Ants, No Uncles

This summer, for the very first time, some beast has been stealing the nectar from my hummingbird feeder. It began with the feeder on the ground in the morning, the yellow cage thingies plucked and strewn about. Each successive night, the beast managed to drain the feeder without throwing it to the ground. It was evolution on the hoof.

I woke up one night, sleepless in Genehouse, and looked out a back window. And saw what I first thought was a mini triceratops, high hunched back and long tail, running crazily around the yard. It was a racoon the size of a Volkswagen Golf. And I swore that I would destroy Beastie Boy and make me a racoon coat.

I started taking the feeder down at night and putting it in the kitchen sink. With one hand, mind you. The only problem was, black ants would spill out of the yellow thingies. I killed ten or more ants nightly, between right index finger and thumb, making sure the poor critters were totally dead, no torture.

Last night, I brought in the hummingbird feeder and rinsed its surface in the sink, and began the insect massacre. I had the thought that I should eat the ants, full of protein and crunchy.

I turned on Colbert. The monologue was a howl. Then, I started howling. Inside my cast, a burning sensation erupted. Something was crawling in there. A few minutes later, a black ant staggered out the hand hole of the cast. Maybe the flesh cheese of my four-week unwashed arm had poisoned it.

More ants emerged, this time from the armhole, and started climbing Mount Eugene (you would call it a shoulder). I plucked them, crushed them, beheaded them, and Scout the Cat began eating the remains. My left arm felt like it had been lit by Girl Scouts building a fire.

At three a.m., I awoke…and felt a crawling sensation inside my cast. Someone—some…thing—laughed. It was the Lone Formicidae, I thought, the Hannibal Lecter of Vespoidia. It was taunting me by singing Barry Manilow songs. Oh, the horror.

By the pricking of my surgically repaired thumb, something wicked this way come—came. Then, came a knocking on the Genehouse front door, and a tinny, tiny voice said “Kemosabe?” It was Tonto Formicidae, sidekick of the Lone Formicidae.

Tonto had led an army of ants underneath my door. Then, I heard a banging in the kitchen. Then, a gay ant male chorus intoned: “Nevermore.” All went silent. I hovered under the blanket and wept, as Jesus wept, you know, the shortest line in the Bible.

This morning, my hummingbird feeder was pulverized on the kitchen floor, as though someone—some…thing—had smashed it with a thousand tiny ant feet. I am all about irony; I got the message.

At early afternoon, I went down for a nap. Scout the Cat snarled and fled. And I took a deep breath, and I knew what it was. My cast was filled with ant shit. And I wept, as Doris Day wept, you know, in “Send Me No Flowers.”

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The Aeneid and I

I like to sit in my bathroom and read. The west light window is a lure, plus the cool tile floor feels good on bare feet. Yesterday, I was reading Vergil’s “Aeneid” in the original Latin. You know, the part where Venulus says, “We have seen, O citizens, the Argive camp, and Diomed himself” blah-blah-blah.

When I heard a slight noise, like a shuffling, and I leaned forward and peered into the kitchen, and there was Farmer Orville, tiptoeing his way toward the basement, to clean the cat litter box (remember, I’m currently one-handed due to surgery, and can’t lift things).

I exclaimed, “Orville, I’m on the toilet.”

“I ain’t looking,” Orville replied. “You want the cat box cleaned, or not?”

“Orville, you have to knock when you come over.”

“Why? I got a key.”

“What if I had a woman over?”

Orville began heaving with laughter, steadying himself by holding the kitchen counter with both hands. “You are too old for that.”

Down went my friend into the bowels of the basement. I stood and struggled to pull my pants up. And back up the stairs he came, his good deed for a cat he has never seen much appreciated, his using my spare door key without knocking unsettling me, his observation about me and women really pissing me off.

Quilt Queen, Orville’s wife, once said to her spouse—the three of us were drinking coffee on their porch— “I have a need, dear.” She looked at me, at my eye-pop reaction, and said, “When we were newlyweds, if I told that old man I had a need, we about tore the house down. Now, ‘I have a need’ means?”

“Go get her a Dairy Queen blizzard,” Orville said.

This is a couple who, promptly at 6:30 pm, look at each other and say, “Break up time.” Then, Quilt Queen goes into the living room, lies on the couch and watches the big TV. Orville stays in his rocking chair in the kitchen and turns on the small TV and channel surfs and reads seed catalogues.

“You need anything else?” Orville says. “I can do most anything except get you a woman.”

“Please knock,” I said.

