Vortex Confusions

Commonplace Capers, No. 9

A week to remember. Walking last Saturday from my place of employment to meet up with my spouse when she would get off of work. (We are a one car family).

The phone lit up: tornado warning! Texts started pouring in. Where are you?

Now mind you, it was not raining but the clouds did have an ominous feel, not green, but ominous.

Anyways, then Judith called, she was at the cafe in town where she waitresses. The fire department had just been through and told everyone to shelter in place.

Now mind you, I am simply walking the two miles I often do into town to meet her. Hmmm. This is odd, we are in the Catskills, not Kansas.

Then over my left shoulder I heard the sound, just as the preparation warnings foretell, it will sound like a freight train. And it did: but a freight train amplified x 10, and not at all mechanical, if that even makes sense.

By the time I registered the true threat over my left shoulder, it was gone. I did not have time to even consider jumping into a ditch. But the drenching began, and in seconds it was as if I had jumped into the deep end of the pool with all my clothes on. I was soaked to the bone.

The hard rains continued as I ran the last quarter mile into town, and found Judith unharmed, but shaken. The car unharmed, but shaken. No life was lost, the property damage, mild compared to the twisters down south and in the mid west. But barns were flattened, roofs were lost, and cars destroyed.

NOAA says it was a T2, 115 miles an hour winds. It’s path about 15 miles long, 300 yards wide.

All I know is it was scary as scary can be.

The confusing part from the experiential perspective was this. I thought it came over my left shoulder and headed into the town of Roscoe down the valley to were it also touched down in Callicoon Center. It turns out it was the complete opposite. I was at the tail end. It came up the valley from Callicoon Center, hit in Roscoe and bounced over the hill to my left. But because it was spinning counter clockwise, I experienced the winds heading back toward town, even though the twister was leaving and heading north.

So, yeah. Eyewitness accounts can get things totally backwards, without fault or blame .

Work Yet To Be Done

Commonplace Capers, No. 08

In his fascinating study of gardening, “Second Nature,” Michael Pollen proposes that our incessant fiddling with the soil and the plants is inherent to our species, not just as culture, but as an evolutionary survival strategy, one that has worked in our favor.

Of course, this incessant fiddling tendency of ours can be also linked to the horrific impacts our species is having on the planet. Is a bomb nothing but a gardening tool? (Pollen does not propose this, I do).

The impacts of the world wars last century on the landscape are a fascinating study waiting to be published, unless I missed it.

And our carbon discharge every time we drive to the store, is it not but an unconscious fumigation technique gone awry.

Man will never be above nature. Man is nothing but nature. Nature has little need of man.

There’s a Monster Out Back

As a sickly newborn,

(They sent my parents home

on day two,

told them to order a coffin.)

I cannot remember, but

I am sure it defines certain behaviors

erupting over five decades later–

the intensity of the incubator,

back in the day, 24/7.

Well, surprisingly, it worked,

and somehow the mucus plugs

buried deep in both lungs, dislodged.

No one was more surprised

than the doctor, who provided

treatment for the next ten years

free of charge, because

resiliency surprised him so.

Welcome to planet earth.

We hope you enjoyed the ride.

My childhood repetitive nightmare

was traversing a narrow boardwalk

with alligators in the waters,

then the deafening sound

of a train approaching,

then inside a chicken coop

under attack by a coyote,

feathers flying everywhere.

At this point,

my parents would wake me,

the fever often over 104 degrees,

and into a cold bath I’d be dropped.

There’s a monster out back,

and it’s pissed I yet breath

and dare to call it out.

A Body in the Morgue

Working the front desk

at the nursing home —

a part time gig

helping to buy the eggs

since this past September.

I like the title:


But things are a bit askew

this weekend.

There’s a body in the mourge.

I didn’t expect it to hit me

so hard.

I guess the first time for any

or everything

is always remarkable.

Did I explain?

There’s a body in the mourge.

Never Look Directly at the Sun

Mom kinda overdid it.

As the eclipse approached

she made it all too clear:

if I dared go outside and look up,

blindness would follow.

I spent that darkening,

cowering under

the dining room table,

a terrified four year old,

waiting for the nemesis to pass.

Oddly, my elderly mother

is now nearly blind –

And I remain curious as to the secrets

hidden just off center, if

we dare glance at the Sun.


Awesome Obscurities, No.3

The geographical and social strata diversity to be found in the blogosphere, especially here within the wp.com ecosystem, is amazing. What I learn on a daily basis is akin to the best university and postgraduate studies I have been fortunate to partake in.

When we consider the systems societies have created to deal with crisis, trauma, and violence, I often question: does the end justify the means? To that inquiry, I here want to share an amazing blog that has helped me wrestle not only with the reality of incarceration as it is deployed in society, but also the inner reality of incarceration that grips my soul, and, to be a bit blunt, I believe we are all wrestling with it.

The Prison Journalism Project. Follow and learn.

(Postscript: The Prison Journalism Project received a wonderful shout-out from Sarah Golding at WP Tavern not too long ago, but to little avail. It seems the vast audience that the tavern enjoys has little time for this dimension, which is a fact for all of us, whether we dismiss it or not. I am confident, and it is my hope, that those of you that find what is said here at the Café on a daily basis to be worth your time, might actually be the audience that PJP is seeking.)

Three Uninvited Guests

A Time Celebrant

(Change cast March 05, 2023, 10:11 AM EST)

需 (xū)

Attending / Waiting

Hexagram 5

漸 (jiàn)

Development/Gradual Progress

Hexagram 53

Although you behaved foolishly,

falling into the trap of your impatience,

yet with fear stuck deep in your throat

as the three unknown factors descended,

you welcomed your guests

and learned to curb the hidden

recesses of malice in your heart.

Little did you know these calamities

held the seeds of your true germination,

and you would be planted

like pine on an outcrop, to flourish

near the mountain’s summit.

(Time Celebrants, poems written out of encounters with the I Ching, The Book of Changes.) ((Also, I struggle to get these posts to render correctly in the WP Reader, so if viewing on that platform, it might be worth going through to the actual website to view the post as it was intended. Peace.))