Tuesday, February 16, 2010

FEAR - Original Post April 26, 2006

In 1818 Mary Shelley unleashed FRANKENSTEIN, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS on the literary world. This Gothic cautionary tale warned of an Industrial Revolution spinning out of control. Man, mad with arrogance, dared to enter the realm of God - the creation of human life! Victor von Frankenstein cobbled together pieces and parts (now pieces is pieces, but parts is parts) of discarded human remains to construct his monster.

I've always thought he was particularly lucky to have found body parts of similarly sized men. Had he used Shaquille O'Neal's left leg and my right the poor monster would have just spun counter-clockwise when it tried to move forward.

But I digress, my point was that Ms. Shelley warned of the horror of patchwork living creatures at a time when harvesting the DEAD to save the LIVING was a dread thought. Today, we can participate in a process thought noble and compassionate by simply indicating our willingness to be "harvested" on the back of our Drivers' License.

In the last 60 years, medicine has saved countless lives by attaching pieces and parts from the dead (soooo pig! sometimes even from the dead of other species) to the sick and dying.

Medical ethicists, philosophers and theologians struggled with early transplants - thinking them "a step too far" and evidence of Man's arrogant attempt to usurp God's power. Luckily, those arguments abated and settled themselves as the lives saved bore evidence of God's will for Medicine.

They have resurfaced, however, as we have begun to master the Human Genome and all of the potential industries that might flow from the application of our new Knowledge.

Stem cells and genes are just smaller pieces and parts, really. We are only just glimpsing the "blueprint" of human life - yet already the ethicists, philosophers and theologians have begun their emotional moral hand-wringing.

Have we, at last, gone "too far?" Will God smite us for our prideful folly? Is there no end to Man's Curiosity and the lengths to which he will go to apply cutting-edge Knowledge to improve all of our lives?

I hope not.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Face Beneath

And when I'm celebrating a week in which I have not let events remote in their distance in space, time or attachment to me monopolize my emotions - Proud that I've focused on here and now the things I can touch and fix the things my tools are made for - I'm confronted by a Tragedy that isn't Breaking News on CNN and won't require acts of Congress or the ministrations of the Powerful.

Suddenly that Tragedy is a woman whose name I know, whose Husband I know, whose two beautiful boys I've met - all of their names in my head. This Tragedy who helped to clean the place I call home before I moved down from Minnesota, who probably painted with her tiny hands the walls I hung my pictures on - this Tragedy sits not six feet from me and in two broken languages we discuss her double mastectomy and the five metasticized tumors in her face and neck. The five tumors that they've found for now.

This Tragedy has no family in Texas aside from the American she married and the two little American boys both in school - one Kindergarten the other First Grade not enough space for the Big Brother to be much bigger. As she smiles and says it's going well except for the three or four days after each chemotherapy and indicates with her tiny hands the locations of the tumors in her neck and faced, memorized and counted out like knowing the moons of Mars. I begin to see a face behind the tiny smile that faces me and suffers my Spanish as I try to anticipate her English as if I could draw it magically from her soul.

This face beneath is not smiling at the nice man who asked about her health and her children in school. It is looking into a sunny sky on this grey day and someone is holding this Tragedy and calling her by her given name - Maria Theresa. They are holding her and whispering to her to shed the silly wig it's too hot outside. Besso, she is kissed and held. The sun is warm on this face and I see in it a longing I seem to understand.

This Tragedy, Maria Theresa, concludes her business with us and walks away, folding the check she'd been written with her tiny hands and taking the warm sun on her face into the grey and rainy day.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


by Edgar Allan Poe

TRUE! --nervous --very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses --not destroyed --not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily --how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees --very gradually --I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded --with what caution --with what foresight --with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it --oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly --very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this, And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously --cautiously (for the hinges creaked) --I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights --every night just at midnight --but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers --of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back --but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out --"Who's there?"

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening; --just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief --oh, no! --it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself --"It is nothing but the wind in the chimney --it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or "It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel --although he neither saw nor heard --to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little --a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it --you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily --until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open --wide, wide open --and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness --all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense? --now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man's terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! --do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me --the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man's hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once --once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eve would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye --not even his --could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out --no stain of any kind --no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all --ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o'clock --still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart, --for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled, --for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search --search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct: --It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness --until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew very pale; --but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased --and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound --much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath --and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly --more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men --but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed --I raved --I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder --louder --louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! --no, no! They heard! --they suspected! --they knew! --they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now --again! --hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! --tear up the planks! here, here! --It is the beating of his hideous heart!"


Tuesday, October 20, 2009


This 15 foot "Ham Radio Antenna" has suddenly appeared on my neighbors roof top. Ham Radio Enthusiast my Dear Aunt Bitty's Humped Neck. I believe he converses with 'foreign entities who mean us no good.' I bet he could contact Iraq or Iran or the Ayatolla Great Leader Blessed Kim Jong IL his ownself.

Between you me and the cat, he isn't a "
Traditional American" if you get my drift. He and I sprang from different Creation Mythologies. I doubt he'd know Jesus if they was in line at the Walmart's Self Check-out.

