First day of vaction, third day of government shut down, fifth iteration


of our travel plans.  FYI – Black Mesa is reserved for the Star Party the first week of October, star meant lowercase.  FYI2 – Don’t believe everything you read. Example: ranches advertising wildlife watching should be immediately considered suspect, especially if ranch is located in west Texas, as “wildlife” is subject to interpretation.

“Reframing,” flexibility, creativity are terms we have become fond of. We have eight states worth of vacation plans, in reserve. Two days before our vacation with our final, final plan and the government shuts down, leaving a National Wildlife Refuge and a National Forest scratched off. And then…

we ask who is going to stop us? And, so, at an undisclosed NWR, primitive, no ranger station, no gift shop, no restroom. Access via small town and county road. A few rattling pickup trucks, birds and us.

Red wine, beans, chocolate and garlic

If I am to believe the blood work, I am suffering from kidney disease, though I don’t know how, precisely I am “suffering.” I will see a nephrologist next month to hone the definition and ascribe each ache or moment of fatigue each proper place.

While I wait, I seek a means of control. The numbers on the lab report combined with WebMD and GoogleMayoClinic overwhelm until I fasten on the one number I understand. Cholesterol! My levels, undesirable – Total, LDL, Triglycerides, too high, while desirable HDL, too low and there is a wealth of advice on what to do, with and without medication. I read, voraciously. This is what I learn. Diet:

Ten foods to lower cholesterol in six weeks, amounts and percentages:

Beans – 1 cup per day 5x per week lowers Total Cholesterol 10%

Benecol Margarine – three servings daily lowers Total Cholesterol 10%

Black Tea – One serving twice weekly lowers Total Cholesterol 10%

Walnuts and Almonds 3 to four times a week lowers Total Cholesterol 5.4% and so on. Garlic, Chocolate, Salmon, Soy, spinach and Avocado make the list, with no specific numbers, though I am told 2 to 4 cloves of garlic a day are beneficial while an ounce of dark chocolate raises HDL 24%. Salmon also raises HDL while red wine lowers LDL. Spiffy.

Though no math whiz, my rough calculations go something like this – Recommended weekly intake beans, tea, Benecol, nuts x2 = 68% reduction (rough estimate). Logic assumes chocolate, garlic, spinach, soy, avocado and salmon = 2.5% each x 6 = additional 15%+68% = 83% total reduction in overall cholesterol levels in six weeks if I adhere to a strict diet of mostly beans and nuts, effect on Greenhouse gases notwithstanding. If I triple my intake of garlic, my daughter assures we will be safe from vampires, and if I eat a bar of dark chocolate daily, my cholesterol will simultaneously drop below zero while my “good” cholesterol will rise above 60. Red wine, beans, chocolate and garlic. I can live with that.

When the string breaks

report967Photo by Mike Clemens

The tremolo of the Common Loon and fledgling Bald Eagles became tied to my mother. I wanted Great Blue Herons for my father.

We were looking for herons, Saturday, at a wildlife refuge and found a Kite perched in a dead tree. He canted forward, hooked beak, black inquisitive eyes, intent. I stood in the road, focused on him; he focused on what I couldn’t see, swooping down once, twice, three times, to my feet. Then he took to the air and proved his name. He rose, he hovered, he shivered in the currents, and, then his wings folded, plummeted like grief. And rose again.

I never leave my phone behind, except that day. When we returned home, there was a message from my sister, who never calls. Dad was unresponsive, though restless. He had quit eating  two days before, she said, told her the previous Saturday that he felt “changes” were coming, asked her not to leave town. One of his last requests was that I read a poem at his funeral.

Thursday, my sister called, again.
That afternoon, Kites appeared over my house, half a dozen or more against a bank of building thunderclouds in the East. They swooped low, but didn’t land. As time progressed, the birds moved further off, first south of the neighborhood, then east. I found myself driving through town, on various errands, looking up. Twice, I forgot where I was going or why.

Shortly before dusk, the clouds and birds were gone, leaving the sky bereft.

