New Book, New Gig, New Job

Hello Everyone,

Apologies for the lack of postings recently, unfortunately that may continue for a bit as I get used to a new job. I’m working as an installer for a well-known home security firm. Currently, I’m in training because they want me to end up doing it the right way instead of letting customers deal with “looks good enough” which I think is a pretty good idea. So that has taken some time.

Also there has been band practice. I’m playing bass in an eclectic band that so far covers mostly punk, but some psychedelic rock, as well as some straight-up 70’s rock. We’re not bad and we’ve been working pretty hard on the sets and we’ve landed our first gig for this Friday night at 8pm (if you happen to be in Florence, SC on the 10th the show is at F. E. Pops, so come on out to Five Points and see us), so as you can imagine I’ve been practicing like there is no tomorrow. This has nothing to due with being nervous as the least musically accomplished member of the band, well maybe a little—but it should be fun. And it’s a dream I’ve had for a while now, so there’s that off the bucket list.

School is going well and I am on course to achieve my second master’s degree, this one in creative writing early next year. I am hoping improvements will show in my writings. There are three additional books in the works: a sci-fi novel disguised as a high fantasy epic, a collection of shorts based on the idea of karma as an active agency in the world, and a memoir detailing my survival of three strokes and the road to recover, as well as additional ideas that keep popping up like a short horror fantasy about a guy dealing with Lovecraftian entities who loses his hereditary amulet due to a slack roommate—cause what would-be universal savior can afford an apartment by themselves these days. In short, a lot of stuff going on is preventing me from updating you, my loyal readers and for that, I apologize.

On to the meat of the matter, I have finally completed Volume One of my Halloween poetry collection. This first one is titled Haunted Verses Haunting, because I thought it was an interesting play on words. This is all of my Halloween or Autumn oriented poetry to date collected in one place. By which I mean, if you have purchased the previous three books, you’ve read all these poems so don’t feel obligated to buy the collection. Should you feel the need to have them all in one place though, go here: and for the price of $15 USD you can own a copy. The cover looks like this:

There are, of course, words inserted on top of the picture, but I thought the picture itself was kind of haunting and so ditched the original idea of my face in a mirror, bottom lit with a candle or red flashlight—maybe next time.

If you’re wondering what’s inside, here’s a taste:

Voodoo Dolly


It doesn’t look much like you
But then it doesn’t have to
I took a piece of your hair
And sewed it up in there
Now the linkage is true
From voodoo doll to you
Drop, stab, poke, or burn
We’ll see when it’s your turn
But for now, you go on the shelf
With all the other dollies that I made myself.

I hope you enjoy them, get a little chill and a small chuckle, but mostly a smile or two. Because Halloween is coming, and I want us all to be ready.

A New Collections is Out Now

Hello friends and readers.

I’ve finally gotten my poetry retrospective for 2020 out, and it only took 6 months! I have to admit, I was somewhat unpleasantly surprised at exactly how much time a job search could take up on a weekly basis. It is not a valid scientific experiment because I could not control the other variables such as Open Mic closures due to the pandemic, general malaise, and constant worry over whether it was okay to include previously published poems that happened to be written in 2020 but I believe that looking for work added approximately an extra 10 – 20 hours above and beyond the normal 40 that I would have been working. I am certain the lack of poetic output was directly influenced by the lack of crowd feedback at the Open Mic nights.

These factors contributed to the delay in publication as well as the relative paucity of poems available for the year. Compared to A Year of Thursday Nights, the new book, Hindsight: Poetry in 2020 is about half of the length. The poems are good, I feel and hope you’ll agree. Some have appeared here, some on my Facebook page Open Your Mic, and still others in Book of the Unnamed Future although most are new. The book ranges from everyday observations through political commentary and ends with poems from my creative writing master’s course. There are two instances of the same poem in different forms from this latter period. I thought getting a look at poetic indecision and editing processes might be nice. At any rate, the cover uses this picture:

Which I felt was appropriate for the year we’ve left behind. You can find it on Amazon here

I included the cover photo because I apparently joined a club of fellow authors that all thought we were being really clever in calling our books Hindsight/2020. This is so you can be sure you’re buying the book you intend to purchase. In hindsight, maybe we weren’t all that clever after all.

A final note: if you purchase the book and happen to be in Florence, SC get in touch with me and I will happily sign it for you.

When Can You Call a Piece Finished?

Putting together a collection of poetry, or short stories, or paintings, or photographs (making an assumption on the latter two, not being a visual artist) is difficult precisely because it requires knowing when a particular piece is done. With the written word aspects, there is the world of endless revision. Word choices, sentence structures. Period or comma? Constantly second-guessing the work all the while attempting to bring forth the best version of the idea of which you are capable. These are not simple tasks. Again assuming here, I suppose visual artists go through something similar—just a touch more color there, another stroke of the brush here. All of this adds up to the creation of a single piece.

Then when you try to create a collection there are new but similar questions.

Is this piece as good as the rest? Does it fit the theme? Do I want it as the first or thirty-first piece? Hopefully by the time you reach the point where you are assembling a collection for production you’ve already gotten past the anxiety-producing thoughts. If not, likely you’re also wrestling with questions like Who am I to put out a collection of my art? or Will anyone even want to read this? or Am I wasting my time?

I am by no means an expert, nor widely accomplished in these fields. My credentials are two collections of poetry to my name, there are plans for two more—hopefully this year—and a willingness to offer unsolicited advice. Feel free to ignore that advice, it is what worked for me, but your path may be different. I am not trying to convince you that this is the only way to resolve the presented questions, only that it is A way to resolve them.

Let’s tackle the questions in reverse order of presentation. If you are still at the anxiety stage, where you question not if the piece is good but whether you are—stop. If you enjoy what you are doing, it is NOT a waste of time. Enjoyment of how you spend your time is crucial to living well. The act of creating something is a reward and accomplishment in and of itself; anybody else that appreciates (and hopefully purchases a copy) is just a bonus. You are you. You are a unique perspective in all time and space, in all of history or future there has never been nor ever will be a you, except for here and now. Capture your uniqueness and let the world see it. Someone will appreciate and love it. That I can promise you.

Also, never forget that someone actually got a book on different types of poop published and sold in large retail book stores. In a world where that can happen, where a professional editor and a reputable publisher decided that a book on various poos was the thing that the reading public needed, anything is possible.

As for the stylistic questions, they all have the same answer. It’s not. Finished that is. A work of art, of creation is a living thing, always growing, always surprising you with something new. So to get the collection to a state of being done, you just have to decide that it is, in fact, done. Feel free to mentally add “for now”.

