Bass-Ackwards

24 Sep

Bass-Ackwards

By Homer P. Nogginfogger

Dear Mr. Marsidoo (I hope I spelt it right),

Please publish the following essay of my opinion of what is bass-ackwards in this great nation of ours. I’ve limited it to three or four, but believe me when I say I coulda gone on and on. Nevertheless, every journey begins with a step, and this is my first step at being vocal, seeing as how every other jack-ass is allowed to scream and shout what they think. I’m gonna use that little comment you use so often to apply to this here below: my opinion and 75 cents will get you a cup of coffee anywheres. That excludes Starbuck’s, of course. Which I also exclude on a regular basis, if you know what I mean.

Thank you, Kind Sir,

Homer

_______________________________________

Bass-akwards. One of the best words to de-scribe most of what ails this country and me.

Once notions was based on simple and plain logic: what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours; and don’t do or say nothin’ to nobody you wouldn’t want done or said to you. You know, the Golden Rule thing.

Seems to me, though, as this nation has got older and sophisticateder — “wiser” some folks might say — we ain’t done more’n get things so turned around we don’t know which way is up anymore. We got things bass-ackwards, in other words.

Like marriage. Used to be a guy and a gal honeyed up to one another on the porch and listened to the radio and sipped lemonade. Then the guy would go ask her papa could they marry (her and the guy, that is — you have to be so clear about that these days), and the wedding would be planned down to the First Baptist Church. Wasn’t no super expensive deal. Friends and family brought a cover dish and the Oak Holler Boys would show up with the music, and there’d be a barn dance afterward.

Then the new couple would sneak off to the cabin he had built during their courtship and consummate the vows. Later that night, some of the wedding guests would show up a bit tipsy and proceed with a shivaree, banging pots and pans and sometimes firing a pistol or shotgun in the air.

And they’d have kids — enough to work the land and help bring in the harvest — and that would be that. 

Today you got to sign a prenuptial agreement, where nobody much makes out but the lawyers. It is a contract that says who gets what if who does what to whom. Kind of an albatross that hangs out, waitin’ for what has come to be very common in most marriages: divorce.

I ain’t sayin’ divorce didn’t happen way back when — it was just that it was more uncommon than common — and for a lot better reasoning than in-com-pati-bility! That’s a big way of sayin’ “we don’t get along anymore.”

My parents was married more than fifty years — and to each other! I know people these days been married nearly that long, but to two or three different spouses. So it don’t really count.

These days people go into marriage kinda with the attitude if they stay hitched for five or more years, they done good! But with that prenuptial in place, they figure they done even better! Seems these days people go into a marriage for what they can come out from it with, not with the mind of what can I put into it. Used to be “for better or worse” meant the good and the bad times, period. Today, it’s better until I figure I’m worse off. That’s bass-ackwards, I think.

Then the divorce, and the only ones benefitting are the lawyers — onct again! Everyone else is miserable and angry!

And insurance. Again, bass-ackwards! I pay money to a company that is betting I’m not gonna get sick, crash my car, say something horribly bad about someone else, or any number of really bad things — while I’m betting I am! Then, when something bad does happen, the insurance company — who has already invested my money in land and bonuses and paying off the politicians — says to me, “You can’t have your money less you can prove the bad thing meets our guidelines! What guidelines! I never saw no guidelines! Well, it’s in the fine print. And I get a letter back from the insurance company saying my claim is denied. Or, if I do get any money — say for a car accident — they begin deducting. Depreciation. Mileage. Wear and tear. More if it’s my fault, yet still some even if it’s not my fault. And then they do what? They raise the amount I have to pay them! Bass-ackwards!

And, finally, taxes. I know. Ain’t nobody likes them. But some of us get the tax-shaft. You know, good, honest workin’ folk. We grind and we sweat, and we pay out to our country, state, county, city, and through sales taxes on just about anything and everything until there’s barely enough to squeeze out for the rent and the water and the lights and a trip to the grocery store. That don’t include what I call the luxuries: clothing, gas, and going to the doctor (by God, the government has got us by the scrotum on that one, too). 

