Monday, November 29, 2010


Snow means snow men and sled hills.
Slow drive times and accidents.
Rosy cheeks of laughing children.
Cups of hot chocolate.
I shovel snow with joy...for a while.
Soon it tires me.
Somehow, I still welcome it.
I remember clearing it off deep lagoons.
My friends and I ice skated in city parks.
We saw full moons, and felt brisk Chicago winds.
Night time skating was magical.
This winter life is for the strong and young at heart.
Now, I wait for the first snow.
My white, fluffy friend will be here soon.
Midwesterners will drink their whiskey and strong coffee.
They will sit in bars and homes.
They will stare out of windows at the snow.
They will picture their personal winter dreams.
Their dreams of past memories.
Present realities.
Future snowy wishes.
So many winter thoughts,
are brought on by the snow.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


My wife is dragging all the decorations out of the basement and garage today. It's the post-Thanksgiving continuation of shopping frenzy. Now we all get to enjoy the decoration "hullabaloo". I hide in my study and watch college football. I don't really like most of the games, but as long as Debbie hears the roar of the crowd, I am relatively safe from doing any work. I will watch snippets of the Notre Dame vs. USC tonight, during commercial breaks.

I love Notre Dame, probably because I saw the film "Rudy", at least fifteen times. I also went to an Irish Catholic high school. I hide in my studio and read Bukowski. So much for Christmas cheer. My family bought me an Ebenezeer Scrooge sweatshirt a number of years ago. I think I gave it away to the American Veteran's Society. I don't remember.

I don't like watching replays of old Christmas movies or wearing reindeer slippers. I used to love Christmas when I drank alcoholically. I had a wonderful excuse to buy extra bottles of expensive Scotch and Liquers. Everyone was my friend, when I was a drunk at Christmas time. I sang Christmas carols and cried when I watched Frank Capra's great movie, "Its A Wonderful Life". Christmas is for drunks, children, and people who are still lucky enough to have a "twinkle in their eyes".

I guess I do like Christmas after all. I'm just a lazy, selfish man who doesn't like putting up Christmas decorations. Shame on me! Maybe I should start drinking again. Naw. That's just the alcoholic demon speaking to me. I'd rather be sober and "Scroogelike".

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Ice cream cones are made in the winter.
Popcorn is popped in the summer.
Beer cans are thrown in the gutters.
The sun hides behind clouds.
It's monotonous.
It happens every day.
It's all the same.
It makes no sense to me.
Babies crying.
Women screaming at their husbands.
Husbands beating their women.
Old men rolling dice in alleys.
People killing each other.
It makes no sense.
The smog envelopes the city.
It's rush hour.
Another day.
More disappointment.
Throw a little joy in the mix.
Cocktails at five p.m.
Cocktails at eight a.m.
It doesn't matter what time they're served.
It's all the same.
There's no sense to any of it.
Especially the ice cream cones in the winter.

Friday, November 26, 2010


It's Black Friday.
People camp out in front of stores.
They deprive themselves of sleep.
To get that big deal.
They are frostbitten.
The rush as the doors open.
Herd behavior.
People are stomped to death.
It will be in the paper tomorrow.
Just a blub.
Some poor soul will lose his life.
On the floors of Walmart.
He died to get that deal.
The person who stomped him to death,
will get the prized HDTV,
or pop corn popper.
Forget your family.
Forget your alcoholism.
Forget your pain.
Consume more.
It's the American Dream.
Get as much as you can.
Before you die.
It's Black Friday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


In the beginning, Thanksgiving was meant to be a day for putting aside muskets, bows and arrows, and animosity between the white man and the red man. I was taught by the good sisters in Catholic grammar school that the two separate cultures sat at the dinner table together in good faith. They shared fowl and maize and various other treats, like mead and peace pipes. After the day was over, the Europeans who were new to America, went back to their savage ways and decimated the gentle American Indian population. This is plain and simply known as genocide.

I often wonder what the modern American Indian thinks about, when he hears the word "thanksgiving"? Does he put a teepee in front of the Walmart store after eating massive amounts of food, watching football, and drinking too much Wild Turkey bourbon? Maybe he camps overnight so he can get a great deal on a new HDTV set for his family on "black Friday". I don't think so.

