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.

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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.

Stoning Time

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Real men wear blue, effemes don pink,
damn rainbow hues led us to brink.
Brink of the end, observe the signs,
men lay with men? It’s stoning time.

Most righteous God, He did decree
men are masters: Patriarchy!
Order ordained by God on throne
death to the ones who’d overthrow.

Overthrow laws that do declare
Nature’s order Bible does share.
Sharia Law? But it’s done right:
Mohammedans ul-ul delight.

The Host of Host -Sing Hosanna!-
has paved the way that stoning’s love.
For every time a nail head pops
with Bible verse condone stone fops.

The girly men and the dykes with
a finger in we’ll teach with fists.
Just supplicate, and fall to knees
my mighty rod I’ll place in thee.

For thou art naught lest we say so,
we make the rules upon which prey.
We’ll pray for you, just get in line;
patriarchy is rule divine.

No room for doubt, no need for change,
avoid the stones; fate is ordained:
And we who have the upper hand
know God made rules, not made by man.

Each has his place, each has his role,
conform, rejoice! Don’t make us stone.
For I’m the way, the truth, the light
I’m king of kings, beware my might.

Cookie cutter beats man diverse,
rebelliousness’ not gift, but curse.
Just fall in line, do as you’re told,
we can be great as days of old.

Troupe Savant: a “Measured” poem

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This day of day
and night of nights
we play and romp
with troupe savant.
For all are wise
and all are brave
beneath stage lights
lest they be knaves.

We’ve screens that mask,
rightly conceal
from audience
till big reveal.
The wicked twists
in playwright’s plot,
stunned audience
reaction’s got.

There’s scattered hints,
there’s subterfuge
and deception
is golden ruse.
For if you know
all that’s to come
then you’ve missed out
on half the fun.

It’s suspension
of disbelief
that makes the play
fait accompli.
So, settle in
as lights go down
and let story
your souls confound.

For every hour
is precious gift
and all at times
need a short lift.
Lift from the cares
and daily woes,
hope you, dear friends
enjoy the show.

It’s curtain time
the lights are dimmed
and we your troupe
will entertain.
We’ll do our best,
we may break legs,
and if you boo?
Hope you catch plague.

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Self Immolation

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Self immolation, the strike of a match,
illumination, your life you’ve dispatched.
From dust you were born, to ash you’ve returned,
your life extinguished, no more your soul burns.
The soul searing flame that inside you raged
you could not conquer and failed to assuage.
The darkness won out, the cancer within,
so on altar black released your toxins.

 Quarter century, so short a lifespan,
in our hearts a boy, pain of an old man.
Darkness at noontime, and blackness at night
did you think the flames would show us the light?
Was it a beacon, a pillar of light,
you hoped to create when ended your life?
All around sorrow, a pain that’s bone deep,
Poe’s, “Nevermore,” chant in our ears repeats.

 Ever gone smiles, sunshine nevermore,
gray that you battled we’ll feel ever more.
We search for message among your charred bones:
Slight scent from your ash elicits our moans.
Son of another you fill me with tears
impotently weep for all your lost years.
Can’t drown flame with tears, can’t bring you back, son.
Pray no more follow path you have chosen.

 For candle you lit when you struck your match
I fear will catch fire and others dispatch.
There’s pain all around and in youngsters’ deaths
a million fold’s pain for we, the bereft.
Rail against darkness and search out the light
go not by own hand into that dark night.
Myopic vision, world’s blurred through your tears!
Self immolation- hearts forever seared.

 

Ease In Slip Divine: a “Measured” poem

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Passion, power, beauty,
innocence, lechery
forces intertwining
whose Measure we shall see.
Justice without mercy,
actions sans consequence,
yoke of patriarchy
pulls on fair sex’s necks.

Energized and focused
as we sail to love touch
every sense ignited,
all of you’s not enough.
From high crown to base soles,
spare not inch in between
with figure hourglass,
hugging curves, torrid scene.

