Friday, February 29, 2008

Moving a Mountain

Multitude of wheels, all turning, synchronized,
Eighteen windows, peering with empty gaze.
Company's goal, developers' dream realized,
Soon, on High Street, moving building will amaze.

It was constructed in 1902 as elegant living,
Murillo Apartments, grand three-story edifice;
Condos attempted there, markets unforgiving,
New office project finally pushed it over precipice.

Now, it is time for the old dame to travel,
Better that, than face the wrecking ball --
Condominium dreams having unravelled,
Will be basic housing, a roof and four walls.
Finally coming to rest just a few blocks away,
New Sherman Hill place to live, work and play.

Moving a large, old apartment building, the whole thing, a few blocks to make way for a new Insurance building in downtown Des Moines. Weighs something like 500 tons.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Kabookie Dance

Funding for Space
Difficult at best,
In a conundrum.

Shuttle program ending,
Orion still in development,
Astronauts soon grounded.

Should we buy more Soyuz craft?
Could we rely on civilian Transports?
Some unfunded capsule by Boeing?

Congress grilling NASA,
Administrator struggling,
At a loss for answers.

Unless US astronauts
Magically sprout thrusters,
They will be stuck on Terra Firma.

- with apologies to all involved, watched the congressional hearing today on NASA-TV,
when the congressman said "Kabookie Dance" I just had to write something about it *grin*.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In praise of prose

Free prose diction from form of fiction,
Set yourself off in a new direction;
Let loose one's poetry from restriction,
Explore virgin worlds without protection.

Shakespeare waving wand of discipline,
Petrarch insisting on romantic minglings?
Milton inscribing formalistic epistles,
Even Lear formatting Limerick jinglings --

Rather, launch creative verbiage outward,
String sentences in various combinations;
Focus one's mental seeing eye inward,
Document resulting fascinating revelations.
Savor novel essences of unique verse wines,
Liberated from formal prison of meter and rhyme!

How about that, a sonnet about not writing sonnets.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Petrarchian playground

Writing poetry in Sonnets is fun,
Whether preferred form is Shakespearean,
Or if your pleasure is Petrarchian,
Can cover any subject under the sun.

Close, intense battle between Clinton, McCain?
Continuing warfare, bombings in Iraq?
Other worldwide extremist terror attacks?
High gas prices driving one insane?

Just get out pen and paper,
No reason to hesitate --
Cast out all your emotions...

Writing passions never waver,
Use the medium to initiate,
Deeper, thoughtful human convocations.

An experiment in alternate sonneteering.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Unquenched desire for springtime

Cold, grey snow crunches underfoot,
Air steams out of my aching lungs,
Knives of chill assault exposed skin,
Breathing ragged, head faint, hurrying inside.

Another brutal winter morning,
Headed into work, no choice,
Would so much rather stay in bed,
Warm, saturated with pleasant dreams.

Dreams of sunshine, warm green grass,
Birdsong, kids playing outside, flowers.
Masses of flowers swaying and scenting
Balmy breezes, caressing ones hopes,
Sweetening vision, magic summer skies.

I make it inside, relieved --
Gasp for breath, momentarily thankful
Just to be alive. Rapidly, though,
Fantasize warm, beautiful springtime,
Evanescing through my busy workaday mind.

Hope the weatherman is right about a coming warming trend!
$100.00 Oil

We rise each day, struggle to get ready,
Hustle any kids to school, hurl selves to workplaces;
Slog through assignments, keeping tempers steady,
Bosses, kids, daily requirements put us through paces.

Prices keep going up, wages lagging behind,
We take another job, tighten our financial belts;
Home heating products price continues to climb,
We watch our financial hopes and dreams melt.

Amidst our struggles, shadowy traders lurk,
Bidding and selling oil futures, deriviatives;
Keep buying, driving up crude prices, the jerks,
Causing drivers to pay more, spew out expletives.
These greedy, criminal trading entities,
Causing an American economic catastrophe.

Time to go shopping for a bicycle.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Below Zero

Global Warming is coming, Beware!
So the refrain is yelled and screamed;
Every nation, pay attention, be very scared,
Real change, not just an enviornmental dream.

