Monday, April 30, 2007

Reposted from "Precipii"

Riding the Concrete Iceway

On a beast of steel
I ride. I ride.
On her cold, black back
I'm tried, (I'm tried).

Stetched out there before me,
lay the long, white line
I ride her bumpity bump
I ride, I ride.

My thougths turn to tragedy,
How easy it would be.
How easy, how easy.
One drunk, crossed line, and I'm greasy.

So I throttle on down,
slip another gear
and I ride. I ride.
Think about a tall black beer.

How the meds make me thirst,
how the pain subsides.
I ride. I ride.
Pain's all gone, soul's all that's tried.

Whippin' traffic,
in and out.
How fried, how fried.
Girl on a cell phone, talkin' to the sky.

LIke great, white sands
or a white, icey Tundra,
she lays there before me
on her slick surface, ain't no umbra.

So with taita, ta, taita, taita, ta taita
I ride
And the highway hums
And soft, leather hide beneath me, she glides.

She glides.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Your world is good

Looking out tonight I saw
adorned by setting April sun
a willow tree of incandescent
emeralds, their time begun
and framed within my bedroom window
panoply of quickened green.
So now I confess, dear Lord
your world is good, my thoughts but mean

Thursday, April 26, 2007

What's important

In the past several years, more than once (which makes it a trend, I suppose), people have said to me "you need to concentrate on what's important".

I've pondered long on this.

They always seem to intimate that it has to do with my health (something that is God-ordained)...

My health.

Gee wiz!

It ain't never been that great.

So then, I thought about my family.

Yeah, they're important.

From a distance.

We are kinda fractured that way.

So then, I thought, "what's important to me?".

Well, it's easy really, when you think about it.

I've never left here.

I like here, where it is, and I like being here.

You see, here, is where God planted me.

And I like it here.

Oh, I've traveled.

I went down past Greenback, one time (a long time ago).

Caught some fish.

But I like it here.

Here is where my heart is.

Here, is where my mountains are. And, I like it "up ere".

So I like it here (and thar).

And it is what is important to me.'s where God put me. And's where I belong.

So yeah. Sometimes...I think about what's important to me.

And here..."here" is where THAT is (that which is important, to me).

And here, is where it always will be.

All that stuff, that's important, to me.

The Whirlwind Cometh

As I sat tonight, upon wrought-iron, rocking throne, I sipped my beer from a vessel tall, and calmed my dog on the coming storm.

Weird night it was, and pleasent somehow.

Wild winds blew, (and from that place, I do not like).

So many nights I have lived in this wild. I've come to know the passing storms, as friends.

But in this sky, windy, bright...brilliant blue...upon high there lay a cloud so long, fathoming couldn't measure it there, no imagining could guess at its brilliant volume.

"A poet would."

But no poet to be found.

I thought to myself, "here is a vapor, cloud so high; and in its belly a darkenss that is the shadow of its own self. Vaporous moisture, this cloud on high, and its very substance defined by a shadow of its own self. Billowy white, yet full of water, and casting dark, upon dark itself".

But the beauty here, was in that sky. For across a full five times its length, a shadow even greater was cast against? Blue sky!

Shadow upon shadow, dark against space - willowy whisp upon whisp...and a mighty wind their so forceful on the face.

God moves in these elements.

How like them He is.

He can cast shadows against blue sky and dark. He can make forboding shadow of vaporous nothing...nothing, yet so substantial to the soul, and like the cloud (vapor itself).

While I can not touch Him, I know He is there.

An engima bound in a shadow against a shadow, in a whisp, a mighty wind is born, and substance istself is removed from its path, and by muscle not of this earth born.

S.O.G.: Deux de pas

The sandaled one brustled about the dank cavern. Grey dust was thick in the air, and above his cavernous ruin its clouds danced on the bright beams of a sun, reflected from that dead, dusty moon, far, far above.

Bright white light was at the entry-way bathing its rocky welcome mat, and the clouds of dust rose like shadows in the night, transparent in luminosity, yet illuminous still in such a dark and dusty place to eyes so long veiled in the darkness of a this, their home; their cave buried deep in this field of battle.

All about was activity.

The wearer's of veil were forbidden from this place, for their mouths knew no discretion. And discretion was key in these times.

"This warrior is a fool. Tonight we wait, as many moons have come and gone, and still...we wait. The enemy is mighty, but he is a fool. He does not recognize that there are those in the world who will be patient. Who will await their turn. It is God's way!," said the tall one "he has waited many years for his justice to be served, and eternity is but a fastidious dream in short afternoon nap for our Father above."

His friend there with him listened as always, attentively. They'd been together since the early wars...where there was fast victory, and a victory that was assured against the red star.

It had not been the case for a number of years. There was this incessant, numbing wait. Waiting for opportunity that seemed never to present itself. Waiting for a break of daylight.

"You are right, wise one. We must wait for the time...and I feel it is near, when our enemy will break of daylight, granted by God, and we will strike! Like an eel captures its prey from ocean depth, we will rise from this cavern and strike! Praise God. Victory will be ours!".

With that phrase, the dust rose higher as there was a frenzy of enlivened activity. Troops all about them stamped in the dust and in muffled cry they rose, weapons in air, and cursed this enemy who had driven them to this sub-earth hell.

In a place far from this sub-terranian hell-hole, the peacock strutted his usual strut again. Arists of the "make" "up", were making him up, royally. His greyish, putty look that would ordinarily drive even the leper away was now replaced with the bright colors usually reserved for the women-folk when they'd dress for finding a mate, or for impressing one another.

"Tonight, I hit the airwaves. Tonight, I make the speech that will unite my people. Together, we will bring our nation back to its senses. Away. Away from this maddening war envisioned by childish fools! So much in this world needs attention. Like the spoiled child, our enemy beckons...screams really, in tantrum. As my wise, old pap (and, esteemed predecessor) used to say 'give the child attention, and fuel the tantrum; ignore him, and choke its embers' father was such a wise man. He knew his stuff; and tonight, I will make him very proud", this former man of Congress remembered his glory days for a moment, went it was he in the spotlight...when family dynasty was a very real thing. Men close to the great one, that President who'd brought them through such tough and evil times.

He'd had enough of the makeup artists (for they were a bit too close to home), and he rose from his chair like a sinking giant, ready to return to former trimph.

"Mr. VP, do not go on that stage," shouted his monkey-handler "your collar, it still has tissue all about. Here, let me fix it for you!", Tina had always taken care of the aging and bloated politician, as if he were her very own hubby (and, in many ways, he was - for she had no life outside the political ring) "here, let me take care of those before you get powder-cake on your lovely, white color."

He looked at her, adoringly. "I'll see you at our Bible study sister. Now wish me luck. I'm giving our populace the very gates of hell".

And like the muddled peacock-soldier he was, the dodering, old politician rose to a stage set by other's practicing the craft of the liberal guild.

Tonight was truly a defining moment for the beaten giant.

Tongiht he would speak to that enemy in the cave.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

PM 8: Decision

Am I a man anymore? Am I human? Or am I something else entirely? I am not sure. So much has happened.

I’m sorry. Again, I am hesitating to just stay with the events. I promise you, if you humor me this one last time, that I will not be reflective again. This is the last time I stop the steady progression of my story as it ticks away, moment by moment, to this very point. But I don’t know what I did, and in some way this exercise of relating all these events is just some attempt on my part to finally see myself. Everything changes in a moment. After years of following a long, winding, branchless road, I found myself at the intersection of my life, ironically to be decided by the choice of a green or a red button.

I walked to the couch and upon sitting down, the first (and of course most sensible) thought that occurred to me was “I would have to be crazy to take it.” There was no mention of pay. Most likely it was a sales-type telemarketing job or (to contrast dull with sinister) it could be some mob-related business. The note had a lot of words, but really didn’t say anything. It didn’t even say whether the job was downtown or on the moon. It just seemed like a stupid thing to do. It was a simple choice of risk with no real expectation of reward, or safety… with no real expectation of ever really achieving anything.

There was something to be said for taking a risk. The prospects of staying in this current situation were pathetic at best. Could I really continue to face a slurping Mr. Daniels five days a week for thirty or forty years and then retire? And what would I do then? What had I really built for myself? And what if I pressed the green button? I wasn’t signing anything. If I didn’t like it I could quit. Really, where was the harm in pressing the button? The blitbox must just be some kind of pager. I could just say I wanted to ask him some questions. If it was mob-related I could go informant. Nowadays the mob didn’t seem as dangerous as they had been. But the thought of the mob and bombs under my car and kneecaps blown off frightened me.