“Now you see why I ain’t got any friends.”

My friend descended the drive and walked alongside the highway back toward the farm. And every, I mean every car that passed him, honked and waved at this famous man.

Not unlike, I imagined, Aeneas strutting before the Romans and spouting epic poetry: “I grow tomatoes, I don’t like tomatoes, but women like them, and women visit the farm and buy them tomatoes, all dressed summer skimpy-like, and that is a good thing.”

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Ed

July 2 is Alive Day for Sergeant Ed Matayka, who was blown up while serving as a medic, in Afghanistan, in 2010. His wife Karen, also a medic, served in the same Vermont National Guard unit, the 186th Support Battalion, and was nearby. Doctors told her that Ed would not live.

I was one of Eddie’s teachers. He was a little tow-headed boy when I knew him. Fidgety. A decent kid. Only recently did I learn his story.

Somewhere in the mid-1980s, I got a job as a music teacher at Immaculate Heart of Mary School, north side of Chicago. The principal, Sister Miriam Rose, asked me, if she hired me, what would I do? Without a plan, I blurted out that I would teach the kids to write songs, and the best ones (judged by musician friends of mine) would be recorded in albums, with kids singing. My friend Dennis Gordon had a recording studio, and I hoped I could talk him into the project.

I was hired teaching grades 3-8. And we recorded two albums. Dennis’ band and I recorded instrument tracks at night, smoking grass and drinking beer. By day, I was Mr. B., teacher, on the straight and narrow and attending mass with the students.

Eddie Matayka and his older sister Caryn were part of that project. Their parents, particularly mother Mary, were huge supporters of mine. Indeed, I was adopted into the family. They had me over for dinner regularly, I spent holidays with them. When Grandpa died, I was given his nicotine-stained recliner. There was another child, Katie, born with severe physical handicaps. She died in infancy. I wrote a poem for Katie’s funeral.

My music job only lasted two years, just as I was about to win a playwriting competition and have a production at the Body Politic Theatre. I drifted on, to a 40-year career as a playwright-in-residence for the Illinois Arts Council. The Matayka family moved to near Fox Lake.

At I a.m. on July 2, 2010, out of Bagram Air Force Base, Ed Matayka was in the back seat of an armored vehicle which drove over an IED, a kind of remote controlled bomb. The driver was killed in the explosion. Ed’s feet were blown off. He came to and calmly started saving his own life, telling fellow soldiers how to put tourniquets on his legs. He measured his breaths, knowing he could go into shock at any moment.

Ed was airlifted to Germany on July 4 then to Walter Reed Hospital stateside. He was semi-conscience for six weeks. Both of his legs were amputated. Among many other wounds, he suffered a stroke.

After a brain bleed, Karen was told her husband wouldn’t make it. She insisted to doctors that her husband knew what was going on around him; he was squeezing her hand. A doctor tried an experiment, telling Ed that his wife was a liar. The medical team was going to take Ed off support—if he didn’t give them a sign.

Ed gave them the finger.

Ed and Karen became the first ever military family to receive in vitro fertilization. Today, Ed is a father of twins, Ryan and Alana. He and Karen moved to Texas. Gary Sinise helped publicize Ed’s plight. A special home was built that allows Ed to move around freely with as much physical activity as possible.

Facts.

The courage that Ed Matayka showed is off the charts. That he helped save his own life reveals a deep hunger for living. His drive demonstrates remarkable intelligence and clarity of thinking.

The courage of Mother Mary, who has absorbed so much fear and pain in her life. She texted me recently, telling me how much I gave to the Matayka family. I am nothing compared to this sister of my soul.

We never know what burdens we can bear—until we must bear it, what pain we can take and still go on, what courage we have within us until courage is the only option. I suspect that Eddie agrees.

And so, happy Alive Day, Sergeant Matayka. It is entirely inadequate for me to say that I love you. What words could ever match your bravery.

May there be no more wars for our kids to fight.

This is my meditation, my prayer.

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The Jeff Sessions

Mah daddy, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions Jr., raised me to respect the history of the glorious Confederacy. We were both named for that hero of the South, President Jefferson Davis and P. T. G. Beauregard, the “hero of Fort Sumpter.” That’s raht, mah people started the Civil War. Some patriots are lobbyin’ for me to start the Second Civil War. Will y’all film that, Ken Burns?

It is to honor our brave Confederate soldier boys that Ah am protectin’ the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Whah, the very idea that noble and pure and wholesome Southern women should be forced to live amongst sodomizers is a travesty. Good whaht men venerate their wives’ ‘back doors.’ Horny boys only sodomize sheep in Alabama, to relieve them of unnatural sexual urges.

