Seeing Red

Amidst a mess of document

left in a box in this old home,

new to us these last few years,

mixed among the old receipts

for plumbing work and seedling trees

and appliance manuals

for appliance dinosuars

long gone to their extinction,

I found a weathered yellow sheet

Typed upon in fading blue,

a restrictive covenant

that pierced my heart. Could it be true?

Did my predecessor here,

in this vibrant melting pot,

this neighborhood of polyglots,

seek, back then to enshrine

his bigotry upon the land

from that point and for all time?

Yes, my friends, I’m sad to say,

around the time my dad was born,

some lofty ass took it to mind

to codify a huge red line

around this humbled cot of mine.

Teeth®️: A User’s Guide

Congratulations on your acquisition of Teeth®️!

Teeth®️, when used properly, in conjunction with Maxilla®️ and Mandibula®️ (each sold separately) provide the informed user with many invaluable benefits. With proper care, Teeth®️ will last for many years, perhaps even a lifetime (actual mileage may vary).


Failure to use Teeth®️ within their prescribed parameters or for purposes for which they were not designed may lead to irregular wear, improper fit, or sudden and abrupt failure resulting in extreme personal injury to the user and bystanders.

Although they may appear to be useful for unarmed combat, the use of Teeth®️ for this purpose is not intended. The provider of Teeth®️ neither recommend nor condone such use and the provider of Teeth®️ explicitly disclaims any liability for said use of Teeth®️.

Likewise, although Teeth®️ appear to act similarly to common household tools, like pliers, wrenches, vices, scissors or saws, the provider does not endorse Teeth®️ for any of these uses. Using Teeth®️ to perform any of the customary functions of any of these common household tools will void any explicit or implicit warranties associated with Teeth®️.

Proper use:

Teeth®️ are carefully designed for and intended to cut, pierce, chop, and/or grind common food items into a more easily swallowable paste. Please do not apply Teeth®️ to Non-food items. Doing so may damage Teeth®️ and/or Non-food items and will void any explicit or implicit warranty associated with Teeth®️.

To use Teeth®️ to process a food item for ease of swallowing, place food item between Teeth®️ and compress forcefully and repeatedly between Maxilla®️ and Mandibula®️ also available form your Teeth®️ supplier(each sold separately). Once a desired degree of mastication has been achieved, food item may be more easily swallowed.

Scheduled Cleaning and Routine Preventative Maintenance:

Teeth®️, like all other convenience accessories require daily user cleaning and routine maintenance from a provider certified Teeth®️ service agent in order to perform at optimum efficiency and to prevent premature failure. Failure to follow provider’s recommended cleaning and maintenance schedules will void any explicit or implicit warranty associated with Teeth®️.

Scheduled Cleaning:

The provider recommends that any user of Teeth®️ vigorously scrub Teeth®️ using an approved bristle brush of appropriate size and an approved abrasive paste cleaning agent (each sold separately; see accompanying product literature for detailed instructions on the proper use of these products) to clean Teeth®️ immediately following each and every session of use. Failure to follow provider’s scheduled cleaning guidelines will void any explicit or implicit warranty associated with Teeth®️.

Routine Preventative Maintenance:

The provider of Teeth®️ recommend that Teeth®️ be inspected and serviced by a provider certified service technician two (2) times each calendar year as long as the user continues to use Teeth®️ in order to assure that Teeth®️ remain in proper operating condition and to identify and repair any damage that may have occurred due to normal wear and tear, improper use, or failure to follow provider recommended scheduled cleaning of Teeth®️. Failure to follow provider’s recommended maintenance schedules will void any explicit or implicit warranty associated with Teeth®️.

Please remember that the use of Teeth®️ without accompanying accessories Maxilla®️, Mandibula®️, Esophagus®️, etc. (each sold separately) is not recommended by the provider, may significantly reduce the effectiveness of Teeth®️ for the mastication of food items, and detract from the user’s enjoyment of Teeth®️.

The provider of Teeth®️ would like to congratulate you, once again, on your choice to acquire Teeth®️. Please be sure to inquire with the provider for the necessary accompanying accessories, Maxilla®️, Mandibula®️, Esophagus®️, etc. (each sold separately) to maximize your dining pleasure.

Just the Right Word

I really enjoy the English language! It is very nuanced. If you take the time, you can almost always find a word to express exactly what you want to express. Unfortunately, with over 220,000 words, it is sometimes hard to find the exact right word.

Today, for example, I’m trying to find the perfect word to describe someone who promises to protect something then, not only fails to protect that thing, but actively violates it?

