So Nice, Neat and Simple

Everybody wants to play by the rules,
it’s nice, neat, simple — rules. What is
not to like? What is not to live by? What

is not right? What is not so boring? And
then along comes Evil and it isn’t nice,
neat, simple. There are no rules except

find out the weakness of the other and
play it, play it, play it, make it sound
nice, neat, simple except it is any-

thing but nice, neat, simple. It is fascin-
ating; it is the forbidden fruit, the naughty
image, it is the place you want to go but

don’t want anyone else to know. And
then Evil knows and tells you and ruins
the whole damn thing and then we

are what we never, ever thought we
would be — prisoners in hell. And the
Devil shouts, “Gottcha!!!” No, no, no.

So, go tell it on the mountain; shout
it from the rooftop; uncover the coverup;
show the lie for what it is; don’t sell

your soul; live life and don’t leave
a trace; live a life of grace — it’s
a gift so nice, neat and simple.

Filled to the Brim

Othello, Desdemona, Falstaff,
Henry V, Lear, Macbeth, Juliet,
Puck, Ophelia, Rembrandt, Fra’
Filippo Lippi, Botticelli — names,
just names, strange names that
came alive in wonder and glory,
beauty, comedy and tragedy for
a junior college freshman like
when he was just a little boy
and his mother took him, for
the first time, to the neighbor-
hood candy store with enor-
mous, glass jars filled to the

Taking the Dog for a Walk

So, she just said, “He’s such a nice guy,”
in response to his reading aloud
a friend’s encouraging note.
To which he responded,
“Hey, what about the notes that I wrote?
And by the way, you know
you greet the dog with more enthusiasm
than you greet me.”
To which she responded,
“Not over the pity party yet, I see.”
“That’s cold and you are about to
be unfriended.”
“But I’m not on Facebook.”
“And our friendship has just ended,
even though I’ll love you
till we meet in heaven.”
“Oh, you’re so sweet.
Shall we take the Chocolate Lab
for a walk together up and
down the street?”
“Let me put my shoes on.”

No-o-o-o Expectations

He sends out e-mails that he
thinks will be of interest to
friends and family, some

about trending topics, some
pithy poems, some political
punditry, some things he has

gotten in the mail to which
he responds with a thanks
and passes on. His return

on the mail? Nada. It would
be easier to get out of jail
on bail for a murder charge

than to get a simple response.
And then he recalls the sage
advice, “If you have no

expectations, you won’t be
disappointed,” and he thinks
of the title of a blogger’s

blog, “Blogging so I don’t
drive e-mail friends crazy.”
He thinks of the title of

a travel/food show by a now-
deceased show host and how
the show was introduced,

with an elongated, drawn-out
announcement: “No-o-o-o Reser-
vations,” and he thinks he will

recommend a change of title to
the blogger who doesn’t want to
upset e-mail friends, “No-o-o-o

Expectations,” but he doesn’t
know how to get the baritone
voice to go with it.

Did Hyman Have Any Idea?

It’s the birthday of songwriter Harold Arlen, born Hyman Arluck in Buffalo, New York in 1905. He wrote over 400 songs, including “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “Stormy Weather,” “I’ve Got the World on a String,” and “Over the Rainbow.” “Over the Rainbow” was the last song he wrote for the movie The Wizard of Oz, and it came to him on a rainy day as he was driving down Sunset Boulevard in his convertible.

—- from the Writer’s Almanac, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020

We just go through life
experiencing the moment
and then the moment
sticks, because, more often
than not, it is associated
with the music of which we
often don’t know the origin.
My brother-in-law says
that there will never be
an interpretation of “Over
the Rainbow” like Judy
Garland’s. Meanwhile,
I cry every time I listen
to Eva Cassidy hitting
the high note of the last
“Somewhere…” and I
am filled with unquench-
able but delectable pain.
I can’t stop playing that
song. I’m addicted to the
anguish of Eva’s all-too-
brief life and its evocation
of my own experiences and,
to think, my brother-in-law
and I owe it all to one Hy-
man Arluck as he drove
down Sunset Boulevard on
a rainy day in his convertible.

Out of the Past — A Valentine Sonnet

Out of the past, you suddenly appeared
and I stared, thinking again I had seen you where?
Years ago or was it smoke and mirrors?
Please don’t play with my feelings, if you care.

I sat there ever so sensitive and hurt
thinking I could never recover from death’s
near-fatal sting. I knew I had to avert
another blow to take another breath.

Yes, I had seen you years and years before —
such a sweet, young beauty that you were.
You, too, were filled with such grief galore
but it did not hide the beauty that you are.

Twenty-four years and counting, my sweet Valentine.
I am the most fortunate of all that our lives are entwined.

Candy for the Baby

The less than redoubtable Ms. Hicks
returning to the house
will try to help the child play pick-up sticks.
He cries, “Today, I plan to dispense
with sticks more than just a few,
but before I do,
I demand to fondle you.”
In the corner, drools a leering Pence.
Ms. Hicks says, “Oh, cherished child,
from hence go thence
and do what you wish to do.
I am yours through and through.”
Echoing the Butler, the First Madam
says, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Tis a Gift

Ockham’s Razor
finds my favor.
It remains as sharp
as sharp can be:
Explanations should
be as simple
as simple can be;
Entities should not
be multiplied
beyond necessity.
I once was called out
by an elder who
had no doubt
that I was goldbricking
and he wanted
to give me a figurative
For him, work
was punching
a time clock
and crunching
the task
the quitting horn
For me, time
was of the essence;
do the job right
with total presence
but don’t expend
more energy
than necessary
so you can
and multiply
A product of
his environment,
he remained
he believed in
plodding along.
I believed in
singing a song:
“Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.”
“Tis a gift to be simple,
tis a gift to be free,
tis a gift to come down
where you need to be.”
Excuse me,
I think I need to be home
to play with the grandkids
while listening
to Aaron Copeland’s
“Appalachian Spring.”