I think that Thanksgiving should be a day, where people with more than they should have, give presents to people with less than they should have. Maybe we have the concept of this holiday all wrong. We over-eat, over-drink, over-spend, race for parking lot spaces, argue with each other, demonstrate rude behavior, and suffer from the hangovers of excess.

Of course, I thank the Great Spirit for this day. It is a day for reflection and gratitude. I just wish it was a day for giving, rather than what it has become.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I crunched the numbers.
They always add up.
I'm good at math.
I can do it in my head.
I know interest rates.
Annuity tables.
The real estate market.
The stock market.
My bank accounts.
Believe me, I know the money.
I know all the angles.
It's simple.
A whole is just the sum of its parts.
But I can't figure out myself.
My parts don't fit together.
I have to solve this problem.
It's like the "new math" for me.
It causes me excruciating mental pain.
Nothing adds up, with the equation of me.
I have to figure it all out.
Before my number comes up.


DNA is the software of life. Scientists known as bio-engineers have been "monkeying around" with DNA for a long time...(No offense to you, Mr. Charles Darwin)! They're interested in creating new energy sources and new life forms...(Take me to your leader)! Synthetic biology scares the be-Jesus out of me. What is all this new stuff going to do? What are the ramifications for "joe-blows" like me? Where does the research money come from? Is the military going to implement new biological weapons, or new genetic lifeforms? Medical research, private investors, politicians, and so-called "black-ops" are wigging me out, man!

The "squints" out there pretty much know all about the genetic material in the human body. They are now involved in creating new genetic codes. I wonder who is going to be the beneficiary of these new genetic secrets? How do we know that science will be "bio-ethical"? There are many moral questions for us to consider. As populations increase, environments are endangered. New bacterial designs may solve our problems. But knowing mankind, the way I think I know mankind, we'll probably all go to hell in a handbasket.

Monday, November 22, 2010


If someone would help me with my wounds,
give me a crust of bread,
a drink of water,
I would be grateful.
If someone looked at me with a smile,
said hello,
patted me on my back,
stroked my fevered brow,
I would be grateful.
If someone gave me some clean clothes,
a pair of old shoes,
a place to get clean,
a warm bowl of soup,
I would be grateful.
If someone gave me a job,
any kind of work,
for minimum wage,
so I could feel like a man again,
I would work very hard,
and I would be grateful.
If my prayers are answered,
if there's a new tomorrow for me,
if there's light in this darkness,
if I find a way to see,
I will be grateful.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Sundays are good days.
I appreciate them more now, since I am older.
I don't have a hangover anymore on Sundays.
I quit drinking 8 years ago.
I wake up early on Sunday mornings.
I read my big Sunday Chicago Tribune.
I love slowly drinking my coffee.
I don't have to hack and cough as I light a cigarette.
I quit those lousy things 6 years ago.
I usually go to the gym for an easy workout.
I return home to the smells of my wife's great cooking.
On Sundays, I eat anything I want.
There's no diet on Sunday.
I feel energized from my workout.
I'm so grateful for all of these things.
I know I'm loved by my wife and daughter.
I appreciate my home.
I'm retired now, so every day is like a Sunday.
On Sunday, I thank God for all of these gifts.
I try to keep an attitude of gratitude,
not only on Sunday, but through the entire week.
Sundays are for prayer and meditation.
They are for family and recreation.
I use Sundays to recharge my body and my mind.
I don't rush around.
Today, I eat, read, and watch football on TV.
It's my kind of Sunday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Saturday night is blues night in Chicago.
WDCB 90.9 FM, broadcasts the blues every Saturday night.
There's a lot of clubs in town.
People drink, dance and celebrate.
Some just stay at home.
They sit at old kitchen tables.
Pass around a bottle of whiskey or muscatel.
Play cards, smoke cigarettes.
Get rowdy and argue.
They may be smokin' weed or snorting up.
Shooting H or making love.
The party people are rocking in this town.
They rock all night long.
There are murders, automobile accidents,
fistfights, lovemaking, and butt shaking.
It's a tough town, Chicago.
Chicago is the blues.
The city of big shoulders.
The city that used to work.
Chicago is tough.
Yeah, tough as nails.
We don't take any guff.
We don't take it lyin' down.
We may have the blues,
but we've got moxie.
It's blues night in Chicago.
"Hey bartender...we'll have another round."


