Wednesday, August 31, 2011


In all those years
when Russia claimed red as its own
I never gave in to it
and said O.K.
go ahead
take it


I’ll never allow Republicans
to own elephants


I like elephants
more than I like donkeys
or mules or jackasses
or whatever they are
on campaign

It’s like
when that woman
asked me
if I am pro-life

and I said
of course
insult me
and everybody else
by thinking
we believe the girl
only fourteen
raped by her dad
should just go ahead
and have the baby

and I found out
that same woman
was in favor
of killing
who helped
girls who

and you know
the rest of the story

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


It’s not true
though I want it to be so
that poetry is better
when it’s written with a fountain pen.

It is true
that poetry good or bad
has more to do with the soul
than with writing instruments.

Perhaps the very best
is never written at all
but spoken only once
straight out of a broken or joyful heart.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Where There Are No Clouds

People who live where there are no clouds
no storms no lightening and thunder no rain
are lulled into thinking life is always like that
and it isn’t... can’t be... all silent contentment
settled securely in some inner private space
waiting to be shattered suddenly and surely
unhinging everything that feels like safety.

...Better to live with reminders of trouble
like harmless snakes and timid elephants
that startle and keep their distance mostly
so when whatever it is that lives out there
comes in close and you feel its breathing
you won’t forget where and how to hide.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

OUR LILY IS BLOOMING OUT OF SEASON. It sent up the bloom unexpectedly three months after it usually blooms in the spring.


Have you noticed. Americans are beginning to look like what we say we are. We are finally in reality a rainbow society with rapidly shrinking pockets of population where the people who live there behave as if they believe the best society is a caste system with white straight people in the preferred, most blessed stratum. We still have a way to go, but we are no longer a nation where executives are all white and male. Although it’s obviously an aggravation for some folks, the President of the United States is not white, and people of other-than-white complexions are sitting in anchor chairs reporting national and local news. Medical clinic and hospitals, and not just in the poorest sections of America, are staffed by people of color working alongside supervisors who are no longer mostly white. When I went for my annual physical recently, the receptionist was a Latina speaking Spanish to someone on the telephone before she turned her attention me and asked in perfect, educated English to know my identification number and my doctor’s name. An African American medical assistant got me ready to see the doctor by checking a computer data file the system maintains on me, and then she checked my blood pressure and temperature. My primary care physician’s parents were born in the Philippines. After a good visit with him, I went to have blood drawn by a man who grew up in Tijuana, Mexico.

There are exceptions to the multi-ethnic trend in American life. Mainline Protestant churches in America look pretty much the same as they did in 1960. In San Diego one of the places where the “old America” (quite literally old America because people there are mostly over sixty) still exists is in the Methodist church which I attend in Mission Valley. On any Sunday the sanctuary is a sea of white heads and white faces, the color pattern broken only occasionally with a person of color. Two white women (That’s a change from 1960), two white men and one Korean man serve as full-time clergy. They are good people who serve the congregation with dignity and great care. Generally members of the clergy have no problem with integration and would welcome it in their congregations if they could make it happen without taking a hit to the church’s treasury. They would just like to see the pews filled on Sundays. They know that all those old gray-beards and silver-haired women are the people whose contributions keep the church afloat financially; so however enlightened the clergy may be, social and political issues must be addressed subtly.

Most other protestant churches in San Diego look the same. The exceptions are the large retro-fundamentalist mega-churches that appeal to younger people, some of whom are people of color. Urban Roman Catholic churches are more multicolored because recent immigrants from Latin America and Asia are usually Catholic. Of course, Catholic churches can’t openly affirm non-traditional sexual orientation, so that particular kind of integration can’t even be discussed. Few churches in any belief tradition overtly welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons of any complexion. They are most comfortable not talking about it.

Many people going to church in America came of age before the civil rights movement of the Sixties and Seventies. For many of them the place they call “my church” is still a familiar, comfortable setting that reminds them of “the way it used to be.” Seniors who have not been transformed by their faith into people with “the mind of Christ” described in the Christian Gospel don’t change easily. They have difficulty making a late-life conversion to any new way of thinking that threatens to invalidate the way they have viewed the world up until the time they retired from active employment.

