Where Is My Hideogrometer?

whereismyhideogrometer“Mom! Where is my hideogrometer?”

Obviously, no child with any sense at all would ever, ever ask one’s mother that kind of a question. It would automatically botch their nefarious designs outright and probably ground them for as long as they remained a member of the household.

It’s one thing to ask where one’s hygrometer is, and quite another to ask the whereabouts of one’s hideogrometer. One wins laurels, while the other infamy; one a ticket to fame and fortune, the other to distrust and ruin, and possibly a prison term at some point. This is not to say, however, that the hideogrometer is not without merit. Au contraire, mon ami! Merely that you not let the cat out of the bag that you have one to the wrong crowd.

But first off — and this is of utmost importance — let us not confuse a hideogrometer with a hygrometer. Every schoolboy and girl of course knows what a hygrometer is. If by chance you missed the class at school about hygrometers because you were somewhere playing hooky that day, well, it’s an important instrument used for measuring the moisture content in the atmosphere. Believe it or not, the first crude hygrometer was invented by none other than Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci in 1480. I know! This guy had his nose into just about everything back then. It’s a wonder that every other inventor, painter, sculptor, architect, scientist, musician, mathematician, engineer, anatomist, geologist, astronomer, botanist, writer, historian, cartographer, paleontologist and ichnologist of the time didn’t just close up shop and run off to fight in the Second Italian War or return to farming.

And, of course, let us as well not confuse either of the above with a hydrometer, which measures the specific gravity (relative density) of liquids — the ratio of the density of the liquid to the density of water — the principle of which goes back to Archimedes around 250 BC.

While not every schoolboy and girl may be fully aware of what a hideogrometer is — at least not by that fancy-schmancy name — they still may be quite familiar with its practice and its principle. The hideogrometer (pronounced hide-oh-grom-eh-tur in English, and ee-day-oh-gro-meh-tair in Spanish) in effect is a device that measures the specific degree of obfuscation one must reach in order to avoid performing an unwelcome or thankless task. By feeding the hideogrometer any relevant data surrounding the questionable undertaking at hand, the user will then receive the corresponding plan of action to either avoid it or to conceal oneself such that someone else will be shanghaid for the job instead.

You may be elated to learn that this is one device that Leonardo did not invent.*/**

Steve Pulley
5/24/2017


* Subsequent to this writing, I have since learned that Leonardo da Vinci may in fact have had some concept of the hideogrometer seven centuries ago, albeit in a capacity rarely employed in modern times, except those who like to mess around with algorithms that flip and reverse words and letters, not to mention psychologists, teachers, and some parents who observe the phenomenon found on occasion in children just learning to write and others who suffer from certain kinds of dyslexia. Namely, he sometimes employed “mirror writing” in his work, i.e., writing backwards. While no one really knows why he used this odd technique, some theories opine that Leo may have been trying to make it harder for people to read his notes and steal his ideas; he was hiding his scientific ideas from the powerful Roman Catholic Church, whose teachings sometimes disagreed with what Leonardo observed; he was trying to prevent smudging: writing left handed from left to right was messy (the ink just put down would smear as his hand moved across it) — in other words, intentionally hiding his work by employing the same rationale behind the hideogrometer.
** Subsequent to the above subsequence, Keith Biesiada, eminent research scientist, historian, week-end hideogrometrist and professor of alchemy at the New Jersey School of Outre Applied Sciences, most kindly penned me the following note, which lends additional light to the origins, development and current status of the hideogrometer, as well as further elucidation of da Vinci’s contribution:
Steve,
That Leonardo was one righteous dude.  His original hideogrometer was made from steel from double-melted plowshares; the modern hideogrometer is composed of chromium.  At first it had no use other than as a template for alchemical transmutation into gold; a glorified widget in other terms.  Yet, unbeknownst to him, his alchemist’s license had expired because he failed to remit his yearly dues, but through no fault of his own as the statement had been sent with insufficient postage and hence was returned, unopened, to the Alchemist’s Guild offices in Bologna.  Still, no payee no transmutationee.  However Leonardo, who was a distant relative of McGyver, used his great bucket of imagination to conceive of its use as a measure of duty avoidance and actually sold one to Pope Alexander VI, who used it to excuse himself from abuse of office.
PS:  You’ve put a face on the hideogrometer.  Congratulations!  My own research hasn’t gotten that far.  I hope you plan to publish in the Journal of American Hideogrometry.  I had previously submitted a treatise on the subject to this site, which Diana [Prof. Biesiada’s wife and editor] dutifully read (The hideogrometer hadn’t been plugged in when she read it), and then claimed that she didn’t understand it.  This leads me to hypothesize that James Joyce may have owned a hideogrometer and in fact developed a heretofore unknown use as a recorder of cryptic prose.
Posted in Other Writings | 2 Comments

Sparring Partners

sparringpartnersAmelia Tiffwilder was eating breakfast when the doorbell rang. She stared down at her cereal bowl of corn flakes with a pout, wondering, if she answered the caller, whether or not the cereal would go soggy by the time she returned to the table. She hated soggy corn flakes.

“Who is it?” she called out sweetly, and dipped her spoon into the cereal bowl.

“Police.”

She turned her gaze to the door. What on earth would the police want with her?

“How do I know it’s the police?” she shouted as she spooned the cereal into her mouth.

There was a brief pause. “Ma’am, if you’ll come to the door and open it, you’ll know it’s the police.”

Amelia sighed. It probably was the police, but in today’s chaotic world it could also be a home invader disguised as the police for all she knew. She gazed sadly at her cereal bowl, placed the spoon down next to it, arose, and walked to the front door, but did not open it.

“What’s your badge number?” she said at the door. “I’ll call it in.”

“Ma’am, I just want to ask you a couple of questions about the disturbance last night.”

“Disturbance? What disturbance?”

“You didn’t hear a disturbance?”

“How would I? I was sound asleep?”

“But it was in the apartment directly above your own.”

“I sleep like the dead.”

This was not at all true. Amelia was a light sleeper, and she had been awakened by the disturbance, and not for the first time. Myriads of times. Her upstairs neighbors were notorious for their disturbances. They spent an inordinate amount of time stomping about upstairs, yelling at one another and screaming vile imprecations into their telephone, usually at other relatives, but also at non-relatives, and at outrageous hours of the morning or night. They comprised the most dysfunctional family Amelia had ever personally known. To her way of thinking, it seemed they took sport in getting on each other’s nerves. She had complained to the landlord more than once about their noise. Repeatedly, in fact. And to his credit, he repeatedly called their attention to this fact. And to their credit, they repeatedly apologized to her in person and begged her indulgence, pronouncing solemn oaths by all that’s holy to keep the volume down. To her credit, Amelia accepted their apologies with equanimity. But to nobody’s credit, they quickly forgot their noble intentions and continued to make noisy pests of themselves. To be fair, Amelia actually liked the entire family in spite of their ranting and raving. With her, at least, they were invariably polite and friendly, and she’d had many friendly encounters with the different members since their arrival a year before. It was just that they didn’t seem to like one another; either that, or they took simple pleasure in self-destruction. Amelia wasn’t sure which.

