All posts by Jim

Willie Nod and the Duck

i wrote at the very first of 1981 just before i flew to Honolulu with Captain Bruce Brunn, USMC, both staff members of Commander, Amphibious Group Five to plan the Hawaii exercises with the composite Marine Air Group and the Marine Landing Force who would board our ships in Pearl Harbor, and after the exercises proceed to the Western Pacific.

It was the year i spent ten months either going to and from or out there, way out there. i loved it, but as i was leaving i was sad about leaving my daughter Blythe and wrote this for her.

Ducks seem to drift in and out of my life. When JD Waits and i were writing our still unpublished leadership book, The Pretty Good Management Book, JD came up with the title of one chapter, “Never Take a Duck to a Cockfight Expecting to Win.” Every time i read “duck,” i think about Willie Nod or JD’s duck.

Willie Nod and the Duck

Willie Nod and this duck got together.
It was a most improbable place where they met:
No pond of water was within miles.
They quacked together for a while
(Willie had learned quacking
On a farm several years before).
They discovered, Willie and the duck,
They had a lot in common.
Willie had lost
All of his other animal friends
Because he moved around so much.
The duck couldn’t tell seasons very well;
All the other ducks in his flock
Had flown off and left him
One spring day.
The duck didn’t mind moving either.
So Willie Nod and this duck got together,
Which is right back where we started.

They were walking down this long flat road
In New Mexico in the summer.
The duck still couldn’t tell seasons.
Willie Nod spoke to his friend,
Quacking of course,
“Duck, do all the things in the world
Seem silly to you?”
Duck replied,
“A little sad perhaps,
“And always funny,
“But never silly.”
In spite of not being able to tell seasons,
He was a wise duck.
Willie Nod and this duck
Were together for a long time
Although the duck couldn’t tell
That it was a long time
For ducks tell time
By the passing of the seasons,
And now we all know
This duck’s problem in that area.
Then one day in autumn,
The duck quacked to Willie Nod,
In his own peculiar way of quacking,
“I’m feeling a chill.
“I do believe my season-telling is coming back.
“I think I’ll fly north.”
Some ducks can never get it completely right.

Willie Nod tried to convince the duck
He still didn’t have season-telling quite right yet,
He should wait
A couple of more seasons.
Duck quacked, wisely again,
“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
“It may not be right for everyone else,
“But you know when it’s right for you,
“And if you don’t do it then,
“You may never get the chance again.”
With that, the duck took wing,
Flying north on that cold fall day.
Willie remembered the duck’s words
As he watched his flight for the last time:
“A little sad perhaps,
“And always funny,
“But never silly.”


Willie Nod and the Geese

Willie Nod and the Geese

Willie Nod was on the eastern seaboard
traveling as Willie Nod was prone to do
more often than not.
Gray November, blustery Thanksgiving eve winds
buffeted against Willie Nod’s wool clothes.
Willie Nod liked the layers of wool clothes:
he felt snug.

As the winds blew, Willie Nod looked up to the gray, close sky.
a small gaggle of geese, seven or so, he figured,
flew low in their formation of vee
heading into the wind, dead south beeline
as they were prone to do,
in November’s gray-slated skies,
much as Willie Nod was prone to travel.

Willie Nod spoke duck and rabbit
but had not much luck with camel,
so he thought he would try goose
quacked to the low flying vee
in a variation of duck.

Surprisingly, the vee veered off its course;
the gaggle rolled over in unison,
banking back toward Willie Nod,
dispersing the vee,
flappingly landing around.
Once aground, they crowded around Willie Nod.

“Hi,” the closest and largest goose honked to Willie Nod in goose.
Willie Nod recognized the difference between duck and goose.
Soon they were all honking in goose about pretty much everything.
The geese told Willie Nod a lot.
They wondered why humans considered them to be noble.
“After all,” they honked,
“We mate for life,
“Tend to each other,
“Take turns at the point of the vee,
“Not because it’s extra right or noble.
“It’s just the way we are.”

Willie Nod noted that it was still rather nice
the world would be much better off if
humans acted more like geese,
although he did admit
the noise might become unbearable if humans honked instead of talked.

