Monthly Archives: April 2019

2019 0429 danseuse

This is an unconventional study of balance. The posed dancer, the closeup profile, and the date and signature provide one kind of balance. The sketchiness with some detail is a balance of spontaneity and nuance.

2019 0429 cat bag void

I like drawing paper bags, so I started a sketch of one. While sketching the phrase “letting the cat out of the bag” occurred, and I like drawing cats, so I put one on top of the bag. Bag and cat seemed to need a context. “Void” filled that void.

But this seems to be only a step. I know if I threw a few hours of hard observational work and trial&error at this concept it would yield a more satisfying, interesting result. But I am as always in a hurry, and so this is set aside for now.

2019 0428 go away STAY HOME

When I was a freshman college student in the early 70s I took a class called CRITICAL AND EVALUATIVE READING. The class required the reading of five books of our choice, and our assessments of those books on 3″ x 5″ cards. I only remember four of the five books I chose. They were Goldfinger by Ian Fleming, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, A Patch of Blue by Elizabeth Kata, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. The last was far and away the densest, most difficult of the books, and I struggled to get through it. Midway I thought I needed some help and so I bought the Cliffs Notes (or it may have been a different study guide; the bookstore had two) plot summary/analysis of Portrait. But I quickly became skeptical of the analytical integrity of the thing. Near the very beginning Joyce writes

When you wet the bed first it is hot then it gets cold.

According to the “analysis” this occurs because Joyce is riffing on the dichotomy of Heat and Cold as a theme for the book.

I didn’t buy it. I think Joyce was reporting a tiny child’s experience, one I remembered myself. It’s true, especially in winter, that the blood-temp urine starts hot and cools quickly. And the “analyst” also didn’t pick up on the growth of the sophistication of the language of the book from the very beginning, which if memory serves is

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down the road…

to the very end, which I think is

Old friend, old artificer, serve me now and in good stead.

So I ditched the Notes and struggled the rest of the way through the book solo. I can say with confidence that I did not fully understand the book and was often baffled by what was being described, or emphasized, or driving the behavior of the principal characters. My assessment was fudgy and deliberately vague so as not to be wrong. C’est la vie.

More than 40 years later, on a different index card, I’ve brought something into existence which would baffle almost anyone, and I don’t exclude myself. A person looking like a blend of Charles Laughton and Eleanor Roosevelt stares over the right shoulder of the viewer, not quite stupidly. He or she is flanked by two dichotomous (perhaps) acrostic poems, transcribed below:

go away

got a pair? well ha ha ha
get a REAL life–it’s the law
only when it’s time for tea
one might stir things gracefully


Soothing makes a baby Oooooh
Touching when unwelcome: shoo
Adding moisture gains a gleam
Yawning oft subverts the theme

The good news is these are two poems in trochaic tetrameter, with perhaps perfect rhyme and rhythm. The “go away” poem does seem go-awayish, and the “STAY HOME” poem seems to have the lulling comfort of home.

The bad news is it’s hard to tell what has been accomplished here. Some meaning had to take a back seat to the puzzle-solving of the acrosticization. As Chief Dan George says in Little Big Man, “Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

I conclude that its entertainment value is chiefly in the niftiness of the acrostic construction, and may be enjoyed in a similar way that a Lego sculpture might, when all the pieces fit together just right. But, dear Reader and friend, please don’t struggle overmuch with the extraction of meaning from the content. It may remind you of little life moments, or it may seem off the wall. With Acrostics, a perfect blend of content and form is sometimes unattainable.


NOTE: This poem was first written earlier today in the Facebook group Poets All Call, managed by Socorro Olsen. Group member Bob Kabchef, a car-loving friend of mine, posted title suggestions for the group earlier in the week.  I used his title “Fossil Fools” but took it lowercase, as is my habit. Grateful thanks go to Socorro and Bob, without whom this poem, and MANY others of my best, would never have been written.

Have a good Earth Day, Friends. Be as kind to the environment as you can, please.

