A Reality-Free Zone

This is a reality-free zone. Reality comes here to die.

            realityI can’t talk about anything without hearing about mantis-people, or the next CME, which will knock the Earth out of its orbit, or chem-trails, or ancient aliens, or government cover-ups, or astrology.

            These people, who are so taken with astrology, they don’t even know what their “sign” looks like. Christ, that’s real commitment.

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limpThey’ve never been so nether as they’ve been lately.

·         Fondly Edwater                                                     Talking about his nether-regions

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Enlarged Prostate

Ipertrofia prostaticaMy butt’s numb from sitting all day. That, or my prostate’s cut off blood-flow to a nerve.

·         Ned Rubbish                                                           Sour Puss

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Head Case

granny smoking potIt’s like it’s all going off in my head simultaneously, but it’s probably just pot and melodrama.

·         Amber Kush                                                                                                 From the comfort of her front porch swing one fire-roasted evening        in July

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Another Crossroads Tale

It was rumored he met Satan at midnight in the middle of a dusty, rural intersection whereupon he sold his soul to said demon in exchange for becoming the world’s greatest badminton player.

            And he was.

            He could put a shuttlecock any place he pleased, and he wasn’t easy to please.

            He so dominated the world’s badminton circuit, jealousy was so profound, several attempts were made on his life. Two were successful.

            When you’re soulless it doesn’t matter.


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Fireside Gatherings

We had fallen into a pretty deep mellow by the time they got around to igniting the fire, which means we were nowhere to be found. But we’ve been to these gatherings; we know how the evening unfolds.

shaman fireThe fireside talk surely lapsed into pseudo-science with little effort, talk of dark matter being a conduit to our nether-regions, or theories on comets and the Oort cloud, though actual knowledge of the cloud is scant and is thus largely absent from actual theorizing.

There was certainly talk of the planets and syzygy and Nibiru, syzygy as alien to these folks as the Oort cloud; Nibiru alarmingly familiar.nibiru

And there was certainly talk of spaceships and government cover-ups and whistle-blowers.

Very little science finds its way into these fireside gatherings. Or reality, come to think of it. It’s a bit like Sunday School in that regard.

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Beat Poem #008: 02/17/2019

I am in a haze of intersections.                                                                                                                  They obliterate each other.                                                                                                                         It’s dizzying.

traffic jam

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My Sgt. Pepper Phase

My wife welcomed me home recently. I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about, but she was quick to explain that I had emerged out the other end of my Sgt. Pepper phase.

sgt. pepperShe was right. I did go kind of sideways when I started down the Cannabis Trail. Everything was wonderfully far-out, and I did indulge my passions with a velvety languid affection.

It was a kind of last bit of unfinished business before embarking on these, my post-autumn years. I deserved a Sgt. Pepper phase. I’ve been living in the 1960s since there were 1960s, and Sgt. Pepper has always had the feel of a pinnacle.

I think I’ll start telling folks I went to Woodstock.

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bathtub oopsJesus H. Cannabis had to be rescued today from a neighbor’s bath when his attempt to walk on water proved less than successful.

            “He’d be a real hoot snorkelin’,” Ned Rubbish said.

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Interview with The Below-Fi Cosmic Wanderer, Progenitor of Some Pretty Groovy Music

Interviewer: Your music is beautiful.

Below-Fi Cosmic Wanderer: Thank you. I appreciate it.

I: How do you do it?”

BFCW: Hmmm?

I: The music. What instruments do you use to get your sound?

BFCW: Instruments?

I: Yes.

BFCW: Oh. Well. Yeah … uh … sure. They’re … uh … instruments, you know, inspired by actual alien instruments recovered from actual crashed spaceships.

I: You mean???

BFCW: Yes. Flying saucers.

I: Wow!

BFCW: Wow indeed.

I: How does one come by such rare and cosmic artifacts?

BFCW: Artifacts? I thought we were talking about my instruments?

I: Yes, we were, weren’t we?

BFCW: Indeed.

I: You use that word a lot.

BFCW: What word?

I: Indeed.

BFCW: Indeed?

I: Indeed.

BFCW: Sorry.

I: It makes you sound pompous. Stop it.

BFCW: Okay.

I: So … your music.

BFCW: Yes, my music.

I: Which you make with alien technology.

BFCW: What?

I: So, it’s true then?

BFCW: What?

I: Aliens have infiltrated the music industry!

BFCW: What??

I: Are, in fact, some of today’s pop stars actually aliens? I mean, let’s face it, we’re not talking Neil Young or any of those other old geezers who make music, we’re talking about … well, everything went sideways somewhere. Even Wild Man Fischer wasn’t as weird as all this photo-shopped white noise.

BFCW: What?

I: Who are they? No! What are they?? Grays? Reptilians? Aura Rhanes?

BFCW: What ?

I: Or all of them? Sure, all of them. Interstellar diversity!

BFCW: What?

I: You got to hand it to them, it’s pure genius.

BFCW: What?

I: And evil. Genius and evil. And so simple.

BFCW: What?

I: They don’t need a full-on assault. They take over our children …

BFCW: What?

I: … our leaders of tomorrow.

BFCW: What?

I: But their music, it’s so beautiful.

BFCW: It’s my music.

I: Played on alien technology.

BFCW: It’s just a keyboard.

I: So, you don’t deny it then?

BFCW: What?

I: Are you an alien?

BFCW: What?

I: You are, aren’t you, hence the mastery of these cosmic instruments?

BFCW: I’ll take that as a compliment.

I: How do you say that in your language?

BFCW: What?

I: And there you have it: A beautiful album of ambient music is, in fact, a subliminal message to its listeners to rise up and over-throw the status quo of our species, weakening our race for a complete alien take-over.

Does the president know, and if so, what is he doing about it?

BFCW: Building a wall.

  • From The Hua: Magic Bent’s Only Magazine and Even Then It’s Hard to Findtm
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Beat Poem #007: 02/06/2019

The tide of the stars runs through my blood                                                                                         like Damien on his tricycle                                                                                                                 peddling at mommy on a ladder.                                                                                                         Mommy doesn’t bounce.




