Monday, October 27, 2014


It takes me a long time to get going in the morning because I have to record everything I am going to say that day on a little tape recorder that I keep in my pocket. Last week I ran out of batteries in the middle of a sentence right in the middle of the afternoon and I had to go home right away. Of course I locked my door and naturally it was a beautiful day. You could hear the sound of bird recordings in the trees in the late afternoon sunlight.


I have worried about you all day. I know that if I picked up the phone to call you, the phone would be so charged with electricity that I wouldn’t be able to hold it in my hand. To think of the dozens of years where, despite the real electricity, holding the phone posed no problem. But now it is the pretend electricity which puts me in peril. I never would have imagined being afraid of something that is pretend, and thinking that which wasn’t could be my friend, or at least, not quite my foe.

Friday, October 24, 2014


I knew a fellow named Graham who liked to draw pictures of places but he wasn’t fond of drawing grass so all his pictures had snow in them. He didn’t like leaves, so luckily the trees were without leaves in the snow in winter. He was also lucky since he didn’t like to draw birds, that the birds had flown south because, again, it was winter. It is so quiet and desolate here that you might think that would be the perfect place for a murder scene but Graham also hated to draw blood and people. So if you look at this drawing you see a lot of snow, a few old trees, and three puffy white clouds. Graham loved the clouds of winter. Of all the things to draw in the world, clouds were what Graham loved best. Here’s why: Graham was a cloud with a pencil. In the summer, he was just a pencil.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Yesterday there were so many crows in the trees that it was cantankerous. Faye, I thought of you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Years ago we sent a golden record into outer space filled with music from our planet Earth. Here is a list of the people who think they are really great because their music is in outer space: Bach (and his Brandenberg Concerto); Robert Brown (playing “Kinds of Flowers” on the court gamelan); people in Senegal (playing percussion); Australian aoborigines (singing “Devil Bird”);  Lorenzo Barcelata (playing the mariachi classic “EL Cascabel”); Pygmy girls (singing an initiation song in Zaire); men singing a house song (in New Guinea); more Bach (and his Partita #3);  Beethoven, Stravinsky, Louis Armstrong naturally, panpipes (from the Solomon Islands); Mozart (and The Magic Flute);  Peruvian wedding songs–the list goes on and on and then ends of course with Chuck Berry as some things often do while other things begin with Chuck Berry.

Sunday, October 05, 2014


A collection of photos of Faye's Yoshino Cherry tree planted in her memory in the old Salem Strollway in Winston-Salem, NC. In this small grove, there are magnolias and oak trees and another cherry tree, planted two years ago, in memory of her father. Faye's tree is close to the gravel road, and beams with sunlight, which she would love. When I was weeding the mulch at the base of the tree, a small, white butterfly rested on my arm.


Drinking from a cup of sky, I see, far in the distance, something real - more sky.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


A small animal walks across the lot at dawn. It could be anything until the sun comes up–why be a cat? Because he is happy with who he is. Meow, he declares, although upon closer examination it sounds more like Woof. Yes, he is a dog, trying his best to be a cat. Or perhaps he is neither. He does look a little like Bill, the animal lover, in a smart black coat.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I knew that Joseph Conrad’s 
real name wasn’t “Joseph.” 
Imagine my surprise, I told 
the policeman, when I 
discovered it was Józef.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

from MAKE IT TOO WAVY (2007)

TV Guide: April 7, 1956

Saturday, April 7th, was a particularly good day for Mighty Mouse. On this day in history, Mighty Mouse swooped down to the aid of a wagon full of helpless mice who were about to be attacked by a bloody thirsty Indian tribe. Soon after that, however, a baby seal rescued his friends (a big dog and a little puppy) from a menacing goat. And just moment or two later, Mr. and Mrs. J. Harrington Rooster announced that they are expecting a ‘blessed event’–probably a baby. 

Mighty Mouse was quite pleased to save a wagon full of helpless mice from bloody-thirsty Indians, but he was rather sad that people didn’t have much of a chance to congratulate him for rescuing a wagon filled with helpless mice before everyone was off to watch the baby seal rescue a big dog and a little puppy and Mr. and Mrs. J. Harrington Rooster announce their blessed event, probably a baby. And that’s not all: there was a pig who is having an adventure in the Swiss Alps that very day! Everyone was excited about that! How often can you see a pig having an adventure in the Swiss Alps? Hooray for the pig and his adventure (in the Swiss Alps!)

“Where did everyone go?” Mighty Mouse thought to himself. The prairie whispered nothing to him, there was nobody in the wagon, and the world suddenly seems like a strange and cold place to Mighty Mouse. He may be a mighty mouse–no one will disagree with that–but after all is said and done, he is also a lonely, bitter mouse.

from MAKE IT WAVY (2006)

To Emily Goldstein

Whenever I am in a large crowd, I always imagine 
someone will come out of the crowd and take me 
by the hand and say: “I am here to take you home.”

