11,041 vagabonds plus:
"Are we on? We're on? This is Arnie Mellish and I'm standing here near these well-worn infamous steps with Melvin Groshmeyer, famed stuntman coordinator from the 1930s and on up to today. Mr. Groshmeyer".
"Milton is my first name".
"You, sir, have a storied career here in coaching some of the big names in Hollywood in the art of falling both forwards and backwards down flights of stairs. Would that be like they were shot, or maybe like they were drunk and lost their balance? How about vertigo"?
"You've trained stars of screen how to artfully tumble down stairs such as these to our left".
"Perhaps you could recount some of the famous stars?"
"I don't recall their names".
"Not one, sir? Surely a well-known name we all know and cherish. You told me earlier before we arrived, on the phone, remember, you've encountered some of the big names".
"Well, sir, you got me there. I guess I might've exaggerated a bit. But I did nudge a bunch from the top".
"Can you give us one name? Please"?
"No. No. But I can show you where they're buried".
"This is Arnie Mellish, Eleven o'clock Nightbeat news".
the missing tape
I have this tape. Thee Tape. 18 and half infamous minutes. Nixon. Tell no one. Listen:
This is one minute in:
Dean: I can get it for you.
Mitchell: Does it have a scope?
Haldeman: G--D-----, they all come with scopes.
Nixon: F---. We only want to deport Lennon. Um, not kill him.
Ehrlichman: We have other problems, Mr. President.
Nixon: What? Ringo?..for crying out loud. S---.
[sound of ice cubes hitting bottom of empty glass]
You want me to go on? OK. Here, about 9 minutes in:
Dean: No one will know. Ten thousand silent dollars. I can cut the check now.
Nixon: S---. I'm glad my mother isn't around..you know..[pause]She was a saint.
Mitchell: Mr. President.
[silence. unknown throat clears. distant clock can be heard ticking, and two chimes. President starts to weep]
Nixon: G-- D-----, all over my shirt. F---, my glass is empty.
Get this. 14 in:
Mitchell: [singing]ooga chuka ooga chuka!
Nixon: Hell, Mitch, no. Wrong song. Not reggae s---. John, the one you were singing last week?
Dean: [timid singing] Hey, won't ya play, another somebody done somebody wrong song.
Nixon: That's it! Go!
Ehrlichman: Mr President!
Dean: Shut up. He wants to hear it.
Ehrlichman: You little piece of..
Dean: Just because you have more hair on your chest..
[sound of scuffling]
Nixon: Boys! Boys!
Dean: Let me up!
Nixon: I'm deleting this s---. For good. G-- D-----, this is the Oval Office!
No. Wait. I know. Listen how it ends:
Nixon: John, you stand by Mitch. Bob, over here. Now. Again.
Everyone: [singing off key, hesitatingly] Sometimes. Sometiiiiimes I feel like a motherless child...
G-- D--- amazing.
Upper crust silver shield served
Stale morsel remnants
Edward Hopper, 1922
It's quite alright. Come forward, I will not bite. You probably can not tell, but I was third in line when I was rescued. I do not know what happened to those behind me. I do know that we all did not know our mothers and fathers, and we'd cry in the night. Next thing I remember was shivering, shaking hard, being lifted up, my sore bony ribs wrapped into a soiled blanket. I broke away and ran up to a fence. I hate fences, but I stayed. It's why I circle before I sleep, to check escape openings. But I don't think I'm leaving.
You may touch me. Not so bad, now. I love the warm kitchen, and I have a steel dish with my name glued on it. See my name around my neck. Food is so much better here. Especially when I hear my name and tender meat is given to me from above. For that I bring them shoes in the hall.