So I wear my jeans and shirts until they’re so thin they don’t even make good rags. And by the time I give up on a pair of shoes, I can scoop up a dime off the street with the leather that flaps as I walk.

Even if I get a raise from where I work on account of inflation, it is eat up with higher taxes! Social Security. Medicare (do I care?). And other stuff I never see. But I hear Congress has a fine time with those dollars!

And the rich? Hell, I personally know a rich man brags every April about the amount of taxes he pays: nuthin! So many loop-holes and what-not, that only the rich understand and can take advantage of. Plus their high-paid tax accountants. Me? I go down to the Y and some volunteer helps me file my taxes for free. But even that might go away, the way the Infernal Revenuers are headed. Even the E-Z tax form takes a PhD to figure out. No matter what, I always pay more.

Bass-ackwards! The rich need to pay their fair share. Make it across the board fair — like five percent or so. Way it is, them that’s got, gets. Like at the bank, where when you apply for a loan ‘cause you need the money, but you get refused on account you need the money. Whereas the rich get all they want, and they don’t need it! I seen a skit on that on TV one night, where a poor man trying to keep his house is rejected. Then a rich man comes in and the banker keeps shoveling money to him by the handful. I laughed and cried at the same time. Even if it’s funny, the truth hurts.

Bass-ackwards. 

I know. Lynn Anderson made a record, “I beg your pardon,” and truly I don’t expect a rose garden. Pretty as those flowers are, they can still stick you with their thorns. And I know that the Almighty Grave is the great equalizer. But none of that makes me feel better at the present. Maybe in the Hereafter I’ll feel better. Sure hope so.

And even if these bass-ackwards things didn’t exist, we’d still have a time of it. I know that. But I’m not asking much. Just the three. Get ‘em right, for God’s sake. Then I can turn my mind to more important matters.

Yours truly,

Homer P. Nogginfogger

__________________________________

 

We focus so much on our differences, and that is creating, I think, a lot of chaos and negativity and bullying in the world. And I think if everybody focused on what we all have in common – which is – we all want to be happy. [No, really … the quote actually ends this way]

— Ellen DeGeneres
(https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/ellen_degeneres_600300)

 

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Winnowing Time

23 Sep

 

The Winnowing Time

By L. Stewart Marsden

 

 A wise king winnows out the wicked;

he drives the threshing wheel over them.

— Proverbs 20:26, NIV

 

 The magistrates are God-fearing gentlemen, but merciful overmuch,—that is a truth,” added a third autumnal matron. “At the very least, they should have put the brand of a hot iron on Hester Prynne’s forehead.

— The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

___________________

 

No other event in the storied history of the country had ever signaled such an abrupt turn from its previous momentum.

The President strode confidently to the podium, situated below the Lincoln Monument facing the Washington Mall. The reflecting pool, which ordinarily would have mirrored an upturned Washington Monument, had been drained and scrubbed clean so that spectators could gather in the area.

Throngs were lined and packed together like chattel. It was, at long-last, one of the greatest gatherings of humanity ever assembled to hear a Presidential Address.

The President tapped the mic — more out of nervousness than the need to check it. His lithe index finger produced several rapid “boofs” on impact.

He stared out before him, and turned to survey those to either side and behind him. Among the sunglassed Secret Agents were a plethora of other armed and battle-prepared law officers and military personnel.

He cleared his throat, and began.

“Jesus said in the Book of Matthew, ‘His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’

Looking up, his audience was a study of stern and knowing expressions, stone faced and somber. Many nodded slowly. Some murmured “Amen” under their breaths. Others braced themselves with anticipation. Husbands reached for the hands of their wives. Mothers pulled their babies in close against the brisk October air. Children fidgeted arms and other body parts, and were nudged to keep still by parents, grandparents, or even complete strangers.

