Saturday, December 05, 2015



I once met a man so alone so poor that he had never read a book and even if he wanted to he couldn’t because he never learn to read or write not because he was poor but because he was lazy because after all even poor people can go to school, dressed in rags, for school is free.


I once met a man so alone so poor that he was blind and couldn’t see a thing and he was always saying OUCH when he ran into things all over his little shanty hovel.

Of course you don’t have to be poor to be blind but it does help if you want to be blind and hurt your toes if you are quite poor rather than quite rich because you don’t have servants to say things like “Mind your toes” and serve you cucumber sandwiches with a sprig of fresh dill and also if you are not rich there is the matter of the  broken beer bottles on the dirt floor and the starving dogs growling.

ONCE iii

I once met a man so rich that he said “Hey you! Do this!” and “Hey you! Do that!” and everybody did everything he barked out to them including women to whom he would often say things like “Hey you! Take off your brassiere!” and they did but not because he was rich but because he could control minds because he was rich and he could afford the mind control lessons which are very expensive and he never gave it a second thought in terms of the extravagance of it all.


I once met a man so rich that all he bought were new release hardbacks with their slick dust jackets and he would stuff them with dollar bills and bullion and light a match to them and the books would explode into  flames and then the flames would lick the persian rugs and antiques and fireplaces and walls and the conservatory and eventually the whole house burned down including the billiard room and parlor and everything was gone but the bullion because gold doesn’t burn but it does become quite smoky and then it smells like bacon.


The seats are so plush and fat that you could fall asleep on them if they weren’t red which is the color of blood and communism and war and red lights and tired eyes and Mars and basilisks and chili peppers and Red Bull and Scarlett O’Hara’s mourning dress and tomorrow.

If you write “I love you” with an exclamation mark, does it mean I love you, only faster?

Filming a terrified child on a roller coaster is a seasonal event. If you look at the background rather than the screaming child, you will usually see bright blue skies with fluffy white clouds and trees filled with green leaves, which would indicate summer rather than autumn or winter. Further in the background, you can see children and adults holding ice cream cones, balloons, and Fudgsicles which would further indicate summer months. Below the child, who is terrified and wishes it would all end, you can see the roller coaster operator, whose chest is glistening with sweat, and who appears to be deep in thought. Perhaps his wife is at home, cooking him is favorite meal, which is pot roast. Perhaps he wonders if she is with another man. Will he buy a dog to keep him company if she leaves? If she leaves, will he stay? There is far less to do in the winter. Company can be soothing.

More screaming and bright, blue skies. Someone drops their Fudgsicle, and a dog licks it up. Oh, it’s terrible.

It’s a shame that authors do not have sufficient time to write a different ending for each copy of the book they write. It would be fun to get together and discuss a book that everybody has read, and everyone disagrees about, because after all, it didn’t end that way. Yes it did. No it didn’t.


I would like to listen to every song you ever loved, starting with the stuff that you listened to before you were born, when your mother was at the beach, and her toes were in the ocean water, and is was beautiful and sunny out and it was the perfect weather for a  glass of lemonade and a transistor radio and but not too loud you will wake the baby.


Imagine you were born in 1856, and your mother, whom you loved dearly, named you Oz. All is well and good for a nice long while until L. Frank Baum comes along and writes his book, The Wizard of Oz. Of course you curse his name, even though you have never met him, which is not really fair. He was a nice man after all and he meant you no harm. He loved his wife, and he predicted augmented reality and laptops. But it is unbearable, until
You change your name to L. It’s a beautiful name with a nice ring to it and now you are secretly safe and almost famous. Your life will continue apace, and you will do wonderful things, like read books. You now can read your brother’s books.


In this hotel sits the piano of Cole Porter. You can look at it but you cannot touch it. You can take a picture of the cigarette burns but cannot touch them, either. This is something I don’t understand. Cole Porter is gone, and the piano used to be an elephant. If you are really old, you might have even touched this very elephant. You might have even touched Cole Porter. He was a lovely man. And he certainly seemed like a top-notch elephant. Who knows? You might have even touched both. And one might have said, “Cut it out!”, and then the other might have said "Ditto!"


