Tuesday, January 31, 2023

the vision of henry barlow

by bofa xesjum

there are 10,000,000,000 people on planet earth.

every one of them has a vision of the future.

some more than one.

some have a different one every day or night.

last night i had a vision of the future.

the most vivid, the most compelling i have ever had.

i sincerely think this is the real thing.

i give it to the world.

last night i had the strangest dream.

or was it a dream?

the rulers of the earth were having a big dinner in the tallest building in the world.

they wore tuxedos and ballroom dresses and dined on the grilled flesh of creatures from who knows what distant galaxy.

i was a waiter.

and i heard them talking.

a great spacequake is going to destroy our solar system.

the rulers are growing afraid, because the end is near.

work is proceeding at a furious pace to build spaceships for the elite to escape.

but only a few hundred of the rulers will be allowed on board.

because the ships will be filled with steaks and champagne and love slaves to amuse them on the long journey to the new galaxy.

in between courses, i asked mister e, the real ruler of the earth, if i could go along as his personal servant.

he laughed and patted me on the head and told me he would think about it.

you see what we are up against,

most people will think this is some sort of joke.

because the forces of armed ignorance are everywhere.

i ask you to write to your congressmen or whoever fronts for the rulers in your country and demand that all living creatures be given space on the escape vessels.

it is the least they can do.

after enslaving us for countless millenia.

and destroying countless galaxies in their greed and lust for power.

my name is henry barlow, and i have dedicated my life to cultivating visions of the future.

i am pretty good at it, if i say so myself.

i estimate that we have one hundred days.

this is no joke.

my name is henry barlow, and i have dedicated my life to seeing the future.

what is your name?.

do you have a vision of the future?

if you do, i would like to hear it.

Monday, January 30, 2023

lydia and magenta

by bofa xesjum

my dearest lydia,

i am so sorry to hear of your tragic loss. i remember jonathon as always being the life of the party and more fun than a barrel of monkeys. he will be sorely missed.


your devoted,



dear magenta,

i have no interest in your crocodile tears or your mealy mouthed banalities. please do not contact me again.




my dearest lydia,

i am sorry you treat me this way. i have always loved you more than i love myself and have always considered you the most beautiful, the most wonderful, and the most glamorous human who has ever lived. really, i like you a lot.




dear magenta,

if you feel that way, how about lending me ten thousand dollars? i could really use it.


the most beautiful, wonderful, and glamorous person who has ever lived,



my dearest lydia,

that you would accept ten thousand dollars from me a dream come true. how do you want the money? cash, check, money order? paypal? transfer money to a bank account of yours? would you like me to deliver the money to you in person?

with love,



dearest magenta,

the last thing in the world i want is to look at your stupid ugly face. please send me a postal money order for the amount. on second thought,

send twenty thousand dollars, if you love me so much.

sincerely, lydia


my dearest lydia,

the money order is in the mail.

all my love,



dear channing,

your plan is working to perfection. i am sorry that i ever doubted you or your plan. magenta’s money order for ten thousand dollars is in the mail - or so she says. i will lt you know when it arrives and i have cashed it.



darling lydia,

thank you so much. however i think it best that i cash the money order myself. as my social standing is so much higher than yours, my cashing it will not excite any suspicion, as, unfortunately, yours might. please let me know as soon as you receive the money order.




dear channing,

i bow as always to your superior judgment. i will let you know as soon as i receive magenta’s money order.



dear dave,

everything is going according to plan. how predictable people are!




everything is settled, and we will have the whole crew wrapped up and ready for delivery tomorrow.

it has been great working with you. you are a true professional and an inspiration to the whole department,

over and out,


Sunday, January 29, 2023

thank you

by nick nelson

ed brown was a student of human nature and he thought his job as assistant manager and sometime counterperson at the elite delicatessen gave him good opportunities to pursue his studies.

most of the elite delicatessen’s business was takeout or delivery but there were five small tables, all within earshot of the counter, where customers could consume their orders on the premises after purchasing them at the counter. these tables were almost never all occupied at once

one of the most regular customers was a little man, who looked to be about seventy-five or eighty years old, who would take a seat at one of the tables without ordering anything at the counter. if he was asked, as he almost never was after his first few visits, he would say he was waiting for a friend.

the friend who always showed up was a tall thin woman, about the same age as the little man but better dressed. after nodding to the little man, she would order something - soup or a sandwich for each of them and tea for herself and coffee for the little man. as she never asked the little man what he wanted, either they had decided on it beforehand, or he just took whatever she ordered for him.

they never spoke while they were eating, the little man ate very slowly, and the woman would just as slowly sip her tea while waiting for him to finish.

when he was finally done, the little man would wipe his lips with his napkin, and say, thank you for buying me lunch, doris.

and the woman would reply, thank you for being my friend, draymond. then she would get up and leave.

the little man would spend five or ten minutes finishing his coffee, and then he would get up and leave.

the routine never varied.

