Friday, January 29, 2016

Overheard at Table 2: Marriage

The Wife:  Our daughter needs a role model and you're always so goofy, she can't see you as the male role model she needs you to be.  She's never going to see you as anything but that goofy guy.  You are really failing her as a dad right now.  Sure you don't beat her or yell like Naomi's step-dad it, sure, but you're still not what she needs.  What role model is she going to look for in a guy?  How is she going to find the right guy when you're always acting like you do?  I'm your wife and I adore you but I don't have any sort of physical attraction to you right now, I mean I will always love you but I sure don't want to be intimate with some sort of eternal child.  What do you have to say for yourself?

The Husband: I'll do better.

The Wife: You've been saying that for years and you never get any better.  All you do is talk and talk and you never stop and you make all these promises and you never follow through.  I told you to read the Bible with Nathan and he needs to get his grades up and you were supposed to help him with his grades and did you?  No.  His grades are tanking and you haven't sat with him you haven't done anything with him.  All you ever do is come home and run around all frenetic trying to clean all the dishes and washing all the laundry.  And that's another thing, stop doing the laundry because you shrank two of my sweaters in one week and they were my Loft sweaters and they were good sweaters so be more careful and put them on the hot setting . . . why are you looking at me like that?

The Husband: I need to go to work now.   There's something I have to take care of.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Overread at the Counter: POD - Down to the Gulf of Mexico

Down to the Gulf of Mexico

I rode my horse
I rode my horse
Down to the Gulf of Mexico

I rode my horse
I rode my horse
Out onto the Gulf of Mexico

Then my horse
Then my horse
Said, “I can’t walk on water, you know.”

Then my horse
With me, of course,
Sank in the Gulf of Mexico


This is a ska-country-punk-core song.  Shredding the upbeat.   It will probably clock at about 25-30 seconds long.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Overread at the Counter: Poem of the Day: Ocean Waves

Ocean Waves

What draws us to the ocean waves?
Is it love of the womb or fear of the grave?
Does the ocean resound with an encompassing hum?
Or are we just drawn to whence we have come?

Note: I wanted to make this longer, but then realized that it pretty much asked everything that needed to be asked and any additional lines would simply be unnecessary.  Plus, I couldn’t make them rhyme.


Overread at the Counter: Poem of the Day for Yesterday: Freshmen


She was dreaming about the Rainforest Café
Where all her friends were waitstaff.
She was the greeter.

Her friend was fighting with his girlfriend, so
He sent her a text.
She looked at her phone; his text read

U R the 1 Ive always loved.

The girlfriend runs up to her and
Says, “What did he say?”

She shows her the screen. 
The girlfriend says to her, “What the hell did you do?!”
Then the girlfriend storms out of the Rainforest Café
To go take a job at Forever XXI.


Shit, she thinks,
I thought I left this all behind in high school.

The alarm blares.
She wakes up, slaps the snooze button.
Dawn has already lit the room.

Before she even opens her eyes, she
Tries to remember if
Her 10am class today is World History

Or Chem 101.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Poem of 2016-0124: Scrap of paper left in Booth 5

This room wears your face.
These sheets still bear your smell.

All your dotted lines always led to broken bottles
Shattered across the kitchen floor.

The smoke detectors have all been disconnected.

The glass now, being swept into this dustpan,
Is the only sound in this place,
Now that you are no longer here.

But this house still wears your face,

The sofa still bears your smell.

I was thinking about the people I grew up with in my home state, where it always seemed like love was just a struggle to keep the lights on and a fresh pack of cigarettes handy.

I do not know if the person to whom the narrator is speaking is gone because she (or he) has been arrested or has committed suicide.   That's for you, the reader, to decide.   Let me know when you figure it out.


Overread at Table 4: Poem of the Day: Freshmen


She was dreaming about the Rainforest Café
Where all her friends were waitstaff.
She was the greeter.

Her friend was fighting with his girlfriend, so
He sent her a text.
She looked at her phone; his text read

U R the 1 Ive always loved.

The girlfriend runs up to her and
Says, “What did he say?”

She shows her the screen. 
The girlfriend says to her, “What the hell did you do?!”
Then the girlfriend storms out of the Rainforest Café
To go take a job at Forever XXI.


Shit, she thinks,
I thought I left this all behind in high school.

The alarm blares.
She wakes up, slaps the snooze button.
Dawn has already lit the room.

