Friday, June 30, 2017

The Sound of Water Breaking on a Beach

The Sound of Water

If I asked you to close your eyes
and sit in a soundproof room,
to relax
and settle into your own head
could you imagine doing so?

Suppose you did just that
and I asked you to create,
in this meditative state,
a single soothing color or
a relaxing scent?

Would you then try something
with sound?
If there was a place you could be
in which sound was the only
sensory input,

what stimulation might you
try to generate in your head?
The rustling of pine needles
as you walk through a forest?
The flapping of owl wings?

Waves lapping on a sandy beach?
Or human sounds?
Someone turning over in their slumber,
blankets and sheets moving slightly?
A piano being played far far away?

A choir?

Last night I was not dreaming.
I awoke at midnight to what I first
imagined was a party taking place
in my building.
I was not dreaming.

It was not a party in any normal sense.
It was a choir group singing on the street,
many young voices singing songs
I am sure they meant as uplifting.
They kept me awake for two hours.

I wanted the sound of water
breaking upon a beach in Michigan.

Paris 2017 #63

Sandy Kinnee

The Last Pages of a Book

The Last Pages of a Book

Each story, like a life, has a beginning
and an end.
I am reading a book.

It is not a book I ever expected to read. 
It wasn't recommended to me.
It just was not my kind of book. 

But I had nothing to read
and this book was available.
I began reading.

Once hooked, I could not put it down.
And now, I am
about to finish reading the book.

I do not want to put the book down,
to close the book. 
Yet, I want it to be over.

Give me a conclusion
Let me say: I am glad I read that book.
Now I can put it on the shelf.

I am sitting in a yellow chair.
I feel I have been reading this book
for years.

Paris 2017 #62

Sandy Kinnee

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Paris In My Ears

Paris In My Ears

Most of the time when I walk in Paris,
I walk alone and listen.
You might expect a cacophonous texture 
a weaving of car horns,
revving engines, 
city sounds, brakes.

That is not my experience.
It is meditative.

I hear the sound of the little orange cat,
Belle, when her owner comes down
to check the mail.

I walk in the Luxembourg gardens
and a band is playing a half mile away,
but what reaches my ears
are the rustling of leaves,
two green parrots eating fruit.

Yes, wild parrots in Paris!

Paris 2017 #61 

Sandy Kinnee

Sitting In a Yellow Chair

Sitting In a Yellow Chair

I'm sitting in a yellow chair reading a book
I wish I hadn't started.

One in which a plane crashes and
everyone but an artist dies.
Somehow I identify with him.
Imagine that.

I am reading to quickly finish the story. 
It is well written but nothing like what I prefer.
The book haunts me in my dreams. 
I must get it over with.

So, here I sit in a yellow chair,

A man, but not a sales person wants to point out
that I am sitting in an expensive chair. 
He says I should pay rent.  I smile.

I know the chair well and feel I have in a sense
already paid the rent.

It is a yellow Saarinen Womb chair and foot rest. 
My daughter spent three years living in a Saarinen dorm,
part of the time playing hockey in a Saarinen rink.

Besides, decades earlier Ereo and his brother would
wander down to the Cranbrook painting studio the watch
my sixteen year old aunt spread yellow oil paint on canvas.

They were boys. She was cute.
I sit in the yellow chair.

Paris 2017 #60

Sandy Kinnee

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Gold Ring and “Do You Speak English?”

The Gold Ring and “Do You Speak English?”

Along with the ever successful, please sign this petition while my small colleague takes your wallet, are two other frequently performed scams: Look! A gold ring on the sidewalk! and “Do you speak English?” They pop up in every city, but I happen to see them in Paris, because this is where I spend my time.

I can't imagine anyone fooled by the gold plated ring. The perpetrator is walking toward the mark and stoops to the ground to look as though he or she has just discovered a solid gold ring. Being an honest person and assuming you are not, he/she says it is half yours, as you clearly saw it at the same time. You should split it with him or her, yes? I think you are supposed to be so greedy that you offer the trickster a fraction of what it should be worth. You give the money and take the solid gold ring that is only thinly plated. I have never seen anyone fall for that silly trick. The would-be-scammers probably only do it from boredom. When I see someone perform this slight of hand trick, I walk past and then offer a critique, like “use more gusto!”

