Series: Potpourri

Call Center

12 a.m. and the phone rings--
Though the middle of the night,
Shyam is wide-awake.
His workday already started.
North America is calling.

Late afternoon in Ohio--
The caller anxiously awaits
The answers.
How to fix the printer?
What’s causing those sounds?

Shyam listens.
His job--analyze and solve.
Keep the customer happy.
He is the unknown face, only a voice,
Speaking across the continents.
Strangers momentarily connected,
Paths intersecting before diverging again.

Shyam hears the next ring.
Into the dawn, voices weave their webs
Linking him with the distant lands.

Comments: A call center worker emailed me and asked if I could create a poem about his work. It took me a while, as "a call center" is not a usual topic about which to write poetry. Having visited an Indian call center a few months ago, I was very aware of what type of place he worked. I ended up having some fun with the topic.


A Kiowa storyteller
....describes humankind’s origin
....different from the ones told
....and retold to me over the decades.
Though both explain
....why death and suffering occur.
Each of these ancient tales
....were passed down through generations
....long before pen was put to paper.

In our modern, fast paced world
....the oral tradition fades.
Instead, print and bytes
....convey our stories.
Seldom do we realize
....these will be the ones
....that we bestow
....upon the next generation.

They will speak much about our people.
....What we hated.
....What we loved.
....What we valued.

Comments: In May I attended the annual O.O.P.S. Conference, the Ohio Order for the Preservation of Storytelling. As part of the evening program a Native American storyteller mesmerized the audience with a story explaining the arrival of humankind upon the earth. I marveled at the differences and similarities between the creation story that I grew up with and the one she told. The poem evolved from that experience.


Never Satisfied

The heat of summer
....arrives early,
....a comfort from the dank
....wet days before.

Lying still,
....sun rays dance across the face beads of sweat
....form on the brow,
....causing one to wish again
....for the coolness of spring.

Comments: No clarification needed.


What are we missing?

Flashes of purple flora
....and the white of Queen Anne’s Lace
....taunt the peripheral vision the car speeds onward 60 mph.
The blur of budding and flowering trees
....flash by barely noticed.
A newborn doe
....lies in eternal rest
....along the roadbed.
A passing thought is offered life hurls onward
....for the God of Time rules.

Comments: A familiar topic. Oh, how we love to rush here and there, checking our watches lest we be late.

Some everyday events at a farmers market at National Harbor
Wonderful produce
We had to make some purchases
Even some entertainment

The Golden Age

Medicare is now my bane
....for I’ve officially entered
....the realm of golden age.

Despite the passing of hurried decades
....inside the flame burns brightly
....far from ready to fade.

Days are spent doing what I desire
....with traditional work
....but a fading memory.

Some ask,
....“Do you miss it?”
....expecting tales
....of boredom and woe.

I smile and soberly reply,
....“What I’ve done without regret,
....but what will come
....are adventures yet ahead.”

So, smile for me I enter this gilded age–
....a time to slow, to ponder and savor.
For I step not into the autumn of life
....but the eternal spring
....where life blossoms and beauty blooms.

Comments: I have several family members and friends who are reaching the age of sixty-five, an important year in American society. This lighthearted poem was written to provide a different perspective on what aging is about.

The Unstill of the Night

Before dawn, awake,
....sleep has stolen off a thief in the night. 

The mind plays its usual tricks
....“What if’s and could be’s.” 
Scenario after scenario
....piques and conjures thoughts
....that would better be left
....dormant deep within the recesses
....never seeing the light of day. 

What causes these unthinkables creep in like nasty vermin,
....deserving to be squashed on sight? 

Soon light will pour in through the window
....causing the thoughts to dash for cover. 
Daily activities will consume the moments
....while the dark id retires 
....only to awaken again some early dawn
....when the peace of sleep has escaped.

Comments: I find that waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to go immediately back to sleep can be some of the most unsettling times in life.  Seldom are the thoughts pleasant, especially if you are experiencing some life crisis.  This poem speaks to many who also suffer from the same middle of the night thought experiences.

Emptying the Printer
Overflow Tank

On the floor
millions of clinging black particles–
the carpet no longer beige,
folder labels illegible. 

The smallest breath of air
causes the Cimmerian phantom to spread,
creeping into crevices,
seeking more to destroy,
leaving a path of devastation. 

This mass of darkness
is the residue
from poems of joy,
letters of inquiry and anger,
and interminable copies
of the often inconsequential. 

Peering at this mess,
cursing the day,
I ponder,“Does this blackness
contain the summation of my life?” 

Soon the vacuum arrives,
suctioning each particle
into its bowels.

Carpet again becomes beige,
the labels now legible,
only a smudgehere and there remains,
the sense of disaster
already fading.

I ponder,“Will the summation of my life
be mere smudges left here and there?”

Comments: Funny how accidents can cause one to think about bigger issues.  However, I do not recommend the spilling of the printer overflow tank as a way to reach that state.  In case you don't know what an overflow is, most laser printers have such an item that captures the ink carbon residue as the page is being printed.  About every 600 copies the tank must be emptied or the printer quits functioning.

Lesson from Biking

Legs are tense,
.....straining with each pedal.
Though the sun is bright,
.....the wind is the nemesis.
Each stroke like driving
.....through an unforgiving,
.....invisible wall.
.....flashes through the mind.

Soon, a smile forms.

For on the return
.....this fiend will become
.....a cherished friend,
.....pushing me all the way home.

Comments: Above is an allegory using a familiar biking theme. Like many events in life, the negative can also have a very positive side, e.g. a loss of a job opens up a new road to travel. However, I truly wish most of you journeys with the wind to the back.


O that verses would flow Frost’s did in his time.
Much more subtle
.....than this simple little rhyme.

o that my efforts captured the depths
.....of e.e. cummings
.....not just the type style easy to copy

But like both
.....I am driven to write.
At times, a rhyme or two occurs.
The profound explored best I can.

But whether appreciated or not,
.....the words will continue to flow
.....until the Creator reclaims my soul.

Comments: No explanation needed.

The Day of the Chipmunk

Chipmunks are spunky critters,
.....mostly in a hurry.
Though stripes line their backs
.....they are far from being prisoners.
They glance this way and that
.....alert to all sounds.
One stands at attention
.....before darting for cover
.....a second or two
.....before my tires dash by.

Some say they are varmints
.....that devour gardens
.....and many pretty things.
But as I watch them scurry,
.....I marvel at their wondrous DNA.

Comments: No great thoughts, simply a description of an event that continues to make me aware of how beautiful simple experiences can be.




Plans Change

Intent on smelling the roses
.....the speed is maintained at 9 mph.
The butterflies flit from bush to bush.
Cardinals rest and fly,
.....sometimes mere yards
.....sometimes to the unknown.
The ubiquitous chipmunks
.....are everywhere.

In the rearview mirror
.....a speck occurs.
A cyclist is approaching,
.....overtaking my unhurried pace.
She passes me, doing at least 13.
My pace increases to meet hers.
Smelling the roses can wait.

Comments: No great lessons other than plans change with a bit of humor. By the way she left me in the dust.

Enjoying a day of biking
Life (Peace) Historical And more Graduate Observation Reminiscence