A Life Unfit To Live


Boring is a lifeless, dull, complete absence of surprises. Boring is monotony stretched like a piano wire through time. Boring is all smoothed corners and no jags. Boring is unscarred knees, music without passion, art without love. Boring is a face at sale. Boring seeks what boring is. Boring is a seethed sigh that somehow goes on for minutes…hours…days. Boring is words with Latin roots. Boring is taxes, the government, and death. Boring is the repitition of a repitition that wasn’t interesting to begin with. Boring is imagination tied up, beaten, drugged, gagged, and stuffed in a trunk.

Boring is a drowned boy, face down, lulled in the waves.

Boring is brainwashed minions.

Boring is the diarrhea on the tube, on social media, on the radio, in the movie theaters.

Boring is a mouth with nothing to say.

Who among us has the capacity to surprise,

to love without compromise,

and to revel in the pulse of life,

in the redness of blood, in the supernova of youth?

Boredom is truth, boredom is innate, boredom is the spin of the universe out of your reach.

Open your ears, open your eyes and windows-boring is the tide, and the water has risen.


Donald is a Dunce that has become the substitute teacher whose presence feels like a charley horse your brother gave you with a protruding knuckle.

We are the parents and school board awaiting the end of the period, the term, the school year, like parents awaiting the birth of their first child, but the labors go on and on, and mother feels like an ultra runner at Badwater-the 135 mile race where temps can reach 130F.

The real teacher of the class stands in the hall with a WTF look on her face, like a shopper during the Corona pandemic looking at the empty shelves where toilet paper used to be, while soothing music comes from the speakers and the store manager tells her or him that it’s only temporary, and that the shelves will be fuller than Santa’s Christmas sack before she can say “Jack Robinson” (in Sanskrit. Backwards. Through a straw…etc…).

The lessons these days are like exercises in substitute teacher-worship. Even when teacher is eating the chalk, or trying to spell his own name, or trying to drink from a bottle of water with his tiny, tiny hands, or telling the class how great the substitute teacher is for making rain fall down, it’s best to humor him, since by not doing so you run the risk of lengthening Badwater, and no one wants that.

The situation is not unlike the one England faced during the reign of George the Three, who ruled during the Revolutionary War but then had…mental issues. He would write sentences of 400 words or more, spoke for hours without pause while foaming at the mouth, and once shook hands with a tree, believing it was the King of Prussia. [On a side note, the King, even when healthy, also did not want to abolish slavery.]

England went on, after George the Three’s death, to become the greatest empire the world had ever seen, so perhaps there is hope for us yet.

The Dunce impresses us with, like…words that are similar to intelligent thought the way the Titanic is similar to a swordfish-they are both found in the ocean. His skin is just like regular skin but just by saying that I’ve shown the opposite is true. Our substitute teacher also impresses us with great peudo-feats of athletic skill like cheating at golf and wearing white while trying to cheat at tennis, looking like an etiolated eggplant, swaddled in white diaperish garments Indian yogi style-an image somehow nowhere near as ridiculous as the original. In truth his greatest skill is to set the bar, at the Olympics of Humanity, so ridiculously low that even ants would rather go over than under it, which allows him to capture first prize. He competes against no one and considers his success to be unparalleled, and as proof offers his sworn statements that everything he does is true and perfect and should be celebrated in the most bigliest fashion.

Our substitute teacher is so desperate for acknowledgement and love he will turn his mouth into a Machine of Perpetual Motion, the first of its kind to ever work. As long as there is fuel for the machine-specifically: the lack of love and acknowledgement he never got and never will from his long dead father-the class is chained to their desks, like Odysseus, forced to listen to his humility as long as their teacher doesn’t get hungry (also a possibility). In a cruel twist of fate, these Odysseuses can’t stuff their ears with wax, and are forced to sail with O! Captain! My captain! to the brink of ruin, AKA Mar-a-Lago.

There will come a time when we can all look back at this and laugh, but to get there it is possible that we may have to burn down the school, an eventuality that will surely leave us scarred, the way our ears and brains have been scarred after our substitute teacher told us he was a very stable genius.

