One More Time

See the man in the coffee shop…
With his head held high…
Always talking trash about the state of the world.
He’s the man that seems so grand…
Like an actor under control.
He never bleeds… he never needs no company.
And he’s drinking a toast…
To the one and only ghost… To serve up…
A second chance.
It happened so fast… how could it ever last…
One more time?

Talkin’ ’bout those little things…
He never had the time to do or say….
Don’t you know it’s all kid part of the times…
I don’t know what to make of this mess…
I don’t think i understand…
It’s just as well… the sentence fits the crime.

Oh yea.

So let’s drink a toast…
To the one and only ghost… to serve up…
A second chance.
Foolish soul… how could you let it go…
One More Time? One more time… yea…
One more time…  on and on…
Giving it all away…
One more time…
On and on…

LITTLETON, CO - APRIL 20: Visitors bring flowers and spend time at the Columbine Memorial on Monday, April 20, 2015. Today marks the 16th anniversary of the deadly shooting at Columbine High School which left 12 students and one teacher dead. The school was closed for the day, as it has been every year on this day since the shooting occurred in 1999. (Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post)

Goodbye Stony Creek

Sun comes up, another a new day… for the neighbors of along Coal Mine. From Waterton Canyon to Chatfield’s dam… balloons are pepperin’ the sky. And Jim makes off in his khakis and lunch bag… off to his daily tech war. And Bill and Gene are working for Jesus… on the streets of Ward 24.

Goodbye Stony Creek… i’m finally escaping your sorrow… fare thee well till we meet again… don’t you cry… i’ll be fine.

Alec is sick… gonna stay home from school… his momma says she don’t mind. Got three interviews and a schedule to keep… Alec will manage just fine. And Debbie says there’s too much noise… she can’t get no relief. Lay your pretty head down on the pillow dear… maybe you’ll finally sleep.

Goodbye Stony Creek… i’m finally escaping your sorrow… fare thee well till we meet again… don’t you cry… i’ll be fine.

Some of us deal trump to our demons… others are wishin’ we could. And some of us are finding our own way to carry on like legends would. And none of us asked to be here… no… no. Many would gladly trade places… to the rock of Coal Mine Avenue… home sweet Stony Creek.

Sun comes up, another a new day… the best of the summer so far. And Carrie’s found some peace on her own… on the hilltops of Clement Park. And as for me, i’m hitting the road… hauling everything to Baltimore. And Bill and Gene have been replaced by some sisters on the streets of Ward 24.

Goodbye Stony Creek… i’m finally escaping your sorrow… fare thee well till we meet again… don’t you cry… i’ll be fine.

Somewhere over the rainbow way up high…
…birds fly over the rainbow why oh why can’t i?

Another Brief Hiatus

On any given off-season morning on the Holland House beach-view deck, one might witness a Carnival floating city slowly wafting into port. This, of course, changes everything on the Dutch/French Island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. Cruise ships are important because, although a pristine, emerald water, white sand, tropical beach paradise, it’s short on valuable natural resources leaving tourism and retail for primary trade. With that in mind, one wonders why this tiny island ended up split (Dutch and French respectively). But then again, say what you will about the French, they really know how to “chill.”  Some things are worth fighting for, right? Priorities. Again, not a crucial hotspot for imperial holdings, but there were plenty of skirmishes and smoky gun battles in the early days. In fact, Saint Martin/Sint Maarten changed hands many times between the Spanish, Dutch and French powers in the early days. Still standing are old stone forts overlooking many seaward inlets offering proof of the island’s turbulent past.

Hotel Holland House is in an area under the government of the Netherlands. The immediate locality is called “Philipsburg,” one L short of a burg with the same name north of Hays. Phillipsburg, Kansas is nestled within a county that regularly produces grumpy people simply unable drive like persons with urgent purpose. Locals on St. Maarten resemble these Kansans in that, on this morning, they seem a bit on the lethargic side… smiles are rare. In addition, traffic lights are superseded by lazy roundabouts, and the grumpy, grumpy traffic cops have seen it all. But oh, things get cheerier when the cruise ships dock. Lots of foot traffic on the concrete “boardwalk” and many more dollars, euros, yen, bat, yang, pesos, etc. are in circulation. 

Ship is in and the eerie buccaneer grin on my waiter’s  countenance foretells tourist plunder ahead.

