December 31, 2011

Last Post 2011

Last Post 2011
By John R. Greenwood

Year done
Year begun
Let's make this world 
A better one

Support your neighbor
Support your friend
We'll all do better 
In the end

No more push
No more shove
Smell the coffee
Feel the love

Sappy simple 
I will agree
Follow them?
Follow me?

jrg2011lastpost

December 30, 2011

Spiffy Lube After Dark


Spiffy Lube After Dark
By John R. Greenwood

Sullen faces stacked side by deep
Month end procrastination fills the room 
Necks strain to the right with heads tilted slightly north
Dull minds hypnotized by the Fox News drone filling the flat screen up high
Cautious spirits wait with nail-biting anticipation, fearful of the last name call:
"Greenwood?"
"Mr. Greenwood, could you come out here please?"
"Our Tech discovered oak leaf pieces in the crevices of your air filter"
"We can replace the filter right now for a mere $36.99"
"So, would you like us to go ahead and replace that horribly clogged and possibly engine damaging filter for you?"
And then…
The heart stopping fear sets in.
That look of disgust that comes with your answer of,"Not today thanks."
That same tsking-sigh you get when you turn down the extended warranty 
And then…
Another wave of fear rails up your spine
Will they 'accidentally' forget to tighten something?
Concern swells as you sit back down and wait for the cumulative stares to subside.
What have I done? 
I should have at least upgraded the complimentary carwash


December 25, 2011

Solitary Refinement

"Do you hear what I hear?"

Solitary Refinement
By John R Greenwood

Christmas night solitude 
The season's simplest gift

A relieved balsam - with job complete
Lights shining brighter rests satisfied and proud

Empty streets and full bellies
Remnants of December's 24th and 25th

Presents rest peacefully with all the bustle gone
Long lines invisible, now just a memory

Such heart and soul placed on one day
Close your eyes and imagine a child far away - in a manger  


Submitted to Poetry Jam 

Perhaps?

"Perhaps it is just as well to be rash and foolish for a while. If writers were too wise, perhaps no books would be written at all." 
- Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)

December 15, 2011

Today Is A Good Day













Today Is A Good day
By John R. Greenwood

Today
Our sons and daughters are coming home
Too many lives lost 
4484 
Too many lives changed
Forever

Put down your arms 
Open your arms
Mothers 
Hug 
Your sons
Your daughters

Wives & Husbands
Hug
Your returning soldiers 
Brave
Tired 
Made in America

Today is a good day
The year is winding down
Let us rewind the clock
Change the calendar

Time to move forward > 2012   


My Submission for Thursday Think Tank

December 01, 2011

December #56

"Home"












December #56 
By John R. Greenwood
#56 approaches shadow like
slinking low in the dark damp night
this shivering grey man hangs on 
tight and reluctant 
fuel bill memories smother all hope of advance
snow drift dreams of broken snowblowers and dead batteries
and still
a ceiling stain lingers 
a reminder of #53’s heartless ice dams
heavy and thick
fond recollection of #10’s five dollar lift tickets and deep powder runs
T-bars, rope tows and mom’s hand-knit wool socks
so...
with each opened tote of tangled light and shiny bulb
a fresh scent of balsam 
like smelling salts 
snaps me back 
and I pause
silent
wreath in hand
looking forward to #57

November 30, 2011

How Deep?

How Deep? 
By John R. Greenwood

Skin deep
Ocean deep
Will you be hurt today?

Deep sleep
Deep pockets
Which one will you choose?

Deep thought
Deep thoughts
Are they the same?

Deep regret
Deep feelings
How 
D
   E
      E
         P
            ?



Christmas Shopping?

Take a relaxing ride over to Cambridge and visit Battenkill Books. Buy a book or two. Support Independent Book Stores. Tell them you were sent by a Raining Iguana! Click on the link below and visit via video before you warm up the car.

