chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Monthly Archives: November 2013

inheritance

This is JakeI never knew my mother’s father, Jake, who died more than a dozen years before I was born, but among the things my mother kept was a small notebook of his. It’s soft leather, pigskin, perhaps, and much worn with handling. Embossed on the front are the words COMPLIMENTS OF BRODY & FUNT* and a New York address. Calendars for 1907 and 1908 line the front and back covers and printed pages include a compendium of essential information, such as USDA Weather Bureau Explanation of Flag Signals; the National Bankruptcy Law; Facts about Panama; Height and Weight of Men; New York Hotels; and much more.

Jake sold insurance, and tucked inside the notebook is a cellophane cigar sleeve imprinted with his name and New York Life Ins. Co. There’s also a long (14 column Jake's notebookinches!) newspaper article from the Milwaukee Journal, “Journal Carrier Upholds His Rights,” that recounts the trials and triumph of young “Jakey,” whose newspaper delivery route put him crossways with a local citizen. I imagine him bringing out the ten-year-old much-refolded article to regale customers and anyone else he might encounter on the road.

The blue-graph-paper pages of the notebook are covered with my grandfather’s untidy writing, the contents as eclectic as the book’s printed pages. Some are reminders, scrawled and crossed out, “Ma G birthday Oct 2,” (his mother-in-law, my great-grandmother). Many pages are covered with columns of names and numbers — perhaps a record of installments paid or owed by his customers.

But the pages that interest me most are collections of cryptic notations — “Barber, where do you get shaved” — “Keep off Michigan Ave. (rubber ball)” — a firm line dividing each note from the next. Whether these are observations, punch lines, song lyrics or random firings of Jake’s magpie mind, I can’t know.

Maybe, if I keep studying it, this little book will teach me something about my mother. Or maybe a few of these unmelodic lines will find their way into poems: collaborations with the laughing man I never knew.
. . . . .
*Brody & Funt, as the first interior page explains in eight lines of text and a half-dozen different typestyles, were “Makers of well made popular priced Ladies’ and Misses’ Cloaks, Suits, and Tailor Made Wash Suits, separate coats and skirts.”

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nominated!

we forage…

we have come…

found poem © j.i. kleinberg ~ we have come
found poem © j.i. kleinberg

You, my visitors, viewers, readers, are deserving of a special note of gratitude on this Thanksgiving day. I am continually astonished, and honored, that there are those of you who show up every day to look, or Like, or Comment — that somehow you have found your way here and have returned again and again. Whether I know you or not, you are a friend and your presence in my life is meaningful and important. Thank you.

Thanksgiving poem (written/posted in 2012).

WHY…

Inside…

deciphering the bird

bird by jik age 3My mother had some specific misconceptions about the avian world and she asserted them with authority. Hummingbirds were hummingbirds but all other small birds were sparrows. Period. All dark-colored birds were crows, including redwing blackbirds, ravens and starlings. The raucous Western Scrub-Jays that animated our California back yard in great numbers she called Blue Jays — a forgivable error (if geographically unlikely): they were jays and they were blue.

More populous than the jays were the Northern Mockingbirds, which were, according to Dorothy, female Blue Jays. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I untangled this particular knot.

The parakeet, who never learned to say a word in spite of my most persistent efforts, imitated the jays. The jays harassed the dog, dive-bombing her round pug-ness as she sunned herself on the patio. The mockingbirds harassed the jays, teasing them with pitch-perfect Scrub-Jay squawks and plangent meows.
. . . . .
bird-on-perch drawing by jik age 3

THE NIGHT…

Friendly…

November 22

crumbs…

ice
The dream is gone, but displayed on the marquee of my sleep-memory are three words: ICE COW PANCAKE. There are no lines drawn between these disconnected dots, only the three breadcrumbs.

Google tries (cow pancake, pancake bunny), but offers no ah-ha; amazingly, cowWikipedia, knower of all things, doesn’t even show up on the first search page.

I suppose I’ll have to craft the Wikipedia entry myself, and begin watching the little movie that projects in my mind: ice-skating cows on a pancake lake, cow-shaped icebergs in pancake parkas, pancake cows grazing on an icy meadow….Um, I better go now.
pancake. . . . .
ice cow pancake

BOLD…

to show…

aging…

is winter…

NATIONAL…

I hate…

inspired…

What won’t…

wild things…

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