COMES A TIME – Then and Now

“What makes old age hard to bear is not the failing of one’s faculties, mental and physical, but the burden of one’s memories.” – W. Somerset Maugham

*

Then & Now

*

It is approaching summer and a dead leaf lies in the wet grass visibly shaking in the wind, as if it had a season of splendor ahead of it to foliage in the stifling green of the Berkshires. Each day in New England trembles with the excitement of not knowing which way the wind blows, cold and damp or hot and humid. Here mold grows between the teeth of timber, and under the fingernails of anything that scratches above the surface of the firmament. I am here for whatever reason the universe is nudging me towards eternity, and I am thankful for the Innkeepers courtesy. Everything I do lends itself to everything I need to do, subconsciously, or in my face, to get to where I have always been moving towards.

Some days are better than others. This is not a frivolous axiom but a fact of passing through. If one travels down memory lane, those long stretches of highway, where nothing passes but the lines between oncoming trials and tribulations, and all of that that lingers momentarily in the rear view mirror; what should remain is those short breaths of life coming from a whisper of thank you. There is no need to shout or exclaim, for anything a decibel above silence is all that is needed to revel in the beauty of the moment.

Mi esposa waits on my journey south. When togetherness is but a week away, after a long journey through a winter apart, separation brings a sadness that needs only a sweet hello, a smile, an eye to eye understanding that longing is no longer a part of communication.

Behind me a blur of activity, dissolution and expectation sliding into a distant memory, the cork swollen and dry, never again needing to fit, for the bottle well received is graciously empty. Nothing left for the gods. The names of faces and places never forgotten, like the last drabs of winter’s snow wait on the curb ready to fall into the gutter and disappear down the drain. Three thousand miles later, the street sweepers brush away the remnants of a winter’s memory while a golden butterfly dances on the light of a brilliant bougainvillea.

Days now have names like Lunes, Viernes, Sabado and Domingo, and come and go at their own pace, in this place, now called home. A dominion of diamonds and dust where wealth buys you a view and more rooms then you’ll ever need to live in.

When the connection between then and now times out, it doesn’t really matter. Your mind refocuses on the immediate, dogs talk to one another and their barks echo across the mountains with the boom booms. There is a constant cluck and trill nullifying chatter, implanting the sheen of afterrain on the blossoms of a peaceful mind. Dawn has shifted from the alarming dark entrance into day’s hustle—the 5 a.m. lurch into insanity; to a subtle awareness, casually around 8 or 9; the gentle scraping at the bedroom door suggesting the cats want breakfast, roosters rolling their r’s wafting in chorus from the village below, a mist of light washing the dust from your eyes, an appreciation that life has for the moment in eternity, settled here on the shores of Lake Chapala.

**

There’s a seasonal thing

about this life we live

benchmarks that have a history,

quarterly objectives unmet and mastered,

a mile marker that you remember

in passing along the way.

good feelings ingrain themselves

at a very early age and never let go,

only, if only you enter laughing,

and somehow never let go

of the possibility, no matter

how slight the meaning,

of joy

for misery needs a definition

and wanting comes with loss.

There are blocks of life where life has left

holes in the garment I was born to wear.

years where the waves came crashing in,

and years where the sands tumbled into empty spaces

leaving gold nuggets and empty shells,

sucked into the undertow of subliminal anxiety

and fear of knowing,

into the comfort

of silence and forgetfulness.

nothing to hide,

nothing to remember,

the broom and dustpan of our memory

sweeping anything and everything

into the holes we create in our conscience

where all,

all thoughts and actions,

from the sublime to the inhumane,

can be forgiven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comes A Time – In-Between Before and After

“You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories.” – Garrison Keillor

*

In-Between Before and After

*

I was floundering on, as usual, until she gave my soul a slap—well deserved at that. I dug myself out of the fiction of life and devoured the books on enlightenment she gave me to read. She wondered if I had the will power to see the light. It was all candlelight at first. Then slowly, over time, my mind’s eye adjusted to the sunlight that entered my life.

Maybe it helped, maybe it didn’t. I hit bottom and bounced back. I got a job with insurance. If that wasn’t bait enough to entice her to give it another go—I finally had a home for her to come back to. I was still dubious about whether angels actually existed, at least in my dimension. Until that is, I decided to quit smoking. I did it the hard way—lung cancer. And those new age guru quantum mystic holistic health specialists she turned me on to—maybe they helped, maybe they didn’t, but at least I’m not now working on re-incarnation therapy.

She was a reluctant angel, but she saved my life. Because of her I learned to listen. What baffles the body at times undermines the spirit. Yet the body-mind intention is ever clear. The essence of some sensibility so out of place, so foreign in a private space—was there—and wanted me to be aware. I had come to understand that what is received by one cell, entering the vast emptiness, is complete in every sense. Nothing enters the body and is not heard, and I heard the cancer deep in the dark recesses of my lung.

Everybody knows about the hole in the bucket. It’s where reality, the visible world on the other side of the plate glass window of your mind, slowly leaks into the emptiness of time and space. Until one day you find you have arrived in the here and now, and the bucket’s empty.

How was it that the illusion of happiness, the lingering smell of sweat and damp sheets, the cocoon of comfort wrapped around my brain, could, in the course of a conversation, over a cup of coffee, or sitting on the edge of the bed, turn into an aloneness, without substance, an accumulation of a lifetime of togetherness with nothing to hold onto. Waking to nobodies home anymore meant I was left with my own rewards.

She had told me it was never complicated—if you can’t cook, stay out of the kitchen. If you don’t love yourself, leave romance well enough alone. I had put her emails in a folder in my memory box along with the record album of the music we loved—it had a groove in it where the heartache began.

That was in-between before and after. The lung grew back nice and white like a nun’s wimple. I learned to cook and felt good about shaving the face in the mirror.

*

It’s Just a Story

*

It’s just a story. Albeit our story.

I’m not questioning it.

How far can you take it,

this syncopathic relationship?

This vibrational accompaniment?

A tumor grows in me, and so too with you.

Aware in empathetic wonderment

to the extreme possibly.

Awash in dawns’ subtle light

the trill of a mock of blue birds

through the open window,

a purr at the foot of the bed. 

What more needs to be said?

