Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Hometown Shootout - Power

OK -- I just realized that I had the wrong theme this week! It is too late to change pictures now and I don't have many food pictures. So I'll quickly ammend some of the captions. Maybe next week I'll find food pictures that I can add "power captions" to....what a mish mash. Woe is me!
I haven't posted all week and was actually thinking of blowing this off too...but...hard to give it up completely. So here is my power theme. Although I may not write a whole lot.

BAGMAN: Except to complain as usual! You're a piece of work, Mark!
BUTLER: Leave him alone. He's been under a lot of stress lately.

Myrtle Beach (near enough to Charleston) -- Prehistoric Power
or maybe commercial advertising power.
Regarding food: this guy ate everything...including the wall.
More raw animal power...although this was nowhere near Charleston --
1984, off the coast of New England
...Having just finished eating krill

Mechanical power -- new street coming through
"Chews through dirt and rock like it was oatmeal."

More mechanical power
Nice teeth for biting through delicious rocks.

Fort Moultrie -- protecting the coast during Revolutionary and Civil Wars
(Referred to here as the War of Northern Aggression)

The problem was that many of the ships off shore did not have to come into range of these guns because they were not so much interested in attacking the shore as they were in blockading the harbor so that FOOD and supplies couldn't be brought into Charleston.

BAGMAN: That was a stretch.

Zoom Power -- Not mine, but from a recent car show in Mount Pleasant

These engines DRINK a lot of gasoline.

Also, unfortunately not mine

Tae Kwon Do Power -- Look at the face on Ralph, a friend of mine --
The expression alone would break wood

Ralph will kick me silly if he sees this, but in order to edit this post to meet the food theme, I should also suggest you glance at All muscle. Well, maybe not all muscle...

And here am I, three years ago, being powerful during my black belt test
Of course my hand looks like "Dancing with the Stars"

And maybe a bit of food has gone under this belt as well...

And finally, Roxie-power. Sweet but strong. And Roxie is probably one of the main reasons I've stopped blogging. And the jury is now out as to whether we can even keep her. She doesn't have a mean bone in her body but doesn't know her own strength and this week she pulled Karen off her feet and literally dragged her halfway across the street. Multiple bruises, abraisions and pain. Yesterday we were sure we would have to adopt her out somehow although it broke all our hearts. Today we're re-thinking it. But to really train her right is a fulltime deal. And leaves little room for blogging or checking other people's posts.

And, for this week's food theme -- As we now have three dogs (old Sally, Daisy the rat-dog, and Alpha Roxie) we started feeding them in separate bowls in three corners of the kitchen. Roxie's bowl is three times larger than the others. And they are pretty good. We make them sit -- except Sally who is deaf. We put down her bowl first and then Roxie's and then Daisy's. We run around direct each of them to their own bowls although each one looks at the others. Take a bite of your own bowl, lift your head, check out the other bowls. Roxie eats! Daisy the rat-dog sort of eats but looks afraid all the time. Sally sometimes just lies down. Karen encourages Daisy and wakes up Sally. I jump from side to side blocking Roxie who after a few moments tries to move to other bowls. Eventually, Karen and I get distracted. Let the games begin.

Roxie moves to Daisy's bowl and Daisy runs away.
Sally wakes up and starts eating out of Roxie's bowl.
Daisy see's Sally's bowl unattended and runs over and starts eating out it.
Roxie sees Sally at her bowl and reclaims it.
Sally goes to Daisy's bowl and lies down.
Daisy sees Sally at her bowl and runs away.
Roxie sees that Daisy has abandonned Sally's bowl and heads for it.
Daisy comes back in and goes to Roxie's bowl which is so big, she gets in it to eat.
Roxie goes back to her bowl, notices that there is a dog there instead of food and
shakes her head in confusion.
Sally stands up, takes two bites from Daisy's bowl and falls asleep for the night.
Daisy looks up and sees Roxie looking down at her, runs into the livingroom and
lies down on the couch.
Roxie eats everything left in all the rest of the bowls...

