Tuesday, March 21, 2023

'please' should not be needed


In the search for happiness is it enough to have stuff in your bowl, or to help those with empty bowls

Many streets pass over culverts where we have no clue they run underneath, yet that water is critical to our lives, with or without an empty bowl
While Franklin is considered an idyllic community, it is not immune from food insecurity; almost 10 percent of our neighbors regularly face an empty bowl

If all you have is a hammer, there should be only a few circumstances where that hammer can positively help someone with an empty bowl

The new building campaign will not about the building; it will be about how the Pantry will be able use the space the building provides to help those with empty bowls

Our neighbors stories are many, varied, and deeply personal; we need to be respectful when helping someone with an empty bowl


The UN has an internet vocabulary game that for every correct answer they help to provide grains of rice to someone with an empty bowl

FHS students have worked diligently, crafting ceramic bowls in various shapes, colors, and designs as a reminder of those with empty bowls

The student led Empty Bowl dinner gets folks together for soup and conversation to help create the awareness of those with empty bowls

The ceramics crafted for the silent auction are truly works of art, some practical, some glorious, all reminding us to help those with an empty bowl

Indigenous languages had no equivalent for "please", food was meant to be shared, it was a cultural given that one was treated respectfully when one had an empty bowl

Recovering from the pandemic will take time, many folks may have been shocked to find out how close they were to facing an empty bowl 

In reeling from the shock, the hope is that folks will recognize how easy it is, that they too, can help someone with an empty bowl

For Brenna Johnson and the FHS Empty Bowls Club

Monday, March 20, 2023

This branch


Cluster of kids playing, around the front yard tree, taking turns, trying to climb a low branch, failing to clamber successfully to the next branch

Green stems protrude tentatively? from the cold, brown earth; it is spring yet? or it this new weather an experience, a budding branch

The student theater group had set times within which to set the stage, to perform, and then to clear their set, props and all, to enable the judicial branch

Heated greenhouse served as the classroom for seed lessons, amidst the seedlings, beginning their own journey into the world food branch

Completed reading the collected works of my namesake, his perception and logic astounds some to this day, in awe of his prowess in the detective branch

Perhaps some of the family recipes passed down through the ages were really developed as means of survival to make the most of the food available to that branch


I cleared a vine or two that had tangled themselves between the trees, it would have more caused damage if I hadn't clipped that branch 

Soccer is the beautiful game, even more beautiful when the team can move with, and play with the triangles, passing to the open branch

The grill flames blew out twice while cooking, the wind blustering with such force, the grill relit quickly, enough heat had built under the branch

Odd how the last time we had been to the restaurant had been for my aunts birthday, then we hear that she has passed, only two sisters left of mother's branch

We should be more careful with whatever we're talking about when little ones are around, they do listen, remarkably they will repeat what we have said about the branch

Density and affordable housing are incompatible pairs, they are good enough for them to be elsewhere, as long as they do not get built on this branch

On the first day of spring, all the major papers have dire headlines, significant action is required, or climate change will make life a real challenge on this branch

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Advice from the corner


I bought a new basketball when I retired, planning to be ready to shoot some hoops, yet it sits in its the box in the corner

Neighborhood natives will give you directions to go down a ways, and turn 'where such and such used to be' on the corner

You can save time cleaning by doing the visible spots first, if it seems to pass the white glove test, inspectors may not check in the corner 

I'll drink any beer the first time, after that, only the really good ones make it to the shopping cart, the rest will remain in the corner

MA needs more housing, especially that which is affordable, yet there are those that won't approve building something down on the corner

Plan, share the plan, talk about the plan, adjust the plan, many minds will do better planning together, otherwise you can end up in the corner


You can get a book through the Minuteman library network, easy peasy, just like it was on the shelf, at your library, on the corner

He sang the song, as if he owned it, but finding out that his wife actually wrote the lyrics to the song blew me off the corner

The webinar shared insights on listening trends, some broken down by age group, some made sense, some could have stayed in the corner

She is such a breath of fresh air, yet some powerful men despise her so much, they work hard to keep her in the corner

The agenda was to plan for the event, which they found out as the meeting started couldn't happen, someone was not able to come out of their corner

