Solo Rider

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Colors of rainbow have all washed away
gone’s arco iris, all’s left’s black and grays.
Thought I had power and dreamt I had speed
left riding solo’s lonely place to be.

Longed for adventure, I needed to fly,
so I saddled up and went for bike ride.
Seems dark and dreary had entered my soul;
to cure winter blues knew I had to roll.

A lack of daylight and excess of mead
hitched my giddy-up so went out biking.
Goal was a roll with friendly peleton
alone at start line where have riders gone?

There’s strength in numbers, there’s value to herd,
camaraderie and to heights we’re spurred.
That’s all terrific but none of it counts
cuz on my group ride my solo-ness taunts.

Day was not tempting fact I must admit
cool temperatures and steady fine mist
but it’s been observed we don’t go to war
with army wanted as we roll forward.

Whether it’s warring or withering sky
weather’s the weather when time for bike ride.
The mail must go through in sleet, rain or snow
out in the drizzle this male man did go.

The wind was blowing to that must confess
a forty knot gale made my bike skittish
but I persevered and I fought the wind
as I cycled from home to ride begin.

Incredulous stares and a few horn honks
affronted my eyes as Klaxons did taunt
but I soldiered on despite wind and rain
I knew peleton would ease stress and strain.

Five miles I traveled by bike to get there
arrived wet and chilled at parking lot stared
expecting to find riders at the start
found I was alone it tore at my heart.

I shrugged my shoulders and inhaled deeply
made the decision to ride solo-ly.
Cursing the weather, resenting lost mates
I went for a ride turns out it was great.

Despite the weather, the wind and the rain
horrid conditions, fact I’m not quite sane,
ride on bicycle beats sitting around
but on next group ride hope lost mates are found.

Colors of rainbow have all washed away
gone’s arco iris, all’s left’s black and grays.
Thought I had power and dreamt I had speed
left riding solo’s lonely place to be.

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Tony Kneel: “Daisy, Daisy,” part 2 of 3

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At the end of our ride I bid farewell to Jack, approached Nicolette and exchanged numbers. We agreed that I’d peruse the Potomac Pedalers rides and see which one fit best. I explained that I’d be riding the tandem solo to the ride start so we’d almost certainly do a ride that originated in Ashton or Olney. I didn’t explain that we’d have to start close by because I was carless, the reason wasn’t relevant, and Nicolette smiled while Geoff scowled as they drove away with their bikes atop their BMW 733i.

I cycled the five miles from Sherwood High to home, put the tandem away, (it was my most expensive possession) showered, grabbed some food and, since it was Saturday and I didn’t have to wait until after 11:00 for rates to go down, phoned Jean.

“Hey, baby,” I said into the phone, “how you doing?”

“Good,” she replied. “Just getting some last minute wedding details planned. You’re still planning to make lasagna for the rehearsal dinner at Marie’s, right?”

“Yep. Lasagna Florentine. Gotta Popeye it up.”

“Great. We can go shopping when you get here. You’re driving up with your folks?”

“Uhm, maybe?” I responded. “We’re all coming so I should have plenty of people I can catch a ride with. Maybe John and Brooke. Guess what I did today?”

“Heard from a school in Atlanta!?”

I exhaled heavily. “No. Sorry. Nothing yet. No. I went on a group ride with Jack on the tandem.”

“Oh. Yeah?” Jean responded non-committed. Jack was not one of her favorite people.

“Yeah. Potomac Pedalers? The bike club? We rode the tandem.”

“Cool. Have fun?”

“Yes. I’m looking forward to tandeming with you in Atlanta. Had a gal express interest in a tandem ride with me and so next week I’ll probably ride with her.”

“Oh, yeah? Somebody you know?”

“Not really,” I replied. “We’ve been on rides together, but we haven’t talked much. She usually hangs with her body-builder boyfriend.”

“Oh. Cool! Well, have fun! I got stuff to do. Talk to you later?”

“Absolutely. I should be home tonight. Call you around ten?”

“Perfect. Love you!”

“I love you, JPT. Later,” I said, waiting for her to hang-up before disconnecting.

I consulted my Potomac Pedalers newsletter and found a ride that started from the Olney Theatre and called Nicolette. Geoff answered. “Hi. Is Nicolette there?”

“Who’s calling?”

“Tony Kneel. I’m supposed to arrange a tandem-”

“Nikki!” I hear Geoff call out. “It’s the tandem guy.”

Nicolette gets on the phone, we agree to meet at the Theatre on Saturday the twenty-fourth and go about our days.

Saturday May 24th brings another beautiful not quite summer morning to central Montgomery County. I cycle to the Theatre and find Nicolette waiting with Geoff who scowls. “Hey!” I say, “how are you this morning? You have water bottles?”