To share another day,

to be so awake in how love reaches out

and defines itself without words

is unquestionably our story

nothing unreasonable happens

and there you are

wandering around a room

full of memories.

good ones mind you,

for nothing should be carried forward

that does not shed a light

on the loving side of you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comes A Time – Senescent Choices

 

“It is a mistake to regard age as a downhill grade toward dissolution. The reverse is true.  As one grows older, one climbs with surprising strides.” –  George Sand

 

Senescent Choices

 

Life it seems is what I wake up with. All of a sudden it is today. Sure, I have a few aches and pains. Daily my body expands and flattens, my feet grow wider as I shrink. Not going gently into the night bits and pieces fall apart, are manufactured and left overnight on my nightstand. I am here, having journeyed a lifetime to get to where I have a need to step out of the picture, and elevate the consciousness of illusion in an endeavor to know myself.

We don’t travel on an unmarked road, however, it is possible to miss the milestones and signs along the way that provide choices. Sometimes we need to recollect what just happened along the route in order to make sense of it all. Sometimes oncoming decisions need to be made immediately without the opportunity to reflect, and if we don’t pay attention, the road may just come to a dead end having missed our cutoff. That’s where choice comes in. Cancer was a sign that said time to turn here.

A sexagenarian friend of mine is financially able to retire comfortably, but remains dedicated to pursuing a line of work he says all his previous working life has led him to. After an expensive divorce, a bout with cancer and lingering aftermath, an early golden handshake, and a gift card from the government for officially being old, you’d think it would be time to stop expanding in the universal scheme of things, whoadown, slow down, leave behind the rebound, spend time staying healthy doing the daily comealong, and not much more. Anything but back to work. Yet. Who knows where that road may lead?

I’m not saying that it’s ever time to stop. If you don’t use it, you know, it wears down from lack of friction with life, and rusts. Neuroscience research shows the brain’s biological growth reaches full maturity around age 25. If it did keep growing no one would be able to wear those ubiquitous baseball caps. Continuous higher learning and occupational attainment, on the other hand changes the brain and every experience brings on cognitive growth. Decision making, planning, relationships, the part of the brain that makes us human just keeps chucking along when we use it, for better or worse. H.L. Mencken’s observation that the older he grew, the more he distrusted the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom probably has some merit based on some of the curmudgeons I know. Older brains chock full of expert erudition relevant to a pursuit or passion when utilized for solving problems and coming up with solutions slows the mental aging process.

So who’s to say which is the better choice, keeping the pedal to the metal on the road you’re on, or taking the next turn to follow your dreams? No matter how long it takes there is an ending to everything. Is it possible that what we are after, after all, is an expression of self, and in that an understanding of what it is we are meant to do? All choices are worthy of consideration, or for what reason would we have to wonder, we have to question. I made the choice to follow my dream and take the exit heading for a quiet (sometimes) small village on the shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico, and have no regrets. As John Barrymore put it: “man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”

 

Senior moments

gray cells synapsing

and disappearing into the ozone,

looking forever

for what’s right in

front of you.

in the ungluing of the universe

as you contemplate

the oneness of the world

the mindful exercise of being

in the moment,

goes beyond an ephemeral thought,

a shortness of breath,

and becomes reality

as we perceive it

a cocktail of awe and wonder

with an olive of doubt.

 

Available on Amazon

 

 

Comes A Time – A Coming of Age

A Coming of Age

 

As a certifiable Septuagenarian I now, on occasion, think about aging and growing old. I suppose it comes with the body politic. Never have liked the word “old” unless, as Francis Bacon remarked it appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.

A 2009 Pew Research study indicated that the average respondent believed old age begins in the mid-sixties, and older as opposed to younger believed old age started at a much later point. That’s a no brainer. In a Daily Mail article, according to young Brits, old age starts at 52. I’ll have none of it. I knew someday if the good lord willing I might reach the seventh age of man described by Jacque in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It; as second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything…and all that didn’t sound too appealing to me.

Living in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts old was in; New Yorkers and Bostonians fought over decrepit chairs and 3 legged tables once buried in the dust of damp and moldy barns, on sale as priceless antiques of the not so ancient pilgrims. Malcolm Cowley in his book of personal essays, The View from Eighty he quotes an octogenarian friend “They tell you that you lose your mind when you grow older, but what they don’t tell you is that you won’t miss if very much.”

The word “old” needs a little help standing on its own, and it has nothing to do with canes and walkers, it’s the tags that follows it around like an old dog: old bag, old fogey, and old timer. I can relate to defining old as of former times, like days of old, having been aged for a comparatively long time, as in old brandy. My commanding officer in the Air Force was the old man, and that was acceptable. Unacceptable would be the terminology dating back to 1775 for wife or mother as the old lady. That might have worked for the founding fathers but politically incorrect today. Mi Esposa occasionally has to remind me “you’re getting old honey,” but that’s usually when certain parts of my anatomy won’t take no for an answer. The word aging on the other hand is the process of becoming older. In the narrow sense, the term refers to biological aging of human beings, and other living creatures.

Lewis Thomas writes in his book of essays The Fragile Species: “It is possible to say all sorts of good things about aging when you are talking about aging free of meddling diseases.  It is an absolutely unique stage of human life—the only stage in which one has both the freedom and the world’s blessing to look back and contemplate what has happened during one’s lifetime instead of pressing forward to new high deeds.”

Here’s the rub, things can and do go south in the process of aging: one thing after another goes wrong, and the cumulative impact of these failures is the image of aging. However, normal aging is not a disease at all, but a stage of living that cannot be averted or bypassed except in one way, nicely summed up by Maurice Chevalier; “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.” Nevertheless many regard aging as a slow death with everything going wrong. Florida Pier Scott-Maxwell, a playwright, author and psychologist, nearing her nineties wrote “When a new disability arrives, I look about me to see if death has come, and I call quietly, ‘Death, is that you? Are you there?’ and so far the disability has answered, ‘Don’t be silly. It’s me.”

When I finally did come to the awareness I was aging somewhat, I was encouraged by the latest discoveries in cell biology—my body, with a few exceptions has a makeover every 10 years or so with old cells discarded and new ones generated, the pace depending on the workload. Why I don’t act my physical age is because there are some ornery cells hanging in there from birth to death. My brain has mind of its own and doesn’t generate new neurons except in mediating the sense of smell, and where I remember faces and places. I’m not there yet, but I guess someday I could be referred to as an old fart.