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A Scientific Debate

“Did you know the Big Dipper’s not a constellation?”


“The Big Dipper. It’s not a constellation.”

“What the hell are you talkin’ about?”

“It’s not a constellation. The Big Dipper, I mean.”


“Stop saying that. It makes me want to punch you.”

“I can’t help it. It’s not. It’s an asterism.”

“A what?”

“An asterism.”

“An asterism?  Like a stroke?”

“No, no, no. That’s an aneurysm. This is an asterism. A recognizable group of stars…”

“Sounds like a stroke.”

“Well, it’s not.”

“At least we can agree on that.”

“There’s nothing to agree on! An asterism is a recognizable…”

“…group of blah, blah, blah. And how, Mr. Science, does that figure into my daily horoscope, hmmm?”

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The Alien Embassy

I’ve heard them referred to as the ‘Alien Embassy.” I don’t know if that’s a sobriquet of their own choosing or an epithet. I’m leaning toward the latter. It’s never said with much warmth. There’s usually spittle involved.

            I guess not everyone believes in flying saucers.

            Me? I eat flying saucers for breakfast.


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Religious Differences

Ylang Ergot d’Jour, mystical shaman and mellow neighborhood hippy of the Church of Nondenominational Cosmic Purpose, was arrested and charged with saying really bad things about the recently opened Church of the Herbal Blessings and its pastor, Jesus H. Cannabis.

            “This is taking that P.C. horseshit way too far. Jesus fucking Christ, people, get a life,” d’Jour responded when queried about the charge.

            He might want to rethink the ‘mellow neighborhood hippy’ bit.


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It’s Sunday morning. Everyone’s in church. I’m sitting outside in the sunshine. I’m in church too.

            I like my church better.


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bird shitI think back to … no. Wait. The memory comes of its own accord, a random moment from my life sprouts butterfly wings and flutters by.

            Given that I’m in my 60s, there exists the potential for great swarms of memories. Thank god they’re butterflies and not birds. There would be bird shit everywhere.

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Demon Shake

I have created a demon shake. A really deadly blend of god-knows-what strains. It turns me into both Cheech and Chong, with a soupçon of Robert Mitchum during his film noir days.


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Lunar Eclipse Party

There was an eclipse party. It wasn’t my party. I didn’t host it. But it was I who told everyone about it. The eclipse. I am the Keeper of Such Knowledge.

About a dozen folks were gathered around a fire ring when I emerged from the shadows armed with my camera. Animated debates and laughter bounced among the lunar celebrants. (And it occurs to me, if there were a dozen eclipse seekers, I made it thirteen. That would not have been a coincidence. Not here. Not with these people.)

I set up my camera and took a few shots of the moon for the sake of my meters, wondering how the hell I ended up here, celebrating a lunar eclipse in the Sonora desert with people who are essentially strangers. What’s the universe up to? And what happens to a werewolf during a lunar eclipse?

print ajo 2019 34d lunar eclipse.png

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I feel like I am the last member of a club, resolutely holding monthly meetings and handing out annual awards knowing that one day everyone will return.

No one ever did of course. And there wasn’t a club per se, but there was always someone there. Often many someones. And there was a deep spiritual connection.

There was a time when we were a kind of commune, each of us living in a different place. The spiritual connection made up for the miles that separated us.

When we did mange to gather in one place tectonic plates shifted and the heavens shuddered. We were that magical.

It didn’t last though. Where the miles failed, time excelled. One by one those connections failed being no match for time. Eventually it was just me.

Time isn’t relentless. It’s insatiable.

trailer park

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Wizards and Witches Doubly So

And yet there is unrest among the ranks. Jealousy among the witches. Wizards casting spells, enlarging prostates of perceived rivals. It’s all petty and unbecoming. Disappointing too.

            I expect people who dabble in the Mystical Arts to be above such mundane concerns. But they’re not, and why would they be? People are people. They’re going to be jealous. They’re going to be petty. Prostates are going to become uncomfortably large.

            There exists no magic more powerful than the insecurities of people, wizards and witches doubly so.

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Antennae in My Underwear

witchWe have both a coven of witches and a covey of wizards here. Thaumaturically speaking, they are very territorial. There’s a real West Side Story feel to it, without all the singing and the dancing.

Given the history of bad blood and stray betrayals, you’d think the air would sizzle with mystical possibilities, but there’s nothing of the sort. Just that West Side Story vibe. It’s not particularly dangerous. These assorted practitioners of the Arts are so old they couldn’t blow out a match with a fart on a breezy day.

Yet I fear for my life.

They are the future. My future.

Fuck global warning. I’m going to die! Probably in a most undignified manner. There’ll be soiled underwear. That’s embarrassing. I should apologize in advance to whomever finds me and my soiled underwear.

I apologize.

Of course, by then, the discovery of my soiled corpse, I’ll probably be eating little more than moldy bread and cockroaches (I expect to be destitute as well as sickly). That would explain the antennae in my underwear.

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There’s a Full Moon Coming and It’s Gonna be Red

My latest tune. Give me a listen, huh?

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A Magic Trick

Ed is a Zen master. I recently offered him a hit off my glass pipe. It’s a small pipe. The scent of burning moustache or singed nose is not uncommon. Already fermentedly medicated, Ed went at the pipe with lusty gusto, like Burt Lancaster in The Crimson Pirate. And then his thumb is ablaze. The one covering the little hole, the carburetor. It looks like a magic trick. I applaud with lusty gusto, like Burt Lancaster in The Crimson Pirate.

crimson pirate

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Bad at Math

We have a wizard here. A hoary little fellow, a few clumps of long greasy hair dangling limply from his mostly bald head. And he looks of being bad at math, his appearance testimony to his many magical miscalculations. The third eye, for example.

            Dumbledore would have put it more eloquently: “The third eye is evidence of such.” Or something like that.

            Of our little wizard, his general vibe reeks of having inhaled too many herbs, not to mention the vapors of the countless spells and elixirs he has brewed.

            Wizarding is a dangerous calling to follow, its path fraught with … hell, does it really matter what it’s fraught with? If ‘fraught’ is, in any fashion, involved, it can’t be good. Few emerge at the other end undamaged.