We place her two bottles in the stoker’s waiting cages and we three sign the ride log. I explain the basics of being a tandem stoker and then we’re off, heading northwest toward Old Baltimore Road. It doesn’t takes long before the ride group splits into a slightly smaller faster portion, and a larger slower part. Nicolette and I leave Geoff behind in the slower part as we motor through the mostly rolling byways of rural northern M.C. With nearly twice the horsepower but almost no additional aerodynamic drag, tandems allow riders to go faster on flats and fly downhills, with the flip-side being a more precipitous slowing on ascents.

Peter’s Seventieth

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Image may contain: 4 people, people sitting and indoorWe all know of Peter and his fairy pal Tink,
and army of Lost Boys from fount of youth did drink.
Neverland far away, yet ever is it nigh,
ADA accessible, as we all can fly.

Fly away in spirit, God Father, Son, and Ghost!
My Cath’lic upbringing this play reflected most.
Not too far from Dubuque, in eastern Iowa,
is where I lived longest, tall corn and short soya!

I too am an orphan, I too am four of five,
play made me remember times long ago slipped by.
Sarah captures nicely Midwest mid-century,
Wendy, John and Michael, Jane and Hook all family.

First we lost our mother and then we lost our dad;
only one not present when our Royal Dame passed.
Ten years span of siblings, eldest turns sixty-two
all love one another; I’m liberal in the room.

Spread out cross the nation, triangle of vast size
from D.C. to Memphis hypotenuse inscribes.
Though great is the distance hearts are our winning suit
for love of family for all’s an absolute.

Known to act a fairy, flit merrily around,
though the years weigh heavy life still holds me spellbound.
Here’s to sister Peter, my John and brother Mike,
Jane’s our youngest sibling, I will Captain our flight.

We all know of Peter and his fairy pal Tink,
and army of Lost Boys from fount of youth did drink.
Fly away in spirit, God Father, Son, and Ghost!
My Cath’lic upbringing this play reflected most.

Jack: part 1 of 7

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When I arrived the end of November I literally didn’t know a soul. I’d never been anywhere before and I had no idea where I should go or what I should do. Talk about being a stranger in a strange land! Try arriving in the middle of a bustling hospital and not knowing a single word of the native tongue. I grokked nothing!

Fortunately for me Otta and Libby took me under wing. The welcome I received was overwhelming and I don’t know what I would have done without them. Looking back, I guess I should have been a little skeptical, a bit more reserved, but their welcome was as open armed as anyone could ever ask and I just accepted the situation as natural. Two-and-a-half years later I’m a lot less naive than I was then and I realize how lucky I was to have gone home with the people I did rather than someone who didn’t have my best interests in mind.

It was tough being completely helpless and not speaking the language that Otta and Libby shared. My not knowing the lingua franca kept communication pretty basic between the three of us and to make matters even worse is the simple fact there are plenty of times when I don’t know what I want myself so communicating my desires is pretty hit or miss. In my new environment, I found myself crying a lot and when I say crying I mean wailing. In retrospect, it’s a bit embarrassing but, hey, there it is.

Otta and Libby call each other by a lot of different names and they have different names for me as well; Son, John, John Francis, Jack, sweetie. The list is long and I just have to play it by ear. When I first moved in they used to get right in my face when they spoke to me so it was usually pretty clear when I was the one being spoken to, but still, what’s up with all the names?

Turns out the house they brought me home to is modest but since I only had the hospital nursery to compare it to, I just figured our house was like everybody else’s. I mean, who am I to know what kind of living accommodations most people have in the heartland of Iowa? In any case, the three of us came into this little three bedroom and were greeted by Tom, someone named Fabulosa and a really frenetic chick named Quesa. With a name that sounded like cheese I thought maybe she had a terrible sense of humor, but it turns out Quesa is one of the finest friends a guy could ask for.

Up till this point I’d only hung out with people who looked a lot like me. Same skin color, similar shape, pretty homogeneous group of folks in the middle of Iowa, but these three were not cut from the same cloth. Two of them were really dark, black I’d say, and one was deep brown. One of the black ones and the brown one were shaped the same but the other black one -Quesa of course! -looked a little bit like Tom and Fabulosa but was just different. I’m not sure how to explain it but Quesa was the one who looked the least like anybody else in the household. Friendly sort, just different.

So Otta and Libby bring me home, we go in and I meet the crew. Tom and Fabulosa are a bit stand-offish but Quesa is right up in my face; a big, friendly, Iowa twister who demands a lot of attention. Otta pushes her away and tells her to back off and I’m glad because I’m starting to get a bit upset with all the stuff going on around me and I’m glad when just the three of us go to a room and Libby asks, “So? How do you like it? This is your room!”

I don’t know how to respond. I’ve never had a room of my own and here these guys are just handing me one and welcoming me with open arms. I’m still feeling a little tentative but so far this being born thing has gone pretty well. If this is what life is going to be like, then I think I’m definitely glad to be here.

