Grandpa’s Blocks

So, when my Mom was little,
There used to be this huge tree.
Fallen branches her dad would whittle -
This is way before there was a ‘me.’

Grandpa Lonn, he was a carpenter -
And taught like that kid from Galilee;
With the Word of God and lumber -
Passed on from he, to she, to me.

Media followed a witch hunting senator’s Red Menace dialogue -
As I popped into this world; an unsuspecting baby boy born with a tooth.
Grandpa bragged it took an O’Rourke to knock McCarthy the demagogue
Off the front-page news as my birth announcement took front page roost!

That tree that same blustery November,
Illinois lightning stabbed it in the heart.
But Grandpa was a carpenter remember,
Saving the fallen tree for a new start.

He taught in parables, “There’s no such thing as scrap wood,”
And in his workshop he kept a big box, what he called his “To Be” bin -
“What do you see in the wood’s grains?” stretched my mind good,
As my eyes watched his hands breathe life into the discarded again.

He’d write my imagined answers upon the scraps needing releases,
And I’d go back to Hinsdale eager for our next long drive to visit.
Where I’d receive a train, a dog, a horse, or a gun with moving pieces -
Grandpa’s carved homemade toys were the perfect travel ticket.

I pulled a branch from the bin as he told me of the tree,
Which the little me could tell he loved lots.
And just it was a few trips later when he gave to me,
This little boy’s box of beloved blocks.

Simplistically he forged from that tree pieces an inch by an inch by four inches -
Then spent long hours by his woodstove hand-sanding so as not to splinter.
Domino style toppling lines, pre-Jenga tumbling towers, and long bridges -
This only child’s mind created so much in the many, many years since that winter.

Then the lifecycle circle with typical moves and countless changes in my life -
I didn’t care what my age or how small my home for I’d never part with those old blocks.
Visions of Grandpa in coveralls by the woodstove pulling out his whittling knife -
You just can’t buy such love or memories in fancy malls with all their shops.

My seventeen-month-old Grandson came over to play -
Nervously so did my fifty-year-old blocks Grandpa had made.
Noah and I formed lines to topple and built towers tall that day -
Atop the coffee table that I’d built, love and blocks did cascade.

God and the Universe placed a tiny seed upon the wind -
From who knows where to birth a tree in Decatur, Illinois.
My Grandfolks and Mom’s siblings saw this tree sway in the wind -
Before it came in a new life as beloved blocks to this wee boy.

Packing for our cross country move from the Land of Lincoln,
Sadly, my Aunt Jean said I had to leave my Grandpa’s blocks behind.
It seemed what fit in our old Comet was all we were bringing;
So, hid below the back seat under MY behind the blocks arrived.

Windy Illinois, dry Arizona and now the last frontier Alaska -
To share memories and stretch a mind is quite a bill.
From Grandpa Lonn via PoPo rather than Santa -
To pass Grandpa’s blocks on to Noah was quite a thrill.

It was Joyce Kilmer who in prose did evoke
Wisely sharing with us that, “only God can make a tree.”
Now I thank God for that specific fallen Oak -
Cuz only God could make a Grandpa PoPo out of me.

Fire and Rain Prayer

So God – I know I do not chat with you enough, and often I fail to listen enough. Often you hear me at your door with some kind of problem but this time my knocking goes beyond my needs.

I have friends like Roland Dezentje, Randy Wayne White, and Patricia Frappier in the wake of water – and across our country, friends like Peter Sherayko, Rob Word, and Cindy Landon seated near searing smoke.

In failing to listen, perhaps these horrific threats are our doing. So I ask for greater consciousness that we take better care of our earth, and each other in these storms and fires.

And I pray for you to listen to us of all faiths and all fashions of prayer, meditation and visualisation – please smother the fires and quell the storms. Please keep faith — in us.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.