2019 0422 silver arrow

fossil fools

“wise men say”
sang the king
“only fools rush in”
what about the oklahoma land rush?
what about the california and then yukon gold rush?
and what of standard oil?

getting in on the ground floor involves rushing
many processes are best breakneck-sped
opportunity knocks AND THEN GOES AWAY

and fortunes are made
numbers runners
runners to your marks

speaking of marx
he wrote DAS KAPITAL
and changed die Welt
and decades later
MAD magazine publisher william m. gaines
took some of his crew to russia
as an incentive vacation
and people followed him reverently
because he looked exactly like karl marx

i don’t digress
his dad max gaines made a pile
being in on the ground floor of comic strips
and then comic books

and he
and john d. rockefeller
and henry ford and edsel ford and henry ii
and olds and pierce-arrow and hispano-suiza
and many others (cough*studebaker*cough)
co-created capitalism’s answer
to those godless commies

and behold we did consume
we did demand we did sign up
we did see the u s a in our chevrolets
and we spread the word about burma shave

and fossil foolishness spread its fog machine
far wide and deep
and corporations became predatory
and fed on the bottom line

and now we want…sustainability?
listen to the c-e-o-ish laughter
sustain this you m—–f—–s they sneeringly reply

and behold we do sustain them
we pay their bloodmoney bonuses

and we lonely few
taking hours on public transport to get across town



2019 0422 earp

Today I got a call from Niagara Falls, New York, honest to goodness, I can prove it. The lady on the line says if I drop whatever I’m doing and draw a portrait of Wyatt Earp, she’ll pay me at least a hundred bucks on the spot, even more if it’s good. I need the money, so I put her on speakerphone and find WE on Wikipedia. Fifteen minutes later I say “OK, done.”

“Young man, may I see it?”

“Sure.” I video-call her. She stays on audio. I hold Wyatt up to my smartphone.

“Well, that’s marvelous. I think you should get a five-dollar bonus.”

And I think my own dark thoughts, but say, “Glad you like it. May I ask WHY?”

“Because it’s HIS  Day!!”


“It’s EARP DAY!”

“No, no, no! It’s EARTH Day. Not Earp Day–wait a minute. Is your name Emily Litella?”

“Why, yes. Thank you, young man, and…nevermind…”

RIP to the immortal and brilliant Gilda Radner, who as Emily Litella cracked me up no end.

I had my four ceramic birds on my dining-area card table. plus some union insurance info, a copy of Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Rising, two chocolate bars, and a box of soup. I quick-sketched the array and it felt strange, because I was making artwork OF my artwork. But these are strange times…

2019 0418 demented birds


I am sick today, but encouraged, because yesterday I was sicker, with a cough with its claws on my throat, and a maddeningly-stuffed, impossible-to-blow nose. Thanks to rest, dried pineapple suggested by my poet friend Sharon Suzuki-Martinez, and a therapeutic breakfast at Bertha’s Cafe, I am better enough to have a realistic hope of going to work tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I’m home, getting more rest, and playing with my recently-sculpted birds the way other children play with Barbie dolls or GI Joes. This is also therapeutic.

Early in this blog-posting journey I did a segment that I think I called “Four Crazy Birds and One Demented Creator. That was six years ago. New birds, but same old Crazy.


formy diablo

life for them began
on a batt on a potter’s wheel
spun from lumps of clay
into a semblance of symmetry

attention was then paid to lips and feet
the ones smoothed the others trimmed
one gained a handle
one was knifed into body and lid
one was left alone

they were baked
then they were dipped twice
sponged free of excess emulsion
baked again

now they are three (or four)
imperfect yet functional vessels
one will hold coffee
one will hold pencils and pens (perhaps)
one will hold secrets
and its other when lifted will reveal them

the diablo is in the details
this handle is clumsy
that lid is harsh
those glaze jobs are uneven

a french speaker says something like formydahbluh
and spells it <<formidable>>
and means it forceful/nontrivial/significant

these are too flawed to be formydahbluh
but the flawed human who made them
is happy he made them