Before she even opens her eyes, she
Tries to remember if
Her 10am class today is World History

Or Chem 101.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Overread at Table 4: Things You Can Never Take Back.

They say there are things you can never take back.
Missed opportunities are one of those things.

More than the open hand slap.
More than the harsh word.
More than the overturned table or the broken window.

It is the path not taken.
It is the word never said.
It is the kindness never expressed.
It was the chance to grab the tail end of that shirt

Just before watching it disappear forever
into the endless



Thursday, January 21, 2016

Overheard at Table 1: Interviews are like Dating . . . or Naww.

Lucky Moran: Interviews are a lot like dating.

Otis Redwing: How so?

Lucky Moran: Well, they’re all about getting to know each other.  And if you like each other, it can lead to a relationship.  A relationship where this person gives you a 5 or 6 figure salary, health coverage, possible IRA, maybe stock options.   And dating, you get someone who might make you laugh, might give you sex, maybe both, maybe neither.  So . . .  maybe interviews aren’t really like dating at all!

Otis Redwing: I dunno.  I’ve had interviews where they made me laugh.

Lucky Moran: Oh wow!  I swear I thought you were gonna say you had interviews where they gave you sex.

Otis Redwing: Those too.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Overheard at Table 3: Interview Today

I've got an interview today and even though I'm not seriously looking there is still this pressure and this - I don't know - "gloom" for lack of a better word.


Yeah.  Like there is really no point.  Like I'm not going to get it because I'll be sitting there, trying to answer their questions and they'll be asking me things I can't answer, like "why is there a two month gap between your last employment" and I can't say "because that company canned me because the COO was out to get me from day one" and I can't say "because I screwed up and couldn't do my job right" and I REALLY can't say the truth which was "I shouldn't have been there, my staff hated me, my peers didn't respect me, and I was too stubborn to quit and look for another job, until God finally gave them the power to CAN my butt, so that then I would find the job I have right now, which is pretty decent, it pays the bills, it's a crazy place to work for but they generally seem to like me."  Now that's the truth but you can't tell a prospective employer that, now can you?

No.  Not really.  But it'd be pretty cool if you could.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Scribblings in Booth 3: Unfinished Poem of the Day "Harold Malone and the Weather Machine"

Harold Malone and the Weather Machine

There was a man called Harold Malone
We never knew where he called his home,
But he rolled into town in a Cadillac
And a strange contraption strapped to the back,

He set up shop in the middle of the square,
Put levers and parts together with care,
Within an hour, he was done
And a tall tower standing 8 foot 1

Pointed toward the sky, a weather vane spinning,
And Harold looked at the gathered crowed, grinning
And, arms wide, said, “Come and see!
This great new day for friends and family!

What you see before you will change the way
You plan your nights and start your day
No more will you be unprepared
For all the Mother Nature brings to bear

For you see, this machine can predict the rain!”

Well, none of us could believe our eyes,
A farming community, with such a device,
Could survive, and thrive,
And grow to four times the size!

We were amazed, enchanted, stunned
We knew that our day had come,
We all crowded around Harold Malone,

Thanking him for what he had done ...

I know where I want it to go and frankly I have the last line, which I don't want to add here, because it will just seem so out of place.    This is based loosely on a story I heard once about a man who predicted the weather - a sort of snake-oil salesman.  Needless to say, it didn't go well for him.   Don't know if the story had historical truth or was complete fiction.  This poem is what you might consider a folk-retelling.  However, I know I won't be able to finish today, but since I promised a poem-a-day I'm gonna let Verble publish it here and see if I come back to it at some point before the year is out. 

Knowing how I work, I'll probably come back upon it again in August 2019 and say "Hey I remember I was gonna finish that!" 


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Overheard at Table 2: A Comment from

"Hey check this out, I thought this was so cool.  When I finished this cryptogram today, something from Gertrude Stein about like 'What is the answer?  There ain't no answer, THAT's the answer!' and there's always a comment section and this one from one of the players was so cool, check it out:

