Wednesday, August 31, 2005

every morning

every morning she bikes to the train station
she arrives, winded from her ride.
cool shades, rough blonde hair,
sweaty and blowing in the breeze.
she sheds her backpack, shrugging it off,
catching the cool breeze against her
overheated body.
I notice erect, braless nipples,
taut against the sweat dampened fabric
of her under armour sports shirt;
some mornings, more erect and sensual then on others.
this morning, it must have been an especially rigorous bike ride.
I look up from The Reader,
we look at each other and say hellos, like every morning;
and as always, I can't help but notice
her erect nipples and perfectly shaped breasts.
She goes on to do her post-ride stretches and cool down,
her leg high on the nearby hand rail
stretching her body, reaching her hands
to touch her toes.
first one leg, then the other.
I put my sunglasses back on
and walk to my spot, preparing to board the train.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

God Hates You

Today's Christians protesting at a military funeral,
bringing an anti-gay message. They say that God is punishing America
for harboring gays. They say "God Hates Fags", "God Hates You"
(read story here)

I am so tired of people being so stupid and so gullible as to believe in stuff that they just make up. I'm so tired of people being so naive, that they believe folk tales and fantastic stories as if such is actually truth. I am tired of how ancient tales are taken as truth...just because they are ancient.

I am so tired of the troubles of this world being directly tied to religion.

Today I read a story about a Christian boy, who was taken as a slave, in Sudan. And his Muslim master crucified him with nails, because he dared to sneak away at night and worship with his fellow Christians. How do we put up with this, in a world that is supposedly enlighted...supposedly beyond medevial ideas.

I'm tired of hearing of Muslims killing other muslims because they don't believe in the correct form of Islam. I'm tired of Muslims thinking that God allows them to murder the people of the world in His name.

I'm tired of exclusionary religious practices by members of various religions, because they are convinced that only their group has a pipeline to God. Fundamentalist Christians against liberal; Orthodox Jews again reformed. Baptist Christians against Roman Catholic, fringe believers with their ignorant understanding of what their religion even teaches. Monolithic belief systems that exclude the rest of the world.

I've been there...I've believed that way. I believed in the voice in the burning bush, I believed in the infallibility of the letters and books of the early church, I believed that God talked to my sheperd. I believed what my shepherd taught me. I believed that my small group were the only ones who knew the truth of God. I had blind faith. Because I feared God and his punishement. I had blind faith because I was seeking for the truth of the universe.

Yet, now...I can't understand the hate that is thrown out, in the name of God. As if the Creator is the hater. And I can't understand how the so-called shepherds, pastors, and teachers, preach such if they were God's oracles.

But it won't end. Lies of Life will continue to be taught as the Truth...from father to son. Tied in with family traditions, with justification of jihads and crusades. Men will continue to be gullible, and never seek the answers for themselves...who never even think of what the logical truth is. And even in their fanatical zeal, they will revel and relish in the base animal behavior they practice because they blindly believe that this is God's way. That is his God's reward. That they are entitled to enslave, and burden, and kill, in God's name.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

imitation of life

today I am invisible.
at first I didn't notice it,
then, at the library, I see a person to I am invisible to,
daily on my train commute.
"Hi, don't I know you from the train?" never came out of my mouth
because I still wasn't there.

invisible, because there is no reason to notice,
because in real life, I'm in the background
with the buildings, and the grass and the trees.
not the correct size, shape, age, color for the moment.

sometimes I'm a phantom, coming in and out of focus...
reminds me of an old video by Sting;
"If You Love Somebody",
Marsalis is practically invisible all the time.
he only comes into focus when he plays his sweet sax.

at the dollar store, I become briefly opaque at the check out.
"Hi, how are you today?" asks the check out girl
(appears slightly see-through)
"Fine. How are you doing today?"
(comes into focus)
"I'm doing good." She rings me up.
I look at her badge.
"Have a nice day." she says, making eye contact.
"You have a great day too, Margaret." with a smile. She smiles back.
I am suddenly visible, in the real world, if for a moment.

this imitation
this half life
this place where I meet other people and
we exchange looks at each other's masks;
this refuge from real life that,
for me, isn't real life,
it's a lack of life.
in here, I live the imitation of life
in here, I'm not invisible. I command attention by my mastery of the medium. I build scenes with my words. I construct a simulacrum of the real world; and those seeking their own refuge, their own imitation, they see this mask, and forget, that this is not all of me.

rarely you see my face, my real eyes, hear my real voice.
you think you may know me. But there really is more to me than this avatar.

as a voyeur, I see the real life...the physical life
the interactions on that other plane.
I wonder how is that accomplished?
what is the key? and why can't I find it?