In a raspy voice, the President continued.

“Today is the most auspicious day in this great country’s history. It marks a time for direction that has never, ever, been embarked upon before. We have come to a precipice, and the world demands we make this leap of faith.

“The psalmist said, ‘Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’

He looked up again at the sea of faces around him. There was not a cloud in the sky … nothing to deter him from continuing, no rabble nor protests. Everything, every one, was focused — at long last — on him. The clicks of cell phones sounded like insects: chit, chit, chit, chit, chit. Hundreds of news video cameras whirred nearly noiselessly. The battery of media mics on the podium seemed to stand at attention, hungry for his next words.

“We are the chosen. We are the answer to the confusion and horror that proliferates throughout this incredible world. We are the truth against the lies that seek to destroy us, the only hope for the world. But like that simple child’s song, I will not let our light be extinguished! I’m gonna let it shine! Will you let your light shine, too?”

The first eruption of enthusiasm split the silence like a sudden storm, and rolled around the podium and to the sides and down the drained reflecting pond to the outer trees and streets until Washington sounded like an old lion, lifting its head against the dark, roaring with unequaled strength and might.

He lifted his small hands above his head, quieting the tide of cheers. His eyes were bright, and he licked his lips repeatedly, as if savoring what had long been denied him most his life.

“This — this will not be an easy task. We know God is our protector, and is pointing us toward the desert. I will lead you to and through that desolate desert to the Promised Land to the very best of my ability. And, with the Lord’s strong arm, we will prevail!

An eruption of ecstasy swarmed over the Capitol.

As on cue, a battery of drones silently appeared over the throngs and hovered. No one noticed.

“In any righteous endeavor, there will be naysayers, and those who will work from within and without to try to delay our mission and cause us to stumble.”

Hints of boos rifled through the air.

“But!” he said several, hands again in the air until the seething ended, “but — my fellow Americans — we have the promise the Lord will command his angels to protect us, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.”

It was as if a Hail Mary pass had been caught in the end zone in the waning seconds of the Super Bowl, propelling the Redskins to victory over the Patriots. Confetti dropped from the bays of the drones hovering overhead. Near pandemonium threatened to disrupt the event until the President raised one arm and hand over his head, calling for calm and quiet. It had the opposite effect, and nearly every person in the area raised an arm in response.

“Please! Please — thank you … thank you. Let’s continue, please!” 

Those in uniform began to mill about, ordering spectators to be quiet. Finally the chaos settled, and the President glanced at his watch and tapped the mic again.

“Thank you! Thank you all! But — but there is much work to be done. 

“Our country is called the United States of America. United. Think of that for a minute. Not divided, not of separate mind or philosophy — but united. And the only way this country will bring our world out of bedlam will be if we present a clear and united front.

“That’s what we did during the greatest war of all times, World War II. Some of you still remember, right?”

A trickle of laughter.

“Let me tell you, America is going to once again reach the greatest and most epic level of leadership this world has ever seen or known before, and we are going to do that because we … are … UNITED!

Again, pandemonium. Again, the President’s arm extended. Again, the crowds responding with uplifted arms. Again, armed uniforms controlling the respondees.

“So, how do we become united? This country of different races and backgrounds and heritages and religious beliefs? How does this great nation of differences make it through to our greatest calling?

“By concentrating on one goal. By not letting those differences deter us. By uniting whole-heartedly, and remaining steadfast — despite the odds.

“You, my fellow Americans, my friends, my neighbors — are the ones who will make that happen. Put aside your differences. Put aside what you thought was so important and take up the flag and carry it forward into battle! And this IS a battle, make no mistake about that! Not just against the enemies of our great country, but those who refuse to join the cause as well! Yes! You know them: neighbors, people you work with. Even family. And that is very sad. Very sad indeed.

