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On Angels and Messengers

Monday, May 31, 2010


As I sit by the open window
I enjoy some milk and a cracker.
Though I despise the fireworks show
that's caused by my neighbor's bug-wacker.

Fifty moths for every mosquito
get heinously fried by this wacker.
But the fireflies giggle and glow.
as they wire it to his tractor.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another Song from MY STATE FAIR LADY*

*For a synopsis of the story, see the Blog for May 18, 2010
[Plays Coming Soon ....] or click the "Broadway" label for this post.

HENRY the BARKER grew a conscience and is trying to make amends
for cheating people over the years with crooked Midway games.
So, rather than dancing all night, he sings:
I lost my pants last night
on games of chance last night.
I worked 'til half-past four.
I didn't cheat at all
when they threw basketballs.
Tonight, I'll lose some more.

I'll never know why it was so surprising,
when just for once the darts flew right.
I'm feeling so sincere - I need more teddy bears.
I lost my pants, pants, pants, alright!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

FALLING IN LOVE -- Counting the Ways: #1

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
wrote a perfectly good poem that begins with
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."

It was not a long poem, though.
Perhaps she, too, had an attention deficit.
So, to help her out, I've started to compile
one more poetry collection in my open-ended series
of unfinished collections of poetry*.

Suppose you were falling
from a cliff and I was trying to save you
and I've got you by one hand
and I've got the cliff edge by the other
but I can't pull you up
so I have to hold on to your hand forever.
Then suppose I'm human
and I just can't hold on any longer
and I have to make a choice about letting go
with one hand or the other.

That one's a no-brainer.
I'd let go of the cliff,
and we'd fall, in love,
with one another.
What's that?
You say you're not likely
to be hanging from a cliff any time soon?
All the same, if you don't mind,
I'll be right here,
holding on to you as if you were.

This Blog and
are bit like the great cathedrals of Europe.
Eh? Never finished, but still open to the public.
At least my web pages are not excessively grandiose,
and mostly English is spoken here.


”You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
The first half of that compound sentence is often forgotten.
Thus, you’re zipping merrily around the outskirts of Ignorance,
oblivious to danger in your sporty little “look-at-me” Illusion,
a Masquerade with tinted windows, an over-sized Misconception,
or perhaps a classic Lie (mine was a convertible).
Meanwhile, the simple, unknown Truth is a big, black truck
with no visible driver, careening down a long hill, toward you.

A collision with the truth-truck might demolish your Illusion or Lie,**
suddenly setting you free; or you might get trapped in it for a while.
Or, imagine an ominous truck bearing down on you on a desert road,
all through the night, like a Headless Horseman on wheels,***
testing your evasive skill until your brain boils over.
Wouldn’t it be wiser and more serene, yet still adventurous,
to seek the Truth, ask for a ride in that truck,
and just see where it takes you? Eh, Pilgrim?

* (John 8:32). Inspiration provided by Jennifer.
**or whatever they sold you at Falsehood Motors (It's HUGE!)
***A simile for my metaphor. Sorry, Ichabod! I couldn't help it.
****I wrote this, before old memories bubbled up, from 40-50 years ago,
about an episode of Twilight Zone or Outer Limits with James Garner
or that other guy I confuse with him (you know, the guy from "The Birds"),
and a subsequent movie with Janet Leigh or her wanna-be,
driving a sports-car, I think, and being pursued by a driver-less semi.
All I borrowed was the all-through-the-night part on a desert road. Honest!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


“Things are not always what they appear to be.”
That’s true enough; and it’s not just about being deceptive.
Sirens, grandmotherly wolves, and wax grapes notwithstanding,
the people in our lives, and the principles we live by,
are often much more precious than we realize.
We may not recognize their value until they’re gone.
Then regret seeps in to fill the vacant space.

Who did you meet on your way to Emmaeus?**

“If I had realized ..."
[insert the Whole Truth here] ...
"I would have cherished ..."
or "I would have told him ..."
or "I wouldn’t have acted as I did ..."
or yada this or yada that.
It’s not too late to heal those wounds, Dear Soul.
Sometimes, though, it takes years -- and it takes tears.
If you ask me, I’ll tell you how I did it
with the memory of my father.
Right, Dad?

