Uncle Bob's Words

Words, poetry, stuff like that

Empty Hoppers

As we drove along, we saw the lines of hoppers in the yards.

Empty hoppers that should have been chock full of coal.

Now sitting idle waiting to be moved to busier yards.

And Southwest Virginia watches them go.

It’s the economics of the industry, it’s said.

Sitting on hundreds of years of coal, the miners wait,

Made redundant by natural gas and automation.

For over a hundred years, coal brought good times.

Now, for some, only the opioids do.

There are not enough pages in the Book of the Damned

To inscribe the names of the ones who did all this –

Who took the black and paid no price.

The ones who used bullies and bullets

To keep their dollars squeezed out of lives.

And then pass on to let Great Pharma

Glide in on soft woozy painkillers, legal,

By prescription by the doctors, often desperate

To give their patients some ease and comfort.

Leave it to life to make the bad ones good

And the good ones left with few options

And the poor out there alone;

Just them and the coalmine kudzu.

Dad

I am standing at the ledger stone on my father’s grave.

I had never seen it before.  I am 70 years old.

He died when I was 10 years old.  Took 60,

60 years for me to go the 65 miles to here.

 

I had been scanning and cleaning up old fampix

When I was intrigued by one shot of dad;

One of him and mom taken the month I was born;

Dad looks amused at whoever is holding the camera.

 

I thought I’d feel something standing here, but, no.

Too far away, too long ago; I wasn’t imprinting well.

Only vague memories, maybe just phony shadows.

“’Bye, dad,” I said and quietly walked away

 

Good Night

I remember my mother standing at the window, looking out

At the trees waving in a cold wind and a light flaking of snow.

“A good night to sleep,” she’d say.  And, sure, it was.

Under blankets. Safe and warm. Even now,

Every once in a while, when in winter’s grip, I think,

“A good night to sleep.”  It’s that sleep grows fragile

As I age and ache and really need to get up to pee.

Even then, sliding into the residual warmth again,

I sleep a good night.  Good night.

Hapax

Perhaps the Word of God is a hapax legomenon

Waiting for us in the dark of the night,

The kiss of the wind as it sighs by our ears.

The one Word, only one, only once, a hapax

In time and space, anchored there and strong.

All around it flows the else, always moving

To the beginning at the end of the end.

The Word just waits.

We’ll find it.  We’ll say it.

And nothing will happen.

We’ll say the word again, louder.

Now it’s no longer a hapax.

God has moved on.

Sheet Music

Sheet music.  That’s what we called it.

The enthusiastic and athletic love we made

In those heady early days. Good days all,

Even with those satin sheets that kept

Sliding us off the bed.

Slide in

Slide out

Sheet music.

Incense

Incense gets me every time.  Not the crappy shit

From the craft stores.  Begone, cherry and vanilla!

Sandal, patchouli, Nag Champa scents.

They make me comfortable, at rest and

Call back memories of my so dazzled 70s.

The headshops and meditating and those

Small rooms with many rugs and pillows

To recline on high and in love, quietly.

UFOs and Aliens

Q: What attracts UFOs?

A: Strong body odor.

Q: Have aliens contacted us?

A: Yeah, and speaking of body odor…

Q: Did they give us any technology?

A: Krispy Kreme donuts.  You’ve heard of them?

Q: Why do UFOs have blinking lights?

A: Aliens enjoy variety.

Q: Have aliens abducted humans?

A: Yes, but they consider us boring.

Q: Have they done all those animal mutilations?

A: They say, “Yuk!”

Q: Did aliens build ancient sites?

A: No, they’re more, er, artistic.

Q: None at all?

A: Well, they love wine.  They were encouraging.

Q: Wine?

A: And grass.  Remember those flashing lights?

Q: Are they stil  around?

A: Yeah, they saw a movie…

Q: What movie?

A: “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”

Q: What’s up with that?

A: They thought it was a comedy.  They’re out in Hollywood now.

Q: How do you know all this?

A: I googled it.

The Fine Winter Coat

My mother was small, four feet eleven on a good day,

Made smaller by an aging spine.  When she was younger,

She made her own clothes, better to fit into, but shoes,

That was another matter and a good winter coat, forget it.

So, when my brother and his feckless wife breezed through;

He taking her to study for a new career in New York,

She told mom that she’d bring her a fine new coat

That would fit just right. Mom eagerly believed her.

