Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Kayaking the Wandering Stream

The wandering stream of thought
that runs through your mind
is ever flowing,
and ever changing.
Leave it too long,
and you may not recognize it
when you return.
Its altered course,
its newly carved channels,
its deepening pools,
may cause you to wonder,
“Is this really me?”

The evidence of erosion
may frighten you.
Fond memories drifting away
within translucent ripples
my cause you to chase along the shoreline,
trying to hold the stream still in your mind.
But the stream will not hold still.
You must hold still.
Chasing the stream to its end
where it pours with all others
into an ocean of memories
would surly cause madness.

Sit instead on the sandy bank
in the calm of morning,
and observe the flow.
You will soon understand
that the stream deposits
just as much as it washes away.
It sustains life within its waters,
and along its meandering path.
It turns time with its steady current.
Oh, if we could only stop it,
but we cannot,
and we must not try.

These wandering streams of thought
that run through our minds
ever flowing,
and ever changing,
are for each of us alone
to kayak upon.
And the best we can do
is paddle in the present,
trying not to drift
too far into the past,
or paddle too quickly
into the future.

RLJ - 06/12/2015

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Going to a Funeral

I got up this morning
to continue my journey.
It’s a long goddamned grind it is.
The trip to my funeral I mean.
I’ve been at it for as long as I can remember,
and even before I can remember
when I didn’t realize where I was going;
when I was a toddler wandering aimlessly;
and later riding my tricycle
half the time in the wrong direction,
away from my funeral,
and toward something else.
Toward something I can no longer recall.
Toward something that became
just the memory of a memory.
Toward something that once was
an audible and visual recollection
that repeated itself again and again
in the back of my mind,
and then slowly faded away.
It was a recollection from another life.
A recollection of the end of that life.
The one before this one.
The one in the wrong direction.
But I’ve been pointed right now
for almost fifty years,
walking the zigzag path
toward my funeral,
knowing full well that I’ll likely drop dead
a few days before arriving.
But with the help of the living,
I will show up on time.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Rat-tat-tat-fact! (Alternative Fiction)

I got into an argument the Sean Spicer this afternoon. He kept telling me lies. I tried to be polite, but nothing that comes out of that man's mouth is honest. So I decided to shoot him some facts to set him straight. I loaded up a few rounds and let him have it, “Rat-tat-tat-fact! Rat-tat-tat-fact!” I thought I saw him wince, so I kept firing. “Rat-tat-tat-fact! Rat-tat-tat-fact! Rat-tat-tat-fact,” I continued. But he just stood there. I looked down at the floor. There were fact-casings lying all over the place. Then I took a closer look at Sean. There were dozens of facts embedded in his jacket, but none had penetrated. That’s when I realized the White House Press Secretary wears a fact-proof vest. So in a last-ditch effort to make a point, I looked at him right between the eyes and said, “It is a Muslim ban Sean”. The truth went through and through. No part of his brain seemed to be affected. He finished his beer and left the bar… And left me wondering, what in the world could motivate a man to be so blatantly dishonest.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Goodbye Truth

Alternative facts,
they fall like rain
into gutters of lies
that flood the drains,

causing rivers of hate
to erode the land,
cutting through valleys
and canyons grand,

sweeping the truth
into the sea,
to drift away

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Kitchen Utensil's Christmas

Chapter I - The Meeting:

May I have your attention please? Excuse me. Listen up everybody! Excuse me! Salad tongs, you can save your conversation for later. Thank you. Can everybody hear me? ~~~~~. Okay, good. Now I’ve opened up your drawers and called this meeting for a reason. Knife Block! This concerns you too, so listen up. ~~~~. Alright, thank you.

Utensils of Johnson House: It has come to my attention that many of you have allowed yourselves to become rather disorganized lately - a Spoon in the Fork Tray, a Whisk in Drawer Two… Stuff like that. So I think it’s time for a little coaching session on the basics. I know this stuff is old hat for most of us, but it’s a good chance for you veterans to help out the newbies. I also realize it’s the holiday season and things are a bit chaotic in the kitchen right now, but that’s just all the more reason for you guys to really focus on proper storage habits.