Of course, as I said, that was way over two years ago, literally a life-time as I just celebrated my second birthday back in November. I’ve learned a lot since then, grown a lot too and I hope to share some of my life experiences with you. Just bear in mind that everything isn’t arco de iris and mariposas; there’s heartache in this world as well.

I Have Learned Since Then

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I fathered two children
who’ve since grown into men,
truly love them dearly,
but I have learned since then.
Learned that love of parents
a love intense and true,
may be too reflective
of pains of parents’ youth.

Blood line is diluted
from half to a quarter
but there is no question
this grandson is adored.
Adored sans dilution,
adored with less baggage
adored for come what may
with a love unabridged.

To be deemed good parents
by ubiquitous “them”
can close hearts to wonder
glory heaven did send.
Gender-Role straightjackets,
whose task is to proscribe,
can lead to such heartache
and deep scars children hide.

Fearful of rejection,
fearful of doing wrong,
our egos encumber
children from voicing song.
The songs they are given
from moment long ‘fore births,
songs we should encourage
so they know their true worth.

But poor parents’ egos
demand children conform
to unquestioned mandates
and mindless, harmful norms.
For as God the Father’s
image Man did create
so it is with children
who suffer our dictates.

My hopes grandson’s future
is that he finds his way
down path of his choosing
where his worth is displayed.
Path that makes him happy
a path where he is strong
a path full of loving
his truth path, right not wrong.

Rainbow Riders

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Cycling has a Rainbow Jersey
in blue, red, black, yellow and green:
All the world’s this way depicted,
such a lovely Kodachrome scene.
There’s a rainbow in the heavens,
it’s the delightful Roy G Biv!
Composed of visible spectrum
flying high says, “Live and let live!”

Many times when I’m out cycling
very existence has been cursed.
Cursed and threatened, then assaulted,
fear I’ve known road rage at its worst.
Vulnerably I go riding
with only goal to get to there.
Far too many are the number
who on their car horns choose to blare.

I’m defenseless, tiny creature
fear Brobdingnagian attack.
What could drive these angry forces
who swerve towards me as try to smack?
Oh, angered gods, behemoths,
how dare I venture on your turf!?
Can’t you see I too am human
have equal rights and equal worth?

Ah, but no, for you have power
as you abuse humanity,
you insist that all conform to
roles of your idiocracy.
In the margins, in the gutter
some scream at me, “Hey! Go to hell!”
We’re all moving on same byways
their vitriol defines them well.

Cyclist arco de iris
whose very lives are put at risk?
There are those who on life’s highway
would kill a man for who he kissed.
Frolicking are same sex couples,
rainbow hues LGBTQ,
all world’s children deserve loving
rainbow riders just want our due.

Different are two colored rainbows
whose common fate’s to be attacked
both groups have parade of color
and neither group will be held back.
UCI or LGBT
rainbow shout-out let’s all live free!
Equal rights is all we look for
let’s all travel in harmony.

Cycling has a Rainbow Jersey
in blue, red, black, yellow and green:
All the world’s this way depicted,
such a lovely Kodachrome scene.
There’s a rainbow in the heavens,
it’s the delightful Roy G Biv!
Composed of visible spectrum
flying high says, “Live and let live!

Dogged Daze

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   Air conditioning began cooling the homes of well-to-do Americans in the early 1930’s when Shultz’s and Sherman’s window units began filling glass spaces around the USA. Early AC units were inefficient, noisy and of very limited capacity. They were also mana from heaven. Window units grew in number to seeming ubiquity until their peak in the  1970’s when Central-Air began appearing in US homes. Bear in mind that, “began appearing,” means that millions of homes in the USA most definitely did not have Central-Air and that prior to Nixon’s resignation having a window AC was still a bit of a status symbol, albeit a very, very useful status symbol. The United States embrace of AC was nearly universal for without air conditioners the best one could hope for was open windows and, at least for the first quarter of the Twentieth Century, electric fans, assuming one lived in a house that had electricity. While my childhood home had no air conditioning at least we had fans that circulated the moist, hot air of summer. Moist. Hot. Air. Yuck!

     The house I grew up in in Bloomington, Illinois did not have Central-Air. In fact, for the first six summers of my life we had no air conditioning whatsoever. When my parents knew that a fifth child was to be added to the family they prudently added a fourth bedroom to the family homestead. When finished, my parents’ new “Master Bedroom” (it was larger than the previous “Master” but the house still held only one bathroom) was equipped with a window air conditioner, a unit that cooled the most important room in the house; my father’s er, parents’ room. This window unit ran whenever the heat caused Padre to feel piqued and, under the most dire of heat emergencies, was augmented by the window unit in the living room where we children were allowed to sleep on the carpeted floor when the Illinois planes provided triple digit temperatures. (Under normal circumstances we five children were to STAY OUT of the living room.)