Visit Battenkill Books

November 14, 2011

An Afternoon On Campus

An Afternoon On Campus
By John R. Greenwood

It has been almost 38 years to the day since I last walked the former Adirondack Community College (ACC), now SUNY Adirondack campus. The campus has grown substantially in those four fleeting decades. The enrollment and the stature have expanded high above the grassy fields and suburban sprawl that now surround it. This day I felt young for a moment. The smell of soccer season inflated my leathered lungs. The brisk November breeze mussed my grey wispy hair, yet I felt spry and alive. I absorbed the muffled chatter of youth as it played out around me. I sat happy at a picnic table amongst the still green grass and crisp brown oak leaves that fluttered gently by. I smiled with reflective thought of 1973 when my wife of 36 years and I walked hand-in-hand from our cars to class. We never completed our college experience. Instead we chose to wander off together and be one. We’ve enjoyed a winding, fulfilled life, buried in dirty diapers, dreams and discovery. We ran a business, struggled through late payments and power bills. We survived teenage boys and their broken cars, prom nights, and autumn weddings. We are now prepared for yet another chapter with hopes of more to follow. I breathe in deep. I am transposed into the healthy muscular teenager that once walked these lawns. The college experience was brief. A soccer season’s worth was all I had. I have no regrets. Maybe a little want. A want of higher learning. An “Educating Rita” dream of deciphered literature and classic interpretation. My beautiful wife and I chose instead to learn by trial and error. More of a Lewis & Clark Expedition through life. I am content. We are still holding hands, learning still, to embrace ground-level happiness and low flying dreams. What brought me back to (ACC) SUNY Adirondack this cool November day? A new found source of inspiration, talented author, Jon Katz. I met Jon recently at Northshire Bookstore. Jon was promoting his newest book “Going Home.” What I discovered that day was an interesting man who seemed to be on a parallel plane. His demeanor and gentleness a comfort in a sensationalized, cheapened world. There was calm in his voice, warmth in his heart. It showed right through his dark blue sweater vest. I was at ease and at home. On that day and today I publicly mentioned Jon’s photography. Both times his eyes glistened at the mere mention of his ‘other’ passion. I was sure his heart skipped a beat or two. Both days I felt his creative spirit pulsing out into the crowd. His love for animals is legend. His yearning for creative expression just as strong; regardless through which medium it choses to manifest itself. So here I sit again, warm and welcome, in a lecture hall on faintly familiar ground. 
I would like to thank SUNY Adirondack as I promise to now call it. I am now refreshed. I now welcome change. I very much want to thank J. Courtney Reid for her part in bringing the Writer’s Project to the general public. I would like to also thank the Faculty Student Association of ACC, the ACC Foundation, the SUNY Adirondack English Division, SUNY, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
This is the first lecture I have attended at SUNY Adirondack. It will not be the last. 
Lastly I would like to thank technology. If I had not made an internet connection, I may never have had the pleasure of shaking the real-life hand of Jon Katz. 


Below is a recorded version of this post
An Afternoon On Campus



 

