It begins like this

(to my mother, a bit, but mostly to me)

It begins like this, this
path toward normalcy,
the funeral two weeks past:
One less beer before bed.
Dreams versus nightmares.
Willingly entering the jail of work.
Discovering your face is smiling.
Telling jokes.
Wondering why your friends
can't get along--then
not caring.
Considering
your life may continue as
once it did, an insensitive, joyous
expression of "Yes I'm Alive"...
Undermining this carefully
cultured mourning pose you've adopted.
And guiltlessly saying goodbye to it.

(this is not a poem)

NC Zoo, March 2007
This is not a poem.
This is not a diatribe.
This is not a manifesto.
This is not much of anything at all,
Except one man accepting his 
Legacy from another.
He carried burdensome feelings of
inadequacy, imperfection, 
insensitivity, all of them
tamped down hard,
buried deeply, like
a stone in his heart. He 
layered it with each failure,
consoled himself with 
"At least I am providing for my family." 
"At least I do good work, 
support my co-workers with grace,
with fairness." And mostly with
"At least I fear God." Though
whether fearing God came
from his true heart or from 
his boyhood he never knew.
Each new layer of failure or 
consternation or losing 
control to anger resonated 
all of the other layers. Each 
new layer seemed heavier 
than the last. 
                         Eventually
his heart-weight became
too much. One failure 
too many. He said to himself,
"I am perfect enough that never,
never should that have happened."
He said it again. And again. And every
day again. He repeated it,
haunted himself with it, 
layering and layering his heart 
until it only could beat 
when he didn't think--
and he only could not think by
shutting out his own voice, 
stopping up his ears to his heart-stone:
taking flight in sleep, 
in blessed nothingness.
Five years and five months he
stayed chained to that heart.
Then he died.
I saw that man yesterday. 
I see him more frequently
these days. 
I recognize his ways. It
seems I live with him more 
and more. I wish I could
cradle his rounded, load-weary
shoulders, caress the thin hair
of his head. Tell him it's okay.
Then ask him,
"Could you do the same 
for me?"
No, definitely not a poem.
Poems rhyme, 
poems have meter.
Poems make sense. 

when life hands you snow…

Bryce Canyon National Park, UT, March 2000

I was just venturing into digital photography with a bulky Agfa camera–hence the very low quality of the photograph here. My wife and I celebrated her completion of chemotherapy by heading to southern Utah. We woke to a couple inches of snow in Moab. We drove in and out of snowstorms that day: through a mini-blizzard in rangeland west of Moab; dodging flakes in Capitol Reef National Park; stopping by the side of the road to prepare lunch on the spine of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, with a few lazy flakes and no other cars; arriving at the Bryce National Park Lodge in the late afternoon with snow falling again. “Let’s stay two nights,” I said, “and just enjoy this lodge today.” So we did. We ventured out the next morning to snap photos wherever we could get to–the roads were not all plowed. It wound up being one of the best vacations we’ve taken.

from my mother’s day

Back side of Cathedral Rock, near Sedona, AZ, February 2022

I grew up looking at the old travel photos and souvenir filmstrips of the 1920’s through 1940’s which my mother and her parents collected. I distinctly remember some textured postcard-like sets of souvenir vistas which either she or her parents collected when traveling. This photo reminds me of those little cards (approximately 2 inches by 3 inches).

I never view these classic southwest American vistas without thinking of the Tru-Vue filmstrip viewer which introduced me to them:

Tru-Vue 3D filmstrip viewer, circa 1940s?

It’s not the best photo I have of the viewer, but it’s the most informative. The viewer itself is upside down: the flange sticking out of the top is the advancing mechanism which is customarily used at the bottom. Those persons aged 60-70 will recognize the concept which was translated into discs of photos which we looked at through similar, but more plastic viewers. A giant loss with these viewers of the 1960’s was that they only had a dozen or so images. The filmstrips above were almost limitless and offered several dozen black-and-white photos of the subjects named on the cartons shown. Even so, one notices that the Grand Canyon has at least three filmstrips. As I recall, the eight boxes which are not identified in the photo were of Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park. An added plus is the intricately inlaid box which housed everything.