One Cool, Cloudy Day

“Hey, White Beard.” Mike greeted.  Bob grinned–stroked his chin-whiskers.  Yeah, some got it–some don’t.

“Where’s Alan hiding?”

“I don’t know–saw his girlfriend yesterday.  Said she was working at Dugan’s or some other place,” Mike answered.

Mike hadn’t seen Alan since the day before.

Gravelly voiced Mike, was the group’s unofficial spokesperson.  Alan had been charged with bringing picnic supplies.

“He was a no-show, because he’d stayed up he whole @%&$# night,” Mike speculated.

“Just made it worse for everybody else.” Mike said between coughs.

“How many we got left?” Asked Bob.

“Here’s more hot dog buns. They’ll work the same for brats.”

“Mike–do you want me to run out for some more?”

“There’s no need for it.”

“That cat–comes around here every night looking for a meal.”

“It had better stay away from my food.  Scat, cat!”  Dave threatened.

“Don’t chase it off, Dave,” Mike said.  “We’ve never had any rats.  Or, snakes, either.”

The stray tabby ran, hid somewhere in the kudzu along the park’s edge, near the railroad tracks.



One too many skinned knuckles.  Too many stinging words from a boss that didn’t care about difficulties–they were just excuses.  Excuses crudely compared to anatomical excretory features, that every human possessed.

The tossed sledgehammer traveled in a steady arc, landed in a vacant lot with a dull thud.  Anger boiled over, settled to a steady drip.  It was February for cripe sakes, and he’d been sweating like a pig.  Larry looked around, embarrassed that anger engaged his persona for a few seconds.

“I’m going to get after it, today, Boss.”  Larry said that morning–before he left the garage.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Larry’s boss replied.  “Three rods in eight hours?  What was he paying him for?”

Empowerment was management’s favorite word.  What it really meant was-whatever happened, you were on your own to get it done.

All new subdivision homes required ten-foot ground rods for utility connections.  An easy task in soft soil.  These lots were back filled with a mixture of hard packed clay and slag from a nearby steel mill.  How could he have been so unlucky?  Things had to change in a hurry.

The answer came in the form of a mobile home anchor–a strong, thick steel rod, with an auger screw at the bottom, and a closed loop at the top.  By inserting a wrench handle through the top loop; adding a piece of pipe over the handle for leverage–the crude contraption worked slow, but steady, after breaking surface hard-pan.

It wasn’t standard issue tooling, but it was too short a walk from empowerment to unemployment.

Ghoulish specters of industrial waste lay hidden underground, ready to spring, without so much as a warning given to future generations.  Sacrifices made in the name of balance sheets and low-cost housing.


Are you someone in my neighborhood?  Someone from the area?  From another country?  It doesn’t matter.  You’re just another nameless, faceless, lowlife preying on the unsuspecting.

On an emotional roller coaster for the past few days.  Two letters came in Saturday’s US mail from Social Security.  One was verification of a new on-line account and password.  The other–thanks for your recent change of address request.

I’d requested neither of these things.  “If these requests were made in error, please contact your nearest SSI office.”  Those words cut like cold steel.  Nothing could be done till after the weekend.

As it turned out, someone had, indeed, attempted to hijack my SSI account; gave a fraudulent telephone number–claimed it was mine.  The SSI agent only gave the area code and prefix.  The prefix completely unfamiliar.

I try to be cautious–don’t give out my SSI number.  Will be even more cautious in the future.  There have been several recent episodes of data hacking.  I felt violated–just like once before when my house was burglarized.  Luckily, this infringement was caught in time.  A scare that could have ended much worse.


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



Young hipsters
Hid in darkness
Cat-called, with
Castrati-like voices

Broke convention
Played imaginary games
That, couldn’t be won
Soundly thrashed
Dismissed as insignificant
Escaped, down
An increasingly
Steeper precipice

 Slid faster and faster
Stubbornly, clung to
My little piece
Of the universe
Circled the drain
Drifted, to an
Underground river

Emerged unscathed
Wanted to trust
Evidence pointed
To the contrary
Barriers stood
New depths
Of shallowness
Clearly revealed

Creativity buzzkilled
Mocked by mumblings
Of perverted narcissism
Just, once
To be heard
Just, once
To be understood


No escape

No longer a child

Tales carefully crafted

Told in condescending order

Opinions mattered little

Words that stung

Accusations ran wild

Conclusion jumping

Carefully practiced

Assembled, disassembled

Approved, disapproved

Doubts, distrust

Unattainable goals

Unreasonable expectations

Ungrateful people

Marched in lockstep

Cheshire cat smiles

Discarded dignity

Drifted in the wind