* Inspiration courtesy of Jennifer.
** Luke (24:13-35).
***For more on “not always what they appear
see this Blog for May 5, 2010: “God’s Image and Man’s Imagination”.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Write a caption for this photo.
But first, a pop quiz:
In which of the four seasons in Central New York
was this photo taken:
Winter, Mud, Construction or Deer?

Is that your final answer?

Welcome to Oswego County, NY
This is me, now 63, at the end of my driveway, which I still clear with a shovel and a smile, though I don't remember why. The photo was taken in 2007, when we were blessed with 10 feet of snow in one week. I love it ~ the more the better. The "Snow-Pile Limiting Device" is really a door (but don't tell the US Patent Office) placed on top of the pile, and tipped when I just can't throw the snow any higher with the shovel that's resting behind me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


A song from The Sound of Mortars, my upcoming Broadway parody.
Sung by Majeeda, a double agent in war-time Afghanistan,
played by Christiana Amanpour or her understudy, Rachel Maddow.
For a synopsis, see my blog entry for May 18,
"Plays Coming Soon to the Short Attention Span Playhouse".

I don't like Hummers or airstrikes that hurt us,
Heat in the summer while ironing burkas.
I hate being naked in sandstorms that sting.
Perhaps that's my very least favorite thing.

Cold, clammy caves, and wars with no purpose.
Going to jail without habeus corpus.
Camel dung on my sandals and flies that it brings.
These are my very least favorite things.

When I'm tortured, water-boarded,
When I think I'll drown,
I think of my other least favorite things,
And then I down feel so down.
There is one more verse, sung by the seven dwarf terrorists,
but I want to rewrite parts of it.

Friday, May 21, 2010


When something resembling an Ogre
has found a home in your backyard,
walk around the beast, three times at least,
before you start poking at it.
Provoked, it might attack suddenly.
Unprovoked, it will likely circle you
to assess your behavior,
instead of starting to poke at you.

You'll soon realize that the two of you
are dancing rather than fighting.
You'll see one another from all different angles.
You may learn that your dance partner
is merely something resembling an Ogre,
and not at all fearsome or ferocious.
It could be fun, you know --
even if it is a real Ogre.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

BLESSINGS - The Final Four

I have been blessed with three of the four best blessings imaginable.
I regret that my gratitude is no match for that grace.
Death is nowhere in sight, and I'm already learning
how to live,
how to love,
how to be loved.

I have yet to be graced with the ultimate blessing:
to learn how to die.
Whether Death is crouched around the next corner,
or asleep behind the moon,
I do hope to be ready when we meet.
I know of no blessings beyond this.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

PLAYS Coming Soon

Besides "My State Fair Lady",
I have two more musical parodies in the pipe:
"The Man of La Mafia" and "The Sound of Mortars".

"The Man of La Mafia", set in Nevada and California in the 1970s,
is the pathetic story of Don Banana, a slightly unstable
but compassionate and gentle pacifist, with curly blond hair,
born (unfortunately) into a crime family. Songs include:
The Man of La Mafia, Gordon Held Up a Casino and The Awesomest Scream. In a tender song called Gulping Air, Don professes his love
for a glitzy, ditzy Las Vegas showgirl, who he remembers from his youth when she was a nubile Mouseketeer named Annette.
To Don Banana, she will always be his childhood dreamgirl,
a 16-year-old hottie with an Italian last name
and a really nice pair of ...
Tootsie-Pop eyes.

"The Sound of Mortars" is set in war-time Afghanistan.
Is there any other time in Afghanistan?
It's about a beautiful double-agent, who calls herself "Madeeja"
(played by Christiana Amanpour) and a lovable but bungling band
of seven dwarf terrorists, who follow her everywhere.
Songs include: The Sound of Mortars (Madeeja),
How Do You Solve a Problem like Korea and
Climb Every Mountain (both sung by Mother Hillary).
Also, My Least Favorite Things (Madeeja and the dwarves),
which has some of my all-time most favorite rhymes,
and Invaded Twice (Ain't it nice), sung by Captain Von Laden,
joined by Madeeja and the boys, just before they escape
the military occupation of their beloved, pulverized homeland
by hiking up and over the mountains into Pakistan.

