Monday, April 30, 2012

Westward Ho

Another Schuylkill River poem in keeping with a series dedicated to the river and the people entrusted to preserving its history and natural use for us and all future users.

    Westward  Ho !

Way, way back then, in the earliest days,
The dream of a river walk's out of the haze.
A full fashion boardroom caught onto the craze,
Surveyed the Schuylkill, watched its flooding ways.

Seventy-two, " Water, water everywhere
And not a drop to drink", pure and clear.
Blue Marsh is built to tame flood's rage
The Schuylkill is calmed, she's come of age.

Berks County men and their women too
Began planning to build their dream come true
But the river is longer then a Penn Street view
Up and down stream needed work from a crew.

The Silver Fox and her Nordic Man,
From western plains in hand a plan,
Strode arm in arm into Pretzel Town,
Saw the Schuylkill flowing easterly down.

No matter there's no Apostle Keith
Nor a Dixie Angel to ward off grief,
They set their compass, surveyed the land,
Wrote the guidelines, finished their plan.

Now, into the sunset with our wishes of love
West goes the Silver Fox and her Turtle Dove,
A debt of gratitude and much more we owe you,
We will honor your work, your foundations are true. 

    Ronald C. Downie

The Swenson's : Dixie, Executive Director ; Keith, Planning Director assumed leadership of The Schuylkill River Greenway Association ( SRGA) from Victor Yarnell and moved the office from Berks County to Montgomery County at Pottstown .When they left to return out west, Kurt Zwikl replaced Dixie as Executive Director.   

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Schuylkill Flow On

Continuing with my series of Schuylkill River poems which is my attempt to raise the value of our most important natural asset in the minds and hearts of our citizens present or future. We are not only a river town but also now a collage town leaning forward toward a better future

Schuylkill Flow On 

Rain droplets drumming echo the beat
That lilting , white snowflakes repeat :
" Drink as you may , waters flow on ."
Wherever ripples heard -" Earth's Song ."

" Drink as you may , waters flow on ."

High upland grow hemlock and oak ,
Maple and pine grey clouds they stroke .
Rhododendron , fern , laurel , moss 
Drink they may , Nature's use no loss .

Pools and puddles , crevice and nook ,
Trickle to rivulet , stream from brook ,
Etched valleys cut through hill and farm .
" Drink as you may , waters flow on ."

Barons despoiled rivers for smoke ,
Vast green forests turned into coke .
Black hard coal silt mud washed on down ,
Schuylkill's high, clogged, floods river town .

Miller , tanner , iron tender's strong arm
Flushed acid wastes so terrible their harm .
Now corrected they're returned to the flow ,
The Schuylkill's cleaner , still hidden she'll go .

White birchbark canoes were clean in the past ,
Early American native life sad never to last .
Strong mules pulled barges , now motors push boat ,
Long past remembered through sojourns and floats .

" Drink as you may , waters flow on ."
Hear her , see her , do her no harm ,
Dream , redeem , unhide her each day ,
Schuylkill's a jewel at work or at play .

Flow on ,flow on , Schuylkill flow on ,
Flow on , flow on , forever flow on .

      Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Our Schuylkill Mother

Another poem in my series about our Schuylkill River as it supplied the energy for our very existence of what we know as Pottstown, a college town.

Our Schuylkill Mother

Awake ! Wake up you Norfolk Southern Man
You slept too long on an old Pennsy plan
To keep public from our Schuylkill Mother's
North shore. A rusted railroad track covers
Her bosom, which nurtured first settlers here,
Who reached her banks by sweet waters clear.

Shout ! Shout out ! Release my river to me !
Our Schuylkill Mother's in jail. Set her free !

Long gone's that era of iron and coal -
Of black lunged miners who gave their soul
To fire hot furnaces that belched out bars
Which produced steel tracks and railroad cars.

No longer tire nor steel pulse Pottstown's veins.
The Twenty-First Century asks our brains
Fashion life new from the strengths of the past.

Schuylkill of birth, unlike us, you will last
So unborn heirs may enjoy your green banks,
Your freedom's required to merit their thanks.

Renaissance marries the mind to the heart.
Our responsibility - provide it - a fertile start.

       Ronald  C. Downie l

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stewards Of

Stewards Of

Heaved eons since worn down , Appalachian 
Mountain's run off turbulently tumbled ,
Carving through time our green river valley .
We , stewards of the Schuylkill , are humbled .

Past arching trees pristine , clear waters flowed
Drawing the Lenape , Swede , new settlers west .
Toward headwaters brave adventures rowed
Not timid weak , only the strong , the best .

