Summer, 6:15a.m.

White/Black police cruisers
speeding back from night shift,
a biker pedals downhill
bent over handlebars;
a homeless man heads for
a shelter breakfast;
gulls pick over refuse;
pines reach up, their shadows
It is darkening in Chiang Mai,
winter in Tasmania.
The time for planning
has gone by.


Earle’s Roof

Earle's roof, rain, Portland City Hall

Earle’s roof, rain, Portland City Hall

Earle’s roof is supported by metal ribs that arch across the short dimension and are hidden by a layer of insulation and a fabric head liner. I could feel where the ribs were, approximately. I cut an exploratory 14 inch square (the size of the roof vent) from the insulation and liner and found that there was just enough room between the two rearmost ribs. So far, so good.

The vent was designed for a flat or slightly curving roof. Earle’s roof has longitudinal ridges raised about 3/8ths of an inch with rubber strips glued on top. The vent did not fit between them. What is life without challenge?

I cut away the interfering rubber strips, but the vent was still sitting on the ridges above the roof surface. Half a day later after many suggestions, I bought weather stripping that would fill the gap between the ridges when squeezed down under pressure. A layer of plumber’s putty on the tops of the ridges completed the first barrier against rain driven along the roof. I screwed the vent down on the homemade gasket and surrounded the whole with a dam of marine grade silicon caulk, impermeable and very sticky stuff. Voila!

Now for the vent cover: internet gurus advised that a cover was indispensable. How else to keep the vent open during rain / snow? I bought a cover, aerodynamically shaped with a screened opening to the rear. It fastened directly to the vent with bolts, no need for any more holes in the roof. Unfortunately, the vent has an inner enclosure which prevented attaching the washers and nuts to the bolts. What is life without …?

I disassembled the vent from the inside in order to reach the cover bolts. Swearing. Then, how to hold the bolts from the outside of the van while starting nuts from the inside? Duct tape! Don’t leave home without it. Tape held the bolts from turning until friction from the washers grabbed and allowed final tightening.

The vent works perfectly and has not leaked. To economize, I bought a “Roofbag” in lieu of a hardcover roof carrier. It is very well designed and holds a huge amount of stuff, freeing up living space inside. $100 for the carrier and well worth it.

Earle w/seagull decoration

Earle w/seagull decoration



snout/underjaw looming over port,
money scooper feeding on
impoverished imagination,
late hopes—the poor
serving the less poor,
mass entertainment, while
corporate owners
slip into quiet harbors
on slim boats well stocked,
that they have escaped

Portland, Maine


toddler pushing
a plastic truck
on a dirt road,
face red with effort

his mother, ahead of him,
begins to dance, encouraging,
leaping from one foot
to the other, arms out,
blonde hair gathered, swinging
side to side

he smiles at her,
says “Hiiii…” to me,
it’s slow going
but fun
getting a truck up the road,
while you learn to dance

Peaks Island