviator on the U.S.S. Forrestal
He was wounded in the legs and chest

With bomb bursting and fires raging
He was shot down as he flew over Hanoi
He was wounded in the legs and chest
He was beaten for serving his country

He was shot down as he flew over Hanoi
And he would suffer for it
He was beaten for serving his country
This made him an American Hero.

And he would suffer for it
Like his father and grandfather before him,
he would grow to serve his country
He was a War Hero you know

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Canaries in a Coal Mine

Mother spent many years trying to socialize the masculine fruit of her womb; giving to two scrapping boys the gift of the graces that never manifested in their boorish absent father, possibly foreseeing a disastrous demise for her progeny should they follow in the bastard's footsteps. The first attempt came in the guise of a pet bird, a green and yellow ball of feathers flitting around in a white enameled cage of no real aesthetic consequence, connected to the ground by a white enameled cast iron stand.

"What shall we name him?"
"Tweety!" we chimed.
"Hardly a unique nomenclature from such intelligently creative young men." she scowled; we were four and three years of age, I being the eldest.
Our shoulders slumped forward.
"I think we should name him Perky, he does have that air of infinite energy about him." Our heads drooped even further.
"Right, so we're in agreement, Perky it is. Michael", looking towards my brother, "you feed and water as needed."
Placing her hand on my head and moving it so that her serious gaze met my eyes, "You have the most important job of all, changing the paper at the bottom of the cage daily, so that the house does not begin to smell like a nasty aviary."
Nodding in the affirmative she continued, “You do understand me, correct?” I nodded in agreement; though I wasn't completely convinced I understood her reference, since I had never been acquainted with word aviary or the smell of unkempt chickens.

****

Canaries were first bred in captivity in the 17th century. They were brought over by Spanish sailors to Europe. This bird became expensive and fashionable to breeding in courts of Spanish and English kings. Monks started breeding them and only sold the males (which sing). This kept the birds in short supply and drove the price up.

****

Following in my father's flighty footsteps, Perky One, made his escape the second time I cleaned the cage; less emotion emanated from the keeper than from the giver of this gift. My brother also sought to escape our less than harmonious life before reaching puberty, once through childhood pneumonia at age two and  then by catching spinal meningitis at the age of six.

Perky Two came and went with minimal fanfare, meeting its demise at the hands of a ghostly figure, who I later suspected was one of my mother’s many gentlemen caller's suffering from the consequences of a long evening of alcohol fed revelry and was not very appreciative of the morning thrushes and twittering.
****
Canaries were iconically used in coal mines to detect the presence of carbon monoxide. The bird's rapid breathing rate, small size, and high metabolism, compared to the miners, led birds in dangerous mines to succumb before the miners, thereby giving them time to take action. The use of miners' canaries in British mines was phased out in 1987, how unfortunate that such a joyful thrush should endure such a horrible life condition.

****
Perkys Three and Four seemed to have fared better during their stay, though I am not sure it was a consequence of our more diligent efforts or the fact they were given away to lonely old ladies that lived in the various apartment complexes we found ourselves in as mother migrated us from one hamlet to another in her effort the bring meaningful change to her life. Nonetheless they were better off and at times I wished I had been in that cage with them.

****
Canaries have been extensively used in research to study neurogenesis, or the birth of new neurons in the adult brain, and also for basic research in order to understand how songbirds encode and produce song. Thus, canaries have served as model species for discovering how the vertebrate brain learns, consolidates memories, and recalls coordinated motor movements. Fernando Nottebohm, a professor at the Rockefeller University in New York City, New York, detailed the brain structures and pathways that are involved in the production of bird song.
****
Perky Five was the final effigy of my mother's experiment in male socialization before she gave us up to the teenage bacchanalian gods of post pubescent adolescents.  She was now in possession of a new husband, the father of my sister and the daughter that she always wished she had given birth to first. At age thirteen when my sister and Perky 5 made their entrance into my life, the promise of a male figure that would lead me into adult life was in the guise of a twenty-two year old surfer with a mean streak as long as  Jeffrey’s Bay wave. Now I not only had the responsibility of keeping a feathered beast safe, I had now became the live in babysitter for my parents latest offspring and the rest of my teenage years were defined by these constraints.
****
Canaries have been depicted in cartoons from the mid-20th century as being harassed by domestic cats; the most famous cartoon canary is Warner Brothers' "Tweety Bird", who always seemed to get the better of Sylvester.
****
Perky Five found the simplest means to end his pain by starting a fight with himself in the tile mirrored living room. For months I suspected that he was in severe mental distress as a consequence of having the cage placed within close proximity of the gold veined and smoked glass that represented my mother's eccentric view of the world. On the day of the fight I had moved the cage across the room near the door to clean the bottom out. Perky Five dropped through the bottom and flew like a mad duck, not for the door, but for the mirrored apparition that was his nemesis. A thud, a puff of feathers and a comical moment later, Perky laid at the base of the wall, no sign of life emanating from his colorful form. I gathered him up in my palms, placed him in a small wooden box; a trifle of my stepfather's attempt at woodworking. The pain from the beating I received from my stepdad outlasted the pain I felt for the demise of my pet.

