2021 0923 sara griffin
This is not my first portrait attempt with Sara. I did one for her birthday, but it wasn’t very good, though she accepted it graciously. I think I did a little better this time, but getting her just right still eludes me.

Sara, once known to me as Hydroxia Gryphon, can perform without a net, metaphorically speaking. She will without a cheat sheet face a crowd and begin singing a capella, and it sounds both spontaneous and pre-ordained.  Her voice is pure and elemental, remindful of a prairie wind.

Sara Will Sing

Scent of sage wafts in the chorus
As the prairie girl sings for us./I
Really love to feel that keen
As deseert zephyrs wail and cling

2021 0923 patrick hareThis is my approximation of Patrick Hare, a mordant and acerbic Valley poet who uses his poetry to skewer cultural wrongdoers who interfere with his enjoyment of daily life. His harangue on the grocery-counter ambusher-cashiers who hit you up for a worthy-cause donation when you just want to pay for your stuff and get out is howlingly hilarious, but dark as can be and not for the squeamish. He says out loud what many of us dare not even think. But he’s a real sweetheart offstage, so I tried to say so in my acrostic:

Wild Hare

Wisteria hides a Pariah
Indignant but sweet as Papaya
Lord Snarky gives dummies What For
Delivering Takedowns galore

2021 0922 trish justrish

The superlative poet who calls herself Trish Justrish has been involved in the Valley poetry scene forever, both solo and as a member of The New Subterraneans. The last time I saw her perform, pre-pandemic, I was moved to caption a photo of her “This is Trish Justrish, whose cerebral and yet heartfelt poetry reveals a more-than-passing knowledge of certain of the sciences. You have to love a person who can wield the word Omicron effectively. You have to love her more for the layered expression on her face when she delivers the line “I KNOW you want to kiss me.” She brings a quality to the New Subterraneans that helps them be more NewTrishous.”

Doing her page got me thinking about the “Just” part of the name Trish Justrish. It does not have to mean “merely” or “ordinary.” Another definition of the adjective Just is “righteous” or “fitting” or “demonstrative of appropriate karma.” She IS righteous. Her poetry is honest, as I attempt to convey in the convolutions of my acrostic.

Trish Notjustany Trish

The words so coherent dispelling the mist
Tell thoughts that would wow a devout scientist
Rewoven reality makes to career
Reverse/hearsals juxtapose woes far and near
If heartache’s subsumed in a vain search for Pi
In fact it will wrestle on deck or lanai
Submerse in the New Subterranean blues
Set poems to paper and pay up more dues
Her work is True Blue it is not Bait & Switch
Her clear voice will stymie the false then enrich

That “Thanks, Trish!!!” I put to the left of my signature is for more than Trish’s gracious permission to do this page. I sent her an early draft of the acrostic, and it was much more ambiguous than this final version. She wrote back expressing confusion over my reference to Abercrombie & Fitch, makers of fine suits and other clothing and accessories. And she was right as rain; the obscure reference in the second-to-last line knocked the acrostic’s integrity way off plumb. Trish Justrish knows poetry, whether she is writing it or reading it. She is a cerebral wonder.

Five years, nine months, and twenty-nine days ago I began my employ with SSP America, one of two firms that manage the restaurants of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Today at 2:46 PM I ended that employment by clocking out at Matt’s Big Breakfast, next to Gate B5 at Terminal 4. I left on good terms, with the Big Boss, Tommy R, managers Maria, Denny and Eduardo, bartender Sadie, servers Jenna, Netty, and (especially) Melinda, utilities man Juan, and my cashier replacement Esperanza all wishing me well. It is a good ending.

Here I am with Ninette, whom we call Netty. That’s my mask between us, hanging from my left ear.

This is bar lady Mercedes. She prefers to be called Sadie. She posts wonderful pictures of her family on Instagram. She also has cracked me up with jokes that are unsuitable for children. And I’ve tried to crack her up as well. Many of the jokes I’ve told her are older than she is.

Here is utility man Juan, who showed me pics of the coastal city in Argentina where he was born and raised. I told him today that he looks a bit like the “handsome British actor” Anthony Hopkins. 

And here is Melinda, whose skills as a server are so pristine that my own mother, the Diner from Hell, the Original Karen (OK), the late, great Jane Bowers Stoneman, would ask for Melinda by name when she was working at Lone Star Steakhouse. Melinda is known as the Finder of Stuff and is heavily relied on for that, among many other things. When I told her I’d post her pic she said, “Tell everyone that I’m the one who gave you Covid.” (Possible, but unlikely,) I may miss her most of all.

