Thursday, October 29, 2015

Laughing Buddha

The last time I saw
Gotama he was sitting
statue still and his
earlobes were growing

breaks for food - his good
fortune - offerings
were that plentiful.

He could eat for sitting in
public where we could
all criticize him -
which of course we did in spades
except you bid hearts.

October 29, 2015 9:45 AM

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Flying Colors - Three Word Wednesday

Each week, Three Word Wednesday offers up three words, and this is the 451st week that Thom has done so, or at least that is the number that titles the current page. This week Thom offers these three words:

Nondescript; Placid; Quirky.

To which I reply:

Flying Colors

This is too easy,
my friend, even nondescript,
possibly placid,
certainly quirky.

It might be that I wrinkle
up my soul trying
to match your posture,
mimic your forward thinking
pose as you stand still,
barely ruddy red,
instead a pale strawberry
wash - the inside near
the top sliced open -
yet I am redrawn tan sand
in the current flow.

‎October ‎28, ‎2015 6:58 PM

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Litmus Test

Litmus Test

My vinegar mind
has something to say to you
as if you really
cared about how tart
my life, my heart, my world is,
as if the acid
might change your blue path
to a hot and cherry red,
a litmus of truth.

March 18, 2011 12:34 PM

Monday, October 26, 2015

It Is So Dark

Is it the forage
or the trails that are painful?
I cannot tell now
if I ever could.
The driver ants darken things
as they pass, a wave
breaking over me.
They sound just like red gasping
breath, the last taken,
Death's drab closing door.

March 6, 2011 8:56 PM

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tuesday Morning - A Magpie Tale

Image by Daniel Murtagh,
chosen by Tess for this week's Magpie Tale.
See Mag 291 for the list of this week's contributors.

Tuesday Morning

I'm guessing you fly
in your dreams, flapping feathered
wings, and your breasts bound
tightly in mohair
that lets the wind pass on through,
chilling your heart's blood.

I'm guessing you're right
for me though no one else thinks
that and tells us both
to steer clear or else.

I lie back down when you've left
for work, wrapped up
and taking it all
in - all the signs, all the smells
you leave behind, shine
of a party line.

‎October ‎25, ‎2015 3:31 PM

Saturday, October 24, 2015


As this poem is over four and a half years old, I really have no idea of the referent, whether dream or story. It does not refer to anything in my history. I have not lost the love I feel for any of my past or present lovers. I have been beyond fortunate in that regard. All my friends, relatives and lovers have been wonderful. However, I am fully conversant with grief and also with self pity. Whatever.

I try not to do this too often. Like sad music, sad poetry is the easy stuff to compose. It is much harder to compose happy poetry that also stays real.


My heart is torn. Thin
ribbons flutter in the breeze
of your wan distance.
The sun through tattered
mist illumines my stammer
as I try saying
your name one last time.
The dust has eaten the love
that colored our days.

March 6, 2011 8:43 PM

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Hunt

You barked at my song
as if you had found me treed
with luminous eyes
shining in the moon,
gazing down at you, fur all
fluffed in fear of this
damn predicament.

I tell you I am not there.
You see your own ghost.

March 4, 2011 4:32 AM

Thursday, October 22, 2015

True Magic

True Magic

It all rests on thought
but not my thought and not yours.
All the world jitters
in small round orbits
around millions of black holes
in any seen heart
and unseen dream life
as we utter charms of filled
up sacs and dewlaps
hung pendulous, pale
and damp, hoping charms will work
a true magic soon.
The desperate ones
declare trueheart devotion
and try for lost love.
I hold you even
so, in the face of these things
and all that will come.

‎October ‎22, ‎2015 12:30 PM

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Inferno - Three Word Wednesday

This week Thom has posted on Three Word Wednesday these three words: Jab; Labored; Makeshift. Go to that site and find other creative offerings using them. Thom has been hosting this site over eight and a half years. Bless you, my internet friend.

