Tuesday, November 30, 2021


by dog e relaford

jocko was a carpenter
and carried a bag of nails
he carried a bag of donuts too
but they got stale

jocko walked the roads at night
and whistled as he walked
and methodically perused the stars
their secrets to unlock

jocko never kicked the rocks
that lay upon the road
convinced that their arrangement
contained a secret code

one night he was accosted
by the highway patrol
they asked his name and number
but did not enquire as to his soul

jocko offered the officers some nails
but they politely turned them down
but each happily took a donut
and rode back into town

Monday, November 29, 2021

poem 4004

by dog e relaford

ramses was a rabbit
solomon was a snake
they sat on the levee
waiting for it to break

ramses had a clipboard
solomon had a pen
they wrote down everything that happened
since they couldn’t remember when

off in the distance
a dinosaur sang a song
the cathedral is underwater
but the road rolls along

they laughed at sister jenny
when she played the harpsichord
but she pays them all no nevermind
and raises a voice to the lord

you all come before the pharoah
with your cloth caps in your hands
but a rider rides behind you
swift across the sands

Sunday, November 28, 2021

if only

by bofa xesjum


a room.

in a house.

rain on the window.

a human named extra strength harris sits beside the window.

extra strength harris is thinking about something.

outside in the distance, a hyena howls.

why, do you think, is the hyena howling?

do you think it is because extra strength harris is thinking about something?

or because extra strength harris is sad and lonely?

there is a knock on the door of the room.

at this point, everything begins to move quickly.

zero hour has arrived, and the tipping point has been reached.

all bets are off.

extra strength harris, whose real name is zanzibar finnerty, jumps up and runs out of the room and out the front door.

but just then a car pulls up in front of the house with a squeal of brakes.

special agents uncle bob pathfinder, alice exile, willie lackaday, and gus gray surround extra strength harris aka zanzibar finnerty, whose name in his most immediate previous life had been marcus chan, with guns drawn.

it is over, at least for now,

but it could have gone so much differently.

if only they had listened.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

what is the use

by horace p sternwall

duke walked into the room.

curtis was sitting on the bed, staring at his feet. he did not even have his shoes on.

what are you doing? duke asked. we are leaving in an hour and a half. you do not even have your shoes on.

i will have them on, do not worry.

you know how i operate. i like to be ready in plenty of time, just in case something comes up.

curtis nodded. i know, i know.

what are you doing, anyway? you look like a goof, just sitting there.

i was thinking.

thinking! about what?

about what is the use of all this? it is just the same thing, over and over.

go on, duke said.

first we set up the job. then we pull the job. then we lie low. then we go to reno or vegas and blow it all. then we set up another job and start the whole thing over again. i am getting a little tired of it, and wondering what is the point of it all?

duke stared at curtis for a few seconds. just get your shoes on and get ready, he finally said, and turned and walked out of the room.

inwardly duke was raging. the punk was getting soft! he was getting the wind up. duke farlow did not tolerate no guys on his crew that got the wind up. it was bad business, and bad for his reputation.

but when duke calmed down a bit, he saw a silver lining.

duke had had a hunch, nothing definite, that the job had been fingered, and that they were walking into a setup. he did not want to pull out without something definite, but …

duke had been planning to go in first, but later that afternoon, when they were all ready to go and piled into the two cars, duke turned to curtis, who was driving the second car, and said, you know, curtis, i think you should go in first. you have not gone in first for a while.

sure, duke, no problem, curtis replied.


the first car, with jake, murray, and hank, circled the block and parked across the street from the bank.

the second car, with curtis at the wheel, and duke beside him, and lulu in the back seat, came in directly and parked not quite in front of the bank.

curtis got out of the car and walked a few steps and entered the bank.

he reached into his jacket and headed to the first cashier’s cage when he heard - that is one of them, boys! - and he was hit with a hail of hot lead.

duke had moved into the driver’s seat and he threw the car into reverse and headed straight back down the street and on to the interstate, right behind jake, who had wasted no time peeling out after the first shot.

that is that, duke thought, at least i got rid of that worthless daydreaming punk….

but duke’s calculations were a little off. curtis woke up in the hospital the next day covered in bandages and looking with one eye at special agent drew mcgee sitting easy as he pleased beside his bed.

your pals left you for dead, curtis, mcgee drawled. are you going to let them get away with that? or are you going to play ball with us?

let me think about it, curtis replied. right now i got a headache.

but curtis had already made up his mind. he would keep his mouth shut and do his time.

and then he would track duke farlow down if it took him his whole life to do it, and make duke pay. look into his beady eyes and make him pay.

curtis smiled behind his bandages.

for the first time since he was a kid with a paper route, trying to save enough to buy a baseball glove, he had a purpose in life.