“I’d still like to ask you a few questions, ma’am.”

“Name and badge number first. Please.”

Amelia heard a couple of juicy swear words from the other side of the door, then a resigned sigh. “Bradford, Neil. Badge number seven-seven-three-four.”

“Than you. Wait a minute while I call the Sheriff’s Department.”

“Ma’am, I’m not with the Sheriff’s Department. I’m with the Police Department.”

“Oh? I thought we only had deputy sheriffs in this town.”

“No, ma’am. We only have police officers.”

“Are you sure? I don’t recall any men in blue roaming this neighborhood.”

More muffled swearing. “Ma’am, will you please just call in and confirm who I am?”

“Certainly.”

Amelia walked to her phone, paused, returned to the still closed door.

“Deputy Bradford?”

“That’s ‘Officer,’ ma’am. Deputies are with the Sheriff’s Department. Officers with the Police Department.”

“Very well. Officer Bradford?”

“Yes, ma’am?”

“Is it okay for me to call 9-1-1 to verify your name and badge number?”

“Yes, of course. Why do you ask?”

“Isn’t dialing 9-1-1 only for emergencies? This is not an emergency.”

Amelia heard mumbled epithets, and a mournful “Why me, God?”

“Yes, ma’am. You should call our Police Department number.”

“What would that be, Officer?”

“555-2677.”

“Mmm, just a minute. How do I know that’s a legitimate Police Department number?”

“What do you mean, ‘how do you know it’s legitimate?'”

“I’m just saying. If you’re not really who you say you are, maybe you’re just giving me a bogus phone number to fool me so I’ll open the door.”

Amelia thought she heard the man either choking or perhaps sobbing, she wasn’t quite sure which.

“Lady,” he articulated finally, “if I really was a bad guy and wanted to get into your apartment, I’d just shoot the damned lock off the damned door and march right in, don’t you think?”

“Well, I suppose that’s possible, officer — if that’s what you really are — but the gunshot would certainly be heard by other tenants, and they would call the real police.”

“Supposing that my service weapon had a silencer on it?”

“Well, if it did, then I’d know for sure you aren’t with law enforcement. I’ve never, ever heard even once of a police officer or a Sheriff’s deputy using a silencer.”

“Technically that’s true. In cases of forced entry, we normally break open the door with a tool, such as a prying tool, a ram, an axe.”

“That I did not know.”

“Trust me, it makes a lot of noise. Now will you kindly open the door — which is still very much intact, I might add, and will remain so I assure you. All I want from you is a little information about your neighbors, and then I’ll leave you in peace. I truly will.”

“Well, can’t you just ask me through the door? We seem to be communicating with one another quite clearly as it is.”

“Lady, if you don’t trust the police station’s phone number I gave you, why don’t you call 9-1-1 instead and ask about me?”

“Will they know that you are at my door?”

“Yes, ma’am, they will know. Just tell them my name and badge number and ask if I was dispatched to this address.”

Amelia glanced back toward the kitchen, sighed, turned back to the door and threw it open. The tall, harried-looking middle-aged man in uniform now standing before her stepped back, startled.

“That was quick,” he exclaimed, wide-eyed.

Amelia hesitated. “Well, if you want to know, I didn’t call after all.”

“You didn’t?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s quicker just to get this over with so I can return to breakfast before my cereal turns to mush. I really, really, really hate mushy corn flakes. So, what’s on your mind, officer?”

Steve Pulley
5/20/2017

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Satan Was in a Good Mood for a Monday

sataninagoodmoodFlossy Refsnyder had a dream at some dreadful pre-dawn hour of Monday morning that awoke her with a gasp and in a sweat. She sat bolt upright in bed, heart pounding. Her bedroom, though dimly lit with an electric candle, remained swathed in shadow. She heard no sound other than her moiled breathing and a cricket evidently suffering from jet lag chirping at off hours somewhere outside, or perhaps in her kitchen.

Flossy had dreamt of Satan, of all creatures, and Satan seemed to be in a pretty damn good mood for a Monday, which disturbed her enormously. Nobody had any business being in a good mood on Monday unless they were retired, on vacation, or had won the lottery. It was simply too bizarre. And for her, Mondays were particularly bad. It meant her sublime weekend was over and she had to get up and go back to work at a marketing and communications firm, considered one of the ten most boring jobs in the world. And now Satan had flaunted his jolly mood in the middle of her sleep, and on this of all days. It was simply too much.

Especially so, for since adolescence and throughout her life as an adult, Flossy had categorically denied, scorned, pooh-poohed and dismissed the existence of Satan, be it any day of the week, and most particularly Mondays. This blanket rejection of Satan, however, seemed more than a bit on the incongruent side and quite frankly puzzling to her friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances, given the fact that she happened to be an avowed advocate and avid hobbyist of cryptozoology. Or to be more precise, she spent most of her weekends and vacations in the study of and search for mythical animals and animals whose existence has not been proven. In other words, she ridiculed on the one hand Satan as an entity, but on the other she warmly embraced, in no particular order, centaurs, mermaids, dragons, harpies, unicorns, leucrottas, centicores, makaras, catoblepas, ao aos, djinn, aspidochelones, firebirds, griffins, satyrs, banshees, qilin, basilisks, doppelgängers, yetis, gumihos, and chupacabras, just to name a few. This was also a source of confusion to many who knew her, since some of these were not intrinsically animals, per se, but creatures of ambivalent species . . . even animal/humanoid/spirit smorgasbords, so to speak.

“Flossy,” opined some, “we love you, but you’re still a nut job.”

Why would she be dreaming of a Satan in a good mood, or in any mood at all for that matter, she wondered. Had he perpetrated a particularly good coup? Was he behind the recent cyberattack that was striking terror into the hearts and souls of the political, business and military world, not to mention all of social media? No, wait! There’s no such thing as Satan! Satan’s a myth!

Some of those who knew her enjoyed pulling her chain, however.

“Flossy, you’re being inconsistent.”

“What do you mean, inconsistent?”

“You say Satan is a myth, right?”

“I do indeed.”

“But all your pet griffins, dragons, big foots, nine-tailed foxes, and so on, are also myths.”

