Rain They Say

Three inches of rain, they say,

and an inch of hummingbirds

ruby throats frenzied at the feeder,

bathing in a limestone cup of water

 

Two inches of northern sky

I measure with my thumb and forefinger

a rose-colored sash across the horizon

the plaintive bluesy songs of evening robins

 

Then a quartet of jazzed Carolina wrens

call and responses from the high oak tree

one landing on the porch to torture the cat–

the cat clacking teeth and dripping saliva

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The Blue Marble

On June 23, 1988, James Hansen, director of the Godard Institute for Space Studies, in reply to a congressman who asked him when global warming would arrive, replied that it had already arrived. I don’t remember that hearing. Do you?

Since the hearing, conservatives and liberals alike, kowtowing to Business and fighting nearly all attempts to reign in human greed and behavior, have spent careers denying global warming. Chances are you have heard some Republican at some party explain the feeble analogy of ice in a cup. Fill a cup with ice and water, let the ice melt. The melted water takes no more room than a similar cup of water. Therefore: Melting ice in the arctic regions cannot raise sea levels. Logic! Right Paul Ryan?

Except, glaciers are on land. Earth’s glaciers have lost 279 billion tons of ice, creating 67 trillion gallons of water, from 2002 to 2017. Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica melted 455 billion tons of ice into water. The oceans have risen three inches in 25 years. That is 6,500 cubic miles of extra water, enough to cover the entire United States with water nine feet deep.

Why isn’t this news? It is. The trick is, you have to read the news. New York City and New Jersey are quietly redesigning and raising the height of all seaports. So are the major Navy shipyards. Parts of coastal Florida go underwater at high tide every day. Government entities have been preparing for global warming even as the Trumpuppets says it doesn’t exist. The Army is most concerned; global warming will affect our very security.

What? You haven’t seen the videos of apartment lobbies filling with water, the little old ladies demanding their mayors stop it? Coming soon: Ground Zero underwater for major parts of each year. Half of Florida—gone. Louisiana—gone. South Texas—gone.

America and Europe have warmed 1.89 degrees. Heat is rising faster in the north than in the south. A climate denier has his hand up: Couldn’t this be natural change? No. The sun has been going through a period of weakening. Natural change would mean Earth is slightly cooler right now.

In fact, the early climate change warnings are off by fifty years. Climate disruption is fifty years ahead of 1988 predictions. Earth is hotter, weather stormier, wildfires rage at record pace—twice the rate of thirty years ago. The Arctic Ocean is now navigable: Business rejoices.

Here is the problem I hope you will pose to your beautiful kids. Earth already has three times the amount of people it can support. Factor in the above statistics. In thirty more years, how many people will die from starvation, exposure, thirst, violence, etc. due to a global disaster? If you answered: the entire Third World, so you don’t care, you may be a Republican. You child will get it immediately.

Remember the Dust Bowl? Of course you don’t. John Steinbeck told us all about it. But Dust Bowl 2 will be dustier, hotter, more arid; the Joad family that rides Dust Bowl 2 out will lose everyone.

Oh yeah: no butterflies, bees, coral reefs, peaches, fish, eagles, blueberries, hummingbirds. There will even be a last tree, for people to post selfies next to. Then the tree will be cut down for lumber.

God opened up a chemistry set and unleashed the Big Bang—to see what would happen. A blue marble way off from the center of the universe coughed itself into existence. Then, after a puny four billion years, the blue marble died coughing. There was no vaccine.

No way?

Way.

For: Finn, Veronica, Katie, two Matties, Amanda, Mikey, Declan, Ellie and her sister, Abigail, Davey, Elise, Bekira, Tali, Vanessa, Sophie (who just might change the world), Skylin, Zoe, Luke, Morgan, Charlie, Jason, Stephen, and David. With love.

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WD-40

Orville and I sat on his porch, Ruby Puppy resting comfortably on my feet. There was a slight breeze, a tickle maybe. It is third nesting season around here, another round of male cardinals and finches and robins fighting one another for dominance. At Genehouse, two broods of two finches each already hang out at the feeder and scream at their parents to feed them. A third nest is now in place and eggs laid.