Thus illustrating both Power and Food simultaneously.

BUTLER: I'm glad you got your post straightened out.

But at least I got the Friday Shoot done. I even fiddled with my header picture, as usual, although it was probably too subtle to notice.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I promise I have not disappeared...completely

Bear with me, folks. I'm not going to pull a disappearing act, but I just can't keep up these days. Mostly I'm sorry that I haven't been able to keep up on your posts...I miss reading about what you are all doing. Alas. The hours in the day are finite.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Friday Shoot-Out: REFLECTIONS

Reflections in a glass building above

and a couple of reflective self-protraits below

I'm posting my Friday shootout a little early this week because I've been finding less and less time to work on Blogspot and if I don't do it now, I may not get to it until after the weekend. I could schedule it, of course, but I also wanted to change the header picture and I can't figure out a way to schedule that until later.

BAGMAN: "Blah blah blah...always having to explain yourself."

I cheered at this week's theme because reflections have always caught my eye since I first had a camera. So my post naturally spreads across time and space this week. The hard part was picking and choosing.

I remember some early black and white things but have not yet found them in my endless project of scanning old negatives into digital format. But the earliest one I found was from 1971 of my grandmother near a pond. I think it was taken with my first SLR which lacked auto-focus.

1975 / Dallas

Sometime, somewhere, who knows...

Then, for some reason, I took a lot of reflection shots in Venice a few years ago.

BAGMAN: For some reason!!!? Don't tell me you don't know!!! You took a lot of reflection shots in Venice because there's a lot of WATER in Venice! Duh!!

This last one was reflected in a mylar balloon, Bagman. So there!

The next two below are reflections on Real Estate...the market has been sinking lately.

As well as the auto industry.

And a couple of miscellaneous ones below.

Here endeth the Friday Shootout...and...

BAGMAN: You can't end something with the word "and" !!!

BUTLER: I have to admit Bagman is correct there.

But I just did.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Dream

Last night I had a dream that I made a point to log in my dream database this morning. I don’t log them all but some of them kind of grab me.

In this dream, I was in a restaurant and wanted to buy a dessert for a young woman and her 12-year-old daughter who were sitting in the corner. I knew and loved these two people and they loved me but more in a family way than a sexual way. When I went over to their table, however, they ignored me. I decided they were deep in conversation or maybe the time wasn’t right and they wanted to be left alone, so I went back and made small talk about the weather with a waiter.

Then I went outside and ran into Lee Armen. (Lee, in real life, was one of my best friends throughout high school and college and for a few years after – then we lost touch. Several years ago a mutual friend told me had a died of stomach cancer. There is probably a whole blog to be written about Lee. Sometime).

Anyway, back in the dream, I’m glad to see Lee and we play catch with a odd-shaped fuzzy ball. Then I start to ask about his wife and remember that I had talked to her after I had learned of his death. I realize, in the dream, that he is dead and I ask, “So I’m dead then?”

“Yes,” he say.

“When? How? And how can this be true. Nothing seems any different?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” he answers.

And I realize that the woman and girl had not been just ignoring me but they couldn’t see me at all. But the clerk had talked to me. The realization was paralyzing! What my death meant was that I would never be able to have meaningful relationships but only be able to talk about trivial things to strangers. For eternity. I was clearly in Hell.

I turned around. Lee was gone. But looking over at the restaurant, the waiter was smiling blandly and waving at me. “Nice weather we’re having!” he shouted.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On electronic automobile locks, etc.

The battery in my car keys died again

And why, come to think of it, is there a battery in car keys in the first place? What automotive engineer first came up with the idea that it was too much work for us to insert a key in a lock and turn it? A battery. And two computer chips, of course – one for the key and one for the car.

Here’s a question that keeps me up at night: Are there more computer chips or coat hangers in the world today?