Andy451 on 2015-04-20 12:24:57

Here was a writer who refuted the hippie quest to find "the answer" to the meaning of life, and all the large and small riddles of existence, in the roaring twenties with her ex pat friends in Paris, forty years before there were hippies. After the Beatles went to India to seek "the answer" from the Maharishi, hippies everywhere sought out gurus to find the answer to life's persistent questions. Some people used drugs, some went on pilgrimages, some lived on communes, some joined Vista or the Peace Corps, some practiced meditation, or attempted to live closer to nature in order to find "the answer." They went to Yasgur's farm in Woodstock, New York for example. Wittgenstein and Nietzsche would agree with Gertrude Stein, being philosophical boyos who hated rigid and orthodox systems of thinking or feeling. Voltaire would disagree. And his answer? No, it was not to go on a wild goose chase for the Holy Grail like the brave and bold knights of Monty Python. A friend of mine saw Voltaire once at a Whole Foods market in Queens one time. He was hurling pesticide free Gala apples, free range chickens, and locally grown heirloom tomatoes and corn on the cob picked that day at upper management types and ordinary customers. "Plant your own garden!", he yelled at the people in a jaunty French. Of course, it could be that he was just swearing at people, and this platitude is only a polite malapropism for what he really said.

"Now I don't know what all he's really talking about because Stein died just after WW2 and never saw no hippies, but I think he was talking metaphorically, but I love that bit about Voltaire in the grocery store - wasn't there some poem by Ginsberg about talking to Walt Whitman in a grocery store?  I think there was.  I need to Google that."

Overread at Booth 2: Poem of the Day "Too Many Days"


Too many days we have spent
muted by our own shouting.

The colour rises to the cheeks
and the fire in the eyes

desires nothing more
than that quiet silence that we deny

ourselves in these disparate moments:

The gulf between the world which we
And the world which we have designed.

I was thinking about fights between spouses.  Some spouses fight all the time, some a bit more rarely, but I was thinking about those times when I fight with my spouse and it seems like the entire world is crashing down, even though I know in my heart we'll have made peace by the next day, and by the following week we'll have forgotten what the hell it was we were even fighting about.  

But in that moment, it seems as though everything we worked for, or dreamed of what a marriage should be, suddenly belongs to somebody's else's life, not our own.

I tried to capture that feeling.  Hope I got close to it, at least.  I rather like the sonic alliteration that arose in the last few lines as well.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Overread at the Counter: Poem of the Day "Don't Forget the Fries!"

As with most of my poems, it starts one place, ends at another place where I never expected to go, and I can only hope that at one some level it all makes some sort of sense.   Makes sense to me during the writing; sometimes it makes no sense upon re-reading.  Those that still do I can consider a half-way success.

The inundation of images of the beautiful and the wealthy
And the ever-persistent news about their bold indiscretions,
How does that tickly the average brain?

The clerks at the municipal courthouse, taking payments
For tickets and warrants, the cashiers at the local grocery store,
The phone banker trying to keep each call to no more than two minutes
So that they won’t get their pay docked, the Accounts Payable
Clerk at the mid-size concrete company: each one, each


Told that they, too, can have a rock-hard ass at the age of 46,
Abs like each of the 300 Spartans, hair that flows like honey,
skin to airbrushed flawlessness:

This is what we read on breaks, in between customers at the windows,
In between calls, we thumb through these pages, imprinting


While we suck down our fourth Big Gulp Cherry Coke of the day,
Swallow double mouthfuls of Whataburger Chop House Cheddar Burger,

And the fries, ah,

Don’t forget the fries!

About the Poem:
I got the idea for this one from the latest cover of some magazine that showed Jennifer Lopez's back and quite lovely derriere with the caption "How does she still look so amazing at 46?"  My wife and I were standing in line at the grocery store when we saw this, and we agreed that 1) Jennifer Lopez does NOT look as amazing as that cover did, because she's been airbrushed beyond humanity (heck, even the water of the pool looks like an oil painting!), and 2) how does she do it?  Answer: an army of personal trainers, nutritionists, hair stylists, makeup artists, and personal assistants.   Things that nobody, and I mean NO-BODY, outside of this fantasy world will ever have.

When seeing these magazines, I always think of the real women - the working moms - who make up the majority of this country, and personally I think it's damned unfair, almost cruel, to drown them in these images and ask these women to raise children, have careers, try to keep the bills paid, and oh yes, find a time to have the sexy ass that Jennifer Lopez has.

While I do not deny that Jennifer Lopez is extremely beautiful, I find true beauty in real women. Lopez, and every other star like her, are merely figments of our imagination.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Overread at the Counter: Poem of the Day "Building Traditions"

we build traditions through seasonal repetition
of similarities that build upon the framework
of memories, usually from childhood (for childhood
is the fount of all memories, even the unremembered
memories), and this framework is

like the circle of a dreamcatcher, and the traditions
are the webbing between the circle, and the tiny
charms, dangling from the conflux, through which
the morning light shines, and

we awake in some new season to add another dream.