Sordid history records what man built :
A canal for commerce , beds for railroads ,
Dams and bridges , mined coal with silt .
Into the river he dumped waste loads .

Seasons change pulsating Schuylkill's rise and fall .
Vital signs show acts of thoughtless man ,
Who then found enlightenment , best be his call :
With a dream , fine players , a well drawn plan .

         MacHarg set the acorn
         In Ferdinand's thought dream
         So Victor could nurture
         The seedling to a scheme
         Drawn east from Montana
         The Swensons create the team .

         A trail to hike or bike
         Through greenways sun or rain
         By a hidden river
         With scenic in its name
         Historic corridor 
         Heritage fame its claim .

The Schuylkill River Valley National Heritage Area - The Mission -

         Fidelity Is Our Aim . 

             Ronald C. Downie 

Ian MacHarg -an early naturalist who advocated for lineal walking trails be
developed along the banks of water ways
Ferdinand Thun - founder/ funder of The Schuylkill River Greenway Association .
A Berks County industrialist , Berkshire Hosiery , Mr. Thun 's interest in the 
MacHarg doctrine energized many Berks Countians to join him in a trails adventure.
Victor Yarnell-  former State Legislator and former Mayor Of Reading assumed the roll of The first Executive Director of the newly formed Schuylkill River Greenway Association .   
Keith and Dixie Swenson returned back east from Montana to assume leadership
Of the association : Dixie became Executive Director , Keith , lead planer . They 
Moved the organization from Berks County to Pottstown , Montgomery County ,
the geographic midpoint of the Schuylkill River, and expanded the roll of the 
SRGA to that of one encompassing the entire length of the river from headwaters 
To where it empties into the Delaware River at Philadelphia .
Kurt Zwikl- Kurt was chosen Executive Director when the Swensons left the 
Organization to return out west . 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Winds Of Change

The Winds Of Change

Normally out of the West
Prevailing winds will attest 
To the slow common pace
Of a day's life long face.

When air's altered, as in a storm,
Cold rejects it becoming warm
Beginning a gradient's instruction
To swirl which sweeps destruction.

Have you seen the wind in human form ?
Comes common from the West at morn,
A person pleasant, cool, but quite firm,
Thoughtful, intelligent, prone to learn.

Contrasted with the badgering bully
Swirling with intemperance so fully
Self centered, lacking any tolerance,
Storm within a storm's dire consequence.

The Earth is under environmental change
From vast oceans to our Western range.
As a blanket is to a young baby's warm bed
Atmosphere's like a hat on Earth's chilled head.

Seven generations, Native Americans thought long,
Honored the Earth with drumming as well as song.
Their's was not all about exponential excesses
Demanding everywhere to have universal accesses.

Left to their our own devises, both brute and timid,
They must dance to song and beat made ever lucid
By the wind and by the rain in wild gale like storms.
Man, not being master of the Universe, God forms.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Beyond The Senses

Beyond The Senses

Clambering for acceptance,
Mediocrity cast, bogged down,
Not understanding why I am
So serious while the World
Wallers in its superficiality.

Is my life a drama or a dirge ?
Can I accept universal song ?
May I see nirvana in the arts ?
Will I, the painter's eye, perceive ?
Is this me or is it a mirror of me ?

Ankles swelled, strong hands shriveled,
Eyes sight hindered clouded with tears,
More gum, not white what's left in tact,
Like Spanish Moss grey, less head hair,
Dropped chest rests like a flat tire,
Hobbling's more than a pain in the ass.

No longer pungent are tasteful smells. 
Where did my fine feeling fingers fly ?
Horizons, once sharp, bleed as if in mist.
Guttural rumblings mute my Earth's Song,
Flavors of a bountiful table have escaped.
Pre-eternity lives as an indomitable spirit.

Value an acceptance of yourself
Within the boundaries that society
Permits you of being a roll model. 
Be yourself, not that method actor
Slipping on and off center stage.
With issues grapple, set your goals.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, April 23, 2012

Facebook Overload

Facebook Overload

Worn out, I find myself worn out from too, too much Facebook. Some responders - I was guilty of what I'm claiming others are doing now - post incessantly taking up pages of posts which now turn me off just like political advertisers do this time of the year. The overload is quite apparent with only a cursory look at the page. Look for yourself, tell me what you see. 