            Just look at our little wizard. This is what happens when you’re bad at math.

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I Don’t Even Know Where I Am Anymore

printjoshuatree417I don’t even know where I am anymore. On someone’s couch? On another planet? A parallel universe?

No, I recognize the stars. Orion’s a bit higher up, so I’m a bit further south, just somewhere else.

It’s still desert, but so much lusher.

Lusher. Wasn’t that an Anne Rice book? Lusher?

Maybe not.

I don’t even know how I got here. I seem to recall a torrential downpour in the high desert. And a U-Haul truck. Somebody cut the lock off that fucker in the parking lot of a Motel 6 in North Palms Springs. Nothing was stolen. We have nothing worth stealing.


I seem to recall Berkley, where the streets were littered with the homeless. We throw people away in this country.

There seems to be a whole lot of darkness involved. And things didn’t just veer off course, they crossed over the centerline into on-coming traffic. The carnage has been considerable and unfortunate.

There was a road trip … some scrapbook stops, places we once called home, even if only for a half hour.

mississippi12 Asheville, North Carolina is no longer Asheville, North Carolina. The Uber-and-Air-B-and-B-generation is turning it into something unrecognizable. Something as far away from organic as is permissible by quantum physics.

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, in the wake of devastating hurricane Katrina, rebuilt itself as an amusement park.

There were wildflowers in Texas. And butterflies. Snout butterflies on the move, and Monarchs migrating south. There may have been phone calls from the dead.

There was a car-paint-scouring sandstorm west of Blythe, California.

We emerged from the black hole of upstate New York scathed. Deeply scathed. And have battled our way across the country, to find ourselves here, wherever this is.

granny hippie I feel like I’m in a retirement home for … well, not counter-culture types, though many of the residents here probably regard themselves as such. Everyone here is a self-proclaimed artist. Evidently, that includes me, which is unusual given that I have never regarded myself as any kind of artist whatsoever. Such proclamations reek of self-importance. The universe stripped away my sense of self-importance long ago and continues to kick me now and then to remind me of my place.

Which is where?

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Common Knowledge

mars“This past summer Mars was the nearest it’s been to Earth since 2003, when it was the nearest it had been in 60,000 years!” Exclaiming makes me sound like a juvenile. My enthusiasm for the night sky doesn’t care.

“It’s amazing. Ancient astronomers could calculate all that. They knew thousands of years ago when Mars would be so tantalizingly near and magnificently bright.” And then I sighed. The night sky can make me do that sometimes.

“Wizards could too, ya know,” my acquaintance, Vladly, said.

“What’s that?”

wizard “Wizards. They could calculate that kinda stuff too. They were big on astrological calculations. They knew when Mars was doing stuff before Mars did.”

“What the hell are you talking about, Vlad?”

“Wizards. The stars were their thing. And they could calculate the shit outta stuff.

“Witches, not so much. They’re more herbs and elixirs. Good stuff too, some of them elixirs. Really belly-warming stuff. Mind-altering.

“Don’t get me wrong. Witches could do planets too, but it was more of an affectation. Showmanship really.

“No. Witches, they were all about herbs. Mushrooms too.”

“Where do you get this stuff, Vlad?”

“It’s common knowledge, dude, common knowledge.”

ancient astronomy

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A Brief Outburst of Reality

Norm, who owns the Magic Bent Corvair dealership, was telling his friends – Amber, Ylang, the usual gang – that he couldn’t do it anymore.

“What? Sell Corvairs?” Pted Ptolemy asked him.

“No, not Corvairs. Christ, ‘em babies made me what I am today. No, I mean this New Age crap…” Norm’s voice trailed off.



“You know. The Tarot cards and the Ouija board and Harmonic Convenience … all of it. It’s crap. It’s all crap.

Norm and his friends had gathered for the latest Semi-Occasional Pagan Potluck. Everybody brought a desert. He and Pted had been talking Mystical Sojourner Oracular Cards while Norm had pumpkin pie and Pted the rhubarb cobbler.

“They don’t work,” Pted said. “I mean, they’re all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, aren’t they?”

Norm nodded.

bob marley “It’s that Bob Marley song…”

“‘I Shot the Sheriff?’” Norm tried.

“No, not that one. The other one. About everything’s gonna be alright.

“The cards are all that shit. Ooo…” Pted began to impersonate … well, it’s hard to say who or what he was trying to impersonate. It was affected and sugary. “‘You’ll find cheap gas prices on your journey.’ And ‘You may drive in excess of the posted speed limit for you are loved.” That kinda shit. All pimply-faced optimism.

“There’s no reality to it at all.”

The fork froze on its way up to Norm’s agape mouth. “There’s no reality to it at all,” he repeated under his breath.

“You’re absolutely right, Pted. There is no reality to it. At all!

“I just can’t do it anymore.”

You could have heard a pin drop. The Oracle of Sciatica dropped one as a kind of empirical thing. “I’ve always wanted to do that,” she said after. “You know, to see if it was actually true.”

It was.

After the reverberations faded, Amber Kush said, “Thank god somebody finally said it. It is all crap!Crazy new age woman in a yellow robe concentrating

“I feel like I’ve just taken off my girdle,” she concluded with a large sigh of relief. It needed to be said.

Nervous chuckling gave way to hearty laughter.

“Amen, sister,” Herbal Annie said, “It is all crap.”

The relief in the room was palpable. Evidently everyone agreed with what everyone was afraid to say. It was all crap.

Old Neb Rubbish chimed in. “We’re grown men and women, for crissakes. What’s wrong with us?”

Everyone nodded in agreement; everyone fell silent.

“Soooo … Mercury’s in retrograde again,” Norm ventured before another pin got dropped.

“Yeah, and this tort. Who made this tort?” Pted asked.

Soon all was back to normal. Ravi Shankar played softly in the background; Nag Champa smoldered; palms got read; aliens were debated; a game of Five-card Tarot broke out. It was as if that brief outburst of reality never happened.
five of pentacles

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The Ticket Line for Harry Pottercon

flying elephants“It all fell apart when the animals all left. Completely disintegrated. And I’m not just talking about the obvious stuff – dogs, cats, giraffes – I’m talking everything, down to the teeniest, tiniest, minutest little bit of non-botanical life. Even cockroaches are no more.

