Saturday, February 27, 2016

Five Points 24/7 cafe; Where there is love; Historic odes

Five Points 

Above all

the mourning doves know
their seed will be served
as always;
the now begun next phase
of downtown infrasructure
and then beautifying

has started on our stretch
of the downtown
with the thawing
of roadway frost
and the decorative planters
below us removed for safe-keeping

The doves and we are above it all,
yet very much a part of it.


Where there is love
by Playing for Change


A favorite, Joel McNally

We've been reading and admiring the writing of Joel McNally since the 1970's when he then wrote for the Milwaukee aternative paper, THE KALEIDOSCOPE.  We then lived on the Milw. east side.

You can  find Joel now in THE SHEPHERD EXPRESS, available for free at the Steaming Cup and Pick N Save etc.  A great alternative to the Freeman and the Milw. Journal Sentinel!


A few historic odes

Selected Shorts Subject

The cold season in Wisconsin sets in once more,
and still I wear my tattered gray short pants

the house and surround where my home office is,
though I know sartorially no great credit to me these bare threads

The hems dangle down. You say time has made my abbreviated trousers
 unpresentable; yes, by some standards I am poorly

Just this very day a squad car passed while I in my shorts
raked leaves into a mound.  The cops spied my special drawers and

But I don't seem to give a darn or a big rat's ass anymore,
if ever I did, how my own unpublicized posterior is clad. Perhaps I  shed or add
a pound

now and then, but my shredded fading sheath is a forgiving shroud;
the  waist is elastic, a yet strongly expanding and contracting heart.  So

me if you will, washing after ragging washing, I just cling to
these pants the more, and they to me; I know how couthless that may

There may be a Lack of Fashion Statement in such die-hard loin clothing
but I don't intend to make it:

 I too am fraying, but my pants and I, together, will hold our dear

[David Dix]


To Max the Cat
1988 – 1999

In an age of many things blackened
Your missing blackness no more cattening
Our rooms and halls, our souls are slackened
Max, we loved you, we gently lay you down.

I live some miles from where you rest
But you are here right now
On my mourning mind
As I feel your lumpen weight on my reclining chest,
And if pall bearers there would have been,
I would have been one for you,
My feline, too.

You were not just a good cat (pass me that wine!)
You were a great cat
A cavernous black hole you’ve left in my heart
And in the hearts of our friends, mine and yours
On the Helt farm,
An address to which your beloved bones
We forever consign, and as at Arlington
Guard and mind in perpetuity
Or till we too have moved on

We know where that dark well is,
where your shell is,
and when I visit that little grave- site
I am going to lay myself down on it,
Out of
Out of Africa
Might I?

You never asked me when the table was turned
But I could have shooed you away
And now I’m glad I never did.
I’ll be wet- eyed as now I am
And sigh:  Max, Max, Max, why do we die?
You want ed to no more than I

Or Buddy, or Maggie, your surviving cats
In the house gone dry,
Save for tears of unsuccessful searching
Now that you are no longer in it

Who upon our chests will lie
And make such a weighty thing of it?
We thought you were good for fifteen years
you got eleven;
Much is wrong with our world
Though you are in your heaven

And, I don’t want to “recover” from your loss
It’s made me frankly cross, and blue
You showed your trust, no part of you did you withhold
You brought us gamey socks
And tolerated moods of many hues

You did your darndest to talk to us
Now we withhold nothing in ever remembering you;
Your gamboling gamble of a life may be over
You may have been but “an animal”
Yes, but never to us

Dear Max, we send you our best
We loved you, we gently lay you down.

[David Dix 2006]


You Call That a Glass a Wine?
A hell of a way to run a railroad

While the Episcopalians swill real communion wine
From a common metal cup, the rim of which is
Merely swiped lightly with a cloth between hearty gulps
Of the blood of Christ,

A block away at the Congregational Church
They’ve gone from glass to plastic thimbles that are disposable
After each hummingbird half-filling of Juicy Juice; and why?
Because one can never be sure;

Were they washed well enough between once-a-month
Eucharists? Germs, oh nastiful nasties, fie upon them;
Although a good Christian willfully eats his allotted bucket of dirt
A year, and breathes noxious fumes all ‘round,

At the Congregational Church
He can control at least something, and it’s
The type of mini-vessel
From which he tiddles his teensy taste,

His weensy taste of sugary “blood”;
But I’ll tell you one thing;
Those plastic vials will never clink
The way real glass did in the communion racks!

You cannot slam down a plastic thimble
Nor can you cherish the feel of it in your fingers;
It just aint the same; and brother,
It’s not the way we used to do it.

It is just a good thing, probably,
The heavenly monitors, if they be,
Couldn’t care less what form
Our worship takes, as long as it’s sincere,

And resonant, if ecologically unsound.

