Culture shocks

The ‘Beat Generation’
now needs a pacemaker;
they can still Howl – but
it’s mostly in discomfort

Hippies now take a drag,
teeter on artificial joints
Peace, love, rock-and-roll?
Viagra, naps, Metamucil

Culture they unleashed
now subjected to leash laws
yet I admire their restraint
in not pandering to regret

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First Love

The young ballplayer drags his bat to the plate, leaving a neat,
shallow furrow in the dirt in which the seeds of success are now
sown; there is purpose to his gait, no fear. He is resolute.

He practice swings the bat in a warped, pendulum loop while his
oversized, red plastic helmet acts a boa constrictor trying to
digest his head. Dogged determination shapes the boys eyes

He stands beside home plate, tongue protruding from the lower
left corner of his mouth in intensity; his face drawn in pseudo-
sneer, he spreads his feet, digs toes firmly into the sacred dirt

The boy is ten.

He looks every bit the ballplayer; body language poised – just
shy of cocky; seriousness finger-painted in bold red dirt streaks
across the white script team name adorning his uniform shirt

His bat slowly rises, coming to rest on his shoulder as he fixes
a nearly-hardened gaze on the adversary forty-six feet ahead;
takes a deep breath, wrinkles his nose to move the sweat off

The pitcher looks at him, cocks his arm, throws. Bait not taken;
a ball! The bat in the boy’s hands wobbles alongside his head,
goes still a brief moment as the next pitch approaches before

whipping violently from his shoulder, thrust in a swept-sword
arc at the hurled sphere coming; arm muscles strain, elbows go
straight, torso and hips spin wildly, eyes close as bat meets ball…

Momentum causes the boy to teeter briefly, before an ungainly
burst from the batter’s box sends him lurching toward first as
the ball, like a flat stone on water, skims the infield dirt, kicking

up four quick puffs of diamond dust and the boy’s thought is of
only one thing; the sudden grandeur of a double – a double! – as
he rounds first, and the ball comes to a stop in the outfield grass

The boy playing right field for the opponents charges in, plucking
the ball from the turf where it has come to rest while in the same
odd, Quixotic-windmill motion he catapults it toward second base

Then it all happens so fast.

The boy has ducked his head rounding first, doggedly running
fast as he ever has or ever will, only looking up in time to see the
ball jutting from the webbing of the glove suddenly before him

the sight alerts the boy’s baseball instincts to his only option;
intuitively he launches his feet out from under him, left leg fully
extended, right leg tucked beneath him, curled at the knee

his left buttock slams into the dirt with a cloud of dust, his body
sliding to a stop a full foot in front of second base, he sees the
glove smack his shin, hearing a soft, excited voice; “You’re out!”

Lying there looking up into fading afternoon sun he can make the
silhouette of his vanquisher; arms raised in exultant triumph, ball
in one hand, glove the other, and a look of surprised satisfaction.

From flat on his back he lifts his head to focus, and through the
dissipating cloud of grit the face of his rival comes into soft focus
from beneth her frayed bent cap brim. No gloating countenance,

the gentle face is a wide smile, large eyes – framed by two tightly-
braided, long, dangling, swaying pig-tails; near the end of each
dangle shiny plastic barrettes the exact hue of her cap and jersey

There is an oddly comforting lilt to her voice saying “You’re out!”
He doesn’t hear moans of disappointment from his team’s bench.
Still on his back, chin on chest, he smiles, repeats; “You’re out.”

His head flops back on the dirt. She leans over him, still holding
the ball, hands on her knees, he again repeats, “You’re out.”
The girl nods. “Yep” she repeats with a broad smile, “You’re out.”

From that moment on, though he will often try, he can never quite
accurately articulate or explain to anyone (even himself) his inate
passion for baseball, his true love. His love of the game.

Astute, hirsute

Bought my yearly can of Barbasol today

Last year’s canister had gone rusty on the bottom,
familiar rings staining the medicine cabinet shelf;
only half empty, it’s duty was fulfilled.

Not that there was a whole lot of heavy-lifting involved
on the part of the velvety foam of my youth

Thirty-five years of never being totally clean shaven, I am
not a boon to the fine Barbasol folks bottom-line

not at just a can-a-year of rugged yet minor every-other-day
touching up of solid jaw line, not- yet-jowly neck, round
upper cheeks, twice-weekly handsomeness-mandated,
sideburn squaring.

There is sentimental pause in my facial touching-up; for
Barbasol was what my perpetually clean shaven, incredulous
that I wasn’t, grandpa forever used.

Daily opening of my bathroom cabinet reminds me of the time
when I wished to finally be ‘man enough’ to need a can of
shaving cream of my own…long before masculine irony made
such longing moot.

Looking in the mirrored cabinet as I put the can away, thinking
that though I don’t need it today, I probably will tomorrow –
or possibly the day after – though I won’t need much; the
shaving cream and I have plenty of time to get acquainted.

The can knows when it’s time for it to go.

Bought my yearly can of Barbasol today, thought about Gramps.