            “And when I say “left,” I mean “left.” They didn’t all suddenly go extinct. They weren’t all taken away in space ships. They didn’t go Poof! and disappear. They left. Departed. And not a single, solitary person on the entire planet saw it, but they left just the same. Of their own volition. It was a choice.

            “And everyone knows it.

            “And the entire world came completely unhinged.

armageddon            “I’m not sure if it was a Biblical Armageddon, or a consequence of global warming … I expect we’ll never know. Doesn’t much matter though. When every single animal that wasn’t us left, we were truly and soundly fucked.

            “And it wasn’t just a matter of becoming a vegetarian or a cannibal…”

            “Um … yeah … that’s great. Really, I was just wondering, is this the ticket line for Harry Pottercon?”

harry pottercon

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The Next Armin Mueller-Stahl

armion meuller-stahlAgnes said to me recently, “I’ve never seen you as happy as you were when you were acting.”

While my outbursts of misery tend to be more memorable than my occasional excursions into happiness, my wife was right. I was happy. Ecstatic.

We spent two winters in L.A. so that I could work as a background actor. An extra. I nurtured no illusions of being discovered, of being the next Armin Mueller-Stahl. I just wanted to participate, be in a movie or on T.V. Anything. I just wanted to be a part of it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And I was. And it was pretty damn wonderful. Had L.A. not been so expensive and so … well … L.A., we might have hung around longer. Who knows, maybe I would’ve gotten pretty good at it. Perhaps it would have led to something bigger. Hell, I could’ve been the next Armin Mueller-Stahl.

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“Ummagumma.” Pink Floyd. Sunset. Pot.

            I’m such a cliché.


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Sexiest Man Alive

idris eba

Well, I’ve been passed over yet again for “Sexiest Man Alive.” This guy won. Sure, he’s a handsome fellow, but he’s not … well … me. I’m a silver fox, for crissakes.

I’m very disappointed.

me and jennifer


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In-Store Return



            “Yes sir, what can I do for ya?”

            “I’d like to return these Tarot cards. They don’t work.”

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His First Mission

He had dreamed of being a deep space voyager most of his life and now, here he was, on his first mission. Granted, it was grunt work on a company vessel, but it was in space. Deep space. On an alien world. Inside an actual alien craft.

            He had goosebumps.

            “Here I am, on an alien planet, inside an alien space ship, looking down on what appears to be large, leathery eggs,” he said to himself quietly as he leaned nearer the eggs, “what could possibly go wrong?”


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The Tale of How Magic Bent Came to Be

ancient scribesA group of men were gathered ‘round a table – cartographers, men of the cloth, philosophers, the entire Department of Tourism, a reporter from Ye Happening Times, and a few others, but mostly cartographers – their attention was focused on a piece of wood, a straight piece of wood, with a series of hash marks, glyphs, and sigils along one side. The hash marks were close together, very close together, closer together than any hash marks had ever been on a straight piece of wood. The glyphs and sigils explained them in no uncertain terms. A disheveled little man who smelled of poor hygiene hung back in a corner, smoking an herbal blend of suspicious ingredients. He was given wide berth.

He had designed this revolutionary new piece of wood with the very close together hash marks. It was possibly his best work, which meant there had been no explosions or unusually high number of trips to the emergency room in its creation. He watched as the wonder and furor slowly began to well up among the men gathered ‘round the piece of wood.

Words like “revolutionary” and “blasphemous” and “contemptible moron” were being tossed around, volleys of insults and wonder bouncing back and forth like a game of high society lawn tennis.

Quentin Feldspar was now holding the length of wood nearer his bespectacled eyes, studying it intently. Several other faces hovered just over his shoulders, watching Feldspar as he studied the object. “It … could … work,” he decided.

preacherOne of the faces, it was Praline Judachai, pulled away from Feldspar’s left shoulder grumbling, “It’s blasphemy.” He was a man of the cloth. Pretty much everything was blasphemy to him.

“’s not! ‘s revolutionary, you contemptible moron,” Silas Mwllr shot back. He had little use for cloth when it hung on a man and it described who he was. Anyone known for his attire was a moron in the first place; men of the cloth got ‘contemptible’ added on for good measure. And he was keen on new stuff. New stuff meant change, and change was always good, in Mwllr’s mind. Change kept the world vital and alive and moving forward. “A shit ain’t nothin’,” he was annoyingly fond of saying, “it’s when ya wipe yer ass that yer getting’ somewhere.”

Obviously, Silas Mwllr was a philosopher because that’s the kind of thought no one but a philosopher would think. His was the kind of philosophy construction workers could get a wrench around.

Sedge Rand!;; began to pace. He was new in town, a hired hand brought in by the Department of Tourism to dress things up and turn Bent Magic into the kind of place where people would come and spend money. He was so new in town, he hadn’t unpacked his bags yet, and was still getting introduced around: “Vern, Wylie, I’d like y’all to meet our new P/R man, Sedge Randa!;;.”

“Vern. Wylie. Good to meet ya.”

“Um, likewise. Say, what was that again?”


“Um, yer name. How’s that pronounced?”

“What? Oh. Sedge?”

“Well, um, no. The other.”

“The other?”

“Yer last name. How do ya pronounce that?”

“Oh. That. Right. Randa!;;, it’s pronounced just the way it’s spelled.”


Turning his attention back to the length of wood, Sedge observed, “This does up the ante,” rubbing his chin in a fashion which he hoped would be regarded as ‘significantly.’ (Sedge was just out of university. This was his first job. He feared he would not be taken seriously. He felt that rubbing his chin ‘significantly’ would be a step in the right direction. He spent an hour every evening practicing.)

Some of the others who heard Sedge’s comment weren’t sure what gambling had to do with anything, but they nodded in agreement just the same. “Right,” “The ante,” and “Upped it good,” were some of their mumbled comments. “If it’ll work,” Tawdry Pliers added. He was the skeptic of the group; everything had to be proved to him.

getting highAll eyes turned toward the aromatic little man in the corner expectantly. “Oh, it’ll work jus’ fine,” he said over top of the unusual cigarette. “Now, instead of one inch bein’ one mile, one inch is ten miles. Or fifty miles.” And he winked and spat. Everybody took a step back. “It’s blasphemy,” Judachai added. “Contemptible moron,” Mwllr replied.

