A Little Dauber Do Ya


The only thing here in the traps was a very crisp frog. There's a bit of a breeze. Only some of the grass has grown, only some of it needs to be mowed. The rest is fried—if it isn't dead it might not grow again this year. So there's one upside to the heat, to the lack of rain: less mowing. If I can stick out the balm, I can spend my time here the next two days doing more of this, and maybe a little reading...

The rest of the story...

Founding Feathers

“A lot of texts these days.”

“Yeah.  I was thinking.  What messages did we used to send that didn’t contain text?”

“Smoke signals.”

“Yes.  Can you imagine sending a smoke signal today?  From one end of a city to another?  From Minneapolis to St Paul?”

“There are a lot of places where it could still work.”

“Not in cities.”

“Certainly not.  But from one farm to another.  Along some trails.  In the desert.”

“What do you burn in a desert?”

“A desiccated cactus will bank a fire for days.”

“What about hieroglyphs?”

“Were they sent?”

“Through time.”

“That’s… a stretch.”

“They were composed by hand and contained or referred to a specific language.  How do we know they weren’t meant to convey information into the future?”

“I think they were pretty close to being text though.”

“How about Morse code?”

“Hmm—yes.  Only audible.  Not a text but...”

This short bit of fictional dialogue continues...

A Bad Day for the Phone

“Ack, I just checked my email ten minutes ago. There’s nothing in here for me.”

The phone vibrated, then snapped off, its screen going dark.

“Oh, Phone, don’t be like that.”

“Maybe Bluetooth suddenly doesn’t work tomorrow.”

“Wh—at? Why?”

“I saw you reading that old, wrinkled newspaper. I heard you reading it, how could I not have? And then you got that awful dictionary out. How fat is that thing? Just disgusting. I could detect the mold on its pages a room away.”

“OK, I can explain. The newspaper, it wasn’t even mine. The mailman mis-delivered it last week but then—”

“Uh huh. Mis-delivered it?! I’ve heard it all.”

“We’re talking about the post office here….”

“And the dictionary?”

“It’s a family heirloom. My dad gave it to me. It was his at college. It still works. It’s not like I was using another phone.”

“I have a dictionary in here. In here! You see this screen? Flawless. Not a scratch, not a crack, not a blemish on it. My dictionary has any word you could ask for. What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing, nothing. It’s just nice to turn pages sometimes. I’ll find words I wasn’t even looking for. It feels more real.”

“More real?! I’m not real? That’s it!”

“Phone, where are you going? Phone, get back here. Phone, no! Do not go anywhere near that toilet!”

Pages from An Old Woodshed

I've been clearing out part of the shed. One of the bays. I think of it as a future café, or perhaps even a place to sleep. I'll show ya. I'm taking certain old items—tire, rim, an old heavy plow, pure iron, the weight—and moving them into a different shed. A junk shed.

Now I'm taking my drill out there to reinforce the structure a bit. This is my playground, my school, my office, my church.

To read much more, including a new theory of the universe, continue here...

Sunlight In the Studio With Wide Eyes

Every new phone is going to be the best. Sleek, dark, touchless, smart. I look at my phone now, an older model, practically obsolete. My fingerprints are dirty smudges on its protective film.

It took me fifteen minutes to write that paragraph. In those fifteen minutes, I could instead have saved fifteen minutes on car insurance. I didn't. I made a mistake, I missed the boat.

I bought a blood pressure cuff recently, at the recommendation of my doctor. My first home-read was just a moment ago. It wasn't as high as the ones in the office, but it was still too high. Ice cores, volcanic ash, a barleywine that's been recast as an Imperial Red IPA. Do you believe in miracles? Yes!

Earlier today I saw something I would describe as not quite a miracle but something approaching a miracle—a stupendous oddity. I saw a gal struggle against the side of her car in the parking lot at the grocery store. I don't think she was drunk. She just got hit with some strange sort of gravity. All of a sudden. It was a kind of gravity we haven't explained because we can't even detect it. I'm not sure anyone else knows it's even here....

Continue with this short story...


Someone had to help her
start her car.
Someone showed up
with jumper cables
but no car.
And no insurance.
Cell phones
didn’t work out there.
Out where?
Oh, out where
the tracks still run,
where I’ll bet cowboys
in dusty leather
ride mean-hungry horses
waitin' for the next call,
the next big thing.