“No, wait. Not the same. Not. The. Same!”

“The devil’s work is never done, sweetie.”

“No devil! No Satan, I tell you!”

In Flossy’s dream, Satan, by the multifaceted cut of his habiliment, oddly resembled a monarch, a politician, a general, a prelate, a business tycoon, a trafficker, a taskmaster, and an exterminator all rolled into one. He stood, a benign smile upon his face, behind a large table with a glass top, on which sat a large globe of the world. Satan, in quiet contemplation, gently spun the orb with a finger, but then raised his eyes and looked at Flossy. His smile widened.

“Ah, Flossy Refsnyder, welcome, welcome,” he said. “I’ve been expecting you.”

“You have?” she replied.

“Oh, indeed I have.”

“Why?”

“Isn’t it obvious? I’ve been getting report after report from my minions about your claims that there is no Satan, that I don’t exist. Yet here I stand before you, in 3D and living color.”

“So I see. And now you’re telling me that you do. Exist, I mean.”

“That’s why I’m here . . . to congratulate you on your acuity, as well as to set you straight on a thing or two.”

“To congratulate me? Why would you do that?”

“I’ll get to that presently. First, however, I think I need to enlighten you about your studies of mythical animals and creatures.”

Flossy arched an eyebrow. “Oh? How so?”

“Seeking proof of their physical existence is all a monumental waste of time and energy. They do not now, nor ever did exist in the material world.”

Flossy arched both eyebrows. “They don’t . . . didn’t?”

“No, I’m afraid not, my dear. Trust me, it’s absolute drivel. But . . . they most certainly do and did in the imaginations, superstitions and just plain whoppers of those who conjured them up.”

Flossy in her dream felt appallingly crestfallen, deflated, sunken, abashed. Satan could be lying, of course, but she had the abominable sensation that he was speaking honestly. She believed him.

“And the second thing?” she squeaked after a significant pause to collect herself.

“Well, Flossy, I’ve got some more bad news for you.”

Flossy shivered, which was odd, considering that Satan’s home and headquarters were in Hellfireanddamnation.

“M-more bad news?” she whispered.

“I’m afraid so.”

“D-d-do you mean I-I’m d-d-doomed?”

“Darling girl, I can’t answer that. It all depends on you.”

“It does?”

“Of course.”

“What’s the bad news, then?”

“First, I’m not real.”

“Not real?” Her face lighted up with hope. “Then you admit it! But then that’s good news! I’ve always contended that Satan doesn’t exist.”

“True, there is no Satan — not the way you and others might think. But Satan does definitely exist.”

“Wait! Now you’re confusing me.”

“Allow me to explain. Satan, if you look at it in the proper light, is not some angel in disgrace cooped up in a hot cellar of fire and brimstone plotting general nastiness and mayhem for the sheer pleasure of it. No, no! Rather Satan is not but the incessant ego of man — yes, man! — relentlessly spewing stupid, self-centered, avaricious, power-seeking, despicable, ungenerous drool all over the world, 24/7, Monday through Sunday, turning a blind eye to each and every one of the moral, ethical, spiritual principles brought to mankind by the divine, God-sent spiritual leaders in every age for the purpose of transforming human society.”

Flossy blinked several times. “Really?”

“Yes, really. I’m just a representation, a metaphor, a trope of what’s in the hearts of men. I’m the non-entity that gets blamed for whatever trouble humans manage to get themselves into.”

“Oh, my. What should I do, then?”

“Well, for starts be kind. Be generous. Be understanding. Be loving. Be of service to others, to all of mankind. Be an example. Follow the Golden Rule. It exists in every religion that God has sent to man throughout history.”

“That doesn’t sound very much like Satan to me.”

“It’s not supposed to! Satan is the unremitting self. Become selfless, and Satan — poof! just like that — will disappear.”

Flossy Refsnyder eyed Satan for a long while, then nodded. “Okay, I think that makes real sense, and it vindicates my conviction that Satan is a sham. It’s been us all along.” She paused, then added, “I have to say, however, that I’m still put out about my cryptozoology studies being a washout.  You’re sure your not pulling my leg there?”

Satan bobbed his head. “I’m not pulling your leg.”

“Not even a measly jabberwocky?” she whined plaintively.

“Sorry.”

Flossy sighed in resignation. “Damn. Okay, then. But what am I going to tell everybody now? That I’m suddenly a sell-out?”

Satan shrugged.

“Ah, by the way,” she added, “why on earth are you dressed in that ridiculous outfit?”

Satan looked down at his uniform, then back at Flossy, smirking. “It’s your dream, baby, not mine. Now wake up and go about your business. Oh, wait, one more thing.”

“What?”

Satan gave her a wide, impish grin then. “Thanks for listening, Flossy Refsnyder. And on a Monday, no less.”

Steve Pulley
5/15/2017

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Widdle Biddle Diddle Fiddle

Note: This little tongue-in-cheek piece of nonsense was inspired
by a cheeky writing prompt: widdle biddle diddle fiddle.

widdlebiddlediddlefiddleWiddle biddle diddle fiddle.

Cute, right? You’d think that’s something out of Finnegans Wake, right? You know . . . Joyce, that Irish rogue who wrote incomprehensible, stream-of-consciousness baoise,* like Ulysses, Portrait of the Artist and, of course, Finnegans Wake? I mean the James Joyce who actually penned the word, or term, or exclamation, or some such misbegotten malarkey: “bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronn-tonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawn-toohoohoordenenthurnuk!”?

So the point I’m making is that someone — anonymously, audaciously — emailed me this peculiar note: “Steve: Widdle biddle diddle fiddle . . . in honor of James Joyce”.

In honor of James Joyce? Widdle biddle, diddle fiddle? I can’t for the life of me remember Joyce ever employing the words “widdle, biddle, diddle, fiddle” all together in any one book. I would have remembered, trust me. I mean, after all, who can possibly forget “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo . . .”¹ or ” . . . then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes”² or “What clashes here of wills gen wonts, oystrygods gaggin fishy-gods! Brekkek Kekkek Kekkek Kekkek! Koax Koax Koax! Ualu Ualu Ualu! Quaouauh! Where the Baddelaries partisans are still out to mathmaster Malachus Micgranes and the Verdons catapelting the camibalistics out of the Whoyteboyce of Hoodie Head. Assiegates and boomeringstroms”³? Who, I ask you? Surely not I! Each and every one committed to memory, welded to it like stainless to steel.

Widdle biddle diddle fiddle, indeed!

That said, the more important question remains: If I were to widdle on a biddle just to diddle away upon the fiddle, would I quibble over a faux Joycean scribble?