Quentin Feldspar laid the length of wood down on a clean sheet of cartographer’s vellum. The crowd backed away as one in case something should explode or spontaneously combust. Even Silas Mwllr, who regarded explosions and spontaneous combustion as sure signs of change, would take two steps back. Feldspar drew his fine point Rapidograph pen from his pocket protector. The crowd, in keeping with the ‘as one’ motif, gasped in unison. Quentin bent down, the tip of his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth; he took his pen and drew a line along the hash-marked wood; it was exactly one inch in length. There was some ducking and making for the door. The disheveled little man sidled up to Feldspar’s side. “You see? Nothin’ to it.”

Feldspar stared at the line. The others crept in slowly; sometimes explosions are delayed reactions. “The smaller the scale, the larger the distance,” the little man pointed out, anticipating the next question.

“So…” Feldspar began slowly, “this line,” he paused to point at it, “which typically equals … say … fifty miles…” He paused again, weighing his words. “It can equal…”

“The sky’s the limit!” the little man said, barely containing his joy.

“The sky…” someone gasped, “why that’s off the vellum altogether!”

“Contemptible moron,” a familiar voice said in anticipation of Judachai’s, “Blasphemy.”

“But we’re not talkin’ about the sky,” someone, possibly Randa!;; said, “we’re talkin’ about side to side.”

“Side to side?”


Feldspar’s lips moved as he worked up the numbers in his head. Several others fell silent, evidently pondering the possibilities he was trying to pin a number to. Eventually, he said, “That would change … everything!” Silas Mwllr’s heart leapt up into his throat at the mention of change.

Praline Judachai moaned. His heart sank at the mention of change.

“Magic Bent … it would … grow.” The room nearly got emptied of oxygen for all the gasping.

“What does that mean?” someone dared ask amidst all that breathless gasping and consequent light-headedness.

“It means Magic Bent would stretch far up beyond the Northern Mountains, into the Nether-Regions…”

“Where it’s always dark?” Randa!;; asked.

“Only part of the year,” Thwok Johannsen said; his forebears were fur-clad, poetry reciting bohemians from the Nether-Regions. He still occasionally got postcards from distant cousins: Way, baby. Zooming stardust, whoosh all the Way, baby. To you, baby, cat and daddy-o. Way. No Way.

“And the Bottom Sea … why, the Four Corners would include all of the Bottom Sea Islands, the Toucan Archipelago, and Hawai’i.”

“You mean where the natives wear a smile and a loin cloth, and that’s it?” timid Wax Burnish, apprentice cartographer asked.


“Even the women?”

“Especially the women.”

Wax nearly fainted. If he didn’t unleash his virginity on the world soon, there would be consequences.

“The Far East wouldn’t be so far, and the Great Western Deserts would fall within the boundaries of … gulp … Magic Bent!”


“It can’t be done!!”

“Contemptible moron!!!”

“It’ll jack up property taxes!!!!”

“What about school districts?”

“Especially the women?”

The din of arguments continued to escalate. Quentin Feldspar, though, was silent as he stood and stared at that one-inch line drawn in this new scale that allowed Magic Bent to more than double in size, just like that.

He wasn’t a philosopher. He wasn’t a religious man. But this was big. Really big. Maybe, he considered, this was blasphemy…

Toward the back of the room, where it was marginally less riotous, one observer could be heard musing about the impossible possibilities of mapping the sky above, and perhaps the depths of the Bottom Sea on cartographer’s vellum. “That’s the ups and the downs, yer talkin’ about,” a nearby voice said. “That’s top-o-graphy. We do the side to sides.” After a moment’s pause, the anonymous voice added, “Would be interestin’ though, huh? Somethin’ off the page. Somethin’ somewheres else, off the page, but just as real as Magic Bent.”

“Or more,” the aromatic little fellow said.

parallel universes


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An Evening Walk

“I’m higher than Dorothy Gale, and selectively moist.”

“That’s … uh … nice. Thanks for sharin’.” And I walked on.

A little later I ran into god. After meeting him, things began to make sense.

“I’ll tell you who I am!” he boasted out of the blue. I didn’t even notice him until he had spoken up.

“Huh? What?” He had startled me.

“I am the great crater!!”

“Great what?”

“Crater. I am the great crater.

“Yeah, yeah, the great crater. What the hell’s a ‘crater’? Like on the moon?”


“Crater. What the hell’s a ‘crater’?”

“A crater. You know. A crater!!!” He was up to three exclamation points and getting pissed.

“I don’t know.” I felt the proximity of a fourth exclamation point.

“A crater! A crater!! I god damn crate things!!!!!” There it was.

“You crate things? You box ‘em up?”

“No. Crate! Crate!!! Crate!!!!!” He was getting mathematical with his string of prime numbered exclamations.

“I got nothin’, pal.” Truly, I was clueless. In my defense, I wasn’t really trying.

“I crate things. From nothing!” His dearth of exclamation points was more than adequately filled with pride.

“Oh. Like a magician?”

“No, no, no. Crate. I crate. I am a crater. I am the crater. All of this is my cration…” And he spread out his arms, indicating our surroundings, including his propensity for exclamation.

I paused to consider this. My cannabis fugue lifted momentarily, and a light went on. “Oooooooohh.”

And I continued on my way.


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She was Even Unwelcome in Space

You’d think someone named ‘Lucy’ would be, well, Lucy is a happy name. A carefree name. You wouldn’t expect someone named ‘Lucy’ to be such an incredible pain in the ass.

            Such a pain in the ass was Lucy she was escorted out of town. “And don’t come back!” Ned Rubbish had yelled at her.

            No one knew where she came from, this sudden and mysterious stranger, but that’s where the resemblance to Clint Eastwood ended, unless he, too, was an incredible pain in the ass.

