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Friday, April 23, 2021

Sketches from the Twin Cities:
Shakespeare’s Songs

By Geoffrey Dean 

Today – Friday, April 23 – I am celebrating the birthday of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) with some of the music that was heard in productions of his plays during his own lifetime. For this purpose I will have the valuable aid of Shakespeare’s Songbook, a comprehensive anthology by Ross W. Duffin that is both musically fascinating and visually delightful.
    Throughout his written oeuvre, Shakespeare reveals himself as a savvy scholar of music. In Henry VII and other plays, he refers at length to Orpheus, the most famous musician of Greek mythology, to show the power of music to affect our emotions and behavior. He also mentions “the music of the spheres,” the harmonious sounds emanating from the outer reaches of the universe that the Greek philosopher Pythagoras claimed to be able to hear.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 45. Shelley Saves the Day

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It was late at night by the time they parked at Wayne’s apartment. They had had a good, wild time in Destin Beach. Now they both crashed and didn’t move until their cell phones went off around 8:00 the next morning. Wayne headed to the shower and hollered at Tony on the couch, “Roll out! Blake wants us at the Hideaway ASAP, with our go-bags. Looks like our vacation is over.”
    They parked in front of the Hideaway at 9:40. Taylor was pouring coffee behind the bar. “Do you two want a cup?”

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Highways and Byways:
Wharton Creek

By Maik Strosahl

I was driving from Omaha this afternoon when I heard a song come on the radio that brought back some memories. Back in 2003, my nephew and nieces were visiting for the summer while I lived in Indiana. As we were driving, they asked me to put in a new CD they bought, they wanted me to listen to this cool spooky song they heard.
    The album was “Fallen,” by the band Evanescence. I had already heard one hit from it entitled “Bring Me to Life.” The song they wanted me to listen to was titled “Hello,” and I listened to it over and over. It is a pretty piano and voice-driven song, but with very dark lyrics. I remember the hair on my neck standing up when I thought I had figured out its meaning. I was convinced it was someone discovering they had another personality inside themself.
    I lived for many years with a person who was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID), previously known as multiple personality disorder (MPD). They would be in mid-conversation and suddenly would become another personality. It was very confusing sometimes, but I came to know many of their traits.
    The way I understand it, DID occurs usually when someone is faced with something dramatic they cannot handle. The person’s brain protects them by creating a personality to deal with that issue. If it starts early in one’s development it can happen many times, to the point that there can be dozens of distinct personalities. Treatment involves dealing with the issues that caused the fractures of personalities with the eventual goal to reintegrate them into one healthy state of mind. The problem that I remember the most was the fear of individual personalities who felt that integration was somehow a death to them. There were many long late-night discussions about this.
    While the song seemed to deal with the discovery of a personality, I had an idea that involved the healing of an individual, and addressed that in the poem below.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Two Poems
from America’s Vietnam Era

By Shirley Skufca Hickman


He hands me a form:
Permission to withdraw from English 1-A.
His hands shake but he jokes.
“I got caught in the draft.”

Monday, April 19, 2021

Duel with a Demon?
Or a Streak of Crazy Coincidences?

By Paul Clark
(aka motomynd)

It was a quiet Sunday night at home, the winding-down of a great weekend. We had finished the house projects on our list, enjoyed a wonderful three-mile Sunday-afternoon walk/run along the shore of our favorite local lake, and were settling in for a quiet dinner.
    And not just any dinner! This was our post-hike family-tradition greatest-dinner-ever: a vegan, gluten-free, Mediterranean style Daiya frozen pizza, to which we added extra mushrooms, olives, and pineapple before cooking it absolutely perfectly in our air-fryer pizza oven. It isn’t often we have a perfect weekend and get to top it off with the perfect meal, but this weekend we achieved the near impossible.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

All Over the Place: The Science Fair (Part 3 of 5)

The Next Morning

By Michael H. Brownstein

8:25 in the morning and already there are warnings of trouble. This may be hard to believe, but when you work in the inner city long enough, you can smell the potential of the day as you walk from the train to the school. When I leave the train – the Green Line at the 43rd Street Station – there is an unmistakable odor of violence already and violence to come. (I’m not sure this works when you drive to work. I don’t think the walk from parking right in front of the school or in the school parking lot is a long enough walk.)

