Photography · Poetry · Riley · Weston · Words Written

Dog by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The dog trots freely in the street

and sees reality

and the things he sees

are bigger than himself

and the things he sees

are his reality

Drunks in doorways

Moons on trees

The dog trots freely thru the street

and the things he sees

are smaller than himself

Fish on newsprint

Ants in holes

Chickens in Chinatown windows

their heads a block away

The dog trots freely in the street

and the things he smells

smell something like himself

The dog trots freely in the street

past puddles and babies

cats and cigars

poolrooms and policemen

He doesn’t hate cops

He merely has no use for them

and he goes past them

and past the dead cows hung up whole

in front of the San Francisco Meat Market

He would rather eat a tender cow

than a tough policeman

though either might do

And he goes past the Romeo Ravioli Factory

and past Coit’s Tower

and past Congressman Doyle

He’s afraid of Coit’s Tower

but he’s not afraid of Congressman Doyle

although what he hears is very discouraging

very depressing

very absurd

to a sad young dog like himself

to a serious dog like himself

But he has his own free world to live in

His own fleas to eat

He will not be muzzled

Congressman Doyle is just another

fire hydrant

to him

The dog trots freely in the street

and has his own dog’s life to live

and to think about

and to reflect upon

touching and tasting and testing everything

investigating everything

without benefit of perjury

a real realist

with a real tale to tell

and a real tail to tell it with

a real live

              barking

                         democratic dog

engaged in real

                      free enterprise

with something to say

                             about ontology

something to say

                        about reality

                                        and how to see it

                                                               and how to hear it

with his head cocked sideways

                                       at streetcorners

as if he is just about to have

                                       his picture taken

                                                             for Victor Records

                                  listening for

                                                   His Master’s Voice

                      and looking

                                       like a living questionmark

                                                                 into the

                                                              great gramaphone

                                                           of puzzling existence

                 with its wondrous hollow horn

                         which always seems

                     just about to spout forth

                                                      some Victorious answer

                                                              to everything

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “Dog” from A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems. Copyright © 1958 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1958)

Photography · Poetry · Words Written

Everything is Waiting For You – David Whyte

Photo by TJ Parker

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

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Photo by TJ Parker
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It’s been a year… I still miss him every day.

The Life of Things

This is the first morning in over 13 years I’ve gotten up and haven’t then heard the sound of little paws coming out to find me.

Weston was my shadow. My boy. He wanted to be where I was, most all the time. Following me downstairs when I went to fold the clothes from the dryer, outside if I went to look at the blooms in the yard or just to hang out on our deck, into the kitchen or the dining room, following me into the living room with hopeful eyes that I would sit in our chair and he could join me, settling himself against one of my legs. That guy even followed me into the bathroom where I was supposed to pet him until I was done and would then say OK which was his signal to move along.

He loved love, more than anything. He loved…

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A Life… Beautiful

I wrote this nearly 16 years ago when my grandma passed in October of 2005. Today would’ve been her 100th birthday and it seemed like a good time to re-share.

The Life of Things

413758_10151043518492389_936384095_oMy grandmother passed away early this morning. I got the call from my mom some time around 6:30, though now it’s hard to remember just when. I drove to work, not really remembering the drive, and have found myself sitting here, not able to concentrate on whatever task it is I’ve had at hand. And that much, I’m sure, is to be expected. I’m working today because, I think, if I didn’t, I’d just be sitting at home, restless… thinking. Instead, I sit here… restless, interrupted at times by a phone call or email I have to answer, and thinking.

I saw my grandmother three weeks ago. Frail…yes. Tired… absolutely. Full of life… always. She was an amazing woman. Had an amazing life. I walked around my grandparents house three weeks ago in wonder. Slowly passing by photographs of a positively amazing history… awe struck. Phenomenal. 64 years with my…

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Essays · Family & Friends · Photography

Betty

My mother-in-law passed away a few days ago. It was unexpected and has been very difficult.

We were planning on leaving April 5 to drive from Illinois to California to see her. It’d been a year. A terrible year that included the death of my father-in-law 10 months ago, the death of our lovely boy Weston, and let’s not forget, COVID. Which is why we hadn’t been there in a year. COVID shut everything down, including us, and the visit we so desperately wanted to have with Betty after Don’s passing. It was devastating for K, but Betty kept telling her to be safe, for us not to come. So we were safe, and we didn’t go.

That morning K and Betty had a lovely exchange via messenger. Betty loved messaging K through Messenger. It was almost like a secret code she learned and enjoyed. They got to say I love you, which is everything. A bit later, she was gone. But K got to have that exchange, she got to say I love you, she got to hear it back from her Mom. It’s so important to say it. All the time. As much as possible.

Betty could be opinionated, tough, ornery, and sometimes difficult. But she was also full of fun and mischief, witty, smart, and she had a great laugh. She was fiercely protective of Don, as he had been of her, and she modeled, they modeled, a good, solid, loving, marriage and partnership. They loved each other. Truly and deeply. It was a beautiful thing to see. Life for Betty without Don must have been difficult. They were together for 71 years. Wow. 71.

Together Don and Betty created a beautiful family. Their children, each accomplished and successful in their own right, who themselves then made families of their own. And so it goes. The circle and cycle of life. Moving, flowing, creating, then leaving things better than they were when they arrived in so many ways.

For me, a person who came into the family 18 years ago, I loved them and felt honored to be a part of it all. Every family has it’s stuff, it’s difficulties, it’s rythmn, it’s joys and successes, and it’s love. My in-laws had love and a great history together.

I can’t seem to wrap my head around not seeing Betty again. That has been the most difficult thing for me personally. I know, for K, it is the same. Not being able to see her Mom again. It is devastating. But Betty would not want us to dwell there, or to be sad. She would want us to think of her with Don, together again. She would want us to think that she did not suffer and she got to live out her life in her own home, still fairly independent and free.

I will miss her sense of humor, that twinkle in her eye, her mischief making, her sharp mind, and yes, even her orneriness. Maybe most especially her orneriness. I don’t know why, but that part of her, the part that liked to poke the bear and challenge you was both infuriating and confounding and something to marvel at. She held her ground, stayed strong in her beliefs. I did not agree with her so many times, but I respected her strength and conviction. I respected that orneriness.

Betty was one of a kind. A truly unique soul. Someone I was very lucky to know, and very blessed to call family. I will miss her so. But now, looking across at my honey who is typing an email to her siblings, and thinking about them as well, I know Betty, and Don who left us 10 months ago, live on. They live on in K and her siblings. They live on in their children. They live on in the hearts and minds of the rest of the family as well. They live in me. Betty is still here, still present, and will always be. Love is an incredibly powerful thing. It holds on. It holds. And as we all hold onto each other through this, I will hold onto that as well. We all will. Love holds us. It holds.

Betty is holding us right now.

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