Diddlysquat   Thursday, October 29, 2020



I already wrote a poem
this morning,
but it's another rant
and it's too nice
a day and too early
in this new year for a 

goddammit, I want to rant,
and so I will

I'll rant about all the birds singing
and the sun shining
and the blue sky and teh clear, clean air
and the good night's sleep
that left me refreshed and reenergized
and my nice house and my pets
who follow me around with great brown eyes
dripping with love and adoration
and my wife
who seems to like me OK too
and the fine dinner she made for me last night
and my good prospects for a long and productive life
and my computer
and my fingers and my toes
and my social security check
and the tree I sit under when I feel my nature-boy self
pining for the smell of squirrels and fragrant flowers
and tickling blades of grass on my bare feet
and remaining hair that hasn't fallen out yet and
the dried beef sausage in the fridge
and the false teeth that make it possible
to eat the dried beef sausage in the fridge
and the levis that fit tight and keep my butt from sagging

and on and on and on some more
with all the things I have to rant about -
I could rant about the cows coming home
and the cow farmers waiting for them at home
and could rant about the cows and their moon-jumping shenanigans
and I could rant about words like shenanigans
that I have to look up in thee dictionary
cause I can't spell diddlysquat
and I could rant about diddlysquat
and often do..

I could even rant about you, and if I can, I do,
so I do, I rant about you
who got sucked into reading this on the false assumption
I had something
to say

Here and Now 




the end of a summer night 
now was 
and all is good this morning 
in the news today 
my only excuse 
this poem is not about waxpaper 

Lawrence Ferlinghetti 

The Old Italians Dying 


same as last time next time 

Elizabeth Seydel Morgan 

Redbud, Dogwood and Crow 


about spellcheck and other random inequities 
in my humble opinion 
good news – bad news 
Anita Eckberg, Dancing 
mid-night meditation 
I could write about flowers if I wanted to 
never been to Chile 
this very early morning

the end of a summer night

up at 5:30,
then a half hour doze
on the patio

as daylight
begins to creep
between the trees

people wake
across the creek
and stir

signs of life
like the birds
that sing -

not doves this morning,
their soft sighs
as the sun begins to to begin

its morning rise
more insistent cries instead

wake up wake up
the birds call,
and the dogs oblige

first on the left,
then on the right,
then on the other side of the creek,

then our own dog, 
Peanut, sitting beside me,
our not-so-smart dog

and finally, 
Reba inside,

from her sleep by my bed
and now at the door,
wanting out, her job to do

whatever the threat
being signaled by all the rest,
the aged sentry's sentries -


6:00 o'clock now,
and the dogs and  the traffic

over the bridge
signal the end
of summer night

and the beginning
of my day

now was

uncountable stars 
the edge
of our expanding universe

bodies circling
in near or far orbits
around them,
and our own planet
circling our own star,
turning, open
to both the dark and the light

in daily circles,
and on atomic levels
electrons and protons orbiting
the stable center, and,
at smaller levels 
even further beyond our imagination

circles within circles
always moving

and in the middle 
of all this constant bustle
we imagine 

as if it were something
we could ever do,
as if in the midst
of all this constant movement
we would not,
could not


visit a supermarket at 5 a.m. -
watch the movement
of daily commerce, shelves being stocked,
boxes of peas and corn and doggie treats
brought in from the secret back of the store,
boxes razored open, shelves filled,
empty boxes taken and broken down
for re-cycling, circling...

watch traffic move in the morning,
commuters starting the day's circle
from home to work,
from work to home,
the family orbit, family, the stable center
that anchors the atomic movement
of our lives -

we speak still as if "still" could ever be
in this grand sea of universal
tides moving
as every minute live
is a minute removed the minute before -

when everything that is now was,
another spoke on an ever-moving,
ever-turning transcendental

