Friday, March 17, 2017

Living it Up and Settling Down

Of late, I’d rather stroll than stomp
Most days I’d rather rest than romp
Wild was fun, and so is tame
The pleasure level is the same

We discover wondrous things
When we spread or fold our wings
Raising hell is such a lift
Landing safe’s an equal gift

The past’s a blast with much to give
But it’s a lousy place to live
Grin for then, but then return
Still much to love and yet to learn

We’re off to see the world, no doubt
Dig the treasure, jump and shout
Of all the fortunes we can find
The Holy Grail is peace of mind

Pequeño Rancho

The best holiday of all is finally upon us: St. Patrick’s Day. Sure, and I may be a bit biased, but bein a leprechaun, it’s to be expected.
“Aren’t you a tad tall for a leprechaun?”
I’m from Texas, and as you know, everything is bigger in Texas, includin yer leprechauns. I guess you could say we’re hybrid leprechauns. The politically correct term is Texichaun.
We lived on a ranch in Shamrock, Texas: The Bonsai Ponderosa. There was Pa, Little Joe, Dinky Hoss, Adam Ant, and me (Tom Thumb). We raised miniature mules and small potatoes. I even had a Shetland shillelagh. Life was hard in those days; we grew up quick and we came up short.
“How does a Texichaun differ from a leprechaun?”
For one thing, at the end of our rainbow there’s a pot of chili. And we celebrate the 17th a bit differently: Instead of drinkin green beer, we drink beer ‘til we turn green. As dusk settles, all gather round the campfire and recite the Leprechaun Manifesto.
“How’s that go?”
It starts out, “Wee the people…”
“My blarney alarm just went off. Hey, look at the time. I gotta get on outta here.”
May the trail rise to meet ye.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Got My Mojo Playin

Had my mojo workin, workin hard with overtime;
Livin in tall cotton, life was sweet and love was sublime.
When my mojo got laid off, it all came to a screachin halt.
“We had to downsize to survive. It ain’t nobody’s fault.”
I secretly suspected my mojo might be past its prime.

Sent my mojo to the Vo-Tech to pick up some useful skills.
Made a new Wahoo budget, and cut out some favorite frills.
My mojo had the know-how, but now was not overly enthused.
Workin part-time, pinchin dimes, we were alive but not amused.
Wine, women, and song: they were all gone, along with the thrills.

My Guardian Angel talked me down off of the wall.
She said my picture was fuzzy, hardly had any focus at all.
“Let’s walk,” She said, “Come on, I’ll show you where the real fun exists.
Just try not to kick yourself for all of the good times you’ve missed.”
My Mojo met us there, and I swear we really had a ball.

We made a frazzled worrywart laugh, and there’s not enough gold
To pay for the smile from the stranger we gave a hand to hold.
What a joy to have something to offer that lasts more than a day.
“Do unto others” became a whole lot more than a cliché.
 Success comes from blessing; the best stuff cannot be bought or sold.

Got my Mojo playing, playing for a better prize.
There’s no room for complaining or blaming it all on other guys.
Why are we here? I don’t know, but we’re all in this boat.
If we’ve a lick of sense, we’ll do all we can to keep it afloat.
Look past the disguise; there’s a friend; you can see it in their eyes.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Latest Knews

If I knew what was good for me my step would have more bounce.
I once knew that peace of mind is all that really counts.
I knew the best was yet to come, whatever came along.
Time was on my side; Life was singing my song.
I knew how to have a ball without a single dime.
I’m too busy earning dollars now and just don’t have the time.
I’d fret less and more readily grin
If I knew now what I knew then.

I knew how to share even when it wasn’t much.
Strangers weren’t so strange; I was easy to touch.
I tried to harmonize, even with a sour note.
I knew how to empathize—we’re all in this boat.
Everyone was one of us with something to admire;
Now I’m reduced to picking sides and preaching to the choir.
I’d be a better person, I’d be a better friend,
If I knew now what I knew then.

When did it get lost? Where did I get off the trail?
How did I forget? Why did my memory fail?
Who am I to say what’s a loss and what’s a win?
Sure wish I knew now what I knew then.

I knew nothing lasts except my everlasting soul.
I knew I had blind spots. That’s okay, God’s in control.
I knew there was something more important than me,
And didn’t take my cues from Congress or some clown on TV.
There was something grander going on, a greater good.
If my plans fell through, I knew they’d work out as they should.
I could be myself and not have to pretend
If I knew now what I knew then.

