Escalation

 

 

 

Escalator

When we were younger,

And our mother used to take us

To a three-story department store

In Clarendon, she knew that she could

Leave me at the escalators while

She shopped and my brother

Stayed with her. I loved riding

Those moving staircases and would ride

Up to the top floor and back

Down again over and over again.

I suppose it was the motion

Or the freedom of being left to

Entertain myself or riding

The wooden treads (the lower flights

Were metal) that went to

The top floor and imagining

That as I rose, I was going back in time.

Or this: when I went down

The escalator at the Woodley Park/

Zoo station of the Metro years ago,

I could not see the bottom and I thought

As I came down

I would meet my younger self

Coming

Up.

 

Dan Verner

April 27, 2017

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Feeding the Cat (A Haiku)

 

Dilute Tortie

She cries for her food

But then stops when it comes and

We are both happy.

 

Dan Verner

April 26, 2017

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How to Do Laundry

 

 

Folded Clothes

First, find some clothes

That need washing.

If you don’t have any,

Borrow some from

A neighbor.

They’ll be glad to

Let you clean their clothes

For them.

Next, find a washing machine

And a dryer or clothes line.

If you don’t have these, buy them

Or use a laundromat.

The choice is yours,

Although having your own

Washer and dryer eliminates the need

To carry around a bunch

Of quarters.

They’re heavy, and you could

Get robbed on your way.

Now take the dirty clothes

(Yours or someone else’s)

And don’t forget the bed clothes

And linens

And put them in the washer,

Taking care to make sure

The load is balanced.

If you don’t, your washer

Could beat itself to pieces

And you would be unhappy

And still not have clean clothes.

Add your favorite laundry detergent

Following the manufacturers’ suggestion

For the amount. Please note that their

Directions are only suggestions.

You can dump in a whole bottle

If you want to. Of course, suds will

Stream from the washer when you

Open the top and flow all over

Your house. You’ll be able to

Clean your house using these suds,

So it’s all good. Your house will smell

Fresh and sparkling and your

Friends will be impressed when

You come to visit.

When your wash is finished,

You have options for

Drying it.

You may use a dryer

Or you can put your wet

Clothes on a clothes line

If you can find one.

You can also drape your

Wet laundry over chairs

Or indoor drying racks

(A third possibility)

Although it will take

A week for them to dry.

It’s your time.

Clothes on a clothes line

Use free solar power to dry

The clothes (how can anything

Be so retro and so cutting edge

At the same time? I don’t know.

(If you do, call me.)

You can also put them in

The dryer, but that costs.

You choose. I’ll wait.

When your clothes are dry,

The fun has only begun.

You must fold your clothes,

Bedclothes, towels, wash cloths

And linens.

To do this, first take your briefs,

Shake them to remove

Wrinkles and fold them

Carefully so they won’t wrinkle.

Why we must do this is

Beyond me, because most people

Will not see your briefs

To know what they look

Like. At least I hope no one does.

If they do, don’t tell me.

I can’t stand the thought.

Next, take your shirts

And treat them like your

Briefs, only shirts are

Larger. If you have

Difficulty telling briefs and shirts

Apart, ask a friendly person to

Help you with this. Do not

Ask a grouch, who will tell you

A shirt is a pair of briefs or

Vice versa. That would not be

Good if you tried to wear

Your briefs as a shirt.

Take it from me. Don’t try this

At home.

Next, fold your pants

Carefully for the same reasons

You did your briefs. The difference

Is that people will see your pants,

So no wrinkles, please.

Thank you.

(If you are a man. I will not

Tell you how to launder

Women’s clothes because

I do not wear them. Some men

Do, and I support their choice.

Having a choice is important,

Don’t you think? Good. I do, too.)

Now it’s time to fold the

 

Rest of your laundry.

Towels, wash cloths

And linens are no problem

They are smaller and

You can fold them

By yourself.

But bed clothes are easier

If you have someone to help you.

I hope you do.

If not, have your dog

Or cat help you.

