Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Overread at Table 3: A Dream in the Days of Social Separation

A Dream in the Days of Social Separation

I dream,
but I keep waking up to the world
we now live in.

A world of cautious stares
at the grocery stores,
because we now all have cooties,

cooties that kill,
icky cooties, don't touch them!
Elbow bumps only, and only

for close friends and family,
(even if them), some
of the Trumpistas, no touch!

The dripping bile of
poisonous tongues might spittle
hit our skull, burn through

into our brains, like
acid from the double mouth
of the Alien,

it is hard to know what is
the more deadly,
the virus that cannot be seen,

or the racism that has been
exposed, naked, running
rampant and free like wildfire

across the deforested landscape
of what used to be
purple mountains majesty.

We now have met our neighbors,
but we trust them even less.
Strange how we lived

comfortably together when we
didn't know each other's names.
America, so long in isolation,

is so ill-prepared for social


Monday, March 30, 2020

Overheard at Table 1: Oh Rona!

Working on a love song to Rona.
Think of late 1950s doo-wop a-capella.

The Oh! Rona, only vaguely resembles Oh Donna! by Richie Valens

Slow, lilting, longing ... as though this girl is killing you ...

Oh, Rona
OHHH, Rona
You take my breath ... away.
Oh, Rona
OHHH, Rona
Rona don't you stayyyyy-ayyyy
Please go away.

Oh, Rona
OHHH, Rona
No cure for your ... disease
Oh, Rona
OHHH, Rona
Got no immuni-teeee!
Rona, leave me be!

You give me fever.
You give me chills.
Rona you ain't leavin'
Feels like you never will.
You make my heart stop!
You steal my breath!
You're stepping out with everyone!
You are the kiss of death!

Oh, Rona
OHHH, Rona
You got me on ... my knees
Oh, Rona
OHHH, Rona
I'm beggin' Jesus, please ...
don't take my family.

oooooooohhhhhh, yeahhhhhhhh!


Overheard at Booth 2: Social Isolation

... and they have us all working remotely, the whole team, and then one of us, Toni, she emailed the group to say that she'd been running a fever, and just wanted us to know that she thinks she caught it after they'd sent us all to work from home but that she couldn't get tested, and then some of the others were chatting about it on a separate chat and one of them mentioned, and I thought to myself, oh my GOD, that's so mean, but also so true, that they thought even if she DID have Corona before they sent us all home, that none of us could have caught it from her anyway, because she's always in social isolation at work.  Like, no one wants to get within six feet of her!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Overheard at Booth 1: Suddenly Everyone's at the Park

"One thing about Corona is that everyone is now enjoying the park.  I know it's terrible to say, but there is an upside to all this.  Yesterday when I was taking my early evening stroll, it suddenly hit me that there are tons more people there than usual, guys playing football on the small hill, kids playing frisbee with their dogs, families even having their dinner as a picnic.

"And I wondered, why hadn't these people been here before?  Is it just that they are tired of being cooped up in the house all day during the quarantine?

"And so I thought, you know, maybe it's because we are worked too hard.  This was about 6:15.  At this time, most people in this city would still be stuck in traffic, heading home from jobs that they got to at 7 in the morning.  11-12 hour days, with 2-3 hours extra jammed in traffic - most of these people just get home too damn exhausted to do anything but eat food they picked up on the way, watch some tv, go to bed.

"But everyone here was having more time for their kids, more time for their pets, more time for each other ... there is beauty in the midst of the madness.  There is hope in the middle of disease, and there is life that blossoms and shines, even during the times when we are all covered by the shadow of death."

Friday, March 27, 2020

Overheard at Table 2: Teens at the Park

As the wife and I were walking through the park yesterday, we passed a group of three teen girls, and I kid you not, as we passed them, I heard one say, "Is that your 'I'm better than you' face?   I only know because I wear one all the time.  Because I am."

When we got out of earshot, I told the wife about it, to see if she had heard it to.  She said that she had not.  "But it's lucky for her that I didn't!" the wife said.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Overheard at Booth 3: COVID in the Cages

- First, it starts off with an electronica beat ... bump bump bump bump, and then there is a little alternating rhythm... bum bum bum BUMBUM bum bum, bum bum bum BUMBUM bum bum,

then the lyrics start off with short, sharp, words like:

On all the human farms
No water
No soap
No safety and no hope

we got
COVID in the caaaaaaaaa-gggesssss!

