Flyin’ To Ya

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Descended stairs
to the concourse
where piano played
a moving chorus
and he brought me
to tears
with Hallelujah.
Hallelujah,
Hallelujah,
always cry at
Cohen’s
Halle-lu-u-u-u-u-u-u-juah!

The sun’s not up
this Christmas morn
yet round the world
praise, “Son is born!”
As with the teeming throngs
we’re flyin’ to ya.
Flyin’ to ya,
Flyin’ to ya,
all jammed in aeroplanes
and flyin’ to
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ya.

Though sting of tears
may mist my eyes
My heart still sings
joyous reprise:
Hallelujah,
Hallelujah,
Halle-lu-u-u-u-u-u-u-juah.

Flyin’ to ya,
Flyin’ to ya.
Not angel’s wings
just aeroplane
that brings me to ya.
Brings me to ya,
brings me to ya.
Halle-ay-ay-ay-lu-u-juah

“Love is not a victory march,”
you cleanse my soul,
uplift my heart
(Hope you knew that.)
Hallelujah,
Hallelujah,
Halle-lu-u-u-u-u-u-u-juah!

Hallelujah,
Hallelujah,
Halle-lu-u-u-u-u-u-u-juah.

Perspective and Praise

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I posted the following on Facebook:
“I can abhor Trump without demonizing his followers.”

This garnered 111 comments from friends, mostly rants demonizing the “other side.” (Le sigh!) In response to my friends’ rants I shared my poem “Base and Blind” to which my friend Tom replied, “I’ve read a lot of your writings. That may be the best.” Tom’s comment got me thinking about my writing from a different perspective, a perspective not of recording and sharing my thoughts, feelings and opinions but rather how my scribblings may be judged by others, a topic I only consider when dealing with extremely sensitive subjects. For the most part I write me with the unspoken invitation of, “Hey, y’all! Here’s what’s going through my head. Wanna see?”

Self-expression, rather than good, better, best (Or for that matter, bad, badder, worst!) is my priority, not the judgement of my readers. (Though I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I like “Likes” and LOVE comments.) Tom’s comment got me thinking about how my writings are viewed by me versus readers.

I started writing poems for friends decades ago and quickly learned that most people find poems about themselves FABULOUS! Sending someone a poem about them is almost sure to garner glowing praise but the praise tends to be shallow. They’re not evaluating the poem’s content, structure or ability to hold interest they’re just thrilled somebody (ME!) wrote about them.

When receiving praise from the subjects of my poems I try to remember a language lesson my tenth grade teacher MS Lyons delivered back in 1976. She warned of vapid, subject based accolades that do not reflect the quality of the writing but rather the predispositions and prejudices of the reader. MS Lyons explained that sometimes people who love kittens find any and every thing kitten praise worthy. Bad paintings, bad poems, horrid prose, doesn’t matter, if it’s kittens then they’re smitten. I love being told that something I wrote is good but praise based on subject rather than content, while appreciated, is given very little credence.

I try to evaluate my writing based on whether it works or not. Does it get my point across, does it keep the reader’s attention, does it put images in readers’ heads, is the spelling and grammar correct and therefore not a distraction? Throw in some fun alliterations and a few rhymes to make the writing fun and I may have written something I find praise worthy.

Last in my goals is word length. In today’s society a 500 word essay is considered long, a circumstance of which I am aware but rarely act on.

Base And Blind

Oh, we the righteous do decree
that all shall see the world as we
and if you dare to disagree
we righteous shall mock and shun thee

If you support the evil side
with widest brush we will apply
the taint from which can’t run nor hide:
We know the truth as testified

Inquisition not just old Spain
for we righteous bring back its reign
our instruments your blood will drain
as condescend and spew disdain

There are two camps, one wrong one right,
and you the wrong we right shall smite
for paradise, bombast, cordite
we know sole path from dark to light

Don’t speak to us of your concerns
contemptibles we righteous spurn
just get on board, backward slatterns
or be cast in bubbling cauldron

We know your hearts, we know your minds
your very souls are hateful kind
repent your sins, you unrefined
for all you are is base and blind

Blind to the truth of your cancer
that we can rout, we are the cure!
You are disease, you base adders
we righteous know how to skewer

We’ll call you out, though haven’t met,
for there’s no room for your dissent
and if you dare to share mindset
our wrath shall be your epithet

Oh, we the righteous do decree
that all shall see the world as we
and if you dare to disagree
we righteous shall mock and shun thee

Love of Ours

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The moon appeared in splendor, big and bold and bright,
watched her with my darling and felt my heart take flight.
Sky above Atlantic moon shared with sky of stars,
to south circled Saturn, red hued gave hint of Mars.

