Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Hendersons Will All Be There

when Mr. Kite flies through the air…

I hope you will be too.

Upcoming reading from Hapless Males

Alley Cat Books,  3036 24th St., November 30, 7 p.m.

City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus, December 10, 7:30 p.m.



We Put the Christ in Christies

A Leonardo Sells for an Auction-High 450.3 Million Times, 11-15

Jesus. It’s so obvious. Irony is its own planet. What was that bit about the camel and the eye of a needle?

A disbeliever, airing doubts about the painting’s authenticity, wrote that this Christ doesn’t look like he could save a seat on the bus, much less save the world.

I had a similar reaction a few weeks ago after waiting in line for 45 minutes in Dogpatch for a view through a picket of cellphones. This was the guy who was going to do the heavy lifting? Save the world?

Taking it on face value is a idiotic mistake. It is a devotional painting. It’s not him, it’s him in us. As such, he becomes credible, this gowned and glowing young man with his ringlets. Haven’t we had it with hulking warriors?

But that could be an illusion. Maybe it is not devotional. Maybe it was, from the get-go, a transaction, a commission, the first contribution to the Everest of loot. HIGHEST PRICE EVER!

Adding to its cachet in a roundabout way is the somewhat dubious provenance. Maybe it’s a knockoff from the atelier. Christies only guarantees its true genuine Leonardo-ness for five years from sale date. That’s in the small print .Will I have to forfeit the glow I got from having stood in its presence when the doubters have sway?

Maybe the whole premise is topsyturvy. Maybe the world is not meant to be saved but, as W told us, to be shopped. Already Christmas slop fills the shops. Done yours yet?

What if the world does not and never did require saving, that it is, as Buddhists say, perfect as it is?  Weird as that sounds.

conveyances of the new city

google buses

cement trucks tweeting

Joovy X2

scooter twin stroller


blue bicycles buy Ford

luxury crossover

shopping carts


caffeinated bucks

gun fire trucks

You call that a pumpkin? (a seasonal tale)

My dad Leroy could have passed for normal. He had that slouch you see in men who have mowed the grass one summer too many. He would have liked a John Deere riding mower like the one Ted Powers used to terrorize small dogs but my mom put her foot down. Not until we had a lawn, she said, that looked worth mowing.

Ted Powers earned his 22-h.p. chariot. Would my dad Leroy have the commitment of Ted Powers to park his reason for existence in his driveway and scrape off the grass matted to its underbelly, and while he was at it, rub its flanks until it glistened like racehorse? He waxed it but then why not? Why wax one thing and not another?

Like it was in the realm of possibility, spending that kind of money. Our electricity was shut off a couple of months ago. It’s back on, but it goes to show. Leroy said it was a mix-up. Not to worry.

Leroy is not one to worry. He is still convinced his invention is going to make us a killing. I’ve been hearing about it for as long as I can remember. Every year he gets more secretive about it. He keeps the door his workshop locked, like somebody might steal his genius idea. It has something to do with vacuuming, or vacuums. Nothing practical, you can be sure.

In May we had one of those thunderstorms when the light is the color of weak broth you’re going to be cooked in. The upshot was a barrage of ice cannonballs wrecking all perennials not already wrecked by Mr. Powers’s John Deere. Windows busted, siding dented, shingles chewed up. Our big old cherry tree crashed the roof of the garage. There was far more sadness about the garage than the tree.

But I loved that tree. When I was young I lived in it. I built myself a platform up where the canopy got dense and I swear, nobody knew. Rocked by the sway, it’s where I spent summers.

Splayed over the garage and lawn, the tree was a no-hoper. Mr. Buford came with his chain saw and the old boys had themselves a good time of violence and wood chips. There was probably good lumber in that old tree if someone had a mind to care. By the time the chainsaw sputtered into quiet the yard was dusted in orange.

Sunlight claimed the garden. The burdock swelled, the dandelions constellated. The newly visible back corner where we threw kitchen scraps was a rebuke: these people have not evolved. My mom forbade chicken bones, now that she could see who was coming to dinner.

A plant with leaves as big as platters started to grow out of the scrap pile. Mom said it would hide the mess. Leroy said it was going to take over. Both of them were right. Leroy procrastinated . The Mariners were vying for a playoff spot. The day after the Mariners were eliminated he reached for his machete, hoping his shoulders would sustain the rampage.