I think Facebook is defined as "social media", if so, I've dropped clean off the modern social calendar. I've lost my mojo, don't have a camera, don't know how to repost effectively, yes ! the muse has gone away. I've dropped out so those with more important things to tell or show you aren't interfered with. Be careful, over exposure may affect you also. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Cry From Mid-Space

A Cry From Mid-Space 

God damned you, Dreams, 
whore no more to me, 
release me to covet grayness 
bleating from a sullen sky.

Don't show me violets pure
nor roses gay that cry
my inter soul awake.

No !  I must not think free !

Chain my mind, 
please stem that emotion swell
within this hide,
so I do not hope in vain.

In image of his maker 
man can train as oxen yoked 
to circle round the well.

I can not define mid-space 
where dreamers dwell,
so far sight a scene
then slowly squint it into
mental pictures,
like a frosted pane looked through.

Is it real ? Is it heaven ? 
Is it, well is it, hell ?

Hell must be theater
for a lost dreamer's soul.

Not in dance around soothing 
flames and crackling sounds
that flows the senses' veins ;
but of grey ash mounds 
staged of choking soot
awaiting to fill a dreamer's hole.

Accept the young, 
they have not traversed the gorge 
left by dreamers old 
whose torrent thoughts erode.

Fill the young with placid manna 
lest they explode with alien notions,
thinking they're their own Saint George. 

Dreams - damn you !  
Lay not your head 
on my breast this day.

Free me, so I may see 
what our Nation antes up.

Those dull, brow bent 
cast of actors who hold the cup,
that keeps America hostage 
and wastes a dreamer's play.

Ronald C . Downie    

Friday, April 20, 2012

Three Treasures

Three Treasures

Break the mold
Burn the prints
Uncork the bottle
Speed the Genie gone .

Not of, but in this World,
Eye sight sharpens
Finds Nature's way
Quietly seeking silence .

Even though Nature does nothing
Nothing is left undone .
Enough becomes enough
Everything in it's own time .

Yin and Yang, the Te,
Into a family of oneness,
The practice of eternal light
Seeing small, listening more .

Keep needs to a minimum,
Wants to all but nil, for
Within each, a Universe exists
Where no storm lasts forever .

Flow as a water course
Which seeks her own level
Softly cutting it's own way
Unequaled in strength .

Surface your sixth sense :
To see, to hear, to smell,
To feel, and to taste are
Just not enough to liberate .

Cherish "three treasures":
"Courage" gained through "mercy",
"Generosity" found in "frugality",
"Leadership" developed from "humility".

Build life one brick at a time .
With a single step each journey begins .
Originating from a single source,
Existence ultimately depends on Love .

Instead of calendar pages
A slash joining four strokes .
Non-being, being, back to non-being
As the bell begins it's final toll .

       Ronald C. Downie
   -After studying The Tao-  
Erica at arriving at 21 years

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Green Is Spring

Green Is Spring

Looking west from my front porch
Into my neighborhood, see
Spring's green in all its glory
When yellow hues mix with blue's.

Daffodils, forsythia,
The ascending morning sun, 
Tulips and crocus burst forth
With the yellow pigment sought.

Do blue hyacinths join with
Blue lilacs and heaven's sky
To supply those pigments sought?
Green dominates my eyes' sight.

Gone again the sterile bleak
Of late winter's browns and grays
Which blankets below cold snow
And buds ready to burst forth.

Awash in green leaves tall trees
Grow straight up out of green grass.
The dominant color is green
Announcing Spring's arrival. 

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Gruber Legacy

The Gruber Legacy

When Edgewood wakes from winter's sleep
Her green grass growth measures ankle deep .
It is Spring, April is the queen of color's ball,
With lovely growing displays enjoyed by all .

Quick suck of air heaves out the chest
Accepting "uums" escapes with breath,
Atonement for bleak winter's cold wild
As pigment hues tweak our optic smile .

At bloom, flowering trees embrace each other
In a cotillion dance of bright confetti color .
Eye pleasures waltz across fields and glen
From nature's pallet are gifts to women and men .

Grand Marshal, Dogwood, draws all the raves,
Other dancers arrive while the symphony plays
Cords of color singing soft music to the heart .
Bless him, Edward, who planted trees for his art .

   Ronald C. Downie

Edgewood was the name given to the Gruber Family Estate now a well recognized golf course, Bellewood . 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Win Win For Pottstown

This piece has been posted two times earlier in an attempt to get Pottstown to react and become aggressive in promoting the use of solar energy. Sadly Pottstown lacks an urgency to move into the 21st Century. Her leaders find too mush of an ease in saying," We can't".