One thing bad. Sometimes I hear the newspaper being slowly rolled up, and I know I'm in a world of hurt. Like one time I dove at stupid cat making a play for buzzing fly at the windowsill, only the window was there in front of me like right now. Over and over again, I do not understand. Please sit beside me. Pardon this kiss. Anyway...Master laughs at cat but it drives me batty. So I dive and next thing I know it's rolled newspaper where it hurts.
umbrellas of magburg
Sitting in a train station in a heavy downpour you can quickly become the interlocutor of umbrellas. You must keep it to yourself, for you do not want to broadcast like the man guarding the swimming pool, announcing the waiting times of those wanting to jump in after having eaten. "Egg salad sandwich? Forty five minute wait. Beans, you say? Two hours, young man, straight to the bottom"!
That young woman with the umbrella held back behind her hat-less head may look as cheerful as the Morton Salt girl, but you observe her pale hand gripping the handle, no spinning, rigid. 'Broken-hearted', you nod to no one, she has six months of drinking milk right out of the container from her drafty apartment fridge before her heart will discover her very own Gene Kelly.
A man steps forward. Nice suit, heavy over-coat, fedora. Black, lifeless umbrella directly over his head, water pouring evenly overboard like clogged gutters above a nicotine-stained insurance building. He's right out of a Hitchcock movie, assassin stepping forward with a twin umbrella, gunfire, chocolate syrup blood hemorrhaging from the wound. A woman screams, and the shooter escapes in a forest of melancholy black vinyl mushroom tops. You want to scream, 'That man has a gun'! but you remain silent trying to read the conspiratorial plan from his magpie black eyes at an awkward angle.
You're back underneath the eaves on that hard bench, safe from the spraying mist. Your umbrella is still rolled, fastened with a solitary snap. You hold it briefly at your nose - there's not a lovelier scent than an old umbrella shaken and dried natural, a reminder of meeting your true love as she descended from the train in a warm rain all those years ago, a few wayward drops spotting the shoulders of her cream-colored coat. How you held her close with one arm under that umbrella and kissed her.
You shiver and sip cold coffee out of a paper cup as you unwrap wax paper revealing a soggy tuna salad sandwich. A combo preventing you from ever swimming again. A promise: no matter how hard it will rain you will burst forward, spinning the umbrella above your head at a slight angle backwards, water concealing your lonely tears.
photo by George F. Mobley
'This way, up these stairs, without delay, take my hand'.
Her hand was in his in a heartbeat, and they were running in step, footfall echoing on marble.
'In here', he said, looking back at her, noticing the frown. 'It's ok', he assured.
She smiled shyly, not quite making eye contact.
'This is the window I was telling you about. The portal of Spring'. He looked at his watch.
'We're in time'. He stood behind her then, and nudged her towards the floor-to-ceiling window. 'This is your place in the Sun', he proclaimed, in an unexpected sonorous tone, startling her a bit. She shivered.
It was 12:57. The sun crossed the vernal equinox heading northward, and at that precise moment sunlight swept into the room like a spotlight. He heard a sharp intake of breath from the girl. "The heart of the Sun bowed to her where she stood," is what he scribbled with swift hand into his sketchbook later that evening, by candlelight at his roll-top desk.
'And now - one additional minute in the morning, and one precious extra minute at night. Just for us, don't you see?'
She was silent, her eyes closed, chin up towards the glorious rays of fire.
'And those dreadful five o'clock sunsets are long gone', he said, wrapping his arms around her, pushing hair away with his face, a kiss on the back of her neck.
She held up five fingers. 'Long gone,' she whispered.
photo by Kelsey Hannah
Peel away dulled frost
Moon's shadowed pearl eye winking
Nudged heart, slow warming
Chase other Sudden haikus at
'recuerda mi corazon,' exclusive home of
Haiku My Heart
photo credit: stock photo from Bing search
the crumbs rent
'Oh, this'll do fine'.
'Very good, Mrs. Crumb'. The landlord did not make eye contact the whole time.
'Wait a moment. Let's not be hasty, dear', Mr. Crumb hastened with palm out.
'Oh. But darling, just look at the decor. That sublime ceiling lamp'.
'The natural tilt. The unique shape. And the color!'
'Why, darling, can't you see, the glass shade is the same fabulous tint as the inside of the parlor chair's cushion'.
