city spring

the City
adorns herself
in pink and chartreuse lace
delicately gracing
her steely frame
she checks herself
in her sisters’ mirrors
—urban athletes
they wear the season
differently than
their soft
country cousins
feet clad for concrete
puddles
instead of
fecund
earth

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nyc recommendations

I was asked recently on Instagram for my NYC recommendations. They aren’t what you’d expect:

whatsup.tony
Hey jimkempster! Are you based in the NYC?? 🙂 I’m heading there to make Facebook videos and was wondering if you have any recommendations?! Thanks!

jimkempster
@whatsup.tony Recommendations?

Explore every minute you’re here. Eat whatever smells good. Attend anything hosted by artists or groups of artists.

Come up with the most idiosyncratic list of unique, bizarre, exotic, uncharted, beloved things you’re interested in and then Google them with “NYC” attached, and you’ll have 100 days worth of things to do.

It’s all here. Continue reading “nyc recommendations”

symphony

 

city dawn sq

It starts with a soft hiss
in the dark
that percolates into a jangle
like chains
being pulled through pipes
which, in turn,
complain
of growing pains
with loud clanks and bangs
as they learn
again
to radiate heat.

The sheets
and the dog are warm.
The bathroom tiles will take
a little longer to comply.
I lie awake and watch
the dark blue silhouetted peeks
wink open
as windows light
one-by-one
to the rhythm
of my radiator
symphony.

marcello’s lullaby

Marcello and me

Oh, how I love my sweet ‘Cello bello boy!
I love him right up!
Did you meet my sweet ‘Cello bello boy?
That rascally pup!
How I love Marcello.
How I love Marcello.
How I love my sweet ‘Cello boy.

On the street, my sweet ‘Cello bello boy
is growly and gruff.
If you greet my sweet ‘Cello bello boy,
he’s rowdy and rough.
But at home, Marcello
is my sweet Marcello.
How I love my sweet ‘Cello boy.

Watch him run, with his feet flying, ‘Cello boy,
a wag in his tail,
and the wind ‘neith the ears of my ‘Cello boy,
like flags on a sail!
On the run, Marcello.
(Cutest bun, Marcello!)
How I love my sweet ‘Cello boy.

Go to sleep, my sweet ‘Cello bello boy,
and dream of a day
when the squirrels and the wheels, ‘Cello bello boy,
have all spun away.
Go to sleep, Marcello.
Dream sweet dreams, Marcello..
How I love my sweet ‘Cello boy.

Lyrics by Jim Kempster, based on the melody of a waltz by Vince Guaraldi.

Continue reading “marcello’s lullaby”

my trip with burt reynolds

Burt Reynolds Deliverance_why

I fell in love with Burt Reynolds in 1972 on a CYO field trip.

An eighth grader at the time, I was too young to wonder why the Catholic Youth Organization of St. Catherine’s Church in Kansas City had included among their schedule of mixers and amusement park field trips, a few outings to the local theater for first-run films like Deliverance and Cabaret.

Continue reading “my trip with burt reynolds”

face lifting

AgeMachine1500

Sometime in the 1970s, when cosmetic surgery was first being discussed on the nightly news as an elective procedure for those who could afford its extravagant price tag, my sisters who were gathered around the black-and-white TV in the kitchen dismissed the idea completely.

“I’d never do that,” they scoffed, extolling the ’70s all-natural look, “when I grow old, I want to do it gracefully—like Lauren Bacall.” They always referenced someone like Lauren Bacall (who only would have been in her fifties at the time), never Aunt Bea or Granny from the Beverley Hillbillies or any of the other women that most of the population ages into resembling.

At that point in the conversation, my mother turned from the kitchen sink with a wistful smile. “I don’t know,” she interrupted, “look at this.” Continue reading “face lifting”

waiting

The five-block walk to the subway.
The twelve-week sale of the house.
The hours to surgery.
The years to degrees.
The decades to wisdom.
From outset to threshold
of the threshold,
of the threshold,
counting minutes,
noting stones
mapping turns,
imagining the face on arrival,
the place of landing
in fragments and smudged sketches
as a trailing dream.

A zen master would counsel
to be in each second,
to learn from each minute
to acknowledge each step.
I try, lord knows,
I listen hard.
But with each boot plod
or sole flap
or hoof suck
I hear only halts:
Not yet.
Not yet.
Not yet.
Not yet.

history lesson

Cleaning out
is history research,
an archeological dig,
each layer revealing
moments from the past
weeks,
then months,
then years,
—what mattered at the time.

While cleaning out the garage
I found a wad of bread
some creature had stashed
between summer cushions
with dust, leaves, twigs
—an abandoned nest
built upon the boxes
we brought with us
intending to repair
an even more
ancient
past.