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.

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Designated Fireman

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Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing

I’m designated fireman
my bell goes ding-ding-ding
seems to be million brush fires
causing alarms to ring.
Know there’s score of firefighters
with hook and ladder trucks
could respond to three-alarm
but they’re all thunder struck.

When that fire-bell starts ringing
know how this drill will go
seems I’m the only fireman
who’s handy with a hose.
I was taught as firefighter
to wear asbestos pants
based on stop, drop and roll rate
other firefighters can’t.

Cannot respond to a fire
or fight blaze with their hose
sometimes can’t help wondering
where firehouse mates go.
I got firefighters sitting
in station house rec-room
they see my firefighting hose
and guess they just presume

that even though I’m busy
fighting smolder and blaze
that they can take it easy
and just collect their pay.
I know I’m being petty
but it gets old real fast
me battling multi-front fires
while they sit on their ass.

I’m designated fireman
my bell goes ding-ding-ding
seems to be million brush fires
causing alarms to ring.
Know there’s score of firefighters
with hook and ladder trucks
could respond to three-alarm
but they’re all thunder struck.

Ovation

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         Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage and people standing

My wife and I play a game with our toddler grandson Jack. We point to our noses, say the word, “Nose, nose?” until he touches his own and then all three of us break into enthusiastic applause with Patricia and me screaming, “Yay! Yay!” with total abandon. Jack likes the attention, we love teaching him and everyone feels good.

         When we’re done laughing I say to him, “Just so you know? The bar for crazed praise gets higher as you get older.” (He laughs at that too. Not because he understands what I’m saying, but rather because I’m making a comical face as I proclaim this prognostication.)

          It is a pretty low bar to get such praise, but Jack’s audience is highly biased. Love for grandchildren is legendary and accurate; Patricia and I are batty about that kid and find his charms irresistible.

         Our warped perception of our grandson explains Jack’s standing ovation, but I am frequently perplexed when attending theatre productions that I think are good, even great, but not worthy of an audience’s highest accolade. Standing ovations are far too often awarded for mediocre or good performances. I choose to save standing ovations for productions that I find superlative.

           Imagine theatre patrons sitting in their seats at the end of a very good performance applauding enthusiastically. During the well-earned applause someone stands, followed by someone else. (I always imagine the play The New Moon when this pyrite applause phase begins. One overly enthusiastic patron convinces first one and then succeeding others to rise up and applaud. Rather the opposite of “Ten Stouthearted Men.”) Soon we have a theatre full of people standing and clapping and one middle-aged curmudgeon slapping his hands together loudly, quickly and enthusiastically but whose derriere is glued to his seat. Yep. That’d be me. (My wife will either stand or sit at this point as she sees fit. Sometimes it’s a lone curmudgeon sitting, sometimes a beautiful white-haired goddess sits by my side rather than ascending.)

          Awarding a standing ovation for something that shines with less than stellar luminance dims the power of the accolade. Saturday, August eleventh I attended The Book of Mormon at North Carolina’s Durham Performing Arts Center and as the show drew to an end I was poised to rise from my seat and applaud unto the heavens. Yeah, I liked it that much.

           I wasn’t sure if I would. I have a sarcasm streak that’s so wide that, like Greek Achilles, I may have been dipped in something at birth. I’m so sarcastic that I frequently find it necessary to say, “I’m usually a smart-ass, but I try really hard not to be a mean smart-ass.” Before attending The Book of Mormon I wasn’t sure if Matt Stone’s, Robert Lopez’s, and Trey Parker’s play would be too mean-spirited for my overly empathic disposition. Parker’s and Stone’s “South Park” driven reputation preceded them, and I find broad-brush-stroke defamation of large groups, whether religious or otherwise, off-putting. I found that the writing team masterfully danced around the need to point out the logical inconsistencies of faith-based reasoning using Latter Day Saints as an example of the thought process in general rather than specifically ridiculing Latter Day Saints. (The closing song of the play gives ample support for this statement.)

             Before the play began I said to my wife, “You know what’s ridiculous? The prejudice I have concerning Mormons. Prejudice in their favor. I know there’s good and bad in everyone and every group has good and bad people in it, but if I had to hand a hundred-dollar bill to someone I didn’t know and wanted to get it back at a future date? I’d hand it to a Mormon sight-unseen before I’d hand it to anybody else who’s a complete stranger to me. Crazy, huh?” And the play explicitly states this same theme, that Mormons as a group are a great bunch of people who just happen to believe in a bunch of stuff most of us don’t, and- SURPRISE! – their religion like all religions fails at being logically consistent.

