his time of year there is much talk of Seasons and Greetings and Winter and Weather. Especially if your T.V. only gets The Weather Channel. And you leave it on day and night. You will probably dream about the weather. In which case, you should turn it off. Weather dreams can leave you soggy or windswept or baked like a loaf of bread.

Speaking of off, I see that the title of this poetic ramble (and by ramble I mean reflection) has to do with being off. This is a topic I happen to know something about. Unlike the weather, which I know nothing of until it hits me. Well, occasionally I might hear the tap of rain on the roof. Or the whistle of wind past the window. Otherwise I haven’t a clue what’s going on out there while I’m in here, submerged in my writings, isolated from the elements, lost in my own little world, bowing to the machine at my desk. I turn it off to sleep. But is it really off? Maybe it comes on again and observes me. Hence the phrase “computer monitor”. Diabolical! Perhaps I should sleep with one eye open just in case!

Or maybe when I turn it off, I switch myself off too because so much of my life is spent these days in front of its screen.

All right, I am probably not ever going to sleep again as soundly. And will lie awake questioning just how off is off. Perhaps this proves that I myself am a little off, even when I’m wide awake. But then we never completely turn off our brains. That would be suicide. It’s like trying not to breathe. We must maintain a degree of onness. Upon some level or plane, we have to remain functional. And so it goes for the machine. Unless I yank its plug, render it null and void, diminish it to a box or device. A mere object. But somewhere inside there could be a glow, a speck, a battery. A teensy one would do. So small it’s practically the thought that counts more than the energy. Yes, I doubt that it would be completely off. Only if I swung an axe a number of whacks and reduced it to bits and pieces. Plastic rubble. Only then.

But how could I be certain?

What if the shallowest slightest spark existed, a scrap of power? A hint, a glint of a surge? What if I pulverized it to powder? That should do the trick! But do not atoms hold charges? “Impossible!!!” I scream like a silent alarm.

So you see . . . I wouldn’t really do that to my computer, for what would be the point? I mean, exterminating some phantom red eye that never blinks! Crazy, right? Doesn’t matter if it watches me or not. Whether the machine is truly off or still infinitesimally on. No, that doesn’t matter at all!

Sometimes things don’t really count, it’s just the principle of it. We’re disturbed in an under-the-skin fashion. Unlike the loom of an enormous icicle hanging directly above your head on a sun-drenched day. Which could actually fall off. Yes, there’s that word again. It could plummet off the overhanging roof and, as luck would have it, plow right into your brain. Now what would be the sense to that? It would make no sense whatsoever, which is precisely my point. A point, in fact, as sharp as the tip of that stalactite. Because nothing would make much sense to you anymore, I’m afraid, with a crystalline spike lodged in your skull. Wow. Not a very cheerful thought.

Could the New Year be to blame for my mood? This standoffish or rather sit-offish (because I am seated) state? I am ordinarily extraordinarily a trifle introverted. Nonetheless, perhaps I should get off my duff, drag myself away from my desk, and go do some living again. Is that what Two Thousand Twelve is hinting to me? Maybe it’s right. Maybe I should kick off my slippers, slip on some actual shoes, and step off the beaten path to do all of those undids and undidn’ts that I never quite got around to when I had the chance.

On the verge of transition, that shimmery moment between the old and the new, we find ourselves making pledges and resolutions, reaffirming our faith in ourselves and our commitments to others. Believing we can be a step closer to the apple of our mom’s eye, the ideal image we or another holds dear of us.

I am sensing a shift. A monumental awakening and breakening of barriers, the obstacles and obstructions and burdens that have frustrated or vexed, held me back, weighed me down like a ton of stone and thwarted my progress for so long. Perhaps this will be my year to shine! The year I’ve been waiting for my entire life! Perhaps this is it!!!

Oh terrific, just before the world is about to end??? That figures! That is so typical!

Now I’m just ticked off. And yet I am always a bit off. Did I mention that? If I did, I think it bears repeating.

Still, I do feel strangely optimistic. Things are going to get better, I’m sure of it. I have seen a twinkle or two of hope. Twenty Twelve it may be, but do not despair. It’s not like it’s the end of the world!

Without further t’do, I present several poems about offness.

Troll Doll

That impish grin, the wild stare

The tufts of gaily-colored hair

Bright orange or purple, lime or pink

Standing straight, a geyser’s drink

All mask a soulless plastic clone

Whose flesh is tough as bark or bone

Whose bite is worse than cobra spit

There’s little substance, not a whit

Parading shameless all to see

Absent a speck of dignity

A Troll Doll’s eyes will penetrate

Delve and drill beneath your pate

To wily use what dredges up

With cunning greed your brains to sup

The Troll Doll’s hunger is inherent

Its machinations so apparent

And once it has its hooks in you

There isn’t much a fish can do

But gasp and struggle to escape

With flailing fins and mouth agape

Beware this dolly else be lost

Steer clear of trolls at any cost

They’re after any they can grasp

By deathgrip or a friendly clasp

They sneak about with ample ease

Then bait and wait or cast and tease

If you are captured in a net

Flung by a troll that you’ve just met

Run for the hills, don’t hang around

Be sure to stay on solid ground

And never ever turn your back

Or you’ll become a Troll Doll’s snack.