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Book Review: Nate’s New Age

Michael Hanson’s novel (upper left)
on display at Flyleaf Books
in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
A Wild Ride

Reviewed by Moristotle

Like the life of the central character of Michael Hanson’s novel Nate’s New Age, reading it can be a bit of a bumpy ride, especially if you make the mistake I did at the start: trying to read it only a few pages at a sitting. After a couple of weeks of sporadic sittings, of having to thumb back to be reminded who Brenda was, or Max, or Shuly, or Margaret, or Rebecca, or Kimberly, or his therapist Lynn… I finally realized I needed to buckle down and read continually. That worked much better, and I recommend that other readers approach it the same way.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Fiction: Excerpts from
Nate’s New Age

By Michael Hanson

Nate is a 28-year-old skydiving instructor at Psycho Sky Sports. Having recently quit a bartending job in an effort to rein in his own drug/alcohol dependency, he decides to travel to Europe for a solo hiking adventure.
    These excerpts were selected from that particular story line of the many that make up Nate’s tale.

For over a thousand years people have made the journey across Spain’s northernmost margin, on El Camino de Santiago. Though started by Christians (who made the march to the burial place of St. James in Santiago de Compostela as a kind of penance for their sins), the hike has become a popular pilgrimage for people from all walks of life, making the trek for their own personal reasons.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 44. Louisiana Blues

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It took Wayne and Tony two weeks to cover all of the shifts at the truck shops east of Baton Rouge on I-10. It was time-consuming work. They were able to cover only a few miles of interstate highway in a day, what with having to check three shifts at each of the truck stops. Then they had to backtrack to check the weekend crew. The frustrating thing about the slow progress was that outside of the one girl – Tammy – no one knew anything.
    After that they went all of the way to Sulfur, Louisiana, and began to work their way back to Baton Rouge. Tony was happier now that it was April. The rains still came but it was warm rain, and flowers were coming up everywhere. Tony estimated that at the rate they were going it would be into May before they would have hit all the shifts along the freeway.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Highways and Byways:
A Bad Day for Casey

By Maik Strosahl

It’s baseball season! 
    I have mentioned before a favorite project I got to be involved with where our poems inspired by museum pieces were put on display along with the art pieces. This poem also was created from that walk through the now defunct National Art Museum of Sport in Indianapolis.
    Outside the main building was a courtyard containing a sculpture titled “Casey Stengel,” by Rhonda Sherbell. It captures the “Old Perfessor” toward the end of his career when he was the coach of the expansion New York Mets from 1962-65.
    The Mets were a replacement team for many New Yorkers after both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants left for California. Casey was hired out of retirement to manage the team, but even with his winning reputation he could not lead the severely short-talented players to success.
    As with the sculpture, the poem attempts to capture the frustration of a successful player and manager leading a team that was going nowhere.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

From “The Scratching Post”


By Ken Marks

[Originally posted on The Scratching Post, April 13, 2015. Republished here by permission of the author.]

The kerfuffles late last month in Indiana and Arkansas confused a great many. There was broad agreement that the issue was intolerance, but what kind of intolerance? The Bible thumpers and the Republicans who curry their favor – pretty much the entire party – told us they were addressing religious intolerance. Of course, they were instead legitimizing sexual intolerance, and any other intolerance that could be tied to scripture.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Good-bye to Prince Philip

Otherwise, Hello to Same-old Same-old

Edited by Moristotle

[Items of correspondence are not attributed; they remain anonymous. They have been chosen for their inherent interest as journalism, story, or provocative opinion, which may or may not be shared by the editor or other members of the staff of Moristotle & Co.]