     Barring the occasional living room AC extravagance the only relief we five offspring had from the heat was sleeping with windows open and fans running. (By the way, my wife’s childhood home never had an air conditioner except in her parents’ bedroom. She lived there continuously until she left home for college at 17 and then on and off until she flew the nest for good at twenty-one years of age.) I spent eleven dreadful summers without AC and it was not until February of ’72 when we moved a thousand miles east and purchased a brand new house in Maryland that we learned what it was to sleep in AC. We learned that it was like heaven.

     There’s an old question that goes, “How are you going to keep them down on the farm after they’ve been to gay Paris?” I pondered this great question as I roasted in my son’s house for the four nights and three days between June 4th and June 8th, air conditioner functional but turned off. Gay Paris? Nope, hot prairie! I can now tell you that as I age certain luxuries become honest-to-goodness necessities.

     The nights have been cool, anywhere from the mid to upper sixties, (18 to 20 C) but the daytime temps hit a plenty hot and humid 88 F/31 C with 1,000,000 percent humidity. (Well, more like 96%, but still!) It is late Friday as I write this and I fear that one more oppressive night will cause me to throw in the sweat soaked towel, give up and go home. (Okay, I’m only here one more night. I’m heading home Saturday regardless of temperature.)

     Not running the AC is a very Midwestern thing. We Midwesterners dig in. We dig into the snow. We suffer heat, tornadoes, floods and the ignominy of being a fly-over state (“Did you say you’re from Idaho? Love your potatoes!”) and AC costs lots of dough-re-me. Many young couples find that money is in short supply and keeping the AC off as long as possible can be a huge cost saver. I guess I’m really starting to understand why it was always the Master Bedrooms that had the window unit air conditioners! Who ever thought early June in Raleigh (WITH AC!) could be more comfortable than early June in Des Moines without?

Ding Darling

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Beginning Wednesday June 5th and continuing through Friday the seventh I’ve been hanging in Des Moines, Iowa with my best-bud John. John is my two-and-a-half year old grandson who lives with his mom Katie and dad Kevin in the USA’s heartland just off US 6, the same US highway that my wife grew up next to 1,144 miles east in Brewster, New York, a quirky little coincidence that brings me mindless pleasure.

I drove solo to Des Moines from Raleigh, North Carolina and brought my bicycle, a used 20″ bike for John’s “future needs” and a Burley bike trailer/child stroller along with me. John won’t need the bike for another four years or so but the two of us are using the trailer every day as we cruise the greenways that Des Moines has judiciously placed in the flood plains along the Des Moines River. When I leave Saturday I’ll bring my bike home with me but the used 20″ and child trailer are going to stay with John so he and his parents can use them when I’m not here. Hey, what are grandfathers for if not to provide gifts for their once removed progeny?

From John’s house one can access the greenways by cycling a mostly downhill  mile through Des Moines working class neighborhood streets and then hopping onto the Trestle To Trestle Trail just east of MLK Drive. Under normal circumstances one can travel either north or south along the river on either its east or west bank but as I learned Wednesday the plethora of rains that have fallen in the Midwest this spring have caused a lot of flooding so many of the trails are closed. No big thing for us as I have no particular destination in mind, but rather only a desire to enjoy the fresh air, bask in John’s company and get some much needed exercise.

On our initial foray on Wednesday I learned that many portions of the trails are closed due to flooding so on Thursday I decided to return with John to the Ding Darling greenway, a rather old, bucolic, rutted strip of asphalt on the east side of the river that I had not traversed prior to this week’s visit. John and I zoomed down to the Trestle To Trestle Trail, headed south and planned to cross the Des Moines river after passing the  Department of Motor Vehicles station (DMV) that sits on US 6/Euclid Avenue.

Rounding a curve I see two or three dozen people standing in a food bank line and I slow as I make my way among them and then onward to Euclid Avenue where I cross the river via the sidewalk that straddles the four lane bridge. On the east side of the river we plunge back down to the greenway where we travel between the green, murky, stagnate waters on the landward side of the asphalt and the murky, brown waters that are the Des Moines’ temporary overflow. With water on either side of the greenway my mind momentarily goes on alligator alert until I remember that we are in Iowa, not Florida and that while I may need to watch for snakes, alligators pose no problem in the Des Moines greater metropolitan area.

We cycle on and come to a short, arched wooden bridge where I dutifully call out, “Trip-trop, trip-trop! Who’s that crossing my bridge?!” to John, just as I did for his father on similar outings a quarter century ago. John does not answer but I know that with repetition he will come to shout this tiny bit of Billy Goat Gruff along with me in future years.

Passing beneath a highway overpass I note no sleeping bags and wonder if no one ever lives under this bridge or if the homeless that are frequently found beneath the loud but dry shelter of said construction were chased away by floodwaters. We ride half-an-hour before turning around and heading home.