“Do you speak English?” is an old stand by with a new twist. Previously, It was run by people who did not speak English on unsuspecting American tourists. Why would someone with a heavy accent need help from an American rather than someone who spoke their native language?  The crook would be carrying an empty old suitcase, another mistake - a suitcase no one in the USA would ever buy. One premise is they are lost and while you try to give them directions, an accomplice pilfers your valuables. The more common ploy is they have been robbed or somehow lost their money and need to get a taxi, or bus, etc.  Give them something to help a fellow American get home. That can't possibly work. Yet, yesterday I encountered a new variation.

A woman with a Brooklyn accent is handsomely dressed. She is in fact an American. She runs the same scam. Danger.  I stopped and told her that by starting her ruse with “Do you speak English?”, it sounds like a scam. I wished her good luck and good bye.

Later on I discovered my wallet was missing.

Not really.

Paris 2017 #59

Sandy Kinnee

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My Nickname There

My Nickname There

Of course they recognize me at the boulangerie.
I frequent the shop daily,
sometimes showing up at seven and then again
at eleven thirty.

Actually I should know their names,
but don't.
It might be helpful if they wore name tags.
I know their faces and their smiles as they
put up with my awful French.

The woman who gives me my baguette and croissants
refers to me as "Le homme avec une mille lunettes".
That is her nickname for me.
She told me so this morning.

I will tell her my proper name next time
and learn hers.

"Le homme avec une mille lunettes"
Not quite  a thousand round eyeglasses,
but it seems I'm headed in that direction.

Paris 2017 #58

Sandy Kinnee

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Pink Macaron

A Pink Macaron

Two macarons remained in the box.
I left the lemon one for the person
who loves lemon and took the pink one
imagining it either strawberry or raspberry
it wasn't

Ah, not a berry at all.  It was Rose.
I nibbled and my grandmother materialized.

For such a small pink cookie
it was loaded with recollection

Her name, the flowers in her yard,
the funeral home,
the funeral too
painful to attend.

She was not a pink woman.
But, she was a Rose.

She gave me unconditional love
and rhubarb pies with cold milk.

 Paris 2017 #57

Sandy Kinnee

Loss, Rebirth, and a Funeral

Loss, Rebirth, and a Funeral

"Anna, Anna!!!"  Everyone in the metro car looked up at once. The woman's face was contorted in pain. Her husband stood behind her emotionless. The doors had closed and Anna was not with them. The mother was in tears. An older woman touched the mother on the wrist and pointed to the windows connecting this car to the next.

Anna, a twelve year old girl, was pressing her face to the glass, waving to her mother.

It was only when the train stopped and the two were reunited that the mother changed her expression. Now it was utter joy, a rebirth.

This morning, in front of St. Sulpice, five men dressed in black stood next to a blacker hearse. A sixth sat inside the vehicle texting.

Paris 2017 #56 

Sandy Kinnee

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Where Do Poems Come From?

Catching Them

The poems come
tumbling down when
they feel like it

and I must be ready
with a basket
to catch them

before they
fall to the ground


Paris 2017 #55

Sandy Kinnee

Charles Bukowski Portrait

Paris 2017 #54

Sandy Kinnee

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Coiled Garden Hoses

Coiled Garden Hoses

Never could get the knack
of how to recoil a hose.

Mine are always
spaghetti al dente 

 Paris 2017 #53

Sandy Kinnee

That Particular Imperfection

That Particular Imperfection

I look at the still wet black ink drawing I have just made.
It will never be more beautiful than it is now
and no more beautiful than when it has dried.

The paper is puckered thanks to the moisture
the wet ink imparts.

A tension exists between clear expanses of dry paper
and the black islands of fresh ink.
The paper shows its beauty.

That particular degree of imperfection
is in a constant state of changing.

Like your face held gently between the palms
of someone who accepts who you have been
and who you are and appreciates

your ever interesting imperfections.
You are the wet ink. You are the dry.

Paris 2017 #52

Sandy Kinnee

Friday, June 23, 2017

Even Cluny

Even Cluny

Even Cluny with its Christian artifacts and numerous images of the Christ, seems less church-like than the home and studio of Gustav Moreau.  The proportions of the space, high vaulted ceiling and placement of the spiral staircase, as if the painter will mount the pulpit and sermonize with paint.

He sermonizes with paint all right.

Hushed voices, if any voices at all are heard under this enormous ceiling.  No one is asked to talk softly, in lowered voices.  The space itself tells us that. Here you don't talk in normal voices, play music, check your phone for messages. 

There is just too much to take in, each individual painting like an epic poem in a room filled with endless visual, epic poems.