... at that part the synths explode:  brrrrr-WWHHHHRRRRRR!!!

COVID in the caaaaaaaaa-gggesssss!

... and then back to the beat

to see
It won't be shown on your tv
Suffocating so far away from home

then the chorus again: COVID IN THE CAAAAAA-GGGESSS!!

.. so, what do you think?

- What have you been listening to?

- Innerpartysystem's "American Trash."  Why?

- Just askin.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Overheard at Table 2: Black Panther (2018)

1: Aw, Black Panther man, Black Panther, y'know Killmonger had the right idea.

2: How could he have the right idea?  Killmonger was an American who wanted to impose colonial American culture on an African nation.

1: He was all about rejecting America and getting back to his roots.  Remember when he said that his ancestors were the ones who jumped overboard on the slave ships?

2: Yeah, but that completely ignores one fact.  Fact - if they jumped over the sides of the ships and drowned themselves, they probably did so BEFORE they could have kids.  Most of these guys had their children when they GOT to America... there wasn't no time to be havin' babies on the ship.

1: You never know - those ships were packed.  Lots of people, packed together.

2: It wasn't no romantic CRUISE, cuz!

1: All I'm sayin' is that people find a way.

2: Sure.  Fine.  Like, I'm gonna impregnate you, but then I'm gonna throw myself overboard and DROWN so I won't be taken to the American Colonies to be a slave.

1: You never know.  You were not there.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Overheard at Table 4: The Truth, Summed Up

And I remember my grandfather, Giuseppe Salinghetti, who summed up how to live a good life.  He said, "Read more. Talk less."

Monday, March 23, 2020

Overheard at Table 3: Corona Kids

So is the next generation gonna be called Corona Kids?

Huh?  Why?

Because they'll be born in the time of Corona.  Boomers were after World War II, because there were so many bombs dropped in that war, then Millennials, because they were born around the Millennium, so kids born during the Corona Virus outbreak will be called Corona Kids.

Sounds about right ... wait, what did you say about World War II?

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Overheard at Table 2: Life in the Time of Corona

Dad: Bunch a kids on Spring Break in Florida just tested positive for Corona.

Daughter: What part of Florida?

Dad: All parts.

Daughter: You just don't want to tell me because it's not the part I was in.

Dad: That's the point.  We don't know what all parts it's in.  It could be everywhere and we just don't know yet.

Daughter: Well I'll be OK.  Kids my age don't get sick with it.

Dad: Yeah but you can give it to parents my age who DO!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Overheard at Table 3: Jorge Speaks

And Jorge said, "Man, I heard that white people are really giving it to the Asians, screaming at them to 'Go back home!' n shit...makes me just wanna give a shout out, 'Thanks for taking one for the team!'"

Friday, March 20, 2020

Overheard at Booth 3: Rappers Name-Out

Billy: I been wonderin' . . . why is it rappers always have to call our their names in their songs?

Joe: I think it's because they keep forgetting who they are.

Jim: Wid' all dem crazy names, who kin figger it out?

Bob: Maybe it's to help all their listeners figger 'em out?

Billy: So, which izzit? Izzit because they're too dumb to remember their own crazy names, or izzit to distinguish between 'em . . . y'know, cuz it all sounds the same.

Joe: Yo! Sh**! BUMP BUMP BUMP! HO!

Jim: I think it's a little from column A, a little from column B.

Bob: WORD!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Overread at the Counter: Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti

The denizens of the Zen and Tao Acoustic Cafe have gathered together in quarantine, much like the denizens of the Italian village Boccacio's Decameron, and they enact their favourite poems.

This is from Niall Carter, which is quite a surprising choice.  We all thought he would have chosen Lewis Carroll's "The Jabberwocky"


