Tag Archives: illustration

2021 1230 candidacy
NOTE: A version of this poem appeared in Facebook, earlier in December, 2021. The poem was altered, partly to better suit the illustration.)

(to Nina Pak)



–am i talking to God now, or to myself?
—what’s the difference? i am everything. i am you too.
–got it. i think. can i ask you a favor?
—i dunno–CAN you? –sorry. sure, ask away. why should you be different from the billions of people who tell me what to do? BLESS this. DAMN that. and those laundry-list prayers!! –sorry. fire away.
–i am lonely. i want a Special Someone in my life.
—what, another one? you have oodles of Special Someones in your life.
–cmon, God, You know what i mean.
—of course I do. but I’m not going to let you get away with anything. it’s for your own good. –okay, you want someone in your life that is not only special but half of a couple, with you as the other half, yes?
—do you have a preferred gender?
–as if you didn–sorry. female.
—okay. that narrows the field by almost half.
—right now there are more female than male humans on earth. they live longer, and have a slightly higher birth rate. age preference?
–ideally, my age or older. realistically, over 43 but under 82.
—racial preference?


—why did you pause?
–i had to think about it.
–because i thought it would be best to review my history. and i have. and race was never an issue.
—but most of your involvements have been with white women.
—point taken. any deal-breakers?
–no tobacco smokers please. no active alcoholics, please. no hard druggers. [pause] no active gamblers. or if they’re active, nonaddicted.
—that’s a good one. hypocrite.
–hey, i’ve sworn off. [brief pause] look at my record. gave it up for a special someone once, for more than two years.
—stipulated. any other dealbreakers?
–no non-poets.
—everyone is a poet.
–no non-my-kind-of-poets.
—there’s only one of them, and that’s you. and you are not female.
–forget it then. [pause] she should be healthy enough to have another five years in her. she should be strong-willed, but not so much so that she regards me as a fix-and-flip project. she should have, or be willing to acquire, healthy eating habits.
—good to know what you want. you haven’t mentioned tits yet.
–i don’t care about tits.
–hey, I’ve evolved. at least two of the most attractive women i’ve known have had double mastectomies. one of them refused reconstructive surgery. am i lying?
—no, aside from some mental gymnastics. sport, there are still thousands of candidates, but in terms of percentage, you’re headed for the one-in-a-million range. anything else?
–god, let’s cut to the chase. You KNOW me. how many suitable candidates ARE there?


—sonny, the real answer is not how many candidates meet your criteria. there are either 942 or 28 or 119 of those, depending on what happens between now and the end of the year. but the problem is YOU. you do not meet all of THEIR criteria. you’re too short for some of them, too irreverant for some of them, not irreverent enough for a few of them, too fat for a lot of them, too lean for three of them. etcetera. and your politics! jeezus meezus!
[pause, with quiet weeping]
–so, am i going to be lonely forever?
—no. yes. depends.
–on me, right? i need to shape up?
–yes. you’re starting to get it. you need to be more Healthy.
–okay. i will.
—and you need to be patient.
—but you also need to be IMpatient.


–always am.
—most of all you need to be Enthusiastic.
–“God within me.” i’ll try to remember.


—let’s have some wine. I have some left over from a Wedding.

[wine and two wineglasses materialize]

—to Enthusiasm.

[they drink]

—and forget about Me watching. YOU’LL be watching.
[sketchy smile]
Note: There’s a book out there called CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD. I have not read it, despite my friend Melissa recommending it to me long ago. (At least I think I haven’t read it. I have memory issues.) But I imagine I’m in the same (approximate) garden that the author of CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD was tending. It will be interesting to read that book and see if there is overlap.

Here is an illustration for a story that has not been told, much less sold. I invite you to write that story and then either tell it in a comment on this post, or sell it on the open market. (No compensation to me, other than acknowledgment that I inspired you, is necessary.)