The eight geese nodded, bobbing their heads in agreement.

Finally, they noted it was time to be on their way again.

“South, i know,” Willie Nod observed.
“but where south?” he asked.

“Honduras,” the fattest goose replied.
“We use to winter in Florida,” he explained,
“but the old people fed us too much and we got too fat,
so we found this lovely lake up in the Honduran mountains
where people don’t come round very much.”

The geese rose flapping and honking,
quickly forming their vee in the gray sky,
heading south with an occasional good-bye
honk to Willie Nod.

Willie Nod watch the vee
get small in the southern sky and
mumbled to himself,
“Sad that geese don’t get to spend time
in deep snow,
or feel snug in layers of wool clothing.”


A Labor of Love

Sometimes i feel extremely lucky being old and regret i didn’t appreciate my past when i was younger. i was also lucky in that i began to appreciate my past when my father and mother would travel to the Southwest corner to spend a month or more with us to miss the harsher time of winter back home in Lebanon. They began that annual sojourn in 1986. My father was 72, my mother was 69. We shared many tales of our and Lebanon’s past for fifteen winters.

i don’t think most younger folks really understand the beauty and worth of family memories. i certainly didn’t. After all,  i had things like the Navy, three wives, two daughters, and many other distractions. And of course, they were old fogies and my generation knew how to save the world and themselves. Even though it didn’t happen. It seems the following generations are faring no better and perhaps worse in learning from their predecessors.

But who knows? i am too old to worry about it. i will just keep writing and talking about memories and my lessons learned and hope some of them will take just a little bit, maybe on anecdote to make the young’uns  lives a little better.

i usually post old photos in Facebook albums, primarily as an easy way to make the photos accessible to a wide array of relatives from both sides of the Jewell-Prichard family. Hopefully, family will appreciate the past and my using my post to share family memories.

But these photos are a bit special to me. You see, about sixteen years ago, my parents made their last fifth wheel run to the Southwest corner to miss the harshest part of winter in Tennessee. They began that tradition in 1985 and ceased making the trip in 2001, three years shy of my father’s ninetieth birthday. On this particular trip, one or two before they gave it up, a photo album was created. It was a compilation of old Jewell and Prichard photographs. What is really special about it is Maureen and my mother worked on it together.

i can see them putting it together. The descriptions of the folks in the photos written to the side is Maureen’s handwriting. i can see them taking each photo out of one of the cardboard boxes we have kept to organize all of our photos together. i can almost hear my mother telling Maureen a story behind each of the photos as they slide them into the plastic sheaths to protect them.

So when i look at the photos, i not only see some slices of history from our past, but i see these two women, so special to me, working on the project. Maureen and Estelle Jewell had a wonderful relationship. They truly loved each other and enjoyed each other’s company. It was always a great pleasure to watch them together.

There are lot of photographs here. i almost stopped several times. My inability to do proper layouts in WordPress is discouraging. But there was a stubbornness that overcame me and i was determined to finish. Maybe a bit of Estelle Jewell wore off on me. The captions here are mine.

And every time i look at the album or this post, i will think of the love these two shared. And i will be happy.

Again, i apologize for the layout.

So here are the photos:

My cousin, Johnny Orr, just before i was born in 1943
Uncle Pipey, James Orr, with me in front of our home on Castle Heights Avenue, 1944.
Aunt Evelyn, mother of Johnny and Nancy, wife to Pipey.










Cousin Jon, nee Johnny Orr on the Webster farm on North Cumberland.
Cousins, 1945






Three cousins, again, 1945.
Cousins, 1944.






Granny (Katherine Webster Prichard with three grandchildren, 1945.



Cousins, 1946.









The Orrs, Red Bank (Chattanooga), 1958




Uncle Pipey, Aunt Evelyn, and Jon, 1966.





Jim with the Winklers, Jay, Nancy, Kathy, and Johnny in Cocoa Beach, 1973(?).






Ann Orr, Estelle Jewell, Evelyn Orr, Mama Orr, Granny Prichard; Red Bank, c late 1950’s.















