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Monthly Archives: December 2021

2021 1230 candidacy
NOTE: A version of this poem appeared in Facebook, earlier in December, 2021. The poem was altered, partly to better suit the illustration.)

candidacy
(to Nina Pak)
[pause]

–God?
—yeah?

[pause]

–am i talking to God now, or to myself?
—what’s the difference? i am everything. i am you too.
–got it. i think. can i ask you a favor?
—i dunno–CAN you? –sorry. sure, ask away. why should you be different from the billions of people who tell me what to do? BLESS this. DAMN that. and those laundry-list prayers!! –sorry. fire away.
–i am lonely. i want a Special Someone in my life.
—what, another one? you have oodles of Special Someones in your life.
–cmon, God, You know what i mean.
—of course I do. but I’m not going to let you get away with anything. it’s for your own good. –okay, you want someone in your life that is not only special but half of a couple, with you as the other half, yes?
–yeah.
—do you have a preferred gender?
–as if you didn–sorry. female.
—okay. that narrows the field by almost half.
–almost??
—right now there are more female than male humans on earth. they live longer, and have a slightly higher birth rate. age preference?
–ideally, my age or older. realistically, over 43 but under 82.
—racial preference?

[pause]

–no.
—why did you pause?
–i had to think about it.
—why?
–because i thought it would be best to review my history. and i have. and race was never an issue.
—but most of your involvements have been with white women.
–so?
—point taken. any deal-breakers?
–no tobacco smokers please. no active alcoholics, please. no hard druggers. [pause] no active gamblers. or if they’re active, nonaddicted.
—that’s a good one. hypocrite.
–hey, i’ve sworn off. [brief pause] look at my record. gave it up for a special someone once, for more than two years.
—stipulated. any other dealbreakers?
–no non-poets.
—everyone is a poet.
–no non-my-kind-of-poets.
—there’s only one of them, and that’s you. and you are not female.
–forget it then. [pause] she should be healthy enough to have another five years in her. she should be strong-willed, but not so much so that she regards me as a fix-and-flip project. she should have, or be willing to acquire, healthy eating habits.
—good to know what you want. you haven’t mentioned tits yet.
–i don’t care about tits.
—liar.
–hey, I’ve evolved. at least two of the most attractive women i’ve known have had double mastectomies. one of them refused reconstructive surgery. am i lying?
—no, aside from some mental gymnastics. sport, there are still thousands of candidates, but in terms of percentage, you’re headed for the one-in-a-million range. anything else?
–god, let’s cut to the chase. You KNOW me. how many suitable candidates ARE there?
[pause]
—none.

[pause]

—yet.
–WHAT??!
—sonny, the real answer is not how many candidates meet your criteria. there are either 942 or 28 or 119 of those, depending on what happens between now and the end of the year. but the problem is YOU. you do not meet all of THEIR criteria. you’re too short for some of them, too irreverant for some of them, not irreverent enough for a few of them, too fat for a lot of them, too lean for three of them. etcetera. and your politics! jeezus meezus!
[pause, with quiet weeping]
–so, am i going to be lonely forever?
—no. yes. depends.
–on me, right? i need to shape up?
–yes. you’re starting to get it. you need to be more Healthy.
–okay. i will.
—and you need to be patient.
–right.
—but you also need to be IMpatient.

[pause]

–always am.
—most of all you need to be Enthusiastic.
–“God within me.” i’ll try to remember.

[pause]

—let’s have some wine. I have some left over from a Wedding.

[wine and two wineglasses materialize]

—to Enthusiasm.
–amen!

[they drink]

—and forget about Me watching. YOU’LL be watching.
[sketchy smile]
Note: There’s a book out there called CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD. I have not read it, despite my friend Melissa recommending it to me long ago. (At least I think I haven’t read it. I have memory issues.) But I imagine I’m in the same (approximate) garden that the author of CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD was tending. It will be interesting to read that book and see if there is overlap.

A Friendly, Self-Compassionate Reminder

27th of December.
Tons to do!! Four days!! I know
It behooves me to remember
Finish Lines of long ago.

2021 1227 marathon finish line b n w

August 19, 1984. More than a year of training led to this moment. Two steps away from crossing the finish line at the San Francisco Marathon. There were more than ten thousand finishers. In the upper right, in the crowd, the one person whose head is not turned to see who’s coming next is my friend Thomas Christopher Sing, my classmate at Glendale Hish School, later to be the Best Man at my wedding on December 10, 1988. On March 3, 1991, Tom’s wife Mary (now, alas, deceased) and I both ran in the 1991 Los Angeles Marathon.

2021 1227 l a marathon
Every Finish Line we cross is
Yet another Starting Line.
Every win offsets the losses.
Each new challenge fills the stein.

On March 21, 1993, I was a finisher in the Tucson Marathon, with a time just under 4 hours and 30 minutes. I never was biomechanically suited for long-distance running, but I measured my achievements by the effort I put into them, and I’m proud of what I have done.

Competition has its place but
Satisfaction drives contentment.
Pay attention to your pace, but
Ditch frustration and resentment.

