Other Side Of Fear

Monsters with huge featherless wings

Left Henry weak in the knees

He fell away from the others–worthless

One-hundred free tickets for $1.00 each

Then, they really weren’t free–were they?

Bare light bulbs cast harsh shadows

Shadows rocked, back-and-forth

Kept tempo with attic rocking chairs

Henry sat and watched hypnotically

Waited for the curtain to fall

When your chance to leave came

You didn’t take it–he told himself

There would be a face revealed

He couldn’t bear to see it



wagon train

Circle the wagons, grab the women-folk and children–hold on to your brain cells.  American researchers discovered a “Stupidity Virus.”

From “Newsweek:” Virus ATCV-1 from algae found in lakes and streams can attack human DNA.  It’s not fatal, although the deleterious effects on the brain are real.  Testing revealed, cognitive abilities, learning, and memory were impaired.  In other words, affected humans and animals were found to be less intelligent.

“Regular Pot Smokers Have Shrunken Brains,” according to an LA Times” article.  Experimental mice and humans, were studied for four years.  Marijuana smokers, compared to non-smokers, had less gray matter in the orbital frontal cortex area of the brain.

This part of the brain controls reward, motivation, decision-making, and addictive behaviors.  The study was inconclusive as to whether pot smoking was the cause of brain shrinkage or brain shrinkage caused chronic pot smoking.

Could there be a “Stupidity Virus” link with pot smoking, consequent brain shrinkage and/or risky behaviors?

A total of twenty-three states and DC allow marijuana in some form. In four states, marijuana is legalized for recreational usage–including Oregon and Colorado.

Should a follow-up study be commissioned to determine whether or not chronic pot smoking causes weight gain due to increased consumption of tortilla chips, donuts and snack foods?

Furthermore, could there be a connection between pot smoking and the meteoric rise in Netflix and Redbox “Cheech and Chong” movie rentals?        

Mellowed out, Colorado Chamber of Commerce spokesperson, Mark Rumsley, declined to be interviewed, at his suburban Denver home, simply replying, “Hey Dude–Dave’s not here.”

Would someone please discover an “Intelligence Virus.”  Because I’m getting dumber by the minute.




I-80 in fall

Somewhere past mile marker 61 on a pleasant, mid-winter afternoon, a minivan edged closer to the left lane of a busy rural interstate highway.  The sun was low in the western sky.

Tom was warm and comfortable, with the cruise control set at seventy miles per hour.  Every muscle in Tom’s body jerked to attention as they crossed the rumble strip.

A stab on the brake pedal and a jerk of the wheel, set laws of inertia into motion.  The minivan twisted and turned in the grassy median like an ornament suspended from a wind chime.

“Honey, you’re off the road!” Betty screamed.

“I must have fallen asleep; hold on tight!”

”Turn around and go straight–you useless piece of junk!” Tom commanded.  His voice wavered in rhythm with the bumps.

Please God, get me out of this mess, Tom prayed.  I could use some help. Don’t let Frederick grow up without a mother and father.  If you have to–take me.

“Hold on to Mommy.  Daddy’s taking us on a wild ride,”  Betty tried her best to make it a game.  Frederick’s stuffed animals and story books bounced off onto the floor.

Betty wanted to scream; instead, she said, “Look, elephant’s jumping all over the place.  Isn’t that funny?”  Frederick lay across the rear fold-down seat shielded by his mother’s body.

Betty felt guilty–neither of them had seat belts on.  If only Frederick survived, could her parents handle raising a three-year-old?

Tom had the worst hollow sensation in the pit of his stomach–part fear, part guilt.  Maybe it was already too late?  …One mistake, too many?  

There was only one solution–steer out of trouble.  Brakes were useless.  Tom eased off the accelerator–the car slowed.  

So many “if’s”–If the back-end didn’t spin around too far?  If the car didn’t hit something and roll over?  If they didn’t head into oncoming traffic?

“Honey, I love you,” Tom said.  “Knowing you has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  I want you to know that–in case we don’t make it.”

Motion changed to stillness–stillness without regret.  Tom, for the first time in his life, said goodbye like he meant it.







lightning--Jason Barrett

–Photo by Jason Barrett–

Ran the gauntlet
Ahead of the storm
Black clouds billowed
Lightning flashed
Fears disappeared
When exposed to
Light of day
Nobody cared
Where I’d been
Where I was bound
From absolute beauty
Came absolute reality
Life was precious
And, could suddenly
Unexpectedly, be
Taken away


jumping fish

Silvery juvenile mullet acrobats
Played in smooth bay waters
Locals knew mullet were fish
And not bad haircuts
It was after sunrise
The neighborhood slept in

In spite of their lethargy
The world was the same place
With the same dramas
The same poverty
The same insurrections

For reasons that
Might never happen
A secret took shape
On a bright sunny day
Best to be prepared–in case
Civil liberties went away

An under construction
Swimming pool
Fooled all
Except one
With concrete walls
Poured thick and deep

Outsiders could never know
Hidden underneath
Was a survival bunker
With no guarantees for tomorrow
Things held dear could disappear
It was best to be prepared–today



We exaggerate misfortune and happiness alike. We are never as bad off or as happy as we say we are. –Honore de Balzac–

Superlatives spewed from
Every pore–rendered every
Spoken word null and void
Cornucopias of awesomeness
Left room for little else
What was to be or what was not
Lost in one-way love affairs
That turned out to be
Extended glad hands
Offered big bundles
Of sympathy, tied
With ribbons
Of false piety
The rest, accepted disaster
As their lot in life
Moved on, to
Other things


Wealth and want equally harden the human heart.  –Theodore Parker–

Did I dare
Trust this
Less familiar
Than random
Strangers, passed
On the street

Someone, with
Literary talent
Talent, tied to
Impassioned pleas
For money
Pleas, made in
Virtual anonymity
Like evangelists did
On old-time radio

Was it my right
To question motive
Not knowing, the
Content of soul?
Or, was it an
Innate desire
For control?
Would I find what
I expected to see?

If I could
I’d gladly share
The burden–the pain
Because, there’s more
To life, than money
I’ve never heard anyone say
They had more than enough
From the poorest pauper
To the richest king

Money for what?
It wasn’t quite clear
It wasn’t, that
I didn’t care
Penance for guilt
Real or nonexistent
Didn’t make sense
The least, always
Gave the most