But the real question is why does the battery in my car keys die three times faster then the battery in my wife’s car keys? I think I got a clue while leaving for work this morning.

BAGMAN: “Oh DO tell us. It’s probably more interesting than more stories about dogs. I’m just wondering if we’re ever going to start noticing women again.”

BUTLER: “My calculations are that there are currently more coat hangers but computer chips will catch up and surpass coat hangers by 2012.”

Anyhow, I had more stuff than usual because (1) I had to attend a County Council meeting which meant wearing a jacket and (2) Karen had books for me to drop off at the library and letters to mail at the post office. Plus my usual insulated lunch bag, my camera bag, and my backpack stuffed with stuff.

Does anybody remember George Carlin’s monologue on “Stuff”? I’m the poster child for stuff. I bring home stuff from work so I can do it at home and bring stuff from home to work so I can do it at work. Say that sentence three times fast. In 30 years I’ve probably done work stuff and home and home stuff at work a total of…let’s see…twice.

BUTLER: “You just used the word ‘stuff’ six times in one paragraph.”

BAGMAN: “Zzzzzzzzz. Snort. Yawn. Zzzzzzzzz”

Plus it was trash day.

So first, I lugged my backpack, camera, and lunch to the car, clicked open the trunk, stuffed it in the tiny trunk, shut the trunk. I got the library books, clicked open the car door and put them in the front seat.

I rolled the big trash bin out to the street, went inside, got last trash bag from the kitchen, took it out and put it in the bin. Fortunately, the bin does not have an electronic lock I have to click…yet.

Oh yes, can’t forget my jacket! Back inside, I put it on, ready to go, and noticed, on the steps, the small bag of detritus from the cat litter box.

BAGMAN: (Waking up momentarily) – Did you just use the word ‘detritus’? Have you really become too proper to say ‘cat shit’?

Walking past the car, I realize that I might want to take a picture on the way to work so I click open the trunk, remove the camera, put it in the front seat. Seeing the library books, I realize I’m not passing the library until my way home so I take them out, click open the trunk, and put them in it. I walk out to the garbage bin and can’t remember why I’m there.

Oh yes, cat shit. Where is it? I go back and look in the front seat. Not there. Click open the trunk and see that I was about to take the litter bag to work with me. Take it out and put it in the bin.

By now, Charleston’s July humidity has got to me and I realize I don’t want to wear my jacket all day – just to the Council meeting later. I take it off, click open the trunk, fold it carefully and put it on top of everything else in the trunk. I get in the car, start it up, and realize I’m not only sweating but dying of thirst. Get out again, click open the trunk again, rummage under the jacket for the lunch bag, pull out a soda and put it in the car’s drink holder.

But I’ll need one for lunch, I remember. Run back in the house, get another soda out of the refrigerator, run back to the car, click open the trunk again, rummage under the jacket again, and place the new drink in the bag. Shut the trunk, get in the car, back out of the driveway, and the thought hits me. I’ll bet with all the rummaging, my jacket is now stuffed in the trunk and I’ll look like a wrinkled, homeless bagman at the Council Meeting.

BAGMAN: Hey! You’re getting personal now!

So I stop the car, get out, click open…click open…click click click… so why does the battery in my car keys die three times faster then the battery in my wife’s car keys?

The rest of the way to work, I obsess on whether or not I accidentally threw the library books in the trash bin. But my worry is interrupted by my cell phone. Karen is calling to remind me that I forgot the letters to take to the post office.

I tell her not to worry. That I think I mailed the cat poop instead but since it had no postage they’ll return it.

After hanging up, I stare blankly at my cell phone and wonder what telecommunications engineer first came up with the idea to put a camera in it. And can I take the battery out and put it in my keys.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Big Innocent Dog

I need to take some more pictures of Roxie the sweetest rottweiler in the world...but usually when she is around, I need to devote all of my hands, arms, muscle and focus on her and have none free for the camera.

