The Aftermath

slate gray skies

devil winds swirling

as dying embers

seek new life

ash blankets

smoldering landscapes

where neighborhoods

once stood

silent in the toxic air

mute testimony

to the terror

that had been there

scorched bodies

of humans and animals

litter the hellscape

no birds in the air

nothing left

but despair

**

Evacuating Your Home: What It Feels Like

The cities of Phoenix and Talent, next to Medford, have been burnt to the ground in the historic wildfires that raced through the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon.

When wildfires threatened my home, and my family, we had to flee from our southern Oregon community of Medford. At the same time a new reality dawned upon us; climate change was coming faster than anyone predicted.

It wasn’t that my wife and I didn’t believe in climate change. We just naively thought it was something our grandchildren had to face. The fact that the entire West Coast of America is now on fire has cast cold water on that theory.

There’s more signs across the planet that point to climate change, but we’re dealing with the worst air quality on the planet here in Medford, Oregon, and it’s got my undivided attention.

How we got here is no longer important. The dystopian future of famous fiction writers is reality. I look at the bruised orange sky from my backyard during the day and wonder if I’ll ever see blue skies again.

When my wife and I had to flee our home last week after a Level 3 warning of impending wildfires, it was a first in our forty-six years of marriage. As we raced to an evacuation center at the Jackson County Expo grounds, the fire followed us north in a shower of flaming sparks until we arrived safely at the designated sanctuary near Central Point.

We arrived with our five animals – three cats and two dogs – packed into our Nissan King cab pickup truck alongside family photo boxes, important papers, and food and water for us and the animals, and parked alongside 500 other vehicles containing refugees like ourselves. Most of us stayed in our vehicles because of the fear of COVID-19 inside the Red Cross refugee center.

My wife and I sat up all night. We couldn’t sleep. The thought that our house was burning, like hundreds of others, was a nightmare. When we found out that it was safe to come home we were relieved to find that our our house, and neighborhood, still stood.

I wish that I could properly recount my feelings. All I can say is that it’s a surreal feeling not knowing what happened to your home. You go for a ride on a roller coaster of fears that leave you weak and exhausted… until you find out that everything you owned was not destroyed by the fires engulfing the state you live in.

****

Legends and Lies

a slender arm

reached up

from the lake’s

dark waters

reaching for the sky

clutching

the legendary

sword

Excalibur

a gift for a king who would die

wielding it against enemies

who personify

evil in a mythical land

called Camelot

where

noble knights

court fair damsels

in a world

that never was

**

Under Fire

red and green tracers crisscrossing in the night sky

brass shell casings dropping on the moist forest floor

while soldiers on both sides die

for conflicting ideologies

from opposite societies

fleshy pawns

in global games of war

dead “patriots”

who faced the horror

of being

under fire

***

Islands in the Sky

the keeper of dreams

comes to imaginations

with lurid temptations

promising

islands in the sky

beauty

in the mind’s eye

a veritable Versailles

where ones mind can fly

to islands in the sky

where mythology

turns into folk etymology

and no one has to die

***

A Case For Mediocrity

fame, glory, and power motivate many

while others are content to be ordinary

the case for mediocrity

isn’t always easy to see

how living quietly

makes some happy

living without envy

and fame’s frenzy

can be

a friendly journey

without strife

the rest of your life

***

Memo to a Supreme Being

for the sake of humanity

bring us together in unity

we’re a troubled society

in desperate need of harmony

help us see

the absurdity

of denying diversity

so that we can live

together peacefully

***

Carp Diem

Towering Ambitions

Towering ambitions

like castles in the sky

are for dreamers

who aren’t afraid to fly

it takes a bold person

who isn’t afraid to die

to embrace ambition

to pursue a goal

and bring it to fruition

**

Interview With an Old Cat

Bob the Cat was interviewed one day

by a curious kitten

who wouldn’t stay away

“How did your ears get that way?

But Bob wouldn’t say

“How old are you?”

Bob told him to go away

“What do you do all day?”

Bob replied “Skip the survey”

so

the kitten finally had to concede

the old grouch wouldn’t proceed

and there’d be no interview

no wise worldview

from an old cat

like that

***