I look at my life circumstances, and the life that has not gone the way I would have expected.
Making the most out of bad situations;
grasping happiness where I can find it;
holding on to it until the last shred of hope flitters away,
 through my fingers.
never learning how to grasp, and hold and handle;
too anxious, too soon, too strong, too wrong,
and then back to the shelter of my inner safe place.
walls rebuilt, defenses laid, back in the high tower.

[mask photographs copyright © 2005 by James McCune and used with permission]

Thursday, August 25, 2005

100 Years

[by Five for Fighting]
- listen -

I'm 15 for a moment
Caught in between 10 and 20
And I'm just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

I'm 22 for a moment
She feels better than ever
And we're on fire
Making our way back from Mars

15… there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose
15…there's never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live…

I'm 33 for a moment
Still the man but you see I'm a they
A kid on the way
A family on my mind

I'm 45 for a moment
The sea is high
And I'm heading into a crisis
Chasing the years of my life

15… there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose yourself
Within a morning star

15… I'm all right with you
15… there's never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live…

Half time goes by
Suddenly you’re wise
Another blink of an eye
67 is gone
The sun is getting high
We're moving on...

I'm 99 for a moment
Dying for just another moment
And I'm just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

15… there's still time for you
22… I feel her too
33… you’re on your way
Every Day's a new Day

15… there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose
Hey 15… there's never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live

Monday, August 22, 2005

early train

I’m taking the early train again.  James is back in school and starting earlier.  So these are all new faces that I don’t know.  A young EMT boards and sits across the aisle on the upper deck.  I want to make eye contact, to get her attention.  I want to point to my wrist and give a smile of approval…of the claddagh tattoo that wraps around her wrist, like a band.  She doesn’t look around.  She only looks down, at her immediate space.  She begins to put on her makeup, eyeliner, blush, lipstick.  She transforms her herself from plain Jane into Jane.  I wait, looking to see if her glance comes this way.  But she is guarded.  Her glances look shy and she makes no eye contact with anyone.

She takes a wrist watch out of her bag and buckles it on her wrist.  The watch neatly covering the tattoo, hiding it from view.  Then she closes her eyes to sleep.

faux birthdays

Weekend was nice and easy.  I picked up James at the airport last night.  He had a fun time with his mom and aunt.  They won money at the casino,  then had dinner at The Rain Forest Cafe.

“We told them it was my birthday”, James said. 

He and his mom have this game.  When they go to a new restaurant, they always say it is one of their birthday.  Just to see what happens…to see what the restaurant does for birthday folks.  The last time James and I went to Bubba Gump’s at Navy Pier it was his birthday.  About six months too early!  So the wait staff all came and did their birthday song and brought the birthday treat.  It was fun.

So, about birthday at the Rain Forest…
James: ”They brought the best Ice Cream Volcano I ever had!”
Marc: “You mean, the ONLY Ice Cream Volcano you’ve ever had.”
James: “Shutup” <wink>

Saturday, August 20, 2005

morning that lasts all afternoon

James is off in Philadelphia. I'm home alone this weekend, wondering what to do with myself.

This morning started out slowly, groggily. Still too sleepy from late night sipping of Southern Comfort...which really wasn't a comfort. I got up in time to get ready for my doctor's appointment. Showered...and then decided to wear my Harry Potter "Seeker" T-shirt.
Maroon colored with the word SEEKER on the front in gold letters. New blue jeans and walking shoes.

I got to the doctor's office and that was when my day got brighter.
There are a few people in this world who always make me smile...among others, The Smiling Girl, YOU, my children...and my doctor.

The doctor's visit started out good, when the nurse asked me my age.
"Fifty two" I said, and her eyes got big.
"Gee, you look much younger than that", she said.
OK...I think I'll keep this nurse!

I like my doctor so much. When she sees me, it is always with the biggest smile. She always tells me that it's so good to see me. I talk to her on a good level. It is friendly, never condescending, like it is with some doctors. On my first day at my new doctor's office in Chicagoland...the first time I saw her...I was her first also. Her first patient at that office. And she was the first female who touched me "there" in a few years. She always remembers that I was her first patient.

So, my checkup was good. Everything checked out fine. That was a relief. My doc put a big smile on my face, as usual. And, as usual, she kept asking me if I had any more questions. And as always, I never say what is on the tip of my tongue: "Would you like to go out for coffee sometime?" As she put her hand on my shoulder and told me again it was good to see me, I said to myself. "umm, no, I better not ask."