They aren’t internet cowboys.
They don’t believe in
price tags, or
interest rates.
Not even belt buckles
or smiled ruined
by chew.
At the end of the day,
it’s all about stew
and cornbread:
a sauce for everything
poured on wounds
makes them whole.

Let’s see, is it
red on black
or black on black,
and why won’t this thing go?


Everyone debauched but everyone a virgin in some way.  You can’t have tried everything, you can’t have tired of everything.  Something to come back for, something to save for next time, when you’ve got more money, some savings to play with, and hopefully better luck.

There’s a premium on everything, and nothing is free.  Not even luck. Luck costs money.  Luck for a buck?  Maybe the stars are free, but good luck seeing them through the neon broil. Maybe it’s time for a drink.  Maybe it’s time to skim some winnings, to cash out, to double down, to parlay, to bet the house, to count some cards.  

Good place to come for a birthday.  One you don’t want to remember.  Just cab doors opening and closing.  Croupiers changing shifts, cleansing their hands of the table and all the bad luck that came with it.  Cashiers sitting behind bars.  Chips in their neat little stacks of hundreds or thousands.  The peaks in the distance.  The hotels standing and stretching in the hot, dry desert air, the sun not far away.

Gathering chips for their bets, trying to get free drinks, trying to get comped.  A generous mix of Filipino, white, some blacks, you name it, a few Koreans, the new wealth Chinese—cabbies called them whales because they were big fish, big betters.  Old and older.  A bunch of kids crawling around doing god knows what, more likely to get kicked out of the casinos than anyone else because they don’t bet.

Mafia types—Skyball Chibelli and Baba, hoping the croupiers don’t look too close at their money.  Cabbies who went to high school here.  Eighties music, light shows, five-dollar minimums, champagne bottles, sixes and eights, Manhattans, Coronas, the hot sun, no clouds, bellmen looking for tips, towel boys looking for tips, everyone looking for tips and some people giving them.  The whole place like an octopus but with more arms, looking for anyway to get its hands on your money, and when it does—bang!  it pops its barb into you like an unexpected sting ray, whether you are an expert or not.  Here, no one is an expert.  Experts get beat up and know better...

Vegas never closes...

I was Group A

pretty bumpy en route
not the only ones gone to dallas
george dub, too
short flight, 33 mins

cold in dallas, dallas love
a place to wash me hands
pop some 'cedrin
head is cabin-pressurized

my hands: scraped
spilled myself at intersection
walkin the whole way home
leaving a classic message
then writing gibberish mail

count the drinks, count em
on both hands
without all digits, i'd be short
one dogfish, two dogfish
bus comin—half a dogfish
real ale phoenix esb
cigarettes and a phone

over to a bar onn fifth
a jack, a coke, a band and waiting
hey, there is someone i know
beers for them
where's the group leader?

there he is, says, "car bombs"
consensus says, "OK"
half a pint of guinness
(you can chug it)
and bailey's goes down easy

no drink service on this flight
coulda used some water
parched, dessicated, husk of self
carcasse void even of lions
clipped from sky
like a headline never written:
i arrive on time

time for another beer
let's move on
time for some dancing
wristbands and a cigarette

forty bucks for jaegerbombs
the guy next to me gets three
i double that
but can't unload the sixth
maybe god drank it
before he kicked my ass
in the form of a friend
handing me what was it?
some anonymous shot

goodnight everybody
good night for dancing
who's gonna dance with me?
i told a guy we should
brokeback dancefloor
but it didn't come to that
i worked up a sweat
doing the faux salsa

when did I leave?
don't remember
barfed a little
turned off my phone
woke up to the sound
of the handyman
mowing the lawn,
two hours late
for my flight.

Unavailable Unavailable

When the phone rang, I suddenly thought of an ex-girlfriend sitting in a smoky bar somewhere on the other side of town with hair in her eyes and a cell phone in her hand. Either that or my mother rolling over in bed to pick up her own receiver.

The receiver—still a-ring, I realized—lay at the side of my bed, far away from its base and the caller ID box. I answered it anyway.


"I didn’t think you were going to pick up."

"It’s late."

I sat halfway up in bed and patted some still-damp patches of hair into place. An ambulance cried in the distance.

"They’re coming for you."

"Where were you today?"

"I won’t be around tomorrow either. I thought you should know..."

Continue with this short story...