And when she is around is "always." Except of course when she is out trying to figure out what is a "good dog" activity and what is a "bad dog" activity. I can't fault her for that. She's a one-year-old dog. Heck, I'm a 63-year-old human and I'm still trying to figure it out the "good Mark / bad Mark" stuff.

Yesterday I finally finished repairing the screen door on the porch that she shattered because I was outside and she thought I wanted her to come out and play.

Last night we decided it was time to open up the master bedroom so Roxie could get used to our cats and vice versa. (And so that I could stop sleeping on the couch). We also had put all new carpeting the bedroom about a year ago on the assumption that we would be having no more new animals. That's how much we know! But Roxie has been very good this week at becoming housebroken amazingly fast!

So the door opened, she went right inside, peed all over the new carpet and then smiled at us waiting for praise. Boy was she surprised! I guess we were thinking "bedroom" and she was thinking "door opens from place where I can't go to place where I'm supposed to go." We'd be thinking "inside and outside" and she had interpreted it as "going through a usually closed door."

We also moved the cats food from the previously closed bedroom to their usual place on the sink in the upstairs bath. This morning, investigating one of the numerous crashes in the night, I discovered that Roxie is capable of getting on the sink. Wish I had a picture! But I was reaching for the broom to sweep up a ton of catfood.

Why do they make dried cat food in round little bites like brown marbles that roll everywhere? I guess their research division didn't test it for having a bowl batted across a bathroom by the paws of a rottweiller.

Ah, but it was nice to sleep in the big bed again! Even nicer (sort of) because Roxie wanted to sleep as close as possible to us...what a sweetie!...and lying half under the bed, scratching and playing, the whole bed vibrated like one of those old Motel massage-a-beds.

And a few minutes ago, I stopped writing this due to more weird noises and went down to find that she had pinned Sally down. At 18 years old, Sally is not going to be Roxie's play thing. That's not a "bad dog" thing....that's a "find a new home for Roxie" thing. Roxie got a whole truck load of bad dog on that one.

But later, walking Sally, I got to thinking that Sally had not been whining or whimpering or yelping. I'm not entirely sure she hadn't been playing back. Hard to believe is also true that since Roxie has arrived, Sally seems to have increased her energy level greatly.

Walking her around the house used to be a challenge. Now she insists on going with Roxie and Daisy (the oppossum dog) on one mile walks. She is slow, of course...particularly at the end...but the fact she does it seems miraculous. So maybe she wasn't minding the play fight with Roxie as much as I thought. But it still needs to stop.

And I need to learn to shoot photographs with one hand.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Shadowshot Sunday

Well, I guess I'll throw my hat in the ring for shadowshot Sunday.

For this week at least...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Shoot=out Yard Objects...YAWN

It is Friday. I force my baggy eyes open...

BAGMAN: "Don't you dare use MY name as part of your usual whining introduction!!"


BUTLER: "Nor mine! Be a man, for Pete's sake!"

PETE: "Absolutely!"

How did Pete get in here? Who is Pete? Not another dog, I hope. I think I'm losing it. But here is my Friday shoot-out. Sorry there are no piles of dead fleas in my front yard. Well, there probably are, but I couldn't find them.

TThe morning paper is delivered in front yards

The morning paper is recycled in front yards

Everything is recycled in front yards in yard sales.

Some people REALLY don't want you parking in their front yards!
("I'm sorry officer, I didn't understand. Maybe they need another sign?)

Some people don't support this week's Friday Shoot-out theme.