Jon, Aunt Evelyn, and Uncle Pipey, 1970.
The Orr’s, Red Bank, c 1970’s.








The Jewell’s. san Martha, Rockwood, c 1960’s.








Estelle, Blythe, and Blythe’s mom Kathie, 1977.








The den on Castle Heights Avenue: Maureen with Tommy, Jewell siblings, c1985.








Mother and Daddy’s 50th Anniversary party. Too many people to list here.








Cousins Jon Orr and Nancy Winkler, c 1980.








Jimmy and Estelle Jewell, Evelyn and Pipey Orr; the Smokies, 1980.








Dr. Kate Jewell Hansen, several years before the Hansen and “Dr.” were added.










Happy couple in the first home they owned, c1987.









Uncle Pipey Orr, none better, c 1980’s.








Aunt Evelyn and Jon Orr; Chattanooga, 1985.








One of the last Navy photos of goofy guy, 1987.









Beautiful woman with goofy guy, 1987.







3 sisters with lots of grit still left: Estelle Jewell, Evelyn Orr, Bettye Kate Hall, c1993(?).








Lena, Sarah, Oliver, Christmas, 2004.







Jon Orr’s obituary, 2004.









Charlie Jewell. Jimmy Jewell’s great uncle. i’m guessing this was in the 1880’s/1890’s.











Martha being pulled by a goofy guy, 1949.







Beverly and Roberta Padgett with Martha and three goofy guys, two of whom would melt, 1950.








Christmas at the Jewell home, 1948.









The Jewell children, 1955.







The Jewell children, dressed up for church obviously, 1955.










Estelle Prichard about the time she started dating Jimmy Jewell, 1933.










Betty Joy (nee Hall) Jasahke’s birthday at the Hall farm, July 22, 1953; Joe Jewell, Barbara Leftwich, Gary Hall, Betty Joy (5 years old) Randy Hall, Martha Jewell, Ann Chenault; the goofy kid in the back is the oldest one there.










Jimmy Jewell on his first date with Estelle Jewell, 1933.
Estelle Jewell on her first date with Jimmy Jewell, 1933.









Wesley Wayne Jewell with a baby even goofy at that age, 1944.










The goofy kid, 1947.









David Hall, a sensible young man with the goofy kid, 1946.










Granny Prichard with her flock: goofy kid, Johnny Orr, Martha Jewell, Bill (Butch) Prichard, Nancy Orr, 1947.








Jimmy Jewell, showing off for his girlfriend, 1933.
Lovebirds, 1933.









Evelyn Orr and Estelle Jewell; Paris, TN, 1945.









My great grandparents, Bishop Joseph Webster and Katherine Webster, his wife, 1932. Annotated in the album, Maureen wrote at my mother’s direction, “Mama and Papa Webster.”












The dapper Jimmy Jewell, his high fashion wife, Estelle. The car, i believe is the one they carried the blocks of ice on the front bunker for the ice box (now known as a refrigerator) in their first home, an upstairs apartment in a home on North Cumberland, 1940 although by the time of the photo, they had moved into the one-room home he built on the corner of her grandfather’s property.
















The man! Joseph Webster, Methodist circuit rider, reverend, bishop, and a fixture in the Lebanon community. One of his last services was to marry Jimmy and Estelle (his granddaughter) Jewell in 1938. i’m guessing this was in the 1890’s.

Willie Nod in a Foreign Country

This Willie Nod poem was written for Blythe after my adventures in Somalia while aboard the USS Yosemite just after the 1984 New Year. That yarn is already done elsewhere and will be retold in my book about that tour. However, the poem was generated by a drive across the equator to a dinner with a Somalia plantation owner. It did look like West Texas to me, and our chauffeured early sixties Datsun damn near ran into a camel in the middle of the road that was eating the leaves off of an overhanging tree. The ship did go south to Mombassa, Kenya after the stop in Kismayo, Somalia…but Willie nor i talked to any elephants.

