Monthly Archives: September 2019


My 2013 portrait of Lynda Barry has been my laptop screensaver for quite a while. She continues to blossom and thrive, and teaches creativity two-thirds of the way across the country from me. I would love to take that class. Some day I hope to.

This October 5th I will be an exhibitor and performer at Meet Your Literary Community, an event conducted by Jacob Friedman of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Jake suggested that I do caricatures for charity, so I am warming up, and this ten-minute sketch of Ms. Barry, its photo source found via Internet search of “lynda barry 2019 headshot,” is today’s first try. It is Conté crayon on Stonehenge paper.

If you are unfamiliar with Lynda Barry and her work, I urge you to seek out her images and image-rich publications. There is also a fine Facebook group aptly named Lynda! Barry! Rocks! The group name inspired the title of this post.

2019 0914 moonbeam embracerA special friend of mine seems to live by the Moon. At any given moment she knows its phase, and whether it is on the wax or on the wane. She inspired the card on the left.

A special friend of mine seems to draw energy from felines. She encourages them to congregate near her, and invests them with lavishments of love and exotic dining. She inspired the scrap on the right.

A special friend of mine fades out of view, then in. She seems to appear when I need a boost, then evaporate when I am on the up and up. I have sought and found her now and then, but hesitantly: I am afraid too much of a touch would attenuate the magic.

Words are left out of “moonbeam embracer,” yet the words displayed make sense of their own. I will show with ciphers how the missing words are placed, but revealing them would be too much of a touch. Also, there are many “solutions” to this “puzzle.” For you “solvers” out there, the poem is in trochaic tetrameter.

moonbeam embracer

maiden, 000 00000 000000 extreme
o how photons 00000 000 teem
omnipresent 00000 orb
never 000000 0 metaphor
beckon 000000 00 rca
endochronic 000 archaic
ah, 0000 000000000 guinevere
maiden, 00000000 00 000 sheer


2019 0913 warp wrap

The English language is dynamic, and some words and idiomatic phrases enjoy usage for which almost all English speakers have forgotten origins and even meanings. The phrase “sticks in my craw” means more to farmers and ornithologists than it does to millennials.

When I was thinking along these lines, somehow the acrostic “warp wrap” came to mind. “Warp” means both Distortion and Parallel Threads In Fabric (sort of), and “Wrap” means both Enshroud and Conclude.

We have the word Asea. Why not Aland? Because the English language is large, it contains multitudes, and so it has a way of Whitmanesquedly contradicting itself. It is a citizen in the Quantum Universe, which also contradicts itself, of necessity for existence.

The spot illustrations for this page border on the wretched. The worst is the “Top Drawer” illustration, with which I attempted to do a visual Bad Pun by sticking it in the word Craw. I tried to make it work, but it seems too distractive for the payoff.

Warp Wrap

What IS a craw?
And WHAT is [so desirable about] TOP DRAWER?
RAW sewage or COOKED? ASEA
Precludes ALAND’s GDP.

GDP is economese for Gross Domestic Product. It is a benchmark of how well a given land is doing. Sewage is one of the grosser domestic products. English is large; it contains multitudes. Why do we not wish to have our geese cooked?


Once upon a time there was a tabby cat who was peevish about being brought into existence merely to be a frontdrop for an array of nonsensical words. She put up a paw in protest and found that she had been manipulated to do so in order to make the composition more interesting. “This is a contrivance,” said the cat. “Does the world really need another one of these?”

“Well, you’re pretty, and people may want to see you,” said the Maker.

2019 0911 imp act crater

Eighteen years ago today, airplanes were weaponized by terrorists in an attack on my country, and the course of our history veered. Living in that history has been to some extent a nightmare. And so the metaphor that occurred to me is a crater formed by the act of an imp, a minion of Evil Incarnate: Imp Act Crater.

