Photography

In Blue Hawaii

Just got back from a quickie across the ocean.

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Stayed up on the northwest tip of Kamehameha’s island.

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Had a nice room with a patio view of a lush hillside.

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Got to spend some time at the beach.

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Went to see some touristy historical sites.

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Took a hike through a lava-locked pikupa forest.

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Checked out the Kohala coast.

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Watched Venus rise over palms.

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Had to come home much too soon.

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Afternoon in Amsterdam

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Many thanks to Sandy River Review for publishing (most) of the following poem in their Fall 2016 issue.

Afternoon in Amsterdam

                                                                     —for Roland Möe

Forget the red-light district

. toothless skirts from overseas

.. imported age-old fantasies

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I ask the way to the Van Gogh show

. a bearded local walks me there

.. we smoke a bowl on a smoky bench

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Inside, alone, nose close to canvas

. amazed by heavy strokes of pain

.. such violence in a starry sky

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Someone tugs my sweater sleeve

. that beard with marijuana breath

.. twice my age, here to persuade

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I say I’m hungry, leave the show

. he follows, knows a place not far

.. leads me back to his second-floor flat

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Up steep and narrow bohème steps

. he serves up bowls of stovetop gruel

..  veggies and grains, a sweet-spice stew

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Once he tastes, I try a bite

. smoke another bowl, relax, unwind

.. he lays a lazy hand upon my knee

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Downstairs, distressed, I say I’m beat

. heading back to my hotel to sleep

.. he begs me not to go—Please, stay

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Half his age, afraid of his long song

I find my way to the red-light zone

.. still unsure if any road leads home

 

Paint Jobs

Last month, we had the house painted.  The old paint was peeling off and just looked terrible.  Last year, we put a new roof on the house.  Now, we’ve got a fresh coat of paint.  Plus, we directed the painters to pay close attention to the bas-relief, especially its flowery pattern.

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Here’s a close-up of the bas-relief.

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I was so moved, I just had to draw the house in my sketchbook.

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Still moved, I decided it was time to start experimenting with some watercolor pencils.

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Yep… Home, Sweet Home.

Two More Euro Poems

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Many thanks to Bindweed, an online literary journal, for publishing the follow two poems — two more from my series about my travels through Europe in 1980.  That’s me in the middle, between Chino and Abel, with the eponymous Volkswagen van behind us.

Volkswagen Van

                                               “We never see him.”   —Louis XIV

Grand chateau, once royal court of France

  now packed with peasants on bus tours from Paris

    —and me curled up in a Volkswagen van

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Where once purple kings and sycophants pranced

  dancing with stars on a moonlit terrace

    this grand chateau, this royal crown of France

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Now hosts a daily deluge—trash cans

  full of coffee cups, littered souvenirs

    and me curled up in a Volkswagen van

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When one past prince fell ill at romance

  too ashamed to be seen, too embarrassed

    he shunned the chateau, a sin across France

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Like him, I’m alone, a grin with no glance

  never to know a stroll with an heiress

    only the hold of a Volkswagen van

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Railway Deli

                       —Train to Venice, 1980

Parents packed with diaper bags; infants, kids

    stuffed like peppers in a carriage corridor

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Uniformed soldiers smoking San Miguels

    strung-up salamis, olives in a jar

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I close my itchy eyes, dream of first-class seats

    roomy leather arms, air-con breeze

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I pop a Coca-Cola, pour bubbles over ice

    prop my tired feet, sip the countryside

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But eyes blink open, burning from the stench

    thin tin can, narrow wooden bench

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Three Welcomes (Sorta)

Barcelona Old Man

Many thanks to *82 Review for publishing the following poem in their Fall 16  4.3 issue.

Tres Bienvenidos

                           —Barcelona triptych, 1980

1)  Pensione Viejo

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Corner room with noon-blue walls

   peeling plaster, thin twin bed

      old wood dresser, stuck dresser drawer

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Across the courtyard, canary in his cage

    old man, too, staring from his window sill

       old brown jacket, old brown cap

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When I bid him Buenos dias

    he tip-taps out his cigarette

      pulls the shutters shut

 

2)  Muchachas no Tocas

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 Up the Rambla, down the Rambla

   city locals selling country crafts

      wooden tables, rickety stalls

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Spanish girls strut by, thick dark ropes of hair

   eyes tagged only on merchandise

      flowers and seashells, candy and clothes

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I ask the price of a white gauze scarf

   girl behind the table yanks it from my hand

      spats at me in CatalanNo, no toquis!