THERE YOU ARE…
Sampling local spirits, you may find the Caribbean and Dutch beers most agreeable. Of course, Red Stripe is available, if not at the bars, the mini markets peppering the narrow cobblestone walkways. “Presidente” and “Heineken” are available to enjoy with or without citrus. Among other choices, a particular local favorite is a salty number called “Carib.” There may not be a connection, but in the 14th century, war-like cannibalistic Indians called the “Carib” named the island “Soualiga,” which means Salt Island. This due to its main mineral deposit. In fact, the remains of the Great Salt Pond can still be seen in Philipsburg today. So there’s that. My doctor tells me to avoid excess salt, and so I find myself here… hmmm. And you know what they say… “wherever you go…”

I’m here with a group of students in their first years of higher ed. on, what is for many, their first international sojourn. There is plenty of time for cultural exchange, but the students have a primary mission, which is to assist local entrepreneurs in their various endeavors. Later on this day, after the day’s experiential learning, the cruise liner is GONE, and the locals are back to their original grumpy bearing. Over in a remote corner of the beach-view cabana, there is an author interviewing local entrepreneurs, digging for gold to use in his latest book. He’s an interloper and doesn’t know how cranky the hotel’s employees can be and so dared to move a stem glass in order to make room for his recorder. This audacious breach of manners drew a hissing demand to put everything back where is was. Luckily, he’s interviewing locals, and they run interference for him.

FISH OUTTA WATER…
One might find it weird being among the scarce few honkies in streams of people drifting around a beach community. After all, it IS the off-season, so few tourists are to be found. The locals are primarily of color and don’t appear troubled with questions of social justice. In contrast to the racially tense air in the US, folks seem generally peaceful, at ease on their island. One might wonder, however… where are the interlopers’ boundaries? For example, one customarily bold tourist from the Midwest US, a person used to taking 40-minute uninhibited walks at the end of his workdays told me he tried to do it, walk, on this morning, but found himself feeling super unwelcome (ah, fresh perspectives). He ended up skipping the morning walk but may screw his courage up later in the day. After all, he’s on island time now. He knows those grown accustomed to the world starting engines of commerce somewhere around 7:00 am will have to adjust, and should probably get used to not having breakfast till 7:00 on the island.

Many are the opportunities for wonder in “Paradise” as local celebrity, Ife Badejo calls it. One of the more popular adventures is a trip around the island in a canopy-covered motor boat. It is speculated that three out of twenty Midwestern landlubbers on these excursions grow quite seasick and throw up overboard, or worse, on boatmates. Sometimes when a hapless landlubber regurgitates the morning’s breakfast on their neighbor, it starts a chain reaction of stomach evacuating fun. Ah… good times. Luckily, tour organizers have the foresight to install water hoses starboard and stern conveniently for these unfortunate situations. Other wonder inspiring diversions include jungle zip line courses and, of course, shopping and cosmopolitan cuisine out the wazoo. The zip line requires one to screw courage up good and tight. Although a rider may have two safety lines and a workman’s glove to prevent plunging to the mango peppered ground, they also have friendly guides that help the persistently squeamish. Some just can’t hang, and the numbers are about the same as those of the party boat seasick variety… just different individuals.

On the “boardwalk,” musical selections piped through systems are generally a contemporary selection of club mixes and autotuned saccharine pop. There is one hotel that simply can’t get enough of Whitney Houston’s catalog…. played by Kenny G. on his super melodic clarinaxiphone. I overheard one patron mention that if he heard another rousing rendition of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” he was going to snap, and it wasn’t gonna be pretty. Of course, this was an idle threat. He finished his breakfast enduring two or three more iterations of the upbeat, bouncy tootling without incident. However, when Bob Marley kicks in, it restores faith and one gets a saltier taste of island culture.

Lunchtime, things get spicier. One is more likely to hear Bob Marley at a place known as the “Lazy Lizard,” just a few ticks to the left of the Holland House deck. A super popular lunch spot, the proprietor not only serves delish nibbledy gibblies, he also has a line of fruit-infused rum that rocks, on the rocks or neat. Get jerk wings at the Lazy Lizard… and prepare to burn. Cool yourself with a slash of Guava Berry infused rum and then get ready to sleep… you’re on island time Mon… napping is good, and the Lazy Lizard is a knock-out… KO!

ISLAND TIME… ??
Now, don’t fool yourself into thinking island time is not a thing. Every appointment this group of Kansas landlubbers makes with Islanders ends up where they, the landlubbers, show up promptly, and the natives scheduled to meet them are at least 30 minutes behind. This leads one to conclude, in super unscientific ways, that island time is very much like “musician time.” I
am qualified to comment on this… don’t ask. Anyhoo…

…if you want islanders or musicians to be a certain place at a certain time, you have to lead the target by at least 30 minutes in order to keep everyone happy and PROMPT.