Willie Nod in a Foreign Country

Willie Nod
off and went to Somalia,
a land on the equator that looks a lot like West Texas;
he took no friends with him
because he hoped to make new friends;
unlike West Texas, he found Somalia
had lots of people and animals.

But then, Willie Nod did not wander off the road in Somalia;
he figured they might have snakes like West Texas,
although Willie Nod liked animals
could converse in most animal languages,
he hadn’t quite learned to handle hissing.
so, Willie Nod stayed on the road.

since there seemed to be only one road in Somalia,
Willie really didn’t know if all of Somalia looked like West Texas
except for all the people and animals
walking along the roadside and sometimes in the middle of the road.
from that one road, Willie Nod saw herds and herds of camels and goats;
there even were packs of wild boar with fierce-looking tusks
standing along the side of the road chewing grass.

Finally, Willie Nod, being a lover of animals,
could stand it no longer
stopped when he came upon this one lone camel
standing flat in the middle of the road
reaching for some leaves high in a tree overhanging the road.

Now, Willie Nod fancied himself quite a talker with animals,
and as a general rule,
he could talk with animals about as well as anyone:
he quacked with ducks,
roared with lions,
neighed with horses,
silenced with rabbits.

But even though
Willie Nod wanted to talk to camels, especially this one,
standing in the middle of the road,
he had one big problem with camels,
which wasn’t the same problem he had with snakes
(he wasn’t really too hot about learning how to hiss):

He just wasn’t quite sure how camels brayed.
he had brayed with some donkeys down in Mexico once,
camel braying was a great deal different from donkey braying.
Willie Nod’s problem with this particular camel
was made worse by the fact camels,
unlike donkeys (or for that matter, ducks),
are really quite dumb.
i mean, would you think anyone smart would stand
in the middle of the road to eat leaves off of trees?

So Willie Nod looked into the big, soft brown eyes of the camel
tried out some braying on him;
the camel just looked at him with those big sad eyes,
cocked his head to one side every now and then,
rolled those big lips up to show his bucked teeth.

When Willie Nod finally figured out he wasn’t getting anywhere,
he just headed on down the road, the one road in Somalia.
he didn’t stop anymore to try and talk to the wild boar,
or goats,
or even the people
using the road, or rather the side of the road.

Willie Nod decided to go see all the lions and elephants in Kenya
(he really wanted to try and talk to the elephants)
south of Somalia.

Willie Nod decided Somalia
really wouldn’t be all that bad if you liked West Texas
knew how to camel bray.
because there sure were a lot of camels to talk to.

Willie Nod was glad he visited Somalia
he wasn’t too anxious to go back anytime soon.


Atlantic Ocean

March II, 1984

Willie Nod and the Moon

Willie Nod and the Moon

Willie Nod walked with the full moon tonight.
He sailed across the dark heavens with no birds to carry him.
He had no wings as he flew past the stars and the planets.

Willie Nod saw the earth,
the people singing and laughing;
knowing it was good,
Willie Nod was above all of that.

He and the moon held hands
walking across the heavens.
They never laughed at the earth
or the people
or even the sunbefore it took their night away.

Willie Nod waved goodbye to the moon
As the sun took away their night;
He greeted the sun hello.
Willie Nod did not walk with the sun.
He saved that joy for the moon.
No one could take the joy away
from Willie Nod and the moon.


They called it “Eerie Drone Footage…” i called it recollection

i was fascinated and watched straight through, from beginning to end, afraid to move or look away, concerned i might miss something.

It was just before noon when i opened Gail Hatcher Morris’ link. Thanks, Gail. i finished viewing as the little hand and the big hand met at the top of the Navy clock i have in my office. It took about eighteen minutes. i suspect most of you who read this will not have the patience to watch the whole thing. i don’t blame you. While i was transfixed watching, that other part of my brain was thinking this was a lot of time when i should be doing something productive. Just couldn’t do it. Transfixed.

Here it is:

Perhaps i was so into it because i went there way back when. i may have gone twice. It seems so. But i can’t pinpoint the other time or reason. The one i do remember is pretty clear considering it was sixty-three years ago. Oh, i don’t remember a great deal of specifics about the place.

