To Allie: Year 3

Dear Allie,

I remember feeling similarly after the completion of your brother’s 2nd year. So stark are the changes from the beginning to the end of this year it’s hard to know where to begin. So let me start by saying that you are just a force. You have an infectious laugh, you talk non-stop and you narrate everything that’s happening. You are so, so, so, silly. You sing songs, sometimes in silly voices. I love your silly voices. You have a terrific imagination and invent scenarios when you play with your toys. I think you’ve even helped unlock your older brother’s imagination more. You know how to make jokes already and do so frequently. Have I mentioned how silly you are? You are also a much more willful boy than your brother. Challenging authority, contrarian, sometimes naughty for the hell of it. A little bit conniving. You are rambunctious and like to charge at your father to give him head butts. Your height is rather unfortunate right now, and there is much guarding of sensitive areas as you run with reckless abandon! I love it all. It’s amazing how with your last child, it becomes all too clear that these beautiful moments are so temporary.

The way I see myself in you
And even the way
I sometimes don’t

I’d like to believe
that I was like you
when I was your age

Can you teach me that giggle?
Would you tell me how
to make that silly voice?
Will you show me how
to run headlong into things
laughing all the way
hair bobbing up and down

I hope
I was like you
I hope all children
get to laugh like that
and help us adults grow

into you

Your personality is shining through more and more each day. I am sure it’s too early to know exactly the kind of person you are, this warm and gregarious person is blossoming and it’s just so wonderful to see.

The coolest thing about you, which is maybe unfair since you only started doing it a few weeks ago (and in general makes these letters very biased to what I can actually remember over the course of the year) is the way you have started commenting on the facial expressions and body language of characters in storybooks. It’s so cool that you are interpreting expressions and even though you aren’t really listening to the story so you get the intent of the facial expression wrong sometimes, I always understand your thought process and I love that this is what you are paying attention to.

As to who I am right now, the truth is, I just feel like I’m in a holding pattern. Will I still be a meteorology professor next year? Am I on the brink of some great enlightenment, or is this just all there is? Are things going to get worse? I feel like life is on pause somehow. That I’m waiting for something and I don’t know what it is. There’s a tension in the air. Trump is no longer president. It’s something, but still so much uncertainty lies ahead. It crippled me in January and for the first time in a long time, I felt empty of strength and it scared me. My love for you, your brother and your mother is the surety in my life and I am grateful for it every day.

It’s been a long year since your last birthday. It’s been approximately a year since the Coronavirus pandemic hit. When I think about how different this past year was supposed to be, the one bright point is that I have gotten to spend a lot more time with you than I probably would have, if life was ‘normal’. If there is any good to come out of this pandemic it’s to redefine normal. And while I haven’t gotten to take you to as many places as your brother when he was your age, I know, that for you, just being able to spend more time with your family has been a blessing. With your brother being at home a lot more I have also seen your bond with him grow immensely, and it’s so beautiful to see. Dhyan waited a long time for you both to sleep in the same room together, and now you sleep with each other and it’s so adorable. So while you may not have gotten the variety of life experiences, you have experienced no shortage of love.

That being said, I do long to take you places and see your face light up with excitement. While we slowly unroll from the pandemic, I know those days lie ahead and that the pandemic won’t even be a memory for you. There is so much I want you to see. There are snowcapped mountains, there are restless salty waves, there are places far far away to fly to. So much more awaits us.

I love you my Allie. Happy Birthday!

My Eternity

energy and chaos churning
I blink, what is my quantum state?
no form for eyes discerning
I can do nothing but wait for weight

with muons and gluons burning
no demon full of hellish fury
or soul worth grievous spurning
knows the heat that starts my journey

in fractured temporal storming
fragile existence expanding
my protons and electrons forming
the universe is grandstanding

opposites attract, particles conforming
to find orbits in that quantum foam
the first of all elements is swarming
looking for a nebula to be my home

thick and thin gasses, uneven masses
gravity sorts out the cloud’s confusion
swept and swirled in stellar morasses
the pressure builds in cores of fusion

my life is nuclear, neutrons are made
I’m turned into carbon at six and six
a supernova ensues as energy fades
I explode into the hydrogen mix

and on and on, star to dust to star
until finally shaped in molten sphere
cooling crystals of quartz and feldspar
this is my planet I’m finally here

hard rock lies still while water flows
molecules of simple protein grow fatter
bathed in the warmth of geothermal glow
base pairs twist to form that helical ladder

then in each successive replication
a fight to survive the natural selection
copies borne with random mutations
fear to be subjects of nature’s rejection

smell, sight and sound – sharpening senses
growing complexity – evolutionary connection
avoiding predation – gaining defenses
the building of immunity to combat infection

here I stand, human, against all odds
limping to the present, eyes with dried tears
the winner of the day, no need of gods
my prize a lucky seventy or eighty years

when it’s time, Death’s touch does freeze
atop flaming pyre my body resides
my ashes blow away with the breeze
some parts of me become lithified
my carbon is breathed in by the trees
a deer eats grass, that has me inside
I glide through time with magnificent ease
I always have lived, and never have died

Nature Private Eye: The Tarp Mulligan Chronicles, Episode 4

I never should have got mixed up in the case. But when the mother came in, smelling of the gin you buy when you don’t want to look cheap but still tastes terrible, I knew she wasn’t gonna leave my office until I said yes, so I decided to save myself the waterworks. She said her son was a trucker running fruit legally from Mexico but suddenly disappeared. She says she knows something’s wrong because normally her sends a snapchat every night.