The kitchen cabinet slipped from its last chance cliff-hanging hold. All three noticed with tilting heads. The landlord cleared his throat and looked down at his shoes in the silence. A rat scratched for mercy inside one of the uninsulated walls.
'And such a lovely oil-cloth for the dinner table'.
The husband faked clearing his throat. He pointlessly smiled at the landlord.
'I don't smell anything, darling'.
'No. The range. Gas or electric, sir?'
'Gas. When it works'.
'Look, you folks sink a hundred dollar bill in this apartment and you got yourselves a real showplace'. A section of glass pane fell onto the floor from a stiff breeze from the narrow brick view outside. It did not shatter. The landlord spoke quickly as an unnecessary diversionary tactic.
'Really? Which one?' Mrs. Crumb looked at the landlord with a surprised expression as though a statue in the park with pigeon droppings was talking to her.
'Renter. A friend that knew a guy that took care of their lawn. One time', his voice fading.
Mrs. Crumb gave a you-see-let's-not-miss-our-opportunity look at Mr. Crumb.
'Yes. I believe we'll take it'!
Lee Plaza Hotel, Detroit
photo by Bonnie Beechler
You are Leo and there's nothing you can do about it. A good day, however, to ask for a raise unless you're not working. Your moon appears fat so wear loose clothing this week. Don't bother large animals with sharp fangs whilst they eat. Pretend to be asleep if strangers attempt to converse with you. Or just hum a show tune. Invest wisely in 18th century pottery. Check the bottom for a spittoon manufacture stamp. Resolve not to use a slingshot to feed your mother-in-law and remind her you are the king of the jungle before the frying pan strikes your temple. Routine is your forte like the clockwork changing of the guard. Guard your change. Especially from teenagers today.
art: The Sleeping Gypsy, 1897
-- Henri Rousseau
I touched his cold forehead with the back of my un-gloved hand. No doubt about it, he was gone. One last entry in a shaky hand, and then resting his head upon the journal once more. At first, after moving to the window for better light, I thought it was cryptic code, but then I saw it was just a seventeen syllable poem which we happily shared in correspondence occasionally.
I buried him in the field beyond the moss bungalow under tall grass. Carefully gathering his journals documenting a long arduous work, I wrapped them tightly in clear plastic, stored them snug in my back pack, and went home to my study, hiding them behind the bookcase. I had a restless night, debating whether I should present the archive of the great man to the university, doubters all. Before sunrise, I dressed quickly, drank some three day old coffee, and walked in a light blinding mist over to my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, of 221B Baker Street. He swung open the door before I knocked and pulled me inside by the arm. He was pale, and clearly without sleep, a robe over his clothes. We lit cigarettes, but did not speak at first as we settled into chairs facing one another. He rubbed his hands, and starred at the ceiling, chuckling.
Truths long ridiculed
battled haunting suspicions
make no bones, the end
"Pray tell, Dear Friend, why did you do such a horrifyingly sloppy job of burying the good professor"?
I got up and went to the window and peered out into the sheer blackness, knowing he would be a step ahead of me. I was silent.
"Was it his acromegaly?"
"Yes, I suppose...I...I...guess". I turned to Holmes. "He was in the last horrible stage, you know. I did not want..", I started.
"You wanted him to be remembered by his work. It is a noble cause," he said, soothingly.
"Go home. I will explain all to the constable".
"Thank you, Mr. Holmes".
"Nevermind, stay, I'll ring Mrs. Hudson for some eggs and a fresh decanter of java"!
art: Poet's Sleep,1989
by Chang Houg Ahn
There was this girl, a writer, always wore blue jeans, white top, men's suspenders. Walking distance from my place, corner of 53rd and Sycamore. You know the place, right? - There's a bike sign, second floor up. I'd visit occasionally, we'd talk awhile, formalities of a bucket listing, and I'd sorta pantomime an outline of a short vignette, her bright magpie eyes unblinking. I'd knew I hit a good idea when she exhaled through her nose. She'd smile, and say something pithy like, 'change that third act by using an "or" instead of an "and"'. And she'd have a burst of energy, snap one suspender with a thumb, sit and type at least two pages, me silent looking out the window, a slow methodical foot fall from above.
