1970 Diary

helicopters in the sky playing “That’ll be the day I die…”

1970

“Let it be” – words of wisdom from The Beatles that spoke to me

I lusted for an “American Woman”

Crossed the Song Bay Bridge under fire listening to

“Bridge over Troubled Waters”

wishing young men back home

would “Walk a Mile in My Shoes”

and know about a grunt’s blues

too many villages on fire

“Somethings Burning” by a ghostly choir

Smoky Saigon opium dens wistfully playing

“House of the Rising Sun”

1970

long range patrols in the night

“Travelin’ Band” playing in the USA

going into hostile territory every day

wondering what’s “Up around the Bend”

living in a hot humid climate

“In the Summertime” that seemed like it would never end

Taking “The Long and Winding Road,” in country

dreaming of “Lookin Out My Back Door” at home

trying not to “Spill the Wine” because I’ve seen

“Fire and Rain” and will never be the same again

***

Don’t Look Back

when you hear the cry of wild wolves behind you

don’t look back

when walking on a dark forest’s floor you hear a roar

don’t look back

when unwanted memories haunt you

look ahead

don’t look back

instead

plow ahead

with your dreams

who knows what the future brings?

***

The Wild Winds of Wonderland

like a stampede of stallions across a fertile plain

the wild winds of wonderland carries dreams to countless souls

like a heavenly hurricane

and in this magical domain no one has a name

thoughts are colored lights vibrating with energy

and a positive synergy

that’s extrasensory

celebrated in a cosmic liturgy

for the ages

***

Dad’s Fading Away

Like leaves falling off of trees with the advance of winter

my Dad’s memories are caught up in the winds of change

as he struggles to remember my name

I watch his eyes wander off to other times

back to the “good old days”

when he was young and viral

a proud Marine and father of three

he will always be

my hero

sometimes his eyes are clear and when he looks at me

I can see the man he use to be even though he’s ninety-three

sometimes suddenly he talks rationally

but those days are fading away

as I watch him every day

waiting for a miracle to come his way

I wait

and pray

***

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.

****