My friend had a heart attack a few weeks ago. He’s fine now, or I wouldn’t be writing bout him. He refuses to stop working, joking that if he doesn’t weed the tomato plants I would curse and throw a fit. He won’t let me do some weeding, of course: There is the Orville way and the highway. His kids and grandchildren have been showing up unannounced, grabbing his riding mower and mowing while Grandpa sulks in the kitchen and watches Fox News.

Ruby Puppy jumped up and ran into the yard and intercepted a vole dumb enough to appear above ground. Ruby learned from mama Reba (now deceased) how to pick up voles, toss them in the air, catch them head first and swallow them whole. There is regular dog breath, and then there is vole-swallowed-whole dog breath, the latter making loved ones in the vicinity fight the urge to hurl.

I stood up, citing work and naptime coming. I had to stand for a moment and stretch and move my hips, legs and shoulders, stiff from my four-mile walk early in the cool morning. I can still climb the bluff hills—three 300 footers a day on average—but afterward I turn stiff as a board.

“I ever tell you about our old neighbor Evelyn?” Orville said. “And this ain’t no story. Evelyn, she was like you, exercisin’ all the time but stiff. She got the bright idea to take a bath. In WD-40. She poured two five-gallon cans of WD-40 into her bathtub and laid in it and rubbed it all over herself. Then she’d drain the stuff—it went into the septic tank—and she’d shower regular.”

“You know this how?” I asked.

“Well, I wasn’t in the bathroom with her,” Orville said. “You know, you lay in ten gallons a WD-40, it ain’t gonna go up over your belly. You squish-like in it, rub it all over yourself. Evelyn, she knocks on our door and tells Bev (Quilt Queen) she found the elixir of life. You could always tell when Evelyn had the treatment—she smelled like a lubed car engine.”

I walked home thinking it had been a long time since I squish-liked in anything. There was the incident of the cans of blue paint in the Monticello Women’s College scene shop where the goddess Donna and I stripped and painted each other. It was the 60s, man.

Come to think of it, I might just take a whole jar of my favorite Palmer’s coconut butter and rub it all over…

Nah.

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Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

Today I met with Kim Jung Un. What a guy! He looks like a fatso Munchkin! He could walk the Yellow Brick Road with Judy Garland! His eyelids were so close together I never saw his eyeballs. I wanted to reach over with my thumb and index finger and open those lids and say, ‘Hey in there!’ But that stupid John Kelly told me do not take hold of anything but the Oriental’s hand.

Remember when I told my followers I could kill somebody and nothing would happen to me? Well Un—or is it Kim—bragged that he had killed over 300 people!

“Poison them, Donald. Poison make them linger and think about you while their insides boil! Shooting—no. Garroting—no. Over too quick! Poison their bananas flambé, watch them puke their guts, void their bowels, writhe in pain—all the while thinking of the Kimster (or Unster or Jungster—whatever)!”

Words to live by. I’d like to poison that gay guy Mike Pen—Anderson Cooper.

Kim—or is it Jung—has a harem. He offered to share with me. He’s got Geisha girls who pee on you, take it up the back door, girls on girls. But that stupid John Kelly won’t let me have a little sampler—much less an adult sampler. ‘What if the American people find out?’ Is he kidding? American men cheered me on when I did it with that randy whore Stormy D.

Boooooooooring!

I told Jung—or is it Un—that North Korea has great sandy beaches. I could see them in the top- secret photos of their nuclear tests, huge sandy beaches that just beg to be developed by Trump. The little bugger’s interpreter kept saying, ‘We’ll see. We’ll see.’ Which means yes. It better mean, yes. Of course, they can’t see anything with those slanted eyes.

I’ve got a secret! Somebody’s here that should not be here! Michael Cohen is hiding in Air Force One with bags and bags of cash. Everybody’s talking about my first Trump-Un—or is it Trump-Kim—handshake lasting so long. That’s because Cohen put a little device in my palm that transferred funds to Kim’s—or is it Jung’s—tiny little device in his palm. Ka-ching!

