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2022 0120 bob and his mom0001

My Big Brother from Another Mother, Bob Kabchef, shared my poem “vapor trail” with his readership today, prefacing it with a description that tickles me: “The guy’s a veritable volcano of virgin verbaciousness.” Thing is, though, volcanic though I may be sometimes, I owe a lot to Bob throwing title prompts at me, during a weekly event that I produce for our Facebook poetry group Poets All Call. Yesterday he offered a bouquet of titles, three of which were

Eloosive
Pasta your prime
I never knew that

Funny how the mind works. “Write a poem, Gary” will yield brain fog, confusion, and unproductiveness. But “Write a bunch of poems using these titles, Gary” and I am off to the races. I cranked these out in less than an hour.

Eloosive

The loosely-jointed burglar
Squeezed thruogh the junkyard’s crevices
A dog much like a murderer
Was also on the premises
A silent lethal frothing beast
With much adrenaline released
His mission: see the thief deceased
But Burgle-Man was wily;
The challenge made him smiley.

He topped a mound of carcasses
Of Ford and Studebaker
The doggoe climbed sans barkuses
To make the thief meet maker
But slipped on chrome, an effort-ender
The thief said, “Thank you, Freddy Fender!”
He knew the dog would change his gender
If given half a chance;
Best leave this scrappy dance.

The thief slunk out of sight, and grabbed
A carburetor, slinging
It to a heap away, which clabbed
And rung a tone for zinging
And Hellhound was beguiled away
And our eloosive thief ran très
Vite to the fence and up, to sway
Atop, and yelled “Yoo Hoo,
Au ‘voir, O Doggie-Poo!”

Pasta your prime

One minute on the microwave
Another on your lips
A lifetime in your fat so brave
Engirdling your hips.

The pasta you so willfully
Devoured in your youthfulness
Metabolized so skillfully
And vanished, in all truthfulness,

But as the decades drift on by
We slow, we stroll, we’re no so spry,
And pleasures stir and goodies fry
And sing a glutton’s lullaby

Inveigling in its rhyme,
Your ribs are Pasta Prime.

I never knew that

I never knew that
Nor did I know this
Nor the other thing
But it’s not for lack of trying

And sifting through
A lifetime of Thisses
And all those Thats
And the host of Other Things

For that particular That
This specific This
And the like-no-other Other Thing

That we all wonder
And whisper
And worship
About:

This Unknowable
That Indescribable
Other Thing
On the Other Side.

****

Many thanks to my Big Bro Bob, who is a fine and expressive poet in his own right!

2022 0117 risk disk

Though it is undated, and may be reworked at a later time, this drawing is essentially done as of today, January 17, 2022. Today is Betty White’s 100th birthday. Betty is no longer with us but her legacy of empowerment for women–she led by superb example–and reverence for animals is alive and well.

Two days ago I briefly served as a Docent for the Glendale Arts Council, spending the afternoon at Sahuaro Ranch Park welcoming visitors into the Fruit Packing Building, where the Council’s 58th annual Juried Fine Arts Show was in progress. After I had done my duty I took a long hike to my friend Martin Klass’s house. Before I had gone a mile I was walking past a mini-flock of sheep, and I stopped to take pictures, and some of them left the flock and came up to the fence, thus:

2022 0115 sheeps

I was subsequently compelled to write this about our encounter:

no baa, no humbug

out the gates of sahuaro ranch park
and east on mountain view
west of fifty-first ave
reside livestock
including sheep
who were clumpingly champing on grass
bout fiddyfeet from the chainlink

and were so bored
that a pedestrian with a phone cam
was a welcome distraction

and three nay four
came up to the fence
to say hello
and mouth-grab dry leaf from the links

they were mellow
matter-of-fact
and i hope not disappointed
that i gave them only
murmurs

Two days later, rereading the poem, it seems to me that it sounds eerily similar to the “voice” of William Carlos Williams in his famous poem “This Is Just To Say.” I gratefully acknowledge his influence.

