Friday, 25 November 2011


Happy Thanksgiving to all; I hope you ate lots of turkey, or if you are vegetarian, then...whatever you ate for Thanksgiving, I hope you ate plenty of it. Days like Thanksgiving make me appreciate how hard it would be to give up meat. As for Black Friday...I hope no one was injured/trampled this year. Once again, people amaze me. Not in a good way. Shopping at three in the morning? Who does that? Plenty of people, but that's beside the point. Whether you went shopping or not, I hope your Thanksgiving weekend has been good. Mine was scrumptious. And now for our feature presentation.

Country and rock,
guitar tinged with mariachi trumpets
three weeks atop the charts
forever associated with another life--
a yellow room
warm summer breezes
through my west-facing window.
evenings spent at the ballfields
the smell of a leather glove
and Kenny Chesney on the radio,
with the windows down
on the way home.
As these simple recollections pour from my headphones,
for a few minutes
it is easy to believe
that the straw fedora atop my head
is a cowboy hat.

As I was on my way home from a football game earlier tonight, the song "Beer in Mexico" (great song, I know) came up on my iPod. This song, which did in fact spend three weeks atop the country charts during the spring of 2007, always reminds me of summer evenings in my hometown spent playing baseball or softball and listening to the radio in my bedroom with the widows open. Needless to say, upon hearing this song, I was inspired to write this poem. I really was wearing a fedora. 

Monday, 12 September 2011

Never Forget

Ashes in a cloudless sky
a smoke signal for tragedy.
It started out an average morning
commuters, traffic
No one could guess 
that some would not go through this routine again tomorrow morning.
flew through the phone lines
across screens
over P.A. systems.
But so did hope and comfort.
Though it was a day of terrible sorrow
and apprehension,
it would become solidarity
and loyalty.
The broken towers 
broke our hearts that day, 
and thought it hurts,
we will never forget.

Author's Note:
I was a little kid when the attacks of September 11th, 2001 shook our nation at her roots. I didn't really understand what had happened until much later. The one thing I will never forget is coming home from school and seeing the footage on television: the stark contrast of the billowing smoke, flame and ashes in the bright blue sky. A year later, at 8:46 a.m. on the one-year anniversary of the attacks, the principal came on the P.A. system at school and declared a moment of silence at the time the first plane hit the tower. 9/11/01 was the day many of us realized just how fragile life is, and how much we should value our lives and freedom. It saddens me terribly to remember how much loss of life it took for us to realize that. The victims and heroes of 9/11, especially those in the World Trade Center, American Airlines flights 11 and 77, and United Airlines flights 93 and 175,  will never be forgotten. May they rest in peace  and may God bless all of us.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Assorted Items of a Random Nature

 On the left is a honeybee doing his job at the Pittsburgh Zoo. The photo on the right is the spines of a bedazzled Stegosaurus in Pittsburgh's PPG Place.

Left: a tilted view of some of the Gothic architecture in the Commons Room in the Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh campus. Below: a white-cheeked gibbon at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

At left is a chandelier in the French Room of the Cathedral of Learning. Below is a photo from a couple years ago of a raindrop hanging from a Japanese maple in my backyard.

Left: my own interpretation of the haughty Narcissa Malfoy, before we saw her in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Below is the main Harry Potter trio as they escape spectacularly from Gringotts Bank on the back of a dragon.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Remember Claire

It is with terrible sorrow that I must write this, but on June 8th, 2011, my friend Claire passed away. Despite her short life of only 15 years, she had many friends and made a huge impact on many people's lives. Even in her sickness and untimely death, she brought so many people closer to each other and to God. On Tuesday and Wednesday night, her friends and family filled the hospital chapel at our local hospital to pray for her and her family. I was touched and inspired that such hardship can bring out such compassion and solidarity in people. We will all miss Claire.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Pray for Claire

Anyone who happens to read this, please pray for my friend Claire. She is currently battling leukemia and is on life support as I type this. The past three days have been extremely bizarre, with ups and downs every so often. We know that whatever happens, God has a plan, but please pray for her recovery, for her family who is with her at this time, and for her friends who are praying that she stays strong and keeps fighting. Thanks, everyone.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

In Anticipation

A homemade poster for
Deathly Hallows Part 1
(hence the November date)

This is a short piece I wrote for a fanfiction contest on The Leaky Cauldron, a Harry Potter fansite. The prompt was to describe Albus Potter's (Harry's son) first meeting with Peeves, the school poltergeist, who has a reputation for causing trouble whenever possible. In anticipation of the new (and last) movie coming out in July, I have edited and posted this story. Enjoy.

