Friday, June 30, 2006

Bumper Crop of Bunnies

While cutting the grass I discovered a rabbit hole in our backyard - packed with little baby bunnies.

What the mama rabbit was thinking, I don't know. Our two dogs spend a lot of time in that yard. Of course, they are big dogs and will not fit down a rabbit hole.

In order to survive,
The rabbit
Has to dive
Before the dog can grab it.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Not the Quantum Kind

I mentioned my long-lost maternal grandfather was charming. That's a mysterious sort of quality, isn't it?

What is charm
And why does it disarm?
Is it delight in the other
Without intent to smother?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Mystery Grandfather

Spent some time talking to my mother about her father. He was around when she was a newborn, but the only time she remembers meeting him is when she was 5. She seems to have a photo of the meeting. She does look happy. She never saw him again, though she got news up to about the time she was 11, when she received word her father's new wife had given birth to a girl, in Pittsburgh.

So somewhere out there I may still have a half-aunt I've never met.

For the first time I can recall, I actually got to see photos of my unknown grandfather, Harold "Gene" Wright. Good looking guy, and evidently quite a charmer. Was my mom hiding these photos before? She mentioned to me that she had long been curious what happened to him and his new family, but had squelched her interest, not being sure she wanted to complicate her life.

Life is complicated.
Simple is overrated.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Crime in the Street

I was talking to a neighbor woman today who had her purse snatched while walking to the train. A man walking behind her saw the snatch, and immediately called the police on his cell phone. The police caught the thief.

With witnesses carrying phones
To call up the coppers before you have flown,

With cameras all over the place
The better to catch a good pic of your face,

I'm forming the happy belief
That it's getting harder to live as a thief.

The exception is internet crime
Which simply seems to increase over time.

Monday, June 26, 2006


There are so many enemies of love -
Suspicion, hurt, embarrassment, and fear
Begin the dusty list.

Yet somehow men and women rise above
Hostilities to hold each other dear,
All obstacles dismissed.

It may seem soft and dumb, like some sweet dove,
But underneath its eagle claws appear -
Difficult to resist.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Doing the Du

I did my first ever duathlon this morning. Basically, it's a run-bike-run event. Like a triathlon without water.

Years ago they were called biathlons. But that was confusing. There was already a sport called biathlon, which consists of skiing and shooting. So they went with "du" not "bi".

It's a South Side event, which means it was a pleasantly relaxed sort of race. I don't mean people weren't going fast - they were. But they weren't acting like their lives depended on placing in this race. For some reason you see that attitude more on the West and North sides of town.

Duathlons are easier to stage than triathlons - you don't need a body of water. Duathlons are easier to do than triathlons - you don't need to know how to swim. But for some reason they have never been as popular as tri's.

One of the big tricks to multisport racing
Is pacing.

If you go too fast on your bike
It's sure that your legs will feel like
They're over-done
On the final run.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Religion in the News

The FBI arrested some men in Miami who were considering an assault on the Sears Tower.

Why would people in Miami want to blow something up in Chicago? Don't they have anything of their own to blow up?

But one of the men is from Chicago. And the kooky religion they claim to practice, the Moorish Science Temple of America, is headquartered here too. It's little known, but it's a direct forerunner of the the Black Muslim movement. Moorish Science has a militant side and emphasizes the learning of martial arts.

Some Muslims in the news today were denouncing them as cult members.

You know, "cult" used to just mean "religious practice." But somehow in the sixties it started to mean "dangerous kooky brainwashing religion."

So now if you want to insult
A religion, you call it a cult.

Happy Day

I left work today at three
And got to to church ahead
Of the majority.

So I could truly see
My sister Ruth get wed.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Alarming Beauty of the Sky

I've been reading a book of poems, The Alarming Beauty of the Sky, by Leslie Monsour. Thank you, [info]choriamb, for alerting me to this poet's existence.

I was very struck by the final poem of the book, Parking Lot.

There's a technical aspect of this poem I wanted to remark on, because you don't see it very often. I didn't recognize it right away, myself. Consider the end-words of her first 4 lines:


Do these words rhyme? Of course, if you chopped the endings of the words off, they would rhyme just fine:

pow - fie - prow - ai

So you might think she was doing vowel-rhymes. Next you notice that those chopped off endings match up something like this:

er - er - el -el

So now you realize she has done what is known as an "analyzed rhyme":

power - fire - prowl - aisle

You hear the effect, but to see how it works you need to analyze it.

My favorite lines from the poem are these:

"I try to memorize impermanence:
The strange, alarming beauty of the sky,
The white moon's path, the twilight's deep, blue eye.
I want to stay till everything makes sense."

That reminds me of something I feel sometimes, when looking at something awesome and sensing that I'm on the verge of grasping deep truth.

I will admit that this particular poem exhibits an opposition between the ethereal heavens and actual life in its grasping and technological manifestations. This doesn't really resonate for me personally, but I think she captures it exquisitely.

