This story begins with an introduction and is preceded by part 1 and 2. Even though this part of the story is fairly complete, much description of our neighborhood and early quests are in previous parts. Thanks in advance for reading. Continue reading “Quest for the perfect Fort pt 3”
This story begins with an introduction and is preceded by part 1. Even though this part of the story is fairly complete, much description of our neighborhood and early quests are in part 1. Thanks in advance for reading. Continue reading “Quest for the Perfect Fort pt 2”
The Perfect Fort
When we were growing up, a favorite activity of our gang of boys was the search for, the building, or outfitting, of our hideouts or forts. Whether it was an unused shed, a covered porch, a hole concealed with plywood, or even a dense clump of bamboo, the search and discovery process of finding the perfect fort was a driving force in our life. Forts were necessary for our group. We always felt the need to have privacy and a place to hide their booty. It didn’t matter whether we gathered things from the neighborhood trash, or stole stuff from the local stores, or even took it from our own homes.
Continue reading “Quest for the Perfect Fort, pt 1”
Introduction to story
My friend rented the smallest available u-haul space to keep what he owned and even though it was against the rules, used the room to change daily. He found places to sleep where he was safe and would not be arrested for vagrancy, and he found places to eat in trade for some small manual labor so that he didn’t have to beg. He tried not to rely on any one friend for too much support, paying back what he could when his monthly royalty checks came in. He did his best to make the best of a horrible situation.
As a kid, some of the greatest adventures of my neighborhood friends revolved around finding new forts. I first had the connective thoughts between living on the streets and our old searches for forts twenty-some years ago. At the time, after moving back from New York, I found out that a different friend was living under a bridge for a while, on his way to hitting his bottom.
My other friend’s recent troubles ran all these old thoughts through my mind again and put much of these earlier thoughts about survival on the streets into clearer focus. Homelessness is no joke and I would never make light of their plight. If anything, these considerations put things into perspective for me. But for the grace of God, there go I!
Clipper Ship on Stormy Seas
Round bales of wool cut into two and a half inch segments
Grouped by color, wrapped and numbered, filling a box
One by one, given a new home on the canvas
Fold over hook, insert, loop, pull, and adjust
Space by space, row by row, color by color
Move on to the next row
Compulsion, obsession, suppression
Fear of stopping drives the progress
A world of people, places and things
Waits patiently for the hook to be put down
Keep moving until the fingers are raw
Seventeen days later and almost done
Fighting through blisters, cuticles bloody
Loose wool lint coating clothes, chair, and floor
Began with the sky, ending with the green-blue sea
Light and dark and dark greens, creamy foam topped waves rolling past
A small JC in the bottom corner finished off the piece
Withdraw preserved in strands of wool
Mounted on the wall to always remember
The pain of beginning a new life with choice
A clipper ship on stormy seas now safe at port
A move and then another, a couple more to come
Its new residence, a shelf in my parent’s basement – forgotten
Cardboard boxes are never safe in floodwaters – everything ruined
Decades later another flood and the need for repairs
Demanded the first floor be cleared, boxed and stored
And there on the top shelf of the hallway closet it sat
Folded, safe and sound, the colors just as bright
The first seventeen days of my new life preserved
Strand by strand, hook by hook, fingers raw by nightfall
The sinking ship that was my life prior, reprogrammed
Thirty-five years later, still sailing along with choice
Row by row, hook by hook, day by day
The years line up and life takes on an image
Gratitude for the reminder of what was lost, then found
Previously published by Silver Birch Press as part of the Lost and Found collection
We all have those stupid teen things that we get away with that could have been a disaster if any number of things happened differently. This is one of a series of events that took place during the transition from boy to adolescent. Too young to consider consequences but lucky enough to not have serious ramifications for my stupidity.
When I was thirteen and fourteen, I worked on my uncle’s lobster boat in Neptune, NJ for a month each summer. My uncle treated me as a real employee. The work was hard, the hours were long, and the smell of fish was hard to escape. For a teenage boy, it was worth getting up at 4am to be on the ocean all day, become part of a crew, and be treated as a man instead of a boy. It was impossible not to learn about karma first hand from the lifers on the docks. I will always remember these days with fondness.
Postcard from the seventies for Shark River Inlet
Shark River Dreams
Seems the head hits the pillow, and the alarm begins to ring
total darkness, except the mocking face of the clock
sit down to eggs and hash browns to power the day
stars still watching, their shift almost ended, ours begins
old filleted flounder and such, garbage to most, bait to us
salted and set aside to ripen, now loaded aboard
as the mooring lines are tossed, the engines roar
timing the tide, to begin our day
Purple on the horizon fights the black
the sea, a glass-like calm today, merges with the sky
surprisingly, these are days that most flutter the stomach
the fumes of diesel accent the ripeness of bait
no breeze to rescue the senses
no distraction of swells, or jolting drops
just the spread of ripples across the surface
the distant horizon, birthing a sunrise in glorious form
Most days, just as the sun begins to crown
the winch is primed to disturb the peace
the first flag is pulled, raised from the depths
crabs, starfish, seaweed and tackle cling to the line
then the first trap hits the gunwale with a shot
my standing sleep shattered by our captured crustaceans
empty the trap, band the claws, bait the trap, and off the stern
just enough time to do it again!
