Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One More New Poem to Review

This one took a long time to work out in my head. It came about from a series of stories on NPR about the Godspot, a place in our temporal lobes where, if stimulated, can cause visions of god, angels, light and dark.

The God Spot
thanks to Barbara Bradley Hagerty

Touch me there. Reach your finger inside
my skull to feather
that spot on my temporal lobe.

In some kind of burning bush
hallucination, you might fire up
light and dark, even fire up angels,
or maybe, in my case,
demons running out of control.

Ancient mystics may have had the sacred
disease that brought visions, epileptic
brain seizures that bring God into sharp view.
If I had the sacred disease,
I might see angels
and not fear demons.

You just brush that spot
and, in an exclamation mark of emotion,
color bursts the sounds
and smells
and visions of God
or the Something Beyond our meager existence.

Maybe, in the beginning, we all had this god-spot.
Maybe most of us never
knew what was possible. And maybe

we are hard-wired to sense the Something Beyond,
the Supernatural, the
Eternal Now the mystics knew.

So if you can’t touch that spot in my skull,
touch me with your peyote in a mecca
of God, Muhammad, and Buddha.

Mystical experiences of meditation
shape sand dunes in my skull in two weeks,
and in two months you might see cities on a hill.
Touch me

somehow. I don’t care if God causes
the visions, or if the touch
causes God:

I want the burning bush
alive in my backyard,

the adagio in perfect D major,
popping off the top of my skull.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Poems for Comment

Hello all, I'd love some feedback (positive and negative) on some new poems. My brain still feels a little rusty and tired, but these are some beginnings.

Lord Stanley
for Jeff Kresge

Get me a hammer to knock
out these two loose teeth.
Took us three hours to shovel
the snow from the pond. I want
to play. Dougie’s stick smashed

my mouth into pulp of bloody teeth.
I missed only one line
shift, drowning the pain
with two Blues and cotton balls
stuffed into the cavities.

The Cup’s stories are not always
suitable for the youngsters,
as the gleaming silver has been left
in a brothel, for example, lost,
plunged to the depths of a pool.

That damn Cup, misspellings
and all, will someday stand
in Buffalo so I can die
happy, and my mother

can put away the photo
of the illegal goal in 1999, the photo
that shocks her awake every morning
like no coffee shot every could.

It’s different here in Buffalo, where boys
still slap sticks on frozen ponds,
the frozen Canadian wind blowing
hard and cold, and those boys
just skate faster.

Potato Musk

Earthy tangs of brown green
and yellow inspire

rooftops of strawberries
to grow in barrels.

Get your hands dirty
to hold off the rain

of darkness out there
into compost and peat.

All six growing stations
connect to your enemies:

wind and evaporation,
so let’s see what happens

in the back yard of yours,
when senses delight

in sun, water, soil.

You’re Really Nice, But
for Bonnie

Under the tan brick fa├žade,
maybe I am bitter. The recessed
display window
has a front tooth gap filled
with colored crepe paper.

The large banana hook
in the corner is broken
and tarantulas might still
lurk in that part of the store.

The candy case stayed
even filled with trays of licorice
and jars of bright colors
too bitter to eat.

And the candy sometimes
came with a spoon, for the fairy
food that melted in my
empty mouth.

Concrete Tablets

The dark-haired
girl sits on
the pavement

sipping iced
coffee while
her mother

makes new lists.
She holds white
chalk to write

her name Kate,
draws light blue
little girls

pink flowers
blooming gray
concrete stone.

Bay Sounds

Oh, that was cool.
No, but I’m going tonight.
Soft sneakers scratch sidewalks
and flip flops pop stick. The car

engine purrs. Go! shouts one
stomping along the sidewalk
after sticky brakes slow
at the corner.

Soft laughter from the next
table, from behind, from above.
Mom! His pencil scratches.
That’s there, mom. I don’t care.

Do you want anything to drink?
But it’s all tangy and nasty
and there’s the loud thud of full
plastic cup in the garbage.

Okay, bye, I’ll call you. Hello,
Dan! Who’s that? Oh man. Hi Ellen!

You look wonderful. They are in the same place
there. Slap, slide of flip flop sandpaper.
For the two weeks I’ll be at camp,

Absolutely not, no. But I’ll tell him.
I’m sure she’ll get a chuckle out of it.

Bass beat in the back of the truck.
That’s Sam, right there. I’m
off Friday.

Numbers Don't Lie

Crusty and He-Man,

Power numbers on the bike - now that I have a new, non-crushed power tap - suggest very interesting progress.

I won't share them because I don't want to make you nervous, but for a gimpy, one-armed old man, they are definitely promising.

I have just a couple of more weeks until I get out on the road. That leaves me July, August, and September to train. That should be enough to make you think twice...

How many more days until the cross season starts?

And should I buy you two rear-view mirrors for your bike so you can see me coming before I pass you?

And yes, I'll knock either of you over with my surgically repaired shoulder if you try to get in my way...

Sunday, June 7, 2009


It is June, isn't it?

Funny how in September through December, I crave the cold and miserable weather. I can find something inside to forget about the lack of body fat and my chattering teeth and ride the cross bike.

But in June, it's prety damn hard to put on a heavy coat. Forty degrees in September can feel ridiculously cold, while 40 degrees in February feels like a heat wave.

