A memorable day across the Rio de la Plata in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay:
Water bottle battlefield
We escaped Buenos Aires aboard a ferry in
steerage struggling across the Rio de la Plata
headed to another land, its stories ancient
and military with fortress and basilica.
Beer and fruit and bread sustained us as
we sailed the broad river, more sea than stream.
Docking we disembarked into the barrio historico,
bougainvillea blooming wild above ancient
arches and cobblestones, its square moldering,
iron fences swooning left and right, curbs sinking.
The lighthouse tower cast a long shadow,
its Cyclops eye winking back at Buenos Aires.
Fortress soldiers stood at attention in formation,
knights and pawns and rooks wrought from
melted water bottles misshapen on a chess board.
We tourists moved them on the battlefield until
by day’s end their war was more a mosh pit.
Walking a couple dogs on a brisk December night is one of life’s simple pleasures!
I squire the pups down past our
tower of holiday lights, down to where
the neighborhood lights shine in
clustered rainbow constellations,
ancients’ stories assembled in straight
angles and wrapped trees.
The cold monochrome sky above,
Lordy, it’s smeared with stars
telling stories we can only imagine
as we have it all here and now —
evergreen tang and oak smoke,
safe passage through black of night,
life force leashed and panting.
Sitting in a North Beach cafe–across Columbus from City Lights–I inhabited a moment of grace.
North Beach Grace
My journey to this table well set
with silverware and olive oil
began decades ago and an hour ago,
a tunnel and bridge path inflamed
in the furnace of late autumn sunset.
In this gilded moment I await my beloved
and our precious charge, wine on its way –
and here they are, enlivened and happy,
seated beside me, enthusing their day.
On this kind December evening we bask
under holiday lights coloring the shadows,
giving thanks for blessings bestowed.
Far be it from me to attempt to translate Shakespeare. Let this be an appreciation, filtered through my sensibilities.
Sonnet 73 Revisited
My eyes are glinting for you
reflecting fall trees’ losses
amid final colors where
not long ago birds sang
and you thrilled to me
not knowing it was me.
Winter solstice is next,
darkness tipping the scale
yet light abides, I see you still;
darkness almost conquers
but I see you still.
Sonnet 73, William Shakespeare
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
As we hear the daily dirge in this Season of Slaughter there seems to be a dichotomy of emotions doing battle as well. It’s fragmentary and complex, at least for me, and here I put it to words:
Choice is yours
Engage or avoid?
Excise or fertilize?
Let ’em in or keep ’em out?
Fight or flee?
Turned cheek or haymaker?
Middle finger or arm wave?
Smile or grimace?
Move it or squash it?
Offered hand or closed fist?
Tears of joy or sadness?
Pay it forward or pay a fine?
Bless fortune or decry fate?
Imagine or forget?
Be grateful or bitter?
Help or hinder?
Think or react?
Anger or compassion?
Attack or forgive?
Laugh or snarl?
Smooth or roil?
Hate or love?
Last night midnight arrived and the calendar turned to December 1–my dog Zorro’s birthday, may he rest in peace. He’s been gone for more than a year but will never be forgotten. So on this day I remember:
First of December comes around,
I’m busy with end of year errands —
and then I remember it’s his birthday.
He was the runt of a bastard litter,
survivor of a cannibal mother
and a chaotic breeder. My son wept and willed
him into our car and our lives.
He accelerated like a dragster fetching
lacrosse balls, his favorite prey.
On gnarly trails, I ate his dust.
He frolicked in cattle wallows emerging
muddied with a toothy Cheshire dog grin.
He aged with a salt and pepper mug,
a few front teeth short of a head shot.
On our last birthday walk we took our time,
kept to flat valley trails, pace slow to savor
our time together.
As years pass our calendar fills with days
of birth or death, dates to mark or mourn.
For me the first of December
wears my buddy’s grin.