Familiar #NaPoWriMo 11

Familiar #NaPoWriMo 11


Were you really that small
At one time,
You silly Maine Coon?
I wonder, glancing at photos
Of a friend’s newly-gotcha

We gotcha-ed you
At almost four months,
You silly Main Coon
When a tiny furball
Would curl up in a lap.

Then your mane grew out,
And your bird-chirp started,
You silly Maine Coon,
Distinguishing you from the
Ginger kitty who came home
With you on the same day.

Any wistful thoughts of
Tiny kittens vanish,
As the internal motor winds up,
Volume increasing,
Chirping for attention.
Demands for cuddles require
Immediate response,
Reminding me that you are
My Familiar,
You silly Maine Coon.

©2020 Edward J. Branley

Train Ferry #NaPoWriMo 11

Train Ferry

Good-bye waves
Before 7am
Are fewer, as
Early travelers depart
Loved ones at home,
Allowing them to return
To bed,
After the Traveler
Gets up and dressed.
For the trip west

Grab the suitcase,
Hop on a streetcar
Whose mule is steady
And awake, already
Hard at work.

Board the train,
Settle into the compartment
For the trip west,
Amidst the organized chaos
That is business travel.

Tune out the sounds
Of the locomotive.
Ignore the smell
Of burning coal.
Focus on the riverfront
Loading, unloading
Moving the goods in demand
Around the country.

The turn of the wheels
Brings on a light transe
All too quickly broken
As the train slows,
Approaching the ferry landing.

Relative quiet.
Locomotive and cars
Roll down the landing
Onto the boat.
Smells from the dock
Give way to fresh air as
The crossing begins.

Again, the sensation is
The loading process reverses.
Locomotive leaves the boat.
Train re-connects.

The Journey West
Begins in earnest
From Algiers.

©2020 Edward J. Branley

Appropriation #NaPoWriMo 10


Songs about gay sex,
Songs popular in discos,
Songs sung by a lesbian
To her partner.
All end up co-opted by
White conservatives
Blissfully unaware
Of their origins.’s

Sometimes it’s the tune,
Sometimes the lyrics, that
Transcend origins, sparking
Deep feelings
In people who would burn,
Destroy the songwriter,
Because they don’t live
Their life
In lockstep with them.

Striking the feels isn’t
Usually how it works.
Ofttimes, a song gets appropriated
By people so arrogant
They believe everything belongs to
Them and Theirs

Earlier generations of Americans
Called it,
“Manifest Destiny.”


Personal Log 20200526 – Ops Center, 1862

Personal Log 20200526 – Ops Center, 1862

Personal Log 20200526 has me preparing for more computer classes.

Electrical box at N. Carrollton and Wisner, painted by Jane Brewster.

Personal Log 20200526

I’ve been fortunate during our slowdown/lockdown/shutdown period. People take training when they can’t go anywhere. That’s obviously good for the trainer. Tip of the hat to the folks that market training from Hitachi Vantara’s Global Learning group. They seized the opportunity. Pitching customers, rounding up groups, grabbing Technical Consultants with too much free time.

It helps that Hitachi dropped a new suite of management software at the start of the year. We prepared for this in the fall. The folks implementing that software know to sign up for classes. Problem is, a lot of their bosses pull the plug on their people being away from the phone for more than fifteen seconds. I may have eight to ten folks signed up, and we start class with six. I suppose there’s an argument for that as a positive, as the other two to four end up in a later class.

Either way, I’m keeping busy.

Working under quarantine

“Busy” means sitting in front of the computer, talking to my own screen, using WebEx. Still making my own coffee, which is the biggest downside to the deal. I feel my people-watching skills atrophy, as we keep this up. Even on a teaching day, I got an hour to an hour and a half of sitting out on the coffee shop patio. While I didn’t mind the (relatively) close contact of the nearby regulars, now, well, not so much. I take this high-risk condition seriously.

I managed to go out to see the trains go by a couple of times this past week. Since Friday was a “lab day,” where I didn’t have lectures scheduled, Watching the Sunset Limited make its way past Central Avenue in Old Jefferson is theraputic. I’m back to trying different locations for train watching. Sitting out and watching trains pass by the Canal Blvd. underpass is easy. Now, I’m going into City Park, and back over to where the tracks cross Bayou St. John. Time to get some cemetery perspective this week, I think.

