Friday, February 26, 2021

poem - the lizard

by horace p sternwall

i dreamed i was a lizard
with a long white shiny tail
and i made myself a sandwich
while jesse james robbed the mail

i found some ham and mustard
in the desk of william mckinley
but the mustard was a little low
and so i spread it thinly

boss tweed called my attention
to a spider on the wall
but the spider was no friend of mine
and so i heeded not his call

the queen wrote me a letter
on which the maid spilled tea
i knew that such things happened
but not to the likes of me

it has been my misfortune
to live in troubled times
woe and disappointment
are the subject of my rhymes

o you who ride on snow white steeds
and in carriages of gold
save your dimes and nickels
so that your fortunes may be told

do you remember the governess
who stole your favorite doll?
she tells fortunes down on main street
and waits for you to call

if you were a nicer person
you would favor her with your trade
but on second and third thought
some things are better left unsaid

Sunday, February 21, 2021

poem - the lion

by horace p sternwall

lambs eat grass
lions eat lambs
humans shoot lions
and send urgent telegrams

i shot my first lion
the telegram reads
he thought he would live forever
but i was waiting in the weeds

the look on his face
when he breathed his last
was absolutely priceless
but the sky was overcast

a buzzard circled overhead
with a knowing wink
i went back to base camp
and mixed myself a drink

the days go by
and we fill them as we can
i will see you in london
in september, old man

by then the nasty rumors
will all have died down
and we, who will live forever
will reconquer the town

Friday, February 19, 2021

howdy, stranger

by fred flynn

the stranger rode into town.

the town only had one street, and it was dark.

there was one light in one window.

the window of the saloon, naturally.

the stranger decided to enter the saloon and have a drink.

he tied up his horse and pushed open the swinging doors and entered the saloon.

there was nobody behind the bar. that was not surprising, he figured a bartender was around somewhere.

then the stranger’s eye fell on three men seated at a table about five feet from the bar.

they were all three heavy men. they looked like solid citizens.

one of them wore a white hat, another wore a brown hat, and the third wore a straw hat.

the man in the white hat spoke.

howdy, stranger.

howdy, the stranger replied.

you are a stranger? the man in the brown hat asked.

yes, sir. just passing through.

passing through from where? asked the man in the straw hat hat.

dead city.

dead city! that is one hundred miles from here.

yes, sir, that sounds about right.

and how long did you stay in dead city? asked the man in the white hat.

if the stranger was annoyed by all the questioning, he did not show it.

a fair spell, he answered.

and what did you do during that fair spell? one of the men asked.

a little bit of this, a little bit of that. the town needed a little bit of cleaning up, and i helped out with that.

did they pay you? the man in the brown hat asked.

um - no, not exactly. i was just glad to help out.

how did you pay your way? asked the man in the straw hat. you must have had to eat, maybe have some place to sleep, wash up a bit.

i had a little bit saved up, the stranger replied.

you had a little bit saved up, the straw hat man repeated. tell me, you got your horse tied up outside?

i surely do.

he must be pretty tuckered out, being rid all the way from dead city. you must have had some kind of load of water and oats to haul along, to keep him going all that way.

he’s a good old horse, he gets by.

i’m curious to take a look at the poor beast, the straw hat man said. i think i will go out and take a look at him. just out of neighborly curiosity.

the stranger shrugged. suit yourself.

the straw hat man got up and headed outside.

and you yourself, the man in the white hat said to the stranger, you must have had some big skins of water, besides that little old flask i see on your belt.

i’m not a particularly thirsty man.

i can believe that, the white hat man said. i can righteously believe that.

no one spoke for about a minute.

the straw hat man returned and nodded to his two companions.

do you know what we think? the white hat man asked the stranger.

no, sir, what do you think?

we think we have seen a bit too many of fellows like you passing through lately. we don’t think you are lonesome drifting cowpokes at all.

you don’t? the stranger asked.

no, sir, we think you are agents from another planet, or another galaxy, or another dimension, come to spy upon us, and disturb and rile up our peaceable earthbound existence.

well, sir, the stranger replied, i am sorry you feel that way, and i do not mean to impose on your hospitality, so i reckon i will be on my way.

i reckon you will, the man in the white hat said. i just reckon you will.

the stranger hesitated. he was in fact, the agent of a remote galactic empire, and could have obliterated the town, and the planet earth, and its solar system in a millisecond if he so chose.

