Friday, August 28, 2009

Endless Summer

On the 27th of August TechAmerica successor to American Electronics Association had an end of summer party where several of our high tech companies also had booths. Despite the uncharacteristic heat that close to the ocean, the energy level of the attendees, many dressed in Hawaiin shirts was awesome. Do not underestimate the entrepreneurial spirit of Californians, regardless of the budget mess we find ourselves in. Were are to some extent escpecially on Rose Bowl Parade Days blessed with an endless summer and how fitting to have a herald to record. Hope you enjoy.
Endless Summer
In the Mid and Northwest and New England anxious glances to the clouds in graying skies,
Waves of leafy color from the north creeping slowly south as the summer begins to die,
The crowds along the beaches might be the same in number, but a subtle change,
Less people in the water as the temperature moves slowly into a lower range,
Shorts, sandals, sunscreen, sunhats now hard to find, in very short supply,
Winter clothes creeping into the aisles, as the summer begins to die.
The days turn shorter and the mornings herald soon the taste of frost,
Soon school bells tolling for the summer dying and soon lost,
In the Golden State, our days much more slowly become a little short,
But on close exam our summer is eternal, it does not abort,
Our schools are filling up but clad in shorts and usually a mellow tan,
Heads moving up and down to the beat of waves upon the sand,
Our beaches are still full of swimmers in frolic near the shore,
No arctic force can close even so slightly the summer door,
Even if perchance the temperature does drop and our mountains clad in snow,
Our beaches are of summer sand and waves, no winter seeds can grow,
Endless summer of friends and family who can relax when the work day is done,
And stroll in tranquil thoughts, feet ocean kissed and eyes awash in the setting sun.
We are the Golden State; we may be one of the chosen tribes,
A land of dreams, the will to succeed, always moving, never to subside.
This may in the lands of seasons come as quite a shock,
But to us with 49er blood, it is almost too grok,
In such an endless summer, freed of winter’s frosty grave,
Hope remains eternal; there is always yet another wave.

© Michael P. Ridley
August 27, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

General Old Age

There is a great museum in New Orleans the World War II Museum that is worthy of a trip to see even in hurricane season. The following poem has been added to the library collection and may soon be on display. Not a plug per se but my good friend Doug Spinn has a private rail car trip to San Diego on 12/5/09 honoring Pearl Harbor. for details. A great way to honor the diminishing Band of Brothers that answered the call in WWII. North to Alaska Islands of Stability in Seas of Change is almost converted into typed manuscript. If you want preview pages, please contact me at Enjoy the poem and take a moment to reflect on your father's, uncle's, grandfather's, mother's, aunt's or grandmother's devotion and sacrifice to what Ike called "The Great Crusade."
General Old Age
They answered the call by the millions, regardless of inner doubts or parents' fears,
Whether by draft notice or marching to recruitment, some even lying to be able to volunteer.
This was a war not for gold, honor or to occupy another's land,
No, this was a war to not let the gains of tyranny gel and stand,
Dropping plow, lathe, apron, even books and all manner of tools of trade,
A river of men and women to don khaki and join in the Great Crusade,
Ours was not a warrior nation, in standing armies we stood among the world almost last,
In every prior struggle once done, our armies and navies faded quietly into the peaceful past,
Our navy was our oceans that made Europe and Asia distant and remote,
Deeper and wider and more protected than any fortress moat,
No planes no matter how fast or how high they could soar,
Never, ever could they bring the horsemen of war upon our shore,
Our army was 3000 miles of land any foe would have to cross,
Behind each tree and wall, a citizen armed to cause deadly loss,
Or so it seemed, until that early, peaceful December Sunday morn,
In two hours our fathers' and grandfathers' generation in an instant was reborn,
From the sleep of isolation, a nation island in restful and secure peace,
To now chain the dogs of war others saw fit to unleash,
16 million Americans in the colors soldiered and served,
Over 400,000 never reaped the long life they so richly deserved,
These Crusaders lost a few battles and suffered a few defeats,
From time to time either orderly or in disarray they were forced to retreat
But the best generals the Axis could ever put upon the field,
In the long run each and every one died or had to yield,
The oceans soon became guarded American lakes.
No enemy admiral would ever survive in our seamen's wake,
Our airmen drowned out the sun with deadly, lethal planes,
Our foes fell from the skies like the monsoon rains,
There was not a general or admiral they could not best, their deeds fill many a page,
Save one general with forces all would wish never to have to engage,
Yet the battle has at last been joined and throughout this land it will rage,
This general takes no quarter, there are no prisoners and the war is in its final stage,
The men and Crusaders of summer in the winter of their lives are meeting General Age,
More leave the field of battle daily than the carnage of their blackest days,
We have hindered his march, but soon we will no longer be able to delay.
Armies reducing to Corps and then to Divisions and then to Brigades,
The numbers of the Greatest Generation slowly continue to fade,
Regiments to Battalions, then to Companies and then to Platoons and then to Squads.
While we still have the time, it is they we should honor and laud,
For sadly, soon there will only be empty reunion halls,
Full only of the memories of heroes who answered the call.
And the prayer that this General will soon never, ever have to fight again such a war,
There will be no combat veterans aging and waiting their turn to storm an eternal peaceful shore.

Michael P. Ridley
© September 16, 2007

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


In 1966/67 I was a student at the Stanford in France campus at Tours; the great tradgedy of Vietnam was heating up; DeGaulle was in the process of booting the U.S. military out of France (leaving of course the thousands of soldiers buried there saving their bacon in WWI and WWII, the streets of Paris were adorned with red flags welcoming a state visit of the Russian premier, and this 215 lb sophmore just off another summer of commercial seining was introduced to the game of rugby--wing forward, a lethal stalker of scrum halves playing in a league against the French whom we to a man despised. Four knee operations, torn rotator cusp and separated shoulders, cracked ribs later, no longer at 62 play the game. Long intro to being in Oakland on a pilrimage to Jack London square revising my manuscript--North to Alaska--Islands of Stability in Seas of Change the weekend of the 31st and stumbling into a combo bachelor and bachelorette party. Groom was a former rugby player and most of the men there had also played. As soon as they discovered I had played at Stanford and Yale, I was welcomed immediately into the band of brothers. The following poem came to me immediately to the pleasure of the attendees. Hope you enjoy it.
Artists go to Paris for the lure of romance,
Alaskans are drawn to the muddy fields of France
To without pads and helmets only hands bare,
To fight the French in the rugby le guerre
Years have passed and the knees are way too old
Only memories of red and white and moves so bold,
Scrum halves with eyes of fear trying so hard to escape,
The wing forward’s tackle and ribs to break,
And better yet memories of combat not mortal but to the max
Never ending no time to blow or relax
Ended by a whistle and then covered with sweat, blood and grime
The shaking of hands along the warriors’ line
Followed by now two bands of brothers sharing a well deserved brew
Scores long gone, only knowing your honor ran true.
© July 31,2009 Michael P. Ridley