I struggled with this for a while before publishing A Year of Thursday Nights. I had the idea that due to the theme of the book being poems I’d written and performed at a year of open mike nights, that I couldn’t change the poems. So I beat myself up over mistakes in grammar, in word choice, in spelling. Okay, the spelling I corrected without thinking too much about it but the other things bugged me. Then I came to realize that poetry is art and art is about expressing an idea or feeling and not necessarily about being exactly correct.

So I guess my advice on when a work is finished boils down to it’s done when you say it’s done. Don’t get too hung up on details. And that brings us to the poem for this post.

One of my best fans introduced me to her daughter the other day. Laurie (the fan, not going to name the minor daughter) and I got to talking about missing the open mike nights due to the pandemic and both being just about ready for this to be over with already. She then offered me a prompt for a poem. Bullies. Her daughter was being bullied at school. The three of us discussed this. The daughter appeared to be embarrassed to be talking about this with a person she just met. Or possibly she was just embarrassed to be the topic of conversation. I don’t really remember being 11 years old and somewhat obviously have no idea what a pre-teen girl is feeling. The point is that I gave her some useless adult-type advice, basically that in 10 years or so, she was going to realize that the bullies had the issues and she didn’t. There may have been a fuck them and their opinion in there as well. Also somewhat unhelpful advice. The first bit stuck with me though and inspired the following poem about bullying. I mean, really, telling someone that in another full lifetime it will seem better is silly.

Ghosts of Wallflowers


Visiting the old halls, they echo, they resound
With the laughter of children, the screams of teens,
And now older steps driving the phantoms into the past
Where they belong, where they live, where they haunt
Where they cannot burst the silences of the shy
The hallowed halls of learning, of yearning, of escape
We disremember what they taught
If we’re lucky, we remember the pleasant times, the smiles, the friends
If not, if luck abandons and lets fate have its rule
We remember the harrowing taunts, the small betrayals, the ends
But we misremember when we call them small
When you are little, these small bumps in the road, tiny molehills, momentary diversions,
Seem as cliffs, as mountains, as endings.
Looking back and telling the young that things get better in time, with age, in ten years or so you will remember all these times as not so large, so important, so impending
Is foolish. When ten years is the totality of your span, another ten is a lifetime, an eternity, an endless wait, a forever away
Wait for change they say. Wait for growth. You’ll see things differently. Things do get better.
It’s hard to believe when things do not seem to change. When time itself is so short. When experience does not extend beyond social trials. And you are always the condemned.
As the rooms pass, recall the echoes of the past: Language Arts—Why are you so ugly? Algebra—Why are you so stupid? Economics—So tall? Gym—So little? Geometry—So smart? Lunch—So fat? History—so skinny?
Move faster down the hall, escape the memories: English—So different? Science—Why do you dress like that? Spanish—Talk like that? Drama—Cry so much? Study Hall—Why are you not like me?     
They were not like you. You were not like them. Individually unique, each and all. Like everyone through all ages, all periods, all histories, unappreciated in your time.
Revisit the people in your mind, the ones that made you cry, the ones that made you smile, the ones you made cry, or frown, or chuckle.
Recall the seemingly silly advice you were given, by well meaning teachers, hapless adults, and caring parents
Time heals all wounds, this will pass, you’ll get over it, don’t let what others think affect you, don’t choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem, it’s not really that big of a deal—you’ll see once you’re older.
And other good, true, and solid statements of support that require the benefits of a wider perspective, of more years, of older age that simply isn’t present yet.
None of them could remember what it was like, what it meant, how it felt to be so powerless, so helpless, so young.
They survived the innocent abuse, the mindless cruelty, the unstoppable teasing of youth. They don’t really remember it. They don’t really want to.
It’s shunted away in a dark corner of their mind, because school is the best time of their life. That’s what they were told. So that’s what they repeat. Because they think that helps.
Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t. The ghosts in the halls aren’t saying.
Because they can’t. They don’t have voices anymore. Except in tainted memories.
So wander those halls. Wonder about those missing voices. Would a kind word have helped? Could you have made a difference? Is it even possible to lead a lost soul out of the halls of hell school?
I have to hope so. I have to believe so. The people that made it out make me think it so.
So how to rescue the wallflowers before they are plucked, the unique gemstones before they are cracked and shattered, the youths before they become the deaths?
Show the flowers that the rainstorms do end, that they are stronger afterwards, more firmly rooted in themselves.
Polish the gems to a fierce brightness, set them in foundations of supporting steel, and let them ring the world.
Teach the youths, help them to find the bright spots of joy in their lives, to embrace their moments of happiness, give them kind words and thoughts to spread.
Impart the most important of wisdoms—patience, persistence, and perspective.
The ghosts of wallflowers previous cannot be quieted.
They cannot be banished.
They cannot be exorcised.
They cannot be resurrected.
They will remain in the halls of the mind.
Don’t add to their dismal chorus.

A Friend’s Book is Out and a New Poem

Hello everyone,

My friend, Tyler James Cook, has published a collection of minute-mysteries highlighting the ones that caused 3AM college campus arguments because the solution was not evident within the text. You can find it here:

Please note that it is a well done book, but similar to Monty Python’s Camelot, ’tis a silly place. Inspector Gerard is a wonderfully absurd detective in a delightfully abstract world. You will find yourself wondering how exactly in the hell did he pull that solution out of his hind-quarters in the finest tradition of the minute-mystery series of yore. The fact that the Kindle version released on April 1st should tell you all you need to know about it (or at least give you a clue—c’mon April Fool’s Day). I cannot recommend this book enough as Tyler has promised to continue the series if he gets enough sales. Mind you, he hasn’t said what constitutes “enough” but in the manner of Gerard, I am concluding that he means “any”. It is a fun read, especially coupled with your mind-altering substance of choice (alcohol in my case). To truly sell you on the book, here is a picture of a cat tuckered out after a long day of interfering with typing reviews by laying on keyboards whilst mewing pitifully that he doesn’t get enough pets, food, attention, etc.

I is soooo tired from walking on keys. Simply exhausting.

The New Poem

My daughter recently turned 19. I wrote this for her to mark her transition into semi-proper adulthood as opposed to simple legal adultishness at 18. That extra year makes a huge difference, you know. She’s almost no longer a teen-ager. I think it applies generally to any age where changes are occurring (except maybe the switch from 2-year-old to 3-year-old, they don’t listen anyway). I hope you enjoy.