“We can contend with the threat of arms and weapons. We can overrun military obstacles. But — we cannot — I repeat, can NOT survive those pockets of cancer that spread doubt from within. Those cancers must be surgically removed!

“So I am asking each of you, as your Leader, to help us separate the wheat from the chaff. The good from the evil. That which is healthy from that which is useless. You are the grain — the great potential for making this planet great for the first time ever. America — the United States — will lead that effort through the desert and into the Promised Land!

“You are a light — one of many, many lights. So many lights. And you must not let your light be put out! EVER!

The Marine Band, positioned on the steps to the Lincoln Memorial, began playing. The tune was familiar, and people began to hum along as the band leader directed the musicians, then turned toward the Mall to synchronize the response.

The President began to hum as well, and as he did, paper messages began to drop from the drones, fluttering to reaching arms below.

“This little light of mine,” he sang, “I’m gonna let it shine …” 

The crowd joined in, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine! Let it Shine, let it Shine, let it Shine!”

A child picked up one of the pieces of paper and read its message:

Do you know a doubter? A friend, a fellow worker, a teacher, or even someone in your family who will keep America from being United? Call this number. We won’t ask your name. Tell us who that person is, and we will take care of it from here. Again, you won’t be involved. Help us Keep America United, and help your Leader Make the World Strong! Your Leader and your God are counting on you! Call 1-800-468-2837 (DOUBTER) today!

She pressed the paper to her heart and began to sing loudly, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

Prep Boys – Introduction (1st revision)

29 Aug

1960s Collage Montage Of Many Heads by Vintage Images†

 

Prep Boys

By L. Stewart Marsden

Introduction

The cauldron of change had begun to boil. It had long simmered since the end of the war, above the coals and ashes of shallow graves, where man after man, boy after boy, had fallen in battle and were thinly veiled by dirt and time. The famous fights: Bull Run, Shiloh, Murfreesboro, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg; and the lesser knowns: Hoke’s Run, Kessler’s Cross Lanes and Ivy Mountain all ground sinew and bone and blood and heart into thick, fertile mulch –– enough to spread across the cotton fields of a thousand plantations in the South.

For some, the gruel of that black-iron pot smelled hearty and enticing, bringing water to the mouth and a pang in the belly. The appetite was stirred by a waft of possibility, and those who would feast on change were impatient, constantly repeating “Is it ready?” 

Still others, fearing it should not be served out wholesale because of stomachs unused to fine cuisine, or so they said, warned it was not time, was not ready to be served, and they managed to cover the gaping mouth of the cauldron with a heavy, nearly impenetrable lid.

But like anything heating up on the stove that is covered with a lid, it was bound to boil over, and boil over it eventually did.

Multiple wars later, in far away lands against enemies obvious and not-so-obvious, during a time when the country had rested and refreshed from its addiction to lead and scold the world; when the pissing contest between Our Way and the Wrong Way had escalated to shoe banging and nuclear checks; the gruel began to seep under the lid.

 

†Until that time, America –– the one that “we” counted –– was scrubbed white and commercial-perfect. Only those of color who were adorned with white culture were included, and then sparsely, as though a tell-tale spicing of the stew, and barely noticeable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Storytellers

19 Aug

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Storytellers

To some extent, we are all storytellers. Our abilities to weave a tale hie back to childhood (at least mine did), when confronted by Mom with such questions as:

  • Did you break that?
  • Where have you been?
  • Why didn’t you answer when I called you?
  • Why are you late for supper?

And the skills and tendencies grow over the years.

  • How do I look?
  • Did you like the meatloaf?
  • Tell me you love me first.

Face it – each of us has a story to tell. Some are riveting, others, sleep-inducing. Some need “tweaking” to portray us in the best light. Witness 45 and the life-long politicians who reside and feed in Washington and state capitols around the country.

From fish tales to impossible golf shots to the hottest person we ever dated (and what we did on the date) to the largest-ever gathering for an inauguration, we’re ready to mesmerize our friends and families with our fantastic feats – however based in truth or not.