Valiant Cowards

I’ve broken so many hearts

and misused so many words

and burned so many tarts

and clipped so many birds

As a boy I tore off crab claws

and hurt and killed with zeal and zest

and broke promises as well as laws

but stood there proudly with puffed out chest

I’ve used up all my chances

and sowed both woe and pain

and made ill-advised advances

and watched my life swirl down the drain

I’ve broken so many hearts

drank too much whiskey and wine

I’m a wizard of truly wicked arts

that distract from all the problems mine

To learn from my mistakes

would be addressing me and mine

the prospect makes my kneecaps quake

and my mouth to wheeze and whine

I would rather forego change

and pay whatever it may cost

to never have to rearrange

the fact that I am all but lost

What To Weave

I am made of heartbeats, lungsful of air

and tissues I take care to train and repair

I am made of muscles and bones

and guilt no apology ever atones

I am made of possibilities

and what the dying planet’s will decrees

I am all things good and bad

and all the memories I have had

I am made of thoughts stampeding

and many mistakes ever-repeating

I am made of my own free will

but find ways to be imprisoned still

I am made to laugh at gloom

and flash the moon upon my doom

I weave electrons upon my loom

for I was made to spite my doom

I Wish I Weren’t So OCD

I wish this title title wouldn’t be so off,

like when my daughter wore purple penguin leggings

with a rainbow striped Frotté sweater

and red patent leather shoes with giant sunflowers on them

that day to school

(it’s no wonder my eyes are failing seventeen years later)

I wish the kitchen cabinets would be properly mounted,

and all the tile grout would be parallel and evenly spaced,

and all of the handles on those cabinets would be the same size,

and that last comment had come before the tile grout one

(because it fits way better)

and I would never see anyone mix up ‘there’ or ‘their’ again

or ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, or ‘delusion’ with ‘dillusion’

(that one hurt)

and I would see no more hairs that have fallen from heads

and stuck themselves to people’s clothing

and are just hanging there, like a dangling modifier, as in the sentence:

“sleeping in the orchard, a serpent stung me”,

which causes my insides to shrivel

(the dangling modifier, not the serpent sting)

much like when I hear the words “the serpent’s sting”

for when does a serpent sting and not bite,

unless their’s a type of scorpion snake out their

which can definitely fly

if it has a ticket

and, not least but definitely not last,

I wish no one would use run on sentences

that never seem to end

they just go on forever

and ever

and ever

until the futile act of its reading, is surceased

I wish this poem would end

so I don’t have to notice that I messed up ‘theirs’

and forgot the last period.

I wish I weren’t so OCD

Craving For The Ultimate Cure-All

One can never have enough socks-Dumbledore

There is only one thing that I really crave whenever I’m sad or angry. It also seems to work when I’m hungry. Or belligerent, melancholic, or ambivalent. I’ve noticed that when I’m feeling nauseous, like after I’ve eaten too many peanuts after eating too much sausage stew (with blood!) after drinking too many Margaritas after riding the Tilt-A-Whirl, it still manages to satisfy my cravings. And you know when you’re sitting at your desk at school, and you push your chair up onto its back legs, and you start flailing your arms around and around because you might fall forwards but might also fall backwards? You know that feeling? It always seems to cure this feeling too, even if I haven’t been to school since before Vanilla Ice.

Once I was peeved because a driver cut me off on Route 95, and was honestly considering, between bouts of shouting unheard epithets, driving if necessary all the way to Florida to wreak my automotive revenge, but found shortly thereafter that a single dosage of it worked wonders.

When I awake at night, bathed in sweat, the echoes and shadows of a terrifying nightmare still webbed across my brain, there is only one elixir that returns me to a state of balance.

When I do crosswords, and have a tough time with 43 Across (or 24 Down): “All these steaks are too well done”?, I find that it works wonderfully to put things in the proper perspective.

And when people are starving in Bangladesh, or another species is being wiped out, or another disease, created and fostered by us, is running rampant, or Our Great And Exalted Leader is setting the bar at yet another all-time low, it does just fine telling me there’s no better way to start solving the world’s problems than it.

I have not found any negative feeling or situation that it can’t help or improve, and can say with great confidence that even if there were something out there that it doesn’t help, then trying to use it anyway is still definitely worth it.

What I really crave is the Potion of Motion, which has gotten us thus far, and promises to take us much further, assuming there are no headaches. There are no wonders “in heaven and Earth”, there is nothing more impressive or miraculous “dreamt of in your philosophy” than constructing “the beast with two backs”.