(First published, sans illustration, on July 7 in Facebook group Poets All Call)

2020 0726 enigmatism2

They ate me alive yet I live. It’s perplexing
To walk and draw breath though in stomachs digesting
I guess it’s a metaphor pho, sis, and flexing
Reality’s shape just for grins and for cresting.
Before ’53 I was nutmeg and veiling
Then half of me swam to the other half waiting
And storming the cellular castle assailing
Exploding within for the DNA mating.
I don’t guess I’ll be here in tangible form
A half century hence, and that gives me the shivers,
But the Universe leaves me to stray from the norm
And I eagerly wait to see what She delivers.


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!


I was in the middle of a much, much longer version of the poem I’ve done here, typing directly into my timeline on Facebook–when all that I had written just winked out of existence. I tried to get it back but no dice, and probably no big loss. It went into detail about the Vegan restaurant, and its cuisine, and the foam-heart on the mocha’s surface that I destroyed with spoonful after spoonful of sugar; and it had a couple of word-choice startles and an Indiana Jones metaphor, but I was taking forever to get to the point.

apple oat barnacle muffin

my teeth–

two in particular–

were endangered by the

barnacle crust of the

“apple oat muffin.”

but the spongy interior was my

s  a  l  v  a  t  i  o  n  .

let my people feed 05312017

I have just returned from Manuel’s, a restaurant and cantina in easy walking distance, after a hugely entertaining discussion with a man who hired me to illustrate his poetry, and was magnaminous enough to permit me to use the images he got from me though he owns them outright.

His name is Bernard Schober. The Valley poetry scene knows him as The Klute. He is so interested in sharks and their place in the Universe that he goes to see them in Fiji and other habitats, caging himself when necessary. His enthusiasm about these unique creatures lights him up–when the talk turned to Guitar Sharks and the way their teeth form an amazing pattern, he almost fell over himself getting an image on his smartphone and showing me.

Good for him. He is spreading truth about these much-maligned creatures in his poetry. The illustration that heads this post concerns an Israeli shark whose white-topped dorsal fin is remindful of a yarmulke. His poem put to rest the vile canard that the shark was deliberately placed in Egyptian waters by Israel to wreak havoc. The illustration makes a lot more sense with the poem than without it. That’s the delight of collaboration.

black tip hunt 06042017

In his poem “The Hunt” he compares the hunt for prey with the hunt for a mate among the black tip sharks.

great white 06042017

Another poem explores Commensalism, the biological arrangement between creatures of different species for mutual benefit. Great Whites get along win-winningly with three such creatures.

Bernard and I talked also about more poems to illustrate up the road. He’s also thinking of a children’s book. I hope we do more of this stuff, and soon!



SHARKS: Poet and shark enthusiast Bernard Schober, whose nom de guerre is The Klute, has in the last five weeks commissioned me to illustrate four poems of his. I put the finishing touches on the last of them yesterday, and tomorrow I’ll hand over the originals and be handed payment of two kinds. I’m quite grateful for the work, and tickled that I got to be Ralph Steadman to his Hunter S. Thompson. (Not that I have exclusive Steadmanship; he has other Steadmans on call, including our superhero friend Russ “Speed Cameron” Kazmierczak.) I worked really hard on these drawings, and a big motivator was a wish to match the quality of the poetry.

SHANKS: “Shank’s Mare” is another way of saying “on foot.” I now own a Fitbit, a device that records and stores my steps per day along with other biometrics.

THANKS: My daughter Kate gave me an early Father’s Day gift in the form of an all-day pass to ComiCon Phoenix on Sunday, the 30th of May. The cake for that icing was that she and I got a lot of quality time together, including eats and a DVD afterward. She is great comic-convention, meal and movie company, and my gratitude to her for that special day continues.


