Jonny Appleseed

I work out east on the south fork of Long Island. It’s about an hour commute, door-to-door. My wife, to make sure I eat something during the day, will put together a lunch for me that will include a piece of fruit. Otherwise, if I ate anything during the day, it would be something like cookies or a brownie, because I have absolutely no will to eat well. And I would never pack or eat a piece of fruit of my own volition, because, again, no will to eat well.

That it is autumn, I’ve been getting apples in my lunch pack. Apples are fine covered in caramel and maybe possibly in hot apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But I hadn’t eaten a whole, unadulterated apple in some time until my wife started sending me off with one. And the only reason I started to eat them was because I had nothing to eat on the long ride back, and an apple was slightly better than nothing.

After a few days of eating apples on the ride home, I’ve actually started to like them. There are hundreds of varieties, and getting to know the different qualities of each has been deliciously educational. And throwing out the apple cores has been fun. There’s a lot of wooded areas I drive through during my commute, and instead of holding on to the apple core for the remainder of my trip, I fling the core out into one of the wooded areas. I guess, technically, I’m littering, but I’ve thought of it as providing the start of a grove of wild apples for future generations all throughout the east end. I’m the Jonny Appleseed of Sag Harbor.

But I probably deserved it when I went to throw an apple core out and opened the wrong window, causing the apple to smash into the closed front passenger window and create a mess of apple fragments on the passenger seat. I am very lucky to have not broken the window, now streaked with dried apple juice. Maybe I missed an errant seed during clean up and will soon start a grove of apple trees in my Toyota.

War Is a Foreign Currency

War is a foreign currency
When I see it, I know intellectually
There are others that carry it
Though ugly and grotesque
Funny papers and garish hues

But I can’t see what it is good for
I can’t spend it
I don’t know how to get rid of it
So it gets stuffed in a shoebox
The memory uncomfortable to hold

It isn’t an asset
When it crosses borders
The locals hate it
What good is it?
A banker may know

War is foreign currency
I have no way to balance out
The loss I will take
When it’s given back to me as change

Originally published 20 Mar 03

Tabula Rasa

Because destruction is my ken
and fire cleanses
Because mistakes were made
and warnings ignored
I clean my slate

Absence is not loneliness
There is nothing…
and that is my canvas

Starting from scratch
is better than sinking lower
in a morass of malaise

Absence is not escape
There is nothing…
and that is my inception

Because evolution is too slow
and entropy reigns
Because time won’t stop
and death takes it all
I clean my slate

Originally published 26 December 2008

Packing material

I was fixing our dishwasher (sorry ladies, I’m spoken for) and had to order a replacement for a broken part. Normally, I use Sears Parts Direct because they hadn’t been too expensive, and they’ll carry parts for my ten year-old Maytag. But the broken part, a little piece of plastic called the impeller, was over seven dollars through Sears, and I thought that was a bit much. I searched the Googs again, and I found the part through PartSelect for a buck cheaper. I also ordered a filter, which was $5 cheaper from PartSelect than through Sears, and shipping was about $2 less. So, good deal, I thought.

And to confirm the good deal, I ordered the parts on Wednesday night, they got the parts to FedEx on Thursday, and, although shipping was FedEx Ground, I received the parts on Friday. (I love New York—almost all ground shipping still gets here within 1–2 days.) The parts were as ordered, so PartSelect has confirmed me as a faithful customer.

So no real complaints there, but I had to laugh when I saw the box that these two plastic pieces, totaling no more than $20, were shipped in. (Cat and table for scale-the box was over four feet high.)

Indy inspects a box that was just delivered.

Here’s the exploded view.

The two packages and two dozen air bags that came out of the large box.

And finally with the parts that were shipped. There may have been slight overkill here. The long, white plastic piece is the filter, which is millimeters thick and is installed when connected into a circle.

The packages have been opened to reveal a thin white plastic band and a tiny 2 in wide disk.

Ah! But there was something else in the box:

Indy peers out of the box. How'd he get in there?

As a total aside, the cushiony air bags used for shipping were manufactured by Sealed Air. I was lead developer on their 2011 Online Annual Report! (Sorry fellas, I’m spoken for.)

Where being rational fails

I feel compassion for those who voted against equal rights in North Carolina. I know their vote was wrong and based on prejudice and faulty logic, but I still have compassion for them, because they rationally believed that they were doing the right thing. To many of us in metropolitan areas or with homosexual friends or who are just compassionate people, the vote is astounding. Clearly, rationally, no one should be punished for who they fall in love with. Two rational adults making a decision to merge their lives together should be celebrated, because relationships produce more offspring than just children. Whole families merge and the extended human panoply gets one bit smaller, closer than before; cultures mix and friends are made. What does gender have to do with this? But there are those who believe gender is the overriding factor in relationships as surely as I do not.