Napoem 30 – It Was a Horrlequin of Another Color

This, my final poem, was a combination response to one of several “challenges”  posted at pffa during  NaPo, a response to an exercise I’ve done before and a tribute to some of my fellow pffa Napo fools. And it is over.

It Was a Horrlequin of Another Color
-No Images Left Behind – Miko

It was three squirrels sipping lemon drop martinis
the color of goat hooves on the shaft of a gun
quivering slow dance.
Sandpaper scratching bigger than bees knocked
one down with a clink and a snort.
You may not scream, Marsha Kupp, you of the smell
from the heft of your pickle jars and canned corn
molding at the far side of Castle Anthrax.
Nay, sound soars from that bucking beak like thunder,
sweet conquest in the back row.
I’ll hold you like water, gray, in modest congregation
because that’s how this pome got in.
Besides, love is a pound cake.

Napoem 29 – The Love of a Wife and Mother

The Love of a Wife and Mother

Cleave unto me.
Flesh of my flesh.
I give my life to them
as the Lord decrees, ask little,
only a pound or two
each night for dinner.
A slice of my husband’s gluteus muscle,
a daughter’s shinbone or son’s shoulder
fed through my meat grinder,
patted to hamburger, perhaps,
served at table with grace
and fresh flowers, according to season.
Such is the love of a wife and mother,
only to be left, little by little
until all that is left – the memories,
which are, undeniably, delicious.

Napoem 28 – The Pet Crow – umpteenth revision


Yeah, I know I’m cheating now. So sue me. Bob loves this poem and I want to get it right for him. Course, he loves it because it is about him and Aislinn.

The Pet Crow

She’s told You have a fungal infection in your ears
and asks Stepdad What’s that? He peers,
Mushrooms! rare as truffles and he spills stories
full and biting as a thirty-gallon crawfish boil
poured over torn newsprint.
Maybe he’ll pull a mushroom or small corn cob;
each one will burn and taste so good
she’ll ask for just one more and he’ll tell
until the sky runs Pepto Bismol pink poured
over the Super Dome and this – she’ll remember
how she melted over the hood of her Daddy’s car
before away was the only place he drove
until she learned even memories break clean,
washed away like a fever.
Now is time to suck the juice
of the crawfish head and Stepdad speaks
of Cousin Al’s pet crow who could defeat every dog
in a game of pull the straw and came to his shoulder
when he called. Stepdad wanted one of his own.
Al knew of a nest fifty feet up cradling one baby crow.
He pulled the short straw,
says the bird is ready to fledge, tosses it out.
Stepdad pauses as they watch the crow in its glide,
she leans forward to note his cupped hands,
the sudden fall in his voice, and as she looks
a few inches to his left, an imaginary dent in the floor.

Napoem 27 – Oklahoma – State With Lowest Consumption of Produce, Highest Rate of Infidelity

Oklahoma – State With Lowest Consumption of Produce, Highest Rate of Infidelity

They marry, Joe and Anne, buy a house, small plot.
She plants a peach tree out back.
He holds her with tenderness when she cries,
delighted, at first flowering.
Late Spring, frost threatens. Joe stands,
silent, Anne covers and warms
the white flowers and tiny fruit.

Joe buys a heifer, names her Annie,
keeps her out back in a stable, built special.
Anne pretends not to notice
the smiles when he curry-combs,
runs his fingers over the velvet of her nose, murmurs
about the percentage of marbling
as he pats his hand, thoughtfully, along her tender loins.

The peaches flush a gentle rose
over yellow, the scent intoxicates their mornings.
Anne invites Joe to test her fruit,
shows him how to squeeze for ripeness,
how a peach ready will fall away
from its stone, begging to be eaten,
promises him it will be the same season after season,
repeating the cycle of joy
from first opening to repletion.

Joe turns away, bored. He sold Annie for prime,
wants Anne to serve her, tonight, straight up,
no adornments. Anne sighs, gives him steak
topped with her peaches in a salsa spiced with jalapenos.
He levels her with a look – Henderson’s cow is calving
next week. I have a yearning for veal.