The Inferno

I am thus punished
though I have labored, driven
by some makeshift spar
thrust through and through me.
I'm uncommitted despite
all that you have whipped
up like some addled
cream - and within the white bowl
there rests a contract
I signed in my blood
so long ago I forget
who among you urged my pen.
Nothing ecstatic
is mine. Your jab took
all that from my heart along
with my former life.
Like Dante I'll sink
passing some lower Hell's maw
trusting in God's Love.

‎October ‎21, ‎2015 2:06 PM

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Duckling Ways

Duckling Ways

You chopped off my wings
to stop my rise in the scheme
of things forgetting
that my mandibles
have dexterity all their
own considerring I
eat flies and like that.

It's bad on you to hiccup
in your flabby thought
of me - me peeping
along preflight all downy
and suited to friends
of a feather or
of a fat duckling waddle.

When I grow them back
you will see me get
all true and right as I fly.

‎October ‎20, ‎2015 ‎11:02 AM

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Musician's Conundrum - A Magpie Tale

No. 8, Black Flowing, Jackson Pollock

Pollock's work chosen by Tess for this Sunday's Magpie Tales

Musician's Conundrum

You blacked out my score -
globs of gelled ink.

I heard you
on your mandolin
fade in - you pushing
though I stopped my ears.

The guys
in my band went south
leaving me stranded
as so commonly they've done
in the pink and blue
highlights these damn days.

I struck up some tune in what
I thought the right key
and they all scattered
tossing the music aside
leaving me solo
even though I have
made it clear I hate being
on the spot like that
with you.

‎October ‎18, ‎2015 2:09 PM

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Bad Day - A Magpie Tale

George's Self Portrait

I remember the day still. Long time ago now... Things started to go bad, one after the other, I started counting after four and kept track. It stopped being awful and started being amazing around ten. I got to thirteen before day's end. I was married. My wife, Ann, had five or six more screw ups quite apart from mine. By evening we were chuckling at how bad a day could be. I never had a day like it before. I have never had a day like it since. We were grateful to find the humor.

I have only one idea why a bad day and George's buzz cut should match up. I was given home haircut buzz cuts as a second and third grade kid. I understood we were poor but I hated those haircuts. I am currently almost seventy. I quit getting haircuts some time back now. My hair has grown below my shoulders.

A Bad Day

The shell doesn't work.
I hear only my own ears.
Though my eyes flash blue,
I can see little
without corrective lenses.
My left leg is lame.
The toes of my right
foot are fungus infested.
The cat strayed away
three days past. The dog
has runny crap after all
the garbage he ate.

I asked for a trim.
The barber screwed the damn pooch.
Now it's a buzz cut.

What is going on?

October 12, 2015 5:46 PM

Christopher's Self Portrait

Post composed for Tess' The Mag, No. 289
Sorry to be a day behind, you guys.
Oh yes, "George" refers to George Tooker.

I have known the phrase "screw the pooch" for many years now. I did a cursory search of the internet and found that this phrase may have its origins in the Mercury Space Program. The phrase of course means what it feels like it means - to make a large error. No one apparently knows for certain where the phrase comes from. It fits the masculine high tech but blue collar workplace without question. I am sure I have used the phrase at some time in my life but I have no idea where or when.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Red Handed

Caught Red Handed

The three words of last Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday were

Red Handed

It is just like you
to dump the ash trays on me
as if I'm the guy
caught smoking again.
I guess if you found money
in my back pocket
you would accuse me
of another damn bank heist
or something like that.
I'm certain empty
motives count for nothing now,
not with you, my pet.
It's time to absorb
every innocent ploy
in the book and roll
you in the wood pile
of nascent possibles
and alternatives.

‎October ‎11, ‎2015 3:08 PM

(especially of a process or organization) just coming into existence and beginning to display signs of future potential.
"the nascent space industry"
synonyms: just beginning, budding, developing, growing, embryonic, incipient, young, fledgling, evolving, emergent, dawning, burgeoning
"the nascent economic recovery"

From Latin nascēns, present participle of nascor ‎(“I am born”).

Saturday, October 10, 2015

This Is It

The Road Of Happy Destiny
or, This Is It

The violet strap
falls across my rump as if
to stripe me, mark me
with your discipline,
make me read this book again,
focus on little
two letter words, "of",
not "to" as I trudge the road.