and all is good this morning

still a half hour
before sunrise, I pass a 7-car fender-bender
on the loop, all cars safely moved to the shoulder,
about a dozen people standing around, about
half on their cellphones, all victims of rush-hour
auto acrobatics, all pissed that their morning rush
to wherever they think they have to be interrupted
by the stupid whoever who zigged when he should have
zagged, leaving all these people upon whom
the whole world depends for proper memo distribution,
proper grocery shelf stocking, proper computer computing,
proper nail hammering, proper frozen chicken delivering,
proper real estate selling, proper ad-writing, all these
rush people essential to the daily turning of the earth and
maintenance of gravity for us all, stranded now
for who knows how long by that stupid whoever
and his improperly timed zigging and zagging

all these people with someplace to be,
stuck where they are as I pass by, slowly reveling
in the turpitude of my don't-have-to-be-anywhere

knowing is good 
in my world
this morning

in the news today

one thing worse
than a pedophile priest
says the Vatican
today -

women priests...

you go, girl

you're number one


on a southern shore

tropic winds

the irregular music 
of wind chimes

the clockwork rhythm
of the tides

the sun rises
the Gulf of Mexico

red sky
rippled by soft waves
of a falling tide

tiny sand crabs
from their holes

my only excuse

after real life

in small corners

scaled back

given over
to lesser things...


once in a while
one that reminds me
of when I was 
and life was large

those few
my only excuse
for all the rest

this poem is not about waxpaper

every morning I have my breakfast,
drink my coffee,
read my newspaper

then open my laptop
and out pops the word
that will lead me to the day's poem...

this morning the word is "waxpaper"

recognizing that this is poetry
and not real life,
I close my laptop,
order another pot of coffee
and sit back, call "slips" and start over

slips is what I remember we called it
when I was a kid playing marble
and the marble slipped off your cocked finger
or your cocked finger slipped  and your marble
went all screwy...

and poetry,
being a lot more like marbles
than real life, I'm calling slips on "waxpaper'
until I think of something better, like maybe
"real life" and how the game of marbles
is good preparation for young boys
not yet required to engage in real life...

except for the slips part, which might be
good preparation for young boys
destined to engage in the game of "poetry"
at some point in the later portions
of their life -

whether the game is "holes" or "circles"
the whole game, except for slips, is about
getting ahead of your opponents, usually
by knocking their marbles out of the way,
a situation in real life
where advantage always lies
with the boy with the largest 

Lawrence Ferlinghetti is probably one of the, if not the, last survivor of the San Francisco beat era. Last I read, he had sold his book store but was still writing and occasionally reading. This poem is from his book Wild Dreams of New Beginnings, first published by New Directions in 1974.

The Old Italians Dying

For years the old Italians have been dying
all over America
For years the old Italians in faded felt hats
have been sunning themselves and dying
You have seen them on the benches
in the park in Washington Square
the old Italians in their black high button shoes
the old men in their old felt fedoras
                                      with stained hatbands
have been dying and dying
                                         day by day

You have seen them
every day in Washington Square San Francisco
the slow bell
tolls in the morning
in the Church of Peter Paul
in the marzipan church on the plaza
toward ten in the morning the slow bell tolls
in the towers of Peter & & Paul
and the old me who are still alive
sit sunning themselves in a row
and watch the processions in and out
funerals in the morning
weddings in the afternoon
slow bell in the morning Fast bell at noon
In one door and out the other
the old me sit in their hats
and watch the coming & going
You have seen them
the ones who feed the pigeons
                      cutting the stale bread
                           with their thumb & penknives
the ones with old pocketwatches
the old ones with gnarled hands
                                          and wild eyebrows
the ones with the baggy plants
                                  with both belt & suspenders
the grappa drinkers with teeth like corn
the Piermontesi the Genovesi the Siciliaons
                           smelling of garlic & pepperonis
the ones who love Mussolini
the old facists
the ones who loved Garibaldi
the old anarchists reading L'Umanita Nova
the ones who loved Sacco & Vanzetti
They are almost gone now
They are sitting and waiting for their turn
and sunning themselves in front of the church
over the doors of which is inscribed
a phrase which would seem to be unfinished
from Dante's Paradiso
about the glory of the One
                                          who moves everything...
The old men are waiting 
for it to be finished
for their glorious sentence on earth
                                           to be finished
the slow bell tolls & tolls
the pigeons strut about
not even thinking of flying
the air too heavy with heavy tolling
The black hired hearses draw up
the black limousines with black window shades
shielding the widows
the widows with the long black veils
who will outlive them all
You have seen them
madre di terra, madre di mare
The widows climb out of the limousines
the family mourners step out in stiff suits
The widows walk so slowly
up the steps of the cathedral
fishnet veils drawn down
leaning hard on darkcloth arms
Their faces do not fall apart
They are merely drawn apart
They are still the matriarchs
outliving everyone
the old dagos dying out
in Little Italy all over America
the old dead dagos
hauled out in the morning sun
that does not mourn for anyone 
One by one Year by year
they are carried out
The bell
never stops tolling
The old Italians with lapstracke faces
are hauled out of the hearses
by the paid pallbearers
in mafioso mourning coats & dark glasses
The old dead men are hauled out
in their black coffins like small skiffs
They enter the true church
for the first time in many years
in these carved black boats
                        ready to be ferried over
The priests scurry about
                   as if to cast off the lines
The other old men
                              still alive on the benches
watch it all with their hats on

