Monthly Archives: November 2013


Eighteen years ago today a man weighing approximately 180 pounds ran more than 6.75 miles in one hour, two minutes and fifty-two seconds. It was Day 1,251 of the longest daily running streak of his life (back and hip pain compelled him to end the streak at 1,490 days). “Wiped me out!” may be found in the commentary.

Today a man weighing approximately 225 pounds has run not a single mile in more than a year. In lieu of running, he blogs. Sometimes he misses a day and sometimes he publishes more than one post in a day.

Obviously, the two are not the same man, though they share a name and other common ground. Life changes a person.

Here is a poem about today, written four days ago:

november ends

the thirtieth steps back and the first thrusts forward
orange and yellow segue to candy red and gamma green
and november slumbers for eleven months

it needs its sleep
it always does a stevedore’s job
shaking trillions of trees of their garb
seeding the skies with six-sided crystal
gathering a nation’s families around a groaning table

as it fades
its first light sleep is restlessed
by insistent jingling


It’s been over 50 years since Bob Dylan wrote and first performed “Masters of War.” Millions of people have heard the song and many have applauded it; but judging by world events the song has had less peacemongering effect than a hill of beans. That’s because people, including me, thought it was enough to voice disapproval in eloquent terms, and didn’t take the message as a call to action beyond the pianissimo “You tell em, Bob Dylan–we’re with you–we’re gonna march on Washington; just you wait and see.”

Knowledge is power. How many Americans know the name Sarkis Soghanalian, an ACTUAL Master of War, and his tango with Spiro Agnew, disgraced former Vice President of the United States, and his later tango with the Clinton administration? Finding out is a mere Internet search away. Go ahead–I dare you.


Today my friend Joe Arechavala, sometimes known as Happy Harpo, challenged me and my fellow poets in the Facebook poetry group Poets All Call to write a poem about being Santa’s cat. All I had to do was sit back as the poem wrote itself and the picture drew itself. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa’s cat, and his name is Roscoe, and I channeled him today.

Often I will tell people who do not consider themselves poets of a poetry event coming up. Sometimes the response is “Ah, thanks, but I just don’t like poetry.” The technical term for most of these folks is Liars, especially if they have an iPod full of songs. Songs are poetry. That they are set to music is incidental.

Musical lyrics usually rely on stressed and unstressed syllable patterns that fit in poetic form (for instance, look up IAMBIC or TROCHAIC or ANAPESTIC if you are unfamiliar with those terms). A sophisticated songwriter like Paul Simon is not as yoked to stress pattern as most if he doesn’t want to be. (His word-economical “Overs” starts “Why don’t we stop fooling ourselves?” and ends “But each time I try on the thought of leaving you, I STOP/Stop and think it over…”) But–and here is my Modest Proposal for you with a chunk of computer programming under your belts–a melody exchange is possible for songs whose lyrics have identical, or even near-identical, stress patterns.

Example: Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” may be sung to the tune of “Seven Spanish Angels.” Example, with a bit of a stretch: that weird song of the 60’s “Quick Joey Small” can borrow the Dave Clark Five’s “Catch Me If You Can,” thus:

Sheriff’s got a shotgun (ooh, oo-ooh)
Fill ya full of lead, son (true, oo-ooh.)
Sheriff’s got a blackjack (ooh, oo-ooh)
We about went out of our minds.
Catch us if you CA-AN, catch us if you CA-AA-AA-aan…

Another stretcher: Lennon/McCartney’s “You Won’t See Me” sung to the tune of the Everly Brothers “Love Hurts:”

I call
You up
You’re line’s
I’ve had
So act
Your age…

But the weirdest I’ve ever realized is Simon Zealotes’ song from JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. The punchline will reveal the melody exchange:

Christ what more do you need to conVINCE you
That you’ve MADE IT and you’re EASILY as strong
As the FILTH from ROME who rape our COUNtry
And who’ve TERRorized our PEOple for so long?
The BRAdy Bunch
The BRAdy Bunch
That’s the day we all became the Brady Bunch!



this road is quail run
its nearness and parallelitude to mighty mingus mountain is here evinced

the ridge of mingus has been powder-sugared by flurried snow
and is hugged by the fleece of post-precipitative cloud

the cloud once turgid is now a mere bone of its erstwhile self
and i an oaf with a megapixel-challenged phone camera do not do it justice

but it the rainbone insouciantly hugs and floats on
and given a choice i’d take a moment to be it
rather than a practicing oaf


Here is the latest page that will end up somewhere in the multi-volume LIVES of the Eminent Poets of Greater Phoenix, Arizona. It is of a talented and assured young man whose poetry skewers contemporary pretension. He also does a killer Christopher Walken imitation.

Here are the words to the double acrostic:

Jejune young ladies get him in the mood
And he reveals what makes them tickle you
Recounting, as becomes a raconteur
Encounters with the Selfie-ish. Bravura
Delivers him to starpow’r now & soon


From Omar Khayyam to Edward FitzGerald to us: “The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,/Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit/Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,/Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.” But the Finger is indelible, and so is the Pen. The Pencil?

The Moving Pencil, lured by misdirection,
Need not move on through doom or predilection:
The aft end offers quick and easy means
To quickly turn back time and make correction.

My favorite pencil to use is the Dixon Ticonderoga Black #2.


First let me hasten to say I am not suicidal. The title derives partly from Ben Franklin’s POOR RICHARD’S ALMANACK aphorism that “Nine of ten men are suicides.” And Ben is one of those proverbial People At The Dinner Table that I would have if I could have six of anyone who ever lived over for dinner and conversation. (Other possible candidates are Dorothy Parker, Li Po, Texas Guinan, Rex Stout, Maya Angelou, Sally Rand, Groucho Marx, Nick Drake, Isaac Asimov, Jean Toomer…it’s going to be hard to narrow it down!)

Though I’m not suicidal, I’m not taking reasonable steps to extend my life. Currently I’m about 70 pounds overweight. I don’t smoke or drink or drug or gamble, but I’m a man with a past. So by Ben Franklin’s yardstick, unless I drop a few dozen pounds and some of my less life-enhancing proclivities (recreational sleep deprivation, for instance), I will be one of the nine out of ten.

But I so long to live! But it must be a life whose quality includes full mental faculties and not too much pain!

Last night at Balboa House, a monthly East Valley poetry event hosted by my friends Debra Berman and Joe Montaño, I performed the following poem, which I will submit as fulfillment of the title of this post as my Suicide Note, Draft #817:

the old and the lonesome
November 15, 2013 at 11:59pm

less than fifty years ago people cared what she thought
commented when she changed her hairstyle
speculated excitedly when she made a vague and coy remark
about a fellow thespian of the opposite sex

now she sneaks a cigarette in her room at the independent living home
and waits for a phone call from a son or a friend
as tears slide here and there and sighs abound

she hasn’t changed much on the inside
but people care so much about the outside

slowly she acquires citizenship with this community of castoffs
the old and the lonesome whose dreams were realized but never replenished

one morning she canes her way to the lobby
scans the sign with the changeable type


she feels mild contempt for the sign’s update person and his “UPSTIRS”
she feels bereft of meaning
she goes back to her room and looks for the remote


feathers are not troubled
they weather wind elegantly insensately

they render waterfowl hydrodynamic
they spread and advertise desirability


quills have held the written word

down has comforted the human head

primaries have adorned headdresses
and sculpted convection


there would be no hope in a featherless world
and if that reminds you of something
i hope you will double of joy