Monday, December 18, 2017 Retirement


     This may be the final time for the LAPL dinosaurs to gather at the watering hole to roar at each other a bit. Roy and I have been roaring at each other for about 35 people years and we have not exhausted our supply of insults yet. We have been sort of male librarian brothers for four short decades and despite our fake bravado are actually very fond of one another.  When I first read an essay he wrote in 1981 for the Communicator calling himself a radical I wanted to set him straight but so far I have failed. As Administration knows, he is stubborn as a terrier and impossible to budge when he digs in. He still annoys me but like Sheila I grit my teeth and remember the other stuff he has done and give him a pass.
I knew him pre-Sheila when he owned two pair of pants and lived in an apartment that was half full of bales of old newspapers which were the nicest pieces of furniture he owned. I remember visiting him at the old Cypress Park Library on Pepper Street where I would show up after visiting King Taco reeking of carnitas and cilantro. I also dropped into the Memorial Branch a time or two and followed him to Fairfax where I heard “Roy…there’s a call for you!” so many times I can’t even exaggerate it. Once upon a time I allowed him to talk me into being a Steward for the Guild which lasted as long as it took me to realize that meant E-Board meetings until 11 pm.  I used to go to Guild meetings just to visit with Roy and was a part of the Communicator staff for seventy-some articles and numerous cartoons which we put together in happy hard-copy paste-up meetings around LA. We argued while Sheila put the magazine together.  I have a cassette from my answering machine of the congratulations given the day my now 33 year old daughter was born and the third voice on the tape is Roy Stone. He heroically took that same baby from my arms when she was made demonic by colic as an infant and allowed me to avoid a long prison sentence.   When the fire tore a piece of my heart out it was Roy and I who climbed into the inky fiction stacks to get an idea of how great the tragedy was first-hand. He has seen me cry and never judged.  When Wyman Jones retired Roy and I set out to make a film, a roast kind of documentary when we had no idea how to create anything on videotape. It was the closest I ever came to murdering anyone or being murdered but the film got made and Wyman loved it.  Probably half of the good things I have done for LAPL were motivated by his kvetching at me to do them and whenever I felt like quitting it was Roy and Sheila who pulled me back from the precipice. He really has infinite patience for what he believes in and has the tenacity of a hungry cat at 4 am in your bedroom.  It was Roy who gently let me know one of our dearest friends had lost her fight against cancer and when I gave my Mom’s eulogy I looked out into the church and saw his face.  For THIRTY years Roy and has joined me for a Christmas dinner at my house despite the fact he is still waiting for the messiah and he was my most valuable friend when I passed through some very dark times in 2015. Over a very long haul he has been a constant positive force in my family’s life except for the way he behaves in the kitchen at my dinners. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the fucking problem Roy!
     For the sake of brevity (never my strong suit) I can’t list everything Roy has done in my interest despite my rough edges but I never scared him or discouraged him because he knows we both love the library which bonds us like super glue. There is genuine blood, sweat and tears shared in the last four decades. The things we all take for granted were not easily won and the dedication and resolve of these Guild heroes are worth far more than any ALA or CLA or SLA or the NRA. This mild mannered man does not shrink from challenges and has an optimism and compassion for patrons and staff that borders on crazy. We were there for the LAPL 12 and the Dirty 30 and literally a hundred clueless City Council people who had to be educated and convinced of our worth to the community. We even cut down a rubber tree together, fixed my rain gutters, painted his porch and produced the one and only X-Communicator that pissed off half the membership. We have written letters to the editor, gave radio interviews, attended Board of Library Commissioners meetings, held up Yes on L signs and talked about LAPL administration for more hours than there are stars in the sky but today it doesn’t seem like it was enough. I can honestly say that despite the photographic evidence of me trying to kill Roy I believe he has been the best we had to offer at LAPL in my time here. He still annoys me but I love the old bastard.

Saturday, September 30, 2017



She loved me-
And inspired me-
With transcending devotion.

It was a blessing-
To have been her son,
To have been loved-
Without conditions.

Her words of wisdom-
Opened my eyes-
To the world-
And to myself.

By seeing the best in me,
She empowered me.
By believing in me,
She transformed me.

She grew old-
And floated away,
But her love remains standing-
Eternally by my side.”

― Giorge Leedy

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

This Poem

This Poem

Before the age of doing
and photographing and filming
and texting what you did,
back when people simply did,
a girl got married at seventeen,
recalled tonight under lamplight
in an Ozark farmhouse by my old,
widowed Aunt Dot, the woman
who once was her. There were no
photos of the girl as she waited
in the truck with her first
two babies for her husband
to come out of the bar
until it was dark, and then
in the dark. Nobody filmed him
at the screen door of the kitchen,
waking from the spell
of his anger with a lead pipe
in his hand saying, “I believe
I killed that cow,” or filmed her
stepping between his fists
and her son on the night he broke
her nose. Literal, plainspoken
and sorrowful, Dot seems
to find her, the poor young girl,
married for life, and him, my uncle,
the good old boy everyone loved,
including me, in the shadows
cast by her lamp and chair,
just the three of them there,
and me, and the small,
hand-held device of this poem.

Monday, August 14, 2017

our most basic imperitive

After Our Daughter’s Wedding

by Ellen Bass

While the remnants of cake
and half-empty champagne glasses
lay on the lawn like sunbathers lingering
in the slanting light, we left the house guests
and drove to Antonelli’s pond.
On a log by the bank I sat in my flowered dress and cried.
A lone fisherman drifted by, casting his ribbon of light.
“Do you feel like you’ve given her away?” you asked.
But no, it was that she made it
to here, that she didn’t
drown in a well or die
of pneumonia or take the pills.
She wasn’t crushed
under the mammoth wheels of a semi
on highway 17, wasn’t found
lying in the alley
that night after rehearsal
when I got the time wrong.
It’s animal. The egg
not eaten by a weasel. Turtles
crossing the beach, exposed
in the moonlight. And we
have so few to start with.
And that long gestation—
like carrying your soul out in front of you.
All those years of feeding
and watching. The vulnerable hollow
at the back of the neck. Never knowing
what could pick them off—a seagull
swooping down for a clam.
Our most basic imperative:
for them to survive.
And there’s never been a moment
we could count on it.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

If You Forget Me

If You Forget Me 

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Pablo Neruda

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Love After Love


     By Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Monday, March 20, 2017



 William Stafford

They tell how it was, and how time
came along, and how it happened
again and again. They tell
the slant life takes when it turns
and slashes your face as a friend.

Any wound is real. In church
a woman lets the sun find
her cheek, and we see the lesson:
there are years in that book; there are sorrows
a choir can’t reach when they sing.

Rows of children lift their faces of promise,
places where the scars will be.