MORNING and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries-
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries--
All ripe together
In summer weather--
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy;
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye,
Come buy, come buy." Evening by evening
Among the brookside rushes,
Laura bowed her head to hear,
Lizzie veiled her blushes:
Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger-tips.
"Lie close," Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head:
We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?"
"Come buy," call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.
"O! cried Lizzie, Laura, Laura,
You should not peep at goblin men."
Lizzie covered up her eyes
Covered close lest they should look;
Laura reared her glossy head,
And whispered like the restless brook:
"Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie,
Down the glen tramp little men.
One hauls a basket,
One bears a plate,
One lugs a golden dish
Of many pounds' weight.
How fair the vine must grow
Whose grapes are so luscious;
How warm the wind must blow
Through those fruit bushes."
"No," said Lizzie, "no, no, no;
Their offers should not charm us,
Their evil gifts would harm us."
She thrust a dimpled finger
In each ear, shut eyes and ran:
Curious Laura chose to linger
Wondering at each merchant man.
One had a cat's face,
One whisked a tail,
One tramped at a rat's pace,
One crawled like a snail,
One like a wombat prowled obtuse and furry,
One like a ratel tumbled hurry-scurry.
Lizzie heard a voice like voice of doves
Cooing all together:
They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather. Laura stretched her gleaming neck
Like a rush-imbedded swan,
Like a lily from the beck,
Like a moonlit poplar branch,
Like a vessel at the launch
When its last restraint is gone. Backwards up the mossy glen
Turned and trooped the goblin men,
With their shrill repeated cry,
"Come buy, come buy."
When they reached where Laura was
They stood stock still upon the moss,
Leering at each other,
Brother with queer brother;
Signalling each other,
Brother with sly brother.
One set his basket down,
One reared his plate;
One began to weave a crown
Of tendrils, leaves, and rough nuts brown
(Men sell not such in any town);
One heaved the golden weight
Of dish and fruit to offer her:
"Come buy, come buy," was still their cry.
Laura stared but did not stir,
Longed but had no money:
The whisk-tailed merchant bade her taste
In tones as smooth as honey,
The cat-faced purr'd,
The rat-paced spoke a word
Of welcome, and the snail-paced even was heard;
One parrot-voiced and jolly
Cried "Pretty Goblin" still for "Pretty Polly";
One whistled like a bird. But sweet-tooth Laura spoke in haste:
"Good folk, I have no coin;
To take were to purloin:
I have no copper in my purse,
I have no silver either,
And all my gold is on the furze
That shakes in windy weather
Above the rusty heather."
"You have much gold upon your head,"
They answered altogether:
"Buy from us with a golden curl."
She clipped a precious golden lock,
She dropped a tear more rare than pearl,
Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red:
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flowed that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She sucked and sucked and sucked the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore,
She sucked until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away,
But gathered up one kernel stone,
And knew not was it night or day
As she turned home alone. Lizzie met her at the gate
Full of wise upbraidings:
"Dear, you should not stay so late,
Twilight is not good for maidens;
Should not loiter in the glen
In the haunts of goblin men.
Do you not remember Jeanie,
How she met them in the moonlight,
Took their gifts both choice and many,
Ate their fruits and wore their flowers
Plucked from bowers
Where summer ripens at all hours?
But ever in the moonlight
She pined and pined away;
Sought them by night and day,
Found them no more, but dwindled and grew gray;
Then fell with the first snow,
While to this day no grass will grow
Where she lies low:
I planted daisies there a year ago
That never blow.
You should not loiter so."
"Nay hush," said Laura.
"Nay hush, my sister:
I ate and ate my fill,
Yet my mouth waters still;
To-morrow night I will
Buy more," and kissed her.
"Have done with sorrow;
I'll bring you plums to-morrow
Fresh on their mother twigs,
Cherries worth getting;
You cannot think what figs
My teeth have met in,
What melons, icy-cold
Piled on a dish of gold
Too huge for me to hold,
What peaches with a velvet nap,
Pellucid grapes without one seed:
Odorous indeed must be the mead
Whereon they grow, and pure the wave they drink,
With lilies at the brink,
And sugar-sweet their sap." Golden head by golden head,
Like two pigeons in one nest
Folded in each other's wings,
They lay down, in their curtained bed:
Like two blossoms on one stem,
Like two flakes of new-fallen snow,
Like two wands of ivory
Tipped with gold for awful kings.
Moon and stars beamed in at them,
Wind sang to them lullaby,
Lumbering owls forbore to fly,
Not a bat flapped to and fro
Round their rest:
Cheek to cheek and breast to breast
Locked together in one nest. Early in the morning
When the first cock crowed his warning,
Neat like bees, as sweet and busy,
Laura rose with Lizzie:
Fetched in honey, milked the cows,
Aired and set to rights the house,
Kneaded cakes of whitest wheat,
Cakes for dainty mouths to eat,