They’ll be glad to do it

And maybe they won’t

Wake you up in the middle

Of the night wanting to

Be fed if they can have a part

In folding the bed clothes.

Once you have your clothes folded,

You can have fun with them.

Put your nice clean socks

Over your hands

And pretend your arms and hands

Are the legs of the Rockettes.

Have yourself a high kicking

Christmas show time!

If it’s not the Christmas

Season, I won’t tell.

It will be our secret.

Take a shirt and, moving

The arm, pretend you are

Tom Brady throwing a

Touchdown with

A properly inflated ball

(If you can.)

And then, take a pair of

Pants and imagine that

You are a ballet dancer

And make your pants

Do plies and jetes and

Other French words

I do not know how to spell,

Even in English.

Take a sheet and pretend

You are sailing in the

America’s Cup and you

Are winning or

Take a towel and tie it

Around your neck

And pretend you are a

Flying hero. I don’t care

Which one, but I liked

Playing I was Superman

But don’t let me stop you.

And so, if you do all this

You will have had fun

Washing and drying

Your clothes and

Using your imagination

With them.

And you can tell everyone

About all of this.

I just know you will.

 

Dan Verner

April 25, 2017

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Silence

 

 

Rainy Day in Paris

Paris Street, Rainy Day, by the French artist Gustave         Caillebotte

 

What color is silence?

Is it the same as cold rain

On a cloudy day

Or the tinge of a flash of flame

In a stone fireplace

Or the shade of wind

Sliding by casement windows

Or the hue of an unwelcome

Good-bye

Or the clarity of an

Unshed tear?

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For the Loss of Saleema, Our Student

 

 

 

Pakistan Landscape

A Landscape in Pakistan

A small woman from Pakistan and

Older than most of our students,

You wore traditional garb,

Favoring browns and tans

That seemed to come from tree

And earth and river.

When you first came

You did not smile and

Kept your head down,

Standing by yourself

In the hall during break

While other students

Talked and laughed.

Maureen, your other teacher,

Knew how to bring you out,

Joking with you

And lowering her face to yours

So you would look at her.

Gradually, you did look up,

And spoke and laughed

And talked to other students.

And so you learned this language

Foreign to you and

So difficult for adults.

I loved

Your courage, persistence,

Shy smile and quiet dignity.

We read that you,

Away from us in the country

You came from,

Would not be coming back

Ever.

At the next class,

We teachers had not the heart

To teach, and

So we sat in plastic chairs

That night and

Remembered.

 

Dan Verner

April 23, 2017

 

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In the Silence

 

 

Silence

Today I went to a church

For a funeral and

I noticed two women

Signing to each other

In the total dead quiet

(appropriate for a funeral,

I suppose) and I thought

That they could speak with

Their hands without breaking

The silence.

And I thought back to when

I asked my daughter

Why young people preferred

Texts instead of calls

And she said, “We think it

Rude to interrupt anything

With a call. Texts are nowhere

Near as disruptive.”

Sitting in that quiet,

I thought that signing is

Better than texting, even,

Because with texting,

Buzzers sound, however

Quietly, but signers

Exchange thoughts,

Meanings and ideas

In the silence, in the

Lively

Silence.

Dan Verner

April 22, 2017

 

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Surprise

 

 

 

Surprise

The New Yorker always surprises me

When it come although

It comes every Thursday or Friday1

It’s not that I forget that I have

A subscription—it’s that

The magazine is so different

From everything else in my life.

It’s as if a tiny little UFO

Showed up in my mailbox

Or Bigfoot knocked

At my front door.

You’d be surprised, too,

Wouldn’t you?

That’s how it is

With The New Yorker.

Maybe I don’t expect

Some of the outré

Articles and statements

Within the magazine

Or coverage of issues that

Almost no one knows about

Or the cartoons that make no sense.2

Whatever it is, I can look forward

To being surprised

Almost every week.

_____

1 Five combined (i.e., biweekly) issues appear in February, June, July, August and December and at other times, as indicated on the issue’s cover.

2 My favorites. Aren’t they yours?

 

Dan Verner

April 21, 2017

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