Thursday, September 6, 2018

Flag Waving

I was on the Color Guard when I was a grade school kid in Estes Park, Colorado.  We had five different teams, one for each day of the week.  When it was my day, I had to wear dark slacks and a white shirt as a sign of respect.  It was okay in the mornings and afternoons before and after school, but wearing the dorky outfit the rest of the day was a constant source of embarrassment.

We Color Guardians had a training session before the school year where we learned to fold an American flag properly.  We were also made to feel terrified at the prospect of letting the flag touch the ground, or not acting promptly enough to bring the flag in out of the rain or snow.  I loved being at one end of the flag, stretching it tight, folding it into that little triangle configuration with the stars on the outside, and tucking it under my arm as I carried it into the main office.

I was also on the Safety Patrol, but standing on the corner with a white shoulder belt on while protecting my classmates from oncoming traffic (there was no oncoming traffic in Estes Park) paled in comparison to handling the flag.

My only regret was that I wasn't allowed to play the anthem on my trombone.  That job was left to Billy Checkas and his silver trumpet.  I will grudgingly admit that Billy, while a complete bust as an altar boy at Our Lady of the Mountains, killed on the trumpet.

Later, in marching band, I got to play the anthem at the beginning of all home football games.  In the pep band, I did the same thing before home basketball games.  Of course, by that time I was a junior and senior in high school and my rendition of the bass trombone part on the anthem was made smoother by the little sips of the vodka I had cleverly poured into my slide oil bottle.  Don't worry, I put the bottle in boiling water first.  The brass section of the pep band always left the games in good spirits, win or lose.

I was a full fledged hippy freak wannabe when I went to college.  There was a flag flying daily over the administration building (The Pink Palace) at Regis.  There were flags hanging on the walls in almost all of the classrooms.  And when civic unrest found its way to our pretty little campus at 50th and Lowell, the flags started finding their way onto clothing.  One guy had a ratty pair of jeans with the flag sewn over his ass.  Others wore flag headbands.  In a rebellious mood, I bought a green tee shirt with a green hued flag emblazoned on my chest.  I wore that shirt the day after the murders at Kent State when I alternated between weeping and shouting with clenched fist.

Later that year I heard the Woodstock recording of Jimi Hendrix' version of "The Star Spangled Banner."  I was thrilled by its irreverance, but more than that, I was inspired by its genius.  I guess my respect for the good old red, white, and blue was all but lost.

To tell you the truth, since my Color Guard days, I have always been skeptical of flag waving patriotism.  For some reason,  I immediately distrust anyone wearing an American flag lapel pin.  I always assume they think putting that little symbol on their lapels excuses all their people hating behavior the rest of the week, their votes against the welfare state, their conspiracy to protect what's theirs, and screw the rest of us.  I know that's an unfair characterization, but that's what I think.

The little lapel pin flag demeans the real flag.  It shrinks what it stands for.  On the other extreme, a giant flag flapping in the wind and rain in front of a mattress store is even more degrading.  It is taking the flag and monetizing it by using it to get around anti-billboard zoning regulations.  Of course, I suppose monetizing the flag is the most American thing of all.  How patriotic.

I have to admit here that I am something of a coward,  I was at the Bronco run Sunday morning hanging out with Bud while Kathie and Janet ran.  When some young lady started singing the anthem, Bud immediately stood, hand on heart.  I stood as well.  It was reflex, but mostly I didn't want to make Bud mad.  At baseball games, I will stand because I don't want to ruin the whole thing. But I always feel like a jerk.  The flag isn't what it once was.

Our flag flies over detention camps where families are systematically ripped apart.  Our flag flies over an Environmental Protection Agency that is systematically removing those protections.  Our flag flaps in the wind on presidential motorcades to tax payer funded campaign events where the President lies with every utterance.  Our flag flies over the killing fields that we call public schools because the elected representatives sitting under that same flag in Congress do nothing but rake in campaign contributions from the NRA, from Winchester, from Smith and Wesson, etc.  Our flag flies over botched wars in all parts of the world.  Our flag flies over the geo-political mess we have left behind in Central America and the Mid-East.

