Carta Blanca

 

It is New Year’s Eve

The bird bath is empty

And so is

another year

 

All the birds are gone

Like old words to a song

I am sucking on

a Carta Blanca beer

 

Big swirly swigs start stars to spin

They align to lost Mexican moments

The Baja surf still pounds

with lovers, liars and poets

 

I drank Carta Blanca with all three

They are all gone now but still with me

Under spinning stars again we swim

And toast to another New Year’s Eve

 


 :cartablanca.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberries Frozen

 

Drunk on drunken class memories,

the reunion die-hards were all turning left.

Off to the all night diner for hot coffee and

more sappy sap stories to be said.

 

In the spontaneous spark

of a stolen searching glance, we

joined hands and without word or plan

we abruptly turned right… and ran.

 

Breaking free like escapees

we stripped our adolescent chains

and ran laughing into the tingly

electric air of a stormy hot August night.

 

With yesterday’s finger prints fresh on

our heals and tomorrow just over that black

horizon, we explored guiltless galaxies across

the milky way before the calamity of dawn.

 

Pulses of plasma imprinted our reflections

forever. Smooth sated faces and long supple

curves entwined eternally. Sweet strawberries

frozen in brilliant flashes of rare blue lightning.

 

 

 


 

Cherokee Rose

 

The Sans Sousi surf pounded,

thundered and heaved. The

moment of now she whispered,

was now dancing on his sleeve.

He floundered as the rogue

wave of a blue butterfly kiss

capsized the past and he

became awash in the promise

of pollen from the bottom

of a rose garden abyss.

 

Caught in the roiling rip tide

of a young man’s mistake,

he lacked the will to escape as he

pulled perfumed petals from the

open blossom of a wild white rose.

Slowly, softly, one by one the

petals settled like sand dollars

scattered on a moon lit beach

as the surf’s surge reached its

peak. He tasted sweet golden

nectar, never before his treasure,

never before within his reach.

 

The future collapsed into a twisted

path amongst shifting tidal dunes.

The tainted fingers of a new dawn

blossomed brilliant scarlet red

as a wild Cherokee Rose shackled

him forever to the silent memory of

a flower’s soft velvety touch and

the addictive fragrance of freedom

inhaled deeply from a soft silky bed.

 

:cherokeerose.jpg

 


 

 

Crazy Sunday June, 1966. Age 17

 

Rip Torn

was an up and coming actor,

dark haired, brash and young.

He starred in a TV drama

on the Dick Powell Theater

where he walked off

the end of a diving board

in a garden party plunge.

Fully clothed,

with a drink in his hand,     

to make a futile point

in a loosing argument.

A loosing argument

that he could not understand.

 

Pete and I passed a pint

of Old Crow back and forth

one grimaced swig after another

until the bottle was dead.

Now a useless empty vessel,                

we set it to sail

into the next ripe road sign.

KaaBAMM

Dangerous curves up ahead.

 

Just days away

from graduation day,

the Old Crow seared our throat

and it seared our brain

as we drove Dad’s Karmann Ghia

reckless and fast

deep into the muted pain.    

Laughing at the edge

while pushing away the flame.

The flame that awaited us

on the other side

from a fire we did not start

and from which

we could not hide.

 

 


 

The world was at war.

An escalating hot war

born from the war of ice.

A war of tumbling dominos

and generals rolling dice.

A war of body counts and

walls of hell called napalm.

A war hawk war of “we are

right and they are wrong”.

 

The evening national news

spewing lies and body bags                         

into our comfy living rooms.

“And that’s the way it is”

says Mr. Walter Cronkite

as we win the weekly body

count every Thursday night.

A meat cleaver of silence

from a war with no winner

served up on a platter of ice

for our nation’s family dinner.

 

The killer of friends and kin,

a national sucking wound,

now sucking us in.

Into the bloody black vortex

of choppers and doom.

Sucking the white blossoms

of our young generation

into an ever darkening tomb.

The tomb called South Viet Nam.

Courtesy of the “free world”

and our good ol’ Uncle Sam.

 

The draft board buzzards circle

like turkey vultures as the

Old Crow drives our frustration

into the 90 proof afternoon haze.

The growing frustration within us

of having no vote… of having no say.

We just could not understand

our country and our land.

The land of free speech.

The land of the Civil Rights Act.

The land of “one man, one vote”.

That land just seemed to not give a damn.


 

 

We smoke English Ovals

with the windows rolled down.

The buffeting hot wind of reality

rips at us with scary new sounds.

M16s, Hueys and screaming fighter jets.

All fueled by senseless endless rhetoric

spouting from Congressmen, Senators

and even our parents. All led

by our “Great Society” President.