You have seen them sitting there
waiting for the bocce ball to stop rolling
waiting for the bell
                               to stop tolling & tolling
for the slow ball
                           to be finished tolling
telling the unfinished Paradiso story
as seen in an unfinished phrase
                              on the face of the church
as seen in the fisherman's face
in a black boat without sails
making his final haul


same as last time next time

a clear morning,
early, yellow button moon
rolling across dark and unclouded sky

a very hot day promised

in a row, but chances for rain
the rest of the week,
the first here-bound moisture -

ground cracked, grass curled and brown,
each day like a furnace vacuum,
drying the air and everything it touches,
sucking life like a final fatal disease...

dry bones remain, like rhino horns
ground to powder to give old men
a lift...


I will go to the coast this week,
100 miles and a ferry ride,
then three days on Mustang Island
while the long-sought sound of rain dripping
off my back porch will echo through
my empty house without me,
the ground  plumped with rain water
will sift again and expand and cracks will close
and the grass will green again and I will miss it,
and my flowers will bloom again and I will miss it

tides  I will see instead, surf, doing what it does,
coming and going again and again and again
same as last time until next time 

the lesser joy of constancy,
the timeless sea,
and sand, each one a crystal like the other

carnival-lit change would be most welcome
but unknown

This poem is by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan, taken from her book, Without a Philosophy, published by Louisiana State University Press in 2007.

A native of Atlanta, Morgan is the author of three previous collections of poetry and is the Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Redbud, Dogwood and Crow

Jesus! If I saw a tree pink as dawn,
another white as a weightless cloud, I'd doubt
the first was called a Judas tree, and the other's
blossoms meant to depict the nailholes of Christ,
I would say nothing so cheerful, so vitally Spring,
could speak of betrayal, or bloom as suffering.
I'd call that crow over there
to flap over to the redbud, then
fly up to a high dogwood branch,
and sit.
A big patch of black
crowing like a rowdy drunk
siphoning misnomers from innocence
and shouting them to the wind.

about spellcheck and other random inequities

my breakfast hangout opens at 6 a.m.
which is about as early as I need anything to open up
and I got here this morning as they were turning on the lights
so I've been here almost an hour
and the first other customer just showed up

and the two of us means a crowd is gathering
cause that's the way a crowd always gathers,
just two or three and so on...

