Category Archives: Sunnyside queens

Sledding in Woodside Queens 2013

35. Sledding in Woodside/
With the people of the world/
Human gravity/


50. The snowy hillside/
In Woodside’s Doughboy playground/
Is peppered with fun/

51. Here Colombians/
Bengalis, Tibetans as/
Americans slide/

52. Snowy experience/
ReCaptured digitally/
Are sent to tropics/

53. iPad made movies/
Of happy Americans/
Are sent far away/

54. Woman with hijab/
Gucci covered iPad films/
Her smiling children/

55. Korean father/
Roars down the tree covered hill/
Ecstatically loud/


56. Mexican fam’ly/
Unloads children & their sleds/
Then tackle papí/

57. Americans all/
We enjoy democracy/
Of our acceptance/

36. Sledding with children/
Overshot my playfulness/
Collided with age/

37. Clenching rope handles/
Spinning beyond all control/
Damaged ring finger/

38. Regretting my ride/
Because I injured myself/
Shows a lack of faith/

39. Staying young inside/
More important than safety/
For immortal* souls/
#haiku *eternal

40. Aging bodies recede/
To within our comfort zone/
Abandoning youth/

41. Aches and troubles/
Of old immaturity/
Are truly priceless/

42. Youthfulness’s worth/
Though dangerous to old men/
Keeps their spirits fresh/

43. Adventure’s value/
Is an internal journey/
Exploring within*/
#haiku *our souls

44. The pains in my body/
Temporarily remind/
My mind I’m alive/

45. This throbbing finger/
Beats the rhythm of my heart/
Where I can feel it/

46. I regret nothing/
Because I’m educated/
By experience/

47. While I don’t like pain/
It reminds me I’m alive/
Here to live for now/


48. Wedding tourniquet/
The ring keeps my red blood in/
The heart of my life/

49. Ring’s Symbol becomes/
An active agent in life/
I cherish it so/



Fate/Faith #Haikus

20. Another big day/
With important tasks to do/
(like ev’ry other)

21. Savor the mundane/
Revel In tribulations/
For it’s all we have/

22. We’re alive today/
Here for some special reason/
That needs no knowledge*/
#haiku *understanding (incomplete)

23. The organism/
We are little cells within/
Needs all our actions/

24. The complex machine/
We are tiny parts within/
Works better with us/


25. Flat tire is the sign/
I was searching heaven for/
Patience is virtue/
(@ Icon Enterprises) [pic]:

26. I’m climbing my fate/
Pushing more effort up there/
For what I don’t know/
(@ New York City) [pic]:

27. Perfect surprises/
Align symmetrically for/
Those who look around/
@ Midtown Comics


~waiting for the bus and rain~

1. Waiting for the bus/
As the skies begin to rain/
Just looking around/

2. Nervous quickened strides/
Gamble by not running/
To beat the rain drops/

3. People’s nonchalance/
Is the thin false bravado/
Facing summer rain/

4. Man lights cigarette/
Determined to beat the rain/
With flaming pleasure/

5. Made-up women pop/
Cheap umbrellas for first drops/
Protecting their paint/

6. The Damp crowded bus/
Over-run with aromas/
Sticks like damp vinyl/

7. Woman next to me/
Smells friendly like vanilla/
Perfume or a drink?/


Spring Ennui


Spring Structure View Lament

As I stand on the hillock behind my house looking over the gentle slope that rolls down to the stone wall that separates the cemetery from Woodside, I am filled with sadness because of the warm breezes that blow down the back of my neck. In the darkening sky I watch the empire state and Chrysler buildings jump to life I lament the warmth that I’ve been crying for all winter long; this the first winter of our puppy, Lucky. As the buildings get to full voltage on the horizon on the other side of the stone wall, graveyard and river the skies fall dark. Through denuded branches the empire state glows two flavors of pink in a spring cross-marketing promotion of breast cancer and brassieres. The Chrysler building arcs a bright deco-rococo filigree in the center of the mountain of Manhattan skyline. The brilliance of the verge of sky and city on that warming cold spring evening seen through the branches flogging the sky pulls at my heart. Soon the warmth will stimulate the branches and coax out the flush-lush green that will blot it all out. In a week, two, or a month I will stand above that brown stonewall topped with concertina wire and see nothing but trees and leaves. The obstruction will be celebrated far & wide. From the 7 Manhattan-ites will remark “how bucolic” it looks with all the trees & Tudor buildings. I will cringe thinking about all of the views the foliage has suffocated.
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The picture of the building is cracked
Irregular lines and shadows of lines
Scribble in every direction, track
Crossing out the columned stone station

Cops quickly passing a crenellated
Columned, staired stone castle
The cracks are crooked boughs
Of December trees, up and out gasping

Long branches reaching for sun long gone
Zig-zagged boughs couldn’t dodge trucks
Cracked and reversed lay bare winter pain
Now I can see how summer shade is struck


The spring brings out cover to hide
The old “house.” The green pollution smears
The leisurely passing of what’s inside
The strength of the skeleton structure

