Been Awhile

A poem from a darker time, how wonderful it is to be free

It’s been a while
Since you’ve hurt me this badly
It was just a matter of time sadly
When I needed you, you weren’t here
You were out with friends drinking beer
And more? How will I ever know?
I guess it wasn’t even that long ago
That you blew me off and blew someone else
Then made me feel the fault was in myself
So talented at making me the bad guy
While you have fun and roll so high
All the while blaming me for your deeds
Leaving me with my unfulfilled needs
Then mocking me for the feelings I have
Holding my broken heart as you laugh
And spit in my face while I cry
Hurting me to the point I’d rather die

The Blood Canal

My children did a little exploring around the canal behind my house and came home with a dramatic story about what they believe happened there. My youngest just wrote his own “scary story” about it for his class. Here’s my synopsis.

Behind my house, a canal runs full of water in spring and summer and littered with rocks and debris in fall and winter. It feeds the many crops and trees that grow in the exceptionally fertile valley of Central California. While large numbers benefit from its cool waters, it seems at least one succumbed to its darker nature.

A simple bike ride turned into a bit of adventure as we descended the rocky slopes of the canal to the nearly dry bed below. The only water that remained from the season of irrigation was pooled in shallow parts. Rocks lined the bed and made walking treacherous. We were not deterred however and explored in spite of the danger.

We found little besides aluminum cans and other garbage strewn about, as well as some broken fishing lines from folks who sought to catch a tasty fish up the stream. Until, that is, we noticed a dark red color on many of the rock in one spot.

What could have been the source of the stain? We investigated further and noticed that the stain was even somewhat sticky. We gasped as we all at once concluded that it was blood. We looked about as if someone were observing the scene but no one was near. We searched the spot further and found even more of the alleged blood. It even appeared to lead away towards a clump of trees.

We debated for a few minutes whether to merely run away home or to investigate some more, and our curious nature prevailed; urging us to see what else we might find.

At that moment some other bikers came along the edge of the canal and we rushed to some brush to conceal us. Breathing quickly, we struggled to remain still and quiet as a pair of men rode quickly past us, and we did not detect any sign that they were aware of our lurking.

Alone once more, we continued up the opposite shore towards the trees. Nearby, we discovered a rope that was tied in a way that could have rendered it a noose.

Now our imaginations were running quite wild. Blood and now a noose? Surely this was a crime scene of sorts. Our legs wanted to carry us to safety but our curiosity sent us onward. The trees were only a few yards away after all.

There were four very overgrown and old ash trees that stood like old men huddled together and stooping over from age. We moved towards them and found broken boards and other bits of wood. But what did that mean?

We picked many of the pieces up then tried to sort them out like a puzzle. We found even more boards nailed to the trees themselves. It did not take us long to determine that the boards likely formed a treehouse at one time. But whose?

Only one more clue could add to our case. We discovered an old, deflated soccer ball, faded on one side and nearly flat. It was hidden in the grass beneath the remnant of the treehouse. What did it all mean?

Obviously there was only one answer! Clearly there was some murder committed there. No doubt a boy who loved soccer and his tree house was hanged by some madman and then his body dumped into the canal! All the clues pointed to this alone!

Being in the presence of the scene of a homicide was far too much for us, so we raced back to our bikes, gathered them up, then sped home before we too were victims of the blood canal!

Once home of course, reason set it. We discussed the events and the things we found and after much debate, it was agreed that we probably took a collection of unrelated bits of evidence and facts and formed an entire story around them. Much as any author does.

Even though we created an entire fiction in the so called blood canal that day, I still wonder what the real nature of the stain on the rocks, the rope, the broken treehouse and the deflated soccer ball, were. Because as we all know, often truth is stranger than fiction.

Childhood innocence

In this time, during which my children and I are stuck at home, I was recently reflecting on the wonder of childhood. It isn’t really odd that we cherish that time and the children around us. In many ways they have a much better world than ours. Theirs is innocent.

I marvel at how simple things can be for them. They wake up. They play. they laugh. They love.; all with their full heart. Sure, they are driving me nuts as I try to teach them in our little “home school” situation right now, but at the end of the day, I’m thrilled that they can continue to enjoy life in a way that adults find difficult.

Adults worry too damn much. We fret over everything. We overthink things. We suffer from anxiety and depression and a variety of other, mostly self inflicted, conditions. Children seem so much freer than us in many ways. It’s no wonder we celebrate them so.

Do they make a mess? Constantly. Do they whine sometimes and complain about things? Of course. It is brutal trying to get them to do their school work from home? Oh yeah. But still, when they give you a hug and tell you how much they love you, it is difficult to not just melt and release all that frustration.

I also loved coaching youth soccer. It was so much fun. They were so hilarious. I loved playing little soccer related games and encouraging them and cheering them on. Their faces light up when they do something good and you celebrate them and I will forever remember those feelings. I even had a child kick the ball into our goal, but he was so excited about seeing the ball go in the net I just cheered for him and gave him a high five anyways. No need to steal his joy; better to let him have it.

So, in a time of anxiety, uncertainty and fear, I take some comfort in the innocence of children. Their in the moment attitudes and joyful hearts give me plenty of hope when it is in short supply. Oh to feel what they feel once more. Sadly, once innocence is lost, it can never be regained.

Maddy’s Birthday Poem 2020

I cannot believe how time flies

And not a day goes by

That I don’t love you, daughter

Another year older you grew

Continue to confirm what I knew

How wonderful you are, daughter

You’re so insightful and clever

And I doubted you never

That you were so smart, daighter

You’re growing into a woman now

And it shouldn’t shock me how

Beautiful you have become, daughter

But smarts and beauty aside

What’s even a greater prize

Is your loving spirit, daughter

Continue going on your way

Ignore what any doubters say

You’re stronger than they know, daughter

No matter your adventure

There are none who are prouder

Than I, your loving father.