Sweet lovely, languid hours twilighted into night,
final days of summer, watch Selene’s arc of flight.
Sky of brightest azure transformed to smoke, then black:
Contrail pierces Luna, bleeds not from the attack.

On a strip of island gentrified beachy homes
laid out in grid pattern, dominoes wait for storm.
To everything a season, slipping into fall,
bright moon keeps on shining, reflection for us all.

No light does she emit, yet symbolizes love?
Both barren and frigid, why look we to above?
There’s love all around us on Earth verdantly rich;
warm hearts, human grappling, let souls entwine in tryst.

Selene with your magic you do naught but mock me;
ever cold and distant, yours is deadly beauty.
Beauty cold and distant? Without cal’rie of heat?
Never can compare to two hearts that as one beat.

Lover’s peaks and valleys, the heat of passion’s kiss,
these from Selene missing, let’s long remember this.
Give me flesh and sinew over a billion stars,
though reflection’s lovely rather have love of ours.

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.

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 indoor

We 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.

The Dog That Could Count: 1 of 8- A Jack Magsasaka Tale

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Lola and I sat at Otta and Libby’s kitchen table sipping coffee and watching big, wet, snowflakes tumble from the mid-April Iowa sky.

“And this is exactly why we left Iowa,” Lola declares, shaking her head. “I hate the cold!”

“That is exactly correct,” I reply with a smile. “We left because you hate the cold. It’ll all be gone before eight o’clock.”

“Ridiculous!” she replies. “Snow in April! We have to get them to move to North Carolina.”

“Yes, my love, whatever you say, but for now we are here and I think I hear Jack.”

Quesa lifts her head from the couch at the sound of Jack’s approaching footsteps and then hops down to the floor as Jack calls, “Lola? Lola? Where are you, Lola?”

“We’re in the kitchen, Mr. Cutie Pie!” Lola replies from her seat.

“Buttercup!” I exclaim, greeting my only grandchild with arms outstretched.

“I’m not Buttercup!” Jack replies, smacking himself on the forehead with an open palm as he walks past his grandfather and into the arms of his grandmother.

Lifting him from the ground Lola says, “That’s right! He’s Mr. Cutie Pie, aren’t you Mr. Cutie Pie? How’d you sleep?”

“Good,” Jack replies.

“Did you go to the bathroom?” I ask.

“No.”

“Want me to take you?”

“No,” Jack says with a heavy sigh, “I can do it.”

“Okay,” I say from my seat, “and don’t forget to wash your hands!”

Jack again rolls his eyes and sighs heavily as he slips from Lola’s arms to the floor and heads back in the direction that he came.

“What do you think,” I ask Lola as Jack turns the corner, “is he going to wash his hands?”

“Absolutely,” Lola replies with a sharp head nod, “because I’m going to go make sure he does.”

“Plan,” I say, rising from my seat and following my bride of nearly 35 years through the kitchen as we head to the bathroom.

Black and White Negative

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Even though I had the day off I drove to work Thursday. I arrived just after 9:00 a.m. and rolled the used Mongoose I’d hauled from the trash dumpster to my house the week before back to the shop because I needed to utilize tools I just don’t have at home, tools like a propane torch.

The bike’s bottom bracket, that’s the guts and bearings between your feet that allow the crank to spin when you push on the pedals, was rusted in place to a point beyond the means of my meager garage workshop. I needed BTUs to break those cups free and after multiple attempts with a propane torch, proper tools and technique I successfully dis and then reassembled the rough-hewn Mongoose Hotshot’s bottom bracket with fresh grease and fresh bearings.

NOTE- fire is fine on thick steel frames but can set a carbon fiber flyer on fire. Don’t do it!

Mission accomplished, I put the low caste cast off on my bike rack and headed home. Remembering that I was low on gas (that’s petrol for those of you who don’t speak American) I pulled into the BP station on the corner of Maynard and Kildaire Farm roads and navigated the crowded and ill conceived station’s pump layout, slowly and carefully threading my small Toyota Corolla needle through the eye of two filling station islands that can accommodate eight cars simultaneously if the drivers work together and pull forward at the pump.

