Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bee bee guns and bows and arrows

Still thinking about our visit to my Aunt's house in New Milford the other weekend. She couldn't talk fast enough jumping from one old story to another like a kid running across a stream briefly touching down on expose rocks. "Remember when your Uncle Harold broke your brother Richie's bee bee gun in half when he shot the bird?" "You mean the same uncle who gave us dangerous weapons for birthdays and Xmas like real bows and arrows just like Rambo used to wipe out Vietnam?"
I told her I remembered that story and Uncle Harold should have given Richie a medal--of course I was trying to get her riled up. "Uncle Harold shot a thousand birds". "Yes, but he always ate what he shot." I was thinking about the moral implications of that statement and how it could doom Quakerism, but decided it would be more fun just to cause trouble. It was summertime when kids released on parole from school try to destroy the natural world. We had a shiny brand new bee bee gun aching to spew destruction, but what to use it on? My brother leaned out of my second floor bedroom on South Chestnut Street in Beacon, N.Y. scanning for a victim. Nothing in our backyard, but over the fence of lilac bushes in the Nelson's domain was a birdbath with one thirsty bird perched on the rim.It was an impossible 30 yard shot on a windy day. "I need to adjust for the wind and being up so high" He pulled the trigger and and down went the bird face down in the birdbath. We knew we were in trouble because we had already put some bee bee holes in the Nelson's garage window and had to apologize and replace them. No fun getting picked up by the ears and dragged over to the Nelson's house by my mother. We had to make another apology to the kindly old Nelsons. Mrs.Nelson returned to singing while she pinned her dripping laundry suspended over the brilliant green grass oasis of their tiny kingdom. Mr. Nelson went back to listening to Red Barber narrate Yankee games on Sunday afternoons. My brother and I went back to playing wiffle ball on our side of the lilac fence pretending to be Mickey Mantle imaging how Red would say our names. Eventually, Uncle Harold took back the bee bee gun and broke it in half and we stopped receiving lethal weapons for presents. So the world became safer, but less fun--at least for thirsty robins in the summertime. A few years later Vietnam came along and the world turned a deaf ear to Uncle Harold's maxim for world peace.

Friday, April 13, 2012

new poem

I have not written anything new in a while. This emerged very quickly from a story I'm working on.
The Juggler

The juggler tosses sunrises and sunsets in the air
Sometimes reaching out his hand at the last possible moment
The children clap and scream shouting "more"
A birthday cake makes an appearance
The weary children drift away
The juggler packs up his sunrises and sunsets in a battered trunk
He walks away waving at the birthday girl
"See you next year", he whispers
She has strawberry frosting on her cheek

Friday, April 6, 2012

wearing my uncle's sweater

You've heard of last man standing. Karen and I are going visit the last aunt standing in Connecticut this Sunday. She will be 89 and lives on a mountain in New Milford that is modestly called Second Hill(First Hill must really be some mountain) The house is large and sits on 10 acres. My late Uncle Harold would not like the fact that he has neighbors now. He loved the wilderness, camping, fishing,hunting, firing ranges. For a year and a half while my mother finished up Chiropractic college in Iowa my brother and I lived with them. They had no children and all the other aunts and uncles did, so they were the logical choice and they would have been the logical choice of my brother and I. We learned to swim, roam the woods, work on houses he would build in the summertime. We also learned that people ate three meals a day actually sitting at a table together. They were a couple of opposites my aunt and uncle. She read movie mags and the National Enquirer-he read the Great Books and listened to opera and classical music. She was a Catholic who did and still does go to church every Sunday. He never went to church until late in life when he had a near death experience on the operating table. Then he began reading the Bible and posting signs in his workshop basement reminding him not to swear.He was what is called a man's man and I looked up to him because he was the closest I would get to having a real father. He taught us how to play chess and encouraged riding on toboggans down huge hills at a hundred miles an hour. He would buy me cheeseburgers for breakfast when we went to work and he stopped for coffee. I probably was a disappointment in that I almost strangled myself learning how to fish, I wouldn't fire a gun. I did go hunting with him and fishing on Long Island Sound and generally liked being with him. He died of cancer some years ago at home on the big mountain taken care of by my aunt. Shocking to see this larger than life figure reduced to skin and bones physically and mentally. I inherited the sweater my aunt made him. Heavy soft wool with pictures of wildlife. I was way to big to ever wear it. Now I'm small enough physically and mentally to put it on and keep it on.