Sunday, June 28, 2009

Life Of An Insect

Can an insect teach us anything about our lives?  If an insect unintentionally tries to tell us something about ourselves, why should we listen?  

This next piece is from my 2007 chapbook titled "Manic Muse and Other Observations."


on the windshield one morning 
a newly hatched mayfly scurries 
around the clear glass surface. 

resisting the urge to sweep it away 
with wiperblades I begin driving. 

mayfly clings with suctioned legs 
to glass as the car's speed increases 
down the street. 

I think that any moment the mayfly 
will release and be gone, but no, 
it clings tightly even with one leg. 

in my mind I shout "let go you foolish 
insect, let go!  don't have wings 
so fly for heaven's sake!" 

finally hurricane-like wind wisks 
the clinging mayfly away in an instant, 
clear glass clear again. 

and in my mind a voice shouts at me 
"fly foolish man, fly!"  and stepping 
harder on the accelerator 

I search frantically for wings. 

Poem © 2007 by R. Burnett Baker 

vacant house 

vacant house 
sits alone 
occupants gone years prior. 

voices echo 
only in fading memories 
of lives long departed. 

hearts of souls remaining 
to reflect 
serve only to 
sweep away 
traces of lifedreams 
collected as dust 
upon the 

Poem © 2006 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2009 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo of abandoned house in Lincoln, NY  taken June 28, 2009  by R. Baker.
Poem from chapbook titled "Slipping Quietly", 2006.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gotta Love A Storm!

This afternoon, June 26, 2009 there was a violent rain storm that swept over parts of Rochester, NY.  It came in off Lake Ontario quickly and with a purpose:  To remind us mere mortals that Mother Nature's in charge.  At work, a sudden sound of the mall roof seemingly exploding had all of us rushing to the door to witness the deluge.  High winds and rain pounding in horizontal sheets were amazing!  Gotta love a storm once in a while. 

It also produced one to two inch hail.  Hence the sound on the roof.   I wasn't concerned with the roof.  I just didn't want to walk out and see a crater-dented car.  But after about a half hour of excitement I managed to wade into the parking lot and find no damage.  The Gap store within the mall was totally flooded and had to close.  Many cars in one area of the mall parking lot were left standing in water up past the doors.  

In a short time, the violent rain, lightning, wind and thunder diminished to a gentle rain, then brilliant sunshine and blue skies.  All's well that ends well.  Except for Gap, perhaps. 

storm divine 

it's the rain's fragrance 
we savor, 

a break in clouds 
that makes 
a storm 

Poem and photo © 2008 by R. Burnett Baker
Photo taken 2008 by R. Baker in Rochester, NY.

rain on leaves

gentle rain
on leaves

belies thunder's

Poem © 2008 by R. Burnett Baker

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

theater of desire

as I wait in my 
theater of desire 

an audience applauds 
futile longings 
for affection. 
a hall of hearts 
waits for 
curtain call, 

believing the 
show must 
go on. 

Poem © 2009 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo © 2009 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo taken by R. Baker June 17, 2009 of the Little Theater, Rochester, NY 


look past 
one another 'cause 
there seems to be no 
good reason to look at one another, or speak, or touch 
in a society that teaches us 
that fear, hatred, and crime
can be avoided if 
everyone will simply 
look past 

Poem © 1987 by R. Burnett Baker
Photo © 2009 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo taken on East Avenue, Rochester, NY, June 17, 2009 by R. Baker

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Oh Dad, Oh Dad!
We Never Knew Ya! 

I couldn't resist posting this photo.  In the mall where I work the Famous Footwear store had this display outside their door every day for about three weeks.  It's a classic "what were they thinking" scene.  No wonder so many retailers are filing Chapter 11 or going out of business.  So out of touch with their customers.  

Then again, maybe I'm the one out of touch!  After all, I'm still using 35mm film to take photos.  Anyway, after a day or two in one of these gittups, Dad will certainly appreciate the poem posted below titled "Days End" 

Happy Father's Day!  

