Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Why Didn't I Say That?

I am normally quite slow, nay, absolutely begrudgingly snailish about offering or recommending someone else's writing. I know, I know... duhhh.

The URL offered above is the exception to the Church Doctrine of Hesitant Advice. Mark Morford is a columnist for an obscure little San Francisco website called Over the past several years, his offerings have kept me grounded in a world that has lost all grounding. His work is witty, funny, avant garde, sometimes shocking and always instructive in a non-instructive mode. He is maybe the most honest, unabashedly unapologetic critic of the Beltway and Americana that I have ever read. His words sparkle with a gleam created by anarchy, fueled with protein-packed conviction and coated with the sweetness of pure spirituality-- with a bounteous dose of iconoclastic altruism thrown in to add a touch of spice to his magical wordfests.

Honestly, I feel his work should be required reading for any writer. Regardless of your agreement or disagreement with his political stances, after reading his columns you will possess a new appreciation for phrasing and nuanced meaning. Give him a look... I promise it will not be a waste of your time. If you're anything like me at all, I suspect you'll soon subscribe and receive his work in your e-mail, like I do. (Did I mention that it's free?)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Alpine Rodeo

Moss rock, creation’s paint pony, I long to ride your slippery saddle,
tugging toeholds of mint, watching sun-glint vapors dance on icy flow,
hands outstretched to grab the air as I fall, to right myself once and for all

before my once-proud form fails to last the eight-second ballet.

What the hell did you just say?

Well, the calendar says it’s time for the next addition to my little _______ (insert your own nomenclature for ‘column’; I realize that it fits no universally accepted definition). So, despite my trepidation that I may be creating it for the purview of only a handful of intrepid readers who either maintain their blind loyalty to me or simply have nothing better to do at the time, I shall press on. In either case, I'm grateful to you.

Long ago I accepted my fate as a writer whose style/subject matter lacks the dignity, character and/or redeeming social value to create wide-spread appeal or gain universal acceptance. I have no desire to write user-friendly prattle or ‘make nice’ fiction playing to the emotions of readers who insist upon being spoon-fed their entertainment with a minimum of effort on their part. But, in my heart of hearts, I continue my labor of love because I still think that there may be a few of you with the ability to read between the lines, a smattering who understand the shades of gray lurking around the edges of any subject.

Yes, I understand that my sentences tend to be convoluted; yes, I know that my examples tend to be non-linear in scope; yes, I get it that some of you think I’m trying to talk down to you—guilty, guilty, guilty. Truth is sometimes no more than the absence of preconception.

So, if you come here looking for the same thing, day in and day out, you’re going to be disappointed. Sorry. Often, I dedicate my ‘whatever this is’ to topics that come to mind in dreams; sometimes I feel so strongly about an ignorant statement by a politician that I cannot help but pillory him by trying to expose his buffoonery; occasionally I have a thought that creates a sound in my mind that won’t go away and I feel compelled to share its alliteration. I apologize for none of them and refuse to change my style one single whit for anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Okay, my rant complete, I return control of your senses to you, hopefully uninjured. As always, thanks for stopping by. If you like what you read, come back. If not, go watch television, I’m sure Matlock or Friends is playing somewhere if you’re willing to flip around a little.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The 1-2-3 Rule

Am I the only kid in the world who grew up with a mother who employed the “1-2-3 Rule”? I never hear of it these days, and feel a little sadder because of it. It was extremely effective for behavior control, largely because of its emphasis on consequences for one’s actions. So effective, in fact, that for many years past my adolescence, even when judging the actions of others as well as myself, I would witness behavior I found unacceptable and expect to have someone raise one, two or three fingers in response.

My mother’s (or father’s) first raised finger was a warning: Any further occurrences of the behavior in question would not be tolerated without penalty. If the behavior were so heinous or dangerous as to not warrant a warning, she would immediately raise two fingers.

Step 2 dictated that immediate action would always be taken, the implementation of whatever form of corporal punishment s/he deemed appropriate. Depending on the age of the child and the degree of the offense, the penalties also varied, but always included an element of punishment intended to bring about immediate discomfort, embarrassment or penalty necessary for behavior modification without any further repeat performances.

The raising of three fingers symbolic of Step 3 subjected the offender to instant bĂȘte noire or anathema—not dissimilar to the practice of shunning by some Amish sects. You instantly became a social leper, a foul carrion-breath harbinger of evil who should go to his room, never again to bask in the sunshine of family and friends until she’d decided that you were either dead or wishing you were.