Count.., if you can: the horses, unicorns, swans, doves, elephants, bulls, sacred cows, moons, glowing stars, gold frames, brass plaques, gods and goddesses, the number of framed artworks.  Once I spent the better part of a day examining the drawings in one of the numerous study cabinets.

I ceased due to utter exhaustion, absolutely drained, with a sort of smile.

Paris 2017 #51

Sandy Kinnee

Wasted Day Thus Far

Wasted Day Thus Far

I thought it was a wasted day
I don't know               

I had only written one poem
worked on four paintings

 I felt like I hadn't done much
 felt like a wasted day

then I walked out into the
courtyard and there was

my little kitty friend Belle. 
I knelt on the cobble stones

and stroked this dainty
pale orange cat,

who rolling begged for more.
it wasn't a wasted day after all.

Paris 2017 #50

Sandy Kinnee

Flip Flops

Flip Flops

It is really nothing but a minor cluster
of sounds breaking the peace.

A door somewhere nearby opens then closes
evidenced simply by the lack of oiled metal hinges.

A single pair of foam flip flops cross
the cobblestones in a regular pattern of soft slaps
another set of hinges on a further door calls for oil.

A return to peaceful contemplation
until the truck stops outside in the street
and the green plastic trash bins inverted.

Then the bins reverberate in their emptiness
as they bounce over the same cobblestones
not long before slapped by flip flops.

Paris 2017 #49

Sandy Kinnee

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Five Note Scale

Five Note Scale

Is it true classic Chinese
music is built of five

basic notes? Or is it
wishful thinking on my part

that my simple clusters of
five words or phrases or

letters or stanzas or blocks
or dots can invoke an

environment in which our minds
may pause?Give me the

five notes. Hum for me.

Paris 2017 #48

Sandy Kinnee

Traveling Quietly

Traveling Quietly 

Quiet and peaceful on the metro
as if I am moving
underground with hundreds
also meditating

Silence augmented
Not broken
by the playing of a non-disruptive

It gives one time to examine
little things such as the cerulean
blue laces on the black wing tips
of a business man heading to work

Paris 2017 #47

Sandy Kinnee

Impressionism and Air Conditioning

Impressionism and Air Conditioning

Early morning resting my posterior
on a charcoal leather bench
surrounded on four sides
by Degas, Caillebotte, Renoir, Monet.

I am a happily spoiled man
Lucky to be alone
in the Orsay museum
a solid hour in advance of the crowds

Plus I do not have to share
this glorious air conditioning
with anyone except a few guards
who are chatting.

A girl with a sheaf of papers
wanders into the gallery
and I understand that horde
will follow too soon

sucking up what had been mine alone:
the brush strokes, dappled light upon
some canvases gas light and sunlight 
through unseen windows on the remainder.

All these paintings illuminated by
 spotlights and indirect sunlight
and bathed by controlled humidity
and delicious air conditioning.

I take it all in and smile back at those
haystacks and the Japanese Bridge.

Paris 2017 #46

Sandy Kinnee

That Could Take a Lifetime

That Could Take a Lifetime

The only one of my grandparents who wasn't born in Canada was the one who put me on the front seat of her Desoto and took me over the bridge to that foreign land. She was born in the United States, her other siblings in Prussia.

Living on a border, or living in a border town lets one see differences without fearing them. The people across the lake and river were known as Canadians. 

The same might be true of folks who live in neighboring states or towns or perhaps live in the city and visit their cousins dairy. They probably cross into unknown territory and discover that a different way is just a different way and not dangerous. Differences enrich us and my grandmother wanted to show me that there was a world to discover. 

We left the American side of the border and before entering Canada had to answer the questions of the Canadian Douane, border agent. The three questions were simple.
Where were you born? What is the purpose of your visit? Do you have anything to declare?

The first and last questions had short answers, USA and no. The middle question was answered by my grandmother this way "I want to show my grandson what is different and special about Canada".

The Douane bent forward and rested his forearms on the frame of the car window, poking his head inside, "My dear madame, I fear that would take a lifetime."

My grandmother shook her head in agreement.

Sandy Kinnee

Oh Show Me

Oh Show Me

Oh show me
which image
has caught your eye
and let you slip unseen
around the corner
and out of this
version of reality

Sandy Kinnee

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Room Enough For Small Painting

Not Room Enough

While there is no where
near the amount of space
in this Parisian apartment
to paint on the scale
I have been working,
I have made use of my time
to work with words;
more easily shoved
into my laptop.

Yesterday something
happened to change things.
A gear or flywheel or
mechanism in some
damp part of me kicked in
and began making marks
upon the pages
of the stack of large notebooks
I brought along.