Leslie Monsour
is the source
of many a tour
de force.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

How Commonplace

By coincidence, I just read 2 novels in a row where the protagonist quotes Kierkegaard. The books are: Straight Cut, by Madison Smartt Bell, and The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy.

Both protagonists are made queasy by the quotidian. Neither actually uses this latinate q-word. One author calls it "dailiness." The other calls it "everydayness."

I had imagined this whole quotidian-as-quandary business came from Heidegger. Nope. It goes back at least to Kierkegaard.

Everyday I learn something new.
What a quotidian thing to do!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Numbers Please

Police who want phone records have been buying them on the internet - instead of going through that pesky process of getting the judiciary to order companies to hand over the records.

Who wants some stuffy judge between us?
We don't need no stinkin' subpoenas!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Mission Accomplished

Betty Baby, our once deathly-ill pussy cat, has made a full recovery from distemper.

So now the distemper is out of the way, it's time to deal with the tapeworm.

Yes, Betty Baby was also diagnosed with a tapeworm, which means the other cat, and the two dogs, must all take tapeworm pills.

The dogs do not present a challenge. You can open their mouths, safely stick your hand way down their gullets, massage their throats from the outside, and reward them with a treat.

The cats, however, are a different matter.

Feeding a pill to a dog
Is like rolling off a log.

Feeding a pill to a cat
Is like rolling into a vat
Of very slippery oil
Just as it comes to a boil.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Decades ago my father showed up in one of the Chicago dailies. It was one of those man-in-the-street sound-bite flash-bulb deals. The kind the Onion makes fun of.

He was asked something about whether having children was worthwhile. He said yes.

One of the things he said was that children were good to be around, but that it was impossible to explain to people who are never around children.

Raising Children - Fun or Just Insane?
Maybe it's like trying to explain
How it feels to play out in the rain.

You're soaking wet
You're cold, and yet
Though it's hard to describe
You feel so alive.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Cherries on the Trees

My son is leaving for Dayton for his summer job early tomorrow morning.

So we did my father's day celebration at brunch today.

My son cut the backyard grass for me as his gift. It's a good gift. It's big, as city yards go, and it is hot here today.

I started the morning off with a local 5k. I went out way too fast. I did the first mile marker at 6:52. Uh oh.

It's really sort of sad,
But I can't maintain that speed.
And soon I felt the need
To slow down just a tad.

In about half an hour the Summer Solstice NIF party will start. I'll have to get the grill going.

The longest day is coming.
The pagan drums are drumming.
And the cherries on the trees
Are bobbling in the breeze.

We do have a sweet cherry tree in the front yard. We got a bumper crop this year. Actually, we had a good crop last year - but the birds got to it first! So this year Marsha got out there before the birds did. Mmmmm. We got buckets of them. Enough to eat yourself into a red pulp delirium.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Jets in the Desert

Here's a youtube video of jets flying LOW in the desert with a musical background. The pilot looks incredibly calm. The command of technology is awesome. From

Jets are supposed to go high
Not comfortably fly
Ten feet off the ground
At half the speed of sound.

Mitosis III

What is strangest yet to tell,
We all begin as just one cell
That splits in 2, then 4, then 8.
Watch those babies replicate!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mitosis II

So when a bacteria splits in two... is it dead?
Or alive? Or something else, instead?

And if alive... then each of them today
Goes back a long way.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Single celled critters
Don't need baby sitters.

Instead of two sexes colliding,
They multiply by dividing.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Mysticism vs. Baby

Reportedly, Madonna has dropped her friendship with Britney, because Britney has dropped her interest in the Kabbalah.

“I no longer study Kabbalah, my baby is my religion."

She's often held up for derision,
But I'm backing her decision.

As for me, given a choice between the Kaballah
And Veal Marsala,
I'm going with the veal.

It's real.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Back from the Deaf

Tonight, over dinner, my wife's brother, Douglas, asked me whether he was easier to talk with now.

Yes, I told him.

The back story is that he was profoundly deaf from an early age. He was taught to lip-read and speak. When I first met him, in the 1970's, I always had trouble speaking with him. He was hard to understand - there was something odd about his tone and pronunciation. And it was hard to make myself understood, as well. He often misunderstood what I would say.

My wife, however, has always been able to converse with him. She had mastered some knack, or set of knacks, for holding a conversation with him. She changed the way she spoke, moving her lips a certain way, restructuring her sentences, etc. It was actually a marvel to behold. She wasn't even particularly aware of doing all this.

About 2 years ago, Doug got a cochlear implant, a sort of computerized aritificial ear. He said it was very confusing at first, to hear sounds he never remembered hearing before. Sounds like birds chirping and dogs lapping water from a bowl.

But he worked hard at integrating the new noise into his understanding, and he has been working on his speech as well. Curiously, his improved hearing has helped not only his speech but his reading abilities as well.

After I said that yes, he was easier to talk to now, he asked me what it was like before.