Then all my thoughts became jumbled up together. After struggling towards no conclusion, I decided to sleep on it. Distraction did not seem the appropriate action, however. I went back to the study and did a search on Bud Holligan but found nothing. Holligan was not a particularly common name, but it was far from unique. It must be a derivative of the Scottish name Holigan.
A search for EARA was more fruitful, but of the organizations bearing that title, none made much sense: Eastern Airlines Retirees Association, Egypt Amateurs Radio Assembly, Environmental Auditors Registration Association, Equipment Authorization Review Activity, European Asbestos Removal Association, European Association for Research on Adolescence, European Association for Research in Astronomy

I quickly grew tired of this, though it did allow me to distance myself from the actual reality of the crisis I faced. I went back to the sofa and turned on the TV. Watching until late, I finally was tired enough to try my hand at sleep. It was a restless night, filled with half-thoughts among a murky cloud of possibilities. One moment I was trying to convince myself to take the job, then at the first sign of inclination, I argued instead that it would be the worst mistake possible. Yet no matter how often the rational argument won out, the inner desperation crept out.

I was awake as dawn began to break, and I looked out of my bedroom window to see a sick-strange green sky, like I imagine the deadly sky of an approaching hurricane at sea might look then headed towards the bathroom and then the kitchen. I looked at the blitbox innocuously resting on the counter. It almost seemed alive to me. I was in my pajamas. I went to back to my room and put on some sweatpants and a tee-shirt.

Back in the kitchen, I was again looking at the blitbox. I picked it up. It fit well in the hand. The buttons were perfectly placed so that the thumb rested right between them. I thumbed the two large buttons. I shook the object vigorously. It seemed light and hollow. My thumb went from button to button. Feeling strangely calm I walked back into the living area, stood in front of the poster and the sofa, and I pressed the green button with my thumb.

At that moment I was only thinking of one thing. I needed to ask Bud some more questions. This situation was to strange. If I did not press the button this would always remain a mystery to me. The button did not yield immediately. I really had to push hard to depress the button. Then it sunk in with a click and I felt a sting. I dropped the box and lifted my thumb to my mouth. Before I had managed to open my mouth I had collapsed to the floor completely unconscious.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Perpetual Season: 1, Smoking Cigarettes

You have to work hard to smoke three packs of cigarettes a day. Chain smoking is an art, one that I learned in college. I’m way past my form. I can do maybe three packs on a good day. Most of the time it’s just two. Of course, my style is cramped by the various laws that have come around since college. I remember the days when you could go just about anywhere but movies and elevators, and smoke to your heart’s content.

I’m lucky in my job. In fact, from what I understand, my “charism” seems to be finding easy jobs without trying. This was by far my easiest job yet. I had been appointed by the Sheriff, who was all-powerful and unquestioned. He didn’t really care about the work I was supposed to be doing. I wasn’t supposed to really achieve anything. But it had to look like I was trying, so there was a sort of tacit understanding that I would spend a lot of money. I was a sort of lightning rod – I was well-paid to take a lot of heat from the people I was supposed to be serving. I didn’t mind. That’s not the sort of thing that gets to me.

My official title was “Deputy for Cultural Relations.” That was my first task on the job. “Think up your title,” Sheriff Birmingham told me, and boy did he laugh when I came up with the old “D.C.R.” “That’ll get ‘em!” he said, and he was right. They shuffled me off to every committee meeting and community action group that was known to the Knoxville Sheriff’s Office. And believe me, there were a lot of them. There was some sort of Citizen’s Review Board that met to second-guess the actions of the deputies. I was the sacrificial lamb offered up to the Board, and they ate me at every meeting and never seemed to marvel that I was served up again at the next. I was a perpetual feast. I was snubbed by City Councilmen at every summer picnic in South Knoxville, sneered at during obligatory calls at the Middle Schools, mocked, insulted, and generally despised.

But those, of course, were the people I was supposed to be serving. The people I really served were within the Sheriff’s Office, and if they didn’t exactly love me (having seen the extravagances of my office and expense account), they got it pretty quick. They knew that I was there to take heat off of them, and that it was working. So I got to pal around with the deputies, drive a cop car, and take advantage of those little amenities that make police life bearable. All without actually being a cop.

There were (and are) a whole mess of people like me in police departments across the country. From the guy who takes fingerprints and mugshots to the various secretaries and assistants, there’s a whole world of proxy-cops who don’t have to do the real dirty work but get to play policeman in their spare time.

I was a little different in that I was sworn in. There was some sort of mumbo-jumbo about my lack of police training and education, and I had to attend various courses at the local academy, qualify on the firing range, and sit through interminable downloads of relevant law. Frankly, most of the crap I had to swallow was directly applicable to my job as keeper of the peace for the keepers of the peace. In the end, I was appointed because Sheriff Birmingham wanted me appointed.

So there I was in my office in the City-County building. A nice big office overlooking the muddy expanse of the Tennessee River, right where it narrows and constricts to plod its way through downtown. The only thing I hated about my office were the ancient tilt-out windows; if you were trying to be polite, you had to lean down to blow smoke up and out of the window. In theory, the whole building was non-smoking, but like most laws and regulations, it was really intended as an excuse to punish the poor slobs waiting in the lobby for their lawyers.

I would have vastly preferred an office back at the Sheriff’s Detention Facility, where most of the fun guys were. Instead of the morning hassle, parking garage, and views of nondescript brick boxes, you had a great complex of beautiful suites overlooking a golf course, a nice country drive, and a great cafeteria.

As I’ve said, I have a knack for finding good jobs, particularly jobs that I am in no way qualified for. The DCR job was the pinnacle of my lucky streak. I had been recruited in by the Sheriff, directly from my job as Director of Human Resources for Harvey’s Meats, a fairly big local food distributor with close ties to the mayor’s office. I frankly was nearing the end of my rope in that job. There was an ever-increasing pressure from various federal and state regulations which meant that most of my time was spent shuffling between conferences and seminars, and leading committee meetings on determining costs and risk of noncompliance. I had been in that job about a year, and there were pretty good odds that I would have been canned for one reason or another, so the opportunity to jump ship was a welcome one.

Way, way back in my past I had gotten my degrees in history and philosophy from the University of Tennessee, a feat I had accomplished after only eight years as an undergraduate. My lucky streak started when, to my eternal amazement, I got a job, entirely thanks to a former roommate whose father ran a data-analysis contract firm that supported the NSA. Neil Bryce (aforementioned roommate) was trying to turn me into a Mormon, and I drifted along through his evangelism and into the job. I can’t remember now if he finally figured that I wasn’t worth converting, or if I chucked the whole thing, but in any case I got a flashy company name on my resumé, and one which immediately broke me out of the stigma of a liberal arts major.

Bryce Data Services gave way to Cesar Co., an industrial food services company, and then a stint at Marriott Hotels, the doomed Whittle Communications, Baptist Hospital (where I milked a customer relations job while completing my on-line MBA), a brief run at Oak Ridge National Labs (my NSA ties helped me land that one), and finally on to Harvey’s Meats. All in all, six jobs, sixteen years of work, and exactly zero accomplishments except an ever increasing paycheck, a huge network of golf buddies, and a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit.

Which I was able to indulge pretty easily as the Deputy for Cultural Relations.

So I was sitting at my desk, gazing out the window and lighting a cigarette when my cell phone rang.

“Deputy George,” I said, tapping the earbud to answer the call

“Tom, you’ve got to check this shit out!”

It was Mark Franciscan, a real deputy, but one in Roane County. I had known Mark since my days at Oak Ridge, but now that I was a cop too (or so he claimed), he found more time to hang out with me.

“What’s going on, Mark?”

“You remember the sportsman’s club out here?”

I did. The Oak Ridge Sportsman’s Club was a huge gun range located on federal property near the Y-12 National Security Complex. Mark and I had shot skeet there quite a bit.


“Well, get in your car and get out here. And you might try listening to the scanner. It’s a madhouse! You’ve gotta see this shit. A total clusterfuck!”

“OK. Where are you at exactly.”

“Just follow the flashing lights. You’ll figure it out. Bring your badge.”


I tapped the earbud and hung up, amused. Snuffing out my cigarette, I walked down the hall to the reception station where Heather Kirby sat at a circular desk amidst well ordered stacks of paper. Heather had been one of the pleasures of the job, filling out her uniform in a very agreeable way and flirting in a clinical, almost obligatory manner that made up for the unfortunate prominence of her cheekbones. But she had gotten married and cut both her long hair and her flirting. I confronted the cheekbones.

“Something going on in Oak Ridge?”

“You haven’t heard? Everyone’s heard. You haven’t heard?’

“No, I haven’t heard. What’s up?”

“Shots fired, a house on fire, automatic weapons, maybe a hostage situation. Roane County and Oak Ridge PD are there. Oak Ridge security too. I think TBI is on the way.”

“OK – I’ll get more on the radio. I’m headed over there.”

“Why are you going?” Heather was one of the few who seemed to have caught on to my uselessness, and now that the cheekbones were in charge, she was more acidic than playful about it. I couldn’t resist a little lie.