Ah am appalled at bein’ besmirched and persecuted bah people like that uppity-sassy-saucy-zippety-doo-da niggra Senator Kamala Harris and her disrespectful questions in yesterday’s hearing. Wasn’t so long ago that a colored lady maht be visited by the KKK for insultin’ a Son of the South.

And that “Indian” Elizabeth Warren. She was rebuked for impunin’ a senator’s character. She ought to have been thrown into a smokehouse and cured, lahk Southern gentleman did to uppity slaves.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (see, the darkies can say “colored,” but Ah can’t) and the American Civil Liberties Union are Communist inspahred. Their agenda is to force liberal propaganda down our throats. Ah for one don’t swallah.

Those Democrats have been researchin’ and takin’ mah comments out of contest. Yes, I once remarked that the KKK was okay – until they started smokin’ pot. That was a joke. Can’t nobody take a joke? Wha, that Jew Stephen Colbert, if he made that joke, folks would be laughin’ and peein’ themselves. That sonofabitch said I was “the last Little Rascal.” Me, a Methodist Sunday School teacher!

Senator Ted Kennedy once called me a “disgrace” and “a throw-back to a shameful era.” Wha? Because I sued the so-called Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance – that is wha. Well, Senator Dead Kennedy, at least I didn’t drown Mary Jo McCallister off the Tallahassee Bridge.

For the record: Ah did not have communications with them Russian fellows, sexual or otherwahse. Sergei Kislyak can kiss mah whaht butt. As for that photo which purports to show me jawin’ with Sergei a third tahm, that is photoshopped, plain to see.

Them 60% people want me to resahgn? Ah don’t work for y’all libtards. Ah work for the minority of whaht people because they are an endangered species. Libtards crah their eyes out for bald eagles and butterflahs, but not for whaht people.

Before y’all judge me, look at mah ratings. Pro-environment groups gave me a 7%. Zero rating from the Lesbo Human Rahts Campaign. Senator Joe Al Franken: F. Big Business: A. Coal industry: A. Ted Nugent: A.

Ah rest mah case.

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Orville and Eugene at the Wake

Sunday afternoon, Farmer Orville and I drove to the two-block-long town of Fieldon for our friend Mike West’s wake, at the local Baptist church. I’m uneasy in churches. The more fundamentalist they are, the queasier I get. Orville is a Missouri Synod Lutheran, a sect not known for laughter.

We told Mike stories the whole way. Our friend was known for off-color jokes. If you were around him for the day, you might hear the same joke three or four times. He fudged a little on where his produce came from, especially early in the season.

An old lady might ask, Are these tomatoes homegrown? Are them peaches Calhoun? (Calhoun refers to softball-size peaches from Calhoun County that make Georgia peaches taste like paste.) By mid-July, all the produce would be homegrown anyway.

Sunday was hot and sunny, and thousands of orange tiger lilies lined the highway. We passed by the Do Drop Inn, the parking lot of which was full of afternoon the cars of beer drinkers waiting for the all you can eat pork chop supper. Orville told me all about his and Quilt Queen’s burial plots, like he couldn’t wait to get there. I said if he died first, it would take an hour just to read all the pieces I had written about him. He nodded; he expected no less.

Fieldon has one bar and three churches, two Baptist and a Catholic church in need of paint, a new roof, and sidewalk repair. The good Catholic folk of Fieldon seemed to have given up on a papal visit. “I’m glad Mike wasn’t a Catholic,” Orville said. I didn’t ask.

I have never heard anyone say they were looking forward to the wake. This one was no exception. Mike’s casket was at the front of the sanctuary. His wife Cathy was hugging folks, and family members were shaking hands, and people sitting in the pews shook their heads.

Not once have I seen Orville hug anyone. I imagined he was plotting how to avoid Cathy’s embrace. But he opened his arms wide and almost disappeared into Cathy, who is nearly my height. She and I hugged and kissed and said we’d get together for lunch.

Mike’s adult kids were there. His one daughter and her husband are organic dairy farmers in upstate New York. I told her how proud Mike was of her and she burst into tears. Her dad had never told her that, as it is, sadly, and always shall be with a lot of dads.

As we drove back, I told Orville that now I had seen him hug someone, we could add that intimate act to our visits, and he said he only hugged girls. We stopped at the Jerseyville Dairy Queen for Chocolate Extreme Blizzards. Orville said he was buying, so I told our lovely server in that case I also wanted a bag of ten hamburgers to take home, and my friend did his standing dance, and the girl behind the counter laughed, and “we all had a real good time.”