               The Book of Mormon wasn’t all laughs though. The specific references to AIDS, violence, infant-rape and other real-world atrocities would bring my smiling face crashing to the ground as my gut erupted in a sob or two. This show packs a punch for those who are listening.

              As The Book of Mormon wrapped-up I applauded and cheered, just as I’d done a dozen times during the show. The difference was that as the show concluded I leapt to my feet as I did so. The Book of Mormon earned my standing ovation and I was happy to award the cast their well-earned highest theatre audience accolade.

Mensch From Mumbai

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Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, closeup
The mensch from Mumbai
walked in with lad from
Addis Ababa,
we started chatting
’bout world politics.
Free-ranging convo,
one thing’s agreed on
how Trump makes us sick.

We spoke of cricket,
and sticky wickets,
talked of peace and love,
C.R.’s Mother Mosque.
Turned to division
in forty-seven,
how independence
yielded Pakistan.

“Literally war,”
was overstatement,
let his English slide
for harmony’s sake.
“When Pakistan plays,
madness and mayhem.
You’d think fate of world
decided on pitch.”

As we were speaking
hate in Manteca
allowed two young thugs
Sikh man to attack.
Tye McAllister,
son of police chief,
accused ringleader
what you think of that?

Hate and division,
abuse of power,
sowing of hatred
misplaced ethnic pride?
These are means and ways
of pitting brothers
‘gainst one another;
ain’t ‘Murica great!?

The mensch from Mumbai
walked in with lad from
Addis Ababa,
we started chatting
’bout world politics.
We enter the world
tabula rosa:
Learn hate; become sick.

 

Azerbaijan: Alliterative Facts

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Image may contain: sky, night and outdoor
The land I live in’s land with sand-trap lies,
manicured courses beneath azure skies.
Living is easy, least that what Bess says,
world’s full of turmoil closer to Suez.

Drive twelve hundred miles Cairo to Baku
through Israel, Jordan and Iraq too.
Azerbaijanis on Caspian Sea
have flocked to Baku overwhelmingly.

Baku is arid, eight inches of rain;
that’s three times greater than country Bahrain.
Landscape’s quite varied from sea to mountains,
Baku’s negative in elevation.

Millions of people in Azerbaijan
fled Turkish warfare; love Tehran, Iran.
Wind pounded city on peninsula
is plush and modern, bells rung for Allah.

Salat al-fajr, morning call to prayer,
a Qibla compass points to Kaaba where
Abraham prophet, and son Ishmael
built the black-box mosque hajjis know so well.

Soviet Union held Azerbaijan;
Gorbachev’s glasnost independence spawned.
Claim they’re republic, but oligarchy;
nineteen-ninety-one saw great anarchy.

Petrochemicals has Azerbaijan;
black gold prized highly they draw from the ground.
Azerbaijan, though not part of OPEC,
cash resource is oil; hates CO2 checks.

U.S. country’s vast, four-million miles squared
while Azerbaijan has tenth of it there.
U.S. population’s three-twenty-five,
shy of ten-million is Azerbaijan.

U.S. Constitution, First Amendment,
has clause prohibiting establishment
of state religion or prohibition:
Shia majority Azerbaijan.

Compared and contrasted two different States
defamed nor lambasted nor denigrate
a country whose name from tongue falls like pearls
hope someday to visit, give it a whirl.

TDFH

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Theatre driven facial hair
who am I today?
Theatre driven facial hair
what role get to play?

In need of handlebar mustache,
Hercule Poirot’s,
Murder on Orient Express
for this role must grow.

C.S. Lewis’ Narnia
ruled by White Witch queen
features a faun, Mister Tumnus
whose chin’s not shaved clean.

Men in plays by William Shakespeare,
lest they are youthful,
should shroud their faces with full beard
at least van dyke grow!

“Big Stick” President Roosevelt
needs his manly stache:
Safety Razor, nineteen-oh-one,
better than throat slash.

I’m a clean shaver as a rule
unless role I seek
my theatre beard’s itching me
know it’ll feel better next week!

