Sunday, January 21, 2018

16 Bums

(Written in 2015. Apologies to Tennessee Ernie Ford)

Some say the election pulls us out of the mud;
That change we can believe starts with new blood.
You might suspect that smart leaders grow on trees
Shake a few in autumn, and they fall like leaves.

But there’s sixteen bums, what do we get
Another day dumber and deeper in debt
Vapid, narcissistic, downright rude
No matter what they tell us we’re still screwed

It was such a sad mornin' when the sun didn't shine
Some claimed it was natural just to avoid the fines
Fact be told: they gambled and lost on clean coal
And the pit boss said "Well, that’s how we roll."

So there’s sixteen bums, what do we get
Another day dumber and deeper in debt
Pandering promises, the absence of shrewd
No matter what they tell us we’re still screwed

Truth was born one morning, it was drizzling rain
Fighting and trouble are its middle name
Struggling with the message, truth remains blurred
Because it takes a clear network just to be heard

Yeah, there’s sixteen bums, what do we get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Alternative promises but they’re glued to crude
No matter what they tell us we’re still screwed

If you see truth comin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't a-get you
Then the left one will

Man, there’s sixteen bums, what do we get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Alternative promises but they’re glued to crude
No matter what they tell us we’re still screwed

New Orleans — First Day In Town

I recall my school – the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – winning the men’s national basketball championship in 1982 in the Superdome. I happened to be in New York City that evening,  with a group of four Tar Heel fans who’d followed that magical season, sitting in the same chairs, wearing the same outfits and drinking tons of Miller Lite.

Carolina returned in 1993 to the Superdome where it beat Michigan, and by then, I was living in Cary and had not an alcoholic beverage since June of 1991.

Fast forward to October 2011. A writer’s workshop in New Orleans provided enough cover for Ruth (my wife) and I to head west from N.C. Our two-segment flight stopped in Orlando to unload a throng of Disney worshipers and disciples, some them of barely three feet tall with Mickey Mouse luggage and T-shirts, chattering, giggling, perhaps wondering if what they imagined would be real.

I sat at the back of the plane and shared their sense of anticipation. But my thoughts were aimed at a city that I knew first from a Johnny Horton song,

In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip.
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.

When we decided to visit Louisiana, I ventured onto Amazon and purchased an armload of books about New Orleans that focused on history, voodoo, food, and music. I learned a little bit about the Mississippi River, Creole vs. Cajun, and Marie Laveau. I wanted to see the bayous and meet some “characters,” and eat my weight in gumbo.

After we picked up the Avis rental at the Louis Armstrong airport, where there is free wifi, we drove east on 1-10 to the Poydras Street exit at the Superdome. Took a left on Camp and a right on Canal. And there we were at our downtown hotel – Marriott. Luckily the gentleman at the hotel desk was able to put us in the river tower on the 39th floor where we had a view of the Mississippi as it wrapped itself around the front edge of downtown. It was a stunning view that included the bridges to Algiers, Harrah’s, the western tip of Decatur Street, and lots and lots of river.

That evening, we trudged east on Decatur Street. Okay. Ruth, who is a hiker with rubber knees and shopper’s purpose, marched, while I sputtered along reminiscent of a sketchy coffee pot getting the job done but taking its time. It was hot in New Orleans on a Thursday late afternoon. We passed the House of Blues and a variety of shops with Cajun music, t-shirts, and questionable dreams. Up ahead, we saw the CafĂ© Du Monde for the first time on the opposite side of the street, where the green and white canopy and outdoor chairs faced the artists and buskers that enhance Jackson Square.

Two street magicians slowed us down, but my urge to find Coop’s Place overruled sleight of hand antics and staged deceit with matches and playing cards – gumbo was calling. Finally, just across Decatur from the New Orleans version of Margaritaville, we spotted the doors to our first taste of paradise.

As touted and promised, Coop’s was one of those tiny spaces crammed with flavor and character, a mixture of green tourists and tanned locals listening to excellent music while waiting for an early dinner. We ordered the Coop’s Sampler, which included gumbo, shrimp creole, a piece of Cajun fried chicken, red beans & rice, and rabbit/chicken jambalaya.

I will love New Orleans forever.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Perfect Playlist

Magazine shares the records
That we might have missed.
Lined them up in order,
But here’s the gist:
Some have moxie
Others bring a hiss,
Like who got married
But neglected to kiss.

Some girls make me horny.
Some girls made me sad.
Some girls have legal briefs
To sue my damn ass bad.

“Happy birthday to me, living free!
Center of attention that must be me.”
Donnie struts like young Mick Jagger,
shotgun cloak, waving his dagger.
“I’m a midnight rambler,
But not one of those.”

That’s where we are
In times like these:
Adams get away with murder
Putting the blame on Eves.

Picking over the pieces.
Lip smacking the crumbs.
Licking off the spoon.
Laughing at the bums.

Cattle call formula,
A menu for the jaunt:
Make ‘em stand and strip
To see which one you want.

Like songs on the iPod
Arranged for full effect.
Some you cut, some you keep
No need to hedge the bet.

Facing the pathetic truth
Of predators in our midst
Obsessed with the notion
of the perfect playlist:

Is it on random?
Which one to use?
On second thought
Just let me choose.

Sunday, January 7, 2018


Science claims 
A finish to
Every start.
Nothing runs

One plus one
Equals two?

But is that true?

Science can do
The math.
It can even chart
The laughs.

But what
Exactly does
Science know
About the heart?

Science can replace,
Mend, repair, and
get the blood flowing:
It will keep you breathing.

And when you’ve
Ventured too close
To the alternative,
You’re eager,

But that awareness
Doesn’t last
As long as you hoped it would.
You drift in a haze,
Part numb and part indifferent.
You shut down the care mode
And wait for the fog to lift.

Nothing runs forever.

Nothing but your need.
Moment to moment
Validates your space in the long term lot.
You want and need love
Hundreds of times a day.

It’s a river that
Refuses to run dry.
It never will.

It’s the source
That feeds the ocean
And puts gravity
In the potion.

Perpetual emotion.

Saturday, January 6, 2018


Watching a film
Triggers the process.
A swirling cloud,
A barking dog,
A worried glance,
A tune in the background.

It’s like stepping
On a land mine,
But the explosive
Is actually a muse.

Maybe not the muse,
Perhaps a cousin
Of the muse.

I met
The muse
A couple of times.
A he the first time,
She the second.
Likes to change
Its voice, its frame
And most of all
Loves to leave you hanging.

The muse
Has a bunch
of assistants.
They can
only take you
so far.
They aren’t
To do much more
Than, in essence
Put a band aid
On the feeling
That compelled
The urge
To put
A few

It’s easy
To sense
That a muse
Might be dropping by.
What you want
Is an actual
But neither
A or THE muse
Do what you want.

They provide
A glimpse,
A tease
Of a glimpse
Is more like it.
Fan dancing for the church crowd.

Just give me
A hint.
A clue.
One domino.
But where in
The long line
Does it stand?

You just
Get tired
Of watching
Other people’s

You’d rather
Reach inside
The vast
And often
Locked trunk
Of thoughts
And fantasies
And pull one
Out of the hat.

Put on some coffee.
Brew some tea.
And just
Get with it.