Welcome statement


We Moristotelians (some say Morisconians) welcome you
to our almost daily show of art, poems, stories,
essays, reviews, interviews, correspondence

Friday, January 15, 2021

“Never met one I didn’t like”

Excerpt from one of my books

By Tom Harley

In the ministry one evening in upstate New York, I approached a man about to launch his hobbyist drone. I told him I had never seen one up close and he invited me to watch. It took off. He guided it up and over the street, over the rooftop of the neighbor’s house, and I saw in his viewfinder what the drone saw. Yes! There it was! As he suspected, his first mini-drone had come down over the house and was stuck in the gutter.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 22. Steak and Beer

Click image to
access installments
It was a beautiful fall afternoon for going to the lake, the ideal kind of a day to drink, have a barbecue, and catch up on life. It had been a year since the two brothers met face to face and a lot of water had gone under the bridge for both of them. There was very little conversation on their trip to Arkabutla Lake, other than about the weather. There was a lot to talk about, but they both wanted to be relaxed before they opened that box.
    Blake parked in the drive at the front of his trailer, which ran north and south, with the back side facing the water. He always entered the trailer by way of the kitchen. There weren’t even any steps leading to the front door. Getting out of the car, Tony remarked, “I see you never got around to building that house you and Beth talked so much about.”

Sheeple

By Eric Meub


They’re angry Patriots (and heavyset)
Who’ve stormed the Capitol while out to get
Pelosi, Mitch McConnell and the Veep.
They think the rest of us are merely sheep:
We’re blindly grazing with the herd. But then,
The other night, while watching CNN,
I heard the West Virginian say out loud –
But sir, I was just following the crowd.
He never knew it was against the law.
Can anyone but me discern a baa?

Copyright © 2021 by Eric Meub

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Highways and Byways:
Remembering the Willamette

By Maik Strosahl

I enjoyed Eric Meub’s poem “Willamette Valley” on December 12th, but I kept thinking about the drawing by Susan C. Price. It seemed to capture a sadness, a looking back with longing. This last summer I got sent with a special load out of my normal area and into Oregon. I remember the mountains most – they were different from the ones I had gone through in Colorado and Utah. Beautiful country. In my poem I tried to capture some of what I saw in Susan’s picture, drawing also from the biblical story of the Garden of Eden.


I remember the valley.
I remember the heavens on earth,
land flowing milk and honey,
wine and meads—
blackberries to die for.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Final Embrace

When Death comes,
there is a smile on his lips.

    —Muhammad Iqbal
By Moristotle

Death’s embrace closes,
its kiss brushes my lips.
Strange the comfort it gives,
unexpected during hours of
running free, frolicking.
Not the enemy we supposed,
not the fate we wished to escape
though we always knew we couldn’t.
But the friend we always needed,
if never thought could be.


Copyright © 2021 by Moristotle

Goines On:
“A day without wine is like....”

Click image for more vignettes*
Goines considered himself to be a realist – there is no personal god, life is mostly sad – so he was taken aback by what happened the morning he glanced at an ad in the New York Times online. Was he not a realist after all, but rather an idealist?
    The shirt on the woman in the ad had a stenciled declaration beginning, “A day without wine is like....” And from the next two lines, Goines’ glancing eyes caught only the word “idea.”

Monday, January 11, 2021

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 21. Agent Roberts

Click image to
access installments
Wayne Roberts’ history included a lot of undercover work when he was with the MPD, but this was his first time being lead on a case. He was determined that it would be his day in the sun. There weren’t many moments in his life he could point to as proud ones. There were only the day he graduated from the police academy and today – because of the faith Blake Harris had placed in him.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

All Over the Place: Consequences

By Michael H. Brownstein

When madness takes root,
When deviant behavior becomes a norm,
When great lies get great support —

Let’s not forget the Hitler big lie,
No one “could have the impudence.
To distort the truth so infamously.”

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Poetry & Portraits

Drawing by Susan C. Price

Theseus
By Eric Meub

[Originally published on June 14, 2014]

The king gave me protection, and the god
the body of an ad for underwear,
but on the docks of Troezen in a fraud
of both I tempted every sailor there.


Thursday, January 7, 2021

Reading Obama

The Cairo Speech

By Eric Meub

—Inspired by Barack Obama’s memoir, A Promised Land, pp. 358-59, 365-66

To hear a U.S. president tell hard
But basic truths would catch them all off guard—
To recognize achievements, that’s a start:
Islamic math, its sciences, its art.


