Countdown Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day
What can I say
Four days to go
Hope we get some snow

Cranberries, turkey, oh the dressing
But always first, say a blessing
Pumpkin pie, not ala mode
All this food, stuffed like a toad

Family time, all come together
Always fun, big endeavor
Macy’s Parade, on the tube
Beats playing, Rubik’s Cube

Giving thanks, for everything
Lucky us, so we sing
Backward glances, we recall
Thanksgivings past, good for all

Stuffed we are, at day’s end
On the phone, greetings send
To those not here
We give some cheer

Count the days
Hearts ablaze
Let us cheer
Thanksgiving Day, almost here

In Over My Head

I’m five feet ten inches tall
Average height for an American male
When standing in three feet of water
my head is well above water

When standing in six feet of water
I’m slightly in over my head, and
I can jump up and down, and
bring my head above water

When standing in twelve feet of water
I’m considerably in over my head
Short of floating to the surface
there’s no way to get my head above water

At the bottom of a deep glacier lake
I’m really in over my head
There’s no standing, even for a second
at this unfathomable depth

Clearly, there’s no trouble
understanding any of this
So, why can’t I figure out
when I am in over my head in life?

Why don’t I realize that
when I say yes to 5 work projects
due in the same week
that I am in over my head?

Why do I fail to grasp the insanity
of working twelve-hour days
five days a week, and
two four-hour days on weekends?

Thanks to GE former-CEO Jack Welch
there is a business concept called a stretch goal
which refers to performance expectations
exceeding resources available to reach them

Am I a victim of too many stretch goals?
Have I mistaken myself for a fish
with the ability to breathe underwater?
Gee, maybe I’m in over my head!

Watching My Name is Earl

Made a serious mistake
Watched My Name is Earl last night on TV
Suffered permanent brain damage
from the experience

Know the show?
Hopefully not
It’s a solid hour of sheer lunacy
Craziness beyond description

Not one of the show’s characters
has an IQ above 75
Nothing against Earl, or hillbillies
After all, I grew up in Appalachia

Some experiences require no repeat
Watching My Name is Earl is one of them
Hopefully my brain cells will regenerate
If not, my poetry life may be over

How Important is Sports Really?

Old habits die slowly, if ever
I like sports
Not as much as in my younger years, but
it matters to me
if my favorite teams win or lose

Right now, I’m pissed at myself
Letting sports scores determine my mood
I’m grumpy as hell
It’s the close of baseball season
My team, the Cleveland Indians
lost yesterday to the pathetic KC Royals
How could they?
What were those idiots thinking?

Every game matters, from here on
if the Indians are to win the Central Division
and make the playoffs
Now they face the Tigers
in a bitter 3-game series
Detroit will be loaded for bear to erase
its 4 1/2-game deficit with Cleveland
Grrr…

Intellectually, I know
sports is not that important
Emotionally, I’m a midget
when it comes to sports’ importance
All my high falootin spiritual training is useless
in the face of my well-ingrained
“we gotta win to be happy” life philosophy

Ok, let me get hold of myself
What’s most important in the world?
Our nation is fighting a stupid war in Iraq
The planet is severely environmentally stressed
Millions of people go hungry everyday
Our kids are short shrifted in school
The economy is teetering on recession
These are important issues
Now I have my priorities straight

Shit, what’s this breaking news story?
My high school alma mater lost to Bellaire
by three measily points on Friday
How could they?
Those friggin’ idiots…

Taking Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine to Dinner at Cracker Barrel

Study consciousness
Eventually you’ll encounter Life Divine
Not nirvana itself, but
Sri Aurobindo’s 2,000-page opus
on consciousness and the cosmos

Not light reading any time
Especially not over dinner
at an exit ramp Cracker Barrel
35 miles southwest of Rolla, Missouri
But with a paper on Life Divine due Saturday
The tome was my travel companion

Everything was fine
until an older couple sat down next to me
They size me up, I size them up
They smile, I smile
The woman speaks first
“That there’s some big book”
I reply: “Yes, m’am, it sure is”
We continued studying each other
I hoped she would probe no further

She fires a follow-up question
“What’s it all about?”
I breathe deeply, finally a few words come out
“Well, it’s a religious book”
At this point, her husband jumps in
“Is that right. Too big for the Bible!”
My stomach knots
I’m a gonner if I tell them about Life Divine
I fudge: “It’s a companion text to the Bible”
Their eyes cross at this point