Simply small and limited
to black ink,
yet visual in that you don't
look at them,
the way you do
with written words,
and let the eye shuttle
the marks to your ears.

No, these are fully visual
things without sound,
not read by sounding-out
the marks in your ear.
These bypass the ear and
the nose and the tongue
and plug into some primal part 
of your brain.
Possibly it also visits your gut.

Look, mom, I'm riding
two bikes at the same time.

There is room enough
for small painting.

Sandy Kinnee

The Frozen Pea Trick

It's Not That Hot Yet

Those nights when ones skin melted
against the sheets
and there was no chance of sleeping

except to pass out from exhaustion
or to get up,
change the sheet and pillow case

and walk to the lake.
A quick dip on a moonless night,
then back on top of dry sheets. 

In Paris, I can change the sheets,
take a walk along the Seine, 
but no quick dip.

A cold shower
back in the apartment
with no air conditioning.

Hotter nights are forecast.
Time to use the frozen peas trick.
Bring many bags to bed as lovers.

Sandy Kinnee

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Excitement of Laundry Lists

The Excitement of Laundry Lists

You have never been tempted to read
other peoples shopping lists
or laundry lists.
It is better to go shopping
for yourself.
I recommend against sorting
a stranger's dirty clothing.

I can understand how few
might want to read a strangers poem
or short story unless
threatened with a sharp object. 

Who, otherwise, would be foolish
enough to waste even three minutes
reading a stranger's writing,
unless they guessed that
the conclusion might culminate
in a tiny smile crawling somewhere
between their chin and nose?

Not face scrubbed with sweaty socks.

Sandy Kinnee 

Wretched Pen-Pusher Or

Wretched Pen-Pusher Or

I shake the handle. Ring the bell.
The door is locked to me.
I need a key to get
inside J.K. Huysmans’
Against the Grain.

Here I sit with both
an American and an
English translation.
Some French words and phrases
too pregnant and succulent,
magical locks require
magical keys.

Each translator unlocks
I cherry pick some
enchanted juxtapositions that the
translators offer as their
interpretations of the writer’s intent.

A shower of sparks
the abuse of miracles
groans and grimaces
a taste for the marvelous
enchantments of style

black mercury ointment
languorous dejection
delightful sadness
shameless gyration
feverishly awaiting

a god who protects scoundrels
humdrum happiness
delicately tinted soap bubbles

a handful of poets sparkled
achieved through artifice
impact of galoshes

Two translations
neither more correct than
the other, each in their own way
enchanting and colorful.

Fiddle-faddle versus mish-mash
And twaddle
festive or voluptuous
like fire versus red hot needles
besotted or befuddled

the weather went from bad to worse
the weather was becoming very unsettled

This pitiable autumn or this lamentable autumn
moralizing nonsense or balderdash
Wishy-washy or ho hum

wretched pen-pusher or scribbler
or one who lackadaisically slaps the keyboard
not of a piano forte,
but his laptop

Wretched pen-pusher that I am

Sandy Kinnee

The Bed Loop

The Bed Loop

She awoke
True to form
She immediately
made the bed

The act of
the bed
So tired her

That she
back Down
To rest

When she
She made
the bed

Sandy Kinnee

His Muse Appears in the Grocery Line Again

His Muse Appears in the Grocery Line Again

Not always, but often enough,
he would look at what the shopper before him
took from his or her cart
and placed on the check out belt.

As he observed he might imagine a possible
thread uniting the various ingredients
into a meal or a party.
He conflated a scenario that may be probable
or fantastic.

The moving belt of the checkout lane was his muse.

Each combination of groceries was unique.
He recalls one pleasantly dressed man
purchasing a decorated birthday cake,
paper napkins,
a number of rolls of paper towels,
ice cream, Jello pudding,
two cartons of rat killer, and six gallons of bleach.
The man also bought a ski mask and a chain saw.

Sandy Kinnee

Models and Muses

Models and Muses

So much jealousy is self generated, as product of a fantasy that others are getting more, having more fun, taking more drugs, behaving badly, getting more sex, enjoying life too much or at least more than I am.

Most of the time the jealousy is its own worst enemy and what is imagined holds no resemblance to reality. For instance, when I speak of muses and models the general public conjures up sex, sex, and sex. All that sex would possibly inspire, but where would be the time to express or follow up on the creative exploitation of the inspiration from sex, sex, sex.  For example, my aunt is a painter. She is single and if you look at her paintings you notice the portraits of many men, handsome and sexy men. These are portraits she has kept, not commissions.  Why does she have these men on her studio walls? Some may or may not have been lovers. But they each have been models. I modeled for her several times in my life. Painting is not a slap and a dash, artist in a garret, starving for art. Art takes the time it takes and if you are sitting for a portrait, it seems to last eons.

