Tuesday, August 31, 2021

jennifer and jeremiah

by nick nelson

jennifer lives in apartment 3-f.

jeremiah lives in apartment 5-k.

they have never met, or seen each other, except one time on the elevator, when neither took any notice of the other.

jennifer cares.

she wishes the world were a better place, that people everywhere could get along, and that every child on the planet could be guaranteed a decent life.

she especially cares about climate change, and the rights of women.

not that she does not care about racism, homophobia, trans rights, and colonialism.

she believes in science, as long as it respects the ancient wisdom of indigenous peoples.

her favorite book is the color purple, by alice walker.

she does not have a favorite movie, and does not watch television.

she puts in time as a volunteer at a homeless shelter three times a week.

jeremiah only cares about himself, not that he takes particularly good care of himself.

he believes that the world was a better place when it was not only controlled by straight white men, but when their supremacy was never questioned.

he belonged to a fraternity in college, and still maintains contacts with many of his fraternity brothers.

his favorite movie is the godfather, and his favorite tv show is tucker carlson tonight.

he is an alcoholic, and also abuses drugs.

his only joy and purpose in life derives from laughing at the suffering and humiliation of others, especially people of color.

there are eight billion people in the world.

four billion of them are jennifer.

and four billion of them are jeremiah.

there is really nothing else to say.


Monday, August 30, 2021

poem 103

by dog e relaford

hello i am a human trapped in a dog
i am a lamppost trapped in a fog
i am a mouse trapped in a cat
do you have a problem with that?

everything to itself is true
no matter how many changes it goes through
if it starts as an owl and ends as a frog
when it rains it sleeps in a hollow log

joe was born in a house on a windy hill
he had a servant named little bill
a cook named wilma and a chauffeur named brown
but all he wanted was to live in town

he sold the house to an arab prince
and joe has not been heard from since
wilma and brown and little bill
all got jobs at the old mill

the prince forgot about his purchase
and ran away and joined the circus
now the house is inhabited by raccoons
and the wind blows through it and plays sad tunes

no one remembers when they were born
you can go to the store and buy a can of corn
but you will never know what the scarecrow thought
when the trap was sprung and the fox was caught

Sunday, August 29, 2021


by anonymous

no one invited him to dinner
no one invited him to tea
they laughed when he sat down at the piano
but he was just like you and me

they laughed when he stepped in a puddle
they laughed when he slipped and fell
they prayed for his soul on the lord’s day
so maybe it was just as well

nobody knows where he’s buried
or if he was washed away in the rain
he wasn’t the czar of russia
and he wasn’t the king of spain

he didn’t find a cure for cancer
or even the common cold
he had no sense of humor
and he never played tennis or bowled

he did not care for bright sunlight
and he was also afraid of the dark
he never did crossword puzzles
or fed the squirrels in the park

he was not much to look at
and did not have anything to say
but once in a while he hummed a sad tune
as he went on his unmerry way

Saturday, August 28, 2021

poem 107

by dog e relaford

billy right and betty wrong
stood on the corner singing their song
a monkey man with snow white skin
threw a nickel in their cup of tin

who led that rounder in?
betty began to begin
but billy stopped her with a glance
like the king of france

the monkey man went away
to monkey another day
an elephant man appeared
wiping away a tear

who will stop the rain?
the elephant man said again
he had said the same thing yesterday
because that was just his way

billy did not intend
that their song would never end
but betty just went with the flow
singing songs of long ago

everybody liked betty so much
she had the common touch
she touched the hearts of the lost and damned
and had rings on all the fingers of her hands

monkey men, elephant men, bankers with hearts of steel
they all thought betty’s songs were real
they listened enraptured
as their hearts she captured

as the sun went down
a hush fell over the town
and a strange thing occurred
only betty’s voice was heard

rising into the night sky
like a slice of apple pie
and they wished it would never end
as old number 9 came around the bend

Friday, August 27, 2021

the sky

by horace p sternwall

the sky was empty.

the king walked slowly down the road.

nobody knew he was a king, because there was nobody left to know he was a king.

he was already weary, although he had hardly walked a hundred miles.

the crown was no longer heavy on his head, because he was not wearing it.

he wondered idly where the crown was, and who was making what use of it.

he wished he had an apple.

he had always been quite fond of apples.

nothing was left of his fine royal orchards.

the king felt sad, and his feet were sore.

if he could not have an apple, he would have settled for a kumquat.

he wished a genie would appear, and grant him three wishes, or even one wish.

how exhausting it was, no longer being a king, and walking down the road alone.

