Sad Robot


Robot telephones me today so
I ask if she has a glass eye
And she says yes
Now it’s conversation

I say I have a glass eye too
Mine is brown
What color is yours
Robot doesn’t answer; she can’t

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Protected: How Filthy the Human Mouth

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Sleepy Time for Jimmy

sleeper half

Always find a way in. A way out. No doubt.

Kids played that slider door open and shut, open and shut cases, and killed that patio door, mortice plate murder, slammed it jammed it, all the better. Won’t latch now, so I’m in but never trip trap alarms. Not me, not Mr. Jimmy.

No larceny in play today nor never ever never more. Trespass is the game’s name. I only need day sleeping. Daylight somno, dodo, and snooze. I’m shut down for shut eye, burned and buried inside out. Nothing for anyone. Blinded, found out.

But once you’ve tried it, nothing like it. Be known the risk and dreamy reward. Rest for the soul, sole fashion to rest. Forget the rest. Now comfy is as comfy does, but when sleeping strange, please accept a wide range of cradle, crib, cave.

Listing, listing optionated choices: hammock, futon, sofa, davenport, air mattress, single, double, queen, king, California, KING OF CALFIFORNIA! Bed berth cot, any and all. Anything long enough to stretch. Take the floor in a pinch. Beggars can’t be snoozers!

Today I’m fallen, falling to rest, now can’t be caught or bought, but let’s go back. Let’s go on back. Go way way way back. Antecedents. Good golly miss Molly, my gal Goldie, got it all goin’ on, golding on; crazy for that Goldie Girl of mine, Just right. Just right and bearly right.

Daytime’s the play time, so I work the night. Night man, Hi Ho Motel, hotel, hidee hidee ho no tell. Girls, girls, girls. Girls call me Sleepy, Sleepy, Sleepy James Jimmy. Poor spiked up, pricked up, rouged up junkie gals. Off they nod away from wherever or to wherever they are headed. All hail King Morpheus, the working girl’s friend.

Can’t stand where you are? You sure? They’re sure. I’m sure. But Jimmy don’t judge Trick, trick, Trixies’ habits and they don’t judge his. They know I ride the train out way out to the deep down burbity burbs.

Nobody to home out there close to the strip malls and get malls, cops busy at school crossings, open windows and doors. Little Jim Jimmy nappy time ready, up all night Freddy. But safety first. And so I sleep, deep sleep the burb.

Jimmy use his own sleeping sack and baby sleep mourn morning to afternoon time. Then I’m up. Carry me my toothbrush and have me a hot shower. Jimmy’s a clean machine. Always take a change of clothes. Then drink their joe, java joe jimmy, with milk and Count Chocula or The Captain. Mmmmm mmmmm.

A scout leaves the campsite better than he found it, picks up around it, scouting about it. I clean it all up and put it all back. I take out the garbage, even the wet stuff, but usually lick lick lickety split one piece of cutlery, handle to tine, one long slippity slurp from the silverware bin. Leave a little DNA I say. And I’m gone.

Stop off my own place for the mail, pay a bill, take a pill, my own bed still made. Then to work, the long long shift. Long long night with the shiftie dolls in and out and in and out. Take the girls a little fruit, make up a hot soup. Look after them, see, nutrition for the afflicted, admitted, addicted.

Secret secret. You sleep out to survive, untouched, alive. But don’t buck your luck. You can smell it, sniff it, when the kibosh goes on it, the hink, hinkie dinkie doo when it’s time to change houses, change horses, find a fresh sleeping mount.

Still, all’s well that end’s well. You can snooze in your own bed. It’s still clean, pristine, but wash your fork Mork. Beware the sleeping cootie.

The wicked want danger before grace.



I scouted locations today.

Every year we interview business types and techies at our company’s big trade show. We make the customer testimonials.

We need a place to shoot interviews. Somewhere businessy, but hip with nice angles, city views, light, and space for moving cameras. We keep the shot dynamic like our customers.

As part of the ciné vibe, part of the the shoot, customers expose creative aspirations. They confess love for Karaoke and metal rock. They tell of expensive Stratocaster and Zildjian purchases.

They have financed and built and burned giant effigies at desert bacchanals. They desperately want us to believe they can party; they can get down: they can create.

And although they see themselves as entrepreneurs too, most can’t walk the walk, and instead pepper conversation with mumbo jumbo – disruptivenesscustomer delight, shared pools, magic quadrants, and brands.

