Sunday, June 16, 2019

Humbling

I swear, sometimes life just humbles you in moments you least expect it.

The other day, in one of my classes, I had two new students. I was able to tell that one of the students was not a native German, but I don’t think anything of it. I thought his ethnicity might be Turkish  because German has a strong minority of Turkish people.

Anyway, I had asked the students to write a small essay for me. I had just spent the entire last class talking and truth be told, really wanted to rest my voice for a bit. I told the students to write a small essay about the following topic: “We all sometimes have to make difficult decisions in our lives. What was one difficult decision you had to make? Please explain what the decision was, what you decided for, why and what the effects of that decision were.”

After assigning the task, I went and got myself a cup of coffee. It was only later, when I was marking the essays, that I found out that the new student who looked like he was from Turkey actually was from Syria. And not only that, he was a refugee who had escaped that war-torn land and made it to Europe in the most difficult kind of way, by crossing the Mediterranean. I was immediately humbled by his story, which I have reproduced below. Enjoy.
The most difficult decision in my life was my journey to Germany. I was in Turkey and I had a little budget to start a life there but I decided to leave Turkey and go to Europe, exactly like  a lot of Syrian refugees who wanted to start a good life and get better chances in their own life. It was very hard to take the risk and travel illegally across the sea with the death boats, risking my life leaving my friends and family and all the people that I have known to go to live in a foreign country with a new culture, new language and start from zero or maybe even less than zero. For me it was “to be or not to be.” I wanted to make my future with my own hands and build it as I want. I didn’t know how hard it would be. I went through very bad moments. Luckily, I have made it all the time. A lot of bad memories and lot of good things I have learned. The life is experiments and I want to try everything I want.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Moments


Think of all the moments that we record with a camera or video camera, never to do anything with those pictures or videos again. Here is simply a moment I didn't want to lose, but one I knew I would if I didn't post the video of it here. Enjoy.


Learning German

I must admit, learning another language is really hard. Sometimes, I have to come up with creative ways to remember things that should be pretty easy. For example, there's this one phrase in German that I had wanted to learn: "in alter frische." The English equivalent of "in alter frische" is "with bells on." So just as how we would say, "I'll be there tomorrow with bells on" to show that we will arrive the next day with energy and a good attitude, we would say in German, "Ich komme morgen in alter frische."

But I had been having a seriously difficult time remembering exactly how the phrase was said, particularly which letters ended which words, so I made a little mnemonic device: "in alter frische," "re."

So the mnemonic sentence would be: "This message is re the phrase "in alter frische."

Boom, solved.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Poem: "You May Thank Me; That Was You"

You may thank me; that was you. 
You may not know it now.
You can thank me; it was you.
So what’s before you now
Reflects the light you give, you make
Life a bit more bright.
You may thank me but it’s you and I'm
Glad your in my life. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Poem: "Equanimity"

equanimity: mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.

I had a dream about a great white shark,
But I wasn't afraid
And I faced the beast with equanimity.

I knew the thing could go two ways,
Which was OK for me; 
I faced the beast with what I had,
Equanimity. 

I saw it from straight on and then
It passed me on my side;
It saw me, smelled me, felt me and
Decided to go by.

I’d like to think that it was God
Who from its jaws kept me.
But I can’t help think that it was just
My equanimity. 

Friday, June 07, 2019

Ex-Girlfriends, Instagram and Numbers


One thing that has always fascinated me is trying to quantify the intangible.

What the heck am I talking about?

Well, we know how to quantify the tangible. For example, if you have two apples and I give you three more, you now have five apples.

But how do we quantify the intangible? If I help you move house, for example, how much do you owe me in return for the favor? Do you owe me a favor that requires equal effort? Do you owe me anything at all?

It's hard to quantify the intangible.

But recently, I was actually able to quantify the intangible, and I want to share the whole fascinating experience with you.

But first you need some backstory.

In January, my girlfriend and I broke up. I didn't want the breakup, but she did. While dating, though, both of us had Instagram accounts, and we would "like" each others' photos often. After the breakup, I was pretty certain that she was still checking out my Instagram account. Although I hadn't thought that her ability to still view my account altered my behavior on the platform, I was certainly aware that she was still probably viewing my pics.

Now skip ahead to about three weeks ago when I decided to my block my ex-girlfriend on Instagram. I figured, Why should she be able to look right into my life whenever she wanted?

And so, a small, new chapter in my life opened: the one in which my ex was no longer able to see into my world via the pictures I was taking.

After this online blocking, I still continued to take pictures for Instagram. I love the platform, so, understandably, I carried on with the habit.

But then something started to happen. 

With my ex now blocked, I started to get the feeling I was taking fewer pictures.

After getting this feeling a couple of times, I thought to myself, "Am I taking fewer pictures now that I know she can't see the account?" I thought the answer might be yes.

And now here's where the whole quantifying thing comes in.

Because Instagram stamps each picture posted with the date of the posting, I was able to see exactly how many pictures I had taken in the 28 days since having blocked my ex. I was then able to compare that number with the number of pics I had taken in the 28-day period before I blocked her, the 28-day period before that, and the one before that one, too, going all the way back to around the time of the breakup.

And the results were shocking.

