Sunday, December 28, 2014


Part I

Every time my friend Amelia comes over she asks if I would like for her to take out the recycling and I always say ‘No.’

Part II

Every time my friend Amelia comes over, she asks if I would like for her to take out the recycling and I offer a glass of chilled Prosecco. Her favorite is produced by a vintner’s whose name I believe is “The Blood of Fredo” in English (Sanguefreddo.)

Part III

Do you remember Fredo in the Godfather Part 2? He betrayed his family and got shot in a canoe.

Part IV

Every time my friend Amelia doesn’t take out the recycling, I think back to the days of my youth and the garbage can of my youth in my parents’ kitchen. The paper bags were filled with asparagus Kentucky Fried Chicken and old peas and cigarette butts and pork butts and meat scraps and Gainesburgers and Rice Krinkles and Frito bags and newspapers about the President and the Moon and Asia. 

Part V

Do you remember Fredo in 
The Godfather 
Part 2? 

He betrayed his family 
and got shot 
in a canoe. 

Part VI

If I had asked my mother if she wanted me to take out the recycling when I was a little boy she wouldn’t have said “What’s recycling?” she would have said “I hope that when you grow up you are a nice man and you do nice things” and my father would have said “Don’t be such a fancypants!”  which really means “Take out the garbage, buster!” and then I would have taken out the garbage.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


I didn't think she could become any more beautiful than she once was, but every time I think about her, she is.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

I once saw a cake made out of bologna. What a fun thing this would be to bring to a party, my fiancée said, and then coughed a terrible, hacking cough. What a fun thing, she said, and then again, coughed. What fun, she said, and coughed. I have to rest a minute, she said.

I wonder where she is now.

Friday, December 12, 2014


I always wanted to say hello to the sleeping man in the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - so pale, so sad. Although I know that you shouldn’t approach people who look sad. I read that in a book on happiness - “Ten Things That Happy People Do.” They don’t mention this movie by name, but they do talk about things you shouldn’t do, like not becoming attached to sad people, or people who don’t exist, and he, I think is both, although I do not speak German, which is what he how he would say “How Do You Do?” to me and then spoken of his sadness, and how real his life really is if he did, but he doesn’t. Nor do I. But at least I want to.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

People love Porsamo Bleu watches because they are so complicated and precise inside that they remind you of a human brain. But they look more expensive than they are. Whereas a brain just looks grey. And feels mushy. But it is really as complicated as a watch that looks expensive and isn’t. They are both so wonderful. One this one, one that. And then there is the ven diagram of both. I would love to have both but I don’t know if that’s possible although they say it is. They say, you can have it if you really want. It’s just like they say in the reggae song, only that is about love, I think (where the heart stops the clock.)


I have met a thousand people in my life, but I have never met you.
I have never met your spectacles nor have I met your laugh.

I have never met your bald pate nor have I met your zest for life.

Nor your fine inventions nor you gout nor your way with the ladies 

nor your French have I met nor your pantaloons have I met either.

Although I have met a few French girls, some good records, a pair of boots

from America and old books with the ink that never met you but sometimes acts

as though it did. Well, 

if it didn’t meet you but acts that way, so can I. So I say to you, in a book:


Monday, December 01, 2014

I know that once there was a man, perhaps in the funny papers, who ate lightbulb sandwiches. As I change this lightbulb (me), I wonder if he did the same, and then thought to himself, “Why not? There’s no one around to stop me.” For some, this is spoken out of despair. For others, adventure.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


The vulture’s wings beat one time a second. The pygmy shrew’s heart beats fourteen times a second. As the vulture approaches the pygmy shrew, it is clear that the pygmy shrew is fourteen times more afraid of what will happen than the vulture would appear to be.

The peregrine falcon plunges three hundred feet per second. If the peregrine falcon counted the feet, there would be many less feet to count. Fewer people would be impressed by the peregrine falcon. The peregrine falcon would be less blurry and much easier to draw. The peregrine falcon would find it easier to make friends. The peregrine falcon would lead a more complicated life with the possibility of richer rewards and more devastating failures.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


I saw it again, because all I remember after forty years is that Kris Kristofferson saw GONE WITH THE WIND in it, and that he hit someone who slept with his woman and hurt his knuckles. I was right. He hit George Segal, (Blume). He had a beard.  Why did you remember that? is what somebody might ask me but nobody did. I don’t know, it’s hard to say, is what I would have answered, if they had. But it’s interesting, isn’t it, I would have added. But they wouldn’t be paying attention still if they did. What I really should have remembered after all these years was not that Blume was hit in the faee and had a beard, but that Blume was in love.
"Animal Death whips out its flashlight ..."

