Thursday, December 29, 2011

Waiting For An Open Door...

This photo was taken today by Tess Kincaid and posted on her Facebook page.  I couldn't help but write a quick poem, and with her permission I'm posting it here.  Poor little bird flew into her French doors, she said.  I've had that happen here, but my doors weren't French, and the sparrow who gonged himself managed to "flutter" it off and fly away.  Many thanks, Tess!

Photo ©2011 Tess Kincaid


before my 
eyes glaze, 
warmth cools, 
colors pale; 

before we 
finish dinner
swallow wine, 
spin fables; 

dust the crumbs 
from my chin, 
tidy my tie, 
hold the mirror 
of dignity 

close to 
my face 

Poem © 2011 R. Burnett Baker

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In Search Of Bodhisattva

Photo ©2011 R. Burnett Baker

in search of bodhisattva:
(in)significance of one

for it is the nature 
of this species 
to shed singular parts,
protect the mass of living,
sustain continuity 
beyond the faded,
fading one;

in this peeling away 
of individual beings
we shed personal beliefs,
lies we tell ourselves 
to ensure survival; 

we narrate gods 
of expectations, 
guilt being the 
measure of commitment
to a greater good, 
while praying for 
a glorified redemption 
of each 

there's irony 
in being alone 
and crying for the moon
of solitary strength 
to which we cling: 

clinging is futile.
but necessary. 

damningly so.

Poem ©2011 R. Burnett Baker

Monday, December 26, 2011

Magpie Tales 97: Catch A Falling Star...

Photo by Bert Stern, shared by Tess Kincaid


it's all 
laughter and fun,
an upward twist of 
tinseltown mouths,

smiling words,
lines drawn for 
anyone coy enough
to pretend to 
be someone else...

is pretense an excuse 
for love? 

can WE pretend? 

can we pretend
before you vanish
into a night of 
early morn? 

Poem © 2011 R. Burnett Baker 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas To All My Blogger Friends!

Merry Christmas To You All!
And Happy Hanukkah!
Wishing everyone peace and 
kindness this day and all the 
days ahead!  


Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Christmas Post for Junk Shop Quickies

Last week I was shopping in one of my local junk shops and guess who I saw in person!!  Marsha Brady from the Brady Bunch!  Yessir, right here in Rochester.  So I took her photo and posted it on Junk Shop Quickies ™.  She was radiant in her Christmas dress.  She had that psycho Marsha look on her face, just like in the movie, and there was something else that wasn't quite right.....  Oh yeah, baby, have a holly jolly Christmas.  And you, too, Marsha! 
                                  Junk Shop Quickies™.

December 22, 2011 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pingpong Diplomacy And Playboy™

Untitled by Chen Yu

Pingpong Diplomacy And Playboy™

Chairman Mao had only been dead four years.

And there I was:  In what was touted at the time as the largest city in the world , with a population between 12 and 14 million souls.  Communist souls.     

The city was brown. Buildings, streets, the air:   All brown.  Especially the air.  Remembering that year, it seems that everything was brown except for the clothes everyone, I mean everyone wore:  Drab, baggy, dull blue, green or gray Chairman Mao suits.  That's what we called them.  Oh, and those Mao caps with the red star on them.  I have one.  It was given to me by the young man who's the subject of this story. 

There were no gleaming skyscrapers, no Gucci billboards, no futuristic buildings like the ones we Americans saw in Jetson cartoons.  Cars?  Forget it.  Millions of bicycles with maddening bells ching-chinging constantly.  It made one almost long for the sounds of traffic and horns honking in European or North American cities.  

And there I was.  Working for that evil evil oil service company Halliburton, subcontracted to the equally evil British Petroleum ( pre-Gulf spill years ).  BP was drilling an exploration well in the Yellow Sea, about two hours helicopter flight from Shanghai.  Aboard the semi-submersible oil rig, the Bo-Hai 8, we did our jobs. 

During the down times on the rig, there was a recreation room with, what else, a pingpong table.  Who would have guessed?  (Nixon, of course). 

One afternoon I was playing pingpong with the radio operator.  He was about 22 years old, and the only one of the some 92 Chinese workers I encountered on the rig who was learning English at the time.  

So there we were knocking that little white diplomatic ball back and forth when suddenly he grabbed my return volley and stopped the game.  

With a mischievous grin on his face he asked me unflinchingly, " You have Prayboy  magazine??"   ( Yes, "PRayboy")  I was stunned.   I replied, "No, I don't.  But Chairman Mao would not approve of that!!" 

Not missing a beat, he screwed up his face in mock anger like the one character in this Chen Yu painting and said, "Chairman Mao is DEAD!!  Chairman Mao NOT SEE!!  I want PRayboy magazine!!"  

I laughed and was utterly amazed.  Amazed at how, despite waving Mao's Little Red Book every evening at propaganda meetings aboard the rig, despite the red stars on their caps, despite the decades of ideological brainwashing, despite our diplomatic tiptoeing around certain subject matters at that time, the Communist Party's proletariat workers really wanted Prayboy magazine. 

I always brought the latest issue of Architectural Digest with me, and the Chinese workers would look at it and dismiss it as "buhaio", or, loosely transliterated, "no good".  Too bourgeois, I suppose.  But "Prayboy?"   

Well, after all, Chairman Mao was dead.  

And he still is! 

