At Twilight

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Location: Midwest, United States

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cool Breeze

I sit

Clavicle square to open window

Cool breeze fondles shoulders

Hair tickles nape

Eyelids fall shy

Cool breeze seduces


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Wednesday, June 29, 2011


No pair of testes or ovaries has yet to be created that does not "tingle" to the gurgle, pop, hiccup, menace, improbability, muscle and sheer madness of a V-Twin motocrcycle engine.

Just sayin'

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Seventh Decade Musings

I slipped and slid into my seventh decade today. Kinda has me rubbing me eyes in somewhat of a stupor. Me, Sixty!?! How can that be? I once thought youth was mine forever. Turns out I (along with all who have come before and felt the same) was wrong.

I’ve never been one to celebrate my birthday. Well, OK, birthdays were a big deal for the first decade or so. Kinda came to be old hat after a while. Still, there was something about this day, something about entering what could very well be my final decade (if decrepitude is any indication) that affected me more than I would have predicted. It was a day of reflection and somewhat of a celebration.

* * *

From my very first entry in this blog, I’ve been pondering what it all (as in “Life”) means. I’ve been circling round and round the subject, as in that early post titled “The Three Ages” some six years and 500 posts ago, to this very day. Although the journey has been convoluted, often painful, I’ve edged a bit closer towards understanding.

My sixth decade was a mess (I’m being charitable). It was a decade filled with losses great and small. Lost my cartilage, my youth. Lost quite a few who meant everything to me. Lost my perspective, my hopes. Lost my way and, as a consequence and for a good long while, my will to live.

The thing about losses and pain is that they humble the heart, mind and soul. Say what you will, humility is a good thing. A most necessary condition. To be humbled, brought to one’s knees, is cause to reflect and reassess. Wants and ambitions fade in importance. Fantasies give way to realities. Though I would have greatly preferred to have avoided the losses, the humblings, the sheer abject pain, I concede they’ve served their purpose.

* * *

The blogosphere is replete with references to an ancient Egyptian belief that the answers to two questions determined whether or not one would be allowed to proceed on to the afterlife:

Did you find joy?
Did you bring joy?

Frankly, I don’t think I’ll ever meet Osiris (I could be wrong). No matter. What does matter to me, today, is that I believe these truly are the only two questions worth asking and answering.

Have I found joy?

Yes, I have. Not in the conventional sense that all too many assume to be the paths to Joy: material wealth, professional success, full belly and multiple orgasms (although I’ve had my fair share of all that, too). Those paths may (or may not) lead to satisfaction, pride, laughter or euphoria, but Joy is something quite a bit different.

I can’t wrap my mind around Joy. I’ve tried. I’ve tried to put into words just what it was I felt when I’ve experienced true Joy. Never did have the words or the talent. But Joy is something unmistakable. It’s a feeling utterly profound, often resulting from experiences not visible to any bystander. I wrote, once: “It is true joy to wake to a dream and have the dream be real. It is a blessing to wake to the world…when your entire world is lying there beside you.” Yes, I’ve found Joy in fits and starts. Found it in kind gestures, found it in unexpected places and inexplicable ways at the most unpredictable moments. Joy is simply like that...available to all who spread their arms wide, open their eyes and hearts (if only for a moment).

Oh, yes, I’ve experienced Joy.

Did I bring Joy?

Oy, that’s a question I find difficult to answer. I think I some. But not enough, to souls enough for long enough, I fear. I’ve not earned sufficient laurels to rest upon. But, Osiris, if you’re out there, know that I hope to do better.

* * *

This was a day of greetings and heartfelt conversations. I was rather surprised by the outpouring of good wishes. Yes, quite a few brought me joy this day.

Many exhorted me to celebrate. And celebrate I did. Just not in a way they might have had in mind.

All I wanted to do was mount my bicycle (gracelessly, as has become my norm) and ride. So I did just that. The day was hot and humid. Thunderstorms lurked on the near horizon, sputtering gusts meant to pose a challenge. No matter. I saddled up and rode. I rode for as long as my burning knees allowed and reveled in the fact that I still could. And the sweat that cascaded down my face to sting my eyes? I reveled in that, too. I gave thanks for the heat, for the blood and sweat, the aches and pains.

I was glad to be alive.

Glad for this chance to experience joy.

Praying I’ll still have a chance to bring joy to others.