Some people have ghosts in their front yards. This is Poogan's Porch, by day a favorite restaurant in downtown Charleston. By night, stop on the city's "Ghost Walk". Before becoming a restaurant, Poogan's Porch was a large home originally inhabited by a wealthy family with a maid who died but continued cleaning which caused the property to go through a large number of owners, none of whom stayed very long. Although I can't understand why because if my house was getting cleaned overnight, even by a ghost, I'd stick around forever hoping for a ghost that cooks, a ghost that walks dogs, etc. But the last family that lived there had a small dog named Poogan. This family left so quickly in terror that they left their dog. For a long time the dog, Poogan, stayed on the porch where passers-by fed it. But finally, it, too, died and went to dog heaven. And the place became a restaurant. But since that time there have been many instances where people who were eating at the outdoor tables on the porch would suddenly feel something furry rubbing against their legs. Particularly when they were eating the mocha cake dessert. They would run away in terror. (Or maybe they were just skipping out on paying the bill.)

I shot this during the ghost tour but did not see Poogan. I even squatted down and called the dog but no canine apparition appeared.

However, when I got home, I had several mysterious flea bites on my legs. So I think there are also the ghosts of many fleas at Poogan's Porch.


And I was going to do more for this Friday's shootout but fell asleep. I'm exhausted, for God's sake!

GOD: "Don't use my name in your whining either!"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Operation House Bomb

BAGMAN: “Yee Ha!”

BUTLER: “Shut up! I’m trying to sleep.”



We are currently dug in, entrenched in reality, so far way from my bloggy friends that I’ve lost touch. We are taking incoming so frequently that I can’t keep up with what you are all doing on the homefront. I tried to go out on a night patrol last night but was only able to read two blogs before having to retreat back and defend the perimeter from another sneak attack by the Roxie and her troops.

Tactically, Bagman, Butler, and I plan to get out short messages just to make sure you all know we are still alive. Getting very little sleep. Legs tired from walking dogs in moonlight.

BUTLER: “Tell them we need immediate air support and helicopter extraction!”

BAGMAN: “Phooey! We’re just beginning to have fun now! Yee Ha and Semper Fi!”-------------------------------------------------------


Karen (code name “Kilo One”) and my special forces (code name “Bravo Bravo”) have divided forces to implement a troop surge today on two fronts. In addition to Roxie’s use of IED’s (Improvised Excretion Devices), the animals have managed to infiltrate our lines of defense with fleas – intelligence estimates the number in excess of 5,930 battalions. Bravo Bravo dispatched to bomb the house. (Oh, if I could only use real explosives instead of flea poison bombs!!!)

Simultaneously, we have received request for transport and care of Conner overnight. Kilo One will head up that operation after removing canines to a safe location for the day.

So Kilo One has driven off in a car that is rocking back and forth as dogs leap around from window to window. In the house, the temperature is quickly rising toward the upper 90’s with 100% humidity. Air conditioning has been turned off. Windows closed, ceiling fans deoperationalized. Cats have been transported to the closed garage where they are hiding behind the freezer. Sweat pours down my forehead (and face (and chest (and everywhere else))) as I move through now empty silent rooms setting canisters on chairs in the middle of each room.
After putting my work stuff – computer, camera, papers, folders – in the car, trying to shower and dress but sweating just as much after the shower as before it…I start on the second floor, working fast, shaking each canister, pushing and setting the trigger. Loud hissing grows as each room begins to fill with a poison gas.

I begin to hear the tiny screams of millions of fleas.

After setting off the last canister and backing out the door, I remember the smoke detectors! Oh crap!

Holding my breath, I dash inside, avoiding direct spray, grab the first one, duck low and take a breath through my shirt sleeve…run upstairs, unscrew and remove the second one…and run outside gasping.

My dress slacks, shirt and tie now carry the smell of flea bomb. It smells like I just poured gasoline all over myself. I think briefly of just going back in the house, putting on some soft music, lying on the floor and crossing my arms over my chest. It passes.

Wait! Did I turn off the fan in the bedroom?!! Oh crap again!!! But instead of running inside again, I’m smart enough to walk around and look in the bedroom window. It’s off, thank God!