–Frank O'Hara on the death of Bunny Lang

Monday, November 17, 2014


When the deliveryman rang the doorbell, it wouldn’t stop ringing. I removed the casing and watched the transformer vibrate with each ring. I could either unscrew the wires to the transformer, or clip them. I decided to do neither, and waited for the deliveryman to come back again and unring the doorbell. I was certain he had the power to do this. He reminded me of fresh strawberries. The aroma of possibility. His name was Bill. 


Ten thousand paintings and twenty thousand drawings later, John said, “Well, here I am.” Inside was over once and for all; there was nothing left to do but battle the ocean waves with a pen and a hat. Somehow it seemed easy; it both is and isn't. First, the thirty thousand things must happen. And then John must step outside.

Monday, November 10, 2014


I have been considering writing down what I do at every minute of the day, but one minute per day. It would take sixty days to do an hour, six hundred days to do ten hours, and so on and so forth. (I would have to use a calculator to figure out a full day, or at least a pencil and a piece of paper, but I haven’t had those in a long time.) Anyway, it might be a lot of work, but I don’t want it to be fancy. The hard part would be certain hours - when was the last time I was up at 4:25 in the morning? Or did something interesting at noon? And I would probably change what I was doing at 8:02 AM if it was something like eating a bowl of corn flakes and instead I might start reading Dante’s Inferno or make travel plans to Tangiers. It might be more interesting if I traveled more or did more unusual things than I do because I really don’t travel or do exciting things. Perhaps I should try to convince someone who does a lot of exciting things to do this for me. The one thing I will say about myself is that I know a lot of interesting people who do exciting things. Perhaps I should ask a lot of interesting people.

I walk outside in the tropics at dawn and look down at the bay. Were anyone to jump into the bay for no good reason, dawn would be the best of all possible time to find them doing that. Also, it is the best time to find someone who, for no good reason, would be looking for someone who, for no good reason, might jump into the bay at dawn.

A very happy man died recently. Because he was famous, many people knew him. Because many people knew him, he made many people happy. He made many people happy because he was happy. Many people laughed because he laughed. So the best thing you can do for the world is be happy, be famous, be laughing.

Monday, November 03, 2014



I have a friend named Mark.
I have several strands of hair.
I like the name  ‘Mark Strand.’
I like movie theatres named ‘The Strand.’
I used to say “On your mark, get set, STRAND!” 
all the time.
I would like to say “Mark my words.” Someday.
I would love to listen to STRANDED, by Roxy Music, now.
My birthday is on the same day as Mark Strand.
Or Mark Spitz.
I can’t recall.
I would hate to be stranded.
Stranded with Mark Strand...would be good.
Like a steak.
One that is medium rare.
So here I am on an island.
With strands of hair.
Eating a medium rare steak.
And french fries.
Knowing there is life after death.
Science told me.
On your mark get set.
For you, Mark Strand, the poet.
For you, Mark Spitz, the swimmer.
Save me.
I confess.
For you, Mark Spitz.
I have not swum the deep blue ocean.
For you, Mark Strand.
I have not read thousands upon thousands of poems.
I have not read so very many things.
The poetry of Mark Strand.
In all its elegance. 
Magnificent to be sure.
Delightful in its contours.
Truly unforgettable in its cogitations.
I have not read so very many things. 
Mark Strand’s poetry.
Comes right to mind.

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. 

Monday, September 15, 2014


Would you like for me to make you breakfast? Let’s go ice skating. Would you like to buy a new dress? I think you are quite brilliant. Would you like for me to make you lunch? Let’s find a tomato. Can I cut up a few apples for you? Here’s a tomato. I washed the sheets and they should be cool if you want to take a nap. That’s a nice song, where did it come from? There’s another tomato. I washed them for you. Let me do that for you. Let me also do this for you. And that. Would you like for me to make dinner for you? Let’s lock the door and hide. Steak is always nice, it feels old fashioned. Inside. Feel my heart beating. Steak it is then. What’s your favorite color? With tomatoes. Do you think French Poodles are funny?  Or loud? Where are you going? Must you go? Listen to those dogs bark. Man oh man. Must you go? Let’s sing a song. first. Did you fall asleep? You’re quite a tomato. You can’t hear me, can you? What must I do next? Is there anything I can do at all?

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