In the 28 days after May 6, the date I blocked my ex, I posted 59 photos to Instagram. In sharp contrast, during the 28-day period before that, a time during which my ex could still view my account, I posted 136 pictures. During the 28-period before that one -- again, we're still broken up but she can see my account -- I posted 111 pictures. In the 28 days before that, I posted 80 pictures, and in the 28 days before that, 106.

So, when I knew my ex could still see my Instagram account, I was averaging 108 pictures per 28 days. Over the 28 days during which I knew she couldn't see my account, I posted only 59 pics. That's a nearly 60% decrease in the number of pictures posted!

So why am I telling you all this? Because it absolutely fascinates me to be able to quantify something that is not easily quantifiable.

But...

What exactly is that thing that is not easily quantifiable? What exactly are we talking about?

Well, what hadn't been quantifiable was how much I was actually taking pictures for her. Although I thought that I was just taking pictures for me, a huge part of my motivation for posting all those pics, apparently, was her and the knowledge that she was probably looking at my account from time to time. 

So there you go -- a very personal blog post, but a very interesting one nonetheless. If anything, I think the takeaway messages is, when it comes to social media, we should really think about the reasons why we use these platforms.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Poem: "You Feel It Alright"

You feel it alright come on, I'm ready
You feel it alright come on
Unsteady I have been but am
Ready to take on
Your chaos now 
You feel it too
I knew you would, you have 
Spent it in the woods, under 
Suds of bubble baths.

You feel it now, I knew you would
Keen and sharp and hard
You feel it now 
Come on, come on
Don't leave me seeing stars.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Poem: "I've Seen You on This Line Before"

I've seen you on this line before
I've seen you on this line 
Before I've seen you on this line
I've seen you on this line. 
Eyes closed and the sunshine on 
Your eyes as you sit there 
Lighting up your face and your 
Strawberry blond hair. 
I've seen you on this line, the line 
You need cause duty calls 
Cause money doesn't grow on trees 
Like apples in the fall.
I've seen you on this line, your line 
Before I tell you this 
Before you kiss a frog and you 
Turn it to a prince 
Hold the line, please hold the line 
First see what fate has planned 
Then open up your eyes and be 
The woman to my man. 

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Boere trial

Here's a story I worked on in 2009 while on assignment for Deutsche Welle, a German news agency. It's about the opening trial of a former SS man charged with killing three Dutch civilians during WWII. The trial took place in Aachen State Court. 

By Chad Smith and Maya Schikora



AACHEN, Germany — The opening trial of admitted Nazi hit man Heinrich Boere was abruptly adjourned today after Boere’s defense persuaded the judge that the state prosecutor might be too emotionally involved in his efforts to convict the 88-year-old former SS man. 
Boere is charged with killing three Dutch civilians during WWII while he was a member of an SS unit tasked with crushing the resistance in Holland. Boere confessed to his crimes while in Allied custody after the war but escaped to Germany just before a Dutch court could try him.  The court eventually convicted him in his absence. 
Years of legal wrangling between Germany and the Netherlands resulted in Boere’s living his life a free man in Germany. Ulrich Maass, the lead prosecutor in the case, recently reopened Boere’s file in a last ditch effort to make Boere pay for his crimes. 
But today in state court, Gordon Christiansen, Boere’s public defender, said that since Maass reopened the file, in 2008, the prosecutor gave almost a dozen interviews to the media in which the he seemed to have an axe to grind. 
German law mandates that prosecutors should strive to be objective. 
The judge ruled today that until Maass gives a clear response to the defense's accusations, the case cannot move forward. Maass didn’t have an official response ready but said he’d have one on Monday when the case resumes. 
Even though today’s events look like a one-up for the defense, having Boere in court at all represents a victory for the prosecution. In 1983, a German court ruled that Boere couldn’t be forced to serve his Dutch sentence (life in prison) because he wasn’t able to provide a defense in the 1949 trial that convicted him.
In 2008, several German courts ruled that Boere couldn’t stand trial in Germany for the three killings because of his old age. But Maass, a prosecutor who specializes in National Socialist crimes, appealed those rulings and won. 
Boere, who is half Dutch, half German, was 18 when he joined the Waffen SS — the elite military arm of Hitler's murderous SS organization — in 1940, just months after Holland fell to the German blitzkrieg. He served on the Eastern Front for two years then returned to Holland and joined the 15-man SS hit squad in 1942
The hit squad  code named “Silbertanne, or “Silver Pine,” was composed of mostly Dutch volunteers tasked with killing Dutch resistance fighters or anyone thought sheltering them  even if that meant murdering their own countrymen. The mission was responsible for 54 murders in the Netherlands during WWII, the prosecution has said
Maarten Bicknese, the grandson of one of Boere’s victims, Fritz Bicknese, spoke to Deutsche Welle this week and said that he was happy Boere would finally stand trial after living free for so many years.
“He was at home and he lived a good life, and now, finally, he will come before a judge. For my family, this is a good thing.” 
If on Monday the judge believes that Maass is not objective enough, one of Maass’ colleagues, another prosecutor, will take over the case, which is expected to last two months. But Maass may want to do whatever he can to stay in charge, as his key witness — an accomplice in one of the 1944 murders — is scheduled to testify that morning.   