Doris Lessing wrapped it all up for me when she said, “The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.” I want to think I’ve aged more like a gem of polished driftwood washed up on a white sandy shore rather than a gnarly old oak tree all bark, no bite.

Aging vacillates

between acceptance and intolerance

or is it that we reach a stage of gestation

where we just don’t care

to hold anything inside, anymore.

*

A stage of -agenarian development

where it’s not worth maintaining

a decorum of politeness

when it comes to natural functions;

breathing,

expressing an opinion,

and of course flatulating.

Bodily functions have a humor all their own;

kids guffaw at farts,

women smile at fluffs,

and old farts just don’t give a damn.

Nobody talks about it. 

Everyone turns their head and ignores it. 

Life goes on.

*

On a given day, everything consumed,

is digested and then exuded.

It’s how books are written and read.

thoughts are shaped and spread,

how life absorbs creation

and is put to bed.

 

 

 

Available on Amazon  $5.50

 

 

 

Comes A Time – Comes a Time essay

Comes a Time

 

Comes a time, comes a time for dying when the shadow walks away. Up until it dawned on me in an evening of sunsets, it wasn’t anything I paid much attention to. Lacking an extended family to speak of, in half a century anyone who passed left me out of the equation. Everyone in my life came and went like two trains going in the opposite direction, a blur of faces in the windows.

I remember my first coffin. In grade 6 the nuns marched us out of class and across the street to Dwyer Funeral Home to say a meek little benediction over the body of someone they told us was important. To this day I cannot lie on my back with my hands folded over my chest. As an adult I avoided funerals as an end of life ceremony and preferred to remember the good things about the person I had known, that way they never really died on me.

My mother at 87 was the first personal close encounter with the reality that there really was the possibility I would end up in the proverbial dustbin. No open coffin though, cremation without ceremony was her option—she was heading straight for heaven. That was a lifetime ago. Since then aging has played games with the face in the mirror. And although I’m not particularly thrilled about having to end the journey I’m on, in the end the choice will be a foregone conclusion.

I do know that I have come full circle. In youth when everyday was sunrise and life engrossed all my senses, dying was a destiny I gave no thought to, and now having discarded time as irrelevant, reveling in the life that surrounds me, relegates death to just a likely possibility when the music stops playing. I can now reflect on the knowledge that dying is a part of living. Never so clear to me now that I live in a small Mexican village where it is an accepted part of daily life. For the first time I have been able to visit my neighbors coffin and remember him as he was and always will be in the hearts of those who passed his way. The familia celebración of el Abuelo brought tears to my eyes, not only for the sadness of those left behind, but for all the celebrations I missed thinking death was not something I cared to pay mind to.

The music I love no longer plays at the top of the charts, and the melodies that rattle in my morning mind are vinyl stages of life that began and ended like mile markers on the interstate. No matter how long it takes there is an ending to everything. Is it possible that what I was after, after all, was an expression of self, and that’s all I will leave behind? In the finale there could wellness be, the inauguration of the end of what I started out to do in the very beginning. I still cannot lie back with my hands folded over my chest, not for fear of dying, but because I want to reach out and hold on to everything.

 

 

 

Available on Amazon: $5.50

Reflections on a Christmas Eve

Feliz Navidad y un Feliz Año Nuevo

mi casa es tu casa

mi casa es tu casa

Reflections on a Christmas Eve

Some nights are like this, a glass of burgundy,

candles permeating the air with lavender, a subtle

nostalgia for having passed this way.

I look out into the darkness, and it makes itself at home.

The window on this world I am reflecting on

is made of lace, from which I do not hide behind,

for I view this space, with gratitude and grace.

Every living cell within me carries

the physical recollection of Christmas Eve,

for here is a moment in time I have lived,

loved, and left behind a number of times.

This space of transitory occupancy,

complete with worn-out habits,

is the comfort of the threadbare winter coat

I don’t want to let go of.

Light enters here and here butterflies are born.

A child finds his way home. Words flow freely, easily,

although, as wit would have it with a price to pay,

this Eve is but a stop along the way,

for yet another window waits upon another day.

SEN-ESSENCE – some days

 SEN-ESSENCE, “on the art of aging’ published in 2010, is available on amazon.  After being officially labelled “old” at 65 by the Canadian Gov’t, in SEN-ESSENCE, over the last many years, I have explored the aging process (senescence), and the attributes (essence) that make us who we fundamentally are – forever young at heart.

13

 

Some days

a wasp is crawling up your pant leg.

first snow intrudes, an omen of more to come.

 

Some days come and go,

when you can’t remember

what shirt you wore yesterday,

what you had for lunch,

what you were supposed to

pick up on the way home.

 

thankful you have a home,

a mindful nutherday

still growing, and shedding, not wasting

away – after all these years.

 

some days are troublesome

some trouble free.

some full of fend and forgive

with a promise of a better day.

 

joyful of remembering in kindness

all that has passed away,

still knowing and believing

everything,       now,

in wonder to perceive

forever,                        here to stay

 

Most of the photography accompanying the poems are from a photo essay of the elderly (los Ancianos) who reside around Lake Chapala, Mexico.  Los Ancianos, published in 2013, can be found on Antonio Ramblés travels! Blog:  www.antoniorambles.com

SEN-ESSENCE – when you think upon it

 SEN-ESSENCE, “on the art of aging’ published in 2010, is available on amazon.  After being officially labelled “old” at 65 by the Canadian Gov’t, in SEN-ESSENCE, over the last many years, I have explored the aging process (senescence), and the attributes (essence) that make us who we fundamentally are – forever young at heart.

12

 

When you think upon it

no need

not to let the rooster crow.

 

just be glad you are in hearing distance.

 

no need to stop the rain,

seed the snow,

restrain from letting go.

 

no need to fear

for the divine evolution

is the letting go.

