all about you

bay area traffic clip 2Monday’s are such a fight you
find nothing to delight you
and how the taxes bite you
even God seems to smite you

your daily commute mires you
your wife and fam’ly tires you
there’s nothing that inspires you
and coffee only wires you

your anger always flares you
when other driver glares you
or boss he double-dares you
or wife poorly compares you

on Friday, weekend greets you
your plastic girlfriend meets you
promises and entreats you
with her soft lips she heats you

a case of beer inside you
and your warm doll beside you
your thoughts of glide and slide you
use to anesthetize you

Saturday morning hurts you
so when your wife she flirts you
and lifts her velvet skirts you
throw-up in garden dirts you

then Sunday comes too fast you
can’t make the weekend last you
and wife is mad aghast you
let to-do list slip past you

always under the gun you
hate to believe you’re done you
would like more weekend fun you
go out for a quick run you

while on your run you greet you
flashed in the mirrored heat you
look cool and pretty neat you
just know folks want to meet you

Monday’s are such a fight you
find nothing to delight you
and how the taxes bite you
even God seems to smite you

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Thanks for reading.

Alice

mendicants

5 OF PENTACLESmendicants
stone wall bright stained-glass
rags and snow

rags and snow
swaddle holy light
from these hearts

from these hearts
pour eternal source
wide ocean

wide ocean
waters rise to lift
ev’ry boat

ev’ry boat
floats upon these waves
those without

those without
boats paddles or sails
mendicants

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This is a haiku cascade poem made from 3-5-3 verses. It was inspired by the Haiku circus word prompt “beg” and the 5 of Pentacles card from a Rider-Waite Tarot deck.

haikucircusbadge* * * * * * *

Thanks for reading.

Alice

exodus

Houseboats sit in the drought lowered waters of Oroville Lake, near Oroville, Calif., Oct. 30, 2014. Rich Pedroncelli/APIt’s likely that Californians won’t need to be in an uproar over housing prices for much longer. When housing costs are factored in, California has the highest rate of poverty in the nation. Wages are slipping. Unemployment is up. The state suffers chronic issues with its budget. Areas of Southern California have a higher population density than New York.

All of these factors have conspired to nudge many Californians into becoming part of a great exodus. Between 1990 and 2012, there’s been an outflow of 3.4 million residents. These migrants have been primarily those with incomes below $50,000 a year. The Golden Bear state exports more poor and middle-income residents than any other state.

But, these days, it isn’t just high housing costs and low wages that are sending people packing. Now, there are more core concerns than roofs and money. This is year four of the drought.

We’re at the end of another winter rain season that didn’t replenish the water supply. The required snow pack didn’t accumulate in the Sierra Nevada range. The reservoirs are low. We’re without necessary water reserves.

Officials estimate that California has only one year of water remaining.

So, the pressure is on for continued water conservation. And we do what we must. We strictly limit laundry, bathing and flushing. We hand-carry water saved from our dish pan out to the trees and bushes.

Our water bill has an updated tiered rate scale. This is supposed to nip at our financial heels to keep us in line with conservation and at the same time keep money flowing into the water district as we use less. When we four use a bit more than the amount of water allotted for a “conservation-minded” household of two, we pay a lot more for our water. Last month, for the first time, we slipped a hair above the limit and my water-use bill doubled.

Yes. There are four of us. But we rent a home that’s only qualified by the water board for two people. Even if we housed six or eight here, we would still be required to stay within the water usage for two “conservation minded” people or pay higher rates.

Our family of four is so conservative in our use that we normally do use less than the amount allotted for a “conservation-minded” household of two. I think we should get a prize or a sign for our front yard for being champions of water conservation for the last ten months rather than being required to pay extra charges for slipping over that “conservation minded” two-person usage line.

But, since the 38 million human inhabitants of the state use just 20% of the water, even the best conservation efforts on the part of the public can do little to abate this situation.

IRRIGATION IS REQUIRED TO GROW CROPS IN A DESERT (wikimedia commons) California agriculture is dependent on irrigation. Commercial agriculture chugs down a hearty 80% of this state’s water supply because they farm desert. The natives that lived here before us had little agriculture because there is no rain during the long summer growing season.

In 2014, 400,000 acres were left fallow for lack of water. This year the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) estimates that a million acres will go fallow for of lack of water. Especially in the vast areas planted with nut and fruit trees and grapes, the impact could be severe. These crops cannot survive a year without water.

6 AND ROOM FOR A GARDENSince the USDA estimates that California provides 60 percent U.S. fruit and tree nuts and 51 percent of vegetables, this drought is of national concern. If you live in an area blessed with regular rainfall and have a patch of yard, this would be a good year to put in a vegetable garden.

If not, this may be a good year to move to one. 

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Thanks for reading.

