Monthly Archives: January 2020


Once upon a time someone named Heisenberg demonstrated mathematically that observation interferes with reality. There is no such thing as pure watching. Watching makes you part of the story.

So now you are part of the story “n.e.s.” You may choose to be passive, and not offer input on what you are witnessing, but you will never not be part of this story.

You may even take an unignorable part in the shaping of the story. Ask yourself: What does “n.e.s.” stand for? Who is speaking? Where did that person come from? Feel free to offer ideas. There is a long way to go from 2 to 480.

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Two days ago on Facebook I posted a Bad Pun Brain Teaser. I asked my audience which John Denver song was the favorite of Belfast resident Leland Finn. I added that the first person with the correct answer would be the subject of a custom-crafted, illustrated acrostic poem. The acrostic would be a pun on some form of the winner’s name.

Quite soon after I posted, Jessica answered correctly with “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Friends, please take a moment to try to deduce why Belfast resident Leland Finn would regard “Leaving on a Jet Plane” as his favorite song.

Got it? No? Well, Jess DID get it–that the (nonexistent) Leland Finn, also known as Lee Finn, might love airplane travel so much that “Lee Finn on a Jet Plane” might tickle his fancy.

Anybody groan with displeasure? I did, again, and I wrote the damned thing. It is not just a Bad Pun–it is a WRETCHED Pun. But it made a good Brain Teaser for the agile brain of Jessica “Hot Jess” Ballantyne.

So a deal’s a deal, and Jess, Congratulations, and I hope you like it!

Won’t You Be My Ballantyne?

What a Pleasure ’tis to B
On a Role with scones and tea
Ne’er a Worry e’er a Thrill
‘Tis a maid with looks to Kill
Yesterday in Slam’s arena
Awesome Tactics meat and Vegan
Bittersweetness to a T
Esoteric artistry
May this Worthy Lass long reign
Young and gleefully Insane



out of respect and admiration for the subject of this post, valley performance poet bill campana, lowercase will be used throughout, in the style (if not with the astonishing wit) of bill’s outstanding poetry.

bill took me to breakfast this morning. it was part of a deal we’d agreed on to put a ceramic vase i’d made, and bill had seen in my blog post “foom-bozzle-wozzle, part 3,” on long-term loan to bill. it is now in bill’s possession, and i’m proud as can be.

bill and i go back more than ten years, back to my early days of poetry performance, when i was still nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, and bill was supplementing his income with serious money earned by winning poetry slam competitions. in 2010 bill was the host of a the open-mic poetry event “sound effects,” and in may of that year he decreed that may 2010 was “gary bowers month.” that decree incentivized me to write, and perform, some of my best poetry.

pondering why he “gary bowers month”ed me way back when, bill attributes it to impulse: “i just did it.” but once he did it, he stuck to it, and riffed on it, and made a real something out of his impulsive throwaway thought.

and that, i think, is some of what makes his poetry enduring and deep, and much more than funny. under the hilarity is solid structure and soul.

as for the breakfast, at the ranch house grill on east thomas road, it was magnifent. we both had the signature dish of the day, a pork chili verde omelet, with hashbrowns and toast–i had sourdough and bill had the rye. conversation bounced around from bill’s grandfather, to lingering terminal illness, to personal health, to connecting with grade-school friends, to books, to the three stooges, to lou grubb and his progeny, to local tv persomalities, and on and on. one of many interesting facts: in the first grade, bill read thirty books. by way of reward his teacher sent him a fancy book, and inscribed it “to william.” it was a book about dinosaurs. so bill was into dinosaurs long before “jurassic park” roused public interest in them.

i am going to rent a car and take bill to the matt’s big breakfast on 32nd street and camelback a couple of weeks up the road. “we should do this more often,” one of us said, so we will.


The house on Krall Street inhabited by my unique friend Martin Klass (see Foom-Bozzle-Wozzle parts 1 and 2) is nestled in diverse overgrowth of bucketed flowers, crawling vines, and trees. Marty is a horticulturist and a hoarder, so much so that the City has issued him at least one citation, and not the good kind, either.

Yesterday I made my public-transport way to Marty’s place, and found to my mild dismay that a ceramic vase, which I had made and either given to Marty or had it dumpster-dived by him when I cleaned out my former workshop after my amicable divorce with the very nice small-town Minnesota gal Joni née Froehling, was in one of Marty’s flower-buckets, toppled over. I grabbed the vase and tried to open the screen door of the house, but it was strangely stuck. “HELLO…”

“Bongo!” replied Martin son of Max & Betty. (He calls me Gary infrequently. “Bongo,” “Ca’Bear,” and “Bernanke” are more frequent forms of address.) “Jussaminit!”

Inside his enslovened abode, I brandished the vase, told him how I’d found it, and accused him of neglect. He nodded in agreement and assured me that many other works of my creation on his property were being neglected, and that some in his back yard had been destroyed in storms. (I knew that already and it didn’t bother me–a lot of what Marty had were “factory seconds” of mine, unsuitable as showpieces. Prolificity’s downside is also its upside.)

