Thursday, March 31, 2011

When Are Going To Get There

When Are We Going To Get There ?

Friends circle around the camp fire :

Lengths of downed trees flame within
The blackened iron fire ring where
Aged wood burns, wafting smoke 
To chimney up through the high
Canopy of tall pines .

Burning wood's cave ageless aroma
Escapes flames of carbon as hues 
Of white and blue, also shades
Of orange and red, that join crackling ,
Popping gases released finally from
Spent embers to seek again the 
Chemistry of union .

Before molecules, pre- atom, both ash and gas 
Were big banged into primordial birth
As quarks - positive and negative - then
Chaining over and over, again and again ,
Linking for how many times, maybe into ,
Even my own DNA .

A child sees a journey as a destination, as an ending,
" When are we going to get there ? "

But force and matter, not knowing beginning 
Or able to see an end, journey to connect 
Into granite, or possibly, into you and either by
Magma or by fire, they are released as
Ooze or as ash to again travel .

Stalking silently within me, multiplying 
And dividing, oblivious to the demands
For long life and old age, stealth cells , 
The aggressive minority demanding their
Pound of flesh cheat in line, as they become
The new order .

Downed trees or me makes no difference
To fire's finality of form .

I am, as is a child, as is ash to " there",
Release is to my continued journey .

Giving up their colors embers cool and
Die away, on the breeze ash drifts ,
There into darkness, depart friends .

   Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Power Of The Purse Haiku 10

Power Of The Purse 
Haiku 10

Power of the purse,
Buys thirty-two page insert -
Money talks, bull shit... !

Shanty Hill's ghost lives,
Pottstown's Tom Hylton tests us -
Structures or children ?

A fedora walks,
Shuns talks, centered in himself -
Dictator logic.

Property taxes
Costs more than a pound of flesh -
They impoverish.

Education woes,
Walkable town - poor test scores -
Edifice envy.

Ronald C. Downie

The crush of property taxes, especially for those on fixed incomes, is breaking the backs of Pottstown's senior population. Taxed out of our homes to pay for sub-par schools administered by highly paid people who live somewhere outside the district is an affront to logic. When are citizens going to wakeup and demand change ? At the least go to county wide districts, at least that way, one man with access to deep pockets can not effect the final board decisions so easily.
The basic principle of insurance : increase the population of the base so each is charged less but the total pot builds to fund occurrences. County districts would act in the same fashion. In Pennsylvania there is little reason beyond cost of living adjustments that some students receive three times the amount spent on another student usually found in a poor urban setting.
Plutocracy is the word i'm thinking about. Look it up.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Old World Wisdom

Old World Wisdom

  Gran' Pa Downie in his distinctive Scottish brogue, rolling his RR's, dropping words of Old World wisdom advised me sixty-five years ago "to look at music and listen to art". In other words, don't be content with the apparent, but rather, see into the depth to which organized sound takes us and, as importantly, hear our inner voice when we view any work of art.
  More real today is the need to go beyond the obvious and find truth where it may lie hidden just out of easy reach. Captured as we are by being spoon fed by a twenty-four hour news cycle, we choose not to critically think for ourselves, but rather have some talking heads shout out catch phrases which easily excite the emotion pent up within us, an unthinking public. Easily fed as " garbage in, garbage out" just as easily led which becomes our peril.
Ronald C. Downie

Monday, March 28, 2011

Haiku 9

Haiku 9

Radiation looms,
Planet life in jeopardy-
Stock prices were good.

Fire or by ice,
One consumes, other entombs -
"Rock-a-by baby...".

Even Popeye sobs,
Spinach now not fit to eat -
Radiation kills.

Pestilence now plague,
Super bug foils Doctors -
No stopping Nature.

Violets, pansies,
Daffodils, tulips, crocus -
Color enlivens.

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Highways In Life

Highways In Life

Ever wonder why highways must cross
One another, intersecting as they will,
Generally in quite opposite directions,
Seeking a quick escape from the other.

Not everyone goes in the same direction,
Though homogeneous, we're individuals
Bent on pursuing a destination sought.
Is your's that differently from mine ?