Poem: "I Wish"

I wish I knew what you thought about.
I wish I knew more.
I wish I had the key
To your door.
I wish I knew the way
Your path led
Instead of playing guessing games
Standing on my head.
I wish I could employ a phrase
Or navigate your maze
Or travel with you when you go
To that secret place.
I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish
I wish upon a star
I wish upon a wishing well
I wish upon a charm.
I wish upon a talisman
A stone, a bone, a ring. 
I wish I could know more and know
A bit of what you think.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Poem: "Our Films"

I showed you Nick Nolte
And you showed me a leopard seal. 
What do these things mean? 
What were we saying between the lines?
My film was of a painter who loves too hard, is crazed
And yours was of a top predator that was nurturing nonetheless. 
What were we saying between the lines (if we were saying anything at all)
When we recommended these films to each other? 


Monday, May 27, 2019

Poem: "And So Another Day Passes"

And so another day passes
And another day goes
And another one passes
And another goes.
And a minute makes two
And two of them four
And before you know
It’s out the door.
And another week on
And another week goes
And another day passes
And another day goes
And somewhere out there
Your lovely heart pumps
Thumps and thumps
Your lovely heart thumps.
And another day passes
And you make your way home
Down sad city streets
Of cobblestone
And bending forward
So much on your back
You make your way home 
You make your way back
And your lovely heart pumps
For what I don’t know
And another day passes
And another day goes.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Poem: "Panhandler in the Train"

When the money does not fall out as quick
As you'd like it
And lips stay pursed
And purses clutched, 
And screeching wheels is all you hear
After your appeal, 
I just hope my little smile does
Something like a dollar would
And I have somehow done some good.

Poem: "A More Serious Look"

A more serious look because responsibility
A more serious look because you know
A more serious look because of an ability 
To kill things or help them grow
A more serious look because you’ve shown
You’re not on training wheels anymore
And you have the control to let things go:
You’ve been through this before. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

"Happy Birthday" song

At a big intersection near my old apartment building here in Hamburg, there used to be several traffic signs in the shape of an arrow, each of which pointed in a different direction. One of the signs announced that downtown was south. Another sign said that a small town, Wedel, was west. But the sign that would often grab my attention when I would walk by was one that pointed east and said "Berlin."

This particular sign stood out to me because when I would walk past it, it would remind me that, in fact, I lived in Europe and that Berlin -- Berlin! -- was only a two-hour car ride away.

It's really easy to forget sometimes that I live in Europe; it's easy to forget how cool that is and how fortunate I am. But whenever I have these sudden realisations, like with the sign, I love it, because during such moments, I'm really able to feel my life, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, I mentions these "Wow, I actually live in Europe" realisations not only because they're interesting, but also because I had another one this morning.

Because today is my birthday -- Yes, yes, thank you, thank you. Oh...you're too kind... -- one my friends sent me a What'sApp voice message in which she sang "Happy Birthday." Fine, OK, but see, this friend of mine is German, and the words, as she sang them, had the sweetest imprint of her German accent on them. And in hearing that accent, I again had to pinch myself. Why? Because this is my life and I live in Europe. Wow.

Thanks for all the good times, everybody. Let's have many more.

--Chad

"Happy Birthday," as sung by my friend.

Chess!!!

It's been a while since I've played chess, but I thought I'd start up again. I'm pretty proud of this win because I was pretty patient and there's a nice rook sacrifice at the end. I'm "new earth" and I have the black pieces.


Friday, May 24, 2019

Pfingstrosen


Here's a funny little occurrence that just happened at the supermarket.

I was at the checkout waiting for my turn when I overheard a small conversation going on between the cashier and the woman being checked out.

The two were talking about the flowers that the woman was buying, “Pfingstrosen,” or peonies, as they're called in English.

When I had first entered the supermarket, you should know, I had thought about buying a small bunch of the “Pfingstrosen” that were on sale but had opted not to at that point.

However, when I heard the cashier and the woman talking about the “Pfingstrosen” and how good they looked, I decided to leave the checkout aisle to run and go get a bunch.

Now here comes the funny party: The moment I arrived at where the peonies were, I heard someone behind me, and that person was the person who had been standing in front of me in line. She had also overheard the conversation between the cashier and the woman and was inspired by it, and decided to run off the line as well to grab a bunch.

After this woman and I got our flowers, we both came trotting back to the checkout line, and as we did so, the cashier and the woman being checked out looked on, laughing and smiling.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Story: "The Pink Shoelaces"

I wrote the following short story, which is true, in the fall of 2006. It needs no introduction. If you knew Jason Butler, you will really appreciate this story. Enjoy. 