The cold is the worst.
When you're sitting and you can't warm up.
The brutal winds make it worse.
The ice and snow flies sideways.
It hits me in the face.
It freezes to my beard.
I know I have seven more hours to finish my shift.
My boss is yelling at me to speed it up.
He's sitting in his warm pickup truck.
I see the steam rising from his coffee cup.
He's watching every move I make.
For two cents I'd walk off this damned machine.
I'd pull him out of his truck and kick his ass.
I'd never look back.
I'd trudge through the mud and snow.
I'd get in my truck and never return.
I'd set my heater at full blast.
I thought this thought on many a day.
But I stayed on my machine.
I was a "good German".
I pulled my levers to move his dirt.
I did this for thirty-five winters.
Now it's over.
Some days I long for the wind in my face.
The icicles in my beard.
Just so I can feel something.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Today, I drove into the city of Chicago. I had to attend a wake. The funeral parlor wasn't very far from my old neighborhood. I hadn't been to the old house I grew up in, since I helped my mom move out of there twelve-years ago. She was too old to keep up with it anymore.

Our home was beautiful back in the 60's. We owned a California style, yellow brick bungalow. It was typical of many of the old Chicago homes built in the 40's and 50's. My mom and dad purchased it for $17,000 back in 1955. It amazes me when I think of this low figure. A person can't buy a decent car for this kind of money these days.

My mom and dad always took great care of our house. We had beautiful maple trees out on the front lawn. My brother planted them. I helped with the weeding and gardening. My brother and I also painted the gutters and windows every couple of years. My mom planted beautiful flowers in the yard, and I will never forget her lovely peony bushes, which blossomed every year with the most beautiful, pink fragrant flowers. My dad bought lovely awnings to grace the windows of the house, and after a number of years, we bought a nice chain link fence for the back yard.

My mom always kept the windows washed, and her linoleum floor in the kitchen was always freshly scrubbed and waxed. Our home was spotless, inside and out. We might have been working class people, but we took great pride in the ownership of our home.

As I drove my car down Kedzie Avenue and went west on 72nd Street, my heart sank. My beautiful neighborhood looked like a slum. Garbage was strewn everywhere. Old junk cars sat abandoned all over the streets. In the old days, these same streets had shiny, beautiful cars parked in front of manicured lawns. A run down, beater of a truck with a flat tire sat in front of our house, where Dad used to park his brand new '58 Pontiac. Our house looked dirty and disheveled. The maple trees had been cut down. Nothing but the stumps remained. The once beautiful awnings hung from the windows, broken and blowing in the wind with gaping holes in them. There was no beautiful lawn or garden anymore. Just scads of weeds and dirt. There were junk cars in the back yard, and our beautiful chain link fence was rusted and leaning over on the sidewalk.

Groups of young thugs roamed up and down my street. They glared at me. I suppose they knew I was an outsider. I felt unsafe in what used to be my old neighborhood. I felt like crying. The only thing that looked the same to me was the Nabisco cookie factory. The smells coming from their ovens were still wonderful. The factory never changed. It was always well-maintained. The only difference i could see was that management added barbed wire to the tops of the high fences. I also noticed that they had a couple of security patrol cars parked in their lot. They never need these new additions when I was a kid living in this "hood".