            She was so full of herself she carried the extra in her handbag. And she was completely useless in real life situations. Profoundly useless. An absolute puddle.

            She talked about vessels, re: “This should be served in an entirely different vessel. I mean, what’s the point?”

            She got all James Bond with her martinis, martinis she was having with her morning cornflakes, except she never bothered with the cornflakes.

            She stuck her nose where noses do not go.

            Her sobriety was a vestigial organ.

            Breakfast was beneath her. “Only hillbillies and heathens eat breakfast.” Nothing less than brunch would satisfy her, and the nearest brunch menu was hundreds of miles away.

            Some said her parents skipped out in the middle of the night, changed their names, and left no forwarding address.

            Some believed her to be a disgraced circus performer, what with all the make-up and ruffled collars.

            A few were convinced she was an uncaring A.I. with an agenda; an advance scout for the approaching robot army.

            Most found her to be an opinionated ice cube and not welcome in Magic Bent at all. Nobody’s ever not welcome in Magic Bent.

            It’s possible she was abducted by aliens a short time after leaving town and was promptly unabducted. She was even unwelcome in space.

unwelcome in space




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One of Them Freudian Slips

We haven’t always been these fetish, self-involved creatures. Was a time all we cared about was not getting eaten by a predator, which was pretty much everything else, and where our next root was coming from.

Rejoice, humankind, in the arrogant – wait a minute. I wrote “fetish” rather “selfish.” What the hell’s that all about?

Maybe I don’t want to know.


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Forays into the Introspection Woodlands

Alistair Leon Roy was some kind of savant with a leaf blower. He made art with that thing. He moved around piles of this and piles of that, always with subtle flair and great precision, until he had crop circles.

            It was a thing of wonder and awe.

            I haven’t been able to savant my way into anything. I am as tediously ordinary as the next person. Getting older only seems to feed it. As things are going, I won’t even be able to pull off “eccentric old man number three” in a low budget Indie film.

            It’s pretty humbling for someone who believed himself to be enlightened. Turns out I’ve been a self-involved twit, oogied into a puddle of self-delusion and holier-than-thou.

            It’s embarrassing.

            Getting older seems to encourage these forays into the introspection woodlands armed only with brutal objectivity.

            I think I’ll have an evening stroll and get high.


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Meat Ubers

Her name was Myshkin, as was his, but she was Myshkin.

They ran through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, not even stopping at the gift shop or the juice bar. Just on to the next wrong turn.

They rode motorcycles. They thought it gave them street cred. Sonny Barger panache.

astrologer They charted the stars and planets, casting their own horoscopes, making one ludicrous decision after another based upon the knowledge gleaned. Neil deGrasse Tyson was a heretic. Carl Sagan was Satan.

They withered at Burning Man.

And they never knew what hit them. They didn’t see it coming. It evidently wasn’t written in the stars.

It saw them. It hit them hard, Myshkin and Myshkin. And it hit them a second time because it could.

Time passed. They still didn’t know what hit them. They weren’t even certain they were hit in the first place, but whatever it was, that nagging sense of something in their past, they didn’t let it stop them from pursuing life like a pair of drunken morons, carelessly, with no regard for consequences or where they took a piss. Or upon whom they pissed.

Eventually they died, as we all do, and there, their story ends. They were not missed. They were not mourned. They left nothing behind. Not even a memory of them.

It was as if they never existed and let’s face it, is that not the fate that awaits us all? We’ll have been born, lived, died, and ultimately never existed. Any mark we might have actually left on this place will be devoured over time by time. Time has an insatiable appetite for such things. It gobbles down everything in its path, and everything is in its path.

It really makes you want to believe there is an afterlife, otherwise, what’s the point, which leads to this notion that there is a point, which is a fine example of mental masturbation. Why must there be a point? Why must absolutely everything fit into a tidy pile and if it doesn’t, it’s horseshit, which typically comes in piles of its own?

It’s a big universe. We are grains of sand on its beach, and it’s a really big beach.

The nearest thing to a point is that we are vessels for our DNA. It’s the DNA that’s in charge. We are but its mode of transport. We’re meat Ubers.

dna It’s doubtful that DNA believes in an afterlife. It only cares about this one, and procreating gives it a kind of immortality. But it does depend upon us, its meat Ubers. Perhaps that’s the lone point to all this otherwise entirely meaningless existence.

Maybe our DNA knows something we don’t, or everything we don’t. Maybe the two Myshkins knew something we didn’t. Except what hit them.

They never knew that.

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A Baby Jane Thing

She had a real Baby Jane thing going on, that woman with whom I worked back in Twentynine Palms, clinging to her youth with a committed desperation. It was nauseating.

            Someone should sit that woman down and have a talk with her, but all that ‘tee hee’-ing and flirtatious eyelid fluttering makes it impossible. It’s almost hypnotic, and before you know it you’re acting like a twelve-year-old as well. It has the reek of ulterior motives, or hidden agenda. Add Bible-thumping to the mix and it veers off into something deeply weird.

baby jane            I hope the consequences of my battles with life haven’t left me so transparently fucked up.

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Cosmic Soundscapes of My Very Own

Back in the ’70s I called it “space music,” stuff to listen to while star gazing (or getting abducted by aliens). Even when sitting around with friends late at night, candles blazing and incense burning. But mostly for star gazing.

printjoshuatree417There wasn’t a genre as such so there was a lot of sifting through piles of albums and 8-track tapes. Holst’s The Planets, while bombastic, was an early and obvious choice. And of course Dark Side of the Moon. And much of David Crosby’s first solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name, and early Tangerine Dream. And the title track of John Abercrombie’s 1975 album Timeless, still one of my favorites more than forty years later.

The 1980s gave us the New Age and Enya and Windham Hills Records and the Harmonic Convergence. And somewhere in there I got turned onto Stephen Hill’s weekly Music From the Hearts of Space, “An hour of contemporary space music,” which began in 1973 in San Francisco before going national on NPR stations. And that was all she wrote; I had at long last found my beloved “space music.”

As a guitar-strummer from just as far back I’ve tried to create my own space music, with spectacularly woeful results. And then last summer, in Costa Rica, I had access to a keyboard which permitted me to explore cosmic soundscapes of my very own.

