Thursday, April 30, 2009


Cave was carved from crumbling rock,
inhabited by a seagull flock,
which chirped and squawked the day away,
mottled chicks would stretch and play.

Above this cave a gnarled tree
sat watching guard, solitarily,
it felt ashamed, neither green nor tall,
a stubby bush, not much at all.

No matter where the birds would roam,
always they could find cliff home,
for like a beacon, seen from sky,
shrub guided them while they did fly.

So everything does have a role,
be it star or simple mole,
no matter beauty or hidden skill,
we all must do what is God's will.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Over the past few years I have come to appreciate and sympathize with people who have dealt with addicted or mentally ill family members or spouses. The pain, the anger, the confusion. Although I wasn’t totally blindsided, because I always knew my wife had problems, I had no idea how serious it was. No doctor would tell me, either, citing privacy rules. But don’t you think individuals in the best position to help should be alerted to exactly what needs to be done and why, to keep an ill spouse stable? It took some good psychiatric counseling for me to have some understanding of my situation as my marital world spun out of control and crashed, and for me to deal with this tumultuous upheaval to my sons’ lives (as well as my role as what is called "co-dependent"). Yet, I keep asking myself, "What if I had done this?" or "Could I have done thinks differently to right things?" or "Why didn’t I see that?" I still feel guilt, sadness, and loss.
So when I saw psychologist Kay Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, I decided that I should read it to get a better understanding of bipolarism (manic-depression). It is an interesting book; some passages jarringly brought back incidents I experienced. . .unexplainable actions (ranging from spending sprees to explosions of anger), long periods of zoning out, lies, complaints, paranoia, refusal to take medications, spurts of odd activity, mounds of unwashed laundry, unfinished projects, etc. I was interested in how the disease could destroy relationships. One sentence stood out, as Jamison explained the end of her first marriage: "I was increasingly restless, irritable, and I craved excitement; all of a sudden, I found myself rebelling against the very things I most loved about my husband." I still recall with horror my wife saying I was too boring. The book put into good light many of the stories I heard (and were retold to me later from different perspectives).
Of course, Jamison was in a privileged position within the academic medical profession, with family, colleagues, and friends who were able to protect, help, and shield her from financial and professional disaster, a luxury most victims (is that the correct word?) do not have. I felt at times that she was saying, "Oh, look at me," that she still lead an exciting life, with romance and achievement. Isn’t she one of the exceptions? Having friends that could keep her form losing her jobs and professional privileges, having enough money to be able to take extended breaks, having family members with the financial wherewithal to clean up the mess and stabilize things (could this be jealousy on my part?). I think that if I learned one thing from the book, though, it is the importance of making absolutely sure that your loved one takes their medications, no matter what excuses, no matter what subterfuges they attempt. You have to keep on them, and if you are afflicted, you have to stay on those meds. And what I learned from my own counselors is that sometimes, you just have to move on.


Silver scales sink in emerald sea
remains of battle, survivors flee
like sunlit rain in forest silent
spiraling down, bottomward sent.

Hungry mouths do now not seek,
tasty flashes. . . the slow, the weak.
No markers note their quiet passing.
except filled bellies, now not fasting.

[I wrote this after watching a nature program on the sea, which featured a segments about tuna attacking a school of sardines.]


I stand upon an empty shore,
accursed and feeling low,
my feet sink into sandy floor
the result of undertow.

But heaviness is too at fault
my pain like a dark weight
into the sea I'd like to vault
maybe to be shark bait.

NO! I won't. . . I'd be a dolt,
to waste my lasting time
I'd miss my boys, so cannot bolt
to then become fish slime.

For now this beach I will enjoy
its sunset and warm waves
my boys will soon come to employ
their laughter that much saves.

I cannot wait to see them run
along this pristine patch,
to swim and dig and hunt in sun
for shells to quickly snatch.

My heart'll be light when this day is,
and boys will be with me
it shall be like a heaven bliss
and I'll cry as we watch the sea.

[I wrote this when my boys were gone in Florida and I was feeling sorry for myself.]


Flash of sword, girls with dolls,
he dances smart, I fear for falls,
His outfit's smart, he hits his spots,
stands out amongst the other tots.
The widest grin, his eyes aglow,
A party boy, grey mice in tow.
His role is short, but has a blast,
Happy he's dancing, back at last.


Found a strand of long black hair

wondered how it had gotten there,

caught in a blanket on the bed

as if it were itself a thread.

Pulled it out and wrapped it tight

around my finger, for the night.


I have decided to move some of my poems, ones I like, over from MySpace, since that site seems to be withering on the vine. I may fiddle with them a bit as well. So if you read a poem you already know, and say, "Man, this guy is getting really lazy," that is the reason! :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I took the boys, along with Tami and her son, Daniel (her husband is finishing up his officer's training out west; she is Joey's Webelos leader) to the Sparkleberry Fair out near Sandhills. It was pretty darn hot out there, probably well into the 90s, but at least there was some wind blowing most of the time, and I managed to sneak under tents and trees sufficiently enough to keep from broiling. I really felt sorry for the deputies, with their armor and black uniforms, as well as for anyone required to wear heavier clothing for their displays or activities. They do a nice job with this annual event, which helps raise money for the Richland Two school district, and who doesn't want to support that?