graveyard of ghouls

Above the bones of the dead we tread

Missing and mourning, moved on past grief

How tragic and hollow we feel their loss

As if the work of a master-thief


Yet some plots do remnants bear of madmen

Stuck out from the crowd like a spotted giraffe

Love and terror both left their marks

Engraved on our psyches, an epitaph


In the graveyard of ghouls, no flowers grace

Its overgrown brambled unkempt terrain

A garden untended, returned to Nature

This is the monster’s final domain


Here lies a man who murdered his wife

He cherished her up to the day she died

Then sawed and diced her to tiny cubes

And not one tear he cried


In this grave rotted a deplorable serpent

A human constrictor who strangled for hate

The Shoelace Slayer, they caught him red-handed

Alas, thirty victims too late


In this tomb reclines a heinous bomber

Who planted explosives where throngs convened

Whose mass-destructive tendencies

Were but sneak attacks by a heart gangrened


Along this lane, a vicious woman

Who backstabbed others for jealousy

Her rages were private, but then she got mad

Which led to some bloodcurdling agony


Right here we have “The Smiling Bandit”

A man who lured kids to his room

He played with them and made them weep

Then introduced them to their doom


Beside him reposes a callous merchant

Who peddled innocents for a price

Another caused fourteen nuns to bleed

Plain and soft-spoken, he seemed so nice


Over this way is an unemployed father

Who one day hacked up his family

For loving too much, when he couldn’t feed them

He put them out of their misery


Such types of villains seem inhuman

Like the happy matron who baked pot pies

Humming a merry tune while she served them

Until someone asked what meat they comprise


There are many other malignant spirits

Reclined in coffins of unhallowed wood

These ogres are not purely works of Fiction

You may find them in your neighborhood.

a zombie in the closet

(Originally published in the Panic Press anthology DEADICATION)


Back when I was just a kid

One thing at night I always did

Was leave on every single light

And keep the closet shut up tight


I’d check that nothing lurked below

My bed, because you never know

There are some awfully awful things

That creep or crawl or spread their wings


Yet I remember late one night

When I was given quite a fright

To hear a lurkish moan behind

The closet door, what would I find?


Tiptoeing from my bed I went

In hopes that nothing should be bent

That it might just be childish fear

Imagining what isn’t here


The door stood slightly open now

I steeled myself then had a cow

The door swung wide would soon reveal

I was to be a zombie’s meal


I ran to tell my mom and dad

Who wouldn’t listen, never had

When crying of the things I’d see

At night when there was only me


This time it happened to be true

A zombie in my closet’s new

Mom praised that I should be a writer

Go back to bed, things would look brighter


So off I went for one last time

To live this tale and spin this rhyme

The zombie made me go insane

But at least he left me half a brain


And here I sit in a rubber room

Folks think I’m crazy wreaking doom

The doctors can’t explain my need

To slurp gray matter when I feed


I’m turning them to clumsy beasts

Who lurch and slobber at brain feasts

It isn’t my fault I’m impaired

Please come inside, now don’t be scared


I’m glad that zombie snacked on me

Just look how lucky you will be

I think you’ll like it walking dead

With half a brain left in your head.

The Ballad Of Grim Garrett

One wistful somber glum-drenched eve

A lonely sordid heart did grieve

A lady fair just laid to rest

The flutter stilled within her breast

This man had never held her close

Yet mourn he did, his face morose

For he had loved her from afar

And could not bear the worms to mar

His object of undead devotion

Grim Garrett mixed a voodoo potion

To reanimate her at Midnight

He set aside disgust and fright

Unearthed the grave with spades of soil

Then cracked her coffin in his toil

And sprinkled dust upon the dame

He didn’t even know her name


Their first date was the funeral wake

At which he wept, her hand did take

And though her touch was stiff and cold

He pledged so dearly would he hold

Her hand in marriage after life

He vowed to make her corpse his wife

Thus late that twilight did he creep

Into the cemetery deep

By veil of fog and inky dark

He dug her up, there was no spark

Until he cast the spell he’d brought

And with Black Magic blithely wrought

He summoned her back from the dead

There was no thought inside her head

This mattered not, he loved her soul

A body rose but was not whole


Grim led her home down dimmest lanes

The zombie stumbled despite his pains

Her posture awkward, stiff, ungainly

And yet he loved her quite insanely

With one foot in, one out of the tomb

She unlived in his dingy room

He called her Bride, Beloved, Beauty

And swore to cherish his waxen cutie

Grim Garrett’s heart beat for her sake

Though she could not one more breath take

Her flesh would rot if not for varnish

From head to toe she gleamed with garnish

They danced a bumbly wedding shamble

Grim chained her leg to never ramble

She would be lost without protection

Was spared by loving resurrection

While he grew old and died, not she . . .

They burned her like an effigy.

~ Published ~
December 31, 2011

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