No. 24: Note to Self

I entered, I ran, I finished
I pondered, I doodled, I wrote

Out of 24 poems submitted
Maybe two are to my satisfaction

I wrote to complete the race
I didn't compose to complete me

Note to self: practice

No. 23: Solo

I enjoy the solitude of cross country driving
My first solo trip was from Arizona to Pennsylvania
I marveled at the variety of scenery
From the red volcanic stone of northern New Mexico
Into the nondescript panhandle of Texas
Then bursting into a scene of flowering trees
Alongside the interstate as I encountered
A whole new blooming country I'd never seen before
My senses were in constant amazement

I was alone with my thoughts when I wanted to think
Listened to my collection of cassettes when radio reception
Was nil or when only country music filled the air waves
Along with farmers' reports
I enjoyed the process of driving
The only times I 'got lost' when I was driving through
The cities not fully confident in following the signs

My next long solo trip was also from Arizona
But this time to Florida and the southern route
Took me through the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico
And the wide open skies of Texas but
I did not marvel until I crossed the border
Into Louisiana which led me to traverse the Ponchatrain bridge

Nothing but water on both sides of the wooden, logged passage
Passing vehicles of all sizes, being passed by vehicles
Of all sizes until the landscape changed to the skyline of
New Orleans - gray and gloomy in the day - did not compel
Me to want to explore
I was just anxious to get to my last night in a motel in

That was the last cross country trip I made on four wheels

No. 22: A Summer with Dad

My favorite photograph of Dad is one taken
At the Los Angeles Zoo
It was a warm summer day and we took a break
After queueing up to see the pandas loaned
To the zoo by the government of China

Dad is dressed comfortably in slacks
And a loose fitting pointed collar 
Short sleeve shirt
He is perched casually on a large stone
Looking into the camera

I spent several weeks with Dad during that summer
I followed him as he went about his daily routine
(We both appreciated having a schedule)
Morning coffee, newspaper
Listening to the radio (He bought me my first radio when I was 13)

Lunch time was at the Golden Dragon restaurant in Chinatown
We met with friends, drank tea, and sampled dim sum
Then it was onto his friend who had a hair salon
(She cut his hair when needed)
I listened as they chatted in Cantonese

Afterwards he'd cross the street to where his
Life time association - Ying On - had their headquarters
It was a smoke-filled gathering place filled with
Cantonese friends, watching TV, laughing, and playing
Cards, mahjong, and other card games

Toward dinner time a local chef came to the club
And put together a three-course Cantonese meal
For which members paid $2 or $3
Dad got his meal free because of his age
And long-time membership

I learned Dad was a Los Angeles Dodger fan
And learned all about them more than I ever knew
I wanted to know but it was fascinating as he
Could relate statistics, talk about the players
And listened to Vince Scully call the game

I know there was a lot more to Dad
But I was too shy to ask and he never offered
To tell me his story
But that summer I certainly enjoyed
Being with him

I miss him still

No. 21: A Successful Day

Some people feel they have to be
Regaled and entertained on a daily basis
Life is boring without some challenge or excitement
To get their adrenaline flowing or hold their interest

I prefer the mundane comfort of my
Daily routine knowing what to expect
Completing tasks - or not - and
Not worrying about the consequences

I am delighted and surprised
When such mundane efforts are achieved
And to know that this day
Has been a complete success

No. 20: Keyboardist

Keyboards are the
Basis of my
Life's working existence

Not the musical
Ones with ivory
And ebony keys

But the typewriter
Qwerty I learned
At age 12

And have mastered
Over decades of
Plucking out documents

On Smith Coronas
IBM electric Selectrics
Xerox word processors

And now I'm
Down to keyboards
Attached to computers

I really love
To tap away
At the keys

To watch words
I've thought up
Appear on screen

It's a process
I never tire
Of even today

Tap tap tap

No. 19: Ready or Not, Here I Am

I think about the person
I have become and wonder why
I am at all like I am
What or whom directed, effected
My very being to walk in the
Direction that I have taken
Over the years of my life
My path has intersected many
Who have influenced me in
One way or another before I
Moved on to another way station
Carting my baggage from place to place
Treasuring some snippet I gleaned
From the previous stops wondering
What secrets of life lie ahead
Ready to be embraced by myself

I am ready

No. 18: Writer’s Block

Paper, pen, ink
I'm ready to write
But where are those thoughts
I want to preserve on paper

Clean white sheet
Of paper covered in
Doodles as I wait for
Perfect words to fill my mind

Crumple up doodles
Select another clean sheet
Think think about the words
Another sheet covered in squiggly lines

Paper, pen, ink
Eventually come together while
Thoughts and words flow seamlessly
Pen skates effortlessly across the page

I look up
To see crumpled sheets
Scattered about me and then
One page of words written down

It's a start

No. 17: Scenes From Days Gone By

My babyhood firsts were noted by
My mother who wrote them down in a book
That I don't have access to
I can imagine they were first teeth,
First smile, first illness, first walk

My first remembrances don't go back that far
I have a vivid scene in my head of
My younger sister running, tripping, and falling
Head first on a meter, blood pouring from a pock-like wound
Her scream is what I remember the most

Such memories are part and parcel of family life
Me falling off my bike, fracturing my wrist
My oldest brother burning his feet in a ditch full of embers
The youngest brother throwing himself head long
Onto the concrete floor and not crying

One of my fondest memories is of me
Lying in bed at night, Mom turning the radio on
So I could listen to the likes of the Lone Ranger,
Amos and Andy, and Arthur Godfrey
Many of these shows migrated to television

I spent hours on Saturday mornings
Eating my breakfast of some cereal
And reading the cereal box's back and side panels
That's when there was something worth reading
On the box besides lists of mysterious ingredients

No. 16: Look Up

Cottony puff balls of vapor
Scudding across a blue sky
Roiling and rolling into shapes
As the atmospheric winds push them along

Who hasn't, as a child, lain on the grass
Looking up and imagining seeing something
Where it shouldn't be
Competing with siblings and friends to find it first

I can no longer look up without getting dizzy
And I'm certainly not going to lie on my back in the grass
As I get itchy from just the thought,
But I do look for different signs

What is the weather going to be like
Are the contrails made by cirrus clouds
Or the vapor of jets high above
Those are my concerns of today

Now and then I think I should take the time
To look upward - keeping my balance by sitting
In a lawn chair - to see if I can see
The imaginings of my inner child

No. 15: A Race of Paradox

Ancient humans were a paradox of
Genius, intellect, cruelty, and depravity

Astounding feats of engineering and construction
Were all achieved on the backs of slaves

Closer to home the industrial revolution
Created machines to make life easier progressive

Steam engines, flying wings, automobiles
Achieved their peak as instruments of war

Humans take the best of inventions for humankind
Pervert it for the worst against the same

This still holds true for our time as technology is used
To hack our vulnerable systems -- just because "they" can

We humans, no matter, our good intentions
Cannot help but sully a decent thing
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