I Miss You

Royalty free image from Bing

Royalty free image from Bing

I miss you. I miss your colors, sights, smells and sounds, your breath and lively energy.  Even your grittiness, those dark places that were avoided, added depth and meaning to my stay there.  I was advised, don’t wear your fine jewelry on the subway, at least where it can be seen…you’re setting yourself up to be robbed.  Once, a desperate, gun-wielding madman invaded our restaurant on Mass Ave. and demanded money.  While everyone else froze, my husband was the only one with the presence of mind to follow his orders.  My friends told stories of being mugged in your dank, piss-smelling alleys but somehow you always held me safely among your teeming citizens, your seasons, your unrest or calm.

delicate petals
emerge from unlikely
source, contrast sings

Bjorn is our host for Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets.  The pub opens Monday at 3PM EST.    Read his presentation for all the details and join us.

MBTA; a Haibun

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) got me where I needed to go for most of my transportation needs in the city and beyond. I worked on Massachusetts Avenue and our building was right over South Station (if I remember the station correctly) so I just had to walk downstairs to catch a train back home to Dorchester’s Shawmut Station where I walked the few short blocks home  to Kenwood Street.  Sometimes though I would ride the red line on down (or was it up) to Harvard Square and meet up with my husband who worked there and we would grab dinner and maybe a movie before heading home.

Riding the trains was a very new and convenient experience for me when we moved to the Boston area; back home in Florida you relied heavily on cars to get anywhere. The trains seemed to really barrel along at times and the squealing of the brakes was loud…this was back in the 70s.  Maybe the trains are quieter these days.  It wasn’t unusual for us to have to stop and wait on the tracks and for the lights to go out too.  At times we were packed like sardines, standing room only, and other times you practically had a car to yourself.  I saw some interesting characters down on those train platforms.  The most infamous was when a group of us were approached by an impaired man wielding a knife and bragging that he had killed someone with it.  Somehow we managed to move away from him unscathed.  At some of the stations you could find quite high quality talent of people trying to make a buck.  That was another thing I loved about the area, the street performers, up and down Mass Avenue and throughout the city.

underground the dragon roars
speeding her cargo onward
summer moon shines high

Bjorn prompts us on trains for Poetics at dVerse Poets.

You Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up–An Anecdote

This was deep winter in Boston
and I was on my way to the
head ashram down the street
and around the corner for sadhana.

Walking briskly through the just-before-dawn
snow covered streets, my head was down
watching my steps.  I gripped my
coat tighter around me against the biting wind.

I was on my own this morning…running behind.

I didn’t want to be late.
I didn’t want to slip on the ice.

Enormous, dirty
hills of snow lined my path
the entire way…so I took
to the middle of the street
which was clear.

No traffic had to be avoided

Lifting my head, my gaze
fell on an outline ahead in a
snow bank to the left.
I couldn’t quite make it
out but as I quickly
approached closer, yes
I see it clearly, a figure
stretched out on his back
is he injured…sick?

I’m now almost in
line with the supine
man who is now
staggering to his
feet and mumbling
something at me.

There’s no mistaking,
he is completely naked!

Quickening my pace,
I rush past him as he’s
still attempting to get
to his feet.  (He’s moving
in complete slow motion.)

One last glance back before
I round the corner, I see
him standing in the
middle of the road
staring after me.

Kelvin explains the Anecdote to us at dVerse Poets:  http://dversepoets.com/2013/04/06/poetics-the-anecdote/

Boston’s Buskers

A couple of months ago, or so, the members of dVerse Poet’s Pub were invited to submit poems to Nain Rouge a start-up “e-zine” publication showcasing urban life.  This invitation came during the celebration of our first year anniversary.  Any portrayal of city life was the assignment.

When I first read of the invitation for submitting poems, my mind immediately went to my time of living in Boston, MA.  I spent a few years there with my husband and two daughters when we all were quite young.  It was a great city to explore and very easy to navigate with the subway and bus systems.

My favorite part of living there was the entertainment that showed up literally at my feet as I walked throughout the city.  The street performers were so much fun…and what talent!  You could hear classical music being played on the subway platform while waiting for a train.  Or, hear a story being told by Brother Blue, the outlandishly dressed and lovable character created by Hugh Hill, Ph.D., a Harvard graduate who also served in World War II. ..and much, much more.

My idea came in an instant to write about the amazing talent of the street performers (buskers) who added so much enjoyment to my stay in that part of the country.

It was a total lark that I decided to enter my poem…what could it hurt…and I took maybe a couple of weeks of working on it before I sent it in.  So imagine my total, stunned disbelief when I was contacted by editor, Mark Durfee, where he announced that I had been chosen “The Editor’s Choice” for a special placement in the magazine.  Me?  It still hasn’t sunk in quite yet but I am so honored and very pleased to have achieved such status.

I really enjoyed the first issue of the magazine…a wonderful and very entertaining variety of writings.  I waited until the publication came out to post my poem.  Enjoy!

Here is the link to the first publication of Nain Rouge out today:  http://www.whitecatpublications.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/NAIN-ROUGE-September-10th-2012.pdf

Google Images:   Brother Blue

Pedestrians gather
around a pavement stage,
a sidewalk garnered for a
busker’s play.

Strolling through Cambridge
in bustling Boston, a juggler’s
antics grab your attention.

Colorful garb and witty barbs
bring cheers from the crowd,
and deep, thankful bows.