We are seekers of far off horizons 
Cast by our clear eyes while traveling 
The highways crossing one another
In directions either familiar or foreign.

Some seek a clearly defined destination,
Others are satisfied by the trip's lure.
Getting somewhere has its own merits, 
But travel for travel's sake often's desired.

Being of the latter persuasion, I trust
The road to be my teacher of choice
Leading me toward new horizons melding far
Off hills with lush verdant valley meadows.

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, March 25, 2011

Air Conditioning 101

  Air Conditioning 101

Increasingly , if I am any indicator,
Us " Oldsters " look backward anymore 
Rather than forward ,to find out that 
The past mollifies stress and pain
Through the passage of time and
Puts a pleasurable gilding on memories :
Real or imagined ,artful or drab,
Even long forgotten wry old wishes .
Up on the three storied roof of Barker's barn ,
Formerly known to us as the Wade Farm ,
I cut my teeth high up to a twelve year old's fright .
No prior experience , did Mom and Dad know ?
A bucket of barn red paint , a four inch wide brush ,
A simple cloths line safety tie off rope , and
The the rickety , rung missing , extension ladder .

You've seen raised seam barn roofs many times ,
But have you felt the sun's unrelenting 
Reflection of vapored , scorching , oppressive
Heat that burns through leather gloves?
Tin roofs have a cruel way of accepting paint .
How much paint was on me , on the roof ?

The Barkers were Mennonites , in dress at least .
They gave me my first lesson in air conditioning .
I came to work there while staying with my 
Father's parents ,Wee Annie and Gran'Pa Downie ,
As they were fondly known by Houck Road neighbors .
As usual , mine was a working vacation , no complaints .
Seems I didn't wear a hat since I didn't know I'd be on a roof .
My employer ,Barker, gave me an old used straw hat
To keep the harsh sun rays directly off my head .
After lunch when we all realized how hot it really was
Mr.Barker took me to the garden patch . There he 
Pulled off a large , thick outer leaf of a cabbage plant
And handed it to me . " Here, stuff this leaf inside your 
Hat and let me know if this doesn't help with the heat ."

Air Conditioning 101 was a huge success . Try it .
     Ronald C . Downie 

Looking back allows us to look forward with hope for an improved World.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Should We Believe ?

Should We Believe ?

Spent fuel rods suspect,
Containment an after thought-
Map - fifty miles.

Safely in water 
Pools ? Spent rods still active -
Wool pulled over eyes.

We didn't realize,
Never before such damage -
First is no excuse.

What is your half life ?
Ten Centuries ? Hell no, man !
Cancer ! Cancer ! Can ... !

The official line :
Cheapest, safest energy -
Why worry ? CANCER ! !

Ronald C. Downie
Haiku 8

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Not Your Normal Sewing Circle

  Not Your Normal Sewing Circle

Women trudge to work before the dawn
Awakens slips of peeking eastern light .
They'll work to dark for which they're born
Only on Sundays will they daylight sight .

Clutching a meager lunch while dreaming sweets,
Shoulders hunched forward, black shawl draped,
Their children left home must fend for themselves .
Through cold and snow walk iced sidewalks caked .

Windowed high walls stand five stories tall ,
This building's the tallest to tower the town .
It draws them as ants to sweet nectar dew,
They'll squint at dawn by dark they'll frown .

Zig zagging up a stairwell all must climb to
Their sewing machines waiting them in the gloom ,
Settling in, as a tiring long day looms ahead,
Their bodily functions they need hold to noon .

Their rate a must six days each week .
Is there a song their hearts would sing 
Above the din of machine needle strike ?
It's family needs their wages must bring .

Bosses want window's low cost light .
Dust and lint encrusted, dirty they'll be
Worry not that sewers loose their sight,
Cause seekers, a job is really all they see .

A forgotten era, a time so long ago,
These windowed old buildings quiet, silent,
Echoes muted, walls still stand starkly tall,
To the wrecking ball, they remain resilient .