Backing the car out of the driveway, I see fleas leaping to their death from the second floor windows. Not that the fall will kill them…they are fleas, after all. But Bravo Bravo company is wily and sprayed the yard last night with more poison to close off escape routes.

Driving to work, I congratulate myself on winning the battle. But the war continues. Tonight after the house is aired out, we return to additional sleep deprivation. Karen will have Conner and the cats in the closed off master bedroom and I will have the dogs and the livingroom couch. I wonder what Karen looks like these days. Maybe I’ll send her a post card.

I wonder if Conner’s diapers would fit Roxie.

I wonder how we’ll get the cats from behind the freezer in the garage.

I wonder how much sleep deprivation it takes before the hallucinations come. I ask the Jolly Green Giant riding beside me in the car but he’s talking about frozen peas. I don’t want to ask him whether that is spelled “pea” or “pee”.

I wonder if anyone has heard from Reggie Girl and how Barry is doing these days.

I wonder if fleas have invented gas masks.

I wonder if I’ll post any more than the four mediocre pictures I have for Friday’s shoot-out on “Things people have in their front yards”.

I wonder if I can photograph a pile of dead fleas.

And I wonder at how, through all of this, my love for Roxie keeps growing. (Last night she slept the entire time next to the couch with my hand on her back…except at 1:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. when we took walks).


BUTLER: “Oh shut up!”

Finally, I get to work in my nice air conditioned office. My clothes, soaked with sweat and flea bomb stick icily to my body. I say hello to one of my colleagues. He takes one look at my puffy dark eyes and crazed expression and rapidly retreats. From a distance he asks, with political correctness, “Are you wearing cologne?”

Monday, July 13, 2009

Life keeps throwing curveballs

This may be a fast post because life, once again, is not in my if it ever was.

BAGMAN: Why do you have to start off every post by whining?!!!"

BUTLER: "Leave him alone. He slept on the couch last night and he's exhausted."

BAGMAN: "But doesn't he start almost every post by whining, usually about not having enough time?"

BUTLER: "Well, I was not going to mention it, but I have been keeping statistics and he does start 64.7% of them that way."

I'll start again...although I actually think my percentages are going to go up over the next week or so.

Anyhow, Brian, Melody, and Conner were taking a vacation in Myrtle Beach and my sister-in-law was taking care of their dogs. We have already adopted Daisy, the terrier/opossum mix. So she was watching Rosie and Roxie...who have been tied in their back yard pending repair to the fence. It has become increasingly obvious, however, that Roxie, the rottweiler/rottweiler mix will be capable of knocking down any fence capable of being built by man.

Roxie is, I have to admit, the most sweet, loveable, lick-happy, intelligent dog I know. But...

Anyhow, Kathy (Karen's sister-in-law) called us Sunday, in tears. Since the kids have been gone for a week, she has had more interaction with her and she just couldn't stand to see her standing forlorn in the back yard anymore. Karen said, "Okay. We'll just have to take her and housebreak her and turn her into an indoor dog."

Karen looked at me. I have grown attached to Roxie too, but said, "This is a bad idea on so many levels that I can't count them."

BUTLER: "739."

BAGMAN: "Aw go for it."

Kathy and Karen always win, of course, so it wasn't long before we were at Kathy's house about to give Roxie a bath before allowing her in Karen's car for the ride home. We tied her to a tree and she immediately broke her collar. So I wrestled her, still filthy, into the car. We stopped at Petsmart for the biggest halter collar they sold brought her to our house and began to wash her again. She allowed herself to be soaked with the garden hose and totally lathered up with flea soap and then she decided she had enough and lurched, half-free of the halter and I tackle her, wrapping my arms around her like a greased pig.

Where is the movie camera when you need it?!! For the next five minutes, she and I rolled on the ground, water hose soaking both of us, lather getting in my eyes...she was a worthy opponent but I outweighed her and have a black belt in the martial arts. But it was close.