The patois cycles every couple of years but never rises above gibberish, jargon, good uttered once, then clichéd forever. We don’t hate them though. We are We make them look good.

I find the first locale early, SOMA Gallery. The ceilings stretch up and up, so we could run a little crane to make powerful photography. We’d jib down from on high and push in when we got low for the God shot, à la Riefenstahl.

Northen light streams in honest, and although a bank of windows faces the west and a potentially violent sun, we can gel them up or lift a scrim. Our shoot’s not until October; we’re hoping for rain, clean and cold.

Lots of decent paintings here, good backdrop. The manager girl says the place goes for weddings, receptions, bar mitzvahs. She has bright blue eyes and crazy black hair.

I ask how long this exhibit will last. She says she’ll level with me; just don’t tell the boss. The paintings never change, but customers love the gimmick. Now we talk. I trust her.

She’s lived everywhere – South Africa, DC, Korea, Israel. Her father was a Rabbi, and every day she walks to work from Tenderloin Heights. She deals with the grit.

This locale will be fine, I think. I don’t imagine the Rabbi’s daughter singing Karaoke or helling around the desert.

And she would never bring up disruption.




Magdalena White Herrington praised the lucky seas who’d washed her the Klonakilty[1] ghosts.

In Spring 1965, at age 17, against her will, she’d married John Herrington II and was pregnant with his baby a month later.

All had occurred at Mother Irma White’s insistence and according to her idea of what good girls should do: confirmation, thrice weekly mass (at least), daily rosaries, and the Herrington marriage.

So, after the wedding, Madge and Jackie moved to Klonakilty. Old Man Herrington and Mother White had decided the newlyweds could look after that dairy and be alone too and had summoned a special priest from Dublin to “bless” the cottage. Although Madge supposed it connected to expectations of a grandson, Father Kerrigan’s vigorous juju and pious mojo had frightened her.

Learning of the marriage at a distance in Africa, Madge’s father, Desmond White, refused to bless the union. He’d seen Herrington’s bully and strong arm Beara neighbors and contended that Old John, the old man, would as soon force a family off its land as sneeze. Hadn’t they driven the Whites off their own place at Eskivaude with a fishy mortgage loan?

For their part, the Herrington ilk contended that Dessie’d no claim on the girl, no say in issues Madge; why, he barely knew the child, did he? Hadn’t he divorced Irma and spent months, years away on military work, soldiering for Mike Hoare and Bob Denard[2] and Sir Percy Stilltoe before the others? What kind of father was this?

Still, in Fall 1965, on a rifle shot gam, Desmond arrived home from Buta, Haut-Congo to recover and reconnect with Madge. Boa phantoms and unspeakable memories haunted him, and he confided the nightmares to Magdalena. Meanwhile, he demanded that Herrington’s treat her with the respect they’d never shown Whites in the past. And he promised to murder any of them who wronged her.

As the birth neared, Jackie spent more days with his father five miles and forty years’ progress over the Caha Mountains from Klonakilty. The treeless countryside at at Coomeen produced sweet grass and fine milk, and the old man’s cottage was warm and comfortable. On squall-plagued Kenmare Bay though, Klonakilty had never been electrified, had no running water, and no heat save its coal burning stove.

Nevertheless, Madge ran the tidy operation her mam required and tended the cows as Old Man Herrington prescribed. She’d only finished the primary grades but kept a head on her shoulders and understood wind and light and dairy. She fetched water from the deep well every morning, and she hung Jackie’s hand-laundered cow clothes outside between gales.

As for the isolation, Klonakilty simultaneously fascinated and frightened her. With its tiny protected harbor and white strand, the hamlet had hosted several generations of Egan fishermen. Madge had no idea how they’d all survived, but she’d heard how they’d ended. On Christmas 1922, a gale had blown up quick and furious off the wild Atlantic.

At sea, it cleft the great Skellig Rock then blew up Kenmare Bay to claim roofs near Blackwater Bridge and wash away the Coss Strand. Those Egans had been out to poach the yuletide salmon when the hurricane’s wrath drowned all but one of them. Afterwards, the only trace of fisher left, Billy Egan, had washed up at Klonakilty 50 yards from Madge’s kitchen window.

Unsure of his mortal condition, poor Billy had ranted three days and a half about the wreck and all those dead fishes and uncles and brothers washing about him bootless, puffy and white, tempest stripped, naked at sea.

When he was able, he and the rest of the Egans abandoned Klonakilty for some desert place in America far far from water. Old Man Herrington snapped up the property, and from then on, the only visitor was the occasional squatter, a tinker who some Herrington and the Garda eventually ran off.