*Happy Destiny*

It's the road "of" I
trudge, (I read) not the road "to" -
what a difference.

February 27, 2011 9:24 PM

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Complaint - Reprise

As noted in the image, this is one of the earliest recorded business complaints we have on record. You have to have a specialist's education to read it these days. For that matter most people who needed to utilize written records hired scribes in those days. Both reading and writing were a specialist's provenance. If you were a scribe, it was probably worth your life to get it right.

In January, 2014, I crafted and published the poem I reprise here, writing to the idea of a coming storm and using all the words in a device known as a Wordle. I reprise it because I very much like how smooth and unforced the poem is, even though it was constrained by twelve words not my own. If you must know, the whiner is a talking dog. I love it that the Aussies and Brits write and say, I suppose, whinger. I don't know about the Canadians.

The Complaint

"It's all so remote,"
you whined, paying the one price
you promised never
to pay.

Your impact
illuminates several
scenes that all haunt me.
I lie by the pool
in last year's litter and need,
all lifeless now,
as you nose the ground
snuffling peevishly at me
and the coming storm.

‎January ‎12, ‎2014 9:38 AM

The words I found in the Wordle in the order I used them are:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Left Eye Update

This is an example of what my eye surgery looked like just before they opened up my eye.

I had that eye surgery on October 30, 2013. It was successful in that I did not lose more vision. The watering and the struggle to see I was suffering receded for the most part. I am barely sighted in that eye.

I am a heart patient. I am ambulatory and basically well, but I am on water pills, hypertension meds and an anticoagulant called Warfarin (Coumadin) because of my heart condition. This is low level heart stuff, though all heart conditions are serious.

There are risks to Warfarin. Doctors wish you to be on the lowest possible doses of this medication. They weigh the risks of injury against the considerations of benefit. My heart is in a permanent condition of malfunction called atrial fibrillation. I am at hugely heightened risk of stroke because the fibrillation puts turbulence in the blood. It tends to generate blood clots (emboli). The embolus can clog veins. Emboli can travel to any location in the circulation, which is a closed loop system, there to stop the flow or perhaps even burst the capillary, all caused by atrial fibrillation.

Cue the left eye. As I was leaving a meeting place at about 6:40 on that evening in March of 2013, my left eye suddenly and without any sensation developed a very large blackness in its visual field. It turned out I had suffered a subretinal hemhorrage due to a burst capillary. This lifted the retina off the back of my eye in a blood blister. The surgery was to anchor the retina back down, clear out scar tissue and the like.

When the wound in the back of my eye occurred, I went immediately to an optometrist for a diagnosis and plan of what to do next. When he heard I was on Warfarin, he just hung his head for a moment. There was no question. This situation was caused by too high an anticoagulant concentration in my blood which allowed the hemhorrage to persist long enough to do such damage. The doctor hung his head because there was clean up to do but it almost certainly would not improve my vision.

Here is the pre-op post and poem I wrote before that surgery. Click here.

And here reprised is the poem I wrote and posted then.

The One Eyed Man

Let the rains arrive.
May they wash behind my ears
and sluice all my cracks
clean of sludge and grit,
splash my patchy skin with trust
so it sparkles fine
grained, love strewn and streaked,
heavy packed inside my veins
where it thrums and drums,
and still the front hums
displeasure at the sloppy
sight of my one eye.

‎October ‎25, ‎2013 2:24 PM

In the country of the blind, the one eyed man is king... However in the two eyed world the one eyed man is decidedly not on top.

The surgeon went into my eye from the front of course. He had to replace the lens even though there was nothing wrong with it because that was the only way to get enough access to trim and anchor down the torn retina. I had it described to me that the retina has the consistency and thickness of a single strip of soggy toilet tissue. It tears easily and is not amenable to manipulation without some damage. There was awkwardly placed scar tissue and scattered pieces of tissue and blood floating in the retinal fluid, the jelly that is transparent and serves to hold the retina in place. This jelly also keeps the shape of the eye stable under a certain pressure. That had to be removed and replaced by a specially crafted saline solution. The retina had to be anchored back down using laser light to seal it in place. The explosions of white light inside at the back of my left eye were startling. I was awake for all this, though sedated.