Adulting Advice
Adulting is hard. This is a known thing.
So I want to give you advice,
Things pithy and wise, useful and encouraging
simply because I’m further down the path than you.
It feels like my right.
But looking back, your path is different,
new choices I’ve not seen before, new voices I’ve not heard before, new vistas arrayed before you.
And I realize my specific advice is useless, wasted, unneeded, and unwanted
so good fatherly advice becomes empty platitudes, generalized attitudes, and mostly wack.
So instead of offering guiding lights to the little darkness grown,
I will instead proffer these simple thoughts, hopes, and dreams for you.
May you always get back up after each tumbling trouble—there is nothing you cannot overcome with persistence, and wit, and effort.
May you always see truly and not be deceived, by the world, by others, or by yourself—there is no lie you cannot pierce with patience, with trust, and with understanding.
May you always find your path leads you to where you are most happy—whether the joy lies in the destination, or lies in the journey there to, or lies in the companions you choose.
May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be wise. But most importantly,
May you be you.

New Short Story Project

Hello friends,

It’s been a hectic period which is why I haven’t posted here much lately. Poems are still getting written, just at a slightly slower pace. Classes for the latest degree are done for now (about 2 months), so naturally I assigned myself numerous projects—namely a new book of poetry to be centered around holiday themes (giving Halloween its proper place of prominence, of course), a possible additional book of poetry assuming I have enough material, a memoir on experiencing three strokes and the process of recovery, and most recently a book of interrelated short stories tentatively called Karma Chronicles of which there are currently 4 stories written (only two have made it to the computer, the others are still in long hand form). The general theme of the shorts is people making choices or wishes, then getting exactly what they stated they desired in a way that they deserved. I’ll be posting chapters here as they are drafted, and as I find time (on a new contract job with 12 hours shifts for the next few weeks and I’ve found that regardless of how awesome I think I am, or how very motivated I get, or even how much coffee I can consume—it’s a lot—I still need sleep). At any rate, comments and critiques are welcome (if anyone can tell me how to do a general approval, it would be appreciated—right now some setting is forcing me to approve every comment before they show and I’d much rather just delete the ones that are offensive. I’m not easily offended so that would be the easier and much less intensive task I believe). The first entry starts below. This is a second draft so please do let me know what you think.

Possible trigger warnings: someone gets shot though it’s not graphically described, a dog dies—again not graphically described, and some light blasphemy dependent on your belief basis (although, if you’re here, reading my blog, I don’t imagine that would be a problem)

And now the story:

Dave’s Last Choice

“Alexa, what’s the temperature?”

The Kindle screen flashed on as the voice replied “It is currently 48 degrees Fahrenheit with an expected low of 28 degrees. You know, you can personalize your voice responses with a brief setup conversation. Would you like to do that now?”

“No, thank you Alexa.”

Dave finished tying his walking boots and selected the heavier black overcoat passing up the longer, thinner leather trench coat. Shrugging it on, he grabbed the fedora from the coat stand on his way out the bedroom door. The brief, but necessary, after work nap had refreshed him enough for the nightly task of walking the dog. Walking at night had become a habit, the mile-long walk was the only commitment to exercise he’d accomplished since the stroke had robbed him of easy mobility two years ago—the dog was a relatively recent addition to the routine. He walked at night because the heat of the day was unbearable during the non-winter months in the long sleeves Dave insisted on wearing year-round—in black no less. Dave rarely compromised when he’d decided on a fashion. He’d once heard someone say never let the weather dictate fashion. Pithy sayings often stuck with him. No matter how foolish. Long sleeves felt right. Short sleeves wrong. It was that simple for Dave.

 The walks also helped to lower his stress levels after being on the phone for eight hours assisting people to turn their computers off and back on. Computers and data were fine, those he could deal with, they presented few problems; people were idiots, they caused problems. No, they were problems. Problems without solutions. Dave’s boss insisted that Dave think of them as customers. Dave felt his boss was also a bit of an idiot.

So Dave walked. Dave walked to relieve the stress. Dave walked to clear his mind. Dave walked to renew his soul. Dave tried to maintain a sense of Zen. Dave often failed at this.

Dave walked at night. The dog had joined in with the glee of her kind for walks of any type. Roughly a year ago, Lucy had come to live with him and his wife as sort of a package deal. His twenty-six-year-old niece, Holly, her two young daughters, and their dog had hurriedly exited a domestic situation that had been rapidly approaching physical abuse. Holly’s ex was still hung up on her. Moving on did not seem to be in the boy’s nature. It had been a year. Get over it already.  Dave had been meaning to get a camera system installed just in case tires got slashed. Again.

 Dave didn’t mind adding the dog to the nightly walk, much. Her consistent sniffing of various interesting scents, of which there were apparently many, did add about twenty minutes increasing the walk time to an hour around the neighborhood. But it was an extra twenty minutes of attempted calm.

Moving quietly past the toddler’s room, he went carefully down the stairs, a hand on either banister rail to catch his balance should it waver. It hadn’t for the last year or so, but the instinct was still there from the physical therapy sessions. Weaker left foot down first when going downstairs, opposite when going up; bad foot down towards hell, good foot up towards heaven was the mnemonic the therapist gave him. Adjusting the headphones for a more comfortable fit, he cranked the volume on the industrial playlist for tonight’s walk. Passing by the doorway to the living room, he was spotted by the dog. She’d been lying on the couch with her head in her person’s lap, but very aware of the time. He was running late. Not late enough for her to start whining, but her concern was showing. It was time. For. The. Walk. Just the greatest event ever in the history of dogkind. Every night it happened around this time, but every night her excitement was puppy-level enthusiastic.

Dave retrieved the leash from the kitchen and before rattling it once, she was sitting beside him quivering with repressed anticipation on the tile floor. Her speed was teleportation quick. If he hadn’t heard the clicking of claws on the tile, he would have suspected she’d been there the entire time. This was their routine. Attaching the leash to the barely restraining herself dog, they moved to the interior garage door. Once that door was open, the race to the exterior garage door was on. Fortunately, the leash was the fifteen-foot variety, so she didn’t choke herself in her excitement to check the state of the neighborhood. She had responsibilities; people needed to be inside their homes—they had no reason to be out what’s wrong with them; animals needed to be made aware she was on patrol—in MY neighborhood y’all vermin better recognize; any floating balloons needed to be fearfully barked at—things shouldn’t float in the air; there was stuff to do—the walking patrol is a heavy duty, but some dog has to do it.