One short December afternoon, a very pregnant Madge had gathered in the barely dry laundry, swept and scrubbed the upstairs bedroom, emptied the chamber pot, and oiled and polished the corner settle before finding the cows to milk. Boss, boss, boss, she’d cooed into the heavy blowing air, and the cows had come quickly. But in the milking, one after another gave near nothing and that already gone sour.

Madge checked bovine eyes and mouths, but all seemed well. She’d need tell Jackie when he got home, and he’d surely rage about the trouble. But the barometer was dropping quickly, another gale blowing in, maybe that was it. With cows in their stalls, she started down the path to the house. The rain and wind had begun by then, and with the day nearly gone, she walked gingerly.

The child felt heavy in her and kicked hard, and when Madge looked up, she noticed a yellow glow a couple hundred yards distant on the the water. Who’d be out now with this weather coming? She’d left no light in the cottage, so once inside she fired a petrol lamp. She’d go upstairs for a jumper before putting out the supper.

And so passing through the house, light hissing before her, she found the four men on her settle. Each wore a wet black slicker and storm hat pulled below his eyes. Each appeared to be naked under his coat. Each sat bootless, bare white legs and feet swollen and wet. She hoped they expected no supper, but none spoke. Madge lowered the lantern. She realized then, the visitor’s identity, and although she wanted nothing more, she could not cry out.

Silence. But then, after time enough to smell the brine in the room, Madge turned away and carefully climbed to the bedroom above, all the while dreading what she’d find. But no one and nothing occupied her room. Breathless, smothering, she gently closed and latched the door behind her. Nevertheless, a deathly cold, heavy as the sea, seeped into her until she pulled down the covers, got into bed, and gathered the blankets tight over her.

Able to scream now, she muffled her cries with a pillow, then prayed fervent rosary after rosary for her baby’s soul, for her own, and for souls of all the drowned fishermen below. Terrified of gods and demons and frigid worlds unseen, a horrible sleep did overtake her, and she did dream of tridents and poked Bantu heads and rotting salmon in the water.

No supper awaited Jackie, and Madge’s absence and clear inattention angered him. Had she even tended the cows? He looked for her and seeing light under the bedroom door, he rattled the latch. Madge finally opened up.

Groggy from the bad sleep and still terrified, she tried to explain what she’d seen. But Jackie refused to believe her. He said she’d come upstairs after the milking and put her head down and dreamt this horrible thing. In fact, she probably hadn’t even finished the milking.

He called her lazy and swore this silliness must end. His father said it was time she grow up. She’d soon need look after the cattle and Jackie and his baby boy. Come downstairs then, Jackie insisted. But Madge refused. She knew what she’d seen.

She reckoned that Jackie only worried about her as he’d worry about one of his pregnant cows, as if she were no more than breeding stock, but she’d be ignored no more, and she told him so. She said she was done with him and his father and all Herringtons forever.

With that Jackie grabbed her by the arm. She was coming with him, by God, and when Madge dug in, he struck her hard. Then he dragged her by her hair to the kitchen, the mudroom, the workshop, and the parlour.

Nothing and no one. Madge had been crying hard, but as soon as she noticed the puddles, a calm, a near contentment, overcame her. Under the settle, where the fishermen had waited, four icy splotches pooled on the floor. Jackie let her go. Madge bent and dipped a finger and tasted. Salt. Was that not enough?

But Jackie, confused for a moment, rebounded and accused her of spilling the water to trick him. That’s when Madge turned and went for the big kitchen knife. Once she’d found it, she stood motionless a beat, shifted the blade from right to left hand, from left hand to right. She paused but then slowly, coldly, dragged her own finger, the one she’d tasted for salt, under the blade’s razor edge.

Then she approached Jackie, reached out with the lacerated finger, and soothed thick hot blood onto Jackie’s cheek. She’d speak to her father tomorrow, she said, and Herringtons might expect murder in the night, that’s all. Startled now and again confused, Jackie said she must be crazy, possessed, that that damned Kerrigan’d done no good at all. He gathered his things and was gone.

Madge did contact Dessie, and that next afternoon he walked the seven miles from Allihies to Klonakilty to be with his daughter. Two weeks later, on Saint Stephen’s, Madge delivered his baby grandchild.

That night, the birth night, another stormy one, the fishermen visited Madge again. But this time they neither frightened nor chilled her. If fact, she’d first thought to name the baby Gale, but thought better and christened the the little girl, Egan.

