signs, portents, bells (20171109)

seems innocent enough
a holiday display
a single word
with a dozen tiny lights
the word
as seen
from outside
shining in a window

but looking at it
from inside
with the lights turned off
it looks so much like
but broken
or stunted at least
if not shattered

this isn’t
a fundamental or cosmic truth
and i’m not reading
anything into the odd bit of
seasonal dyslexia
or the inside/outside holiday dichotomy

it just struck me
is all

carols (20161220)

christmas carols play on the radio
a classical station
so i don’t get to
hear any bing, frank, mel, or elvis

one wall separates my office
from the garage
allowing me to hear
the washing machine draining
the dryer spinning
tossing clothes on the eco-cycle

i lower my head
to the desk
and strain to hear
domestic music
but it’s all horns
and violins
and the dog obsessively
cleaning his paw

December Open Mic



No, I’m not making personal remarks. It’s that time of year when fat, bearded guys like me laugh maniacally and write poetry about reindeer and snow and yule logs.

Mmm… logs…

So, give me the gift I really want instead of socks or a tie. Submit to the Open Mic.


Santa commands you!

The Skinny:

  1. Record yourself reading one of your own works.
  2. Post it on your site.
  3. Include a link to this site in your post.
    OR Comment on that month’s call for entries
    OR send me a message using the contact form.
  4. I will post a link with your name and poem title RIGHT HERE.
  5. It’s an open mic invitation. NOT a challenge.

Some tips:

  • Go simple.
    I record using my iPhone, then email/share the file with myself. I very rarely edit it, unless I really waited too long to start talking.
  • Want better quality?
    You can get a relatively inexpensive mic on Amazon that you can hook up to your computer. Some of there come with editing software. If I do edit, I use Audacity on the Mac. It’s free and pretty easy to use. There’s a version for Windows, too.
  • Hosting.
    If you pay WordPress to host your site, you can add your audio by clicking on the Add Media button in the post editor. Have the free WordPress? You have options.All of the sites below will let you upload audio. Some will host for free up to a certain amount of storage. (I think with Youtube, you’ll have to upload a movie, but you use a still image and add your poem.)

  • Questions?
    Ask below or contact me using the contact form (up above). I’ll try to help you out!
  • And if you have any tips, feel free to share them!

December 2016


Pleasant Street


Poet Rummager

Post 20151220


So this is prose and rambly, and won’t be very skillfully put down.

Tonight my wife and I went to a local mall. If you live or have been to Southern California (or have ever watched one those news programs about malls and how much money they make at Christmas), you may have heard of South Coast Plaza. It’s been around for years and years, and has evolved apace with the unending passionate consumption South Orange County. When I was a kid, the had a Woolworth’s and my dad would take me to the lunch counter after church for lunch, usually greasy deep fried burritos.

I have no idea how or why Woolworth’s was selling these fake-a-ritos. I’m sure they were the Mexican analogue that Chun King chow mein in a can is to Chinese food. But to a kid, they were good.

That was over forty years ago. Woolworths is long gone. Many stores appeared and disappeared like capitalist fever dreams over the years. Sears has remained, maybe the one and only store to not change. That and the carousel.

Tonight though, my wife and I went to get her an early Christmas present. Spur of the moment thing, something she’s been wanting, but not really asking for. We are weird when it comes to presents for each other. We avoid waiting for birthdays and holidays, and if one of us really wants something, we just buy it and the gift is presented with a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Birthday” even if those events a half a year away. So this was a little unusual, this trip so close to Christmas to buy a present. (Though to be be true to our own natures, there was no wrapping or waiting. She opened the gift when she got home.)

After buying her present, there was no need to rush home, so we walked around. And I discovered, that, without the pressure of having to be there, of needing to find the perfect present or toy without which Christmas would be ruined and our children would have to seek therapy later in life, without that hanging over my head, it was really kind of wonderful to walk around. To see people.

Yes, there were some, rushing, pinched, panicked faces, and I could relate because I have been where they were. But I wasn’t tonight. I enjoyed the happy people who were just enjoying themselves, the kids excited to see Santa, the kids screaming because they wanted to be anywhere else, the couples clinging to each in the crowds, the music, the bells, the lights, the lights, the lights.

The press of people, for once, didn’t bother me.

And for that, for being able to enjoy that time with my wife, I am grateful. And I wanted to say it.

Well, write it.


Xmas Song 20151215

This isn’t technically a Christmas song.


It is featured in a fun Christmas move Elf, which may or may not be to your taste. One thing you can’t fault is the soundtrack, which is infectious, fun, and dammit, just bright.

I needed a bright song the other day, remembered this from the soundtrack, and so now I’m sharing it with you.

Pennies from Heaven, Louis Prima

Story 20151206

When my wife was having a root canal a few years ago, I sat in the waiting room and wrote this. It’s silly, but it was fun. Hopefully, it’ll make you smile.


The Santa Clause

I’d been awake longer than I wanted or meant to. I was being stupid, childish. Everything looked like a blur and my eyes itched. No amount of rubbing them cleared my vision and I couldn’t keep from yawning.

I wasn’t going to make it.

I told myself, stay up a little while, what could it hurt? Just until midnight. Beth shook her head when I told her my plan, and she went to bed without me. If I were her, I would have done the same thing. But midnight came and went. Going to bed then seemed too much like giving up, even though it was ridiculous. Another hour, so what? So I gave it until one, thinking about Beth in there, hogging the sheets, like she doesn’t do it every nigh anyway. I sat on the couch in front of the fireplace, non-operational, picking at cookies and getting sleepy.

Hell, may as well give it until, two, right? But I swore to myself, that’s the limit, that’s the absolute limit.

