Archive for November 22nd, 2006

There comes an age,
when stains on the front of my sweatshirt
drawl, “I don’t feel like working” –
my mouth is dry and thirsty
my back aches

– must be (52).
There comes an age
when I don’t care what people think –
vanity takes a backseat to wisdom and sensibility,
falling in love doesn’t hold the same
steamy juice

– just another kind of love.

There comes an age
when you can only count on you,
standing on your own two feet
is preferred to being taken care of,
and writing is the only thing that matters.

There comes an age
when hair grows thick inside the ear,
tufts eek out the edge of the nose,
fingernails grow misshapen and brittle,
calluses defy the serrated file

– gray outshines the natural.

There comes an age
when a romp in the hay stiffens the blood,
love is more powerful than hate,
the irritation you feel,
a lone grain of sand in an oyster shell

– a pearl rolling in a silver bowl.

There comes an age
when the most powerful people stand least exposed,
humility slinks through desperation,

Tom cruises low in the Maldives
suddenly (6″) taller than Holmes;

Kramer burns his crosses
ex-megalaughbuster –
bad manners, poor taste,
and racist hate.

O.J.’s dead and buried, killed
by the two-faced blade of Rupert Murdoch –
“If I did it, I want the world to know
I’m covered in bad blood.”

– what the hell are people thinking?

There comes an age
when the truth matters more than lying,
Santa red makes a comeback, your favorite color
like it was at age (6), tenderness and fragility
outweigh the need for tough love.

There comes an age
when strength is not measured in pounds pressed at the bench,
clear-sighted has nothing to do
with (5) layers of cornea,
visionary does not extend beyond (30) years.

There comes an age
when humility and grace trump privilege and fame,
money is something I want enough of, without being greedy,
good and bad traits of women and men
become the same damn thing.

There comes an age
when I want to laugh at my failures,
hail them as successes –
soar down the hill on a hot shiny disc
spewing freshly mowed powder;

but snow flies blindly
in the cold face of reason,
falls flat on ice-burned lips
lapping it all up, only to discover
the thirst has already been quenched.

There comes an age
when silence speaks louder than words,
the tough get going
and the meek inherit the earth;

– (230) years later
the Framers return,
Jeffersonian voices booming
through British clairvoyants named Lisa:

“Yes, you’ve made a grievous mistake. No, those witches weren’t supposed to be burned at the stake. And the (300) lost languages of the indigenous peoples? – No, not supposed to be traded for steeples.”

a muddy, booted sole plunks down
on a tiny piece of granite –
Plymouth Rock –
“the most disappointing landmark in America”

There comes an age
when stinky cheese seems less stinky,
a single glass of Merlot is all it takes
to put you over the edge,
and laughter’s more important than sex.

There comes an age
when it’s harder to hold a shape, any shape,
the weight of the world piles on
over Thanksgiving waists

I don’t want to haul an evergreen home,
to celebrate Christ’s birth, not one silver fir,
or spend the entire weekend baking turkeys
and mashing potatoes; but I will
watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

There comes an age (2654)
when Pisces plummets
into Aquarius full bore –
the mossy air of the (11th) sign
fanning watery flames –

What’s Going On never loses its punch,
the Fifth Dimension no longer reigns,
a hollow remnant of a parallel Universe
or a Grammy production of Bones Howe fame.

It’s Thanksgiving week (2006)
I’m restless, not bored,
older, feeling young

hopelessly forlorn
and quietly strong.

My heart hurts – I’m in love,
full of hope and promise
for (2007), year of the Fire Pig.
My stomach churns –
the head says, be quiet.


surrounded by Souls
life could not have imagined.

Lost is a place,
I’ve found my true calling.

There comes an age –
when I have to let go.

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

-post from writing practice, PRACTICE – There Comes An Age – 15min 

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On the early afternoon of November 22nd, 1963, I was sitting in 3rd grade at a wooden desk drawing hearts with a BIC pen. It was 2:13 on Friday. I couldn’t wait for the weekend. My 3rd grade teacher, Miss Wells, wore pleated skirts that flowed behind her and she was tall, with slender limbs, but she had a kind, round face.

I was 9 years old. I didn’t know what I was about to find out – at 1pm CST, 2 o’clock South Carolina time, President John F. Kennedy had been pronounced dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He’d been shot, half hour earlier, while I was coming in from recess.

But let’s backtrack a little.

By 1 o’clock EST, I had finished lunch served on gray plastic trays by hair-netted, uniformed women: Tater Tots, Velveeta mac and cheese, a pint of whole Borden’s milk (sporting a daisy-ringed, smiling, Elsie the Cow), and all American apple crisp with brown sugar, oats, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, water, salt, and lemon to taste.