Why do people hate me? Crooked Hillary and Crooked Penis Bill say they hate me. My sons hate me. My daughter won’t sit on my lap anymore—that’s it, I won’t date her now if she begs me. One bag of Cohen Cash each, and they’d all be tickling my scrotum! It doesn’t matter. I now own half the globe. Full globe by the time I’m out of office.

Not much in the way now. Just ask Lil’ Kim Jung Un! Uny—or is it Jungy—said to me ‘What you think I am?’ I said, well, we already established what you are. The question is: How much?

Night-night, Diary

Love, Donny

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After the Storm

White marbles smash down

petals shed to petals’ dust

and rent red lilies

 

Slight teacup finch nests

swirl above the just-cut grass

their pied eggs unharm’d

 

The storm passes south

its path a stream of tree limbs:

Rush, ripe rite of spring

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The Lucky Bastard Tribe

Racial divide depends on slotting: White is white, black is black, Latin is Latin, Indian is Indian, Asian is Asian. Except, all of that is demonstrably false.

There is one human species. If this disappoints you, a member of the Lucky Bastard Tribe, you’ll literally have to migrate to a different planet. Only Africans live here.

As the writer James Baldwin, addressing the facts, noted, there is no white, but there is a mass of people who “need to be white.” As in, European. And there is no such thing as “European.”

The “Europeans” were an African tribe that migrated from the First Continent and landed by sheer luck in the most advantageous geographical area for farming, metal mining and domestication. Pale skin came to dominate the region as evolution did its work and the need for melanin declined precipitously.

The Lucky Bastard Tribe settled in what is now called Europe. They chilled, paled, played with their resources, used them up and wanted more. Their resources, the ones made of steel, gave them the ability to conquer the world.

The Lucky Bastard Tribe created “history,” a term which means “stories of pale ones who won,” and “civilization,” which was a synonym for Lucky Bastard Tribe.

The writer Saul Bellow, a firmly entrenched “European” not noted for humility, was asked by an interviewer why he thought there was no literature beyond Western Culture. “I’ll be glad to read the book written by the Poet of the Zulus,” Bellow replied.

He was being sarcastic. Zulus were savages—we all knew that. Literature came from cultured people. Bellow died before science could inform him that there was only one human race.

“You are the poet of the Zulus,” wrote the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates to Bellow, in his recently published book “Between the World and Me.”

Saul Bellow, like me, like all pale-complexioned people from the Lucky Bastard Tribe, one of about fifteen original tribes out of Africa, was African: Poet of the Zulus. Culturally, he became Jewish, a sub group of The Lucky Bastard Tribe. The origins of literature, art and learning are African.

I had a doctor appointment in Bethalto on Route 140, next to a Speed Lube oil change place. I dropped off the car for an oil change and met my doctor. Then I went to get the car.

Two charter members of the People Who Need to Be White Club, the Speed Lube owner and a customer, were having a conversation about East St. Louis and “how bad” St. Louis had become.

Customer (paraphrasing): Remember when you had to drive through East St. Louis to get to St. Louis? St. Louis, the whole city—bad with them.

Owner (paraphrasing): Yeah, they’re everywhere.

Customer: The wife and I stopped to get a bite at Burger King in East St. Louis. And this car full of black guys parks next to us. They parked three inches from my car! They were going to rob us. You know what I did? I hit reverse and backed straight back before they could do whatever. And got the hell out of there.

Owner: It’s just getting worse and worse with the blacks. (to me) Oh, you’re ready to go, sir. Let me ring you up.

(I sign the bill.)

Me (paraphrasing): I’m writing a book about the NAACP’s civil rights struggles in Alton. (suddenly you can hear a pin drop.) I think I’ll relate this encounter when I get back home. Would you even serve black people?

Owner (agitato): Hey, I serve anybody. We didn’t use any bad words. I just said “blacks.”

Me: Good afternoon, gentlemen.

(I walk to the parking lot in back. The Customer, maybe 50, chases after me.)