I did not have all the answers, and I knew nobody did.
Now I think I do and I’m flipping my lid.
I knew how to listen even when I disagreed;
I figured if I did, we might all get what we need.
I was once content to let the rats run their race.
When I had better questions, I was in a better place.
Been thinking lately maybe I could get there again
If I knew now what I knew then.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Incredible Likeness of Being

Toshi paused to check her hair,
And who did she see standing there,
But the mirror image of
A person whom she did not love.
Did not love is understated:
She saw someone whom she hated.
“Mirror, mirror, what the hell?
Don’t hold out on me; pray tell.”
The mirror said, “Look near; look far;
What you see is what you are.
The traits you notice in your brother
You share one way or another.
When you sorry bastards see,
Your deeds are just as dastardly.
Grand or grotesque, fine or foolish,
Someone swell, or downright ghoulish,
To some extent you must be it,
If in other folks you see it.
Do not your opinions marshal,
Just observe it. Be impartial.
Be aware as you explore
That we find what we’re looking for.”

(Originally published in TheLonesome Wizard Boys' Campfire Tales)


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Truck Stop Christmas

This is a true story. It was told to me by a guy I met on a Riverboat. That’s how I know it’s true; who could doubt the veracity of a River Rat? He didn’t use any backup singers when he told it to me, but I thought since this is going out on the Internet and all, I should polish it up a bit.

I spared no expense to fly these women in from Nashville. They are, I am proud to tell you, the same backup singers who did all that “Wah-ooo” stuff on C.W. McCall’s records.

I am laboring under a serious deadline, so the singers and I haven’t had much time to practice. We will do the best we can. I’ll play the part of the Trucker (imagine a Red Sovine-ish, Tex-Ritter-On-Acid kind of thing). It goes a little somethin like this:

Singers:

It was a Truck Stop Christmas,    
With a light snow fallin down,
In Penciltucky, but it could have been     
In any other town.    
The miracle that happened    
We may never understan,    
But, here to tell the story    
Is a Truck Drivin Man...

Trucker:
Well, I'z—

Singers:

A Truck Drivin Maa-aan. Wah-ooo.

Trucker:

Skewz me. I'z drivin down a stretch of Interstate, an' I'z really gettin hungry. Every time I'd hit them airbrakes, I'd hear 'em sayin, "Peeech Pie!" And my air horn was tellin me how I like my coffee: BLAAAAAK! BLAAAAK! Oh, I know I shouldn of been barrelin down the Interstate, hittin my airbrakes and blarin the horn like Judgment Day—that’s what too much marijuana’ll do to a man. Prob’ly why I was so hungry, too. Yeah, I’d of given a month’s pay for a big ol’ piece of “Peeech Pie!” I was tryin to remember if there was a Truck Stop on this p'tickler stretch of Interstate; that big diesel motor kept tellin me that there "Wudden! Wudden! Wudden-Wudden-Wudden!"

Singers:

Just a homesick gear jammer
Runnin low on love and luck,
Thinkin 'bout his woman,
And talkin to his truck...

Trucker:

I was 'bout to—

Singers:

Talkin to his truu-uuck. Wah-ooo.

Trucker:

I'm sorry...just kind of wave at me or somethin when it’s my turn, okay? I was 'bout to wet my pants when I came whizzin into town; the lights of an unfamiliar Truck Stop caught my eye. When I walked in, there was this old waitress draggin a dirty rag across the novelty mud flap display. She smiled at me and said, "Merry Christmas, Son." I said, "Lordee, ma'am, is it Christmas already?" She said that yes, yes it was, and I bet my jaw must of hit the floor. Seemed like only yesterday it was October—that's what too much crystal methadrine'll do to a man.

She looked at me for a long time, then said, "You know, I had a son who'd be about your age. He took off drivin trucks and I never did hear from him again. I kept hopin he'd stop in here one day—preferably at Christmas, so I'd get a double dose of the willies."

Well, I put my coffee back in the cup and said, "Ma'am, you can call it coincidence if you want to, but I had a mother who'd be about your age. I talked to Daddy the day before he died, and he told me Mama had missed me so bad, she went out and got a job at a Truck Stop, hopin someday I'd stop in."

Singers:

A Truck Stop Christmas—   
Don't it make you weep?    
The snow continued fallin;
It was really gettin deep...

Trucker:

She said she—

Singers:

Really gettin dee-eeep. Wah-ooo.