There are still Marathons in my life, but only in the metaphorical sense. What I learned from the three literal marathons I finished, 26 miles and 385 yards in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Tucson, is that endeavors that require the deepest commitment, and the most prolonged and profound effort, yield the most meaningful and valuable results. Whatever I accomplish between now and the end of 2021 will put me at the Starting Line of 2022.

2021 1222 letter to connie from jane

A long time ago, in a neighborhood far, far away, my parents Jane and Harold Bowers entertained friends at their house on Pasadena Avenue in Glendale, Arizona. Two of them were known to me as Connie and Chuck (or Connie and Charles, as some had it). (There were also Hank and Eileen, Tom & Marlene, Mae & Bill, and any number of others.) In the really early 80s my parents were divorced, and a natural consequence was that some long-term friendships fell by the wayside.

Be that as it may, Connie Wetzel and my mother Jane Bowers Stoneman had a deep, abiding love for each other. This was brought to my astonished attention when, a bit over a week ago, I opened one of those “hey, someone wants to communicate with you” messages on Facebook Messenger that are usually some kind of scam. But this one was no scam. With the gracious permission of Connie’s son Dan, who sent me the message, here is the message and the exchange that followed:

December 9, 2021
10:05 pm
Dan Wetzel

Hello Gary. This is Dan Wetzel. My Parents are Chuck and Connie Wetzel. Your Mom was one of the first friends my mom met here in Phoenix. My Mom has been thinking about your Mom. She remembered your name too so I looked you up here.

December 16, 2021
10:14 pm
You sent
Hi, Dan. I am sorry to say that my Mom, Jane Bowers Stoneman, passed a little over a year ago. Please tell Connie that Mom loved her with all her heart.

I remember how glad my parents were to have your folks over. And though it’s been a half a century or so, I still remember Connie’s message on the back of a paper Bingo card:

Money’s tight
And times’re hard
So this is this year’s
Christmas card.

Mom put it on the Christmas tree, she loved it so much.

Thanks for reaching out, Dan. Please give your Mom my best regards.

Take care,

Gary

10:51 pm
Dan Wetzel
I’m sorry to hear about your Mom Gary. My Mom loved Jane as well. I was young but do remember her. I will tell my Mom. Thanks Gary for getting back to me. It will touch Moms heart when I share this memory (the bingo card) with her.
Take care

Dan

10:52 pm
You sent
Thanks, Dan.

And then this morning Dan sent a pic of a letter Mom had written to Connie, with this note:

December 22, 2021
10:10 am
Dan Wetzel
Your Mom gave this to my Mom for her birthday. My Mom and Your Aunt Peggy (your mom’s aunt) shared a birthday

Mom’s note was hard to read, so I photoedited it. As best I can transcribe, here is what it says:

11/24/1980
Monday

This piece of collectible, signed, Lalique glassware was my Sixth most meaningful material possession.

At one time it belonged to Aunt Peg, whose birthday you share.

It is my wish, NOW, that it belong to my dear, beautiful, Regal Connie/Concepcion.

With Love,

Jane

PS this feather and this wrapped box are so you will remember how much you are loved. Destroy any of it, the love will remain. Please examine them closely at your leisure.

And bless his sweet, Loving Son’s Heart, Dan Wetzel demonstrates to me, just a bit after the one-year anniversary of my mother’s passing, that the love DOES remain between Mom and her dear friend Connie. As Dylan Thomas wrote, “Though lovers be lost, love shall not.”

Best wishes for this Holiday season, Friends. You are loved.

2021 1220 michelle frost omg

Soon after I began soliciting nominees for featured poets in Volume III, returned Valley resident Michelle Frost threw her hat into the ring. So I met her at Jarrod’s, an arts-friendly coffee stop in Mesa between where she lives and where I live, and in two minutes I was enthralled. She spoke of her way-back-when involvement in the Valley poetry scene, her move to Oregon and involvement in Great Northwest poetry, and changes that led to her return to the Valley. She also mentioned some other work she’d done, which I’ve highlighted in the note I made left of the acrostic above, and when she told me she was a professional organizer looking for more clients I said, “I’ll hire you.”

You see, I have been overwhelmed by living-space chaos for months now, and I am more disorganized than the Tasmanian Devil of Looney Tunes fame. Here is what Michelle was going to be dealing with:

And, long story short, here’s the view from where I’m sitting after Michelle worked her organizational wizardry:

20211220_191034

Here’s a transcription of the note by the poem:

“C. Michelle Frost, known to some of her friends as Frosty, is a poet and a professional organizer. She has been in her journey a teacher, a caregiver, a team member at a nursery, and the manager of the Children’s Books Department at a Barnes & Noble. Today she helped me organize my living space. Let’s add ‘Miracle Worker’ to her curriculum vitae. 🙂 “

Yesterday Michelle wrote an Abecedarian poem, which is an acrostic involving all the letters on the alphabet in order. I asked her, after she worked her magic and before she left my apartment, if she had something in the poem that would serve as an exemplary quotation for my page. Upon her recitation of the poem, which doubles down on the abecedarian acrostic with specific-letter alliteration, she got to the Fs and found three words that she said applied to her: Frolicking, Friendly, and Forgetful. But when I was calligraphing those words on the page, Forgetful somehow became “forgetly.” “Whoops!” I said and started to erase. “No, that’s GOOD!” she said abruptly, so “forgetly” remains. That micro-collaboration thrills me.

