Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Summer of Strat-o-matic

The summer theme continues...but I am having a devil of a time finding pictures of the old Married Student Housing (aka Westmoreland) from the 1980s.  I gather that the old buildings have been torn down to make way for fancier surroundings.  Ironically, it looks like the buildings at Amazon remain.  Those were in sad, sad shape, but St. Vincent de Paul has rehabbed them as low-income housing.

The pictures above give you a bit of the flavor of Eugene back in the day.  The first picture on top is of the Eugene Saturday Market.  It is by Stuttermonkey and comes from Flickr via Wikipedia.  The second is of Westmoreland--which hasn't been torn down but is now part of the private sector.  The third is of the University of Oregon's Deady Hall, which hasn't been privatized yet.  I think that I might have taught freshman comp in that building.  

In any case, the poem below recaptures an different flavor: my first encounter with a 7-11 and a misspent summer playing Strat-o-matic basketball.  It was not all free verse and Puritan literature and Victorian novels and organic food and sugar-free blackberry muffins in Eugene!

Eugene Summer Games 1988

Neon soda
and berry slush buzzes
above the freezers
and refrigerators.

Bright lime greens,
lemon yellows, sweet oranges
 harden and congeal.
The air is sticky,
thick with sugar.

In the back, Ms. Pac-Man shivers.
No one loves her anymore.
Or at least not right now.
Ernie walks out
with Little Debbie
and a Big Gulp.

On a picnic table next to the Oregon grape
at Married Student Housing,
Game Six of the Strat-o-Matic World Series
is about to begin.

This poem was published in [Insert Coin Here], another of Kind of a Hurricane Press' anthologies.

Hard to believe but this poem was a response to one of Reuben Jackson's prompts at the Writer's Center.  He asked us to write a poem inspired by "Ernie's Tune," a piece by Dexter Gordon.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Happy Summer!!

And here is another summer poem, "Seaweed on the Beach," also from Of Sun and Sand.  I think that this is the one my father prefers as it is wholly about York Beach and it's shorter.

Seaweed on the Beach

Reds, greens, browns, and mustard yellow
add earthy undertones,
the taste of miso,
to the neons, the overexposed
blues and whites and yellows,
the painted plaques and t-shirts,
the stick candies and salt-water taffy
sold at the gift store.

The rusty Irish moss
on this beach
will not turn into
anemones or coral
or even amber sea glass.
Like the seagull accents
wheeling in the wind
past summer,
the moss remains.

Enjoy the pictures.  The picture above is an old time picture of York Beach.  BTW, my grandmother used to go up there, but the picture above predates her trips up there.  The pictures below are more contemporary.  One is of Long Sands, and you are able to see Nubble Road where my parents lived.  You can't see their house, though.  The one below is of Short Sands, the beach in the center of town.  

The waves at Long Sands are actually strong enough that you often see surfers there.  However, you see them in the winter, fall, or spring, not so much the summer.  Of course, they are wearing wet suits.  My brother, though, went into the water one Thanksgiving...without a wet suit!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Finishing Up The Semester

Yikes...this is my first post for May!

I am finishing up the semester, and summer is almost here, so let's include a summer poem.  Below is a picture of the beach in Greenland.  Not sure if it is near where my father was stationed.

Find Your Beach Where It Is


In Greenland,
children play past midnight
on a rocky beach
without sand or seaweed.

Nearby flowers and lichens appear,
brightly wearing down boulders.
Tourists’ tents bubble on sand
like orange and green fungi
on a fallen log.

They do not squander summer.


The children in New England
fling ribbons of brown seaweed
and streamers of green
back into the water.

Adults swaddled in
gift store cover-ups
avoid the Atlantic’s bite
and the seaweed that clings
to every wader’s legs.


 The young father and his sons
fish from the banks of the river
his grandfather once swam in.
It was clean.  It was decent.
He recalls from his wheelchair.

Sun sparkling on the water,
the green flourishing on the bank,
the white of new polo shirts,
hide dangers in the fish
that swim this river
the color of a great-grandfather’s memory.

This poem appeared in Kind of a Hurricane Press' anthology, Of Sun and Sand.  The picture below is of high summer at York Beach, Maine, where my parents used to live.

Enjoy this summer poem!  I think that it fits nicely with the previous poem I posted, "The River Always Captures Me."  :)