Hour five Yosemite Great and Small

05 2017 a special place

Great and Small
by Paul Robert Sanford

Green and gray and foamy white and brown and black.
Great pillars of granite,
polished smooth by glaciers and weather
Tall waterfalls pouring into the valley below.
Tall trees sheltering campsites,
Brown bears darker than the dirt we walk on.
Black bears the color of the paved roads.

Millions of people visit each year,
arriving in tour buses or riding buses.

Time was Dad could drive right up to the museum
find a parking place
I would go in and stare at the model of the park
tiny waterfalls and plaster painted gray for cliff faces.
But out in the real park the smog from vehicles built up
So now you park in lot and ride buses around the valley floor.

I remember seeing the grand vistas from many angles,
I also remember seeing tiny living things up close,
plunking rocks in river and streams,
shivering with cold on a hot day
from water just melted off a glacier.

When I could still walk miles without pain
we took off on backpacking trips from
Glacier Point, dropped off by supportive parents.

My family’s life was marked by Yosemite
and Yosemite by the years.
As we grew, more roads were paved,
bear boxes installed,
fooderies built where you could buy hamburgers at the price of sirloin.
The tiny stores replaced by emporiums
with equipment and souvenirs,
small items to linger over.

Dad took his children there,
I took my children there.
Through all these years we knew that version of home
would stand like pledges of eternity
Reminders of the slow pace of nature’s seasons
contrasted with the hurry of us small humans.

hour 4 Apple and Peanut Butter is a Basic Comfort Food

O4 2017 Poetry Marathon peanut butter and apple
prompt 4 stanza poem

Apple and Peanut Butter is a Basic Comfort Food.
by Paul Sanford

Apple and Peanut Butter is a basic comfort food.
Twist open the lid on the good stuff,
all peanuts with nothing added but a little salt.
The healthy stuff as in the old days
when I was around people who cared about such stuff.
Pour off the oil and put it in the refrigerator.
Apple and Peanut Butter is a basic comfort food.

Apple and Peanut Butter is a basic comfort food.
Choose a small apple,
one you can get your mouth around and bite.
These have a festive name, party or gala or Mardi Gras or whatever.
They look kinda pink and yellow, but if you look closely
they are a light golden green
with streaks of red in various tones,
giving it that party décor reflected in whatever the name is.
Apple and Peanut Butter is a basic comfort food.

Apple and Peanut Butter is a basic comfort food.
Some folks cut the apple into wedges,
scoop out the core and seeds
fill it with a scoop of peanut butter like a little boat.
It’s good for most folks, but seems like a lot of trouble
when what I want is a quick basic snack.
Something to eat any time of day or night.
Twist off the inedible stem,
turn the apple over to show the remains of the flower,
Apple and Peanut butter is a basic comfort food.

Apple and Peanut Butter is a basic comfort food.
Dig into the thick brown paste in the jar.
(If it’s too thick, pour in a little oil to thin, and stir.)
You want a nice thick paste to stick to the apple.
Put a big dab of peanut butter on the bottom of the apple.
Take a bite.
The sweet wet apple mixes with the stiff paste
to make a crunchy and delicious mix of texture and flavor.
Add dabs of peanut paste and bite off chunks around the edges.
Eat the core and all. Don’t bite into the bitter seeds.
If ate 400 apples and ground the seeds fine you would have a lethal dose of cyanide.
Pop the last bite into your mouth.
If you have a mustache you can taste peanut butter all day long,
and inside your mouth it sticks to your teeth for continued snacking.
Apple and Peanut Butter is a basic comfort food.

Hour three Once I Was a Home

03 2017 poetry marathon prompt: photo of derelict building in high desert, snow and tumbleweeds.

Once I Was a Home
by Paul Robert Sanford

I’m not from around here.
All there is to build with here is sandy dirt and scrub brush.
Every board and nail and roll of tar paper had to be trucked in
so I could stand out in the sere landscape,
a monument to civilization and comfort.