My aunt told me why she painted so many men. It was to place them across from her, where she could watch them and they couldn't be grabbing her, yes, grabbing her ass. In fact, she said, while she painted these portraits she would be working on two paintings on two easels. The model could see the face of neither canvas as she worked. She also had a rule about unfinished paintings. No one was allowed to see a work in progress. It always gave the wrong idea of the work and invited unwanted suggestions. Only after the painting was signed did she show the sitter.  Otherwise, she covered her work with drapery.

Did she have amorous relations with these men? That was her business. I know of one model where this was not a question. People fantasize too much about what they don't know.

The same is true or truer about muses. I have gotten to the point that to call someone a muse is a no no. There are too many wrong assumptions made by those who do not need the fuel that inspiration provides. So, how can I explain that a painting or a piece of music or a cherub in my dream or a fragment from an email has sparked a thought, leading to a new work.

Or that my cat, Lucy,  still pops up in my dreams to point out something only an old cat might know.

Lucy was not a model. She remains a marvelous muse.

Sandy Kinnee

The Stonepecker

The Stonepecker

The stonepecker is a rare bird. 
Only the metal ones survive
the harsh winters of Paris
clinging to limestone facades.

One expects that like
the woodpecker they peck
for food hidden in rotted stone. 

No, they eat gnats and lick
the stone for their
mineral supplements.

Sandy Kinnee

Sailor Watching For the Next Metro

Sailor Watching For the Next Metro

He stands spyglass pointed down the tunnel
awaiting a metro car that will pick him up. 
Doors of each train open,
but he is committed to the perfect car,
one filled with all his friends.

It is an obsession.  He watches and waits. 
He is in no hurry.

He will keep his eye glued to the tunnel 
for thirty days. 

Only then will the person with the little
aluminum ladder stop his crazy obsession.

Pasting a new poster over him.
Putting to our sailor to bed.

Sandy Kinnee

Mating Call of the Cherubim

Mating Call of the Cherubim

When we see cherubs with their tiny wings
fluttering to hold up their chubby baby bodies
do we think, my, such cute naked flying babies?


So, what about cherubs? Are they really babies,
just now born from nowhere with wings
destined to be terrible two monsters,
then later on teen angels?

Is there a life cycle for them
or are they cherubic forever?
On little boy cherubs we may identify
teeny genitalia. There are girls as well. 

Is it possible that cherubs remain this size
all their natural lives?
And do they reproduce as humans do?
Or is the genitalia merely decorative?

House cats don't grow up to become
full size lions and tigers.
Domestic cats are domestic cats.
Cherubim are cherub-size.

I imagine the cherubim live hundreds
of years and are as private in
intimate moments as other animals
and supernatural beings. 
We only see them when they flutter.

Undoubtedly they know more
than fluttering around.

Isn't Cupid a cherub?
Are not his arrows those tasted
by Saint Teresa during her ecstasy ?

Sandy Kinnee

Lists as Poetry

Lists as Poetry

While I wish to present to you a list of obsolete jobs, tools, activities, fads, fashions, technologies, and such; I recently witnessed a poetry reading of a list of cuts of meats and do not want to be so self indulgent. Listening to someone else reading a list can test the patience of anyone.

I recall many decades ago how testing the commitment of an audience was not uncommon. A very clever young writer illustrated this using a fictional artist who demanded the full attention of the buyer of one of his artworks. The artwork was the interior canopy of a parachute, only visible to the parachutist between release of the chute and eventual landing. The story was in Another Roadside attraction, the writer Tim Robbins. 

I do not demand you pay attention.  I hope you do pay attention and will be rewarded for sticking around long enough to find the conclusion.

So, it is not my way to test your patience.  The short list I would have presented would be of the comings and goings of technologies and how one concept pushes another aside, while taking part of the older method into the newer. The typewriter surrendered its keyboard to newer technologies.

What changes changes and evolves. What doesn't change are the technologies of the human condition and the heart and mind.

And in the end I contradict myself and speak of lists.  While reading a list aloud may try the patience of an audience, list making is essentially a craving for order, the making of sense of the world. Lists were the earliest uses of written language.  Lists led to an awakened and widening of concepts that have never gone fully out of use.

