Birth Control

I struck all the lines
that didn't quite work
and wound up here

A unwed title and
an explanation that
no one wants to hear

I don't even recall
how it began

An indulged impulse
like a fling with someone
you knew was wrong going in

Backspace key clatters like a backhoe
filling a morbid trench

The Breakfast Link Enigma

Private detective Mickey “Spike” Leroux and his able assistant, Archie Oberman, are on the case of an international plot to make everybody even more stupid than they already are.


The teaming cobwebs obscured almost completely a faint outline upon the wall marking what I believed to be the hidden doorway. The shape of it flickered under the beam of my torch and with a fireplace poker found leaning nearby I cleared the sticky dressing all away. Rather badly hidden for a secret entrance, I thought, but shy angels never did the Devil thwart and I felt we’d arrived at the linchpin of the matter. I then remembered an intriguing detail from an old Victorian novel about a horrid effect in an unholy attic, and I began feeling all around the embossed hinting of a doorway, seeking the catch which I hoped would open the secret compartment. “This could be it,” I said.

Continue reading “The Breakfast Link Enigma”

News of the World

So Tom Hanks is starring in the film adaptation of this Paulette Jiles novel, and I have to say the film will probably be good, though I’m practically begging you to read the book first.

It’s a first rate yarn set in post-Civil War Texas involving an old war veteran who’s agreed to return to her family a young girl who was raised captive by Kiowa warriors and remembers nothing of her previous life. This cross-cultural and cross-generational bonding angle could have been a cliched mess, the kind of thing Hollywood loves to cash in on, but the book is a clear eyed look at the harsh environs of a lawless Texas wilderness, rendered in gorgeous prose.

The title stems from the occupation of the old veteran, who gathers up recent newspapers from all over and travels to distant small towns and outposts, giving public readings at ten cents a head. If this setup sounds like your kind of thing you will be well served reading the book first, or instead.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Full feature is available on YouTube. If you haven’t seen Stoppard’s witty side story calved from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, well, here she is. Tim Roth and Gary Oldman in the leads and Richard Dreyfuss as the lead player.

“Life is a gamble, at terrible odds. If it were a bet you wouldn’t take it.”

The Homemaker’s Book of the Dead

The vastness of space
does quake the heart
and the depths of eternity
may give pause to wonder
—but who has the time?

A house is a bardo
between once clean and clean again
where suppressed memories
and hard water spots
do plot their comebacks
and the circling around of it
hides in the pleats of its own skirt

Where the mind does ever dwell
stinks of heaven, with notes of hell
and in the spaces there between
stray sweepings join and hide
so that all else may be clean

To dust indeed shall we return
through beggar's guts we tread
eternity is the maid's day off
tough luck, you hopeful dead

bardo—Used loosely, “bardo” is the state of existence intermediate to death and rebirth. According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one’s next birth, when one’s consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. These usually follow a particular sequence of degeneration from, just after death, the clearest experiences of reality of which one is spiritually capable, and then proceeding to terrifying hallucinations that arise as the maturation of one’s previous unskillful actions (karma). For the prepared and appropriately trained individuals, the bardo offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since authentic insight may arise with the direct experience of reality; for others, it can become a place of danger as the karmically created hallucinations can impel one into a less than desirable rebirth.[citation needed] (modified from wikipedia)

More on The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Most importantly, this common form of the title comes from the original (1927) translation by Walter Evans-Wentz who had misunderstood the text as being the Tibetan equivalent of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The text, which is a part of larger Nyingma teaching, is actually titled, Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo. Evans-Wentz’s translation has been found to be tainted with error and misunderstanding, as he relied on his studies of Theosophy and Hinduism to guide his work. He had no familiarity with Tibetan Buddhism. The translation by Robert Thurman (yes, he is Uma’s dad) will probably be the most accessible to the generally curious.

My next poetry collection, should there be one, will likely be entitled Eternity is the Maid’s Day Off.

Away

Mother, where were you?

On that fateful day when we
eyed the sonograms of past performance
and like card counters tried
to outthink the music
and our feet got carried away.

You remember that day?

Well, it's gone now, away
a set-loose shout in the canyons
of this endless ambition, but
comes back after some delay
the eerie echo, "away."


Lite Birding, Houston | Galveston

A few bird photos from here in Houston and down in Galveston, where the mosquitoes, as Shakespeare famously put it, “come not single spies, but in battalions.” I have rarely seen the watery lowlands of Galveston so swarmed with them. Must be the recent rains. This is a Great Blue Heron, unmistakable large wader seen commonly everywhere in this part of the country.

