Saturday, September 21, 2019

Bernie Sanders Calls for Eliminating Americans’ Medical Debt (NYT)

Image result for bernie sanders

It started with a band-aid that the hospital applied;
they charged a hundred dollars, and they wouldn't let it slide.
Then they gave me aspirin -- just two tablets, nothing more;
I should have fled in terror but I then got a cold sore.
They dabbed it with an ointment made of gold and platinum;
it cost more than the total of my annual income.
The bills came like an avalanche; they discomposed my nerves.
My body went to pieces, like a tray of dropped hors d'oeuvres.
I lost my job and couldn't pay a solitary dime.
The clinic had me cuffed and stuffed as if it were a crime.
The judge looked sympathetic as he sentenced me to jail.
"You're awful sick" he told me, "so there won't be any bail."
I languish here in prison, ulcerating but resigned
to being doctored in the clink by inmates who are kind.

Verses from Headlines in the Washington Post -- North America has lost 3 billion birds in 50 years -- The biggest Arctic expedition in history is launching for the North Pole -- Google and Facebook’s latest efforts to ‘save’ journalism are sparking debate.


Soon the only tweets around
will be on our cell phones found.
 Feathered friends, you've been betrayed
by the poisons we have sprayed.
We have stole your habitat
and unleashed the feral cat.
I'm uneasy when I think
of your feelings on the brink.
Maybe Hitchcock's film we'll view
as a prophecy come true!


On the ice floes near the Pole
scientists are wont to stroll,
looking for a penguin cute
or a brand new arctic newt.
Bundled up in heavy furs,
they are frostbite connoisseurs.
How they'll make reporters tingle
if they unearth old Kris Kringle!
I hope they do not plan to stay,
since all of it will melt away. 


When I want the front page news,
online's where I oft peruse.
Google and the Facebook gang
give it me with quite a bang.
Newspapers are too old hat,
lecturing like autocrat.
I prefer my facts be lite --
not too true, but with a bite.


Photo Essay: September Pumpkins at Market.

There is something mysterious yet comforting about pumpkins.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Barrett Fletcher strode into the room with a pasta strainer, ready to invoke his god. (WaPo)

I decided to train my dog to pray. He's a smart mutt; part terrier, part beagle, and part calypso song. His stumpy tail doesn't wag, it dances. 
First I taught him to sit, his haunches down and his front legs ramrod straight, with his head bowed. That seemed like the appropriate stance for a dog to address God. 
I pondered a long time about what to teach him to actually say. Dogs don't talk, not in our language. But they use growls and barks and whines to communicate their feelings to us all the time, so I began with that.
Oh, and his name is Towser. 
I began by getting him to sit in the praying position and then growling at him. When he growled back I rewarded him with a Milk Bone. Pretty soon he would automatically growl when he assumed the praying position. So I followed through using the same technique for whines and barks. 
In a few months I had Towser trained to say his prayers whenever I gave the command "Pray, Towser, pray!"
I never expected that Towser would be ministered to by angels, but one day they fluttered down from the sky to caress him and give him raw t-bone steaks. Then they flew back to heaven with him.
But I'm not all that lonely. Cuz I've got a cat. Named Mrs. Scratch. I'm going to teach her to curse. 

Everyone Writes. But Is Everyone a Writer? Workshops hosted by published authors like Elizabeth Gilbert and nonauthors like Caroline Calloway have commodified creativity. (NYT)

I'm writing great bestsellers in my head most of the time,
and so I'd like to teach you how it's done (for one thin dime.)
My workshops are amazing, and you'll find your inner muse.
I guarantee afflatus, and so what have you to lose?
First we tackle writer's block, that baffling disease
that keeps the pages lily white and sends you to your knees.
The answer is quite simple and it even might surprise --
just pull up your cold laptop and then start to plagiarize.
Copy anything you like, and soon you're on your way
to something extra special (til the lawyers have their say.)
Then you need an agent, one who's got your back for sure;
who charges for their services like it is haute couture.
They'll find a publisher who knows the value of your work
and promptly gives your manuscript to some poor shipping clerk.
Now's the time for patience, for you're not yet in the clover.
In fact it may take longer than for Hell to freeze all over.
But here is my great secret when your manuscript is stalled:
Dish some dirt on Trump's White House, and make it really scald.
Even if it's made up like a fairy tale by Grimm
the critics will all love you and in cash you'll surely swim.
And once you're rich and famous I do hope you'll keep in mind
that I will not resent it if you keep my pockets lined . . . 