But “I don’t want to beat around the bush…

Foxtrot, Uniform, Charlie, Kilo…”

-with apologies to Steven Wright, Dave Barry, Vanilla Ice, Shakespeare, the Bloodhound Gang, my Mom,

and anyone else whose toes I’ve stepped on here.

A Tremendous Wave, An Incredible Gift

“My” song is 5:40 long. It has seven verses, each one either 32, 33, or 34 seconds long. They are separated by nine second intrumentals where the melody is repeated. There is some harmonica at the end. Other than that, nothing much happens. Without the words, there is almost nothing to see here, unless you happen to enjoy the melody, like me.

But oh, those words…

The piece was written at a very difficult time of the musician’s life, when his wife had left him and his family was falling apart. Whenever I hear it, I always put myself in the artist’s situation, and wonder if I could have even picked up my pen, much less written the words that send such Earth-trembling shock waves through even the most frigid and frozen souls.

I am listening to it now, with the familiar goose bumps that have appeared with each playing since I first heard this version of it, so many years ago. Nothing has changed, no element of the song’s power has been diminished.

How? How did he pull it off? How did he drag himself out his seventh, deepest circle of hell long enough to gasp for a puff of fresh air, scribble down a line or two, and descend back into the pit.? It was the pit, after all, that made those words and letters bond and take form. And the only way out of it was to sink deeper into it.

Musically, the artist has chosen a kind of a folk-rock sound that’s easy on the ear and, more importantly, very repetitive. There are no real solos-unless you count the harmonica one at the end, and the music and melody seem to roll into your ears rhythmically, like waves, bearing the ocean’s irresistable might and an armada of words that paralyze your brain. Each verse starts with a couple of acoustic guitars, an acoustic bass, and with the drummer only working the high hat with the bass drum. As the verse moves from stating facts to deeper messages, however, the drummer kicks in with the snare drum and the wave reaches a new, terrifying intensity.

When “If I Were A Boy” from Beyoncé came out, it reminded me a lot of my song. Because the musicians are merely playing a very pretty but simple melody the whole time, more attention can be paid to the words-which can be very hazardous.

The song has seven verses. Each verse has six lines, plus the title of the song at its close. Here is where the song becomes special: the seven verses have nothing to do with each other. Each one is a story that could easily be a novel that could easily be a two-hour movie. But each story ends with the title that shows, undeniably, that all of our stories are linked.

”..there’s also no sense of time. There’s no respect for it. You’ve got yesterday, today, and tomorrow all in the same room, and there’s very little you can’t imagine not happening”. -the artist said later about the lyrics.

Then there’s the language. Many artists use big words to show they’re intelligent, or “f-ck” or “sh-t” to show they’re rebellious, or they’ll use sappy words because the American audience thrives on chocolate cake lies. There is none of any of that in this song, just a whole lot of words we use all day every day, combined in a way to rip out the Titanic hull in your security, your illusion of happiness, your dreams of squeaky clean simplicity:

“…when finally the bottom fell out I became withdrawn…”

“…all the people I used to know are an illusion to me now…”

“Her folks said our lives together sure was going to be rough…”

“…rain falling on my shoes…”

“…we’ll meet again someday on the avenue…”

“… all the while I was alone the past was close behind;

I’ve seen a lot of women, but she never escaped my mind”

“…everyone of them words rang true and glowed like burning coals

pouring off of every page like it was written in my soul (from me to you)…”

These last two lines describe the singer reading his own Dante’s Inferno.

You’ll never know you’re hurting until you’ve heard these words. You’ll never know how bad it is until you’ve chewed on them, savoring their bitter taste, feeling the clunky knots descend to your gut, and feel your intestines wrestle with the truths they hold. And you’ll never, ever, be free from any of your pain unless you deal with it.

I don’t care if this song was written about 47 or so years ago. Why should that matter? The truths it contains are universal, like the characters in the song. They are each and every one of us, forging our ways through these tundras of hurt we call out lives. The truths they represent are there for us to ingest as keys; keys to unlock the true joy our lives might one day become, if we so choose, despite the obstacles.

