My Story

There are things I like to avoid lie the plague—like dead people. I went to John’s apartment to take care of some business, you know, and there he was, sprawled on the kitchen floor, dead as a doornail.

Well, I took the tiger by the tail and called the cops. They got there pretty quick, too, considering that the sugar from their donuts was a thick as thieves around their lips.

They were like a kid in a candy store, snapping pictures of the deceased and dusting for fingerprints. Sgt. Tomlin sat me down in the living room to take my statement. “Why did you come here?” he asked.

“Well, we, John and me that is, we are scout leaders,” I told him. “We needed to discuss an upcoming trip to Philmont.”

“What kind of trip?” he asked. Seriously? If only these walls could talk, I mean, the man couldn’t think outside the box much less find his way around the inside of the box. I’m not even sure he could think outside a bag or recognize beans when the bag was open. The man is like a low hanging fruit. I thought about saying a flippant “Acid trip, Dude,” but instead I told him about Philmont’s incredible outdoor scout program.

After about an hour of Tomlin’s stumbling interview, he joined the other cops searching for clues. They say every dog has its day, but this was not Tomlin’s day, nor was it Detective Billson’s day. It was I who found the threads from a red pair of pants, still clutched in John’s cold dead fingers. Billson ragged Tomlin for overlooking the thread he himself had missed, sort of the pot calling the kettle black. They both needed to wake up and smell the coffee.

But at the end of the day they got their man. Seems that the man in the red coat that was missing the thread found in John’s hand had stopped at the 7-11 store across the street to stock up on beer. The rookie cop left outside to guard the patrol cars caught him jaywalking.

Well, now I need to find someone to replace John for our Philmont trip. There are plenty of fish in the sea they say, so I should have no problem finding someone soon.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

(If you’ve stuck with me this far–this was a deliberate writing exercise to see how many bad clichés I could work into a short story.)


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Filed under Humor, Scouts, Short Story

First Page of the New Writing Pad

First page lies fresh, so neat and clean,
virgin white not yet disdained
by scratched out words
or stroked through lines.
What dare I scribe upon this page?

This crisp, fresh sheet
demands profundity–
yet that which clouds my mind
is how bugs dance about
the outside light; or how

a madman half a world away
can pose a threat this summer day
when all the world lies languid
in the glorious sun, and brows
are swept by zephyr’s kisses.

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Garden Lesson

Always weeds
no herbicide will kill—
just break my back with gloves
and shovel, hoe and rake.

Rare the seeds,
so softly tucked with rich
invigorating dirt
and compost gently spread,

that quickly speeds
to break the soil, but
to wither in the heat
or feed the hungry bugs,

while the weeds
assassinate the rest.
(And yet I never learn,
I do it all again).

These violent deeds
waged in my garden patch
these sixty years, and still
I plant futility—

nothing intercedes.
the goat’s head and the spurge
the bindweed and the dock
shall bury me at last.

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Filed under gardening, Poetry


It must be noted (shocking as it is)
despite events of yesterday, that yet
the sun still rose today; a robin sang,
perched on a maple branch; a squirrel tried
to raid another’s stash; a finch scrounged seed;
my cat demanded filling of his bowl;
the Rockies reared their snow-white heads to God;
and I arose, like any other day–
donned clothes, ate food, and read the morning news;
then hurried off to work, came home, read late,
then slept as if this day was just the same
as yesterday, before our lives were changed,
and all would never be the same again.

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Filed under Mornings, Poetry, Sunrise

My Great Grandfather–John Carroll Gooch

To honor the 150th anniversary of the conclusion of the Battle of Gettysburg, I offer the following poem. My Great Grandfather was a Civil War veteran.

This silent hero that I hold,
he spoke so rarely of his deeds,
thirteen, and dressed in Union blue,
a southerner against the South.

Just months before he died, he packed
his bags and traveled down Arkansas
to join the aging men who once
had fought upon this rebel soil.

Back home the only thing he said,
“I found the rock I slept upon
that distant night and slept again
upon that rock,” and nothing more.

Oh not one word of marching on
their lines, of bullets whistling by,
of friends who fell, or sleeping on
his arms, of the retreat, or how

while foraging, was taken by
the enemy, was held two years
a prisoner–just of the rock
he slept upon and nothing more.

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Filed under Arkansas, P.O.W., Poetry, The Civil War

Canto 1

This is such strange and most beastly stuff.
Grand themes are called for–glorious cantos–
not bone-marrow-sucked-dry old bones, dust
to be swept up and tossed out. Sure and tough
poetry, able to set people ambling
into life chockfull of such light and ferocity
as to think love teeming with logos and theos.

This is such crabbed tracings of canticles,
away with such poetry–no more writing such piffle.
I am cribbed in soft chantings of shibboleths.
Find a new voice. Be fierce to avoid
tame stuff. Be hard and sere to your heart.

(This is an oldie from 20 years ago)

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Filed under Creativity, Poetry

Bonfire on the Beach


It was twilight.  The sea embraced the sun and our last fling

ere August passed away.

We combed the beach

(we five now scattered as the shells)

and gathered driftwood for the night

like the bone-white sand dollars  shorn of their beauty

we had earlier gathered.


how driftwood is renewed

between bonfires.

We bore the sea-bleached wood like jewels

(they once were jade-green jewels

In forests far away)

to the ragged pit we’d hastily scooped.


I, the fire-master,

gathered up the orts that quickly flared,

added larger bits and then a log or two.  Then we,

like the parents of our race,

looked up into the sky to catch each star’s


We sang.

We danced

to crashing waves

and a coffee can turned into a drum.

In the fire’s flicker our faces changed

and all our ancient ancestors peered out of our eyes

sang out our throats.


Then came the clouds and rain and all was as

when  man first peered out of a tree

upon a glorious storm in Eden’s lost grandeur.

We embraced the rain

racing waves like sanderlings

yet coming back again

and yet again

unto our tribal fire.


And now, we five,

scattered as the shells we gathered then,

our past the shell I now display

shorn of all its beauty.

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Filed under dance, Music, Poetry, The Ocean