Is there a new tune that we hear being sung
By people who want to live in an apartment
That could be built behind these old high walls ?
Hope ! Please choose a date for your settlement .

  Ronald C . Downie

The shirt factory at South Charlotte and Cherry 
was at last part of the Smith Pie Complex .  

Was it sheer luck that our own sewing factory didn't go up in flames a 100 years ago ?  

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Comfortable Host

   A Comfortable Host 

Horizons meld hills for eyes to climb ,
Far distance blurs their sharp images ,
Also , does the real passage of time .
Nineteen twenty one (1921) , vestiges

Long gone : trolleys and their rust weary rails ,
Rutted cobblestones , worn down brick ,
Etchings of wagon wheels mark their trails .
Four score years grows memories thick .

The Century Club chose Potts's High Street
Casselberry House for it's beginning .
Forty years there , double it ,repeat
Forty years while still remembering :

The smell of linseed from shoe hardened old wood
That squeaked and groaned with each foot step .
Dappled sun light peeking in where tall windows stood .
"Shhh ! Be quiet, please !" Rules strictly kept .

When words emerge from their book covers :
Distance alters and time accepts change ,
Dreams seek children , their fathers and mothers ,
Stories flow rivers , climb mountains , ride range .

Facts flow from open pages into the mind
And swells clear, deep streams of knowledge .
Wonder grows wisdom we all may find ,
Cause reading hones that sharpened edge .

Libraries draw horizons close ,
Time finds them a comfortable host .

   Ronald C . Downie 

Written for the occasion and read to the assembled commemorating  the eightieth anniversary of the founding of The Pottstown Public Library .(2001) 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Gift Given Us

A Gift Given Us

Between cream of split pea soup
And savory brown mushroom gravy
Hair, as dull as damp hay, droop,
Straightens broom like, turns wavy.

Cocktails do take effect after all
When they begin to vision what's seen.
The average in height, turns quite tall,
Those rather rotund, rollie-pollie, lean.

"To see ourselves as others see us,
A gift", Burns wrote, "He gives us."

Who gives insight so darn powerful
That it forgoes our arrogance of ego ?
However rocky, each life is meaningful
Routed by events played out long ago.

Implied within the rubble of real hope
Is a mythical, dreaming novel of one's life
Impassioned by a full broadening in scope
Complementing the real no matter its strife.

Ronald C. Downie

Are you able to see yourself as others see you ? Dreams are wonderful but reality is necessary.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Haiku - Doomsday, 12,21,2012???


Melt down in Japan :
Earthquake, tsunami, doomsday -
The Gods are angry.

"Goodby my Fancy"
Twelve / twenty one / two O twelve -
Weep not while leaving.

Keep gas tanks filled,
Radio batteries charged -
To go to there, where ?

Wind, natural gas,
Solar, bio-fuels are clean -
Nuclear deadly.

The Earth will survive
The wrath of stupid, dumb man -
Gardens will regrow.

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

To See Vast Waters, Grasses

To See Vast Waters, Grasses

To see vast oceans pillow a red balled western
Sun at close of dying day, hearts our thoughts.
Ship anchorages dot our jagged shores while seas
Are pleasured by watered life old as age itself.

Great green seas, endless to the human eye, watch 
Waves of high tasseled grasses strong wind blown
Gathering in antiquity's rhythms of Earth's songs.
Feared of fire, though necessary, life force cycles.

We close each day a little wiser, dumber ?
How do we unravel the crimes of ignorance ?
Is death final or only a prelude of really living ?
Do questions come too easy, answers not easy ?

Never standing still time steps to a silent drummer,
Wearing down muscle and sinew, thought and will,
As a grind stone mashes kernels into eatable flour
To sustain life which lasts until it ultimately ceases.

Ronald C. Downie

Look around you so you feel what you see whether by your eyes or through your mind's eye. Awareness is an attribute all should nurture so it embraces living as a mother's hug would.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Song Tune

Song Tune

         The song
     The song of life
The song of life is played in the key of time :

Seconds tick minutes into hours for days to find,
As weeks couple bearing months that years combine
Into passing decades etched forever on the mind.
Friends, in chorus, help harmonize the melody Devine,

            But the tune,
        The tune is ours,
    The tune is ours alone,
But the tune is ours, ours, all alone to find.

