Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sonnet : "It Is What It Is"

Sonnet : "It Is What It Is"

When, the real cast of actors leaves us down
Acting out their personal part in life's schemes;
Will we seek what we wish to see come around
Finding the play's truthful to all Man's dreams :

Then, as a slap across the face would bring a welt
We pause, feeling hurt, we reach out for answers.
"It is what it is". The plays are similar, actors melt
Into history, but in life only seven scenes, my sirs :

And then, accepting that which only we can control,
We look, listen, interpret, we respond with an action.
Finding our bearings, speaking out, always on patrol
Each day surveying "The Field Of Dreams" for traction.

Accepting early enough in a lifespan your limitations
Makes time pass more easily bypassing complications.

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Modern Sonnet

The Modern Sonnet

These days the sonnet has taken on a modern perspective; unlike in the days of Shakespeare when sonnets spoke mostly of love in all its particulars, sonnets written these days are capturing every aspect of life and thought.

They're written with a rhyming fourteen line scheme and swagger to foot and meter. But, the true beauty of the modern sonnet lies in the shortness of its length, about a minute in time to read a standard one.

These days poets are promoting their books by this notion of shortness, calling them, an hour of verse. Sixty poems at a minute each creates an hour of reading if done with no interruptions, that's the hook. Who would read a poem just by mouthing written words ? Sonnets are as addictive as most other types of written verse; they too draw the reader in to read again, to capture a reader's mental state, to pause and reflect a proposition the author presents.

Authors are not fools neither are publishers. They know purchasers of poetry books are looking for writings that have a chance to jog their minds and titillate their emotions. The sonnet tries to do this in only sixty seconds, at least this, in a quick read.

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sonnet : Only Knowledge

Sonnet : 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 some 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

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Message

A message given to a grandson upon his birthday with a wish that he understands the linage he has become a mainstay of. The World waits for his entry.

Follow The Thread

From the stock, of the stock, from so far back ;
Hunter Gatherers, they all were back then.
Before husbandry, before dirt farmers,
Before herders, before creative freemen,

Titanic their struggle compared to ours.
Blood and death, survival, so commonplace
Was their theme, reaching long from then to now,
Discounting gender, color, any which race.

You, me, your friends their long threads are in place
Knotted, over and over, linking each
Back, unbroken, but stretched, so stretched
Through millenniums: forests, fields, and beach.

Today, you are the keeper of the thread
That links family to eternity.
It is safe in your trust, integrity must
Carry the day, life's grand fraternity.

Proud but humbly, in you, we have faith
No matter what road signs impede and block.
Safely entrusted, banners bright, wind torn,
Unfurled, marks your journey, voicing the talk.

You are not alone, but of a special
Generation, one poised to move the Earth
Away from crippling decay. We honor
Your understanding for reasons of birth.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, August 22, 2013



Has the Occupy movement just dried up, ready to blow away into lost memory, or is its strength reconstituting underground, remaking itself into a new formidable power, ready again to challenge the wide World ?

Sonnet : Into The Lamp Of History

When, onto the streets the massed disavowed march
From their "Occupy" camps into the lamp of history,
Their's is of every walk of life who carry the torch.
They make daily toil tribute to their work's mastery:

Then, they join in an echoing sound the massive choir
Assembled worldwide putting voice to the footsteps.
Unscripted, leaderless, message driven, forgiving prior
Allegiances to Madison Avenue's lusty driven preps :

And then, cracks within the cloistered Wall Street
Conclaves who hire blue coats for their protection.
Big money needs big results, billions verses speech ;
Words tug at heart and mind gaining true affection.

"The die is cast", an overwhelming thought adopted
By multitudes, succinct simplicity, never's co-opted.

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back To School

Back To School

Back to school rings sadly for many young,
Even the students in the Great Northeast.
While others, realizing gaining knowledge
Is a nobel endeavor, want return.
I was one of those caught in the middle.

For me, the lure of the story held sway,
Coming in class, more then when out playing.
School spoke to my desire for structured time,
Far too often, time off, brought disarray.
I was one to be quickly dissuaded.

We lived halfway : not farmers, not in town.
Always had a garden so we ate well.
Picked berries, in season grabbed fruit,
Thankfully took hand outs from our neighbors.
I wasn't special, just normal for the time.

My close buddies and I did all we could
Within walking distance : play sports, work, lounge.
As the opportunity arose, we -
"A Band Of Brothers" - accepted our role.
I never felt rebuff, but disappointments.

Which we shrugged off and went on with life.
Our youth was just like a roller coaster,
Up and down, around a corner, then stop.
We tried most everything: some wins, some not.
I bet, not keeping score, our saving grace.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Do I Have Your Ear ?

Do I Have Your Ear ?