The lady pointing at the “Usual Suspect” is Maria W, who has managed our restaurants all over the place. I have the utmost respect for her. She runs everything from 10Ks to ultramarathons and has for many years. She is hard to keep up with. 🙂


And here I am with the Big Boss, Tommy R, who manages the managers. He is like Heimdall, Bridgekeeper of Asgard, in that his eyes see everything, everywhere. The buck stops with him. And it was to Tommy himself that I surrendered my airport badge and the Micros card with which I clocked out for the very last time.

I’m proud to have put in more than five years with SSP, and so happy to have made so many restaurant friends. I will stop by and say hello as a traveler when I plane-trip my way out of Phoenix. I wish all my colleagues the utmost success, and will miss them profoundly.


Today, against odds, I DIDN’T clock in at the airport’s Matt’s Big Breakfast, and DID enjoy Steak and Eggs at the Camelback/32nd St. location…of Matt’s Big Breakfast.

I showed up to work, punctual as always, but when I tried to clock in the screen said “You are not on the schedule.” It had been saying that all week, because new manager Penny was still learning the ins and outs of scheduling using our Micros POS. (POS allegedly stands for Point Of Sale, but it can stand for other things too.) Today, though, by my clockin time we already had both a host and a cashier. Both were new but capable.

Penny offered to send me to Four Peaks, another SSP restaurant, to work my shift, but I told her I’d just as soon go home. And on the bus ride home it occurred to me that if I stayed on past my stop, the Camelback/32nd Street stop was a quick walk to the Camelback Matt’s. And today is Sunday, and the Sunday special is Steak and Eggs! Which I never get to have because I work Sundays! Matt’s, here I come!

And the meal was glorious. Though I don’t think it’s right being a carnivore, and fully intend to vegetarianize in the not too distant future, before he went to the Great Beyond Warren Zevon left the human race instruction to “enjoy every sandwich.” That goes double for Steak and Eggs, and home fries, and sourdough toast with strawberry preserves so good that what didn’t go on the toast got ingested the same way John Belushi inhaled the Jell-O in ANIMAL HOUSE. Best meal I’ve had in months.


Here’s a sketch I just did of Matt and Erinia “Ernie” Pool, the originators of Matt’s Big Breakfast. They look much better in real life, but I got nervous when I sketched them. They were super nice to me the times they visited the airport location when I was working, but I learned that when Ernie says “Could you do me a favor?” it is diplomatic code for “You guys screwed up.” 🙂

This September I’m showcased at Bookman’s Entertainment Exchange, and on September 29, 2 to 3 PM, I will be there at a Meet the Artist event, making free sketches and doing a demo on acrostic poetry creation. My last work day at Matt’s Big Breakfast/Airport is the day after tomorrow. The good feeling I have now is captured in the 11th line of Shakespeare’s Sonnet XXIX: “Like to the lark at break of day arising…” Hope you are equally, Friends.

A few things happened and are happening to me in the last twelve months that are irreversible. I cannot not have had Covid, for instance. I tested positive in mid-August and went through a week and a half of fatigue and mild misery. I made the choice I was offered, to get a monoclonal antibody infusion, and now I experience what I am pretty sure are side effects from that infusion: almost every day I get an itching, especially in my hands and feet, upper arms and ankles, and every few days there is a numbness in my forearms or face as if they were wrapped in mildly electric wool. And the literature I got relating to the infusion said that there might be side effects, and itching due to anaphylaxis was mentioned.

Months before I got Covid, though, in late March, my daughter and I became estranged. No details, Friends, for privacy’s sake. But there it is, and it’s more negatively impactive than the Covid. I was hoping we’d resolve things long before now, but we may never. And she had been the most important person in my life.

And now we come to the photo above. You see a drawing I made today, and my airport and employee credentials. A little over a week ago I sent this e-mail to certain managers at SSP America, the company I work for:

Subject: Graceful Exit (two weeks’ notice)

Priority: Important

From: Gary Bowers

To: Jake W; Maria W; Tommy R; Linda W; William H; Lieryn J

Sent: Sep 7, 2021 4:46 PM

Dear Managerial Friends,

It is with some wistfulness and regret that I hereby tender two weeks’ notice of my exit from SSP America. I have had a thoroughly wonderful time in my five-plus years with you fine folks. But two things have become acutely obvious in recent months. The first is that the physical and logistic demands of my job with my hours are taking too much away from my creative endeavors. The second is that I am running out of time to do the many things I need to do before my time is up. I’ve just turned 67, and the meter is running.

Bless you all and thank you for all you have done for me. I have a headful of memories I will cherish always.My last day of work at SSP will be September 21, 2021, two weeks from today.

My very best regards and wishes,

Gary Bowers
Host/Cashier, Matt’s Big Breakfast


Here are Jake and Linda, two of the managers who got my e-mail. They are fine people to work for, and I am going to miss them terribly.