October 30, 2011

The Search For Gearbox Oil

The Search For Gearbox Oil
By John R. Greenwood



Take one unexpected and historic Nor'Easter, add a pre-Halloween Saturday, sprinkle it with crazy and you've got a story to tell. I thought I was doing pretty good this year. I felt so proud; I was preparing my snowblower hours before the approaching storm. Normally, my preparation for Storm #1 consists of waiting until four to six inches of wet, backbreaking white slop has settled in the driveway. Over the years I have found it more rewarding to wait until after dark. It’s more challenging when you have to hold a slippery metal flashlight under your chin while digging through the cluttered shed trying to extricate the Toro 828XLE Power Max. It is my opinion that only sissies prep their machines in August or on a sunny Saturday in September. Experience and bad words have injected me with enough intelligence to spend the extra money for something that will start on the first pull. I warmed * "Thoro" the Toro up for a few minutes then shut him down and drained the tar from his crankcase. I guess I napped through Engine Oil Change 101, because I'm pretty sure I missed this step last year. Now all I needed was a replacement quart to refill "Thoro." I must have been late the day they discussed having fresh oil to replace the one you drain. Luckily Stewart's is just a sip of coffee away. Off I sped. With a fresh quart of engine oil for "Thoro" and a buttered hardroll on the front seat for me, I returned home to fill our bellies. With "Thoro" full of fresh oil all I needed to do was lube his dry cables and squeaky parts and we were ready for anything Bob Kavachick could throw our way. Wait! There's one last thing to check. I grabbed a crescent wrench and loosened the small plug on the front of the gearbox. The same gearbox that keeps "Thoro" moving forward through snow and bank. I crouched low like Camilo Villegas eyeballing a long birdie putt. Nope, not a drop of oil in sight. I tipped him forward, still dry. "Thoro" was three years old, how long was his gearbox dry? Week #3's class, 'Importance of Proper Gearbox Maintenance' was a waste. I must have gone fishing that day. Even Stewart's can't fill this order. Off to Home Depot with a detour to Price Chopper for carrots and a box of Ditalini. Mrs G.’s intuition tells her I will need a bowl of hearty soup after this goose chase. After weaving through four lets-pretend-we-are-busy orange vested customer service specialists I found the rack containing engine oils of all viscosities and temperature ranges but the only oil not found, was you guessed correctly, gearbox oil. After asking a bewildered man with an orange vest where the gearbox oil would be, I cut my losses and skipped happily to the exit. Where to now? Sears and the Blue Crew are just around the corner. Now there's a manly man's store. They have shiny Craftsman tools, with Lifetime Guarantees, argh, argh. I’m positive they'll have large wide shelves bursting with gearbox oil. I circled around and around the lawn tractors waiting for Blue Crew Boy to finish with his sale. When he was done he attempted to slink off to chat with his clustered Blue Crew co-semi-workers. I tackled him so quickly Brian Urlacher would have been impressed. When he regained consciousness, I asked him, just for the pure joy of watching his eyes cross,"Where is the gearbox oil?" As Judge Judy would say, "Um, is not an answer." He returned to his semi-worker buddies and they huddled up like the Giants on a third and goal-to-go. In unison they grunted, "Automotive," clearly passing me off like that annoying neighbor kid no one wants to play with. Storming around the corner I startled the Automotive Specialists who looked like a pair of 2am bar leaners at Gaffney’s. Thumbing quickly through the Blue Crew, "What not to do." training manual, and with no gearbox oil in sight, they directed me to the Napa Auto Parts store across town. I was now faced with a man-dilemma. Do I traipse across town for a quart of gearbox oil or do I move an acre of snow with a dry gearbox? This was a tough one. After all, "Thoro's" gearbox had probably been dry for three years anyway, what's one more storm going to hurt? As I whistled and sang my way to the Sear's exit a bolt of brilliance smacked me forehead high. Tractor Supply was only one green arrow south. The night was young. I entered the land of tractor parts, birdhouses, and $2.00 tool bins with a bit of trepidation. If Tractor Supply is gearbox oil free, I may lose what’s left of a counterclockwise mind. I proceeded warily. Peering around corners like the cast of Ghost Hunters, the fear of failure began to sink in. I will brave one last attempt at asking the question I have yet to find the answer to, “Where can I find gearbox oil?” As luck would have it, the only weekend part-timer in sight was sitting on the floor assembling a pile of metal. He appeared surprised there was a customer in the store. His customer service failed response was to point vehemently backward over his shoulder toward what appeared to be the rest of the store. Surprisingly I was encouraged by this because this meant he felt strongly that the store did in fact contain the item I was in search of. Look out Uncle Jed, I smell bubbling crude! There it was glistening in the fluorescent lighting like the Hope Diamond, GL-5, SAE 85-95 Gearbox Oil. I cradled it like a pound puppy. Smiling like a chubby-cheeked kid with a bag of candy I headed for the register. Patting my right ass cheek to check for my wallet, a cold chill ran quick up my spine...