Steve Pulley
5/9/2017

* baoise = foolishness (Irish)
It just so happens that widdle, biddle, diddle, and fiddle are all legitimate words, albeit with various definitions. The above phrase in this case would translate, more or less: “If I were to pee on a blanket-roll holding one’s possessions just to procrastinate playing the violin, would I bicker over a fake Joycean scrawl?”

¹ Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
² Ulysses.
³ Finnegans Wake
Posted in Anecdotes | Leave a comment

The Trouble with Balthazar Beetlehugger

troublewithbalthazarbeetlehuggerThe trouble with Balthazar Beetlehugger — aside from his name, of course — lay in the fact that he was irretrievably lost and alone somewhere in the middle of The Great Widdlebiddlediddlefiddle Swamp. For you city slickers who’ve slicked nothing but cities your entire lives and don’t know a swamp from a romp at the Savoy, a swamp is low land that is seasonally flooded, and has more woody plants than a marsh and better drainage than a bog. A marsh, on the other hand, is low-lying wet land with grassy vegetation, and usually is a transition zone between land and water, while a bog is wet spongy ground of decomposing vegetation and has poorer drainage than a swamp; also, soil is unfit for cultivation but can be cut and dried and used for fuel. You might also be fascinated to know that the Brits informally refer to a ‘bog’ as a room or building equipped with one or more toilets . . . just in case you happen to be touring the UK and need to know that kind of slangy information.

Since we’re about the misfortune of Balthazar Beetlehugger, it may interest the reader to first know a little something about the name Balthazar, a rather uncommon name in our times, and currently ranked 6,817 in popularity in the US. As every choir boy knows, early Christians assigned names to the three Magi (“wise men from the east”) who visited the baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. True, they are not mentioned by name in the Bible, but it only seems fit and proper to come up with some kind of appellation, considering their importance in the Nativity. Balthazar is one of them, and according to the website 20000-names.com, the name appears to derive from “Ba’al protect the king,” Ba’al, a Semitic name, meaning “lord, master” or “possessor.” And the other two wise men: Casper, meaning “treasure bearer”, and Melchior, “king of light”.

There are a number of theories about the Magi and their origins, but one of the more fascinating beliefs is that they were actually Zoroastrian priests from Persia – back in those days part of the Parthian Empire — who, following the Zoroastrian prophecy of a bright star in the heavens that would announce the birth of a new Messenger of God, subsequently had set out from their native land to Judea to pay homage to the Christ child.

The origins of the surname Beetlehugger are more obscure, though some phytologists postulate that it comes from the pepper seed of the betel palm of Southeast Asia and means “betel tree-hugger”, contending that Beetlehugger is either a variant or quite possibly a misspelling of Betelhugger. Other scholars, these historians, argue that, on the contrary, Beetlehugger obviously derives from the Lenni Lenape or Delaware Indians of New Jersey and means hugger of beetles. This latter theory, they claim, is supported by the fact that The Great Widdlebiddlediddlefiddle Swamp, in which Balthazar Beetlehugger had lost himself, lay in northern New Jersey between Interstate Highways 287, 78, and State Highway 24 – former stomping grounds of the Lenni Lenape Indians – or sloshing grounds, as the case may be.

However, this is all a mere digression, and not particularly germane to Balthazar Beettlehugger’s interests, who, it turns out, was not a Christian at all, or even the adherent of any of the other world’s major religions, and instead had inclined himself more toward agnosticism, which for the faithful is considered tantamount to fence sitting . . . except for the fact that he was presently stuck in a swamp, said swamp which had so far shown him not a single beetle or betel to hug nor, for that matter, any sign of gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. His dire state of affairs, as a result, was beginning to weaken his agnostic resolve on the outside chance of the actuality of a rescuing God Who might, after all, bail him out of this bloody fix so that he could return once again to a more comfortable, noncommittal skepticism of a Divine Creator in the respite of his home. This attitude did not place him in any favorable light on either side of the proverbial fence, nor, for that matter, atop it.

So here he was, Balthazar Beetlehugger The Wishy-Washy, utterly lost and presumably alone in The Great Widdlebiddlediddlefiddle Swamp, who’d initially broken down in tears whimpering “I want my mamma” to no avail, now making pleas for salvation for an Entity he was not convinced existed.

“O God, if I could only do things over again. If-if you would only take pity on this poor, wayward soul, I promise . . . I solemnly promise never to wander into this godforsaken swamp ever again! Cross my heart and hope to die.”

Although this story is in no way intended to be an object lesson for recalcitrant recidivists ensnared in the quagmire of disbelief, as of this writing no one has yet seen hide nor hair of the man since.

Steve Pulley
5/10/2017

Posted in Stories | 2 Comments

Blender Fender Bender Befriender

blenderfenderbenderMarvella Kalesworthy knew things were destined to go awry that day the blender went berserk.

“It’s a sign,” she harbingered.

Marvella, who now lived alone, spoke to herself a lot since her breakup with Gastón Kalesworthy, her erstwhile husband. She fully intended to legally return to her née, which was Winglesome, as soon as their divorce became final, but that was still a few weeks away. It was not en enviable surname, she had no illusions to the contrary, but as long as it wasn’t Kalesworthy anymore, she did not care. On the face of this, their separation had evidently been far from an amicable one.

“The bane of my existence,” she’d spouted periodically to her mother on the phone, to her friends both in person and on the phone, but mainly to herself. “Good riddance.” Sometimes she would also weep out her frustration and self-rage for having stuck it out with the beast for as long as she had.

And now a thrashing smoothie tsunami was about to add splash to her woes.

Upon firing up her blender — a 2016 Brexit Wizard XL Majestic — loaded to the proverbial gills with a breakfast fruit concoction of sliced banana, pineapple, kiwi fruit, frozen cranberries, papaya, roasted unsalted almonds, and a healthy spurt of tart cherry juice — the appliance began to vibrate violently. Marvella, startled, at first jumped backward with a shriek, but realizing a second or two later that that was not enough to appease the beast, she reached over to hit the off-switch, which adroitly darted away from her outstretched finger. The machine bounced along the counter, first retreating from her, keeling from one side to another, then forward in attack mode, a bit like a toreador teasing a raging bull . . . or in Marvella’s case, vice versa.

“Damn you, hold still!” she bellowed at the machine, which paid little heed to her straits during its tethered dance on the wild side. The brim, the overflow, and the messy counter were not to yet be appeased.

It was only after several feints and parries that she finally managed to grab hold of and yank the plug from its wall socket, bringing the blender to a stop, miraculously upright, though still having spilled two-thirds of its contents all over the counter, several parts of Marvella and on Marvella’s once clean kitchen linoleum floor.

“Crap,” she growled.