The explosion of light and sound upon opening the door was new. As was the cloud of smoke and blast of fire exiting the barrel behind the buckshot. The sudden thrust to Dave’s chest was unexpected. This was not part of the routine. The movies hadn’t prepared anyone for this. Books lied. When shot, there isn’t time for a funny quip or deep, meaningful last thoughts. There was simply a thunderbolt to the chest, a body being thrown backwards to the ground, overcoat enfolding like the wings of a burial shroud, and a thudding wet slap of a body striking concrete. The frightened howl of a dog suddenly slapped by the rapid retraction of a leash handle. And darkness. Dave’s eyes closed for the last time. Dave was dead.

An Eternity and an Instant Later

Dave found himself seated in the high-backed chair in his den. The house was still. There was no noise. At all. No sound from the heater vents, no cool wind rattling the windows. Nothing. The silence was eerie in its completeness. He didn’t even hear his own breath. The unearthly quiet delayed his realization for a moment. He wasn’t alone.

 The person sitting across the room on the settee was unsettling. Dave’s mind couldn’t decide if they were male or female. The person seemed to shift from one to the other in a fluid motion. Starting as a Victorian woman and morphing into a modern era man as they shifted position to get more comfortable then to a small girl from Elizabethan times and then an old man as the girl kicked her legs which grew longer and her dress morphed into pant legs. It was a touch unnerving.

Dave leaned back in the lounge chair. “So. Can I get you anything, coffee, tea, a beer, the hell out of my house?”

“Dave, Dave, Dave. There’s no need to be rude. And I’m not sure it qualifies as your house anymore,” said the now young man.

“What do mean it’s not my house? And could you maybe stop doing that?”


“Changing forms like that. It’s disturbing.”

“Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to upset you any more than needful. That’s why I chose the music room for this,” she said adjusting her janitor’s uniform.

“Music room? I hardly think adding a cat-torn amp, a bass guitar, an old flute, and a music stand makes a den into a music room.”

The middle-aged banker replied, “Well, sometimes it really is the thought that counts. Plus doing this in the living room would be, well, not really rude, but awkward, and I didn’t want to hear the puns.”


“Yes, puns,” stated the 50s schoolmarm, “you have no idea how bad they can get with them.”

“I really don’t understand, what puns and who are you talking about?”

“The puns—living room, you’re dead, in the living room—get it?” shaking his head sadly while adjusting his disco collar. “It’s not really even funny, but then a lot of puns aren’t, but you can’t tell a punster that, they’ll just keep trying and trying and getting less and less funny. No, best to avoid it from the start.”

“Wait, I’m dead?”

“Ummm, ye-aaah. Didn’t we go over that? Are you paying attention at all?” asked the teeny-bopper in between pops and smacks of bubble gum. She resembled Tracey from high school. Dave had had trouble forgiving himself for making her cry in class. She’d been stupid. She’d said something annoying, and he’d lit into her mercilessly. He couldn’t remember what exactly it was she had said, only that it was insulting towards someone that was out of the room. After he’d matured a little, he’d felt bad about it but had never found her to apologize. He sometimes wondered if she remembered. He did.

“How am I supposed to pay attention when you keep changing appearance every ten seconds! It’s distracting, it’s unsettling, it’s frankly quite disturbing!”

“Well, I could go all traditional on you, but nobody ever likes that one, so no, I don’t think I will—I don’t like to be…scary,” a shadow passed over the figure like a cowl, leaving the impression of a skeletal figure holding an hourglass with a scythe laid across the knees, “but I can…if you like”.

“No, no, that’s okay. I’ll adapt. It’s not that disturbing” Dave’s voice trembled, “but maybe you could pick one image and stick with it?”

“Hmmmm, noooo, I don’t think so. This is more fun. For me,” he said appearing as a sumo wrestler, “and it gets you ready for when they come.”


The flapper sighed resting her chin in her hand, “Didn’t we go over this? Your guides to the afterlife.”

“Is that not you?”

“Oh my, aren’t you precious,” said his aunt Matilda, “Bless your heart, not for a long time now, not since the split.” Matilda had taught Dave to read. Well, to read properly by moving his eyes and not his entire head. She’d patiently sat with him holding her hands on either side of his head while he found one of his greatest joys in life.

“The split?”

The wild-white-haired professor looked up from his notes, “Don’t you ever pay attention? The split, the fall, serpent, garden, fruit? Why do I always have to explain everything?” Peering over his Prince-nez spectacles, professor Skoko, who had prepared Dave for much of his life with the simple wisdom of always consider the source, continued, “Very well I shall elucidate for you.”

Shaking her golden locks, the starlet continued, “Since the split, representatives from both sides come to talk with you. Then you pick one to go with or not. All in accordance with the Free Will doctrine, neat, tidy, and efficient…when they bother to show up on time.”

“Wait, so I don’t have to go? I can stay here?”

“Yes, technically, you could,” sighed the put-upon librarian, Mrs. Brown, “although, I don’t recommend it.” Mrs. Brown, Dave recalled, was one of the first people to recognize how very bright he was. She let him check out extra books in elementary because she knew he’d finish twice as many books as the other students. And he was polite. And she liked that he read. Everything.

“Yeah, but I could totally haunt my killer, right, I was killed right?”

“Yes, but what happens after he dies? You’re stuck here. For eternity. Wandering the earth, randomly scaring people. Forever. And that’s a mighty long time,” sang the Purple One.

“So when these guides show up, I just pick the angel and go to heaven? There’s no judgment?”

“Sorta, kinda, but not that simple, “shrugged the convenience store clerk, who looked remarkable like Jared, Dave’s high school friend and rival, “You judge yourself by the choice you make. Because the choice is the outcome of who you’ve been. One of the new theories of Free Will, every choice is dictated by the previous choices and you can’t really choose against your nature, which some then argue means it’s not really Free Will and never was, and then the fighting starts for real…Look, do you really want a philosophy lesson here and now? Hmmmm?” He sounded just like Jared. They’d argued philosophy and physics and abstract mathematics in between classes. Both had graduated in the top ten of their class. Neither had really tried or they would have been first and second. Jared would have been first. Dave still resented that Jared was slightly smarter than him. Or at least, he’d tested better. That’s what Dave had told himself anyway.

“Umm, no?” Dave’s uncertainty showing as the appearance of Jared reminded him that he didn’t always come out on top with tests. He often made assumptions that turned out not to be correct. His wife Lacey usually said he was always wrong when he assumed. Dave was sure there was at least once when he’d been right, but he could never figure out which time it was. Sometimes, he was so smart he was actually kind of stupid. He’d been told that he lacked common sense. He assumed they were wrong. They were not.

