Friday, January 24, 2020

My Mother and the Wolves

Friday poem: My mother grew up in a forest in Eastern Poland.  She could hear wolves howling in the winter, and she listened to her mother's stories and warnings and passed them on to me.  This is a poem from my Echoes book about the stories my grandmother told my mom.

My Mother and the Wolves

In their log house in the forests
west of Lvov, my grandmother
told my mother tales in the winter
to pry her thoughts from the sound
of trees splitting with the cold,
exploding with a crack like that
of her father's double-barreled shotgun

A cat, she would say, can't be trusted.
It comes in the short spring night
and sleeps on the priest's chest
watching his adam's apple
as if it were some mouse hidden
under a blanket of stubbled skin
and then striking its sudden claws
through his skin into cartilage

And what of the wolves, she'd ask,
the nine wolves that in the winter's
grey stone dawn would smash
their bones against the door,
hammering like hungry seals
until the door splinters and the baby
is got at – even from the cradle
even from its precious sleep?

And listen, my mother's mother
would whisper then, there are men
as bad as wolves that no door
– no matter how solid the oak –
will keep out.

So trust in Jesus,
in the world of clouds far beyond
the frozen forests of this frozen world

Do this always, and fear the greedy hens.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

No WiFi!

No WiFi!

It was one of those things.  My WiFi was working perfectly.  I was watching a YouTube on my TV of a yoga instructor named Adrienne showing me how I could do yoga without ever leaving my chair.  I was totally involved, following Adrienne’s every move. My bottom sat comfortably on the seat, my feet were excellently planted on the floor, and my upper torso was twisted like a rag doll as I breathed slowly and evenly.  It was the perfect yoga moment.

And then it wasn’t.

The image of Adrienne on the screen suddenly froze.  You know what I mean. She was no longer leading me to yoga heaven.

I somehow managed to untangle myself from my yoga pose and get to my WiFi router and my TV set.  I did all the stuff I was expected to do. I unplugged the router and replugged it after 20 seconds, and when that didn’t work I did it again, and when that didn’t work, I called my WiFi and cable provider and set up an appointment for them to send a service provider.

I felt pretty good about the whole thing except for one thing.  I didn’t have WiFi.

I’m a retired guy and a writer, so I spend a lot of time online, writing or checking facts for my stories or writing to other writers to complain about this or that or just checking in with my Facebook friends, and suddenly I didn’t have any WiFi.

What do you do without WiFI?

It reminded me of those old days, those days before TV and even before we got our first phone.  And it reminded me also of those days when the technology we had simply stopped working.

I remembered that bad winter when we were living in a small town in rural Illinois, and there was an ice storm that brought down all the electric lines in town, and we didn’t have any electricity for a week.   We had no lights, no stove, no TV, no heat. We lived like people in a cave. We’d go to sleep as soon as it got dark and woke as soon as it got light, and during the day, we sat around playing cards and reading books and drinking vodka on the rocks until the vodka gave out.

It was like that — sort of — without WiFi last night.  We couldn’t do our email or Facebook or play our online games or checkout our favorite online sites.

So what did we do?  First, we played a board game with our daughter and granddaughter that we had been putting off for a couple years.  Second, we made a crazily elaborate dinner that was way too scrumptious. And third, we read the books that we had been putting off for months.  I finally opened and finished The Ministry of Adrian, a terrific horror thriller by Duane Ratswander that I’ve been meaning to finish for a month.  It was all a wonderful change of pace to be living for one day without WiFi.

And then we went to bed at 8 pm.


This is my latest column for Chicago’s Polish Daily News.  Please consider leaving a comment at the newspaper’s online site.  It will encourage the paper to keep me around yakking about this and that.


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Stop the Presses

Stop the Presses!

True Confessions for some reason is selling for less than half price on Amazon.  That’s $5.33 a copy with free shipping!

True Confessions is my book of prose and poems about my life from the time I was a hippie in the 1960s to an old retired guy with a cane spending too much time on Facebook.

I write about my friends and my life in Charleston, Illinois, Peoria, bowling green, KY, Valdosta, GA, and Lynchburg, VA.


You can’t go wrong!

If I wasn’t sitting on 2O copies of the book, I’d be buying it too.