Monthly Archives: December 2019

2019 1229 dusty

Here we are at year’s end. And here is an acrostic poem that is both revelatory and cryptic.

Dusty & Left Alone/Trivial One

Duty-free & obsessed with Trivia
User friendly so Ell O Ell
Seeking Kindness & room & kibble–O
Tears of Shame may yet fill my well–in
Yearning Dreams there sleeps une Belle


Here’s a Stephen Crane poem in its entirety, courtesy of the Poetry Foundation:


A Man Said to the Universe

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”
Three things strike me, fifty years after I first read, and was enamored with, this poem. Third, the Universe is conversing with the man as if the man were NOT part of Herself. Perhaps the man feels lonely and he has codified his loneliness, and sense of rejection, into this imagined conversation.
Second, She has a voice. How does She speak? Does She implant thoughts in the man’s head, does She make air vibrate, or did She employ corporeal form à la Dr. Strange’s odd compadre Eternity, who resides in the universe of Marvel Comics? Or is the man imagining it all?
But first and foremost, the man addresses the Universe as “Sir.” I think he is wrong to do so. The Universe is forever gestating, creating phenomena without end. And all of Her creations are still in Her womb, for She IS the womb.
So, playfully-or-not, I reboot Crane’s notion, thus:
Gary Said to the Universe
Gary said to the Universe,
“Ma’am, I exist!”
Here is some proof:
I finished that just this morning. And here are some vessels, Ma’am, made from your very own clay:
Ma’am, I just want to say I’m grateful to be here.
And ask you: Did God make you?”
“Yes, we are,” replied the Universe.
“As to your question,
We can but reply
‘Here we are.'”
“I don’t understand,” I answered.
“You cannot understand,” She replied.
End of reboot, except to say
I’m neither believer nor atheist,
And this is Exhibit A.

2019 1216 aunt diane

Here is a true and recent story about my Aunt, Diane Householder Norrbom.

A couple of weeks ago Diane’s sister, my Mother, Jane Stoneman, had half her power go out in her house when lightning struck quite nearby. Supposedly all fuses and breakers were checked. Two major electrical firms, George Brazil and Parker Brothers, were called for diagnosis and help. The George Brazil estimate came in at $14,000. Parker Brothers wanted $11K. Diane drives over from California. Finds a fuse box no one checked, including the two prestigious firms listed above. Finds replacement fuses in a drawer. Hey, presto–full power.

But it gets worse, then better. Some signs all is not right. Home security batteries need to be replaced, plus at least one surge protector. Diane goes to Home Depot. “Picked up a guy there who said he was an electrician,” says Diane. She took him to Mom’s and he finds that the intermittent-outage problems that are still occurring are due to APS (Arizona Public Service Company, Mom’s power supplier) not doing a good job when they switched Mom to a “smart meter.” They call APS. APS checks, ACKNOWLEDGES FAULT, and makes things right. Mom’s house’s wiring fully restored. Diane spent a LOT less than a grand–maybe between $250 and $500–to completely fix the problem, and update the maintenance on the alarm system’s backup power to boot.

At the same time, she got Mom a new, dependable yard guy, who worked tirelessly to clear tree-debris and get Mom’s yard back on track. She did a boatload of other things too. All in one long weekend.

So this is my salute to her. It’s awfully clumsy. Diane is Beautiful, but my portrait of her is off the mark, because, as always with those I care deeply about, I tried too hard and clenched up. But the respect and love is there.

In the poem, I call her an “Uber-Mama.” That’s not saying she drives an Uber. It’s saying she’s the Mama of all Mamas. Heck, she’s even playing Mama to MY Mama at this point. She has a power of attorney, and thank Heaven she does–enough said about that!

I also compare her to Top Ramen, that favorite of college students, because Dirt Cheap Yet Gets The Job Done. It is extraordinarily difficult to get Diane to agree to be reimbursed for the many things she’s done on Mom’s behalf.

The poem refers to a “passe-partout.” A Passe-Partout is a key that will get you through any door. I have barely scratched the surface of all the doors Diane has opened along her journey. She is an incredible survivor, and beloved by many.

My Amazing and Heroic Aunt Diane

Matriarch and Uber-Mama
Youngster (in your 60s)–you
Are like noodles of Top Ramen
Much like Heaven/passe-partout
And your Deeds are truly Legend
Zapping Evil Right and Left. I
Illustrate your fine Agenda
Nipping-budding Waste & Theft. In
Grace nigh-Wiccan Pitch & Blende


2019 1215 athwart 01

First appeared, slightly altered, in the Facebook group Poets All Call, on December 8, 2019.