  “Alrighty then, where was I before I was so rudely interrupted…”, continued his previous boss, a micromanager who had been killed in an office shooting by a disgruntled employee. Dave found the voice difficult to listen to. He always had. “…so you’ll choose between them based on who you are and what you’ve made of yourself. Simple. Only thing though, is the Angels, both of them, will not appear as what you’re expecting. Cinema has lied to you. There will be no halos or pitchforks, no wings or tails, just two individuals presenting their sides’ case. You get to judge between them and then choose. The choice is the thing. And I do wish they’d hurry up already. It’s not like it’s easy dilating time like this and carrying on a conversation with a mortal that does not pay attention doesn’t help.”

“Wow. Sorry to be an inconvenience.”

The old granny smiled sweetly. The slight hint of an accent came through, mostly on the vowels, just like Dave’s own grandmother’s voice had betrayed a British accent at times. “It’s not you honey, it’s them. Ever since Fate, Destiny, Luck, and Fortune played that card game that resulted in Chaos Theory, things have run amok. I swear, some days…”

“Wait a minute, go back, time is dilated? Has my killer made it inside the house? I could go save my family?”

“Yes. No. Probably not,” replied the milkman in a singsong mantra.

“Whadda ya mean probably not? If he’s not inside, I go to the garage and stop him. Simple.”

“Is it? Is it really? Simple? You think? How do you plan to stop him? You’re invisible, you can’t be seen. You can’t affect the material world right now. So what, exactly, would you do? Other than watch your loved ones get shot. You want that? Really?” the priest watched his head go down, “yeah, didn’t think so.”

“Besides, want to, do you really? Your feelings, if you find them you can, search,” mumbled Dave’s karate instructor. The sensei had always phrased his lessons in that way. He seemed to think it sounded wise. Dave wasn’t so sure. Odd sentence structure that made you think about the words didn’t necessarily mean you absorbed them any better.  Sometimes it just made you giggle. Dave wasn’t giggling now.

Dave searched. Then he searched again, disbelieving what he found the first time. And one more time. The third search confirmed it.  He noticed that while he thought he should care; he didn’t really feel it. The concern just wasn’t there anymore. “Why don’t I care anymore? What’s happened?”

“Elementary, my dear Dave,” replied Christopher Lee in full Sherlock regalia, “your emotions are centered in your flesh. You are not currently in your flesh. All you have is memories of your feelings. These can give you insights into yourself, but they cannot generate real emotions. But do please pay attention to those insights. They may be helpful at some point. And, really, you should pay more attention, it’s your Ever After we’re talking about and I am sure I mentioned your choice is Forever. But I like you Dave, you’re fun to play with, so here’s a freebee. No other person dies here tonight.”

“But” began Dave only to stammer, “when did they get here?” As two figures were now flanking the apparition on the settee. They didn’t enter, they just suddenly were.

There was no androgyny about them. One was clearly male, a typical specimen. Short unkempt hair heading towards shaggy, medium build, worn jeans—stained with what was probably oil, work boots, a black leather jacket, and lightly stubbled cheeks indicating a glancing familiarity with a razor but not a close friendship. One corner of his was mouth turned up. His eyes seemed to say he’d rather be off relaxing with a beer, but he had to be here, and the sooner done the better—or maybe Dave was reading too much of himself into that expression. Dave would have liked to be off having a drink somewhere, instead of what was beginning to feel like an intervention. The one failed Alcoholics Anonymous meeting had been enough. Dave didn’t have a drinking problem. Dave had willpower. Dave had insight. Dave had it under control. Dave could see this guy sneaking out with him. It was a good feeling.

And the other was just as clearly the epitome of female. Of a certain type. An overweight, judgmental, Sunday-go-to-meeting type right down to the gingham dress of bright yellow and white squares. Dave could practically smell the perfume he imagined she would use—that little old lady bathroom odor that is so flowery-sweet as to be nausea inducing that seems to get issued en masse to matrons when they hit retirement age. They don’t have to use it, but they do, and it had always bugged Dave to no end. She brought to mind Dave’s aunt Hilda. Hilda was an enormous woman with folds of flesh to entrap her nephew whenever she hugged him. Which was every time she saw him. Which was every Sunday. She stopped by his parent’s house on her way back from church. Which meant that her hellion brood came along. Dave didn’t care for his cousins. Dave didn’t know why she took them with her. As far as he knew that church didn’t do exorcisms. Dave grew up disliking Hilda’s holier-than-thou attitude towards his family, her disapproval clear in every gesture and sniff of her nose. Always trying to save everyone. It was the height of irony to Dave that she’d been unable to save herself. Hilda died from a heart attack, complicated by her size. Dave became somewhat obsessive about weight after her death. Nobody should die because the paramedics couldn’t flip them over for CPR.

The female figure on the settee looked like she would have been a friend to Hilda. Would definitely have known her from church. The woman’s expression screamed disapproval, of the house, of the world, and specifically, of Dave.

They had appeared on either side of the first apparition. The lady bumped him with her shoulder. “We’ll take it from here Azzy.” Her voice sharp and nasally. “You can go ahead and resume your proper form now, I think he’s gotten the gist of things.”

The detective costume faded into a cowled robe of darkness. Dave didn’t know exactly how he managed it, but the skeleton’s face appeared disgruntled. A slow murmur of sound crept back into hearing, as if listening to voices underwater.

“Fine,” Azzy shrugged, “you two always handle things so well, always so punctual and efficient, I’ll just go ahead and release the hold on time now as well, shall I?”

“That works for me,” the man drawled, “this shouldn’t take too long, the choice between us is a bit obvious, after all.”

“Well, I don’t know about that at all,” she said as she peered over the top of her bifocals at Dave, “We have to give him the options, rules are rules, and they apply to everyone. As you constantly forget, or pretend to,” tightening her mouth as her eyes cut over to the man.

A great sigh from the man, “Okay, fine, have it your way,” he said turning his head to look at Dave,” Hi there, I’m Michael, you can call me Mike though. Come with me. It’s more fun, we are much more relaxed than the wound-up old biddy here. The only real rule is don’t be an ass. Everything else pretty much common sense.  Everyone is welcome, we are a very diverse bunch. And most importantly, we do not judge. So, there, that’s my spiel, and now over to you,” he concluded with a nod and wink to the woman.