The video presents the place as beautiful in its eerie, somewhat scary, own way. The production by Brian Siskind and Jim DeMain is itself quite beautiful. Siskind’s music is beautiful and befitting the footage. i did wonder the purpose in that “Justin Brown and the Tennessee Department of Corrections” agreed to the project.

You see, i went to the state prison in the spring of 1956, on a tour mind you. i was twelve. The occasion was McClain Elementary on West Main had a field trip for members of the safety patrol. We’re the sixth grade boys — they weren’t ready to let girls be on the safety patrol: after all, it was a different time — who had the bamboo poles with the red flags stopping traffic at the direction of the Lebanon City policeman who was there every morning and every afternoon. The trip began in the morning after all of the children were in school. i guess the fifth graders were the safety patrol that afternoon.

The second part of the field trip was supposed to be attending a wrestling match. i’m guessing that was at the Hippodrome on West End just past the Vanderbilt campus. Gone now…of course. The Hippodrome was one major large skating rink. i, however, remember it when they sat up a stage at one end, put in four hundred or so folding chairs, and held rhythm and blues reviews there while i was at Vanderbilt. In my mind, i can still see still see Ms Fox of Inez and Charlie Fox fame come out in a skin tight, gold lamé jump suit, launch into “Mockingbird,” and then in the middle of the instrumental turn her backside to the audience, bend over, and shake her tail feathers. And the man running at full speed down the aisle in attempt to meet the before mentioned Ms Fox face to face, so to speak, and tackled by a security guard about three-quarters of the way down the aisle. And Sam Cooke showing up almost an hour late and singing one song (no, i don’t remember the song) and leaving. And Jackie Wilson pushing the mike and stand toward the audience, doing a 360 pirouette, kicking the bottom of the mike stand pulling the mike back to him, making love to the self same microphone while falling to the floor, which put one young woman in a tight skirt and three-inch heels launching herself full speed down that aisle but not stopped by security and diving onto the stage into the arms of Mr. Wilson and that microphone where they proceeded to make out sans mike until the end of the song when they both went backstage.

But that was much later in my youth and the wrestling match was cancelled or there was some other rock in the road to see the wrestlers so the safety patrol went to Sulphur Dell to watch the Nashville Vols take on the New Orleans Pelicans, Birmingham Barons, Memphis Chicks or another team in the double-A Southern League.

However, the Tennessee State Prison visit was the indelible memory. We toured the grounds and saw where they made license plates and we saw the cells and the open area and the cafeteria, and the highlight of Old Smoky, the electric chair. On the way out, we stopped at the gift shop where they sold goods made by the well-behaved inmates, and i bought…Guess? Yep, i bought a twelve-inch model of Old Smoky, the electric chair. It was made of wood. The seat and back were natural wood. The arms and legs were painted red. There was black lettering on the seat back, which i think read “Tennessee State Prison.” When i bought it, there were small leather straps on the arms and at the head level for strapping in the culprit. They disappeared pretty quickly.

i cannot remember how my mother reacted when i brought it home that night. i think she restrained herself, but i do wonder what she told my father after i had gone to bed. i’ll bet a hundred dollars he laughed.

i didn’t use it very much. i do remember frying some particularly bad miniature guys, but only once or twice during my playtime. It was more of an ornament in Joe’s and my upstairs bedroom. It stayed around a long time. i’m not exactly sure when it disappeared but i suspect when Mother and Daddy cleared out the house when they moved from the Castle Heights homestead to Deer Park.

Of course, i was twelve. Boys of twelve think quite a bit differently than boys or girls at any other age i think. i remember thinking how strange that prison was and how awful it would be to be penned up there, especially if you were waiting to meet Old Smoky in a final set to. i remember thinking i wasn’t ever gonna do anything to get be in there for a longer stay. i also remember showing my bravado and making fun, laughing like twelve-year old boys do when they are around each other (if they are still allowed to do so).

As the video shows, it was a magnificent, old beautiful, place, but eerie, overbearing, yes scary.

And the video took me back to a time of innocence, a time of not knowing all i should know, a time when adults thought that would be a cool place to visit on a sixth grade safety patrol trip.