I know there is a word for someone who behaves this way…

Friends, Family, and Loved Ones.

As we prepare for this Memorial Day; a time to honor and thank all of those who sacrificed their lives to assure that our American society could continue, I would like to take a few minutes to propose a little thought experiment.

My purpose is to cast neither blame nor judgement but rather to inspire contemplation and encourage conscious choice in our celebratory behavior.

Many of us will gather in groups, Monday, to pay tribute to our fallen ancestors. Imagine you are there, in that gathering now, well before you actually arrive. Think about this example, and let your conscience be the guide to your personal behavior.

Picture in your mind, the celebratory environment you plan. Imagine the size of the crowd. Think about the personalities of the people with whom you will be gathering. Consider their occupations and the number of people they must interact with daily and the closeness of those interactions. Contemplate, based on those factors, how many of the people gathered will be wearing masks and how many will not. Honestly and fearlessly reflect on whether you or your immediate family will be masked or unmasked. Do you have that image firmly in your mind?

Now comes the hard part- please read the remainder with an open mind and do not assume any prejudice!

Imagine that at the culmination of the celebration, a time comes for everyone in the crowd to draw a handgun and fire all rounds straight up, into the air- kind of a all guns salute to the fallen. Appropriate, since we are honoring those who fell in battle to assure our freedom.

Thinking back of the image you formed earlier of your holiday crowd, imagine that all those wearing masks are firing blanks and all those without are firing live rounds.

Ask yourselves, in all honesty, would you wish that you and your family, friends, and loved ones were also wearing military helmets or had, even, chosen to celebrate somewhere else?

From the mouths of babes

I love kids!

Kids are honest!

They say what they mean without all that obfuscatory social whitewash of political correctness that ends up being some horribly convoluted and awkward Rube Goldberg mechanism that utterly fails to protect anyone from taking offense if they are inclined toward being offended.

Adults, on the other hand, seem paralyzed by fear.

Case in point, a couple of years ago, I was sitting on a park bench one beautiful spring day and I observe a young boy, 5ish, and his 20-something mother approaching as I sat, basking lizard-like, in the afternoon balm. As I enjoyed my lacertilian sun bath, I overheard the following exchange:

“look at that fat man mommy”

“he’s not fat dear.”

“are you crazy, mom? That guy, over there. How did he get so fat?”

“he’s just a really big man”

“you mean like a giant!? Hey, Mister, Are you a Giant?”

I paused in my saurian slumber and weighed how I wanted to respond. The boy was curious and I respected that but the young mother was clearly anxious and I did not want to make that worse.

I settled on jovial honesty.

“No, I’m not a giant. I’m just really fat.”

“How did you get so fat, mister?”

“My name is Andy. I got this fat because I ate way too much food.”

“Hi, Andy, my name’s Kyle. Mom told me you weren’t fat and that you were a giant.”

“Your mom was probably afraid I would be insulted and get angry about you talking about my weight. She was trying to protect you. It’s kind of her job.”

“Mom, this is Andy. He’s not a giant like you said. He’s just fat because he ate too much food. Her name’s Alice.”

“Hi, Alice. It’s a pleasure to meet you and Kyle.”

“I’m so sorry. He just says whatever comes into his mind. He has no filter.”

How much did you have to eat to get that fat, Andy? I bet it was like 60 pizzas! Will you get small again once you go to the bathroom? I get a big belly when I eat a lot of pizza but I get small again when I go to the potty. Do you need to go to the potty? I think there is one right back there. I saw it when we got out of the car. I wonder how all that Pooh is going to fit in the potty! I bet it’s gonna make a real big mess!

“I can see you’ve got your hands full with this one, Alice! Don’t worry Kyle, I’m not going to make a big mess. I didn’t eat all the food to get this fat at one time and it’s not going to all go away when I go the bathroom.”

“I don’t understand. Where did the food go!”

“Kyle, that’s way to complicated and we need to stop pestering this nice man.”

Kyle was clearly not interested in leaving without getting his questions answered because he had climbed up on the bench next to me and kicked his shoes off. Since Alice didn’t seem invested in rushing him out of the park, I assumed she was just offering me a polite escape.

“You mom is right, Kyle, it is really complicated but I think I can explain it in an easy way. Would you like me to try?”


“Does your mom have a car?”

“Yeah! It’s the blue one right over there! It’s a Sunday Elephant!”

“Hyundai Elantra.”

“Very nice! Kyle, what does your mom feed the Sunday Elephant to make it go?”

“We go to the gas station and fill it up with gas but not the smelly kind like when you fart but the smelly liquid kind that makes engines run.”