****
Norwich City, an English football team, is nicknamed "The Canaries" due to the city once being a famous centre for breeding and export of the birds. The club adopted the colours of yellow and green in homage. Jacob Mackley, of Norwich, won many prizes with birds of the local variety and shipped about 10,000 Norwich to New York every year. In the early 1900s, he opened his aviaries to the public for three days and 10,000 people turned up.
****

With the loss of the final feathered pest, the eviction of the surfer husband and his subsequently being tasked with caring for his own daughter, my responsibilities in life became narrowed down to more menial things like working two jobs and going to school. Since I had a flare for getting tasks done efficiently and in much less time than most, I had more time to indulge in my hobbies of surfing, dancing, theatre and teenage birds, not necessarily in that order. I didn't have much success with teen girls, however I did seem to catch the attention of their divorcee mothers, especially since dancing and surfing had sculpted my physique in such a way that certain features became more pronounced than others. A point made more poignant by the "Nice Ass" comments coming from my mother's thirty something girlfriends; the birds in church are less straight-laced than they would have you believe.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The only thing I have is the skin I was born in.

Reflections on being a straight white male in a multi-gendered, ethnocentric, racially charged society. This is not about feeling sorry for yourself or feeling picked on because you are white, its about learning to accept yourself, other people and having sympathy for their status in society as a consequence of an ever changing ethos.

"Your a horrible person"
Condemnation over expectations
"My anxiety is your fault, you yelled"
Concern over lack of post college motivation thrown back in my face
"You made my life hell"
Birthday parties, Halloween parties, Christmases, sleep overs, music camp, private school, music lessons, kittens, puppies, lambs, Barbies, vacations with grandparents, trips overseas, snow days, unconditional love. Privilege.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tribute to Lee Hernandez - US Army

His name is Lee Hernandez – American Hero

He is an American Hero you know,
this true red, white and blue boy.
Like the men that came before him,
he would grow to serve his country.

This true red, white and blue boy
He went into the ARMY to serve his country
Like the men that came before him,
He would carry that service into war.

He went into the ARMY to serve his country
His true character showed in how he served his comrades
He would carry that service into war,
Staking life and limb to protect others whose names are endless

His true character showed in how he served his comrades
With bomb bursting and fires raging
Staking life and limb to protect others whose names are endless
He is wounded to his very core, but his soul is whole and strong

With bomb bursting and fires raging
He was wounded in his prime
He is wounded to his very core, but his soul is whole and strong
His spirit will not be beaten, for he served his country well

He was wounded in his prime
And he would suffer for it, but
His spirit will not be beaten, for he served his country well
This makes him an American Hero.

And he would suffer for it
Like the men that came before him,
Who would grow to serve their country

They are American Heroes you know.
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Love Is



Why do people think they know what Love is?

Writers muse for endless eternities,

describing all of the conduits

Yet rarely scrape the surface of

Love’s resolute nature.

Love is recognition of

that of yourself that you worship

Measured in another soul.

Love is someone who kisses as good as you do

And yet you could learn a few tricks from.

Love is afternoons swinging in a hammock

Playing with your lover’s hair.

Love is touching them just SO

And watching them gasp with excitement.

Love is getting up, to make them a cup of coffee,

At 530am, when its your day off.

Love is the warm tongue of

“thank you” kissing your ear before

They depart, leaving you wanting them more.

Love is a quickie in the shower

Before heading off to work

And at lunch

And while driving home after work

And before making dinner

And while watching TV

And just before you pass out for the night

And thinking your dreaming only to wake up

Wrapped in each other’s arms. 
 
Love is holding their hair while they puke

Cleaning up the mess

Never complaining about it

Even after they try to kiss you

Before brushing their teeth.

Love is never measuring their faults

According to your gauges

Because you know you are as broken as they.

Love is being wicked together

Philanthropic together

Rebellious together

Complacent together

Together.

Love is never having to say you’re sorry

But doing it anyway, right or wrong!

Love is a Demi and Patrick moment

A Jennifer and Patrick moment

An Ellen and Patrick moment

A Gates McFadden and Patrick moment

An Alice and Patrick moment

A David and Neil Patrick moment.

Love is not revealing the losers

Of the next Game of Thrones Death Match

Love is sticking it out for three more months

To let that emotion Pass

And finding the Passion

To Renew the Love that is.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Lost Words


like a Sea Turtle choking on the plastic 
bags of human Selfishness, 
my wealth of words
is Submerged
under the dubious Constraints
of Self-Appointed judges. 
Perfection of thought
seems no longer Attainable
when Supposition is
presumed Evil
Purely as a Consequence
of its Origin.

like Frenzied scavengers
feeding on the Bloated carcasses
of Majestic blue giants,
Addle minded cretins
tear away the Fleshy
Conjugations swimming in
the Lagoons of my mind.
Fragmented narratives
drift hapless, useless
into a Murky abyss,
the Hell of lost aspirations.



like Screaming sea nymphs,
Purposeless souls lure
Wretched wandering pundits
into Deadly shoals
made more Dangerous
by infinite Whirlpools
of circular Reasoning,
I am therefore
i am Wrong.
Like playful Denizens
dancing through the Waves,
my Mind should be free
to spin Yarns
of fleeting Wanderlust
or unceasing Lamentations.


but like an ocean of Jelly Fish
Stinging my psyche,
good Intentions become
floating Obstructions
to my unique Candor.
Thoughts are
the Heart of words,
real or imagined.
I cannot make Vocabulary useful
once Appropriated.
Thoughtless, frayed minds
build parapets of Hate,
Obscuring my Convictions.