 

when you think upon it

what takes place,

what you weather

and are thankful for,

 

is but an awakening grace

needing not

but to let the rooster crow

 

just be glad

in the greeting

of another day

 

Most of the photography accompanying the poems are from a photo essay of the elderly (los Ancianos) who reside around Lake Chapala, Mexico.  Los Ancianos, published in 2013, can be found on Antonio Ramblés travels! Blog:  www.antoniorambles.com

SEN-ESSENCE – so it is

 SEN-ESSENCE, “on the art of aging’ published in 2010, is available on amazon.  After being officially labelled “old” at 65 by the Canadian Gov’t, in SEN-ESSENCE, over the last many years, I have explored the aging process (senescence), and the attributes (essence) that make us who we fundamentally are – forever young at heart.

11

 

So it is

that old is

as old does

nurtured on the past

 

imagine everything you perceive

as nothing other than a decaying dream,

aging in an only lifetime

 

the willow would last forever

rebirthing in the soil

of your content

 

birds would sleep with the elephants

 

aging, a thing of the past,

a shadow creeping slowly up behind you

 

fragile is

as fragile does

tempered in the mold

 

cast before there ever was

 

bent and shaped by the wind

 

we remain

just the same as always

 

some age like the oak

others like the weed

 

all have work to do

all feed the soul of the gardener

 

who plants the seed

and waits for someone

who knows

there is nothing to forgive

 

so it is

through thick and thin

we learn to walk

we learn to swim

 

to crawl

from beneath the waves

time and time again

 

hello

 

goodbye

 

and in-between

 

a subtle sigh

 

 

Most of the photography accompanying the poems are from a photo essay of the elderly (los Ancianos) who reside around Lake Chapala, Mexico.  Los Ancianos, published in 2013, can be found on Antonio Ramblés travels! Blog:  www.antoniorambles.com

SEN-ESSENCE – what do they do with your email

 SEN-ESSENCE, “on the art of aging’ published in 2010, is available on amazon.  After being officially labelled “old” at 65 by the Canadian Gov’t, in SEN-ESSENCE, over the last many years, I have explored the aging process (senescence), and the attributes (essence) that make us who we fundamentally are – forever young at heart.

10

 

What do they do with your email, when

your laptop becomes part of a tag sale?

 

you are out there now

reluctantly exposed on cyberspace.

a digital footprint

arthritic, calloused, fatigued,

and wary of the web.

 

generationally a pre-TV

analog relic, in love

with the ease of exploring

for the moment, the now.

 

someday someone stumbles on

your netlingo, a litany

of acronyms and leetspeak.

 

for what it’s worth,

garage sales are more obtrusive.

your life grandfathered on tables

and lawns, perused and fondled by bargain hunters.

 

eventually, everything is disposed of.

time as we know it,

the only barter

separating us from the inevitable.

 

Most of the photography accompanying the poems are from a photo essay of the elderly (los Ancianos) who reside around Lake Chapala, Mexico.  Los Ancianos, published in 2013, can be found on Antonio Ramblés travels! Blog:  www.antoniorambles.com

SEN-ESSENCE – aging vacillates between acceptance and intolerance

SEN-ESSENCE, “on the art of aging’ published in 2010, is available on amazon.  After being officially labelled “old” at 65 by the Canadian Gov’t, in SEN-ESSENCE, over the last many years, I have explored the aging process (senescence), and the attributes (essence) that make us who we fundamentally are – forever young at heart.

9

 

Aging vacillates between acceptance and intolerance

or is it that we reach a stage of gestation

where we just don’t care

to hold anything inside, anymore.

 

A stage of -agenarian development

where it’s not worth maintaining

a decorum of politeness

when it comes to natural functions;

breathing,

expressing an opinion,

and of course flatulating.

 

Bodily functions have a humor all their own;

kids guffaw at farts,

women smile at fluffs,

and old farts just don’t give a damn.

 

Nobody talks about it.

Everyone turns their head and ignores it.

Life goes on.

 

On a given day, everything consumed,

is digested and then exhumed.

 

It’s how books are written and read.

It’s how thoughts are shaped and spread,

how life absorbs creation

and is put to bed.

 

Most of the photography accompanying the poems are from a photo essay of the elderly (los Ancianos) who reside around Lake Chapala, Mexico.  Los Ancianos, published in 2013, can be found on Antonio Ramblés travels! Blog:  www.antoniorambles.com

SEN-ESSENCE – men as they age

 SEN-ESSENCE, “on the art of aging’ published in 2010, is available on amazon.  After being officially labelled “old” at 65 by the Canadian Gov’t, in SEN-ESSENCE, over the last many years, I have explored the aging process (senescence), and the attributes (essence) that make us who we fundamentally are – forever young at heart.

8

 

Men as they age

turn into cooks and cleaners

as if the less they have to do,

the more they are able to do,

in the art of living

 

for some, the mechanics of it

gives way to the subtle blending

of ginger, curry, and fresh cut vegetables,

sautéing in a pot thirsty for broth.

 

for others, living in a space

compatible with the essence generated

by a loving relationship, playing upon

the subtlety of the moment,

the aliveness of the moment,

just being in a dance together

simmering in a sensuous sauce.

 

then again not all men intend

upon the now and again,

and sadly miss the point of being

able to give and let live,

in the art of living.

 

Most of the photography accompanying the poems are from a photo essay of the elderly (los Ancianos) who reside around Lake Chapala, Mexico.  Los Ancianos, published in 2013, can be found on Antonio Ramblés travels! Blog:  www.antoniorambles.com

SEN-ESSENCE – re-tire, re-tread, re-make

 SEN-ESSENCE, “on the art of aging’ published in 2010, is available on amazon.  After being officially labelled “old” at 65 by the Canadian Gov’t, in SEN-ESSENCE, over the last many years, I have explored the aging process (senescence), and the attributes (essence) that make us who we fundamentally are – forever young at heart.

7

 

Re-tire, Re-tread, Re- make,

time comes

when you need to stop expanding

in the universal scheme of things

whoadown, slow down,

leave behind the rebound,

spend time staying healthy doing the daily

comealong, and not much more.

 

Re-mind, re-start, re-take,

go with the flow of a transcending theme

quantity dis-abled, quality en-abled,

joy embedded in the doing and so much more.

 

It’s all about making room

for the new shoots,

nature nudging you to go out and play,

 

reinventing yourself versus

becoming  a product

of a disposable world.