I want to do a much more polished and wordsmithed version of the page above, so I pseudo-rubber-stamped it “DRAFT.” (I hope I will find, acquire or make a real DRAFT rubber stamp soon; I can use it!) Meanwhile there is this.

Imp Act Crater (DRAFT)

It’s stake time now for Joan of Arc
Moloch’s malarkey leaves a scar
Pandemics are a panacea
As coup d’etat meets death by fiat
Catastrophe by rock & flare
Takes precedence o’er thought & prayer

2019 0910 extractive capitalism

This post owes its existence to my friend of many years, designer Terry Irwin. She pointed her Facebook readers to an article in The Nation about Wendell Berry, perhaps the closest thing to a latter-day Thoreau that these times have produced. The article included the phrase “extractive capitalism,” which I have used as the acrostic.

What is Extractive Capitalism? It is exploitation without reciprocity. It is taking advantage and not giving back. Clearcutting and fracking and unsafe offshore drilling are examples, but the practice does not limit itself to Earthly riches: during the housing crisis in the late 2000s, Extractive Capitalism extracted dollars from middle-classers and gave it to banking executives and stockbrokers.

Wendell Berry’s wisdom may be found in this passage from the article: “The time is past when it was enough merely to elect our officials,” [Berry] argued in 1972 concerning the fight against strip mining. “We will have to elect them and then go and watch them and keep our hands on them, the way the coal companies do.”

Another valuable phrase in the article sums this wisdom up: “Participatory democracy.”

In my country the concept of Socialism is being demonized by the current administration. It is painted as Big Government taking and doling out, with hordes of parasites with their hands out. But true, RESPONSIBLE Socialism, where each individual seeks the best fit of meaningful endeavor and fair exchange as a participating member of the state, will be what saves us from climate change, corruption and waste, I think.

Here is my poem, with the acrostic aspect disregarded for clarity, and a word or two changed because of the freedom from stricture:

Extractive Capitalism

ENGULF! Be meteoric
Extend hegemony
A trawler-drag historic
Uproots anemone
I acey-deucey dare ya
It cash-enriches molders
A test run of malaria
Will Instashare the holders
I venture we’ll do Chasms
Enable Cash Orgasms


2019 0909 next echo

Last night I had a sensation in my chest that was identical to one that sent me to the Emergency Room a couple of years back. Then as (most likely) now, electrocardiogram was normal. Nevertheless, they referred me to a cardiologist, who recommended a CT scan with contrast, which the insurance company denied, and we appealed to no avail, so they gave me a “nuclear stress test” instead, which disclosed that my heart’s “profusion”–blood-pumping action–was on the high end of the Normal range, and so they pronounced me Normal. That didn’t reassure me any too much, because “normal” people with a history of cardiac disease in their families (my dad died in 1983 at the age of 49 from “massive myocardial infarction”) are walking time bombs, despite all efforts at weight control (I’m a whopping 218 pounds now, or, to be euphemistic, “less than a hundred kilos”) and avoidance of contraindicated activity such as smoking (I don’t smoke, but sometimes succumb to the Gamblin’ Fool urge, and hang out in one of the local casinos, where smoking is not only permitted, but with the ubiquitous ashtrays, encouraged) and healthy diet (I am eating more yogurt and using more olive oil lately). So every day is a blessing, and every sign that all will be taken from me in a non-heartbeat is a curse. And last night I was Accursed.

What to do? Distraction to the rescue! I set myself a challenge at the stroke of 10:15: go from Blank Card to Completed Acrostic Poem with Image as FAST AS POSSIBLE. And when I finished, including signature and date, I looked at my watch and it said 10:35. And my chest had quieted down.

The above card, therefore, and to be the Drama Queen I undeniably am, May Well Have Saved My Life. That’s my Spin and I’m sticking to it.