Luscious coves twixt valleys
that beckon, “Please explore!”
brightest day or nighttime
forever I’ll want more.
Sight of the high mountains
my lips long so to touch,
trippingly tongue travels
to coulee loved so much.

Great passion, not fury,
as pulse beat does red-line
I must slow my engines
as ease in slip divine.
Narrow is the channel
and it’s walls do encroach
takes master of river
to govern engine’s strokes.

Many times have miscued,
many times tripped my tongue,
but tonight’s traversed trip
as a troupe we have won.
We have gone the distance,
we have sailed swimmingly,
ever am I grateful
when we two sail love’s sea.

Many are the channels
that we shall dive into
myriad companions
lovingly journey too.
To sunset we set sail,
each evening sky resets
and as we waves do cruise
each new day play begets.

Let us play wet ocean,
let us play on dry land,
let us play forever,
forever merry band.
For there is no feeling
that comes close to stage boards
as a troupe we travel
to places so adored.

“Parting is sweet sorrow,”
Romeo, Juliet
we shall take our Measure
long as the stage is set.
Bacchus, Dionysus,
whether Greek or Roman
to gods we pay homage
as bow when play is done.

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Measure Of You: a “Measured” poem

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Another night I play for crowd
feel I’m alone though throngs abound.
Score upon score have eyes on me,
I scan the throngs but you don’t see.
I had high hopes that you’d appear,
but though I long you don’t draw near.
Know I my need is childish,
your approval’s sincerest wish.

Bright lights, applause, they move me not,
your radiance see not one watt.
Heartfelt, deep thanks cause bow from stage,
to no measure my need’s assuaged.
You’re only one who owns my heart
and in your hands all my dreams start,
but dreams of you cannot fulfill
deep aching need like your love will.

Gladly forfeit adoring crowd
if in return I’d win sweet vow.
Your vow to love, honor, cherish?
Unrequited; fear I’ll perish.
I’m creature now banished from light
as pine by day and play by night.
You are the sun, while I’m pale moon,
a winter bleak, no solstice June.

Sweet nightingales with soothing song
romances not when you are gone.
It’s mourning dove that you do hear
for when you wake I’m sleeping, dear.
Could red of night or pink of morn
be our playtime? Such burden borne.
Twenty-four hours, we share but one,
that cleaved in half, come moon, come sun.

You wake with dawn when I to bed
and when I rise you lay your head.
Far less shared time than I’d prefer,
what fate provides I shall endure.
I shall endure but never thrive,
fear I’m half dead, though love’s alive.
Measure our love in sweet intent,
measure of you must be content.

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Wrath Turneth Away: a work poem

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Frustrated, beat-down and unable to cope,
came at me like fury, thought had me on ropes.
Proverb says, “A kind word wrath turneth away,”
stayed calm and collected and by her side stayed.
Her body was ailing, her mind was not right,
easy to dismiss her but tried with my might
to give her support and help her overcome
dread manifestations to which she’d succumbed.
Spoke calmly and clearly, showed no hint of ire
as charge after charge disturbed woman did fire.
Her anger I allowed to wash over me
not one bit of her rant took personally.
She needed solution, she just needed help,
with mind-body failing had strength of a whelp.
But rather than spank her and send her away
my patience I summoned, let compassion sway.

 A body that’s failing, a mind in a fog
was her impetus and most proximate cause.
Just longs for the woman was short time ago,
I knew I could help so repeated slow,
slowly and with kindness each stumbling block
I helped her carry, showed her how to walk walk.
Though debilitation of hers is severe
without hesitation said, “I know your fears.
The fear of not coping, the fog and the haze
the longing for the you from just bygone days.
I cannot make you whole but can help you cope,
let’s get down to brass tacks,” I offered her hope.
She challenged my patience and my self-control
but after an hour my words start to take hold.
I gave her instruction and lab work hands-on
and slowly but surely in her a light dawned.