Two minutes later, Marvella found herself on the kitchen linoleum floor as well,  flat on her back staring up at the ceiling. She was no match for the lubricious spill of sliced banana, pineapple, kiwi, frozen cranberries, papaya, roasted unsalted almonds, and a healthy spurt of tart cherry juice — an unrestrained amount of which now painted her in all the colors of its fruity rainbow.

Marvella picked herself off the floor — well, crawled painfully away on all fours, careful not to slip again – and moved to the breakfast niche out of harm’s way, there to lick her wounds, or to be more precise, lick gobs of smoothie off her fingers, arms and blouse.

“Mmm, not bad,” she muttered, in spite of her sloppy state of affairs, with a certain bitter satisfaction, licking her lips. “Not bad at all.”

That’s when the doorbell rang. Crap!

“Who is it?” she shouted. She heard a muffled reply and got to her feet. “Who?”

Whoever it was, now shouted back. “Uh, Freddie Pangborne!”

Marvella stood then and headed for the front door, frowning. Freddie Pangborne? Where have I heard that name before? Freddie Pangborne? Do I know any Freddie Pangborne?

“I don’t know any Freddie Pangborne,” she called through the door.

“I know. But if I may have a word?”

Marvella frowned some more. She stood at the door pondering, but did not open it just yet. She’d read about the upsurge of home invaders invading homes, raping and pillaging. It seemed to her that we’d returned to Viking times and their plundering hordes. Maybe this guy was one of them . . . a home invader intent on rape and pillage, though not necessarily a Viking. One could never be too trustful about what was going on outside one’s home these days. Or, for that matter, what was going on inside one’s own home, thanks to her blender.

“What can I do for you?”

“Do you happen to own a silver-colored Chevy Beretta with a rusting roof in front of your house?”

“It’s not for sale.” Marvella paused, reconsidering. “Well, maybe it could be if the price is right.”

“I’m not exactly interested in buying it. But I wanted you to know that I accidentally bumped into it a couple of minutes ago, just in case you wanted to contact your insurance company.”

“What!”

Marvella yanked open the door.

Startled by the woman’s sudden appearance, Pangborne reared back a step and nearly fell off the porch. Marvella gave him a quick look, decided by his dismayed expression that he probably wasn’t out to rape and pillage after all, then rushed past him to her parked car at the curb in front of her house. Arms akimbo, she studied the damage on the left front fender. After shaking her head, groaning, woe-is-me-ing, and muttering a few imprecations better left unrepeated, she returned to her visitor who was now standing nervously in her driveway.

He gave her a queer look, but then said, “I-I’m so sorry about your car.”

Marvella regarded him a moment, rolled her eyes, then sighed. “Me too. What happened?”

“Believe it or not, but a dog suddenly wandered into the street right in front of me, and so I wouldn’t run him over I swerved. Unfortunately, I got your car instead.”

She frowned. “A dog? What kind of dog?”

“I don’t know the breed, but he was about yay-high, and by its waddle I’d say overfed . . . short-haired, brown with dark spots, and, um, perhaps suicidal.”

“Suicidal? What makes you think that?”

“Well, believe it or not, it seemed downright intentional. You see, he sat down in the middle of the street right in front of me. Didn’t even try to get out of the way. He seemed almost hoping I’d mow him down.”

“Ah-hah! Okay, that’d have to be my neighbor Mrs. Breckenridge’s dog then, Maxime.”

“Really? How so?”

“I can’t prove it, of course, but I’m pretty convinced that Maxime’s fed up with life . . . fed up with Mrs. Breckenridge in particular. It’s not the first time he’s pulled this stunt. The woman thinks he’s human, and he doesn’t want any part of it, I’m sure of it. That dog has definitely got a death wish. He wants out . . . and in a bad way.”

“Seriously?”

“That’s my take on it.”

He stared at Marvella quizzically for a moment, and so she stared back. The man wasn’t exactly handsome, but on the other hand he also wasn’t at all hard to look at. And moreover, he definitely did not look or act at all like her ex-to-be. Hmm. Marcela paused, then shook her head violently. What on earth am I thinking!

“Uh . . . ,” he began.

“Yes?”

“Excuse me for being inquisitive, but have I caught you at a bad moment, or perhaps a most enticingly provocative one?”

Marvella rounded her eyes. “Sorry? What do you mean?”

“Well, you seem to have either had a contretemps or perhaps enjoyed a romp at a food fight.”

He pointed, and Marvella glanced down at her blouse and skirt, then at her hands, arms and legs, all splashed or speckled with her scotched smoothie breakfast. She looked back at her visitor.

“Uh, well, I wasn’t exactly expecting company this early in the day, you see. And it was a contretemps. With a blender. You might say a misunderstanding on my part of the dynamics of fruits of mixed properties caught between swiftly rotating blades.”

“Ah.”

Marvella offered him a tenuously innocent expression of a question mark. A faint grin upraised the corners of Freddie’s mouth in return.

“What?” she said, beginning to smile.

“Please don’t think me cheeky, but I can’t help but say that it is so splendid to see you today.”

“Like a splattered fruit salad?” she replied pleasantly.

Maybe things today were destined to ‘go awry’ in a better way than Marvella had originally harbingered.

Steve Pulley
5/7/2017

Posted in Stories | 2 Comments

National Poetry Month – April 2017

Somebody decided that April was a good time to have, what else? National Poetry Month, of course. And so I, ever-abiding sheep that I am, decided to give it a shot. Here are my 30 poems, one for each day of April.

A pre-April warm-up: 3/15/2017

A Dollop of Yogurt

A dollop of yogurt
when plopped in a bowl
gives cranberries or fajitas
an extra-live spurt.


4/1/2017

I thought I’d start off my participation in this year’s National Poetry Month with the following poem about, what else? April flowers. Okay, granted the refrain is “April showers bring May flowers”, but since Poetry Month isn’t in May, I figured I could take a little “poetic” license…

April Flowers

The flowers of April are varied and many:
Daffodils, Rhododendrons, Azaleas aplenty;
Trillium, Spicebush, Viburnum in abundance.
I could mention several others
citing none in redundance.

But there’s one April flower you’ll quite likely not find
in any garden or catalog that springs to your mind.
Not on a vine, or a bush, certainly not on a shrub.
I refer, of course to April Flowers,
exotic dancer at Tropicana Club.

Juanita Jean Hodges, aka April Flowers,
plotting with mobsters to frame the sheriff at wee hours,
crawled into his hotel bed to feign an affair,
fibbing in court later that they were a pair.

Promised by thugs a Puerto Rico trip afterhours,
Juanita thus sullied the month of April flowers.

