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Jan. 10th, 2018



Well, it’s another new year, and with the new year comes another FREE 10 page pdf, with 10 paintings by RoByn Thompson & 10 poems by me to accompany them. All poems guaranteed to come in at exactly 4 lines, although to make that happen some questionable scansion may have been employed. You can download it here.

RoByn did one painting a day for 30 days, back in September (Hence the title ‘10 Days in September’). I took a little longer with the poems. If all this sounds familiar, it’s because we did more or less the same thing in January of 2015 (hence all those ‘anothers’ in the above paragraph), and that one—cleverly called ‘10 Days in January’—can be downloaded for free over here.



Woman of a Certain Age, upon dropping some undergarments en route to the drier: Aww! Now I gotta WASH it again!
Second Woman of a Certain Age: No ya don’t. It’s a underpants, not a HAM SAMMITCH.

Apr. 4th, 2017


The New Pollution

I have been totally digging this of late-- real time metropolitan police dispatchers, plus ambient music. You’ve got two separate audio players on the page, so you can crank up the cops if you’re in the mood. There are a couple of dozen cities to choose from, plus a ‘build your own page’ with some interesting (and not so interesting) oddities. The police radio is often silent for minutes at a time even in jumpin’ towns like Newark & Oakland, which means I get lots of soft background music I would normally turn off, but I must admit Willis Danielson’s “People at a Party” is growing on me.

Jan. 26th, 2017


The Tree Next Door

The wind blew over a small tree a couple of days ago. The tree (five feet and change in height) had been standing beside the front porch next door, between a couple of scrubby bushes. I assumed the wind had uprooted it, but when I went outside I couldn’t help noticing the bottom was neatly sawn off and inserted in a Christmas tree stand. In all likelihood the tree was a Christmas tree. I have no idea how long the tree had been standing next to the porch. Could have been a week, could have been 15 years. At first I thought perhaps someone had put it out for garbage collection. But who throws out the stand with the tree?

Well, maybe the folks next door bought a new stand and decided it would be less trouble to throw out the old stand with the old tree.

Or maybe half the trees I see sticking out of the weeds and bushes are sitting in Christmas tree stands.

Jan. 3rd, 2017


What Are the Odds

2016 was nuts, celeb-death-wise[1]. It knocked them off by the twos and threes and fives. Carrie Fisher and Richard Adams died within a few hours of each other last week, not quite closing out the year. I found this really eerie because of the connection they shared and which nobody has commented upon till now.

In 1978 I was managing the Guild 50th (located just down the block from Radio City Music Hall) and we were showing the film of Adams’ Watership Down. One of the local papers or TV stations had compared the cartoon favorably to Star Wars, so the owner slapped “As exciting as STAR WARS!!” on the Marquee.

On the very first night of the engagement, four people asked for their money back. “The marquee says ‘Star Wars,’ but it’s bunny rabbits,” said the least-drunk of them. “And they talk.”

For the next two weeks (it wasn't a smash hit), you could reliably depend upon someone bellowing “It's A FUCKING CARTOON!?!” around 10 minutes into the 8 o'clock show. (It usually took ten minutes because there's a brief prologue & I suppose they thought everything would switch from cartoon rabbits to live action humans when the story proper commenced). One night a disgruntled customer stood on the sidewalk in front of the box office for quite a while, warning potential patrons that it was nothing like “Star Wars.” “It's RABBITS,” he said, “Hop hop hop!”

I see I’m straying a bit from my point, which was crystal clear to me when I started writing this but now maybe not so much.

Well, Carrie Fisher was IN Star Wars, and Richard Adams WROTE Watership Down. And now they’ve both passed on in the same week, maybe on the same day.


[1] Not as nuts as 1977, though— Charlie Chaplin. Joan Crawford. Howard Hawks. Erroll Garner. Allsion “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” Hayes. Roberto Rosellini. Zero Mostel. Leopold Stokowski. Vladimir Nabokov. Bing Crosby. GROUCHO MARX. ELVIS PRESLEY.

Dec. 10th, 2016



The estimable Nige has encountered a new word, and shares it with us:

“‘As briskly as his bird-like legs allowed, the Reverend Unwin hirpled back to his study...’
The quotation is from The Winner of Sorrow, a remarkable novel about the poet William Cowper, which I’m reading on the recommendation of Patrick Kurp of Anecdotal Evidence. Written by the Irish poet Brian Lynch, it’s a wonderful read, and I’ll no doubt be writing more about it when I’ve reached the end. But to the hirple...
 This verb means ‘to walk with a limp, to hobble’. It’s a fine word, one that I’d never come across before. Its origins are in Old Norse, passing into Scots and Northern English usage, and apparently best preserved in Ulster Scots. None of which fits the milieu of The Winner of Sorrow, but who’s complaining? It’s always a pleasure to come across a new and expressive word.
 Here it is cleverly used (and cleverly rhymed) to describe the gait of a cricket in an Ulster-Scots poem, Address to a Cricket by Sarah Leech:

‘You cheer my heart wi’ hamely strain,
or shrill toned chirple,
as cozie roun’ the warm hearth stane,
you nightly hirple.’”

For my part, I welcome the word not only for its excellent self but because it provides an excellent rhyme for ‘purple.’ There aren’t very many.

There are NO rhymes in English for ‘orange,’ which is a tragedy. There is Carhenge, sort of, but unless you’re actually writing about Carhenge, it’s difficult to work it into a song or a poem and make it seem effortless and inevitable, which is what we want.

I’m now thinking about ‘Hirpling Down to Carhenge’ as an album title, tho.