I think I did okay.

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You’d Think I Wouldn’t be Surprised

You’d think, by now, I wouldn’t be surprised.

            You’d think, by now, I would know better.

            You’d think, by now, I wouldn’t even bother, but the wide-eyed kid in me clouds the thinking part of my brain and I say things like “Ya wanna see some wildflowers?” or “Look at this mushroom.” or “Look! A Pileated woodpecker!”


            More often than not my words are greeted with glassy-eyed stares, indifference, or disinterest. There have even been heat-seeking missiles of haughty contempt suggesting “nature” is something completely beneath them, and I, by association, am something they quite possibly stepped in, which never happens when they’re texting while driving, or texting while dining at a nice restaurant, or texting.

            Nobody gives a damn about wildflowers or woodpeckers. And that includes people I thought did give a damn.

            This attitude predates the 21st Century and all this hi-tech Soylent Green horseshit. It likely predates me. Hell, Grog the Neanderthal probably got pissed at those uppity Cro-Magnon suburbanites looking down on him and his kind for wasting all their time dancing around a monolith left behind by an alien race rather than evolving and putting all this nature nonsense behind them once and for all. The bastards.

the monolith            People just aren’t interested. People are androids. I give up.

            This attitude does predate the 21st Century, but all this hi-tech Soylent Green horseshit has only made it worse. Much worse. We might as well have all perished in a Y2K apocalypse. Maybe we did. I wouldn’t be surprised.

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Catalina Hempheiser

I recently learned that the Statue of Liberty sits atop the last piece of Atlantis still above water. I’m 63-years-old; you’d think I would have heard about that by now. And the Atlanteans, how do they feel about that, their last piece of real estate occupied by a giant statue?

Had I heard about this in the Hi-Desert, or Magic Bent, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. This kind of thing gets a lot of traction in those places. But I’m in neither of those places, or any place similar. This kind of information isn’t a part of the upstate New York landscape.

Taken aback by this unexpected revelation I could only smile and nod politely, words failing me.

catalina hempheiserThe woman who felt compelled to share this arcane knowledge with me, I later spotted her on a local middle-of-the-night television talk show promoting a book she had co-authored with Erich von Danskins, Hand Job of the Gods. Her name was Catalina Hempheiser.

She is evidently a mover and shaker in the world of ectoplasm and empty calories.

The stars and planets guide her every move, but she can’t identify a single star, planet, or constellation.

ouija boardHer Ouija board is as worn as Willie Nelson’s guitar.

Her crystal ball has been worn down to a glass marble.

She plays solitaire with a deck of dog-eared tarot cards.

She is in frequent communication with Nancy Reagan.

And, of course, she is descended from those Atlanteans who, I later learned, escaped their watery fate in spaceships kindly provided by our neighbors, the Venusians. That Venus is utterly inhospitable doesn’t seem to matter, but why would it, that’s science.

(Note: If her name is familiar, that’s because she is a member of the Hempheiser alcoholic beverage empire. “Hempheiser Beer because it’s everyone’s Constitutional right to drunkenness and a beer belly. Hempheiser Beer, affordably priced for the teenagers in the family.”)

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The Thrill of Columbine

Over the years I think I’ve made it perfectly clear – yikes, did I just sound like Richard Nixon? – one of the things that makes wildflowers so glorious is their diversity, not just in color and size and habitat, but also in abundance or rarity. A hard-to-find Calypso orchid deep in the primal forest is no more or less a grand sight than a gently sloping hillside covered with blue lupine and rosy Owl’s clover drenched in the golden syrup of late afternoon sunshine. A woodland floor carpeted with sweet-smelling Carolina Spring Beauties is as breathtaking as a handful of less common Pink Lady’s-slippers. And a roadside lined with sky-blue Chicory (I know, it’s an unwelcome invader, but it is beautiful and has its uses) is just as amazing as a patch of Large-flowered Trillium. But somehow, Wild Columbine seems to transcend all this, the broad sweeping glory of wildflowers.

Wild Columbine

Wild Columbine

            Unlike its pumped up, steroid-engorged, centerfold-beautiful cultivated cousins, Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is a delicate fey flower of exquisite beauty, preferring the quiet woodland life in cliffs and rocky outcroppings to large colonies or barren roadsides. Coming upon them in the woods is as magical a surprise as finding the fairies these lovely blossoms suggest. Even the roar and thrill of a waterfall in Minnesota fell away when I found a half-dozen of these ineffable flowers blooming in a handful of rich humus filling a depression in the rocks. (Life finds a way.) 

            A member of the Buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family, Wild Columbine, when in bloom, cannot be mistaken for any other flower. (The stems and leaves bring to mind meadow rues, but when the flower unfolds it petals, well, that’s another story.) The nodding flowers have five upward-spurred yellow and red petals, which alternate with the five red sepals. Numerous yellow stamens dangle from each flower like a cluster of bell-clappers. The flowers grow up to two inches long, and bloom from mid-spring until mid-summer.

Crimson Columbine

Crimson Columbine

            The late-summer fruit is a beaked, dry pod that splits open along the inner side. It is full of small, hard seeds. The entire plant grows up to two feet tall. It is an eastern species, and can be found from Wisconsin eastward, as far south as Georgia, and as far north as Quebec. The most similar species, Crimson Columbine (A. formosa), grows in the Pacific States. Its flowers are not quite as long and are shameless, displaying their bell-clappers promiscuously.

            The distinctive long spurs of Wild Columbine, and many of its cousins, are full of nectar, the prize for the long-tongued insects and hummingbirds which are the flowers’ pollinators. (Some defiant bumblebees chew through the spur, robbing the flower of its nectar without pollinating it.) These spurs are markedly longer in our native species of columbine than in European species, where there are no hummingbirds. (Ah, the wonders of evolution.)

            Many western species of Columbine are white, yellow, or blue, colors less attractive to hummingbirds. These species, which are oriented horizontally and have a more open display of inviting petals, depend upon insects for pollination. Wild Columbine is the lone eastern species, while there are nearly 20 western species. These species include Blue Columbine (A. coerulea), which is Colorado’s state wildflower, Colville’s Columbine (A. pubescens), Golden Columbine (A. flavescens), and Crimson Columbine. 


