Am I supposed to believe
That the Humble Narrator
Committed all of those ghastly crimes,
Survived the wretchedness of prisons
In what might have been the cure
That removed from his only likable joy
Classical music and induced sickness
When the violent tendencies arose
Was able to be deprogrammed
So his worst nature would reveal itself again
Only to realize that his awfulness
Was only really the product of youth, that
He simply needed to grow up?

One of the first movies to get me thinking
Involved the Humble Narrator,
At sixteen, I could not understand
Classical music,
Milk as an intoxicating beverage, or
The violence a young protagonist
Seemed hell-bent on inflicting on others.
In my advanced age of maturity,
I sill don’t get those things,
Although, when Wynton plays classical, I stop,
And almond milk is good, especially in oatmeal,
But I understand violence, even anger, less and less.

So why is it so hard for me,
An aging, matured person, to believe young Alex
Could figure life out, but about twenty.
Because I can’t,
And if you tell me otherwise
I’ll kick and stomp and pout like I’m a president or something
Until we come to blows,
In an octagon, on an island, with no fans,
For pay per view.
Really, it’s not hard to believe that people mature
And it all ends happily ever after.

I hear Pachelbel…

Does pasta make you fart?
And what’s up with detox tea,
What’s in it that is detoxifying,
And what does that mean anyway,
Are pasta farts detoxifying
Or just an expression
Of adolescent behavior?

Keep thinking young.

Spring break started today,
School’s been out nearly a month already,
The green is taking over the brown outback
And the renewal of everything
Is in full swing, now.

Except for, well, you know.

Reports say the planet is vibrating less,
Fish are back to the canals,
Whales are seen by the shore,
Goats are coming down from the mountains,
Pollution is dissipating,

People are staying inside…

Are viruses Mother Nature’s fail-safe button?
Does she see the calamities we cause
And then let something out
To remind us that we are caretakers?
The realists are yawning, right now.

Still, I wonder.

One runner,
Six bikers not drafting,
One dude getting ready to mow
While his kid played with chalk
In the driveway,
Eight people,
That’s all I saw on my run today,
Three hours
And I only saw eight people,
There were plenty of cars,
But no one was out.
Then I had to get food,
Lots of people,
I had on my running hat face thing,
That had part pulled down
So only my nose was covered.
A bunch of kids, like twentyish years old
Had gathered to hang out,
They took their meeting into the parking lot
To rev their engines and try to be normal,
If that’s even possible for twenty-year-old dudes

Weird, it’s weird being out,
Not seeing people,
Seeing people in masks,
Having people avoid everyone
To the point where when they are shopping
They look like the kid in the bumper cars
Who can’t make the car go straight.
They just spin their cart around and around
Panicked that they might get sick,
Probably not thinking about getting someone else sick,
Anything for those Golden Grahams big momma.

How about a mask?
The runners are distancing.
The bikers are distancing.
Can’t an overly loud,
Inappropriately clad, even by Walmart standards, mother
Make a choice that isn’t based on her loudly exclaiming
(Without a mask), “I gotta get my Grahams!!!”
Okay, you are going to get them, but
Could you think about being more respectful of the pandemic
Despite your need for high fructose corn syrup.

Eight people,
Three hours,
No complaints.

Twenty minutes at Walmart,
Just enough time to see people
As they probably always are.

Saturday morning,
The regular coffee is fresh,
Flavorful, more so than normal,
Maybe I’m paying more attention,
Since everything is so wrong right now,
That my brain is recalibrating,
Taking stock, losing its acceptance
Of the cushy life, the rat race,
Training, competitive spirit,
If for only the time it takes
To savor this regular coffee.

Saturday morning,
The skies are gray,
Lighter than before a storm,
Maybe I’m more discerning of grayscale
Since everything is so wrong right now,
My appreciation for the subdued light
Rising with the hope for rain
To wash the pollen away
Creating little currents of yellow
That will allow my eyes to stop itching
And my nose to stop running.

Saturday morning,
The same as Friday morning,
The fresh coffee indulgence,
They non-committal sky,
Mindfulness and allergies,
Each there just like yesterday
As new routines and habits
Become the new way.
Today will pass with another month
Of Saturdays
Before the old way returns.

What is it that I’m doing
With all of this first-person revelry?
Stories of my experiences,
Poems from my perspective,
How am I worthy of such a public rehashing?

I’ve not done anything grand,
Nothing of fame,
Barely anything for myself,
So where do I get off writing about me?
I don’t know…

I went to school for a long time,
Somehow I survived it
To find a career in education.
My political views and religious bends
Have matured over the years

That’s interesting, right?
I’ve raised a family,
Been through the wringer
In a few ways,
Even grown to love Philadelphia.

You see, it’s the interest meter is rising,
No, I know, the Nielsen ratings are not so high
Where my life story is concerned,
But I hope the words spice it up a little
Taking you somewhere different.