“The Pink Shoelaces”
By Chad Smith

            I was about sixteen years old at the time, maybe fifteen. You know what it’s like to be that age: you’re confused, you’ve got a lot of energy and you really don’t know where to focus it. But I managed; we all do, right?
            It was my junior year of high school and I had abandoned my old friends – they were too busy doing drugs. Not for me. I remember I started to dress differently. I always loved art and was creative, but my taste for clothes up until that point had been pretty generic. At fifteen – sixteen? – though, I threw myself headlong into painting, the arts and skateboarding, and it was all reflected in the clothes I wore. I’d draw on my jeans with paint marker or I’d throw on old, random T-shirts and wear silver rings. I didn’t stand out desperately, but I got noticed.
            One weekend around this time, I bought a pair of Adidas: navy ones with white signature stripes on the side. I bought them because I wanted to paint the three Adidas signature stripes different colors. White was too boring. I remember right after having bought the sneakers, I headed back to my house, took out my paint markers and colored the three stripes orange, yellow and red, respectively.
            But something still was missing. 
            The shoes, though livelier, still didn’t look the way I had envisioned. It was the shoelaces. The ones the shoes came with just didn’t fit the look. So I replaced them the next day. The color I decided on, pink, was kind of unusual. I liked it, though. I could care less if anyone thought it was weird or feminine or whatever – I liked these laces. 
            Anyway, wearing these Adidas with the pink laces in science class the next day, I sat there, bored, waiting for the teacher to arrive.
In this particular class, which was Marine Biology, we students didn’t have individual seats. Because most of the work in the course was done with a partner, we sat at desks made for just two people. The person who happened to be sitting next to you, then, by default, was your partner in all the assignments.
            My partner that year was Jason Butler. Jason, a senior, was a friendly, charismatic kid. He was the type of kid everyone knew and wanted to be friends with.
When I was a freshman, I once saw Jason at a house party. Unsurprisingly, at this party he didn’t just mingle like everyone else. Instead, he walked into the master bedroom of the house and decided to jump from its window into a pool two stories below. As he stood there on the ledge, a few people sitting around the pool taunted him, “You won’t do it! You won’t do it!” A moment later, though, those same people were soaked by the giant splash.
            But I digress. Back to the science class. Before I had arrived there that day, some of my old friends had been giving me shit about my pink shoelaces, calling me “twinkle-toes” or whatever. One of my old friends even said I was wearing “Barbie boots.” I could’ve cared less, though. Yeah, but at least I’m somewhat original, I had thought. No, their comments hadn’t bothered me at all – until, that was, I got to class. 
            There, it started to gnaw at me: Who did these kids think they were? They haven’t said anything to me for months, and now they only speak to me when it’s to make fun of me?
I started to get angry. I started thinking about all the times I had done them favors or revealed something personal or simply been a good friend. I felt betrayed.
            When the teacher finally did arrive, he told us to take out our lab equipment. But I was really in no mood to do work after the encounter I had just had. I remember wondering where Jason was. After a couple minutes, though, he finally walked in. He was late and, characteristically, he was cool about it. He walked in with his good friend, Bobby. Funny enough, while the two were taking their seats, they were still flirting with some girls in the hallway, gesturing at them through the window of the class door. After an exasperated look from the teacher, though, they stopped.
            “What do we have to do today?” J.B. asked me. That was his nickname, J.B. “I don’t know,” I told him, “study some fish bones, I guess.” I pointed to the assignment. He turned to me and smiled, “I’m not doing jack. I’m actually gonna try and sneak out of here once everyone gets settled.” I just looked at him and snickered, “Don’t get caught.”   
            However, J.B. didn’t sneak out of class that day. Actually, he sat there the entire period and did his work. At some point – I think it was after he finished the task and was just leaning back in his chair – he noticed my sneakers.
            “Nice shoelaces,” he said. I looked over at him and thought he was joking. But there was no sarcasm there. “Are you serious?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said, “they’re different...I like them.”
             I thanked him and went back to my work. But I took Jason’s comments to heart. He made me feel – with that brief statement – that I was doing something right. He made me feel as if I were on the right track. It no longer mattered what my old friends had said to me: I was coming into my own – with or without them.

* * *

            Junior year of high school came to a close in early June. Summer came and went, and in September I began my first week back at high school as a senior. What a milestone, right?
            One afternoon, after having left my English class to go to math, I noticed a commotion at the end of the hallway. Two girls were crying, and many students were staring at them. Leigh, one of the girls crying, looked in bad shape: her face was a deep red and her eyes were closed tightly, but tears were still escaping,  even falling off her face. Something was desperately wrong.
            Jason was in the E.R; there had been an accident. He and a friend were near our town’s community college, which they had recently begun. Jason had stepped out of the car to cross the street and get a pack of cigarettes, but instead of making it there, a semi-trailer truck slammed into him. The driver attempted to brake, but it made little difference. Leigh was one of J.B.’s good friends, and she had just come from seeing him in the hospital. She said he didn’t even look like himself: the swelling was too severe. Later that day, we heard he was brain dead.
            Jason’s parents, now, were faced with a horrible decision – when to take him off life support.
            I couldn’t believe what was going on. This was it. J.B. wasn’t going to laugh about the whole situation another day. He wasn’t going to recount what had happened in any anecdote about how he had almost gotten hit by a truck. This was it.
            The next day at school, in every corridor, around every turn, there were hushed voices or simply there was silence. Such quiet in the normally bustling halls said a lot about the gravity of the situation. It was as though everyone knew what everyone else was thinking, but no one knew how to make sense of it.
            And then we found out: Jason’s parents took him off life support that morning.