Of course, our flag also makes appearance in less fraught situations.  It flies over school assemblies, games, marching band contests, and the like.  It flies over baseball stadiums, boxing matches, horse races, and yes, football games.  And I see it flying over the Audi dealer across the street from the Y where I work out every morning (most every morning).  

And, once again, when I stand for a flag that does all that, I feel like a coward.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Eponymous Physicians

There is an advertisement on a bus stop bench I see every day on the way back from the Y.  Under the picture of a dentist it says Dr. Don Tooth, a dentist for children.  The sign has bothered me for years. I mean, there are so many questions.

Was this guy born with that surname?  Maybe he was originally named Don Dentifrice and he decided to change his name for professional reasons.

If Tooth is, in fact, his surname, did that compel him to choose a career in dentistry?  Does he come from a long line of dentists?  Do they have a scholarship in their name (The Tooth Scholarship) at some local school of dentistry?

Does the guy dress up as a tooth when he gets a new client in his chair.  I think it would have terrified Franny if Dr. Arendt had dressed up as a bicuspid.  It also would have made me think twice about walking into his office.

There are many things I refuse to do.  Ordering any sandwich called a Yumbo or a Whaler is one.  Going to a dentist named Dr.Tooth is another.

I'm also a little afraid that other physicians will see Dr. Tooth's ad and follow suit.  The possibilities are horrifying.

Dr. Rick Rectum coming from a long line of proctologists is ready to listen to you. He changed his last name from Anus for professional reasons.

Dr. Vance Vulva ready and willing to fill all your gynecological needs.  I can see the bus bench ad now, adorned with a Georgia O'Keefe-like drawing of a thinly disguised flower petal.

I would encourage everyone to avoid eponymously named doctors.  Their waiting rooms are bound to be just too damned cute.

Monday, August 6, 2018

We've Come Full Circle

Going to Regis in Northwest Denver did not put me in ideal position to be a political activist in the late '60s.  I started observing student unrest when I was in high school.  I continued to observe when I was in college.  The closest I got to actually doing something, other than the day I went out and bought a pair of tie-dyed jeans, was being instrumental in putting the first 3.2 bar on a college campus in Colorado.  We called the bar Beliel, after the devil in Paradise Lost in nominal charge of drunkenness, and put it where the pool hall used to be.  It wasn't as cutting edge as the students protesting outside of Sproul Hall, but for Regis it was tres avant garde.

Mostly, I did my observing from the confines of my English and Theology classrooms.  And during that time, I learned that if you want to get people to move nearer to your side of things, you should make your starting position so extreme that they'll have to get closer just to understand you.  Picture Langston Hughes, large, black, caped, imposing, standing on a stage in front of a largely white college audience hissing menacingly the last line of "A Dream Deferred."  "Or does it explode?"  Or Abbie Hoffman indulging in some street theater designed to blow minds.  Or James Baldwin in NOTES OF A NATIVE SON chanting,
"God gave Noah the rainbow sign.
No more water.
Fire next time."

The world did change and all that posturing helped speed up the inevitable.

But there was an underlying premise to all that activism, the idea that those holding different views were open to arguments, thus making it possible for minds and opinions to change.  And the premise seemed to hold true.  Opinions, if not outright changed, at least were modified.  The center held.

I don't see that happening again.  Outlandish positions, instead of forcing compromise, are the norm and are countered with equally outlandish opposing positions.  What is left of the center is quickly disintegrating.  

Here is kind of a nice case in point, nonetheless maddening.  At the gun control rally in downtown Denver yesterday, both sides of the issue were represented, but instead of getting into loud confrontations, everyone was encouraged to seek out someone from the other side and simply talk to one another, trying to find some common ground.  Kind of refreshing huh?  Of course, this rally was organized by high school kids, so it was bound to be more adult than anything organized by aging partisans.  At the end, folks from both sides were surprised at how much they had in common.  One lifelong NRA member actually discovered that the gun control movement was not really intent on taking ALL guns away from everyone.  Others were happy to learn that most NRA members would welcome longer waiting periods, stronger background checks, and keeping guns away from people with mental illness.

