Gerald Ford’s Grave

20190718_150655.jpgMy summer road trip has been disappointing in the lack of any new ancestral graves and I’ve barely made any progress on my genealogy so I thought I’d go for an easy win.

20190718_152510I’ve been collecting Dead Presidents since my youth and Gerald Ford is my 35th of the 39. He’s also my 31st Dead Vice President of the 42. (There are 14 men who have been both President, Vice President and Dead.)

His presidential museum is located in beautiful downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, on the banks of the Grand River. They wanted $10 to tour the museum itself but the grave was just north of the building and free so I thought I’d pay my respects then get back on the road. But it was such a relaxing space, the modern architecture was appealing and while sitting on a park bench in the shade posting to Instagram, I changed my mind and walked inside.

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The museum is nicely done with lots of artifacts from his and his wife Betty’s life, including a full scale replica of the Oval Office which was interesting if only to provide context to all the photos I’ve seen over the years. It’s big but not that big for an office.

I fully expected the local hero worship and rose-colored glasses of hindsight but since I can remember the Ford administration, it was easy, and occasionally amusing, to detect the overly generous interpretations of events and actions during his presidency.

20190718_152454I wonder how differently history would have unfolded if he hadn’t pardoned Nixon just a month into his term. At the time, as a preteen Quaker boy just learning about national politics, I thought it a reasonable decision. I was willing to forgive since no future president would risk similar ignominy by committing crimes while in office, right?

If President Ford and our “Government of Laws and not of Men” had held former President Nixon responsible for his crimes, would we have sold arms to Iran to fund the Contras in Nicaragua? Would we have gotten lied into a war in Iraq?

Would Donald Trump be just another reality TV star today?

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I Write Her Weekly Haiku/Senryu Challenge #27

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Her sly supple skin
painted with welcoming words
I’m eager to read

 

(I follow a lot of poetry blogs and see various challenges floating around but this particular visual prompt by Bill Wadman got my attention, I assume the reason is obvious. I encourage all my readers to take up this IWH Haiku/Senryu Challenge . The deadline is Saturday.)

 

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Astronaut Sonnet

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Astronaut Sonnet

She floats in orbit
around the pole
wearing a skintight
see-through spacesuit.

She scans the club,
observing the primitives
who slip green paper
into her Möbius garter.

She doesn’t belong,
neither angel nor alien,
strutting eight inches
above the earth.

Marooned by her craft—
tethered to this dreary planet.

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Hourglass Published

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My poem Hourglass was published this morning on Olive Skins, a new online journal for surreal or abstract art. Check it out!

 

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Remember?

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Remember?

Remember when we fought Nazis
instead of defending them?

Remember when we liberated concentration camps
instead of building them?

Remember when we welcomed refugee children
instead of jailing them?

The greatest generation is dying
and their grandchildren have become
the very evil they once saved us from.

(From this week’s Monday Poetry Prompt and current events.)

 

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Lake House

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Lake House

She lies in forest
Green fresh from rain
Living breath of earth
Cool summer morn

Mirrored in the lake
Spinning dawn ghosts
Light spilling over
Guarding mountains

She welcomes me back
Slipping her doors
With comfortable warmth
‘Round my frailty

No longer exposed
At last at home

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(Twelve years ago I left this idyllic house on the shore of Manitook Lake, Granby, Connecticut.)

 

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Men at Work

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Men at Work

Watching men work
their way down the bar,
talking to women,
unintroduced.

The ladies play
with these Lotharios
like cats with mice.
I envy the prey.

I am alien here.
A poet lost
in a strange land,
observing the natives.

My best pickup line
might be: Does a rose
by any other name
smell as sweet?

To find intelligent intercourse,
to probe without protection,
Do you come here often,
is safer than sex.

I don’t belong here,
a little green poet
among men.

 

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Spring — Seventh Grade

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The poet wearing his first pair of glasses

or Before my First Pair of Glasses

Trees were blobs of green
as I counted the days
to summer vacation.

Chalk on the blackboard
smudged meaningless
until called to the front
to diagram a sentence.

My teacher’s face — a blur
when she sat at her desk.
I would roll my eyes
from the back row
at her scolds and sermons.

If I couldn’t see her face,
how could she see mine?

 

(This was written in early April at a Living Poetry Germination Workshop to the prompt: Spring — Seventh Grade.)

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Leap

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You leapt into my arms
knocking me on balance
a phantom limb restored

 

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Stopped

To conclude National Poetry Month, I attended a workshop offered by the North Carolina Writers’ Network, lead by our state Poet Laureate, Jaki Shelton Green, entitled The Poet Witnesses: Writing Documentary Poetry.

For our writing prompt she shared a cool little five minute video called Color of Reality which I’ve embedded below and we were then invited to imagine the shadows of the dead men talking to their bodies. I incorporated the final Poetic Asides prompt as my title and I think it worked out.

Thanks for reading these thirty poems in thirty days!

It’s time for our fifth (and final) Two for Tuesday prompt of the month! Pick one prompt or use both…your choice!

  • Write a stop poem.
  • Write a don’t stop poem.

Stopped

I had hoped the paint
covering my skin
would grant protection
like an invisible cloak

or make me seem unthreatening
to those whose walk safe
down streets in their shining
white armor.

Was it a matter of time
or was I just unlucky?
I just wish it didn’t take
so damn long to die

then I wouldn’t know
how many walked past
ignoring the red puddle
struggling for the gutter.

I guess invisibility only works
after you’re shot.

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