hat is the answer. So what is the question? What’s on my mind? I think not. There is generally some absurd notion or other ping-ponging in my head, bouncing off the inside of my skull. What’s up? More preposterous still, for there is so very much up, so very much out there, whether going on around us or dangling suspended above us in the cosmos. Is it what you’d reply prior to taking a backseat daredevil spin down a mountainside in a motorless go-cart if somebody asks, “What do you hope to gain?” We all do foolish things. As an author I remain recklessly unknown fundamentally because I believe talent and skill should speak louder than promotion, that recognition should come as a result of writing not peddling my books. Time is an enormous factor for me with everything, especially that. As a person, I try to do and be better, to grow from mistakes and not repeat them. It just seems to turn out like an upside-down cake. That fell and got smooshed. And accidentally stepped on. And had to be scraped off the floor. Oh, and then it was left out in the rain.

But in the midst of life’s little immeasurable alps and ravines, do you ever find yourself wondering: Where am I going with this? I mean, seriously. Because I ask myself that a lot. Or at least I do recently. Before, I accepted what Fate handed me with a spoonful or two of salt, sometimes sugar, and went on my merry (more likely not-so-merry) way.

Now, for some indefinable reason that I know not, it’s different . . . Unholy-moly, get-the-lead-out, do-the-Watusi different. Maybe I’ve evolved to the point where I’d like to exercise rational judgement rather than find myself swept along going with the flow — whether being a victim of some sort, or doing what’s proper, or living by the Let’s See What Happens Next philosophy.

Take it from me: If you’re used to things being topsy-turvy, in some random state of upheaval, it skews your perspective. Makes it difficult to know if you’re proceeding straight or crooked or flat-out too fast for your own good. When things fire at me too rapidly I tend to duck. I panic and flinch and cower, hide my head in the sand, burrow underground a spell, until the surface slows to a safer speed where I can think and focus . . . I like to stay focused. The blurs freak me out. And yet some blurs, the rare moments when everything seems to happen at once and go well for a change, can downright exhilarate!

Velocity isn’t the problem at present so I don’t even know why I brought it up. What’s troublesome is that I’m not in control. And for once, it isn’t the lack of control you feel when Misfortune calls your number and you’re next in line to give your subsequent pound of flesh. It’s more of an “I know what I’m doing is nuts yet I don’t really care!” situation. I can’t take the wheel, I’m too nervous to drive. I can’t convince myself to apply the brakes. I’m simply wearing my seatbelt and hanging on as the hotrod I’m in careens wildly forth.

There always has to be an eventual down-to-earth conclusion to these things, whereby the giddy cruise of circumstance must arrive at some finite base or brick wall or other assorted obstruction. A devil-may-care landslide of a ride cannot go on forever, as childhood cannot last. But while it does, I’ve been enjoying the wind in my hair.

Maybe I needed to let loose, experience the blissful abandon I’ve missed out on so much. Too soon I must get back on track and behave like I oughta. Face the pressures and complications of my world.

Who am I trying to kid? Being solemn and dignified won’t erase the craziness of my past any more than it can guarantee consistently bright tomorrows. And anyway, I love a gloomy day! I don’t want to do what’s expected or allowed! I want to do the nonpredictable and unconformist. I want to fly off the handle without a paddle and swim against the stream without a parachute! Instead of dropping out of it, I want to freefall upwards into the sky on a column of quintessential exuberance! I want to break from the mold and mildew of my boxed-in locked-down existence and live, because every precious fleeting instant flitting by is gone forever, and the next could be my last, and I’ve wasted too much time already not doing all that I am capable of while actually having fun! Not being where I truly belong, where I’d be happiest (that involves trees). It has nothing to do with success. It’s about decisions and choices. To some extent, we can determine our own fates by making the right ones.

Oh sure! the left ones refute. Except if you’re flat broke! Or broken! Or both!

I can’t argue with that logic, but I can ignore it . . .

It’s like the rush of inspiration from a feel-good movie. I’m surfing that kind of wave. I don’t want the euphoria to end. I want to remind myself daily that there is more to life than typing at a machine. But there are books to write and edit and release. There are so many uncompleted projects piled up before me that sometimes the clutter can overwhelm. I love to write, need to write. It’s a passion, part of who I am. And yet, the excruciating poignancy of the things I haven’t lived — things undone, unfelt, unshared — gets in the way and slows my steps toward progress. Does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t I have it all? That is my eternal internal struggle. The balance of Art and Life.

Maybe this is why artists must suffer. If they are too content, they would put other things first. The need to express oneself is far more urgent in pain. When truly happy, in love with life, that joy is nearly all one can think about. At least for me as a horror author, perhaps my greatest inspiration springs from torment. Although, being ecstatic and tortured together poses an exquisite clash of satisfaction battling despair.

I can create while placid, but is it my best? Might I achieve the same highs in peace as in conflict if I draw upon the past? Or is my art the reason why so many things have to go wrong? It makes a handy platitude for consoling myself. Yet I cannot concentrate any better when I am too troubled, in the thick of turmoil. Once it subsides a tad, my words sizzle out and sear the page. I reckon it’s the same with elation.

