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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Déjà vu…

It’s a rainy Saturday morning.
The newest of our family fleet
will not shift out of second
and so took residence at the shop.
It seems to me a vehicle just five years old
has no business going lame
in the company of older cars
(with twice the miles)
that plot on without complaint.

At any rate, being one car short
and needing to spend a few hours
in my office, I offered to drive
my oldest daughter to the school.
(She cleans in the left-over hours
of college life and love).
Seeing the rain, she grabbed an umbrella
and tossed it behind the seat.
Five minutes later I dropped her off
at the front door, parked the car myself,
reached blindly behind me,
and spread the umbrella wide
in the “V” of the open door.

Colors flashed. What’s this?
For a moment I didn’t know,
but it was the orange and blue glow
of my old Phi Beta Chi umberchute
(as I sometimes called it to be cute),
a lingering remnant of my college days.
Sure I knew the thing was still around.
Every now and then,
I’d seen its orange handle wave at me
from darkened corners
where such things become obscure,
but I had not used it for some time because...
it’s a very large umbrella—
it's bright orange and blue
like a jester’s hat or jockey's silks,
and my taste has rightly mellowed
since my freshman year.

The last time I remember using it on purpose
was when our girls were babies on the beach
and it served as a cabana for some shade.
Years later, when the girls played
"Singing in the Rain," it was a prop.
That's all they know of it, but long before their time
the umbrella knew a different song.
The one I sang as it spun on my shoulder
all the way back to my dorm...
"Gee, its great after bein' out late/
Walkin' my baby back home..."

That was ages ago.
Mostly since then it’s been behind others things,
in a box and buttoned down,
(as we all in time are more inclined to be).
Until this morning,
when from nowhere
we were open and adrift in time
as the rain drummed its fingers impatiently above,
forgetting the loose ends that brought us to that lot.
And from somewhere in the distance,
I heard the band in the bleachers
playing the old Phi Beta fight song:

Cheers, cheers for Phi Beta Chi
Orange and blue colors wave them on high.
‘Round the campus you will hear
voices resounding load and clear:
We never falter; we never fall.
Soon we’ll be champions over them all.
Step aside and let us by
for we are Phi Beta Chi.

The words came back from half a life ago,
and briefly echoed in the orange glow…
like a scratchy LP of our voices
in the rain.
orange and blue
déjà vu…


Blogger JulieAnn said...

Mr. Kapanka?! I found your site by pure accident and am glad that I did. I graduated from WRBA in 1996 - Julie Swanson ring any bells? Our class just recently held our 10-year reunion and we have a blog as well: http://wrba-classof96.blogspot.com/

Come check us out! I don't personally blog on here but my sister Joy does :http://owensfive.blogspot.com/ so you'll have to check that out too.

Hope all is well with your family and God bless!

~Julie (Swanson) Reger

1/10/06 9:49 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Of course I remember you. Among other things, you were a huge help in Yearbook class! Thanks for stopping by. The family is doing great. Emily is getting married in June. Read about it at
I'll check out those blogs.
Mr. K

3/10/06 7:27 PM  

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