I don't get away from my house too much, maybe once a week, but especially when I have a Doctor's appointment. Then, my wife, Connie, drives me around Pottstown so I get to see some of the changes being undertaken by town citizens and the borough itself. So, I get a birds eye view of town about every two months, this way, small continuous changes become readily evident and more memorable.

But, also evident and more memorable, are things which which should have changed but haven't. One that's so obvious and, which if not done, will create financial harm to many Pottstown residents and still this has not been addressed.

The Manatawny Creek has been prone to flood over its recorded history. It has a finite space for the stream, under normal weather conditions, to flow under the King Street Bridge on its path to merge with the river further south. Calculations for the bridge construction included the amount of anticipated water flow that could move under the bridge without building waters up stream, therefore, flooding Manatawny Street and adjacent properties.

If it has happened before, you can be sure it will happen again!

Silt has washed down stream and deposited below and above the bridge reducing the flow of water that could move under the bridge in any abnormal rain event. Adding insult to injury is the fact, that not only has silt built up but in that silt, trees and vegetation have germinated. These growing plants anchor them selves together and form a permanent barrier, they are islands in the making.

The Borough of Pottstown must remove these islands from the Manatawny Creek as soon as possible. This is so obvious its apparent need may be overlooked, something like, "not seeing the trees for the woods".
I'm sure there'll be appeals to the county and the state for them to address the problem of potential flooding.

Fleeting away is the time needed for correction, although, our weather has no set time table. A flooding deluge could come next week, next month, or next year, but come it will. Have you watched films on television depicting the terrible results from flooding around the World which someday will happen here ?

I hope we do more than give this potential problem a shrug and a nod. Benign neglect is the worse answer Pottstown could give its citizens.

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sad Note

Sad Note

A grand old Elm Tree seems to have just succumbed to the dreaded Dutch Elm disease. A tree which was probably living when our country was at war with itself during the Civil War. A tree that defied all the rules of long life but lived it anyway; that saw much of our Town's history but couldn't write or speak about it, this Elm experienced it all.

Growing on Hanover Street just north of Second Street this Elm grew in the front yard of what used to be the Swavely Home, where Orb Swavely last lived. I speculate it, along with a Red Oak tree, were planted, most likely, prior to the start of the 20th Century. They survived in spite of the smallness of the front yard they were planted in with buildings, and sidewalk, and Hanover Street so close.

Finally, when this Elm Tree is cut down, some smart students should get a cross section cut from the lower trunk and have a project of counting its rings so its age can be determined and certified.

There is an old saying,"when any person dies, a little is lost from from each of us". For me, someone who planted trees for a living during my active working years, I carry this sentiment over from humans to the plant world. My feelings are expansive.

When you drive on Hanover Street give a nod of your head to the now leafless grand old tree which has bowed finally to the scourge of disease, probably, the Dutch Elm Disease. This disease, in my mind, is similar to some form of cancer in humans, and, like cancer, must be eradicated from this Earth.

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dry Toast

Dry Toast

Unarmed and fearless, passive, not thinking,
We jump on every cockamamy scheme
Politicians have the gaul to project.
Who is unstable ? Are we or are they ?

An electorate that's illiterate,
Or worse, unconcerned is very troubling.
Societies have withstood ignorance
But crush under the weight of not caring.

(Gran'Pa Downie left this timeless message :

"Ronald, do you want marmalade on your toast ?"
I loved sweet spreads on my warm morning toast.

I replied, "I don't care !" He passed me dry toast,
Saying, "If you don't care, I don't care."
Following up, he said, "All the more left for me."

Over the years, this harsh message hit home.
Not caring is just not acceptable ! )

Caring is a quite active exercise
Requiring a minimum of raw
Intelligence plus desire to commit.
It stirs emotion, effects an action.

My young attitude of just not caring
Is amplified more then a million fold
When a whole society adopts it.
Its malaise easily permeates all.

Knowing this is a politicians job.
Their industry's to stroke the ignorant,
Romance the rest, don't stir the non caring.
Deception's their artful work endeavor.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, August 15, 2013

It All Depends

It All Depends

It all depends upon, Henny Penny's sky falling,
And Jacques Cousteau's blue oceans swelling ;

Depends upon, The Rolling Stones' songs playing,
Guardian Angles' protection finds safety amazing ;

Upon, John Updike past his Endpoint, again rising,
Evan Brandt penning each story his Dad's not writing;

The Mercury attending to the poor's needs unending,
And leaders in Washington their ignorance extending;

It all depends upon, the morning sun clearly rising
In a dedicated arc across our sky its energy giving;

Depends upon, grandsons picking up batons dropping,
Left over from attempts to keep live music rocking;

Upon, the fingers at their instruments still plucking,
Viewing the World from a lens in need of adjusting;

Within you, trees feel at ease, grasslands swaying,
Gardens seek your pleasure, soil rich for playing.