Next churned butter, whipped up cream,
Fed their poultry, sat and sewed;
Talked as modest maidens should
Lizzie with an open heart,
Laura in an absent dream,
One content, one sick in part;
One warbling for the mere bright day's delight,
One longing for the night. At length slow evening came--
They went with pitchers to the reedy brook;
Lizzie most placid in her look,
Laura most like a leaping flame.
They drew the gurgling water from its deep
Lizzie plucked purple and rich golden flags,
Then turning homeward said: "The sunset flushes
Those furthest loftiest crags;
Come, Laura, not another maiden lags,
No wilful squirrel wags,
The beasts and birds are fast asleep."
But Laura loitered still among the rushes
And said the bank was steep. And said the hour was early still,
The dew not fallen, the wind not chill:
Listening ever, but not catching
The customary cry,
"Come buy, come buy,"
With its iterated jingle
Of sugar-baited words:
Not for all her watching
Once discerning even one goblin
Racing, whisking, tumbling, hobbling;
Let alone the herds
That used to tramp along the glen,
In groups or single,
Of brisk fruit-merchant men. Till Lizzie urged, "O Laura, come,
I hear the fruit-call, but I dare not look:
You should not loiter longer at this brook:
Come with me home.
The stars rise, the moon bends her arc,
Each glow-worm winks her spark,
Let us get home before the night grows dark;
For clouds may gather even
Though this is summer weather,
Put out the lights and drench us through;
Then if we lost our way what should we do?" Laura turned cold as stone
To find her sister heard that cry alone,
That goblin cry,
"Come buy our fruits, come buy."
Must she then buy no more such dainty fruit?
Must she no more such succous pasture find,
Gone deaf and blind?
Her tree of life drooped from the root:
She said not one word in her heart's sore ache;
But peering thro' the dimness, naught discerning,
Trudged home, her pitcher dripping all the way;
So crept to bed, and lay
Silent 'til Lizzie slept;
Then sat up in a passionate yearning,
And gnashed her teeth for balked desire, and wept
As if her heart would break. Day after day, night after night,
Laura kept watch in vain,
In sullen silence of exceeding pain.
She never caught again the goblin cry:
"Come buy, come buy,"
She never spied the goblin men
Hawking their fruits along the glen:
But when the noon waxed bright
Her hair grew thin and gray;
She dwindled, as the fair full moon doth turn
To swift decay, and burn
Her fire away. One day remembering her kernel-stone
She set it by a wall that faced the south;
Dewed it with tears, hoped for a root,
Watched for a waxing shoot,
But there came none;
It never saw the sun,
It never felt the trickling moisture run:
While with sunk eyes and faded mouth
She dreamed of melons, as a traveller sees
False waves in desert drouth
With shade of leaf-crowned trees,
And burns the thirstier in the sandful breeze. She no more swept the house,
Tended the fowls or cows,
Fetched honey, kneaded cakes of wheat,
Brought water from the brook:
But sat down listless in the chimney-nook
And would not eat. Tender Lizzie could not bear
To watch her sister's cankerous care,
Yet not to share.
She night and morning
Caught the goblins' cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy."
Beside the brook, along the glen
She heard the tramp of goblin men,
The voice and stir
Poor Laura could not hear;
Longed to buy fruit to comfort her,
But feared to pay too dear, She thought of Jeanie in her grave,
Who should have been a bride;
But who for joys brides hope to have
Fell sick and died
In her gay prime,
In earliest winter-time,
With the first glazing rime,
With the first snow-fall of crisp winter-time. Till Laura, dwindling,
Seemed knocking at Death's door:
Then Lizzie weighed no more
Better and worse,
But put a silver penny in her purse,
Kissed Laura, crossed the heath with clumps of furze
At twilight, halted by the brook,
And for the first time in her life
Began to listen and look. Laughed every goblin
When they spied her peeping:
Came towards her hobbling,
Flying, running, leaping,
Puffing and blowing,
Chuckling, clapping, crowing,
Clucking and gobbling,
Mopping and mowing,
Full of airs and graces,
Pulling wry faces,
Demure grimaces,
Cat-like and rat-like,
Ratel and wombat-like,
Snail-paced in a hurry,
Parrot-voiced and whistler,
Helter-skelter, hurry-skurry,
Chattering like magpies,
Fluttering like pigeons,
Gliding like fishes, --
Hugged her and kissed her;
Squeezed and caressed her;
Stretched up their dishes,
Panniers and plates:
"Look at our apples
Russet and dun,
Bob at our cherries
Bite at our peaches,
Citrons and dates,
Grapes for the asking,
Pears red with basking
Out in the sun,
Plums on their twigs;
Pluck them and suck them,
Pomegranates, figs." "Good folk," said Lizzie,
Mindful of Jeanie,
"Give me much and many"; --
Held out her apron,
Tossed them her penny.
"Nay, take a seat with us,
Honor and eat with us,"
They answered grinning;
"Our feast is but beginning.
Night yet is early,
Warm and dew-pearly,
Wakeful and starry:
Such fruits as these
No man can carry;
Half their bloom would fly,
Half their dew would dry,
Half their flavor would pass by.
Sit down and feast with us,
Be welcome guest with us,
Cheer you and rest with us."
"Thank you," said Lizzie; "but one waits
At home alone for me:
So, without further parleying,
If you will not sell me any
Of your fruits though much and many,
Give me back my silver penny
I tossed you for a fee."
They began to scratch their pates,
