Tuesday, February 28, 2012

If I could kiss her again

If I could kiss her again
I would do it gently
Just a soft touch
Of my lips on hers
I would move close to her
Reach out and touch her
Look into her eyes
Run the back of my hand
Softly along her cheek
Lean forward
The kiss I remember
Seemed to never end
Warm, and deep
We were breathless
If I could kiss her
I would crush her to me
Crush my lips to hers
My kiss would never

Illustration is from drawing by Zindy S. D. Nielsen, an artist who lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ninepipes, Montana

No longer yours

To hunt upon
To fish its streams
To dream in
Your hand
And hold it out
Palm up
Let the rain
Collect there
In the cup
By the sky
Embraced in
Thunderheads of
Roiling clouds
Let the rain
Dribble through
Your fingers
And fall
To the ground
At your feet
Walking across
This sacred

Friday, February 17, 2012


My wife, hearing me moan about my sore forearm all day yesterday after I'd played golf in the morning, insisted on taking me to our doctor. I don't know what she said to get me an appointment on such short notice, but she was an RN, so probably knows the "code."

Dr. Smith’s nurse, a chronically cheery girl who looked about 16, told me that my BP and pulse were good, "for your age," asked me what I was seeing the doctor about (my wife told them over the phone, so maybe she was just testing me), and said the doctor would be in "shortly."

My wife read her book and I perused the handouts on benign prostate hyperplasia, prostate cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, and breast cancer, which I learned men can also get. Next time I'll remember to bring my golf magazine.

When Dr. Smith strolled in he sat down at a laptop and asked, "So what seems to be the matter?" Don't these people talk to each other?

"I hurt my arm playing golf yesterday," I said.

"Well, you aren't going to get worker's comp for that," he said, with a chuckle. He typed something on his laptop. "Which arm?"

I pointed to my right, inner forearm. "I was trying to hit a punch shot," I told him. He typed something else, then came over to where I was sitting and grabbed my arm and squeezed. "Yow!" I said.

Dr. Smith ignored my expression of pain. "Bend your arm," he directed. "Raise it over your head." I grimaced as I raised my arm, just to show that I was trying. "Say ahh", Dr. Smith said.

I opened my mouth. The doctor said, "Just kidding."

"You have a strained  forearm muscle. Probably the flexor carpi radialis. It'll get better in a week or so," Dr. Smith said, going back to his laptop to type something, probably $1500.

"What should he do for it?" my wife asked. "Besides stop complaining," she added, unnecessarily, I thought.

Dr. Smith jotted something on a prescription pad. "He can take an anti-inflammatory, like Ibuprofen, or he can use this patch for local pain relief." He handed my wife the prescription.

"Any other complaints," Dr. Smith asked, edging towards the door.

"Just my golf game," I said.

"What did you shoot?" he asked.

"108," I said, rubbing my arm.

"Oh!" he said, coming back in the room and hurriedly scratching something on his prescription pad. "We better get a CAT Scan and MRI. Do some blood work. There's gotta be something more than a sore arm wrong with you."

He handed me the prescription and hurried out of  the room. I looked at the prescription. "What hen scratching," I said, and handed it to my wife, who, having been an RN was used to deciphering doctors’ writing.

"It says, Try Bridge," she said.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Chapter 5: Communicating with Extraterrestrials

Montell Everest was chief something-or-other at ADP -- a very short, solidly-built man who exuded energy, "call me Monte," grabbed me by the elbow and half led me, half pushed me into his office, where he motioned to an old wooden office chair and then went behind his desk and sat down and just stared at me.
I started to get uncomfortable. I squirmed a bit. Looked at the blank wall over his head.
“You are one hell of a smart guy,” he finally said.
I raised my eyebrows and said, “Huh.”
“Listen, I am a mathematician,” he said. “I can do proofs, solve riddles, write equations out the ying yang, but I never did anything like you can do.” He jabbed his index finger at me. “You are...” He searched for words. “Unusual.”
“Well, thanks, uh, Monte," I said.
“That’s why we brought you here.”
“Well, I hope I can help with the JSF program,” I said.
Everest rolled his eyes. “Shit, that’s child’s play. We’ve got regular guys can do that. You’re gonna be doing something much more interesting. Much more...” Everest paused, and then made a whirring sound while he spun his index finger in the air.
That was how I learned that what I’d really be doing at Area-51 was developing a language that could be used to communicate with extraterrestrials.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Chapter Four: Arriving at Area-51
[Go to beginning]
My aerospace career took off -- pardon the pun -- like a rocket, once my thesis advisor contacted the chief scientist at Lockheed Martin and shared my thesis results on the problem of gravitational lensing. This was a phenomenon in which light from a celestial source, such as a star or galaxy, was deflected by a massive object (or objects) between the light source and the observer, and it turned out that Lockheed Martin had been struggling with the problem because of its Integrated Sensor Is Structure (ISIS) project. ISIS was a disruptive Command & Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance extremely large aperture radar capability integrated in a fully autonomous stratospheric unmanned airship. Sounds complicated, I know, but just think of it as a really big blimp. This thing was supposed to hang up in the stratosphere practically forever, and spy on everything. My results and some work I did subsequent to my hiring by Lockheed Martin helped get the ISIS program off the ground (whoops, another unintentional pun).

