Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Leap Piano

Saturday, January 26th, 2013


This is still in-progress, but getting there. My son and his friend came in and tried it – and they thought it was cool, so it must be somewhat. You can now play piano with the Leap – or, that is, a virtual keyboard with almost no control. I’m going to keep working on it, but it’s enough to know that while I’ll get some more accuracy out of it, the truth is it’s not going to get much more accurate using the methodology I’m working with – which isn’t to say it’s out of the realm of the leap to be that accurate – rather I have to really build some tighter JS to handle the math to do it right.

A Little History

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

I heard, in the next room,
My son playing Für Elis on the piano.
Or piano-forte. But actually,
A Casio, which has
No hammers or pads –
Just a lonely black cord,
Connecting it to

The wall socket which runs
Copper down 16 floors
To a substation on 40th Street
Which channels the power,
From Canada,
Like a delta in the Hudson
Drips from the north making it to us.

History is like that,
Some of it even true,
Having flowed downstream
Swimming with
Rocks and Fish
Until it has a special taste,
An ironic freshness.

I want my son to feel,
Not just know,
The pluck of the harpsichord
Indefinite in dynamic, tinny,
Filling up the hall,
In the Medici court.
Just as Cristofori did.

I want him to be there,
Not just look at a picture,
With the men in the lab,
In the 1920s,
Working with vacuum tubes.
I fear the picture, thinking,
Everyone here is dead now.

From the piano to the tubes
To the Casio,
To the iPad he uses for sheet music,
The scope of history is both
Enormous and claustrophobic.
Our apartment stands in Native soil,
But was once a subterranean volcano.

Where does it end?

It makes me think of my son,
Supposed to be reading or
Playing or something else,
Standing suddenly in front of me
Arms open, ready for a hug.
Here, this is for you.

Someday I will be a picture
And the phrase will again be true.
Everyone in this picture
Is dead now.
As, I shudder at the thought,
Will he be.
And what will it matter?

That I was suddenly
If illogically,
Inspired to take him uptown to
the Met
Where they have an original
Cristofori piano,
Molded by his hands.

Will that memory mean,
Or will it mean
A small drop of something,
Hundreds of years on.
What will he
What will I

Have created?
Everyone in this picture
Is dead.
But their ghosts,
Lying there with open arms,
Whisper, Here,
This is for you.

Every So

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Every so often I forget
That our son is perfect.

Because nothing is perfect,
Nothing is absolute,
Not even the rule
That nothing is absolute.

I can’t see perfection,
Because I was born at the
Time, when cartoons
Became a witty statement statement,
And every single word we said
Was chilled with context,
Like we were forever shaking off
From a winter walk,
A frigid soaking layer
Of everything we should have
Just openly loved.
Sometimes, I fear I’ll choke
On all the irony.

Every so often I forget
That our daughter is perfect.

I think it’s all based in
A kind of self-loathing
Would I want to be in a club,
That would have me as a member?

I can’t love deeply
Because for me love
Love me back,
Or might not love me forever,
And so approach with caution,
Look for subtle clues
Like we are children,
Alone in the house for the first time
Loving the freedom
Listening for sounds,
We lock the door.
Sometimes I peek out,
Fearing I love the monster.

Every so often, I forget
That you are perfect.

Because I think too much.
But however flawed my perception may be,
I never forget,
How lucky I am.

For B

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Don’t Stay There

You can stay in the lane
For a bit, if it makes sense.
But there’s a car merging in,
And he’s going to want this space
So get out!

Merge out, Brie!
And I fear the shudder
And the tilt
As the car makes a
Jarring turn into the middle lane
And the very real possibility
That she didn’t look
When she looked
To see if the lane was clear.

But there is no shudder.
She stays in the lane,
I press the invisible
Imaginary brake pedal at my feet,
Wondering when she’s going to
Merge left.
Until I realize she’s not
Going anywhere.

So I say,
Why are you still here?
And she responds
That it’s safer in the
Right lane.
That it’s slower and she
Feels more comfortable.

The truck rears a little
As she slams the breaks
Realizing almost too late that the
Car in front was not going that fast.
Then we’re okay for a second.

I want to say
Well, that doesn’t feel
Very safe.
But I think about
What to say so that
She won’t clench her fists
Crush her body
And look vacantly out
For the rest of the
Driving lesson.

So I say
It’s not better
In the right lane.
It seems like it should be,
Since you’re never speeding,
And you’re always closer
To the exit.

But if you stay,
You’ll be stuck here with all
Those who need this space to merge
Into greater things
And worse,
Those who
Never will.

Don’t ever avoid
Pushing a bit harder on the gas.
Don’t dodge
The catching up
Or the moving past.

Sometimes we fear
A high speed death
More than
A slow life.

For my daughter, Sweeping

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Murakami was a drama major who,
Working at a record store,

Joyce, Hornby and Tolkien,
Later Rowling,

All taught class while
Reading Melville

Spent his days covered
In the entrails of beasts

Were born of and
Born of and born of
Our most distant ancestors
Single-celled organisms
Gasping for light
From the one star
Which was directly
For everything afterwards.

Very little great art
Was made by those
Who studied that art.

All great art
Was made by those
Who lived deeply.

You think, I assume,
That I don’t respect
That I belittle
Art as its own pursuit.
Rather, I want you to
Pursue everything.

Sweeping the floors
Of the record store
Of the classroom
Of the boat
Is noble,
Is worthy,
And gives you time
To think about
Everything else.

Poet Laureate of Colorado, 1974 – For Z

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

I was thinking about John Denver – who was a musician of course, but also an environmentalist and activist. He was good friends with Jim Henson, another great man who also died young. Denver seemed corny even when I was a kid. Maybe not to you, though. One of the things that I marvel at is your ability to accept the silly and the ridiculous – the things we throw at you, and the things you pick up. In fact, I’m writing this because you went to school on Monday with pink hair and some people called you names, but you held your own – and you didn’t question the pink, only the girls – who wouldn’t know awesome if they fell into a vat of it.

John Denver was a military kid – moving around often, with a dad who I can only guess is the opposite of me. When I read about famous or just amazing people, I’m sometimes surprised about the greatness that comes before them. Before you, Z – I only hope we are at least an interesting starting point. But Denver’s dad was a fighter pilot who broke records and is in some flavor of hall of fame for it. He was brave and tough and a little gruff and maybe a little too stern with his kids.

At some point, John was tired of his dad and the moving around and in high school he stole a car – and left. It makes me think of the line in the Bright Eyes song Poison Oak:

I don’t think that I ever loved you more
Than when you turned away
When you slammed the door
When you stole the car
And drove towards Mexico

His dad, though stern and tough and busy breaking speed records, loved his son, and flew out to California to bring John back. Later, they starred – I shit you not – in a TV special about aeronautics that won awards as well. So I like the idea of dad, all those years earlier, on a plane, wondering what the Hell? What will become of my boy?

I fear, and I’ve told you this before, in the less cowardly in-person way, that maybe there is something to lose when you have nothing against which to rebel. Maybe there has to be an impetus for the young chimp to leave the pack – or he’ll never become the leader of another. I don’t know – and in time we’ll probably give you plenty of reasons to want to run away – and to become what you inevitably will. Maybe the greatness is there whether you open the door or it crashes through a wall.

Whatever it is, I see greatness beaming through you like the pink highlights in your hair. And when I wonder what will become of my boy, I really have no idea. But I know it will be wonderful.