I left the office stepping into a cool morning. The breeze was blowing and I was feeling good about the day. That was when I decided to drive to the Lake Shore. So I stopped and filled up the tank, got a cup of coffee, and smoked half of a cigar, pretending I was getting high. (Shhh...don't tell my doctor. she knows I don't smoke and I don't drink much). I felt good, smiling to myself, and at the pan handler at the stop light.

While driving up I-55, I reflected on the morning. I felt that this was one of those days, when you just know the Creator is ordering your footsteps. Well, that may or may not be true. But it was a good thought. I drove with the windows down, letting the morning air wash over me. I reached Lake Shore Drive and turned south. I drove, looking for The Point.

I turned the car around and began to drive north on Lake Shore, past the city. The beaches were all crowded with thousands of people waiting to see the Air Show. And my good mood began to change. I thought of those thousands, out for a nice afternoon. People out with real families, with real friends. and I thought of me, in the midst of these millions in this city. And I really am lost in Chicago.

Driving on, I shook myself out of that reverie. Still looking at the friends and families on the Lake Shore, regretting the change in my fine mood. My thoughts now running a mile a minute.

So, I continued driving and I decided to just drive north along Sheridan Road, on the Circle Tour.

My mood began to change for the better as I drove. Driving through Rogers Park reminded me of Mt. Lebanon, PA near Pittsburgh and of Pittsburgh's Oakland section. I started to have a familiar nostalgic feeling. I drove past all the big houses in Evanston and Wilmette. I like the drive. But I felt like I'm in alien territory. The million dollar houses. I wonder of the people here. Then I crossed the city limits into Winnetka and instantly the homes are double in size. The million dollar homes are now five million dollar mansions. The only non-Caucasian people I see, are the Mexican gardeners. Earlier I had crossed Kenilworth Ave. Now I thought and found ironic. Perhaps these Mexican gardeners traveled 30 miles from their end of Kenilworth, in Berwyn, here to the wealthy end of the same street, to work for the rich people.

Through the open windows of the car, I smell the trees. It is the same summer smell I knew as a boy back in Ohio. I hear the song of the locusts and cicadas in the trees. I know that sound. It's not from wealthy bugs in the wealthy part of town. They are the same as my bugs. The trees...they are the same. The grass.. just as green. The summer smell just as fragrant. The same in wealthy Winnetka as it is on the South Side of it is in Palos Hills, as it was in Ohio.

I started to think of the places I have been...the people I've met. I think of the trees and grass in the parks and by-ways I have slept in, when I was in the religious cult. And I remember people. Somehow a memory of one and another young man and young woman...behind a super grocery store, in some state somewhere. Memory is dim. I do remember the grandmother. Maybe in her late fifties or her sixties. She was behind the grocery also, with her granddaughter. She had a German accent. She was also looking for food. Searching for the whole foods, fruits, vegetables, dented canned goods, that so many grocery chains dump daily. Food that is past the expiration date, but good enough for today's meal. And I felt like I was intruding. I was a traveler...and this was a regular stop for her. I jumped into the dumpster and retrieved the good items...all the good fruits and vegetables. And I gave them to her. I don't think she could believe it. The look on her face. I think she was prepared to let this strange young man go first, then she and her granddaughter would see what was left. She cried. But there was enough food for everybody.

My thoughts came back to the present. Continuing my drive, I began to see signs for garage sales. Well, what on earth does one find at a rich-people garage sale? I was surprised to find that they are the same. The rich folks with BMW's in their drive way, and a yard sale going on beside their million dollar home; pretty much sells the same stuff for the same price that normal lower-middle class people sell at their garage sales. So, for a dollar, I picked up a copy of the Penguin Classic "EURIPIDES: MEDEA and Other Plays"

I drove and drove. Through all the wealthy north shore towns, determined to just drive all day. Yet, all of these thoughts were milling around in my head. So I had to stop and purchase a notebook and ink pen. I had to write. I checked my email from my cell phone. There was no word from you. Maybe later.

Driving further north, I ended up in Waukegan. I've never been here before. My young friend Sarah told me that it is like Aliquippa, PA. And it is.

The scenery changed. From million dollar mansions to a lower-middle class city. From manicured lawns and front yard sculptures to signs advertising pay-day loans, car title loans, car lots with approval for everybody, even those with bad credit. Such a change in scenery. From towns where the only way the blacks and Mexicans are there, are as a gardener or some other menial laborer, to the town that these people call home.