Someday you will think you see Leslie Gore walking by, but it’s just another woman with blonde hair, laughing and walking to her car, and you are late for your appointment with Jane at the marina.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


I would like to take a college course on how to eat eggs. How to eat eggs when someone is cooking bacon for you but the bacon takes longer and so they say “Why don’t you eat your eggs while you are waiting for your bacon?” I would like for this course to be taught by a slice of bacon–tall, golden brownish, handsome. A real scholar. Or as bacon might say, a survivor. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

I am sitting in a small chair with a small desk and there is an article in the paper on my desk that says scientists have discovered that consciousness exists in a quantum state after death and I am so excited about this and I think about all the people I love who are gone but I don’t have time to read the article I don’t have time it’s just terrible it’s on my desk but I don’t have time to read it I don't have time I wish I had more time.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


I took my car to the repair store because I had a little light that was flashing red on and off like a Christmas ornament that sometimes you can just stare into forever and imagine that you are somewhere in the country in a house covered with snow and you can see the smoke rising from the chimney and you can’t wait to get inside and go to sleep and wake up the next morning and open up your Johnny Action One Man Army 7 Gun Set if you are really lucky or a new swing set would be just as nice and you will eat soft, mushy pears for breakfast and no one will remember to feed the dog and he will bark really loud.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Sometimes I have to remind myself how much better off I am than Ibsen as he sat on a ragged chair, eating nothing but potatoes.

I am trying to decide what I learned from building blocks. 

I am very glad that they weren’t painted.

I enjoyed how that they were so big.

I built many things.

And then I knocked them all down.

I played with them for many years and don’t remember a thing I built.

I remember knocking them down.

I remember the sound of knocking them down.

And saying Ta dah!

And I Like Ike!

I don’t remember what they looked like after I knocked them down.

Or what they looked like when I build things with them.

I remember what wood sounds like on a terrazzo floor.

I think I learned how to love music with building blocks.

Especially symphonies.

Today I love symphonies.

I love them so much.

And empty houses.

And building blocks.

And falling things.

I do not love paint.


The shock felt in bathing when one first plunges into the cold water (John Jamieson’s Etymological Scottish Dictionary, 1808) 
I imagine there are times when, in Scotland, water is quite cold.
In Scotland people might plunge into the water.
I believe that plunging into water is a remedy for depression.
It also cures the warm moist feeling of being outside in the summer.
It is also good if you like to say “Wowzers!”
Or enjoy the feeling of bathing trunks.
If you live in the Sahara Desert, what do you do in order to experience Curglaff?
You go to Scotland.
What if you can’t afford to go to Scotland?
You invite someone from Scotland to the Sahara Desert.
And ask them to explain Curglaff.
Serve them tea and how they will long for Curglaff!
You will too. 
You will laugh and carry on but there will be longing.
You can have feelings for things you’ve never felt.
You can long for things you’ve never known.
Curglaff – it sounds like you are falling down.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

A thought should start off in one place and end in another. In between, it has to take steps, one after another, as you might on a staircase. But sometimes one step takes you to another staircase, and that staircase takes you to a craggy mountain ridge, and that mountain ridge descends into a icy pool of water that takes you to an elevator that is broken, and that elevator stays right where it is for a long time and you are inside that elevator that Cleveland Hastings inspected in June of 1995, and after a while, you feel as though you know Cleveland Hastings quite intimately, and would like to share your new friendship with Cleveland Hastings with everyone who lives outside your elevator, but you know that will never be, pressing your finger many times on a round bright red button, that is not your thought, a round bright red button is not a thought, but it is something and it is nice to touch and it is soothing to watch but it is not a thought but it is all you can think about, after all, this is what happens to many thoughts.

Monday, November 02, 2015


This old Polaroid camera is astoundingly large. It was called the Model 95. It was designed by Edwin Land. 

It folds up and makes a chunky sound.

It’s grey.

Some people thought the Land camera could only be used on land. It can only be used on land, but that’s not why Edwin Land called it the Land camera.

Edwin Land dropped out of Harvard. Harvard gave him a degree anyway.

Edwin Land was astoundingly handsome. 

There was no Sea Camera.

Edwin Land worked on the optics system for the U-2 spy plane. His daughter asked him one day: “Why can’t I see that picture right away?” They were in New Mexico at the time.

Edwin Land used to trade cameras for photographs. He owned 25,000 of them.

Edwin’s wife was Helen.

Edwin’s wife loved the sea.

Edwin Land first discovered a two color system for projecting the entire spectrum of hues with only two colors of projecting light. It’s confusing. Two.

Edwin’s children were Jennifer and Valerie.

Edwin designed a camera called “The Swinger.”

People made fun of The Swinger and so Edwin designed the SX-70.

Edward looked jaunty in his cap.

