Near 500 words: Ancestors

The woman in the door of the wooden hut stood before Rufus. Her dark hair and her brown eyes were full of life though her life was hard.

Her focus reminded Rufus of the last time he saw his father. It was late at night and the old man sat at his desk, studying a photograph of his father who had been gone some thirty years. There was a light in the old man’s eyes. It wasn’t the light from the table lamp. It was another kind of light. It was the light of memory.

Or was it more? Was it the light of someone who has experienced some piece of the divine in his life? Rufus’ father never spoke of his father.

“Can I have some water?” Rufus asked the woman in the doorway.

The woman smiled. Instead of water, she invited him inside her one-room house. A house that was spotlessly clean. In the corner was an altar to some god or other. He didn’t ask since he knew it would be as rude as asking his father about his grandfather. She brought him a cup of tea and offered him a seat on one of the three wooden chairs.

Rufus took out his camera and pointed to it. “Can I take your photograph?”

The woman blushed, then shook her head yes.

Rufus pointed and snapped several pictures. Then he finished his tea. He thanked her for her hospitality.

It was a brief encounter but not as brief as the night he saw his father studying the photograph of his father.

As he walked up the path away from the woman’s house, he missed his father and his grandfather. Perhaps in another life. Perhaps.

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This Old House

A ceiling above my head
The floor beneath my feet
Four walls around me
This old house moans and squeaks

Shadows paint the walls
Summers and ice cream days
Autumn leaves and Christmas trees
And all love says and doesn’t say

Thanksgivings come and go
Like suns into the sunset
And Christmas Eves too
Pass me much too quick

Standing in this room of mine
A witness of a former self
A ghost who has memories
Of love that is love and so much else

These my memories run
Through my heart like a river
Laughing, dancing and singing
Carrying me into forever

micropoem for the day: joy

I was thinking last night about what heaven must be like. Perhaps it is the accumulation of all the moments I have felt joy. The moment I stuck my head out of my momma and announced to the world, in no uncertain terms, “I’m here.” The moment my mother put me in a swing and pushed and went, “Whee.” The moment I went bike riding with a best friend. The moment we sat on the floor, ate popcorn, and watched “Godzilla”. The moment I read my poem to my class and they applauded. These are just a few, and there are so many.

jump into the air
touch the sky
float back to earth

Older Things

In honor of National Poetry Month, I shall be doing my poetry thing each Sunday in April. 

Older Things
Inspired by the poetry of Jim Harrison


I have of recent years fallen in love with older things:

A bicycle lock key in an old business card box.
Bobby Thomson’s Topp card folded and passed from wallet to wallet.
a Cracker Jack whistle carried on my keyring,
prized like an Olympic Gold Medal.
A poetry book on the window sill,
a laminated red maple leaf bookmarking Tennyson’s “Ulysses”.
Outside the sun. The birds chirp their spring songs.
On a bookshelf nearby my mother’s photograph.
I wish I had known my Mama better.

These are but a few of the older things
gathered in the graveyard of my memory,
a place where things go not to die,
exhibits in a Hall of Fame of Older Things.

I make my way through the exhibitions
like some gondolier along Venetian canals.
Here’s a small black rock a college friend gave to me.
She said it was a meteorite come roaring out of the sky.
I loved her. She had other plans
than marriage. It was the call of an explorer’s life.
In a beat-up wooden box somewhere in a closet
I have letters
she wrote me way back when she was in Antarctica.
Then, like some Michael Rockerfeller, lost in the wilds of the Amazon.
When I received the news, I was off to bed for a week.
Her life a piece of parchment shredded into tears.
She was a Cape of Good Hope,
a Shambhala, a nightingale garden.

The sun sets in the West as I stroll
through the Hanging Gardens of Babylon,

my mind wondering if Nebuchadnezzar was happy.
Did he walk through these same gardens and fall in love
with older things?

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: John Houston’s Last Movie

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The Dead” (1987).

Like so many of you, I have a New Year’s Eve tradition. Come Thursday night this year, I plan on the same ritual I have performed the past ten years or so.

No, it’s not going out drinking with all the amateurs. I stay off the streets ’cause there’s danger out there, Will Robinson. If I am taking to the bottle on New Year’s Eve, I do it at home. But mostly I stay off the booze, except for a little of the bubbly.

I don’t sacrifice a chicken or howl at the moon either. Although the howling-at-the-moon has occurred to me. It would give some competition to those blasting firecrackers away all night because they can. They scare the whatchamacallit out of my cats. At least, my cats would appreciate the howling.

I am not into watching three hours of programming crawling up to the countdown to the ball dropping. (I kinda wonder what you do in that crowd when you have to pee, and you have to pee bad. Where do you go?)

All the twerking by artists, mouthing their latest fifteen-minutes-of-fame plastic, bores me. I’m not ever sure who they are, but they’re not for moi. They are not Dylan or Sinatra or Elvis or the Beatles or the Supremes. Those guys didn’t have to twerk their way to greatness. Well, maybe Elvis did.

If I hear Paul McCartney do one more performance of “Yesterday”, I think I’ll scream. You were great once, Sir Paul, but you’re beginning to wear out your welcome. Mostly I’m thinking it’s been a while since Guy Lombardi did the Auld Lang Syne thing, and I kinda miss it. Don’t worry I haven’t gone Lawrence Welk on you. Yet.

My tradition? I sit down and watch John Huston’s last movie, “The Dead”. And before you even think it, it’s not about zombies. Rather it is based on James Joyce’s great story. If the man wrote no other work, “The Dead” would establish him as one of the greats. It takes place in 1904 Dublin. A group of friends gather at the home of the Morkan sisters and their niece to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, that memorial to the Three Magi who came to visit the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

Outside there is snow. Inside there is cheer and music and dinner and memories of the past. It is these memories of the dead that call to mind all who have passed my way. Old friends, childhood buddies, and family, Some passed on and some not, some nearby and some in faraway places, some in places known and some in places unknown.

Like the story, the final scene of the movie calls to mind the most bittersweet of memories. All those who left, leaving only their footprints in the snow behind. All those wayfarers who came my way and left their mark on my life in an unforgettable manner. For a moment, tears well up in my eyes and I raise a glass to the wonder of who they were.

Soon it will be time to move on, what with a new year coming. This brief time I give to those who have passed over to a new world. I miss their words. I miss their smiles. I miss their voices. I miss the music that was their lives. So I shed a few tears. Not for them, but for myself. That I could have been a better friend. A better brother. A better son.

For these few moments, I am thankful to James Joyce and to John Huston for their extraordinary works of art.

Where will you be this New Year’s Eve?