Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Purple surprise
hidden in the grass
little violet

Pale green newborn leaves
stretch up, reaching for sunlight
Heavy rains pour down

Soft cream morning light
tiptoes under the curtains
across blue carpet

Banjo, guitar
Sunday morning strumming
Outside, clouds drift

Rain pours down
drenching soils, flooding roads
Drought remains

Friday, April 25, 2008

The long walk to freedom

It is Passover right now, the season when Jews remember the Exodus from Egypt and both refrain from leavened goods as a rembrance of the hardship of that always comes with such a journey, and eat specifically matzo, described in the seder as the "poor bread that our ancestors ate in Eretz Mitzraim". Last night, my husband and I began talking about "poor bread" and what it is today. We both agreed that while Matzo and it's brother the water cracker have risen significantly in social status, the "poor bread" today is fast food, eaten while rushing from one place to another, or while hunched over a desk, as work continues even through lunchtime.

We talked about how grain is being taken to feed our energy addiction, raising the costs for those least able to afford it. We talked about the need for energy conservation, and how all too often the focus on "green technology" instead of on actual sustainability can lead to counterintuitive results.

We talked about the continuing need for liberation, about what could be done to make the world a better place with the billions currently being spent on killing each other. We talked about the importance of maintaining human dignity in the face of inhumanity.

Every year, Jews celebrate the Seder, where the story of the Exodus is told, but last night we discussed the need to extend that further, to tell the story of liberation from bondage not merely one week a year, but throughout time, and not merely by a few people, but widening that story to as many mouths as will tell it. I would encourage everyone who reads this to help widen that discussion

Morning train

Yellow lamplight
fanning circles
rain beats down

Farewells, sad smile
a gesture for the heart
The train pulls away.

Fog wreaths high
dancing with the rain
above city streets

Wet rock reflects light
from the dark cars rolling by
early morning train

Softly shaped shadows
in delicate blue light
go past train windows

Early morning
grey-pink skies shine down
on rain-fat rivers

Bright white tugboat lights
shine through pre-dawn raindrops.
The train sings hello.

Electric lines
glow silver in lamplight
Still the rain falls

Rain and lamplight
conspire to show your currents,

Aluminum piles
sit, waiting in the half light
to be renewed

Broken bricks,
a tumbled heap
beside train tracks

tumbling wildly
over slate cliffs

Hidden waterfall,
the train sees your secret.
There are more of you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More from the train

Lone lights in darkness
bonfires on the riverbank
Midnight train rolls on.

Perfect sky pearl,
wrapped in yellow silk veils
dancing alone.

Coal train
carrying black mountain bones
to the city

Branches glow golden
against the black river,
late night train yard

Conductor's light shines
"Hour and a half to Pittsburgh!"
coach car wakes up.

Sleeping train,
full moon, sparking river
midnight company.

Smoky river haze
studded with diamond stars

Lonesome train whistle,
do you ever want to stop
among the warm homes?

Whisper your stories
to the gentle hum
of wheels on rails.

Musical progress

I haven't done a banjo update for a while because it's been slow but steady work, improving the songs I already know, learning a few more, acquiring musical theory and musical accomplishments. I felt incredibly proud when I was able to learn "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" in a matter of 2 weeks, though "Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated" taught me humility once more. When I played it through this week, melody *and* chords, I literally did a small victory dance with the banjo. Truly, a happy moment.

And even the mistakes I'm making are showing progress. Slowly, I'm losing old mistakes, and making new ones - putting in chord changes a little early because my ears say that a chord change would go well there, trying to play to a more complicated timing than is written down on the music in front of me. (As my instructor said in exasperation a few weeks ago "Reading the music is *not* cheating!") And slowly, what I'm playing sounds more like music, more like familiar songs.

And I'm growing more comfortable playing - even with other people present. And so far, nobody's chased me out of the room telling me to stop that infernal racket. Maybe one of my next songs will have to be "Mama Don't 'Low" And I've even spent a Sunday morning casually strumming with my dad on his guitar and me on my banjo.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

On the train

Night train carries me
past dark branches, high waters.
Full moon rides along.

train whistle
crying moonlight blues

Rocking me
Rolling ever on

The moon drenched river
glides among sleeping mountains

Churning waters
dancing a merry jig
down to the sea

tumbles pale blue
Full moon smiles

Friday, April 18, 2008

On the train again

Once again, for Earth Day, I'll be in transit, this time on the train. My family is gathering and I'll be there. Of course, the most Earth-friendly thing to do would be to stay put, but since I do need to travel, not only is the train a less polluting option, it's also relaxing - and the scenery is simply spectacular.

It's been a tough month, and I've gotten fed up with the radio once again, so I'm not listening. I don't need to know the latest poll results from Indiana any more than I need to be

This morning, as I walked from the train station to my office, I spotted buttercups! And another admirer of them and I talked about them as we walked to the next crosswalk, where we parted ways.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Grey skies, pink blossoms,
rain insinuates itself
among the branches.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Lots of people are in DC this week, simply to see the cherry trees. And they are gorgeous. Pink and white blossoms are everywhere, even gently floating on the spring winds. But my husband has said, and I agree that the absolute best trees to be found are the "unofficial ones".

Don't get me wrong. The ones on the National Mall right now are eye-poppingly beautiful, and if you want to see the monuments like they look on the postcards (except with more people) now is the time to go. And the masses of cherry blossoms over the Potomac are simply sublime.

Having said that, I still maintain that the most beautiful trees are, for the most part, escaping the tourists' cameras, because they're not on the cherry blossom tours. They're the volunteers that grow in unexpected places, neglected and allowed to grow in odd curves, with uneven branches and asymetrical individuality. They're on property edges and woodlots, in the corners of apartment complexes, shy and beautiful.

Spotting them brings a moment of peace and calm into the busy noise of the city. Each is a gift, a surprise waiting to unfold to the alert watcher. In the full grandeur of the massed cherry trees, it can be easy to miss the single tree, the perfect blossom, but each of these stands out, drawing the eye and the heart.