ed brown had long range plans for writing a book about his observations, and he thought he might devote a whole chapter to speculating on the relationship between doris and draymond.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

johnny and eddie, part 4

by nick nelson

part four of four

to begin at the beginning, click here

for previous episode, click here

when marcia began telling ed callahan what she liked, johnny’s mind went blank.

he was back in the movie, the movie he had seen one time and really liked.

even though he could not remember the name of it.

he, johnny, was the star of the movie, and the movie star playing the role of johnny was eddie.

johnny/eddie was walking along the river.

it was night.

it was dark, with no moon or stars.

or lights from boats or from the low dark buildings on the other side of the river.

johnny had a gun in his pocket.

he had to get rid of it.

the big guy told hm to get rid of it.

and zelma, the big guy’s blonde girl friend, told him to get out of town after he got rid of it, because the big guy would want to make sure he couldn’t squeal to the cops.

but he could not just throw the gun in the river.

it would make a splash, and the night would explode with a thousand headlights from the thousands of police cars out looking for him.

he was in a fix, that was for sure.

he just kept walking.


and looking back.

maybe zelma would drive up beside him and tell him .to get in, she would take him to the next town where he could get a bus to nowhere.

a bus to nowhere.

that was the name of the movie.

a banana to lincoln nebraska, johnny said out loud.

and he heard laughter.

marcia and ned callahan, and bill senior and bill junior and betty in her mom’s apron she cooked dinner in, with a wooden spoon in her hand, were all laughing sat him.

and eddie, his best friend - where had he come from? - was laughing too.

laughing at him.

it was the story of his life.

the end

Friday, January 27, 2023

johnny and eddie, part 3

by nick nelson

part three of four

to begin at the beginning, click here

for previous episode, click here

johnny’s dad was named bill and his mom was named betty.

bill worked at the mill and he was a loyal union man.

betty worked at the post office under the supervision of victor kelly, the local postmaster.

betty thought that she, betty, really ran the post office and that it would grind to a halt and fall apart without her in charge.

she was confident enough in this belief that she rarely expressed it outright, and then only to her immediate family.

which consisted of herself, bill, and three children - bill junior, the oldest of the three, marcia, and johnny, who was the youngest.

, so they were bill who worked at the mill, betty, who worked at the post office, bill junior who wanted to work at the mill and be a union man like his dad, marcia, who said she wanted to be a schoolteacher but was a little too interested in boys to suit betty, and johnny, who seemed a natural born layabout and dreamer.

things went on in this way for what seemed like forever but was only a few years.

bill junior graduated from high school and went to work at the mill.

some of his friends told him that that was a bad decision because the mill was sure to close down soon.

but bill junior had his heart set on working at the mill and being a union man.

the only other course that might have dissuaded him from this would be getting a contract to be a professional baseball player - which he often fantasized about - but he could not even make the starting lineup of the high school team.

he did make the team, which few boys tried out for, but only as a bench player.

the coach, milt kelly, brother of victor kelly the postmaster, wanted bill junior to make more noise on the bench, encouraging his teammates and riding the players on the opposing team, but it was not in bill junior’s makeup to do those things with any enthusiasm.

no members of his family - and few citizens of the town - ever came to the games to watch bill junior sitting on the bench.

bill senior was usually to be found at the union hall after work, and betty, marcia, and johnny - especially johnny, had no interest in sports.

when people asked johnny what he was interested in, he would always pause before answering.

and then say - nothing much, i guess.

and if they persisted and said, come on, you must be interested in something, he pause again and say -

the movies.

one night bill senior invited ned callahan, another good union man, to dinner with the family.

ned callahan was a friendly and talkative person and he asked johnny what he was interested in.

nothing much, johnny replied.

come on , you must be interested in something, ned callahan laughed.

the movies, johnny said.

you never even go to the movies, marcia said.

i went to a movie once, johnny mumbled.

what movie was it? what was it about? marcia persisted.

i don’t remember, johnny said, but i liked it.

do you want to know what i like? marcia asked ned callahan.

of course i want to know. what do you like? ned callahan answered with his friendly smile.

part three

Thursday, January 26, 2023

johnny and eddie, part 2

by nick nelson

part two of four

to read part one, click here

after a whlie eddie showed up.

johnny had just about finished his coffee and raspberry danish.

i am glad you showed up, johnny said to eddie, i have almost finished my coffee and danish.

what, you needed me to finish them? eddie asked.

no, but i do not have any money to buy some more.

johnny proceeded to tell eddie the story of his unfortunate encounter with the woman with gray eyes.

he neglected to mention that the woman had asked him, johnny, if he were eddie.

eddie did not seem overwhelmed or very interested in johnny’s story.

a woman did me wrong once too, eddie told johnny.

edde did not offer to give or lend johnny any money, and headed to the counter to buy his own coffee and donut.

johnny was not surprised.

it had been worth a try, but that was the kind of guy eddie was.

johnny and eddie went back a long way.

sometimes they wondered if they were the same person.

maybe they were.

it depended on how you looked at it.

johnny had a mom and a dad

they were from the old days, when people were what they were.

nobody knew where eddie came from.

there were all kinds of stories about him.

part three

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

johnny and eddie, part 1

by nick nelson

part one of four

johnny smith woke up.

