2016-05-04 15.03.53

slow, please; stop, please; turn around, please

optimism needs to be on a leash
for if not
it is unleashed
and what-the-hell holds sway

a man runs for president
and he is famous for his infidelities
and his bankruptcies
and he wrote or had written the art of the deal
and he seems near-identical to the uncaring jerkmeisters
catspaws of the corrupt bank-executive predators
whose fraudulence brought down the 2007 economy
and who got off scot-free

there is vast proof that he lies constantly
and his supporters say “ah well,
all politicians lie”
while he brands an opponent “lyin’ ted”
schoolyard bully style

many years ago there was an english rock band, the who
who did a song called “won’t be fooled again”
but the last line was “meet the new boss,
same as the old boss”

reason and logic may once more fail to carry the day
because there are neckless optimists with distractive shotguns
and a bedrock-solid sense of entitlement
who think letting the fox run the henhouse is a great idea
and will make america great again

2016-05-03 11.21.47~2

and, in conclusion . . .

my favorite mime
didn’t wear that silly white makeup
did sport a top hat over blondielocks
did play a lovely harp with skillful panache

his name was arthur
born adolph, but a cheap bully stained that name forever

arthur’s antical grin showed there was a little boy in there
calling many of the shots

offstage he liked to golf and talk
privately he golfed naked
publicly he was part of the algonquin round table,
adding to its mix of deep and diverse wit

whenever a guest arrived late
he would say loudly, “AND, IN CONCLUSION . . .”

he was a consummate clown
he was a lovely man



cantileverage with p & q

obfuscates the devil & his due

risking on one turn of pitch & toss

kidnaps will to chance & all is lost


This poem has as its touchstone Rudyard Kipling’s lines from “IF–,” “If you can make one heap of all your winnings/And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss/And lose, and start again at your beginnings/And never breathe a word about your loss . . .” The whole thrust (implication intentional) of “IF–” is man-to-manly-man advice on how to conduct oneself. I committed the poem to memory more than twenty years ago, thinking it great. Today I think certain lines are keepers (“If you can dream, and not make dreams your master/If you can think, and not make thoughts your aim . . .”), yet other lines, such as the one my poem is based on, are problematic.

Is it a good and manly thing to risk all your winnings on one chancy outcome? Was it a good idea to acquire those winnings on chancy outcomes? Speaking as someone with a gambling addiction, for me the answer is No to both.

Just last week I felt myself at risk. I had a little extra money, and I heard Casino Arizona call my name. And an insidious rationalizing voice whispered in my ear that I could handle it now, being older and less manically spiky.

So what I did was tell a friend I was at risk. She listened, and wisely suspended judgment and refrained from instruction, though she said she felt like a bad friend for letting me go off to do whatever the hell I was going to do. (I had gotten to the point of renting a car to enable whatever-the-hell-I-was-going-to-doing.)

I put temptation aside, though, and used the car to have some fun with my daughter, first with breakfast at the Hideaway West, then to Castles-n-Coasters for pinball and vidgame fun, then to Samurai Comics, and lastly to her home to watch the first episode of Season Two of Netflix’s Daredevil. That evening I breathed a relief-sigh for having dodged another gambling bullet.

Now, why is the acrostic “cork quest” and not “pitch &toss”? Because this day’s card started with the drawing of a corkscrew. I liked that it looked a little like a deadly weapon; and it IS a deadly weapon, if used to unleash demons different from mine . . .


playing jacks with laura
To Laura J Young

there was a girl
about two years older than my sevenandahalf,
and her name was laura
and she taught me how to play jacks.

she used a golf ball, which was good, because
it had more bounce and truer bounce
than that red ball with a seam.

laura was always better than me,
always getting up to her tens
while i was still on my fives or so,
and then she’d get through piginapen
or doublebounce
while i was only up to my nines or so.

we also played chutes&ladders
or candyland
out of the charity of her kind soul,
for she had long outgrown those games.

she had a spool with four nails pounded partway
into one end, the nailheads forming a square,
and she could make an endless snake
of yarn or twine
come out of the other end
just by a kind of weaving.
i thought it was neat.
she taught me how to do it too.

our dads got mad at each other over something.
it might have been the mulberries our tree shed
in their yard,
which were sweetly yummy but awfully stainy,
or it might have been the way our dog liked to pee
on their pyracantha,
or maybe that we were supposed to be the first ones
to swim in the swimming pool we helped dig
and we ended up never swimming there at all.

it only matters because after that
laura and i never played any more.

more than fifty-one years later
i saw her name as a friend of a facebook friend,
another neighbor,
and now we’re friends again
though many miles apart.

she is a shepherd and a yarnwright
and a champion of the environment.
i find that delightful.

i will probably never see her again
since she lives in one of the carolinas,
but i do hope there is something to
the lifeflashingbeforeyoureyes notion,
because i would so love, however briefly,
to go back to
playing jacks with laura.


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