Here is the poem:

Michelle Frost OMG

Making waves beware a reef
It may be a lacerator
Chafing skin and giving grief–O
Harbors harbor alligators
Ecstasy may make verklempt
Latitude may stir a dog–O
Lyrical as Eminem
Easy as an Epilog

 

The last line alludes to how easy I found it to converse with this poet, C. Michelle Frost. I met her this autumn, yet I can talk to her as easily as if I’ve known her for years. She has the gift of being welcoming. 

This is at least the second time I’ve used “Into Each Life” as a triple-acrostic spine. Curious readers may find another one in my November 2014 archives. Fun fact: Georgia O’Keeffe is featured in the other one as well.

2021m 1219 into each life

Into Each Life

Introspection keeps us healthy. Won’t you stick around A. Weil
Notwithstanding automation he’s alive as you and I
Thanatopsis is no way of circumnavigating grief
OnomatopÅ“ia pops to hasten us to G. O’Keeffe

“Won’t you stick around A. Weil” is my first Bad Pun of the day. Andrew Weil is a highly respected and knowledgeable expert on Health. His discussions on nutrition go right down to the chemical-interaction level. He is a valuable resource, but is not the easiest read in the world, because the subject matter itself is complex; but I think anyone serious about their health would benefit from hearing what he says.

Georgia O’Keeffe is a valuable resource as well. She lived one of the fullest lives possible for a woman born in her time, and she left us some incredible images. One of the big thrills of my life is that I was once in the same room with her and Ansel Adams.

If you find this poem, this page, and my intentions hard to fathom, it is not your fault. The first line, pun notwithstanding, is fairly straightforward, and the second line, “Notwithstanding” notwithstanding, isn’t too obtuse. But “Thanatopsis is no way of circumnavigating grief”? Thanatopsis means “a meditation upon death.” Circumnavigating means “sail or travel completely around a thing, especially the world.” What I try to say in this line is thinking about and expressing philosophical notions on the subject of Death is not going to help anyone deal with the grief associated with a particular death. It may be a way of avoiding that grief. And I think it’s important to give grief its proper station, in proper moderation.

The last line has an element of word-playfulness to it. When I say “OnomatopÅ“ia pops” I am exploiting a loophole in our language rules to make OnomatopÅ“ia itself onomatopoetic. At the same time, my use of “automation” in line 2 finds a faint, twisted echo in “OnomatopÅ“ia pops.” and the line as a whole, “OnomatopÅ“ia pops to hasten us to G. O’Keeffe” carries an implication of synaesthesia, which is “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense by stimulation of another sense.” hearing light, seeing sound, smelling touch are all synaesthetic phenomena. Don’t Georgia’s flowers pop? 🙂

 

20211210_100121

This card started with a freeze frame from a movie that had a cityscape. I sketched from the image on screen till I had about 40% of the scape in rough form, then I watched the rest of the movie, went back to the sketch, and faked and finished the rest. It needed a foreground, so the woman showed up and said she needed age, wine, and a drone recording her rooftop solo soirée. I obliged best I could. “Now the Crostic. I am a Crone, no bones about it. And you made me look too good, but I’ll take it. Make the bookends DRONE and CRONE, and put a big tasty Ampersand in the middle. Good. Now keep the words to a bare-bones minimum. Use some dichotomy and some complementary. –You’re done for now, but if you make this into a large-scale painting choose better words. For now, though, just adjust the background a bit for consistency and balance. –That’s enough. –I SAID, that’s ENOUGH!!”

Drone & Crone

Daydreams & rhetoric
Recorders & survivor
Omnivore & seraglio
Nonetheless & deposition
Ecstasy & testosterone

WordPress wished me a Happy Anniversary today. Nine years ago I made my first blog post. By the end of Year Ten, I hope to have done blog post #2000.

Today I offer an unflattering portrait. But it is not to humiliate. I hope it will motivate me to spend 2022 becoming a much fitter version of myself. We’ll see what happens.

This is also a nod to my former co-workers at SSP America. Often when someone would see me coming in and ask how I was doing, I’d say “Not bad for a fat, old guy.” “Oh, stop it,” some would reply. But I kept saying it, because I wanted to own my age and fat and still hold my own in the food-service milieu, where the average age and weight for the worker bees are much lower than 67 years and 238 pounds. Of course, before the pandemic I was both younger and lighter. Time to swing the pendulum back toward fitness and health!

20211203_132012

Fat Old Guy

Fall out of bed and shake a leg
For Life would take you down a peg

And flail and fry and fricasee you
And hear the White Lie “Nice to see you”

Time was I’d be considered Hunky
Today it’s Open Wide For Chunky

.

Note: When I was growing up and much of my focus was on Candy, there was a product called Chunky that was a biggish, ziggurat-shaped chunk of milk chocolate. Their television commercials always ended with a bass voice singing the four-word jingle “Open wide for Chunky.”