Machete poised to strike, a flash of orange arrested his movement. Near the back fence poking out of the pool of leaves was the biggest pumpkin he ever saw. It was the size of a Rottweiler.

For the next month that pumpkin was our first household pet. In the late afternoon after school Leroy and I would visit it and debate when to pick it. Common sense, based on laziness, won the day. What were going to do with it? Make a giant jack-o-lantern? Fifty pies? The leaves around it turned gray and crisp from frost and it lay there like a cyst, rotting from the bottom up. Nobody wanted to touch it. A November freeze took the starch out of it and it sagged but still it wouldn’t go away, a billboard for another thing our family failed at. Finally Leroy got out his shovel, dug a hole and gave it a civil burial.

In spring the grave sprouted fifteen youngsters. Leroy selected the most vigorous two and directed them in opposite directions. He bought fertilizer; he did research to figure out what blend of minerals pumpkins like best; he set up an irrigation system. If he had done as much for his kids, would I be dissing him now?

It was a magical day when spelunking he discovered a plump pumpkin hidden beneath a giant leaf. In a matter of days a host of others vied for attention, but the firstborn, racing ahead, got his affection. He culled the siblings, thinking they might divert nutrients for their own pitiful selves. And his baby grew, and grew. That’s what he started calling it, Baby. I was getting attached to it, too.

By late summer the question was, how was Leroy going to move it? He had decided it needed to be admired. He was going to take it to the county fair. Our wheelbarrow wasn’t big enough, too liable to teeter. Leroy built a pallet with roller-skate wheels. He constructed a rig with cables and pulleys and a canvas cradle. His biggest accomplishment was talking Mr. Powers into hitching a cable to his John Deere and putting his 22 horses to work. It was a sight, the canvas slapping together as it swaddled Baby, and Baby ascending higher and higher until Leroy could back the pickup under her. Then to applause, Baby was lowered into a cradle of straw. Leroy was a hero in the neighborhood.

We expected problems unloading the pumpkin at the fairgrounds but somebody made a call and a tractor with a front loader appeared and in minutes Baby was on a platform in the metal shed designated, Pride of the Garden.

We went home. The next day ribbons covered the walls like measles next to jars of pickles and clusters of beets, vases with mums and sunflowers, stuff you pull from the ditches on the country roads. Ribbons of all colors, green red, blue purple. Baby had a brown one. Honorable Mention. Pathetic words if ever there were. I asked one of my classmates, Niles in 4-H who showed sheep, if there was a reason our pumpkin was under-appreciated. “You call that a pumpkin?” he said, adding that the next barn over was devoted entirely to pumpkins. The real ones.

In that barn under spotlights were pumpkins big as my mom’s hatchback. Several had a sponsor, a seed company out of Missouri. The biggest one supposedly weighed more than a thousand pounds. It lounged on the ground like a tipsy hippo.

We didn’t pick up Baby after the fair was over, even though somebody left a couple of messages to do that.

It’s February. At supper tonight Leroy was dishing out Rocky Road ice cream and he said, “Did you know pumpkins can put on 40 pounds a day? The world record holder is over twenty-six hundred pounds. That’s a fact.”

“That’s sixty-five days exactly, no remainder,” I said. I want him, whatever he’s thinking, to think it’s possible.

When my bowl was empty, he gave me a second helping over my mom’s objections. She wants me lose weight, worried all of a sudden. We finished the whole half gallon.

The Sower

“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.

Emily Dickinson

Hold onto your heads.

what to say


cardboard, thick stretches of it

on recycling evening.

The package from TARGET

swaddled in plastic cartridges

a dishdrain. My neighbor wrestling his excess

announces glad tidings

we can put plastic bags, clear ones

into recycling.

A white-bearded unstable man

has taken up lodging in the entryway of the empty storefront

around the corner.

The sun declines, the nights longer and colder.

Halloween, zombies, skeletons, gravestones.

Death, death, death. That’s what we want to talk about

though the myth is we never do.

We never talk about life. We barely know what to say.

INFLATION for Dummies

Sometime with the last decade it became a requirement. If there was a bouncey castle, the progeny had less chance to grow up deprived. And so at every birthday (or pre-birthday), at every company picnic, the generator was set up and the castle inflated. Anxious parents watched their sprouts bounce. The generator spewed fumes and noise, but it was for the general happiness.