Today I felt a spectrum of feelings from tired, to extremely happy, to bitter and sad, to satisfied. And all through the day, you have entered my thoughts. I thought of you, on this day of rest, hoping you are indeed taking advantage of the day.

It's getting late. I'm going to drive home now. Maybe I'll rent Love Actually tonight...or maybe I'll just drive some more.

Friday, August 19, 2005

rehearsing for the weekend

Millennium Park, lunch time
the symphony is rehearsing in the amphitheater
the music, soft
a counterpoint to the sounds of the city
and the roar of the air show jets, rehearsing in the sky above.
people rehearsing today...for the weekend.
I guess in a way, I am too.

Sounds of the symphony in front of me,
the lovely French accent of the sales woman, behind me
sounds of wild insects in the park, all around me
the sun is bright
my brisk walk has quelled some of my anxiety
a time for my mind to take a break from thinking too much

I think this is the first yellow apple I've eaten all summer.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

[upon remembering my own Father...there, yet not there.]

wisdom from "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven"
and the movie "Smoke Signals"
by Sherman Alexie

American Indian Thomas Builds-the-fire, story teller and Suzy

Thomas: "How do we forgive our fathers? Maybe in a dream? Do we forgive our fathers for leaving us too often...or forever...when we were little? Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage, or making us nervous because there never seemed to be any rage there at all. Do we forgive our fathers for marrying, or not marrying our mothers? Or divorcing, or not divorcing our mothers? And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth, or coldness? Shall we forgive them for pushing or leaning, for shutting doors, for speaking through walls? or never speaking, or never being silent? Do we forgive our fathers in our age, or in theirs? Or in their deaths...saying it to them, or not saying it? If we forgive our fathers, what is left?"

- AND -

Thomas: So, I told you a story, now it's your turn."

Suzy: " want lies or do you want the truth?"

Thomas: "I want both."

Saturday, August 13, 2005

the wheels of life

This day was a pleasant one. This morning I listened to the songs of life. I listened to songs of struggle and pain, of people with more questions than answers.

I listened to the little philosophers and their statements about fathers and families and God...about the shortness of life, the burdens of the years and the yearning to escape those burdens and to be free. Free to love, and think, and live.

This day was a good one, of looking out the windows on a rainy day...and reflecting on the questions and answers, and how I feel about where I've been, where I am, and the road upon with I am traveling in this life.

This day I reflected on the good feeling that is engulfing me...despite all the bad things. Because those things don't rob me of what I'm enjoying.

I thought of my inquiring friend. This day I left off some chains and forsook the bad. I got rid of a yoke, I brushed away some tears and talked to God.

Sunday, August 07, 2005



shorn of her glory
by thirty years of tradition
left with a vail to hide
what God had made

by ideas of men who make the rules
small minds of men who build
a box around the Creator
with a myriad of misunderstanding
they pave paradise
every jot and tittle begets
a new precept by which to rule
slowly grinding...turning tradition
into rules...turning rules
into laws...turning laws
into the voice of God

a teacher once said
“But if a woman have long hair,
it is a glory to her:
for her hair is given her for a covering”

yet she is covered with tradition
and what God had made
is replaced by man's creation.
their millions of rules
become their idol

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Lake Shore

early Saturday morning, the sun is shining low off the lake.
the first runners of the day, off to my right
The Killers on the radio
and sun beams off of the ripples of the calm water.

A bustle has started, city activity that I don't find
out there in hills of suburbia.
It's a feeling that I like...that I wouldn't mind living in.

"what if they had a race", says companion, "where they block off Lake Shore Drive?"
"you know, driving cars like souped-up Hondas,
like in the video race games", he adds.
"they could race all the way up Lake Shore."

I picture it in my mind, as I drive up the shore,
exit at Fullerton, making my way to Halstead.
And I look at the Saturday morning folks with envy
knowing that in my suburban apartment, I'd still be
groggy from the previous late night.

someday, I think.
someday, the city.

music search run - 4-August-2005

my semi-regular, periodic, whenever I can find it, thrift store, music search.

This week I picked up the following on vinyl:

Human League - Human (extended 12 inch single) - 1986- pristine
a. Human (extend version) 5:00
b. Human (A Cappella Version) 2:00
Human (Instrumental Version) 5:00

Jean-Luc Ponty - Mystical Adventures (worn cover, pristine vinyl) - 1982

Joni Mitchell - Ladies Of The Canyon (worn cover, good vinyl) - 1970

The Roches - self titled (good cover, very good vinyl) - 1979

Ronnie Laws - Solid Ground (damaged cover, good vinyl) - 1981