I will keep my eye on him. I understand our Government still pays for us to turn in Un-American Activities that we observe. Even under the Hussein Obama Administration... stay tuned.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I have been terribly absent from the epistle for months now. Some of my distance has come from an increased participation in Social Media and Online Communities. Okay! I have a face book and twitter problem. The most I've managed here and on LIVE WRONG AND PROSPER are clever creations of other people and a couple of overly easy gags.

I'm not sure that there's anything I can offer now but that information. I don't feel like I'm sitting on a project or projects that are just screaming to be written. There are a half-dozen 'ideas' - some with pencil outlines - idling in my brain now. I don't think I'll stay 'Socially Spent' forever. I usually bore myself back to my favorite topic... myself.

I appreciate your attention,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


When Bush went "soft" it was Dick's job to "stiffen" him.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Two Stanzas So Far


Someone said there's a place in my Head where the Living and the Dead carry on discourse.

I denied that anything inside could be forced to provide any proof of being in there.

Then the giggle of the Chorus who had gone so long before us burbled up through the porous part of Me I call my Mind.

Laughing they said that I'd made my Bed and to argue with the Dead proved me Madder than I'd feared.

I inhaled my Dread realizing I'd fed my Sanity on the Bread that They couldn't really be there.

Once again the Chorus giggled as upon my chair I wiggled and the line I drew grew squiggled between Them and Me.

So misled - so many Years I sought a Thread to follow backwards in my Head to take me to my Source.

Then I fled, the Mark of Cain upon my head. Which was oddly God's protection since my Brother now lay Dead.

I denied that I was Filthy Screaming "I cannot be Guilty!" yet the One who knew my Truth had Loved me more than I could fathom.

Then the Sinless Self-Professors told their Lies to their Confessors and as One pointed fingers at my Guilt. Shouting DAMNED!

Laughing they said that I'd left my Brother Dead and for me there was no Heaven. It was Hell that I should Dread.

I cried until I bled. I beat my chest. "My Life Instead!"

Once again the Chorus sounded while my beating fists still pounded but the words they said resounded through the Torment in my Soul.

Peace instead. So many years you have ahead to follow forward as a thread to bring you to My side.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Creepy Little Left-hand Stigmata Wound

Creepy Little Left-hand Stigmata Wound sat slouched in the towel I'd wrapped it in making soft sucking sounds to itself - rhythmic, almost musical. It continued, the only sound in the room, until my curiosity overcame me, "Tell me, " I ventured, "do tell me, Creepy Little Left-hand Stigmata Wound, how I can ring me up some Jesus to rain down on my head? My spark is stuck in the flesh-web in my brain. I need me some Jesus to rain down on my head."

Silence broken by the sucking sound the wound made - rhythmic almost musical. The next voice was not my own.

"You are SO human!" my kitty cat uncurled in the space beneath my chin and giggled, "Oh SO human and SO all alone! Calling out for the one thing that's never left you. Pity Man, so sure of himself and yet suspended over the gulf of Eternity - his Forever teeters first one way then another."

As usual my kitty cat made more sense than a kitty cat should but her wise words were instantly lost on my slippery soul so again I ventured, "Tell me please, Creepy Little Left-hand Stigmata Wound, tell me HOW I can ring me some Jesus to rain down on my poor head?"

It made a smack, its red-ringed mouth slippery as I bled, then silent a second it seemed to think.

"Listen to itself it must!" Its voice a moist, hoarse whisper, "The jug of wine calls out it thirsts! The dinner dies of hunger!"

The "h" in "hunger" bubbled blood, so absently I wiped it clean. My kitten laughed her meowing laugh to fill the awkward moment.

"From Paradise it banished its silly Self! (said banish-shed, Shakespearean)." Smack smack - it giggled? - then it fell mute, its riddle slowly forming like the scab that dried on my forearm. It had drizzled blood since early morning.

For an instant I might have understood, epiphany triumphant. Then Fear, my favorite feeling, Father of all the Others, overcame my clarity. It was too easy, a trick - might I be the source of my own Eternity? In my horror I cried, "Too simple! It must be Complex, a snarl of rules, a list of Steps!" I shook my arm in anger and the Creepy Little Left-hand Stigmata Wound seemed to cough, the blood flow increasing,"I have been taught to believe in a Chosen few, no Infidels allowed! The Diverse made Same Forever and Ever, Amen."

"Man's Rules, not God's!" It raised its voice. I blinked back tears.

"If true," I whispered,"then all I've learned of Grace and God must be replaced. All my Doing wasted. My frantic quest to be redeemed. My spark alone enough for Heaven's gate - not earned but given - a Loving Fate."

"Mm Hm, " it hummed, my Kitten purred. The Universe buzzed around me.

The Fool, in tears I spoke again,"Please tell me, Creepy Little Left-hand Stigmata Wound, tell me HOW I can ring me some Jesus to rain down on my poor head?"

My Lesson lost, I begged a task, assignment, cost, some work to do to earn it. My Kitten ceased her purring, spun a circle curling up with her ass dismissively in my face. Among the three of us I was the least enlightened.

Suck-suck, suck-suck - rhythmic almost musical. Creepy Little Left-hand Stigmata Wound sat slouched in the towel I'd wrapped it in making soft sucking sounds to itself. The only sound in the room...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

antarctica smells like feet

If you are currently in Antarctica, or know someone who is, please leave a Comment or direct your Antarctic friend to my blog. In 3 years I've "pinged" on every continent but the one at the bottom of the world.