So I did some digging and got myself down to Mexico. Came across a grove of mango trees. They tell me they’ve been losing their fruit before it’s ready to fall off the tree. Picking them from their parent, hard and green, then the babies get sent up north. Sometimes even into Canada. You always hope you don’t run into child trafficking as a detective, but it looked like I was knee-deep in it now.

Sick operations like this make me want to lay waste to any bastard involved I could find. But I’m too old and I’m quite addicted to narrating my life, so I left my gun in its holster.

I was still no closer to finding that kid. I decided to hedge my bet on a border guard I knew. He was good at gathering rumors and owed me a favor ever since I helped him with a rattlesnake that was trying to ask his ankle to tango. They danced, but I got down there, sucked the poison out, and fast. That’s something you don’t forget.

Nature Private Eye: The Tarp Mulligan Chronicles – Episode 3

I had to see my informant. A dung beetle named Jake. He’d been in and out of the joint for years, but ever since I saved his life from a burrowing owl he owed me. He figured he wasn’t bein’ a rat if he was only talking to a P.I. I don’t like to judge, but it’s a dirty city and I couldn’t believe he was rolling something that small. Maybe times were tough, I don’t know. I asked if he needed help finding dung, he tells me he knows where a big stash is but it’s full male giraffes whipping each other with their necks, all over some broad. He’s afraid to get trampled. I don’t like tall tales but he had a look on his face, I knew he was scared.

I told him, I ‘d see what I could do. I knew a pretty girl over at the zoo who owed me a favor. I helped talk her brother down off a rooftop observatory one time. Thought he could come up with a new constellation. He went mad with all the choices. I calmed him, but the poor kid had stars in his eyes for a week.

He said thanks and asked me what my business was. I told him I was looking for a bower bird. One who likes shiny things. Seems this time he went too far. Took an heirloom from an heiress and she wants it back. So Jake tells me he knows the guy. Just a couple miles east of the lake. Likes to use pretty trinkets to attract the ladies. Uses it decorate his ‘love suite’. I shook my head and told him it was a shame that most of my cases come down to the stupid stuff a man do for a dame he’s into.

I know there is nothing more dangerous than a flamboyant bower bird so I turned up my collar and headed for the lake and tried not to think of the bottle of gin in my office desk drawer.

Life in Equations

time doesn’t care for me
gravity weighs on me
preys on me

degradation
loss of lubrication
wearing away of tissue
friction becomes an issue
the grinding in my groan
hysteresis in my bend
and bone

vessels weaken
thin
how long can my heart win
against endless pumping
glitches in the pattern’s
thumping

neural pathways fray
in withered grey
more and more circuits
misfire each day
approaching cognitive disarray

I am life
subject to physical law
and though I head
towards death’s maw
with weakened knees
I stand in awe
even with all our frailty
and flaws

Nature Private Eye: The Tarp Mulligan Chronicles – Episode 2

It was rainy and wet. And I was in no mood to talk to those whales. Not without a good porpoise. All I could think about was getting my feet back on to the pavement again. The streets. I knew where I stood. Not gonna lie, the GPS helped. 

I was standin’ there in wet sand. I just crawled out of that salty mess. One of those little tropical numbers, she calls me, says she’s worried about her brother gettin’ in with the wrong crowd. Says he’s been doing some bad algae with a parrotfish down by the coral. I didn’t get anything concrete, but I must have been close to something because some kelp tried to strangle me.

Fortunately a shark comes along and gives me hand. Turns out to be a Thresher named Jimmy. I helped his brother out of a fishing net last April. Gettin’ rid of the kelp squared us, in fact I might owe them. But I had no time to worry about ledgers with these whales emptying their blowholes on me. I told them they were wasting their breath. I was soaking wet, and the ocean seemed unhappy that I left and decided to rain on me. I tossed them a business card and told them to call me in the morning. I should’ve almost finished a bottle of scotch by then and might be in the mood to listen.

Nature Private Eye: The Tarp Mulligan Chronicles

Episode 1

No sooner had I sat down at my desk. Maria buzzed me. I was feelin’ shot. I just came back from staking out the moon and sun. My first all-nighter since college. Worst year of my life. The Earth had approached a couple of days ago. The broad was in a panic. I knew enough to just shut up and listen. She thought the moon and the sun were having an affair.

I never saw the moon, and around 1 pm, I see something passing in front of the sun, but never got a look at her face. All I got were burger wrappers in my car and a possible burned retina in right eye.

I told Maria to let her in. I needed the work and maybe it was a client. She walked in and even with my 1.5 eyes I could tell she was the most beautiful dame I ever laid eyes on. She said her name was Fiona, she was an astronomer and I could tell from the way she was holding her telescope she was kinky. But when you see a face this serious, you know it ain’t the right time to ask her if you can widen her aperture. She tells me, “I was just mindin’ my own business y’know, looking out my telescope here, just during my lunch break. I saw everything. The moon, the sun. She saw his corona.”

I told the dame we better go tell the Earth together. It was a lie. I could’ve told the Earth myself, but I wanted to dance slow with her, without any music, and have her keep an eye on the stars while I got some shut-eye.