Poetry Is My Balm

Many of the haiku and other poems in Short Verses & Other Curses were written as a therapeutic balm in response to my cancer. I don’t know why or how I survived all that nonsense but I suspect writing the poems helped at least a little.

Recent events make it seem to me that my country is suffering such a life-threatening and cancerous disease so I was naturally drawn to some of the poems I wrote for the collection. To some degree they helped again, if only as a temporary distraction from present reality.

I doubt if these poems have any healing power potent enough for all the ills sickening my nation; however, it is out of love and desperation that I shall share them with you now.

For the next day or so, please feel free to download the collection. If any of the poems move you in any way, I ask that you share your thoughts here in the comment section. If you have any other poetry that you believe will help relieve a troubled soul, I ask that you also share those with us as well.

You may download the collection by clicking on its book cover.
Short Verses


Thank you to all who downloaded a copy of the book and especially to those who left me such kind, encouraging comments. They mean very much to me.



No Gun, No Respect…

Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Special revolver with a 3-inch barrel
The most common type of gun confiscated by police and traced by the ATF are .38 special revolvers, such as this Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Special revolver with a 3-inch barrel. (“S&W 60 3in“. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.)

First off, I’m not anti-Second Amendment (if you’re an American (of the U.S. persuasion) and you don’t know what the Second Amendment is then that’s a problem)…

See, I live out in the sticks and I had to call 911 once because I thought there was a gas leak somewhere in my house and all I got to say about that experience is that our military overran countries faster than it took the emergency responders to get to my house.

It’s not their fault – I just live out in the sticks.

Heck, I found out then that I can’t even call my 911 operator direct. My 911 call goes to somewhere across the border and that operator has to re-direct it back into my state to a different operator.

I can only wonder what would have happened if that 911 call wasn’t for a gas leak (a false alarm, fortunately) but for a home invasion instead?!

You can feel me, right?

So yeah, I’m all about owning a gun as a means of protection of last resort.

But then again, I’m a nice guy.

I can be trusted with a gun.

When I say I am a not a gun-slingin’, trigger-happy nutjob with “adequacy issues” you can take my word for it…

But as for the rest of you all…

I’m beginning to wonder.

What the heck is going on out there?

Unfortunately, it has become my unfortunate belief that we, as a nation, are now just too mean and too rude and too disrespectful and, most dangerously, too short-tempered (what’s up with all the road rage?) to have so many guns – both legal and illegal – locked and loaded and at the ready out there, just itchin’ to mediate our every issue and altercation, however slight.

Something has got to change.

I mean, come on… There were over 11,000 murders committed with a gun in 2013 (according to the Centers for Disease Control (via Wikipedia)).

That’s a lot of humans made dead from mean assholes with guns.

So if we, as a citizenry, are so danged mean and so danged armed, just think what it must be like to have to try to police all of us in an effort to maintain good order and discipline in a society where that kind of anachronistic, Mayberry-like behavior is now shat upon.

Nowadays, it must be pretty darned scary to be a cop.

No wonder they all jack themselves up like Special Forces operators gone wild.

Have you seen some of these Rambo cops?

In-f’n-tense, they are…

It’s hard to believe – and even sadder – that it takes so much firepower to patrol our streets.

Seriously, we have an Intra-Arms Race going on between we angry civilians and the feeling-threatened-and-under-fire Po po, you know, the overly-aggressive-stoppin’-and-friskin’, tank-drivin’ Five-Oh.


And then when you throw race into the mix of a messy situation where the police are a majority of the time of a majority skin tone and the citizenry they are bringing their good order and discipline to are of a minority skin tone…

These days someone usually ends up shot.

Just like last night at the protests in response to the first anniversary of the Michael Brown killing.

Look, I’ve written about these things here before and, like then, I don’t have any answers.

But when it comes to race and racism, I do know, despite what my Merriam-Webster dictionary app says, racism is all about power and who has it.

And the fact is, White male Anglo-Saxon Protestants have and, for the foreseeable future, will continue to have the power in this country.

For the record, here is what my app says racism is:

1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2: racial prejudice or discrimination

Now, I don’t disagree with what the app says, but in the national grand scheme of things, whose racism is going to hurt more – a WASPy dude’s* or a Black female’s?