The problem is that those partisans holding the extreme-take-no-prisoners-positions are the ones making the most noise (read:  Hannity, Limbaugh, LaPierre, Fox and Friends).  Unless you are willing to do the work necessary to weed out fact from fiction, the extreme positions are the first ones you hear in the  morning and the last ones you hear at night.  

These messengers are not attempting to understand the other side.  Instead, they are attempting to paint the other side's position in the same extreme colors.  For example, since Republicans see no future in running on their tax giveaway to corporations, they have decided to make Nancy Pelosi a focus of their midterm campaigns.  In at least one swing state, their attacks on a young Democrat running for Congress center around a connection to Pelosi, who, the attack states, voted to cut 80 billion dollars from Medicaid/Medicare.  Of course they fail to mention that it is Pelosi's vote for Obamacare they are referencing.  That strikes me as fundamentally dishonest and polarizing, something that drives people away from the middle.  And for at least 45 percent of the population, it seems to work.

In my lifetime, we have gone from little girls in white pinafores and patent leather shoes being led to their classrooms by federal marshals while crowds of screaming, red-faced white racist stereotypes stood by with clenched fists, to a changing of attitudes that led to ground breaking civil rights legislation, to now, crowds of of screaming, red-faced white surpremacists seeking out immigrants to terrorize.  

We've come full circle in less than seventy years.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Moving Finger

The Moving Finger writes and having writ
Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all your tears wash out a word of it.

We went to a memorial get together for Gerry Oehm yesterday.  It was at Pinehurst, right across the street from Gerry and Pat's place.  I remember a clambake at Gerry's house twenty some years ago.  Gerry spent many a happy morning and lunchtime in the lounge planning this little party.  I know.  Kathie and I figured into the planning.  The Clambake Company (or something like that) was directly across Pearl Street from the Vogue Theater where Nate was performing with In Vogue (They were really good.).  We let Gerry know about the place and the party evolved from there.

Gerry and Pat (of course) were there.  Ken and Dana Weaver.  Dale and Carol  Bartkus.  Bud and Janet.  Barb and Mike.  Cindy and Jerry.  I even think Larry and Charlene, our nextdoor neighbors, were there.  I'm not sure if that list is complete or accurate, but it sounds about right.

We started with an oyster bar while the clambake folks put lobsters and clams and the works on the grill and we all gathered around a giant table and ate and drank and talked to our hearts' content.  Afterwards, we all moved on to Fiddler's Green where there was some kind of New Orleans festival going on.  Laissez bon temps roulez, or words to that effect.

I've been thinking a lot about good times like that lately.  It's been a big year for deaths in our Green Mountain family.  Ken Weaver died a little over a year ago and we all gathered together at his funeral and caught up on how we were all doing.  Dale Bartkus was next and we all gathered around at his memorial party and caught up on how we were all doing.  Ken Boerner also died quite recently, a fact that caught a lot of us unaware.  And now there's Gerry.  There we all were once again catching up on what we were all doing.

I'm not trying to be maudlin here, but the increasing frequency of these get togethers around a dear friend's death is hard to ignore.  Dale More was there at Pinehurst.  Cindy and Jerry.  Ruth Meyer and Glenda Adams.  Sue McNamee.  Sue and Gary Hurelle. Sara Nesmith.  Faith and Ellie and Fabian and Mick.  Denny Shepherd, who keeps looking thinner and healthier every time I see him.  Orval stood up to the microphone and paid Gerry a lovely tribute. Joe Latino always manages to emerge on these occasions and there he was again acting like an administrator and touching tables.  He even told me that I was a good teacher.  Kathie too.  Hey, thanks Joe.

I think Gerry would have liked the reception.  He loved parties and standing around and talking with a glass of cheap scotch in his hand.  I went over to the bar and ordered their cheapest scotch on the rocks as a kind of tribute.  The cheapest stuff they had was red label, but I ordered a double in honor of Gerry.