“Authentic stoicism.” This article is great: “Prince Philip’s Death and the Last Embers of British Stoicism” [Anthony Lane, New Yorker, April 9] Excerpt:

On Hearing, or Not

By Dan Fame

Like many people my age, I am partially deaf. In my case, like many males, it is the higher frequencies. This is the consequence of age and military experience.
    There are some downsides and some upsides to this condition.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

All Over the Place: The Science Fair (Part 2 of 5)

Let It Begin!

By Michael H. Brownstein

So here it is, 9:00 a.m.: The children are lined up to come inside, and I have thirty minutes to go before the science fair begins. We split up my class – they stay outside and have gym with 211 – and I go through the final touches.
    9:30: Over a hundred projects are on display in the gym and I’m feeling really good about this. One judge does not show, but no problem. The social worker volunteers to take his place and so does a parent volunteer.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Poetry & Portraits:
An Essay on Ma’am

Drawing by Susan C. Price

An Essay on Ma’am
Sequel to “Ode to a Department Store

By Eric Meub

We had a creedI shop therefore I am;
We had a name — the honorific Ma’am,
that word of light whose bright acoustics beam
about the altars of the old regime.

Friday, April 9, 2021

As the World Turns:
The Changing Climate

By Ed Rogers

A warming trend followed by a freezing trend may be a sign that the greenhouse effect is increasing because of human activity. Global warming is often linked to the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil, and natural gas – by industries and cars. These chemicals are also called greenhouse gases. This is the wisdom of those who are in charge of knowing such things. I not only believe in climate change but I believe some of these things they attribute to climate change are causing damage to our planet. We as humans would be happier without all these emissions even if they did nothing to change the climate.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Covid: Horrific Random Killer, or
Focused Societal Upgrade?

By Paul Clark
(aka motomynd)

Killing more than 550,000 people in the U.S., Covid-19 has been a national disaster. Lost in that huge number are individual stories of immense personal tragedy, along with some wry moments that almost make Covid-19 seem like a thinking killer with a dark sense of humor.
    Donald Trump mocked Covid in general, and people who wore masks in particular; UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson did the same. Covid struck both, not hard enough to kill them, but hard enough to destroy Trump’s first term as president and any chance he had at a second; Johnson’s experience with Covid seemed to affect him enough to make him sound almost civil for the first time in his political career. In between were the countless examples of preachers and churchgoers – mostly across the South – who confidently stated “God is greater than Covid-19” and refused to wear a mask or take social-distancing precautions – and wound up dead from Covid. Tragedy, tinged with irony.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Highways and Byways:
Waiting for a Trailer

By Maik Strosahl

I tend to write in cycles and lately I have been feeling a bit bound-up. I do not really enjoy winter, so I try to write my way out of it. But every year, shortly before spring, I find the ideas don’t quite work, the words just do not flow, every thought gets jumbled into a mess until one day the sun shines just right and all is right with the world again.
    Oh, I have had longer streaks of the dreaded writer’s block. The last few years of my first marriage were less than inspiring and I wrote very sparingly, but for the most part, this yearly cycle has become my way.
    This last Saturday, apparently, was the day. I didn’t see it coming, but it hit while waiting for a trailer.
    I started the day just outside of Des Moines, my Friday cut short by a brake problem that developed on the road. I found a truck stop to get some help and was shut down for the night. A mobile mechanic arrived during my 10-hour off-time to repair it while I slept. By morning, I was back on the road, heading to the Distribution Center for another load.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Boldt Words & Images:
Screen Savior

By Bob Boldt

Watching star beams float over and around
mushrooms in a pastel forest of soft, silk soil,

I was, for a second, maybe less, in my parent’s
living room listening to “Captain Midnight”

Monday, April 5, 2021

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 43. More Killers

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Taylor and Wayne dropped their rental cars off in Memphis and picked up their own cars. By the time they reached the Hideaway – Blake had decided the bar didn’t need his name on it – Rainbow’s 1942 motorcycle was parked outside. Wayne and Taylor pulled in beside it.
    Inside, at the big table, were Peter, Blake, and Tony, aka Rainbow. They all had beers and were laughing. Taylor jokingly shouted, “So this is what goes on when I’m not here!”
    Blake hollered back, “Get a beer from behind the bar and join us. We were just talking about your latest case.”

