Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Sands of Time in Review

It is that time of year, the time in which we look back at the events of the year and make our resolutions and predictions for the coming year. I have done that in poetic form many times, but this year in every attempt the chaos of the ACA drowned out the subtle notes of other events just waiting to dance on the page in iambic beat. This review is something new, but not borrowed and certainly not Blue. The review is still a poem but includes some very ordinary and non famous people rising up to face adversity. Hopefully, you enjoy it and with apologies to all who are probably fed up with this poet's rabid exhortations a last for 2013 GO CARDINAL IN THE ROSE BOWL!!!
2013 The Year In Review
Once more, Father Time begins to shuffle across the yearly stage
The events of the past year recorded in many a page
The Babe New Year waits nervously in the wings,
Wondering after hearing of the book, what the new 2014 will bring
Far too many events to spotlight in the 2013 parade
Some serious, some comical, some revulsion and disdain, some worthy of charades
While many had only 15 minutes of fame or shame, many images once noted do not seem to fade
Every time you read or listened or watched the news
You could not escape; Obama Care was the consuming witches brew
“Period” in 2013 became no longer a needed grammar tool
But a symbol of repeated, broken promises as a President sought to fool
A government shut down with images of Veterans from monuments turned away
“Arsonists”, “hostage takers”, “Klansmen” et al—any rhetoric, the art of compromise to slay
A national debt continuing to climb at billions daily to new heights
Our children’s future pie consumed in every increasing spending bites
The Reds and Blues unable to even in a photo op to reach across the aisle
A distance to be loathed more than a condemned walking the green mile
A dysfunctional government made for politics in 2013 a state pretty grim
The only purple was the imperial kind our President wanted as his trim
A website that for weeks did not work yet sucked in millions of dollars to build and try to fix
God help those cancelled who think they are covered and next year go to the hospital sick
NSA eavesdropping, as it should, on foreign foes but also on friends and, to great surprise, us
While IRS in targeting the drinkers of tea threw Tax Code independence under the bus
Hilary is seen anxiously waiting in the wings for a race in 2016
The Gray Lady in her support white washes the Benghazi Al Qaeda scene
The heart of Mandela, a truly great man of forgiveness, at 95 finally stops
Yet at the funeral a phony signer for Obama and then a flirting “selfie” photo op
One could go on and on, but here is a better idea that may give us some hope
That from Boston Strong to an hours old groom we Americans can prevail and not just cope
In Boston during the Boston Marathon, bombs exploded to maim and slay
We know the city rallied and in other marathons we held our fear at bay
A victory parade for the Sox ending at the finish line to celebrate a Series win
Boston Strong, a message— we will put the terrorists into the trash heap bins
Joy Johnson at 86 at running later in the marathon on New York City streets
Falling down, helped up, hobbling slowly to a finish, never to admit a quitting defeat
Like the first marathoner of ancient Greece, “Joy to you! You have won.”
Next day in a hospital bed, her running  life complete, her life was done.
A fallen warrior, John Hargis, minus two legs in a coma lying in a hospital bed
When the Purple Heart pinned on his chest, a salute, as somehow the coma darkness shed
An eighth grade teacher of math, Michael Landsberry, a former Marine
Unarmed, a human shield, died protecting students by being in between.
We know from the Bible that Peter was a fisherman as was Francisco Camacho, a father of six
On a December day when the ocean was playing on a breakwater its deadly tricks
Another total stranger father and  14 year swept off the breakwater and trying to survive
No hesitation, no debate, he dove in to help—they made it, he is no longer alive.
A brief hours old  marriage ended far too soon and not by a groom pushed off a cliff
A true Knight, stopping at night to free a stranger trapped in a car in a snowy drift
An ex-Ranger, Riley Knight, then  struck by car while his new bride listened on
A hero who did not make it to the bridal suite and will never see another dawn.
I could go on, there are hundreds more events but the tears fog my eyes.
We are all lessened when a mere mortal, a Samaritan, a hero is wounded or dies.
Focus on the 2013 famous, the celebs, the news magnets and you focus only on immobile rocks,
When the ordinary grains of sand through the hour glass of time were in 2013 and now in 2014 will be the driver of humanity’s clock.
The book for 2014 awaits and has only pages blank, humanity’s and your story to write
May the script be one of purpose, may the palters and wrongs be outweighed by the truths and rights.