Edwin Land liked to have women do important things in his company and they appreciated that very much. 

For years if you wanted to use it you had to order film from the Land Corporation which is the company that made the Polaroid camera. It took about a week to arrive. 

It came in a little box. The camera for this film was large and heavy and made of metal. It took pictures in an instant and they lasted forever. 

After you took the picture you had to coat the picture.

The ingredients in the Polaroid film coater were:

Isopropanol/Isopropyl alcohol, 5-15%
Zinc acetate dihydrate, 2-5%

and something called

Glacial acetic acid, 3-7%

Edwin Land died in 1991. His assistant took all his papers and notes, and cut them up into tiny pieces and threw them in the trash can.

And so, we know very little about Edwin.

The Polaroid camera is fun and important.

Edwin’s favorite colors were black and white.

I hope that is right.

Monday, October 26, 2015

I realized that I loved her when I dropped to my knees and kissed her belly button. She might have been in the kitchen, she might have been addressing an assembly at the UN, she might have been in heaven, I don’t remember. All I remember for certain is how elegantly she was dressed when she was naked.


I used to crack the shell of an M & M with my thumb and then peel away all the broken parts one by one. I don’t remember if I ate the shell but I do remember eating the chocolate within the shell.


The act of tilling the soil excites atoms into producing fruit that we can grow and later eat. 

Tilling, which is simply beating the ground with steel, excites atoms tremendously. 

But it does not excite all atoms. 

Some are excited by the activity of the steel, happy to be set forth into action.

Some atoms are happy to remain still, snoozing lazily in the warm sunshine. 

Atoms are designed to be what they are, not what they aren’t. 

With this, there is balance. And all atoms are happy doing what they do. Seriously.

There is nothing better than when she turns around to put her blouse back on in the morning. She wouldn’t do that if I wasn’t here. So pretend that I am not here. But please be careful that I don’t disappear until you do.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


I also say Hush Little Doggie with great frequency hoping that in my travels one day I will come upon a very loud little Doggie and my request will suddenly appear germane.

Sunday, October 18, 2015



I bought the ink from Japan because the bottle was so beautiful. 

I bought the ink from Japan because of my feelings about ink.

I have many feelings about ink.

I love ink.
I like ink.
I like paper on ink.
Or should I say: ink on paper.
The many colors of ink I love.

But if there were only one color, I would love it.
And I would miss all the others.
But I wouldn’t because how would I know.

Ink is something that can do something but who knows what.
If you draw a person made of ink, they can smear.
But here you have done something.
You have made something out of something that can become something.

Ink must stand for something, but I know not what.
Until that day, I will stand next to a bottle of ink.
I will say: what

Ink: what?
Tell me, 
Tell me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dear X,

I was told that he was an extraordinary prolific songwriter and that he had written 500 songs. Each song was about 3 minutes long and so they were collectively about 1500 minutes, or 25 hours. Last week I had so much work to do that I put a copy of his songs in my stereo and listened to them continuously. By Thursday, I had worked 25 hours.

I became upset and didn’t know what to do next.


Dear X,

I have misgivings about a photograph I took of a window display. It was striking: a series of golden skulls with sport sunglasses, and below a copy of Dante, a crawling spider and a pair of reading glasses. Reflected in the window was a passing truck, a series of oak trees, and a cream and brick school building. I didn’t create the display and I wasn’t responsible for the view reflected in the window. What was I? I was the only thing you couldn’t see in the photograph. 



Thursday, October 08, 2015


The first man on earth must have been a blond. Working outside all day long will do that to your hair. And there was no inside then. My grandmother, who worked on a farm, was also blonde until the day she died. And until that day, she worked hard with the cattle and the horses and had sinewy muscles of steel. At night she would drink barley wine and dye her hair grey. She wasn’t my real grandmother. Yet her hair was as beautiful as her muscles and my lies.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Dear X,

Today I became familiar with the Chinese Banjo. Familiar isn’t really the right word – I read the words in a manual: Chinese Banjo. I don’t want to explore this too much, because it might be a misprint, or a made-up term, or Chinese banjos might be extinct. They might no longer exist in China or be made in China. They might have one string. They might sound terrible in a Chinese Bluegrass band in China. There may be no Chinese Bluegrass bands in China. I might be dreaming. You might not be reading this. You might be writing this to me and I can’t quite make out the words. 

These are all the things that I don’t want to discover, or think about, or know. Here’s all I want to think about and know: Chinese Banjo.