Note: This piece came about in a rather peculiar way. I wanted a list of flowers in April to include in the poem, so I checked out Wikipedia, but the entry I found turned out to be something quite different than what I expected, which “inspired” me to change the direction of my initial intent. For particulars see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Flowers

4/2/2017

I Used to Answer the Telephone

I used to answer the telephone
when only friends and family called.
But these days only telemarketers
and scammers abound
to leave me financially unsound.

It’s now gotten so bad that I screen all my calls
and only listen for a voice that I know.
If I’m home and it’s yours, I’ll shout heigh-ho!
And if not, don’t expect a hooray…
because, you jerk, without any doubt
I’ll be far, ever far away.


4/3/2017

Napping on Sundays

Napping on Sundays is a formidable task,
there’s no need at all to ask why…
The answer is blue as the sky.
For the moment you doze the telephone rings,
or someone’s at the door with a role
to salvage your soul, conduct a poll,
or sell you maybe some barbecued wings.
Which is why napping on Sundays
is a loss from the start.
So why lie on the sofa and try for a snooze,
when you know in your heart
you’ll be singing the wide-awake blues?


4/4/2017

Imminent, Immanent, Eminent

I get so confused with the homophone,
especially those not quite of the full-blown.
Take imminent, immanent, and eminent.
These three make me want to get penitent,
but probably not discriminant…
maybe just the eliminant
of two.


4/5/2017

Kid on a Bicycle

A morning stroll around the block
is more an adventure than a simple walk.
It takes me into a different realm
of simple pleasures that overwhelm.
Sometimes it’s a flower, a tree, or, childlike,
a little kid riding a bike.

The birds, the flowers, the gardens bright,
the trees along the streets a sight
to warm the heart, console the soul,
find me fair cause to therein extol.
Be that as it may, there’s naught quite like
a kid pumping her way to school on a bike.

Note: Actually, mornings I sometimes see a dutiful father on a bicycle taking his tiny daughter to school. They whip along the sidewalk (in the street it’s too dangerous), the little girl holding onto her dad for dear life, tucking in her legs so she doesn’t get clipped while passing close by telephone poles. Somehow the scene is very charming to me.

4/6/2017

Schmaltzy Love Songs

Schmaltzy love songs
make my heart flutter,
my legs melt like butter,
and if that weren’t enough,
throw me in the gutter
when they finally utter
their sad so longs.

Note: This one came to me while listening to music on the radio during my morning walk, when the artist began singing “I Will Wait for You”, the English version of “Je ne pourrai jamais vivre sans toi”, a song from the French musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

4/7/2017

Woe the Lowly Table Napkin

Woe the lowly table napkin.
Not its aristocratic linen kin,
nor the fancy crêpe paper four-ply kind
with ornate colored flowery design
that inspire lips dabbing Chateaubriand
drippings with ostentatious grandstand.
Rather that supermarket cheapo
one-ply, skid row so-so
deinked, bleached white,
nondescript pattern trite
implying texture,
a mere pretexture
to wipe away a single smear,
a simple tear, a sneer,
then wadded up and cast away,
forgotten in some alleyway.


4/8/2017

The Mosquito

They’re after your blood,
which is something to brood,
to nourish their eggs and to keep alive.
And when they’ve had their fill…high five!
Some are so small you’d think they’re gnats,
some so big you’d swear they’re bats…
A deplorable creature, this here mosquito.
The Alaskan ones, I’m told, could even
cart off your brat sister Charito.


4/9/2017

Brain Dead at 9

Cranking out poems,
one every day
makes April seem evil
in a versical way.

Before when I woke up
my mind was at peace;
all was well with the world.
Today it’s surcease.

On this ninth day of April
nothing comes to my head.
I struggle for naught,
I’ve gone poetically brain dead.


4/10/2017

Cupidity

He swaggered about,
all round and stout,
the man with the cane,
with gold on his mind in the main…
a bane that surely drove him insane,
with no one to blame
but himself.
For the covetous joke
of avarice and greed,
as upon such acquisitive breed,
in the end still left him both
buried and broke.


4/11/2017

Haiku

yesterday, today,
tomorrow speak of flowers
on an april day

Note: Brunfelsia pauciflora is a species of flowering plant in the family Solanaceae, the nightshades. It has several common names, among which includes yesterday-today-and-tomorrow, the reason being that it blooms purple with a white throat, then turns lavender and then white.

4/12/2017

Insomnia

Tossing and turning,
itching and burning
seems like an odd
way to sleep.
But the way that it chances
under these circumstances
is not having a clue how
to count sheep.


4/13/2017

My Fair Lady Revisited

I’ve grown accustomed to English words
from the best to very worst,
from chimes to cacophony,
dawn to crunch, mist and alimony,
they make the day a lullaby:
golden, hush, gripe or apple pie.
Phlegmatic though some be,
luminous, plump or treachery,
spoken by a plutocrat or pauper
each word’s still an eye-popper,
I’ve grown accustomed to English verse,
be it in a Rolls Royce or a hearse,
I’ve grown accustomed…
to best…and worst.

Note: This poem (or, if you will, peculiar song) came about this morning while perusing The Book of Lists by David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace and Amy Wallace (1977). Two lists in this fascinating, entertaining book are the basis of the above piece, to wit: Wilfred J. Funk’s 10 most beautiful words in the English language (Chimes, Dawn, Golden, Hush, Lullaby, Luminous, Melody, Mist, Murmuring, Tranquil) and the 10 worst-sounding English words, based on a poll taken in August, 1946, by the National Association of Teachers of Speech (Cacophony, Crunch, Gripe, Jazz, Phlegmatic, Plump, Plutocrat, Sap, Treachery). Obviously, these lists are very subjective, and, alas, I was unable to fit all of them into my poem (though substituted a few with others of my own).

4/14/2017

Excuses for Not Writing Today’s Poem

A walk around the block
in the morning at eight o’clock
works up an appetite.
Breakfast of turkish delight,
granola, banana, and papaya,
not exactly jambalaya.
Brew a pot of coffee
but with an odd taste of toffee.
Turn on then the pc beast
only to see it transiently deceased.
Ah, only an update to move it along…
to play new solitaire and mahjong?
Achh, an anti-virus warning,
wishing me all’s well and good morning.
I check my e-mail inbox…
digressions from the boondocks.
I ready myself for a poem,
Let’s see now, what rhymes with phloem?
Egad! Only jeroboam!?
The phone then rings…my niece!
“Julie, what’s up! A caprice?”
“Nope, no school, today’s Good Friday.
Cleaning branches, leaves away.”
She shares the call with her dog Bella,
and passing neighbors, Jim and Prunella.
Our chats are long and newsy,
until my bladder shouts jacuzzi.
I hang up, relieve myself, cry ahh!
Then go fix lunch, ham on rye..uh.
Halfway through my phone rings thrice.
It’s my friend Ray, of Texan paradise,
on his way to work a hundred miles away,
but keen to jaw along the way.
And that is why, my friends, I say
I won’t be writing verse today.