We got to watch some Native American dancing, which was enjoyable (although I was under the impression that they would be having a more broad exhibit, including teepees). Chimo kept asking if the Cheyenne were represented. The boys spent a lot of time at the Boy Scouts exhibit: playing games and chatting with the older boys. Joey and I played to a tie on the hockey game. They got their regular dose of jumping in the blow-up contraptions, though Joey did a little less of that than usual. The rides are pretty weak there, and expensive, so I avoid them like a plague. We made a quick visit to the greyhounds (my favorite). We watched skydivers and listened to a little music (drums, for instance), and then we visited the petting zoo. The most popular area there was the rabbit exhibt (though I found the highlight to be the humping rabbit, who did it in all the wrong positions, such as on top of the heads of his victims, much to the consternation, I'm sure, of the other rabbits---I guess the little guy was just too darn excited). I never did see the model railroad exhibit that was advertised. When we had had about enough of plants and crafts, and collecting a wide assortment of trinkets and promotional materials (such as frisbees and pencils), we went to McDonalds and let the boys play. When I finally got back home, the boys played with their friends on their scooters. Then, after their baths, we watched the rest of Beverley Hills Chihuahua, which was cute, and the boys quickly fell asleep when sent to bed.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Tried to get my sons interested in watching the acclaimed documentary Man on Wire, about Frenchman Phillipe Petit's 1974 walk on a wire strung between the as yet unfinished World Trade Towers. I thought it was pretty good, though possibly not worthy of the greatest accolades (though WTC sympathy vote may have played a role), as it was a notable highlight in the towers' existence. The boys managed to make it all the way through, but were bored. No doubt the switches in language may have hindered their enjoyment. I liked watching the clothes and hairdos, from my younger days. The guy surely had guts and was a bit cracked, if you ask me, but then I would have been petrified had I even been near the edge.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Last night Chimo was part of the Satchel Ford Elementary second-grade production: Food: The Opera. One of the delightful things about this school is its committment to the arts. The parents really support it. This year British conductor Nicholas Smith (formerly of the SC Philharmonic) served as guest artist-in-residence in helping put on this show. Chimo danced as a chicken, read poetry, played xylophone, and sang with the chorus. I loved him in his yellow-fringed shirt; his dancing style was definitely unique though, something akin to "dancing like an Egyptian," but he really seemed to be getting into it. I couldn't see him sing much, as I had a bad angle on the chorus (though I hope I can catch some in the dvd they are sending out), but he grinned widely while hammering out his tune, and then he hammed it up in his part of the on-stage poetry reading. Critic Joey was less impressed" "It is a bit kindergartenish, if you ask me. I liked the Wizard of Oz production better." Well, of course, cause he got to dance as the Scarecrow. He then went back to reading Diary of a Whimpy Kid. Despite this less-than-glowing critique, I thought the class did a wonderful, entertaining job. And I like that they were very conscious of famine and world hunger, and even sponsored a can drive for Harvest Hope Food Bank.

Monday, April 20, 2009


My father-in-law, Dennis Hansen, died just before this past weekend in Pageland, South Carolina. I found out about it yesterday. It is difficult to understand why, other than the normal feelings caused by the passing of any good soul, but his death indeed makes me very sad, in a personal way. He had been ill with an unusual deterioration of the brain lining (if I remember correctly) for quite some time; that does not lessen the surprise of last week. He was a fighter, though, and with the care and love provided by his wife (my mother-in-law) Linda and his mother Edythe, who I know as "Ma," he managed to stay with them much longer than could have been expected and they were happy to share the time they had. I heard that he suffered frequent lapses in health, only to bravely and stubbornly battle back. His mother told me that it was nice that over the last month or so many family members were able to visit with him and chat; that is a special thing, something many are not graced to experience. I always felt quite blessed that by a great good fortune I was able to spend a week with my mother just before she left us. How I would have suffered mentally had I not had those precious moments and conversations to cherish when I needed it most. Edythe said that she was happy he was at peace, smiling, enjoying the company. He was a Vietnam veteran (Army I think) and a former firefighter/paramedic, mostly in Columbia and Pageland, who for a while also worked weekends providing medical coverage at the auto races at Darlington (and maybe some other tracks). He reportedly was active in starting a professional organization for paramedics/ambulance drivers in the state. He helped raise three children and left behind five grandchildren. He and Linda founded an organization to rescue orphaned Vietnamese children (one of whom I married many years later). My condolences and sympathy go to Linda and their children, and to Edythe, who for the longest time was my solitary and always cheerful link to that side of the family (augmented recently by unexpected and supportive correspondence over the last year and a half with Linda, which I have much enjoyed, even in these difficult times for her). I will light a candle in his memory as soon as I get the chance.