[David Dix, 02-03-04]


Ragtime’s Testicles

We had a cat who was a male
Whose habits and wants none could assail
Except in his dotage he’d flagrantly pee
In places inside where we’d smell, and then see

The vet said of that he could be easily fixed
By neutering him that scourge would be nixed
So I took him in and had the job done
And I told the vet I had a request, only one

That he save the testes in a small glass jar
For me to take home;  would not carry’t too far
They were to be sure Ragtime’s prized possessions
And I thought that to save them might stay any questions

Thus I placed in the ice box Ragtime’s yellow-gray orbs
In a small screw-top jar midst the food of all sorts
And with time in the way of fridges everywhere galore
The little jar got forgotten;  I knew it no more

I married Dee later, and she liked to clean
She tackled my icebox, threw out many things mean
But my sauces and condiments if questioned got left
For me to not lose so I’d be not bereft

Besides, the mystery jar took so little room
And didn’t look mouldy, formelahyded safely from gloom
The contents looked like something that I might want to keep
So Dee, a good saver, said not a peep

Years later my father visited and in accord with his habit
Required a martini; he’d make it and have it
The gin and the vermouth were there in plain sight
But no garnishments, like olives, cheered  him that terrible night

He made do through searching, built a drink I’d have banned
And joined us in the living room, bare toothpicks in hand
And his brow it was furrowed as his lips he did smack
Saying, “Boy, your cocktail onions a wallop do pack!”

“They have a certain gristle I’m not used to having,
And the flavour, though pungent, I’d probably be halving;
How long have you had them?”  Though with dawning great dread
I said not “The cat that they came from is dead!”

[David Dix 4-18-2004]


Calls For The Singing Fairies

                                                         I have a secret glass
In the kitchen cabinet
 I re-found it after many years
in one of the high
Cabinets we rarely go in

  It’s been here since at least 1941
                                                       It was my grandmother’s 
when she bought this house
And I think she may have had it
Long before that

It may date back to my great grandparents
                                         Who were farmers in Sheboygan County
The Furhrmans or maybe the Froehlichs
my maternal German bloodline

I say it’s secret because it must have
A magic spell cast upon it
The glass is so paper-thin
A juice glass in size
But it has over all these never-never decades
  never ever been broken

In spite of its fragility
It has etched lilies of the valley
Cut into it’s thinness
Making the glass even thinner
In those places

I like to think this glass
Sought shelter from breakage
By getting into that upper cupboard
Somehow of supernatural volition
So as to not be broken
As one of the daily-used often chipped
 Cups and bowls are

Frequent breakage of our common
Is not unknown in this house

When I wash this fragile glass
 after carefully using and admiring
its still-whole thinness
Coming and going through me

Onto the table, then
Into the clean soapy dishwater
Before any soiled utensils 
Or anything else is plunged

I get true but ginger hands on it
Hold it fast as I rinse it
Long and roundly under warm water
And air-dry it on an embroidered

I’m afraid to own it
But I want to use it
To feel it while
Trying to protect it
Maybe for a next generation

So I have it in the lower cabinet
Where it gets daily use
And I wash it every day
 I have regular fear
Mixed with the joy of having it

When I held this glass
As a small child
- was it this very one or another
in a set, now broken?-
My grandmother would sing to me:

White coral bells
Upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the valley
Line my garden walk

Oh don’t you wish
That you could hear them ring?
That will happen only
When the fairies sing!

My fragile glass
To casual viewers
Secret as it is
Should not be looked-for
But it’s there

A last chance for fairies to sing?

[David Dix 11-06]

All for today; there'll be more


Saturday, February 20, 2016

One more time - Guantanamera; Helt and Bentz shipments; Getting light

Have always loved dancing girls


From the in-box, Helt and Bentz, Doctors both:

From John Helt 2-14-16


From Tom Bentz 2-14-16


Getting Light

I saw a golden cat as the barely rising sun
Still behind the West Virginia mountains
Made the sky slightly pink and not as blackened
As it was when my walk across the river
An hour ago had just begun

The cat lay on top of a garbage can
In kind of a no-man’s land
Off an alley I was walking
On Wheeling Island hawking
For queer things to expose my film at, and

It was soon after I’d passed an Hibiscus hedge
Following a tenuous crossing
From Wheeling to the island
On a pre-Civil War suspension bridge

An isolated community I so much annually enjoy
I quiver looking down from such a high ledge
Through the swaying gratewalk at the water
Far below

The cat had likely been out all night
A satisfied smile showed just a trace
As maybe full of mice it looked benignly
Upon my out of town face

And we spoke in wow wows kindly
Then he graciously said signly
Take my picture Mr. Man, it’s quite alright