think Mark and Engels,
just two that turned  into a pretty big crowd
even if it didn't turn our so well, except for Marx,
but no poor Engels whose name I don't even remember
how to spell and he's not in spellcheck
unlike Marx who though not known for his pleasant disposition 
was not Groucho just like Engels was not Laura
but she's an "I" Ingles not an "E" Engels and she's not
in spellcheck either and I just noticed - and this is interesting 
if you think about it - "spellcheck" is not in spellcheck
even though Frederick and Laura are not, which makes
a twisted kind of sense, especially if you were the inventor
of spellcheck cause I know i I had invented spellcheck
I would put spellcheck in it and I wonder who invented
spellcheck and if the inventor's name is in spellcheck
cause if I had invented spellcheck my name would be in it,
along with Frederick and Laura, cause I'm for the little guy
and Frederick  was surely the little guy at least compared
to the big guy and Laura though not a a guy certainly 
was little cause her frontier dad on TV always called her
"Little Bit" which is a pretty good clue
that she was one of the little guys I'm for,
like Harry Truman who was a little guy and especially
Martin Van Buren who was at five foot four the littlest
little guy to occupy the office, a whole foot plus littler
than the big guy, Honest Abe, who was a big guy 
in feet and inches and lots of other ways, too...

and Martin, by the way, is not in spellcheck either,
which makes four so far, Frederick, Laura, Martin and me,
people who oughta be in spellcheck but aren't and would be
if I had invented spellcheck


and as to the business at hand -
it being Monday I thought I might be able to listen in
on the Religiosos Babosos this morning
but I was really early and they're getting later and later
and not nearly as interesting as they used to be anyway

maybe that's why they're not in spellcheck either

in my humble opinion

I could write a poem about

but whenever I do that
everybody gets mad at me

or I could write a poem about

but that would leave all my relatives
staying up nights praying
for my endangered

or I could write a poem
about my amazing sports career
I never had one, amazing
or otherwise

I could write a poem
about all the beautiful women who have lined up
to take me in their arms with seriously perverse
but lying like that would send me to hell almost as fast
ad my poems about

I could write a poem 
about what I did last summer
though it is almost exactly the same
as what I did this summer
and I write about all that kind of boring stuff
all the time anyway

I could write a poem
about the weather but everyone writes poems
about the weather and not one of them does a damn thing
about it, so what's the point of being just another
mealy-mouthed ineffectual poet who never does a damn thing
about the weather, or anything else, for that matter

I'm thinking maybe
I could write a poem
about all the reasons not to write a poem today,
but then I do that a lot, too, so maybe
I should just not write a poem today
and tell everyone instead that I had to go to the hospital
for finger transplants after using up my initial set of digits
pounding out an epic poem on my keyboard
which flared up from the intensity of my effort
and burned like a nova in a far galaxy, destroying
in the conflagration,
both my laptop and the epic poem in it which is now,
lost forever - but what do you expect from a nova
in a far galaxy...

it's a pretty big deal, after all, with universal impact
of which loss of my poem is not the worst or grandest,
though it is,
in my humble opinion,
pretty close to the 

good news - bad news

the good news is we only have 5,113 nuclear bombs
in our arsenal, 25,000 fewer than we had 40 years ago

the bad news is, in the whole world of our present
and projected enemies, there are only 73 legitimate targets,
which means,
we are going to have to send specialists from Brown & Root
to build about 5,000 additional targets in Iran, North Korea,
Upper Bottledallagdramarama and several other such countries
we have never heard of before we discovered their target-poor

it's the way things are...

always good news/bad news, never good news/good news or 
good news/better news or good news/better news/best news
or good news/not so bad news or, even, no news is good news

it's the way people are -
unable to face unalloyed pleasure because...
well the devil will notice and everyone knows
a happy face is the devil's workshop

so -
it is a  beautiful morning, the kind of morning
when deer ticks love to come out of the forest
to attach themselves to humans so that humans
can have some kind of horrible wasting
deer tick disease

or -
wow, we won a jillion, squillion dollars in the lottery
and you know what that means to our taxes - what
did we ever do to deserve such tribulation, oh woe,
God must be mad at me, again...

I know these people

people who can't rejoice in the glory of another day,
alive in the sunlight and cool breezes, cause, you know,
it's just going to get dark again...

people who can find no upper without a

people whose soul is eaten alive by fear...

contagious, these people, worse than 
deer ticks

so stay away from them if  you can

embrace good news that comes into your life,
live and die a happy human being...

make joy your best revenge...