As for my own poetic voice, in the form of the acrostic poem in the image above, here it is, transcribed:

risk disk

ruminate in fleece array’d
indolence: it’s toujours gai
sacrificial-lamming desks
keep it pesky–add some pesk

And the image, which was sketched and calligraphed on a card approximately 3″ by 5″, is a rather muddled blend of at least three faces. the central face is that of the ewe in the photo, the one on the right. It is flanked by a couple, one of whom has one hand on top of the other’s, though that is nearly impossible to see, what with the superimposition of ewe-face and poem. There MAY be a duck’s profile helping the ewe’s right ear do double-duty, and there MAY be a grinning clam doing the same with the left ear. (In this surreal Image-Universe, clams are every bit as sentient as were the oysters in Lewis Carroll’s famous poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter.”)

I say MAY be, because this image is preliminary to a much larger drawing on the same type of paper, but with 32 times more square footage. (Inchage? [smiles]) I hope to spend at least a week on the larger, more elaborated, less murky drawing. It is inevitable that I will find new things to say and draw to honor Betty White and her love for all creatures, which is ancillary but vital to this image. (Notice how the sheep is saying “Happy Heavenly Birthday, Betty White!) I love the idea of having some small part in continuing the divine Ms. White’s earthly mission. And so, inspired by the example of mypoet and professional-organizer friend Michelle Frost, today I made a modest donation to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Friends, I urge you to make some donation to some animal-advoicacy group today.

2022 0117 aspca donation

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.)

candidacy
(to Nina Pak)
[pause]

–God?
—yeah?

[pause]

–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?
–yeah.
—do you have a preferred gender?
–as if you didn–sorry. female.
—okay. that narrows the field by almost half.
–almost??
—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?

[pause]

–no.
—why did you pause?
–i had to think about it.
—why?
–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.
–so?
—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.
—liar.
–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?
[pause]
—none.

[pause]

—yet.
–WHAT??!
—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.
–right.
—but you also need to be IMpatient.

[pause]

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

[pause]

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

[wine and two wineglasses materialize]

—to Enthusiasm.
–amen!

[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.

20210701_142112

Gamblin’ Fool and the Lucky Ladies

The Valley of the Sun in Arizona has casinos
And some of the Blackjack tables have a side bet called Lucky Ladies

Bet a buck or more on the Lucky Ladies
And if the two cards you are dealt total 20
You have won at least four bucks
Even if it’s an ace and a nine.
If the two cards are the same suit you have won at least nine bucks,
If the two cards are identical face cards you have won at least nineteen bucks,
And if the two cards are both the Queen of Hearts,
You have won
At Least A HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE BUCKS.

But if
The Two Cards
Are BOTH QUEENS OF HEARTS
AND THE DEALER HAS A BLACKJACK
You Have WON
A THOUSAND DOLLARS
FOR EVERY DOLLAR YOU BET.

It is called a “Sucker Bet”
Because the odds are much against you.

(Let’s have a brief interlude into Probability;
Please skip this stanza if uninterested.
For a double deck, which is close enough for our demo,
The odds are two in 104, or one in 52,
of you getting the first Queen of Hearts,
And the odds are one in 103
Of you getting the second Queen.
So already you’re looking at odds of one in 5,356 of getting those Queens.
Of the 102 cards remaining,
Eight are Aces
And 30 are face cards.
So of the 10,202 ways the dealer can get two of the remaining cards
There are eight ways he can get an Ace on the first card,
30 ways he can get a face card on the second card.
So, of course, there are 30 ways to get a face card on the first card
And eight ways to get an Ace on the second.
So 240 times two is 480 ways she can have a Blackjack.
Divide 480 by 10,202
And you get odds of a little worse
Than 1 in 20.
So the odds of you getting two Queens of Hearts
And at the same time the dealer getting Blackjack
Are less than one in 107,120.
That means they pay out less than 2 cents on the dollar
Of the true odds
That it happens.
Sucker!!)

But sometimes Suckers Win.
And the Gamblin’ Fool
On this auspicious occasion
Had not one but THREE dollars bet on the Lucky Ladies.
He let out a Whoop when the Queens appeared,
And felt light-headed when the dealer, in a sweet conspiratorial voice
Said “I do have the Blackjack.”

