Saturday, July 05, 2008

i can smell the ocean

i can smell the ocean from my chair
looking up, it isn't there
a peach ripens on the window sill
the clock's approaching quarter 'til

and as i pull the bag from my cup of tea
my mind takes me to places i'd like to be
here, magazines picture my vacation
while outside, birds make their migration

the mast will creak as my chair rocks,
i stir my tea as my ship docks,
with quill in hand, and love sublime,
i'll send this message out of time

corked and floating on ocean's crest
the letter drifts to islands west
at night, moonlight flashes the bottle glass
by day, the jumping dolphin pass

by sooner or later and seagulls
by lesses and greater in wind lulls
by storms and seasons
beyond all reasons

i put my feet up and think of beach
sip my tea, and eat my peach

Friday, July 04, 2008

the finger is the point

we zipped into the parking lot
she shut off the engine
cause she was doing the zipping

"did you see the cut on my finger?"

she extended her arm putting her
hand right in front of my face,
pointing at the large signs
out front of Meijer's Superstore
there were two of them
one read Why Pay More
and the other Photo Lab . . .

"look," she pointed harder
i was looking but i didn't know which one i should . . .

"the cut on my finger"

i looked where she was pointing but couldn't figure what
she was trying to tell me about her finger.
i glanced to see her finger had a little red mark like an
indentation but nothing that . . .

then she began talking about a new housing development
called The Preserve and she said if it was hers she'd call
it The Marmalade
that's when i got out of the car
still looking at the two signs and wondering

as she entered the store
i looked at my own finger
and held it up for her to see
if she'd only looked back

how can i best explain

how can i best explain
the trees and trails
the woods with clean water hills
that i knew in my youth

oh, somewhere there is a partial picture
that shows a wooded area
but it doesn't taste of seasons
it doesn't show the turtles in fall
the thin ice of winter
pollywogs in spring
or sassafras roots in summer

when we were ten we listened to the frogs
in the forgotten pond
we dug forts and swung on vines
walked over the creek on the trunk of fallen giants
our highway was an overgrown remnant of
the old street-car bed
we knew it well, re read it's signs
a garter snake, a portion of broken tie
the occasional bend

i may never mention it again
but hope some day to take you there

Thursday, July 03, 2008

six feet deep and forty-nine years ago

funny how things work
forty-nine years ago
at the time i wrote my first poems
if i came to this spot
where this stage is now
in the amphitheater
i'd have been six feet deep
right under Main Street

back then i wrote
a booklet, thirty-three poems in three days
a rush job, i was a kid
beat poetry

words with rhyme
that go
or not
which is to be
of course
the other way

forty-nine years ago in the first freshman class
at the new high school
we were looking for the future
this was before the Beatles and the Rolling Stones

our house was over there next to the funeral home
and from standing in the middle of the street
i could see straight down to the light house

down by the track
that lone railroad building still standing
is where the telegrapher
Hiney Kensel worked
he always rode a bicycle

across from my house was the old town hall
with a small theater
opera stars and vaudeville teams performed there
1876, i saw that in stone every day

across the street was the post office, then the movie theater, The Ritz, McCormick's Insurance, Enderle's Foodliner
the bank where it is

the Eagles, the Reporter, the Edmar restaurant,
a used car lot, Dirk's Jewelers
Guenzenhauser's Department Store
old Anne Guenzenhauser drove that '35 model A coupe to work everyday

at 217 Main was the dairy
on special occasions i remember Carl Wechter
delivering milk with his old horse and wagon
right down Main Street

Duck Eggs, Hoppy, a lot of the locals with nick names
and Millicent Leib who led the cry
"Please don't tear down our town"

there was a poolhall across the street from Yaylie Lavoe's News Stand
an old timer told me
John Dillinger was in there playing pool
a few weeks before he was shot in Chicago

before the bypass and the turnpike
when vaudeville players like Jack Benny, George and Gracie and W.C. Fields
and baseball teams like the Red Sox with Ted Williams
and the Yankees with Mickey Mantle
drove from Detroit to Cleveland and beyond
they took this street right above us

the Knotty Pine Bar and the Three H Bar
there and there
and there, my dad's bar a block up from the church
they used to say we had more bars than churches

that same year - 1959
our town had it's sesquicentennial, that's a word we all learned
the 150th birthday of our town

Carl Kramp, the Chief of Police told Bill Swoppe
a happy-go-lucky fellow
that they kidded a lot
and who owned the bar next door to my dad's

"There is no place to keep the parading elephants,
so would you keep two small ones?"
they told him my dad would keep two of the larger ones
in his bar
so Swoppe said okay

they played it out a few days

then the Chief of Police was measuring Swoppe's door
and said they would have to cut part of the front wall
so the elephants would fit
Swoppe said, "no way"

the next day the Chief of Police
was measuring the doors of my dad's bar
and they said they'd have to cut the opening
for two large elephants to enter