Air pollution, fossil fuel overconsumption,
Obviously a bad idea. Renewable
Energy technology neccessary, valid assumption,
Need for some change is not debatable.

But, our roads are coated with snow so cold,
Icemelting chemicals do not even work;
Bitter winds cutting through anyone so bold,
To venture out to job, store or church!
Seems like we could use a dose of Global Warming,
Because here in the Midwest, we are really freezing!

Come on already, Springtime, and hurry!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

White s--t

Heavy, wet stuff, clumping and coagulating,
Some sticking on shovel, some sliding off --
Some light, some heavier --
Perfect snowman construction consistency.
Brilliant flashes of sunlight break, glimmer.
Wind a persistent gale, constantly groaning,
Telling me, Do not even think about leaving today!

But, the neighbor made it out okay...
Damn them anyway,
I mutter, hefting the shovel.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Relating to, "But Outer Space" by Robert Frost.

Personal Spaceflight around the corner,
Bigelow and Rutan building new ships;
Paying passengers cross Khazak border,
Ride Soyuz craft for their ISS trips.

International Space Station coming together,
Shuttles visiting, adding more components;
Europeans Columbus vessel making it better,
Pleasing space habitation proponents.

All this noise and hullabaloo,
Generates exitement and adrenaline.
If one could live a century or two,
Could see some of it come to fruition.
Reality is agonizingly slow progress,
Fits and starts, and occasional successes.

-written for a poetry contest, so I put it here too.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Shrinking Thinking Machines

One human generation ago, computers were mainframes.
Hulking core memory, transistored, tubed goliaths.
Giant rooms, air conditioning tonnage, thick cables;
Operators, Programmers, acolytes serving a machine-god.
Common folk saw only printed invoices, punch cards.

Suddenly, first Personal Computers emerged.
Radio Shack, Commodore, Apple I, Altair;
Tiny memories, limited abilities, huge prices.
First, one had to program them, and then run them!
Cellphones and Internet were still laboratory infants.

Big Blue waded into the fray, IBM PC appeared.
Standardization, some useful software, increased deployment.
Industry shakeout, smaller players dissapearing.
Commodore, Radio Shack perservered, struggling...
Memory and disk capacities increasing, displays improving.

Cellular phones propagated far and wide,
First bricks, gradually giving way to flip-phones.
Rudimentary cellular datacommunications appeared;
Multimedia PC's, CD-ROMs, Modems made their debut.
Windowing software, mice made them easier to use!

Finally, worldwide Internet made universal appearance,
WWW and E-mail taking the world by storm.
PC and Macintosh hardware capabilities increasing,
Moore's Law confirming their assault on Mainframe power.
Cellphones became handheld multimedia entertainment centers.

Today we live in a wired, wireless world.
Audio-video entertainment over IP networks,
Discretely-switched copper yielded fast,
Enmeshed with soft-switched optical grids;
Terabyte-tweaked reality now straining wetware brains!

One human generation, many machine iterations :-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Floating a hundred miles up in Space,
A secret Soviet ship spied quietly;
Designed while the US was winning Moon race,
Almaz helped the Soviet Union move ahead militarily.

Cosmonauts could photogragh anywhere they wanted,
Untouchable, protected with an onboard cannon;
Rendered US Space technology, once so vaunted,
Second Fiddle in Space Station technology canon.

Still, US managed to develop the Space Shuttle,
Able to deliver, and retrieve, giant satellites.
Once this program got underway, US able to whittle,
Any perceived lagging, its flexibility in world spotlight.
With an American Shuttle and a Russian Space station,
Earth got itself a giant new complex, useful to many nations.

This, after watching the fascinating NOVA program on MOL tonight.
Floating a hundred miles up in Space,
A secret Soviet ship spied quietly;
Designed while the US was winning Moon race,
Almaz helped the Soviet Union move ahead militarily.

Cosmonauts could photogragh anywhere they wanted,
Untouchable, protected with an onboard cannon;
Rendered US Space technology, once so vaunted,
Second Fiddle in Space Station technology canon.

Still, US managed to develop the Space Shuttle,
Able to deliver, and retrieve, giant satellites.
Once this program got underway, US able to whittle,
Any perceived lagging, its flexibility in world spotlight.
With an American Shuttle and a Russian Space station,
Earth got itself a giant new complex, useful to many nations.