* "Thoro" stands for Thoroughbred 

October 26, 2011

Youth

"Don't ever think the poetry is dead in an old man because his forehead is wrinkled, or that his manhood had left him when his hand trembles! If they ever were there, they are there still." 
- Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. 

October 15, 2011

October Joy

video

October Joy 
Poem and video by
John R. Greenwood


On a bright October afternoon a modern day family takes a leisurely drive. Listen close and you can hear the heart of this Model T race once again. The scene saturated with the scent of fresh picked Mac’s and crisp oak leaves. A one hundred year old father-son ritual plays out as an excited boy sits on his father’s lap and steers into the future. A boyhood rite-of-passage passed on from son to son. Mom smiles approvingly, her family tucked safe within. Down the gentle grade of life to the present day where past and present mix. A visual reminder that memories are made, both looking forward and looking back.

This was the result of a coworker and his family stopping by work on his day off one recent October day. I grabbed an inexpensive camera from my desk drawer and as the family left the property I took the video above. I wrote, recorded, and added the accompanying poem later. 


October 11, 2011

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes
By John R. Greenwood
Lumpy mashed potatoes gagged a young boy. I fought and fought the Battle Royal of potatoes. I tried my best to tackle mashed potatoes as a boy, but to no avail; butter, gravy slathered heavy. The fact remained; lumps did not work for me. My life had been threatened and even then those lumpy items left by the devil would fight back, making the simplest swallow, a child’s worst nightmare. It would take many years and an electric mixer to calm my mashed potato phobia. The phobia finally cured by a young wife with a heart. Her children would never be forced to eat anything that would cause them to seek therapy as an adult. Mashed potatoes may be on your list of top ten comfort foods. But I assure you, it was never on mine. 

This was a writing exercise from Old Friend from Far Away (The Practice of Writing Memoir) by Natalie Goldberg  
J.R.G.2009

October 01, 2011

"What Happened?" (An Open Letter)

What Happened? 
October 1, 2011
Friends
Anytown, USA
Dear friends,        
As I sit here, quietly, protected and safe in my own home, in a prosperous community within the Empire State, my mind races with fear. The world and it’s people are rolling backwards like a brake failed auto. We send our pets to camp while our children live homeless and hungry. Here I sit, warm and full, while mad-men set off bombs and weak ones in masks kill neighbors. Our cars have heated seats, a half-dozen cupholders, and Disney movies. Our water is infused with imitation fruit flavor and sugar substitutes. Our priority is, ‘us’, not them, ‘me’, not you. We want to look good and feel good no matter how much it hurts. Stop the madness. Stop pushing, start praising. Pull the wheels off bandwagons of hatred and fill the bus with optimism and community spirit. As a child I was encouraged to be polite and respectful. Polite, respectful children are now a rarity. What happened? Didn’t we pay attention? Paying dues doesn’t always involve a $20. Putting in your time shouldn’t simply involve a union contract. Looking out for others must be more than a Defensive Driving maneuver. It’s easy to put words on paper. It’s harder to send a child to war or to show up once a week at the firehouse for drill night. I’m all pen and little product. I simply felt a need to say it. We all complain, like this, daily. We do it on-line, on-air, and at the office.
 It’s not all going backwards. There are growing pockets of acceptance for people of different differences. There are young people embracing change, governments opening doors, people kicking habits and patting backs; it’s just not enough. Cooperation and support needs to be cool again. Self-indulgence  and ‘me’ needs to come full circle. We must look back at what got us this far. Somewhere along the way we lost the map. We took a wrong turn. We could ask  for directions or we could go back to the intersection we turned at. Whichever route we take, we must do it now. I’m not getting any younger and the achy parts only ache more deeply when I watch the news. I don’t want to turn it off. I would rather change the channel.
Sincerely yours,
John Greenwood