I couldn't wait to drive away. I brought my camera with me, but my heart wasn't into snapping a picture. I guess I wanted to keep my old memories alive. I'll never go back there again.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I'm sitting alone tonight.
Nothing to do.
Nowhere to go.
Just sweet silence.
It envelopes me.
It's nice to turn things off.
The calm is so welcoming.
I like it once in a while.
My mind needs this peace.
I find myself rushing nowhere.
I don't know the reason.
I need to slow myself down.
Live in the moment.
I preach it.
But I'm a liar.
It's hard to live in the NOW.
There's always the rush to nowhere.
It's not fair.
It's just the way things are.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


They call it the "sweet science".
Some guys do it just to train.
But if a man gets into the ring,
he can't be afraid of getting hit.
The more he trains,
the more he spars,
the better he gets.
It's simple.
What really makes a boxer feel good is fighting.
Yeah, I boxed with as many opponents as I could find.
Endurance is important,
but experience and fearlessness often win the day.
A boxer has to watch his diet.
He must eat a high protein, low carb diet.
No drinking, no smoking, and no late hours.
Some guys even forego sex before a bout.
The old timers told me "it weakens the legs".
Finness and good technique must be learned.
But a guy with the sheer will to win,
and a killer instinct often beats the more skillfull fighter.
There's no quit in a good boxer.
It's humiliating to be beat to a pulp in front of your Dad,
and your close friends.
But I'll tell you something...
When a referee pulls your hand up into the air for the first time,
there's nothing like it in the world.
It's the biggest "rush" I've ever experienced.
It was better than finishing my first marathon run.
The closer a bout came to me on the calendar, the more nervous I would get.
All I thought about was jabs, flurries and combinations.
I visualized what I would do to my opponent in the ring.
When I got in there, I blocked everything out except the business at hand.
No-one can teach a boxer how to have heart.
I'd like to think that I had a lot of "heart".
I won more bouts than I lost.
Boxing taught me a lot about life.
It taught me how to face my fears and made a better man out of me.
When I was young my boxing skills made me cocky.
I had to get beat down to learn some maturity and humility.
Today I see the "sweet science" as character development.
I get more from training young guys,
than I ever did from punching someone in the face.
I still hit the speed and heavy bags everyday.
I work on my balance and foot work.
I do a little sparing with my friend Tyrone.
He is an old timer like me who used to work out at Chicago's Windy City Gym.
I have pretty good wind for an old guy.
I'm still having fun at the age of 62.
This is God's gift to me.

Monday, November 15, 2010


They're cooking in Iowa.
Methedrine is in the great farm state.
Everyone is "tweaking", man.
Towns stand deserted.
The buildings are skeletal remains.
Once healthy, the youth are violent.
They are sullen and desperate.
They do what they can to survive.
So do their parents.
They're cooking and growing weed.
Shooting heroin and doing crack.
It's happening all over America.
Local police don't want to arrest old friends,
or good neighbors.
Often they look the other way.
They sometimes protect the operations.
Or some of them take bag money.
This is the sad reality.
How far does it extend?
Drugs are coming in from all over the world.
Now we are doing business in every state.
Why don't the politicians stop it?
Why don't the corporations stop it?
Are they making money from it too?
Is this all real?
Maybe I'm just having a bad dream.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