We didn't have a lot in common.  I mean he was a math whiz for god's sake; I barely know my times tables, but I could always write better controlling statements than he could.  Since he taught Calculus and I taught AP Literature, we had a lot of the same students.  They came into my classroom after Gerry with dazed looks on their faces.  I did my best to make sure they walked out of my classroom and into his with those same looks.  We put those kids through a heuristic mill and they were the better for it.  So were we.

We had a love of food and wine and drink in common.  We both had a lot of worthless trivia stored in our brains.  We both told good stories.  We became good enough friends that Katherine and I started getting invited to Math Department parties.  We always had a good time; of course, when they pulled out the flash cards and things started getting wild, we beat a fast retreat.

In high school, I discovered, Gerry had a kind of club loosely gathered together because they all loved Omar Khayyam.  Go figure.  It was the same with me.  My mother gave me a copy of The Rubaiyyat and I was hooked.  I didn't have a club of similar enthusiasts.  I guess I wasn't as charismatic as Gerry back in those days.  But Gerry and I could quote Omar back and forth to each other.  How many math and language arts teachers do you know who could do that?

The quatrain at the top of this piece is my second favorite poem in The Rubaiyyat.  It seems appropriate at this time and it is so much more articulate than simply saying "It is what it is."  When I think of all my friends whose funerals and receptions I have attended of late, I think of that poem.

I'm going to end this with my favorite quatrain.  It isn't some false bromide to make us all feel better.  No, it is simply a clever statement that makes you smile in spite of its message.  Gerry would have liked that.

'Tis all a chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the closet lays.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Jenny Lake Sonnets

I only read one book at Jenny this year.  I usually read three.  Instead of reading by the fire each morning, I decided to write Elizabethan Sonnets.  I know that sounds a little strange, but I'm kind of frozen on a project and I thought the poetry would help me thaw.  One gentleman who got up as early as I did sat next to me by the fire and asked if I was keeping a journal.  "Nope.  Just writing Elizabethan Sonnets."  I can't quite describe the look on his face, but he did move shortly thereafter.  I can't say I blame him.  Anyway, here are my sonnets.  I know it looks pretentious, but I have numbered them.  One of these days when I am discovered, my first poem will not be called "Mountain Ranges," but Sonnet 1.


An inconvenient clump of lodgepole pines
Sits between my cabin and my view.
These trees are straight and tall and fine.
I've seen them grow for twenty years plus two.

At first they reached just barely to my knees.
Mount Rockchuck rose majestically above.
Later they rose up to my chest, all three,
Rockchuck still on display to see and love.

And now they must be twenty feet in height.
The saddle to Saint John's is all I see
And if I really crane, I almost might
Spot a peak behind the middle tree.

I love to look at mountain ranges
Because the view it always changes.

5 July 2018


The path from Bluebell zig zags to the lodge,
A trail of asphalt lined with buckwheat blooms.
And bears are there you sometimes have to dodge
At night when guests walk to their rooms.

We had a bear who walked up to our place.
He nosed around our kayak and lumbered by.
"Get my drink," to Katherine I explained.
"My gin and tonic is something he might try."

There've been others, but that one was the best.
Like every sighting, it took my breath away.
All they really want to do is rest
And munch on nuts and berries every day.

A bear just makes our trip complete,
Another one of Nature's treats.

6 July 2018


A hearth of stone sits on the southern wall
While banks of windows to the right look west.
Through them Mount Owen and The Grand stand tall.
There've been years when both in snow are dressed.

A dusty moose head sits above the fire,
His antlers graced by fourteen jagged tips.
Those glassy eyes stare out; they never tire.
They grant approval to all the hiking trips.

A giant tree stump standing three feet high
Looks like it's been there since the place first started.
I prop my feet and sit back with a sigh,
The center of this circle so full hearted.

A roaring fire completes the picture.
The whole room makes a perfect mixture.

6 July 2018


I think I've heard that aspen groves are one.
One thing, I mean, the roots all twined of course.
And as one thing this tree is never done
Spreading itself in streams from one core source.