Lists are meant to be in written form, intended to be read a line at a time.

That’s it. That is all I wanted to say. Trying to make sense of the world is useful from time to time.

Sandy Kinnee

No One Wants

No One Wants

In a parallel life I would create a big machine as large as a desk with which I could send a facsimile of whatever is on a sheet of paper to someone who might have an identical machine. I might build a metal thing with twenty-six or more little disks which I could depress rapidly, sort of banging upon these disks with either of my index fingers. I probably would use a tiny ink roller and apply ink to each of the individual twenty-six letters of the alphabet just moments before striking the disk. Or possibly some sort of inky ribbon to sit patiently between the alphabetic ends of the depressed  disks and a sheet of paper upon which I would be making marks to send in facsimile form from one desk-size machine to another.

Or, in this other life I might also make other machines and paint things or put words onto paper by some simple means. These things and activities could also be as unneeded and undesired as those products I make in so-to-speak-fancy life. My fancy life is the one from which I compose this collection of sequential words.

In the future the old becomes new. Peacock feathers will be carved into writing quills, dipping their points into bowls of ink from squid.  The skins of lambs will be bound between calfskin flaps. People will find new uses for parking meters. Babysitting and dog walking will become obsolete skills.

Until these things come to pass, I will continue to make things that no one needs, until they need them.

Each painting and every written piece an island of escape.

Sandy Kinnee

This Paris Climate

This Paris Climate

My fingers are trying to tell me
something I already know.

This climate agrees with me.
My fingers are never so supple
as when I am in Paris.

My fingers want to live here always.

Unfortunately, there is no room
to paint.

Sandy Kinnee

Grandma's Teeth

Grandma's Teeth

My grandmother kept her teeth
in a glass by the bed.

My grandfather's leg was
somewhere in the back yard


Sandy Kinnee

Six Old Handkerchiefs

Six Old Handkerchiefs

A lady at the antique market
sold me six handkerchiefs
for 5 euros.

To me, that's a good bargain.
It's like a bottomless
box of Kleenex.

No one uses hankies any more.
They come from a different
time and place.

Think of the romantic young lady
who intentionally drops her hankie
for a gentleman.

Or, how a gentleman offers
his handkerchief to a gentlewoman
so she might wipe away her tears.

That is so opposite to the monk
in the John Cage piece, who hits
the lady to give her something to cry about.

He certainly does not hand her
a crisp new handkerchief,
only more grief.

Sandy Kinnee

Checkout Lane

Checkout Lane

This is the checkout lane shuffle or how to maximize your visit to a Parisian grocery store without doing much in the way of shopping.

It was my intent to get in and get out quickly. No searching was involved. Each of the items was exactly where they should be.  I put Kleenex, ham, cheese, cranberry juice, and Canada Dry ginger ale into my basket then headed toward checkout.

Shoppers are not cattle, but sometimes it seems we are treated that way, today in particular.  There are ten check stands, only three were open.  Each had a line of six patrons.  Then suddenly there were two lines of nine, when one check stands register broke down.  Which line was I in, you ask?

I was now at the back of my second line, as patrons fled from the broken register.   Wouldn't you know that I picked the wrong lane a second time!  The patron checking out got into a fight over two things.  She was upset about a charge for one of her many little items and demanded the bill be nullified and checked out again.  The cashier got out a phone and called the manager. The manager authorized the procedure and went away to attend a problem at the other check stand.

There were by now fifteen people in each stalled line.  I was still number nine.

The groceries were checked out again and the total was the same as before.  Now, the woman wanted to remove some of the items to lower the total bill.

A new cash register was opened making for three again, and those at the end of the lines rushed into the new line.  There was no point for me in changing lines again.  I stayed where I was, expecting to shortly be eighth in line. Are you laughing yet?

When the woman who had just put back what she didn't want to pay for, a new total was arrived at and the woman opened her purse.  The bill was for 47 euros.  She handed the clerk a 500 euro note.

At that point I fled to the line that had just opened.  I knew the clerk was going to have to call the manager and that more delays would follow.  No, the woman did not have a credit card.

Remember that third original lane? They had been moving at glacial speed until a client, also with no credit card or identification tried to buy a package of chewing gum with a fifty euro bill.  I had a front row seat as three police officers accompanied her to the store's office.

Being ninth in line makes for good seats to drama. My new line worked like a charm and the cashier was pleased that I had exact change and my own bags.

I paid with American Express. Don't leave home without it.