Sullivan upstairs. Did you ever meet him? Walked with two canes, talked slow. God of children. I called him that because damaged children breathlessly stepped their flimsy-spoke bikes up the wooden stairs, knocked on his door, and entered into that marvelous apartment full of spare bike parts in glass jars and frame skeletons hanging from the walls, and he'd whistle through his nose a patience and solve any dilemma. The truing of bike spokes with a small metal circular tool he could hide in his hand and reappear out of a child's ear like a magic trick. Their mouths aghast, eyes wide in wonder, this wonderful man hardening their tires and sending them out to the street, balanced, no more wobble, life wonderful.
The writer and I visited Sullivan from time to time. Small talk, shared silent laughs as we finished each others lines, eventually a parable about lives unbalanced, only mended with a good truing. The secret of life, the writer leaning forward, attentive and nodding. He showed us once - flip the bike, just continue to spin the tire, slowly now, a little at a time with a short tightening or counterclockwise touch of the spoke nut. He'd nose whistle over the writer's left shoulder when it was her turn. 'That's good, you know now', he assured her. She would hug him and he would look away, feigning embarrassment.
She called late, must've been three in the morning, weeping. 'Sullivan is dead. He fell. Please come, Phil'. I pulled on a sweater and started to run, thinking all the way it was a dream, not quite sure why I was running. The coroner was just leaving, joking with a cop, at the bottom step. He was smiling and I wanted to punch him. Who exactly do they call when a coroner is dead? I recalled that out loud to the writer two weeks later in the cool basement of the main library, where she could secretly smoke and write after she had packed her one suitcase and carried away the typewriter in a back pack, staying with me now, two apartments left unfurnished instead of one.
How I'll always think of her
gazebo beyond the hidden willow
Orion the hunter above, warming campfire embers
the pale blue-eyed lass of birchwood meadow
pure heart, playing an old piano
tossing her wild mane, the dance of 88
tumbling breathless, blushing
still lifes - 10 word poem
The Mill, 1964, by Andrew Wyeth
Winter's less traveled snowy landscapes
become indelibly quiet still lifes
Musician in the Rain
by Robert Doisneau
He only came in from the rain to look for a phone, dragging his cello an inch off the wet pavement. The windows were boarded snugly in rotted splinters with the words 'The Mission' stenciled on caked-up gray glass above the front door. His coat had been stolen at the corner when he bent to tie his right shoe. He had looked all around him as he stood frozen by grief in one place. 'Gone,' he whispered, and it began to rain harder.
The woman with wimple and veil welcomed the soaked cellist with profuse warmth, but all he needed was to get to a phone.
'May I use your phone to call a constable?'
'Come in. Sit and have some hot vegetable soup, Dear'.
Before he could repeat the question fully he found himself seated, the clothed cello leaning against a white-washed wall, seen as an object somewhere between admiration and suspicion by his downtrodden lunch companions, and a stained steel bowl of hot vegetable soup placed before him along with a hard biscuit. Weeks later, during a seven course meal celebrating the end of tour, he would recall how hot the soup from the mission was, the floating fresh green beans, soft potatoes and green peppers, tasty rich broth salted lightly, and his face would flush in warmth. And how the phone call was never made, heavy coat with wallet thick in cash and credit cards forever vanished, and how there was a used overcoat his size on a slouching coat-hanger given him by the unsuspecting nun.
He stopped at the door and turned to her, head bent weighted with shame, looking at his shoes. Thunder rose and fell in the distance.
'I am well-off, Sister', he said, one flat octave above a whisper. He just about told her his salary as he raised his eyes to hers.
'You'll need this too', she replied in a kind obliviousness, touching his arm, presenting him with an umbrella, handle chewed by a faithful cocker spaniel. Back towards the direction of the kitchen someone called her name. When he looked at her he noticed she was calm, and he wondered how it was possible from all the weight.
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