So there he was, winner of THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS…
Or WAS he?

First they called Upstairs
To run the vid
To establish that everything was on the up and up.
The Gamblin’ Fool had to fill out a couple of forms.
One was a W-2G
Which meant the three grand was Taxable Income.
Another was an Agreement
With the option to let the Casino use the event and his likeness
In promotional material.
(He passed.)

When the smoke cleared the dealer,
A sweet person of color,

Who seemed genuinely thrilled for him,
Handed the Gamblin’ Fool
Six purple $500 chips
And he in turn handed her a hundred-dollar bill as a tip
Wondering if he was being a Cheapskate.

When he turned in the chips he tipped the cashier $20,
Saying “My lucky day.”

He left the Casino with his head held high,
Finally Walking Away A Winner,
Two ghostly
Lucky Ladies
By his sides.

On Saturday, August 14, Banner Urgent Care called me to let me know I had tested positive for Covid-19. Pfizer vaccinations had in April were an insufficient bulwark for the ravaging hordes. So from that day to this I have dealt with a debilitating fatigue and up to two days ago there was also a dryish, yappy-dog-persistent cough.

A few days ago I received a monoclonal antibody infusion, intended to keep my mild symptoms from worsening. I had no side effects and my cough went away. Coincidence?

The second most creative-energetic thing I did during this episode was this Covid Edition To-Do list. I never got around to that Laundry Prep, but I’m doing the blog post now.

As for the most creative-energetic thing, here it is. On an index card I describe what has happened to me and advise myself not to succumb. I didn’t.

If I can get to noon tomorrow without a fever, my quarantine ends and I will totter back out into the world, overjoyed to be among the living. Be CAREFUL out there, Friends!!

your noodle is a wonderland
of fixt intent and reminisce
of journeys by the lump and strand
and newfound hope and longlost bliss

so treat your noodle with respect
and seek new treasures for its store
be caring kind and circumspect
and own your deeds and go for more

2021 0519 catty poem

catty poem

o to be a frisky feline
make for snacks and feasts
eke a living at the treeline
run with other beasts
taking shelter in a hollow
danger/fun/annoyance
you’ll be fine and kits’ll follow
with a cat’s clairvoyance

Some people are Dog people, some Cat people. I consider myself both.

The man the world knew as Cordwainer Smith was a Cat person. He had a cat named Cat Melanie who inspired his iconic character C’mell, who by appearances was a human being but was in fact one of the Underpeople, derived from cat DNA.

If you’ve never read a Cordwainer Smith story, “The Ballad of Lost C’mell” is available in PDF form. If you are a Cat person I think you will enjoy it. Cat person or not, I think you will find a sense of wonder and magic in Smith’s fables.

IMG_20210315_185700_592

feat o clay

storebought clay comes in 25lb bags
two bags fit within a 50lb box
forty boxes make a one-ton pallet
and it is cheaper by the ton
but let’s start with what one bag can do

20210315_202546

a quarter of a bag yields an exotic heretofore nonexistent bird
a tenth of a bag might give you a cereal bowl or a small teapot
devoting all 25lb of the bag to one shape might be the life-sized head and shoulders
of a couple of human beings
the same 25lb might depict a village in ultraminiature

2021 0316 vase

“feet of clay” is idiomatic for fallible
but perform a feat o clay
and you become upliftable

2021 0316 closed form

commune
attune
become
one
with
clay

20210303_090112

The ceramic piece with the triangle cutouts was made by me in 2007. The chapbook was made by me, with help from my friends Steve Boyle and Genny Edge, in 2008. I gave both of these creations to my mother soon after they were made, but and they were hers till she died on December 11, 2020, and now they are mine again.

I don’t even remember making the vessel, though I do remember that i did a whole series of cutout pieces back in the day. One of them graced my deceased friend Karen Wilkinson’s front-room table for several years. As for the chapbook, it was a labor of love and I remembered it well, and am grateful that this copy yet exists.

Both works now make me feel strange, and strangely hopeful.