Saturday, June 30, 2012

Feelin' Groovy

John Lennon - Beautiful Boy

I'm Sorry, Bryant

So my beautiful son – my graceful, athletic, talented, gifted, fast, competitive, football-loving 11-year-old boy – was just diagnosed with a chronic blood disorder that renders him unable to participate in the contact sports he loves and relegates him to tennis, darts and bowling for the rest of his life. We’re trying to figure out how to tell him that he needs to replace his dream of playing for the NFL when he grows up with something more sedentary, more cautious, something that doesn’t involve end zones and stadiums full of cheering fans.

It could be worse, of course. At least he’s still going to grow up. But I resent having to learn about Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) and platelet levels and the risk of strokes and brain hemorrhages and where I should park when I take him to the hospital for evaluation and treatment. I resent having to add the Platelet Disorder Support Association’s website to my favorites list and feeling guilty that I’m resentful when it’s not like he has leukemia or requires around-the-clock medical care.

This is my beautiful Bryant, who taught me how to throw a perfect spiral years ago and runs faster than I ever could and was more masculine and athletic at the age of six than I’ve ever been and yet is sensitive and gentle and kind and empathetic and doesn’t deserve to have his dreams crushed by a f*cking sneaky b*llsh*t virus.

He still kisses his mom on the lips, for Pete’s sake. He still reaches for my hand when we’re walking in the park and carries his little sister’s backpack so she can make it to the bus stop on time and wakes us up on Saturday mornings to ask if we want breakfast in bed. It’s too early for him to learn that life’s not fair and bad sh*t happens for no reason and sometimes evil is rewarded and goodness is punished.

Having spent time in my vulnerable little boy’s hospital room, watching him sleep as an IV pumps Anti D immune globulin into his veins, I have even more respect for those parents whose children suffer from life-threatening illness and who know their way around a hospital like a chef knows his kitchen. I’ve always wondered if I would have the strength needed to calm and reassure my child, to be the rock that my family needed, to ignore my own feelings of despair and focus on doing whatever it took to help my loved ones.

I guess now we’ll find out.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Needs No Title

Oleta Adams - Get Here

Sunday poetry

The Genius

They came from every corner of the state
to hear him read from his latest,
which was no different than his old work.
When they arrived, he was half drunk,
leered at the girls, ignored the young men,
told several professors to go bugger Jesus,
and after an irrational monologue
he finally read three political poems
he slurred while missing whole lines,
until - only slightly more awake than the audience -
he finished his reading to a dead silence
that quickly changed to an ardent applause.
He was a very intelligent man.
He knew so long as he told people
exactly what they wanted to hear
some would always call him a genius.

~ James Valvis 

Read more poetry of unusually high unusualness at Clutching at Straws.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Bruce Springsteen - Tunnel of Love

And I Thought Hanging Chads Were Embarrassing

I was going to write at length about vaginas but it’s been done.

The embarrassment that is the Michigan GOP has been covered and in some cases ridiculed by more state and national news outlets, television personalities, websites and bloggers than I can count for refusing to allow two female legislators to speak for a day after the women used the word “vagina” on the House floor during a recent abortion debate.

Last night, thousands gathered on the lawn of the State Capitol Building in Lansing to protest the Republicans’ asinine behavior and watch female lawmakers perform “The Vagina Monologues” with playwright/feminist Eve Ensler on the Capitol steps.  I’ve been in Lansing since 1983 and I can’t recall the last time so many folks protested on the Capitol lawn – not even when John Engler eliminated General Assistance back in 1991 (leading people to camp out in tents before “occupying” was cool) or scores of bikers descended every year to disrupt, intimidate and protest that pesky helmet law that we used to have (Governor Snyder pandered repealed it back in April).

So now my state has replaced Florida, Arizona and even Oklahoma as the butt of late-night jokes and the place where reasonable, progressive, enlightened individuals dare not tread.  Thanks a lot, Michigan Republicans.

On top of this, I attended a workshop today that proved to be heavy on pointing out what’s wrong with Michigan in the current political climate and quite light on suggesting solutions or courses of action, leaving me swimming in malaise in the 90 degree heat on the way back to my office.  If I hear one more person stand before an audience microphone and boisterously declare, “We gotta get out and vote, people!,” I can’t be held responsible for my actions.

“What’s the Diehl?” readers might notice that my posts have decreased in frequency.  (I used to write something new each day; now I’m lucky if I can post a poem every Sunday.)  My writing wasn’t paying the bills and my readers were for some unknown reason opting not to click the “donate” button on the right so it became necessary for me to secure outside employment to help the love of my life make our mortgage payments.  As a result, I’m either too busy or too fried at the end of the day to post as frequently as I’d like.  So in case several days pass until I get back here, suffice it to say that a) I still support Barack Obama over Robotron Romney even though the POTUS continues to disappoint, b) there was a time when Michigan was a forward-thinking state that led the nation in progressive public policy, and c) vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Me and My Father

Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack - Tonight I Celebrate My Love

Sunday poetry

In Celebration of My Uterus

Everyone in me is a bird.
I am beating all my wings.
They wanted to cut you out
but they will not.
They said you were immeasurably empty
but you are not.
They said you were sick unto dying
but they were wrong.
You are singing like a school girl.
You are not torn.

Sweet weight,
in celebration of the woman I am
and of the soul of the woman I am
and of the central creature and its delight
I sing for you. I dare to live.
Hello, spirit. Hello, cup.
Fasten, cover. Cover that does contain.
Hello to the soil of the fields.
Welcome, roots.

