Sunday, September 1, 2019

Modern Library

When my parents died, I inheirted their libraries.  One set of 28 books were from The Modern Library series. 

The series was created in 1917 with the intent to provide American readers with inexpensive reprints of what were considered important European titles and a few contemporary American books. 

The books were issued in compact, hard-cover with a textured cloth in two-tone finish and without dust jackets. (There are different color schemes but I've never figured out if there is a signficance to the color combinations.)  The series adopted a running torchbearer as its logo.  The Modern Library was sold in 1927 to a new publisher, Random House, lead by editor Bennett Cerf. Random House added more titles over time billing tself as “The Modern Library of the World’s Best Books” but kept its mission the same.  The series, published thorough the 1930s, reached some 280 titles and covered authors from Aristotle to Zola.  

I recall seeing their distinctive dark spines on our book shelves as a kid but they looked too intimidating to explore except for one--Famous Ghost Stories (this edition is dog eared and the spine split at the seams because I carried it around for a time but read only a couple of stories).  

I doubt I'll ever read them all but they make a cozy collection for a small shelf and when in doubt, you'll always have one of the world's best books available. 

 For a history of The Modern Library see this one given to the Book Club of California

Sunday, July 7, 2019


Duel at the Haiku Coral

Junior fought a haiku duel
with the old witch
and won!

Beach Combing

Everyone is a collection of stories
and when they die
their stories scatter
washing up on different shores
to be discovered by beach combers
or stay buried under the sand.

Eternity Road

Driving eternity road
in an 18-wheeler of flammable emotion
the rest stops are shuttered
except for the coin-operated machines
offering heroism, selfishness, and endless confusion.

Dark and Light

Dawn and dusk and the boundaries are’t clear
but I see rivers of darkness
rushing through the night
Curl away the brown wrapper and there’s a new morning

Here Be Monsters

Dark poetry drove sailors over the edge of the map.

I Saw This in a Movie

A figure on the horizon
the hero waits

too long
deceived and disarmed
but if he had acted too soon
it would have been murder.

Battle of the Bands:

Honorable idiots vs. Imbeciles for Hire
Wrong Again vs. Revenge Men
Favorite Phantons vs. Real Imposters
Fancy Types vs. Russian Tattoo

Traces of Robert Frost at my Graduation

The end of college
was an evening view on a hilltop
looking east
but I forgot all those people and possibilities
out west.

Asleep After Indian Food

I entered the wrong dream
someone else’s family nodding their skulls
but I got to feel the smart dust on my galaxy brain.

Another Absurdist Oxymoron Dialogue Overheard at the Bus Stop

“I thought infinity was farther away than this?”
“Maybe you’re looking at it from the wrong end.”

Who or What

He wasn’t interested in what the man was saying
only to whom he was saying it.

She wasn’t interested to whom the woman was talking
only what she was saying.

Solitude Times Three

The lone boy
alone in his house
all alone in his town.


We’re cozy here
with our beach bonfire,
tiny intellects and changing seasons
sending our sparks to the stars
Our fires burn down
leaving nothing but sleeping embers.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Saturday, June 1, 2019


Cartoons present a wide and nearly inexhaustable spectrum so with this list, I'm emphasizing my disclaimor that the lists presented are completely random and based on whatever I happen to have lying around.  After a couple of cups of coffee this morning, here's a few.

Favorite Haunts, Charles Addams (1976).  A collection of Addams "greatest hits" from the leading cartoonist for the New Yorker who inspired the Addams Family TV show and unacknowledged god father of dark humor.  As a kid, I spent many a rainy Saturday afternoons in our basement flipping through the different Addams cartoon collections.  Inheirited from my parents book collection.  

Cat, Tiny Footprints, Two Guys Fooling Around with the Moon, Whack Your Porpupine, B. Kliban (1975-1982).  B.Kliban started with cat meat loaf drawings and moved on to other more surreal subjects. Bizaar and slightly distrubing, I bought most of them in the local mall where I grew up and even had them at collecge where someone was always picking them up.

Unscientific Americans, Parallel Universes, Roz Chast (1986).  Delightfully skewed views of personalities and places in the world.  Lucky enough to buy one her books from the author at a book fair in New York in 2007.

Work is Hell, Love is Hell, School is Hell, the Big Book of Hell, Matt Groening (1988-2003).  Before there was the Simpsons, Matt Groening created cartoon books of Hell.  Bought at various book stores.  

Saul Steinberg, Whitney Museum of American Art (1978).  Steinberg's work borders between cartoon and art.  Another New Yorker featured artist and designed one of their most iconic cover's, The New Yorker's View of the World that has been copied and paradoied.  A Christmas Gift from my mother 1983 with the inscription ...getting this thing was next to impossible...

Tiffany's Table Manners for Teenagers, Walter Hoving (1961).  Not really a cartoon book but including because its many illustrations can border on the comic if you're feeling ironic.  This was a childhood book my mother bought to assist my sister Ann and me with learning some basic table manners. Something of the opposite effect took hold and Ann would always hold up the illustrations of what not to do.   Inheirited from parents book collection. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Summer 1969

I crashed my Matchbox Ferraris
on home-made gravel roads
Saturday nights
the thunder of stock car engines
traveled miles across cornfields
the Doppler effect
making their revolutions rise and fall
like the din of a faraway battle
the thunder lasted a thousand summers
but maybe it was five or six.

My parents' guests laughed and drank
on the patio under the shadows of an 80-year old
oak tree spared by the contractor
leaving it encircled like a druid meeting place
for the first time humans cast their shadows on the moon
I ran from our black and white TV
to the patio with urgent dispatches
The Eagle has landed
Stepping off the LEM now
not one Christopher Columbus among the guests
to come watch TV with me.

Morning was the hum of a Briggs and Stratton lawn mower
marching up and down the yard
spinning silver steel against green grass
but in the afternoon
sprawled on the lawn
it was the transient drone
of an unseen plane
following a care-free flight plan
threshing its blade through the hot blue sky
and after it's gone
I can still inhale the smell of cut grass.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Five Cent Amusements

The dunce did a dance
with his cup of love.


The fox in the dark
makes the house dogs bark


Most everything is expectations
that never happen.

Weather is the first gift from nature.


On stage with my fears
every day I walk out the door


Soon my time
will be someone else’s time


After the storm
broken branches
on the dark pavement
look like overgrown tarantulas.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Words Useful Foul and Savory

Masters of the Universe

Coffee shop idlers
everyone at the center
of their MacBook universe.

Supreme Coffee Brain

After the large latte
and venti dark roast
there were fifteen minutes
where I was at the mountaintop
master of all knowledge
or at least a Sunday New York Times 

Then, slowly
my foot slipped from the summit
and I spiraled down the caffeine chasm 
crushed in an avalanche
of my pedestrian ignorance

Sound Memory

The sound that comes
from one small town is the place
where I was young.

Outspeak the Dark Music

Frantic man yelling
in the distance
to fugitive listeners

Leaf and star
burn at night

The destiny of diamonds
is dust

Bonehouse is the body
said Beowolf

Words I Like


You're No Haiku

Shark fin
old gin
make you grin

Minor Word Distortions

Company Panic
Steel Plates in Head
Home Despot
Artist Rectal

Band Names + Songs

Stage Presence - Last Noise
Milton’s Angels - Robbed of My Heart
Death Trick - Idiot of Man
Bad Samaritans - Red Changes Everything

Memory Tricks

If life is so precious
we shouldn’t forget any of it,
or come equipped with better memories.