© December 31, 2013 Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet


Friday, December 27, 2013

Memorial to Jeanne MacKechnie

I had some weeks ago found the poem I had written for my father's memorial service in 1999 in Petersburg, Alaska. I inputted it into the computer and posted it on this blog. Today with more boxes to open, I found the poem I wrote for the funeral of  my mother who died on Mother's Day, 2000. This poem and the poem I wrote for my father, brought home in stark reality the realization that  I and my Baby Boomer generation, like the generation of my father and mother, many of whom have already entered the late, late winter of their lives, are now feeling the first chills of winter with a hint of snow in the air. I have joined the ranks, like many of my friends and associates, of new orphans, with the invincibility we all thought we possessed starting to look like the sand castle with pennants still flying but the slowing creeping, relentless tide coming closer, closer, ever so closer.

Memorial to Jeanne MacKechnie 
I stand before you in dark and somber sorrow,
To cope with this certain loss today, to somehow find the strength for tomorrow.
I cannot eulogize what I truly, truly miss,
I cannot bring back a final hug or a tender, loving kiss.
A final radiating beam of pride to see her grandson baptized,
Or the irony of "Have some more clam chowder—Mike you should
go down another size”,
A final game of cribbage, or a chance for her to hear my latest poem.
The wishes are too numerous and would make this a grieving tome.
She was a loving mother that overshadows all memorials I might try to paint,
And she said it best—-a most wonderful, happy life with no regrets and no complaints.
 I cannot bury what lives within me—from flashcards to early recitals of Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose
To read, to write, to rhyme, to empathize with an Alaskan mate less goose.
A love of Alaska, wild mushrooms, bagpipes and sautéed fiddleheads,
Always ready to learn, but with independence—very, very hard to be led.
Each of us have different memories and many may be the same,
A dynamo of energy, her red hair like an eternal flame.
Maybe these are only words, but take them for what they are worth.
There must be a God to keep women like my mother for so long upon this earth.
 Each tear that marks today's unremitting grief,
 Is paid back by a river of each joyous memory and this belief...
No matter how hard my spirit may tremble, turn or toss,
An eternal joy is waiting no matter how hard is today's loss.
The boat that was always there to flee any foreboding shore,
Has finally sailed to a place where she is really needed more.
God may be all power and light, but like all healers His writing must make the angels
shake their heads,
 He has probably been waiting to taste a shaggy morel or a soft, tender fiddlehead,

 He's been waiting to hear in person—"Hot nuts--get them while you can,"

© 2000 Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas 2013

It seems the more important Christmas has become to insure solvency for retailers, causing them to stay open on Thanksgiving or begin Black Friday at the crack of midnight, the more difficult to see or hear the word "Christmas", be serenaded by Christmas carols at schools, or enjoy Nativity scenes.  For those of you sick of watched commercials of men in tuxes and underwear,  jiggling their "bells" or yet another parody of the Night Before Christmas to sell goods, or being a member of that select group of 40 million Target shoppers who have had their credit information hacked into, take a deep breath and reflect on what Christmas is supposed to be, not the be all end all of being judge by the quality and quantity of the gifts you give, but rather the celebration of the birth of Christ. May peace be with you on this Christmas season and throughout the coming year. I hope you enjoy the poem I wrote for this Christmas. Merry Christmas to all!
This Christmas season much of the nation is held hostage by an arctic front
Chilling rains, windswept blizzards, cancelled flights and stranded travelers to hunt
Even our sunny California is losing its sunny, fair weather charm
Frantic searches for hats, gloves, sweaters, furs to keep us warm
Even in crowded malls with swirling shoppers with temps of 98.6
We are still shivering; even shopping in a frenzy does not do the warming trick
We are in the age of global warming yet huddling against the arctic breeze
It may not yet be a White Christmas at the beach, but healthcare.gov seems to freeze
In this age of global warming, even at Christmas the rhetoric will not melt
Sadly, Red and Blue search for new epitaphs of blame on each other to pelt
Where is the warming as we cruise round and round for a parking place?
Our reservoir of peace of mind collapsing, leaving barely the tiniest of trace
We are creating a warming carbon footprint larger than that of Shaq O’Neal
Caught up in a dog eat dog, all for a space to search for the latest must--have deal
Staying warm in these arctic blasts may even hunts for gifts surpass
But this Alaskan has a warming suggestion that is guaranteed to work and to last
You do not need a furnace, Yule log fire or even politicians spewing hot air
No, here is the key; here is the secret that Santa has asked me to share
No matter the stress, no matter the crowds, no matter the loss of time,
Or even the rudeness in this time of peace or how many hurdles to climb
Take a breath, slow down, close your eyes, listen to the notes in the air,
Listen to the chimes; look at the children in line to meet Santa in his chair
Look forward to listening and feeling the squeals of excitement of children bounding down the stairs
Stopping only for the briefest moment at the empty milk glass and cookie crumbs to stare
Their knowing nod, “We have not become mini, jaded adults we’ve proof that he was there
And this nod that may knock you flat, “Maybe this is the day my gifts with my siblings I will share,”
Then anticipate the feel of the warmth of friction as gift wrappings are torn apart
The feeling of the joy of children and your loved ones to warm the chambers of your heart
The magic of Christmas so easily found in their eyes, which sparkles and reflects
You will feel the cold adult armor shedding and the children’s beliefs you will now gladly accept
You do not need mistletoe on this day or any other to with your partner hold and kiss
Knowing that you have not forgotten the most important gifts upon your list
The Magi braved the cold nights also but in the deserts with gifts of frankincense and myrrh
Today with chaos in the Middle East, those resin supplies are very hard to procure
Now, gold can be found and of course for a loved one, it can be bought
But if maxed out by Black Friday and Cyber Monday, here’s a far better thought
Don’t waste time and dollars roaming in desperation in a retailer’s physical or online shelf
A better use of time would be to look within and give the lasting give of a part of one’s self
Not just to friends and family that is a truism one needs not to state
But also to the stranger, especially one with only crumbs of hope on his plate
For with that comes to both the donor and donee
The desired trinity of peace, tranquility and serenity
Christmas as a celestial path in the heavens comes but once a year
But so given, this trinity will whisper daily in your heart and ear
“To enjoy and keep these gifts, these gifts you must daily exude and give
Peace, tranquility, and serenity are a far better way to live.”
Even the children after a cyclone of gifts to open and begin to play
Know that something more than toys is so precious on this day
Warm hugs and a sense of peace to one’s soul adhere
The gift that keeps on giving on Christmas and each day of the year
© December 18, 2013 Michael P. Ridley, aka the Alaskanpoet