Alice

washed away

PERHAPS THE TSUNAMI HAS ALREADY WASHED US AWAY. (pic from wikimedia commons)Our nation is caught in an ongoing economic collapse. I fear it is unstoppable. And the tsunami is gaining momentum from the masses of sliding and tumbling world economies.

This rolling wave of disaster was set in motion by U.S. government-backed bank shenanigans, unregulated stock market gambling and unmitigated advertising guile in a culture where money is God, capitalism is the national religion and corporate CEOs are exalted as high priests. Even as our country is washed away, these earth-shaking games continue unabated. 

Since 2008, unrealistically-low Federal interest rates coupled with stumbling economies at home and abroad have force-fed yet another real estate bubble. Rapid debt expansion and wealthy rats with money to stash have re-inflated house price bubbles around the country and around the world.

Homes have again become gambling tokens for flippers using tax-payer backed loans. They’ve again become safe-deposit boxes to hide cash. They’ve again become bits inside Real Estate Investment Trusts to gamble retirement savings on. But homes have stopped being places for working people to buy and live in.

And now, the additional tsunami from the collapsing oil bubble is here. It’s spreading outward from epicenters in cities, regions and countries whose economies have been dependent on greed-inflated oil prices.

No single boat can remain afloat alone among the flotsam in this turbulent world economy.  No amount of positive-thinking or “always-up” spin can take the place of affordable housing, domestic industry and jobs with living wages. Tooth whitening does not fix teeth.

TSUNAMI AND TRAIN WRECK (pic from wikimedia commons)Housing bubble gamblers have priced home ownership out of reach of even our nation’s most highly-educated and well-paid talent. And these folks are the people we’re counting on to power our nation’s economic recovery. But these highly educated are also the people most likely to be dragging a jumbo anchor of students debt with them. If the educated and talented can’t afford a 2 bedroom fixer shack for a small family, they cannot provide fuel for the rest of us.

I live beyond the borders of San Jose, a town in the center of high-tech innovation known as Silicon Valley. According to Glassdoor (an on-line job site), software engineer salaries in San Jose average $108,387 a year. I used a tax calculator and found that this leaves a monthly take home of around $6,000.

This sounds like a lot of money next to the masses of unemployed, slightly-employed and low-wage workers, especially next to those who live in areas where an ordinary family house can be purchased for under a hundred thousand dollars. But here where the jobs are, $6,000 a month is not enough to afford even the smallest of American dreams.

Tiny 2 bedroom fixer shacks within commuting distance to jobs in Silicon Valley are now priced upwards from a million bucks. With 3% down, the monthly cost is $6490, including mortgage payment, interest, taxes and insurance. If an engineer has accumulated $200,000 to bring to the table as a 20% down payment on a million dollar shack, this brings her monthly cost down to $4886… for thirty years.

As the 7 million Americans who’ve suffered through foreclosures over the last few years have learned, you’d better be dog-certain that you and your family can stick together and sustain this pace and level of income each and every month for the next thirty years.

Out here in the hinterlands we’re a three plus hour daily commute from most high-tech employment opportunities. An 800 sq ft two-bedroom tear-down just sold for “only” $700,000. To buy this shack, one of those educated and talented engineers with a well-paid high-tech job in Silicon Valley would have to spend hours each day on dangerous highways and work 2XL-sized hours. With no union protections, sixty hours a week (and up) have become the “normal” work week in high tech.

TSUNAMI  (pic from wikimedia commons)The best educated and most talented people our nation can produce (or import) must drive and work endless hours in order to live an impoverished, cramped and hurried life.

The tsunami has already washed us away.

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Thanks for reading.

Alice

taste of happiness

TASTE OF HAPPINESS (stew and pic by Alice Keys (c) 2015)tears wet cheeks
peeling onions for
pot of stew

pot of stew
potatoes carrots
celery

celery
savory herbs wed
rich broth steams

rich broth steams
family and friends
together

together
taste of happiness
tears wet cheeks

* * * * * * *

My haiku chain cascade poem was inspired by the Haiku Horizons word prompt “weep” and the cooking of this very pot of stew for family and friends yesterday.

THIS IS THE LINK TO HAIKU HORIZONS WORD PROMPT.* * * * * * *

Thanks for reading.

Alice

in the cards

IN THE CARDS (wikimedia commons)see what’s in the cards for you
your knight gallops his way here
says he’ll be your truest true
promises not too much beer

romance headed right your way
steely sword drawn and raised high
says that he will always stay
crosses heart and hopes to die

across roaring rivers he
rides his steady sturdy steed
always your way like a bee
buzzing to his flower need

when at last he find you there
opens lock with just three words
twines his fingers in your hair
hearts become two snow white birds

see what’s in the cards for you
your knight gallops his way here
says he’ll be your truest true
promises not too much beer

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Thanks for reading.

Alice

PS: This poem was inspired by a Tarot reading class I recently attended. What fun! I had my fortune told. Romance is on its way to me. But don’t tell my husband. I want it to be a surprise.