Customer: Hey! Don’t you walk away from me. (I turn and stare at him.) You want to settle this?

(I pull out my cell phone.)

Me: Hit away, go to jail. I don’t care. (and I don’t)

Customer: You’re the one wants to hit.

Me (quote): Fuck you.

Customer (quote): You’re too ugly to fuck.

(The Customer gives me the finger, turns, stomps back into the Speed Lube.)
***
I’m not insulted. I may indeed be too ugly to fuck.

Imagine that carload of black kids pulling up to Burger King. Bad parkers? Probably. Hungry? Oh yeah, want some burgers. The white guy next to them? Is whack—look at him pulling out because of us. Had the kids had larceny on their minds, they’d have driven after him.

This anecdote is a consequence of fear—the very fear we instilled in people of color, and now they might get us—gross ignorance, and of needing to be white. And this is how I will die: some jackass with a gun puts me out of my misery.

And goddamnit, I am ready.

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The Two Rs

A new study has been published showing that raccoons and Trump Republicans (Trumpublicans) are “dumber than warm spit.” The study, published by the Phish Fist Institute, a centrist think tank, reported that raccoons, when placed in voting booths, voted for loonies, head bangers, xylophones, “crunchy things,” slinky toys, and the newly created category “Sara Palin, Special Limited Edition Looney.”

The response to the study was swift. “It’s fake news,” said lawyer and Trump apologist Rudy Giuliani. “The temperature of the spit makes absolutely no difference.”

Raccoons were likely to vote for what they perceived as masked candidates, or candidates whose views were duplicitous by design. Their religious views indicated that voting raccoons tended to see trash cans as God.

The coons’ Trump Republican counterparts voted much the same, showing a marked preference for candidates with dead eyes, who slapped their girl cousins on the behind, had hidden in a barn for forty years “waitin’ for White Jesus” (known as Pencians), or dreamed last night they were in Hillbilly Heaven.

Dr. Marcus Felton, chair of the online university “PhD U.” (Pennsylvania Hot Damn Ululation), led the study. 25,000 Trump Republicans and sixteen raccoons were surveyed. More raccoons had been recruited, but they all fell asleep.
“The new Trumpublicans are depressed, afraid, outraged,” Felton remarked. “Thus, President Eisenhower today is a Libtard. Raccoons are smarter and better problem solvers. Also, to a raccoon a garbage can is a garbage can, no matter what the color of the God/owner.”

Roseanne Barr, when asked to comment, said “The Muslim Brotherhood and ‘Planet of the Apes’ had a baby, Valerie Jarret, who then had a baby, Mike Pence.”

Old Squinty, the head of the National Office Council of End-times Raccoons (NOCERS), said he and his tribe figured out many years ago that they were smarter than Trump Republicans. “They leave trash everywhere,” Old Squinty commented. “They believe littering laws attack their right to be pigs. Heck, every time a holiday comes around, me and my coonster kids eat so damn much leftovers, we gain a pound apiece.”

NOCERS has begun a recycling business called Yes, We CAN! Raccoons encounter so much tonnage of aluminum cans and paper products discarded by Trumpublicans, they decided to market the moldy gold. Fortune 500 is predicting Yes, We CAN will be the hottest stock of the next three years.

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Barack to the Future

The Chicago Park District has etched in stone, the edict that all parks bordering lake Michigan are for the people in perpetuity. No buildings may be erected, no businesses (not counting drink stands) run. Just open space for the benefit of millions. Now the Park district, under the egis of Mayor “Rahmfather” Rahm Emmanuel has announced The Big Lie. The project? The Barak Obama Presidential Library, in Jackson Park, south of Hyde Park.

Barack Obama is behind it. If he weren’t, I wouldn’t be writing about it. Obama and Emmanuel have been pals since they were young men when Rahm was an alderman and “Barry” was a community organizer.