Thirty pots to a line, fifteen to twenty lines make a day
following the path from rock bottom to mud flat
not really knowing if we are ahead or behind
the sun begins to bake the bait, add ambiance to the afternoon
crushed ice coated boxes filled with another days pay
the coast changes sides, the last flag of the day
the scrub down, the rubdown, the countdown to home
the tide again low as we enter the port
A full day at sea, but the day is not over
lobster deliveries get done and the bait trip is run
biz talk, trash talk, smack talk and plans
who’s stealing lines and who’s drilling hulls
what goes around-comes around, to the extreme!
men acting like boys and this boy feeling like a man
sitting with my Dr. Pepper, soaking it all in
can’t wait to see who’s not sailing tomorrow
Shark River, NJ – a summer full of dreams
never worked so hard or enjoyed so much
memories, one after another, so vivid and fresh
still taste the smells, and feel the swells
sea legged careening and rocking boat dreaming
combinations of curses never considered or imagined
and a cast of characters never forgotten
a remarkable summer job that taught life lessons
The world on the docks embraces a normal all its own
Previously published by Silver Birch Press (First Job Series)
We have a writer’s club at work and gather every few months. Each person takes a turn picking a topic, usually giving three prompts to use for either poetry or a short story. The random prompts have offered a nice break from focusing on a manuscript that has consumed much of my free time over the last year plus months.
For our first gathering, the topic was an image from last year’s calendar hanging on a co-workers wall. The five of us each has an entirely different take on the picture. Here is mine.
I used to enjoy watching the spiral wishing wells found in malls. You would place a coin in the slot and watch as it raced around, finally falling into the drain at the bottom as it began its trek, a slow, meandering trail, circling the rim. Each pass took it lower down the side as it picked up speed. When it got to the bottom it was almost a blur, it was moving so fast.
Anyone can explain the physics of the decent. As the circumference became smaller, the time it took to pass was reduced. The tighter the circle, the faster the quarter appeared go. The assumption of speed was only that. The speed of the pass had nothing to do with the velocity of the coin. The time to circle got shorter instead of the coin getting faster.
I haven’t seen one of these in years but the picture recently came to mind. Isn’t this the perfect description of the progression of decline? At first it’s a slow collection of similar occurrences that build into a pattern. The pattern causes other noticeable declines leading to a limiting of risks. Limiting leads to a continuous closing off of options until the circle of our life is reduced, and the speed of our decline is noticed.
The elderly and the addict are perfect examples of this gradual decline. Much happens before the speed picks up and the drain appears. The fun and excitement that hides the addiction leads to a one dimensional life, a smaller group of interests and a smaller group of friends. The choices are on their way to being singular and the decent picks up speed. By the time they notice they are falling they are already caught in the vortex.
The same can be said of the elderly as they realize their decline. Limiting their activities, and the things they give up, make their world smaller. The sameness of every day makes doing anything new seem like a big change. Their smaller world makes the drain at the bottom appear larger and larger. The list of things they can no longer do grows, and their old life more distant, until the thought of getting up to make a meal seems mountainous
At least the elderly have a reason for their decline and hopefully they had a full life. The same can’t be said for the addict who’s vortex is much more associated with toilets. Their choices removed healthy options and they end up flushing their life, giving up everything for their drug of choice, never letting life interfere with their high – using, taking, lying, cheating, circling the drain faster, until they reach the bottom, flushing a life of promise down the drain, always wishing they could just catch a break.
Is it possible to learn ourselves out of this cycle? Can we slow the descent?Continuing to learn and grow, keeping our life options open and our days full, making the path around the spiral as wide as possible, accepting that we can’t do something, but replacing it with things we can.
Wishing well instead of toilet; accepting our limitations, but living fully, enjoying the day’s journey on our slow path to the next stage of our life.
For me, writing had always been a personal release, a way to creatively allow inspection of my emotions. The magic that comes from sitting with a blank page, going into wherever I go while the words are pouring out, and then reading what is now before me, is incredibly spiritual, and personally uplifting.
Keeping this outpouring of unconscious release to myself had become harder now that I see how much I am regularly touched by the posts of others. If I can touch a single person and lighten their day, than sharing these personal thoughts is worth it.
This is my first attempt to try and build a page dedicated to presenting both poetry and stories and I hope people find it as enjoyable as it is for me to write.