She knew that when her mother and the Herringtons and the rest heard of the delicate translucent webs between Egan’s toes, they’d vex neither child nor mother nor grandfather nor any of the Whites or Klonakilty ghosts again.

[1] Not to be confused with Clonakilty near Bandon

[2] Hoare’s 5th Commandos conquered Buta, Congo with Denard’s mercenaries from the 1ere Choc in June, 1965 during the Congolese Civil Wars. Sir Percy Stilton conducted diamond wars for De Beers in Sierra Leone in the fifties

Note to Vera Wang

Vera Wang I saw you on Oprah today girl. Oh no no no.

This is HD television now sweetie, and you are scare eeee. We can see everything, ehv ery thing, and that is way too much pancake, and way too too orange, and it is NOT my TV, missy. Those are putty marks, darlin’, knifed on soooo so think. Something your dermatologist knows that we don’t?

But you say this look works. What’s the problem? HD is the problem, honey lamb child. High Definition. A microscope on your pores. You got the good skin, you are an angel baby.

Otherwise we’re talking zit vision. One thing you can’t do is hide it all though. That is, on the 1 to 10, a minus 99, the worst.  So you just go right on ahead then, girl if you want to… you like it so much. I’m just sayin,’ I’m just sayin’ is all.

And I know you don’t wanna know what I think. But Baby, if I were Mr. or Ms. Camera Person or Mr. or Ms. Director Person, your new name would be “Never Push in Tight On Vera … Medium Shot Only” Wang.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Mmmm hmmm.

Gravel Road

Windsor Drp Shadow

Nineteen sixty one, my sister fell out of a 49 Chrysler Windsor on a gravel road in Iowa.

We don’t know how the door came open, but she sat in the middle of the road crying and bleeding until Dad and Uncle Howard finished their beers and noticed her gone.

Her blood had soaked Dad’s white shirt by the time we got her to Doc Felter. He stopped the bleeding and cleaned her up and picked some of the gravel out of her head. Otherwise she was OK.

Years later she worked for a plastic surgeon who finished removing the rocks from her head and, at the same time, gave her a discounted boob job.

Frank’s Sad Xmas


As told via Instant messenger.

IM Friend: Seasons Greetings. God wants to speak with you directly…expect a visit sometime this weekend!

Infidel: Very funny, but listen. His real name’s Frank, and he stops by all the time. He tries to dump that cheap Xmas candy on us.

We want to be polite, but it makes us puke, so he eats it all himself which is bad because he’s diabetic. That’s how he lost that thumb.

IM Friend: That’s just how he celebrates Christmas, the season of joy. I’m so grateful for it.

Infidel: I’ll tell him you said that. But he’s drunk most of the time, especially this time of year; he won’t remember.

IM Friend: But that would make him such a sad, sad figure of a god.

Infidel: Worse, he’s about eons old, like from the beginning of time, and he’s been drinking since he was 15 and smoking Chesterfield straights (nobody even knows where he still finds them).

He coughs up these bloody loogies all over the place, emphysema you know. They skitter around on their own and glow in the dark. Only a priest from Rome can clean them up.

But sometimes we have to wait a month for the cat to get here because he’s involved with one of the Swiss Guards, which Frank says is ok.

IM Friend: I get it. Swiss Guards are cute.

Infidel: And let’s not even get into Frank’s feet and undies, not that we see them, but you know; well not even Fabreeze and baking soda could touch that stuff.

IM Friend: OMG. You mean Frank doesn’t smell like the angels on high?

Infidel: Oh pah-leeze. He smells just like that outfit, the little cherubs and seraphim, those pissy filthy butt little bastards. They can already fly you know, just not well.

Sometimes Frank makes us get their “wingie” out of the car. It’s a harnessed contraptions to help the learners on high. But the little fuckers crash into everything and spit up constantly.

You could be watching one tangle into a ceiling fan when “splat” another bombs you with that greasy, milky, thick, whatever it is they eat. I’ve asked he keep them away, but when he’s “heralded” sometimes they have to follow.

IM Friend: But I guess a little pity’s in order. At Christmas his kid’s always a baby again, always with that other family.

Infidel: And Mary’s with Joseph. Frank says she’s naught but a ho and Jezabel and he wishes he’d never messed with her in the first place.

Sad thing is, he’s crazy in love with her, and the boy too, even now. That’s what’s driven him to the cups. The holidays are hard for him that way.

IM Friend: Well anyhow, you have a good Xmas.