 

If you don’t use it,

you know,

it wears down

from lack of friction with life,

and rusts.

 

Most of the photography accompanying the poems are from a photo essay of the elderly (los Ancianos) who reside around Lake Chapala, Mexico.  Los Ancianos, published in 2013, can be found on Antonio Ramblés travels! Blog:  www.antoniorambles.com

 

SEN-ESSENCE – I want to paint a picture with words

 SEN-ESSENCE, “on the art of aging’ published in 2010, is available on amazon.  After being officially labelled “old” at 65 by the Canadian Gov’t, in SEN-ESSENCE, over the last many years, I have explored the aging process (senescence), and the attributes (essence) that make us who we fundamentally are – forever young at heart.

6

 

I want to paint a picture with words

for you to look upon in wonder

at the texture,

the composition,

the blending of content

with color and awe.

 

I want to write a poem

that you would want to frame

and hang on a wall.

 

Possibly crocheted or,

etched into a shellacked heart.

 

A poem that could be

engraved on a floor mat

welcoming you to my home or kitchen.

 

The ultimate of course

would be my poem,

blended on black velvet

with a picture of Elvis.

 

Then again maybe a line or two

to be read at a morning meeting,

embossed on the top of a covey calendar

 

I want to build something

with words, that makes you stop the car,

step-out, stand in wonder,

admiring the grace, the majesty

the complexity of form and motion

where nothing stands still

everything is moving in a dance

of vibrational energy.

 

If able, with the right word, the perfect

medium, a stroke of the pen in a dance upon a page

that generates an emotional response,

unexpected, controversial, intriguing.

 

A poem in color that states

 

what I intend

 

and you feel

 

Most of the photography accompanying the poems are from a photo essay of the elderly (los Ancianos) who reside around Lake Chapala, Mexico.  Los Ancianos, published in 2013, can be found on Antonio Ramblés travels! Blog:  www.antoniorambles.com

SEN-ESSENCE – you have everywhere to go

 SEN-ESSENCE, “on the art of aging’ published in 2010, is available on amazon.  After being officially labelled “old” at 65 by the Canadian Gov’t, in SEN-ESSENCE, over the last many years, I have explored the aging process (senescence), and the attributes (essence) that make us who we fundamentally are – forever young at heart.

5

 

You have everywhere to go

and nowhere to get to,

other than where you are,

for reasons not your own.

 

This senescence, is not what was expected.

Time a diminishing number of cells

doubling, in the immediate,

only potentially treatable.

 

Life it seems is what you wake up with.

All of a sudden it is today.

 

Sure, you have a few aches and pains.

Daily your body expands and flattens,

your feet grow wider as you shrink.

 

Not going gently into night

bits and pieces fall apart

are manufactured

and left overnight on the nightstand.

 

It seems every morning the fractals

of your flesh have become more pronounced.

Bumps and blemishes appear and disappear,

mold, bacteria, and wrinkles

replacing the nip and tuck

of a body, once not in need of repair.

 

However, for reasons not your own,

a renewed presence continues

and everymorn is wonder

waiting to be recognized.

 

You are here, having journeyed a lifetime

to get to where you have a need

to step out of the picture,

and elevate the consciousness of illusion

in an endeavor to know yourself.

 

Most of the photography accompanying the poems are from a photo essay of the elderly (los Ancianos) who reside around Lake Chapala, Mexico.  Los Ancianos, published in 2013, can be found on Antonio Ramblés travels! Blog:  www.antoniorambles.com

 

SEN-ESSENCE – there’s a seasonal thing about this life we live

 SEN-ESSENCE, “on the art of aging’ published in 2010, is available on amazon.  After being officially labelled “old” at 65 by the Canadian Gov’t, in SEN-ESSENCE, over the last many years, I have explored the aging process (senescence), and the attributes (essence) that make us who we fundamentally are – forever young at heart.

4

 

There’s a seasonal thing about this life we live

benchmarks that have a history,

quarterly objectives unmet and mastered,

a mile marker that you remember

in passing along the way.

good feelings ingrain themselves

at a very early age and never let go,

only, if only you enter laughing,

and somehow never let go

of the possibility, no matter

how slight the meaning of joy

for misery needs a definition

and wanting comes with loss.

There are blocks of life where life has left

holes in the garment I was born to wear.

years where the waves came crashing in,

and years where the sands tumbled into empty spaces

leaving gold nuggets and empty shells,

sucked into the undertow of subliminal anxiety

and fear of knowing,

into the comfort

of silence and forgetfulness.

nothing to hide,

nothing to remember,

the broom and dustpan of our memory

sweeping anything and everything

into the holes we create in our conscience

where all,  all thoughts and actions,

from the sublime to the inhumane,

can be forgiven.

Most of the photography accompanying the poems are from a photo essay of the elderly (los Ancianos) who reside around Lake Chapala, Mexico.  Los Ancianos, published in 2013, can be found on Antonio Ramblés travels! Blog:  www.antoniorambles.com

SEN-ESSENCE – this old apple tree

SEN-ESSENCE, “on the art of aging’ published in 2010, is available on amazon.  After being officially labelled “old” at 65 by the Canadian Gov’t, in SEN-ESSENCE, over the last many years, I have explored the aging process (senescence), and the attributes (essence) that make us who we fundamentally are – forever young at heart.
3

 

This old apple tree

is a holiday inn for birds.

A bastion of bugs that are room service

for anything that flies, crawls and festers.

.

I imagine me as a tree

with hot apple pie & ice cream

on the menu.

 

My blossoms, particularly beautiful,

a canopy for an apple crumb and coffee

on the deck, followed too soon

by the smell of rotting apples underfoot,

 

then naked, baring but an apple or two

hanging on like loose skin

flapping in winters’ long, cold, breath.

 

I imagine being reincarnate

offering a feast of fruit

in every lifetime.

 

I’m to look at it all,

the crusting apple tree

budding outside my window,

without imparting my perception

 

for then it becomes

all that I am.