No longer wagging, purring,
But visibly demurring,
Grunting and snarling.
One called her proud,
Cross-grained, uncivil;
Their tones waxed loud,
Their looks were evil.
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbowed and jostled her,
Clawed with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soiled her stocking,
Twitched her hair out by the roots,
Stamped upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeezed their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat. White and golden Lizzie stood,
Like a lily in a flood,
Like a rock of blue-veined stone
Lashed by tides obstreperously, --
Like a beacon left alone
In a hoary roaring sea,
Sending up a golden fire, --
Like a fruit-crowned orange-tree
White with blossoms honey-sweet
Sore beset by wasp and bee, --
Like a royal virgin town
Topped with gilded dome and spire
Close beleaguered by a fleet
Mad to tear her standard down. One may lead a horse to water,
Twenty cannot make him drink.
Though the goblins cuffed and caught her,
Coaxed and fought her,
Bullied and besought her,
Scratched her, pinched her black as ink,
Kicked and knocked her,
Mauled and mocked her,
Lizzie uttered not a word;
Would not open lip from lip
Lest they should cram a mouthful in;
But laughed in heart to feel the drip
Of juice that syruped all her face,
And lodged in dimples of her chin,
And streaked her neck which quaked like curd.
At last the evil people,
Worn out by her resistance,
Flung back her penny, kicked their fruit
Along whichever road they took,
Not leaving root or stone or shoot.
Some writhed into the ground,
Some dived into the brook
With ring and ripple.
Some scudded on the gale without a sound,
Some vanished in the distance. In a smart, ache, tingle,
Lizzie went her way;
Knew not was it night or day;
Sprang up the bank, tore through the furze,
Threaded copse and dingle,
And heard her penny jingle
Bouncing in her purse, --
Its bounce was music to her ear.
She ran and ran
As if she feared some goblin man
Dogged her with gibe or curse
Or something worse:
But not one goblin skurried after,
Nor was she pricked by fear;
The kind heart made her windy-paced
That urged her home quite out of breath with haste
And inward laughter. She cried "Laura," up the garden,
"Did you miss me ?
Come and kiss me.
Never mind my bruises,
Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
Squeezed from goblin fruits for you,
Goblin pulp and goblin dew.
Eat me, drink me, love me;
Laura, make much of me:
For your sake I have braved the glen
And had to do with goblin merchant men." Laura started from her chair,
Flung her arms up in the air,
Clutched her hair:
"Lizzie, Lizzie, have you tasted
For my sake the fruit forbidden?
Must your light like mine be hidden,
Your young life like mine be wasted,
Undone in mine undoing,
And ruined in my ruin;
Thirsty, cankered, goblin-ridden?"
She clung about her sister,
Kissed and kissed and kissed her:
Tears once again
Refreshed her shrunken eyes,
Dropping like rain
After long sultry drouth;
Shaking with aguish fear, and pain,
She kissed and kissed her with a hungry mouth. Her lips began to scorch,
That juice was wormwood to her tongue,
She loathed the feast:
Writhing as one possessed she leaped and sung,
Rent all her robe, and wrung
Her hands in lamentable haste,
And beat her breast.
Her locks streamed like the torch
Borne by a racer at full speed,
Or like the mane of horses in their flight,
Or like an eagle when she stems the light
Straight toward the sun,
Or like a caged thing freed,
Or like a flying flag when armies run. Swift fire spread through her veins, knocked at her heart,
Met the fire smouldering there
And overbore its lesser flame,
She gorged on bitterness without a name:
Ah! fool, to choose such part
Of soul-consuming care!
Sense failed in the mortal strife:
Like the watch-tower of a town
Which an earthquake shatters down,
Like a lightning-stricken mast,
Like a wind-uprooted tree
Spun about,
Like a foam-topped water-spout
Cast down headlong in the sea,
She fell at last;
Pleasure past and anguish past,
Is it death or is it life ? Life out of death.
That night long Lizzie watched by her,
Counted her pulse's flagging stir,
Felt for her breath,
Held water to her lips, and cooled her face
With tears and fanning leaves:
But when the first birds chirped about their eaves,
And early reapers plodded to the place
Of golden sheaves,
And dew-wet grass
Bowed in the morning winds so brisk to pass,
And new buds with new day
Opened of cup-like lilies on the stream,
Laura awoke as from a dream,
Laughed in the innocent old way,
Hugged Lizzie but not twice or thrice;
Her gleaming locks showed not one thread of gray,
Her breath was sweet as May,
And light danced in her eyes. Days, weeks, months,years
Afterwards, when both were wives
With children of their own;
Their mother-hearts beset with fears,
Their lives bound up in tender lives;
Laura would call the little ones
And tell them of her early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone
Of not-returning time:
Would talk about the haunted glen,
The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
Their fruits like honey to the throat,
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town;)
Would tell them how her sister stood
In deadly peril to do her good,
And win the fiery antidote:
Then joining hands to little hands
Would bid them cling together,
"For there is no friend like a sister,
In calm or stormy weather,
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands."