The story is fiction, of course, based on fact that is reminiscent of earlier fiction based on earlier fact. The name of the war may be different, but the story's the same. Who knows? The fiction/fact cycle may even go back, war by war, to the Peloponnesian War, and the futile attempt by Sisyphus to escape over the mountains
with his very large pet rock. Now, there's a promising research topic for a Theater major lacking talent.

I can't decide which of these two plays to finish first,
so I think I'll get going on the script for yet another one
that's been stuck in the pipe for years. It's a really deep play.
Here's a synopsis:
It's the story of a struggling NYC salesman who has resorted to acting
on weekends to support his family. He goes to see a play
about three or four struggling actors who have resorted to sales
to pay their rent. In one potentially confusing-as-hell scene
of the play within our play, the salesmen are rehearsing possible roles in The Drowsy Chaperone, The Producers, Hamlet,
A Midsummer Night's Dream
, Taming of the Shrew, and perhaps a stage adaptation of Back to the Future -- each of which has a play within the play that's within the play within our play.
I warned you that this is really deep.
Meanwhile, back in the fictional theater of the Level I play
(the one with the title that's on the ticket you paid $90 for),
there's feisty dialogue going on between our struggling salesman
(who is obnoxious, hard-of-hearing, and from Texas)
and the guy in the next seat. This guy happens to be
the sleep-deprived author of the play they're watching ...
and other plays that get critiqued forthwith by the Texas salesman,
who obstinately refuses to turn off his cell-phone, ever.
Like all lyricists (myself included, I think), the artsy writer
is a bit manic, wound up like a clock-work detonation mechanism.
In the dramatic final scene, the meaning of our play's title
(yeah, you got it, the one on your $90 ticket) becomes apparent:
"The Death of a Cellphone".
It's a tragedy -- in more ways than one.
Deep, eh?

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Gift for the Class of 2010

Especially for Elizabeth !

You'll get enough congratulations from others.

So, I have something for you to talk about at your graduation party:
a way to kill time until you can open the envelopes and pocket the cash. I figured there must have been myriad attempts to write lyrics for Edward Elgar's March No. 1, "Pomp & Circumstance". After Googling for nearly four minutes, I found the original "Land of Hope and Glory" and a few others, but nothing with a graduation theme.
I did discover, though, that "Accept" has a heavy metal instrumental version. It's on their "Death Row" album -- the one with the cover that is obviously a rip-off of my logo on the home page of ""

Now, let's sing "Pomp & Circumstance" as we shuffle along.

We have to walk slowly.
We really look dumb.
This tempo is drolly.
There's Dad - but where's Mum?

They want to take photos,
So, keep turning their way.
Keep walking like Do-dos.
We'll be here all day.

(harmonica interlude)

We have to walk funny,
while they grin and they sob.
But they'll give us more money,
if we give them more pomp.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


*Note: This is from Dad's journal for June 1996.

We did it!
We graduated from High School today,
Student and parents, too:
A rite of passage for all three of us.
No more sleepy mornings
watching for the bus
as the smell of burning Poptarts fills the kitchen.
No more baloney sandwiches,
lovingly made in 30 seconds,
then forgotten just as quickly.
The chant of "Snow day, Snow day"
and the groans when it wasn't.
Countless parent-teacher conferences
with all the same questions
and the same lack of answers.
All the homework assignments
that never made it to school
and all the notes that never made it home.
The book bag that got dropped
in that spot by the door,
where it lay undisturbed
until someone gave the morning warning cry:
"Bus on the back road!"
The occasional disagreements
about how sick is too sick to go to school.
The roller-coaster report cards;
always getting by in the end.
Reaching past the exasperation
to find some more encouragement.
The winless debates about:
"Why do I have to do all this crap?"
The work, the worries,
the disappointments, the celebrations --
and now the pride.

We did it!

Friday, May 14, 2010


I found it hard to talk to girls:
A freshman, only five foot three.
No words emerged, if she had curls.
"Just be yourself", my Dad told me.

Did he think I'm someone else?
What he meant, I wasn't sure.
I didn't talk to madamoiselles
Til I became ... a sophomore.

