A couple of nights ago, my friend Tulip called from Long Beach. Some of you who have been around this blog since the beginning will remember Tulip because I mentioned her in some of my first posts here on EEOTPB. Tulip and I were really good friends at one time, but we had a falling out over nothing really and although neither of us was truly angry at the other, we fell out of touch over an inappropriate barb aimed at a political personality who shall remain nameless here.

That’s the way most old friendships end. All is going well, and then there are a couple of terse words about something nonsensical and the phone goes dead and stays dead forever. These days there is no telephone receiver to slam down in its cradle in disgust. No telephone booth to rush forth from in the middle of a rainy night, leaving the receiver dangling from its cord…just the dead weight of a smart phone, heavy in your hand, which can be immediately redirected to social media to confirm whatever we need to confirm about our own particular viewpoint or belief. In the end, I think we all might be better friends if we had landlines tethered to the earth.

So, until two days ago, I had not spoken to Tulip in years. But she sent me a card at Christmas this past year saying she’d remarried and was moving to Long Beach, and her new husband was recently furloughed from one of the airlines where he’d worked for more than a decade as a flight attendant. She told me she had given up smoking and she had been watching lots of YouTube videos. She was painting. She was drinking red wine instead of gin. She said she was taking vitamins every day and she and Gavin (not his real name) were planning a trip to Costa Rica in the fall. She was walking ten thousand steps a day and she wanted to go zip lining in the rain forest. She told me she was going to Weight Watchers and reading a book a week. Gavin was taking cooking classes online.

We talked about the day we met in Muir Woods in 1980 and about how she’d driven out to California from Minnesota in the late 70s to work for a paint company in the Bay Area.

But all of that was in the past. Like Reaganomics and the Carter administration. Like B1B Bob Dornan. But this is today, and the pandemic had hit Tula and Gavin hard. Tulip wanted to move to Phoenix, but Melvin hated the desert. I suggested Tacoma but Tulip cut me off. Fed Ex was at the door she said, and she had to go. Fed Ex was delivering dog food for their rescue Chihuahua named Minnie Pearl.

Then it was time to go.  I told Tulip I was  happy for her new life. I suggested that they move to Denver, but she said no. Gavin is not a skier. I suggested the Midwest, but she said it wasn’t in her blood any longer. St. Paul had left her drained even after all these years. She said the winters would kill  her. It was all over in an instant. Tulip went her way and I went mine and she said she’d call back in a couple of weeks.

On the road to Brush Trail

My password expired today,
or so they said,
I was busy reading an article
about Brussel sprouts and
another about the
death of Dylan Thomas.
And another about the Hollywood sign.
There is a hiking trail, just so
you know — Brush Canyon Trail.
It takes you to the sign.
We will hike it someday, you
& me. In better times.
Today I want to
trade a stock that I read about
drinking late one night and the
guy who said the pick was solid
was the same guy who said that :

“All the Gold in California” by
the Gatlin Brothers was the best
fucking song ever written.
I listen to it on my vintage

Walkman, hiking,  mornings near
Mt. Pocono.
Now, we are almost on the trail again.
No cell phones, Sweetie.
No technology.
We are in the Scouts,
pioneering our way through the
Rocky Mountain West.

Put one foot ahead of the other.
We are like Lewis and Clark
trying to find the Pacific.
You and me.
We are trying to find the

best place to buy Brussel
sprouts in Long Beach, look it up you say
to me
“it is at your fingertips Mr. Clark”

lesser mountains

clamber up the ladder
rest your elbows on the ledge
don’t overthink your next breath
consider the Himalayas —
as mountains you won’t visit

forget K2; think Polecat Peak
forget Everest; think Stowe.
think Mount Sunflower
and Oklahoma High Top.

Great peaks are beyond you.

Silence is a decade away
it stings and you
hear it when you bed
down at night, near
the horses…

circle the wagons

wear your best hat to Safeway
flirt with the checkout girl
she won’t remember you

vegetables are your solace
cheap wine your friend

Seneca is your confident,

Beethoven is for late night
Strauss for morning

scratch that lottery ticket
&  buy your way out,
or, have your body

quick frozen in one of those vats
out in Michigan (think Mount Curwood)
wait for the cure
to arrive in the 34th century

you could wake
to a dozen or more years of this

Screen door 1971

Screen door – I miss you.
I miss your frame,

your spring,
your hook
your eye.
Man, that’s a door
for the ages.
Hang it outside in the
storm and wait.

You won’t keep out the drunks,
or the memories.
Or the dirt from the past,
or the gravel dust from the road,
or the bad blood or
You won’t keep out,
Aunt Laura.
But you do a
good job with the

You allow the first breath of
spring to waft in across the
mud porch.
How they slam you,
you damned old
green, painted – bastard.
But after midnight
I close you gently, old relic
from 1955.
You creak
like petrified bones headed for the

In the daytime, I’d let you fly
fast and hard – wood on wood.

The day I left home
I closed you for the last time.
I was smoking then
I had a suitcase
from Montgomery Wards,
and a  half dozen 8 track

You Locked behind me
I drove the Ford Fairlane
out of town.


There is a door
we walk thru every day.
We carry our coffee in paper cups.
We drive south on the
freeway. We look North
toward the Sound.
We look West toward the pier.
We prepare for
shit that nobody told us about.

We look for cheap gas.
We call the insurance company.
We worry about the keys,
we left in our pants.
We worry if Kansas
will ever welcome us
We wander like there are
no other humans in the
Milky Way.