I'd like to say that families work like groves
And grow as one just like those aspen trees,
Clinging to those roots, yet on the move.
Most families are not similar to these.

The aspen in this place are all connected
And among the oldest things on earth,
So even if my science gets corrected,
My clumsy simile stands on solid turf.

These aspen trees are always there
With life that's spreading out to share.

7 July 2018


Sixteen years ago we got a tree,
A gift from management to new arrivals.
One of those few things we got for free,
We were to plant it for some green revival.

The planting of the tree wasn't really green.
Sure, it fulfilled eco-sureties
And all those liberal voices in between
To pacify those people who hug trees.

In sixteen years it's barely three feet tall.
Every day I water it with care
And still it struggles to rise up strong and tall.
It's clear the other guests don't do their share.

The tree will rise above my head,
But by then I'll be long dead.

7 July 2018


The guests walk to the fire and warm their hands.
Some grab a cup of coffee or some tea
And talk together sharing this day's plans:
A drive, a ride, a hike among the trees.

They lead us to our tables one by one
While servers greet each party with a smile.
Outside, each morn The Grand reflects the sun.
The pinkish light will linger there awhile.

The waiters always serve the food with pride
And always bring you anything you want.
One suggests a hike you haven't tried
And offers warnings of ones that you should shun.

It's time to clear the breakfast dishes;
This day's already filled our wishes.

8 July 2018


There are two deer that root among our aspen.
Ruminants must like that kind of fare,
The skinny one with ribs almost misshapen
And the other one, well fed with shaggy hair.

They each appear again when lunch time nears.
It's almost like they're trained to nibble thus.
Because there are few predators to fear,
They munch around our porch with placid trust.

Sometimes they smell a bear and then they freeze,
Their heads jerk up, they sniff the air and run.
They go and hide among the quaking trees
Then re-emerge to bask in morning sun.

Those deer are like the lodge's own
And for the place they set the tone.

9 July 2018


The clouds in Santa Fe are thunder beings;
The ones above The Tetons not so much.
They build up in the north all filled with meanings.
There's always one that looks like such and such.

But then they nestle up into the mountains.
From there there's only two ways they can go:
They can gather up and spew down rain in fountains,
Or peter out to let the blue skies show.

The clouds are born in higher elevations
And you can see them as you're hiking through.
They coalesce the day's precipitation
Into wispy bits that form as something new.

Still, I miss the thunder beings.
They give weight to wispy feelings.

9 July 2018


Our bug repellant doesn't work on flies
And once those deer flies latch onto your skin,
They stick like glue no matter how you try
To swat them off; they stay through thick and thin.

We killed a fly and left him to the bugs,
Big and black and smashed with yellow oozing.
The ants they dragged him off with mighty tugs
And hid him in a place of their own choosing.

That was the end of that fly's occupation
To flit around and fly into your face.
That is, of course, a fly's most natural situation.
All those genetic strands you can't erase.

The fly he tries to do his best,
But still at heart he's just a pest.

9 July 2018


Mount Rockchuck sits majestically above
And then Saint John's fills up the western sky.
It's a view I see each day and dearly love.
The wonder is that such a scene's nearby.

The slopes are filled with little mountain streams
And near the top Lake Solitude appears.
It's a happy vision in my dreams;
In the flesh it makes me come to tears.

We paddled up a little mountain stream one day.
In less than twenty yards we changed our minds.
Our boat was flipped; our gear was washed away.
Nature's awesome power is seldom kind.

We gathered up our soggy stuff.
For that day, we said "Enough."

10 July 2018


There are two rides a day at Jenny Lake.
The first one goes promptly off by ten o'clock.
It often takes the trail to Hidden Falls
Which at the end requires a little walk.

The best part of the ride is coming home.
You have to ford the rapid String Lake drainage.
Sometimes your ride will balk and start to roam,
But if you show the horse who's boss, you'll manage.

Once past the creek, the horses sense the end.
They shake the reins and break into a trot
And then the whinnies come from all their friends.
If they could, they all would fairly shout.