Desiring to be a compliant Climate Change consumer I pulled all the way forward on the side closest to the station proper where I encountered a vintage sedan in the throes of gymkhana. Not knowing if he was coming or going I watched as his car negotiated the tight squeeze with lack of ease and multiple turns and then saw a young man lean out of the driver’s side and gesture that he was trying to use the pump to which I had just advanced. Sighing, I check my rearview mirror, see that all is clear behind and back up one space to allow the other driver access to a pump.

I exit my car and the black and white negative image of my son climbs out of the one in front of me. Tall, slender, sporting two feet long dreads with a short beard and black skin he is the complement to my son who is tall, slender, short haired, sports a one foot long russet colored beard and is white. The man smiles, waves and politely thanks me for accommodating him.

“Of course!” I respond with a jovial tone, adding, “I only did it because I like your hair! Jealous!” as I reference my thinning and mostly gray hair.

He smiles, waves again and goes inside to pay cash to the attendant as I type in my mother’s maiden name, social security number and solve the riddle of the Sphynx (Thanks, Oedipus!) in order to fill up using my credit card.

He returns, starts to fill his tank, looks my way and again voices his appreciation for my tiny good deed before nodding to my car and asking, “You ride bikes a lot?”

I hesitate a moment as I consider my audience. As someone who used to ride 5,000+ miles every year but who now gets to maybe 4,000 I’m not sure of my answer but reply, “I do, but not as much as when I was your age.”

“That’s cool,” he says, opening his rear left side door and pulling out a long board skateboard, “I use this.”

“Ha!” I bark, “well wear your damn helmet, Sean!” referencing the son that he reminds me of. The man’s head jerks back, his eyes narrow and his lips purse in response so I add, “Sorry. You remind me of my son Sean, that’s all.”

“Oh!” he declares as he laughs out loud. “That freaked me out. My name is Rashawn.”

“Got it! I read minds you know. You twenty-eight years old?”

“Close! Twenty-nine.”

“My Sean is 28. He has a long board. Looks a lot like you.”

“Nice!” he replies as he screws his gas cap back on. “You have a good one!”

“You too, Rashawn. Nice chatting.”

And it was.

Joe Kleen- Southern Hospitality: EPILOGUE

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February 24, 1990
The 58 degrees that welcomed the Kleens home to Atlanta had made Joe smile with delight while the pleasantly cool for two-thirds through winter Atlanta weather already had Misty pining for her days of eighty-degree Saint Kitts bliss.

Sunday is still a day of rest even following a week of vacation but early Monday morning Joe awakens to wet and warm. Two hours later Misty, after kissing Joe goodbye, sets off to work for the first time in eleven days with the sun nothing but a bright patch low on a horizon of storming clouds. Joe flips on his television for a WAGA weather check and hopes that, as predicted, the morning’s showers will end preceding his 11 mile cycle commute to work. Mother nature accommodates with a change to dry but cold and Joe heads back to a leisurely day of work with his North Fulton teammates for the first time in eleven days.

Both Misty and Joe settle into their work routines, Misty determined to get all her files in order to facilitate an easier transition for her replacement in six weeks, while Joe luxuriates in the calm before the tsunami of cycling activity that invariably bursts upon the scene along with spring blossoms when sunshine and warmer temperatures return.

Saturday the 24th Joe heads for home tired and frustrated after spending the majority of his work day laboring long and hard overhauling a well-used and poorly maintained early seventies Schwinn Voyageur that had been brought in for a long overdue overhaul, the bike’s galvanically bonded seatpost and stem presenting him with delicate, tedious and unforeseen extra labor.

Arriving home just as twilight shifted to darkness he unlocks the side door to his garage, racks his commuting bike safely on its hook and, once inside the house, flips on the stairwell lights to illuminate the near blackness that greets him before ascending the stairs. At the top of the stairs he finds Misty sitting next to the fireplace in one of two armchairs gifted to them by her parents when they had purchased their home three years earlier, her cheeks wet with tears.

Shocked to see his pillar of strength in tears he rushes to her side, falls to one knee and asks, “Sweetie? What is it?”

“Nothing,” she whispers quietly. “It’s literally nothing. Just got my period, that’s all.”

