A visit from scintillating scotoma

The incident described below was more intense than most of my little episodes, since my arteriovenous malformation surgery in 2005. This little barely visible crown of crosshatched scratches of lights (red, blue, yellow) first appears very small at the center of my vision. Then it grows and slowly moves to the left of my field of vision, having become rather large, taking up 70 percent or so of the area I can see, still a corona, it is clear in the center. Most times it does not leave me fazed or dazed or groggy, though obviously this time, it did.


Corona of lights

surrounds and obscures my sight,

well, not quite,


growing from a point

to a cross-hatched cluster

at vision’s center


and finally a

pulsating circled rainbow,

open, hollow.


Neural organism,

sparkling neon beauty,

dissolved in time,


leaving me shaken

and a bit nauseous,

my energy drained.


A migraine version,

but without the horrid pain.

Brain surgery’s gift.



Unnatural glow

My twenty-something neighbor was working on the twin reactors at Comanche Peak, near Glen Rose, about 45 miles southwest of here. Since our winds here are out of the south/southwest, if it ever spews out a plume of radioactivity, my neighborhood will likely begin to glow a bit itself.


Toward the end of his

tenure at nuclear plant

construction site,


my next door neighbor

became target of abuse.

Short-timer status


caused his bosses to

leave him longer and longer

with radiation


at higher levels

than humans are supposed

to be exposed to.


Even though he glowed,

it had more to do with his

heavy drinking than


his exposure to


On the other hand,


did he drink for fear

of how his health would fare

once away from rods


of uranium fuel,

meant to bring the glow of light

to the rest of us?




My wife and I were in a store just yesterday chatting with a young man from Liberia who said he’d not seen lions until coming to this country and seeing them in a zoo. Probably lots of folks think going to Africa means seeing lions, like lots of people think coming to Texas means seeing cowboys on horseback.


“Oh, yes, ma’am, of course,”

came my wife’s student’s reply,

so unexpected,


even from someone

recently of Burundi,

when he was asked


the simple question,

had he known anyone

eaten by lions?




O.K., the bride and groom graduated from TCU, hence the significance of the purple Blenko  hand-crafted glass pitcher, which magically made ours an emblem of the Mean Green of UNT, from which both Susan and I graduated.

Magic? Perhaps so….


Like quantum physics

with its logic-defying

sets of principles


and relationships,

when we bought the Blenko glass

purple-hued pitcher,


significant of

bride and groom’s alma mater,

suddenly transformed


was the green pitcher

we’ve had for decades, that’s now

a bumper sticker


for the place from which

I earned my two degrees,

and my dear wife hers.



Green ranger

You kind of have to wonder just where they recruited this young man to work in the new Buffalo River National Park. It’s a bit dodgy to draw a map on the side of your Park Service pickup, even if both you and the truck are green.


Seeking a trailhead

in the newly minted park,

we found a ranger.


And there, roadside in

Buffalo National River

he gave directions.


No paper at hand,

he carefully drew his map

on Park Service pickup


with a wood pencil.

He was newly minted too,

careless kid in green


to match his pickup,

color of his wood pencil,

the surrounding trees.



In praise of normal memory (and forgetfulness)

My wife and I have the pleasure of watching favorite movies every two years or so, seeing them, oftentimes, as though for the first time. Ah, having normal leaky-like-a-sieve memory is such a blessing. Poor C.S. Lewis, quite literally could forget nothing. He reached a point at which he could identify no literary works in English worthy of a first read, and thanks to his eidetic memory he could remember everything he had ever read before — all too well…


Poor C.S. Lewis,

with photographic recall

couldn’t read again


all of the great works

— poetry, literature —

he’d enjoyed so much.


Whereas those of us

with limited memories

can find all things fresh,


giving us a whiff

of something remembered, when

we read them again,


surprised nonetheless

by a piece of bright language

as if we read it


the very first time.



Rolling, rolling, rolling

The old car was a red ’94 Camry with a starter that was no longer reliable, but an alternator strong enough to keep it in motion, once started. For what was literally two years, I push started it, primarily with gravity provided by carefully chosen parking spaces. The new car was a brilliant blue 2007 Camry. Sweet.


After two long years

of parking my car on hills

just so it would start,


I’m happy to have

a new one, bright and shiny.

I find I don’t mind


admiring glances,

questions about the color

and how I like it.


Like Sisyphus, I’m

content to watch the rock roll,

having pushed this far.



A perfect morning: Outer Banks, Ocracoke Island

The ancestors of the residents of Ocracoke Island had themselves been shipwrecked here off the coast of the Carolinas’ Outer Banks. After that they became — at least some of them — land based pirates, setting false lights to guide trading ships into the shallows where they would founder and break up, spewing their trade goods into the sea where these islanders could reap a crop of not-quite-stolen goods. Salvaged goods, I believe they would have said, here on the shores of the graveyard the Atlantic.


A perfect morning

softly seated in the dunes,

string of black skimmers


sweeps across the pool

of isolated water,

our private air show


in the Outer Banks.

When we get to Ocracoke,

we’ll see wild horses,


descendants of ones

lost to their Spanish owners,

now corralled, once free,


running the beaches,

graveyard of the Atlantic,

having released them


where later locals

sometimes lured the ships to shore

— at least to shallows —


where they’d break apart

and remnants of their cargo

would yield goods to trade.


Deceptive lanterns,

plowing and seeding the sea,

bringing a harvest,


rendering the sands

as fruitful as any fields.

Planters of the sea.


In a restaurant

we hear the accent we’ve sought.

One of the busboys,


voice tinted English,

kept pure through isolation,

remnant of the past


when those who settled

first came to these shores themselves,

their own ships broken.