Saturday, August 27, 2016

Maintained correspondence; Cucumber fields, forever; Obla di, obla da - how the life goes on; Sewing; Tamarack squirrel-a-whirl

Maintained Correspondences

(Sherman Park observation from Sally 4th, on riot events of Aug. 2016)

Dear Dave,

On Friday, I was carting my younger son's three sons around Milwaukee, and we drove through the area where all the troubles took place.  I wanted to show my grandsons the fine architecture that exists on some of the streets around there - especially excellent art-deco buildings, still excellent above the first floor, but with crummy looking stores on the first floors of many.  I also wanted to show the boys that people were going around about their business in a part of the city that had been chaotic just days before.  There is a whole lot of repetitive showing on TV about the most violent and upsetting hours of what happened.  Currently there are a lot of very good, very smart, very experienced people assembling and talking together here.   I think there is real hope for our beautiful city to grow into a better time.  We have a long way to go, but it can get better.  I think people are unwise when they decide to carry guns around in cities.  A young man has a gun and is told to stop and doesn't, a policeman shoots him. It's an event that will be a big part of the lives of those who love the unfortunate young man AND the equally unfortunate policeman.   We might never know all the details of this.  All the anger, frustration, sick and tired feelings poured out.  We so need our schools, which try so hard, to get better, and we so need for people to be able to find decent jobs.  If these two things could happen, I truly believe that we would witness significant improvement.  We have GOT to find a better way.

Sally von Briesen
class of WHS 1954


Cucumber Fields Crossed by High Tension Wires
by Thomas Lux

Listen Online

The high-tension spires spike the sky
beneath which boys bend
to pick from prickly vines
the deep-sopped fruit, the rind’s green
a green sunk
in green. They part the plants’ leaves,
reach into the nest,
and pull out mother, father, fat Uncle Phil.
The smaller yellow-green children stay,
for now. The fruit goes
in baskets by the side of the row,
every thirty feet or so. By these bushels
the boys get paid, in cash,
at day’s end, this summer
of the last days of the empire
that will become known as
the past, adios, then,
the ragged-edged beautiful blink.

"Cucumber Fields Crossed by High Tension Wires" by Thomas Lux from The Street of Clocks. © Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001

An old farm-hand knew whereof he reminisced:


Obla di, obli da...

Desmond has a barrow in the marketplace
Molly is the singer in a band
Desmond says to Molly girl I like your face
And Molly says this as she takes him by the hand
Ob la di ob la da life goes on bra
La la how the life goes on
Ob la di ob la da life goes on bra
La la how the life goes on
Desmond takes a trolley to the jeweler's store
Buys a twenty carat golden ring
Takes it back to Molly waiting at the door
And as he gives it to her she begins to sing
Ob la di ob la da life goes on bra
La la how the life goes on
Ob la di ob la da life goes on bra
La la how the life goes on
In a couple of years they have built
A home sweet home
With a couple of kids running in the yard
Of Desmond and Molly Jones
Happy ever after in the market place
Desmond lets the children lend a hand
Molly stays at home and does her pretty face
And in the evening she still sings it with the band
Ob la di ob la da life goes on bra
La la how the life goes on
Ob la di ob la da life goes on bra
La la how the life goes on
In a couple of years they have built
A home sweet home
With a couple of kids running in the yard
Of Desmond and Molly Jones
Happy ever after in the market place
Molly lets the children lend a hand
Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face
And in the evening he's a singer with the band
Ob la di ob la da life goes on bra
La la how the life goes on
Ob la di ob la da life goes on bra
La la how the life goes on
And if you want some fun sing ob la di bla da

[Hatch photo from Rev./Dr. John Helt at his home in the shadow of Holy Hill 8/26/16]



The night before my older sister’s wedding,
my mother and I sat up late
hand-stitching a little cloud of netting
to the brim of each bridesmaid’s hat
To be alone with her was so rare
I couldn’t think of what I had to say.
We worked in silence beneath the chandelier
until it was almost daybreak.
Soon I’d have a room of my own
and she would only be cooking for six.
We drifted among the wreaths we had sewn,
nursing quietly on our fingertips.
That she still had me was a comfort,
I think. And I still had her.