Overheard at Table 3: "Pride"

The 18 year old girl asks her parents for money for her school books,
the day she spends $438 for contact lenses,

Her mom asks, "Did you need contacts?"


"Do you need contact lenses?"



The 18 year old girl does not respond.  Then, she offers only,


"Because why?"

"Because I asked dad for the money for them on Christmas and he didn't get me anything for Christmas."

"He paid $500 to fix your car!  That was your Christmas money!"

The 18 year old girl says, "He would have had to do that anyway."

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Overread at Table 3: Poem of the Day "Bonding"

The brother sits holding game console, shooting
God knows what human/animal/alien/zombie.  Headset microphone,
he speaks to other teenage boys (or men still acting
like teenage boys), while his sister

sits on the bed, laptop open,
watching season 1 of the Flash,

the new kitten, two days after a neutering,
lies stretched out against the pillow, lulled into half-sleep
by the painkillers.

Mom pops her read into the room, asks what they
are doing.

"Bonding," they tell her,
"We're bonding."


Friday, January 8, 2016

Overread at Table 3: Poem of the Day (Morning Walk)

Morning walk, a blanket of fog settled on this
suburban street, punctuated by the occasional streetlamp.

Clumps of leaves, wet and black,
carpet the sidewalk in patchwork paint.

The droplets of the midnight's rain that wriggle through tree branches
Sound like the crackling embers of a dying campfire.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Overread at Table 5: Poem of the Day (another couplet)

This is another couplet, just like yesterday.  Don't really want to seem as though I am "cheating the system" as it were, but writing couplets and calling them "poems"  - this one actually has the image of a running river, through tall jagged mountains, a pale grey sky, 50 foot tall pines trees as the only witnesses to the action in the poem.  The picture of the river in my head is from a river that I saw while driving down from Whistler toward Vancouver in British Columbia.  I think it's called the Squamish River, but I might be wrong.  Still, that titled the poem.

Squamish River Walk

Old man walks into the freezing river.
The quiet death of a faithful son.

Originally I had "frozen" because that indicates the stopping of time.  "Freezing" suggests motion, which I suppose is what I really mean, although I do prefer the sound of "frozen" over "freezing" because "freezing" is also subjective, whereas "frozen" is not.

Lastly, after I wrote it I also realized this was a dig at my writing teachers who always called me "too adjectival."  There's FOUR adjectives in this puppy - almost half the words!  Ha!   And run them through your head in order:  Old, Freezing, Quiet, Faithful.    Taken in sequence, they all describe the man.  

The old man is also a faithful son.  What happens in between is supposed to prove that, but how?  How does killing yourself by walking into a freezing cold river make you faithful?

I suppose we should ask the old man, but he's not talking.  At least not any more.


Overread at the Counter: Poem of the Day (yesterday, again!) (2 lines)

To be honest, these lines were written in a different form by a Tweep of mine, who I mistook for stating something about the current suffering in Sudan.   However, she corrected me to let me know that it actually is a some sort of play on words from a dirty limerick that starts "There once was a man from Khartoum."  I don't know that limerick, but the lines stayed with me and I put them into this form, hoping that everyone will read them and think of me as a genius on the same level as Ezra Pound.

Who knows who is doing what and to whom,

Behind the scenes these days in Khartoum.


Overheard at Booth 4: Cubicle Coughing

"... the guy in the cubicle next to me, he's so stupid, because he's sitting there, coughing and hacking and sneezing all day long, and I'm like, 'well duh! you brought all those boxes from storage, don't you know what kind of dust is in all that paper?' Now I've got to deal with him hacking up a lung all day long!"

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Overheard at Table 2: The Doctor’s Advice

Two women sitting at a table.

One woman is talking, “… and so after they’ve got me all prepped for the operation, right before they put the sedative in the IV to knock me out and roll me in there, the doctor is going over the post-op instructions again, and then she just pops out, ‘and no intercourse for two weeks’

“and I look over at my husband and I swear to God that man has a look in his eyes that is saying, ‘The doctor is saying my WIFE can’t have intercourse for two weeks!’

“I so wanted to punch him in the sack.  But there was the doctor and these prep nurses all around me.”

The woman’s friend tells her, “You should have said something.  One of them would’ve probably punched him in the sack for you.”