Girlfriends came and girlfriends went,
But I let no one get too close.
Though I became quite eloquent,
I hid behind those clever jokes.

Eventually I met the one
Who loved the man behind the mask.
We were wed and raised a son.
For my advice, he didn't ask.

I gave it to him anyway.
I let him fall; I watched him grow.
"Just be yourself", was all I'd say.
That's all you really need to know.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Evolution is nothing more
than God taking very small steps.
Intelligent design is just taking time.
God hasn't finished creating us yet.
Thy Will be done on earth,
little by little.
When You're eternal,
always have been
and always will be,
There's really no need to hurry.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


In the Here and Now,
Time is a non-entity
Just as it is in Eternity.
In the absence of Time,
We cannot be moved or stopped.
We cannot cease to be.
Eternal life is Here and Now.
A gift that few unwrap.


The conductor looked down to his right,
where two cellists were squeezed in so tight
that neither poor fellow
had room for his cello,
but they were engaged by the end of the night.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


When I feel this pounding pounding
Through my sinuses resounding
It’s like someone’s driving pilings in my head.
A badly botched lobotomy
Or dancing hippopotamee
Playing Whack-a-Mole with mallets made of lead.

My neck has a propensity
For pain of such intensity
It surrendered to the force of gravity.
Neither Percocet nor Codeine
Stopped my brain cells from exploding
‘Til my sinuses got clogged with the debris.

So with my aching drooping skull
At least my days are never dull
I can count on having reasons to complain.
And I can chatter endlessly
Of course, it’s always about me
For the world revolves around my neck and brain.


The tree that you planted
under the window
has grown to block the sun.
Still, after all these years,
you don't have the heart
to cut that old tree down.


It's not about you!
It's not about us!
Don't get in a stew!
Don't make such a fuss!
Quite obviously,
It's all about me!

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Lesson for Grown-Ups

Children keep their sense of wonder
Even when hard rain is falling.
Why does lightning beat the thunder?
Why must all the birds stop calling?
Why do grown-ups keep complaining?
It won't stop the rain from raining!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Herman's Hermits 1965
You've heard Herman sing about Mrs. Brown's daughter.
Well, no one who's met her has ever forgot her.
Famous she'll be,
If you haven't yet met her, you really oughta.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The Good Book says God created Man in His own image and likeness.
Man returned the favor -- and Michelangelo notarized it
by creating a corporeal image of the Creator, as well as for Adam.
Scripture is still assumed to refer to bodies rather than souls.

Life then imitated Art; and millions more made the same wrong turn.
Man's imagination tends to be limited by his senses.
Even a genius, in the role of artist, has this limitation. Besides,
the fussy old pope probably demanded a picture he could see.

God is a whole lot bigger than our little brains can imagine.
The Universe, His creation, is not merely what it appears to be.
Neither are we. There is much we don't know about ourselves.
Of that we can be certain, humbly confident of our ignorance.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


A Philosophy Lecture Without Too Many Words
(and hardly any of them original)

Today's Topic: Philosophy, Ignorance and Stupidity

"One of these things is not like the others ..." ~ Sesame Street

phi-los-o-phy, n., the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. From the Greek, Philosophia, a "love of wisdom"
Most people have some knowledge, about something.
Others, like me, love it to pieces.
"We," said Majikthise, "are Philosophers."
"Though we may not be." said Vroomfondel ...
~ Douglas Adams, A Hitchhikers Guide ...
Benjamin Franklin was too smart to have said,
"We are all born ignorant,
but one must work hard to remain stupid."