Friday, November 26, 2021

the silence

by bofa xesjum

in the silent night
the night is silent
outside in the distance
the distance is outside

a car drives through the night
driven by a driver
who is going somewhere
who knows where

the car passes a truck
driven by a trucker
the truck has a destination
and a date with destiny

and you, pale wanderer
where do you wander
are you going anywhere
or are you just wandering

do you wander down a broad highway
or down a muddy road
or only downstairs to the kitchen
to make a ham sandwich

outside in the distance
the distance is outside
in the silent night
the night is silent

Thursday, November 25, 2021

the missing person

by bofa xesjum

an assorted group of people were waiting for a train.

a happy child laughed.

zero hour arrived.

zero hour has arrived, folks, the pullman porter announced in his majestic voice. we ask that you all return to your assigned seats.

but a person was missing. a seat was empty, where they had all been filled up before.

al jones took an apple out of his pocket, polished it with his white silk handkerchief, and took a loud chomping bite out of it.

excuse me, miss excalibur edwards, the ace reporter of the midville sentinel, who was seated beside jones, reproved him. that was very rude.

what was rude about it? al drawled insouciantly, that i am eating an apple in these trying circumstances. or that i sounded like a horse doing it?

that you sounded like a whole barn of drayhorses doing it. meanwhile, a lady is waiting outside in the rain.

gus “the gargoyle” grimson, seated in the row behind al jones and miss edwards, overheard the conversation and grimaced with suppressed glee.

vince venson, a visionary mountain man seated beside gus, sternly advised him, you should let it all hang out.

but the person was still missing. pete palfrey, the bus station security man, was positively frantic, but managed to keep a poker face.

outside, the rain continued to bludgeon the sidewalk, and the few flowers that grew between the cracks in the sidewalk were not spared.

in the back row, uncle john chewed the stem of his pipe, remembering the happy days of yore when he could actually light it and smoke it.

the happy child, whose name was heather carter, burst out laughing in the front row.

gus the gargoyle took a small spiral notebook out of his pocket and began grimly scribbling in it.

a woman screamed outside in the night. absorbed in their own thoughts, almost nobody in the station paid the scream any attention.

the woman stopped screaming.

a bum walked into the station, asking people for dimes.

unknown to the people on the benches, and to pete palfrey the security man, the bum, whose name was bob, had an iguana in the pocket of his heavy overcoat.

the iguana missed the sand he had formerly crawled through.

if bob the bum had had a monkey in his pocket instead of the iguana, a commotion might have ensued.

tom smith, a toreador sitting in the front row, was reminded of his pet turtle terence, when he noticed the iguana peeking out of the pocket of bob the bum’s heavy overcoat.

roberta rogers, called the queen by her friends, found the whole scenario quite amusing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

i hate the modern world

by anonymous

i hate the modern world.

i remember the old days, when folks were folks, and things were things, and everything was what it was.

the mailman was the mailman. that was what he was. he delivered the mail every day.

pop jones ran the general store. it was his store. he owned it and ran it. that was what he did.

mrs willett’s dog was mrs willett’s dog. when you walked past mrs willett’s house he barked at you, but he was a good dog and didn’t mean no harm. that was what he was.

there were no smart phones.

there were no computers.

before that, there was no television.

and before that, not even any phones at all.

and when the first phones came in, there were party lines, so folks could listen in on you.

you couldn’t pretend to be somebody you were not.

so you just waked past mrs willett’s dog and he barked at you because that was what he did, and you went down to pop jones’s store and you sat on the porch in the summer and beside the stove in the winter and you shot the breeze and what you said was what you said. you were either for mr roosevelt or mr william jennings bryant and that was that, you did not have ten different twitter accounts where you could say ten different things.