* * *

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.
From laden boughs, from hands
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Li-Young Lee

* * *

Friday, June 17, 2011

Just 'Cuz

It's hot and humid

Or, "close" as some would say

* * *

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Footsteps Echoing

I walked the length of Laisves Aleja a few too many times to count. It’s a broad boulevard that traverses the length of Kaunas from the Nemunas River to the ancient heart of the medieval city. I grew quite fond of that street, despite the howls of protest from aching knees. I walked its length in sunshine and rain. Walked for hours to meet a friend, see the sights, digest a dinner, metabolize alcohol and, above all, to breathe the air and...feel.

And it was there, on the west side of that boulevard, that I noticed the pavement had embedded bricks carved with the word “Tulpe” (“tulip” in English). These bricks extended for a full block but bespoke no connection whatsoever to the adjacent storefronts. The “tulips” were a mystery.

I came to learn, from that dear friend, that these stones marked the location of a street side café that was once home to the actors and artists who would gather there each evening.

Before the War. Before the horrors.

How to describe the emotion upon realizing that my grandfather and grandmother had spent many an evening there? Before the War. Before the horrors.

Reflexively, I stepped a bit more gingerly. Quite a bit more pensively.

No, I didn’t hear footsteps echoing...

I felt them.

* * *

Monday, June 13, 2011

Clarence Clemons

Restless midnight. I wander from room to room disjointed and distraught. About two hours ago I learned Clarence Clemons suffered a massive stroke. The news set my mind spinning, sent me cascading through time and space. I wasn't prepared to learn "The Big Man" had fallen.

How can that be?

I've listened to a great deal of music over the course of a lifetime. Watched countless musicians in concert. Never one to pick favorites (it would be an injustice), I simply absorbed as much as I could, as often as possible...selfish gifts to thirsty heart and soul.

But there's a great big warm spot in this heart o' mine for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. First saw them in the late 70's. I had cued the song "She's the One," immediately cranked the amp to "11" and knew, simply knew, that he knew what I knew.

Saw him perform as a young man (read that both ways). Concerts so powerful they could put nuclear reactors to shame. Concerts so long that the band and audience had to be wheeled out on stretchers.

I'm serious.

Saw Bruce and the band perform whenever they came to town. I aged along with them. Sang along with them. Came to be that the concerts took on the air of revival meetings. It wasn't just the music. There was humanity. There was enormous talent, sure. But there was fellowship, too. Mutual care and concern.

Shared love.

And there was always Clarence Clemons, that mountain of a man, who would place reed to lips and blast his sax to the rafters. And we would stomp and roar in appreciation of the raw sex in the sound. He punctuated each song and made us throb.

If you have never seen Bruce and the E Street Band perform in concert, I feel sad for you.

I’m guessing I’ll never see them perform together ever again.

I’m sad for me.

And grieve for Clarence.

* * *

Friday, June 10, 2011

Then There Was...


Ah, yes, Gira.

They say it’s a sort of beer made from bread. I dunno. I was usually too drunk on the stuff to comprehend the alchemy. I drank me lotsa Gira in Lithuania.

Felt obliged.

Some refer to it as Kvass. Well, let them have their say. Me? I call it Gira.

I’ve tasted Gira almost all my life (not as an infant...but as a YOOT).
I gotta say, I never did like the taste, the taste of what I had as a yoot roaming the south side Chicago Lithuanian ghetto.

But then I had me a bottle of a rich, amber cream that was labeled “Gira” in a 12th century cellar that (I assume) had witnessed all manner of doin’s. It was there that I poured meself a mug o’ stuff
I swear was made in Heaven.

The barmaid called it Gira.

So I had me a few variants of Gira fermented by artisans who teased my tongue with fruit flavors, honey, berries, raisins, cream and...praise the miracle of fermentation...inspired lascivious thoughts.

And it came to be that I overly quaffed Gira as I noshed on smoked pig’s ears and sausage derived from boar and elk.

I kinda like it here,” I thought.

And that barmaid had such a wry smile.

* * *

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Genocide Museum

I can’t put words to the feeling.

All I know is that stepping across the threshold to the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius hurts the soul.

Today, it’s known as the Museum of Genocide Victims.

My grandfather was imprisoned there.

Interrogated there.

Tortured there.

* * *

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Hang on to your radicles, peoples. I'm about to go all botanist on you and beat a metaphor to death.

