GreenasSky A gambol in the goodies by Sloan Nota

Immigrants With Pets

Portraits of Ellis Island Immigrants from The Public Domain Review.


I’m enjoying the pleasures of writing  with pointed words — as if this administration was Saint Sebastian and my arrows would sink in.


Smart Person

He positioned himself behind the famed desk and signed with a broad black ‘You won’t forget ME’ felt pen whatever impressive document they handed him. Handpicked, they knew what he wanted. Thing is to delegate. He imagined himself that little boy on pajama flannels, straddling a rocketship like a bronco, lassoing  comets as they threatened his mom, his dad, his elementary school. Hero, saves ‘em all. He adds his own flatulence to power the rocket, because (snicker) who’ll ever know?

He’s a very smart person.

Without his money — and it’s a lot, believe me — has he ever had a friend? Someone who could trust him? Without his lots of money — and he’s a known -ionaire — but no peeking! — would his family stay around?  If he was just a schmuck?

But hey, he’s a very smart person.

Obama showed him how to be a man but he didn’t get it. He never looked relaxed or easy in his flesh or debonair like the Obamas kept doing.  They do it on purpose. Mean.  So what if his rear end’s a laughingstock? It looks Presidential, see? Presidential, because he’s the President. End of it.

He’s a very smart person.



Ellis Island immigrant, Public Domain Review.

Immigrants With Pets

Immigrants with pets. What could you do but desert them when facing a risky rubber boat across the Mediterranean? Leave them behind to scavenge and beg. Missing you while you miss them but don’t dare, your kids need you strong. The kids miss the pet, how can they not? But all the acts of dislocation pour salt water over memories writ in bleedy ink.  Or do you put the pet out of its misery-to-come? Do you? Or pay a distant cousin handy with a knife?  So many choices to  make as you leave behind your property deeds and mementos, your books, grandparents and lifetime friends.


I’d enjoy your thoughts and comments. 

Categories contemporary society, words, literature | 2 Comments

Contempt in High Places

Leon's mug

Leona Helmsley’s Mugshot. Public domain.

Remember Leona Helmsley, “Only the little people pay taxes”? Remind you of Donald Trump about to barge into the White House in flamboyant disregard of laws and ethics? It’s not only mobsters who believe the US Constitution and IRS code are irrelevant to them.

Soon one of the most despicable men in American history will be sworn in as President. His cabinet choices are sharpening their pick-axes for the departments they are to dismember. None of these people show a thimbleful of awe for their fellow Americans. Helmsleys who live above common morality and disdain the huddled masses — those in crowded housing projects and those functionaries living in small apartments. Or big apartments. But not big enough to make them players.

Meanwhile members of the Senate and House of Representatives are beavering away to invalidate ethical checks and balances on their own behavior. Why?

Vladimir Putin is a known evil-ist. The KGB formed him — you think he can hang that on a shoe rack and march on without it? We grownups in our 50s, 60s, 70s — we have been made by circumstances and by our choices.  By our practices.

People practice piano, baseball, juggling. At the same time they practice values and feelings. Use it or lose it, right? Respect is a complex feeling you must learn to feel. Then remind yourself to validate again in your actions. And again — as surely as your hand must learn to feel a C chord spread, your self must learn to feel compassion.

Putin’s shoe rack again. Look at the figures hoping to be Mr Trump’s Cabinet members. In their decades have they learned to practice empathy, compassion. fairness? Because they can no more learn the habits of compassion than Putin at his age.

I fear that these men and women are well-practiced in greed and contempt for me and you.

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Black experience, flip and deep

Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

I need to write this. Now.

I’d heard of a prize-winning novel by a black man writing of black experience. A quick search turned up The Sellout by Paul Beatty.  The Man-Booker prize.  OK!

So I read it and loved it — at first.  The urgency of the prose, a burning wick of intensity. If you’ve read Robert Coover’s The Public Burning you’ll recognize that unsuppressable push of words.

But then The Sellout started maundering. The snappy jokes — not the characters, not the plot — became its reason. By the end I was annoyed. Annoyed.

So I Googled the same requirements.  This time the prize turns out to be the National Book Award.  Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad. I’m blown away by the novel’s power. Its vision. Its truths.

Its worthwhileness.

If you ask me to compare the two books I’ll tell you it’s like comparing Moby Dick with Mad Magazine.

If you feel strong, read this book.  Perhaps use the January 20 Inauguration time-slot to remind you of why you’re not watching that ceremony.

Categories contemporary society, history, words, literature | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Parisians Being Parisian


Paris shopping carts

Rhythmic Parisian shopping carts. (author’s photo)

Whenever I go somewhere I come away wondering what I’ve missed. In Paris not what streets I didn’t follow, but rather on the trodden streets what I missed while looking at it. Did I drink in the cathedral’s master architecture and miss the robin on Mary’s marble toe? Its gimbaling head ticking quickly in all directions, for food, for foe. Or have I watched tree shadows gyre on a wall and missed the parade?

I’ve spent a month in Paris, thinking I could post here diligently daily. I must apologize — I gave Paris my all.  Walking miles, gawking (which is hard for me unless I’m still). Soaking in Parisians being Parisian the way Jane Goodall would observe wild chimpanzees — if she was a chimpanzee.

What I was watching for of course is what made Parisians unlike me. Not that they don’t breathe in air as we New Englanders do but that their Paris air is drenched with sex pheromones. You don’t see them but Mama if you don’t feel them my condolences to you. Matrons wear their breasts high and proud; it’s clear which men dress to the left and which to the right. A couple wedged at the next table in a restaurant, tall, well groomed. It’s possible that she never took her eyes off his all night. Next to her, arguing issues with my partner, I feel a buffoon. She’s so smooth, so elegant. They shared an ice cream dessert but she didn’t spoon in until he nudged the dish toward her.

Was their dinner foreplay?

You’re right, how the hell would I know?  It’s just I’ve never seen an American woman gaze so pointedly into a man’s eyes for a three-course dinner — but it felt like a mode both Parisians were well-accustomed to. Bien sur.


The shopping carts shown at top sat lined up at our local grocery store. To me they’re part of the Paris je ne sais pas, the something that try as I might cannot quite be put in words. Their keen and twitchy nose for style.



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