In an outbreath, “Hwhell. Wasn’t that just terrific. Great introduction there Michael, don’t prejudice him at all. Biased bastard.” The last words swallowed somewhat under her breath. She turned back to Dave while adjusting her glasses and smiling cheerfully, like a crocodile. “What have we here?”

“David. Edward. Whillaby.” Each name pronounced this way shrank Dave into his chair just a little more, recalling the beginning of unpleasant childhood lectures. “You may call me Justine. And while Mike,” indicated with a wave of her hand and disdain in her high-pitched voice, “prefers to be all slack and lazy, we offer so much more. For the right people. For, our kind of people. Everyone with a place and everyone in their place. And yes, there is judgment, but how else will you know you’re progressing? And that’s what we’re about David, progress. David Whillaby, you belong with people like you, people who’ve been through the kind of things that you’ve been through. People who understand people like you. People, who are like us. There is no point to mixing with inferiors, it dilutes the base and produces very pretty, but, worthless junky people. So make the right choice, come be with your own kind.”

Dave leaned forward resting his face in his hands, elbows on knees. “Can I think about this for a few minutes?”

Mike and Justine talked over each other, “Sure, no problem, take your time, it’s a big call.” “Don’t take too long, we don’t have all the time in the world, young man.”

The skeleton rolled his eyes, “He does, until he decides, he’s not going anywhere, and you know it, Justine.”

“Azrael Reficule Lucifuge, did anyone ask you? No. I did not hear anyone either, so kindly pipe down.”

Dave looked at both representatives in turn. Mike gave him a subtle nod. Justine a quiet glare. This decision was going to be an easy one. Mike seemed pretty chill and who in their right mind would want to hang around with Justine for more time than it took to make up an excuse to leave? Not Dave, that’s for sure. The low murmur of voices raised in volume briefly like shouting and a distant sound of sirens rang through the dimly through the air.

“Tick tok, tick tok,” Justine’s head bobbed side to side with each word.

“Let him think,” Mike shushed her.

He was about to open his mouth when he noticed Azrael glance to the doorway. He turned to face the opening behind him. A low black shadow was there. It moved forward and resolved into the dog, Lucy. She came forward and rested her head on Dave’s knee.

“Hwhat is that doing here?” shrieked Justine.

Azrael turned to look at her motioning at the dog with his skeletal hand. “She died.” Indicating himself with his other hand, “Angel of Death, duh?” both hands flipping out on the last word.

Dave stared at Azrael. “You said nobody else would die here. I thought you people had to tell the truth. She’s dead.”

The cowled head regarded Dave, “Think back carefully on what I said Dave. We don’t lie, but what you perceive in our words is not in our control. A person and a body are not the same. Sometimes you overthink. Sometimes you assume. Sometimes you end up blocking yourself. Don’t let your prejudices cloud what you really think. Think.”

“Still a rule violation,” snarked Justine.

“Which rule?” Azrael asked shifting his gaze back to Justine.

“Rule 43.1 subsection b—no outside interference” spouted Justine.

Azrael sighed, “Justine, you know that rule only applies to sentients.”

“Yeah, lighten up Justine, it’s just a dog, no harm done,” Mike interrupted, “What’s her name?”

“It’s the principle of the thing,” muttered Justine under her breath as Dave replied, “Lucy. Lucy Furr.”

At her name, Lucy lifted her head and noticed the others in the room.

Justine had an affronted look as if she were wounded, “That is a highly inappropriate name”.

Mike couldn’t stop the chuckles, “Yeah, but big black dog, called Lucy Furr, Lucyfurr the dog, c’mon that’s funny, I don’t care who you are.”

 Azrael just shook his head, “A pun. Thought we’d avoided them, but no, you had to name the dog that. Great. Just great.”

“Az, lighten up, you have no sense of humor.”

“Well, Mike, I have an excellent sense of humor—puns are not humor. Besides, your sense of humor would disappear pretty quick if you spent all Eternity as a skeleton.”

Mike muttered, “Maybe I’d look for my funny-bone.”

“Puns are the lowest form of humor, Mike, please stop, Justine doesn’t do it.”

“That’s because I find nothing funny about a lower order being present. It shouldn’t be here.”

“But she is, and look she’s noticed you both,” snarked Azrael.

Lucy moved towards the settee to investigate the newcomers. At Mike, she crouched low and her hackles rose with her low growl. “Some dogs don’t take to me immediately. Don’t know why. It’s cool though, they get used to me in time, don’t they girl?” He leaned forward to stroke her head and immediately pulled his hand back as she snapped at him. He shrugged leaning back. “Some take longer than others,” he smiled.

“She never does that, I’m so sorry, don’t know what got into her.”

Azrael, she ignored as if she didn’t see him.

But Justine, Justine got jumped on. A happy, so-excited-to-see-you jump, a where-have-you-been jump. And Lucy whined like a puppy. This left Justine seeming flustered as she tried to move the dog back to the floor.

Azrael’s previous small speech had set Dave thinking. Possibly just as importantly, it set Dave to observing. He went back over the statements of both Justine and Mike, now with the understanding that they could lie, by omission or persuasion. Neither had provided any real details. Mike promised fun, Justine work, well improvement. Mike seemed like a buddy, Justine like a parent. In Dave’s experience, buddies often got you into trouble, sometimes on purpose because they thought it was funny; parents sometimes did, but they weren’t generally trying to cause problems—sometimes they made mistakes. Mike had said they catered to a diverse crowd, which is generally a good thing; Justine’s group was more exclusive, only “our” type, which sounded terrible.

Then Dave thought but what if she means people like me and not like what she’s presenting. Why did they show up the way they did, anyway? Dave thought. Here’s Mike, like everyone’s best friend, and Justine, like everyone’s hated Sunday nemesis. The Dave recalled Lucy’s behavior with the visitors.  She had a roughly 99% success rate with character judgment. And that’s when Dave had an epiphany. Justine wasn’t everyone’s Sunday nemesis; she was his in particular. Just like Mike wasn’t everyone’s best pal, he was the ideal drinking bud for Dave. What if they were testing him on his biases, what if the choices were set up for a thoughtless decision to fail?

Dave looked at Azrael, who seemed to wink at him slowly. “Okay, I’m ready. Mike you seem like a great guy and I’d love to hang with you,” Mike’s face broke into a grin while Justine looked up from Lucy with a stern, foreboding glare, “but Lucy’s always been a good judge of people—I’m going to have to go Justine on this one.”

Mike stood and shrugged, “Eh, win some, lose some. There are always others. In fact, there may be one nearby. Race ya,” And then he wasn’t there.