by Christina Rossetti

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Overheard at Booth 1: Stay

Meeting at the Zen and Tao Acoustic Cafe, after not seeing each other for three years, after they were caught up on their jobs and new loves, the conversation eventually turned to the old apartment they'd shared, where they'd shared utilities, rent, and more than a few laughs.

He said, "You know, when I look back on that, I realize that I never exactly knew why you left."

She was not surprised by this.  She simply replied, "I only left, because I knew you would never ask me to stay."

[NOTE: also posted as #microprompt 1338]

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Overheard at Booth 1: New Song "Immunocompromised"

From "Songs in the Time of Corona"


[sung like The Cramps, with a voice similar to Elvis Presley]

I don’t got no HIV
I don’t got no STD
I’ve been through chemotherapy

[beat, beat] I’m immunoCOMpromised!

I’m immunocompromised, baby
I’m immunocompromised, baby
I’m immunocompromised, baby
I’m immunocompromised!

Girl now don’t you cough on me
I can’t be near you if you sneeze
You better not be touching me!

[beat, beat] I’m immunoCOMpromised!

I’m immunocompromised, baby
I’m immunocompromised, baby
I’m immunocompromised, baby
I’m immunocompromised!


Monday, March 16, 2020

Overheard at Table 3: make a video of this

1: They say they will make a video of this, but I didn't see any cameras.

2: How do you know they will make a video of this?

1: I heard them talking.

2: How could you hear them?  They were seven feet tall!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Overhead at the Small Stage: Armadillo Railroad "Closing Down the Rodeo"

There seems to be an issue currently with our audio, but here are the lyrics:

Closing Down the Rodeo

Well, they're closing down the rodeo,
Telling all the breeders it's time to go home.
Head on folks, the show is done,
Come back next year when Corona is gone.

Well, they're closing down the rodeo,
First time in 80 years that they've done so.
All those bands won't get to put on their shows.
Will they be back next year?  Hell, nobody knows.

They're closing down the rodeo.

Hats over hearts for the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show.
Say a prayer for the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show.
The streets of Houston are now filled with nothing but the shadows
of the folks who once wandered through the Livestock and Rodeo Show

They're closing down ... the Rodeo


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Overheard at Table 3: Poem for Another Day


Someone someday will tell you that Jesus does not save.

I took desire from another day
Put it in my pocket just to save
a few pennies on the train
but then I turned and realized that the
ticket had already been paid.

Now I sit at the window watching the world flying by,
the ruins of castles on the hillsides,
build by hands of serfs who've long since died,
and I know that they had the same desire as I,
to live and love and eat and be satisfied,

to live
and love
and eat,

and be satisfied.