 

Most of the photography accompanying the poems are from a photo essay of the elderly (los Ancianos) who reside around Lake Chapala, Mexico.  Los Ancianos, published in 2013, can be found on Antonio Ramblés travels! Blog:  www.antoniorambles.com

SEN-ESSENCE – a coming of age

  SEN-ESSENCE, “on the art of aging’ published in 2010, is available on amazon.  After being officially labelled “old” at 65 by the Canadian Gov’t, in SEN-ESSENCE, over the last many years, I have explored the aging process (senescence), and the attributes (essence) that make us who we fundamentally are – forever young at heart.
2

 

A Coming of Age

moves you from the center of the universe

to an ever expanding understanding

of just where you might fit in,

assuming of course you listen.

 

Some, like the snowdrops, enter in act one,

acknowledge an audience, and disappear.

Others, like the Hawthorne tree,

wait until everything around them blends

to the moment, guarding against trespass,

are last to leaf and first to leave.

 

Aging allows you to render the bark

around you as part of yourself.

Even in the shedding of mindfulness,

grey cells synapsing into the ozone,

everything meaning something closes in,

becomes important, if only to you,

and to what you are, to what you love,

and who loves you.

 

Some enter screaming onto a tapestry

of color that never dulls from the wear

and washing of lifetimes.

Others slip silently

into a white antiseptic wrap

their story never heard.

 

If you have managed to leave alone

everything that has touched you,

aging is the glue that sticks the pictures

to the pages of memories that mean the most.

 

Memories you cannot delete,

re-minding you of why you are here,

not just still here, in reflection

a meaning for being,

reflected in the hearts of everyone

that has orbited around your star.

 

Some age slowly, while others,

blossom and are gone.

 

Some stick like mud and harden

in the sunlight, others

a wisp of dust in a breeze.

 

When you reach a point

in the long deep obsidian season

of the mind, waiting to feel the reflection

of your story,  there appears out of nowhere

 

a covey of snowdrops huddled together

in a garden of dirt brown leaves and winter wreckage,

nature bare-armed; nothing standing

between the source of light and the receiver.

 

a point in time where,

rather than from the internal combustion

of a dark and dis-tempered soul,

in the comfort of an all encompassing light

 

there appears a promissory note

in the greeting of dawn

 

not just another day aging along, stumbling

upon potential fulfillment

 

just possibly coming to term

with the aging process

 

a process we never leave behind

or plan for

 

Comes an age where we are thankful

for the oneness of the day.

 

Comes an age asking only to be helpful

to be of service.

 

Comes an age where divine spirit

flows through you in love.

 

Most of the photography accompanying the poems are from a photo essay of the elderly (los Ancianos) who reside around Lake Chapala, Mexico.  Los Ancianos, published in 2013, can be found on Antonio Ramblés travels! Blog:  www.antoniorambles.com

 

SEN-ESSENCE – The music you love no longer plays

 SEN-ESSENCE, “on the art of aging’ published in 2010, is available on amazon.  After being officially labelled “old” at 65 by the Canadian Gov’t, in SEN-ESSENCE, over the last many years, I have explored the aging process (senescence), and the attributes (essence) that make us who we fundamentally are – forever young at heart.
old women

 

The music you love no longer plays

at the top of the charts

 

the melody that rattles in your

morning mind is vinyl

 

stages of your life begin and end

like mile markers on the interstate

 

remembrance becomes a veteran’s parade of wars

with the newest and the oldest stepping in time

 

supposing there’s a logical reason you are known

by what you did, and where it all began,

somehow it chaffs of greatness bending to the whims

of what matters for what was left behind

 

what remains after the flood, the drought,

the insanity of scorched earth and genocide,

is the cream that always rises to the top,

and always will – a common lesson

in gratitude for the moment and a promise

of better things to come, just because

it makes sense.

 

songs grow old and lose their shape,

memories lingering long in the recesses of the mind

ever present, we wait for the future

to sit down beside us, and listen to the music.

 

 

Most of the photography accompanying the poems are from a photo essay of the elderly (los Ancianos) who reside around Lake Chapala, Mexico.  Los Ancianos, published in 2013, can be found on Antonio Ramblés travels! Blog:  www.antoniorambles.com

You Take Yourself With You

IMG_5536

Some meander through life never touching down, others never go beyond where they began, each in their own right, following a passage through life with a mixture of contentment and conflict. If life is but a borrowing of bones, we cannot speak for one another when it comes to calling a place home, but we can, when we stumble or slide into a space that makes living in the moment, satisfying to the soul of what matters, share on a stroll through the village what we have discovered.  

 

You take yourself with you 

wherever you go

dust settles

 

It has all come together, aquí –

the shoreline of my youth

the mountains in my dreamtime

the myth of vulnerability

exposed to sunlight and color

after the rain,

after putting together Humpty

and climbing down off the fence

my daemon

and I, sharing a margarita

over the hero’s homecoming

 

 

self park

here, no other way

having arrived

The photography focuses on Lake Chapala and the surrounding villages that include Ajijic, Chapala, Jocotepec an so much more.  In addition to my pics many have been contributed by Antonio Ramblés  . Visit Antonio Ramblés travels blog at www.antoniorambles.com

A Single Rose

Photo by Author Artist Isidro Xilonzochitl

Photo by Author
Artist Isidro Xilonzochitl

 

Like North America, Mexico is a genetic blend of population, language, religion and culture, and yet here is a unique mix of substance and flavor that brings out the best of what makes us human.

 

 

we are all shades

of the same color

petals of a single rose

 

 

To see it, is to feel it!

It’s not where you are leaving from,

what you are distancing from,

it is arriving at your destination,

the next step along the way

that you put there, you visualize,

 –

down to cobble streets

and brightly painted neon walls.

It needs to be strong enough to smell it,

like a rack of polle simmering on a spit,

cool enough to taste it,

a frosted mug of cerveza dusting the lips.

We are all in this together,

the journey being what we are blessed with,

whether we see it that way or not.

 

We are all thinking the same thoughts,

it is how we interpret them.

 

We are all seeing the same thing

it is how we perceive it.

 

We are all saying the same thing

it is how we choose to hear it.

 

Meandering through the village

of our choice, side by side,

it’s all about how we choose to live in it,

temporarily.