Ronald C. Downie

My signature poem putting life as I know it into simple thoughts through a minimum of words.
We are all part of this great thing called life, all forms of life, which I refer to as The Song Of Life. We regulate life by man made constructs as well as planetary regulators like day and night and seasons. But in the end, it is our personal, our Tune, which guides us independently of others to fill out our lives in the manner we each decide.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Universe Within

There is a whole universe within each person inhabiting our Earth. Not only are in a universe,but also,we are a universe that moves independently among all the multitude of universes around us each depending upon interrelationships necessary to survive. Our job is to speak truths to untruths, to seek beauty, to promote learning, and to honor excellence.

      A Universe Within

Entombed within our mental mass universes
Await life . Sadly their stillbirth curses
Man to forego quantum leaps. Each generation
Slowly acquires knowledge in rapt anticipation.

Are we moulded in his image by a personal 
God ? Centuries strewn of carnage from temporal 
Piety fouled holy battlefields , all claimed Devine
Right, in demonstration of the horrid worst in mankind .

Awash in perpetual prayer pious true believers,
Self proclaimed , shroud wrapped , these soul receivers
Expect almighty benediction . Man's evolved creation
To ultimate extinction our lot . Demand salvation

During our lifetime by launching heart based
Missiles into the brain unhindered , not interfaced
With two thousand years awaiting Heaven or Hell .
Within you is a Universe - treat it well .

        Ronald C. Downie  

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Not So Funny This Limerick

  Not So Funny This Limerick

"May West" twin towers
Duce my eastern sky
And harangue dawn sun's
Awakening smile.

Concrete slip formed heavenward
Now plume gaseous 
Vapors steamed hot to
Cool the bowels of
Domed chain reaction.

So long familiar
Just formed white -grey clouds
Join with crossing winds
Whose path's direction
Unknown until trailed.

East the other day
I looked in dismay,
No vapors to veil 
The violet sky. Why?

"Three Mile Island" chill 
Raised my neck hairs to stand.
What monsters eons 
Past collage synapse 
To recoil this theme?

Gone is familiar so
Instinct rules the day.

"Shut down" they called it,
"Inadvertent though",
The official line.

  Ronald C. Downie
Our own Limerick generating plant is how many years old ? What is the cost benefit ? There has to be a better way to generate electricity through wind, solar, bio-fuel, anything that doesn't emit radiation when problems arise.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dedication Of New Wing


Spoken aloud, our own words trill oblique
To these slanted walls a generation old;
For every sound its vibration is etched
In thoughts recorded then, but now told.

At laughter or song with humor or hope
Through drama or through rhyme, the mood
Is captured today, as everyday plumbs deep
The depths of our personal pastoral groove.

In our air the lilly wafts its fragrance pure
As does the lilac, hyacinth, and the lovely rose.
Ever pungent potluck aromas linger long here
To growl alive stomachs awakened by the nose.

Freshly painted, new, straight up walls welcome
The colorful tapestries of our brightening youth
Who at eye level pin squarely their new art
On fresh walls in a child's early display of truth.

We gather here today to dedicate this which
We formulated and built. We are fully free to
Dream an adventure with wisdom through knowledge 
On this green ten acre sea sailed by you -

And to be crewed by those we have yet to see.

Ronald C. Downie

Written and read 3/1/1998 on the occasion for dedication of the new wing to our Fellowship.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


A poem about groundbreaking for a new wing at our UU Fellowship. Tomorrow I'll follow up with a poem about the finished wing's dedication. Poems try to capture more than just information, beyond the obvious to reflect the spirit of the occasion. See how I did.

Similar, so very similar to life itself :
Conception, incubation, birth, growth.

Conceived an image while imagination
Draws desire onto paper as designed.
Set to scale and it is fully measured,
Analyzed, appraised, approved, signed.
Now lines traced upon this solemn soil
By official seal legally it is enshrined.