Beat Mercurial Rock

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Summer is a bummer
for those can’t stand the heat
I find temps oppressive
though the long days are neat
Get a break some mornings
near sunrise six o’clock
coolest just ‘fore dawning
beat mercurial rock

Like a sinewave writhing
the temps flow low to high
Sol is root of solstice
Icarus fell from sky
Rocking with a rhythm
as I do rise and rhyme
look like I’ve just showered
I’m sweat drenched in no time

Twilight segues dawning
the view just can’t be beat
but heat as sun makes run
just knocks me off my feet
Both pasty and blue eyed
ancestors way up north
evolved in cold climate
from which my folk set forth

Into every lifetime
we know must come some rain
simile for sorrow
but sun’s causing my pain
If I placed in order
the seasons best to worst
spring, fall and then winter
but summer is my curse

You may be a lover
of all things summer set
but other than beaching
summer’s fate close to death
Ain’t exaggerating
the heat just does me in
my only solution
may be life nomading

Summer is a bummer
for those can’t stand the heat
I find temps oppressive
though the long days are neat
Get a break some mornings
near sunrise six o’clock
coolest just ‘fore dawning
beat mercurial rock

Joe Kleen- Southern Hospitality: 02/17/90, 14 of 14

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TWO-HUNDRED-SIXTY-FOUR
Misty and Joe ascended the wheeled metal stair ramp that allowed access to their flight from Basseterre to Miami and made their way to seats 9C and 9B on the Boeing 737 where Misty again claimed the aisle seat.

Joe slid over to the center seat but did not fasten his belt as Misty sits and exhales hard. “Well, we made it,” she says shaking her head.

“And we’re not even the last to board,” Joe says nodding.

“No thanks to MS frequent flier.”

“It is what it is, right?” Joe asks.

“That didn’t really bother you?”

“Yes, Misty, it bothered me. I did not like leaving so late and I certainly don’t like the cavalier attitude concerning her own actions while she’s rather touchy about the actions of others but we made it. We’re here, we’re ready to go and barring acts of God as Genevieve said yesterday we should touch down in Miami just after noon.”

“I thought it’s a three hour flight?”

“It is. No DST, remember? We gain our hour back that we lost.”

“That hardly seems fair, does it?” Misty says with a wink. “We should get the extra hour while we’re in Saint Kitts, not once we get home.”

“Home,” Joe says nodding slowly. “That actually sounds good believe it or not. Great as this has been I’m ready to be back home.”

“Well that’s one of us,” Misty says, smiling at the woman who stood in the aisle next to her who pointed to the empty window seat next to Joe.

“May I?” the woman asks.

“Of course,” Misty replies standing from her seat as Joe scoots over and also rises.

“Thanks,” 9A says.

“You’re welcome,” Joe replies.

Looking towards the front of the plane Kelsey and Justin give a hand raised salute followed by a thumbs up. Joe nods and salutes in return before gently elbowing Misty and saying, “Looks like they made it.”

“Good,” Misty says nodding, “that’s good. I may sleep all the way to Miami.”

“If only,” Joe replies with a peck and a wink. “Love you.”

“Love you too, Joe.”

As Joe sits he sings the title word of Bob Seger’s Miami.

Give Wings To Poor

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Consumerism
within U.S.A.
is topsy-turvey
from COVID melee
Consumer items
that were plentiful
now rare as hen’s teeth
so answered the call

Trash into treasure
both sense of the word
recycling bikes
pandemic did stir
Cottage industry
I run from garage
some bikes are fancy
while some are hodgepodge

Old bikes collected
just gathering dust
swore I’d sell “someday”
then demand was thrust
Came to attention
July of last year
the time was golden
make bikes disappear

I sold half-dozen
been hanging from hooks
that’s when I realized
and opportune took
Rather than passive
proactive became
collected old bikes
restored their good names

I’ve been a hoarder
most all of my life
collecting discards
(Cue eye roll of wife)
Sometimes I’m given
preposterous gifts
other times work with
discards from trash lift

I’ve now sold fifty
in under a year
some rather fancy
but mostly austere
Brings us to present
when in my garage
opposites waiting
my loving barrage

My workmate Michael
brought into the shop
vintage Trek bike frame
of quality top
An exquisite bike,
handmade in U.S.,
to me he gifted
I felt truly blessed

Still gathering parts
to make Trek complete
though have most I need
for small parts compete
with market worldwide
in high demand mode
like Richard the Third
(bikes not horses though.)