Each cell has a life.
There is enough here to please a nation.
It is enough that the populace own these goods.
Any person, any commonwealth would say of it,
"It is good this year that we may plant again
and think forward to a harvest.
A blight had been forecast and has been cast out."
Many women are singing together of this:
one is in a shoe factory cursing the machine,
one is at the aquarium tending a seal,
one is dull at the wheel of her Ford,
one is at the toll gate collecting,
one is tying the cord of a calf in Arizona,
one is straddling a cello in Russia,
one is shifting pots on the stove in Egypt,
one is painting her bedroom walls moon color,
one is dying but remembering a breakfast,
one is stretching on her mat in Thailand,
one is wiping the ass of her child,
one is staring out the window of a train
in the middle of Wyoming and one is
anywhere and some are everywhere and all
seem to be singing, although some can not
sing a note.

Sweet weight,
in celebration of the woman I am
let me carry a ten-foot scarf,
let me drum for the nineteen-year-olds,
let me carry bowls for the offering
(if that is my part).
Let me study the cardiovascular tissue,
let me examine the angular distance of meteors,
let me suck on the stems of flowers
(if that is my part).
Let me make certain tribal figures
(if that is my part).
For this thing the body needs
let me sing,
for the supper,
for the kissing,
for the correct

~ Anne Sexton

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ray and Navi

Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made for Walkin'

Sunday poetry

The Universe as Primal Scream

5pm on the nose.  They open their mouths
And it rolls out: high, shrill and metallic.
First the boy, then his sister.  Occasionally,
They both let loose at once, and I think
Of putting on my shoes to go up and see
Whether it is merely an experiment
Their parents have been conducting
Upon the good crystal, which must surely
Lie shattered to dust on the floor.

Maybe the mother is still proud
of the four pink lungs she nursed
to such might.  Perhaps, if they hit
The magic decibel, the whole building
Will lift-off, and we'll ride to glory
like Elijah.  If this is it - if this is what
Their cries are cocked toward - let the sky
Pass from blue, to red, to molten gold,
To black.  Let the heaven we inherit approach.

Whether it is our dead in Old Testament robes,
Or a door opening onto the roiling infinity of space.
Whether it will bend down to greet us like a father,
Or swallow us like a furnace.  I'm ready
To meet what refuses to let us keep anything
For long.  What teases us with blessings,
Bends us with grief.  Wizard, thief, the great
Wind rushing to knock our mirrors to the floor,
To sweep our short lives clean.  How mean

Our racket seems beside it.  My stereo on shuffle.
The neighbor chopping onions through a wall.
All of it just a hiccough against what may never
Come for us.  And the kids upstairs still at it,
Screaming like the Dawn of Man, as if something
They have no name for has begun to insist
Upon being born.

~ Tracy K. Smith

Sunday, June 3, 2012

We're #1!

Raphael Saadiq - Stone Rollin'

Sunday poetry

Small-Town Autumn

Spilt dusk light on the river,
silver as mercury.

It's not art
until you mention it;

not art, I heard, until you
notice the ache in it.

Every car thunks a loose
manhole cover on Main Street.

A flagless flagpole clinks its cord.

One fat cumulus billows like
the great robes of

the untaut screens of porch doors
undulate in the breeze. And what

goes on behind those doors
goes on.

~ Donna Steiner

Saturday, June 2, 2012

We Need More of These

The Black Keys - Sinister Kid

Why I Can't Abide Today's Republicans

I know the GOP long ago mounted a systematic, coordinated effort to do whatever it takes to maintain or regain power and rob from the poor to give to the rich. I just didn’t know they have a name for their anti-American strategy: “Starve the Beast.”

This is why I can’t make pleasant small talk with anyone who supports today’s Republicans.

This is why I can’t understand today’s Tea Partiers.

This is why I can’t engage people on the right in polite discussions about politics and public policy.

Because in the back of my mind is the knowledge that right wingers are either a) aware that today’s GOP is truly evil and are fine with it, or b) woefully ignorant of the true nature of today’s Republican party.

On the one hand, I know nothing is clearly black or white, that life is full of gray and ambiguity and open to interpretation, that perception is reality and things aren’t always how they seem and sometimes what’s true on Tuesday may no longer be true on Thursday.

On the other hand, there is abundant, credible evidence that today’s GOP is comprised largely of people who don’t care about anyone but themselves, who are short-sighted and selfish, willing not just to spin but to lie, master manipulators or easily manipulated, whose allegiance is to themselves and their ilk and not the larger community, the country as a whole.

Yes, there are *ssh*l*s on the left too. Yes, politicians are in general only slightly more worthy of respect than reptiles. Yes, Democrats are inept and myopic and self-absorbed. But to my knowledge George Soros is no Koch Brother, Barack Obama is no Eric Cantor, and no one on the left ever pledged to drown our government in a bathtub.

I used to respect, if not agree with, conservatives. There were even some in my immediate family. But no more. There’s a huge difference between what my granddad believed, or what my dad used to believe, and what John Boehner and Newt Gingrich and Robotron Romney and Mitch McConnell stand for. I could provide specific examples and point to particular proposals and positions, but it’s not about domestic or foreign or fiscal policy. It’s not about “tax-and-spend liberals” vs. “compassionate conservatives.” It’s about good and bad, rich and poor, tolerant and intolerant, right and wrong.

Greed is wrong. Lying is wrong. Class warfare is wrong. Racism and prejudice are wrong. Starving the beast is wrong.

This dude can’t abide.