You know, in this state's western way
Horses have the right of way.

10 July 2018


A hawk swooped down one shining summer day.
He flew between the posts on Bluebell's awning,
Deftly grabbed a squirrel, and flew away.
The spectacle was something more than stunning.

And once we saw an eagle on the shore.
He had a fish that he was calmly stripping.
In terms of eagle sightings, we've had more.
Skip a line, you'll find one rather gripping.

On Leigh Lake once two eagles they played tag.
We stopped and watched as to the sky they raced
And then at once their talons seemed to snag.
They twirled to the ground in that embrace.

We never thought we'd be so lucky
As to see two eagles fucking.

10 July 2018


Emma Matilda Lake's our hike this morning.
The southern side is wet and full of weeds.
Bears might appear with hardly any warning.
No need to fear, it's berries that they need.

Then at the tip the world opens wide
And wild flowers fill the southern shore,
Delphiniums and lupine side by side,
Purple flax, tall buckwheat, and there's more.

There's Mount Moran filling up the west
And it's all framed by stately lodgepole pines.
At last the one track trail winds to our rest.
The bar at Jackson Lake is on our minds.

All hikes should end with Margaritas.
Sometimes you'll find there's nothing sweeter.

11 July 2018


Yesterday, two girls were cabin shopping.
That happens all the time at Jenny Lake.
They stood outside our cabin truly hoping
Ours could be the one that they would take.

We told them they should hope for something other.
Through summer months Bluebell's booked up solid.
For primo cabins you need not even bother.
Our indifference to your wish is fairly stolid.

Try for Harebell, even Wild Daisy.
Huckleberry is another choice.
But Fireweed and Lupine, that's just crazy.
The long time guests would rise up in one voice.

The cabins here are all quite fine.
Just keep your hands off one that's mine.

11 July 2018


Opus One was absent on the menu,
So we bought one down at Dornan's yesterday.
We'll use it for our last night's fond adieu,
A heartfelt toast before we go away.

We'll uncork the thing and gladly pass out sips
And slurp the wine and give out knowing looks.
At the end we'll give out massive tips,
Not just to waiters but to the team of cooks.

On that night we'll sit at number thirteen.
We'll have that perfect table to ourselves
And drink that gorgeous wine like it was routine,
As if there's more at home upon our shelves.

When everything is said and done
I'd like to drink an Opus One.

12 July 2018


Today we're going down to Spaulding Bay
To launch our kayak there on Jackson Lake.
It's where all the locals go to play.
The four wheel road provides a test for brakes.

We paddle up the shore toward Mount Moran
Past Dead Man's Island and stands of lodgepole pines.
We love to stop at Bear Paw and just stand.
To stretch our legs is all we have in mind.

We sling around a rock in Moran Bay
And follow in the wake of where we came.
We'll save the eagles for some other day.
Trips on Jackson Lake are not the same.

And then we drive to Jenny Lake;
It's a trip we love to take.

13 July 2018


When Katherine carries ice back to our cabin,
I like to watch her progress down the path.
She's dressed in shorts and has her yellow hat on
And sports a cut off tee she got at Katz.

She's more than happy striding through the woods.
Her head is either on a wary swivel,
Or focused on that day's should nots and shoulds.
She isn't one to waste her time on drivel.

The folks she passes get a cheerful greeting.
She stops to watch a yarrow grazing deer
As if it's just another lucky meeting.
In Katherine's wake she always leaves good cheer.

Life with her has been a joy;
I surely am one lucky boy.

14 July 2018


Our back pack bladders hang from trees like balls.
That's how I dry them out after a hike.
I stash the sticks against some random wall.
As for the rest?  I put it where I like.

And then we sit down on the porch at last
To rid ourselves of dusty socks and boots.
With two drinks we end our hiking fast.
As for my diet, I just don't give two hoots.

In a while we trade off in the shower
And think of what we'll wear for that night's fare.
The second seating starts in just an hour.
We wander in the lodge with time to spare.

Another day at Jenny's done.
I hope tomorrow's just as fun.

