Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I have never been to Roswell and do not believe in the whole alien/UFO thing. However, I was recently in Defiance, in northwest Ohio and caught this on my camera. Just before snapping the photo there was a rumble and BOOM! and this is what I saw in the viewfinder. A small town midnight happening that may change my opinion on what is out there.
Geishas of Autumn
The tulips have danced
and bowed, the daylilies departed
from single afternoons in the sun,
the goldenrod remains as stringy
veins without ore.
A breeze rides like samurai
through the oaks and maples,
herds of severed leaves gallop
across the sidewalk.
Before the goldfinches took tour
they drained their summer
plumage onto the ginkgo.
Beneath the temple of branches
a thousand Lilliputian geishas,
porcelain faces tilted upward,
for their fans to fall.
This poem first appeared in Umbrella Journal
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I have discovered another treasure inside one the plastic storage containers. It is good to find forgotten things, stoke those times that were good, or not so good. These items remind us who we are, why we are. I distinctly remember the Garcia boxes, but not this one, the Antonio y Cleopatra. I could even give the poem a new title. Perhaps my grandfather's old boxes wore out, collapsed from lack of money. I am sure he gave this to me, although I do not remember the moment or the conversation. But, today, my memory is freshened, filled with other special times we had.
Garcia y Vega
There was an incredible simplicity to his business
accounting. A pair of Garcia y Vega cigar boxes,
one marked In, the other Out. The colorful lids belied
the raw, red hands, purple thumbs, toothpick-sized
splinters and fierce labor of pole barn construction.
Bad weather provided no excuse to stay home. Holes
were augured in frozen ground or dug by hand when
the tractor broke down. We slogged through Super Glue
mud that gripped boots, ran for the truck when lightning
sizzled the air and skated on clay slick as glycerin on glass.
Friday afternoon grungy guys gathered round the kitchen
table as pay was doled out, slowly revealing a white bottom
in the box. Someone rolled his bills and clenched them
between his teeth, “Ain’t nothing like a fat green stogie!”
We roared, ignoring the dissipating aroma of success.
It was the dwindling In and the profusely bleeding Out
that allowed me to obtain the grants to go to college.
Years later, when antique cigar boxes became the rage
of collectors, the boxes seemed to hold more value than
my grandfather’s pole barn business ever did achieve.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
I have found a time capsule, of sorts, a small cedar box that I have not opened for maybe 25 years. The box was a giveaway item, offered by Lane Furniture through its dealers. I believe this box is from the mid to late 1960s. My grandmother gave it to me to put things in, when I lived with her.
It is full of keepsakes and mementos. To my surprise I cannot remember why some of the items were saved or where they came from. I have selected a few to tell you about.
Several items were from my school days, like my high school ring. I did not order the one that was selected by my school and classmates. There was no particular reason, other than my need to buck the system. There were 310 kids in my class, I had the most beautiful class ring of all. Also, from my college days, there is my varsity letter from cross country, cut off of my jacket, and my TKE fraternity pin. I enjoyed all of my days at every level of school and am glad these items were saved.
There is a Benrus watch in the box. This watch is from 1969 and I wore it through high school and college. I stole this watch from Bargain City, a large discount superstore before WalMart or Kmart made such stores a major force. My cousin and I hitchhiked to the store and we each leaned over the jewelry counter, slid a door on one of the displays open and grabbed ourselves a watch. I am not proud of that, but we had very little of anything and everything we saw was appealing to us. The store has been long gone, or I would take the watch back and apologize.
There are two fountain pens and a letter opener in the box. I do not know why. Perhaps I realized the items were old and would one day be of great value. I shall keep them in the box and continue with that way of thinking.
There is a small collection of arrowheads. I have found many over the years, which are kept in my office on shelves. I do not know why these few are in the box, but I will remove them and place them among the others.
There is a small bag of volcanic dust which was given to me by a guy who was in the area at the time of the Mount St. Helen’s eruption. It is fine, like baby powder. He called me, when he got back to Orange County, where we lived at the time, and told me he had collected it for me, because he knew I would like to see it. I will keep this.