Now, if during this meeting you learn that you’re in the wrong storage area, don’t worry. There will be a break-out session after the meeting where you’ll have an opportunity to move to your assigned area. If you learn that you belong outside of the main complex however, please speak up and you will be excused immediately. Utensils who reside outside of general housing will be addressed separately at a later date.

~~~~~~~. ~~~~? Yes, Tea Strainer, you may be excused. Anybody else?

Okay then, I’ve placed a stack of hand-outs in each drawer. Please pass them around. These aren’t mandatory, but they may help you to follow along better. Share if you need to. You guys in the Knife Block can see all the information here on the chart up front. Okay now, as the chart shows, our main utensil housing complex consists of this main column of drawers by the range, plus the Silverware Drawer over here and the Knife Block on top of the counter.

The top drawer of the main column, colloquially called “the knife drawer”, is properly called “Drawer One”, so naturally the next drawer down is called “Drawer Two”, and the one under that is referred to as “Drawer Three”. The silverware drawer back over… ~~~~~~~~? What? Drawer Four? Well Drawer Four is for Measuring Cups, Cookie Cutters, the Juicer, and some Pampered Chef things that frankly, I don’t understand. So I think we’re better off just calling those things… er I mean, those members of our kitchen community “Implements” rather than “Utensils”. They kind of have their own thing going on down there in Drawer Four, so they won’t be at our meeting today. Now where was I? Oh yeah… The Silverware Drawer. That's over here. Now these four drawers plus the Knife Block are your domain. It’s your community, so it’s up to you to keep it neat.

Okay next, umm.. this can be a touchy area, but it’s important. I want everyone here to know that all Utensils are created equal. However, groups of you do have different purposes and abilities, and those traits determine where you get assigned to live. Now when we’re all cooking together and serving up meals I want everyone to have fun and get along. Just because you sleep in different drawers doesn’t mean you can’t socialize in the common areas; like on the countertop, at the table, or in the dishwasher. Never forget though, there are some very strict rules of conduct that apply to all of you when you’re in the dishwasher. These were covered during your individual orientations, but if you’re unclear on any of the dishwasher guidelines please see me after the meeting. We don’t want any more incidents like what happened over Thanksgiving with Cork Screw and Turkey Baster. ~~~~~~. Yes, I know, it’s sad about the Baster, but that’s why we have rules.

Now let’s discuss our drawer assignments. Drawer One is for storage of sharp edged Knives, including Kitchen Shears, the Steel, the sharp-edged Pastry Server, Apple Peeler, and Meat Fork. ~~~~~~? Oh yes, and flat Cheese Grater. ~~~. That was a recent change, but I think it made sense, and I think we can all get used to it. ~~~~~~~~? Why is Meat Fork in Drawer One? Well because I never use him without a Knife, and I don’t see any sense in… ~~~~~~~~? Okay then, because I said so. That’s why! Now of course the exception to this arrangement is that the Knives of our Chicago Cutlery Regiment are housed in the Knife Block. ~~~~~~~! Sorry, life isn’t always fair Faberware. ~~~. Yeah, the Knife Block might seem like an elitist tradition, but it was a gift, so put on your big boy scabbard and deal with it. ~~~~$#@&~~. That’s enough Faberware. [At this point let the record show that Faberware was removed from the meeting.] Okay, I think that covers Drawer One, so if there are no other questions I’ll move on to Drawer Two.

Drawer Two is home for all of you Serving Utensils who are not Silverware. Oh! I should have made that clarification about the Knives too. Silverware Knives, including Steak Knives and our funny little friend Butter Knife are to reside in the Silverware Drawer, and not in Drawer One. ~~~~~. Oops, sorry Butter Knife. Yes, I know that was insensitive. You’re just as important around here as Meat Cleaver. ~~~~~!! Put a sock in it Cleaver. It’s almost 2017. The world is changing. Hey! Let’s keep it quiet in the Knife Block… Now as I was saying, Drawer Two is for Serving Utensils, like Salad Tongs, Ice Cream Scoop, Big Spoon, Spaghetti Fork, Ladles… Stuff like that. Basically, if your job is to transport food from point A. to point B. you are a Serving Utensil. Everybody got that? It’s pretty basic stuff.

Okay then, Drawer Three can be a little tricky, so please pay attention everyone. Drawer Three is where some of our hardest working and most skilled Utensils live - Like Potato Masher, and Whisk, and the Spatula Team, and Meat Hammer, and Garlic Press, and Wooden Spoon and the whole Bamboo Stir Squad, and Turkey Baster, God rest his soul. ~~~~~? Yes, I’ll try to remember to pick up a new one tomorrow. Anyway, you guys know who you are. You’re the backbone of this whole operation. I know you don’t get shined and sharpened like some of the others, but you guys got moxie, and I like moxie. ~~~~? What? Pancake Flippers? Yeah, that was a tough call. I know Pancake Flippers flip, but they also serve. That’s why they got moved up to Drawer Two last year, and I think it’s working. Besides, Drawer Three was getting overcrowded, so that was a factor too. ~~~~~? Yes, we review these things annually. If you think you’ve been categorized unfairly there is an appeal process. ~~~~~. ~~~~~~? ~~~? Yes I have a form in my briefcase. See me after the meeting.