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Highways and Byways: Live Music
at the Bear Trap Beer Tap

By Maik Strosahl

I never was much for the bar scene. I never found the “Cheers” I was looking for. This is my attempt at capturing the atmosphere of all the Dew Drop Inns I have seen in towns across the midwest and central region in a poem about a relationship gone bad. Have a drink and enjoy the live music at the Bear Trap.


Staring into the blur
of ice cubes in scotch
as they twirl,
round and round
by the twist of my wrist,
searching for answers
in the swirl of amber.

Are you happy?


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Boldt Word & Images:
I Am Transfixed


By Bob Boldt

I Am Transfixed by a Giant Water Lilies Triptych
by Claude Monet 1995 Chicago.
(after James Wright1 and Rainer Maria Rilke2)

Four feet in front of me looms a waterscape.
Claude Monet painted scenes of empty air
where even a Rouen Cathedral might float

Monday, January 4, 2021

Contest Update: Other possible
futures for Donald Trump

More scenarios for writers to explore

By Moristotle

We are grateful to Mr. Joe Hanover for suggesting some alternative futures for Donald Trump. Mr. Hanover believes that Mr. Trump’s future will grow more out of his achievements as President than out of his failures. Among those achievements, Mr. Hanover lists:

Sunday, January 3, 2021

All Over the Place:
The Incident with Mace

From My Teaching Book

By Michael H. Brownstein

The first thing you notice about mace is how pungent it is. Then you notice the taste. Then eyes begin to burn. This was the order for me. For Stanley, the order came differently. The mace hit him full in the eyes. He bent over and vomited. Then the pain came and he could not see. The third person only felt its anger in his nose, and he sneezed, coughed a bit, drank a few glasses of water and it was gone.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Encounter with a Leaf

By Moristotle


A leaf beckons – alive, florescent,
in a rainbow of colors, a prism of light
refracted, bent, cast across
a stained garage floor. It greets my eye
at just the moment it needs to happen,
the short span of time when the sun’s rays
penetrate the door at an angle to strike
the white reflector on a bicycle’s front wheel.
Oh leaf, oh leaf, oh leaf! Oh life!


Friday, January 1, 2021

Are Children Too Smart
for Their Own Good…

Or Just Too Smart for Disney?

By Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

[The first installment of this story, with the subtitle “Or Just Too Smart for Adults?,” appeared on October 30 last year.]

When my son was 2-years, 8-months old, he and I were getting on an elevator in Anaheim when a 40ish woman joined us. She was headed for Disney and was decked out in a bulging yellow and black tightly stretched lycra mouseketeer-like outfit and some sort of bee-like pseudo-princess headband with flashing lights - apparently a Junior Leaguer who had not taken an objective look in a mirror in quite a while. She looked at me, looked at my son, and practically screamed: “Is your grandpa taking you to Disney?!!?”

Thursday, December 31, 2020

From “The Scratching Post”

2020: Story of the year

By Ken Marks

[Originally posted on The Scratching Post, December 22. Republished here by permission of the author.]

This year has been a tale of two climaxes: one in the virulence of the Covid virus, the other in the seditious antics of Donald J. Trump. Both have been ruinous — Covid to physical wellbeing, Trump to national wellbeing. The two are, of course, intertwined. Trump’s blustery and idiotic style of governing is music to the ears of his minions, who are charmed by bluster and idiocy. Their gullibility gave the virus its greatest impetus as they became its most pitiful victims.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Highways and Byways: At the End

By Maik Strosahl

It has been a tough year for many, but if you are reading this, you only have a few hours to make it across the threshold into a new year—one that hopefully we can shape a little more to our liking, but probably one that we will soon be glad to push away on our march through the years. Here is to blessings more than curses for 2021!


as you sit in darkness,
play with your reading glasses
and wait for the final chime,
take a moment to pause
on the white left on each page,
the falling curtain
of unblemished snow
upon this cruel year

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Seeking Credible Stories about the Future of Donald Trump

A challenge for storymakers

By Moristotle & Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

Moristotle to both budding and fully flowered storytellers in search of an idea: I challenge you to write a credible story for Moristotle & Co. about the future of Donald Trump – if he has a future – or about his end, if you imagine he does not. I even offer you a scenario to get started:

Monday, December 28, 2020

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 20. Two More Cases

Click image to
access installments
Once on the line with Captain Leo Hawkins of the Seattle Police Department’s Special Crimes Division, Blake identified himself. “Captain, your serial killings popped up on our computer and I wanted to offer you my assistance.”
    Captain Hawkins was dumbfounded. “I’m sorry, Agent Harris, but I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. We’ve had some murders that we’re having a hard time solving, but there hasn’t been a serial killing in Seattle in years.”