I know a lot of people aren’t going to get it, and aren’t going to make it to this line, but I wanted to add that a lot of people aren’t going to appreciate the “rain falling on my shoes” line from above. The character in the song is standing by the side of the road when this happens, some time after “our lives together sure was going to be rough”. How does he know the rain is falling on his shoes?

He’s looking at them. What could be a more pitiful image than that? Standing on the side of the road in the middle or night watching the rain fall on your shoes?

Another underappreciated skill the artist expertly wields here in this, my most favorite Bob Dylan song, is that he tells us nothing-we’ve got to see this ourselves, create with him, and thereby work through his/our pain with him.

Which is why calling Tangled Up In Blue “my” song is a truly ridiculous notion. It’s our song now. Shout out to you Bob, you really broke the mold with this one, and gave us a priceless gift that will never overstay the need for it. He did not do this for his career, or to earn wads o’ money. He did this to accept the pain, to deal with it and try to move on, as best he could, and to show us how we could do the same.
Give the man some respect.

I know death, he weighs “239”

Death is sick-diarrhoea streams from His mouth

over an oval orange face and through tiny piggie fingers

he careens and croons through this China Shop world

thinking He be the one Most Deserved

and everything else orbits His greatness

and those that don’t respect Him are thrown from the club

and those that utter doubts about His lies are trampled underfoot

                                                    by legions upon legions of characters

for he hates   

and he lies    

and he destroys    

for death is all Death knows

and Death begets Mayhem

and Mayhem begets Pain

and Pain is the pillow underneath his sleeping skull

it rings across the vast chasms in His bulging chest

above the still-more-bulging girth below

                    that swallows and begs yet shall never be full

because His hunger will never be filled with food

I know Death and I know it well

I see its works

from His golf courses to His affairs

to the foolish wig upon His head

to the pumpkin face-paint He wears

from the endless depths of His lack of knowledge

to His robbery of the poor to pay the rich

to His seething lack of humanity

to the way He treats umbrellas

Death cloaks itself with night

    because it has no use for all things light

Death is creaky and boned

    His goodness has been filed and honed

Death is tall and wields the blade

    His father’s insults to evade

I know Death and I know it well:

    Death is the mouth of the Nightmares we tell

Yes I know Death, I know it well:

    For Death is the Price of the dreams we sell

I can only pray for one thing more:

that Death’s ugly reign ends at four


My favorite quote of all time is “Huh?”, which is what William H. Macy answers when asked “What kind of finder’s fee are you looking for (you tube: Fargo (1996) – A Finder’s Fee Scene (4/12) | Movieclips)?”  I’ll admit the quote is not as powerful if you don’t see his face, but coupled together the reaction is sublime.  

    Jerry Lundergard is all of us.  We’re trapped in our own little dramas and futile attempts at making mountains from molehills, and all it takes is a simple question to make us look like utter buffoons.  Our lives, that we deem as incredibly important, mean so little in the grand scheme of things.  Ask the bird on the tree branch, singing every morning, if he’s worried about COVID 19.  

    The Coen brothers have done this before.  In Raising Arizona, a prisoner in group therapy is asked by the prison psychologist/ex-hippie why he uses the word ‘trapped’, to which his deeply wise reply was: “Huh?”  I thought, back in 1987 (!) that the bar could not be raised any higher, but the Fargo scene just took this to a whole ’nuther level-it’s why the Coen brothers are so great.

    The next time your’re worried about a midterm, or a job interview, or the quarterly reports, or if Agent Orange will be reelected, remember this quote-it’ll put things in the proper perspective.

I Know Milk, But…

I know these sharp corners

and those serrated edges

and the logic of black ink on white page

and the spin of whitewalled rubber down potholed streets

and the piercing of the skies by our scrapers

and the scatching of the heavens by plane,

like fingernails on the inside of a coffin

and classrooms and boardrooms and meetings

and information and facts

and beltbuckles

or the foreboding ordered tanglements of a noose

and the Indy 500 and the Indy 500 and the Indy 500

and taxes and accounts and fractions and numbers themselves.

I know definitions and meanings and synonyms and opposites

and the price of a gallon of milk

the price of a gallon of milk.

I know the price of this gallon of milk,

but I will never know the shape of wind,

the path of the moth,

or this thing, alone in our world



A masterpiece aflutter-

but with the strength to travel 2500 miles (a fact).

I will never know the butterfly,

which is why my heart beats