he was still himself, and he was still alone in his little room, which he was lucky to have.

he was nobody, and he had nothing to do and nowhere to go.

he had enough money for a cup of coffee and a donut or a danish pastry, so he decided to get up and go out and get them.

he left the room, and carefully locked the door behind him even though the lock did not work very well.

he took the stairs down to the street.

it was dark.

he headed to the coffee shop on the corner.

he ordered a cup of coffee and a raspberry danish pastry and took them over to a table and sat down.

a woman came over to the table. she was not old or young, fat or thin, good looking or ugly.

she had gray eyes.

are you eddie brown? she asked johnny.

no, he replied, i am johnny smith.

the woman considered this for a couple of seconds.

even though you are johnny smith and not eddie brown, she said, perhaps you can help me.

she sat down.

what is your name, johnny asked.

buy me a cup of coffee, she replied.

i will buy you a cup of coffee if you tell me your name, johnny said.

that seems like a fair exchange.

and i will buy you a donut if you tell me your life story, johnny continued.

you have yourself a deal, pardner.

let’s shake on it.

i do not shake hands with strange men. i am not that kind of person.

you refer to me as a man but yourself as a person, why is that?

those are the rules. take them or leave them.

excuse me while i buy you a cup of coffee and a donut.

give me the money and i will buy them myself.

johnny gave the woman with gray eyes three dollars.

she got up and fled into the night.

johnny was not surprised.

it was the story of his life.

part two

Monday, January 23, 2023


by horace p sternwall

today i went out walking
in the wind and snow
i thought to find a sunny day
but little did i know

a hairy form approached me
as i exited the town
but i could not cross the river
because the bridge had fallen down

the form took shape before me
and i started back in fright
it was my old friend williams
whom i had pledged to meet that night

he look a look upon him
i had never seen before
his face was pale and twisted
he greeted me with a roar

alas! i had no chance to speak
his fangs were at my throat
he threw me in the water
and down the current i did float

before i quite expired
i saw a light upon the bank
but darkness overcame me
and into it i sank

o heed my admonition
as i conclude my rhyme
if you must go out walking
carry a stout stick at all times

Thursday, January 19, 2023

rigs in the night

by walter w johnson iii

the moon shines through the trees

the stars look down on the highway

the long dark highway

and the big rigs

the big rigs rolling

carrying roast beef for arby’s sandwiches to indianapolis

and buns for big macs to jacksonville florida

and eggs for breakfast sandwiches for dunkin donuts to buffalo new york

and bandaids and deodorant to cvs’s in dallas

and chicken wings to popeyes in salt lake city

and coffee grounds to winchell’s donuts in las vegas

and stacks of people magazine to milwaukee

and swanson’s tv dinners to butte montana

and milky way candy bars to juneau alaska

all these things to distribution centers lit up in the american night

to be delivered in the morning to apartments and condos and gated communities and retritement homes all over this geat land

you get the picture

we are safe now

never again to cross a mountain in a smowstorm

or cling to a raft overturned on a raging river

or get eaten by a bear

or bitten by a rattlesnake or a stonefish or a wolverine

but sometimes

in the dead of night

after a long day of bingewatching a new miniseries about the royal families of intergalactic empires

or a new version of dracula or winnie the pooh or little women

i lie down and close my eyes

and think i can hear the big rigs

the big rigs humming

humming down the dark highways


in the wind and rain

Sunday, January 15, 2023

a country road

by bofa xesjum

an eremite and a gypsy violinist were walking along a country road.

the eremite was taking a decided stand.

he declared that treason was in the air.

the violinist could not understand why an eremite should concern himself with politics.

for the sake of peace, he refrained from asking.

the light in the sky began to fade.

finally it was extinguished, and night fell.

the curiously assorted pair continued to follow the narrowing path.

in another life, the eremite had been the mayor of a prosperous town.

but he taken a vow of poverty for mysterious reasons.

perhaps he felt he had been done an injustice.

in his youth, he had been a happy fellow.

but something in him changed as the years went by.

he no longer laughed at the good old jokes.

or joined in lustily at the good old songs.

instead he planted a tree,

but the tree did not take kindly to being planted.

a raven took up residence in the tree.

under the raven’s baleful gaze, the town grew less prosperous.

at last, the good burghers rose up against the no longer merry mayor.

and he left the town and advanced down the highway.

where he met the gypsy violinist and the queen of spades.

the queen of spades taught the erstwhile mayor everything she knew.

but she failed in her quest for the magic slipper.

and left the eremite and the violinist to their fate.

perhaps you can see them on the country road some cold night.

the sun will rise on them.

but they will not greet it with a smile, let alone a jest.

Friday, January 13, 2023

pale moon, or the lost queen

by anonymous

last night i had the stangest dream
i was a king and had a queen
who was lost under the table
and to find her i was not able

i called the servants to my aid
the butler came, and then the maids
they searched the corners of the room
but the queen had met her doom

the pale moon faded unobserved
morning came, and breakfast served
i ate the food upon my plate
and was remembered as “the great”