This, after watching the fascinating NOVA program on MOL tonight.

A thousand fat, fluffy flakes falling,
A thousand tears dropping for inhumanity;
A thousand regrets for failure to pursue a calling,
A thousand memories flowing inside an entity.

Snow, adding to endless white blanket, coating desolation
Covering wounds and pain on this barren plain;
Hiding thoughts of past pleasures, masking frustration --
Constant shovelling and salting can drive one insane!

For some, this Valentine's day, white flakes bring promise,
A thousand happy smiles, fleeting moments of joy;
Chocolates, flowers, dining out, giving gifts with bliss,
A thousand sweet nothings, and no need to be coy.
But for others, it is just another cold February day,
One to be endured, heading springtime's way.

Snow was descending gently and regularly outside the windows, prompting this.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Little by Little

One module at a time, we are building history,
Slow, graceful ballet, 210 miles above the Earth;
Stark, hostile, beautiful place of mystery,
Humans still discovering Outer Space's worth.

Bolt by bolt, minute by hour, day by week --
Creeping steadily closer to a permanent habitat;
Expansion, discovery of new vistas we seek,
Where we are going determines where we are at.

Long after I've left this old Earth,
Our planetary system will be studded with colonies;
People travelling to tourist worldlets with mirth,
More extraterrestrial, than Earthside, municipalities --
The Solar System itself will be our new conveyance,
Cruising the Galactic arm, watching for other intelligences.

A Sonnet triggered by the construction going on overhead (210 miles or so),
while they are installing Columbus module on the ISS.
Salute to our troops in Iraq.

Ever wondered what the worst job was?
Sometimes ours must seem that way;
Well I got news for you, cuz...
Our soldiers in Iraq do it every day.

Patrolling streets in vulnerable Humvees,
Attacking strongholds, defending weak areas;
Al-Queda or muslim fanatics will not be appeased,
No job for anyone weak, or prone to hysteria!

Although their job seems to be getting better,
As terror cells and groups are destroyed,
Suicide bombers will suddenly make them wetter,
Blood sprayed about, as Osamas' proxies deployed.
Any employment here in our safe, war-free country,
Has to be better than this hazardous, yet honorable, duty.

Sonnet to honor our people in uniform.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Waver

Walking to work in the morning,
Cold, dark trudge in a tired mood;
Another dreary, routine day a'borning,
The week sure seems long, I brood.

Out of nowhere, the grey four-door roars,
Window down, hand out waving, horn honking --
One bright soul greeting a friend or paramour,
His heartfelt greeting intercepted by me in passing.

Some good souls exist like this,
In varying places around downtown --
Brightening peoples morale, unconditionally,
They are not afraid to publicly clown around.
Releasing tensions and amusing us "normal" folk,
Thank goodness for their bold gestures, granting hope.

The guy rolls down his window and waves, even on very cold days.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Earth's human population is busy multiplying,
Adding more people at a prodigious rate;
The rate at which resources used is increasing,
Putting the planet in a precarious state.

Differing races have differing outlooks,
On how many kids should be in the family;
In India, a Victorian philosophy was mistook,
Uncontrolled breeding is wreaking a tragedy.

China is trying to keep it's numbers down,
Other Asian countries mostly the same;
Catholic Hispanics refuse to slow down,
Ancient religion's lessons mostly to blame.

If we, all races, keep procreating irresponsibly,
We will end up destroying our future, irrevocably!

A somber thought for today - Overpopulation kills!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Here is a beautiful write from a friend, enjoy!
The Symphony of Homo Sapiens Sapiens

Since ceaseless fluctuations
are the rule, not the exception --
the only rule was change
from the dawn of Earth's conception.

A kaleidoscope of meanings
paints a symphony in words,
a synaesthesia of music ...
alike from angels and from birds.

Constellations swarm the heavens --
groups almost as old as Time,
and they symbolize the pinnacle
towards which our race must climb.

From the sharpening of that first stick
to landfall upon the moon --
the triumph of four million years
sings the naked ape's proud tune.

