Tuesday, March 29, 2022

lucy and the stranger

by horace p sternwall

the sky was blue
the clouds were white
the little town
was doing all right

then one day a gentleman
with a curly black mustache
arrived at the railroad station
with a suitcase and a roll of cash

he asked about aunt cora
he asked about uncle ken
he asked about everybody in town
and then he asked again

at first folks were suspicious
of the stranger in their midst
they hoped that he would go away
but they did not insist

the stranger asked for a cup of tea
at lucy’s bed and board
he asked how much he had to pay
lucy said, what you can afford

i can afford a billion dollars
he replied with a winning smile
i will put a check in the mail
it will arrive in a little while

lucy thanked him kindly
and smiled at his little joke
but three days later the check arrived
and her doubts went up in smoke

was she harboring an angel
sent from heaven above
or maybe satan himself
come to rob the world of love

lucy did not know what to do
and had no place to run and hide
she went upstairs to her little room
and decided to stay there inside

the boarders had no one to care for them
and gradually drifted away
including the handsome stranger
but lucy sits in her room to this day

the sun goes down and the moon comes up
and drifts over the little town
no one remembers the stranger
not even sheriff john brown

was the stranger a salesman without a suitcase
or a king without a crown?
a lion without a tamer
a one man circus without a clown?

some day the moon will fade away
and the sun end in a flash
lucy will watch from her window
holding the check she never cashed

Saturday, March 26, 2022

the farmer's daughter, part 3

by nick nelson

part three of three

to read part two, click here

to read part one, click here

with the sheriff gone, the farmer’s daughter resumed her knitting.

the farmer resumed his staring into the fire.

time passed. there were no clocks in the room, or in the house, and neither the farmer nor the daughter carried any kind of timepiece on their persons.

another knock was heard at the door. not as loud or demanding as the sheriff’s, but clear enough.

again, neither the farmer nor the daughter said aloud, who can that be? but the farmer hauled himself out of his chair and approached the door.

the daughter was a bit surprised that the farmer did not retrieve his shotgun before opening the door, but she did not remark on it.

but imagine her surprise, when on opening the door, the farmer did not angrily demand of the intruder what his business was or how he dared to impose his presence on such a foul night, but welcomed him instead with a hearty - come on in, stranger! as blasts of snow and wind, which had doubled in ferocity since the sheriff’s visit, invaded the room and almost extinguished the fire.

a terrible night! continued the farmer, after closing the door. fortunately for you, we are welcoming folk in these parts. he took the stranger by the arm and led him to the fire.

daughter, he said, why don’t get this poor fellow some dry clothes, while he warms himself at the fire?

dry clothes? but where am i to get them?

oh, frank, the hired man, left some behind when he mysteriously disappeared last summer. they will be in the closet with the rakes, behind the paint cans.

as the daughter got up from her chair in the corner, she got her first good look at the stranger, and did not at like what she saw. he looked a perfect villain, with a stubbly beard and the long arms of a gorilla. his wet clothes were ripped and torn and as he was not wearing a hat, long strands of wet hair hung into his eyes, which were dark and staring.

as the daughter climbed the stairs, she heard the farmer saying, once we get you into some warm clothes, we will decide where you are to sleep. and the farmer laughed as the daughter had never heard him laugh before.

the daughter reached the second floor, but instead of looking for the hired man’s clothes she ran to a window at the end of the corridor between her bedroom and the farmer’s.

yanking open the window, she climbed out onto a branch of the old apple tree, and shimmied down the tree and ran into the stormy night.

she ran to the highway, which she could hardly see through the driving snow.

she ran and ran. finally she saw a pair of headlights.

she ran out in front of them. help me! she cried. help me!


at this point in the young woman’s narrative, she paused. just as mort was about to ask her why she had stopped, he too saw lights ahead - not the lights of another vehicle, but of a roadblock.

he slowly drew to a stop, and a pair of uniformed men, whom he assumed to be state troopers , approached, one of them carrying a high powered flashlight.

when the trooper shone the flashlight into the car, mort glanced over at the young woman, who had remained huddled against the door during the whole time of her recital of her story.

and he beheld a gray wrinkled face with one tooth, and long strands of gray hair covering its eyes.

can i help you, officer? mort managed to turn and ask. is anything wrong?

i will say there is something wrong, mister. you are under arrest.

arrest - arrest for what?

for grave robbing, mister. and transporting a corpse across state lines!

the end

Friday, March 25, 2022

the farmer's daughter, part 2

by nick nelson

part two of three

to read part one, click here

mort put his car in gear and headed down the highway toward porterville, with the young woman from the general store in the passenger seat beside him. she had a hood pulled up over her head, and he had still not gotten a good look at her.