The future of the church may depend on whether or not it is successful in attracting into membership “All God’s People.” So far, that strategy has been a difficult sell to many lay people and even to some clergy. I end this journal writing abruptly with that same familiar quote from that same wise sage, Pogo. “We have seen the enemy, and it is us.” I also note, and I expect him to forgive me for naming him without his permission, that Mark Trotter, a retired pastor, is the prototype of my hope for the future of the church. Anyone who wishes to know why I have such faith in him may find out by going to the WEB site of The First United Methodist Church of San Diego and reading his three recent sermons about the patriarch Jacob. Click on “Worship” in the menu bar, then click on “sermons” at the bottom of the drop-down menu.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

All the World’s a Stage

In the terminal
gate 37
she sits straight
small still and somber
such a narrow pinched face
it might better fit a child’s body
but she is
and she regrets it
well past fifty and sorry
obviously sorry to be getting older
so she paints a younger face on
her second-hand head
eyebrows painted on flat forehead flesh
above blue eye shadow and black mascara
but the eyes don’t take the prize
the mouth does
a perfect brown red wax
with a thin line all around
a painted China death mask
faintly reminiscent of Lenin
lying there under the dim light
except for the clown colors
and this one moves
eyes alert for any quick change
a chance maybe
to show how young
and tight
everything is
everybody else may sag and wrinkle
yes sir look around and see for yourself
but not her
always waiting for the cue
every move a rehearsal
for the big moment
with an occasional small performance
and her skull must be a little bitty one
which makes me wonder
what will it look like
with all the powder paint
and yes
even flesh
Aiming my camera at the lady in the airport terminal was out of the question. That was yesterday before boarding flight 1749. Today's pictures are from the Davids' back yard in San Diego

Friday, August 26, 2011

Alarm bells are sounding today all along the Eastern regions of the United States as Hurricane Irene roars across American’s eastern coastal islands and shorelines. Evacuation is advised and in the regions where the dangerous storm may hit as it moves north. Another storm is looming in America, one from which the most vulnerable people will not be rescued. This storm is more global than regional or national.

Anybody who doesn’t know that the American middle class is vanishing has been either too drunk or too ignorant to notice what has been happening. Americans no longer fall, perhaps a much too appropriate verb, into three groups as they did in the second half of the Twentieth Century. Ours is fast becoming a nation of two groups: the rich ten percent who possess and control 96 percent of the wealth on one side, including the one percent at the very top who control 90 percent, and the rest of the population on the other side whose collective assets amount to four percent of the total wealth of America. In the next decade the winning side in the battle for resources won’t have a hard time hanging onto what they have. Those on the losing side are in for a devil of a ride, mostly a slide downward in most of the ways success is measured in American culture. Economists on both the left and the right agree on what America’s economic future will look like unless corrections are made very quickly. What to do about it is where they differ. This BLOG writing is not an opinion which has an expressed solution to the problem, but it is about what the general living conditions for the previously comfortable middle class will most likely be as that population’s secure assets gradually disappear.

I am feeling a rising sense of alarm for several reasons. First, trends indicate that many of the people who are unemployed now or will soon lose manufacturing jobs or technology based employment will remain jobless if they are unable or unwilling to take relatively lower paying service jobs. Most of them are not innovators, so they will be unable to do something new in the job category in which they have supported themselves previously. Second, these losers will ignorantly support candidates for political offices who will do the most harm to them. They tend to be drawn to people who look and act and sound like themselves. The best example of this tendency has been the rush of economically stressed people to listen to and to believe the Tea Party line. The Tea Party, which is neither Democratic nor moderately sensible Republican is a populist third party that tries hard to sound as if it is looking after the interests of the “little guy.” Sarah (who?) Palin and Michelle Bachmann have advanced as far as they have on the political stage because they look and sound like people who think of themselves as regular middle class Americans, and because they claim to represent the already very poor who own practically nothing and are struggling to keep the very little they have. The Tea Party discovered quickly that they can be attractive to the poor if they can successfully blame poverty on government. For them, “The poor we always have with us,” takes on a decided different meaning from that intended by the one who said it. Somehow the Tea Party strategists understand the saying to mean that they’d better find a way to get the poor on their side without having to actually do things that would help them. It is easy to see that Bachmann and her peers learned right away that the poor respond readily to pro-life, which on the surface has a nice ring to it, pro-marriage, as long as it doesn’t allow homosexuals to get in on that action, and a tax-free America, which would let them buy stuff cheaper which they can’t afford anyway and allow them not to pay taxes on property (which they have lost to foreclosure or never had in the first place).

Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry sound as if they have solutions. They don’t. Both of them are perhaps inadvertantly doing everything they can to exacerbate the problem. I’m not cynical enough to believe they are doing it on purpose to hurt the poor and to take down the middle class. They want to be elected, so they promise not to raise taxes even on the rich, which would be a logical thing to do... not even on the super rich. An obvious solution to the nation’s debt crisis would be to dramatically raise taxes on the richest one percent (Those who control the whopping 90 percent of the country’s wealth) in much the same way taxes were raised on the wealthiest citizens in the Forties and Fifties. A clear governmental strategy to tax the wealthy more heavily became very clear during the Republican Eisenhower Administration and promoted the development of the great middle class. Once again a tax rate of 80% to 90% on the super rich could slow the vanishing act of the middle class, but the Tea Party is fighting to keep the tax rate of even the wealthiest Americans at a maximum of 30% to 40% of “earned income” with virtually no tax on capital gains. There is little mention of the fact that the very rich have tax shelters that keep their actual tax “burden” at an even lower percentage than that of most middle income Americans. Because sound bites are so attractive to unthinking people, Bachmann and Perry and the other Republican candidates for presidency in the 2012 presidential race, all except perhaps Huntsman, are required to pledge not to raise taxes on anybody, (actually to sign their names to a pledge on paper if they want the support of lobbyists like Grover Norquist).

The Tea Party “plan” is a formula for disaster cleverly disguised as a safe haven in the approaching political storm. It doesn’t help or hurt the poor who already don’t have anything. It just swells the ranks of the poor. The Tea Party formula for national economic health will not create jobs. The wealthiest Americans already have all the people they need to serve them, so they aren’t going to change a dismal unemployment situation. They already have all the maid service they need to maintain their standard of living. The grounds of their estates are getting the attention required to make them havens of luxury and ease. No more pilots are needed for their private jets nor captains for their yachts. They've already got all that. The corporations they control will continue to send more work to overseas workers because that’s what makes sense when a first concern is the bottom line. Why not outsource jobs to places where the work can be done for dramatically lower labor costs in places like China and India if it means bigger profits for the corporation? Not many of the super rich are as concerned about the day-to-day living circumstances of struggling American workers as Warren Buffet is.

I don’t know what can be done to change the future for the vast majority of Americans who are sliding downward, but I trust Barack Obama. He is clearly more honest and smarter than the rest because he doesn’t deliberately make promises which he knows before hand he cannot keep. Of course, he has made mistakes. His job is a very difficult one. He seems to be concerned about the real problems faced by average Americans. His values seem to be consistent with mine when he expresses determination to work for better education and better health for all Americans. He simply must be reelected in 2012. The country doesn’t stand a snow-balls-chance-in hell of avoiding real disaster if someone is elected to the presidency who clearly doesn’t know why we are standing at the very edge of an economic precipice.

To complicate matters, a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court have had sips of the Tea Party kool-aid and are not likely to take back the gifts they have given to corporations, which they officially decided have the same rights and shields as individual citizens. What was it Romney said last week? "Corporations are people, too." The Court’s decisions which directly enrich the already obscenely wealthy will make the very rich even richer. Our nation will not experience a crash as it did in the early Thirties. It will be a slow slide that takes down the middle class. The poor are already down. Along the way, programs like outstanding public schools and availability of reasonably affordable health care that helped build the middle class out of a population that was mostly poor are being critically weakened.

Pogo is only partly right this time. We have not yet seen the enemy, but it is nonetheless us. ...but not my neighbor Sammy. He had nothing to do with the mess. He's just a little boy who wants to be a fireman. We've got to find a way to correct the situation. We've got to try our best to keep mean spirited, selfish people from messing up a wonderful country.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beati quorum via integra est
Que ambulant in lege Domini

He lived
and walked
worked mostly
grumbling little
only when appropriate
usually for others

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Click on an image to see it larger.
                                                                       Color Test

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Trying out the new little Sony camera, I was sitting in the aisle seat on a flight from San Diego to Newark... shooting out through the little airline window from around six feet away from the double glass... expecting the camera to automatically focus on the window, which had some but not many spots on it, but it didn’t. I extended the telephoto lens out the full 380 mm, again expecting the worst. As soon as I had finished shooting, I downloaded the images to my laptop and edited them. Wow! I don’t think I could have captured images as good as these with my Nikon D2X or the newer Nikon D7000, both wonderful cameras which I am not prepared to abandon in favor of this little Sony DSC-HX9/HX9V. The over-the-top reviews weren’t exaggerations. I can hardly wait to try out all the other bells and whistles.

Margaret and I are on our way to New York for the funeral of her older brother who died Sunday at the end of a long battle with Alzhiemers disease. Somehow these cloud photographs seem appropriate for the day. Dale would understand and approve my enthusiasm. His death after the dreaded disease is a blessing. A sadness for all of us, but a blessing that it’s finished.

Just kidding...  This was on a poster in airport, and I couldn't resist adding the astronauts to my cloud pictures. I was going to say Dale is the one on the left but decided not to...