Letting you see some of you in what I do
Have done, what I’m writing about,
Because maybe I trigger something you remember,
Something you have done, thought, or dream of
And you smile, laugh, or best of all cry.

That’s it right there,
Why I write in the first person so much,
I’ve got a lot of education, but I don’t know all that much
So I’m sticking to what I’m good at,
Figuring out me.

How do you get from
Chicago IX
With nothing more than
“Fans Also Like”
As a travel guide.
Let me tell you something,
It’s like a Steve Martin/John Candy adventure.

So here’s how it was,
I listened to Malcolm G, again,
Hoping to get my writing chops fine-tuned.
Maybe he helped,
Views and likes are the judges on that, I guess,
But in my search for a story
I decided to listen to

Chicago IX.

And I thought, how many songs
Would I have to listen to
By groups only found in “Fans Also Like,”
To get to AC/DC.
I wish I had written them all down,
I’d have an effen novel right there,
Probably close to eighty-thousand words.

I toiled in the 70s pre-disco clicks for a while,
Falling back into the supergroups of the sixties
And all the mind-bending vibes I grew up with.
The blues took over, grabbing my soul with deep claws,
I kept going backward, getting all the way to Robert Johnson
Where I felt like I might be at my crossroads until
Keb saved the day
Somehow getting me into 90s country,
The dudes…and they leached onto me
Like they had some slick producer orchestrating the list
So I would never get out of Nashville.
I jumped to the women, none of them helped,
I was country and again, just about to quit
When a text came to me from the depths of homebound madness,
A lip quivering message of surviving this pandemic
And trying to keep positive as the pestilence rages
All over the world,
Sa’Tan let me know, others were struggling with the toil
Of doing the right thing
And I found new energy in the devilish one’s predicament.

Hootie, I mean Darius, was my ticket out of Nashville,
And after another twenty or so minutes of clicking in the MTV era,
I stumbled into hair bands.

AC/DC had to be right there,
Vince Neil couldn’t do it. Sebastian Bach couldn’t do it.
Hell, even David Lee Roth couldn’t get me out of my
Self-imposed house of horrors.
Then, with KISS playing in the background,
After an interminable spin through obscure hair sort of metal bands
A fan of someone, it could have been Autograph or Krokus
Liked Jon Bon Jovi.

Oh, God, Bon Jovi, not my favorite band growing up
Van Halen…
I put “Running with the Devil” on, repeat at that,
Clicked “Fans…”

Effing AC/DC!

Looking back, Malcolm’s lesson today,
“Follow Your Curiosity.”

There you go.



How about these last few weeks,
It’s all a bit maddening,
Too much to believe.

After a day of online meetings,
Juried discussions,
And all around bashing of sanity
Where I couldn’t muster the energy
To run,
To ride, or
Even read a book,

I had to get out.

I grabbed my headphones
And took off for a walk,
No dog,
Just me and my music
Which today was a start to finish listening
Of “Born In the USA,”
For reasons unknown at the time,
But man, what a decision,
And who can really know why in the moment?
Experiences need time to percolate
So later they can resonate
On some other level.

The songs did their trick,
Taking away an edge, letting me get back
To the nightly routine,
A little learning, a little writing, a little Netflix…
Only after the learning, my mental flossing
Still felt incomplete.
The edge was returning
And I wasn’t thinking German detective shows
Would do anything to keep my emotional blade
From sharpening.

“Hit Spotify, dude. Clear things out.”

Gladwell said, “Research, to get off the direction
You THINK you are going.”

At least that’s what I think he said
When I was learning.
And if he didn’t mean that, what happened next
Was just an accident, not the process of
A master’s teaching.

I’ve got an idea struggling to get out,
Something about high school, being a senior,
Born In the USA is out,
A bunch of us go out,
And the idea stalls there.


1984-85…Risky Business…Second run theaters…
Survivor…the music group…I Can’t Hold Back…


YouTube…just as I remembered it…yep…
Trains…North By Northwest…Drama Class…


Your blog, stupid…some Bruce posts…
Music is all over the place…it’s important to you…

And here I am,
Old school, wired headphones plugged in
Jamming to Eric Clapton with concert volume
As I work on the kinks in my brain,
Motherless Children on repeat,
Maybe six or seven replays now
And each time he stretches those strings
I feel like he is wringing out the white matter
In my brain
And bringing me back home.

Now, I can move on in this playlist.

Mental Flossing Therapeutic Protocol (as prescribed by this doctor…)

1 complete listening to “Born In the USA” while walking alone

2 lessons of Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass

Writing to the following playlist:

I’m Goin’ Down (Springsteen)
Yell Fire (Franti)
I Can’t Hold Back (Survivor…more on this soon…)
Forever Man (Clapton)
Motherless Children (Clapton…six or seven repeats…flow will hit!)
Good People (Jack Johnson…three repeats)
The Beat Goes On/Soul Bossa Nova (Emilie-Claire Barlow)
Let’s Face the Music and Dance (Diana Krall)