* * *

            I didn’t go to the funeral, but I wish I had. Although I was never that close to J.B., I wish I could’ve gone and said goodbye to the kid who made me feel a little stronger during a vulnerable time. It was crazy, after the funeral I heard of a few tiffs between groups of students, arguing about who had more of a “right” to be upset and who didn’t have any “right” at all. People were already saying that some underclassman saw the ceremony more like a social event. I don’t think that’s true. People were upset and were just looking for someone or something to blame.
            It’s weird to think back to that time, you know? It’s weird to think I had been friendly with J.B. during his final year. I’d like to think that his spirit lives on, but who really knows. One thing’s for certain, though: Jason, and what he said to me that day in Marine Biology, left me with an impression that will be with me for a long time – forever maybe.

###

Poem: "Like You Had Nothing Invested in Me"

Like you had nothing invested in me.
Like I was a vacant lot.
Like I was a taken man. 
Or a parking spot. 

Cool you were, observer-like,
Full of wonderment.
In awe of how my life went on,
As if we’d never spent 

The time we did, in places where
I kissed your mouth and grabbed your hair,
Moved you deep, as you moved me
In places where the eyes don’t see. 

As if this were the truth.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Poem: "That's Why It's the Heart"

That’s why it’s the heart
Because you don’t fucking know
This ain’t the fucking Internet
You don’t wear it like clothes. 
You don’t know it and won’t
Hold it or see
Examine it like 
Appraising a ring. 
It’s the fucking heart, you fool
Some kind of strategy
Some kind of fucking darkness
Some good old mystery. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Poem: "Why Do You Want to Kill Me?"

Why do you want to kill me?
 What did I do to you
 For you to murder me?
 For you to want me through?
 I hear the rain tap, tap my roof
 A soundtrack for my thoughts
 About the murder at your hands
 And all the damage wrought
 By actions took, a hangman's noose
 A whetted blade, a bat:
 The murder of myself by you
 No chance to run it back. 
 No chance but now to listen to
 The tap, tap, rain, tap, tap
 About a life that I once had
 The one I can't get back.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Poem "When Nostalgia Starts to Pull at Me"


When nostalgia starts to pull at me
And I question who I am
And I question how I got here 
And question all I am, 
I hope that you'll be thinking too 
Of who you are and we 
Feel the same sun on our face 
And feel the same soft breeze. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Poem: "Totally Lacking"

It was all charm and no substance
It was frigging nuts.
It was frigging Mickey Mouse
Or Donald Duck. 
All charm and no substance
Totally lacking guts.
Totally lacking substance
Totally lacking love. 

Poem: "Beautiful Bird"

There's a bird that perches on the roof of my apartment house and sings every morning. Even though I can't be sure that it's the same bird that's out there every day, I somehow feel like it is. At any rate, this bird's tune is wild. It's a really full tune, which goes all over the place -- it warbles here, warbles there, then hits all kinds of these high notes. This morning, still a bit sleepy, I had to close my window to dampen the tune, but normally, I love it. Anyway, I wrote the poem below about this bird and its song. Enjoy.

Beautiful bird
What are you saying? 
Are you praying? 
Or are you singing
Only for the love of it
Which sits on another branch?


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Poem: "A Smile In"

In every picture
A smile in
You had
I swear.
I know.
In every picture, though. 
So...

I don't know. 
In every picture, in every picture. 
I still don't know. 

But I will say
Your smile is a gift
Your smile is a light
Your smile rivals smiles of
The nicest smiles I
Have seen and I have seen a few
Beautiful and bright.
Your smile is a gift from God
Your smile is a light. 

Poem: "If We Have Dreams Like That"

If we have dreams like that than it
Makes only sense that they
Have dreams like that as well because
It takes a pair to play. 

If we have dreams like that than it
Makes only sense they too
Have dreams beyond the arc of what
A pair’s allowed to do. 

Taboo are dreams
That touch the seams
Of hearts that can’t expand
And can’t imagine life beyond
The edges of their hands.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Poem: "It's Static How They Live and Work"

It's static how they live and work
Practically alive 
Practically 
They earn that cash 
With their nine-to-five
Static how they live their lives 
In line at lunch outside 
Life is passing by but they 
By such terms abide. 

I am one of them, I am 
But also something more 
The ocean is inside of me 
Some volcanic core 
Smoulders dark and angry like
A lover's heart it burns
Seasick with the motion yet
Boarding in a storm
A ship to ride the waves in rain
At night, at dusk or dawn
I’ll always be dynamic 
Never static, never bored. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Poem: "Bus"

You're exiting the front
Causing mayhem
A better plan, you should
Have thought about
Before you took
Your backwards route.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Poem: "When You Don't Read My Poems..."

When you don’t read my poems
I’m sad.
A day without your view
Definitely makes me un-glad. 

I might as well write letters to
The dead, I know, I see
Still, your view, honestly 
Means very much to me. 

I speak to you like someone dead
I’d love to tell you this…
When I’m in gift shops, too, I see
I see these little gifts

Gifts I know you’d like that go
With things you have, your stuff
Gifts I’d like to get you but
That’d be too much. 

So I write you here, I write you and
Am sad when you don’t see
The poems that I write, OK
This pretty, one-way speech. 

Poem: "What Do You Think About Before You Go to Sleep?"