The woman is at me again: “You a religious man?”
What could I say?
“Why yes m’am, I am”
She hisses, showing her missing front tooth
“I just knowed it!”
“Can’t you tell Herb, just lookin’ at him?”
Ole Herb smiles
I count three teeth missing in his mouth
“Yep, I agree Thelma, you kin just tell”
I’m thinking…oh shit, now I’ve really had it

I try to change the subject
“Food’s great here. I had the chicken and dumplings”
“Sure is. Herb and me eats here every Tuesday”
She’s a bulldog, refusing
to let go of the meat of our conversation
“What church you go to?”
Shit, I’m really dead now
Can’t tell them I’m a cross between
a Tibetan Buddhist and a Unitarian
I lie: “Nazarene”

Herb and Thelma look at each other, and
in unison say: “You here for that Nazarene revival?”
“I’m afraid not, just here on business”
Thelma’s back at it
“You always been a Nazarene?”
I fire back: “Sure have. My whole life”
“We’re Pentacostal
Lord’s blessed us with some fine preachers
Hey, you look like an evangelist to me”
This has gone too far
I feel beads of sweat on my forehead

Suddenly my waiter shows up
I think; there really is a God
“Anything else for you sir?”
“No, just my bill, thank you”
The young man hands me my check
I push a twenty his way
telling him to keep the change

Hurriedly I say goodbye to ole Herb and Thelma
They look confused
I feel for them, but
no amount of words
will heal their confusion
We exchange goodbyes
and I’m gone

I get to my car
Oh shit, I left Life Divine
sitting on the table
I rush back into the restaurant
Heading for the table
I see Herb walking my way
waving and screaming
“Hey, you forgot that big religious book on the table”
I thank Herb, praying
he did not open the book
and see the long-haired bearded Sri in his ashram
Herb looks in tact
I’m relieved

Driving back to the motel
the Sri and I resolve ourselves to room service
for the rest of the trip

1 in 13,983,816

$330 million
Last night’s Mega Million lottery prize
Not much to Bill Gates
To most people, a whole lot of money

Like Grandma’s apple pie
four winners, four equal pieces
I’m not one of them, though
I bought 50 tickets, hoping
God would smile upon me
sharing His abundance

1 in 13,983,816, the odds of winning
Only God navigates those betting waters
Odds of marrying a millionaire: 1 in 215
Sounds like a better bet
I didn’t do that either

Life Between Trash Pickups

Tuesday, trash day
Roll the big green dumpster to the curb
Filled, with life’s residual matter
Leftover stuff: corn husks, used tissues, cereal boxes
other unmentionables, revealing how we live

Life happening between trash pickups
Not a glamorous depiction, but realistic
for all consuming and disposing
Curiosity overtakes me…
I lift the green monster’s lid, exposing myself
to dreadful smells, making me wonder
what kind of life I lead

Ancient Near Eastern civilizations had their tells:
Mounds of trash and rubble, built upon
by their future societies
We have stinking landfills; some now larger
than the cities they serve

It frustrates me, we throw away so much
but at this moment, it haunts me even more
life is what happens between trash pickups

Reflections on Rush Hour

I think of those people
trapped, in their Chevys and Toyotas
with their favorite lame radio talk show host
drinking up airwave poison
inching their way through stop and go traffic

A Dalai Lama moment seizes me:
Somebody taught these folks to drive
but forgot to teach them to think
I smirk, but glancing in the rearview mirror
see myself, also suffering
like the fish swimming in the bowl all about me

Each way, an hour or more
Trying to get somewhere
getting nowhere
Due to a bad hair day, their Imus is gone
A victim of self-combustion
But Howard Stern’s still there
interviewing guys, liking to suck women’s toes

My own fog aside, I cringe
watching the Goth chick next to me
engulfed in a thick cloud of cigarette smoke
Barely making out her University Hospitals parking sticker
I wonder, who’d come to her for healthcare
She passes me
I give thanks her window is up

Many, as they drive
sip and guzzle Starbucks grandes
As I reach my exit
a second Dalai Lama moment occurs to me:
Stop and go means something else to them