As for the drawing, it isn’t very good. I have not done much sketching since my Covid episode, and this was forced. But it seems to reflect, even in the forcedness, a sort of Yin/Yang dynamic that is part of the mix when things change.

Hell Own’d

Here&Now I am hurt so
Even snakes don’t get so low
oss of friends & sacred kin
eaves me lost & feeling skinn‘d

Hay Bud


“A river is never the same,” says the ancient wisdom, and so it is with our lives.

two thousand
and one.
arouse and
be done.
smash into
a tower
and then do
its twin.
begin to
feel power
let hurtyou
to orders
subdue two
more crews.
be truant
of borders
in queues to

the bleeding
is crippling
the pain takes
its tolls
by leading
the rippling
of hatred
in souls.


Gamblin’ Fool and the Lucky Ladies

The Valley of the Sun in Arizona has casinos
And some of the Blackjack tables have a side bet called Lucky Ladies

Bet a buck or more on the Lucky Ladies
And if the two cards you are dealt total 20
You have won at least four bucks
Even if it’s an ace and a nine.
If the two cards are the same suit you have won at least nine bucks,
If the two cards are identical face cards you have won at least nineteen bucks,
And if the two cards are both the Queen of Hearts,
You have won

But if
The Two Cards
You Have WON

It is called a “Sucker Bet”
Because the odds are much against you.

(Let’s have a brief interlude into Probability;
Please skip this stanza if uninterested.
For a double deck, which is close enough for our demo,
The odds are two in 104, or one in 52,
of you getting the first Queen of Hearts,
And the odds are one in 103
Of you getting the second Queen.
So already you’re looking at odds of one in 5,356 of getting those Queens.
Of the 102 cards remaining,
Eight are Aces
And 30 are face cards.
So of the 10,202 ways the dealer can get two of the remaining cards
There are eight ways he can get an Ace on the first card,
30 ways he can get a face card on the second card.
So, of course, there are 30 ways to get a face card on the first card
And eight ways to get an Ace on the second.
So 240 times two is 480 ways she can have a Blackjack.
Divide 480 by 10,202
And you get odds of a little worse
Than 1 in 20.
So the odds of you getting two Queens of Hearts
And at the same time the dealer getting Blackjack
Are less than one in 107,120.
That means they pay out less than 2 cents on the dollar
Of the true odds
That it happens.

But sometimes Suckers Win.
And the Gamblin’ Fool
On this auspicious occasion
Had not one but THREE dollars bet on the Lucky Ladies.
He let out a Whoop when the Queens appeared,
And felt light-headed when the dealer, in a sweet conspiratorial voice
Said “I do have the Blackjack.”

So there he was, winner of THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS…
Or WAS he?

First they called Upstairs
To run the vid
To establish that everything was on the up and up.
The Gamblin’ Fool had to fill out a couple of forms.
One was a W-2G
Which meant the three grand was Taxable Income.
Another was an Agreement
With the option to let the Casino use the event and his likeness
In promotional material.
(He passed.)

When the smoke cleared the dealer,
A sweet person of color,

Who seemed genuinely thrilled for him,
Handed the Gamblin’ Fool
Six purple $500 chips
And he in turn handed her a hundred-dollar bill as a tip
Wondering if he was being a Cheapskate.

When he turned in the chips he tipped the cashier $20,
Saying “My lucky day.”

He left the Casino with his head held high,
Finally Walking Away A Winner,
Two ghostly
Lucky Ladies
By his sides.

2021 0829 sams club

Here’s a Valley poet who’s been a part of the scene far longer than I have, going back to Willow House, which I never had the pleasure to attend. “I have dozens of Ted Christ stories,” he says with glee in his voice. I have about three Ted Christ stories. I envy Perry.

Perry and I both love both reading and concocting Bad Puns, so I threw in some Punnishment in the acrostic poem. And in a phone conversation just a few minutes ago, when I scored his permission to do this blog post, I told Perry there’d be a Bad Pun in the annotation, a mangling of a line from a Bruce Springsteen song. Asked him to try to figure it out, giving him an ETA of an hour and a half to do so before I published. But I’m going to pull a fast one and publish in far less than an hour and a half. That way Perry will rightly say that I didn’t give him enough time.

The mangled line, which will noew refer to my friend and me:

“. . . Because Scamps Like Us, BABY WE WERE BORN to Pun . . .”

Cheers to you, Perry Sams!!

Sams Club

Subverse in fun with kitsch & sync
And Pun in hand estop & THIONK. You’ll
Meet a Queen & she will dub U
Sir Thickwicket so save your stub