From December, 1972, there is an acrylic key chain with a scorpion inside. I went to Phoenix during winter break of my freshman year at Defiance College, to visit my mother, brothers and sisters. My brother bought this for me. It was never used. I have always considered it too valuable for that. It shall remain in the box, wrapped in a tissue.
There is a section of barricade tape from the 1984 L.A. Olympics. I cut this after watching the bike races in Mission Viejo, where we lived at the time. It has no value, no meaning, no anything to anyone other than me. For that reason, I will keep it.
I will tell you about only a few more items, because you will get bored reading about too many things that are meaningless to you. The first is my ID bracelet from high school. They were big at one time. Every boy had one. They were important, because it was the only thing you could give a girl if you wanted to go steady with her, if you were not an upper classman and had no class ring. Four or five girls wore this. The last to do so is still my wife to this day. This will be saved. There is a pair of Wedgewood cufflinks. I do not remember anything about them, other than, like the pens and letter opener, I figured they would be of value someday. I will keep these also, with that same belief. The last item is a gold and onyx insignia ring. I was given this in 1970. It was purchased for my uncle, who died of a heart attack. He never wore it, and probably never would have, because it would have been to sissy-like for him. I replaced the R with an S and wore it for many years. It has served me well and its value to me is many times more than the value of the gold it contains. I shall keep this, too.
In fact, after carefully going through the contents I will keep everything and place the box back where it has been. Perhaps I will add some small items first, so that I can talk about them if I get the box out again in 10 or 15 years.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
There are several airplane graveyards in desert locations out West. In one is, perhaps, an Allegheny Airlines DC-9, the plane I took my first business trip on after graduating from Bowling Green State University. I had only flown three or four times my whole life up to that point. Most of my traveling, as a boy, had been by Greyhound, leaving Defiance for Toledo where I would catch a different bus that stopped in Findlay, Upper Sandusky, Marion, Chillicothe, Jackson, Gallipolis, Charleston and finally dropping me in Beckley, WV, to spend the summer with my grandmother. It was a great way to turn a seven hour trip into 13-14 hours, plus I got to see lots of farms and forests in both states and sample various versions of egg salad sandwiches at bus stops.
It was a chilly April morning in Dayton when I boarded the Allegheny flight for New York. I had never been there, so visions of Broadway, Times Square, Central Park, muggings and crime had me sky-high before we ever lifted off. Younger readers will have to follow me here, and believe it, when I say that airlines used to serve a small, but adequate, breakfast to fliers. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it is true.
The stewardess wheeled the cart to my row and asked if I would care for the eggs and sausage breakfast, the hot cereal or the cold cereal. Well, DUH!, like in 1976 a young man would choose Cheerios or oatmeal over scrambled eggs and Bob Evans. I was savoring a bite of my lukewarm toast with grape jelly when the whole trip took a different turn. As I stabbed my plastic fork into a sausage link it slid across the tray and plopped into my lap, where no man of any age wants a two inch sausage-shaped grease stain. Then it fell to the floor and before I could move my tray and bend down to get it, it rolled toward the back of the plane.
I have no explanation for the rage it caused. I wanted that link, not to eat, but to capture it, cut into little pieces and dump it into the vomit bag that I hadn’t used for airsickness.
Seated behind me was an elderly woman, every bit over eighty-five, covered with a knitted shawl and clutching her purse with every last ounce of being. I stood and turned, plastic knife in one hand, fork in the other, and barked at her, “Did you see my sausage?” The creamy pallor drained from her skin. “I know it rolled back here and it is probably around your feet.”
As I think back now, she likely thought she was in one of those nightmares where something bad is going to happen to you and suddenly your voice is gone. You open your mouth to scream and even the hiss of the escaping air has no sound. Lucky for her the stewardess returned, pulling the food cart, and ask if she could help.
“I am looking for my sausage.”
“Sir, could you please take your seat? I am sure the crew can get it once we land.”