The photography focuses on Lake Chapala and the surrounding villages that include Ajijic, Chapala, Jocotepec an so much more.  In addition to my pics many have been contributed by Antonio Ramblés  . Visit Antonio Ramblés travels blog at www.antoniorambles.com

Haiku Moments “Cataiku”

Cataiku - photo by author

Cataiku – photo by author

 

Animals roam freely here in the village.  They are pets and pests, and side by side companions, working and playing in an integrated daily mix. They are an accepted part of life, not just an addendum to the environment.

 

 

Haiku moments

Cats rule the garden,

a three ring circus

a spring awakening

felines rising with the birds:

life never sleeps in

the old cat dreaming –

in the garden the kittens

play with butterflies

contemplating lunch

cat attack, poised, statuesque –

a tattered end of a rope

eat, sleep, frolic

cats accept life as it is

just another day

winter wind debris

cats chasing after dry leaves

curiosity

tabby tolerates

wanting a little loving

it’s universal

hummingbirds

wishful thinking

feline brain freeze

morning stillness

a one legged grasshopper

the cats are bored

The photography focuses on Lake Chapala and the surrounding villages that include Ajijic, Chapala, Jocotepec an so much more.  In addition to my pics many have been contributed by Antonio Ramblés  . Visit Antonio Ramblés travels blog at www.antoniorambles.com

Footprints in the Dust

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

Days are what you make them, so after the cats are fed, the coffee savored, and the Hibiscus has opened its petals to embrace the sun, it is time for a walk through the village.

 

Dawn lay in bed this morning

as if not wanting to get up,

the earth turning on a breeze;

            still lake, still mountain.

As the sun yawns awake,

I linger under the covers until the rooster,

his call the sound of turning the key

while the motors running,

stops to gargle,

my neighbor Maria

starts the laundry machine,

and I am beckoned

by the seductive aroma of coffee.

 –

Above the garden wall,

beyond the bougainvillea,

royal palms dancing in a wind created

by the feeding frenzy of swallows.

The full moon almost visible to the touch,

hangs around as the morning sun

climbs the mountains;

two old friends passing,

and caught in-between,

the fisherman’s day has just begun.

DSCN3966

Photo by Author

Leaving my flowered canopy

 I saunter quietly past garments

 hanging onto barbwire fences and rooftops,

 soiled moments and colors fading in the sun

only to be greeted with the morning revelry;

the tires on the carretera sounding

like waves lapping the lake shore,

God’s alarm clock calling the faithful,

a mixed bag of fiesta and bustle.

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

 After La Lluvia, a tropical tease

 when the mountains were dressed in colors

 of hand-woven shawls and bright sequined  skirts,

 dry season dressed in peasant garb

 made an entrance with dust on its’ tongue,

 and stripped to bare bone.

Cool mornings exit

when shadows go silent.

Photo by Author

Photo by Author

Fishermen row back to shore

when half day is done,

trailing white pelicans.

In the afternoon heat.

I pass by my neighbors

resting in the shade

their sombrero’s tethered in dust.

In this thirsty landscape,

gnawed to the bone,

life is nourished on a blade of grass.

 

In a slow tango heat burns day away,

evening simmers.

Returning to mi casa, Los Bobos

foolishly dance over dry birdbaths,

the smell of polle on a spit,

a warm breeze combing the bougainvillea,

reverberating rockets

chasing the evil spirits away.

Across the glazed Lake Chapala,

at the feet of the Sierras,

the villages turn on their lights;

fallen stars.

End of day, all season have their way,

a child at play,

a lover’s warm embrace,

a fall from grace,

and in the season of saints,

for every heartbeat,

at last,

a place to sleep.

The photography focuses on Lake Chapala and the surrounding villages that include Ajijic, Chapala, Jocotepec an so much more.  In addition to my pics many have been contributed by Antonio Ramblés  . Visit Antonio Ramblés travels blog at www.antoniorambles.com

Señor Bag Man

"Angel" photo by author

“Angel” photo by author

Whether one lives high on the mountain side with a view that takes your breath away, or in a hovel under a tin roof in a dark corner of the same world, you are treated with respect.  It is the foundation of this community, how we live together harmoniously.

 

Señor Bag Man

 

The long shadow has an attitude all its own,

the audacity that comes from knowing the path,

no tale to drag along, no cumbersome baggage,

nothing but the sun on the Bag Man’s back.

Idly mapping his morning destination, as if the day,

after slipping out from beneath a blanket of stars,

had nowhere to go in a hurry.

 –

In search of whatever the Universe sends his way,

prepared for the hunt with an armful of plastic bags,

he pauses momentarily, and poses for the camera,

the ci-devant mayor on a red carpet, standing

a world away, across a mote of cobblestones.

Serenely comfortable in his own skin, Maître de

of this exquisite village, steadfast, commanding.

 

It seems we were destined to end up mirroring

the one thing we have in common; searching for

whatever comes along. That preeminent smile,

that spunky airborne chin, knowing what’s left

on the ground, after I pass by, is his for the taking.

I bet Bag Man you’d fare well in a throwaway

society, a numero uno rag-and-bone man,

wandering around the moment, listening

to the rhythm of the bandos playing in your mind,

while I, a magpie hording broken dreams,

observe in silence.

 –

He doesn’t know what he’s missed: smog, asthma,

black rain, the exhaust of society eating itself alive.

I bet he doesn’t know or care that the epic battle

between good and evil has been lost

to the squabbling of have and have nots.

 

 Who’s the rabbit? Who’s the hare?

 

 You’ve no need to go there, do you Senor Bag Man?

The sweet smell of fresh air combing your beard,

living in a world where windows and doors

are open portals to whatever the day brings.

 

The silent observer, roguishly taunting life’s tourist;

and I, the usurper, the cutter ant, seeking

understanding from the rear end of a camera,

while posing just for you.

 

Where were you when I needed you?  When I

slugged along littered streets, aimlessly looking

for something to pick up and hold onto?

 –

Had I known of this cobblestone environment

where saying hello, pausing to be recognized,

is a natural celebration of acceptance,

it would not have taken me so long to learn

that all I have ever really needed

was to share a moment with the Bag Man,

 

and all that I have ever searched for, consumed

and discarded, was no more than scraps of life

to fill an empty plastic bag.