The counter-tale of little George owning up to his dad with “I cannot tell a lie” is probably hogwash. It’s the historic manipulation of fact in order to get us to spit-paste our cowlicks and ‘fess up – which flies in the face of reality.

“Don’t worry, Chief. This treaty will ensure your people maintain their lands and way of life without any interference from Washington.” 

Wink, wink; nudge, nudge.

Stories are the centerpiece of every gathering, whether about the long past, when it’s now okay to reveal an exaggerated truth; or about a trip or an experience. And when the stories fly, it’s like different hands grabbing the bat handle to see who can triumphantly cap off the end of the bat in victory with “the greatest story.”

Like the famous challenge between Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron to write the best horror tale, we gather over dinner and in dens to joust with our own tales of interest, each story perhaps spinning on the edge of truth along that dangerous precipice of – what shall we call it? Creativity?

What’s that? You say you don’t or never have done that? You say you’ve lived the pristine life of a cloistered monk in terms of never exaggerating or perhaps stretching the truth a bit? 

Some of you – even now – are thinking “but that would be lying!” 

You say toe-mah-toe, and I say tew-may-toe. Again, like our politicians, it depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.

I say you are a storyteller. You say you are a truth teller.

Psssst! Don’t look now but your pants are on fire.

Vulnerability v. It Ain’t Easy Being Green

16 Jul

Continue reading

The Phil Mickelson Caveat

18 Jun

 

The Phil Mickelson Caveat

By L. Stewart Marsden

As expected, sports news talking heads are all abobble about one of the two major take-always from the 2018 U.S. Open Golf Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Course this weekend in Southampton, NY.

An aside: Wonder why the nation is not equally outraged by the golf course’s logo? It never came up, somehow.

One has clearly drawn the serious attention away from the other. Phil’s desperate antics on the 13th (ironic, no?) hole in venting his day-long putting frustration by whacking his putted golf ball that was clearly going to end up (oh, who knows where?) drew the commentating from how the PGA screwed up again with an unholy course, already difficult, and made three times more difficult by shaving the grass from the greens.

At least for the moment. While spewing venom at the game’s most likable pro, greens keepers flooded the greens at the end of Round Three after Big Guy Dustin Johnson unceremoniously slipped the balding slopes from what looked like an insurmountable four-stroke lead of -4 to a share of the lead by day’s end at +3.

“Cheater!” cried the pompous PGA elders.

”Horrible precedence,” they added.

So, without due process, Mickelson was hung out to dry. If only he had taken a knee instead of stopping his hockey puck putt!

Did you know that duffers like me make mince-meat of the rules of golf on a regular basis?

Ever hear of the 10-inch rule? According to my brother, you can move your ball to any point within a 10-inch diameter to improve your lie. You won’t find that one in the book.

Ever hear of the Mulligan rule? Or the reincarnated Mulligan?

Ever hear of the “within the putter grip” rule?

The PGA has spent a lot of money trying to get golfers to follow the rules.

Actually, Phil DID follow the rules. Ask any defense lawyer. He gladly took the penalty.

Was it the right thing to do?

Well, if morality is going to enter the conversation, then let’s talk about DJ’s reported dalliances. And what about … TW? How quickly we forget and forgive. Don’t worry, plenty more scarlet letters where Phil’s “C” comes from.

Did you know it’s thought golf was actually a drinking game? At least, the winners were afforded drinking credits. And even that it was banned and against the law to play it? Look it up. It’s on the internet. Gotta be true.

Here’s what would be fair in terms of the controversy over Phil’s sin:

Make him play the remainder of the round, and the next five tournaments in which he plays, right-handed. Now that should be tantamount to cutting off his hands at the wrist. Except Phil is actually right-handed, and I’m sure would adjust. Then cut off one of his feet. “I’m still playing!” Okay, then –– cut off the other foot. “I’m still playing!”