I can only remember one such Step 3 penalty. It lasted one entire weekend during the World Series, a weekend I spent in my room; not one meal did I eat with my family, not one phone call from a friend did I receive, and my trips to the bathroom were monitored by my mother’s continual presence with a time limit of three minutes to take care of everything necessary. What’s worse, I wasn’t allowed to speak to her for any reason for an entire week. Any inquiries directed toward her had to be taken by emissary—normally my younger sister—as vile a prospect as a twelve-year-old boy could possibly imagine. If I sat down at the dinner table she would take her meal in the kitchen, if I sat down on the living room couch to watch TV she’d do her ironing in the den, because I hadn’t shown her the respect due a boy’s mother by forcing her to Step 3.

I’m not saying that the 1-2-3 Rule will cure all the world’s evils, but I am living proof that it helped keep one guy in particular out of prison.

I've long understood my wife's love of art. Often I heard her remark that someday, after the kids are grown, she'd like to take some drawing classes. So I encouraged her to find her muse and seek instruction in the finer points of the craft and she enrolled in a class dedicated to drawing the human form.

Now, ordinarily, I wouldn't question her activities in any realm, much less an innocent art class. However, given the vagaries of masterpiece shown above, I must admit that I did inquire as to her (conceptual) grasp of the male anatomy. In my fifty-plus years on the planet, I can't recall reading of any medical malady that might produce the 'violin-head' condition depicted in her work. Especially troubling was her response to my inquiry. With a broad, enthusiastic smile she said: "Oh, that? I was just fiddling around."

I don't know whether to be shocked at her boldness or amused by her wit.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cave La Faux

I’m not sure it would qualify as a cave if held to standards established by experts in the field of spelunking, but at the moment I was grateful for its presence, nonetheless. The enclosure, barely large enough to stand in at its entrance and narrower and shorter as it progressed into the side of the mountain, offered visual horizons only barely recognizable once the earth subverted the sun’s intrusive powers of illumination. But, it didn’t stink and I didn’t immediately witness the presence of any bears, snakes, bats or scorpions, so my gratitude abounded. The storm raged outside, with near-horizontal torrents of rain attacking the countryside, attempting to remove yet another layer of earth from the already-pocked and weathered limestone and sandstone base laid down during the Permian cataclysms.

Muted thunderclaps echoed somewhere in the background, an eerie presence underscoring my plight. As I watched from the safety nature provided, I wondered if this would be the storm that finally weakened the cave’s structure enough to close its adit and bring about my final communion with the elements. Then, I grinned a little at my foolishness and acknowledged my arrogance—this cave had outlasted countless storms of just this sort during the last twenty million years or thereabouts and this would be the one to destroy it precisely because of my presence. Yea, right…what a moron. The odds against my eminent demise were far shorter for snakebite, bear mauling, or even amoebic dysentery, but I worried about a cave-in. Just like me, I’m not proud to admit. The intoxicating power of hyperbole never wanders far from my recognition.

How many men had shared this enclosure with me or, for that matter, how many bears? I thought about looking for petrified stool samples that may have been left, but I got a little sidetracked, temporarily, trying to remember the scientific name for bear-droppings. What was it I’d heard them called on National Geographic Presents? Dung? Poop? Spoor, maybe? There I was on the precipice of the unknown, perhaps only inches short of a scientific discovery that could net me widespread renown and riches I’d never known, and I’m worrying about an adequate euphemism for shit. How very typical… probably fitting given my history.

I wasn’t exactly lost, the Anasazi trail was well marked and I held high hopes of finding it again if the damn rain would ever let up. Plus, I understood that if I just kept heading east, sooner or later I’d run into Mesa Verde and the safety of communion with fellow humans.

Then I saw them. On the upper surface of the dimly lit rock wall, I recognized stick-figure humans and beasts resembling bison, framed by ceremonial depictions of characters I didn’t recognize; religious offerings, perhaps, drawn by some lost Paleolithic hunter?

I stood as well as I could, hunched over slightly so as not to bump my head, and reached out to touch them, the first modern man to touch previously undiscovered art treasures of a lost civilization. I took my knife from my pocket and opened the blade. They wouldn’t miss one little piece.