Will the human race forge onward
to explore our Universe,
or will "space-ship" Earth degenerate
to a black, death-ridden hearse?

Each journey starts with one first step,
yet we're narrowing our choices.
Can our actions withstand scrutiny
from all creation's voices?

Global warming and pollution
could soon make our world too hot.
We should treat old Earth more gently:
she's still the only home we've got.

(c) James Dunlap 2008
I will feature poems from other writers here from time to time.
Super Tuesday 2008

And, the results are in, folks!

Alabama became the Obama-rama, and Huckabee hicks ruled,
Arkansas, lots of cheap land, and they liked Clinton and McCain,
Arizona - Hillary was Hottest, and McCain sizzled;
California - Hillary and McCain were the brightest stars;
Conneticut - Barack and John McCain made the cut;
Delaware - Obama and McCain incorporated wins there;
Georgia - Obama and Huckabee Both did peachy here;
Illinois - Obama and McCain won the Land of Lincoln;
Massachusetts - Clinton and Romney won over the patriots;
Missouri - Obama and McCain really showed them here;
New Jersey - Clinton and McCain charmed the jerseyites;
New Mexico - Hillary Clinton managed to enchant them here;
New York - Clinton and McCain both bit the Big Apple;
Oklahoma - Clinton and McCain both struck it big;
Tennessee - Clinton and Huckabee both volunteered to win here;
Utah - Obama won them over, Romney got annoited by his fellows;
Alaska - Barack Obama, Mitt Romney soared over this massive state;
Colorado - Obama and Romney reached the highest pinnacle;
Idaho - Barack Obama won all the potatoes here;
Kansas - Barack Obama ruled the land of Oz;
Minnesota - Obama picked up 10,000 lakes, Romney reeled them in;
Montana - The wide open ranges went to Mitt Romney;
North Dakota - Obama and Romney swept the great plains;
And last but not least (well ok, maybe least), is...
West Virginia, where Huckabee mined out the most delegates!

Still a ways to go, but one big outcome is that John McCain has emerged as the
Republican front-runner in this race. Should be interesting in the weeks ahead!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Nation-building 21st century style.

Once, great powers colonized a new continent,
Sent out mighty ships, laden with people and supplies,
Established toeholds, then cities on virgin firmament,
Suceeding despite losses, to the natives' surprise.

Eventually the new colonies became independent,
Coalescing and growing stronger over the years;
Resulting nations equalled or surpassed the parents,
In one case leading the world, first among peers.

Similarly, fledgling space colonies started,
Once established, self-sufficient and thriving;
May grow, prosper, any attacks thwarted --
To become greater than any nation surviving.
Perhaps one day this extraterrestrial meta-nation,
Will come to Earth's rescue, says this meditation.

Europe----> America ------> Mars?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Self Evolution

Humanity, the first species to evolve itself,
Ever since social organization arose;
Over many thousands of years, selecting
On a self-imposed basis of trading success.

A new survival of the fittest,
If you could rise to the top,
Survive the ordeal of slavery, or
Still procreate after enduring untold hardships.

If you could compete in cutthroat business arenas,
Wage war on opponents in a real or an economic
Mode, and win over many obstacles, then procreate.
Competitive commerce sorted the winners from losers.

Humanity accelerated its own evolution,
Raising the bar repeatedly, academically;
Brainpower forced to get more capacious,
By self-imposed competitions and restrictions.

The end product had better have a premonition,
Too much competition could lead to our extinction.
Stewards of a planet full of other species growing,
We should make sure we do not end it for everyone.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Young and Old

Once a youngster, distainful of hired help,
All those older waitrons, maids, dishwashers;
They seemed like losers, sidetracked by life ---
Just wreckage on the economic highway.
Pitied, perhaps, and then passed on,
Fading rapidly away as one speeds
Ahead to a bright future, full of promise.

The view seems a lot different,
From the side of the road.
Missed turns, missteps, mistakes.
Now I wear the serving uniform,
I, the older waitron, custodain --
Cleaning up after bright, young
Attractive, smiling faces - speeding
Toward their percieved bright futures.
The shoe is on the other foot --
Even now, it does
Not seem to fit very good.

Imagine that - no sonnet today.
They will be back, trust me:-)