Uncle Lester wasn’t really John Dillinger
and the deputy who threw him out of the barber chair
onto the hair-strewn floor knew that too
or was pretty sure
but there was that one little hairline fracture of a doubt
and through it was glowing all the gold of Hollywood.
I finished the novel and I’m shopping for an agent. It’s “alternate history” a subgenre of science fiction. My mind is pretty blank of poems. I haven’t felt this way in a long time. A quantum leap into non-existence between obsessions. I promise poetry eventually. In the meantime, you can find me online at Poetry Circle.
Something on one of the kiosks
upset a Regent. The Provost told
the Dean, and the Dean told Ramona
his Administrative Assistant,
and Ramona told Jacquie the Work Study
to remove all offensive materials
from bulletin boards, walls, trees
and light poles on campus.
Jacquie was too scared of Ramona
(Who wouldn’t be?)
to ask what offensive meant.
She thought the Dean was pretty offensive,
the way he talked golf all the time,
but since he never got his picture
on any posters, she couldn’t take him down,
and nothing else bothered her —
not with the family she came from —
so she really didn’t do anything
till Ramona handed her
a copy of the University Speech Code
written by a bunch of PhDs,
and which Jacquie,
with only a high school diploma (Secretarial Track)
couldn’t decipher any more
than the blackboard after a Calculus class.
Look, said Ramona, I don’t understand it either.
Just get rid of anything
that might bother a rich Republican woman
So Jacquie tore down
any piece of paper with
a cute girl on it, figuring
they’d make an old lady jealous,
and she tore down anything
that made fun of President Bush
(Wasn’t he a Republican?)
and she tore down all
lesbi-gay stuff, anything
pagan or Catholic, Native American,
African American or Hispanic,
ads to sell musical instruments
(Old ladies like that
would probably hate garage bands)
and requests for rides
(Get your own car! she’d probably say).
So Jacquie was standing in Bluersch Hall,
trying to decide whether
a Green Party ice cream social
would bother the Regent when
a bunch of students surrounded her
and started yelling, which made her cry.
Then a bunch of suit people
marched into the Dean’s office,
and Ramona sat biting her thumb
while Jacquie tried to figure out
what she’d do for a job.
Finally they all went away
and Jacquie was transferred to Physical Education,
which was fine with her,
‘cause she could swim on her breaks.
Probably other stuff happened about the posters,
but over in PE they didn’t
talk about it, and Jacquie soon forgot–
except to remind herself never
to work that close to the bigshots again.
I wonder why. I wonder why.
I wonder why I wonder.
I wonder why I wonder why
I wonder why I wonder.
—-Nobel Prize Physicist Rickard Feynman, written when he was a boy
Wonder comes in two flavors. It’s a verb and a noun.
As a verb, it signifies curiosity and interest. I wonder why. That kind of wonder is clearly an asset to the species. The first little girl playing with weeds was on her way to making the first basket. The first hunter who tossed some meat to a wolf was on his way to making the first man’s best friend.
It can be dangerous. “Curiosity killed the cat,” the old proverb goes. Then there’s the joke about the teacher who blew up in the Space Shuttle Challenger; her last words: “What happens if I push this but–” “Go ahead! Try this!” says a kid handing another kid a glass of brightly colored dish detergent. In fact, the danger of wondering too much is one of the main ideas behind the horror story.
What’s your level of curiosity? I think it depends largely on how you were treated as a kid. If you jumped off the garage in a superman cape and then spent the summer being ridiculed while you hobbled around in your cast, you probably are not a research scientist today. If, however, you landed on a friendly bush, or of you broke that leg but got admiring glances from friends and indulgent chuckles from your parents, you might well be working away in a lab somewhere.
It’s gotten easier and easier to indulge this kind of wonder. All you gotta do is go online.
As a noun, it signifies a state of being “blown away” by something. The poet William Blake seeing a world in a grain of sand. The monk in the Buddhist story getting enlightened when Buddha twirls a flower. OM! This sense of wonder is seen as a trait of great minds — but also, if you haven’t yet proven to the world that you have a great mind, it makes you into a gullible, simple-minded slacker who has probably smoked too much ganja.
We might celebrate the notion of just lying in the grass and watching the clouds go by, blown away by their ever-changing and unpredictable shapes. We might even have a pencil and a pad by us, trying to work out the math. But really, how many days will we be able to do this before somebody calls the authorities?
Don’t ask, don’t tell: one of the pillars of society.
But yet. . . . .
No-one knows the final word!
— Zen death poem
Dad and I were talking about the sudden blizzard that came up Thanksgiving about 50 years ago and completely blinded us hunters there on the ridge so we didn’t know which way to go down. One way led to my cousin’s farmhouse and the other way led to confusion and probably freezing to death since there was nothing that way for miles.
The snow was so intense that when we finally decided which way to go, we actually slid down a twenty-foot cliff on the drifts.
“I had us follow the power lines down. Didja think the Old Man didn’t know what he was doing?” Dad asked. He’s 89 now.
“No, I trusted you completely,” I said.
“More than I did,” he replied sheepishly.
And I realized that the power lines went down both sides of that ridge.
is a good place to go to surf blogs. They’re a good place to register with, too. They keep your blog on the roll for a long time. I got a couple of hits every now and then without having to re-register every time I put up a new post. Also, they’re free.
If you want a good bunch of hits, register your blog with
but you won’t stay on their roll very long. Also, they want you to pay for a good spot on their roll, which would be okay, but I asked them about how to stop the autopay once it gets started, and they never wrote back. I got a thousand hits from them in one day, and I’d like to try them out for a month or so, but I don’t want to get stuck paying month after month with no clear way to cancel.
If you know of any other blog surfers, I’d like to hear.
When I registered Out of my Ears with Alpha Inventions. my traffic shot up about a hundred times what it was. Though it has since tapered off, I’m still doing pretty well with them.
Another blog surfer that has helped my traffic is Condron Enterprises. It’s not as active as alpha, but the blog pages stay up longer, so readers get a better chance to get what they’re about.