Then, six months later, just before Christmas time,

They came sailing through going back to Nashville.

Mom was excited.  She eagerly awaited the gift

She knew was coming.  The new coat, the warm coat.

And they gave her a sweater.  A dumb damn sweater.

Mom was older then and the disappointment showed

So clearly that the heat drained away from me.

Betrayed.  Like a kid under the Christmas tree

Looking askance at, not a doll, but some socks.

My brother saw it, too, but his wife nattered on

About New York and so forth and so on.

My brother tried to jolly mom along, but, no.

It was done and they left and mom almost cried.

I hurt for her hurt.  But, I thought, that’s what

You get for believing and for being that trusting.

Years before, when mom asked two skeevy men

To rent a truck and take it and me to another town

To pick up all the family furniture we’d stored there

When we moved.  They brought me back but, then,

Left with the furniture.  All of it.  All of her life.

Later, the policeman, kindly, but truthfully, told her

“You were very gullible, ma’am.”

 

 

Untitled

So, you spend an hour or so wondering if a certain seme

With a hook for a hand was fascinated by a certain uke Peter.

Weird, no?  Well, Barrie’s marriage didn’t go very well, did it?

And you figure if something like that is a back story, then

Go a little deeper, so to speak, and discover a matrix

Lying on a substrate of, what?  What is a substrate

For a matrix?  Quanta with a plot?  Dark drama?

And just where does dear Wendolyn fit in?  As a beard?

There you go down another rabbit hole as a gravity well

Written by a man who liked to take pix of poppets.

What fun.  What fun that we can do this.  Wow.

Trouble is, change the characters, rename the names,

Make the sword that pierces Peter a metaphor meant

To show that Right can prevail and keep the world

From some young-appearing person who just would

Never grow old, not any more, not any more.

That’s something entirely different.

Art

I’m thinking about photography and about art.

A friend once told me that photography was art.

This was when film required a certain expertise.

Still, I quietly kept from laughing in his face.

The art of an artist is the result of work –

A lot of work for a really good artist. True.

Eye to brain and brain to fingers holding

A pencil or a brush with intent to create.

Intent to create, not content to fail, but often do.

There is no lipstick that can make a photograph

A work of art.  Like, dude, there’s no work there.

 

(this webpage gives lie to some of the things I wrote above, but it’s a good article.)

Pandora

The wife of Epimetheus, the fair and curious Pandora,

Unlocked and opened Zeus’s vengeful wedding gift

And released Sadness, Illness, Poverty, Lechery,

And their horrid cohorts onto mankind.  Alas.

Yet, the last one out of that evil box, the last one out

Was Hope.  Someone, I know not who, considered

That something good.

I hope it is.

My Friend Heterodoxy

You will notice, if you look carefully, that none

Of the resplendent, swaggering suits in the news lately

Had a more plainly dressed person trailing close behind

Whispering, “Respice post te. Hominem te memento”.

Roughly translated

“Look ahead, you doof (not in the original Latin), bear in mind

You will die.”

As I grow closer to my expiration date, whatever that is,

The lie grows more apparent, the scrim thinner, the light brighter.

There’s just not a whole lot of anything there.

I will not let the media feed me.

I will not let the myths beguile me.

I’ve seen what they’re all getting up to:

Make lots of money.  Get on TV.  Be “real”.

Meet my good friend Heterodoxy.

He’s foxy.

And he’s got good eyes.

You and Me

You and me.  yeah.

That was a song that played

A long time ago.

The words have faded in my mind

And the melody is just a ghost.

I still have the pictures, though.

Could I recall the lyrics

Bring forth the melody

I could make a music video.

.ghost?

It was a fast run to Gate City in a new tbird

  1. The top down, Kay and Mom and me.

I’m in the back seat.  I’m only 10.

Even in Morristown, Gate City was the place

Where you went to get liquor.

I was along for the ride.  Dad died that year.

I don’t know if this was before or after,

But the memory does not feel sorrowful.

It’s like a five second video clip. I wish

I could save it and open it in Elements

To hear the audio, to slow the video down.

I don’t know the file extension for ghosts, though.

Not Lonely. Solitary.

First, I wanted sex, then a relationship. I had both.

After that, I lost interest.

To paraphrase George Thorogood –  when I’m alone,

I prefer to be by myself.

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