That’s how I read him all the same
So I raised my camera squinting through it taking aim
Got him centered for quick shooting because
He was sitting on his paws so nice and tame

His face turned to glowing phosphorus
I could see it through my finder
I could have not made him blinder
In incandescence he was one loud screeching puss

The mood of our acquaintance turned dreary
And he ricocheted round so bleary
And I knew in an instant I should have used
Available light

Would the cat have sat still for that though
Was something I did not know so
The flash went off and temporarily
So went his pussycat sight

Next year when I go back there
I hope to see his cat hair
Resettled and him once again
At his curmudgeonly ease

I shall pet his golden coif so
He will be ready when I show him the photo
And to his eyes and heart
I might hold the kitty cat keys

I’ll pledge to him in the sternest of stricture
Should I ever again capture his picture
There’ll be no flash in his face
When he says cheese

[DD 2002}

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Valentines 2016; Playing for change; Class of 1965

PLAY this:


This Mexican carving was obtained long ago from The Market Place on Milwaukee's east side.
The owners, the Sanders', were a loving couple who traveled south of the border, sometimes far south, to buy art objects 
made by indigenous crafts-peasantry, then the Sanders re-sold it in their little former flower shop
by the water tower at Prospect and North.
They'd excitedy, gleefully await their selected items to be shipped to the US, and then proudly
put them on their ex-greenhouse showroom display shelves.

Sometimes the now Raccoon editor would, as able,  invest in the crafted beauty.  

This carving was one of the objets d'art chosen.  It was a  wedding anniversity gift some years ago, for Dee.

Now, this year, it is highlighted at Valentines Day.  (As a 'feelie', it sits next to to my chair as always.)

On 'permanent' display at the Odd Fellows Hall (by app't)

308 South St 311
Waukesha 53186
262 547 1427

The dexterous symmetry achieved must be seen and held.

A gifted artist, whoever it was, did this.


Stand by me
Playing for change

Again and again, Happy Valentines Day


We heard an interview on Wis. Public Radio
yesterday with the author:

In the midst of racial strife, one young man showed courage and empathy. It took forty years for the others to join him…

Being a student at Americus High School was the worst experience of Greg Wittkamper’s life. Greg came from a nearby Christian commune, Koinonia, whose members devoutly and publicly supported racial equality. When he refused to insult and attack his school’s first black students in 1964, Greg was mistreated as badly as they were: harassed and bullied and beaten. In the summer after his senior year, as racial strife in Americus—and the nation—reached its peak, Greg left Georgia.

Forty-one years later, a dozen former classmates wrote letters to Greg, asking his forgiveness and inviting him to return for a class reunion. Their words opened a vein of painful memory and unresolved emotion, and set him on a journey that would prove healing and saddening.

The Class of ’65 is more than a heartbreaking story from the segregated South. It is also about four of Greg’s classmates—David Morgan, Joseph Logan, Deanie Dudley, and Celia Harvey—who came to reconsider the attitudes they grew up with. How did they change? Why, half a lifetime later, did reaching out to the most despised boy in school matter to them? This noble book reminds us that while ordinary people may acquiesce to oppression, we all have the capacity to alter our outlook and redeem ourselves.

Key words reminding of the  early 1980s for us:
Koinonia  Farms; Clarence Jordan *
Habitat for Humanity
Cottonpatch Gospel; Harry Chapin etc.



Saturday, February 6, 2016

Melancholy Baby; Gourd horn plays; Morticulture




Gourd vines unfurl on the trellis
So fast now that a pulse is nearly felt
at the growth tips

Little buds that will be flowers
emerge from nothing
Up the wire mesh go the vines
a rung or two at a time

and the tendrils wave
and writhe in air
seeking purchase
Wire to bend

Finding something to grab onto
they kink up
in tight spirals
like octopus tentacles

Twelve plants started from seed
in my south window sill indoors
fragile they were and now

They have enough
collective force to produce
a bin of future horns, rattles
bowls and dippers

or to make good on a sci-fi
and do me in
I will not turn my back on them

At night through the open
bedroom window I hear them
muscling their way toward me

I could have stopped them once
but now they have
harnessed the sun
and they want to grow
all over me

I have to make a run past
this trellis in the morning
when I go to work
They might snatch an arm or pantleg

but I close the door on
the offending tentacles
and back down the drive
a struggle between an auto
engine and photosynthesis

So far the car always wins
and the tendril ends whimper
when their connexions to the mother vine
and come bungeeing back
at the windshield

Neighbor's pets
have begun to disappear
 The vines have a way
of beckoning innocently
like a benign cobra

You have to stare at them
and  you want
to move in for a closer look
because you are curious
aren't you?


[ãDavid Zep Dix 2001]