And here there are no winners. Obviously, people fighting for civil rights have lost, but North Carolina made a law that was already in effect just a little bit stronger, possibly strong enough to punish heterosexual couples who are not married. Far from protecting the sanctity of marriage, the law codifies it and prevents churches from having their own definitions. Those who strongly support the law see it as a bulwark against sin and modernity, but who declares a wall a victory? They know there is a rising tide against them. They know that history will render the law moot and this battle an aberration. The wall will crumble, but the state will survive.

Why hate these people, then? Why fill ourselves with anger at this loss? The frustration of knowing we are on the right side and that those that would vote against civil rights are doing it for ancient, mistaken beliefs is great, but the frustration on the other side is just as great, because they believe they are on the right side and that those that would allow homosexual marriage are chipping away at the foundations of society.

But wait, I am not getting postmodern here. I do not believe that what is right and what is wrong depends on point of view. I know that granting civil rights, including the ability to enter into a marriage with another consenting adult, is the inevitable progression of any forward society. Once a society grants equal rights to women, something we’re oddly still fighting about, there is no chance to turn the clock back—hinder the clock, yes—but it can never be turned back. Justice and equality will eventually be granted to all people, because when more people have it, compassion for those that do not grows exponentially. Which is why I will endeavor to remain compassionate for those that rail against the future. If I remain compassionate to those I disagree with, I will rationally choose a more inclusive society, instead of futilely attempting to keep people out.

Let’s create something beautiful

Let’s create something beautiful
Today is short, and tomorrow is shorter still
Let’s take our inspiration
That unlocks our imagination
And gives us hope and comfort

Let’s create something beautiful
Because beauty is our goal
And creativity is our gift
We give ourselves to tomorrow
We have vision to make it better

Today, let’s create something beautiful
Let our lives be beacons of joy
Today is short, and tomorrow is shorter still
And there is beauty in everything
And there is beauty in everything we touch

Insubstantiate

The clouds mock
my limited understanding
of fluid dynamics
Twisting vortices
of smoky tendrils
dancing on this windy day

In my backyard
in dramatic fashion
the clouds tumble over my roof
I swear they’re just overhead
I could get on that ladder
the clouds would envelope me
and I would disappear

I remember seeing shapes
when I was younger
in the clouds
I remember animals fantastic
mundane or cartoonish
Now I see fractals
milk in my coffee
and the chance of rain

My head was in there once
dreams of futures
where I commanded fortune
The clouds are barely above my head now
just above the rooftop
I swear they’re just overhead
and I am just six feet off the ground

Song XXIX

Fizzy pop soda
Bubbly bottled brew
Shaken and stressed
Harassed and gassed
With pressure built for two

Rumbly dark cola
Tension twisted too
The cap stays on
With the anger gone
But the bottle’s bursted through

There is no use
no deposit
no excuse
for a bottle bursted through

A month for poetry

October is my favorite month. It’s full of orange and decay and warm spice. We begin to hunker down and get ready to spend time with far-away relatives. It’s a month of poetry and bitter-sweet memories.

To celebrate, I was thinking of writing a poem every day for the month. I tend to peter out of these things, but, you know, I’m forty, it’s about time I followed through with something, what else am I going to do, blah, blah. It’s just some words that take almost no time to put out there. And at the end of the month, I’ll have written half-again of all the poems I’ve written in my life.

So looking forward, I’m going to repost a poem I wrote long ago for this October-eve. It was, of course, written for a lost love and has not aged as well as some of the poems I wrote that had nothing to do with women. Such is life. But this was the first poem that had a cadence that I would unconsciously refine into something a bit sharper, a bit less morose, and a bit more universal. From 1997:

October—and the Sound of It

and I cannot fight this wind
    Our bond breaks
I am gone
separated from the branch
and spiraling down beneath the sky
the world rushes up towards me
and twisting and turning through the breeze
I’m sure that this is the end
but then I land
    Alone
    Soon to be gathered up
and placed within the safety of numbers

This is my fall
    My Autumn
This is my October

remember laughing with me
    About the silly things
    That some considered important
remember holding my hand
    Watching the fire burn in my heart
    And the dying light within my eyes
this is what Fate meant
    For what I let happen
I did not fight that wind

That was my fall
    My Autumn
That was my October

  What causes the Earth to rumble
        is often
            the stillness
                of nothing…