Ordinary Miracles

Prompt: Ordinary Miracles


The miracle isn't walking on water, it's walking on the earth.
 — Thich Nhat Hanh

The TV tells me of the miracle
 of modern manufacturing.  I look.
The first one rolls off the line, perfect.
 The second one just like it, the third
is boring, the fourth not a miracle

The sorcerer's apprentice waved
 his master's wand, the broom grew arms,
picked up the bucket and started
 to fill the basin, a miracle.
A second, a third, and so on.
 The miracle turns ordinary.

A miracle by definition isn't repeatable.

These are not miracles.  Now each tomorrow
 is not a day we've ever seen before.
Each person, dog, tree we meet
 is a miracle that will not be repeated.
See that in every person, every rock & tree,
 everyday.  Each a miracle.
Seeing that is a miracle.


     Eames Rocker

What is style before it is hip,
before it's part of a school, has a name?
When it's affordable, but innovative, before
it's Mid-Century Modern and authentic
vintage competes with authentic reproduction.
I came out of the Eames Studio, built
of fiberglass, rather ordinary metal, two
wooden rockers of solid, commonplace wood.
I sat family, company, small children
two at a time.  Turned over
I was a tank, a submarine, inspiration
for B.C.'s bird riding a turtle.  I've
lost count of how many times
I've been moved, tossed in on top
of a trailerful of clothes, books,
other furniture.  Somewhere along the way,
imperceptibly, the surface coat's worn off,
the wooden rocker cracked and repaired,
the children, one then the other left me
upright, just a chair among adults
without the imagination to turn me
over into a tank, a cave, anything
other than a vintage Eames rocker,
too hip to discard, too fragile to be used,
too far from affordable & innovative, too
worn to be the museum display for
Mid-Century Modern!

— Jeffery Taylor



Prompt: A list of types of tables


     Operating Table

At surgery number four, the anesthesiologist said, "You're almost seventy, we ..."  I thought, "Wait, I just turned sixty-five. What do you mean, almost seventy?"  He continued, "... are going to drop the memory drug."  Oh, I thought it was the chemo messing with my memory.

So they hooked me up and wheeled the gurney down the hall.  This is where my memory usually ended.  The aide elbowed the door switch.  I realized this is why the switch is so far back, a gurney's length, from the door.  The doors opened their funny way, one inward, one outward, and we continued on into the operating room.  He lined the gurney up with the operating table and asked me to move myself onto it.  I'm sure this had happened every operation, but I didn't remember because of the memory or twilight drug.

Lying on the operating table, a memory came back, "I've been here before", but no memory of which surgery it was.

When I was settled, they strapped my arms to swinging leaves of the operating table and swung them out of the way.  Only then did the anesthetist nurse say
they were giving me something and I was out.

     Log Tables

For most science and engineering students in the 70s, two items stayed with you through school: a slide rule and a Chemical Rubber Company book of
Standard Mathematical Tables and Formulae.  Both cost \$30, a significant expense in those days.  The CRC Handbook came with a sheet of gold foil to
emboss your name on the spine.  Log tables were needed for some calculations with logarithms where more precision was needed than you could get out of a
slide rule.  Those and the differential calculus formulas were the sections I used.  As I found my path, I switched from straight electrical engineering to
the computer science option and used them less and less.  Instead I increasingly used The Art of Computer Programming.  When I graduated and moved
from job to job, both sets of books went with me to show I was a real engineer.  Only after retirement did I donate them to the library.  The subject area switch, the advent of affordable calculators, and improved programming libraries had made them superfluous.

     Circular Table

My first jobs were in the Silicon Valley.  Much of our joint eating out was at Chinese restaurants.  Occasionally there were enough of us and we were well
known enough that we were seated at one of the banquet tables. They were big enough for 8--10 people with a lazy susan in the middle so serving platters
didn't have to be passed, just the whole thing turned.  But people were impatient or didn't want what was in front of them.  Serving platters were still passed, jumping ahead or behind in rotation.

— Jeffrey Taylor


A Happy Birthday / Counting Backwards

Prompts were "A Happy Birthday" by Ted Kooser and "Counting Backwards" by Linda Pastan


Physics of Acceleration

It’s the physics of acceleration I mind,
the way time speeds up.
But of course to go through that barrier
at the end of life we need
the momentum to carry us through.
Those who don’t, stall without the traction
or momentum to carry them.
Months or years on the cusp, not
a pleasant place to be. Then
comes the slow grind, digging in
deeper and deeper until they find
the solid footing necessary
to push through.


Ken says, “Oh, that won't happen.”
I ask, “Can you prove it?”
Ken was younger, faster, but prone
to bogging down short of the goal.
Slow is faster if you don't have to stop
or backtrack.

Zanshin—Perfect Finish

I will ride this day down into night
continue the work though
there is not light to read, there
is light tunneling through the thin places.
Just because work/motion is ended
take care not to fall into laziness.
Let your stillness be impeccable.

Watershed Moments

There are watershed moments.
From the other side, seeing back
is difficult. Memory is often
thin, lost, or hazy.
From the pass you see
both and compare. Maybe
decide to return,
the old appears fairer.
Or proceed into the new, simply
because it is new, unknown, unwalked.
From a mountaintop,
you see many watersheds.

—Jeffery Taylor