There was basically no hope for restoring sight in any real way, only stabilizing the wound and scarring so what little vision was left would not get worse. Under that limited hope, the surgery was a success. The optometrist did no harm. Above all, Doctor, do no harm.

Today, two years later, I still cannot see out of my left eye in any useful way. I ponder, "What if that was the only sight I had left to me?" I would not get around very well. I certainly would not be able to read. I would have to have assistance for many activities. I would have to hold my head in certain ways because what sight is left me is peripheral vision at the bottom of my former visual field. This means in actual terms, the top of my retina. The rest is basically gone and the clarity of what is left is not very good. For example, I can see the background of this screen but no print at all with my left eye.

My right eye, always the strongest of my pair, is as yet untouched. I still rarely suffer eyestrain headaches despite all the computer work, reading and TV watching I do. What is amazing in all this, there was almost no pain to any of it. Even the healing aftermath was only modestly irritating. So despite my loss, I consider myself a lucky man.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Heartache - A Magpie Tale

Dream by Jacek Yerka, 2011.
Offered by Tess of Sunday's The Mag for a writing prompt. This is No. 288. Posted once a week, there are fifty-two weeks in a year, and occasionally she misses a week but not often. No. 260 or so thus marks more than five years. Good work, Tess! Love you.


I am keeping watch
as if you need me for that,
you in the middle
of your story line
woven of the crescent moon.

Wrapped in waterproof
summer sheets, the story
a bottomless flow of warm
black water - I am
keeping watch for sign
of you in my heart as if
I need you for my life
to work anymore.

Nearby, in the black light hole
life has made centered
in my time-apple
tree started decades before
my hope for us grew,
I have stashed the words
I promised you last Tuesday
and my night cap keeps
my brains from falling
out, falling flat out of me.

Something's wrong with the night stand.
The cat keeps twitching away
and the stairs keep descending.
I would like to wake up now.

October 4, 2015 5:41 PM

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Man On The Bed

The main text of Alcoholics Anonymous concludes in this way:

"Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

May God bless you and keep you - until then."

The American experience of English as it is spoken shows some common things. One of the errors that can easily persist is the substituting of one two letter word for another. "Of" and "to" seem interchangeable in phrases like "the Road of Happy Destiny" but the actual meaning of the phrase shifts in a remarkable way. Hence this poem:

The Road Of Happy Destiny
or, This Is It

The violet strap
falls across my rump as if
to stripe me, mark me
with your discipline,
make me read this book again,
focus on little
two letter words, "of",
not "to" as I trudge the road.

*Happy Destiny*

It's the road "of" I
trudge, (I read) not the road "to" -
what a difference.

February 27, 2011 9:24 PM

I was taught this by my old friend David. David was taught this by his wife, who was a second grade school teacher when she realized the importance of two letter words. It seems I would do well to remember what I learned in second grade more often.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Bitter Fruit

Bitter Fruit

Written four and a half years ago:

Bitter Fruit

The beauty of the game
is when you can't tell me off
without making him
nervous alongside
and she pipes up, is it me?
and all the rest nod
in time, in tune, nod
and open up rich red wounds
no longer hidden.

I didn't mean to.
I'm an innocent fellow,
so sorry, so sad.

‎February ‎27, ‎2011 6:10 AM



So I watched this guy
draw his silver plated gun
and begin popping
the dreams of young men
and young ladies at random.

I dropped to the ground,
thought to kiss the earth
good bye and tried to stay still
as death - if only
he would overlook
my pulsing veins, my pink skin.

Then he calmly left -
went back out the door
and the bangs began again
in another room.
I admit my plight.
I was grateful to be spared
before the wounded meant
anything to me,
nor did I care for the dead,
oh my God, at all.

‎October ‎1, ‎2015 11:25 PM

In honor of the dead and wounded at Umpqua Community College, near Roseburg, Oregon whose lives were changed forever on this date. Nine died. Seven were wounded. Also killed, the shooter, Chris Harper-Mercer. I just now learned his name and I have noticed. I too am named Christopher. It is cold tonight.

Get Your Own Visitor Map!