“Excellent! So, the food we eat is like the gas for the Elephant except our stomach is not like the Elephant’s gas tank. Are you with me so far?”


“OK. When you put gas in the Elephant and turn on the motor, the motor burns the gas in the tank a little bit at a time to make the Elephant move. The gas tank is where the extra gas is stored until the engine needs it to move. Our stomach is more like the big factory that breaks down the oil that comes out of the ground to make the gas. Our bodies can burn food…”

“Like pizza?”

“…pizza directly to run our engine. The stomach breaks the pizza down into the kind of fuel our bodies need to run.”

“So where is our extra fuel kept if it isn’t kept in the stomach?”

“It gets turned into fat and gets spread out all over the inside of our bodies so it is close to the muscles that are going to need it later.”

“Like spreading butter on toast? I love toast! That’s what I had for breakfast! I had pizza for lunch! I ate 3 slices!”

“By now, your stomach has turned all that pizza into fuel for your body to burn. You have enough fuel for you to go run around the playground and climb and swing and jump all afternoon and if you don’t burn it all up today, it will still be there for you tomorrow. That way your body will still run even if you don’t get any breakfast in the morning.”

At this point, Kyle got very still. I waited patiently to see where his mind was going to go next. Alice said, “You know, that was a pretty good description.” Kyle seemed to spend an eternity, for him, in deep thought. About 5 seconds later he looked up at me with giant eyes and said, “Wow, Andy! Your body could probably run for a whole year even if you didn’t eat anything at all!”

I laughed! “You know, Kyle, I may just have to give that a try!”

He seemed to feel like the conversation was done because he put his shoes back on and ran off, Alice in tow, to the playground, presumably to burn up his pizza.

Surrounded By Humor Since Birth

Today, friends, is my son Ian’s 18th Birthday. I could not be prouder of the young man he has become. Smart, talented, and funny. I posted a humorous photo reenacting a picture of me holding him when he was a newborn today and an old friend reminded me of the gag I pulled on our family and friends waiting in the delivery room. I guess you could say, he as been surrounded by humor since birth.

Ian was overdue. We checked into the hospital very early in the morning to begin labor induction. Things did not progress swiftly. After 16 hours, Ellen was only dialated 4 centimeters. The doctor advised that it would likely be several more hours and gave Ellen an epidural. I went out to tell the waiting throng and asked my best friend, Lee, to go out to the house and feed the dogs.

 When I went back to the labor and delivery room, things were radically different! Ellen was crowning and within a half hour, Ian had been born! After they had cleaned him up and said it was ok to have family come back, the doctor and I were talking about how you can never predict these things. That is when the diabolical plan formed.

 I went back out to the waiting room and told our friends and family that things had really slowed down and the doctor thought it would be fine for everybody to come back and offer some encouragement and emotional support. I led the throng back into the L&D suite. The expressions on everybody’s faces were priceless! There was much confusion. Some people even thought the hospital had come up with some cutting edge program where they gave pregnant women other newborns to hold in order to stimulate delivery! Once reality dawned, there was much love and laughter. It seemed the perfect way to celebrate the end of 18 long hours of labor and the birth of our son.  

Thank you all for being there with us and especial thanks to Lee, who missed it all because he was taking care of our dogs!

Passing Strangeness

While I was driving today, I saw a young man walking slowly beside a young woman in full length, multi layered, traditional robes, perhaps Nepali, mostly in reds but with a green cloth head covering. They seemed to be having a quiet conversation. Their body language looked either intimate or conspiratorial; leaning in toward each other with out touching. About 15 feet behind them walked two older men of an age to be the parents of the younger pair. They too were talking quietly together and seemed to be watching the boy and the girl. All three men were wearing clean but plain Nepali style clothing.
This seemed rather out of place to me as I was driving in Richmond, Virginia.  I am wondering if I had the privilege to witnessed some small part of a traditional courtship ritual.  That seems to be my immediate impression and it made me feel all proud and paternal. 

I have no idea why!

A rare departure…

Those of you who are regular readers will know that I’m not particularly prone to prose. Today is a rather rare departure from my preferred poetic form but I have been thinking about some things that do not lend themselves to 17 syllable haiku or even 14 line Shakespearian sonnets.  Not being a master of extended beat free verse, I’ll just have to make do with good old fashioned prose.

In the course of my work as a mental health clinician, I keep coming across people who are trying to make things better by acting in ways that, at one time, may have been effective techniques to get their needs met. Unfortunately for them, the circumstances have changed in their lives and these, once adaptive, techniques are no longer effective. In fact, these old adaptive techniques are now actually counterproductive and are actually working against their goals or objectives.  