Sunday, April 4, 2021

For Ralph Earle
on his 70th Birthday

In Remembrance of Half His Life Ago

By Moristotle

Ralph’s friend Judith Valerie occasioned my writing the poem below. I was on her distribution list when she notified no doubt scores of individuals who love Ralph to please contribute something to the collection she planned to read to him today. Her including me meant a lot, and I thank her for it.

April 4, 1986 – was that Ralph Earle’s first day
as a tech editor at IBM in Cary, North Carolina?
I’d like to think so, like to believe it was,
love it more if it really was the day I met
this extraordinary human being,
my colleague for several years in Cary.

All Over the Place: The Science Fair (Part 1 of 5)

Today’s Going to Be Great!

By Michael H. Brownstein

Every day this week I worked on the all-school science fair. Monday I judged all of the classroom science fairs (with the help of two handpicked seventh graders). Tuesday and Wednesday students from the fourth to eighth grades came to my room to be judged and/or show me the improvements they made so they could be in the science fair. On those days, my seventh graders assisted every student who wanted to enter, but were in need of help.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Lights, Camera, Action!

Two Poems of Old Age

By Moristotle

The first poem below more or less wrote itself one morning, in the moments after I experienced the internal argument whether or not to flip that light switch. In the days that followed, my ruminations grew to include the ideas of the second poem, and I thought at first that I could work those ideas into the first poem. But I soon learned that I couldn’t – or it would be better not to. For better or worse: “Practicing to Die” and “Rehearsing to Live.”

Practicing to Die

Don’t do it! 
Do it! 
No, don’t do it!
I yell at myself in the silence of my mind.
I remind myself I’m carrying a tray,
better safe than sorry.
I used to lift a finger to flip off the kitchen light
as I passed toward the dining table.
I have done it many times.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Adventures from Bulgaria:
Autumn Memories

By Valeria Idakieva

A lot of people had been waiting for the winter, not only to go skiing, but also to enjoy the mountains covered in snow – white, clean, serene…. Undoubtedly they are beautiful, especially when the sun rays make the snow sparkle and the blue sky seems bluer than ever.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

More Dollars than Sense

By Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

Just when we think rich people might run out of ways to show off how much money they can afford to lose, we mere financial mortals are proven wrong yet again.

Used to be that if you were a rich businessperson who wanted to show off your stunning across the board business acumen, you bought an NFL football team. After all, if you are genius enough to become a billionaire, surely you can assemble a winning team, right?

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Highways and Byways:
Angel in the Corner

By Maik Strosahl

One of my favorite projects I have been involved with as a poet was working with previous Poet Laureate of Indiana Joyce Brinkman at the National Art Museum of Sport. Several Indiana writers were brought in to look at the various art pieces and invited to submit ekphrastic (art from art) poems that could be displayed with the item that inspired it.
    While only one per writer was actually used in the museum, I ended up writing several that went on to be published. This one was inspired by a painting by Tom Hill called “Ecce Homo,” portraying a dazed looking boxer and in his corner his coach shouting encouragement. Sadly, the museum is no longer around. Some pieces have been absorbed into the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, but I have been unable to locate a picture of this piece.

Nine rounds since he stepped
through the ropes, into the ring

Three rounds after it
almost ended on his knees
as he heard every other number
of the referee’s count

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

From “The Scratching Post”


By Ken Marks

[Originally posted on The Scratching Post, March 30, 2017. Republished here by permission of the author.]

I can’t recall how old I was when I started playing chess – either 8 or 9. One day, my father came home from work with a cigar box that contained no cigars. Instead it was full of black and white figurines, most of which represented people out of the pages of medieval history. My father explained they were members of warring kingdoms. The field of battle was a chessboard, formerly known to me as a checkerboard. The objective, to invade the opposing kingdom and trap its king.