HANKS: I now own the DVD of ROAD TO PERDITION, and this morning watched it, freezing the frame now and then to sketch the principals, including Tom Hanks, who got first billing. I am warming up for my next post. Please stay tuned!

image (6)

Here is the “final” version of “buster browne,” my acrostic homage to Jackson Browne. I put “final” in quotes because I had intended to make this an oil pastel, and I may yet, when I am sure I will not ruin it. I refer you to Part 1 for a clue as to how shaky my proficiency with oil pastel is. This drawing has nuances that I cannot yet transcribe into that more difficult medium; but I see nothing wrong with glorious black and white, for now.

The title/acrostic is “buster browne” both for the irony of the reference to the shoe spokesboy Buster Brown and for my admiration for certain of Browne’s songs, in particular “Lives in the Balance,” wherein he calls to account (busts) the Reagan Administration and its shenanigans in Central America. “Lives in the Balance” is equally applicable to other misdeeds worldwide, with passages like this:

In the radio talk shows and TV
You hear one thing again and again
How the USA stands for Freedom
And we come to the aid of a friend.
But who are the ones that we call our friends?
These governments killing their own?
Or the people who find they can’t take any more
And they pick up a gun
Or a brick
Or a stone . . .

Browne is deservedly in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. He has solid songs in each of five consecutive decades. A year ago January I recited “For a Dancer” in its entirety, from memory, at a poetry event after the death of my beloved friend Karen Wilkinson. Here is its finish:

Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming round . . .
Perhaps a better world is drawing near
Just as easily it could all disappear
Along with whatever meaning we may have found . . .
Don’t let the uncertainly turn you around–

( The world keeps turning round and round)

Go on and make a joyful sound!

Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown;
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own,
And some time between
The time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive,
But you’ll never know . . .

Browne could be a bit of a rascal, too, with sexual innuendo. Try on his song “Red Neck Friend” and see where it gets you. And his song “Rosie,” about a sound man who lost a girl to the drummer of the band, has this chorus:

But, Rosie, you’re all right (you wear my ring)
When you hold me tight (Rosie, that’s my thing)
When you turn off the light (I got to hand it to me . . .)
Looks like it’s me and you again tonight,

And that is why in my drawing, in the background sub-portrait, I have Jackson Browne sporting a halo that also puts bunny ears, or devil’s horns, on him.

Here are the words, which refer to his songs “The Pretender,” “Walking Slow,” “For Everyman,” and “Running on Empty.”

buster browne

bitterness of brew and herb
urgency!!! dissolve and stir
some pretender? we dunno
though he takes his walking slow
every man ought say it plain
runs on empty keep us sane


image (7)

Here is a rough cut of the illustrated version of my poem “come love me.” In Part 2 I intend to have a less sketchy illustration and a more calligraphic transcription, and I am also thinking of writing variations and additional stanzas. But as of now the words are these:

come love me

come love me said the blinking text
come play with fire come share my bed
we will disrobe and do what’s next
with no regrets and nothing said

come love me he replied at last
we’ll dine on scones & tea & such
our eyes will meet our souls hold fast
our hopes will mix our psyches touch

come love me now and bring your trust
her answer came ten minutes hence
we will be naked as we must
our lust become our testaments

come love me if you dare he wrote
we’ll shed our bodies get our bliss
we need no flesh to cross the moat
nor lips to frame the perfect kiss

an hour passed
two hours


the silence s t r e t c h e d and

they sought a love
had never been

they wanted something







image (4)

The final vignette concerns Santa Claus’s psychic tussle with a mysterious menace who appears to be Native American. This staredown may have only one survivor.

There was more to my cover design than the four drawings I’ve posted. I embedded them in a template that includes the masthead/logo of AMAZING ARIZONA COMICS, and I also added a title and subtitle at the bottom, reading “SUMMER ALBUM ISSUE/featuring SPEED CAMERON, SANTA CLAUS, and their Friends & Foes.” Since AAC is Russ’s brainchild, I’ve encouraged him to make any changes to my drawings, design or title that he wishes. I frankly don’t know how the finished product is going to look–but I can hardly wait to find out.