Sandy Kinnee

Upon Viewing a Standing Mattress

Upon Viewing a Standing Mattress

When one sees an old mattress standing vertically,
leaning against a brick wall or a dumpster,
it makes little or no sense visually or otherwise.

Guttural and mental reactions
to a discarded mattress are never positive,
especially when the smell floats like a putrid cloud
or stains are visible, especially identifiable discoloration.

Can one reach a point of neutrality
regarding a used up bed to consider the function
of this thing? 

It was designed with a purpose which
it undoubtedly has served, a platform
for human relaxation,
a surface familiar with both pleasure and illness.

This is a discarded object, used up and rejected,
absolutely devoid of grace or beauty and yet,
there is a sculpted shape, relaxed form,
the way it bends,
a distant cousin to van Gogh’s painted portrait
of an old worn pair of brown boots.

This cast off vertical object, fatigued bed standing
perpendicular to its natural state,
marking time until it is hauled to the dump
or salvaged by a homeless person who dreams
of sleeping on other than cardboard.

A tired old slab stuffed with memories
has served its purpose.

Are there tales to tell about those who slept here?
Was there love, betrayal, or just simply the need
for a better nights sleep that has led
to this mattress being tossed out?

Left slumped outside.
How neutral the smell of a new mattress.
Like a fresh notebook with not a scribble
not yet the ring shaped stain of a coffee mug.

Sandy Kinnee

The Size of a Walnut Shell

The Size of a Walnut Shell

I wash my face in the morning
some soap
and the hottest water I can tolerate,
then rinse with hot again

the purpose to soften my whiskers

some ancient can of shaving cream
bore instructions for use: 
all you need is a walnut size
dollop of foam
to slather over cheeks,
chin, and throat

I shave, shower, dry off.

The shave cream did not say shell
did not say kernel

only walnut size

The deodorant has
no directions or suggestions

Sandy Kinnee

Increasing Imbalance

Increasing Imbalance

She was walking toward us
on the cobble stones
an ice cream
cone in each hand.

One cone she held
at the end of
an out stretched arm,
carrying it to an unseen recipient.

The cone in her left hand
she pulled to her lips,
then away.
And repeated lapping

As one cone diminished
in mass she seemed to struggle
against a greater imbalance
in her forward staggering

Rum raisin?

Sandy Kinnee

Learning to See Again

Learning to See Again

When I was a little boy I lost the ability to walk. Perhaps you have read that story. It was due to a strange accident that no one witnessed. Eventually I relearned how to crawl, stand, walk and run.

My eyes were different. It was no accident unseen. It was a gradual change that made reading painful. My vision was as normal, as far I knew.  I had always had good visual acuity.  I had no problems with my cones or rods. My depth perception was as it should be.  The issue was a matter of focus, but only gradually, over years and years.

During high school I rode the bus an hour each way from home to school, plenty of time to read. I devoured books. I breathed them. I wanted to read so much that I learned to speed-read. Speed reading was for assigned, not pleasure reading. Speed reading was for homework and assigned material. At some time, off in the future, I began getting headaches brought on by my reading. I did not choose to cut back on the reading, the displeasure made it a matter of survival. Eventually I only read what I had to read.

At some point, hearing me sigh about a favorite book I hadn't read in decades, a friend suggested I try reading glasses. I did and the transformation was fantastic. I could read pain free. Buying reading glasses was as easy as it was cheap. I could pick up a pair most anywhere; the bookstore, pharmacy, or sometimes even the grocery.  But cheap and common means I could sit on a pair with no remorse, drop a pair while standing up and step on them with no concern, could forget them in a restaurant and feel no guilt. Sometime the arm might fall off or a lens pop out. I was perpetually destroying or losing my reading glasses.  I spent a minor fortune on them.

Then, in Venice for the Biennale, I was looking for a recommended restaurant when I saw a small eye glass shop with round glasses on display. That day my life changed. I have that same pair of blue glasses and many more all purchased from Lorenzo Urbani. I'll see what color he has for me this year.

I read like a demon as I once did. But, now that I can see, I have also learned to write.  At least I call what I do writing.

You wouldn't be reading this if I didn't have glasses.

Sandy Kinnee

Two Television Stories

Two Television Stories

There are other television related stories, but my mother repeats one like a broken record. She tells it so often that I wish she'd put it in written form, so I didn't have to do it. I have a vague recollection of the event.  In my memory the material in question was fiberglass insulation and I made a pink fiberglass beard for myself, a disguise.  I was master-of-ceremonies, or MC. I was also director, illustrator, and marketeer. I itched for days.