Rick Baker
June 21, 2009 
Rochester, NY

day's end 

work's finished 
for another day, 
for another evening 
of respite from 
survival's demands. 

I kick shoes off 
burning feet 
laden with body weight. 

calf muscles ache
for the sake of walking, 
for the steps in passing; 
burn for reasons forgotten 
as footprints refuse to 
follow feet forging ahead. 

how refreshing the sofa. 
how calming the silence. 

how disquieting 
the ache of life 
moving along 
at the speed 
of breathing, 

in the blink 
of an 

Poem © 2006 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo  © 2009 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo:  "Self Portrait"  taken by R. Baker

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


It's so easy to become mired in daily life.  Work. Sleep. Chores. Work. Sleep. Chores. Bills.  It's so easy to choose to stay home in the evening and watch the news, and mindless television.  It's so easy to not take part in activities around us, regardless of how mundane they may seem to be. 

It's mid June, and in Rochester, NY that means the Rochester International Jazz Festival.  First organized in 2002,  the nine day RIJF is steadily becoming a world class event.  Last year the festival attracted some 125,000 music lovers.  I never took notice of the festival until last year. And I love jazz music.  So last year I made a decision to attend a couple of performances each year going forward.  

From the music world the RIJF has headlined names such as Tony Bennett, Ravi Coltrane, Al Jarreau, Chick Corea, and Madeleine Peyroux.  Woody Allen,  George Benson, Dave Brubeck, Aretha Franklin, Nora Jones,  Etta James, and Oscar Peterson.  Oh my goodness, the list goes on and on!  

I cannot imagine why I was so wrapped up in my little proscribed world for those years.  It's also so easy to dismiss all this as mere celebrity worship, and there's way too much of that in this country. 

But this is different.  Music is different.  It stirs excitement.  It conjures up beautiful memories. Music electrifies the senses, teases our emotions.  Many forms of art do these things, but music takes us into other worlds, and sweetly banishes the mundane from our daily lives.  Attending a concert is often very emotional for me. (In a good way!)  Watching these artists perform their works live, works that we've listened to for many years, transcends celebrity:  It makes those musical legends real and intimate.  It makes us real and intimate. 

Last year I watched Boz Scaggs, Al Green, and jazz ukulele maestro Jake Shimabukuro.  So far this year I've seen Jake again, along with Austin, Texas blues guitarist Carolyn Wonderland. Just magnificent! 

So I'm including with this screed a couple of poems I wrote over the past few years relating to art and music.  

Go on!  Go out and see a concert!  It's so easy to sit in.  And it's so easy to open the paper or internet and find temporary contentment for the soul! 

Rick Baker 
Rochester, New York 
June 18, 2009 

sax crying 

jazz percolates 
the coffee shop. 
lend aroma 
to melodic 

of smooth days long vanished, 
of satin nights borne on romance, 
of cool lives whistled softly 

to a solo sax 
crying for night 
to never 

Poem © 2006 by R. Burnett Baker (From the 2007 chapbook  
"Manic Muse and Other Observations".) 
Sketched art by R. Baker.  
Photos and art   © 2009 by R. Burnett Baker

lyrics trump beat 
everytime in song 

they emote and commiserate 
with muses of music 
to live moments over and again,
to speak words in melody 
to offer meaning for life 

voices in harmony. 

Poem © 2007 by R. Burnett Baker 

all the world 

so much art 
in all the world 

painter a master 
writer a laureate 
musician a maestro 

each patron 
an insatiable hunger 

Poem © 2007 by R. Burnett Baker 

Monday, June 15, 2009


at a crossroad 
with evening 
claiming the street 

two faces turn 
toward sunset: 

a blinding light
hiding the 

Poem © 2009 by R. Burnett Baker
Photo © 2009 by R. Burnett Baker 
Photo taken by R. Baker on Rue Saint-Catherine, Montreal, Quebec.