Then we introduced her to the other animals. She and Daisy knew each other (sort of) and almost wanted to play, but it kept turning into fighting. Growling, snapping -- at each other, never at me -- and I was rolling around again. Sally was too old to be very aggressive and Roxie wasn't mean toward her, just wanting to lick her crotch with a tongue that can knock over grown men. It was like watching Hulk Hogan hug Mother Theresa. Sweet but painful.

Roxie's tongue looking for a target
Sally resigned to living with giants

We got through that one.

Roxie learned to walk around the house without knocking over too much furniture although keeping her off the leather couch was a problem.

We began a feeding schedule and a walk-in-the-yard schedule. She is intelligent but intelligence doesn't mean much if you've never been educated. So walking Roxie became the perfect example of closing the barn door after the horse has left. And, believe me, horses have smaller bowels and bladders than Roxie. We closed off all the rooms in the house we could, placed chairs on all the couches, and placed mops and rolls of papertowels in every room.

The cats were moved to the Master bedroom with food and litter box in the master bath. They objected at first but one look at Roxie through the crack in the door and they never meowed again.

So I slept on the couch which was really more guard duty than sleep. I woke up several times to odd noises and went to stop Roxie from (1) chewing the fringe on the rugs, (2) eating the baby's rattle, (3) eating a ping pong ball, (4) knocking a chair off the couch, etc. etc. Roxie seemed to enjoy this game because the few times that I fell deeply enough asleep to miss one of her weird noises, she would sneak over to the couch and lick me. This was like being awakened by someone slapping you in the face with a wet beachtowel. I am thinking that if the CIA knew about her, they could use her for interrogations instead of waterboarding.

Today I have to go to work. The kids will be coming back from Myrtle Beach and maybe something will be worked out. I think that Karen may discover that being alone with three dogs, two cats, and Conner is more than she can handle. But maybe I underestimate my wife.

And I have to admit that Roxie does seem to love me alot. She is now sleeping beside me. I don't know why she gets to sleep after keeping me awake all night. I'm really tempted to sneak over and give her a big sloppy lick on her face to wake her up. But she'd probably love it.

I hope I don't fall asleep at work.

This is still a bad idea on so many levels.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


It's been months since any new poems have forced themselves out of me. Of course, poems hatch less often when I don't do the things that help the process along. I've been thinking more in images and less in words. And when I was thinking in words, I was writing more in irony and humor and less in metaphor. I enjoy the medium of blog. It has a freedom to mix and match.

But for whatever reason, poems -- or poems that look like poems (as opposed to blogs which may be poems that look like blogs) -- have mostly being lying quiet and heavy in my gut like a too much of a spaghetti dinner.

But this one showed up last night before I went to sleep and while I usually type them up and let them sit in a file for a year or so before releasing them to the air, I'll throw it out this morning. Presto, Chango!

Disappearing Act Revealed

Magicians never tell their secrets so

the first time, I saw you


from within

a crowd in a closed room of conversation

I applauded with abandon and vowed

to watch more closely if an encore came.

The next time the curtain went up

I studied how bouquets of flowers sprang forth

from both your hands,

the eyes of your fans rolling up with surprise

and the scent of sweet perfume.

Silken scarves, a pastel cloud of flirtatious words,

veiling those who would come closer,

the sudden snap of your wrist that created a cane,

solid and prodding that drove the last resisters back.

And always the abracadabra patter

of politics and art, the well-timed joke,

the conversational smoke and mirrors

that hid the trap door through which the

actual you could slowly slip.

Until you noticed the last remaining set of eyes

and pulled your masterpiece smile from the hat,

and threw it at me like flash powder.

I blinked in your light and then you were gone again

leaving me fooled again, but without applause --

instead of your smile, I’d rather have your lips.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hometown Shoot-out "Textures"

I decided to sit this one out and was napping in the other room when Bagman and Butler sat down to discuss how to illustrate Charleston through textures.

