Cleaning My Keyboard (Or Why I’m Not fond of Math)

Keys are clean – not so for the tray that holds them – alas

They’re dirty, dirty things

These letters quite inert

Though fingers to life can bring

Stories fancy through the dirt


A gets the most followed close

By E which makes me think

I use an A word however gross

And E Simply works as link

R and T are equal buds

As I scrub to clean & see

The tick that always makes me rub

R when I clearly want T

M is my cushiony base

Providing soft bumps and land

Mad as hell and in your face

M is mud – another stand

Z is clean or fairly so

Left off the qwerty trail

Like Q the pinky doesn’t go

Unless to Quote Zen and rail

Others now sit pert and clean

Capitals all perfect and tight

The numbers I ignore – it’s mean

But they are why I write

North on Interstate 5

It is the same

40 years since

the golden hills

I once took for dead

Alive with oaks

And time

Alone with my  G(irlfriend)  P(ositioning)  S(ystem)

My oh so smooth guide out

On L.A’.s new concrete thoroughfares

And towns built far from the maddening hub

One blinkered view; away

A hot, dry temporary peace

The grapevine surprise   

The inexorable sameness – unknowable climb

Then the drop to California’s

Golden valley

Rich, the experience

Still – no billboards



“Congress Created Dust Bowl”?   

Disappearing signs at 70 mph

I can smell Water

Rights issues


But my old heart forgets

At 152

Gilroy smells    

Good green onions and garlic

I am 19 again

Cursing my old Grand Prix

Overheating – as I never could

And I consider my destinations

Engagements planned

How far to go?     

Judgment entering – bullet-fast.

I thought I’d be better at this

Escaping archived failures

Writer’s Block

 Between the lines of profundity I am mute.                                                    It is hubris that makes me speak –                                                            effortful attempts at seeming cogent.                                                   Maudlin sentiments, like bullets shot onto a page                                 struggle for supremacy.                                                                                      No matter the arrangement the fingers trigger the letters                           to ensure they are for no one’s eyes but my own.

What did I expect?

On This Day of Father’s: Mine

And when he was born my grandmother must have had all the requisite dreams, holding my dad in her arms. She must have seen in his huge black eyes the beginning of genius. She must have seen talent in his precocious growth, talent enough to live up to his Ellington namesake. He was musical – a beautiful strong baritone though not strong

Ellington & Ruth Norman – my father & mother – 1962

enough to lift him over his timid paranoia induced by his velvet-black skin

And today, the day of father’s, I wonder what my dad would have been like if his skin were another color?

Would he have lost that ‘good job’ wrongly accused of theft?

Would his footfalls coming in  the back door continue to translate as angry tirades about his children’s shortcomings?

Would he need to find surcease in vodka’s white-lightening providing a shield from a life shot through with responsibility?

And yet, every morning I could understand the language in the back door slam – speaking volumes to his work ethic – every morning.

My father, I understand now, was a complicated man attempting to live in a world that minimized (by degrees) most men.

And he helped, unable, as he was, to resist those who found him irresistible.

Who’s fault that his silken, coffee brown body invited touch?

Where, in his beautiful black shroud of skin, did strength and weakness reside?

Life’s ecstasy?

Life’s agony?

Dark Shadows – Oh Please…

   You’ve heard the rumor that you cannot simply kill (in ordinary fashion) a vampire.  Sadly, this is true. I can say with confidence that even 30 pieces of silver bullets could not slay Tim Burton’s latest theatrical beast. I know this now, after I took the bait; Johnny Depp in anything has to have some merit – right? Wrong!

I am not a disgruntled Dark Shadows follower from 1971 left to simmer in some angry stew of TV show cancellation. My vampire interests began and ended with Anne Rice’s trilogy on the vampire theme. So, when I saw the trailer in which the unlawfully beautiful teenager, Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz) asks Barnabus if he is “stoned” and heard Depp’s   17th century verbal play on the word, I thought I’d get to see vintage Depp via a humorous Burton retelling. Unfortunately that trailer presented just one of the two humorous scenes in the movie. Now that I think about it, the movie was so bad I can’t remember the other funny scene.

That Barnabus Collins comes back to 1972 fairly screams humorous potential. Somehow the writer(s) could not find enough going on in that year at which to poke fun. (Which is a strange occurrence in itself.)  How could a writer not be able to inject political humor into this beast with the Watergate break-in being in the news? As the surly teen, Carolyn, watches TV news couldn’t Depp have something clever put in his mouth (besides the obligatory canines) like a timely (and somewhat suggestive) reference to ‘deep throat?’ 1972 saw the passing of the Equal Rights Amendment (surprising in light of today’s attempts to backtrack on this progress) so couldn’t the very male Barnabus reference his superiority to Angelique (Eva Green) in a clever way of course. And what about George “segregation forever” Wallace? Barnabus could find himself with three silver bullets as he comes into a room confronted with four real bad guys:  a Nazi war criminal, Idi Amin, George Wallace, and the inventor of the jump suit; our hero wastes not a minute dispatching Wallace – unloading all three bullets into the southern ‘guvna’.

1972 was a year of real film making, what about the movie The Godfather? Vito Corleone meets Barnabus Collins, or Eastwood’s Dirty Harry? And for the frightening random violence of A Clockwork Orange – make it less so by getting Barnabus in there to show who’s boss. And let us not forget The Brady Bunch, a TV series known to kill bricks – (and should still be held for crimes against television-watching humanity) yet not one mention. Come on DS writers, this stuff practically writes itself.   And what was up with Alice Cooper? All the deadly, spooky makeup in the world couldn’t stop that insipid music coming from this guy. The only positive thing I can say here is at least he had the courage to play himself. This takes some of the heat off the writers.

If the year were not interesting enough for DS writers, couldn’t they have livened up the competition for the best fishing fleet in Maine by, say, having Barnabus (unable to secure men to fish) going out on one of the boats hypnotizing the fish right into the boat? Couldn’t Barnabus mesmerize the town and highlight the power of money to assuage all fears of vampires, werewolves and ’57 Chevy wagons? And the sex scene… Really?

Call this Monday morning quarterbacking, or governing politics from the comfort of a television news studio but the cinematic bulls-eye was missed with Burton’s Dark Shadows. I would have preferred a closing scene of driving (the ’57 Chevy wagon) into the red-orange sunset past a sign of George McGovern waving under the caption “Y’all are gonna miss me when I’m gone.”  True that.