“Hey, you!” the voice called to me, “Get your ass out of that exhibit!”

Honestly, I don’t understand their harsh consternation. If they didn’t want us to fantasize a little, perhaps the museum staff should erect glass barriers to prevent the public from enjoying the experience to its fullest. Sheesh… another ten bucks shot to hell. Somebody's getting a letter, this time...

Bob Church©1/27/07

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Virtue, Thy Name Is Teresa

There is no single definition for a life well lived, I suppose. Yet we, as the human core, tend to make value judgments regarding virtues such as creativity, kindness, courage and accomplishment, according to our own individual background and upbringing and then transfer these value judgments to the whole of humanity. That’s where the trouble begins.

For all our high-flown floribunda of beatitudes, we’re slow to abandon our primal instincts when push comes to shove. We are a complex, exotically decorated, intricately fabricated crazy quilt of hypocrisy wrapping virtually all issues effecting our welfare, politics and the comportment of our daily lives.

We tend to emulate (dare I say sanctify?) those most visible in our lives, especially if they engender physical characteristics we personally find in short supply and covet; trim waistlines, perfect hair, lovely singing voices, rock-hard abs, bodacious cleavage and/or all the above. But how do we react when one of our media darlings gets caught hurling racial epithets or one of our princes of the gridiron shoots his chauffeur during a drug-crazed episode? In spite of mountains of evidence to the contrary, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murdering two people because twelve people wanted to punish a racist cop.

Often, virtue chooses anonymity, for without it, virtue assumes instability not unlike that of an ion of radioactive material exposed to a catalyst; it loses components of its power when irradiated. To illustrate my point, I offer the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, arguably the most virtuous human of the Twentieth Century. She sought nothing except the ability to feed, clothe, house and heal millions of sick and dying children. By shunning the limelight, by refusing the trappings of celebrity, by relying on her faith in her creator, she accomplished more than all the ‘celebrities’ in history.

So if you’re looking for virtue in your life, do it quietly, do it piously, do it in emulation of Mother Teresa of Calcutta; close your mouth, open your wallet and send a few twenties to someone whose efforts you admire or someone who just needs a little help. It’ll do you a lot more good than full sexy lips or a visit to your plastic surgeon.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Montana Dreaming

I woke up this morning in a rather inquisitive mood, a condition not totally foreign to me but, nevertheless, a digression from the norm. I gave due consideration to the headlines on The New York Times website, listened to CNN’s coverage of world news in the background, and perused various blogs for mind candy. My mind is never far from existing in a giant vacuum, but today disaster threatened—when it came to me.

If I could be a giant hunk of earth (and this would be highly desirable), I’d choose to be Montana.

Aside from the lakes, mountains and allotment of beautiful scenery, Montana is a minimalist’s dream. Montana claims the 4th largest land area in our country, and ranks 44th in population. If I were to realize my dream, I’d probably make it rough enough on the remaining population that I’d eventually rank 50th, but for the time being I’m willing to settle for 44th. Anywhere that grizzly bears, elk, wolves, coyotes, mule deer, buffalo and various species of trout outnumber humans a thousand to one is geography worth claiming.

A bit of research yielded a treasure trove of minutia in this regard, just the sort of ammunition no dedicated curmudgeon could resist. Did you know that the list of famous Montanans claims only sixteen entries? Five actors, two writers, one daredevil, one football player, one economist, one newscaster, one labor union official, one filmmaker, one choreographer, one comedian and the first woman ever elected to Congress. Further, eleven of the sixteen are deceased, and none presently call Montana home, a fact that makes it even more attractive. Thankfully, no Montana cities associate their existence with the fame of one of their native sons, unlike a certain Missouri city located on the Mississippi River that shall remain nameless, the city that continues to rip off Mark Twain’s citizenship, despite the fact that history and his own writing testify that he abhorred the place and seldom returned once his boyhood days had passed.

However, I considered all the aforementioned reasons for being Montana to be supplemental at best. My prime motivation for being Montana is that it is the last state in the Union that the National Basketball Association would ever consider investing in a franchise. I could spend the rest of my existence concentrating on issues centered on the environment and wildlife without the blight of physically abnormal, misfit freaks of nature in gaudy satin shorts cavorting about an arena in Helena or Missoula.

