Barry Lopez Essay

Please read this, if you love the world. It’s from Orion Magazine ~Jim Stewart

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Haiku: Wind Aria

The sea paints the shore
as the rain lashes my face;
the wind sings a hymn.

(waves: Jim Stewart)

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I can handle my liquor, but
fall on my face;
My intelligence is genius, but
misinterprets the problem;
I see all obstacles, but
step into the hole;
My kindness is legendary, but
my words bring tears;
I am a great driver, but
the bicyclist has to miss me;
I am forthright and brave, but
hide from the truth.

My omniscience is suspect.


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Haiku–Patient Rain

Steam rises from the
fence; the sun hangs high and round;
rain waits patiently.

(Sun:; Fence:

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Do Spiders Dream?

Wind rises;
trees bend and stretch;
webs ripple and tear.
Drops as big as she
engulf delicate weaving
as she tries respinning the damage,
but the maelstrom says no.

She retreats to a cup of leaves to endure.
Her dreams are calamitous.
I understand.


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Haiku–Adorning Ink

My decorations
are only for the world and


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Water Wonder

We pack water around everywhere we go. We are veritable bota bags of water. We humans are roughly sixty to seventy percent water. Since learning these factoids, people have been fond of comparing our water mass to that of our planet, which is about 70 percent water. It’s a nice correlation, sure, but vanishes when we contemplate drinkable water. Only about two-and-a-half percent of the water adhering to our oblate spheroid is fresh and drinkable. The rest of it is saltier than the glass rim of a Bloody Maria. And there is probably another ocean’s worth of water in the mantle of the planet. It all adds up to something like 326 million trillion gallons that we live above, below, and around. That’s a number with eighteen zeros. When I attempt to parse a number like that I feel like a hamster trying to comprehend a fork.

Let’s go back to the water we can drink for a minute. We Americans take it for granted, yes? Much of the two-and-a-half percent that is fresh water is locked up in the polar ice caps. The arithmetic, then, says we have less than one percent of all the water on earth to hydrate us land creatures, including the plants with whom we share the land. That’s still a lot of water but it’s a useful perspective to have when thinking about human population and the survival of life as we know it. In the United States, the aquifer levels have been depleted by a volume equal to two Lake Eries. And that trend continues unabated. Perhaps all the people with their heads stuck in the sand should look for potable water while they’re down there.

When water shows up where it’s not wanted, it is mind-bogglingly powerful. Just ask Midwest folks or the people living in New Orleans. Last year alone, USA flood damage ran into billions of dollars. We can redirect water or block it behind a levee or a dam, but when containment fails it will go wherever it wants to with no respect for any of us, fitting exactly whatever container it fills, be it a glass, a riverbed, a house, or a city.

Perhaps the most fascinating characteristic of water is its surface tension, defined by Webster as : the attractive force exerted upon the surface molecules of a liquid by the molecules beneath that tends to draw the surface molecules into the bulk of the liquid and makes the liquid assume the shape having the least surface area. It’s why drops are round, why water striders can dance across the surface of a stream, why needles can float, why after a spill beads form on your kitchen counter, and why kids can delight in the magic of soap bubbles floating on the breeze. It also serves to help your eyeballs (cornea) stay moist. How cool is that?

Yep. Aside from being essential to life, water is the universal solvent, the patient carver of rock into spectacular landscapes, the carrier of rich nutrients onto farm land, and the enabler for me to sit here thinking about it. If I sit and think about it for twenty-four hours, I will have exhaled about a cup of water.

I think we have to be better giving back than that.

(Top: from; Bottom: Gearhart beach from the author)

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Losing the Lease

A short rhymer. jrs

The only home I’ve ever known
Is this body in which I’ve grown.
Like any house, it sometimes needs repair
And you can’t get parts just anywhere.
It’s a miracle of gut and brain,
Of bone and sinew that sadly wane.
So when the mortgage payments cease
We all must surely give up our lease.

(Mexico sunrise: the poet)

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Rumbling About

I can sit on my motorcycle, rumbling down Coast Highway 101, following my front tire to Seaside. As long as there is road, sometimes it isn’t possible to discover a reason to stop.

Clustered memories can explode into other years and other roads, where I didn’t know what the horizon was hiding. Each revealed plain offered a new mystery to unravel, a different place to wonder about.

It’s all about the seeking when the finding leads to more seeking, building an atlas of memory that will sustain the stories that help define my life. I can see from 101 to Burns, from Burns to Elko, from Elko to Whitefish, from Whitefish to Revelstoke, from Revelstoke to Port Angeles, place to place all over western North America.

These are selfish memories. It’s just me on the iron magic carpet. The thunder on which I ride is a mantra that frees my heart to love the world. The gratitude runs through me, buoys me, and renders me a comet of hope burning across the heavens of my everyday routine.

Coast Highway gets me where I need to be, where I used to perform my due diligence so my family would have shelter, warmth, food, and peace. The gratitude for that more than equals the wild freedom I’ve enjoyed and keeps me snug and free of having to master urban camping.