Theatre driven facial hair
who am I today?
Theatre driven facial hair
what role get to play?Image may contain: 1 person

SAP

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“I don’t need no stinking helmet;
got no brain need to protect.
Ride my cycle like a psycho,
if I crash scream, ‘You caused it!’

“Care and caution are for losers
reject your common-sense pleas!
Travel wrong way on the roadway;
it’s your job look out for me.”

Think that roadways are a playground?
Stunt riding on city streets?
Ride in darkness without headlights?
Swear drivers got heads of meat?

No reflection without mirror,
only goal is having fun!
Fun’s important, that’s for certain;
ever gonna grow up some?

One Way street signs ain’t suggestions,
you’re the cause bikers’ bad rap.
Fly down sidewalks, ignore red lights,
TLA makes you a SAP.

Have you heard of Social Contracts?
Quid pro quo means this for that.
Have you any brains to speak of?
Your riding is opposite.

Innumerate your many sins
take more time than I’m willing.
I’ll ride my bike slow like a square
hope your misdeeds arresting.

“I don’t need no stinking helmet;
got no brain need to protect.
Ride my cycle like a psycho,
if I crash scream, “You caused it!”

“Care and caution are for losers
reject your common-sense pleas,
travel wrong way on the roadway;
it’s your job look out for me.”

Aggressively Passive

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No automatic alt text available.Aggressively passive passive-aggression
not sure if I’m kidding or world’s biggest jerk
Surly and sullen, non-communicative
Can’t Get What You Want one of Stone’s greatest works

Joe Jackson framed statement little bit different
“You can’t get what you want,” is not meant to taunt
seems a priori, “Till you know what you want,”
rationalizing keeps me noncombatant

“Nobody loves me, everybody hates me,”
is how Martin Luther felt Diet of Worms
Need Reformation, postpone Extreme Unction
aggressively passive is now how the worm turns

So adolescent when I fall to ennui,
“Nothing much matters,” long with, “What if it did?”
Need to climb mountain, falling escalator
sometimes wanna scream like I’m a spoiled kid

Overt aggression as display of passion
reeks of imbalance so I hold it all in
Refuse to succumb to pique of my passion
so passive-aggressive I mask with my grin

White, Anglo-Saxon, damn wasp with a stinger,
no hot-blooded anger boils out from within
I’ll steam and simmer, refuse to take action
get no nutrition swallowing own toxins

Aggressively passive passive-aggression
not sure if I’m kidding or world’s biggest jerk
Surly and sullen, non-communicative
Can’t Get What You Want one of Stone’s greatest works

Attention Whore

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Image may contain: Keith Kenel, smiling, hat and closeup
You call my name I don’t know yours
Do I know you? I am unsure
Attention whore is what I am
I story tell, full of flimflam

Gregarious with bonhomie
that does not make us best buds, see?
I have a job, I do it well
and dead air time I story tell

I spin foma, find granfaloons
Kurt Vonnegut sang Saturn’s moon
We lived same place at different times
connection made the thinnest kind

I’m glad you liked working with me
but you mistook intimacy
I’m puppy like (don’t pee on floor)
I’m just salesman, you’re customer

You call my name I don’t know yours
Do I know you? I am unsure
Attention whore is what I am
I story tell, full of flimflam

Tickle Pink Wine

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You vowed you’d always love me
forever be entwined
French kissing made us heady
long with Tickle Pink wine

We’d sneak off to the playground
beneath cover of night
we’d suck-face on the swing-set
bathed in finest moonlight

Always a little anxious
that someone’d come around
but hormones give teens courage
and you held me spellbound

Rich called it, “conversation”
we called it making out
Always stood at attention
of that there is no doubt

Carousal made me dizzy
combined with the vino
uncertain of your limits
wondered how far you’d go

We fumbled in the darkness
I was an octopus
explored your nooks and crannies
while ‘gainst your ass I pushed

Swing-set was our favorite
we’d make four leg’ed spider
I’d thrust up from the bottom
caused spinneret to stir

The motion was delicious
had rush from swing and you
and detaching your bra-strap
brought your breast into view

Our love so adolescent
we thought would always last
but like my staying power
it came to end too fast

Like Moses at the Jordan
did not finish journey
though we played hot and heavy
on swing-set carnally

Play-grounds not just for children
advise keep that in mind
sanitize flat surfaces
fore planting your behind

You vowed you’d always love me
forever be entwined
French kissing made us heady
long with Tickle Pink wine