Albus Meets Peeves

            Al was weaving his way through the maze of corridors in Hogwarts castle, trying to find his way to his next class, Defense Against the Dark Arts. Suddenly, a loud, rude, cackle interrupted the usual hum of students chatting in the halls. He looked up to see none other than Peeves, the school poltergeist that his father had warned him about on Platform Nine and Three Quarters a few days before. Students all around him ducked in mid-step as Peeves swooped at their heads, whooping delightedly at the startled looks on their faces.
            Spotting Al, Peeves dived at his face, causing him to drop his books, quills, parchment, and ink, which splattered all over his books and onto the floor.
            “Hahahaha! First years!!” cackled Peeves, “Ickle firsties…lost on their way to class! Ooooooh, going to be late, you are!” Laughing evilly, he grabbed some of Al’s quills and started throwing them like darts at his back as he stooped to pick up his things. Just then, Professor Binns, the History of Magic teacher, and Hogwarts’ only ghost teacher, came floating down the corridor, looking far from his usual bored appearance.
            “PEEVES!!!” he screeched in his slightly wheezing voice, while the students below marveled at the presence of this new expression on his face. “What is the meaning of this??”
            “The meaning of what, professor?” Peeves said slyly, inflecting the last word with as much scorn as possible.
            “Those--those--things I found on my desk this morning! I suppose you think it’s funny, don’t you, you and your silly little pranks, putting rocks on my desk that start swearing every time I begin talking, in the full knowledge that I, being a ghost, cannot pick them up! Oh hello,” said Professor Binns, noticing Al finally. “and who might you be?”
            “Er--Albus, Albus Potter, sir.” Al said, a bit overwhelmed by the scene.
            “Aaaaahhh…named, I presume, after the late Albus Dumbledore, one of Hogwarts’ greatest headmasters? A most honorable man…” Binns seemed to drift off at this statement, into his long past. Getting ahold of himself, he said suddenly, “And speaking of headmasters, Peeves, I shall be speaking to the headmistress about you! And the Bloody Baron, if I can find him,” and floated away down the corridor muttering to himself.
            As Al bent down once again to retrieve his books, Peeves resumed launching his quills at him. Al was given a moment's respite as Peeves was distracted by one of the prefects, who was rushing along looking anxious. Leaving Al to rummage on the floor for his books, Peeves seized two of his quills and started firing them at his new target. Relieved, Al haphazardly shoved his books into his bag and hurried off to class, hoping that the professor wouldn’t notice him walk in a few minutes late. As he rushed as fast as possible towards the classroom, he began wracking his brains for a valid excuse in case his teacher spotted him. But when he reached the door of the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, it swung open to meet him and he nearly collided with--
            “Al! I wondered when you would get here!” Harry Potter said, smiling down at his youngest son.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Neon Black

Bright black
stands out against the fuchsias, limes, and violent oranges.
What is a violent orange?
Is it a color?
Or an unusually belligerent fruit?
Are zebras white with black stripes--
or black with white stripes?
are violent oranges.
But the peaceful satsumas
reside in my refrigerator.
What does the food do when the door closes?
Are oranges violent?
What happens
in the neon blackness?

* * *

Once again, another long gap between posts...writer's block? Scheduling? A little of both, really. A question that haunts me, while on the subject of colors: Does everyone see colors the same way, or do different people call different colors "green," "blue," "yellow," etc.? What if I see strawberries as red, and someone else sees them as purple, but calls them red? We were taught our colors when we were small children....If one person's green is another person's purple, how do we manage to color-coordinate? I take this to mean that we all really do see the same colors--if we didn't, I can guarantee the fashion industry would never have gotten off the ground. If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

Friday, 4 March 2011

Farewell, Borders

To my readers, I apologize for my monthlong absence from my blog. It's been a busy month. Some of you have probably heard that Borders is closing about 1/3 of its stores since filing for bankruptcy. One of these unfortunate stores is located in my town, and is one of the main places where I bought books. It was also much more convenient than Barnes & Noble, which we had to go all the way across town in order to visit. The one thing about the closing that I do enjoy: liquidation sale! Needless to say, I took advantage of that and bought two interesting-looking books: Mudbound and My Name is Asher Lev. Neither of which I have read, due to my rather lengthy reading list. But now it is time to pay my respects to my local Borders. Hopefully whatever store moves into their space is worth going to.

Oh Borders!
You carpeted, bookshelf-filled store of bliss,
your countless tomes the abode of imagination,
your wooden bookshelves filled with endless curiosities.
To walk in your door was to enter a different world;
I was Lucy and you were my Narnia.
Oh, to get lost in the pages of prose,
paperbacks and hardcovers,
oblivious to everything but the books.
But, like every journey through the magical wardrobe,
it all must end.
No longer shall I wander through your smorgasbord of summer reading,
hunting for that priceless treasure.
Farewell, Borders.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Think Warm Thoughts

"...Harry had no idea where Dumbledore went during his summer holidays. He amused himself for a moment, picturing Dumbledore, with his long silver beard, full-length wizard's robes, and pointed hat, stretched out on a beach somewhere, rubbing suntan lotion onto his long crooked nose."
--Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Even Dumbledore needs a vacation.

I'm attempting to think warm thoughts as an impending "blizzard" is buffeted our way. Not nearly as harsh as a true northern blizzard, I'm sure, but to us, a foot of snow is a lot. As much of a travel hazard as it is, I do love the sound of sleet coming down against the house. It's almost like rain in the summer....