You live by the rules … you die by the rules.

You might look at Phil’s action from a different perspective, however. Isn’t he really saying, I’ve done this that you may be free (of the rules)? Kind of a golfing savior for the rest of us golfing wannabes.

Back to the real problem this weekend: while there was some nasty satisfaction at watching the world’s best golfers get massacred by those gatling gun greens, it was also sad.

PGA:
Please don’t ever do that again! Choose courses for The Open that are indeed challenging and have the respect of each golfer, but don’t make them impossible! I hated looking at the leaderboard this weekend. Don’t go back to Shinnecock Hills until they pledge to

  1. plant a few trees back,
  2. let the grass on the greens grow a bit.
  3. change their logo. How about a shield that has something representing a shin and something that represents a cock?

As it is currently, I’m sure most of the PGA golfers who played the course this weekend felt cuckolded –– by the course AND by the PGA.

 

Kicking the Tires

15 Jun

 

Kicking the Tires

By L. Stewart Marsden

My dad was an auto mechanic for years. On the weekends he and me used to work on an old jalopy he bought for practically nothing. Said it was his therapy. Well he musta had a severe case of the crazies on account he worked on that car till the day he died.

Sally, he called her. And she was the jumpin’ off point for many a life lesson I never forgot.

“Sally is just like a woman,” he said a lot. “She may be old, and may not work the way she did when she rolled off the assembly line, but she’s reliable and fixable. Not like the shiny new cars you see in the dealerships. No. And she wasn’t made for the smooth life of the highway, but the bumpy backroads.

“Once she’s back in shape, she’ll purr like a kitten and be the envy of every guy within three counties.

“Not like those fancy-finned gals with all kinds of gadgets. The ones what seems great the first time you take ‘em on the road, only to fall apart after not too long. The ones with built-in ob-so-lescence. Cosmetic crates, I call ‘em. Lemons with a fancy paint job.”

My dad’s ability to hone in on Sally as a universal roadmap to life was better than a lecture from a triple-PhD at some high-powered college or university. According to my dad, those guys had nothing but wind chimes for brains, which tinkled loudly whenever a fresh wind blew.

But Sally was the real thing. The true compass. From sex to marriage to being dependable and trustworthy as a worker. She was the rusted splotch-polished real McCoy example of how life should be, and once was.

“The thing about marriage is you are drawn by the sleek sexiness of a sedan or a convertible under the lights on the car lot. Never buy a new car at night, by the way.

“Oh, the shine and the new vinyl smell and the reflections of city lights as you cruise the boulevard make you think you’re in heaven! The AM/FM works just fine, and the steering is tight. The big rubber whitewalls grip the road on every turn, and you only have to tap your breaks to slow or stop on a dime. The clutch is taut, and the gears slide like butter from first to third.

“And there ain’t no crusted-over milkshake spills on the floorboard. The cigarette lighter is virginal, and the ashtray slick and clean. The visors hold where you place them, and the rear view mirror ain’t spotted.

“And it’s just fine as it can be, you say to yourself.

“But you worry. About the first bug marks on the silver bumper that won’t scrub off. Or a ding on the side where some jack-ass parked too close and swung open his door. Or the temperature gauge light popping on suddenly when you are miles from a filling station.

“That first slow leak from a nail in the road. Is that person going to stop at the light or not?

“It’s all a worrisome time.

“Plus your car needs the high-priced gas, not the cheapest leaded fuel, although you are tempted to ask the attendant to use regular instead, knowing your baby will eventually chug and shudder on the road –– right when you’re trying to pass a semi on a two-lane county back road with oncoming traffic.

“And you begin to try to save in other ways, avoiding the manufacturer plugs and points and air filters for the cheaper no-name brands. Less expensive motor oil. Maybe you don’t change the radiator fluid for a while. You quit hand-washing and waxing and zip through the new automats.