Here is how my mother tells the story. My father had some leftover construction material in the garage. It was basically fancy tar paper, with a layer of thin aluminum foil on the face. As a child, much as today, I mess around with things I have no business fooling with.  I dragged my finger nails over the slick aluminum, noticing when I scratched through the foil the black of the tar paper was revealed.  A steel nail served as my pencil to create black lines, incising the foil. I drew pictures, one and another. I kept drawing.  My mind rushed forward to a really, really good use for this foil covered tar paper.  I would create my own television show.

Already I had a make-believe television set, as my little brother had outgrown his walker. It was like a short table with casters on the table legs.  The walker was a wooden square with a big-baby-size hole in the center, just the size and shape of a television screen.  I tipped the walker on its side and voila, a blank television screen. I had already done plenty of live television shows, mainly with hand puppets and sticking my head through the screen and pretending to be a weatherman.  I liked doing the weather because I could shake a metal sheet and do sound effects, such as  thunder or pour water from a watering can onto a pie tin. Live television is a one-shot deal.  I wanted something that could be repeated, due to popular demand. Sandy’s Foil Show could be repeated ad nauseam and it would be. The silver foil also rendered another problem with live television moot.  The background was no longer the living room wallpaper.    It was silver.

The aluminum foil covered tar paper would take the place of the picture tube. I would make a scroll and the opening in the inverted walker would display one frame of the scroll at a time. Somehow I figured out the best way to show the scroll was like unrolling toilet paper. Right to left wasn’t going to work. Scrolling down was easy.

The construction material was a big roll on the garage floor and Dad wasn't home, so I took off a quantity he'd never miss, perhaps ten or twenty feet.  Being only six at the time, it was a considerable project to make up a story and animate a progression of cells with only a large rusty nail. If only I could remember what story I chose to illustrate. For all I know it could have been Little Red Riding Hood or a tale about a little boy who drew his own television program with a pointy nail.  When the cells were finished I tested to make sure the faux-TV and movie roll worked. Then I made posters and tickets. I went door to door promoting my show. Ticket price was one cent. The entire neighborhood showed up to my show.
It makes sense they would all come to my house because back then there were no activities, no clubs, no facebook or twittering  to burn up the day. Mothers happily sent their kids to see Sandy's Foil Show for a penny. One cent was a bargain for a moment of peace. Mom told me to let the kids who just arrived from Europe in for free, as they didn’t understand English.  There were no words of any language in my television show, just images scratched with a rusty nail.  Even the biggest kid in the community was sent with a penny. His mother was happy to get rid of him and I would also be.

No sooner did the first showing conclude when the big kid wanted his penny back. He said the show was a fake, only drawings on silver paper, not real television. He pointed to me and demanded a refund. My mother says I shook my head NO and pushed him off the porch.

Two weeks later he still wanted his penny back.  I no longer had his penny, so he beat me up.

The other story is about color television.  My mother had nothing to do with this one. We had a normal size black and white television set. The exterior of the television had doors on the side with the screen. You could close it up when not watching television and it looked like a big wooden box with doors on the front, like you were hiding something in a wooden box that was in your living room.. I think it was was so we could hide the fact we had a black and white television while next door was the future.

The Barzones were one of the first families in town to own a color television set. Their television did not have a big box disguise. It was proud to be a color television.  We could see their television from our picture window.  While my dad was friends with the husband, his wife thought we were spying on them when we all leaned against the window to watch color television. We weren't peeping toms, just wanted to see their television. When she saw us watching she drew the blinds and we went back to our black and white. It might be obvious we still needed our television set on for the sound as we watched through the window. When we weren't looking through her window she kept the curtains wide open. This was a problem. If we seemed to be watching she drew the drapes. If we weren’t the drapes were open. We could only watch if we weren’t looking through the window and if we looked through the window she’d fix it so we saw nothing. It was a predicament.

Dad used his carpentry skills to an equitable solution. No one needed to look into the house next door once he set up what amounted to a series of mirrors and easels that channeled the reflection of the color television across our living room and onto the screen of our black and white screen. When we wanted the picture to be in color we taped a sheet of typing paper in the middle of out television. The neighbors picture would magically appear on our television, even if you closed the two wooden doors, so long as the typing paper could act as a movie screen.  Of course the image, by the time it reached our screen was postage stamp size, so it didn't matter that the picture was also backward and fuzzy. So, what wasn’t out of focus before the advent of high definition imagery? Back then I learned the phrase: necessity is the mother of invention. We needed color television.

Sandy Kinnee