SKIN DEEP DIVE

Studying the dictionary,
Johnny Corkforbrains
Got stuck up at the top one day
Then down his knowledge rained:

“Avocado, alligator …
skins not not the same …
and an A resides
at the start of both your names!

The gator grows in swamps,
The ‘cado grows on trees,
But trees are FOUND in swamps …
How different can you be?

How leathery you feel,
How deep dark green you look,
Like pictures of each other
That I have seen in books.

Of course in person, no,
I’ve never met your kinds,
But don’t see how not doing so
Could put my views behind?

The chance you’re NOT related
To me seems mighty small,
No two such similar dermises
Could not be connected at all.

For further proof, consider:
The gator’s alias, ‘Croc’,
Which just so happens sounds just like
The ‘cado’s alt-name, ‘Guac’.

If you must, pretend they’re not the same:
Avocado, alligator.
But trust me there’ll be evidence:
Birth certificates released later.”

Advertisements

JOINED CHIEFS

Pow saw Wow

across the street

Pow and Wow

exchanged greets

Pow approached Wow,

“Rest our feet?”

Pow and Wow agreed:

that couldn’t be beat.

Pow and Wow

got out of the heat

Pow and Wow

found a seat

Pow and Wow

were loud and discreet as

Pow and Wow’s

talk roamed like a fleet.

Pow and Wow’s

chat got so neat that

Pow and Wow

decided to delete

Any words between them,

and that’s how

a close meeting of the minds

became called a powwow.

WINTORY LAP

On the shortest day of the year
The sun takes an extra long lunch,
So long it doesn’t end until
Almost the next day’s brunch.

Head lights and night lights get lots of action
The day of the year that’s shortest.
While that day more than any other is for
golf clubs and lawn mowers the boredest.

It seems like it should be relaxing and yet
There’s always so much around you,
On the year’s shortest day, falling as it does,
Right about when the holidays do.

Still songs like “Oh, What a Night” or “Thank
the Lord for the Nighttime” spread cheer,
Of how happy folks get after early sunset
On the shortest day of the year.

shortest_edit

Among everything else it is, the shortest day of the year is half a calendar away from its cousin the longest day of the year.

THE RIGHT STUFFING

Perhaps the best meal of the year
comes weeks after Turkey Day.
It’s a nest built from all the trimmings
That have not yet by then flown away.

Start with any bits of gobbler left
Toss them in a bowl,
Add a scoop of stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes,
Whatever you’ve got … it’s all gold.

If you still have it, stir in gravy,
Then pour it all in a crust.
Cinch the dough, bake on high, that’s it.
No other meal prep takes less fuss!

It’s the yummiest food recycling
That’s plain easy to get right,
So try Thanksgiving Pie:
Send that old crusty bird back in flight.

THE BOOT FLEECE POLICE

Mom got new rain boots
Red, rubber, and tall.
Dad asked, “How’d you choose those?”
Mom said, “They’re cool. That’s all.”

Now my Mom’s no liar
But I thought, nonetheless,
Let’s take those cool boots
And put’em to the test.

So when she was too busy
To stop my experiment
I took some cold milk
And into her boots it went.

Like a good scientist
I let my test tube be
And went off to play
For an hour or three.

Perhaps it was longer
I lost track when Mom screamed,
The unexpected milk
In her boot had her steamed.

I said, “Wait one sec, Mom,
Take a breath, cool down.
Allow me to measure that
Milk puddle on the ground.”

Once I had I said, “Mom,
I’d be angry too!
This spilled milk is warm.
So those boots? Not so cool.”

The thing that they sold you
Is not what you bought.
It seems in some faux-thermo-boot-scam you’re caught!”

Overcome with shock
Or maybe with grief
Like anyone who’s been
Taken by a thief

She said not a word but just looked at me,
And I wondered perhaps if deep down she felt glee
At her little scientist’s new discovery.
Yes, I thought to myself, pride must be what I see.

MOON TAKER

As they headed home from Nana’s house
late one clear, dark night,
Fred said to his Mom and Dad,
“See the moon there,
big and bright?

Could I pretty please this once
take it home with me?”
“Why, Fred,” his mother said,
“that idea sure is…….
lovely.

“And maybe you could,” she said,
“But how will you reach and get the moon?”
“How I get the kickball from the garage top shelf,”
Fred said,
“by knocking it down with the broom.”

“That sounds good,” said Fred’s Dad,
“but how’ll you catch it when it falls?”
“Easy,” said Fred,
“in Baby Jane’s old crib
where we keep all her dolls.”

“And just where would you keep the Moon,” Dad asked,
“once we got it to our place?”
“No problem,” Fred said,
“I’ll clear out my big wagon,
the red one, to make some space.