instead he said, i wish you a pleasant rest of the evening, gentlemen.

and turned and walked out and got back on his horse.

the three men in hats watched the stranger ride off into the night.

good riddance, the man in the brown hat said.

i still say, the man in the straw hat said, we could have let him clean up the town first.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

thoughts on a cloudy day

by horace p sternwall

rich people have more money than poor people

beautiful people are better looking than ugly people

young people are younger than old people

and don’t know what it was like

how about you?

do you know what it was like?

you can’t get there from here

well, maybe you can, you can try it

but don’t say i didn’t warn you

some days it rains

some days it shines

some days it doesn’t pay to get out of bed

it’s a long road that has no turning

you can’t fight city hall

but you can throw the rascals out

it’s time for a change

a new day is coming

you heard it here first

but don’t get your hopes up

the clock is ticking

they don’t make them like they used to

they said it couldn’t be done

they could be right, they could be wrong

a broken watch tells the right time twice a day

that’s all for now

my name is joe

but tell them jack sent you

don’t mention my name

i think your mother is calling you

she wants you to shine her army boots

and so’s your old man

that’s all for now

i already said that, didn’t i?

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

poem - the snake

by horace p sternwall

i was born by the river in a little shack
i wanted to conquer the world but couldn’t get on track
i found a bag of gold in a hole out back
and got a ride to town from a guy named mack

he left me at the station at fifth and main
mixed emotions swirled around in my brain
the feelings i had were hard to explain
but with the bag of gold i got on the train

ckickety clickety clickety clack
no one suspected what i had in my sack
i bought a ticket for the very last stop
at the stroke of midnight off the train i did hop

the moon looked down with a wistful frown
i put my bag on my shoulder and entered the town
the streets were filled with men with guns
but i did not know anyone

i was accosted by the famous jack slade
i looked in his face and was not afraid
you look like a tenderfoot, he said
give me that bag or i will shoot you dead

i handed it over without a qualm
knowing i would never come to harm
slade opened the bag and a snake popped out
he had no time to even shout

the snake hardly made a sound
and slade fell to the ground
the rounders witnessing the scene
turned various shades of green

the hour has come at last
i heard black dan riley gasp
the owlhoots all drifted away
and night slowly turned to day

the end is quickly told
the snake did not turn back to gold
i was left with no cards up my sleeve
and a story no one will believe

stranger, take pity on me
all i wanted was to be free
i grasped at the ghost of a chance
but only devils can dance

Sunday, February 14, 2021


by timothy t jones

the sky is as blue as tigers.

the clouds are as white as polar bears.

after a while, the sky turns gray, as gray as an elephant.

later it will turn dark blue.

it will not turn black - very rarely does it actually turn black.

a street light will come on beneath your window.

if you wait long enough, someone will walk down the street.

if you wait even longer, someone will stop under the street light.

and they will look up at your window and you will see their face.

that is, you could, if the window was not so high.

the window is as high as the sky.

there is a sliver of moon in the sky.

but it is hidden behind the clouds.

the clouds in the dark blue night.

you listen, but you hear nothing.

not even a lonesome whistle.

or the sound of tires in the rain.

because it is not raining.

it has not rained for a long time.

a partial list

by bofa xesjum

air conditioning
air freshener
arby’s roast beef
apartment buildings
area codes
argyle socks

baseball caps
beauty parlors
beer nuts
barbecue sauce
breakfast sandwiches
brown mustard
burger king

central heating
cheese whiz
cat food
chewing gum
chewing tobacco
chocolate eclairs
coca cola
coffee mugs
collection agencies
comic books
commuter rails

decks of cards
dog food
dvd players

electric lights
energy drinks
extra strength aspirin
extra strength tylenol

french fries


happy hour
hot dogs

ice cream
interstate highways

jumbo shrimp

kentucky fried chicken

light bulbs

mom and pop stores

nights at the opera

office buildings
onion rings

pepsi cola
pet food
pet stores
pizza shops
post offices
postage stamps
potato chips

reality shows
rice krispies
roller skates
running water

scented candles
self help books
sewer systems
sleeping pills
smart phones
streaming video

talk shows
tattoo parlors
toilet bowl cleaner
toilet paper


vacuum cleaners
vinyl carpeting
virgin olive oil

woolen mufflers

yellow mustard
yellow ties

zip codes

Friday, February 12, 2021

history lesson

by genghis gilgamesh

wendell manfred barrett iii was the richest man in the world, and the meanest and nastiest. he hated the whole human race because he felt that it did not properly respect him.