He asked her, "Do you live around here?"
She replied to him, "If you call it livin'."
He met her in a bar across the street from where his rig was parked.
They shared a few drinks.
She was beautiful, but he was trashed.
He had been on the road for five days.
He was haulin' ass and a heavy load.
His eighteen-wheeler was tired, and so was he.
He bid her farewell, and went to bed in his sleeper.
He saw her the next morning in a diner.
She was flat broke, so he bought her breakfast.
She asked him for a ride.
He asked her where she wanted to go.
She said, "Anywhere but here."
So, they went driving west through Utah.
She was well-educated and told him some great stories.
He really warmed up to her, because she made him laugh.
He was in his mid-twenties,
while she looked like she was well into her thirties.
She was a looker for sure, in spite of her age.
It was getting dark,
so she suggested they bunk down for the night.
She wanted to check into a nice motel.
He figured it was alright. He couldn't pass this up.
He was whistling while he took a nice, long, hot shower.
He came out of the well-appointed bathroom with a smile on his face.
She was gone. So was his wallet.
He wished he was anywhere, than right there.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Warm and toasty,
I sit by the fire.
I eat beer brats on hotdog buns,
mustard and potato salad.
I watch college football.
The leaves dance in my backyard.
My lovely wife comes in the door.
Off she takes me to the antique store.
We are looking for treasures.
She tells me of her travel in foreign lands.
We are holding hands.
We grocery shop late in the afternoon.
The maddening crowds have thinned by then.
All my weekly chores are done.
Now is the time for weekend fun.
Once the groceries are unpacked.
We settle down and have a snack.
My wife and I relax.
Together, on this lovely November afternoon.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Jim Seeley was a helluva' man. I met him one, hot summer morning in Chicago. He was sixty-years old. I was a young man, twenty-three years of age. He put out his beefy hand for me to shake and smiled at me. I noticed he had a firm handshake. He smiled big at me. We kept shaking hands as I looked at the mighty crane. We both were going to share it for a year. I was to be his helper on this mighty rig. My job description was that of an "oiler". I did all the preparation and maintenance. I also had seat time, to learn how to run the machine. That is where Jim came in as an instructor.
Jim gently took me under his wing. He showed me everything he knew. He kept no secrets from me. By the end of the summer, I was a competent crane operator. I knew every lever, every gear, every grease fitting on this old machine. He taught me with a smile on his face. He never raised his voice to me when I made mistakes. He taught me how to correct what I was doing wrong.
There aren't many tradesmen like Jim around anymore. They've all gone to their graves. Most men today don't want to share their skills. The big construction jobs are non-existent in this day and age. Work is really slow for the trades in Chicago this year and the last. If a man teaches an apprentice too well, the kid might just take his job.
In the '60s and'70s, work was fun. There was plenty of it to go around. The attitude was more relaxed, but we always took our jobs seriously. We never missed a day of work. At night we went to school to learn how to read blueprints, run machines, how to weld, and do things related to the operation of heavy equipment. If we were off on Saturdays, or we were laid-off from our jobs, we went to the union yard to practice running machines. We all wanted to be a part of a better tomorrow.
It isn't that way anymore. Now, it's all about money and survival. Yes, Jim Seeley taught me well. After I retired, the union hall kept calling me to run the old friction-rig cranes. They young guys lacked the skills or lacked the gumption to run these old dinosaurs. I had to decline the jobs because of my worn out body and lungs. The new breed of equipment operators want hydraulic machines with heaters, air-conditioning and fancy radios. These kids don't want to get dirty. In the old days, most heavy equipment operators knew how to do maintenance and repairs on their machines. We did a lot of the mechanical work. We also knew how to run just about everything. These days, contractors tell me that they are lucky if they get a man who knows how to run one machine, and who shows up for work on time every day. Many of our guys aren't interested in developing their skills. They're just there for the paycheck. It's a damned shame.
Jim Seeley has been dead a long time now. I sure miss him. I owe him a lot. He was a special man. He was like a father to me. He would have been sad to see how things have gone bad. I'm proud to have had a part in building the highways and skyscrapers of America. Ours were wonderful days. I pray the future holds better times for my union brothers and sisters. I hope they keep their skills honed, so that they can be proficient at their jobs. America has to maintain an educated work force, to be strong once again. I miss you Jim Seeley. I miss my old America.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


It takes me about a year to write a book.
There's a lot of hardship along the way.
It sure ain't a primrose path.
I write and re-write.
Then my editor gets ahold of my manuscript.
He bitches and moans every time.
I don't blame him.
My work is a mess.
He swears this time that:
"I'm going to charge you extra for every unnecessary comma!"
I use too many of them.
The last time my "quotation marks" drove him insane.
Then there are the damned publisher's templates.
I need to hire out for the book cover.
I hire a web geek for that.
He does the sizing and photography for me.
I am puter illiterate in this regard.
I haven't got a clue.
Vanity publishing is done electronically.
Everything is uploaded and downloaded on the internet.
Gone are the days of "typers".
Gone are the days of "snail-mailing" manuscripts.
I conversed with my writer friend Paul, today.
He lives in Boston and is writing a wonderful novel.
His "Dragon voice recognition system" is re-writing his book for him.
It automatically transfers the spoken word to the manuscript file.
Sometimes it misinterprets what he says.
I told him that maybe the "Dragon" is smarter than he is!
I suggested that maybe it will write a better novel.
He got a chuckle out of my moronic statement...I think.
We writers agonize over every small detail.
No matter what we do, we are never REALLY satisfied.
I edit at least eight times before I submit to my publisher.
I finally ok a proof copy of my book after perusing every one of my sentences.
I've written three books and am working on my fourth.
I guarantee you that there are going to be mistakes in this book!
It breaks my heart to read my finished product and find them lurking on the pages.
It makes me want to break my pencils!
No matter.
I write because I must.
Writers are "cracked" people.
The cracks allow our light to emanate outside into the world.
Writing is wonderful.
Life is wonderful.
Doing this long task to completion gives me great joy.
I am a writer.
Or at least I think I am!