Then I can drive the moon around,
and show him our whole street.
The way he’s movin’ above the trees,
makes me think
he thinks seein’ stuff is neat.”

“Well that’s just it,” Fred’s Dad said
as their house came into sight.
“Here we are, back from Nana’s,
and the moon’s still with us,
big and bright.

That makes me think the moon loves traveling
just like you have guessed.”
“So, maybe,” Fred’s Mom said,
“leaving him to roam the sky
would be best.

And the next night that we’re out like this
and see the moon again,
I’ll bet he’ll hang out with us some more,
to prove, once more,
we’re friends.”

Fred gazed up at the sky and thought
about what his Mom and Dad had said.
“Yes, maybe you’re right,” he told them,
“I’m tired.
And the moon doesn’t quite look ready for bed.”

moon_edit

CLOVERDEALED

So you found a 4-leaf clover.

Well, I hunt bigger things:

Like five and six leaf clovers

And the extra luck they bring.

And the highly coveted clover

With leaves that number seven,

Legend says those who find one

Will go straight to heaven.

The eight leaf clover doubles up

What a plain four leafer brings

The 9-leaf clover isn’t lucky at all:

Touching it actually stings.

Ten leaf clovers are what I’m really after

They’re the best it gets.

So you’d like to come hunting them with me?

Hmmmm….well, ok…let’s.

I’ll bring you along for the low low price

Of that old 4-leaf clover you’ve got.

What’s that? I said 4-leafs don’t interest me?

I said that?!? Well. I must have forgot.

cloverdealed_edit

Field Notebook Renderings of Members of Genus: Polyleaf – (from upper left corner) The Basic aka The Four Score ; The And-1 ; The O’Six Pack ; The Stairway to Seven ; The Octclover ; The Stinger aka the Paul Newman aka The Henry Gondorff ; The Big Time aka the Green Whale aka The O’Derek

ROLLING in NOLA: A Steller Story from Making a Movie in New Orleans

For the past six months I’ve had the great good fortune of working on a documentary film about a remarkable year in the life of the city of New Orleans. Here is a Steller Story photo journal behind the scenes of the production.

The film, titled “The Timeline: Rebirth in New Orleans”, tells the story of how after Hurricane Katrina, a great city, its football team the Saints, and their iconic stadium the Superdome were forced to respond to an unprecedented natural disaster.  It premieres on Wednesday, September 21 at 8pm/ET on NFL Network, and features new interviews with Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and former NFL safety and ALS advocate Steve Gleason.

BuccanAir

The Pilot Pirate

flies a peg-leg plane.

The Pilot Pirate

keeps booty on the brain.

The Pilot Pirate

has a sneaky parakeet,

who’d rather have an aisle

than a window seat.

The Pilot Pirate

navigates sea and air.

The Pilot Pirate

doesn’t have a care.

The Pilot Pirate

makes the world his lair,

soaring and swording

and ARRRR-ing everywhere.

The Pilot Pirate

wears an eye patch,

and when putting it on, yells,

“Batten down the hatch!”

The Pilot Pirate

goes fast but doesn’t run,

because swashbuckling sweaty

ruins the fun.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 11.56.58 PM

This photo first appeared on Instagram.  For more like it, click here.

CORNER OF WORD

Not quite as far out as

Where the sidewalk ends

Is where Word Street into

Other Word Street bends.

And at that intersection

Is a Dutch French Horn

And a squirrel swirl

And a torn acorn,

And a Bizarre Bazaar

And a big clinched couch

And Dorian DeLorean

In a crazyman crouch,

Holding over his head

A zydeco xylophone

To play a song for Aunt Cake

Louder than a cyclone,

Or a superbomb blast

From an Arctic typhoon

Howling over the surface

Of a baboon lagoon.

And inevitably when

That sound causes debris,

What acceptable receptacle

Will there possibly be?

Well that stripe of insight

Might be too great an onus

To expect even from

Wizened Old Bonus Jonas.

But there where Word Street bends

To Other Word Street

The junction’s real function’s

Clear as a snare beat:

To be a place friendly

to sound percolation

And weird letter unions,

night, day, and morn,

A magic locale of

twinkling tongue twisters,

the spot on the map

where poems may be born.

painttable_edit

CAN’T BE LICKED

All day I could eat ice cream

Then still have more at night

To say there is a time I can’t eat ice cream

is not right.

That’s why in all my belt loops

I hook on sixteen spoons,

It’s why at my house there’s

Ten freezers in each room

And toppings stashed inside the pocket

Of each coat I own

And why I’m working on a way

To eat ice cream through my phone.

Ice cream may not be perfect

But it’s very very close

So to sundaes, cones, and chipwiches,

Let’s raise an ice cream toast.

licked_edit

ONE SUMMER ROADMAP

Collected from May to today

From New Orleans to Albany

These shots together form a

FlyIreWerDelis.

