Meaning

What does it all mean?
I work at an art gallery,
And I get asked this all the time.
But I’m neither a theologian,
Nor a philosopher.
I’m just an artist.
More like a doodler.
I draw pictures of faerie folk,
Mermaids, elves, fantasy figures.
Some of it was displayed at the gallery.
People asked me what it meant,
But my work is not particularly meaningful.
I suppose it means I have too much time on my hands.
It’s hard enough talking about the meaning,
Of my own work.
Let alone, the work of other artists.
They’re asking the wrong question, anyway.
Like Deep Thought pondering the answer,
To Life, the Universe, Everything,
For countless centuries,
And producing the answer, 42.
I can’t really tell you what art means,
But I can tell you what it does.
It gives us something to do.
Artists make it and you come to see it.
It provokes a reaction.
Indignation:
“My kindergartner could have done a better job.”
Most often, confusion:
“What the hell does this even mean?”
“Why is this so special?”
“Why is this garbage even here??!!”
I know the answer,
But the answer is boring.
It’s not the answer you want, anyway.
I usually just say,
“Well…that’s open to interpretation.”

A Tiny Trace of Her

Urn

“It all comes down to that.”

Four pounds of pulverized and fragmented pieces of bone.
Packed in a plastic bag labeled with the coroner’s information about the contents.

A plastic bag tied with a rubber band.

Several tiny delicate urns had been prepared, each about three inches high, each containing a small bag of grandma’s ashes. Keepsakes for me and my siblings, my cousins, my mother, and my uncles.

My brother saw those urns lined up on the beautiful antique tea cart in our mother’s living room. The tea cart that had once been grandma’s.

He said those words above, and turned his face away. His cheeks were wet with tears. My amazingly tough and strong brother wept at the sight of those tiny urns.

A larger box containing the remainder of grandma’s ashes will be scattered over family land in Colorado.

Mom showed them to me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to look at them, but I did. I poked at the bag with my finger.

They didn’t feel like ashes at all. They were hard and granular, like sand flecked with with small bits of white bone.

“It all comes down to that.”

Grandma was the granddaughter of Norwegian immigrants from the west coast city of Bergen. She once journeyed there, along with my mother and cousin, to trace her family roots. She found her grandfather’s name in a church registry.

One day I will go there, to scatter my portion of her ashes. A tiny trace of her, delivered back to her ancestral home.

For now, however, grandma is with me.

Station Birdies

Little bitty station birdies,
Fly to and fro while people scurry
To their platforms, in a hurry.
If you see one, you might worry.
Little bitty station birdies,
No need to worry where they went,
If they flew in by accident.
Through a door or through a vent.
Little bitty station birdies,
Are not here by happenstance.
They do their happy birdie dance,
And nest inside the hanging plants.
Little bitty station birdies,
Live in the station house, you see.
Not out in the cold, not in a tree.
There’s no place they’d rather be.

Marshmallow Farms

20180616_145740

I bet you didn’t know,
That marshmallows grow,
Big, white and round,
Right out of the ground.
Of quality top,
This organic crop,
So perfect this year,
Time for harvest is here.
Plain white is society’s
Most wanted variety,
But some specialist growers,
Produce some real showers.
Pink and yellow in heaps,
For marshmallow peeps.

Ellipsis

Everything that is left out.
Implied. Inferred.

Like the Saddest Story Ever Written,
Often attributed to Ernest Hemingway.
“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”
An iceberg tip of six words.

Dive deep down and explore,
That submerged mountain of subtext.

Illuminate the ellipsis.

Or don’t.
You probably don’t want to know,
What’s really under there.

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Donald Trump Edition

On the first day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
An Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the second day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Two Russian dossiers, and an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the third day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the fourth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me.
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a pear tree!
On the fifth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the sixth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Six geezers spilling, FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree.
On the seventh day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the eighth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Eight Flynns a flipping, seven secual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the ninth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping,
Seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the tenth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Ten money launderers laundering, nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping,
Seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!
On the eleventh day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Eleven liars lying, ten money launderers laundering, nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping, seven sexual harrassments, six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree
On the twelfth day of Christmas, Bob Mueller gave to me,
Twelve million tweets, eleven liars lying, ten money launderers laundering,
Nine hundred rounds of golf, eight Flynns a flipping, seven sexual harrassments,
Six geezers spilling,
FIVE FEDERAL INDICTMENTS!
Four Conways conning, three prostitutes peeing, two Russian dossiers,
And an Impeachment in a Pear Tree!

The Flashlight of Wisdom

I’m the anomaly in the class.
That older student,
Who has been down the path before,
And is back for another go.
Twenty years have passed since I used to be them.
And I feel it more keenly than ever before.

All the the mistakes I’ve made,
The pleasure and pain, and triumph and defeat.
The joy and despair I’ve felt.
The things I’ve done.
And learned.

And learned…

I’m not necessarily smarter than they are.
I’ve just been around a lot longer.
I guess this is what you call wisdom.
Am I wise?
I don’t know.

I feel both envy and apprehension,
About all the experiences,
That will shape and harden,
And break and reform them.
There’s so much I want to tell them!
But I know it won’t help that much.

I can give them a flashlight,
But it won’t illuminate the whole path.
They’ll have to stumble their own way through,
Just like I did.

Basic Math

I suppose death is the final answer,
To the basic math that is aging.
But one lesson we are all taught,
Is Show Your Work.
How did you get there?
What was the process?
For age is not merely a solitary number,
On an otherwise blank page.
It’s the accumulation of life.
A gathering of knowledge and experiences.
One cannot move on to the next lesson,
Until one fully understands the previous one.
But most of us do not learn,
And thus we are unprepared.
We haven’t learned this formula,
But we try to move on anyway.
New knowledge is acquired,
But old lessons are not learned.
Mistakes are carried forward,
And forward.
And forward.
Until we finally realize,
Those mistakes,
All the pain and frustration they cause,
Are actually the most important part of the lesson.

How art thou crazy? Let me count the ways…

Of a picnic, thou art short of sandwiches, thus.
And in thy belfry resideth many bats.
Thy engine runneth, but hath no one behind the wheel.
Thou art a man of many cases; of head, and basket, and nut.
And verily misplaced by thee hath been thy marbles.
How lost thou art in space.
How lost is thy plot.
Away with the faerie folk thou hast flown.
In a canoe, thou art, but sadly missing the essential oars.
Thy faithful rocking chair hath deposited thee thus on the floor.
A cage of many pads is the place for thee,
Since thou believeth thyself to be a tweeting bird:
The Great Orange Crested Trump Tit.