The hot wind tears the black ashes

from of our manly cigarettes

revealing the angry red embers

hanging from our young lippy lips.

 

We inhale the blended blue smoke of death

as we apex the tarot card curves.

Curve after curve, card after card.

Faster and faster, tighter and tighter.

Nasty curves already scarred

with twisted black skid marks

and the dried crimson blood

of classmates before us.

The unlucky ones, the ageless ones.

The ones who were dealt the

random and indifferent 13 card.

 

From our spinning wheels of fortune

we blindly trust there are no oncoming

cars appearing in a frozen heart beat

from a banked blind curve or out

from the dark shadows hidden under

the arms of a wise old oak tree.

Especially a County Sheriff

out on a back road random troll.

Or way, way worse, the

dreaded black and white

of the State Highway Patrol.

 

Way out here in the middle

of our bearing-less crazy day.

Way out here in the middle

of our nowhere limbo land.

Way out here in our drunken

afternoon of adolescent abandon.


A pointless stupid day

of senseless thrills soused

in rebellious resignation.

Testing the slippery outer banks

of our guideless transformation.

A dangerous day spent naēvely balanced

on the razor’s edge of no tomorrow.

A hollow day filled with the

inescapable rolling thunder of war

from a darkening horizon

now setting upon us.

 

A day without peace.

  A day without answers.

    A day without resolution.

      A day of feeling helpless and lost shared with a brother.

        A day spent at the end of a slick diving board.

          A day in a time that we just could not understand.  

                                             A day that could have easily gone a different way.

                                               A day that I will always remember as

                                                  Crazy Sunday.

 

Epilogue: Fortunately, Pete and I survived that Crazy Sunday and safely graduated from high school as expected to our parents’ delight. During the following years, we also managed to avoid Vietnam. Listed below are 8 young men who did not. They were from my small home town of Morgan Hill, (& San Martin) Calif. (approx area pop. 5,000 in 1966). They were all killed in Vietnam. All their names appear on the Vietnam War Memorial, “The Wall”, in Washington, DC. All but one were fellow schoolmates of mine at Live Oak High School. I played football with Richard Garcia and Adrian Lopez. Most of them were drafted into military service and were killed before ever being able to vote.

 

MORGAN HILL, CALIFORNIA:

PFC JAMES MICHAEL (HITE) DE ABRE - Sept 30, 1946 to Oct 12, 1967 (Live Oak Class of  1964)

SSG RICHARD CLAUDE GARCIA - Oct 04, 1947 to May 03, 1969 (Live Oak Class of  1965)

CDR FREDERICK LEE HOLMES - Dec 19, 1936 to Dec 30, 1971 MIA (not a schoolmate)

LCPL ARNOLD LEE LEONARD Jr - June 23, 1947 to June 16, 1968 (Live Oak Class of  1965)

PFC JOHN NISHIMURA - May 08, 1946 to April 04, 1968 (Live Oak Class of  1964)

PFC RICHARD PEREZ - Aug 15, 1947 to Feb 09, 1968 (Live Oak Class of  1966)

 

SAN MARTIN, CALIFORNIA:

PFC ADRIAN SALOME LOPEZ   March 6, 1948 - Feb 18, 1968 (Silver Star) (Live Oak Class of  1966)

PFC JIMMY LEE SHIELDS -  May 10, 1948 - Nov 20, 1968 (Live Oak Class of  1967)

 

A proud James Hite returned to Live Oak High School during my senior year (1966) as a guest speaker. He spoke of his war experiences as a Green Beret fighting the Viet Cong in Vietnam. Listening to Jim’s stories, statements and answers to our questions helped convince me that the Vietnam war was a hopeless horrific bloody mess that needed to be avoided if at all possible. Jim was killed when he returned to Vietnam. He was the first of the 8 to be killed. We used to ride the school bus together before he graduated. He lived off of Watsonville Rd in the Hayes Valley. I often think of the life he and the others did not have as I drive by the exact spot where the school bus last dropped him off. Now, once a year, they park acres of expensive cars in the open field next to that spot for a big professional golf tournament where Tiger Woods is the main attraction. What a waste that war was. What a waste of life.

 

 

© Edward Ferri, Jr.

 

Biography:   Edward Ferri, Jr. grew up on a "non profit" farm in the remote hills of California where "Bailing wire, gumption, and spit" were the "I-Apps" of the day. He is a graduate of SJSU and works as an mechanical engineer to supplement his poetry writing. He has been published in Eskimo Pie, Lucidity Poetry Journal and the Muddy River Poetry Review. He first realized the beauty of Denali in the rear view mirror. He was leaving to meet Carol and never returned.