Once again, it's all about perspective.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

We'll Try This Again

I already wrote one entry today about my visit to Dr. Grindel. It was a frustrated angry screed about the driver of the truck.

But I got a text from a friend who I'm visiting this weekend about perspective. So I took down the post and writing this instead. I kept the screed as a reminder of a bottom point. But now I'm okay.

Here's the news: Grindel said I need to wear the sling with a cushion for another four weeks.

In another eight weeks, so three months from today in September, I can start full on strength training.

In the coming four weeks, I should take the sling off often during the day to stretch and move the shoulder. I should do several passive movments to stretch including putting my arm on a kitchen counter and moving my body away from it to relax it.

In the following two months, I can do more therapy and begin to put my hand on my bike handlebars inside on the trainer.

The planned July 5 "comeback" race in Eau Claire at the Firecracker mountain bike race is off for me. Grindel said, "no, no way."

"That's a serious no way?"

"No way."

Alright then.

He did show me some of the radiology of the operation. I didn't understand any of it, but saw what a rotator cuff shouldn't look like (it was all frayed like a disintegrating rope); a dissolvable half hook thing that looks like a curtain holder, used to hold other tissue in the labrum (the cartilage around your shoulder) together.

He also showed me the tunnels he dug with a "crochet needle" into which he sutured the bone back into place.

So now I'm left with an uncertain summer. I'm working part-time for Crankdaddy's, which will be awesome. I'm writing poetry and a book proposal and article about teaching. I'll continue to train and do therapy as hard and often as I can. And finally I'll do some traveling about the state, particularly up to Eau Claire and my parents' cabin.

I knew there would be rough moments in the recovery. And this was certainly the worst so far.

My potential comebacks are now:
Aug. 2 Crystal Ridge mountain bike race
Aug. 9 state time trial
Aug. 16 River Falls mountain bike race
Aug. 30 Suamico mountain bike race

But now I'm off to see Kim the wonderful physical therapist.

Bike Spaz

Mike "Bike Genius, My Wife Inc Cross Team Manager" He-Man must just laugh at me sometimes. Maybe a lot of times.

His current source of amusement is my choice of cyclocross bike or bikes. I currently have a Redline that is a good bike, but since it's been used for winter riding, it's kind of beat up. I want to keep that as a winter ride and trainer bike.

I also have an Orbea cross bike that I bought last summer. I rode it for three training rides, then four races before breaking my collarbone! It's a good bike, but doesn't fit me very well, so I'm selling that off.

Now the choice is up in the air. Since Mike rides a Moots Psychol-x, I wanted one too! So we had that all ready to order.

Hold the phone. Now Mike is obsessing about Spooky bikes, very cool in the cross community. So I checked the Spooky website, loved the bikes, but saw that their largest is a 56 top tube. Since I usually have a 58 or 59 tt, we figured it was too small.

So I checked out the Blue cross bike since Crankdaddy's sells that brand too.

This morning, I talked with Mickey, bike designed and builder at Spooky. He said his 56s work with guys so now that's back on the table.

I'd love to have two identical cross bikes. That's totally a "want," not a "need." For cross, it's nice to have a pit bike so if your race bike has a mechanical or gets really muddy, you have a spare to ride.

My Redline would work well as a pit bike. And if I buy the Moots, that would likely be the pit bike, unless I could buy a Blue at a reasonable price. Two Spooky cross bikes sounds much cooler. Or maybe two Blue carbons?

Regardless, all the cross bikes are going to have SRAM Force as components with TRP magnesium brakes, and the funky oblong cranks that I can never remember. Basically, the set up is exactly what Mike rides!

So he shouldn't get too bent out of shape about my indecision since I'm trying to be as cool and pro as him. I hope that doesn't sound sarcastic because it's not. He's forgotten more about bikes than I will ever know so it makes sense to let him spend my money.

And while he may know more than I about bikes, I'll still beat him in cross. Maybe not this year, but definitely next year!

Bring it!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Shoulder Surgery, Teaching, and a New Ride

After with Dr. Grindel's nurse and my PT extraordinaire Kim, I understand a little more about the surgery. First Grindel's children, if he has them, did not sneak into surgery to draw on my shoulder in purple marker. He draws out the bone structure to aid in surgery.

He went in arthroscopically through the front of the shoulder. When he discovered rotator cuff damage, he opened the side up to repair the greater tuberosity fracture by suturing the bone piece back in.

Then to repair the labrum, the cartilage around the arm bone, he put an anchor into the bone and sutured the labrum (I think) into place.

That still makes no sense to me, but to Chris Hougen and others who read this, they may understand. Bottom line: it will still take a long time to heal, and I can't move it this week or next.

Secondly, I'm grateful this year my school district doesn't do merit pay. I'm grading the final assessments in reading and writing skills, stuff we've literally practiced all year long. The grades are ugly, man. I'm depressed. Clearly I have a large stake in that failure. And while I'm sure the kids did learn some things this year, they weren't able to demonstrate it in a fairly straightforward, non high-stakes assessment.

I, though, did learn a lot, and I plan to work hard this summer to put it all into place so the kids next year learn this material - essentially writing and reading skills - much better.

Finally, to ease my troubled mind tonight, Mike He-man called to let me know the mountain bike is in.