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sonnet : Gain Mastery

Sonnet : Gain Mastery

When in a crush of many misled men
Our World shutters of horrible deeds,
A counter is born by all strong women
Who bear our children, birth new seeds :

Then, fresh generations gain the wheel,
Trims the sails, set the compass to steer
Vessel into clear waters. Then they feel
Gaining mastery is something not to fear :

And then, we of a lesser state, find comfort
In understanding life on Earth gains in merit
From vitality pent up with genes of this sort,
Wishing for a more perfect union, to inherit.

Be these, the dreams to set aside our own misery
Of discontent or discarded woes, gains its mastery.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Art Of Listening

Sonnet : The Art Of Listening

When we lean on the cluttered din of the day
Few sounds can escape chatter's deafening wake.
Sharp piercing sounds squeal loudly, far away,
The rest, cloud like, low muffled sounds make :

Then in conversation which guides this very day,
From clouds back to Earth, beckons our own reply.
Uptempo, finding why's and wherefores, we may
State truths and falsehoods out loud to the sky :

And then, do we really wait for an answer returned ?
Or, have we retreated back into the heavens cloudy,
Not hearing the din nor if the responder's concerned,
Which has bearing living silently, if not, then loudly?

Lost is the "Art Of Listening" basic to Earth as sod,
But, grown so closely, are we just "Pees In A Pod"?

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sonnet : My Body Of Work

Sonnet : My Body Of Work

When my finger becomes a stump from pecking away
On my iPad, with just the right hand pointing one ;
I look at my body of work, shrug my shoulders, pray
That I'm not as lame in ability as thought by some :

Then gathering myself, I think, "What The Sam Hell"
Am I doing out in this arena of original thought ?
Me, a boy of the soil, with pulsating words to tell
Audiences about education's purpose, as it's taught :

And then, a Scottish Highland stubbornness invades
My innards and rescues an inbred arrogance for life.
If not me, who the hell will write of grand parades,
Of awakening flowers, children, theirs, and my wife ?

However menial the task, it's the full effort given
Which measures a person's metal, sung by the liven.

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dog Days

Dog Days

More in the news today are dogs, those four legged canine with super sensitive noses, who are doing things for Man unimaginable just twenty or thirty years ago. Bomb sniffing dog's abilities are heroic in many war stories made prominent on television news of the day. For at least the next decade or so, bomb sniffing dog stories will command many book shelves and movie screens seeking public support.

Domestically many local police departments adopt dogs to prove their worth working bomb scares and controlling crowds. Police dogs have proven themselves, time and time again, extremely valuable during crime searches and locating hidden drugs.

But today, today the ultimate pinnacle of high level sniffing has been announced. Trained dogs are able to sniff out ovarian cancer in women long before any visible signs of the cancer is evident to the afflicted women or to their doctor. Possibly, this high level sniffing will spread to other diseases difficult for our doctors to diagnose early.

But, there is something about dogs that one can only experience from a front porch. I spend a lot of time on my front porch watching my neighbors walk their dogs so the animals get exercise and also get enough waking to activate a movement in their dog's bowels. To my neighbors commitment for a clean town, I commend them all for carrying plastic bags that they use in picking up the poop the dogs needed to eliminate from their bodies.

I wonder what the canine world is thinking of their Master's Voice these days. From the beginning of dog time, which developed from Man's domestication of the wolf, dogs never experienced someone, not only observing their bowel movements closely, but quickly bagging their warm movements in plastic. Certainly, it is good that neighbors don't keep elephants as pets which would also need exercise by walking the streets. Dogs are broadening their horizons from their noses to just below their tails and the public needs to become more aware of "Man's Best Friend" and continue to treat dogs as a valuable ally.

Ronald C. Downie

Our Home

Sonnet : Our Home

Beyond these hellish heated days, late spring,
Pigments deepen their hues, colors surface.
Chlorophyll's still working, life's force she'll bring
To dominate landscape is green's purpose.

Spring gives way to summer's growing season :
Warm nights, warmer days, occasional rain ;
Sap flowing up new formed stalks, the reason,
Plants create oxygen, Man's outright gain.

The browns of fall loom horizons over
A bountiful Earth spent of production.
Energy accumulates in sober
Soils building up for next year's growth action.

Why life ? Why us ? Life's process ours alone ?
It works ! We're here ! Planet Earth is our home !

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sonnet : Like A Jury

Sonnet : Like A Jury

When the weight of honesty bogs me down,
I pass judgement on our politicians,
Who, from each side of their mouths, speak untruths,
While evil intended money men laugh :

Then, the duped public : asleep, complacent,
Lulled into apathy, votes without thought.
They pander to slick adds of sleazy lines
Always skirting truths, garbage in - same out :

And then, with our country in peril, awake.
America has always moved forward
Like a jury collectively coming
Together to find the truth, dispel fears.