I know who lived here.
They had coffee in the morning and sometimes raised their eyes to gaze at the mountains.
Not a lot to do here but mountain gazing and walks under the open sky.
That’s okay. I was shelter for a quiet life.

Not that there wasn’t always something to putter around and take care of.
The fine grit swept in with the wind and on shoes and had to be swept out.
Wind blew the tar paper loose and it had to be tacked back in place.
The roof was too flat to shed all the snow, and once in a few years needed to be shoveled off.

Eventually the last house before the miles before the mountains
is a hard place to live in,
especially when you are alone and older.
The winters seem colder,
and the garbage molders before being carted out.
the place gets a lived in feel, surrounded by half mended projects,
windows begin to stick open or shut,
coffee doesn’t satisfy as well.

I remember an illness, an injury, a time laid up in bed,
when anxious kin folks rolled up on off road vehicles,
notified by the local storekeeper that it had been a long time since.
Arguments, sulking, demands and refusals.
Cycles of negotiations and calm followed by alarms and visits.

Sooner or later a person lacks the strength to keep the place up.
Sooner of later a person lacks the strength to argue or fight back.
The lowlanders win and I am empty and alone.

My only visitors stay long enough to bust out windows and throw trash about.
Soon enough I offer very little shelter beyond a bit of shade,
perhaps a windbreak if the wind comes from the right direction.

Once I was a home, but that time is forgotten now.
If it weren’t so much trouble, the lowlanders would probably tear me down.
Don’t worry, give me enough years and I will fall.
I don’t want to return where I came from.
I am home to stay.

Hour two yearnings “Another Day Another Night.”

02 2017 poetry marathon

prompt: yearnings

Another Day, Another Night
by Paul Sanford

I meet a lot of total strangers at the comedy open mics.
Most of them are fifty years younger than I am.

Last night I dragged my aged bones out across the toll bridge
the billion dollar monument to the ego of the architect
with its hundreds of custom made five sided light poles

The other performers were unfamiliar to me,
an unsorted gaggle of beginners, both serious and crazed.

One petite older woman – my age – spoke in poetic images
in an amusing way.
I couldn’t help noticing that she was attractive and eccentric.
Just my type.

I formulated a vague plan of meeting her,
even though she seemed guarded and lonely,
so I contrived to take the empty seat next to hers
while she was up and about.

A younger woman would have given me a smile and welcomed me,
the harmless grandfatherly figure,
but this pixie stared straight ahead,
careful to give no clue that she noticed me.

It was as awkward as riding on the school bus to Jr. Hi.

I am always surprised to find I still have yearnings to find a mate,
even though my indolent life and low energy elderly body do not attract flocks of admirers.

I long for the past decades in which I was ambitious,
impatient, snorting at the gate with a yearning to do all sorts of things.

Now my medication has all that craziness put away in moth balls,
and I sleep a lot.

Hour One August 5 Morning Dawns in Oakland California

01 2017 poetry marathon

August 5, 2017, morning dawns in Oakland
by Paul Robert Sanford

The lights are coming on in the tall buildings.
A few cars rush past on their way to wherever people go at dawn.
One dark charcoal colored SUV leads the way turning left onto 17th
headed for the cluster of tall buildings.
Red lights blink on the twin towers of the Federal Building.

Chill air drifts in the open window,
whispering pasts my bare legs.
Moist inside my heavy coat
I watch the dawn slip in,
the rheostat turned ups slowly
as the dark of night does its warm up exercises
for the blazing heat of noon.

The earliest buses blunder past
on their way to meet people starting their day.
A truck crosses an overpass at 14th street.
The gray web of sleep lifts from both the city
and my senses, but so slowly, so slowly.

Lights are on in the Federal Building now
scattered across its warm sandstone facade.
In DC it the work day started minutes ago
our government at work making conference calls
sending and acknowledging faxes,
kicking off the West Coast in the middle of the sleeping city.