My Favorite Season-My Favorite Author

Big Red - Minnesota Monthly - October 2011 - Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnesota

September 23, 2011

Alive at Five




Alive at Five
By John R. Greenwood

5am
Notes flow soft through musty cellar air
Weights clink to the swing of Rhythm & Blues 
Heart rate attempts to keep pace
Arteries full
Blood races
I swear I saw a spider swing to-and-fro


Poem and Photo by John R. Greenwood

Submitted to Poetry Pantry #67

September 03, 2011

What's The Hurry


What’s the hurry? 
By John R. Greenwood 
red car twisting
air born high 
with sudden stop 
of heart and breath 
tumbled mind 
lands hard
shaken and stirred 
a mother’s nightmare
played out in slow motion
slumped teen
scared straight 
but for a moment
eye contact too painful for him
thoughts swiftly shift
to a bloody friend left inside
no time to prepare 
for a loss of this kind


video


*As a part of my job one of my responsibilities is riding with my drivers and evaluating their work and driving performance. On this day in early September we happened upon the scene above. I clicked a few photos as we waited to be re-routed around the accident. I do not know the young man involved nor the outcome of the accident. We were told at the scene that there was indeed a passenger still in the vehicle at the time of these photos. 

August 27, 2011

Good Night Irene

Good Night Irene
By John R. Greenwood
She’s a bitch
A full-throttle
Foul-mouthed
Rain-coated bitch
She hates everyone
She has no favorites
She’ll wipe the smile from your face
Coasting upward 
Only power-line sparks,
Wet cuffs,
Broken limbs, and 
Dead flashlight batteries
Make her smile
She simply 
Doesn’t care
Fox News still loves her
State Farm pencils snap under her pressure
Sand bags tickle her ankles
Oh, the National Guard?
A mere poke in her side
Round and round she goes
Where she stops?

*Hurricane Irene August 2011

This post is a sprig of gentle humor in times of quiet consternation. 
It is not meant to diminish the concern we all have for those whose lives will be affected by this catastrophic storm.

August 21, 2011

Past Due

Past Due
By John R. Greenwood


There is no wasted revolution 
that brings peace to strangers, 
light to desperation. 
Circle the granite wagons. 
Only separated will we crack and turn to ash. 
Spin the screw tight. 
Smother bigotry and hate. 
Talk is cheap when watered with 
weakness and slouched spirit. 
There remains one chance to cleanse the soul at hand. 
It is time.
Past due.

My submission for: Sunday Whirl

Doctor's Office Observations

Doctor’s Office Observations 
By John R. Greenwood
Shuffled steps of comfy velcro walking shoes eager for someplace new to go (other than down the hall for dry bologna sandwiches and peel-top puddings), enter through the heavy pretend oak door with the cool silver handle. “Let’s make an adventure of this”, soft beige right says to soft beige left. 
In the seat across the lobby, meticulous-man sits upright and soldier ready, just waiting for the call to come. “Mr. Jackson, the doctor will see you now.” His paperwork neatly packaged, alphabetically, chronologically, by size, by importance. 
Two seats north and at right angles are mother and daughter. Two-for-one perms of curly gray and grayer sit quietly, clutching suitcase size pocketbooks filled with kleenex and pill bottles. Small talk of, Did you hear about? Did you see the news? ping-pong on and on. It’s 8:45, the sun barely up. 
Perturbed youngster of 38 sits impatient with phone in hand, eyes glued to the screen as if a text from the president was overdue. 
Muffled giggles and pacing float from behind the neck-high laminate counter. Overheard conversations of day off have-to’s and vacation want-to’s take a trained ear to decipher.  
Lottery winner of exam room #3 sits in quiet repose, head slowly nodding and bobbing like a sleepy baby in a high chair. 
As I sit and contemplate how many rare diseases are spread by the ratty, cover-rumpled magazines piled high in the corner, a softened calm overtakes me and a gentle grin takes place. 


This is my submission to this week's: Poetry Pantry