I’m working hard on the return ride, trying to up my average speed to 12 mph, and soon find my way back to the DMV where the crowd for the food bank has doubled and is now swarmed onto the greenway. I slow, again wind my way through the crowd and think to myself, “It has been 23 years since I was impoverished. Twenty-three years since we were at risk of losing everything.” I inhale, my breath catches in my throat and I begin the mile struggle up the hill and back to John’s house, breathing hard up the short, very steep section, my heart aching from both exertion and emotion.

The Woodlawn Education center is along the route and this facility has a playground designed for preschool children. I ask John if he’d like to stop at the playground and interpret his answer of, “Play!?” as an affirmative. I open the gate, wheel the bike through, close the gate and observe an age-mate, gray-haired woman sitting alone in a lotus position in the shade next to the playground. As I help John out of the trailer and remove our helmets she rises, walks up to me and greets me.

“Good morning. Were you hoping to play here today?” she asks.

I tell her I was, she tells me that a class is about to start and that we would almost assuredly prove a distraction. I concede the point, tell John we’ll have to go to another playground and put his helmet back on his head; a pleasant, though disappointing exchange. As we approach the gate an age mate couple appears with a toddler child in a stroller along with another school aged one. They ask why I’m leaving and I explain that a class is about to start. In response the grandmother all but emits steam from her head.

Muttering under her breath she approaches the teacher and harangues the woman with how disappointed they are that the playground is not available. Through word and intonation she berates the woman who will be leading the class before storming away, one grandchild in the stroller the other in tow.

I return to the teacher before leaving and say, “Hey? Thank you for letting us know. Okay? Have a good day?” The teacher looks at me with her head tilted and I add, “You were very gracious. Have a good day,” before I nod, smile and head for home with John in the trailer.

The grandparents do not have a look of financial want about them. The grandmother’s pique seems due solely to being inconvenienced. It has been 23 years since I have known poverty and five since I have known financial want. While I hope to never know poverty again I will do my damndest to never be ungracious to others for daring to inconvenience me in the course of doing their jobs.

‘Murica. May we all be blessed.

Out Of Body

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Though I have experienced many out of my mind events in my life June 3rd provided me with my first out of body. It began around five a.m. as I set off on a solo road trip from Raleigh, North Carolina to Des Moines, Iowa via Memphis Tennessee, a distance of some 1,300 miles or 2,100 km.

It makes no geographical sense to pass through Memphis when traveling from Raleigh to Des Moines and if one chooses this route be aware that it adds an additional 200 miles or 320 km to an already long solo drive. In winter some might favor a southerly route to avoid ice and snow but the latitudes between 35 and 41 degrees north in June are as unlikely to be snow driven as the days are long. No, I went through Memphis for the same reason I headed to Des Moines; love of family.

While still winter, I had requested the first week of June off from work for a road trip, though my original intention was not to visit my grandson. Rather, I planned to accompany my goddess to Connecticut where we would aid her niece in watching three of her sister’s teenage children whose usual caregiver was romping in Europe for an extended and well-earned vacation. Time off secured and six weeks to go before our trip north, my beloved said to me, “What if Katie and Kevin needed help with John? You wouldn’t go with me to Connecticut, would you?”

I hesitated momentarily and weighed her words. Would I pass up an opportunity to spend seven days with the goddess, whom I love and worship but see regularly though inadequately, in order to spend four nights and three days with my two-and-a-half year old grandson whom I only see twice a year? Would I give up the pleasure of seven days with my adored and revered wife in exchange for an arduous solo drive and basking in John’s presence for three?

“Yeah,” said I, “I guess I wouldn’t go with you if it meant seeing John. I see him so little and love him so much.”

“I know,” said she without rancor or jealousy. “He is terrific.”

The goddess has many wondrous attributes including having a particularly masculine mind in a flawless female body, said body and mind wonderfully complementing my feminine mindset and failing male form but until the goddess asked me her question I did not know that she possessed the power of prophecy. Lo and behold three weeks before we were to head to Connecticut our daughter-in-law Katie has a tale of woe and is in need of assistance. The goddess looks at me, places a Mona Lisa-esque smile on her lips and with the raise of her right eyebrow I am driving to Des Moines.

How does Memphis play into this and what of my out of body? I have two sisters who live in two different states ten miles from one another fifty miles east of Memphis and these two sisters along with my two brothers who live fifty miles from one another on the Maryland side of D.C. have pilgrimaged to my house in Florida and then in North Carolina for the last four Februaries. Family matters and with family matters one takes the extra three hours to drive in order to spend time with kin. On the return trip I will stop in Louisville, Kentucky and stay with my elder sister’s son and his wondrous wife who will gladly put up with and put me up for the night. Love is a wondrous thing.

“Okay! What about the out of body!?” I hear someone shout through my keyboard. Ah, right!