But, it’s just a foolish dream.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Looking Back

Did you lay aside your own personal chunk of secret time? Is there a closet or cubbyhole or nook or attic somewhere filled with boxes of age-browned snapshots and newspaper clippings about friends and/or dead presidents, football heroes who finally won a Super Bowl, LSD-inspired paisley album covers from rock bands whose names you no longer remember but were very important at the time, a silver spoon with the Space Needle on the handle that Mother brought back from the World’s Fair in 1960? Are the boxes sitting on that putrescent-brown, funny-smelling couch that no one has perched a butt on in over thirty years, the one that your grandmother let you jump on when Mom wasn’t looking, the one that still contains dog hair from Pepe, the chihuahua who lived to be twenty and ate ground beef three times a day, the sofa you’ll keep forever just because she gave it to you?

If you haven’t, I highly recommend you do so… while you still can. Here’s the recipe: Grab all your friends and relatives, invite them over for a party, ply them with copious amounts of alcohol and snap photos until your finger falls off. Repeat as often as necessary until you’re absolutely sure that you have memories that not even time can erase. Store in an un-vented room for thirty years or until your heart cannot stand it another second without partaking. Then, when your mind and your soul weary of life, when circumstances threaten to overwhelm you, find your way to your secret spot and open that box… sit on that couch and feel the years. Know your friends again as they were… as you were. There amidst the tie-dye t-shirts and your father’s WWII campaign ribbons, I promise you there will come a time when it will provide a bitter-sweetness unrivaled by anything else. Better yet, you’ll open a window unto yourself and the acrid stench of loneliness will disappear.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Conjugating the Passive Proverb

In a complex, sophisticated world of rapidly changing socio-political struggle, few among us would dispute the wisdom of sequestering a representative aliquot of concrete material means dedicated to and reserved for unforeseen diurnal emergencies relating to copious amounts of naturally occurring aqueous compounds descending from the lower regions of earth’s upper atmosphere. Or, if you insist, we ought save for a rainy day.

That’s it… you can go to work now. Thanks for stopping by this morning. Kindly deposit your trash in the designated receptacle and be sure to tip your server.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lurking Just Inside…

I’ve received a request. A young writer wrote and asked me to reveal why I write “like that”. Strangely, I understood the request and even stranger, I felt compelled to respond. I'm sure you'll be disappointed to hear that my mother did not drop me on my head, although I did spend more than a little time playing football without a helmet; however neither situation adequately answers the question. ‘You’ are basically nosy, I think; interested in knowing why I would be content with writing stories that contain little by way of socially redeeming value, why I seem to lack the desire to force my prose into tightly structured little boxes. I sense you sitting there in your chairs, expecting me to write something you might be interested in reading… it’s always about you, isn’t it? It isn’t enough for me to merely make some statements about some innocuous event, person or situation and expect you to assign value to it without some credible context because you have needs, man; you don’t want to waste your valuable time on tomfoolery, no matter how well-expressed it might be, am I right?

I’m aware that most of you consider quasi-versification outside the realm of ‘poetry’ heretical; and the presentation of alliterative or other roughly structured prosodic elements in the context of ‘prose’ unfit for the heterodoxy of thematic composition, except when it occurs as the result of bona fide attempts at poesy as a sub-text or stand-alone quote.

Rubbish, I say… for there exists within the beating heart of any prosemeister the occasional desire to cling tighter to his reins and challenge his inner steed to run with the wind, caring not whether the work calls for caution of enterprise or circumspection of intent, but riding closer to the edge and leaning over his flanks for a closer look at the abyss before returning to the safety of convention. Only then, nostrils flaring and hot blood coursing through expanded envelopes of pseudo-reality, can unfettered art find a home on its canvas.

So chide me if you will—mock me if you must—but somewhere within, you know I’m right. If you’re interested, I have one piece of advice for any writer: Leave the safety of acceptance and you will find a new world so complex, so appealing, so goddamn interesting… that you won’t want to leave. Never again will you be satisfied to tell someone else’s story in someone else’s terms; never again will you accept normality as a hallmark nor universal acceptability as a precept. Don’t describe a character’s life or actions, but help me experience his dreams. I promise your writing will fly like never before—with or without a few extra illusory similes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Are There Any 'T's?"

“Dr. Abercrombie, wake up, sir…”

Rutherford Whitbread Abercrombie, MD slept at his desk, oblivious to her voice. The jungle heat and humidity had once again overcome him, though it was barely mid-evening. Nurse’s Aide Bomidgie Hatamagunda lovingly slid her ham hock-like hand under the doctor’s face, lifting it from the desk, while the other hand gently patted his cheek.

