Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Anticipation Without Expectation

Anticipation without expectation.
I must practice it

      in expanse of fate we share
      in local arena of trivial fun
in humble alcove with intimate few
   and (if I look)
      somewhere alone
to practice
      anticipation without expectation.

Anticipation Without Expectation
Bob Komives

Fort Collins © 2019  :: Anticipation Without Expectation  ::  1903

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Immigrants' Faint Footnote

three of my 4 grandparents were immigrants.
(the 4th, was son of fathers to the American Revolution)
one of the 3 came as a baby.
(When she contracted fever aboard ship, her immigrant mother stopped others from throwing her into the sea.)
one came as 1 of 3 girls to be bride to 1 of 3 brothers 
(not knowing which with which).
that one-of-three brothers had come earlier to an Illinois steel mill.
(The mill is gone, but a safety manual for this unsafe workplace survives to be read in his Hungarian, as well as in Slovenian, Romanian and tongues of other workmates.)
Immigrants' Faint Footnote
Bob Komives

two of 2 of my sons-in-law were born far from North America.
two of 5 of my grandchildren were born far from North America. 

three grandchildren,
two sons-in-law,
both of my children, 
two of my immigrant grandparents, and their
one son (my father) mastered tongues other than English in childhood.

            More important: 
My story-by-numbers is  faint footnote to your own. 

Bob Komives :: Fort Collins © 2019 :: Immigrants' Faint Footnote :: 1902 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Sedimentary Factory

stumbled to note
ancient maketh new

sedimentary factory
makes stackable stone

Sedimentary Factory  
Bob Komives

Fort Collins © 2019  :: Sedimentary Factory  ::  1901

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Come To Visit When You Can

They called me 'PAYT-air' when I was born in Joliet,

"Peter" when I started school in Saint Paul.

Call me Pete.

I have come to rest.

Rest assured I will brag about you. 

Come To Visit When You Can
Bob Komives

I was a big kid—

a good student after I learned English.

I had a memory like a trap.

I was a tough kid.

I took nothing from nobody—

not even from my teachers

if I thought they were unfair.

I did not try to treat you all the same.

I did try to treat you fairly.

I was an honest kid.

They could trust me to a penny.

We had about sixteen dollars

when we got married.

Leona raised you kids.

She was a wonderful mother.

I thought I would die first.

Thank you for coming here,

my family,

my friends,

their friends.





they were important in my life.

I was a loyal kid.

I tended flowers

on the graves of brother and sisters.

I earned money taking care of other graves.

Decoration Day was important to me

until they said we could no longer tend the graves.

I guess this is my heritage.

I hear that a relative,

who does not know how she is related,

tends beautifully

my grandmother's grave in Hungary.

Thank you for coming today,

my family,

my friends,

their friends.

I bragged about each of you

to the others

at one time

and another.

In case you didn't hear it from me,

now is the time to tell each other.

Today, I want you to say

when you shake hands:

"Pete bragged about you."

"Pete bragged about you."

I was strong as a bull.

I was a railway carman,

a center,

a linebacker.

Man, I was lucky!

I never thought life would go so well.

I had a good life.

I built boxcars.

I fixed them,

inspected them.

I liked my job.

I was never afraid to get dirty.

(But, I still clean up pretty good.)

I knew my job.

Nobody knew it better.

I could have been a foreman,

but I didn't want to drag my family

from town to town,

up and down

the Northern Pacific Railway.

I started at the Como Shops.

I was fifteen.

I passed for eighteen.

I was a big kid,

a strong kid.

They wanted me

to go to Del La Salle high school to play football.

It would cost four tokens on the streetcar each day.

I asked my dad.

He said I should get a job.

I never turned down a chance to earn a nickel.

The Depression,

it was tough for everyone.

I helped build Monkey Island at Como Zoo on the W.P.A.

I don't like social workers.

She wouldn't give me money

to buy a white shirt

so I could tend bar.

She gave me money for coal.

I bought the shirt.

Leona and I collected our coal

along the railroad tracks.

The Swede fired the other bartender.

He gave me a raise for the extra money

he found in the till when I worked.

I underbid a man and a mule

to dig a house foundation by hand.

I didn't know much,

but I was never afraid to ask advice—

from the Irishman,

the Swede,

the Jew

the Polack.

The Kraut taught me to read a newspaper.

(If you want to know, I'll tell you.)

Each of you taught me something.

I passed it on.

You asked my advice.

I gave it—much more than you wanted.

But, take it or leave it.

I don't want to tell you how to live your life.

I had a good life.

I was lucky.

I made some good decisions.

(No stockbroker ever tried twice

to give me advice I hadn't asked for.)

We moved to the lake.

Man, Leona was happy.

I was a tough man to live with.

I made mistakes.

I expected to die first.

After forty years together

she gave me a big hug and said,

"Pete, I guess I want to live with you."

I suppose that says something.

I got my high-school equivalency at age sixty.

I liked my work,

but I retired early.

Everything just fell into place.

Those were good years.

Except the lake kept rising.

With a wheelbarrow we moved

truckloads of fill.

We were both strong.

I was strong.

I loved my flowers.

I loved my vegetables.

I can tell you how

to get a long harvest from your broccoli.

There is a right way to do most things.

If it's worth doing

it's worth doing right!

I always said, "I'm as good as the best

and better than the rest,"

but I never said I was perfect.

I made mistakes.

I told you so.

So, don't do as I did;

do as I said.

We sent you kids to Catholic school,

but it was you kids who got Leona and me

to go to church every Sunday.

I hope I thanked you for that.