Azrael glanced at where he’d been, “He still won’t be on time. You guys never are.”

Justine looked at him over the top of her glasses, “Well if we were on time, would you have the chance to set up these little surprises? I mean really, a dog?”

“No idea what you’re talking about. The dog got killed, I couldn’t let her just wander around. Dogs go the Heaven. Simple statement of fact, no Fall, no choice necessary. At least she wasn’t a cat, they have such strange senses of humor. Well Dave, time to go, Justine will take good care of you and Lucy.”

Dave stood. “So what did happened? You said nobody else would die.”

“See Dave, that right there. That’s why I let her in to give the nudge. I said no other person would die, and you included Lucy in that—that’s how you really think, when you’re not getting in your own way.”

As the four began to fade from the mortal realm, Dave asked, “But what happened to the killer?”

“Lucy. Lucy happened to the killer. Not many people can reload a shotgun with an eighty-pound dog tearing off their fingers. She’s a good dog.” Lucy’s tail nearly wagged her off her feet as she followed her new people Home.

Florence Comicon

If you are in the Florence, SC area Saturday March 6 you can come see the wonderful sign my girlfriend made for my publishing company…and maybe buy a book or two and get them signed. Feel free to bring a previously bought book and I’ll sign that too. Really doesn’t even have to be one I wrote, although I don’t know why you’d want that…

It’s at the Florence Civic Center from 10am to 7pm. You don’t have to come in costume, but you will be outnumbered by the people that do—fair warning.

Why the delays, you ain’t working…

Hello everyone,

Before I explain where I’ve been lately, I’d like to let you know about two new books (well one new and one revision): My friend Jordan Carter has published a book of poetry, For the Time Being that is quite excellent and you should check it out. She’s not as dark as I am but the poetry is stunning none-the-less, you can find it on Amazon. In other Amazon news, I’ve released a black and white copy of A Year of Thursday Nights because I was playing with the price of the original and now I can’t get it back down from $30 to the more reasonable $20 that it was before—color pictures are expensive apparently. I’d post links to both, but haven’t quite figured out the method to do that without starting my own Amazon Affiliate store, and I’m not ready to add another project just yet; besides, you’re all intelligent folk that know how to get to Amazon, right? I mean it’s not like they’re hiding.

Anyways, I apologize for the delay in posting, time has been difficult to find. Although I have been unemployed since July, I’ve noticed that I seem to have oddly less time than before. I have read that job-seeking will often fill roughly the same amount of time as a job, but I don’t think that’s it—been kind of lazy with the job search (not really). Also, the psychology student in me thinks there may be an element of depression at work—but the philosophy student in me is pretty sure he’s an idiot (only slightly kidding here, situational depression is very real and losing a job is one of the top factors). No, I don’t think any of that applies as I was preparing to quit the previous job anyway once I graduated with my master’s in cybersecurity, so the firing was actually sort of blessing in disguise (now if the unemployment office would get their act together, it wouldn’t be in disguise anymore). But, that does bring us to where the time has gone…

…grad school. Right after finishing the cybersecurity degree, I started a creative writing masters. You might think that cybersecurity would take more time and be harder. And you would be wrong. I think it is due to the nature of the degrees. With cybersecurity, like any hard science discipline, there are facts—you are either right or wrong. There are areas like ethics and policies where there are shades of grey, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Creative writing, like most humanities degrees, flips that. You have to know the rules, so you are aware when you’re breaking them—because breaking them is okay, as long as it was on purpose. Your answer isn’t wrong if you can defend it with a well-reasoned argument. This level of understanding takes more time.

So there you have it. Furthering my education has reduced my productivity. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Now on to the fun stuff that I’ve been doing in classes. In the most recent class, we’ve been experimenting with different forms of poetry, some old, some new, all fun. This is a somewhat traditional form of an ode. The subject matter is smoking, if that offends the exit button is in the top right corner.

Ode to Djarum Black


O glorious spice scent, cloying clove cigarette
O fabulous lung warmth in the cold night
O marvelous firetip, orange cherry crackling bright
O coolest of accoutrement, delivering cachet of chic
O epitome of cancer cool, wrapped in paper, black and sleek
O impressive cough, yet there is no regret.

Habits born in study of myth’s philosophies from cool college decades
The gift of Prometheus drawing up the stem, slow sweet crackle, cloven air splitting the lips
Superior by far to Hippocratic medicinal patches or Copenhagen’s mundane dips
Erato to beat poets, Euterpe for musicians, the jazz bassist’s true friend
Dark smoke acting inspirator and muse to artists throughout time, without end
Assuring nods, knowing winks, and salacious gazes, as the breathed cloud fades.

Every toke an eternal breath of risks, according to scientists
Pleasing fragrant smell after long years of learning to inhale
Flavored cigarettes, those in power banned in 2009, yet within the hour
Linguistic legal legerdemain by ingenious Indonesians from afar
Made a cigarette in name, become a cigar
So let the new cool elites drink the price heavy cat poop coffee, Kopi Luwak
Of the exports of Indonesia, make mine Djarum Black.

Happy Halloween

Reading the title, you may be saying to yourself (or aloud, who am I to judge?) “Idiot, Halloween was two days ago!”

And it’s okay to think that. You’re wrong. It’s okay to be wrong as long as you admit it and move forward. Accept that now and the rest of this will go down easier.

It’s not your fault. Society has the mistaken idea that Halloween is a single night at the end of the month of October. This is false.

Halloween properly runs for three days (technically it’s a year-long event, but you’re probably not ready for that revelation yet, after all you’ve only just accepted that Halloween is a 3-day affair—you have accepted that, right? If not reread the sentence just above the one just prior to this one). During those three days, it is your responsibility to let yourself get scared by the things that go bump in the night. Which brings us to this post’s poetic offering, I debated with myself about which Halloween poem (there are a plethora to pick from) to post for this Halloween and didn’t come to a decision until I wrote the previous line. So please enjoy this Halloween offering (previously published in A Year of Thursday Nights which is available on Amazon):

Halloween Delivery


On this dark e’en

From squinty, speeding witches, from old drunken warlocks,

From lopsided mummies tripping over their wrappings,

From clumsy clutches of ogres,

From lame lamenting banshaes

From blinded bogles

From balance impaired werewolves,

From vampires with rice in one shoe,

From cross-eyed hellhounds, and from ghosties with sheets pulled low,

From one-legged ghouls, and from stumbling zombies,

From furry and small bow-legged beasties,

And from all other things that go bump in the night,

Good lord deliver us.