Bet they don’t do those kinds of things nowadays.



What if?

i think i’m channeling John Lennon, but please, please, please (as James Brown would often sing), keep Yoko Ono far, far away from me.

i was just wondering:

What if all of those folks believing they were Christians, instead of protesting, defaming others, said (sorta like Jesus), i forgive you, i love you, may Lord have mercy on your soul, and then they let Him take care of it?

What if all of those folks tearing down statues, yelling and spitting at the opposition, screaming denigrating attacks, said to the opposition, we don’t agree, but you are human beings like us and we would like to talk to you about why and how we differ and how we might get along?

What if, the media reported good news one day, just good news (even though i know they couldn’t stand it for more than one day, i would like it to be most of the time) instead of seeking out sensational, soap opera crap, and digging for dirt?

What if all of those who inherited big money; those who became filthy rich from their businesses; athletes, entertainers, and politicians who have made crazy amounts of money tried to live on several million and gave the rest to helping people across the country and the world who are down and out?

What if all of those folks throwing rocks at our current or immediate past presidents (as well as several others) quit and started working on programs and initiatives to change things for the better?

What if all of our congress persons quit worrying about getting reelected and serving those who give them money and started working for the good of our country and all humankind?

What if everyone quit worrying and attacking all of those people and establishments they perceive are making it difficult for them and their beliefs stop and just worry about how they are managing themselves in their relationships?

What if everyone, i mean everyone just started trying hard to live by the Golden Rule? You know, the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?

What if…oh Lord, it ain’t gonna happen, i know but just think about what if everyone quit trying to fix everyone else and actually focused on fixing themselves?

Nah…wouldn’t work unless we shot all of those who don’t agree with us.

Willie Nod and the Rabbit

This is, quite possibly, my favorite piece about Willie Nod. It is not exactly a poem, but it’s not exactly not a poem, pretty much like all of the stuff i write…i hope. Still it is one of my favorites. It was written in November 1982. It was soon after a golf round where i saw several of the long eared jack rabbits who were plentiful around the course and this neck of the woods. These rabbits were very different from the white fluffy tail rabbits i knew in Tennessee. So i decided to write this to let Blythe know about these different rabbits.

Willie Nod and the Rabbit

Willie Nod decided it was time to have another adventure.
It so happened a rabbit was also ready for an adventure.
Like these things normally start out, Willie Nod and this rabbit ran into each other.
It happened in a field, which i would have liked to have been in Tennessee, but
The rabbit was scrawny, had bug eyes and long, thin, almost sharp ears,
Totally unlike the fuzzy, warm, slightly chubby, floppy-eared Tennessee rabbits,
Although it’s been a long time since i’ve seen rabbits in Tennessee.

Regardless, this particular field was near Yuma, Arizona,
Which partially explains the scrawniness of the rabbit.
This rabbit, by the way, had a name unlike most of Willie Nod’s animal friends.
Rabbits have been known to have names
Like Bugs, Peter, and of course, there was Harvey,
Although technically, Harvey was a puhka.
So this rabbit had a name too.
His name, oddly enough, was Rabbit Smith.

Rabbit Smith and Willie Nod met in this field in Yuma, Arizona.
Rabbit Smith liked the dry, hot weather of Yuma.
That’s why he was skinny and his cousin in Tennessee was fat.
In the shy way of rabbits, he said hello to Willie Nod.
Now most rabbits have lots of relatives.
Rabbit Smith was an exception, as he related to Willie Nod.
It did not make him unhappy, even though it did make him different.
“Well, Willie, if you don’t have a lot of other people to worry about,
You don’t have to worry about yourself so much.
i’ve never been too much of a worrier;
So one day, when i was all wrapped up in worrying about all those other scrawny, bug-eyed rabbits,
I decided I was worrying too much;
Took off; headed east.
All of those scrawny rabbits originated in California.
Those cuddly ones from Tennessee and other places have never really been rabbit enough to associate with us.”
“Anyhow, I got as far east as Yuma and all the rabbits had just about quit being around.
Stayed here ever since.
No worrying about all those other rabbits.
Oh, it sometimes gets a little lonesome, but
There’s always a prairie dog or two when I need to talk.
I figure lonesome is a whole sight better than worrying, or
Even more to the point, being worrisome,
For if I am worrying about all those other rabbits,
They must be worrying about me.”
Willie Nod got about as tired of this spiel as you did,
Wondering where it was all going to end.
It didn’t.
It just sort of stopped.