These thoughts have been percolating around in my head for years but without a clear analogy that would be understandable to my clients. In the course of my morning chores today I think I may have come across the root and sprout of a possible example to illustrate this for my people.

Imagine a soldier, fighting a war in a deep jungle, like in central Africa. To hide from his enemies, to not get killed, and to be successful in completing his missions, he needs to blend into his background. This good soldier camouflages himself with mottled green clothing, uses vegitation to break up his outline so he isn’t obviously man shaped, and learns to move with the pace of the jungle so he can best blend in with his environment. By doing this, he adapts to the conditions around him to best survive and succeed.

Now, imagine the war is going well and the general decides he needs to move some of his soldiers to another part of the country to fight. He sends a helicopter, in the middle of the night to scoops up a bunch of soldiers from the jungle and drops them into the desert just as the sun is rising.

Jungle rhythms offer no benefit in the desert. Camouflage that once concealed you, keeping you safe, now makes you stand out and puts you at risk. And just how smart does a desert fighter have to be to figure out that a moving shrub among the dunes is probably up to no good? 

Folks, you’ve got to change your coping mechanism to match your changing circumstances if you want to be successful!  Otherwise, you’re an albino squirrel in the forest.

I’ll have a fine opportunity to try this analogy out in just a few minutes. Wish me luck!

Hold on Life

Today, I’m going to take a break from poetry  and contemplate relative morality and ego defensive rationalization in the context of a continuum between good and evil. 

 I image by now, I’ve already lost 80% of the good people who read my random neurotic expression. I’ve exceeded 17 syllables—

This morning, somewhere between buying my cuppa Joe and unlocking the medication closet at work, my wallet houdinied through a heretofore unknown tear in the fabric of my pocket, or spacetime, I’m not sure which. At any rate, poof, my day is interrupted by anxiety. 

As of yet, there has been no attempt to use my credit or debit cards and the various financial institutions that issue them have been notified. But this leaves me facing the daunting task of reconstructing the tangible aspects of my self.  I need to reorder replacement Drivers license, insurance card, various vendor reward and discount cards, and reconcile myself to the loss of the few bucks in cash and cash equivalents like Starbucks cards.

This is what started this rumination on good versus evil and the continuum of moral behavior.  It, kind of, goes like this:

So you’re walking across the parking lot of the store you frequent regularly and, looking down, you see somebody’s wallet.! Oh the myriad of possibilities that open up before you! The many choices you can make!

Choice 1-  Step over it and pretend it isn’t there because that’s the kind of miss you just don’t need to get involved with.  Narcissist- Wow! What does this say about you! You can’t even be bothered to take a few seconds out of your day to do a total stranger a solid favor?

Choice 2- Pick it up, take it back into the store, give it to the clerk, and say, “somebody drop this in the parking lot.”  Altruism at it’s finest!- The embodiment of “Mudita”- do something good for no other reason than the joy it will bring to someone else!

Choice 3- Pick it up, open it up, look at the name on the ID, Google search them, find their number, call them, tell them you found the wallet.  Overkill!-  This is a stranger, after all. This action, begs the question, what do you hope to gain?

 Choice 4- Pick up the wallet, remove the cash, pocket the cash,turn in the wallet to the clerks. Pragmatic Self Interest.-The rationalization here is “I’ll go ahead and take my reward for saving this poor sap the trouble of cancelling his credit cards and getting new ID and insurance cards etc…

 Choice 5, Pick up the wallet, take the cash and any cash equivalents like Starbucks cards or gift cards, leave the wallet where you found it.  A Portrait in Greed!- You will benefit yourself without exposing yourself to unnecessary risk. Douchbag!

 Choice 6- Pick up the wallet, strip it of anything of value, and throw the ID the insurance card the credit cards which are going to get arrested if you try to use anyway in the nearest dumpster so you don’t get caught for your petty larceny.  Antisocial personality- you live your life with no interest in anything beyond yourself; totally unconcerned with your fellow man!

Choice 7- Pocket the cash and cash equivalence, sell the ID and the credit cards to noon business associate with criminal ties. Lazy criminal- clearly, you ain’t got no balls! You will take an easy score over working hard to maximize your criminal profit!

Choice 8- Look up the address on the ID, figure the person is not home yet, go by their place with a bunch of your buddies in a big old truck andclear their place out. Criminal Entrepreneur- You know how to take advantage of a windfall!  Everybody knows you gotta bid high or stay at home to win!