What do you think about before you go to sleep?
What do you think about before you go to sleep?
I asked you first.
I asked you first like so many times.
But all I got were nursery rhymes
A cat’s cradle of truths and lies
Laughter canned and lame laugh lines. 
All I got were nursery rhymes.
What do you think about when you close your eyes?
A veritable world of beautiful dreams
I would have liked to have seen 
With you but I 
Was only given nursery rhymes.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Poem: "Your Menagerie of Lovers"

Am I just part of your menagerie of lovers?
Something formless like the sea?
Full of colors, lacking form, not logical or clean?
Am I just part of this menagerie you keep?
Undercover, under covers, cloak and dagger, dark and deep?
Diving in and out of it, your sad menagerie 
Disappearing acts until 
Oh, remember me? 
How funny is it that we here
Again each other see! 
You can keep your cloak and dagger and
Your sad menagerie.

Poem: "I've Resigned Myself"

I've resigned myself
Declined myself 
Accepted it and know
Some things are too entrenched, so I 
Best just let it go. 

Cause I've bind myself 
Entwined myself
And find myself each time 
Right back where I started, knelt 
At the starting line. 

Poem: "Beautiful with You"

Beautiful with you
Walking there.
Beautiful with you
Evening air.
Beautiful with you
Laugh and laugh
Hold my hand
Hold little back
Beautiful with you.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Poem: "When I Saw Them It Was Strange"

When I saw them it was strange
 She looked the same
 And looked at him
 The same way that she had
 The night they showed up there.

 You remember that night, right?
 After all that we had said
 When he entered there with her
 You barely nod your head.
 I asked you if you knew who
 She was and you said no
 But she looked at him intently
 I guess that's how it goes.

 But circle back to Monday
 When I saw the two again
 Drinking coffee, smoking and
 Sitting on a bench.
 He made eyes with me and then
 Looked away real quick
 But from his eyes I got a lot
 If you will, this "Blick."

Strange it was I have to say
The way she looked at him
Just like the night you saw him and 
Barely nod your head.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Poem: "Look at the Moon"

Look at the moon and choose a side. 
You see it high there in the sky? 
I know your heart, I know your mind. 
I know when temperate spring days come, 
You spend your time absorbing sun. 
But when the sun goes down at night, 
I know you fix your eyes up high. 
I know you watch the moon up there 
And even offer up some prayers. 
I know you do cause I do too.
So this is all I ask of you: 
Look at that moon and think of me 
And say a prayer or two, 
And in return I'll clasp my hands 
And say a prayer for you.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Poem: "If Only You"

If only you saw me in another way
In another environment
What would you say? 
In a staircase, in a field, let's say. 

You'd see me in another way. 

The everyday, it skews your view 
Of what you think you know or knew. 
You see me as a piece, all right 
Of some machine you do not like. 

But if you saw me new, alone 
Not downtown and not at home 
You'd see me in another way 
And then perhaps the dawn would break. 

Poem: "Starving for Love"

This one has a nice inherent melody to it. Enjoy.

Starving for love, starving for love
Starving for touch
Starving for hugs
Starving for lips
Pressed against mine
Starving for candles
Candles and wine
Starving for stars
Twinkling in eyes
Starving for love
Starving for life. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Poem: "Women Have Magical Feelings"

Women have magical feelings 
They can feel things magically. 
They can feel things that they feel and can
Feel things they can't see. 
Women know when you've said no 
They know when you've said yes. 
It's more than what they think, they know
It's more than just a guess. 
I presume it's like the wind through grass
This magic they possess 
Like how a mother bird just knows 
How to build a nest. 
Women have this feeling strong 
It comes from deep inside. 
Which makes it really hard to lie
And really hard to hide.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Poem: "We Know Each Other"

Longing, elonging, 
Contracted. 
Longing, elonging, 
Subtracted.
Contracted like a bug, 
These things called feelings, 
This thing called love. 
Longing, elonging, 
Stretching, 
Wretched, wicked, hard. 
A-thief-in-the-night-like brutal and 
Leaving me with scars. 

But you, you...
You can go straight thru, 
Straight thru on the tube:
You need not even stop! 
Hop on at your home and then 
By your work hop off. 
Every day you ride the one 
That people take when they 
Want to leave this city, bye! 
Want to leave this place. 
Every day you take the one, 
It's near the spot we met. 
Remember what you said to me?
Remember what you said.
"Yes, we do," I'll say it here, 
I've got a place no other. 
We do in fact, we do in fact, 
In fact we know each other. 

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Poem: "The Moment Chooses Me"

I don't choose the moment
It chooses me
Swept away by rolling waves 
To the stillness of the sea 
Eyes shut tight 
Fingers crossed 
Allowing things to be 
Allowing things I can't control 
To wash and carry me
Into waves of waters warm 
Beneath the rolling sea
The moment I don’t choose, oh no
The moment chooses me. 

Poem: "Bloodless"

It seemed kind of bloodless to me
To me it seemed kind of bloodless 
Sure, it seemed to function 
As often do machines 
Bloodlessly, they move 
Churn and do their thing 
Bloodlessly machines 
Know what part to play 
But things don't have a heart
Can't feel, can't love, I pray 
You start to see these things 
As unfeeling as they are 
Only then you'll know what love is and
Get to know your heart. 