I guess it don't matter where you die.
A man can die in filth,
or he can die in a nice warm bed with silk sheets.
They say when you go, you mess yourself.
There's such heartache in it all.
I don't know why I keep thinking about it.
I guess I've seen too much stuff.
It hurts my heart.
There's so much to see in life.
Joy and sadness.
Love and hate.
There's so much to feel.
It overloads my mind sometimes.
I won't cry in front of other men.
But I do cry.
I cry for all of us.
There are no happy endings.
What is lovely are the memories.
The good ones anyway.
Make good memories.
So that when you are on your way,
You can smile that day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Someone launched a missile in California today.
The Navy claims that the vapor trail wasn't theirs.
How about the missile?
Cher is doing a burlesque show.
I'll have a six-pack to go, in order to watch that one!
Dancing with the Stars, is the World's Biggest Loser,
in my book.
I wonder who will be the next American Idol?
I don't think it will be poor Barack Obama.
He's still smoking cigarettes.
It's gotta' be rough on the voice.
Ex-Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich is pitching pistachio nuts.
People are dying.
People are being born.
People are fighting.
People are praying.
It's just more of the same.
But I detect new levels of weirdness.
Yeah. It's getting really strange.
It's getting stranger.
It's not to the strangest degree yet.
There's always room for stranger scenarios.
They recently released "Saw" and "Jackass" in 3-D.
Now this is "strangeland".
Maybe every state should launch a missle.
We can self-destruct.
Clean the slate in America.
We can all start over again.
We'll have a new game.

Monday, November 8, 2010


My mind is still a voyager.
It takes me to L.A.
I have friends there.
I dream of Mulholland Drive.
And the Whiskey-A-Go-Go.
I packed up and A-Went-Went.
I'm off to sparkle town.
I sit in jazz bars.
The music is not the same.
Somehow it's different.
The blue haze is gone.
There's no ash trays on the bar.
Now the cats who "blow" are much too young.
My whiskey has been replaced.
Now I stare into seltzer water.
At least the pretzels are still stale.
My life has been diluted.
Watered down.
I want to dig the scene.
But I have been mis-cast.
I'm a bad actor.
I don't remember my lines.
The job goes to younger guys.
I'm not a leading man anymore.
They just want me for character roles.
The scene used to be a gas.
Now I'm gassed out.
Yeah baby, my Hollywood days are over.
But my mind is still a voyager.
It takes me to great heights.
Martinis, girls and fine cigars.
Beneath these L.A. lights.
I still have friends here, you know.
I must find a way to re-live all the magic,
Of imagined L.A. days,
of L.A. ways.
I get up off my bar stool.
No one says goodbye.
The party seems so blase now.
I've changed.
I don't know why.
Maybe I'll travel to simpler towns.
Like Boise, Idaho.
The glimmer there--
still comes from stars and snow.
It might be more honest.
My heart is very deep.
I take the leap.
I am still the voyager.