he would have liked to turn to the left or right, but the road ran on perfectly straight.

you see, this is a sad story, because once he had something - a kingdom - and now he had nothing.

he walked along under the sky.

which still contained no clouds.

if he had never had anything, this would just be a plain unvarnished account of one of the millions of creatures in the earth walking upon it.

and if he had never been a king, he would have been told to quit his bellyaching.

and to remember all the poor souls who had trodden the dust before him.

finally, a cloud appeared on the horizon.

and the king wept at the unexpected sight.

but the cloud disappeared as swiftly as it had arrived.

i know you care deeply about the poor king’s plight.

which, like yours and mine, will finally be resolved on judgment day.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

in the woods

by genghis gilgamesh

there is an old woman
who lives in the woods
because people are bad
when they should be good

when she was young
she gave them a chance
they had feathers in their hats
and pockets in their pants

they had flowers in their hair
and rings on their fingers
they burned down the world
but the smoke still lingers

there was a young woman
who ran down the road
when judgment day came
and the sun did explode

the kings on their horses
and the queens on their thrones
are lost in the sand
that flows over their bones

the minstrels who sang
and the jugglers who jugged
lie in the highway
crawled over by bugs

you can call them unlucky
good, indifferent, or bad
but the chances they got
were all that they had

a snake crawls through the grass
a bat sleeps in a cave
they want to be free
and they want to be saved

there is an old woman
who lives in the woods
because people are bad
when they should be good

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

i know you!

by genghis gilgamesh

conrad felt good about life.

all his troubles were over.

his life was empty of cares, and his brain was empty of distractions.

all he needed was to get a little better organized, and he would be looking good.

he might even give veronica a call.

well, maybe not go quite so far as that.

suddenly, as he was musing thusly, he saw harold approaching him.

he had no particular desire to see or talk to harold, but he felt that crossing the street to avoid him was somehow out of keeping with his newfound equilibrium.

now he saw that harold must have seen him, because harold was picking up his pace as he bore down on him.

i know you! harold cried as he closed the gap.

harold had the same foolish grin that had always challenged conrad’s sense of courtesy.

i can’t believe i am meeting you here! harold exclaimed.

i go out of doors almost every day, conrad replied politely. even when it rains.

and i stay indoors almost every day, harold rejoindered. especially when it rains, ha ha!

it is nice to see you, conrad said gamely.

for any particular reason? harold retorted, raising his bushy eyebrows.

no, really, it is always a pleasure to encounter you.

i knew it! same old conrad, always mired in the muck of politeness and platitudes, ha, ha, ha!

terrible thoughts gathered like storm clouds in the back of conrad’s brain.

the euphoria of a few minutes ago was threatened by an undercurrent of primal abhorrence of harold and all the people in the world like him…

the moment seemed frozen for an eternity.

pull yourself together, conrad told himself. this, too, shall pass.

he tried to think happy thoughts, but harold was saying something… something so terrible that conrad thought his brain would explode…

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

the perfect time

by fred flynn

even though it was inconvenient, victor decided to go for his daily walk.

how was he to foresee the terrible consequences?

it was nobody’s business, he thought, what he did with his free time.

victor had never been noted for his sense of humor.

franklin, his distinguished colleague, often mocked victor when he was not present to defend himself.

greta, the secretary they had to share due to the new economy measures, did not care much for either victor or franklin.

on this particular day, she knew that victor had gone for his afternoon walk, but she did not know the whereabouts of franklin.

greta decided to forgo her usual trip to the company cafeteria, and use the time to write a long letter to her friend florence, who had married a chemist and moved to knoxville tennessee.

maybe everything does not happen for a reason, but some things do.

greta had just begun her letter to florence when the red light on her desk flashed on.

this indicated something very important - something so important that either victor or franklin had to be notified at once.

with a sigh, greta pressed the intercom button, half expecting that she would hear the voice of the director himself.

instead a strange voice said - is this the perfect time?

the perfect time for what, sir? greta replied uncertainly. this is just what i need, she thought.

whom am i speaking to? the strange voice asked.

i am the secretary for mister victor and doctor franklin, sir. did you wish to contact ether of them?

am i to understand, then, that this is not the perfect time? the voice asked sharply.

greta was now seriously perplexed, as well as terminally annoyed. i do not understand you, sir, she repeated, the perfect time for what?

the time for everything to come together.

the time for every what to come together? greta asked gamely.

listen, the caller said in a more judicious tone, can you not hear it?

the only thing i hear is your voice, greta replied petulantly.

then all is lost, lost, lost forever.

were you trying to reach mister victor or professor franklin? do you know whom you are trying to reach?

yes, my dear lady, i know exactly whom i was trying... trying... trying... but it is too late...