the road, as he expected, was deserted, whether because of the coming storm, or because that was just the way it was.

so do you live in porterville? mort asked the young woman. what is a nice looking girl like you doing out here at the crossroads in the dead of night, anyway?

i did not say i lived in porterville, i said i wanted a lift on the way to porterville.

i have been down this road before, and there is not a lot between porterville and here.

there is a farm.

it must be the only one.

it is.

so, if there is a farm, there must be a farmer.

most people would think so.

you must be the farmer’s daughter.

that’s a brilliant deduction, mister.

so, are you the farmer’s daughter? and do you have a name?

let me answer you by telling you a story.

a sudden gust of wind shook the car a little bit - the first sign of the supposedly approaching storm.

once upon a time, the girl began, there was a farm, and there was a farmer who lived on it, and he had some cows and pigs, and an old yellow dog and some cats, and a daughter. but no sheep. he was not partial to sheep and had nothing good to say about them.

now this farmer was not a friendly sort, nor was he a bible reading man, and he had no sense of humor. no sense of humor whatsoever.

the farmer was very aware of the fact that folks found humor in the fact that he had a daughter, and he was determined that no one would ever have a laugh at his expense over the fact that he had one.

and you were that daughter, mort interrupted.

let me tell the story, please.

one stormy and snowy night, the farmer was sitting in his old rocking chair staring into the blazing fireplace, and the daughter was sitting away from the fire, in a corner, working at her endless knitting, when suddenly there was a loud bangingoin the door.

who can that be? both the farmer and the daughter wondered, but neither said so out loud, because they were both persons of few words.

maybe it’s the sheriff, the farmer muttered, as he got up and went to the door.

it was indeed the sheriff, sheriff tom brown. what can i do for you tonight, sheriff? the farmer enquired, only opening the door as much as he had to, to keep the wind and snow from blowing inside.

i just dropped by to let you folks know that a desperate killer, brownie black, has escaped from the state pen and is on the loose. just a word to the wise.

thank you kindly, sheriff, the farmer replied, but i do not think he will get very far in this storm. and if he does, i have my trusty old shotgun ready, and i will not let him in.

i am glad to hear that, sheriff tom brown replied. i guess then i will be getting along, as i have other folks out here in the countryside to spread the news to.

and with that the farmer closed the door and returned to the fire, which he stirred up a bit before returning to his chair.

a little cold air had been let in, but the room quickly returned to its previous level of warmth.

part 3

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

the farmer's daughter, part 1

by nick nelson

part one of three

looks like a big storm coming on, mister. i would not try to get through to porterville tonight if i was you.

mort miller smiled, i thank you for your advice, my friend, but i have to make this sale tomorrow.

suit yourself. i know these parts, and if you don’t want to take my advice…. the man behind the counter of the general store shrugged. it s only four hours to porterville. if you stay here overnight and get an early start in the morning, you should get to porterville no later than ten o’clock. you can’t make your sale then?

no, not if my rival gets there at seven or eight o’clock, and has already made his sale and gone when i get there.

oh, so that is the way of it, eh? and is this rival of yours coming down this same road? he will face the same storm as you.

no, he is coming from the south, from his company’s headquarters in wilson city.

from wilson city. eh? the man behind the counter thoughtfully scratched his head. well, then, he might get a ways before running into the storm, might miss it altogether.

so you see my situation, mort said.

the man behind the counter shook his head. well, it’s up to you, my friend. i guess it depends on how bad you want to make this sale of yours.

i don’t want to make the sale, mort answered. i need to make the sale. his voice was light, but there was a steely glint in his eye.

well, i wish you luck.

thank you. mort picked the package wrapped in brown paper up off the counter and turned and left the store.

it was dark outside the store. there were no other stores or houses in sight, snd the country road was not lit up in any way.

but there were two people sitting on the store’s porch. no one had been there when mort had entered the store.

a skinny man wearing faded blue coveralls and a straw hat.

and a small young woman, maybe a child. she and the man sat apart and did not seem to be together. the young woman was in the shadows of the porch, and mort could not get a good look at her.

friendliness was a major part of mort’s stock in trade, i am headed to porterville, he announced, either of you folks looking for a lift?

thankee kindly, mister the man in the blue coveralls said, but i don’t care to brave the storm headed this way, and i would advise you to do likewise, though i do not mean to tell you your bidness.

but you just did, didn’t you, came a young girl’s perky voice from the shadows of the porch, and besides, if the storm is coming, you are just sitting out here in the open ready to get blown away like a baby lamb.