Detritus discard
is second reno
Mongoose origins
are most humble though
It’s cheap heavy steel,
the parts lowest class
took frame, fork and crank
the rest were just trash

I’ve all of the parts
Mongoose renovate
it’s mission of love
as discard I hate
The required time
for both bikes the same
sell Mongoose at “loss”
but with Trek reap gain

It’s good for the soul
to do the world good
and riding of bikes
most certainly would
create fitter us
protect Mother Earth
so that Mongoose trash
may have greater worth

Than the fancy toy
that Trek shall become
with frame’s pedigree
Reynolds five-three-one
Mongoose may be key
to opening doors
as that humble bike
can give wings to poor


Joe Kleen- Southern Hospitality: 02/17/90, 13 of 14

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TWO-HUNDRED-SIXTY-THREE
Doc Williams missed his nine o’clock arrival at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, but not by much.

Joe dutifully grabs his case, throws Doc a wave and says, “Thank you!” and quickly follows in his wife’s wake as she enters the airport proper and quickly makes her way to the Delta line where they queue. Once to the front they place their luggage on the scale, flash tickets and passports, are given boarding passes before being directed to customs. Boarding passes in hand Joe again follows Misty to customs where they spy another lengthier queue. When they reach the tail end of the line for customs Misty checks her watch, shakes her head, closes her eyes, inhales then exhales sharply. “I really hope we make this flight,” she says under her breath.

“‘I must not fear.” Joe says quietly. “‘Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.’ God forbid for that last part.”

“Now is not the time,” Misty replies, her mouth a scrunched prune, her nostrils perfectly engorged circles whose size and shape now facilitate the deep, even breaths she inhales and exhales with exaggerated care.  

The line advances and Justin, Kelsey, Phil and Courtney step into line behind Joe and Misty before anyone else falls into line behind.

 “Departure board says we’re on time,” Justin says. “I think we’ll make it,” he adds with a single head nod.

The queue advances slowly forward and Misty and Joe are motioned to advance by one of six clerks who performs a perfunctory Q and A while checking papers. “Thank you for visiting Saint Kitts,” the agent says placing paperwork back on the counter and reciting, “enjoy your flight,” while simultaneously waving the next in line forward.

Misty and Joe hurry to the gate where boarding has begun.

“Made it!” Joe says.

“Well we did,” Misty replies with a shrug. “We’ll see if they do.”

Hear What I Hear

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A fan, a plane, and the constant ring
sound of tinnitus my morning brings.
Day started early, just bit past two,
goal was three-thirty, sleep bid adieu.
Highway with six lanes beyond backyard
peacefully quiet this early hour.
No motorcycles throttles they hit,
mostly just semis somnambulant.

The wind is sighing but birds in trees
no throated warbles as they’re sleeping.
Dreaming of August when three shall come,
offspring and his wife, plus our grandson.
Boy will be staying with us few weeks
we’ll drive him homeward, such joy he brings.
Boy so endearing he owns our hearts
one-third of U.S. keeps us apart.

Eight billion people with beating hearts
new generation, old one departs.
World rushing headlong insanity
hope for the future grandson will see.
A world where justice ain’t spelled just us.
Global pandemic chaoticness,
Box of Pandora, all of world’s ills.
Hope everlasting despite travails.

New day soon dawning, what will it bring?
Four seasons cycle, rebirth each spring.
Fear optimism from me has fled
still I hear glories inside my head.
Glory of children, glory of love,
agape, eros, not hawks but doves.
The sound of laughter, I hear that too
new day is dawning, light rainbow’s hues.

A fan, a plane, and the constant ring
sound of tinnitus my morning brings.
Day started early, just bit past two,
goal was three-thirty, sleep bid adieu.
I’ve got it easy but still I fret
change only constant, life’s game roulette.
No one, it’s certain, gets out alive,
whisper of muses? “Live till you die.”

Joe Kleen- Southern Hospitality: 02/17/90, 12 of 18

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TWO-HUNDRED-SIXTY-TWO
As Misty paid and thanked Doc Williams for his week-long taxi service half of the two missing Kleens approached from the direction of the Royal Poinciana building.

“Hey,” Phil greets with a head nod to his brothers and their wives, “Court’s on her way down,” then adds, “Morning, Doc!”

“And good morning to you,” Doc William’s replies with an affable smile and multiple head nods. “Are we all assembled?”

“Not quite,” Phil says, nodding. “Courtney’s on her way.”

“Which we should have been twenty minutes ago,” Misty says under her breath.

“I should have you to the airport before nine, ma’am,” Doc says to Misty. “You should be fine, though I’m glad we aren’t leaving any later.”

“Best waylaid plans of Mice and Lennie,” Joe says under his breath.

“Hey,” Justin says nodding towards the pool area, “here she is,” in response to Courtney’s approach. “Shall we?” he asks, gesturing towards the van.