I frothily believe that not everything we do needs to make sense. At times I merely wish to be silly. Then Reality bites and a chunk is missing and life goes on. I have learned, due to my history, that sometimes wrong things happen and there’s nothing right about it. Nothing. But there are also occasions when good can arise, or was had from the bad.

As often transpires, I have arrived at entirely no conclusion in the debate of Nothingness with myself. Is it too late to retract my statement? Or am I stuck with it like an impulse purchase? Not knowing what I had in mind, what the heck I was thinking, yet here it is and I have to deal with it! Or cram it in the closet. That door has to open someday, and then I must confront an avalanche of shoved-aside huddled muddled matters. Unless one is innately good at avoiding issues and doorknobs. Which I like to think I am.

Oh wait, the impending crash came as it was bound to. The sum of Gravity plus Solidity-Squared equals Rock Bottom. It was inevitable. I ran out of distance and slope and there was nowhere to go but down because it was going nowhere. Guess I’ll have to start climbing the next hill. It’s a steep one.

Here then is some verse that might be about nothing, or may be about another thing that has nothing to do with nothing at all. Whatever it’s about, I assure you I had nothing to do with it. Or maybe I did. I admit nothing. Nothing! I say. Only that life is full of madness and folly, and your best defense is a sense of humor. In lieu of that, I suggest donning a pair of clown shoes. At least they will make you smile.


What exactly is nothing?

Is it the same as zilch, a speck less than zero?

Is it the sound that reverberates in silence

Or what may daunt the heart of a hero?


There are numerous explanations

For my simple askance, this humble query

Yet just one that bears the ring of truth:

The tale of Contrary Mary


Born in a village to a family of know-it-alls

The question plagued like gum on her soul

That her foot stepped in and smeared about

In her mind was left a gaping hole


Everything palpable Mary deemed nothing

For that was her favorite word it would seem

Toward intangible anythings, Mary was mute

Disavowing their presence as if a mere dream


The girl’s gray mood vexed the town’s best quacks

“Not enough glucose!” cried they. “Too much salt!”

And proclaimed her nonplusence and minusing peakish

An iron deficiency must be at fault.


“Why can’t you be normal? Why won’t you conform?”

They repeatedly grilled her to Mary’s dismay

She wouldn’t accept their insistent perspectives

Declaring she had nothing about nothing to say


“That’s very unheard of, and rather far-fetched!”

Her parents deplored and her brother eschewed

Thinking Mary quite weird with hair knotted in tangles

Disagreeing with everything struck them as rude


Other children were mean and viciously teased

Chanting Mary was crazy and looked like a mop

They taunted and ogled and called her a witch

To which Mary responded, “I’ll make your eyes pop!”


The contrary girl concocted a potion

A scare tactic, surely, to leave her alone

But a day or so later the gawkers were blinded

Sockets bloodied and vacant; the ill stares had blown


As the townspeople met to deliberate

All judges and jury, hotly riled up and tense

They asked the girl why, what on earth was she thinking?

And Mary said “nothing” in her own defense


“I asked nothing from them and did nothing wrong

To earn such ridicule as they gave me!

I’ve been poked and examined for never agreeing.

Since my opinion counts nothing, then that it shall be!”


Her victims were led to face their accoster

Yet had “nothing” to utter on the witness stand

Having seen the light, so to speak, without sight

They could finally view nothing up close and firsthand


The village was shocked by the girl’s refusal

To bend or mend or end her ways

The verdict was guilty by unanimous vote

And Mary was locked up the rest of her days


The nights she slipped out to cavort by moonlight

In dreams she skipped freely and frolicked at will

By day she did nothing but rock in a padded cell

Asleep she roamed widely and couldn’t stay still


Contrary Mary would never acknowledge

That she was guilty of a hideous deed

She always objected to every straightforward

And only said yes when there was no need


Whether nothing is something as Mary contended

Or is purely the opposite might not be proved

But if you think of it, Nothing could just be real

Unglimpsed by most ’less the eyes are removed.

plain peculiar

Am I a wibble or a wobble?

Does it really even matter

When so much of what I do

Amounts to little more than patter?

Keeping quiet leaves me lonely

Shouldn’t I just raise a clatter?

But I can’t turn inside out

Because there’d be a lot of spatter


Beauty can be very shallow

When there isn’t much within

A flawless face is but a mask

That may conceal an evil jinn

There are those who think of nothing

But to lure and twist and win

Seeking only their own profit

For their hearts are made of tin


There are predators and vampires

Who prowl the street in waves

Or invade your mind through magic

From the darkness of their caves

Trusting strangers leads to peril

Meeting sirens, trolls, or knaves

It’s a fright to venture forth

Without a bundle of sharp staves


It’s much easier doing nothing

To retreat into a shell

When you’ve never known much better

It becomes a private Hell

From the life I stumbled through

And the times in which I fell

But between the fears I can’t outrun

I’ve many tales to tell


Were I a brook then I could babble

And not be dubbed a talkalot

I suspect I might be human

Not sure if that’s the best or not

A stream at least is apt to travel

Instead of sitting in one spot

I’m not getting anyplace

As if this chair is my grave plot


You could say I’m plain peculiar

For it’s dubious I would care

I’m a teensy bit unusual

And I’m neither here nor there

I’m no circus act or death-defier

But was an Elvis at the fair

I’m pretty dull yet oddly different

In fact, I’m just extremely rare.