“I got called in.”

As usual, it was better to listen to the local news than to the scanner.

“blah blah blah blah first on the scene blah blah blah exclusive report blah blah blah journalist blah blah blah…

Or maybe not.

A Perpetual Season: Prologue

In light of all that has occurred, I find a great deal of interest in the old Manichees. Sure, Augustine railed against them, but they were on to something, they just got it backward. You see, there are people like me who can only take their religion in a cold, impersonal way. Even the Pharisees were passionate, despite their rigor. But it seems like my type is exiled. Paul warned us in Corinthians, but it's one thing to be warned, and quite another to comply. Many are called, few are chosen. That sort of thing. The Manichees' chosen ones could not prepare their own food. They were too good for it. It was a sin. So the lesser adherants got stuck with the job of feeding the bastards. But I think it's kind of the same, but, as I say, backwards. For the Church needs people like me - the cold, Manicheean bastards who just don't get it. Only we're the ones who have to serve, and we're the ones who aren't among the chosen. Is there second-hand salvation?

An unusual place to jump in, perhaps, but frankly I don't really know where to start. A year ago I wasn't even a neo-Manichee, so I suppose I've made some sort of progress. But then, in a sense, I'm an imperfect tool, so I can't even claim the progress as my own. I suppose it's just enough grace to get me to where I have to do what I have to do, but not enough grace to save me.

I suppose all I am doing right now is delaying that... duty? For even at this moment I am of two minds about the proper course of action. And another strange thing is that those two courses of action are completely opposite of what I would have thought them to be, in their implications. If I'm right about all of this. And I doubt that I am. But I am.

So I can sit here waffling, smoking cigarettes and chewing my fingernails. Or I can just do what I have to do. Or I can keep typing and hope that by trying to relate the whole thing, I can make sense of it.

Peter McLeinn

I demand another Peter McLeinn story right now! I want my fix!

Monday, April 23, 2007

PM 7: The Results

Bud asked me if he could use my study for a moment. I did not trust him.

"Why do you need the study?"

"I just need a place where I can look over the results we have compiled and match it with positions within EARA. It will only take a moment, but I need privacy." I directed him towards the bathroom. What harm could he do there?

I was relieved that this strange ordeal was coming to an end, but also curious about what the results would be. The test was unusual, but the abrupt way it ended seemed to suggest I wasn't the candidate they were looking for. I wondered whether it was because I had suggested attacking the pyschotic professor. Yet, it did make the most sense. The professor was certainly the greater danger to society and killing him would have had more positive results than simply not killing the philanthropist. Who knows how many times the professor would conduct the same experiment in order to achieve a statistically significant sample?

Bud closed the bathroom door. I could only imagine him sitting down on the toilet and consulting his little black computer. I went back into the kitchen, curious about the damage he had caused to my refrigerator. Beside the pickels, olives, and mayonaise, he had somehow also consumed three beers and a small bag of pepperoni.

This seeming trivial fact suddenly brought fully into my consciousness the peculiarity of the situation. My animal insticnts of self-preservation, dulled from years of fantasy role playing games, came alive all at once. A cold chill ran all over me and I realized that Lucifer or some other angel of darkness was at this very minute in my bathroom, plotting how to steal my soul. I may have been agnostic concerning God, but at that moment I believed with total conviction in the Devil.

Peeping over the kitchen bar where the hallway and the bathroom were clearly visible, I waited with an ever mounting fear for that six-panel off-white door to open and for Bud Holligan to step out with horns and a tail. But nothing happened. I looked at the clock on the microwave. I waited for five minutes to pass by. Still nothing. I was sweating. Then a very funny sensation come over me at all at once, the kind of feeling only the Germans or French have a name for, a feeling as if I were not really standing in my kitchen, but in some other place watching through a camera and I found myself walking towards the bathroom. I watched my hand reach out and touch the doorknob. I swung the door open abruptly only to find the bathroom completely empty.

The sudden disapearance brought back with a keener edge the fear that had seized every nerve in my body. My eyes widened and I stepped backward into the hall and into the living area, tripping over the coffee table and landing with a series of dull thuds, half on and half off the low table. I climbed back to my feet. Immediately I ran down the hall, looking in the closets and then in my bedroom and laundry room for this ghost.

Returning to the study and kitchen I continued my search. Looking in the pantry another thought seized me. Had it been my imagination? Was I insane? No, it was not possible. There on the counter were the remnants of Bud's presence. There was something else as well. A small black object with two large buttons, one red and one green. There was also a note. I looked at the object with suspicion, then I picked up the note and read:

Congratulations, Peter, you scored perfectly on the exam, and as such you are officially offered a position with EARA. Whatever you do, don’t press any of the buttons on the blitbox until you’ve finished reading this note and taken time to thoroughly think about the position. We only can employ serious candidates.

First, you probably want to know something about the position you will be embarking on. We are looking for class-1 operatives. What is a class-1 operative? Our personnel guide describes class-1 operatives as “self-motivated, action-oriented people who can lead a team of similarly motivated people into risk-enhanced situations where they are empowered to make decisions under marginal time circumstances.” To me though, being class-1 is all about team, loyalty, and cooperation… and it’s also about having fun. The typical class-1 operative spends only about 8% of his time on the job, the rest is your-time to relax and enjoy the many benefits of working for EARA.

The class-1 operative position offers you the opportunity to travel to exotic places, to meet exciting people and fascinating cultures, and to learn skills that you will use the rest of your life. And, oh boy, will you have stories to tell the grandkids! EARA takes good care of its employees. You’ll never have to worry about healthcare, dental insurance, transportation, or even laundry again! We ask only that you give us your all on a consistent basis, that you show the kind of enthusiasm that we know you’ve got in you, and that you be the leader you were meant to be.

You’ve already shown you have the mind for the work, now we want to know if you have the motivation to join our team. It’s a tough job, certainly not for coffee-sucking, pencil-chewing, desk-types. And it can get hectic. But our own internal research has shown that people who take this position have a 43.4% higher happiness index after five years than those who wuss out.

Congrats! Your Bud,

Bud Holligan, RFF

P.S.: Peter, I just wanted you to know that the blitbox will only stay active for 24 hours. Please make sure that you have made your decision by then. To accept the position, hit the green button. To decline, press the red button. Its that simple.


They're doing great work over at the Cognitive Artists' new blog. Check it out at the link at the top right of this page. Very impressive!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Saints of the Godless

He paraded about like a Peacock.

Instead of feathers of such bright, Peacock color, here this man was rather bland.

With skin that looked like day-old putty, and the countenance to go with it, he did not seem the classical image of a Saint.

Yet, where this concept of secular cannonization is concerned, the Saint owes the marks in the book of Sainthood to the causes he represents.

Too often drunk (or drunk with that natural "high" that only hippies can grasp), his complexion was no doubt a reflection on the lifestyle he had led.

His cause was of the usual sort (for "they" had a cause for everything).

When he ran down the list of things to be "for", he had a real challenge in personalizing one for such a strutting example of bird, even where all bloated-breasted birds are concerned.

There were the people for the animals, and those dedicated to freeing Mandela. There were those who wish to clothe the naked (including naked animals), and those who wanted a Global Village. There was Greenpeace and its attempt to install a global air-conditioning system; or the Weathermen, who wanted to change the path of the wind.

Some men harness the winds, while the child curses its path and wishes to change it; turn it on and off for kite flying and other such life "events".

Such is the way of the spoiled children.

Their way, is a way of tantrum; and of parents who too easily give in.

And you could see it in his the other's who'd already attained Sainthood.

There was Abbe Hoffman, and Angela Davis. There were the Symbonese Liberation Army and the Chicago Seven.

Lest we never forget that paragon of Saints who went simply by "X".

Those latest seekers of this esteemed accord seem to focus so much on saving the planet.

"Global warming will kill us all. And you wish to fight your silly wars against terror. Really!"

But global warming was taken, and frankly, not a good cause for a Peacock.

So he strutted, with feather, like the fronds of a fern, glistening in the wind.

"My cause will come to me, just as my people. I will be their King, and over this cause, we will reign, supreme.".

And so he spent his days, strutting, glistening and waiting for his cause to come to him; his robes, and his place in the liberal hall of glory would be assured just as his cause becomes that of the ephemeral "celeb".

And in the wings, he paced, this white robed "Saint" of an order not unlike the Peacock; his feet were dusty, and the tired, worn leather of sandal cut deep...but his cause was not one for a communal salvation. For him, salvation rested solely in a God already fat from the spilled blood of war.

"My day is upon me," thought the tall, lanky, bearded one.

"My day is here."

Friday, April 20, 2007

Nikki Giovanni Control Now!