History work

Two things coming up. I pitched Derby the idea of doing a “panel discussion” via Zoom. We’ve we’ve got the subject matter worked out. I want Mark Bologna to be the moderator, as if it was a classic panel at a symposium or gathering. Mark will lend some gravitas to the thing that goes beyond Derby and I sitting at yet another coffee shop.

I also need to set up something with Ryan Bordenave! He’s such a fount of downtown knowledge. Every time I post a photo of Canal Street, Ryan’s got something to say about it that enhances the discussion. Setting that up is on this week’s to-do.


The poetry goes well. In fact, a couple of photos that Derby’s shared on social media sparked some of the verse. I’m behind on posting them here on the website. Too many WordPress rabbit holes that are more fun to go down.


Today is 26-April. It’s the day that sailors and marines from the USS Pensacola took down the “state flag” of Louisiana that was used during the “secession year” from the US Mint on Esplanade. They hoisted the US flag in its place. Then a man named Mumford pulled it down. Butler had him executed for that offense. Mumford is recognized as a martyr to the (Lost) Cause. It’s important to remind those folks that he pulled down the flag (well, a version with fewer stars) that they, their fathers, and their grandfathers went off to Europe, the Pacific, and the Middle East, to fight under. Way too many folks grew up on a diet of the Lost Cause as fact. I’ll keep plugging.


Writing Under the Q Flag #NaPoWriMo 9

Writing Under the Q Flag #NaPoWriMo 9

Writing Under the Q Flag

Get up.
Get out!
Fresh air on
The coffee shop patio.

Handshakes become
Elbow bumps, eventually
Turning into cautious waves
From six feet away.

The solitary runner
Continues her routine
But what of the writer,
Used to that particular table
On the coffee shop patio?

Sitting at the table
At home,
In the kitchen,
Making her own coffee.

The lack of activity,
Of cars,
Even the bloody garbage truck!
The quiet of the kitchen
Dries up
Inspiration and motivation.

TV off.
Computer goes to screen save.
Phone on desk
In the other room.

Chair by the window
Pen in hand.
Slow realization
There are things
In the neighborhood
Equally inspiring.

Introverts #NaPoWriMo 8

Introverts #NaPoWriMo 8


Seclusion and distance
Come easy for
The Introvert.

She doesn’t “People”
In Person
Preferring online engagement.

Even though her routine
Is not disrupted, she knows
To check in with her extroverted friends.

They make her cray, sometimes,
Insisting on brunch, on drinks,
Or the dreaded weekend party.

But they are her friends,
And she wants them back,
When it’s safe to hug once again.

Slow Traveler #NaPoWriMo 7

Slow Traveler #NaPoWriMo 7

Slow Traveler

Downtown departure
At 7am.
No Stops,
No Encounters,
No Worries,
As the traveler settles in,
Maybe grab some breakfast
In the dining car
Before passing the Cemeteries?

The Crescent’s mission
Has not changed in over
A century:
Connect New Orleans with New York

Not everyone rides
The Crescent
All the way
To New York.
Maybe it’s just a day trip
To Atlanta.

The privacy of a
Small compartment
All to oneself,
Versus the crowds
At the airport,
Is often worth
The extra six hours.

A day spent away from
The stress of travel.
As the cars click along
Through Mississippi.

Morning Ritual #NaPoWriMo 6

Morning Ritual #NaPoWriMo 6

Morning Ritual

Iced coffee, three sugars.
Barista sees her coming,
Grabs a cup, ice, and pitcher of coffee.
Order is ready when
She reaches the counter.

There is no concern
That she’ll change her mind.
It’s been the same
For three years, even on
The occasional Saturday.

Creatures of habit
Are easy to satisfy
If attention is paid
To their Rituals.


Personal Log 20200414 – supermarket runs

Personal Log 20200414 – daily routine changes in our stay-home world.

persona log 20200414

Work from home really means work from home right now.