Long, long ago in a galaxy that we share people used road maps to travel hither and yon, a practice that has become so obscure as to be arcane. Before leaving on my trip my coworker Jack asked how I was getting to Iowa and when I told Jack I was driving solo he lost his eyebrows as they raced to his far receded hairline. “Driving!?” he declared, “Why don’t you fly?”

“I like to drive. And I’ll see my sister in Memphis. Plus I’m bringing some things with me.”

“Memphis? How are you going?” Jack inquired, having spent some time in our country’s midsection.

“However Google tells me,” I reply. “I have two sisters who live just east of Memphis. I’ll see one of them on the way out.”

“Man,” Jack laughed, shaking his head, “you really are crazy, aren’t you?”

I had no rebuttal for Jack’s declaration. I had no rebuttal and I lacked a map as I, like the rest of the world’s Twenty-first Century citizenry, rely on Google maps to get me from hither to yon. I knew Memphis was west, I knew I lived south west of Raleigh and I knew I would go where Google commanded. Or would I?

In the predawn hours of  a Raleigh June morn I started my car and told my phone, “Okay, Google, take me to Walnut, Mississippi,” relying on the all seeing, all knowing eyes in the sky and the brains in my phone to navigate my way to what I euphemistically called “Memphis.” It was here that my out of body experience began.

My house is separated from US 1/ US 64 by a scant hundred meters of woodland and a stockade fence, a circumstance that sometimes befuddles my phone’s navigation as it “thinks” I am already on said highway. As my yard lacks a direct entry to this limited access highway Google sometimes gets befuddled as I wind my way from my home to the US 64 on ramp that sits a mere mile from my driveway. I am used to Google’s little triangular icon zooming southwestward as I parallel the highway but the GPS gods usually figure things out fairly quickly and my virtual and actual positions tend to merge as I temporarily put greater distance between me and 64. Usually, yes. Monday, no.

I took the byway of Tryon Road to US 64 and merged onto the highway heading northeast, a route that would connect me to Interstate 40, the road I would follow for most of Monday’s drive. My GPS and actual position would merge and split seemingly at random, my actual position versus my virtual one differing by a thousand meters, and Google maps would command me to take roads that would get me back on I 40 heading west, the road and direction I was already on, convinced that I was flying over creeks and charging through yards, fields and woodlands. Le sigh. Technology.

If I weren’t already messed up in the head this bit of chicanery would surely have driven me over the edge but fortunately my insanity makes me immune from being driven crazy. My GPS ghost and I eventually became one about 90 minutes west of Raleigh and the consarn thing navigated me to Memphis and then Des Moines. I hope to have no out of body driving when I return via Louisville and the shorter, northern passage on Saturday.

That’s the hope, but we’ll see what Google Maps and the GPS satellites have up their sleeves.

The Pledge

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I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The Pledge of Allegiance
we must pause and recall
says Liberty, Justice
are two Rights shared by all

It’s not that I differ
with this poetic pledge
rather false assumptions
these words glibly allege

The quaint proposition
that to share in a thing
implies equality?
These words hollowly ring

If we cut up a pie
everyone gets a bite
we should not misconstrue
that we have Equal Rights

With three-hundred-million
getting piece of the pie
to state that share’s equal
is an obvious lie

We’ve got folks at the top
who on Liberty feast
while those at the bottom
get dry crumbs that are least

And Justice? Sweet Justice?!
We all know that it’s bought
That law in the Life Boat
are not same as on yacht

Who gets put on trial
for what cause and by whom
makes sweet equality
a lie we must exhume

For who’s getting “bracelets”
and who’s just getting winks?
Who pays for fine lawyers
keeps ’em outta the clink?

Oh, I pledge allegiance
to the U.S. of A.
but I do not accept
ruse of equality

To know equality
for us in this great land
we must not close our eyes
or let injustice stand

For our system is rigged
by those cutting the pie:
May be God we’re under?
Equal Justice is lie

Came Down

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The rain came down
torrents and streams
diluted hope
washed away dreams.
The lightning flashed
while thunder boomed
knew she should hide:
She never moved.

Stayed where she was
vegetative
thought she might die
feared she might live.
Under a rock
they’d cast her seed
told her, “Good luck,”
left her to bleed.

Bleed from the cuts
shallow and deep
waited for death
longed for release.
Burdens of life
weighing her down
from rising tide
prayed she would drown.

Longed not for death,
just wanted peace,
Ophelia’s dream
of sweet release.
No nunnery,
though father’s ghost,
burdens of life
disarmed riposte.

Could not parry
from the world’s thrusts
all of the lies
shredded her trust.
If a white knight
galloped to her?
Knows not to trust.
All Man is curs.

Stands on her own
beneath deluge.
The hardest part?
They win, she lose.
Lost a rigged game
roulette, steel wheel
believed the lies,
needed them real.

Emits deep sigh
sees her defeat
inching upward
longs for relief.
Relief from pain
without, within,
waters of death
up to her chin.