Sometimes it is a man who is well-dressed.

Sometimes it is a woman who is well-dressed.

Sometimes I can’t tell if it is a man or a woman 
and whether or not he or she is or is not well-dressed.

Just like the celebrities who are shopping and wearing 
sweat suits and looking really angry at the photographer 
as he snaps their photo. No matter: 

I always feel better when they walk out of the crowd 
and come to me and say, “I am here,” and then, 
“to take you home.”

Once it was a little boy in a huge bathing suit.

from OCTOBER (2004)

There must have been fifteen people outside the post office on Saturday morning and they were all wearing black and a few had flowers and there were several small children, blond and happy and playing with ribbons near the concrete park bench.

Since they were all wearing black it seemed as though things might get very serious but they never did.

A few of them laughed when the leaf blowers started up. Leaf blowers and funerals just seem like a terrible combination along the sidewalk outside the post office just a few steps away. People walked by eating tacos and staring sometimes at everyone wearing black with flowers in their hands right outside the post office.

Finally a woman arrived who everyone knew and loved, wearing a silver dress. She laughed and giggled and the leaf blower was louder than ever.

The sherbert store opened up. The perfume store was closed, probably for good. The old people stopped and watched and the leaf blower was just plain old too loud. In a silver dress she pressed her head onto the shoulder of the man next to her. She rested her hand on the small of his back. She stood giggling, shy, and attentive. If her mother were there, she would have given her a kiss. She would have remembered that.

She would make a beautiful bride. 

She is a beautiful bride.

from FRED (1998)



fred decided to buy flowers. He bought 
three orange carnations and one pink carnation 
and then couldn’t decide to whether or not 


to buy irises or babybreath with the carnations. 
Neither seemed right, and the worst thing 
in the world, fred told me later, is


to buy flowers that you don’t need 
for reasons you can’t figure out. 


Just as fred begin to say this, a shudder 
ran down my spine. I was looking at 
the church across the street and 
reading a magazine. 


“To excite enthusiasm, a design must 
suggest pace and gesture, evoke 
a moving body; it must be alive,” said 


Christian Dior in 1986 while a woman 
in an ad held a flower pot filled with
one really big crystanthemum. 
She was laughing while people ran by 
her but she really looked scared 
to death I told fred. 
fred agreed and didn’t buy 
a single flower. 


On the way out, fred stole 
a box of candles.

from BEE STINGS (2009)


“Come to Gath!” the Philistines once said. “It is quite charming and recherché and there is much to do there that you will find diverting and enriching!”

“Come to Gath!” once said the Philistines. “It is one of our five principle cities. You will be enchanted and charmed. Peerless Gath! There is no equal to the peerless Gath!”

Those who listened responded with incredulity, and rightly so. Hence the old adage:

“Do not believe the Philistines who entreat you partake in Gath with false renderings of Gath.”

And with it, Gath was swallowed up like a marzipan trifle, circa 400 AD or so. 

The truth? Gath: butt-ugly.

Friday, September 19, 2014


Because Donald Pleasence has a name that is so much like “pleasant” I always imagined that people had a warm feeling when they were in his presence. Nevertheless, he was married four times, starred in LOOK BACK IN ANGER, and played Lucifer in THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. When he died, he was cremated. It was pleasant.


My favorite year for yearbooks is 1971. On page 142, there is a row of three girls with blond hair and white blouses. I like the one in the middle the best. Her hair is the straightest, and her left eye is funny, and so special.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


In 1956, I was nothing. In 1957, I was born, and saw my first zero.  As a little boy, I drew a zero as best I could, but it ended up being a small pink smile. As a young man, I drank champagne, and thousands of zeroes tickled my nose and vanished. As an old man, I watched Iggy Pop on TV and said HA! and felt nothing. Yet by the end, nothing and zero became the same thing, and I felt the small pink smile disappear onto my face. Are there zeroes in space? Yes, there are so many that you can count them, if you want. And you do want to. Zeroes, I want you. I wish it was 1958.

Pattie hangs promises by 
wooden clothespin.

Pattie hangs promises by 
wooden clothespin not to dry.

Pattie hangs promises by 
wooden clothespin to 
feel the breeze.

Pattie feels the breeze. 
Not the promises. 
Pattie feels. 
Not promises.

Promises is just is 
and hangs there 
and sometimes 
blows off.

The wind says WHOOSH 
and there they go. Pattie says: 

WOW but she meant it, and 
what happened next was 
scarcely a surprise.

If you want your life to seem more like butterscotch, use one cup of light brown sugar rather than one half cup of granulated sugar and one half cup of light brown sugar. 

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