there was no fifteen minutes of fame. there were kings and queens and presidents and the pope and a few famous writers like mr mark twain or inventors like mr thomas edison or bankers like mr j p morgan and that was it.

everybody else was just who they were. they were butchers or bakers or newsboys or cub reporters or organ grinders or organ grinder’s monkeys. and there you had it.

and you can go back even further than that and there were just peasants and knights in shining armor and you were one or the other. king richard the lion hearted and joan of arc didn’t have podcasts or twitter accounts.

and back even further than that, when people lived in caves.

people lived in caves together and listened to the wind howl and the sabre toothed tigers and woolly mammoths roar, and nobody had any secrets or secret identities then, that was for damn sure.

and if a sabre toothed tiger caught you and carried you off, that was that, you did not have a smart phone to dial 911 with.

sometimes i think we are all still living n a cave, and the modern world is the tiger carrying the human race off helpless in its mouth.

i can say i hate the modern world, but how do i say i hate it?

sitting in front of a computer, tapping on a keyboard, with a cup of coffee from starbucks or dunkin donuts beside me, in a centrally heated/air-conditioned room, twelve feet from an elevator that will take me down to a sidewalk where i can take a cab to a pizza parlor where i can get a pizza with anchovies from sweden or pineapple from hawaii or pepperoni from austin texas… of course i do not even have to go out, i can have it delivered …

and be watched the whole way by security cameras made in japan, and tracked by a network of electrons covering the earth… and beyond… like a swarm of flies feasting on the body of a dinosaur…

i hate the modern world. how about you?

Tuesday, November 23, 2021


by nick nelson

hello billy, it’s jake. i am in trouble, you have to help me out.

i am sorry, you have the wrong number.

come on, billy, i recognize your voice.

i am not billy and you have the wrong number.

billy! don’t you remember what i did for you back in the -


that was a wrong number.

too bad.

let me try calling my mom.

you get one call, and that was it.

but it was a wrong number!

the call lasted more than five seconds.

but it was a wrong number!

it lasted more than five seconds.

how much longer?

it lasted 5.8 seconds.

not even one whole second longer! come on, give me a break.

you had one call, and you made it.

but i am a person! a person with hopes and dreams, with a heart and a soul. i want to make good, and give back to the community. i can’t end this way! you can’t allow me to be railroaded, convicted unfairly of something i didn’t even do, just for eight tenths of a second!

you have three seconds to get up and leave the room.

but it isn’t fair! let me call my mom!

two seconds.

let me call the president.

one second.


Monday, November 22, 2021

the day is coming

by nick nelson

they say the day is coming when every person on the planet will look exactly like every other person.

there were will be no more stories beginning:

aggie looked in the mirror and wondered if jeffrey would ever love her…

the day is coming when everybody will have exactly the same amount of money - none. because money will be abolished.

there will be no more stories beginning:

the safe opened slowly. betty reached in and her hand felt the thick wads of greenbacks… and behind the greenbacks the crown jewels of the kingdom of___________ … worth enough to last a hundred lifetimes…

the day is coming when everybody will be as famous as everybody else.

there will be no more stories beginning:

you knocked them dead, kid. i just talked to billy , and he just talked to constance and gave her the message…

the day is coming when everybody will eat the same thing, in the same amount, every day… probably tofu, but that is subject to change.

there will be no more stories beginning:

snowflakes fell on the shoulders of arthur’s patched coat as he gazed through the brightly lit window at the worthingtons and their guests fastening their napkins under their fat chins as they prepared to do justice to the third course - roast pheasant - of the ten course dinner celebrating mr worthington’s election as governor…

the day is coming when everybody will have the same amount of living space - 5 meters by 5 meters.

there will be no more stories beginning:

i rang the bell and the door was immediately opened by a butler who looked a few days younger than ramses ii. he led me down a corridor long enough for three 707’s and a couple of pterodactyls to land on…

the day is coming when nobody will be better at anything, than anybody else… there will be no more games, or puzzles, or tests, or competitions, physical or mental .

there will be no more stories beginning:

you want to do what, little girl? go out for the team? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !

the day is coming when there will be no more wars, or oppression, or exploitation, and no one will have to be saved by, or from, anybody else.