I gave up my bitching on Mondays.
It served me no useful purpose.
Today is a bright sunshiney day.
It is a balmy day in November.
This day is an unexpected gift.
It's a glorious Monday.
I read my paper on this fine, Monday morning.
I read about the loss of a young life.
She was only twenty-three years old.
I looked at her picture.
A beautiful blonde.
All of the sudden, my phone rang.
It was my twenty-eight year old daughter.
She was in tears.
My daughter taught school with this unfortunate young lady.
The dead girl was a special education teacher.
She died in a freakish accident on Saturday.
I thanked God this was not my child.
I cannot imagine how this girl's parents must feel.
This Monday is sadly dark for them.
My child is safe.
The sun shines warmly on my face today.
I have no right to complain about my Monday.
I have no right to complain about any day.
I promised myself to call my daughter this evening.
I want to share her grief.
Tonight, before I go to bed I will give thanks.
My Monday was a gift.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


You were a waitress in a bowling alley.
A keypunch operator.
You lived in Port Arthur, Texas.
You sang with power.
You had such majesty in your delivery.
Your parents wanted you to be a school teacher.
You started singing the blues at the age of fourteen.
You listened to Leadbelly.
You moved to San Francisco in 1963.
You started with Big Brother and the Holding Company in '66.
You wore colorful boas in your hair.
You were sexual in an innocent way.
Pure energy.
Earth Mother.
You longed for a peaceful escape.
You knew you would never own one.
Your solace was a harpoon and a red bandana.
A bottle of Southern Comfort.
Night after night you beat yourself to death.
You said making love is like singing.
You were damned to loneliness.
Port Arthur High School laughed you out of class,
out of town,
out of state.
You didn't get asked to the prom.
A doctor told your mom:
"She will end up insane or in jail by the age of 21."
You cut your second album at the age of 25.
God! You sure could sing "Summertime".
You sang bluegrass and folk for free beer,
in a scum-bag bar in Austin, Texas.
You sang at Woodstock in 1969.
You never wanted to wear phony eyelashes.
You said, "Screw the cameras".
You said you were happiest in a bar.
Feelin' good was good enough for you.
I miss you, dear Janis.


I hung a large, metal wall-sculpture today.
I'm putting some finishing touches on our new den.
My wife is used to me doing these things.
My body isn't up to the task anymore.
My mind must compensate for my lack of physical endurance.
First, I ask her where she wants it.
She has me hold the heavy thing in place.
My lower back and legs are screaming in pain.
I say, "How much damn longer?"
"This is torture!"
She replies, "I want to see if I want it that high."
I rest for a few minutes, and try another position.
"This damned thing is killing me", I say.
She says, "There!" "That's perfect!"
I say, "Hurry up and mark the bottom corner."
"My back is killing me!"
I measure the width of the love seat,
'cause it's centered on the wall.
Then I get my center point for the wall hanging.
Then I measure out from the pencil mark.
I measure down to get the bottom corner.
I get the sculpture's topmost point from one side.
I drive my nail in where the hanging eyelet is welded,
on the inside of the assembledge.
I hang one side and have my wife put my level
in the center of the piece.
I pivot the un-nailed end to where I think it should be.
I ask my wife, "Is the bubble in the level dead-center yet?"
She says, "Huh?"
"What bubble?"
My back is aching and my legs are shaking.
I try to contain my rage and frustration.
I reply, "Look at the gall-danged level, for Chrissakes!"
"Here, I'll move the sculpture up and down,"
"Do you see it now?"
She replies in amazement, "Oh yes!"
We get it level and I nail it home.
I am her hero.
Next time I'll pay my contractor twenty-bucks
to hang something like this.
It will be worth it.