one day wendell made what many people would take to be an improper advance to a young woman named hester hathaway, and hester rebuffed him and laughed in his face and called him a creep.

for wendell, this was the last straw. he decided to avenge himself on the ungrateful human race, which did not appreciate him and which he had heretofore treated with such restraint.

he bought up all the food in the world, and had it dumped into the deepest parts of the indian and pacific oceans.

chaos and famine ensued, all over the world. wendell had a good laugh.

but he had gone too far. his malicious prank accomplished, overnight, what centuries of theorizing snd propagandizing by socialist idealists had failed to do - turned the people of the world against capitalism.

spontaneous uprisings against the world’s capitalist overlords were sparked in the largest cites all over the world and quickly spread to what was left of small towns and the “countryside”.

capitalism was over. the human race reclaimed its natural birthright of peace and cooperation, and the long nightmares of war and oppression and exploitation were over.

many years later, a graduate student named wanda wellington decided to write a paper on wendell manfred barrett iii. she went to the library and did some research.

what she found she surprised her. it turned out that wendell manfred barrett iii had never really existed, and that his exploit of buying all the world’s food and dumping it in the ocean had never happened.

the story had been made up and spread on the media of the time by the people who controlled and administered that media.

credit for the “original story” was generally assigned to “ g r westbrook”, about whom or what no information survived.

but the story had achieved its purpose, and the human race had been living happily ever after ever since.

there was nothing to complain about, even if there had been somebody or something to complain about it to.

wanda, sitting in the sunlight streaming through the window of the library, could not argue otherwise.

and yet in some strange way she felt cheated.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

2 poems - a story

by genghis gilgamesh

today, said ms goodperson, i am going to select one boy and one girl to write a poem. then the class can vote on which of the poems they like best.

ms goodperson had a hat and she pulled two names out of it.

isaac jones, known as “ike”. ike was the class clown. his buddies immediately starting getting on him about having to write a poem. none of them said out loud how gay it was, which they would have if no teacher had been there.

and mamie smith. mamie was a silent girl with no friends. none of the children reacted to her selection.

ike and mamie were given an hour to write their poems.

this was ike’s poem:

the cave

roses are red
violets are blue
the devil is evil
and the government is too

they found me in the woods
and they put me in school
but i already knew
i was a natural fool

i don’t know much
but i know this
when i wake up at night
i know what i miss

i am only a bear
through the woods i creep
i find a good cave
and i get a good sleep

all the children, but especially ike’s crew, laughed and applauded when ike finished his poem.

next mamie read her poem.

the hill

life is a hill

people try to climb the hill

the hill of goodness

but they keep falling back

into the mud of badness

the mud of greed

the mud of meanness

the mud of hatred

the sun looks down from the sky

the clouds float across the sky

birds fly across the sky

people keep climbing the hill

and falling back in the mud

the sun says nothing

the clouds say nothing

the birds say nothing

but the worms tell the people to keep climbing

and ants tell the people to keep climbing

and lizards tell the people to keep climbing

look, they say, we can climb trees

so you can climb the hill if you keep trying

so i, the poet, like the worms and the ants and the beetles, say to people

keep climbing

and some day you will say to the sun

and to the clouds and the birds

keep climbing

and they will thank you

and say thank you

some of the girls clapped politely when mamie finished. that was very nice, mamie, ms goodperson said. now we will vote on which poem was best.

all ten boys in the class, and four of the eleven girls, voted for ike’s poem.

the other seven girls voted for mamie’s poem.

when mamie’s mother came home that night, she said, you look sad tonight.

mamie explained what had happened and how she had lost the poetry contest to ike.

that’s too bad, honey, mamie’s mother said. i will make you your favorite dinner, rice a roni with pea pods, maybe that will cheer you up.

thanks mom, mamie said.

when mamie went to bed that night, she thought she might dream about her poem and the hill in it, but she did not.

she dreamed about something completely different, but could not remember what.