Almost unnoticed in the horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech was the presence of Nikki Giovanni, the decrepit leftist radical poet. She might have remained entirely unnoticed, were it not for two details. First was her reading of a poem at a memorial service for the victims of the tragedy. Her poem was a meandering screed, seeking to lessen the pain of the Hokies by making little jabs at the war in Iraq and US immigration policy.

The second detail was that the mass murderer, Cho Seung-hui, was a student of Giovanni's. In fact, Giovanni praised his poetry, saying "It was not bad poetry. It was intimidating." This, in Giovanni-speak, is high praise indeed.

Before we are subjected to the inevitible infusion of anti-gun mania in the debate surrounding "how could this have been stopped," it is worth looking at some statistics:

Number of Firearms in the US: 235,000,000
Number of Firearm homicides in the US (2004): 10,650.42
Firearm Homicides per Firearm Population: 0.0045%

Number of Nikki Giovanni Students: 100
Number of homicides commited by Nikki Giovanni Students: 32
Homicides per Nikki Giovanni Student Population: 32%

The Number of Nikki Giovanni Students cited above refers to an estimate of her students in one academic year. Since Seung-hui was not a current student of Giovanni's, a more generous estimate would be to allow Mizz Giovanni a total of 100 students per year for her 20 years at Virginia Tech. In such an analysis:

Number of Nikki Giovanni Students: 2000
Number of homicides commited by Nikki Giovanni Students: 32
Homicides per Nikki Giovanni Student Population: 1.6%

Note that this second analysis, while more generous to Mizz Giovanni, does not take into account other homicides by Giovanni students, and thus is a likely underestimate.

The results are clear. Even with the more generous student count afforded to Mizz Giovanni, you are 355 times more likely to be killed by a Giovanni student than you are by a firearm wielded by a non-Giovanni student. It's time to stop the madness and practice Nikki Giovanni control. This would consist of the following measures:

1. Immediate ban on having Nikki Giovanni on any campus, except in the physical control of law enforcement personnel.
2. Registration with a government agency of anyone who expresses interest in Giovanni as a teacher, poet, or activist
3. Background checks must be performed before any sale of a Giovanni product
4. "Giovanni Locks" - devices that can be affixed to Nikki Giovanni to keep her from accidental instruction
5. "Giovanni-free zones", set up in each city, preventing the entry of Nikki Giovanni into public places
6. Limited Capacity Giovanni: Nikki Giovanni would only be allowed to hold five words at a time.
7. Strict Regulation of poetry exhibitions or swap-meets in which Giovanni's works might be traded without being reported
8. Put an immediate stop to Giovanni traffiking on the internet

If the above measures are taken quickly, we can all rest easier.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

PM 6: The Third Question

Bud abruptly turned his back to me and headed back to the kitchen.

"That's it?" I asked incredulously, tailing after him.

"There are more questions friend, but we're done with question 2." his head was back in my refrigerator.

"No, I mean, the point of all those questions was to see when I would get sick of answering questions? This is really a stupid test. What kind of company is this?"

He reappeared with a jar of pickles. The lid was off. His beard was wet with vinegar and his face had a pained look about it.

"Did you just drink that?"

"No," he said, but by the way his mouth was stretched out and his eyes tearing up I could tell he had. He fished out a couple gerkins and ate those.

"It doesn't look like they feed you well."

He apparently found this an amusing remark and his strained expression metamorphed into a tight grin.

"They feed me quite well," he said. "But, honestly, it is rather bland. I miss strong flavors. Moving on to question 3. This is an ethical question. You may have heard something like it before. It is imperative that you are completely honest."

He left the kitchen and sat down on my sofa with the jar of pickels. He put his feet up on the little coffee table. I noticed again his strange shoes. It was almost possible to make out the outline of the individual toes almost as if they were sprayed onto his feet. A he put up his legs I could see that, in fact his pants had no hem, merely a single fold. The shoe became a sock and the sock folded over, became loose and formed the bottom of his pants.

"Surreal" I thought to myself as my gaze left Bud and followed a vartical path up the wall behind him. Hanging above my couch was a poster of Salvador Dali's The Temptation of St. Anthony. When I was in college I had purchased it in the campus bookstore as something to put on the wall. It was something cool, kind of "psychedelic," kind of intellectual. It hung it over my futon where I slept. When I would come home from drinking bouts I would flatten out the futon, put my feet against the poster and stare at it. The long spider like legs of the elephants caught my attention. They were made longer and spindlier by the near sharp angle of my observation. The nude woman in the chalice, the torso through the window.

I grew sick of it, but I brought it with me to New York and had it framed and hung it over the sofa. As I drifted towards isolation and boredom, it had faded into the background. Long ago I had given up looking at it. But that day I looked at it again for the first time. It was the only remnant of my college days left. This time it was the horse that caught my attention - I can't imagine why this had not occured to me before, but the horse's shoes were on backward. What possible reason could there be for this?

"Imagine a mad college professor who happens to be a doctor of social-ethics. Unlike the theoreticians who litter his field, this doctor has decided to perform an experiment on a real subject. So, he snuck into one of the physics labs and acquired a sizeable amount of Polonium."

"This is rather a distasteful question."

"He also kidnapped you, not to poison you with polonium, but because you are the subject of his experiment. His experiment is simple - you have a choice. Either he will poison a member of your family or a complete stranger. "

"This is sick. I won't answer this question."

"No, its not a sick question. There is no Polonium, this is all just hypothetical."

"Hypothetical or not, I do not think I want to work for any company that asks questions like this."

Bud looked at me with a rather sour expression on his face. "That may be true... or it may not be true." Then he smiled with his mouth, his eyes stayed hard. "Look, this is just hypothetical. It tells us something about you. Not who exactly you are, because, after all, if you were in such a situation there is no knowing how you would actually act. This is a question about how you think you should act. Please relax. Answer the question."

"It's meaningless for me anyway. I don't have any family."

He noted something down on his Blackberry. "Well then, a friend or someone you care about."

"I've lost touch with most of them."

Again, he made a note. "Well, then how about this. Your options are, a great philanthropist someone who does a great deal of work with the poor or some complete stranger."

"How do I know the stranger isn't a philanthropist too?"

"The stranger is someone completely insignificant. You have a choice between the life of a great worker of miracles and some ordinary schmuck. Who do you choose."

"I don't think I would choose. I would refuse to choose."

He was ready for this. "If you refuse to choose he would kill them both."

I thought for a moment. "Still I would refuse."

"And kill both of them?"

"It wouldn't be me who was killing them."

"But by your choice, you'd let them both die."

"I think there is a difference. I'm not actively willing someone to die, I am just not participating in this pscyhotic professors experiment. What I would do instead is try and kill the ethics professor."

He seemed stunned at this idea and made another note, then abruptly snapped closed his Blackberry and stood up. "I don't think there is any more need of questions. If you could give me a second to tally the score."

Boycott Disney

Rosie O'Donnell continues to spew her bigoted hatred on ABC's "The View." Now, since this show is only watched by post-menopausal lesbians and half-crazed shut-ins, that's not normally a problem. But on the other hand, the executives at Disney (which owns ABC) continue to pander to homosexuals, pedarists, and all sorts of deviants, since they are more afraid of boycotts or public actions by the freaks in society than by the normal. This is your fault for being silent and prefering to indulge your consumerism than it is Disney's fault. As long as you are too lazy to take action, your America will continue to degenerate into a cultural cess pit, ruled by the likes of Rosie O'Donnell and Michael Moore. It is your duty as an American, a Christian, and a Human to join in the boycott against not only Disney and ABC, but against all those corporations who advertise on "The View," until such time as Rosie O'Donnell is no longer employed by Disney & ABC. Following is a list of advertisers for "The View". Now, most of these advertisers are probably only selling products to the aforementioned post-menopausal lesbians. But a few of them are more sensitive, such as Wal-Mart and Sears. Get to it, soldier! Write a letter, send an email, but most importantly, STOP BUYING THEIR CRAP!

Dixie Bath Cups
Vaniqa (
Dove Chocolate
Garnier Nutrisse
Dawn with Bleach Alternative
K9 Advantix (from Bayer)
Cheez-It Stix (from Kellogg)
Mr. Clean
Oscar Meyer
Glade PlugIn
Angel Soft Toiletpaper
Blink car cleaning products (
Mucinex DM
Bayer Breeze2 Meter
Oust Air Sanitizer (from S.C. Johnson)
i.d. Bareminerals (
Lucky Ducks (child's game from Milton Bradley)
Restasis (
Pier 1
Nice'n Easy Color-blend (from Clairol)
Cool Whip (from Kraft)
Secret Antipersperant
Reach One toothbrush
Cottonelle Toilet Paper
Serenity pads (female hygeine)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I like Nat King Cole

I like Nat King Cole

I dunno.

His music, you know,

it just don't grow old.

I like Nat King Cole.

When I was a kid,

I'd think

"He's a Jolly Old Soul,
that Nat King Cole".