 

3)  Lluevos no Quieros

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.Sidewalk table, white-coat waiter

   unfolds a fancy café menu

      basket full of sticky rolls

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I order café con leche, plate of scrambled eggs

   sit back and watch the promenade

      parade of tourists, vagabonds like me

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.The waiter brings my breakfast

   scrambled eggs over easy

      cup of coffee a cup of tea

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Three Paris Poems

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Much thanks to Forage, an online poetry presence, for publishing the following three poems in their July 2016 issue.

Rue de Tessier

                                                                           —Paris, 1980

When I first sky her, I’m all eyes

   a hovering hawk, hedonistic high

       itchy skin aflame, wings open wide

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I welcome her, unsuspecting mouse

   I’m in, I’m out; around, about

      our image on the mirror clouds

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Soon, my hunger flies away, my bloodied beak

   I look to my wrist for a reason to leave

      desire now an empty cup of tea

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Parisian Park

                                                       —April 1980

Alone in a city of choices

   culture, croissants, corner cafes

      two thousand years of touristry

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Still, no baguette can satisfy

   if I cannot just sit and feed

      quiet on this weathered wooden bench

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One small bite soon invites another

   all become familiar, all the same

      each contains its craving itch for more

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A finch alights on the edge of my bench

   cocks her hooded head, blinks an eye

      feathers ruffle up her throat—she goes

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I’m mired by these daily hikes to night

   my search for food, my thirsty mood

      send the oceans, wash me home to sea

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Still in Paris

                                                             —May 1980

Ducklings on the river Seine

   small beaks safe behind a drake

     and me—no one to follow

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Along the bustled Champs-Élysées

   people bump and humble me

      makes no difference where I go

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My father must be home across the globe

   painting or pounding inside the garage

      pruning his backyard garden

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I could pluck a pistol from my pants

   taste its barrel, suck its bitter rind

      no one home would ever know

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I pause my hunger, shut my eyes

   poked and nudged, ignored

      a stone in the bed of a river.

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Roman Cats

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Many thanks to Red Omnivore, an online literary magazine, for publishing the following poem late last year.

Gatti Romani

                                                  —at the Roman Forum, 1980

The ancient stones, the uncut grass

  skinny feral cats arching bony backs

    mincing for mice, nosing for toads

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I’m part of a pack of five loose strays

  we, too, prowling; only not for lunch

    we nose for bowls of adventure

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Brazilian shorthair, royal Persian snob

  two Texas tabbies mewing out meows

    and me, their teenage tom-tom up a tree

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Dogs who chipped and chiseled earth

  who sweat to raise these crumbling walls

    they haunt us here like last night’s rain

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Like four felines posing by a column

  clawing the air, shaking tawny tails

    our own fossils chiseled into film

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Passports packed and visas stamped

  we leave our footprints on a path

    we cede another century to cats

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Crimes Along the Côte d’Azur

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Many thanks to Route 7 Review for publishing the following poem in their May 2016 issue.

Crimes Along the Côte d’Azur

                                                                                —Spring 1980

My trespass takes me to the harbor

 big-rock jetty, cool-blue bay

  Monaco behind me, shiny gold

   casino coin glittering in sunlight

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Yachts roll in, wealthy drunks aboard

 chopped duck liver, sparkling wine and cheese

  I’m chewing cheese myself—Smiling Cow

   stolen from a store this afternoon

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Same as stolen glances, half-nude tourists

 olive-oiled breasts topless in the sun

  me a thief like those Arabs yesterday

   snapping secret photos in Antibes

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The train to Nice, a woman sleeps

 we alone in our cramped compartment

  bar of English chocolate in her bag

   gone before she bats an eye:  Merci

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I slip away from the hillside hostel

 sleepy village porches early dawn

  on one, a basket—cold milk, fresh baguette

   I snatch it like a furtive photograph

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Down by the one-clock railway stop

 I peel the paper lid, lift the chilly top

  five dumb pigeons watch me break my bread

    they peck at one another over thread

 

Weekend in Portland

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Went to visit my old friend, Amy…

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Beautiful day to cross Tilikum Bridge…

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Checked out a store with lots of cool stuff…

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Sorta felt like I was being watched…

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Gorgeous architecture out on the street…

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Lots of folks in sunny Ankeny Square…

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Street performers…

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A pro-capitalist communist…

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Amy liked this guy…

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I liked her…

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And her…

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Some were still celebrating St Pat’s Day…

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Some had been celebrating way too long…

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Way too long…

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We went home to celebrate, too…

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Ah… What’s for dinner?

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Long-Tail Taxis

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Many thanks to Marathon Literary Review for including the following poem in their June 2015 issue.