Monday, February 8, 2021

2 stories - 2. doozy

by genghis gilgamesh

part two of two

to read part one, click here

juliet wrote this story:


jane’s parents gave her a little dog for her eighth birthday.

jane wanted to name the dog daisy, but jane’s father took his pipe out of his mouth and said,

that is the most common name for a female dog. surely, jane, you want to name her something a bit more original.

so jane named the little dog doozy.

two years later, jane’s mother divorced jane’s father. jane’s father did not contest jane’s mother’s custody of jane.

jane and her mother now lived in a smaller house on a narrower, busier street. doozy no longer had a big yard to run around in. there was a small yard behind the small house but doozy could sometimes jump or climb over its low fence and run and play with other dogs on the sidewalk in front of the house.

one day when jane was in school, doozy was run over and killed by a speeding ambulance, which was rushing to attend to a woman who had had a heart attack, the result of eating too many cheeseburgers and too many hot dogs with spicy mustard.

jane cried when she came home from school and heard the news.

jane’s mother tried to console her. doozy is in dog heaven now, she told jane.

jane dried her eyes. no, mother, she said, doozy is not in dog heaven or any other kind of heaven, any more than you or i are. but i swear to you that from this day forward i will dedicate myself to creating a better world in which dogs and cats and women and children are no longer treated as second class creatures, and in which giant corporations can no longer exploit people by foisting unhealthy eating habits on them.

jane was true to her word. when she left school she took a job at a non-profit organization that worked to improve the lives of both domestic and wild animals worldwide. she never married or had children and worked for the organization for forty years, in offices all over the world.

when jane retired, some of her colleagues gave her a nice lunch, and gave her a little brass statuette of doozy, whose fate jane had on occasion mentioned to them.

the statue did not look at all like doozy, but jane did not point that out.

the end

Sunday, February 7, 2021

2 stories - 1. champ

by genghis gilgamesh

part one of two

there were only two students in the class that day - romeo and juliet.

here is your assignment for today, miss anthony told them.

write a story between 300 and 600 words long, about a child whose dog is struck and killed by a speeding ambulance.

romeo wrote this story:


as the sound of the ambulance’s siren receded down the street, billy joe looked down at the mangled body of his best friend champ.

i swear to you, champ, he said, i will get the son of a bitch who did this, if i have to search the whole world over.

a plan was already forming in billy joe’s mind.

the next morning he skipped school and went down to the police station.

a uniformed lady policeperson was seated at the front desk and asked billy joe how she could help him.

billy joe had his story ready. he explained that he was working on a project for school and that on the previous day he had seen an ambulance speeding by and was impressed by the skill with which the driver had handled the vehicle while traveling at such a speed to aid a person in need, and that he wanted to interview the driver and write a story about him or her.

you could interview any ambulance driver for such a story, the police lady said.

but i want to interview this one, billy said.

are you sure it was a police ambulance?

um - i think it was.

and it was at what time? and where?

around four o’clock. i was walking home from school. it was at washington and chestnut streets.

all right, let me check.

billy waited while she scrolled down a monitor in her desk.

there is nothing here for an ambulance that time. at all.


you sure you don’t want any ambulance driver?

no, i want the one i saw.

it was probably from the ambulance service. delta ambulance.

where are they?

first and main.

thank you . i will try there.

billy left the station. he thought he felt the officer’s mildly curious gaze on his back, but he did not turn around.

at the front desk of delta ambulance, a blonde lady in a driver’s uniform of white shirt and black string tie listened to billy joe’s story with a look of mild annoyance.

i don’t think that sounds like a very good idea. i don’t think i have the authority to authorize that. how old are you, anyway? shouldn’t you be in school?

wouldn’t it be good publicity? billy joe answered her questions with a question.

the woman sighed. i could call the manager.

billy joe panicked inside. he imagined the manager as weighing three hundred pounds with a big black mustache and asking all sorts of questions he could not answer.

no, don’t bother. billy joe told the woman.

he went back outside. the sun was shining. his eyes filled with tears.

i’m sorry, champ, he mumbled. i’m sorry, old buddy. i guess i just didn’t have it in me.

with his head down, billy joe stepped off the sidewalk into the street and into the path of an onrushing bus.

the bus struck him and hurled him twenty-five feet.

he died almost instantly. the last thing he saw was the face of champ in the sky.

i’ll get them for this, billy, champ said. i will track them down through a thousand hells and galaxies… down a thousand dark streets...if it takes forever…

part 2