Friday, November 5, 2010


One minute can change a man's life.
His name was Darrell.
I met him at an AA meeting.
He was young, black, educated and good-looking.
His sidekick was a white dude, named Steve.
The three of us became friends.
Initially, we "worked a good program".
Things were looking up for Darrell.
He was a smart kid.
He got a job as a cook.
The restaurant was one of those fancy five-star joints.
A french restaurant.
Darrell was making some serious cash.
Anyway, our friend Steve got drunk again.
His wife threw him out.
After this happened, Steve came back to AA.
His wife still wouldn't take him back.
Steve longed to see his kids.
He cried alot.
Steve ended up drinking himself to death.
They found his body in a dark hotel room.
Darrell and I went to his funeral.
Darrell ended up with a nice girlfriend.
She was a good-looking girl.
He met her in AA.
Darrell ended up moving into her condominium.
I had them over to my house, many times.
After about six months, things went bad for my friend.
He lost his job.
He ended up working midnight shift at a convenience store.
He hated this.
Darrell quit coming to meetings.
He wouldn't answer my phone calls.
He started drinking and smoking crack cocaine.
Darrell's girlfriend told me that,
she changed the locks on her doors.
She was really afraid of him.
I had no clue where Darrell was.
One day, I read in the newspaper,
that Darrell killed his girlfriend.
He chocked her to death.
He bound her hands and feet.
He put duct tape on her mouth.
Darrell is doing life without parole.
He didn't mean to kill her.
By the grace of God, I'm still sober.
One minute can change a man's life.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Today melts quickly like an iceberg.
Another day takes it's place.
I realize how much I need to learn.
My mind tells me that there is not enough time.
I fear that I will go to my grave an ignoramous.
This is a frightening fact!
Science claims that we only tap a part
of our brain's possibilities.
Ten percent is the average of what they say we use.
How do I tap into the unused reserves?
Magic mushrooms?
Prayer and meditation?
Accelerated study and reading?
It's all a waste of my precious time.
Age is on me now.
It covers me like a heavy cloak of darkness.
My short-term memory is deteriorating.
I'm forgetful.
I lose things.
I forget phone numbers, including my own.
My mind is melting like an ice cube.
It will be solid, but more like Jello.
Soon, I won't realize how much I need to learn.
I'll be a happy guy.
I'll think that I'm pretty smart!
I'll be "pleased as punch".
I will smile when I yell "Bingo",
at the senior citizen's center.
I'll go to my grave a happy ignoramous.
It won't matter.
I won't realize my shortcomings.
I will be blissfully happy in my ignorance.
We aren't meant to understand all of life's mysteries.
If we knew everything, life wouldn't be fun anymore.
I'm glad that I'm not a "know it all".
The pressure must be overwhelming to be this way.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I read in the paper this week that:
The government of Iran will no longer stone to death
adulterous females.
Instead, they will hang them.
This is progress?
I read this week that:
Fifty-eight Christians were murdered.
They were murdered in their own church.
They were worshipping their God.
They were butchered by the Al-Queda.
This occured in Iraq.
I read this week that:
More people were murdered in Afghanistan,
New York,
and London.
I read this week that:
San Francisco may ban toys with happy meals.
Happy meals are fattening.
Toys make children happy.
We need thin, unhappy children.
We need them in shape.
We need them to fight wars in:
New York,
and in London.
Chinese toys may be toxic!
Don't put that toy in your mouth!
Don't eat candy!
Don't eat pizza!
Don't eat those greasy hamburgers!
Don't eat those yummy milkshakes!
Don't listen to rock and roll!
Now march!
Get into your room!
Grab your weapon!
Prepare for the future.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


It's November 2nd and I voted today.
I'm happy to say.
I voted for a despicable man.
I know he'll pull scams!
But mostly for MY interests.
It's the American way!
What can I say?
We lie, steal and cheat.
We're light on our feet.
We talk out of both sides of our mouths.
We're the masters of clout.
I hope my man wins.
Although he has sins,
My vote counted today.
On a more serious note.
It's a sorrowful vote.
The Repubs and the Dems,
Are none of my friends.
They just serve the rich.
This is the hitch.
They'll increase their pay.
Then just run away.
With the money I earned.
They might serve two terms.
It's the land of the free!
What's in it for me?


There was a strange carvival ride.
I saw an evil clown smile at me.
A dirty carnie strapped me in.
There was gum on the seat.
It stuck to my jeans.
I remember the eerie, dusty fairway.
The shrieks of terror.
This couldn't be real.
I found out it was.
It was a one-way ticket.
The car didn't return.
The tracks ran short,
Like all human expectations.
My carnival fears,
My wasted tears,
My youthful years,
Were spent alone in the crowd.
I heard the maniacal laughter.
I saw the gay lights in the distance.
The abstraction of mirrors,
Were my carnival years.
It was a dark ride.
But, I had thrills.
Come one, come all.
For the greatest show on earth.
Enjoy the mirth.
While you still can.
Expect your rebirth.
Let's give three cheers.
For our carnival years.