“Please wake up, Doctor… it’s time for the Wheel of Fortune television program… you know how unpleasant you become when you miss an episode. The wonderful Mr. Pat Sajak and the lovely Miss Vanna White are in Las Vegas this week, Doctor…”

When it became apparent the rotund physician wasn’t responding, Miss Hatamagunda picked up the ewer of wine coolers situated next to the doctor’s cup and poured it over his head. Once again, in the absence of any movement, she non-verbally assessed the situation and contemplated her next action. The many first aid courses he’d given her were still hazy in her mind, despite her best intentions to retain them. What would he do under such circumstances? What was it he’d done when they’d pulled Kalula Behatra, unconscious, from the watering trough?

Quickly, in recognition of her memory, she picked up the telephone, punched a few buttons and spoke, her arms flailing in animation.

The walk from the desk to the couch, barely a dozen steps, caused Bomidgie Hatamagunda to gasp for breath as she plopped her girth onto the cushions. Some days, she just didn’t think she was cut out to be a Nurse’s Aide. She’d barely had time to press the button on the remote when the uniformed orderlies ran in. Her raised finger pointing at the doctor, she guided them to him, never once looking away from the suspended TV set.

Feverishly, the pair worked, moving the doctor to the floor and performing CPR.

Bomidgie Hatamagunda could hear dull thumps in the background. Then… nothing except the sound of equipment being rolled across the tiled floor. Two muted voices alternately gave instructions until she heard “Kwarlik!” Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Dr. Abercrombie’s body jump as the current passed through him. Again the voices… and the thud.

On the screen, Pat Sajak gave the wheel a spin, informing the audience and participants that consonants were now worth $700 and vowels (of course) were worth nothing. Yea, just like poor Dr. Abercrombie’s chances, Bomidgie Hatamagunda supposed. Now, who would pay for the cable? In a field hospital in Naganda, a certain Nurse’s Aide wished she hadn’t wasted those tasty wine coolers on the good, albeit deceased, doctor.

A Day Inside The Invisible Box

I've long considered mimes to be the absolute bottom of the entertainment food chain, and have written many derisive pieces in their regard. In a recent analysis session, my therapist and I discussed, at length, my antagonism toward pantomime and tried to identify the basis for my hostility. Toward the end of our hour, she suggested that I spend some time in researching the art in hopes of better understanding and defeating my prejudice.

I gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that an honest effort could only help, even if I was unable to ultimately totally accept it. In defiance of advice given me by my spouse (or perhaps because of said advice), I decided to send away for a course designed to teach me the art of mime.

I know, I know...

For $75 (plus tax, shipping and handling), I received a beautifully adorned box containing six blank CD's.

Did I mention that I hate mimes?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Isthmus, O my Isthmus

I love the sound of the word 'isthmus'. The marriage of those two syllables is blessed by elegance and demanding of attention. I have no idea what the sixteenth century Greeks wordsmiths were envisioning when they made up the word isthmos, but the Romans liked it enough to steal it for their own craven use, swine that they are. Admittedly, they did change one letter to throw everyone off, those clever etymologists. It actually takes a little talent to say it properly. 'Isth'… it demands that you pay attention. It’s very easy to omit the ‘s’ sound, under penalty of lisping. If you commit this sin, you might just as well go ahead and butcher the last syllable, too, and pronounce it 'ithmuth'. Perhaps then you could askth Thanty Clauth to bring you an ithmuth for Chrithmuth.

But I digress…

Evidently the Greeks understood the beauty of this word, because succeeding generations give it the singular praise of being named before any proper name which it identifies: 'the Isthmus of Panama'… 'the Isthmus of Kra'. One never hears anyone say 'the Mountains of Rocky' or 'the Lake of Tahoe'. No, isthmuses are very special, indeed.

Since the dawn of time, civilizations have immortalized their favorite words and concepts by capturing them in verse. Inspired by this knowledge, I’ve decided to craft my own memorial to the most beautiful of all words. While I’m certainly not Lord Byron, I offer my soliloquy of praise:

Isthmus, o ye strip of land so comely,

so deserving of the praise ye raise,
connector of masses and surrounded by water,
ye bastion of freedom’s holy balustrade.

