My Brother and Mozart my brother listens to Mozart on the porch and watches mountains and clouds he could be out there forever lost and found in the music and silence blended into all these changes he sees I don’t like your brother my father told me many years ago in confidence ashamed hanging his head He did not know Mozart nor my brother’s power to listen once when the alley kids threatened my brother I faced them down and stood up to all their deadly taunts so what if they beat me up how could they know how my brother could hear in between the spaces
The Water Machine In the Adams Pharmacy, Adams Hotel, on June 20, 1916 Frank L. “Kroopie” Toombs demonstrated to an amazed and slack-jawed gathering of Phoenix citizens the first evaporative cooler with aspen pads. A squat and ruddy man with slits for eyes and a short sloping forehead, Kroopie Toombs had one ambition: “Soon every roof in the great Southwest will have one of these here water machines cranking away to keep everyone cool. I’ll be rich.” A tiny tear appeared in the corner of Kroopie’s improbably tiny right eye. If you are just beginning your summer swamp cooler maintenance, you have good old Frank L. Kroopie Toombs to thank for the hazardous journey on which you are about to embark. Of course, as every wise swamper knows, cooler maintenance is almost never really done, never really finished through the summer months and on through the fading year. Sooner or later, a hose will pop, the float valve will cease to function, a pillow bearing in the whatchamacallit will spew squirrel parts released from their ever-rotating cage throughout the living room, swampwater-saturated squirrel parts yearning to destroy grandma’s leather couch. There is wisdom here! The cognitive dissonance between supposed completion of the annual swamp cooler restoration ritual and the fact of cooler entropy has ripped apart many a good swamper, leaving him or her trembling between abject defeat and ecstasy, hunkered at the bottom of the ladder surrounded by copper or plastic tubing, compression nuts, aspen pads, and duct tape, water spraying everywhere. Ah, yes, time for yet the twentieth excursion to Home Despot to purchase yet another pump, yet another fan belt, yet another spider distributor kit. So persistent, so infused in the biochemistry of every swamp cooler devotee, the call of the wounded cooler will sound through the bones even in winter months. If you see me up on my roof at work on the swamps, on the complex system of tubes and ducts in the bleakest of snow storms, wielding my wire brush, and screaming curses and benedictions to the ghost of Kroopie Toombs, do not interfere or call me down from my slippery and icy perch. This endless swamp cooler maintenance is as close to deity as a human is allowed to get.
By Corrales drain where sky enters water and tinged by the scent of clouds the air blue and fallen back to earth as rain
Biography of a Disappointed Bete Noire:
North Valley Poet, Photographer, Curmudgeon, James “jimbu” Burbank
I have suddenly come to the realization that my capacity for becoming a bete noire diminishes with every fading year. I weep. I am indeed edging toward eminence grise, but I’m over the hill I guess for bete noire.
Damn. I’ve always wanted to growl, and be respected for it. My growls might shake the world to its very core and set old men and young kids trembling in fear, I thought. But then along came the word “curmudgeon” that stuck itself to my gnarled and wizened form like a sign.
Damn. I wanted to be a bete noire and ended up a bad-tempered, cantankerous old crank grumbling about the meaning of life over in the corner somewhere.
Not a bad exchange, I’d say, trading bete noire for curmudgeon. At least I’m good at being difficult. You’ve got to know what’s important in life, and being good at something, anything really, that is crucial, my friends.