Monday, December 16, 2013

Rangers Lead the Way- a True Knight

Good Samaritans, in this time of legal exposure, 24/7 other concerns, or the social media induced loss of face to face contacts, are hard to find, but the Ranger within a Ranger is not. The news coming out of Crown Point, Indiana is a total tragedy, Riley Knight, a former Ranger of 12 years and a groom of only several hours, is struck and killed by three cars while helping out a teacher trapped in a car on a snow covered street. Brave man, brave husband, and our hearts and prayers should go out to his widow who was with him when he died and heard the impact of cars on his body. Rangers Lead--Rest in Peace Riley Knight.
Rangers Lead the Way--a True Knight
You can retire from the Rangers, but the Ranger within never leaves
Painful thoughts as a new widow, just hours ago a bride now grieves
Riley was a true knight in actions and in name
Who among us would have late at night done the same?
A cell phone call to 911 to others to alert
A car off the road, someone trapped inside could be hurt
But Rangers do not follow or let others do their deeds
No if a Ranger, you lead into harm’s way even to die or if lucky only bleed
Not helping another is simply not within a Ranger creed
Others in harm’s way, you help first your safety you do not heed
Riley Knight you are a hero and for your wife's loss all should mourn
We pray for God's help to ease her sorrow to be borne
For us we all should pray that what you did as a Ranger on this cold, Indiana night
Inspires us in time of danger to ape, and your acts never, ever fade from sight
And to flyonthewall1 with your comment that defies decency and taste
Pray to your Allah for forgiveness for that remark you really need His Grace 
© December 16, 2013 Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Take the First If Continue to Dream

The first if on a hurdle of almost impossible ifs has occurred. In last minute heroics, the Sooners beat the Cowboys. The Ifs of a Buckeye and FSU loss have yet to occur. One Tiger will lose today. Not sure which loss gives Stanford with the most important if of the day-- a win against the Sun Devils the best chance to play for the National Championship on the 6th. First news on the Cowboy loss was speculation on who would benefit. Not a word on Stanford. This poem immediately came to me. Only in America can people dream on all aspects of their life including their alma mater's performance on the fields of play. Go Cardianl!