Won’t be long now.
Just has to wait.
Soon flood waters
deliver fate.
Lifts up her face.
Raises her chin.
Break in the clouds.
Sun pouring in?

“Oh, God above!
Why torture so?
Give me a sign.
Life? Stay or go?”
Single sunbeam.
On her it shines.
Decides to live
but stuck in slime.

 

Regular Guy

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We’ve all heard expression, “Man, that dude’s full of shit!”
I poop in the morning, regular, lots of it!
Don’t take Metamucil, or a laxative strong,
I eat fruits and veggies, and whole grains all day long.

I’m a regular guy, but that said, what I mean’s,
all the common concerns fear their value don’t glean.
Care little for baseball, apple pie is sweet treat,
while I deplore hot dogs, don’t care Chevys on street.

No, this regular guy’s talking something more crass
I’m not talking ’bout tastes, rather what comes out ass.
Can you spell defecate? Because I’m talking pooh,
I’m a regular guy, are you regular too?

There was Food Pyramid,  now there’s Nutrition Plate,
don’t care about graphic, care about what you ate.
Martin Luther’s Diet may have been plate of Worms
but it’s food we consume that makes stools hard and firm.

If it’s pain in the ass when your bowel movements pass
just think G-I-G-O, eat right, don’t be jackass.
Garbage in, garbage out, makes our poor colons shout
cancer is a big risk, CDC facts do flout.

Wake up call USA and the rest of the world
what we eat matters lots, bad diets are peril.
The crazy salt filled chips, and the energy drinks
all these fast-food burgers? Makes us sick, what you think?

I’m a regular guy, least when it comes to pooh
and I wrote you this song ’bout good diet’s virtue.
You may say full of shit, but you know that I’m right
and a proper diet makes for pooping delight.

We’ve all heard expression, “Man, that dude’s full of shit!”
I poop in the morning, regular, lots of it!
Don’t take Metamucil, or a laxative strong,
I eat fruits and veggies, and whole grains all day long.

Deepest Need- a call to 911

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Most of us have had crazy nightmares that affect us even after waking. I remember bolting out of our house one afternoon in 1965 desperately searching for my mother after having a horrifying nightmare during a nap. I’ve also turned on the lights in my bedroom on dozens of occasions after pulling spiders off me in my sleep. My brother Greg insists that I threw a ten pound jar of pennies on him when we were in high school. (It used to be five pounds and I dropped it, but in the last 40+ years it got heavier and I became a baseball pitcher.) Most famously, in the late 80’s my wife Pat awoke one night to find me kneeling on my nightstand trying to jump out our third story window in order to escape from the drug cartel that was in our spare room. Sleep walk, sleep talk, I’ve even been known to sleep write. (Some of my best poems!)

I have lots of crazy, waking up in a fugue-state stories but this is the first time it took me ten minutes to figure out that I was not in my right mind. It’s also the only time I’ve called 911. I’d like to point out that I called 911 because I wasn’t afraid for me as I had been all the other times but rather was afraid that the goddess Durga was in trouble.

Pleasant dreams!

Keith calls Cary 911 ~ 6:40 pm Wednesday, 05/28/19 believing it is 6:40 am Thursday morning.

 

Steven: 911, what is the address of your emergency?

Keith: Uhm, my address is, uhm. Sorry. Uhm, I’m, I’m sorry. I’m at home, I just woke up and my wife is not here. And she just, she doesn’t do that. And I called and I uhm, and I’m calling to see what I should do.

Steven: What do you mean your wife isn’t there, sir? Did she go somewhere?

Keith: So she left, I’m sorry, uhm, I, I, last night she left for fitness class, uhm, about twelve hours ago, I, I fell asleep on the couch, uhm and her car’s not here, and she’s not here and she’s not answering her phone, and she doesn’t, you know, just not come home, sort of thing. So, I’m just very concerned because she is not here, I have no note I have, no…

Steven: Okay, okay. What’s your address, sir? What’s your address, sir? I’ll get an officer to come speak to you.

Keith: Oh my God. Really? I am literally looking at my license right now. Uhm- (Reads address to Steven. Redacted. Typing heard.) In Cary. Sorry.

Steven: What’s the phone number you’re calling me from, sir?

Keith: (Provides phone number. Redacted.)

Steven: Is there any reason your wife would have left and didn’t come back?

Keith: Zero. None.

Steven: Okay. Okay. What’s your last name, sir?

Keith: Kenel. (Redacted)

Steven: First name?

Keith: Keith. (Redacted)

Steven: What’s your wife’s name?

Keith: Patricia Tierney Kenel. She goes by Pat. (Redacted)

Steven: (Typing) Okay. And you said you last saw her about 12 hour ago?

Keith: Uhhh, yes, sir. She went to a class at Orangetheory Fitness, also in Cary, I’m sorry, I don’t know, I can’t tell you… It’s on Cary Parkway… in Cary.