"Sewing" by Sue Ellen Thompson from The Golden Hour. © Autumn House Press, 2006


bracket ingrown by tamarack bark;
Stump now an artifact at O.F.; dead at Arcadian, sawn in 2010 
now does unheard of duty

a stand for a new infusion teapot
as in when life hands you lemons
make tea


No adventures of Zepata today.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Feeling out of sorts at the church door; Everything's up to date; Bow ties; Zepata saga - instalment IV (1998)

At the Church Door
by Louis Simpson

Listen Online

I didn’t stay for the closing
hymns and prayers. I felt
out of sorts, so I left.
Someone was before me
at the door: a child, gazing
at a spot on her wrist.
She said, "Can you help me?"
"What is it?"
"A ladybug," she said.
So I opened the door,
and she said, "It jumped off."
We stood looking around.
"It’ll be all right," I said.
She went in, and I left,
taking care where I stepped.

Steeple bell, 1st Cong. church, East Ave and Broadway
SRN photo

"At the Church Door" by Louis Simpson from The Owner of the House. © BOA Editions, Ltd., 2003


Rodgers and Hammerstein

Kansas City
where everything's up to date

Another one from OKLAHOMA! :


Attention should be paid by warring downtown Waukesha factions
and others in conflict around the world.

and one more:


Bow Ties

John Helt and grandson Emerson
at recent wedding of John's son TJ

Ben Willard at his wedding 7-3-16
(New wife is our daughter, Erin)

Old photo, work togs here


GOP presidential candidate 2016


Zepata and El Dayo
Instalment IV

Somehow during the clattering night
at the quonset
Zepata and Irena in their cabin found sleep
the devoted creek-ets too slept
but only after hearing the snores of Zepata
did they stop rubbing their own parts together
all very long songs over

The bedclothing on the  bed
 of tree trunks and 1000 lb test
lariat rope
the bedclothing oh my
Irena chose to soak them for starters
in Zepata's unemptied bath water
til a return

Irena built up the fire for coffee
and shaved soap chips for clean-up
with the large blade she always wore
at the back of her neck
hidden within her long black hair
the sheath strappage appearing to be a choker
necklace ah yes she was clever

She checked her kit:
twin balanced 45 calibre pistolas;
over her shoulders went
the holstered dual bandoliers
crossing between her taut breasts;
all cartridge loops full
and leather thongs tied around each
of her muscular thighs

Thighs which could cause Zepata
to yell ouch Ai yai yai;
a grenade in the usual place;
sewing needles and thread;
iodine, cotton sheeting for
bandages or sling;

silver bicep bracelets with
hinged turquoise cabechons
behind which - check - the
cyanide capsules in event of capture;
for the Federalis meant to kill them
for a long time with many inhumanities
 on sight ha ha

Saddle bags filled with flour, salt
canteens (8) filled with
mountain stream water;
flintrock; several changes of socks;
her spiked wrist bands;
signal mirror, binoculars,
sack of gold coinage;

fish hooks; high-cuff leather gloves;
two large rolls adhesive tape;
medicinal and recreational whisky;
20 feet leather thonging;
sighted-in rifle; 35 yards fusing
and sulphur matches, large box of same

Zepata rolled away the stone next
to Dayo's quonset and put 24 sticks of
seized RR blasting dynamite
into a long leather hide and rolled
it so that it made a double compartment
one for each of Dayo's haunches

We becawm one with May He Ko
he chuckles to El Dayo
if a boolet hits here
he slaps the double bag arrangement
as he secures it to the saddle
Dayo snorts defiantly his
No Way amigo

Dayo stomps his hooves
and shows the whites of his eyes
his head tossing up and down
in anticipation of new battle
He will stride just a little ahead of Mare
There may be enemy fire

As always Mare will try to achieve
the lead position
and as always
Irena will say
I  not doing that, my greatest love
Mare she always wants to lead
I cannot help