I remember not knowing where dinner was. I knew it was somewhere until it became breakfast, then lunch, and then dinner again. Going to sleep hungry, even during my direst youthful economics, was not terribly common for me, but it happened. For many in our community here in Oregon, it is still a daily travail. I’m glad I no longer have to experience that. My situation allows me the ease of knowing where dinner is, AND breakfast, AND lunch. I’m awake. I’m intelligent. I’m lucky.

My motorcycle is a luxury. To more than eighty percent of the humans on our planet, I live a luxurious life. When I go to Mexico I am perceived as a wealthy gringo. If I travel to La Jolla, my collar is perceived as blue. Sometimes, it’s like my very skin is the only disguise I need. It offers me the white privilege of being fairly safe most anywhere I go. Money in my pocket has nothing to do with it. But even mostly blending in, humans will still label me. It’s a leftover survival mechanism. People of color, in neighborhoods where they are the exception rather than the rule, know this very well.

It’s all relative, isn’t it? I am staunchly middle-middle class here in America. To a starving Somali family or a homeless person anywhere, I am rich beyond comprehension. I become the stereotypical ugly American. Do I deserve that? Depends on who’s looking. In my own mind I am a kind man who cares greatly for the vibrant cultures all over the world. But that caring is not universally perceived. At the bottom line, I really can’t alter the perceptions that follow me wherever I go. All I can do is accept them, try to understand them, and move through my own life, sharing positive energy as best I can. Sometimes, that will be with a rumbling wind in my face.


Posted in Absolutes, American history, family, Harley Davdson, Humans, Life, Motorcycles, Open road, Oregon, Perception, Uncategorized, White privlege, Wisdom | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Liebster Award Nomination

Hmm…Poetry 365 nominated me for a Liebster Award. I’m stunned. Thank you, Nathan. Did I say I’m stunned? is a wonderful blog, full of thought, emotion, and humor (American spelling :-)), and yeah, poetry.

The Rules

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and add a link to their blog
  2. Answer the 11 questions given to you
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers that you think deserves the award
  4. Ask 11 innovative questions to the ones you have nominated
  5. Remember to notify your nominees once you have uploaded your acknowledgement post.

The Poet’s Questions (My Answers)

1. Are you a cat, dog, mouse, or fish person? (Explain why…)

I am a dog person. I enjoy cats, too, but I like the perpetual honesty of a dog. They can be goofy and are, for me, wonderful company.

2. What was your first music album / CD? (What was your last? Damn you, Spotify!!)

My first record was 16 Tons, by Tennessee Ernie Ford. The last album I got is Ghosts of West Virginia, by Steve Earle.

3. Which is your favourite Beatle and why?

Tough question. Initially, I loved all of them. As the years passed, I settled on George. He was always discovering himself as a musician and songwriter. I think he wrote the deepest material.

4. If you could be any character from fiction or movie, who and why?

I’d love to be Jasper Cronk, a character in my novel Ochoco Reach. He lives on a beach outside of San Blas, Mexico, surfs most every day, has a lovely daughter, and knows enough to keep smiling and being the best friend he can be to the people who love him. I aspire.

5. What was your most disastrous date night? Tell all the gory details!

Hmm. Never dated much. Probably when I took a girl to the drag races and discovered she didn’t like cars OR noise. It was a short evening. What really tore it was me offering the filters from my cigarettes as ear plugs.

6. No regrets. But, what is your biggest regret? (No politics)

I wish I’d been kinder when I was young. I was directly responsible for a couple broken hearts. I probably could have made it easier.

7. What was your scariest weather moment?

A sou’wester here on the north Oregon coast. It blew over 80 MPH for eight hours. I lay in bed and felt the old house twist like you’d wring out a wash cloth. There were two 40-foot ancient fruit trees in the front yard, a plum and an apple. Somehow, they survived it. So did we.

8. What is your favourite city? Explain why?

Trick question. I don’t really like cities. Not my comfort zone. But I’d say it’s a toss-up between Portland, Oregon and San Diego, California. Portland because of it’s quirky attitudes and scenic beauty. San Diego because it has the best weather on the planet. Also, the ocean frames it beautifully.

9. What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A musician. A writer. Oddly enough, that’s who I turned out to be.

10. If you could make a mixtape (OK? or, a spotify playlist), which are the first 5 tracks?

John Prine: Blue Umbrella; Lyle Lovett: If I Had a Boat; Steve Earle: Copperhead Road; Little Feat: Dixie Chicken; Dire Straits: Calling Elvis. This list would be different tomorrow.

11. You have the luxury of writing your own epitaph. Please tell us all? (and make us cry…)

He was a lazy man who followed the flow of his life in his boat of music and literature. He never asked much of others, but he demanded much from himself. He was kind and loved with his entire being. His greatest assets were his family and friends.

My Nominations (Random Order):


My Questions for my nominees:

  1. If you could share a meal with anyone from history, who would it be? Why?
  2. Who is your favorite human being of all time. Why?
  3. Do you have a favorite animal?
  4. What was your most embarrassing experience ever? Does it still make you blush?
  5. Have you ever been afraid when flying?
  6. Would you rather sail a boat or drive a dogsled?
  7. If you had to lose one of your five senses, which would you choose?
  8. Are you a city person or a country person? Both? Why?
  9. Kayaking or mountain climbing?
  10. What was your most memorable meal? Why?
  11. For what would you like to be most remembered?

Have fun with this.

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