 Her frustration vented, she now could listen,
deliberated liberating lesson.
I’ve said it before and now say it again,
age induced decrepit’s debilitating.
Heartless it saps and steals body, mind and soul;
so hard to cope with fact of losing control.
But age is a fate with which most will contend
and patience a virtue that’s needed to win.
Frustrated, beat-down and unable to cope
came at me like fury, thought had me on ropes.
Spoke calmly and clearly, showed no hint of ire
as charge after charge disturbed woman did fire.
“The fear of not coping, the fog and the haze
the longing for the you from just bygone days.”
Her frustration vented, she now could listen,
deliberated liberating lesson.

Friar, Friar: A “Measure for Measure” story.

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I don’t do mystical much, which is a bit ironic as I’m playing Friar Peter, one of Shakespeare’s ubiquitous man-of-the-cloth father-figures, in Raleigh Little Theatre’s production of Measure For Measure. As I said, usually I don’t go for hocus-pocus explanations, but today I cast aside my unwillingness to suspend disbelief and just accepted that there are greater powers at work than mere mortals can ever know.

Reared Catholic, this friar-figure is pretty versed in that brand of Christianity and regardless of faith I know that thankfulness for the myriad blessings that flow our way never hurt anyone. Still, while I have  received blessings innumerable I no more credit God for said blessings than do I blame God for the slings and arrows that are cast my way. Things happen, sometimes I get lucky, sometimes not. Today I got lucky.

My day didn’t start lucky. I had grabbed two complimentary Measure For Measure preview tickets available to cast and crew with the intention of giving them to a coworker of limited means. A good thought, but one that proved irrelevant as preview night finds him working late, thus making him unavailable to attend. I tried another coworker but she too was unavailable that night and is planning to attend on a different date. Stymied in my original intent I placed the tickets in my wallet and took them along with me to my appointment at the Red Cross blood donation center with the idea that I might be able to distribute them to a worthy, unknown and in need theatre goer. At least, I think it was my idea, Friar Peter might have a different perspective.

I began giving blood in 1979 and continued to do so for about ten years, and then I couldn’t. My HIV status got in the way. The need for a safe blood supply is very important and around 1990 my blood got flagged because an HIV test came up “Indeterminant.”

Neither positive nor negative I headed to my physician who pronounced me HIV free, which was great, but the Red Cross, in their need to not only have but to appear to have a safe blood supply, declared me persona non grata in perpetuity. I, or at least my blood, wasn’t wanted. (They let me teach CPR and First Aid classes, no bogeyman there.) I lived an outcast and in the wake of 9/11 even begged the Red Cross to reconsider but they kindly but firmly told me no.

My lack of giving continued until 2015 when I moved to Florida. Florida, unlike most of the country, uses One Blood to collect blood, not the Red Cross. One Blood saw my negative HIV status and gladly took my blood over and over, a lovely circumstance that came to an end when I moved to North Carolina, a Red Cross state. Determined to remain a blood donor I petitioned the Red Cross via phone and email, explaining that I had been donating blood regularly for three years. Faced with a preponderance of evidence proving their lifetime Keith ban irrelevant they agreed to review my case. They did, I was clear, and I have been donating blood in North Carolina for the last year.

What does any of this have to do with providence, preview tickets and a higher power? Maybe nothing, but Deborah, one of the phlebotomist, (that’s blood sucker for those who don’t like four syllable words) is the woman who took my blood. Deborah, a tiny New York City born and bred puertorriqueña age mate, has taken my blood before. In fact, I had convinced her to audition for Measure For Measure but she got cold feet.

She also got thyroid cancer, but that was in the past. Deborah grabbed the next gal in line but after doing the initial iron count, checking blood pressure and other check-list items the would be donor was ineligible to give today so Deborah, who would not have otherwise taken my blood, did.

I had seen Deborah right after our auditions but not since so it was with great sadness that I learned that she is again having thyroid troubles and will be traveling back to NYC and Mount Sinai for further treatment. I asked her if two tickets to our play would help her feel better and her tear soaked eyes assured me they would.