“Let’s,” Misty replies eyebrows rising and falling as she walks to the front passenger seat van door, “that way we can go once we’re all assembled,” as she opens the door and climbs in.

Joe slips into the seat behind Doc Williams’ and softly sings to Misty, “‘But when that last guitar’s been packed away you know that I still want to play. So just make sure you got it all set to go before you come for my piano.’”

“Pretty sure we’ve overstayed,” Misty replies, shaking her head without turning towards her husband, “but so long as we make our plane I guess everything’s irie, eh man?”

Tom Sawyer is laughing

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It’s easy to laugh at conspiracy theories, that is, it’s easy to laugh until you find yourself falling victim to one. Me? Mine’s as old as Tom Sawyer and white washed fences and I’m afraid I played right into their diabolical little scheme!

May Day has many meanings, but in my case it was the beginning of the scam. I’m not sure how many players were involved and if the con was organic or planned, I just know that I’m the one who got took. How you ask? Allow me to elucidate.

Matt Ford, a friend of mine in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is a Relator. He posted a listing on Face Book and the accompanying picture looked very familiar. When I clicked on the photo I realized that the property lay about halfway between our former residence and the elementary school that I walked my children to daily beginning in 1998. Once on Google maps I scrolled northward to the residence we left in August 2015. When I switched to satellite view it looked as though someone was in my old yard so I changed to street view and was amused to see a photo of my wife cutting the lawn.

Amused? Well, my wife left Iowa six years ago and there she was immortalized on Google Maps. I texted my wife and our far flung children, “Remember when Google Earth had a photo of the green van in the driveway of one of Sean’s friend’s house?” referencing a photo over a decade old. “While she does way more work around and especially inside the house than I do they have her cutting the lawn which I do at least 80% of the time.”

My text created an uproar.

My daughter in law Katie responded with, “I don’t ever remember you mowing the lawn. I always see Pat doing it. I literally just told John that too.”

Pat joined in the texting: “Hahaha, Keith is convinced he mows the lawn 90% of the time. I disagree. Now he is marking the calendar when the lawn is mowed and who does it. So far he is ahead with 1.”

Four days elapsed and on May fifth I wrote: “I cut the lawn today. Me do it. Pat has not cut the lawn all year.”

KATIE- You’re only doing it so you can get ahead right now.

PAT- You got that right, Katie, LOL.

KEITH- She told me to.

KATIE- Oh no, no, no. I’ve heard this conversation many times. Just because Pat told you to do it doesn’t mean you would actually follow through and do it.

KEITH- Crap. Busted.

I cut the lawn again but felt no need to brag, however on May 22nd my wife threw the gauntlet.

PAT- Not that it is a competition or anything, but Keith, 2; Pat, 1. For the year, hahahahaha.

KATIE- So what you’re saying is that Keith is done mowing for the year now.

Raleigh had a very dry spring and the lawn didn’t need to be cut again until June. On June third I tactfully texted, “Hey, Pat! Is it true that Keith has cut the lawn 50% more often than you have in 2021?”

KATIE- Season is still young.

PAT- Thank you, Katie.

KATIE- There’s literally Google Earth evidence Pat mows the lawn.

KEITH- Fake Noose!

06/05
KEITH- I beat Pat in our triathlon today!
(On the bike.)

KATIE- Did you win so she’d have to mow the lawn?

KEITH- She beat me but mostly in the swim.

KATIE- So overall loser has to mow the lawn.

KEITH- I have to mow the lawn regardless because statistically I am the one who mows the lawn.

KATIE- Pretty sure your stats are biased on emotion.

KEITH- 3 to 2

KATIE- **for now**

KEITH- 4 to 2 comes next.
I think Pat paid Katie to say Pat mows way more often than I do because now I’m going to go cut the lawn to retake the lead.

Patricia cut the lawn May seventh which brought the score to three all. She informed me that the lawn needed to be cut again on May 13th. I made sure I  beat her to it so she would not get the upper hand. It was then that I realized that my wife and daughter in law were in cahoots and that I was being played.

06/13
KEITH- There’s something very Mark Twainish going on here.

KATIE- Let me just tell you how hard I cackled at that.

Oh, she’s cackling is she? The question is why is she cackling? Is it because I’d been had? Because I saw through the ruse, or because it was all just innocent ramifications from a picture from our past? I may never know, but I have my suspicions. Tom Sawyer laughed all the way to the bank!