4/15/2017

When You Begin to Suspect You’re Going Senile

Putting my socks on in the morning,
I found my undies dumped on the floor.
Makes you wonder then where the heck you were
during the night before.


4/16/2017

Steve, You’re a Pill

Pills, pills, pills, pills!
Oh, I forgot capsules, tablets, gels
and, of course, more and still more pills!
For the heart, for the head,
for the gut, liver, morning, noon and before bed.
Well, at least there’s one thing nice:
no more mustard plaster or damn poultice.
But still…
So many pills?
They say I have a fatty liver,
a loose or clogged up bowel.
A sinus arrhythmia makes me quiver,
for which I might run afoul.
I’ve got a bummed-up toe and thumb,
eczema on my back.
So they tell me, don’t be dumb,
take your pills, more pills…
by the packet, by the sack!


4/17/2017

Little Baby Barn Smells

How shall I love thee,
Little Baby Barn Smells,
when thou hast bathed
nary a drop this week?

You exaggerate, dear Dad,
a bare five days have passed…
six at peak.

Note: When but a wee child and wont to return home after sweaty, boisterous play outside, my father used to refer to me and/or one of my siblings as “Little Baby Barn Smells”.

4/18/2017

Writing an R-Rated Sci-Fi Fantasy for Harlequin Romances

Fleshing out her novel
in a most peculiar way,
Maxine drove herself to spittle
for what she had to say.
Clapping meat upon the written bones
made her drivel on and on,
penning words of love uncivil
among a gang of ill-bred clones.


4/19/2017

Last Night I Dreamt of María

Last night I dreamt of María,
María Juchazara.
I saw her last in ’95,
but I don’t think I said good-bye.
She may be dead by now;
her husband already gone for years.
But there she was in a couple’s
house I chanced upon
while hiking God knows where
in some far off village.
I’d lost my way,
which is not unusual
in my dreams.
I traipsed across their front lawn
and stopped to ask for
directions, also God knows where.
The man asked me in,
no doubt curious about my trek,
introduced me to his wife.

And in the background
stood María,
María Juchazara,
from two decades ago.
She was much taller than I remembered,
more reserved, almost regal,
a far cry from yesteryear,
when she measured no more than four foot five,
maybe less,
and dressed in somber black,
looked dead serious…
when she wasn’t laughing,
wasn’t teasing playfully.
I cried out, María Juchazara!
and she stared at me surprised,
a spark of recognition in her eyes.

But in the introductions
with the couple, María slipped away,
slipped away
and never once said hello,
never once good-bye.

Note: Most curious that I should dream of María Juchazara quite out of the blue, and particularly in the way described in the above poem. She was a Quechua Indian who, together with her husband Manuel, lived in Cochabamba, Bolivia. They were caretakers of a local institute where I stayed for a number of months when I first arrived in that country in 1968. Both María and Manuel soon became friends, and both had wonderful senses of humor, which I found to be a fairly common trait among the Quechuans I came in contact with during my years in Bolivia. They found my broken Spanish amusing, though their own wasn’t all that much better than mine, their native language being Quechua, so we had ample occasion to tease one another.

4/20/2017

Last Resort

A willful child
in the wild
is seldom mild,
but may, beguiled,
turn reconciled
with a kind word, a plea,
but most of all a sweet!
A sweet shall not be reviled.
But if even so–God forbid a swat
upon the bum old-styled!–
as a last resort a whisper smiled
in the child’s ear,
“My little buccaneer,
hear me if you won’t behave,
I’ll pull up stakes
and drop you in a grizzly’s cave.”

Disclaimer: Just to be clear, this is merely a tongue-in-cheek poem, not a loosely veiled admission or endorsement. I do not boost bon-bons, blows, or bears to charm challenging children, no matter how horrendous they may be. Well, maybe bears… 😉

4/21/2017

Okay, the following piece is a poetic mishmash, and indubitably a hodgepodge and mingle-mangle rhyme scheme as well, but it’s a true-life adventure that happened back in the 1950s, so I am, to pardon the pun, taking a good deal of poetic license here.

How I Nearly Lost My Brother Down a Hole

There’s a park called Standish Hickey
up near northern California’s coast,
a campground in a redwood forest
where tree stumps can be dark and tricky.

Many years ago, when I was
no more than ten years old,
and all a-quiver,
my family took a trip along Route 101
and landed there just outside Legget,
along the South Fork Eel River.

We arrived there long past sunset…
past midnight, in fact, no moon, pitch black.
We set up camp on that dark eve,
and jumped into our respective sack,
too tired to sweat or fret.

Next morning we awoke,
found ourselves amid a grove
of giant redwood trees
stretching highwards such
that looking up too much
I thought my neck would crack,
if I so much did sneeze.

After a campfire breakfast,
(in truth it was a Coleman stove),
brother Dave and I set out
to inspect the grove…
and before long found ourselves
a redwood tree stump laced with moss,
eight foot high, ten feet across.

“Let’s climb up,” cried brother Dave,
always keen for any death-defying feat.
“I’m too short,” I reasoned, not so brave.
“No sweat; I’ll boost you up,” said he.
And reluctantly, I crawled upon his back,
and on his shoulders put my feet.

Once atop the stump I breathed a sigh,
both of relief and a little bit of triumph,
to be standing on a redwood stump so high.
Then I saw the hole.
At the center of the stump
a gaping hollow there did loom,
and for me it could only spell one thing:
doom.

Then brother Dave was by my side,
peering into the tree stump tunnel.
“Far out!” cried he. Or back in those days
something allied, like “Wicked!”,
“Cool!”, “Bitchin’!”, or “Rad!”
Whatever he said, it meant he was glad
to see the redwood tree funnel.

“I wonder how deep it goes,” he mused.
For my part, I was not so enthused.
“Looks like cobwebs, spiders, cockroaches,”
warned I, already keen to leave.
“All more reason to see what crouches
therein, brother Steve.”

And down he went, until out of sight,
grunting, grasping, sliding, rasping,
giving me a fright.
“Come back, dear brother,” I implored.
Of course, to which he quite ignored.

Then all went silent for a long while,
until I could stand it not a minute more.
“Dave? ‘You all right?” I cried,
peering scared to death into the maw
of that tree stump crocodile.