Swoppe said, "Okay. If Chet is going to have elephants
you can cut my doors too. I'll keep elephants if he will."

in the end no doors were cut for elephants

we had our sesquicentennial parade
on a beautiful clear day

the big parade took three hours and fifteen minutes
with vintage vehicles, horses, wagons, fire trucks from all over
both our police cars, and both fire trucks- big red
and the old blue one
banners, marching bands, drill teams
and gaily costumed tap dancing
cadets, baton spinners
more fire trucks and police cars
plus honoraries, mayors and dignitaries from every village
and farm and orchard in Northern Ohio turning out,
several of the bands played John Philip Souza marches
and oh, how they marched
on and on they paraded,
yes, paraded, not rode,
but walking proudly
right down this street
into history

now from the start of my poetry
it's forty-nine years later
and six feet under
and here we all are
for better or worse
what's done is done
now let's move on to the future

so tell me
do times change
or don't they?

between here and there

between here and there on a lump
on a log, is a frog in a slump
in the dark, in a bog
waiting as the night goes by
holding his mouth open,
hoping for a fly

a little girl frog
sitting near, looking here
and there for a fly
for her friend,
crosses her knees,
smiles and winks at him

he sees her there and makes his noise
she laughs aloud, for she likes little boys,
he calls her near, she hops to him
they speak of ponds and bugs and mud
then she goes back again

back sitting, near, looking
here and there
for a fly for her friend
on a lump, in a bog,
waiting quietly, the happy pair,
just a little between here and there

The form on this one is a bit different as I wrote it for my kids entertainment exactly twenty years ago today, and that would really be an amazing coincidence, but it's not true. I don't know what day of the week or year I wrote it. I'm approximating, and hopefully entertaining. This all came about from Tomc's comment yesterday. I just talked with my daughter and she said it was more like thirty years ago I wrote that one.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

frog vision

desiring to do it right
i didn't want to gamble
training these new frogs
M. said they are the same frogs

i don't know how she's so damn sure
for one thing they're bigger
she said they grow like a tomato
maybe she means they soak up rain like a sponge

anyhow, M. reads quite a bit, like a sponge
so i asked her about f rog vision
is it 20-20
she thought a second
then said: 50-50

well, i put an eye chart out there
it floats
they lie on it
and seem to like it
i'd grade them high
for floatability

their vision is still a question
so even if they grow and
could reach the pedals
i don't think they're ready
for the keys to the car

on the Internet it says they can see clearly
for about six inches
if they can't see any better than that
i'm going to quit waving at 'em

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


instead of chatting squirrels
and the flutter of nesting birds
half awake over coffee i sat
listening to a tap, tap, tap
like a school for shoemakers
and raise my eyes to
look out the window

where, an apple pitch away,
a bunch of young men
with shirts off in the sun
make back and forth up-high shadows
working, replacing the neighbor's roof

now then, here we are
with an event like this
nearly worth half a column
in the thin local newspaper
that comes out every Thursday

lunch out

a small place for lunch
two small room with four TVs
on four different stations

what gives?
are they helping us think
or afraid we'll try it alone

Monday, June 30, 2008


the invention to
educate the world
is making puppets of us
turn it off

if you are not a viewer
look around, you'll agree with
this assessment of the situation
no need for further explanation

Six billion people in the world. You'd think I could find a way to get more than three of them to read a few lines of poetry, but I guess the tube keeps many folks busy. There are 1.4 billion with access to the internet, so a lot of folks are not able to browse the net. And English is not the universal language.
About TV: We were hiking a path in a jungle portion of Guatemala twenty years ago and came upon a tiny village with ten or fifteen straw huts. One had a gas powered generator with the blue light of a TV playing. As we walked by we were looking right through the straw walls and could see people inside watching a soap opera from New York City. That was a memorable and incongruous jungle experience. What are we serving the world?

when i was a kid

when i was a kid and stamps were a nickel
i thought i could get rich
if everyone in the world
sent me a penny

now with six billion people
a penny a piece would net sixty million
i could buy two cars with that
and a couple new suits

take a trip to Hawaii
stay at a nice hotel
eat a good meal, go to a movie
then come home and mow the lawn

You can run, but you can not hide. I was going to call this poem Money Bloggin' and work it around that way, but it turned out to be about how even with wealth your responsibilities remain, so i did the easy, old standard way of using the first line as the name of the poem. In this case it is a poor title, but i was rushing and here it is.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


set up a cool draft, juliano
yeah i'll tell you why i look so beat
it isn't easy, see
there's two new faces on the street

have to approach 'em careful like
start training frogs all over again
you think it's fun? hah!
just when i had those three that split sorted out

and these two are cool, so i'll have to take it slow
let 'em know how it is around here
they were playing hide and seek
and now on the third day they're hangin' out

a minute ago i was out there
we were checking each other out
wait and see, wait and see
here's for the beer, juliano, keep the change