At 2:36 I felt a little ill from the cookies the boy put out for Santa. Danish butter cookies–you know, the ones in the giant blue tin with the little white papers that rustle so everyone knows your business? One or two would’ve been okay, but I must have eaten two or three dozen, first the ones on the plate, then directly out of the can.

Since Beth went to sleep, the only sounds in the house have the tin popping, paper rustling, and me crunching.

My mouth became so dry, I even drained the glass of milk. Whole milk, no less. Elias insisted on whole milk. “Santa’s fat,” he said, like that explained it. The glass, the biggest one Elias could find in the cupboard, had been sitting out since the kid went to sleep at eight, and had warmed up.

I yawned, not feeling so great, and stretched.

I was too old to wait up for Santa, but I had my reasons.

Good reasons.

But my reasons weren’t good enough to keep my eyes from drooping. I felt them close. Okay, that’s a lie. I know one minute I was awake, and the next I was dreaming.

I hate dreaming. I hate it so much that one time I even tried that lucid dreaming stuff. Just to get control of it, you know? I figured it couldn’t hurt. But all that happened was that my dead grandmother kept showing up–alive, not a zombie or anything weird–and she was shoving naturalist resort pamphlets are me. I took that book in to a white elephant party.

But the dream I had when I fell asleep was more of a memory, like a watching a video, only I could see myself like an actor instead looking out through my own head.

It’s last Christmas. Elias is opening his presents. There’s a ton of paper every place–red, gold, silver, green. A technicolor explosion. And every present is exciting, even the clothes. What does he know? He’s six. But every single box is quickly put aside as he goes searching among the remaining candidates for the ONE, the game-changer, the present every kid in the tri-state area is going to envy him for. The Krusher.

The manufacturer underestimated how popular it was going to be after a one minute appearance on a morning talk show, so no one has it. A late, save-the-day shipment from China had even been hijacked by pirates. Every single store was out of the Krusher before the Thanksgiving turkey had a chance to get cold.

And Elias is certain that he’s going to get it. I give Beth a look and a shrug, and she volleys it back like a tennis pro. We both know what’s going to happen when the last box is opened and there’s no Krusher. All we can do now is hope to be the first parent to get the questioning look so we can blame the other parent for dragging their heels.

Dream over, my eyes snap open. A red blob by the fireplace resolves itself into a man shape, still red and still blobby.


That’s Santa, not me.

I don’t waste any time being amazed. “Last year. The Krusher. That was you, right?”

There’s nothing blurry about my vision now. I see every wrinkle on his craggy old face. He looks pissed.

“Why don’t you just close your eyes and go back to sleep,” he hisses.

I don’t have a problem picking up on the menace. “I want an answer,” I say.

“Tex,” he growls, “you vex me. Tight schedule. Chop. Chop.” He actually makes a chopping motion with his hand, like with an axe.

At me.

I stare, not daring to look away or close my eyes. Or blink. I know if I stop looking at him, he’ll disappear.

“The Krusher.”

“Look. Noah Tuttle. You were seven, you wrote a letter to Santa and asked for a remote control car you knew your parents weren’t getting you. You figured if even though your folks were orthodox, maybe Santa could pull it off. You didn’t get it. I’m sorry, okay? But I got places to be…”

My mouth opens and closes. “How do you–” I have to wave my hands as it settles in. It is Santa. He’s real.

“Not going to close your eyes and let St. Nick get back to work, eh?”

I shake my head.

“Quantum entanglement. Heisenberg. Ring any bells?”

“I watched something on Nova about string theory, once.”

“Christ in a manager. You did, did you? The ten cent version. On Christmas Eve, every particle of my being is in every house where there’s enough Christmas spirit to generate a field to attract it.”


“Call it a Santa particle.”


“So long as no one directly observes me, I can be everywhere I need to be at the same time. Filling stockings. Eating cookies.” He jerks and angry thumb at the empty plate. “My gig, right? But every once in a while one of you Clements catches me in the act and the waveform collapses. That means I’m stuck until the yahoo, you in this case, goes nightie-night.”

I cross my arms. “So, as long as I’m looking at you, you can’t go anywhere.”

“Don’t even think about it, Tuttle.”

“How’d you do it? Get the Krusher, I mean. I have a cousin who’s pretty high up at FAO and he couldn’t get near it.”

He grins, his eyes twinkling. “Ever hear about my pal Krampus?”

“What’s a Krampus?”

“Hairy guy. Horns. Red tongue. Looks like the devil if the devil had a hygiene problem. Beats the hell out of naughty boys and girls with birch rods. If you’re lucky, he won’t throw you in a river.”

I shake my head. My eyes are watering with the effort of not looking away.

Santa grins. “You can’t see him sneaking up on you if you’re looking at me, Tex.”

He looks at something over my shoulder. The hair on my neck gets prickly, like when I eat horseradish. I knows he’s trying to trick me. I know it. But I can’t keep from twisting my head around.

Nothing. No one.

“Sucker.” It sounds like the wind sighing, the shoosh of wet snow around your galoshes.

He’s gone and I’m so tired, I think I fall asleep standing up.

I wake up the next morning and the stockings bulge with things I had never before laid eyes on. In my stocking there’s a little remote control car carved out of coal. Terrific. Everyone’s a comedian.

Xmas Song 20151204

Last year, I posted a Christmas song every day of December. I don’t think that I can repeat that feat, but I will try to post a couple a week at least. I’d like to focus on the ones that make me feel nostalgic, not that nostalgia is always a good thing. But I think for Christmas songs, it works.

Feel free to comment, or post a link to your own favorite song. We can make it a party.

Christmas Time Is Here (Vocal), Vince Guaraldi Trio