“I’m stuck,” he called out at last.
“The sides are slick as soap to grab.
Run back to camp and get a rope,
but don’t tell Mom and Dad,
or surely all hell will be forecast!”

I somehow scrambled down the tree,
but how could I comply?
How could a kid my age climb back
alone a tree stump eight feet high?
Ergo, no way could I heed his plea.

I ratted out my brother Dave,
crying to our dad the sad, sad tale.
Another camper lent us rope
and after two attempts did fail,
they extracted my dear disheveled bro,
no worse for wear, and raring
for another road to pave!

Note: Seriously, I was so scared I’d lost my beloved brother down that tree stump hole that even today, 60-odd years later, when I think about it I want to weep.

4/22/2017

You Don’t Actually Have to Go to Mars

You don’t have to go to the planet Mars
and leave behind the scars
to know its rugged terrain,
at least not if you’re in your seventies
and you still have half a brain.

Just roll up your sleeve
and adjust your bifocals,
and you’ll see more topography
than all the wannabe yokels
who yearn for the six-month
red planet leave.

There on your hand, your arm,
your elbow, your fingers
are more tell-tale wrinkles,
rocks, rills, valleys, periwinkles
than you’ll ever find by a Martian freighter
to Olympus Mons or Cassini Crater.


4/23/2017

Bus Ride to Uncía

The bus ride to Uncía in nineteen sixty-nine
wasn’t the lark that I’d had quite in mind.
The Andean town full of alleged restless miners
had oft been accused a hot bed of leftist liners.
Fear still ran rampant because of El Ché,*
though his death over a year ago was no longer hearsay.
Insurgency of rebels still filled government heads,
whose paranoia was focused on takeovers by Reds.
Police stops were frequent on well-traveled routes,
checking for contraband and insurgents thereabouts.
These increased delays incited mumbled protest
among passengers keen on arriving home for some rest.
Near the end of the ride we were stopped yet once more,
and a carabinero well-armed attended the front door.
As he moved down the bus aisle to luggage oversee,
his eyes at long last rested on little old me,
sitting near the back like an out-of-place gringo.
What he saw instead was…Cuban guerilla, by jingo!
His hackles aroused, he shouted, “Who is this!”
Exacting demands that something was amiss.
My Spanish being still bad, I stuttered all aflutter,
my tongue for some reason had turned into melted butter.
All passenger eyes turned toward me (the sentry’s fuss),
when suddenly an Indian woman seated to my left commenced to cuss:
“You! You call yourself a guard, you disgraceful rascal?
Jumping on this poor man like a cowardly jackal?
Well, let me tell you, so-called macho with a gun,
this innocent young man happens to be my stepson!”
All eyes in the bus turned incredulous at my “stepmother”,
gaped at her, then at me, back to the guard, and then one another.
Then shrugging en masse at last, they began to shout:
“He’s her stepson, you jerk, her stepson, so get out! Get out!”
The guard, now himself much frightened at the crowd’s irate clamor,
retreated, jumped off the bus, then waved us away with a stammer,
and off we went, laughing, cheering all, our spirits one with another.
And as for me, I gave a grateful hug to my savior Indian stepmother.

Note: We all arrived safely in Uncía, exhausted from the trip but in the best of spirits, and after thanking again that wonderfully resourceful lady, confident now that I was going to enjoy Bolivia to the max, I made my way to the home of friends. By the way, that delightful woman actually declared that I was her son-in-law, not her stepson, but it was simply easier this way to rhyme.
*Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara was captured and summarily executed in the tropics of Bolivia in 1967, almost exactly a year before I arrived in the country, but a feeling of uncertainty about a communist insurgency persisted long after.

4/24/2017

A Vietnam Story With a Smelly Ending

As a medic in a company
that supported fighting groups,
I was sometimes sent to battle grounds
where we’d treat our wounded troops.

One place I’ll always remember
when we fell under fierce attack,
I think it was September,
late at night, a place then called Phu Cat.

While mortars fell and bullets chirked
and choppers took to flight,
the rest of us ran for cover
awaiting for a fight.

As I leaped into my foxhole,
I nearly had a fit,
when I found that our Mess sergeant
had changed my refuge
into his garbage pit!

Note: True story! After the attack, my companions would not let me return to our tent and bed until I washed away the stinky grime.

4/25/2017

Descansos

Los descansos de los gansos mansos
se hacen en remansos
al no sufrir arremansos.

Here’s the English translation to the above Spanish play on words:

The reposes of gentle geese
take place in quiet backwaters
so not to suffer setbacks (or chills).


4/26/2017

Gullibility

The troublelibity
with gullibility
is you can’t tell the
difference between truthibility
and naivetidy,
thereby transforming credibility
into a liability.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

4/27/2017

Passer domesticus Excessiveness

There’s a sparrow
outside my door,
somewhere hidden in
my lemon tree,
whose sole purpose
seems to be
to drive me batty with its
ceaseless cheep, cheep, cheep,
and not a more upbeat
chim-chim-cheree.


4/28/2017

Back Pain Remedy

While laying in pain on my back today,
and looking straight up at the ceiling,
I watched some floaters, two spiders,
and a fly pass by,
and wondered what on earth
they might be feeling.

The floaters, of course, I could quite ignore,
being nothing but muscae volitantes.
The fly and the spiders however might amuse,
though in numbers they seemed a bit scanty.

But these three alas soon skittered away,
now only floaters were left to entertain me.
And so I rolled my eyes this way and that,
thus swirling them like ocean debris.

After five minutes of this
I felt something amiss,
and I struggled to stand up thereupon.
I stretched and I wiggled,
and then I grinned and I giggled,
for my back pain, by George, was quite gone!


4/29/2017

The Penultimate Day of National Poetry Month Could Turn Ugly

What do you do on April Twenty-ninth,
the penultimate day of the month,
when you can’t rhyme a line
with ‘poem’ or ‘month’
but phloem, jeroboam,
millionth and youngth?

It’s aggravating enough the first
twenty-eight days to traverse
writing something witty or terse…
but approaching the end,
and rounding the bend,
is like wringing dark matter
out of our universe!

Stop your whining, people cry,
you’re making us die
with your poetic palaver and rhyme.
Rather do something delicious,
or better, make it malicious,
just as long as it’s prosaic crime.


4/30/2017

Senryū

A whiz-bang finish
for Poetry Month I wished
instead rallied knish

Note: I discovered senryū a while back while reading up about haiku. Although they are constructed similarly, haiku tend to be themes of nature and serious; senryū on the other hand incline toward human foibles and are often cynical or darkly humorous. Here’s another senryū I attempted:

Sparse hair fluffed and coiffed
though may enshroud balding pate
hides not shifty eyes

Steve Pulley
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