Monday, August 23, 2021

down the road

by nick nelson

that is the umpteenth time you have said that.

i have a vision, i have to proclaim it.

do you have to proclaim it forever?

i regret that it seems to bother you so much.

purvis got up. he looked down the road.

i can’t listen to you any more, he announced.

well, excuse me, mullins replied.

i’ll be on my way.

mullins watched purvis disappear down the empty highway.

these highways are always empty, mullins reflected. you wonder how anybody ever gets anywhere.

i should have done this a long time ago, purvis reflected, as his feet rhythmically slapped the road.

the road was quiet, and did not respond to his thoughts.

purvis had always been the class clown.

mullins was more serious, and aspired to be taken seriously as an oracle.

it had always been that way.

they were both in love with a girl named millie brown.

millie brown met a man named dave dexter.

dave dexter had friends in high places.

he did not rub elbows with clowns or oracles, no matter how humorous or inscrutable they might have been.

when millie married dave dexter, purvis and mullins left town.

neither of them could forget millie.

they gave up all hope.

no destiny called them.

they began to rub each other the wrong way.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

the cabin

by horace p sternwall

gunther wondered if gaspard could be serious.

he had been taken in by gaspard’s cleverness before.

perhaps, gunther thought desperately, it was too early to make a judgment just yet.

it had taken them five days to reach the cabin on the mountainside.

gaspard had assured gunther that lillian would be waiting for them at the cabin.

but there was no sign of her.

we are actually a bit early ourselves, gaspard had breezily assured gunther.

out on the mountainside a dog - or a wolf? - howled.

duplicitous as gaspard had always been, nothing had prepared gunther for this.

we may as well begin unpacking the supplies, gaspard announced.

how gunther wished he had heeded jules’s warning!

i feel a bit unwell, gunther murmured.

just sit down then, gaspard replied unconcernedly. i will begin the unpacking.

with a yawn, gunther collapsed into a large comfortable looking chair in front of the unlit fireplace.

in a few seconds, he began to fall asleep.

all the excitement of the last few days has taken its toll, he thought hazily.

then - he heard the sound of the car’s engine starting up!

he tried to heave himself up out of the large comfortable looking chair.

but he could not do it on the first try and fell back, knocking the wind out of himself.

suddenly he knew - he saw the whole thing!

when he finally managed to get up and get to the door, gaspard and the car were gone!

gunther staggered outside into the desolate night.

gaspard had tricked him yet again!

he was alone on the mountain - with no car, no food - and no lillian!

he wondered helplessly if there were any supplies or firewood in the cabin.

but he already knew … knew everything…

Saturday, August 21, 2021

poem 97

by dog e relaford

dennis took a chance
and asked judy to dance
she turned him down
so he left town

he had forty dollars to his name
and was bad at life’s game
no use to holler or shout
the money quickly ran out

he found no enjoyment
in seeking employment
and had no solution
to onrushing destitution

he had read a lot of comics
and watched tv a lot
he decided to become a hit man
at least give it a shot

he approached perfect strangers
on the cold city street
and offered them his services
but his gaze they did not meet

they rudely pushed on past him
as if they heard him not
being a paid assassin
was not as easy as he thought

despair’s arms closed around him
but he gave it one last try
and approached an elderly gentleman
with a twinkle in his eye

kind sir, you look too happy
to be quite real, i fear
is there no one on this wretched earth
that you would like to have disappear?

now that you mention it
the gentleman replied
though i am quite respectable
i have nothing to hide

when i was a lad
i was disrespectfully treated
by a man in a top hat
our words grew heated

i told him i would track him down
if it was the last thing i did
but all these passing decades
from me he has been hid

i have oft forgotten him
and from honor and duty swerved
but if you could track him down
and give him what he deserves

i would be most grateful
and reward you handsomely
as from a weighty burden
you would set me free

i gladly accept your commission
dennis replied in a single breath
but, sir, i need a small advance
or else i will starve to death

the elderly gentleman shook his head
and emitted a mighty chuckle
he wore a hat of royal blue
with a shiny silver buckle

you ragged rascals are all the same
and think the world owes you a living
i do not like your attitude
and nothing to you will i be giving

with that the gentleman disappeared
with a final shake of his head
the lights went out along the street
and the darkness of night spread

dennis sat on the sidewalk
feeling very old
his brain was in a turmoil
but his feet and hands were cold