New Video Surfaces Showing Trudeau in Blackface, Compounding Scandal (NYT)


It came to pass, after the shooting died down and the fires were put out, that the government hadn't completely dissolved after all. Remnants of federal agencies, with clerks and managers, crawled out of their hidey holes and began to reassemble the national infrastructure.
One of the first things they did was to patch together a new federal agency, and make me the head of it. It's called the Bureau of Facelessness, and I and my staff are tasked with the job of wiping out every face in the United States.
Eyebrows must be removed. And eyes, with their shifting and disturbing colors, are plucked out with a painless laser process -- free of charge, I might add. Noses, of course, are what caused most of the carnage during the last five years. The Big Noses against the Small Noses, and the Hairy Noses against the Clean Noses. It was all blood, sweat, and boogers. We use a very efficient nose acid that melts 'em down like wax in the sunlight. Mouths may remain, under certain circumstances, but there are no lips allowed; they were always extremely divisive. When the procedure is finished, the facial skin is tinted lime green. Only lime green. Babies look so darn cute with those lime green faceless faces!
Our bureau has processed almost the entire population now -- with only a few pockets of determined facists remaining, and we're getting to them PDQ. 
Just the other day one of our crack teams cornered a dangerous specimen in the wilds of Maine, and I helo'd out to be in on the kill -- or rather, the unfacing.
It was apparent that the man would not give up without a fight, and we already had sixteen agents down, so I asked for a bullhorn and addressed the man in his shack as calmly as I could:

"You're outnumbered, friend. C'mon out and we'll forget the sixteen dead agents and the parking tickets" I said to him. "You can have a clean slate." He didn't care for my pun very much, and nearly winged me with his rifle. 

"Okay" I said angrily. "If that's the way you want it, that's the way you'll get it!"

I ordered the remaining agents to open fire with their howitzers and bazookas. The shack was soon reduced to a smoldering pile of embers, and our facist came out with his hands up. In a case like this a little rough justice is appropriate, so I had the boys give him the economy face fix -- with a butter knife.

Outside of these minor contretemps the program is going swimmingly. And peace is returning to our once brutalized nation. When reporters ask, in that strange lipless lisp, when I'm having my own face removed I'm glad to tell them that it's already been done. In fact, I and all my staff have taken things to the next logical step; we've had everything removed from the neck up. It makes for smooth sailing in the bureau, believe you me!

Verses from Headlines in the Washington Post -- The Washington Monument was still being built when the Know-Nothings attacked it. -- Those UFO videos are real, the Navy says, but please stop saying ‘UFO’ -- Beto O’Rourke calls for federal legalization of marijuana, government stipends for ex-offenders .

Politics in Washington has always been insane.
Partisan shenanigans do not require brain.
Mugwumps and the Know-Nothings were just an early form
of the locust ninnyhammers that today still swarm.


The little green men have come down to see
what's going on in our U.S. Navee.
And when they are done surveying our ships
they will unleash their great man-eating thrips.
But our doughty sailors ain't scared in the least;
they'll roast up the bugs for an admiral's feast.
And if those green runts still won't go away,
we'll lock 'em all up in Guantanamo Bay!


It's pie in the sky from that Beto O'Rourke,
a modern day genie we had to uncork.
A nation of potheads he wants to produce,
then enrich jailbirds for escaping the noose.
I also have heard, if I do not mistake,
he'd like to add sugar to sweeten Salt Lake.
And then bring back reruns of Mindy & Mork,
that runcible, dunce-able Beto O'Rourke!

Reply to a Friend Who is Losing His Job in Hawaii

If you do lose your work I hope you can replace it with a strong sense of play, and of 'goofing off.' There is no better place in the world, not even Thailand, for a man to goof off than in Hawaii. I am creating a theory that the only real difference between men and women is that men never completely lose their sense of play while women do -- that's why they can't bear to stop working ever; but a man should reject the old myth that he is defined by his work. He's NOT; he's defined by his play. In my case, that's writing and creating postcards. In your case I imagine it's playing the drums and pretending to be a sex starved mooncalf. 
Men should dedicate themselves to playing at things, like children. I play at my poetry and photography, just to see what happens -- not to create great art. If there is a serious purpose behind my play I try to obscure it and hide it as much as possible. When God made the giraffe and the octopus I think he was showing his sense of playfulness -- which we mortal men should all try to emulate.
But whatever happens to you, just remember that I will be eating at a Thai restaurant later today and leaving as my tip several gold foil covered chocolate coins . . .

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Verses from Headlines in the Washington Post -- Merriam-Webster adds non-binary pronoun ‘they’ to dictionary -- Trump administration to revoke California’s power to set stricter auto emissions standards.

I do not wish to ever chide
a person who cannot decide
which gender they would rather be,
but must we change our glossary?
It is an old man's bitter fate
that language skills deteriorate;
I want my Webster's to abide
the way it was before fluoride.


An older president is fine;
I see no problems coming
from a chief of state who must
eat his food by gumming.
With libido put to bed
and peacefully a-snoring,
at least an older president
will not go out a-whoring.


Out there in the Golden State
Trump has sealed their breathing fate.
Without tougher standards they
will asphyxiate some day.
But polluting gasoline
must be given lights of green;
all because such fossil fuels
are part of Mr. Trump's crown jewels.