I had no problem making up my own mind

as to what is right and what is wrong.

I hope you can thank me for that.

I was a tough old man,

but I often said, thank you.

Remember that.

You never did get me to stop swearing,

or to change my grammar.

You can't take off all the rough edges.

I led a rough life when I was a young man.

I hung around with some bad characters.

Sitting on a boxcar,

I told the Polack I was tired of it.

I wanted to settle down.

I met Leona.

She was ready too.

I thought I would die first.

We had a good life,

but my last seven years were tough.

The last three years have been tough—

tough on me,

tough on you.

I had had a memory like a trap.

I was a strong man.

I vacuumed the floor,

made breakfast and lunch

while Leona fished.

I read my newspapers,

my magazines.

I liked to study before I made a decision.

It worked for us.

We paid our way—

even today.

I never wanted to be dependent.

But, you could depend on me,

and I could depend on you.

That's what family and friends are for.

I bragged to each of you about the other.

Remember me and tell each other.

Plant a flower in my name.

Come to visit when you can.

Call me Pete.

I have come to rest.

Rest assured I will brag about you.

Fort Collins © 1995  :: Come To Visit When You can  ::  ,9501

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Beauty and Tragedy

I felt this among the traces of so many people
in the streets and museums of Hungary:

     beauty and tragedy
          in a roman catholic church,
          once a mosque,
          once a christian church,
          built on more ancient foundations;

     beauty and tragedy
          in the stone and mortar
          of a music school
          once a synagogue.

Beauty and Tragedy
Among the Traces, a Feeling
Bob Komives

Fort Collins © 1996  ::  Beauty and Tragedy  ::  ,0x34

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sunrise Again in Standard Time

It uplifts the spirit
to walk ourselves back a tiny step toward our planet's nature
to see bright sun 
at what only yesterday
was a dark hour.

Our ancestors
(likely even their ancestors)
knew the meaning of sunrise,
of sunset,
and of the high noon between.

they begat civilization
which begat commerce and industry
which needed to divide the day and night.
Ancestors gave each a dozen hours.

Sunrise Again in Standard Time
Bob Komives
Then, they begat machines and the skills to make them, which begat a desire to give more precision to the 4 o'clock meet. But, (below and above the equator) the best machinists had trouble making their hours shorter then longer (and then shorter again) as our planet's year progressed. Until, they added the two-dozens into twenty-four equal parts, so the machinists could work their magic, and the voiceless sun would have to rise at a different hour and minute each day. But, it worked-- brilliantly. Then, further offspring, machinists and the mechanics, invented the steam engine and its railroads. They made civilization roll into a leap forward again. Their descendants, (our ancestors and their things) moved so quickly along these roads that it became a problem to know the exact hour here but not there: “When do you depart?” “When might I expect you?” “Can't you just write me down a schedule?” So, their children, our ancestors told us to ignore our personal, local high noon. They settled quite comfortably into time zones. Even breathed sighs of relief. It was good-- for a good time. Until, their children, our mothers and fathers, (at work and at play) found it hard to give up the summer. Crazy as it seemed, little by little, place by place, they pushed summer into winter and called it “savings time.” And most of us say it is good-- for a time. For, our ancestors, our mothers and fathers in adding more “unnatural” to the already “unnatural” gave us a sudden, pleasant, yearly, surprise, and (at dark times) a hope-filled metaphor. For, it uplifts the spirit to walk ourselves back a tiny step toward our planet's nature to see bright sun at what only yesterday was a dark, dark hour.

Bob Komives  ::  Fort Collins © 2018  ::  Sunrise Again in Standard Time  ::  1802

Monday, May 21, 2018

Hope Cemetery

Do a double-take.
Read this sign again: “HOPE Cemetery"
—clear, bold, and large.

Is it not true?
With death, unanswered questions become answered questions. What remains for hope's good work? 

Hope Cemetery
Bob Komives

In life, hope has much to do.
I can live with hope to lose weight, but pallbearers will know: I did or I did not.

You and I might hope to get rich.
Will we?—a boring, unanswered question. Did we?—More interesting, perhaps, but—simply—"no" or "yes." If alive and already rich, we hope to stay that way. Yet, beneath a tombstone, such hope likely turns to smile or frown.

As to afterlife
(no matter our belief and hope) we can agree nobody looks around heaven and says, "I hope I get to be here."

In quandary I asked clear-thinking friends for help. One suggested I misread the sign, but I have faith in the quality of my double-take.

"Perhaps the message in the name is for us—not them," said others. “As we pass by we remember those who have passed away, but we should also remember to treasure each day, appreciate our ancestors, our heritage, the continuity of life.” I like these thoughts but have difficulty calling them hope.

“It is obvious”, said another, “the graveyard is for jerks, scoundrels, miscreants. Our hope is that they will stay dead.” I try to be open to this view, but—as a city planner—I think of how such intentional land use would destroy tourism and real estate value.

I warm more to a suggestion that resident graveyard hope need not be profound. “Mundane items that haunt us while alive may persist into our grave. For example: 'I hope I remembered to turn off the gas on the stove.' " That thought may well hit coffin-nail on the head.

But yet another suggestion 

allows me to puzzle no more:

  In HOPE Cemetery, hopes do co-mingle.
  Both the living and the dead hope
      to be remembered well,
      to be remembered clearly.
      by those who once explored and opened paths
      that remain open before us,
    and remembered
      by those who will advance or retreat
      0n paths we leave behind us.

Bob Komives :: Fort Collins © 2018 :: Hope Cemetery :: 1613