And Orville and I imagined that Mike, free of cancer, was having a good time, too. I watched my farmer buddy as we sat together, and I memorized him, for the time when memory would be my only solace, and then he spilled Chocolate Extreme Blizzard on his shirt and khaki pants, and I offered to wipe the mess for him, and he said he’d shoot me if I tried.

When he got out of my car, Orville said, “Don’t tell the wife.” He meant the Chocolate Extreme Blizzards, but the damn spots would tell the tale, as Macbeth could have told him.

Here’s to you, Mike. And Cathy, bless you. And Orville, I love you. I could use a blessing too, but heathen existentialists learn to have low expectations.

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Light on the Water

A peach rose up over the town, a perfect pink peach on the horizon, and strands and ribbons of music undulated over the water. Big Brock just sang “Gypsy Woman” so soulful, and his voice blew the tree tops, his mighty voice from heaven.

And the peach rose higher, its light on the water, on the water. And swarms of golden insects filled the headlights, and frogs sang Big Brock echoes. I parked on the river bank and the golden insects dry rubbed my face, filled my nose and ears. This was the last rustling, spring rain. All sound was music, all owlets and fox kits and coyote pups and bobcat kittens all singing.

An anchored barge floated at the shore, its spotlight aimed and lighting the peach, the glowing peach on the water, and even a barge captain prayed and praised and sang “Gypsy Woman.” The peach floated ever higher, brighter light on the water, the water.

And now the peach burst and became the holy woman Luna, more pregnant with every second, rising, and I whispered, Luna, and songbirds on nests whispered Luna, and the orb filled the bluff shadows with eerie light. Big Brock sang Songs of Prose from his holy throat and the holy Oblate Fathers intoned, Amen.

On the road up the bluff, a doe named Gypsy Woman stepped onto the pavement and I stopped and stood in the street and flagged down all the cars, and no one complained. And Gypsy Woman crossed and melded into the forest.

The Big Brock Band sang me up the ridgeline and on to home: lonely blues traveler from the Miles Davis Festival. The corn rows were lit by fireflies, and contrails pink, and the treetop torches, and the light danced.

Who wants to go home when music is blood and blood surges and hearts pound as one when pretty, lithesome women dance and rustle skirts when men in finery strut when old people remember love when Luna touches herself on the water, on the water.

At the door, moths swarmed me. At the door, meowing from inside. At the door, regret. At the door, I thought of Caroline who gasped and orgasmed at a finger touch. At the door, I recited Psalm 100. At the door, barge motors throbbed. At the door, I thought of light on the water, on the water.

I walked in. I held the cat.

Her name was Gypsy Woman.

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Compliments

Farmer Orville was mowing his vast lawn when I visited this morning. He turned off the machine and waved me toward the porch, where we sat in the shade and talked. The farm dogs, Ruby Puppy, Bud and Reba, reeking of stuff they had rolled in, in the north field, lay at our feet.

I told my friend about the finches in my yard being so tame, they land on my shoulders and sing, and I imitate them. Yet another finch nest has been built over my car in the carport roof, and soon baby finch poop will rain down.

“You know why they built there?” Orville said. “They are aiming for your bald head.” He slapped a knee and did his little sit-dance.

The half-acre of blackberry bushes was already pregnant with berries red and plumping up. In a couple of weeks, those sapid jewels will be ready for sucking and tongue smashing. Ninety tomato plants were rising up in wire cages and getting ready to flower. Cucumbers and squash were planted, and so was kale.

The barn cat strutted across the yard with a dead baby bluebird in its mouth. Orville shouted, “Hey, you, cat!” The cat dropped the bird and ran for the barn. Reba loped to the body, tossed it in the air, and swallowed it whole.

“I hate to admit it,” Orville said, “but you are a good writer. We liked that article on them Tuskegee Airmen.” By we, he means his wife Quilt Queen, who has decided that cookies aren’t just for winter anymore. She is baking for the Memorial Day weekend.

Quilt Queen teases me relentlessly about being a bachelor. She believes men need marrying. She decided Orville needed marrying just after he came home, from the Korean War. He had prospects in the heating and cooling industry. (We’ve driven together on I-270, as he points to building roofs where he installed the air conditioning. His favorite story is about fixing a furnace problem for a stark-naked woman who followed him around her house.)