Buzzing, brightening

Petals, pavement,

Earth, sky, shining sea:

A mashed-up summer roadmap bouquet,

The FlyIreWerDelis

FlyIreWerDelis

For more photos, check out my Instagram gallery at tweed_typewriter

WHAT IF

I asked,

“What if I blew my teeth?

What if I brushed my nose?

What if I ironed the leaves?

What if I raked my clothes?

What if I clipped my ears?

Pierced my nails?

Flossed my shoes?

Shined my hair?

Climbed my bike?

Rode the stairs?

Took a bed?

Went to bath?

Added letters?

Read my math?

Swam a jog?

Ran a swim—”

“Well,” Mom cut in,

Eventually folks might ask

‘Sooo…..What’s up with him?’”

teeth_edit

ROUND AND ROUND

My sister’s dance recycle was held this afternoon
The open was a fresh take on the classic “Brigadoon.”
The ballerinas stole Act II updating “Claire de Loon”,
Next came a Modern version of “The Ballad of Rocky Raccoon.”
Throughout it all I snacked on extra crunchy Lorna Doones,
Which the Tap Dance Troop’s clicks covered to a new “Angelina, Zooma-Zoom.”

From where this event got its name,
at first I had no clue:
There were no boogeying bottles or can-canning cans.
But after seeing the old songs
rethunk, reduced, and reused
“Dance Recycle” is now a name I understand.

recycle_edit

SEARCHING FOR THE CHAMP: Me, We, Ali

Late last Friday night it came to my attention that I’d lost Muhammad Ali.  Not that he’d died.  I’d learned that along with the rest of the world hours earlier, a newsflash that sent me in search of an Ali drawing I’d done years before.  It was a pencil sketch comprised of two elements:  a close-up of the fighter as modeled after the photo on the cover of David Remnick’s outstanding Ali biography King of the World, combined with a speech bubble that in graphic title fashion melded the two-word poem “Me. We.”, which Ali once delivered at a Harvard graduation.

As keepsakes go, this picture lived in the same space that much stuff does:  so precious there’s no way I’d have ever thrown it out, so irrelevant to my daily life I wasn’t sure where it was, so singular that there was only a few places it could possibly be.  Yet it wasn’t there, there, or there:  not still attached to any one of the old sketch pads on my shelf ; not in a pile of old clips and copies and print-outs-of-note dating back decades ; not even unceremoniously folded and stuffed into the binding of the Remnick book.

fdfdffd

GOOD, BUT NOT THE GREATEST — Among the items I laid hands on during the search for my “Me, We, Ali” drawing: the David Remnick book whose cover photo helped inspire the missing design ; a pencil-mimic of a Walter Iooss, Jr. portrait of Paul “Bear” Bryant ; and two Vince Lombardi holiday season sketches that never made it onto one of my annual Christmas Cards.  Maybe this will be the year St. Vince meets St. Nick? 

I had expected to locate the image without much thought or effort, but when more of the latter was needed more of the former came along.  My mind went back to an evening in the spring of 2002, the only time I stood in the same room as the Greatest of All-Time.  It was in the Joyce Athletic & Convocation Center at the University of Notre Dame during the school’s annual amateur boxing tournament, known as Bengal Bouts. Notre Dame is in South Bend, Indiana, just 25 miles from Berrien Springs, Michigan where Ali had a home.  He’d made previous appearances at Bengal Bouts,  but that didn’t take any luster from the moment: when he entered, the building buzzed like the bee whose sting Ali had so famously claimed he could replicate.

What happened next lives in my mind’s eye like a stop-action sequence of still photos.  Not because the years have made the motion fade from the memory, but because that’s how it actually felt as the moment unfolded.

First, I could see his entourage far on the other side of the floor level on which I was standing.  Next, the small group in which the Greatest was at the center was halfway around the arena.  Then suddenly, it was in front of me.  The next two instants I recall with perfect clarity:  I made blink-long eye contact with Muhammad Ali ; he noticed the female spectator beside me wearing a Notre Dame Women’s Boxing sweatshirt, and he began charmingly, playfully shadow-boxing with her.

I have no idea how well he could speak back then, or even if he had the desire to in such a crowded, fluid setting where the main objective was simply to get to his seat.  But clearly, the old Champ could still kid, still joke, still float like the butterfly he’d so often promised he would resemble — and became again right then: fluttering out of the space in front of us as instantly and magically as he’d appeared.