Friday, March 13, 2020

Overheard at Booth 4: Needs


has so much need.
need to be touched, need
not to be touched, need
to be seen, need
to be left
need for speed,
need for music
need for poetry
need for love
need for drugs
need for coffee
need for some
hit of some
just to make it
through the
need to be appreciated
need to be adored
need to be entertained
need to have something push all
the right buttons at all
the right times in all
the right places,
need for space
need for silence,
need for sunshine,
need for rain,
need to be free from pain,
need for the kids to shut
for once
and stop
tearing apart the house,
need to go into a
rubber room and scream until
all the screams have been
screamed out and there
are no more screams left,
to have
more needs.

A need
to be


Thursday, March 12, 2020

Overheard at Booth 3: Closing Down the Rodeo (Life in the Time of Corona)

Billy: They're closing down the Rodeo

Joe: The Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show?

Jim: The one and the same.

Bob: Guy from Montgomery County sick.  They're testing him for Corona virus.

Billy: If positive, it'll be the first case of community spread.

Joe: He was at the Bar-b-que.

Jim: Still, closing down the rodeo ... wow!

Bob: True!  I always thought even God Himself wouldn't ever close down the Houston Rodeo!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Overheard at Table 2: My Corona (from Life in the Time of Corona)


Ooh, over in Wuhan, in Wuhan
In a fish market you will FIND corona
Jumpin’ from bats into humans, to humans
Now that’s just crossin’ the LINE, Corona

Never gonna stop, gonna spread, with every sneeze
We all gonna catch it, catch this new disease
Sneeze sneeze sneeze sneeze ACHOO!
M-m-m-my Corona

Come a little closer, huh, a-will ya, huh?
At least I don’t bleed from my EYES, like Ebola
Keeping it a mystery, the CDC
Cuz Trump don’t care if we all DIE, Corona


When you gonna test-a me, for this disease
Is it just a matter of time, Corona?
Is it d-d-destiny, d-destiny
That no one will be left aLIVE, Corona?


M-m-m-my Corona
Ooooooo-ohhh, my Corona
Ooooooo-ohhh, my Corona
Ooooooo-ohhh, my Corona

From “My Sharona” by Burton Averre and Doug Fieger
Adapted lyrics by MR

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Overheard at Table 1: Life in the Time of Corona

"I was driving in to work today and I saw everyone on the highway in their cars, all of us, safe in our individual little boxes.  And I was thinking that normally I rag on Houston for not having no real public transportation system.  No subway, light rail is only from the homeless shelter to the medical center.  No one even really carpools. 

"But now, with all this corona virus going around, I'm thinking that maybe the one benefit about no one using public transportation is that we are all self-contained, separated by our little tin can bubbles."

Monday, March 9, 2020

Overheard at Booth 5: I Write Poetry n' Shit

"I had a friend.  He said he wanted to be buried in a t-shirt that read I WRITE POETRY N' SHIT.

"He pulled a Hemingway.  So, of course, closed casket funeral.

"Don't know if his family got him the shirt.  Sometimes I still wonder about that."

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Overheard at the Counter: Everything's So Peaceful Here

.. and I was hearing this story of a 17 year old kid from Tegucigalpa, Guatemala ... he's living in Fort Worth, and he had been sent across the bridge in Matamoros by his dad, who is still down there in the camps.

They are part of the "wait in Mexico" ruling by the Trump administration.  The kid said that the gangs in his neighborhood gave him three choices: work for them, get the hell out of the city, or be killed.  So his 43 year old father brought him North.

 By the time they got here, that's when they found out they had to wait in Mexico.  Which they said has it's own dangers.  If you leave the camp you get robbed.  Sometimes the Cartels sweep through the camps, picking up a bunch of people that they can try to ransom.  The kid and his father didn't have a tent so they slept on the ground.  When it rained they had to stand up until the rain was finished.

So, his father decided to send him across.  Underage unaccompanied minors have to be placed with someone if there is someone.  The kid said that when he turned himself in to the CBP they questioned him.  He told them about the gangs and they said, "Everyone says that.  You're lying.  Who told you to tell that story?"

but the kid swears he's not lying.  Still, after the detention center, they let him into the custody of a great uncle, who lives in an apartment with four other guys.  They all work at a nearby Sushi restaurant.  The kid is enrolled at school and when they interviewed him, he was in a car, and he said, "Everything is so peaceful here.  Everything is so clean.  There's no military in the streets.  There's no gangs in the streets.  This is the promised land."

Kid says that he's sad only because his dad is still in Matamoros, and his mom and sister are still back in Tegucigalpa.  He wishes they could join him, here, in the promised land. 