Blue Columbine

Blue Columbine

Golden Columbine







There are about 50 species worldwide, all in the northern temperate zone.

            The generic Aquilegia may come from the Latin for “eagle,” because of the “resemblance” of the flower’s spurs to the talons of an eagle. Or the name may be a combination of aqua (“water”) and lego, which means “to collect,” a reference to the nectar-filled spurs.

            Historically, some Native Americans mixed ripe Wild Columbine seeds with smoking tobacco to improve the aroma. It was also believed the seeds, either smoked or added to a potion, yielded a perfume useful when courting. (“What’s that bewitchin’ fragrance, darlin’?”

     “Columbine, lover, columbine.”)

     Some tribes used the seeds in a tea for treating headaches and fever.

            Seeds of the common European variety were once taken with wine to speed childbirth, as well as for a variety of ailments. Physicians eventually concluded that this “medicine” was doing little more than poisoning children.

            The best thing to do with the seeds is let them fall where they may. In this way this glorious and uncommon wildflower has a chance to thrive in its out-of-the-way places, thrilling those fortunate wanderers whom are lucky enough to happen upon it.

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Dead Strings on a Dry Guitar

dead strings on a dry guitarMy travels through life, across the years and the miles, have inflicted considerable pain and inspired outbursts of creativity. Sometimes they exist in single Jekyll and Hyde package. Sometimes that disturbed creature behaves as though he was a singer-songwriter. Not particularly successfully, but he can’t stop himself.

This, my latest collection of not particularly successful music, arose from my time in Los Angeles, Alaska, Oregon, North Carolina, central Ohio, Montana, and the Hi-Desert. I like to call it Dead Strings on a Dry Guitar

peace sign

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Spring Climbs the Mts.

Sweet Violet


Sweet Violets, Round-lobed Hepatica, Trillium erectum, a fairy land of mushrooms, and Coltsfoot: Spring meanders up into the Adirondack Mts.



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Even the Food isn’t Quite Right

So this is what it’s like returning from a mission in space only to find you’ve crash-landed on a planet ruled by Simians though you’ve not seen the first ape and eventually you do run into other people but they’re not like the people back at Mission Control and you immediately experience that sinking feeling that this is your planet and something has gone terribly wrong because these people have all the personality of a desiccated earthworm and all you want to do is lay your head in your mommy’s lap and suck your thumb.

Somehow even the food isn’t quite right.

rotten food

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I’d Rather be Abducted by Aliens

I’m dead on the inside.

            Where once there was a land of sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows there is naught but a wind-scoured wasteland upon which even cockroaches and Styrofoam fear to tread.

            I gave everything I had to the Cause. The Cause got drunk, blacked out, and couldn’t find its car for a week and a half, and that was a happy accident. It was spotted on the back of a tow truck, the sign on the truck’s door reading “Thank you for your business. Get drunk again soon. You’re putting my kids through college.”

            That would kill the sturdiest of Cause-supporting insides.

            I’d rather be abducted by aliens and subjected to a variety of unspeakable procedures than put myself through that again. It simply isn’t worth it. No cause is.

alien abduction 02

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An Impressive Dearth of Corners

closing the circleI tried telling myself we’re closing a circle. Perhaps the circle. But what the hell do I know of circles other than they display an impressive dearth of corners? Stuff hides in corners. Nowhere to hide in a circle. But that’s not the kind if circle I mean. This one is a euphemism, which is a fancy word with which to impress your friends. I don’t have any of those, so I’m not trying to impress anyone.

This circle is not the circle of life. The circle of life is a lie. Life is a straight line. Birth. Death. A bunch of stuff strung out along the way in between. But there is absolutely nothing circular about it.

far side of the moon The circle I thought we might be closing is a path – our path – which we set out on back in 2000 when we left central Ohio for greener pastures (and mountain tops and the Gulf of Mexico and desert valleys and the far side of the moon. And don’t give me that crap about the dark side of the moon. There’s nothing special about that; it’s just the side of the moon unilluminated by the Sun. Pink Floyd would have achieved a greater depth of cosmic had they sung about the far side of the moon. We never see that, which is why aliens have built secret bases there, and a poorly kept secret at that.)

This circle we’re closing, this life path we’ve followed, has taken us from the green familiarity of Ohio to the distant lands of the Left Coast and Alaska, with side excursions to Africa and Costa Rica, not unlike Dorothy and her companions on the road to Oz (the Wicked Witch was their side excursion). But there is no Oz for us, not even a witch, just the immediate awareness of how unnecessary this was.


After the lush green of Costa Rica, I thought it might be time to see how this end of the continent felt. It’s no Central American rainforest, but it is a lush paradise compared to the desert. With so much dust and pavement in our wake, and the near impossibility of living on Social Security, a seasonal job “back east” seemed an intriguing idea. Returning to the general neighborhood from whence we came, it certainly had all the makings of closing the circle. In that case, it was also significant.

But there’s nothing significant about it except that we’ve managed  to stir up clichés and book titles (been there; done that, You Can’t Go Home Again, etc.).

parabolaWe don’t need to be here. Our path through this life is a parabola.

(Note: Upon further thought, we have encountered witches, beginning with the witch of the Carolinas, Karen Anne Vapid, owner of the Hellhole Dreadful Overnighter, where room rates were determined by the poundage of froufrou in the room, so much froufrou you needed a map to find your way to your bed.

If you’re reading this Karen Anne … you can read, can’t you? … we have unfinished business which I intend upon finishing to my satisfaction. You might want to consider upping your dosages. Didn’t know I knew about that, huh?)

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The Fair Folk

I feel like Rip Van Winkle who, after spending the night in the company of the Fair Folk, awoke the next morning eighteen years later. And I remember why I went off with the little bastards in the first place: I do not approve of winter. Or the general ennui of conservatism (it’s like the Force, it oozes from pores, surrounding and binding and connecting all living things. Fortunately, it’s no match for the Dark Side of the Left Coast.).

            I wonder what the little fellows are doing tonight?

dancingwith fairies

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