Yep. I would.

Reminds me,
need to experiment with the mataphor mix.
(mental note, to self, eh, eh).

I like Nat King Cole.

And frosted glasses
with sugared brims
and filled right up
with Pink Lemonade
that's far too sweet.

And a Vodka chaser.

I like Nat King Cole.

And Vodka.

Monday, April 16, 2007

PM 5: The First Two Questions

He took my silence for consent. "Good! Well here it is. Imagine yourself in a room, roghly 4 meters by 4 meters. 3 meter ceiling. There is nothing on the floor or ceiling. All the walls are plain and featureless. However, on the floor is a box. What color is the box?"

"What is this a riddle?"

"No, its a question to test your psychological profile."

"I seem to remember a question about a house with all southern exposure and a bear walks by. What color is the bear? This question seems the same thing."

"This isn't the same thing."

"Carole Burnett couldn't figure it out. Obviously if a house has all southern exposure than its at the North Pole, and then it has to be a polar bear. Of course polar bears probably don't live as far North as the North Pole. Is this something like that?"

"No. There's no right answer, no trick answer."

"If there's no right answer or trick answer why do you ask the question?"

"Because your answer says a lot about you and how you think." He looked like he might want to say more and was restraining himself. I was wondering if this was a joke or if he might be serious. In either case, he seemed rather disarmed.

"I think it's a stupid question. If its a completely empty room, except for me and a box, how am I supposed to see the box to know what color it is? Put a light in the room or something."

My visitor took out a stylus and pressed the blackberry screen. He started to write down some notes. Still looking at the screen he said. "Okay, have a light. Now what color is the box?"

"What color is the light?"


"What color is the light? The color of the box depends on the color of the light. Is it a white light?"

"It's a plain regular white light."

"Incandescent or flourescent?"

He wrote something else down on his screen. "I don't know. Flourscent. It doesn't matter."

"And the walls, the floor, and the ceiling. What color are they?"

"What difference does that make?"

"The box might be reflective."

He was starting to look a little exasperated. "Is the box reflective?"

"How should I know? Its your box."

"I don't care. It doesn't matter. You choose."

"Surely it matters for your psychological test. You need to know whether I am giving you the color of the box or the color of the walls?"

He scratched down something else.

"Moving on to Question 2. This has multiple parts. How do you spell Grey?"


He pressed down with the stylus. "Do you believe in ghosts?"

"If there's a paycheck in it..."

He seemed rather annoyed. "Do you believe in ghosts? Just yes or no."


Another flick of the stylus, "Are you afraid of heights, tight spaces, open spaces, or the dark?"


"Do you take psychoactive drugs?"

"Is caffeine a psychoactive drug?"


"Are you sure? You don't know how much caffeine I take."


"Then no."

The second question with its multiple parts went on. At first I was rather troublesome with my answers. The strange questions were annoying and seemed to require a cynical response. But I began to grow tired and respond simply "yes" or "no" as appropriate. After ten minutes however, I was fed up."

"Have you ever encountered an alien life force?"

"No. How much longer will this go on?"

Abruptly he said. "That's the end of question 2."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Larry's return

I sat there in the service, and I thougth to myself, "it's him all over, Larry has again come to call".

His extremities were all crippled, his hair, rediculous and long.

He related to me his stories of his service in honor, to God, to country, to us within the fields of battle so far, far away.

My first response was of distrust, of faithless disdane.

The message from on high today was of Thomas and of doubts...veritas, I ask, where are you, veritas?

He explained to me his story, of his service to his country. South Korea was his destiny, firefights his disdain.

Like a blackbird he fixated on my broach on chest affixed "a medal of honor?"; my reply was there nixed.

He showed me his card of Veteran's Affairs, his medal of courage, his honor, his badge.

Cringe came over me, as I shook his hand. How will I take my mints, to sing my song, with hands so filthy, so much there in throngs?

Withered and crippled were his body and and so was his mind; at his side was a change purse, fashioned crudely from the sash of a pint.

It jingled and it rattled as he worshipped there with me, his voice was in harmony, and beside him together we were choir.

I thought to myself, "this hapless poor soul...but not for grace, would I be as so?".

He was happy and faithful, and in this I attest; my own selfless virtues were put to the test.

I wonder here now, in this cold, frigid rain, where has he travelled, and what is his bane?

"Every sparrow he'll catch," and I thus believe.

But I can't help but wonder, where is this soul's relief?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I heard Johnny Cash's House Burnt Down

I heard Johnny Cash's house burnt down.

Damn that Kris Kristopherin.

Damn, that boy that pees in his bed!

I "heard" Johnny Cash's house burnt down.

Damn that boy that plays with fire. Damn.

Burn, burn, old black coal.

Oh "empire of dust". Oh funeral pyre.

I heard Johnny Cash's house burnt down.

And I ain't feelin' s'good.

Damn that funeral pyre.

Damn, that empire of dust.

Damn, that haven of the country poet.

Outlaw, outlaw, where is thy bread?

I heard Johnny Cash's house burnt down.

Marshmella, Marshmella, skin black as coal.

But how white underneath. How sugary sweet! Gooey old roll.

Black teeth, black teeth, rot outta my head!

Better part of me's done left fer' dead.

I heard Johnny Cash's house burnt down.

Danged ol' wooden teeth.

Danged, ol' sugary sweets.

Danged old nasty, ganky...hippie's feet.

Write on, write on, poet hippie, country freak!

I heard Johnny Cash's house done burned to the ground.

Danged that Kris. Danged them outlaws. Danged, them black and tarry, ganky hippie feet.

PM 4: The Visitor

That stupid moppy headed brat. I blame his as much as anything else. If I had only been stronger for the next few hours and more confident in myself. It wouldn't have happened.

I am getting ahead of myself.

Once, as a kid, I found this enormous praying mantis. I was repelled and fascinated at the same time. I was a cowardly litle kid and afraid of bugs and snakes and worms. But there is something so unworldly about a mantis, and I've never seen one so fat before. In my mind I can still see the mantis's abdomen expanding and contracting. This revolting memory comes to me now as I think of the rudeness of that acne-scarred child whose ability to interact with the world was limitted by the speed of his thumbs. We shared a universal contempt made tolerable only by isolation. But isolation was itself intolerable. I can not deal with another person. It is too much like looking myself in the mirror. I don't want that. Adam and Eve were naked before the fall and ashamed and clothed afterward. I must put on a character in a fantasy game. Only then am I free.

I have heard that love pierces to the heart. There is a dream of love out there for everyone, no doubt, but its a dream built on a false idea. The love I want is a kind of passion that excuses reason. I want a love, like the poets talk about. I want a passionate love like a worm that will burrow its way through my skin and into my heart and kill me, so I don't actually have to love. Even if that love we all wait for exists we are all too bent on self-preservation to ever allow such a parasite to conquer us. I told Father Kindly all these horrific thoughts of mind, and he preached something different. If what he preached was love - like he said it was - then I knew nothing of it then, and I only have a faint glimmer of it now.

I returned to my apartment. Into the living area, a room dominated by the plasma TV, and through to the small kitchen. I opened the apartment size refridgerator and took out an Amsel Light, went back through the living area, flipping on the tv, and then into the small study. I sat down in front of the screen. I Read news on news sites and sports on sports sites and I drank.

There was a knock on the door.

This stunned me. People did not visit me. Once, the lady next door asked me to feed her cat while she was away. She said I looked honest and she could always spot honest people. She died and some Chinese couple had moved in. They hardly spoke english. I would nod if I passed them in the hall. Ocassionaly they screamed at each other and I could hear them through the wall in the study. I almost never saw the man across the hall who worked a night shift and went up state on the weekends. There was a tenants association but they had given up on asking me to do anything a long time ago. No children allowed here. No solicitors. For me, no visitors.

I went to the door and peered through the spy hole. There was a man outside who I did not recognize.

New Yorkers are a wary and suspicious race. We pride ourselves on the fact that we are not fools, but we also don't like to appear lacking in self assurance. I could have ignored him, but that would have been timid. I could have opened the door part way with the chain still fastened and asked him what he wanted. But as we know, a good swift to the door and the chain is broken. There really was no particular fear. It was only eight o'clock or so and the building was secure with cameras in every hall. So I opened the door, intending to face the newcomer head on. He had stepped into my apartment before I had a chance to step out of the way.

"Good evening, Mr. MacLeinn." He said as he brushed by me. "Close the door if you don't mind."
Strangely enough that's exactly what I did. "Who the hell are you?" I said at his back. He had swept right through the living room and into the kitchen and opened my fridge as if he was mimicking my own entrance several hours earlier. He pulled out a jar of mayonaise, a jar of mustard, and a jar of olives. He turned his attention to the pantry and pulled out a jar of peanut butter, took a bowl down from the cabinet and a spoon from the drawer.