Whether Panama or Darien,
Karelian or Kra,
you’re generally found somewhere else,
than Kansas or Omaha.

Vast as all the oceans,
or just a tiny speck,
you’re magnificent as all hell
o, regal Tehauntepec!

I really should stop now. I think I just felt a tear...

Oven Burns On My Zeitgeist

Today, of course, is our nation’s observance/celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life. Since many businesses, most governmental facilities and my own employer have given their workers the day off, I am currently dicking around on the clacker, unsuccessfully pursuing a worthy use of my time. Although this may not come as news to anyone who’s read my work more than once, I feel it bears repeating: I tend to get side-tracked rather easily.

I’m not wired like most people, I don’t think. At this point, I could give you any number of self-effacing witticisms to illustrate the point, such as His elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top or His deck is missing a couple of face cards, and who could forget the immortal He’s two members short of a quorum (sorry, it’s the only political example I can come up with on short notice). However, the amperage of my circuitry’s load-bearing capabilities doesn’t effectively relate my cognitive problems as well as the arrangement of said pathways. I simply contain too many dead-ends where ideas either die or flop over onto other already-overloaded ideas, producing gibberish, cross-contamination of thought or both.

To wit, I give you some opening lines of stories I wrote:

“So, the family and I sat at our Christmas dinner table, Mother reading correspondence from family members not able to attend, and in between soup and salad courses, recounting Aunt Clara’s prolapsed uterus and resultant emergency hysterectomy.”

“I’ve never liked being born on Christmas. Frankly, it’s pretty tough to get any attention when you’re competing with the Savior of the World, know what I mean? And how would you like to spend the better part of your birthday in church, for God’s sake?”

“Thinking all was lost I closed my eyes. Lost for days in a veritable plantation of ennui, the lush overgrowth of tedium threatening to choke me, with no breeze of inspiration to cool me, I made my peace with the Muses and prepared for the end.”

“Nurse’s Aide Bomidgie Hatamagunda lovingly slid her ham hock hand under the doctor’s face, lifting it from the desk, while the other hand gently patted his cheek.”

“The second law of thermodynamics, a fundamental scientific principle stating that entropy increases over time as organized forms decay into greater states of randomness, should be repealed.”

No, there can be no doubt, I just ain’t right, somehow. But, as long as I can afford the cost of High-Speed DSL and electricity to make it operate, I intend to continue confounding you with… well, with whatever my prose might be called—unless, of course, someone has me committed. That might set me back a little, even if it did offer some psychiatrists a worthy challenge.

I'm not going away... deal with it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Good morning (The Warning)

Good morning, babies… I trust your slumber rewarded the expenditure of time you devoted. I shall only, in passing, mention that most of us spend a full 33% of our time on earth in a semi-comatose state, although admittedly the percentage could go as high as 40 or as low as 24, if only sleep is considered. It’s the other roughly 66% (give or take) that I should like to address at some length this morning, the hours when most of us expect something of value to be produced as reward for our labors, hopefully in a ratio concomitant with our efforts.

Now, I fully realize that the pressures of adulthood in a republic such as ours can produce egocentric trauma for the most stalwart among us, and it would not be out of the question for me to turn a blind eye to occasional non-productive dalliances from anyone honestly giving his or her best efforts at self-support. However (and this is a BIG however), if I catch you trying to get your groove on with a child, I shall be forced to hunt you down and eliminate you like the monster that you are because you are the enemy of all humanity. You do damage in ways that your feeble little brain could never understand, ruining tender lives before they ever have the opportunity to make the same adult choices you enjoy, sick bastard that you are.

I am sick to death of hearing the stories about you and your escapades. So if you’re one of the closet scumbags who make children his prey, beware. Someone will root you out from under the compost heap where you ‘live’, and make you pay. I can’t imagine that you could ever enjoy your 33% if you have any conscience whatsoever, but know that when you lay your head on that rock you call a pillow, someone is trying to find you. Then, every time you log on to that special website to troll for kiddies, remember that CutesyBigEyes69, that 12-year-old girl you’re communicating with, just may be your worst nightmare. Load up your truck with toys and let’s meet, shall we? I’ll see to it that you get a little more education. You've made it abundantly clear that you don't intend to stop... so don't get on my radar or I promise that you'll have a very bad day.

