Sunday, May 24, 2020

Saturday Morning Haircut

I hated the iron stool, the black barber's drape,
And especially the buzzing, vibrating clippers
Who seemed to take great delight
Irritating the back of my scalp
Every Saturday morning.

The bare and cold black iron stool
Whined quietly with me,
But after a thousand hours
The hard, flat, iron, stool bit
The bones in my butt.
Dad's voice frowned, “Stay still.”

The clippers were mean,
Laughing at my miserly.
They sent electric charges
All the way down my back,
Down to my right thigh,
Making it want to wiggle off the stool.
Dad's voice smacked my ears, “Stay still!”

I was imprisoned on that iron witness stand,
With a black barber's drape
Covering every part of me,
From my top of my neck down
To the soles of my shoes.

I wished he had gone to work,
On his mailman route,
Delivering bills, and birthday cards.
Instead of making sure
Every single, tiny hair on my head
Was exactly the appropriate length.

I wished that he had never
Gone to barber school.

After the whole morning lay wasted
Along with my hair, on the floor,
My dad would take his silky, soft brush,
And whisk what little hair was left
Off my face, my neck, and the drape.

I wanted to go play,
To get away from the iron stool,
from the clippers.
But no!

Sweep up the hair and put the stool away.
Before you go out to play.”
Dad oiled his clippers,
Cleaned his brush,
Shook out his black barbers drape,
And folded it like he was still in the Navy.

The wind teased and licked
The back of my freshly shorn head
While I swept up my own hair
From around the cold black iron stool
Every Saturday morning.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Retablo Twisting Twirling Lessons

I didn't understand you, my dear retablo,
Dancing your magical, spiritual, love filled lessons
With your twirling, twisting, outstretching arms
Every morning at six. 

Four years I stared at your dance,
But I didn't yet speak your language.
I didn't know that each twirl, each saint, each leaf
Taught through each twirl, each twist,
Each outstretching of a hand or leaf.

Faithfully, I followed the rules the teachers in black cassocks,
and stiff white collars demanded.
I memorized their lessons while not understanding yours,
In your twirls, your swaying hips,
And your twisted, twirling sing song language.

I stared at your dance every morning at six
I inhaled the incense, sang songs of praise,
Folded my hands and prayed.
And still did not understand your twirling, twisting language.

You snaked your lessons around and around.
You danced and twirled louder and louder.
But I didn't hear your undulating, snaking language
That you danced for me every morning at six.

I stare now at a photo of your twisting snaking dance,
Frozen for four hundred years.
Again, I see your undulating, snaking
Twirls and swirls, and your outstretched arms.

Now each morning when I get up at six,
I rise and ride above twirling snakes
Along the river, under the snaking clouds
Who continue your lessons in a
Language I am almost old enough
To understand.

I love to dance and twirl throughout the day
With my undulating, snaking body
Re-interpreting the lessons
You tried to teach me
Every morning at six.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Shirt Off My Back

Let's go see a movie, Earl invites
over the phone.
What's playing?
Who cares! Mid-terms are over.
We need to celebrate!

I arrive on my motorcycle,
Earl in his car.
I can't remember what we watched;
But it is dark and cold
When we get out.

Earl takes off his long sleeve shirt.
He winks,
I am literally giving you the shirt off my back.
We laugh,
I put it on and we go our separate ways.

Twelve years later
I ask a nurse.
Is there a place I can take a shower?
I need to run my worry down.

She shakes her head.
Not here, not on this floor.
Go down to pediatrics
They have showers for parents.

The elevator door opens
I run to the first nurse I see
Can I take a shower here?

The Nurse turns.
Lindas eyes glow with joy filled recognition.
Mushroom! She hugs me.
What are you doing here?

I tell her our son is upstairs.
He's been hit by a Buick
While riding his motorcycle.
She gives me another hug
And leads me to the showers.

I didn't know Linda called Earl.
The next day, Earl walks in
To the trauma unit walking
Side by side with Linda.

I had to call him , Linda says.
You're his best friend.
He flew in this morning
from the east coast.

I hug Earl and cry,
What a good friend you are!
You really didnt have to come
All this way.

I had to come.
I'll do anything,
I'll even give you the shirt off my back,
Again, if you need it.

Now, they come to me with their grief,
They come tired, teary eyed, and cold,
Without their dead sons,
Without their dead daughters.

I sit and listen to their sad stories,
Even though I've heard them before.
I sit and wait without saying a word
When a lump in their throats chokes all their words.

I give them my heart
As we sit together and talk.
I give them my presence.
Because I am one of them,
I give them the shirt off my back.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Shed De Doe by Mushroom Montoya

Jeremy walks into my home office,
I look up, giving our son a receptive smile.
His eyebrows want to do battle
As they roll their shoulders toward each other.

His words punch his frustration,
I couldn't find it.
I already looked in the dictionary.
It makes no sense.

Our son is holding a book
Whose cover displays a bushy, white-haired,
Mustachioed, white man, Samuel Clemmons.
The title is Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Using his thumb to hold the page
Preventing the conundrum from falling out,
Jeremy opens the book
His eyes stomp on the letters.
It's spelled s h e d d e d o.

My hand opens, making its request.
His feet slog slowly, elephant style.
He points to his discontent, his frustration.

I gag my grin, quieting it for the moment.
"You can't speed read this Southern author.
It took him too long to say each word
In the sweltering heat of Hannibal, Missouri.

