barista

writing poetry is like craving coffee. one bad cup, one bad line and the day is ruined. and i hate knowing that in order to love that first sip i gotta drink like 15 cups to find it. and the problem in processing caffeine is that everything starts happening at the speed of sound. shit gets missed. light becomes leaden. time blinks in and out while my senses try and make sense. noticing focuses then snaps like an oversharpened pencil. yet i keep writing with that hobbled tool making word shapes and letter sounds and sentence pictures. i once cut the line of a funeral procession because of over caffeination. i felt so bad that i wrote a poem about it. but i never apologized to the family in the lead car.  i keep looking for the line that was waiting in line. scanning for a raised hand at the back of the stanza. for the voice simmering just under the noise and the scribbles. coffee in coffee shops is easy, asking someone else to grind it out and brew it means that you are in their hands for the gift of the sip. hell you can even hand it back and ask them to make it again. and again. yet when these ridiculous dancing ideas meet dark roast and accepting paper, i light up. and if it rhymes easily, everything stops. and i stop. my heart stops. my coffee cools and i wonder if i should rewrite the whole piece around it.

meet pete part two

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My father wrote a lot.

He wrote for business, self, and quite beautifully for others.I have all of his writing and slowly, very slowly, I am making my way through his universes.

A repeating theme in my dad’s writing is the power in the family and of the family. His musings tended to project out from his inner Stephen King, but the light side was there too. In particular, his awe of my mother’s skills of connection, her superpower of social networking, that brought interesting people into his life, held great importance to him. He offered to me that it was through her that his circles widened. I countered, that it was in these persons of interest he mined some of his best character work and story plots. He smiled at that, nodded, and added wryly, ‘Ya probably.’

Though he never made much a show of it, he easily sidled up to conversations and connections.  I often marveled at his talents at the 1:1 level. He, in a large space, could find the single most important person to talk to… it could have been one of you here tonight. I am sure of it. And many of you have shared with me that he made you feel centered, valued, and respected. This was intentional, if he sat with you and spoke with you, you became an important part of his life. This was genuineness, this was generosity, this was humility, all of this is what made my Dad pretty awesome.

Personally, my memories of this talent fall somewhere between mind control and hypnotism. My adolescent threats of running away became diffuse in discussions with him. No longer on fire about some irrational teen moment, I would find myself being walked out my headspace or followed at safe distance, and ultimately he waited me out. He knew how to connect with me. Which let me connect with myself.

There were a few times when his quiet stillness, listening to me rant and rage, or ramble incoherently after a party, ‘that’s someone else’s barf on my shoes, calmed me to a point that could almost be described as rational. In the least, he stalled long enough to cause me to either forget the irrational act I had declared I would do or to admit that maybe I had one drink too many.

There is a whole lot of stuff that falls out of a time like this. The term ‘shaken’ comes to mind and in some ways paints the perfect picture of how I feel right now. Maybe it is the same for some of you as well. The nervous energy that wriggles out of shared experiences can become overwhelming. Tracking new bits of information about my dad is both thrilling and astonishing; even now I am learning about his connections in the world and witnessing the power vibrancy that still courses through them. The movement and variation of pieces in my Dad’s life suspended in air, turning, floating, and shimmering is quite mesmerizing. Grabbing just one memory from the air stirs several in its place.

It is difficult for me to read through his body of work. I have regrets that I was not more a part of his writing life. This past week, in too many cases, I found myself reading his writing for the first time. I don’t believe for a second that this was his intention. It was me. I had other things on my mind. I was in other places.

My Dad told stories often, stories were always a way for my father to connect with me. I am a storyteller because of my Dad. And because he did it so well and I followed.