Structure out of Earth's own womb :
From footers rise strong foundations
To rest walls and roof for each room;
Every design angle, every drawn square;
Each are leveled, each carefully plumbed;
All lovingly embraced with special care.

To you young and bright imagining minds
Who'll grace these newly built walls within,
Your charge : learn, grow up, then move out,
Eliminate man made shackles, like original sin.

Today-on this day-we dedicate in formal mode
The machinery moved and modeled farm ground;
We will leave a strong structure soon to come
So yet unborn- may "It"-upon arriving be found.

Ronald C. Downie

Groundbreaking 4/13/97 for new classroom wing

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Damned Are We

At A Pivotal Time for Sherri, Random Thoughts.
Up from all fours, erect, mobile,
Scared by cold ice and scorching heat,
Thunder and lightning, rain and snow,
Struggling for power, attacking for 
Dominance, man verses beast and man.
Gathered tribal, rapes and plunders,
To feed their wants, demand their needs.
Profits from World riches plundered
For personal gain by a scoundrel few
Who elevate themselves disguised 
As corporations claimed immune from
Universal Law meant to protects life.
Unquenched greed drives obscene profits
Wrung from degradation of Earth's environment
Despoiling life giving, life sustaining elements :
Waters become polluted, friable soils spent,
Our air choked with unspeakable contaminants,
Great forests withdraw under constant assault,
Ice caps melt away, vast seas and oceans rise,
Shore lines sound retreat, islands washed over are lost.
Man verses diseases as cancers populate vast clusters
Fanned by chemical pollution obscuring Universal Law.
Brash ignorance prevails but harsh power assails
To pervade the Holiness of our good common sense.
The overabundant Earth is a living, breathing sphere.
It is our bodies that are grim, beaker less test tubes,
Over analyzed, shocked at the findings, disease rampant.
For hope The College Of Doctors seek garish chemicals,
Their practice is to probe and probe with answers few.
More chemicals, for profit not cure, masking men's deeds.
The Human Dilemma: Not if, but when? Not how, but why?
We cry, eyes red and teared, for answers, hear,"I don't know."
From nonbeing, into being, finally back to nonbeing.
Since our genes have passed through living as stardust
Many times before, they will recycle again and again
Before the Earth crisps into dust and rejoins as elements.
Matter is never lost just changed in its composition.
Energy as a force just shifts from one to another form.
We live within our consciousness, in Universe Time, a moment.
The shock of inhumanity where wild greed prostitutes Man's ego
Exposing a weakness in him that acting for self chose flight or fight.
Wealth worshiped as God though money only is the Devil's elixir,
Power is the true Deity, power to lord over a crumbling planet,
Power to pollute water ways, power to deforest, expand deserts, 
Power to despoil land, sea, and air; to deny the public true health.
What is the true cost of health, of life?
Through introspection we will act
With sound reason, with intelligence 
To arrive at answers we find acceptable,
With emotion we act in knee-jerk ways.
Always challenge wants and needs,
The Big Picture is always necessary.
Strong of will are challenged to lead,
Leading requires a great strength of
Character found only in a very few,
You, Sherri, are one of those few.

 Ronald C. Downie, (Dad)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Florida Memories

Haiku 6 - Florida Memories

A chilly cheese dog,
Arizona ice tea, Gulf 
Inlet point- you, me.

Weather, warm and mild,
South-west Florida welcomes-
Open arms, smiles.

Breath easy you guys,
Phillies in Clearwater now -
Strikes along with hits.

Oldsters abound here,
Weather wonderful, warm sun -
"Early Bird" specials.

Defensive driving :
Turn signals, mirrors, headlights -
Eyes, back of the head.


Reposting the poem "Passions" in a revised format to make it read more easily.


Long in years-            
when passions pout

Old's seen change-   
heard hymn and shout     

Wondering still-             
what life's about

Fire in the belly-         
long turned to gout

Thin's in-                 
so we shun the stout

The long haired poet-           
termed a lout

His poetic wish-                 
to shout it out

Wisdom through thought-     
to live without

We are the lesser-          
left yet in doubt

Deep in years-       
time when passions pout.