Choice 9- use the information found the wallet to build a complete portfolio of the person, steal their identity, open up every conceivable account you can, mine it for everything it’s worth, park the money offshore and destroy their life. Satan!- Clearly you are the spawn of hell!

Clearly there are a lot more options, but these nine pretty much cover the gamut from Saint to Satan when it comes to how you handle something like a wallet in the parking lot.  Think about yourself honestly, conduct that fearless moral inventory, and consider, just consider moving a little bit toward the light!

I hope whoever finds my wallet today makes choice 2… Or at least choice 4!!

A Requiem for Father

Memento Mori Haiku I
“Sorry, It’s cancer.”

Thus began his journey home

To distant children.


Memento Mori Haiku II 
Bitter grudges pale,

Insignificant before

Cancer’s blinding light.


Memento Mori Haiku III 
It proved a blessing-

His pancreatic cancer,

Thawed long frozen hearts.


Memento Mori Haiku IV
Spiritual growth

Inversely proportional

Physical wasting 

Memento Mori Haiku V
He journeys onward,

Free of all mortal burdens,

Borne on re-found love


A commemoration on, this, the fourth anniversary of his transcendence.

Ward Andrew Garrabrant Sr.

26 Aug 1940 – 23 Mar 2012

Pack or Herd

It matters not where you belong,

the purpose is the same.

A young wolf comes across a fawn.

Sensing easy meat, she leaps.

In her grasp the fawn, he bleats,

Seeking rescue from the herd.

From three directions they converge

In response to the cries they heard.

They fall upon that young she wolf

With heads and hooves and mighty ire.

Now she’s no fool, this young huntress,

She knows it’s now time to retire.

Drops her prize and flees for home

With the herd in close pursuit,

Battering at her as she runs.

What damage they would deal is moot

For to her leader she quickly comes.

His stands his ground as she runs by

With the herd still close behind.

Growling deeply, he bares his fangs.

Halting, the old Buck meets his eye.

He snorts and stamps, their gazes locked,

A tableau frozen, endless as time.

And in that stare, a message passed:

You care for yours, I’ll care for mine.

Virtual Blog Tour


“The Forgotten Path”


Wandering afar

Exploring endless newness

Must reawaken

The, long dormant, inner kid.

Retreading a long, lost, path.


Many thanks to Sam Rappaz for the invitation.  Please visit her blog at:

The questions in this tour are:

What am I working on at the moment?

Well, I’m mostly working on living my life while exploring the various nooks and crannies of my intropsychic environment, observing, both critically and uncritically, the world around my on this journey, and trying to understand some small part of what it all means.

How does my work differ from others in the poetic genre?

Now that is way too philosophical a question! To answer that question, I would have to ask, all the other poets I read, why they write, what inspires them, and do they have a purpose or goal?  I’ll leave that to the scholarly Literature Majors!!

Why do I write what I do?

For me, I write, simply,  because I like it. I am inspired in my writing by the process of living in this world and within myself and the interaction and contrasts between the internal and external experiences. I share it because modern technology has made it so easy and inexpensive, it takes little investment in time or energy to share.

How does my writing/creative process work?

Honestly, I have no idea! The creative process, for me, is a mystical process. Something that I have not given much thought.  I engage in many creative activities, carving, cooking, drawing, photography, sculpting, working, writing. It would not be incorrect to say that living is the core of my creative process.

I hope that this will give you some idea about what leads to my writing and sharing these brief glimpses into the world I walk through!

Now I understand that I’m supposed to pass this on to four other bloggers I follow.  I am also supposed to send them emails inviting them. Please know that you nominees are under no obligation to participate. In fact, some of you may have been nominated before.

Nominees are:

Hanna at

George at

Mitch at

Shawn at

Please do not consider a lack of nomination a slight to your work! I follow and adore the work of many many more than four bloggers!

Food for Thought: or (liberal parenting comes home to roost)


So, we were driving into school this morning, my son and I. The temperature was uncharacteristically low for the Virginia Piedmont. The thermometer in my aging Suburban read -9 f. My son, who is prepping for his driving test, comments on an unusual vehicle noise with some alarm.
” Dad, that doesn’t sound good. Do you think it’s going to break down?”

“Nah, I think it will be fine. But this does remind me of the importance of having an emergency kit and a survival plan if you were to break down and get stranded for a few hours or a day on the roadside in terrible weather. Have you thought about that?”

Without missing a beat and with perfect deadpan and flat inflection, he says, “I would cut you open and climb inside.”

Maybe letting him watch the Star Wars movies when he was 4 was NOT the best idea.