Dec. 4th, 2016


My ‘Online Stuff 2016’ Round-Up

“Mad Swirl” has just published my poem ‘Apartment 4-C’ online, so I thought I’d link to all my non-actionable 2016 online content in case you’d like to binge read it.

There’s Apartment 4-C in Mad Swirl, which also posted my Invention of Meatloaf back in September.

Pyrokinction, which recently folded, ran my ‘1968,’ ‘Sunday Morning Suggestions,’ and ‘Highway 71,’ all on one page.

The Mind[less] Muse (Pyro’s sister publication) folded at the same time, but they posted my Friday Morning with Ducks in early July.

Pacific Poetry included “Lease Breaking Party Featuring Two One-Line TCM Movie Descriptions” and “Traffic Accident” right here, in their spring issue.

(If you enjoyed those, you might also enjoy this FREE pdf of ten of my poems written to accompany ten paintings by RoByn Thompson. All of the paintings are included in the pdf, right next to the poems they accompany).

Things of mine were also published this year in Chiron Review, No Exit, and Spillway, but only in hard copies. (the ‘No Exit’ that ran my poem “Crossing into Jersey" does not have an online presence as far as I can tell, although there are about 60 other magazines called “No Exit” that do. But none of them published my stuff).

As usual, the bulk (and the best!) of my online work consisted of snarky comments, moronic non sequitors, and fart jokes. I can provide no links to these, as I have no idea where I left them, or what names I left them under, but they were all killer.

Nov. 26th, 2016



There are four ducks living in the chicken yard. They were gifts to the farm from an ex-employee who was moving somewhere you can’t keep ducks as pets. The ducks quickly became part of the flock. When the sun goes down, they go into the chicken hutch with all the chickens. The ducks can actually fly over the fence if they feel like it, but they don’t. Like the chickens, they stay in the yard even when a section of the fence gets knocked down.

At least two of the ducks were ‘invited’ to Thanksgiving dinner this year. I was not happy about this because I like the ducks considerably more than I like the chickens. Kip, who deals with both the chickens and ducks more than I do, was also not happy about it, and for the same reasons. Real-life ducks are not belligerent and sarcastic, like cartoon ducks. They wag their little duck tails when they see you coming with a bag of bread or a bucket of water.

The chickens, on the other hand, are even stupider than their reputation would suggest and do not seem to see any connection between the food they eat and the person dumping the food into the yard. In fact, they sometimes peck at the ankles of this person while he is still in the middle of dumping the food.

Really, fuck the chickens.

Anyway, a few weeks before Thanksgiving Kip and I began sharing stories about the four ducks (Crackers, Dino-duck, Jean-Pierre, and Duck of Earl) with our employer, who apparently found their mad-cap adventures so delightful that all ducks were reprieved. I don’t know what Thanksgiving dinner consisted of, but it was not duck.

Yesterday my boss asked me which Duck was Jean-Pierre, ‘the suave one.’ I pointed out one of the white ducks. (There are two white ducks and two with green heads). Actually, aside from the fact that some of the ducks have green heads and some do not, I can’t tell any of the ducks apart and they have never had any mad-cap adventures.

Also they do not have names.


Sep. 6th, 2016


Tale of the Tape

As I was walking to the post office, the flap of the envelope containing my electric bill unsealed itself. I experienced that brief feeling of satisfaction I get whenever something falls apart or craps out that would not have fallen apart or crapped out in my day, and continued on to the post office. There was a new person behind the counter. “Hey, my envelope flap came open. Lemme have a piece of scotch tape, would you?”

NEW PERSON: We don’t provide tape.
ME: What?
NEW PERSON: We don’t provide tape.
ME: [Pointing] There’s a tape dispenser right there.
ME: On the lower counter there.
ME: Level with your left nut.
NEW PERSON: I know where it is. We don’t provide tape.
ME: I see. I guess I’ll just walk the three blocks back home and retape my envelope and then come back here, then.
ME: Or, you could give me an inch of tape from that dispenser and I’d have no reason to come back today. We would both be all done.
NEW PERSON: I think we’re both all done now.
ME: No, because I have to go home and tape up my envelope and bring it back here.
ME: So I’ll just get hopping, then.
NEW PERSON: [Hums tunelessly, pretends to scrutinize back of Express Mail envelope].
ME: See you in MINUTES.

In fact I decided to deposit my electric bill in the mail box down the block once I had properly sealed it. I was uneasy about putting it into the hands of The New Person.

I found it difficult to score our exchange. On the one hand, The New Person did not provide me with the tape I needed. On the other hand, I went home and taped up the envelope myself.

Which really isn’t ‘the other hand’ at all, so he won the exchange.

But that’s okay.

This isn’t over, Tape Man.

Sep. 1st, 2016



I’m going to be proving the musical background for the official opening of RoByn Thompson’s Dream Projects show at the Paterson Museum on Sunday, September 18th. I’ll be playing the guitar (a left-handed Ibanez, with pick-ups so it can be plugged into an amp or a PA system, although no word on whether they’re going to let me do that). Info about RoByn’s show is here, and even tho it’s on Facebook you should be able to access it. I have three hours at my disposal and pretty much no limits on what I can play, since no one attending will be or should be paying the slightest attention to me.

RoByn & I collaborated on a chapbook (10 paintings by her, 10 poems by me) available as a *free* pdf right here.

The flier for my upcoming recital, or at any rate a version of the flier with no pictures and the formatting delightfully randomized by Live Journal’s interface, follows the jump.
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