For My Young & Young-at-Heart Readers

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Photo by Joe McCrossen

As kids, my sister Carol and I loved to sing silly poems and songs – “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea” and “I’m a Pink Toothbrush” were favorites on long road trips in our Chevrolet S-10 Blazer from the Owens Valley to San Diego. And who didn’t love the fun couplets from Dr. Seuss, which made perfect sense to our eager minds? To this day I’d like to try green eggs, but maybe with a tofu ham substitute.

This poem is dedicated to all of my friends and families, their children and grandchildren, and to the young-at-heart. Carol and I wrote it together, inspired by a photo Joe and I took from Taxiway Bravo at Concord Airport one autumn day, spotting a hawk atop a sock. Many of us pilots take off, cruise, descend, and land near hawks. We always pray they don’t fly into our propellers. They are fearless, they are always exciting to see up close. They are our airport friends. 

I hope you enjoy the poem. Read it to someone out loud and let Carol and I know if it merits a giggle or two. And please, if you have a line that would strengthen it, or a line we ought to remove, let us know! 

Hawk On A Sock 

There’s a hawk,

There, on the orange sock.

From the cockpit I can see it,

It is a red-tailed hawk.

There’s a hawk, see it, on the sock, see it.

An orange sock, a sock beneath a hawk.

 

The sock is full of air,

It blows in from the west,

The hawk’s feathers keep him warm

Even when he is away from his nest.

 

The wind at the airport is blowing, blowing, blowing.

I ask my passenger – where are you going?

“To town,” he says, “to town to buy a rock.”

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Somewhere around here’s a rock, right? Photo by Author.

 

“A rock,” I say, “you want to buy a rock?”

“Yes, a rock, I must buy a rock,

A rock to add to my stock.”

“But most rocks are free, I must point out.

The rock you seek is gold, no doubt.”

“No, not gold,” he says, “I want a special kind of rock.”

“What do you do with a special rock,

The rock you’ll add to your stock?”

“Well,” he says, “I need this rock,

I need this rock for my best friend,

My best friend the Hawk.”

“That hawk, the hawk that’s on that sock?”

“Yes, the hawk that’s on that sock.

His name is Mister Tick-Tock.”

“Tick-tock, like a clock?” I inquire.

“Tick-tock, like a clock.

My hawk tells time

Without a watch.

He calls ‘Wake up!’ when it’s Nine.”

“You wake at nine, isn’t that late?”

“I suppose it is, my hawk’s third-rate.

So about my rock, what do you think of slate?

A hawk likes to decorate.”

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Are these rocks too big? Photo by Author.

“Wait, the hawk likes to decorate?” I ask.

“As of late, yes, he decorates. He’s trying to attract a mate.”

“He’s decorating his nest so a mate might come.  And his mate might wake me up at Eight.”

“His mate won’t want slate, that’s rather dull! What other fantastical rocks could you cull?”

“Quartz, amethyst, aquamarine, just make it small, you know what I mean.

We must not risk weighing down the plane you see.”

So off they went to town to find the stone. In the rock shop they did find one golden brown.

Tiger’s Eye, small enough don’t you know, to fit in the beak of the Buteo.

And when they gave it to the hawk, the one on the orange sock,

the hawk named Mister Tick-Tock,

well, the bird nodded his best,

to say a special thanks, then

flew off with a happy heart, flew away to his nest.

There, he found his mate,

and from that time on,

everyone was up,

up at the crack of dawn.

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Concord Buchanan Airport, KCCR. Photo by Author.

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A Real Writer: Two Minds

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Jack London’s desk. Glen Ellen, California. Photo by the author.

A real writer writes every day before dawn breaks. One writer arose each day and placed a slice of bread in his toaster, then buttered it and sat on his living room couch to compose a poem every morning.

A real writer has a schedule, namely a grueling one, several hours per day, nonstop, and no one may interrupt the real writer. Not even children or puppies. A real writer is a grump, an academic, a lonely soul misunderstood and gloomy. A real writer has a red house or a stone tower in Pebble Beach. A real writer goes to Martha’s Vineyard for the summer. A real writer travels to Baja, or Cuba, or takes a beat up car down the highways of America. A real writer gets drunk, gets high, sleeps around, and uses all that experience in his fiction.

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I can even write on the Vegas Strip. Photo by the author.

A real writer gets published, writes novels, makes real money off of selling them. Reads from podiums, is paid sums to teach creative writing, travels, and others refer to her as “writer.” When she attends writer conferences, heads turn. Is that her? Her fans quiver and quake.

A real writer doesn’t have a real job with writing squished into the margins. A real writer sits all day and pours her soul on to the computer keyboard. A real writer writes the truth and doesn’t spare anyone’s feelings. A real writer sells their manuscript to a real publisher with a name like Penguin Random House or Vantage. A real writer doesn’t have to raise money for their own project. A real writer sits in Paris, in a cramped garret or a café terrace, and composes brilliant lines. A real writer’s book gets turned into a movie. A real writer does what his inner self wants, and that is to sit in a chair and draft sentences to create images to finalize a narrative. A real writer doesn’t keep getting distracted. A real writer prioritizes the word at all costs.

Instead:

A real writer calls herself a writer. A real writer is sometimes poor, sometimes rich. A real writer can work full-time and finish many things like stories, like poems, like novels. A real writer can be a decent human being, a doctor, a human resources professional, an insurance salesman, a high school teacher, an immigrant. A real writer spends every day with the word. When she misses a day she is sad, but there is the next day. A real writer writes on the train, on the plane, in a car, in a closet, in secret, and out in the open. A real writer has a computer, a journal, a post-it note. Torture a real writer by denying her a keyboard, or a pen and a piece of paper.

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My desk for a few days at the Mesa Refuge. Tomales Bay, Point Reyes Station, California. Photo by the author.

The word is power. The power is change. The change is history. The word is on Earth, the word is powered by Earth, the word is change, the word is history, the word is changing the Earth, because Earth needs a better Earth. A real writer participates in changing the course of history. On Earth.

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Time’s a ticking. Get writing. Photo by the author.