there will be no more stories beginning:

the blood red sun was setting over the hills as sardo rode along the strangely deserted imperial highway.

suddenly an an old man with a long white beard stood in the road waving his arms..

sardo! he cried. you are the greatest of all swordsmen! you must help us! the people are being crushed by…

the day is coming when no human will have any contact with any other human or living creature, or be able to wrong or injure or kill another.

there will be no more stories beginning:

i’ll get them for this, joey. i will make them pay if i have to hunt them to the furthest reaches of the galaxy…

the day is coming when all diseases and plagues have been wiped out, and the earth is protected from invasion from outer space by an impregnable barrier …

there will be no more stories beginning:

the last man on the earth ducked into a doorway when he heard the footsteps of the alien patrol…

the day is coming when no one will have reason to leave the living space assigned them after they are cloned.

there will be no more stories beginning:

the sun was shining. the open road spread out before rolf as he strode along.

at last, he thought, at last…

the quest had begun.

Sunday, November 21, 2021


by horace p sternwall

if homer were alive today he would drive a cab
and know when to listen and when to gab
he would drive through the wind and snow and rain
as the tears of the world flowed through his brain

if shakespeare were alive today he would ride in taxis
and listen as the universe spun on its axis
he would soak up the wisdom of the bards behind the wheel
and their immortal words he would plunder and steal

if i was the emperor of spain
i would stand on the corner in the rain
i would hail a cab no matter what it cost
and say take me to the corner of damned and lost

Saturday, November 20, 2021

the hideout

by nick nelson

when ace, buck, champ, and duke got to the hideout at midnight , earl was not there.

the dirty rat, ace exclaimed, he doublecrossed us!

not again! buck cried.

just like he did in wichita falls, champ said.

and in abilene, and in louisville, and in flagstaff arizona, duke added.

don’t forget ogden utah, buck sighed, as he collapsed on to the sagging sofa.

ace banged his head against the wall. why us? he cried. why us? why do we have to be trapped in this stinking universe with its endless cycle of heartbreak and betrayal?

it is just the way it is, champ said. deal with it.

we will just have to suck it up and move on, buck stated mournfully.

i guess, duke added, almost in a whisper.

outside in the distance, a coyote, or a lonesome train whistle, howled.

Friday, November 19, 2021

poem 10,002

by dog e relaford

the bear and the rattlesnake went to town
to buy the hyena a wedding gown
the hyena was going to marry the fox
in a move that through the world sent shocks

the spider was asked to weave the gown
but the price it asked made the rattlesnake frown
it looked at the bear with a sly grin
and said, this is where we came in

outside in the distance a whistle blew
old number ten was coming through
the bear from his pocket took a flask
and said i thought you would never ask

the sun went down and the light grew dim
the bear turned to the spider and said to him
remember when all a body had to do
was sign a paper that his heart was true?

Thursday, November 18, 2021

the black box

by nick nelson

the stranger could not get the butterflies back in the black box, so he started on down the road.

the night was dark.

after he had gone a little way, he turned and looked back at the old house.

all the windows in the house were dark.

there was no sign of the old woman.

or of the young woman.

if only, the stranger thought, i had been nicer to the old woman.

and if only the young woman had been nicer to me.

and if only the butterflies had not escaped!

he went on for another little way and then turned and looked back again.

the house was still there and the windows were still dark.

he started walking again.

after a while he could no longer see the house.

but he knew it was still there.

the moral of the story is:

never look back at the old house.

it is still there.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

dream poem

by horace p sternwall

in my hand i hold the proof
that eternity is rain on the roof
of a little tarpaper shack
and valhalla is a deserted race track

i found a letter long ago
in the rain and snow
from a person in a chair on a green lawn
but now its message is gone

maybe it uttered a cry
maybe it said goodbye
maybe it asked for a loan
maybe it was wrapped around a stone

and thrown through the window of a home
where the world’s worst person lived all alone
telling him to mind his ways
because the earth has seen better days

the sword of doom is poised
the wicked shall be destroyed
so repent of all the sins you have committed
because nothing any more is permitted

life is a littered beach
fame floats out of reach
angels float where demons flow
and larry curls around the shore of moe