Anita Eckberg, dancing

was Monday

and the religiosos

were back at their
normal Monday table

almost like old days,
almost slipping into an interesting

discussion before reverting
to more animated

strumming and dranging
about the early season crash

of the Dallas Cowboys
(may their souls rot in last place forever)

but before they tossed that ball
back and forth,

for a couple of minutes
on the subject of the nature

and characteristics of god,
coming to the conclusion

that god is a mystery unsolved
and insolvable

and because of that

is as good as anybody else's

and there is no basis for one believer
to question the faith of another


and thinking of that I think of
how everything in life is a mystery

unsolved an insolvable,
our knowledge

of everything
based on how and how much

of it one has seen or heard
secondhand -

what is our standard for accepting
the existence and characteristics of things?

personal experience?
I have experienced a fried egg

but my fried egg is over easy
which could make my conception of the thing

entirely different
from on who prefers eggs fried hard,

so which of these egg concepts
reflects the reality of an egg? maybe both

maybe neither as envisioned
who doesn't like eggs, at all,

someone whose egg concept is a shelled ovoid,
white and fragile

or maybe all of these concepted eggs are real,
or maybe none, maybe

there is no egg in reality,
only the varying concepts, shadows

on the wall, as Plato opined, real
on the wall, but nowhere else


I have been to Paris
so I know it exists,

but its reality to me
is limited to a three-day visit,

monuments seen from a tour bus,
the metro,

and walks in the rain
on the Champs-Elysees,

a different Paris, surely,
from the one people live in -

and, while I have never been to Rome,
I did see La Dolce Vida twice , so I place

my trust in the evidence of others,
believing that it does exist

because Fellini said so and I believe
in Fellini and Anita Ekberg dancing

in every fountain, and maybe
you think you know better, but I know better....

what I know, regardless of how I know it,
and it is like the face of God

you see in your dreams, unlike the void
I see in mine, but indelible to you

and indubitably true to you
in every way important to you

mid-night meditation

lying naked
in the summer grass,
pale shadow
under the full, bright eye
of the moon, listening
to the sounds of the creek,
the water,
the mating frogs,
sounds of the trees
and the wind,
trying to imagine
when these were the
only sounds of 

with the call of a lonely
and hungry wolf
from the hills far away,
the only sounds of life
around us

and we are otherwise

I could write about flowers if I wanted to

cause a man's got to know
his flowers
if he wants to be a poet

and I know about flowers

they're those things,
sometimes big, and
sometimes not, that poke
up out of the ground,
green on the bottom, usually,
and colored on the top,
often red
or yellow, but sometimes
pink, purple, or blue
and occasionally even

if you see something like that
you can be sure
it's a flower,
unless it's something else,
like a fire hydrant or a bulldog
in a tutu

I know about flowers
and I could write about flowers
if I wanted to,
but I'd rather write about
naked women writhing
on a bed of, what else,
flowers, or maybe I'd like to
write about a brave hero,
climbing a high mountain
medieval-nightmare-looking monsters
mind-controlled by the evil master,
and his henchmen Ping, Sing, Wing,
and Klingelhoffer

I'd rather write about this brave, muscular hero
fighting all those bad ding-a-lings
so as to rescue and save from fates-worse-than-death
their harem of slave-women writhing
on a bed of, what else, purloined

that would be a lot more fun than writing
about flowers, which I could do if I wanted to
cause a man's got to know his flowers
if he wants to be a poet


never been to Chile



to that
the way

South America
down there
which means

and I'd


there someday

this very early morning

this very early morning
like maids
all in a row, skirts
lifted, pretty parts
on display

this very early morning,
like fuzzbuster and tutti frutti
and the king of beers
and aqua Buddha
and persnickety and
and pusillanimous,

(a word I got to say three times
in a high school play 60 years ago
and never since, but the
of it on my tongue
is still

this very early morning
with stories
I don't know yet
but will,
some very early morning

to come

GOOD NEWS - the "comment"  function is working again after several years when it did not.

I'd love to have feedback from readers, about the blog, about the poems or pictures, favorite recipes from your old dearly departed Aunt Herminia, or anything else on your mind.

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