If there are no more questions about that we’ll move on to…. ~~~~~? No Potato Masher, you belong in Drawer Three. Drawer Two is for serving Utensils. We just covered this. ~~~~~. No, you don’t serve. ~~~~~~~. Yes, you “serve the common good” but you’re really overthinking this. You don’t serve food. You mash it. You’re a masher. Heck, The Monster Mash is your favorite song! Remember making pumpkin pie in October? We listened to that song like three times while you mashed pumpkin meat. ~~~~~! Yeah, that was fun. Mashing is fun, and you’re good at it. So be proud of your station. There’s no shame in being stored in Drawer Three.

Okay, well I think that covers the main column, and the Knife Block, so let’s quickly cover the Silverware Drawer. Now I know you guys get tired of hearing me brag about our Silverware Team, but everybody in the Silverware Drawer is a member of a tight knit squad. These guys are professionals. They all came home in the same box together. They sleep in organized little rows, and they all know their place at a dinner setting. They’re really the A-Team when it comes to organization. ~~~~~. I know Salad Fork, you guys don’t really need to be at this meeting, but this is a team building thing, so I think it’s important. Anyway, to all of you other Utensils - I hear the way you talk about Silverware sometimes, but you all need to realize that they work just as hard as you do. Maybe not physically, but the stress of precision and keeping your shine takes a toll on a Utensil. And remember, this Christmas when you guys are all laying around in the sink, or in the dishwasher after dinner is served, Silverware will be stuck sitting on the table listening to Uncle Frank prattle on until God knows when. So when you’re feeling down, don’t forget what I said earlier, we’re all equal… different, but equal.

In closing I just want to say that we all have a job to do, and we do it best when we’re organized. So let’s get organized and stay organized. Any questions? …Okay then, please pass your handouts up to the front of the drawer. Good meeting guys! Now before I shut your drawers, if any of you think you’re in the wrong place, do not attempt to climb into another drawer by yourself. Position yourself sideways in the drawer that you’re in and wait for assistance. I’ll be around to help you in a minute.

Chapter II - The Post Meeting Report:

As a result of the meeting four Utensils were found to be in the wrong place and were returned to their proper drawers.

After a successful appeal, Apple Corer was upgraded to Knife status and was moved from Drawer Three to Drawer One.

The Turkey Baster position has been filled. New Turkey Baster is fitting in well, and everyone is being careful not to talk about old Turkey Baster in front of him.

During a routine counseling session it was revealed that even though Potato Masher can mash like nobody’s business, the big oaf still dreams of being a server someday. We’re currently exploring his limited options.

Chapter III - Christmas Dinner:

Well Let me just say that I will never think of Big Spoon as a selfish Utensil again. Today at dinner she let Potato Masher serve the mashed potatoes. He did a horrible job, but he had fun. We all had fun. The Silverware reflected smiles from all around the table, and just like at the end of most Christmas stories, we all came to realize that we’re a community. All different, but all important.

[Fade out on Uncle Frank’s audio - Pan camera to dishwasher]

From My Kitchen to Yours,

Merry Christmas

R.L.J. 2016

The Night Before Christmas

(A visit from the Gray Mouse)

'Twas the night before Christmas at the cat lady’s house.
Every creature was purring, except for a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the cat post with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The kittens were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of parakeets perched in their heads.
And Mama in her chair with three cats on her lap,
had just settled her brain for a long winter's nap.
When in the next room there arose such a clatter,
she sprang from her chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the kitchen she flew like a flash,
where a cat was attacking a mouse in the trash.
She picked up the mess, “Oh that mouse had to go!”
right after a nerve calming glass of Merlot.
Then what to her wondering eyes should appear,
but twenty-two cats hauling ass in high gear,
pursuing a mouse so lively and quick,
he could turn on a dime, though the floor was quite slick.
More rapid than cheetahs the felines they came,
chasing after that mouse as she called them by name:
"Stop Fluffy! Stop Missy! Stop Simon and Mittens!
"Stop Patches! Stop Muffin! You’ll wake up the kittens!”