Sunday, December 27, 2020

All Over the Place:
New Year’s in the Back Forty

By Michael H. Brownstein

This poem is from my book How Do We Create Love, with a new title.


How do we create love?

In the gum of sweet mud tracing its way through large blonde sandbars puckering
against the ribs of the Missouri, a small ripple of ice cold water drips into the river.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Acting Citizen: Trump Island

Sovereign Nation/ Reality Show

By James Knudsen

I realize I’ve become terribly fond of pieces that involve lists, but hopefully this will be the last one (at least for this year). Trump has mined the Trump Taco Bowl for Latino votes, and I’ve included the photographic proof.

Friday, December 25, 2020

All Over the Place: The Executive
of Pesticides Celebrates Christmas

By Michael H. Brownstein

Based on the poem, “The Colonel,” by Carolyn Forché 
    [I wrote this prose poem when a group I was with were trying to get Monsanto to give reparations to the Vietnamese for the continuing damage of Agent Orange. They knocked down our website once – but we did not allow them to do it again.]

Thursday, December 24, 2020

John Collier's “Lilith” painting
de-snaked for ophidiophobics

Cherishing fur and fabric instead?

By Moristotle

This make-over was prompted by an unfortunate reaction: “My Fear of Snakes” (posted on December 19).

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Highways and Byways:
Christmas 1974

By Maik Strosahl

Raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I grew up not celebrating Christmas. In our family, it was just another day, but one we got to enjoy together. So, when people asked me to write about childhood memories of the holiday, it was back to making up stories. In the poem below, I wanted to capture kids playing with their new toys and some of the conflicts that came about from the treasures that Santa left for good boys and girls. Happy Holidays, everybody, from 1974.


G. I. Joe wakes on the flatbed
to the incessant whistle
of an angry conductor.
Barbie is escorted
from sitting on the caboose.


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 19. Cold Streets of Memphis

Click image to
access installments
Wayne had had a shower, a shave, and a haircut and been given new clothes, and after a good night’s sleep, he was turned back out onto the streets. As he stood at the curb wondering which way to go, a short black man came out of the mission behind him. “You look like you could use a friend. Are you new in town?”
    Wayne looked down at the smiling face and almost laughed. “I know my way around, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Monday, December 21, 2020

Infiltrator

By Paul Clark
(aka motomynd)


The deer accept me as their own,
rest easy an arm’s reach away.
They welcome me into the nursery thicket,
protecting them as the new are born.

They trust me,
think they know my mind,
but I’m an infiltrator,
I used to hunt their kind.


Sunday, December 20, 2020

All Over the Place:
The Christmas Tree of Thanksgiving

By Michael H. Brownstein

When the small boy came knocking,
the wind a blizzard of disease and frostbite,
the old couple opened their home to him,
and offered him from the little they had –
hot apple cider, a stew of potato, warmed flour.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

My Fear of Snakes

It arose from early life experiences

By Karen Condley Abbey

[Editor’s Note: The author of this little piece is my niece, so I of course  k n e w  that she was afraid of snakes. But I forgot that fact and failed to cover up the snake in John Collier’s painting shown with Maik Strosahl’s poem about Lilith (“The First Wife”). Not good – Karen subscribes to email notices of blog posts, and she emailed me, “Please remember to warn me if you post anything with pictures of snakes, because I have a real bad phobia, and once I see a picture of a snake, it will keep popping into my head.” By way of saying I was sorry, I invited my niece to write about how her fear of snakes originated....]


Friday, December 18, 2020

Roger’s Reality:
What are these things?