“Then it’s not too long before you hear the door hinges and springs creak loudly, and there is a crusted-over milkshake spill or two on the floorboard. The vinyl smell is gone. The cigarette lighter has turned gray-white on the coils, and the ashtray is dusted over and no longer shiny. Rust spots dot the bumpers and other chrome trim. And when you idle at a light, blue-gray puffs of lead-filled exhaust spew from your loud muffler.

“And you think to yourself, ‘It’s time for a trade in.’”

Don’t get me wrong. Dad loved Mom. And he always treated her like the fine Cadillac convertible he saw her to be.

But he was at his happiest when he worked on Sally. And he whistled. And he compared life to his life-long restoration project.

He and Mom stayed married sixty-seven years.

“Don’t ever forget, Son. You gotta kick a few tires to find the right one. And never –– ever –– buy a new car at night.”

Words to live by.

I hear voices

8 Jun

I Hear Voices

By L. Stewart Marsden

I hear voices. They come from out of nowhere like seeds borne by a dark wind, down into my ears and along the canals, edging further into my head where they take root.

That’s the best description I can give when considering how I come to write a poem, or a short story, or play, or argument about something.

Mysterious; elusive; inexplicable.

I hear the conversations between characters, who verbally spar with each other in my stories or plays. I hear the rhythm and rhyme of thoughts that spin into poems about whatever I’m experiencing. I see the stages where the works take place: an ocean, a mountain, a savanna, a city street. I smell the salt air, the pungent sassafras, the dry grass, the wet pavement. I hear the surrounding sounds of the background: a wave gently crashing onto the sand, the kree of a circling hawk, the rustle of the ocean of grasses, a distant ambulance.

Sometimes the voices are therapeutic. They worm into my subconscious and attack my fears and misgivings and self-doubt. They break the grip of things that seem to want to paralyze me and hold me back. And when those things are exposed to the light — as when Mommy bursts in to turn on the light during a nightmare — there are no ogres or monsters or creepy-crawlies under the bed or tucked into my closet.

Just the words. The poems. The stories.

My tinctures and salves are as imaginary as the ailments they address. Just words and thoughts.

Not all hear the voices. It’s both curse and blessing. Curse in the dead of night when they persist to prattle on until I eventually crawl out from my covers to tap them out onto the screen of my iPad. Blessing in when the effort is complete, and awaits the next step. I can fall back into my bed, deeply exhausted, and the voices are quiet.

You might think it’s madness. I suppose to a degree it is. There’s enough to surviving a lifetime than adding to it more things to read, to consider, to mull over.

But the voices don’t care about that. They want their day, whether they are read or not; appreciated or not; understood or not.

Me? For some reason I’m just one of the many vessels through which they choose to flow.

Next time you’re on a plane, or the subway, or walking a crowded street, or lingering in the shade beside a creek — listen.

Do you hear them?

I hope you do.

Looking for comments for Age of Descent

7 Jun

On my workbench is a 2-act play that follows Albert’s necessary life changes after the death of his wife of forty-five years. Although there are changes to be made here and there, I’m satisfied it’s ready for scrutiny.

Again, I’m not looking for a “like,” but comments.

The cast is three people, Albert, his daughter Missy, and Flo, his unexpected new acquaintance after being talked into moving from his New York home to the Honey Haven Retirement Community outside Orlando, FL.

The staging is very simple, as is the lighting.

Older readers should identify with Albert and Flo to some extent. Those with elderly parents should identify with Missy. This is not a play for younger people. I doubt they would appreciate it.

I thank you for reading this still-in-progress play, and for your comments.

L. Stewart Marsden

Click here for the downloadable PDF version of the script.

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Copyright, 2018. No reproductions may be made without my exclusive written permission.