Long-Tail Taxis

                                           —Gulf of Thailand, 2012

Overcast dawn, low tide gray
..long-tail taxis bob awaiting rain
….waters to rise, to start their day

Tethered to trees, long rough ropes
..sitting still as Buddha grins
….quiet squirrels in coconut trees

One boat fat with jungle fruit
..Thai flag flapping, edges affray
….suns and moons of salty spray

I am a squirrel at a teakwood table
..curry and rice and coffee consumed
….waiting, too, for clouds to clear

That girthy garden statue squints
..always aware of this one moment
….low tide, high tide, water waist or ankle deep

Sunshine Bungalow

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Many thanks to Panoplyzine, an online literary journal, for including the following poem in their Summer 2015 issue.

Sunshine Bungalow

                                                                  –Koa Tao, 2012

No coo-coo clock, no digital chime
..no mechanical ring, no alarm
….nothing to nudge me from my dream

Only the sweep of garden leaves
..the blossoms’ breath, plumeria, weed
….my hammock on the balcony

Down the path, a match strikes a can
a knife chops chilis, oil hits a pan

One That Got Away

Girl in Venice

Thanks to Rat’s Ass Review, an online literary collective, for publishing the following poem in their Love & Ensuing Madness collection.

A Girl in Venice

                                                               —April 1980

Flocks of pigeons, people in a plaza

..camera shutters snapping souvenirs

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You step into my long-lens view

..focused face, heap of hair

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Then Ciao, Arrivederci…

..gone before I lift my eyes

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Back home, I pin your sudden grin

..to boarded cork above my bed

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Tell friends the story of your glance

..watch them bend with envy at your smile

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Today, on streets in San Francisco

..I searched for eyes to dance with mine

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Tonight, alone, our momentary spring

..blossoms on my tablet screen

 

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Poem for Mary Beth Moore

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Again, thanks to Rat’s Ass Review, an online literary collective, for including the following poem in their Love & Ensuing Madness collection.

Red Bandana

                                             —Ionian Sea, 1980

Starts at a stoop, a souvenir stand

..red bandana falls to the floor

….one lost part of me reaches for another

……an ancient ferry crossing mythic seas

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I sleep out on deck, me and the rain

..cuddled up with Mary Beth—more, more, more

….icy pellets nip us as we dream

……we hold on tight to a red bandana

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A photo of her fingers journal jotting

..sun-white pages, jeans and flip-flop feet

….that red bandana at the postcard rack

……her Texas Sally sidekick stamping beats

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I should have left them alone to graze

..to follow their maps to convents, cathedrals

….that red bandana could’ve fallen all night

……cuddled up with Mary Beth—more, more, more

Two New Thailand Poems

Front Range Review

Many thanks to Front Range Community College in Fort Collins, Colorado, for publishing the following two poems in the Spring 2015 issue of Front Range Review:

Burmese Pantoum

                                         —Sunshine Bungalows, 2001

Each morning in my bungalow

  I rise—not to songs of garden birds

    but Burmese boys on the beach

      brooms in their hands, brushing the sand

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Before I rise, I dream of Burmese birds

 sweeping last night’s fallen leaves

   brooms in their wings, brushing the sand

     evidence of last night’s hash?

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After sweeping garden leaves

 after washing clothes, after gutting fish

   after a bowl of last night’s hash

     that Burmese plucks his old guitar

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I listen after washing, bowl full of fish

 white talc smoothed across his face

   that Burmese plucks at his guitar

     sings an ocean melody

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White talc paths swept smooth each dawn

 no birds outside my bungalow

   I hear the ocean’s melody

     a Burmese boy on the beach

 

Burmese Melody

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The End of Unknown Pleasures

                                                                          —Koh Tao, 2013

 Something old, something known

     familiar, guaranteed

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Mornings of sun on a half-moon beach

     blue sarong, old white skin gone brown

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Taking the terrier out for a stroll

     same old path to the PO Box

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Soaking in claw-foot candlelight

     joint in the old tin tray

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People say, Try something new

      Go someplace you’ve never been

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That might be fine were I still young

     time on my hands, no watch on my wrist

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Now, mid-afternoon of my tan

     too aware that the sun must sleep

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I swap my dreams for pebbles

     joys I might discover on the road

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Nuggets of gold, manna from heaven

     women sunning topless on the strand

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Now even these are old and known

     even these—and so I sit and breathe

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Adios, Oroville

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For the past seven years, I’ve been driving up to the Sierra foothills every other month or so to spend a weekend with my cousin who lives like a hermit in a hillside adobe abode with a panoramic view of the northern San Joaquin Valley.  He’s moving at the end of this month, so I spent my final sunset up there this weekend.

Farewell, old friend….

A San Francisco Giants Halloween

Last night, the SF Giants won the World Series…

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Today, fans were celebrating all over town…

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A family of fans…

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Young fans…

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Old fans…

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A dad and his twin boys…

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Everyone was so happy…

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A kid with braces…

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His little sister with chicken pox…

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Grandma, too…

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The whole city was smiling…

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Except for a few Kansas City fans…

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