"I trust you don't mind. I am in a hurry and if I had to wait for politeness we'd probably not get down to business." He was mixing the contents of all the jars together in the bowl

"What the hell are you doing?"

"I'm about ready to eat something, if you don't mind." He slathered the concoction on a bagel. He was tall, taller than me, at least six four, with curly black hair and a goatee and a very ruddy complexion. He wore a loose long sleeve black shirt with no collar and black pants with a satin band down the side like military dress. He had black laceless shoes which seemed to conform closely to his feet. On his back was a very small pack, almost like a woman's purse, but without accent or trim. A cell phone was strapped to his gray belt.

I pointed at the door. "Get the hell out of here!"

"I'm here," he said with his mouth full, "because you called me. I assume you are interested in an adventure."

"No, I am not. I don't know who the hell you are, but get the hell out now or I am calling the porters to haul you out."

He ripped a large chunk out of the bagel, breathing heavily through his nose. He looked at me for a moment as he chewed and swallowed "Don't be stupid friend, listen to what I have to say. Opportunities like this don't come around very often. Not once in a lifetime, but once in a thousand lifetimes. Its practically unique."

I suddenly had the dreadful thought that this was Satan incarnate, coming here to make a baragain for my soul. And in the light of his meteoric entrance, features, clothing and strange behavior, it seemed the most reasonable explanation.

"Do you know how many people are on this earth?" He asked.

"Five billion."

"You know how many people have ever, ever been asked to join the EARA?"

"The what?"

"Fifteen. You'd make sixteen."

"I don't care. I'm not interested. I have a good job."

"If you had a good job you wouldn't have called. I'm betting you have a pretty lame job, friend." He was in my fridge again. "What's with the water-downed beer? You have a girlfriend or something."

"I don't like a lot of alcohol. Look I don't know who you are..."

"I'm Bud Holligan, EARA recruiter and ST Division Head. We have to wear more than one hat sometimes friend." He had one of my beers in his hand. It was already open. "Actually, you might as well know, won't hurt to tell you, I'm recruiting in my spare time. We don't normally recruit here in the States."

"Look, I don't know why I dialed your number, but this is just a misunderstanding. Whatever it is you do, I'm not interested."

He stuffed some more of the bagel in his mouth, then chewed. "Look, I'm not offering you a job."

"Then why are you here?"

"I'm not offering you a job yet. You have to take this personality test first. It's a screening tool really. If you pass it, then we can interview you and I can tell you a little about what we do."

"I'm not interested." I said, but unfortunately, my curiosity was beginning to grow.

"You don't know that yet. Besides, its a lot of fun." He pulled his pack off one shoulder and swung it around to his side. It was like a duffle bag as he just pulled at the opening and reached in. Out came a little device which he folded out into a panel about four inches by six inches. "All it is, I'm just going to ask you a few questions. None of them personal at all. No bank account numbers, social security numbers, Mother's maiden names... Just a few situational problems, I'd like you to answer as best you can. There's no right answer or wrong answer, just answers, and if they match up with our profile, than we'll want to bring you in."

I had the oddest sensation that I was playing AlternateLife. I looked at my computer screen in the study, but it was blank except for the screen saver. I looked at my hands. No keyboard or mouse in sight.

"Shall we begin?"

The Demise of the Authoritarian

It was a day like any other. Filled with the verisimilitudes of normalized existence.

Shall there be some roll of the die? Some mark that illicits a nobel and "uber-response" in that sublime nature, human.

Some epiphany of self-enlightenment.

No such luck for the ever down-trodden.

His days had been numbered from the start, like the feather-count of some fighting cock, awaiting that ultimate song of swan in a dank Mexicali ring of feathered pugilistic rip and tear at nature's lithe and fragile flesh.

Merkon Dilichai had always lived his life on the edge of mere, and simple existence.

He never concerned himself with the "what-ifs", or the what-for's.

Adventure was his "petit fours", his small celebration in the ephemeral party of life.

Always sought, and rarely attained, he lived, simply, for the excitement of a simple existence.

"There is an adventure in only trying to live right. To seek only that which benefits the simple life. That which sustains a future generation of truth-seekers".

"I guess so, Merk. But what about trying to do more?", said the grey-bearded man, sippin' his Orange Crush soda.

"More? What more is there than doin' what is right, for righteous sake?".

"Merk, I reckon there's things in the heavens that only eyes like yours can see," the old man quipped.

"Reckon so, Philbert, but it takes a trained eye to keep its focus," Merk felt a bit uneasy 'bout this statement. But he figured he'd live with it, somehow.

"You know, Merk, there is a life that is beyond this one," said the withered soul.

"Yup, and I reckon I'm gonna hit that asphalt and find it".

With that, the dusty old bastard climbed on his beast of steel and roared down that open road to a destiny as yet attained, or related in word or song.

The Parable of Terramundia

I remember the first time I visited Terramundia. I was on my Master's business, of course, but that business didn't often take me far. I had heard quite a bit about Terramundia - it was impossible not to, for the place (or more properly, my Master's dealings with it) had made quite a stir amongst our little household.

And with all I had heard, it was quite natural that the first thing I should notice was that spire of rock jutting out on the prominatory. Back then, it was little more than a hastily constructed tower of stone blocks, surmounted by a rough platform. It was left to my imagination to see the winding stairs within, but stairs there must be, for I could see figures standing atop the tower, and they certainly didn't fly there. They surrounded a thinly smoking fire, banked in this, the day.

In my memories of Terramundia, that first sight of the tower is always at the forefront. I had approached the harbor from the sea, as I always would from then on. Beyond the tower, there was little more to see. The city was built in the fold of steep and barren hills, and the houses were crowded down to hectic docks and piers, where the little fishing boats huddled together, bobbing on the waves. Their colorful pennons waved to and fro, creating an almost panicked sense of movement.

I wish I could say more of that first visit, but I'm afraid I only remember a few scattered observations. I didn't know much about Terramundia, and what little I learned came through brief interviews or overheard snatches of conversation. From what I gathered, the tower was relatively new, and all (really most) of the citizens were somewhat in awe. The tower had been erected (some claimed) at the behest of Josepi Cruz (I knew the name, of course). Initial skepticism had already faded by the time of my visit. There were a few naysayers, making this or that claim against it, but most of the citizens had already seen the benefit. They knew that the light on the tower had saved more than one fisherman, returning to port and trying to navigate the deadly currents occasioned by the tides, winds, and myriad islands that marked the nearer sea.

Most of those residents had already joined in the Lighthouse Legion, a sort of academy that had formed at the base of the tower, to provide instruction to sailors. The Lighthouse keeper, Pietro, a grizzled hulk of a man, sought to explain to the Legionaires the intricacies of Josepi Cruz' charts of the harbor, and the use of the marvelous compass. These efforts (it seemed to me) were often in vain. I remember also that there was already beginning a sort of guild of pilots. Students of Pietro's, using the compasses and charts, would guide boats out to open water and back in again. The grateful fishermen would share their catch with the pilots, and this supported not only the pilots, but Pietro and the other keepers and teachers as well.

It was indeed heartwarming to see Terramundia in those days, when the memories of lost sailors were fresh in people's minds, and the novelty of the lighthouse, and it's benefices, prompted gratitude and goodwill among the citizens.


It was years later that I returned, on another errand, and my stay was brief. Coming in from the sea, I immediately saw the difference. The tower was unchanged, but the buildings at the base of it had been built upon in an ornate and extensive fashion. Ballistrudes and buttresses, collonade and battlement all surrounded the tower. The setting sun lit both the tower and the buildings at its base, and they glowed in response to the sun like a mirror.

But my eye was caught at once by what I did not expect, for further up the hill, there was another tower, this one encrusted with glittering jewels and ornate tapestries. Around the platform at the top were several glass plates with concentric ringed bullseyes. And at the base of this tower, too, there were magnificent buildings. The thin wisp of smoke rose from the center of the glass plates at the towertop, so I knew that this, too, was a lighthouse. It was roughly in line with the original tower, though further up the hill.

Entering into the town, which had grown even more crowded in my absence, I found explanations for the second tower all too quickly. It seemed that the old lighthouse keeper Pietro had died, and some squabbling arose among the keepers and navigators over the interpretation of the charts. Being unable to come to a conclusion, some of the keepers and navigators took a brand of the fire from the lighthouse and carried it up to a lookout post on the hill. There they constructed the second tower, and lit the fire at the top. There was a rivalry among the pilots from the Lighthouse Legion and the Navigator's Guild, as the adherants of the second tower were known. But the rivalry didn't affect the fishermen very much. They could steer their course into the harbor by either tower, although on odd occasions, the parallax between the two would lead to a wreck.

