Black Is Blue

Tonight it hit me that what is in mem­ory, what is old, what fed my imag­i­na­tion (for bet­ter, etc) when I was 18, would com­fort me. I was right. I turned on an episode of Miami Vice. Some would say that “Smuggler’s Blues” from Sea­son One is the best episode of Miami Vice. Per­fect com­bi­na­tion of the fun­da­men­tal plot of the show with under­cover work, high risk with min­i­mal thanks, per­fect blend of rel­e­vant 80’s style music and fash­ion and nail biter end­ing. Watch it. It really helped me to remem­ber my young self want­ing to ride in the cool retro car, do good while doing bad in Miami and com­ing out ahead. I ate a burger while my child slept and my wife was hang­ing out with friends. It was quiet at the end of a long day in the O.R. with high inten­sity and good out­comes. I had done a good days work and wan­der­ing around in my past was a com­fort. Good enough.

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Every Decision

Every Decision

Every, Every Deci­sion Is Life Or Death

I could stay put, stand in line, be quiet.
I could do my part, be a part of the team, coöper­ate.
Maybe I should wait for a bet­ter time, maybe.
Now’s not good.
Be prac­ti­cal, bide my time, com­pro­mise even.
I should trust the sys­tem. I have come this far…
I could weigh my options. I should do that.
Why am I rush­ing? I should take my time,
See what the oth­ers are doing.
I need to cover all the bases and get a read on this.
I should wait for a sign, hedge my bets and
Keep an eye on my six. Don’t go in to this blind.
Be on guard, keep my eyes open.
Bide my time.
Keep my options open.
And
Don’t worry, tomor­row will be a bet­ter day.

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Keep Looking

Keep Looking

Today I made a pile of rocks with my kiddo for an hour. It was a three inch square pile of lit­tle tiny rocks.
Today I devel­oped a photo of a par­tially focused tree. It was a for­get­table moment that moved me, the photo.
A good day.

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Sometimes the light shines through the corner of my hat, and then…

Some­times the light only gets there through a cor­ner, around a turn.
What hap­pens when the ques­tions stop and there are only answers. This is a seri­ous ques­tion. Or…

Is a per­son swim­ming toward help any dif­fer­ent than one who is res­cued?
Or one swim­ming in the other direction?

The invis­i­ble threads weave the fab­ric of faith because we pick them up in the odd places. We find our want of and for god at a con­cert and the county cour­t­house, in the arms of the one we finally love, in a sum­mer tomato with olive oil, in the find­ing of can­cer in your colon, in the light at the cor­ner of a hat.

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Bouquet

I spent the night in jail and looked at the walls and I won­dered how I would eat the food for years and days and days on end. From the per­spec­tive of day one (and only one) it was ined­i­ble. Down the road I would savor it in order to stay alive, I know. I am not so proud as to go hun­gry, but the thought of it, one day one and only one, was demoralizing.

In jail, the lights don’t go off, which over the course of time, would be a sin­is­ter tor­ture. By the course of time, I am think­ing, any­thing more than two “nights”. There was a cam­era watch­ing my cell in my cell. I won­dered how wide the angle on the lens was. I won­dered how many holes were in the acoustic tiling in the ceil­ing. I won­dered what the guards talked about as I watched my cel­lie pace like a puma, twenty and stuck already in pro­ba­tion vio­la­tions and stacked charges and no help. He asked for my free three minute phone card. I gave it to him. It had about 30 sec­onds left. His father was in prison for life and had been for his whole life. I felt through that math and tried to com­bine those num­bers with the aching heart of a boy, father­less and there is not an equa­tion for that and now his son paces.

This is easy for me. One night. I made a mis­take and can pay my debt, but this is real. This place is not to be brushed with, these peo­ple and their cam­eras and their books have long mem­o­ries. There is lit­tle mercy for brush­ing up to this bar­na­cled arm of the government.

In the same way that chron­i­cally hos­pi­tal­ized peo­ple have a vocab­u­lary and know the vocab­u­lary some­what of the peo­ple who watch over them, the peo­ple in jail know vocab­u­lar­ies. “I’m here on theft three, arraigned by the same s.o.b. judge, cop didn’t show and they still stiffed me until she could fit it into her sched­ule.” etc.

There are no flow­ers sent to jail, like there are at the hos­pi­tal. No bou­quets, noth­ing lovely. The phone is the one life­line and calls are dollars/minute and no one there seems to have a nickel to shine on a dime. It is loud and bright and there is no moment of pri­vacy ever. If the cell door opens, the cell has to empty and when the cell door closes, the cell is full again.

I left there, walked out, un-cuffed and free and felt grate­ful and I tried to feel into real time there and I despaired. I could find no good thing might come of time there for me or any­one else, but I don’t know every­thing, about me or any­one else. Maybe there is some good thing. But if there is it would come by way of the camel squeez­ing through the eye of a nee­dle. I am sit­ting now look­ing back on that sin­gle awful night in that hole while I watch the tide take the detri­tus off the beach as the ocean slips itself back into itself and I am lis­ten­ing to jazz, to Dex­ter Gor­don, and I know that we humans have made agree­ments with each other about how we will act and how, if we don’t act a cer­tain way, we have agreed to lock each other up in crazy lit­tle cells, maybe even kill each other. It won’t help. Killing you won’t pre­vent me from find­ing the grace or the evil within me. It just kills you. And in another lesser but also real way, end­less prison sen­tences fail to achieve what they set out to do, on aver­age. There are peo­ple I don’t want to be around and want around my son, but the sys­tem, over­all, feels bot­tom heavy and hope­less. Maybe they should at least allow some flow­ers in there once in a while.