Monday, March 29, 2021

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 42. Crosshairs

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Rainbow flew down the road on his way back to the mill. His job, now that the killer was caught, would be to protect his cover story, and the sooner he warned Kirk, packed his clothes, and hit the road, the better off he would be.
    When Kirk saw Rainbow race through the gates and on to the shed, he looked back down the road to see who was chasing him. No one was to be seen there, but when Rainbow hurriedly jumped off the motorcycle, Kirk rushed to join him.
    Rainbow threw open the half-closed doors of the shed, hoping to find a tarp to throw over the motorcycle. He grabbed one that was spread across the work table next to where the bike had been parked for years. The tarp dragged a couple of shoe boxes and a hammer off the table, and they fell onto the dirt floor.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

All Over the Place:
A Lesson in Hats

By Michael H. Brownstein

[For a bit there I wrote for the Chicago Reader. This is a true story about what happened right after we moved into a neighborhood where things were gang-ridden and quite dangerous.]

When I moved into a house on Touhy in Rogers Park, a northside neighborhood in Chicago, I was immediately struck by the neighborhood’s clean lawns and the absence of broken glass and graffiti. Then my 13-year-old son and I took a walk to the Howard el station and I got a lesson in hats.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Acting Citizen: Looking Back

By James Knudsen

Now, why would I begin a column with a picture of my high school ring? Hidden from view, inside the band, is an inscription, Jimi Jai. It’s a disaster phonetically, but I was “going through a phase.” A new wave of conservativism was sweeping the country, and I had recently discovered my older sister’s record collection, with its hopeful strains of the late ’sixties and early ’seventies. I wanted to be a hippie, change my name from James to Jimi – yes, like Jimi Hendrix – and swim against the prevailing current of Reagan-era optimism and conspicuous consumption.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Book Review: Poetic Philosophy / Philosophical Poetry

A review of Allegory in Early Greek Philosophy, by Jennifer Lobo Meeks

By Moristotle

From her opening pages, Professor Meeks, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Perimeter College of Georgia State University, manifests writing mastery and loving expertise on the technicalities and history of her subject. I recognized a book I wanted to savor; anyone interested in the roots of philosophy in Homeric and Hesiodic myths would.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

From “The Scratching Post”

American pride

By Ken Marks

[Originally posted on The Scratching Post, March 25, 2018. Republished here by permission of the author.]

Have you ever watched “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” You can get an education, and not just from the questions and answers. For example, it recently aired a week of shows with the theme “American Pride.” All the contestants did a service for their communities: charity work, nursing, firefighting, teaching, and the like. Certainly, we should be grateful for the good they do, sometimes at the sacrifice of a livable income. But it’s hard for me to see gratitude as pride, and I certainly see nothing “American” about what I feel or what they do.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


Courtesy Nick Dunlop*
An allegory

By Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

They descend, tens then hundreds then thousands,
Their mass of tiny wingbeats flattening the bamboo canopy into sparse strands,
Like a helicopter gunship, searching a jungle for prey.
Aggressive and raucous, choosing bullying over tact,
They force the others to the edges of what was their home tract:
“This is our thicket now.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Penny for Her Thoughts:
Where, Oh Where?
Part 3 [Final]

Kim & Tom
From There to Here

By Penelope Griffiths

Fast-forward five more years, when, with two kids in tow, I made my escape.
    Divorce is never pretty, but I just wanted out. My lawyer told me that if I left the marital home, I’d lose everything, but all I could think of was, if I didn’t leave, I’d be miserable and probably do something I’d regret – possibly with a heavy, blunt instrument. So, I left, but only after I’d made arrangements for my mother, who was living with us, to get an assisted-living house, and an agreement from my soon-to-be-ex-husband for me to have some of the furniture, along with our dog, Cindy.