Willie Nod and Rabbit Smith kicked around together
For a couple of months.
Sometimes they would meet some of Rabbit’s prairie dog friends.
Sometimes they would see some acquaintances of Willie Nod.
Sometimes they would just walk together in the fields near Yuma.

One day, as it always happens, it was time to part ways for Willie Nod and Rabbit Smith.
You see, Rabbit had noticed Willie had a slight cold
The night before, so he made sure Willie Nod had a blanket before going to sleep.
“Willie,” he said the next morning, “I started worrying about you last night.
So I’ve got to go.”
Rabbit Smith went off, lickety-split, over the fields of Yuma.

Willie Nod wished that Rabbit had waited a minute before taking off.
You see, Willie Nod had figured out the problem:
There’s a difference between caring and worrying.
Some rabbits just can’t tell the difference.

At least, Rabbit Smith didn’t worry too much.



spate of spam

i am going through my files and finding some things i started under “ip” for “in progress.” i usually find they are no longer pertinent and simply delete them, but occasionally, i find one i like. This is one from 2009 i began then set aside. i added the last few lines today.

i do not like this spate of spam
received regardless of who i am
which arrives each day
by facebook post or in my email;
nor do i like these political posts
even if i agree
political posts are one-sided, mean
absolutely not for me
i’m tired such stuff
but i don’t know what to do
‘cause i like the social stuff
with friends i share;
i would say “knock it off”
but that doesn’t work
for folks who have their own agenda
without regard for friends who don’t.

so what’s a fellow to do?


He would have been 103 today. i can hear him laugh right now. i can see his hands. He liked the poem i wrote about his hands, asked me how i knew all of that stuff about him. i’m pretty sure i knew by looking at his hands. That poem is below. Above that and below this is a photo his granddaughter Kate posted the day he passed away. His not being here still hurts and always will. But it’s a good hurt. He was always good, above all else. As his friends told me time and time again, “Jimmy Jewell is a good man.”


When most folks meet him,
they notice steel blue eyes and agility;
his gaze, gait and movements
belie the ninety-five years;
those folks should look at his hands:
those hands could make Durer cry
with their history and the tales they tell.

His strength always was supple
beyond what was suggested from his slight build.
His hands are the delivery point of that strength.
His hands are not slight:
His hands are firm and thick and solid –
a handshake of destruction if he so desired, but
he has used them to repair the cars and our hearts;

His hands are marked by years of labor with
tire irons, jacks, wrenches, sledges, micrometers on
carburetors, axles, brake drums, distributors
(long before mechanics hooked up computers,
deciphering the monitor to replace “units”
for more money in an hour than he made in a month
when he started in ’34 before computers and units).

His hands pitched tents,
made the bulldozers run
in war
in the steaming, screaming sweat of
Bouganville, New Guinea, the Philippines.

His hands have nicks and scratches
turned into scars with
the passage of time:
a map of history, the human kind.

Veins and arteries stand out
on the back of his hands,
pumping life itself into his hands
and beyond;
the tales of grease and oil and grime,
cleaned by gasoline and goop and lava soap
are etched in his hands;

they are hands of labor,
hands of hard times,
hands of hope,
hands of kindness, caring, and love:
oh love, love, love, crazy love.

His hands speak of him with pride.
His hands belong
to the smartest man i know
who has lived life to the maximum,
but in balance, in control, in understanding,
gaining respect and love
far beyond those who claim smartness
for the money they earned
while he and his hands own smartness
like a well-kept plot of land
because he always has understood
what was really important
in the long run:
smarter than any man I know
with hands that tell the story
so well.

Bonita, California
September 28, 2009