After Winter Falls

After Winter Falls
Through snakey black trees
A hard world emerges
Out the grey windows

Folks, kids, dads, and moms
Love and hate and pain
Streets of hOpetemism
The course of city life

Branches separate
Branches unify
People living out
City life as humans

Spring buds out green life
Tinting strong lines green
Blotting out the lives
That run past the windows

Buds to leaves become
Hinting at the branch
That holds leaves up, out
Over and along

Bulbous leaves foam out
Green from everywhere
Lush plush green of lies
Life of lives to hide

“Queens Boulevard Driftwood”


In my annual calender, on the page I started the poem were these two “bon mots:” “the truth broke my uniqueness” (3.22.7) and “My ability stand pain diminished” (4.2.7). I’m not sure why I wrote them down, who said them, or why they matter, but I’m digitalizing them.

I saw a huge chunk of wood in traffic on Queens Boulevard the other day and the traffic was slowly dissolving it. I though about it and I want ed to write a poem, and this is what I started last night as Erin (M) spoke.

“Queens Boulevard Driftwood”
A six foot block of 8” by 10”
Aged for a century deep in
A warehouse that held barrels of oil
That 2 floors down became pens

Flame de-industrialization
For cold steel replacement buildings:
To fill with pressboard furniture
Covered with white and birch veneer

The rubble of that factory
Trucked away thirty cubic
Yards at a time to a depot
Lashed to barges along the River

The illegal that packed the charred beam
In the 30 yard dumpster lashed loose
The blue plastic tarp containment
Disposable archeology

Too fast turn by stallion carting
Out flew bricks, rubble and plaster
The beam that held up 100 years
Of hard work and new things fell out

Wave after wave of traffic rolls
Over and over the charred cedar
Crumbling and shaving the wood cut
A century ago by dagos

Yellow, then red and green again
The pulsing of the traffic thuds
Over and over the charred cedar
Gnawing away on the old beam

Smoothing the remains of the tree
Felled so long ago in mountain woods
A century hidden in red brick
Supporting piece-work now done by

Dominicans and Poles and
Koreans and Fujianese
And Hondurans and Mexicans
With bleary eyed efficiency

When I see the board dissolving
Under the waves of rush hour tires
It smoothes along the rough grain grown
When Lincoln debated Douglass

The grain shows like the tree itself
Fell down in a cold mountain stream
And was worn away gently in
The most tranquil of rural deaths

Waves of cars on Queens Boulevard
Lap over the wetback hewn board
Eroding it like the bowsprit
Of a shipwrecked sail freighter

Made redundant by steel and steam
Wave after wave on the freezing verge
Wears away the tree cut down quick,
Casually, when Queens was built

By dawn there is only a smooth
Core, the size of a root, halo-ed
By splinters worn off, car after car
Queens Boulevard Driftwood

This poem, on reconsideration, reminds me of this shit.

Offspring Update


Mason’s Cameraphone Portrait

The kids have been on my mind lately, as much as I have anything on my mind. Chandler, Mason and Lennox are growing and developing in wonderful and exciting ways as they refuse to go out into their new neighborhood and make friends.

Mason was confident after the Hunter Entrance examination test. He was excited and amped up after being such a good young man, following instructions and orders, making it through a Board of Ed (Bored of ed?)  hazing gauntlet.  Sitting the exam with over 1000 kids, he was gripped -I think- by his growth since he moved to NYC as a suburban Cali boy.  He is a great kid and wanted to talk all about it, though he is narratively challenged; most of the explanations and anecdotes he shared didn’t make too much sense.

Chandler called me the other day to explain where the car was as they led me down and out by a few minutes and her instructions were more confusing than the IRS instruction booklet. Her directions had a bout six sentences, none of which told me where the car was, though I could have followed them and gone “out the door to the left, but not all the way to the left, the one with glass, but not just a window of glass, but the whole door.” I would have found it if I had walked out either door because the car was right in front of the building, but the instructions were one of the first times she spoke to me since my Friday Transgression where I failed to pick her up after school.

Lennox has taken to qualified sycophancy. “Dad, you’re the best cook in the world,” she says earnestly looking up from her chocolate chip pancakes. As she finishes chewing that bite she continues, “and I’m not saying that just to be nice, I really mean it.” Variations on this like,  “you’re handsome,” “you don’t look like you are 48,” and other such heart-warming-trifles come out whenever she is warm, well fed and well rested.  And each compliment, with sincere eye contact, slightly raised brows and her trade-marked too-little-teeth-smile, she always adds the caveat , “and I’m not saying that just to be nice, I really mean it.”

In this little qualification or explanation she is showing her awareness that her utterances might be manipulative and be discounted as such.  It’s like she’s read pillowbook and doesn’t want to be grouped with R***r, “the unreliable narrator.”  This meta-awareness is a sigh of her new self-awareness.  She has obviously seen someone use sycophantic flattery and loose credibility somewhere in Kindergarten or after care when the flattery was challenged.  She sees the resultant cost of being tagged an “unreliable narrator” so she uses this catch phrase to inoculate herself against the harsh judgment of the adult world.  Even as she puts on chapstick and holds her lips in a self-conscious kissable partition so as not to “remove the gloss” in a pure naïve princess innocence, she is also aware of truth, accuracy and perception as perishable commodities that must be nurtured, supported and protected.  I wish her father was as good at reading quotidian political situations.