Pretend you are a poor, uneducated, Southern boy
Who just walked into a slaves home.
Its winter and bitterly cold.
What does the slave say to you?
Let his words drip out like molasses."

Jeremys eyes ask, what?
A deep inhale, a slow exhaust.
"Shed de doe.
It be code out dayah."
We both burst out laughing.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mom Loves To Scare Us

Mom Loves To Scare Us.

Denise scared me this morning.
As I ran up the stairs
She stood in wait
in the closet.

I jumped and then laughed 
And gave Denise a high five.
Denise is the mother our children.
Through her, my mother scared me this morning.

Our whole married life
We have copied this ritual
This hilarity my mother taught me:
Scare the bejeesus out of them
And then laugh.

My mom laughed when I fell.
She told me I did a great flip
Or she'd ask the table if I hurt it with my crash.
And then she'd laugh.

You don't need to suffer.
Look at the dog;
He bumps his head, shakes it off,
And continues to play.
And then she'd toss her head back and bark-laugh
Pretending to be a laughing dog.

She'd hide behind the couch,
Or the behind the curtain and wait
as we came in the door from school.
BOO! She'd jump out
And squelch our scream with her laughter.

When she wasn't laughing
She would listen to whomever
Or whatever was talking
She knew the plants could talk.

People told me what a good listener she was.
She was.
She listened with great interest
When I told her about my friends,
About what I did today.

She cried with me
When the police told me I couldn't
See my girlfriend
Because I looked like a Mexican

She stood beaming with pride
At the LA county Museum.
She giggled and pointed to my nude photo
Displayed on the Museum wall.
Take your clothes off so they know
It's you in the photo.

She had a magic side.
My mother knew somehow
When things were amiss,
Even 800 miles away.

She ran into the house
Her eyes pulling her to the phone.
George are you OK?
What? Florinda got hit by a bus, just now?”

How did she know those things?
I know those things now.
Although I don't know how,
But I know.

Our mom had a sneaky smile
That got my gut to vibrate,
Knowing she was up to something,
Always something to make us laugh.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Eccentric Authenticity

They tell me I’m eccentric.

Well, duh! says paint brush wielding Lola,
The most eccentric of my aunts,
As she paints flowery eyeballs onto skulls.

Why do you care?
They aren't your family
Tell em' to go to hell
If they don't like you.

We are all the same,
I've been taught.
I am a minority,
I've been designated.
I am weird and not like anyone they know,
I've been told.

I can shape shift and almost fit in
Wherever I am,
But I like being around the odd ones,
The weirdos who know
They are fine, delightfully fine
With themselves.

I found them Big Sur
When I hid under a mountain of pillows.
We danced while beating our drums
As the spirits took us to see
Coyotes and Pumas, who embraced us with love.

I know that I have a tribal connection,
And affection for those who vibrate
To the songs in our hearts
To the music that makes us dance
To the rhythms of our lives.

We went skinny-dipping in a mountain lake
And shivered our laughter
As we scrawled poems in the water
Of how Coyote gifted us with imagination.

My soul hears them
Flapping their winged flutes,
Tap dancing on their fluid drums.
Performing their symphony.

I heard one laughing in Sri Lanka,
Wearing an orange robe while perusing my warship.
He invited me to the market,
Where we shared smiles while eating lychee fruit.

When I meet my vibratory siblings
My heart swells as our eyes embrace.
We feel each other’s authenticity
Wrap around our shoulders
Like a heated blanket on a cold winter night.

I found them running nude up Tiger Mountain
Where we ended our race and listened
To the giant fir tell us how beautiful
Our unadorned bodies are.

My aunt Lola paints skirts on skeletons as she says,.
I like you best when you don't try to please me.
I love you when you are being
The best authentically eccentric you
You can be.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Peekaboo Pill Box

The blue plastic peekaboo pill boxes
Of my required medications
Tease me each morning while they
Reveal what needs to be ingested
To keep my body viable, today.

And incidentally,
The empty blue plastic peekaboo pill boxes
Tell what days are empty, 
Used up, consumed, and discarded
Into the maybe I'll remember bin.

It didn't use to be this way.
I used to know what time it was
By the position of the sun,
By the tugging of my stomach,
Whispering, feed me, when I was at the beach.

Even though I know what day it is,
According to the empty blue plastic peekaboo pill box,
I can't help but wonder who
Snuck in and stole all the days before.

I look in the mirror and see a body,
The same one I saw yesterday
But not the one I saw sixty years ago,
When I got out of bed on a lazy summer morn,
When there were no
Blue plastic peekaboo pill boxes
Waiting for me.

Now, I see my childhood friends
Who look like old people,
As old as my grandparents,
Wrinkled, grey haired, and slow,
With their own
Blue plastic peekaboo pill boxes
Teasing them in the morning.

Overgrown distorted freckles
Decorate my hands and arms.
Where did they come from?
Did they hop on my arms
Last summer on my hundred mile
Bike ride to San Diego?

When I was 12 I rode 12 miles to
Knotts Berry Farm and thought
That it took all day,
Because it did, back then, before
Empty blue plastic peekaboo pill boxes
Told me what day it was yesterday.

Who are these kids that call me grandpa?
Who want me to pick them up or
Who wrap themselves around my leg,
Sitting on my feet, laughing, and giggling,
While I carry them one leg lift at at time?

I wonder if one day they, too, will have
Empty blue plastic peekaboo pill boxes
Telling they what day was yesterday,
And giving them the wherewithal
To ride their bikes 100 miles to San Diego?