14 July 2018


There's three days left, our trip is almost done.
It's the time in every stay to decompress.
Hanging at the lodge can still be fun.
We've hiked and kayaked; it's time to take a rest.

We have to go to Dornan's for some gifts
For all those who made our weeks so fine.
Like Tony for the morning logs he hefts
And Rachel too, they both deserve some wine.

For Mr. Friend, another fifth of gin.
Add fifty bucks for Andrew's fire dance.
And since Maria cleans our place, we win.
She'll get some cash when e'er we get the chance.

When Wednesday morning rolls around,
We'll sadly head back to our town,

15 July 2018


A bunch of flowers hangs outside our door.
They're in a papered pot with built-in hook.
You'll find them all on sale in grocery stores
In the aisle right next to where they sell the books.

Petunias!  Are you really being serious?
Do you really think that they're indigenous?
The reason why you chose them's not mysterious.
Pretty, but in The Tetons not contiguous.

The pot gets watered two times every day
And after that the thirsty flowers brighten.
Out of place, but pretty anyway,
The flowers chase the sun and surely lighten.

Petunias next to aspen trees!
The only word that fits is "Please!"

15 July 2018


We drove the tree lined road up Signal Mountain.
The last time we were there the trees looked sick,
But now the sickly trees are stacked like fountains
In pyramids of beetle-ravaged sticks.

Now in their place are healthy looking trees.
The ugly beetle blight has disappeared.
A healthy forest rustles in the breeze.
The mountainside's not brown as we had feared.

They cull the dying trees and stack them all,
Then douse them with obnoxious sounding potions
Which help them start to decompose in Fall.
The folks in my state need to learn this notion.

The beetle kill is on the run;
There's still more work that must be done.

16 July 2018


The squirrel that has been ravaging our ceiling
Refuses to give way to normal measures.
The building engineers are simply reeling.
As for the squirrel, it's only nuts he treasures.

It could be worse; instead of squirrels there's bats.
They seem to congregate near Lupine every night.
That's why at nights we like to wear our hats.
Bats nibbling at my ears gives me a fright.

The mitigation team has come and gone.
They say the squirrel shouldn't be an issue.
Those cheeps and scratches are just his harmless song.
But squirrel, when you're gone we will not miss you.

In a forest you'll have such critters.
I have heard they're born in litters.

17 July 2018


The trip back home is always bitter sweet.
The car's all packed and one more meal's in store.
We'll eat our breakfast and sadly hit the street.
It's time to go; we can't do any more.

Like always, Jim has made our bloody marys.
The folks behind the desk have done our bill.
To look at it is always rather scary,
But still, of fun and joy we've had our fill.

Tomorrow morning we'll wake up at our home.
We'll jump into our own familiar shower.
Then we'll call the kids up on the phone
And spend a quiet day in our sweet bower.

Our Teton trip is at an end.
The next poem from my home I'll send.

18 July 2018


Monday, June 11, 2018


Our trip to Jackson Hole is nearly here
In just three weeks, some twenty days from now.
I feel the same each time the date grows near,
Convinced I'll plod up all those trails somehow.

It's time to stack up all our clothes to take
And check our gear for any last repairs.
We'll test our paddles just for safety's sake
And fill our water packs to check for tears.

On hikes the main concern is my old age.
There's nineteen switchbacks on just one hike alone!
Once at the top, my tired legs will rage.
Lately, I have lost all muscle tone.

We walked one hundred miles one year,
But that was long ago, I fear.

11 June 2018

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


The garbage truck comes by at 6 a.m.
But not each day, just on Tuesday mornings.
It has one driver and on the ground a man.
The sound it makes provides an ample warning.

So on those days, I jump right out of bed
To push the garbage barrel out on the street,
Then scan the paper for things I haven't read
And look around the kitchen for a treat.

If you eliminate the garbage rush,
The other days all have the same routine.
I'm up at 5 a.m., the house is hushed.
There's nothing in the place I haven't seen.

I love those quiet weekday dawns
When all I smell is dewy lawns.

22 May 2018