Ignorance and stupidity are not the same.
I've known many ignorant, intelligent people.
Ben must have, too. Ignorance is hard work.
It's not easy to ignore everything you hear.
Stupidity is a gift from God, an abiding quality.
"We are surrounded by a deep and abiding stupidity."
~ Bob Herbert, New York Times
"I see dumb people."
~ I heard my son, Mike, say it a few times.
Ignorance, although curable, is even more pervasive.
Q. Hey! Didn't some wise man say that "Ignorance is bliss?"
A. Not exactly. In context, the poet (Gray, 1742) actually said:
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; Where ignorance is bliss, 'Tis folly to be wise.
Mark Twain was wise enough to say,
"To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence."
M. Scott Peck (Further Along the Road Less Traveled) was taught that
"Clothes make the make the man." However, "Disillusionment was bound to follow, because sooner or later it was inevitable that I would run across a well-dressed idiot." Dr. Peck then quotes a slogan on an apron (Anon.). Yes, an apron. "Before Truth, the Right Fork." This would be funny if it weren't so true.
Q. Who said this and when?
"Where ignorance is pervasive, Democracy ~ government by the people, ~ is the biggest threat there is to the success of democratic government."
A. I did. Just now. Plato probably said something like it 2300 years ago.

"Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing."
~ Euripedes

Monday, May 3, 2010


Life would be fairer to the fairer sex
if more women aspire to become architects.
At the theatre they wait in a very long line
due to a bias in building design.
I'm beginning to think men enjoy intermission
with time for a drink while the women are pissin’.

What genius decided that men are much bolder
and don’t mind standing shoulder to shoulder?
Some hold their breath and go anaerobic
if they're a bit shy or a tad homophobic.
Young building designers just don't understand
what maturity does to a prostate gland.

Architectural schools should give preference to
smart women who hate to wait in a queue.
Why don't older professors tell young ones to teach
what life can be like when you’ve got BPH?
Gentlemen and ladies would all be enthralled
if lots more dividers and stalls were installed.


Reality is, more or less, the Will of God.
Our Free Will accounts for the "less".
Nothing is anything,
if (or unless) God wills it,
or at least allows it.
I can do anything I wish, God willing.
Conversely, without God, I can do nothing.
Sometimes, God lets me do nothing.
He doesn't expect me to do anything!
Isn't that something?


Others don't understand,
because they don't hear,
because they don't listen,
because they don't care,
and, here's the main part,
because they think it's about them.

For them to accept you
just the way you are,
you must do the same for them,
with compassion, without judgment,
and, here's the hard part,
even when there is injustice.


First, a note.
My son is now grown.
However, "just because they've left doesn't mean they're gone."
This is the first of a series of poems about things I tried to teach him -- or that he taught me. The non-verbal lessons didn't become poems until long after the fact, when I had gained a better view. To read the others, wait a week or a year, return to this one and click on the label below entitled,
"teach the children".



Find your own limits and push gently on them.
They will protect you and strengthen you.
Let them move slowly due to your effort.
Don't try to break through, lest the damage become irreparable.
Limits need to be flexible - not brittle, nor staunch.
The next time you reach them, you may find them stretched a bit.
Like new shoes that were a half-size too small for you,
they will serve their purpose even better than before, for a while.
Don't expect others to move or remove your limitations for you.
Find your own limits and push gently on them.

Counting the Ways (2-7)*

I gaze upon the pond scum
and see your lovely face.
The emptiness of space
reminds me of your wisdom.
I caress the sphagnum
and feel you in its place.
The tree stump I embrace
can dance like you, so lissome.

The gentle touches of a leech
and your clinging have a semblance.
I detect your very essence
in all the fish up on the beach.
Such are the dreams of a lovestruck biologist.
Be grateful I'm not a parasitologist.

* See Blog entry for May 26, 2010 -- for an explanation of the
poetry series, "Counting the Ways". Click below on the label: "love".

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I'm too old to be young again.
I'm in too much pain to run.
Who needs another mountain, when
You just climbed over nine or ten?
Why re-fight those battles won?

I hear the children as they play
With laughter and exhilaration.
They submit to what the grown-ups say,
When they know there is a better way.
So, each day ends with aggravation

There is no need for sweat or speed
With music, art, or pen and pad.
I'm quite content to sit and read.
Bones won't break, mistakes don't bleed.
See? Not so young is not so bad.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


If the body's so smart to send pain to the brain
to tell it that something is wrong,
how come it's so dumb that it doesn't get numb
when the thing that was wrong is gone?


You will shatter it
if you name it ~ like silence.
Why dissect a rose?


A dream is real until it becomes a tale.
Words are from a different world.
They will fail you.
So just embrace it.
Let it rumble in the depths.
Hold the unspoken with your soul.