Well, I see that the sun is coming up, so I guess it's probably time for you to say nightey-night. Sleep well, perv, because we're coming for you.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Wordsmith’s Lament

Writer without a story to tell,
Stuck down here in Writer’s Hell,
telling tales ‘bout men with one dimension
and lives filled up with made-up tension,
trying to jump off the pages
and falling flat on their faces.

Now I know what my teachers meant
when they launched my bleak experiment,
scientific method would be damned
and hypotheses could then expand,
but arithmetic means to geometric scenes
left my heroes stuck somewhere in between,

characters whose interaction
serve as addition by subtraction.

Write, write, write at a frenetic pace,
dropping adverbs all over the place,
describe, depict, be sure to stay active,
keep your boys all smart and girls attractive;
inject your prose with superstitions,
don’t end your thoughts with prepositions.

Be professional, goddammit all,
With every single word you scrawl,
turn lemons into lemonade,
devil’s in the details (or so they say),
make every emotion heaven-sent
and load your stories with denouement.

I started out with intentions best,
who better than me to pass the test?
I’d soon have a big fat 3-book deal,
Escalade with chauffeur at the wheel,
Why didn’t I foresee this mess,
After all, ain’t I a genius?

Somehow it all went down the shitter,
but I plod on, I ain’t no quitter,
it’s a story I now know too well,
stuck down here in Hack Writer’s Hell
writin’ poems with lousy cadence
aren’t a pleasure—they’re a sentence.

Yea, I know the last line doesn’t rhyme—sue me.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Shingled House

Shingled house, shingled house,
sitting in the glen,
won’t you open up for me
and let me walk on in?

Surely you can tell that
I’m a very weary man,
I’ve picked these wild grapes today
and stuck ‘em in this can.

My eyes aren’t what they once were
I’m sorry as hell to say,
things tend to get all blurry
now towards the end of day.

Blemishes are blemishes
whether shingles, wood or skin,
and make no other statements
of quality held within.

So I won’t hold it agin’ you,
If you’ll do the same for me,
will you kindly grant me entrance
in the spirit of amity?

I promise not to bother
any treasures found inside
I won’t snoop in any cabinets
Though I might tarry fireside

And turn a page of structured prose
from bookshelf on your wall
I’ll try to make some sense of it
With no guarantees at all.

Then, hopefully, I’ll end my day
midst human apprehensions
just dreaming of my shingled house
with perfect glen dimensions.

Who Knew?

I learned a valuable lesson this weekend.

It turns out that no retailer will sell you a handgun if you’re sobbing.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Gate

The blanched white gate testified to Mother Wind’s foul mood, its great sodden weight allowing only a soft thud each time it contacted the sculptured fence post. In rhythm with each gust, it offered a muted tympanic response commensurate with its mood. Gravity and the ravages of time pulled at the rusted hinges, their erstwhile galvanizing now reduced to orange iron with loosened bolts, threatening to give up the ghost all altogether, offering to allow passage to anyone wishing to enter—or exit. Once it might have resisted, once it could have confounded all but the most stalwart, but now it seemed content to accept its lot along with that of its neighbor structures, for nothing remained to protect. She would exact her revenge, along with her Sisters, Rain and Snow; She would bring her children home to be prepared for their re-birth. But first, She would let them stand as reminders to all who would attempt their own metamorphoses with elements they leased from Her. They would pay dearly for their folly, in ways they could never understand. The blanched white gate swung both ways until it would be forever stopped.

Friday, January 05, 2007

"Tell me a story, Uncle Dodo"

Certified letter has just informed me that the new congress has just passed a bill making Randolph County, Missouri the 51st state. Calling it ‘Assholia’, they revealed that their singular intention in taking this action was to make me the state bird.

Even the stars weep for my plight, which offers me little comfort given that their tears are composed primarily of excruciatingly hot interstellar plasma.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Okay, but is it art?

Story-Man Blues

Scaddely-womp a boo-bomp, da skat-man do,
Whatever the hell he want to do,
And he done do it to me and you,
Biddley-bomp a woo-womp, what you gon’ do?

Scribbley-scree a shomp bomp, da blin’ lady sing,
Da tunes she be a-hearin’ out dat skat-man’s strings,
But she don’ know the pleasure dat her singin’ brings,
Wobbley-domp a shoo-shomp, she tell’d de tale on tings.