ISLAND SECURITY… ??
A curious bit of advice might be overheard from Holland House staff to tourists, warning them not to take a right on the “Boardwalk” after dark unless accompanied by a group of four or more… or if a girl gaggle, at least one burly fella must go along. Going left from the Holland house is not much better, but at least the locals say it is. Traveling the main arteries of the island, you may pass by a “security station” touting “riot squad” in their branding. If that makes one curious, a simple search reveals recent answers to the question, “Do the French and Dutch ever squabble after all these years?” … the answer is, maaaaaaabe. Toward the end of the busy season in March, 2016, a major access road connecting the French and Dutch Quarters was entirely blocked to vehicles. According to the local newspaper, the
Daily Herald, At least two barricades composed of car wrecks were seen on the main road going through the district in addition to many turned-over garbage bins, and rocks and debris were strewn over the road. District officials say the action was the work of French Quarter citizens taking matters of dispute into their own hands. Officials commended the local security forces for exercising restraint even though reports of opportunistic young people manning the barricades and charging people money to go through were verified. A spontaneous march by “Saint-Martin Wake Up,” from the French Quarter to Marigot was stopped by the Gendarmerie in the interests of public order.

OH, THE WATER…..
Swimming… sea swimming… well, there’s no surf just outside the Holland House deck, so boogie boarding or, god forbid, actual surfing are not options. If you brought your gargles, you can maybe enjoy a spot of communance with little tropical fishies, and if super lucky, a sea turtle, or even a ray or two. However, for those with bald cranial domes, and no aspirations for future melanoma, the kelp braids can feel startlingly like the tentacles of massive sea monsters…. especially when your gargles fill with eye burning sea water just as you find yourself in water deeper than your barely 5’ old, fat, bald person frame… AND… if you’ve only recently seen netwebb memes of looming shark bodies lurking in water much shallower (deep breath). From that vantage point, it’s easy to hastily conclude…. THERE BE MONSTERS!

TOURIST PLUNDER, DENIED….
So, now that the cruise ships are gone, the Buccaneer’s grin is dissolved from my waiter’s face, and the natives are grumpy again, a particularly rapacious shopkeeper tried to charge me double retail for a 
pair of Tevas… doh! And… some of the student honkies have taken to calling me  “Captain Ron Swanson.” I don’t know why… I’m a pussycat… even though I had to let the shopkeeper know I was super not interested in paying double retail for the sandals. 

Anyway, here I am… a brief hiatus from the daily grind. It’s been a joy. Six months removed from the last hiatus on the slab at the DeBakey Heart Institute. Neither of these breaks were planned, at least not by me. Mother Nature and the excellent DeBakey staff took care of the first. For the second break, I was asked to fill in for my boss so she could deal with a death in the family. I told her to think of me as an option of last resort because I didn’t believe I was up to an international excursion only six months off the slab. But no one stepped up (?) and I didn’t want to keep her from familial obligations. After all, six months should be enough healing time, right? Right… so here I am… exactly six months to the day: Reborn, 11-15-2016 On the flight to paradise, 5-15-2017. I’m glad I came, but not sure it will have the effect my family and close friends would recommend. Evidently, I’m a type-A, as in “ADDICTED to busy” kind of person. Don’t get me wrong, I love my vocation, but full emersion with it keeps me an arm’s length from the rhythm of my “original drumbeat,” an impractical avocation. Not to mention… that well-worn lesson, “Nobody on their deathbed ever said they wish they had spent more time in the office.”

I probably need to make adjustments…
……..maybe get in touch with my inner type B.

We shall see…. we shall see.

Almost Done

When handsome darkness flies toward the light… and brave saddle brats refuse to fight… and rain pours down wisdom from the sky… i am almost done.

When the rolling pain comes closing in… and a million micro-biting robot chins… sink deep afflicted flesh within… i am almost done.

Almost done… bustin’ my hump on this treadmill of a life… got to be… got to be a better way… gonna get up off of my knees and follow my original drum… gonna do it before it gets too late.

When gaming fans jump to their feet… and worried myth swallowers skip a beat… and flaming sword chasers facing the heat… well… i am almost done.

When challenge junkies trade and fall… and terrified teetotalers do the crawl… for style peddlers speaking for us all… i am almost done.

Almost done… swabbin’ decks on this ill-begotten cruise… it’s been real… but it’s time to go… gonna step… up to the bridge and chart out a change of course… go from down and out to gung-ho.

At the close of yet another day… as babies sleep and angels pray… i find the strength to clear my throat and say…

i am almost done…
i am almost done…
i… am… almost… done.