Orville chewed on a toothpick and looked at me. “Don’t let my compliment go to your head.”

Midwesterners don’t approve of compliments. Compliments are unseemly, the recipient in danger of taking himself seriously and wanting more. My father was the anti-compliment giver. He preferred witticisms like, “You, worthless piece of shit.” This was intended to toughen me for life’s journey, and it worked. I hear that sentence every day of my life.

Orville is a humanist in Lutheran’s clothing. And he is my stand-in father. He knows it; I know it. Though, if I were his literal son, I would have been born when he was eleven.

Today, I walked home with a bloody arm scratch from Ruby Puppy, who believes that I should carry her fifty pounds of squirm, and a compliment firmly in my memory, from my stand-in father, confessor, story teller, tomato hater-tomato grower, and damn good friend.

There is no moral to the story. You might be tempted to call a friend and compliment him or her. It won’t compromise your inner “Babbitt” or convert you to godless Communism. Think of it, on Memorial Day, as putting a dab of spicy, liberal mustard on your conservative picnic sandwich, next to the deviled eggs and Beverly the Quilt Queen’s potato salad:

“Wow, Bev, you outdid yourself this time.” And Quilt Queen, awash in compliment, waves a dismissive hand, all the while aglow.

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Talking Texting

The legendary Chicago newspaper columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner, Mike Royko, once received a letter from a tourist who had been visiting from California. The man and his girlfriend had taken in a movie. By his own admission, they talked through the presentation. Then some real Chicagoans sitting behind the avocado suckers told them to shut up.

California Dreamer’s letter claimed that Chicagoans were rude and uncouth, and that a man seated behind them had slapped him on the head. Rest assured, the West Coast couple were never coming back. What did Mr. Royko think? And was the ruffian incident worthy of a column, about city manners?

Indeed, Royko reprinted the letter and then gave a response. In essence: You’re lucky I wasn’t there. I would have assisted the ruffians and dragged you and your Valley Girl out of the theatre and pummeled you and doused you with California wine and forced you to drink Old Style Beer.

Which brings us to Mr. Brandon Vezmar of Austin, Texas, who is suing his blind date for $17.31, over their attending a 3-D showing of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Mr. Vezmar, who paid for the tickets, said that his date (an online blind date) pulled out her smart phone and began repeatedly texting.

He asked her to stop the texting, citing rudeness, and when she refused he suggested she go to the lobby. Not only did the woman go to the lobby, she walked through the lobby, out the door, and off she drove. By the way, she was Mr. Vezmer’s ride.

What would Mike Royko say?

I donned a tin hat and robes last night and burned some incense, and I was able to channel Royko’s therapist, Dr. I. M. Kookie, who graciously called Royko in heaven and told him about the blind date incident. First, he had to explain to Royko what a smart phone was.

“Suing isn’t nearly enough,” Royko told Dr. Kookie. “Brandon should have grabbed her smart phone and mashed it into the sticky-candied floor then handed it to the people sitting behind him, who would stomp it until the phone was on life support. Then hand the phone off to a conceal carry guy who would toss it into the air and shoot it. Then all the other conceal carry people – it is Texas after all – would pull .357 Magnum’s and Glock’s and .45’s from purses and underwear and shoes and socks and vaginas and fire at the smart phone. Then pick up the remains and drop them in the blind date’s popcorn.”

Dr. I. M. Kookie agreed. He was, after all, the founder of the Asylumism religion which theorized that Earth’s people were the insane rejects of other worlds.

As for our hero, Brandon Vezmer, I salute him. He showed admirable restraint. He believes that it is about ethics, the poor slob. He won’t give up until he gets back his $17.31. I salute him and all the other men and women who have had blind dates from hell, only to find that the dates looked nothing like their photos, were gaseous, had venereal disease or some such other general nuttiness.

I was Brandon Vezmer once. I went on a blind date with a woman who ordered $40 worth of food at an Indian restaurant – I was paying – then boxed up most of the food to take home. I didn’t sue her. I married her.

That showed her.

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Snakes on a Plane

Breaking News. The White has announced that the plane carrying Donald Trump to a Mideastern summit is a fake presidential plane. The fake plane will land in Moscow by this evening and drop Trump and wife Melania off, with no return flight scheduled.

When handed a note during his press briefing, Sean Spicer glanced at the paper and began shouting, “Yes!” Spicer composed himself and announced that the Trumps will be moved to a luxury one bedroom gulag in Siberia.