A land that he may not be able to stay in.  The Judge doesn't believe his story, because he doesn't have any scars.  If he had had scars, that might tell a different story.  No scars, no evidence of a risk of imminent danger.

But not all scars are visible.  And America is just too blind to see.

To blinded by being paradise.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Overheard at Booth 2: Panic

... and I was in a panic, I mean, it just washed over me, while I was sitting there trying to focus on this fucking excel spreadsheet to allocate revenue and COGS, and this was a file that I do every fucking month for the past two years and then I got this sense that not only suddenly did I not understand it, like my brain just shut down, like it refused to let any of the data in.  Suddenly this thing looked like a foreign language to me ... and at that moment, I just wanted to run, get the hell out of there, just run away and go home and do nothing but make my cross-stitch all day long and sell that to the craft stores to make a living ...

I don't know ... is that a sign?  I don't know.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Overhead at Table 1: Soviet Honeymoon

Garage Band named
Soviet Honeymoon

“I breastfed my baby all over Charlottesville” was the opening line to the rock opera by Soviet Honeymoon.

The front woman was Candace X

lines from the song: 

wounded smile
dark and seamless sleep

The name of the song is “Jesus was a Refugee”

First Verse: 
I breastfed my baby all over Charlottesville
Sometimes some frigid bitches shot me looks that could kill
But what the cons think don’t mean shit to me,
 … because Jesus was a refugee.


[note: these came from interactions on Twitter.  "Candace from TX" had the name Soviet Honeymoon when talking about Bernie Sanders.  I said that'd be a great name for a band; she said it was her garage band.  The "breastfed" line was from some other person whose handle I have forgotten, but it was in response to a question about breastfeeding in public.   My nephew MR wrote the first verse of the song.  I hope he'll write the rest of the Rock Opera.]

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Overread at Table 5: a response to Social Media interaction ...

A screenshot from a DM:

Thank you, but I will have to bow out of any further discussion with you.   Your very question of “Are you willing…” presumes a superiority on your part which precludes honest discourse.  I’ve been through many of these before and frankly, I’m old and I don’t play games.

Your plethora of detailed responses was clearly meant to demonstrate a superior knowledge of the lethality of various arms in an attempt to “prove” that a shotgun is as lethal as an AR-15.  That is pedantry.

Frankly, I no longer have time for that, and I’m simply not interested in talking with you.  However, you may have some interesting conversations with my good friend [@XXXXception], if you desire.  
He is very knowledgeable as well in the various physics of firearms.

But I do thank you for reaching out, and I hope that your other convos will be edifying and fulfilling.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Overheard at Booth 3: Son Jarocho

"Think of it!   'Are You Lonesome Tonight?' ... in the Jarocho style!!"

"You're nuts."

"You're singing it in your head.  You know you are."

"No I'm not."

"Yes you are!  Where can we get ahold of Los Lobos?  They'll sound great!"

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Overread at Booth 3: On Some Other Street

On some other street
On some other day
In some other country, we will meet.

A glance, perhaps, nothing more,
your eyes will meet mine,

perhaps I will remember the curl of your hair
as it graces your cheek,

perhaps you will remember
the sound of my footsteps
on the pavement,

as I fade into your past.


Monday, March 2, 2020

Overread at Table 3: Poem "Five Dead Senses"

Five Dead Senses

Tiny fingers curl around the chain link
of the fence, or touch the
tactile pockmarks of the cement

dirty faces
streaked with tears, the toddler
cries under the floodlamp against the
Border Patrol van
idling night in the desert.

The taste of blood and earth
on our tongues, which
mutely scream
against the walls of an Empire
that does not know
that it is already dead.

The smell of death is here,
all around us, seeping
from our touchscreens
while we, zombie-eyed and
mumblesputtering, scroll
endlessly for the ever-vanishing
uptick spark of that last
dopamine hit …

And we are deaf
from the thunder
of God’s silence.


Sunday, March 1, 2020

Overheard at Table 1: Black History Month

Billy: Well there's another Black History Month come and gone.

Joe: And what did we learn?

Jim: I learned about several scientists that were slaves.

Bob: I learned that there was a Rosa Parks a hundred years before Rosa Parks.

Billy: I learned that Jimi Hendrix was black.

Joe: Jimi was black?

Jim: I just thought he was a living Statocaster.

Bob: That he certainly was!