Saturday, May 11, 2013

Vous souvenir votre mere; Day off; At the same time; Pam's gone; Wie kann ich, wenn ich fy keine Flugel haben? ; Magnolia tree

You remember your mother!


Note to My Father After All These Years

Today I spend money. Doodad this, doodad that
in a town in the sun on the border. I sit

outdoors with my doodad dog
at the coffee shop. Time passes.

A man casts a shadow across my latte,
asks if he can borrow my lighter for a minute.

I have none but he talks to me anyway,
generous with conversation,

his tattooed hands giving my dog some
good attention. I can't see his eyes,

only the dark of his sunglasses. His unlit cigarette
bobs in his lips as he talks. This,

or something, reminds me of you. He says
the people here are nice. He loves it here,

says it's way better than the big city; it' s all
money anyways; every time he left the house

it was forty bucks. He sees someone
across the street, waves his arm,
shouts: Jack, I'm free!
He rises. He's gone.

"Note to My Father After All These Years" by Marge Saiser, from Losing the Ring in the River. © University of New Mexico Press, 2013

I ride with Dad's brother, Uncle Meredith
 at an early mini-car track; note different expressions.



It was everywhere in my childhood: in restaurants,

on buses or planes. The teacher's lounge looked like

London under fog. My grandmother never stopped

smoking, and walking in her house was like diving
in a dark pond. Adults were dimly lit: they carried
matches in their pockets as if they might need fire
was meant

to be smoked in a garden thick with summer flowers.
I'm speaking of moods: an old country store where
my grandfather met friends and everyone spoke

behind a veil of smoke. (My Uncle Bill preferred
fragrant cigars; I can still smell his postal jacket ...)
He had time to tell stories because he took breaks

and there was something to do with his hands.
My mother's bridge club gathered around tables
with ashtrays and secrets which are best revealed

beside fire. Even the fireplaces are gone: inefficient
and messy. We are healthier now and safer! We have
exercise and tests for breast or colon cancer. We have

helmets and car seats and smokeless coffee shops
where coffee has grown frothy and complex. The old
movies are so full of smoke that actors are hard to see

and they are often wrapped in smoking jackets, bent
over a piano or kiss. I miss the places smoke created.
I like the way people sat down for rest or pleasure

and spoke to other people, not phones, and the tiny fire
which is crimson and primitive and warm. How long
ago when humans found this spark of warmth and made

their first circle? What about smoke as words? Or the
pipes of peace? In grade school we learned how it rises
and how it can kill. We were taught to shove towels

under our closed doors: to stop, drop, and roll. We had
a plan to meet our family in the yard, the house behind
us alive with all we cannot put out...

"Smoke" by Faith Shearin, from The Empty House

A tree in spring bloom outside the Odd Fellows
where smokers gather beneath,
excluded from Dave's Grill
or the Alanon Club next door.

(Chorus) Such beauty and ugliness
downtown residents get to see
all at the same time.

Imagine being one of those overhanging blossoms
doing its absent beautiful thing
while the noxious soot and smoke wafts upward


And imagine being those carefully-placed
white-laden branches
when high-decibel motorcycles blast by at eventide:

testing testosterone-y cajones
leather-crotches vs ephemeral tissues

Singing the song of the downtown

(Chorus, ibid)




Two of our favorite people allow a photo
on the occasion of waitress Pam's last day
at Dave's, after 18 years of true service.

Learning of Pam's departure when we walked into 
this restaurant across the street our heart became warped.
Jose, owner of Dave's and the aforementioned magician 
at the short-order griddle, was taking it grim and quiet.
Pam recently moved out near Okauchee Lake and sought
and found waitressing part-time and nearer her home.

Dee and I are going to miss her hugely.

We wish her well!  She will be kept informed 
of things via the Raccoon.

My mother, Ruth Elies of Sun Prairie WI
had a Kodak Brownie box camera

wie kann ich, wenn ich
fy keine Fl├╝gel haben?

An inscription on a drum here now at the Odd Fellows
~ How can I fly, when I have no wings? ~

The story: Mom told me she was riding in the old family
 jitney in the days before seat belts,
and the driver was quickly rolling along a dirt country road.  
Ruthie (Mom) was standing up and leaning out
catching the breeze as we have often seen our pets do.

Ruth's mother admonished her in German,
Ruth be careful you don't fly out!

She answered, in German:
~ How can I fly, when I have no wings? ~

Flash forward now decades, and see me 
painting the traditional German family 
sayings on the rim of an elk-hide drum,
after doing a zeppelin etc.

Some of us believe that the music of a 
once live animal-hide continues to sing forever.

This drum was loaned recently to Rev. John Helt of Colgate WI
to be played by him in a sermon.  We are told it worked.


A Tree Grows on Barstow

Right now, if you drive up 
Barstow Street hill, 
and a couple blocks from the crest near 
the Moor Baths 
golf course, you will see a humongous

This used to be the Martin house.  The Raccoon editor 
a member of the Waukesha High School class of 1954 
with Sally Martin.

That tree has grown and grown 
and g-r-o-w-n, so that now 
it dwarfs the small house 
with its dormered attic.  
The attic was made into a dormitory
for Sally and her many siblings.  
They all slept in the 
slanty room which seemed vast,
 and sometimes, Sally says, 
it was a bit chilly up there.

Yesterday (Thursday) I picked up 
Joe Beringer to have  one of our 
Steaming Cup coffee sorties.  
We were driving  down Delafield St.
and Joe advised me to detour 
a couple blocks to go past the Martin Magnolia tree.  
Joe used to live near there and came 
to cherish that pink-flowered tree.

In Mrs. Martin's later years, Joe as  a 1st 
Presbyterian Elder used to bring her 
the Sacraments, and especially loved 
doing so at the time of year 
- spring - when that tree was in bloom.

We were smitten by the beauty yesterday,
 but we only had our lower crustacean 
cell camera with us, so we used that.

The scene deserved a better quality photo, 
so today (Friday) we drove over 
and took the attached pictures with the Nikon.  
Trouble is, it rained heavily 
during the night, and the petals, 
many of them, lay on the ground.

Not to worry, though.  The tree still 
looked beautiful.

And that is so right, in that my friend, the same age 
as me, is also still looking beautiful.

It was not a sunny day, unfortunately.
But on the bright side, Sally Martin 
has brilliant children and grand-children.

Everything, compartmentalized,  

IS how you look at it.