The one unification between the two camps came on foggy nights, when both groups would share the duties of ringing a large bell that had been mounted on a small islet in the harbor's mouth. A great, bronze bell with the legend "Mare Nostrum" cast upon its surface.

That brief, second visit is always suffused in my memory with the tolling of that great bell.


My third stay in Terramundia was the oddest from the start. As I arrived, I spied not only the two towers on the prominatory, but a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh tower, all spread along the coast. And besides the towers, there were various large buildings with no towers.

As I stepped onto the docks, I was affronted with the cacophony of the different camps, appealing to departing fishermen. Some cried out "Look to Pietro's Lighthouse! Don't go beyond the range of its light!" Others were yelling "Remember your compass! All you need is a compass!" Still others yelled "The compass and the charts! Remember them!"

While I had been away, many of the fishermen had revolted against the pilots from the Legion and the Navigators. Some said they required too great a share in the catch. Others said that they wouldn't share the charts, and other said that they made the charts too difficult to read. There had never been much success in the navigational schools by either Pietro's Legion or the Navigator's Guild, and many claimed that this was intentional. The Navigator's Guild had become jealous of their compasses, and this was held against them. And it seemed that each man who was affronted would either build his own lighthouse. And many would not build lighthouses at all, saying that the lighthouse was unnecessary if you had a compass and a chart. And yet another set claimed that even the chart was not necessary - all you needed was the compass and your own good sense. All manner of calumny was uttered against the charts. People claimed that they had been poorly copied, that Pietro's Legion had deliberately falsified them. Some of the newer groups altered the charts in ways they thought better.

And amidst all this confusion, it was not unmarked by me that on the one day I was there, two vessels went missing, with their crews presumed dead. I did not prolong my stay in Terramundia, for I was saddened.


It was long before I visited again. When I did, I found enormous changes. The Terramundians had found electricity and motors. Pietro's Lighthouse and the tower of the Navigator's Guild were still burning their old flames at the tower tops, and still calling out "Don't go beyond the sight of the lighthouse!" But some of the other towers now had electric beacons at their tops, revolving and casting their rays far out to sea.

Among the fishermen at the docks, I heard many who were very pleased with the longer reach of the electric lights. They could go farther out into deep water, and were finding new species of fish and new islands. They were filled with hope and excitement, and they scorned the two old towers.

But the newer towers with their electric lights were not on the prominatory, and were uncertain guides at night. Making your mark toward these brighter lights led not to the open mouth of the harbor, but to the rocky shores opposite these later edifices.

To compound the problem, the motor launches had taken over much of the fishing fleet, belching out black soot, they puttered about the harbor. The motors, along with the longer reach of the light, sent the fishermen farther and faster than before.

And with so much more ocean to fish, many more were taking to this life. Some couldn't be bothered with charts, and some wouldn't even take the compass. It seemed that quite a few of the fishermen trusted to their eyes and instincts alone. This added to the grinding noise at the docks, where beside the old Legionaires and Navigators, and the Chart & Compass, or Compass-only partisans, there was now a new crowd, encouraging the fishermen to ignore the whole lot. "No Pilot, No Compass, No Chart, No Light!" was their refrain, and they were very popular among the younger fishermen.

And it seemed amost un-noticed that each day of my visit, more boats went missing, and more wreckage washed ashore. Such lost men were reckoned "bad sailors," though some even blamed the lighthouses for "blinding" them, and were agitating to have the beacons shut off and the flames snuffed out.

I left in downcast spirits.


The interim of my absence was very short. When I returned, I found a bright electric light atop of Pietro's Lighthouse. I was a little taken aback. I was told that the latest keeper, a man named John Vingtetrois, had felt that the Legion was getting behind the times. He had moved the old burning flame to a safe place in one of the buildings at the base of the tower, and replaced it with the brightest beacon that could be made. This did not result in the hoped-for reliance on Pietro's Lighthouse. Rather, many snickered that old Pietro's was now just one of the bunch.

There was a new mood as well. There were no more sailboats in the harbor, and the popular mood ran strongly against the charts. They said that the charts were written for the deep keels of the sailboats, not the shallow drafts of the motor launches, and so areas on the charts that were dangerous for sailboats were perfectly safe for the new craft. These same people said that the Legion and Navigators were keeping men away from good fishing. Those that did not openly flaunt the charts clamored for new ones, asserting that the old charts were no good - that erosion had changed the coast, and that they were too complicated to use. A few shops opened in Terramundia selling revised charts, that showed fewer shoals, had less markings, and had new and innovative mappings of the coast.

I was startled, on the first night of my visit, to see yet another tower. This one was small, but built in a manner very similar to Pietro's tower. And rather than an electric light, it had an old fashioned flame, without the Navigator's glass panels. I found out that some of the keepers from the Legion had taken a torch from Pietro's flame and rekindled it on this new tower. But the new tower was not on the prominatory, and it proved a particular will-o-the-wisp to returning sailors, many of whom were wrecked on its account.

Most of the other, newer towers were failling into disrepair, their electric beacons flickering and often untended. A few adherants still gathered at the docks, but most of the fishermen had found their way into the "No Pilot, No Compass, No Chart, No Light!" set (although they looked for a lighthouse in a hurry when they found themselves in difficulty).

But there were some new lighthouses, with fantastic, pulsating beacons. Strangely enough these seemed to be receding back into the hills, further and further from the shore. One of them was visible from the coast only by the aurora of lights coming from the other side of a hill. Apparently these lighthouses were immensely popular among the citizens who didn't fish, and were sorts of social clubs where people hung jeweled gold compasses around their necks and memorized the latest version of the charts.

That was my last visit to Terramundia, and I could have almost walked out on the bloated backs of the drowned sailors in the harbor. I couldn't understand why the citizens didn't see their dead choking the very waters that had given them fish. I know now that I will never return there, for my errands are done. But I tremble when I think what Josepi will find when my Master sends him in from the sea.

The Windriders

How is it
that the white man
cannot ride the wind?
Nor hear the bear
upon his smell?

I painted my arms and face
with the fat of the slain coyote
and daubs of ocher
wrenched from the spirit of the dirt
reddened the mask upon my face

And I went to war
not the white man's war
not a war to win and kill
but a war to love
to love with flinty arrowhead
to love with scalps adorning my pinto
to love by returning the paleface to mother earth
where he could rise again as precious maize
cleansed in the site of Hrumpquatatwilli, the maize spirit

O spirit, O Great Manitee!
You howl on the wind now
where is the bear fat?
where the coyote?
where the wigwam that echoed with the laughter of the nursing Cherokee?

Gone, to great lament
Damn whitey!

Dear Readers

Dear readers,

(Especially you denizens of the rat-warren of Beijing, who frequent these pages with alarming regularity in an attempt to escape from the bleak and featureless realities of your life under the oppressive boot of your communist masters)

You will now find a link to The Precipice on the right side of the page, below the post listing, but just above the Pope Quiz. Please take a moment to visit this site.

Gore Bless You,


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

PM 3: Last Day on Earth

I remember that day well. It was a suprisingly cool day for August. There was a fresh smell in the air - never present in the city anytime but in the fall. Other common city odors seem to become separate and distinct the way sometimes an object floating in a clear pool might sometimes becomes brighter and more colorful once it is submerged. Even passing by an overflowing dumpster I found the aroma pungent but not entirely distasteful that crisp morning.

The morning sky was cloudless, hazeless, bright, and blue, marred only by a few contrails. For the first time in a long time I was entirely awake. I remember being unusually aware of my own clothing: my jacket, tie, shirt. There was nothing odd about this uniform except that it seemed particularly appropriate for that day. I am trying my best to describe this alien sensation, but all words fail me. I fit in, I felt placed. It was anti-angst. Looking back I find this emotion I was experiencing on, what effectively was my last day, very, very disturbing.

Its a ten block walk from my building to my office. Time enough to pass by a thousand faces. Hundreds of times a year I walked that same street, passed the same people. You would think I would be able to recall one man or woman or child. But they were nothing to me. A part of the steel and glass scenery. I can't describe one, but I can describe all: a loosely fleshed, chalky face. Two dangling gold earings that refuse to sparkle. Eyes hidden behind tortoise shell sunglasses. Her hair is colorless, not brown, not blonde, not red, and certainly not black. Thin and translucent, it seems to me in my mind, pinkish like the belly of a fish. The only real color is the bright red color of her lipstick. Her lips are so thin, the color seems clownish. Her lips in a fixed sneer. Her skin puffy, her clothes expensive and tacky, her expression hard. I don't see her hands but I imagine her manicured nails are long and lacquered with the same color.

I can not form an impression in my mind of a face behind that sneer and those tortoise shell sunglasses. Just an impression. I think she has a small nose, too much mascara, too small eyes, thick eyebrows, but I can't put all these disparate features together and arrange in my mind a real person.