Steven: Is it over there by Morris- is it over there in the Parkwest-

Keith: Yes! Yes.

Steven: Is it over there in Parkwest?

Keith: Yes!

Steven: At Parkwest.

Keith: Yes.

Steven: Okay. What was she last seen wearing?

Keith: Uhm, she had on, I’m going to call them black Capris, uhm like-

Steven: Workout pants?

Keith: Yes, sir-

Steven: Okay

Keith: Uhm, sleeveless top. So, workout clothes.

Steven: Okay. What kind of vehicle does she drive?

Keith: She has a (Redacted) Toyota Camry.

Steven: What color?

Keith: Uhm, (Redacted) baby blue. It’s, like, five, seven years old? So , whatever that makes it.

Steven: And what’s her phone number?

Keith: (Redacted) xxx-yyy-3972. Er, 73. No. 3973.

Steven: So, what is her phone number?

Keith: (Redacted. Stumbling.)

Steven: And can you just repeat that for verification please?

Keith: (Redacted) xxx-yyy-3973. Yes, sir.

Steven: And is there anyplace that she would likely go?

Keith: No, sir.

Steven: (Typing) Does she have any family in the area by chance?

Keith: No, sir. And she’s leaving, to visit her family… Sunday!

Steven: (Typing) So she was supposed to leave this coming Sunday to go visit family?

Keith: Yes, sir.

Steven: Okay.

Keith: She is supposed to.

Steven: Alright. I’m going to get an officer out there to (Address redacted) to talk to you, okay?

Keith: Yes, sir. Thank you.

Steven: Alright, sir. Bye-bye.

Keith: Bye.

Steven places call to Orangetheory Fitness ~ 6:45 pm Wednesday night. (Phone noise)

OTF: (Prerecorded) Thank you for calling Orangetheory Fitnesss, Morrisville. This call many be recorded for quality assurance.
Please hold while I try to connect you. (Hold music)

Sammy: Thank you for calling Orangetheory Fitness in Morrisville. This is Sammy, how can I help you?

Steven: Hey, this is Steven with the Cary 911 center. Can you do me a favor and see if you have a member that that checked in yesterday?

Sammy: Yeah, of course. Who are you looking for?

Steven: Patricia Kenel. Last name’s spelled K, e, n, e, l.

Sammy:  K, e, n, e, l?

Steven: Uh-huh.

Sammy: Patricia Kenel.

Steven: Or is she even a member there at all?

Sammy: Yeah. She was just here earlier today.

Steven: Earlier?

Sammy: Yeah. Are you still wondering about yesterday?

Steven: Yeah, so she was there earlier today?

Sammy: Yes, she was here-

Steven: What time, what time was she there?

Sammy: Oh, six pm class.

Steven: For the six pm class?

Sammy: Yeah, so she’s in there right now. Do you want me to grab her when she leaves and tell her to call you?

Steven: Uhm, is there any way you could grab her right now, please?

Sammy: Uh, yes. Let me just put you on hold for one second.

Steven: Thank you. (Hold music)

Pat: Hi, this is Pat Kenel.

Steven: Hey, this is Steven with the 911 center, how are you doing?

Pat: I’m doing fine, and you?

Steven: I am so sorry to interrupt your workout. Can you just confirm for me if you live at 123 Somename Court?

Pat: I do.

Steven: Okay, your husband called in advising that you were missing. I just wanted to make sure that you weren’t missing.

Pat: What?!

Steven: He said he woke up and you weren’t there and it wasn’t like you to not be there.

Pat: Oh my gosh.

Steven: Is your husband-

Pat: I left him at home and told him I was going to class. Okay, no, I’m fine.

Steven: And your husband-

Pat: I’m fine, I’ve just been working out and I live there and my husband’s name is Keith.

Steven: Okay. Okay, ma’am I just wanted to confirm. I’ll get in touch with him and let him know that you’re in class, is that okay?

Pat: Huh. Yeah. Alright. Yeah, I’ll call him too, thanks.

Steven: Sorry about that.

Pat: No, no worries.

Steven: Bye-bye.

Pat: Bye.

Steven places call to Keith. (Phone dialing. Phone ringing.)

Keith: Hello?

Steven: Is this Keith?

Keith: Yes, it is.

Steven: Hey, Keith this is Steven with the 911 center. I got in touch with your wife. She is not missing. She’s fine. She’s at Orangetheory right now taking a fitness class.

Keith: (Laughing and crying) Okay. She’s, she’s alright?

Steven: Yes.

Keith: Your name is Steven?

Steven: Yes. My badge number is 61 37, she said she was going to give you a call as well, sir but she is at Orangetheory right now.

Keith: Thank you, Steven.

Steven: Yes, Sir. You have a good night.

Keith: Thank you, bye.

Steven: Bye-bye.