By Roger Owens

What are these things? I mean I know what they are, I’m not stupid! But what are they doing, damn it? What are they doing? What are they doing there, or there, or there? What right do they have to just lay around like that? What right? Laughingly, accusingly, disdainfully. Just laying there. Cluttering up the place, getting in the way, serving no useful purpose, but most of all irritating the living hell right out of me. Just a year or two ago, any tool or implement I possessed would scurry in a fright to its appointed station rather than have its master find it out of place. A place for everything, by God, and everything better be in it if everything knows what’s good for it.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Joy in the Journey:
Ode to Beethoven

By Geoffrey Dean

December 17, 2020, marks the 250th birth anniversary of the composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Among the most-cherished experiences of my musical career are the opportunities I have had to perform Beethoven’s complete string quartets and cello sonatas, and revisiting his compositions always yields new insights that often extend far beyond the music itself.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Highways and Byways: Ashtapada

By Maik Strosahl

I stumbled across a piece of information that the modern game of Chess probably originated in India from Ashtapada and a few other variations. The interesting fact to me was that Gautama Buddha listed these games as a distraction that should be avoided by his followers. The rules evolved through the years, with the queen and bishop added in the 1400s by players in Spain, and it wasn’t until the 19th century that Chess was standardized into the form we know today. Here is my take on the evolution of the game that has distracted many.


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 18. Back in the Saddle

Click image to
access installments
Blake stepped off the elevator onto the 2nd floor and began his walk of shame, for he truly was ashamed and wasn’t sure how he was going to make it up to the other members of his team. If he had learned anything from recent events, it was that he was no longer a captain in the police force, but rather a member of a team, a team that didn’t need a boss, but only a light push in the right direction.
    He passed Taylor’s door but there was no one there. He walked into his own office and sighed at the thought of no more field work. However, June was right, this was where he belonged.

Monday, December 14, 2020

14 Years Ago Today:
Holiday frivolity

By Moristotle

[Originally published, without an image, on December 14, 2006.]

My wife and I went to a party last weekend. The neighbors in a house behind ours [on Ironwood Place in Chapel Hill, North Carolina] (visible only during the defoliated time of the year) were throwing their annual “Holiday Party.” The dining room table was groaning with plates piled high with food. Every wall and mantle on the first floor of their huge house (the house’s floor space probably approaching 4,000 square feet) were decorated with ornaments of the season, whether the pagan Yuletide or Christmas, or even of Eid or Hanukka or Kwanzaa. I couldn’t help but wonder where all of this stuff got stored the rest of the year.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

All Over the Place: Angry & Old, Bitter & Torn

By Michael H. Brownstein

[Originally published in the now-defunct “zine” Message in a Bottle.]

In the restaurant of ancient trees
In the restaurant of dried leaves
In the restaurant of creased skin
In the restaurant of splintered bone
In the restaurant of littered ash
In the restaurant of blue hair
In the restaurant of smells
In the restaurant of alone


Saturday, December 12, 2020

Poetry & Portraits:
Willamette Valley

Drawing by Susan C. Price

Willamette Valley
By Eric Meub

[Originally published on April 14, 2018]

1
A white circus tent
looms beyond the ridge of spruce:
first snow on Mt Hood.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Father’s Art:
Works of Billy Charles Duvall [7]

Detail from
original
Detail from
final
A River Journey to Paradise

By André Duvall

My Father’s Art columns up to this point have featured small groupings of paintings with some unifying theme. Today’s post describes the evolution of a single painting that Dad modified many times over the course of several years, and it was one of the paintings that were among my childhood experiences of home.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 17. June Meeting

Click image to
access installments
Blake parked his Jeep at the A.P.S. building. He felt like a stranger, but it had been only two weeks since he pulled out of the same parking lot to head to Reelfoot. It seemed longer than two weeks ago to Blake, for it was a lost memory ago as well. He had no idea what to say to June Warner, and he wasn’t confident she’d like how he might answer the questions she was sure to ask.
    He gave up and went inside. He told the guard he had an appointment with Ms. Warner and took a seat to wait for the escort to take him on the 3rd-floor elevator.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Highways and Byways: The River

By Maik Strosahl

I grew up a short walk from the Mississippi River. When I moved away, I found that beyond family and friends, the thing I missed most was being able to ride my bike along its bank, feeding the ducks and geese, staring out across the waters and skipping stones while thinking through the issues of the day. I know most people have something they cling to, even if the romance of that piece of home really doesn’t exist.


No one bathes in the river anymore.
its waters have grown dark and deep
with the sins of all those
who have lived along her shores.