Trucker:

Damnit! She said she knew her boy was never gonna walk in at Christmas or any other time, for it was on this p'tickler stretch of Interstate, ten years ago, that her son was toppin a hill and had to swerve to miss a bus load of kids. After he'd plowed through a ditch and nearly turned over, he stuck his head out the window to cuss at the bus driver and his hat blew off. So he jumped out to get it. He should have stopped the truck first, because he was goin 90 miles an hour when he jumped out. Yeah, he was in movin violation of the law of gravity.

She said she hoped I wasn't too disappointed about her not bein my mother, and I said, "Naw, I figured as much since I was only four years old when my mama started workin at a Truck Stop." I told her about a driverless truck that had passed me a few miles back: it was goin 90 miles an hour. I didn't think much about it at the time—that's what too much Night Train'll do to a man—but after hearin her story, I got a case of the hee-bee-gee-beez like you wouldn't believe. I leaned across the counter and held onto her tired old hand. I said, "Ma'am, you may not be my mother, but I'll bet you five dollars against the price of the pie and coffee that you can't name all 8 reindeer."

She started to cry and said this was the first time in ten years that Christmas had any meanin for her—she hadn even bothered to put up any decorations. Now that it felt like Christmas, and she knew it would be her last one, all she wished for in the whole wide world was somethin to make it look like Christmas. Well, it just so happened that I was haulin a hot load of cheap plastic Nativity scenes to Chicago for an eleventh-hour trainload sale. I made up my mind right then an' there that this old woman was gonna have one of 'em if it drove every dime store in Chi Town out of business. I said, "You wait right here, Ma'am; this is gonna be the best Christmas you ever had!"
     
Well...that's when I woke up.           
[military-drums-in-the-distance]

I woke up in a foxhole...about 15 miles from White Sands Missile Range. The First Sergeant was shakin me. When I looked up at him, there was a look of curiosity and concern in the narrow eyes that so resembled elongated lug nuts, chiseled into the weather-beaten leather that was his face—two eyes, one on either side of his nose. He told me I'd been yellin in my sleep, somethin 'bout drivin a truck.

I said, "But, Sarge! I am a Truck Driver!"
    
The curiosity and concern melted into a combination of compassion and sarcasm—with just a touch of amused weariness. He said, "Son, you are not a Truck Driver, for you see, that would be impossible."
     
"Why do you say that, Sarge?"
     
"For two reasons," Sarge said: "One, you are a chimpanzee. Two, you don't even have a driver's license."

Well, I thought about that for a moment. My disappointment turned to resignation. I quietly asked Sarge, "If…if I'm not a Truck Driver, then what am I?"

Sarge said, “Speak up, son, I can’t hear you.”

So I says out loud, I says, “If…if I’m not a Truck Driver, then what am I?”

He said, "You are an Astronaut. You just got back from a 5-year trip around Pluto. I don't know what happened to you up there, but I do know this: you are not a Truck Driver."
    
I sat there, chewin on that one for a good long while.
    
Sarge poured us both some coffee. The long silence was broken when I said, "Sarge, what month is this?"
    
He told me it was August.
    
"Well," I said, liftin my cup, "Feliz Nuevo Año, Sarge."

Sarge grinned, and raised his cup. "Happy Halloween, Kid."
    
I poured coffee all down the front of my flight suit—that's what too much weightlessness'll do to a man.

Singers:

It was a Truck Stop Christmas    
With magic in the air;    
It was the nightmare of a monkey,    
And a Mother's answered prayer.    
A mystery, a miracle,
We'll never understan;    
But it's notarized and witnessed    
By a Truck Drivin Man...    
A Truck Drivin Maa-aan. Wah-ooo.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Event Planning in Heaven

“This is going to be the best costume party ever. We were able to obtain a planet between Venus and Mars. This happening has a novel feature: It will last so long that everyone will forget what’s going on and start thinking it’s the—for lack of a better term—real world. The fun will be not in guessing who everyone else is but in trying to figure out who You really are. There will be plenty of clues, but folks will interpret them in any number of bizarre ways. It’ll be such a hoot to see how we react without the security of knowing. I’d be willing to bet that many, if not most, of us will be tricked into thinking we’re somehow better than the others, and we’ll express it in the most outrageous ways—skin color, hoarded resources, gender (I’ll explain what that means later; oh, it’s hysterical)—and we’ll use this new wrinkle we’re calling ‘twisted logic’ to support our positions. We’ll call our conclusions facts, seriously, while rarely digging deeper to see if how we construe the clues makes a lick of sense. You think the Dark Matter Fun House was scary? You ain’t seen nothin yet.”