Our plant cousins exhibit two fundamentally distinct root systems. There are the stalwart members of the taproot clan, trees that drill a single root deep into the earth, a root sometimes longer than the tree itself is tall. A taproot so earnest it can cleave stone in search of succor. One cannot help but admire the mountain juniper rooted deep within rock, scarred and twisted by the bitterest winds yet steadfast despite all. Gotta give the taproot kin their props. They aim to stay come hell or high water.

There’s also the fibrous root clan. You’ve seen them...the cottonwoods drowned in rivers, their roots unearthed, exposed naked on the river bank. These roots, you see, are broad but shallow. They feast in benign environments where nourishment comes easy. Come a dry spell, the fibrous root edges farther afield, not deeper. The root roves until satisfied. Members of this clan praise the earth for its generosity by offering abundant shade and exuberant hues in autumn. Gotta love the fibrous-rooters. They dazzle ‘til they die.

Barbara Walters once asked an interviewee: “If you were a tree, what would you be?” She didn’t win a Pulitzer in Journalism for a query such as that. But the funny thing is, I can answer that question with confidence. I’m a birch. A member of the fibrous-root clan. My skin is paper thin, but in the right environment I’ve been known to razzle-dazzle. My roots extend across countries, but I’ve merely scratched the surface. And though I’ve weathered a storm or two, I’m vulnerable.

* * *

Gratuitous Non-Sequitor:

I’ve been told on good authority that a rooster roaming about a horse farm in Maryland has been christened “Jonas” in my honor. I’m also told said rooster has “issues.”

* * *

Friday, June 03, 2011

Passionate Discourse

(Discourse entirely in Lithuanian...translation provided for Dear Reader’s convenience)

We were sitting street side at the inaptly named “California Tapas Bar.” Beer and wine flowed freely, punctuated by plates of cheeses, sausages and sundry morsels (some quite tasty but all decidedly NOT Spanish in either heritage or spirit).

To my right sat three comely women who had been drinking Chardonnay gratis, courtesy of the four vagrants from America. Two were embarrassingly young, one faintly Eurasian, the other definitively Aryan. The third older, harder-edged.

You’re not Lithuanian” spake the hard-edged one.

Once you’ve left the country, you cannot claim to be Lithuanian.”

My uncle blanched. His hackles did what hackles do when provoked. But he was flummoxed, speechless, taken aback by the very notion that someone didn’t consider him a Lithuanian despite the fact that he was born in Raseinei, that he cavorted in the native soil as a young child until the Russians came, imprisoned his father and left him an orphan, a homeless eight years of age.

He’d spent his entire life aching.

Me? I kinda missed most of that conversation. Pity.

I kinda caught the tail end.

I turned to the hard-edged gal (whom I considered rather attractive), raised my glass in a toast to her and her compatriots and intoned the following (more or less):

I was born in Canada because my parents were war refugees. My family, for the most part, perished in Siberia. My parents had little choice. Flee...or die.

So I came to be born in Canada, but my family moved to America. I grew up in the United States. Spent my entire adult life in America.

Both countries consider me a citizen, and I love both countries in return.

But we spoke only Lithuanian at home. I spent each Saturday in Lithuanian School, studying grammar, the literature, history and geography of a country I’d never seem but came to love as a sort of Camelot.

Sundays? I was a Lithuanian Boy Scout. I did all the “scout things.” Went to scout camp each summer.

So, here I am. Born in Canada, raised in America, and loving Lithuania from afar my entire life.

What am I? I don’t know.

You tell me

* * *

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

You Are a Tourist

This fire grows high
This fire grows higher
This fire grows high
This fire grows higher

When there's a burning in your heart
An endless yearning in your heart
Build it bigger than the sun
Let it grow, let it grow
When there's a burning in your heart
Don't be alarmed

This fire grows higher

When there's a doubt in your mind
Because you're thinking all the time
Framing rights into wrongs
Move along, move along
When there's a doubt within your mind

When there's a burning in your heart
And you think you'll burst apart
Or there's nothing to feel
Save the tears, save the tears
When there's a burning in your heart

And if you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born in
Then it's time to go
And define your destination
There's so many different places to call home
‘Cuz when you find yourself the villain in the story you have written
It's plain to see
That sometimes the best intentions are in need of redemptions
Would you agree?
If so please show me

This fire grows higher
This fire grows higher
When there's a burning in your heart

Death Cab for Cutie

* * *

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