In my days working for Mayor Richard J. Daley and his wife in the Gallery 37 arts project, I and all the other artists of the city frequently met Rahm. He raised the money for Gallery 37 by soliciting funds—by strong arming businessmen. Rahm is a little fellow (he comes up to my bellybutton)—nothing wrong with that. But he has “little fellow complex.” He fights big guys and wins for sport. He and his attack brother Ari, agent to the stars, are bottom feeders out for revenge.

Mind you, the “library” part is no longer in play. The library will be on some other site. Though, Rahm always refers to the Jackson Park project as “the Obama library.” The Chicago Park District, unless a court stops it, is going to violate its own sacred oath. Why? Money. Construction money, road money, improvement money—for the foreseeable future. Screw the people.

I voted twice for Barack Obama. The historical fact of his election was inspiring. He seemed to stand for an ideal but was more functional than great. I am astounded that he and his wife would be a part of this boondoggle. Even if the presidential library idea was intact it would still violate the law. The parks belong to the people. Bullshit.

If the precedent is set, if in-perpetuity-land can be stolen, kiss the Grand Canyon, Arches, Alaska, the White Mountains, etc. goodbye. Kiss the West Virginian Appalachians adios. Farewell, Yosemite, Big Bend, Ozarks, the Tetons. Ta-ta, suckers. Given the penchant of the smart phone generation, it’s good riddance. You can “climb” the Half Dome in Yosemite and not get hurt!

Barack, you can stop this. President Obama, you should stop this. The park land is sacred. If you wield your power for this, your historical legacy is land thief, open lands rapist, not first African American President. If you play Chicago machine politics, you are just another cynical overlord in the same vein as the Daley clan.

In other words, you’re like them. No different that Trump. Brothers in theft, in fact.

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The Snapper

May 22, 2918 “The Snapper”

The American Bottom is sated. After a week of rain, water comes up to the edges along Routes 3 and 111. Water critters from raccoons to lizards and skinks to snakes and turtles were making their perilous journeys across roads. I was driving north from Edwardsville at mid-day, when I came upon a large snapping turtle, its head going in and out of its shell.

So, I pulled over. Car were making no efforts to slow down or stop. I walked along the shoulder to the turtle, now snapping its jaws, in no mood to thank me. The damn thing weighed about ten pounds.

You have to respect a turtle whose name is “Snapping”, not “Snappy.” I got behind it and took hold of the rear shell area. It bowed its head over the opening, mimicking the whack made by an old timey paper cutter. You know the saying: “Turtle can’t get you from behind.”

No, it can’t—if you hold it firmly and account for the four scabrous legs each armed with rapier-like claws, if you don’t tug the body toward you or hold it too far away and the turtle’s weight makes your shoulders weak, if you don’t lose your mind when the dinosaur stiffens legs and neck and head and snaps the machine with balletic grace, if the howl of the creature from the black lagoon doesn’t make you cry for your mama.

And there was the audience factor. Other drivers began to get interested when they saw my three failed attempts to lift The Thing, my imagination providing commentary: Car full of girl students, must not let go, must not whine, must not move my face; oh my god, what would my dad do; OMG, if it bites me, hold up my bloody stump and yell “Freedom!”

Then there was a lull in the traffic. I grabbed Old Ned or Old Nelly or whatever the hell its name was, extended my manly, pale arms and carried the shitting, pissing dragon across the highway! I only tripped once! I tried to lower it gently (yes, I took it where it was headed, don’t be telling me your turtle IQ), but Ned/Nelly hissed and spat and tried to turn upside down, emitting the worst breath I’ve smelled since Scout the cat ate some raw chicken, and my hands started slipping and the monstrous mouth of the monster opened wide and I could see the depths of hell of Chelydidrae serpentina

I dropped him/her on his/her head in the tall prairie grass. It (the snapper not the grass) flipped up and over and took off for the pines of Roxanna. It probably called Turtle 911 to report it had been molested.

The Department of Natural Resources in Springfield called to tell me that the National Rifle Association has put me on their enemies list as a “Pussy Opposed Willfully, Wantonly Etc. to Shooting Turtles LIke a Normal Person Ecstatically Would (POWWESTLINPEW).

