Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The man from Nantucket

Lately I've been writing more poetry than prose.  The limerick form has been creeping in more and more even as I practice penning sonnet.  And that reminds me of a story.  If you've heard it I'm  sorry, but I'm sure I've never written it here.

Years ago, I've been doing this gig as an anesthetist for a lot of years so I'm entitled to start with "years ago,"  before political correctness and perceived sexual harassment made a travesty of human interactions, I routinely had student nurses come to my spot at the head of the OR bed to "observe" a surgical operation.  While the majority of their time was devoted to advancing their knowledge of nursing, surgery, anatomy and physiology it was also not uncommon for the conversation to take on a more colloquial tone.

On one particular occasion, as the surgery was nearing completion, I asked a student: did you ever hear the story about the man from Nantucket?  She demurely replied, "no, I've not heard it."
Feeling duty bound to widen her knowledge I recited;
"There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
His daughter named Nan
Ran off with a man,
And the Cash? Nan tucket."

She faced me with a serious stare said, "that's not the way I heard it!"

The limerick invaded my head
With two students at the surgical bed:
their minds all supple and bare
While watching the surgery there.
It was jokes I offered instead.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sonnet for Crabby Appleton

Crabby Appleton,, the old man next door,
Mister Keeler was his name; I'm not sure.
He tormented Jeff, or other way round?
When into his yard li'l Jeffrey would bound
Like Tom Terrific and faithful Manfred,
Keeler would appear, with his face all red
Yelling and spewing; you, get the hell home.
Jeff kept going, because he loved to roam.
Then he'd come home with an ear to ear grin;
I Pissed Crabby Appleton off again.
Poor little Jeff, with a heart of pure gold,
And crabby Keeler, crotchety and old
Gave each other, Perhaps you will believe;
They gave each other good reason to breath.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Iambic pentameter

Pink moon

The full moon hiding under cloud dappled
Sky, winks seductively when winds pass by.
Listen, attentive to dove's mating cry,
Watches the sun rise at the eastern rim.
Thinking my ardor nothing more than whim.


Dawn chorus

As I, an enjoyer and listener
Of music created solely by birds,
Sitting on my porch as dawn's maestro
Conducts Spring's eternal mating warbles.
Ephemeral performances repeat;n
Anticipating new life, new beginnings.



Hardy, bold, and brash; rhubarb sprouts by grass.
Brilliant green, Ruby red, portends a.. sour end.
Yet girls and boys, powerless to bypass,
With sugared palms to which a sweetness lend.


Bird feeder blues

Squirrels, buntings, finches flock to feeders,
Eating sunflower, thistle seed and corn.
Setting moon, rising sun are day's cheerleaders.
No feather bathing yet this icy April morn.

Monday, April 18, 2016

As Usual

A perfect morning
after a quintessential Spring day
brings the usual
jumble of thoughts.

awakened to alarm buzz
with satisfactory feelings
of eight hours sleep
dotted with awareness.

Trodding to the loo,
fix a cup-a coffee,
turn on burner under oatmeal,
check Facebook, email.

Clear night sky
Sprinkled with stars.
Almost full moon
Sinking, cloud misted, in the west.

The morning's chill
A pleasant relief
From the welcome
But stifling heat of last evening.

Focus, focus, focus
Commanding disconnected
Thoughts into orderly
Queue of saneness.

Make the bed,
hot shower,
Walk to work.

Always lurking
Creeping to the fore,
Images, thoughts
pleasant but distracting.

What serendipity
Awaits the inexorable
March of time, this
April day.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

On a spring day

Chuck-of-the- wood came for a visit here
While I ate my lunch and drank my beer.
When the wind my plate did blow
He stopped by the wall to say hello.

When I towards him began to jog
He scurried away, this brown groundhog.
Into the woodshed he did flee
Safely hiding away from me.

Returning to my bistro chair
Mr. Whistlepig scampered away from there.
I did not after him give chase,
Knowing I could not win the race.

After Woody made his quick escape
I turned to gaze on Spring's landscape.
Birds twitter in trees abound,
While robins hop and peck the ground.

The mister puffed his bright red breast.
And missus foraged to build their nest.
On his mind were thoughts robust;
To mount this chick and give her thrust.