Friday, May 03, 2019

Poem: "Morning Dew"

Sometimes when I'm writing, I'm lucky enough to hit that sweet spot. This was one of those times, I think. I hope you enjoy the piece, too.

Another day
Another not you 
No morning honey or 
Morning dew.
Another empty letter box 
Nothing left to lose
No morning honey 
No morning dew. 

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Poem: "I Thought It Was Something"

"I thought it was something we were doing together."
I did too 
With you 
In any weather
Just name your price 
It's only right.

This one's warmer. 
This one's light. 
This one's sexy. 
This one's nice. 

"I thought it was something we were doing together."
I did too 
But black's not blue and blue's not white 
Just one chance and 
Just one life. 
Wisely choose
The one you'll have 
As I'm not sure 
They'll have it back. 

But, right, you thought it was something we were doing together 
In any weather, in any storm
Early evening, early morn'
Every night, before the dawn 
1, 2, 3, just you and me
Easy, easy, easy, wrong. 

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Poem: "The Great Beyond"

It's cool, yeah, but it's faint, yeah 
I don't feel it very hard.  
It's like looking high up in the sky 
And not seeing any stars. 
It's faint, hard, hard-hearted, but 
The life I have to live  
With my gut packed up, a kettle ball 
And memory like a sieve. 
It do not mean a thing, it don't, at least 
Not what I want 
Just looking for some answers from 
The friggin' great beyond.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Poem: "She Showed You"

What more do you want from her? 
She showed you with her hips 
She showed you how she dipped 
She showed you with her lips.
What more do you want from her?
She showed you with her smile 
It wasn't any smile 
She showed you with her gifts. 
What more do you want? 



Monday, April 29, 2019

Poem: "So Thank You"

You say you don't know how to describe it. 
You say there's something between 
Heaven and earth that moves our spirit
Like the wind it moves unseen. 

 I agree with you, what you suggest 
 A world of mystic things 
 I feel it as I feel the air 
 Displaced by butterfly wings. 

 So thank you, thank you, thank you 
 Take this thank you, don't look back. 
 Here's to all our inside glances and 
 All the breakout laughs.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Poem: "I Guess That's Something for Her Vault"

I guess that’s something for her vault
Locked away and deep
Deeper than the cellar goes
And where the dead sleep. 

It will not get the shredder
It will not get the hearth
I guess that’s something for the vault
The chambers of her heart.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Poem: "Fire with Fire"

You have to fight fire with fire.
It's sad but true.
Fighting fire with fire
No choice but to. 

When sentiments are raw
And Jaws is swimming 'round
You gotta stamp your feet
And hold your ground.

You gotta look the beast
Deep right in the eyes
Whack it on its nose
The advantage of surprise. 

Do this and I tell you 
The fiend will come to you
And say it was its fault
And want to start anew. 

But you gotta look the beast
Deep right in the eyes
And fight it with an element 
Its known all its life. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Poem: "Another Day"

Another day
Another dollar
Another tie
Another collar
Another hope
Another dream
Sight unseen 
Aching feet
And aching back
Another tic
Another tac
Another chance
To say I care
And at a pretty girl
To stare
Another round 
Another go
Another reason 
To say no
Another day 
Another hope
Another love
Another joke. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Winning Shot

This shot by Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers to close out the playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder is truly the stuff that dreams are made of. Even if you don't like basketball, you'll like this video.

Poem: "Open Heart Surgery"

Open heart surgery 
She just had. 
Open heart surgery 
It's that bad. 
Open heart surgery
Open up the heart 
Put it on the table 
Hit restart. 
Clear the tubes of food and
Clutter, plaque and grime. 
Open heart surgery
Be mine.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Poem: "No Day Shall Erase You From the History of Time"

"No day shall erase you from the history of time" 
These are words I really like
Powerful, concise 
Powerful and right.
In vain sometimes our lives do feel 
It's hard to know what's right and real 
At times like these I like to say 
Words of wisdom, words of praise
Words of solace, words of rage:
No day can take you back for good 
You are, you went, you will, you stood.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Essay of Mine on French Food


Below is a pretty cool essay I wrote in 2015 and tried to get published on a website called "France Revisited." The editor there said the piece wasn't for him. His loss. Enjoy. 

I’m a picky eater. Always have been. As a child, I took the cheese off my pizza and mostly ate olives during Thanksgiving dinner. But on a trip to France this summer, I was forced to overcome my pickiness and I’m glad I did.

Not only did I wind up enjoying much of the French food I ate, I learned how rewarding trying new foods can be and how much food can enhance the enjoyment of a trip.

My path to food enlightenment really began in Nancy, at the parents’ house of my girlfriend’s friend. My girlfriend and I were traveling from Hamburg, Germany, to Annecy, where we were going to go camping, and the parents of my girlfriend’s friend had invited us to stay with them for a night to break up the long drive.

Because I had only briefly met my girlfriend’s friend’s parents once before, I wanted to make a good impression on them, which meant that during this stay at their house, I would have to eat all the food they served me, even if I didn’t want to.