A Win-Win For Pottstown

If you had an investment of mega-millions in a property would you be satisfied in it just sitting there hardly generating any income beyond the cost to keep it mowed. If the property were on the tax rolls it would carry a negative balance sheet, taxes being more than income generated.

This property I describe is our own Pottstown Airport. With something like 70 Acres of open land much of it surrounded by industrial properties, the under performance of this commercial land is a drag on Pottstown's lagging economy. 

One way of addressing this situation would be by selling the property but, federal grants which would need to be repaid, scuttle this tact. About two years, or so ago, I wrote a letter to council and to the administration suggesting a method to create at the airport an income generating operation.

Create a solar farm on the roofs of the buildings and on the open space grass areas in a magnitude maximizing all available space. The very nature of an airport requiring that there be no vertical obstructions is perfect for a solar energy generation. I would suggest a minimum of 20 acres could be used for such a venture. In fact, Pottstown could become the templet for these types of operations across the state, if not, the nation.

Well, nothing's happened. With this Year's shortfall of $600,000.00 looming and property values into the future figured to be falling even further, I doubt we can assess fees up each year to balance the budget. What we need is an income generator, a solar farm. 

The future requires futuristic thinking, out of the box thinking. I would hope some would give this thought some consideration. A solar farm could easily coexist with the airport in full operation. Income generation would go on forever and when investments were paid off income would rise accordingly. A win-win in my eyes.

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring's Upon Us

Spring's Upon Us

Emerging, elongating,
Unfolding, budding, 
Coloring, flowering,
Wilting, dropping.

Then leafing out, 
Topical limb formation,
More lateral limbing,
Adding girth and mass,
Exponential growth.

Life is divided into two segments :
The first half, actively growing.
The second, retaining formed growth.
First half life continues to add mass ;
Second half just sustains and maintains 
Birth delivers a form requiring growth,
Death gives this life form its finality,
Whether be it plant or be it animal. 
All life forms conscript to this process.
Their half life's vary to their own formula.

Some humans have their lives extended.
You see their monuments erected in parks,
Read names in books, hear tales about them.

But, even though Spring annually arrives, 
And birth evolves allowing life to unfold,
Fall triggers the coming of a second half.
Leaf coloring, browning, curling, falling.
Winter ushers in a sense of life's ending.

Subject to the Natural Laws of the Universe
Man holds no higher a place in life's existence
Than all other life forces on this our planet.
Man's lust to alter these laws draws him 
Into the wilds of Faith, a dependence on 
The unknown, sinking into the bubbling crucible 
Holding the power of an unsuspecting bondage.

Belief in faith needs faith in belief sort of a
Revolving theme needing constant reinforcement.
Ministers seize the airwaves in hot pursuit :
Sizing you up, shaking you down, spouting off.
Their words, could become your's, if you let them.

Spring's upon us, wear it well !

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Only Knowledge

Only Knowledge

When, looking into the mirror of hope
I find far too many so deep in despair 
Who willingly slough off a need to cope,
Leaving them vulnerable, requiring care :

Will it be an epiphany that grabs the scene ?
Without something like that, what's then ?
Do spots disappear, stripes fade, does fat lien ?
From nagging disappointments, hope comes when ?

Realizing a personal attitude becomes the key
To unlocking the potential energy pent up now
Awaiting release. Learning wisdom's wise old plea,
"Only knowledge sets Man free", showing him how.

History records, rewrites episodes sad or proud,
While shunning facts, destiny floats on as a cloud.

Ronald C. Downie
An English Sonnet

Monday, April 9, 2012

Humanity's Grand Mosaic

Humanity's Grand Mosaic

Within the stitches 
holding together your
patch work quilt,
you live your life
just peeking out 
from under its cover.

Your birth, infancy,
childhood, teen years,
adulthood, marriage,
family, midlife, old age,
infirmity, and death are
recorded with their own patch.

Each one's story, a quilt some 
could easily hang on their wall.
Others would wrap themselves
snugly within its warm comfort.
While some would fold up 
their quilt and place it in an old
trunk, with moth balls for keep sake.

Those, though of a shattered life, who
understand their quilt's unthinkable
nature, seek not to remember,
but, just in case, keep theirs hidden
in a safe place, there to be a reminder.

Walk down any street, anywhere,
look at the people, look closely,
are they that much different from 
each other in looks and physique ?
Now, conjure up in your minds eye
what their individual quilt would look like.

All the writers in the World,
all the singers and songsters too,
the poets, historians, and the story tellers,
have yet to unfold the totality of patch work
quilts which makes up this, 
each is our contribution to 
humanity's grand mosaic.