I had a proposition for Marty, spawned when I picked up my vase. I was there to pick up the bird sculpture that had been rejected by Bruce Cody, the juror of the Glendale Arts Council’s 57th annual Juried Show. But I would rather have the vase, made by me on the 19th of May 2003 and having a suggestion of hard-to-capture antiquity, of ancient days, about it, than the rejected bird, made recently, which I could easily replicate in a couple of hours spread out over a couple of bisquing/glazing weeks. How about a trade?

Marty instantly agreed, and also agreed to pose for a photo illustrative of the trade:


I left soon after, but before I left I said, “You’re my best friend,” perhaps quoting Jessica Tandy as Miss Daisy, or perhaps telling him a simple truth.

2020 0118 christy

This is Christy White. She is now, and has often been, the President of the Arizona State Poetry Society. Sometimes she has been its Treasurer. I have known her for about ten years, and a few times I’ve participated in poetry-sharing meetings she has conducted at the Mustang branch of the Phoenix Public Library. We see each other at spoken-word poetry events as well, both of us being enthusiastic participants in open mic.

Early last October Christy asked me if I’d be willing to be a featured “Poet/Artist” and cover artist for Sandcutters, the poetry anthology that ASPS now produces annually. I was glad to agree, and I invited her to harvest my blog for whatever she thought would be fit to print.

Yesterday, Saturday, we met at the Arizona Center, at Cold Stone Creamery, so that I could treat her and myself to a sundae, and she could treat me to the 2019 edition of Sandcutters. Christy had the Apple Dumpling Sundae, and I had the Chocolate Delight in the I Love It size. (I did in fact love it.) We talked about poetry, personal histories, The Vagina Monologues, Neil Diamond, Elvis Presley, and this and that and other things for about an hour. Christy is a spellbinding storyteller and her playfulness is complemented by a beautiful, mischievous grin.

And we took a couple of pictures, I of her and her of me holding her anthology featuring my artwork and poetry, and the poetry of a host of creative, talented people from across the country as well as from the Valley of the Sun.  Teens and oldsters, New Yorkers and small-towners, all participated–it’s a wonderfully diverse crop.

2020 0118 gary

Here I am on Page 142:

2020 0118 bird

There’s more of me, and MUCH more from about five dozen award-winning poets, between the covers of this fine publication. The hard work that Christy threw into the book shows on every page. And it can be a fine addition to YOUR library for the unbelievably low price of Nine Dollars US!!! If you’re interested, please go to Or if you’re in the Valley and want a free sundae to go with your purchase, let me know with a reply to this post, and I’ll see to it!

Today I left work early and went to Sahuaro Ranch Park, where my sculptured bird is on display as part of the 57th Annual Glendale Arts Council’s Juried Show. I found my bird, “Cockeyed Optimist,” on a little pedestal:


Less than an hour later I was sitting in front of the entrance of the library just north of Sahuaro Ranch Park, and a peacock walked by and then stood in front of me:


As for being Tubered, I have been on this planet for more than 65 years, and only today learned that the word “tuber” comes from the same source as “protuberant.” It delights me that “tuber” is bookended by “pro” and “ant.” Just waiting to be unearthed by a word-digger in need of sustenance! 🙂


Once upon a time–yesterday, to be specific–I had lunch with a special person, with whom I was once romantically involved. She was making changes in the décor of her abode, and had brought me a wire sculpture I had made while we were involved, and a vase I had done that my mother gave to her.

We had a nice, resolving chat. No regrets about having been involved, no hard feelings, and no reason not to remain friends.

Before we parted company she talked me into accepting some citrus fruit and potatoes that came from her father, whom she’d visited before we got together for lunch. Subsequently I did some shopping, and my evening meal featured a delicious baked potato. This is what it looked like just before I dug in:


All in all the day was quite therapeutic–and nourishing as well.


Today in the mail came the news that one of my entries for the 57th annual Glendale arts Council Juried Fine Arts Competition was selected for inclusion in the show.

My delight at being included is made more savory by the fact that this acceptance makes SIX consecutive decades that I’ve gotten in at least one year. Way back in 1975, when I was an art student at the University of Arizona, my artwork was included in the show for the first time. Kept plugging away during the 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s, with an acceptance/rejection rate of maybe 60% or so for the years I entered. Some years I struck out completely. One year I went 3 for 3.

I grew up in Glendale, Arizona so I try to enter the show when feasible, being a loyal son of Glendale.

The birds above were not entered, but were made along with the entries (also clay sculptures of birds) in the same “Beyond Basic Wheel Throwing” class I’ve been taking at the Thunderbird Center for the Arts, instructed by master potter Jon Higuchi. If you want to see the bird that is in the show, please make your way to the Fruit Packing Plant at Sahuaro Ranch Park, just north of Glendale Community College. A display of all entries will be there January 11th and 12th, and the pieces in the Juried Show will be available to view from the 14th through the 26th, 10AM to 5PM. Stay tuned for a future post of the show itself, Friends!

This is a drawing that was started after I had a dream about a singer who made a deal with the Devil. I suspect the dream was influenced by the short story “One Night of Song” by Isaac Asimov, but his did not include a literal Hell but a figurative one, the Hell of One-Hit Wonders.


Notice the drawing is unsigned and undated. It is unfinished, and the story it illustrates is as yet unwritten. I’ve been doing the drawing for weeks now–a few more days, or even one more day, couldn’t hurt.