MOAB

I’ve had this feeling since i don’t know when
pushin’ out my game from a 12 gauge pen…
i’m restless… don’t know why.

It’s hard to anchor to a holograph
hard to carry tunage in a holey sack…
i’m racked yea

Ready to ride

But ridin’s kinda pointless when there’s nowhere to go…
Endless field of strangeness from above and below…

Weightless

And prayin’s not an option when you can’t find a soul…
When the naked truth exposed reveals a gaping hole…
I’m paid out…

Ready to ride

Got a black bomb and it’s tickin’ away…
Gonna take it out on the blue highway.

Gonna make a change… gonna start today…
Gonna tie the branches up and throw them away…
I know…

Over due

Try… try… try again but just can’t see…
Someone pulled the rug out from under me
I swear…

Don’t know who

I had myself convinced it was the real deal…
And how can one resist such a strong appeal…

GUILTY

But somewhere deep inside i know i’ll find some truth…
And hold it high so everyone can see it too…
The pearl… from the shoe…

Got a black bomb and it’s tickin’ away…
Gonna take it out on the blue highway

Blue highway…
…..Ready to ride.

The Judgement

Turning on a spit…
Don’t forget to save a hit…
For the child inside a pit…
All alone without a bit….
…of strength with which to split…
Extra words of twisted wit…
For the king and all his shit…
And all the things that make us quit…
The transcendal seizure fit…
A flight bound to slip…
Through a dimensionary tsunami of love.

Oh the judgement of God…
will be harsh… will be swift.
Movin’ down through the stratosphere…
to the folly of man. And we…
the righteous agents of God…
have got to face the awesome truth… 
Sometimes redemption requires discipline.

The stone will roll…
And mockingbirds will toll…
For whom the bell sings droll…
simple steps on patrol…
Where kindness creates a hole…
Where blackness takes the soul…
Where winding river’s scroll…
Through the universal hole…
For jester’s to control…
The ultimate goal…
Unleash the earthquakes of war.

Oh the judgement of God…
will be harsh… will be swift.
Movin’ down through the stratosphere…
to the folly of man. And we…
the righteous agents of God…
have got to face the awesome truth… 
Sometimes redemption requires discipline.

I AM the dark tower of gold…
I AM the story told…
to children eons old…
For withered words sold…
masses follow pipers told…
Firebirds dripping droppings bold…
Mean sharing bounty cold…
Cash drawn from workers hold…
Power in their hands… sight behold…
The miracle of ONE voice ONE indivisible fold…
Of labor to the power of all but none as the
random judgement of GOD.

…the judgement of God…
will be harsh… will be swift.
Movin’ down through the stratosphere…
to the folly of man. And we…
the righteous agents of God…
have got to face the awesome truth… 
Sometimes redemption requires discipline.

“I’ll see you on the other side
of the judgement of God.”

The Crimson Tide

I saw a dream of fire and iron branding faces soul of I, and specters rising up like the Northern Lights. While word is spread of mental pollution, masked hoods burning crosses at dawn, and I the dreamer fading, nearly gone.

A good man gathers gear and a rifle heading for a moment of truth, and federal guard troops clashed with the local thugs, while broken ethnic romeo soldiers busting out their songs of hope, go fading out like so many lightning bugs.

The crimson tide…
drowning the quick…
bury the doomed,
but oh, how life goes on,
and flow with the tide…
pirates and saints… all to comply,
and clouds are weeping welcome from the sky.

I heard a leader’s lackey nay a plan of creeping bloodless coup, while terror craftsmen blend into the walls. And those who act will feed the legations, with a pure and steady hand, and hearts of stone will be the ones to stand. I dreamt a good man man drove his assault team only justice to defend, a waiting posse for the bordello. And gathered mobs proclaim solidarity with the pure and spotless blood, and Hell jerked, belching fire from down below.

The crimson tide…
drowning the quick…
bury the doomed,
but oh, how life goes on,
and flow with the tide…
pirates and saints… all to comply,
and stars are weeping welcome from the sky.

A mob descends on armchair conspirators mess of mental sickness to clean and I the dreamer rose up to lead the band, of outcasts raising voices bound to set intention to stone, while merchants steal the brass of their own. And those who dread the end of excitement… no more bullets no more bombs… go on to see how dark the night can get. I saw a good man level his rifle forcing death to reconcile and face the tide of blood feud and regret.

The crimson tide…
drowning the quick…
bury the doomed,
but oh, how life goes on,
and flow with the tide…
pirates and saints… all to comply,
and God is weeping welcome from the sky.

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