To be a man to wear the Color, a man of the Muse
Reading sports too often leaves little to amuse
I have had endure the hype and accolades
Of another Color march though weak opponent parade
The fawning and holier than  though attitude of the SEC
While in total obscurity is the team of student athletes of the Tree
If student athletes riding today into the desert on horses of no name
Break the fork and leave the Devils feeling a lot of pain
Stanford smells the roses and plays another S with a greenish hue
If the Buckeyes win and the BCS creates a stew
Sending a Tiger to stalk a Seminole from the swamp
Stanford relegated to on the Buckeyes to romp
A better deal and to honor those who play but also graduate and learn
© December 7, 2013 Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

PAC 12 Stanford Impossible Dreams

Poets by nature are dreamers; we love to dream, to hear the muse course through the inner workings of our brains and souls. We love to dream and to implement in poetry the dreams of all so we can do battle with the logical sides of our brain that seek to banish the creative spontaneous poetic side to replace it with the logical, planning side which is an anathema to the poetic. Unfortunately, the dreaming process is far to easy to be interrupted when the dreams coming out of Washington, D.C. are the nightmares of rhetoric and bias and political expediency. With the Pac12 Championship on Saturday unfortunately at Tempe as opposed to the Farm, and with America's "Horse with No Name" in my ears, and viewing the bias against the Pac12 and the Stanfords of the football world before the holy alter of the SEC, this came to me. Go Cardinal!

Horses of Names
To dream the impossible dream, here is how it starts
Into the desert with horses of name from the Farm to depart
Sun Devils hit with a lot of grinding smash mouth pain
Spartans rise up at no go pass to feed on Buckeye grain
Seminoles worried about prison garb lose to the Duke
Two Tigers claw themselves out but Show Me gets a win
The Crimson becalmed watches its tide go out but does not come back in
The Cowboys are crushed by a Sooner stampede
When the dust clears, Stanford is either number 2 or in the lead
If neither God help the Utes or the men from Troy
Next year is revenge time and those teams Big Red will destroy
And with its legions of Google alums BCS computers sound their last alarm
The Silicon Valley giants will unleash upon you eternal freezeup harm

©  December 4, 2013 Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Away from the Black Friday Crowds

The rush into a Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or Target in the early, early hours of Black Friday morn looks more desperate than the crowd escaping from a theater housing the Blob or running from the Pamplona  Bulls. But a few hours ago these mild mannered Americans were expressing gratitude for their material blessings over another helping of turkey and the trimmings. Now scenes of trampling, fights and even a taser to save a few dollars for things they probably do not need and if gifts will soon be forgotten.  Away from the cameras in Costa Mesa and many other cities in California homeless men and women huddle against the cold, unwashed, if lucky the remnants of a shelter or mission turkey dinner still with them. For far too many the park bench or bus stop bench may be the last stop on the alcohol or drug road to total despair, but until the very end unwilling or unable to put down the bottle or the needle. Terrible diseases ravaging those who suffer and devastating their friends and families.

Barter Not Gin
If you have no future, you are doomed to live in the past
But with drinking or drugs the present blurs and will not last
The scenes on TV are crowds in the early morning Black Friday hours lined into the streets
Frenzy unabated to be first barging through the doors unwilling in quest for deals to accept defeat
Worse are the fist fights for gifts one may not really need
 The gift of peace a blessing in this melee no one heeds
But all pales by the scene of a shopper writhing on the floor being tased
So much for the gift of peace as we enter this new Black Friday shopping phase
For those who believe they are invincible and can shop until they drop
Go to a place without lines, without TV, on a cold winter night---a bus stop
Two homeless men on a bus stop bench slowly drinking rot gut gin
Future, present, and past in word slurring,  mind blurring spin
One man was a man of fifty with a weathered, fully lined  Medicare face
His mental facilities clearly  long since fallen from grace
Muscles leaving his body faster than rats from a sinking ship
Weighed less than a jockey but the gin bottle would not leave his lips
His home a shopping cart with a few scraps of filthy garb
Even in California when winter comes, outside it is somewhat hard
For “a bus” or “a meal” plea, I had no spare change
Another bottle I could not, seeing his vacant eyes, help to arrange
So I handed him some currency of nutrition—granola bars, cheese, bananas and nuts
Anything but money for gin to drive him further into his alcoholic rut
The other had a similar Medicare face but his mind was totally blank
Any attempt at words other than curses went quickly into the tank
After a stream of curses and a guzzle not a gulp, he no longer had to vent
Curled back into a dirty  blanket, back into a stupor totally spent
Neither would admit to needing help to weather the cold night
Any shelter would mean loss of gin, not worth trying to win that fight 
As I walked away, feeling helpless and with some guilt, I could not do more
At least he could not take that currency to barter for gin at a liquor store.
No future, living in the past which fades with each gin taste
Clear example of what alcohol can do and how it can waste

© December 1, 2013 Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet