Thursday, February 8, 2018

Wait, Isn't This February?

i thank You God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes
- e. e. cummings

I hiked a local trail yesterday, one that has inspired many of my poems and blog entries. A friend had planned to join me, but life interfered. I went alone and decided to just enjoy the trek, savor spring-like weather, avoid temptations to create a poem along the way.

Smiles on every face, cheerful greetings from strangers, dogs happily panting their way to the top – what a glorious day!

Sprinkled with breaks to capture nature's artwork, the climb seemed effortless. Of course, my photos of distant peaks do no justice to those bright diamonds-in-the-sky.

Long before I reached the bench near the bottom, the one with the e. e. cummings poem, I knew the truth: the trail is the poem, the trail is the prayer. I am always in the poem, not writing it.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

All a-Twitter

Trump’s Tweets scatter like birdshot, strike random objects, force a duck-and-weave through the forest of important issues.

We’ve no time for meaningful dialog before another Tweet distracts.

Yet issues pile high:
• Elephants, wolves, our natural resources
• Net neutrality
• Tax reform
• Racism
• Sexual harassment/sex trafficking
• Free speech/first amendment
• Gun control/second amendment
• Terrorism
• Nuclear war
• Russia
• Climate change/hurricane & fire disaster relief
• Immigration and the Wall

My blood pressure rises and reminds me – health care is on the blocks, too.

Even local issues rile: $20 million offer to retain a football coach; 12-story buildings on tiny spaces; a new campus section by the (rising) river; where the heck to build City Hall.

I’m befuddled by where to put my focus, where to send my meager contributions, where my energy will help most.

Imagine what $20 million could do.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


On Thanksgiving Day, on my drive from one side of town to another, a car from two lanes over made an abrupt turn in front of me. I slammed the brakes, pressed hard as they jittered. I stopped about a foot from the other driver’s door. The other car continued as though I’d not been seen. I chose not to follow, not to confront. Instead, I patted and praised my car, thankful I’d had my brakes redone a short time ago.

This week, two friends died. Two friends I’ve known for nearly fifty years. Two friends my age.

Three reminders that I have only today. No one knows when the brakes won’t hold, when a fall may prove fatal, when another battle with cancer can’t be won.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gracias a la vida

Thanksgiving 2017
Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto - Violeta Parra, Chilean folk singer

Today’s newspaper included 3.4 pounds of advertisements for Black Friday. What a waste. I feel for the delivery person. Now I will have to dispose of it.

I’ve been thinking of cancelling my subscription. The weight of today’s paper may have tipped the scale for me.

But I’m addicted to puzzles and comics. Can I go cold turkey? Probably not.

I’ll need to build a new routine, a way to get my exercise and satisfy my addictions. At least three stores within a mile of my house sell the local paper. Alternate routes. Variety. And I could do my trash lady routine, too. When I walk, I often take old plastic bags and pick up litter along the way. My community service job.

My current subscription expires on December 15.

I know. The dead of winter may not be the best time to start this. But I’m an Oregonian – waterproof, weathered and wrinkled. And I’m ready for a change. A challenge. A way to give thanks for being alive.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


Years ago, it was the craze to have I stop for . . . (fill in the blank) stickers on your bumper. I found one that said, I stop for no reason. One day I was in the right lane of a two lane road when the car to my left turned to the right in front of me. I hit the brake with both feet and everything on the seat crashed to the floor.

Before I could start up again, the light turned red. I was bent to retrieve my purse when someone knocked on my window. A motorcycle rider smiled at me. I rolled the window down. “That was a really good reason,” he said with a laugh. My panic and anger disappeared.

Now, the craze is to tell everyone about your family in symbols or words.

Recently, I pulled up behind a black SUV. The back window had four stickers:
TEXAS in orange, the word MOM underneath
Oregon State University, MOM underneath
• a bucking bronco and rider in brown on cream, MOM underneath (I looked it up: Wyoming)
• a yellow O, MOM underneath (didn't have to look it up: University of Oregon)

I wanted to run up to her window and say, Wow, MOM – that’s a lot of colleges . . . and kids.

But of course that would be rude. And her stickers are much better than the sticker I saw on a pickup canopy: a row of guns in decreasing sizes – rifles down to handguns – with THIS IS MY FAMILY next to it.

I have stickers on the back of my current vehicle. These help me find my white SUV in parking lots full of white SUVs. One is the shape of Oregon with a yellow O in the middle. Two others are symbols meaningful to me, but understanding those is unlikely to cause a confrontation. I don’t plan to add any others.

Monday, September 4, 2017


an incident at midnight, August 13, 2017

I woke to three loud knocks.
Not on my door, but close.
I waited.

Within a minute, a light illumined
the closet door in my hall.

I sat up.
The light blinked off.

I heard nothing more
and wondered if someone
had come to say goodbye.

I scanned the house,
returned to bed with that song
running through my head

Knock three times on the ceiling
if you want me . . .

It took several attempts
get the next words right

Twice on the pipe if the answer is no

In the morning, I found the lyrics,
listened to Tony Orlando & Dawn
and laughed at the line
(tap, tap, tap) means you’ll
meet me in the hallway.

I had ventured into the hall.
Now I wonder who didn’t show.

Friday, August 25, 2017


I stumble against it
my age of goodbye
bruised deep with each

I struggle for words
tender yet spiced
with bright sauce
of memory.

I stagger through days
empty of youth
and bump into fear
of waking
or never.

I savor the story:
A man, 100 years old,
rises each morning
writes details
of ordinary days
mails them off
to all
with love.

*inspired by a column in the Register-Guard by Dorcas Smucker