Saturday, September 26, 2015

Dear X,

What would it be like to go to San Francisco and sit in a hotel all day? What would it be like to go to New England and break your foot and stare at a tree? What would it be like to order a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and say to the waiter, “I hate hot chocolate!” Would he scrape off the whipped cream and put it on a little plate for you? Are you supposed to say ‘Thank you’?

These are the things I think about when I think about marriage and things that are painted blue.



Dear X,

Only after I saw this Canadian movie about a girl working in a mattress store did it occur to me that in order to set up the mattress store you would have to do it when no customers were there which would mean you would have to set up all the beds at night, which is a good time to go to sleep. But she is in a mattress store with a bottle of champagne in her desk and a handsome man from Nigeria boxing mattresses nearby.



Dear X,

Last week I wrote a letter to Harry’s Razors to complain about the excessive postage on their creamy, delicious shaving gel. I received a courteous response today, informing me that all orders over $10 would receive free shipping. The courteous response was from a man named Larry, who works at Harry’s. I sent a letter in response thanking him for his kind letter, and hoping that my next reply will from Harry’s will come from Gary, and then Mary, and then Carrie, and then Barry, and then Terry, and finally from someone who cannot eat dairy, who stares at the office walls of Harry all day long, and is referred to as ‘Starey’, although not to her face. One mustn’t stare at Starey. Her real name must be Sherrie.  I love sherry. It’s so elegant and sweet.


Ricky (Jerry)

Dear X,

Did you ever want to live in that beautiful green field filled with peas on the Green Giant Frozen Peas pack? I always did. When I was a kid I would stop and stare at it for a long time. Now sometimes I go to the store when I can’t sleep.  I just stand there. 



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dear X,

Recently a friend wrote to me and said “That is a very small cow.” I feel you should never judge a cow by its size. And this is only a photo of a cow. If you want to judge something, judge the photograph. It’s very grainy, and the cow is blinking because it is so bright outside.

The photographer is a mean man who does not understand small cows.  Why did he bring her to this studio? There is nothing to play with here and t is so cold and damp, although unusually sunny as well. You can see it all in this cold, small photo.


Dear X,

I think that people talk about metaphors more than they talk about real windows. Except on days like this in September.



Dear X,

When I first repaired a bicycle tube, I melted a rubber patch on the tube itself and then glued it in place. The basement was lit by a single bulb and I don’ t remember anything about the bicycle but I remember the color of the patch, the stickiness of the glue, and how the light bulb warmed the room golden. Once I had finished repairing the tube, I took the bicycle out on a ride but I don’t have any idea if I enjoyed the ride on the bicycle I repaired that I have no idea if it looked like this or like that. It was a beautiful, sunny day.



Monday, September 14, 2015

Dear X,

I enjoy looking at different parts of the body photographed extremely close, so close that it is sometimes difficult to recognize what part of the body it is, or sometimes you confuse it was a desert. As the photographer draws away, you see that there is an engagement ring or a nipple in the dessert. Likewise for the model, who now can see, as the photographer draws away, the purity of blue in his eyes. Before they just looked like an ocean at the edge of the desert.



Dear X,

Before I leave tomorrow, I will buy roses when the shop opens which is 8:00. If it opened at 7:00, it might be a little dark out soon, or if I waited a few more months, it would definitely be dark. If I waited a month or two more, as I left the shop, the roses would freeze, my car wouldn’t start, and I would think about a fireplace in that cabin we stayed in one time long ago and how it burned down so quickly. Was that us?



Dear X,

I pressed the lilies into the mulch of the cherry tree and just as I did, the sun broke through the clouds. So I removed the lilies from the mulch and tried it again. It began to rain. A man in a wheelchair began to sing.



Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Dear X,

What would happen to me if I decided I wanted to be a silent screen star? What do you imagine my life would be like from now on? I means this sincerely. When I ask other people the same question, they pretend not to hear me.



Dear Y,

I have tabulated the ages of my elementary school teachers. According to my calculations:

Mrs. Doak (ornery) is now 114
Mrs. Bollinger (“Mrs. Bowling Ball”), 109
Mrs. Yeager (snowy white hair), 124
Mrs. Melville (milk and cookies recess), 111
Mrs. Zellner (big tummy), 98.
Mr. Mitchell (?)

I will call Mrs. Zelner first. I still feel bad when she got pregnant and had a baby and came back and we all shouted WE LOVE YOU and she cried and the baby screamed. We loved her so much.


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