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The Intervention

I met Danny at the Irish Eyes Pub on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. Actually, I saw him before I met him. He was standing on top of the bar and reciting Dylan Thomas from memory. My friends George and Mel were egging him on. It was great theatre. He would take requests, from “Hamlet” to “The Man with the Golden Arm” to sections of “Ulysses.”
On Thursdays, “open mic dirty song night” at the bar, Danny would stand on stage and sing his one and only tasteless blues ditty: “I love my baby, though she’s only thirteen years old; she’s only thirteen but she’s got the body of a…twelve-year-old.” And the crowd would go crazy.
 
Danny was an ER doctor. He would line up bar patrons with medical issues and consult with them. I once saw him stitch up a guy’s hand and douse it with rum. Everybody loved him. No one thought for a minute that they were enablers.
He was two distinct people: a brilliant and skillful doctor… a tortured drunk. The drunk was outgoing, a would-be actor. Sober Danny would sit in a chair all day and read, his photographic memory soaking up knowledge. He was the smartest man I ever met. He was the sickest man I ever met.
 
Danny became a “circuit rider,” an ER for hire in small Illinois towns on weekends. He loved the job and the freedom it gave him to read, study Japanese, and (secretly) write. He rued the fact that he couldn’t write—come up with an original idea.
 
One Saturday night, Danny called me from an ER in southern Illinois. He often had stories for me, thinking, I suppose, I was his surrogate. A sheriff had been catting around his county. The sheriff’s mentally unstable wife wrote obsessive letters to her family members, every day. The sheriff had opened his Saturday note, only to learn his wife was in the local cemetery, sitting next to her dead grandmother’s grave. He drove to the cemetery and found her wearing her wedding dress, her head destroyed from a shotgun blast. Her body was brought to the ER, to Doctor Danny.
 
True love evaded him—until he met Helena, a nurse practitioner in, of all places, a remote hospital in Alaska. They worked with natives and read and drank, through courtship and marriage. They moved back to Chicago.
 
One night, Helena found Danny passed out in front of their apartment door. He had lost control of his bladder and bowels. Neighbors were understandably upset. There was a message from a local movie theater for her. Danny had heard a patron say the word “nigger.” Alcohol made him violent. He attacked the patron, a much younger man. He was lucky the kid didn’t kill him.
 
The following week, a bleeding pregnant woman was wheeled in to Danny’s ER. A nurse tried to wake Danny up. She smelled alcohol. Danny staggered into the ER and put his unwashed, ungloved hands between the woman’s legs. Another doctor intervened. Danny was fired.
 
Helena contacted a state agency run by a doctor who had had a leg amputated when, drunk, she had fallen asleep and pinned the leg underneath her. The leg couldn’t be saved. The doctor now devoted her life to expediting interventions with impaired physicians.
 
Danny got a letter from the state requesting a meeting. He didn’t know his friends and his brother from San Francisco had all gathered at the meeting place. We were instructed to write letters to Danny which we would read at the intervention. I remember being scared that I had somehow betrayed my friend.
 
Danny arrived for what he thought was an inquiry. He opened the door to the room where we had gathered, glanced in, spotted his brother…and began to laugh. Helena stood and tried to embrace him. He pulled away and turned toward the door. Police blocked his way. He had two choices: sit through the intervention and be hospitalized or be arrested and charged with reckless endangerment.
 
He sat and smoked and listened. He shook his head, glared at Helena, smiled at his brother. When told by his wife about him having lost control of his body functions, he spoke his one and only retort: “that didn’t happen.” The interventionist told him bluntly to shut up.
 
Several hours later, Danny was a patient in recovery in a hospital. Specialists would determine when he was fit to be released. This would be a huge blow to Danny’s ego, to have to accede to his peers.
 
Over several months, Danny served Helena with divorce papers. He wrote to the folks who had confronted him and informed them they were no longer his friends. We were told this was not uncommon—ridding oneself of one’s past.
He lost his medical license. He took up watercolor painting and absorbed himself in Japanese culture. Helena met and married a wonderful man and had babies. I never saw Danny again.
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