Banned Books, Who Does That?

(New poem at the end)

So I recently found out that banned books week is coming after this weekend. It’s a little sad, and a lot misguided of me, but I kind of thought we weren’t banning books anymore. There are more important things in the world to worry about right now than what someone else is reading. Because that’s really the crux of the matter. Trying to control someone else.

Like any form of censorship, I find banning books to be reprehensible. I mean, why would you? It’s not like you’re being forced to read them. If you don’t want to read about the subject, simply put the book down. Walk away. Stop reading it. But do not try to stop me from reading it.

I have read a lot of banned books. For a long time, I sought them out because the banning was like a recommendation. The ideas in some of them didn’t agree with me; the ideas in others resonated strongly—others just left me kind of “meh”. Oddly, if you remove the word “banned”, the same sentences are true for non-banned books. The only real difference that I can see is that someone got offended by one and not the other. The books are just ideas given form. You don’t have to accept the ideas, they’re not a virus.

In the 1980s my ninth grade English class had 4 books to read. These had all been banned at one time or another for various reasons in various places. Parents were allowed to opt out for their children. Mine didn’t. I am grateful to them for this. I was allowed to discover that A Separate Peace wasn’t all that bad, To Kill a Mockingbird accurately depicted the tensions in the South where I was growing up, Fahrenheit 451 rocked and Wuthering Heights blows. Those are, of course, my opinions. These books were banned for language and ideas. Some, such as Wuthering Heights and To Kill A Mockingbird, challenged preconceived notions about people’s positions in society. Those positions have changed.

Were the books responsible? Probably not directly, but the ideas they expressed grew and made people into the people they are today and I think most people are the better for it. Banning a book for offensive language is wrong. Again, if you are offended, put the book down. Banning a book for challenging an idea is close to evil. If your cherished idea is so right, so strong, surely it can rebut criticism. If not, was it ever really right to begin with?

Now, at this point, many people may respond, “What about the children?” Well, what about them? If, and only if, you are their parent, then and only then, are you allowed to say what they can and cannot read. I cannot and will not tell you how to raise your children. But I will say, that you are doing them a disservice by not allowing them to expand their minds and ask you questions about books they read. I do not believe that any child in the history of mankind was ever harmed by reading a book.

In summary, there is never a good reason for censorship. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. It’s that simple.

This poem is a warning of what the banning of books could bring about, it wasn’t written specifically about that, but reading is one of the few ways to cure what the poem speaks about.

I give you:

The Darkening of the Mind


Idiocy is on the rise, sweeping thought under the rug
Never to be heard from in polite society again.
We don’t talk ill of the dead, and intellect is certainly dying if not already gone to the great dirt nap.
To paraphrase Alice, stupider and stupider, or should it be more stupid?
There’s a dumb argument for you and some of you will argue it.
Realize though that you’re arguing with a printed word
And it really doesn’t care what you decide, because it knows that
More stupid is as stupider does
When Weird Al sang “Dare to be Stupid”; it wasn’t meant as a challenge,
It was a warning,
But because of the great dumbening, we cried out challenge accepted
And those who had not been affected, only cried
As they watched an entire generation succumb to hold my beer
For all the vast knowledge the race has accumulated
For all the information we have at our literal fingertips
Idiots still walk among us and their numbers are increasing
It’s not birthrate related, though they breed without ceasing
Morons are not born, they are created
Sometimes self-inflicted, sometimes crowd encouraged
The dumbening seems cyclic, but it’s ever growing
This lack has been increasing since the dawn of time
Gerock the cave person discovered how to make fire
A few decades later, a descendant invented the wheel
Then a few millennia later, Da Vinci invented nearly everything
I mean a helicopter circa 1400?
Circa meaning sometime around, because with access to this vast amount of information, I cannot be bothered to find a more exact date
And thus the dumbening proceeds, we’re not stupider, we’re just much lazier.
Because knowledge is hard, truth isn’t easy, wisdom takes effort.
And we can’t be bothered.
Beware the dumbening, it’s coming for us all.

When They Came – A New Poem

Hello friends,

Again, it’s been a few minutes since I was last here. Almost finished with that last class for the Master’s degree. Even I lack enough of the gift of understatement to say it has been difficult and let it go at that. It has been an enormous time hole with the gravitational power of something with a lot of gravity (feel free to insert your own cleverism here, I’m out at the moment). I did manage to sneak in a new poem. Finding the time to edit was another matter, so almost three weeks late, here is When They Came.

I hate being political, I would much rather write about spooky, creepy things than scary true things but the world doesn’t seem to want that to happen. Sometimes events won’t let you not speak up. The absolute crap that the Federal Government pulled in Portland a few weeks back is a case in point. Arresting people without telling them who you are, taking extra steps to hide your identity, it’s wrong. If you or I did it, it would be called kidnapping; why is it different when you work for the government? I’m not a lawyer, but I am fairly sure this in violation of the 4th and possibly 5th amendment rights, and let’s just forget about the Miranda decision shall we?

Enough prelude, here’s the poem. I hope you like it and more importantly, think about what it means (admittedly, they didn’t go as far as I predict in the verses, yet).

When They Came


Wake me up please.

Unidentified, jackbooted thugs,

No name, no badge, no warrant, no good reason,

Shadows in the night. Come to claim us.

But they were across the country, so what did I care?

The came for the peaceful Portland protestors,

Said they were up to no good.

But I was not from Portland, nor did I protest.

So I said nothing.

Closer now.

They came for the Chicagoans next.

Said these are the ones to fear.

But never having been to Chicago.

Knowing no one from there.

What did I care? I said nothing.

Getting nearer.

Growing bolder, they came next for the gays.

The homosexuals, the trans, the queers.

These are strange they said, and so must go.

Being none of these, a straight man. I said nothing.

Almost here, now,

Next, they rounded up the black protestors.

Said these are the true terrorists.

Telling them their lives didn’t matter after all.

But being white, I said nothing.

At the driveway.

They next gathered the liberals and democrats.

These troublemakers, they never understood, we, the shadows, will make greatness.

But neither liberal nor democrat, an independent thinker always

I said nothing.

They didn’t knock, just kicked in the door.

When they came for the writers, the artists, the creators.

I yelled stop, I am a poet

And this is wrong.

But my lone voice was too quiet

To hear over the death knell of crashing silence from the Liberty Bell.

There was no one left to speak with me.

So, Liberty Left, Freedom Fled, and Justice for All became

Just Us, after all.