Mare also carries hidden grenadage
No freighting opportunity
is ever overlooked by Irena
or Goddess of the Sun as the
peasants call after her
when they pass the poor villages

All this preparation took place in
the first light of day
El Dayo and Mare stand only a yard apart
and the spurs on both Zepata's and Irena's
boots jing-jing in concert as the two
fighters for the downtrodden
march in step to their mounts

Hep Hep
shouts Zepata
Two sinewy legs simultaneously
attain socketage in stirrups
Two sinewy legs simultaneously
arc over the horses' hind quarters

And they are off
A more splendid sight there never was
Sigh the creek-ets
Waving their bandanas from the window
Where they will watch a very long time.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Nard - rubbing down with; Better music; C-clamp; Expeditionist; Zepata episode III


(courtesy Rev/Dr Tom Bentz


Something there is that doesn’t like permanency
         Or any semblance of it………….

Oh yes, we’ve assembled many a thing with nails and screws, even with oxyacetelene welding, to make them last.  But under it all we’ve always had a thing for configurations that can be quickly taken apart.  Folding tables, telescopes, umbrellas, tents, stuff that can be made smaller or made to disappear at will.

It is even more so now.  Could it be that I am aging and see my remaining life as a camping trip?  All trappings to be easily folded and put away when the time comes?

I thought about that when it came time to assembling a wire trellis framework up on the deck, which in our old house is merely a 2nd floor rug-shaking porch only slightly bigger. How would I build this framework?

Simple to nail or screw it to the existing deck members, but my mind came coming back to someone eventually taking it down, and how much easier it would be if I just used C-clamps.





Easily assembled things
including for a hoe-worse

episode III

Zepata and El Dayo
Instalment III

For the next several days
Zepata and Dayo only hear each others'
sounds as they shout encouragement
to each other, Zepata with Irena
in the cabin, and Dayo and his mare
in the hastily-constructed quonset
a barn of sorts

For Zepata the amigos will do anything
and Zepata wants Dayo to have a roof over his head
for when they are at rest
so the amigos dragged corrugated steel
sections up the mountain for Dayo's

It had to be steel because Dayo when he
is with his mare destroys wood structures
beats them to the ground
so intensely as with all things
approaches and executes El Dayo
so great a hoe-worse there never was

Now this is the thing for Zepata and El Dayo:
Irena and the mare are not playthings
for the two stallions'  rest and relaxation
Oh yes they are that
but when there is liberation work to be done
against the Federalis and wealthy land-owners
in the lower lands
they ride together at random times as a foursome
to keep Irena's and Mare's
blood up

to keep Zepata's and Dayo's blood up
for in May Hee Ko blood is everything

Something of Zepata and Dayo
has gotten inside of Irena and Mare
making the latter as furious fighters
fierce and likewise indefatiguable
in all ways and everywhere
as the former

After six days of jousting retreat
a mirror flashed a signal from down below
Tomorrow signaled the compadres
Come tomorrow
Bring the dynamite
Bring the women

Saw-dight comforts Zepata
We have one more night here
Irena pours red wine and uncovers
the leetle creek-et cages she made
during Zepata's absence

and the creek-ets, from down below where
Irena gather them
good and true Mexican bawgs
 begin to sing
begin to lull Zepata
the music of them so much he did love;
and Irena in the dusk lights a candle
and oils her lithe body with a concoction
of her own:

Rosewater for a base, then added equal measures
honeysuckle nectar, axle lubricant blended
with saddle mink oil and Witch Hazel heated over
candle flame to bring out the scent
to flood the cabin with the scent
her long and slick black mane wound
into a wreath and secured with catgut
from her guitar case

Already Dayo's hooves were punishing
the quonset
a primeval sequence which incited
Zepata's pituitary
incited Zepata to shout encouragement
to his faithful steed from their distance:

Ole, Dayo, Ole old hoe-worse
Ah-ha-ha ha-ha
Ah-ha-ha ha-ha
rejoins El Dayo
They think alike these two
In so many different ways