Ronald C. Downie


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Women's Voices Needed

Women's Voices Needed

"She can't change water into wine; instead
She fashions sweet milk out of her own blood."
A.E. Stallings, "First Miracle"

In this the last couplet of her ten line poem, Ms. Stallings sings out words which vibrate in my mind as an anthem loud and clear that could be adopted by today's women's movement. Sweet milk out of blood is unique only to the female gender as is the birthing of both female and male offspring. Where and when did the idea of male supremacy creep into the story of humankind ? Was body mass trumping maternity ?

Passed down orally for untold millennia the Story Of Genesis was finally written down by scribes for future generations to read and further disseminate. From a female's perspective, through Eve, women got off to a bleak start. Conceived of one of Adam's
ribs, Eve consorted with the Devil, imaged as a serpent, to get Adam to eat of the fruit from the Tree Of Good And Evil. Purportedly God had mandated the eating of this fruit would result in a dire penalty, the banishment from this glorious Garden Of Eden. 

Poor Eve, as men conceived human history, was just a portion of a man, Adam's rib, and was from inception already flawed, she being easily influenced by God's nemesis, The Devil. Let history continue its detailing of the trials and tribulations which females have endured throughout the ages. Look at church doctrine that subjugated women into a minority roll even continuing on until today. Examine their roll in governing, their toil in daily securing such a thing so basic as water, think of all the women in this World who must cover up due to male made laws. Who labeled women as harlots, as witches, as chattel to be traded freely in a Man's World ?

I don't read many articles locally written about how a women's roll in today's society functions. Are local women satisfied with their pay scale, with the tone of political rhetoric, and with the story of female inferiority ? Do local women empathize with national unrest stirring under the surface of male/female relationships ? I don't know the answers because I don't read any writings on this subject.

A.K. Stallings begins her poem, First Miracle, with this couplet :
"Her body like a pomegranate torn
Wide open, somehow bears what must be born,"

Look the poem up, it's worth the trouble.

Ronald C. Downie


Friday, April 6, 2012

A Battle Won/Lost

A Battle Won/Lost

A recent reading shook up my dour disposition I've been experiencing lately. I've learned DNA testing shows Homo Sapiens of today are directly related to the ancient Neanderthals which we Homo Sapiens completely  exterminated eons ago. If we were able to wipe Neanderthals off the face of the earth, we must have been so superior compared to them. That led me to thinking Neanderthals were just an ignorant bunch of inferior, two legged beings. 

But, archeologists studying the Neanderthals tell us a different story. These scientists show us that in reality, proven through a study of recently discovered artifacts, the Neanderthal was a master at making useful tools. Their downfall is attributed to them making the same useful tool over and over again, never improving or improvising, never retrofitting or making the "next generation" model. 

Watching our country today, seemingly stuck on fossil fuels, unwilling to ween ourselves off energy infused carbons polluting when fired the World's atmosphere; we are acting more like Neanderthals than who we really are, Homo Sapiens. For Sapiens posterity's sake, already knowing the value of "next generation" energy sources - sun, wind, geothermal - you would think we could overcome the personal greed exhibited by the super rich in keeping a status  quo. Extracting carbon from the Earth is essentially like uncovering a gold mine and the worth of carbon skyrockets each day as the price goes up. Of course, the value of our Planet's atmosphere declines in equal proportion. 

Will Homo Sapiens learn the lessons Neanderthals failed to absorb ? Will we succeed as we always have done because we can improvise and refine, because we can picture a better future and understand how to get there ? We out witted the Neanderthals but, can we outwit our own who live in the immediate grubbing for every advantage their huge wealth can purchase ? Are we to be peopled by those who see a value in a livable planet which is environmentally sound benefitting all life forms ? Or, will the few who weld the power of the purse be able to pull a veil over the eyes of an unsuspecting electorate and continue to rape the Earth for their immediate gain, will they rule this Earth humans have assumed stewardship over ? The answer lies within you .

Ronald C. Downie


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Haiku 80

Haiku 80 - Simply prodding you into action .

Hooray ! Yes ! Hooray !
State House Bill - Property Tax -
Get involved ! Shout Out !

Change needs momentum,
Which comes from voters like you -
Stop the naysayers .

Educate yourself,
Opportunity knocks once -
"Seize The Day " your way.

Write, call, Email, march,
Tell your congressman your wants -
They work for you/me .

Big money kills dead
Ideas which aid common folks -
Time for a real change.

Will you act/react ?
Our future is in your grasp.
Thank You ! for acting .

Ronald C. Downie