A demon stalking down the road

Complained he had a cumbrous load

I piggybacked him for a while

But couldn’t walk a single mile

A second demon came along

Convincing me I wasn’t strong

Then rode my shoulders for a time

I dropped him to pick up a dime

The third one screeched to help him please

I dragged him clinging to my knees

The fourth was friendly, wicked too

And stole my breath till I was blue

Another demon took my hand

But won’t return it on demand

The next I lent an ear to heed

His sorrows yet began to bleed

He swallowed it and now it’s gone

I’m feeling like I’m just a pawn

Three snarling demons ripped my flesh

The skin looks like a coat of mesh

A brood of them slipped up my nose

Sometimes they tingle in my toes

A pack of them has congregated

Tried to run but should have waited

A colossal waste of energy

I curse my blasted sympathy

You can’t escape the touch of dark

Once you become its evil mark

It’s everywhere you turn to dash

And flows behind without a splash

Conspiring to embrace your fears

Licking up your languished tears

Thought I was doomed to be Hell-sent

My inner demons don’t pay rent

I’ll need an exorcism soon

To cast off every ghoulish goon

Attached to me by perfidy

If only they would let me be!

I’m robbed of faith and out of hope

They’re frazzling my final rope

The outer demons gnash and claw

I’m flayed and feeling awfully raw

It won’t be over till they leave

They’re part of me, I now believe

To sever them I would be cut

And so they chortle, how they strut

While sacrificing someone’s daughter!

I need a cross, some holy water

Or else I must adjust to quaking

With a scourge of my own making

If nothing can be done for me

If there’s no way to set me free

Oh me, oh my, I’m demon-saddled

Half driven nuts, the rest is addled

A sorry plight, I have to glout

Wish I could chase my demons out

There’s really nothing more to say

The wretched things won’t go away!


Anarchy rules between my ears

As Madness reigns a carriage-less horse

Chaos trumpets a brass fanfare

And Mister Ed is a nag, of course

Jesters tumble clad in plaid

Their bells jing-jangling festively

Dwarf and giant acrobats

Performing for nobility

Contortionists are pretzelling

While jugglers toss kids up and down

Cats in hats spin plates on sticks

Madmen do their best to frown

Cymbal-smacking monkeys grin

Giraffes and zebras tiptoe by

Alligators wrestle crocs

Beneath a wavy big-top sky

Flame-eaters gobble birthday cakes

With morons marching out of step

Dancing, waving in a line

Full of effervescent pep

Above on tightropes mock the birds

Giggly sparrows in a row

Chickadees that blat and jeer

Twitter at the fun below

A seaside opera’s underway

Of clams and scallops warbling

While jellyfish hum, drum, and trill

The kind of songs that sailors sing

Pavement vendors sell popcorn

Street musicians start to jam

All going on within my head

It’s madness but it’s who I am.


Lonely bitter emptitude

Fills my soul, an undead mood

The gleamy flickence of a knife

Unseals a vein, the pulse of life

Amid these hallowed stacks of knowledge

Where books line up like brains in college

Red seepage blotted by my clothes . . .

I told myself, “Okay, here goes!”

And sliced away with spots like paint

Scarlet drops of abstract taint

Splatting shelves and spines and pages

The captured scenes of love and rages

Soliloquies and wars declared

The lives and times that I once shared

A stand I’ll take, a brutal statement

Of agony without abatement

Too long have I walked thus unliving

Existing dead and unforgiving

Forsaken by the world around me

What better place to self-unbound be

Than here amongst the voice of Thought?

Such titled tomes have failed me not

My blood like ink stains book and binding

Where answers wait for questive finding

The blade has fallen, damp with rust

My wounds spill out a sea of dust

How pale the shade of porcelain

As color drains from my torn skin

What was I seeking in these aisles?

The memory of a thousand smiles?

With every turn of leaf I merged

Each line imagination surged

Unlike me, written words endure

For nothing can its power obscure

But now it’s time I cease to last

I’ve seen my future, lost the past

These undead tomes will never die

I’ve treasured many, now I cry

The last library closed today

Once bookstores also faded ’way

I’m just a relic who loved books

The real kind, not just for looks

The type you feel inside and out

No box of shadows, wispy doubt

Not words that disappear, turned off

A mere illusion at which I scoff

The times have changed, the world is sad —

Soon none will miss what they never had.

~ Published ~
May 31, 2011

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