Simone: Tottering into Decrepitude

Study for Travels in Hell

When I went to Blossom, our local organic grocery this morning, to buy 2 Jongolds and granola for my breakfast the next few days, Simone was on duty, and the only other person in the store.

Simone is a young woman—mid 20’s—slender with bobbed dark hair and dark eyes, a small, pierced nose, and a fiercely acerbic mouth atop a cupped chin. Her wit can be painful, it is so sharp, but, she is unfailingly funny and she has a mind that dances with a self-effacing brilliance.

When she tallied my purchases this morning, she asked me if I needed a bag and I said, yes, please, I didn’t want to have the apples end up rolling around under the accelerator or brake pedals on my brief drive home.

When my caution registered, I began laughing, and told her that I remembered how, 20 years ago, when I was teaching high school English in the Florida Panhandle, I would get off work in the afternoon and drive straight to the beach most days. On the way, while steering my way through 4 lanes of what was usually heavy traffic, I would remove my entire school teacher’s uniform, from necktie to underwear and re-attire myself in cut-offs and a T-shirt, often while drinking a beer.

And now, she said, you’re afraid you’ll kill yourself if you don’t bag your apples.

Yup, I told her, and she and I laughed together, although, I suspect, for different reasons, and I took my bagged apples and drove, safely, back to the cabin.


William Stafford & the Poetry of Possibilities

An episode of Average Mortal Radio in which, it is noted, the rains have stopped; William Stafford and the possibilities of being Fifteen are explored; Stafford reminds us that “Nobody cares if you stop here.”

Everything dies, but nothing ever goes away

“The only prisoner
is always in, not knowing what he’s done.?
-Richard Hugo

Mid-afternoon. I’m back at my machine now, home from the briefest reverie, a waking nap in my absent neighbors’ hammock. I had walked over to spread cracked corn for their ducks (as I’d promised to do while they are gone to California); on the roadside on the way, I stop beside a plush wall of wild roses, their faces blossoming in half-dollar-sized frills of pink. Pulling one closer, I inspect it for bees, then thrust my nose into its cup. Immediately, I smell Granny’s old house in Jasper County, Mississippi, and see her broad wrinkled forehead, her squat body, her braided crown of hair—and tears begin to grow like wild roses in my eyes.

As I feed the ducks, the black shadow of a vulture’s wings draws a dark small cloud over my head and the rocks where I cast a rain of golden grain. Before returning home, I climb into the hammock behind their house and close my eyes. I can feel hot sun on my unshaded cheek, the sway of the hammock, the sweep of a breeze just above bare. I hear the hollow rattle of ravens, a sparrow’s high chir, the rough cough of crows, electric insects, robins blowing thin whistles from the top of low trees, sheep crying to each other across the pasture behind the barbed wire, and a distant plane’s angry drone.

I think of James Wright’s poem about lying in a hammock, his concluding line: “I have wasted my life,? and I know in my arms and my belly that I am going to die, but I cannot believe it in my head. It is a lie and doesn’t have even the truth of the roll of a raven’s high tongue.

I have to get out of this job or get this job out of me. The monster’s teeth tear at my stomach, my chest, my arm, the temples of my head and the temples of my heart.

What is wrong with me that I let such a trivial beast gnaw my vitals…and what is vital? I heard this morning: “Expect a rock to be a rock.” Now it is up to me to listen.

Flesh & Armor: Music and An Interview With Liam Bailey

Photo by South

An episode of Average Mortal Radio in which Liam Bailey, musician, singer, songerwriter, reveals what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like today; delightful original music from “Liam Bailey” and “Flesh & Armor” are performed; listeners are encouraged to buy more homegrown music; and Liam reveals his soul’s deepest yearning. For more information about Liam, his music, his concert tours, and his CDs, please go to: and