Heading across the Charles River
on towards Harvard Square,
the sidewalk may offer up clowns
or mimes, comics or dancers,
a magical act or be-bop singers.

Here too you may have seen
Brother Blue…regaling those
gathered with storytelling hues…
his presence huge.  Wearing bright,
crazy (blue) costumes, painted,
animated face…drawing
you in with his wit and truth–
wisdom expounded like a
philosophy sage.

Following flights of stairs below,
the city regards a rare, melodic delivery;
the subway pace slowing for a moment.

Guitar case bared for any tossed
bills or change, we’re engaged
with an elegant interval…a Berklee
student picks out his chords.
Another act–drawing in
several waiting–a man sings
while strumming a mandolin…classy
execution to be found in this place.

The performers of Faneuil Hall
(and Quincy Market)
have their pitches
protected, free to capture
disparate niches.

Enchanting visitors with
expertise and grace, their
infectious exhibitions
delivered with taste.

Throughout the metro
setting is found
entertainment extraordinaire
of variety and renown.

Sometimes gritty,
sometimes sweetly
refined…these performers
enhance our endless, grey streets…
a busker’s heart adds soul to the city.


Bing Images:  Street Performer, Quincy Market

First published; Nain Rouge 2012

Brian Miller hosts tonight at dVerse Poets.    Happy to share at Open Link Night again after being out of town for a week:  http://dversepoets.com/2012/09/11/openlinknight-week-61-911/

Free! Take One

While living in Boston, MA we were out one day with the girls and happened to pass this empty newspaper holder.  It said “Free! Take One” on the bottom.  It seemed the perfect size, so we popped Mahan in and took a photo.  She was delighted and looked so cute in there.  We’ve gotten a lot of chuckles from this one.

Photo by Gayle Walters Rose; All Rights Reserved

The Crashing Down the Mountain Story

While attending “ladies’ camp” in Espanola, New Mexico one summer, it was decided that we would all take a drive up a nearby mountain, have a picnic and enjoy the warm, summer day.  An old school bus had been chartered to take us up but I somehow missed the bus that morning and ended up riding with a couple of other women in a pick-up truck driven by one of the hired hands at the camp.

We enjoyed our relaxing and uneventful afternoon and when it was time to return, one of the women approached me and asked if I would mind taking her place on the bus so she could ride back down in the truck (I think she had a crush on the cute truck driver).  No, I didn’t mind; so I boarded the bus and we began the hour-plus trip to camp on the tightly twisting, mountain road.  I took a seat at the rear of the bus and shortly after we got started, a friend and I heard a car’s horn blasting persistently.  We turned around to look out the back window and the people in the car behind us were frantically trying to get our attention.  It was then we saw the smoke–and at that same moment we realized something was terribly wrong.  The brakes had gone out!

When we realized our predicament of terror–we grabbed hands, clutching at each other and started praying and chanting out loud to God and guru.  I remember briefly thinking–is this the way I’m going to die?  In looking back, though, I’m amazed at the calmness that came over me at that moment.

We quickly gained speed as we lost all ability to slow down, and as we hit bumps and dips in the pavement were being violently jostled and bounced.  Our driver was actually thrown out of her seat twice (and managed to get back into it) as she bravely maneuvered the bus, repeatedly “scraping” the out-of-control vehicle along the face of the mountain in an attempt to slow us.  There were areas along one side of the road where cliffs fell steeply into ravines and she was trying to avoid us going over them.  She had her one year old baby on the trip with us that day and I’m sure that that had something to do with her valiant efforts to bring us to safety.

The driver’s attempts finally paid off as we came to a tumbling halt, the elderly bus heaving one last time as we flipped over, landed upside down and skidded off the side of the road.

Help arrived in minutes and several of us were driven in a police squad car to the nearest hospital to be checked out.  I had suffered a bloody cut on my foot which required a tetanus shot and had sprained my neck as I landed on it sideways.  I had to wear a neck brace for several weeks while it healed.  One of the baby’s arms was broken but no one was seriously injured.

Upon returning home to Massachusetts I suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.  I felt a real sense of loss of control while riding in vehicles that I perceived as going too fast, especially if we “bumped” at any point.  I would become aware of my right foot pressing deeply into the floorboard, unconsciously trying to slow us.  Riding on the subway could also induce panic as it sometimes felt we were blasting along at excessive, out-of-control speeds.  I became one, big “white knuckle”.  The fear has lessened over the years but can still rear its head at times, instantly returning me to that day on the mountain.

Safety Precautions

When I lived in Boston, during my ashram days in the 70s, I started carrying a police whistle and a small billy club with me.  While walking alone from my house to the main ashram (which was about two blocks away and around the corner) for our morning yoga and meditation sadhana, I had had a frightening experience.

It was very early, before dawn, and the streetlights were still lit.  There had been several inches of snowfall recently which the snowplows had piled neatly on either side of the road.  Apparently, everyone else from my house had already walked over, so I was on my own that morning.  So I’m walking along in the cleared street and ahead of me to my left, lying in a snow bank, I see a figure–this figure is a man–this figure has his pants down around his ankles, this figure is naked!!!.  As I approached him, (now at a much quickened pace) he spotted me and began getting to his feet and muttered something unintelligible; I started running and as I passed him, he staggered toward me (very slowly) and as I continued to run, all the while looking over my left shoulder to keep an eye on him, he stood in the middle of the road and just stared after me as I disappeared around the corner.  Whew!

I never did have to blow my whistle or bop anyone with my club but I did feel safer having them with me just in case.

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