She of the more practical sort
Showed little interest in her consort.
Glancing up with wary eye,
She feigned to me of being shy.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The funeral

Went to his funeral yesterday.
It was a fine affair
Many came, their respects to pay;
Nieces and nephew led us in prayer.

The priest did well his part.
The speakers stuttered and paused
When at certain points, tears would start,
Grief that many memories caused.

Birthday party, an alter boy,
Family portrait, a little dog.
His quirky smile of inner joy
Would stir the past, memory jog.

He wasn't there, he'd moved on.
Oh, his ashes before us laid
With flowers, and art work he had done.
The soulful sounds the music made.

The hymns he'd chosen on CD found
Played upon the air;
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
Plucked at heart strings bare.

At the finish, at the end
He fetched the bluebirds to the sky.
We followed to rainbow's bend
and watched his spirit fly.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Eulogy for Jeffrey Michael LaRock

Today we’re here to bid a final farewell to Jeffery Michael LaRock.
Thank you all for coming.

I’m going to give you a thumbnail sketch of the man I knew as a brother.

Others, especially our sister Julie, who grew up and shared a childhood with Jeff, that I did not, may well portray him somewhat differently.

He loved his family; they were the emeralds in his heart.

Who was Jeff?

Obviously he was a son, albeit with a conflicted and bittersweet relationship with his parents.

He was a brother, a nephew, alter boy, and brother-in-law.

He was a dad; Sean you are the one thing in his life that he was most proud of.

He was an uncle; he loved you and savored his relationships with each of you, always asking about how you all were doing.

He was a nurse, a veteran, a paramedic, an artist, a photographer, a commiserator, and always a friend.

He liked antiques, Samurai swords and his solace, music.
He wasn’t an alter boy all his life…….

He was a rascal, an alcoholic, a drug abuser, and he loved women.

Intertwined with these roles and qualities he was foremost kind and compassionate.  Jeff had what grandpa Walton described as “a giving heart.”
     He quit a job as an apartment manager in Tennessee because he couldn’t stand to evict a tenant for not paying their rent.

I met Jeffrey Michael LaRock in the last weeks of June, 1955 when my mother brought him home from the hospital.  I was 9 years old, almost 10.  I was unimpressed.  Who was this interloper, this usurper for the love of mom, dad, aunt Nellie and uncle Ed?

Basically, I was indifferent to his existence.  But he was not indifferent to mine.  He did everything he could to win my love and affection.

     When Jeff was 3, or no older than 4, he succeeded in getting my undivided attention.

I had an Ogdensburg Journal newspaper delivery route at that time.  I kept the money I collected from my customers in a dingy white drawstring canvas bag.  One day I went to retrieve my bag of money from where I’d set it, only to discover it was missing.

I asked mom if she’d moved it, but she was clueless.  I searched and searched until mom, looking out the kitchen window into the backyard yelled something to the effect; “what’s all that paper littering the yard.”

I went to investigate.  I found my brother, the empty money bag, and dollar bills, some whole, some torn, fluttering along the grass in the breeze.

My brother, Jeffery Michael, without malice, was enjoying tossing those green pieces of paper in the air and watching them float on the wind.

Over the years, Jeff and I would meet for breakfast at the Donut King restaurant here in the “Burg, just the two of us.  We would bare our souls, reminisce about old times and philosophize about life and current happenings in our lives.

I relish those times because Jeff made it easy for complete honesty between us on any topic; personal and otherwise; he was nonjudgmental.  It was always he who bent over backwards to make us best friends.

We’re going to miss Jeff.  His presence in our lives has given us precious memories.

Thank you, Trish and Julie, for taking such good care of Jeff.  Your love, caring and support are the reason we were able to share and enjoy so many more years of his life.

Thank you, his AA friends, for keeping him sober these past twenty years.

     Jeff loved to tell a joke and ribald tales, and as a good story teller, he had that innate sense of timing that’s crucial to making you laugh ‘til you’d cry.

     He liked nothing better than to call me, out of the blue, to share a joke or story; deriving pleasure from nothing more than hearing me laugh ‘til I couldn’t catch my breath.  And when I’d stopped laughing, just before he’d hang up he’d say;
I love Robert, talk to you soon.