I dream now of turning and following that woman. She would make her way into one of those many office buildings like mine. Enter the elevator and fill it with some perfume like the stench of stale bourbon. The ride up to the fifteenth floor is a torture for the other passengers. She and arrives at her office. She takes her keys from her purse, unlocks her desk drawer puts her purse back in the drawer, and locks the drawer. Her heels click on the tile floor as she steps from the carpet into the coffee room and makes herself a milky sugary decaf - just like Mr. Daniels.

Why do I dream of following her? Is it for nostalgia, or for familiarity that would give me that sense of safety I am so bereft of. Not even in my earthliness - which I cling to - do I have anything in common at all with this woman. Only this, we walked the same street for ten years, but in opposite directions. That sneering demanding mouth which leaves it stain on the styrofoam cup is what stands out most. It is the true soul of New York. She is Spiritus Mundi - the beast slouches towards Bethlehem.

I remember I did very well with my numbers. Things went as planned, nothing surprising happened and those items that could have gone either way turned in my favor. It was not a "career" day, but good solid day and by four thirty everything had settled out so nicely that I could return home in a mood which bordered on the peaceful. The air was still cool but the sun was still high enough to fill the gorges between buildings with its radiant heat and I remember how my jacket became to warm for me. I ate an early dinner at a greek place two blocks out of the way, reading the remnants of the morning newspaper in a narrow booth. No need, really, I had to stay abreast of every detail so that I could guess which numbers would go up and which numbers would go down. No red or green buttons to push until the next morning - none ever again as it turned out.

The busboy cleaned my table as I sat there and gave me a dirty look. It was beginning to get crowded. He'd say something if I didn't leave in five minutes. So I folded the paper and put it on the table, left a generous tip and walked out of the restaraunt and headed two blocks over to the Game Room. I wasn't really in the mood to buy, I had too many games as it was that I wasn't playing but I was curious to see if there was anything new that I had missed. I "specialized" in first person shooter games, but I liked all the arcade style games. Alternate Life, which I played over the internet was nice, but simply not as intense and I wasn't into sending real money to get the perks of membership.

A crowd of moppy headed teens with an eclectic collection of piercings were competing against each other wirelessly on their hand held systems. They sat in a silent circle, elbows out, heads down. It was like looking back upon some pagan ritual. Ocaasionally they broke their silence with a groan of frustration or an exclamation of triumph. I was leaving and I stumbled, I don;t know why, just stubbing my foot against the carpet, and brushed up hard against one of the teens. He shot me a glare like the waiter in the restaurant, but he was too engaged to say anything.

"Sorry," I muttered.

"Screw off," he said, not even looking up.

I continued out the door, on my way back to my apartment.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Washboard on the Portico

Rattle them ridges,
ride them suds.

The laundry, she's gettin' done.
She's gettin' done.
That putrid ol' laundry,
in that slick suds 'n fun.

Rattle them ridges,
and ride them suds.

The Gavel-Gal
she's paying visits
to the enemy o'er there.
(I hear they washtub's done full of mud).

Rattle them ridges,
and ride them suds.

They're washing that laundry,
knuckles raw with blood.
Can't clean what won't come clean,
Cain't warsh with filthy sud.

Rattle them ridges,
and warsh out that mud.

That tyrrant Letchin,
he's comin' to call.
He's a taste for terror,
He's got a hunger fer it all.

Rattle them ridges,
and ride them suds.

"He's a liar, he's a cheat"
thus came their call.
"He's a'flyin' by his seat.
He'll be the death of us all!"

Rattle them ridges,
and ride them suds.

If the greenhouse don't kill us,
the fission surely will,
its salvation's a satyr,
one outcome, sum of nill.

Rattle them ridges,
and ride them suds.

"The enemy's in the dirt,"
was the handmaiden's call.
"Cain't warsh with filth,
won't come clean at all".

Rattle them ridges,
n' ride them suds!

Come clean, come clean
oh blood-stained hand.
The lies won't warsh out,
of the blood-thirsty band.

For this ol' boy,
there can be no defeat.
I'll rattle them ridges,
and ride a clean gait.

Water at the warsh house
she runs crystal clear.
No lies murk her surface,
and her depths run pert near.

Ride, ride them ridges,
and warsh out them suds.

Oh them hot-house 'maters
them gigantic spuds
Them big, buttered taters,
reckon sheik's war-heads is all duds?

Rattle them ridges,
and ride them suds.

Reckon their god is Dagon,
I've watched 'em hug buckeye tree.
My hope's are in ol' Reagan
his missile killers are my glee.

Rattle them ridges.
Rattle them ridges!
And ride

Ride them pure, ivory suds.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

PM 2: Safety in Numbers

Well, now that I've started, I find it is suddenly easier. Much easier to write about it. I won't go into long explanations. Brevity is the sole of wit. That much, at least, I have learned.

I don't know why I did it, but I ripped that little section out of the newspaper and stuffed in my pocket.

Then I went back to my desk and looked at numbers the rest of the day. I studied numbers. I placed them upon charts and watched them go up and go down, waiting for just the right moment when all the numbers lined up just right. Then I would push the big green button, or sometimes the red one, and a million dollars would change hands. Well not really change hands. The green and grey bills all stayed put wherever they were -- if they ever really existed -- only numbers moved. Numbers from one column to another column in the blink of an eye. When those numbers moved, other numbers moved, and other numbers, and other numbers, and so on and so on.

When I try and explain this no one understands. I don't even understand and it was my life. It was a life of imagination of betting games. Betting what 200 million people will buy next year. Betting whether there would be two hurricanes or three. Betting on what the temperature would be in New Mexico on a certain day. Betting how many people would die of the same drug that had been hailed as a miracle cure. I led a life dependent on imagination. And I wanted to touch something real, so I stuffed the little scrap of paper into my pocket.

But I forgot it was there, all day long it was there, and if I had thought about it I would have crumpled it up and nothing would have happened. Numbers might have moved, but numbers are always moving. No one would have died that's for certain. I wouldn't be here where I am now. God help me! I kept the scrap of paper in my pocket all day long until I got home and then, as I sat down in front of my screen (as I always do) I threw the contents of my pockets upon the desk. And there it was.

And there it stayed as I read sports on sports sites and news on news sites. I paid my bills and contributed to the movement of the numbers I made my living by. One can not breathe without contributing to the chaotic flow of numbers! I ate dinner. I sat before the television. I might have gone out of my apratment, but I was too weary and too frustrated. I sat back down by the screen and saw the scrap of newspaper there. I looked at the number for a long while. I thought about it, considered it, and dismissed the idea as absurd. I was happy enough, wasn't I? Well not exacty happy, but content. By content I mean secure. By secure I mean safe. I was safe, wasn't I?

Yes, I was safe and for a second, I was also stupid because safe was not enough for me. I needed something to happen, even a joke. And so, in a reckless moment I picked up the phone and I dialed the number.

It rang twice but I hung up before anyone answered. I crumpled up the newspaper scrap and I threw it in the trash by my desk. I was still safe and that is all that really matters in life. If anything else matters we can find a way to forget about it by distraction. That night I played AlternateLife until three in the morning. I had not been so content for a long time. I went to bed and slept well. I got up the next day and went back to the numbers.

Upon the Night Horizon


The night is jet black,
No star,
No light.
Upon the horizon,
Bare trees,
A moon rises like
No moon
The corpse light shines upon us,
In death.
A shriek rends the night
The rise of brotherhood,
The smart,
The damned,

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Collectivist in Bluestein


We are all one family
in you
in you
in you!


That poison pen prick is at it again,
the collectivist soul set down to save us all.
Socialist, socialist go away
fat cats on the run, the neighbors, dismayed.


A blended fam, effort, relief
There Decatur stands, Roswell, indeed.
Relief, Bluestein, RELIEF!

Oh but when may those "prickly" barbs
of socialist thorngrove
once again be removed and my soul set free?


You captor, you tyrrant, you foe.
Blue is your Stein, blue is your soul
Bluestein, collective tyranny, it grows old.


Lil' Timmy Timkins, just before battling the Grosseass

Sung to the tune of “Old '97”


His eyes were fixed on the hapless foe before him
His arms were flexed stressed steel
He was given the task of ending their reign, he'd better not let this one pass.

Well he happened on the truth at the age of seven
he said “Lord, you're in the lead”
But lil' did he know he'd go afore the cretans, their heads he would have to splay.

Well it's a mighty tough row, for one young lad to lay down
on ground s'like dolimite
It was on this ground that he made his last stand
Watch them cretan heads roll around.

Well the heads they were a rollin' like marbles on a slick floor
Their queen let out a scream
Lil' Tommy Tomkins lay there before her
Her talons had ripped all his seams.

Now there's a lesson in this for you bright and hapless upstarts,
Afore you go into Cretan-ville.
There they worship trees and their queen is a lizard,
They'll leave you like Tommy there dead.