I gave my tickets to a gal who dedicates her life to helping others, a woman I’m determined to bring with me to an audition and one who is grateful under literally life challenging circumstances. I don’t know about a higher power, but I know Deborah and I went full circle for our Measure For Measure and I couldn’t be happier about her and her mother being in our audience on Wednesday.

Oh! By the way? During donation I also learned that Deborah has a phobia-
about vampires! She related a recent dream of hers right out of 1972’s  blaxploitation film Blacula in which a dead ringer for film star Charles McCauley gave her something a bit deeper than a hickey.

Get it? She’s a bloodsucker with a fear of mythical bloodsuckers! I’m definitely calling Higher Power on that one.

Here’s to measuring up.

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Authoritative

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Authoritative expert to masses did decree
how Bacchus’ children should wrangle theatrically.
Close quarter pugilists that were schooled by Lucio
slapped, raped and assaulted on a stage theatrical.

With great dedication and the finest of panache
measured our drill sergeant as he fought for zero cost.
Through combat mock and mighty and slap to bro from sis
Lucio demanded actors take but slightest risk.

Elbows flying skyward as he she runs in pursuit
soon upon her masses elbows stuck though resolute.
Everywhere are touches look extemporaneous
General maestro every punch choreographs.

Not just in the acting but in the instructing too
Lucio’s a master, many skills come shining through.
To watch him on the stage is experience that’s sweet
but as tactician mage his skill is fait accompli.

Out To Sea

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Good Lord, calcification my head has turned to block
a skull of marbled granite fear’s what my neck does rock
Sailboat requires tacking to get most anywhere
but when winds misdirect me it’s end of world I swear.

In world where nothing’s certain except taxes and death
I find that smallest detour instills in me distress
Some problems quite substantial may cause aplomb to molt
but these mountains from molehills fear transform me to dolt

Despite placid façade inside me bile churns
might think by age three-score some patience may have learned
Tis said patience’s a virtue, and mostly I’ve enough,
but patience drifts out to sea moment storms seas rough

In search of safety harbor fear I have run aground;
hard to be adventurer when detours do confound
I will still skim the ocean, I will sail seven seas
if you see me flounder send lifeboat after me.

Snags of the backwaters and eddies in a stream
though quite navigable make nightmare from my dream
Woe to you on ocean and woe to you on sea
know my mind needs bailing from mental tsunamis.

Dress: a “Measured” poem

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Whether in rags or finest gown,
dressed to the nines, or mere beach bound,
she is a sight beyond compare;
know it’s my heart on sleeve she wears.
Lovely to eye, beauty in sight,
angels trumpet, holy delight.
Scent of flower, stamen, pistil,
heaven’s revealed; true epistle.

Letter of law, as well intent,
to look on her wholly content.
When she’s in view all else grows pale;
angelic hosts, her worth do hail.
Hail and hearty, vigor of youth,
glorious lass beyond reprove.
In splendor walks amongst bright stars,
wisdom and truth she is lodestar.

Counsel worthy, lend her an ear:
True path you seek? To her draw near.
Tongue’s sometimes sharp, never intent,
she’s brightest light, incandescent.
Bathed in a light that’s whitest white,
spectrum revealed, rainbow delight.
All the colors mortal eyes see
she does transcend royal beauty.

Ode to her gown, or pair of gloves;
fortunate wear! For her they touch!
Glorious curves, ten fingertips,
elicit song, very garments.
Stars, moon and sun she does eclipse,
from high Heaven my love’s absent.
Spirits on high her created,
no mere mortals her could have bred.

True love’s raiment around her wraps,
peerless beauty, grace without lapse.
Silk, leather, lace, linen or wool
entrances she and ever will.
Fortunate are they who do spy
my lovely one sashaying by,
beauty of face, beauty of form
with clothes she dons mere cloth’s reborn.

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