Ronald C.Downie.   

Friday, March 4, 2011



Long in years            when passions pout
Old's seen change   heard hymn and shout     
Wondering still             what life's about
Fire in the belly         long turned to gout
Thin's in                 so we shun the stout
The long haired poet           termed a lout
His poetic wish                 to shout it out
Wisdom through thought     to live without
We are the lesser          left yet in doubt
Deep in years       time when passions pout

Ronald C.Downie.   

Thursday, March 3, 2011

November 10th

Another birthday poem to demonstrate how homespun verse can be particular to a family member and understanding that enables a person to compose meaningful poems. Give it a try.

    November 10th

Revel in the crisp sharpness of an early November day :
Bright sunshine, a wisp lite breeze, robin egg blue sky,
Northern trees weep leaves rainbowed in such a way,
That displays pigments pent up green, waiting to fly .

Hearts beat more rapidly on picture days as these
To salvage life's roller coaster ride . Up and down,
This or that, should be-could be, we seek to please
Our own selves, so a smile enfolds instead of a frown .

A broad smile, it is that smile of your's I'm talking about
That is so infectious, others who are smitten, must grin .
If you always know where you're heading, en route,
You'll never learn about anything that is new, so begin . 
Always remember, it is the journey in life that's important .
Each day is just a page in a never-ending, thickening book :
Chaptered by education, location of residence, employment,
And those memorable times, forcing always a backward look .

Happy Birthday ! Lia !
         With All Our Love !  Mom and Dad

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spin Filament

Birthdays have always been a source of inspiration to get myself to compose a poem. Since most poems are universal in nature their message hopefully transcends specific dates." Spin Filament" is such a poem which speaks to all of life's beginnings. Try writing birthday poems yourself that become more meaningful to you than a, let's say, a Hallmark Card. You'll be surprised with your success and self appreciation.

Spin Filament 

Shimmering deep rivers wild 
Of their birth settle calmly now
Fertile valleys as would a child
Murmuring softly to the plow.

Waters are banked as is blood veined,
Each eternal fluid a life giving force.
Blood pulses sustenance to fibers trained
Eons in symphony to their energy source.

Divined up from a water birth, Man created,
Beginning the long strand in the web of life,
Unbroken since first man and woman mated.
Many heirs pound the drum-few play the fife.

Choose the instrument you wish to play,
Locked not always in your young years.
My strand I'll string to my very last day,
Spin yours, Dear Son, eliminate your fears.

Ronald C. Downie

To my son, Ronald Andrew Downie, upon his birthday.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Gay's Perspective

The Gay Community has been through a lot of grief over the years from, I believe, citizens who are generally misinformed by anti-gay zealots. "A Gay's Perspective" is my recording of a talk, Lary, a representative of his gay lifestyle gave to a groupe of church members.
       A Gay's Perspective 

Black , the cloths of this grey morning 
Stood covering Larry, the messenger,
Whose task: inform every passenger
Of Mother Earth an omen . A warning ?

" I don't ask you to like me."

Forces empirical pressed his breast
To exhale a plea embodied in each 
Homager under heal, in simple speech,
"Just allow us to live as free as the least."

" I do not ask you to accept me."

A job , a home , freedom to social life ;
Most of all, in a measured , bleating
Monotone," Please allow our meeting
The reaper in loving dignity- not legal strife."

"I only ask that you tolerate me ."

Not outstretched arms of warm embrace,
Nor cold palms on stiff arms so very cool;
Just white knuckles ,teeth clenched ,taunt jaw , stone face.
AHIMSA  in want of a better word or tool .

Is there to be found in the reborn beat ,
" Don't stop thinking about tomorrow,"
Unity when all hands come together ? Repeat,
" Yesterday's gone," with it - much sorrow .

            Ronald C. Downie

AHIMSA is a Sanskrit word meaning to do no harm and that all forms of life are sacred .