Monday, March 22, 2021

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 41. Confusion

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Rainbow managed to complete the framework for the new boathouse, but he was having a hard time keeping his mind on the job. It kept popping into his head that he was riding the getaway vehicle used in a double murder. He felt like a pawn on a chess board. He believed that one of the two sons was the serial killer, but what kind of game was the killer playing? Kirk Johnson had to know that when Ted Banks saw that motorcycle there would be a reaction from him. Banks’ telling Rainbow to paint the bike meant that he knew the danger of having the motorcycle show up again on the streets. So why did Kirk give the bike to him in the first place?
    He was deep in thought when a car pull into the drive. The sheriff got out and hollered, “Send the Mexicans home and come to the house. I need your help with something.”

Sunday, March 21, 2021

All Over the Place: Let the Earth Speak in Tongues and If You Listen Hard Enough, You Will Understand

By Michael H. Brownstein

The voices in the graveyard have been known to scream
and if you settle where the crab grass grows,
you can hear them skipping over locust burns and dandelion bones.
Water, too, needs a sorting place away from confusion
but the voices flow into it, the voices flow with it
even as we death bomb and death bomb
bone, powder, flesh, fog, burning hair —
stone and scorpion, marker and–

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Must-read: “If I ruled the world”

Do your day right

By Moristotle

Moristotle highly recommends Ken Marks’ entertaining, psychologically and sociologically insightful, and self-revealing piece, “If I ruled the world,” posted yesterday on The Scratching Post. Your day just can’t be right without reading it. And your parties might be more fun if you play the game Ken proposes.

Copyright © 2021 by Moristotle

Susan’s Stuff: who raised me

Detail from painting
By Susan C. Price

i include my notes as commentary.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Penny for Her Thoughts:
Where, Oh Where?
Part 2 [of 3]

Me (L) as a midwife
Where I Came From

By Penelope Griffiths

My life in the UK was great. I had a job I loved and was very well paid. I had a lovely house and great social life. My job afforded me comfort and travel all over the world, both for work and for fun. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and working from Japan to Russia to Africa to the Middle East – all at 5-star billing. I would “pop” over to Paris or Le Touquet for a cheeky day or weekend of shopping and drinking fine wines and champagnes. Very often my two children would accompany me; one can say I was the example for their own wanderlust.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 40. Taylor on Site

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Taylor checked into the Roadway Inn at 3:15 the same afternoon. He called Wayne as soon as he got to his room, and 10 minutes later there was a knock on his door. “Man, I’m glad to see you!” Wayne said.
    Taylor went back to the bed and got a file from his suitcase. “Here’s everything we have on Banks, but there’s nothing that says serial killer.”
    Wayne sat down at the table by the window and quickly perused the file. “It’s the only lead I have,” he said. “Nobody will talk to me here, black or white. The one and the only person who has spoken to me about the murders is a drunk, but I believe him when he said Banks picked up his friend that night.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Highways and Byways:
The Dreamers

By Maik Strosahl

I really enjoyed Shirley Skufca Hickman’s poem “The Old Songs,” from March 5. It got me exploring immigration from the early 1900s compared with today. Spent some time digging into Ellis Island, where some of my ancestors came from Europe. My father’s family came over in the early 1900s, his father from Germany, his mother from Sweden. My mother was born in a small town in Germany on the Polish border. She learned Russian as her second language and only learned English when she came back with my father after his stint in the Army. I let my mind follow their path, then the path that some take to come to our borders today. My, how things have changed.
    Footnotes give the translations of lines in foreign tongues.

Ellis, oh Ellis,
do you see me?
I am coming on a steamer,
I am coming as a dreamer
a man, a woman, a child
homeless not hopeless,
with eyes cast
from these dark seas
upon the torch of Liberty.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Boldt Words & Images:
Waiting for Thunder

By Bob Boldt

Ages, my ages ago, I lay awake,
feeling Mother’s starched sheets
between thumb and forefinger,
my incredibly distant big toe
imagined the monster beneath my five-year old’s bed.
I understood somewhere between brain and breastbone
the full push of the terrifying, infinite universe.