Happy New You



12/31/07 05:35:55 AM

Where has the year gone? Has it gone into the trash heap or the archives; I’m not sure which. Into the archives is another beautiful year with a wonderful family. We’ve just moved into an apartment which seems to fit us better. We, for the first time, are in a home big enough for all of us (the second bathroom is key).

Here is an outline of the biggies I can think of this minute:

New House

We love our new house and are looking forward to finishing moving in. Three bedrooms and two baths is the right fit for us. Mason has his own room and it is big enough to send him to. 🙂 Chandler and Lennox are working out the wrinkles in their new quasi-cohabitation. Generally permission is granted to cross the armistice line; especially since Lenna got her princess netting and pink rug. It is strange to be in a modern building and the view, as I look over the BQE and east into Woodside and Rego Park and watch the sun rise as I write this the sky and the contours of the land are enthralling to me. I love watching when the LIRR rolls out of Woodside on the way to Jamaica: a long silvery snake a half a mile on.



I am still so in Love With Linda that it scares me. She is the model for everything beautiful and desirable in my life. I wish I could be with her more and, paradoxically, more like her. I am blessed to be chosen by her to spend these days together with her.

Chandler continues to thrive at the TAG school she’s in. She has a lot of homework and does it without complaint, though she looks at the confections of Cable TV as the just and right compensation for her work. At least is is mostly Disnified Pre-Tween Confections, though she will be a teenager on February 23rd.

Mason and I survived the soccer season (he’s quite good) with me as coach, though he declined to play winter league indoors. Mason’s way with words continues to amaze Linda and I mostly because he is not the squeaky wheel. Out of -or out from under- the hubbub of the family Mason will make a wry comment that puts everything that we are all elbowing to the front to try and frame just so into context. He does so uproariously and seemingly without effort.

Lennox is growing up so fast in so many ways. Just like with her sister we are often fooled into thinking that she’s older because she’s so damned verbal. She is also sassy in a way Chandler can only dream of (and rue). So when she puts her hand on her splayed hip and rolls her eyes as she wipes stray locks out of her eyes explaining “whatever, duh!” we lose track of her age (5) and size (just right). We start trying to reason with the sarcastic teenager that she apes rather than the Kindergartener that she is. Needless to say we miss having Kindergarten across the street, but we’ll see how this move will effect our lives (passive aggressively I think the earlier wake-up and travel will be good for the family).

School Year

I loved my Fall 1 Classes and I am really enjoying the Lit Elective classes I am teaching. The Contemporary African American Fiction and the Black Lit Survey have been soul-expanding (as much as teaching a class can be). I love the students at LaGuardia CC. Teaching them is a dream come true. In many of their faces and papers I see myself struggling intellectually to come into my own. It is a humbling flashback when I see the same misunderstandings that I made in someone else’s paper. It is a merciful reminder of my current domestic bliss when I see the sturm und drang of youthful courting around campus. I look forward to working on my own intellectual and academic development this next year.

Amir’s Murder

The horror of Amir Hassan Reed’s murder this year has put a lot of things into perspective. I am so grateful to be alive, which I generally take for granted. I take life, mine and my beautiful family’s to be a given that shall continue along, but it “Ain’t Necessarily So.” I had taken it for granted that I would wake up to the same cast that I went to sleep with. It is rare that such a Cause Célèbre visits our lives, and I had often wished that my life would intersect with drama and fame. Sigh, I wish that I had marked my door with blood so this angel never came. What I found most annoying and titillating was the comments left on the SFGate site articles: people who knew the least seemed to make the strongest comments. This puts all of my “Willie-Neckbone-Expertise” into perspective: the more I think I know, the less I know.

48 Years

I turned 48 this December. I remember in 1974 thinking that it would be the year 2000 when I was 40. It seemed so abstract and distant (and of course I took it for granted that I would live that long). Well until this year I’ve held up well. During the spring my Achilles tendons started to act up (and I didn’t go to the doctor). In the Fall, playing soccer with Mason I tore up my ankle (and I didn’t go to the doctor). This December my ankle got infected and I went to the doctor. I will go to physical therapy soon because I really miss my morning runs through Sunnyside, Woodside, Maspeth and Long Island City. I’m feeling trapped by my infirmity in spite of the fact that I did go for a bike ride yesterday. Linda is sick this morning so I don’t think I’ll have that luxury.


I still haven’t written the great American novel, but I have been working on a story. I haven’t published my dissertation, but I hope to. I want to do more original scholarship rather than just “willie-neckbone” out opinions on things I know little about. So I will continue to do as the Sanskrit Proverb suggests:

Look to this day
For it is life
The very life of life.
In its brief course lie all
The realities and verities of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The splendor of action,
The glory of power —

For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today, well-lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.

Happy New YOU, Love Stafford.