I was baffled to describe it.

But I think I have a metaphor now. Talking to him was like talking to someone who knows some English, but not enough, and who speaks in a heavy accent, and who doesn't understand my accent.

It is such a pleasure to finally be able to have a relaxed conversation with the man! And he seems more relaxed now, too. It must have been horribly frustrating for most of his life.

I can't imagine all those years
With silent ears.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Hindu Wedding

We went to a Hindu wedding today. It was colorful and fun to watch. Of course, I don't understand much Sanskrit. For that matter, few Hindus probably understand Sanskrit.

Fortunately, they had someone explaining the ceremony in English while it went along. They didn't explain word-by-word. That probably would have been brain-numbing. I think it was shortened a bit from its full classical form.

There were prayers to Ganesha and Agni. Ganesha is the jolly Elephant-headed godling. Agni is Fire, and they had to walk around an open flame 7 times.

The groom was Indian-American, the bride Polish-American. I hear they're doing a Western wedding in August.

They must really love each other.

Most couples would be dreading
Having to do two weddings.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mild Millenial vs. Wild Perennial

In the restored Garden of Eden,
There will be no need for weedin'.
But in that perfect Zion,
I shall miss the Dandelion.

It has a witchy power.
One day it's a yellow flower.
Then, overnight, it's just
A wand of fairy dust.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Naked Bike Ride Tomorrow

The World Naked Bike Ride is coming to the Windy City tomorrow evening.

It seems to be a protest against automobiles. And clothing.

Tomorrow's forecast is: Colder. And rainy.

When cold rain blows
It's good to have clothes.

And even better, by far,
To be inside a car.

Bomber Bombed


Of course, it's just one guy. But he was a leader, and had a good video/audio presence, which counts for something. As many people have said, the terrorist effort is a combination of a killing program and a media program. If you can't cause deeply substantial damage, you can at least do showy damage that makes the evening news... and thereby scares more people.

If a suicide guy went kablam in the forest
With no one to hear him - no media chorus -
No victims but trees - would he still be a terrorist?
Or would it be better to call him an errorist?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My Mother

My mom is very sick. The prognosis is not good.

I find myself playing dumb electronic games MUCH more than usual - like the parachute game on the ipod, which I actually sort of won once. Winning that game is a warning sign that you're playing it too much.

I guess the action
Serves as distraction.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


When Arthur pulled the sword out of the stone,
And weighed it in his hand and held it high,
He swore to bring new order to his land
Which up till then was lawless, fearsome, wild.

Many years later, sitting on his throne,
Musing upon old battles long gone by,
He held the hilt again with his right hand,
And looked upon his lawful land and smiled.

(Yes, I've been reading Tennyson.)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Shape Shifter

In The Machinist,
Christian Bale was at his leanest.

The film was slow but held my attention
While I waited for an anorexia intervention.

Then, a bit later, in Batman Begins,
Not only is he no longer thin,

He's got monstrous bulk,
Like he's halfway to playing the Incredible Hulk.

He should write 2 versions of The Bale Diet Plan:
Lost Ghost or Muscle Man.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Omen

As the clock ticks
Toward 6-6-06,
Some people are worried.

They really should know
That a thousand years ago
That date already hurried


I made an attack on the vines that crawl
Up the outside wall.

Little green tendrils creep over the brick
And ferociously stick.

I claim success for my attack.
But they'll be back.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

George's Jog

I ran in George's Jog today. It's a local 5k put on by the family of George Kamberos, to honor his memory and collect money for the American Brain Tumor Association.

After the race:

1) I won a $25 Marshall Fields gift certificate in a raffle.


2) I received a trophy for taking 3rd place in my age group.

Do you think good luck really comes in sets of 3 occurrences in quick succession? If so I should make a major stock market play before the day is out. Or get in a poker game. Or lay down some money on a fast horse.

But it doesn't make sense
That types of events
Should come in sets of three.
So... no bets for me!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Death is Stupid

"Death is stupid," said my friend.

It's true. Life has all the smarts;
Makes all the fresh starts.

Death just takes the faded end.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Pledge of Avoidance

Somebody did a study of the teenagers who take the virginity pledge - to abstain from sex until married.

The study claims these particular teens have more of a tendency to understate their sexual histories.

I'm totally shocked that virginity pledgers
Would fudge up their sexual history ledgers.

Economic Powerhouses

Peter Saint-Andre quotes from a study showing how U.S. metro areas stack up economically against other countries in the world economy.

In other words, if the New York City metropolitan area was a country, where would it show up in a list ranking countries by Gross Domestic Product?

It would be 10th place apparently, just behind Canada, but ahead of India.

Poor Chicagoland is in 19th place. We are behind Russia. I can't believe we were outproduced by Russia! On the other hand, we are just ahead of Switzerland and Belgium.

Outproduced by Russians?
We really should be blushin'.

I take some solace in this:
At least we beat the Swiss.