At 1:30, the moment Kennedy was shot, I was being called in from recess. When the bell rang, I stopped romping on the wooden planked teeter-totters, playing hopscotch in the dirt, and jumping through the wiry, jute ropes and tall metal swings of the 60’s. I walked toward the brick school building and flirted with freckle-faced Billy while we were standing in wobbly 3rd grade lines waiting for Mrs. Payne.

Mrs. Payne was on playground duty, just about to pull up her lanyard to blow her trademark silver whistle so we could walk single file back to the classroom. I loved Billy because he could rabbit wiggle his nostrils like me, a recessive gene trait we shared. The very act of flaring our nose holes, simultaneously, on command, endeared him to me.

By 2:00, when Kennedy was pronounced dead, Mrs. Wells was preparing to teach the afternoon lesson, South Carolina history. South Carolina, the Palmetto State, dressed in dark blue silk, a white crescent moon and silhouetted palm, was one of the 13 Original Colonies. Can you name the others? A 5th grader probably could. And in 3rd grade, I knew the following about South Carolina:

State Capitol: ColumbiaSouth Carolina Flag
State Bird: the Carolina Wren
State Beverage: Sweet Iced Tea
State Snack: Boiled Peanuts (hmmmm)
State Fruit: the Peach
State Motto: “While I breathe, I hope”


Around 2:15, out of a worn brown speaker cover high on the wall, dotted with symmetrically punched holes, the principal’s voice floated, disembodied, out of the public address system (remember the tinny, boxy sound of the PA?) I can’t remember the principal’s name. Just that she was stern, with an apple shaped, peasant stock body like me, curly short hair, and hard-soled pumps that clacked along the waxed linoleum when she snapped us to attention.

But this afternoon, she wasn’t snapping. In a quiet voice, the quietest I’d ever heard, she slowly announced, “Can I have your attention. I’ve got some sad news. President John F. Kennedy was shot today at 12:30 CST. He died at 1pm from gunshot wounds. Let’s bow our heads in a moment of silence.”

We sat there in our seats, stunned, looking up at lanky Clara Wells for direction. Miss Wells stared up at the speaker, blankly, but only for a few seconds. Then she quickly recovered and led us through the moment of silence. I don’t remember what, if anything, she said. I only remember the sinking feeling and the sadness that swept over me like a shroud.

Later that night, on the black and white Zenith, my parents and I, along with 189 million other Americans, relived the day: Walter Cronkite’s low jowls, Jackie’s pink pill box hat and Chanel suit, the raised right hand of Lyndon Johnson’s “do you solemnly swear.” It played like a dream sequence. My young mind could not comprehend the full impact. But I knew something big had changed.


When I went back to the South in 1999, Belvedere Elementary stood in the same place, along the scrub pines and dirty salt and pepper playground, across from the Methodist church. The Baptist church that my best friend, Susan, attended every Sunday was still on the opposite corner of the street. The school wasn’t open that day. I peeked in the windows but couldn’t see much. I took some photographs.

The place seemed smaller than I remembered it. But the memories, huge. I did a lot of growing up in that place.

A few weeks ago when I was doing Internet research for a presentation, I ran across Bryan Woolley’s account, The Day Kennedy Died, from a 1983 article he wrote for the Dallas Times Herald. The story is based solely on the facts. In this case, the facts are enough. The facts are powerful.

That day in 1963, this country had the breath knocked out of it. Something died: our collective sense of well-being and hope. Back then, I was the next generation. And the seeds of fear took root in my 9 year old heart.

But while I breathe, I hope.

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006


Here’s Bryan’s story. Just the facts, M’am. Just the facts.


Volume : SIRS 1991 History, Article 02                               
Subject: Keyword(s) : KENNEDY and ASSASSINATION
Title  : The Day John Kennedy Died                                            
Author : Bryan Woolley                                                        
Source : Dallas Times Herald (Dallas, Texas)                                  
Publication Date : Nov. 20, 1983      
Page Number(s) : Sec. Sec. 2-3 

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  1. If you have a local store like “Discovery Channel,” “Natural Wonders,” etc, a place that sells science toys and geodes and other interesting stuff, go in and browse and then write about your visit, OR
  2. Find a simple experiment to do at home and write about it: e.g. tie both ends of a piece of string to a hanger and then wrap the string around your index fingers and stick them in your ears and listen to the chime when you bang the hanger against something hard, OR
  3. Surf the web for natural wonders and write about what you found, OR
  4. Write a poem inspired by fractals, OR
  5. Go to a natural history or science museum, OR
  6. Otherwise, go for a walk somewhere, in nature, in the city, in your house, wherever, and pay attention to the every day natural wonders.

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