Rick Baker 
Rochester, NY 
December 19, 2011 

© 2011 R. Burnett Baker 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Magpie Tales 96: Your Sleeping Heart

Image: Lee Friedlander, 1966 
Courtesy of Tess Kincaid 

shadows of you; of me

do you hear 
your name 
ride the wind, 
or see rain pelt 
each letter; 

have you 
sung the song 
of waking moments,
morning startled 
by opened eyes; 

do you know 
the blessing of pain
when it's gone, 
and heard the 
blue-glow serenity
of shallow breathing; 

have you 
felt the wind
become a breeze
before feathered
clouds on 
autumn's end; 

as I whisper 
memories of you
across your 
sleeping heart's 

Poem ©2011 R. Burnett Baker

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Know: This Is SUPPOSE To Be A Poetry Blog

I just can't help myself this week.  My visit to a couple of junk shops last weekend was productive.  Well, I suppose that's a matter of opinion.  But anyway, here's another.  You know what they say about big hands, and big feet and such.  Well, what about a big trunk?  What about the junk in the trunk?  Maybe we should just ask JLo.  Or is it Mariah?  I hear that one of them has a big trunk.  Maybe it's Oprah?  

Whatever.  Another silly one for Junk Shop Quickies™.  


Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Here's another cheap plug for my other 
blog,  Junk Shop Quickies™.  Two 
posts this week are from my latest trip
to my local second hand store.  There 
will be a couple more in the days to come! 

Like, Cheers! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lover's Lament

Photo by R. Baker


can you hear
strings across water
along rivers of hearts 

and not wonder 
how we wandered 
so far from 

Poem © 2011 R. Burnett Baker 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Magpie Tales 95: I Can Quit Any Time I Want...

Photo provided by Tess Kincaid

free will

though I can 
always leave 
when I want,  
I'm resigned
to the taste 
and habit 
of you -  

bound to our 
construct love,
yet ready 
to walk
on a moment's 
notice - 

think I'll  
indulge the 
tide of
your needs 
before I 

Poem ©2011 R. Burnett Baker 

Note:  After a few edits,  I realized this now sounds like a no smoking ad.  That wasn't my intent, but I suppose sometimes love and smoking can be equally satisfying.  I don't know, though:  I've never smoked!!  :) 

Here's an older poem from 2007 that I'll offer as an alternative: 

ride the crest 

waves never stop 
rolling onto beach sands 

even when we 
journey miles inland 

even when we
even after death 
calls oceans of souls 

ride the crest 
to shore.      

Poem © 2007 by R. Burnett Baker

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hope For The Rest Of Us?

"Pot Shot" by Ashley Brilliant

Here's a link to an online article I read this morning about digital publishing.  I suppose it isn't for everyone, but then neither is the old fashion way.  Interesting approach, nevertheless.


Friday, December 9, 2011


"You good lookin' thang, 
don't you ever die!!!"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Another Thought Before Sleeping: Next Night

from all that came before 

I've felt your vision rise into my throat 
and doused the flame of memory tenfold.

in forests brown and green I've fragranced rotting leaves 
touched velvet moss and known creature-stirrings
that startle silence. 

I've walked alone, I've walked with others,
but never have I stood beneath the shadow 
of the tallest tree or softest fern

without songs of nature's movements 
serenading me with canopy leaves 
and solitude's whisper.  

I've watched your vision 
rise into my throat, rain-stung eyes 

searching the forest 

Poem © 2011 R. Burnett Baker 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Thought Before Sleeping

no time for youth 

it was time, I suppose, to shed endearments 
and favored names,

the renderings of which are lost 
to engagements of living; 

it was time, but I can't remember why, 
and doubtful you recall at all.

aging requires shedding not just childhood, 
but child-nature, hence the berm ridges 
in forehead texture. 

those valleys represent growth, it's said, 
presaging death, 

a serious matter we must ordain, but
it is time, I suppose for growing serious and old, 

while my child-nature searches its womb, 
waiting to be born again before 

that one, final engagement 
in life. 

Poem © 2011 R. Burnett Baker 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Greek Drama, Modern Mythology

Monoprint "3 Figures" by Ina Jean Garner, 1994
11 3/4" x 4", one of a series of four. 
Collection of R. Baker

Brisēís and you 

there was talk 
of two and how 
they met;
how between piercing 
each other's eyes 
they pilfered glances 
at peripheral others.

how exciting and
perfectly adulterous 
the notion that others 
could command 

but lust is how it begins: 
fevered breathing 
and sweat, well, sometimes.
but always with rhythm 
of the notion that 
future possibilities 
lie just beyond the 
mythical, battled 

Poem © 2011 R. Burnett Baker

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Magpie Tales 94: Lunchroom Marxism

Lunch, George Tooker, 1964, Columbus Museum of Art 
Photo provided by Tess Kincaid


there are tightropes we 
all walk, every soul 

balancing identical needs - 
a proletariat kind of 
common bond. 

Poem © 2011 R. Burnett Baker

Post Script:  No, I'm not a Marxist.  Neither, really,  was he.  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Back Yard, December 1, 2011

When I sprinkled the seeds of wildflowers from a bag in spring, I expected flowers all summer.  It took all summer and into fall for them to sprout and finally bloom.   I'm pleased to enjoy this color in December!  Such a green thumb I (don't) have!   

Photos ©2011 R. Burnett Baker