The photography focuses on Lake Chapala and the surrounding villages that include Ajijic, Chapala, Jocotepec an so much more.  In addition to my pics many have been contributed by Antonio Ramblés  . Visit Antonio Ramblés travels blog at www.antoniorambles.com

Sunup till Sundown

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

 

No one is old here until it is time to rest, for retirement is the pause before afterlife kicks in.  Men, women and the tools of their trade rattle and hum till the day is done, and earn their day in the sun.

 

Sunup till sundown

men and their maquinaria

dreaming of twilight

 –

 

the battered and bruised garbage truck

clamors along the cobbled street:

cats burrow in bougainvillea,

birds scatter, dogs whine,

until the rattle and snort

moves on to pasture

a daily blood sport

this collection plate of refuse

this rumbling rubble of a beast

I imagine

the toro embolado

saved from the estocada

 

having survived the ring,

retirement,

to sire a bevy of bovines

The photography focuses on Lake Chapala and the surrounding villages that include Ajijic, Chapala, Jocotepec an so much more.  In addition to my pics many have been contributed by Antonio Ramblés  . Visit Antonio Ramblés travels blog at www.antoniorambles.com

 

We Met in Passing

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

The Day of the Dead is a celebration of loved ones, no longer with us.  Here it is a time of remembrance of all things good about lives shared; here death is a part of life.

 

We met in passing

spring blossoms forgetfulness

even loved plants die

– 

 The moment dreams turn into memories,

memories turn to dust

in the mind

 –

After the death rattle,

the sound of memories fading,

all meaning left behind

 

The empty carcass

carried over cobblestones

carried past the fading senses

of old men sitting

on white plastic chairs,

remembering

Bread, salt, water,

essence consumed

after entering the underworld

With the passing seasons

who will lay down

the path of petals

when no one

is left to remember

The photography focuses on Lake Chapala and the surrounding villages that include Ajijic, Chapala, Jocotepec an so much more.  In addition to my pics many have been contributed by Antonio Ramblés  . Visit Antonio Ramblés travels blog at www.antoniorambles.com

Dia de la Madre

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

 

The elderly and mothers are two pedestals that stand, uncompromised, as the natural order of life in the village. No longer universal in the celebration of life, but here it is the way it is.

Dia de la Madre

full of a lust for all life

full of children’s dreams

 

  

Madre

is everyone’s

reason for being,

well past sunset

Madre dances

in celebración

everyone takes turns

the words change,

the rhythm repeats itself

all in joyful noise,

and laughter

all too brief this day

celebrating

Madre

Why not every day?

The photography focuses on Lake Chapala and the surrounding villages that include Ajijic, Chapala, Jocotepec an so much more.  In addition to my pics many have been contributed by Antonio Ramblés  . Visit Antonio Ramblés travels blog at www.antoniorambles.com

Making a Living

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

Whatever it takes, a lesson each and every one should learn in youth.  Here it is a natural way of making it through the day, and providing the essentials for the family.

Making a living

not what it is all about

familia comes first

 

Car Jockeys

with the patience

of a toothless smile, idling

on the next Senorita to shimmer by.

Curb lawyers,

hustling empty parking spaces.

Matadors waving red rags

on a paved plaza de toros,

sweeping the sidewalks

for loose change:

            all in a day’s work.

 –

In the stands, familia

waiting for an ear or two:

            if it comes it comes.

 –

In another world,

bereft of the dignity of purpose—

driftwood waiting on the tide.

The photography focuses on Lake Chapala and the surrounding villages that include Ajijic, Chapala, Jocotepec an so much more.  In addition to my pics many have been contributed by Antonio Ramblés  . Visit Antonio Ramblés travels blog at www.antoniorambles.com

Seasons blend together

 

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

Photo by Antonio Ramblés

Seasons here move along like a musical score, the highs and lows, crescendos and diminuendos, but always in a melody that soothes the spirit and stimulates the heart.

Seasons blend together

nothing is the same, and yet

everything remains

 

Each passing season’s yesterday,

like footsteps in the sand,

makes an impression

then washed into the sea of memory.

 

Too early even

for the blue mockingbird’s song.

Universal spring, born on the same day

as snowdrops and jacaranda blossoms,

anxiously simmers

while daylight is still percolating,

 –

and the Sierra Madres dressed in grey mist,

wait for the sun

to disrobe them,

baring the backbone of Mexico.

 –

Death is all that it is made out to be,

a means to an end,

and so winter’s last breath:

anxiously waiting for the end

to begin again in the arms of Aurora.

Some say there are no seasons here,

just a variation on a theme,

of what blossoms day to day,

where the sun comes up in the morning,

and how long it stays.

The photography focuses on Lake Chapala and the surrounding villages that include Ajijic, Chapala, Jocotepec an so much more.  In addition to my pics many have been contributed by Antonio Ramblés  . Visit Antonio Ramblés travels blog at www.antoniorambles.com

 

No Comparison

Photo by Author

Photo by Author

Wealth and subsistence live side by side sharing the luxury of what has been described as Paradise.  Neighbors permanent and temporary, each sitting in the driver’s seat travelling nowhere in particular on any given day, no comparison to the world a million miles away.

 

No comparison

born to eat dust, paradise

maybe, for someone

 

 

In expectation of the heat

already simmering over a dry crusted domain,

Grandfather has little of nothing

            but paradise, compared to

the gringos stuck in traffic on a congestive

and hectic way to paying for the day.

 –

Ruling the roost on a white plastic throne,

straw hat leaning on his nose, 

he savors his cup of coffee.

The news and weather

in the cock’s gravely plea,

trumpeting the morning sunrise,

while the warm palm of sunlight

caresses Lake Chapala, cockled

only by the serenade

            of the fisherman’s paddle.

– 

Fingertips of light, airily slip off

the nightgown worn by the Sierra Madres

skirting the edges of his world.  A cuckold’s

seductive invitation to rise

and live another day in another nest,

never entering his mind.

 –

For contentment is the knowing

his morning’s commute is communion

with a world that circulates in his veins,

 –

and rush hour is the pumping of his heart

in rhythm of another day passing,

            sitting in the driver’s seat.

The photography focuses on Lake Chapala and the surrounding villages that include Ajijic, Chapala, Jocotepec an so much more.  In addition to my pics many have been contributed by Antonio Ramblés  . Visit Antonio Ramblés travels blog at www.antoniorambles.com