if it is all the same to you. miss, i have a proper hole in the ground i aim to crawl into as soon as i can get my old bones moving.

girlish laughter came from the shadows. now i don’t suppose you want to invite me to share that hole in the ground, do you?

well, in that case i will take up this kind gentleman’s offer of a ride on the road to porterville, as it just so happens to be on my way. is the offer still good , mister?

is it ever, thought mort, entranced by the silvery tones of the maiden’s voice. it surely is, miss, he replied. he took his car keys out of his pocket and waved them in her direction, come along, if you are coming.

the man in the blue coveralls looked up at mort with sad bleary eyes.

she’s trouble, mister, he whispered.

part 2

Tuesday, March 22, 2022


by dog e relaford

an administrator named albert jones
had a bureaucrat named beaumont bones
beaumont was a breakfast sandwich with bacon
but all his parking spaces were taken

corliss carter was an embittered soul
immersion in infinity was his goal
he sat in the waiting room of doctor death
writing letters to the president under his breath

eddie elwood was an easygoing sort
his dog chewed tobacco while eddie held down the fort
but shed a tear for frankie lee
because she was no better than you or me

gorgeous george had a first degree
and roamed this land from sea to shining sea
harry the horse had no cause to complain
because the whole world felt his pain

investigations incorporated found no cause
to give jerry the jumper any applause
the kings keep doing what kings will do
it is not pretty, let me tell you

i wish my old master could see me now
down on the farm with a horse and a cow
in my heart i know it will all turn out right
if i keep my archbishop out of sight

Sunday, March 20, 2022

country road

by dog e relaford

i wrote this poem last night
i hope it is all right
the angels were white
the horizon was out of sight

the devils were blue
but our hearts were bright and new
we were arranged in perfect order
the archangel michael turned on his recorder

the trumpets sounded
the hell hounds bounded
the sky turned red
and everybody was dead

except me
suddenly i was free
to go anywhere i pleased
i floated on the breeze

what now, i thought
i heard a shot
my head started to explode
i landed on a country road

i saw a cow eating grass
time passed
it started to rain
i felt the cow’s pain

a truck drove by
filled with chicken nuggets and apple pie
it blasted its horn
like the day i was born

i awoke with a start
and switched on my heart
my brain was slow to respond
and my wallet was gone

Friday, March 11, 2022

a friendly person

by nick nelson

i am a friendly person. like most people these days, i make my living at home, in my apartment, and being a friendly person, i like to get out at night and talk to people. i mean, i see people on zoom and whatever, and talk to customers and potential customers all day and much of the night, but to an old fashioned person like me it is not quite the same.

so, like i say, i like to get out sometimes and talk to people. i do not really have any so-called days off, so i stay away from bars or places with alcohol, because i need my brain to be sharp - at least as sharp as it can be, ha ha - at all times in case i am called upon by my employer.

mostly i go to this little donut shop - actually it is a pretty big donut shop, open twenty four hours a day, and brightly lit up, and except maybe between two and five in the morning, crowded.

busy as it is, there is no crowd of “regulars” who are always there, and the people who work behind the counters, it seems like they change every week or every day. and a lot of them do not seem to speak much english except for what they have to to get by in taking orders for coffee or donuts or breakfast sandwiches so as i am an ignorant american who speaks only english, i would not be getting into any serious conversations with them even if they had any inclination to talk to me, which they do not seem to have anyway.

be all that as it may, i do sometimes manage to talk to people. the other night i was in there pretty late, sitting at one of the little tables by myself, and i saw this fellow at the next little table, and he looked sort of sad and lonely, so i asked him how it was going with him, and he obliged me by telling me.

i do not say it was the saddest story i ever heard, but i thought it was a pretty sad one. but judge for yourself, here it is.

i thought i had it pretty good (he began) and that i was getting places and that everybody liked me.

and then i started getting the feeling that some people were out to get me.

and it turned out to be true, they were.

but i fought back with all the strength at my command. i said never say die, and i did not give in.

for a while i thought i had them beaten back, but as the days went by i realized they were massing their forces against me more than ever and were determined to destroy me, and leave me without a shred of my pride or dignity.

but i still did not quit. quitters never win and winners never quit, that is what i told myself.

i picked myself up off the mat and got back in the center of the ring.

i gave it everything i had, and then some.

but they kept on coming. they showed me no mercy. if i wanted mercy , look for it in dictionary under “m”, that is what they told me.

all my so called friends and allies ignored me or actively turned against me.

i never realized what rats and hypocrites and psychopaths and sadists and backstabbers people were, and how much they loved to kick you when you were down.