BAGMAN: "Let shoot everyone's hair. Hair is great. Look at Mark's daughter's hair. She was a real live wire with a great sense of humor. By the way, Butler, old man, got any bubble gum?

BUTLER: "Yes, she was but this is supposed to be about our hometown not about people who come to visit."

Butler started to take a pack of bubble gum from his desk drawer and then thought a minute and closed the drawer again, giving Bagman a dirty look.

BAGMAN: "What? You never chew it. You won't eat anything without a knife and a fork!"

BUTLER: "So how about this picture? It's got texture. It's the old cobblestones from the early 1800's. This is Chalmers Street where they used to sell slaves."

BAGMAN: "You should be ashamed to even show it!"

BUTLER: "Those who forget history are bound to repeat it."

BAGMAN: "Bull..."

BUTLER: Then let's do something else historical. Look at the textures on the wall of this shot I took for a documentary on the Drayton Hall Plantation. It was the only large plantation that survived the Civil War intact. It is kept up by the Preservation Society.

BAGMAN: "Boring! It's unpainted, no furniture..."

BUTLER: "No bed, you mean."

BAGMAN: "Well, yes. But it's just empty rooms. Why people come to see it is beyond me.

BUTLER: "Preservation" is different from "restoration" The society is dedicated to preserving it as it was when they purchased it."

BAGMAN: "Why the #@%&! would they do that!? Whoever built it painted the walls, at least!

BUTLER: "It's what they do."

BAGMAN: "Boring! How about giving me a stick of gum at least?"

BUTLER: "Because I know what you want to do with it! And there's a city ordinance against it! You'll get fined! I'll play no part in that! And besides, look at this wonderful detail from the Plantation."

BAGMAN: "Well, grafitti is a little interesting.

BUTLER: "Not just any grafitti. They've analyzed this and determined that it was done during the Civil War...probably by confederate soldiers staying there."

BAGMAN: "Big deal."

BUTLER: "How about this then?"

BAGMAN: "Yeah, she's kind of cute but why is that pile of sand in front of her?"

BUTLER: "It's a copy of the old market place and it's got real historical interest!"

BUTLER: "See the detail where the plaster is broken showing the bricks underneath? Lots of buildings that were built in the 1600's were done by English colonists who through bricks were were cheap-looking but it was all they had so they covered it with plaster and even put lines in it to make it appear like stone work."

BAGMAN: "I don't see any lines?"

BUTLER: "Well, maybe the guy who did the sand castle didn't...HEY!"

While he was admiring his picture, Bagman had jump over the chair, pulled open the drawer and snatched two sticks of gum, stuck them into his mouth and rushed out the door. Butler rushed out but Bagman was gone leaving only a footprint in the sand near the sand castle.

Good texture, thought Butler, but what worried him more was the lack of a shoe. My God, thought Butler, I hope he hasn't taken off all his clothes again! Skin texture is NOT what Mark had in mind, I'm sure!!! Butler ran to the local pool where he was terrified of finding Bagman skinny-dipping but all he found was water.

Well, it has texture, I have to admit, thought Butler. Then he remembered the gum and and knew that Bagman was breaking the law downtown.













But sure enough, there it was. Next to the market downtown, the telephone pole that had made the local papers several times because vandals had been sticking their gum all over it. The more the authorities pressure washed it the more people came back and stuck gum on it. After awhile the tourists got into the act! It became a sight-seeing attraction! Then the Charleston City Council passed an ordinace making it against the law!

BAGMAN: "Laws against gum?!! In a city that once sold slaves on Chalmers Street? What a farce!!!"

Bagman gave a wild look at Butler and staring straight into his eyes jammed a piece of gum on the cap of a coke bottle.

BAGMAN: "There! That's the texture story of Charleston. Mark will love it."

BUTLER: "I hope Mark sleeps through all of next week and never sees it."