Lathered in a harsh fever oozing sweat
Political hacks die slow deaths, I bet.

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, August 9, 2013

Hitch Our Wagon

Hitch Our Wagon

To : Mosaic Lands Trust / Andy Monastra

Mosaic Lands Trust and Andy Monastra make a progressive team, kudos to them. Please consider "hitching our ( Pottstown's ) wagon to a star". Ask yourselves, what's one of the few stars rising within our borough ? There's not many.

I'd suggest for Pottstown, to hitch its wagon to the ascending star of MCCC.. The Montgomery County Community College, west campus, is strongly positioned in our town and its future seems quite secure. It is here for the long term !

Checkout any college town and you'll find, in every one, an intangible vitality. Vitality is a commodity severely lacking in Pottstown. MCCC is in the business of learning : expanding one's self, casting off the dreaded prejudices of ignorance, and, not only finding new horizons, but ascending them to look for those unscaled horizons beyond.

I suggest Mosaic form a committee to press MCCC to meet with them to explore a more interactive relationship between the two entities. Yes, I know there has been a good synergy between the borough and the college but most of that has involved the transfer of property. There is something more than tangibles at stake here. The life blood of Pottstown has essentially been drawn from her and she needs, in my mind, a transfusion.

It takes people of divergent interests to come together and discuss what each could possibly do for the other. "Hitching Pottstown's Wagon To A Star" would be another positive step forward and forward is the only direction we should know.

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sonnet : To War As Boys

Sonnet : To War As Boys

Broadly speaking, the story teller sighs,
Before laying out his theme's apt reply.
In a small town, it's tough not knowing guys
Who'll make a difference with their goodbyes.

Oft in swarms on trains, they to war so soon.
Hardly roughed on chin, their pompadours wait
Floating to the cutting floor, shave by noon.
Marching, left-right, straighten the lines, eyes right.

To war as boys, their return home as men
Knowing unthinkable things, mums the word,
Until authors seek them out, use their pen.?
Some relate, some not; some true, some absurd.

Effecting maturity, a war's theme,
Discounts beauty found in "The Golden Mean".

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Bard's Sonnets

A Bard's Sonnets

Champion, in the world of writing plays, William Shakespeare also became the master of the sonnet, and all of his writings ring as meaningful today as when he wrote them. One hundred and fifty four sonnets were compiled and printed in 1609 under his name.

His sonnets had structure: written in rhyming iambic pentameter of ten syllables per line divided into five feet per line, each of these feet were composed of one unstressed syllable and one stressed. This rhythm can be heard by the reader or listener in it's drumming of "baBoom" five times over in each line. His rhyme scheme, in poetic lingo, was : abab,cdcd,efef, and gg.

William wrote 14 line sonnets configured in three quatrains of four lines each, in which he developed a problem or a theme and then followed them with a couplet that resolves or sums up the issue. Definitive were his sonnets while holding on to a confining structure. Shakespeare was the sonnets' master and was rewarded by having sonnets written in his style named after him these past centuries, they're called Shakespearian Sonnets.

Except for the difficulty of writing in iambic pentameter, the other constructs of his style of writing sonnets are not too difficult to master. I have struggled many years to write a well constructed Shakespearian Sonnet but they don't seem to cut the mustard. Poor as they seem, I still publish them, because they ring well in content to me. I am competing with no one but myself and for those few who may read them for their content. I may only hope you are one of those who are willing to join me in my folly.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, August 5, 2013

Trial And Error

Trial And Error

When in the surge of history, we brace
Against the breadth of inane ignorance,
Which permeates those persons seeking grace
From worship, instead of, perseverance:

Then the tide swings toward understanding
Limits of man's faith in a modern world.
Scribes write their definition of meaning,
Describing the shackles, flags are unfurled:

And then, the inquisitive seek science
As it builds upon trial and error,
With preponderance on thought not seance,
"This I Believe" just's a broken mirror.

Faith's failure leaves many disconsolate,
Though science, may they all repatriate.

Ronald C Downie

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Plumb Line

Plumb Line

When the line stretches taunt, perpendicular's set,
As the tapered pear like bob seeks Earth's heart.
Plumb is a desired need for any building plans met
To assure sturdy built structures from their start :

Then, if plumb, could skyscrapers rise as would Lego
Pieces quickly snapped in place by youngsters neat ?
Surely, foundations being set plumb allows the flow
Of upper stories safely built, above a busy street :

And then, when comfortable building walls erect.
We think of those who plan the future giving hope.
You are that person we look at, it's you we select,
You will be there, always giving strength to cope.

Growing strong through tough times tempers each
To check plumb lines, go forward, ready to reach.

Ronald C. Downie