Let us down easy God.

Look up.

Mars is out tonight. Is it  red?

Looks pink to me. She says. Mars that is.

my July

You remember July like
you’ve lived it
for ten thousand years.
Since before the buffalo
roamed the Great Plains.
Since before the ice bridge.
Remember July 1973 when
you discovered Truman Capote.
In Cold Blood.
You: reading
and tearing off the pages
while parked in your 1967 Ford
three quarter ton truck.
Ten miles outside of Topeka.
Broke. Nowhere to go.
Capote: The Best damned writer of the 20th century.
How many miles to Holcomb, Kansas?
Heat wave full on – fuck heat,
and barking dogs.
Remember grain sorghum and
Oat straw.
And fear of lightning,
And 45 caliber guns.
In July, it’s all better
after dark.
Fireworks and snakes,
and all the things that
pile up on the front lawn.
Sparklers and trash.
Locals moving on to jobs out west.
Sleazy salesmen selling properties
on the lake.
Pontoon boats fishing gear.
First things first.
You should
have hitchhiked across the USA
and written a book.
Too few days, are never enough
for the old dogs,
so enjoy the ride to the
beach, enjoy your
life to the end but do not
confront my July

The logger

When I was ten, I wanted
to be a lumberjack.
There was a I picture
I saw in a book —  2 guys
on a two man cross cut-saw,
cutting  down a tree bigger
than the business district
of Champaign, Illinois.
God give me a saw, and give me
the woods, I said.

The woods
live forever.  There is no end to
the trees.
They’ve been growing for
6 billion years.
Saw them down.
All of them.
Take me with you
if you can.
Take me out west.
To big tree country.
Fuck the plains
and North Dakota, there’s
too much dirt.
And screw Long Beach,
there’s too much water.
I’ve no fear of flying, or trains.
Drop me off in Kalispell.
Lend me a hundred
dollars, old pal,  so I can
live off the land.


Oregon —
is the promised land —
I’ll take a bus
to Bend.
I’ll wait tables
and take hotel
I will wait for the last of them
to leave town.
I’ll keep a bag packed, for I
pack like a prophet.
I read the Bible
and the Book of Mormon.
I’m a Buddhist by faith.


In time,
I will take my axe deep into the
woods and chop until
I am blind. Until I find nirvana
or Jesus or the Saints.

Or until I cross the river
into Portland.
I’ll see my day’s work loaded onto
flatbed trailers. Pulled by
Peterbilt and Kenworth
tractors and
Trucked down icy
mountain roads.

A lumberjack am I.

I want to watch the timber
disappear south toward
Klamath Falls.

By aunt Lana’s husband,
Gideon, was a lumberjack.
and part time preacher.

 He drove
cable cars in San Francisco
in the 1950s, then one day
he quit his job and
drove up to Washington State
in an Edsall car and got a job
as a logger. He must have
cut a million trees
and became a world
class logger.
He bought a house in Enumclaw
and he died there in 1971
a happy man


When I was 25, they told me I was
Killing trees.
Back away from that copier
young man.
Your 440-page document
does not need to be copied in triplicate
— think of the planet. Tree killer, you
need to find a job that fits you.

Beach run

You're running on the beach
     at sunrise.
          Be careful cowboy.
You've got 65 years on those lungs,
     but you're doing damn good
          for an ex-smoker.
               (with 27 million packages of
                king sized mentholated
                lights behind you),
‘Gasp’ is not a word
     you want some vandal to
          spray paint on
‘Fear’ is just another storm,
     cloud hanging,
          3 and a half,
               miles out on
                    the horizon line.
You were born to sail,
     but they handed you
Sail on.
     You needed sky but they
           handed you Boodles gin and
Pillage on.
You old buccaneer...
     you’ve no disease. You're
          good for ten more years
               maybe 11.
No shoes necessary
          clop thru the sand
               like one of those old
                    Central Park carriage
The haze will burn 
     off by
Push on.
Until you feel like that
     Bourbon Street
          trombone player
then she's there,
standing over you,
the lady in the hat
with the small dog,
and she asks if you need  help.
Lie to her, 
and say you've been doing this
for twenty years
maybe 21



rethinking art school

They want the best for us
don’t they?
the teacher
who told you
that your work
reminded her
of Paul Cezanne
and you thought of
that lady
in her
green hat.

And you think that you
would have painted her
…you would have
softened the tones
drawn her out, &

…pulled that amused
into a bemused smile…
…but you
knew in a flash

(13 years later)
that you didn’t paint
like anyone in

you knew it then
didn’t you…
that you
couldn’t paint anything
wouldn’t paint anything
refused to paint anything

of great worth


You’d fail at art
and data entry
lock smith-ing
and telemarketing
and finally
computer programming.
And you’d come to deal
with all of that,
in good time,
and you’d find yourself
the misplaced
driver of the year
for the most prestigious
trucking company in

Friendly fire

For fear of intruders, should I
keep a gun in the nightstand,
unleash the dogs, play Bach at
high volume?

Post a watch at the cemetery gate,
notify the adjacent homeowners.
But don’t bury me here
in my pin-striped suit.

Wait  until my eyes turn
the color of fresh radishes
then carry me back across
the Hudson; pick your time.

Beach the Renault in Hoboken
leave the keys in the ignition.
Fire them all, the naysayers,
the doomsday prophets.

Surround yourself with
the positive; America is
for the intensely spiritual now.
So load the damn thing.