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 16. Aftermath

Click image to
access installments
About 25 minutes after Blake left to have dinner with his friend, Bobby received Peter’s report on her. It revealed that Betty Walker’s daughter had been pregnant at the time she killed herself. Bobby was horrified when he next read that Betty’s daughter had died one month before the first murders, and each of the other murders had occurred on the daughter’s birthday.
    He immediately e-mailed Bob Rivers and asked him to check the DNA of the preacher and of Betty’s daughter’s fetus. Then he walked outside to find Shelley, who was outside having a beer and enjoying the cool evening. “It really looks like Betty Walker is our killer. We need to call Blake.”

Monday, December 7, 2020

13 Years Ago Yesterday:
An ontological argument for the non-existence of god

A mid-17th century
engraving of Anselmn
By Moristotle

[Originally published, without an image, on December 6, 2007. Dawkins’ reference to the “ironic ‘proof’ ” he announces understates the pleasure it afforded me when I read it again this year.]

In the year 1078, St. Anselm of Canterbury (England) proposed an “ontological argument” for the existence of God:

Sunday, December 6, 2020

All Over the Place:
A Christmas Carol

A Socratic Discussion

By Michael H. Brownstein

Monday morning. Reading. We’re doing Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, and I’m way up for this. I have divided my classes into small five to six people focus groups. We’re discussing the segment with the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come.
    And it’s great.
    “Do they have the right to steal?” I ask.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Goines On: Visit from the nightmare

Click image for more vignettes*
It was an altogether strange morning, the one after Thanksgiving. Goines would peg its start to have been the dream of his (or someone’s dream – for could it really have been his?) coming upon a sort of raw croquette and lifting it to his mouth to eat, but, in doing so, waking a living creature inside the croquette (a small but long frog, Goines thought) and causing the creature to begin to struggle vigorously in protest against being taken into someone’s mouth.
    What horrified Goines – and shortly woke him up – was that he didn’t immediately put the croquette down but proceeded to try to kill the struggling creature by squeezing it as hard as he could with the fingers of both hands. It was during the squeezing that Goines awoke, and, he was thankful, stopped squeezing the creature in time – he hoped – to avoid killing it.

Friday, December 4, 2020

At Random:
Why I Seldom Have Time to Write

For a bit of thin humor

By Paul Clark
(aka motomynd)


Following some commiseration from a friend who reminded me that people who really want to write will find a time to write, I sent an email explaining my situation...and it became a column – according to Moristotle, anyway.
    For a bit of mutual thin humor about what happens to my writing schedule, here is a most recent example of life in microcosm.


Thursday, December 3, 2020

BODY COUNT: Killers (a novel):
Chapter 15. The Killer

Click image to
access installments
Blake and his colleagues’ work on the church came to an end, as did any leads they might have hoped for, so they started backtracking from the opening scene: first were the two killings inside the church, where the mother and daughter had died.
    Shelley was lying on the floor as if she were the mother when she suddenly leaped up. She moved so fast, Blake and Bobby jumped back.
    “I know why there were so many strikes on the two bodies before they died,” she cried out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Highways and Byways:
The First Wife

By Maik Strosahl

One of our Moristotelians, Michael Brownstein, had a poem recently that referred to Lilith [“In the Morning It Will Still Be OK,” November 15], according to some the first wife of Adam. Created at the same time, she bristled at being put in a subservient position to her husband. After much fighting, she was sent away from paradise and Eve was created from Adam’s rib to take her place. Her appearance in the scriptural canon is sketchy, with some translations using her interchangeably with a night demon or a screech owl, sometimes as other types of birds. Here is my poetic take on the plight of the first wife.


Ah, poor Lilith
as she wanders in darkness,

creeping and stirred to flight
with the nightjars,

wailing among the poorwills
she bore into the world,


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

After 33 Years...

Michael Hanson has a novel in print!

By Moristotle

Today Atmosphere Press published Michael Hanson’s novel, Nate’s New Age. Atmosphere’s website describes the book as
Darkly comic and fast-paced...A 28-year-old skydiving instructor searches for – and avoids – meaning in his life through substance-abuse and sexual adventure. His most controlled moments are jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet. Nate knows it is time to plant his feet on solid ground. Will he make changes, or has he become addicted to the plunge?

The Tree

By Victor L. Midyett

[I first heard or read this story many years ago and have no recollection of who originated it. I may have even heard it from a pastor in a sermon. I don’t know. All I recalled was the skeleton of the story and I thought the man in the story’s procedure is a good one for anyone to adopt. This telling of the story is my own.]

I knew a man who had a nerve wracking, stress-filled job, but once he went through the front door of his home to greet his wife and kids, he delivered and was enveloped in smiles and exuberant love.