There is a relationship between a thing, and the word for the thing, otherwise the concept would need to remain in the corner

Those in the know need to share what they know, or folks will fill the void with anything else, forcing those in the know to dig out of the corner

Friday, March 03, 2023

The face of my father


He would come home from work, lunch bucket, and newspaper tucked under his arm, and sink one-handed free throws endlessly; I have not forgotten the face of my father

He would only need to threaten us kids with the belt, and when he'd yell "Not one more peep out of you" one of us said "peep". I have not forgotten the face of my father

He played Cribbage during lunch time with his office buddies, when someone got a 29 hand, they'd tape it to the wall, and crack open a new deck of cards. I have not forgotten the face of my father

He was a cost accountant at the Washburn Wire mill, a steelworker union organizer, and for a long time, president of his local union. I have not forgotten the face of my father

He had worked as a roofer and helped weld leaks in the city hall tower during the winter before getting into office work at Washburn. I have not forgotten the face of my father

He served in the 4th Marines, seeing action on Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima. He always said he was lucky to return and finally left us quietly on February 19, yes, 67 years to the day that he had landed on Iwo. I have not forgotten the face of my father


He was the middle child of 9, although he found out when his brother researched the family genealogy, that it was really 10; "They only counted the live ones". I have not forgotten the face of my father

He met, fell in love, and married Rita, in the time after WW II, and eventually reconciled with her parents even though they did not attend her wedding.  I have not forgotten the face of my father

He was not French, Rita's father felt it was beneath his daughter to marry an Irishman, so he took the family out of town come wedding day. I have not forgotten the face of my father

He folded out the living room sleep sofa nightly; that was their bedroom for 20+ years while raising 6 kids in a 2 bedroom 5 room 1st floor of a triple decker.  I have not forgotten the face of my father

He would have us gather our shoes to be shined while watching TV Saturday night, while we took our turns through the bathroom, well organized chaos, I have not forgotten the face of my father

He became well respected by Pepe for his ability to maintain a serious, and civil discourse, especially when some of the in-laws couldn't.  I have not forgotten the face of my father

He and Mom had got back into good graces with Pepe after the first grandchild came along. That was me. Now I understand it was my calling to bring people together. I will not forget the face of my father

for Gerald Sherlock

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Elephant corral


Sitar sounds & rhythmic drumming prepare the way for 
words of Rumi and my thoughts to run

Back in the day of simple street names, park, north park, 
the stream was put into a culvert and allowed to run

The power substation is setback from the houses, utility poles, 
and towers hold the lines up high for the electricity to run

The ballfields are not far from the combo basketball & hockey court 
near the playground where the kiddos are able to safely run

Green dots mark the progress of cleaning the catch basins 
to ensure the storm water can freely run

Brick chimney on one side of the roof peak, newer galvanized 
pipe on the other, allows the exhaust to run


The sign tells folks to "be the reason for someone to smile today", 
you make me smile everyday I get up to run

Walking along the gutter, or taking a shower, both times 
create the space to allow my thoughts to run

I resist the urge to fix their mailbox which was clearly smashed 
by someone with a baseball bat on the run

Until we corral the unspoken elephant in the room, 
multiple cries for overdue justice will continue to run

Trouble is, will the corral be big enough, the cries for justice tend 
to be drowned out by the truthsplaining ads that run

We must take action to corral the elephants, shout through the ads, 
restore justice and order by catching those on the run

Searches return what has been asked for, that is what they are designed to do, hence the context, and the text strings used, are key for proper results to run

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Valentine's Day 2023


Writing is a challenge, you need to capture that thought, before 
something else comes along and the idea runs

The Town doesn't own the bridge, the T does, because 
the train to Boston underneath it runs

The natural depression forms a grassy bowl among 
the houses to collect the storm water when it runs

The sprawling red brick mill complex is as important to this 
area as the tangled wooded vines along the stream that runs

The yellow rectangle on the utility pole is meant to guide 
your drive along the safe side of the road that runs

A walk among the streets, and byways of this town, helps put 
my thoughts together to say how long my love for you runs


For breakfast, a once-over-easy egg is my favorite, the 
whites get solid, yet the yolk is allowed to run