a career path
a ladder climb
a dog-eating claw to the top
a goose-stepping march to world domination

is a progression that comes soon or late
to lucifer’s defiant attempt to unseat
the Almighty

and so we come to the insight
gained by viewing the progression
OF progression

ambition to competition to acquisition
and they are toxic when concentrated
when focused like a magnifying lens
redirecting the sun’s rays

mussolini was a bullyboy buffoon
pol pot a whack-a-mole murderer
george armstrong custer a backstabbing butcher

and donald son of fred
is a dream-perverting pipsqueak
is a crazed captain bligh
misleading the ship of state
athwart of mercy and decency

the history of conquest is stained
with the doings of soulless thugs
and in this latest chapter
a mob has been seduced and gathered

crush it we cannot: we become mobsters
resist we must
yet the nature of the resistance
must not run athwart
of our decent american souls

the decent american soul
the rebuilder of cities
the feeder of the starving
the welcoming lamplifter
is a shivering weakened flame now
yet subflames are in each of us
and may be brought ablaze
with the championing of Truth
and Justice

love enemies
that they may cease to be


Last Monday I had a rugged conversation with my apartment and thereafter resolved to do massive cleanup. It has been slow and unsteady going, as my apartment knew it would be. But this morning I’m putting in another slug of work.

The drawer in the kitchen to the right of the sink is now relieved of about three pounds of American coin, with an estimated value of $35 or so. About half of the value is in the dimes. They and the other coins now rest in nested vessels I made this year.

Also in the drawer was a treasured keepsake, an inscribed pocket watch, gift of my high school and college sweetheart. The inscription reads GARY/”YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND.”/LOVE GAYLE/1974. Forty-five years ago we were SO young and SO much in love, and ” You’ve Got a Friend” was our song. That was about five lifetimes ago.

The heartbeat goes on. After I do the dishes I’ll bag all but the quarters up (quarters are for laundry) and casb them in at Fry’s, a local grocery store, and buy toilet paper, coffee, coffee additive, and disposable razor blades with some of the proceeds.

After that, in the catchy words of my former classmate and co-conspirator and friend Charles Goss, “I have no plans for the rest of my life.” Except to sculpt, smile, work, and look for love. 🙂


Some time last month the eminent Slam Poet Bernard “The Klute” Schober reached out to me via text, inviting me to collaborate with him yet again. He’d written a new poem based on a maritime incident that to this day is enshrouded in mystery. Would I care to try an illustration?

So I read the poem, and pondered it, and read it to my ex-wife Joni and daughter Kate, and got input from them, and pondered some more, and then tried my hand at “concept rough” sketching. And I bombed. My sketching captured NONE of the essence of the poem, and was lackluster and confusing to boot. More sketching didn’t help.

Then I got the lightbulb. SKETCHING was the wrong approach to this visceral, gutslamming piece. Try SCULPTING. See what happens.

What happened is what you see. It is not the final version of the image, which will involve apparatus and Morse Code, but it is the essence. Today I’ll do more ceramic sculpting, not with the trepidation that went with the sketching, but with the confidence and “high”ness of someone who has found the right track.

The moral of this creative-process story is “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, but try a different approach.”

Please stay tuned!


Today Dez the Manager said, “Hey, Sunshine, guess what I’ve got for you.” (Dez calls everyone Sunshine the way  that gal in KING OF THE HILL called everyone, including God, “Shoog,” short for Sugar.)  “I have no idea,” I told Dez, but I should have, because last month she said I’d soon get an envelope of appreciation for four years of employment with SSP. So we took a picture, and Dez was nice enough to hunker down enough so that I appear taller than she is.


Here we are, Dez looking like what Kellyanne Conway wishes SHE looked like, and I looking like a Macy’s Parade balloon that flew too close to the ground.

It’s a strange world, Friends, and I’m glad I’m here.


Before December 3rd, 2012, I had set a monthly reminder to start a blog. Month after month the reminder would pop up and I just wouldn’t have the oomph to get on to a blog-posting site. But on 3/12/2012 I oomphed–and it was ridiculously easy to set up my blog. I wrote and posted “The Great Gettin’ Up Morning” while it was still morning, and the rest is history–recorded history. One thousand, four hundred and sixty-one little explorations. Seems like a lot, but I feel like I only scratched the surface. On the other hand, it will give a viewer–you, for instance–a good idea of who I am and what I stand for, and against. Love and loss is in plenitude here, as are the pinnacles and chasms of the creative process. And suffusing the entire seven-year journey is a celebration of Friendship. I have many treasured friends. I met some of them as a direct result of this blog–Jen, Michel, Tiffany, Marta, Shawn, Jamie, G. E., Alf, “kwiksand”, Chantal–perhaps YOU reading this now–thank you all. I toast you with my Eggnog.


Friends, this is done in haste. I hope to edit at leisure.

It is the First of December. I’m hoping to end some bad habits and form good ones by the end of the year. Accordingly, because I had the opportunity, I began a walk pre-dawn that ended with the Sun high in the sky. It is a fine way to start a day.