And–the poetry is pretty darn good for so few words, and the image illustrates the poem serviceably, if not all that eye-pleasingly. Two people, one a stereotypical Busty Blonde and the other a stereotypical Busty-Blonde-Ogler, are both wearing X-Ray Spex, a novelty item which through light diffraction gives the illusion that the viewer can see through things, especially clothing. Both are dismayed that their Spex do not actually let them see through things, and they feel as if they have been suckered. Meanwhile tanks (and I had to rely on my memory as a 6th-grader sketching a tank from a big, thick book entitled Weapons, which I had to get special permission from Mrs. Bailey to check out) rumble in the background.

It’s a fairly nifty synopsis of the toxic absurdity that passes for Current Events today, what with all the saber-rattling and distraction and fakeness and accusation of fakeness–almost Biblical in the “wars, and rumors of wars” aspect–whoops, Friends, that’s the Drama Queen talking again…

…or is it? Faced with a personal crisis, my “distraction” seems to have been a focus on a more dire, impersonal, global crisis. I may be a Drama Queen, but the Bureau of Atomic Scientists DID quite recently move the minute hand of the “Doomsday Clock” one minute closer to midnight.

“Courage is our greatest present need,” my friends.

Next Echo

Now a ROBIN may be Thicke
Entertain with Vid or Pic
X-RAY SPEX were full of Pooh
Tanks & Silicone are too

2019 0908 blissy kissed

Something happened at work that was so delightful it must be recorded, yet professionalism demands that I walk a tightrope of discretion. So this account will contain Truth, but not the Whole truth. As for “Nothing but the Truth,” my honesty is up to that, but my spotty specific-memory isn’t, so some of this will be inexact.

Three exuberant ladies stepped up to the host stand. We will call them 4, 5 and 6, based on the number of letters in their first names. One of them, either 4 or 5, said that they had been here before, and they were back because they had gotten crushes on me from last time, because I’d given them a poem. (I sometimes offer a poem or a joke for parties waiting for tables, by way of distraction through light entertainment.) I smiled and seated them at one of the most popular tables, a four-top with phone-charging capability and plenty of elbow room.

While I continued hosting, I started composing a limerick. No one watching me work would have suspected I was multitasking, nor was I shirking: I was getting people seated and bussing tables without missing a beat. But at a lull I passed the ladies’ table and caught an eye. “Hey, I have a limerick for you, [4],” I told her and them.

“Oh, let’s hear it!”

“There once was a lady named [4]
Who made her regard for me plain
As she dined in plain view
Of her cast and her crew
She was gracious and kind, in the main.”

Then I quickly said, “GEEZ, that’s lame,” and at that they laughed.

More tables, more diners, then a lull. I wandered by the fateful table. “Got one for [5].” “Good!”

“A fine-dining person named [5]
Is mostly a dignified lady,
She sings like a bird,
And does fine Spoken Word,
But she discoes like it’s 1980.”

I do not exaggerate when I describe their response as a Burst of Laughter. They had been polite the last time, but at most mildly amused. I think I made up for it with this one.

But now I had a problem. The third member of the trio had a brain-buster of a name to come up with two limerick-rhyme words for. I could cheat and not end the line with her name, but a) cheating b) inconsistent with the other two c) how fine it would be to MEET that challenge. As I took dishes to the Dish Pit I got Rhymeword #1. As I seated a party of six I got Rhymeword #2. As the ladies waited for their bill to be generated by the server I approached their table.

“Well, I didn’t want [6] to feel left out…”

They beamed.

“I know of a lass named [6].
Don’t EVER suggest she’s a Playa,
For at that very notion
She’ll rage like the ocean,
And you’d better BACK OFF–or she’ll Slay ya.”

And by golly, the response at the last was best of all, with not only hearty laughter but NODS–I inferred that I had stumbled on some Truth.

Most important for me was feeling that I had turned my gratitude for being the reason for their return to Matt’s into a reward in the form of…more Poetry. I walked on air all the rest of my shift.

And I hope they’ll be back. They are The Three Graces to me. My little card above would fully reveal my regard for them, if all the words could be read.