I looked across the valley

where a long row of camel-backed hills stood 

blanketed in living stubble, 

               painted in vibrant spring greens

its beard pine, and maple, cedar, elm and birch  

clustered in irregular blemishes 

that did nothing to the disturb 

the beauty of the whole face

and I stared at each of those monoliths

at each leaf on each tree of the forest

and I understood that each was a masterpiece

created by an artist at the top of his or her game

a masterpiece seemingly penned with a yawn

and I looked down at my hands

and I thought of all of my works 

so at odds with the world that created me

and understood that the best of them

cast in the best light

and polished to the nines

presented in frames of solid gold

would only warrant one scoffing titter

in comparison to the drafts

cast into Nature’s trash bin

I try never to compare

If I did, I would have to ask myself

what am I doing here?

First Blood

I am older than most, old enough to reach that age where many of my memories blend together, become less defined, and loose the intensities they once had.  Faces lose names, names lose places, and the meanings of certain memories meander their way out some back door of my consciousness.  

It is easy, now, to lump the people I have known and know now into the soup of my consciousness; mere ingredients that lose their ability to impress as my taste buds go as well.  Words of wisdom or of levity, experiences that once might have made some sort of difference in my life have also lost their weight.  All has become bland, colorless, without joy and life.  But I have an excuse.

All of these people, and all of the words that make up their lives are but lesser creatures, things that exist far below the realms I inhabit.  I have neither the energy nor the desire to waste my time with things inconsequential-for all of these things are of little use to me now.  One does not inquire, parading down the street, how well the ants being trampled underfoot are getting along.

Somehow, the people and memories in my soup have left a void deep within, as they out of necessity disappeared, loaded with all of the meanings and importance of their lives.  They have taken, as well, the meaning and importance of my life.  I wander these streets, alone, forgotten, with only this emptiness inside as vast as the space between stars.  The emptiness has a weight mortal men will never understand, one that sucks all other concerns, all other thoughts inwards into its nothingness.  At last I’ve become the most brittle shell of someone long gone, unrecognizable to all but myself.  There are moments when the emptiness can be held at bay, but they are few and far between.  In reality, I’ve long since become a slave to my omnipotent hunger.  

    There are moments when I’m sure it will swallow all that I am and all I was as well, as it has done with everything else in my realm.  These moments are impossible to bear, especially since I know there is a cure.

    I remember the first time I tasted blood that was not my own.  It was the blood of a young woman, lithe and full of energy, bursting at the seams with the dreams of life.  I succeeded in convincing her to lower her defenses, working on primal instinct alone, and she succumbed to my will, exposing her most sensitive regions.

    Like a tiger I leapt to the attack and tore her apart.  The sensation of having animal strength and prowess overcame me for a moment, until I tasted the first drop of her vital fluid.  There was nothing more to think or say, really.  It’s warmth was that of the sun, it was pregnant with all I lacked, and filled me more completely-that one first drop-that I could ever remember being filled.

    What should one do with arguments of morality, of right and wrong, when one has felt life’s total abundance, and all its mysteries, in but the smallest of drops of a young girl’s blood?  What is there left to say or think, really, when one has felt…that?  What other uplifting memories could one rationally expect to hold onto besides this one?

    It is the ultimate irony and the most despicable of curses that whatever positive, rejuvenating effects youthful blood might have on me is but short lived.  For my lifeless life outlasts all-everything, that is, except my hunger.

Stable Genius, A Character Study


Name: Pumpkin Ed

Appearance: see above

Personality:  Because of being kicked in the head by a mule when he was four, the only words P.E. can hear are “You’re so great, Ed!”  Also, he spends lots of time in front of mirrors, placid lakes, toilet bowls (without peeing), etc.  

History: Ed was raised by an absentee father and was always given raw meat instead of love or encouragement.  Athletically, Ed was always good at cheating and telling amazing stories about himself that were almost too good to be true and definitely were.  He got his first job as a professional backstabber on the school playground in fourth grade, which he was very successful at.  His father quickly pounced on his son’s potential and invested in the boy’s future with anything but love and encouragement.  Because of this, Ed was able to lie and cheat and steal his way through every aspect of his life-like high school, college, and marriage.  He went on to become a successful businessman in the sense that he told everyone he was an immensely successful businessman-no one checked his facts because he was loud and acted, you know, rich.  He spawned several children that are like growths in his life but are thankfully not attached to his person.

Likes and Dislikes:  Ed loves cheating and lying more than he loves breathing: just by listening to him breathe you can tell that this is no great accomplishment, though. He also enjoys being very intelligent, a fact he convinces himself of on a daily basis, and reading, as long as he doesn’t have to do it himself, or listen to someone else’s description of a book, or have anything to do with books at all.  He loves fast food and all of it’s healthy benefits, which have led him to proclaim, in the words of his doctor: “He is the healthiest person who has ever lived and doesn’t weigh a gram over 240 or strike me down where I stand plus also he is the greatest lover who ever lived and definitely not a homosexual.” He hates smart people and people who pretend that his lies are untrue.  He loves boobs and grabbing boobs, but hates listening to the things that have them.  He is considerate, generous, kind, loving, and gentle to everyone in this whole universe as long as they are named Pumpkin Ed are standing in his mirror.

Pumkin Ed says just what is on his mind, which lesser humans consider to be a virtue, but this has led him into trouble with “smart guys” which is why he hates them.  Like when he asked “Why can’t we just nuke the hurricanes?”, or “You can just grab ’em by their p_ssy”.

Pumpkin Ed is an adventurous spirit, as long as the adventures don’t mean he has to get up and do anything. His true passion lay in his desire to drive the world to its everlasting ruin, but with a dumb-ass smile on his face.


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…lessons (?) 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.