Midsummer Haiku

It’s late July and, whether you’re inside or outside, it’s hot here in Virginia. My book signings went well, my family is reunited, and we’re trying to squeeze some collective summer memories into our lives before the craziness that is late August. And speaking of craziness, the presidential campaign season is in full bloom, and if you don’t duck you might get hit by a heap of slung mud. At the very least it’s easy to be brought down by all the negative rhetoric. I have some new ideas for blog posts coming up, but until then enjoy a few empowering haiku written well before, but seemingly inspired by or in response to, our present national dialogue.

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Ev’rywhere you look
Possibilities exist
For a better world.

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You can’t win them all,
But by staying in the game
You can win a few.

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What is your purpose?
Listen to the God within
To hear your answer.

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You have a calling,
To make people’s lives better,
To offer them joy.

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Spread your light around;
Let people know they have worth,
That they are worthy.

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Wildflowers at Shenandoah National Park, July 22, 2016

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What does the world need?
More compassion, kindness, love,
Tolerance, and peace.

4581
The world’s had enough
Hatred, bigotry, judgment,
Inequality.

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Hey! You reading this:
You really can change the world.
One choice at a time.

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For better or worse,
We all share the same planet.
Let’s try playing nice.

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Relax, take a breath,
Center yourself, and intone:
Peace is the answer.

Namaste,

Jason

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On our way toward a new adventure.

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Okay, I’ll Hold Your Dinosaur

Last Saturday afternoon, after my third book signing through the Central Rappahannock Library System, I decided to treat myself and go to see Independence Day: Resurgence. You might say that’s not much of a treat, but in truth the movie wasn’t as bad as critics have made it out to be, and it was nice to revisit some fond acquaintances after a twenty-year gap. Ah, the power of franchise. Anyway, when the movie got out around 8 PM, I stepped into the men’s room for a moment of relief, and on my way out heard the following reply uttered by a slightly frazzled father tailing his young son as they were entering the Gents:

“Okay, I’ll hold your dinosaur.”

I caught the hand-off (without stopping) between the 7 to 9-year-old and his dad and headed out of the movie theater. I made the 1,000 or so foot walk to my car, opened the car door, sat down, turned on the AC, and started weeping.

For the last several weeks, I’ve seen relatively little of my son, John Adams. It was agreed that after Nancy accepted her NEH Fellowship to go to Kalamazoo, MI for a month to study Beowulf and Viking Sagas, that her parents and I would split the time into four one week stays, alternating who was caring for the little guy, so that the pressures of managing a feisty two-year old wouldn’t become overwhelming. I was to have weeks 2 and 4, my in-laws 1 and 3. This would also allow me to get some writing and composition work done in their absence. It was the ideal plan, and now nearing the end of it I know was the right thing to do for us all.

In practice, however, the split didn’t work out as evenly as expected, and each time he went north to Philly he didn’t actually come home over the weekend, but rather – due to best available travel arrangements – on the Tuesday afterward. This meant that instead of me spending a week with him, we only spent four days together before he headed north again. And during Week 2, with our shortened period together, I pushed so hard to get in as many good times for he and I as possible that I made myself sick, and spent the following week alone, at home, and in bed with a cold.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining about the way things worked out. His grandparents love him dearly and are hungry for as much time with him as possible, and I, in turn, appreciated the extra time to write, compose, and recover from illness, but I guess, sitting in my car at that moment, after hearing those words from that exhausted dad, I realized that in a month I was only spending eight days around my little man, only getting eight days of playtime, and dirty diapers, and pounces, and chicken legs, and naps, and “no, don’t do that’s,” and it just made me sad. We all have to make sacrifices sometimes for our careers, and by far, Nancy’s is the greatest sacrifice of all – not seeing her family for a month – but the moment also made me hyper-aware that special moments with our families are fleeting and, once gone, can never be recovered. It’s easy to forget that when you’re on a schedule and your son blows out his diaper with the car running and the clock ticking.

I’m writing this on the morning of Weds. July 12, and John Adams is still sound asleep in bed. I picked him up last evening at Maryland House on I-95 from his loving grandparents. By the time we got home last night, he was tired and wired. He needed to play drums, watch Thomas the Train, eat fruit snacks, sit on “Mama’s bed,” pounce on Daddy, FaceTime Nancy, and then it was off to sleep at midnight no less. Nancy comes home Saturday evening, and today is Day Six of the total of eight days that John Adams and I will spend together this month before our entire family is reunited at last. I want it to be special, to be memorable, to be full of love between father and son. At the very least, I know that if he asks (and I hope he will) there’s at least one answer that I can give with all the love in my heart:

“Okay, I’ll hold your dinosaur.”

Submitted with Love,

Jason

Bup and Daddy at Lake Anna

John Adams and I at Lake Anna during Week Two

Don’t Poop in a Group – A Comic Poem

Here’s some silliness to get you past the holiday weekend. I may have been inspired to write this by the antics of my own son, John Adams, but I’m not telling (the pictures speak for themselves). There may be another children’s book in this one.

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Nancy and John Adams

By the way, I had some great news last week. A guest blog I wrote called, “The Healing Power of Haiku,” will run on the site Business in Rhyme on September 12. I’m very excited about the opportunity. You can find that site with lots of great posts, poetry, and other guest spots at https://businessinrhyme.com/.

Until that posts runs I give you:

Don’t Poop in a Group!
(A Frazzled Dad’s Guide to Life)

By Jason J. Michael

My Dearest Child,

“Don’t poop in a group,”
My mommy said.
It’s simply not done,
Not if you’re well bred.
Go out of the room,
Crawl under your bed,
But not in a group.
Poop solo instead.

Don’t pee on your friends.
It’s simply not nice.
They might let you once,
They won’t let you twice.
In potties, in diapers, on trees should suffice,
But not on your friends,
Whatever their price.

That stuff in your nose
You’re inclined to pick,
Please don’t use your finger,
It makes Mommy sick.
Let’s get you a tissue
And blow it out quick.
Just never your finger
Or, worse yet, that stick!!!

Now if you feel gassy,
And tooting’s a must,
Lord knows you can’t hold it
For fear you might bust.
But know it’s not classy
To trumpet your gust
In closed, confined spaces with friends.
It’s unjust!

About all that belching –
Oh, please make it stop.
Whenever you’ve eaten,
Or drank too much pop,
You sound like a backfiring car in the shop,
Or a gleeful, pink piggy
Whose swimming in slop.

And finally those words
That you speak in a gush,
Whose meanings are fuzzy,
But make grandma blush.
You learned them from grandpa,
But grandpa’s a lush.
There’s one more word for you.
It’s meaning?
No rush.

So that’s my great, big list
Of rules, little chump,
To get you past diapers
And over life’s hump:
Don’t poop, pee, pick
Toot, burp, or swear;
That’s the clump.

Now grab me that beer.
Let’s go yell at the ump!

Love,

Daddy

Don't mind me. I'll just be hiding here in the kitchen...well, you know.

Don’t mind me. I’ll just be hiding here in the kitchen doing…well, you know.