Sisters of St Mary taught me in elementary school and in 
high school, Christian Brothers guided me to run 

A minor defect in my foot has me now walking 
many more miles daily than I used to run

You can see the light of the approaching train before 
the whistle blows alerting all that it is making a run

My joy rises as the red-tailed hawk follows the updraft
it too is searching for food to run

In the warmth of today's bright sun, you walk 
my side, while our shadows together run 

For DS

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Ghazal: rough sleepers

I learned to consider both the upstream and downstream work as part of the process to understand what was being done in front of me

During my commute to Boston, de-training at South Station, walking into the Financial District, I found the rough sleepers in front of me

What approach does one take to write a poem to send to Europa, is their water like the tap water in front of me?

A melody can transport me back in time to a place, a point, usually significant for what was happening in front of me

The sounds of the street, traffic, voices, a symphony of life, even if a hard life, always for the rough sleepers in front of me

What will Europa make of the poem which will come to it, or will it be treated like the rough sleepers in front of me 

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Ghazal: trial balloon

The heat seemed to stop on what was the coldest 
day of the year, or ever, who's counting, 
And how do we figure out this human interface 

The thermostat has only 2 wires, White 1 and Red heat, to
Complete the circuit, yet the battery wasn't charging 
It should have be easy to make sense of the human interface

In the old days, you put logs on the fire and as the logs 
burned down, you added more, later it was coal, or gas, 
or oil, the flickering flame provided the human interface

The Nest has its own mind, located somewhere up in the cloud, 
the workers remote, diligent, but unreachable in this new 
hybrid world with a cryptic human interface 

The simpler device comes back from storage, gets wired,
Time set again, and programed for generating heat while
Suspicious minds work out the human interface 

Turns out the balloon has flown before, a few times, with
many not knowing of it; this time, it came down with a shot
We need to take back the human interface 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Ghazal: is it live?

Don't say AI, say what it really is; artificial intelligence. 

yes artificial for sure, not really sure if it is 

intelligent yet. Is it live or is it Memorex 

Yet another shiny object catches attention, draws 

the media talking heads briefly and all too superficially 

discuss the latest. Is it live or is it Memorex

The daily writing or reflection time can center oneself 

in comfort and solitude, can allow for putting things 

into perspective  Is it live or is it Memorex

AI is an algorithm based upon data, the data set could be

Good to use or worthless depending upon what the data 

is trying to anticipate Is it live or is it Memorex

One talented individual with a high vocal range

Can hit the proper note, the proper pitch

To shatter fragile glass and ask is it live or is it Memorex

Kenyan proverb, the sun will rise tomorrow, simple in what 

It says and just as important in what it doesn’t say; 

Will we see the sun rise tomorrow? Is it live or is it Memorex

Monday, January 23, 2023

Ghazal: Thoreau's chairs

Part 1

Rectangular tables are an efficient use 
for maximizing space within the room where 
there can only be so many chairs

Why is it that sitting alone is the hardest
Thing to do, solitude can be so beneficial 
when there is only one chair

Round tables use more space, yet no matter 
where you sit, you are on the same level
With the person in the next chair

At the breakfast table, I go fetch my phone
Because you asked for my schedule which 
we review when I sit back in my chair

The conversation will go around and round
The square meal when the whole family
Sits together in each their own chair

Take a walk to Henry's place, he will
Welcome your visit, and he will bring out 
for you to sit on, one of his chairs

Part 2

Without tone or body language it is
Just the words that are shared with the app
That you use while sitting in your chair

Emojis and photos are added to provide the
Thousand words left out inconveniently
By you sitting impatiently in your chair

The party game is now online, of course,
And when the music stops, who is the one
Left out when they don't find a chair

The rain continues after dark as the storm 
forecast comes true, water runs down the gutter
Filling the background while I sit writing in my chair 

I ponder at what age will the youth need a smart device
to get by in this digital world while you 
increase your device time sitting in your chair

What is more authentic, the auto-generated chat
Text, or me reaching across the table, to hold your hand
While I sit patiently in my chair

