House-Breaking Your Phone–and Lowering Your Blood Pressure

I was too calm at work.  Something had to be wrong.  Then I realized that I had left my phone at home—on the kitchen counter–probably under the bread wrapper.  It was the same unnerving peace I felt on a vacation last summer–when we left the dog with friends. Smudge is a hybrid, a schnorkie-poo, who, in the thankful absence of rats, is obsessed with one thing—the perfect blend of dye, felt and rubber toxins that is the tennis ball.  He is so completely focused on bringing you that ball for you to obediently throw it across the yard/basement/bathroom that he’ll forgo food, rest and common sense—crashing into fences, couches and unsuspecting two year-olds.  If you don’t follow his escalating sequence of hints (sitting patiently, rolling the ball closer, grumbling, grumbling louder), he’ll finally bark at the perfect frequency to shatter even our cheap wine glasses. When we’re having dinner, he’ll politely wedge the ball under my left buttock, sit… Read More…

“If a Tweet Falls in the Forest…” Life without Applause-Signs, Laugh-Tracks & Likes

It’s often not so much what happens in our lives—as what we figure ought to happen.  If no one likes this post, did it fail? I started noticing  camera-angles and how they manipulated the audience far too early in my life–especially for the poor bystanders who were stuck in a living room, basement or movie theater with me. The Cosby Show, for all of its garish sweaters and too-good-to-be-true charm of a doctor/lawyer upper-middle class family, was a breakthrough on many levels—it revitalized the sit-com and finally placed a TV African-American family out of the ghetto—if you bypass George Jefferson moving on up. But what I noticed immediately, from my hero of a dozen scratched LP comedy albums, was the cutaway to Clair—Cliff Huxtable’s long-suffering wife who managed to smile through the monologues.  You’ll see it in every episode, the need for the reaction shot—generally Phylicia Rashad or one of the kids letting… Read More…

“Go! Go Fast! Hide Them!” – My Father’s Guns

About eight months ago, my granddaughter, Mara, was quite interested in family history and asked for more details. I said I would write but just couldn’t seem to do it. Fast forward to two weeks ago and I go to a poetry reading–mostly new writers, talking about their lives, easy to understand and with no rhyming. At the reception, I ask how they do it. “It just comes,” they say.  Hard for me to imagine. Then one woman suggests I make it like I’m writing a letter to someone. I think of my granddaughter. The next morning I wake up thinking in poetry phrases about my father’s guns.  Later in the day it all came out, fully-formed. ******************* My father had three guns. Cold, hard revolvers all. Passed from his grandfather, a policeman. They were always around, teamed with ammunition. We brothers learned to shoot them all. It was no big deal,… Read More…

Ma Kai

I have been trying to find the right words to express what it felt like sitting on the beach last week in North Carolina last week on vacation.  It was a feeling on insignificance, but yet peace.  I was going to try to put my words around a blog, but decided to try my hand in poetry. Indulge me!  Ma Kai Your waves crash on the beach Your breeze blows across my face The sun beats on me, just me Decisions to be had, Deadlines to be made, Not today as I hide my feet in your sand The enormity of your being makes me feel insignificant… ….but strangely at peace The things you have seen, The years you have thrived make my years pale in comparison Is there someone just like me on your other side feeling the same way? Watching your waves? Feeling your breeze? Problems to be… Read More…

“The Easter Bunny’s Problem” by Melanie McAleer

Note:  Here’s a holiday poem published by my grandmother, Melanie McAleer, in the 1940’s–posted by her son, Joe. The Easter Bunny’s Problem Once a rabbit had a problem, and it wasn’t very funny, You see he was the special, one and only Easter Bunny, And he had a special duty to get up at break of day On every Easter morning and give Easter Eggs away. Something like old Santa, once his journey had begun, Of the million little children, he never missed a one, Yes, this was Bunny’s happy boast. ” I never missed a tot, And no one lives who dares to say I was lazy or forgot.” Oh, very gay and carefree was that special Easter Bunny Until he had a problem, and it wasn’t very funny, One day his special helper, a sort of bunny spy, Discovered that Old Sly Fox had stolen all the dye…. Read More…

“Reporters Apology” by Melanie McAleer

The following poem was written by Melanie McAleer (posted by her son, Joseph Maguire) REPORTER’S APOLOGY (after viewing a Senior Womens’ Tennis Tournament) I was sent on this assignment, Nothing promised to be duller, Without the thrill of homicide Nor a fight for race or color; I wondered why my editor Had given me this task, But being true reporter I went, and didn’t ask; After all a Senior Woman Was a female with a shawl, And I couldn’t quite envision her Connecting with a ball; Now I’m not a chauvinistic male And I have an open mind, Still I learned with great amazement About the strength of womankind; The strength of serves and smashes And a stamina non-quitting, No sign of brace or bandage On the hardy who were hitting; And fearing I’d be challenged To try out their gentle sport, I just poised my pen in tribute And… Read More…

“Cobbler and the Cowboy” — My Grandma’s Poetry

  66 years ago, this poem was proudly cut from the newspaper and placed in a scrapbook.  My grandmother, Melanie Vier McAleer died just two and a half years ago at the age of 94–an accomplished woman by any standard, winning a national doubles championship in tennis for women over 70. But her greater love, one that stayed with her through her entire life, was poetry.  She was a regularly featured writer in Detroit papers throughout my mom’s childhood in the 1940s and 50s.  Her whimsical style and clever insight into the human condition was spot-on.  I remember being flattered as a 12 year old to be asked to illustrate some of her children’s poetry about animals–one of them a squirrel. It was always a dream of hers to meld her two loves into one–a book of poems about tennis.  Her son Joe and I put ourselves on this task… Read More…