The mouse took a left at the end of the hall.
Hid your eyes now ‘cause fur’s heading straight for that wall!
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
so into the baseboard the felines they flew,
each under the other; yes all twenty-two!
They created a pile of tails, and paws,
and noses, and whiskers, and ears, and claws.
Mama refilled her wine, and was turning around,
when back up the hall ran that mouse, kitchen-bound.
He was just a gray blur as he ran underfoot,
and she yelled at her cats once again to “Stay put!”
But her bundles of joy had begun to un-stack,
and were already planning their second attack.
Their eyes, how they darkened! Their claws, oh how scary!
It looked like a scene from an old Tom and Jerry.
Then Mama’s droll mouth, it drew up like a bow,
and then the Merlot, really started to flow.
With the stem of her wine glass held tight in her grip,
Mama finished her drink in four gulps and a sip.
Her face it turned red, she had air in her belly.
She hiccupped and burped, and it tasted like jelly.
She giggled a bit, then she pardoned herself,
and she reached for some catnip she kept on the shelf.
Then a wink of her eye to a peering gray head,
let the little mouse know he had nothing to dread.
Mama sprinkled the catnip. It went straight to work.
Cats pulled in their claws, and they started to smirk.
The effect of that stuff on a kitty-cat’s nose,
is the same as a couple Merlots, I suppose.
She went back to her chair, to her cats gave a whistle,
and they all climbed upon her, like the down on a thistle.
And I heard her exclaim, as she sank out of sight…
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Melania Trump - Error and Opportunity

I've yet to be critical of our future First Lady, Melania Trump. Mostly I’ve just felt sorry for her, but that will change in a moment.

First, let me say that beyond just being factual, I believe this criticism is justifiable and fair. Secondly, let me assure you that I will not join in with those who attack her for posing nude for the camera. The only relevancy of those photos is that they expose the extreme hypocrisy of Republicans who criticized Michelle Obama's bare arms (i.e. The Taliban wing of the Republican Party).
What is relevant to Melania however, and more importantly what is relevant to her new position as First Lady is that she, like her husband, is a fraud. I won't go into her immigration status, or when she was and wasn't working legally in America, because information on that is being held close by those who have it. Those records, like the Trump family taxes may never be revealed. What I will go into though is her false claim that she earned a college degree, and an impressive one at that.

Shortly after being caught reading a plagiarized speech (not her fault) during the campaign Melania's official professional website vanished from the internet and all attempts to access it were quickly redirected to Now this is the important part - Melania's website, her official representation of herself to the world grossly overstated her educational credentials. It lied. And the lie that proclaimed Melania had obtained a "degree in design and architecture at University" wasn't hidden down at the bottom, or slipped in without Melania's knowledge. It was featured in the opening paragraph, quoted below.

"Born on April 26, 1970 in Slovenia, Melania Knauss began her modeling career at the age of sixteen. At the age of eighteen, she signed with a modeling agency in Milan. After obtaining a degree in design and architecture at University in Slovenia, Melania was jetting between photo shoots in Paris and Milan, finally settling in New York in 1996."

Now even though it's been proven that Melania did not earn a college degree (let alone one in design and architecture) and even though her college record shows that she dropped out in her first year, she has not admitted or apologized for falsifying her resume to the American people, her future constituency. All she has done thus far is post a tweet where she states that her official website "has been removed because it does not accurately reflect my current business and professional interests."

I guess that means the fraudulent claim of holding a college degree only accurately reflected her past business and professional interests. Like I said above, I believe that bare arms and bare breast comparisons are irrelevant, but I think this comparison is extremely relevant. Can you imagine the attacks that would have come and what the fallout would have been if Michelle Obama had been caught claiming to have a college degree that she didn't even come close to earning? It would have been on CNN for weeks and she would have been ruined... But all we hear are crickets.

Now I don't want to tar and feather poor Melania over this, but she absolutely should have to answer for it. And maybe this could be a teaching opportunity for her. If she really wants to make it her cause to reduce bullying in America (as she has hinted) then she can start by teaching bullies that they should accept people for who they are, and she can teach victims of bullying that who they are is okay… They don’t have to pretend to be more than that.