i swear to you that i gave it everything i had and more. i fought and fought and fought.

but in the end they swept over me like a tidal wave over a little island in the middle of the ocean as far as the eye could see.

and now i have nothing and am nothing.

so ended the sad looking man’s story. i tried to offer him some words of encouragement and tell him that it was always darkest before dawn and all that, but i could not get him to look me in the eye or say anything more.

i finished my coffee and chocolate glazed donut with coconut sprinkles, and got up and left.

i walked back to my apartment through the dark streets.

a light rain began to fall.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

number five

by bofa xesjum

they called him number five
he was either dead or alive
he had a dog named number six
who could not be taught tricks

a woman named number seven
had a smile which would be heaven
but not by the decree of fate
she preferred number eight

number eight was a superstar
and rode in fame’s golden car
and all the women on main street
threw themselves at his feet

number nine was eight’s main man
and most devoted fan
he chased away number ten
and then chased him away again

what about number four
did they know the score?
and poor number three
only wanted to set the world free

don’t ask about number two
he did what he had to do
but beware of number one
and all that he has already done

Monday, March 7, 2022

poem in bed

by dog e relaford

i wrote this poem in my head
lying in bed
the universe is a wheel
and this is how i feel

people are bad, they should be good
they hitchhike to hollywood
they should stay home
and not burn rome

people work at burger king
at night they try to dance and sing
but their efforts do not flower
because evil people are in power

jeff bezos sits in his golden yacht
thinking things that he should not
he cuts everything in the world in half
and then he has a good laugh

and what about bill gates?
behind every door he waits
you don’t have time to blink
before he knows what you think

george soros may be worst of all
he will line you up against the wall
he has a window into your brain
what right he has he does not explain

o humans tremble in your cubes
you pathetic chumps and rubes
you should have stayed in the trees
eating bananas and apples in the breeze

you thought it was so grand
when your feet touched land
now your souls are an endless feast
for growling kings and smiling priests

rain is falling from the skies
but not as fast as all their lies
you chose your fate
and now it is too late

outside my window towers rise
obliterating the blue skies
beside my bed my phone is beeping
to tell me through which hoop i am leaping

such thoughts march through the cells
of my brain, which suddenly swells
like a balloon ready to burst
but let me say this first ___

Friday, March 4, 2022

two humans

by genghis gilgamesh

two humans sat side by side
one was thin and one was wide
hers was hers and his was his’n
but they only had one television

life is sad, and lonely too
some are green and some are blue
televisions should have two screens
so folks can see just what they mean

thin was bessie, wide was bill
they watched but never got their fill
bessie had a pizza, bill had wings
once they were young, and the memory stings

bill was going places
in a sea of smiling faces
bessie had what it took
and her life was an open book

they walked on open thoroughfares
and climbed up ever widening stairs
they thought they would never stop
but where was the top?

one day bill sat on a beach
with the sun just out of reach
bessie was back at the motel
with a story she would never tell

they met again by chance
in paris (tennessee, not france)
and fell back into destiny’s plan
like sausages into a frying pan

mutation is a curse
and the subject of this verse
the same things happen again and again
but nothing ever stays the same

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

the will

by bofa xesjum

jonathon walked slowly up the stairs.

he walked through the library door.

grandmother martin was seated there, weeping.

what is the matter, jonathon asked .

the will - i am getting nothing.

surely there must be some mistake.

there is no mistake, she sobbed.

jonathon wondered, am i getting anything?

aloud he said, that is disgraceful.

oh, what will become of me!

jonathon struggled to find appropriate words.

what a sad rascal grandfather was!

sunlight filtered through the dusty window.

i say, look here, jonathon began -

faithful old jenny entered the room.

lawyer briggs is here, she announced.

show him in, by all means.

lawyer briggs had a sad face.

he always had a sad face.

he carried an old brown briefcase.

sunlight filtered through the dusty window.

time stood still for a moment.

lawyer briggs had a sad face.

good afternoon, madam, lawyer briggs said.

may i be seated, he added.

of course, sir, grandmother martin replied.

jonathon turned and addressed lawyer briggs.

let us hear the worst, sir.

lawyer briggs smiled and replied smoothly.

there is no need for dramatics.

alas, such things happen every day.

lawyer briggs adjusted his blue tie.

grandmother sat straight in her chair.

where is everybody, jonathon suddenly wondered.

this can not really be happening.

sunlight filtered through the dusty window..

later, grandmother retired to her room.

lawyer briggs departed with his briefcase.

jonathon poured himself a stiff drink.

i behaved rather well, he thought.