Sure it may hurt our WASPy dude feelings that others not like us don’t like us just because they don’t look like us because they are racists of the first or second order, or both. But overall that’s all their racism will do to us – hurt our Privileged and Guilt-ridden White feelings.

Unlike our racism, theirs won’t keep us out of a job.

Or out of a loan.

Or out of a home…

Their racism just doesn’t have the power to do all that harm like ours does.

And sorry to burst your bubbles white racist females, you may think you’re superior to others because of your skin tone, but thanks to our historically patriarchal and sexist society (a subject worthy of a post of its own), you just don’t have as much “clout” to harm as we WASPy dudes have.

Man**, this is depressing.

What is most depressing about it all is how it all feeds off of each other…

The racism increases anger.

The anger increases violence.

The violence increases fear.

The fear increases gun sales.

The gun sales increase death rates.

The increasing death rates increase police presence.

And on and on…

Like I said, I have no answers.

But I do have a voice…

And, for what it’s worth, here I am using it to, if not provide solutions, at least discuss the problems.


This entire unfortunate, depressing post reminds me of that intense scene from the movie Grand Canyon, starring Danny Glover and Kevin Kline, where Glover’s character, a tow truck driver, comes to the aid of…

Ah, what am I trying to explain it for? Just go ahead and watch it…

Peace, y’all…

And remember, Being Nice is a skill that, to be effectively employed, must be continually practiced.

*gender specific
**non-gender specific

My Crime, My Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoevsky

RATING: ★ ★ ★

Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Dostoevsky

My crime?

Posing myself as a Fyodor Dostoevsky fanboy for just about all my adult life.

Why is this a crime?

Because, in all honesty, I never really read Dostoevsky…until recently.

Well, I did pass my eyes over all the words of his NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND (some editions translate it as LETTERS FROM THE UNDERWORLD) back in my early twenties.

But as an early twenty-something, I didn’t stand a chance with Dostoevsky seeing that research has proven at that age brains aren’t yet fully developed. For all intents and purposes, according to science, someone in their early to mid twenties is still an adolescent. Which, in retrospect, explains many things about my life. And which begs the question, how can someone without a fully developed prefrontal cortex truly appreciate or fully comprehend something as complex and nuanced as Dostoevsky’s writing?

As I’ve come to find out, even with a fully developed prefrontal cortex Dostoevsky is still rather overwhelming and abstruse.

Unlike Franz Kafka, who I also first read in my early twenties, I never went back to Dostoevsky over the years. I don’t know why. Perhaps my adolescent twenty-something self did understand more of what he read than I now give him credit for. But over the years, I did revisit Kafka’s work – often – and his writing has been, and continues to be, what I consider a foundational pillar of my intellectual being (for better or worse). There are other writers, too, whom I consider foundational to my being. Writers such as Vonnegut, Hemingway, Kerouac, Camus (yes, all the stereotypical white male authors one would expect a stereotypical white male dude like me would admire), among others.

But even though I never went back to Dostoevsky, and even though I am quite sure my twenty-something adolescent self had no clue what the NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND was about, all throughout the years in my mind I regarded him to be just as fundamental to my core as the writers whom I just listed.

Again, I do not know why. Probably because, like I already confessed, I was just a poser who enjoyed thinking that he knew what the hell Dostoevsky was about.

In my defense, I don’t think I ever made a public spectacle of myself with any obnoxious proclamations of deep knowledge of his writings; nor did I ever engage in any self-righteous debates or arguments with someone who did know and understand Dostoevsky’s works.

No, I believe my fanboy-dom was not a public lie, it was more a self lie. Somehow, somewhere deep down in my subconsciousness I came to believe that Dostoevsky was important to me when in fact he wasn’t.

Only the idea of Dostoevsky was important to me.

That is my crime.

So what, then, is my punishment?


I feel tremendous guilt. For, after a lifetime of self-deception in believing that Dostoevsky’s work was deeply meaningful to me, I find that after rereading NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND (twice now) and finally reading CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, perhaps Dostoevsky’s most acclaimed work, I really do not enjoy his writing as much as I thought I did…or should.

What is wrong with me?


Continue reading “My Crime, My Punishment”