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Tidal Pull

I am think­ing about the tide and watch­ing it now, again, for sev­eral days. We are about 60 feet above the tide­line in a house on the Ore­gon coast and I can see the ocean mov­ing from above. I know there is a still moment between neap and ebb, but I can’t see it. I look for it and then get dis­tracted for a minute and what was com­ing in is now retreat­ing. It is not vio­lent but it is relentless.

We spent the day drop­ping crab pots in to the Nehalem River’s mouth where it meets the ocean. The crabs ride the tide in and the pots fill. The ocean rum­bles in to the river and, like Lis­ter­ine it washed out the mouth. After a lit­tle while the pen­du­lum swung, the river pushed out the water to the sea, the crabs were gone and we pulled our pots and went home.
What if the water didn’t move? I think I would want it to, but I wouldn’t know the dif­fer­ence. Unmov­ing water is called stag­nant, a word not nearly as lovely as neap or ebb. Swamp, bog vs ocean, estu­ary. No con­test. I’m rest­ing in the motion.
_________________
This is one of the first poems I ever wrote. I was twelve

Tidal Pull

I wan­dered down the line between the sand and sea.

The moon’s tide receded around my ankles, gen­tly, inces­santly pulling me.

It was night­time, and I was beck­oned to the sea. The invi­ta­tion was brief. I could eas­ily have walked straight into the foam.
Maybe I did.

In that brief moment I under­stood the rhythm of the water and stars and night labor­ing to birth another day — just as when watch­ing a spar­row fly, I can some­times mobi­lize one beat of its wings, hold the magic and glory of flight, but just a sin­gle beat — then
it’s just a pic­ture of a bird.
I was one with the sand and the sea. There was no more line.

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Make: Believe

I have to believe…
 Scratch that.
 I choose to believe that
 If I apply my pas­sion and my will and my good inten­tion
 that what I build will be worthwhile.

I like build­ing things..as long as I don’t have to swing a ham­mer. Ok, I like imag­in­ing great things to build and con­vinc­ing ham­mer swingers (whom I hold in high­est regard) to get at it.

I treat obe­sity as a sur­geon and as a psy­chol­o­gist (insert happy, funny, smil­ing face here). I have a job in which I assem­ble an unusual array of med­ical folks. So far: sur­geon, physi­cian assis­tant, nurses, med­ical assis­tants, dieti­tians, psy­chol­o­gists, other doc­tors. There are also the peo­ple who own the busi­ness I am in. There are also the pre­cious dia­monds of every per­son I work with. We have some openings:

I am think­ing we need a nun and a shaman and a mas­sage ther­a­pist. We need a mechan­i­cal engi­neer and a poet and a chef. This is unusual work and affects every part of every day for my patients and so I need an angel with me and a robot…I have one of those, for real. There is a robot at the hos­pi­tal that I can use to do surgery. I sit in a booth twid­dling my thumbs and the robot swings ham­mers. I need a spo­ken word math­e­mati­cian and a legal artist. My patients need an Islamic set of 72 vir­gins and an evan­ge­list and an IT per­son or per­sons, prob­a­bly in that order. They need a hug and you can give them that.
Our team is actively look­ing for a mar­ket­ing per­son who is famil­iar with social med­i­c­i­nals. We also need a retail sculp­tor. We need a broader bot­tom line so that more peo­ple get what they deserve. We would like to add a pro­gram that includes mod­ern danc­ing
bears.

We would like you to con­sider apply­ing for this job.

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Round

.

She is mak­ing a galaxy in front of me and
I have no can­vas for that.
I make a lit­tle divet to mark the moment.

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Eddy

This eddy is tak­ing a turn for the worse.
I shouldn’t be sur­prised. All eddies are a joke,
Going in cir­cles and all.
But the swirl is a tease every time.
I can’t/won’t help it. I like falling for it.
Like Char­lie kick­ing the wind, I wind
up and have a go.
Once I am on my back I,
well I sigh,but I call it tak­ing a
Deep breath.
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Untitled 121

I am swirling by. It’s a curve. It’s a train.
It’s a cor­ner
win­dow
You are look­ing out and I am look­ing up.
Shut­ter falls, shad­ows rise
Light dis­ap­pears and winds its way back,
Slack and side­ways to this cor­ner moment.

I am not even think­ing about any of this
But of New Orleans and the
ragged edges after the flood
It’s 2010, but I only write the date out of guilt, because dates remind me that in New Orleans 
every­thing is before or after Kat­rina.
I am in Chicago and the El rat­tles along and the cor­ner dis­ap­pears and your cor­ner, blue win­dow and my
Con­jured mem­ory of a wind­storm I was not a part of
and the cor­ner bends around and the train rat­tles a lit­tle
and
that’s it.

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