Shingley-dingley doo-domp, ol’ Bristow ring de bell,
He just sit real quiet-like and den he raises hell,
A’bangin’ and a’clangin, dat man he dance so well,

Boogely-bee a womp-bomp, what a tale da man do tell.

Rural Epigraph #2

Craven as a metal curtsey, sordid as a plastered Guernsey,
shingled low so it don’t blow
off the roof tomorrow.

Cudgeled slick as powdered marrow,
he flicked his bic—had shoats to farrow,
little did he know

that Jimmy frocked the back porch swing
with honey buzzards on the wing
and angels in the snow.

Pentagrams From Home

As anyone can plainly see,
I fear the girl has sphinctered me
despite my futile, plaintive plea
I now must squat to take a pee.

She tied my manhood in a knot
bound and gagged me on the spot
beside a verdant garden plot

and left me in the woods to rot.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Shakespeare to Clapton to Church

It’s time, once again, for a bombardment of expository language dedicated to nothing yet strangely cohesive in its ability to serve as a buffer between the icy cold grasp of technology and the passionate warmth of inessential doggerel. What writer or critical reader can resist the resonance created by words frolicking together, irrespective of juxtaposition or implied meaning? Do you suppose Shakespeare could possibly not have enjoyed the anticipated reaction from penning such lines as “Nor heaven nor earth have been at peace to-night: Thrice hath Calpurnia in her sleep cried out, 'Help, ho! They murder Caesar!' Who's within?” and then just sitting back in his chair to wait? Impossible for me to imagine that he would not.

You see, it’s the meaning, yes, but more, it’s the sound. Were it only the meaning, there would be absolutely no reason for actors to spend hour upon fleeting hour calling to memory such passages as Hamlet’s Soliloquy. If the aural reproduction was naught but connection from point A to point B, it could just as well be done in silence, for the meaning would be just as valid in either case.

Case in point: You’ve just read the following passage from a song:

The gypsy woman told my mother
Before I was bornI got a boy child's comin'
He's gonna be a son of a gun
He gonna make pretty womens
Jump and shout
Then the world wanna know
What this all about
But you know I'm him
Everybody knows I'm him
Well you know I'm the hoochie coochie man
Everybody knows I'm him

The words are right out there in front of you; you’ve heard them before and you may even remember enough of the tune to hum a few licks. Then, you open the door to your CD player, drop in Eric Clapton’s From The Cradle and play “Hoochie Coochie Man”, and while Clapton effortlessly glides across his frets, he transports you to a smoky little bar in Nachez Parrish where you drink bad whiskey and sing along and strum your air guitar while you wish the lady in the red dress sitting on your buddy’s lap would notice you, too.

Unintentionally, I just defined the essential difference between novel and screenplay, essay and poetry. All supply us with essentially the same information, if information is all we seek, but to be performed skillfully, it requires us to employ all of our senses.

But I digress…

Birth, Dearth and Derision

I’m a bit farklempt this morning as I gag down yet another bowl of oatmeal in my quest to gain better health if not disposition. Sadly, it would seem that, at least for some of us, the two concepts do not ride happily in the same back seat. There would seem to exist some great Cosmic Contradiction prohibiting humans from being healthy and happy at the same time.

Keep cholesterol levels below established healthy norms, exercise vigorously for optimal cardio-vascular function, limit caloric intake to physician-established levels, get regular check-ups and cancer screenings for heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, genitals, pancreas, stomach, colon and skin, avoid trans-fatty acids, limit alcohol consumption to standards established by The Women’s Christian Temperance Union, don’t smoke (anything), plant trees, go to church, give generously to the charities of your choice, spend time with residents at a pensioners’ center, adopt a couple of puppies and kittens from the pound and go door-to-door insisting that your neighbors do likewise, send money to tele-evangelists for reasons you don’t fully understand but it doesn’t hurt to cover all the bases… and you might live to a ripe old age.

Or, then again, you might wake up with a ripping headache (the result of a night spent drinking shots out of the navel of a woman you met only yesterday), stagger toward the bathroom where a missile of blue ice launched from the toilet of a passing airliner blasts through your poorly-maintained roof, strikes you on the head and offers a permanent solution for your cranial distress.

For all of us the destination is the same, and hard as we may try, there are no guarantees of longevity. Yes, I’ll eat the damn oatmeal, but don’t confuse the destination with the journey. I’m still looking for that lady with the cute little bellybutton.