 

 

 

 

 

Six of my favorite works of poetry

7 Jun

Below the six poems are my favorites and best written among my work in my opinion. They are in no particular order. I wrote them between 2011 and 2014. There are others I like, but not as well. There are some I should probably scrap, or start over again. If you would care to read more of my poetry work, select the poetry tab. I don’t mind a comment or two — in fact, I welcome them. — LSM

That Lion There

That lion there,
the one with splotchy, mangy hair
who lies in shade far from his lair
and pants last labored breaths of air —
Once was bold and fierce and strong
and where he walked the wary throng
of meaty prey gave way and long they
watched lest he should charge their way.
He once was young, a cub just born
who clung to mother’s teats and wore no
caution nor no wisdom yet —
essentials that would help him get to lionhood.
And if he could, that lion there
would soon return to those times where
his strength and youth were fresh and fair
and he could do whatever he would damn well do.

Copyright © 2014

 

Waiting to be called

Long laid low along the ridge
the Old Man rests, his crusty visage staring ever upward,
waiting, waiting, waiting to be called,
when he will rise to stand o’re all and look about,
the blue-hazed land rolling out to distanced watered shores,
and he will shake his grizzled beard, and wipe his gnarléd brow
and take his first stiff step, then more,
the residue of his millennialed nap falling to the forested floor
as he glides agefully away with the day’s last light,
his stately shoulders shrouded ‘neath the cooling night.

Copyright © 2014

 

Ah, Autumn!

The Snap! of cheek red’ning chill;
The Crackle! of gold and sable bills underfoot;
The Pop! of jeweled hills in the late day sun;
I love the first bowlful of Autumn,
Poured out and ready to be
Devoured.

Copyright © 2014

 

The Black Cat’s Tail

Crouched to pounce,
White paws afore,
The sleek black cat intently stares,
His lucent eyes, wide and fixed
Upon the object of his glare.
His tail betwixed the left and right,
A metronome of crescendoing beat
Precedes his jumping to his feet
To claim the prize on which his eyes
Have firmly locked.
And, oh, if that small morsel, white and pale,
Had just observed the black cat’s tail!

Copyright © 2014

I’m Sick Today

Today I didn’t feel so well —
My throat was very sore;
And Mama took my temp’rature
And stroked my hair some more;
Then measured out my medicine
Into a silver spoon,
With “down the hatch” she smiled at me,
And then she softly crooned …
“I love my girl, my pretty lass,
Who doesn’t feel so well,
You know I would — if I could —
Ring loud the healing bell!
“And up you’d jump and sing straight out,
‘My gosh! I’m ME again!’
And dance and play and laugh and shout
Until the long day’s end.”
But, sad to say, I’m sick today,
All nestled in the bed,
And I will sleep the day away
And rest my fev’rish head;
And dream wild dreams of Faerie lands —
Of castles, kings and queens;
Then of the prince who’ll take my hand
And fly to lands unseen . . .
Where he and I will rule with care
The lowly and the proud;
And when a subject isn’t well
We’ll ring the bell aloud!
And all’ll jump up and sing straight out
“Oh gosh! We’re US again!”
And dance and play and laugh and shout
Until the long day’s end.
Until the long day’s end.

Copyright © 2015

 

The Bone-Pickers

Down
Down
in lazy slow round circles;
their flight like narrowing funnels;
they light on soft-padded claws
Then bob and weave and haw
with eyes on carrion morsels:
the bits and pieces of once-vibrant things,
now nothing but bone and sinew and chunk-white fat
with red-brown meat, drying, lying like that in the sun.
The bone-pickers
ogle and waddle and gobble in order,
positioned by age and weight and strength,
Peck and tear at length till
what remains are bleached and white.
A gust billows, and hot pillows of grainy dust
Swirl and curl aloft – spin brief tornadic dances and die.
The bone-pickers stretch necks, preen feathers and cry to each other,
then wing their weary way back
up
up
in lazy slow circles;
shrinking in hot-sunned air
till barely there
until another sole soul
lies down with vacant stare.

Copyright © 2011