I soon became a superstar at Lockheed Martin and the next thing I knew I was assigned to Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Program, otherwise known as the “Skunkworks.” This super-secret research and development (R&D) operation was where many of America’s most advanced aerospace vehicles were developed, including the U-2 and the SR-71 Blackbird. I was being assigned to the F-35 Lightening II, Joint Strike Fighter program to help solve some issues with hypersonic flight and distortion of the upper wing skin, which was made from newly developed composites. At least that’s what I thought I’d be doing. I didn’t learn of my true project assignment until the VLJ on which I was flying crested Tikaboo Peak and set smoothly down on a small landing strip on the southern shore of Groom Lake at Area-51.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Chapter Three: Telling Stories
[Go to beginning]
I knew the person sitting across from me was not my grandpa, even through I was in my grandparent’s living room, and the person was sitting in my grandpa’s recliner. But he was not reclining with his mouth open, snoring loudly, he was not wearing a ratty cardigan sweater, slacks held up with a rope, and house slippers, and he did not have my grandpa’s familiar old-man smell. Plus, well, a guy knows his grandpa when he sees ‘em, right? This guy didn’t look like anyone’s grandpa. He just looked like one of those artist’s articulated models of a human.
I was studying the guy. Should I say something, ask him who he was, what he was doing in my grandparent’s house, what I was doing there, for that matter? Then he sort of shimmered and I thought I might recognize him. He looked a little like Grandpa Vinnie, and then he got wrinkles, a mole on his right check, and five o’clock shadow, and he looked a lot like him, and pretty soon we were talking about “old times;” me staying with my grandparents when mom and dad went to Elko to gamble, me helping Grandpa with the yard work, picking the swiss chard in Grandma’s garden. 
After what seemed like just a few minutes, Grandpa shifted in his chair and I was looking at Mr. Mattingly, my high school algebra teacher. What the hell is he doing here?
Actually, where is here? This looks like a school classroom. Mr. Mattingly used to hold me after class just to tell me that he felt I could do better. He told me that if I buckled down, I could make something of myself. He told me that understanding algebra could be useful to me someday.
It suddenly came to me that Mr. Mattingly wanted to know all about my college math courses. I couldn’t seem to stop talking, surprising myself with all the stuff I knew about math. I rattled on and on until I suddenly found myself back in the tube. I guess all that talk about math got to be boring. Just like this story, right? Well, whet happened next isn’t so boring. Not to me.
I aced my midterm in differential equations. Yeah, I was back. Everything seemed normal. Students wandering around campus, between classes. A sunny day, slight breeze, nothing out of the ordinary, but I remembered all that stuff that had happened to me and I knew I’d been abducted and I knew I wasn’t supposed to remember it, but somehow, maybe because I’d been stoned when it happened, I remembered. And I knew that my sudden genius math ability came from the aliens messing with my brain. So, okay. Now what?

Next week: On the road to Area-51

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Chapter Two: Grandma Giuseppina's Meatballs
[Go to beginning]
I was walking across campus sometime in the wee hours when they grabbed me.  Grabbed isn’t the right word -- I was just sort of enveloped and transported. Hey, I thought it was because I was high, stoned, really. Thought I was just floating in the cannabis smoke. Coming back from my girlfriend’s dorm room, where we’d smoked pot and done the deed. I was feeling very good, although starting to worry about my midterm in differential equations that started in five hours. Why did I sign up for an early morning math class?

All of a sudden there was complete silence and a feeling as if I had a head cold. Then I saw my Grandmother Giuseppina cooking up a storm at her old GE range and the next thing I knew “Grannie Jo” was throwing meatballs at me and I was ducking right and left, but one hit me square in the middle of the forehead and everything went black. What a strange thing to go through one’s mind while being abducted by aliens, and don’t I know it, but hey, that’s what happened.

I woke up in some kind of vertical glass or plastic tube. I was upright, but as far as I could tell, I wasn’t standing on my own two feet, as the expression goes, just floating, looking out on a very sterile, small, greenish-gray room. The first thing that went through my mind was that I was in a morgue. But I wasn’t cold. Comfy really.

Gradually the tube starting rotating. After a few rotations, it tipped until I was horizontal, still just floating there. The tube rotated again and I started feeling woozy. The tube stopped rotating and returned to vertical. Then I went to sleep.

When I woke up I was sitting in my grandmother’s living room on her old, threadbare green couch with the fuchsia pillows. There was a smell of mildew, mothballs, and meatballs. A man was sitting across from me on the recliner that my Grandpa Vincenzo used to sit in. He was not my grandpa.

Next Week: Algebra Could Be Useful To Me Someday

Friday, February 3, 2012


Chapter One: They had no corporeal presence

I was twenty when they first abducted me. In college, enrolled in aeronautical engineering, but studying women. Not a serious person at all, but they thought that in me they’d latched onto a representative member of the species. They hoped to learn something about the strange biped that seemed dominant on the planet, if you didn’t count bacteria.
I was to learn later that I was one of many humans they’d abducted over the years; they never took too many at once because they didn’t want to raise an alarm. And they could afford to take their time, because it turned out they lived forever, more or less.
I never met another “experimental subject,” on the ship, but I met several people back on planet earth who swore with great vehemence that they’d been abducted, as well. This usually happened when I’d been drinking and forgot to keep my mouth shut about my abduction, especially if I was in a bar somewhere in the midwest, where apparently people are more prone to being abducted.

I was one of only two people to remember having been abducted on several occasions. The other person, a middle-aged, divorcee, was bat-shit crazy, however. You could tell just by looking at her hair, which was incredibly frizzy and which she had styled in the shape of a flying saucer.
I wish I could describe for you the alien beings who abducted me, but they had no corporeal presence. I can’t even describe the sound of their voice, because their communications didn’t involve written or spoken language of any kind. I just became aware of what was being asked of me and responded. It was really very weird. I found myself formulating a variety of thoughts, or carrying out activities -- once I found myself doing the standing broad jump -- without knowing why I was doing any of it.

Next week: Giuseppina's Meatballs