Personal Log 20200414

When training classes begin, my introduction includes saying something about New Orleans. While I teach remotely from here at the house, it’s not accurate to say I work from home. That’s because I get out to the coffee shop on most mornings. Well, not now, naturally.

Teaching routine

Teaching via WebEx requires I stay put. I have a “business” internet account. My desk computer connects via wire to the router to the rest of the world. This provides a better quality of service, QoS. While I probably would survive on the PJs or Starbucks wi-fi, the noise of the blenders presents an issue.

Teaching from home isn’t a terrible thing. I still have time to get up, catch the Amtrak Crescent at the PJs, have coffee, and plan the day. By 0830, I hop in the car and head back home.

Writing routine

No class on a given week means no reason to hop back in the car at 0830. I hang out at the coffee shop for a few hours, working down my BuJo’s task list. The people-watching and train-watching is good for me. So’s the fresh air on the coffee shop patio.

Pandemic adjustments

I worked from the coffee shop for three days after the stay-at-home “suggestions” started. The baristas pushed all the seating to the sides, as if they were about to mop the floor. It didn’t discourage the customers. They gathered on the patio. This annoyed me because I don’t like all those people in the first place. Mark Bologna and I grabbed two of the outside tables that first Sunday (how many Sundays ago was that? I’m losing track.). We social-distanced nicely. Still, there were too many people. After that, I surrendered.

Coffee from home is a first world problem

personal log 20200414

I’m not a fan of making my own coffee. I prefer that to being around asymptomatic carriers, though. So, out comes the pot. The cats are amused. I still drink about the same amount of coffee. From a price perspective, I’m sure it’s saving me money. The lack of donuts, on the other hand, makes me sad. Same for the cinnamon rolls at the PJs.


My writing production isn’t what it was prior to the pandemic. Home distracts me. Home means I can work on my other computers here. I don’t do that at the coffee shop, unless something’s wrong with a website.

Actual work-from-home offers the distraction of making network changes. While the network improves, my NaPoWriMo output drops.

General mindset – Personal Log 20200414

I don’t like going to the grocery in the pandemic. Grocery shopping has always been fun for me, going back to when the boys were kids. I cook, so it’s logical I buy the groceries. Planning isn’t as necessary when Zuppardo’s Supermarket is less than a, mile away. So, normal meant 2-3 trips a week. Dinner planning happened two hours before cooking started.

Pandemic conditions changed that. People in #themetrys make me uncomfortable. Way too many of them are Fox News viewers who think this is a hoax. I don’t need them breathing on me. Seriously. My headphones provided escape from racist white people. Turn on, tune out. They continue to breathe, though.

Even a weekly trip to the supermarket increases my stress levels. While Whole Foods is a better (and smaller) group of customers, they don’t have everything we want/need. Trips to the supermarket early in the day provide some respite from stupid people, but all it takes is one. Not good for my general disposition.

Back to the N-scale trains

I need to get the extraneous stuff off the train table and run them again. It’s a distraction that doesn’t involve watching TV. That’s my main goal for the week. I dismantled the layout before the holidays, and never got back to it. Trains fuel the imagination! They mitigate all the stuff I’m fussing about in Personal Log 20200414.

A Novel Approach #NaPoWriMo 5

A Novel Approach #NaPoWriMo 5 of 30

A Novel Approach

In 1940,
The Nazi Blitz ravaged Britain.
Those who guarded the nation,
In the Shadows,
On the Astral,
Among the Trees,
Came together
To defend their homes
And their loved ones.

Can we defend
Against the novel coronavirus
Using similar means?
Not everyone understands
The science,
The medicine,
The care
Needed to heal
Those who get sick.

But surely,
Those who understand the body’s
Connection to the spirit.
The Shamans,
The Witches,
The Mages.
Even the Dabblers
And the “Fluffy Bunnies”
Know the importance of
Deep breathing.

They can visualize
Healthy lungs
Filling up with air
Exhaling steadily
Oxygen providing
That can battle build up
The fortress that is
The human body
To battle back
The viral assault.

An’ It Would Harm None,
To paraphrase the Rede
To share what we have,
Our Energy
Our Strength
Our Desire to help others.
To boost the energy
Of the vulnerable
Helping them push
The intruder out.

©2020 Edward J. Branley