Still no lights in any of the houses I can see.
Strange that there would be more bustle at midnight than at dawn
here on the edge of Uptown,
the crossing place between residential and the hard cold streets
where, on the other side of I980
the Greyh(o)und (B)US terminal shows its wounded sign
and the security guards wake the sidewalk sleepers.
Old highways converge at complex angles,
and tucked away are coffee shops and old dive bars,
trendy brave new little restaurants and refurbished clubs.
New construction of classy apartments with balconies,
maybe some condos, although those are usually upgrades of old apartments.

The olive drab jagged outlines of the conifers across Brush street
mark a line of nature fighting for its space in the city,
blending with the soft gray of the blurry sky.
As the second cement truck of the day rumbles past,
swirling its slurried load,
the broadleaf trees shine out with lighter colors against the conifers.
The growing light rounds out the shape of the evergreens.
The ivy at its foot is a ripple of shadow and color.

Across the freeway the trashy apartment building
proudly shows its gigantic graffiti letters
a short row of gabled vintage houses watches the mean streets over there
one is getting an upgrade as the pockets of poverty gentrify.
But still there are no lights in their windows
or in the windows of my neighbors across the street.

The traffic light is green for the cars that go rolling down brush.
A red hand stops pedestrians who have not been savvy enough
to push the button.
Nobody is walking on the sidewalk.
The liquor stores are closed,
the recycling centers have not opened.
The light changes and an elderly sedan growls awake on 18th
and mutters through the intersection.

They gray city poises and stretches,
preparing for the 2000 cars that will pass my house at rush hour,
stopping to growl and fret and check the time
when the light turns red,
the flow of traffic so thick nobody can get up to speed.
For now, even the single cars roll quietly past
headed somewhere to turn on the lights.

The daylight on the federal building has softly grown
to the point that I can no longer tell which windows are lit
and which are dark, because the contrast of dark and light has switched.

A fruit fly ambles about in the air around my face,
my legs are chilled, feet cold,
a ring of sweat forms under my thick heavy coat collar.
I taste the stale coffee in my mouth.
Time to dress and perform my morning ablutions,
start my own day.
My neighbors will have to wake up without my supervision.

Don’t count your urchicken before it hatches.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Are you forgetting not to count those chickens before they hatch?
The egg comes first, if you believe in evolution.
The proto-chicken laid an egg with a true chicken in it,
but it was not the first chicken until it hatched.
If it did not hatch, only the egg existed,
and only the egg with the first successful chicken counts-
if you are an evolutionist.
Just don’t crack that egg to make an omelet.
Fry no egg before its time or the process may leave the chicken out.

If, however, you are a creationist,
you count those chickens before they even lay their eggs.
The fist chicken was created,
without the special spices and herbs perhaps,
but with both dark and light meat,
ready for the plucking and the frying.
In its spare time it laid eggs that hatched
into scrumtious little potential fryers.
You still can’t count on those eggs hatching successfully,
but you can count the eggs.

testing the system again again

Postings from people perturbed how to put their poetry in the proper place.
nurturing a needless kneejerk nonsensical naddering
testing to test and test alone.

on facebook

People are determined to get it all wrong
on facebook. (facebook)
Nobody’s worried about coming on strong
on facebook (facebook
Hurry online and join the fray,
you can be an expert on anything today.
People will like you and like what you say,
on facebook.
You can be phony, you can be real
on facebook.
There’s losts of memes and quotes you can steal
on facebook.
forget all your troubles, forget all your cares,
common civility gets kicked down the stairs
it’s hyenas laughing and the growling of bears.
On facebook.
better than reality.

RAndom prompt from 2014 photo of natural tunnel through rock to another area
Rites of Passage

We go through the tunnel of initiation,
changed in the act of passage.
On on side the quiet garden of childhood
then the passage,
the rites of passage,
the initiation that changes us forever
and we emerge into the harsh sunlight of adulthood.

Getting ready for the big game…….

A warmup of sorts.
Lobbing the syllables over my cerebellum.
Throwing junk,
just looking for control.
Afraid to throw my heated stuff
for fear I would strain a simile
or sprain an analogy.

It makes it hard to have no catcher,
nobody to receive my efforts.
I find this solitary play
has limits.
If I tire this easily,
will I even be ready for the big game?