And so, that was exactly what I did. When dinnertime came and I was served a piece of Quiche Lorraine, a local specialty with onions, cheese and spicy bits of ham, I ate it, even though I didn’t like any of the ingredients.

When the Pâté Lorraine came out -- a flaky pastry stuffed with cold ground pork and veal -- I gobbled it up as well, even though I definitely prefer pizza to pâté.

And I did the same with the éclairs and the Religieuses, even though custard had always turned me off.

Though by no means was I a fan of French cuisine after our departure, I did notice something. I was less reluctant to try the French foods my girlfriend bought at several supermarkets we stopped at as we drove down to Annecy.

I had a bite of the readymade crème-brûlée my girlfriend offered to me. I didn’t refuse a few forkfuls of the shredded carrots in lemon Dijon vinaigrette.

I had become a little less picky, it seemed.

But the magic really happened when we arrived in Annecy, because that’s where I actually began to crave and savor French food.

Now, Annecy is a charming town in the French Alps. It has a fantastic turquoise lake that’s surrounded by mountains; it has walking trails, a delightful old city, even a castle. But, really, there’s not all that much to do in Annecy, especially if you’re camping, so most of our days revolved around our meals.

And, considering my new appreciation for French food, I’m glad they did.

Sitting on a bench in front of an old stone church with towering craggy mountains behind it seemed like such a more delightful experience while eating a flaky quiche stuffed with fresh salmon. Looking up at the hang gliders in the sky seemed so much more interesting while savoring the creamy, brain-tingling-good custard filling of patisserie-made Religieuses. Taking a break from swimming in the lake seemed like such a more luxurious experience while drinking champagne from Champagne.

Though I was clearly making strides in getting over my pickiness, I hadn’t realized just how much progress I had actually made until two separate occasions near the end of the trip.

One was when my girlfriend and I sat down to have a tiny picnic with the food that we had bought at an open-air market in Annecy’s old city. Instead of rejecting my girlfriend’s suggestion that I try a piece of the sausage she had bought, which looked very fatty and thus unappealing, I had a bite. And I’m glad I did. The sausage was like a flavor bomb of herbs and spices. It was so good that I kept on eating it even after I saw it contained many white chunks of pure fat.

And the other moment was when I was at a restaurant in downtown Annecy and was eating a salad. The salad was pretty basic -- with mixed greens, veggies and a light cream sauce -- but it had slices of hardboiled egg in it. Hardboiled egg was a mountain I had never climbed. But I tried it. And I actually liked it.

And so it went for the remainder of the trip. I kept on eating different foods and gaining more and more confidence. I was so proud of my new eating habits that at one point I told a French man at my campground about my pickiness and how excited I was that I now liked French cuisine. He said he was happy for me but quickly asked me if I knew that French cuisine varied greatly depending on the region of France one was in. “No, I actually  didn't know that,” I said. He smiled and went on: “These quiches here in eastern France are good, but I’m from Bordeaux, and in Bordeaux, we don’t eat that much quiche. We like duck. We love our foie gras.”

Admittedly, my first reaction was,  "Duck? No thanks. " But if I’m ever in Bordeaux, I’ll order it, or at least try a piece. My days of removing the cheese from pizza, I can now safely say, are well behind me.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Poem: "Do You Remember?"

Do you remember "two stars on the breast"? 
Do you remember "two kisses on the eyes"? 
Do you remember laughing long in bed? 
Before we shut the light? 
Do you remember that one phrase? 
“Under the indifferent sky”? 
Two kisses on the breast
Two stars on the eyes. 

Poem: "I Don't Know What You Think About"

I don’t know what you think about
I don’t know what you dream
I don’t know what you ponder
I don’t know what you think. 

You must have some thoughts
About the ordeal
I know you think
I know you feel. 

I know your mind 
Is fertile ground
I knew you then
A bit less now.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Poem: "The Sunlight is a Spiritual Bath"

The sunlight is a spiritual bath 
And I squint my eyes 
I tilt my head, the birds up high 
Dive and glide and sing their song
Sing their song like nothing's wrong 
I feel the sunlight on my face 
Its grace, its warmth, its love and strength
I feel my body come alive 
And forward look 
And squint my eyes.

Poem: "Think About Change"

Think about change in the frame of when you die.
Will you take change with you 
To the sky? 
Nickels, quarters, pennies, dimes,
The silver dollars on your eyes.
Can stuff you have in pockets deep 
Help you buy a better sleep? 
Or is change in the afterlife 
Like how a puddle dries? 
From water first to vapor then 
To clouds up in the sky.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Poem: "Half Dead People"

Half dead people hang about the train station
Looking for salvation.
It doesn't matter who they were
In another life 
They might have thrived
Now they just want to survive.
Bleeding hands and cracked up skin
Stinking body, scraped up chin
Coats with holes and coats with dirt
A veritable world of hurt.
The half dead people hang around
Run aground and running out
Of time, their bodies breaking down,
Cigarette butts on the ground.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Poem: "She Called Me Beauty"

She called me Beauty
Until she didn't. 
Good riddance.
She called me Beauty 
Until no more.
The door. 
She called me Beauty, she called me friend 
And in the end she stopped 
Like a swimmer halfway home 
Or the hands of a clock.