I’ve misidentified this one as Solitary Sandpiper before, but it’s a Spotted Sandpiper in non-breeding form.

Cormorants down on White Oak Bayou. It looks like the cops have ordered them to raise their wings and don’t move. Well, they are black, and they weren’t doing anything but existing which is what passes for probable cause these days. A couple of Snowy Egrets in there too, both abiding by the law as far as anyone can tell. I could take this racial angle here and run with it, but I think I’ll just spare you and let it drop. I trust you get it. Black Lives Matter.

Low angle of morning sunshine at the bayou. There’s a busy paved trail for walkers, runners, and bikers not shown in the foreground. I literally had to wait for a gap in traffic to get this exposure.

Brother Rabbit is not like these other birds, indeed, what is he even doing here? Unlike country rabbits, this city boy could not have cared less about the people passing by a few yards away.

Not much bird action down in Galveston, which was the main reason I drove down, but I did get some banking done and had breakfast at Mi Abuelita’s so I can’t complain. A Black-bellied Whistling Duck and a White Ibis are #BFF at Lafitte’s Cove.

Some Mottled Ducks, same locale.

Caught this Reddish Egret at East Beach, fishing a big puddle remaining from our recent brush with the downgraded TS Beta. At the ship channel I noticed a large bird diving for fish and registered pelican but then I saw it had a forked tail. (Warning: this vehicle brakes suddenly for bird sightings.) It was a Magnificent Frigatebird that I was able to observe a few minutes at a range too distant for a photo attempt. At Corps Woods I found an unusually gregarious Brown Thrasher that repeatedly perched out in the open just long enough to almost get a photo, but no longer.

US Cognitive Test

I hope we ace our cognitive test coming up this fall. It’s just five words. Bone up!

PERSON
WOMAN
MAN
VOTE
BIDEN

(Note: I am excited about a Biden presidency in the same way I’d be excited to learn my prison cell mate was to be a hedge fund manager rather than a serial killer. More relieved than enthused, in other words. In this most critical moment in the history of this democracy, the one thing we can do to maybe keep the DNC from fucking this up (again) is to vote. VOTE.)

While the cynicism of the Democratic Party leadership forever shocks and disappoints me, the venality and depravity of the GOP is cut from a whole other bolt of cloth. These people, there can no longer be any doubt, hate democracy. They hate it because democracy means everyone gets to vote and that boils down to pretty much letting a Black Man tell a White Man what to do. It is the time-spanning tentacles of the social order of the Antebellum South manifest as a party that is no longer distinguishable from a cult. Democracy represents a concern for the common good and is antithetical to an unbridled greed for luxury and power. The perfidy, it takes the breath away.

To the left, this demonstrably criminal president is like a Frankenstein monster pieced together with parts disinterred from the Moral Turpitude Graveyard. Over and over on social media I see it asked, how can they support such a man? Here’s how: The right has traded in morals for strategy and the cult of Trump is a mere tool for gaining control of the US government once and for all. To put down, once and for all, the supposed horror that is the Liberal Agenda. The fact that full-time golfer drives smart people crazy is just icing on the cake, a punitive response, a ‘right back atcha’ for the crime of our placing an Uppity Negro (sorry) in the White House.

There’s plenty of Obama voters like myself who spent those eight years furious with the way he floundered around in the face of GOP opposition while actively increasing the inappropriate powers of that office instead of curtailing them, (as he had promised to do) and murdering people with drones, and utterly failing to apply his oratorical gifts in the service of educating the American people about the goodness upon which the progressive agenda is based. Am I a knee jerk liberal? Fuck no. I simply desire the functional, representative government that our founding documents seem to promise, but that nobody can find the resolve to deliver.

Mark my words, if the Flaming Orange Hemorrhoid keeps its seat in the White House, the GOP will take hold of this government in a way very difficult correct. There will be no more meaningful elections. (If in fact that is something we still have.) It will be dictatorship. This is what the 1% at the top desires, so they can keep control over the application of government authority, what the evangelical Right has prayed for, so that they can unleash without real resistance their own moral agenda (theocracy essentially), what the GOP ranks at every level support to shore up their own tenuous grasp on local power, and what the GOP voters think will relieve them of what they’ve been trained to believe is their ‘libtard’ and ‘colored folk’ problem.

God bless humanity. What a clusterfuck.

If you despise Democrats like we all sometimes do, please just hold your nose and vote for one this time. There is an awful lot on the line.