I never really got to know Dennis in any substantive way, as I had been effectively screened away from my in-laws for the most part. One thing I regret is that he didn't get to really meet his grandsons either, although I am sure he followed their progress when I sent reports and pictures. I only once had anything close to a semi-lengthy chat with him, when we got to talk for a few minutes outside of the Charlotte hospital where he was working. The only other time I met him face-to-face, the conversation was brief and confrontational (he protecting his wife and me thinking I was doing the same thing), the result of great misunderstandings on my part, the hidden truth of which I was not privy until much later. Sometimes life plays cruel tricks. I would have loved to have brought the boys up to see him over the last couple of years, but I was told the stress was judged to be possibly life threatening, so we weren't able to visit. I haven't told my sons yet, and may not for a long while, for they struggle with separation issues; both can be very tenderhearted. I am not all that religious, though I think myself somewhat spiritual nonetheless, and I pray for a nice place in heaven for him and for strength for the family he left behind.


Spent the weekend at Sesquicentennial State Park outside of Columbia with a small contingent of cub scouts, including my sons Joey and Chimo. The park is a wonderful diversion for anyone living in cental South Carolina. It is also close to my heart because CCC workers helped build the place. It is not as striking as the upstate parks, or as fun as some of the coastal ones, but it is nice. The weather was glorious though, a surprise considering earlier warnings of rain all weekend.

We hauled our tent out to the primitive camping area, which was well maintained and clean. We were the only campers in that area. The only downside was the distance from toilet facilities, about 250 yards or so, the pathway to which was poorly marked, especially for someone trying to find their way at night. It took but minutes to establish our camp.

The boys (there were five in all) hiked and did some nature study. They looked for animal tracks. We cooked hotdogs and smores. Chimo is in blue and Joey in brown, to the left of the picture, while they were smoking their weiners. Mostly they just played "army" with popguns one of the boys provided. Of course, there were the usual skirmishes of personalities, but overall it wasn’t too bad. Paul cooked up a delightful french toast breakfast on Sunday morn.

I was a tad uncomfortable and worn out, having been ill just about all week long, but I didn't want the boys to miss what may be their only chance to camp this spring, so I got myself up and going. Why the fates decided to saddle me with a full-blown colitis attack this weekend, however, I cannot say; the long-distance trek to the facilities became a major test, which I failed on one excursion, but I will leave it at that. And then my mattress kept deflating during the night, which is hard for someone my size to deal with, sleeping on the hard ground. Every so often I would pump it back up and try to fall asleep before it completely collapsed (about a half hour). Surprisingly I wasn’t all that sore the next day, and managed to get enough sleep to function on Sunday. It was a bit noisier than I would have liked, because the sound of high-speed traffic seemed to float in from either Two Notch or the highway. There was some wild police chase, that included helicopters, for a portion of the evening.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Happy Easter to anyone who wanders in.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Had the oddest conversation with my boy Joey yesterday while sitting at dinner at a local pizza place. Joey asked me what games I played when I was young (I have told him that I didn’t have video games when I was a kid, like their mother did). "Well," I said, "as far as it goes with playing with other kids, when I was your age I liked marbles." He looked at me with a blank face and asked me what marbles were. Of course, he knows what a marble is, having played a game called Marbleous, with is one of those contraptions in which the marbles fall down series of slides and tubes, but clearly he understood my answer to mean there was some other game. So, over the next half hour I explained to him about competitive marble games, picking shooter marbles, why marbles were banned from school, things like that. Iexplained how in one game the object was to knock your opponent's marbles out of the ring in order to win them. I showed him how we shot the shooters with out knuckles on the dirt. How the better shooters took the lesser skilled players. He seemed intrigued. I wonder how much our children lose, to a certain extent, in that they don’t have some of the simple, but very pleasurable, games we used to play.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

work in progress

[These lines came to me ina rush yesterday. Don't know if I will use them or not, kind of a work-in-progress, I guess, and I seldom post partial work. But I guess I needed some possible feedback.]

You think you know, but you don’t
You think you shall, but you won’t
You play the fool, but that’s your way
Now there’s no way you can stay.
To seek a calm that cannot stand
I’ll wash you off like wet beach sand
down the drain like so much rain
I can no longer take your pain

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


It’s a WTF kind of day.

I just saw that an author (not to be named) won a literary prize recently for a book that will not be published for another year. What?!! OK, it was probably some competition based on manuscripts, I guess, but really. . . makes you wonder about awards.

I have been following the progress of President Obama in his first real foreign policy foray, and I believe that he did fairly well, advanced U.S. interests, repaired or started the process of repairing some of the strained relationships with the world community. Bravo and good job to him. But some members of the Right have called it a dismal failure and worse. My god, where are their heads? The same bunch that fabricated tons of stories and spread misinformation about the Clintons are back at it again. And people complain about the liberal press? WTF

How can Amazon and Google and other sites simply gobble up all the literary works that have expired copyrights and put them en mass on their websites. . .their for profit websites? And onto the Kindle? What does this mean for publishing companies (which of course, basically were doing the same thing)? You watch, next thing they will start charging for people to view the books, and then start asking people to pay them royalties if one wants to use any portion of those books.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Quote I Like

"There is no rest stop on the misinformation highway." — Dahlia Lithwick