Sunday, January 08, 2023

Ghazal: street people

He walks with a swaying gait leaning

Forward, occasionally stopping to

Pick up a coin from the concrete sidewalk 

Coins used to be good currency 

For vending machines and toll booths; now

They seem to be tossed to the sidewalk 

What will become of 'Dropping a dime' 

When there are no functioning phone booths 

At the corner stores or along the sidewalk 

I considered it a lucky day when I would  

Find a penny, or a quarter, now it seems I can 

Hit a jackpot of coins along the sidewalk

Spending has become a plastic swipe

Coins will jingle only in pockets of the people 

Who pickup the coins from the sidewalks

What will become of the city street people

Who would ask for spare change as they

Mingled at the corner stores on the sidewalk

Ghazal: both sides now

Immigrants found themselves in the cold outside 
the Vice President's home on Christmas Eve; a cruel joke to
Bring the adjacent possible to both sides now

Providing inclusionary zoning or delving into zoning details
To create the right amount of affordable housing may
Bring the adjacent possible to both sides now

Not too many years ago the church had standing
Room at most Christmas services, this time plenty of space to
Bring the adjacent possible to both sides now

Indicator lights create a glow in the dark room
Light enough not to flip the switch to navigate and 
Bring the adjacent possible to both sides now

The holiday gathering was joyous for those present 
Those absent were missed in more than one way to
Bring the adjacent possible to both sides now

The two year old enjoys endless presents on 
Christmas day, sweet dreams are made of those to
Bring the adjacent possible to both sides now

Part 2

My father and his friend Jonesy were assigned
To check that the caves on Tinian were clear, that task
Brought the adjacent possible to both sides now

Why does someone need a board game to bring about a
Conversation across multiple generations; doesn't life itself
Bring the adjacent possible to both sides now

When she turns on the TV, I change rooms to 
Continue reading, or writing, a slow dance to
Bring the adjacent possible to both sides now

I wonder who the mysterious folks are who walk 
so that the area rug moves to a new spot
Bringing the adjacent possible to both sides now

Frustration grows when you tell me something 
that I already know, maybe because that won't help
Bring the adjacent possible to both sides now

Ah, the realization is that she is not happy unless
I am always working on what she wants
Brings the adjacent possible to both sides now

Monday, January 02, 2023

Ghazal: 3 words for 2023

I traveled 300 miles to bend over, cup my hands for snow crusted

at the driveway edge making the first snowball

of the season, cold and full of life

A straightened wire clothes hanger, same as my father taught me 

to use to fish something from a hard place, was lying 

on the edge of their driveway, cold and full of life

You can despair when the band of clouds hides what could be 

a glorious sunset, or turn and look the other way to see 

a white orb in the distance, cold and full of life

Just out of reach of the tree branches the white orb flies, 

an almost orb at same time, whole yet not completely 

revealed in this light, cold and full of life

I filled the 3 bird feeders, emptying 40 lbs of mixed seeds 

to nourish those winged ones in what's left 

of the light of this day, cold and full of life

SHARE, LEVERAGE, & EXPAND reveal themselves 

as my three guiding words for this new year providing nourishment

for this day which otherwise is cold and full of life


picking up something I had dropped after 2015

Find the rationale behind the three words 

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

sherku: 2 sides

Pine needles
Soften the forest floor
Or a pain
To pick up
At Christmas time


Snow falls so gently
Or listen
To the grunts
And curses 
Of the shovelers


Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Inventory: updated Dec 7, 2022

Four be the things I am wiser to know:

Love, patience, process flow, 

and the joy of snow

Four be the things I'd be better without:

Anger, impatience, jealousy, 

and clothing inside out

Three be the things I shall never attain:

Perfection, completion, 

and the last word on any train


Three be the things I shall have till I die:

Bruises, scars, 

and hope for the sky

In response to the writing prompt for the Franklin Senior Center in December 2022. Akin to Dorothy Parker's "Inventory" https://poets.org/poem/inventory

You can listen to the monthly Writer's Group podcast  https://senior-scribblers.captivate.fm

You can also join us in person at the Franklin Senior Center each Wednesday at 1 PM, except for the last Wednesday each month, we meet at the Franklin TV & Radio studio to record.