Being delusional, selfish perhaps, I’d always felt that my Ali experience was a unique one — the way I’d seen him appear to defy physics as he moved through physical space ; by simply walking, somehow performing the unforgettable in a way that even the witnesses of it would later describe as unbelievable.  But I was way off thinking there was anything unique about the stirring presence Ali had had that night in northern Indiana, and it took only the first few bits of reaction and reflection that followed his death to illustrate it.  So many authors used the same language as I had to describe completely different interactions with Ali, and so striking was the shared quality of the collective memory of “meeting” him, that even if you believe just a fraction of what seeped into the world simply on the day of his death, the only comparison that feels apt for the Greatest is not to another person but to a heavenly body.  Because like the Sun, Ali seems to have touched everyone on Earth.

Long after midnight the day Ali died, my Artwork Search Party of One continued.  Perhaps I was clumsy enough to leave it buried inside the frame of my boxing-centric collage that it wasn’t part of ; or alongside the Bear Bryant drawing I’d certainly done around the same time, and ultimately that night found in the basement.  No.  It must be somewhere in the inches thick, Usual Suspects-style sedimentary formation I called a bulletin board in my office at work.  Certainly, after passing the weekend, I would poke around that paper-relief sculpture on Monday morning and find my sketch faster than I could say Keyser Soze.

On Monday, no dice.

Just as he was in the ring, Ali is proving elusive rendered in pencil.  I refuse to believe the picture got tossed ; searching for it has turned up far too many other pieces of less important creative driftwood for it to be plausible that THAT of all pieces is gone.  I imagine someday it will appear suddenly and remarkably, just like Ali did both to the world at large and to the individuals who for even an instant were in his physical presence.  I am one of those lucky ones.  So even if my hand-drawing of him never surfaces, the greatest image I have of Ali will never fade.

 

 

 

Mmm, Mmm. Good.

M is the camel of letters
recognizable for its two humps.
Without them both, M would be N,
as in neasles,
conputer,
and nunps.

M comfortably takes on the task
of being the milestone
halfway on the road
through Alphabetowne
‘tween A’s aura and the Z-zone.

And though M sounds like
M starts with an e
eh-hem
that isn’t the case.

M is his own man:
A pivotal camel shaped pal
Midway through the race.

M_edit

DON’T LOOK CLOSE:  Look far.  And you May just see an M in this iMage from
the Mellow Mushroom, Oak Street, New Orleans.  YuMM.

A MAN IN A TREE

Look Hard To See The Man In The Tree

Look hard,
Do you see?
The Man in the tree?
Way up high
Looking wee
A bark scaling flea.
Saw in hand has he,
Hanging from two or three
Ropes, hooks, pulleys,
And the squeeze of his knees.
How he must feel free
Part man,
Part leaf,
Like a branch in the breeze:
Breathe in sky,
Exhale glee.
That is, at least,
Till he gets company
In the form of some bees,
Who appear suddenly.
Nothing about them
At all unfriendly
These makers of honey
Always aiming to please.
To the hive they’re returning
As they do normally,
But that’s not what the Man in the tree
Thinks he sees.
So he waves and he flails
And he clings nervously
Contemplating a way he can
Flee gracefully.
From here it appears
(perhaps you’d agree)
he cannot speak even
a few words of Bee.
If he could
It might change things,
Presumably
The Man might agree:
He does not need an
Exit strategy ;
That the bees are no bother ;
If he’ll just let them be ;
And enjoy the beauty
At the top off the tree.

WHO HAS THE FLOOR?

“Kids, grab your picks and shovels
and come along with me,
We’re headed on a voyage
of thrilling discovery!

It’s been so long since we’ve seen it,”
Dad with excitement said,
“And this will be like a safari …
Quick!
Let’s tape flashlights to our heads!

We’ll set out like explorers
Who knows what is in store?
On this adventure quest
For the Lost Family Room Floor!

We’ll search beneath the pillows,
The building blocks and blankets,
We’ll push past all the heaps of dolls
And mountain range of trinkets!

And with hard work and good luck
If we persevere
If through drums and balls and train sets
We’re able to steer,

Maybe we can find it,
That myth from days of yore,
That deeply buried, long lost treasure
The Fabled Family Room Floor!”

floor_edit 2

DRAWING > BORED

Scooter Scutter, scribble junkie
drew lions, tigers, bears and monkeys,
speedboats, tractors, unicycles,
Sallys, Stevies, Mindys, Michaels,

In pens and ink, paint and charcoal,
marker, crayon, colored pencil,
on paper, plastic, ceilings, walls,
cereal box tops, basketballs.

His friends asked once, “What is it, Scoo
about drawing that soooo grips you?
The lines, the shapes, the shades, the faces?
The capturing of things and places?”

Listening, Scoo kept his eyes on his pad,
his tireless stylus moving like mad.
He said, “Not sure I have an answer for you,
‘cept I draws ‘cuz not drawin’
colors me blue.”