Twin Fiddlers

Twin Fiddlers0001Daddy took his little girl everywhere,
Especially when he went fishing and fiddling.

Once a month on Sundays,
At the Washington Old Time Fiddler’s Association,
They soaked up some toe tapping,
Mountain music.

One afternoon,
While sawing on his old fiddle,
With rhythm guitars and a bass strumming at his side,
Daddy’s little girl toddled up to the stage and tugged,
At his pant leg for attention,
To everyone’s delight.

He loved to play,
“Bill Cheatum,” “Arkansas Traveler,”
And “Bully of the Town.”

Just as Daddy conspired,
The fiddle bug did bite her,
At the age of three.

Three months of begging,
Sufficiently coaxed her determination,
And she solemnly promised,
To practice every day.

Her eyes gleamed,
As she was presented with a tiny,
One sixteenth size,
Fiddle.

True to her word,
She practiced,
Day after day.

Then one cold dark evening,
With fiddle in hand,
She walked into the room,
While Daddy fiddled away in front of the fireplace.

She meekly announced,
With great disappointment,
Her fiddle was broken.

Astonished,
He carefully examined the fiddle,
And asked, “what’s wrong with it?”

With a long frown
She took a deep breath and said,
“It doesn’t sound like yours.”

© 2013 M. Tsai

A Father’s love, joy and sorrow

Naomi Cannon BeachThe doctor said my life will most likely
End in months not years,
Unless of course I get run over by a bus tomorrow.

The cancer invades my body,
Spreading as it pleases,
I take chemo twice daily to slow it’s progress.

Watching my daughter graduate from college,
Walking her down the aisle,
Teaching my grandchildren how to fish,
All seem to be an impossibility,

My daughter is so precious,
Sparkling like Sirius in the heavens.
I could not be more pleased
With how she has applied,
The passion and talent that burns within her,
In twenty years I have witnessed her amazing trajectory,

I have told her that I will always love her,
But not nearly as much as I do now.
I am as proud as any Dad can be.
Yet I struggle with finding more to say.

I am not a hugger.
But hugs feel especially good right now.
And all the love from my family and friends,
I drink up like a camel.

There is nothing left on my bucket list,
Except to live each day to the fullest,
Until I hope to have the strength,
To greet Death,
With grace and dignity.

© 2013 M. Tsai

Aphrodisiac?

1-IMG_1695Schucking oysters on this salty bed,
Popping open briny bivalves with my knife,
Their cold soft fleshy bodies sliding down my gullet.

My efficiency is astounding,
And the effect quite rounding,
Swallowing one after the other,
Until my belly is bursting.

My limit belongs in a zip lock bag,
But I store it in my greedy belly,
Why wait for the kitchen?

© 2013 M. Tsai

Tao of Fishing

IMG_2202Gone is my last drop of hope,
As I stand on this crack-of-dawn-boulder,
The sun shines high in the sky,
Above this raucus river.

Out of the blue you leap before my eyes,
Sleek chrome summer steelhead,
Jumping into the tail of this ancient pool,
Full of determined energy,
Right before my feet.

A childhood moment frozen in memory.

Every synapse of my brain lights up like a circuit board,
Adrenaline jolts me into frantic action,
In my haste I make a clumsy cast, and wrap my line,
The lure spins down like a tether ball,
At the tip of my pole.

Hands shaking, I deftly unwrap
The #2 Canadian Wonderlure and cannon ball split shot,
Casting my spoon a little higher into the pool.

You nail the silver spoon like a freight train,
My Mitchell 300 sings as the six pound test line
Whirs off my reel,
My rod dips wildly up and down,
I hang on with all my might.

Ferociously you rip across the emerald waters
To the opposite side of the river,
Under the dark green fir lined bank,
Cart wheeling wildly above the fast waters.

I work you back to my boulder,
Before you rip another memory into my soul.

The fishing Gods have given you to me,
My first summer steelhead,
And I will pursue you with respect and passion,
For a lifetime.

You beseeched me to chase you on ancient rivers,
Snoqualmie, Skykomish, Stillaquamish,
Satsop, Cowlitz, Puyallup,
And now the Green.