Saturday, August 6, 2016

At Fort Benning GA; Ritual waters; Route step; Soldier

At Fort Benning GA
where father trained for eventual D Day
invasion of Normany, WW II 1944


Ritual Waters

The mighty Fox River now sees the young Burmese father
At its banks communing with the moving water
Which flows like the Ihrewhaddy in his homeland
Slowly but surely, and it has fish

Hla rides my bicycle – now his -  in spare moments and continues
His pursuit of a livelihood at the Fox River
The other day he told me he caught eight big fish
“How big?” -  and he held his thumbs and middle fingers together
to represent girth

instead of  hands far apart to represent length
the way we do around here
which said he is thinking of food
where fishermen of my acquaintance usually are thinking of a trophy

How wonderful to think of Hla riding my bicycle to the river
With a fishing pole
Catching fish that struggle to survive in slowly clearing water
Fish to feed his boys who also like to catch and eat fish, as in Burma

In olden days and even now sometimes we see
Milwaukee (?) blacks and pore folks at the riverbanks and lakeshores
in Waukesha County – they aren’t from around here -
hunkered down, usually, so as not to stand out

fishing “our” recreational waters
for food, smiling furtively beneath broad straw hat-brims
when they snag one that would bring their hands
around in big O’s;
And well-to-do locals motor by and cluck their tongues and say:
“Just look at that!”


Route Step

The bridge from Wheeling Island Ohio
across the Ohio River
to Wheeling West Virginia
was built before the Civil War
the first and oldest
continuously-operating such bridge
in the United States

Travelers on Route 70
pass over the Ohio on a newer bridge
to the north
but within sight of the old bridge
which serves local traffic
and which is anchored
on the Wheeling side
in tons
of cement beneath
our traditional stop-over hotel
on the annual way to the Maryland farm

So that shock waves of the bridge cables
are transferred slightly to our beds
and we're connected vibratorily
and there is no extra charge for
such magic finger treatment

I like to take an early morning walk
across the bridge each year on my trip
and I've noticed spider webs on the supports
that mimic the fretwork of the bridge itself;
and I've felt the sway of the bridge
in the wind, or when a car passes over
next to me on the narrow pedestrian walk

The water looks far below
and it is

During the Civil War
Union soldiers were marching in lock step
across the bridge and they set up a
vibration that caused one of the three instances
when bridge has collapsed;
those calamities happened during
the bridge's earlier life;
it hasn't fallen in a long time
proponents say

But that's when the broken march step
came to be, known as Route Step
to any soldier or parade marcher,
because the ordered but free-form paces,
out of pounding rhythm,
kept the Wheeling bridge
from falling down again



I saw a picture in a newspaper yesterday
of Russian children being taught in a classroom
about gasmasks
and I thought
how wrong that is.

A good share of my now 80 year life
 has been given up
to reflecting on how wrong things are.

When I was a child people's bodies
were being shredded, blown apart

in World War Two
not a glorious war but one that had to be won
and my bandage-winding, sweater-knitting
Red Cross costume-wearing paternal grandmother
with her progeny, four sons, all in the war

 would dress me in military costume
and her heart would swell with pride when
I looked like a little soldier, like one of her sons
on her front lawn in Cedar Falls, Iowa

but it never felt right to me

and when with my dad then Captain Dix we traveled from
military post to military post as he trained
for the ultimate D-Day invasion with the 90th
I shied from ceremonial cannon firing
I think I shamed him by holding my ears

and not liking the sharp sting of gunpowder
in my nose which I remember well.
Children come into this world with
a purity that is wrested from them -
the Russian children had that look

that look of something not being right;
Who wants to stand next to a blasting cannon
Who wants to wear a uniform for play
and what does it say to teach little boys and girls
about death being in the air they breathe?

Mental disorders, poisoned brain cells
a fetid pond in which to swim
for Earth's minnows
it fosters irregular heartbeats and earns us failing marks
with the cosmos:

 in this holy sea a spoiled estuary.