Strangely, Vice President Mike Pence cannot be found on White House grounds. Neither can Paul Ryan and every other person on the succession list all the way to Jeff Sessions, who will be sworn in early this evening. The swearing-in podium is being altered to accommodate the elfin one known affectionately as Jeffy the KKK.

When told of the fake plane, first daughter Ivanka is reported to have said, “I already know.”

White House staff cornered Kellyanne Conway in a hall closet and took her to the basement. She was thrown into a room with Steve Bannon, who was sitting on the floor and eating children in a corner. Bannon quoted W.C Fields’ famous line, “I love children, so long as they are properly cooked.”

We have just received word that Senator Lindsey Graham and Vice President Pence have been found clad only in Spanx at a Russian baths in Georgetown, surrounded by naked men getting spanked, and speaking into fake “microphones.”

Sources have told this correspondent that Reverend Franklin Graham, spawn of Billy, not Lindsey, is holding a prayer vigil at the Mall with his flock. It is reported that the sheep are “Quite nervous.” Graham has promised that God is expected momentarily.

When asked for a comment on former president Trump, Senator John McCain called breaking events, “Suspicious.”

The Washington Zoo has just refused to grant sanctuary to a very old turtle named McConnell. A PETA protest is post-positing pizzas to pernicious pols.

The Democratic Party, all six of them, are gathered at a Chipotle and binging on big burritos. They have come to an agreement on a new slogan for the country: “Make America Grate Their Teeth Again.”

Hillary Clinton has been standing on a soap box in Dumbarton Oaks Park and spouting like a whale, about how SHE is the actual 46th President of the United States. The electoral college was rounded up and forced to listen. Afterwards, they voted for Donald Trump.

This just in from Russia: A Russian MIG has intercepted the fake plane ferrying Donald Trump and fired Ted Cruz missiles, which bounced off the fake plane and blew up the MIG. Vladimir Putin has been unceremoniously shoved into a car and whisked away to a dacha. Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak has taken control of the government and named Donald Trump as the Russian Ambassador to the United States. Trump is expected to be in the US by tomorrow.

“It’s only a day away.”

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The Landlord

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Finch,

Congratulations on your two children learning to fly. As agreed, I provided free food for them to keep you from the welfare rolls. There is just one problem. You left a dirty nest in your condo loft, with poop hanging off it like smashed marshmallows. Additionally, my black car is doused with finch poop. Please note: If you don’t clean up the mess, there will be no nest lease next year. (Say “no nest lease next” five times fast.)

As for your sister and brother-in-law, Mrs. Finch, who have taken occupancy in yet another rental property above my car, and are building a nest, please advise them to keep the neighborhood clean. Also, though the young lovers perch on my shoulders and chirp at me like I was a grandpa, I will not finch sit. I am immune to cute.

Dear Mr. Red-tail Skink,

I have your lease ready to sign, for the small hole in my Kentucky coffee tree where you presently reside on a week-to-week basis. As agreed, I have lowered your rent in return for you acting as my pest control agent. I must advise you, sunning yourself on the hole’s rim is risky. A red-tail hawk frequently lands in that tree. The landlord does not assume responsibility if you choose to act like a reckless teenager. Speaking of which, this yard is a smoke free environment. Please smoke in the field across the highway.

Dear Carolina Wren Kid,

You rich punk rock wretch. You must stop singing loudly and bothering your neighbors immediately. We are not amused by your leaving wren porn pictures hanging from your nest. The Robins overheard you boasting that you have slept with over 1,000 wren-girls. Shame on you. This yard is not a brothel. Please advise those rouge-cheeked harlots of yours that they may not stand in the driveway and ask if anyone wants a “date.”

Dear Ms. Mockingbird,

The whole neighborhood knows that you are a music major at Southern Illinois University Aviary (SIUA). How could we not know? That you sing all the voice parts rather frenziedly, reveals you to be that diva we’d all like to kill. We have received complaints from the following unions: Crows, whippoorwills, starlings, red-winged blackbirds and white-capped sparrows.

You may like “La Traviata” at 4 am in the morning; the rest of us do not. Madam, take your “Violeta Valery” elsewhere, or I will call the authorities. The reviews are in. “Ms. Mockingbird lacks depth and vocal range.” Bird World “Her cadenzas scared my pussy.” Cat Fancy Magazine “The opera was over the minute that fat mockingbird sang.” Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

So, mock-mock-mock on heaven’s door somewhere else, or else!

Dear Fuzzy Cute Widdow Bunny Wabbit,

Get the fuck off my property.

Sincerely,

Your Landlord

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