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Overread at Booth 3: Poem of the Day "Arboretum of Plastic Leaves"

Arboretum of Plastic Leaves

It is not enough
to imagine a garden, or an
arboretum. Some place with
plants with leaves so thick and
solid that they appear almost to be made
of plastic, and glistening with a luster as
to almost appear as though they had been
painted, and covered with a protective coat.

Leaves such as these, should surely
Shade us, as we walk through the garden,
Hand in hand, pretending ourselves to be
Ken and Barbie,

Or at least,
Adam and Eve.



Monday, January 4, 2016

Overread at Table 3: Poem of the Day "About Poets and Poetry"

About Poets and Poetry

Everyone writes odes to the dawn,
Passionate sonnets to Love,
Haiku that speak of silence,

But no one, it seems, through all these drippings,
Has written a poem about toenail clippings.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Overread at Table 1: Poem of the Day "Midnight Chirping"

You awake near midnight from a dream in which you are writing a poem
about the crumbling cement walls and dirt roads of Assad's Syria,
and you realize that the smoke detector is chirping.

Maybe it was just the one time.

Nope.  There it goes again.

Your wife is breathing silently beside you.
The dogs shift their weight in their cages.
Mercifully, the cats are still sleeping.

There goes the beep again.
You know you will not be able to sleep until you find it.

Unfortunately, the night is dark, and the
house is spacious, an open layout, from the
second floor you can see the entire living room, and the

This makes for an open, breezy feel, makes the house
seem larger than it actually is.


When the batteries start to die in the smoke detectors,
the echo makes the offender impossible to find.

Especially in the dark.
Especially when you have been awoken from a

Still, you find your way to the office closet,
pull out the stepladder, and begin to walk around
the second floor, to each detector, pressing your ear
as close as you can, awaiting the next chirp.

They do not come in regular intervals.
Sometimes it takes so long you think that you might have
dreamed it.

Then, there it is again.
Not from the one next to your ear.

Finally, you find it, the one outside the bathroom
in between the kids' rooms.
You slide open the hatch, pop out the 9-volt,
push the new one in.  Then, you



Thank God.

You go back down the stairs, put the
stepladder back into the closet of the office,
and go back to bed.

You try to sleep.
You think of different poems.

You think of this poem.

Then, another chirp.  This time, it is 3am.

Another smoke detector is testing your gratitude to God.


Overread at the Counter: Poem of the Day (again, Yesterday)

I was having a dream at about 11:30pm or so last night, I know only because I kept coming in and out of sleep and seeing the clock and remembering 11:34 or 11:43 or something around that time, and the images in my head were of boots slowly walking over crumbled stones of cement houses that had been bombed to rubble and the title of the poem was "Assad" or "Assad's Syria" and the lines were

Feet stumble across the rubble of broken stones.
Lungs filled with acrid cement dust.

... and I was thinking of a man, or a woman, or children, and I was remembering how, when the towers fell on 9-11, that all the people who were in the vicinity at the moment that they crashed to the ground were all covered in cement dust, and then I was thinking about how, ten years later, everyone was dying of lung poisoning, because all their lungs were filled with the particulates, and so I'm wondering if, in five to ten years from now, will the Syrian refugees also start dying of the cement dust that rips apart their lungs from the inside, and I was thinking what is all this for?   What, after all, is the point?


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Overread at the Counter: Poem of the Day (yesterday) Prompt #57

Prompt #57 was simply titled "Reminiscent Dawn" but the challenge was to write a micropoem without the term "reminiscent dawn"  - Frankly I had to look up "reminiscent" to get a true sense of the definition of the word, because it seemed to me to be more of a "tone" rather than a true phrase.  But, armed with the renewed knowledge that reminiscent is that "thing" that makes you remember something, and in this case the thing is the dawn, well, that was when the micropoem came to my head.  The streak of purple is, of course, the dawn.

The purple stroke Above the treeline in the backyard, And the cooling coffee, Whispered of her Breakfasts in bed.

And I was left with this - are the breakfasts in bed what the narrator took to her, or are they what she brought to the narrator?  To be honest, I do not know.  It could perhaps work either way.


Overheard at Table 3: Playing Hard-to-Get in the Modern Dating Age

"I've been dating this girl for a couple of months now and she's really cool and I like that she's kinda wild, but the other day I just had to tell her, 'Listen, I am NOT going to send you a picture of my penis, because if you like it, you better put a ring on it ...

"'on my finger that is, not . . . well,'

"God, dating is tough these days."