You promised me great adventure,
And you rewarded me well over the years.
You sacrificed your chrome rainbow body,
So I might find my own.

Standing on the smooth slick stones,
I find solitude,
Along this great river.

It is you who hooked me,
And pulled me into your eternal,
Ever changing waters.

Our sacred home.

© 2013 M. Tsai

Second Cut

1-IMG_1023
36 glistening staples punctuate my belly,
The incision retracing much of the scar.
From my prior liver resection.

Lucky am I to have another operation,
Pregnant with hope and opportunity,
More quality time.

My bowels are frozen,
My abdomen gradually tightening,
Like the skin on a timpani drum,
Over the last six days.

I have reached the tipping point,
No more food can be packed in.

She sits exhausted and anxious
In the cramped emergency room chair,
While I lay in the gurney,
IV drip into the left arm,
My index finger pointing my heartbeat,
Into the monitor.

Waiting for the doctor,
to review the x-rays
With my surgeon.

The levity of narcotics slowly wearing off,
I begin to feel,
The searing pain of my incision,
And the tightness of my belly.

2-IMG_1027I wait anxiously,
Until 4:30 am,
To get all of my medications,
My heart beating
Loud,
Steady,
Strong.

Carpe diem

© 2013 M. Tsai

Puppy Love

1-IMG_3441The cream of the crop
Traveled to the 1979 Congress of Strings
At the University of Washington,
Including the musical genius from Calgary.

We all had scholarships,
For an intensive musical experience
Performing every two weeks at Meany Hall.

All college students except for me,
Heading into my last year of high school.

The camp had an extra spot,
So they asked my violin teacher,
A professor emeritus,
If he could fill it.
He selected me.

For the first concert,
I was assigned to sit
Next to the girl from Oberlin,
Destined to be a concert master.

She was the section leader
Of the second violins,
We shared a stand,
Making rapturous notes together.

Tall and lean,
Her dark wavy hair framed her aquiline nose
And sultry brown eyes,
Her long dexterous fingers moved effortlessly
As she played with fierce intensity.

Drawing me in like a Gypsy Air,
Under her mysterious spell,
I gathered all of my shy
Awkward courage
To ask her out on a date.

As we walked across the warm summer campus,
She told me she had never dated a jock,
But I persisted.

In the evening
We went out to University Ave
I forgot my wallet,
So she paid.

My heart sinking
As we neared the elevator at Haggett Hall,
Reluctantly I said good night.

She stepped toward me and leaned in for my very first kiss,
All was going exceptionally well,
Until she thrust her long alien tongue,
Into my mouth.

Tumbling back on all fours,
Bewildered,
I watched her smiling
As the elevator doors
Closed.

© 2013 M. Tsai

Living the Dream

Wisps of steam rise above the Red Square bricks,
As they soak in the sun rays,
after a sudden downpour.

Thousands of footsteps merge and converge,
Creating random paths,
Overlapping and intertwining with each other,
At different times during the course of the day.

College students blur before me like the sifting gray clouds above,
I spot her golden hair and yellow rain coat across the square,
I make my way to cross her path at the steps.

Time stops as we each reveal our pleasure,
Her green eyes smiling deep into my soul.
Though she is pursued by a marching band of players,
I hop, skip and jump right into the fray
to gain her affections.

Emotions long forgotten like waves on a Mexican beach,
Resurface as I inspect old photos with happy poses,
And smiles that have lost their way,
A proud father and a young husband,
When did I grow so old?

Now in the midst of life, a dream momentarily shattered,
We struggle with a dark hour,
But the darkness reveals many miracles.
Time feels compressed, it has no dimension.

As my chrysalis of death begins to harden,
Her penetrating love blazes within my cocoon.
I am not alone as I transform,
Not yet ready to emerge into another world.

I will fly into death with the lightness and passion,
Of a an unseen butterfly,
I will flutter about and through her,
Filling the infinite dimensions with my love,
My energy will warm her.

Our dreams will intersect,
In another place,
Where we will awake together,
To discover ourselves again.

© 2013 M. Tsai