Monday, March 15, 2021

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 39. Carpenter

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Rainbow knew that a crooked sheriff would have more information than a lumber mill owner, so what better way to get close to the source of the information than to work for him?
    By the time he and Carl reached the mill, Banks had made the call to Kirk about hiring a carpenter. Rainbow stepped down from the truck and Carl drove off. Kirk had seen them pull into the lot and walked over to Rainbow.
    “Well, it looks like you made a hell of an impression on our sheriff. He wants you to start carpentering tomorrow.” He put his hand on Rainbow’s back and nudged him toward the shed on the side of the cabin.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

All Over the Place: Death Arrives Suddenly Near the Bed in the Laundry Room

By Michael H. Brownstein

My father was born without an expiration date.
Nor was he offered an explicit warranty against defect.
One evening he arrived home to discover
free choice was no longer an option, passion a myth,
red food coloring an agent of kidney disease.
They say when you hear thunder,
someone passed successfully to the other side.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Poetry & Portraits:
Ode to a Department Store

Drawing by Susan C. Price

Ode to a Department Store
By Eric Meub

[Originally published on May 13, 2017]

Discriminate, my child! Leave cheaper wares
to bargain-basement huntresses downstairs;
let Target’s multitudes stampede or graze;
let online shoppers stalk in negligees.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Penny for Her Thoughts:
Where, Oh Where?
Part 1 [of 3]

To an Alternative Reality?

By Penelope Griffiths

I’ve only lived in the USA for three years, but I visited this country multiple times after the 1980s. The shortest visit was just for five days but most of my visits were for from three weeks to the full permitted twelve weeks.
    I’ve travelled east to west, north to south, taking in the sights and sounds from city to mountain to rural and back again. From the beginning, as much as I love the US, I have always felt the undercurrent of racism and homophobia in varying degrees, wherever I went.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 38. Long Road Ahead

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Things were quiet around the new office. Peter and Mary would video-chat with Taylor and Blake each morning, but the noise level was very low without Shelley, Tony, or Wayne. Blake had heard from the people taking care of Shelley and the report was good. Tony hadn’t reported in and Wayne was overdue. Blake hated not being in the field.
    The four still in Memphis were working on the June Killer case. Everybody wanted to change the name but no one’s suggestions impressed the others, so “June Killer” had remained. They were working on a computer prediction of five routes that the killer might take on his next vacation. Amazingly, the computer had started all five routes from the same town in North Carolina. It was a sprawling suburb of Raleigh called Cary. Blake and Peter were in an ongoing dialogue as to how the computer came up with that town.

Correspondence: Rocks, Knives, Teeth, Ropes, Guns, Dingleberries

Edited by Moristotle
[Items of correspondence are not attributed; they remain anonymous. They have been chosen for their inherent interest as journalism, story, or provocative opinion, which may or may not be shared by the editor or other members of the staff of Moristotle & Co.]

My local rock sculptor has been busy of late, and magical. His sculptures don’t last long, thanks to someone’s need to knock them down. The rocks lie helter-skelter till the artist reassembles them. I’ve not watched him at work, but I spent an afternoon watching the artisans at Sausalito, California. The artistry is in choosing the surface of each stone so that they balance and counterbalance as the structure takes form. My sense is that the form is dictated more by the surfaces of the particular rocks than by the vision of the artist.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Highways and Byways:
The Giant’s Unmade Bed

By Maik Strosahl

Neil Hoffman described in a comment about the last holes of a golf course that it looked “like a giant’s unmade bed” – leading to the experiment of the poem below. Thanks to Brooks Carder for his recent piece “My Chat with Harry Truman,” which inspired me to search through the archives to see if he had written anything else, and, of course, Neil for his descriptive comment on Brooks’ piece from last summer, “A Father’s Personal Impressions of ‘A Little Slice of Fife’.”

He threw covers open each dawn,
almost with disdain
for the slight of being inadequate
and pulling up shy of cold feet.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Self-pity Sucks (a poem)

By Roger Owens

So, my buddy Swabbie had a stroke.
We used to smoke
And drink and talk, laugh loud and long.
He was strong, the second-best surfer I ever knew,
Like he flew through the waves, a grizzled longboard man
showing the grimmies how it’s done
Now it’s time for a cold one.